Posts Tagged ‘NBA Summer League’

Popovich on Hammon: ‘We think she’s a star’

VIDEO: Becky Hammon has had a big impact on the NBA already

The most popular coach this summer in San Antonio was not Gregg Popovich. Well, there’s a reason for that. Pop took the summer off to recover from that epic first-round loss to Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers — “he’s probably the best in the league at figuring out what’s got to get done and how to do it,” Pop said — and travel with pals.

But he wasn’t too far removed from one of the summer’s bigger NBA stories: Becky Hammon and her highly-visible presence at the Las Vegas Summer League, where she led the Spurs to the title as the team’s coach. No, Pop didn’t miss any of that.

“How could I?” he said.

Then he added: “It became such a big deal, and it’s not why we did it.”

Popovich means the Spurs didn’t hire Hammon last summer as an assistant coach to make a statement or trigger a breakthrough for women or even plot a way to get Hammon an NBA coaching job. He said he hired Hammon because he liked her potential and thought she could help, the same way he hires anyone.

That said …

“We think she’s a star as far as understanding the game,” Popovich said. “Ever since the first time I saw her play (in the WNBA), chewing that gum, taking no prisoners on the court, we thought she was something special. And then when we got to know her, and her being with us for a whole year and in our coach’s meetings, then I knew for sure that she’s a basketball junkie.”

As the newest hire, Hammon followed protocol and sat behind the Spurs bench during the season, but her input was weighed the same as anyone else’s. Then Popovich gave her the Vegas Summer League assignment. Hammon lost the first game … and then won the rest. More importantly, she showed a command of the huddle and substitution patterns, all while handling the anticipated media crush like a veteran. In all, she looked like she belonged.

Popovich wasn’t surprised: “She’s got great ideas, got a great way about her, guys respect her. I think we’re lucky to have her in the program.”

Of course, the question begs: How much longer will Hammon be in the program? After Vegas, there was seemingly a rush to make her a head coaching candidate, which was partly media-fueled but NBA front-office types also pitched in (anonymously) and and said she was on the right track (if not the fast track). When is an assistant coach ready to be a head coach?

“That’s a great question,” Popovich said. “There’s not a formula, nor does a bell go off. The first step in deciding if someone’s ready is how they feel about it. You take a Steve Kerr or Avery Johnson or Mike Budenholzer. Usually the situation decides it because you don’t know if something becomes available that fits you. If the situation presents itself and the individual feels they want to go for it, the only real decision is: is it time?

“I think the person who takes the job knows more than I do. You’re not ready until you take the job. And as we know, everything changes when you take that one seat over. You get ready once you take that seat.”

Hammon will get that seat once she feels she’s ready and another team feels she’s ready. Also, figure that Popovich will have a say in the matter; Hammon will run any and everything by him first.

Until then, as Pop said, the Spurs are lucky to have her. And vice versa.


Hang Time Podcast (Episode 206) Summer Wrap

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The end of one season and the start of the next used to be well-defined.

We’d go from the NBA regular season to the playoffs, the playoffs to the Draft and from the Draft to free agency and then on to the Summer League season before the league would go dark for at least a month or two. But no more.

The blending of the seasons in the NBA is complete. And it’s all one great big glorious blur of hoops hysteria that feeds the insatiable appetites of the masses. There’s no sense in complaining about it, this non-stop barrage of games, Drafts, free agent fevers, Summer League’s and the like. It’s best to buckle up and just go along for the ride.

Besides, what would your summer have been like without Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Jahlil Okafor, Kristap Porzingis and the rest of the incoming rookie class? Or headline makers like DeAndre Jordan, Mark Cuban, Doc Rivers, Blake Griffin, Chandler Parsons and everyone else involved in the Clippers-Mavericks free agent drama?

And that’s just the beginning of the conversation that includes an endless supply of moves and rumored moves (DeMarcus Cousins is still a member of the Sacramento Kings, as of this moment) that have kept our cups running over this summer.

Now we’re debating which comes first, a lady in the Oval Office (perhaps a Clinton …) or one on the bench as a pioneer as the first female head coach (Becky Hammon, anyone …) in the NBA?

How we got from the Golden State Warriors and KIA MVP Steph Curry winning it all for the first time in 40 years to Seth Curry stealing the show in the Las Vegas Summer League in roughly a month’s time is anyone’s guess. But we do our best to sort through it all, and more, on Episode 206 of the Hang Time Podcast … Summer Wrap!


