I’ve never really understood watching scrimmages. I mean, I do it a lot. I’ll watch basketball pretty much at any level. But the players are just so removed from the effort level we find most enjoyable to watch. That level, if you’re wondering, is a Game 7 in the playoffs in the semifinals or higher.
A scrimmage is, by its very definition, practice. It’s simply a final practice round in a game simulation. It’s one thing when it’s a team that is competing for spots on a roster, fighting, dying, working hard every play. It’s a very different thing when it’s an international team scrimmage in a non-Olympic year.
The Team USA scrimmage Saturday night showed us a handful of things that are relevant. Some we knew, some we didn’t.
- Team USA is small. Jeff Green played significant minutes and while he’s unlikely to make the roster, no bigs outside of Tyson Chandler made an impact. Unless JaVale McGee makes a huge jump and makes the roster. But considering his inexperience and resume, that’s hard to argue for. Brook Lopez’s game is dependent on post-scoring, but in the trapezoid, in a guard-heavy set, it’s hard to find that spacing. Team USA is going to have a hard time against the bigger international teams.
- Kevin Durant is great. You know what we needed to see from Durant as we look to him to take the reins of our country’s team in international competition? It’s not dominance. This is a scrimmage. It’s the “man among boys” effect. We needed him to look like he was simply better than the rest in every way, that he didn’t even need to try. Andre Iguodala looked like if he efforted, he could be on the floor with this team. Kevin Durant looked like he could go at 50% and still dominate.
- The guard competition is fierce. O.J. Mayo looked terrific, but his defensive liabilities may keep him off-squad. Chauncey Billups looked marginal, but will probably make the roster based on experience. Derrick Rose looked terrific, somehow faster than he was previously. Rajon Rondo looked sloppy and disinterested. And all of them are worthy of inclusion on the team, along with Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook.
- Rudy Gay had one of his best games as a professional, which says a lot about Rudy Gay.
- Lamar Odom managed to get lost in a Team USA scrimmage game. Only Lamar.
Cuts will be made, Curry will likely go for shooting, Mayo will likely stay home for size, and Kevin Love is more respected on Team USA than in Minnesota. Strange things afoot as the team prepares for Turkey.
With trade rumors swirling, Goran Dragic told the Suns in February 2015 that he wouldn’t re-sign the following summer. Dragic said he no longer trusted Phoenix’s front office.
So, the Suns traded him to Miami.
But did they have to?
Then-Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek apparently got Dragic to change his stance.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
Within days of Hornacek having a heart-to-heart with Dragic and securing a commitment from the Slovenian point guard to re-sign with the Suns as a free agent the following summer, the Suns shipped him to Miami in a three-team trade, a person familiar with the situation told CBS Sports.
This substantially changes how we view that trade. At the time, it seemed the Suns got a tremendous haul for a player they were going to lose anyway. But if they could’ve re-signed him, it changes the equation.
Maybe not enough to say Phoenix erred, though.
Dragic was clearly wavering in his thinking. He later said he regretted his harsh comments about the front office. Just because he told Hornacek he’d re-sign doesn’t mean he was bound to re-sign
And Phoenix got solid return – a top-seven protected 2017 first-rounder that becomes unprotected in 2018 and an unprotected 2021 first-rounder. Picks with so few protections rarely move anymore. The Heat look solid right now, but they’re fairly old. That far into the future, anything can happen – giving those picks great upside.
So, maybe the Suns still made the right move. But maybe just keeping Dragic was more on the table than we previously realized.
Kyle Lowry popularized the late-night workout in these playoffs, but he’s not the only one to practice until the wee hours.
Raptors teammate DeMar DeRozan shot until about 1 a.m. Monday, according to Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com, preceding Toronto’s Game 4 win over the Cavaliers.
But the funniest part came when DeRozan arrived at the arena earlier.
Upon entry into the bowl area, a female security guard spotted him and stopped him. She asked what he was doing there and even went as far to ask if he worked at the arena.
DeRozan just chuckled and kept walking down the 100-level steps and onto the court where his backcourt teammate Kyle Lowry was waiting. The security guard called for backup, assuming a possible trespasser was on the scene.
Once help arrived and saw who was on the court, he said to his colleague, “That’s our two best players.” He was not quite accurate. On Monday night, those two were the two best players on the court.
“That was the first time that ever happened,” DeRozan said of the incident. “I just laughed about it. You know me. I wasn’t tripping. You can call the whole security team in here and obviously somebody is going to know, but she was just doing her job.”
Jeremy Lin ought to feel better now.
This is putting the “carousel” in coaching carousel.
Hornets assistant Stephen Silas (a Rockets head-coaching candidate) and Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts (a Grizzlies head-coaching candidate) are also both interviewing to become the Warriors’ lead assistant. If Tibbetts gets the job, Portland would have a vacancy, so…
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Portland also was granted permission Sunday to talk to Silas about being its top assistant, league sources said.
Working for Steve Kerr in Golden State – which propelled Alvin Gentry to Pelicans head coach last year and Luke Walton to Lakers head coach this year – is probably preferable. But Silas’ star is rising, regardless. He’s a highly regarded assistant coach.
Terry Stotts, contract extension in hand, could add Silas without fearing being undermined. That’s the value of giving head coaches security. Hiring good assistants becomes more tenable.
Why would Silas leave another good coach, Steve Clifford in Charlotte, for the Trail Blazers? I don’t know for certain, but in these situations, there’s usually one place to start: money. Portland’s willingness to spend could pay off.
While a couple of the big chairs have yet to be filled — Houston still hasn’t settled on a coach, neither has Memphis — the assistant coaching spots around the league are starting to fill up.
Marc Stein of ESPN dropped some nuggets about the bench of Nate McMillan in Indiana and Dave Joerger in Sacramento:
Bayno, the former UNLV head coach, had not been in the NBA this season but had been with Dwane Casey in Toronto the two seasons before that, and before that had been an assistant with Minnesota and Portland.
Corliss Willamson had been popular with players in Sacramento, as had Nancy Lieberman — but she also had a big fan on owner Vivek Ranadive. She is one of only two full-time female assistant coaches in the NBA (along with Becky Hammond in San Antonio).