Posts Tagged ‘Fab Melo’

Orlando Summer League Tips Off Sunday

HANG TIME, Texas — You’ve got rookies often trying to wildly impress, second-year players who have a better understanding of what is expected and a few veterans who are hoping to get another taste of the big time.

The Southwest Airlines Orlando Pro Summer League tips off Sunday with some familiar names from the 2013 Draft and plenty of other hopefuls trying to crack an NBA roster.

NBA Summer LeagueNine first-round picks — led by No. 2 Victor Oladipo, No. 8 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and No. 9 Trey Burke – will take part in the six days of competition that will take place on the Magic’s practice court at Orlando’s Amway Center. The games are not open to the public and will only be attended by media and league personnel. All games will be shown on NBA TV.

A new format will be added this summer with two extra teams and one extra day added to the schedule. Under the new format, each team will play five games over the six-day event, concluding with a championship day. Standings will be based on a seven-point system for each game — three points for a win and one point for winning each quarter.

Here’s a quick look at roster highlights of the 10 teams that will participate:

Boston Celtics — It’s a whole new ballgame for the Celtics’ rebuilding program and there would seem to be plenty of room for new faces to earn a ticket to Boston now that Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers are all gone. New coach Brad Stevens will be on hand to observe, but leading the team will be assistant coach Jay Larranaga. First-round pick Kelly Olynyk, obtained by trade from Dallas, will be the biggest name on the roster, though last year’s draftee Fab Melo is physically bigger. Avery Bradley is being given a rest from duty and Jared Sullinger is still recovering from back surgery.

Brooklyn Nets – The remade and reloaded Nets will have first round pick Mason Plumlee suiting up for the first time along with a pair of last season’s veterans Tornike Shengelia and Tyshawn Taylor. But all eyes during the week will surely on the rookie on the sidelines. After a 19-year playing career that will surely send him to the Hall of Fame, Jason Kidd is taking no time off and going right to the bench. It will be most interesting to see if Kidd is as good in this transition as he was on the court.

Detroit Pistons — Andre Drummond arrived in Orlando a year ago with something to prove to the doubters and then went back to Detroit and showed that he was not merely a summer fling. Drummond will return, but is not expected to play the full slate of five games. The Pistons will have their entire rookie class of 2013 — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tony Mitchell and Peyton Siva. New coach Maurice Cheeks may have his work cut out resurrecting the Pistons at the NBA level, but the summer roster is quite capable.

Houston Rockets — After all their maneuvering and salary cap gymnastics to try to land free agent Dwight Howard, the Rockets did not have a first-round pick this year, but may have gotten first-round quality in point guard Isaiah Canaan. Terrence Jones, a No. 1 from a year ago, will be on the team and continuing to show that he’s a keeper and this Houston bunch is also loaded with Patrick Beverley and Greg Smith.

Indiana Pacers – It seems like much longer than just four years ago that Jonny Flynn was the No. 6 pick in the 2009 draft and maybe that’s because he’s mostly been on the outside everywhere he’s gone, trying to justify that selection and prove that he belongs. Now he’s back from playing in Australia and trying to get that third guard spot with the Pacers, who are also bringing in Donald Sloane. This year’s first round pick Solomon Hill will join holdovers Miles Plumlee, Orlando Johnson and Ben Hansbrough from last season’s roster.

Miami Heat — After winning back-to-back NBA titles, the Heat aren’t taking the summer off. In fact, they’re working overtime, the only franchise to be fielding teams at both Orlando and Las Vegas. Miami didn’t have a first-round pick — remember, it was traded for that LeBron fellow. The rosters will be led by last season holdover center Jarvis Varnado and second-round pick James Ennis, a swingman out of Long Beach State. A couple of high profile college guards, Larry Drew II of UCLA and Myck Kabongo of Texas will play for the Heat. Joining the team in Orlando only are Cedric Jackson, Ian Clark, Dewayne Dedmon and D.J. Stephens.

Oklahoma City Thunder — While three rookies Steven Adams, Andre Roberson and Grant Jerrett will be on hand for their Thunder debuts, most eyes of the coaching staff and back in OKC will be on holdovers from the main roster Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones. Jackson dazzled with his play in Orlando last summer, giving the first hint that he’d be ready to step into the point guard job when Russell Westbrook went down.

