Winderman: Summer shows love of the three not NBA fad

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Well, this was quite unexpected, but apparently we’ve arrived in the summer of three love.

It started with the Heat dropping a championship-winning barrage of 3-pointers on the Thunder in the deciding game of the NBA Finals, Mike Miller somehow displaying anguish and rapture at the same time while hobbling from arc to arc on that late-June evening.

It has continued with a shoot-’til-you-drop approach from the U.S. Olympic team, which has been on a record-setting pace from beyond the shorter international circle.

And now, as the final coaching vacancy of the offseason is filled, Terry Stotts arrives in Portland with the proclamation that the 3-point line will stand among the lines of attack for his Trail Blazers.
And to think, only months ago, many, apparently including Dwight Howard, were deriding the Magic’s approach of loading up from beyond the circle.

Then again, among the offseason’s biggest moves was the Heat, already armed with the longball from Miller, Shane Battier, James Jones and Mario Chalmers, opting not to go for needed size, but instead for a pair of all-time 3-point marksmen in Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.

Nearly as surprising, at least in terms of dollars, was Ryan Anderson’s shift from the Magic to the Hornets in a sign-and-trade, a power forward coveted for his 3-point range.

This isn’t to say that coaches won’t continue to stew when the attempts from beyond the arc outnumber the attempts from the foul line.

But when the likes of Mike Krzyzewski, the somewhat stodgy Trail Blazers and the very stodgy Heat are approving of offense from distance, the Mike D’Antoni and Stan Van Gundy fad of recent years, even in their coaching absences, appears to have morphed into a full-fledged trend.

From an aesthetic standpoint, there is plenty to be said about the 3-pointer. Arguably, the most exciting plays in the game are the 3-pointer and the dunk. With the spacing provided by the 3-pointer, the dunks often follow, as witnessed by the Heat’s performance in the NBA Finals and much of USA Basketball’s play in the Olympics.

Inevitably, coaches will get back to talking about grinding and defense, because that’s what they always do, a controlled game perceived as a better-coached game.

But this offseason has presented possibilities for something really fun, something that should be given the opportunity to endure.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.