CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James scored 31 points and finished a month averaging a triple-double for the first time in his career, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 129-123 on Tuesday night.
James had 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his 12th triple-double of the season and 67th of his career. He also reached 8,000 assists and became the first player in NBA history to reach that milestone, along with 30,000 points and 8,000 rebounds.
Rodney Hood‘s three-point play with 40 seconds remaining gave Cleveland a 123-121 lead. James and George Hill hit two free throws each in the final 16 seconds to seal the win.
Hood hit a jumper from the wing and made the foul shot that gave Cleveland a two-point lead. D'Angelo Russell attempted to draw a foul but barely got off a wild shot from the corner, which led to James’ foul shots.
LeBron reflects on becoming the only player in #NBA history to reach 30,000 points, 8,000 rebounds, and 8,000 assists: "It's pretty cool." pic.twitter.com/qWuDlAecm5
The win could also help Cleveland position in the NBA draft. The Cavaliers own Brooklyn’s No. 1 pick, acquired in a trade with Boston. The Nets have the seventh-worst record in the league, but have lost nine of 10.
James took an elbow under the jaw from Dante Cunningham in the third quarter. He was down for several seconds but timeout was called and he remained in the game.
James also became the first frontcourt player and the 11th overall in league history to reach 8,000 assists.
Hill, one of four players acquired at the trade deadline, scored a season-high 26 points and Cleveland placed six in double figures.
Brooklyn broke an eight-game losing streak Monday by beating Chicago.
LEBRON VS. THE NCAA
James took a strong stance on the NCAA in light of the FBI’s investigation into recruiting in college basketball.
“The NCAA is corrupt, we know that,” he said. “Sorry, it’s going to make headlines, but it’s corrupt.”
James was drafted by the Cavaliers out of high school in 2003. He laughed when asked about some of the offers he received in recruiting, but didn’t give details.
“Listen, man. I can’t even talk about that,” he said. “Me and my mom was poor, I’ll tell you that, and they expected me to step foot on a college campus and not to go to the NBA? We weren’t going to be poor for long, I’ll tell you that.”
James would like to see the NBA expand the G-League into a farm system, an idea he wants to discuss with commissioner Adam Silver.
Cavaliers: F Jeff Green (sore lower back) missed his first game of the season. He played in the first 59 games, all off the bench. Green is averaging 10.6 points. … Lakers G Isaiah Thomas said the Cavs were in “panic mode” when they traded him before the deadline. Asked for a reaction, Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue joked “I’m panicking now.”
Nets: LeVert (right knee) and F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (right groin) saw action for the second straight game after returning from injuries. . Broooklyn began a five-game, 10-day road trip that ends on March 8 in Charlotte.
Nets: Visit Sacramento on Thursday
Cavaliers: Host Philadelphia on Thursday.
Report: Kings get Ben McLemore back in trade with Grizzlies
Since the NBA instituted a four-year rookie scale for first-rounders in 1998, just 22 top-10 picks spent their entire rookie-scale contract with their original team then left that team in free agency.
Many stayed on their first team long-term. Others got traded while teams were still intrigued by the talent that got the player drafted so high in the first place. Some were signed-and-traded, the threat of restricted free agency giving teams one last chance to recoup value from a high pick.
There’s a certain stagnancy with a player’s development and a team’s decision-making when a team drafts someone high, holds him for his entire rookie-scale contract then just watches him leave in his first free agency.
Former No. 2 pick Jabari Parker is an atypical example of that rare situation, as he was picked especially high before the Bucks let his value drain until he signed with the Bulls last week.
The Kings drafted him No. 7 in 2013, and his production oscillated between degrees of poor. Sacramento explored trading him numerous times, but never pulled the trigger. The Kings didn’t even extend him a qualifying offer last summer, and he signed with the Grizzlies.
It was a failure of development by McLemore and foresight by Sacramento. The Kings clearly just never figured what to do with McLemore – which makes this trade, oh, so special.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Sacramento is finalizing a trade to send forward Garrett Temple to Memphis for Ben McLemore, Deyonta Davis and cash, league sources tell ESPN.
To be fair to the Kings, maybe this isn’t about McLemore at all. He could just be a salary for matching purposes, the player receiving it completely irrelevant.
