Jahlil Okafor vs. Karl-Anthony Towns? Lakers to face Timberwolves on Summer League’s opening day

2 Comments

The NBA Draft is less than two weeks away, and just about every credible mock draft (including ours) has Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns going (in some order) to the Timberwolves and the Lakers with the top two selections.

If things go as expected, it could make for an exciting first day of Summer League action in Las Vegas.

Minnesota will face Los Angeles at 5:30 p.m. local time at the Thomas & Mack center on July 10, as part of a six-game slate on the event’s opening day.

Last summer, Andrew Wiggins faced Jabari Parker under similar circumstances. But the league didn’t anticipate the excitement that would surround the matchup, and scheduled it to take place in the much smaller Cox Pavilion, which created an incredibly fun atmosphere that had the building packed to capacity.

The full Las Vegas Summer League schedule is listed below.

NBA Summer League 2015 Game Schedule

All Times listed are PACIFIC

Friday, July 10

Cox Pavilion

3 p.m. – Milwaukee vs. New Orleans (Game 1)

5 p.m. – Atlanta vs. Denver (Game 3)
7 p.m. – D-League Select vs. Houston (Game 5)

Thomas & Mack

3:30 p.m. – Sacramento vs. Toronto (Game 2)

5:30 p.m. – Minnesota vs. L.A. Lakers (Game 4)
7:30 p.m. – Golden State vs. Cleveland (Game 6)

 

Saturday, July 11 

Cox Pavilion

1 p.m. – New Orleans vs. Dallas (Game 7)

3 p.m. – Washington vs. Phoenix (Game 9)

5 p.m. – Boston vs. Portland (Game 11)

7 p.m. – Brooklyn vs. Cleveland (Game 13) 

Thomas & Mack

1:30 p.m. – New York vs. San Antonio (Game 8)

3:30 p.m. – Chicago vs. Minnesota (Game 10)

5:30 p.m. – L.A. Lakers vs. Philadelphia (Game 12)

7:30 p.m. – Miami vs. Utah (Game 14)

 

Sunday, July 12

Cox Pavilion

1 p.m. – Washington vs. D-League Select (Game 15)

3 p.m. – Chicago vs. Toronto (Game 17)

5 p.m. – Sacramento vs. Denver (Game 19)

7 p.m. – Portland vs. Dallas (Game 21)

 

Thomas & Mack

1:30 p.m. – Phoenix vs. Houston (Game 16)

3:30 p.m. – Milwaukee vs. San Antonio (Game 18)

5:30 p.m. – Golden State vs. Atlanta (Game 20)
7:30 p.m. – Philadelphia vs. Boston (Game 22)

 

Monday, July 13

Cox Pavilion

1 p.m. – Cleveland vs. Milwaukee (Game 23)

3 p.m. – D-League Select vs. Atlanta (Game 25)

5 p.m. – Miami vs. Denver (Game 27)

7 p.m. – Toronto vs. Houston (Game 29)

 

Thomas & Mack

1:30 p.m. – New Orleans vs. Brooklyn (Game 24)

3:30 p.m. – Golden State vs. Sacramento (Game 26)

5:30 p.m. – L.A. Lakers vs. New York (Game 28)

7:30 p.m. – Utah vs. Minnesota (Game 30)

 

Tuesday, July 14

Cox Pavilion

12 p.m. – Portland vs. San Antonio (Game 31)

2 p.m. – Brooklyn vs. Chicago (Game 33)
4 p.m. – Miami vs. Boston (Game 35)

 

Thomas & Mack

12:30 p.m. – Washington vs. Dallas (Game 32)

2:30 p.m. – New York vs. Philadelphia (Game 34)
4:30 p.m. – Phoenix vs. Utah (Game 36)

 

Wednesday, July 15

Cox Pavilion

1 p.m. – #24 Seed vs. #9 Seed (Game 37)

3 p.m. – #22 Seed vs. #11 Seed (Game 39)

5 p.m. – #20 Seed vs. #13 Seed (Game 41)

7 p.m. – #18 Seed vs. #15 Seed (Game 43)

 

Thomas & Mack

1:30 p.m. – #23 Seed vs.  #10 Seed (Game 38)

3:30 p.m. – #21 Seed vs. #12 Seed (Game 40)

5:30 p.m. – #19 Seed vs. #14 Seed (Game 42)

7:30 p.m. – #17 Seed vs. #16 Seed (Game 44)

 

