2013 adidas Eurocamp: Day 2 recap

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TREVISO, Italy — The camp’s second day was lighter on the competition for the older, draft eligible international prospects, and was focused instead on drills, coaching, and showcasing the younger teams in attendance.

There was only one game featuring the event’s main attractions, and it was used by two Brazilian players to dominate the action.

Point guard Raul Neto and big man Augusto Lima (pictured) each put in 14 points to lead an All-Star team in a blowout of the under-19 Serbian team. Neto did his damage as more of a scorer than a distributor, but it’s easy to see why he is a prospect teams will be keeping an eye on over the next year or two. His ability to create his own shot is to be valued, and he is able to cause havoc on the defensive end of the floor, as well.

Lima was especially dominant on Day 2, after a less than inspired performance the first day.

“I like to compare myself to Anderson Varejao,” Lima told me. “A lot of guys say that about me when we played together on the national team. I think in the future I’ll be able to be even more like him. I try to have more activity than him, but you know. He plays really hard. When I play with him on the international team I try to be like him, but he has much more experience so I’m not there yet.”

Lima, 22, also said this might be his last, best opportunity to show scouts what he can do for them at the NBA level, and he seemed to realize it against the under-developed Serbian team on this second day. He played with that Varejao-like intensity for most of the game, hustling for position inside and dunking the ball four times. He was playing with passion which always is nice to see, and seemed to be enjoying himself out there — even when hacked so hard that he fell awkwardly to the ground without a call from the nearby referee, he sat up with a big smile for a few moments and shared a look with the NBA executives who were sitting courtside along the baseline.

adidas Eurocamp Game #2 adidas ALL-Star vs SERBIA U19 (Day 2)

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Nemanja Nedovic is a strong, athletic point guard from Serbia who was one of the remaining players at Eurocamp that teams were most interested in getting a look at. But after suffering an ankle sprain, he won’t be participating in any more activities. Nedovic looked sharp on the camp’s first day, however, and is projected as a second round pick this year. He will likely work out with teams in the states in the next couple of weeks.

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Timberwolves executive and veteran NBA head coach Flip Saunders was the guest speaker of the day, and put on a detailed clinic that showed players some ball handling and shooting drills, as well as some fundamentals and tricks of playing in the post at the professional level.

Saunders was energetic and engaging, and the players seemed to respond well to his teachings. He got some assistance from both Omri Casspi and Kenneth Faried during his talk, which certainly didn’t hurt his credibility in the eyes of the young international players.

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Serge Ibaka was the third NBA player that adidas had in attendance on Day 2, and discussed the past and the future of his Oklahoma City Thunder team. He said he doesn’t know whether or not the team will retain Kevin Martin in free agency, and discussed how hard it was to end the season shorter than expected after losing Russell Westbrook to injury in the early stages of the playoffs.

“I mean, it was hard,” Ibaka said. “It was tough for us. To lose a player like Russell … he’s your point guard. But it’s no excuse, though. I will not give an excuse for us. It was hard for us, but we tried the best we [could]. It didn’t work, so now the good thing about it is we have all summer to get better and to be ready for next year.”

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It was a rough season for Casspi last year, averaging career lows in all relevant statistical categories, including minutes played. He enters this summer as a restricted free agent, but isn’t yet sure what the Cavaliers are planning to do in terms of making a qualifying offer in order to have the right to match any contract he may receive from another team.

“I just want to be in the right situation, play for the right team, and win — you know, compete for something,” Casspi said. “I’ve been in the league four years now and never competed really in the playoffs, or been part of a winning organization. It’s a big key choosing my next team.”

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A few more notes:

– Kenneth Faried spoke at length about the changes in Denver, and the Nuggets’ earlier than expected first round playoff exit.

– Complete BAM testing results and measurements for all of the camp’s players can be seen here.

– The USA Select team of high school players was once again overmatched, this time getting blown out by the under-20 team from France. Devin Robinson, a 6’8″ forward from Christchurch in Virginia, was the star for the USA team in this one, and did a good job using his length and showcasing his athleticism to make himself a factor on both ends of the floor.

adidas Eurocamp Game #1 FRANCE U-20 vs adidas USA Select (Day 2)

– The camp’s final day features three games in the afternoon session where NBA general managers will get a good last look at the remaining international players in attendance.

