Kurt Helin

Utah Jazz v Houston Rockets

Report: Rockets look to bring back rookies K.J. McDaniels, Kostas Papanikolaou.

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Kostas Papanikolaou played in just more than half the Rockets’ games this past season, and got 18.5 minutes a night when he did get in. K.J. McDaniels had been a stud rookie in Philadelphia but barely saw the court in Houston as the season wore on (then fractured his elbow in the season finale).

The Rockets were the No. 2 seed and a Western Conference Finals participant, they are not a team flush with minutes to develop rookies like Papanikolaou and McDaniels. Yet, watch the best teams in the NBA and they find ways to replenish their roster and stay young (and athletic) by developing younger players.

Which is why the Rockets want both Papanikolaou and McDaniels back, reports Jonathan Feigen at the Houston Chronicle.

KJ McDaniels will be a free agent, but the Rockets hope to sign him. The Rockets do want to bring back Kostas Papanikolaou, but Rosas said “a decision has not been made” about whether to exercise their option on the second year of his contract or to try to sign him again as a free agent.

They likely will bring both back.

McDaniels is a restricted free agent, and while there will be some interest, a guy coming off an elbow fracture is not going to draw the kind of offer that Houston would hesitate to match. With Papanikolaou, the Rockets likely pick up his option, then have him as a restricted free agent next summer.

The Rockets have other, higher priorities to focus on this summer — what to do at the point guard spot, adding depth up front — so the rookies are not on the front burner. If those two want to see the court more next season, the quickest way to do it is develop a quality three-point shot — the Rockets are looking to add shooters. Start to show that off and minutes will follow.

Jamal Crawford shows up, puts on show at Isaiah Thomas’ basketball tournament

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Seven
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The free-flowing, light-defense, street-ball games of the summer pro-am and tournament circuit fits the game of some NBA players more than others.

It fits Jamal Crawford like a tailored suit.

The Clippers’ Crawford showed off his game Memorial Day weekend in Tacoma, Wash., (remember Crawford is from the Seattle area) at Celtics’ guard Isaiah Thomas’ Memorial Day Zeke-End Basketball Tournament. The best part of this video is when Crawfords decides to try and nutmeg (go between the legs) of Boston’s Kelly Olynyk.

Aside this one defender, Crawford is just too much for everyone involved. Watching NBA guys destroy lesser talent is one of the joys of summer.

(Hat tip Eye on Basketball)

Quote of the day: Joey Crawford once gave a technical foul so hard he broke a finger

Joey Crawford
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“One night, I hit Bill Fitch with a technical so hard, I broke my finger. My finger was all swollen. I slammed my whole hand down on it when I gave the signal. That’s why I changed my signal to a little one-finger tap — because I broke it once the old way.”

—Joey Crawford, veteran NBA referee, reminiscing about his career in a fantastic New York Times article.

There are 30 NBA fan bases convinced Joey Crawford has it in for their team. He is distinctive, he has a big personality, and he is fearless — if your team is on the road, you should be happy to see Crawford. No referee is less influenced by fans and more likely to make a tough call against the home team than Crawford.

Go read the New York Times story, it’s filled with a lot of insight into Crawford — who I have always found to be affable and with a great sense of humor off the court — and it’s filled with great stories.

“Moses Malone was one of the funniest. We were in Denver, I think he was playing with Philly at the time, and that day, a reporter had done a top-10 referee list and my name was in there. So my first call of the night is like a loose-ball foul on Moses, and Moses just turns and says, “That is not a top-10 call.” I had to laugh.”

 

His former Spanish teammate Marcus Landry says Kristaps Porzingis should be No. 1 pick

CCajasol-Obradoiro en San Pablo.
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For many NBA fans — and a few front office types — Kristaps Porzingis is a mystery man. He’s a seven-footer out of Latvia and the Spanish league who has a sweet outside shooting stroke and the ability to finish in the lane.

But how good is he?

Good enough that he should be in the mix for the No. 1 pick if you ask the Bucks’ Marcus Landry And why should you ask Landry? Because he andPorzingas were teammates at Cajasol Sevilla in the Spanish ABC league (the second best league in the world right now).

Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times did ask Landry and got a glowing report.

“It sad nobody really knows much about this kid right now because he played in Spain,’’ Landry said. “I think this kid is amazing.’’…

“Honestly, I think Kristaps should be the No. 1 pick if you’re going to base it off potential,’’ Landry said. “I personally think he’s the best kid in the draft. And I’m not saying that because he’s a friend of mine.

“I know basketball. I’ve been in the NBA; I’ve been around NBA players. I’d tell you if he sucks. But he’s really good. If he goes beyond No. 2, that would be a mistake on some team’s part.’’

There are scouts that agree with Landry.

Porzingas is big but what grabs scouts attention is the fluidity of his game — he plays like a three on the wing, but can finish with authority in the paint. He can thrive in an uptempo game, or a league trending small. The biggest plus is a sweet shooting stroke, a quick release that already has NBA three-point range.  His length and athleticism make him strong on the glass, and his length allows him to block shots in the paint. He is the walking definition of a guy with upside.

He has to put on muscle, and he needs time to develop a better feel for the game. The team that drafts him may be three years away from really knowing what they got.

But if you ask Landry, they are getting a franchise player.

Porzingas will be drafted somewhere between the Sixers at No. 3 — GM Sam Hinkie likes him and D’Angelo Russell — and No. 5, no way he falls past the Magic. In between are the Knicks at No. 4, a team willing to trade their pick.

 

Report: Miami to offer Goran Dragic five-year deal, but not at max salary

Orlando Magic v Miami Heat
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The Miami Heat want to give Goran Dragic the ball and tell him to run their offense — they traded for the point guard in the middle of last season and Pat Riley has been clear he has every intention to re-sign him (Dragic can and will opt out this summer).

That includes offering a fifth year on his contract — something only Miami can do, and a stability Dragic has said he wants. However, the Heat plan to make their first offer considerably less than a max contract, which would be worth in excess of $100 million, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Heat are planning to offer Dragic a five-year deal in excess of $80 million to keep him in Miami after acquiring the 2014 All-NBA third-team selection from Phoenix on trade deadline day in February….

A five-year maximum deal for Dragic would exceed $100 million but Miami also might find itself dealing with Dwyane Wade’s free agency one summer earlier than expected if Wade decides to bypass his $16.1 million player option for next season. The Heat also await a decision from Luol Deng about his plans to either invoke next season’s $10.2 million player option or opt for free agency.

If the offer is five-years, $80 million (give or take), expect Dragic to step back and assess his options. That’s $16 million a year (and Florida has no state income tax). However, a four-year max offer from another team will be in the $85 million range with an annual salary of more than $21 million (exact figures are not available as next year’s salary cap is not yet locked in place). A team like the Lakers or Knicks may well put a max of offer on the table. Which might force Miami to go a little higher.

But Dragic would be faced with a question: Does he want that fifth guaranteed year when he will be 33, or is he willing to be a free agent again a year earlier to get the higher salary now? Then come the factors of where he wants to live and the style of play of those teams (Miami seems a good fit there).

If I were to bet I would say Miami keeps Dragic this summer, but it is no slam dunk.