Josh Selby shows he’s closer to reaching potential at NBA Summer League

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LAS VEGAS — Josh Selby earned a vote for the NBA’s All-Rookie Third Team this past that many in the media felt wasn’t deserved. While that may have been the case, there’s a good chance he cemented himself a spot on the All-Summer League roster following Monday evening’s performance at the Cox Pavilion in lovely Las Vegas.

The second-year guard ignited the crowd as he scored 35 points as he caught fire from beyond the arc en route to hitting seven of his eight attempts from behind the 3-point line while also contributing seven steals. It was all for naught, however, as his his Memphis Grizzlies lost 83-77 to the Washington Wizards.

“I just come out here and knock down open shots when my teammates are able to find me and just be that scorer that they need me to be,” Selby told Pro Basketball Talk after his outstanding performance. “I’m disappointed we didn’t get that win, though … I don’t really care about how many points I scored.”

The performance showed that he might someday be able to reach his ridiculous upside — upside he realizes he’s getting closer to achieving as he matures.

“Everybody’s been trying to help me because they see the potential,” Selby said. “I just take all of the advice in, work on everything they tell me and try to better my game.”

Other standouts on Tuesday afternoon including the following players:

  • Byron Mullens looked like a competent player at times for the Charlotte Bobcats this season and, in a move that shouldn’t be surprising, it carried over to the Summer League. The big man didn’t do well as far as defensive rotations and the like were concerned, but he poured in 33 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kemba Walker couldn’t make buckets on a consistent basis as he shot 5-of-14, but he was able to rack up eight assists.
  • Shavlik Randolph never showed anything overly outstanding, but the journeyman big secured a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds in a victory for Washington against a less-than-stellar Grizzlies’ frontline. The rest of the starting lineup wasn’t quite able to play up to his level, however, as Bradley Beal, Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack finished with a victory despite making just 15 of their 46 shot attempts.
  • E’Twaun Moore had 25 points and seven rebounds while Dionte Christmas had 18 points on an efficient 6-of-11 shooting performance, but it might’ve been Jamar Smith who did the most for his future. The former D-Leaguer made 3-of-6 from downtown to finish with 11 points off the bench.
  • The Denver Nuggets picked up their first Summer League victory with an 85-81 victory over the New York Knicks. Second-year pro Kenneth Faried hustled like he was playing for a roster spot on his way to 16 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and two steals while fellow former rookie Jordan Hamilton scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a pretty efficient manner. Rookie Evan Fournier also was pretty impressive on his way to 14 points and a couple of 3s while Derwin Kitchen rounded out the Nuggets’ standouts with 14 points and six assists as he attempts to earn an NBA training camp invite.
  • The Chicago Bulls were the last team to play in Vegas and, unfortunately, their first game ended with a loss. Jimmy Butler, last year’s first round pick, had a team-high 25 points while former D-League standout Malcolm Thomas posted a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
  • The Knicks didn’t have many bright spots, but Chris Copeland and Wesley Witherspoon both played pretty well once again. Copeland scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds while showing the ability to put the ball on the floor while a summary of Witherspoon’s afternoon can be found here.
  • The game between the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers was ended early following a head injury to Nolan Smith, but the players missed less than a minute to fill up the box score as that was the time remaining on the game clock. Houston was able to pick up the victory behind an excellent game from Terrence Jones (24 points, 12 rebounds) while fellow NBA rookies Jeremy Lamb and Donatas Motiejunas contributed 23 and 20 points respectively. Royce White nearly had a triple-double — and picked up the ever-elusive Summer League technical foul — with six points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and six turnovers.
  • Smith had been leading the Blazers with 27 points, five rebounds and five assists as part of a stellar backcourt performance for the Blazers. Rookie Damian Lillard scored 27 points himself as he connected on five of his 10 3-point attempts, though the sixth overall pick did have seven turnovers.
  • The San Antonio Spurs handed the Los Angeles Lakers their fourth consecutive loss in the Thomas & Mack’s first game as Spurs rotation player Kawhi Leonard exploded for 27 points and eight rebounds. Last year’s other first round pick — Cory Joseph — also played well with 18 points and five assists.
  • The Lakers were led by Darius Morris as he finished with 24 points while going a perfect 9-of-9 from the field (in between a lot of over-dribbling). Former UCLA player Reeves Nelson also played well with five points, three rebounds and a block while finishing +13 in the +/- department.
  • The Cleveland Cavaliers blew out the Phoenix Suns as Samardo Samuels scored 17 points and grabbed five rebounds off the bench in a very efficient 22 minutes. Fourth overall pick Dion Waiters scored 16 points, but struggled in the efficiency department once again as he missed 10 shots from the field.
  • Markieff Morris scored 24 points and grabbed an insane 17 rebounds in the loss for the Suns as he simply couldn’t make up for the lack of scoring Kendall Marshall didn’t provide. The rookie out of North Carolina was on the court for 28 minutes, but missed his only shot attempts while contributing five assists.
  • The Timberwolves got a solid showing out of Wesley Johnson with 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting — though he missed a potential game-typing 3-pointer on the team’s penultimate possession — and second-year player Derrick Williams played well, but it seemed like veteran free agent Coby Karl was one of the better players on the court despite having to match up with Kemba Walker. The son of Nuggets coach George Karl had just three points on 1-of-2 shooting, but contributed seven assists and six rebounds.