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of,  Lang Whitaker of’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

VIDEO: Expectations are soaring for Kristap Porzingis after the New York Knicks’ rookie impressed at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas

Blogtable: Extend the season?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: Extend the season? | Rethinking age limit? | Upset-minded East playoff team?

VIDEOThe Starters give their view on extending the season into July

> The NBA says it is considering spacing out the 82-game regular season, and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is already on record saying he won’t be working in July. Are hot dogs, apple pie and basketball a good mix on Independence Day?

Steve Aschburner, NBA in July? No thank you. The season goes deep enough into the calendar as it is, players already are squeezed for offseason recovery and down time, there is lots of business already requiring the summer months (draft, Las Vegas, free agency, FIBA). The obvious fix is to shorten the preseason by a week to 10 days, play three or four tuneup games instead of seven or eight and start the NBA schedule a week before Halloween.

Fran Blinebury, The idea is a bigger dud than a wet firecracker on the Fourth of July. The season is already long … too long. With many players choosing to play for their national teams — Tony Parker and Nicolas Batum have already said they’re in for France at EuroBasket next summer — the offseason time to rest and heal would be shortened further.  On one hand, the commissioner talks of trimming off a few preseason games to provide more down time.  On the other, he has already lengthened the All-Star break to a week to make less.  The only truly serious solution to the problem of debilitating fatigue is simple — a shorter schedule, say 66 or 70 games. That would require owners netting less money from fewer home games and require players taking a corresponding cut in contracts. Both sides, of course, are due a windfall when the new TV contracts kick in. But neither side is willing to forgo a dollar. So it is all talk, some of it just silly, with a few cosmetic changes.

Scott Howard-Cooper, Sure. It will look weird at first and feel strange on the body clock because other big events will have to be pushed back –the Draft, NBA Summer League –but that’s nothing compared to the benefit: better play. Fewer back-to-backs or three games in four nights is a good thing for rosters and, therefore, a good thing for fans. There has to be some give as most people agree the extended All-Star break is a valuable rest stop and the idea of a little more breathing room in the schedule is a positive. Turning another page on the calendar, and it might not since that would mean the season going some two weeks longer now, would be a small price to pay.

Shaun Powell, No, no, no! Basketball isn’t meant to go beyond Father’s Day, let alone July 4th. Stretching the season is a sure way to turn off some hardcore fans (casual fans would flee like Russell Westbrook on the fast break). If the owners and players and networks really cared about the quality of the game, they would agree to play a 70-game schedule, eliminate exhibition games, start the season by mid-October, eliminate four-games-in-five-nights, reduce back-to-backs, and return to best-of-five for first-round playoff series. Which means, it’ll never happen because money always gets in the way.

John Schuhmann, I don’t like the idea of pushing into July. I’m all for limiting the preseason to just one or two games and starting the regular season in mid-October, though. That should eliminate four-games-in-five-nights scenarios and reduce the number of back-to-backs. And I think a 72-game schedule (three games against each team in your conference, two against the opposite conference) would help alleviate wear and tear and put extra value on every game.

Sekou Smith, I’m with Pop on this one. There is no need to drag the NBA season into July. That’s Summer League time anyway. I understand the need, for some, to always be about the business of advancing things and tinkering with things for the sake of tinkering. Growing the game (the number of teams, the size and scope of the pool of players, viewership around the globe, etc.) has always the been the rule. And we’ve all benefited from that growth. But bigger isn’t always better, at least not in this case. If we’re going to mess with the NBA schedule, the move needs to be pushing back the start of the regular season until Thanksgiving or Christmas and shortening the 82-game season by roughly 12 games. I don’t think there is any doubt that fans would appreciate the quality of that sort of NBA season over the quantity that Pop (and so many others of us opposed to a 4th of July NBA Finals) is balking at with the spaced out 82-game regular season.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.comEverything changes. Of all the changes that have transformed the NBA since the 1979 arrival of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird — overhauls of salary structure, media coverage (including social media), refereeing, global drafting and on and on — the idea of tacking on a few more days is almost not worthy of argument. As the money and the demands grow ever larger, it’s inevitable that the season will keep growing longer.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: To be honest, nothing other than Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are a good mix on Independence Day. The NBA season need to be done by then, and preferably a few weeks before then. The obvious way to fix this — to space out the schedule while ending the season before July — is to shorten the season. It doesn’t have to be radical — maybe you could shave off 6 or 8 games. Or just cancel the preseason and back up the start of the regular season by a couple of weeks. Either way, whatever you do, I think we all agree that our Independence Day should be properly celebrated by sitting back and watching Randy Quaid invoke the words of his generation while flying a fighter plane nose-first into an alien spaceship. Not by watching the NBA.

