Danilo Gallinari tells players at adidas Eurocamp that they will have to earn their NBA respect

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Danilo Gallinari and Nicolas Batum held a question and answer session with the players at adidas Eurocamp on Tuesday, and the event covered a variety of topics. The most interesting dialogue came from Gallinari, as he explained to the players what it’s like to transition from playing in Europe to playing in the NBA.

Essentially, Gallinari told them that any respect at the NBA level has to be earned, and that professional players in the states tend to make it tough on their European counterparts.

“It’s tough for European players to go to the NBA, because you have to earn your respect,” he said. “They don’t respect you at the beginning. They say, ‘Who is this guy? He’s coming here to get our jobs.’ So you’ve got to earn the respect. From the first practice, they’re going to hit you, and do everything to make you sit on the bench (so they can) play. That’s normal.

“At the beginning it’s tough for us because you are a very good player in Europe, but you are nobody in the states. And they know you very well. They come here, they scout, they have everything. They write down your left hand, your right hand, what you do, what you don’t do. So when you get there, they have information, but that information — it can be true, or it can be not true. Once you go on the court, you’ve got to show what you did when they came to Italy (to see you).”

Gallinari also had some interesting things to say to the players about his start with the New York Knicks, and specifically about what then-head coach Mike D’Antoni told him about how he could fit in with the team’s offense.

“In my case, it was very funny because when I was in Europe, I was playing in a system where you do this, (then) you do this, and (then) you do your thing. You go in and out of the things that you do better. When I got to the states I was playing for Mike D’Antoni, and in our offensive system, every ball you catch, you’ve got to either shoot it, or do something. You’ve got to make things happen.

“For me it was very difficult in New York, because I was running up and down the court and I was not receiving the ball. After 10, 15 games I went to Mike and said, ‘What the f—? I run to the corners and I never get the ball.’  So he told me, ‘Whenever you have that ball, you have to shoot it. I don’t care. You get the ball, you shoot it, you do whatever you want. I will never say not to shoot.’ You get in that mentality, and the ball was getting to me. I was still running to the corner, but the ball was getting to me. I don’t know why.”

Now, that doesn’t exactly make D’Antoni sound like an offensive genius. But there was a lesson in there somewhere about communicating with your NBA head coach if you’re having issues, and then following his advice.

Raptors hire Spurs video coordinator, who just happens to be Kawhi Leonard friend

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Jeremy Castleberry played his high school ball in Riverside, California, on the same team as Kawhi Leonard. When Leonard went on to San Diego State for college, Castleberry went too and was a walk-on for that team.

When the Spurs drafted Leonard, it was not long before Castleberry was a video coordinator and on the staff in San Antonio. Now Leonard is a Raptor so… you know what’s coming. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN explained it well.

The Toronto Raptors are hiring San Antonio Spurs staffer Jeremy Castleberry — a close friend of Kawhi Leonard — to a position on their coaching staff, league sources told ESPN.

Castleberry has worked with Leonard as a Spurs staffer and played with Leonard in high school and at San Diego State, where he was a walk-on.

Is this alone going to keep Leonard a Raptor next summer when he’s a free agent? No. But this is how the game is played — make the star player you’re recruiting feel comfortable, wanted, a key part of everything. Bringing in a friend to a new city for him fits right into that plan.

The smart money is still on Leonard bolting next summer to go to Los Angeles, but if the Raptors are able to change his mind — ala Paul George — it will not be one big thing but a thousand little ones. And a lot of wins. But hiring Castleberry is a start.

Brandon Jennings signs to play in Russia next season

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Brandon Jennings has just never been the same since his 2015 torn Achilles. He hasn’t shot over 40 percent from the floor for a season since then, he hasn’t moved well defensivly, and he had a PER of 19.3 the season it was torn and it’s never been above 13.7 for a season since then. In the past couple of seasons he has played in the G-League and China, and he played 14 games at the end of the season for the Bucks last campaign.

This summer, there were no offers. He is now headed to Russia, according to multiple reports, including EuroHoops.net. He will play for Zenit St Petersburg.

He’s only 28 years old, there is time for him find a way to make his game fit into the NBA landscape again. He’s just not there yet, and maybe the opportunity in Russia will lead him there. If not, he’s still getting paid to play at a high level.

Some owners reportedly want access to mental health files of players

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If you read one thing NBA related today, it should be the first installment of Jackie MacMullan’s brilliant series at ESPN on the mental health of players and staffs in the NBA, and how the league is handling it. MacMullan not only got Kevin Love and Paul Pierce to open up about their challenges, but she also got into the challenges the league faces in confronting this issue head-on.

One such challenge: Owners wanting access to players mental health “files.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, players union executive director Michelle Roberts and their respective teams are reportedly working on a new mental health policy for the league. Privacy is going to be a big part of that. From MacMullan:

Yet there remain many obstacles to confront, chief among them the stigma attached to mental health that prompts many players to suffer in silence. The union also insists that mental health treatment be confidential, but some NBA owners, who in some cases are paying their players hundreds of millions of dollars, want access to the files of their “investments.” That is not, however, the league’s position. “The NBA fully supports protecting the confidentiality of players’ mental health information and, accordingly, committed to the players association that any mental health program we undertake would do so,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass says.

Confidentiality, says Love, has to be non-negotiable. Without it, he says, he never would have become comfortable enough to announce from that All-Star dais that he was seeking treatment.

Those files must be private. This is different from a torn knee ligament or sprained ankle (and on those we have HIPPA laws for good reason). For one, this is something more unpredictable in treating. Second, it comes back to the stigma of mental health issues and how the information about them might be used.

That stigma still exists, both in society and the NBA — McMullan gets into the players and their wives talking behind Love’s back All-Star weekend, and the players currently seeking treatment who do not want it public. The “real men don’t talk about this” mentality is everywhere, but it has fertile ground in professional sports locker rooms where players see themselves as invincible.

That mentality, that stigma will be the hardest thing to change in altering the culture of mental health issues in the NBA. There are no easy answers here. Does anyone think the owners who want access to those files wouldn’t use against the player in negotiations (never underestimate an owner’s effort to gain leverage)?

The players’ union will not allow that in whatever the framework is for the leagues’ new mental health policy. Nor should they.

Love, DeMar DeRozan, Royce White and others broke barriers stepping forward into the spotlight to discuss their challenges. But there are a lot of barriers still up, and a lot of work for both the NBA and society to do on this front. And privacy must be part of that.

Rebuilding Hawks add depth by signing Daniel Hamilton, Alex Poythress.

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ATLANTA (AP) — The rebuilding Atlanta Hawks have added depth by signing guard-forward Daniel Hamilton and forward Alex Poythress.

Poythress was signed to a two-way contract, so the former Kentucky player will split his time with the Hawks’ G League Erie team.

Hamilton is on a fully guaranteed one-year contract after impressing the Hawks playing for the Thunder Summer League team. He averaged 2 points in six games with Oklahoma City last season while on a two-way contract with the Thunder. He spent most of the season with the G League Oklahoma City Blue.

Poythress averaged 1 point in 25 games with Indiana last season. He began the season on a two-way contract.