Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.
• That photo you see to the right (courtesy The Big Lead) is from a recent episode of Family Feud, where they surveyed the audience with the question “Who is the second best NBA player of all time?” This assumes that Michael Jordan is the best ever, which is the conventional wisdom but certainly up for debate, but we’ll let that part go. Shaq? When focused certainly he was one of the top centers the game has ever seen, he’s racked up rings and accolades, but second best ever? Kobe Bryant ahead of Magic Johnson? Well, it is the Family Feud audience, so as with any survey it really depends on the demographic you ask the question to… these are not hoop fans.
• Along those lines, often when this comes up I like to stick up for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar needing to be in the GOAT conversation and rarely getting mentioned. Maybe it was because he was not friendly to the press. Maybe it’s because we often picture him with the Showtime Lakers teams at the end of his career when he was good but not quite the same player. Maybe it’s because when he was at his peak he was in Milwaukee. Maybe it’s because he’s 7’2″ and fundamentally sound so the game looked easy for him, not like he spent countless hours in the gym to make it look that way. Anyway, the resume again is six NBA titles, six time MVP, two time Finals MVP, more points scored than anyone in the history of the NBA, most indefensible single shot in the history of the game, and 20 time NBA All-Star.
• A Celtics assistant coach is going to run in the Boston Marathon this year, which will be a powerful and emotional experience.
• A fantastic look by Zach Harper of what the Timberwolves have to do to win close games (they are 0-10 in games decided by 5 points or less).
• LeBron’s marketing firm to represent Johnny Manziel.
• Add Jeremy Lin to the list of people who hate “hack-a-Howard” or hacking anyone else.
• Look for Carlos Delfino to return to the Bucks lineup before the All-Star break.
• It costs more than you think to take care of Kobe’s bald head.
• Finally, from SB Nation a graphic look at how rough Anthony Bennett’s rookie season has been, using PER as a measure.
Tacko Fall was arguably the most popular player at Las Vegas Summer League (especially since Zion Williamson only played nine minutes). Fans chanted for him to get in games and then chanted “M-V-P” once he was in. Fall averaged 7.2 points a game on 77 percent shooting at Summer League and every play he made became a viral highlight.
But that was Summer League.
Now things are getting real and Fall is trying to make the Celtics’ roster. Fall signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Celtics, which is essentially a training camp invite.
It’s a longshot Fall makes the Celtics’ regular season roster for two reasons. First, Fall needs a lot more development to be NBA ready, both physically and in terms of understanding and reacting to the game and how fast it moves. That was evident in Las Vegas. Second, the Celtics have Enes Kanter starting at center with Daniel Theis and Robert Williams behind him, it’s unlikely they keep a fourth traditional center on the roster. Both of Boston’s two-way contracts are already filled.
If the Celtics cut Fall and he signs with Boston’s G-League affiliate the Maine Red Claws, Fall gets a $50,000 bonus.
However, Fall’s agent Justin Haynes says if Boston cuts Fall he believes another team will sign him, something Haynes told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.
“If the Celtics release him, I don’t think he goes unclaimed,” said Haynes, Fall’s agent. “I think somebody will take a shot on him because he’s done enough to show he can find a place in the NBA. I’m really hopeful that it’s Boston. I hope they find a way, and they do have a vision for him.”
I could see another team giving Fall one of their two-way contracts, but he needs a lot more development and time on the court. He needs time in the G-League. Maybe a team gives him a roster spot and develops him there, but that seems unlikely. Fall has the potential to be an NBA player, but it’s going to take a lot of work for him to get there.
Work that this year likely will take place in the G-League.
This is where you insert your “if one more player drops from USA Basketball” joke…
Team USA has flown to Australia for a series of FIBA World Cup tuneup games — two against Australia, one against Canada — and they are practicing there for a few days prior to those games. At one of those practices, USA (and Spurs) coach Gregg Popovich showed off a little behind-the-back dribble and midrange game, and Donovan Mitchell caught it on his camera and posted it.
Just as a reminder, Pop did play. Never in the NBA, but he was one of the last cuts of the 1972 USA Olympic team.
That said, I think the coaching gig worked out pretty well for him.
Team USA will play Australia on Aug. 22 and 24, then face Canada on Aug. 26. From there the USA flies to China where its first game is Sept. 1 against the Czech Republic.
Trae Young. John Collins. Kevin Huerter. De’Andre Hunter. Cam Reddish.
The Atlanta Hawks have quietly built one of the more intriguing young teams in the NBA the past couple of years, trading up and down in the draft to compile a young roster with a lot of potential. They moved on from Mike Budenholzer (he landed on his feet just fine, thanks) and brought in player development specialist in Llyod Pierce as coach. All that has yet to translate to a lot of wins, but it will — the trajectory of the Hawks is going to take off like a rocket.
Travis Schlenk, the Hawks general manager and architect of all of it, earned the contract extension and new title he was given, something announced by the team on Monday. Schlenk is now Atlanta’s President of Basketball Operations and General Manager.
“We are extremely pleased with the direction that Travis and our entire basketball operations team has us heading as a franchise. He has used the draft to build an impressive young core, hired one of the NBA’s top young coaches in Lloyd Pierce and positioned us to have the cap space, draft picks and financial flexibility needed to have long-term success in the NBA,” Hawks Principal Owner Tony Ressler said in a statement announcing the move.
Schlenk had been an assistant GM in Golden State before coming to Atlanta, and also had spent time in the Miami and Orlando organizations. He’s been in the NBA front office game for a couple of decades.
This is a smart decision by the Hawks. When things are going well, when you have good people in place, keep them there and get ownership out of the way. Let the basketball people do their jobs. Atlanta has figured that out.
The Hawks won 24 games during Schlenk’s first year and 29 last season, but expect that number to jump as the young talent on this roster continues to mature and get added to.
WASHINGTON (AP) Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry is helping Howard University launch a Division I golf program.
The Golden State Warriors star guard and the school announced the six-year partnership Monday.
The specifics of his contribution were not disclosed.
Howard officials say they plan to have women’s and men’s golf teams for the 2020-21 academic year.
The school had a Division II golf program in the past, along with intercollegiate and intramural club teams.
The 31-year-old Curry, who has won three NBA championships with the Warriors, says he decided to get involved after meeting a Howard student who had been trying to get the university to have a golf team.
Curry says “it’s tough” to hear about students “who have the talent but don’t have a fair shot at the game.”