2019 Eastern Conference Offseason Chatter From Summer League

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2019 Eastern Conference Offseason Chatter From Summer League 

Post#1 » by RealGM Articles » Fri Jul 26, 2019 10:27 pm

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



  • On tampering: “We all do it, but this summer got out of control. We all love the 6:00 PM start to free agency. Especially the East Coast teams. But when things are starting the day before, it’s just silly. But if you keep things quiet and not public, it’s fine. But when you start openly leaking things a day early, it’s easy to see why the league is concerned.”

  • Coaches on the new challenge system: “We’ll see how it works. I mean we want the calls to be right, but there is a human element. And you challenge the same ref too many times, do you risk pissing him off? And you know the league doesn’t want games going longer. But it’s a good thing to get things right.”

  • Follow-up on players pulling out of the World Cup: “I’m not surprised. It’s not soccer. The World Cup isn’t the Olympics for basketball. It’s just not as important. And when every team looks different from a month ago, guys are going to focus on the upcoming season. I know our governors and coaches and happy our guys are staying home. We need all the bonding time we can get.”


Dallas Mavericks



  • Opposing executive on Kristaps Porzingis’ max extension: “It’s tough. First, you have to believe he’s fully recovered from the ACL. I assume they do. Then, is he really a max guy? Signs were there before he got hurt for sure. I worry about some of this off-court stuff that has come up. Sometimes these young guys become someone different on us. I know Dallas does their homework though. They must believe it will all be fine.”

  • Opposing coach on Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis as a duo: “A guy who is 20 and a guy who is 24? We should all be so lucky. I hear so much ‘Doncic is close to a finished product’ stuff. Who is saying that? Not anyone in the league that I know. He can get in better shape. He can improve his defense, which will come when he gets in better shape. And K.P. was just becoming an unstoppable scorer. I do think they need to be careful with how hard they push him. Not sure a guy who is that big can go 35 minutes a night for all 82. But that’s one hell of a pair to build around.”

  • Team executive on the rest of the offseason: “We had the flexibility to go a lot of ways. We chose to stay over the cap, because it gives us more options in-season. And we still added guys. (Seth) Curry and (Delon) Wright are fantastic fits with the guys we are bringing back. We think we have as much shooting as any team in the league now.”


Denver Nuggets



  • Team executive on a quiet offseason: “It was sort of by design. We did a lot of stuff the last couple of years. We have a pretty full roster. We’re thrilled to have Paul (Millsap) back. We think adding Jerami Grant gives us a dimension at the forward spot that we didn’t have. As for the rest, it was about retaining and growing our young core. That’s what we’re built around.”

  • On taking the next step to contender: “The playoffs didn’t go our way. We own that. That’s on us, the coaches and the players. But sometimes getting hit in the mouth makes you come back hungrier than before. Now our guys have had a little taste. They want more. That’s part of what will push us forward.”

  • On locking up Jamal Murray: “We see him as being just as important as Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris. Very few guys have had the impact as a shooter and scorer that Jamal has had at such a young age.”

  • Opposing coach on Denver’s upcoming season: “They are really tough to stop offensively. Having a 7-footer running the offense will do that. But defensively, there are spot you can really go at. Their best guy is Millsap and he’s getting older now. They aren’t bad on that end, but if you pick your spots and patiently work the ball, they seem to lose focus. That’s how we go at them. Clean that up, and they might be the best team in the league.”


Golden State Warriors



  • Team executive on their summer: “Well, it was something. As someone who lives this stuff, these are the kinds of offseason you live for. So many moving parts, we had to use every single inch of the CBA and cap rules. Are we still a good team? We think so. We’re happy with what we have and we’ve got incredible flexibility moving forward.”

  • On D’Angelo Russell being a tradable asset moving forward: “I’m trying to be nice, but that is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. A 23-year-old All-Star on a four-year deal better be someone you can trade easily, or we’re all idiots. Did we sign D’Angelo to trade him? No. We signed him because we had an opportunity to land an All-Star to replace the All-Star we were losing. Let’s not play conspiracy theory here.”

