Kenny Atkinson explains his vision to patiently bring the Nets back to prominence

Brooklyn’s head coach answered SB Nation’s questions at Vegas Summer League about his relationship with Sean Marks, Brook Lopez, and D’Angelo Russell.

The way we play offense, it’s very conducive to both of them getting enough touches. You look at C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard and I don’t want to compare the players but they end up both playing a ton of point guard. They just stagger the minutes. So believe me, there’s gonna be enough minutes, enough touches for both of those guys.

I look at it for myself as like, we just got another really good player. Jeremy’s really good, he’s really good. Now it’s up to our coaching staff to figure out how we can use them best.

I think we had a film session the other day, and one of the things I showed them was us turning down open shots. I think I’m an expand-your-game type of coach. I see the good in all players. … It’s just a mindset, a growth mindset for players. I think they can do a lot more.

Now once the season starts, when the competition starts, we’ve got to figure out who does what best. But I think right now, we’re in a growth mindset. So I think we can take a little risk in terms of letting the ball fly a little and giving them freedom to play.

This coming season, the NBA will employ 60 more players than ever before. Don’t take my word for it: You’ll likely hear this fun fact oversaturate NBA television broadcasts almost as frequently as you’re reminded that the NBA replay center is based in Secaucus, N.J.

In the new collective bargaining agreement, the league has introduced two new roster slots where teams can sign players to a two-way contract, which allows them to spend a finite amount of time with their respective NBA team and the rest of their season with a G-League affiliate.

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The Suns are a blank canvas. Here’s their plan to paint a masterpiece

Like other young teams, Phoenix values its own brand of character. Team personnel call it the Suns fit, Watson says good guys who play with a chip on their shoulder, even if it means picking up the occasional technical foul.

Phoenix won’t be a playoff team for some time. But the Suns feel like they have the three pillars in place as the foundation to a contender down the road.

Booker has already emerged as a future star in this league. They hope Chriss and Bender keep developing the chemistry needed to form one of the more unique 4-5 tandems the NBA can offer. They’re encouraged that Jackson has shown flashes of dominance on both ends of the floor in Summer League.

But the other reason agents are wary of two-way contracts is that it restricts the player’s freedom of movement. Players who once could be called up by 30 different NBA teams now are linked exclusively with just one and on a limited basis, at that.

Sure, there are technically 60 more players in the NBA. But it will only be at a specific team’s discretion, with no lateral movement until the contract is up. Before, the G-League’s most convincing selling point was how easily any player could be called up for a 10-day tryout. That goes away for players who sign two-way contracts.

For some prospects, a two-way deal will make sense. Players looking for more money but who can’t go overseas have a more lucrative G-League option. Prospects who believe an organizational investment in them as players is more beneficial to their development than floating around unattached will likely love the new structure.

The two-way contract is an attempt to keep the G-League moving toward a true minor league system, which is important to the NBA, and deservedly so.

But the new system isn’t a universally beneficial one, even if it improves the G-League in certain places.

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3 winners and 2 losers from a surprising week in the WNBA

The best team in the WNBA had their worst week yet, while the worst team had their best. That’s where we’re at in this year’s WNBA season, which only has a few weeks left to play.

Here are the winners and losers from the WNBA this past week, featuring good times in San Antonio, a bad few days in Minnesota, and an excellent day for dancing.

The Stars were a dreadful 3-21 on the final day of July, drifting aimlessly through a lost season with little to show for it, not even from their thrilling rookie Kelsey Plum who barely played. That’s how you lose a locker room and why fans stop showing up. You can be bad, but you have to give them something.

The Wizards and the Celtics playing at noon should have been a given, so I didn’t even try to get around that. But we could have started to shake things up in the afternoon with a Kyrie vs. LeBron matchup. We needed a quick break from Cavs-Warriors so this will suffice.

Then, we would have seen a solid Texas matchup between the Spurs and Rockets, which would have taken place while you absolutely have to pay attention to your families. The night could have started with Russell Westbrook taking his new best friend Paul George right into the Bay Area to see how they stack up against the Warriors. The score of this game doesn’t matter. It’s the drama that we need.

Then, the night would have finished with a fun game between the youngest stars in the game.

