Kurt Helin

Shabazz Napier, Andre Miller

Report: Veteran point guard Andre Miller reaches one-year deal with Timberwolves

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Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns are about to be finishing alley-oops from the best lob passer in the game — this is going to be fun to watch.

They already had Kevin Garnett, now the Timberwolves are about to add another veteran to their locker room, a guy who can help guide a talented but young core.

Minnesota has reached a deal with veteran point guard Andre Miller, something first reported by Shams Charania of Real GM and confirmed by Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

Former Brooklyn Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks notes this is not much of a cap hit for the Timberwolves, as the NBA pitches in on all veteran minimum deals.

This is a smart pickup for the Timberwolves. Miller split time between the Wizards and Kings last season (the fact that the Kings didn’t retain him should be a sign George Karl doesn’t have sway over personnel decisions). Even at age 39 Miller provides some good play on the court (with the Kings under Karl he averaged 5.7 points and 4.7 assists per game). His game is the definition of crafty.

Ricky Rubio will be the starter opening night at the point for Minnesota, but behind him are two talented but young players — Zach LaVine and Tyus Jones (the latter of which looked pretty good at Summer League). Miller can both provide some stability in that rotation and be a mentor to the younger players.

Highlight reel: Best assists of 2014-15 NBA season

Detroit Pistons v San Antonio Spurs
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On a slow summer day, here is a little something to remind you of the 2014-15 season — and whet your appetite for the coming season this fall.

Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, LeBron James all show off their passing skills, but it may be Manu Ginobili who steals the show. That guy is still a wizard with the ball.

Warriors promote Luke Walton to lead assistant coach

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans
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On the court, Golden State is getting the band back together. If you win 67 games and an NBA title, don’t mess with it.

Off the court, however, popular lead assistant and the guy overseeing the offense in Alvin Gentry will be gone. He’s now the head coach in New Orleans.

Wednesday the Warriors made the expected official and promoted Luke Walton into the second seat next to Steve Kerr, the team announced. It’s something CSNBayArea.com’s Monte Poole got Kerr to talk about recently.

“Luke is fantastic,” Kerr said last month. “He’s really sharp and he’s got a great way about him. I think Luke is a future head coach in this league. He’s already on the front of the bench, so he’s doing pretty well for himself.”

Walton spent 10 years as an NBA player and won two championships as a member of the Lakers. Before coming to the Warriors Walton had been working with the D-Fenders of the NBA’s D-League. This past summer he coached the Warriors Summer League team. And yes, he is the son of Hall of Famer Bill Walton.

Also moving up a slot in the Warriors coaching pecking order will be Jarron Collins. The former NBA player spent last season as the Warriors’ player development coach, now he will be an official assistant coach. Veteran NBA assistant Ron Adams also will remain on the Warriors’ bench.

These moves fall under the “don’t change horses in the middle of the stream” theory. Golden State is just going to keep doing what they do until someone stops it.

 

Raptors’ coach Dwane Casey says expect more small ball from the Raptors this year

Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards - Game Four
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Dwane Casey didn’t follow the small ball trend much last season. Leaning on Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson as his starting front line and guys like Patrick Patterson behind them, Casey didn’t experiment with putting the athletic DeMar DeRozan at the four much last season (not enough to draw any real conclusions).

That could change this coming season, especially with the addition of DeMarre Carroll.

Casey still prefers to go big. But considering that Johnson now in Boston and Carroll replaces him, plus surveying the landscape of the East, expect to see the Raptors go smaller next season at times, Casey told the Toronto Sun.

“I think the trend now is smaller basketball but I’ve always said as long as the goal is 10 foot high, size matters,” Casey said during an appearance at the team’s summer camp at Humber College on Monday. “But DeMarre (Carroll) can play the four, the three. He can guard the four position with LeBron James at the four, Carmelo Anthony at the four, Paul George back and at the four. He helps us in that respect.

“You can play Kyle (Lowry) and Cory (Joseph) at the same time, you can play Kyle, Cory and DeMar (DeRozan) at the same time. We’ve got a lot of flexibility as far as our roster is concerned.”

A lineup with Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, DeRozan, Carroll and Valanciunas would be interesting. It should be explored at the very least.

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri revamped the Raptors roster this summer into something that will be more defensive oriented. That’s where Carroll comes in, and that will be the biggest adjustment for Toronto this season. They had been a Top 10 defense just a couple of years ago, the goal is to get back to that being a calling card.

But to me, making that work — and making the offense work with those lineups — will come back to Valanciunas. For the Raptors to take a real step forward, he is going to have to make leaps forward, and that has to start with rim protection on defense. It’s not been his forte, he needs to become more of a force that way.

Also, Valanciunas shoots a high percentage with his touches in the paint and close to the basket. Will a smaller lineup with some shooters around him (Carroll at the four, he shot 39.4 percent from three) open up space inside for him to operate?

Toronto is still going to win enough games to win the Atlantic division this season. They have some talent and will put up points. But there is going to need to be success with both small ball and more Valanciunas to take a leap back up with teams in the second tier in the conference such as Chicago, Atlanta, Washington and Miami.

Damian Lillard, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Kimmell all star in latest Foot Locker ad

adidas Damian Lillard NBA All-Star 2015 2 Sq
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Pretty good ad — you have to love Jimmy Kimmell in this one. While Damian Lillard has had some spots before, Andrew Wiggins getting a little screen time is nice.

By the way, they filmed that in Long Beach, I’ve played pickup on that court before, there’s some pretty good run. Come to think of it, I may have dressed a lot like Kimmell did.