Kurt Helin

Lakers’ Lonzo Ball goes off for 36 points, 11 assists in Summer League win

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In his first couple of games at the Las Vegas Summer League, in front of a sold-out Thomas & Mack, Lonzo Ball looked like a rookie. There were good things — the way he pushed the pace with ball movement, which was infectious throughout the team — and there were his struggles, particularly his shooting.

Wednesday night, the Lonzo Ball Lakers’ fans have dreamed about showed up — 36 points and 11 assists in an impressive performance.

He shot 12-of-22 overall and was 3-of-10 from three.

Maybe that it was playing in front of LeBron James that fired up Ball. Whatever it was, he should do

This is where I would normally write about not reading too much into a Summer League performance (good or bad), how Ball had some drives to the rim that were uncontested in a way he will not see during the season… but Lakers fans aren’t going to listen to that. So enjoy this and dream big, that’s what being a fan is about.

Lakers waive David Nwaba to clear cap space for Caldwell-Pope

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This was expected after the Lakers announced they had reached a deal to sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

The Lakers announced they have waived David Nwaba. This clears out some cap space the Lakers needed to move to get KCP up to $18 million on that one year contract.

Nwaba had played for the Lakers at Summer League, where he has averaged 9.7 points per game shooting 57.1 percent. Nwaba had started last season in the D-League and when he came up to the big club he brought a defensive energy the Lakers needed. He played in 20 games for Los Angeles and averaged 6 points per game and shot 58 percent.

Nwaba is a free agent now and there’s a good chance a team will grab him on a minimum contract. If not, he will start the season in the D-League again and will get a call up at some point.

J.J. Redick says he hopes to stay in Philadelphia beyond one-year deal

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The Philadephia 76ers contract to J.J. Redick made sense. Of course, $23 million was an overpay, but it was a one-year deal to both fill a position of need with one of the best shooters in the game, they brought in a very professional influence to the locker room, and the Sixers preserve cap space next summer.

But Redick hopes to stay on as Sixer beyond one year, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“My hope is that this is a long-term thing and that I’m here three or four years and can finish my career as a Sixer,” Redick said Saturday….

“I hate being a free agent, I’ll be honest with you,” Redick said. “It’s not a fun process for me. I’ve done it three times and each time it’s been absolutely miserable until the outcome.”

This could work out. Obviously, Redick not coming back at that price, but at about half that with a three-year deal could make sense for both sides if this season plays out well. It will depend on more than Redick, the Sixers need to see how their young players perform, how everything fits, who they will draft next June, and on who they want to spend that cap space on next summer. The Sixers have their options open. Redick is one of them.

Redick wants to stay, in part, because he sees what we all see in the Sixers — real potential.

“I really believe this is a team that over the next three or four years will become the best team in the East,” Redick said. “I hope I’m sort of part of that rise just beyond this year because I think we can be a playoff team and I think in the next two or three years we can contend for conference championships and hopefully at some point NBA championships.”

Report: Knicks, Rockets talking four-team trades to move Carmelo Anthony (meaning they’re not close)

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Fans love to go on Twitter or head to the trade machine and come up with wild, three- or four-team blockbuster trades, then ask “who says no?”

Reality is different — the reason you see few three-team deals, and almost never ones larger than that, is it’s hard to put together those kinds of deal where all the parties are happy and think they did well. Some team is not going to just take on a crappy contract because they can, you’re going to have to give them real sweeteners to make a deal. That’s hard.

That’s where we are with Carmelo Anthony trade talks, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The New York Knicks and Houston Rockets have expanded the scope of a possible Carmelo Anthony trade to include four-team scenarios in a broader deal, league sources told ESPN.

No deal was imminent Wednesday, but the Knicks and Rockets are confident that they have a willing third-team trade partner incorporated into the framework, the sources said.

The fourth team was needed to move a particular player contract that neither the Knicks nor Rockets could or would accept in the deal, league sources said.

I don’t care how confident ‘Melo is, if that’s the scenario, the sides are really struggling to find a trade that works.

