Beyond the regular chatter of whos looking good here in Vegas, a lot of the buzz in the gym revolved around Zydrunas Illguaskas resigning with the Cavs. The word here from Cavs officials is that Z will re-up for 5 years at 55 to 60 million dollars. With a little over 5 million left to spend the Cavaliers are sure to add a point guard of quality to round out a increasingly impressive squad. Their first option will apparently be Columbus native Antonio Daniels. If that doesnt work the Cavs are willing to offer up to 44 million dollars over 5 years to lock up Miami Heat free agent power forward Udonis Haslem. Haslem appears to be more likely to resign with the Heat, though.
Lebron James was here in Vegas with a large entourage, taped off by yellow police tape as the New York-New Jersey game was going on. Word here is that Lebron was doing some scouting of his own checking out New Yorks future and maybe seeing how he might fit in there .
On the European front, word in Vegas says that Tau Vitoria PG Jose Manuel Calderon is a lock to sign with an NBA team in the upcoming weeks. His Spanish agent Paco López just happens to be here in the gym and we approached him about these rumors to ask him what he thinks. He confirmed that that is indeed out there, smiling and saying its possible, and saying that if something happens we will hear about it in about two weeks. He also informed us that Calderons buyout is two million Euros, and that Tau Vitoria will most likely not negotiate that sum. Calderons contract is up in Spain in one year. Earlier in the week here at the Vegas Summer League, Lopez was willing to share that it looks like another client of his, Luis Scola, will most likely be joining the Spurs this season.
Will McDonald, the 6-10 center who was playing with the Celtics summer league team here in Vegas left Bostons team to sign a lucrative contract with Estundiantes in Spain. McDonald will make 400,000 dollars Net this year and 450,000 Net the year after. He played in Gran Canaria last year, also in Spain, and had an excellent season. He saw very little playing time here with Boston in the summer league.
New York Knicks- New Jersey Nets
Final Score: Knicks 86 New Jersey 74
Halftime Score: New York Knicks- New Jersey Nets
David Lee- The Knicks are playing Lee at the small forward position, probably because they have so many quality big guys on their roster. He was being extremely aggressive right from the get go, taking the ball strong to the basket off the dribble as hes been doing all along in the summer league so far, getting to the line again and again and knocking down his free throws. He showed great body control to spin off his man and score with either his left or his right hand, or keep his composure and kind the open man with one of his trademark passes even when hes on the move. In the first half he finished with 13 points on 3-4 shooting from the field and 7-8 from the line.
David Lee had a fantastic game here, even though he was playing out of position at the three spot. He got to the line relentlessly and played tough, even sometimes dirty, defense. Thats exactly what Isiah and co. are going to want him to do in New York in order to get minutes. You can tell that Lee has already developed great chemistry with his new teammates and fellow first round picks Channing Frye and Nate Robinson.
Channing Frye- Seemed to be hell bent on proving that hes not soft once again, picking up 4 fouls in the first two minutes. He was more effective in the first half than hes been all summer league, making strong moves and showing nice footwork in the paint before finishing with a jump hook. Frye also did a nice job cleaning up the glass. He picked up his 7th foul with 5:47 left to go in the 2nd quarter, meaning that the other team got a technical foul shot from that point on every time he committed a foul. He finished the half with an unbelievable 9 fouls in 18 minutes to compliment his 6 points and 5 rebounds.
Channing completed a triple double in the fourth quarter by coming up a few rebounds in garbage time. He hit the mark in points and fouls as well to accomplish the rare summer league feat.
Nate Robinson- Nate started right where he left off, pushing the temp, getting everyone involved and still finding some time to score points by himself. He had no problem playing off the ball either, coming off a strong curl to knock down the three pointer. He got to the basket again and again, picking up fouls and points all along the way. Nate is definitely the most exciting player to watch here in Las Vegas, and the crowd loves him for it. When he started getting into it with Sharrod Ford and got Td up in the process, who do you think the fans here sided with?
