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Morning Shootaround — Aug. 31


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NEWS OF THE MORNING

Rookie Russell continues to ruffle feathers with Lakers, fans | Bulked up Anthony Davis ready to stretch his game | Report: Raptors an option for Thompson in 2016

No. 1: Rookie Russell continues to ruffle feathers with Lakers, fans — The most intriguing training camp in the NBA might not involve the champion Golden State Warriors or their foe from The Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers. If rookie D’Angelo Russell‘s summer, on and off the court, is any indication all eyes will be on outspoken Los Angeles Lakers’ rookie and one Kobe Bryant. Russell’s been a busy man, ruffling feathers with every post on social media (never slight Kobe to the hometown fans, young fella, with Tweets calling Tracy McGrady the greatest player of all time), and this after an uneven Summer League showing. Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News has more on Russell’s latest dust-up, which includes Russell calling a lot of Lakers fans “spoiled:

With one click of a button, Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell made an impassioned fan base more upset than anything regarding his Summer League play.

Russell suggested in a tweet nearly two weeks ago that Tracy McGrady is the greatest player of all time. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and his legions of fans expressed their disapproval over Russell’s since-deleted tweet, though Russell said Bryant “was cool” about the incident.

“There’s a lot of spoiled Lakers fans. I wasn’t downgrading Kobe at all,” Russell said Saturday in an interview with the Los Angeles News Group. “I was just watching a highlight tape of Tracy McGrady and I got excited. I tweeted and the whole state of California went crazy.”

At least some of the Lakers’ fan base has simmered down.

Russell signed autographs and took pictures with Lakers fans on Saturday at The Grove, where he made a promotional appearance for Birchbox, which gave him a box of the company’s fragrance and skin-care products. Russell hopes to hear cheers when he throws out the first pitch for the Dodgers-Giants game on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

But after spending the past month completing morning workouts and pickup scrimmages at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo, Russell sounded eager for his workload to grow. Among the first items to check off: Russell wants to meet both with Bryant and the recently retired Steve Nash.

“I’m trying to figure out their mentality with each practice and each game. How do they manage to be around the game for so long and be successful?” said Russell, whom the Lakers selected second overall out of Ohio State in this year’s draft. “I want to learn how to stick around this league. I don’t think there’s a cheat code to it. But the sooner you find it out, the better you’ll be.”

Russell could find out in about a month, when the Lakers begin training camp. Then, Russell will have his first chance to rectify his Las Vegas Summer League performance. As the Lakers went 1-4 during that stretch, Russell averaged 11.8 points on 37.7 percent shooting and had more turnovers (3.5) than assists (3.2). But Russell suggested what happened in Vegas will stay in Vegas.

“A lot of guys translate it over when it’s time, and a lot of guys don’t,” Russell said about Summer League. “I just want to be one of those guys that bring it when it matters.”

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No. 2: Bulked up Anthony Davis ready to stretch his game — He’s already one of the most difficult players to deal with in basketball, an agile and super athletic big man who plays both ends of the floor like few can. But Anthony Davis as a 3-point shooting stretch-four? That’s a nightmare opposing big men don’t want to see. It could be a reality this season, though, as Davis admitted to targeting his shooting from distance as one of the new wrinkles he plans to add to his arsenal. He talked about that and more in an interview with SLAM Magazine‘s Christopher Cason:

SLAM: There was a video out a few weeks ago with you working on your three-point shot. Can we expect you to step out and take more going forward?

AD: I’m going to mix it up. I love playing down low, but at the same time, if the opportunity is there; I’m definitely going to take them. That’s one thing for sure that coach Gentry has told me—“Shoot the ball,” “Let it go.” I’ve been working on it and I’m very confident in my game.

I’ve shot three’s all my life. I didn’t really need to shoot them over the past few years as much, but I’m never going to turn down shooting threes, especially if the coach tells me he wants me to shoot them. It’s something that I’ve definitely been working on. I definitely plan on utilizing it this year.

SLAM: Just sitting here next to you, the obvious difference is the muscle you’ve put on your frame. You’re obviously preparing to handle more of a load down low going into the season.

AD: It’s probably like 10-12 pounds. I’ve just been really working, man, and staying in the gym; weights. That’s the first thing that everybody says when they see me: “Oh, you’re getting bigger!” When you’re going against Dwight Howard and Big Cuz, you gotta put on some weight.

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No. 3: Report: Raptors an option for Thompson in 2016 — LeBron James made it clear that he wanted Tristan Thompson by his side long-term. And since he and Thompson share an agent, Rich Paul, most folks assumed a deal for Thompson would get done this summer. And yet here we are, barely a month away from the start of training camp for the reigning Eastern Conference champions and there is no deal. Chris Fedor of the Northeast Ohio Media Group has more:

In a little less than a month the Cleveland Cavaliers will begin training camp, the first step on a journey they hope lasts until June.

