Kurt Helin

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News, notes for Summer League Wednesday: Willie Cauley-Stein active, still learning NBA game

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The playoff/tournament/whatever you call it round of the NBA Las Vegas Summer League tipped off on Wednesday. Unlike the NBA, you don’t see an increase in intensity now that the playoffs have rolled around — these guys been playing for a job, auditioning for almost a week now. A paycheck is way more motivation than the Summer League crown.

There continue to be plenty of things happening in Vegas, here’s a roundup.

• It was a scary moment when Kings’ No. 6 pick Willie Cauley-Stein left the game Wednesday limping after he banged knees with James Michael McAdoo. After a little treatment and rest he was back in — a relief for a guy who had a lot of teams concerned about his injury potential. Cauley-Stein said he just banged knees.

Cauley-Stein has looked good at times in Vegas, he is incredibly active and athletic, but he may he suffers a little from the old John Wooden line “never mistake activity for achievement.” He needs work to recognize and make NBA-level defensive rotations. That activity isn’t going to work against veterans who know how to exploit it.

“I think Willie always plays hard and he’s still adjusting to the NBA game,” Kings’ Summer League coach John Welch said. “But one thing I love with Willie is you know every night you’re going to know what you get, he’s going to give you effort.”

• The Golden State Warriors beat the Kings on Wednesday to advance to the next round of the playoffs, and the team is coming together under Luke Walton (their coach). The Warriors could pull off the never-before-done NBA title then Summer League title back-to-back.

• Sixers’ rookie guard J.P. Tokoto is going to be battling for minutes with Robert Covington, Nik Stauskas, and Hollis Thompson come the season. He gets what his role will be and that he’s going to have to earn his run this season.

“I’m a realist, I know what it is coming into it,” Tokoto said when asked if he had conversations with the team about his role. “But yeah, we have talked about it — being a defensive guy. Coming in – whether it’s garbage time or giving a vet who is playing more minutes a breather — and disrupting the other team’s offense, attacking the rim on the offensive end, offensive rebounds, being a facilitator coming off a pick, or attacking the rim like I said. Just embracing the moment.”

• And Tokoto proved he can finish at the rim.

• Ryan Boatright, who has had a good Summer League trying to make the Nets (he has a partially guaranteed deal, just a $75K buyout), left the Nets game in the first half Wednesday with a shoulder injury after he took a flagrant foul from the Sixers Steve Zach (who threw a hip into him and knocked him flat during an inbound play).  Boatright came back in and took his free throws, but this is Summer League and there is no reason to make a guy play through injuries.

Just signed Pierre Jackson suited up for his first game for the Sixers, and his pink Kobe’s may have been the most impressive thing we saw from him.

source:

Jackson finished with 9 points on 3-of-9 shooting, and was 0-of-4 from three.

 

• One thing you consistently hear from college players trying to adjust to the NBA game now is the constant movement of it. With a 24-second shot clock (not 35) and a defensive three seconds in the lane call, there is just a lot more motion and quicker action even in a Summer League game.

• All the big names from Duke’s national championship team — Jahlil Okafor, Justice Winslow, etc. — were absent from Summer League on Wednesday because they were all in Los Angeles for the ESPYs. Winslow is not playing anymore for the Heat this summer; it is unclear if Okafor returns for the Sixers.

Milwaukee arena financing plan takes step forward, passes state Senate

bucks arena rendering
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Owners current and former of the Milwaukee Bucks have put up $250 million of their money to get a new arena built for the Bucks — something that, if it doesn’t happen, could see the team moving out of state, the team president threatened.

Getting the arena built is going to require another $250 million in state money, something Governor (and presidential candidate) Scott Walker put together a plan to do. However, that plan has to get through the Wisconsin legislature. And while Commissioner Adam Silver supports the plan, not everyone supports public money for arenas.

The Governor’s plan cleared the first hurdle Wednesday when the state Senate approved the measure by a 21-10 vote. The Bucks released this statement from team president Peter Feigin:

“Today’s vote is a significant step forward in our collective effort to build a new sports and entertainment district in Wisconsin. We appreciate the bipartisan leadership in Madison for bringing this transformative partnership one step closer to reality. We’re optimistic that this financing package will receive support in the Assembly and look forward to working with state, county and city officials.”

