Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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What happened Saturday while you were setting your bracket on fire…

Bulls 98 Sixers 84: Welcome back, Derrick Rose. The Bulls snapped a ten game losing streak behind Rose, who Jrue Holiday couldn’t stop if he was Doctor Octupus.

The good news for the Sixers is Marreese Speights got some burn and showed up with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Speights deserves more time on the floor now that Philadelphia’s out of playoff contention. In January.

Raptors 100 Nets 90: Two bad defenses only combined for 190 points. Which means you had two teams misfiring. But Bosh was his usual brilliant self with 36 and Devin Harris was doing work. 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists for a point guard who may be on the market if the Nets land the #1 overall pick. That’s a bargain.

Courtney Lee can’t seem to stream any consistency together, which is a shame, because he’s got so much potential. Andrea Bargnani is the same, logging 5 points and 3 rebounds. Against literally any other team in the league that results in a loss.

Heat 77 Bobcats 71: The score will tell you something about this eye-gouger. If you liked the mid-90’s, this was the game for you. It was an offensive nightmare. Quentin Richardson led the Heat with 18 points, which he scored entirely in the first half.

The Bobcats shot .292.

Let’s all just pretend this game never happened. Deal?

Grizzlies 123 Warriors 107:
A fun one, as you’d expect with the two teams involved, but too predictable with the complete lack of defense.

O.J. Mayo continues to illustrate within games that he can be a franchise player or a sixth man role player depending on the weather.

The Dubs were on a back to back, and when you have a bad defensive team that’s tired, easy losses pile up. The Grizzlies didn’t do that much right in this game, but avoided doing much wrong.

Celtics 102 Mavericks 93: Like we said, Rajon Rondo was the difference. He killed the Mavs. Both teams had trouble on the pick and pop. Boston showed too hard on J.J. Barea, allowing Nowitzki to kill from mid-range, while the Mavericks didn’t show enough and let Rondo get to the basket whenever he wanted.

Dallas gets tagged for not playing defense, but you always feel like they’ve got another gear behind it. Boston played great defense and the Mavericks still created good looks. Not just made shots, but good looks. This would be a fantastic Finals matchup.

Bucks 102 Nuggets 97: How bout those Bucks?

A back to back, on the road, against a playoff team, after playing the Kings in overtime the night before. And the Bucks lead for virtually the entire game.

The difference maker in this one was Ersan Ilyasova. The versatile big is capable of doing anything on the floor. In one extended fourth quarter sequence, he made a three pointer, made a sweet drive and dish, worked the high pivot, grabbed an offensive rebound, and made a delightful pound cake.

Birdman Anderson continues to be a defensive liability in any situation where he’s not simply jumping and blocking.

Jazz 106 Hornets 86: David West got ejected for a questionable flagrant foul 2 in the first half and that was pretty much that.

I miss Chris Paul, don’t you?

New Bulls advisor Doug Collins: ‘I am woke’

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The Bulls hired Doug Collins as an advisor.

Is Collins, who has coached only one winning season in the last 20 years and often sounds analytically disinclined, too behind the times?

Collins:

I’m old. Let me finish. But I’m not old school. I’ve got a young brain. And I think you get pigeonholed: That guy is old school because he’s old. Now, if being on time and working hard and doing all those things are old school, then yes, I’m old school. But I will match my wits with anybody in terms of young people, in terms of what’s going on now and what’s happening. So, I am woke.

Suddenly, Kyrie Irving‘s statement on ESPN – “Oh, if you’re very much woke, there’s no such thing as distractions” – has a challenger for the most awkward use of “woke” by NBA personnel this week.

Report: Andre Iguodala nearly left Warriors for Rockets

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Remember those mid-June rumors about Andre Iguodala already agreeing on a salary to re-sign with the Warriors?

The tide sure changed in a hurry.

Iguodala put out word that he was open to leaving, pressuring tax-conscious Golden State. He met with the Lakers, Spurs, Kings and Rockets.

Houston particularly intrigued him despite reportedly offering just four years, $32 million. The Rockets could have offered $37,658,880 with the mid-level exception, though they wanted to save a sliver to give Zhou Qi a four-year deal – and that still would’ve fallen short of other offers. They also discussed signing-and-trading for Iguodala, but they pitched him on a defensive unit that included him, Chris Paul, Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza. What else would Houston have intrigued the Warriors with?

And would Iguodala really have left Golden State, an all-time great team that positioned him to win 2015 NBA Finals MVP and a team that played near Silicon Valley?

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

The Warriors had been in the dark for a day and a half and contacted representatives of free-agent small forwards Rudy Gay and Gerald Henderson as a contingency plan. But Myers immediately hopped on a plane from the Bay Area and Kerr was already in Los Angeles, having recently visited with free agent Nick Young. They didn’t know it, but Iguodala’s objective in sitting down with them was to personally say goodbye, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.

