Baseline to Baseline recaps: Where the Spurs look old

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What you missed while watching Tim Tebow resurrect after three games….

Lakers 90, Grizzlies 82: This was our game of the night, where the Lakers flaws are showing and it doesn’t matter.

Thunder 108, Spurs 96: Both teams were tired — third game in three nights for Oklahoma City, fourth game in five nights for San Antonio. The difference was young legs. Tim Duncan looked old (11 points on 13 shots) and Tony Parker was flat. Meanwhile, James Harden was explosive (20 points) and Kevin Durant was Kevin Durant (21 points). Ballgame.

In the third quarter, Gregg Popovich decided to experiment, putting athletic rookie Kawahi Leonard on an island with Durant. The rookie gave some real effort (the Spurs have something in him), but Durant finished the quarter with 10 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds, the Thunder won the quarter by 16 (37-21).

Trail Blazers 98, Cavaliers 78: Cleveland kept it close for a while, but a 9-0 run near the end of the second quarter and a 12-0 run near the end of the third stole the show. LaMarcus Aldridge dropped 28 and 8, just a reminder as you think about your All-Star votes. It seems like every time I watch Kyrie Irving he looks a little better (even on off shooting nights like this), he’s learning. Portland is now 5-0 at home to start the season.

Suns 109, Bucks 93: For the second straight game, the Suns were on a day’s rest facing a team that had played on the road in another city the night before. And just like Friday night against the Blazers, the result was once again a blowout win for Phoenix.

Milwaukee was playing its fifth road game in seven nights, and it showed from the opening tip. Steve Nash registered 10 assists in the first quarter, on his way to a total of 17 for the game in just 27 minutes. The Suns built an early double-digit lead that held at halftime, and blew it open with a 21-5 run that saw the lead balloon to as many as 27 points near the end of the third quarter. Phoenix finished with seven players in double figures.

Channing Frye entered the game just 4-of-23 from three-point land on the season, but he hit all four of his attempts from distance in the first quarter — a performance which may help solidify his spot in the starting lineup, after Suns head coach Alvin Gentry had been hinting at the possibility of making a change there over the past few days.

Milwaukee hasn’t won in Phoenix since 1987. The Suns’ 24-game home win streak against the Bucks is the second longest active streak of its kind in the NBA. The Spurs have the longest active streak, winning 27 in a row (and counting) at home over the Golden State Warriors. (Recap from Brett Pollakoff)

Magic 104, Kings 97: How do you win when you shoot 42.5 percent and your opponent shoots 52.1 percent? First, grab the offensive rebound on 34 percent of your missed shots, which is what the Magic did. Second, pressure your opponent into 17 turnovers, which is how many times the Kings coughed it up. Jason Richardson led the Magic with 22, Tyreke Evans the Kings with 28. These teams combined to shoot 13-of-52 from three (25 percent).

Timberwolves 93, Wizards 72: Washington is just lost on offense. Well, if they get out in transition they can do some damage but this game had 93 possessions, which is below the league average pace. In the half court they are simplistic — everything happens on the strong side — and yet still sloppy. Easy win for Minnesota. Kevin Love had a dull for him 20 and 16. Minnesota looks sharper with Ricky Rubio in the game (14 assists), but he didn’t see athletes like JaVale McGee in Spain.

Pistons’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope suspended two games for DUI

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This is the standard penalty for coaches and players hit with a DUI. I don’t think the penalty is stiff enough in general for a serious issue, but this is the precedent that has been set.

Detroit Pistons’ guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been suspended two games by the NBA for “pleading guilty to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, in violation of the law of the State of Michigan,” the NBA announced. He will miss the first two games of next season.

This will not stop Caldwell-Pope from getting PAID this summer.

A quality wing defender who hit 35 percent from three last season, he plays a position of need for a lot of teams and he is a restricted free agent. Other teams with cap space — Brooklyn and Sacramento come to mind — could step in and give him a max or near max offer. Then Stan Van Gundy needs to decide if he is going to match. He may not have much of a choice, if he wants to keep Andre Drummond and build an inside-out team around him, he needs Caldwell-Pope, and the Pistons don’t have the cap space to replace him.

