After former Magic center and Dwight Howard backup Marcin Gortat was traded to the Phoenix Suns last season, he ended up taking the starting center job from the incumbent Robin Lopez. It didn’t take long at all.
In a recent Q+A at a kids’ basketball camp (hat tip to SB Nation’s Seth Pollack), Gortat talked about his feelings towards Lopez:
Marcin said that on his first day in Phoenix he asked Robin if practice started on the court or with a video session. Robin told Marcin that he didn’t know so Gortat went to the gym while Lopez went to watch video. According to Gortat, a coach came to get him and asked why he was late and Marcin said that he had asked Robin and was told he didn’t know where practice was starting. The coach said everyone knew where they were supposed to be. Marcin took that as a sign of where things stood between himself and Lopez.
Gortat went on to talk about the opportunity that Lopez had to earn and keep the starting job.
“This guy (Lopez) had such a big chance, such a big opportunity, to play in the best league. When I was Orlando, playing behind Dwight (Howard), I was praying to get a chance to play and he (Lopez) has had this chance for two years and he didn’t take.
So I thought, when you don’t want it, there will be 50 persons behind you, waiting to take this chance, and then I came by and I took (it). Sorry, that’s business, that’s life.”
(In an email, Lopez said that he didn’t send Gortat to the wrong place maliciously, but rather simply didn’t know whether the practice would start in the video room or the court that day.)
According to basketballvalue.com, Lopez wasn’t exactly doing everything he could to prove his worth both before and after the Gortat trade, as he had a team-low -8.09 adjusted plus-minus last season. We’ll see if this center battle gets genuinely nasty next season. Or if the Suns decide they need to ship one of them out of town.
Russell Westbrook led a double-digit comeback in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Been there done, that.
Westbrook hit a defining buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Been there done, that.
Westbrook posted a historic triple-double. Been there, done that.
All three in one game?
That’s a new level for Westbrook, who lifted the Thunder to a 114-106 win over the Magic tonight while posting an incredible stat line: 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.
James Harden scored 53 in a triple-double just this season, and Westbrook has already one-upped that record.
This MVP race is one for the ages.
The Thunder trailed the Magic by 21 points in the second half and 14 points midway through the fourth quarter.
Russell Westbrook capped the incredible comeback with this 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.
This becoming the norm for Oklahoma City.
Paul George expressed extreme dismay after the Pacers’ loss to the Timberwolves last night — the latest cause for concern in Indiana with its biggest star just one season from free agency.
But perhaps George wouldn’t have sounded so disillusioned if that game featured correct officiating down the stretch.
Minnesota’s Kris Dunn got away with fouling Jeff Teague by disrupting the Pacers guard’s speed/quickness/balance rhythm with 21.6 seconds left, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:
Dunn (MIN) makes contact to Teague’s (IND) arm that affects his SQBR and causes him to lose control of the ball.
Because the Timberwolves were in the penalty, a correct would’ve sent Teague — who’s making 86% of his free throws this season and 84% for his career — to the line. He would’ve had two attempts to build on Indiana’s two-point lead.
Instead, he forced an off-balance shot, which Minnesota rebounded. Ricky Rubio drew a shooting foul on a 3-pointer on the other end, and his three free throws lifted the Timberwolves to a 115-114 win.
The two-minute report featured a few other missed calls: George getting away with pushing off then Wiggins getting away with fouling George on a possession where George missed anyway, Andrew Wiggins getting away with a travel on a possession where Minnesota turned the ball over anyway. But those were effectively wash’s. Dunn’s uncalled foul was the one of consequence — especially if it contributes, even in a small way, to George’s exit from the Pacers.
Edmond Sumner has grown about five inches since high school.
That has helped turn the 6-foot-5 Xavier point guard into an intriguing NBA prospect — but also seemingly contributed to physical complications. Sumner missed nearly all of his freshman year with knee tendinitis. Then, after a promising second season and start to his third, he tore his ACL in January.
Still, he’s entering the NBA draft.
Rick Broering of Musketeer Report:
Like with Duke’s Harry Giles, medical testing will be huge with Sumner. But at least Giles ended the season on the court. Sumner might not be healthy at all during the pre-draft process.
Sumner looked like a borderline first-round pick before the injury. This probably pushes him into the second round.
His long strides provide impressive speed and quickness, and he’s still shifty. Add quality court vision, and his ability to drive by defenders is even more valuable.
A 6-foot-8 wingspan and good lateral mobility also help make him a quality defender.
But it’s also concerning that so much of his positives could be undermined by his knee issues, especially considering his unreliable jumper. If Sumner can’t move like he did before getting hurt, I don’t see how he sticks in the NBA.
If Sumner’s knees check out, it’s worth rolling the dice on him and hoping his jumper develops. He might even be OK without shooting range, though that’d lower his ceiling considerably.
Again, though, the first thing is examining his knees.