2014 adidas Eurocamp: Vasilije Micic, Jaylen Brown shine in Day Two action

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TREVISO, Italy — Day two of adidas Eurocamp was light in terms of the actual games, with the morning session being reserved for drills and scrimmages, along with guest speaking spots from Ricky Rubio and Vlade Divac.

The showcase game of the day came in the late afternoon, when an All-Star team of international players took on the USA Select team of under-18 players, which features guys still two-to-three years away from being NBA draft eligible.

As you might imagine, the contest developed into a blowout fairly early on, and when you consider you had established professionals playing against high school kids, the 119-85 victory posted by the All-Stars shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

But these games are more about the talents of the individual players and their abilities to perform and make decisions in a competitive setting, as well as whether or not those skills are at a high enough level to be considered NBA relevant.

Some notes from the second day of action:

– Vasilije Micic was more impressive on Sunday, and showed some of what scouts had seen of him that would make them believe he’d be a viable second round pick in this year’s draft. He lacks any kind of discernible speed, either in the open court or in half-court sets. But his decisions are usually the right ones, and he showed a consistent ability to find teammates for easy buckets in transition or on the secondary break.

Micic piled up 10 assists in just 25 minutes, and scored 14 points while hitting four of his six attempts from three-point distance. The highlight of the game for him was a drive to the basket where he used a Rondo-esque ball fake to lose a defender, before flipping a pass along the baseline to a cutting teammate for an easy two points.

– Thon Maker was the most impressive player from the USA team on day one, and his teammate Jaylen Brown took that crown in the second day’s action. A 6’7″ wing who can create his own shot, Brown had several impressive moments that showcased an above-average athleticism and ability to consistently make shots.

Brown pushes off at times to gain separation off the dribble, which is something he’ll need to eliminate from his game as time goes on. He has the speed to do so, and showed some incredible leaping ability on two occasions — once coming from behind to get a block in transition that the referees mistakenly ruled a foul, and then trying for an adventurous annihilation of an opponent on a baseline dunk attempt that had no chance of going down.

It was a very solid outing for Brown, who finished with a team-high 21 points and six rebounds in 27 minutes.

– While Maker was impressive during the first day of action, he showed more flaws than strengths on day two. He was out of position for rebounds more often than not, and was unable to finish through contact on multiple occasions. He did show good footwork and an ability to defend on the perimeter when he got the switch on the ball-handler, and showed a small flash of that Kevin Durant comparison he’s gotten on a dribble-spin move against a defender that resulted in two points inside.

Maker finished with 17 points, but most came on jumpers — a strength to be sure, but for someone his size (7’0″) he really needs to work on being more comfortable around the basket.

– Nemanja Dangubic was the leading scorer for the international All-Stars, and looked really strong in getting all of his 23 points. He showcased a vertical leap that was obviously the best on the floor, and showed an agility and quickness that seemed to be better than his 6’9″ frame would allow. The 21-year old from Serbia helped his chances, even against the weak competition, and could easily become a late second round pick in this year’s draft.

adidas Eurocamp 2014 – Box Score – All Star – Team USA Day 2

Report: Re-signing Nerlens Noel Mavericks’ top off-season priority

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This is a Mark Cuban owned team, you don’t think the Mavericks are going to make a serious run at a free agent come July 1? Pelicans’ point guard Jrue Holiday has long been known to be a target, but there will be others.

But keeping their new core together, including restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, is the top priority, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Rumors like this are out there in part from Dallas to hope to chill the market for Noel. While he could be a defensive force who provides some scoring around the rim, with Noel’s injury history they may be able to get him at less than max money — because if he’s at the max the Mavericks are flirting with the luxury tax (and Cuban isn’t going to want to pay the tax for a borderline playoff team at best).

What Dallas fears is what Brooklyn did last season to Allen Crabbe in Portland and Tyler Johnson in Miami — some team to come in with a max or near-max offer sheet that drives up the price. Dallas will match, they will keep the young core together, it just gets more expensive.

Next season in Dallas will be a deserved big farewell to Dirk Nowitzki. He will be the focus, but behind him Dallas will try to be building for the future. They made the trade deadline move to make sure Noel is a part of that, the only question now is how much it costs them.

Magic Johnson on drafting Lonzo Ball: “what I needed was a leader”

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Nobody, not even his critics with the Lakers, question that D'Angelo Russell had talent. What they questioned from the start was his work ethic and maturity. I was told by sources with the team he often was the last one to team meetings, often one of the first out of the gym, and the whole Nick Young thing spoke to the maturity question. Byron Scott took a lot of heat as Lakers’ coach for benching him, and Scott’s communication skills were lacking, but he had reasons. Russell also just 21 and maybe he finds his way, but the Lakers weren’t willing to wait anymore.

