Storyline: Training Camp Invitations

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The Chicago Bulls announced today the signing of free agents Jarell Eddie and Jaylen Johnson to round out their 2017-18 training camp roster. Per team policy, terms of the contracts were not disclosed. Eddie (6-7, 218) saw action in five games for the Phoenix Suns last season, along with 45 appearances in the NBA G League for the Austin Spurs and Windy City Bulls. Eddie totaled 4.8 ppg and 1.4 rpg in 12.4 mpg for the Suns during a 10-day contract. In his G League action, he averaged 14.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg and 1.5 apg in 28.3 mpg total, including 17.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 2.0 apg in 20 games for the Windy City Bulls. The Tampa, Florida, native played in 26 games for the Washington Wizards in 2015-16, scoring 2.4 ppg in 5.7 mpg.

The San Antonio Spurs today announced their 2017-18 training camp roster. The current Spurs roster stands at 19 players, and includes the addition of Amida Brimah. Brimah (6-10/230) played four seasons at the University of Connecticut, averaging 7.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.64 blocks in 24.7 minutes over 33 games last year in his senior season. A native of Ghana, Brimah is UConn’s all-time leader in career field goal percentage (.637, 347-545) and ranks third in school history in career blocks (367) and blocks per game (2.76), helping the Huskies to the 2013-14 NCAA Championship.

The New Orleans Pelicans have until Monday afternoon to get their roster to the NBA-maximum 15 players and it appears Lance Stephenson and Alonzo Gee are in a two-man battle to land the final spot. Stephenson signed a $1.2 million contract with the Pelicans in September but only $100,000 is guaranteed. Gee signed a guaranteed $1.2 million veteran minimum contract to this summer to return to the Pelicans, but averaged only 9.2 minutes in five preseason games and just 1.4 points.

The Mavericks are committed to keeping Nicolas Brussino, according to team sources, after the Argentina prospect’s strong play in camp. When Brussino was still on Dallas’ roster as of 5 p.m. Thursday, his $543,471 rookie salary became fully guaranteed, after just $100,000 was guaranteed to that point. But there was never any danger of Brussino getting cut, sources say.

Celtics sign Ryan Kelly

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed forward Ryan Kelly. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. Kelly, a 6’11” forward, appeared in six games for the Atlanta Hawks during the 2016 Preseason where he averaged 4.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 15.0 minutes per game. Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 48th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Kelly has appeared in 147 career games and recorded averages of 6.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

Memphis Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace today announced the team has signed forward JaKarr Sampson. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. In addition, the Grizzlies waived guard Kellen Dunham. Sampson (6-9, 214) has appeared in 147 career regular season games (72 starts) over his two-year NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets and holds career averages of 5.2 points and 2.4 rebounds in 15.6 minutes. The 23-year-old has also competed in two NBA Development League games (two starts) for the Delaware 87ers and averaged 15.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.00 steals and 1.00 blocks in 31.7 minutes.

When Erik Spoelstra was asked Monday about the battle for the final roster spot between Beno Udrih and Briante Weber, he gave a very interesting answer. “It’s not a competition just between those two,” Spoelstra said. It turns out that Udrih and Weber aren’t just competing against each other for Miami’s 15th roster spot. The pair of point guards are also competing against 25-year-old shooting guard Rodney McGruder. “Yeah, he is,” Spoelstra said Wednesday when asked if McGruder is still in the race for a roster spot. With the Heat’s roster still at the NBA preseason maximum of 20 players, Miami must cut its roster to the regular-season maximum of 15 players by Monday’s deadline. With 14 players pretty much guaranteed a spot on the roster, that leaves Udrih, Weber and McGruder fighting for the final opening.

When the media doors opened to the Kings practice facility at the new Golden 1 Center Monday afternoon, point guard Ty Lawson was on the floor with his teammates. It’s been a rocky 72 hours for the 28-year-old after he missed a team flight to Kentucky, but he’s survived for the moment and will remain part of the Kings roster. Lawson, who has a history of off-the-court issues, was brought in late during the offseason to support one of the soft spots in the Kings roster. Starter Darren Collison is scheduled to miss the first eight games of the 2016-17 season due to league suspension.

It’s unclear if Brand will have any role on this year’s team beyond training camp since he hasn’t played at all in the preseason. But “him being there, it helps me off the court probably more than on the court,” Holmes said. “This is a guy who truly, truly loves basketball, so it wasn’t a shock for me,” Holmes said of Brand re-signing with the Sixers. “I didn’t know what the decision was going to be, but for him to come back wasn’t a shock at all because he truly loves being around the game.”

