Kurt Helin

Report: Spurs trade Boris Diaw to Jazz, clear room to sign Pau Gasol

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Every time the Utah Jazz have made a move this off-season, the reaction has been: “That’s a smart play. This is going to be a good team.”

This latest news fits right in line with that: The San Antonio Spurs have agreed to trade French forward Boris Diaw to Utah, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

As noted by Woj, the Spurs are doing this for one reason only — to clear out the cap space needed to sign Pau Gasol, and this does that. With Tim Duncan leaning toward retirement, Gasol can step into that role (with more offense but less defense) and keep them as an elite team. The Spurs are doing what they need to do in a West were it feels like Golden State won the arms race.

Utah is building a deep, versatile roster that is certainly going to be a playoff team, and wouldn’t shock me if they are a fourth or fifth seed. That started with trading for George Hill to play the point (along with Dante Exum, who should be back from injury) and runs right through this move.

Diaw is kind of a point forward — he can’t truly run the point but he has a point guard skill set in some ways, shot 36 percent from three last season, and is one of the best passing bigs in the league (remember how key he was as a facilitator on the 2014 Spurs). While conditioning can be an issue, he’s more nimble than he gets credit for and plays solid defense because of it. Plus,  Diaw is slated to make a very reasonable $7 million this season, with a team option for $7.5 million next season.

This is a win-win for both teams. But mostly, it’s just another sign of where the Jazz are headed.

Report: David West to join Warriors on one-year, veteran minimum contract

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David West wants a ring. Badly.

Last year he gave up $11 million to leave the Pacers and join the Spurs, and while he played well for them as a big off the bench, the Spurs didn’t get that ring. He chose to opt out of that contract before free agency started, and in this market he could have made eight figures because of his skill and highly-valued locker room leadership.

He is joining the Golden State Warriors and not taking the big checks to do it, as first reported by David Aldridge of NBA.com and TNT.

The veteran minimum for West is $1.55 million, with the league picking up a chunk of that (the Warriors will pay out less than $1 million). That doesn’t change the basics with this signing.

Last season West’s minutes and raw numbers went down as he transitioned to a reserve role, but his efficiency went up. He averaged just 7.1 points and four rebounds a game, but he had a career-best true shooting percentage of 57.3 percent, and he shot a career-best 42.9 percent from three because of the good looks he was getting. He was simply getting better shots — last season he took 48.7 percent of his shots inside 10 feet of the rim (up from 35.7 percent his last season in Indiana). He’s a pick-and-pop threat with a good midrange jumper, and he’s a physical on-ball defender. He’s not the force he was seven years ago, but he’s still a quality NBA player.

The bottom line: The Warriors just added an above-average NBA player for the veteran minimum. This is what other teams feared would happen — good players taking less to chase a ring with the Warriors. Golden State got a good deal with this one.

Sixers’ Ben Simmons turns heads in NBA debut despite early injury exit (VIDEO)

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons made his NBA debut at the Utah Jazz Summer League on Monday and showed glimpses of why there are superstar expectations for the LSU product.

He also put a scare into 76ers fans when he left the game in the fourth quarter due to cramps in both calves.

The 6-foot-10, 240-pounder displayed why the 76ers will use him as a point forward at times by grabbing rebounds, pushing the ball up floor and dishing out assists in transition.

Summer league is his first taste of the NBA, but Simmons said he’s not measuring himself against the rest of his class.

“I’m looking at the top guys like (LeBron James) and (Kevin Durant),” Simmons said. “Those are the guys I have to be facing, so I have to get ready for them.

“I respect everybody. I don’t fear anyone. So when we go into every game, I’m willing to put in the work to win. That’s the goal coming in here — just to win every game.”

Simmons’ night ended early after attacking the basket midway through the fourth quarter. Cramps in his right calf began to bother him in the third quarter, but he stretched out on the bench and returned without issue. Simmons hit the floor in the fourth and wasn’t able to get up as play continued. Two teammates helped him up during a timeout and he leaned on both to walk straight to the locker room. Simmons never returned.

