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.

GM David Griffin: Cavaliers have made J.R. Smith ‘incredibly competitive and aggressive offer’

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 22:  J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers acknowledges the crowd during the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA Championship victory parade and rally on June 22, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
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We’ve now reached the “negotiate through the media” stage of J.R. Smith‘s free agency.

Everyone expects Smith to re-sign with the Cavaliers, but training camp opened without a deal. Reportedly, discussions are somewhere between $10 million and $15 million annually with contract length a roadblock.

Cavs general manager David Griffin, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:

“As we have stated and coach has previously stated, we think very highly of J.R. and we love him as a member of our team, as a member of our locker room,” General Manager David Griffin said. “He was essential to our success and for that reason we have made an incredibly competitive and aggressive offer in re-signing him.”

I bet Smith’s agent, Rich Paul, would say his contract demands are perfectly reasonable, too.

The Cavaliers want to maximize chemistry as the they defend their title, and that means getting Smith signed as quickly as possible. But they also want to avoid paying Smith a large salary – and taking a big luxury-tax hit – as he declines into his 30s.

Something will eventually give, but first, Griffin is telling the world ending the stalemate is in Smith’s court – though not revealing the exact offer(s) to be judged publicly. We’ll see how Smith and Paul respond.

Report: Derrick Rose more concerned about rape allegation than he’s publicly revealing

FILE - In this June 24, 2016, file photo, New York Knicks' Derrick Rose speaks during a news conference at Madison Square Garden in New York. Phil Jackson made a risky move when he traded for the injury-prone Rose in June, and now the Knicks face the possibility of their point guard's involvement in a rape trial in California during his first preseason with the team.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
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Phil Jackson said the Knicks aren’t concerned about the civil and potentially criminal rape allegations Derrick Rose is facing. Rose doesn’t sound concerned, either.

But is Rose just putting on a front?

Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:

For now, the Knicks wait – and hope. Hope that the civil suit is resolved quickly. Hope that Rose – who has been troubled by the uncertainty of his legal entanglements more than he is letting on, sources familiar with Rose told The Vertical – is able to block out the distractions and build on the progress he made last season.

Rose should be concerned. Whatever happened that night, the specter of criminal prosecution and/or civil judgment against him are daunting outcomes. He can try to put that aside and focus on basketball, but this is a major event in his life.

Jimmy Butler still begging Fred Hoiberg to coach him harder

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 20: Head coach Fred Hoiberg of the Chicago Bulls talks with Jimmy Butler during a game against the Golden State Warriors
at the United Center on January 20, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Bulls reportedly has chemistry issues last season stemming from the Jimmy Butler-Fred Hoiberg relationship. Butler’s most public critique of Hoiberg came in December, when the wing said, “We probably have to be coached a lot harder at times.”

A reasonable criticism for the mild-mannered Hoiberg? Perhaps, especially for a team that responded so well to the hard-driving Tom Thibodeau for the better part of five years.

The best delivery? Probably not, considering Hoiberg was still trying to find his way in his first NBA season.

But Butler hasn’t changed his message.

Butler, via CSN Chicago:

“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example. I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing.’,” Butler said. “Because if Doug or Tony or whoever it may be is watching coach talk to me like that, it’s going to be like, ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that, I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ That’s what I try to remind him every day. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else. I want that. I need that.”

Tim Duncan was celebrated for years for taking the brunt of Gregg Popovich’s criticism in San Antonio, setting an example for younger Spurs. So much of what Butler has done lately has been spun into a negative, but it seems he’s really trying to sacrifice his pride to help teammates like Doug McDermott and Tony Snell.

If Hoiberg goes along, this could quiet complaints about Butler’s leadership and preferential treatment.

With Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in New York, the Bulls are Butler’s team now. Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have said as much.

It seems Butler is doing what he can to lead the Bulls – his way. The question: Does Hoiberg also think that’s the best way?

Jeremy Lin: My race made Linsanity bigger

Dallas Mavericks v New York Knicks
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Jeremy Lin might want to move past Linsanity, but  he’ll always be linked to that period in 2012. It was so enthralling for numerous reasons, including:

  • Lin played unsustainably great basketball, leading the Knicks to a 7-1 record while starting with Carmelo Anthony injured and averaging 25.0 points and 9.5 assists per game in that span.
  • Lin was excelling in New York, America’s biggest media market.
  • The Knicks were desperate for success, having not won a single playoff game in the last decade.
  • Lin was undrafted and relatively unknown before breaking out.
  • Lin played at Harvard, which is universally known for academics and barely known for basketball.
  • Lin is Asian-American, a rarity in high-level basketball.

Yes, that last factor mattered.

Lin, via Peter Botte of the New York Daily News:

“In some ways, Linsanity wouldn’t have been Linsanity if I was a different skin color, most likely, it wouldn’t have been as big of a deal, and that went to my advantage, too, but if you look prior to that, a lot of the obstacles to even get to that point where I could get to a position of getting on the floor, those were definitely obstacles that were very much stereotypes that I had to fight along the way. So I’ve always understood that there’s good and there’s bad and you have to take them together and just be thankful for it all.”

Linsanity was a culmination of all the elements listed above. Maybe it would’ve happened without one or two, but THE essential factor was Lin’s on-court production. Without that, he never would’ve become a national phenomenon.

Lin’s heritage – he was born in California to Taiwanese-born parents – accentuated his basketball skills, but the basketball skills were the base for his popularity.

And as Lin said, his race was a double-edged sword. It made him less likely to get the benefit of the doubt when rising through the basketball ranks. I believe that coaches, scouts and other players were less inclined to believe in his basketball ability because of his race.

But Lin overcame that and eventually reaped the awards of being an outlier.

Lin has long seemed to possess a keen understanding of himself and a willingness to discuss it. I think he’s spot-on here, and it leads to a better understanding of one of the biggest NBA stories in recent years.