Archive for July 20th, 2013

Meyers Leonard may do big things for Trail Blazers

He’s out of position too often. He’s awkward at times, and the only thing that’s consistent about his game is that it’s reliably inconsistent. In fact, the Trail Blazers spent a good portion of their summer seeking a player who could make him a back-up. But every time I see Meyers Leonard on the basketball floor I believe he will one day be the answer in Portland.

Leonard turned 21 last NBA season. And if you want to polarize your next cocktail party, wait for a lull, and ask for a show of hands of those who believe Leonard will one day start a playoff game at center for the Blazers. Because this city is no longer Eastside vs. Westside. It’s not hipsters vs. yuppies. As division goes, there are those who believe Leonard will blossom, and those who think he’s a stiff.

I see a star.

Far as we know, Leonard spent his summer league hacking opponents around the basketball and tweeting about various Cirque du Soleil shows on the Vegas strip. But he also attended a Big Man’s Camp, and got stronger, and worked on his footwork.

Reported by John Canzano of the Oregonian

Will the Detroit Pistons make the NBA playoffs?

Based on the additions and subtractions in the Eastern Conference, the Pistons have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

That year coach Michael Curry and the Pistons got swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The five teams that are virtual locks to make the playoffs in the East are two-time defending champion Miami, Brooklyn, Chicago, New York and surging Indiana, which could challenge the Heat for supremacy in the conference finals.

Three teams that made the playoffs last season have been severely weakened. Boston traded away landmarks Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who are still grieving over leaving Beantown. Atlanta lost Josh Smith to the Pistons via free agency. Milwaukee lost Monta Ellis as general manager John Hammond is changing the roster.

Reported by Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press

Two NBA championship rings that Kobe Bryant gave to his parents each sold for more than $100,000 at an auction that supported one of his charities.

Goldin Auctions said six items of Bryant memorabilia sold for a combined $433,531 in the monthlong auction that closed early Saturday morning.

A 2000 Lakers championship ring gifted by Bryant to his father, Joe, sold for $174,184. A ring given to his mother, Pamela, from the same championship season went for $108,153.

Reported by the Associated Press

John Henson had good summer league for Bucks

Nick Van Exel made his summer-league head coaching debut Friday as the Milwaukee Bucks concluded their weeklong stay in Las Vegas.

Despite another strong effort from rookie point guard Nate Wolters, the Bucks lost, 90-80, to the San Antonio Spurs.

But the bigger picture showed some positive developments for the Bucks (2-3) as they packed their bags and prepared to head home.

Second-year player John Henson proved to be one of the top big men in the NBA Summer League. He sat out Friday’s game with a minor injury but finished with averages of 14.7 points and 13.7 rebounds in three summer games.

Wolters, who scored 20 points Friday, gained confidence with each successive game and showed an impressive ability to get into the lane.

Reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Joakim Noah will play fewer minutes for Bulls next season

Joakim Noah will continue to be a focal point for the Chicago Bulls but he will not be logging as many minutes as he did last season, coach Tom Thibodeau said Thursday.

“Jo’s minutes will come down,” Thibodeau said during the Las Vegas Summer League. “We got strung out there because Kirk [Hinrich] got hurt. We had to really run our offense through Jo. But the second half of the season we got his minutes down which was probably a good number for him. Luol [Deng] may come down a couple minutes but when you look at small forwards in this league, they all play those type of minutes.

“For us how he and our team matches up with LeBron [James] with Paul George and Kevin Durant, those guys are all in the 37-38 minute area. But I do feel really good about our depth so I think that’s going to be a big plus. Our bench is going to be one of our strengths next season. We’re going to look to take advantage of that.”

Reported by Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago

Coach Thibodeau impressed by development of Marquis Teague

Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is impressed with the development of second-year guard Marquis Teague, who has been a Summer League standout in Las Vegas.

“The biggest thing is his preparation,” Thibodeau told ESPNChicago.com on Thursday. “I’m very excited about the way he came back after the season was over. The way he worked to get ready to play in the summer league this year was entirely different than his rookie year and that’s understandable when you have a 19-year-old kid coming in.

“I don’t think he really understood what he was going to be facing. After going through the league for a year, he went home, got a couple weeks off and then he went right into the gym, put a lot of work in and it showed.”

Reported by ESPN Chicago

New Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum is introduced in Cleveland

Andrew Bynum is officially a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The free agent center signed a two-year, $24 million contract at the team’s suburban training facility on Friday, and he was introduced by general manager Chris Grant.

Bynum sat out the entire 2012-2013 season with Philadelphia because of knee injuries, but said he will be medically cleared to practice by the start of training camp. He underwent surgery on both knees in March.

– Reported by the Associated Press

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