It’s all but official — Lamar Odom will be named Sixth Man of the Year today.
He was expected to be the clear winner (Dallas’ Jason Terry was the only other serious candidate mentioned by voters). The Lakers have called a press conference for a hotel in Los Angeles for 3 p.m. Pacific time. Since the standard operating procedure is for a player to be announced the winner of an award a day before a home playoff game (which the Lakers have Wednesday) it’s pretty easy to guess what is going on here.
Odom had the best year of his career, coming out of playing for Team USA in Turkey and carrying that momentum over to the league, doing away with the slow starts he is known for and averaging 14.4 points per game. Odom shot a career best 53 percent this season and 38.3 percent from three (also a career best 59.8 true shooting percentage).
Odom was asked to play a number of roles for the team and fit into them seamlessly. He also had the highest PER of any non starter this season (19.4, borderline All-Star level). Basically any way you wanted to break it down he was the best sixth man in the league this season.
The only knock was that Odom started 35 games for the Lakers due to injuries to bigs in front of him. Which seems a misplaced argument to me — isn’t what you want out of a sixth man is someone who can step into the starter’s role and have the team not miss a beat? (The league rule is that as long as you came off the bench more games than you started, you are eligible, and Odom came off the bench for 47.)
We’ll update this when it becomes official, but you can start raising your glasses in a toast to Odom now. You know all those reality show producers at E! were excited (once they looked up what the award was).
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.