2019 Eastern Conference Summer League Notes

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2019 Eastern Conference Summer League Notes 

Post#1 » by RealGM Articles » Thu Jul 25, 2019 2:41 am

As one of craziest offseasons in NBA history began to wind down, so was NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Summer League is one of the few times on the NBA calendar where all 30 teams are together. This allows for a lot of conversations over the course of a week in Las Vegas, and this summer there were no shortage of topics. More than 125 players have changed teams since the end of the 18-19 season, or 25% of the NBA. With so much turnover, and another exciting draft class, teams had lots and lots to say. On to the notes!


League-wide



  • Most teams expect to see this sort of player movement on a semi-regular basis. Multiple team executives said versions of the following: “With our contracts so short, it’s going to happen. And the reality is, that even with a five- or six-year deal, players will ask out. Teams have gotten better about setting up their cap sheet for the future too. So, every three to four years, we’ll see this type of re-set.”

  • On the sequence of the offseason: “It’s something that has come up. At least half the league would like to see free agency before the draft. It will continue to be discussed. But moving the draft changes when we do this (Summer League), and we don’t want to stretch it back too far into NFL camps opening. But there will be change at some point.”

  • On superstar duos versus trios: “It was bound to happen. It’s so hard to have three stars and to build a quality roster around them. Two makes things much easier. Maybe not in year one, but in years two through four. Unless we have another huge spike in the cap coming, it’s probably going to be this way. And spreading out the talent is best for the game.”

  • If expansion is inevitable: “Probably, but I hate it. But it’s probably best for the game to have more cities. I just don’t want to water down the league. We’re in great shape right now. But as the commissioner keeps saying, it will happen eventually.”

  • If the schedule should be changed: “Yes. Shortened down in some way. Maybe have a mid-season tournament where players with less than four years of experience can play and you can pull up G-League guys just for that tournament. It would give us an evaluation period for our younger players mid-season. And they’ll probably work in more international trips too. It will be give and take, but it’s coming to a head.”


Atlanta Hawks



  • Team executive on the young core: “We are incredibly happy with the way our team has come together. We’ve got talent, but just as importantly, all of that talent fits together on the floor. That matters.”

  • Hawks coach on John Collins: “He’s going to be an All-Star really soon. He’s already a great rebounder and scorer inside. We’ll challenge him to stretch his range even more this year. He took three three-pointers per game last year (2.6 3PA), and hit 35% (34.8 3P%), so it’s there for him. Needs to get better defensively, but that will come.”

  • Team executive on the roster building strategy this summer: “We took on a few questionable deals, but we’re running out of time to do that sort of thing. This year, maybe next, is the last time we can do that. Then we’ll really push things forward. But, those guys aren’t bad players either. (Allen) Crabbe and (Evan) Turner are going to play for us and help us.”

  • On signing Jabari Parker: “We needed someone on the second unit who could score. We went through periods last year where our second unit couldn’t put any points on the board. Jabari can do that for us. He was really good post-trade deadline last year. He looks healthy and ready to go. We think we got a steal.”


Boston Celtics



  • Team executive on the culture/atmosphere: “It was never as bad as some make it out to be, but it was never as good as some of the reports either. Look, we had a lot of egos to manage and it didn’t work the way we hoped for. The young guys earned everything the prior year. The vets came back expecting to step right back in. We’ll have better balance and fit this year.”

  • On adding Kemba Walker: “He wanted to be in Boston and we’re beyond excited to have him. This guy never misses time. Loves being in the gym. Embraces the kids. It’s a perfect fit.”

  • On losing Al Horford: “Huge. I mean what else could I say? He and Marcus (Smart) did everything for us defensively. It’s a big loss on that end. Offensively, we’ll figure it out easier, but we’re going to miss Al’s screening and passing a lot. But Brad (Stevens) is already at work tweaking the schemes for the new guys.”

  • Celtics coach on maybe taking a step back: “As a coach, I can’t think that way. It’s always about moving forward. That’s how Brad (Stevens) pushes us. Can’t change what happened, but learn from it and move forward. We’ve still got a ton of talent on this team and everyone should be excited for what’s to come.”


Brooklyn Nets



  • Opposing executive on the Nets summer: “Hard to hate on them. They paid (DeAndre) Jordan too much, but whatever. That helped them get Kyrie (Irving) and (Kevin) Durant. This year will be a transition year, but I think they’ll be pretty good anyway. Next year? If KD is back, look out.”

