TrueHoop: Cavaliers

Thursday Bullets

July, 17, 2008
7/17/08
2:16
PM ET
By Maurice Brooks
  • If I would have known that Knicks' first-round pick Danilo Gallinari might only play one game, I would have watched warm-ups a lot more closely.
  • Greg Oden goes one-on-one with J.E. Skeets.
  • The big three of Marcus Camby, Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony weren't going to be planning a championship parade anytime soon.
  • According to Brent Barry, he has two seasons left as an NBA player. Helping the Rockets win a title would be the perfect ending to his career.
  • This is not exactly how Luol Deng and Ben Gordon drew it up.
  • By signing Daniel Gibson early, the Cavaliers are proving they have learned from their mistakes.
  • Allegedly Canada's national team coach told Samuel Dalembert to take a hike.
  • Here is some really good advice for Ron Artest.
By Maurice Brooks

Gallinari out with sore back

I was running late today -- as usual -- and I get to the arena for the Knicks vs. Spurs game in time to read this from the Associated Press.

"New York Knicks rookie Danilo Gallinari has a sore lower back and is listed as doubtful for the remainder of the Las Vegas summer league.

The forward from Italy, the No. 6 overall pick, was hurt during the Knicks' opener, a 97-94 victory over Cleveland on Monday. He rebounded from a scoreless first half to finish with 14 points, shooting 5-for-7 after halftime.

Gallinari didn't dress for New York's game against San Antonio on Wednesday. An MRI revealed no significant findings, and he will rest and get treatments the rest of the week in Las Vegas before returning to Italy."


Knicks vs. Spurs

Reigning NBA Summer League MVP Nate Robinson, who didn't play in New York's opening game, is off to a slow start shooting (1-for-5), but has handed out three assists.

It's late in the third quarter and the game is tied at 53. Bad news for New York fans, Renaldo Balkman was just carried off the court with an apparent ankle injury.

Robinson's shooting didn't improve as the game went on. He finished 2-for-10 from the floor (including missing five of six treys) as the Knicks lost 82-67.

For the second straight game, San Antonio's George Hill didn't make a shot. He missed all 10 of his attempts Tuesday and was 0-for-6 from the field today. His poor shooting didn't prevent him from rebounding (six boards) or passing well (four assists).

Big men James Gist and Ian Mahinmi both had a double-double in the win.


Roberson's big deal

Earlier today, it was reported that the Knicks are going to sign Anthony Roberson to a two-year deal. Through three quarters, he is 3-for-10 for a total of 10 points off the bench. Does this mean the end of the Stephon Marbury era in New York?

Roberson finished the game 4-for-13, but led the Knicks in scoring with 12 points. He also had two assists and two rebounds.


Reggie the Cameraman

It's early in the first quarter and Kings head coach Reggie Theus is in the stands videotaping the game between Sacramento and Dallas. I have no clue why he's personally doing that, but he has to like what he's seeing. Sacramento 10, Dallas 3.

Man has this game been brutal to watch. The Mavericks led by 14 at halftime and by 20 after three quarters. Gerald Green has knocked down a few jumpers and leads all scorers with 18 points for Dallas. He's also grabbed seven boards in easily his best showing of the summer. The athletic Charles Rhodes has also reached double digits in points for the Mavs.

The only noteworthy thing I can bring up about the Kings is, why does Jason Thompson keep ice-grilling the Mavericks after routine dunks when his team is down 20 plus? I never dunked in my life, so maybe I can't relate.


Thorpe on Sacramento's Jason Thompson and Sean Singletary

David Thorpe of ESPN.com weighs in on a pair of Kings.

"Thompson is an immediate upgrade to the Kings frontline as an athlete. They had the least athletic frontline in the league last year. He's got a nice combination of skills with size and projects as someone who can play well next to Spencer Hawes. Geoff Petrie likes his offensive sets to include pinch-post action. For that action to work effectively, the big has to be able to make that shot or get to the rim while being a good passer. Both Thompson and Hawes look like they'll be able to do those things.

