Golden State had been getting pretty good production from their big men this season — David Lee is an All-Star averaging 19.6 points and 10.8 rebonds a game, Carl Landry has come off the bench to the tune of 12 points a game on 52.8 percent shooting, plus 6.7 boards a contest.
But they still lacked a traditional big and that had some questioning what would happen to them in the playoffs. Golden State had struggled in recent games to stop second chance points.
Everyone, meet Andrew Bogut.
The Australian big man returned from off-season ankle surgery Monday night and showed some of the deft touch and interior defense that had him quietly as a player GMs coveted before his severe elbow then ankle injuries. He had 12 points, 8 rebounds and four blocks in near 24 minutes of action. He quickly fit in to a good Warriors offense and things looked smooth, on defense he provided a real presence in the paint and on the boards.
“I thanked the coaches before the game for being patient with this; it’s been a frustrating time for me,” Bogut said after the game. “It’s been hell for two months. The fans out there, it’s been tough on everybody and the last thing I wanted to do was be sitting out with an injury. I feel like it’s almost there. I’m back out on the floor and I’m excited.”
If he is back and integrated (and if Stephen Curry can stay healthy) the Warriors are going to be a tough out in the playoffs. They could face someone like the Clippers, Grizzlies or Nuggets in the first round and whoever gets them is going to have a real chore to advance.
Luke Walton says he won’t run the triangle as Lakers coach
On Friday night, the Lakers announced that they’re hiring Luke Walton as their next head coach, effective as soon as the Warriors’ playoff run is over. It’s a good hire, but it’s especially interesting given Walton’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and the rumors that never seem to go away, that Jackson might be set up to return to the Lakers to run the team alongside fiancée Jeanie Buss after next season, when he has an opt-out in his contract with the Knicks.
But that doesn’t mean Walton will be running the triangle, as he said in his first comments to reporters since the news broke.
Via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:
Luke: "I don't think the triangles the most appropriate offense for the players that they have down there." Says styles will be more GSW
Regardless of whether Jackson eventually gets back in the picture in Los Angeles, Walton has been a successful assistant in Golden State and has the right temperament to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era.
Steve Kerr: “Not going to rule out” Stephen Curry for Game 2 vs. Blazers
Stephen Curry might be back sooner than expected. It’s been one week since he suffered the sprained MCL in his right knee that led the Warriors to rule him out for at least two weeks, but head coach Steve Kerr said Saturday that there’s at least an outside chance he could play Tuesday in Game 2 of Golden State’s second-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Via ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:
Steve Kerr on Steph Curry: "I'm not going to rule him out for Tuesday (Game 2 against Portland) but there's obviously not much of a chance."
Obviously, the smart money is on Curry not playing this early in his timetable. But the fact that it’s even on the table would seem to indicate that, barring a setback, he’ll be back for at least some of the series, which tips off Sunday.
Carmelo Anthony undecided about playing in Rio Olympics
Since Chris Paul withdrew from this summer’s Olympic team, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are the only players left from the 2008 team. If they played this summer in Rio de Janeiro, they would have the chance to be the only men’s basketball players ever to win three gold medals. But James is still undecided, and Anthony tells The Vertical‘s Michael Lee that he is also still weighing it:
USA Basketball has provided Anthony his only opportunity to win at a high level since he became a professional. Anthony sounded optimistic in March that his surgically repaired left knee wouldn’t prevent him from going after an unprecedented third gold medal. But since then, Chris Paul withdrew, citing the need for rest, and left Anthony and LeBron James as the only players from the 2008 team remaining in the Team USA selection pool. “It definitely would help,” Anthony said, if James decides to make one more run, but Anthony isn’t close to making a final decision.
“That’s at the top of the sport, of any sport. I think if you have the opportunity to do it, and enjoy it, and take advantage of it, I think you should do it. [The Olympics are] the throne for sports as a whole,” Anthony told The Vertical. “I’m going to take a little more time to think about it. I’m not in a rush. NBA season is still going on, so I’m going to see how I feel physically. Am I ready to take on – I don’t want to say burden, but – that load? If I’m ready, I’ll do it. If not, my body won’t lie to me.”
Anthony turns 32 next month—if he does play, it will undoubtedly be his final run with the national team. But his concerns about rest are valid, even though he was healthier this year than he was last season, when he had season-ending knee surgery. James’ decision will be even more interesting: he cares deeply about his place in history, but he’s had absolutely no time off since 2011, between five straight Finals runs (and likely a sixth) and the 2012 gold-medal run with the Olympic team.
If Anthony ultimately decides not to play, it would open up another spot for a forward, which could go to the likes of Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard or Jimmy Butler. All of this is worth keeping an eye on as July’s training camp gets closer.
Paul Pierce may have played his final NBA game. After the Clippers’ season-ending loss to the Trail Blazers on Friday night, the 18-year veteran was noncommittal about his future. Here’s what he said, via CSNNW.com (video above):
For each year the last couple of years, I’ve thought long and hard about walking away from the game. The process will continue this summer as I think long and hard, as I get older in age, talk to my family, see how my body feels. I don’t want to make an emotional decision right now, so I’ll sit down with my family and think about it. It’s just gotta hit you one day. You just never know. You don’t know. Right now, it’s 50/50. I’ll see how I feel when I wake up, if I feel like getting ready for next season. If I don’t feel that feeling, that fire’s not there, it’s going to be tough,
Pierce wasn’t as effective with the Clippers as they’d hoped he would be when they signed him, coming off a big playoffs with the Wizards last season. If he does decide to walk away, he’s a surefire Hall of Famer who will go down as one of the best forwards of his generation.