One respected European coach, Avner Yeor who was with Hapoel Jerusalem the past two years, came up to me in the first half and asked how in hell did little Nate fall to 21? When I told him that a lot of people actually thought that was a reach because of his height and the fact that he played shooting guard in college, he could only shake his head. As he correctly pointed out, Robinson is a terrific passer to compliment his fantastic basketball instincts. He is a basketball player, period.
He is a flashy guy, but also knows how to make the right play and get his teammates the ball exactly where they like it. Nate was definitely the best player on the floor once again today. The statisticians only gave him one assist, but he was a lot closer to 6-7 with all the awesome passes he made here. If Robinson wasnt playing in this late game here, Id be shocked if more than 50 people would have stayed. With him playing and dunking on people left and right, there were a good 300 people here or more all waiting for Robinson to do something.
Trevor Ariza- The garbage man, Ariza is perfectly content picking up the scraps and doing the little things for his team as the 4th or 5th option. His skill set is very limited at this point, but he is effective at finishing around the hoop, getting in the passing lane, rebounding and rotating for help defense thanks to his length, size and athletic ability.
Antoine Wright-Wright has finally started backing up his mouth with some solid play. Wrights perimeter shot is starting to fall for him and hes using it to keep his team in the game with 17 points in the first half. Always energetic, Wright is starting to get some results for his hustle. Playing solid defense-his one mainstay throughout the games so far. A great game so far for Wright.
Wright slowed down a little in the 2nd half, in no small part due to Trevor Arizas defense, but still ended up having a very solid game.
Sam Clancy-Sam is what he is. Sam works hard and is good at using his body to establish position. Clancy grabs boards in traffic and has good quick hands that he uses well when around the basket. His footwork is pretty solid as he can change directions with confidence and finish strong. Clancy a little short and not explosive enough to be a starting power forward and will have trouble getting minutes as a backup on a good team due to a limited range, which will make it hard to set up his post game.
Clancy had a huge second half for the Nets and kept them in the game until very late. Sam moves great without the ball for a power forward and puts himself in good position on nearly every possession. Sam blocked shots, Grabbed challenged rebounds, and scored on post moves and nice cuts to the basket. Even though he has some physical limitations I'd like to see him get some NBA run as a backup just for one season to see if he can translate his smarts and toughness into some production.
Detroit Pistons- Los Angeles Clippers
Final Scpre: Pistons 73 - Clippers 69
Halftime Score: Detroit Pistons 37- Los Angeles Clippers 30
Darko Milicic- Milicic tried a lot harder in this game, but the results in the first half just werent there. He actually started off very well, blocking Kaman as he pulled up for a short jumper in the lane and running the floor very hard to finish off a break, but the rest of the 1st half was not memorable for him. He picked up a bunch of fouls on Chris Kaman, got outrebounded a bit and didnt really make his presence felt around the basket. His moves around the hoop arent bad, its just that his jump hook shot wasnt and never was falling for him here in Vegas. Its still early in the game for Darko, but things dont look great for him right now. A nice 18 foot jump shot was one of the few bright spots for him in the 2nd quarter. He had 4 points on 2-5 shooting with 1 rebound in the first half.
In the 2nd half Darko was absolutely murdered by Chris Kaman in the post. He gave him too much space and let him get too deep before putting a body on him, meaning he either picks up the foul or conceeds the basket. He settled time after time for the 18 footer and it rimmed out for him every single time. When he did get position in the paint he went for the jump hook shot rather than taking the ball right at Kaman to draw the foul and/or finish strong at the hoop.
Darko had one really sweet move with five minutes left in the fourth quarter that really got a rise out of the crowd. He had the ball at the three point line and made a great spin move towards the basket to finger roll the ball into the basket. These are exactly the type of moves that got him drafted where he did.
Jason Maxiell- For the fourth game straight, Maxiell continues to make a major impact for every second he is on the floor. He is constantly challenging his man from the perimeter and in the paint, taking him off the dribble and powering his way to the hoop, nailing the mid-range jump shot and getting to the line time after time. Maxiell also intimidated around the rim with his shotblocking and rebounded strong as well.
Not much left to say here, Maxiell is a freaking beast and he just cant be contained here. If he had Darkos height good lord that would be a scary sight.