  • Nets coach on their additions: “We should be pretty good. We have competition up and down the roster. That’s what we’re all about. No one gets a free roster spot here. That keeps us hungry and working.”

  • Opposing coach on adding Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant: “I don’t know. I loved what they had built. Kyrie is a different dude. You have to build around him, because he’s not plug and play. KD is great, but he’s hurt. And last year we all thought ‘Boston gets to add guys to that roster?’ and that didn’t work out so great. I guess we’ll see.”

  • Opposing Eastern Conference guard on the Nets: “They were already tough, now you’ve got to defend Kyrie and the others? C’mon man. And DeAndre (Jordan) will let you know he’s there by dropping you with a screen. They’re gonna be good. Really good. Then they get KD? That seems almost unfair.”

  • Team executive on Kevin Durant: “There will be no pressure for him to return even one day before he is ready. If anything, we’ll hold him back. This isn’t a one year thing for us or Kevin. This is an agreement for four years at least. Big picture will rule this one.”


Charlotte Hornets



  • Team executive on adding Terry Rozier: “We love his competitiveness. We all saw what he did when he was Boston’s starter. That’s the guy we are getting. We feel confident Terry will be terrific for us as we launch a new era.”

  • Opposing executive on adding Rozier: “They wouldn’t pay Kemba, but I get it. That was too much money for an aging, small guard. But to give as much as they did to Rozier, with no one else at point guard to challenge him? I wouldn’t have done that.”

  • Hornets coach on Miles Bridges: “He said he wasn’t in great shape last year, and maybe he wasn’t. But we think he’s going to be really good for us this year. He’s a worker and a humble kid. Did you see him tell people he deserved no accolades after his rookie year? I mean, he was right, but most guys his age won’t own that. We’re lucky to have him.”

  • On Dwayne Bacon: “The opportunity is there for him to take Jeremy’s (Lamb) spot. Dwayne can score. If he wants to play more, he needs to be a passer and defender too.”

  • Team executive on Malik Monk and a make-or-break season: “I won’t say that, but it’s getting closer. This is probably the best chance he has had at consistent minutes. It’s up to him to make the most of this opportunity.”

  • On P.J. Washington: “Disappointing we didn’t get to see P.J. play here in Vegas, but we aren’t rushing the kid. We think he can be a really good four in our league. He’s got good size and ability to step outside. He fits well with our other young guys too.”

  • On the roster overall: “We aren’t where we want or need to be. We recognize that. But we’re doing what we can to reset things. We have a great coach. We drafted guys in the first and second rounds who are going to compete. And our cap sheet clears up a lot after this season. We feel good about what is being built here.”


Chicago Bulls



  • Team executive on Coby White: “Love him. Think he’s competitive at the position with fantastic size. He’ll be a better shooter, because he’ll work at it. He’s going to have to work for his spot, because we’ve got other point guards in front of him that he’ll need to pass, but that’s good for him.”

  • On Daniel Gafford: “Should have been a first rounder. That was fortunate for us. He’s tough, he’s active. He’s got good size. Eventually he can play next to Wendell (Carter Jr.) and Lauri (Markkanen) too, which is important for us.

  • On adding Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky: “We think they are the ideal third big and third guard for us. Thad will bring a level of professionalism to a young locker room. And Tomas is going to push our guards. He can start or come off the bench and be equally effective. We’re thrilled with these two guys on our roster.”

  • On Kris Dunn: “It hasn’t gone how we or Kris hoped, but he’s still a good player. He’ll be pushed more this season than ever before. Sometimes that brings out the best in a player.”

  • Bulls coach on this season: “I think we have enough now to be a playoff team. Our kids will get better, our vets are already good. Otto (Porter Jr.) is really going to help us a lot. We got a couple months of it last year, but all season that will be good. I worry about a young guard leading things, but we’ve got enough to get him through it.”


Cleveland Cavaliers



  • Team executive on a “quiet” offseason: “Our focus was on the draft. We think we got three long-term rotation players in Darius (Garland), Dylan (Windler) and Kevin (Porter Jr.) at the draft. They can all play together too, which is important. As for the rest, we weren’t in position to add any free agents. We talked trades, but nothing that made sense for us right now. It’s an ever-evolving process. We have until February to keep changing things.”

  • On getting Darius Garland at the draft: “We didn’t think he’d be there. Some think he’s not an ideal fit with Collin Sexton, but we think it will be fine. Collin can defend the bigger guys and Darius isn’t tiny either. Teams have done well with smaller backcourts. Remember, they have to defend us too.”

