Portland is making a change — Jamal Crawford, not Raymond Felton, will be the starting point guard for the Trail Blazers when they face off against the Spurs tonight, reports the Oregonian.
So here’s your starting job, Mr. Crawford, enjoy trying to stop the hottest player in the league in Tony Parker.
But the move isn’t a surprise. Felton is shooting a career low 37.1 percent so far this season, 22.9 percent from three, his assists are at a career low while his turnovers are at a career high, his PER is 10.5 (that of of a third-string guard) and he helped lead the Trail Blazers to a franchise low 7 points in the first quarter against the Lakers Monday night. Portland is struggling, Felton is struggling and coach Nate McMillan decided to shake things up.
Doesn’t mean that Felton likes it, as he told CSNNW.com.
“He (Nate McMillan) called me this morning and told me we got to have consistency from that position and that a 7-point quarter was unacceptable,” Felton told CSNNW.com. “I’m not just going to blame myself for that first quarter. We’re a team. We win together, we lose together.”
Felton has said he felt persecuted for the Blazers poor play of late (5-7 in their last dozen) and that he doesn’t think McMillan trusts him.
He probably doesn’t. Felton’s play has not been trustworthy. This maybe a blip, an off couple months for Felton (who is normally a good point guard), but the fact of the matter is he has played his way out of this job.
Crawford is not perfect at the point, but he’s an upgrade right now and the Blazers need a change. Can’t blame McMillan for this move.
We’ve now reached the “negotiate through the media” stage of J.R. Smith‘s free agency.
Everyone expects Smith to re-sign with the Cavaliers, but training camp opened without a deal. Reportedly, discussions are somewhere between $10 million and $15 million annually with contract length a roadblock.
Cavs general manager David Griffin, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:
“As we have stated and coach has previously stated, we think very highly of J.R. and we love him as a member of our team, as a member of our locker room,” General Manager David Griffin said. “He was essential to our success and for that reason we have made an incredibly competitive and aggressive offer in re-signing him.”
I bet Smith’s agent, Rich Paul, would say his contract demands are perfectly reasonable, too.
The Cavaliers want to maximize chemistry as the they defend their title, and that means getting Smith signed as quickly as possible. But they also want to avoid paying Smith a large salary – and taking a big luxury-tax hit – as he declines into his 30s.
Something will eventually give, but first, Griffin is telling the world ending the stalemate is in Smith’s court – though not revealing the exact offer(s) to be judged publicly. We’ll see how Smith and Paul respond.
Phil Jackson said the Knicks aren’t concerned about the civil and potentially criminal rape allegations Derrick Rose is facing. Rose doesn’t sound concerned, either.
But is Rose just putting on a front?
Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:
For now, the Knicks wait – and hope. Hope that the civil suit is resolved quickly. Hope that Rose – who has been troubled by the uncertainty of his legal entanglements more than he is letting on, sources familiar with Rose told The Vertical – is able to block out the distractions and build on the progress he made last season.
Rose should be concerned. Whatever happened that night, the specter of criminal prosecution and/or civil judgment against him are daunting outcomes. He can try to put that aside and focus on basketball, but this is a major event in his life.
The Bulls reportedly has chemistry issues last season stemming from the Jimmy Butler-Fred Hoiberg relationship. Butler’s most public critique of Hoiberg came in December, when the wing said, “We probably have to be coached a lot harder at times.”
A reasonable criticism for the mild-mannered Hoiberg? Perhaps, especially for a team that responded so well to the hard-driving Tom Thibodeau for the better part of five years.
The best delivery? Probably not, considering Hoiberg was still trying to find his way in his first NBA season.
But Butler hasn’t changed his message.
Butler, via CSN Chicago:
“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example. I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing.’,” Butler said. “Because if Doug or Tony or whoever it may be is watching coach talk to me like that, it’s going to be like, ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that, I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ That’s what I try to remind him every day. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else. I want that. I need that.”
Tim Duncan was celebrated for years for taking the brunt of Gregg Popovich’s criticism in San Antonio, setting an example for younger Spurs. So much of what Butler has done lately has been spun into a negative, but it seems he’s really trying to sacrifice his pride to help teammates like Doug McDermott and Tony Snell.
If Hoiberg goes along, this could quiet complaints about Butler’s leadership and preferential treatment.
With Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in New York, the Bulls are Butler’s team now. Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have said as much.
It seems Butler is doing what he can to lead the Bulls – his way. The question: Does Hoiberg also think that’s the best way?
Jeremy Lin might want to move past Linsanity, but he’ll always be linked to that period in 2012. It was so enthralling for numerous reasons, including:
- Lin played unsustainably great basketball, leading the Knicks to a 7-1 record while starting with Carmelo Anthony injured and averaging 25.0 points and 9.5 assists per game in that span.
- Lin was excelling in New York, America’s biggest media market.
- The Knicks were desperate for success, having not won a single playoff game in the last decade.
- Lin was undrafted and relatively unknown before breaking out.
- Lin played at Harvard, which is universally known for academics and barely known for basketball.
- Lin is Asian-American, a rarity in high-level basketball.
Yes, that last factor mattered.
Lin, via Peter Botte of the New York Daily News:
“In some ways, Linsanity wouldn’t have been Linsanity if I was a different skin color, most likely, it wouldn’t have been as big of a deal, and that went to my advantage, too, but if you look prior to that, a lot of the obstacles to even get to that point where I could get to a position of getting on the floor, those were definitely obstacles that were very much stereotypes that I had to fight along the way. So I’ve always understood that there’s good and there’s bad and you have to take them together and just be thankful for it all.”
Linsanity was a culmination of all the elements listed above. Maybe it would’ve happened without one or two, but THE essential factor was Lin’s on-court production. Without that, he never would’ve become a national phenomenon.
Lin’s heritage – he was born in California to Taiwanese-born parents – accentuated his basketball skills, but the basketball skills were the base for his popularity.
And as Lin said, his race was a double-edged sword. It made him less likely to get the benefit of the doubt when rising through the basketball ranks. I believe that coaches, scouts and other players were less inclined to believe in his basketball ability because of his race.
But Lin overcame that and eventually reaped the awards of being an outlier.
Lin has long seemed to possess a keen understanding of himself and a willingness to discuss it. I think he’s spot-on here, and it leads to a better understanding of one of the biggest NBA stories in recent years.