Also this week: Pouring over NBA team revenue; Q&A with Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg
POSTED: Jul 20, 2015 11:42 AM ET
Seth Curry: Spice Up Your Wiki
The Starters get to know the lesser known Curry brother, Seth, a little bit better as they 'Spice up his wiki'.
LAS VEGAS — He was serenaded with the MVP chant. He talked about favorite breakfast foods and "Entourage" characters on set with The Starters, got his people out from behind the walls of fans with hats and shirts to sign, took a few pictures, and was escorted out of the arena and down the stairs to the waiting SUV.
Did it feel normal?
"Yeah, kind of," Seth Curry said late Saturday. "I'm around Steph a lot."
But the adulation this night, as it has been all week here at the Samsung NBA Summer League, was Seth Curry's, all his creation, the result of his star turn here for the New Orleans Pelicans. His was one of the biggest stories here, the younger brother of Stephen Curry, the league's Most Valuable Player and NBA champion, attempting again to make his way -- a little older and better than he was when he went undrafted in 2013, and made his way through D-League stops in Santa Cruz and Erie. He wound up leading the Summer League in scoring, and potentially getting a contract from the Pelicans for training camp.
Now, Seth Curry's Story is Ian Clark's Story, and Glen Rice, Jr.'s story, and Josh Selby's Story -- all recent Vegas Summer League heroes, but whose exploits here were no guarantee of future success as an NBA player. Yet they were genuine moments in the sun, and well-earned.
Stop and Pop: Seth Curry
Get to know Seth Curry as he gives the goods on everything from his favorite food to his favorite TV show.
The Summer League here is always a time to sell hope and renewal. You don't get fully-formed players here, but flashes are necessary, a move here or there that hints at what is to come. And many of the big name rookies like Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns and Philadelphia's Jahlil Okafor did that during their stints. San Antonio's second-year forward Kyle Anderson, who led the Spurs to the title game, to be played Monday (9 p.m. ET, NBA TV) against Phoenix, received MVP honors Sunday night, looking much improved.
Others impressed, too. Boston's three rookie Draft picks -- Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter and Jordan Mickey -- were very impressive across multiple games. Mickey, whom several teams were contemplating taking late in the first round, looks to be an absolute steal for Boston in the second round. Toronto's Norman Powell and Houston free agent Alan Williams were also sensational.
Utah's Trey Lyles sure looked comfortable being a stretch four for the Jazz during Summer League. He made NBA 3s with ease and with repeatable form throughout our broadcast of Utah's final game in Vegas on Friday. The possibilities of Lyles at the four, Derrick Favors at center and Gordon Hayward at the three would give Quin Snyder a pretty scary smallball front court if he wants to go that way next season.
Denver's Emmanuel Mudiay was the pass-first point guard scouts said he could be, looking much more mature than a 19 year old should playing with older guys. He only shot 38.5 percent from the floor in four games, including just 2 of 14 on 3s, again confirming many scouts' chief concern about him. But he was a +8.5 in NBA.com's Player Impact Estimate, and the Nuggets made sure there would be no issues Sunday night by trading troubled point guard Ty Lawson to Houston.
And while it still would have been prudent for Sacramento to take either Mudiay or Justise Winslow at six in the Draft -- or at least threaten to, getting more assets from desperate teams looking to move up -- it doesn't mean the Kings' first-rounder, Willie Cauley-Stein, can't play. He's incredibly active and showed the devastating defensive potential he possesses throughout Vegas, leading the league in blocked shots. He'll be an immense help up front to DeMarcus Cousins as a weakside shot blocker, and he looks willing and able to be an effective big-to-big passer on offense.
There was Keith Bogans, at 35, for no particular reason other than his own desire to shape the end of his career on his terms, playing with the Blazers. There were familiar faces like former first-rounder Daniel Orton and so many sons and brothers of NBA players it was hard to keep track.
But Seth Curry, one of four stories of the 2015 Summer League told here, stood out on his own.
He swears seeing his big brother become a superstar has not motivated him.
"I'm just a fan, honestly," Seth Curry said late Saturday. "I never really compare myself to what he does. That's one thing they always tell me, to be myself. I'm just a fan and happy for what he was able to accomplish."
Seth Curry has been the big show here, though, leading the Summer League in scoring at 24.3 points per game, putting on blistering shooting displays from all angles. He went 1 of 10 from the floor in the first half Saturday, but came back to make 5 of 7 in the second half. But he says he's not doing anything he hasn't done before.
It is fair to say that the chip on Seth Curry's shoulder stems from what he perceives as short shrift from NBA teams well before Steph Curry went thermonuclear. Despite finishing second in the ACC as a senior in 3-pointers and points per game, Seth Curry could only wrangle a camp invite in 2013 from Golden State. Since then, there were extremely brief stays in Memphis, Orlando and Phoenix, where he got a 10-day deal toward the end of last season.
