Tag: Portland Trail Blazers


Five players who impressed in Las Vegas at NBA Summer League


Summer League is over. Finally everyone can head home from Las Vegas. The San Antonio Spurs won there just like they have been winning all offseason.

Summer League isn’t about wins and losses; it’s about development, and a status check on players. With the rookies, we see where they really stand right now. For returning players, it’s a chance to benchmark their development.

These are five players that stood out to the PBT crew in Las Vegas (myself and Sean Highkin were there). This is not a list of the best players at the event, if so guys like Seth Curry and T.J. Warren would have been here. This is also not a complete list of guys who looked good or that we liked, otherwise Jahlil Okafor of the Sixers or Kyle Anderson of the Spurs would be on the list (among others). Bottom line, this could be a lot longer list.

But here are the five that turned our heads.

1) Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver Nuggets). He has an incredible maturity to his game for a rookie. While other players struggled to adjust to the increased athleticism in Las Vegas and defensive pressure that can bring, he was calm and making the right decisions. Mudiay would recognize what defenses were trying to do then quickly worked to exploit a weakness. He can step in right now and be a starting point guard in the NBA (while there still will be rookie bumps along that road, he is far more prepared than most).

“I feel like playing overseas professionally, that really helped me,” Mudiay said of the patience in his game. “Coming from high school to pro ball, in high school I was rushing everything. Straight out to China I was rushing everything. But I’ve got to let the game come to me.”

“When things are chaotic he remains calm, he’s very comfortable with his abilities, and he’s able to make pretty much any pass at any time, which is big time,”Denver Nuggets Summer League coach Micah Nori told PBT. “And I think the one thing about Emmanuel that allows him to do that is his skill level with his ball handling. And the other thing is he’s a big kid, a big strong kid. Some guys, when they get pressure, turn their back to the floor, the one thing he’s able to do is be facing forward, facing that rim, and that’s why he can make any pass at any time. He finds guys that are open and hits them on time and on target.”

Nuggets fans are going to love the flair he has in his game — he pushes the pace, and he’s fond of behind-the-back and jump passes. He’s got a great change of pace dribble and has shown some real explosion to the rim.

“The first thing you see is he is a true point guard…”  said. “Guys are going to love to play with him, they are going to continue to run for him because he is a pass-first point guard…. And I see him being able to lead. With his ability to pass and his unselfishness, guys are going to want to follow him.” (KH)

2) Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves). We knew the No. 1 overall pick had physical talent, but what we really liked was the high basketball IQ he showed. He does well recognizing the double teams being thrown at him, he was patient and made clever passes out of them. His game also grew quickly as he adjusted to Summer League defenses — he showed an ability to score a variety of ways, from back-to-the-basket to 18-foot jumpers. He cuts and moves well off the ball. Like every other rookie there is plenty of work to do — he picked up fouls at an alarming rate, and he needs a diversity of post moves — but there is a lot to like there for Timberwolves fans dreaming of a bright future. (KH)

3) Bobby Portis (Chicago Bulls). The Bulls were surprised on draft night when Portis was still available at No. 22, and they have to be pleased with his Summer League showing. In his Vegas debut, Portis had 23 points and 7 rebounds playing against No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns. His later games weren’t as impressive statistically, but new Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg raved about his motor and intensity. The Bulls’ frontcourt is crowded, but Taj Gibson is coming off recent ankle surgery, Pau Gasol is 35 and Joakim Noah looked like a shell of himself last year, so it’s easy to see a scenario where Portis plays significant minutes this season. He looks ready. (SH)

4) Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks). After all the questions pre-draft and the boos on draft night, here is the simple assessment of Porzingis:

He belongs.

He belongs at the top of the draft board; he deserves to be mentioned with Okafor and Towns. Make no mistake, he is still a project that will take a couple of years to develop, but he has the potential to be that good. Porzingis showed a raw game but one that could be efficient and smooth — he averaged just more than 10 touches a game at Summer League but was efficient with them, scoring 1.024 points per possession (much better than Towns or Okafor did). Porzingis showed a high basketball IQ, good passing skills, and while he can shoot the three he showed off an ability to get inside and make plays off the bounce as well. He was better on the defensive end than expected because of his crazy length.

