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Blazers’ Damian Lillard Talks About Jusuf Nurkic’s Trash-Talking

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Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic was the subject of some recent chatter after he engaged in trash-talking with Philadelphia 76ers floor general Ben Simmons, with some of it clipped on video that circulated social media.

Nurkic’s teammate, Damian Lillard, says that the big man is always talking, as it’s a part of his game.

“He always just talks some s**t,” Lillard said with a grin, according to Michael Lee of The Athletic.

“Every day, it’s like most of his comments is slick comments and half the time, he don’t even mean it to be a slick comment. I think it’s just that foreign misunderstanding sometimes. To where he’s just saying something but he talking s**t. I appreciate him being himself. He’s a really honest, emotions-on-his-sleeve type of person and you need those kind of people around. So, maybe it brings that more out of people, like, it’s OK, to say how you feel. And express how you feel.”

Nurkic appears to give the Blazers some intensity, and an edge, on the floor and if Simmmons’ is any example, it’s an example of how Nurkic can get into the heads of opposing players.

Detroit Pistons

Pistons’ Dwane Casey Planning Flexibility with Blake Griffin, Thon Maker

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Detroit Pistons’ head coach Dwane Casey has a creative approach in mind when he utilizes Blake Griffin and Thon Maker this upcoming season.

While the Pistons don’t have a true center outside of Andre Drummond, Casey sees opportunities to get creative with his lineups, depending on the situation at hand.

“I see it being very situational,” Casey said, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

“The other guy we haven’t mentioned, we have played Blake at the five. Not good numbers off of that, so I don’t anticipate that but there are scenarios in the game, last two minutes of the game, where Blake could play the five. Looking for really a bump out of Thon, playing him at four/five, whatever it is, but a lot of nights if you look at the league, the rosters have gotten smaller and the traditional five has kind of gone the way of the dinosaur. The flexibility we have with Thon, with Markieff having the possibility of playing there, is really important.”

With Drummond focusing on developing his offense this offseason, the Pistons may lack some defense at the rim, and in the paint.

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Eastern Conference

Heat’s Bam Adebayo Discusses Team Picking Up Option

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Bam Adebayo

The Miami Heat recently picked up the fourth-year option on the contract of center Bam Adebayo, who is thrilled to see further commitment from the team.

Adebayo, the Heat’s starter at center, will make $3.5 million this season, and is now guaranteed $5.1 million in the 2020-2021 season.

“It’s definitely a confidence builder,” Adebayo said, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “It’s one of those things that a lot of guys don’t get to see, but I’m glad it happened to me. So we’re going to keep this thing going and see if we can win some more games.”

Adebayo collected 8.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists last season for Miami.

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Eastern Conference

Knicks’ Dennis Smith Jr. Out to Prove Something this Season

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While the New York Knicks made headlines as they whiffed on several big name free agents this summer, one of their promising young players believes that a big year is on the horizon.

Knicks’ guard Dennis Smith Jr., who was acquired from the Dallas Mavericks via trade, is looking to make a splash in his first full season with the Knicks.

“It’s just been relentless work. I feel like I’ve got something to prove,” Smith Jr. said, according to The New York Daily News’ Kristian Wingfield.

“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder still, but I’ve just been working. I try to attack each day and look at it as if I didn’t leave anything on the table. I got the most out of my day. … I’m gonna come in, bring that into training camp and be a leader, lead by example, earn my respect from these guys and then carry that into the season.”

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