Kurt Helin

Washington Wizards v Indiana Pacers

Report: With no trade market now, Nene likely to be with Wizards at start of season

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With the Wizards having success going small in the playoffs — Paul Pierce was the four at key moments — Washington management decided to check the trade market for Nene this summer. Which was all good with many Wizards fans — in DC Nene became the scapegoat for last season, especially after an Al Horford putback cost them game five against the Hawks (Washington lost in six).

Turns out, there wasn’t much of a market.

Meaning expect Nene to be a Wizard at the start of next season, reports CSNWashington’s J. Michael.

CSNwashington.com reported earlier this offseason that Nene, who is entering the final year of a deal that pays him $13 million, didn’t draw any interest in the trade market and isn’t likely to be moved before the start of the 2015-16 season. If he is eventually moved with that expiring deal, that’s more likely to happen near the February trade deadline but if they allow his size to leave they’ll want size in return. Being injury-prone is a recurring issue, but the Wizards like him, and they’ll need him to get past the Chicago Bulls or Cleveland Cavaliers in the postseason.

J. Michael also sticks up for Nene against the heat he took in the nation’s capital. On that final play of Game 5, Michael notes Nene did leave Horford, but only because first Paul Pierce on the switch was beaten by Dennis Schroeder driving the lane, then when John Wall recovered and blocked the shot off the glass. After leaving Horford, Nene went over to body up Paul Millsap, who after setting the pick had beaten Pierce badly and was in great rebounding position. The real issue was that Pierce chased the ball then didn’t help the helper — Nene got Pierce’s man, Pierce needed to put a body on Horford. Didn’t happen. But if Nene had stuck right with his man then Millsap gets the tip for the win. The Wizard defense was not exactly on a string, the only guy who did what he was supposed to was Bradley Beal, who didn’t leave Kyle Kover.

Michael took a bigger picture view as well.

How quickly those forget that the culture in D.C. changed when the 7-foot Brazilian arrived in a trade with the Denver Nuggets and JaVale McGee and the circus that surrounded him was shipped away for good.

Nene was part of the much-needed culture change that has allowed Wall to flourish of late. Washington isn’t thinking conference finals without part of what Nene brought.

Think of it this way, a guy with more holes in his game in Rajon Rondo came into the league and landed in Boston, where veterans like Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and others taught him how to be a professional and play on the game’s biggest stages. Wall landed on a team with Gilbert Arenas, McGee, and Andray Blatche. Reverse those situations and how are those two point guards different?

All that said, expect to hear Nene’s name come up in a lot of trade rumors as we work our way into next season.

 

Trail Blazers sign Cliff Alexander, Phil Pressey to contracts

Brooklyn Nets v Orlando Magic-White
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Kansas big man Cliff Alexander was one of the best players not drafted back on June 25. He was considered a bubble first round guy who just plummeted off the board. He has a big, NBA-ready body as a center with fantastic athleticism. What he lacked was much of an offensive touch — he has a straight-line game that relies on his athleticism to get things done. He was a project.

The Nets gave him a chance in Summer League and he looked athletic and raw. In 22 minutes a game he averaged 8.3 points, but on 37.7 percent shooting, plus he grabbed 7.8 boards a game.

That was enough for Portland to sign him — and point guard Phil Pressey – to contracts, the team announced.

Pressey’s contract is guaranteed for one year. Alexander’s is a make-good deal — there is some buyout cash but he needs to make the roster to really get paid.

While the Trail Blazers have a couple potential roster spots available, it’s going to be hard for Alexander to earn one. They will start Mason Plumlee at the five with veteran Chris Kaman behind him, plus Meyers Leonard can play the four or five depending on the lineup.

The more likely scenario is Alexander heads to the D-League to work on his game, and if he can add some offensive versatility he will get a call-up next season. He’s got the tools; it’s just a matter of learning how to use them.

