Giannis Antetokounmpo

Mavs Notes: Smith, Antetokounmpo, Centers, Curry

Although they enjoyed a 32-point win over the Bucks on Saturday, the Mavericks have struggled to find their rhythm early on this season, going 3-14 through their first 17 games and finding themselves in last place in the Western Conference.

Despite the rough start, however, head coach Rick Carlisle is not going to let his star rookie Dennis Smith Jr. pick up any losing habits. According to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News, Carlisle and Smith spend a lot of time together, one-on-one, going over film, both before and after games.

“He’s an important part of our team,” Carlisle said. “It’s gotten to the point where our winning is largely dependent on him playing well, which is a great compliment to him and what he’s been able to establish.”

There’s more from Dallas:

  • Saturday was a bittersweet night for the Mavericks. While they beat the Bucks handily, they were also reminded of what they missed out on after passing on Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. As Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News highlights, it was owner Mark Cuban who ultimately made the decision not to select Antetokounmpo.
  • According to Carlisle, Seth Curry is not expected to be back on the court this week, tweets Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. There is no timetable for Curry’s return.
  • Despite having “a forklift full of centers,” the Mavericks are aware that the position is somewhat of a roulette wheel at the moment, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News“It’s a bit of a by-committee position,” Carlisle said. “The guys got to roll with it and understand the things they do may only fit in certain stretches.”

Central Notes: Turner, LaVine, Antetokounmpo

The Pacers will see Myles Turner return to action tonight, Nate McMillan told the media, including the team’s official Twitter account. Turner has missed seven games since suffering a concussion in the team’s season opening victory.

Turner, 21 years old, is the new cornerstone of the Pacers franchise now that Paul George is off with the Thunder. He will, however, be charged with the tough task of sliding into a lineup that has found success playing a faster style of basketball than what he saw over the course of his rookie and sophomore seasons.

Last year Turner averaged 14.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. If he can return to action alongside his new and familiar Pacers teammates without disrupting the 5-3 squad’s flow, Indiana could be even better than they’ve looked thus far. Turner will come off the bench in his debut.

There’s more from the Central Division:

Central Notes: Portis, Doncic, James, Antetokounmpo

Bulls forward Bobby Portis issued a public apology today for the punch that injured teammate Nikola Mirotic, relays K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. The altercation left Mirotic with a concussion and two fractured facial bones that will sideline him for about a month. Portis received an eight-game suspension, cutting further into Chicago’s frontcourt depth.

Portis expressed regret for the punch and said he hopes Mirotic will heal quickly. He has tried calling and texting his teammate, but Mirotic hasn’t responded. There’s a possibility that Mirotic will take legal action, which could extend the story through the rest of the season. “Going forward, I want to make sure that me and Niko are cool and that we can be teammates again,” Portis said. “I’m pretty sure we can. We just have to repair the relationship.”

There’s more news from the Central Division:

  • If Chicago winds up with the top pick in the draft, former Bulls center Pau Gasol knows who they should take, Johnson writes in a separate piece. Gasol, who was in town with the Spurs for a game tonight, offered a hearty endorsement of Slovenian star Luka Doncic, whom he faced in this year’s Eurobasket semifinals. “He’s a very, very talented player. It’s really rare how well this guy plays at his age [18]. He just continues to grow,” Gasol said. “It’s the right path. You see a guy who has done really well so far and is an exceptional young player with great size, great fundamentals, great composure, great poise to his game for his age — for any age for that matter.”
  • Friday’s matchup between the Bucks and Cavaliers was the latest opportunity for Giannis Antetokounmpo to show he’s on LeBron James‘ level, notes Vincent Goodwill of Bleacher Report. Although Antetokounmpo outscored James, 34-24, the Cavs claimed a decisive victory. The “Greek Freak” is posting MVP numbers through the first week of the season, and at age 22 he seems destined to someday become the best player in the league. “You understand the magnitude of it, and you still wanna claim your throne as well,” said Cleveland guard Dwyane Wade. “You don’t want them to push you off it. It was a great matchup watching those two guys do everything that’s needed for their team.”
  • J.R. Smith believes offseason moves have given the Cavaliers the league’s deepest team, relays Dave McMenamin of ESPN.  “You can go around from 6 through 12 or whatever and mark it up against anybody else’s bench, and by far, we got the best bench,” said Smith, who became part of that reserve unit when the Cavs signed Wade. “And we have more experience too.”