That contract came after Curry had excelled for the Erie Bayhawks, leading the team in scoring at 23.8 per game (second in the D-League) in 43 games. He shot a league best 47 percent on 3s. The Erie stint followed his star turn for Santa Cruz, where he scored 36 points in his first game and helped get the Warriors to the D-League Finals in 2014. But he thinks he was able to build his game in other ways besides scoring.
"I think just making plays with the ball, just going in different ways," he said. "People in the D-League, they game planned for me so much to take away my three and stuff like that. I think I've been showing I can score on floaters and get to the rim, be creative and crafty, and score in different ways."
Seth Curry Goes Off
Highlights from Seth Curry who goes off for 30 points in the Pelicans win.
The main rub on Seth Curry, though, has been his defense. He isn't there yet, but he's way, way ahead of where he used to be.
"He has active hands," said Pelicans assistant coach Darren Erman, the former Warriors assistant who was brought from Boston by new Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry to run the Pelicans' defense. Erman coached the Pelicans in their first three Summer League games.
"I wouldn't say it's a long way, but he's improved a lot," Erman said. "I remember when we had him in Golden State in training camp. I just think experience in general, playing basketball, helps guys. That's one thing we have, an advantage we have. We have guys that are 22, 23 on our team, and other teams have 18 and 19 year olds. Seth playing (in the CBA), he's 24, 25, got a little bit stronger, and he just understands NBA defense a lot better -- how to direct the ball, where to send the pick-and-roll coverage, all that stuff is new to guys when they first come out of college."
Curry has been listening.
"That's the thing Erman's always talking about, doing the defensive things," Curry said. "I think people know that I can score now. It's just a matter of just holding my own and being a pest defensively."
The irony is that while the NBA is trending toward exactly the kind of guard Seth Curry is offensively, he won't make an NBA team until he shows he can consistently stay in front of ... well, players like him.
"His effort is there," said Pelicans assistant coach Robert Pack, who coached New Orleans Saturday night in its win over Golden State to advance to the semis. "His attention to detail is great. The execution of what we want. And that's a big part, knowing the position he's guarding, that's a huge part -- details, knowing what guys do, being able to execute. He's doing a great job."
There were reports last week that the Pelicans were about to offer Seth Curry a guaranteed deal. The idea of playing in the high-tempo attack Gentry plans to bring to Nawlins, and being on the floor with Anthony Davis, are the stuff of Curry's dreams.
"I think about it all the time," he said. "All the attention he's going to get, it would be way easier for me to make plays off the ball, catching and shooting. I think that's what I do best."
Pack thinks Seth Curry should embrace the challenge created by Steph Curry's star turn.
"I would," Pack said. "You've got a big brother doing that, it's good motivation. It's like, my brother's doing that, and I know I'm capable. Let me go out there and get some extra motivation. I think it's good for him to have gone through that with his brother the whole year, and to have an opportunity like he has right now, and to be stepping up and playing well, I'm excited for him. When I see him, it's like, I was undrafted, and I had a situation similar to this. And I always look in guys' eyes to see if they have that hunger, that drive, and that constant pursuit of their dream. And when I'm watching, I see that in him. He's hungry."
Curry's coach in Erie, Bill Peterson, told the Erie-Times News last April that Curry could have a career arc similar to that of Danny Green, who bounced around in the NBA for a few years after coming out of North Carolina before settling in with the Spurs on a second tour of duty -- and a $40 million contract this summer. And Seth Curry would be fine with that outcome.
"I think so, absolutely," Curry said. "Hopefully I just get the opportunity to get out there and show what I can do at the NBA level. I've been playing well in the D-League and the Summer League. Hopefully I just get the opportunity to make it happen."
A mopey group of Lakers ended Summer League play on Friday.
Julius Randle, trying to knock off almost a year's rust after his gruesome broken leg injury on opening night -- but under a 20-minute limit by doctors -- was barely audible after the Lakers' loss to Minnesota, mumbling over and over how frustrated he was.
And D'Angelo Russell, the second pick overall, was only slightly happier.
It was a struggle for some of Russell's first pro stint, after one season at Ohio State. He shot just 37 percent from the floor in five games, and averaged more turnovers (5.2) than assists (3.2). His new coach, Byron Scott, made a point of saying that Russell "wasn't Magic Johnson" and that it would be unfair to put such outsized expectations on him because of when he was drafted.
But Russell also made passes that 10-year vets can't pull off -- not because they don't have physical ability, but because they don't have the great court vision that Russell displays, nor the moxie to try the kinds of passes the great point guards try.