To make this work financially, the Rockets probably have to send out Ryan Anderson — who is owed three-years, $60 million still. He’s a quality stretch four but with a long injury history and an oversized contract, so if a third team is going to take him on they are going to want serious sweeteners such as multiple first-round picks, or young players of value. The Knicks nor Rockets don’t really have those they will give up, so now a fourth team with those assets needs to come into the picture, but if they are giving up something of real value what are they getting back?

The sides may be confident and want a deal, but I’m still skeptical.

NBA free agency winners and losers (plus some teams on the bubble)

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We’ve reached the point in the summer where the big move are made, and now teams are mostly just rounding out their rosters. There could still be a Carmelo Anthony trade, or maybe an unexpected shoe drops, but rosters are basically set now.

Who won the summer? Who lost? Let’s take a look at the list.

Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder. One year ago Kevin Durant walked, and despite the contract extension last summer and the MVP this summer, the risk of Russell Westbrook following him out the door in 2018 was real enough that OKC needed to do something bold. Such as trade for Paul George. It was a master stroke by Sam Presti that should vault Oklahoma City into the top half of the West. The Thunder made good moves in the rest of the rotation, too, bringing back Andre Roberson and getting Patrick Patterson on a steal of a deal. The risk here is that George is a free agent next summer with eyes on the Lakers, and Westbrook has not signed an extension past this season (there’s no reason for him to, he doesn’t make more money sooner doing it) — both could walk next summer. Still, it’s a gamble the Thunder had to take, because if those two bond and thrive, if this team wins enough, they both might stay. It’s all a roll of the dice by the Thunder, but a good one.

Winner: Minnesota Timberwolves. Tom Thibodeau is in a distinctly good mood walking around Las Vegas Summer League — and he should be. With the addition Jimmy Butler at the two, plus adding Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, and Jamal Crawford, the Timberwolves have gone from “we’re going to be good in a few years” to “we’re going to be a playoff team next season and potentially a contender in a couple of years.” Minnesota still has the borderline All-NBA big man Karl-Anthony Towns, who is still improving, and Andrew Wiggins. They need to start thinking about affording this all when Towns and Wiggins come off their rookie deals, but the Timberwolves are poised to be a force.

Loser: New York Knicks. There was a positive: They dumped Phil Jackson before he could ruin the team’s free agent summer. That should make the relationship with face-of-the-franchise Kristaps Porzingis better. However, turns out the Knicks didn’t need Jackson to have a bad summer. If an owner is going to let go of the guy at the top of basketball operations days before free agency starts, he had better have a quality “Plan B” in place and ready to go. New York eventually talked to David Griffin about coming on board, but he wisely wanted his own people in place and full autonomy over the roster, and the Knicks balked at that so he walked away. Steve Mills has stepped into the top job, and his one big move was to overpay to get Tim Hardaway Jr. — four years, $71 million for a guy who can shoot, but is not a good shot creator for others and is a minus defensively. In a tight market, they overpaid. The Knicks are adrift and trying to trade Carmelo Anthony, but finding that a challenge (Houston still is there, but the Rockets don’t want to give back much as they want to contend). I feel bad for Knicks fans, it’s hard to see how they get out of this cycle.

On the bubble: The Los Angeles Clippers. Normally if the team’s best player leaves, that team falls instantly into the loser’s bracket — and the Clippers lost Chris Paul to the Rockets. But Los Angeles salvaged their summer somewhat by keeping their talisman player in Blake Griffin, trading for Danilo Gallinari, and doing better than anyone should have hoped in a shotgun trade with Houston (Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell are good young rotation players, plus Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams can help right now). If Griffin and Gallinari can stay healthy for 70+ games each (no given), Los Angeles should be in the mix for one of the final playoff slots in the West. From there, they can start to formulate how to rebuild on the fly, but they will not bottom out.

Winner: Gordon Hayward and the Celtics. It’s almost always smart business to zig when everyone else zags — while much of the talent in the NBA went west to line up against the Warriors, Hayward went East, joined up with the Celtics and will go at LeBron James and the Cavaliers (a team showing cracks in the walls). For Hayward, he made the bold and smart basketball move. For the Celtics, they got their man and with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford on the roster, plus the emerging Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum (both who have looked good in Summer League), the Celtics are poised to be a threat to Cleveland this year and be the team to beat in the East in a couple of years. It’s not hard to picture a Boston/Minnesota Finals in our future in a few years.