“He never takes plays off,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “He’s a great guy. You want him around. He’s a monster on the offensive glass and has a great attitude with everything we’ve done.” That has included often finishing near the top of the Lakers’ so-called winner’s board, which has awarded points for any player that wins a drill in practice. “I’m just trying to be who I am as a player,” Robinson said. “Those are exactly the things Coach said.”

McClellan scored 20 points in 32 minutes of action in the Wizards’ double-overtime win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. Besides that performance, he has shown potential behind closed doors in practices. “Like every player that comes into this league, he has a lot to learn about what we do and be able to do it consistently,” Wizards Coach Scott Brooks said. “But he’s had a good start to his pro career. He’s had a lot of good practices and a couple of good moments, or good games, and he’s played well but it’s a long training camp. He still has to focus on being consistent with his habits, practice and game. But he’s played well.”

“He’s not scared of anybody,” Wall said of McClellan. “He’s got a lot of heart. Anytime [we] play a one-on-one drill … he always calls out, like, me or Brad. He always wants to take on the challenge of guarding the best player. That’s something you don’t see too often from a rookie, not worrying about the scoring the ball but worrying about trying to guard the best player and that’s how you get yourself established in this league.” McClellan recognizes that nothing is certain and the likelihood of his roster spot is contingent on improvement. So, he knows he has to keep learning and growing — for instance, McClellan points to his attempt at a game-winner in Philadelphia, when he followed a strong blow-by move with a weak up-and-under layup that was blocked.

The 6-foot-2 point guard faces an uphill battle to crack the Pistons roster, sitting fifth in the pecking order behind two players with guaranteed contracts (Reggie Jackson, Ish Smith) and two others under partially-guaranteed deals (Lorenzo Brown, Ray McCallum). Detroit will likely only carry three point guards on its 15-man roster. “I don’t know what they were looking for, but I was just going to try and push the top guys and work my butt off and do whatever I can,” Freeman said. “That’s just my mindset.”

He had interest from other teams but he kept coming back to the Hawks even for a non-guaranteed training camp invitation. The odds are long as the Hawks already have 16 guaranteed or substantially guaranteed contracts. “I thought it was a really good fit in terms of the style of play,” Ryan said. “They are a team that has been calling me all summer because I think they value what I do. I needed a change, that’s for sure. Where I was, was just not working. I’m excited about this whole thing, a new home, a new opportunity and not to mention being on the east coast and a little closer to family.”

“My last couple years have been rough, both individually and as a team,” Kelly said. “It was good for a change. I’m excited about the future. I learned a lot from my experience there, I don’t want to say never because you never know where you are going to end up, but this is a great opportunity for me and I want to take advantage of it. “It’s going to be a fight. It’s going to be a battle. I’m going to try to take advantage of every opportunity. One, show the Hawks what I can do and that I’ve gotten better. And also, get an opportunity to show everybody in the league that I deserve to be here.”
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September 26, 2017 | 8:57 am EDT Update

Kevin Love shrugs off trade rumors

It wasn’t hypothetical swaps for Carmelo Anthony — trades that the Cavs never seriously considered, according to sources. This time, Love’s name was floated out there in blockbuster deals for Paul George, who eventually went to Oklahoma City. “I don’t know if numb is the word,” Love said. “Some of the things are laughable. I know this is our job and this is our business and this is what we do for a living. But at the end of the day it’s a business. We’ve seen guys on several teams and throughout the course of history of the game, maybe a coach or a GM or a certain player has sworn that either they’re going to keep him or they’re going to sign this player, free agency and they get a better deal. It’s the better offer theory.
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Speculation says LeBron James leaves Cleveland after this season. Former Post columnist Peter Vecsey wrote James “unequivocally” will bolt for the Lakers. “I think he leaves and he goes somewhere and he can always point back to, ‘Guys, I came back and gave you everything I have. We won a title but now I have to move on. You traded one of our top players …’” said one rival executive. “And if they have success, it’s a whole other story.”
While general manager Scott Perry said the starting center job will be one of the most important battles of camp, he admitted something could happen in terms of a trade. Who knows if Kanter, 25, becomes more of a two-way player after his 33-pound weight loss and renders Hernangomez a trade chip down the road. Or if Kanter is flipped for draft picks at the trade deadline to a team desperate for inside scoring? “Part of my job is to daily assess our roster, take phone calls and figure out ways to keep getting this basketball team better,’’ Perry said during media day Monday. “So I will continue to do that.’’
Storyline: Knicks Front Office