Cats in the NBA
Former Kentucky Players in the NBA
Former Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins is about to enter the most important season of his career. After recently signing a one-year deal worth $3.5 million with the Los Angeles Lakers, Cousins is working his way back into shape.
A torn Achilles in Jan. 2018 and a torn quad during last season’s playoff run with the Golden State Warriors have hampered Cousins’ abilities on the court. His market value in free agency this summer was at an all-time low before he ultimately agreed to join Anthony Davis and LeBron James in L.A.
Despite all that, according to Ryan Ward of Clutch Points, Cousins is working his way into the best physical shape of his life.
DeMarcus Cousins on his health right now: “I’m working my tail off every single day. My quad is 100% healed. I’m building it up every day…I’m getting stronger. Getting in better shape. My plan is to come into camp in tiptop shape. My goal is to play 82 gms this season.” #Lakers
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) July 11, 2019
Cousins appeared in 81 games during his rookie season in 2010-11, but has not played in more than 75 games during a season since then. He’s played in only 78 games over the last two seasons. But if you’ve seen the video making its rounds on the Internet of Cousins speaking with the media, you can see he’s already slimmed down.
— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) July 11, 2019
Is #SkinnyBoogie going to be a thing now? If it means we get the best version of Cousins that we’ve seen in years, then I am here for it.
By Nick Roush on ©July 12th, 2019 @ 1:00pm
While Tyler Herro has grabbed all of the summer League headlines, another former Wildcat is consistently putting up impressive numbers.
Thursday night Wenyen Gabriel knocked down 4-of-8 three-pointers to score a team-high 18 points. He wasn’t just standing behind the three-point line prepared to take open looks. Gabriel also grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots in the 83-80 loss to the Clippers.
Through four games in Las Vegas Gabriel is the King’s second-highest scorer, averaging 13.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2 blocks per game on 47% shooting from the field.
Gabriel’s former UK teammate, Isaac Humphries, scored three points in eight minutes of action. A few other numbers from former Cats last night:
— Hami Diallo shot 50% from the field to finish with 14 points. He also threw in seven boards and a pair of assists in the Thunder’s five-point win.
— Aaron Harrison was just 1-of-4 for the Boston Celtics last night, finishing with five points, his average through four Summer League games.
— In 13 minutes of action, Reid Travis only took three shots for the Atlanta Hawks. He finished with two points, two assists and six rebounds.
Today marks the beginning of the Vegas Summer League tournament. Ten former Wildcats advanced to play this weekend. Here’s who’s playing tonight:
- 6:00: Croatia vs. Thunder (Diallo) on ESPNU
- 6:30: China vs. Suns (Derek Willis) on NBATV
- 8:00: Kings (Gabriel) vs. Cavs on ESPNU
- 8:30: Pacers vs. Clippers (Humphries) on NBATV
- 10:30: Hawks (Travis) vs. Spurs (Keldon Johnson) on NBATV
Just three days after becoming an unrestricted free agent, former Kentucky forward Trey Lyles has found a new home.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Lyles will sign a two-year contract with the San Antonio Spurs.
Sources: Free agent Trey Lyles is signing a two-year deal with the Spurs. San Antonio loses Marcus Morris after his week of talks with the Knicks, and signs another top free agent on the market.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 11, 2019
Lyles, who has been with the Denver Nuggets the past two seasons, averaged 8.5 points (42% from the field and 25% from three), 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per contest in 2018-19. Coming off the bench in 2017-18, the former Wildcat put up career-highs in points (9.9) and rebounds (4.8) per game while shooting over 49 percent from the field.
The dip in production this past year came as a result of Paul Millsap, who played just 38 games the year before due to injury, returning to play 70 games this past season, along with the breakout play of Nikola Jokic, Torrey Craig, and Malik Beasley in the Denver frontcourt. After failing to find a consistent role on the team, and that opportunity still likely not available again next season, it was best for both parties to split.
Now, Gregg Popovich and the Spurs will look to revitalize Lyles’ career alongside fellow former Wildcat and San Antonio rookie Keldon Johnson.
By Nick Roush on ©July 11th, 2019 @ 2:30pm
Some Cat on Cat crime had to occur to bring DeMarcus Cousins to LA.
In one of Boogie’s first interviews since he signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, Cousins credited a pair of former Wildcats for convincing him to join the squad.
