Luol Deng on his defense with the Cleveland Cavaliers: ‘I’m putting the team in bad situations’

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Luol Deng joined the Cleveland Cavaliers just in time for a four-game Western Conference road trip, which ends tonight in Denver. The Cavaliers have gone 2-2 so far, a stellar mark for a team that was 12-23 prior.

Deng is clearly finding his stride offensively. In the last two games, a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers and a win over the Los Angeles Lakers, he’s scored 25 points (on 10-of-20 shooting) and 27 points (on 9-of-15 shooting, including 5-for-5 on 3-pointers).

But Deng, so far, is living up to only half of his reputation for being a strong two-way player.

Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:

The surprise is that Deng says he’s struggling defensively, which has long been considered his strength.

“I’m making a lot of mistakes,” Deng said. “People who don’t know the system might not notice it, but there’s a couple rotations I’m putting the team in bad situations because I’m not used to it.”

Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee, the Cavaliers’ previous starting small forwards, are solid defenders. So, Deng wasn’t acquired to solve defensive issues – though he also wasn’t expected to hurt Cleveland’s defense, either.

The Cavaliers have allowed 105.5 points per 100 possessions with Deng on the floor, more than the 103.8 they’ve allowed for the season. But as Deng learns the system, that disparity should vanish. Four games is not cause for concern – especially when Deng has helped overall.

Deng is a huge offensive upgrade, more than making up for his temporary defensive deficiencies with his offense. When Deng plays, the Cavaliers score 106.1 points per possession compared to 97.9 for the season.

That will certainly buy Deng minutes to work through his defensive issues.

John Wall agrees to four-year $170 million contract extension

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John Wall had a designated player super max contract sitting in front of him (figuratively) since July 1, but he wanted to wait and see what the Wizards would do this summer, and talk to his family about a decision that could lock him in Washington for six years.

He saw the Wizards spend — they matched a max offer sheet for Otto Porter. He also looked around the East and decided this is where he wanted to be. He agreed to the extension on Friday, a story broken by David Aldridge of TNT/NBA TV.

This is a four-year, $170 million extension that kicks in after the two-years, $37.1 million left on Wall’s current deal.

Wall has developed into one of the top five point guards in the NBA, averaging 23.1 points per game last season while making his first All-NBA team (the third team, which he thought was a let down). He is a strong defensive point guard and still arguably the fastest guy in the league with the ball in his hands. He and Bradley Beal have formed one of the more formidable backcourts in the NBA.

Wall is now getting paid like an elite point guard, and he is just entering his prime.

Check out Boston’s Jayson Tatum’s 10 best plays from Summer League (VIDEO)

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Jayson Tatum was one of the standouts at Summer League.

The No. 3 pick of the Boston Celtics, Tatum came into the draft considered the most NBA-ready player of the class. He showed that at Summer League — he is a fluid athlete who knows how to knock down mid-range shots (and gets to his spots), he has great footwork for a young player, and can attack the rim. He tends to take and make difficult shots, but that will get harder against NBA-level defenders, and he didn’t often play-make for others. That said, he averaged 17.7 points and 8 rebounds per game.

Check out his best plays from Summer League, and if you’re a Celtics fan try not to drool too much.

Memphis Grizzlies sign former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks

Associated Press
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies have signed former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, a second-round pick in last month’s NBA draft.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Brooks was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 45th overall pick. The Grizzlies acquired him in exchange for a future second-round pick.

Brooks, 21, averaged 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a junior at Oregon last season. He was named the Pac-12 player of the year and helped Oregon earn its first Final Four berth since 1939.

 

Looks like Kevin Love is subtweeting Kyrie Irving

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Peculiar is not a word that comes up often in NBA talk. Not sure it comes up much of anywhere unless a Four Non-Blondes song is on the ’90s station, but especially in NBA talk it doesn’t come up. Until this week. First, there was this cryptic comment from Kyrie Irving earlier in the week about the state of the Cavaliers.

“Like I said, we’re in a peculiar place. The best thing we can do is handle things with class and professionalism.”

Friday it leaked that Kyrie Irving has asked to be traded from the Cavs. Which led to Kevin Love using the word “peculiar” in a tweet.

If you’re unfamiliar, “kick some rocks” is an impolite way of telling someone to leave, or take a walk (kicking rocks on the dirt road).

Fun times in Cleveland. Kobe Altman must be having a fun week in his new job.