George Karl

Denver may have used laptop in a time out… so what?


In the playoffs, sometimes people — teams, fans, media — can focus and become obsessed about the little things, the meaningless things, and not the things that really matter.

For example, if the Lakers want to talk about why they lost Game 5 to Denver they can talk about Andrew Bynum’s defensive rotations (or lack thereof). Or the fact that without guys like Steve Blake and Matt Barnes knocking down threes the Nuggets defense doesn’t get punished for the doubles and collapses on Bynum and Pau Gasol. Then Kobe just tries to take over.

The Lakers coaches were frustrated with all that, but the Lakers also were fuming about Denver using a laptop during a timeout. From Mike Bresnahan at the Los Angeles Times (via Ball Don’t Lie).

The Lakers were privately seething after seeing the Nuggets use a laptop computer in their huddle during a 20-second timeout with 19.9 seconds left to play.

The computer apparently belonged to an assistant coach sitting behind the bench with it. NBA rules forbid the use of such devices in the huddle, which won’t change the final score but can carry a hefty fine of up to $250,000.

As Dan Devine points out at BDL, at the moment in question the Lakers were down 99-96, so the Nuggets staff might have looked up scouting information on a last-second Lakers play. I’m not sure why you need a computer to tell you Kobe Bryant is going to take an isolation three, but to each his own.

Is using a laptop on the bench really against the rules? Denver’s GM reached out to the league to calm the waters. Yahoo asked for the details and was told that what Denver did was not against NBA rules. George Karl talked at his press avilability about a memo that seemed to say a laptop with scouting information could be kept near the bench so long as information isn’t taken from them while the game is in progress.

My question: Why is this even a big deal? Not sure how many teams really do this, but so what?

Why shouldn’t a team be able to pull out an iPad during a timeout loaded with the opposing team’s most common end-of-game sets then have a coach show that to the players? That is not cheating, that is scouting. That is using technology to make sure your players are properly prepared for what the opposing team is likely to run. Why is having that video on in the locker room before the game okay but having it on an iPad on the bench not?

To me, as the advanced statistical revolution marches on in the NBA the challenge is to impart the information gathered to the players in a way they can use. It’s one thing to say Tyson Chandler shoots 67.2 percent when he gets the ball back as a roll man after setting the pick and that he tries to find a direct line to the basket, it’s another to show a loop of what Chander does successfully as a player to his defender (and the team) and let them adjust. Most people are visual learners — to see it as numbers is one thing, to see it in action is another.

I don’t see the problem with a team using this technology on the bench or during breaks. I don’t have an issue with bringing technology into the game.

And while it didn’t impact this game anyway, the Lakers should be worried about why they really lost and not laptops.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry
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The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi

Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.