Ricky Rubio

Pacific Notes: Kaminsky, Green, Clippers, Holmes

While it’s common for NBA players who changed teams in the offseason to talk in the fall about how much they’re enjoying their new homes, Suns power forward Frank Kaminsky is particularly enthusiastic about his assessment of Phoenix so far, as Bob Young of The Athletic relays. The former No. 9 overall pick signed a two-year contract with the Suns in July after falling out of the rotation in Charlotte for much of the 2018/19 season.

“I can’t tell you how much different I feel just being here,” Kaminsky said. “I’m just so happy. It’s been a great transition, something I was kind of prepared for, something I really wanted to do, just to get a new opportunity, get a fresh start.”

While other newly-added veterans like Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes figure to play important roles for the Suns in 2019/20, Kaminsky could be the team’s X-factor, according to Young, who points to the big man’s lottery pedigree as a reason for optimism. For his part, Kaminsky isn’t expecting a starring role, but believes he’s improving on defense and can be a reliable contributor.

“I just want to come in and have a role with this team. I’m not demanding anything,” Kaminsky said. “I know things go up and things go down, and it’s not always going to be perfect. But I will try to make the right plays.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • In a Q&A with Wosny Lambre of The Athletic, Danny Green discussed the Lakers‘ chemistry, his potential role this season, and why he decided to sign with the club as a free agent. “It’s the best city to thrive in career-wise. Continue to still win, have fun, and live your best type of lifestyle,” Green said. “And also was able to maximize on the contract. Signing with the Los Angeles Lakers covered all the bases for me.”
  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks (Insider link) unveiled their annual “future power rankings” for NBA teams today, and the Clippers earned the No. 1 spot on that list after placing 21st a year ago. It’s the largest single-year jump in the decade-long history of the rankings, Pelton writes.
  • Richaun Holmes is the sort of role player the Kings needed to add to complement their up-and-coming young stars, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Jones suggests that Holmes could be one of the team’s most important acquisitions of the summer since the big man knows his job is to be a “rim-runner, rim protector and energy man,” and won’t try to do more than that.

Suns Notes: Rubio, Oubre, Booker, Williams

Ricky Rubio swiftly asserted himself as the Suns’ team leader on the opening day of camp, Cody Cunningham of the team’s website reports. The Suns signed Rubio to a three-year, $51MM contract in July to solve their point guard woes.

“I usually lead by example, but I think I need to be a little bit more vocal here,” Rubio said. “There’s a lot of young guys and experience gives you something that you know when to talk, when not to talk. I’m trying to do that and be more vocal out on the court, but at the same time lead by example, too.”

We have more info on the Suns:

  • Forward Kelly Oubre Jr. missed the first day of practice due to hand discomfort, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic relays. It’s uncertain whether the injury was to Oubre’s left shooting hand, which was injured last season and required season-ending surgery.
  • Devin Booker took some heat for not playing for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup this summer but injury concerns had a lot to do with it, Rankin writes in a separate story. “I think it’s obvious I’ve dealt with injuries, especially last year, dealing with three hamstring injuries and not wanting to go through that. Just focusing on this Suns team and getting where I want to go with this team is my main priority,” Booker said.
  • A positive interview with owner Robert Sarver sealed the deal for new coach Monty Williams, Gina Mizell of The Athletic reports. Multiple teams were interested in Williams, including the Lakers. Williams, a top assistant with Philadelphia last season, signed a five-year deal with rebuilding Phoenix and views it as his last opportunity to be an NBA head coach. “The conversation I had with Mr. Sarver kind of sealed it,” Williams said. “He was forthright, and I really respected that. He just didn’t lie. He didn’t, not one time, waver. And I was like, ‘You know what? I can work with that.’”

World Cup Notes: Spain, Rubio, Popovich, Fox

Suns guard Ricky Rubio was named World Cup MVP as Spain captured the gold medal this morning by rolling past Argentina, 95-75. France claimed the bronze by defeating Australia.