The action has now reached a mid-point heading into Wednesday morning’s games.

Doc Rivers says Paul George will be out for the first 10 games

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We are expecting not to see Paul George on the court with Kawhi Leonard in a Los Angeles Clippers uniform until November. But until this week, we didn’t have a good idea about when George could return over the course of the next month.

Speaking to reporters this week, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers let it slip that George could miss up to the first 10 games of the regular season. That would put George at a tentative return date of Nov. 13 against the Houston Rockets.

Via Twitter:

The Clippers are still expected to be one of the best teams in the NBA, and the real question heading into the first several weeks of the season will be how much they allow Leonard to sit out due to load management if George is not on the floor.

The real question in Los Angeles — on both sides of the hall at Staples Center — will be about health, and the Clippers know that it’s not how you start the season but how you finish. It seems likely they will wait until George is fully ready to return to action rather than rushing him back from dual shoulder surgery.

Kyle Kuzma reportedly cancelled plans to announce Chinese sponsorships

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Tensions are still high between the NBA and China, and both sides are hoping that things return to normal soon. Whether that’s possible is another thing altogether, particularly with how raw the response to the NBA has been by domestic fans concerned with the NBA sticking to its stated principles with regard to social justice.

This has affected not just the league, but players too. James Harden and Russell Westbrook were involved in an incident where an official shut down a legitimate question by a CNN reporter. Now it’s being reported that Los Angeles Lakers big man that Kyle Kuzma decided not to announce sponsorship deals with Chinese companies during his team’s visit to the continent this month.

Via Bill Oram:

Kuzma’s plans to announce additional sponsorship deals with Chinese companies were scrapped once the Lakers arrived on Tuesday and found themselves caught in the middle of a stalemate between the NBA and the Chinese government.

The whole story of what it was like to cover the trip in China as an American is worth reading by Oram. It’s an interesting look at the collision of politics, business, and the perception of sports as separate from those spheres.

Meanwhile, players and their management teams will need to think more carefully about the social perception of business deals both at home and abroad.

Facilitator Kawhi Leonard in Clippers opener could be glimpse into season

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This story is part of our NBCSports.com’s 2019-20 NBA season preview coverage. Every day between now and when the season opens Oct. 22 we will have at least one story focused on the upcoming season and the biggest questions heading into it. In addition, there will be podcasts, video and more. Come back every day and get ready for a wide-open NBA season.

LOS ANGELES — You could see the impact almost immediately.

In his first minutes in a Los Angeles Clippers uniform last Thursday against Denver, Kawhi Lenoard drained a 14-foot midrange shot, stole a Gary Harris pass and turned that into a step-back three-pointer. Five points and a steal, all in 21 seconds.

More importantly for the Clippers, you could hear the impact almost immediately, too.