Thursday, July 16

Cox Pavilion

1 p.m. – Winner of Game 37 vs. #8 Seed (Game 45)

3 p.m. – Winner of Game 39 vs. #6 Seed (Game 47)

5 p.m. – Winner of Game 41 vs. #4 Seed (Game 49)

7 p.m. – Winner of Game 43 vs. #2 Seed (Game 51)

 

Thomas & Mack

1:30 p.m. – Winner of Game 38 vs. #7 Seed (Game 46)

3:30 p.m. – Winner of Game 40 vs. #5 Seed (Game 48)

5:30 p.m. – Winner of Game 42 vs. #3 Seed (Game 50)

7:30 p.m. – Winner of Game 44 vs. #1 Seed (Game 52)

 

Friday, July 17

Cox Pavilion

1 p.m. – Game 37 Loser vs. Game 38 Loser (Game 53)

3 p.m. – Game 41 Loser vs. Game 42 Loser (Game 55)

5 p.m. – Game 45 Loser vs. Game 46 Loser (Game 57)

7 p.m. – Game 49 Loser vs. Game 50 Loser (Game 59)

 

Thomas & Mack

1:30 p.m. – Game 39 Loser vs. Game 40 Loser (Game 54)

3:30 p.m. – Game 43 Loser vs. Game 44 Loser (Game 56)

5:30 p.m. – Game 47 Loser vs. Game 48 Loser (Game 58)

7:30 p.m. – Game 51 Loser vs. Game 52 Loser (Game 60)

 

Saturday, July 18

Thomas & Mack

1 p.m. – Game 46 Winner vs. Game 51 Winner (Game 61)

3 p.m. – Game 47 Winner vs. Game 50 Winner (Game 62)

5 p.m. – Game 45 Winner vs. Game 52 Winner (Game 63)

7 p.m. – Game 48 Winner vs. Game 49 Winner (Game 64)

 

Sunday, July 19

Thomas & Mack

3 p.m. – Game 61 Winner vs. Game 62 Winner (Game 65)

5 p.m. – Game 63 Winner vs. Game 64 Winner (Game 66)

 

Monday, July 20

Thomas & Mack

6 p.m. – Game 65 Winner vs. Game 66 Winner (Game 67)

Winners, Losers in Kyrie Irving trade to Dallas Mavericks

Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets
Dustin Satloff/Getty Images
0 Comments

Kyrie Irving tried to force his way out of Brooklyn over the summer, but the market for him was thin and his plan didn’t work. He opted in to stay in Brooklyn.

Irving’s plan did work at the trade deadline — he again demanded a trade and this time, he got his wish and was sent to Dallas to team up with Luka Dončić on the Mavericks. It’s a deal with clear winners and losers, but the cases are muddier for both of the principal teams involved. Let’s break down who won and who lost in this latest Kyrie Irving trade. Let’s start with a reminder of what the trade itself involved.

Mavericks receive: Kyrie Irving, Markieff Morris.

Nets receive: Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, an unprotected 2029 first-round pick, 2027 and 2029 second-round picks.

WINNER: Kyrie Irving

Irving made a brilliant business move demanding a trade before the deadline. His troubles with the Nets going back to the summer stem in part from him not getting the max contract extension he wants — four years, $198.5 million, with no strings. When the Nets weren’t going to give him that extension, Irving forced his way to a new team where he is more likely to get paid (not that it’s close to a lock, the Mavs are reportedly hesitant).

Irving now gets to play next to Dončić, another of the league’s top five players, and is on a team with the potential to contend in a wide-open conference, and he gets a relatively clean slate to prove he is worthy of that massive contract this summer. Irving got what he wanted out of this.

WINNER: Luka Doncic

Luka Dončić was good with this trade — Dallas went to him and got his approval before proceeding with it, reports Marc Stein.

Dončić has been at a historic usage rate this season and was physically wearing down from the load. Dallas desperately needed another shot creator and star next to Dončić to lighten his load. Now, Dallas has that in the guy with maybe the best handles in the league, someone averaging 27.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game and shooting 37.4% from 3.

There are a lot of questions about the fit of Dončić and Irving together — will Irving accept a role as the No.2 option on this team (as he did with Durant most of the time)? How well will Doncic play off the ball? This trade makes the Mavericks’ 23rd-ranked defense worse. And that is just the start. But it’s a move the Mavericks had to make, and now Dončić knows they will do everything they can to land stars to put around him. Which is what he wanted to see.

LOSER: LeBron James and the Lakers

The Dallas Mavericks showed how desperate they were as a franchise with this potentially Faustian trade.