The all-World Cup team had a strong NBA flavor as Rubio was joined by Spanish teammate Marc Gasol, Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic, France’s Evan Fournier and Argentina’s Luis Scola. Gasol capped a memorable three-month stretch that included an NBA title with the Raptors and the World Cup crown.

“We were not the most talented team,” Rubio said. “We were not the biggest team. But we played with heart. We will be family for life.” (Twitter link from Emiliano Carchia of Sportando)

There’s more World Cup news to pass along:

  • Coach Gregg Popovich blasted critics who are taking shots at Team USA after a seventh-place finish, relays Brian Windhorst of ESPN. The Americans won the past two World Cups, but fell far short this time, losing back-to-back games to France and Serbia. “Some people want to play the blame game. There’s no blame to be placed anywhere,” Popovich said. “They want to play the shame game, like we should be ashamed because we didn’t win a gold medal? That’s a ridiculous attitude. It’s immature, it’s arrogant, and it shows that whoever thinks that doesn’t respect all the other teams in the world and doesn’t respect that these guys did the best they could.” Windhorst notes that only four of the 35 players who were on the projected U.S. roster last summer wound up playing in China.
  • There are no hard feelings from USA Basketball toward Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, who left the team shortly before it departed for exhibition games in Australia, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. It was suggested on ESPN’s “The Jump” this week that Fox wouldn’t be considered for future international teams, but USA Basketball communications director Craig Miller said the organization “understands De’Aaron’s decision.”
  • Both of this year’s finalists were successful with players who are considered past their prime, strengthening the argument that continuity provides a huge advantage in international play, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Argentina was led by the 39-year-old Scola, while Spain’s foundation of Rubio, Gasol, Sergio Llull, Rudy Fernandez and Victor Claver has been together for many years.

World Cup Notes: Brown, Canada, Rubio

Jaylen Brown has stepped up for Team USA since Jayson Tatum went down with an ankle injury. The Celtics wing has played in the frontcourt for USA Basketball, excelling in an unfamiliar spot.

“I feel like I’m not a position player, I’m a basketball player. 4-3-2, whatever coach needs me to do, I will make the adjustment,” Brown said (via Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com). “Obviously with Jayson out, there’s a little more opportunity and maybe it was a little more visible. But every time I take the floor, I want to be aggressive.”

Here’s more from the FIBA World Cup:

  • Coach Nick Nurse doesn’t see many changes for the Canadian National Team next summer in the Olympics, as Michael Grange of Sportsnet relays. The team has a core of veteran players but could see prospects like RJ Barrett and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander break through next summer.
  • Thunder guard Dennis Schroder has impressed during international play, as Erik Horne of the Oklahoman writes. Germany was eliminated in the first round after losing its first two games by a total of six points, but the point guard helped the country win three consecutive games to close the tournament (the team’s final first-round game and two consolation contests).
  • Cody Cunningham of NBA.com breaks down Ricky Rubio‘s 2019 FIBA World Cup. The point guard has helped Spain reach the semi-finals.

Pacific Notes: Moore, Suns, Cousins, Warriors

Ben Moore‘s NBA track record is about as limited as possible for a player who has technically appeared in the league. The young forward played a total of nine minutes in two games for the Pacers during the 2017/18 season, recording one assist, one rebound, and four personal fouls. However, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link), the Suns are intrigued enough by Moore to bring him in for workouts this week.

As Carchia explains, Moore “opened eyes” with his performance for the USA Basketball Select Team that suited up against Team USA’s World Cup squad in Los Angeles last week. The Select Team upset the varsity club more than once during their scrimmages.

Moore, who spent last season in the G League, averaged 12.8 PPG and 8.7 RPG on .556/.368/.783 shooting in 47 games for the Austin Spurs and Fort Wayne Mad Ants. It remains to be seen whether he’ll get a chance to attend camp with an NBA team this season.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • During a recent appearance on Glenn Clark Radio, Suns assistant coach Steve Blake said that Ricky Rubio will help his new teammates “have fun” on the court this season and added that the Suns “definitely expect a lot” from newly-acquired forward Dario Saric. Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic has the details and the rest of Blake’s quotes.
  • With the NBA investigating allegations that Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins threatened his ex-girlfriend, legal expert Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated takes a deep dive into the situation, exploring what factors the league will consider and how the investigation will proceed.
  • It’s officially the end of an era for the Warriors. According to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link), the team began to fully shift its business operations from its Oakland facility to San Francisco’s Chase Center this week.

