AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Report: Raptors considering pulling DeMarre Carroll, Jonas Valanciunas from starting lineup against Cavaliers

3 Comments

In the Cavaliers’ Game 1 win over the Raptors, Toronto got outscored by eight points in the 12 minutes both teams’ starting lineups were on the floor. The Raptors’ starters ranged from -13 (Kyle Lowry) to -32 (DeMar DeRozan). Cleveland built a 25-point lead before letting up in garbage time.

The outcome screams for Toronto adjustments.

But starting Norman Powell and Jakob Poeltl over DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunas?

Michael Grange of Sportsnet:

According to sources, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey — desperate to find a way to score enough to keep up with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are averaging 113.4-points points a game through five playoff starts — is giving strong consideration to sitting both Carroll and Valanciunas for Game 2.

In their place would go Powell and rookie Jakob Poeltl. Powell’s role would be to reprise the added ball-handling and shooting that the second-year guard provided the Raptors when he started Games 4-6 against the Milwaukee Bucks while the Austrian rookie would be expected to give Toronto some additional quickness to help on the Cavs pick-and-roll attacks while still maintaining some size to battle the offensive rebounding pressure Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love bring.

“The league is changing,” said Casey at the Raptors practice Tuesday. “The league is changing. You have to change or you get stuck in the mud. It’s more of a scoring league now. You saw what San Antonio had done to them last night [in a 27-point loss to the Houston Rockets the Spurs gave up 22 threes on 50 attempts].

“We have to score points,” said Casey, whose club is averaging just 95.4 points a game in the post-season, worst among active teams and 11.4 points off their regular season average. “We have to manufacture points and not get our dobber down if the other team scores. If they score, boom, hey, next play. Not to say defence isn’t important, because it is. But we can’t get caught up in ‘we gotta stop them.’”

This is a stunning statement by Casey, who has preached defense at every opportunity. It’s fascinating to watch his philosophy change in real time.

Starting Poeltl would be a wild machination. Dahntay Jones harassed Poeltl in Game 1. What would LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson do to the rookie?

I get starting Powell over Carroll. After falling behind 2-1 to the Bucks in the first round, Toronto inserted Powell into the starting lineup (for Valanciunas) then won three straight. With Powell again coming off the bench, the Raptors lost Game 1 to the Cavaliers. Powell brings 3-and-D skills with playmaking that would be particularly helpful against a Cavs defense vulnerable to breakdowns once it gets moving.

But Poeltl? He’s more mobile than Valanciunas, but the 7-foot Poeltl is hardly fleet of foot. The rookie has been in and out of the rotation all year.

Why not start P.J. Tucker over Valanciunas instead, sliding Serge Ibaka to center? The Cavaliers’ floor spacing begs opponents to go small, but then Thompson and Love feast on the offensive glass. Ibaka and Tucker bring small-ball spacing, but they’re tough enough to still compete on the boards. It’s not as if Poeltl has been a strong defensive rebounder, anyway.

The problem with that strategy is guarding backup Cleveland center Channing Frye, a 3-point shooter. If there’s a place for Valanciunas in this series, it’s starting. He can’t handle Frye. Maybe Poeltl can? If Ibaka is playing center with the starters, he can’t also play the position with the backups. He needs rest at some point.

Overall, Casey sounds desperate. But he should be. Have you seen the Cavs?

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

Leave a comment

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

1 Comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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.