Orlando Magic — When it looked like everybody was losing their minds at the top of the draft a week ago, Magic GM Rob Hennigan kept his eye on the prize and simply chose his man Victor Oladipo. Is he a point guard or a shooting guard? Or is he just ready to do anything the Magic ask in the backcourt? Forward Romero Osby, a second round pick, has a lot of folks saying he’s a sleeper. Second-year men Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson are also on the roster.

Philadelphia 76ers —
While many Sixers fans are still reeling from the draft night trade that shipped out the young All-Star and favorite Jrue Holiday, this will be everyone’s first chance to see how his successor measures up.  Michael Carter-Williams will be given the keys to the offense in Philly when the season starts in October, so consider this his going out to take the test for his driver’s license. Nerlens Noel, the prize that came in the trade for Holiday, will not play as he’s still rehabbing his knee injury.  But Justin Holiday, Jrue’s brother, will be back to see if he can stick with the Sixers again.

Utah Jazz – Top draft pick Trey Burke said on draft night that he hopes to be the Jazz’ starting point guard on opening night next season. So he’ll start to press his case by running the summer show. Rookie center Rudy Gobert hopes to get in a few runs maybe by the end of the show in Orlando. He’s currently trying to work out a buyout of his contract with his French team and will need FIBA clearance. Center Enes Kanter is still recovering from shoulder surgery and neither Gordon Hayward or Derrick Favors will play, because they’re both part of the Team USA camp in August. Jazz fans will get to see a Stockton back in uniform. Hall of Famer John Stockton’s son Michael is a free agent signee.

Green Could Be A Problem This Season

 

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Jeff Green never makes it into the frame for the photo-op with the Celtics’ revamped Big 3 of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo.

Spending a season in street clothes away from the court and the public consciousness has a way of forcing a player, even one as talented and accomplished as Green, into the background.

Green spent all of last season recovering from heart surgery, missing out on the Celtics’ run to the Eastern Conference finals and the Celtics’ missed out on all that the dynamic hybrid forward brings to the party.

He’s back now, in a major way. Anyone who has seen the Celtics during the preseason has seen it. He’s flying around on both ends of the floor and making plays at the rim (check out that block above) and in transition in ways that no other player on the Celtics’ current roster can.

A 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward with the length and athleticism to match up against power forwards and the range and ballhandling skills to work on the perimeter as well, Green brings another dose of firepower to the Celtics’ attack (along with newcomers Courtney Lee and Jason Terry) that was lacking last season.

We’re not saying that a healthy Green pushes the Celtics past the Heat in that conference finals clash last season, but you never know …

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Rondo Leads Celtics’ L.A. Retreat

 

The player who allegedly was the source of the Boston Celtics’ deepest friction last season now seems determined to be the spark of deeper togetherness.

Point guard Rajon Rondo, cited as one reason teammate Ray Allen bolted the Celtics for Miami over the summer, was the ringleader of a Boston-in-Los Angeles week, as reported by Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Marc Spears. The feisty playmaker who has been such a love/hate/trade object for basketball boss Danny Ainge took it upon himself to plan what Spears called “a week of bonding.”

One of the first steps was welcoming a couple of new teammates — Jason Terry and Courtney Lee — to Boston’s L.A. retreat.

“I wanted J.T. to play with Kevin [Garnett]. I wanted Courtney to see how Paul [Pierce] likes to play. I wanted Paul and Jeff Green to go at each other,” Rondo told Yahoo! Sports. “I wanted to play with those guys. It was getting guys away from our actual training facility to get a new view.

“I wanted the guys to have fun. When you’re with me I want you to say, ‘Man, I had a good time with Rondo.’ And I think that’s what they did.”

So the Celtics worked out together at UCLA, broke bread and spent free time together (Pierce and Garnett own homes in the area). For five days they hung out, newcomers, rookies and veterans alike – only the most recent signee, Darko Milicic, wasn’t there.

They even crosstrained, Spears wrote.

To add some fun, Rondo also put together a flag football game at UCLA that included referees. Rondo said the only Celtics that didn’t play were Pierce and 7-foot, 255-pound rookie Fab Melo “because he might hurt somebody.” Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith, a close friend of Rondo’s, also played.

“My team won,” Rondo said. “We dominated. I had seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. I had a nice kickoff return back. We had fun. K.G. was the quarterback of the other team, but they had to sub him out because he wasn’t getting any touchdowns.”

