No. 1: Thompson looking to take ‘huge’ leap — Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson found his name in and out of the trade rumors all offseason as his team toyed with the idea of acquiring Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Thompson, though, has had a good summer so far, as he’s part of Team USA’s 2014 FIBA World Cup squad and is hoping a successful showing there will launch him into a career year come 2014-15. Marcus Thompson of the San Jose Mercury News has more:
All-Star guards Damian Lillard and John Wall didn’t make the team. But Thompson did. Along with his Splash Brother, Stephen Curry. That’s a big deal.
“This is crazy,” said Thompson, who was taking a break from packing and on his way to lunch in New York City. “In my mind, I was going to make it no matter what. For what I can bring — the ability to spread the court and guard 1 through 4 in international basketball, and I’ve practiced on getting into the lane a lot — I was expecting to make it. I thought our first game in Brazil, I was a little rusty. But the last couple games, I think I played really well.”
There is another reason. Today, the Warriors decision to not to trade Thompson in pursuit of Kevin Love became official.
Love will be traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers today. No, the Warriors didn’t choose Thompson over Love. They chose Thompson, Curry and David Lee over Love and the contract of Kevin Martin. They chose chemistry and well-roundedness over the potential that comes with Love’s superstar talent.
“I’m happy. It makes me feel great,” Thompson said. “The Warriors believe in me. That makes me want to work that much harder. They believe in me and Steph, they believe in the team we have. I believe in us too. I think we have all the ingredients to win a championship.”
A championship? With this roster?
“Absolutely,” he said. “I think a lot of it hinges on our health. Our ability to improve our offense. Me and Curry have another year together. Another year with Andre Iguodala. Another year under the belt for Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. We know what we’re going to get from David Lee consistently. Andrew Bogut’s coming in healthy. If Festus comes back and play like he did his rookie year, that’s huge. We’d have another big body and we need that, especially in the West. It’s going to be a grind.”
Of course, being a productive player for Team USA, being the primary reason the Warriors didn’t acquire Love, Thompson will have a much higher profile entering this season.
“I always thought people already do know who I am,” Thompson said with a laugh. “I want to be great. That comes with pressure. It comes with eyes on you. In year four, I’m looking to take a huge leap like I did last year.”
Thompson plans on making his mark as one who gets it done on both ends.
“Absolutely. One of the best ever, Michael Jordan, was one of the greatest defenders ever,” He said. “I’m not saying I am Michael Jordan. But if you want to be a championship player, you have to play both ends. We’ve got some great players in this league who are two-way players. Kobe Bryant. LeBron. Paul George. Kawhi Leonard. I’d love to be known as a guy who gets you 20 points and locks down the best offensive player.”
No. 2: Report: Sixers plan to keep Shved, Mbah a Moute — The Philadelphia 76ers were part of the three-team mega deal over the weekend that sent Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers. As part of the deal, the Sixers got Alexy Shved and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, both of whom struggled through subpar seasons in Minnesota last season. While Philly is in the midst of a clear rebuilding plan, Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times reports the team isn’t likely to try and deal either player anytime soon:
Shved, a third-year pro from Russia, is set to make $3.2 million next season while Mbah a Moute is on the books for $4.4 million.
Neither player averaged more than four points last year, though the Sixers could try to determine if the 6-foot-6 Shved could help beyond 2014-15 in the rebuilding of a franchise.
Regarded as a good defender, Mbah a Moute’s biggest value might be continuing as a mentor to fellow Cameroon native Joel Embiid, who is likely to miss his rookie season as he recovers from foot surgery. The 7-foot Embiid was the No. 3 choice in June’s draft.
An NBA source said Shved has a chance for some minutes and that Mbah a Moute is also expected to stay, as opposed to being waived or bought out.
No. 3: Report: Celts unlikely to deal Rondo; Bradley ready to live up to deal — In case you forgot about it, early in the offseason, then-Timberwolves forward Kevin Love visited Boston on a summer vacation that included a brief meeting with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo at a Boston Red Sox game. Love is Cleveland-bound now, so is Rondo the next big name to expect to be dealt sometime soon? According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, that isn’t likely to happen:
While the Celtics are trying to figure out ways to clear roster space before training camp, moving Rondo is not a high priority. First off, Rondo will be a free agent next summer and fully intends on taking the LeBron James–Carmelo Anthony tour of teams and extending the negotiation process deep into next summer. It is highly unlikely Rondo would sign an extension this season with an interested team, especially the Sacramento Kings. Second, the Celtics don’t feel pressed to deal Rondo because they are still trying to determine if he’s part of the future and they are intrigued to see him in action a full 18 months following ACL surgery …
Washburn also reports about Rondo’s backcourt mate, Avery Bradley, who agreed to a four-year, $32 million deal this summer to stay with the Celtics. He’s gearing up for a big season and is hoping to be healthy after injuries curtailed his 2013-14 season:
The Celtics have eagerly waited for Bradley to physically mature as well as mentally develop. He appears ready for a breakthrough season after averaging 14.9 points last season, although he missed 22 games with an ankle injury.
Bradley has been working feverishly to strengthen his body, hoping to avoid injuries and develop into the Celtics’ shooting guard of the future.
“Basketball has been my getaway,” he said last week during his camp in Dartmouth. “Whenever I might have a bad thought in my head, I’ll just go to the gym. That’s how I relieve all my stress. Sometimes I’ll go to the gym five times a day. That’s really been my outlet. My friends call me a gym rat but even if I am just sitting in the gym, I’ll look at the court and just imagine myself on it sometimes.”
Bradley’s mother, Alicia Jones, died on Sept. 10, 2013, in Tacoma, Wash., and following her death Avery decided to split most of his time between Boston and Austin, Texas. He has avoided returning to Tacoma.
“I don’t really like to go back,” he said. “My siblings [are there] and I have a niece and a nephew there but that’s really the only reason I go back home. There’s too many memories. I don’t really go back home. I went back home this summer for two days.”
Bradley came into the NBA following his freshman season at the University of Texas a bright-eyed 19-year-old, but he is now the second-most tenured Celtic behind Rajon Rondo. And he laughs when told that rookie Marcus Smart is 3½ years his junior and James Young is nearly five.
“I remember KG [ Kevin Garnett] and those guys would tell me, 10 years is going to go by like that and I’m already five years in,” he said. “It hits home for sure because I’m taking a leadership role. I’m open to taking it and not only that, I’m excited to take it. I feel like I can teach the younger guys a lot, all the stuff that I’ve been through, all the stuff that I’ve learned from the amazing players I was blessed enough to play with.”
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