Myers and Kerr came prepared to offer him a fully guaranteed, three-year deal worth $45 million and reiterated that their latest offer still wasn’t indicative of what they believed to be his true worth. Their hands were just tied.

There was little hope for a resolution at this point. Iguodala wasn’t budging from his request to make at least $16 million per year. If the Warriors didn’t improve their offer, he was signing with the Rockets, sources said.

After an hour, both sides departed and a breakup appeared likely. Iguodala’s camp proceeded to discuss their options. The Warriors’ top reserve was inching closer to becoming a top reserve for the Rockets. But before Rosenthal was to call Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Antonio and Golden State to notify them of his client’s decision, sources said Iguodala elected to make his final, most defining move yet: calling Golden State one more time.

That of course ended with the Warriors stepping up with a three-year, fully guaranteed $48 million contract, which Iguodala signed.

I recommend reading Haynes’ captivating look into Iguodala’s free agency in full. But keep this in mind: Iguodala won his negotiation with Golden State, and it’s in his best interest to continue a harmonious relationship with the organization. That means, if he were bluffing about leaving in order to secure a bigger offer from the Warriors, he’s incentivized not to show his cards now. He’s better off keeping up the story, making the Warriors believe they didn’t pay more than necessary to keep him.

Enes Kanter counters Kevin Durant on Thunder organization, ‘those cats’

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Kevin Durant – criticizing the Thunder organization in third-person tweets that seemingly were intended to come from an alternate account – wrote, “Kd can’t win a championship with those cats.”

Of course, Oklahoma City center Enes Kanter piped up:

The Durant-Russell Westbrook relationship has obviously gotten the most attention. But Kanter has repeatedly painted himself as a foil to Durant, piggybacking off the Warriors star’s infamy.

I wonder whether Thunder management also views Kanter as family – or whether the team might try to dump his hefty salary and avoid the luxury tax.

Three questions the Denver Nuggets must answer this season

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The NBC/ProBasketballTalk season previews will ask the questions each of the 30 NBA teams must answer to make their season a success. We are looking at one team a day until the start of the season, and it begins with a look back at the team’s offseason moves.

Last Season:
40-42, missed the playoffs.

I know what you did last summer: Denver snatched up Paul Millsap on a 3-year, $90 million deal. They also re-signed Mason Plumlee to a 3-year deal worth $41 million. In June they swapped out Donovan Mitchell for Trey Lyles. Drafted Tyler Lydon, Monte Morris, and Vlatko Cancar.

THREE QUESTIONS THE NUGGETS MUST ANSWER:

1) Who is going to pass, and when, and how much? After adding Paul Millsap and re-signing Mason Plumlee, the Nuggets have a plethora of passing big men to choose from. We all know that Nikola Jokic is the future of the center position in Denver, so that gives you at least three big men to choose from in the offense. However, as we’ve seen on teams with great passing players before, it’s possible to get into the habit of over sharing the ball at the detriment of simply putting it in the hoop.

Plumlee is probably going to be in a major backup role on this team if everyone stays healthy, so that could simplify things a bit. Still, you have the potential here of things getting a little overworked when it gets into the hands of the big men, so making sure they understand when to stick to the sheet and when to play jazz will be important. We’re all excited to see Millsap and Jokic play together but it might take a few weeks against live competition to sort out the passing lanes.

2) Will there be any semblance of defense? Denver finished just 29th last season in defensive efficiency rating. Kenneth Faried is still somewhat of an issue on that end, and despite what some statistics suggest, Plumlee is not a good defender. Jokic and Millsap should help that out a little bit, but much of this team remains the same from last year.

The question will be in the continued development of the young players, particularly Jamal Murray, Emmanuel Mudiay, and whatever you can squeeze out of Will Barton on the defensive end of the floor. For as “sneaky” as this team is going to be when it comes to the playoff race this season, I still believe that defense will be an issue. Think of the Portland Trail Blazers teams of the last few years and how much they have had to be a stellar offense of team if only because their defense has been abysmal. The Nuggets might slot right into that archetype this season if they aren’t careful.

3) What are they doing with Kenneth Faried? There has been a lot of chatter around the league wondering if very Faried is ever going to get traded. The question, of course, is whether he has any value with his cap hit and whether that is still a smart thing for the Nuggets to do.

Faried had a statistical down season last year, if only slightly, but in his move to a bench role he was effective as an offensive weapon. Certainly, if he remains in that role next season he will be a wrecking ball against some of the backup lineups that get trotted out in the NBA. However, he does have the third-highest salary on the team and it is a question whether he will ever fully develop into a more complete player as he heads into his seventh season.

The question of what to do with Faried isn’t just about the trade market. It’s also about, if he stays, what kind of role he has and what work he has to do on a team that needs to strengthen its defense if it wants to be in the playoff race.