  • On keeping veterans like Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson: “It’s easy to say we should be dumping all of our vets. We get it. But the reality is that the best thing for young players it to be in competitive situations. Guys like Kevin and Tristan and Jordan (Clarkson) will help us stay competitive. If the right opportunity comes up to improve our team moving forward, we’ll discuss it. Until then, we’re happy to move forward with what we have.”


Detroit Pistons



  • Pistons coach on Bruce Brown’s play in Vegas: “We knew what he could do. We saw it every day in practice. When he got a chance to start, he wasn’t always good, but he was never scared or over his head. He’s a terrific all-around player and will continue to be a big part of our rotation.”

  • Team executive on adding veterans this summer: “Adding Markieff Morris, Derrick Rose and Tony Snell is huge for us. Backup bigs were an issue the last couple of years. Morris solves that. We hated to lose Ish Smith, but Derrick will be terrific in that role. And he’s an accomplished starter if we need him to do that. Tony probably starts for us. This is a guy who has had some big time play in the past. Now he’s getting to play off Blake (Griffin) and that will be just like playing off Giannis (Antetokounmpo) for him.”

  • Opposing executive on the Pistons outlook for the season: “They’ll be about the same. Maybe a little better. The problem is that (Blake) Griffin can’t stay healthy. He’s awesome when he’s there. He can do it all now. But he’s always got something going on. And they don’t have a replacement. (Markieff) Morris is a nice backup, but he can’t do any of the stuff Griffin can.”


Indiana Pacers



  • Opposing executive on the Pacers summer: “They did it again. Kevin Pritchard is pretty good at creating a lot of nothing. Sure, he had cap space this summer, but he got two starters who are as good as or better than the ones he lost. He added some bench guys who are better than the ones he lost. And he’s got kids who are ready to step forward. It’s never flashy, but it’s always good.”

  • Pacers executive on the upcoming season: “We lost a lot of minutes. That’s what we are focused on replacing. And we won’t have Victor Oladipo for a while either. But we think we added the right kind of guys to make up for what we lost and not having Victor. And Domantas Sabonis and Aaron Holiday are ready for bigger roles.”

  • Pacers coach on starting Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis together: “I’ve heard guys say it won’t work. But that’s silly. Domas started next to Steven Adams for the Thunder. That’s way harder than starting with Myles. We’ll be fine. It should also help our rebounding. People leave that out as a part of defense, but it matters. A lot more than most give it credit.”

  • Opposing player on Indiana as a free agent destination: “It’s not Los Angeles, Miami or New York. But all they do is win. That matters. I didn’t go there, but not because I wasn’t interested. They just got other guys signed before we talked to them. I don’t know if superstars are lining up for Indiana, but all the next guys are. And guys love playing for Nate (McMillian).


Miami Heat



  • Opposing executive on Miami adding Jimmy Butler: “You add Jimmy, you better be sure. I bet Spo (Erik Spoelstra) and Pat (Riley) are sure. And they are probably right. But that dude can ruin your whole deal if he’s not happy. And when has he ever been happy?”

  • Miami coach on the team’s summer: “I think we have better balance now. And we opened up some opportunities for the kids. Bam (Adebayo) and Tyler (Herro) are big parts of our future, but also our present. They’ve got the chance to do stuff now.”

  • Team executive on Goran Dragic and trade rumors: “It is what it is. Goran has been around a long time. He gets it. He’ll do what he has to do and come in ready to play. We don’t worry about that.”

  • Team executive on what’s next for the roster: “Nothing. We are barely under the hard cap. We are what we are probably. I know you want me to say a certain name, but I’m not going to do that. We’re moving forward with the guys we have and we feel good about that.”

  • Miami coach on the non-guaranteed players: “I’ll put our group of guys fighting for roster spots against anyone’s. Kendrick Nunn balled out all summer long. He’s been killing guys in our facility too. Duncan Robinson can flat out play. He’s an NBA guy. Yante Maten will do whatever you ask. And people forget Derrick Jones, but that’s ok. He should be guaranteed with the way he plays. Put those guys with Bam (Adebayo) and Tyler (Herro) and KZ (Okpala) and that’s a group you can do a lot of stuff with. And they’ll make our vets better by making them work in practice every day.”


