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.

Lakers coach Luke Walton: Rajon Rondo will start over Lonzo Ball to start year

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LaVar Ball said the Lakers are Lonzo Ball‘s team, not LeBron James‘.

Turns out, Lonzo isn’t even the Lakers’ starting point guard.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN on Lakers Talk:

Luke Walton told me today that Rajon Rondo will be the Lakers’ starting point guard to start the year.

It’s unclear whether “to start the year” means to begin training camp or the regular season. Lonzo is not yet ready to fully participate in practice after offseason surgery, so this could be as benign as Rondo working with the starters for now.

Or it could be Walton already making a call for the regular season.

The Lakers signed Rondo to push and teach Lonzo. Those messages would come across more strongly if Rondo starts.

But I’d also be surprised if there’s not a more open competition in training camp. Lonzo deserves a chance to earn the job.

Whatever Walton exactly means, the coach has latitude to run the team as he sees fit.

Report: Kyle Lowry dodging calls and texts from Raptors president Masai Ujiri and coach Nick Nurse

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DeMar DeRozan hasn’t hidden his disdain for Raptors president Masai Ujiri trading him.

How does Kyle Lowry, a close friend of DeRozan still left in Toronto, feel?

Lowry dodged DeRozan questions while at USA Basketball’s minicamp in July. At media day yesterday, Lowry repeatedly gave an iteration of the same answer about his relationship with the Raptors: He’s there to do his job and try to win, just as always.

Josh Lewenberg of TSN:

per league sources, Lowry had also been dodging calls and texts from team officials, including president Masai Ujiri and new head coach Nick Nurse, who Lowry said he only spoke with briefly right after Nurse was promoted in June.

This obviously isn’t the healthiest arrangement. Teams function best with open communication.

But the team president and point guard needn’t talk regularly, especially now. Lowry is locked up for two more seasons. The status quo is fairly locked in for the season.

Lowry and Nurse not speaking would be a pressing issue, but training camp just opened. It’s too soon to assess how Lowry will respond to Nurse.

Ultimately, what Kawhi Leonard said about how the Raptors can appeal to him also applies to Lowry – win. If Toronto wins this season, Lowry will likely get over his issues with the DeRozan trade.

A half-dozen players with especially intriguing contract-year seasons ahead

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After increasing 7%, 11%, 34% and 5% the previous four years, the NBA’s salary cap increased just 3% this year. Plus, teams were already overstocked with highly paid players signed during the 2016 – and, to an extent, 2015 – cap booms.

That meant many players signed one-year deals this offseason, allowing them to hit the market again next summer, when the cap is projected to rise 7% and many players signed in 2015 and 2016 come off the books.

The result is a deep 2019 free-agent class.

Some potential 2019 free agents, like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, are assured max-contract offers. Even Kawhi Leonard, who missed nearly all of last season due to injury, is practically guaranteed of max offers.

But there are many more players with their future compensation in flux. Here are six players with a ton on the line next season:

DeMarcus Cousins

Cousins shocked the league by taking the Warriors’ taxpayer mid-level exception. It’s probably a one-year rental. The highest starting salary Golden State can offer him next summer through Non-Bird Rights is $6,404,400. This year will give him a chance to get healthy, show he can contribute positively to winning and expand his versatility. Cousins isn’t the perfect fit with the Warriors, and some teams are still scared off by his attitude. But, if all goes well this season, Cousins won’t be able to claim no offers next summer.

Isaiah Thomas

Thomas learned the hard way Brinks trucks typically carry an amount near his $2,029,463 minimum salary – not the nine-digit max contract he hoped for. That dream has probably passed, but Thomas can still land a lucrative contract next summer if he thrives with the Nuggets this season. First, that means getting healthy, as his hip injury still lingers. Then, the 5-foot-9 point guard must show he can still get separation and lift to get buckets. And it’d help if he meshes better with his teammates and coaches. It’s amazing how big of a hit Thomas’ value has taken in the last year, but he has proven his determination before. Will he do it again?

D'Angelo Russell

Russell entered last season as a potential franchise player for the Nets. Then, he got outplayed by Spencer Dinwiddie. Russell missed 34 games due to injury and stagnated in his growth while on the court. The shine is off the former No. 2 pick. But Russell is still just 22 and talented, and point guards tend to develop later. He could earn a huge payday, though it’ll require a major breakthrough. He and Brooklyn can technically sign an extension by Oct. 15, but that seems unlikely – especially with Dinwiddie, another pending 2019 free agent, also in the mix. Most likely, Russell becomes a restricted free agent next summer.

Tobias Harris

Harris reportedly rejected a four-year, $80 million extension from the Clippers this summer. That’s a lot of money to turn down, but the upside is there. Harris could be the Clippers’ focal point this season, especially in the starting lineup (which probably won’t include Lou Williams). Harris is just 26 and has the all-around skills and work ethic to cash in. The Clippers are aiming higher, so Harris might have to leave L.A. to get paid.

Trey Burke

The No. 9 pick in 2013, Burke gradually fell out of favor with the Jazz. He got a change of scenery with the Wizards and struggled even more in Washington than he had in Utah. Burke seemingly blamed everyone but himself. He fell out of the league until the Knicks called him up in the middle of last season. Burke flourished in New York, showing the offensive command everyone expected when he declared for the draft out of Michigan. Burke must fend off Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay – more recent and higher picks – at point guard, and the Knicks’ reported top target in 2019 free agency is point Kyrie Irving. But if Burke maintains his play with New York over a full season, he’ll have lucrative options somewhere.

Marcus Morris

Morris signed a four-year, $20 million extension with the Suns in 2014, taking a discount to play with his twin brother, Markieff Morris. Then, Phoenix traded Marcus to the Pistons. Marcus vowed never to let personal relationships get in the away of business again. Now with the Celtics, he’ll have his chance to maximize his earnings next summer. Marcus is a hard-nosed and skilled combo forward in a league where his versatility is increasingly valued. He’ll try to prove his worth on a stacked Boston team that has too many strong pieces to allow any individual to fully fly.

Report: Kings trying to get involved in Jimmy Butler trade by taking bad contracts

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The Timberwolves are reportedly seeking, among other things, “salary-cap relief” in a Jimmy Butler trade. But Butler is on a de facto expiring contract, and Minnesota is already below the luxury-tax line this season. There isn’t significant relief to be gained by dealing just him.

So, that likely means unloading Gorgui Dieng, who’s due $48,687,640 over the next three years, including $15,170,787 this season.

That’s a toxic contract that will be difficult to move. Some potential Butler trade partners don’t have viable expiring contracts to trade for Dieng, and some potential Butler trade partners will flat refuse.

Enter the Kings.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

In recent days, Sacramento has been aggressive in courting Minnesota and several of Butler’s trade suitors — offering to use its space as a landing spot for bloated contracts.

The Kings have about $11 million in cap space (not counting Jamel Artis‘ unguaranteed deal). They also have a few ill-fitting veterans on expiring contracts that could facilitate a trade: Zach Randolph ($11,692,308), Iman Shumpert ($11,011,234) and Kosta Koufos ($8,739,500).

In return for taking bad contracts, Sacramento will seek draft picks and young players. This is the exact type of trade the rebuilding Kings should make. They just must hope Minnesota’s best offer involves them.