Monday Summer League Notes: Another rough night for Ben McLemore

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LAS VEGAS — There is a whole lot going on in Las Vegas… and we’re not just talking about the TAO nightclub. It’s Summer League and here is stuff from my notebook today (well, if I had a notebook, more stuff from my MacBook Air really)….

• The scouting report is out — Golden State overplayed Sacramento Kings rookie Ben McLemore’s right hand, shifted their defense on him and dared him to try and go left. He didn’t, even when he went left he tried to pull it back and move right to get his shot. The result was a 4-of-12 shooting night for the No. 7 pick.

“I don’t feel like they were,” McLemore said of the effort to push him left. “They was just trying to stop me from shooting. That’s what most teams going to do, so when I see that I’m going to drive to the hole, get into the lane, get to the line.”

When McLemore tried to drive the need to improve his handles showed — he lost the ball a couple times, once getting away with a carry before he was stripped in the pant. But Warriors coach Mike Malone wants him to keep driving.

“That was one of the things they said about him coming out of Kansas, that right now he’s a straight-line driver but he doesn’t have the great ability to break his man down off the dribble so along with his shot selection we’re going to work on his handle,” Malone said….

“He has to realize… that if your jump shot’s not going sometimes drive the ball, get to the foul line, get an easy one, see that ball go through the net and that will help you out for your next one.”

• Shabazz Muhammad is not shy on the court — he wants the rock every time down, his hands are up constantly asking for the ball. He’s got a scorer’s mentality and he works really hard off the ball to get open — these are good things. Clearly someone on the Minnesota staff talked to him about passing more so he was trying hard to show he can dish, which led to a few forced attempts, but he was trying.

• Andrew Goudelock had another big scoring night for the Bulls — 31 points on 10-of-13 shooting, 5-of-6 from three. He was made for Summer League.

• Otto Porter was held out of the Wizards practice and scrimmage against the Raptors with a tight hamstring. Nothing serious, but the Wizards are not taking any precautions.

Cassell said he is going to continue to experiment with Porter in the rotation in Summer League, because they are trying to see what kind of player they really have.

“(Tuesday) I might play him at the point some,” Cassell said, and nobody is sure if he is joking or not. “I’m telling you we just want to see, we want to see what he can do, see what he brings to our ball club. I tried him at the four a little bit the other day, I might play him at the four (Tuesday). We got to see what he can do and what he can’t do.”

• It was nice to see Robbie Hummel’s play well — 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting. The Timberwolves have his rights and he’s playing for them in Vegas (he was in Europe last season). He has bounced back from three major knee surgeries and looks like he could be a rotation player. He plays hard, knocks down looks and stays within himself.

• One guy turning a few heads is Wizards point guard Marquez Haynes, who played in Germany last year. He’s played well and a few teams are interested in at least inviting him to training camp.

• The Lakers look like a D’Antoni team even in Summer League — Robert Sacre in the paint and four shooters to space the floor around him. By the way, Sacre is the only guy on this Lakers SL team that will be on the team this fall (they picked up his option for next season).

• Gorgui Deng could lead the league in per minute foul rate next season. He’s a foul sponge.

• Here is Wizards Summer League coach Sam Cassell talking about Jan Vesely through a couple games (and some practices):

“Vesely can play the four or the five. I think he’s been solid but I’m expecting more…. His offense is getting a little bit better, but unfortunately you’ve got to play both ends of the court. He’s got to make the adjustments. He ain’t playing bad, but being his third year he’s got to play better. I’m expecting a little bit more.”

• Kendall Marshall struggled in the first half but during the Suns’ second half comeback he played solid ball. That’s an improvement from last season. Which should help his trade value.

• Also for the Suns, both Morris twins got a technical in the same game Monday. Their mother must be proud.

• Timberwolves Summer Leaguer Luke Sikma is a dead ringer for his father.

Suns’ GM says there is “overwhelming likelihood” team keeps No. 1 pick

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It takes a rare kind of courage, an extraordinary level of organizational backing, and a special kind of draft to do what Danny Ainge did a year ago trading the No. 1 pick. While a consensus had formed around Markelle Fultz as the best player in the draft, Ainge was a Jayson Tatum guy. Doubts about the top pick are common, but that alone is far from enough to trade that pick away — most GMs don’t have the job security to know if they miss on moving the pick and sliding down they will not be let go. Ainge had that, and he had his confidence in his scouting, so he made the move to trade the No. 1 pick to Philadelphia. (While it looks good now for Ainge, it’s too early to judge how that pick plays out — Fultz has barely played, we don’t know what extra pick the Celtics will get out of this, it takes time to fully judge these kinds of moves.)

