As Kurt noted earlier today, Jonathan Abrams of the New York Times reported that the Knicks are looking for backup point guard help on the cheap, in order to keep Raymond Felton as rested and healthy as possible.
That news immediately calls the future of Toney Douglas to the forefront of the conversation. Douglas ran the point for the Knicks at times last season, manned the 1 at the Vegas Summer League, and indeed, does supply some minutes behind Felton. However, those concerned that the addition of another point guard would bury Douglas in the rotation need not worry; while the knowledge of the Knicks’ interests does give us a solid read on Mike D’Antoni’s opinion of Douglas’ playmaking skills at present, it’s hardly a death sentence for New York’s young scoring guard.
According to 82games.com, the lineups in which Douglas is used most frequently used actually feature Felton running the point with Douglas as the off guard. In fact, Douglas is currently using 26% of the Knicks’ shooting guard minutes, compared to just 20% of the available point guard minutes. While that playing time at PG is sure to decrease or even disappear altogether should the Knicks find their suitable backup, Douglas will still log minutes in the backcourt and could conceivably see his time at shooting guard increase. Abrams’ report detailed that the Knicks may be open to moving swingman Bill Walker, and if Walker does end up as an outgoing component in any trade, that would free up an additional 15% of the Knicks’s shooting guard minutes for players like Douglas to claim.
It’s possible that Douglas’ overall minutes could take a slight dip if the team no longer needs him to take care of ball-handling/playmaking responsibilities, but he’d also be freed up to create for himself without having to worry about triggering the offense.
If Douglas’ underground supporters in NYC should be worried about anything, it’s the eventual return of Kelenna Azubuike. Azubuike was once considered the favorite to start for the Knicks at the 2, but a bum knee has prevented him from playing any games thus far this season. Azubuike continues to recover and rehab, and once he’s ready to make his Knicks debut, he’ll surely take a slice of everyone’s minutes at shooting guard. Douglas’ playing time should more or less be safe until then (even if his responsibilities change slightly), but Azubuike poses a real threat of pushing Douglas down a peg in the rotation.
The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.
Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.
Royce Young of ESPN:
I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.
Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.
But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.
Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.
New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.
Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:
We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?
In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?
Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,
If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.
There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.
But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.
It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.
The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:
- Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
- Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)
Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.
Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.
Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.
It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.