“AD, Rondo and LeBron all threw in a pitch to get me here,” Cousins said. “I really talked a lot with A and Rondo. They basically kidnapped me and made me come here.”
The tongue-in-cheek remark was exactly that. More importantly, Cousins enjoyed his time with Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo in New Orleans.
“Those are two great friends of mine. Obviously, we had the chance to be teammates previously before this. We enjoyed our time together as teammates. We’ve always talked about teaming back up and the opportunity presented itself.”
The three former Kentucky stars are close, there’s no denying that. How close? Cousins believes the way New Orleans treated him after his Achilles injury is ultimately the reason why Davis requested a trade.
?NEW POSTED UP POD?
Sat down w/ @boogiecousins to talk working way back to form, fan interactions, pending free-agency, narrative on his defense, real NBA tough guys, when he knew AD wanted out, winning a title, his comedy show & plenty more…
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) March 27, 2019
Watching those three work together with LeBron James next season will be incredibly entertaining, almost as entertaining as Davis and Rondo actually attempting to kidnap Cousins. Even though Davis is a big guy and Rondo can scrap, I would still take Boogie in a 2v1 matchup.
By Nick Roush on ©July 11th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
There isn’t a better rebounder in the Las Vegas NBA Summer League than Jarred Vanderbilt.
Finally completely recovered from a lingering foot injury, Vanderbilt has been tearing up the league with the Denver Nuggets. Last night the former Wildcat made 8-of-15 shots to score 20 points. He made it a double-double by grabbing 17 rebounds. Vanderbilt also dished out 3 assists and stole 3 passes.
After Vando’s crazy night, he now averages a Summer League-high 12 rebounds per game through three contests. He’s also shooting 54% to score 12 points a game. Raise your hand if you saw this coming.
It took much longer than expected, but the Miami Heat have finally signed their first-round pick. Perhaps the most surprising one-and-done player of the John Calipari era is now officially ready to wreck South Beach. We all know his wardrobe will fit right in.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) July 10, 2019
There was some scuttlebutt going around that made it appear that the Heat were waiting on a potential blockbuster trade for Russell Westbrook, but that appears to not be the case. The 13th overall pick in this year’s draft is lighting up the summer league and is fresh off a 25-point outburst. Through five games, he is putting up 20 points and dishing out four assists per outing. He is still a bucket, but is showing that there are other aspects to his game.
Tyler Herro ?
— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 9, 2019
The Wisconsin native and four-star prospect started all 37 games for Kentucky last season and was the team’s second leading scorer at 14 points per game. The two-guard only shot 35.5 percent from three, but many expect that number to improve with spacing used at the next level.
When it comes to specifics of the deal, nothing has been finalized yet but Herro is about to become a wealthy man. If he sticks in Miami, he would provide much needed shooting to help space the floor for the newly acquired Jimmy Butler. Pretty good chance Herro develops into a fan favorite.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 10th, 2019 @ 3:15pm
Yesterday, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist attended the world premiere of Disney’s new “The Lion King” in Hollywood, and while normally, an NBA star going to a movie premiere is no big deal, in MKG’s case, it’s the circle of life.
During their time at Kentucky, Anthony Davis told reporters Kidd-Gilchrist used to watch “The Lion King” almost every night. In a Sports Illustrated feature by Lee Jenkins in 2015, we found out that’s because he used to watch it with his father, who was shot and killed a month before MKG turned three. To this day, MKG carries the DVD with him wherever he goes.
Kidd-Gilchrist is rummaging through his backpack on the 14th floor of the JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles, searching for a DVD of The Lion King, which he carries almost everywhere he goes. His earliest memories are of watching the movie with his father, Michael Gilchrist Sr. He was Simba. His dad was Mufasa. They bought the stuffed animals. They recited the lines. In August 1996, a month before the boy’s third birthday, Michael Sr. was shot and killed in a still-unsolved murder on the east side of Camden, N.J. Michael says he remembers the last time they were together. “We were in bed,” he says, “watching The Lion King.” At the funeral, he slid the Simba doll into the casket.
Flash forward to yesterday, when Michael was able to take his mother, Cindy Richardson, down the red carpet at the Dolby Theatre to see Disney’s remake of the film, which stars Donald Glover, Beyonce, Seth Rogan, and a bevy of Hollywood stars.
It’s only a matter of time before MKG watches the new version with his newborn son, Ekim.
