The show of support and respect from around the league for Rockets head coach Kevin McHale, who has returned to the team following an extended leave of absence after the passing of his daughter, has truly been amazing to see.
It shows that the brotherhood of those involved with the game runs much deeper than basketball, and while the tribute the Mavericks paid McHale in his first game back on the bench last week was certainly emotional, it was nothing compared to the scene that played out between him and Kevin Garnett after the Rockets took down the Celtics on Friday.
Garnett was drafted by the Timberwolves in 1995, a decision that was made by McHale as VP of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota franchise at the time. McHale was also the one who traded Garnett to the Celtics, and after 12 seasons together there, the bond between the two men that was formed remains strong to this day.
After Friday night’s contest, Garnett walked over and embraced McHale, and had words for his former GM that clearly resonated. As seen in the video clip above, the embrace lasted several seconds, and McHale appeared to reach the point of tears near the end of the interaction.
Just a really powerful moment to witness, and one that may or may not shed some light on Garnett the person being a lot more sensitive and reasonable than the one we’ve seen screaming expletives at his opponents on a nightly basis throughout his 18 NBA seasons.
The moment came as a result of the most awful of circumstances, but the fact that there are strong relationships that can provide a foundation for dealing with the tragedies of this world is reassuring to even the most cynical.
Sports act as a distraction from the struggles of our daily existence. Yet sometimes, a rare set of circumstances can create a snapshot in time that transcends the games we use to get away. The embrace between Garnett and McHale most certainly qualifies.
Carmelo Anthony on talk with Jackson: “We didn’t break bread….It was a short conversation”
“The conversation was not that long. We didn’t break bread,’’ Anthony said. “We didn’t have hours of conversation. It was a short conversation.”
This entire topic came up when Phil Rosen — a Phil Jackson confidant who swears he’s not a surrogate — penned an article saying Anthony was willing to accept a move to the Cavaliers or Clippers (or maybe the Lakers). The move felt like a classic Jackson mind game move where Anthony was forced to respond to it — and Anthony seems done with the drama.
“I’m done asking why,’’ Anthony said. “My focus is playing ball at this point. My focus is these guys. That’s all I care about at this point. Making sure these guys stay strong and positive and have their head on right and not be a distraction to them.
“I’m committed [to the Knicks]. I don’t have to prove that to anybody. I don’t have to keep saying that and keep talking about it. I know for a fact people know that and people see that.”
Anthony is ready to move on, is Jackson? Or do we see another mind game move coming?
Anthony isn’t going anywhere, not in the short term. Even if Anthony would entertain a trade to those mentioned, markets, you think the Cavaliers would like to give Kevin Love‘s minutes and some of LeBron James‘ touches to 33-year-old Anthony? You think Doc Rivers would swap 27-year-old Blake Griffin for ‘Melo? Anthony is expensive and while he can still score the other limitations in his game make it very hard to trade him.
Jackson is the master of convincing guys to do what he wants and think it’s their own idea, but I have a hard time seeing that happening with Anthony.
Kevin Durant reflects on “AAU basketball” of Durant/Westbrook/Harden Thunder
“It’s easy to say we were supposed to be together for the rest of our careers, but it didn’t play out like that,” Durant said. “I think all three of us will have memorable careers. And it’ll be a journey we’ll always remember, something that’s different and unique, playing with two different guys who are doing incredible things in the league right now. But when you look back, think about the fun times instead of what could’ve been.”
Could they have ruled the NBA for a decade?
“No. We never looked at it that way, like we could be best of all-time,” Durant said. “It was really AAU basketball, man. We were just having fun. We weren’t listening to anyone on the outside, media, none of that. It was just pure fun. When we did hear something about the group, it was like, what is this? That was so foreign to us because we never paid attention to it.”
It was Harden that was traded — he wanted and deserved the max, the Thunder has spent on Durant, Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka. They weren’t willing to pay the costs — the luxury tax bill would have come calling — to keep all three. The other side of that debate: Could Harden have continued happily in his sixth man role? This guy dominates the ball now (he leads the league in time of possession this season), would he have stayed coming off the bench to win?
“I think he’d have stayed in that role. I think so,” Durant said. “He’d have still been a really great player. You look at it, a lot of people wouldn’t have looked at him as a Sixth Man. He’d have been better. I think he’d have been better. Obviously I’m sure he loves what he’s doing now, but if we would’ve won a championship, I think the perception of him would’ve just been as a great player. ‘He’s the heart, he’s what makes us go.’ That’s what his label would’ve been, instead of just Sixth Man. He would’ve probably been the best Sixth Man that ever was.”
Maybe, and maybe that would have been enough. It’s all moot now.
But what if?
European star point guard Milos Teodosic says he wants to play in NBA. Eventually.
Milos Teodosic is the best point guard not in the NBA. Unless you’re not a fan of CSKA Moscow and Euroleague Basketball, you most likely remember him as the point guard for the Serbian team that won the silver medal at the Rio Olympics last summer — they guy who torched Kyrie Irving for 18 points and six assists, plus ran the offense beautifully in a group stage game against the USA.
Next summer he is a free agent and there is a lot of speculation he is finally going to come to the NBA (there have been reports the Grizzlies and other NBA teams have already reached out). Speaking with Mozzartsport, Teodosic said he may come but nothing is set in stone. Via Sportando:
“2016 was my best year” Teodosic told Mozzartsport (he won EuroLeague, VTB League and a silver medal at Olympics). “I will go to the NBA for sure, but I still don’t know when, in which club and on what terms. We’ll see. CSKA Moscow certainly has an advantage in the negotiations of a new contract “ the point guard added. “Offers from Grizzlies, Jazz, Spurs or Rockets? I did not get any offers from them. I don’t know who said that”.
Teodosic was asked his thoughts about the young European players that are “rushing” to the NBA even if they know they won’t have playing time: “For me this is an error. I like to play and I don’t like to sit on the bench and I would not agree on any contract if I have to sit on the bench. This is my condition for going to the NBA.”
And it becomes the challenge for a team looking to sign him.
Teodosic is a good offensive player — smart passer and he can shoot the three. He certainly knows how to run an offense (especially one with ball and player movement). He’s also a defensive liability. Watching him at the Olympics, I was thinking he’d be a great sixth man and fill-in starter when needed. But if he doesn’t want that role, what team is willing to give him more? Not a good one, or one with an established NBA point guard.
Mike Krzyzewski called Teodosic “one of the all-time great players internationally” and said they did game plan for him in the Gold Medal game (where the USA athleticism overwhelmed Serbia). The guy can play, and as well paid as he may be with CSKA Moscow he could make more in the bloated NBA. The only question is can he find a fit?
Very little has gone right for the Lakers of late. They have dropped five in a row. Around Los Angeles, the talk has gone from “this team could make the playoffs” after a 10-10 start to “they need to tank and try to keep the pick” after going 5-21 since. (The Lakers pick this draft is top-three protected, if it’s outside that it goes to the Sixers. The Lakers currently have the fourth worst record in the NBA.)
The Lakers young players look… young. D'Angelo Russell admitted he just started trying to follow a game-day routine, then said Tuesday night he didn’t focus and deserved to be benched down the stretch. Brandon Ingram shows flashes, he’s smart and sees the game, but he’s still physically pushed around.
But those flashes, like the steal and dunk above are fun.
Lakers fans, welcome to the process. This is what rebuilding is like. It’s a roller coaster, you just hope the trajectory generally remains up.