Philly goes big with Bynum, which worries Doc Rivers (a little)

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Doug Collins on Wednesday told a great story that illustrates perfectly just what Andrew Bynum can mean to Philadelphia.

Collins was in London calling basketball games for NBC when the Dwight Howard trade that brought Bynum to the Sixers went down. Collins and NBC Olympics hoops studio analyst Doc Rivers — old friends from around the NBA coaching circuit — were out having dinner. I’ll let John Finger of CSNPhilly.com pick it up with a Collins quote from there.

“It was kind of funny. We were talking one night and he was talking about low-post centers and he said the only guy he really worries about is Andrew Bynum and I was about ready to choke,” Collins said with a wry smile. “I was thinking, ‘Hey, Doc we’re going to get him tomorrow.’”

Boston is going small after their playoff success, you will see a lot of Kevin Garnett at the five. In Miami, there will be a lot of Chris Bosh at the five and LeBron James at the four. And after the Olympics we could see a little LeBron at the five again. The top teams in the East are going small.

The Sixers are countering that by going the other direction — they will roll out Bynum at the five and Spencer Hawes as an oversized four. Then they are going to surround those guys with shooters — Jason Richardson, Jrue Holiday, Nick Young, Dorell Wright. They are going to space the floor and give their new big man in the middle a chance to bang on people.

It’s a great strategy, although it may be a year or two before we know if it works. In part because Bynum is going to have to get used to the double teams that come at him — he is slow to recognize the help and pass out of doubles, and he tends to spin baseline when doubled reducing his options. He is going to have to mature not only to deal with that but also to deal with it nightly. Kobe isn’t there to bail him out.

The Sixers are not going to win the Atlantic Division this year, they are not going to win a title. But they have a plan that could make them very competitive.

And they have a player now in Bynum who worries Doc Rivers and the rest of the East.

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

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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.