NBA finals, Lakers Celtics: Rajon Rondo has come this far without a jumpshot, and that's damn impressive

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Henry Abbott of TrueHoop has a debunking piece of sorts regarding Rajon Rondo and his supposedly improved jumper. Just two years removed from being something of an offensive liability due to his inability to knock down the open J, it’s been assumed that Rondo improved his shot without any real evidence supporting that fact. From TrueHoop:

Synergy Sports lets you watch all of his jumpers,
and finds jump shooting in the half court to be the one method of
scoring at which Rondo is below average. He took nearly 300 jumpers
over the course of the regular season, and made just a third of them.
That’s not good. He was two percentage points better a season ago, and nine percentage points back in 2007-2008, when the Lakers decided to leave him open in the Finals.

What’s more, his career 3-point field goal percentage is a miserable 24%. This season he lags behind even that, at 21%.

It’s hard to find any evidence that his jumper has improved at all.

I’m not as surprised by this as I am impressed by it. Rondo is a player with a clear offensive limitation in his game, and yet he’s been able to perform better than almost (You hear me, Kobe? I said almost.) everyone else in the playoffs. Rajon has fans carrying the banner to anoint him as the top point guard in the game, and he still can’t buy a bucket from outside 16 feet.

That makes Rondo an incredibly special player. Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Steve Nash are all terrific offensive point guards, but each also has a reliable jumper. Just having the threat of those shots opens up the offense in new ways to those PGs and their teammates.

Rondo, on the other hand, is matched up with opponents who know that he really can’t shoot, but also can’t quite afford to leave him wide open. Rajon is such a good finisher around the rim and so skilled at finding open teammates that allowing him the momentum to charge the basket can be incredibly dangerous. It’s Rondo’s ability to drive and court-vision that are helping the Celtics steal the show, but there’s another factor involved: discretion.

It’s a wonderful thing for a point guard to know their strengths and stick to them, and that’s one of the graces of Rondo’s game. He may not be an effective shooter on long twos or threes, but he also isn’t killing possessions by taking lots of them. Don’t underestimate the significance of that, as the ability to recognize good shots is paramount for a player who initiates the offense.

As Abbott notes, the Lakers will likely look to make Rondo take more jumpers than before, and it should be interesting to see how he responds. Will he continue to attack the defense and move the ball to get the Celtics the best possible shots? Or will the temptation of open jumpers play right into the Lakers’ hand?

How Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza complicate Rockets’ pursuit of third star

AP Photo/John Raoux
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After pairing Chris Paul and James Harden, the Rockets are reportedly chasing a third starPaul George, Carmelo Anthony or someone else.

But Houston parted with significant assets to land Paul from the Clippers. And the Rockets will have a tricky time dealing two remaining players, Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Unloading Ryan Anderson to sign Paul outright would have helped Houston keep one of their outgoing guards, but the market for the three years and $60 million left on Anderson’s deal was frigid. Not even the Kings wanted him for free. At least two teams would have demanded two Houston first-round picks in exchange for absorbing Anderson, according to several league sources.

The salary filler probably can’t be Trevor Ariza, by the way. Ariza and Paul are close after years together in New Orleans, and playing with Ariza factored at least a little into Paul’s decision, per league sources. The Clippers had tried to trade for him in prior seasons, sources say. Ariza is also still good at a coveted position, and his Bird Rights will be valuable to a capped-out Rockets team next summer.

Anderson would be dangerous as a stretch four in pick-and-pops with Paul and Harden. Even if he’s overpaid, might be better to keep him than surrender more assets to dump him.

Likewise, Ariza is a nice two-way player and can play small-ball four. There’s a use for him on this team.

But beyond them, Houston is left with Eric Gordon and Clint Capela as movable players. Gordon, with a higher salary and less obvious fit with Paul and Harden, would almost certainly be a key cog in a trade for another star. Capela is younger and more valuable, though the Rockets would probably want to keep him as a defensive anchor.

That might not be possible while trading for a third star, though. Houston can’t even guarantee sending out another first-round pick in a trade after sending a protected first-rounder to the Clippers. (The Rockets could agree to convey a first-rounder two years after sending one to L.A., which would is highly likely to convey next year.) Including Capela in a trade might be the only way to assemble a suitable package.

Even then, Houston would be hard-pressed to surpass an offer from the Lakers or Celtics for George. Plus, if Indiana is rebuilding around Myles Turner, Capela is an awkward fit. That trade might require a third team – causing further complications.

Hoping Anthony gets bought out by the Knicks then signs for the mid-level exception is much simpler – though that route returns the lesser third star.

But Daryl Morey just brought Chris Paul to Houston before free agency even began. Now is not the time to underestimate the Rockets general manager.

Report: Knicks won’t consider Isiah Thomas to run front office

AP Photo/Seth Wenig
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A couple years ago, Knicks owner James Dolan said there was no scenario Isiah Thomas would return to the Knicks.

But Dolan also said a few months ago he’d keep Phil Jackson for the duration of Jackson’s five-year contract.

With Dolan effectively firing Jackson today, could Thomas become the Knicks’ next president?

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

The Post also learned Liberty president Isiah Thomas would not be considered for Jackson’s successor.

It’s sad that this needs to be reported. It’s even sadder that, even if this the Knicks’ plans right now, there are no assurances Dolan holds steady.

Dumping Jackson is a reason to celebrate. But as long as Dolan owns the team, it must be a reserved celebration.

At least the Knicks’ next step won’t include Thomas. Probably.

Raptors promote Bobby Webster to general manager

Dave Sandford/NBAE via Getty Images
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TORONTO (AP) — With rumors swirling about the Knicks chasing Raptors president Masai Ujiri, the Raptors have promoted Bobby Webster to general manager.

Webster, 32 years old assistant the youngest GM in the NBA, replaces Jeff Weltman, who left Toronto in May to become president of the Orlando Magic.

A former staffer at the NBA league office in New York, Webster joined the Raptors in 2013 and was named assistant GM in 2016.

He’ll help decide what to offer All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, who opted out of the final year of his contract last month after Cleveland swept Toronto in the second round of the playoffs.

Forwards Serge Ibaka, P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson are all unrestricted free agents.

Also Wednesday, Toronto promoted Dan Tolzman to assistant general manager.

The Raptors have posted consecutive 50-win seasons and made four straight playoff appearances.

Jason Williams out 6-8 months after injury in Big3 debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Former NBA point guard Jason Williams will miss six to eight months after suffering a knee injury in the opening game of the Big3.

Corey Maggette, also injured in the opening week of Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 league of former NBA players, had surgery for a leg injury. There is no timetable for his return.

The injuries were announced Wednesday during a conference call with Cube and Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz, who also detailed a couple rules changes starting with this weekend’s game in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Games will be played to 50 points, instead of 60, with halftime coming when the first team reaches 25 points. Cube said that would help the four games per day move more quickly.