View this post on Instagram
Dear Ekim, (Before he Was Born) There is a burning desire in my Heart . Some shit I never ever felt before, I look forward to meeting you for the first time. You can probably tell how much love I have for you from Miles & Miles away . Daddy’s side of the family been thru a lot & so has Mommy’s. The one thing I will forever peach to you is that Our Family is a Village . A Village that is Safe . Overtime you will witness pain, disappointment, failure. That’s okay because just like Mya you will be Built For Life . 24/7 Mommy & I will put our blood, sweat & tears into you. FYI your Grandma’s can’t wait for you to get here . In Due Time . I Love you !!
A post shared by Mike Kidd-Gilchrist (@mkg14) on
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 09th, 2019 @ 10:15pm
After a shaky NBA Summer League debut, Jarred Vanderbilt found his stride today. The former Cat notched a double-double in Denver’s loss to Boston with 12 points and 12 rebounds in 23 minutes.
Vanderbilt showed off his passing skills, which we got to know well during his short time at Kentucky:
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) July 10, 2019
…his skills on the glass:
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) July 10, 2019
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) July 10, 2019
…he even got by 7’7″ giant/fan favorite Tacko Fall:
Tacko cannot guard a Jarred Vanderbilt faceup pic.twitter.com/Wh8KHmSwD1
— Max Carlin (@maxacarlin) July 10, 2019
For you night owls, Kevin Knox and the Knicks are currently playing the Raptors on NBATV, while Wenyen Gabriel and Kings are facing the Rockets on ESPN2. Isaac Humphries and the Clippers will tip off vs. the Wizards at 11:30 p.m. on NBATV.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 09th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
Last week, Willie Cauley-Stein agreed to join the Golden State Warriors. We now know the terms of that deal.
According to Shams Charania, Willie and the Warriors agreed to a two-year, $4.4 million deal with a player option in the second season. That’s less than the former Sacramento Kings big man had hoped for — and reportedly less than other offers he received — but the opportunity to play for such a successful franchise was worth the pay cut.
“Got the phone call and I just don’t know how you could turn that down,” Cauley-Stein said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “Talking to (Coach) Steve (Kerr), Draymond (Green), Steph (Curry), they were all really excited. It was pretty easy on me.”
“It honestly just came down to situation,” he added. “I know I had said something about getting paid at the beginning of the year. But by the end of it, it was no longer about getting paid. It was about staying secure and building off that security. … I think the Warriors are probably the best at doing that in the league. It was a really easy decision on me and my team’s part.”
Hilariously, Willie told NBC Sports Bay Area that he was fishing when he got the call about the offer and had to drive two miles to get better cell service. Watch Willie tell the story as only he can:
Willie Cauley-Stein with a great story of how he signed with the Warriors ? pic.twitter.com/umI5GlRksr
— Grant Liffmann (@GrantLiffmann) July 9, 2019
Golden State got a steal. Best of luck to Willie in his new home.
What will Tyler Herro do next? That’s the question we’re all asking as the former Cat continues to burn up the nets in the NBA Summer League.
Today, Herro had a game-high 25 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and a steal in Miami’s 96-92 win over Orlando. Nineteen of those points came in the first half. He finished 7-15 from the floor, 2-6 from the outside, and 9-10 from the free-throw line (typical). Stop typing and get to the highlights, right?
Tyler Herro ?
— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 9, 2019
Through three games in Vegas, Herro is averaging 21.3 points, which currently ranks in the top ten. And just think, there’s still a chance he could end up with another team before the season begins.
By Drew Franklin on ©July 09th, 2019 @ 5:30pm
After three years in the number zero, DeMarcus Cousins will be back in jersey #15 with the Los Angeles Lakers this coming season.
Cousins wore zero during his two seasons in New Orleans, then again in Golden State this past year. It was an injury-riddled run in zero, so hopefully the return to his old number marks the beginning of a return to form. He wore #15 while in Sacramento, during college at UK, and even back in high school at LeFlore High School in Mobile, Alabama.
Cousins announced the switch with a subtle tweet on Tuesday:
— DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) July 9, 2019
With LeBron James giving up his #23 so Anthony Davis can wear it, two of L.A.’s biggest stars will be wearing their UK numbers:
While former Kentucky forwards PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson have already signed rookie deals with their respective organizations, Tyler Herro has yet to put pen-to-paper on his contract with the Miami Heat.
In fact, for the NBA Summer League, Herro signed insurance paperwork so he could play without worry of potential injury.
