Clippers officials – including president Lawrence Frank – have attended an unusually high number of Raptors games this season. The rather-transparent plan: Connect with Kawhi Leonard, who’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer and reportedly has an eye for L.A.
The Clippers hosted Toronto last Tuesday, offering their best chance to make an impression.
They didn’t impress during the game, a 24-point Raptors win. And they apparently didn’t make their mark afterward, either.
As Leonard left the arena, he came to a hallway with just Sam Amick of The Athletic and Frank. As Amick tells it, Amick and Leonard shook hands then the star forward walked past Frank.
I circled back with Leonard to make sure I read the situation right. Sure enough, as he confirmed, he didn’t know the man who had been standing there when we said hello.
“No, who was it? he asked.
“Lawrence Frank, the head of the Clippers’ front office,” I replied.
“Oh, that was Lawrence Frank?” he said with a smile (and no, to answer the obvious question, he didn’t share one of his legendary laughs).
I don’t believe this. It’s certainly possible Leonard truly doesn’t recognize Frank. But I just don’t believe that to be the case.
Frank was the Pistons’ head coach for three games against Leonard’s Spurs. One of the least athletic NBA head coaches in recent memory, the 5-foot-7 Frank has a fairly memorable appearance in his profession.
People are wary of violating tampering rules. If Leonard might eventually want to join the Clippers, he’s better off not spotlighting his current relationship with Frank. That seems like the more likely explanation.
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.”