  • On the team’s depth: “It’s a challenge for sure. And Steve (Kerr) likes to play a lot of guys. But we love the kids we brought in and think they’ll be competitive. We have vets who have been given up on that we know can play. It’ll be a lot of mixing and matching all year, but that is what Steve does anyway.”

  • Opposing executive on if the Warriors are the “Warriors” anymore: “I don’t know. I really don’t. Losing (Kevin) Durant hurts. Not having Klay (Thompson) hurts. But they’ve still got Steph (Curry). They’ve got (Draymond) Green in a contract year. (D’Angelo) Russell will be good for them. (Kevon) Looney is someone a lot of teams missed out on getting this summer. So, they are still good. For-sure contenders good? I don’t know. But I wouldn’t want to see them in the playoffs with Klay back and them rounding into form.”


Houston Rockets



  • Opposing executive on where the Rockets stand: “Whoever that anonymous player was that said ‘don’t panic’ might have saved them. Swapping (Chris) Paul for (Russell) Westbrook is an upgrade I think. It’s up to Mike D’Antoni to stagger (James) Harden and Westbrook some. If they do that, holy cow are they hard to defend. And they kept all the other important guys. They need a couple more forwards, but they’ll figure that out. I think they’re the best team in the Western Conference right now.”

  • Rockets coach on fitting in Russell Westbrook: “It’s not like Chris Paul was easy to fit in. And that’s not a knock on Chris. Him and James (Harden) are two dudes who are used to having the ball a lot. Now it’s Russ and James. We’ll figure it out. The good news is that those two guys have history together and loved playing together. That makes everything easier.”

  • Team executive on what’s next for the roster: “Keep tinkering. We have a very small amount of guaranteed contracts. That gives us a ton of flexibility to move things around. Someone else will pop free and we’ll be right there. Our starting five is as good as any in the NBA. We have solid depth already. Can we upgrade the bench? Sure. But it’s okay. And we don’t play a ton of bench guys anyway. It will be fine.”

  • Opposing player on the Rockets upcoming season: “They are a pain to play against and Russ (Westbrook) makes it that much harder. With Chris (Paul) he picks his spots. You can see when he’s gonna take a couple of possessions and spot up off (James) Harden. Russ doesn’t do that. You have to be ready or he’s at the rim dunking or dishing.”

  • Opposing coach on Russell Westbrook’s fit: “I bet he has an all-time year off the ball. He’s a fantastic cutter, but never got to use it much because the Thunder’s passing stunk. (James) Harden will dime him up a ton on baseline cuts. If they can get Westbrook to play at like 80% speed sometimes, it will best for him and them. I don’t know if he’s wired that way though. If he insists on being ‘the man’, it will be a problem. But I bet him and Harden have already talked and are ready to make it work.”


Los Angeles Clippers



  • Team executive on their offseason: “We had clear goals. Everyone could see that. But having goals and accomplishing them are very different things. We had to do a lot to get the guys we got, but we think we’re a title contender in a wide-open league. That should be the goal for everyone.”

  • On how they were able to add Kawhi Leonard and Paul George: “What was a different for us is that we didn’t have to gut our roster for cap space to sign both of them. Having productive players already signed was huge for us. That allowed us to add two All-Stars to an already good group of players. Acquiring Paul George cost us a lot, but that was the move to get Kawhi Leonard too. So, it’s almost like that was a trade for two players.”

  • On having enough shooting: “We think we’re fine there, but you can never really have enough shooting. (Paul) George and Kawhi (Leonard) are both good shooters. And we were able to keep Landry Shamet too. He’s going to be a huge part of our team.”

  • Opposing executive on the Clippers roster: “They are really, really deep. They’ve got 10 quality guys. That’s big in a couple of ways. In games, you can mix and match to whatever you need. And when guys have to miss games, you’ve got more than enough depth. They probably need another big, but they’ll figure that out. Maybe a pure backup point guard, but they can figure that out too.”

