Kurt Helin

LV Bulls Raptors

Summer League dunk of the day went to Toronto’s Norman Powell

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Not bad for a guy known for his defense.

Norman Powell was taken in the second round of the draft (46th overall) by the Bucks, but was shipped to Toronto as part of the Greivis Vasquez deal. The four-year player at UCLA’s best skills were considered to be his defense and athleticism. He fell to the second round because he needs a more consistent jumper, but he has the chance to develop into an NBA rotation player down the line.

Oh, and he can finish in transition. I think we mentioned that athleticism already.

Report: With no trade market for him, Lakers to keep Nick Young (for now)

Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks
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The Lakers shopped Nick Young around. Starting at the draft and through free agency, as they tried to reshape their roster Young was made available to anyone and everyone.

He’s still a Laker, and it’s going to stay that way for a while, reports Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.

Young is the quintessential NBA gunner, a volume shooter who averaged 13.4 points a game last season but shot 36.6 percent to get there. He is out there having fun, is not taking anything too seriously, and that has rubbed Kobe Bryant and Byron Scott the wrong way at times.

Scott said he wants to see Young work on his decision making, off-the-ball movement and off-ball defense this summer. If he does that he can be a core player for the Lakers, GM Mitch Kupchak added. But the Lakers have so much faith that is going to happen they went out and signed Lou Williams to play the same role.

Young is only making $5.2 million next season (with two season at that price after it), but coming off a knee injury that cost him half the season last year teams were not going to take the risk. That could change as things move into the season, as teams see how their rosters blend.

But for now, Young is a Laker.

News, Notes from Summer League Monday: Lakers fans boo their team

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LAS VEGAS — Monday in Las Vegas and nothing has slowed down — this is Vegas, baby. 

There was a full slate of games at the NBA Summer League, and the effort was still there, with players trying to make teams, impress scouts, and put on a show. Here is some of what we saw (notes are from Kurt Helin and Sean Highkin).

• Lakers fans again filled the Thomas & Mack to see their young stars, but this time they booed them after a brutal first quarter — the Lakers had more turnovers than points (seven to five) and shot 2-of-17, trailing the Knicks by 15 after one. The Lakers got back into it and made it interesting in the end, but their Summer League team largely remains the Jordan Clarkson show. (KH)

The Lakers have potential but a long way to go, look for more on the Lakers tomorrow on PBT.

• Kings coach George Karl spoke with the media Monday and in between questions about if he and DeMarcus Cousins were going to hang out at Tao together in Vegas (or at least talk), he was asked about how former King Derrick Williams was going to fit with the Knicks, where he signed this summer.

“Derrick’s a young player, I don’t think people realize he’s only 24-years-old and I think he has a tremendous upside of learning,” Karl said. “I think he’s been caught between a four and three as what he is, but the triangle could be good for him. He has explosive athletic talent, he’s big, strong, he can run, he can score. We liked him, we would have liked him back on our roster, but it didn’t work out.” (KH)

• Speaking of young talent on the Knicks, I loved what I saw from Jerian Grant, the Knicks draft pick out of Notre Dame. He is a fantastic passer, he’s smart with the ball in transition, he’s got impressive court vision, plus he is patient with the ball. He is a leader on the court. He’s not going to be a star, but he can give the Knicks quality minutes this year. (KH)

• As for Kristaps Porzingis, he lived up to the scouting report — both good and bad. At times he looked raw, unsure of himself, and like the game was moving a little fast for him. Then he’d make a play — like putting the ball on the floor when a defender closed out on his corner three, driving to about 6 feet, drawing the foul and banking in the shot — where you also see the potential. He made some good passes and smart plays. He’s a project, but there is a world of potential there. (KH)

• George Karl also talked about the Kings’ No. 6 pick, Willie Cauley-Stein:

“Willie is a young athlete who could use a few days where our veterans are going to tell him how to play and what he’s got to do.” (KH)

• Things you will love in the regular season: The shimmy inRondae Hollis-Jefferson’s free throw stroke. (KH)

• There was a game-tying shot worth seeing from Cleveland’s Sir Dominic Pointer Monday (the defense on this play is vintage Summer League).

• Seth Curry has never been able to stick in theNBA, but put him in the free-flowing (read: like pick-up) games of Summer League and he can fill it up. Like a relative of his, he can use his dribble to create space, and he gets his shot off quickly. Monday he put up 20 points on the Nets, showed three-point range and he had a 53 true shooting percentage. (KH)

• One Nets’ note, Austin Hollins may be the coach’s son but he belongs. At the Summer League level, not sure beyond that, but the guy should get paid to play somewhere overseas. He had 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting on Monday against the Pelicans. (KH)

Rajon Rondo on coming to Sacramento: “I just love to prove people wrong”

Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets - Game Two
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LAS VEGAS — It didn’t end well for Rajon Rondo in Dallas. Finally, the organization had him just start to stay away from the rest of the team — in the middle of a playoff series.

