Author: Brett Pollakoff

Los Angeles Clippers v San Antonio Spurs - Game Four

Report: Kings interested in free agent Matt Bonner


Matt Bonner has played for the Spurs for the past nine seasons, and San Antonio has been the league’s model of perfection for about twice as long.

Might he consider going to a team that’s been consistently mired in dysfunction?

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Another interesting free agent name to draw interest in recent days from Sacramento: Matt Bonner

Bonner is a high-IQ big man that can space the floor with his shooting from three-point distance. He may still have a spot in San Antonio, but it would be for very little money due to the team being up against it from a salary cap perspective.

Bonner could pursue other opportunities on the open market, but it’s difficult seeing him choosing Sacramento. The Kings are a directionless mess at the moment, thanks to an impatient owner who is unable to make sound decisions, or stick with any type of plan that could set the franchise up for any measure of long-term success.

More than one player has taken less money to play elsewhere this summer rather than signing up to play in Sacramento. It wouldn’t at all be a surprise to see Bonner do the same.

Report: Thunder will match Blazers’ max offer to Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter, Robbie Hummel

The Oklahoma City Thunder will keep Enes Kanter, but thanks to a hefty offer sheet from the Portland Trail Blazers, it’s going to cost them much more than they probably had initially planned.

David Aldridge of

Source indicates OKC will, as expected, match the 4-year, $70M offer sheet today for big man Enes Kanter, given Thursday by Portland.

This move was expected on the Oklahoma City side, but Kanter likely wouldn’t have gotten that much money from the Thunder without grabbing the offer sheet from the Blazers that ultimately forced his current team’s hand.

Oklahoma City acquired Kanter at the trade deadline last season, as part of a three-team deal that sent Reggie Jackson to the Pistons. His numbers jumped significantly with the Thunder in the latter part of the season, where Kanter averaged 18.7 points and 11 rebounds in 31.1 minutes per contest during 26 appearances.

The Thunder need his scoring inside, and having him as a legitimate option when opposing defenses focus on slowing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook should make Oklahoma City a formidable threat next season.

Jordan Brand unveils first signature shoe for Russell Westbrook, the Westbrook 0 (PHOTOS)


Normally when an athlete is given the signature shoe treatment from one of the major brands in the industry, it’s an on-court model that comes with it the latest performance features, along with a ground-breaking, often times stunning new design.

But Russell Westbrook has been doing just fine playing in Jordan Brand’s flagship model, and with his clear love of all things related to fashion, it made more sense for his signature shoe to be a lifestyle, off-court model instead.

“The goal was to keep the design for the Jordan Westbrook 0 clean and versatile, with a nod to Jordan heritage,” explains Westbrook. “It was important for the shoe to embody my sense of style and have the potential to be be dressed up or dressed down.”

Given Westbrook’s occasional flair for the daring or outrageous, these come off as surprisingly subtle.









Kristaps Porzingis shines defensively in Summer League debut for Knicks

New York Knicks v San Antonio Spurs

LAS VEGAS — When the Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth overall pick in this summer’s NBA Draft, the fans in attendance were extremely vocal in voicing their displeasure.

Their trepidation was somewhat understandable, if only because the casual fan isn’t usually well-versed in the talents of international prospects, and with the disastrous 2013 trade for Andrea Bargnani fresh in their minds, the fans in New York felt justified in letting the boos rain down.

But things were different on Saturday in Las Vegas, where Porzingis donned a Knicks jersey for the very first time. The fans at the Thomas and Mack Center were generous with their praise, cheering Porzingis at every turn during a performance that saw him finish with 12 points, three rebounds and two blocked shots in a little over of 18 minutes of action.

“Finally they saw me play out there, so hopefully now some of those booing fans are now cheering for me out there,” Porzingis said.

The play of Porzingis in his debut confirmed any preconceived notions fans may have had, on either the positive or negative side of the spectrum. For those that believed his frame was too slight, they saw him get pushed around. For those that liked his ability to absorb contact and get to the free throw line, they saw him get there seven times.

But it was his effort on the defense end of the floor which impressed Knicks head coach Derek Fisher the most.

“I think defensively he has the potential to be really special,” Fisher said. “There were some things that he recognized and made adjustments on and supported his teammates in switching out on smaller players, using his length to protect the basket. I thought on the defensive end he impacted the game in a major way.”

Porzingis showed almost immediately that any potential label of him being soft would simply be a flat-out lie. He looked to create contact, both on perimeter screens and on post-up opportunities inside, often times against bigger and bulkier guys.

“He’s aggressive,” Fisher said. “He doesn’t look overpowering, but he plays a strong game. He’s not afraid to go in there and mix it up.”

“I tried to play aggressive,” Porzingis said. “I knew the guys were going to be physical. I tried to play the same way. I got to the free throw line, missed one free throw — gotta make them all, but I think I was pretty aggressive.

