Stephen Jackson, D.J. Augustin, Gerald Wallace

There’s no pressure on D.J. Augustin…except for running his team’s offense

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Pardon me for being redundant, but the Charlotte Bobcats are going to have a very uncomfortable season if D.J. Augustin remains their starting point guard. It’s not that the Bobcats’ roster has any superior alternatives, but this team is hurting badly for a true replacement for Raymond Felton, and Augustin isn’t the man.

Only for now, he has to be. Shaun Livingston is injured, Sherron Collins is Sherron Collins, and handing over control of the offense to Stephen Jackson on a full-time basis is a recipe for failure. Augustin is Charlotte’s great hope at point guard, and at best, he’s a sweet shooter, a decent playmaker, and a defensive sieve. More realistically, he’s still a bad defender while shooting well from outside (where Augustin has shot 42% for his career) and displaying questionable decision-making. Raymond Felton wasn’t some idyllic point guard, but his defense and steady play helped turn the Bobcats into a legitimate playoff team, and Augustin’s promotion rocks the boat. Charlotte still seems due for a repeat playoff appearance, but with such uncertainty at the point, nothing seems safe.

The Bobcats, for their part, are predictably singing Augustin’s praises, and Augustin, for his, is playing confident. From Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse:

With his safety net gone, Augustin has become the quiet key to the upstart Charlotte Bobcats, prepared to show now he belongs in the NBA, and they belong back in the playoffs. “Nacho Libre (Augustin), he’s the head to this monster,” [Stephen] Jackson said. “And as he goes, we’ll go this season. We need him to succeed. We need him to run things the proper way. And I think will. He’s going to surprise all those people who already counted him out.”

…The Bobcats reached the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season, winning 44 games, but the prospects of improving, or even repeating, clearly rests with Augustin. “There’s no pressure, it’s just basketball,” Augustin said. “I can’t tell you about the future, but I hope to make us better. I’ve got to be ready.”

First and foremost: it cannot be ignored that D.J. Augustin’s nickname is apparently “Nacho Libre.” Alrighty then.

Augustin doesn’t see running the Bobcats as a high-pressure situation (or if he does, is smart enough not to express that concern publicly), and this is a good thing. No one wants to see Augustin caught like a deer in the headlights of Larry Brown’s 18-wheeler, and he needs to believe he can do the job even if those of us on the outside suppose that he can’t. There’s nothing wrong with what Augustin said, with the exception that it’s wrong. There is pressure. The Bobcats aren’t a team shooting for the title, they’re aiming for the back end of the playoffs and the sweet, sweet revenue they provide. There is pressure to perform. There is pressure to appease LB. There is pressure to keep Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, and all of Augustin’s Bobcats teammates happy while still running the show efficiently.

Pretending otherwise is foolish, and yet that’s exactly what we demand Augustin do as a part of the media game.

Rajon Rondo: You couldn’t name three players on 2015-16 Kings, but I led NBA in assists

SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 09:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Sacramento Kings dribbles the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Sleep Train Arena on March 9, 2016 in Sacramento, California. 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Months into his first and only season with the Kings, Rajon Rondo declared himself to be the first veteran teammate ever respected by DeMarcus Cousins.

As he deals with new problems with the Bulls, Rondo is again trashing his former Sacramento teammates.

Rondo, via David Aldridge of NBA.com:

“It’s just, maybe, the personnel in this situation,” Rondo says in response. “I mean, last year — I hate to keep talking about last year — but you couldn’t name three people on my team, the Sacramento Kings, and I led the league in assists. You know? I don’t know. I believe so (that his skill set still has value), given the right personnel and the flow of the game.”

Rondo is right: Playing with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade is not ideal, and his passing was an asset to the Kings.

He’s also proving his critics right: He’s too often a jerk.

Rondo has declined significantly overall, particularly on defense. His plus passing is barely enough to make him rotation-worthy. It’s not enough for teams cast aside his hardheadedness.

But is Rondo right that you can’t name three members of the 2015-16 Kings? Take this quiz to find out:

Report: Nike doesn’t plan to make sleeved NBA jerseys

LeBron James
AP Photo/Tony Dejak
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Sleeved NBA jerseys sell poorly. Players dislike them.

So, the NBA switching from adidas to Nike is apparently an excuse to ditch the sleeves.

Sara Germano of The Wall Street Journal, via Paul Lukas of Uni Watch:

Nike, meanwhile, is expected to present its initial NBA jersey designs to retailers beginning this week. The company said it doesn’t plan to produce sleeved jerseys, a style debuted by Adidas in 2013 that received mixed reviews from players and fans.

Whether or not sleeves were introduced for ad space, uniform advertisements are still coming. The ads can fit on standard jerseys, no problem.

At this point, there’s just little to no upside for sleeved jerseys.

Nostalgia will treat sleeves better than present-day evaluations, but until we look back wistfully on this mostly failed experiment, good riddance.

Report: Carmelo Anthony twice asked to meet with Phil Jackson, who will get around to it soon

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson watches from the stands during the second half of the Knicks' NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Madison Square Garden in New York, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017.  The Pelicans won 110-96. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Despite sounding like he wanted a conversation with Phil Jackson, Carmelo Anthony said he hadn’t spoken with the Knicks president since Phil Jackson mouthpiece Charley Rosen wrote Anthony no longer fit in New York.

It hasn’t been for a lack of effort.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

If you’re trying to keep up with the Jackson-Anthony feuds, their previous meeting came after Jackson publicly critiqued Anthony’s ball-hogging.

That affair should’ve provided a sense of Jackson’s communication skills. This latest episode only reinforces it.

The Knicks were in New York on Thursday, when Rosen’s article was published. They played in Toronto on Sunday and returned home for a game yesterday. That’s plenty of time for Jackson and Anthony to talk.

Why hasn’t it happened yet?

Isaiah Thomas on pace to break modern-era fourth-quarter scoring record

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With seven and a half minutes left, Isaiah Thomas drained a 3-pointer, held up his left wrist and stared at it.

It was time.

His time.

Thomas scored 17 fourth-quarter points in the Celtics’ win over the Hornets yesterday.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Thomas said. “It just surprises everybody else.”

It shouldn’t any longer.

Boston has won seven of eight, and in that span, Thomas has scored most of the Celtics’ fourth-quarter points. He has pushed his fourth-quarter scoring average to 10.1 for the season – putting him on track to break the modern-era record.

Kobe Bryant scored 9.5 fourth-quarter points per game in 2006, the most in the previous 20 years (as far back as NBA.com has data). The leaderboard:

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Russell Westbrook is also on track to surpass Kobe and join this rarified air. LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade are the only other players to average even eight fourth-quarter points per game in a season over the previous 20 years. Not even Michael Jordan (7.1 in 1997, 7.3 in 1998) did it.

Boston’s offense has blasted into the stratosphere with Thomas on the court in the fourth quarter, scoring 122.1 points per 100 possessions. However, the Celtics allow even more with him on the floor in the final period (122.8 points per 100 possessions). The 5-foot-9 point guard has limits.

But where those limits exist when it comes to his clutch scoring – we haven’t found them yet.