Alex Acker- Right now Acker looks like another great draft pick for the Pistons. He looks excellent playing both the one and the two spots, is extremely unselfish and does a great job running the offense. He hit his shots in the first half, rebounded and got into the lane. He seems to compliment this team very well with his skills.
In the 2nd half Acker continued to play solid, but within himself. He was very aggressive on defense and continued to take the ball to the basket. His outside shot wasnt falling for him, but thats expected considering how well he was shooting in the first three games.
Carlos Delfino- Out of shape and out of tune. Did nothing in the first.
Word in the gym is that Delfino has had enough in Detroit and is actively seeking a new team for himself in Europe. The problem is that the Pistons arent having any of it.
Amir Johnson- After a very quiet first half, Johnson showed some sparks of potential in the 2nd to give Piston fans some hope for this very young late 2nd round draft pick. He ran the floor well and finished at the basket, hit the mid-range jumper, got to the line and put in a lot of effort on both ends of the floor. Hes a few years away, but at least he showed something here.
Eric Weiss and Jonathan Givony
Shaun Livingston- Injured his thumb earlier in the week and was out of commission in this game.
Chris Kaman-Chris Kaman is a bull in a china shop, he can cause damage to himself and other when hes on the court. Kaman has all the tools to be a great center. Kaman can shoot, post, block shots, and rebound. The problem with Chris is he doesnt know when to do what. Kaman turns into the double team as often as he beats his man for the score. Kaman has blocked a few shots and gotten blocked himself, by Darko Milicic. As long as hes not the best player on the court he can get enough opportunities to be effective. The summer league stats dont belay the lack of control Kaman shows on the court. Hes too talented to get rid of though and can still wow you as much as make you hang your head, its like watching a train wreck.
Kaman continued his effective play throughout the 2nd half. He was too much for Darko to handle in the paint and scored on him time after time or went to the line. When hes not settling for bad shots from outside he is a really effective big man. There is still some hope for him to live up to where he was drafted. A solid outing for Kaman offensively. For him to be more than a solid starter, though, he will have to be more aggressive on the defensive end and on the glass. He has the size and mobility to do it, thats for sure, it's all mental at this point, which is exactly where the question marks around Kaman start.
Daniel Ewing-Ewing has done nothing of note tonight after manning the point very effectively in the last game. The Clippers have Loinal Chalmers playing the point with Ewing mostly at off-guard. Daniel shows much more from the point guard position.
Lionel Chalmers- Chalmers was hot all game long and was really stroking it from all over the court. Chalmers is not a PG, thats for sure. He looks first and foremost for his own shot and will only pass it off if its not there on his first and second try. He is quick and athletic and can definitely shoot it from mid-range, but its going to take much more than that for him to stick in this league.
Boston Celtics vs. Phoenix Suns
Final Score: Boston Celtics 82 Phoenix Suns 53.
Halftime Score: Boston Celtics 46 Phoenix Suns 27.
Justin Reed- Reed is the Celtics best summer league player again. Reed got his hands on at least 4 balls and stole it twice. Justin is barking out orders to his teammates and keeping everyone aware of whats going on. Justins grabbing tough rebounds in traffic, has hit a couple of nice jumpers and posted up two defenders on the block with a solid finish. Justin is getting to the line and finishing and 1 plays on a number of occasions.
In the 2nd half Justin didnt play as much, most likely because he has nothing left to prove. Got some more rebounds, a couple of deflections, and he ran the floor on the break. Very solid game once again for Reed.
Will Bynum-Bynum has had his best game to date. Wills being active and intense on defense and is controlling the ball and making quick/smart decisions with it. Showed a little range on a nice three, though looks much more comfortable out of a set shot.
Will continues to progress in the second half. Bynum scrapped for some loose balls and grabbed a couple of rebounds he had no business getting. Showed some real nice passing in the half, the first time its really shown. Had a nice ally-oop to Gerald Green and made a great driving pass to Taylor Coppenrath.
Gerald Green-Gerald is moving more without the ball and seems to be feeling his way into a groove. Although hes 1-3 from the field in the first half hes looked good doing it. Great leaning drive for the swish with awesome body control. Quick mover, doesnt wait to make decisions and usually gets something good.