"Making a game-winning shot in an NBA Summer League game, while playing well in general, sends him into the rest of the offseason thinking positive thoughts. The alternative to that would have been scary because he's coming from Rider. You don't want him questioning if he can play on this level. That thought is no longer an issue."

On Singletary: "Beno Udrih is the starting point guard in Sacramento, but he is more of a score first, pass second type of point guard. That style works for him. If the Kings want more of a true lead guard, Sean may be the answer. He was a prolific scorer in Virginia, but has been a pass-first guy in summer league. Kevin Martin told me Saturday that he really likes the "way that kid plays and passes."


Wake Me At 8:30 p.m. ET

The first two games of the day were both blowouts and neither featured a great individual performance. Hopefully things will get better in the late games when the trio of Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo and Donte Greene take the floor in three separate games. I'm most interested to see how Green follows up his 40-point effort.

The Sixers and Wizards on playing right now. When Philly took Marreese Speights, I didn't boo, but I didn't cheer either. I took a wait-and-see approach. Although it's summer league, I'm impressed by what I've seen so far. The big body has a nice touch around the basket and brings energy to the floor. He is definitely good enough to crack Philly's regular rotation. Today he has combined with Jason Smith to score 20 of the Sixers' first 22 points.

Speights and Smith both had monster games as the Sixers rolled. Speights had 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Smith had 24 and 11.


Kevin Love aka Chairman of the Boards

Kevin Love, who needs a good nickname by the way, is ridiculous. No really he is. Anyone who can get 20 points and 10 rebounds on a nightly basis without ever having a play called for them is special. He had all of his gifts on display in the second quarter of Minnesota's game against the Lakers. He drove to the hole for a bucket and a foul. He followed up a missed shot with a layup. He filled the lane for another basket on the break. He penetrated and kicked it out to a teammate, who drained a jumper. And of course, he threw his signature outlet passes. Through three quarters, he has 16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists -- which is more than anyone on either team. Problem is, the Wolves still enter the last people trailing by two. There are going to be a lot more games that follow that pattern in his future.

The Lakers' Joe Crawford hit a layup in the closing seconds to ruin Love's big night. Love finished with 18 points (9-for-18), 17 rebounds and two blocked shots. Teammate Corey Brewer also had a strong game in defeat, dropping in 19 points.


Greene Is Smooth

In the final game of the night, Donte Greene has splashed three jumpers -- one triple, two doubles -- for the Rockets in the first quarter. He kind of glides around the court, chomping on his gum at a frantic pace, on offense until it's time to raise up and unleash his jumper, which keeps hitting the bottom of the net. Eight minutes into the period and he has seven points already.

Joey Dorsey entered the game midway through the first quarter for the Rockets. The power forward has been doing what he does -- he got called for a charge and pulled down two rebounds in six minutes.

With his height, if Greene continues to shoot the ball this well, he will be a nightmare to defend. He scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting in the first period.

Greene has cooled off but Dorsey continues to be a problem. He just had back-to-back dunks, has pulled down eight rebounds and leads everyone with three assists.

Remember all that stuff I was saying earlier about Greene? Forget about it. He has missed seven straight in a variety of ways.

Cleveland's J.J. Hickson isn't having a much better go of it. He has missed six of nine shots, but still leads the Cavs with nine points.

If you are the best boxer in the world, why do you have to travel with an 11-person entourage? Floyd Mayweather and friends have seen enough of this contest, leaving midway through the
fourth quarter with the Cavs up four.

Houston's Maarty Leunen is having a day. He is 5-of-6 from the field (3-of-4 on treys) and leads everyone with 17 points.

Hickson closed out the game in style by making four of his last six shots and led the Cavaliers with 18 points.

Greene took 17 shots (making four) to score 17 points. Teammate Aaron Brooks had an outstanding all-around game, posting 16 points, including the game-winning free throws in the closing seconds, and seven assists. 

  • Maurice Brooks is an NBA editor for ESPN.com. He can be reached at mbrooksnba@gmail.com.