World Cup Notes: Joseph, Spain, Teodosic, Rankings

Is guard Cory Joseph in or out of the FIBA World Cup for Team Canada? Joseph, the most prominent NBA member remaining on the depleted Team Canada roster, was withdrawing from the competition, according to a tweet from Toronto Star reporter Doug Smith. However, Team Canada coach Nick Nurse said that report was incorrect and that Joseph would indeed join the team in China, John Casey of 7Olympics tweets.

Joseph is not currently with the team during exhibition games in Australia and Sportsnet Canada’s Michael Grange notes that Joseph would have to leave for China soon, given that the tournament begins in 10 days and he needs to adjust to the 12-hour time difference (Twitter link).

We have more World Cup news:

Western Notes: Cancar, Guduric, Rubio, Bol Bol

Vlatko Cancar will have plenty of competition at the forward spots but the 22-year-old could help the Nuggets in a variety of ways, as Eric Spyropoulos of the team’s website details. While playing on Denver’s summer league team for two years, Cancar has shown that he can handle the ball, knock down outside shots and battle in the lane. He doesn’t bring elite mobility at the defensive end but he uses his basketball IQ and awareness to position himself well, Spyropoulos adds.

Cancar, a 2017 second-round pick who spent the last two seasons overseas, signed a three-year contract. The first two years are guaranteed and the Nuggets used part of their mid-level exception to secure him, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. They are now $979K below the luxury tax line, Marks adds.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • The addition of Marko Guduric further muddles the Grizzlies’ wing rotation, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. He’ll join a group that includes shooting guards Grayson Allen, Dillon Brooks and Josh Jackson as well as forwards Jae Crowder, Solomon Hill, Kyle Anderson and Bruno Caboclo. Guduric’s two-year, $5.3MM contract put the Grizzlies close to $128MM in salary commitments and gives them a full camp roster, Cobb adds. Guduric, who shot 47.7% from long range in Turkey last season, signed the contract on July 31.
  • New Suns point guard Ricky Rubio believes he can make Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton even more productive, as he told Cody Cunningham of the team’s website“I can help them reach the level they deserve,” Rubio said. “Deandre, Devin Booker, I’ve been talking to them the last couple days and they’re really excited. Can’t wait to jump on the court and start working with them.” Rubio was signed to a three-year, $51MM contract to fix Phoenix’s issues at the point guard position.
  • Nuggets rookie big man Bol Bol has moved around quite a bit for a 19-year-old but he feels at home in Denver, as he told Kendra Andrews of The Athletic“I’m happy to be here,” Bol said. “I really like the city. I’m happy to be in a bigger city again.”

Pacific Notes: Kerr/Davis, Rubio, Harding, Vogel

As if the Pacific Division wasn’t already exciting enough after a summer that saw Kevin Durant leave and Anthony Davis, Paul George, and 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard arrive to join LeBron James and Stephen Curry, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr added some fuel to the divisional fire today when he criticized Davis’ public trade demand out of New Orleans.

Appearing on NBC Sports’ Warriors Insider Podcast (h/t to ESPN), Kerr said there is a troubling trend in the NBA right now wherein players who are healthy and still have a couple of years left on their deal (e.g. Davis) publicly request a trade. Kerr said that situations like that are both a “real problem” and “bad for the league.”

“I’m talking more about the Anthony Davis situation… where a guy is perfectly healthy and has a couple years left on his deal and says, ‘I want to leave.’ That’s a real problem that the league has to address and that the players have to be careful with.”