For all the good fellowship, a lot of focus remains on a player who wasn’t there — Allen, so vital to the Big-Three-Plus-One success for five seasons. A personality clash between the shooting guard and the point guard, both on and off the floor, was said to contribute to Allen’s snub of a fatter free-agent contract offer from Boston. And earlier this month, when Rondo made an appearance on BET’s “106th & Park” show, he blew off a question about Allen by saying, “Oh, that guy.” (more…)

Celtics’ Melo Slowly Picking Up The Nuances





LAS VEGAS – It has already been a difficult transition, before summer league is half over, before training camp with the real Celtics, and definitely before the regular season alongside a certain demanding power forward as opponents force Fab Melo to step outside the lane for a change.

“That guy’s feet hardly ever left the paint,” one general manager said of Melo’s two seasons with the Syracuse zone.

It took all the way until Monday, Boston’s first game here after five in Orlando, for Tyronn Lue, the assistant coach running the bench in summer league, to note that Melo’s coverages have been off, at least partly because of the extra work involved now that the No. 22 pick in the June 28 draft can’t hang back under the basket in the zone all the time. So it was that Melo had four fouls in just 18 minutes of the 87-69 win over the Hawks at Cox Pavilion.

“He was just in the middle, standing,” Lue said. “Now, you’ve got to go out and show, you’ve got to get back, you’ve got to rotate, you’ve got to close out. It’s a lot more work for him, but he’s getting better and better.

“Especially with the five men in this league being able to shoot the ball, he’s going to have to come out a little bit. It’s going to be hard for him at first, but I think he’ll figure it out. He has good feet. So just learning the coverage and learning our system, he’ll do a lot better.”

Melo’s work on defense as a 7-foot, 255-pounder means everything because that projects as his only area of impact. There will be little scoring, although the Celtics are hoping for production on the boards as a meaningful contribution on that end.

Celtics Hopeful On Allen, Green




At last February’s trade deadline, Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge sounded like he was ready to break up the team’s vaunted Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to start over in 2012-13, either rebuilding around Rajon Rondo or dealing Rondo and starting over altogether. But a few months later, the Celtics look like they are determined to keep the band together and make another run at a championship next season with their veteran core.

The Celtics, according to sources, are increasingly optimistic they’ll be able to re-sign unrestricted free agent forward Jeff Green to a new contract, and are also more hopeful now they can keep Allen in the fold instead of losing him to the Miami Heat. The final decision is Allen’s, of course, and he’ll weigh offers from several teams (including the Heat and Grizzlies) in the next few days.

But Boston is hopeful that the last few days’ worth of events, starting with Garnett’s decision to agree on a three-year extension, combined with the selection of Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo in last Thursday’s Draft and the team’s strong showing in the East finals, will convince the 36-year-old Allen to accept the team’s two-year, $12 million offer.

That offer is more than what Miami, which only has its mini mid-level exception starting at $3.09 million, can offer Allen. The Grizzlies have their full mid-level exception starting at $5 million, however, and want to sign Allen to replace O.J. Mayo, the now-unrestricted free agent that Memphis did not tender with a qualifying offer last week. The Celtics had initially targeted Mayo as a primary free agent possibility, but now believe he’s going to get more money elsewhere. Several other teams, including the Pacers, are interested in him.

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Miami In The Plans For Ray Allen?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – LeBron James has abandoned the subtle approach in identifying the next veteran he’d love to see join the Miami Heat’s quest for a repeat championship next season.

With his son Bryce serving as the perfect accomplice, James took to Twitter during the Draft to court one-time rival Ray Allen, the soon-to-be free agent and former Celtics star:

While watching the Draft my son Bryce ask “Is Ray Allen gonna play for the Heat”. I said “I don’t know, I hope so”.

James probably won’t be the only superstar courting Allen this summer. Even with an injured ankle that cost Allen and the Celtics dearly in the playoffs, the future Hall of Famer will be a coveted prospect on the free agent market.

With the Celtics apparently searching for a younger replacement (O.J. Mayo?) at shooting guard, Allen should listen to the recruiting pitches of James and others (the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns, run by Allen’s former agent, Lon Babby, are also rumored to be among the teams preparing to court him). Allen’s emotional departure from the Celtics after their Game 7 loss to the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals was a fitting tribute from one of the classiest players the league has seen and probably had Celtics fans choked up a bit.

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