Which is why the Lakers were willing to move him to Brooklyn in the Brook Lopez trade, and why the Lakers went after Lonzo Ball in the draft, Magic Johnson said, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

Is Lonzo Ball a leader? Only time will tell, he has the potential.

Will players want to play with him? Yes, if the passing skills he showed in college transfer to the NBA. If guys know they will get the rock if they run/cut, then they will do just that. It’s some simple B. F. Skinner stuff here — if players are rewarded they will keep doing it. Get them the rock in transition and they will get out there every time.

Ball has flaws in his game, there are certainly questions about his defense, and how that awkward shot translates remains to be seen (it goes in but his time to get it off will decrease at the NBA level)? Will he be a scoring threat in the half-court? He’s got work to do. But answer those questions and the Lakers may have the key piece to help anchor a franchise he’s been looking for.

Sacramento Kings waive guard Arron Afflalo

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento Kings have waived guard Arron Afflalo one year after signing him as a free agent.

The Kings cut ties with Afflalo on Friday before his entire $12.5 million contract for 2017-18 would become guaranteed. Afflalo will get $1.5 million instead.

Afflalo averaged 8.4 points and 2 rebounds in 61 games this past season for Sacramento. He has averaged 11.3 points per game in his 10-year career.

 

Frustrated fan: John McEnroe says Knicks a ‘total train wreck’

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NEW YORK (AP) — John McEnroe had a ringside seat for the ugliest bout at Madison Square Garden last season.

He was sitting just feet away when former Knicks star Charles Oakley was surrounded by security officials at his seat, shoving them away before being handcuffed and arrested while watching a game in February.

Even before that, the tennis great had begun to lose patience with his favorite team.

“It’s like a total train wreck,” McEnroe said.

The low point during a miserable 2016-17 season came when Oakley was dragged out of MSG in the first quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Clippers. A fan favorite as a player, he had fallen out of favor with the organization in retirement after critical comments about the team and MSG chairman James Dolan.

McEnroe, who often travels for his tennis or other obligations, wasn’t aware of the history between Oakley and Dolan.

“I didn’t even realize at the time that Charles had said bad things about him,” McEnroe said. “I hadn’t been up on that, so it wasn’t awkward for me when he sort of poked me in my back, Charles, right before the incident happened. I was like, `Hey Charles, how are you? This is my son, Kevin.’ He was with me.

“So I didn’t put 2 and 2 together and I didn’t know what had happened or really what had transpired,” he said. “So maybe Jim was already uncomfortable because of past history or whatever and then when Charles and the security guys started to go at it, even before they started to come up to him I was like, `Uh oh, this is not going to go well, at all.”‘

McEnroe is clearly visible in replays of the skirmish that were shown that night and throughout the next day.

“To see Charles Oakley have handcuffs put on him was horrible. Like, I was sick to my stomach, as well as almost every other fan that was in there watching this as it took place,” McEnroe said. “I bet you Jim Dolan – this is just my opinion – had to feel terrible about what that was.”

McEnroe grew up in and still lives in New York, and considers MSG his home arena. The inside cover of his new book, “But Seriously,” is decorated with ticket stubs from games and concerts at the arena, including a Knicks playoff game. But like many Knicks fans, he’s getting fed up with what he sees.

“I mean I’ve been a Knicks fan since I was a kid, so this is just getting beyond belief,” he said.

McEnroe has owned a home in Malibu, California, for more than 30 years. He often trained in Los Angeles as one of the world’s top players during the early-to-mid 1980s, befriending Lakers executive Jeanie Buss and Linda Rambis, whose husband Kurt played for the great Lakers teams of that era that were led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“Watching this was like, I’m sitting there going, why the hell am I a Knick fan again?” McEnroe said, “because this is just absolutely unbelievable, watching Showtime.”

Dolan hired Phil Jackson, who won five titles as Lakers coach, as Knicks president in 2014. But the team has missed the playoffs every season under Jackson, who feuded with Carmelo Anthony last season and didn’t speak to reporters at all while the team went 31-51.

“I mean, he’s known as the Zen Master, like a master talker, and then he’s not talking to anybody,” McEnroe said of Jackson. “So this whole thing seems to have gone completely off the rails.”

Jackson is still hoping to trade Anthony, who has a no-trade clause. McEnroe said he was never the biggest fan of Anthony’s game, but that the All-Star forward didn’t deserve the treatment he received last season.

“It’s crazy to treat a guy that way,” McEnroe said. “It seems like, even if it would be better for both guys if they weren’t there – the Knicks and him – the whole thing just seems, I can’t believe how bungled this has gotten.”