Associated Press

Notes from Tuesday at Summer League: Trey Lyles is earning minutes in Utah

3 Comments

LAS VEGAS — There’s so much constant action going on at NBA Summer League you can’t take it all in (sort of like Vegas itself). Let me dump my notebook from my first day watching games at UNLV.

• Utah is pretty deep at the four now — Derrick Favors will start, Boris Diaw will be behind him.

And then there is Trey Lyles. He played well for Utah when Favors was hurt last season — he became a pretty good stretch four who gave the Jazz needed floor spacing — and now has been playing very well at Summer League. He dropped 30 points on 20 shots against Portland Tuesday, hitting 5-of-7 from three.

He’s earning minutes in the fall. The only question is where they come from.

“You see a kid that at Kentucky played mostly the wing, and he’s playing the four,” Jazz Summer League coach Mike Wells said. “He’s more comfortable for us, and he’s in the position where he has the ball at the top of the key a lot, so he can make the reads and make the play. He’s settling into that role, and his shot has come a long way. During the season he started making the corner threes, now he’s making threes from the top.”

“I’m more confident in my abilities to play freely and have confidence in the shots I’m taking,” Lyles said.

Lyles has been the focal point of the Utah offense in Las Vegas (and in the Rocky Mountain Review hosted by the Jazz before) and they are putting him intentionally in position where he has to make plays — and fail occasionally, just to learn.

“I’ll take Trey Lyles at the top of the key in Summer League,” Wells said. “It’s a chance for him to be in that position where he’s got to make a play…. He’s had a fantastic summer for the most part, with the games that he played, he’s played really well.”

Will that translate to minutes once the NBA season starts is the real question.

• The end of the Utah/Portland game and included an intentionally-missed free throw tipped in by Lyles to send the game to double overtime. And in Summer League double OT is sudden death, and Portland’s Pat Connaughton wasn’t going to miss. You just need to watch it.

• New Orlean’s Cheick Diallo, the second round pick out of Kansas who barely saw the court for the Jayhawks, is showing he is farther along than expected in Vegas. He’s averaged 9.3 points and 8.3 rebounds a game through three games.

“He was a little antsy tonight, he got away from the things he was doing in the first two games…” Pelicans Summer League coach Robert Pack said after Diallo’s 2-of-8 shooting performance late Monday night. “In the first two games he was really doing the things he’s going to be doing well in the regular season.”

• I had high hopes for Noah Vonleh coming out of college, but after watching him I don’t see the development and growth anyone had hoped for.

• As you would expect, Chicago’s Bobby Portis has looked good. He’s going to be a quality NBA player for a long time.

• San Antonio’s Jonathon Simmons nutmegged a defender on the way to the rim.

• Ronde Hollis-Jefferson is not the guy the Nets will got to when then need to create late-game opportunities during the season, his handles aren’t there yet. As evidence, watch the finals seconds of the Nets loss to the Wizards Tuesday.

Rudy Gobert was at Summer League and was so enthralled he played some Pokemon Go.

Jazz reportedly extend contract of coach Quin Snyder, locking him down well into future

Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Quin Snyder has evolved into one of the best coaches in the NBA (and my pick to win Coach of the Year this season). He’s built a development program and system in Utah that has turned Rudy Gobert into a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Donovan Mitchell into the face of a franchise, and Joe Ingles into a guy other teams covet. His players like and respect Snyder, and he has worked well with the front office of Dennis Lindsey and Justin Zanik.

So the Jazz are locking him up with a contract extension beyond the two seasons remaining on his deal. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news.

Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder has agreed to a long-term contract extension, league sources tell ESPN. Snyder had two years left on his deal, and a new contract extends multiple years beyond that term, sources said.

After upgrading the team’s talent base over the summer, locking Snyder into an extension had been a top organizational priority.

Jazz fans should be ecstatic about this.

Snyder has built a system team in Utah, one that moves the ball beautifully on offense, and that has been tough to defend in the regular season, with the Jazz winning 50 games last season. Utah has made it to the second round of the playoffs the past two seasons, but when the level of play made that leap a lot of the system gets taken away by good defenses, and the Utah offense became Donovan Mitchell against the world. It didn’t work, Mitchell (still just 22) wasn’t fully ready and there was not enough shooting around him.

This past summer, the Jazz added Mike Conley at point guard and Bojan Bogdanovic on the wing, two excellent shooters who also can create off the dribble. Expectations are high in Utah.

