Two losses on the road, two games where the Spurs had chances to make a mark and instead watched the Suns do that, watched the Suns make the big plays. It has all left Gregg Popovich a little testy. Get past the cliches of the Suns in this video to get to Pops, he was pretty entertaining after last night’s game.
A week ago, David Griffin was just someone the Magic were researching to run their front office.
It seems the Cavaliers general manager has since moved up in the search.
For now, Cleveland Cavaliers GM David Griffin remains the top candidate in the Magic’s search, but Orlando hasn’t yet asked for permission to speak with Griffin, largely because of the Cavaliers’ playoff status, sources said.
This could end a couple ways.
Here’s betting Griffin – who has LeBron James‘ endorsement – leverages the Orlando interest into a bigger offer from Cleveland. Griffin was just too integral to the Cavs’ first championship to discard him.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has shown much more willingness to spend than The Devos Family, which owns the Magic. If this is a bidding war, I’ll take Cleveland. If it isn’t a bidding war, the Cavs have a far more attractive roster than Orlando.
The Rockets were starting to pull away from the Thunder in Game 5 of their first-round series, and the Houston crowd was looking for a reason to erupt. The Rockets provided one by intentionally fouling Roberson despite holding Oklahoma City without a basket for the previous five minutes. The Thunder wing stepped to the line in the loudening arena and, of course, missed both free throws.
But Roberson didn’t go down quietly.
On the ensuing defensive possession, he picked up James Harden in the backcourt and hounded the Rockets star on the perimeter. Harden passed to Nene, and Roberson doubled the center in the post and stole the ball. Roberson passed to Russell Westbrook then laid out Patrick Beverley with an open-court screen, freeing Westbrook to score.
Of course, that wasn’t enough. Oklahoma City fell in five games, Westbrook’s supporting cast unable to keep up enough with its MVP candidate.
“That’ll definitely be one thing that haunt me, Roberson said of his free-throw shooting against Houston, “and something I’ll work on extremely hard this summer.”
Roberson’s postseason confirmed everything we thought we knew about him: He’s a defensive dynamo, and he can’t shoot.
But understanding Roberson’s skill set is only a small step in evaluating him. Teams are better than ever at exposing perimeter players who can’t shoot, and that makes Roberson’s price point difficult to read as he enters restricted free agency. The Thunder delayed the decision – extending Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo last year while allowing Roberson to complete his rookie-scale contract without an extension – but time is practically up.
For better or worse, it was all there in the playoffs.
Roberson made just 3-of-21 free throws (14%), the worst percentage by anyone with so many attempts in a postseason series (since 1964, as far as Basketball-Reference go back). Here are the worst free-throw percentages in a series since 1964 (minimum: 100 attempts):
This was hardly out of the norm for Roberson, who made just 42% of his free throws during the regular season.
His postseason 3-point percentage (41%) was way better than his regular-season baseline (25%), but he attempted just 17 3-pointers in 185 playoff minutes. Not only is that a small sample, it speaks to another problem. The Rockets typically left him open, and he was reluctant to shoot. That allowed Houston to defend 5-on-4 elsewhere with only minimal repercussions. Despite playing more than 90% of his minutes with Westbrook, the Thunder still scored worse with Roberson on the court.
So why did Roberson receive such a prominent role in the series?
He’s a defensive stud. Roberson ranks fourth among players who regularly defend opposing guards in defensive real plus-minus:
Roberson shadowed Harden for too much of the series to gauge on-off splits, but adding regular-season Thunder-Rockets games reveals a clearer (though still limited) picture:
|James Harden||Roberson on||Roberson off|
|Points per 36 minutes||25.3||51.8|
|Turnovers per 36 minutes||6.0||0.0|
|Free-throw attempts per 36 minutes||10.9||22.5|
|Effective field-goal percentage||41.9%||75.0%|
Harden, arguably the NBA’s best offensive player, was held in relative check with Roberson on the floor. When Roberson sat, Harden went wild.
There has to be a place for a defender like Roberson in this league.
Is it in Oklahoma City?
Roberson was effective in last year’s playoffs as a small-ball big. He cut and crashed the offensive glass. That got harder with two of Adams, Taj Gibson and Enes Kanter occupying the paint. The Thunder maximizing Roberson’s production might mean losing a big man or two. Gibson will be a free agent and said he wants to return. Adams and Kanter are locked into lucrative long-term deals.
When it comes to Roberson, it’s always complicated.
Larry Bird resigned as Pacers president.
Could he make an even quicker leap back into NBA team presidency – with the Magic?
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
This strikes me as more as Orlando’s search firm trying to prove its usefulness than a viable option.
Whether they’re trying to generate excitement, getting used for leverage or actually serious, the Magic keep getting linked to big-name replacements for the fired Rob Hennigan – Doc Rivers, David Griffin and now Bird. If the Magic are willing to pay major money for name recognition, they could get plenty of people to at least listen. But I’m unconvinced about that spending.
Larry Bird put his stamp on the Pacers in the last year – firing Frank Vogel and trading for Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young to join hand-picked Monta Ellis and Myles Turner as Paul George‘s supporting cast on an up-tempo, offensively dynamic team.
The plan fell flat.
Indiana played at a below-average pace and produced a middling offense. The Pacers got swept by the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Bird’s patience and pain tolerance for the job due to lingering back issues from his playing days has long seemed to waver. I wouldn’t write him off for good.
Indiana promoted Kevin Pritchard in 2012, when Bird previously stepped down. Pritchard previously worked as the Trail Blazers’ general manager, and he’s a qualified replacement.
The work begins immediately with a decision on George. If he doesn’t make an All-NBA team, the Pacers won’t gain as much financial advantage in his contract offer. That could open the door to a trade and rebuilding around Turner — or making a last-ditch push to convince George he can win in Indiana.