This year is different. DeAndre Ayton is more of a clear No. 1, a guy with franchise changing potential. Plus Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough may not be standing on the kind of bedrock that allows for the trade of a No. 1 pick.

Recently McDonough said he’d listen to trade offers for the pick. That’s very different from trading it, as Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic had the GM saying Friday.

Because they should do their due diligence, the Suns will look at Luka Doncic (who does have a relationship with new coach Igor Kokoskov) and Marvin Bagley III, among others. Rumors may leak, spun by agents or other teams. However, at the end of the day, good luck finding anyone around the league who thinks Phoenix will not take Ayton — who attended college in Arizona — to be the inside to Devin Booker‘s outside. It’s the smart play.

Kokoskov and the Suns have a lot of work to do to build a foundation for success with this franchise. However, that almost never starts by trading away the top pick in the draft.

Rumor: Paul George’s agent telling people client will re-sign with Thunder

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That rumor Paul George will leave the Thunder?

How about the exact opposite?

Dean Blevins of News 9:

Allegedly, apparently, Paul George plans to stay with the Thunder. I know. It’s not what people believe. But in separate conversations, I’m told P.G.’s agent has told people associated with the NBA that P.G. believes the injury loss of Andre Roberson was huge and he’s staying. Disclaimer, though: Believing everything that agents allegedly say can be dangerous to your health.

This, by Blevins’ own admission, isn’t the staunchest reporting. Nonetheless, I appreciate him sharing and contextualizing it. We can evaluate it for what it’s worth.

George is known to share his plans – though the previous example was him planning to sign with the Lakers. And he might have really believed it at the time, when he was still with the Pacers.

But throughout the season, George seemingly went out of his way to profess his affection for Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder. That only raised expectations in Oklahoma City of George staying, and if he leaves after doing that, he’d be inviting even more backlash. I think he’s smart enough to understand that, which is why I thought he made those especially strong pro-Thunder comments only after deciding he’d likely stay.

On the other hand, even if my assessment was correct, conditions change. The Jazz brutally exposed Oklahoma City’s flaws, and if George re-signs and Anthony opts in, the Thunder will have minimal cap flexibility to upgrade the roster. In fact, they might take a step back with the supporting cast to keep the luxury-tax bill manageable. George could see free agency as his chance to escape that mess.

Roberson was a huge loss, and if George is focused on that, that would bode well for Oklahoma City. Though Roberson was just a role player, he was pivotal to the Thunder’s defense. And his teammates had learned how to play around his offensive shortcomings. Oklahoma City didn’t have any good replacements for him on the roster. Roberson getting healthy is the clearest way for the Thunder to improve next season.

Of course, that’s predicated on George returning, too. Will he?

One last note of caution: People often believe what they want to hear. It’s easy to see someone in Oklahoma City hearing George bemoan the loss of Roberson and elevate that to George planning to re-sign, even George wasn’t going that far.

Draymond Green guarantees Warriors will beat Rockets in Western Conference finals

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr is confident despite his team trailing the Rockets 3-2 in the Western Conference finals.

Golden State forward Draymond Green goes further.

Green, via Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic:

“We still winning this,” Draymond Green said. “Book it.”

Of course, Green is confident. He’d never say he expects his team to lose.

But he didn’t need to frame it this way. He could’ve said he was just focused on the next game rather than make such a bold proclamation.

He’s taking pressure upon himself and putting his reputation on the line. If Golden State loses, especially in Game 6 at home with Chris Paul out, Green will be widely mocked.

If he and the Warriors pull through, he’ll probably deserve praise for setting a tone that helped them advance.

Danny Green: Kawhi Leonard told me he wants to stay with Spurs

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The Spurs are reportedly worried Kawhi Leonard‘s camp wants to get him to the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks or 76ers.

Leonard hasn’t said much himself – except apparently to San Antonio teammate Danny Green

Get Up on ESPN:

Green:

I talk to him here and there, check up on him, see how he’s doing.

I think he wants to be in San Antonio. He’s let me know that. He’s let me know verbally he wanted to be there. So, we’ll see what happens.

Green has tried playing peacemaker throughout this saga – going as far as denying tension that clearly exists. He’s not the most reliable source.

And even if Leonard explicitly told Green he wants to remain in San Antonio, I’m not sure Leonard is confrontational enough to tell Green he wanted out, even if he did.

Those caveats acknowledged, this could be a huge revelation.

If Leonard wants to stay with the Spurs, the next step is meeting with them, mending their relationship and convincing them he deserves a super-max extension (which projects to be worth $219 million over five years). No matter how Leonard feels about San Antonio right now, if the Spurs don’t trust investing so much in him, that could lead to a fractured relationship and his exit.

So, there’s still a lot to sort out. But Green saying this means something.