Consider this the first of a bunch of award Damian Lillard could be racking up.
The Portland Trailblazers celebrated rookie won the All-Star Saturday Taco Bells Skills Competition. He seemed to embody the old John Wooden mantra of “be quick, don’t hurry.”
“I think the biggest thing for me is to try to be too cool and speed through it, but take my time with the passes and shots,” Lillard said.
Lillard seemed to move more quickly than many of the competitors through an obstacle course where the guards had to make some layups, some chest passes, a bounce pass, and dribble around some cutout defenders.
Some guys had good nights and good times, like Brandon Knight who had a time of 32.2 seconds through the course, but he fell to Jrue Holiday’s 29.3 that was best in the East (and that got Holiday in the two-man finals). Jeff Teague struggled his way to a 49.4 second result. It wasn’t pretty.
For the West, hometown boy Jeremy Lin didn’t rush or hurry and ended up with a time of 35.8 seconds, playing at an under control pace. Defending champ Tony Parker missed all five of his shots from the top of the key and looked terrible, a 48.7 seconds. I mean, better than Teague, but unimpressive.
Lillard had a time of 28.7 to easily advance to the finals. Where he pretty much trashed Holiday who missed a few of the top of the key shots.
“I’ve played basketball a long time and I grew up in a tough city,” Lillard said after his win. “I’ve always been comfortable with myself and confident with myself. So coming into this season I was confident and coming into this competition, also.”
Lillard gets a trophy. The future Rookie of the Year is going to rack up some more in the next few months.
Now that former Heat assistant David Fizdale has accepted the Grizzlies’ head coaching job, he’s starting to put together his staff. One name to keep an eye on, according to John Martin of ESPN 92.9 in Memphis: J.B. Bickerstaff, who served as the Rockets’ interim coach this season after the team fired Kevin McHale in November.
The Rockets were a chemistry disaster this season, but Bickerstaff is highly regarded around the NBA in coaching circles. He was a candidate to keep the coaching job in Houston when the Rockets’ front office began their search, but he withdrew his name from consideration when he started receiving interest around the league as a lead assistant. It sounds like Memphis is one of the teams going after him, and he’d be a good hire for Fizdale’s staff.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr called Thompson “ridiculous.” That may be an understatement.
Thompson had 41 points, hit an NBA record 11 three-pointers in a playoff game, and the Golden State Warriors don’t force a Game 7 without him.
Warriors owner Joe Lacob may have had the best response, he drops to his knees and does the “we’re not worthy” bow before Thompson in the hallway postgame. (As there are reports a return trip to the Finals again could be worth $40 million to the franchise, Lacob should be bowing to Thompson for making that even possible.)
Hat tip Eye on Basketball.
The Bucks have a promising young core — led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, John Henson, and Kris Middleton — but one that took a step back this past season. Setbacks can mean changes in the power structure of an organization, and there are changes coming to Milwaukee.
However, not in the coaching ranks — Jason Kidd isn’t going anywhere, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
The Bucks are moving toward a contract extension with Kidd as coach, league sources said.
There will be changes further up the ladder.
John Hammond, the GM who was the architect of the current roster, has just one year left on his current contract, and the Bucks are bringing in Utah’s Justin Zanik as a GM in waiting, according to Wojnarowski.
Zanik, an assistant general manager with Utah, will join the Bucks with a similar job title – and an agreement that he will eventually become the successor to Milwaukee GM John Hammond, sources said.
Zanik has constructed a strong reputation within the league as a front-office executive and previously a player agent. Milwaukee was aggressive in pursuing him to eventually lead the franchise’s basketball operations.
The key is can Zanik and Kidd work together — Kidd has consistently pushed for more power in personnel decisions.
Bucks owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry have been aggressive since buying the team, and you can expect Zanik will be under orders to get this team back to the playoffs and back on an upward trajectory. That may just take time as all their young talent comes together. Well, that and they have to figure out how to make Greg Monroe fit with everyone else.
“Klay Thompson was ridiculous. His shooting was some of the most incredible shooting you will ever see.”
That was how Warrior coach Steve Kerr described Thompson’s night — a playoff record 11 three pointers on his way to 41 points, sparking Golden State’s Game 6 win on the road. It wasn’t just the threes, it was the degree of difficulty on some of those shots — he was just in the zone. Not the Blake Griffin commercial zone, the real one.