Do you remember when then Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis was trying to keep Kevin Love from straying away from the basket and shooting threes? Rambis, Loves hopes you were watching.
“But for me, coming into the league, I was told not to shoot three point shots, so to be where I am now and continue to work on my game, I think this definitely speaks to my versatility,” Love said.
Love is now the best three-point shooter in the land. As determined by an exhibition contest, but still, he can knock them down.
Love had to go to overtime twice — an extra shoot to break a tie with Mario Chalmers after the first round then Kevin Durant in the last round — but he won the All-Star Three Point contest.
He is the first pure power forward to win the event. Sure, Dirk Nowitzki is technically a power forward, but he’s really his own kind of hybrid four. Who would you take in a rebounding contest? Exactly.
Love was not the favorite going in. That was probably Anthony Morrow was rocking the throwback Drazen Petrovic Nets jersey. But he tweeted before the event he was nervous and he looked with, he didn’t get through all the balls in the first round and had the lowest score. Orlando’s own Ryan Anderson was close to advancing to the final round, and the crowd groaned on missed last moneyball shot he missed that eliminated him.
Defending champion James Jones put up the best single score of the night, 22 points in the first round (hitting 13 of 15 at one point). But he went ice cold in the final round.
Durant and Love tied, went to a shootout and it was all Love. Or enough. He wins. Both in this contest and in Minnesota where the new coach lets him shoot threes.
The Toronto Raptors went into the last few weeks in a slump on the court and with the need to improve at the forward slot if they had any dreams of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals again.
Then the Raptors added Serge Ibaka.
Now they have added P.J. Tucker from the Suns to the mix, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
This is a strong move for Toronto. Tucker is a physical guy who can play the three or the four, and he brings a strong defensive presence to the court — he is statistically one of the better defending small forwards in the league this season. He and DeMarre Carroll can give the Raptors a needed boost on that end, and Tucker is going to be great as a defensive matchup in certain playoff situations.
Toronto has made its move — first they hope to get back up to the two or three seed in the East (and avoid Cleveland in the second round). Then to make a stronger run at Cleveland in the conference finals — remember they took the Cavs six games last year.
What the Suns wanted was the picks. Sullinger is a solid player who can step into their rotation now, but is a downgrade — especially defensively — from Tucker. What the Suns start doing is looking for draft steals they can find in the second round.
Back in 2014, the Bulls front office of John Paxson and Gar Forman traded two picks to the Denver Nuggets — picks that became Gary Harris and Josef Nurkic — to move up in the draft so they could pick Doug McDermott.
Thursday, the Bulls all but admitted that was a mistake.
Chicago traded McDermott and Taj Gibson to Oklahoma City for Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Anthony Morrow, as reported by Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports.
This is a good trade for Oklahoma City, especially while Enis Kanter remains sidelined. Gibson, in particular, gives them a rock-solid power forward out of the old school. Gibson can score inside and help Steven Adams, he can crash the boards, and while he’s not what he once was on that end he’s a solid defender.
Gibson is also a free agent this summer, and the Bulls were not going to pay the market value. Oklahoma City may, but Gibson will have options.
McDermott can shoot the three, hitting 37.6 percent this season, but that’s about all he brings to the table. Maybe that’s all the Thunder need. McDermott doesn’t create his own shot and he’s a big defensive liability. Maybe he can spread the floor a little for the Thunder, hang out at the arc waiting for a Russell Westbrook drive and dish, but he’s not doing much else.
Chicago gets a player with a lot of potential in Cameron Payne, he could be the point guard of the future there next to Jimmy Butler. That’s the best player on their end in this deal. But Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow are nice players who don’t actually move the needle.
This trade by the Bulls echoes their moves over the summer bringing in Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo — what exactly is the plan? Payne could be part of the future, but are the Bulls a team rebuilding around Butler? It remains difficult to see what the vision is in Chicago. Which has to frustrate Butler.
K.J. McDaniels was already buried deep on the Rockets bench behind not just James Harden but guys such as Trevor Ariza and Sam Decker. Now Lou Williams comes to town and will get some of those minutes, and the Rockets decided to see if anyone wanted to take a flier on McDaniels.
Brooklyn did, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
For Brooklyn, why not take a flier on him — McDaniels put up some numbers and played fairly well a few seasons back in Philly, when they had nobody else to take shots. He went from there to Houston, where they had a lot of guys who were better shooters. Now he heads to Brooklyn, a team that could use the scoring, so he gets another shot.
As for Houston, this was a salary dump looking ahead.
The buzz is the Rockets would like to get Langston Galloway if the Kings decide to waive him, but there will be a number of quality players waived in the coming week, and the Rockets now have the roster spot and cap room to go after one of them.
The Pelicans have potentially the best front court in the NBA now with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
What they need is more help on the perimeter. A lot more help.
It’s not all going to come this season, but the Pelicans are going to take a look at their options. One of those options could be veteran and free agent Jarrett Jack, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
It’s a smart move by New Orleans. Jack averaged 12.8 points and 7.4 assists in 32 games for the Nets last season, but then he blew out his ACL. At 33, how well will he bounce back from that?
It may work, Jack relies far more on his outside shot than his ability to drive the paint (the hallmark of his game five years ago). He’s not going to be a great defender, but if healthy maybe he fits a bench role.