Washington Wizards players want to make the playoffs this year. John Wall and others have talked openly about that as a goal. They think the team — with the additions of Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza — can make the leap.
But in speaking to the media, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis seemed to tamp down expectations about this season.
At the lottery last June he said that another season in the lottery would be “unacceptable.” Now, he is redefining unacceptable. From CSNWashington.com.
“We would all find it unacceptable if we finished with the second- or third-worst record in the NBA this year. That would be a failure and the failure would start with me. I think we’re in a much better position. I think we will get better because our young players have now been seasoned.”
Leonsis spent a lot of time talking about a process, about how they want to draft well and retain guys like Bradley Beal. That is how to build a winner that lasts. But that means incremental growth not huge leaps.
Yet even Leonsis wouldn’t totally rain on the playoffs parade.
“It’s a combination of all those little things and those investments that we’re making that we think will incrementally improve the team so that this year it’s very respectful, very competitive and why not try to make the playoffs? Just a couple games over .500 seems to get you there and that’s how the guys are looking at it. So who am I to argue to with the players and the coaches? They feel upbeat, so that’s why I feel upbeat.”
Upbeat may not mean playoffs. Not with Wall out for the first month of the season (and Nene still battling the foot issue that slowed him last season). But the Wizards should be better. They are improving. But it’s a process.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.
Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks
Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.
So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.
“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.
Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.