These Finals don’t feature coaching legends. Both Scott Brooks and Erik Spoelstra face constant doubts and criticism from fans and media. This is how it works if you haven’t won a title. Win one, and you’re on a whole other level, you have the credit built up and no matter what you get the benefit of the doubt. No one’s talking about Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers getting out-coached at the end of their series.
But even beyond that, Scott Brooks isn’t even on contract past this year. That’s pretty stunning. The man has guided the Thunder from tadpoles to warrior frogs, from the lottery to winning the Western Conference, and yet he doesn’t have a contract. Turns out that’s because the exact value of keeping Brooks is somewhat of a disagreement point for the Thunder and Brooks (and his agent). From Yahoo Sports:
What’s more, Brooks is still working to solidify his own future as Oklahoma City coach. GM Sam Presti wants him back when his contract expires at the end of the Finals, but league sources say Presti has offered a three-year deal worth just under $11 million that Brooks and his agent weren’t willing to accept in the past. They’ve set aside talks for the playoffs, and compromise could come with a guaranteed fourth year. The Thunder needed to see Brooks take one more step with this young team before committing too far into the long term, and Brooks delivered with a conference final victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
via Thunder trying to prove NBA Finals experience doesn’t matter – Yahoo! Sports.
You have to imagine that Brooks has already won himself a larger contract than that with this playoff run. Winning a championship in particular puts him in a whole other price range. There’s also the value of keeping the stars happy, as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will want to retain Brooks should they win the title. There’s a psychological effect that draws people to want to stick together after success like that.
Brooks has been instrumental in crafting this team, in developing Westbook, Harden, Durant, and Ibaka. He’s built a solid roster with great chemistry that plays together. He’s done what’s been asked. He won’t be leaving the Thunder, but it’s going to wind up costing them. It’s difficult to see the Thunder wanting anyone else to take the reins.
DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.
Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.
The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.
This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.
After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.
Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).
Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.
Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.
But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.
He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.
LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.
Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?
In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.
But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.
Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.
“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”