As the dust begins to settle on one of the craziest weeks of no basketball being played in recent NBA memory, it's time for a little bit of actual basketball! As the Utah and Orlando Summer Leagues finish up, the big one in Las Vegas gears up to begin on Friday.
If you haven't been informed of the Wolves' roster yet, it was released a couple of days ago and features two members of last year's squad (Tyus Jones and Adreian Payne), the Wolves' first round draft pick (Kris Dunn), and other rookies and D-League regulars trying to claim a place for themselves in the league. While the Wolves currently only have one open roster spot and a couple more question marks, there's a spot to be had if a player performs ridiculously well. The schedule of the first round of games, one last time:
Friday, July 8, 7:30pm, Thomas & Mack Center: vs. Denver (ESPN)
Sunday, July 10, 5:00pm, Cox Pavilion: vs. Toronto: vs. Toronto
Monday, July 11, 7:30pm, Thomas & Mack Center: vs. Cleveland
The Wolves will then play a minimum of two more games in a tournament format to be decided by the first round's results. Last season's Wolves finished 1-4 in Las Vegas. If you're watching the games, keep an eye out for familiar faces in the audience and media section. I will be covering the first three games, and John will be at the rest.
In Case You Missed It
- The Wolves signed shooting guard Brandon Rush to a one year contract at $3.5 million, which looks like a tremendous steal to me. A couple of Rush stats not mentioned in yesterday's news piece: Rush has the twelfth highest career three point field goal percentage among active players (40.3%), over almost 1200 attempts. You may have forgotten, but Rush actually started 25 games for the 73-9 Warriors last season while Harrison Barnes was out with injury. I love this signing.
- Also reported yesterday was the addition of Brian Pauga to the Wolves' front office as Player Personnel Director, another import from San Antonio. More about Pauga can be read here.
- Outside of the Timberwolves' sphere, possibly the biggest free agency shock of the entire week came last night when Dwayne Wade chose to end his thirteen year association with the Miami Heat and join his hometown Chicago Bulls. I can't yet imagine Wade in another jersey. Whether or not this is actually a good basketball idea for the Bulls is an entirely different discussion, but what a strange thing.
- All charades about the moratorium can now end. As of 11:00 pm CT last night, the free agency period ACTUALLY began and teams could publicly announce their new signings, submit offer sheets (and have players sign them) to start the three day matching period, and so on and so forth. The Warriors have already announced a press conference to introduce Kevin Durant at 11:00 am CT this morning, and the Mavericks announced their signing of Harrison Barnes on Twitter last night.
For those of you that follow me on Twitter, among my basketball and nerd musings, you may have noticed my great interest in a new mobile game, Pokémon Go, which launched in the US last night, taking every childhood fantasy I had about running out of the house and catching wild Pokémon and making it a reality. It may be nothing more than a crappy phone game full of micro-transactions, but for people of a generation that grew up playing the Pokémon games, it's a pretty cool little toy.
In other nerd news, I've been out in California on a mini-vacation this past week as a prelude to Summer League, and while I was out in Los Angeles, I took in a few live games of League of Legends, attending a day's worth of the North American LCS at Riot Games' arena in LA. Compared to any other live sporting event, it measured up very well as a day out. Tickets were reasonably priced, as were the concessions (which were better than any I've had at any other sporting event). Other spectators were very friendly, and the entire experience was well-organized and great fun. If I have time between things in the next couple of weeks, I may flesh out my thoughts on the experience into a full-fledged piece, if anyone is interested in reading more about it.
I'm excited to get back to watching basketball, rather than fretting over free agents and trades for a bit. Long live Summer League!