Gerald battled for some boards in the second half and ran the floor with confidence. When hes got the ball he really knows how to get his shot off and his form is very good. If he beats his initial defender there is really no way to defend him because his mid-range shot is great and his elevation makes it un-blockable. Made two consecutive shots late in the 4th quarter that were absolutely smooth and effortless, including a deep 3 with a defender in his face.
Tony Allen-Tony is a steal machine right now. Allen is throwing his body around and diving into the passing lanes with abandon. Tony had an excellent drive toward the basket where he absorbed the contact and finished strong. Tonys shot looks much quicker and less robotic in the delivery.
Tony had a great Ally-oop dunk at the end of the 3rd period on a sweet feed from Bynum. Tony continues to play great defense and has really improved on getting through screens, something that killed him in the playoffs last year.
Ryan Gomes-Ryan is showing the nice rebounding instincts that have become common over the first three games. Gomes has a sense for when to do what and it showed on a number of plays. Ryan faked his shot on the perimeter twice, once for a smooth pull-up and another for the drive and dish. Ryans post game has been strong and he shows tremendous body control when taking the hit. Getting points off all kinds of hustle plays as well as his nice set game.
Gomes had another great half and picked up a double-double for his effort. Gomes just knows how to play and he is always in the right place at the right time. You can tell he sees plays developing in advance and it makes his game look effortless. As soon as he gets comfortable shooting from the outside and not instinctively going to the post hell be a complete small forward. Made a great steal mid-court and pushed the ball up, turned his back to the basket and snapped a no-look pass to a cutting Taylor Coppenrath. Ryan finished the game with a great full-extension tip in one handed between two defenders. The shot was a soft as could be.
Taylor Coppenrath-Taylor has had another good hustle game. Everything Doc said about him is accurate, with the exception of making this team. I dont see a roster spot for him, but they may sign him and send him overseas or to the NBDL to see how he progresses. Taylor does the little things and has gotten his hands on a few balls through challenge defense and smarts.
Another solid half again. Taylor has less skill then Gomes, but very similar instincts and it shows in his game. Everything he does well is a product of his intelligence.
Al Jefferson-Al ended up having a good second half on the boards and really worked well with a lot of different lineups. Nothing out of the ordinary for him other than a few nice outside shots. If he starts hitting those hes pretty much invincible offensively.
The Suns scored 34 points in the first three quarters. That should tell you all you need to know. If you are looking for more, everyone was terrible. How's that?
Mindaguas Katelynas- Katelynas finally came to life a bit in the first half after being in a coma ever since Portsmouth ended. He was very active on both ends of the floor and made a couple of very nice unselfish plays. He drained a 3, nailed his mid-range jumper, passed well and generally did everything that was asked of him.
Apparently the Suns saw something we didnt, and Katelynas got benched for the rest of the game after scoring 5 points in 7 minutes. He came back at the end of the fourth for three minutes when the Suns were down by 30+ and was so eager to prove himself that he committed a couple of fouls, scored one basket and didn't do anything else.
Leandro Barbosa- Making more of an effort to pass rather than look for his own shot, because this is probably what the coaches told him to do. Needless to say, that is not Barbosa's game, and he is looking awful here along with the rest of the team. He made some nice moves to split the defense three or four times, but no one can hit any shots when he dishes it off so it's all for naught. Barbosa looks like he is being chained down here and his team is really suffering from it.
Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors
Final Score: Wizards 88- Warriors 79.
Halftime Score: Golden State Warriors 41- Washington Wizards 39
A very good game despite some absymal officiating once again. Chris Taft received two technicals fouls for absolutely nothing. Donell Taylor can't dribble without being called for a travel. It's gotten so bad that the head of the NBA officiating committee, who is in charge of evaluating the real NBA refs, is here to try and help them out between and even during games. You can see him on the sidelines scribbling like crazy, it's really a shame to see these guys try to show up the players who really need the attention with the calls they are making.
