The NBA Development League season is around the one-third mark. It’s already been a whirlwind for Idaho guard Phil Pressey.
Pressey spent the preseason with the Portland Trail Blazers before being waived Oct. 23. Two days later, he was signed by the Utah Jazz, who designated him for a D-League assignment.
Before Idaho’s season started, Pressey was the first NBA call-up of the season, and he ended up playing 14 games with the Philadelphia 76ers.
On Dec. 7, Pressey joined the Stampede, who held his returning player rights.
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It’s enough to make most players dizzy. Not Pressey.
“Every single day is a new journey,” he said. “You’ve got to keep your head straight and take on new tasks, whatever they may be. You can’t worry about what’s going on around you. You’ve just got to go out and attack each day the same.”
That’s easier said than done. After all, Pressey has played in multiple systems already this season, with new teammates and coaches coming at him in waves.
And the changes keep coming: All six Stampede games Pressey has played have also featured Minnesota Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones. But Jones returned to Minnesota last week, so Idaho will face the Oklahoma City Blue at 3 p.m. Sunday at CenturyLink Arena without the talented rookie.
Another night, another lineup change for Pressey. But he’ll approach this week the same way he always does.
“My job is not going to change,” the 5-foot-11 guard said. “My game is to get my teammates involved and be a floor general. So I’m trying to do what I’ve been doing for my whole life, and that’s getting everybody involved. I try to get guys easy shots, and then I look for my scoring after that.”
Don’t expect Idaho coach Dean Cooper to ask anything else of Pressey.
“It’s really counter-productive to try to ask guys to play out of their role,” Cooper said. “He’s a defender, and he can run a team and get the ball moving.”
In his six games with Idaho, Pressey has averaged 28.4 minutes, 8.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists. And he has impressed Cooper with his intelligence, part of which can obviously be credited to hanging around the gym with his father. Paul Pressey played for the Bucks, Spurs and Warriors from 1982-93.
“He’s smart,” Cooper said. “Obviously, his dad played in the league and he grew up around that.”
Prior to his stint in Philadelphia this season, Pressey played two seasons with the Boston Celtics. In all, the University of Missouri product has played in 139 NBA games with 11 starts.
Pressey’s goal is to get back to the NBA, but he knows that his time with the Stampede can be valuable for him.
“This is a chance to play a lot of minutes,” he said.
Pressey, 24, thinks his best basketball is still ahead of him.
“I think I can improve every single day,” he said. “Kobe Bryant’s been working on his game every single year. And if he can keep working on his game, then that shows I’m far from being where I want to be.”
Cooper said that attitude will only help Pressey.
“He’s what? 24? He’s got a big window of opportunity ahead of him,” Cooper said.
The coach pointed to Idaho’s most recent game, a 117-107 win over reigning D-League champion Santa Cruz on Dec. 19, as an example of the positives Pressey can offer a team.
“In Santa Cruz, he had seven assists and no turnovers,” Cooper said. “If he can do that and make a few shots and play defense the way he does … there’s a lot of guys in the NBA who would take that as a coach.”
▪ Sunday: Oklahoma City (2-13) at Idaho (5-12)
▪ When: 3 p.m.
▪ Where: CenturyLink Arena
▪ Radio: 630 AM
▪ Note: The teams play again at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Boise.