Author: Kurt Helin

Chicago Bulls' Boozer reacts after being called for a foul in their NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston

Lakers “win” bidding process, get rights to Carlos Boozer


Carlos Boozer is going to be a Los Angeles Laker next season — they won the bidding process for him.

Although Lakers’ fans are not going to use the word “won.” The words they will use cannot be published here, being a family-friendly blog and all.

When the Bulls amnestied Boozer (to open up cap space to sign former Laker and vastly superior player Pau Gasol) it opened up a blind bid process for Boozer — teams under the salary cap could put in a bid for his services and take on that part of his contract (the Lakers bid $3.25 million and they pay $3.25 million while the Bulls cover the remaining $13.6 million, it just doesn’t count against their cap). Highest bid wins, nobody knows what the other teams were bidding.

The Lakers won that, something first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN and quickly confirmed by multiple other reporters.

That’s more than I’d have bid, but not wildly unreasonable.

The Lakers now have Boozer, rookie Julius Randle and another solid big in Ed Davis to play the four.

Boozer averaged 13.7 points and 8.7 rebounds a game last season. His game has deteriorated in recent years, last season he wasn’t efficient (.489 true shooting percentage) nor does he play much defense. That said, he’s more solid than his critics give him credit for — he’s still okay — and he’ll make a decent backup big man for what the Lakers are paying.

He’ll help the Lakers win more now as opposed to bringing in a big man to develop for the future. That said he’s not going to help them win much.

We’d try to guess what the Lakers’ coach would do with Boozer, but they still don’t have one.

J.R. Smith said he wouldn’t have blamed Knicks if they traded him last season

Charlotte Bobcats v New York Knicks

J.R. Smith is about the least triangle offense player in the league.

The Knicks are building their offense to run the triangle (or at least a modified version of it) and Smith isn’t really about keeping the ball moving — he’s an unrepentant gunner. A volume shooter. A good one, a guy that takes bad shots and makes a lot of them (sometimes), but he’s not exactly a triangle guy.

Add to the fact the Knicks are loaded at the two guard (Smith, Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr., Wayne Ellington, and you can play Shane Larkin there if you want) and the buzz is the Knicks will move one of those guys before the start of next season.

Smith said on ESPN2’s First Take he wouldn’t have been shocked if the Knicks traded him the way he played last season, and he knows some moves are still coming in New York (as transcribed by

…he “wouldn’t blame” team president Phil Jackson and the Knicks if the team had decided to trade him last season.

“No. Absolutely not. The way I was playing, I was playing like a person who didn’t want to be there,” Smith said. “Not looking as focused as a person should be in that situation that we were, in the trenches. I wouldn’t blame them at all…..”

Smith said on Wednesday that he’s “cognizant” one of the shooting guards on the roster could be traded before the start of the season.

“Yeah, because that’s just the way the numbers work, honestly,” he said. “When you have so many people at that same position and you’re trying to juggle between ‘Well, he’s got to play 20 minutes, he’s got to play 30 minutes, he’s got to play 25 minutes,’ it’s tough to do.”

Smith is owed just under $6 million this season and has a player option for $6.4 million next season.

Shumpert and Hardaway — younger players with more palatable contracts — have had their names come up in recent trade rumors. But expect the Knicks to check again and see what the market for Smith might be. He may not really fit with the future direction of the team.

Timberwolves owner says he expects Kevin Love to be in Minnesota training camp

Glen Taylor

The standoff continues. Minnesota wants a lot back in trading Kevin Love, other teams are balking at the price of throwing in an Andrew Wiggins or Klay Thompson type player.

If you think Minnesota is about to cave, well, you should see what Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said in an interview on NBATV during the team’s Summer League game Wednesday (as transcribed by the Pioneer Press).

“My preference is that Kevin will come to (training) camp — and I’m sure he will — and play with the team,” Taylor said.

That would be a circus.

Minnesota is taking a page out of the Denver playbook when Carmelo Anthony was trying to force a trade to a preferred destination — wait until somebody caves. Look at it this way: the bad offers are still going to be there in February at the trade deadline, there’s no reason to rush and take one of those, wait for a good offer.

I’ll add this scenario: If I were the Warriors or Cavaliers and looking at giving up major assets like Thompson or Wiggins, I would only do that if Love opted in to the last year of his deal. Not sign an extension, but opt-in for one year so my team would have some security that this would not be a Dwight Howard/Lakers situation. Love could then be a free agent in 2016 (when the salary cap jumps with the new national television deal and a max player such as himself would make more money). At Summer League in Las Vegas there is a mixed buzz about whether Love would be willing to do that, but I would not take anybody’s word that they will re-sign, I would want the extra year guaranteed. If Love insists on becoming a free agent in the summer of 2015 the offers Minnesota gets will be smaller.

