Certainly the Lakers will be in the spotlight and every twitch will be magnified after the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. But it’s not the soap opera some expect — this is not going to be a Kobe vs. Shaq part deux. Dwight Howard will make news but wants to mend is battered PR and will be on his best behavior. Steve Nash is too mellow, and there is no doubt that is still Kobe’s team.
The Heat will have drama, too, but they mostly adjusted to each other and life in the fishbowl.
So, where will the soap opera be next NBA season?
ESPN asked its writers and the runaway winner was the New York Knicks, with 46 percent of the vote. And it makes some sense — they live in the brightest of media spotlights, they have an unsettled team balance between Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, and they have the pressure of expectations from fans (ones that may be hard to live up to).
The second team on their list is the Magic (15 percent), but I don’t agree. They sent their soap opera to Los Angeles, they are just a rebuilding team now.
Third was the Kings (10 percent) and there will be drama, but it will be because of the owners and their stumbling toward trying to get the team out of Sacramento. The owners are the reality show — literally — and the team is just trying to fly under their radar.
I’m curious what happens with the Nets, especially if they don’t win early. They have a new building and big expectations now, and they are in the New York fishbowl. Philly will be interesting when the fans and media get critical with Andrew Bynum (right now it’s a honeymoon, but the L.A. media was nicer to him than he will get after a game where he tunes out for the Sixers.)
But really, still hard to pick against the Knicks in this one. We’ll see if they can win through the turmoil like the Yankees did for years.
LaMarcus Aldridge’s 39 points lead Spurs past Wolves, 117-101
SAN ANTONIO (AP) –LaMarcus Aldridge had 39 points and 10 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a sluggish start to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-101 on Saturday night.
San Antonio won its third straight to move into fifth in the Western Conference five days after dropping to 10th and out of playoff position.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota, which dropped to sixth in the West.
The Spurs had lost three straight and nine of 11 but are now unbeaten halfway through a six-game homestand.
San Antonio shot 84 percent in the second quarter, their best shooting quarter since 2010.
Two nights after battling New Orleans’ Anthony Davis on both ends, Aldridge had to take on another All-Star in Towns. Aldridge responded by leading the Spurs in scoring for the 49th time this season while helping keep Towns in check.
Aldridge scored 18 of 21 points during a five-minute stretch in the second quarter, including 12 straight. He capped the run by coming from the weak side to swat Towns’ floater deep into the seats.
Minnesota started quickly, shooting 78 percent from the floor in the first 5 1/2 minutes while San Antonio floundered at 17 percent. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called timeout, only to watch the Timberwolves’ Jeff Teague steal the ball once play resumed.
The Pistons were likely to lose to the red-hot Trail Blazers on the road, and that came to be Saturday night 100-87, Portland 12th straight win. The Pistons shot 38.8 percent for the game and had a dreadful offensive rating of 93.8 (points per 100 possessions).
Portland is one the top five defensive teams in the NBA this season, but that’s not what Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy thought was the problem — he laid the blame on the officiating.
#Pistons SVG went off on the officiating in the loss to the #Blazers: "The (Blazers) held and grabbed on every play and they got away with fouls all over the place. We got absolutely screwed all night. Luke makes a back-cut to the basket on an.. pic.twitter.com/8RhgjnOOeV
Van Gundy is frustrated — with this game and with this season. So are Pistons fans, and seemingly so is Detroit owner Tom Gores after his lukewarm vote of confidence in Van Gundy recently. They should be, this team is a disappointment and the Blake Griffin trade was a big swing that has yet to work out. The Pistons are going to miss the playoffs. Around the league, the sense is that Van Gundy will lose his GM job to former super agent Arn Tellem, who was brought in to guide the Pistons into their new building but now whose talents would better serve the basketball side of the operation. The only question is will Van Gundy still be coaching in Detroit next season — just coaching, like Doc Rivers with the Clippers — or of the change will be more sweeping than that.
Hornets’ coach gives savage, frank assessment of Willy Hernangomez
When Willy Hernangomez was not getting much run with the Knicks this season, especially as injuries opened up space in the front line rotation, there were questions as to why. Then the #freeWillyHernangomez movement popped up.
Eventually, Hernangomez was traded to the Hornets where… he barely plays. He’s gotten more than 10 minutes just once since coming to Charlotte.
“If you were in one place and didn’t play much, if you want to play more in the next place, I’d say work harder and kill myself,” Clifford said at the Hornets shootaround at the Players Association’s midtown headquarters. “The reality is he wasn’t playing here for a reason. He’s got to change things…
“He’s not up to speed on what we’re doing to play a lot,” Clifford said. “It’s been a little bit of a struggle for him. He’s smart, but he’s not this high-flier, phenomenal, natural athlete able to make up ground. He’s got to be on top of things, especially on the defensive end. If he’s not detailed defensively, he’s not that [athletic] guy…
“To be an every-night player, and I’ve told him this, he’s got to improve his shooting,” Clifford said. “He is right now, in my opinion, a back-to-the-basket player who can pass. But the reality is his passing doesn’t come into play until they have to get close to him and know he’s not going to knock down a shot. And he’s not a knockdown shooter.”
Just to be clear he’s got to put in a lot more effort, become smarter on the defensive end, and improve his shooting. That’s a healthy off-season checklist.
Hernangomez has another year on his contract at a very reasonable $1.5 million before the Hornets have to make any kind of decision on him, which means whoever is the new GM in Charlotte he will choose to keep Hernangomez around. For now. He flashed potential his rookie season with the Knicks, when asked to play strictly to his strengths, but Clifford and the Hornets — and basically every other team in the NBA — is going to ask more of him.
Clifford was clear, as no doubt he has been clear to Hernangomez (Clifford is as straight a shooter as the league has). The ball is in Hernangomez’s court.
Glen “Big Baby” Davis denies drug charges while eating Popeyes on a charter plane
Last month, former NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis was arrested last month at a hotel in a suburb of Baltimore by Jimmy McNulty and Lt. Daniels with 126 grams of marijuana and more than $96,000 in cash, according to a police report. He has been charged with possession and intent to distribute.
Davis has declared his innocence in the best denial video ever — eating Popeyes chicken and flashing cash and a championship ring.
I have no idea whether Davis is guilty or not, I was not at a Hampton’s Inn outside Baltimore last month. The court system will sort that out, that is what it’s there for.
But I know a brilliant video when I see one. This is it.