Russell is far from great. But he'll look a lot better in the fall playing with the varsity.
Russell Sweet Dish
D'Angelo Russell finds Tony Mitchell with the textbook bounce pass for the layup.
Russell told reporters he was "not good" in Vegas, and that he has to fight against being too nonchalant on the court. And like all young point guards, the battle between establishing one's voice as a leader on a team of grown men starts from minute one.
"You're young but you still have a voice, and when you speak, a lot of people listen, especially if the ball's in your hands," Russell said. "At this level, I'm really friendly with a lot of top players that you've got to make happy. To do that and be aggressive at the same time, it's a challenge that I'm looking forward to."
Russell played alongside second-year guard Jordan Clarkson for long stretches, a hint of what Scott plans to do next season.
Scott sees Russell, Clarkson and newly signed Lou Williams composing the Lakers' new three-guard rotation. And he sees Bryant playing more small forward next season.
"If we don't get another guard, then Kobe's in that mix," Scott said. "I'm kind of going through those scenarios. But not necessarily as far as who's starting and who doesn't ... I think (Bryant) will play more three than two. If we can get him at the elbows and at the mid-post, the more effective he'll be. I don't think he needs to be using up the whole 94-foot floor. If we can cut that down some, I think that saves his legs as much as possible. But if we can get him where he operates best, which to me is elbows on each area, top of the key, at the pinch post, at the mid-post, then I think he can be real effective for us."
Clarkson is determined to build on his First Team All-Rookie status. He's been killing himself with trainer Drew Hanlen since the end of the season, and has put on muscle while looking just as explosive as last year, exemplified as he posterized Utah's Jack Cooley -- "Jordan's dunk, wow," said teammate Larry Nance, Jr.
There will no doubt be nights when Russell and Clarkson look like the first- and second-year players they are. But their size and athleticism in combination will be much more in line with the kind of backcourt that can excel in the triangle. Add Williams' ability to get white hot in a hurry off the bench, and the Lakers should be much more dynamic in the backcourt, no matter where Bryant lines up.
"I think that's the beauty of it," Scott said. "The one thing that we wanted to do and accomplish through this draft and through free agency was to try and be a little more versatile, have some versatility. So I think all three of those guys can definitely do that. Kobe can play one, two and three. There's no doubt in my mind. And there's some games. against some teams, where he'll probably play four. With his tenaciousness, the way he guards people and when his mind is set, if I say 'Kobe, you've got him,' he takes that as a challenge. You know how he is. He'll compete."
After striking out on LaMarcus Aldridge in such public fashion, the Lakers were low. But adding Williams and Brandon Bass in free agency, and getting Roy Hibbert from Indiana after he fell out of favor with Larry Bird ("I don't know what it was, I don't know the reason. But I'm glad Roy is now with the Lakers," Scott said), the Lakers will at least have a solid, pro rotation to surround Russell with at the start of the season.
Scott is hopeful Hibbert can return to his old defensive form, when his ability to defend the post without fouling -- "that verticality crap," Scott said -- made him the hub of the Pacers' impregnable halfcourt defense. But the story of the Lakers next season will be written in large part by Russell, and his development alongside Clarkson -- in what may be the backcourt of the future in L.A.
"We only had four or five practices before we came here," Russell said. "I feel like if you guys, if you like the team, your teammates, it's easier to play with (them). He's a great guy. We hang out off the court. Our chemistry game starts off the court, and we bring it on the court. So it's easy."
The Mavericks had to move on after losing DeAndre Jordan after having DeAndre Jordan ... well, you know how that went.
Justin Anderson's ready to go.
The Mavericks' first-rounder is not the most consistent shooter yet. But his energy is off the charts. Whether or not Dallas is better this coming season, the addition of players like Anderson and Wes Matthews will make the Mavs feistier, tougher.
"I think I got that I'm hungrier than a lot of guys," Anderson said Saturday, after Dallas lost to Atlanta. "I wasn't out here just to play and say 'Oh, this is just Summer League.' I wanted to win this, man. Another thing is just offensively and defensively, I've seen how I can be effective, but at the same time I know a couple of things I've done out here and shown out here, half of that is what I have to do with guys like CP (Chandler Parsons), Dirk (Nowitzki), Wes, Deron (Williams). I had a good opportunity to kind of showcase what I can do, so it can give the coaches more to operate and work with."
Justin Anderson goes baseline and pops the reverse jam.
When Anderson was in high school in the D.C. suburbs at Montrose Christian, he quickly developed a reputation as a high motor player who couldn't shoot that well. When he went to Virginia, he fit right in with the Cavaliers, who were one of college basketball's best defensive teams. But after guard Joe Harris graduated and was drafted by Cleveland two years ago, Anderson started to expand his range.