But why would the organization go through the gymnastics of letting him play during Summer League, but still not sign him to a deal?
It’s because he could be a prime asset in a blockbuster trade for NBA superstar Russell Westbrook.
This weekend, the Clippers swung a deal for Westbrook’s teammate, Paul George, allowing for George to team up with Kawhi Leonard in Los Angeles. Almost immediately afterward, Westbrook reportedly met with the Oklahoma City front office about moving him elsewhere, as well.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Miami was one of the first franchises to express interest in the Thunder point guard.
“The Miami Heat have expressed interest, a potential destination that also appeals to Westbrook,” Wojnarowski said. “Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, have been discussing trade possibilities and scenarios with Presti, and the sides are both motivated to find a resolution sooner rather than later, league sources told ESPN.”
Today, Steve Kyler of BasketballInsiders.com said that there is absolutely a correlation between Herro not signing his rookie deal and the Westbrook trade rumors.
I was told yes… https://t.co/bGRbFqvbdS
— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) July 9, 2019
He did follow it up by saying that while Heat are keeping the former Wildcat unsigned to maintain trade flexibility, the talks are extremely early and that a deal centered around Westbrook and Herro has not been discussed specifically as of yet.
That I am reporting the HEAT and Thunder a discussing a Westbrook deal around Herro — I am in no way reporting that. Miami is simply remaining flexible. https://t.co/MDhDYk1HC8
— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) July 9, 2019
Through yesterday’s Summer League games, Herro is currently averaging 19.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.8 steals in 27.8 minutes per contest. While plenty of players have put up solid numbers at various times over the last week, the former Wildcat has far and away been one of the most consistently productive players in attendance.
While Pat Riley has been outspoken about how much he loves Herro’s game and looks forward to him playing in Miami, could the former Wildcat soon be trade bait for Oklahoma City?
If so, Herro could join Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Nerlens Noel, and Patrick Patterson with the Thunder, giving the team five former Kentucky players on the roster at the same time.
As much as we love the pairing of Herro and Bam Adebayo in Miami, I think we can all agree that seeing No. 14 in OKC would be pretty sweet.
By Nick Roush on ©July 08th, 2019 @ 10:45pm
Block or charge?
Mychal Mulder has an answer to Rex Chapman’s favorite question. As usual, it produced an unfortunate result.
Playing in the Las Vegas Summer League Monday night, Mulder found himself face-to-face with the eighth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Jaxson Hayes. The athletic 6’11” New Orleans Pelican did not hesitate when he saw Mulder square up in the paint. Hayes went up, over and through the former Wildcat.
WARNING: The following clip contains extreme violence. Viewer discretion is advised.
WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM TO BRING YOU AN ABSOLUTE HAMMER BY JAXSON HAYES pic.twitter.com/NFJsryE7N6
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) July 9, 2019
Thoughts and prayers to Mr. Mulder.
By Nick Roush on ©July 08th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
Keldon Johnson got hot once again in Las Vegas.
The 29th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft made 6-of-10 shots to score a team-high 19 points in a 106-96 Sunday afternoon victory over the Hornets. He also grabbed four boards, dished out an assist and blocked a shot.
Johnson produced points by playing physical and finishing at the rim. He went to the free throw line seven times and made every single attempt.
His best moments are much more entertaining when the former Wildcat is providing commentary. How does Keldon put an exclamation point on an And One? By flexing and screaming, “BIG BODY!”
Keldon was mic'd up during yesterday's game ? pic.twitter.com/92a0RS5k70
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) July 8, 2019
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 08th, 2019 @ 5:22pm
Another day, another former Cat turning heads in the NBA Summer League. Today, 2019 Slam Dunk Contest Champion Hamidou Diallo showed off his athleticism with three big dunks in the first half of Oklahoma City’s game vs. Philadelphia:
Dunk Champ Hamidou Diallo 3 Monster Dunks in 1st Half vs 76ers ??? pic.twitter.com/LJ9DU9dPak
— Dawkins (@DawkinsMTA) July 8, 2019
This steal and score was nice as well:
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) July 8, 2019
Hami had ten points in the first half and finished with fourteen, along with four rebounds, three steals, three turnovers, and a block. His plus/minus was a team-high +10. At one point late in the second quarter, the Thunder were up by 31 points, but the 76ers stormed back to take the game to overtime before eventually losing 84-81.
