Before the season the talk was about the Heat and 72 wins, with everybody sane saying it wouldn’t happen and wasn’t worth the effort. But that never stops the talk.
But the Lakers? They are off to a 7-0 start. They look deeper, they have a healthy Kobe Bryant and a rested Pau Gasol and an inspired Lamar Odom. And they haven’t even gotten Andrew Bynum in the fold yet.
Why not the Lakers and 72 wins? Because Phil Jackson isn’t convinced these Lakers play good enough defense, for one. Also, he’s been down that road and knows a lot of things have to fall your way. Here is his quote from via the Daily News.
“In ’92, after the first championship (with the Bulls), I think we’re 46-3 or 43-6, something like that around the All-Star break,” Jackson recalled. “The owner called me up and said, ‘I hope you’re not trying to win the most games ever won in one season.’
“And I said, ‘Well, we have a lot of depth. We have a young team. I’m not trying to wear them out. We’re just trying to use momentum and win games.’
“That team ended up winning 67 games. They had a little letdown at the end of the season. You get a feel like teams know how to win games and know how to turn it on at the end. They know how to expend the right amount of energy to win a ballgame.
“That really happened with the team in ’95-96. They knew how to blow teams out and put them away in the early part of the second period. Everything kind of fell into place for us, also.
“We went on a long road trip and three of the five teams or eight teams we played on that road trip had injuries to players who were important players. We won seven out of eight games on that road trip. Things like that happened.”
There you go. I’m not going to disagree with Phil Jackson.
Andrea Bargnani said he would’ve played “for free” to prove himself with the Nets last season.
That would have been about the right price.
Bargnani suffered through a miserable season — full of injury, poor individual play and losing. Brooklyn eventually bought him out.
Now, the entire NBA might be finished with the former No. 1 pick.
Bargnani signed with Spanish team Saski Baskonia.
At age 30, he faces a long road back to world’s top league — if he even wants to try. Bargnani is a one-dimensional jump shooter, and he doesn’t even shoot that well.
It was ridiculous for the Knicks to trade a first-rounder for him, and that was three years ago already. Bargnani is only further from his peak now.
Maybe he carves out a niche in Europe, where his lack of physicality is less likely to be exposed. But Bargnani is no longer an NBA player.
The Heat signed Dion Waiters to a room-exception contract.
Heat president Pat Riley, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
“Dion is not a Room Exception player. He wanted to play for the Miami Heat and chose to forgo other more lucrative financial opportunities to be a part of our championship organization. We are very honored that he made the commitment to come to South Florida and sign with us. Dion is young, athletic and explosive, which fits in with our roster. He will add a great dimension for us at the off-guard spot. I really like the depth and versatility that we now have in our perimeter positions. Welcome aboard Dion!”
I’m really curious about those “more lucrative financial opportunities.”
The Thunder didn’t think Waiters was worth his one-year, $6,777,589 qualifying offer. They earmarked that money for a Russell Westbrook renegotiation-and-extension and don’t define the market themselves. But every team has other uses for its money than paying Waiters, and none deemed Waiters a priority.
How much could Waiters have gotten next season if he signed a multi-year deal rather than the 1+1 he inked with Miami? The whole “Waiters betting on himself” narrative falls apart if nobody was willing to bet more more on Waiters.
The 24-year-old is talented. But his ball-hogging, drifting focus and me-first attitude can be infuriating.
It behooves Riley to paint Waiters as more than a room-exception player, because that enhances Riley’s reputation as someone who lures free agents for less than market value. A big-time compliment from the influential Riley might have even part of Waiters’ contract negotiation.
But there’s a reason Waiters signed for the room exception. It has something to do with the type of player he is.
The Clippers don’t just play second fiddle to the Lakers in Los Angeles. They play second fiddle to the Lakers in their own arena.
Unless the Clippers want to move from the NBA’s second-biggest market, the former isn’t changing.
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:
The Clippers want to escape the Lakers’ shadow. Leaving the Staples Center wouldn’t turn the Clippers into L.A.’s team, but it’d give them a new avenue for attention — and revenue.
Of course, if the Clippers stay in the Staples Center, they’ll want the best terms possible. Leaking interest in a new arena only helps their bargaining position.
The small forward of the Wizards’ dreams, Kevin Durant, plays for the Warriors.
So, Washington is left with Otto Porter.
How do the Wizards feel about that?
J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:
Otto Porter appears likely to become a restricted free agent next summer, with no movement towards an extension to his rookie scale contract with the Wizards before starting the 2016-17 season, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com.
Porter, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 draft, has steadily improved in his three NBA seasons. He didn’t exactly take off last season from his breakout 2015 playoffs, but he’s still on an upward trend.
Just 23, Porter should continue in the right direction.
The combo forward a good and long defender. He gets out well in transition, shoots reasonably well from outside and minimizes his mistakes.
Without knowing offer terms, it’s impossible to say whether the Wizards are waiting to see more or Porter is betting on himself. Quite possibly, it’s somewhere in between.