Kurt Helin

Brazil v Mexico - Hope Funds Three Nations

Report: Lakers to sign Brazilian, FC Barcelona point guard Marcelo Huertas to one-year deal


The Lakers will be giving the ball to their new point guard, No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell, and letting the rookie learn on the job this year. They are high on his potential.

Backing him up there is some real talent — the Lakers already have Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson on the roster who can handle the ball. Oh, and that Kobe Bryant guy likely will want the ball in his hands a little.

Now add to the mix a very good international point guard in Marcelo Huertas, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Free-agent guard Marcelo Huertas – one of the Euroleague’s most accomplished playmakers – has agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Huertas, 32, could give the Lakers an experienced pick-and-roll point guard to complement the development of No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell.

If you’ve watched any of Huertas guiding Barcelona to the highest levels in Europe — three straight EuroLeague Final Fours during his six years there — you know the man is a playmaker. Specifically, he is a very strong pick-and-roll guard with fantastic court vision. Synergy Sports has the numbers to back that up:

Where you probably have seen more of Huertas is leading Brazil against the USA at the Olympics and other international competitions. Coach K uses a high-pressure defensive system, wisely trying to take advantage of the USA’s overwhelming athletic advantage over the rest of the world, but Huertas handled that pretty well and gave the USA some trouble (relatively).

Bottom line, he can come in off the bench in the NBA and run a team very well. Those guys have real value in the NBA.

This is a fantastic pickup for the Lakers. If Byron Scott uses him right. The Lakers have a nice backcourt to support Russell, and the team will be competitive this season with all its additions. That’s a step in the right direction.

Report: Suns have no intention to trade unhappy Markieff Morris

Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris

In the summer of 2014, Markieff Morris took what he saw as a little less than market value — he has four years, $32 million left on his deal — to make sure his twin brother Marcus got paid and they could play together in Phoenix. Markieff then had a season that saw him regress — he was scoring more per game but being less efficient, all the while clashing with the Suns’ coaching staff. Also, he may also now be in some serious legal trouble for an assault.

In the summer of 2015, trying to clear out some cap space in case LaMarcus Aldridge chose them, the Suns traded Marcus to the Pistons. Markieff (the better of the two brothers) is pissed — he said, “I am not going to be there.” As in “trade me.” He’s got preferred trade destinations.

The Suns do not care.

In a story by Paul Coro at the Arizona Republic about 10 Suns expected roster players are already working out at the team’s facilities in Phoenix and playing together, it is noted Morris is not expected.

There is no surprise that Markieff Morris is missing from that list, given his “Keef beef” with the franchise. His trade request fell on deaf ears….

The Suns need and want Morris. They would not stand much of a chance to replace him by trade. They would have no chance to replace him by free agency. They do not have an adequate existing roster option.

Reasonably, hard feelings should subside by the time he must report to Phoenix on Sept. 28. However, he was steaming six weeks after the trade when he went public to the Philadelphia Inquirer this month. Another six weeks might not help but being around his teammate friends again and meeting a respected frontcourt partner such as Chandler should help him recommit, even if Morris returns to being the quieter person he was before Marcus joined Phoenix.

Morris has said he will be professional and do what he has to, but will not go the extra mile for the team. Like, show up early for workouts. The Suns are betting on that softening over time. Morris is expected to be the Suns starting power forward, and if he doesn’t show up to camp the Suns don’t have to pay him.

The problem for the Suns is even if they wanted to trade him right now, they have zero leverage. Everyone in the league knows he wants out, and offers will be lowball. Even if they were considering a trade, they couldn’t say it. But Morris is 25, on a reasonable contract and two seasons ago was mentioned as a potential Sixth Man of the Year — those are not the kind of guys you move.

If the Suns starts to look like a playoff team in the West — they should be in the mix for the seventh and eighth seed slots — we will see if winning cures all ills. If not, the Suns can still be patient. Bottom line, don’t expect a Morris move in the short term.

Jamal Crawford, other NBA stars take court for Seattle Pro AM vs. Drew League (VIDEO)

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Seven

This would have been fun to attend, a little showdown between the Seattle Pro AM and the Los Angeles-based Drew League.

It attracted plenty of NBA talent: Jamal Crawford, Zach LaVine, Isaiah Thomas, Stanley Johnson, Trevor Ariza, Baron Davis, Nate Robinson, Malcolm Thomas, Dorell Wright, Bobby Brown and Spencer Hawes were among the ballers. And when you turn those guys loose in a world with no defense, you get a show.

Enjoy, we’re still a couple of months away from NBA games that matter so this can be a little fix.

Report: Eric Moreland leaning toward Pistons contract; Lakers, Kings still in mix

Sacramento Kings v Denver Nuggets
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Eric Moreland played all of two minutes total across three games for the Kings’ last season before suffering a labral tear in his shoulder that ended his season (he did get paid his full $507,336 salary because of that, though). Then this summer, with a pretty full roster, the Kings waived the undrafted 6’10” forward rather than guarantee his deal.

So where does he land now? Maybe Detroit, reports Shams Charania of RealGM.

Free agent Eric Moreland has multiple deals to compete for a roster spot in NBA training camp, with the Detroit Pistons as frontrunners, league sources told RealGM. The Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings are strong under consideration for Moreland, sources said, and their front offices expect the 6-foot-10 forward to settle upon a destination once the final offers are presented.

This would be a camp invite, make-good contract with maybe a little guarantee. Could he make the roster in any of those places? That’s an uphill climb.

Detroit has 17 guaranteed contracts and already is going to have to cut a couple of them. They also have a front line with Ersan Ilyasova and Anthony Tolliver at the four, then three centers in Andre Drummond, Aron Baynes, and Joel Anthony. Not sure where Moreland fits in there.

The Lakers have 12 guaranteed deals but a pretty stacked frontcourt, Mooreland would need to beat out someone like Tarik Black (whom the Lakers like). The Kings have 14 guaranteed contracts and already waived him this summer so he wouldn’t be a guaranteed deal on their books, plus they have Willie Cauley-Stein in his young, shot blocker role.

Mooreland likely chooses whoever gives him the biggest guarantee. It’s about the money.

Nigeria beats Angola to win AfroBasket, qualify for Rio Olympics

Olympics Day 10 - Basketball

Try this on for size:

Al-Farouq Aminu is headed back to the Olympics.

Barring injury it will happen in Rio because Aminu’s Nigerian squad pulled away in the second quarter then held off a late charge from Angola to take the AfroBasket title game, 74-65. With that comes a ticket punched for the 2016 Olympics. This will be the second straight Olympics for Nigeria, which in 2012 had to get in through the Olympic Qualifying Tournament weeks before the games (Aminu was part of that squad, if you remember Carmelo Anthony dropped 37 on them).

Aminu, who plays for the Trail Blazers, had 11 points on a rough 2-of-10 shooting night (he did get to the line 11 times and had a nice and-1 dunk). Nigeria was led by Chamberlain Oguchi as the veteran of European leagues had 19 points, and former Barcelona player Olaseni “Shane” Lawal, who had a dozen.

This makes four teams that have qualified for the Rio Olympics basketball tournament: The USA (winners of the World Cup), Brazil (host), Australia (winners of FIBA Oceania) and now Nigeria. The EuroBasket tournament that starts next week will add two more teams to that list.