HANG TIME, Texas — So now the question becomes just how far the Nuggets can drive their Playoff Express without the spark plug?
A short time before Denver rang up its 50th win for the fifth consecutive full NBA season, the best little Western Conference team without a superstar got the bad news that the nagging injury to point guard Ty Lawson is a torn plantar fascia.
Just when it was looking like the Nuggets could make more noise than a firecracker in the silverware drawer of the playoffs comes the bad news.
Originally diagnosed more than a week ago as a heel strain/contusion that would have him back in the lineup shortly, Lawson’s status for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs is now a huge question.
Surgery isn’t needed. The docs in Denver are saying rest and ice. But a torn plantar fascia is the injury that kept the Lakers’ Pau Gasol on the sidelines for just over six weeks.
That puts coach George Karl in a spot without his leader in minutes (34.8), points (16.7) and assists (6.9) per game as the Nuggets try to stay ahead of the Clippers and Memphis for the No. 3 slot in the West playoffs.
According to Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post, there is no timetable for Lawson’s return and Karl appears almost eager to assume the challenge of piecing all of this together, game by game, until his backcourt star returns.
“So many things come into my thought process,” Karl said. “I told my coaches, last night it was Iguodala, (Friday morning) it was (Evan) Fornier. The guy that I think probably is playing as well as any of those guys is Anthony Randolph. I could play really big for a period of time, playing Anthony at the four with Wilson (Chandler) at the three and A.I. and Corey (Brewer) in the backcourt. That doesn’t give you a really great playmaking team, but you’re athletic, you can run, you can do some things defensively.
“To me it’s flow and pace. It has nothing to do about are we capable of playing basketball. We’re going to be capable of playing basketball. I just don’t know how much rhythm and flow, and the pace.”
On Friday night, the Nuggets got 17 points out of the rookie Fournier in Lawson’s place in thumping the Nets, while Karl also used Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari at the point.
While there’s no doubt that Karl can keep juggling his lineup and the Nuggets can play effectively enough at home, where they’ve won 18 straight, to finish up the regular season, there’s no doubt they need Lawson’s raw speed and slashing ability if they’re going to the wild card that makes noise in the playoffs.
Back in 1985, give or take a generation depending on what year was dialed in, Doc Brown retro-fitted a campy DeLorean with a few spare parts he had around his workshop and spawned an entire time-traveling series of Hollywood comedies.
Nearly 30 years later, Denver Nuggets VP of basketball operations Masai Ujiri has cobbled together a roster largely out of spare parts, discards and items from the NBA’s great cutout bin and essentially made time stand still. As in another multiplex favorite, the one with Bill Murray and the rodent in which every day and night ends up the same: Win, win, win, win …
Consider the two hottest teams in The Association at the moment and how they came to be. The Miami Heat, aiming for their 26th consecutive victory Sunday evening against Charlotte, were conceived in a lightning bolt and thunderclap moment of AAU-comes-to-NBA inspiration, the brainstorm of the three key Hall of Fame-caliber players involved. Then there are the Nuggets.
Denver, which extended its lower profile winning streak to 15 games Saturday night, have made do – and made dangerous – with far more humble pieces than the crew in south Florida. At the risk of putting a silly “NBA.com has learned…” spin on something that’s been hiding in plain sight, it is worth looking again (if you haven’t done so recently) at the how the Nuggets’ roster was built:
Trades (9): Corey Brewer, Wilson Chandler, Jordan Hamilton, Andre Iguodala, Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Kosta Koufos, JaVale McGee, Andre Miller and Timofey Mozgov.
Free agents (2): Anthony Randolph and Julyan Stone.
Looked at as a group, the ensemble nature of what Denver and coach George Karl are doing this season – 15 straight, 49-22, fourth-best record in the league with a legit chance to catch OKC to claim the Northwest Division and the West’s No. 2 seed – is amazing and undeniable. That whole sure had better be greater than the sum of its parts, because its parts, on paper especially, wouldn’t scare hardly anybody.
Faried’s sleeper status out of Morehead State has gotten wide play by now. But it’s indicative of Denver’s recent draft history, with the Nuggets stuck at No. 20 or lower for their last 10 picks overall. The last single-digit guy – heck, the last lottery guy – by the Nuggets? Carmelo Anthony in 2003.
As for player acquired via trades, look how many current Nuggets were disappointing Something-Elses before they made it to Denver. Brewer, Randolph and Koufos, huge contributors on a surging team, were left at the curb by Minnesota. So, in a pre-arranged draft night trade, was Lawson, on the same date the Timberwolves spent the No. 6 pick on Jonny Flynn.
