Friday night’s game between the Thunder and the Lakers wasn’t close, but Serge ibaka and Metta World Peace appeared to try to make up for that by getting tangled up in the closing minutes.
With under three minutes to play and Oklahoma City leading by 10, Ibaka and MWP were fighting for position on a free throw attempt from Jodie Meeks.
The shot went in, which makes this all the more ridiculous. But after the two got tangled up, neither wanted to be the one to break the hold first, so words were exchanged, and double technicals were handed out by the officials.
World Peace has the reputation, obviously, and has the bad blood with the Thunder franchise after dropping James Harden with a vicious elbow just last season.
But Ibaka has been known to throw a death grip of his own, so let’s just chalk this one up to two so-called tough guys not wanting to back down from a non-existent confrontation.
Where this gets interesting, of course, is in the event that the Lakers get their act together before the postseason, and end up in a seven-game series against the Thunder. Incidents like this will be filed away by both teams if that happens, and the end result could be a true rivalry that would be amazing to see play out.
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
Hawks get another playoff shot at King James and Cavaliers
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
ESPN sources say the Warriors, meanwhile, plan to go outside the organization at season's end for a replacement to add to the current staff.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
Luke Walton's contract to coach the Lakers will be for five years and about $25 million.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.