The Flip Side: Anthony Morrow's life after Golden State

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anthony_morrow.jpgYesterday’s four-way trade saw just about every team involved walk away a winner. However, the effects of that trade are far more specific than just saying “This team got better,” or “This team accomplished its goals.” In The Flip Side, we’ll look at one player from each of the four teams — the Nets, the Pacers, the Hornets, and the Rockets — and how their career is impacted by the move in both the immediate and distant future.

The Golden State Warriors were good for Anthony Morrow. He was allowed to walk into the game cold and launch whatever shot struck his fancy. The attempts were there for Morrow and for everyone, and while Golden State had anything but a successful stint during Morrow’s two seasons there, on a personal level, he had a tremendously impressive showing.

While so many of his teammates — from Monta Ellis to Stephen Jackson to Al Harrington and to plenty more — racked up high-volume stats in Golden State’s fast and loose offensive “system,” Morrow did so while scoring efficiently. He only averaged 13.0 points per game in his final season with the Warriors, but he shot an absolutely tremendous 45.6% from three-point range. He was eighth in the league in effective field goal percentage last season, and a still impressive 19th in true shooting percentage. The statistical company Morrow keeps in those categories? Steve Nash, Ray Allen, and Chauncey Billups.

That’s the class of shooter that Morrow already finds himself in, even as a 24 year-old. He’s that deadly from mid-range and from the perimeter, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the pace of the Warriors’ system.

Now, Morrow will inherit most of the minutes left behind by Courtney Lee’s departure (and keep in mind that Chris Douglas-Roberts and Jarvis Hayes, who also played the 2 for the Nets last year, are now gone), and will have a chance to thrive in a more structured offense. There aren’t many players in this league who would turn to Avery Johnson as their offensive shaman, but at this stage Johnson and Don Nelson aren’t even comparable. One cares and the other doesn’t, and one will put Morrow in a position to succeed while the other rides out the end of his coaching career like the formality that it is.

Common sense tells you that when the game slows down, Morrow’s attempts will be less frequent and better defended. In some ways that’s true. Yet there are factors involved here that serve to balance the offensive culture shock. Brook Lopez’s presence may be the most significant, as having an effective interior big can give Morrow and his three-point shooting counterparts all the open air they need. Swapping Monta Ellis (he of the 29.4 usage rate) for Devin Harris doesn’t provide a huge change in point guard styles, but it’s enough of one to take note.

Plus, don’t underestimate the impact of having a coach whose teams show
well in per-possession metrics. Nelson, despite his insistence on a
complete dedication to the offensive end, has only coached a top-five offense once
during his four years with the Warriors (in the other years, the Dubs
were ranked 11th, ninth, and 14th in points per 100 possessions). Avery’s Mavs were in the top five during three of his four years in Dallas, including tops in the league in ’05-’06 and second in ’06-’07. Johnson’s club really hit rock bottom in ’07-’08, when they were eighth in the league in points per 100 possessions despite having a mid-season shakeup at point guard. 

New Jersey is where Morrow’s career will really begin. He may have made a name (and some money) for himself by playing in Golden State, but with the Nets, Morrow has a chance to be a part of something real, even if it starts with a rebuild. 

Pau Gasol calls joining Spurs “an interesting option”

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 29:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Chicago Bulls watches the action during the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 29, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Marc Gasol thinks his brother Pau Gasol — who will opt out to become a free agent this summer and bolt Chicago — should join the San Antonio Spurs.

Pau doesn’t think that’s a bad idea.

Speaking with the Spanish sports publication Marca, Gasol said the Spurs would be “an interesting option for me.” (Hat tip Eye on Basketball)

Gasol put up numbers — 16.5 points and 11 rebounds a game — at age 36, he still has great post moves, can still pass, and is still fairly efficient on offense. He was an All-Star for a reason. But he’s also a liability at the defensive end. Where he lands as a free agent should be about fit.

