Ah yes, the nights are getting cooler, the sun is rising a little later, and we are reminded by the proliferation of back-to-school ads, farm fresh corn and low-level existential dread that summer is coming to and end and when it does, what will we have to look forward to anymore? (The NBA season, sure).
But fear not, and for the love of god please don’t put on pants already! Now is not the time to go gently into that admittedly chillier night, but rage, rage against the dwindling UV level. NBA Summer Vacations are still happening and as long as they are, as long as someone who is even a 4th string bench guy is getting his feet wet somewhere vaguely tropical, this column will be there to cover it. End of summer brings some of the sweetest fruit, and end of summer vacations are the same. Sun-ripened and ready, please, let us take a bite.
We begin this week with an ending: Jimmy Butler’s big Eurotrip has come to a close, but most affectingly for him, his time across the pond is over. It’s bittersweet in many ways. Like a seasonal marker — a personified Pumpkin Spice Latte for the league — when guys like Jimmy get back to work, when their vacations end, many players follow suit. Should we be sad that it’s over? A little. But we’ll always have the memories.
Rating: We’ll also always have the High Tea habit Jimmy picked up in London, he’s going to implement that as part of the renowned Miami System in no time.
Russ got back from his speedy jetset to China, South Korea and Japan and took his whole family to Disneyland. Vacation Watch sources (my sun-addled brain) say he spent some time in Frontierland, hoping to become better acclimated with the habits of his new home city before spending the rest of the day on his favourite ride of all — the monorail that gets people around the park.
Rating: Truly though we can all take a lesson from Westbrook when it comes to summer generosity. That doesn’t always mean a trip to Disney, sometimes it can be a garden hose at a very precise moment.
Here’s John Wall enjoying the sweeping vistas of his career from atop a very tall car that someone in the comments already chastised him for getting up on lest he hurt his leg again. Is it possible? Sure. Is it your business what Wall climbs up on to enjoy himself? No.
Rating: Maybe he was just getting ready for the drive-in, maybe his sense of balance has really improved.
The Process (O Processo in Portuguese) spent some time gazing down the Copacabana stretch in Rio, before mysteriously moving to parts less known in Brazil. He could just be on another of the many beaches of the city with some moody weather rolling, but let’s let him have this.
Rating: Weirdly, ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ would not only be a huge flex but completely on brad for Embiid’s song choice for making shots this season.
PG continues to live it up in Greece. First with a fish foot bath in which he expressed concern for the fish, but they’re working fish and happy to do it. Then, with a helicopter ride around Santorini which I’m glad he was not driving because it really seemed as if the whirring blades sang him a soothing lullaby, nearly putting him to sleep. And finally reclining on a boat chugging through the same azure waters he had flown over, where he censored out his foot so now I’m wondering how much those hardworking fish took off?
Rating: Land, sea and air, a vacation trifecta, maybe down one foot but TBD.
Oladipo was at Universal Orlando with a message to his haters, and generally just a great note on preparedness.
Rating: Another early draft of this statement was, “Getting rained on is a Universal experience.”
The summer’s most polarizing friendship (mostly for how they painted butts together) continues, now perched on paddle boards drifting downriver in Aspen, Colorado. There is a real level of commitment to these two. For starters, D’Angelo Russell made the journey solo first by train, then plane, to meet Devin Booker ostensibly waiting for him at this pristine mountain stream. Then they just sort of wobbled around on the water together taking selfies and genuinely having a wonderful time.
Rating: But there could have been a blank canvas set up on the riverbank ready and waiting for them to paint butts on, who knows.
A supplemental photo of Booker pointing his friendSHIP (paddleboard) downriver and letting the current take him where it will.
Rating: A great trust exercise assuming there are no upcoming rapids.
Paddle boards and the rugged beauty of the western states featured largely in this week’s Watch. Here’s Myles Turner with a very advanced technique of how to enjoy yourself on one. Take note, Booker and Russell, of the position and resulting satisfied smirk.