NBA GMs Weigh In On 2017/18 Season

NBA.com has completed its annual survey of NBA general managers, with John Schuhmann of NBA.com asking each of the league’s 30 GMs an array of questions about the league’s top teams, players, and coaches. To no one’s surprise, the Warriors are viewed by the NBA’s general managers as the overwhelming favorite to win the 2017/18 championship, with 28 of 30 GMs (93%) picking Golden State to repeat.

While there are many responses in the GM survey worth checking out, we’ll focus on rounding up some of the more interesting ones related to rosters and player movement. Let’s dive in…

  • Although half of the league’s GMs picked LeBron James as the 2017/18 MVP winner, LeBron only finished third in voting for the player GMs would want to start a franchise with today. Karl-Anthony Towns (29%) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (21%) were the top vote-getters for that question.
  • NBA general managers loved the Thunder‘s acquisition of Paul George. George received 59% of the vote for which offseason addition would make the biggest impact, easily beating out Jimmy Butler (17%), Chris Paul (10%), and Kyrie Irving (7%). Additionally, Oklahoma City was chosen as the team that made the best offseason moves, with 43% of the vote. The Celtics (25%), Timberwolves (14%), and Rockets (11%) were runners-up.
  • The Nuggets‘ signing of Paul Millsap (24%) and the Pistons‘ trade for Avery Bradley (17%) were regarded by NBA GMs as the most underrated acquisitions of the summer.
  • The Timberwolves (69%) were the runaway choice for most improved team, beating out the Sixers (17%) and a handful of other clubs. Of course, it’s worth noting that Minnesota was also the GMs’ pick for that question a year ago.
  • While Dennis Smith Jr. of the Mavericks (37%) was voted the biggest steal of the 2017 draft, most GMs expect Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball (62%) to win the Rookie of the Year award.

Central Notes: Wade, Bucks, Antetokounmpo

Speculation that Dwyane Wade could become a free agent this offseason hit a new level this week when the Bulls guard said that he’d be willing to sit down and chat about his future with the organization. If he were to be bought out in order to pursue a role elsewhere, what sort of impact could he reasonably expect to make? Frank Urbina of HoopsHype decided to take a look.

The two teams most often linked to Wade have been the Cavaliers and the Heat. A move to Cleveland would pair Wade with former teammate LeBron James while Miami is, of course, the place he spent the first 13 seasons of his career. Urbina, however, argues that the 35-year-old could have more suitors than just that and could end up being a game-changing reserve for a team’s second-unit if he parts ways with the Bulls.

In a comprehensive look at the type of value Wade is still capable of providing in the twilight of his career, Urbina writes that the Bulls vet has carved out a few reliable offensive moves that have helped him remain competitive despite dwindling athleticism, including an impressive post-up game and a potent fadeaway jumper.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Shortly after the news of Kyrie Irving‘s trade request broke, Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman was formally offered his position. His first order of business, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe writes, was to gauge if the point guard was serious. “I think we were in information-collecting mode when stuff first broke,” Altman said. “We had numerous teams call about it.
  • The Bucks have seen their season ticket numbers rise this summer on the heels of a solid 2016/17 and the looming benefits of a new venue. James Nelson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that the franchise is selling multi-year packs that will give fans the chance to watch the team in the BMO Harris Bradley Center this season and the team’s yet-to-be-named new facility in 2018/19.
  • Ever wonder just how much of a physical advantage Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has over some of his opponents? A post on Reddit demonstrates just how big the 22-year-old’s hands really are.

East Notes: Wizards, Brown, Tatum

The Wizards have gone all-in on preserving their core and head coach Scott Brooks understands just how important that can be. Brooks has, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes, seen what happens when a promising young roster falls apart thanks to his time with the Thunder.

We have our three players that we drafted all wanting to stay here and stay long-term,” the Wizards’ bench boss said. “That’s good. That’s good because if you don’t have your best players wanting to stay here, then nobody wants to stay here.

Thanks to Wizards’ owner Ted Leonsis‘ willingness to commit to their young players, Washington was able to match the offer sheet that the Nets signed Otto Porter to this summer and then follow that up with a supermax contract extension for John Wall.

