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Golden State’s players mindset: Don’t expect Steve Kerr back during these playoffs

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Steve Kerr has been meeting with experts at Stanford University’s hospital, working to find the location/cause of the leaking spinal fluid that has sidelined him during the playoffs (and bothered him since his multiple back surgeries more than a year ago). There is no timetable for his return, but he could be back during the playoffs if doctors can find the problem.

That optimism is not how the team is looking at these playoffs.

Draymond Green explained the team’s mindset on Monday, a day before they tip-off their second-round series against the Jazz — with Mike Brown filling in for Kerr. From Monte Poole of NBCSports Bay Area.

“I think the way we look at it is plan on him (Kerr) not coming back,” Draymond Green told reporters on Monday. “That’s the way we’re approaching this thing … Mike Brown is our coach, we have the rest of our staff, and that’s who we’re rolling with.

“We’re gonna hope and pray that Steve gets better and can get back. But at the end of the day, his health is more important than anything … we know how bad he wanted to be here and how bad we would love for him to be here. But at the end of the day, he needs to take care of what he has to take care of.

“And whether that’s this year or next year, then you know, we’re ready. But we’re gonna approach this entire thing as ‘Steve isn’t coming back.’ And that’s our approach for this entire playoffs until we hear otherwise…”

Hard to fault the team here, it’s really the only mindset they can have. The team has to focus on the next game, the next level of competition, they can’t be betting on the cavalry to come charging over the hill. Mike Brown was brought in partially for a situation like this — he has coached a team to the NBA Finals, he has handled the big egos of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, he can guide this team. Steve Kerr was the architect and home building, Brown is just the renter trying not damage the place.

Golden State played the start of last season with Luke Walton in the big chair for Kerr, and they got off to the fastest start in NBA history. This team is used to playing without Kerr. That said, they may miss his ability to push the right buttons when it gets to the conference finals or NBA Finals. I’m not sure Utah can provide that kind of challenge.

 

Lakers meet with Derrick Rose, Ian Clark about backup point guard slot

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At a press conference this week introducing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Magic Johnson said that the Lakers wanted to find a backup point guard in the next week or so.

Thursday the Lakers took a couple of steps down that road, meeting with both Derrick Rose and Ian Clark.

Both men would serve as the backup to, and potential mentor for, Lonzo Ball. The questions come down to which man better fits that role, and of course money.

Rose put up solid numbers last season in New York — 18 points per game, a PER of 17 — and statistically appeared to be an average NBA point guard. However, he’s still a defensive liability, cannot space the floor as a shooter (21.7 percent from three last season), and he’s not versatile offensively.

Rose is thought to be choosing between the Lakers and Cavaliers, both teams offering one-year contracts (Chicago has been mentioned is a highly unlikely reunion). Cleveland can offer the chance to chase a ring and play with LeBron James, but only a veteran minimum contract of $2.1 million. The Lakers can offer the same minimum contract or the room exception of $4.3 million (it’s not known if the Lakers put that larger offer on the table, but it seems plausible to likely). Rose has to choose what he wants, what he prioritizes, in neither case is he going to start or be part of the long-term plans — this is a one-year choice.

Clark played for Luke Walton in Golden State, is younger and more athletic than Rose, shot 37.4 percent from three last season, and is coming off his best season playing almost 15 minutes a game and winning a ring with the Warriors. He’s not as good as running the offense as Rose, but last season he cut down on his turnovers and improved his defense, taking steps forward with both. If things work out, he could stick with the Lakers beyond this season, but they will only offer a one-year contract for now.

Los Angeles has other options out there on the point guard market — Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson, Deron Williams — but the Lakers seem to have narrowed their choice down to Rose or Clark. Once they land the backup point guard, the roster will

Shaq calls his absurd light-up shoes the real Big Baller Brand

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Because 7’1″, 350-pound Shaquille O’Neal needed an impossible-to-ignore pair of light up shoes to call attention to himself…

Shaq posted a video of himself on Instagram wearing some outrageous light-up shoes — then in the comments decided to take another dig at Big Baller Brand.

Boy was shining wasn't he #whatarethose #shineonem #feetwork #shaqshoestherealbigballerbrand

A post shared by DR. SHAQUILLE O'NEAL Ed.D. (@shaq) on

So how much do those shoes cost? More or less than ZO2?

One of the things I enjoyed about Summer League was that as Lonzo Ball played better and better, the spotlight shifted more to his play and more away from his father. Think what you will of LaVar Ball — marketing genius or loud-mouthed dad — personally I’m just weary of him. I like Lonzo’s play, I don’t need the rest.

However, between Shaq and Charles Barkley, I think there’s going to be a lot of LaVar/Big Baller Brand talk on Inside the NBA next season. Those two can’t help themselves.

After four years out of NBA, Pacers give Damien Wilkins chance to return

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Consider this the most unexpected signing of the summer.

The last time we saw Damien Wilkins in the NBA, the 6’6″ wing out of the University of Georgia was finishing his ninth NBA season, averaging 6.4 points per game and shooting 33.3 percent from three. He looked like a guy who was done at the NBA level. Since then he has played in China, Spain, and the D-League.

The Pacers are giving him another crack to make an NBA roster. They have signed 37-year-old Wilkins to a non-guaranteed deal, reports the Indy Star.

The Indiana Pacers agreed to a one-year, non-guaranteed veteran minimum deal for close to $2 million with small forward and shooting guard Damien Wilkins, a league source confirmed to IndyStar.

The Pacers have 14 guys on the roster already, and they have at the wing Victor Oladipo, Lance Stephenson, Rodney Stuckey, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Glenn Robinson III, it will be tough for Wilkins to crack that rotation.

But he’ll get his chance, and having a desperate veteran pushing guys in camp never hurts. Maybe he can impress enough in camp that if the Pacers don’t want him another team might. It’s a foot in the door, and that’s all Wilkins can ask at this point.

Watch the Top 10 dunks from the NBA Summer League

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Summer League, at its core, is athletic young players in sloppy games.

That leads to massive dunks. Here are the top 10, which John Collins deserving the top spot.