Posts Tagged ‘Mike Conley Jr.’

Morning shootaround — July 15

VIDEO: The Starters break down the playoff seeding tweaks


Silver speaks on several topics | USA Basketball casts wider net | Paul George the power forward? | Is Porzingas perfect for NYC?

No. 1: Silver speaks on several topics Last night in Las Vegas at Summer League, NBA commissioner Adam Silver held a press conference to discuss topics discussed at the Board of Governors meeting. This served as de facto state of the league address, as Silver discussed topics ranging from playoff seeding to future labor relations to intentional fouling rules. As our Steve Aschburner writes, perhaps the most immediate topic addressed was next season’s playoff seedings, where winning a division from now on may carry a little less weight

Winning an NBA division might get a lot less satisfying next season.

It’s not the most prestigious accomplishment as it is, once the postseason revs up and conference championships feeding The Finals render forgettable those modest crowns of the Atlantic, the Central, the Southwest and so on.

But if a recommendation out of the Board of Governors meeting Tuesday in Las Vegas gets enacted as soon as this autumn, division titles would lose more than cachet. They wouldn’t carry the guarantee of a Top 4 berth in the Eastern or Western conference playoffs.

Instead, the qualifying teams in the East and West would be seeded 1 through 8 according to regular-season records. That is the likely outcome, based on NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s comments after the annual summer meeting of the league’s owners.

“It wasn’t voted on yet,” Silver said, “because we wanted all the owners to have an opportunity to go back and discuss that recommendation with their general managers and their coaches, and we’ll vote on it before the beginning of the season. It’s my expectation that that change will be adopted.”

Under the current system, the three division winners in each conference are assured of a Top 4 spot in the seedings, regardless of record. Last season, for example, that put Portland at No. 4 even though the Trailblazers’ 51-31 record ranked sixth-best in the West.

The Blazers didn’t get homecourt advantage in the first round — that went to No. 5 seed Memphis, with the Grizzlies beating Portland in five games. But the format didn’t seem to reward Memphis’ 55-27 performance, it dropped San Antonio to No. 6 despite an identical 55-27 record and it might not even have served the Blazers or their fans.

In winning its first division title in 16 years, Portland clinched the Northwest with two weeks left in the regular season thanks partly to the absence of other threats. Oklahoma City was the only other team in the division to top .500 and the Thunder were hampered by injuries in missing the postseason for the first time in six years.

Silver didn’t offer any specifics beyond the general goal of 1-through-8 seeding. There apparently still is enough sentiment among the owners that the divisions be retained — an Atlantic banner hanging in the rafters or at a practice facility might not mean much to Boston or New York, but it still might matter in Toronto, for instance.


No. 2: USA Basketball casts wider net The next Olympics are still a year away, but USA Basketball is already looking at some of the NBA’s brightest younger players in looking to assemble the 2016 Olympic team. As ESPN’s Marc Stein writes, expect to see some new faces at Team USA’s mini-camp in August

Sources told that USAB has extended invitations to Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Memphis’ Mike Conley, Golden State’s Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes, Orlando’s Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo and Utah’s Trey Burke to its Aug. 11-13 camp on the campus of UNLV.

USAB managing director Jerry Colangelo, meanwhile, tells that next month’s camp will actually serve as more of a “reunion” for various players who have worked under Colangelo and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski in the past two Olympic tournaments and the past two world championship-level events. As opposed to the full-scale practices and the intrasquad scrimmage that Team USA would typically hold in preparation for a major competition, Colangelo said Tuesday that next month’s gathering will instead feature two days of noncontact workouts and “an all-star game of sorts” on Aug. 13 that will feature the various marquee players in attendance who are healthy enough to play.

Yet Colangelo stressed that USA Basketball is making attendance at the three-day event mandatory for invited players if they are interested in securing a spot on the Yanks’ 12-man roster for next summer’s Olympics in Brazil, even if the player is rehabilitating from an injury or otherwise not yet cleared to join in on-court activities.