“Just how it complements so many different players and situations,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said of how Porzingis’ game fits in New York. “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.”

5) Noah Vonleh (Portland Trail Blazers). Vonleh, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 draft, didn’t play very much in his rookie season in Charlotte, and they gave up on him after one year to trade for Nicolas Batum. He’ll have plenty of opportunity to get minutes at power forward for the Blazers, who just lost LaMarcus Aldridge and are very much in “throw a bunch of young guys with upside out on the floor and see who sticks” mode. The “it’s only Summer League” caveats fully apply here, but Vonleh was impressive in Vegas, showing off an uncommon handle and shooting range for a big man in addition to the explosiveness that made him such a high pick in the first place. He’s still a very raw prospect, but the tools are there, and there’s reason to believe the Blazers got a steal in their rebuilding effort. (SH)

Becky Hammon coaches Spurs to Summer League title


The Spurs have been winning all offseason. They landed LaMarcus Aldridge as a free agent. They got David West to sign with them for pennies on the dollar. They retained Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.

Why not have them win Summer League, too?

Behind 23 points from Jonathon Simmons and 15 from Summer League MVP Kyle Anderson, the Spurs executed when it mattered and pulled away for a 93-90 win and the Las Vegas Summer League championship.

It gives the first woman ever to coach a Summer League team, Becky Hammon, another milestone — the first female coach to win the Summer League title.

Phoenix opened the game fast, pushing out to a 10-point first quarter lead thanks to hot shooting — they knocked down 53 percent of their shots in the first quarter, and that included a three from Devin Booker showing off some sick range.

In the huddle, Hammon snapped at her team for getting “too cute” and told them to get back to playing the right way. They did, going on a 23-11 run. The Spurs kept executing, and more importantly their defense got better

The Spurs retook the lead midway through the second quarter on a Kyle Anderson alley-oop to Simmons.

At the half it was tied 39-39, but the Spurs shot just 30 percent for the first 20 minutes and it felt like the shots would start to fall.

It stayed close and was 59-59 near the end of the third quarter, but that’s when the Spurs went on a 20-7 run that spanned into the fourth quarter. It was a lead the Spurs would not relinquish. Phoenix made it interesting with a late 10-4 run, but the Spurs victory never felt in doubt.

Treveon Graham also had 22 points for the Spurs.  Anderson looked like every bit the MVP and guy that the Spurs need to give some run to come the season. He played the point forward role we’ve seen in the Spurs offense for years, working out of the post, finding mismatches and making crisp passes to the open man.

Point guard Mike James had 32 points for the Suns — the most any player scored in a Summer League game all this run. James did it knocking down a few threes but mostly attacking (he got to the line 11 times, hit nine). Alex Len added 17, Archie Goodwin 12 and Booker 10.

Alex Len (17 points), Archie Goodwin (12) and Devin Booker (10) rounded out the foursome of double-digit scorers for Phoenix, who ended its stay in Las Vegas with a 5-2 overall record.


Report: John Jenkins signing three-year contract with Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks v Atlanta Hawks

The Mavericks gave Wesley Matthews $70 million just four months after he tore his Achilles.

By comparison, John Jenkins’ injury is a walk in the park.

Jenkins underwent season-ending back surgery in February 2014, and he played just 24 games for the Hawks last season. That was mostly because he couldn’t pass Kyle Korver, Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore in the rotation. But Jenkins has yet to prove his durability.

Like with Matthews, that won’t stop Dallas from taking a chance on him.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

Jenkins is a good spot-up shooter, making 37.5% of his 3-pointers in his three-year NBA career. He’s also a good defensive rebounder for his position.

But he’s also a poor, though improved, defender.

Before the season, the Hawks declined the fourth-year option on the rookie-scale contract of Jenkins, who was drafted No. 23 in 2012. I doubt he made them regret that decision during the year.

Jenkins is hardly washed up, and he has the potential to provide Dallas value. But there’s a reason he was available.

Nuggets waive Pablo Prigioni

Brooklyn Nets v Houston Rockets

Apparently, Denver couldn’t flip Pablo Prigioni.

The Nuggets acquired the point guard in the Ty Lawson trade, but they didn’t really want him. They just needed Prigioni’s contract to facilitate the deal.

Nuggets release:

Prigioni was waived by Denver following the trade

The Nuggets will owe Prigioni just $440,00 of his $1,734,572 salary if he clears waivers.

But it’s not a lock Prigioni clears waivers. That price isn’t bad for a third point guard, and Prigioni is better than most third point guards. The 38-year-old doesn’t have any upside remaining, but that shouldn’t matter to teams ready to win now – a few of whom have cap room or trade exceptions that could fit Prigioni’s salary.

One example: The Nets, who bought out Deron Williams and traded Steve Blake. Jarrett Jack is line to start at point guard, and Shane Larkin offers decent potential behind him. Prigioni is more dependable – and likely better than anyone Brooklyn could get with the minimum-salary exception it has available. The Nets have a couple trade exceptions that could fit Prigioni’s contract.

Who is left: The 10 best NBA free agents still on the board.

Tristan Thompson

Unlike a year ago, the 2015 NBA free agency period was front loaded — starting with Anthony Davis in just minutes after midnight July 1, it seemed like everyone made a quick decision. Even if they later changed their mind and went another direction.

Now almost three weeks into free agency, who is left on the free agent board?

Most teams either have their roster set or are just looking to add one or two last players to round it out (and those are the guys at the end of the bench). Still, there are some interesting free agents available — a few of them tied to Cleveland.

Here’s our list of the 10 best.

1) Tristan Thompson — The Cavaliers and Thompson have yet to agree on a number. Reportedly Thompson (who has the same agent as LeBron James) wants Draymond Green money, which the Cavaliers are rightfully finding amusing. Thompson is a restricted free agent but the problem for him is only three teams — Philadelphia, Utah and Portland — have the cap space to give him the kind of offer he would want, and none of them are likely to do it. With no other good options (read: leverage) Thompson may have to take a number lower than he wants.

2) J.R. Smith — I wrote about him yesterday, he should have opted in for the $6.4 million he was owed, but he became a free agent and now is about to take a pay cut. The Cavaliers are deep into the luxury tax (especially once they make a deal with Thompson) and they want Smith to take a below-market, one-year deal. The problem for Smith is no other teams are stepping up, so he lacks leverage.

3) Jason Terry — In the wake of the Ty Lawson trade (where Houston sent out a few guards), expect the Rockets to reach a deal with Terry to provide depth off the bench. He did shoot 39 percent from three last year and he provides a some value.

4) Carlos Boozer — There are holes in his game, but Boozer still scored 11.8 points a game shooting nearly 50 percent last year. He has some value as a rotation big man. The Clippers, Spurs, Mavs, Pelicans, and Raptors reportedly have some level of interest.

5) Matthew Dellavedova — He’s one of the most popular Cavaliers on the roster, and Cleveland wants him to provide depth behind Kyrie Irving, it’s just a question of for how much money. Delly reportedly wants around $4 million a year, which would bring another $14 million in luxury taxes down on the Cavs, so they understandably want a lower number. He is a restricted free agent, but no other team has signed him to an offer sheet (most assume the Cavaliers would match, and they don’t want to pay Dellavedova what he’s asking either).

6) Dorell Wright — He’s one of the better floor-spacing shooters still out there — more than half his attempts came from three last season, and he hit 38 percent of them. Coming off hand surgery, there hasn’t been much of a market for him as of yet.

7) Kevin Seraphin — He wanted to find a place he could be a starter, but that ship has now sailed. There reportedly was interest with the Lakers and Mavericks, plus the Wizards still want to bring him back. The question is where can he get the most run and the most money? He’s not going to find as much of either of those as he hoped.

8) Darrell Arthur — Denver wants to bring him back, and reportedly the Clippers have some interest, too. Arthur is a solid defender who mostly plays a smart game. As a reserve at the four he makes a lot of sense.

9) Andre Miller — It’s a little surprising to see a quality, veteran point guard like Miller still on the market. The Kings had some discussions with him, but nothing has come to fruition. He’s not young, but he can still give a team quality minutes nightly.

10) Norris Cole — He’s a restricted free agent who played pretty well for the Pelicans at the end of last season. New Orleans wants to bring him back, but Cole is looking for more money. He reportedly has had talks with the Sixers.