Andray Blatche- Once again showed some flashes of his phenomenal perimeter game. Handled the ball from end to end and finished in the lane with a clumsy floater, made some very smart passes, but also made a conceited effort to muster something out of his six feet eleven inches. Showed some footwork inside posting up Zarko and finishing with an up and under, did a good job rebounding inside the paint (whether the statisticians noticed it or not is something different altogether) and at least tried to play some defense although he is completely clueless in this area still. He got in the passing lanes to come up with a few steals and altered some shots on the perimeter with his length. The Wizards are playing him once again at both the three and the four.
Blatche showed the good and the bad of his game in the 2nd as well. He snatched one ferocious rebound in traffic over Diogu and Zarko and then took the ball coast to coast once again before making a beautiful pass to Randy Holcomb for the basket and 1 (he did this a few times actually). Later on he got a little too excited and took a horrible contested fadeaway from 20 feet out on the baseline that got wedged between the backboard and the rim. On the next play on defense he undercut Chris Taft while he went up for a dunk on what could have been a very dangerous fall. In the 3rd and the fourth he knocked down a couple more jumpers. Late in the 4th Blatche stripped his man on defense, brought the ball up, crossed his man over and went straight to the hoop, drawing the foul from Biedrins. The kid has some serious talent, but he also has a lot to learn. The NBDL will be perfect for him. He only got credit fo 1 assist to go along with 9 points and 7 rebounds, but appeared to have at least 4 or 5 dimes.
Peter John Ramos- Started off very poorly while being guarded by the tough as nails Andris Biedrins. Hit the glass only on one hook shot and then came up four feet wide right on a jump shot. Settled down a bit and started showing all kinds of nice moves inside, before nailing the 14 foot jump shot with the greatest of ease. Ramos has some major issues with his rebounding and man to man defense. He gets caught ball-watching too often and makes little to no effort to actually box out. He got into it a little with Chris Taft and was lucky not to get a technical foul like Taft did. Both players came off looking very immature.
For the 2nd straight game, Ramos was a non-factor in the 2nd half. He has major problems maintaining a consistent level of intensity throughout the course of the game, looking very lost running up and down the floor in a game like this and making a lot of mistakes defensively and on the glass. He finished with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 6 turnovers and 6 fouls in 29 minutes.
Gerald Fitch- Fitch is really good at what he does, which is putting the ball in the hoop. He surely isnt a PG and Washingtons offense indeed looked very stagnant at times, but its not because hes a selfish player, more because of a lack of experience at the position (he played the two mostly at Kentucky next to Cliff Hawkins). He is very hard to stop from getting in the lane, though, and was money around the rim every single time, either using his quickness and toughness to get to the line or putting it in the basket himself.
Fitch slowed down a bit in the 4th in the absence of minutes because of the way Taylor and Hawkins were playing, but still did a pretty solid job here once again, finishing with 18 points thanks to all the technical foul shots after each Diogu foul he had after his sixth. He seems to have a decent shot at making that team.
Donell Taylor- Wasnt shooting the ball extremely well, but used his quickness very well to get into the paint and go to the line. Also made a couple of nice passes and generally continued the strong impression weve had of him since the summer league started. The kid has some serious talent, he would have done even more if it wasnt for some bogus calls by the refs.
Solid 2nd half from Taylor as well. He hit the three and then made a gorgeous move to the basket starting at one end and then kissing if off the glass from the other. He was playing the point and making good decisions mixing up his scoring with his passing. He finished with 15 points and 3 steals in 33 minutes.
David Hawkins- Hawkins didnt get a whole lot of playing time because of the way Fitch and Taylor were playing, but he looked very good in the few minutes he did get today. Hes got to be the toughest SOB in this summer league, showing absolutely no fear taking the ball to the basket, playing great D guarding the 1 or the 2, battling for rebounds underneath, but also not being selfish with the ball in his hands despite the fact that he didnt have a lot of chances to prove himself. If his outside shot was just a little more consistent and he maybe handled the ball a little better he probably wouldnt even have to be here. He finished with 6 points and 3 steals in 14 minutes.