USAB already knows that Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Indiana’s Paul George and the Cleveland Cavaliers duo of Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving will not be ready to take part in basketball activities at the camp, because they are recovering from their various serious injuries from the past year. But Colangelo’s view is that “it’s important for everyone to be here as a sign of commitment for ’16.”

VIDEO: Managing Director Jerry Colangelo talks USA basketball


No. 3: Paul George the power forward? After seeing the Golden State Warriors rely on a small lineup in their run through the NBA Finals, NBA teams around the league are considering their own smaller lineups. The Indiana Pacers expect a healthy return from Paul George, who has already publicly registered his disinterest in playing major minutes at power forward. But as Pacers president Larry Bird said at a press conference yesterday, George doesn’t make those decisions for the Pacers …

Larry Bird’s sales pitch was good enough to get two free agents to sign with the Pacers.

He’s still trying to convince Paul George that playing power forward will be a good move, too.

After announcing the signings of three players Tuesday, Indiana’s president of basketball operations made his most extensive and direct comments yet about playing the 6-foot-9, 220-pound swingman at a new spot.

“I’m not going to get into a battle about where Paul George will play,” Bird said. “He’s a basketball player and we can put him anywhere out there.”

Bird believes George will be freed to do more offensively and be healthier if he’s not chasing players around the court.

But the debate has raged all summer.

While critics contend the two-time All-Star could get overwhelmed by bigger, stronger opponents inside, Bird believes the two-time all-NBA defensive player will hold up just fine and will actually be a more productive player.

The flurry of offseason moves has left no doubt that George will get some time as a stretch four. The question is how much time?

Before heading to Florida to watch the Pacers’ summer league team play, coach Frank Vogel told reporters he had not determined how much time George would log at power forward. On Saturday at a local basketball camp, George said that while he’s willing to play anywhere, he didn’t anticipate playing 30 minutes per game at that spot.

Bird made one thing clear Tuesday.

“He don’t make the decisions around here. But I did it, and I loved it after I did it,” Bird said, drawing laughter.


No. 4: Is Porzingas perfect for NYC? When the Knicks selected Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingas fourth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, boos rained down from the crowd in Brooklyn, mostly from Knicks fans unfamiliar with his name and his game. But in just a few Las Vegas Summer League appearances, as’s Shaun Powell writes, Porzingas is showing he may be a perfect fit for New York City

When asked how he handled his nerves in his debut, Porzingis said quickly: “I told myself to chill out.”

His English is amazingly sharp and he carries himself well. Basically, he gets it, even at a very young age. of course, there’s still the big question: Can he play?

Well, that won’t be known in summer league, which should be taken for what it’s worth. Still, after four days in Vegas, he hasn’t backed down. He’s built like a Twizzler but isn’t afraid to mix it up. He goes in traffic with the ball and also after the ball for rebounds. He has challenged players at the rim and is showing a knack for blocking shots. Again, Summer League is all about learning if the player has the basics to survive in the NBA, and Porzingis is showing that.

The main drawback for Porzingis is his lack of strength. He’ll get easily boxed out for rebounds when the real games begin. And his dribble game is merely adequate.

The Knicks were smitten by his height, his athletic ability and his jumper, and so far have no reason to be disappointed. Porzingis has the shooting range to stretch defenses. He can be very useful in the pick-and-pop (assuming his body can withstand the pick part) and can be dangerous behind the 3-point line. And he gets to the free-throw line. Again, this is Summer League, and Porzingis is a work in progress. but the more you watch, the more you get the feeling that Phil Jackson didn’t draft the next Andrea Bargnani.

“He’s really interesting to watch and his growth is going to be interesting to see,” said Jackson. “It looks like he can hold his own out there. I think he’s going to find a comfort zone.”


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: John Wall thinks he should be making more money than Reggie Jackson … The Lakers are making moves to strengthen their analytics department … The Thunder traded Perry Jones III to Boston … Catching up with former Knicks lottery pick Frederic Weis

Oden’s Comeback Destination Due In Days


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — His workouts complete, his guests leaving in some mixture of intrigued and wary, sidelined center Greg Oden could choose the NBA team with which he’ll attempt his latest comeback as soon as Monday, one of his agents said Friday.

