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NBA Summer Vacation Watch: A New Summer Home and Bringing the Heat(stroke)

Pascal Siakam is having himself a summer. (Instagram)

Hello, sun seekers!

For those just joining let me give you the sand-studded, tan-lined history. NBA Summer Vacation Watch (NBA SVW) started two summers ago as a means of honouring the most important time of the year in professional basketball: summer vacation.

It’s a fleeting time, two solid months of the offseason when players can get away with family, friends, occasionally solo, to taste the fruits of their labour and also beach drinks. And because the offseason is so short it can feel ephemeral. A heat-hazed stretch where if a basketball player jumps off a slow-moving yacht, or goes to a rave on the Greek island of Mykonos alone (hello, James Harden) and no one is there to rate it, did it really happen? NBA SVW makes that its solemn summer purpose and promise: So long as NBA players are on vacation, I will be here to chronicle and arbitrarily rate them.

For those with a deep base tan’s worth of history with The Watch—welcome back! Yahoo Sports Canada has made a cabana for this column to call home for the rest of the summer, which, not to be dramatic, is already about halfway done. That’s why there is no time like the present to slap on some waterproof sunscreen and dive back in.

Maurice Harkless

A lil late from IVT (initial vacation time) but new to you and me! Harkless hit up Barcelona, posing in front of the Arco de Triunfo, then took a relatively tiny BMX up into the hills of, I’m going to guess, still Barcelona. If only based on the quality of light, the outfit, and the timestamp, and because this is my job. A few days later, we got some more Mo Mail, our guy smiling real sincerely on the banks of the Seine. And really, can you try to conjure a more powerful imagery for the joy of travel than a glowing Eiffel Tower popping out of Maurice Harkless’s head? Please, do not try.

Rating: The secret thrill of pronouncing Barcelona in Castilian Spanish for the first time, doing a double cheek kiss goodbye to the hard C before getting on a moped and speeding toward the sea.

Kevin Durant

Look, usually fitness in or around a pool is something scorned in this column because pools in summer are meant for floating, flopping, bobbing and maybe the occasional lobbing of a ball that flies out of the pool and is soon forgotten about in favour of getting back to bobbing. But this is probably what we’re going to get from Durant this summer in terms of aquatic activity and by god we’re going to take it.

Rating: Here for Durant’s road to recovery as much as I am here for pretending that other guy is a splash instructor there to make sure nobody gets too tired while they playfully cool off.

Hassan Whiteside

Hassan stuck around in Vegas for quite some time post-Summer League and, as is natural law in Vegas, things got weird. Here he is playing chess with a wax and/or animatronic replica of Steve Aoki who seems to not only be getting out-played, but losing his dignity and pride in the process, asking Hassan, “Why? How could you?” wearing only faded brown gym shorts.

Rating: What happens in Vegas might just be a brand new Terminator model of Steve Aoki.

D’Angelo Russell

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Some art can stand alone, literal centuries, without needing to explain itself. Some art doesn’t need its process outlined to all the uncultured plebs out there to make it a captivating, emotional, work of genius. This is not that.

This is what Devin Booker and D’Angelo Russell made at one of those DIY paint cafes that bachelorette parties, or like, a group of aunts out on the town, go to. They are pretty proud of them though, and to be honest unbridled and mostly misplaced confidence is the secret key to becoming a successful artist.

Rating: Who copied who, because both of them did not think of the Louboutin detail in a flashing moment of artistic inspiration.

Blake Griffin

Via Instagram

Speaking of visual comedy, Blake Griffin went on Jimmy Fallon this week and got some practice in prior to his appearance at an NYC comedy club. He’s also going to be doing some shows at Just For Laughs in Montreal before the fest is finished.

Is it Blake reclined on a beach somewhere, finally taking a vacation after two long seasons in Detroit? Not quite. But it makes him pretty happy, and the cruise ship entertainment circuit makes an awful lot of stops in tropical destinations.

Rating: Happy to have Griffin test out his writing chops here, rating vacations is a task I take seriously but even vacation watchers can use a vacation.

