The Boston Celtics have signed guard/forward Max Strus to a standard Replica Nike NBA Jerseys China contract and converted center Tacko Fall to a two-way contract, the team announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Strus, 23, was initially signed to a two-way contract on July 25, after playing two collegiate seasons at DePaul University. He’s played in both of Boston’s preseason contests, logging two rebounds and three assists in seven minutes.
The Hickory Hills, IL native played in four games for Boston at the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League 2019, averaging 9.8 points (41.4% FG, 45.0% 3-PT, 85.7% FT), 2.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 17.9 minutes.
Fall, 23, signed with the Celtics after competing on the team’s summer league squad, where he averaged 7.2 points (77.3% FG), 4.0 rebounds, and 1.4 blocked shots in five games played. The University of Central Florida graduate has produced five points on 2-of-4 shooting, five rebounds and two blocked shots in 14 minutes over two games of preseason action.
The Los Angeles Lakers are leaving China winless in two 2019 NBA preseason games against the Brooklyn Nets and a fresh injury to Anthony Davis‘ thumb may be cause for a bit of concern.
However, despite those setbacks and the tense political situation that exists between China and the NBA, the trip still provided plenty of information for the Lakers to take back as they prepare for the 2019-20 NBA season.
On the Lakers Nation Podcast, host Trevor Lane takes a look at three things that were learned from the team’s third preseason game.
First and foremost, the Lakers discovered (not surprisingly) they struggle when LeBron James and Anthony Davis aren’t on the floor. With Davis dealing with a thumb injury and James only playing in the first quarter as the team hopes to keep him fresh, head coach Frank Vogel looked to other players to step up in their absence. It did not go well.
While the first quarter showed promise with the two All-Star players joining role players, things went downhill with the team’s guards particularly struggling.
Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo, Danny Green, and Zach Norvell shot a combined 3-for-27 from the field. Many of those misses were even more damaging than usual because they gave the Nets opportunities to get into transition, which they used to punish the Lakers.
While Avery Bradley was a bit better at 6-of-13 shooting, he missed all four of his three-point attempts, which makes him 0-for-7 in three preseason games from behind the arc. If the Lakers are going to be able to take advantage of his defensive intensity, he needs to at least provide spacing on the offensive end by knocking down shots.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had probably the most consistent game of the guards, but the team is going to need a lot more out of their cadre of creators during the regular season.
Fortunately, the team’s bigs did pick up some of the slack. JaVale McGee was particularly good, looking explosive on both ends and showcasing a pretty spin move and pump fake that culminated in the dunk of the day. Based on the last three games, he should be well ahead of Dwight Howard in the race for the team’s starting center spot.
Finally, the travel and distractions associated with being in China took a toll on the Lakers. The team looked out of sync and while much of that can be rectified when James and Davis are on the floor (not to mention the eventual return of Kyle Kuzma), getting back to Los Angeles certainly won’t hurt.
Time for another preseason tradition: our eighth annual League Pass Rankings. These are watchability scores derived from a formula etched into stone tablets unearthed during construction of Bill Simmons’ backyard swimming pool. We reward each team between one and 10 points in five categories:
Zeitgeist: Do normal people care about this team? If you bring them up at a party, will guests slink away like Homer Simpson into the hedge?
Highlight potential: Does this team have one player who can transform a ho-hum sequence into something transcendent in a blink?
Style: The 2013-14 Spurs would be a 10. James Harden dribbling 44 times before launching another step-back would receive something below a 10.
League Pass minutiae: Uniforms, courts, announcers.
Unintentional comedy: Blame Simmons. We have expanded the category to include variables — like Markelle Fultz’s jump shot — more appropriately classified as “curiosities.”
Reminder: These are not power rankings.
30. WASHINGTON WIZARDS (14 POINTS)
Does Bradley Beal know the name of every teammate? Will he begin weeping during the run of play at some point?
Beal is too good, and too loyal, to act out whatever frustrations he might harbor. If anything, the opposite will happen: He will again lead the league in minutes toiling for a team that seems to believe everything will be fine once John Wall returns from (/pauses to check notes) heel surgery and a torn Achilles. Beal busting it for 35 minutes on this team is almost torture to watch — Beal as the Leonardo DiCaprio character in “The Revenant.”
On the flip side, ranking 30th carries some strange reverse-jinx effect. The Pacers landed here ahead of their feel-good 2017-18 season. Sacramento brought up the rear a year ago.
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Troy Brown has a high-IQ slash-and-cut game. Thomas Bryant gets a chance to prove himself a starter. He was one of the league’s most prolific dunkers once Washington stole him, and he is dying — almost bouncing on his feet as he awaits a pass, like an excited toddler — to launch jumpers. Insiders want to see if Washington reached picking Rui Hachimura No. 9. Any Isaiah Thomas bounce-back would be a wonderful story. Scott Brooks makes a pretty good resting anguished face.
Eh. The basketball is going to be dreadful, and we don’t have Steve Buckhantz and Kara Lawson to chronicle it. The Celtics hired Lawson. The powers-that-be strung Buckhantz along before moving on. Boo. Buckhantz gave voice — via exasperated sighs and extended silences — to the hopelessness of a fan base.
29. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (19.5)
One of my random vivid memories from last season: watching from courtside on March 12 in Philadelphia as Collin Sexton kept the Cavs — without Kevin Love — close against a full-strength Philly team acting as if that game was beneath it.
I fell a little in love with Sexton that night. He sensed Philly’s disdain. It fueled him. He went at Joel Embiid and talked trash, chin-to-chest, during dead balls. He demanded the ball on every fourth-quarter possession, and produced: 26 points on 11-of-20 shooting.
He also had one assist. A Sexton-Darius Garland backcourt is going to chuck wacky shots as open teammates scream for the ball. At least Jordan Clarkson realized halfway through last season that passing is legal!
But Sexton has something you can’t teach — a little Westbrookian bravado that, if channeled the right way, can lift everyone around him.
Love will bring playmaking style and overall respectability unless and until the Cavs trade him. He has a nice pass-and-cut chemistry with Cedi Osman. Larry Nance Jr. is vowing to expand his perimeter game. Perhaps we will see one nostalgic glimpse of the Matthew Dellavedova-Tristan Thompson lob connection. If Kevin Porter Jr. sticks in the rotation, this ranking might look foolish.