Six teams are believed to have scouted the 7-footer — the No. 1 pick in the 2007 Draft who has played a total of 82 games in six years due to multiple knee injuries — in workouts in Oden’s native Indianapolis, including Miami, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio, Atlanta and Dallas.

Agent Bill Duffy declined to reveal details, but said contract talks have ranged from general conversation to more specific terms, as the teams consider both the rewards and the risks of signing a premier talent whose body, thus far, has been unable to withstand the rigors of NBA play.

“Physically, he’s awesome,” Duffy said Friday afternoon. “We’re very happy with where he is. [His health and impact are] going to depend on monitoring him and his minutes.”

Oden, 25, has not played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009. Four days earlier, in his final full performance for Portland against Miami, he had 13 points, 20 rebounds and four blocked shots in 30 minutes.

In 61 games in 2008-09 and 21 the next season, Oden averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 22.1 minutes while shooting 57.7 percent. He has had three microfracture knee surgeries, which might dissuade teams from offering more than a veteran’s minimum salary, perhaps with appearance-driven incentives.

Another of Oden’s agents is Mike Conley, Sr., whose son is a point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies and a friend from their days together in high school and college. Mike Conley Jr. told Sean Deveney the Sporting News this week that he thinks Oden, in spurts, might be able to help a team.

“I expect him to come back and be someone who in short periods of time can dominate a game,” Conley said. “Just let him build up and get back to himself. I think it would be a little unfair to put him out there and give him 40 minutes.”

The NBA has a checkered history of players who have managed to return from career-threatening injuries. Miami president Pat Riley recently talked about players such as Kurt Thomas and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, both of whom were hampered for several seasons by foot problems, yet revived their careers through rehab. Guard Shaun Livingston, now with Brooklyn, is another whose NBA days seemed in 2007 after a leg injury captured in a gruesome YouTube video.

But Oden’s teammate in Portland, Brandon Roy, was unsuccessful in a comeback attempt last fall with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Houston’s 7-foot-6 Yao Ming ultimately was forced into retirement at age 30 in 2011 by chronic foot fractures.

The best spot for Oden to land? That likely depends on a team’s balance sheet, its risk tolerance and its commitment to patience and modest results. The teams showing interest in Oden run the gamut, from the NBA’s two-time defending champions in Miami and perennial contenders in San Antonio, to lottery teams last season in New Orleans, Sacramento and Dallas. Atlanta, too, is in the midst of an overhaul and shopping.

Portland, the team that drafted Oden over No. 2 Kevin Durant six years ago and paid him more than $23 million for the equivalent of one season’s production, apparently is not interested. Curiously, a team missing from the list of six is Phoenix, which has one of the most respected training staffs in the league that’s been a draw for ailing players such as Grant Hill and Jermaine O’Neal.

Should Oden reach a deal with Miami, the spotlight on him will be hotter than with any of the other five. He’ll risk being seen as something of a front-runner, as he would to a lesser extent with the Spurs. Then again, Miami took a similar flyer on Eddy Curry without much clamor and facilitated Chris [Birdman] Andersen‘s return as a valuable contributor who never rocked the Big Three boat of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Any of the teams lower in the pecking order — the Pelicans, Kings, Hornets or Hawks — could offer more modest expectations. And if Oden were to stay healthy and help one of them, he might find himself with more supporters nationally and globally than he would by jumping aboard the Miami or San Antonio bandwagons.

“We’ve looked at all the scenarios,” Duffy said Friday. “There might be less pressure if he tries this with a team that’s rebuilding. Then again, the quality of the medical staff will matter. Maybe a winning team has chemistry that’s good or his role would be clearly defined.”

Oden’s choice, assuming he picks from among multiple offers, will affect not only his NBA future but the number of people rooting for him to have one.