Jordan Crawford could start over Bradley Beal for Wizards

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Bradley Beal looked like a guy who had potential at Summer League, but a guy who needs some work (he shot 30 percent from three, for example).

Last season, Jordan Crawford looked like an NBA player who started 32 games last year and scored 14.7 points a game the season before.

Beal may be the future next to John Wall in the Wizard’s backcourt, but Crawford is the now. Wizards’ coach Randy Wittman said as much at his pre-training camp press conference Wednesday, as reported by Michael Lee at the Washington Post.

“Obviously Jordan has been here, had got a little bit of an advantage right now. . . . I always think guys that know what to expect have a little bit of an advantage moving in. The guys that have been here especially after I took over as the head coach I think have an understanding of the dos and don’ts on what I want not only as an individual but as a team.”

I like Beal, I think he’s going to play a long time in this league. But the No. 3 pick may not be in the starting lineup opening night.

Wittman talked about a couple other interesting things. He says the Wizards are going to run more this year (they were 9th fastest in the league last year). Via CSNWashington.com.

“We are going to play an up-tempo style and go inside out,” Wittman said… “I ain’t going to invent a new offensive or defensive system that nobody’s ever seen that will brand me the next genius,” Wittman said coyly.

With the talent they have they should run more. Flip Saunders said the same thing the past few years in Washington — frankly every coach says they are going to run more as teams head into camp. They say it like politicians say they want to talk about the issues — everyone promises it but nobody does it. So I want to see it in practice before I buy in. But they should do it.

For now, I get starting Crawford. Beal has to earn that spot. By the end of the season Beal may well do that, but for now it makes sense to start Crawford.

Rumor: Bulls’ belief in Zach LaVine waning

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Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.

But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.

LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.

This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.

The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.

Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.

LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.

PBT Extra: Grading the top of the NBA Draft

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The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.

But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?

How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?

In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).

 

Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.