Sundiata Gaines, Stephen Curry

Even in the NBA right place, right time gets you a job

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We live in a fantasy world where we like to believe that making it to the NBA is a meritocracy — only the very best get there because of skill and effort, not luck.

But why should the NBA be any different than where you work? You’re telling me the hierarchy at your office is based solely on merit? Your boss is really that smart?

Sure, if you bring Kobe/LeBron/Durant skills and effort to the table you are in. But when it gets to guys 10-15 on the roster there are a lot of factors that come into play. Luck is one of them.

Case in point, we bring you Sundiata Gaines.

He has bounced around the NBA with a bunch of short-term deals — and one crazy game winner — in the past year. And he was out of work again when New Jersey called just before the team left for games in London, as the Star-Ledger reports (via Ball Don’t Lie):

When the Nets realized they needed to sign a guard to bring with them to London because of injuries to point guards Deron Williams and Jordan Farmar, Gaines happened to be home in New York, which was convenient, and he also had a valid passport, which was essential.

“I just came home — I was in Minnesota — and New Jersey happened to call me, and asked me if I had a passport and if I could go to London, and I said, ‘I have my passport,’ ’’ Gaines explained.

Gaines got the call late Sunday night, Feb. 27, he said. The Nets had a home game against Phoenix the next night, and were leaving right after the game. Time was of the essence. Orien Greene, who had been with the team for an earlier stint, wasn’t near enough to get to New Jersey in time, so the Nets called Gaines, who three weeks earlier had been released by Toronto.

Gaines has some skills — he’s played well enough for the Nets to extend his deal though next season. But luck matters in life. And in the NBA.

Lou Williams hits halfcourt buzzer-beater (video)

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Yeah, the Lakers lost to the Rockets, 134-95, Wednesday. But consider how lopsided that margin would’ve been without Lou Williams‘ halfcourt buzzer-beater.

And if this headline looks familiar, it is.

LeBron James, Cavaliers do water-bottle challenge on bench during blowout win over Knicks (video)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, left, and Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson entertain themselves by flipping a water bottle trying to get it to land on it's flat bottom during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 126-94, and most starters left the game for the bench at the end of the fourth quarter. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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LeBron James did his part – scoring 25 points (on just 10 shots!), dishing seven assists and grabbing six rebounds – to give the Cavaliers an insurmountable lead over the Knicks through three quarters. So, he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter.

As Cleveland put the finishing touches on its 126-94 win, boredom set it. LeBron and a few of his teammates tried to flip a water bottle and have it land upright on the floor. LeBron even dove onto the court to pull the bottle back in after an errant flip!

No, Phil Jackson should not have used the word “posse” to describe LeBron’s business associates and friends. But this is the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen – and I love it.

DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) receives a blow to the head from Dallas Mavericks' Dwight Powell as Cousins works to get to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:

So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?

“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”

“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”

“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”

Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.

And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.

Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?

LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)

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LeBron James is dominating, and the Cavaliers are rolling over the Knicks.

It’s almost as if something has LeBron particularly riled up. But maybe ease up a little? That cowering fan isn’t Phil Jackson.