The Clippers are just hard to watch right now. Even in comparison to their usual hard-to-watchness, their play the last few months is just painful.
ESPN’s brilliant Kevin Arnovitz watches every Clipper game — he’s a masochist that way — but he had a very interesting explanation for this recent play since the Clippers fired Mike Dunleavy.
But one reason that players, coaches and management continue to cite is the unusual number of players on the roster with expiring contracts. After the Clippers’ 117-94 loss to Dallas, interim head coach Kim Hughes tried to account for his team’s careless play:
“In late-season scenarios when you have as many free agents as we do, human nature takes effect sometimes. They look for points instead of the team first. That bothered me tonight. We had some guys looking for points too much. That should never occur, but it did occur. It’s not right, but it did happen. It’s not the way I like to play basketball, but when you have as many free agents as we do, I think it’s going to happen at times.”
You are seeing this same phenomenon with other teams, for example every team currently or within the next few years expected to play in the New York metropolitan area.
We’re seeing more of it this year with so many teams forsaking this season in hopes of landing one of the big free agents this summer. There are a lot of guys whose contracts come to an end.
As Arnovitz points out, hard to totally blame the players. If one Clipper right now was making the right plays and giving up his okay looks to a teammate for better looks, do you think that would really help him come free agency? Studies have shown what we all knew already — score more and you get paid more in the NBA. Doing the right thing can hurt your pocket book. So guys get selfish.
If teams start paying smarter — start using more advanced metrics to evaluate players — some of this can go away. But it never will completely. We’re always going to get some selfish, ugly ball every March and April.
Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Game 3 dunk over Aron Baynes was great.
Antetokounmpo’s Game 4 dunk over Al Horford (seen above) is even better, because of the fantastic mean mug that followed.
The rise of Antetokounmpo is no accident. He worked hard to develop his on-court skills. And that includes all aspects.
Suns forward Jared Dudley, who played with Antetokounmpo on the 2014-15 Bucks:
This is the inside info we need.
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer withdrew from the Suns coaching search, but that he was even involved with another opening while under contract with Atlanta is telling. It probably wasn’t about the Phoenix job being special. He’s also talking with the Knicks – and maybe that goes somewhere.
Marc Berman of the New York Post:
Mike Budenholzer is genuinely interested in the Knicks’ job, according to an NBA source who has spoken to the Hawks coach.
“New York’s his top choice,’’ the NBA source said. “If they offered him the job, he’d say yes. He wants to live in New York.’’
“Phoenix and the Knicks are trying to win every game,’’ said the NBA source who has spoken to Budenholzer recently. “There’s a good chance Atlanta is not looking to win games the next two years. This wasn’t Mike’s decision. He didn’t expect it. He doesn’t want to lose games.’’
Going to the Knicks to win? What a time to be alive.
But the Hawks are only one year into what appears to be a multi-year rebuild. Relative to that, New York is ahead.
When Kristaps Porzingis returns is the biggest variable. But Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke are all in their primes. Atlanta is much thinner.
The Knicks would probably also offer Budenholzer a raise and the Hawks compensation. Though dealing with James Dolan carries downside, this could be a financial boon to everyone else involved. It’s no wonder Budenholzer and the Hawks are both into this.
The big question is whether New York, which is casting a wide net, tabs Budenholzer. He doesn’t have a clear connection to Knicks president Steve Mills or general manager Scott Perry. But Budenholzer is a demonstrably good coach, and that ought to matter plenty.
Back in January, the Los Angeles Lakers waived Andrew Bogut. He had a very limited role on a Los Angeles team that was not making the playoffs, serving as a backup big man against teams who use a traditional center. That’s not much of a role anymore. He’s a center who can pass, shoot from the midrange a little, and knows where to be defensively, but the game has evolved as Bogut’s skills have faded. Bogut tried to latch on with a contender for the playoffs, but could not find a team to take him.
So he is going home.
Bogut is signing to play for the Sydney Kings in Australia’s NBL.
Bogut was the first No. 1 draft pick from Australia when he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005. He made the All-Rookie team that season, was All-NBA in 2010, but may be best known for his role as a crucial part of the defense of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors in 2015 (and his injury during the 2016 Finals is an underrated reason Cleveland was able to pull off a miracle comeback).
At age 33 Bogut may not have a spot in the NBA, but in the NBL he both will thrive for a few more years but also be a huge draw and get the welcome home from fans that he deserves.
Yes, guys get away with traveling in the NBA. James Harden on the step back (sometimes, not always), or guys sliding left/right to avoid a closeout at the arc and not bothering to dribble while they do it.
Lance Stephenson got called for traveling Sunday in the Pacers’ loss to the Cavaliers. In a game where Stephenson got under the skin of LeBron James and drew a technical (and tied him up for a jump ball at one point), this was the best Lance highlight of the game. Because if you’re going to travel, you should go all in.
Never change Lance. Never change.