“When you sign on that dotted line, you owe your effort and your play to that team, to that city, to the fans… (and) if you sign the contract, then you should be bound to that contract… (Now) If you come to an agreement with the team that, ‘Hey, it’s probably best for us to part ways,’ that’s one thing, (b)ut the Davis stuff was really kind of groundbreaking — and hopefully not a trend, because it’s bad for the league.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division this evening:

  • The Suns have been searching for a point guard to help lead them back up from the bottom of the Western Conference standings for years now, and the three qualities that veteran Ricky Rubio possesses that makes Phoenix think he’s the guy are playmaking, defense, and leadership, writes Cody Cunningham of Suns.com.
  • Lindsey Harding, recently hired as an assistant coach for the Kings under head coach Luke Walton, says that fear of the unknown is more of a factor than a lack of respect for women coaches when it comes to the absence of a female head coach in the NBA today (per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN).
  • New Lakers head coach Frank Vogel plans to incorporate a similar style of play incorporated by Walton, telling Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated that he will continue preaching pace, attacking the basket, and shooting a lot of free throws. But more importantly, Vogel’s goal will be to put shooters at all four positions around James, including center, a la Brook Lopez surrounding Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee.

And-Ones: Howard, Summer League, Spain, BIG3

Having been sent from Washington to Memphis in a trade for C.J. Miles, veteran center Dwight Howard is a member of the Grizzlies for now. However, the club is expected to waive or trade him at some point. After he was limited to just nine games in 2018/19 for health reasons, it’s not clear what the next step will be for Howard, but the eight-time All-Star tells Shams Charania of The Athletic that he has adjusted his mindset and is prepared to do whatever it takes to help his next team win.

“I don’t have an ego — it’s dead,” Howard said. “It had to die for me to be who I am. Sometimes when you want to become who you want to be, you have to die within yourself. Once you learn that you have to give up yourself for the team, that’s when things flourish.”

According to Charania, several NBA teams have said that they’re intrigued by Howard, who says he has been fully cleared after last year’s injury issues. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year claims he has lost 25 pounds since the end of the season, and one executive who saw him recently said he appears to be in his best shape in years, per Charania.

It remains to be seen whether Howard will get an opportunity to choose his next team on the free agent market, but if he does, he has one clear priority, he tells Charania: “Winning. Winning. Winning. I want to win. Nothing else. Just win.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • According to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link), there has been talk in Las Vegas about the possibility of moving back the start of Summer League in future years. Postponing the start date until after the end of the July moratorium would help address the problem of having traded 2019 draftees tied up in deals that can’t be made official until after Summer League is underway.
  • Spain announced its preliminary roster for the 2019 FIBA World Cup this week, as Sportando relays, and the group includes a number of familiar names. The 16-man list, which will be cut down to 12 for the competition, features Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Willy Hernangomez, Juan Hernangomez, and former NBA players like Rudy Fernandez and Victor Claver.
  • The BIG3 announced on Wednesday that Baron Davis, Bonzi Wells, Lamar Odom, and Jermaine O’Neal are being “deactivated” for the 2019 season. The league cited the need to “maximize competition, protect the health of players, and to raise the level of the professionalism of the BIG3.”

Suns Sign Point Guard Ricky Rubio

JULY 8, 9:33pm: The Suns have officially signed Rubio, according to a team press release.

JUNE 30, 5:37pm: In a shocking development, the Suns have stolen presumed Pacers target Ricky Rubio. Phoenix will sign him to a three-year, $51MM deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Multiple reports this week indicated that Rubio was expected to join the Pacers once free agency began, with one story calling it a “virtual done deal.” Indiana saw point guard Darren Collison retire and it left them extremely thin at the position. However, the team was able to add Malcolm Brogdon via sign-and-trade.

As for the Suns, they haven’t had stability at the point guard spot since they traded Eric Bledsoe away. Rubio and newcomer Dario Saric, who came to the team in a draft night trade, will add veteran presence to a team looking to make the postseason.

A former fifth overall pick, Rubio averaged 12.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, and 3.6 RPG in 68 games (27.9 MPG) for the Jazz last season. He’s not a great shooter, but Phoenix will lean on him for his play-making, passing, and defense.

The Suns will need to make an additional roster move to fit Rubio in under the cap, if they plan to keep Kelly Oubre‘s cap hold on their books, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.