Meanwhile, Wenyen Gabriel has eight points and six rebounds in 23 minutes for the Sacramento Kings, who are currently leading the Dallas Mavericks in the fourth quarter. You can watch the end of that on NBATV.
Here’s the Summer League schedule for the rest of the day:
5:30 pm | NBA TV | Washington Wizards vs. Brooklyn Nets
7:00 pm | ESPNU | San Antonio Spurs (Keldon Johnson) vs. Toronto Raptors
7:30 pm | NBA TV | Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics (Aaron Harrison)
9:00 pm | ESPNU | Milwaukee Bucks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
9:30 pm | NBA TV | New Orleans Pelicans vs. Chicago Bulls (Mychal Mulder)
11:00 pm | ESPNU | China vs. Charlotte Hornets (PJ Washington — Not playing)
11:30 pm | NBA TV | Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers
By Drew Franklin on ©July 08th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
Don’t get too excited about Rajon Rondo guiding the Lakers just yet. Turns out, he might not be the Lakers’ starting point guard next season after all.
According to a new story from Yahoo! Sports, LeBron James will move to point guard next season and the plan is for him to run the Lakers’ offense, not Rondo, who reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with the Lakers over the weekend.
James is expected to share the starting backcourt with newly-acquired Danny Green, formerly of the world champion Toronto Raptors, alongside Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and, most likely, Kyle Kuzma on the wing.
PG – LeBron James
SG – Danny Green
SF – Kyle Kuzma
PF – Anthony Davis
C – DeMarcus Cousins
Rondo would then share the backup PG responsibilities with Quinn Cook and Alex Caruso, who I can’t believe is a legit NBA player out of Texas A&M.
For what it’s worth, the Lakers still haven’t announced Rondo’s new deal.
Just a few short hours after the Denver Nuggets traded for Jerami Grant – a 6-foot-9 power forward with unreal leaping abilities and a 39 percent shooter from three last season, acquiring him from the Oklahoma City Thunder – it was announced that Denver had rescinded the qualifying offer extended to former Kentucky forward Trey Lyles.
Sources: Denver is rescinding the qualifying offer on forward Trey Lyles, making him an unrestricted free agent. Move allows Lyles to focus on new home with a better opportunity given the depth of forwards on the Nuggets now.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 8, 2019
Lyles will now become an unrestricted free agent and is free to sign with any team. But which team will that be?
Money has dried up quick. Teams that were once flush with cap space just seven days ago have exhausted its spending. The Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings are the only current teams with available cap space. Are they the teams that would be looking to add a young prospect like Lyles.
Theoretically, yes. The Hawks have been in asset accumulation mode for a few seasons now but are finally beginning to make a charge towards being competitive. They’re building a team from scratch, centering every move they make around Trae Young, John Collins, Kevin Huerter, and now De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish. From a fit standpoint, Lyles could actually be a perfect option – and one that could start right away next to Collins.
A reminder that Lyles isn’t even 24 yet. He had an excellent season in 2017-18 coming off the bench for a budding Nuggets squad, posting averages of 9.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting over 49 percent from the field. The Nuggets regular starting power forward, Paul Millsap, played only 38 games that year due to injury and Lyles filled in nicely. However, with the return of a healthy Millsap this past season, in addition to the breakout play of Nikola Jokic, Torrey Craig, and Malik Beasley, Denver’s rotation was too deep to give Lyles a chance.
When Lyles did play last season, he rushed everything. Wide open shots that were once automatic the year before turned into inevitable bricks. In 2017-18, Lyles converted on over 41 percent of his shots that were considered “wide-open” (six-plus feet from the closest defender). Not a terrific number, but not a terrible one either. Last season, that number plummeted to 33.1 percent – and that was on a higher frequency of shot attempts, per NBA.com. He shot 25.5 percent from three last season after making over 38 percent the year before.
Heading into next season, the confidence that Lyles would work his back into the rotation isn’t high. Micahel Porter Jr. and Jarred Vanderbilt should be healthy(er) going into next season, too, and they’ll surely get some looks early in the schedule. Once the Nuggets decided to trade for Grant early Sunday morning, it began to feel more and more likely that the Nuggets would be moving on from Lyles. And now it looks like they finally will. Lyles minutes had already dipped from 19.1 per game in 2017-18 to 17.5 last season.
