July 10, 2018, 6:26 pm
The Portland Trail Blazers have prioritized shooting above all else since their decided lack of floor spacing against the New Orleans Pelicans was exploited time and again in a first-round playoff sweep. And if the Blazers’ performance in Las Vegas Summer League against the San Antonio Spurs proves a harbinger of things to come next season, 3-point shooting will be the least of Terry Stotts’ worries. The Blazers, scorching hot from beyond the arc to build a sizable early lead, held on to beat the Spurs 95-89 on Tuesday at Cox Pavilion, moving to a perfect 3-0 in pool play.
Portland, after leading 44-39 at intermission, opened up a 13-point lead on San Antonio with an 8-0 run to begin the third quarter. The Blazers held that lead going into the fourth quarter and extended it to 84-67 with 6:30 remaining, but fell victim to the Spurs’ own shooting onslaught from that point forward. They connected on five triples in the game’s last four minutes, coming within two points of tying the score after a three by Raphiael Putney with 36 seconds left. Fortunately, Caleb Swanigan made five of his six free throws as San Antonio was forced to play the foul game late, helping his team clutch to a well-earned victory.
Gary Trent, Jr., shooting 32 percent through the first two games in Sin City, scored a game-high 20 points for Portland on 7-of-17 shooting and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Signed to a relatively pricey guaranteed contract last week, the rookie second-round pick showed off the sense of poise and patience that’s been obvious throughout Summer League play. The only difference this time out is that Trent had the jumper going, giving fans a glimpse of the mature, polished scoring repertoire that has Portland management so excited about his present and future.
— NBA (@NBA) July 10, 2018
Yet it was Wade Baldwin, unsurprisingly, who was again Portland’s best player – and it wasn’t particularly close. Running the show for his team from the opening tip, the 22-year-old guard finished with 16 points, nine assists and five steals on 6-of-12 shooting. Baldwin was his typically disruptive self defensively, igniting the Blazers’ fast-break attack, where he raced the ball up the floor to create scoring opportunities for awaiting teammates. He was especially impressive in pick-and-roll play, mixing in acrobatic finishes with the playmaking nuance of a veteran.
— NBA (@NBA) July 10, 2018
Portland has until July 18 to guarantee Baldwin’s $1.7 million contract for 2018-19. Up against the luxury tax and having spent the vast majority of their offseason resources on guards, the Blazers have reason to move on from the talented former first-round pick. But based on everything that’s transpired thus far in Las Vegas, Baldwin deserves to be on Portland’s roster next season – and perhaps be earmarked for rotation minutes off the bench.
Jake Layman, another summer standout for Portland, connected on 3-of-4 from deep en route to 15 points and eight rebounds. Swanigan fought his way to an impressive line of 12 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals, but struggled to finish on the interior and never found the range on his jumper, going just 2-of-10 from the field. The Blazers were able to extend their halftime lead so quickly courtesy of three third-quarter triples from John Jenkins, who had 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting while staking his claim for an invite to training camp. Teenage first-rounder Anfernee Simons went just 4-of-13 from the field and misfired on each of his three 3-point attempts, but again flashed athletically and made several smart plays on both sides of the ball that belie his lack of high-level playing experience.
At one point in the third quarter, Portland was a red-hot 9-of-12 from 3-point range, good for 75 percent shooting. That’s not a sustainable mark for any team, obviously, and the game’s remainder was evidence of that reality; the Blazers made just two of their next nine tries from distance. With adding capable shooters his team’s clear offseason priority, though, Neil Olshey is no doubt heartened to know that Portland will begin preparations for 2018-19 with a wealth of 3-point shooting at its disposal off the bench.
Portland, undefeated in pool play, will be a top seed in the knockout portion of Las Vegas Summer League, which begins on Wednesday.
April 25, 2019, 5:58 pmJeff Hornacek - Team - New York Knicks
The Kings have interviewed Jeff Hornacek for an assistant coach position.
The Kings have already hired their head coach, Luke Walton. However, with Walton's status up in the air with the recent allegations made against him, the Kings would do well to hire an assistant with head coaching experience. Hornacek last coached for the Knicks before being fired at the end of the 2017-2018 season. His overall record as head coach for the Knicks and the Suns is 161-216.
Source: James Ham on Twitter
April 25, 2019, 5:32 pmOmer Asik - C - Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have requested that Omer Asik's contract not count towards the team salary as he suffered a career-ending injury/illness.
