Kurt Helin

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Watch showdown between Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith Jr. in Summer League semis


Lonzo Ball and Dennis Smith Jr. have been two of the best rookies in Summer League, and they lined up head-to-head Sunday night in the Las Vegas semifinals.

They both had their moments. Ball was efficient with his shot — 5-of-7 shooting overall and 2-of-3 from three — and racked up 10 assists before leaving the game with calf tightness. It was nerve-racking when he limped off the court to the locker room.

Smith had 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting with six assists.

Check out their highlights above.

The Lakers won the game and advance to the Summer League championship game against the Trail Blazers on Monday.

Report: Hawks back out of bidding for Marreese Speights, he’s back on market


Big men still on the market, even ones with legit skills, are finding getting more than a one-year deal at the veteran minimum difficult. JaVale McGee is feeling that frustration.

Marreese Speights has a legit skill — he can come off the bench as a pick-and-pop big, hit some threes (37.2 percent from beyond the arc last season), and beyond that play some solid minutes. Speights had been talking to the Atlanta Hawks, but that has fallen apart, and Speights is back on the open market, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Speights could help a lot of teams as a backup big. He’s not going to provide much defense, but teams could do much worse. He will sign somewhere, but in a tight market he’s not going to make as much as he likely imagined.

(For the record, that will not be the Warriors, they have David West as the pick-and-pop big off the bench, they’re not duplicating that skill set. The Warriors want rim protection with their final center slot.)

Retired? Ray Allen can still knock down shot at American Century Classic


Ray Allen has stepped away from the NBA.

But when you have one of the sweetest strokes the league has ever seen, it doesn’t go away. Ray Allen can still get buckets, as he showed on Sunday at the American Century Classic in Lake Tahoe.

Allen was also one of the best golfers in the NBA when he retired, with all that extra time on the course his swing is almost as sweet as his shot now.

Report: Rockets add more defense, sign Luc Mbah a Moute to one-year deal


If the goal is to knock off the Warriors, you can never have enough wing defenders.

The Houston Rockets have set themselves up as the main challenger to the dominance of Golden State, and they just added some wing defense and some solid three-point shooting by signing Luc Mbah a Moute to a one-year deal, something first reported by Chris Haynes of ESPN.

Free-agent combo forward Luc Mbah a Moute has agreed to sign with the Houston Rockets, league sources tell ESPN.

It is believed to be a one-year, veteran minimum arrangement.

Mbah a Moute, 30, played the last two seasons with the LA Clippers as the team’s starting small forward. He declined a $2.3 million player option for the 2017-18 season to hit free-agency this summer. He shot a career high of 39 percent from the beyond the arc last season.

It is a veteran minimum contract, that’s all the Rockets have to give out.

The Rockets now will start Trevor Ariza on the wing next to James Harden and Chris Paul, but they can bring Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, and Mbah a Moute off the bench. That’s good depth at the position most needed to try and match up with the Warriors. Mbah a Moute has his limitations on offense — he shot well from three last season but can’t create or do much of anything but if he stays in his lane things work out well.

This is a good signing by the Rockets.

Report: JaVale McGee not happy with Warriors, could still return


The Golden State Warriors are just rounding out what will be the odds-on favorite roster to win the NBA title next season. The Warriors won last year, got the band back together for this run, and should be improved as this is their second season in the system.

One little detail, a third guy who can play the five. Zaza Pachulia is back and will start, David West can soak up minutes, but who else is in there? The easy answer is to bring back JaVale McGee, but that may not be that easy because he isn’t happy with Golden State, according to Marcus Thompson of the San Jose Mercury News.

At this point, the best recourse is bringing back JaVale McGee. But one source said he is not happy with the Warriors for not giving him a shot at the starting slot and giving all of the mid-level to free agent guard Nick Young. McGee believed his play this season earned him more minutes and money, and is looking for that on the market.

Except that the market right now is very tight. He may not find it anywhere, and the Warriors don’t have more than a minimum contract to hand out.

The Warriors other obvious options aren’t thrilling. They have Damon Jones on the roster, but after watching him at Summer League he doesn’t look like an answer right now. The Warriors could go small more with rookie Jordon Bell, who has shown some promise at Summer League, but he’s a rookie and Kerr tries to limit small ball minutes.

If McGee signs elsewhere, someone will come to the Warriors and be willing to chase the ring with them. Just not clear yet who that might be.