• The summer Portland Trail Blazers fared just a bit better than their parent counterparts in playoff basketball. Behind more well-rounded efforts from incumbents hoping to stick on the regular-season roster and their recent draft picks, the two-seeded Blazers beat the Atlanta Hawks 95-69 on Friday night at Thomas & Mack Center, advancing to the quarterfinals of the Las Vegas Summer League. Portland, 4-0, remains one of two undefeated teams in Sin City, along with the Los Angeles Lakers, who beat the Blazers in the championship game of last year’s event.

    Jake Layman was impressive yet again for Portland. The third-year forward came out firing from the opening tip, scoring his team’s first eight points on three consecutive jumpers en route to a team-high 20 points. He went 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, showing no hesitation whatsoever to launch no matter where he was on the floor or how much time was left on the shot clock. Layman also showed off his impressive leaping ability on an effortless alley-oop dunk courtesy of Wade Baldwin.

    Baldwin’s line was solid; 15 points, six rebounds, eight assists and one turnover is production of which any guard should be proud. Just like during Portland previous three Summer League games, though, Baldwin’s impact loomed even larger than his numbers suggest. He constantly pushed the ball in transition, creating countless easy scoring opportunities for his teammates, and looked every bit an NBA-level floor general in the half court, getting wherever he wanted with the ball in pick-and-roll play while maintaining complete control of the offense. Baldwin has obvious scoring and defensive chops. If he can make open shots and add a dose of playmaking dynamism going forward, he won’t just be on the Blazers’ roster this season, but could fight his way into meaningful minutes.

    Anfernee Simons, on the other hand, is likely to spend a significant portion of 2018-19 in the G-League, but you wouldn’t know it based on his play Thursday night. The rookie first-rounder scored 20 points and grabbed four rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting, and connected on three of his seven attempts from beyond the arc. Simons looked comfortable running the show offensively, and found his way to the paint for several notable finishes, including an acrobatic and-1 layup after taking contact in the air. He was a bit disengaged defensively at times and got carried away with his dribble on two occasions late, but this was clearly the most encouraging performance of the teenager’s nascent career.

    It wasn’t quite all roses for Portland, though. Zach Collins, returning from a sprained ankle, needed 10 shots to score eight points, struggling to finish in a crowded paint. Caleb Swanigan was thoroughly outplayed by rookie Omari Spellman, a player cut from a similar cloth whose superior mobility makes him a better fit for the modern NBA. Gary Trent, Jr. had his moments on both ends of the floor, finishing with 10 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals, but consistently failed to take advantage after producing good looks on the interior with off-dribble craft. He went just 4-of-13 from the field, though shot 2-of-5 from deep – including this buzzer-beating triple on a broken play to end the third quarter, a sequence that sapped Atlanta’s spirit.

    It’s certainly worth noting that the Hawks played without John Collins, Trae Young and Tyler Dorsey, each of whom project to be in Lloyd Pierce’s rotation next season. Collins, exhibiting additional comfort as a shooter and playmaker, was arguably the best player at Summer League before being shut down in advance of elimination play, while Young, especially as a passer, began living up to NCAA hype in Las Vegas after laboring in Salt Lake City last week. The Blazers were facing an inferior foe, a reality the scoreboard reflects.

    But Summer League isn’t really about winning as much as it is about player development. With Layman splashing threes, Baldwin making his mark all over the floor and Simons consistently flashing his prodigious natural gifts, this win is another reason for Portland fans to be excited. Here’s hoping Collins and Swanigan get back on track come Sunday afternoon, when the Blazers face the winner of a matchup between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.

Fantasy News

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    The Board of Governors has approved the NBA's 22-team format to restart the 2019-20 season.

    The vote was 29-1. It was widely expected that the format would get the go-ahead, even though more than one team didn't fully support the proposed plan, and the NBA has at least settled on what the season will look like once it's able to resume. They have also set the draft lottery for August 25 and the draft for October 15. The biggest hurdles remain anything that has to do with COVID-19, and to this point the league has yet to say anything about those challenges, but there is plenty of forward momentum these days.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Enes Kanter
    C, Boston Celtics

    Sean Deveney reported that "multiple agents say not all players are on board with an NBA return".

    One agent said, "Most of the guys are excited, fired up, they want to get back out there. Those are 95 percent of the conversations I have had". There are players that feel the money is not worth putting themselves and their families at risk. Enes Kanter weighed in on the topic, saying "there are some other team's players out there, that they don't want to play. They're like, 'It's just a game. I'm not going to risk my life". It is likely that the high-profile players will still play, but it looks like some role players may not be willing to take the risk to join their team when the NBA season resumes.

    Source: Heavy.com

  • Derrick Rose
    PG, Detroit Pistons

    The Pistons announced that they plan to reopen team facilities on Thursday, allowing voluntary individual workouts while following all the social-distancing guidelines.

