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

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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.”

Nets’ Jeremy Lin: ‘We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says’

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The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.

Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.

He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):

We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.

The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.

But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.

Not that Lin cares what I say.

Check out Top 10 blocks from Summer League (VIDEO)

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When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.

But there were some great blocks.

Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.

 

Memphis Grizzlies sign former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks

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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.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

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.

 

Report: Even after Kyrie Irving requests trade, Carmelo Anthony still focused on Rockets, not Cavaliers

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Carmelo Anthony was reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Rockets or Cavaliers. Cleveland never seemed overly interested, but Houston was. Anthony became set on the Rockets, even reportedly expecting a trade to Houston.

Then, Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavs.

That has thrown everything for a loop. Maybe Cleveland is more keen on trading for Anthony now? The Knicks are reportedly interested in trading Anthony and draft picks for Irving.

But any deal still depends on Anthony’s approval, and it’s now unclear he’d still grant that for the Cavaliers.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

However, a source close to Anthony said late Friday that the All Star forward is focused on getting a deal done with Houston.

Consider this another indication LeBron James will leave Cleveland next summer. Of course, Anthony might have other reasons for preferring Houston. But when reading tea leaves on LeBron’s future, this is a clue.

I doubt LeBron has completely decided his plan, and he hasn’t even necessarily shared his thinking with Anthony, a close friend. Remember, LeBron edited his coming-home essay while on a flight with an unknowing Dwyane Wade, another close friend. But it was one thing for LeBron to strand Wade in Miami, a desirable city where Wade was happy even before LeBron arrived. It’d be something else entirely for LeBron to ditch Anthony in Cleveland. If LeBron is considering leaving, maybe he’d tell Anthony to stay clear.

Anthony could also be operating without hearing directly from LeBron. But if LeBron’s friend believes LeBron might leave, that’d still say something (though obviously not as much).

Back to the possibility that Anthony prefers the Rockets for other reasons. What happens if New York and Cleveland agree to a trade? Does Anthony still hold out for his top choice? Or does he relent and accept what was once his second choice? For now, it seems as if he’s still angling for Houston and will cross other bridges if he reaches them.