No pressure kid: Stoudemire compares Gallinari to Nowitzki

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Thumbnail image for Gallinari_celebrates.jpgAmar’e Stoudemire likes what he sees in Danilo Gallinari — so much so that he paid him maybe the ultimate compliment for a European big man.

And also out a ton of pressure on him. From the twitter account of Alan Hahn of Newsday:

“He reminds me of Dirk [Nowitzki] a lot…He’s at that same level as Dirk at the same age if not better.”

Stoudemire’s point wasn’t that Gallo and Dirk have the same game, it’s both are similarly versatile and use the jump shot to set up game.

Stoudemire is right.

Through two seasons and at age 22 Gallinari has some Nowitzki in him, although it was big jumps in his third and fourth year that set Nowitzki apart, Gallinari has to prove he can make that leap.

In his second NBA season, Gallinari averaged 15 points per game, Nowitizki 17.5. Gallinari shot 42.3 percent overall, 38 percent from three and had a true shooting percentage of .575. Nowitzki shot 46 percent, 38 percent and 56.4. Gallinari had a PER of 14.8, Nowitzki 17.5.

The difference in the third year was Nowitzki jumping to 21.8 points per game, shooting 47.4 percent, 38.7 percent from three, true shooting percentage of .601 and a PER of 22.8. Then in his fourth season every one of those numbers improved again.

Gallinari’s ceiling is not that high. Still, if he can improve across the board this season and become a reliable scoring option for the Knicks outside of Stoudemire the Knicks takes another step toward respectability. Basketball Prospectus said he could become what Rashard Lewis was in Seattle or Peja Stojakovic was with the Kings. The Knicks would take that in a heartbeat.

Vince Carter to be second-oldest opening-game starter ever

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Vince Carter is 42 years old. He’s more than a decade older than all his Hawks teammates. He was drafted before Atlanta point guard Trae Young was even born.

Yet, after all these years, Carter is still starting in the NBA.

JuliaKate E. Culpepper of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Rookie Trae Young will start his first regular-season NBA game alongside expected starters Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince, Vince Carter and Alex Lin.

When Atlanta visits the Knicks tomorrow, that will make Carter – 41 years and 264 days old – the second-oldest opening-game starter ever. Only Robert Parish – who was 42 years and 65 days old with the 1995 Hornets – was older.

Here’s every opening-game start by a player over 40:

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Don’t expect Carter to challenge Parish’s record next year. Carter said he’ll probably retire after this season. Even if he bucks the odds to play again, odds are strongly against him being on a team that’d start him.

But tomorrow will give Carter one more accomplishment in his incredible career.

Austin Rivers: Everybody, ‘so f—ing gassed up on the Celtics and the Sixers,’ overlooking Wizards and Pacers

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We picked the Celtics, Raptors, 76ers and Bucks to be the top four teams in the Eastern Conference this year and ranked the Wizards and Pacers next. If that’s not the consensus, it’s close to it.

Wizards guard Austin Rivers, via James Herbert of CBSSports.com:

“I think we’re heavily slept-on,” he tells me. “Team’s been to the playoffs, what, the last five, four or five years? Then going into this year, you add me, Dwight Howard, Jeff Green and nobody seems to talk about us. So I just think we’re heavily slept-on, but that’s fine. At the end of the day, nothing really matters until the season starts and we set that tone for ourselves. I get the hype of a couple of the other teams, but I think we have a chance to compete with the best of the East.”

I tell him I recently spoke to Tyreke Evans, who said something similar about the Indiana Pacers. Rivers gets more animated.

“Yeah, I would say Indiana’s the other team that gets slept-on, too,” he says. “You look at Indiana, they took Cleveland to seven games and then damn near, arguably could have beaten them.”

Rivers rattles off Evans’ stats from last season, then continues: “That’s who they just added to the team? And nobody seems to talk about the Pacers because everybody’s so f—ing gassed up on the Celtics and the Sixers. And rightfully so: they’re both talented teams. But Indiana is just as good as both those teams. And I think we’re in the same situation.”

I agree the Wizards and Pacers had positive offseasons. But Indiana might have been punching slightly above its weight as a surprise team last year, and Washington’s problem has often been overconfidence.

In that regard, Rivers – acquired in an offseason trade from the Clippers – is already fitting right in. The brashness might be good for Rivers, but it’s not what the Wizards need.

Washington could have a good season. John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter are a strong starting point in the Eastern Conference, and Dwight Howard could help with the right attitude and health. Rivers is a quality reserve. But let’s pump the brakes on calling Jeff Green a key addition, though Rivers would be only one of many – including someone in his immediate family – to make that error.

Report: Klay Thompson doesn’t plan to give Warriors discount

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Klay Thompson, who will become an unrestricted free agent next summer, has said many times he plans to stay with the Warriors. He even discussed signing a contract extension, which would have capped his compensation far below what he could get in free agency.

But Thompson is apparently no longer interested in offering Golden State that savings.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Thompson has no plans to take a discount, and the Warriors don’t expect him to, league sources say.

Thompson’s max next summer projects be about about $221 million over five years if he makes an All-NBA team (or wins Defensive Player of the Year) this season or about $190 million over five years if he doesn’t.

That’s a steep bill, but the Warriors have little choice but to pay it. They’re in the midst of maybe the greatest run in NBA history, and they’re generating massive revenue. Cheapness would be a terrible reason to break up this team. Thompson is a key contributor, and at least his outside shooting should help the 28-year-old age well.

But costs will get steep in a hurry. If the Warriors re-sign Thompson and Kevin Durant next summer and Draymond Green the following summer to max – not even supermax – deals, keep Stephen Curry then fill the roster with 10 minimum-salary free agents, their projected payroll in 2020-21 would be… about $288 million, including about $115 million in luxury tax. That might be untenable, even for Golden State.

Perhaps, Durant will take one decision out of the Warriors’ hands. But if Durant stays and Thompson seeks every penny, Green could face a belt-tightening team in 2020 free agency.

Spurs waive Manu Ginobili, will likely continue paying him into retirement

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The Spurs are still paying Tim Duncan, who retired in 2016.

It seems they’ll also give Manu Ginobili, who retired this summer, a similar golden parachute.

Duncan will earn $1,881,250 this season, the final installment of his three years of post-retirement income. When he retired, Duncan had one season remaining on his contract with a $6,393,750 salary. San Antonio didn’t have to pay him that money. Duncan wasn’t coming to work anymore. But the Spurs graciously allowed the all-time great to receive all but $750,000 of his remaining salary and stretched the payments over three years. That money still counted against the cap and was paid despite San Antonio trying to clear cap space in both 2016 and 2017.

The Spurs waived Ginobili yesterday, and no word has emerged on a buyout amount. He was due $2.5 million this season.

Based on the process and Duncan precedent, it seems highly likely Ginobili will continue to draw paychecks from San Antonio.

The Spurs would do well to pay Ginobili all his money this season, whether it’s the full $2.5 million or a negotiated reduced amount. They’re already over the cap and still below the luxury-tax line, so there’s minimal flexibility harm. The only other option – stretching Ginobili’s payments into equal thirds over the next three seasons – could interfere with roster building in future years.

Of course, the other option was getting Ginobili removed from the books entirely. But it seems that route has passed with waiving him.

San Antonio wants to treat its legends well, and that means paying them more than necessary – even with that money counting toward the cap as the Spurs transition into their next era.