This morning's headlines:
- Harden, Paul bond at Drew League
- Agent: Rose had no interest in Knicks' rebuild
- Billups backing Mavs' Smith for ROY
- Heat's Richardson has decision to make
Harden, Paul shine at Drew League-- New teammates James Harden and Chris Paul have been working in private to get their act together for the upcoming season. On Sunday night they took the show to the Drew League in Los Angeles and shined, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com:
Harden finished with game-highs of 27 points and 12 rebounds, while adding six assists and two steals for his LAUNFD (pronounced "L.A. Unified") team, which pulled out an 83-81 win over a Home Town Favorites team that featured current NBA players Jordan Bell, Delon Wright and Tim Hardaway Jr.
In the first half, the two point guards, who now must learn to share a backcourt, seemed to trade off ball-handling and playmaking duties with one player firmly in control of the possession and the other spotting up to shoot. But as the game went on, there was more synergy to their games.
It's a harmonizing process they've worked on all summer, in open court runs in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. It'll continue in the fall as well, as Rockets teammate Bobby Brown said the team is planning to continue to train together in L.A., then again in the Bahamas in late August.
It was something the Rockets did last summer as well, as they began learning coach Mike D'Antoni's offense, and facilitating Harden's change to a lead guard position.
"That really helped us gel last year," Brown said.
Agent: Rose left Knicks to win now with Cavs -- Former NBA MVP winner Derrick Rose will spend the 2017-18 season toiling alongside another former MVP, LeBron James, on the Cleveland Cavaliers. While several teams were mentioned as destinations for Rose in the offseason, one place that Rose wasn't interested in going back to was the Knicks (where he spent the 2016-17 season). Marc Berman of the New York Post has more:
Kyrie Irving wants the Knicks. Derrick Rose did not.
The divorce was mutual when Rose accepted the Cavaliers’ veteran minimum for one year, $2.1 million last week.
The Knicks, who kept in contact with Rose until the end, never offered him the veteran’s minimum, according to an NBA source.
In the end, Knicks president Steve Mills may have been tipped Rose had lost interest, too. Rose crossed the Knicks off his list after point-guard-of-the-future Ntilikina was drafted and almost all of their cap space was spent on Tim Hardaway Jr. — making a clear commitment to rebuild.
Rose doesn’t speak French and wanted no part of mentoring.
“Did we miss something?,” Rose’s agent B.J. Armstrong asked The Post. “Is there something going [on] in New York we didn’t see? We all would agree they are on a different timeline than Derrick — a young team with great young talent there and trying to build something for the future. They’re not on the same timeline as players who are a little older and experienced.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out Derrick’s best basketball is right now. The Knicks aren’t ready to compete at that level right now. It could be three, four years.”
“Derrick chose what he said he’d choose from the beginning. He didn’t deviate,” Armstrong said. “He said he just wanted to win. People didn’t believe it. He’s made a lot of money in his career. Now he just wants to win. The guy averaged 18 points a game in the triangle and we know how the game is played right now.”
The Knicks sought a mentor for Ntilikina and Rose found the idea uninspiring.
“You’re a mentor when you no longer can play,” Armstrong said. “This league you get paid to perform. You don’t get paid to be a mentor.
“That kid [Ntilikina] was drafted in [the] lottery. He’s got to play. One of the most coveted things in the NBA is experience. The kid needs to play. The new [collective bargaining agreement] is constructed to build through the draft. … Let that kid play and make mistakes and see what you have in four, five years. Maybe the kid turns out to be Steph Curry.
“I wish it was different. Derrick loved New York. Loved it. Had no problems with any of the people there. But nobody’s getting younger and knows what their basketball will be like in the future.”
That the disgruntled Irving has put the Knicks on his wish list is stunning. According to Armstrong, Rose hopes Irving stays put as Rose is content to be his backup.
“What player doesn’t want the best teammates he can have?’’ Armstrong said. “Derrick wanted to play with that team, Kyrie included.”
Billups touts Smith for Rookie of Year -- No less an authority than Mr. Big Shot says that Dennis Smith Jr of the Mavericks, No. 9 pick in the draft, is a legitimate candidate for the 2018 Rookie of the Year Award. That’s what Chauncey Billups told Adam Grosbard of the Dallas Morning News:
"I love him. I love him. I think he's got the potential to be the rookie of the year in the league this year," Billups said in a phone interview promoting the BIG3's stop in Dallas on Sunday. "I think he's the most polished out of all the point guards that were out there this year. I think he's the most polished, pro-ready in my opinion and there's some really good ones that came into the draft this year and I like almost all of them.”
Some have compared Smith Jr. to "Derrick Rose with a jump shot." But Billups sees one of his contemporaries in Smith Jr. instead.
"He reminds me a little bit of Baron Davis when BD was coming into the league with his explosiveness," Billups observed. "His handles are really good. He can also shoot it. Dennis has really quick hands defensively.”
Decision time coming for Heat’s Richardson -- It’s time for Heat’s Josh Richardson to decide if he’s ready to bet on himself. Starting Thursday, the team can offer him a contract extension worth $43 million or the third-year guard gamble on his chances as a restricted free agent next summer, says Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
Beginning Thursday, the Heat can offer Richardson a contract up to four years in length and for as much as $43 million in total value, with Richardson having the option of accepting it by the NBA-imposed deadline of the start of the regular season or opting instead, if he chooses, to become a restricted free agent next summer, with Miami having the right the exceed the cap to keep him.
The Heat is expected to discuss an extension with him, and my impression is that Richardson will at least consider it, though a strong case could be made for gambling on himself and waiting for restricted free agency next summer.
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