Thursday Summer League Notes: Dion Waiters puts up some numbers

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The Summer League tournament continued on Thursday, with some teams playing their last game in Vegas. Here are a few notes from the action.

• Dion Waiters finally broke out of an ugly slump with a good half of basketball.

Waiters had been shooting 29.5 percent through three Summer League games, plus he was turning the ball over too much. But Thursday he looked great in the first 20 minutes, hitting making 7-of-10 from the field for 15 points. He looked like what we expected, a guy capable of dominating at this level.

Of course, in the second half he was jacking up contested everything and went 5-of-13 from the floor. So a return to bad form. But he had 27 points on the night so maybe he can build on it.

• Raptors fans, your backup point guard Dwight Buycks has looked pretty solid all Summer League (he’s averaging 10 assists a game), then he looked fantastic on Thursday — 18 points and 10 assists. He was a Marquette player who bounced around Europe and the D-League sharpening his game, and it shows in Las Vegas.

• Another day, another strong outing for John Henson of the Bucks — 16 points, 13 rebounds. He has had a very good Summer League.

• We also could do the “another day, another strong outing” for Jonas Valanciunas 15 points, 12 rebounds and a couple of nice blocks. He was steady and patient when he got the ball on the block and just backed his man down.

• Another guy who has been pretty impressive all week is Golden State’s Kent Bazemore. Thursday was another example with 25 points on 10-of-21 shooting, (although he was 1-of-6 from three) and he grabbed six rebounds. He’s been the best player on an undefeated team in Vegas, which will get you in the Summer League MVP conversation.

• Dallas forward Jae Crowder tweaked his left ankle in the first half of Thursday’s game and did not return to action. Didn’t look too serious, but they are careful with these thins.

• Michael Kidd-Gilchrist sat out for the Bobcats (soon to be Hornets again) on Thursday. No injury, just a day off.

• Friday is consolation game action — 14 teams play, and it is the last game in Vegas for all of them. The eight teams still standing in the Summer League standings resume action on Saturday.

• Along the consolation game lines, the Trail Blazers have said they will sit all their starters Friday.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.