In the games leading up to the Cavaliers record in futility — 25 consecutive losses in a row — there were a lot of things you could pick apart about the Cavs: The lack of guys who can create their own shot, the lack of rebounding, the poor execution, the non-existent interior defense, and so on and so on.
But you couldn’t question the effort. Certainly motivated by not wanting to be part of history, the Cavs played hard. That wasn’t enough, but the effort was there.
Until Wednesday. Cleveland laid an egg against a beatable Pistons team. Coach Byron Scott, for the first time in a long time, went off on his team, as reported by the Plain Dealer.
“I’m mad as hell because … I can deal with losing, especially when our guys play as hard as they have in the last couple weeks,” he said. “But I find it very hard to deal with when guys don’t come out ready to play.”
“I thought we took a gigantic step backwards and it was all because of lack of effort,” the coach said. “We had no sense of urgency whatsoever, and that kind of amazes me. When we’ve lost as many in a row as we lost and when you’ve been as close as we’ve been in the last four or five games and to be at home and come out the way we came out — that amazes me.”
Next up for the Cavaliers, the Los Angeles Clippers, who have been playing better of late — and are far, far more athletic up front than Cleveland — but are still a team the Cavs could beat. Then Sunday is the “toilet bowl” — the 0-25 on the road Washington Wizards come to town. Circle your calendars for that. It promises to be, um, amazing. Maybe amazing like a car wreck, but amazing.
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?