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Evolution of Trae Young at Summer League

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LAS VEGAS — Trae Young looked overmatched in his first two Summer League games. No question.

In Salt Lake City, the No. 5 pick and newest face of the Atlanta franchise shot 9-of-36 overall and 2-of-16 from three through two games. The Stephen Curry comparisons, which were always overheated, looked foolish. Young couldn’t create space on his drives, could not find lanes for his passes, and was rushing his shot. Like everyone around the NBA, I wrote about it saying he “laid bricks.” NBA Twitter roasted him. There was a lot of “they wanted this guy instead of Luka Doncic?” comments, and a few hot takers ever threw the “B” word — “bust” — around.

Hawks’ coach Lloyd Pierce saw things differently.

Looking at the big picture, he wasn’t worried about a few missed shots, he knew that would change. Pierce said he thought his rookie point guard was making good decisions, just not executing them. Yet.

“I don’t know if you guys expected that, but I expected that…” Pierce said after Young’s first game in Utah. “I’ve done this 11 years now, you come out for your first Summer League game and everybody thinks it’s going to be a home run, a success. Then you see ‘I’ve got a lot of work to do.’”

By the time the Hawks got to Las Vegas, Trae Young had put in some work and figured out Summer League.

In Las Vegas, Young is averaging 17 points and 7.8 assists per game. He’s still searching for efficiency and taking some poor shots, but he’s creating space, impressing with his passing, and improving. Fast.

Pierce’s big picture outlook seems justified.

“It’s hard to be upset with a player when you don’t know what they know,” Pierce told NBC Sports in Las Vegas about the process with Young. “So I’m giving them a little bit, and now I get to evaluate it, I get to study it, then I get to coach them just a little bit.”

Young has figured out how to make his game work against Summer League competition — but 90 percent of the players in Las Vegas will not be on an NBA roster. Young is going to get a lot of minutes against elite NBA defenders come next season, guys Pierce described as “bigger, stronger” than what Young has seen so far.

Summer League is just the start of the process, a place to benchmark where Young is at.

“So we have a couple areas with Trae… where we say, ‘you know what, I know what we need to work on,’” Pierce said. “More will come, but at least I have a starting point and we can have a conversation now.

“The conversation is, ‘There’s a lot of work to be done.’ For all of us, myself included. And then you got to perform 82 nights, so how do we help you get better? How do we help you understand what you’re going to need at this level? That’s the starting point that we have.

“The conversation is for them to understand, and to hear it from me. I know what we’re trying to get across, I know it’s going to take a while, but we’ve got to start somewhere and that’s what I’m doing with this summer.”

Young’s summer has shown the potential to learn and adapt. That’s a good sign, because while fans can fixate on what a player does at Summer League, what matters to teams is how players improve from July until camp opens. And from there, how they grow over the course of a season until next fall.

Young’s game has evolved over the first two weeks of July. Keep that trend up and he will earn that face-of-the-franchise tag Pierce and the Hawks are counting on. But there’s a lot of work between now and then.

Report: Hawks offered No. 3 pick, Kent Bazemore to Cavaliers on draft night

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The Hawks traded the No. 3 pick (Luka Doncic) to the Mavericks for the No. 5 pick (Trae Young) and a future first-round pick.

But, Atlanta apparently also explored using the No. 3 pick to unload Kent Bazemore (two years, $37,359,549 remaining).

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

A source said the Cavs were offered on draft night the chance to trade up to No. 3 with the Hawks in a deal that would’ve sent Kent Bazemore to Cleveland.

Presumably, the Cavaliers would have sent the No. 8 pick – which they used on Collin Sexton – to Atlanta.

But, with or without the No. 8 pick, that trade wouldn’t have satisfied salary-cap rules. Cleveland would have had to send out matching salary.

So, what else was included? Did the Hawks want Kevin Love? Would they have taken George Hill or J.R. Smith, whose 2019-20 salaries – unlike Bazemore’s – are only partially guaranteed?

We obviously don’t know the entire offer, which opens even more questions about what Atlanta wanted. The Hawks have the Cavaliers’ top-10-protected 2019 first-round pick. Did removing those protections factor into the trade offer?

The Hawks seemed set on Young, and moving down to No. 5 ensured they got him. That wouldn’t have been the case at No. 8 with the Magic (No. 6) and Bulls (No. 7) picking in between. So, not only is the exact offer unclear, so are potential contingencies it was based on. Perhaps, Atlanta would have picked Doncic then executed the deal only if Young fell to No. 8.

Could Cleveland have gotten Doncic for taking on the overpaid, but still helpful, Bazemore? Maybe – but that’s a significant oversimplification.

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.