The only team that might have been more desperate? The Lakers. They are squandering an All-NBA level, record-breaking season of a 38-year-old LeBron James, sitting four games below .500 and outside the play-in tournament. LeBron wanted this trade to happen. The Lakers wanted it to happen. Irving wanted it to happen.

Lakers GM Rob Pelinka tried, the problem is the Nets want to retool a contender around Durant immediately — Brooklyn wanted players who can help them win now. That’s not what the Lakers could offer. The Lajers had tempting future picks, but the player at the heart of any offer was Russell Westbrook. The Mavericks could offer more, better players right now plus the picks (there is also a report that Nets owner Joe Tsai didn’t want to send Irving to his preferred destination). Dallas won the day. LeBron’s reaction?

There is no clear path to building a title contender around LeBron and Anthony Davis. Trading for Irving would have been a huge gamble, but that is where the Lakers are now. They have to roll those dice, and they will try again with the next superstar who becomes available.

ASK AGAIN LATER: Brooklyn Nets

There is a case to make the Nets did well in this trade — and maybe even got better by making the roster deeper, and more versatile. They got out of the Kyrie Irving business and don’t have to pay him long-term — if they had made this trade over the summer the conventional wisdom reaction would have been, “good job getting out from under all this.” And the Nets landed a couple of quality players who can help them now in Dinwiddie and Finney-Smith. Brooklyn GM Sean Marks did as well as he could with the situation.

Still, Brooklyn got worse in the short term — any team that trades a superstar does not get equal talent back.

Whether this ultimately is a win or loss for them will hinge on two future moves, or lack of moves:

1) Can the Nets make another trade or two before the deadline? Even with a healthy Durant and what is now a deep and versatile roster, the Nets lack the second high-end star they will need come the postseason (Ben Simmons is not going to be that guy). Brooklyn now has picks and players at its disposal to make more roster upgrades, particularly defensively.

2) Will Kevin Durant stay in Brooklyn, or ask for another trade? Can the Nets keep him happy? Durant didn’t think there was a future in Brooklyn last summer and asked for a trade, but the Nets didn’t really try couldn’t find one to their liking. If the rest of this season goes just okay and the Nets get bounced in the first round, that KD trade request very well could be back on the table, and the Nets could be back to rebuilding, but without their picks to do it.

There is one other disappointment in all this — it looked like the Nets, under Jacque Vaughn, had figured it out. They went 18-2 in the games before Durant got injured. Vaughn had quieted the noise around the team, had them focus on the court, and Brooklyn looked like a real threat in the East. Now that is gone.

ASK AGAIN LATER: Dallas Mavericks

The argument for this being a win for Dallas is it makes them a contender in the wide-open West — they have two superstars who can match any duo in the conference, and have surrounded them with shooting. The Mavericks’ offense should be elite.

The problem in the contender theory is the Mavericks already have the 23rd-ranked defense in the NBA and now have traded away their best defender in Finney-Smith. If the Mavericks are going to fulfill the promise of their offense, they will have to make more trades to upgrade that defense. Reports are the Mavericks are aggressively looking for other moves to bolster that end of the floor.

However, the biggest question for Dallas is the long term — do they want to give Irving the four-year max contract he wants at the end of this season? Marc Stein reported the Mavericks did not promise a new contract to Irving at the end of the year, but you don’t make this trade if you’re not open to it. The Mavericks get a test run through the final third of the season, although Irving will most likely be on his best behavior the next couple of months.

If the Mavericks don’t bring back Irving, they just traded away their two most valuable trade asset players plus a could of high-value picks — Dallas weakened their position to get the next star. Dallas gave up a lot, do they have to pay up now?

WINNERS: Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks

For 20 games when both Irving and Durant were healthy and on the floor — and the distractions quieted down — the Nets looked like a team that could win the East. Now… not so much. The Nets are good, and maybe they have another move or two that returns them to contender status, but that is a long shot. The Nets are a dangerous opponent, but not one the real contenders in the East, the Buck and the Celtics, can beat.

The Philadelphia 76ers are the team the Bucks and Celtics should worry about.

WINNER: Houston Rockets

Remember when Houston traded James Harden to the Nets? The Rockets now control — either outright have or have swap rights — for every Nets first-round pick between now and 2027. Those picks look much more valuable tonight than they did 24 hours ago, and if Durant does ask for a trade and push his way out of Brooklyn this summer then the Rockets could be sitting on a treasure chest. This trade was good news for the Rockets.