Whether free agent power forward Tristan Thompson joins his teammates still remains a mystery. All is quiet between the Cavs and Thompson, a restricted free agent who is looking to cash in after stepping into a bigger role during the Cavs’ playoff run and finishing top 5 in Sixth Man of the Year voting.

Thompson’s agent Rich Paul, a strong-minded negotiator who also represents LeBron James, recently told our Chris Haynes that if Thompson plays this upcoming season on the qualifying offer it would be his last in Cleveland. Thompson would then become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016 when the salary cap is expected to balloon.

If that scenario plays out, Thompson and Paul could have sights on signing with the Toronto Raptors, according to Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops.

Thompson was born in Toronto, and started his high school career in nearby Brampton, before moving to the states for more exposure. His good friend, former college teammate at Texas, Paul client and Toronto native, Cory Joseph, signed a four-year deal with the Raptors this off-season.

According to Scotto, executives around the NBA have already started to connect the dots, thinking about the marketing possibilities for Canadian-born, potential high-priced free agent pickup Thompson in Toronto.

“[Thompson] is a Toronto kid and I’m sure he has a strong following at home,” an Eastern Conference executive told Sheridan Hoops.

“I always thought he was going to end up (in Toronto),” an Eastern Conference GM said. “There’s going to be so much money next year so I think he will get it.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Miami Heat’s pursuit of Kevin Durant in free agency is nothing more than a pipe dream, according to one long-time Heat expertDamian Lillard in mid-season form, wins 3-point shooting contest (at Weber State alumni game) … Nigeria joins Australia, Brazil and the United States in the field for the 2016 Olympics in Rio  … Former Knicks GM Glen Grunwald has found a home in the college ranks


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15 Comments

  1. RickJ says:

    Same thing that happened with Bledsoe last year in PHX. RIch Paul is playing the same card. Hold out, don’t show up for anything until you get as much money as possible.

  2. Lovins says:

    Cavs are my favorite team, but I’m so fed up with this Tristan Thompson garbage I almost want him to leave. Cavs had better trade him than give him his $95M which would rank as one of the worst contracts in NBA history. He is a poor man’s Dennis Rodman. Not quite as good a rebounder, not nearly as good a defender.

  3. Wild Dog says:

    Anthony Davis may be on the conversation for MVP next season.

  4. Mark from Bayarea says:

    AD!!
    Sky is the limit for this guy.
    He is Tim Duncan II with more skill and athleticism.
    Hope to seem new legend born!!

  5. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    Anthony Davis is about to take this league over…

  6. M. Dalgart says:

    One most important thing to remember for D’Angelo Russell. As a Rookie especially, keep a “Low Profile”,
    and avoid your “Foot-In-The-Mouth”, decease. Fans and Media will always remember.
    Your Image should always be professional and Clean. You don’t want to bring attention to yourself, the wrong way.
    As a former professional Soccer Player and athlete myself, in any sport, show your true Talent on the Court, (or Field),
    Your Verbal and Negative comments, will always come back and Hunt you…

  7. MattfromHH says:

    An immature Laker with too much to say…… sounds exactly like some other punk kid who didn’t know his place on the Lakers ~ 20 years ago.

  8. dustydreamnz says:

    I agree with mstrefugee and Skrutz, Russell has the right to an opinion like we all do.

  9. Nick says:

    To Russell: Like my father always said when I was a kid: “Most of the time it’s best to just keep your mouth shut.” Or, as the old saying goes: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than speak and remove all doubt.”

    To Thompson: Get a new agent. Unless, of course you are just playing the game for the money. If, on the other hand, you are in it for the love of the game and want the best possible chance to win a championship “lower yourself” to sign with Cleveland for a lousy few million. You will then get the chance to prove you are worthy of the team paying a fortune for you and committing to you for the long-term. If you are worth it the money will come. The difference is what you want to play for, and if you realize that being on a potential championship contending team is an amazing opportunity many players never realize – especially so early in their careers!

  10. mstrefugee says:

    Russell’s right, a lot of spoiled fans. Dude has a right to his opinion. (even if a head-scratcher) He signed a contract to play, not to be a sycophantic cheerleader.

  11. Raptor4Life says:

    Bring it on home, Tristan Thompson !!!
    The Raptors are waiting for you….
    Andrew Wiggins will be next.

  12. no pain no gain says:

    Young Blood better respect kobe, get in shape D Russel


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