Pau would fit with the Spurs — if he was willing to come off the bench. Which is probably what should have happened in Chicago (with Joakim Noah starting for defensive reasons). As a first big off the bench Gasol can lift a team up, but if he’s out there 31 minutes or more a night as a starter — as he was in Chicago last season — he’s going to get exposed a lot defensively.

Do the Spurs want him is another question?

Is Gasol willing to accept coming off the bench behind LaMarcus Aldridge? Or does he need to be a starter? And will he take less money to contend? Gasol has some questions to answer.

Stephen Curry says he will try to return faster than two weeks

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry watches while standing on the bench during the first half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Houston Rockets Monday, April 18, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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So far, the Golden State Warriors have looked just fine — thank you very much — without one Stephen Curry in the lineup. And as Dan Feldman and I discussed in the latest PBT podcast, they likely will be able to handle the Portland Trail Blazers without him as well. They don’t need to rush him back.

But Curry is rushing himself back and wants to beat the two-week timeline for his strained MCL that the doctors put out there, reports Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com.

Coach Steve Kerr said Curry looked good in treatment but did not do any work on the court.

Athletes are the worst people to ask about their own recovery timelines; they don’t get to top levels of their sport without supreme confidence and a certain feeling of invulnerability. They are always sure they can bounce back faster than the doctors say — sometimes that’s true, but not often.

So long as the Warriors are not pressured by Portland (sorry Clipper fans, you’re not advancing without CP3 and Griffin), they are under no pressure to rush him back. That second round series is expected to start Sunday in the Bay Area, if the Warriors can hold serve through the first two games then they can keep Curry on the sidelines for a couple of weeks, let the knee rest completely, and bring him back on their own terms.

The Warriors will need him back for the Conference Finals and beyond, but more than that this is a Golden State team set up to be a contender for the next four or five years, you don’t want to create a bigger problem for future years pushing too hard for a title this season if he’s not right.

PBT Podcast: Thunder/Spurs, Hawks/Cavs, and Game 6s talk with Dan Feldman

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - OCTOBER 28:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder tries to block Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs during the third quarter of a NBA game at the Chesapeake Energy Center on October 28, 2015 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
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Friday night sees some big Game 6s across the NBA playoffs — Indiana has the best chance of forcing a Game 7 — but everyone is looking ahead to Oklahoma vs. San Antonio in the next round.

That includes Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com, who in this latest podcast discuss that series and the Atlanta and Cleveland series that tips off next week. Also they talk about the Friday night Game 6 matchups, and if Portland could beat Golden State if the Warriors do not get Stephen Curry back.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Report: Celtics believe they’ll get meeting with Kevin Durant

Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant (35) looks to move on Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart (36) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The Thunder won 130-109. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
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The Celtics will chase Kevin Durant this summer.

Will it work?

Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:

Ainge will be aggressive in free agency, team sources told The Vertical, and yes, that means a run at Kevin Durant. The Celtics believe Durant will meet with them this summer, but they know that meeting won’t accomplish much unless there are significant moves leading into it.

The Celtics are optimistic about meeting with Durant. The Warriors are optimistic about signing Durant.

That might just speak to different mindsets within the organizations – why shouldn’t Golden State be confident about everything? – but it also might handicap the odds of Durant’s next team. The Warriors definitely appear more likely than the Celtics.

Boston has plenty going for it: Brad Stevens, a solid young roster, extra draft picks (including the Nets’ first-rounder this year) and cap flexibility. But Durant wants to win now, so those more youthful assets mean only so much. It’s on Danny Ainge to prove he can turn that cap space into another helpful player, deal a Brooklyn pick or two for a veteran. That would become much easier if the Celtics win the lottery.

There’s a lot happening at once. If Durant isn’t coming, Boston might prefer to keep its draft picks and build slowly. Other free agents might not come. But if Durant is on board, that makes trades preferable and other free agents landable.

Of course, Durant should be the top option.

It appears the Celtics at least have their foot in the door.