Andre Miller was considered old and broken-down by some at age 34, after five teams and 12 seasons. Chandler, Gallinari, Mozgov (and Quincy Miller, as a future pick) were, at the time of the Anthony trade, the best Ujiri and the Nuggest could do when faced with a marquee player who wanted out. Hamilton was a throw-in from Dallas to Portland to Denver on the night he was drafted in June 2011 at No. 26.
McGee? He was classic addition-by-subtraction for Washington, eager to reduce the knuckleheads quotient of its locker room. Even Iguodala, so helpful at both ends and in a leadership role, had fallen out of favor in Philadelphia.
Ujiri, early this season, referred to the process as a “rough two years.” Yet the Nuggets did not drop out of the playoffs in that span. They did not, obviously, sit and pine for pricey, big-name free agents they weren’t going to get anyway.
They took what was available and, with Ujiri working as hard in the front office as Karl on the sideline and the players on the court, rigged it MacGyver-style into something special. Gourmet chefs, three-star restaurants and the finest meats and veggies often make for great meals, but occasionally so do leftovers used creatively in perfect balance.
Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.
The one recap to watch: The kind of stat work that LeBron James is putting in of late is nothing short of amazing — to both NBA fans and to his contemporaries, too (see below). That’s one game you have to watch again just to soak in all the ways James is dominating the field during his run. But once you’re done with that, we’ll direct your attention to the Nuggets-Raptors game, which was solid in its own right. Neither team had a real solid grip on this one until the final seconds, when Rudy Gay nailed a baseline jumper over Corey Brewer to salt away the victory. Don’t look now, but Toronto is 4-2 in its Gay era and is 6 1/2 games behind Milwaukee for No. 8 in the East.
LeBron’s stats run amazes ‘Melo – LeBron James has been simply dominant of late, scoring 30-plus points in his last six games while shooting 71.7 percent during that stretch. His fellow Olympic teammate, Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks, has been nothing short of wowed by James’ run, writes Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com. Apparently, Anthony is keeping tabs on what LeBron does each night:
“That’s crazy,” Melo said after the New York Knicks practiced on Tuesday. “What he’s doing right now is unbelievable. I mean, he’s scoring 30-something, 40 points in 11 shots, 10 for 12 and things like that. He’s on an incredible run right now.”
How has James been doing it? Primarily inside. In his five games before Tuesday, he was shooting a blistering 84.1 percent (37 for 44) from inside 10 feet, where 44 of his 77 shots have come. From 10 feet or beyond, he’s shooting 54.5 percent (18-for-33).
Melo said that when the opportunity presents itself, he tries to watch his buddies around the league, notably James, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade, to see how they’re performing.
“I don’t really watch too much TV, but when my friends are playing, I want to see what they’re doing, I want to see their games,” Anthony said. “Most of the time, they’re playing when we’re playing, so it’s kind of hard to watch. But when there are games like (this past) Sunday, when there are a lot of games on at one time, of course we’re watching.”
So what does Anthony think about James’ MVP chances?
“It’s early. It’s the All-Star break right now,” he said. “He’s definitely playing like a Most Valuable Player, so we’ll see what happens.”
Anthony himself is in the MVP conversation. His Knicks have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference (32-17) — behind the Heat (34-14) — and he’s averaging a career-high 29.0 points per game. He scored 20 or more points in 31 straight games and has two 45-point outings. He’s also single-handedly carried the team a couple of times down the stretch, such as Feb. 8 against the Minnesota Timberwolves when he put up 12 points in the fourth quarter en route to a game-high 36 points.
Anthony and James will team up Sunday in Houston for the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
Nuggets’ Randolph shines in opportunity — It wasn’t all that long ago that Anthony Randolph was viewed as a player destined for stardom in the NBA. He’s shown moments of on-court promise from his rookie days with Golden State to his time spent with the Knicks and Timberwolves. But Randolph can never seem to lock down consistent playing time and has yet to deliver on the stardom so many saw in him as a rookie. He’s getting minimal time in Denver this season, too, but stepped up pretty big last night in the Nuggets’ loss to the Raptors, writes Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post:
The forgotten Nugget. That’s what Anthony Randolph had seemed to be. He had played 122 minutes all season. But in Tuesday’s game, with four key players out, Randolph played 27. And there he was at the foul line with 42.6 seconds left and his team down one. On the road.
He made them both.