 

Justise Winslow says he needs to adapt to physicality, schedule of NBA

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics
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Justise Winslow looked every bit the rookie with promise in Summer League. He’s got a world of physical talent, but he isn’t quite sure how to use that yet. Plus, his shot needs work. I still think this will be an excellent pick for Miami, but they are going to have to develop him, he isn’t walking in the door polished.

What does he need to adjust to? The physicality of the NBA game and the unrelenting schedule (which he just got a couple of week taste of). That’s what Winslow told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

“More games, more physical, more back-to-back,” he said. “You have to figure out ways to fight through it.”

Winslow is fortunate to have a veteran player reach out to him, one who understands the wear and tear the NBA season takes on a player — none other than Mr. Heat Dwyane Wade.

“Everything between me and Dwyane has been helping me transition from college to the pros,” Winslow said. “We barely talk anything Heat [related]. He’s just helping me get adjusted from everything from the lifestyle to the duration of the season, how to take care of my body, diet and nutrition.”

Players will tell you the hardest adjustment is the pace of play — it is faster than college — and the physicality that goes along with it. Which ties back into what Winslow is saying — this is a marathon that grinds guys down. Winslow is learning fast that conditioning and taking care of his body is the foundation for everything else he wants to do in the league.

I love the Winslow pick for the Heat — he started to use his physicality to get to the line in Summer League. At least he did until he got a mild ankle sprain and the team wisely dialed him way back. I think in a couple of years he will fit right in with the space and pace plan in Miami.

The fact that he realizes there is a lot of work to do is a big first step.

Harrison Barnes says he hopes to stay with Warriors long term

Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors
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The Golden State Warriors could sign Harrison Barnes to an extension of his rookie contract anytime between now and Halloween.

Will they is another question. Maybe the better question is can they agree on a price? The Warriors already have five guys on the books making more than $11 million in the 2016-17 season (when Barnes’ extension would kick in) — Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry. Barnes started all 103 regular season and playoff games the Warriors had in their championship run, and during the season he averaged 10.1 points a night shooting 40 percent from three, plus pulling down 5.5 boards a game. His versatility fits perfectly with what they do. How much is that worth?

Know this, Barnes wants to stay in Golden State. Here is what he told Diamond Leung of the Bay Area Media Group:

“I mean, we just won a championship,” Barnes said. “Of course I’d love to keep this group together for many years to come, you know what I’m saying? So that’s obvious….

“(Warriors co-owner) Joe Lacob has been obviously very vocal about keeping the team together, so therefore I’m not really too concerned about how it’s going to shake out.”

You have to be impressed with how GM Bob Myers and the Warriors front office put this roster together, not just on the court but financially. Every time someone is due to get paid, a big salary comes off the books. In Barnes case, it will be Gerald Wallace (who is supposed to be coming West in the David Lee trade expected to be finalized Monday). Beyond that, when Curry’s deal ends and they look to max him out, both Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala’s salaries come off the books. They may be able to retain Bogut and/or Iguodala, but likely at more reasonable prices.

What this means is the Warriors have the money to potentially give Barnes, but what is he worth? Green just got five-years, $82 million ($16.4 million average) while Klay Thompson got four-years, $69 million last summer ($17.25 average). Barnes should make less than those guys, but in the eight-figure range? Probably.

Another question is, will Barnes take much less? If the two sides don’t reach an agreement, Barnes becomes a restricted free agent next summer when more than two-thirds of the league will have somewhere close to max money to offer (thanks to the television deal revenue flooding in). It’s a situation ripe to see Barnes get a big deal the Warriors may not want to match.

Barnes wants to stay a Warrior, and the Warriors want to keep Barnes. But that may not be enough to get a deal done. Just something to watch.

Best crossovers of 2015 NBA Summer League (VIDEO)

Houston Rockets v Charlotte Hornets
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As NBA Summer League starts to fade in our rearview mirror, let’s take another look back at it.

Here are the best crossovers of the summer, as compiled by the fine folks at NBA.com. Who doesn’t love a good crossover? Okay, a few of these are not really crossovers, but still they are good moves and better than any other NBA action you’re going to see today. Enjoy.