David West’s season is over, and thus, the Hornets’ season is over. New Orleans will still likely hold onto their playoff spot (though with West sidelined, a tough schedule ahead, and Houston on a roll, maybe we shouldn’t even take that much for granted), but even the slim chance the Hornets had to make it out of the first round has been entirely erased.
Yet the Hornets will still do what they can to finish out the season to their best of their collective ability. Jason Smith and Carl Landry will come into more minutes, and will need to produce more for the team to stay afloat. Chris Paul will have to fight through more defensive pressure than ever. And Dell Demps has already made a small move to fill West’s roster spot by signing D-Leaguer Patrick Ewing Jr. to a 10-day contract, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
Ewing isn’t tailor-made to fill West’s shoes; positionally, he just doesn’t provide the same fit, and it’s unlikely that he’ll actually log any time at power forward. He’s actually a much more natural backup for Trevor Ariza, and unfortunately, he’s a bit too much like Trevor Ariza, only without the same defensive pedigree. Ewing shares in Ariza’s love for the ill-advised jumper, and though his physical gifts are considerable, he struggles to maintain offensive efficiency as a result of that poor decision-making. Still, Ewing is worth a look, even if he isn’t necessarily the best D-League prospect available. The production (Ewing has averaged 19.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game for the Sioux Falls Skyforced) and athleticism are there, but it remains to be seen if Ewing can understand his role on the pro level.
“We’re confident because we know if we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, we’re going to beat them… We are better than them.”
That was young Rockets center Clint Capela after the Rockets beat the Warriors last Saturday night, feeling confident.
Asked about it, Kevin Durant shot Capela down, saying he’s not the guy that should be commenting.
There are no easy jobs in the NBA. It takes a lot of work physically, a good mental feel for the game, and the right opportunity just to get a chance. That said, some NBA jobs are simpler and more straightforward than others. On offense, Capela is not the ball handler and creator making a lot of decisions, things are simple for him — and he executes them. He’s shooting 66.6 percent this season — he does what he does well.
Houston took two of three from Golden State this season, and while that is far from doing it in a playoff series it should be a confidence boost for Houston if/when they go up against Golden State.
The stagnant Milwaukee Bucks shook things up by firing head coach Jason Kidd Monday.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was not happy with the news. So much he called up Kidd and offered to help save his job, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
Antetokounmpo is understandably close to Kidd — he’s been the coach who helped transform the Greek Freak into an NBA superstar. Kidd is on his way to the Hall of Fame as a player, and as a coach had the vision to put the ball in Antetokounmpo’s hands as a point guard. Antetokounmpo trusted Kidd.
However, the Bucks’ growth has been stagnant — this is a team where the players talked about being a 50-win, top-four team in the East with a strong defense, instead they are a team on the way to around .500, barely hanging onto a playoff spot, with the point differential of a team that wins 36 games. They are not taking a step forward, and the Bucks — with the approval of ownership, which was very close to Kidd at one time — approving the move.
There was nothing Antetokounmpo could have done. It’s life in the NBA. That doesn’t mean he has to like it.
Having lost three games in a row at home, doubt seems to have crept into the minds of some Celtics fans. They’re the top seed in the East (and likely finish the season in that slot, again), but just how good are they really? Do they have enough to knock off the Cavaliers and LeBron James when he goes into playoff mode?
In the midst of that self-doubt, the wife of Gordon Hayward, Robyn, posted this.
For Boston fans still holding out hope Hayward returns this season, this is another sign. No brace, no chair, he’s draining threes. It’s a step forward.
This video also borders on meaningless — he’s not jumping, not moving, not showing us anything about his recovery we didn’t already know. Good to see him up and making progress, but that he can hit stand-still threes in an empty gym is about as shocking as finding out the next Transformers movie is going to suck.
Officially, Hayward is still out for the season. He’s putting in the work, and maybe he returns before the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him back for this season. Nor should they. The Celtics are on a multi-year plan to be the next dominant team in the East, no reason to push him and risk anything now.
The Bucks have been a team of unfulfilled potential for a few seasons now, two steps up and one step back. Last season they were 42-40 and bounced in the first round of the playoffs, this season they are 23-22 and the eighth seed in the East, with the point differential of a team that should be 20-25 and on its way to a 36-win season.
That cost Jason Kidd his job.
That has not sat well with the team’s superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.
You can’t blame Antetokounmpo, Kidd has been his coach the past three-and-a-half seasons and guided the Greek Freak’s rise to superstardom. Kidd also was the one who put the ball in Antetokounmpo’s hands and made him both the defacto point guard on the team and one of the league’s most dangerous players. Kidd did some very good things with these Bucks, and Antetokounmpo is understandably loyal to the man.
However, Antetokounmpo is under contract at a near-max salary until the summer of 2021, so he has no real leverage here.
Elite coaches will be lined up for a chance to coach Antetokounmpo and a very talented Bucks roster, but whoever gets the job next summer has to connect with the superstar first. Kidd had done that.