Now he can find a team that is looking to give him minutes, not take them away. The Hawks and Kings might be two of his best options if they are willing to bring him along (although the Hawks did just add Jabari Parker on a two-year deal). Lyles isn’t a hot commodity, but he’s one of the best available free agents remaining. He’s young, big, and can shoot the ball. Someone is going to pick him up.
The Miami Heat trading Hassan Whiteside to the Portland Trail Blazers did more than clear $27 million off of next season’s books, it also cleared the way for Bam Adebayo to take over as the starting center of the future.
The idea of replacing Whiteside with Adebayo has crossed the minds of Heat fans ever since the former Kentucky big was selected 14th overall in 2017. Hell, it’s probably been Pat Riley’s plan all along. Adebayo has long been the supposed successor to the Miami Heat frontcourt. Now, he’s finally going to get his shot.
Heading into his third NBA season, Adebayo is still a work-in-progress, but one that progresses every single game. Through his first two seasons, he’s averaged 8.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in 21.7 minutes per game while shooting 55 percent from the field. His gravity-defying athleticism and natural basketball intelligence label him as an elite prospect going forward.
Adebayo played in all 82 games during his second season and quickly solidified himself as one of the most versatile defensive big men in the NBA. Switch him onto a guard in the pick-and-roll and he won’t get beat. Put him in the post against a seven-footer and he plants himself into the ground. It’s that versatility alone that makes him such an intriguing prospect. Miami wouldn’t be giving Adebayo the keys to the frontcourt if they didn’t think he was ready for the challenge.
The spacing next to fellow big men Kelly Olynyk or James Johnson will work in Adebayo’s favor. Both players can stretch the floor and occasionally attack the rim. While Adebayo is limited to the paint in terms of his offensive production, he vastly improved from year one to two. He bumped his effective field goal shooting up six percentage points and his accuracy at the rim jumped another five percentage points. His scarcely seen midrange game was completely reinvented in year two, as well, even if he didn’t use it all that often.
At this stage in both players careers, you could easily argue that Adebayo is already the better player than Whiteside at this very moment. Whiteside is an elite shot blocker – there is no questioning that – and his rebounding skills rate near the top of the league. But he’s not even close to the overall defender that Adebayo is. If Whiteside is caught out of position, it’s over for him. His recovery time is nothing compared to Adebayo. Once Whiteside can successfully deter wing players on the perimeter as Adebayo can, then maybe we can have that discussion.
And on offense, it’s hard to argue Whiteside is anything better than subpar. His shooting numbers are similar to Adebayo, but that’s with a far inferior assist rate and a terrible clip from the charity stripe. Whiteside is limited to the paint on both sides of the hardwood. Adebayo is effective no matter where he is on the court. His passing ability opens up possible plays that Whiteside literally couldn’t even dream up in his sleep.
With the addition of Jimmy Butler into the fold, the Heat have a playoff-ready roster, one that includes Adebayo in the starting role. There was a stretch last season where Whiteside was sidelined for a chunk of March, which forced Adebayo to start in 22 of the team’s final 23 games. In those appearances, Adebayo averaged 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds in 27.5 minutes per game while also shooting just a hair under 60 percent from the field. And that was on an arguably worse roster.
The Russell Westbrook to Miami trade rumors could mess this all up, in the end. Assuming any potential trade between the Heat and Thunder includes Adebayo (and probably Tyler Herro). However, a trio of Westbrook, Butler, and Adebayo would be the purest athletic lineup in the NBA. But no matter what happens, the Adebayo era is about to arrive.
With Kawhi Leonard’s decision to join the Los Angeles Clippers (while stealing Paul George in the process), NBA free agency is finally coming down off of peak ridiculousness. Since our last update from the first 24 hours of free agency, several former Kentucky players have found new homes. A few of them didn’t even sign until shortly after Leonard announced his decision to join the Clippers.
Out of the gate, Julius Randle, Enes Kanter, and Nerlens Noel were all reported to have signed new deals. Since then, Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins, Darius Miller, and Willie Cauley-Stein have all agreed to new contracts. So let’s start with the two former teammates who are being reunited in Laker Land.
DeMarcus Cousins (1-year, $3.5 million) and Rajon Rondo (2-years, veteran minimum) – Los Angeles Lakers
These two signings were beginning to feel inevitable. The Rondo signing, in particular, could have been made official weeks ago. And once Leonard landed with the Clippers, Cousins arrival with the Lakers felt like the next step. And now here we are, reuniting the 2017 New Orleans Pelicans roster (with the addition of one LeBron James).