Under their current deals, Wall, Beal and Porter will be under Wizards control for seven total years. Eight, if Porter ultimately exercises his player option for the 2020-21 season.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

And-Ones: Antetokounmpo, Teodosic, Sources, 2018 Standings

Bucks‘ All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was ruled out of Eurobasket earlier this week, which was met with disdain from the Greek basketball federation. The group accused the Bucks and NBA orchestrating an “organized and well-staged plan” to keep Antetokounmpo out of the event. However, a statement from the NBA reported by the Associated Press (via ESPN) explicitly denied the allegation.

“The NBA and the Milwaukee Bucks have followed all appropriate protocol under the NBA-FIBA agreement,” the NBA’s statement reads. “Giannis has an injury that has been confirmed through multiple examinations and any suggestion to the contrary is false.”

The Bucks explained that Antetokounmpo reported knee pain while training in Greece. The saga does not end there as, after a series of communications between the Bucks and the Greek team, Antetokounmpo was ultimately pulled from the tournament after the knee ailment did not improve. This subsequently led to the allegations that both the NBA and Bucks purposely sabotaged Antetokounmpo’s stint.

After a tremendous season with Milwaukee last season and major expectations for 2017/18, Antetokounmpo’s NBA future will be his most important.

Read up on more news around the basketball universe below:

  • Antetokounmpo will not be the only major name to be pulled from Eurobasket this week as the Clippers‘ major international signee, Milos Teodosic, will also not compete in the event, per Eurohoops (via Twitter).
  • As part of an in-depth look at the reporting side of the NBA, Steven Kyler of Basketball Insiders breaks down how “sources” work. Kyler explains how information is gathered from agents, front office personnel, the players, and other people inside the industry that leads to the stories that are reported across the internet.
  • As part of its Summer Forecast series, ESPN has released its predictions for standings in both the Western and Eastern conferences.

And-Ones: Antetokounmpo, EuroBasket, Anthony

Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s decision to skip EuroBasket is causing international conspiracy accusations, relays Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In a message written in Greek, Antetokounmpo announced on social media this morning that he will miss the tournament to keep from aggravating a knee injury. He is serving as an NBA ambassador this week in China, where he failed a physical administered by team doctors for the Bucks. Antetokounmpo called the decision to pull out of EuroBasket “by far the biggest disappointment in my career.”

However, the Greek basketball federation is casting doubt on the injury, claiming it’s a ruse by the Bucks to keep Antetokounmpo out of the competition. “A series of clues by which we were particularly worried about since Giannis arrived in Greece and the national team training camp started, had created the conviction of an organized and well-staged plan by the NBA franchise in which Giannis has signed,” the organization charged in a written statement translated by Eurohoops.net. EuroBasket will get under way August 31st.

There’s more NBA-related news from around the world:

  • Two players who will be part of EuroBasket are Magic teammates Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier, who faced off in a preparation game today, relays Josh Cohen of NBA.com. Fournier’s French team, the defending champions of the event, easily dispatched Vucevic’s Montenegro squad, 100-70. The French roster is stocked with current and former NBA players, including Boris Diaw, Joffrey Lauvergne and Nando de Colo.
  • The KnicksCarmelo Anthony, who has been the subject of trade rumors nearly all summer, makes a Basketball Insiders list of players who could most benefit from a deal. Anthony has been at an impasse for weeks, as he will reportedly only waive his no-trade clause to go to Houston, and the Rockets and Knicks have been unable to craft a mutually acceptable deal. Others who could use a change of scenery, according to the Basketball Insiders panel, are the SixersJahlil Okafor and the SunsEric Bledsoe.
  • An ESPN panel reacted to the network’s projected standings for the upcoming season by picking the teams most likely to outperform and underperform their rankings. The Sixers got multiple votes for both categories in relation to a projected 37-45 record.

Central Notes: Kennard, D. Williams, Antetokounmpo

The Pistons are more optimistic than ever about rookie Luke Kennard after watching his summer league performance, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. The 12th pick in this year’s draft, Kennard averaged 17.2 points per game as Detroit’s team advanced to the finals in Orlando. He made 11 of 23 shots from 3-point range during the 10-day competition and eased any fears the Pistons may have harbored about his defense.

