Cleveland Cavaliers  v Miami Heat

Byron Scott looks to be in a lot of trouble in Cleveland


The Cleveland Cavaliers have lost 10 games in a row and look like a team that has thrown in the towel on the season. Well, not Kyrie Irving, but watch the Cavs play and they have the energy of a three-toed sloth. They got throttled by a Nets team Wednesday that was missing two starters.

Which reflects poorly on coach Byron Scott — this is supposed to about building something in Cleveland and if the young players have tuned him out. Or worse.

Look what one anonymous player told the Akron Beacon Journal.

“We’re exhausted,” said one player, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the topic. “It goes back to training camp. He killed us in camp. We don’t have any legs left.

“Our shootarounds are an hour and 45 minutes. They’re not physically demanding, but we’re still on our feet all that time. We had a two-hour and 15-minute practice the other day and an hour and a half of that was a hard scrimmage. At this point in the season, that’s crazy.”

Before you say “toughen up” to this guy, remember that Scott’s old school, Pat Riley-inspired style wore out its welcome with Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets. Same with the Hornets after six seasons. His style always had some wondering if he was the right long-term call for a rebuilding team on the Cuyahoga River.

Scott often doesn’t call timeouts during rough patches ala Phil Jackson. Which works well with the veteran-heavy teams Jackson coached, but those timeouts are teaching opportunities with younger sides. Also, his rotations have been… interesting.

That said, for three years he has coached a team devoid of much talent in the post-LeBron James era and never complained. He publicly has been a model employee.

But is he the right guy to lead this team back off the bottom of the pile?

Scott is in trouble. How much depends on who you ask but he is in trouble. Scott said Thursday that he’s not going to worry about it (of course, what is he going to say). Via the Associated Press.

“Not really,” he said. “I’ve always had the attitude, `Whatever happens, happens.”‘

Tristan Thompson said the players need to take the blame for the play of late.

“All the rumors about coach Scott and hot seat and all that crap, that’s bogus,” Thompson said following Thursday’s practice. “It’s up to us to come out and compete and play hard because we’re the ones out there. When he was out there playing, he won championships. So it’s up to us to come out there and play.”

After the season this is a job to watch. But if Scott is let go some teams with veteran players looking to take the next step will take a hard look at him for their job. Cleveland just may not be the fit.

League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.

However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.

Over at the Los Angeles Times Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner got a number of sources to wince about Kobe for a story — except nobody wanted their name attached to attacking a legend of the game.

“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”

“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”

One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”

Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.

But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.