Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Oct. 16): Bucks, Bulls reportedly near deal

Bucks ready to deal MCW for Snell | Grizzlies expecting big things from rookie Baldwin | Retracing the steps of Cleveland’s great comeback | Should Carmelo pass torch to Porzingis sooner rather than later?

No. 1: Bucks ready to deal MCW for Snell — Former Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams is on the move again, this time within the division. The Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls have a deal waiting for league approval that would send MCW down the road to the Bulls in exchange for Tony Snell, a move designed to shore up the shooting guard spot for the Bucks and to add depth to the point guard rotation behind Rajon Rondo for the Bulls. Charles F. Garnder of the Journal-Sentinel provides more details:

Carter-Williams, part of a trade-deadline deal in 2015, will be heading to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for shooting guard Tony Snell, a source confirmed. The trade likely will be finalized by Monday.

The Bucks continue to try to shore up the shooting guard position after the loss of Khris Middleton, who had surgery for a torn hamstring and is out at least six months. The Bulls wanted a reliable backup for Rajon Rondo.

Carter-Williams was the NBA rookie of the year with Philadelphia in the 2013-’14 season but was dealt to the Bucks as part of a three-way trade in February 2015. Twice he lost his starting position last season before undergoing hip surgery.

The 6-foot-7 Snell was not sure to get regular playing time with the Bulls this season after the addition of veteran Dwyane Wade in the off-season and more playing time going to Doug McDermott.

Snell averaged 5.3 points and 3.1 rebounds while averaging 20 minutes a game for the Bulls last season. The former New Mexico player started 33 games and appeared in 64. He played in 72 games and started 22 the previous year and averaged 6.0 points in 19.6 minutes per game.

The Bucks will have a point guard rotation that includes Matthew Dellavedova, rookie Malcolm Brogdon and Jason Terry. Giannis Antetokounmpo will be a primary ball handler but will not defend point guards.


No. 2: Grizzlies expecting big things from rookie Baldwin — With a mandate to reshape the culture and roster in Memphis, first year coach David Fizdale is going young. The Grizzlies have big plans for rookie Wade Baldwin, who will be asked to contribute immediately, writes Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal:

Grizzlies guard Wade Baldwin acknowledges, like most NBA rookies, that the biggest transition from college is adjusting to the speed of the game. That has been the crux of any training camp struggles. But say this for Baldwin: He is beginning his professional life playing for a coach who intends to put his career on a fast track.

When asked if Baldwin is ready to contribute for the Griz this season, Coach David Fizdale responded affirmatively. “He shows incredible flashes of talent and ability. He’s ferocious,” Fizdale said, before later adding: “I’ve got to live with some of his mistakes. That’s just part of the deal. When you over-scrutinize rookie mistakes, they go into a shell. And I don’t want that. I’ll reel him when he needs to be reeled in but I want to go out there and play really free.”

Baldwin played off the bench Saturday night during the Grizzlies’ 134-125 preseason win over the Houston Rockets in a double overtime game at the Toyota Center. Fellow rookie guard Andrew Harrison started alongside Mike Conley in the back court. Fizdale is also quick to point out that Baldwin has looked very much like a first-time pro during the exhibition schedule. The 6-4 combo guard taken 17th overall in the first round of the June draft still has the potential to be the game-changer that Memphis envisions. Inside the organization, Baldwin has drawn comparisons to Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook because of his motor and fearlessness. “I like it because he’s my favorite player,” Baldwin said. “But I want to build my own identity. Playing him in the (Tulsa game Wednesday night), I was going too fast. I’ve got to slow down a little.”


No. 3: Retracing the steps of Cleveland’s great comeback — The Cleveland Cavaliers’ epic Game 7 win over the Golden State Warriors in The Finals last season was truly a game for the ages, considering all that was at stake. What made it so remarkable was the Cavaliers’ comeback from a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 deficit, a journey Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer revisits in detail in an excerpt from his book about LeBron James ending the city’s five decade championship drought:

A member of the Cavs told me this story. The team was flying from Cleveland to San Francisco after Game 4. The Cavs had lost and were down, 3-1. The person was watching the reaction of the players. Most media people and fans believed the series was over. History pressed down hard, the Cavs’ chance to emerge as champions was barely above zero. Would the players be looking at their phones and computers, thinking about where they’d vacation after the season? LeBron and James Jones were looking at a tablet, staring at video of the game. Soon, a few players came around. Then more players. The coaches realized LeBron and Jones had their heads into the next game. They were pointing out ways the Cavs could win, how the series was not even close to being over. As this member of the Cavs told me, “That’s when I realized something very special could happen.”