One way or another, Caldwell-Pope is in line for a massive pay raise. This suspension will not slow teams, it just takes a little money out of his pocket.

 

Lonzo Ball tops Rookie of the Year early betting odds

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If you are betting right now on next year’s NBA Rookie of the Year award, you are a die-hard fan of your team and their new addition. Or, you have a problem and need to seek help. Maybe both.

Either way, the people at the gambling site Bovada have posted the early betting odds for the ROY award for next season.

Lonzo Ball (Lakers) 5/2
Ben Simmons (76ers) 3/1
Markelle Fultz (76ers) 5/1
De”Aaron Fox (Kings) 7/1
Josh Jackson (Suns) 9/1
Jayson Tatum (Celtics) 9/1
Jonathan Isaac (Magic) 16/1
Malik Monk (Hornets) 16/1
Dennis Smith (Mavericks) 16/1
John Collins (Hawks) 20/1
Justin Jackson (Trail Blazers) 22/1
Lauri Markkanen (Bulls) 22/1

Yes, Ben Simmons is in the mix.

The two bets I like here, if I were a gambling man, are Jackson in Phoenix and Dennis Smith in Dallas. I doubt Smith wins it, but Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the draft Smith will start for them next year, which means he gets opportunities and can rack up assists feeding Dirk Nowitzki at the elbow for a year.

Jackson is going to be unleashed in an up-tempo Suns offense where he will be the defender they need on the wing, play with high energy, and get buckets in transition. Winning ROY is as much about fit and opportunity as talent, and Jackson has landed in a good spot.

Paul George-Gordon Hayward-Celtics rumor doesn’t add up

AP Photo/George Frey
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Paul George reportedly wants to play with Gordon Hayward. George is also reportedly willing to join his desired team (universally accepted to be the Lakers) by means that don’t guarantee the highest salary.

Could the Celtics – who are pursuing Hayward in free agency – leverage those conditions into getting George?

Adam Kauffman of 98.5 The Sports Hub:

I don’t what George would do, but it’d be a MAJOR financial disadvantage to go this route.

There a couple ways it could happen – George getting extended-and-trade or George getting traded then signing an extension six months later. The latter would allow George to earn more than the former, but even if he pledged to sign an extension, would the Celtics trade for him knowing he’d have six months to change his mind if he doesn’t like Boston as much as anticipated?

There’s a bigger issue, anyway. Both extension routes would leave George earning far less than simply letting his contract expire then signing a new deal, either with his incumbent team or a new one.

Here’s a representation of how much George could earn by:

  • Letting his contract expire and re-signing (green)
  • Letting his contract expire and signing elsewhere (purple)
  • Getting traded and signing an extension six months later (gray)
  • Signing an extend-and-trade (yellow)

image

Expire & re-sign Expire & leave Trade, extend later Extend-and-trade
2018-19 $30.6 million $30.6 million $23,410,750 $23,410,750
2019-20 $33.0 million $32.1 million $25,283,610 $24,581,287
2020-21 $35.5 million $33.7 million $27,156,470 $25,751,825
2021-22 $37.9 million $35.2 million $29,029,330
2022-23 $40.4 million
Total $177.5 million $131.6 million $104,880,158 $73,743,861

Firm numbers are used when it’s just a calculation based on George’s current contract. When necessary to project the 2018-19 salary cap, I rounded.

The Celtics could theoretically renegotiate-and-extend, but that would require cap room that almost certainly wouldn’t exist after signing Hayward.

Simply, it’s next to impossible to see this happening. It’d be too costly to George.

Dwyane Wade on why he exercised his player option: ’24 million reasons’

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Dwyane Wade said he wanted to see the Bulls’ direction – winning now with Jimmy Butler or rebuilding? – before deciding on his $23.8 million player option for next season.

While Chicago was actively shopping Butler (before eventually trading him to the Timberwolves), Wade opted in, anyway.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

This is most real answer answer you’ll ever see. Props to Wade for his directness.

This also speaks to the unlikelihood of him accepting a buyout, no matter how poorly he fits with the rebuilding Bulls now – though maybe he’d accept a small pay cut to choose another team.