The Boston Celtics came into Atlanta on the second night of a back-to-back and played with a Hoover Dam’s worth of more electricity and energy than their hosts. The Celtics were pissed about losses, the Hawks were…
We don’t know. Hawks coach Larry Drew doesn’t know. But in some of the most direct post-game comments you are going to hear, he called his team out for possibly partying or doing something the night before games that has them not ready to play.
“I’m disappointed that we are not playing with a hunger. We’re looking to point fingers. We’re playing the blame game. But more importantly, our energy level is not good at all, it’s just not good. We’re not doing things quick, we’re not doing things with speed, we’re not doing things with urgency. I said this after the Milwaukee game, we play like we’re coming off a back-to-back-to-back.
“I told the guys I don’t know what you’re doing the night before we play. I don’t know what you’re doing away from the floor. I don’t know what it is, but something is going on that is not allowing us to play this game with an energy and a passion we should be playing with. As a head coach I’ve got to figure out what it is….
“I’ve got to find out what that is, I’ve got to find out what is going on with our players. I’ve got to find out what they are doing the night before we play. Because this is not the first time this has happened, this is actually the third game.”
The Hawks did not open their locker room to the media after the game and apparently had some more frank discussions.
Hawks management believes in this roster, this core (we have issues at the point guard spot, but we’ll let that slide for now). They think it can grow into challenging the Celtic and Magic in the East. But maturity and effort are at the heart of that kind of champion. Larry Drew gets that, but until his charges soak it in the Hawks have no chance of making the leap to the next level.
Chris Paul is as competitive a guy as there is in the NBA — he and James Harden are not the smoothest fit next to one another, but he would rather team with another star and go hard at the Warriors juggernaut than sit back and collect a check.
That’s why CP3 wanted to go to the Rockets as part of the trade reported Wednesday.
But before he left, he wanted to say thank you to Clippers fans.
Paul is committed to his charity causes, he’s not giving those up. He’s likely keeping his home in Los Angeles, too — L.A. is the unofficial off-season home of the NBA anyway.
While everyone was rightfully raving about the move by the Houston Rockets to trade for Chris Paul — you have to love a team not cowering from the Warriors but willing to take them on Game of Thrones style — there was one little catch. The trade, as first announced, didn’t pencil out.
Because the Rockets were over the cap, this trade needs to be a salary match. The Clippers were getting back nice young players in Sam Decker and Montrezl Harrell, plus a first-round pick, but the salaries still didn’t match up. Then a string of small cash deals for expiring contracts started rolling in.
All those deals are official — and led to one of the funniest tweets of the year.
All three of those players will head to the Clippers as part of the official trade, but then be waived by the Clippers so they don’t actually pay them.
Also of note, by staying above the salary cap line (as opposed to diving below it to absorb CP3’s contract) the Rockets will keep their mid-level exception, giving them a full $8.4 million to spend in free agency to get a role player to help fill out the roster in Houston.
The Rockets are not done big game hunting, GM Daryl Morey is reportedly going after Paul George and maybe free agents such as Paul Millsap. Carmelo Anthony reportedly would like a buyout so he can get to Houston now, but with Phil Jackson gone and $55 million owed over the next few years that seems more up in the air. Regardless, expect the Rockets to keep making small moves to set up big ones.
If you’re going to go toe-to-toe with the Golden State Warriors, you can’t have enough elite talent on the roster. Which is turning the Western Conference into a Game of Thrones.
Houston has James Harden and just added Chris Paul — and GM Daryl Morey is not done, he’s targeting Paul George and other stars. That according to multiple reports from ESPN, starting with Jeff Goodman.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey not done yet, source told ESPN. Harden and CP3. Will try to add a third star to compete with Warriors.
The logistics of this would be difficult, but not impossible. The Pacers want a first-round pick, which the Rockets can include if the Pacers will wait until 2020 (the Rockets 2018 pick goes to the Clippers, 1-3 protected, which means they can’t trade 2019). With Sam Decker traded to LA, the Rockets may not have a young player of interest outside of Clint Capella (the Pacers have Myles Turner at center), but the Rockets have made a series of cash deals for non-guaranteed contracts to make this work with the Clippers and pave the way for future deals.
Also possible, the Rockets look for a way to land Paul Millsap (or maybe a lesser version, like Serge Ibaka) in free agency.
The Rockets also could target guys such as Carmelo Anthony or Dwyane Wade, if they are bought out. Anthony is rumored to want a buyout to go to Houston now, but with Phil Jackson out and being owed $55 million over a couple years, that may not happen.
The point is the Rockets are going all in — they see the window as now and, unlike much of the rest of the West and the NBA, they are not going to wait and hope for the Warriors to wilt in a few years.
When the Knicks hired Phil Jackson, he was a beacon of hope for an organization that had seen dark days. Jackson was going to keep owner James Dolan out of basketball decisions (he did that) and provide a direction for the franchise (he failed to do that).
Now, three year’s later, Jackson is out as president of the Knicks.
That had Knicks fans celebrating on social media.
That’s just a small sampling. So all is good with the Knicks now, right?