Omer Asik

Tom Thibodeau says Omer Asik a lot like Yao Ming

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No, it’s not that Omer Asik is going to get voted in as an All-Star starter whether he deserves it or not.

But Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau — who was an assistant with the Rockets and worked with Asik when he was on the Bulls last season — thinks that Asik and Yao Ming are a lot alike. That’s what he told the Houston Chronicle (hat tip to the NBA’s Hang Time Blog). It seems odd because Yao (when healthy) was a far more polished offensive player, a guy who had great post moves plus a midrange jumper you had to respect. Asik… let’s be kind and say he’s not quite there yet. Or close.

But Thibs thinks the comparisons work on a more important level.

“In a lot of ways,” Thibodeau said, “he is like Yao Ming…

“Very, very bright,” Thibodeau said of his former big men. “(Asik) has size, intelligence, great feet, drive and a willingness play for the team. He reacts quickly, anticipates, and he’s relentless. He’s a multiple effort guy. He’s a 7-footer, smart, driven. He will get better.”

Asik is a defense first guy and anchors the Rockets on that end of the floor (where they are playing right about the league average now, but trust me it would be a whole lot worse without Asik).

But Thibs meant this as a compliment to Asik’s mental game and work ethic — two things Yao had in abundance. (If you don’t think he worked insanely hard during all those comebacks to get where he did you weren’t watching.) So we’ll take it that way. And not try to mention how far apart Asik actually is from Yao skill-wise.

Looks like Donovan to keep Andre Roberson, Steven Adams as starters

Los Angeles Clippers v Oklahoma City Thunder
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Billy Donovan was given the head coaching job in Oklahoma City to bring their offense into modern times — and it seems to be working, Russell Westbrook said he feels a lot more space in the system.

But if the Thunder are going to contend for a title, they need a top 10 defense as well — and to do that Donovan is going to keep a Scott Brooks move and continue to start  Andre Roberson and Steven Adams. Check out the starting lineup for their first preseason game Wednesday.

There also was this report via Anthony Slater in the Oklahoman yesterday about a scrimmage at practice.

Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson all started for the White team. Nick Collison joined them, but that was only because Steven Adams sat out with back soreness….

Donovan said the teams weren’t split by accident. That’s how they’ve been divided in practice. So at this point, it seems Roberson is this team’s starting shooting guard and Adams is the team’s starting center.

This is the smart move. Last season the lineup of Westbrook, Roberson, Durant, Ibaka and Adams was +13.4 points per 100 possessions over their opponents. Roberson and Adams are there for defense — neither brings much offensive game to the floor, but when you have Westbrook and Durant and only one ball between them, you don’t need more offensive threats. You’re going to get plenty of points.

If they can just stay healthy, Oklahoma City is a team to be feared.

Knicks’ legend Harry Gallatin passes away at age 88

Harry Gallatin
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The Hall of Fame player behind the original iron man streak is with us no more.

Knicks’ legend Harry Gallatin passes away at age 88, the team confirmed Wednesday.

Gallatin led the Knicks of the late 1940s and into the 1950s, when he set a then record playing in 610 consecutive games. Nicknamed “The Horse,” he was a beast on the boards who averaged 15.3 rebounds a game one season and averaged 11.9 boards and 13 points per game over the course of his 10-year career. He’s still fourth all time in total rebounds in Knicks franchise history.

Gallatin was a seven-time All-Star and twice All-NBA selection. After his playing days, he spent many years as the athletic director at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.