Steve Blake

Pacific Notes: Henry, Suns, Landry, Buss

Pierria Henry, the most recent EuroCup regular season MVP winner, worked out for the Suns today, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reports (Twitter link). Henry has plans to work out for at least two additional teams over the weekend.

The 6’5″ combo guard spent four years at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, becoming the school’s all-time leader in assist and steals. Henry didn’t hear his name called in the 2015 Draft and ended up carving out a career overseas. Henry has had stops in Georgia, Germany, Israel, Turkey, and Russia.

Henry is now a candidate for an NBA roster spot next season. As the West Virginia native attempts to make it in the league, let’s take a look at some notes from the Pacific Division:

  • Coach Monty Williams has finalized his staff, as he announced on the Suns‘ podcastWillie Green, Darko Rajakovic, Mark Bryant, Randy Ayers, Larry Greer, and Steve Blake will all serve as assistant coaches in Phoenix.
  • Landry Shamet has been invited to participate with the Select Team at Team USA’s National camp, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com tweets. The Clippers guard will join Zion Williamson in the younger group come August.
  • Lakers owner Jeanie Buss admits that Magic Johnson’s resignation caught her off-guard, as Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register relays. Buss added that once the executive stepped down, she needed time to “figure out what the process was going to be.” Los Angeles decided that Rob Pelinka leading the front office would be best for the franchise.

Pacific Notes: Suns Staff, Walton, Bell, LeBron

A trio of assistants/scouts in other organizations could soon be joining Monty WilliamsSuns staff, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweetsSteve Blake (Trail Blazers), Randy Ayers (Nets) and Mark Bryant (Thunder) have emerged as top contenders to join Williams in Phoenix. Williams was hired by the Suns three weeks ago after spurning overtures from the Lakers.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Luke Walton was spotted by the media helping out with the Kings’ pre-draft workout on Thursday but he didn’t speak to the press, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reports. The new Kings head coach hasn’t faced the media since a lawsuit alleging that he sexually assaulted a former reporter was filed last month. The league and organization are jointly investigating the matter.
  • Jordan Bell, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, has made a positive impression in the postseason, as the team’s website notes. The Warriors forward received a start in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals and averaged 6.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG and 2.0 APG in the series. “Jordan Bell is one of those guys who has got that energy,” veteran swingman Andre Iguodala said. “He thrives off the spotlight. He enjoys being in those moments and people are watching him.
  • People within LeBron James‘ inner circle expressed concern that the dysfunction within the Lakers organization could ruin the team’s summer even before Magic Johnson‘s public criticism of GM Rob Pelinka and the front office structure, Sam Amick of The Athletic reports. The challenge of convincing at least one top free agent to join James was already seen as daunting around the league, and recent developments have make that uphill climb far worse, Amick adds.

Lamar Odom, More Former NBA Players Join BIG3

Longtime NBA forward Lamar Odom, who spent 14 seasons with the Clippers, Lakers, Heat, and Mavericks, has become the latest addition to the BIG3 player pool, the league announced on Thursday (via Twitter).

Odom hasn’t played in the NBA since 2012/13, when he wrapped up his career with the Clippers. He signed with a team in Spain in 2014, but lasted just two games before returning home with a back injury. The former NBA champion has battled addiction issues and survived a drug overdose several years ago, but is healthy now and indicated back in the fall that he intended to join Ice Cube’s three-on-three league.

Odom is one of a handful of former NBA players who have joined the BIG3 within the last week, as the league has slowly been revealing the new additions to its player pool for the upcoming 2019 season. Besides Odom, the following players are poised to play in the BIG3 for the first time this year:

White is a former first-round pick while the other four veterans all played in the NBA for at least seven seasons. Watson suited up for an NBA squad most recently, appearing in 62 games for Orlando in 2016/17.

As we previously relayed, the BIG3 is adding four new teams for the 2019 season and expanding its schedule. In 2018, a team featuring longtime NBA players Corey Maggette, Glen Davis, Cuttino Mobley, and Quentin Richardson – and coached by Hall-of-Famer Nancy Lieberman – won the league’s title.

Steve Blake Probably Finished In Australia

Veteran point guard Steve Blake has likely played his last game in the Australian league, according to Fox Sports.

The 36-year-old, who played for the Pistons last season, signed with the Sydney Kings in October after he was unable to get a training camp invitation from any NBA team. Blake was granted an indefinite leave of absence this week to return to the United States to be with a sick family member, and his coach, Andrew Gaze, doesn’t expect him to return.

“The high probability is he won’t be back,” Gaze told EON Sports Radio. “We’re hopeful that he may be, but I think it’s going to be a difficult one.”

Blake was used as a reserve by the Kings and averaged fewer than 6.0 PPG in nine games. However, managing director Jeff Van Groningen insisted that his departure had nothing to do with his performance on the court.

Blake spent 13 years in the NBA, playing for eight franchises. During an interview last month with the Blazers Edge fan site, he acknowledged that a return to the NBA was unlikely, but said he would be interested if he got an opportunity.