Former Cavaliers president candidate Chauncey Billups: Kyrie Irving’s trade request unsurprising, ‘alarming’

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Chauncey Billups declined an offer to run the Cavaliers’ front office. A few weeks later, word emerged Kyrie Irving requested a trade. LeBron James can become an unrestricted free agent and leave next summer.

If Billups dodged a bullet, it wasn’t by luck.

Billups on Altitude Sports Radio:

No, it didn’t really surprise me. Obviously, I knew as they were doing their due diligence on me, I was doing the same thing on them. So, obviously I knew so much about the situation that the rest of the world doesn’t know.

But that’s unfortunate, man, because he’s a special talent. And, in my opinion, so much of what he’s been able to accomplish on and off the floor has been – he’s been a beneficiary of having LeBron James, man.

That would be alarming to me if I was a team looking to get him, because if it’s all about winning, man you’ve got a chance to win every single year, man. Every single year, you’ve got a chance to win.

And not only that, you’re getting the ball still. You’re getting everything you want. You get all the shots you want. You’re playing for a great coach who’s letting you go to work. The game is on the line, they’re coming to you. You’re playing on TV every week.

To me, I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. But everybody has their own desires.

I mean, he’s won a championship already. Maybe he’s saying, “I won a championship. I did this. I did that.” Maybe he wants to be Russell Westbrook, man, and go try to win the MVP and get all the shots.

That’s the only sense I can make of it. And, to me, that doesn’t make sense, because all I cared about was winning. That’s not anything. That’s the only sense I can make out of it.

I didn’t talk to LeBron until after. And I deliberately did that, because I go into a situation, and I’m going into it because of how I feel. And the whole LeBron leaving the next year – I’ll be honest with you: That didn’t bother me that much, and here’s why.

When you have an opportunity to really put something together and put your imprint on it, rebuilding is a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful thing if they’re going to have the patience with you. That really didn’t bother me. What bothered me a little more than if LeBron left or not was that I just didn’t think they had great assets if you have to do a rebuild.

So, it was more that than Bron. So, I didn’t speak to Bron until afterwards, even though Bron and I have always had an amazing relationship.

This adds new insight to a few existing storylines:

  • When did the Cavaliers know Irving wanted to leave, and what did they do about it? If Billups knew weeks ago, acting Cavaliers general manager and eventual long-term general manager Koby Altman should have known, too.
  • Maybe LeBron didn’t leak Irving’s trade request. That’s not to say Billups – who works for ESPN, whose Brian Windhorst broke the story – did. But numerous people clearly knew about Irving’s discontent and could’ve provided Windhorst with information.
  • Perhaps, the Cavaliers’ inability to lure Billups was about more than salary.

Moving ahead, I’m curious how many front-office leaders share Billups’ view that Irving wanting a trade is “alarming” about Irving’s priorities. I think teams positioned to land him will be more enthralled with nabbing a young star than anything else, but the trade request could give them pause.

It would have been very interesting to see Billups handle this challenge if he were in charge. Would he have tried to get Irving back on the same page, as former general manager David Griffin repeatedly did? Or would Billups have seen Irving’s mindset as troublesome and wanted him gone?

Billups’ point about rebuilding, both in Cleveland and generally, is a worthy one. The Cavaliers’ lack long-term assets, because they pushed in to contend for a title with LeBron. They won one, making the payoff well worth the cost. But the bill is already coming due, and coming years could be rough. If ownership realizes that and approves a rebuild, that could lead to tremendous job security and freedom to craft a roster for the front-office leader. But most owners, including Dan Gilbert, aren’t that patient.

Hawks GM Travis Schlenk: ‘We just don’t want to dip down 2-3 years in a row’

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The Hawks let their best player (Paul Millsap) leave without offering him a contract. They traded their second-best player (Dwight Howard) in a salary dump that reduced the payroll only slightly. They also watched other key contributors (Tim Hardaway Jr. and Thabo Sefolosha) depart in free agency.