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Lonzo Ball wears Kobes in Summer League game, drops 36 points and 11 assists

Lonzo Ball had far and away his best game of Summer League Wednesday night, putting up a stat line of 36 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds, and five steals in a Lakers win against the Sixers.

Aside from the shoes, Ball really did play a brilliant game. He scored all of his 36 points in the final three quarters. He started the game dishing out assists to all of his teammates, finishing with six assists after the first quarter.

Ball had a three-point play that put the Lakers up one with 5.9 seconds left. The Sixers would score again, giving the Lakers one last chance to put the game away. Ivica Zubac was fouled on the inbounds pass and hit both free throws to win the game.

Rose feels like empty calories at this point. With the right coach and teammates, he could turn into a top-drawer back-up point guard. You just wonder if he’s ready to follow that path or if he still believes he can still be an all-star (which he cannot). Seeing what market develops for him this summer should be fascinating.

Collison has actually been solid for the Kings over the last couple of years, and he’s quite a shooter. There’s a strong possibility Sacramento will re-sign him to help bring De’Aaron Fox along, but he could end up as a back-up somewhere for $10-12 million per season.

Shan Livingston and the Warriors agreed to a 3-year, $24 million deal that begins to keep the Warriors bench in place. Livingston doesn’t put up numbers, shoot threes, or set up his teammates too much. But he’s a fierce defender, a high-character teammate, and the post-up god of point guards. Livingston probably could have taken a bigger payday elsewhere but winning with the Warriors was more important.

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Paul George to the Cavs trade was closer than we thought

The Cavaliers may have been closer to a Paul George trade than we thought. And thanks to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst, we now know exactly what offer was on the table.

The Cavaliers were just moments away from finalizing a three-team deal that would have sent George to Cleveland, Kevin Love to Denver and Gary Harris and other pieces to Indiana, according to ESPN.

Plans were put in place for a call to be arranged between George and Gilbert, an important step before the trade would become final, sources said. The front office began making other plans to complement George as free agency was about to begin.

But then Pritchard, who had been on the conference call when the deal was tentatively agreed to, sent the message that his team was backing out, sources said. There was no deal.

When Fox heard the news, he tweeted a picture of an emoji character with his hands over his face. He was probably disappointed that he and Ball wouldn’t get the chance to go head-to-head on Monday. Fox later deleted the tweet, though.

Ball’s UCLA Bruins and Fox’s Kentucky Wildcats played against each other twice last year. The Bruins won the first meeting, 97-92, in December. Ball racked up 14 points, seven assists, and six boards, but Fox scored 20 points and dished out nine assists. Ball and Fox met again during the NCAA tournament. Kentucky won, 86-75, eliminating UCLA from the tournament. Fox torched Ball, scoring a game-high 39 points to lead Kentucky to victory. Fox said he scored all those points in the Sweet 16 to shut LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s dad, up.

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LeBron James thinks Stephen Curry’s deal should really be worth $400 million

NBA free agency started on July 1 and Stephen Curry was one of the first to take home a big payday. Actually, it was a supermax pay day, earning him $201 million over 5 years with the Golden State Warriors, and making him the highest paid player in NBA history. Curry will average around $40 million per season with the Warriors, an amount he has certainly earned.

Houston isn’t allowed to offer Nene a four-year deal because of the newly implemented Over 38 rule. The fourth year of the deal would extend past Nene’s 38th birthday, which isn’t allowed under the new CBA a nuance NBPA president Chris Paul fought for, only to opt-into his contract with the Clippers and accept a trade to the Rockets.

Instead, the Rockets can only offer Nene a three-year deal worth $10.9 million, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The $4 million drop in salary disappointed Nene, according to The Undefeated’s Marc Spears, and the veteran big man is back at square one in free agency.

The 36-year-old power forward earned his first NBA championship with the Warriors last season, playing spot minutes for a Golden State team touting four All-Stars including two-time MVP Stephen Curry and four-time scoring champion Kevin Durant. The Warriors became the most dominant team in postseason history, sweeping through the Western Conference playoffs before handily defeating Cleveland in the Finals in five games.

Now, West makes his return for a chance to go back-to-back, putting the cap on an incredible basketball career that has checked off most boxes a 15-year player could ask for.

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