Rating: Not everything's a competition but people on paddle boards really make it seem that way.
KAT is still in Hawaii, still getting someone to take his photo while he takes furtive glances around at the looming paradise, encroaching on all sides.
Rating: Don’t let summer stress you out this much.
Kevin Love has transitioned seamlessly from hot girl to horse girl summer and it is about time the rest of us followed suit.
Rating: ‘Old Town Road,’ as an ever-evolving anthem, is applicable to both.
Even if Hassan Whiteside tilted this photo to take a photo of it, so it looked like him and his friend were dong casual telephone poses on a completely vertical roller coaster drop, it wouldn’t make it less impressive. Take a long hard look at this and really reckon with yourself on whether or not you’ve been “phoning in” this last bit of summer, and stop!!
Rating: This is the official lock screen of the Summer Vacation Watch tip phone.
Enes Kanter was in Hawaii and decidedly doing things it a little bit different than Karl-Anthony Towns. Which is fine, like, there’s really no right or wrong way to do paradise in non biblical times, no one is going to boot you out. Still, Enes causing the waves to part, and then crash, on himself, looks pretty refreshing.
Rating: In the immortal words of Johnny Utah and men of the cloth everywhere, “Vaya con Dios."
Steady Freddy continues to have himself a summer. VanVleet took a classic, very chill tropical vacation where most of the photos were taken reclining in bed with a nice view or presumably on a pool lounger with a nice view and a drink from a coconut vessel.
Rating: Even the Russians could not write a more classic tale than this, but a coconut shell drink would probably have done a world of good for Dostoyevsky.
Speaking of great literary achievements! Here’s JaVale McGee chilling hard with a good book. Sometimes you can take a summer vacation without ever leaving your house.
Rating: Support your local library!
Not sure Bogdan has gotten out of the water since we last caught him on the Watch and you know what? Aside for the state of his skin at this point, I’m not worried.
Rating: He lapped you, he’s lapping you, there, he did it again.
Buddy’s on fruit! And you should be too! Watermelon, peaches, strawberries, technically tomatoes, this is the season for the best of them, and don’t you let anyone tell you that farm fresh corn doesn’t count.
Rating: Support your local farmers!
We got a sneak peak into Gordon’s swamp palace a few weeks back and it appears he’s made some renovations since. A big, inflatable lava slide has been erected on his front/back lawn, swamp adjacent so you can go merrily tumbling into the maw of a crocodile.
Rating: Aaron’s been living in Florida for a while but I think it has finally started to live in him.
Rating: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, indeed.
Unfortunately this picture of what could really have been a parking lot anywhere on planet earth is all we got from Clint Capela’s “trip to Iceland.” Jk, Capela makes it onto my Top 5 Most Earnest Players list of all time, every time.
Rating: Still, would it have killed him to go sit atop a small, shaggy pony for a hot minute?
Aldrige took some classic “view from my hotel room” photos in Shenzhen, China and Tokyo, Japan. Making this vacation, similar to Capela’s before it, asking the dumb question, is it really an NBA Summer Vacation if guys just go somewhere during the offseason and you simply watch for where?
Rating: That’s literally the name of this column.
Lonnie is having a moment and it is truly, paddly, deeply, with water.
Rating: Whose Aquamans is this?
What a perfect vacation to end on, the one that has allowed us to circumnavigate the globe entirely. Josh Hart takes over where Jimmy Butler left off! First up, Camden Market in London, with a quick stop over in Barcelona, Spain. Where will he go next, and what geotag will he use to navigate it?
Rating: Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of NBA Summer Vacation Watch.
Bonus: Let Channing Frye soothe your sun-burned, savage heart
There is something immensely therapeutic about watching Channing Frye, somewhat tensely, or just a bit hunched because it is too small for him, ride around on a riding lawn mower cutting late-summer grass about as tall as he is, for nothing more than the sport of it.
Rating: I would watch grass grow, if only for the pleasure of watching Channing Frye then mow it.
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