San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan took the court for the first time not wearing a Toronto Raptors jersey, and although it looked weird at first DeRozan seemed to fit right in with the team that acquired via trade over this past summer.
DeRozan played 18 minutes and finished with seven points on 3-of-6 shooting.
“Just getting out there, lacing them up in front of the fans for the first time, it was fun,” DeRozan said, according to ESPN’s Michael C. Wright.
“I’m glad I got to get the rust and kinks out and [got to] go out and get that part out of the way. It’s going to come along. I’m not worried at all. I was out there more anxious than anything.”
DeRozan knows that the transition is a process, but believes things will only get better moving forward.
“As the next few days go by, the next few games, it’s only going to get easier and easier,” DeRozan said. “I expect I’ll be rusty. Just go out there and try to feel things out and understand what I can get better at.”
“It’s pretty much a given that team-oriented players, when they get into situation like DeMar’s in now, he’s gonna probably pick and choose a little bit,” Spurs head coach Greg Popovich said. “He’s gonna take his time, get the lay of the land, figure out his teammates, and in that respect I thought he was great. He looked for his stuff, he helped with his teammates. It was a great first outing for him.”
Teammate Rudy Gay understands what DeRozan is going through, joining the Spurs himself last season.
“We had a couple guys who have been there. We have them on the court and you throw DeMar in, and we could pretty much coach him just like I was coached last year,” Gay said. “It’s easier that way to keep a couple veterans out there with DeMar so he can learn where he’ll be most productive. The younger guys? They’re just playing, trying to find their way, and coach is trying to figure out where he can put them in the lineup and how our team can benefit off of each one of them.”
Cavs’ Larry Drew Discusses Brandon Knight’s Play of Late
The Cleveland Cavaliers knew that when they acquired Brandon Knight in a trade deadline deal with the Houston Rockets, that they were acquiring a player that may be a ways away from returning to form.
Knight, who missed the entire 2017-2018 season and appeared in only 14 games this season due to a torn ACL, has been showing signs of a return to form in his short stint with the Cavs, and it has caught the attention of Cavaliers’ head coach Larry Drew.
“I know what he’s gone through over a period with the injury and trying to come back from it,” Drew said of Knight, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
“I know what he’s capable of doing. I know what type of player he is. He’s a fierce competitor. Not only does he do it from an offensive end, but defensively, he’s a tough kid. That addition in our lineup gives us a little versatility as far as we can move people around. … And I know how bad he wants to get back to the Brandon Knight of old. Certainly if he can get back to that, you guys are going to see a terrific player.”
Suns’ James Jones Talks Suns Rebuild, Deandre Ayton
Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones isn’t under an illusions in his approach to the team’s rebuild, which has been taking it’s toll on both fans and players.
Jones says that the team is still a ways away from being a competitive force in the league.
“I mean, we’re a ways away” Jones said, during an appearance on the Doug & Wolf podcast.
“Consistency is a problem for us and you have to expect that “under 21”. But, we’ve made strides when we play hard and we compete. [When] we’re flying around, we’re disruptive, and we’re pretty good. When we don’t, when we slow the game, and you force us to read concepts and make plays and react to the game we struggle mightily.
Our young guys are figuring out you need to bring it or you get embarrassed.”
Jones knows that the road is tough, but points out it’s a road that they have to continue to take.
“Well, we can’t keep waiting and saying it’ll take time. We know it will take time. That’s just the nature of this business. A player has to grow into it.
But, our focus has to remain on forcing our guys to take strides and grow exponentially. We just have to push them.
We have to continue to raise the bar to see if these guys can get there. I can’t give you a definitive timeline but I can tell you that our focus right now going forward, in free agency, and the draft is to add players that will allow us to play, and not rely on the production of young guys.”
Jones also knows about the debate that still goes on regarding their decision to take center Deandre Ayton first overall over Dallas Mavericcks superstar Luca Doncic.
“Of course, of course” Jones said when asked if he would make the same decision if given a chance to do it again.
“We’re not looking at today, we’re looking at what Deandre will become. It’s not what he can become, it’s what he will become, because we’re in there with him every day.
We know that he wants to be great. He’s still figuring out why he’s successful. Things that he does he just does them naturally. But we won’t find a guy with his size, athleticism, touch and feel in this league very often. I think of some of the greats. We talked earlier about Hakeem Olajuwon, who I think is a great comp.”
Raptors’ Fred VanVleet Expected To Miss At Least Three Weeks
Toronto Raptors Fred VanVleet is expected to be sidelined at least three weeks after he suffered a partial ligament injury in his left thumb, according to an official team announcement.
VanVleet will wear a splint on the thumb for around 3 weeks before he will have it removed to be re-evaluated.
The Atlanta Hawks are expected to reach a buyout with point guard Jeremy Lin, who is expected to then sign with Toronto.
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