Kevin Durant, after dropping 32 points on Wednesday night, was likely going to win the NBA scoring title. For Kobe Bryant to catch him, the Lakers star was going to have to score 38 in a meaningless game against the Kings Thursday.
Which he is not going to do because Lakers coach Mike Brown said Kobe is resting this game to prepare for the playoffs, reports Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.
Durant finishes the season averaging 28 points per game to Kobe’s 27.9. This is Durant’s third consecutive scoring title, the last player to win three in a row was Michael Jordan.
In recent days both Kobe and Durant had downplayed the scoring title race, saying they were more concerned with being right for the playoffs. With this season’s short turnaround between the playoffs and regular season — the Lakers open at home on Sunday against likely Denver but maybe Dallas — many coaches are resting players the final game of the regular season. Kobe could have forced Mike Brown to play him and could have scored 38 points on what passes for defense in Sacramento (even if Kobe had to take 41 shots to get there) but he chose to focus on the big picture.
With the Thunder and Lakers favored to meet in the second round, both of these guys would trade a scoring title for a win in that series.
The list of traditional ball-handling point guards who liked and thrived in Phil Jackson’s triangle offense is a short one. While guys who could initiate the offense then play off the ball did well (Derek Fisher, for example), traditional points used to controlling the flow of the game chaffed in the system. Ask Gary Payton about it.
So how are things going with Derrick Rose as he adjusts to the triangle in New York?
If Phil Jackson were going to be any of the seven dwarfs, it would be Grumpy.
The Knicks are going to run a hybrid version of the triangle that will incorporate coach Jeff Hornacek’s preferred up-tempo style and the offense Jackson wants in the halfcourt.
Slotting in a number of new players — Rose, Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings, etc. — with a new system likely means some early-season struggles on offense for the Knicks. The team’s offense should smooth out as the season stretches out — so long as they can stay healthy. But that’s a different discussion.
Three all-time greats retired from the NBA this year.
What’s next for Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett?
Kobe is making movies and babies. Duncan is hanging around Spurs practice and is expected to join the franchise full-time.
Garnett? Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, who was an assistant coach for the Celtics when Garnett played in Boston, wants him to join his staff.
Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
“I talked to him about it,” Lue said Thursday, following the Cavs’ practice. “I know his wife is pushing for it a lot. Brandi is pushing for it, trying to get him to come and coach. He says he’s not ready yet. He goes back, ‘I might do it,’ but he’s back and forth. We’ll see.
“But I’d definitely make a spot for him if he wanted to come back and coach.”
Lue said Garnett would be in Cleveland for the Cavs’ opening night ceremonies, which will include the raising of the franchise’s first championship banner.
I’d be surprised if Garnett joins Cleveland’s staff, but I’m also surprised Garnett is joining the Cavs to celebrate a title he played no part in winning. So, maybe ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
More importantly, has Lue checked with LeBron James about this idea? LeBron might not like it.
The ProBasketballTalk Podcast at NBC Sports is done with its summer hiatus, and there will be a couple of podcasts a week now running through the NBA season, trade deadline, playoffs, and eventually free agency. We’ll talk about it all.
We start with NBA season previews, going division by division, and we start that tour on the West Coast. Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News joins Kurt Helin of NBC to talk about the Lakers and their rebuild. From there the conversation goes to questions such as can anyone beat the Warriors? Are the Clippers contenders? Plus we talk about the building processes going on in Sacramento and Phoenix.
As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (check there to see all the NBC Sports podcasts), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.
The Rockets created a little roster confusion by giving Gary Payton II a fully guaranteed deal, bringing Houston to 15 players (the regular-season roster limit) with guaranteed salaries plus restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas.
This won’t clarify the situation, but P.J. Hairston will give the Rockets another intriguing piece.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Hairston was a first-round pick just two years ago, and at age 23, he still presents upside. He has at least stopped producing negative headline after negative headline after negative…
Now, we can focus on just Hairston’s major on-court flaws. He misses a lot of shots and does little else. But he has some raw tools, even if they barely showed with the Hornets and Grizzlies.
If the Rockets make a roster-clearing move, they could take a chance on keeping the talented/troubled wing around. More likely, he heads to the D-League, where Houston can develop him in its system.