By his junior season, he led the ACC in 3-point percentage (.482). A broken pinkie finger and an appendectomy wrecked the momentum of his season, but Anderson was already considered a first-round talent. The Mavericks, desperate to improve their horrible defense, scarfed him up after looking at him extensively in pre-Draft meetings.
Anderson won't have as green a light in Dallas to shoot, not with Nowtizki and Matthews on the floor. But he will be lethal in space, which their presence should enhance. His first step and strength will get him to the rim against most wings. He has 3 and D written all over him.
"Now, we've got film, we've got tapes," said Mavericks assistant coach Kaleb Canales, who coached Dallas' Summer League team. "He's a sponge. He wants to learn, wants to grow, wants to get better. I think his shot selection got better as the week went on. And he got six rebounds. I was on him about rebounds. Because if he locks in on rebounding, his impact at the position will grow, just because he'll be great in transition. He'll be a good finisher. And the shot selection will come with time."
The Mavs used Dwight Powell at the four spot in pick-and-roll sets during Vegas, and Powell played very well. But Anderson knows that will be Nowitzki on the right elbow when the games are for real. He will be ready when the ball comes his way.
"More space," he said. "You get to cover more distance, use that extra boost to that advantage. In college, there are smaller windows, so it's more stop-go, stop-go. If you cut hard, if you rotate hard, you can make a play, because of my athleticism and things like that. I just want to try and continue to get better."
Mike Muscala was a double major at Bucknell -- typical Patriot League academic underachiever. Thankfully for the Hawks, one of his majors was Spanish, and he played in Spain for part of his rookie season in the powerful ACB League.
"You don't really get good at it until you get immersed," Muscala said last week. "Living in Spain helped a lot."
But Muscala's multilingual background has helped him communicate in Vegas with his teammate Edy Tavares, the Cape Verdian who has lived and played in Spain for the last several years, most recently for Gran Canaria. In Vegas, the 23-year-old Tavares showed some of his great defensive potential, including a five-block performance on Wednesday against Miami.
Oop to Edy
Lamar Patterson tosses the alley-oop to Edy Tavares for the two-handed smash.
Like Muscala, Tavares has led the ACB in rebounding. Unlike Muscala, Tavares is a 7-foot-3 giant with a 7-foot-9 wingspan whose potential makes him a keeper in the Atlanta organization for the foreseeable future. Unless something really bad happens to the Hawks' frontcourt, though, Tavares likely won't be getting much time at Philips Arena this season.
"Someone on our team said this is going to be like a redshirt year for him," said Hawks assistant coach Ken Atkinson, who ran Atlanta's team here. "We need to get him up to speed. He's got to get a little better physically, obviously, and we can help him with that. Player development, I think we can help him progress a little. Right now, he's not ready to step in and play 25 minutes."
But the Hawks believe in Tavares' character, and his story -- working at his mother's store in Cape Verde, not playing basketball until he was 17, but picking up the game incredibly quickly once he started. And they believe, with some justification, that their player development program will, in time, get Tavares ready to be a part of their rotation.
The Hawks' 60-win regular season and run to the Eastern Conference finals showed their mental toughness, but the series with the Cavaliers exposed some of their weaknesses. Despite having All-Star big men in Al Horford and Paul Millsap, Atlanta was dominated up front by Cleveland's Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov. The Hawks needed to get bigger and more physical.
The Hawks solved part of the problem by acquiring Tiago Splitter from the Spurs earlier this month. Splitter's familiarity with Mike Budenholzer from their San Antonio days together will make his transition quicker, giving Budenholzer some options -- including Muscala, who played big and effective minutes in the first two rounds -- while giving Tavares more time to get used to the NBA game.
When the game is played in the halfcourt, Tavares could be effective on defense, even now. He's a quick study and he covers so much ground. But we all know the way the NBA game is going.
"That's going to be the big question -- can he keep up with the pace?," Atkinson said. "The European game's so different, a lot of set plays, a lot of halfcourt sets. I thought it's gone from 'Oh, my gosh, I'm worried,' to this game, like, man. He's understanding the pace of the game. I think the other key is, is he going to be able to play pick-and-roll defense in this league? 'Cause you look at the other coach, and he's going, 'Let's get Edy in pick-and-roll.' I think he's capable. I think he's doing a better job. And the other thing is going to be fouling. Can he understand, protect the rim without fouling? That's going to be huge."
Should you be afraid by what Adam Silver said in Las Vegas last week about teams losing money, and what Michele Roberts said in response?
No. At least not now.
