Behind the Scenes at Day 4 of the 2013 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas
Welcome back to the NBA offseason oasis we call the Summer League in Las Vegas.
Today started off with a bang. The New York Knicks first took the court, just after word got out that Metta World Peace had agreed to terms with the team, per Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. Before the press in attendance could even digest the news, up popped Metta grinning like a cheshire cat and hugging Clyde Frazier.
There was electricity in the air.
This prompted a media frenzy with New York beat writers (Frank Isola, Robert Silverman and Marc Berman to name a few) and I surrounding World Peace and peppering him with questions. He was asked how it felt to be the prodigal son returning home—he said, "great."
He was also asked about his recent behavior, including tweets suggesting he intended to sign with Yao Ming's Chinese team or an NHL team. To that, World Peace claimed his, "creativity couldn't be held in check." Hard to argue with that.
It was vintage Metta. And so much more.
Metta World Peace
No matter what happens, I'm sure World Peace's time in New York is going to be interesting to watch.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Another Knick that wasn't playing in the game was Tim Hardaway Jr. He had injured his left wrist, but the right-handed Hardaway still signed autographs.
Knicks Entertain Fans
The Knicks that were playing spiced things up for fans by turning their pre-game layup line into a dunk contest.
It's NBA referee and Olympic gold medal winner Leon Wood. There's a whole contingent of officials here sitting back and critiquing the Summer League referees' work and cracking jokes with players and coaches. It's a really interesting dynamic to watch up close.
Cody Zeller continued proving critics wrong by posting his second-straight double double (18 points and 10 rebounds). If he keeps it up, a lot of critics are going to owe the Charlotte Bobcats an apology.
A few feet away Cody's older brother Tyler Zeller (juxtaposed with a blurry Jerry West for good measure), gets ready for the game. It seemed like there was a Zeller in every game. Had the Phoenix Suns not cut Luke Zeller (per ESPN's Chris Broussard) in February, there may well have been.
There's a heavy cross-pollination of media members from around the country at the Summer League. Here you see (from left to right) HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy, CSNNE's Jessica Camerato and The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn chatting.
For the past few days, I've been looking for Bobcats' coach Steve Clifford. I finally broke down and asked someone. It turns out he'd been in the one place I never checked—the bench.
Bismack Biyombo has been a physical force in the Summer League. He won't do much on offense, though he made the only field goal he attempted. The real takeaway is that he grabbed 11 boards and was doing stuff like this. He and Cody Zeller could be a very effective front-court in the future.
Tim Hardaway has a tattoo on his calf of a cartoon bug holding a basketball, framed by the words "Tim Bug"—a reference to the former star's nickname according to The Orlando Sentinel.
An abstract painting of Eduardo Najera was up for auction. Bidding started at $250, unless you wanted to go ahead and pay a flat $2500. Last I checked, it still had no bids.
Martell Webster talks to HoopsWorld's Yannis Koutroupis about the security of having signed a long term contract (four years, $22 million) with the Wizards on July 2.
I almost didn't recognize Craig Sager in his toned-down attire. He's consistently one of the nicest people I come across at events like this. I'm such a Sager fan that my Twitter avitar is a photo of the two of us posing together at the 2011 Slam Dunk Contest.
No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Bennett hasn't been playing in the Summer League due to a shoulder injury. Today he returned to his old stomping grounds (he went to UNLV) to watch his Cleveland Cavaliers take on the New Orleans Pelicans.
Here's Austin Rivers fresh off of making some clutch plays to put away the Cleveland Cavaliers. After a rough rookie year, Austin has been lighting up the Summer League.
Unfortunately, the New Orleans Pelicans recently added guards Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans to a backcourt already featuring Eric Gordon. Barring a trade, Rivers might not get another opportunity to shoot this much for a very long time.
Eric Gordon's looking to put his knee injuries behind him.
Lakers owner Jim Buss takes in the Battle for LA (Lakers vs. Clippers ) court-side. There wasn't much star power on the floor from these two teams, but the crowd was into it all the same. The Lakers triumphed, but I'm sure Jim would have had a good night in Las Vegas either way.
Los Angeles Lakers Brass
Aside from Jim Buss, the rest of the LA Lakers' power circle could be found in the nosebleeds. GM Mitch Kupchak and Coach Mike D'Antoni watched the game while ESPN's Chris Broussard chatted up Kurt Rambis.
Former NBA star Antoine Walker takes time to pose for a photo with a young fan.
Shabazz Muhammed posed for a photo after a two-point loss to the Phoenix Suns. The enigmatic scorer fell to the 14th spot in June's draft and is thus far averaging only 7.5 points a game against Summer League competition.
When I approached him for a photo, he said, "absolutely!" and was super nice. You would have never guessed that he'd shot 1-for-5 from the free-throw line minutes earlier. I'm rooting for him to turn it around.
Jeff Teague was a restricted free agent heading into the offseason. He expressed a desire to leave the organization and eventually signed a four-year, $32 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks according to the Journal Sentinel's Charles F. Gardner.
Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry matched the offer, however (per ESPN Staff).
Lost in the exodus of the Denver Nuggets' front office and coaching staff is the revelation that French forward Evan Fournier is pretty good. He had some lights-out shooting performances to finish out his rookie season. It will be interesting to see how new coach Brian Shaw uses the former first-round pick.
First-time father Stephen Curry watches the Golden State Warriors' Summer League team with his daughter.
There was a large contingent of Sacramento Kings fans, most of whom were wearing customized jerseys. You have to think the fan base has been reinvigorated after fighting so hard to keep its team in Sacramento.
Like the Kings, I'm not going anywhere either. I'll be back here all day at Thomas and Mack, trolling for photos. Be sure to check out my Summer League Day 5 recap tomorrow.