Well, this is certainly one way to go about winning when your team is missing two of its starters.
The Knicks came limping into Phoenix on Wednesday, with both Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton unable to go due to injuries suffered in the team’s Christmas Day loss to the Lakers.
That just meant more shots for J.R. Smith, who didn’t get the start, but played a team-high 37 minutes while also leading the team in shot attempts with 27.
He only made 11 of those attempts, but the last two he hit were big-time difference-makers that gave his team the 99-97 road victory.
It probably didn’t hurt New York’s chances that the Suns were without their starting point guard Goran Dragic for the entire second half, after Smith took him out on this flagrant foul just before halftime.
This play is not only just as bad as the one that got Dwight Howard immediately ejected in Denver on this same night, but given Dragic’s vulnerable in-air position, along with the fact that Smith had zero chance of making a legitimate defensive play here, it’s actually much worse.
The only thing that could have come of Smith making contact with an airborne Dragic was exactly what ended up happening — an injury. That’s the type of play that deserves to be ruled a flagrant-two, but instead, the officials decided it was harmless enough to allow him to remain in the game.
Tell that to Dragic, who missed the second half with a combination wrist/back/hip injury.
Smith added the proverbial insult in the game’s final possessions by hitting two very tough shots, but after watching this play a few times, it appears he shouldn’t have been able to continue to play in this game to the point where he had the opportunity to do so.
Pistons’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope suspended two games for DUI
This is the standard penalty for coaches and players hit with a DUI. I don’t think the penalty is stiff enough in general for a serious issue, but this is the precedent that has been set.
Detroit Pistons’ guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been suspended two games by the NBA for “pleading guilty to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, in violation of the law of the State of Michigan,” the NBA announced. He will miss the first two games of next season.
This will not stop Caldwell-Pope from getting PAID this summer.
A quality wing defender who hit 35 percent from three last season, he plays a position of need for a lot of teams and he is a restricted free agent. Other teams with cap space — Brooklyn and Sacramento come to mind — could step in and give him a max or near max offer. Then Stan Van Gundy needs to decide if he is going to match. He may not have much of a choice, if he wants to keep Andre Drummond and build an inside-out team around him, he needs Caldwell-Pope, and the Pistons don’t have the cap space to replace him.
One way or another, Caldwell-Pope is in line for a massive pay raise. This suspension will not slow teams, it just takes a little money out of his pocket.
Lonzo Ball tops Rookie of the Year early betting odds
The two bets I like here, if I were a gambling man, are Jackson in Phoenix and Dennis Smith in Dallas. I doubt Smith wins it, but Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the draft Smith will start for them next year, which means he gets opportunities and can rack up assists feeding Dirk Nowitzki at the elbow for a year.
Jackson is going to be unleashed in an up-tempo Suns offense where he will be the defender they need on the wing, play with high energy, and get buckets in transition. Winning ROY is as much about fit and opportunity as talent, and Jackson has landed in a good spot.
Paul George-Gordon Hayward-Celtics rumor doesn’t add up
I don’t what George would do, but it’d be a MAJOR financial disadvantage to go this route.
There a couple ways it could happen – George getting extended-and-trade or George getting traded then signing an extension six months later. The latter would allow George to earn more than the former, but even if he pledged to sign an extension, would the Celtics trade for him knowing he’d have six months to change his mind if he doesn’t like Boston as much as anticipated?
There’s a bigger issue, anyway. Both extension routes would leave George earning far less than simply letting his contract expire then signing a new deal, either with his incumbent team or a new one.
Here’s a representation of how much George could earn by:
Letting his contract expire and re-signing (green)
Letting his contract expire and signing elsewhere (purple)
Getting traded and signing an extension six months later (gray)
Signing an extend-and-trade (yellow)
Expire & re-sign
Expire & leave
Trade, extend later
Firm numbers are used when it’s just a calculation based on George’s current contract. When necessary to project the 2018-19 salary cap, I rounded.
The Celtics could theoretically renegotiate-and-extend, but that would require cap room that almost certainly wouldn’t exist after signing Hayward.
Simply, it’s next to impossible to see this happening. It’d be too costly to George.
Dwyane Wade on why he exercised his player option: ’24 million reasons’