On the off chance you haven’t caught some of the Idaho Stampede of the D-League this season — what cave have you been living in? — we have a little note for you:
Antoine Walker is playing pretty well. He is averaging 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4 assists per game.
Dime Magazine has a Q&A with Greg Minor, a former teammate of Walker in Boston who is now an assistant coach for Idaho. He says that the maturity of Walker — both of person and game — makes him stand out at the D-League level.
In terms of his personality, he’s been through a lot. I don’t want to discuss those experiences, but they have helped shape him in a way that has him appreciate life more. Everyone here in the Idaho Stampede family really support him.
I think the most important thing about his game at this level is that his basketball IQ is just so much higher. After 13 seasons in the NBA, a former NBA All-Star, there’s some value in that. I think he still passes the ball really great, and he can get to certain spots on the floor. He’s a presence in the locker room as players gravitate towards him. He’s made it clear that he’s no different that anybody else, and there’s no one different than the team. He’s made guys buy into the want to get to that next level, and guys really respect that.
But can Walker get back to the NBA?
That’s up to him. The amount of time that he puts in, the amount of energy he expends, I think he’s determined. Who wouldn’t want to excel at this level to get a chance to be called up at this stage of his career? He knows the window is closing, and there’s a sense of urgency.
It’s a long shot, NBA teams are going to want real value out of Walker to bring him in as opposed to a young player they might be able to develop. But if his conditioning gets there, this is about all you can ask of him. It would be interesting.
“They beat us from the three-point line the last two games, we beat them from everywhere else,” Kevin Durant said after Game 7.
He’s right. For most of seven games the Oklahoma City Thunder owned play inside the arc — their length and athleticism gave the Warriors tremendous trouble. But the Warriors had the three ball as the equalizer — or, it turns out, slightly more than the equalizer. Golden State shot their way to a series win by knocking down threes the last two games. Often contested, well-defended threes.
Above check out the 17 threes the Warriors nailed in Game 7 (on 37 attempts, or 45.9 percent shooting). There’s a lot of Stephen Curry (7) and Klay Thompson (6) in those highlights.
The Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the Golden State Warriors. A rematch of the highest-rated NBA Finals since the Jordan era, which you know makes the suits at ABC/ESPN/Disney happy. But it’s also good for fans, these are the best teams from each conference, and it should be an interesting matchup.
The NBA has moved away from the Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday pattern of games the NBA Finals has followed for years. Below is the schedule for this year’s Finals, all times are Eastern, and all the games will be broadcast on ABC.
Game 1 – June 2 (Thursday) at Golden State 9:00PM
Game 2 – June 5 (Sunday) at Golden State 8:00PM
Game 3 – June 8 (Wednesday) at Cleveland 9:00 PM
Game 4 –Fri June 10 (Friday) at Cleveland 9:00PM
Game 5 * — Mon June 13 (Monday) at Golden State 9:00PM
Game 6 * — Thu June 16 (Thursday) at Cleveland 9:00 PM
Game 7 * — June 19 (Sunday) at Golden State 8:00 PM
* means if necessary
Joel Embiid has a great sense of humor.
I’m sure if Kevin Durant were going to consider going to Philadephia — instead his hometown Wizards, or the Knicks, Lakers, Heat, Warriors, or (the most likely option) staying put with the Thunder — he’d want to get the advice of a guy who has yet to play one NBA game.
Not long after the Warriors eliminated the Thunder from the playoffs — making Durant a free agent — Embiid tweeted this.
Needless to say, KD is not going to go to the Sixers. GM Bryan Colangelo says the team is in the market for veterans, but this may be aiming a little too high.
Durant said after Game 7 he hasn’t thought about free agency yet.
The smart money remains on Durant signing a two-year deal with an opt-out after one year with the Thunder, keeping that roster together for a year so they can make one more run at a ring (you can’t get much closer than the Thunder did this season). Then in the summer of 2017 Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams and Dion Waiters will all be free agents.
Maybe one of them goes to the Sixers then. But I wouldn’t bet on it.
David Blatt said he was going to be a head coach somewhere next season.
That turned out not to be in the NBA, where he interviewed and was in the running for the head coaching jobs with the Nets, Knicks, and Rockets but didn’t land any of them. So rather than be a lead assistant, or just wait the market out, he is headed back to Europe, Turkey in particular, reports David Pick, a well-connected basketball reporter.
Darussafaka Dogus is based out of Istanbul and was in the EuroLeague for the first time last season (that’s the highest level of European basketball, featuring the best teams from leagues around the continent, similar to the Champions League in soccer). Darussafaka is trying to climb the ladder and compete with the traditional powers of Turkish basketball, Fenerbahçe and Turkey Anadolu Efes. The Darussafaka roster includes Sixers’ Summer League standout Scottie Wilbekin, Luke Harangody, Jamon Gordon, and Reggie Redding from the United States.
Hiring Blatt, who had tremendous success in Europe before coming to the NBA, would be a coup for the club. One they certainly are paying handsomely for.
Blatt won 67.5 percent of his games over a season-and-a-half with the Cavaliers and guided the team to the NBA Finals, but he never fully meshed with LeBron James and the Cavs veterans. Part of that was on Blatt — he demanded respect for his time spent and success in Europe, and that plus his need to be the smartest guy in the room rubbed players the wrong way. Blatt wasn’t humbly trying to earn respect, and the players went to current Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue when frustrated with Blatt. Eventually, Cavaliers management turned to Lue to coach the team because of team chemistry concerns.
Blatt deserved another chance in the NBA, but that didn’t come this summer. We’ll see if his return to Europe impacts that in the future.