At least Atlanta could rebuild around Dennis Schroder, Taurean Prince, DeAndre’ Bembry, John Collins and what appeared increasingly likely to be a high first-round pick.

Except the Hawks signed veterans Dewayne Dedmon (1+1) and Ersan Ilyasova (one-year) to contract that help the team this year without providing long-term value.

What is Atlanta doing?

New Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk, via Shaun Powell of NBA.com:

“We want to continue the success we’ve had, but realize we might have to take a step back,” Schlenk said. “We just don’t want to dip down 2-3 years in a row. We realize that young players in this league take their lumps but we don’t want to send the message that we’re (fine) with losing.”

Competitive people involved in running NBA teams and casual fans don’t want to tank. But it seems the Hawks are missing an opportunity.

Their young core is fine, but hardly inspiring. An additional high first-round pick could bring everything together, but Dedmon and Ilyasova just make it less likely Atlanta bottoms out – without significantly increasing the odds of gratifying short-term success. Even in this Eastern Conference, it’s unlikely the Hawks sneak into the playoffs. Picking in the middle of the lottery could doom Atlanta onto the treadmill of mediocrity.

To be fair, the Hawks aren’t reliant on only their own first-round pick. They’re also owed protected first-rounders from the Rockets, Timberwolves and Cavaliers. But only the Houston pick can ever land in the top 10, and it’s just top-three protected for 2018. Most likely, the Rockets win a lot next season and convey a pick in the mid-to-high 20s in the upcoming draft.

Atlanta’s own pick is, by far, the team’s most valuable mechanism for adding premier young talent. But the Hawks have downgraded the value of that pick in the name of not wanting to sink too low in the short term. That’s not a tradeoff I would have made.

Otto Porter says he’s not bothered by John Wall’s Paul George comments

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John Wall said he wanted the Wizards to acquire Paul George, explaining:

“Look at our team. We are one piece away,” Wall said. “We have the point guard, we have the shooting guard, we have the center, we have the power forward. Our 3-man, [Porter], did great for us. You can’t take nothing away from what he did. But, [George] is a guy that can guard LeBron and go back at LeBron. It’s a piece that you’re going to need to win. If you don’t have a guy who can do that, you don’t have a chance. …

You got to add another star. You got to add another piece. You got to have three guys. And that’s what it’s looking like.”

That’s kind of a slight to Otto Porter, no?

Wall said his words created no problems, but that’s not really for him to say. How did Porter feel about it?

Porter, via Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

“We’re talking about Paul George here. If we could get him on our squad? We could definitely contend for a championship,” Porter said after the press conference to announce his new four-year contract worth $106.5 million on Wednesday.

“It’s just motivation. I will continue to get back into the gym. I didn’t take anything personal. I’m just going to continue to go out there and work and play my game,” Porter said.

George is better than Porter. That’s just a fact. So, I have no problem with anyone saying so or proceeding based on that truth.

But I’m also not Porter.

I would completely understand Porter chafing at Wall recruiting George to replace Porter. I’d definitely understand Porter chafing at Wall talking publicly about recruiting George to replace Porter.

Porter so easily moving past this just speaks to his way of quietly contributing. It also doesn’t hurt that the Wizards will pay him about $107 million over the next four years. That buys some willingness to fall in line.

LeBron James denies wanting to fight Kyrie Irving, eagerness for Cavaliers to trade guard

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According to one report, LeBron James wants to fight Kyrie Irving. According to another, LeBron is eager for the Cavaliers to trade Irving.

According to LeBron…

So, maybe there’s a chance LeBron and Irving can reconcile. It’s not too late until a deal is completed.

But it seems Cleveland is moving toward trading Irving, so the clock is ticking.

LeBron might not be inclined to persuade Irving to drop his trade request, anyway. It really seems LeBron wants to stay out of this – or at least give the impression he’s staying out of this. LeBron denying bitterness toward Irving is one thing. LeBron connecting with a teammate who has cited problems with him as a reason for leaving is another.