LAS VEGAS — The overall quality of play in Saturday’s Summer League game between the Suns and the Blazers was among the best we’ve seen over the event’s first couple of days, and a quick look of the rosters makes it easy to understand why.
Phoenix started four players that played heavy minutes in the rotation a season ago in Kendall Marshall, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, and P.J. Tucker, and Portland similarly rolled out legitimate NBA players in Thomas Robinson, Meyers Leonard, and Will Barton.
While the Suns looked much stronger and more dominant, particularly in the second half, the most impressive individual performance of the game went to Blazers’ rookie C.J. McCollum, who finished with a game-high 22 points, to go along with three rebounds and four assists.
McCollum did a nice job of getting into the lane, and scored on shots like the one you see in the video clip above more than once. None of them came after a sequence as crazy as this, however, as McCollum lost control of the ball, before regaining it and then using a dynamic dribbling display to get away from the defenders and into the paint to convert the pretty floater inside.
In 2011, the Trail Blazers surprisingly fired Rich Cho after only season as general manager.
Cho – since hired and fired by the Hornets – seems to be holding a grudge.
John Canzano of The Oregonian:
That’s a sentiment many people hold toward their former employer. Few say so publicly. That Cho did indicates just how strongly he feels.
Under owner Paul Allen, the Trail Blazers have run through numerous executives. It’s part of the culture in Portland, and it leaves a lot of outgoing people bitter.
Current general manager Neil Olshey ought to be mindful of that.
Josh Allen, a quarterback from Wyoming, could be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NFL draft. But his recently unearthed high school tweets – which include using the n-word with an ‘a’ at the end – are the sports story of the day.
And there’s an NBA tie.
Via Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports:
I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks
— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) June 7, 2011
Damian Lillard went down this same road with LeBron James, and they got past it.
But it would be a little more awkward if the Cleveland Browns – who have the Nos. 1 and 4 picks – take Allen. Then, Allen will face more scrutiny over this tweet – the most innocuous of the bunch.
The Jazz blew a 25-point second-half lead in Game 5 last night, extending their series with the Thunder. Up 3-2, the Jazz are still in control. They can close out in Game 6 tomorrow in Utah. Blow that, and they must return to Oklahoma City for Game 7 Sunday.
But Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell is making it abundantly clear he doesn’t plan to do that.
Gabe Ikard of The Franchise 107.7:
Jake Edmonds of KUTV:
A confident proclamation that rallies his team or youthful exuberance run amok?
The narrative will be decided after Game 6. That’s just how this is done.
From the moment Robert Pera opted to retain control of the Grizzlies and end a prolonged ownership saga, it seemed interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff would remain Memphis’ coach.
Lo and behold…
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Bickerstaff did a decent job before the Grizzlies started tanking. But that was a small a sample, and his prior work as Rockets interim coach was uninspiring.
To be fair to Bickerstaff, those were both difficult situations. He’s an experienced assistant who might be ready for this challenge.
To be less fair to Bickerstaff, this looks like Memphis taking the cheap route. The Grizzlies didn’t appear to conduct much of a coaching search, if any. Nor has Bickerstaff been mentioned with other openings. It probably won’t cost as much to hire him as it would a more-established option.
Memphis seems to be operating under the belief that a healthy Mike Conley and Marc Gasol will right the ship next season. And they might. But given the age and injury history of those two, I wouldn’t assume they stay healthy and productive all season. Even if they do, they’d have to carry an underwhelming supporting cast – with limited room for upgrade this summer – in a deep Western Conference.
The Grizzlies want Bickerstaff, who’d be a first-time non-interim head coach, leading that team trying to win now? That doesn’t seem like the right risk-reward balance – at least until considering his salary, and even then.