Both signings make sense and won’t complicate the Lakers future cap space. Rondo and Cousins will both likely come off the bench (or they should, at least) to lead the second unit. There are more than enough statistics that prove Rondo and James did not work well together on the court – especially on defense – and Cousins could dominate as the go-to scorer with the bench lineup.
The Lakers finally have shooters to surround James and Rondo (and Cousins, in a sense) with snipers such as Danny Green and Troy Daniels along with other above-average shooters such as Quinn Cook and Jared Dudley. The spacing those players bring should open things up a bit more for Rondo when he’s running without LeBron.
But the match is made in heaven, considering Anthony Davis, Cousins, and Rondo all have experience playing together in New Orleans. Cousins will once again have another shot in a big market to prove he’s worth a significant contract – and he won’t miss the first 50 games this year, either. Rondo is a proven locker room presence with experience on this team. Even if he isn’t a massively valuable player on the court, he’ll earn his worth through influencing off the court.
Darius Miller – New Orleans Pelicans (2-years, $14 million)
This one shocked the hell out of me and I couldn’t have been happier when the Twitter notification popped up on my phone. Miller didn’t have a poor season, per se, but his production took a sizable hit from the year before. After making 41.1 percent of his threes during the 2017-18 season, Miller converted on only 36.5 percent of his shots from deep this past year. But despite that, he provides a clear skill that has become so valuable in the NBA. Even at under 37 percent, Miller is still a well above-average shooter. I just didn’t expect the Pelicans to pay $7.5 million per year for it.
But shoutout to Miller. He got PAID. We all need to get in contact with his agent for any future job negotiations. And he won’t even have to deal with a tanking franchise after the David Griffin one-month rebuild he executed to perfection as the Pelicans President. Miller averaged 24-25 minutes over the course of the last two seasons and the added depth from the Davis trade may cost him some playing time. But one thing looks clear; Griffin loves Miller and was willing to overpay to keep him around. He’s still going to be a rotational NBA player. What a story Darius Miller has turned out to be in the NBA.
Willie Cauley-Stein – Golden State Warriors (1-year, salary not yet disclosed)
Following in the previous footsteps of Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein has side-stepped a potential long-term deal in favor of a one-year contract with the Golden State Warriors. The circumstances are quite different, however, from what Cousins went through. And far less dramatic.
Kevin Durant left. Klay Thompson could miss the entire regular season. The roster is limited around Steph Curry and Draymond Green. But adding in WCS will be a seamless transition for the former Kentucky big. Playing off the greatest shooter of all-time is going to open up so many open dunks for Cauley-Stein he’ll be shocked at how open he is at times. That pick-and-roll combo will be a regular threat. The Warriors were already thin at center (even after resigning Kevon Looney) and Cauley-Stein immediately plugs that hole.
The big question will be whether or not this gamble will pay off. It didn’t exactly work out for Cousins (although injuries derailed that) and we recently saw Nerlens Noel cost himself millions of dollars a few seasons ago by trying something similar. Cauley-Stein is only 25, though, with plenty of room to improve. Golden State has a knack for pulling the best out of its role players. Here’s hoping they can help earn some money for WCS in the future.
Only a few former Wildcats remain on the open market. Wenyen Gabriel (Summer League with Sacramento Kings), Jodie Meeks (unrestricted free agent), and Trey Lyles (restricted free agent) are all still available. Lyles will likely stay with Denver and Meeks has apparently drawn some interest from the Thunder. But who knows if that’s true after the whole George ordeal. Gabriel will look to earn another short term deal with the Kings, perhaps playing with their G League affiliate.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©July 07th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
There was a point where it almost felt like the entire trade could potentially fall through and crumble to pieces, but Anthony Davis is officially a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers sent out this press release on Saturday night, confirming that the deal had officially gone through.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 7, 2019
The trade had to be delayed in order for the Lakers to make the money work with the rest of their freshly signed free agents. Part of the delay revolved around the potential addition of Kawhi Leonard before he chose the other team from L.A. – the Clippers. While all four teams involved in the Davis trade (Lakers, Pelicans, Wizards, and Hawks) were expected to fully cooperate to make sure the trade went through, the anxiety surrounding the deal was noticeable. Unfortunately, the wait didn’t pay off in the form of Kawhi Leonard, but the Lakers have done a solid job of building around Davis and LeBron James.
Just keep Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley the hell away from this team.