Kurt Helin

D-League v Atlanta Hawks

Top 10 dunks of the NBA Summer League (VIDEO)

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Okay, this will be our last look back at the highlights of Summer League. Probably.

But nothing is complete until you look at the best dunks.

Hard for me to decide is Jonathon Simmons or Jordan Clarkson had the best one.

Antoine Walker talks about how he went through $108 million in career earnings

Detroit Pistons v Miami Heat  - Game 4
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The story of the professional athlete burning through ridiculous amounts of money and ending up bankrupt borders on a cliché. It happens too often, not as often as critics may like to think, but plenty.

However, few blew through money like Antoine Walker.

Walker earned $108 million over the course of his 12-year, All-Star NBA career. He blew through all of it. He had to sell his championship ring due to bankruptcy. There may even be a documentary about it.

Walker talked to CNN money about blowing through the money.

As with many other sports stars, instant wealth meant instant luxury for Walker. Instead of thinking about the future, he spent lavishly on cars, jewelry and homes. “I created a very expensive lifestyle. That’s how you lose your wealth real bad at the beginning,” Walker said.

Given his humble beginnings, Walker wanted his friends and family to enjoy his riches as well. He estimates he helped about 30 people move to “better situations.” He gave cash to many of them — often without holding them accountable.

“I gave them whatever they wanted and spoiled them. You can’t do that,” Walker said. “It ended up being an open ATM throughout my career.”

Walker had a serious gambling problem as well, which has long been rumored to be the big reason his fortune disappeared. However, he said the real issue was the collapse of Walker Ventures, his Chicago real estate firm, during the great recession.

“We got caught in the recession. We had a ton of undeveloped real estate. It went bad. The banks wanted their money back,” he said.

Walker now works to get young athletes to take better care of their money than he did. The best agents try to do this as well, with varying degrees of success. But any athlete can have trouble — Tim Duncan is suing his former financial advisor.

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

Washington Wizards v Indiana Pacers
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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.