It’s not about now anymore. It’s about five weeks from now.
That’s not completely a sentiment shared by Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who it seems has pushed his players hard, trying to get the top seed in the East. For him, playing is how you get ready for the playoffs, he told the Chicago Tribune.
“Somehow this notion that you can miss the entire season and come back in the playoffs and play well, I haven’t seen that. So I don’t know what people are talking about. You have to build the right habits so you can perform well when it matters most.”
But he will have to wait a while for Derrick Rose. The reigning MVP is not even running yet — or even walking with a normal gait — following his groin injury and Tribune beat writer K.C. Johnson describes him as week-to-week not day-to-day.
Richard Hamilton is just now able to lift his arm above his sprained shoulder and will still be out a while.
The Bulls are still winning — they are an amazing 11-4 without Rose — and still are three games ahead of the Heat for the best record in the East. Thibodeau and the Bulls need Rose and Hamilton right for the playoffs, even if that means sitting for longer than Thibodeau would like.
With just 17 games remaining, Thibodeau fielded a question on the ideal number of games at full strength to build continuity for the postseason.
“As many as possible,” he said.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.
After a bumpy season where the he fought with Suns coaches, then a summer where he and his twin Marcus felt they were blindsided by a trade, Markieff Morris has been plenty vocal about his unhappiness in Phoenix. To the point it has cost him some serious cash.
So what should we expect from Markieff Morris’ upcoming season?
Relative calm, I tell Jenna Corrado of NBCSports in this latest edition of PBT Extra previewing the NBA season.
The reasons are twofold. First, he has to realize the Suns aren’t trading him anyway (especially not while he publicly demands a trade, lowering his trade value). Second, can you imagine how new locker room leader Tyson Chandler is going to react to that? Chandler was brought in to fill a leadership void in the locker room, and you can bet he will make his displeasure at such team-disrupting antics known.
Still not sure if that’s enough to get the Suns to the playoffs.