“It’s been about four months since I played, that’s the main reason,” Simmons said. “More fluids. It’s just an adjustment. The game’s a lot harder, a lot quicker. It’s just one of those things you have to stay on.

“That’s the worst I’ve ever cramped up. I’m definitely going to stay on that.”

Simmons finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists in just under 24 minutes of play as the Celtics won 102-94. He started the game guarding and being guarded by Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft. Simmons first points came off a pair of free throws in the first quarter and his first field goal was an elbow jumper with 7:19 left in the second quarter. He shot 2 for 9 from the field and made all six free-throw attempts.

“Passing, ball-handling, confidence, communication, swagger, enthusiasm, love for teammates,” 76ers Summer League coach Billy Lange said. “It wasn’t about him. I said that yesterday, that was the first thing I noticed. He was just excited to be 19 years old and around a bunch of guys and put that logo on his chest.

“He’s a basketball player. He’s a really good basketball player. … Anyone that’s watched enough basketball sees a skill-set there that’s really exciting.”

Lange said Simmons won’t play against the Spurs tomorrow, but managing minutes has been part of the plan for the entire team. He said they’re taking it game-by-game and doesn’t yet know the plan for Thursday’s game against the Jazz.

“We might have been able to put him back in, but on July 4, we didn’t need to create those fireworks,” Lange said. “We’ve got a long Summer League schedule ahead of us.”

Simmons’ vision was clear throughout the night and that part of his game seems NBA-ready. He wowed the crowd with a slick bounce pass as he sprinted full-speed that ended in a Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot transition layup. That was just one of several passes in traffic that ended in points for teammates.

“It’s hard to stop somebody who’s 6-10 coming at you full speed,” Simmons said. “As long as everybody else is running with me, I think good things can happen.”

Report: Amid massive roster changes, Warriors will keep Shaun Livingston in place

shaun livingson
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Harrison Barnes? Gone. Andrew Bogut? Gone. Festus Ezeli? Gone. Leandro Barbosa and Marreese Speights? Gone.

The Warriors had to get rid of a lot of the depth that was one of their strengths to make room for Kevin Durant on their roster — which is still the right move, he’s Kevin freakin’ Durant. But there’s a price to pay.

One guy who is not going anywhere? Shaun Livingston. Marc Spears of The Undefeated had the details for ESPN.

The decision to retain Livingston had actually been made prior to Durant’s announcement on The Players’ Tribune on Monday. By remaining on the Warriors’ roster as of June 30, Livingston’s remaining $5.8 million became fully guaranteed for next season. The Warriors informed Livingston about their decision to keep him for next season on Monday morning.

Livingston averaged 6.3 points and 3.0 assists primarily as Stephen Curry‘s backup this past season, his second with the Warriors.

The Warriors essentially had to choose between Livingston and Ezeli at that roster price and they went with Livingston, who played a key role in keeping Curry’s minutes in check. The Warriors prioritized players that would fit with the small ball lineups they will roll out most of the time. They filled in the bigs with a $2.9 million contract for Zaza Pachulia.

It’s good to see Livingston, who has seen the ultimate highs and lows in his NBA career, be so highly thought of. That said, a year from now — when Durant opts out to get a new max deal from the Warriors, plus they need to max out Curry — different decisions may be made.

NBA players react to Kevin Durant heading to Golden State

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The NBA world was turned on its head on the Fourth of July.

Kevin Durant announced he was joining the Warriors, and NBA Twitter exploded. Reactions ran from fans ranged from anger to joy — depending on the fan base — but mostly there was shock. Golden State just assembled the best shooting team in NBA history (they arguably had that already) and the team with 73 wins last season looks like the team to beat for a title now.

NBA players had a lot of those same reactions on Twitter.