First Cup: Tuesday

July, 15, 2008
7/15/08
9:35
AM ET
  • Bob Young of The Arizona Republic: "David Stern needs to step down. His league's credibility depends on it. Former Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo would make a pretty good replacement. If it is determined that Foster was involved with Donaghy, then Stern needs to take one more step. Remember when the NBA filed a court request to have Donaghy pay the league $1.4 million in restitution? They factored in the salary he was paid in games he fixed and even the cost of his shoes. Oh, and $1 million for the league's internal investigation into the matter. Well, we figure Stern needs to pay the league $10 million in restitution, because all this happened on his watch."TrueHoop First Cup
  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "Kevin Garnett said he still hasn't gotten a full night's sleep since winning the championship. 'A lot of cat-napping,' he said. 'I am the No. 1 spokesman for cat-napping.' Soon, however, Garnett will begin to push the past season aside and focus on banner No. 18. 'Enjoy 17,' he said. 'Enjoy that right now. Enjoy the winning part of it. Enjoy the fact that we're doing this together. Then when we lock back in, we lock back in.'"
  • Kyle Hightower of the Orlando Sentinel: "After several seasons of playing catch-up with the Western Conference, the Beasts of the East may be coming back. Following the Boston Celtics' title, Eastern Conference teams have gone to work in free agency and the draft to enhance the talent of the NBA's perceived weaker half."
  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: "Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard has a tough decision to make in the coming months: Sign up-and-coming point guard Petteri Koponen, or keep an open roster spot entering the regular season. On Monday, after Koponen scored 19 points and made 4-of-6 three pointers in the Summer League opener, his decision became even tougher. 'I don't know. I don't even really want to think about it,' Pritchard said. 'I want to watch these games, have fun with that, see if he improves as the week goes on ... and if he does, he has a spot.'"
  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "Cleveland Cavaliers assistant John Kuester was on a roll Monday, thinking up new ways to praise rookie J.J. Hickson. 'We're talking about an N.C. State guy, and I'm still saying nice things,' former Tar Heel Kuester joked. 'He's that great a kid.' And seemingly that good a prospect. Hickson looked spectacular during a 97-94 summer-league loss to the New York Knicks, with 26 points and nine rebounds."
  • Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Kyrlo Fesenko returned to town for the Rocky Mountain Revue with blond hair, apparently forgetting he plays for a no-nonsense coach who doesn't even allow his players to wear headbands. Although he was able to joke about Fesenko -- 'I didn't know who he was. I was totally taken aback by the blond hair' -- Sloan clearly would have preferred his 21-year-old center call attention to himself with his play on the court instead of the coloring in his hair. 'He's got a long way to go to make himself a better player,' Sloan said. 'He has skills, but sometimes the outside things will take you right out of this game. If those things are more important than basketball, that's where you get in trouble." ..."A lot of people have skills, Sloan added. 'A lot of them are sitting on the sidewalk wondering what happened 20 years ago when they had a chance. He's got to figure out what he wants to do and play basketball or be a clown.'"
  • Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Posterity will record the trade that brought Rodney Carney to the Timberwolves as a morsel of NBA bookkeeping, a shuffling of digits on the financial ledger that summoned shock and change to a player who spent his first two seasons in Philadelphia. Carney considers differently the deal that sent him and Calvin Booth packing for a future first-round draft pick and valuable salary-cap space that let the 76ers sign free-agent Elton Brand to an $82 million contract. 'The way I look at it is, they traded me and Booth to get Elton Brand,' Carney said. 'So I say I got traded for Elton Brand. You put it that way, it sounds pretty good.'"
  • Michael Grange of The Globe and Mail: "With one career goal accomplished, Gordon Herbert moves on to the next. As a bonus, he gets to come home, too. The newest member of the Toronto Raptors' coaching staff is in Las Vegas working with the team's summer league entry, but that's just the latest stop on a long basketball journey that began in Penticton, B.C., visited Idaho for college basketball, and took him all over Europe as a player and coach. 'Since I began coaching, it's always been a goal of mine to coach a Euroleague team and to be an assistant coach in the NBA,' Herbert said in a telephone interview yesterday. 'This opportunity allowed me to get into the NBA and come back to Canada, too.'"
By Maurice Brooks

The Tractor

The sight of Robert "Tractor" Traylor running up and down the floor for the Cavaliers is exactly what summer league hoops is all about. The veteran, who last played in the NBA in 2005, is trying to earn a roster spot.

