NBA

Deandre Ayton gets first taste in Las Vegas Summer League debut

Jay Asser 7/07/2018
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Deandre Ayton had 10 points and eight rebounds in his first Summer League game.

Deandre Ayton’s Las Vegas Summer League debut didn’t end up being a must-see event, but the Phoenix Suns centre still managed to flash his skills in his first outing as a pro.

Last month’s first overall pick in the NBA draft finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, one block, three turnovers, 4-of-6 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 shooting from the free throw line in the 92-85 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

Though it wasn’t a loud performance, Ayton got a taste of NBA competition, which included seeing double teams early on whenever he got the ball on post-ups.

With the defence focused on limiting him, Ayton’s first points didn’t come until midway through the first quarter on an alley-oop in transition.

“I told coach, ‘Yo, they double team in the league?” Ayton said. “Everybody started laughing. They said, ‘That’s just respect. They’re showing you respect.’”

Ayton sprinkled in his jumper with three shots outside the paint, with two of them coming up short. The other one was an impressive turnaround mid-range shot after making the catch in the post.

Defensively, the big man unsurprisingly looked uneven. At times he was out of position, but also did well to hold his own on switches and swatted a shot by standing tall at the rim.

Ayton should have more opportunities to show what he can do as the Summer League goes on.

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NBA

Tony Parker's exit brings San Antonio Spurs' era of dominance closer to the end

Jay Asser 7/07/2018
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Tony Parker will join the Charlotte Hornets.

The San Antonio Spurs look less recognisable by the day.

Not only is the franchise embroiled in an messy relationship with its star player, Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio are now losing one of the pillars of their prolonged dynasty with Tony Parker agreeing to a two-year, $10 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets.

The 36-year-old Parker has spent his entire career with the Spurs, helping the team win four titles during his 17-year run.

He’s only the third player in NBA history to leave a franchise after playing at least 17 seasons, joining Karl Malone and Hakeem Olajuwon.

Along with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, Parker has been instrumental to the Spurs’ success as a six-time All-Star and 2017 Finals MVP.

“It’s difficult to put into words how important Tony Parker has been to the Spurs franchise over the past two decades,” coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “From his first game in 2001 at age 19, TP has impressed and inspired us – day-after-day, game-after-game, season-after-season – with his passion, dedication and desire. We are grateful to Tony for 17 years of truly amazing memories.”

With Duncan now retired and Ginobili about to turn 41, the Spurs, as the NBA world has known them for the past two decades, are fading.

An era of dominance feels like it’s coming to an end and the Leonard situation hasn’t helped matters with the star that was expected to take the torch now disgruntled and wanting out.

This past season marked the first time the Spurs missed the playoffs since 1997, and if Leonard is traded away this summer, San Antonio may end up missing the postseason again while competing in a loaded Western Conference.

In Charlotte, Parker will join fellow Frenchman Nicolas Batum and likely come off the bench as the back-up point guard.

Parker averaged a career-low 7.7 points in just 19.5 minutes per game this past season, while playing just 21 games.

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NBA

How Carmelo Anthony would fit with the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Miami Heat

Jay Asser 7/07/2018
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Carmelo Anthony could link up with one of his friends.

Carmelo Anthony’s stay in Oklahoma City appears to be coming to an end, paving the way for the former All-Star to potentially join one of his close friends on another team.

The Thunder will move on from Anthony and his $27.9 million contract to save money on a historic payroll and luxury tax bill, according to ESPN.

By opting in to the final year of his deal this summer, Anthony increased the financial pressure on Oklahoma City, who are staring at a $310 million payroll after also re-signing Paul George and Jerami Grant.

To relieve the burden, the Thunder are reportedly working on ways to part with Anthony, whether that’s through a trade, a buyout or by using the stretch provision – in essence spreading Anthony’s salary onto the cap over three years.

Even if Anthony is traded, the team that acquires with him would likely to do so with the intention of waiving him.

That would allow Anthony to go to a team of his choosing and possibly link up with one of LeBron James, Chris Paul or Dwyane Wade.

Here’s a look at how Anthony would fit in Los Angeles, Houston and Miami.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers have already added a number of characters this offseason, so what’s one more big personality to throw into the mix?

Initially, the Lakers seem like the best destination for Anthony as a team in desperate need of shooters to surround James with. And with it looking unlikely that another elite player will join James in LA this summer, Anthony may at least placate LeBron’s desires to add more talent.

However, depending on if they make a trade for Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers are already stocked with plenty of wings between James, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lance Stephenson, Josh Hart and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Anthony would also go against the Lakers’ reported plan of putting together a strong defensive team – while he does have the ability to guard multiple positions, Anthony isn’t known for his defence.

With what the Lakers have done this summer though, anything is possible.

Houston Rockets

Anthony was linked with the Rockets last year and there reportedly remains interest from Houston’s side. Plus, they just lost their starting small forward, Trevor Ariza, in free agency to leave a hole in the starting lineup.

He’s not exactly a one-for-one replacement for Ariza – who was so valuable in part because of his perimeter defence – but Anthony’s shooting fits perfectly in Houston’s bombs-away approach. And with more playmakers around him than he had in Oklahoma City, Anthony may finally reach the coveted, but elusive ‘Olympic Melo’ form.

As long as Anthony is willing to be a third option again, which isn’t a given.

Miami Heat

If Anthony wants to go back to being a primary option, Miami makes the most sense.

They’re nowhere near the level of the Rockets or the Lakers in terms of being a contender, but the Heat could use the scoring punch, while surrounding him with defensive-minded players.

Putting up (mostly empty) numbers in a desirable location? Sounds like something right up Anthony’s alley.

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