Steve Blake To Play In Australia

Veteran NBA guard Steve Blake is headed overseas and will sign with the Sydney Kings in Australia, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). The length and terms of the arrangement are unknown, nor if the pact will include an NBA-out clause.

Blake had reportedly been seeking an NBA opportunity this season, and was mentioned as a possible signing candidate for the Pistons earlier this month. With Reggie Jackson ailing, Detroit was mulling adding more backcourt depth, but would have had to waive a player with a guaranteed contract in order to do so.

The 36-year-old appeared in 58 games for the Pistons a season ago, averaging 4.4 points, 1.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 17.0 per outing. His slash line on the campaign was .388/.344/.800. In 13 seasons in the NBA, Blake owns career averages of 6.5 PPG, 2.1 RPG and 4.0 APG.

Stein’s Latest: Llull, Bucks, MCW, McLemore, Pistons

With the NBA’s regular season inching closer, ESPN’s Marc Stein takes a look around the league and rounds up a handful of noteworthy tidbits from out of training camps. There are plenty of interesting items to pass along, so let’s dive right in…

  • A recent report out of Spain indicated that the buyout for Sergio Llull‘s contract with Real Madrid has increased to 12 million euros. However, Stein hears that the buyout isn’t “nearly as onerous” as that report suggests — one source describes the cost as “manageable.” As such, the Rockets continue to have strong interest in bringing Llull stateside, and the Spanish guard does have real interest in eventually coming to the NBA, despite his proclamations about spending the rest of his career in Madrid.
  • The Bucks continue to scour the market for possible Khris Middleton replacements, and have offered Michael Carter-Williams to the Kings in a deal for Ben McLemore, Stein reports. Sacramento turned down that pitch, but Milwaukee continues to explore deals.
  • One scenario likely not in play for the Bucks is a deal with the Hornets that would involve Jeremy Lamb and Spencer Hawes. According to Stein, Charlotte is said to have no interest in Monroe.
  • As the Pistons consider potential point guard options with Reggie Jackson ailing, they took a look at Norris Cole before he agreed to sign in China, writes Stein. Steve Blake, given his familiarity with the team, is also an option. However, as the ESPN scribe cautions – and as Stan Van Gundy said himself this week – the Pistons are no lock to add another player at the point, since the club would have to eat a guaranteed contract to do so.

Community Shootaround: Pistons’ PG Situation

Last week, one Central division team faced some uncertainty at its point guard spot, when the Cavaliers received news of Mo Williams‘ decision to retire, which left the team with just Kyrie Irving and Kay Felder at the point. Cleveland subsequently signed Toney Douglas to provide veteran depth, and now one of their division rivals is facing similar questions at the same position.

Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy revealed today that Reggie Jackson, who is dealing with knee tendinitis and a bone bruise, could miss up to six to eight weeks of action. According to Van Gundy, Jackson is considering treatment options and will make a decision soon (Twitter link via Keith Langlois of Pistons.com). If the point guard undergoes platelet-rich plasma therapy, his recovery timetable would be in that six-to-eight-week range, but it’s possible he’ll be back before then.

Faced with the possibility of being without Jackson for the first few weeks of the regular season, the Pistons are exploring their options. However, Van Gundy said today that it’s unlikely the team would cut one of its young players to add another point guard to provide short-term coverage (Twitter link via Langlois). He added that a trade is also unlikely, per Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link).

Still, without Jackson, the Pistons are somewhat thin at the point. Ish Smith would move into the starting role, with someone like Ray McCallum, Lorenzo Brown, or Trey Freeman potentially backing him up. McCallum and Brown are both on non-guaranteed deals, so if the team wanted to keep both players for depth purposes, it would mean waiving a player with a guaranteed contract, as Van Gundy noted today (Twitter link via Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press).

Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net hears that Mario Chalmers and Steve Blake are among the players the free agents the Pistons are considering. Kendall Marshall, Andre Miller, and Kirk Hinrich are also available, and Van Gundy said that the team is keeping an eye on players on other rosters who may be cut before the regular season (Twitter link via Ellis).

What do you think the Pistons should do to address the point guard position, if anything? Are their in-house options fine, or should they add a free agent? If they sign someone, which player would be the best fit? Are Jackson’s knee issues worrisome enough that they should consider adding a veteran guard for the season, rather than for just a few weeks?

Take to the comments section below to weigh in and share your thoughts on the Pistons’ point guard situation.

Pistons Notes: Leuer, Smith, Johnson, Blake

Pistons players concentrated on recruiting this summer and wound up with two of their main targets, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Coach/executive Stan Van Gundy entered the offseason wanting an experienced backup point guard and a power forward with size who could make 3-pointers. Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson took care of the first one by convincing former teammate Ish Smith to come to Detroit. Tobias Harris landed the power forward through his connection to Jon Leuer, who broke into the league along with Harris with the Bucks in 2011/12. “Just having a good relationship with Tobias and knowing that he’s been with these guys and knows what it’s like in the locker room and what it’s like to play for coach Van Gundy, it had a big impact on my decision,” Leuer said. “Just somebody that I trust and know has a good sense of what would be good for me.”