He is performing well for a guy who hasn't been in the league in a few years -- making three of his first four shots, while pulling down a board and giving out an assist.

Traylor finished with eight points and three rebounds in 17 minutes.


The Rooster

Meanwhile, New York's Danilo Gallinari is not off to a good start. The No. 6 pick in the draft has missed his first five shots before splashing a jumper with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.

Danilo Gallinari
Gallinari is going to turn boos to cheers in N.Y.
(Laura Rauch/AP)

ESPN's rookie guru David Thorpe weighs in on what he's seen so far from Gallinari.

"Basically the first adjustment he has to make is to the style of play in summer league with these athletes compared to a physical but smooth, smartly played European game. These are boys for the most part, compared to the men he is used to playing against. There isn't any kind of rhythm to what's going on. He's obviously a good shooter, but the NBA line is further back than the European line -- so he has to change his shooting habit, meaning he has to bend his knees more to make up for the difference in range.

"Physically, he looks great. He's not a stick figure, he has a great body. One thing I love, even though he missed his first five shots, it didn't impact how hard he played and because of that he has now scored eight points in the last two minutes. The teaching point: You can't let success on shots impact effort. He has that figured out. He kept fighting and now look, the Knicks have the lead thanks to his play."

The Knicks lead 68-67 after three quarters thanks to Gallinari, who knocked down two long jumpers, followed up a missed shot with a dunk and made two free throws after drawing a foul on a strong post move.

He has picked up in the fourth quarter where he left off in the third. To the crowd's delight, he just nailed another jumper and is clearly in a groove now.

Everyone in Knicksland feels good as the Knicks edged the Cavaliers by three and Gallinari showed that he is a player. After a scoreless first half, he finished with 14 points on 5-for-11 shooting (0-for-4 on treys). He pulled down six rebounds and handed out two assists.


The No. 26

New York's Wilson Chandler didn't have ice on his elbow after the game, but it has to be sore after firing up 21 shots. He played extremely well, making 11 of those attempts to finish with 26 points. With Quentin Richardson and Stephon Marbury in the crowd, he also tallied eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.

J.J. Hickson
Hickson looked like the real deal Monday afternoon.
(Laura Rauch/AP)

Cleveland rookie J.J. Hickson, who played only one year at N.C. State, matched Chandler's 26 with 26 of his own. He went 11-for-15 and grabbed nine rebounds.

Here is what the No. 19 pick had to say after the game.

"I was trying to be aggressive. I competed well, but not well enough because we didn't win," Hickson said. "My role is to play hard and block shots. I wouldn't have come out of college early if I didn't think I was ready to play on this level."

Thorpe, who just updated his Rookie Report, liked what he saw from Hickson.

"He got his points with a skilled face-up game. He gave a great effort and was very active and physical. He finished well around the rim."


Nuggets vs. Raptors

I've watched the entire first half of this contest and have yet to be moved to write anything. Joey Graham continues to play as if he has a point to prove and leads all scorers with 11 points. Dahntay Jones is high man for the Nuggets, who lead 39-34, with eight.

Although he hasn't scored a point, I'm happy that Nuggets guard Chris Lofton is on the floor. The former University of Tennessee standout, who made more triples than anyone is SEC history, had a cancerous tumor removed from one of his testicles in March 2007.

He didn't get drafted, but is now trying to catch on with Denver.


Blazers vs. Wizards: Bayless Is the Truth

It took Jerryd Bayless all of 15 seconds to be whistled for his first summer league foul. That was about the only thing that didn't go his way during the first 10 minutes of his professional career. Playing mostly off the ball, he went to the line eight times -- making six -- and led all players with 10 points. Despite his lack of size, the Portland guard had no problem creating his own shot.

Petteri Koponen did a good job of running the team, and although he didn't have an assist, he did score five points as the Blazers took a two-point lead after one quarter.

