Jonas Valanciunas is one of the leading candidates for Summer League MVP.
He showed up to Vegas filled out in the upper body and then proceeded to be a man among boys averaging 18.8 points on 56.1 percent shooting with 10 rebounds and almost one block a game. He isn’t just bullying his way to the rim, he has shown patient moves, improved footwork, the ability to score with jump hooks, he’s got pump fakes coming out his pump fakes, and if the defense shifts he’s made some nifty passes. It may only be Summer League, but it’s been an impressive run.
And it may be over.
The Raptors may be shutting him down for the remainder of Summer League reports Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.
Word out of Vegas last night was that they are going to shut down Jonas Valanciunas for whatever’s left of the Summer League.
The Raptors are still alive in the Summer League tournament; they play the Suns on Saturday. Win and they advance to the semi-finals, so there could be as many as three Raptors games left. Shut Valanciunas down and there is probably just one.
Valanciunas will be playing for Lithuania this summer at EuroBasket. That will be a good test as rather than playing against boys there will be some real men with size to match his bodying him up.
Raptors fans, don’t go too overboard with Valanciunas’ Summer League performance, but it’s a really good sign of his development that his body and footwork made this kind of jump.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.