Tag: New Orleans Saints

Taj Gibson

Sprained ankle to keep Taj Gibson out of Team USA mini-camp

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Chicago’s Taj Gibson’s blend of size and athleticism makes him an interesting fit for what Team USA likes to do — press on defense, create turnovers then get out and run. Play to your strengths, and with the USA that is the level and depth of athleticism.

But a sprained ankle is going to keep Gibson from strutting his stuff for Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski and crew, reports John Schuhmann of NBA.com (via twitter).

No word on if there would be a replacement.

Kawhi Leonard also begged off the camp, saying he wanted to recover from a long season that had him playing in the NBA Finals. In his place Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was invited.

The four-day camp is a chance for Team USA to workout, get a look at and install a little offense with guys who could get a Team USA invite to the World Championships next summer in Madrid or maybe the Rio Olympics in three years.

The other players that will be there are: Ryan Anderson (Pelicans), Harrison Barnes (Warriors), Bradley Beal (Wizards), Mike Conley (Grizzlies), DeMarcus Cousins (Kings), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), DeMar DeRozan (Raptors), Andre Drummond (Pistons), Kenneth Faried (Nuggets), Derrick Favors (Jazz), Paul George (Pacers), Gordon Hayward (Jazz), George Hill (Pacers), Jrue Holiday (Pelicans), Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers), DeAndre Jordan (Clippers), Ty Lawson (Nuggets), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Greg Monroe (Pistons), Chandler Parsons (Rockets), Larry Sanders (Bucks), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Dion Waiters (Cavaliers), Kemba Walker (Bobcats), John Wall (Wizards), Tyler Zeller (Cavaliers).

Report: LaMarcus Aldridge’s camp suggests trades to Blazers GM

Portland Trail Blazers

LaMarcus Aldridge has two years left on his contract, which will pay the 27-year-old All Star forward $30.4 million.

But there have been all kinds of rumblings about him wanting out of the Pacific Northwest, which puts Portland GM Neil Olshey in the same position the Jazz front office was with Deron Williams (and Denver with Carmelo Anthony) — do you trade him soon, closer to the trade deadline in 2015, or not trade him at all.

Aldridge has denied he wants a trade but Chris Haynes at CSNNW.com reports Aldridge’s camp met with the Blazers GM in Vegas to suggest trades for the Blazers best player.

According to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the situation, the meeting was described as being productive with both sides focused on doing what’s best for both parties….

Prospective teams holding the rights to Joakim Noah, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, Al Horford and Anthony Davis, as of now, have declined to involve their franchise players in any potential deals for Aldridge, a league source told CSNNW.com.

There is no kind of deal that is close (although Aldridge’s name has come up in some rumors lately). The Blazers are not just going to trade Aldridge for picks, they want quality back. And as of right now they may not initiate calls.

Aldridge averaged 21.1 points and 9.1 rebounds a game last season, with a PER of 20.4. He is one of the best power forwards in the game right now.

If Portland realizes they are not going to be able to re-sign him when he is a free agent in the summer of 2015 they will be looking to move him. But there is no pressure to do it right now, they can listen to offers that come in and put in him trade packages for the next year. They can be patient and wait for a deal they like.

Which means expect Aldridge back in Portland this fall, playing well for the Blazers as they head into next season with Damian Lillard. But don’t be shocked if Aldridge’s name comes up in trade talks closer to the deadline and next summer.

In a crowded Pelicans backcourt, Austin Rivers wants to show he belongs

Austin Rivers Summer League

LAS VEGAS — Austin Rivers’ poor start to last season got a lot of attention — he was genuinely awful. Historically awful. For the season he ended with a PER of 5.9, the kind of number that normally would suggest his next paycheck will come from Europe. It’s the worst PER ever for a rookie who played more than 1,000 minutes.

What wasn’t noticed is that at the end of the season he played better — in his last 20 games he shot 50 percent overall, 40 percent from three. He wasn’t scoring a lot, but you could see improvement.

“Last year was up and down for me, I didn’t have a great year,” Rivers said Thursday after the Pelicans were eliminated from the Summer League tournament. “That was tough, it was the first time in my life where everything wasn’t roses and success. I had to look in the mirror and be like, ‘What am I going to do? Listen I have to play better I got to figure something out.’

“Then bam I figured it out and I’m playing really well, and then I break my hand. I was like, ‘golly, what is going on I finally start playing well and my hand breaks. Then I was like this is a test, I’m going to rehab the heck out of my hand and come back even better.”

He’s looked better in Las Vegas — he averaged 17.3 points a game in the Pelicans first three games to lead the team and shot 46.5 percent. He had 16 points on Thursday, but on 5-of-14 shooting.

Thursday against the Nuggets he was attacking the rim — only 4 of his 14 shots were on the perimeter (1-of-4), half of them were in the restricted area (5-of-7) and he got to the line seven times. Finishing is one of the things he is doing better.

“My strength, I’ve gained seven pounds, guys aren’t able to post me up. I’m able to go to the rack and finish, I’m bumping guys off and able to get to that floater,” Rivers said. “On defense I can use my chest more.”

His decision making with the ball is improved, and his defense is improved (but has a ways to go). Rivers has a ways to go, but he’s taking steps.

All of which is to say, if you’ve written Rivers off you did it too soon. He is looking more like a guy who can play in the league.

The question is will he do that with the Pelicans? New Orleans had one of the most interesting summers out there and loaded up on talent in Rivers’ position.

Rivers is a point guard and the Pelicans got All-Star Jrue Holiday from Philadelphia (in exchange for Nerlens Noel, basically). Eric Gordon is healthy and at the two, but he can handle the ball. So can Tyreke Evans, who might play the three or be the sixth man.

Where does Rivers fit in that rotation? He doesn’t know, but he’s confident he does fit in.

“Jrue Holiday’s an unbelievable player, (Gordon) is an unbelievable player, (Evans) is a great player, but I believe I am too,” Rivers said. “And I’ve got to continue to work and just listen to my coaches and I know if I do that I’ll make time and have an unbelievable year next year.”

He sounds like a coach’s son. But that’s a good thing, the kind of thing that can help a guy get past a slow start to make a quality NBA career.