Sum­mer League winds down, and now, maybe, some NBA rest

Sun Star Bacolod - - Prime Sports -

THEY’LL hand out Tshirts to the Sum­mer League win­ners fol­low­ing the cham­pi­onship game be­tween Mem­phis and Min­nesota in Las Ve­gas on Mon­day night, and then things will fi­nally slow down a bit in the NBA. Maybe.

And prob­a­bly not for long.

It’s been a hec­tic month since Toronto won the NBA cham­pi­onship and the so-called off­sea­son com­menced. Al­ready this sum­mer, 18 cur­rent and for­mer All-stars have changed fran­chises, and that num­ber will rise to 19 if Vince Carter finds a new home for his fi­nal sea­son. Re­cent NBA Fi­nals MVPS Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and An­dre Iguo­dala all were among those on the move.

And an­other three past fi­nals MVPS — Dwyane Wade, Dirk Now­itzki and Tony Parker — all re­tired. So when next sea­son be­gins, very lit­tle will look the same.

“I think there’s go­ing to be a lot of par­ity,” Brook­lyn coach Kenny Atkin­son said. “That’s my gut.”

NBA Com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver ex­pected this sum­mer to be loaded with player move­ment, and wasn’t com­plain­ing about so many big names — Durant, Leonard, Chris Paul, Rus­sell West­brook, An­thony Davis, Paul Ge­orge, Kyrie Irv­ing, Al Hor­ford, Jimmy But­ler and many more — need­ing to file change-of-ad­dress cards.

“At the end of the day, it’s pos­i­tive for the league,” Sil­ver said. “I will say, though, I’m mind­ful of this no­tion of bal­ance of power, and I think it ap­plies in many dif­fer­ent ways. An ap­pro­pri­ate bal­ance of power be­tween the teams and the play­ers ... at the end of the day, you want to make sure you have a league where every team is in a po­si­tion to com­pete.”

There were some clear win­ners in free agency: Brook­lyn (who got Durant and Irv­ing), the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers (who got Ge­orge and Leonard) and the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers (who got Davis) were among them. It could be ar­gued that the Ok­la­homa City Thun­der won as well — no, they won’t be as good this sea­son as they were this past sea­son af­ter trad­ing Ge­orge and West­brook, but gen­eral man­ager Sam Presti has enough draft picks now to en­joy flex­i­bil­ity for years.

The losers are clear as well: Toronto lost Leonard and Danny Green and Golden State lost Durant, so last sea­son’s fi­nal­ists cer­tainly aren’t fa­vorites to be this sea­son’s fi­nal­ists. It’s also easy to say that New York lost af­ter com­ing up empty on the big­name free agents, but the Knicks got plenty of good play­ers on deals that en­sure the team will have money again next sum­mer.

A looka­head at what’s com­ing, and some notes on what’s gone down: SO NOW WHAT?

Any NBA with­drawal will re­ally only last about three weeks, un­til roughly three dozen play­ers re­turn to Las Ve­gas for USA Bas­ket­ball’s train­ing camp lead­ing up to the FIBA World Cup in China that starts on Aug. 31.

San An­to­nio’s Gregg Popovich is coach­ing the Amer­i­cans, as­sisted by Golden State’s Steve Kerr, At­lanta’s Lloyd Pearce and Vil­lanova’s Jay Wright. Zion Wil­liamson, knee per­mit­ting, may take part in camp as one of the young play­ers brought in to help the more-es­tab­lished pros get ready. If Wil­liamson im­presses, he may get a shot at join­ing the var­sity club.

Also, this sea­son’s NBA sched­ule is likely to come around the se­cond week of Au­gust, if re­cent years are any in­di­ca­tor.

WHO’S LEFT?

Plenty of free agents re­main un­signed, and that’ll still be the case even in Septem­ber as train­ing camps get ready to open.

It’s still hard to see the Thun­der keep­ing Paul, ac­quired in the West­brook trade to Hous­ton, so ex­pect at least one more block­buster trade be­fore too long. Or can a player who is owed $121 mil­lion over the next three sea­sons be bought out? Stay tuned.

Carter wants to come back for a 22nd NBA sea­son, which would be a league record. If he gets into a game af­ter Jan. 1, he’ll also be­come the first NBA player to ap­pear in four dif­fer­ent decades.

Ja­mal Craw­ford re­mains out there as well, and con­tenders should be call­ing him.

LOADED WEST Philadel­phia, Bos­ton, Brook­lyn, In­di­ana and Mi­ami all likely got bet­ter in the East. Mil­wau­kee kept most of its team that won an Nba-best 60 games.

The East will be good. The West might be bloody.

The Clip­pers, the Lak­ers, Hous­ton, Golden State, Den­ver, Utah, Port­land and San An­to­nio could end up as the eight play­off teams in the Western Con­fer­ence. It’s plau­si­ble; they’re prob­a­bly the most re­al­is­tic eight picks right now. But at least four of those teams — most of them with su­per­star duos that are all the rage now — won’t be in the se­cond round of next sea­son’s play­offs. LONGEVITY AWARD For now, Golden State’s Stephen Curry is the long­est-tenured player un­der con­tract to one team. He’s en­ter­ing his 11th sea­son with the War­riors.

With Now­itzki (21 sea­sons with Dal­las) re­tired, Mike Con­ley (12 sea­sons with Mem­phis) traded to Utah and West­brook (11 sea­sons with Ok­la­homa

City) traded to Hous­ton, no cur­rent player has had a longer un­in­ter­rupted run with one team than Curry.

But if Udo­nis Haslem re-signs with Mi­ami, it’ll be his 17th sea­son with the Heat.

THE NUM­BERS

In­clud­ing the $196 mil­lion ex­ten­sion for Port­land’s Damian Lil­lard, a $170 mil­lion ex­ten­sion for Den­ver’s Ja­mal Mur­ray and an­other in-the-works $170 mil­lion ex­ten­sion for Philadel­phia’s Ben Simmons, NBA teams have com­mit­ted to spend roughly $4 bil­lion in new deals that were struck in the last three weeks alone.

And that’s with 100 more sign­ings to come, at least.

That $4 bil­lion fig­ure is twice what the to­tal pay­roll was a decade ago for every team in the league, com­bined.

AP PHOTO

FILE - In this Thurs­day, June 20, 2019, file photo, Vir­ginia’s De’an­dre Hunter, right, is greeted by NBA Com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver af­ter be­ing se­lected with the fourth pick over­all by the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers dur­ing the NBA bas­ket­ball draft in New York. Hunter went No. 4 over­all, taken by the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers. His rights had been traded twice, first to New Orleans as part of the An­thony Davis deal, then to At­lanta. But since nei­ther of those trades could be closed be­fore July 6, Hunter wore a Lak­ers cap on stage. Sil­ver wants the hat game fixed.

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