LAS VEGAS — I can envision Steve Nash becoming the point guard guru in the way Hakeem Olajuwon is with big men — eventually everyone who wants to be great at the position travels to the mountain top (or, Houston) to learn from the master.
Nash was as smart a point guard and as dedicated a person as there was at conditioning and taking care of his body. Steve Nash wrung as much great basketball out of what nature gave him as anyone in the league. It makes sense that other point guards might want to work with and learn from him.
Starting with young Lakers’ stars Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell, reports Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.
Jordan Clarkson told me he is planning on future workouts with Steve Nash. He believes D'Angelo Russell will be included as well.
Russell has struggled some with both the speed of the game and trying to force the issue at Summer League. He understandably feels the pressure on him and admitted he has been attempting to do too much.
“I’m just trying to force the issue to get big guys involved, and for myself forcing the issue on the offensive end trying to just get something out of nothing when it’s not there,” Russell said. “Realizing it’s Summer League and being patient is my problem right now… Summer League is great for the adjustment process. I’m young, I feel like I’m going to get better every game, every practice, once I get under the system and get the hang of it a little more.”
Russell had the same issue at Ohio State — it took him a few weeks in the Big 10 to adjust to the game style and pace, but when he did he put up the kind of numbers that made him the No. 2 pick. Lakers fans are counting on that kind of adjustment again.
Nash could help with that process. A lot of guys should want to come workout with Nash.
Kings void Luc Richard Mbah Moute contract after he fails physical
This was going to be just a one-year, veteran minimum deal. The Kings are deep at the three — Rudy Gay, Caron Butler and Omri Casspi — but Mbah a Moute likely would have played more at the four backing up Willie Cauley-Stein. Now the Kings need more depth behind the rookie, but with Casspi going into the room exception the Kings do not have much money to use, just minimum deals.
It’s not known right now why Mbah a Moute failed the physical, and if it is something that will prevent another team from signing him.
Mbah a Moute may have averaged 9.9 points a game last season in Philly, his career best numbers, although that was more due to the rest of the roster and it’s lack of other, better offensive options. He’s a career 6.8 points per game guy.
Jordan Hill on playing with Lakers: “All you hear is Kobe’s mouth”
Jordan Hill spent the last three seasons with the Lakers, but now has signed with the Indiana Pacers (while Pacers center Roy Hibbert went to the Lakers). At his introductory press conference, Hill was asked about playing with Kobe Bryant in LA and this was part of his response:
“When he’s on the floor it’s like (exhales), all you hear is Kobe’s mouth. He’s on the floor all you hear is Kobe’s mouth, like during practice and games, it get loud. It get loud. A lot of people can’t handle that I guess.”
Hill didn’t sound like he meant this as an insult, so much as a commentary on the reality of being on the court for the Lakers. It didn’t seem to bother him.
Kobe is Kobe and he’s not changing. It’s worked for him to the tune of five rings, but it’s also not the only way to motivate and push teammates (see: Duncan, Tim). Not everybody wants to play with Kobe. The young Lakers looking to be the future of the team are going to have to deal with it, no matter what they think. Kobe is now their reality. And certainly there is a lot that can be learned from Kobe, both on the court and in terms of commitment and work ethic.
The Lakers are fully committed to the Kobe brand (it’s made them a lot of money over the years, plus helped them win banners) and this next season is likely going to be a celebration of all things Kobe in Los Angeles.
Blazers guard Allen Crabbe injures ankle, carried out of Summer League game on stretcher
Allen Crabbe, who has played 66 games over the last two seasons in Portland and was playing well in Summer League, suffered an ankle sprain on Thursday while going up for a rebound. He yelled in pain as he went down, but X-Rays turned out show no damage. An MRI is scheduled, but hopefully it is just a sprain.
News, notes for Summer League Wednesday: Willie Cauley-Stein active, still learning NBA game
The playoff/tournament/whatever you call it round of the NBA Las Vegas Summer League tipped off on Wednesday. Unlike the NBA, you don’t see an increase in intensity now that the playoffs have rolled around — these guys been playing for a job, auditioning for almost a week now. A paycheck is way more motivation than the Summer League crown.
There continue to be plenty of things happening in Vegas, here’s a roundup.
• It was a scary moment when Kings’ No. 6 pick Willie Cauley-Stein left the game Wednesday limping after he banged knees with James Michael McAdoo. After a little treatment and rest he was back in — a relief for a guy who had a lot of teams concerned about his injury potential. Cauley-Stein said he just banged knees.
Cauley-Stein has looked good at times in Vegas, he is incredibly active and athletic, but he may he suffers a little from the old John Wooden line “never mistake activity for achievement.” He needs work to recognize and make NBA-level defensive rotations. That activity isn’t going to work against veterans who know how to exploit it.
“I think Willie always plays hard and he’s still adjusting to the NBA game,” Kings’ Summer League coach John Welch said. “But one thing I love with Willie is you know every night you’re going to know what you get, he’s going to give you effort.”
• The Golden State Warriors beat the Kings on Wednesday to advance to the next round of the playoffs, and the team is coming together under Luke Walton (their coach). The Warriors could pull off the never-before-done NBA title then Summer League title back-to-back.
• Sixers’ rookie guard J.P. Tokoto is going to be battling for minutes with Robert Covington, Nik Stauskas, and Hollis Thompson come the season. He gets what his role will be and that he’s going to have to earn his run this season.
“I’m a realist, I know what it is coming into it,” Tokoto said when asked if he had conversations with the team about his role. “But yeah, we have talked about it — being a defensive guy. Coming in – whether it’s garbage time or giving a vet who is playing more minutes a breather — and disrupting the other team’s offense, attacking the rim on the offensive end, offensive rebounds, being a facilitator coming off a pick, or attacking the rim like I said. Just embracing the moment.”
• And Tokoto proved he can finish at the rim.
• Ryan Boatright, who has had a good Summer League trying to make the Nets (he has a partially guaranteed deal, just a $75K buyout), left the Nets game in the first half Wednesday with a shoulder injury after he took a flagrant foul from the Sixers Steve Zach (who threw a hip into him and knocked him flat during an inbound play). Boatright came back in and took his free throws, but this is Summer League and there is no reason to make a guy play through injuries.
• Just signed Pierre Jackson suited up for his first game for the Sixers, and his pink Kobe’s may have been the most impressive thing we saw from him.
Jackson finished with 9 points on 3-of-9 shooting, and was 0-of-4 from three.
• One thing you consistently hear from college players trying to adjust to the NBA game now is the constant movement of it. With a 24-second shot clock (not 35) and a defensive three seconds in the lane call, there is just a lot more motion and quicker action even in a Summer League game.
• All the big names from Duke’s national championship team — Jahlil Okafor, Justice Winslow, etc. — were absent from Summer League on Wednesday because they were all in Los Angeles for the ESPYs. Winslow is not playing anymore for the Heat this summer; it is unclear if Okafor returns for the Sixers.