Monday was a new day. Rondo was onboard a charter plane that brought the heart of the Kings on the court — Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins, Marco Belinelli and others — as well as GM Vlade Divac to Las Vegas to watch just drafted rookie Willie Cauley-Stein. It was very public team bonding (to be followed by some not so public bonding through the night in Vegas).

Rondo likes what he sees in Sacramento.

“I’m excited that everybody’s doubting us,” Rondo said. “All the negative things that are going toward Sacramento as far as me coming — and the Cousins and George Karl thing — I think there’s been a lot of naysayers, a lot of doubters my entire career. And I just love to prove people wrong.”

Rondo was in a very positive space Monday. He told PBT his right knee — which had the ACL surgery — is good, and he can’t even really tell which leg had the surgery anymore.

He was even positive about his experience with the Mavericks, where he was traded last season from Boston.

“It was a learning experience,” Rondo said. “It was a great experience I had. I met one of my best friends now in Monta Ellis, I wouldn’t have met Monta if I hadn’t been traded there. Dirk (Nowitzki) is one of the funniest guys I’ve met. I gained a lot of great relationships….

“I can’t say enough about that organization, it was a great organization. (Mark) Cuban from day one was very honest with me.”

It’s one thing to have a challenge-the-narrative, everything is cool moment in Vegas in July.  It’s another to carry all this positivity into the season — and then forge relationships that work amongst a lot of strong-willed people.

Karl has coached some great point guards — and strong willed ones — in his career, guys like Gary Payton, Sam Cassell, Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups. Rondo will be another one of those.

“He’s going to challenge us as coaches, because I think he knows the game and he’ll have some things, we’ll probably some give and take on,” Karl said. “But this kid’s an All-Star, he’s a triple-double machine when he’s playing well. He likes to lead teams, he leads teams with a spirit that has some toughness to it.

“He’s a pass-first point guard, which I think is important. In the end, he and Darren (Collison) really excite me. We’re going to have two guys who can take control of the team, play together, and keep the pace of the game where we can play with a lot of freedom and creativity, and also play without turnovers….

“I think he wants to lead our team, but he also wants to be a part of the decision making. That can be somewhat combustable, but that also can work at a high level.”

Rondo said he and Karl have talked a little about the role he will play.

“I think the point guard is extremely important in George’s system,” Rondo said. “George and I always have to be on the same page, and if we communicate every day, we will be….

“Things happen in life, you learn from them, you go on. But to have the opportunity to be somewhere you want to be, and they welcome you as well, I think it’s a great fit. So far. We haven’t played any games, coach Karl hasn’t kicked me out of any practices yet, so we will see how it goes.”

It all sounds good. On paper in July. And if everything comes together for the Kings, they have the talent to surprise a lot of people in the West. But most people will be watching this team expecting the train wreck.

Rondo will have to prove everyone wrong again.

 

George Karl on DeMarcus Cousins: “We’ve got a lot of time to get back on the same page”

Atlanta Hawks v Sacramento Kings
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LAS VEGAS — That’s it right there. George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins finally met and shook hands.

That Vine is also the extent of the meeting. It didn’t last long.

But Kings’ coach George Karl — who Cousins has tweeted is a snake in the grass (via emoji) after it was reported Karl was pushing to trade Cousins — sounded like a veteran coach who is not worried about repairing that relationship, or what is said in July.

“We’ve got a lot of time to get back on the same page,” Karl said just after the Kings played in Las Vegas Monday. “Summer talk is summer drama. I’ve always thought it’s hype, and so much of it is untrue. I’m not going to get into it, but Cuz and I have to work together to get back together. And I think we will.”

Cousins has power here. His biggest supporter is the owner, and when Cousins walked in the arena Sunday with GM Vlade Divac he got a standing ovation from Kings fans. Karl realizes that this is a relationship he has to make work. He emphasized what he has before, that it is about commitment.

“All our guys are hungry for winning, but Cuz is our best player, most talented kid,” Karl said. “We need him to feel like there’s a commitment from both sides. He to us and us to him.”

Karl has a locker room of strong-willed players he needs to navigate this year — Rajon Rondo, Cousins, and Rudy Gay among them. But he noted that in the past he has coached Gary Payton, Sam Cassell, Allen Iverson, and Chauncey Billups. And he likes the challenge Rondo will provide.

“He’s a very basketball high IQ guy,” Karl said. “He’s going to challenge us as coaches, because I think he knows the game and he’ll have some things, we’ll probably some give and take on. But this kid’s an All-Star, he’s a triple-double machine when he’s playing well. He likes to lead teams, he leads teams with a spirit that has some toughness to it.

“He’s a pass-first point guard, which I think is important. In the end, he and Darren (Collison) really excite me. We’re going to have two guys who can take control of the team, play together, and keep the pace of the game where we can play with a lot of freedom and creativity, and also play without turnovers…

“I think it’s going to be fun coaching (Rondo). I think he wants to lead our team, but he also wants to be a part of the decision making. That can be somewhat combustible, but that also can work at a high level.”

That may sum up the Kings this year. It’s a combustible combination, but if they come together they could surprise a lot of people.

We’ll see how good Karl is at chemistry. But that grade is not handed out in July.