Milwaukee Bucks



  • Team executive on the upcoming season: “We think we’re the best team in the NBA. We hit a buzz saw in Toronto in the playoffs, but all year long we were the best team in the league. We have the MVP, the Coach of the Year and the Executive of the Year. What’s not to like about us?”

  • On the team’s offseason: “It was complicated. We had to retain the right guys, while also adding some help. We would have loved to keep Malcolm Brogdon, but that number got too big for us to match and too big for him to turn down. We got a future pick out of the deal, so that helps. But we kept Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, and added Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews. And we don’t think we are done yet. We’ve got a little room to keep working.”

  • A follow-up after adding Kyle Korver this week: “I told you we would keep working! (laughs) And we aren’t done either. Probably no more big moves, but adding Korver will be huge for us. He’s the best shooter in the league, still. Even at his age. And he knows our coaches. This will work out great.”

  • Opposing executive on the Bucks’ future: “They’ve got everything you could ask for. They have the MVP. They’ve got guys who fit with him perfectly. Their governors are committed to spending where it makes sense. New arena. Passionate fans. But…if they don’t win soon, does Giannis (Antetokounmpo) stay there? I’m not saying win a title, but get to the Finals at least. Look, I’ve been through this with one of my guys. It sucks. You hear it, read it and have to deal with it for years. And you know your guy hears it too. You just hope it doesn’t get too much in his head.”


New York Knicks



  • Team executive on Mitchell Robinson: “Let’s get it out of the way, since you forgot Mitchell Robinson last year! (laughs) He’s a beast. I looked at David (Fizdale) after about five minutes of play here (Summer League) and said “Mitch doesn’t need to be out there.” But he wanted to play! He’s a problem for 29 other teams and he’s still figuring out how to play.

  • On building the roster: “Fine, we didn’t get a star. Maybe it wasn’t the right year to get a star. And I know you’ve been making the power forward jokes too. I see your Twitter! (laughs) But we like what we did. Almost all those deals are one-year deals with very little money committed after this year. We could have just gone super young, but we didn’t think that was the right thing to do. Maybe by the (trade) deadline, we will. But we think our guys all fit really well together and that we’re gonna be competitive. And that’s a great environment for the kids to learn in.”

  • Follow-up on adding Marcus Morris: “Another power forward, right? (laughs) You cover the Celtics. You know Morris can play either forward spot. Let’s just say the price was right and opportunity was there. We felt like this was a no-brainer for us.”

  • Opposing scout on R.J. Barrett: “I want to like the kid, but I have worries. Is he (Andrew) Wiggins 2.0? I think he’s got more fire than Wiggins, but he is like a lefty version of him for me somewhat. The best thing the Knicks did was bring in some vets who will kick his ass if he’s too cool. I will say he passes it better already than Wiggins ever has. Maybe he’s Evan Turner 2.0?”

  • On Kevin Knox: “I’m just as worried about Knox. Not his game as much. They’ll beat those bad shots out of him eventually. But he’s got too much overlap at his position now. He needs to play and play a lot. Maybe in the second half of the year.”

  • Opposing executive on the Knicks offseason: “We were all confused. All of us. But when you take a step back, they had a pretty clear direction that makes sense. Maybe the pieces are a little weird, but they’re all one-year deals. They can trade a bunch of those guys to contenders at the trade deadline. I know Knicks fans want stars, but if you can’t get them, keep a clean cap sheet. They did that.”


Orlando Magic



  • Team executive on their summer: “We wanted to keep this thing moving forward. We have quality people and quality players. Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross were huge parts of our success last year. We wanted to reward that, while also being responsible to the team. We think we accomplished that.”

  • On drafting Chuma Okeke: “Too much value for where we got him to pass on him. We believe he would have been a lottery pick if he hadn’t gotten hurt. Because of our depth, we can afford to give him time to get back.”

  • On adding Al-Farouq Aminu: “Perfect fit as a bench player for us. Our bench is one of the best in the NBA. And they are all workers. Farouq will also give us the depth we need if we have injuries up front again. And he’s a winner. Thrilled to have him.”

  • On Mo Bamba’s development: “Mo had a lost rookie season. Just as he was starting to figure things out, he got hurt. But we love Mo. He’s just a great kid. We think he’ll be terrific eventually. Re-signing Vooch (Nikola Vucevic) means we can keep working with Mo, who was always a bit of a project.”

  • Opposing coach on the Magic: “I bet they get off to a great start and make the playoffs again. They brought everyone back and everyone else changed so much. That gives them a leg up right out of the gate. And they were already pretty good. I bet by Christmas we are all saying ‘The Magic? Wow!’ They’re going to be a good team again.”