Asik, who was waived by the Bulls last October, has been forced to retire. Asik was able to play in the league for 8 seasons. With this move, the Bulls would free up an additional three million dollars in cap room that they could use to help bolster their young roster heading into the 2019-2020 season.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
April 25, 2019, 4:59 pmMarkelle Fultz - G - Orlando Magic
Orlando's President Jeff Weltman says that he is "more excited" about Markelle Fultz now than he was at the trade deadline.
At this time, there is no reason for Orlando to be anything other than positive about the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft. With an entire offseason ahead of him in a city other than Philadelphia, perhaps Fultz can finally turn it around and find his shot. The Magic are a team that is looking towards the future and Fultz has an opportunity to become the starting point guard of that future. The team will not rush him back but it does seem like they expect more from him next season.
Source: John Denton on Twitter
April 25, 2019, 4:13 pmSteve Kerr - Team - Golden State Warriors
Head coach Steve Kerr told the media that “everything is on the table” ahead of Game 6 on Friday night against the Clippers.
The Warriors have struggled in ending this series against a very solid Clippers team. The Warriors coaching staff will make any necessary adjustments for Friday’s Game 6 so that they can end the series and focus on the playing the Rockets in the next round. We should expect some changes to the rotation but this may only be coach speak. Expect some minor adjustments ahead of Game 6.
Source: Mark Medina on Twitter
April 25, 2019, 3:52 pmMarkieff Morris - F - Oklahoma City Thunder
Markieff Morris expressed that he wouldn't return to the same allotment of minutes that he played for the Thunder this season but he was very complimentary of the organization.
Morris didn't play a high total of minutes for the Thunder after being signed in late February. It looks like he may be interested in returning to the team if they would expand his role heading into next season. Otherwise, he will be looking at other opportunities that grant him more playing time.
Source: Brett Dawson on Twitter
April 25, 2019, 3:32 pmMalcolm Brogdon - G - Milwaukee Bucks
Malcolm Brogdon (partial right plantar fascia tear) is out for at least Game 1 and Game 2 against the Celtics and will be reevaluated afterward.
With Brogdon out, Sterling Brown, Pat Connaughton, George Hill and Tony Snell will continue to handle the bulk of the minutes at shooting guard in the meantime.
Source: Matt Velazquez on Twitter
April 25, 2019, 3:19 pmMonty Williams - Team - Philadelphia Sixers
The Suns’ officials will travel to Toronto on Friday to meet with the franchise’s top coaching candidate, Sixers assistant Monty Williams.
Williams has a busy schedule lined up with interviews scheduled with the Suns and Lakers in addition to a second-round playoff series with the Raptors to prepare for. As the battle for Williams’ services heats up, it would be a shocker if he isn’t announced as a new head coach within the next week.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
April 25, 2019, 3:08 pmNerlens Noel - F/C - Oklahoma City Thunder
Nerlens Noel was coy when asked about his $1.99 million player option, saying he's going to let his agent figure that out.
Noel had a decent bounce-back season in limited minutes off the bench for the Thunder. After playing in a career-high 77 games and proving he was healthy coming off an injury-plagued 2017-2018 season, Noel should be able to make more money in free agency.
Source: Brett Dawson on Twitter
April 25, 2019, 2:58 pmAndre Roberson - G/F - Oklahoma City Thunder
Andre Roberson said during his exit interview, that he’s been “making great progress” and is on track to be ready for training camp.
This is encouraging news for Roberson who missed the last year and a half with the patellar injury after taking a wicked fall. Roberson will have to prove his health this fall before he becomes an option for fantasy teams, but the Thunder have to be thrilled to hear this news about their defensive stopper.
Source: Brett Dawson on Twitter
April 25, 2019, 2:53 pmMonty Williams - Team - Philadelphia Sixers
The Lakers are sending a host of prominent figures including Jeanie Buss, GM Rob Pelinka, COO Tim Harris, Joey Buss, Jesse Buss, and Kurt and Linda Rambis to meet with Monty Williams for his second interview.
Both Williams and Tyronn Lue are the presumed favorites to land the Lakers head coaching vacancy. With Williams' name heating up within open positions around the league, the Lakers decided to send everyone his way for the second interview. This interview should be telling as to which direction the leagues coaching carousel goes in.
Source: Bill Oram on Twitter