Andris Biedrins- Anrdris is having a tremendous first half of basketball. Paired against a much larger foe, Peter John Ramos, Biedrins has not been impressed. Andris active feet have him flying all over the court and is getting rebounds, blocks, and points because of it. Biedrins had a series where he collected two outstanding blocks, the first on PJR and the second immediately after it on the put back attempt by Hiram Fuller. Andris has great post instincts and very sure hands. At one point he had a pass whipped at his jest at close range and was able to recover without skipping a beat to make his move and get to the line. Biedrins finished the half with 4 points and 6 rebounds to go with his 3 blocks.
Biedrins second half was all about rebounding and solid post presence. Biedrins is a plus rebounder on both the offensive and defensive ends because his hands are sure and his instincts are sound. Really knows when to move to what position on the floor to make himself a part of the play, definitely not a napper. He was credited for 9 points and 9 rebounds, but we counted a good 13-14 boards for him throughout the game.
Monta Ellis-Monta is still making himself an active presence on both ends of the court and seems to have a real sense for where the ball will be. Hes scrappy and has really grown on me over the first few days, but he needs to temper his enthusiasm for the pull up three. The young kid has the handle and awareness to play the point position, he makes solid inlet passes and has shown the ability to make the more difficult dishes off the dribble. Must continue to refine his decision making, but hell have that luxury on a Warriors team that is deep at guard. Made a tough fade-away baseline jumper under duress with time expiring in the first half. Monta finished with 12 points for the half.
Ellis had another solid half both shooting and scrapping. Monta continues to show that hes unafraid to stick his nose into the trees and comes out with some surprising steals and rebounds because of it. The more confidence he gained the better his decision making became, which is strange because usually players take foolish chances when they feel it going too much. Ellis made had one beautiful series where he came up with the steal and instantly advanced it to his runners for the easy score. On the next possession Monta took the ball hard-right and dropped a pretty teardrop floater into the basket with such a soft touch it barely moved the net. Activity is the name of this kids game, hes always trying to do something and thats never a bad thing. Ellis really showed the Warriors something with the way he played here. He was personally called over for a chat midway through the game with Chris Mullin. He finished with 19 points on 7-20 shooting.
Chris Taft-Taft has played a pretty gritty game so far. He mixed it up with PJR early on and got a technical foul for his trouble. When Taft remains active and interested he looks like a player, but his motor is always a question. At one point Taft called for the ball continuously without establishing position and turned right into the double team for the turnover. Taft gingerly jogged up the court like he could care less that play was going on and seemed caught up in the previous play. While this behavior is typical out of many NBA players, Taft is a second round pick and has been questioned for his intensity so he can ill afford to show a lack of hustle. Still, Taft got some tough boards and made some nice post moves under decent pressure so hes not a lost cause, just a mixed bag.
Taft started off the 2nd half pretty well but had to sit out most of it after taking a nasty fall on the floor after an attempted dunk. He hurt his back on the play and was on the sidelines stretching for the rest of the game. He finished with 9 points and 5 rebounds in 15 minutes.
Zarko Cabarkapa- Zarko was impressive in the first half against Andray Blatche, a good matchup from a size, length, and style perspective. Zarko made a number of plays from the wing and both created shots for himself and others. Zarko has very good body control and is sure of himself when he makes his move, rarely getting into trouble and wisely sticking to the middle instead of getting trapped on the baseline. Zarkos overall speed and explosiveness isnt anything special, but he has a good handle and knows the game well so it isnt an issue. Zarko finished with 11 points in the half.
Zarko continued to run the floor in the second half and good things happened because of it. When running the break Zarko can fill the role of finisher, distributer, and creator. Nice game for him as his outside shot finally started dropping. He finished with 18 points.
Ike Diogu-Ike came alive in the second half after a no-show due to foul trouble early. Diogu grabbed tough rebounds in traffic on both sides of the floor and used his body to create space for his shot. Ike also picked up 10 personal fouls in the process, but that was more of an indication of his activity then anything else. Ike didnt score a ton of points, but he really got after it. He finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds.
Accurecruit.com will have all of the Vegas Summer League games on their site for you to view. Right now there are select games along with a great free three minute highlight clip of some of the best plays seen in Vegas. Head over to Accurecruit.com's website and check out what they have to offer. On Tuesday, July 26th the entire Summer League will be up for you to view