Darko Milicic teaching Al Jefferson how to play the game

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nba_jefferson1_250.jpgThe triangle offense requires a “big with a brain” to run it correctly — a smart and willing passer. Pau Gasol is perfect. The Bulls used to put Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and a host of guys who could pass in the post. That seemed to work pretty well for them. Even Shaquille O’Neal is a deft passer. When he wants to be.

Al Jefferson has a brain, but he couldn’t quite wrap it around how to play the post in Kurt Rambis’ triangle. So the Timberwolves went away from it more and more (Johnny Flynn and the guards had something to do with that, too).

Then along came Darko Milicic. The motion and passing of the triangle feel at home to those coming from traditional European systems, and suddenly the Timberwolves offense was flowing a little better with Darko in.

And Al Jefferson noticed, as he told Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

“I see myself looking at passes now that I never would have looked at before. [Milicic] helps me open my eyes up to the game because he can pass, he can score, he does all the right things on offense. I see the things he does in games. Now, I think I’m a lot better making the right decisions.”

That has carried over with Darko out due to a mild concussion. Jefferson is passing to hit the cutters. Things are opening up in the offense. It almost resembles the triangle at times.

Not that this has translated much to the win column so far. But it’s all about baby steps at this point.

Gordon Hayward goes behind Jordan Clarkson’s back with dribble

Gordon Hayward, Nick Young
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Utah’s Gordon Hayward abused the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson on this play.

First, Hayward reads and steals Clarkson’s poor feed into the post intended for Kobe Bryant, then going up the sideline he takes his dribble behind Clarkson’s back to keep going. It all ends in a Rudy Gobert dunk.

Three quick takeaways here:

1) Gordon Hayward is a lot better than many fans realize. He can lead this team.

2) It’s still all about the development with Clarkson, and that’s going to mean some hard lessons.

3) Hayward may have the best hair in the NBA, even if it’s going a bit Macklemore.

(Hat tip reddit)

Could Tristan Thompson’s holdout last months? Windhorst says yes.

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five

VIZZINI: “So, it is down to you. And it is down to me.”
MAN IN BLACK nods and comes nearer…
MAN IN BLACK: “Perhaps an arrangement can be reached.”
VIZZINI: “There will be no arrangement…”
MAN IN BLACK: “But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.”

That farcical scene from The Princess Bride pretty much sums up where we are with the Tristan Thompson holdout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, minus the Iocane powder. (Although that scene was a battle of wits in the movie and this process seems to lack much wit.) The Cavaliers have put a five-year, $80 million offer on the table. Thompson wants a max deal (or at least a more than has been offered), but he also doesn’t want to play for the qualifying offer and didn’t sign it. LeBron James just wants the two sides just to get it done.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN thinks LeBron could be very disappointed.

Windhorst was on the Zach Lowe podcast at Grantland (which you should be listening to anyway) and had this to say about the Thompson holdout:

“I actually believe it will probably go months. This will go well into the regular season.”

Windhorst compared it to a similar situation back in 2007 with Anderson Varejao, which eventually only broke because the then Charlotte Bobcats signed Varejao to an offer sheet. Thompson is a restricted free agent, meaning the Cavaliers can match any offer, but only Portland and Philadelphia have the cap space right now to offer him a max contract. Neither team has shown any interest in doing so.

And so we wait. And we may be waiting a while.