Kurt Helin

Atlanta Hawks sign Will Bynum, Ryan Kelly to training camp contracts

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The Atlanta Hawks have 15 guys under guaranteed contracts heading into training camp, the max number they carry into the regular season. Their roster is set.

But the Hawks are rounding out their training camp roster with some veterans — Will Bynum and Ryan Kelly are coming to camp, reports Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Hawks have signed Will Bynum and Ryan Kelly to non-guaranteed contracts to set their training camp roster, according to a person familiar with the situation…

Bynum, who played at Georgia Tech, is a veteran of eight NBA seasons with the Warriors, Pistons, and Wizards. The 33-year-old guard appeared in seven games with the Wizards last season after signing two 10-day contracts. He played in China before and after the stints….

Kelly (6-11, 230 pounds) was a second-round pick (No. 48) by the Lakers in 2013 out of Duke. The 25-year-old power forward appeared in 147 games over three seasons with the Lakers. He averaged 4.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in 13.1 minutes over 36 games last season.

Both of these guys likely ends up overseas this season, but the will make a little money in camp and maybe turn the heads of another GM who does have a roster spot available.

Jerry West says Adam Silver’s dislike of Durant’s move to Warriors is “sour grapes”


“I don’t think it’s good for the league, just to be really clear. I will say whoever is the prohibitive favorite, try telling that to the 430 other players who aren’t on those two teams. I mean, we have the greatest collection of basketball players in the world in our league, and so I’m not making any predictions, but there’s no question, when you aggregate a group of great players, they have a better chance of winning than many other teams…. But just to be absolutely clear, I do not think that’s ideal from a league standpoint. I mean, for me as I discussed earlier, part of it is designing a collective bargaining agreement that encourages the distribution of great players throughout the league.”

That was NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, talking about Kevin Durant‘s move this summer to the Golden State Warriors. Silver is essentially the voice of the owners, he works for them. He went on to say he and the owners hope to fix some of the “anomalies” in the system to prevent a superstar from going to a 73-win team.

Jerry West, the Golden State consultant who did his part in the pitch to Durant, is having none of that. West was on The TK Show, a podcast hosted by San Jose Mercury News sports columnist Tim Kawakami. Here are West’s comments (hat tip Zach Harper at CBS).

“It’s sour grapes. We (when he was with the Lakers) signed Shaquille O’Neal and it wasn’t as big an uproar as this. Listen, the owners make the rules. They negotiate with the players. And for them to say something like that, to me it’s wrong on their part. The commissioner said something like that and I called him about it. I told him I didn’t think the comment was fair. It’s not fair to Kevin. It’s not fair to the Warriors. It’s not fair to any team going forward who will sign a free agent of this stature.

“The players bargained for this. They have a chance to go play where they want to. I only wish I had that opportunity in my career and I’m sure a lot of other people felt the same way.”

For the record, there wasn’t free agency in the NBA, as we understand it, until 1988 (which is why you never saw Magic or Bird or Bill Russell, etc. leave in their prime — they were stuck). West could never have left the Lakers.

West is correct. Both that there were some sour grapes from other owners, and that what Durant did was well within his rights as a player. He earned the right to be a free agent and go where he wanted to go, play with who he wanted as teammates. Just like you or me, he should have the right to change work environments if he wants.

But that’s not the only complaint of owners — they like the idea of flattening out the talent pool. The moves of the last CBA were largely about preventing another LeBron-era Heat team from forming. We can get into how this is misguided — the NBA has been at its most popular when there are one or two dominant teams — but it is what owners want because they think success in the NBA should be easier than it is. The frustration from fans — that Durant took the easy route to a title — also probably rankles West, who would be happy to tell everyone just how hard it is to win a ring.

Nobody is really questioning Durant’s right to do what he did — including Silver. The Commissioner said in that same statement Durant had earned the right to be a free agent and make his choice. It’s just that the owners didn’t like it.

Yi Jianlian confident in return to NBA, but where does he play with Lakers?

Associated Press
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The Lakers — the organization, the players, everyone — is used to a media circus. It’s just part of the institution, from the Showtime era through the Kobe Bryant farewell tour.

So when more than 25 media members, national and international, show up for part of a Yi Jianlian workout in the offseason, it’s just another day at the office.

There was interest in Jianlian after he averaged 20.4 points per game in Rio as the focal point of the Chinese offense, he seemed a more mature player than the one who bounced around the NBA for five seasons after being taken by the Bucks at No. 6 in 2007. In his first stint in the NBA Jianlian never developed as hoped, but after four seasons playing in China he said he feels ready now, as reported by Baxter Holmes at ESPN.

He also said he felt that the Lakers were a “good opportunity” and that the “timing” was right for an NBA return.

“I think I played a lot of games in China, in Asia, Olympics,” said Yi, who joined the Lakers on a one-year deal worth about $8 million, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein. “It’s a lot of experience. For me I probably got stronger and more confidence.”

That one-year deal is about as Laker-friendly as it could get, and the $8 million figure would only kick in he played in 59 games with the team, meaning he was a regular part of the rotation.

It’s unclear if Jianlian would reach that in part because it’s unclear where he fits in with this roster.

Jianlian is a 7-foot power forward or center who can stretch the floor out to the three-point line (he shot 46.7 percent from the international arc in Rio). At the four, the Lakers will likely start Julius Randle or Larry Nance Jr., with rookie Brandon Ingram potentially getting some run there as the team tries to figure out exactly where he fits in Luke Walton’s system. At the five they are paying Timofey Mozgov to start and behind him there are Tarik Black and rookie Ivica Zubac. Maybe Jianlian can get some run as a small ball center. However, the Lakers should be focused on getting run for and developing their young players that are part of the future.

Luke Walton has a lot of frontcourt puzzle pieces to fit together, a lot of them younger players than the 28-year-old Jianlian, and it’s unclear what the picture will look like in the end.

But there is a lot of buzz about Jianlian and the chance he is getting.


Detroit Pistons sign Trey Freeman, Nikola Jovanovic to deals for training camp

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The Detroit Pistons have 14 guaranteed contracts set going into training camp at the end of the month. They could carry one more player into the season, but they may not (teams like having that room to make moves as needed). The Pistons are also pretty loaded at the center and point guard spots heading into camp.

But Trey Freeman and Nikola Jovanovic are going to get their chances, they have both signed training camp deals with the Pistons. Jovanovic, who was an undrafted big out of USC, confirmed his deal himself on Twitter.

Both of these guys are longshots to make the team.

At the five, the Pistons already have Andre Drummond, Aron Baynes, and Boban Marjanovic. That’s plenty of traditional bigs. At the four they have plenty of depth as well (Tobias Harris, Jon Leuer, and Henry Ellenson).

At the point, Reggie Jackson will get the bulk of minutes, with Ish Smith behind him. If the Pistons keep a third point guard on the roster (no guarantee), the smart money is on Ray McCallum. (As an aside, the Jackson trade rumors with the Sixers floating around the Web are preposterous and not happening. As in not being discussed.)

Dwyane Wade takes out billboard to thank fans in Miami


Well done, Dwyane Wade.

This summer, after feeling lowballed and underappreciated by Heat management, Wade left the only professional team and city he had ever known to play for his hometown Chicago Bulls. But on his way out the door, he wanted to thank Heat fans, and did it with a billboard. (Mike Ryan, executive producer of the Dan Le Batard Ahow, was the first to post it that I saw.)

It was indeed classy. And classically Wade.