Kurt Helin

Los Angeles Lakers v Philadlephia 76ers

Jahlil Okafor shows off offensive potential vs. Lakers

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The Lakers couldn’t have gone wrong picking at No. 2, choosing between Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell. It will be three to five years before we know if the Lakers made the smarter choice, but there was not a bad one.

However, the polished Okafor was always more likely to be the better rookie. He showed some of that off against the Lakers in a summer league game Saturday, scoring 19 points (on 6-of-14 shooting), grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists, leading the Sixers in all three categories.

Once again, check out the patience, court awareness and footwork on this play.

Mark Cuban pretends he’s never heard of DeAndre Jordan (VIDEO)

Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors
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Mark Cuban has talked plenty about DeAndre Jordan’s decision to go back on his original verbal commitment to the Mavericks and re-sign with the Clippers.

Cuban talked about how Jordan didn’t call him, then didn’t take his apology.

But when Cuban went on the NBA TV broadcast from Summer League of his Mavericks and was asked about Jordan he dodged the issue in a pretty damn funny way.

Watch highlights of Karl-Anthony Towns impressive first Summer League game

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You can see where Karl-Anthony Towns has the chance to be special.

At moments he looked like what he is — a rookie in his first Summer League game, adjusting to a new style of play — but in parts of his debut against the Lakers Friday night you could see it. With some of the shots and passing, the way ne moves, there is the potential for him to be a real franchise cornerstone in Minnesota. He shot 4-of-10 for 11 points.

Brett Pollakoff of PBT was in Las Vegas for that game and spoke with Towns afterward, if you want more depth than a video check it out. If not, just replay what’s above.

Report: Sacramento Kings near deal to sign Andrea Bargnani

Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks
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Knicks fans are about to freak out at this statement, but it’s true: Andrea Bargnani played okay for them down the stretch last season. By the time he returned to the court from injury last February, the Knicks were out of out of the playoff picture, but he put up 14.8 points per game and shot 36.6 percent from three. He had a PER of 16.6, above the league average. He’s never going to live up to the hype of being drafted No. 1, and he’s not going to help a team out defensively, but if his role is limited and off the bench he could help a team.

The Sacramento Kings need more shooting, and they are about to land him.

From Marc Stein of ESPN.

Bargnani was not worth the $11.5 million the Knicks paid him last season, but if the Kings can get him for the minimum or a couple million, it’s not a bad deal.

Sacramento has guys who are going to get a lot of run that teams are going to dare to shoot the jumper — Rajon Rondo at the point, rookie Willie Cauley Stein — and they needed some guys who can space the floor. This is not a game changer for the Kings, but it wouldn’t be a terrible signing, either.

LeBron on Cavaliers’ off-season: “It’s been good so far, but we have a lot of work to do”

LeBron James
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LeBron James used his free agency to leverage the Cleveland Cavaliers management to improve the team this off-season. Whether he needed to put on that show or not (he didn’t), owner Dan Gilbert is going to break out the checkbook. The Cavaliers will have the highest payroll in the land next season — 0ne that includes a hefty luxury tax bill that will push the Cavs’ up to $200 million or so spent on players.

So what does LeBron think of the efforts to re-sign Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert (and himself), plus get Mo Williams?

It’s a good start, but he wants to see more, he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN at an Akron premiere of his movie “Trainwreck.”

“It’s been good so far, but we have a lot of work to do,” said James, who co-stars in the movie, when asked about the Cavs’ offseason. “We still got to re-sign Tristan [Thompson]. Hopefully we can bring back J.R. [Smith] as well and see if there’s some other free agents out there that’d love to come here and play if we’re able to do that.

“We definitely don’t want to come back the same team. We want to come back better. But right now, we’ve been doing so far, so good.”

The Tristan Thompson deal will likely get done. Eventually. There’s a gap between the two sides — Thompson reportedly wants Draymond Green level money (five years, $85 million), while the Cavaliers realize he isn’t worth that much. Thompson and LeBron share an agent, so LeBron can lean on the Cavs to get a deal done, while Thompson has to know there are few teams left with the cap space to make him an offer sheet in the ballpark he wants. The sides will figure it out.

J.R. Smith could be a different story. The Cavaliers have a great trade chip in the expiring $10.5 million contract of Brendan Haywood, and they are shopping it around looking for wing depth. If they find a deal for a player less erratic than Smith, then they may not be as eager to re-sign him. At least at a price that Smith would like.

The biggest advantage the Cavaliers have going into next season is continuity — a second year with the core playing together, a second year working with coach David Blatt. The second half of last season the Cavaliers started to figure it out, they were an offensive juggernaut, and they might have won it all if not for playoff injuries to Love and Kyrie Irving. Next season they will be better just for having had those experiences and time together.

But the roster will be deeper, too. LeBron should be happy.