Watch Suns’ Deandre Ayton score 10 points in NBA Summer League debut

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Deandre Ayton pointed to the rim, asking for a lob. The pass came from Shaquille Harrison, and Ayton snared it in his right hand before slamming down a dunk.

And thousands of Phoenix Suns fans roared.

In that one moment, they saw a glimpse of what their team’s future may look like. The No. 1 pick in this year’s draft made his debut at the NBA Summer League on Friday night, and he walked off a winner as the Suns topped the Dallas Mavericks 92-85.

Ayton played 22 minutes, scoring 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting, with the alley-oop in the opening minutes being his first basket. He also grabbed eight rebounds, blocked a shot and committed five fouls.

“A lot of energy,” Ayton said, when asked for the takeaway from his first NBA game – albeit just of the summer variety. “I could feel the energy around.”

Davon Reed and Mikal Bridges made things easy for Ayton and the Suns, each shooting 4 for 5 from 3-point range. Reed led the Suns with 18 points, while Bridges added 14.

“They showed up,” Ayton said. “Some of these guys, they’re vets, they execute plays. They’re loud, vocal,” Ayton said. “I felt very comfortable.”

Jalen Jones scored 16 points and Dennis Smith Jr. added 14 for Dallas (0-1). Luka Doncic did not play for Dallas, as he still awaits his clearance from his Real Madrid deal – which has to arrive before he can sign his contract with the Mavericks.

“I’m just excited to be here,” Doncic told ESPN in an in-game televised interview.

 

DeAndre Jordan reportedly agrees to one-year contract with Mavericks

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They mean it this time. It’s going to happen.

DeAndre Jordan is going to be a Dallas Maverick. No team meetings or chairs on doors will get in the way this time.

Jordan himself has sort of confirmed via emoji.

As noted, this is not a surprise, the two sides have been working toward this for weeks.

This works for both sides. Jordan is the kind of big the Mavs have wanted — one of best rim protectors on defense in the league. On offense, he’s a rim runner who is strong when paired with a strong pick-and-roll ball handler and Dallas has Dennis Smith Jr. and now Luka Doncic. This could be something that really fits and Dallas looks like a playoff threat in the West.

For Jordan, he gets to raise his stock, then hit the free agent market again next year.

Report: DeAndre Jordan to opt-out of Clippers contract; Mavericks to pursue

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The Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks had negotiated for days, but they couldn’t work out a trade for DeAndre Jordan that worked for both sides.

So Jordan is going to opt out of the $24.1 million final year of his contract with the Clippers and become a free agent. Dallas is going to try to sign him to a deal (this time it will go better than a couple of years ago). All of that according to multiple reports.

Jordan may end up taking a little less next season than the $24.1 million he was going to make to get the security of multiple years considering he will turn 30 before next season. It will be interesting to see how many years the Mavericks are willing to offer.

Jordan is a good fit for Dallas at the five spot. He is one of the top paint/rim-protecting bigs in the league, giving the Mavericks a defensive anchor. On offense, he sets a strong screen and is a rim runner with the best of them, but he needs to be paired with a quality point guard/ball handler to take advantage of that. The young core of Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic fit that bill.

If Jordan reaches a deal with the Mavericks not long after July 1, that’s trouble for DeMarcus Cousins, Julius Randle, and any other big that Dallas was eyeing. Those guys now have much less leverage to get other deals, particularly Cousins who now seems most likely to be back in New Orleans.

Ben Simmons wins NBA Rookie of the Year

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It was a real debate.

Donovan Mitchell came out of nowhere to lead the Utah Jazz to the playoffs. Jayson Tatum came out strong, then reminded everyone during the playoffs (which was after the voting) how well he fit what Boston was doing.

But in the end, Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers won the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

Simmons brought a real all-around game: 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game, plus he played excellent defense. He looked every bit the future All-NBA player, and he was racking up rookie triple-doubles like he was Magic Johnson.

Simmons had 90 of the 101 first-place votes cast by select media members. Donovan Mitchell came in second and had the other 11 first-place votes. After that, it was Jayson Tatum, Kyle Kuzma, and Dennis Smith Jr. receiving votes.

NBA Draft Winners, Losers: Big nights for Phoenix, Dallas

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Let’s start with the obvious — this whole story is a fool’s errand. It really takes about three years to accurately assess who are the winners and losers in the NBA draft. Guys we thought were locks will turn out to be pretty pedestrian, guys we wrote off as projects down the board will impress. In three years, we’ll have a real sense of which teams read this draft well and nailed it.

But we don’t live in that world.

So here are my projections on the real winners and losers Thursday night in Brooklyn, starting with the guys who didn’t screw up the No. 1 pick.

 

Suns small icon Winner: Phoenix Suns.

