22 teams confirmed for NBA Summer League in Las Vegas

4 Comments

Summer League is a chance to check out both young players and those on the fringe who are trying to make a name for themselves and earn a job on an NBA roster. Besides, it’s not like you’re doing anything else related to professional basketball from July 12th through the 22nd.

Even though we still haven’t started the NBA Finals, things move quickly from an offseason standpoint as soon as the league’s champion is crowned. We have the draft in late June, followed by the beginning of free agency in early July. And Summer League, after all of that, opens not much more six weeks from now.

The league has confirmed 22 teams as participants in this year’s event, and most of the rest not in attendance in Las Vegas will be involved in the version that takes place in Orlando on a much smaller scale.

The official release reminds us that seven of the last eight winners of the Rookie of the Year award have participated in Summer League —  Chris Paul (New Orleans, 2005-06), Brandon Roy (Portland, 2006-07), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City, 2007-08), Tyreke Evans (Sacramento, 2009-10), Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers, 2010-11), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland, 2011-12) and Damian Lillard (Portland, 2012-13).

The full list of this year’s teams, along with the years each club has participated, is listed below. An asterisk indicates a team that made this year’s playoffs.

Atlanta Hawks (2010-12)*

Charlotte Bobcats (2008, 2012)

Chicago Bulls (2005, 2009-12)*

Cleveland Cavaliers (2004-12)

Dallas Mavericks (2005-12)

Denver Nuggets (2004-12)*

Golden State Warriors (2005-12)*

L.A. Clippers (2005-12)*

L.A. Lakers (2007-12)*

Memphis Grizzlies (2007-12)*

Miami Heat (2010-12)*

Milwaukee Bucks (2007-12)*

Minnesota Timberwolves (2006-12)

NBA D-League Select (2009-12)

New Orleans Pelicans (2005-12)

New York Knicks (2005-12)*

Phoenix Suns (2004-12)

Portland Trail Blazers (2005-12)

Sacramento Kings (2005-12)

San Antonio Spurs (2007-12)*

Toronto Raptors (2008-12)

Washington Wizards (2004-12)

76ers coach Brett Brown says he doesn’t expect rookie Zhaire Smith to play in NBA this season

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons.

Zhaire Smith?

A few recent 76ers first-round picks missed their entire first professional season due to injury. Smith, the No. 16 pick in last year’s draft could join them.

Smith has missed the entire season so far with a broken foot then allergic reaction. He just returned to practicing with the 76ers, but maybe not in time to play for them this season.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

If the 76ers clinch their playoff seed before the regular season ends, I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith plays for them. But meaningful minutes seem unlikely.

Philadelphia is trying to win now, and a rookie who entered the NBA relatively raw then missed so much time is unlikely to help.

That said, backup wings James Ennis and Jonathon Simmons aren’t exactly reliable options. If everything breaks right for Smith – essentially the opposite of his season to date – maybe, just maybe, he plays for the 76ers this season.

Warriors vs. Bucks or Raptors betting favorite to be NBA Finals matchup

Getty Images
2 Comments

Who will we see in the NBA Finals come June?

The West looks cut and dried — if the Warriors are healthy, it’s hard to imagine any other team in that conference giving them too much trouble.

The East? That’s wide open. A good case can be made for Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia, or Milwaukee finding their way in. (For a more detailed breakdown, listen to the latest PBT Podcast where Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports and myself break down the East in more detail.)

The bookmakers over at BetOnline put together these odds on potential Finals matchups, and after the first four options the odds get pretty long.

Milwaukee Bucks vs Golden State Warriors 9/2
Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors 9/2
Boston Celtics vs Golden State Warriors 5/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Golden State Warriors 5/1
Indiana Pacers vs Golden State Warriors 28/1
Brooklyn Nets vs Golden State Warriors 33/1
Boston Celtics vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Milwaukee Bucks vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Toronto Raptors vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Charlotte Hornets vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Detroit Pistons vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Miami Heat vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Orlando Magic vs Golden State Warriors 66/1
Washington Wizards vs Golden State Warriors 66/1
Boston Celtics vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Milwaukee Bucks vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Toronto Raptors vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1

A few quick thoughts on that list:

• Interesting that the Sixers and Celtics are just a little behind the Bucks and Raptors in the minds of the bookmakers.

• I don’t know that I’d have Houston in front of Oklahoma City as the second-best option in the West. Not this season. The Thunder have the defense and star power to do playoff damage.

• If you’re thinking about putting money on Washington or Orlando to make the Finals — against anyone — just donate that money to charity instead. That way it will do some good.

Likely No. 1 pick Zion Williamson leaves Duke-North Carolina game with knee injury

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
9 Comments

Zion Williamson will probably be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

He’s a generationally good prospect. The rest of this draft also looks relatively weak.

In fact, Williamson has such a stranglehold on the top pick, some have suggested he sit out the rest of his freshman season.

His injury during Duke’s game against North Carolina tonight will only heighten those calls.

Duke:

Hopefully, Williamson is OK.

And hopefully, the system changes. The NCAA is a cartel in which schools conspire to cap compensation for athletes at a scholarship plus some expenses. In a free market, Williamson would earn far more.

Unfortunately, it probably can’t be both. If Williamson escapes this without major injury, the status quo will likely endure.

But, if this injury even allows him to play again this season, it might be a warning shot that causes him to sit until he can enter the NBA draft.

Again, I hope he’s healthy enough to make that decision for himself.

Jayson Tatum guarantees Celtics will win 2019 NBA championship

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
6 Comments

Friday morning, Jayson Tatum guaranteed the U.S. team would beat the World team in the Rising Stars game that night. The U.S. team won.

So, Tatum was asked Saturday morning whether he wanted to guarantee anything for that night. He guaranteed he’d win the Skills Challenge. He won.

So, then ESPN’s Rachel Nichols asked Tatum whether he wants to guarantee anything else. And he really let it ride.

Tatum:

We’re going to win the Finals this year. February 16th, mark it. Jayson Tatum says we’re going to win the Finals this year.

Obviously, Tatum wasn’t going to pick against Boston. But this wasn’t that. He could have easily avoided such a grand proclamation.

Instead, even if he were just caught up in the emotion of an All-Star Saturday Night victory and taking the interview especially seriously, Tatum put a little more attention and pressure on the Celtics.

I’m not convinced that’s what this team needs.