Bucks co-owner Alexander Lasry tweeted this about the vote:

The state Assembly will take up the issue this week. If it clears that house, the Governor will sign it and the arena will break ground relatively quickly.

Republicans in Wisconsin are the majority and back the plan, but need to get some Democrats on board to make it pass. If you are into the minutia of Wisconsin politics and the horse trading that will go on to get this deal done (or not), this Journal-Sentinel article can explain the details that I’m not going to bother to.

Adam Silver fought to keep the Kings in Sacramento (while Deputy Commissioner he helped make that push) but the new owner and state legislature there were able to get a deal done to build a new arena (which will open for the 2016-17 season).

If this arena deal doesn’t get done, then things will get very interesting. The NBA has the right under the terms of the sale of the team to buy it back from the current owners (at $25 million more than they paid for it) and find another owner. That might be tough to do in state, but there would be a line of people willing to move the team. Not that the threat of moving a squad is a good reason to put public money into an arena that will make billionaires richer.

Nets’ Thomas Robinson has arthroscopic knee surgery, will be ready for training camp

Brooklyn Nets New Player Portraits
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Thomas Robinson hasn’t lived up to the hype of being the No. 5 pick in the draft three years ago. However, the guy still has some value — he grabbed 22.6 percent of the available rebounds when he was on the court for the Sixers last season, plus he averaged 8.8 points a game in 18.5 minutes a night.

He started to rehab his image in Philly, which is why the Nets — a team in desperate need of youth and athleticism (and hope for the future) — snatched him up this summer.

Robinson injured himself working out in New York and on Wednesday underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, the team announced.

Robinson had a torn meniscus repaired and is expected to be ready for training camp next fall.

It will be interesting to see if Robinson will be able to get minutes at the four with Thaddeus Young, Andrea Bargnani, and Willie Reed also all battling for minutes there.

Matt Bonner re-signs with the Spurs. And all is right with the world.

Los Angeles Clippers v San Antonio Spurs - Game Four
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The Spurs will still know all the best places to get a good sandwich while on the road.

Matt Bonner — the veteran floor-spacing big man and self-made sandwich expert — has re-signed with the Spurs for another season. The story was broken by Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News and since confirmed by the team.

This is a one-year deal for the veteran minimum.

Bonner averaged 13 minutes a night in 72 games for San Antonio last season (starting 19) and shot 36.5 percent from three, down from his career 41 percent average, but that was due to the iPhone 6.

He is player 14 under contract for the Spurs next season, don’t expect any more additions to walk through that door.

Mark Cuban, Steve Ballmer talk, clear the air

Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets - Game Two
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Mark Cuban has decided the best way to communicate directly with Mavs fans — and promote his app at the same time — is to post things on Cyber Dust.

He did that again on Wednesday, discussing a meeting he had with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, clearing the air over DeAndre Jordan and his decision to go back on a verbal commitment to the Mavs and re-sign with the Clippers. That move and the NBA signing moratorium have been the talk of Summer League in Las Vegas, and Cuban addressed both.

Here is what Cuban said, via the Dallas Morning News.

Hey mavs fans. So I had a nice conversation with Steve Ballmer, owner of the Clippers yesterday during our NBA meetings.

It started off more than a little frigid , but we both cleared the air on a few things.

I told him exactly what I told other owners, I didn’t have a problem with his hail Mary approach to keeping a player. I understood why they did it. And even how they did it. They got their player back. End of story.

They are still a few unresolved issues that the NBA will have to work through but one I don’t feel is an issue is the moratorium .

Nothing that happened with this deal was the result of the moratorium

The thing about the NBA is that you don’t know which deals are the good deals and which arrows you avoided till you start playing the games

My guess is that we open the season against the Clippers. That’s when the real fun will being

+letsgomavs

I want the Mavs and Clippers on Christmas Day, too.

While there was some concern in some front offices about the moratorium, the fact is there were too many hurdles to clear to get it changed. It would have required getting the majority of GMs/league officials on the competition committee to agree on a change, then getting a majority of owners to sign off on it, then negotiating it with the NBA players union (where Chris Paul is the president). Good luck with all that.

Next year the moratorium is two days longer than this year.

Expect this one change — teams that get an early commitment from a free agent will not stop recruiting and will babysit their stars right up to the signing day.