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Boston’s Jayson Tatum getting a taste of stardom, NBA grind at Summer League


LAS VEGAS — The idea is to just give them a taste.

With high draft picks heading into Summer League, the idea is just to give them a small sampling of what is to come at the next level, then see how they react. Summer League has given Tatum a taste of NBA stardom — he was wearing a custom T-shirt after the game Sunday with his likeness on it (from a previous haircut, but still it looked good).

Summer League also has given Jayson Tatum a taste of how grinding the NBA travel schedule can be.

Tatum played in his fifth game in seven days Sunday night in Las Vegas. The Celtics played three in Utah before coming to Nevada for another two back-to-back Saturday and Sunday. Tatum has been a standout through those games — and he had the crowd oohing and ahhing with his fade-away jumper in the first half Sunday — but he was 0-of-3 in the second half and his legs were just not under him.

“Today was a little tougher, back-to-back, I was tired, body was aching, but I think (the Celtics) had a more well-rounded game….” Tatum said. “There’s going to be days like this, back-to-back, you’re feeling like this, but the team won so that’s all that matters.”

It’s not all that matters to the team, which is why there is a sense around Las Vegas that the Celtics may shut him down for the rest of Summer League. They know what they got now, he got his taste, no reason to risk injury for these games.

Tatum entered the 2017 NBA Draft considered the most NBA ready of the players, and it’s easy to see why — his confidence and smooth moves make him look like an NBA veteran. He is a very fluid athlete with handles who can score in isolation beautifully, and his left hand is better than expected.

His go-to move is a fadeaway that is NBA ready — he’s hit a few tough ones Sunday, including one with Caleb Swanigan in his face.

“He makes tough shots, something that’s hard to do at the next level,” teammate Jaylen Brown said. “Playing in the NBA is going to be hard, but he’s a shot-maker and that makes it easy for everybody when he’s scoring the ball.”

Boston has played Tatum and Brown a lot together, something that could happen in the NBA season as well. They both said they feel their on-court chemistry is improving.

“They’re strong, they both play similar but they both are big time creators that have special gifts,” said Celtics Summer League Coach Walter McCarty. “They run the floor, they shoot the long ball, and they can play defense.

“If they just continue to work and they want it, they can be as good as they want to get. They both love being in the gym and shooting, they just have to keep developing. They do that and they’ll be just fine.”

Tatum going to get buckets at the NBA level — even the shots he misses everyone just assumes will go in. Still, guys who make tough shots can struggle to adjust. On Sunday, Portland was adapting and closing out hard when he was going to fade-away. He tried to show a counter move, but his legs just failed him.

He needs to finish better going to the rim, and his decision making will have to adjust to the better level of athlete — he was stripped on a drive going 1-on-4, then was pulled aside by a Celtic coach after. He picked up an offensive charge on another dive to the rim. Because he likes to isolate he can be a little slow making decisions, which come the regular season means defenses can set.

Still, there is a lot to like in Tatum — he can step in next year and give the Celtics quality minutes, and some buckets.

For now, he’s just getting a taste.

“Just getting acclimated,” Tatum said. “Be with the team, the coaches, and just get comfortable… It’s a process. I’m getting more comfortable each and every day, it takes time.”

Report: Michele Roberts to seek second contract as players’ union head

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Michele Roberts entered the NBA’s player union in a tumultuous time — long-time union president Billy Hunter had been ousted in a rancorous fight, the union felt adrift, and negotiations with the NBA on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement were looming (and players felt they had been screwed in the last CBA, following the lockout).

Roberts, the first female head of a professional sports labor union, settled things down. She cleaned up the union finances and made them more transparent to players, she worked hard to establish relationships with the players, and while she rattled some sabers with the NBA in negotiations, she also worked in a non-combative way with Adam Silver and team (unlike the Billy Hunter/David Stern relationship) and got a deal done the players liked without a lockout or labor mess.

Roberts’ contract with the union is up, but she is going to ask for a new deal — one she likely gets — reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

With an original four-year agreement set to expire in September, Michele Roberts plans to seek a new contract as the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, sources tell ESPN…

Roberts had strongly considered staying in the NBPA’s executive director role for only the length of her original contract — and expressed that to the union’s senior membership — but has recently decided to pursue a longer tenure, sources said.

NBPA president Chris Paul played a significant part in Roberts’ hiring in July 2014 and he has built a strong working relationship with Roberts.

Roberts also has a good relationship with the star-heavy executive committee of the union — CP3, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and others — making it likely she gets a new deal.

As for what’s next, at the front of that list Roberts is working with Silver and others on reforming the NBA’s one-and-done rule (it was supposed to be part of the CBA negotiations but was too big and complex an issue to fold into that timeline).

Neither the owners or players can opt out of the CBA for four more years (and if neither side does it runs a couple more beyond that) so labor peace will continue in the NBA for a while.

Isaiah Thomas rewarded on epic flop with offensive foul call vs. Heat

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Why do NBA players flop on defense? Because it works.

While there is less of it than there was a couple of years back — when the NBA made a big show about calling more flops and warning (then eventually fining players a pittance) for the move — it still exists. Case in point, this impressive one from Isaiah Thomas of the Lakers on Tyler Johnson of the Heat Friday night (hat tip AminElHassavag at NBA Reddit).

Was there a little contact, sure, but Thomas fell back like he was shot by the second gunman on the grassy knoll. He exaggerated the contact, which is the definition of flopping. Thing is, he got the call (the ref who made the call, from his position, might only have seen the contact and not necessarily the extent of exaggeration, but that’s where the other officials need to step in).

Not that everything went Thomas’ way Friday night.

Suns’ Marquese Chriss, Jared Dudley fined $25,000 each for knocking down Ricky Rubio


Marquese Chriss and Jared Dudley got off light.

There should have been suspensions involved for the cheap shots leveled on Ricky Rubio by the pair during Thursday night’s blowout Jazz win. Instead, the pair were fined $25,000 a piece by the league Saturday for this incident.

Rubio has a knee contusion from the incident Jazz coach Quin Snyder confirmed, however, Rubio is available to play Saturday vs. the Kings.

Dudley was given a flagrant 2 and ejected at the time, Chriss was handed just a flagrant 1 for his escalation. I don’t completely buy Dudley’s explanation here either — I think they were pissed Rubio stepped over a down Chriss to inbound the ball and made him pay for it — but he did own up to it being excessive.

So to be clear, if you throw a haymaker and miss — as Aaron Afflalo did recently — that’s a two-game suspension. But if you throw or body check a player to the ground, that’s just 25 large, no time missed. Players wanting retaliation will take note of that.

Roulette tables are less random than the NBA’s enforcement policies.

Check out Terrance Ferguson’s acrobatic layup vs. Clippers (VIDEO)


It was supposed to be an alley-oop.

However, Raymond Felton‘s pass was low. And not just a little low, a few feet low.

Oklahoma City’s athletic rookie Terrance Ferguson was leaving the ground as the pass was thrown, meaning he had to make an in-air adjustment — and the results were spectacular.