September 25, 2016, 5:37 pm
One Big Thing: Summer’s End
Mercifully, we’ve reached the end of summer. The Cool Weather People rejoice as training camps around the league are set to kick off. Actual news will start to happen! We no longer have to settle for speculation and vague tweets. We’ll still talk about that stuff because it’s cheap popcorn fun but there’ll be some actual basketball happening. Feels good.
For the edification of anyone who was without wifi all summer long, we’re going to take a stroll back through the summer’s activity in the basketball world.
The elephant in the room is obviously the moving and shaking that happened in free agency.
The cap spike gave us some laughers and head scratchers. We had Timofey Mozgov as the first guy off the board with Jonas Valanciunas money. We had a bunch of unnecessary heat on Mike Conley for being a good player at the right time. We had useful guys like Solomon Hill and Mirza Teletovic pull in big money.
Nearly everyone pulled in big money. It’s what the predictions said and essentially what happened. That doesn’t absolve all sins, but it does ease the pain a bit.
In a world where cap space is crucial, spending because you have the money doesn’t make it the right move. It’s as if every team found $20 million in the laundry and snickered away, thinking they’d found some hidden advantage.
That’s not the case. The goalposts moved, but they moved for everyone. True value remains the same even if dollars balloon to new heights. Spending eight figures on average-to-decent players will never be how a winner gets built.
Next summer, when the cap goes up again, we’ll see a little more patience. Teams have locked in a lot of money but there’s shaping up to be a fair amount of buyer’s remorse. Two really good deals came from Miami and Toronto who waited to sign Dion Waiters and Jared Sullinger to cheap low-risk deals, respectively. Value is value. Maybe teams will pump the brakes next summer.
Additionally there were some interesting moves that went down that had little to do with the cap spike.
The New York Knicks dusted off the PS3 and found their old copy of 2K11 in the attic. Dwyane Wade left South Beach for his hometown of Chicago. Chicago also snagged Rajon Rondo. Houston did some very Houston things and signed Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson. Lots happened. KD happened.
Kevin Durant left the Thunder. OKC and Boston tried really hard (getting Tom Brady to pitch is the ultimate try-hard move) but came up empty. Durant joins the 73-win, 3-1 lead losing, Golden State Warriors.
With that in the West and the reigning champ Cavs in the East, this season is shaping up like an existential dilemma that would bring Camus to his knees.
But hey, we’ll play out the string. The NBA has a new public enemy so at least we’ve got that going for us.
Half-jokes aside, the disparity between the elite of the elite and the rest of the league has completely reshaped how we define the term ‘contender.’ It’s something that’ll probably come under scrutiny if players dance on parity’s grave and keep joining forces for ‘easier’ paths to money, championships and everything else that comes with them.
On the other side of that is Russell Westbrook.
That’s an oversimplification, of course, but the narrative of Westbrook as the hero that OKC needs- the one with him as the long-time scapegoat that rises to the challenge- is alive and well.
Westbrook, like just about anyone, is looking out for Numero Uno. Don’t ever forget that.
At the same time it is the sort of easy story that people like. The characters are fully-formed, the context and history set the stage nicely and the heel turn was magnificent. It’s far more complex than it will be described on the airwaves, but the heart wants what it wants.
In the meantime, the basketball in Rio turned out how we thought it would. Team USA won again despite some early struggles against inferior teams. Australia announced their prominence on a big stage and we saw strong showings from Serbian and Croatian squads. Older squads like France, Argentina and Spain all disappointed for the most part. The home team Brazilians gave us some fun moments while Nigeria looked like a composed squad in their Olympic showing.
Rio showed us that for as big as basketball is here, it’s still a game on the rise elsewhere in the world. That’s a great thing. The US will always be playing with a head start but the talent on the international scene is as good as it’s ever been and there seem to be even brighter days ahead.
While Team USA’s medals and trophies are more for Not Losing than actually winning these days, it was nice to see a cast of characters who might not make another Olympic team cash in.
Back stateside, the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Chris Bosh have taken the spotlight recently. Unable to pass a team physical, Bosh’s health has left him in a major bind. Finding a doctor who will clear someone on blood thinners with a history of clotting to play a contact sport is a Herculean task. Bosh is working on a sort of web series that will chronicle his comeback and I can’t wait to watch his journey unfold.
In the non-news category of news, Rudy Gay still wants out of Sacramento. Water remains wet.
On the social commentary side, more and more players have taken to social media to speak their minds about growing racial issues in the US. The NBA has been fairly proactive about supporting these discussions and working to bring some positive change. The league responded to North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 by stripping Charlotte of the All Star game. There are issues far greater than any one athlete, any one league or any one sport and the NBA and its players deserve credit for not being afraid to stand up for what’s right.
But we’ll end our story on a wistful note: with the retirements of Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. Each of these basketball titans left such an indelible mark on the game they graced for so long. This won’t affect next season, but this summer marked the end of an era in several ways. Things won’t be the same without TD and the Big Ticket. Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that each went about their business in such stark contrast while winding up at the same destination (as well as Springfield, Massachusetts eventually).
