Raptors sign Norman Powell


Norman Powell had one heck of a summer-league dunk:

Now, the No. 46 pick in the 2015 NBA draft has something even better – a contract with the Raptors.

Raptors release:

The Toronto Raptors announced Wednesday they have signed guard Norman Powell.


The Raptors would have done well by dipping into their cap room to give Powell a three-year, partially guaranteed contract. Doing so would ensure Toronto can have full Bird Rights (plus matching rights) on Powell in three years if he pans out. (The minimum-salary exception is for up to two years.)

I don’t think Toronto was signing someone better with that space at this point, anyway. So why not get that potential advantage down the road with Powell?

Powell has looked good in summer league – getting to the basket, defending on the perimeter and generally just showing off his athleticism. But he hasn’t dispelled doubts about the shaky outside shot he showed over four years at UCLA. Really, summer league isn’t enough to confirm his perceived strengths. But it’s at least better to play well than play poorly.

With DeMar DeRozan, Terrance Ross and DeMarre Carroll, there’s no clear path to Powell earning regular-season minutes immediately. Hopefully for their sake, the Raptors gave themselves a few years to find a role for him.

He might earn one eventually.

Young stars’ struggles reminder to Lakers that rebuilding is long process


LAS VEGAS — Lakers fans are not exactly renowned for their patience.

Nowhere was that more in evidence than Monday night at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, when after an ugly first quarter — 5 points on 2-of-17 shooting, with seven turnovers — Lakers fans that filled the Thomas & Mack booed their young players.

That may have been the lowlight, but the Lakers’ young stars have had their struggles in Sin City. Through two games Julius Randle is shooting 29.4 percent, and has averaged just 3.5 rebounds a game in 20 minutes a night. D’Angelo Russell is averaging 10 points a night on 33 percent shooting through three games, but the bigger issue he has two turnovers for each assist he has dished out. Jordan Clarkson has looked like a guy who has been through an NBA season and scored 18.3 points a game, but he’s shooting just 40.4 percent overall and 26.7 percent from three. Clarkson and Russell have some work to do on their chemistry.

All these struggles should serve as a reminder to the Lakers organization and their fans:

Rebuilding is a long process. Patience is required.

If that seems hard, just recall how the last quick fix — bringing in Dwight Howard and Steve Nash — went.

Plus, there are things to like from the young Lakers, things they have shown in Vegas. That starts with their attitudes.

“Every game matters to me, and me being competitive I forget that it’s just Summer League,” Russell said. “I’m trying to get better so fast, rather than being patient and letting things come to me.”

“I’ve got to get my teammates going, get myself going,” Randle said, clearly frustrated by the rust in his game. “Everything starts with me; I’ve got to be better. End of story.”

Randle looked better in the second half against the Knicks Monday, but he remains a guy with limited moves. When he gets the ball and faces up he has a great first step and but tries to use that and power to get to the rim, not a variety of moves (he did show one spin that drew a foul). He looks in Vegas like a guy who has been away from the game for a year — which is exactly what he is after he broke his right leg on opening night a year ago and had to have surgery. Rust was to be expected.

For Russell, the game just seems to be moving too fast, and he isn’t letting it slow down yet, which is leading to 6.7 turnovers a game. It will eventually start to slow down for him.

“I’m just trying to force the issue to get big guys involved, and for myself forcing the issue on the offensive end trying to just get something out of nothing when it’s not there,” Russell said. “Realizing it’s Summer League and being patient is my problem right now…

“Summer League is great for the adjustment process. I’m young, I feel like I’m going to get better every game, every practice, once I get under the system and get the hang of it a little more.”

While Lakers Summer League coach Mark Madsen has put in plays, the nature of Summer League — a thrown-together roster that doesn’t get a lot of practice time together and is devoid of veterans — leads to an unstructured game. For much of the time in Vegas the Lakers offense has been “watch Jordan Clarkson create stuff” and that hasn’t helped build cohesion and chemistry.

For the Lakers, hope sells.

The strength of that hope and the Lakers brand has been evident in Vegas — Russell and Randle again packed the house Monday, where fans sat in the upper deck (never before at summer league has the curtains had to be pulled back from the upper deck at the Thomas & Mack). When the Lakers have played there have been attendance records this summer.

But there needs to be patience. This coming season those young players will grow while the fans celebrate Kobe. With roster additions such as Lou Williams, Brandon Bass and Roy Hibbert — plus hopefully a dash of health thrown in the pot — the Lakers will be respectable on the court.

From there, and as Clarkson/Russell/Randle show their potential, then the big free agents the next couple years will give the Lakers a longer look.

It’s all just going to take time.

Summer League dunk of the day went to Toronto’s Norman Powell

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Not bad for a guy known for his defense.

Norman Powell was taken in the second round of the draft (46th overall) by the Bucks, but was shipped to Toronto as part of the Greivis Vasquez deal. The four-year player at UCLA’s best skills were considered to be his defense and athleticism. He fell to the second round because he needs a more consistent jumper, but he has the chance to develop into an NBA rotation player down the line.

Oh, and he can finish in transition. I think we mentioned that athleticism already.

Report: With no trade market for him, Lakers to keep Nick Young (for now)


The Lakers shopped Nick Young around. Starting at the draft and through free agency, as they tried to reshape their roster Young was made available to anyone and everyone.

He’s still a Laker, and it’s going to stay that way for a while, reports Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.

Young is the quintessential NBA gunner, a volume shooter who averaged 13.4 points a game last season but shot 36.6 percent to get there. He is out there having fun, is not taking anything too seriously, and that has rubbed Kobe Bryant and Byron Scott the wrong way at times.

Scott said he wants to see Young work on his decision making, off-the-ball movement and off-ball defense this summer. If he does that he can be a core player for the Lakers, GM Mitch Kupchak added. But the Lakers have so much faith that is going to happen they went out and signed Lou Williams to play the same role.

Young is only making $5.2 million next season (with two season at that price after it), but coming off a knee injury that cost him half the season last year teams were not going to take the risk. That could change as things move into the season, as teams see how their rosters blend.

But for now, Young is a Laker.

Willie Cauley-Stein with chase down block at Summer League (VIDEO)


This is likely the first of many Willie Cauley-Stein block videos we will end up running at PBT.

Friday at Summer League the Kings took on the Raptors and just before halftime the Kings had a sloppy turnover (welcome to Summer League) and Cauley-Stein chased down Toronto’s Drew Crawford and shut him down. With authority.

Cauley-Stein finished the game with 11 points, five rebounds and a couple blocks.

This wasn’t near enough as the Raptors went on to win handily, 90-68, behind 20 points from Norman Powell and 15 from young project Bruno Caboclo.