Yes, Denver lost 109-108 at Toronto, but Randolph’s efforts were valiant — 16 points, seven boards, a game-high three steals and a team-high plus-10.
“Anthony was the surprise,” coach George Karl said. “He played a game I thought we could win with him playing.”
The 6-foot-11 forward was on the court in crunch time. Yes, he made some mistakes. His defense was shaky at times. But he made a positive impact.
“We’ve seen it in practice all year, and today he got a chance to show it,” teammate Ty Lawson said. “He’s just versatile. … He can handle the ball, rebound, and does all the little things. (With injuries), there’s a lot of minutes out there, and he’s definitely hungry to get some. He can be a big-time player with an opportunity.”
Indeed, numerous Nuggets are questionable for Wednesday’s game at Brooklyn.
As for Randolph’s explosion, Kenneth Faried can relate. The second-year forward seldom played a season ago until Nene got hurt. “The Manimal” came to be. No, I don’t expect Randolph to have a Faried-like impact, but for Karl, it’s all about who he’s comfortable throwing out there, and Randolph gave the coach some confidence going forward.
Asked about his teammate, Faried said: “He wanted to come out and prove he could play, and he did that tonight. He just has to get more selective with some of his shots, (I say) respectfully. Coming from a teammate, I know how Coach is. As a guy who didn’t play (and then) started playing, he’s just got to come out with energy and enthusiasm and pick his spots sometimes.”
Westbrook, Thunder show their frustration after loss – After storming off the court during a win over the Grizzlies a dozen days ago, Russell Westbrook drew some flak for both that action as well as his postgame interview with TNT’s Craig Sager. Famously, when Sager asked Westbrook a question he didn’t like, Westbrook responded with an “If that’s what you say, bruh,” that made its rounds on the internet as much as his on-court actions did. Westbrook was at it again after last night’s blowout loss in Salt Lake City to the Jazz which snapped OKC’s four-game win streak. The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry has plenty of juicy tidbits to share (see video here):
The postgame locker room was more lively than anything in the last eleven minutes of the 109-94 loss the Thunder took on the chin. Scott Brooks was brutally honest. Russell Westbrook lost his patience with the media. And Kevin Durant even tried to not be nice. It was all part of a strange night inside Energy Solutions Arena, where the Thunder’s four-game winning streak came to a sudden stop and the recent road woes reared their ugly head once again.
Westbrook simply walked off. The temperamental team captain got fed up with a reporter’s question and suddenly turned his back and ended the interview before walking away. The exchange was as follows. “Russell, did you guys lose this game, or did the Jazz win this one?” Westbrook: “Whaaaaat? Bro, what are you talking about, man? I’m out man. Y’all n***** trippin’.”
Westbrook’s sound bite was good for a quick laugh and easily makes his top three all-time interview quotes. But what was sad about the exchange is that everyone on the team, players and staffers included, simply supported him. They came to his defense even after he lost his patience, snapped on a reporter, prematurely ended an interview and used offensive language. It’s one of the reasons Westbrook will always be Westbrook. Nobody seems to hold him accountable, on the court or in front of the cameras. A pretty generic question, one that players get asked all the time in every sport, caused him to erupt. But by now, that behavior is just what you expect out of Westbrook.
Westbrook’s top three sound bites:
“No more questions for you, bro.”
“Whaaaaat? Bro, what are you talking about, man? I’m out man.”
“If that’s what you say, bruh.”
Durant picked up his 10th technical foul of the season tonight. It was pretty petty. But whatever. It happened with 6:06 left to play. Durant delivered a (sort of) hard foul on Alec Burks as he raced down the left sideline. It was enough to send Alec Burks “flying” into the first row of baseline seats. Durant received a flagrant 1 foul for the play and got hit with a technical for pushing Carroll when he walked in his direction and spouted off a few words. A light shoving match ensued and Durant and DeMarre Carroll picked up double technicals.
Durant moved into a tie for second place with his technical fouls, two behind leader DeMarcus Cousins. It puts KD six away from an automatic one-game suspension and prompted me to ask Durant if he will now be more mindful of his growing temper in the final 30 games. “I’m just going to keep being me,” Durant said. “I don’t give a damn. I’m going to just keep being me.”
Ex-Laker Fox questions Howard’s commitment — NBA TV analyst and Hang Time podcast regular Rick Fox, who, oh yeah, also was a key part of the Lakers’ three-peat teams of the early 2000s, had some harsh criticism for big man Dwight Howard on the radio. According to Janis Carr of the Orange County Register, Fox took to the airwaves to not only question Howard’s dedication to the Lakers, but also whether or not Howard wants to win a title or not:
The Lakers were back in town for about 24 hours after their two-week Grammy trip before their season was interrupted again by more negative comments, this time by former Laker Rick Fox.
