Author: Kurt Helin

Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets

Rudy Gay says he wants to see how Kings develop, then will consider re-signing


How the Sacramento Kings have handled their off-season — especially letting Isaiah Thomas go to Phoenix at a reasonable salary and replacing him with the lesser Darren Collison — has confused people around the league. It’s hard to see the big picture vision.

Rudy Gay is going to stick around and see what that vision looks like, he opted into the final year of his contract and will make $19.3 million being the outside to DeMarcus Cousin’s inside for Sacramento. But that also makes him an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Whether he sticks around long term with the Kings will depend on what he sees going forward, he told the Sacramento Bee.

“I don’t want to create a big fuss like it was before, but I’m taking my time,” Gay said. “I’m open to doing things, but I really want to see where the organization is going…

“If I was going to opt out, I was definitely going to look at my options on different teams,” Gay said. “But with me opting in, I’m not saying no extension is going to happen. I’m just trying to see where we’re going as a team and how we plan on getting better.”

They are still trying to fit all the pieces together in Sacramento, to see how best the puzzle pieces they have can mesh and trying to add others (they drafted Nik Stauskas to give them shooting Ben McLemore has not yet, and the Kings have scoured the market for an affordable rim protecting four to play next to Cousins but came up empty so far).

Part of fitting it all together for Kings’ coach Mike Malone is using Gay in a variety of ways depending on the matchups.

“I think that’s the luxury you have in a guy like Rudy Gay,” Malone said. “Two, three four, he can play a lot of different positions. He can post up, he can play pick-and-roll, he can isolate and he’s a guy that has a high basketball IQ. He’s going into the season knowing he has to be a willing playmaker.”

Gay had by far his most efficient stretch of basketball ever with the Kings last season (20.1 points a game with a true shooting percentage of .567), turning heads of people around the league who viewed him as a volume shooter. The Kings need him to continue that trend, but the catch is if he does there will be far more suitors for his services next summer and the price to keep him (and difficulty of it) goes up.

Report: Richard Jefferson reaches one-year deal with Mavericks

Richard Jefferson Jazz

The Dallas Mavericks are rounding out their roster. They’ve got their stars — Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons, Monta Ellis and Tyson Chandler — now they are trying to put some depth around them.

Enter Richard Jefferson.

We can debate how much is left in those legs but Dallas is willing to give him a shot on a one-year deal at the league minimum, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

Jefferson shot 40.9 percent from three last season (he was a starter for the Jazz averaging 10.1 points a game) and the Mavs will ask him to step into Vince Carter’s role of a wing shooter off the bench. The problem is that Carter still has a lot more all-around game than Jefferson at this point, Jefferson is 34 and father time is now winning the race.

But on a minimum deal and in a limited role, this is not the worst gamble by the Mavs. They just can’t expect too much.

Chris Bosh thinks Heat can still be contenders without LeBron James

San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 6

Pat Riley did about as well as one could expect in putting together an interesting roster in Miami’s post-LeBron James world. Chris Bosh is getting a lot of money to step back into a key offensive role, and with the additions of Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts the Heat can be even more of the small-ball, aggressive team they had been. In the East, that is a lock playoff team.

Contenders? Um….

Don’t tell Bosh that. Bosh spoke with Tom Haberstroh of ESPN about how good he thinks this Heat team can be.

“I think right now we have the correct infrastructure to compete for a championship,” Bosh said. “We have to get much better at certain positions, and there’s a bunch of things that have to continue to happen. But you know a team like the Spurs, they had a lot of guys that people underestimate, but as a team, they were outstanding.”

Bosh echoed the same sentiments speaking to the Associated Press.

“I can’t lie to you: I’m excited. I’m excited for the challenge,” Bosh said during a break from NBA Africa duties. “I want to step up to the challenge. I feel this is a chance to prove to myself and others that I can still do this.

“I want to see if I can do what’s necessary to go in there and win every night. That’s the challenge of being a leader. It excites me. It’s been a long time and I feel like I’m a much better player and a leader now, so it’ll be fun.”