  • Opposing coach on going against the Clippers new look: “First, how do you score? They’ve got three All-Defense guys in the starting five. Green is an underrated defender too. You’re going to have to run really crisp stuff or have amazing talent to get points on them. On the other end, they could be hard to guard too. You probably want to force them to shoot jumpers, but it’s not like those guys are bad shooters. It’s certainly the best Clippers team I’ve seen in my 30-plus years in the NBA.”


Los Angeles Lakers



  • Lakers coach on the offseason additions: “You mean us right? The coaching staff? (laughs) I know you don’t. You could probably coach this team. (laughs) I can’t wait to get to work with these guys. We have one of the best of all-time in LeBron (James) and then we get to add A.D. (Anthony Davis) too? Yeah, you’ll take that. But the rest of the roster is full of smart vets who all work. It’s up to us as a staff to get them working together. But we’ll figure that out over the next couple of months. It will take some time, but all these pieces fit well together.”

  • Opposing executive on the Lakers summer: “Did Rob (Pelinka) make some missteps? Yes, he did. But we all do. The important thing is how you come back. And he did that in a big way. Now, it has to work, because you gave up everything for (Anthony) Davis. I’m in the camp of it being worth it. There are only so many true superstars in our league. Davis is one of them. That matters. And he’s hitting his prime. What they’ve done is built a five- to six-year window from James to Davis. That’s all you can ask for.”

  • Opposing coach on playing the new-look Lakers: “Well, LeBron will be engaged again. We caught them later in the year last season and he was kind of checked out at that point. I bet he has an MVP type of season. I mean, he was better than 90% of the league last year when he didn’t really care. Him and Davis will be a tough cover. They’ve got shooting this year. They can play in the post with (DeMarcus) Cousins. They’ve got some defenders. It’s going to be a good group. I just hope we get them early while they are still figuring things out.”

  • Team executive on expectations: “I know you want me to say a title, and that’s always the goal, but we have smaller stuff to accomplish first. We’ll keep that in-house, but you want to take a progressive approach to things. Walk before you run sort of stuff. But yes, our end goal is to win championships.”


Memphis Grizzlies



  • Team executive on their offseason: “We had some goals set for ourselves and we think we accomplished almost all of them. We wanted to get young talent and we did with that Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke at the draft, and then with all the guys we got in trades and free agency. And we added some veterans who will help too. It’s a new era for us, but we think we’ve got guys with that mindset to come in and work that we love.”

  • On expectations for Ja Morant as a rookie: “Learn and get better. That’s all. To put stat benchmarks on him would be silly and not productive. If he’s a better player month-by-month, that is what we want. And if we get to the end of the year and can say he is much improved from the start of the year, it was a successful season.”

  • On trading Mike Conley: “I want to say bittersweet, but it’s not really good enough. He was our franchise guy for as long as anyone. In recent years we’ve lost Mike, Marc (Gasol) Zach (Randolph) and Tony (Allen). For us, that’s like losing your franchise, but watching it happen one-by-one. We are thrilled with the return we got for Mike, and that he’s in such a great place with Utah, but boy are we going to miss him too.”

  • On how the Conley trade came together: “It’s no secret we had talks at the trade deadline, but making a trade that big then is hard. You know how hard it is to match salary at that time of year without gutting your roster. But, it does lay a foundation that is easy to get back to. That happens all the time in our league. You talk in-season and then return to it in the offseason.”

  • On Jaren Jackson Jr. and his upside: “We think the world of Jaren. He’s going to be a star, because he wants it. This kid is such a hard worker. And he’s just figuring it all out and putting it all together. He’s got the size to do it all, but the skill to do it all too. That’s a rare combination.”

  • On the plans for the veterans: “Help the kids grow. Help us compete. Everyone assumes we’re in the business of re-trading the veterans. Maybe it comes to that later, but right now, we want to win and compete. Guys learn best when there are stakes. Sure, that could change later. But not today.”