Philadelphia 76ers



  • Team executive on their offseason: “First, let’s recognize we lost some talent. But I think we more than replaced those who left. Al Horford is a game-changer for us. He’ll help the young guys grow up, while also being a really productive player on both ends. And Josh Richardson is a terrific player. I don’t know if people understand how improved he’s been offensively over the last couple of years, while maintaining his good defense.

  • Opposing coach on the new lineup: “It’s going to be hard to score on them. They’re huge. (Josh) Richardson is the smallest guy and he’s 6’6’’ and long. And he can defend point guards, which they didn’t have last year. I guess you try to isolate (Tobias) Harris and make him defend in space? He’s got to play on the perimeter a lot now, because he’s the three. That might be where most teams try to attack.”

  • 76ers coach on the new lineup: “We’re going to stress patience from day one. We’ve made a lot of changes. It will take time. But I think we can rely on our defense while we figure things out offensively. The good news is that our talent is as deep as it has been since we started this thing. Zhaire (Smith) and Matisse (Thybulle) are going to play for us at some point this year. They are both too good and too forceful to keep off the floor.”

  • Opposing executive on expectations: “They’re a title contender. Them and the Bucks in the East, right? Toronto takes a step back, Boston isn’t there. Neither is Indiana or Miami. That window is open, but it might be a short one. (Al) Horford is starting to slow down and he’s key for them.”

  • 76ers coach on the rotation: “I expect we’ll give Al (Horford) and Joel (Embiid) plenty of days off throughout the year. No reason to push either guy. But it’s a balancing act. We have to play them enough to get comfortable with each other, but keep the end goal in mind.”


Toronto Raptors



  • Raptors coach on a title hangover: “I don’t know. I’ve never had a title before! (laughs) We’ll see. I think our guys are hungry. I already talked to a couple of them and they said ‘People are already counting us out and we don’t even have our rings yet.’ That tells me the guys are ready to remind everyone who they are.”

  • Team executive on expectations for this season: “To defend our title. Look, we lost some key guys. But we have a lot of very good players coming back. Pascal Siakam will be an All-Star this season. OG Anunoby got forgotten because he got hurt. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson are ready to prove they shouldn’t have been given up on. And Kyle (Lowry), Marc (Gasol) and Serge (Ibaka) will keep everyone motivated and ready to go.”

  • Opposing executive on what’s next for Toronto: “They’re going to know by the New Year if they are title contenders or if they should tear it all down. (Kyle) Lowry, (Marc) Gasol and (Serge) Ibaka will all have some value to contenders at the trade deadline. Might be hard to match salary, but Masai (Ujiri) will figure it out. And if there is one guy you want in charge of a rebuild, it’s him.”

  • Opposing player on Toronto’s season: “I’ve been there. We won a title and lost some of the key guys. It sucked. All we wanted was to run it back one more year, but we didn’t get the chance. At least this wasn’t the team’s decision, but the decision of the guys who left. Maybe that motivates the guys who are left.”


Washington Wizards



  • Team executive on their offseason: “It might not be the consensus, but we think we had an outstanding offseason. We kept Thomas Bryant, who is growing into a terrific center. We added two guys in Davis Bertans and C.J. Miles who could start for us. We got a couple of point guards in Ish Smith and Isaiah Thomas who are proven guys. And we feel like we nailed the draft with Rui Hachimura and Admiral Schofield.”

  • On keeping Bradley Beal: “It’s easy to say ‘They should have traded Bradley Beal’, but it’s not that easy to do. If we trade him, we’re telling our fans that this is it for the year. We like our kids in Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura and Troy Brown Jr., but we haven’t had a high pick in a while. So, we’re rebuilding without that benefit. Beal keeps us competitive while the kids learn. That’s important.”

  • On working around John Wall’s contract: “I don’t like to think of it that way. John has been an important part of our success. We think he can get back to that guy, but it won’t be next year. So, sure that leaves us with an obstacle. But I think of it in terms of missing a great player versus having a terrible contract. Let’s just see what John is when he gets back. Then we can revisit this conversation.”

  • Opposing executive on trying to trade for Bradley Beal: “They were upfront and honest from the start and told us that it would take an enormous haul. We weren’t ready to give up that much. I think they’ve been sincere when they’ve said publicly said they aren’t trading Beal. He’s too important to what they want to be.”

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