Rubio this, Rubio that. Ricky Rubio is the future of NBA point guards. Rubio is the greatest star for Spain. But in reality, this all overlooks the real driving force of Spain in Juan Carlos Navarro.
Navarro, who has played with FC Barcelona since 1997, played a lone season with the Memphis Grizzlies. He was surprisingly effective, able to translate his speed and known floater into being a talented combo-guard. On a wretched Grizzlies team in 2007-2008, he averaged 15.2 points per 36 minutes.
But of course, it wasn’t to be. On top of his best friend Pau Gasol being traded for… ahem… Kwame Brown and cap room to the Lakers, Navaroo missed home. He returned to FC Barcelona the following season and has remained there, tearing it up and winning Euroleague MVP in 2009.
Today he showed off the full range, leading all players at the half, dropping 20 on Team USA and doing it with an array of floaters, three pointers, and shifty layups that show off his ability. He was dynamic, he was explosive, he was exceptionally fun to watch. And the NBA will not be seeing the 30 year old again.
Now there are things you can’t overcome, like Navarro’s love for his home, and his comfort with the European league. But as the Grizzlies go into battle night after night with Mike Conley, it should be noted what the league lost when they created an environment that at least contributed to Navarro’s departure. He could have helped the Grizzlies, he could have helped expand the league, and he wouldn’t be yet another member of the Spanish team that decided the NBA wasn’t for them (say hello, Rudy Fernandez). One has to wonder what Ricky Rubio’s experience will be, and if a similar pattern will form.
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.