    Although the Pistons' season is likely over as they are not one of the 22 teams that will continue to play if the Board of Governors vote to ratify the plan on Thursday, this will allow players to stay in shape for the 2020-21 season which is expected to start in December.

    Source: James Edwards III

  • Zion Williamson
    PF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Pelicans, Blazers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Wizards will be the six non-playoff teams resuming action when the NBA restarts.

    This makes complete sense, as they're the only non-playoff teams that can sniff the postseason. Woj backs up an earlier Shams Charania report about a potential play-in tournament for the final playoff spot in each Conference as well. If the ninth seed trails the eighth seed by more than four games when the league's truncated regular season wraps up, the eighth seed makes the playoffs. If the deficit is under four games, however, the two teams will compete in a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for the ninth.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the NBA will have an eight-game regular season for the purposes of playoff seeding upon its return while Shams Charania reports that there will be a play-in tournament for the eighth seed.

    This applies to the NBA coming back with 22 teams, as the league's bottom eight are well out of playoff contention and bringing them to Orlando would only negatively affect the league's pursuit for player safety. As for the play-in tournament, Charania describes it as such: "If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer games behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth." Expect another announcement about the league's format in the coming days.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Corey Brewer
    SF, Sacramento Kings

    Corey Brewer, a veteran of eight different NBA teams, is still hoping to sign another contract before he calls it a career.

    Brewer, 34, seems to think he has enough in the tank for one final stint in the NBA. “We had some talks with a few teams, but nothing really happened. My agent is still working on it, so we’ll see,” Brewer said. “I feel like I can still help a team and I feel like I have a few good years left. But you never know, man." Brewer has not suited up for an NBA team this season and, with a waning jump shot and increased age, his chances of securing another pact in the NBA are pretty unlikely.

    Source: HoopsHype

  • DeMarcus Cousins
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kings broadcaster Grant Napear stepped down from his position with the Kings on Tuesday after he said 'All Lives Matter..Every Single One!' when asked about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement during a Twitter interaction with former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

    This is the first domino to fall in American professional sports in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement, even if it's a relatively insignificant one. Napear said of himself and the interaction, "I’m not as educated on BLM as I thought I was. I had no idea that when I said 'All Lives Matter' that it was counter to what BLM was trying to get across," he said. "I’m in pain. I’m 60 years old and I still have a lot to learn." The Kings will evidently have to find a new play-by-play man for their radio broadcasts to accompany Doug Christie when games resume.

    Source: TMZ

  • John Wall
    PG, Washington Wizards

    John Wall, who has long been rumored to have absolutely zero chance of returning to the court even if the current season is resumed, said in a conference call last week that he feels "110 percent."

    Wall and the Wizards both maintain that he will not return to action this season, regardless of the outcome of the vote on Thursday by the NBA Board of Governors. This is good news, obviously, for the team as they set their sights on next season. As of late, trade rumors have been swirling around the franchise's two top assets: Wall and All Star guard Bradley Beal. Moving forward, there is a high possibility that the Wizards will decide between the two, as Beal's contract will expire after next season. Which player will the Wizards keep? Who will they trade, or will they trade them both? They are hoping to have some time to evaluate how the pair plays in tandem early next season, as Wall has missed significant time with a torn left Achilles he suffered during the 2018-19 season. But it may be too late to negotiate an extension with Beal at that point, so they will have to play their cards with extreme care.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Bradley Beal
    SG, Washington Wizards

    Wes Unseld, a Hall of Famer and Washington Bullets legend, passed away on Tuesday due to complications with pneumonia and other illnesses. He was 74 years old.

    An outstanding rebounder, Unseld is also one of only two players to ever be awarded Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season in 1968-69. He guided the Bullets to the NBA Finals four times, winning once in 1978, a series where Unseld took home MVP honors. Hornets' GM and former teammate Mitch Kupchak said of Unseld, “As a teammate, he was tough, dependable and competitive to no end.” Unseld was a fearless competitor and highly respected across the league during his 13 seasons with the Bullets franchise. Former Knicks center and fellow Hall of Famer Willis Reed recently recalled their battles against one another, "He was most consciously a rebounder — he could shoot, but he didn’t emphasize that part of his game — and felt that if he did his job right, by getting the defensive rebound and making the quick outlet pass, they would score quickly.” Unseld was undoubtedly a pioneer for the game of basketball and means a great deal to the city of Washington D.C.

    Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    ESPN's Adrian Wojanrowski is reporting that Adam Silver and the NBA Board of Governors, who are planning to vote Thursday on how to continue the season, would like the NBA Finals to conclude no later than October 12.

    With July 31 being the widely-reported restart date and the league tentatively planning to start 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵 season by Christmas Day of this year, it would make sense to crown a league champion as early as possible. The meeting with the NBA Board of Governors on Thursday will (finally) bring some clarity to the rest of the NBA season, as they will hold a vote to decide how to proceed. NBA fans have been waiting since the middle of March for some resolutions. This week will provide them.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter