Tag: Portland Trail Blazers

Golden State Warriors vs New York Knicks

News, notes from Summer League Thursday: Kristaps Porzingis learned some lessons in Vegas


LAS VEGAS — The Summer League playoffs continued in Las Vegas Thursday, and while the crowds have dwindled a little — the Lakers weren’t playing, and frankly even Laker fans are not flocking to watch this Summer League team anymore — the action has still been good.

Here are some news and notes from Las Vegas (and with the PBT crew headed home, this will be our last notes column from Sin City, so savor it).

• Kristaps Porzingis isn’t the first guy to learn some lessons — a few of them hard lessons — in Las Vegas.

But his could have some payoff for the Knicks. Porzingis is a project, but just through the course of four games in Las Vegas there has been clear growth. One of the biggest adjustments was just the schedule — four games in six days.

“For me it’s something new, because I had at most two games per week the first part of the season, then the second part of the season only one game, so you have to recover and stuff,” Porzingis said. “That’s not an excuse, that’s how the NBA schedule is so I just got to get used to it… You’ve got to have the same energy and going out there and competing. I can learn.”

There also was the lesson where for a half the Sixer’s Jahlil Okafor bullied him in the paint. To Porzingis’ credit, he adjusted and used his length to deny and frustrate Okafor some, even blocking a couple shots in the second half. But there were hard lessons to learn.

“I just could see just how big he is, how physical he is,” Porzingis said. “Those are the five men I’m going to have to guard sometimes in the league. I’m going to be playing the four mostly, but there are moments I’ll be playing the five, so I’ve got to be ready for that physicality.”

The important thing is that Porzingis did learn and did improve as the games in Vegas went on (the Knicks have one more game but Porzingis could sit out). Coach Derek Fisher would not commit to starting Porzingis come the regular season, but he liked what he saw.

“Just how it complements so many different players and situations,” Fisher said. “I think defensively he complements guys because of his length and his rim protection. He’s pretty active and can guard multiple guys. I think offensively because of his ability to stretch the floor and do some things around the basket as well. I think he’s a player that fits with just about any lineup, no matter how you’re trying to play. So I think that versatility has been obvious during Summer League.”

Knicks fans need to be a little patient, but they have a good player here, maybe more than good.

• After the injuries to Marcus Smart and Allen Crabbe, expect teams to start pulling guys who could be part of their rosters and rotations come the fall. At this point, what they learn in another Summer League game may not be worth the injury risk.

• Can a point guard who had 7 turnovers and 1 assist still look good? Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay did Thursday. It may have been an off night for him, but he was still making smart passes and just controlling the game for stretches despite the Hawks throwing hard doubles at him every chance they got.

The project for Mudiay will be to work on his shooting, he hit just 37.2 percent overall and 14.3 percent from three through his first three games in Las Vegas.

“This weekend I wasn’t too focused on the scoring part because I wanted to facilitate,” Mudiay said, saying he prefers to be a passing point guard not just a scorer. “The reads I was making was was wide open for my teammates…

“I didn’t shoot it like I wanted to, but I’m gonna keep shooting. You’ve got to put pressure on the defense. It’s only four games, you can’t go off four games.”

He said he also wants to work on finishing around the rim, too.

• The Spurs are just winning here in Vegas (shocking, I know), but the only name on this roster who will likely be playing for the team come the fall is Kyle Anderson — and he has looked good. Like a guy who has put in the work good. Like Popovich needs to find him a little run good.

Anderson has averaged 21.3 points a game for the Spurs and helped the Spurs execute at the end on Thursday and beat the Nets.

“I think he’s great,” said Spurs coach Becky Hammon. “The last defensive possession he’s the one who rallied everyone on the court, he’s the one who’s speaking, he’s the one being more demonstrative in a leadership role — and that’s really what we want to see from him in this setting. It was nice to see him take ownership of the situation.”

• By the way, a lot has been written about Hammon and how she’s breaking barriers at Summer League as a woman coach. And that should be lauded. But here’s what you really need to know about her:

She can flat out coach. She’s as good as any other coach in Vegas.

• Phoenix’s T.J. Warren continues to be one of the best players in Las Vegas. Thursday he put up 23 points, four assists and three rebounds to lead the Suns to a blowout win. His averages for Summer League are 20.3 points on 56.9 percent shooting, and on defense he’s averaging 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks a game.

