UPDATE (5:27 PM EST): Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported that the Mavericks have received a verbal commitment from Peja Stojakovic, who was just waived by the Toronto Raptors this afternoon, to join the team. That’s not a rosy development for Pavlovic, who will almost surely be released at the conclusion of his second 10-day contract.
4:31 PM EST: When Caron Butler was essentially ruled out for the rest of the season, the Mavs needed to find a way to fill minutes until Rodrigue Beaubois was eventually able to return from a foot injury that has sidelined him up to this point. DeShawn Stevenson jumped into the fray and thrived, but Dallas needed more help still. Jason Terry couldn’t log overtime minutes, if only because he was fighting his way out of a slump. Rookie Dominique Jones tried his hand, but has faced serious issues finishing around the rim and doesn’t have much of a jump shot. The deep, veteran roster Donnie Nelson, Mark Cuban, and Rick Carlisle had assembled suddenly looked quite limited, and an injury to Dirk Nowitzki put an unfair amount of pressure on the Mavs supporting cast. Dallas boasts a solid complementary group, but they just didn’t have the offense to overcome the absences of both Butler and Nowitzki.
Yet when 10-day contract season arrived, the Mavs inked Sasha Pavlovic as a short-term option. Pavlovic is not a prolific scorer, and in some of his seasons has been reduced to a bit of a three-point specialist. He was not going to fill in significant minutes on the wing, or provide the Mavs with any kind of instant offense. He seemed like an odd fit, to say the least; his skills are a bit redundant with DeShawn Stevenson already on-board and playing well, and Pavlovic doesn’t generate much offense of his own.
But Pavlovic has played well for Dallas during his short stay, and definitely justified another 10 days with the team — which he was granted, as the team announced this morning — on the strength of his 11-point, three-rebound performance last night against the Lakers. Pavlovic actually joined the starting lineup thanks to Rick Carlisle’s decision to move Shawn Marion back to the bench, and he responded with 5-of-7 shooting in 24 minutes of action. Last night aside, Pavlovic had only made a basket here and there, but he played well in his first round with extended minutes. Based on the strength of last night’s performance, it should be interesting to see if Carlisle elects to keep Pavlovic in the starting five. A vote of confidence that pronounced would certainly bode well for Pavlovic’s long-term chances with the Mavs, and as long as he continues to compete defensively and hit his open looks, Pavlovic seems to have a pretty decent shot of sticking on the roster.
Joakim Noah said in January he wanted to re-sign with the Bulls. Chicago reportedly wants to keep him.
A perfect match?
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:
According to a Bulls player, Noah has been telling teammates the last few weeks that he was done with the organization once free agency begins, and “has no trust in the front office getting this in the right direction.’’
The player was asked if Noah’s feelings had anything to do with first-year coach Fred Hoiberg and the he said, he said that went on early in the season when Noah lost his starting job, and insisted that Noah didn’t offer up that as an explanation.
What was offered up, however, was the fact that there seems to be a complete mistrust that multiple players have toward general manager Gar Forman, with Noah leading the way.
Noah and Hoiberg publicly disagreed about whose choice it was for Noah to come off the bench. Hoiberg said it was Noah’s. Noah said it was Hoiberg’s.
That looked like a petty problem, one both sides could – and maybe did – get over. But it seems Noah has deeper concerns.
This has been a rough year for the Bulls, who missed the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons. That unexpected downturn takes a toll on chemistry and brings buried problems to the surface. That’s especially true considering Chicago fired Tom Thibodeau – a coach who looks better in hindsight. If players miss Thibodeau, that opens the door for them to turn on Forman, who forced out Thibodeau.
That said, the Bulls are probably better off letting Noah walk. He’s 31 and has been banged up the last couple years. I wouldn’t commit big money to him with Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis under contract and the need for faster players to run Hoiberg’s system. Chicago can’t quickly solve its Jimmy Butler–Derrick Rose issue, because Butler is worth keeping and Rose is under contract another year on a difficult-to-trade deal. But shedding Noah and using the resulting cap flexibility elsewhere gets the team headed in the right direction.
For his part, Noah can seek a fresh start – how about with Thibodeau in Minnesota? – and find a team that suits him, either a win-now squad or a younger group seeking veteran leadership.
An Indiana player – Thomas Bryant – who likely would’ve been a first-round pick didn’t even declare for the draft without an agent.
Another Indiana player – Troy Williams – who might not even get picked will stay in the draft.
Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star:
Williams, a 6-foot-7 small forward, is an excellent athlete. He’s not strong enough and hasn’t shown enough awareness to project him defending well in the NBA yet. But his length, quickness and leaping ability give him potential on that end. That and transition offense will have to carry him for now, because his outside shot is unimpressive.
There are players like Williams in every draft. It’s on him to convince a team that he has the work ethic and intelligence to refine his game.
The Warriors are taking a beating on the court, but their turmoil reached heartbreaking levels in Klay Thompson‘s press conference after Game 4.
Thompson, scanning the box score for any semblance of hope, applauded Golden State’s “40 assists” – which would have been the most in a playoff game since 1994. But he quickly realized that couldn’t be right, looked again and sadly announced Golden State had just 15 assists.
Thompson was probably looking at the Warriors’ rebounding total (which was 16 below the Thunder’s).
When Draymond Green kicked Steven Adams in the groin, it did more than create mass debate about the appropriate punishment.
Green hurt Adams badly, it sounds like.
John E. Hoover of The Franchise Tulsa:
Once you finish wincing, take a moment to appreciate how tough Adams is. He kept playing in the game and then came out in Game 4 throwing bullet passes.