Now this is more like it.
No more Shaq nonsense. No more ridiculousness. The Magic are reportedly in pursuit of interviews for three members from the Spurs-Thunder tree for their open GM position. From Yahoo! Sports:
Thunder vice president and assistant general manager Troy Weaver and Spurs assistant GM Dennis Lindsey have been targeted, and Orlando has been granted permission to talk with Weaver, sources said. The Spurs’ OK of permission for Lindsey is imminent, sources said.
Orlando has also been granted permission to speak with Oklahoma City’s assistant GM Rob Hennigan, who came into the league with the Spurs.
via Thunder, Spurs executives among strong candidates for Magic’s GM – Yahoo! Sports.
The hiring of any of those targets would be a move in the right direction for the Magic, who need to move past temporary solutions and desperate maneuvers to keep Dwight Howard and establish a culture of winning in Orlando. Weaver has worked in the past with the Thunder’s D-League team, helping to develop young talent which have gone on to play for OKC and in some cases start elsewhere.
It would be interesting if Lindsey were hired and Dwight Howard traded, if for no other reason than it would make two former Spurs front office members hired within two years who wound up having to trade their superstar. Former Spurs assistant GM Dell Demps joined the Hornets in 2010 and wound up having to move Chris Paul.
But this is the kind of move that the Magic are desperately in need of. They want to win now. But that’s not really feasible, given conditions. Better to put themselves into a long-term position by establishing a culture that can succeed. Hiring members of the two organizations to most successfully do that over the past five to ten years is a good way to do that. The Spurs have won because of Tim Duncan, the Thunder because of Kevin Durant. But they’ve also won because management hasn’t acted imprudently, has drafted well, and built a culture of sustained success.
This is the way you rebuild.
This week is the Oklahoma City Thunder’s “you can’t go home again” week of the schedule. On Saturday night, Carmelo Anthony will return to New York where Knicks fans should welcome him with cheers and open arms — he meant a lot to that franchise in recent years — but may very well not.
First up, however, Paul George returns to Indiana in a Thunder uniform Wednesday night.
There’s little doubt how he will be greeted by Indiana fans, who felt betrayed by a man they stuck by through recovery from a severe injury. George knows what is coming,
Here are the key lines from PG13:
“Boos. I honestly wouldn’t think it would be any other way. The Pacers fans outweigh the Paul George fans. That’s what I’m looking forward to. For whatever reason, I’ll be booed, but I’m gonna embrace that. I’m gonna thrive on that.”
For whatever reason? You asked to be traded and fans take that personally. There is no loyalty in sports — I have no problem with players asking out because teams show no hesitancy in dumping players they no longer have a use for (and fans are almost always good with that) — but he had to know how this would be taken in Indiana.
What George might want to worry about is stopping the red-hot Victor Oladipo (he averaged 35.7 points per game last week), because he and the Pacers are playing better than the Thunder right now.
The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.
Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.
He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.
Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.
However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.
That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?
The injuries just keep hitting the Pelicans. Guys like Solomon Hill and Alexis Ajinca are out for extended periods of time. Anthony Davis has missed four of the team’s last six games and is questionable for Wednesday night due to a left adductor injury.
Now comes the news that reserve guard Tony Allen will be out three to four weeks due to a nondisplaced left proximal fibula fracture, the team announced Tuesday. This is the part of the bone near the ankle.
Allen has played a limited role for New Orleans off the bench this season, averaging 12.4 minutes a game, and averaging 4.7 points. His reputation is that of a defensive stopper, and when he is on the court this season the Pelicans’ defense has been 5.6 points per 100 possessions better. However, father time has started to catch up with him and he is not the defender he once was.
Expect the minutes to bump up for Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore with this injury, which is not a bad thing as they have played well (they were knocking down threes against the Rockets Monday like they were named Curry), plus Ian Clark could get a little more run.
Kawhi Leonard, enabled by the Spurs’ no-nonsense culture, is probably the NBA’s most boring superstar.
He’s widely recognized as the league’s best defender, and he has worked himself into an elite offensive threat. He has already won a Finals MVP, and regular-season MVP could eventually be in the cards.
But Leonard is notoriously reserved. For someone who has been on this stage for so long, we know little about him.
Except we now know he apparently likes karate.
Gonna chop y’all up. Look at all of us. Karate styyyle.
If “karate styyyle” doesn’t become Leonard’s catchphrase, I don’t even know what we’re doing.
Leonard will finally have the chance to chop up an NBA opponent tonight, when he makes his return from injury.
Michael C. Wright of ESPN: