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Longtime readers of mine (back to my RealGM days) will know that each year that I attended NBA Summer League, I came home with an overflowing notebook of items from talking to people around the NBA. These can be notes about players, teams, the league as whole or really anything related to the NBA.

Summer League is a very relaxed environment. The draft is done, free agency is largely done (especially this year!) and NBA folks are chatty. It’s also probably the most optimistic time of the NBA calendar. Everyone feels great about the work they did in the offseason and what it means for their club going forward. Admittedly paraphrasing, it’s very common to hear things like:

  • “We had him at the top of board.” (Note: This is said almost no matter what pick the team had.)

  • “The draft fell off right after pick X.” (Note: This is at whatever pick the team had, traded up to, or the pick after a pick they traded out of.)

  • “We were lucky he wanted to sign with us.” (Note: Said about almost every free agent signee.)

  • “We feel good about what we did, given our limited resources this summer.” (Note: Said by teams with cap space, teams without cap space, teams that only had veteran minimum deals to offer and teams that had multiple draft picks.)

With that in mind, the vast majority of the quotes about players and teams will be positive ones. But that’s ok! Who can’t use a little more positivity in their life?

A few more notes:

  • All quotes are anonymous. Each one came from NBA team personnel (generally a front office executive, coach or assistant coach). In exchange for anonymity, you often get candidness.

  • Anything that is an opinion from myself will be noted as such with “Opinion: …”.

  • In the vast majority of cases, these notes and thoughts were collected through Tuesday, July 11. A handful of times, folks followed up after the fact with further thoughts, but most were collected while I was on the ground in Las Vegas.

You can read Part 1, which were general NBA comments here.

Eastern Conference

Atlanta Hawks

  • “We’re incredibly excited Dejounte Murray signed his extension. Was the fit perfect last season with Trae Young? No. But you saw what it could be by the end of the year. Those guys will make it work, because they are both too good to not make it work.”

  • “It does sting to trade John Collins. He was a big part of some good teams for us. But our cap sheet made it necessary. We were carrying too much long-term salary. Everyone is going to have to make difficult decisions like this in the new CBA world.”

  • “A big year is coming for Jalen Johnson. The opportunity is there. He just needs to take it.”

  • “Kobe (Bufkin) needs to settle down a little. It’ll come for him. We’re deep, but not in ballhandlers. Kobe could find a rotation role this year.”

  • Opinion: Keep an eye on two-way player Seth Lundy. He has a nice shot and good size for a wing. Atlanta has a lot of guys in front of him, but he can play.

Boston Celtics

  • “We’re going to miss Marcus (Smart). We’re going to miss Grant (Williams). But we had to become a different kind of team. Getting KP (Kristaps Porzingis) is huge for us. Literally and figuratively. He’s going to make a massive difference for our offense. And he’s come a long way with his defense too.”

  • “Our depth took a hit for sure. We’re relying on some guys who have had injuries. But they are also terrific players, and we believe we can keep them healthy.”

  • “Jordan (Walsh) was very high on our board. We think he can play either forward spot and probably switch and cover most guards too. He needs to shoot the ball with confidence and consistency to find a spot, and we think he will.”

  • “Wanted to see J.D. (Davison) really come out here and dominate guys. He just needs more time in Maine to really develop. Shot has to improve to make it in the league.”

  • Opinion: Jay Scrubb is an NBA equivalent of an MLB 4A guy: Too good for the minors, but not quite good enough for the majors. He can really, really score. There’s an NBA spot for him, if he can defend just a little bit better.

Brooklyn Nets

  • “Getting Cam Johnson signed was big for us. He’s our guy with Mikal (Bridges) that is going to lead us forward. I don’t think anyone has seen the best of Cam yet.”

  • “Having back-to-back picks was a different experience. We felt like we had to add some size this summer, and Noah (Clowney) is that guy. We think he’ll eventually be a stretch big. With our second pick, we wanted to go upside. Dariq (Whitehead) was perfect for that. He was a top recruit for a reason. Just had a messy season. We’re really high on his potential.”

  • “Signing Lonnie Walker and Dennis Smith gives us that backcourt depth we needed. Lonnie can really score. Dennis is tough. He’s probably the best defensive guard we have on the team. (Note: It was clarified that Mikal Bridges is seen by the team as a wing.) So, we improved in two ways with those signings for our backcourt.”

  • “Things aren’t as certain as they were with KD (Kevin Durant), Kyrie (Irving) and James (Harden), but we’re excited about our future. We have a lot of flexibility moving forward and we’ve got our building blocks in place.”

  • “Ben (Simmons) is working. We’re excited about what he could bring to our team with his unique skillset.”

Charlotte Hornets

  • “Summer League was a little messy for (Brandon Miller) at times, but that’s ok. This was all about him getting his feet wet and working. We couldn’t be happier with Brandon’s work. He’s a perfect fit with our roster and what we want to be as a team.”

  • “Getting LaMelo (Ball) signed to that extension was crucial. He’s our leader and our All-Star. And he’s going to be in Charlotte for a long time.

  • “Nick (Smith Jr.) is tough. Tougher than I even thought before he got to us. He had such a messy season on that weird Arkansas team and with his injuries, that people forgot he was in the mix to be a top pick. We feel like we got a steal and that he’ll eventually be a starter in this league.”

  • “Our cap sheet cleans up a lot after this season. We can start building around our young core with a lot of pathways forward.”

Chicago Bulls

  • “Working around Lonzo Ball’s injury makes everything a little harder. We were a good team before he went down. You build a roster designed to play a certain way, around expensive players, and it becomes very hard when you lose one of those key guys. But we’re figuring it out.”

  • “Adding Jevon Carter and re-signing Coby White were big moves for us. Jevon will bring some of the defense we lost at the lead guard spot with Lonzo (Ball) out. And he can shoot too. Coby has come a long way. We think he could win Sixth Man of the Year. He’s been that good as a bench scorer.”

  • “We’re aware of the criticism about running it back. But we have good players. Are we supposed to throw in the towel? We’ll be a playoff team, barring another major injury.”

  • “Julian Phillips can do a lot of different things. We’re excited about what he brings to our roster.”

  • “It’s been disappointing to see Dalen (Terry) really struggle to shoot the ball. He can do just about everything else. But if he can’t figure out the shot, it’ll be hard to get regular rotation minutes. We have a very competitive wing and guard group.”

  • “We’re still very high on Ayo (Dosunmu). This is how restricted free agency can go sometimes. Don’t read anything into our opinion of him as a player just because he isn’t signed.”

  • Opinion: Javon Freeman-Liberty is really close to cracking an NBA roster. He’s tough, he can score and shoot and he’s improved his playmaking. Chicago’s guard depth, especially if Dosunmu re-signs, is going to make it hard for him to get through with the Bulls, however.

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • “We were a good team last year and our guys got a taste of the playoffs. We know it’s not enough to just have another good regular season. We think we addressed our weaknesses, without sacrificing any of our strengths.”

  • “Max (Strus) and Georges (Niang) are going to give us two snipers from the arc. And they’ve both played a lot of high-level playoff games. We didn’t want to add anyone who hasn’t been successful in that environment before. Both Max and Georges have.”

  • “Our Summer League group is as good as anyone’s. Sam Merrill is an NBA shooter. Emoni Bates was one of the steals of the draft. Isaiah Mobley has improved from a year ago. Craig Porter does everything. And Sharife Cooper can play at this level too. We’re also pleased with the way Luke Travers is developing. He’ll be over in the NBA eventually.”

Detroit Pistons

  • “It could have been tough for Ausar (Thompson) to fit in, because we brought real NBA guys to Vegas, but he’s already a team leader. Even in a group where other guys are talkative, you can see him stepping up and taking control. Really confident for a young guy.”

  • “Locking up Stew (Isaiah Stewart) to an extension was big for us. We love our big group. They’re going to get better by battling each other every day.”

  • “We didn’t just ‘eat’ deals for Joe Harris and Monte Morris, ok? Those guys can actually play. We’re serious about being a better team this year. We added shooting, playmaking and leadership with those two guys. They’re going to help us a lot.”

  • “Cade (Cunningham) looks good. He’s ready to go. I bet he would have loved to play out here, but we’re looking forward to seeing him with everyone else in a couple of months.”

  • “Jaden (Ivey), James (Wiseman) and Jalen (Duren) all did exactly what we wanted to see our here: They’ve looked a step or two ahead of the rest of their competition here. That’s what the expectation was, and they all delivered.”

Indiana Pacers

  • “Having Tyrese (Haliburton) locked up for years to come is a sign that we believe in him and he believes in us. He’s been great since we got him, and we have no reason to believe that will change. He’s an All-Star now and will only continue to get better.”

  • “Getting Obi Toppin was a no-brainer for us. He gives us a dimension at the forward spot that we didn’t have. We’re looking forward to seeing him on the floor with the other guys.”

  • “We haven’t made very many shots out here, but we’re asking guys to do different stuff. This is where you can play around and try things. But our guys will be good. We’re not worried about it.”

  • Opinion: Rick Carlisle has one of those “good” problems with how many guys he has. The Pacers guard and wing group has a lot of players who can play and need minutes. That’s going to take a little while to sort itself out.

Miami Heat

  • “We lost some talent, but we have faith in our ability to develop the next guys. The thing with us is that if you come to our organization and you put the work in, we’ll do everything we can to get you to the best level you can be at. That’s from the NBA through the G League and here at Summer League. It’s all about the work.”

  • “We’re thrilled to have Jaime Jaquez. He fits everything we want in a player. Versatile, hardworking, communicative and tough. That’s our kind of guy.”

  • Opinion 1: The Heat are clearly in a bit of a limbo, as they attempt to trade for Damian Lillard. It was hard to get many definitive thoughts on the roster, because it’s clear they hope the roster isn’t complete yet.

  • Opinion 2: Orlando Robinson is ready for a real NBA role. He’ll pass Thomas Bryant (who can also play) in the rotation for minutes behind Bam Adebayo.

Milwaukee Bucks

  • “We feel like injuries cheated us the last two playoffs. That’s why we brought our guys back. This is still a championship team. We want the chance to show it again with this group.”

  • “It’s hard to be a rookie on a title contender, but MarJon Beauchamp made the best of it. He was a sponge and soaked up knowledge from all of our guys. You can see here in Las Vegas that he’s at a different level now. We’re excited for a big year from him.”

  • (After being told A.J. Green is underrated): “We think so too! (laughs) We’re happy to have A.J. He can really shoot the ball. We think our depth in shooters is unmatched in the league, and that’s important to have around our key rotation guys.”

  • “Both Andre (Jackson Jr.) and Chris (Livingston) are going to be good players in the league. They’re good examples of why this new rule for signing second rounders is so good. They need time, and now we’re invested in each other for years. Our rotation is hard one to break into, but they have time. It doesn’t have to happen today.”

New York Knicks

  • “Landing Donte (DiVincenzo) adds to our depth on the perimeter. We have a lot of different options 1 through 3 now. It’s our deepest spot on the team.”

  • “It was time to trade Obi (Toppin). He needs to play more and we’re committed to Julius Randle. It does leave us with a bit of a hole at the 4, but that’s something we can figure out going into the season.”

  • “We’re excited about Jaylen Martin’s potential. He’s got a lot of work to do, and he’ll spend a good amount of time in the G League. But all of the potential is there for him to eventually become a rotation player. He’s one of the youngest guys from this draft class, so there’s a long runway.”

  • Opinion: The Knicks are loaded with guards and wings. They also have three good center options. Based on observations and conversations, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see New York move some of that depth to find an experienced backup big that can swing between the 4 and the 5.

