Our first word of advice for this game — wear sunglasses. Yes, we know you are watching on television. But the Hornets are going with a “sea of yellow” look (all the fans getting yellow T-shirts) and it will the Hornets uniforms themselves (they got permission to wear the alternate yellow jerseys). It will be like looking into the sun. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
You want to save those retinas because this should be a game to watch.
Because this is a big game where the big stars may well be the key.
Often in big road games, Kobe Bryant comes out aggressive and tries to shut the crowd up himself with a fast start. Sometimes it works, but it also can take the Lakers out of their flow. Just to reiterate the point everyone knows — the Lakers strength is their length and skill on the front line and the triangle is much better working inside out. Not that there will not be a time for Kobe to do his thing, but he has to play well with others.
You can bet Chris Paul is going to come out with that same kind of fire. If the Lakers try to defend him as individuals as they did in Game 1, he will carve them up again. Paul has flat out been the best player in this series. The Lakers big men are key here, they cut off his angles of attack off the pick-and-roll well in Game 2. You can bet Paul will adjust. Or he could just get hot draining jumpers.
You’re also not going to see a full night of Kobe on CP3, fighting over the top of picks. But you can bet Kobe will be on him for key stretches.
The guy who may be the real key is the Lakers No. 2 option — Pau Gasol.
The Hornets have kept him in check through two games — he has averaged 8 points per game on 21.1 percent shooting. The Lakers are not going to win games in New Orleans without more from him. Expect the Lakers to run some screens along the baseline to get Gasol more room to catch the ball without having to fight Emeka Okafor and Carl Landry for space. Expect to see Gasol put the ball on the floor a little more and try to get to the line. If he gets going the Hornets will have a hard time containing the Lakers attack. If the Hornets can keep him uncomfortable they have a real chance.
One other thought — best bench may get its team enough of a lead that the starters will hold it.
One day after he was indicted for oil and gas conspiracy, Thunder minority owner Aubrey McClendon died in a single-car crash.
Now, his ownership stake could be tied up in court.
Ryan Dezember And Kevin Helliker of The Wall Street Journal:
Collapsing oil prices in late 2014 strained the new oil-and-gas empire he had assembled, and he struggled in his final year to raise more cash to keep it afloat.
Oklahoma records show he had pledged assets as collateral for loans, including his roughly 20% stake of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, fine wine, investments in tech startups and antique boats.
Lawyers for Mr. McClendon’s creditors have said they think Mr. McClendon, who during his Chesapeake heyday was a billionaire, left behind more debt than assets. The entrepreneur’s debts so far amount to about $500 million, according to Oklahoma probate records.
But Martin Stringer, a lawyer for Mr. McClendon’s estate, said claiming it is insolvent is “incorrect” because “nobody has the facts,” according to a transcript of a May probate court hearing. The value of many assets “depends on commodity prices,” he added.
Mr. McClendon’s creditors, which so far range from Wall Street banks to a former employee to a farm-equipment maker, have until Sept. 16 to file claims.
Clay Bennett remains the Thunder’s controlling owner, so the team will likely remain stable. But there’s still potential for this to get a little messy.
The Jazz just traded Tibor Pleiss to the 76ers in a salary dump. Utah gets Kendall Marshall in a procedural move and will waive the point guard whose salary is unguaranteed.
What’s next for Marshall and Pleiss?
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports on Marshall:
several league executives still believe there’s a spot in the league for him as a backup point guard.
Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly:
If so many executives believe Marshall belongs in the NBA, he’ll get signed. I have some doubts.
Marshall was curiously undervalued when he was younger and healthier. Now, he’s coming off a dreadful season in Philadelphia. A 2015 torn ACL still raises major doubts about Marshall’s ability to play even tolerable defense. His outside shooting has also regressed after blooming with the Lakers and Bucks.
Still, he’s a plus passer and just 25. He has a chance.
Pleiss is also coming off a lousy year, and he’s even older. He’ll turn 27 in the season’s second week, though he has played only one NBA season – and most of it was in the D-League. The 7-foot-3 Pleiss has plenty of size and a little shooting touch, but the 76ers don’t have playing time behind Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid to develop him. Pleiss likely returns to Europe.
Jae Crowder – one of the NBA’s most underrated players – went to the Celtics from the Mavericks in the Rajon Rondo trade (which, in hindsight, should be called the Jae Crowder trade). He then re-signed with Boston on an absurdly cheap contract.
But the Knicks could’ve had him instead.
New York traded Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Mavericks for a package of middling assets in June 2014. One of those middling assets was the No. 34 pick in the upcoming draft. It could’ve been Crowder.
Knicks president Phil Jackson, via Charley Rosen of Today’s Fastbreak:
I think the biggest mistake I made was actually this…One of the first deals I engineered when I came back to New York was to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas for Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, plus a second-round pick that the Mavs owed to the Celtics. In talking with Boston, I was given the option of taking that pick or else taking Jae Crowder. I liked Crowder but I thought he wouldn’t get much of a chance to play behind Carmelo, so I took the pick which turned out to be Cleanthony Early. While Cleanthony has missed lots of time in the past two seasons with us, he still has the potential to be a valuable player. Even so, I should have taken Crowder.
I’m not sure what the Celtics had to do with this. Crowder was with Dallas then, and so was the No. 34 pick that became Early (though that selection was originally Boston’s before a 2013 draft-night trade with the Mavericks). Jackson wouldn’t have been negotiating with the Celtics at all. My guess: Rosen got mixed up in his transcription.
Anyway, yeah, that stinks for the Knicks.
This is definitely an after-the-fact critique. Crowder hadn’t come into his own yet.
But he and Carmelo Anthony could’ve played together as combo forwards. The beauty of Crowder’s game is his ability to fit with anyone. So, Jackson’s logic leaves plenty to be desired. Passing on Crowder because an early second-rounder appeared more valuable at the time is far more defensible.
That Early is already out of the league only adds to the sting.
On the bright side, Crowder would’ve made the Knicks better and maybe cost them Kristaps Porzingis – who’s even more valuable than Crowder.
You can remove Sam Hinkie from Philadelphia, but you can’t pull the 76ers out of The Process.
Not immediately, at least.
Hinkie slashed payroll so drastically, a spending spree that included Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson and Sergio Rodriguez still left the 76ers with more cap space than they know what to do with. So, Philadelphia is making another Hinkie-esque move – getting draft picks in a salary dump.
The Jazz signed second-rounder Joel Bolomboy, making him their 15th player with a guaranteed 2015-16 salary. Rather than eating Tibor Pleiss‘ salary to make room for Jeff Withey, an NBA-caliber center on an unguaranteed deal, Utah is sending the 76ers draft picks to handle that financial burden.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Kendall Marshall‘s contract is unguaranteed until Sept. 2. Expect the Jazz to waive him before then. Then, they can keep Withey – or maybe Chris Johnson (unguaranteed) or Marcus Paige (partial guarantee). Utah can make a final determination in the preseason.
The 7-foot-3 Pleiss was drafted with lofty expectations in 2010, and he remained overseas until last season. After acquiring his rights from the Thunder in the Enes Kanter trade, Utah signed Pleiss last summer to a three-year contract that’s fully guaranteed at $3 million this season and has $500,000 of $3.1 million guaranteed next season. But he looked completely overwhelmed during his rookie year, and he’s nearly 27.
Philadelphia already has a logjam at center with Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid. Perhaps, the 76ers take a chance on Pleiss, who’s big and has some shooting touch. But they could easily afford to waive him and eat his salary.
At worst, they got a couple draft picks for their trouble – just like old times.