J.R. Smith hopes to stick

Posted by Art Garcia

LAS VEGASJ.R. Smith scored only nine points in Denver’s win Chicago to open up Day 5. Making the big club could be tough.

“I feel great about my chances,” he joked. “I feel like a young guy again.”
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Smith is actually in the desert rehabbing his left ankle. The Nuggets gunner started, played almost 16 minutes and knocked down 3 of 5 shots. He’s possibly suiting up against tomorrow against Houston.

“Just working out,” Smith said. “I might as well play in something like this than play in a high school gym and get hurt, so you might as well play against young talent you’ll play against during the season.”

Second-year point guard Ty Lawson continued his strong summer stint with a team-high 18 points and four assists in 20 minutes. Lawson is expected to be the primary backup for Chauncey Billups this season.

“He’s gotten a lot better,” Smith said. “You can see it overnight. He’s pointing guys in the right direction, he’s telling guys the right thing, so I’m proud of him.”

John Wall has strong debut

Posted by Art Garcia

LAS VEGAS — They came to see John Wall and they weren’t disappointed.

More than 4,000 curious souls packed COX Pavilion for the first true event of the desert version of Summer League. The No. 1 pick of the Draft donned an NBA uniform for the first time — albeit a practice version — in a competitive environment and quarterbacked Washington past Golden State 84-79 on Day 3.
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Wall finished with a team-high 24 points (7-of-15 shooting) and dished out a game-high eight assists. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, as the one-year Kentucky phenom and new face of the Wizards coughed up the ball eight times in 33 minutes.

“I feel like I did good,” the 19-year-old point guard said. “At first I had the jitters. A little too many turnovers in my debut, but I think as it goes along I’ll calm those down.”

Wall displayed a confident streak and quickly developed an on-court rapport with JaVale McGee, connecting with the third-year center on several lobs and drop-offs under the basket. He’s was clearly Washington’s leader on the floor.

“Guy got 24 and 8, and he played kind of an average game,” Wizards coach Flip Saunders said. “That shows you the kind of game he has. He’s used to this. This is how it’s been since senior year in high school.

“Kentucky is the same way, so I think he’s comfortable in this kind of environment. I think he looks forward to this kind of environment. It gets him going and juices him up even more.”

Wall is going to be a hunted man for the rest of Summer League, but that’s nothing new for the former McDonald’s All-American and last season’s National Freshman of the Year. Washington faces the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.

Wall started slowly, missing his first jumper badly and getting rejected at the basket on his second shot. He settled in soon after and drilled a jumper 5 1/2 minutes into the first quarter, bringing a healthy reaction from the sold-out crowd. Summer League officials shut down ticket windows before the game.

“Playing a real game with the crowd there, I haven’t done in a while, so the nerves were there a little bit,” Wall said.

Rookies Gelling In New York

Posted by Drew Packham

LAS VEGAS — They may have been taken in the second round, but the Knicks’ two Draft day additions are gelling, hoping to become immediate contributors in Mike D’Antoni’s system.

In their debuts Sunday in Las Vegas, Andy Rautins and Landry Fields — taken 38th and 39th respectively — looked comfortable and expressed confidence in grasping the nuances of the NBA game.
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Rautins, a guard out of Syracuse, finished with 11 points, going 3-for-8 on 3-pointers, while Fields had 13 points and five rebounds. The pair combined for five steals and seemed relieved afterwards to have their debuts out of the way.

“I just wanted to get out there and have a solid first game,” Fields said. “I didn’t try to do too much, but it’s good to have one under my belt.”

The 6-foot-7 Fields was 6-for-7 from the field and sees himself evolving into a 2 or 3 with the Knicks.

“I’m working on having a quicker release on my shot, because that’s where I’m going to find most of my shots in this system,” said Fields, who was the Pac-10’s leading scorer last year with a 22-point average. “I’ve been working on some corner things, so I need to get it off quicker.”

Rautins says defense is his priority and the growing pains of being a rookie are all relative.

“I don’t think there’s any pain we’re going through,” Rautins said. “It’s a joy to play basketball every day and I’ve become close to Landry.”

Fields, for his part, is also glad to have a rookie cohort.

“Off the court and on the court, we’re close already so the chemistry’s been great and I hope it continues like that,” Fields said. “You’ve got to stick together and in this business you’ve got to find someone, so I’m glad I’ve found him so far.”

