SH Blog: Thunder might count on Lamb; Pelicans offer Oden two-year deal

Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings

Poor Brandon Jennings. Apart from Nik Pekovic, who should re-sign with the Wolves any day now, he’s by far the best player remaining in free agency, according to Moke Hamilton’s top 20 ranking. There’s plenty of other useful pieces remaining, obviously, but Jennings is the only guy who demanded $12 million, and who, before the new CBA, might have gotten that. But now, it seems like nobody wants him. And while he’s probably not worth the money he wants, surely somebody will want him, right? Yet the only news that seems to come out is that the Bucks are planning to sign-and-trade him, and that the Hawks wanted Jeff Teague more than him. That’s it. Nobody else seems to want Jennings, which seems hard to believe — but really, who’s in the market for a player that might make a team good enough to get them out of the lottery, but probably won’t make them legitimately great? What non-rebuilding team needs a starting point guard with Jennings’ skillset? Detroit, maybe? Anybody else? So really, poor Brandon Jennings.

Today’s roundup of the latest NBA news and rumors has exactly zero Brandon Jennings items, but does have some news on my favorite topic of all, a certain oft-injured center most recently of the Trail Blazers. Let’s get right to it.

  • Kemba_Walker_Jeremy_LambInteresting look at some young players, most notably Jeremy Lamb, who the Thunder may be counting on this year, from Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe: “With Westbrook expected back healthy and the Thunder carrying championship aspirations after last May’s unceremonious exit courtesy of the Grizzlies, Lamb could have an opportunity to not only play but start. Considered a can’t-miss prospect after his freshman season at UConn, during which he and Kemba Walker helped the Huskies win the national title, Lamb returned for his sophomore season and his stock slipped. He was taken by the Rockets 12th overall in 2012 and then was dealt to the Thunder when Houston general manager Daryl Morey was trying to clear cap space to sign Dwight Howard — the first time. Lamb spent most of his rookie season in the NBADL, unable to establish himself in the Oklahoma City rotation. Earlier this month at the Orlando Summer League, the 6-foot-5-inch Lamb was one of the better players, averaging 18.8 points, 4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in four games. Lamb still needs to improve his perimeter shooting and shot selection, but he made a statement with his performance. “[Limited playing time last year] was definitely motivation, I use a lot of things as motivation,” he said. “I use people telling me I can’t do something as motivation. I use getting drafted as motivation. The biggest thing [for me] is being able to impact the game in other ways than scoring. A lot of people know I can score, shoot the ball. I just have to do other things to impact the game.” “
  • The guy Lamb might be counted on to replace headed to Minnesota, and Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune talked to Kevin Martin about the transition: “He chose the Wolves’ four-year offer worth nearly $28 million over a Thunder proposal that was significantly restricted by the luxury tax. Asked if he seriously considered returning to Thunder for relatively little money but the chance to win a championship, he said, “Always. I also feel like I found the same thing with Minnesota being younger. They’ve had some injuries over the years, but they’re a good team, too. I made a decision and I think it’s a great one. I learned from Oklahoma CIty, they’re a great organization. The way KD and Russ approach the game, I  think that’s something I’ll bring to Minnesota.” “
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  • All might not be well in Knicks-world, writes Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: “Let’s assume that Metta will be a model citizen and is all grown up now. Those same coaches and executives believe that will be the case. But they were also near unanimous in that they feel Metta the basketball player is near his expiration date. I guess the only question is if Metta expires before Shumpert, one of the few Knicks who has value. Dolan is reportedly upset that Shumpert wasn’t interested in working with the summer league team and wants to trade him. Shumpert, I’ve heard, isn’t too crazy about the moves the Knicks have made, which could further stunt his development. The bigger issue is that Dolan is still throwing his weight around and throwing temper tantrums. The man behind the curtain who refuses to answer questions and address his loyal fan base is very much in charge. He was the driving force behind the grand plan to acquire Melo, Amar’e and Paul. Instead, the Knicks’ three big moves this summer were to form the alliance of Bargnani, Smith and Metta World Peace.”