Silver's notion that there were a "substantial" number of teams that are losing money, even in the midst of what can fairly be called an economic boom league-wide, really isn't new. It's the same thing he said last year -- though, there were increases in revenues that drove the salary cap up from its projected $67 million limit for next to $70 million. Those are signs that there are still emerging revenue streams out there. One would expect the league got a financial boost from LeBron James' return to Cleveland, where the Cavaliers rose from 16th in attendance a year ago to second this season, and the success of the Hawks, who had a record number of home sellouts last season.
But people seem to be conflating the expected burst of TV money from the new deals with what is actually in the pipeline now. The new money doesn't come on line until the 2016-17 season, which is when the salary cap is expected to spike to more than $100 million for the first time.
But, just to be clear: Silver did say that teams are losing money under the current system, in which the owners have reduced the players' share of Basketball Related Income from its high of 57 percent in 2005 to its current window between 49 and 51 percent (this past season, players got 50.4 percent of BRI), in which teams have blanched from outspending the Joneses because of the increased luxury taxes on the highest spenders (including the repeater tax), and in which a number of small-revenue teams get huge financial outlays from the richer clubs as part of the league's enhanced revenue sharing program.
Silver said that teams are putting more money into payroll (well, they have to, having agreed to spend a minimum of 90 percent of a given year's salary cap for their players), and that there are other rising costs being baked in.
"They still have enormous expenses in terms of arena costs," Silver said. "Teams are building new practice facilities. The cost of their infrastructure in terms of their sales people, marketing people, the infrastructure of the teams have gone up, and in some cases their local television is much smaller than in other markets. In some cases because of historical deals, and in some cases just because the market won't command the kinds of dollars that you can get in the larger markets."
This shouldn't be viewed as saber rattling. It's not Silver's style to be confrontational, and certainly not more than a year (December, 2016) before either side can inform the other that it's opting out of the CBA. Silver and Roberts appear to have, from the outside, a cordial if professional relationship. Roberts has tossed a few bromides about the economic system here and there, but nothing that could in any way be construed as personal.
As with her predecessor, Billy Hunter, Roberts is focusing on the enhanced value of teams once they build new arenas.
"New and renovated arenas around the league have proven to be revenue drivers, profit centers, and franchise valuation boosters," she said in her statement last week. "That has been the case over the past few years in Orlando, Brooklyn, and New York, to name a few. In some instances, owners receive arena revenues that are not included in BRI. Many teams also receive generous arena subsides, loans and other incentives from state and local governments as part of their arena deals."
The sides will likely continue talking in August, in private, and talking is always better than not talking. But almost no one believes one side or the other won't opt out at the end of '16. The players want to reverse their salary rollbacks; there are at least a few owners who still want a hard cap, with no exceptions. And deadlines tend to squeeze people toward giving away that which is least necessary to them.
It's hard to see Roberts being in a position to give much more, though. She has restructured the union's hierarchy, and its Executive Committee now features some of the game's biggest stars, including its president, Chris Paul, and James, a vice president. There is at least some sentiment within the union to look for partnerships with the league when possible, while still looking to make financial gains.
The likely deals for James -- more than $200 million in 2017 if he signs another one-year deal next summer -- and other superstars who play it the same way (Kevin Durant could certainly go this route with Oklahoma City) will surely scare the tax shelters out of some owners, who will surely push Silver to lock the players out in '17 and demand more givebacks.
But that's the problem. There will never be a system that is idiotproof (I'm not calling the owners idiots here, metaphor-challenged people). The Spurs and Grizzlies and their ilk continue to build quality teams, year after year, often without the benefit of high lottery picks. The Warriors have built a championship organization in just five seasons under owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber -- who are also standing conventional owner wisdom on its head by privately financing their own new arena in San Francisco. Last time I checked, it's pretty expensive to do anything in San Francisco, much less build a $1 billion arena.
The game's superstars, as they should, will always get huge deals. (Even a $200 million contract for James is selling him short; he could easily get more if there was true, market-driven free agency in the NBA.) Given a second chance, after he initially railed about the unfairness of the new CBA, Dan Gilbert made the conscious decision to go deep into the tax to keep James happy and in Cleveland for the long haul.
Ask yourself why.
Let Them Finance Cake. From Alex Schrock:
I would love it if someone can explain to me how anybody has the gall to ask for taxpayer money when they are a billionaire to build a stadium that won't actually do that much for the local economy. John Oliver recently looked at several new stadiums to show that they actually didn't prove a lot of economic benefit to the area around them; bars, restaurants and everything else get less business because now they have all those things in the stadium. Taxes are supposed to be used for public services; roads, police, firefighting and things that are beneficial to people free of cost. The purpose of these stadiums is nothing of the sort, especially now that they focus on luxury suites and VIP sections for other millionaires.