Good for Bosh. That is exactly what you want to hear from a player. You want your leaders to be positive and believe.

Doesn’t mean I think you should bet on the Heat to win a title in the next couple years.

Andrew Wiggins with the 360, behind the back dunk in warmups (VIDEO)

Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers

LAS VEGAS — What is crazy is how casual and easy he made that look.

Andrew Wiggins is packing the house in Las Vegas and showing flashes of what made him the No. 1 overall pick — the guy’s athleticism is ridiculous but his game needs a lot of polish. But his best highlight on Sunday came with this dunk in the warm ups.

Get this man in the dunk contest. Now. Just offer the invitation in July.

Cavaliers’ No. 1 pick looks good in Summer League. No, not that one. Anthony Bennett.

Cleveland Cavaliers v San Antonio Spurs

LAS VEGAS — The first thing you notice is Anthony Bennett is in shape now.

Not the spare tire shape he was in last season, when shoulder surgery slowed his summer workouts and had him packing on the pounds. Which led to whispers around the league about his work ethic. No, Bennett is in legitimately good shape — he’s dropped 19 pounds according to the Cavaliers official Web site, although that may sell it short based on the eyeball test.

“It wasn’t really that tough,” said Bennett, who added he has a personal chef now. “My body is kind of weird. I can gain weight fast, I can lose weight fast. So it was just me maintaining it. Watching what I eat at night.”

The next thing you notice is that improved shape has him playing with real energy and purpose, and he is able to maintain it for an extended period of time. That really showed Sunday at Summer League on the glass when he pulled down 14 rebounds.

“You grab 14 rebounds you got a place to play,” new Cavaliers coach Dave Blatt said.

Anthony Bennett has looked like a solid, quality NBA player in Las Vegas.

Still not No. 1 overall pick material, he doesn’t flash the potential of Andrew Wiggins (who has packed the gym in Vegas with fans). However, after a rookie season that made him an NBA punchline, Bennett has come out in Vegas and looked like a quality NBA player. Like a guy who could get minutes on an obviously much improved Cavaliers team.

“AB has been good since Day 1, since I came,” Blatt said. “He’s really working hard to get himself in shape. He’s really, really trying hard to do a lot of things on the court to help the team win and not be under pressure to do one thing just to stay on the floor. It’s a work in progress.”

“It was kind of a setback for me with the shoulder stuff but I’m just trying to put that in the past, come out here and have fun,” Bennett said.

He wasn’t having fun last season, when he was having statistically the worst season a No. 1 pick who was healthy ever had.

“Most definitely,” Bennett said when asked if last season was hard on him. “Just putting a lot of pressure on myself, things were’t going right for me. Everything just collapsed and was building up. I got down on myself, but my teammates help me out a lot, just told me to keep going.”

The Bennett in Vegas looks and plays like a different guy.

Sunday night he showed off a pick-and-pop midrange game. Overall he was 5-of-8 shooting but more importantly he was 3-of-5 from the top of the key area when he popped instead of rolled, showing a nice facet to his game.

“Anthony has shown the ability to do a lot of things. He can play with his face to the basket, he can play with his back to the basket,” Blatt said. “I think it’s important that he feels comfortable and he tries not to hurry. As long as he lets the game come to him, as long as he makes good decisions, he’s in a good place like he was today.”
Back home in Las Vegas where he was raised, Bennett is finding a comfort level in the NBA.

“I see my high school principal here, a few teachers, my AAU coach, a few friends. I just feel more relaxed,” Bennett said.

Expectations are through the roof in Cleveland, bringing in LeBron James will do that. Bennett is going to have to fight for minutes.

Plenty of guys have looked good in Summer League and been unable to translate that to the regular season. Bennett still has a lot of work to do.

But from where he’s come, he looks good. Continue on this trajectory and the Cavaliers may be adding another good young player to the mix next season. One they already had in house.