Duncan was the gentle giant while Garnett’s perpetual trash talk provided lots of entertaining, if infuriating, moments. Both were tremendous personas that forever changed the game.
That should suffice for a brief overview of the big things from Summer 2016. There’s a multitude of smaller story threads to follow and we very nearly ended up down the rabbit hole here, so you’re welcome for my self control.
As we gear up to find out who can beat the Warriors, who can challenge the Cavs and how many groins get kicked, it bears thinking about all the stuff that did actually happen this summer. The dog days of August hit hard, but the flurry of activity has set us all up for a fantastic season.
July 22, 2019, 4:28 pmGerald GreenSG, Houston Rockets
The Rockets have officially re-signed Gerald Green to a one-year contract.
Green will come back to the Rockets for his third straight season. He will continue to be a 3-point specialist off of the bench for this high-powered offense.
Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter
July 22, 2019, 3:34 pmTobias HarrisSF, Philadelphia Sixers
Tobias Harris has decided to withdraw from Team USA training camp.
Harris is the sixth player to withdraw from the Team USA training camp. The roster will be cut to 12 players heading into the FIBA World Cup which starts at the end of August.
Source: Keith Pompey on Twitter
July 21, 2019, 7:49 pmDarius MillerSF, New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have officially re-signed Darius Miller to a two-year deal.
Miller will be playing behind a plethora of young assets at the Pelicans' disposal. Given that the team has entered a full-blown youth movement, it is unlikely that he will earn enough meaningful minutes to make a splash in fantasy in 2019-20.
Source: Pelicans on Twitter
July 21, 2019, 7:35 pmBonzie ColsonPF, Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have waived Bonzie Colson.
Colson only played 98 minutes during his rookie season, but when he played he was a DFS favorite. Colson could play multiple positions and is young enough where a few teams would likely be interested in taking a flier on him.
Source: Eric Nehm on Twitter
July 21, 2019, 5:11 pmKostas AntetokounmpoPF, Los Angeles Lakers
Kostas Antetokounmpo has signed a two-way deal with the Lakers on Sunday.
The Mavericks waived Antetokounmpo last week and most knew the younger brother of last season's MVP would not last long before another team took a shot on him. He is still a developmental player, but he should have ample opportunity playing for the Lakers' G-League team, the South Bay Lakers.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
July 21, 2019, 10:09 amAnthony DavisPF, Los Angeles Lakers
When asked by Chicago Tribune reporter K.C Johnson on how he'd feel about wearing a Bulls jersey someday, Anthony Davis said that "If the opportunity ever presents itself and when that time comes, I’d definitely consider it.”
The chances of that time coming is more likely for 2025 than 2020, but still, until Davis is firmly committed to the Lakers long-term speculation of his future will remain. It's nice to know if you're a Bulls fan that he imagines playing for his home town at some point, but don't expect him bolting LA for them after one season.
Source: Chicago Tribune
July 20, 2019, 6:42 pmKenny WootenPF, New York Knicks
The Knicks have signed Kenny Wooten to an Exhibit 10 contract.
Wooten posted 10 blocks in only 52 minutes during Summer League and possesses some serious leaping ability. He will spend most of his time in the G-League and should not be on the radar in drafts.
Source: Marc Berman of The New York Post
July 20, 2019, 3:09 pmOshae BrissettSG-SF, Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have signed Oshae Brissett to an Exhibit 10 contract.
Brissett, a Toronto native, went undrafted after two seasons at Syracuse and played with the Clippers at Summer League, where he averaged 6.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.8 steals in 17.6 minutes a night across five games. This puts Toronto's roster at 20 for the time being, so barring any further transactions the Raptors have their camp group set.
Source: Blake Murphy on Twitter
July 20, 2019, 2:32 pmJordan McLaughlinG, Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves have inked point guard Jordan McLaughlin to a two-way contract.
McLaughlin went undrafted in 2018 after a four-year USC career where he averaged 12.8 points, 7.8 assists and 2.0 steals in his senior season. After his strong play for the G-League's Long Island Nets last season, he earned a spot on this years Wolves summer league roster where he continued to impress, leading his team to a 6-1 record. He is unlikely to get many NBA minutes this season with Jeff Teague, Shabazz Napier and Tyrone Wallace on the roster.
Source: Jon Krawczynski on Twitter
July 20, 2019, 1:26 pmEmmanuel MudiayPG, Utah Jazz
The Jazz have officially announced the signing of Emmanuel Mudiay, Jeff Green and Ed Davis.
All three project to come off the bench this season with Green and Davis part of the frontcourt second string while it is unclear if Mudiay or Dante Exum will assume the backup point guard duties. Davis is coming off a career-high 8.6 rebounds per game in only 17.9 minutes last season while Mudiay enjoyed his best year as a pro with the Knicks but all three players can be left undrafted in standard leagues for the time being.