DA: I saw the Oliver piece on "Last Week Tonight" too (here it is; NSFW as you may expect), and he is spot on in his critique. Even sports nuts like me understand the utter folly of cities and other municipalities agreeing to pick up large chunks of the costs of building stadiums and arenas that most of the voters and/or citizens will never set foot in. I guess my only defense would be that being a sports fan is, by definition, an irrational act. We root for players and teams that have a certain logo or city name on their uniform/helmet, as if their presence makes us better. We don't "root" for our city's orchestras, or its zoos. I do not think, though, that this is a choice between arenas and schools. Today's cities would never think of spending that much public money to pay teachers or firefighters, or fix the roads, because they'd almost certainly have to raise taxes to do so. And there is no longer the will amongst politicians or the electorate to make an argument to do so. I wish more owners were like the Warriors' Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, who are privately financing their new arena in San Francisco, or the late Abe Pollin, who paid most of the costs of Verizon Center in D.C. But they aren't, and until a whole lot of cities start saying no, they don't have to be.
In the Interests of Kanter. From Andreas Ravnholt:
I was very excited, when OKC got Enes Kanter in February, because they have always been missing a Big, who could score more than 15 points a game. But I couldn't help being a bit worried, when they signed him for 70 million.
...How will this affect the environment? Won't a player like Serge Ibaka feel like he has been cheated, because he doesn't earn the same money? And how about Russell and KD - they're both way better and more important than Enes, but doesn't make that much more. Then you have Steven Adams who has worked his a.. off the last two years and really made some serious improvement. Won't he be deserving a Lot of money too, when his rookie-contract expires?
I'm just nervous, that this signing could create a lot of bad tensions in the locker-room, or how do you see this?
DA: You don't have to worry about Westbrook or Durant, Andreas -- when it's their turn to cash in, they'll both get nine-figure deals if they opt to remain in OKC. But Ibaka and Adams and others who may get in the free agent pipeline the next few years will indeed expect to be taken care of the way the Thunder took care of Kanter. The cap is projected to go so high in the next three years that OKC may be able to pull it off, and the Thunder have shown great creativity in structuring contracts like those of Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins in recent years that gave the team relief later in the contract. It will require some real detailed planning and more than a little good fortune to make it all work.
From Rushabh Doshi:
After going to the LA-Minnesota Timberwolves Las Vegas game a few days ago, I realized the difficulty that the Lakers could have next season is more than anticipated. Although they do have a young nice core for the future, it can be argued that Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell, although great individual players, may have trouble playing together in the future. I was excited when the Lakers had drafted Russell instead of Okafor, however seeing Okafor play was truly delightful and it got me thinking: Maybe we had made a bad choice? In addition to this, Julius Randle's much anticipated debut fell short, as it was obvious that he was rusty. Maybe the hyped Lakers core may be a little overhyped. What do you think?
DA: Come back to the light, Rushabh. Don't panic over one Summer League game. Russell was up and down, but he played better as the week went on. Randle was knocking off a year's rust after his devastating broken leg suffered on opening night last season. The Lakers (see above) aren't anywhere near all the way back yet, but they have a lot more weapons going into next season.
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$250,000,000 -- Public funding that is scheduled to be used to help the Bucks build a new arena in Milwaukee, after the Wisconsin State Senate approved the spending measure last week in a 21-10 vote. The Bucks were able to convince more lawmakers to pass the bill after agreeing to a compromise where the team would add a $2 surcharge to every ticket sold at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Three-quarters of each surcharge would go to the Wisconsin Center District, with the other 25 cents going to the state, giving it an estimated additional $500,000 per year toward its yearly contribution to construction of the new building. The bill still has to be passed by the full state Assembly.
18 -- Remaining players who are scheduled to take part in the first-ever NBA exhibition game in Africa on Aug. 1 in Johannesburg. Celtics guard Marcus Smart was supposed to play on the "Team World" squad captained by the Clippers' Chris Paul, but will now sit out the game after dislocating two fingers in a Summer League game last week against Portland. The Team Africa squad will be coached by the Spurs' Gregg Popovich; Team World will be coached by the Nets' Lionel Hollins.
1) We remain #SagerStrong and hopeful now that Craig, Sr., has received a second bone marrow transplant from his son Craig Jr.
2) Josh Smith showed he could be a playoff factor against the Clippers, so going to the Clippers and leaving Houston was a bit of a surprise. But the prospect of more playing time in L.A. won him over. He'll help them. But the Rockets have plenty of depth up front to make up for his loss.
3) There is so much going on at the Las Vegas Summer League besides the games. Mike D'Antoni ran an international coaches clinic. The annual St. Jude's fundraising table tennis tournament produced a shocker, as Vegas radio host Brian Shapiro, once nationally ranked, beat the usually dominant Charlotte general manager Rich Cho and usually triumphant Houston GM Daryl Morey to win the title. And I was honored to again host the annual Enrichment Program for young coaches and team personnel as well as take part in a Q&A with Wizards VP Tommy Shepherd as part of the first annual Front Office Combine for aspiring team executives.
4) What does that do? Does that blow your mind? That just happened!
5) My friend Cheri Hanson is as talented a PR person who ever lived, so it surprises me not a bit that the TrailBlazer's Vice President of Team Relations was selected to receive this year's Splaver/McHugh Tribute to Excellence award at the NBA's public relations meetings in Vegas last week. The honor and Brian McIntyre Trophy (named after the league's longtime VP of Public Relations, himself an all-timer in his line of work) is given for lifetime achievement and excellence in public relations.
1) It doesn't matter whether Ty Lawson is in Houston or not now, after the Rockets dealt for him Sunday night. He needs help. He's taken the first step by going to a 30-day rehab after a second DUI arrest, but he'll need full-time assistance off the floor when he's done. He's a terrific point guard when he's right in mind and spirit, and he's too young to let his career go so far south so quickly. I hope he can make a go of it with the Rockets, but the pressure of being a leader on a championship contending team is going to be immense.
1A) The one saving grace about Lawson going to Houston is that John Lucas has been a fixture there for years, working with players with substance abuse problems to try and get them back on their feet. If and when he gets involved with Lawson, I'd feel a lot better. Luke has helped an awful lot of people with tough love and life fundamentals.
2) Love Cubes' passion for new ideas and thinking, but not down with his proposal at the Board of Governors meeting to expand the playoffs from its current 16 teams to 20. As it is, the Eastern Conference is mocked from coast to coast for having sub-.500 teams in the eighth spot; can you imagine the catcalls if last season's 10th-best eastern team, the 35-47 Heat, made the postseason? I fully get that Cuban likely doesn't care about the East, and made the suggestion to make it easier for teams like his to navigate the Western Conference. It's still not a good idea.
3) Let's just say it's good to see that Celtics rookie R.J. Hunter, unlike other rookies, skipped the Four Letter's Celebration of Self Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Wednesday in order to remain with his Summer League team in Vegas. Silly me; I thought players who have yet to prove a blessed thing in the NBA should get every second of games, practice and coaching from their pro teams that they can get.
4) RIP Moe Greene, aka actor Alex Rocco, who played the iconic casino owner in "The Godfather". May you continue to make your bones while the rest of us date cheerleaders.
In a league where information is manna, one of the worst kept secrets was who the Chicago Bulls were going to pick to replace Tom Thibodeau. What would the point have been? The job was linked to Fred Hoiberg, the former NBA player, assistant coach and executive who'd been building the Iowa State program into a Big 12 power since 2010.
His connections to Chicago's front office run deep. He was playing for the Cyclones when Gar Forman, now the Bulls' general manager, was an assistant coach at ISU; Bulls president John Paxson was with the team as a broadcaster and ultimately became GM while Hoiberg was playing in Chicago toward the end of his career. And as has been excruciatingly documented, Paxson and Forman were both tired of the dance with Thibodeau, who was fired after the Bulls' loss to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
More than the personal relationship each has with the 42-year-old Hoiberg, who is competitive while still being pleasant most of the time, Paxson and Forman know that Hoiberg's offensive schemes at Iowa State mirror today's emerging NBA -- lots of 3s and rim runs. The Cyclones were in the top 50 in college basketball last season both in 3-point attempts and makes, running pro sets, and won at least 23 games in each of Hoiberg's last four seasons there (he had an overall record in Ames of 115-56, a .673 winning percentage).
The Bulls have the personnel to downsize and play small effectively, having re-signed both Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy, and expect Hoiberg to make much more use of second-year forward Doug McDermott next season than Thibodeau did last season. And Hoiberg can also X and O with a smile, given his willingness to be goofy on Twitter (one doubts Thibodeau was aware of this newfangled online communication system) and be immortalized on YouTube (his "Freddy Dance" in 2014 after Iowa State's NCAA Tournament win over North Carolina has more than a quarter million views).
He will have to win big and break through past the Cavs to overcome Thibs' long shadow, but with the full backing of management -- and, one hopes, a fully recovered Derrick Rose at long last -- Hoiberg's got the wind at his back as he sets sail.
Me: Did you sense upon your return to the NBA that the game has changed since you left for college, with the downsizing and smallball and more 3-pointers?