All three traded players are on expiring contracts. All three are overpaid based on their production. Temple is the best and highest-paid player in the deal. Davis and McLemore have better chances of helping Sacramento win meaningfully.
The Kings, generously, have minimal chance of winning a satisfactorily next season. Temple wasn’t going to change that, and at 32, he had little chance of helping once Sacramento was ready.
McLemore is a longshot to ever become an effective rotation player, but he has the requisite size and athleticism for an NBA shooting guard, and he’s not old at age 25. The 21-year-old Davis is far more intriguing as a bouncy center, but he must make major strides in effort and awareness.
Even as low-odds bets, Davis and McLemore offer more to Sacramento than Temple did. The second-rounder and cash only improve the Kings’ return.
Temple is the biggest winner of the trade. He opted in for $8 million next season, even though that meant committing to the lowly Kings. But now he gets his money and gets to join a better team. He might even start at shooting guard in Memphis. Temple is a fine player and an upgrade for the wing-hungry Grizzlies. But he’s also 32 and showed slippage last year. Memphis hopes a change in scenery will solve that and it wasn’t simply aging.
Bjelica rebounded with the 76ers, agreeing to take the $4,449,000 room exception for one year.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Free agent forward Nemanja Bjelica — who had agreed to a one-year deal with the 76ers — informed the team on Monday that he will stay in Europe this season, league sources tell ESPN. He never signed his contract with Philadelphia.
DeAndre Jordan 2.0? Maybe. We don’t know exactly what, if any, contingencies Bjelica and Philadelphia put on the agreement.
A key distinction: Jordan pledged to sign with the Mavericks and reneged all during the July moratorium, when he couldn’t officially sign. Bjelica’s deal with Philadelphia came out a day before the moratorium ended, and he could have signed during the last 11 days.
Teams often delay signing players with the room exception, because they can exceed the cap with it. But the 76ers have long used up their cap space. Unless they have a bigger deal in mind and asked Bjelica to wait just in case, they should have known for a while something might be amiss.
Bjelica is better than any remaining unrestricted free agent, so he won’t be easily replaced. Philadelphia will probably hold its room exception for potential buyout players, as it’s unclear anyone available could command more than a minimum salary.
Bjelica’s defection will also help, though not solve, the 76ers’ roster crunch. They still have 16 players clearly getting standard contracts – one more than the regular-season limit – and 2017 second-round Jonah Bolden has stated a plan to sign with Philadelphia for next season. So, the 76ers might have to buy out Jerryd Bayless and/or waive players like Justin Anderson and Furkan Korkmaz.
Report: Before trading Jeremy Lin to Hawks, Nets were concerned about his readiness for season
there was internal concern about whether he would have been ready for the start of camp
The Hawks had a right to give Lin a physical before finalizing the trade. Every indication is they did and he passed.
So, maybe Brooklyn was overly worried. Or maybe Atlanta looked past concerns to acquire a name player. We’ll probably never know. Sometimes, players with sound bills of health get hurt. Sometimes, players with medical red flags don’t. The outcome for Lin next season won’t necessarily prove anything.
The prevailing opinion is the Hawks acquired Lin as an attention-grabber. They already have their point guard of the future in Trae Young, and Dennis Schroder – who’s firmly on the trade block – could have easily handled remaining minutes at the position. Atlanta could have used its cap space to gain extra picks in a salary dump with the Nuggets, but instead allowed the Nets to make that trade by taking Lin off their hands.
It isn’t necessarily the “wrong” move. I would have rather gotten the picks, but I’m not the one who makes money on Hawks ticket sales and TV ratings. I get the appeal of Lin.
But that works only if he stays healthy.
At least the other element of making Lin the draw – that he isn’t good enough to undermine tanking – would hold up if he gets hurt.
As Summer League ends, what are teams taking away from Las Vegas?
LAS VEGAS — Knicks fans were lined up out the door, literally overflowing the Cox Arena on the UNLV campus to get a glimpse of Kevin Knox, who averaged 21.3 points per game at Summer League and suddenly was seen as the newest star on Broadway — the perfect pairing for Kristaps Porzingis.
As Summer League has grown over the years — all 30 NBA teams were represented in Las Vegas, every game was televised nationally — so has the importance of these July exhibitions in the minds of fans.
