The Erick Dampier free agency experiment really has defied easy explanation.
He was bought out by the Charlotte Bobcats back well before the season to save cash, that was a given. Then we expected he would latch on pretty quickly somewhere — he’s a serviceable backup big man who would play for near the minimum, and a lot of teams could use on of those. He met and flirted with teams throughout training camp, a veteran taking his time to avoid some two-a-days before picking a team and jumping in.
That team was Houston, according to his agent just as the season had started. Except that never happened. The official line is the Rockets had to cut a player from their roster to make room for Dampier but they couldn’t find a trade partner. But as much as the Rockets need depth at center, something else is going on here.
Now a few teams that could use a big man — Miami, Phoenix and Toronto — have reopened talks, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
Miami was reportedly where Dampier wanted to go before, but after some initial talks Pat Riley backed away saying the Heat could make do with the guys on the roster (Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Jamaal Maglorie). Kind of like the Rockets just did, which brings up the “why?” question.
However, that whole “go with the guys on the roster” thing hasn’t worked out so well, so Miami is back and talking to Dampier, who is a more complete package than any of their existing bigs not named Bosh. However, Miami would be in the same situation as Houston in needing to make a trade or buy out a guaranteed deal of someone to create a roster spot.
Both Phoenix and Toronto makes sense in that both have had subpar play out of the center position so far this season.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.