Washington big man JaVale McGee is still trying to work the kinks out of his game, missing five of his first six shots in eight minutes.

It's halftime and Bayless has run his point total up to 17. It's not supposed to be this easy.

In the second half, Bayless has continued his strong play, but it has been Koponen who has impressed with his outside shot. He just hit back-to-back long jumpers and has 19 points for the game.

Bayless just fired in two pivotal free throws with 12.3 seconds left to give himself a game-high 27 points and the Blazers a four-point lead.

He finished with 28 points (5-for-12 from the field, 18-for-23 from the line) in a Portland victory.


DraftExpress President Jonathan Givony

DraftExpress president Jonathan Givony has joined me courtside to give his thoughts on the first half of Wizards vs. Blazers.

TrueHoop: What did you think of Portland's Jerryd Bayless in the first half?

DraftExpress: Probably the most impressive first-half performance by any rookie in the summer league so far. He played a similar role to how Portland will use him in their real offense at the 2 alongside a big point guard -- Koponen/Roy. I love how aggressive he was, trying to get to the rim, finishing with both hands. He's athletic, skilled and doesn't fall in love with his jumper like a lot of combo guards these days tend to do. He also competed admirably on defense and tried to take a charge.

TrueHoop: I think Portland's Petteri Koponen did a nice job of handling the rock and can play both guard positions.

DraftExpress: He was very impressive, much better than last year. I'm very intrigued by his combination of size, ballhandling skills, athleticism and basketball IQ. He showed a lot of poise and has a pretty stroke and didn't look bad defensively.

TrueHoop: Washington's JaVale McGee didn't look good at all out there. What did you notice?

DraftExpress: No surprise here whatsoever. This is how he looked in college often. The Wizards would be the first ones to tell you that he is two or three years away. Still, you can't ignore his physical tools. The guy is a freak, look at his arms an
d athleticism. He just needs to learn how to play.


Getting Up and Down

At Thomas & Mack, the Suns and Rockets are playing at break-neck speed. As a result, Houston's Donte Greene is in position to break the summer league record for points in a game (42). The forward hit 7 of 10 shots and 7 of 8 free throws for a first-half total of 23 points. He scored 19 in the first quarter.

He got his buckets in a bunch of different ways -- off the dribble, cutting to the basket, knocking down jumpers. He hustled for loose balls and played hard on both ends of the floor.

Phoenix, which leads 64-51, received strong contributions from Robin Lopez and D.J. Strawberry.

Lopez went 4-of-5 from the field and the line en route to 12 points. He had a monster dunk and a big rejection.

Strawberry, who led summer league in helpers last year, has 17 points, five dimes and four rebounds.

Greene finished the game with 40 points. He went 12-for-20 from the floor, 5-of-10 from deep and 11-of-12 from the charity stripe in Houston's 100-97 comeback win.

Lopez, who is known for his defense, showed he has offensive skills, too. His final numbers: 19 points (5-of-13 shooting) and five rebounds.


The Love Era Has Begun

Somebody tell Kevin Love that in the NBA you have to move your feet. He picked up four fouls in seven minutes and now finds himself sitting on the bench. Before he left, he did some good things. He put the ball on the floor, drew a foul and was awarded the basket on a goaltending call for his first two pro points. He also knocked down a 15-foot jumper and passed well in the half-court set. On the defensive side, he snatched a board, and his first outlet pass ended up out of bounds. The point guards are going to need time to learn to appreciate his ability to get them the ball in stride.

Midway through the second quarter, the Mavericks have doubled Minnesota's point total.

It's a safe bet that Love is going to lead summer league in rebounds. He attacks the glass as if his life depends on it. If the ball comes off anywhere near him, it's his. In the first half, he struggled from the line, missing three of seven, but still finished with eight points and five rebounds.

In the second half, he is trying to score more. He has two putbacks. He made a layup off a nice pass from Corey Brewer. He just hit a hook shot. The good: Love has 16 points and 10 rebounds. The bad: He has six fouls and his team is still down 20.

Love finished the game with 18 points and 13 rebounds. The Mavericks got the 88-74 win. 

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