Fox is the latest to single out Dwight Howard for much of the Lakers’ troubles. During a radio interview, he not only questioned Howard’s long-term commitment to the Lakers, but also the center’s dedication to winning.
“I would like to see more of the actions that tell me that winning is the most important thing to him, and him being a Laker and I don’t get that yet. I haven’t gotten that,” Fox said.
“Maybe in another city he could fool people with that, but unfortunately being in Los Angeles, you have got a legacy of great players who have shown the city what it looks like, what commitment looks like, what championship play looks like, what championship talk looks like.”
Fox said Howard feels entitled and wants to be the No. 1 option in the offense, much like it was when he was in Orlando.
“At the end of the day, he’s had teams where he has been No. 1 for a number of years and it’s led him to exactly what he has — which is no championships,” Fox said.
“He’s in a situation with guys who have won championships, who are pointing out to him that the way you are behaving is not championship behavior. Therefore you can either get in line and we can successfully accomplish something as a group, or try to prove the point that your way might be better.”
Lillard keeps getting the job done — Blazers rookie Damian Lillard is the odds-on favorite to take home the Kia Rookie of the Year Award and games like the one he had last night in Miami only bolster his overall case. Lillard struggled through a 1-for-16 night in Portland’s last game, a loss to Orlando, but as he’s done all season, rebounded from that performance with a solid night. He put up 33 points and was 10-for-18 from the field as the Blazers gave the Heat all they could handle before folding down the stretch. The Oregonian’s Jason Quick has more on the bounce-back performance of Portland’s burgeoning star:
After the worst shooting night of his career Sunday in Orlando – when he made 1-of-16 shots – the Trail Blazers rookie sensation on Tuesday stifled any discussion, any drama, any doubts about his rookie legacy. He made 10 shots. And 10 free throws. And scored 33 points against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.
In other words, he did exactly what everyone in this organization expected.
“I wasn’t worried,’’ LaMarcus Aldridge said while pulling on his socks, which were no doubt bored off his feet. “He doesn’t lack any confidence. I knew he would come back tonight. When his first two or three went in, I was like, ‘He’s back.’’’
Where’s the fun in that, Kid?
How about some juicy shooting slump? Some defense you can’t figure out? Some chink in your armor? Something to get the locals riled up and talking.
No? All we get is this same steely demeanor? This composure befitting of a veteran? The same steady stare, which makes it impossible to determine whether you are having a good game or bad game? Whether the Blazers are winning or losing?
Surely there has to be a time, when the cameras aren’t around, and the doors are closed when you have lost it. When you have broken down. Gotten angry. Lost your composure. Tell us you are human. Tell us you are not unflappable. Tell us when the last time it happened.
“I really can’t remember,’’ Lillard said after taking time to think about it. “It was probably at my little sister or something. Of course you have little arguments with people about sports, and stuff, but I can’t remember I was legitimately upset or angry at somebody.’’
“I don’t know what you want me to say,’’ Lillard said, a hint of a smile emerging. “I’m not putting on a show. This is me. This is me all the time. I probably laugh a little more when you guys aren’t around, but that’s about it. J.J. (Hickson) here is always asking me what I’m laughing about.’’
Well, none of your rookie colleagues are laughing with you. You have never allowed there to be a Rookie of the Year discussion. Never. Not since that brilliant 23-point, 11-assist debut against the Lakers. How about inviting Bradley Beal to the table by having a bad week? Allow Andre Drummond to get some publicity. And why don’t you allow that poor Kia representative visit another city – perhaps New Orleans and Anthony Davis – to present the Rookie of the Month trophy?
This excellence of yours has become so … so … normal.
There has been no chance to poke holes in your game. No chance to analyze what teams are doing to stop you. And don’t you know you are supposed to be rattled by a bad shooting night? Doubt yourself? Show at least a hint of fear?
“After a game like the game in Orlando, I couldn’t wait to play again,’’ Lillard said. “I let that game go on the plane the night we left Orlando. Everything was normal. It’s not like I could go back and shoot those shots over again. All I could do was get to the gym the next day.’’
ICYMI of the night: Just when Timofey Mozgov thought it was safe to get some minutes again in the Denver frontcourt, DeMar DeRozan takes some of the wind out if his sails …:
You know, the Carmelo Anthony deal might ultimately work. He’s got a big name, he can score, and he has people buying those zillion-dollar courtside seats at the Garden.