LeBron, other NBA players react to Kyrie Irving trade to Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks v Brooklyn Nets
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
0 Comments

Is there going to be a football game of some kind next weekend? You’d never know the way the NBA trade deadline can dominate the headlines.

Kyrie Irving is getting traded to the Mavericks, which has blown up the NBA world — Dallas looks like a threat in the West, and there is a countdown clock over Kevin Durant‘s time in Brooklyn. It wasn’t just fans and pundits stunned by the news, NBA players past and present took to Twitter and social media to react and give their thoughts on the Irving trade. Starting with LeBron James and one of the guys in the trade.

Nets reportedly trade Kyrie Irving to Mavericks for Dinwiddie, Finney-Smith, picks

Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets
Dustin Satloff/Getty Images
0 Comments

Dallas desperately needed a second star and shot creator to go next to Luka Dončić.

They got one — Mark Cuban has always been willing to take risks to win. The question about how long this can last comes later.

The Nets are trading Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, their unprotected 2029 first-round pick their 2027 and 2029 second-round picks, according to multiple reports.

Irving is reportedly “ecstatic” to make the move to Dallas (the hard questions about a future contract will wait until after the season).

Irving reportedly will land in Dallas Monday, take the standard post-trade physical, and could be available for the Mavericks on Wednesday against the Clippers.

Brooklyn had several suitors to choose from but wanted in return players it could slot in around Kevin Durant now (or, once he is healthy and returns) so they could still have a puncher’s chance to win the East. Dinwiddie gives Brooklyn a point guard and shot creator who can play some off the ball — and he returns to Brooklyn, where he made a name for himself in the league. Finney-Smith is a coveted two-way wing who can step in right now. Plus, the Nets add some potentially valuable picks down the line.

That offer gave the Nets more win-now possibilities than they got out of the Lakers’ offer (two future first-rounders and Russell Westbrook) or what the Suns and Clippers put in the mix.

There are questions for Dallas, but ones they believe they can answer — elite talents figure out a way to make it work on the court. Off the court, it helps that both coach Jason Kidd and former Nike executive turned Mavericks GM Nico Harrison have strong relationships with Irving. That’s a start.

The pairing of Dončić and Irving should lead to games and stretches where they look brilliant, but the question is not the highs but the lows — how deep and how prolonged will those be? Irving works well off the ball (as he has done with Durant and LeBron James) and should be able to play off Dončić. However, can Dončić play well off the ball when Irving is hot? Do the Mavericks — with Tim Hardaway Jr., Christian Wood, Maxi Kleber, Reggie Bullock and the rest — have enough around their two stars to be a serious threat in the West? Off the court, can the very different personalities of Irving and Dončić mesh, or at least work well enough not to be a distraction?

The biggest question: Do Cuban and the Mavericks really want to re-sign Irving for the four-years, $198.5 million he demands at the end of the season? There are reports that Dallas (like every other front office in the league, including Brooklyn) is hesitant to do a long-term deal with Irving that gives him that kind of guaranteed money.

But that is a concern for the future — Dallas got its second star. It has vaulted itself into the upper echelons of the Western Conference and positioned itself to contend.

Reports: Stephen Curry out ‘weeks’ with leg injury, Warriors hope for return after All-Star Break

Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
0 Comments

This is bad news for the Warriors. How bad depends on how the word “weeks” is ultimately defined.

Stephen Curry has torn ligaments in his leg — in the shin area just below the knee — and while the team does not have an official timeline he will be out “weeks” reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

“Weeks” is a vague word, and for the Warriors the difference in Curry being out three weeks (with one of those being the All-Star Break) versus him being out six to eight weeks could be the difference in how long a playoff run the Warriors have.

The Warriors are hoping for a Curry return just after the All-Star break, reports Monty Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Of short-term concern, this has Curry out for the All-Star Game where the fans voted him a starter. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will bump one of the reserves up to a starting spot — likely Ja Morant, who was third in fan voting — and name an injury replacement for the team. The top candidates are Devin Booker (if he returns from injury this week as expected), De'Aaron Fox or Anthony Edwards.

Longer term, the Warriors can’t afford to be without Curry for an extended period.

Curry is averaging 27.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists a game, and the Warriors outscore opponents by 5 points per 100 possessions when he is on the court and get outscored by 5.4 when he is off. With the team one game above .500 and struggling to avoid the play-in, an extended absence for Curry is trouble for a Warriors team that has never found its footing this season.