But what do teams — their coaches, scouts, and GMs — take away from Las Vegas?
“It’s just benchmarks for the guys,” new Hawks’ coach Lloyd Pierce told NBC Sports in Las Vegas. “I got bear cubs right now. I saw Omari (Spellman) at Villanova, but I hadn’t touched him. I saw Trae (Young) at Oklahoma, but I hadn’t touched him. Kevin (Huerter) I still haven’t touched (hand surgery).
“So we have a couple areas with Trae, and we have a couple areas with John Collins and a couple areas with Tyler Dorsey where we say, ‘you know what, I know what we need to work on.’ More will come, but at least I have a starting point, and we can have a conversation now.”
That conversation is about how much more work needs to be done.
Summer League has become big business for the NBA, it’s marketed and put on a bigger stage, and with that it’s natural that Summer League games have grown in importance in the eyes of fans (and media). But for teams, the purpose hasn’t changed since the games were an almost forgotten part of the NBA season at the Pyramid on the Long Beach State campus.
Multiple NBA coaches and executives told NBC Sports is just the first post-draft step in evaluation, and where a player is on the scale right now is not nearly as important as where he goes from here. Those decision makers know that 90 percent of the players in Las Vegas will not even be invited to an NBA training camp, then combine that with limited practices and there is only so much big-picture evaluation that can take place.
“I don’t get wrapped up into the rookies, as far as being discouraged with what you see here,” said Bobby Marks, former assistant general manager with the Brooklyn Nets and current ESPN analyst. “I think I’m more discouraged if I have a second- or third-year player who does not play well here…
“You take gradual steps. You look at where you were when you first get to Vegas, where they were at the end of June or early July, then you see where they are in the middle of July.”
A lot of the evaluation from teams is not in those televised Las Vegas games, but rather on the practice court.
“The first thing is you evaluate how coachable they are, because you don’t have a lot of time, but there’s a few things you emphasize just to see if they do it,” said Utah Jazz Summer League coach Alex Jensen. “Summer League is one of those things where they are always trying to showcase themselves, so sometimes it’s not the easiest thing to do, but we want to see how coachable they are.”
For those first-round and high second-round picks, it’s also a chance to put players in NBA situations. For example, Portland Summer League coach Jim Moran said they run a lot of the same sets in Las Vegas they will run come the fall, with the goal of getting guys like Gary Trent Jr. or Anfernee Simons shots they will see come the games that matter.
“We’re trying to put them in situations they’ll be put in the regular season,” Moran said. “So whether it be defensively having our bigs switch out on smaller guys, or learning how to move and keep smaller guys in front of them, or offensively just getting them a feel for where their shots are going to come from in certain plays, we want to see it.”
For a first-round pick such as Portland’s Simons or the Knicks’ Knox or Atlanta’s Young, Summer League is a showcase. Every first-round pick has a guaranteed NBA contract — they are going to get paid come the fall. That’s not to say they don’t play hard or take it seriously, but no matter what happens in Las Vegas they will be on a roster come October.
The real business of Summer League is second-round picks, undrafted players, and guys coming back from playing overseas trying to get noticed — by NBA teams, ideally, but at least by European scouts who can land them good paying gigs playing basketball. It’s an on-court job application for almost everyone in uniform. NBA staffs are taking notes on these guys, as well.
“Second-rounders, undrafted guys, guys you might sign to two-ways, guys you might need to call up on a two way, because you don’t really know,” ESPN’s Marks said of who he watched closely at Summer League in his executive days. “There could be guys who were playing in Europe last year, or maybe from lower level schools and you didn’t bring them in for a workout, there’s a newness to this. So I think it benefits them more than your first round picks.”
Put in a good showing and guys can find their way onto a roster — Trevon Bluiett out of Xavier averaged 18.3 points per game for the Pelicans, and they signed him to a two-way contract. A handful of other guys did the same, or will get training camp invites out of Las Vegas.
Because of that those guys are hustling — say what you want about the glorified pick-up game nature of Summer League play, guys go hard because paychecks are on the line.
However, for bigger name, higher drafted players, performance in Las Vegas matters more to fans than it does the franchise.
“There are takeaways, it gives you a baseline for the rest of the summer,” Marks said.
And that’s just the first step. By Halloween, all these games will be a distant memory.