Klay Thompson’s agent: Thompson better two-way shooting guard than Kobe Bryant


Klay Thompson, fresh of a successful run at the World Cup, is eligible for a contract extension.

I’m sure he wants a max deal. Given that the Warriors wouldn’t trade him for Kevin Love, Thompson will probably get one.

But just in case, his agent, Bill Duffy, is trying his case through the media.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Duffy is widely known to be demanding a maximum contract that the Warriors would prefer not to pay. His reasoning? He sees Thompson as the best shooting guard in the game.

“I don’t want (Los Angeles Lakers star) Kobe Bryant to go crazy, but there’s some uncertainty as to who he is right now (because of injuries that limited him to six games last season),” Duffy told USA TODAY Sports. “But I think Klay Thompson right now is the top two-way, two-guard in basketball. I think when you look at his body of work, when you look at what he accomplished guarding point guards on a regular basis (last season), I think it’s pretty clear.”

Just seven active(ish) shooting guards have made an All-NBA team:

  • James Harden
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Manu Ginobili
  • Joe Johnson
  • Paul Pierce
  • Ray Allen

Allen stretches the limits of active. Pierce and Johnson are more of small forwards. Ginobili (37), Bryant (36) and Wade (32) have all aged considerably. And “two-way” was Duffy’s way of eliminating Harden, a notoriously bad defender.

Shooting guard is a weak position league-wide right now, opening the door for the emerging Thompson.

Thompson might not be there yet, but he’s at least knocking on the door.

I tend to believe Thompson is better than a 36-year-old who played just six games last season due to injury. Just because his name is Kobe Bryant doesn’t mean he’ll overcome all the factors working against him. Maybe Kobe beats the odds. I’ll take the odds.

Really, Dwyane Wade is probably a bigger threat to Thompson. The Heat star is coming off an NBA Finals where he looked over the hill, and injuries have bothered him in recent years. But he’s considerably younger than Kobe and played very well when on the court most of last year.

However, as Duffy knows, comparing his client to Kobe is a better gambit than comparing him to Wade. One, Thompson is more likely to compare favorably to Kobe than to Wade at the end of the season. Two, comparing Thompson to Kobe is more likely to drum up discussion than to Wade.

Duffy’s job is not to make sound basketball judgments. It’s make Thompson money.

By the end of the season, Thompson could certainly prove Duffy right and become the best two-way shooting guard in the NBA. But I think there’s an even better chance Thompson lands that max extension from the Warriors.

Clippers sign Australian forward Joe Ingles


The follow-up moves have been completed.

The results, at least for this season, of the Jared Dudley trade are in.

The Clippers swapped Dudley and a lottery-protected first-round pick for their own 2015 second rounder and the ability to sign three of Ekpe Udoh, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Hedo Turkoglu and Joe Ingles.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Ingles, a 6-foot-8 forward, earned this contract while playing for Australia in the World Cup. He’s a real shot maker – going 23-for-33, including 6-for-9 on 3-pointers, in the tournament.

This gives the Clippers 16 players, and since I’m guessing Ingles required a guaranteed contract to jump to the U.S., DeAndre Liggins probably won’t last past the preseason. The Clippers also run out of room for Ray Allen.

Was all this worth dumping a first rounder? I’d say no. Udoh, Douglas-Roberts, Turkoglu and Ingles are all nice value for minimum salaries, but they’re still minimum-salary players who don’t really move the needle. And don’t forget, the Clippers now have $950,000 dead-weight cap hit each of the next five seasons.



Cavaliers work out Lou Amundson

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The Cavaliers remain the hottest free-agent destination in the NBA.

That’s in part because players will line up to join LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. It’s also because Cleveland has potentially open roster spots.

The Cavaliers have more than enough borderline NBA players on partially and non-guaranteed contracts, but they also want more-proven players.

Of course, Ray Allen remains the big fish, but they’re explore other options – like Lou Amundson.

Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype:

I really liked Amundson as an energy player – five years ago. He provided a much-needed dimension for the 2009-10 Suns that reached the conference finals.

Since, Amundson has played for the Warriors, Pacers, Timberwolves, Bulls, Hornets/Pelicans and Bulls again. In that time, he’s gotten old. Just because Amundson had such a great motor in Phoenix doesn’t mean he can maintain that same energy at 31, and without his relentlessness, he’s not NBA quality.

However, the Cavaliers are so talented, maybe they can keep Amundson in a small enough role to get the best from him. That would be the best route for this working, but there is the risk of Cleveland falling into the same trap as Miami – overvaluing experience and ending up with an aged roster.

Cavaliers sign undrafted Chris Crawford to two-year contract


He’s not Ray Allen, but the Cavaliers might have found another guard.

Chris Crawford didn’t generate much draft buzz after four years at Memphis. He scored 20 points in his summer-league debut with the Rockets and then fell off.