  • Monta EllisThe Monta Ellis signing had a lot of people scratching their heads over the future direction of the Mavericks, but as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes, he could be a very valuable player: “The combination of playing with Dirk Nowitzki and having the benefit of coach Rick Carlisle’s creativity offensively could be exactly what Ellis needs to become a more efficient player — which is pretty much the only thing standing between him and all-star status. “We think that in our system, Monta can really bloom,” owner Mark Cuban said. “He has superstar potential. It will be fun to see how much his game grows under Rick and playing next to Dirk and a pass-first point guard like Jose [Calderon].” The only real knocks on Ellis have been that he is not a good 3-point shooter and he gambles too much on the defensive end of the floor, resulting in a lot of steals, but too often giving opponents easy looks at the basket. However, Ellis’ efficiency is not as bad statistically as some make it out to be. According to the NBA’s player-efficiency rankings, Ellis was 51st in the league last season with a rating of 17.3. That was ahead of players such as Denver’s Ty Lawson (57th), Phoenix’s Goran Dragic (59th) and Toronto’s Rudy Gay (65th).”
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  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News explains why Tiago Splitter decided to stay with the Spurs: “For starting center Tiago Splitter, the pain of having his role severely diminished in the series’ final two games lingered in his mind as he became a restricted free agent July 1. Ultimately, the chance to make another playoff run with a roster that remains largely intact brought Splitter back to the team. “When you have such a successful team, you’ve got to keep what’s working,” Splitter said. “We didn’t win a ring last year, but we were very close, and we went the year before to the West finals. You don’t want to change it.” Splitter acknowledges he thought about signing an offer sheet that might have resulted in playing for another team. The Hawks and Trail Blazers talked to his agent about proffering offers. Prepared for a long summer of free agency intrigue, he was happily surprised when a deal that kept him in San Antonio shaped up quickly. “My agent told me it was going to be a long summer for me,” he said. “But the Spurs made an offer that I liked and is great for me and my family. I couldn’t say no. I want to stay here, and I had that in my hands, so it’s great for me.” “
  • Things are going to be different in Sacramento, and in a more tangible way than just new management, writes Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee: “In two seasons in the NBA, Isaiah Thomas had never looked so happy to be exhausted. He had participated in a summer league practice and couldn’t believe the level of intensity. For coach Michael Malone, it wasn’t anything special. “Isaiah Thomas told me after our practice that it was the hardest practice he’s had since he’s been in the NBA,” Malone said. “And I laughed because it wasn’t that hard a practice in my eyes.” Malone wasn’t planning to use the summer league as a barometer for regular-season success, and considering the Kings finished 1-4, that’s a good thing. Malone intended to establish a standard for hard work and accountability that would carry over into training camp and the regular season.”
  • gregodenIf you’re a regular reader of my weekend blogs, you know that my favorite kind of news is Greg Oden news. And we’ve got some of that today, via Darrell Williams of The Advocate: “The New Orleans Pelicans are set to offer a two-year contract to injury-plagued former Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden, NBC Sports reported Friday. An NBA source said General Manager Dell Demps has not met with Oden and his agent, Mike Conley Sr., in Las Vegas, where a Pelicans team has been participating in the Summer League, but the team does have interest in Oden. The Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks and Sacramento Kings reportedly have meetings scheduled with Oden. Messages left for Conley were not returned. A two-year offer by the Pelicans could put them at the forefront of the pursuit of Oden, who has not played since 2010 — his second NBA season — after surgeries on both knees. Other teams, most notably the NBA champion Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, reportedly have offered one-year contracts, preferring to allow Oden to show he has recovered. New Orleans reportedly is ready to pitch to Oden, 25, that it will allow him to work his way back with little pressure. The Heat and Spurs, who lost to Miami in the NBA Finals, see him as more of an immediate, although limited, contributor.”
  • In case you forgot, the Sixers still don’t have a coach. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer got Charles Barkley’s opinion on the subject (which couldn’t have been too difficult): “Charles Barkley has never been one to hold his tongue. So it should come as no surprise that he had an opinion Friday about the 76ers remaining without a head coach. Friday marked the 92d day since Doug Collins resigned. “I think that’s one of the silliest things that I’ve seen in sports in a long time,” the former Sixer said on Comcast SportsNet’s ‘Philly Sports Talk.’ “I’m in Philly during the summer as you know, and I’m watching and reading every day … To not have a coach under contract by now, I think that’s a joke. I don’t know what they are waiting on. “You’re playing summer league games, people need to know who’s in charge, they get players who are playing in the summer league, they got assistant coaches coaching the team. You just can’t bring somebody in, and him have instant credibility. He has to build rapport with the players.” “

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Dan Malone just finished his third year as a journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He blogs, edits and learns things on the fly for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.

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