The last few possessions of this game were pretty crazy, so it’s only fitting that things ended on a shot like this.
The Knicks beat the Bobcats on Wednesday in a game that was closer than expected, likely due to the fact that it was a look-ahead contest for them with a nationally televised game against the Heat in Miami on the horizon Thursday night.
But New York managed to keep it close enough to have a shot, and the youth and inexperience of the Bobcats ended up being their downfall in the game’s closing minutes.
And yes, there was this shot from J.R. Smith — a brilliant step-back jumper over the outstretched arm of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist that hit nothing but net as time expired.
Charlotte had its chances, with possession of the ball in a tie game with under a minute to play. Ben Gordon turned it over on a traveling violation up top, and then after Raymond Felton missed a jumper, Kidd-Gilchrist threw a brutal pass that was semi-cross court, and that had no chance of being received by his teammate.
Smith deflected it into Felton’s hands, and after Felton passed up a chance to go to the basket in a two-on-one situation, he kicked it out to Smith, and it was comic relief time as he couldn’t decide what to do next.
Smith first dribbled out toward the time line to reset the play, but with precious seconds ticking away, Jason Kidd nearly tackled the referee in calling for timeout before disaster struck, and the opportunity to win in regulation was lost.
Smith was able to compose himself once play resumed, and this beautiful game-winner was the result.
The Rockets and Clippers both turned aggressive with today’s Chris Paul trade.
Houston is making a bold attempt to overtake the Warriors (a plan that could include other big moves). The Clippers are launching into rebuilding.
Kurt Helin breaks down what it means for both teams.
The Knicks did well to part ways with Phil Jackson, but where does New York go from here?
Masai Ujiri? David Griffin? Someone else?
Kurt Helin breaks down Jim Dolan’s options – and the approach the Knicks owner should take.
The Kings have a decent crop of low-paid young players: Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Malachi Richardson.
Soon, Sacramento will add a highly paid young player to the group: Bogdan Bogdanovic, whose rights the Kings acquired when trading down from No. 8 with the Suns in last year’s draft.
Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:
Because Bogdanovic was drafted three years ago (No. 27 by Phoenix in 2014), the Kings can exceed the rookie scale to sign him.
Bogdanovic is a talented 24-year-old, but this deal removes much of the value usually tied to rookies on cost-controlled scale contracts. It’s hard to see Bogdanovic’s production exceeding his salary over the next four years.
Still, what else was Sacramento supposed to do with its cap space? Just getting Bogdanovic to jump from Europe might be worth it. The Kings already have more cap flexibility than they know what to do with – especially after letting Ben McLemore become an unrestricted free agent.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
Sacramento took McLemore No. 7 in the 2013 draft then spent the next four years watching his value depreciate.
Teams will line up to take a flier on him. Will someone pay him as if he’ll pan out even a little? That question will drive his unrestricted free agency.
Chris Paul is on his way to Houston in an attempt to form a superteam to challenge Golden State.
Now what for the Clippers?
They have two options: One, tear it all the way down and rebuild.
The other: Re-sign Blake Griffin, run the offense through him and put his underrated passing skills to the test while surrounded by shooters.
The Clippers are opting for door No. 2, at least for now, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
The fundamental question is: Does Griffin want to stay? The Clippers can offer more money and a larger contract, five -years starting just shy of $30 million a year. However, he will have good teams from the East calling. Miami is interested, and they have a strong point guard in Goran Dragic, a good wing defender in Justise Winslow, and a guy inside who can defend, rebound, and finish dunks in Hassan Whiteside. Plus, no state taxes on all that new money. Also, Boston (if they strike out with Gordon Hayward) and other teams will come calling. Griffin will have options.
If Griffin does stay, this could be interesting if the team is built right. Griffin is an underrated passer and playmaker — he averaged more than five assists per game last season, and that was with Chris Paul on the team. The Clippers would need to use him sort of like Denver uses Nikola Jokic, running the offense through him out high where he is a threat to score from with a midrange jumper, put the ball on the floor, or make a pass. Griffin would need to be surrounded by shooters and guys willing to work off the ball, such as J.J. Redick. Who is almost certainly gone.
If Griffin leaves, the Clippers don’t have much a choice and will have to start shopping DeAndre Jordan around and rebuilding the team (they got a fairly good haul for CP3 for that, considering the situation, Sam Decker and Montrezl Harrell are good young players who can be part of a rotation). Then Los Angeles will have two rebuilding teams, and that always makes for a great rivalry.