This is something I just kind of stumbled on this morning while reading a post from earlier this month about how Pat Riley said about how smallball is “who (the Heat) are, now.”
I, and others have written a lot about how the Heat’s lineup to finish the season, with Chris Bosh playing a combination 4/5 and LeBron James playing a combination 1/3/4/5 was indicative of how the league has developed more and more into a smallball league. And we’re seeing several teams this season playing faster and smaller. Boston was already playing Kevin Garnett at the 5 last year, Denver is talking about Danilo Gallinari at the 4, The Mavericks will likely have lineups with Dirk Nowitzki and Elton Brand as their 4-5 combo, and the Knicks have made noise about reserve lineups featuring Amar’e Stoudemire at the 5 and Carmelo Anthony at the 4.
Do the Heat represent some sort of illustration of how the league has shifted?
Maybe the better question is if Miami is a great example of how what matters is talent, and how that can make any system, even smallball, work.
The common joke response to “what did Miami do to make smallball work?” is “Have LeBron James” and while that can get annoying after a while, ignoring everything that Erik Spoelstra and company put into the structure of the offense, it does present a bigger part of the puzzle. James enables the Heat to be able to have success with his system. And while they may not have had success with the Triangle, or Princeton offense, or Seven Seconds or Less, they have made this one work, despite its limitations, because of the strength of their roster. Not every system would (or did) work for the Heat. See: 2011. But this one does.
And it opens up the idea that perhaps the secret to these super-teams lies in unconventional answers to traditional questions, even if they rely on some key cliches long-term. The Heat are still a defensive team first. The Nuggets brought in Iguodala to improve their defense. But the idea that speed can’t be successful when the playoffs come is being proven wrong with the caveat that you need to wreak havoc with stops and turnovers on defense first.
There’s not a great chance of success for teams who are not Miami to win with smallball. But in the long-term future of the NBA, it does show that if you get the right pieces, you can win it all with the kind of play that so often gets disregarded as “not playoff basketball.”
Charles Oakley might not be welcome at Knicks games in New York.
Knicks games in Cleveland? I suspect he’ll get a different reception.
Ian Begley of ESPN:
Charles Oakley plans to attend New York’s road game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night, the former Knicks player told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
Oakley, a Cleveland native, has grown close with the Cavaliers. LeBron James particularly backed Oakley in his dispute with Knicks owner Jim Dolan.
To be clear, Oakley’s feud is more with Dolan than the Knicks, Oakley’s former team. So, assuming Dolan doesn’t attend tonight’s game, this won’t into the fireworks we saw at the last Knicks game Oakley attended.
It’ll just be a chance for more people outside Dolan’s payroll to embrace Oakley.
If your goal over the next few months is to make your star player happy, build a contender around him, and convince him he wants to be here as a free agent in 2018, the Pacers got off to a rocky start Thursday.
George had been linked to the Celtics, while teams such as Denver and Atlanta made runs at him. It was a swirling vortex of rumors with a lot of “will the Pacers pull the trigger or not” intrigue.
What was it like to be in the middle of that? George wouldn’t exactly know, he was learning of things when we were, and he sounded a little ticked when talking about it to the media Thursday.
Those rumors you hear about George going to the Lakers as a free agent in 2018 have some real weight behind them, much of the league thinks that could well happen (2018 is a long way off, but other teams that would like to get in the conversation think that’s PG’s intention).
The Pacers need to change his mind, and it sounds like the first step was in the wrong direction.
The Hawks wanted a stretch four to back up Paul Millsap and likely spend time with Dwight Howard.
Realizing its roster lacked an adequate one, Atlanta traded for Ersan Ilyasova.
The stretch four the Hawks already had — Mike Scott — has barely played this seasonand looked lousy when he has, shooting just 4-for-27 on 3-pointers ((15%).
The Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club has acquired a protected second-round draft pick from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Mike Scott, the draft rights to Cenk Akyol and cash considerations, it was announced today by President of Basketball Operations/Head Coach Mike Budenholzer.
Money was the driving force behind this trade.
The Suns can count Scott’s entire salary ($3,333,334) toward the floor while paying only the prorated portion remaining ($941,177). So, Phoenix saves the difference ($2,392,157) and gets whatever cash Atlanta sent.
Presumably, the Hawks included an amount less than they would’ve had to pay just to waive Scott themselves ($3,333,334).
The Suns can undertake a reclamation project on Scott. Or they could just waive him. The 28-year-old looks pretty wayward.
Phoenix also gets Akyol as another nearly valueless piece. The window for Akyol, the No. 59 pick in 2005, to join the NBA is rapidly closing, if it hasn’t already. He’ll turn 30 in April.
Even in the likely event Scott and Akyol amount to nothing for the Suns, they still get the financial benefits. And so do the Hawks.
Has legendary Lakers point guard Magic Johnson found someone to follow in his footsteps?
Almost certainly not.
But, in his second trade with the Rockets since taking over the Lakers’ front office this week, Johnson found a point guard to take a flier on: Tyler Ennis, who was exchanged for Marcelo Huertas.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired guard Tyler Ennis from the Houston Rockets, league sources told The Vertical.
The Lakers sent guard Marcelo Huertas to Houston in exchange for Ennis, sources said. The Rockets will waive Huertas.
Ennis was the No. 18 pick in the 2014 draft. But he has just looked over his head in three NBA seasons with the Suns, Bucks and Rockets. There’s a reason the Lakers got him so cheap. It’s unlikely he’ll stick in the NBA, and D'Angelo Russell is clearly still the franchise point guard.
Still, point guards tend to develop late, and Ennis is just 22. There’s always a chance he’ll rediscover the court vision he displayed at Syracuse.
The Lakers will hope he plays better — just not too much better. Because his fourth-year team-option was declined, they can re-sign him for a starting salary up to just $3,066,713 (what he would’ve earned, with the rookie-scale adjustment under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, if his option had been exercised).
Also in the final guaranteed year of his contract, Huertas is making $233,880 more than Ennis. That’s not much, but if the Rockets were going to waive Ennis anyway — this trade suggests they were — why not save that money?
The 33-year-old Huertas likely drops out of the NBA. He already fell out of the Lakers’ rotation.
And with that spot open and a little extra money to spend — including more from the K.J. McDaniels trade — Houston can be a player in the post-buyout market as it revs up for a playoff run.