Shane Battier isn’t quite the defensive force he once was; even the plus-minus data that illustrated his worth to teams like the Houston Rockets — not to mention made him the subject of Michael Lewis’ renowned piece for The New York Times — has turned on him of late, leaving Battier as merely a competent defender with an above average three-point stroke. He simply isn’t suited to defend elite players on a nightly basis anymore, even though his skills certainly warrant a regular place in a high-level rotation. Some playoff club out there will do well for themselves by giving Battier minutes, but that club may not be his most recent team, the Memphis Grizzlies.
From Ronald Tillery’s Memphis Edge blog for the Memphis Commercial Appeal (via Yahoo’s Scoop du Jour blog):
I’ve heard (and this is not fact) that Battier is seeking a contract starting at the mid-level exception (or around $5 million). I’ve also heard the Griz aren’t willing to pay that. So Battier is absolutely right when he says we’ll have to wait and see what the new CBA looks like. No one knows what the exceptions will be if there are any at all.
Battier was a nice fit in Memphis, but he’s not essential there. Tony Allen can do a lot of the defensive heavy lifting, and O.J. Mayo and Sam Young are competent defenders 0n the wing. Plus, Rudy Gay…well, there’s always room for improvement, right?
So the fact that Battier and the Grizzlies aren’t quite seeing eye-to-eye on this rumored annual salary isn’t the greatest tragedy, nor is it in any way the downfall of last year’s fun and surprising Memphis team. All of the core pieces are still in place, and with Gay returning to the rotation in the coming season, minutes for the remaining wing players would be slashed anyway. Allen is due regular burn as one of the league’s top perimeter defenders, while Young and Mayo sop up what’s left of the minutes in reserve. Gay led the Grizzlies at 39.9 minutes per game when healthy last season, and accounting for that amount of playing time requires concessions elsewhere. Battier — as a non-essential component and an unrestricted free agent — is the logical choice.
Meanwhile, every club with a need for a 3-and-D wing player (and really, who couldn’t use an extra one coming off the bench?) will likely be calling up Battier once free agency officially begins. It remains to be seen whether $5 million is an appropriate figure for Battier on this year’s market, but it’s not a ridiculous mark for a solid complementary player.
When the starters for next month’s All-Star Game in New Orleans were announced this week, there was a mini-uproar on Twitter because Russell Westbrook — the guy averaging a triple-double this season — wasn’t picked. It’s hard for me to get worked up over two-time MVP Stephen Curry getting the nod, but if you want someone to blame it was the fans’ call — they voted Curry first overall, James Harden second, Westbrook third. The players and media had Westbrook first, Harden second, but the tie is broken by the fan vote.
Enter Baron Davis with the timely joke.
We just need to tie in a Zaza Pachulia joke and it will be perfect.
The Milwaukee Bucks had lost four in a row and had slid out of a playoff slot in the East. It’s not one end of the court — in their last five games, the Bucks had the second-worst defense and fourth-worst offense in the NBA. After that fourth loss, the team held a players’ only meeting, one where Jabari Parker reportedly ripped his teammates for a lack of togetherness.
In the postgame media sessions that followed, Parker told the press he confirmed there was a meeting and said he had been “thrashed” by his teammates for what he said.
It was that speaking to the media that got him benched for a game — as decided by his teammates — reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker did not start in Saturday’s road loss to the Miami Heat for violating a team rule that prohibits disclosing locker room discourse to the media, league sources told ESPN…
Parker’s teammates deliberated and decided the appropriate punishment for the violation was to bring him off the bench against the Heat, league sources told ESPN. It was the first time this season that he did not start.
The meeting and the benching didn’t help, the Bucks fell to the lowly Heat 109-97. (Team/players meetings are overrated in how often they help teams turn things around.)
The good news for the Bucks is that in a tight East they remain just a game out of the playoffs and three games out of the five seed. It’s going to be a tough week to turn that around with the Rockets, resurgent Sixers, Raptors, and Celtics on the schedule.
Without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in the lineup, the Clippers don’t have much going for them offensively. However, there is one thing: DeAndre Jordan can still run to the rim and dunk with authority.
Denver’s Kenneth Faried took that away Saturday.
Faried hustled back in transition, showed he still had some hops and swatted away a Jordan dunk attempt.
The Nuggets went on to win the game comfortably, 123-98, behind 19 points and 10 boards from Nikola Jokic.
The Knicks last three losses have come by a total of six points. The team is not good, a little banged up, and doesn’t play any defense, but New York also has just had a run of bad luck.
The latest example: Phoenix’s Devin Booker draining a three to knock off New York, 107-105. It was a mistake by Derrick Rose, who sagged down to the free throw line watching Eric Bledsoe with the ball coming off the pick, which led to the open pass. Also, notice that Booker set up three feet back of the three-point line — this is a trend a lot of teams and good shooters are following (watch a Rockets’ game) because it makes the closeout harder. Rose would have contested a shot at the arc, but Booker gets a clean look from where he spotted up, and drills it.
Carmelo Anthony got a shot to win it for the Knicks, but his rimmed out.