The Spurs have been winning all offseason. They landed LaMarcus Aldridge as a free agent. They got David West to sign with them for pennies on the dollar. They retained Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
Why not have them win Summer League, too?
Behind 23 points from Jonathon Simmons and 15 from Summer League MVP Kyle Anderson, the Spurs executed when it mattered and pulled away for a 93-90 win and the Las Vegas Summer League championship.
It gives the first woman ever to coach a Summer League team, Becky Hammon, another milestone — the first female coach to win the Summer League title.
Phoenix opened the game fast, pushing out to a 10-point first quarter lead thanks to hot shooting — they knocked down 53 percent of their shots in the first quarter, and that included a three from Devin Booker showing off some sick range.
In the huddle, Hammon snapped at her team for getting “too cute” and told them to get back to playing the right way. They did, going on a 23-11 run. The Spurs kept executing, and more importantly their defense got better
The Spurs retook the lead midway through the second quarter on a Kyle Anderson alley-oop to Simmons.
At the half it was tied 39-39, but the Spurs shot just 30 percent for the first 20 minutes and it felt like the shots would start to fall.
It stayed close and was 59-59 near the end of the third quarter, but that’s when the Spurs went on a 20-7 run that spanned into the fourth quarter. It was a lead the Spurs would not relinquish. Phoenix made it interesting with a late 10-4 run, but the Spurs victory never felt in doubt.
Treveon Graham also had 22 points for the Spurs. Anderson looked like every bit the MVP and guy that the Spurs need to give some run to come the season. He played the point forward role we’ve seen in the Spurs offense for years, working out of the post, finding mismatches and making crisp passes to the open man.
Point guard Mike James had 32 points for the Suns — the most any player scored in a Summer League game all this run. James did it knocking down a few threes but mostly attacking (he got to the line 11 times, hit nine). Alex Len added 17, Archie Goodwin 12 and Booker 10.
Alex Len (17 points), Archie Goodwin (12) and Devin Booker (10) rounded out the foursome of double-digit scorers for Phoenix, who ended its stay in Las Vegas with a 5-2 overall record.
Ginobili has averaged around 23 minutes a game for the past four years (22.7 last season) and while the skills of the 37-year-old (38 in a few days) are declining, he still provides some smart, above average play off the bench (with the occasional throwback game). Last season he averaged 10.2 points and four assists a game, and shot 34.5 percent from three.
But rather than talk about the magic Ginobili can produce on the court, why not watch some highlights.
Ginobili also may be the most popular Spur in San Antonio, you see more of his jerseys than Duncan’s around that town. He needed to be part of this last run with Tim Duncan.
While Ginobili signed a two-year deal for $5.7 million (the room exception) he likely doesn’t play the second year.
Boston Celtics reach four-year deal with second-round pick Jordan Mickey
He looked it in Las Vegas. He played 30 minutes a night for the Celtics, averaging 13.8 points on 52.9 percent shooting, but more impressive was the rim protection — he’s a beast in the paint defensively. He averaged 2.6 blocks per game (we should have seen that coming, he led the NCAA in blocked shots last season). Mickey is a quality prospect.
Phil Jackson speaks with a purpose and for effect. He doesn’t say things that will be published without having some motive.
Which is why what he told his old friend Charlie Rosen about the big mid-season trade in New York — which sent J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland for non-guaranteed contracts — was so interesting. Jackson tries to make himself look better, like the adult cleaning up the mess at the children’s table.
It’s about as direct and blunt as you will ever hear someone if a front office speak about a player on the record.
“J.R. had been exhibiting some delinquent behavior and had gotten into the habit of coming late to team meetings, or missing them altogether,” Jackson says. “Also, Shump and Tim [Hardaway Jr.] were regressing, so I decided to meet with them separately and try to find out what, if anything, was bothering them.”
Smith was first on the list. “We talked about his statement to the press that our shooting guard depth was going to be the team’s asset, but so far it hadn’t worked out that way,” Jackson says. “He was supposed to carry the scoring load for the second unit and he wasn’t doing the job. I also said that because of his unacceptable behavior, he had two strikes against him with this team. He didn’t really respond. He’s a very sensitive guy, with his big doe eyes. He looked like he was going to tear up. But he finally responded that he was going through some issues with his gal.”
Shumpert was next in line. “After he suffered a hip injury in Dallas, his game went rapidly downhill. Did he have any other issues to explain his decline? He said, ‘No. I don’t know what has gone wrong with my game.’ As with J. R., nothing got resolved.”
Jackson goes on to say coach Derek Fisher thought Smith walked around like there was a dark cloud over his head, and that Shumpert’s ego was a problem in the locker room.
Whether you want to say it was the negative impacts on their game in New York — Smith was known to enjoy the New York nightlife — or the positive ones of LeBron James in Cleveland, both Shumpert and Smith played a lot better after the move.
Smith saw more minutes, and his true shooting percentage jumped from a below average 48.7 percent to and above average 56.6 percent (boosted by him shooting 39 percent from three in Cleveland). Smith’s PER jumped from 11.5 to 14.5 (which is still slightly below the league average).
Smith also had some delinquent behavior on the court during the playoffs, which led to him being suspended for the first two games of the NBA Finals. Smith opted out of his contract and is still hanging out there as a free agent, likely about to take a pay cut, although the Cavaliers seem the most likely to retain him.
Shumpert played fewer minutes and took fewer shots in Cleveland, but he saw his true shooting percentage jump up to 50.8 percent. More importantly, his defense was a key part of the grit and grind style the Cavaliers had to evolve towards during the playoffs due to injuries.
The Cavaliers re-signed Shumpert to a four-year, $40 million deal and he is likely the starting two guard for the Cavaliers when next season tips off.