“Pretty much what we thought offensively, maybe even did a better job passing the ball than I thought,” said coach/executive Stan Van Gundy. “He’s able to make plays off the dribble , that nice change of pace, and things I hadn’t seen a lot of. He really has a great feel for the game and how to play in addition to clearly his ability to shoot the ball.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Richard Jefferson offered some insight on his Road Trippin’ podcast about why Deron Williams is unlikely to return to the Cavaliers, relays Daniel Rappaport of Sports Illustrated. Jefferson said the veteran guard’s “eyes did not light up” about coming off the bench in Cleveland, but joked that the Warriors’ “eyes lit up” whenever Williams checked into the Finals. Williams didn’t turn out to be a good fit for the Cavs after joining the team in late February in the wake of buyout with the Mavericks. He was particularly bad in the Finals, shooting 2 of 16 for the series and averaging 1.0 points and 1.2 assists per game. Williams’ contract with Cleveland expired after the season, and he remains a free agent.
  • Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose $100MM extension begins with the start of the season, has another big payday ahead, writes Nick DePaula of ESPN. He will be a free agent in the shoe market at the end of September after making just $25K from Nike last year and expects to top that figure several times over. Antetokounmpo is hoping to exceed the nearly $5MM-per-year deal that Kristaps Porzingis received from Adidas, with one industry specialist speculating that he could receive $7MM to $10MM annually.
  • The Bucks won’t be the only team playing at their new arena, according to the Associated Press. The NBA team has reached a seven-year agreement allowing Marquette to use the facility, which is expected to open ahead of the 2018/19 season.

Kyrie Irving Rumors: Spurs, Celtics, Porzingis

If the Cavaliers had received assurances from LeBron James that he intends to remain with the franchise beyond the 2017/18 season, their approach to a Kyrie Irving trade might be much different, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. While the Cavs certainly haven’t given up hope of James remaining in Cleveland, the franchise wants to use an Irving trade to protect itself against his possible departure — that means focusing on acquiring a young potential star, rather than targeting veteran help for LeBron.

Initially, the Cavs’ desire in an Irving trade was to acquire young players and picks that could help the team down the road and to get pieces that could help the club contend immediately. However, that kind of massive return may not be available for the star point guard, forcing the Cavaliers to choose one path or the other. And with LeBron unwilling to commit, the Cavs are leaning toward prioritizing long-term pieces over short-term help.

As Wojnarowski details, Josh Jackson (Suns), Jayson Tatum (Celtics), Jamal Murray (Nuggets), and even Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks) are among the young players the Cavaliers have their eye on in trade talks. In his own piece on the situation in Cleveland, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders agrees that those four teams – Phoenix, Boston, Denver, and New York – are mentioned most frequently as trade partners, and continue to have discussions with the Cavs.

Here’s plenty more on the Irving situation:

  • According to both Wojnarowski and Kyler, teams around the NBA believe that the Cavaliers will ramp up trade talks and get more serious about moving Irving in September, with training camps approaching.
  • The Spurs have interest in Irving, but the fact that the Cavs are prioritizing young potential stars over veteran help means Cleveland doesn’t have much interest in the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, or Danny Green, says Wojnarowski.
  • Although the Cavaliers are intrigued by Tatum, the Celtics have yet to make an official offer for Irving and the two sides haven’t formally discussed this year’s No. 3 overall pick, according to Wojnarowski. Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe adds (via Twitter) that Boston has remained in touch with the Cavs throughout the process.
  • The idea of including Porzingis in an Irving offer is currently a “non-starter” for the Knicks, per Wojnarowski. However, Woj adds there may still be some lingering tension between Porzingis and the franchise, and teams are wondering how emphatic the Knicks’ “no” really is — especially if the Cavaliers would be willing to take on Joakim Noah‘s contract.
  • Wojnarowski reports that the Bucks have shown interest in Irving. However, with Giannis Antetokounmpo obviously untouchable, Milwaukee may not have a young star who makes sense for the Cavs.
  • Although the Clippers have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Irving, a league source tells Kyler that L.A. doesn’t appear to have the right combination of assets to appeal to the Cavs — a third team would be necessary, and even that may not be enough to make the Clips a serious contender for Irving.
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