“As you can see out there, I’m fighting with the guys although they’re 15 pounds heavier than me, even more. I try to go out there and play as hard as I can, and I don’t have a problem with contact.”

The fans who may have wanted to see more than 18 minutes from Porzingis will get that eventually. He had been dealing with a hip issue, and even though he says it’s completely fine now, the team is obviously going to proceed with caution.

“Coach told me I wasn’t going to play a lot,” Porzingis said. “He told me 18 minutes. I knew I wasn’t going to play a whole lot, just because they wouldn’t want me to go 30 minutes or whatever. It’s step by step, and I just wanted to be me when I go out there, play hard, and play 100 percent.”

When he was out there, he played with a high level of activity, and showed a great awareness for his position on the floor that allowed him to consistently be in the right place to challenge his opponents’ shots.

“I still have trouble calling the defense on the screens and stuff,” Porzingis said. “I try to remember the calls. I’m still having trouble with that. But I try to be as aggressive as I can and help my teammates.”

Porzingis struggled to gain post position at times, due to a 7’1″ frame that appears to be extremely slight on the surface. It’s something he already plans on improving, but he’s taking a wait-and-see approach as far as exactly how much.

“I’ve got to get stronger,” Porzingis said. “I’ve just got to see. Ten pounds, 15 pounds, maybe 0, maybe 30. I’ve just got to see how I feel at 240, 250. Just little by little, putting on the weight, seeing if I have the same quickness, same athleticism, seeing if I can move the same. I’ve just got to see how I feel.”

The fans are already feeling a more positive vibe where Porzingis is concerned, as evidenced by the many cheers that echoed throughout the arena anytime his aggressive level of activity achieved a positive result.

“That’s the opposite of what I heard on draft night,” Porzingis said. “So it was nice to hear some cheers out there.”

Karl-Anthony Towns shines in Summer League debut as Timberwolves beat Lakers


LAS VEGAS — Karl-Anthony Towns knows the responsibility that comes with being the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, and after a decent debut which helped his Timberwolves beat the Lakers on the opening day of Summer League action in Las Vegas, he seemed to be more than ready to take on that challenge.

Towns faced the draft’s second overall pick in D’Angelo Russell, inside a Thomas and Mack Center that featured an electric atmosphere, and was packed with fans rooting mostly for Los Angeles. After overcoming some early jitters, which included air-balling a long three-pointer less than 30 seconds in, Towns settled in nicely, and finished with 12 points, three rebounds, four assists — and nine personal fouls.

“I started out like any other rookie; I ain’t gonna lie,” Towns said. “I had a lot of butterflies. I was very nervous, legs felt heavy — you know, it’s your first game out in front of everyone. You’re just trying to change the tide of an organization, especially being the No. 1 pick. We did a great job tonight as a team, taking that first step of changing the view of this team and making us a winning team.”

Towns was far from integral to his team’s success. Zach LaVine did the heavy lifting on the scoring side, and he and Jordan Clarkson of the Lakers looked like men among boys after playing an entire season’s worth of legitimate minutes. But what Towns did exceptionally well was pass out of double-teams — which he needed to do consistently, since L.A. sent hard doubles his way just about every time he touched the ball.

“I was very comfortable,” he said. “I did it a lot in college. I did it a lot in high school, especially. I was very ready for the double-team when I saw it coming. Just trying to make sure I’m not just making the right pass out of the double team, but the right pass that gives us a scoring opportunity.”

While there are plenty of things Towns can do now that are immediately translatable, he (of course) has a lot to learn about playing at the NBA level — a process which has already begun.

“I think the biggest thing I learned tonight was how to play 32 minutes,” he said. “I’m used to a platoon system — 19 minutes, 20 minutes, playing in five-minute spurts. I was playing 10, 11 minutes straight (tonight). It’s different obviously, I’m not gonna lie. But the platoon definitely saved my legs for the league and I’m more than glad we did that system.

“I also learned today more about using your body,” he said. “I used my body a lot in college, but today you’ve got to use your body a little more. People are more crafty in the NBA, other than just banging and seeing who is stronger. It’s a more crafty game. As I got more and more used to it I was able to go back to the right hand hook and make some things happen.”

The Lakers had physical big men in Julius Randle, Tarik Black and Robert Upshaw for Towns to deal with, and he struggled to finish through contact at times. That will come down the road once he bulks up a bit, but what he possesses now is a high basketball IQ that is impossible not to notice.

It was a solid first step for Towns, certainly. And even at this extremely early stage, he appears to be taking the long view of his career with the Timberwolves, and is looking forward to changing the perceptions surrounding the franchise.

“For a lot of people, they don’t see a lot of Ws from the Minnesota Timberwolves, but today this was a W they could see,” he said. “It’s a start. And it’s a great start.”