Kurt Helin

Ty Lawson

Chauncey Billups says Ty Lawson no leader, Nuggets need to trade him

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They’re trying, Chauncey. They’re trying.

Turns out Chauncey Billups — the former NBA All-Star and Denver Nugget point guard, now an analyst with ESPN — is no Ty Lawson fan. Not that there are a lot of them in Denver right now. Billups was on 104.3 The Fan in Denver  Thursday and said it was time for the Nuggets to move on from the Lawson era (hat tip Eye on Basketball for the transcription):

I mean, well, one, Ty, he has not demonstrated what you want from the leader of your team and a guy who they’ve handed the keys to. He’s not demonstrated the kind of leadership that you want. And you have a young kid named [Emmanuel] Mudiay coming in who I think has a chance to be a star in this league. Right now the best player on the team is Ty Lawson. As a young player in the league, you come in 19-20 years old, you oftentimes try to emulate some of the actions on the floor and off the floor of the best player because that’s one day what you want to be. So I think just from the standpoint of the welfare of Mudiay and the well-being and the growth of Mudiay, you have to get Ty Lawson and you have to move him along.

The point about wanting good examples for Emmanuel Mudiay is a good one — and Lawson’s video after the Nuggets drafted Mudiay is a perfect example of why Denver would want to move him. Lawson had issues such as being late to a practice after the All-Star break, plus Denver had hoped he would be a leader and instead they had real chemistry issues with him in that role last year.

The problem is, Denver has tried to trade him. There just isn’t much of a market right now.

There were talks with the Dallas Mavericks, but those fizzled out, and Dallas now has Deron Williams in house. Denver has shopped Lawson around (as well as other players, they are ready for a roster shakeup) but have not found a deal worth their liking. The challenge is the league is deep with point guards right now so the options are limited — and the teams looking for point guards know that. It’s simple economics, there is more supply than demand.

But expect Denver to try hard to find Lawson a new home before the season starts. Something that would make Denver native Billups happy.

Reports: Lakers reach deal with rookie center Robert Upshaw to come to training camp (at least)

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers
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In his Summer League debut, Robert Upshaw went out and battled, he stood toe-to-toe with No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns. While Towns had an impressive first Summer League game, the shot-blocking Upshaw got him once and finished the night with three blocks, two points, and six rebounds, playing 12 minutes.

That and what the Lakers saw in practices for Summer League is enough — they will bring Upshaw into training camp and he will get a shot to make the roster.

Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (and a Fresno guy, where Upshaw is from), broke the news. This will be a two-year deal with a partial guarantee the first year and no guarantee the second year, reports Baxter Holmes of ESPN, which means this is a training camp invite where the 7’2″ will get a chance to prove he should make the roster.

The Lakers will start Roy Hibbert at center and bring Robert Sacre in behind him, plus they are pretty stacked at the four spot with Julius Randle, Brandon Bass, Tarik Black and Larry Nance. The Lakers don’t need to sign another big for depth, so Upshaw is going to need to prove to the team he is worth keeping around to develop.

And that he has got his head screwed on correctly.

Potential was never the question for Upshaw — last season while at Washington he led the NCAA in blocked shots — but his off-the-court issues had him kicked off two college teams before he turned pro. Washington cut him loose mid-season last year. Those issues are the reason he went undrafted — no team even took a second-round gamble on him.

Upshaw has the tools to be a defensive and rebounding machine at the NBA level. However, he has a lot of work to do on his conditioning, the offensive side of his game, and he has to prove to Lakers brass he can be trusted.

He’s at least going to get that shot.

LaMarcus Aldridge says meetings with Gregg Popovich went like coach’s in-game interviews

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three
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Gregg Popovich really wanted LaMarcus Aldridge on the Spurs — he flew back out to Los Angeles for a second interview, a lunch with the big man. I’d say “he never does that,” but he obviously will for the right big man. It worked, Aldridge signed with the Spurs.

So what was it like to sit and talk with Popovich?

Pretty much like his television interviews, Aldridge told Marc Stein of ESPN in a SportsCenter interview, as transcribed by Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News (hat tip Eye on Basketball):

Popovich is who he is. There are moments, days when he feels more like opening up, or gets on thoughtful discussions of his interests outside basketball (wine the best known among them), but he’s not Doc Rivers.

Stein also asked Aldridge about leaving Portland and his comments last year that he wanted to be the “best Blazer ever.” Aldridge said that was not some PR line (hat tip to Blazersedge for the transcription).

It was tough. I did want to be the best Blazer ever. It wasn’t some hoax or me just trying to, you know, sweet-talk the city. I did. But I felt like they were kind of in that middle role where they kind of wanted to make a change, kind of go a different direction. You know they definitely told me that they wanted me back, but kind of I felt like we both were kind of in that limbo. They wanted to go young. Damian is a great talent. He’s going to be an All-Star for many years to come.

It sounds like Aldridge had an idea he was moving on for a while, even while saying all the right things about the Blazers.

Willie Cauley-Stein with chase down block at Summer League (VIDEO)

Sacramento Kings v Toronto Raptors
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This is likely the first of many Willie Cauley-Stein block videos we will end up running at PBT.

Friday at Summer League the Kings took on the Raptors and just before halftime the Kings had a sloppy turnover (welcome to Summer League) and Cauley-Stein chased down Toronto’s Drew Crawford and shut him down. With authority.

Cauley-Stein finished the game with 11 points, five rebounds and a couple blocks.

This wasn’t near enough as the Raptors went on to win handily, 90-68, behind 20 points from Norman Powell and 15 from young project Bruno Caboclo.

Marcus Morris is ticked Phoenix traded him away from his twin brother Markieff

Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris
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Last summer, twin brothers Marcus and Markeiff Morris both signed four-year contract extensions with the Phoenix Suns and they were excited to get to play side-by-side in the Valley of the Sun. They got their chance, more than 1,100 minutes together on the court last season — and when they were on the court together the Suns were basically dead even with their opponents (+0.5 per 48 minutes, with both an offensive and defensive rating of 103.8 points per 100 possessions).

That didn’t impress the Suns, who this summer traded Marcus to the Detriot Pistons.

When Marcus met the Detroit media, he didn’t hide the fact he was ticked to be moved away from his brother, via Perry A. Farrell of the Detriot Free Press.

“This gives me a chance to branch out. In my opinion, God works in mysterious ways, and He has plans for certain people. Everybody knew how bad I wanted to play with my brother. Phoenix knew. For them to trade me without consent or telling me was like a slap in the face, because of the contract I took from those guys and the money I took from them. I’m happy to be here. I’m a Piston. I’m a Bad Boy. I’m ready to get started.”

Welcome to the NBA, Marcus. It’s a cold-hearted business at times.

Morris will get his chance to prove the Suns made a mistake, fighting for minutes in Detroit with Anthony Tolliver, likely behind Ersan Ilyasova at the four. Then again, the Suns did keep the better brother in this deal.

But before we can worry about what Marcus does on the court, he’ll have to get past the legal issues he and his brother ran into this summer — both were charged with felony assault in Phoenix. Both have said they are confident they will prevail and that there is nothing to the charges, but will not speak in detail about them.