Some pundits (and a few of the NBA’s advanced stats community) are pretty willing to hand the Larry O’Brien Trophy to the Miami Heat.
The other 29 teams, not so much.
Actually, make that 30. Because Dwyane Wade doesn’t even think the Heat are the favorites, as he said before his charity golf event to AP.
“The Lakers are the champions and we know the Lakers are very good,” Wade said Wednesday at a golf tournament he co-hosts with Alonzo Mourning. “That’s the team that everyone’s shooting for and they should be. Not the Miami Heat. The Los Angeles Lakers.”
Think about the matchups for a minute. Chris Bosh on Pau Gasol, fun because of different styles, but kind of a wash. Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade… I’d lean Kobe but for the sake of argument we’ll call it a wash (these are the two guys on the teams with the real killer instincts). LeBron James is going to get his, but Ron Artest is going to make him work for those.
Then who covers Andrew Bynum? The most likely candidate to slow him is his own knees. The Heat have Big Z who is a big body but a healthy Bynum destroys him.
And while Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem are quality, Lamar Odom has more talent than both of them. The person most likely to stop Odom is Odom. As always.
Bottom line, the matchups still make it look like LA is the team to beat. You can bet that television executives at ABC would like to put that to the test next June.
This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.
Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.
Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.
Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. Those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings, and with that team’s playoff chances have taken a hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers). Don’t be surprised if the Kings look to add a scorer at the trade deadline.
Gay was not happy in Sacramento and said he planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.
That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.
Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.
Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.
Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.
That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?
It just won’t die.
Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.
Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.
76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.
It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.
The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.
Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).