Leonard was talking a lot on defense, directing players and making his presence heard. That has been the case in team practices as well, according to people with the Clippers.

“He’s more verbal than you would ever know,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s more demanding in a very positive way. You have to do it right. I love that for our team.”

Questions abound about how Leonard — and Paul George, when he returns at some point likely in November — will fit in with an established Clippers roster and culture this season. The Clippers on paper may be title favorites, but how all those pieces come together remains one of the potential turning points of this NBA season.

The cultural fit seems smooth.

Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell brought an intense, hard-working, tough-to-play-against ethos to Los Angeles — but Leonard and George are lunchpail guys at heart. The Clippers’ new editions may be top five (certainly top eight) NBA talents, but they came into the league seen as “3&D” guys with some potential. They worked their way to the top, and that works for the Clippers.

On the court — at least in the slightly more than 10 minutes he played against Denver — the roster fit also seemed smooth.

Leonard had seven points on 3-of-6 shooting, but what stood out were the six assists. Leonard played a facilitator role. The first bucket of the game was a Leonard drive-and-kick to JaMychal Green in the corner, who hit the three. Leonard’s other assists were mostly to bigs Ivica Zubac and Harrell cutting to the basket.

Doc Rivers’ plan is to let Leonard feel how other teams are going to guard him, them adapt.

“Some teams will try to guard him one-on-one and he’ll probably try to score,” Rivers said. “Some teams, like Denver today, was up doubling him a lot, and he’ll be a facilitator…

“That’s what Kawhi does, it’s not like we’re recreating anything here. He’s a smart player. We’re going to try and keep as much shooting out with him, so teams can’t help. We will try to keep one roller on the floor with him, so that guy’s going down the middle of the paint and he’s creating help. We don’t have to make it that difficult.”

“He found me every time I was open,” Zubac said. “I really like playing with him.”

This was not by direct design so much as Leonard taking what the defense gave him.

“It just happened naturally,” Leonard said. “For the most part I cause a lot of attention, and I’m going to pass it to the open man. They was knocking down the shots tonight.”

We will see more of “facilitator Leonard” this season, and facilitator George as well. That Rivers wants to keep shooters on the court around his stars speaks to what a vital role Green and second-year guard Landry Shamet will play in Los Angeles — they are going to get opportunities and have to make the defense pay. (Shamet had 11 points against Denver and was 2-of-5 from three.)

Then off the bench, Los Angeles rolls out the best pick-and-roll combo in the league right now, Lou Williams and Harrell. Those two drove the Clippers offense last season, which is why both finished in the top three in Sixth Man of the Year voting, but this season there will be less pressure on them. They may not even close games, even though Williams is one of the better end-game bucket getters in the league.

The Clippers are that deep with talent.

Leonard showed already how he just makes the game easier for that talent. Zubac setting picks for Leonard and rolling, with shooters on the floor, is not going to be easy to stop — and that’s without George in the mix yet.

It’s more than the Xs and Os, however, Leonard and his rings just bring a gravitas to the Clippers they needed.

“He has a presence about him when he is on the floor, just feels a little different, how he carries himself, how he plays,” Shamet said.

That presence could carry the Clippers franchise to places it has never been before. It’s the impact the Clippers are ultimately hoping to see.

Cavaliers visit owner Dan Gilbert, recovering from stroke

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CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers visited team owner Dan Gilbert, who is recovering at home after suffering a stroke in May.

After playing an exhibition game in Detroit on Friday night, the Cavs delayed their trip to Boston so they could spend time Saturday with the 57-year-old Gilbert.

He recently returned to his home in Franklin, Michigan, after staying at a rehabilitation facility in Illinois. Gilbert suffered a stroke on May 26 after being taken to a hospital by a family friend following stroke-like experiencing symptoms.

All of Cleveland’s players, along with first-year coach John Beilein and his staff, held a film session and short walk-through on a replica basketball court Gilbert has at his home before having lunch. Gilbert and his wife, Jennifer, spoke with many of the players.

The Cavs play their third preseason game Sunday against the Celtics.

Gilbert has owned Cleveland’s franchise since 2005.=