I have the utmost respect for Magic Johnson the basketball player. I think he gets shortchanged in GOAT conversations, a guy who broke the mold and would have fit it brilliantly in today’s NBA undergoing a positional revolution because guys are trying to develop the varried skill set he had.
I think Johnson should be remembered more for what he did off the court. How he became a symbol that helped change perceptions and the debate about HIV and AIDS. How as a businessman he succeed by bringing amenities to parts of Los Angeles that were underserved by large corporations only looking at spreadsheets. He is a towering figure in the city.
Magic Johnson the basketball analyst… I don’t really have much use for. Everyone can have an opinion, let’s just say mine and his disagree quite often. So when I see what he tweeted Wednesday, I just shrug.
Really Magic? Mourning?
I know you feel full of yourself following the “I told you so” about hiring Mike Brown. I know you have a business relationship with Jackson and you two are friends. Still…
Get over it.
Which frankly is what Lakers fans are doing. Listing to talk radio and just talking to people here in Los Angeles, they would have preferred Jackson, but most of them were ready to dump Mike Brown in July (which is when the Lakers should have done it if they were going to make a move). They gladly will take D’Antoni over Brown. They watched a Lakers team the last three games and seen a squad freed from an overly complicated offense that had the team thinking and not just reacting — and they have seen a Lakers team start to come together. Yes, they lost to the Spurs Tuesday, but the Brown coached Lakers of the week before would have been crushed against these Spurs.
Mike D’Antoni brings an offense that is not a perfect fit, he brings questions about defense, but he also brings hope. Something Lakers fans were losing under Brown.
Magic, get over it. And realize that if you’re really a Lakers fan you have to come around — you can’t root against a team out of spite for the coach. Then you come off like those 1972 Dolphins players.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get back to mourning about how the Dodgers played this season.
Ben Simmons is out with a broken foot — a Jones fracture — and that has led to rampant speculation about when the Sixers’ No. 1 pick might return to the court. Coach Brett Brown said January (the short end of the timeline) then walked those comments back, while there are rumors people in Simmons camp may want him to sit out the season.
Sixers CEO Scott O’Neill was on TCN’s Breakfast on Broad and made it clear Simmons will be back this season. He blew off the idea that Rich Paul (Simmons’ agent) wants him to take the season off.
“No, it’s not true,” O’Neil said. “Yeah, he’ll be back.”
There is no timeline for Simmons’ return, which isn’t just the team managing expectations (well, it’s partially the team trying to manage expectations). Jones fractures involve the bone that runs from the base of your little toe up to near the ankle, and the problem is that area of the foot does not have great natural blood flow, which means healing can be slow and harder to predict. We know that Simmons had surgery to repair the break, but recovery times will be flexible.
Brett Brown told me in a ProBasketballTalk Podcast how much he just wants to get Simmons, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric, and Nerlens Noel all healthy at the same time so he can start to see what lineups work, which guys play well off each other and which don’t (we learned last season Noel and Okafor are not a great fit). Maybe Simmons can be part of that process in the second half of the season.
Devin Harris is the kind of veteran, versatile player Dallas coach Rick Carlisle likes in his backcourt — he can run the point or be a small two-guard off the ball. Carlise wants multiple ball handlers on the court and Harris allows him to do that with a number of different combinations.
Or rather, Harris will allow Carlisle to do that once he gets healthy. From Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com.
Harris had surgery on the big toe on his other foot, this injury is to the “good” one. Harris can be a bit injury prone and the Mavs likely will bring him along slowly.
This likely means more J.J. Barea and Seth Curry in the short term in Dallas.
Late in the blowout loss to the Cavaliers Tuesday, it was clear the Knicks were making a point of trying to run more triangle sets — it’s an offense a lot of their players are still just starting to learn and the game turned into a glorified practice.
On the night as a whole, Derrick Rose was his old self on his way to 17 points on 17 shots: 41.2 percent of his attempts came after seven or more dribbles and after he held the ball for at least six seconds. He took six shots as the pick-and-roll ball handler and hit two of them. (Carmelo Anthony shot 2-of-7 as the pick-and-roll ball handler.)
Should the Knicks put him in more pick-and-roll situations where he’s comfortable? Here are some postgame quotes, via Ian Begley of ESPN.
“Towards the end, when you saw us running it, it was just us trying to get used to it so it’s not that foreign,” Rose said. “We got a lot of room to make up on that side of the ball too.”
“He had that good explosion,” Hornacek said of Rose, who scored 17 points (7-for-17 shooting) in 29 minutes. “He’s just got to figure out all of the stuff that we’re doing, and he’ll be a big part of our team and really help us.”
“We want guys to feel comfortable with kind of who they are,” Anthony said. “We don’t want to try to change anybody’s game. If Derrick feels comfortable being up there in high pick-and-roll, that’s his game. You can’t take him away from that. You want to utilize guys’ strengths. That’s who he is, that’s who he’s always been. We want to rely on that. We don’t want to take that away from him.”
The triangle offense takes time to learn, and Rose has been honest that it’s going to take time. Which is the norm. When Phil Jackson took over the Shaq/Kobe Lakers in 2000 and led them to a championship the triangle got credit, but that Lakers’ offense had an almost identical points per possession as the season before (what won them the title was a vastly improved defense). It was in future years that the offense started to click with the players, after they had run it for a season or two.
The Knicks want to make the playoffs now, which may mean some triangle sacrifices. New York certainly played faster for much of the game against the Cavaliers, which should get them some easy buckets. They should let Rose run some pick-and-rolls where he’s comfortable, particularly drag screens early in the clock. Mostly, the Knicks need to keep the ball moving and the players moving, not let it stagnate into defendable isolation basketball (even if Anthony and Rose can make some plays that way). And in the halfcourt, run the triangle — but keep the ball moving.
One game against the defending champs is not going to define the Knicks season, but they also see where the bar is set. They have some work to do this season.
LeBron James is an Akron guy born and raised, who is caught up in Indians fever like the rest of Northeast Ohio.
Dwyane Wade is Chicago born and raised, a Cubs fan who wants to see the team end its 108-year drought.
So the two have made a World Series bet — loser has to show up at the winner’s arena in the World Series champ’s gear.
After Game 1 — on the night he was collecting his latest ring — LeBron has to feel pretty good.
Either way, the payoff should be good.