Fred Hoiberg: Well, in watching the playoffs last year, I don't think I ever would have guessed that you'd have a lineup of (Houston's) Terrence Jones against (Golden State's) Draymond Green at the five, and Harrison Barnes at the four against Josh Smith. It's something that is. Teams are in a little bit of a chess match now -- I'm gonna go small, are you gonna match me? Or are you gonna stay big and try to punish us inside? And just make teams make adjustments. But it was very exciting. It was a great playoffs. I loved watching it on the outside. The thing that I love about our team is we have that versatility. We can play big, we can play small, and I think we'll be able to match up against anybody.
Me: Where will you use McDermott's ability to shoot to maximize the abilities of your personnel?
FH: Yet to be determined. I think he can play both forward spots, especially the way some teams are playing right now. Just, again, you can put Doug all over the floor. That's always been a strength of his game, his ability to score from the outside, from the inside, midrange. It's just that he's so good out there on the floor, and you have to hug him (defensively). Teams have to hug him. And it'll open up the lane for Derrick and Jimmy, and guys getting into the paint. Again, with the makeup of our group, you've got a lot of guys out there who can space, and you can try to pound teams and beat them up inside. Just a lot of versatility.
Me: Why was it important to you to bring Jim Boylan in as your top assistant?
FH: Jim, when I look at the experience of where Jim Boylan has been, he has championship experience with two different franchises, with Houston and the Spurs. A guy I hired at Iowa State worked with Jim a year in Utah, and then he worked with him at the Pacers. And he was the one who really introduced us. I kind of got to know him, build a relationship with him. And he was a guy I definitely wanted on board. And he's been awesome. He's been great helping me along with my transition. He's been both college and NBA now. He's been a lot of help.
Me: I'm sure you have an appreciation for those 12 inches between the assistant's chair and the head coach's. What are some of the challenges from a time management perspective?
FH: It's a good question. The thing that I guess I'm fortunate to have is both NBA and college experience. The NBA, with the playing and working in the front office, and having the opportunity to be on the bench at Iowa State running it for five years. The fact that I've got both is going to be very beneficial to me. I don't know if I answered your question.
Me: Well, it's just that there's more people covering the NBA and the Bulls than there were covering Iowa State.
FH: Well, the thing I love, the biggest thing for me, is that I always loved to coach. I have an absolute passion for coaching. And that's what you do in the NBA, you coach. In college, I loved all of it, every aspect of it, but you've got to recruit, and you've got the academics. There's just so many more variables that you deal with at the college game than at the NBA. The NBA is just coaching. And that's what I love to do.
Me: What is your construct for how you see Derrick in your offense -- as a quarterback, as a scorer?
FH: Well, I love how Derrick finished the season. I thought he was terrific in the playoffs. He was making plays, he was finishing strong at the rim. The thing where hopefully he'll benefit is playing an up-tempo style, getting into the paint, the spacing, and making plays. I think he and Jimmy Butler have the ability to be as good a backcourt as any in the NBA. They can play off of each other. That's what we'll try to do, get that thing moving, get that thing up the floor, and get our guys playing unselfish basketball.
Me: What's on your agenda for the rest of the summer?
FH: I'm heading out to see all of our guys now. I'm heading out west to see four of them (including Joakim Noah), and then I'm going to Spain to see a couple more (including Pau Gasol). Then try to get a week away and decompress a little bit.
-- Golden State's Andre Iguodala (@andre), Thursday, 6:52 p.m., responding tongue in cheek to his coach Steve Kerr telling the San Jose Mercury News that, despite Iguodala's MVP Finals turn, Kerr still anticipates Iguodala coming off the bench next season. After Warriors fans became apoplectic at Igoudala's fake anger, he let them know he was kidding.
"We pretty much had Gerald Wallace cursing us out if we didn't play defense."
-- Evan Turner, during our NBA TV broadcast of the Celtics-Blazers Samsung Summer League game Thursday night, on how Boston was able to become such a good defensive team during the second half of last season so quickly.
"I came to Dallas with one intention and that's to win, and I'm excited about it. With DeAndre, without DeAndre -- I know this is a championship organization. The year they won it, they knocked us out. I want a ring. And I feel like we can do that here."
-- Wesley Matthews, to the Dallas Morning News, on his decision to stick with his commitment to the Mavericks after DeAndre Jordan's change of heart sent him back to the Clippers. The Mavericks also committed to Matthews, to the tune of a max deal worth $70 million -- $13 million more than he would have gotten if Jordan had stayed in Dallas.
"The looming appearance of LeBron James, who plays himself as well as Aaron's odd-couple-like best friend, may be a heat-seeking gimmick (he's the movie's biggest star), but he's a surprisingly limber comic presence and he helps set up a sharp scene in which Aaron challenges Amy's bumblingly false claim about having black friends."
-- New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis, in her review of the new Amy Schumer/Judd Apatow film "Trainwreck," in which James has an extended cameo.
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