Mike D’Antoni looks across the court at the Boston Celtics and knows that Shaquille O’Neal is going to lineup at center come Sunday night when the playoff series opens.
He’s countering with Ronny Turiaf, who will start for the Knicks at center in the series, D’Antoni announced Wednesday, according to ESPNNewYork.com.
“Because I think we play better with Ronny on the floor. That would be the reason: We’re a better team,” D’Antoni said.
Go ahead and shake your head at D’Antoni’s decision, but his other options are Shelden Williams and Jared Jeffries. He has no good options. If Willis Reed limps out of the tunnel he might still be D’Antoni’s best choice at this point.
According to Basketball Value, the lineup of Chauncey Billups, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Turiaf was outscored in the 94 minutes it was on the floor and had a defensive rating of 107.3 (points per 100 possessions). And that is D’Antoni’s best defensive option.
Swap Jared Jeffries in for Turiaf and the defensive rating gets worse (109.8 points per 100 possessions) but the offense jumps dramatically with that unit (16 points per 100 possessions better than when Turiaf is in). Williams seems to be the worst of the three with a defensive rating of 119.8 with that unit.
Look for all three guys to get minutes at center, and look for D’Antoni to look everywhere for lineups that work for him. He’s outmatched and will be forced to try anything and everything.
But for starters he’s leaning defense, and that means Turiaf gets the start.
Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.
Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.
This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.
The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.
Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.
McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.
McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.
If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?
Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.
It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.
The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.
The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.
But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.
Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.
Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.