Orlando Magic

  • “Anthony Black is ready to defend in the NBA today. He’s projected as an on-ball guy, but early on, he’ll probably be a secondary creator on offense. The question is going to be his shot. If he hits shots, this is a homerun pick, because he can do everything else.”

  • “Jett Howard is doing some of the ‘other’ stuff here in Las Vegas. He’s moving the ball, playing defense, rebounding. That’s good, because his finishing has been a little rough. He’s got a good jumper though. That’s big for his chances of finding playing time.”

  • “Adding Joe Ingles brings a measure of maturity to the locker room. Not that the guys are immature, but Ingles can help through the rough patches. If we had a guy like him last year, we might not get off to such a rough start.”

  • “Still excited about everything Jalen Suggs can be. He’s got all the talent, just has to stay healthy long enough to put it all together for more than a four- or five-game stretch.”

  • “We’ll put our young guys against anyone’s in the league. We feel like this group is ready to start taking steps forward. The talent is there, it’s now about adding the experience.”

Philadelphia 76ers

  • “Everything has been in a bit of a holding pattern because of (James Harden’s) trade request. We can’t sign a bunch of guys, then do a 3-for-1 trade and not have the roster spots. But we added Patrick Beverley and Mo Bamba. We needed more depth at those spots no matter what, and those guys will help us this season, no matter what direction the roster takes.”

  • “Long-term, it’s about Joel (Embiid) and Tyrese (Maxey). Those two are as good of a starting point as anyone has in the entire NBA. Add a ton of cap and roster flexibility, and you’ve got something most teams would kill for.”

  • “Offseason remarks aside, we love Tobias Harris and he knows that. He’s a really good player and a big part of everything we’ve been over the last several years. Nothing has changed about the way we feel about him.”

Toronto Raptors

  • “Signing Dennis Schroder wasn’t quite a ‘must sign’, but it was close. We just don’t have a lot at that position. We’re fortunate that our forwards can all handle the ball and do a lot of playmaking. But we still needed someone who is more of a true point guard. Dennis gives us that guy.”

  • “I understand you think Jalen McDaniels is just adding an extra forward to an already crowded mix. But sometimes the value of the player and the cost are just something you can’t pass up. We’re happy to have him as part of the Raptors.”

  • “Scottie Barnes and Gradey Dick are our future, along with Jakob Poeltl. Not because we are down on anyone else, but those guys are all signed for longer than two seasons. But that’s the kind of stability we want, because the rest of the roster is sort of in transition. That trio is a group we can build with.”

  • “There’s a lot of trade interest in a lot of our players. We always say that means we have good players. As of now, there’s nothing in the works to move anyone, but we are in a bit of a transition period and the roster is still taking shape.”

Washington Wizards

  • “Starting over is too harsh of a term. Resetting? That feels more correct for where we’re at. The intention was never to tear things all the way down. But we like what we’ve got and the path we’re on now.”

  • “Kyle Kuzma has been a big part of things for a couple of years now. We’ve seen how he’s grown and rounded out his game. Getting him to return on the deal we did is a major win for him and the franchise as a whole.”

  • “There are opportunities for a lot of players to show what they can do this season. We’re going to play the kids a lot and find out what they can be. No one will be able to say it was a lack of opportunity that kept them from showing what they can do.”

  • “We’re thrilled to have Bilal (Coulibaly). We traded up because our intel was that other teams were attempting to do the same thing, and Indiana had made it clear they were willing to move around the board. We couldn’t risk waiting one more pick, because we knew someone else was going to come up to draft Bilal. But we’re going to ask everyone to be patient. He’s only 18 years old. (Note: Coulibaly turns 19 years old on July 26.) So, this is very much throwing a kid into the fire. But this is a long-term thing for us. He doesn’t need to be great or to play on Day 1. He just needs to work hard and do what’s asked of him by the coaches.”

  • Opinion: It’s officially time to worry about Johnny Davis, if you aren’t there already. Second-year players should look better than the first-year players at Summer League. Unfortunately, Davis hasn’t looked like that guy.