The Lakers and Thunder do not even tip off their playoff series until Sunday, but Phil Jackson has already started working the referees.
The Lakers have a game tonight against the folded tent of the Clippers, but nobody is asking about that. It’s all about the up-and-coming Thunder. And Jackson has gotten a jump on working the referees for this series already — complaining about the calls Kevin Durant gets. From Syracuse honk Dave McMenamin at ESPNLosAngeles.com
“As far as the calls that he gets on the floor, I think a lot of the referees are treating him like a superstar; he gets to the line easy and often,” Jackson said, seemingly starting his gamesmanship with the officials a little early this spring. “He’s got the ability to create fouls. That’s a big part of scoring, to get to the foul line.”
Jackson should call in Kevin Garnett to help him with this campaign.
It’s pretty transparent what is going on here. Jackson is going to sick Ron Artest on Durant and tell him to be physical with the emerging superstar. If the referees let them play a little (as tends to happen in the playoffs) the advantage is to the Lakers. If the game is called tight, it will be very tough.
Still, Durant will get his because he is that good. He’s not Kobe or LeBron yet, but he is on the path. The real barometer of this series will be the Lakers ability to slow Russell Westbrook. The Lakers may want to be physical with him, as well.
This is a huge season — a contract kind of season of sorts — for Noah Vonleh in Portland. The team has an option on him next season (the third of his rookie deal), and to impress people he is going to have to earn minutes at the four in front of Al-Farouq Aminu, Moe Harkless, Meyers Leonard, and Ed Davis.
The Blazers have high hopes for Vonleh, he was a central part of the Nicolas Batum trade with Charlotte. However, watching Vonleh at Summer League — 12 points a game on 46.3 percent shooting, 8.8 rebounds a game in more than 30 minutes a night — he didn’t show the development anyone had hoped to see. He should have dominated at that level. He didn’t.
Now there another injury setback for him.
He should be good to go around the start of training camp at the end of September.
But he can’t afford a slow start in training camp (that set him back his rookie season). He needs to show what he can do from day one, or Portland is going to move on without him.
The Boston Celtics have 16 players with guaranteed contracts and NBA rules allow just 15 players on the roster. Which means if a trade doesn’t happen by the start of the season, someone is going to get cut but still paid for the season.
This doesn’t change that.
The Celtics signed guard John Holland last season (he played a total of one playoff minute for them), but the deal was not guaranteed for this season. From Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
This was expected. Holland, who has played on the Puerto Rican national team, will be looking for a new gig either in the D-League or overseas (it’s unlikely an NBA team offers more than a training camp invite) By the end of training camp, the Celtics also likely will cut second-round pick Ben Bentil of Providence, who had a partially guaranteed deal.
That will leave R.J. Hunter and James Young battling it out for the final roster spot in Boston.
Ty Lawson is headed to the Kings, as first reported on Monday. The team made the move official on Wednesday with a press release, and USA Today‘s Sam Amick offers up another important piece of information: Lawson’s deal is not guaranteed, making it essentially a make-good camp invite.
It’s staggering how Lawson went from a borderline All-Star level point guard in 2012-13 to signing a non-guaranteed one-year deal with a lottery team three years later. His off-the-court issues have contributed to that, and he didn’t produce last season in Houston and Indiana. Still, he should have a pretty good chance of making the Kings’ roster, with Seth Curry and Rajon Rondo gone and Darren Collison their only proven point guard. They need depth there.
When Ben Simmons declared for the NBA draft this spring, he signed with LeBron James‘ Klutch Sports group for representation. That association would appear to have its advantages for the No. 1 overall pick, including the opportunity to work out with James and Dwyane Wade during the offseason. Wade posted a group photo on Instagram on Wednesday afternoon:
Also, it’s pretty staggering to see Simmons standing next to James and realizing that he’s bigger and taller.