It’s a great barstool debate: Who do you want taking the final shot with the game on the line?
General Managers around the NBA say Kevin Durant.
For many years that question was one Kobe Bryant owned in the annual NBA.com GM survey, but for the second straight GMs picked the scoring machine out of Oklahoma City over him. This year 39.3 percent of GMs went with Durant, 32.1 percent with Kobe, while Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James each got 7.1 percent of the vote. (Ray Allen, Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Paul each also got a vote… pray that the GM who would still give Ginobili the ball at the end of the game is not the one from your team.)
What do the stats say?
In the final 10 seconds of a game where their team was +/- three points, Durant was 0-of-5 last season but he did get to the free throw line for nine shots (hitting 8), while Kobe was 3-of-9 from the field and got to the stripe eight times (hitting 7). To throw the other guys in there, LeBron James was 4-of-10 from the field with four free throw attempts, while Carmelo was 0-of-4 with just two trips to the line.
The guy I would give the ball to? Joe Johnson of the Nets — 4-of-4 from the field plus he got to the line 8 times. He’s been clutch. But that Durant guy is still a good call.
This is a huge season — a contract kind of season of sorts — for Noah Vonleh in Portland. The team has an option on him next season (the third of his rookie deal), and to impress people he is going to have to earn minutes at the four in front of Al-Farouq Aminu, Moe Harkless, Meyers Leonard, and Ed Davis.
The Blazers have high hopes for Vonleh, he was a central part of the Nicolas Batum trade with Charlotte. However, watching Vonleh at Summer League — 12 points a game on 46.3 percent shooting, 8.8 rebounds a game in more than 30 minutes a night — he didn’t show the development anyone had hoped to see. He should have dominated at that level. He didn’t.
Now there another injury setback for him.
He should be good to go around the start of training camp at the end of September.
But he can’t afford a slow start in training camp (that set him back his rookie season). He needs to show what he can do from day one, or Portland is going to move on without him.
The Boston Celtics have 16 players with guaranteed contracts and NBA rules allow just 15 players on the roster. Which means if a trade doesn’t happen by the start of the season, someone is going to get cut but still paid for the season.
This doesn’t change that.
The Celtics signed guard John Holland last season (he played a total of one playoff minute for them), but the deal was not guaranteed for this season. From Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
This was expected. Holland, who has played on the Puerto Rican national team, will be looking for a new gig either in the D-League or overseas (it’s unlikely an NBA team offers more than a training camp invite) By the end of training camp, the Celtics also likely will cut second-round pick Ben Bentil of Providence, who had a partially guaranteed deal.
That will leave R.J. Hunter and James Young battling it out for the final roster spot in Boston.
Ty Lawson is headed to the Kings, as first reported on Monday. The team made the move official on Wednesday with a press release, and USA Today‘s Sam Amick offers up another important piece of information: Lawson’s deal is not guaranteed, making it essentially a make-good camp invite.
It’s staggering how Lawson went from a borderline All-Star level point guard in 2012-13 to signing a non-guaranteed one-year deal with a lottery team three years later. His off-the-court issues have contributed to that, and he didn’t produce last season in Houston and Indiana. Still, he should have a pretty good chance of making the Kings’ roster, with Seth Curry and Rajon Rondo gone and Darren Collison their only proven point guard. They need depth there.
When Ben Simmons declared for the NBA draft this spring, he signed with LeBron James‘ Klutch Sports group for representation. That association would appear to have its advantages for the No. 1 overall pick, including the opportunity to work out with James and Dwyane Wade during the offseason. Wade posted a group photo on Instagram on Wednesday afternoon:
Also, it’s pretty staggering to see Simmons standing next to James and realizing that he’s bigger and taller.