Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Four

Mike Brown says expect to see Metta World Peace at shooting guard

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Mike Brown has been a man under fire to start the season. His team has underperformed to the tune of a 1-3 start which has led to speculation that his job is in jeopardy.

One of the key complaints levied against Brown has been his lack of consistency with his rotations and how he’s managed personnel groupings once his starters go to the bench. Apparently, Brown is trying to rectify that according the Eric Pincus of the LA Times:

Metta World Peace will get minutes at shooting guard, Lakers Coach Mike Brown said.

“That’s going to be my second unit,” said Brown.  “Metta will be the two, [Antawn] Jamison is the three, [Jordan] Hill is the four and [Dwight] Howard or Pau [Gasol] is going to be the five.”

Playing World Peace at shooting guard with the second unit comes with its advantages. Even though he’s lost a half-step (or more) on defense, he’s still the Lakers’ best wing stopper. While the sample size is small, the Lakers’ post a defensive efficiency of 97.0 when World Peace is on the floor, the best number on the team according the NBA.com.

Offensively, there are also ways this can be successful. While World Peace is struggling with his long distance shot (6-19 from thee point range), he’s made 66% of his two point field goals so far this year and is still a threat in the post and cutting to the rim. Plus, in recent seasons, he’s performed relatively well when he’s not shared the court with Kobe and can be more of an offensive focal point.

All that said, there are also some issues that could easily crop up by moving in this direction.

First off, the Lakers have a serious issue with how many minutes their key players are racking up early in the season. Kobe, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, and World Peace all average over 34 minutes a game, with Pau and Kobe again near the top of the league in minutes played. For a team whose health and relative freshness come playoff time will be a key factor to their success, playing bench players less doesn’t seem to be the best solution.

Second, the Lakers signed Jodie Meeks in the off-season specifically to play as Kobe’s back up. His shooting can be a key ingredient in helping to provide much needed offensive spacing and his defense grades out as better than he’s given credit for. Not to mention how moving away from Meeks this early in the season without giving him much of an opportunity to succeed can potentially hurt his confidence and how he feels about his role.

These are big picture issues that can’t be ignored in the pursuit of more short term success. The best coaches are able to walk that line between managing for the present and long haul better than others and there are still questions about whether Brown is up to that balancing act.

Where Brown deserves credit is in realizing he needs to settle on a rotation, following through and making a decision. A fact he points out when saying:

“I’ve got to give my bench a chance, because right now I really haven’t.  I’ve been messing around with it too much trying to search for combinations. Now that I’ve found a combination that I think I want to roll with it a little bit, let’s give them a chance to see how they play before making another change.”

That said, even if he’s being decisive it still seems short sighted and a path with several potential pitfalls. I guess this is why those reports about his job being in jeopardy exist in the first place.

Kings’ Rudy Gay suffers apparent torn left Achilles tendon, would be done for season

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This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.

Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.

Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.

Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. Those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings,  and with that team’s playoff chances have taken a hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers). Don’t be surprised if the Kings look to add a scorer at the trade deadline.

Gay was not happy in Sacramento and said he planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.

That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.

Zaza Pachulia lays out Russell Westbrook, stands over him (video)

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Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.

Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.

Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.

Report: 76ers’ Ben Simmons sitting entire season still on table

TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 07:  Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers poses for a portrait during the 2016 NBA Rookie Photoshoot at Madison Square Garden Training Center on August 7, 2016 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?

It just won’t die.

Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.

Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.

76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.

It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.

Roy Hibbert passes ball into hoop, reacts with perfect facial expression (video)

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The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.

Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).