Minnesota Timberwolves



  • Team executive on a relative quiet offseason: “Well, we tried to do some stuff, but it just didn’t come together. That happens every summer. But we think we added really good players who fit well with the guys we are bringing back. We more or less re-made our entire bench. That should allow us to not see a big drop-off when our starters come out. That was a goal we think we accomplished.”

  • Opposing executive on Andrew Wiggins: “Is he untradeable? No. There is talent there. You can’t score 20 points per game in the NBA without having talent. And the contract is big, but not ridiculous. That said, there is just something missing in his game. I don’t know what it is. If I did, we’d trade for him and try to fix it.”

  • On Karl-Anthony Towns’ future in Minnesota: “Feels like he’s next right? I know everyone is looking and anticipating. But he hasn’t said anything about wanting to leave. They certainly aren’t even listening to trade offers for him. A couple more years of losing? Then we’ll all start circling.”

  • Timberwolves coach on Jarrett Culver: “I’m excited to have him. I think he’s really good. And he’s got some game that can help us right away. We’ve got three wings now with him, Andrew Wiggins and Josh Okogie who can all really play. It’s a wing-based game now, so you better have good ones, and we do.”


New Orleans Pelicans



  • Team executive on their summer: “I don’t want to pat ourselves on the back too much, but we did a lot. Was luck involved? Sure, to some extent. But when you put good people in place and they do good things, good stuff happens for you. We’re thrilled with everyone we added, the flexibility we’ve built for the future and this new era of Pelicans basketball.”

  • On expectations for Zion Williamson as a rookie: “To work as hard as he can and be a sponge from our veterans. Zion is going to be really good. He’s probably going to be good to start, but the most important thing is that he’s a hard working kid and wants to get better. That’s all we want right now. To put more on his shoulders is asking a lot of someone his age.”

  • Opposing executive on the Pelicans offseason: “I’m jealous. Don’t attach my name to this ok? (laughs) Holy crap did they get a haul for (Anthony) Davis. And they got Zion. Then to land (J.J.) Redick and (Derrick) Favors too? That’s some summer! I don’t envy Alvin Gentry, because now he’s got to put it all together. But I don’t know if anyone believes they are a title contender, so they’ve got time to figure all of that out. But on our big board, we’ve got them right around the playoffs, which is remarkable given they traded away their franchise player.”

  • Opposing player on Zion Williamson: “Did you see him rag-doll that kid from the Knicks? Man. That dude is strong! And he’s fast and can jump. My boy said ‘Yeah, but can he shoot?’ and I was like ‘Man, who cares? Does he need to?’ I bet he’s an All-Star in a couple of years and then at the weekend for the next 15 years.”

  • Opposing scout on Zion Williamson: “Who is your comp for him? (I said Larry Johnson) Yeah, that’s a good one. Young LJ right? When he was Grandmama? Yeah. I like that. We used more athletic, better defending Julius Randle. Which is funny considering Randle was just there in New Orleans.”


Oklahoma City Thunder



  • Opposing executive on the Russell Westbrook trade: “Once Paul George was traded, it was the next natural move. Then again, he’s the guy who stayed. It was the right move, especially considering all they got back. But some of that was to eat (Chris) Paul’s contract. But I bet Sam (Presti) flips Paul for something useful too.”

  • Thunder coach on this season: “It’s all a little raw for that question. But the NBA clock doesn’t stop. We have to figure it out. We’ve still got a lot of good players. There are guys who have won a lot of games coming in and guys who have won a lot of games staying. I think we’ll be fine.”

  • Team executive: “When we sat down and mapped out our summer plans, none of them included trading Paul (George) and certainly none of them included trading Russell (Westbrook). But that’s how this league works. Sometimes your hand is forced. When that happens, you do the best you can and I think we did even better than that. We’ve got more to work with moving forward than any team in the history of the league. Now we have to make something of all of that.”