But the price it took to get ‘Melo keeps getting steeper and steeper.
Anthony Randolph stepped in for Kevin Love and scored 31 points Thursday. OK, sure, it’s the dog days of late March, when teams stop playing defense. And Randolph did this for the Timberwolves. And it was just one game. All true.
But if he turns out to be more than a stiff on the bench, which was his role under coach Mike D’Antoni in New York, then add him to the impressive bodies the Knicks gave up to get ‘Melo in the three-team deal with Denver and Minny.
D’Antoni had no use for Randolph, who came to the Knicks from the Warriors last summer in the sign-and-trade for David Lee. And that in itself was strange, because Randolph appeared to be an ideal D’Antoni player, somebody who could run the floor and score. That’s what he did for the Warriors, where he blossomed in spurts. He had his flaws, of course, but his potential was largely untapped. Instead, Randolph fell quickly out of favor and spent his brief time with the Knicks as trade bait, since it was apparent D’Antoni wasn’t a big fan.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Well, be thankful for the mini-vacation we got from the Carmelo Anthony saga — a little something we like call the “Indecision” here at the hideout — because it is officially over.
The start of a new month brings a new round of speculation about Anthony’s ultimate destination, which centers around the same team it’s always been about: the Knicks!
In the latest version of the ‘Melo-drama, courtesy of ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard, ‘Melo would go to the Knicks in a convoluted three-team deal that also involves our favorite front office staff to keep an eye on: David Kahn and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The specifics, per Broussard:
In the proposed trade, New York would send Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry to Minnesota and the Timberwolves would send Corey Brewer and a first-round pick to Denver. Denver would also receive Wilson Chandler from New York.
A Timberwolves source told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher on Sunday that the team would not approve of a deal where the team received just New York’s Randolph and Curry with Brewer and a first-rounder heading to Denver. While these are the names currently being discussed, additional players could be added to make a deal possible, sources said.
Through Monday, the NBA season is exactly 25 percent done. The quarter pole is a great time to evaluate a lot of things, but here we’re going to look at early candidates for the Most Improved Player award.
There isn’t clear criteria for the award, as indicated by the 13 different players who received first-place votes last season. Personally, I thought that Kevin Durant, who went from non-All-Star to MVP candidate, was the only choice, but only 17 of the 123 voters agreed with me.
Statistically, there are a few different ways you can compare performance from one year to the next. And I’ll probably explore all of them by the end of the season. But for now, since it’s still early, I’ll keep it simple.
To see whose production has taken the biggest jump from last season to this one, I looked at efficiency per game. Efficiency is a stat that’s been used here on NBA.com for a while now, and it’s fairly simple to understand. You just add up a player’s positive stats (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) and subtract turnovers and missed shots (both from the field and from the line). So the formula is this:
D.J. Augustin probably isn’t one of the first guys you think of when it comes to Most Improved. But he’s clearly a step ahead of the field (especially since Reggie Evans is out for two months with a broken foot), having stepped into Raymond Felton‘s role as the starting point guard in Charlotte.
None of the other names on the list are real surprises.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the 10 players who have regressed most in terms of efficiency per game…
Most Regressed: Efficiency per Game
The name that stands out here, of course, is LeBron James. We all knew that his statistical production would fall off, but maybe not this much. People talked about him averaging a triple-double with the Heat, but his rebounds have gone down from 7.3 to 5.7 per game, and his assists have gone down from 8.6 to 7.3.
Last year, James led the league in efficiency at 32.4 per game, which was more than four points better than the next player on the list, Durant at 28.0. It’s obviously not easy maintaining those numbers when you’ve got to share the ball with two other All-Stars.
And after a brief bout of silence, the ‘Melo-drama is back, courtesy of Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com. The latest round includes the New York Knicks reviving their pursuit of the Nuggets’ All-Star armed with young players, expiring contracts and just about anything else it might take to pry Anthony away from the Nuggets.
The offers the Knicks have proposed have always centered around packages including Anthony Randolph, the expiring contract of Eddy Curry and a first-round draft pick they would acquire from a third team, and New York has softened its stance on including forward Danilo Gallinari in a trade.
The most recent obstacle, according to the source, was for the Knicks to use one of those assets, likely Randolph or Gallinari, to acquire a player from a third team that the Nuggets value more highly than either of the Knicks forwards. The source said that obstacle can now be overcome, with the Knicks confident they can get their hands on a player the Nuggets would prefer.
