First Cup: Monday

July, 23, 2012
7/23/12
4:59
AM ET
  • Staff of The Commercial-Appeal: The Grizzlies now have two Las Vegas summer league most valuable players on their roster. Second-year guard Josh Selby dominated the past week with his scoring and shared MVP honors with Portland rookie Damian Lillard. Selby, 21, averaged 27.5 points on 59-percent shooting entering the Grizzlies' final game Sunday — a 97-91 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis finished the summer league with a 2-3 record. Selby had 11 points in the finale but he lit up the scoreboard in the Grizzlies' first four games. The 6-2 guard was as efficient and electrifying scoring the basketball over the past week as Memphis' recent free-agent acquisition Jerryd Bayless, who won the 2008 summer league MVP.
  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: In a field that featured 23 NBA teams and 13 of the top 14 selections from last month's NBA Draft, Lillard was clearly the best rookie in Las Vegas. He ranked second in points (first among rookies), sixth in assists (third among rookies) and shot 43.8 percent from the field, all while leading the Blazers to a 4-1 record. Lillard was consistent and solid throughout summer league, hitting outside jumpers and finishing drives to the basket with equal success while excelling in the pick and roll on offense. He scored at least 23 points in each game. But his marquee performance came on Thursday, when he finished with 31 points, seven assists and three rebounds in an 84-78 win over the Atlanta Hawks. In that game, Lillard had a memorable, one-handed dunk over the Hawks' Keith Benson that was one of the most talked about plays in summer league.
  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: The Rockets again appear ready to get their man, with the final stages of their pursuit of center Omer Asik duplicating their successful chase of Jeremy Lin. This time, a week after the Rockets were frustrated by struggles to deliver an offer sheet and pessimistic it would bring them who they wanted, they had reason to feel much better and more confident things will work out. As with Lin’s offer sheet last week, the Rockets had difficulty delivering Asik’s quickly. Just as a 10:59 p.m. Tuesday deadline was set for the Knicks to match the three-year, $25.1 million offer to Lin, a 10:59 p.m. Tuesday deadline has been assigned for the Bulls to match the three-year, $25.1 million offer to Asik. And just as the Knicks spent that Saturday locking up a replacement, the Bulls agreed Saturday with a player who could fill in for Asik. The Knicks signaled their intention to let Lin go when they reached a sign-and-trade agreement with Raymond Felton. The Bulls appear ready to sign center Nazr Mohammed to replace Asik, with Mohammed indicating via Twitter that he is leaving the Thunder.
  • John Rohde of The Oklahoman: OKC could throw its name into the Howard hopper and offer Kendrick Perkins, James Harden and Eric Maynor in a Howard sign-and-trade with Orlando, but doing so would abandon the Presti Plan and give the perception he had gone about things all wrong. Then again, it potentially could result in an NBA title or two with a starting lineup of Howard, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka, not to mention a season record for blocked shots and a high-dollar existence above the league's luxury tax. Presti is booking that slow and steady eventually will win the race to the NBA crown, which is why the Thunder is a tortoise in a league filled with hares. While big-market teams have the means to play Texas Hold 'em, small-market places like OKC compete as best they can by playing five-card stud.
  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: Bradley Beal was named to the all-Summer League team from Las Vegas on Sunday after averaging 17.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists while leading the Wizards to a 3-2 record. Beal scored at least 20 points twice, grabbed at least six rebounds three times and handed out four assists once. His performance was more steady than spectacular. Beal wasn’t too pleased with his shooting from the floor (41.8 percent) or from beyond the three-point line (30 percent), but he also wants to get better. The most impressive aspect of Beal’s performance was that he never forced the action and let the game to come to him, even if assistant Sam Cassell asked him to be a little more aggressive.
  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: Heading into the draft, perhaps the Cavs' most glaring need was a spot-up shooter. That doesn't describe Waiters. Early impressions are he's an inconsistent perimeter shooter. One could make a case that Florida's Bradley Beal and UConn's Jeremy Lamb are shooters. Waiters is more of a penetrate-and-kick type of player. He can to get to the basket, which opposing teams will quickly identify. That means they'll back off on defense and force him to shoot jumpers. The question is whether he can make them. The summer league was the perfect opportunity to unveil the Waiters-Irving backcourt. Irving, though, slapped a padded wall in practice and broke a bone in his right (shooting) hand. ... Irving and Waiters need a lot of work together. Now, they are not going to get acclimated to each other's game until training camp at the earliest. And that is if Irving has no complications with his broken hand, which required surgery Wednesday at the Cleveland Clinic. By training camp, Waiters should be able to get in playing shape. He showed up to summer league a bit pudgy, perhaps about 10 pounds overweight. If he's not in shape for Camp Scott, the affectionate name given to Coach Byron Scott's training camp, he'll be spending a lot of time bending over garbage cans.
  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: Christmas got his wish. Two minutes before the Celtics’ 92-77 summer league finale loss to the Los Angeles Clippers tipped off, free agent guard Dionte Christmas got word from his agent that he reached agreement on a deal that will get him into the club’s training camp. According to sources, the 6-foot-5 Christmas will get a partial guarantee, but it’s important to note he’s turning down better money overseas. The Temple product was heavily pursued by top European clubs offering in the high six figures. If things don’t work out with the Celts, Christmas will likely be able to get back some of that later on, but not all of it. The C’s reportedly like the fact he is willing to make that commitment. ... It may have happened a bit under the radar, but Jamar Smith has, indeed, been signed by the Celtics and will be at training camp. The 6-3 guard confirmed, however, that his deal is not guaranteed.
  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: Though observers would prefer longtime NBA veteran Ben Wallace to mentor first-round pick Andre Drummond, there's one guy on the team who has already volunteered for the job. Third-year big man Greg Monroe, who practiced with the Pistons' summer-league team recently, said he was more than willing to show Drummond the ropes of NBA life. "He's going to need help from us, from the coaching staff, from the front office," Monroe said. "So I think, personally, obviously, I was in a similar position, and he's going to need my help a whole lot. So I have to take the responsibility and just try to mentor him and help him any way I can." Some might scoff at the idea of a guy who just turned 22 last month being a mentor to Drummond, who is still only 18. But one of the reasons the Pistons like Monroe is his maturity beyond his years, which he displayed even during his tumultuous rookie season that ultimately led to firing of former coach John Kuester.
  • Chad Graff of The Philadelphia Inquirer: Arnett Moultrie and Maurice Harkless sat next to each other behind a foldout table in the back of a white tent protecting them from a scattering light rain. To Harkless' left were two clowns painting faces and blowing up giraffe balloons. To Moultrie's right was a large speaker blaring Lady Gaga at the control of a middle-aged white DJ. And in front of them stood a growing line of autograph-seeking fans, many wearing a 76ers jersey, T-shirt or hat. The two 76ers rookies, both first-round selections, rarely looked at each other. They each held a black Sharpie and signed everything that was put on the table in front of them. They posed for pictures and smiled at waving fans. This is one of their responsibilities as the team's brightest rookies. They'll head to 10 or so Sixers events before camp opens and repeat what is soon to become a routine of autographs and pictures. But at the 13th annual Sixers Beach Bash on Saturday afternoon, the duo - perhaps the future of the organization - were at their first public Sixers-sponsored event. ... "This isn't rookie hazing," Moultrie said. "That may come at camp. This is just part of what we have to do as new Sixers. It's been a good time to see all these fans. I really didn't know what to expect."

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