For Minnesota, with Love on the team the Timberwolves are a borderline playoff team even in the deep West. They will need Ricky Rubio to play like it’s a contract year, and they need Love and Nikola Pekovic and the rest to stay healthy. But this is a potentially good team.

“I think our team is just on the border (of making the playoffs),” Taylor said. “We lost too many close games last year, and having Kevin Love there as, right now, the heart of our team … I would like to have Kevin back and play under Flip (Saunders) and see how the coaches will utilize him with the other players.”

Taylor may hold out hope of a Portland/LaMarcus Aldridge situation where the team gets hot, wins and he changes his mind about wanting out. Although, in this case it seems too late for that.

Tracy McGrady starts minor-league All-Star Game, promptly retires from baseball

Somerset Patriots v Sugar Land Skeeters

Tracy McGrady chased his dream — playing baseball.

The seven-time All-Star, high-flying dunker of NBA scoring lore gave up baseball to play hoops back in high school but always wanted to return to the sport he loved. This year he did, becoming a pitcher for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League in Texas. And he made it all the way to the All-Star Game in that league. Not legitimately, but he made it.

Then walked away from baseball. The legendary Aaron Gleeman of our sister site NBC’s Hardball Talk has the details.

(McGrady) started the league’s All-Star game, participated in the Home Run Derby … and then announced his retirement.

His starting the All-Star game was purely a stunt, because in four regular season appearances McGrady posted a 6.75 ERA and walked 10 batters in 6.2 innings without recording a single strikeout. Last night he tossed 1.1 innings and actually struck out the final batter he faced, which is a helluva coincidence I guess. He also hit zero homers in the Home Run Derby, so hopefully the fans in attendance really liked, I dunno, staring at McGrady in a baseball jersey or something.

Well, at least he gave it a shot.

Now we’ll see if he also has a passion for bowling.

Gorgui Dieng is making leaps in Summer League, Timberwolves want that to translate to winter games

Minnesota Timberwolves V Phoenix Suns

LAS VEGAS — Summer League can be a great measuring stick.

A year ago Gorgui Dieng looked a little confused by the speed and style of the NBA/Summer League game. He was thinking and not just playing, and with that he looked like a lost rookie.

A year later he is owning it — Dieng had 13 points and 19 rebounds in Minnesota’s win over the Suns Wednesday.

“I feel more comfortable but I’ll let you guys judge,” Dieng said after the game.

It doesn’t take much of a judge to see the leap he has made.

It all started in the regular season. Minnesota’s Rick Adelman isn’t a fan of giving rookies a lot of run (especially when coaching to rack up wins and keep his job), but when Nikola Pekovic went down he had no choice and Dieng got some burn — and looked good. After the All-Star break last year he averaged 8.9 points (with a .569 true shooting percentage) and 8.4 rebounds a game. Plus, he blocked better than a shot a game. He moved himself into the Rookie of the Year conversation.

You can really see the leap he’s made both in confidence and feel for the game in his second Summer League.

You can see it on the glass where he put a body on his man then used his athleticism and strength to pull down 37 percent of his team’s rebounds Wednesday. You can see it in his footwork. You can see it in how he finds good spacing on offense and is willing to cut hard off the ball. He moves very well on defense and knows how to use his athleticism to his advantage to protect the rim. He sets a good screen (well, when the guard lets him, this is Summer League) and has a nice couple first steps on the roll.

He also showed off a Duncan-esque mid-range bank shot, hitting the only one he took.

“I’ve been working a lot on that this summer,” Dieng said. “I’m always looking out for something to improve my game and I think something like that added to my game will really help me.”

He’s just fun to watch play.

“He’s going to be a work in progress but every day he gets better,” said David Adelman, who coached the Timberwolves at Summer League. “We’re trying to teach him a lot of little nuances, just playing off the ball, scoring on the block, things like that. …

“The main thing with him is keeping his ear on things and letting him know he’s got to run front rim to front rim every time down the court. He’s got to be the first big down the court, with his athleticism and how he moves his feet, that should be the thing. And just playing off the ball, like if a big guy like (Kyrylo) Fesenko has the ball on the block he should be up at the free throw line where he can see him. Just kind of playing in a tandem.”

His teammates like playing with him.

“You just throw it up to him and he’ll get it,” Zach LaVine, who ran the Minnesota offense for much of the game Wednesday, said of Deing. “He’ll battle you, his teammate for a rebound.”

Dieng is saying exactly what you want a player to say, spouting the cliches of working one day at a time, just trying to get better. But he means it; the coaches love the way he listens and absorbs information.

“What (the coaches and I) discussed is that in the summer is the time the players got better, so I’ve been in the gym working with them a lot,” Dieng said. “Just learning the game overall. They cannot tell you what to do exactly, but you’ve got to have a good feeling for yourself, to learn the game.”

He’s learning. And it shows.