Whatever happens, Snyder is their coach now for a long time.

Giannis Antetokounmpo says he learned from Kawhi Leonard: “He was calm”

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Milwaukee was up 2-0 in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals on Toronto, having won those games by an average of 15 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo had scored 54 points, pulled down 31 rebounds, dished out 11 assists, and was looking every bit the MVP.

Then the games shifted to Toronto, Kawhi Leonard took over — including guarding Antetokounmpo more — and the Raptors rattled off four straight wins to take the series on their way to the NBA title. The Greek Freak still averaged 20.4 points a night in those final four games, but the buckets were much harder to come by.

Milwaukee returns this season as the Eastern Conference favorites and legit title contenders, in part because of what they learned from that loss. Antetokounmpo told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports he learned a lot directly from Leonard in that series.

“I learned a lot from him,” Antetokounmpo said. “He knocked down free throws. He was calm. When double-teams came, he was swinging the ball but getting it right back. He was aggressive. He was calm but he was on a mission.”

Leonard is the living embodiment of the old John Wooden axiom “be quick, don’t hurry.” He’s not rushed, he’s rarely forced into shots he doesn’t want to take or plays he doesn’t want to make.  That’s true of all champions on some level. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan all bring an inner calm.

If Antetokounmpo brings that to his game, the Bucks are one big step closer to a title.

Domantas Sabonis on trade rumors: ‘I know exactly how the Pacers feel about me now’

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
1 Comment

The Indiana Pacers have started to explore the trade market for Domantas Sabonis. There are logical reasons for this: Sabonis is good (he was second in Sixth Man of the Year voting last season), yet he and the Pacers are nowhere near agreement on a contract extension, and the Pacers already paid big money for Myles Turner to be their center, how much do they want to pay Sabonis, too?

That’s sound logic if you’re in the Pacers’ front office.

If you’re Sabonis, it can feel like a slap in the face to a guy who put in a lot of sweat and passion for the franchise. That’s what Sabonis sounded like in this quote, via Scott Agnes of The Athletic.

The Pacers are not talking about the report, which started with the well connected and reliable Sam Amick at The Athletic.

Pacers’ brass needs to talk about this with Sabonis (and likely already have, behind closed doors). If the Pacers trade him, it’s likely not until after Dec. 15 at the earliest (when most players signed this summer can be included in a deal) and probably closer to the February trade deadline. That’s a lot of season to play out, and Sabonis remains a vital part of the Indiana rotation.

There is likely to be a lot of interest in Sabonis on the market. However, because he’s a center (a position teams are careful not to overspend on in today’s market) and in the last year of his rookie deal — meaning he becomes a restricted free agent next summer and gets more expensive — teams are not going to overpay for him. Right now the Pacers are asking for too much and interested teams are lowballing their offers. The sides will meet in the middle.

That middle could shift if Sabonis has a rough start to the season. Both sides need him to play well and feel comfortable, whatever is going on with the business side of his contract.

Raptors, Pascal Siakam reportedly agree to four-year, $129.9 million max contract extension

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
2 Comments

Pascal Siakam is going to be the face of the Toronto Raptors going forward.

This was expected. Toronto was never going to let its young star slip away; the only questions were when it a contract extension got done and the price.

The answers came Saturday, with the Raptors and Siakam’s agents reaching terms on what will be a four-year, $129.9 million max extension for the reigning Most Improved Player. Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN broke the news.

There are no player or team options, this is a straight four years.

Last season, his third in the league, Siakam made a huge leap. He averaged 16.9 points and 6.9 rebounds a game, shot 36.9 percent from three, took on a larger role as a shot creator, played impressive wing defense, and was a key part of the Raptors winning the first title in franchise history. He is at the heart of their future and a guy the Raptors wanted to keep through whatever rebuilding/retooling process comes in the next few years.

The Raptors could have played it out, and let Siakam go to restricted free agency next summer. However, in what will be a down free agent market, some team would have tried to poach the young wing — a real position of need around the league — with a max offer. The Raptors would have matched, but all that drama might have created bad blood. Maybe the Raptors overpaid a little, but they get to keep their guy and have him happy.

Siakam is the third player to get a max extension to their rookie contract this summer. Both Ben Simmons (Philadelphia) and Jamal Murray (Denver) signed five-year, $170 million max extensions. Siakam decided to take one year fewer, but also hits free agency again a little earlier.