Javale McGee

Via Instagram
Via Instagram

I am getting anxious for JaVale to take a proper summer vacation, can you tell? But to be fair, JaVale can make most anything seem like vacation, like sitting in a jungle gym waiting for his daughter or sending gentle reminders of good summer swimming protocol.

Rating: If all else fails and he doesn’t get away this offseason, that whole Lakers team is like one giant summer vacation of which there will be no escape from, and I cannot wait.

Jerami Grant

Here’s Jerami and the boys grabbing a lukewarm coconut in some lukewarm waters, one day before he was traded a mere nine hours north to the Nuggets, showing us that not all upsets need to be cause for alarm and instead, why not wade into the temperate waters of friendship and matching name necklaces.

Rating: Do they have coconuts and its popular brand of products in Denver?

Rudy Gobert

Via Instagram
Via Instagram

Rudy Gobert headed home to France for a summer wedding at, I’m gonna say, the Palace of Versailles. En route he snuck around some bushes at the base of the Eiffel Tower to take classic French, “What this old thing?” style photos.

If I were Rudy and had spent the last six years in Utah, I’d be chain smoking Gauloises, chugging macarons, and telling people I invented braille and the oboe in no uncertain french terms (but with a trustworthy translator), so thank god Rudy is more galant than I.

Rating: Destination Lyon, Rudy Rudy Rudy Rudy’s solo

J.R. Smith

Via Instagram


Putting this here as a placeholder for whenever you need it, whether sitting by a pool or just tarps off on the porch trying to carve out a little JR&R.

Rating: JR&R the new title for NBA Summer Vacation Watch spinoff.

Kelly Oubre Jr.

May we all fully inhabit the headspace of Oubre Jr. getting a head and neck massage on the beach, blissed out, wobbly peace sign up, encouraging us to cheer someone up by finessing our muscles into gelatinous oblivion.

Rating: 6 out of 5 toes, of which Kelly Oubre Jr. has!

Pau Gasol

Pau took a trip to the Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, tucked into the Montserrat mountain range in Spain (which is a bit too casual of a Is-this-real-life? kind of place) to pay a little summer ‘sup’ to the Virgin of Montserrat, a statue that legend has was found in the region in 880 AD, just kicking around.

When Pau retires, whenever the hell he wants to, the Spanish tourism board should finance a show of him accidentally ending up exploring the country’s natural wonders when he was really trying to step out to pick up a flan, which is how I imagine this happened.

Rating: The show can be called Pau’s Wows because that’s what we’ll all be mouthing to ourselves like slack jawed morons as he shrugs, smiling, looking like a better tailored Indiana Jones.

Jonas Valanciunas

Via Instagram
Via Instagram

Look, you knew we couldn’t get through this week of vacations without the app that, in my opinion, was less scary on account of hanging your data over to the Russians than it was in reminding you of your own fleeting mortality and skin elasticity. A lot of people really loved this app, but do you know who loved it the most? NBA players.

Maybe when you are in peak physical form you don’t feel as badly about aging? Anyway, only one guy was brave enough to bring the existential app on vacation and that was Jonas Valanciunas. Jonas hit up Northern Italy’s Lake Como, at first with an extremely demure “Good morning” and a nice tiered looking meal to go with his coffee. Things got a little wilder at night and that’s when the app came out. What’s even better is he used a selfie stick.

Rating: Could make a “This is what being traded away from the Raptors will do to you” joke, but I’m not a felon.

CJ McCollum

Via Instagram
Via Instagram
Via Instagram

Admittedly, it was better to watch the video version of this and CJ McCollum going around and around and around and around, backwards, on a mobility scooter packed to the gills with ice and chips and his embarrassed reaction when he almost took out a woman, and hopefully now that this column lives on Yahoo Sports Canada I can leverage their technical savvy for future video embeds, but while you close your eyes and picture it also picture the pool party CJ was likely on his way to.

Rating: The best summer prank is a safe one, on a vehicle rated to go no more than 8-10kph, while wearing pool slides.

Bogdan Bogdanovic

And we never saw him again.

Rating: Jk, more like Pristinedan Turquoisewatersdanovic (i.e. opposite of bog)

Yogi Ferrell

There is an excellent amount of suspense in this video that makes Yogi, somehow, more relatable and quintessentially summarizes the initial trepidation of jumping right into summer, but the relief that follows when you do.