But somewhere along the way, he impressed Cleveland.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

A 6-foot-4 guard, Crawford made 37 percent of his 3-pointers in college. He also shot just 9-for-35 (26 percent) in summer league, though that’s a small sample.

I have to think that’s the skill that intrigues the Cavaliers. In most areas, Crawford is unspectacular, though decent.

Will he make the roster, though?

As I see it, Cleveland already has 13 players mostly locked in:

  • LeBron James
  • Kevin Love
  • Kyrie Irving
  • Anderson Varejao
  • Dion Waiters
  • Tristan Thompson
  • Mike Miller
  • Shawn Marion
  • James Jones
  • Matthew Dellavedova
  • Brendan Haywood
  • Joe Harris
  • Dwight Powell

John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas, Erik Murphy and Alex Kirk also loom with small or no salary guarantees. Lucas, Thomas and Murphy – acquired from the Jazz for use in a later trade – still hold value for their ability to facilitate deals. I’m not sure whether the Cavaliers will keep any of those three into the season to lengthen the window for making such a follow-up trade, but that could squeeze out Crawford.

NBA teams can assign a few players waived before the regular season to their D-League team as long as another D-League team doesn’t hold their rights. This allows an NBA team to more closely control a player’s development, but other NBA teams are free to sign that player.

Crawford might be a candidate for that route, but if he were definitely headed to the Canton Charge, there would be no point of giving him a two-year contract. Though I suspect that second year is fully unguaranteed, it indicates Cleveland’s openness to keeping him on the NBA roster.

Kirk is in the same boat, and likely both wind up waived and in the D-League. But there’s still a chance either plays his way onto the NBA roster.

Of course, if Ray Allen decides to suit up for the Cavaliers, they’ll find room for him much more easily.

Kings coach says Nik Stauskas and Ben McLemore can play together


The Kings can’t stop drafting shooting guards in the lottery.

In 2013, they took  Ben McLemore at No. 7. A year later, they added Nik Stauskas at No. 8.

In the lottery era, I count just just nine other teams that drafted players of the same position with top-eight picks in back-to-back years (omitting cases where players regularly handled multiple positions):

  • Chicago Bulls in 2002 and 2003 – Jay Williams and Kirk Hinrich
  • Cleveland Cavaliers in 2000 and 2001 – Chris Mihm and DeSagana Diop
  • Vancouver Grizzlies in 1997 and 1998 – Antonio Daniels and Mike Bibby
  • Denver Nuggets in 1997 and 1998 – Tony Battie and Raef LaFrentz
  • Milwaukee Bucks in 1995 and 1996 – Shawn Respert and Ray Allen
  • Philadelphia 76ers in 1993 and 1994 – Shawn Bradley and Sharone Wright
  • Dallas Mavericks in 1992 and 1993 – Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn
  • Minnesota Timberwolves in 1990 and 1991 – Felton Spencer and Luc Longley
  • Phoenix Suns in 1987 and 1988 Armen Gilliam and Tim Perry

Only one pair remained teammates even three full seasons – Jackson and Mashburn, whom the Mavericks both traded the following year. In their three-plus seasons together in Dallas, the team went 13-69, 36-46, 26-56 and 24-58.

On average, the listed players lasted together less than a year a half.

But not only do the Kings believe there’s room for both Stauskas and McLemore on the roster, they think there’s room for both on the court.

Sacramento coach Michael Malone, via Steven Wilson of Kings.com:

“What I’ve seen is that Ben and Nik can play together without any problems,” stated Head Coach Micahel Malone during the team’s mini-camp practices in Las Vegas this summer. “They both have a pretty good understanding of the game and they play well off of each other. When you have two guys who have the potential to shoot as well as they do, it’s going to pose problems for other teams.”

It’s not clear whether Malone plans to play Stauskas and McLemore together in the backcourt or use them as the two and three in a three-guard lineup with a true point guard like Darren Collison or Ray McCallum.

Stauskas showed he can be the lead ball-handler, run the pick-and-roll and distribute – in college. I’m not sure he’s ready to handle that role in the NBA.

A three-guard lineup would also allow Rudy Gay, who has found success in Sacramento as a small-ball four, to stay at power forward. But that grouping, even with DeMarcus Cousins at center, would be pretty small.

Really, I find it tough to see Stauskas and McLemore sharing many minutes.

However, I don’t think taking back-to-back shooting guards in itself was a mistake for the Kings. This just increases their chances of finding one who can start there long term. Even though there’s plenty of time to get on track, McLemore’s disappointing rookie year didn’t warrant Sacramento passing on the player it considered best available.

The draft is a big enough crapshoot that putting all your eggs in one basket is usually foolish. Maybe Stauskas or McLemore will pan out – but just don’t count on it happening harmoniously.