  • Opposing executive on the Thunder’s future: “It would be really nice to have that many picks, wouldn’t it? (laughs) I mean you can do almost anything with that. And they might have their next franchise guy in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to build around. We made a call on him, because you call on everyone, and the Clippers told us no way. And this was early in free agency. So, obviously they were high on him. I think Oklahoma City will be ok. They’ll be bad for a year or two, but after that, they might be terrific again.”


Phoenix Suns



  • Opposing executive on the Suns offseason: “Outside of our own team, the conversation we’ve had most is ‘What is Phoenix doing?’ You have any ideas? It looked like they were clearing cap space, but then they took money on later. I don’t get it. But in the end, they look kind of…good? Maybe that is too strong. Better? Yeah. Better is a good way to put it. They got helpful guys for them.”

  • Suns coach on the new additions: “We needed two things and we got them. We need a veteran point guard who can set guys up and run a system. Ricky Rubio is that guy. I bet Devin (Booker) improves a ton just because Rubio will get him the ball in the right spots and on-time too. We also needed a big to push DeAndre (Ayton) and to do the dirty work. No one better at that than Aron Baynes. And Dario Saric and Frank Kaminsky give us different looks too. I like our options this year.”

  • Opposing coach on playing Phoenix: “The last couple of years you knew you had a win unless (Devin) Booker got hot. They just didn’t have anything else. Now, they sort of have an identity. You have to be on your game now. I think the guy who is being underrated there is Dario Saric. He’s really a great fit next to Ayton. He’s already done that for years next to (Joel) Embiid and (Karl-Anthony) Towns. I bet he’s the best of all the guys they added.”

  • Team executive on the draft: “At our original spot, we didn’t want to bring in another guy who was too similar to Devin (Booker) and Mikal (Bridges). We’re high on those guys. Reading the board, we thought that was going to be who was there. So, we moved back and also picked up Dario (Saric). Did we draft Cameron Johnson too high? No. We didn’t. This guy is ready to play now and will be a great shooter in our league. And then later in the night we added Ty Jerome, who can give us another big guard. Not everyone agrees, and that’s ok, but we think we had a great draft.”


Portland Trail Blazers



  • Team executive on the absence of a traditional power forward: “It stands out, right? But we think Zach Collins can be that guy for us. He’s got the range. He can do a lot defensively. And we have Hassan Whiteside behind him if he gets beat on the perimeter. Will we keep looking? Sure, but we never stop looking.”

  • On Anfernee Simons’ potential: “There was a reason we told teams to stop asking about him in trades. You want to see second-year guys dominate here (Summer League) and he did that. He’s been one of the best players here. The kid just works. Last year he was so young and in over his head, but he was never scared. That matters. The best part is that he fits with Dame (Lillard) or C.J. (McCollum) or both at the same time. We’re fortunate to have him. And we think we hit again late on Nassir Little too. He’s going to be very good too.”

  • On working around Jusuf Nurkic being out: “We have a lot of depth now. We think Hassan Whiteside will be an excellent fit in our system and will give us a lot of what we lose while Nurk is out. In addition, we have Zach (Collins) and we added Anthony Tolliver. Those two guys can also play some center for us too and will give us different looks. We’ve got enough to get by.”

  • On taking the next step: “It’s something we start every offseason planning session: How do we get better? We went further with this group than ever last year, but still fell a little short. We don’t view that as failure or anything, but our guys are hungrier now. They were close. The conference is wide-open. What excites me is instead of asking ‘Why not us?’ our guys flat say ‘It’s our time.’ and that’s what you want to hear.”


Sacramento Kings



  • Team executive on the offseason additions: “We had some clear goals for the summer and we think we accomplished all of them. We wanted to bring back Harrison Barnes and we did that. We wanted to add a center who can play some defense and shoot and we did that with Dewayne Dedmon. We wanted some more defense on the wing, and we got that with Trevor Ariza. And we needed a steady backup for De’Aaron Fox, but someone who knows his role is to be the backup, and Cory Joseph is perfect in that role. Then we went and got Richaun Holmes and Tyler Lydon because we think they have great upside. Overall, we are thrilled with our summer.”