The source also cautioned that the Chicago Bulls remained in the Melo mix, although the contract extension Chicago reached earlier this month with Joakim Noah would preclude him from being included in any deal the Bulls would put together for Anthony.
Also, New Jersey has faded from the Anthony sweepstakes, growing disinclined to include rookie Derrick Favors in a trade, a league source told ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande.
At this stage of the game, if Anthony doesn’t end up in New York it’ll be a shocker.
Has there been a more consistent trade rumor that didn’t come to fruition in recent memory, save for all the Amar’e Stoudemire drama that went on with Phoenix last season?
Anthony’s public stance on the whole issue has been rather noble (or twisted, depending on your mood), considering no one believes him when he talks about wanting to remain in Denver.
LAS VEGAS — Golden State general manager Larry Riley isn’t worried about his job status or that of coach Don Nelson after Thursday’s announcement of the franchise’s sale. A group led by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Warriors for a record $450 million from Christopher Cohan.
Riley expects the evaluation process of the front office to take place soon. Nelson is entering the last year of his contract and the league’s all-time winningest coach has talked about finally retiring after this season.
Nelson could also step aside this summer, but that’s highly unlikely with $6 million left on his contract. He said earlier this week he’s excited about the upcoming season.
“He will now have some decisions to make himself,” Riley said of Nelson. “I had some consultations with him. I don’t know where all that will go, but I think he has energy where he can coach the team.”
It’s a very real possibility Riley and Nelson aren’t retained by the new ownership group. Riley had spent more than 20 years in the NBA and understands the nature of the business.
“Twenty years ago it would have kept me up at night and it would have been on my mind all the time,” he said. “Fortunately for me I’ve been so busy, even since this whole [ownership change] began that I haven’t had time to really deal with it much, so that’s a good thing.
“I think I have enough maturity to understand what you can control and what you can’t, and you better work on the things that you can do something about. And that’s the way I approach it. it really hasn’t kept me up at night. It’s something that the decision will be made one way or the other on a lot of things in the franchise. There won’t be much I can do about it. I will continue to do my job until I’m told otherwise.”
Riley feels good about the direction of the team, adding the moves made this summer leave the Warriors deeper and more experience without getting older. The Warriors completed a sign-and-trade for David Lee, moving the disappointing Anthony Randolph in the deal. The Warriors expect the former New York power forward to anchor the frontline for years to come.
“I don’t know where Anthony Randolph’s career is going, but I know where David Lee is,” Riley said. “That was a bigger basis for making the deal than anything else.”
Golden State also signed Dorell Wright, is high on rookie lottery pick Ekpe Udoh, even though the power forward is out for at least six months. Hard-working gunner Anthony Morrow was lost to New Jersey and Corey Maggette was traded to Milwaukee.
Cohan approved all the moves up to this point, Riley said, with the new ownership group not having input on any of the transactions. The sale is pending league approval.
It’s the time to get a first look at the biggest, newest headline stars in professional competition and a chance to mine some of still-hidden nuggets from the NBA Draft and beyond.
The Pro Summer League in Orlando begins on Monday and the NBA Las Vegas Summer League starts Friday and the competition east and west continues through July 18.
Last summer’s stint in Florida was a chance for Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook to shine and he used that as a springboard to help the Thunder make their first drive into the playoffs. Out west in Vegas, it was Blake Griffin, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft who gave the Clippers a look at his great potential before a training camp injury sidelined him for the season.
Who steps forward this year? The Celtics, Bobcats, Pacers, Nets, Thunder, Magic, Sixers and Jazz will play this week in Orlando, showcasing the No. 2 and No. 3 picks – Evan Turner and Derrick Favors – in the draft when Philadelphia and New Jersey lineup for their first game with their new teams on Monday night.
John Wall, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Draft, will make his debut on Sunday in Las Vegas when the Wizards face Golden State in their Summer League opener with a possible deliciously interesting head-to-head matchup against Stephen Curry, last season’s Rookie of the Year runner-up.
There are always plenty of unexpected tales to come out of the summer leagues. A year ago Anthony Randolph of Golden State was a sensation for the Warriors and second-round draft pick Chase Budinger gave a hot-shooting, slam-dunking preview of how he was he was going to carve himself out a spot in Houston’s rotation.
The NBA Development League Select Team will give some of the top talent from the D League a chance to show their stuff in Las Vegas, while veteran Darius Miles will continue his comeback bid to the NBA with the Bobcats in Orlando.