It all came together for one night.
At home, against a tired Toronto team on the second night of a back-to-back. Flip Saunders put in a new starting lineup of guys playing with some grit — Chris Singleton and Trevor Booker start, and Andray Blatche comes off the bench.
It worked — the Washington Wizards picked up their first win of the season, and quite easily at that, 93-78.
This was by far Washington’s best game of the season, particularly on offense. For eight games their offense had been simplistic, with pick-and-rolls or isolations on the strong side and a lot of standing around. But against the Raptors there were weakside cuts occupying defenders, slowing help, all the things you see in a good offense. It gave them room to attack the basket and they did, it was not a jump shot fest. It wasn’t consistent, it certainly wasn’t perfect, but it was a vast improvement over past games.
Meanwhile the Wizards defense was more aggressive, although it was certainly helped by a hesitant Raptors offense that did not attack aggressively. DeMar DeRozan has not found his groove for a couple games now. Jose Calderon has been aggressive off the pick and roll the last few games but tonight was pausing, then forcing some ugly passes that led to turnovers (the Raps had 22 on the night). Toronto only had 52 points through three quarters, the Wizards deserve credit for some of that but the Raptors do as well.
The Raptors are not a good team — they start Rasual Butler (1-of-6 shooting). They need Andrea Bargnani to generate the offense, and while he finished with 22 he was not as sharp as he has been in previous games. They are a team that is going to have nights like this.
The Wizards are not a good team either, but they were better for a night. John Wall had more assists than point (9 to 8). Rashard Lewis and Nick Young had 15 points each as the Wizards showed some balance. They had good bench play.
It’s a start. The Wizards have a long way to go, but for a night things were better. That is worth celebrating.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — LaVar Ball has brought his Big Baller Brand from the basketball court to the wrestling ring.
The outspoken father of NBA draft No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball showed up with the newly minted Los Angeles Laker and another son, 15-year-old LaMelo, for a live segment on Monday’s “WWE Raw” at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
During the segment, LaMelo Ball twice used the n-word, which was broadcast over the air. WWE says in a statement to the Los Angeles Times that the language “was not scripted nor reflects WWE’s values.”
For LaVar Ball’s appearance, the ring was decorated with mannequins displaying his Big Baller Brand clothing line. He got in a heated confrontation with WWE wrestler The Miz, and took his shirt off to cheers from the crowd.
Just four years ago, Michael Carter-Williams won Rookie of the Year.
Now, the Bulls don’t even see a $4,187,599 qualifying offer as worth extending.
David Kaplan of CSN Chicago:
Credit Sam Hinkie for trading Carter-Williams (to the Bucks) at just the right moment, netting the 76ers a valuable Lakers first-round pick that Philadelphia used to trade up for Markelle Fultz. Carter-Williams hasn’t nearly lived up to the typical production of a former Rookie of the Year.
The Bulls got Carter-Williams far cheaper from Milwaukee, for Tony Snell (who had a breakout year with the Bucks). But Carter-Williams continued to regress in Chicago. It’s just hard for a point guard with such a shaky outside shot, and Carter-Williams’ injuries haven’t helped.
With a smorgasbord of point guards that now includes Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne, the Bulls can move on.
Carter-Williams can probably latch on as a backup point guard somewhere. As an unrestricted free agent, teams will have greater comfort pursuing him. But this is a blow for someone with such a big accolade on his résumé.
The Celtics are trying to sign Gordon Hayward.
They want to trade for Paul George.
It seems those goals are not mutually exclusive.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
The Boston Celtics are pursuing an aggressive summer plan of sequencing the signing of free agent Gordon Hayward and relinquishing the assets needed to complete a trade for Paul George, league sources told The Vertical.
For salary-cap purposes, Boston wants a Hayward commitment before it can finalize a trade for George and secure the most dynamic free-agent coup in franchise history, league sources said.
For Boston, here’s the hitch: While Indiana believes Boston can offer the best possible package, the Pacers may be unwilling to wait until the start of July free agency on Boston’s timetable and could turn toward making a deal elsewhere for George, league sources told The Vertical.
The Celtics can clear cap space to sign Hayward. They have the ammo to trade for George. They could do both.
But, as covered before, there’s probably not a path to signing Hayward and extending George’s contract.
So, how much would Boston surrender for George on an expiring contract? The risk he walks in a year, particularly for the Lakers, should lower the Celtics’ offer.
Still, Boston could trade for the Pacers star and roll the dice on re-signing him. Playing with Hayward – and Isaiah Thomas and whichever other players the Celtics keep in this arrangement – would be pretty appealing.
The Clippers hired Jerry West, in part, to help lure LeBron James.
But even with LeBron-to-Los Angeles (Clippers or Lakers) rumors swirling, that plan might not even get off the ground.
Mike Wise of The Undefeated on Freddie and Fritz:
I’m going to give you something on this show, and this is breaking news. Nobody else is going to have it.
I got from a very good authority – a very good authority – that LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I can’t tell you who, but I’m going to tell you it’s somebody that knows, and LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I don’t know if that’s because he remembers what the Clippers used to be, or he just doesn’t want to put his lot in there, or he thinks Steve Ballmer is just too animated on the sideline.
He’s never going to be a Clipper. I’m just telling people right now, for your edification. I’m breaking this on the Freddie Coleman and Fitz show.
I don’t believe in “never” in situations like this. As Jerry Seinfeld would say, teams are just laundry. The Clippers can change owners, general managers, coaches, players. LeBron would remain absolutely opposed to joining?
Maybe, but I won’t go that far without knowing his reason for resisting the Clippers. A lot can change between now and 2018, when LeBron can opt out.
One of the Clippers’ biggest selling points was always going to be Chris Paul, LeBron’s close friend. Reading the tea leaves, maybe this is a sign Paul will leave this summer – for the Spurs, Rockets or somewhere else.