It’s also when the power of LeBron and his influence on the team was never greater or more important. The Cavs won that Game 5 in Oakland. And Game 6 in Cleveland. And they flew back to San Francisco (where the team stayed) believing they could win Game 7, too. But the start of that confidence began on that flight after Game 4.

* * *

About three hours before Game 7, I arrived at Oracle Arena. I was thinking about being a full-time sportswriter for 40 years. And I was thinking about how in all those decades, I covered only one other Game 7 like this. Cleveland sports fans know it well . . . World Series . . . 1997 . . . Game 7 . . . Indians vs. Florida Marlins. A loss . . . extra innings . . . so close to a title. I had written a column under the headline: WHEN THE CAVALIERS WIN, THERE SHOULD BE NO EXCUSES FROM THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS. It was my story, but I admit — it was hard to stick to it. But something Cavs veteran Richard Jefferson said before Game 7 stuck with me. He was talking about LeBron. “Not many people have said, ‘Everyone get on my back,’ ” said Jefferson. “‘The city, the state, the organization, the team . . . get on my back. If we win or fail, I’ll take the blame, but I’m going to lead you.'” Those weren’t LeBron’s exact words, but it was the message the Cavs were feeling. “I can’t think of too many players who have put that type of pressure on themselves and then delivered more times than not,” said Jefferson. “He embraces it. That shouldn’t go unnoticed. It’s something that should be recognized by the fans.” LeBron kept talking about “one more game.” The season was down to one last game. One more game. “Like I told you the other day, it’s two of the greatest words — Game 7,” LeBron said before Game 7. “So I’ll play it anywhere.”


No. 4: Should Carmelo pass torch to Porzingis sooner rather than later? — The time will come when an aging star has to cede the spotlight and leadership mantle to a younger teammate ready for more. But could that time come sooner rather than later for Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis in New York? Frank Isola of the New York Daily News examines an issue that could come to define the season and the immediate future for the Knicks:

Carmelo Anthony’s very public slam of Slam Magazine’s player rankings was mostly harmless fun. If you spend any time around Melo you know that he has tremendous pride in his game and his standing in the NBA. There’s no shame being ranked 15th. It’s a more-than-reasonable spot for a player whose team has missed the playoffs for three straight years. Heck, Draymond Green was ranked 16th and he’s been to back-to-back NBA Finals and won a title. The rankings are meant to spark debate and Slam Magazine should send Carmelo a gift basket for all the free publicity he generated.

But Carmelo’s reaction is noteworthy since there will come a day — maybe sooner than later — when the Knicks make the inevitable shift toward Kristaps Porzingis. Anthony is an upper-echelon player but there are league executives, coaches and scouts who believe that Porzingis is now the Knicks’ best player. Others think Porzingis is not quite there yet, and with experience, he will eventually develop into that player. Porzingis, ranked 37th by Slam, was better than expected as a rookie and he made things easier for himself by deferring to his older teammates, displaying a tremendous work ethic and remaining humble. Carmelo also played an important role in Porzingis’ development by embracing his young teammate and understanding that Porzingis would make him and the Knicks better. But how Carmelo handles that delicate transition to Porzingis becoming the face of the franchise and the focal point of the offense is critical. For a time, Patrick Ewing struggled with accepting a lesser role with Larry Johnson, Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell and Marcus Camby as his teammates. By Ewing’s final season with the Knicks, he was sacrificing. He was playing fewer minutes and averaging fewer shots. What Ewing could accept was taking on a lesser role, but he was still taking most of the blame when the Knicks fell short. Porzingis’ time is coming and Carmelo is savvy enough to feel it happening. How he’ll respond is unknown. But Jeff Hornacek and the Knicks can’t afford for their most experienced player to go Slam Magazine on them.


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Memphis got another scare from veteran center Marc Gasol (sore ankle) Saturday night, but he appears to be fine … Speaking of Gasol, New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony compares his rookie Spaniard big man Willie Hernangomez to his All-Star countryman … No one need worry about the cutthroat competitiveness that the Golden State Warriors posses, just ask new Lakers coach (and former Warriors assistant) Luke Walton … Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson is using the game as much-needed getaway these days … They always do it big in Texas, and loyalty works both ways for Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and the city of Dallas … Pacers swingman Glenn Robinson III is making the most of his opportunity this preseason … A rash of injuries is having an adverse impact on the Utah Jazz’s outside shooting …