There’s more news tonight out of Detroit:

  • Leuer and the Pistons didn’t fully commit to each other until Al Horford eliminated Detroit from his consideration, Langlois writes in the same piece. When Horford made Boston, Washington and Atlanta his finalists in free agency, the deal was finalized. “Once Al made his decision, it was, ‘OK, let’s figure out how we can get this done,’ ” Leuer said. “We actually came to an agreement before he even landed, so it was more of a celebratory lunch than a meeting.”
  • After a long learning experience during his rookie year, Stanley Johnson hopes to show the NBA what he is capable of, relays Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Johnson said being a first-year player is like going from kindergarten to being a high school senior. He averaged 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds in 73 games, but he believes he can do better in 2016/17. “As much as athleticism is involved in the NBA game, it’s more mental than anything,” Johnson said. “You’ll see with the rookies when you watch them play, they’re not behind but they’re making plays slower than everybody because they haven’t seen it yet. That’s where I was last year — except I was playing, I was in the fire, I was in front of everybody and they were watching me make my mistakes on a grand scale.”
  • Steve Blake, who spent last season with the Pistons, has been working out at the Trail Blazers’ facility, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. The 36-year-old point guard is staying in shape and hoping for another opportunity, she added.

Eastern Notes: Beal, Knicks, Antetokounmpo

Shooting guard Bradley Beal believes he’s worthy of a max deal as he heads into restricted free agency this summer, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports. Beal will sign an offer sheet from a suitor willing to pay that price if the Wizards don’t make a max offer when free agency begins in July, he told Castillo in a phone interview. “I feel like I’m a max player and that’s what I’m looking for,” he said. “If Washington can’t meet that requirement then I may be thinking elsewhere. I’m pretty sure that they probably won’t [let me go].” Beal declined a contract extension prior to the beginning of this past season and doesn’t believe his injury history will affect his bargaining power, Castillo adds. “The injury thing, that’s behind me,” Beal said. “I’m moving forward. I’m past it.”

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • Jerry Sichting, Jeff Hornacek’s offensive assistant with the Suns, could land an assistant coaching job with the Knicks under Hornacek, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Sichting was let go against Hornacek’s wishes last season while Corey Gaines, another former Hornacek assistant who was not retained by the Suns after the season, is also a candidate to join Hornacek’s staff, Berman continues. Hornacek is not expected to retain ex-coach Derek Fisher’s hires of former Thunder assistants Brian Keefe, Joshua Longstaff and David Bliss.
  • Power forward Anthony Tolliver, center Joel Anthony and point guards Steve Blake and Lorenzo Brown are unlikely to return next season, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com in his roster review. It’s 50-50 whether the team will bring back oft-injured shooting guard Jodie Meeks and third-string point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, Langlois continues. Meeks could be tossed into a trade, while the club has a mid-July deadline to decide whether to guarantee Dinwiddie’s contract for next season, Langlois adds.
  • Power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo wants to play for the Greek National Team in the Olympic Qualifier at Turin, Italy, Sportando reports via Eurohoops. “I want to play for the national team. The Bucks know it,” he said to Eurohoops. “We have not talked yet for this matter. Even if they are negative, I would try to convince them to let me play.”

Central Notes: Pacers, Blake, Lue

Solomon Hill thinks Indiana’s decision against picking up its team option on him for next season drove him to become a better player, observes Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star. The combo forward who shot a sizzling 11 for 19 from 3-point range in the team’s seven-game first-round series didn’t play nearly as well in summer league this past July, and so he understands why the Pacers made the call they did this past fall, even though he led the team in minutes played during the 2014/15 season. Buckner notes. “I kinda felt like my 82 [games] last year was kinda thrown out and they just [said]: ‘This is what he’s done,’” Hill said. The Pacers will face a challenge to re-sign him, since any new contract they give him can’t have a salary for next season that exceeds $2,306,019, the value of the option they declined.

See more from Indiana amid news from the Central Division.

  • Pacers coach Frank Vogel never gave Jordan Hill an explanation for why he dropped out of the rotation in the playoffs, Hill said, and the 28-year-old is hoping that front offices focus on his production in the regular season, when he averaged 8.8 points and an efficient 6.2 rebounds in 20.7 minutes per game, Buckner relays in the same piece. Hill is set for free agency again after signing a one-year contract last summer.
  • The Pistons are open to re-signing Steve Blake when he hits free agency in July, but coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said in his season-ending press conference that improving at backup point guard will be a priority, writes Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. The 36-year-old would like to keep playing for the Pistons, but he indicated in statements he made after Detroit’s playoff ouster last month that he wants to retire in a year. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I loved my experience here,” Blake said. “It was great playing for [Van Gundy], and I really love playing with these guys. If they wanted me back, I’d be thrilled, but you never know in this league. I’d love to play one more year. That’s my goal, but someone has to want me.
  • Coach Tyronn Lue leads the Cavaliers with a calm demeanor and didn’t panic or call timeout when Atlanta came back from an 18-point deficit before succumbing to Cleveland in Game 1 of their series Monday, traits he credits to Knicks team president Phil Jackson, observes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Jackson coached Lue during his playing career.