We'll begin this column with a look at standout Summer League performances, and take a look at some under-the-radar free agency moves and other news around the Association.
Anfernee Simons: 22.0 points, 4.3 boards, 1.7 dimes, 1.0 steal
The Trail Blazers reportedly felt comfortable trading away Evan Turner and letting Seth Curry walk as a free agent because they’re confident Simons will be able to take on a larger role with the club next season, and he sure has looked like a guy ready to take the next step at Summer League. I don’t think he’ll have much value in standard leagues while Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are healthy, but he’s certainly on the radar in deep leagues.
In case you missed it, Herro has been lighting it up at Summer League. He's shooting 42% but has a silky-smooth jumper, is a quality playmaker and he looks like a guy who’s ready to contribute starting Day 1. It helps that Russell Westbrook isn't Miami-bound, but he'll still be contending with Jimmy Butler and Dion Waiters, so he may not get the touches he needs to make an impact his rookie year.
RJ Barrett: 14.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.8 dimes, 1.0 block
Barrett has had a few nice performances at Summer League, but the fact that he's shooting just 30% from the field is a bit concerning for a player who was supposed to come in with a polished offensive game. That said, it's not entirely uncommon for studs to have just so-so performances in Las Vegas, so I won't be overreacting here, but he's also not exactly coming into an ideal situation with the Knicks this upcoming season. Barrett will be competing for minutes with Kevin Knox and touches with the likes of Dennis Smith Jr. and Julius Randle, so he'll need to fight to make an impact his rookie season. Based on what I've seen so far, Barrett is not a guy I'll be aggressively targeting on draft day.
Jaxson Hayes: 20.5 points, 5.5 boards, 2.0 swats
Hayes will likely begin the year battling Jahlil Okafor for the backup big man minutes behind Derrick Favors, but he’s loaded with potential and could be just a few injuries away from an extremely favorable situation. Alvin Gentry runs a very fantasy-friendly system, and while Hayes tends to struggle on the boards and has a limited offensive arsenal, he shouldn’t have much trouble sending away shots and catching perfect lobs from Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday when given the opportunity. Foul trouble and a lack of rebounding prowess will limit Hayes’ upside, but his shot-blocking ability, favored situation and the injury-prone bigs ahead of him on the depth chart makes him an intriguing late-round target.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker: 24.5 points, 7.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.5 blocks
NAW has been ballin’ at Summer League, although the Pelicans signing J.J. Redick as a free agent pretty much killed his potential this season. Maybe he’ll see a limited role in the rotation, but as long as Redick, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, E’Twaun Moore and Josh Hart are healthy, it’ll be tough for Alexander-Walker to get the sort of run he needs to make an impact in most leagues. Still, he’s caught my attention at Summer League, so he’ll be a guy to think about if the main guys ever go down with an injury or are rested.
Bruno Fernando: 5.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 blocks
Fernando will likely lead Summer League in blocks per game. He’s still a very raw player, but the Hawks traded up to get him and he should see opportunity his rookie year once Alex Len inevitably goes down with an ankle issue. His shot-blocking prowess puts him on the radar in deeper settings.
Tyus Jones Headed to Memphis
The Grizzlies lost Delon Wright during free agency, but they replaced him with Tyus Jones, and this is a great landing spot for Tyus. He was never given many opportunities in Minnesota, as he was trapped behind Ricky Rubio and then Jeff Teague, but he should be looking at a significantly larger role in Memphis. I could see Jones and Ja Morant sharing the backcourt at times, and if Jones can manage to earn around 28 minutes a night, he could certainly hit value due to his steals numbers alone. Per-36-minutes last season, Jones registered averages of 10.8 points, 7.5 dimes, 1.9 steals and just 1.1 turnovers per game. He’s one of my favorite sleepers at the moment.
Rick Carlisle says Delon Wright is a “starting caliber” player
Wright’s sign-and-trade deal to the Mavericks was finalized this past week, and Dallas management has been speaking glowingly of their new addition. Carlisle called him a “starting caliber” player and owner Mark Cuban strongly implied that he’ll open the year as the Mavs’ starting point guard, so he could very well be set up for a career-year in Dallas. When Wright was finally given the opportunity to see consistent minutes (31.1 a night) in Memphis this past season, he managed to produce averages of 12.4 points, 5.6 boards, 5.4 dimes, 1.6 steals and just 1.6 turnovers per game on 43.4% shooting, which was good enough for mid-round value in 9-cat leagues. I’d anticipate his numbers being similar to those as a member of the Mavericks, so he’ll make for a sneaky, late-middle-round target on draft day.
Jabari Parker signs with Atlanta
Parker inked a two-year, $13 million deal with the Hawks that has a Player Option on Year-2 of the contract. This is not an ideal spot for him, as he’ll be relegated to playing limited minutes behind John Collins, and I could see him falling out of the rotation towards the second-half of the season. For what it’s worth, Hawks’ GM Travis Schlenk said he expects Collins to average 35 minutes a night next season, so Parker’s addition to the roster should negatively affect Collins.
Avery Bradley to sign with the Lakers
Bradley is expected to sign a two-year deal with the Lakers once he clears waivers, and he’ll help backup the guard spots in Los Angeles. His contract will have a Player Option on Year-2, but he’s irrelevant in fantasy hoops.
Alec Burks inks a one-year deal with Warriors
He’ll provide the Dubs with some emergency depth, but he won’t have any value while the team is healthy.
Jones will likely be the third-string center in Atlanta, while Spellman will be Draymond Green’s backup in Golden State. Neither guy will have much value in their new locations.
My Word and My…
Some sort of health issue was discovered when Reggie Bullock was undergoing his physical in New York, which has resulted in the Knicks re-working their initial contract offer, as there are concerns as to whether or not Bullock will be able to play the entire 2019-20 season. Because of this, the Knicks now have enough cap space to offer Marcus Morris a $15 million contract, and he’s thinking of backing out his verbal commitment with San Antonio in order to go play in New York next season. That would be a bad look for Morris’ credibility, but it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a player back out of a verbal agreement… there will probably be less emojis involved this time, though.
Michael Porter Jr. (knee) is working without restrictions and should be fine for training camp. He suffered a minor knee tweak during a team scrimmage in Las Vegas that essentially ended his Summer League run before it even began, but the fact that he’s already back to practicing in full suggests this will be a non-issue moving forward.
Wendell Carter Jr. underwent a core muscle surgery on Tuesday and his timetable has been set at 6-8 weeks. He’ll be fine by the time training camp rolls around.