Indiana Pacers v Golden State Warriors

Keith Smart thinks Keith Smart should keep his job

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Keith Smart’s job was in danger the moment he signed a contract without a guaranteed second year.

Not that he had a lot of choice. And Smart knew if he did well enough he would be back. But there are plenty of people in the Bay Area that do not think he has done near enough, that this team underachieved. Because that Warriors roster is loaded with balanced talent… oh, wait a second.

Smart is on the hot seat and may well not be back next season, but he made his case to the San Francisco Chronicle of why he should stay.

“I would say that anywhere else, other than right here, people would look at it and say it was a good season,” Smart said before Sunday’s game against Sacramento. “I’ve done everything I could possibly do, and for some strange reason, people (don’t recognize it).

“Anywhere else in the country, people would say we are moving in the right direction….”

Smart laid out his personal evaluation. He said he has changed the climate of a previously poisonous locker room, pointing out that the team had fewer fines this season. Also, the team accepted forward Al Thornton’s late-season acquisition without worrying about losing minutes or shots.

The Warriors went into Sunday’s game 11 wins ahead of last season’s pace, an improvement that ranked behind only Chicago, San Antonio and New Jersey. Smart said he won more games than could have been expected with the Warriors’ roster, and playoff expectations were unrealistic as the team is currently constructed.

He’s right about that. Unless there was a tremendous revival of Andris Biedrins, and a few other breaks, this team was not playoff material. Their offense still remained strong — 108.1 points per 100 possessions this season and last — but their defense got a little better (110.6 points per 100 possessions this season compared to 111.7 last season). They also stopped playing at a reckless pace. But Smart’s use of Stephen Curry and the still unimpressive defense led to legitimate complaints. The question is how much could another coach have really done that was better.

That may not matter, it sounds more and more like owner Joe Lacob has his own plans. And Smart is not part of them.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.