Rating: Player-led summer basketball camps are great, but can we get Yogi enrolled into a cannonball camp? Need to see you hold that form all the way to the water, buddy!

Steven Adams

Via Instagram

Be the equal parts gently encouraging and fully stoked thumbs up Steven Adams is giving to a newly born, still quite literally glistening in amniotic fluid calf you want to see in the world.

Rating: Call the midwife, she’s fired because Steven Adams took her job.

Damontas Sabonis

Look who is taking ZERO siestas during his summer back home (don’t worry, I’m sure he’s taking them whenever he’s tired)! Sabonis is cruising around Malaga barefoot, ducking into wine cellars with the crew, shopping, ending (starting?) his days on the beach, reclined and surrounded by his friends, gentle dogs, wind surfers, the sea, and the siren song of ukuleles wafted by the breeze.

Rating: However the vintage of that wine turns out, they’ll always remember the summer they made it—together.

Pascal Siakam

Via Instagram

I know these photos to be from the same spicy trip Pascal took earlier this summer to the Cayman Islands, but, his nostalgia for a good vacation doesn’t go unshared. Plus, the image of Siakam looking extremely happy finding a starfish gently floating in the waters ostensibly named for them feels too blessed not to share.

Rating: Here’s hoping Pascal implements some starfish style, echinoderm defence, into his game (less “limbs that grow back”, more “using length to stretch everywhere”).

Jeremy Lamb

Here’s a great message not just for the warmer months, but all year round. Life’s about balance and whenever you feel burnt out, overworked, drained, think of Jeremy Lamb with some rollerblade instructor shades on, flexing toward the sun in a pool and take some time out to recharge.

Rating: Sizzling Lamb is always in season.

Jahlil Okafor

This is really nice. Jahlil Okarfor at his dad’s Cancun destination wedding, wishing the new couple all the best.

Rating: May this union yield both a happy marriage and more photos of Okafor on a beach.

Malik Monk

Monk stares wistfully out at some clouds on the tropical horizon in Montego Bay, contemplating the season to come in a hat that says, “Full sun coverage” and also “Bought this at the airport as a joke but I’ve fully committed”. My one regret of summer will be not getting to see this outfit from the front, but at the same time what a gift to be able to imagine it forever.

Rating: Malik Monk might do for resort wear what summer did for hot dogs.

NBA SVW Bonus Section: Rompin’ Retirees

Dwyane Wade

Via Instagram
Via Instagram

Wade has been cruising around the Amalfi Coast for about a week now, mostly just for the express purpose of taking selfies with his favourite stunning stretches of the Tyrrhenian Sea behind him, or spontaneously dance in its direction with Gabrielle Union.

Past readers of this column will know Wade and Union are no strangers to Italy’s charms come summer, but this is his first offseason with no on coming up which, not to get anyone’s hopes up, means this summer could theoretically last forever.

Rating: What does the man who has everything put in his cross-body fanny pack to wear on a yacht? Capri Suns to sip under the Capri sun? Dan Brown, we need you.

Channing Frye

Via Instagram

Frye is still in France and still trolling his former colleagues summer vacations, but now that Kevin Love has completed his Hot Girl Summer circuit, he’s added Dwyane Wade into the mix.

Do you think Frye would be up for a guest commentary spot here at NBA: SVW, since he’s basically doing it anyway, but with the force of a thousand dad-joke suns?

Rating: New rating system where if you go away and Channing Frye doesn’t roast you, can you even call it a vacation worth watching?

Chris Bosh

Via Instagram

Bosh showed up at the British Grand Prix and they found a tiny car for him to try and fit into to distract him long enough from entering the race.

Rating: Fast, Furious, Friendly, Fun!

Paul Pierce

Via Instagram

I don’t care that you don’t care about Paul Pierce. This section is like the necessary sacrifices early civilizations used to offer up to their gods so they would quit messing with them for a while. So long as Pierce is at SeaWorld, he can’t disrupt the summer vacations of the rest of the league.

Rating: Over–under on how Pierce will use a killer whale analogy in his commentary next season, and how soon.

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