Marcus Smart dislocates two fingers in Summer League game

Portland Trailblazers v Boston Celtics

LAS VEGAS — When Marcus Smart walked out to start for the Boston Celtics in Thursday night in a Summer League playoff game, a few eyebrows were raised among the NBA folks and media watching. Why run a player that’s a starter or at least part of your regular season rotation out there, didn’t they see what happened to Allen Crabbe just the night before?

Early in the game Smart dislocated the index and middle fingers on his right hand at the middle knuckle and is out for the rest of the game, the Celtics announced before halftime of their contest. He was undergoing X-Rays.

It’s not pretty, here’s a screen grab of the injury.

Smart averaged 27 minutes a game and scored 7.8 points a night in a solid rookie year for the Celtics. He also plays good defense. He may not be a future star, but he’s a future rotation player in the league.

He also was scheduled to be part of the NBA’s first game in Africa, but that may now be up in the air.

MRI shows Blazers’ guard Allen Crabbe with severe ankle sprain

LV Celtics v Trailblazers
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LAS VEGAS — It was clearly pretty nasty when it happened — Blazers’ guard Allen Crabbe was yelling and in pain. Then he was taken off the court on a stretcher.

The doctors have had a good look at him, and while it could have been a lot worse, his Summer League is over.

Crabbe has played 66 games over the last two seasons in Portland but was tearing it up in Summer League — 15.5 points a game (second on the team) on 53 percent shooting overall and 43 percent from three. He played like a guy who is going to demand another look and maybe a few more minutes come the fall.

That 4-6 week timetable means he should be okay for the start of training camp.

J.J. Barea negotiates a raise from Mavericks after DeAndre Jordan defection

Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three

Wesley Matthews got more money from the Mavericks when DeAndre Jordan spurned Dallas for the Clippers.

Apparently, J.J. Barea – who agreed to a two-year, $5.6 million contract – got the same treatment.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas:

On one hand, the Mavericks had extra cap space laying around after Jordan’s surprise turnaround. On the other hand, they could have used that money to improve the team this year and in coming years.

Instead, they lock up the 31-year-old Barea, who fits Rick Carlisle’s system but relies on his quick first step to get to the basket. If he loses athleticism into his 30s, Barea could become unplayable.

As the salary-cap rises, $4 million per season isn’t a huge investment. But it eats into the Mavericks’ flexibility, and they lock in further with a roster that’s mediocre in the Western Conference.

I can see why Mark Cuban wants to let those types of teams into the playoffs.

Gregg Popovich will coach Team Africa in exhibition against Team World featuring Gasol brothers

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Four

We already knew Luol Deng (Team Africa) and Chris Paul (Team World) would serve as captains in the NBA’s first exhibition game in Africa.

Who else will participate in that Aug. 1 contest in Johannesburg, South Africa?

NBA release:

Team Africa, comprised of players born in Africa and second-generation African players, will feature team captain and two-time NBA All-Star Luol Deng (Miami Heat; Great Britain; born in South Sudan), Al-Farouq Aminu (Portland Trail Blazers; U.S.; parents from Nigeria), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks; Greece; parents from Nigeria), Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets; France; parent from Cameroon), Bismack Biyombo (Toronto Raptors; Democratic Republic of the Congo), Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs; France; parent from Senegal), Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves; Senegal), Festus Ezeli (Golden State Warriors; Nigeria), Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder; Congo)*, and Luc Mbah a Moute (Sacramento Kings; Cameroon).


Team World, comprised of players from the rest of the world, will feature team captain, NBPA President and eight-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers; U.S.), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards; U.S.), Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets; U.S.),Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies; Spain), Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls; Spain), Jeff Green (Memphis Grizzlies; U.S.), Marcus Smart(Boston Celtics; U.S.), Evan Turner (Boston Celtics; U.S.) and Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic; Montenegro).

Five-time NBA Champion Gregg Popovich will coach Team Africa, with 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks and Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams serving as assistant coaches.  Brooklyn Nets General Manager Billy King and Toronto Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri are the Team Africa general managers, with Eric Waters (Washington Wizards) serving as the team’s athletic trainer.

Brooklyn Nets Coach Lionel Hollins will coach Team World, with Boston Celtics Coach Brad Stevens serving as assistant coach.  San Antonio Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford is the Team World general manager, while Keon Weise (Orlando Magic) will be the team’s athletic trainer.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will attend the game along with NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and NBA Africa Ambassador Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria).

There’s a good amount of talent on both teams and coaching staffs – which speaks to just how far basketball has come in Africa and how committed the NBA is to growing it further.

Exhibition games are always hit or miss, but I’m looking forward to watching this one.