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Tristan Thompson good with move to bench, will try to be Sixth Man of Year

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Did you see the look on Carmelo Anthony‘s reaction when an Oklahoma City reporter broached the idea of him coming off the bench?

That’s the reaction of most NBA players. They give lip service to doing whatever is best for the team, or wanting to be on the floor at the end of games more than the start, but at the end of the day they desperately want to start.

Which is what makes Tristan Thompson‘s move to the bench in Cleveland different β€” he’s good with it. Tyronn Lue is making the right move starting Kevin Love at the five and Jae Crowder at the four, and Thompson willingly accepted his move to the bench. From Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“Tristan has been a big part of what we do. I hated having that conversation, but it was great,” Lue said. “He was phenomenal. That’s what it’s all about. You hate having those conversations, but he was great. He was like, ‘Man, whatever you need me to do, Coach. I’ll just go for Sixth Man of the Year. I understand what’s going on.’ … When you have those talks, usually they don’t go that good. But he was great about it.”

“I’m going to go for Sixth Man of the Year, put myself in position to do that,” Thompson said after the scrimmage. “Just play hard, though. I’m not going to look too much into it, but if you’re going to come off the bench, might as well have a little goal — and I feel like with the second unit we have and the energy that I bring off the bench, I’ll put myself in pretty good position. Especially when you win.”

That’s professionalism. Sure, it helps that Thompson is going to get paid the rest of that five-year, $82 million contract whether he starts or not, but a lot of players still would have whined and pushed back (or, passively aggressively pushed back) against what they saw as a demotion.

With Kyrie Irving gone to Boston and Isaiah Thomas not playing until January, the changes to the front line were needed in Cleveland to get offense and spacing. The team needed shooting and passing around LeBron James and Derrick Rose (the primary ball handlers), and this lineup gives them that. J.R. Smith will be part of that starting lineup too, he has becomeΒ a quality catch-and-shoot guy. Then the bench will have Dwyane Wade creating shots, with guys like Jeff Green and eventually Rose (once Thomas returns), and that unit will need the hard picks and the grinding, dirty work that Thompson provides. The Cavaliers lineups are better this way.

It’s just easier now that Thompson accepted it.

USA Basketball to host World Cup qualifier vs. Uruguay on Sept. 14 in Las Vegas

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (AP) β€” USA Basketball’s quest to qualify for next year’s FIBA World Cup will resume Sept. 14 in Las Vegas, where the Americans will face Uruguay.

That will be the first U.S. game in the second qualifying round for next year’s world championships in China.

Like the first round, the U.S. will continue being coached by Jeff Van Gundy and will have a roster made up primarily of G League players. The Americans went 5-1 in the first round.

The U.S. and Uruguay are among 12 teams from the Americas zone vying for seven World Cup spots. The others are Argentina, Panama, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, Canada, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The United States is a heavy favorite to qualify, then will send NBA players to China for the World Championships (there is a workout for some of those players coming up in Las Vegas in a week).

Second-round qualifying ends in late February. The World Cup begins in August 2019.

Mavericks sign second-round pick Jalen Brunson to first-rounder style contract

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Dallas is excited about the potential of Jalen Brunson.

The point guard who led Villanova to a national championship last April fell to the 33rd pick in the draft last June, high in the second round, and Dallas traded up a spot to get him from Atlanta. The Mavericks were ecstatic, and to the surprise of nobody they have reached terms on a contract with him.

What is a bit of a surprise is the Mavericks gave him a first-rounder style contract β€” four years with some guaranteed money for the first three of them β€” reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

At Summer League in Las Vegas Brunson showed the qualities that Dallas liked in him β€” he’s a high IQ player with polish, and he’s a pass-first floor general β€” but his weaknesses were also exposed. He has to shoot better (23 percent in Summer League) and his defense needs to improve.

Both of those can happen, Summer League is more of a chance for teams to benchmark players than make decisions about them. Brunson reportedly has a great work ethic, he can figure the NBA game out.

Dallas is betting that he will.

Kemba Walker: “As far as seeing me in New York, I doubt it”

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Kemba Walker is an All-Star level point guard who is heading into a contract season β€” he is a free agent in 2019. Walker is also a New York native, born in the Bronx he attended Rice High School in Harlem.

Combine all that with the fact both the Knicks and Nets will have enough cap space for a max (or more than one max) contract next summer, and you’ve got yourself a rumor.

One Walker shot down talking to Michael Scotto of The Athletic.

β€œAs far as seeing me in New York, I doubt it,” Walker replied. β€œI’m a Hornet, and I’m planning on being a Hornet for a long time, so, yeah, I’m not sure about that (New York).”

Walker has said many times he wants to stay in Charlotte (providing they pay the market rate and are trying to compete).

That said, this is the NBA, so never say never.

A lot of NBA teams have been poised, waiting to see if new Hornets’ GM Mitch Kupchak β€” with the approval of Michael Jordan β€” decided to go full rebuild and trade Walker this summer. He has not, talking only about keeping this squad together. The Hornets are a solid team with Walker and Nicolas Batum leading the way, one that could make the playoffs in the East if things break right for new coach James Borrego. However, they will not be anywhere near contenders and if things don’t fall their way they may well miss the playoffs next season. Again. The Hornets also are not a bad team, meaning they are not going to get a high pick (without some lottery luck). They are stuck in the NBA’s middle ground, a place most GMs want to avoid.

Trading Walker could jump-start the rebuild in Charlotte, but the Hornets don’t seem to be going that direction. Yet. This summer they signed Tony Parker, Malik Monk looked good in Summer League, and they got Dwight Howard out of the locker room. They say they are a team poised to make a playoff push.

If that push falls apart early in Charlotte, watch and see if their plans change. And what that could mean for Walker. And the Knicks.

However, as of now, Walker wants to remain a Hornet, and they want to keep him. Which crowds New York out of the picture.

 

Report: Philadelphia tried to recruit Daryl Morey as new GM, was rebuffed

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The analytics movement is not dead in Philadelphia.

The Sixers are still searching for a new general manager to replace Bryan Colangelo (who had to resign in the wake of a Twitter scandal), and the rumors have always been about the big guns. David Griffin, the former Cleveland GM inexplicably let go by that franchise, is a name that kept coming up.

But the home of “The Process” wanted to jump back into the analytics waters and try to land the Rockets’ Dayrl Morey, the face of the NBA’s analytics movement. That was shot down, reports Marc Stein of the New York Times.

The Sixers are swinging for the fences right now β€” they met with LeBron James in free agency, they have tried to get in on the Kawhi Leonard trade sweepstakes, they wanted to meet with Paul George β€” and landing Morey fits in that mold. Philadelphia already has Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in house, and feels they are on the verge of contention for years, but that they need one more piece. Morey is not that piece, but the guy who traded for James Harden and Chris Paul in Houston could get someone to come to Philly.

Morey is happy in Houston, however, and he’s staying put.

Instead, the Sixers search will continue. In the interim, coach Brett Brown is filling in a dual role (and doing a solid job, but with the recent run of struggles for teams that had a coach filling both positions it’s unlikely they keep this arrangement long term).