John Wall debuts in Vegas

Posted by Art Garcia

LAS VEGASJohn Wall begins the next phase of a potentially special career today as Washington tips off its five-game Summer League schedule against Golden State. The No. 1 pick in last month’s Draft is over the groin injury that kept him out of Friday’s practice and ready to go.
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“It’s going to be great,” Wall told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I’m sure there are going to be a lot of butterflies, but I just want to go out and play and run the team.”

Wizards fans are looking for a leader in more ways than one after last season disintegrated with the Gilbert Arenas mess. The 6-foot-4 point guard from Kentucky understands the expectations placed on his 19-year-old shoulders, and sounds up for the challenge.

“Basically, I want to play my game, get to know my teammates and learn the system,” Wall said. “It’s like what I went through in college — I was a freshman who was coming into a new system with a new coach and new teammates.

“I think it might be a little easier this time because this is my job now. It’s just basketball.”

Washington’s squad also includes rookies Trevor Booker and Hamady N’diaye, and JaVale McGee and Cartier Martin from the Wizards’ regular-season roster. But all eyes at the COX Pavilion, which has enjoyed solid attendance the first two days, are going to be focused on Wall. Game time is 5 p.m. PT.

“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “They always get nice crowds in Vegas, and you always like having people in the stands there to watch you play. It makes it a little more exciting.”

Nuggets C Butch injures knee

Posted by Art Garcia

LAS VEGAS — The COX Pavilion became eerily silent this afternoon, expect for the shrieks of pain from Nuggets center Brian Butch. The free agent and former D-League All-Star dislocated his left patella tendon in a gruesome fall under the basket against the Lakers.
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Butch couldn’t contain his agony as trainers from Denver and several other teams worked to stabilize his knee/leg. He was taken off the floor via a stretcher, giving a thumbs-up on the way out.

Butch’s parents and girlfriend came down from the stands for the trip to a local hospital. The 6-foot-11 product out of Wisconsin was signed by the Nuggets in April, but didn’t see any action during the regular season.

Nuggets released the following Saturday night: 

Nuggets C Brian Butch dislocated his left patella during the third quarter of today’s 92-74 summer league win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Butch will return to Denver on Monday and will be examined by Nuggets Team Physician, Dr. Steve Traina.

Pistons trainer ejected

Posted by Art Garcia

LAS VEGAS — Legendary Pistons trainer Mike Abdenour was thrown out — really — in the third quarter against the Lakers for apparently arguing for an eight-second violation that wasn’t called.
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“I have no idea what happened,” Abdenour said as he watched the game from the side of the bleachers just off the court. “Just the competiveness of the game. We’ll just chalk it up to that.”

Summer League referee Mark Lindsey gave Abdenour the first technical, which was quickly followed by another from Casey Harp. Even though he was ejected, Abdenour was ready to return to action if needed by any of the Detroit players.

Abdenour took the odd situation in stride and wasn’t aware if getting tossed in Summer League carried a fine. If so, perhaps some good would come of it.

“I’ll make a charitable contribution,” he quipped.

Cuban sides with Gilbert

Posted by Art Garcia

LAS VEGASMark Cuban didn’t take issue with Dan Gilbert‘s open letter to Cavaliers fans taking LeBron James to task. The outspoken Mavericks owner sounds like he would have done the same thing.
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“I don’t blame him,” Cuban said as the NBA Summer League opened in Las Vegas. “It’s the same passion and emotion that comes with owning a team. You’re not just a robot. You put your heart, your soul and every bit of your emotion into owning a team.

“You connect to the community. You feel an obligation to the community, Dallas, Cleveland, Northeast Ohio, whatever it may be. You’re kind of the caretaker. You feel responsible. You have responsibility not just for winning, but for the whole community.”

Cuban didn’t necessarily condemn LeBron’s handling of the situation, which culminated in Thursday night’s one-hour TV spectacle.

“The way it was all handled, I understand why they did it from LeBron’s camp,” Cuban said. “That’s great, they made the decision they thought was right, but on the flipside I understand where Dan was coming from because he was put in a very difficult situation and I would have been upset, too.”

Asked if Gilbert took the scathing letter too far — James was called a “heartless” for his “cowardly betrayal” — Cuban again sided with his fellow owner.

“He sent a message,” Cuban said. “The message was received loud and clear. He didn’t mince any words of where he stood. It wasn’t like if he didn’t write it he would have approached it any differently. But he sent a message to everybody involved exactly what he was feeling.”

Cuban also raised the question whether the league’s tampering rules should be altered in response to some of the recruiting methods used during free agency. As for another team repeating a Miami-like haul of James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, Cuban isn’t holding his breath.

“Let’s put it this way,” he said, “it’s never worked for anyone else in the past. Ever.”