Winner: The Trail Blazers’ Twitter Account. These remain still the best Tweets of the Summer, after the Blazers’ were involved in a trade where they got cash back.

Loser: Dan Gilbert, Cavaliers owner. The Cavaliers themselves are not losers — they will bring back the best team in the East from last season, and while Boston got better much fo the rest of the conference got weaker, setting up a chance to get LeBron James and an older roster to get rest and peak during the playoffs. But Gilbert’s unwillingness to pay the going rate — and give reasonable autonomy — to one of the better GMs in the game in David Griffin hurt his team this summer and opened the door further to the best player in the game leaving in a year. Griffin talked to Chauncey Billups, a guy who will be a team president somewhere in the future, but again he lowballed him on pay and Billups wasn’t sold on the working environment. Sense a pattern here? There are cracks in the walls in Cleveland, and it all falls right at the feet of Dan Gilbert.

On the bubble: Sacramento Kings. The Kings summer was not a disaster — they brought in George Hill, Zach Randolph, and Vince Carter to mentor an interesting group of youth such as De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Heild, Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Justin Jackson. With that, the Kings are not going to be one of the worst teams in the NBA and they have good role models in house. It’s also not what I would have done because, first, they are not going to make the playoffs with this team in a deep West. For me, one veteran or so makes sense, but I would have played the kids heavy minutes this season and taken the losses because they have their 2018 first-round pick (but not 2019), preserve the cap space, then go into what will be a much tighter free agent market next summer and get veterans. That would have required patience that the Kings rarely show. And all that said, what the Kings did this summer was not a disaster, they will be okay.

Winner: James Harden and the Rockets. I can give you 228 million reasons James Harden is a winner. The man got paid — and he deserves it. Also, you have to love what the Rockets did getting Chris Paul and starting the Game of Thrones rush in the West. It’s fair to question how CP3 and Harden will mesh, or how much better Carmelo Anthony would make them, but the bottom line is this was one of the four best teams in the NBA last season and they added Chris Paul. The Rockets may be next in line for the throne in the West (should the Warriors stumble for whatever reason), and that’s a good place to be.

Winner: Golden State Warriors. I don’t love putting the defending NBA champs and head-and-shoulders best team in the league on this list, it’s just the rich getting richer, but I have no choice. They killed the off-season. They locked up Stephen Curry. They retained Kevin Durant — and he took $9.5 million less than his potential max, the Warriors also were able to retain Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David West, and Zaza Pachulia. To that they added a good draft pick in Jordan Bell, a shooter in Nick Young (who could blossom there ala JaVale McGee), and they stole underrated Omri Casspi, who fits perfectly into their style. The Warriors just keep doing things right.

On the bubble: New Orleans Pelicans. Their one big move was expected: they overpaid Jrue Holiday to keep him in house. They had no choice, they didn’t have the cap space to replace him. This team is going to make the playoffs in a deep West — and keep DeMarcus Cousins next summer as a free agent — or there is going to be a top-to-bottom house cleaning in basketball operations. The entire organization seems to be acting like it’s on pins and needles. It all comes down to how the gambit of pairing Anthony Davis and Cousins works out (and plenty of people around the league are not sold it will).

Loser: Utah Jazz. It pains me to put them here because they did everything right, it just wasn’t enough. They lost Gordon Hayward and will take a step back. Utah is not terrible and has pieces to retool around — Rudy Gobert remains one of the best centers in the game, guys like Alec Burks and Rodney Hood are good, and Ricky Rubio can run the show — but it’s all not the same without Hayward.

Winner: Denver Nuggets. This team just missed out on the playoffs a year ago, mostly because their defense wasn’t good enough, then they went out and traded out Danilo Gallinari for Paul Millsap — an upgrade, far more durable, and a guy who will give them something on defense. They have a quality young core with Nikola Jokic (why have they not locked him up with an extension yet?), Jamal Murray and others, and the Nuggets look like a playoff team if healthy. After the disastrous Brian Shaw years, the Nuggets have rebuilt their team culture and roster into something quite good.