  • On the future and keeping the young core together: “That’s the goal, but we also know how that goes. It can be very expensive to keep everyone and that is coming for us. The good news is that we are ready to spend. That’s never been an issue. But overall, we think we have all the right guys here. What was important was finding players who fit together. If you look at how we’ve built the roster, it was never about just acquiring talent. That is fine, but if that talent doesn’t together, what do you have? I’ve found you have a mess. We have young guys who love to play, love to play together and love being Kings. That matters to us.”

  • Opposing executive on the Kings: “This year I think they’re in for another tough fight. They could be another one of those teams that is a lot better, but it doesn’t show up. The conference is just such a grind. It’s hard to move up in the West. But they are building the right way. I think they’ll continue to get better. It just might not show up this year.”

  • A 2019 free agent on the Kings: “My agent and I looked there, but they already have a lot of guys at my position. But they are up and coming. I like teams like that. It’s more fun to be part of coming up to just jump on after. They added all those good vets too. I think that’s a playoff team.”


San Antonio Spurs



  • Team executive on a relatively quiet offseason: “We didn’t have a lot of flexibility with our cap. We knew we wanted to bring back Rudy Gay, so that was easy for us. We think DeMarre Carroll is a great fit for our team as a forward. And we’ve got some guys coming back from injuries that will help. Sometimes continuity matters a lot and after a lot of change last year, we’re looking forward to bringing back the same group.”

  • On Dejounte Murray’s recovery: “Everything is looking good. We’re confident he’ll be back. It was so sad, because he was poised to have a big year. But all that talent is still there. He’s a great kid who works really hard.”

  • Spurs coach on the rookies: “Love their attitudes. You come here, you come here ready to work. Otherwise, you won’t be here long. I think we got too more good ones. They’re both tough kids and they’re skilled. It’s hard to break in our rotation, but they’ll be pushing our vets this year.”


Utah Jazz



  • Team executive on a summer of change: “Wow, did we ever change a lot. We still love the guys who left, but there was a bit of a feeling that group had gone as far as it could. We had to bring in different guys. This group we have now is versatile and better offensively. That should help us, especially in the playoffs.”

  • Jazz coach on the new players’ fits: “They’re vets, so it should be easy. We run a style that’s pretty easy to pick up too, you just have to precise. It takes a little while to get the timing down, but once it’s there, you’re good. I think Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic open up a lot of different stuff for that that we haven’t been able to do. Their shooting and shot creation will be huge for us.”

  • On how the defense changes: “That’s a fair question. We did get better offensively, but maybe our defense takes a step back. It’s hard to know until we see it. We still have the big guy (Rudy Gobert), so that helps everyone. And the guys we added are known as good defenders themselves. I think we’ll do some things differently, but we expect we’ll still be good on that end.”

  • Opposing executive on the Utah offseason: “It’s one of the best ones. They didn’t land any stars, but whatever. They just nailed it with every guy they got. (Mike) Conley is going to be awesome for them. (Bojan) Bogdanovic is annually better than everyone thinks he is. And I love their bench. Ed Davis and Jeff Green are just guys that Quin Snyder can throw in and trust they’ll be good. (Emmanuel) Mudiay is good as a third guard and gives them insurance when Dante Exum is hurt again. And they added all those kids too. One of two of them will be like the (Royce) O’Neale kid and will be a rotation guy this year. Write that down.”

PapaBear53
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Re: 2019 Eastern Conference Offseason Chatter From Summer League 

Post#2 » by PapaBear53 » Sat Jul 27, 2019 3:35 am

(Emmanuel) Mudiay is good as a third guard and gives them insurance when Dante Exum is hurt again.


LOL...dead on.

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