It isn’t just that they didn’t screw up the top pick and landed in DeAndre Ayton, the guy most likely to be a franchise cornerstone star in this class. Although they did that. Also, it was their move later to trade their pick at No. 16 (Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith) for Mikal Bridges — most likely the best “3&D” prospect in this draft (it cost them a future first via Miami). By the time everyone was trying to get an Uber outside Barclays Center the Suns had put together a starting lineup of Devin Booker, Bridges, Josh Jackson, and Ayton (plus a point guard to be named later). That’s a group worth watching — and they hired Igor Kokoskov as their new coach this summer because he’s strong on player development. It’s the start of something.

Phoenix also drafted French point guard Elie Okobo at 31 in the second round when a lot of teams thought of him as a first-round talent. Another smart move.

Loser: Michael Porter Jr.

A couple of weeks ago, Porter was mentioned as a potential No. 2 selection to the Kings. But after teams got a look at his medical reports from last Friday’s workout — remember, he missed all but three games at Missouri following back surgery — they backed off. Reports about his attitude didn’t help. Porter slid all the way down to Denver at 14. What that means to him besides getting to play at altitude in Denver: The No. 2 pick is slotted for a $7.3 million salary next season, the No. 14 makes less than $3 million. We’ll see if Porter can use this as motivation — and stay healthy.

One winner in this: The Denver Nuggets for grabbing him at 14. That is a good team (they just missed the playoffs) with strong players already where Porter can be brought along slowly without unreasonable expectations.

Mavericks small icon Winner: Dallas Mavericks.

Mark Cuban and company traded up from No. 5 to No. 3 and landed Luka Doncic — the player they had highest rated on the board. This is a win for the Mavs and for Doncic because he lands with a brilliant Xs and Os coach in Rick Carlisle who will put him in positions to succeed, plus Doncic gets mentored by Dirk Nowitzki. This pick also is a strong move because he should pair well with young point guard Dennis Smith Jr. — Doncic can run the pick-and-roll at times with Smith cutting and moving off the ball, and in the reverse Doncic has a good catch-and-shoot game. Dallas has options for playmaking now.

Also, nice second-round pickup of Villanova point guard Jalen Brunson. That’s a high IQ player who can step in as a reserve and help immediately.

Loser: Robert Williams.

The Texas A&M big man has the talent of a late lottery pick — the Clippers met with him a couple of times — but concerns about his attitude and work ethic saw him plummet all the way down the board to 27. Will he use this as motivation to play with a high motor all the time, or will he continue to coast? If he brings it, he could be the steal of this draft. That brings us to…

Celtics small iconWinner: Boston Celtics (because they got Robert Williams).

This was an Oceans 9 level robbery (that’s the next movie, right?) for Danny Ainge this late in the first round. At No. 27 you’re usually just hoping to get a guy who can develop into a role player in a few years. Williams is much more than that, he has the tools to be an elite NBA defender, and in college he was a defensive and rebounding force. In the NBA he’s going to be a rim running big, ala DeAndre Jordan — except Jordan fulfilled his potential. It’s up to Boston to get that out of Williams (and it’s up to Williams himself to work), but if they do this was another brilliant Ainge pick.

Loser: Golden State Warriors.

They tried to buy into the second round as they did a year ago and pick up someone who fits their style — and this year they had $5.1 million to do it (more than the $3.5 million a year ago). However, other GMs remember how much heat the Bulls front office took for selling their pick to Golden State last year and watching the Warriors draft Jordan Bell — Mr. “cash considerations” was playing a role in the NBA Finals. No GM wanted to repeat that mistake. No early second-round pick for the Warriors this year.

However, their first-round pick of Jacob Evans was a good one, he’s the kind of versatile wing player who fits into their rotation.

Winner: Puma.

The German soccer cleat maker shoe and apparel company wanted to get back into the basketball game, and the did it with a splash — their guys Ayton and Bagley went No. 1 and 2. That’s going to be a lot of free publicity and a lot of eyes on their players starting in Summer League and beyond. The company also landed guys with real potential in Michael Porter Jr. and Zhaire Smith.

Oh, and they hired Jay-Z as well. That’s a good week whatever else happens.

Winner: NBA Twitter

The guys in suits up the executive food chain tried to put an end to Woj bombs this year — ESPN was trying to clamp down on their news breakers Tweeting out the picks before they happened (as had been the case for a few years, with Twitter often two or three picks ahead of Adam Silver and the broadcast). Other major news breakers (such as Yahoo’s Shams Charania) agreed to play along. We all thought we would have to wait around for Adam Silver to saunter up to the table.

But if there is one thing NBA Twitter has taught us it’s that it will not be contained. It breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously. NBA Twitter, uh… finds a way.

Before long Twitter picks were leaking and Twitter was a pick ahead of the broadcast again, and Adrian Wojnarowski was dropping bombs, cleverly not saying who the pick was but….

NBA Twitter is the best.