Wolves make roster moves for playoff push

8 Comments

After dropping 13 of their last 13 games, the Minnesota Timberwolves knew it was time to make a change. So they’re bringing in the big guns, and likely re-signing two-time MVP Brian Cardinal for the home stretch.

The Wolves are just 28 games out of the final playoff spot in the West, meaning that Cardinal’s services are as vital as ever. He averaged an impressive 1.7 points and 0.9 rebounds per game this year in 27 contests for the Wolves until he was included in a trade that brought in former All-Star Darko Milicic.

Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson were firmly opposed to the move, implying that it was unfair and disrupts the competitive equity of the game. From Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, modified for the sake of specifics and accuracy (and Brian Cardinal):

“They’re going to get [Cardinal] back and it’s going to be one of
those scenarios that we see in the NBA where you ship a player out, you
get another player, then your player retires or they pay him off and
then he comes back in 30 days,” Jackson said. “I don’t know what that
does for the league. I think that’s kind of a weird situation.”

Rivers agreed with Jackson, even though the loophole has helped his team in the past.

“I
have a problem with that,” Rivers said before Thursday’s Lakers-Celtics
game at Staples Center. “I loved it three years ago when we did it with Gary Payton if you remember, but now I think it sucks. I think it’s a terrible deal.”

Rivers and the Celtics traded Payton to Atlanta in March 2005 for Antoine Walker and Payton returned to Boston after being waived by the Hawks.

“I
actually do have a problem with that though. We did it, and I’m joking,
but I do think [it’s a problem],” Rivers said. “I don’t know what you
do [maybe] just not allow them to go back to the same team or whatever.
… I do think that will be changed eventually, but I do have a problem
with it.”

There’s no official word from the NBA office concerning plans to change the rules in light of Cardinal-gate. In order to clear a roster spot, the Wolves will be waiving Alando Tucker, who, let’s face it, is no Brian Cardinal.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

2 Comments

The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

AP Foto/Eric Christian Smith
1 Comment

Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

image

Did Russell Westbrook get mad at Steven Adams for not taking potential triple-double-clinching shot? (video)

4 Comments

Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.

That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.

But he still chases them.

Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.

Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.

Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.

It could be both!

Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.