Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like Stephen Curry loves the three ball.
• Jason Segel — you know him from “How I Met Your Mother” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and, frankly his best work, “The Muppets” movie — was a high school teammate of Jason Collins. Segel was a big off the bench for Harvard-Westlake… although when you’re an average high school big man off the bench behind two future NBA seven-footers (Jason and his brother Jarron) you don’t get a lot of quality minutes. Still, impress your girlfriend with that trivia later.
• Here’s a report that Jeff Weltman, an assistant GM in Milwaukee, is the early favorite to become the Suns new GM.
• For the second straight year, Jason Kidd won the NBA’s Sportsman of the Year award.
• Former NBA All-Star Chris Gatling (yes he was in 1997) is facing criminal charges for being a squatter in an Arizona home.
• We told you before the Toronto Raptors were considering making a run at Phil Jackson to take over as president of their organization. ESPN says they are going to make their pitch this week. Jackson will listen and think it over. But accepting it is another matter.
• Pau Gasol says he would prefer to be back with the Lakers next season. Kobe Bryant says he wants Gasol back. Yet Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak was clear on Tuesday that he’s going to look at trades.
• A ranking of the NBA arenas… with San Antonio’s AT&T Center on top of the list.
• J.R. Smith takes some just terrible shots, but he makes them more often than other NBA players.
• Smith is also on this list of bad shot takers/makers from SI, as is Carmelo Anthony.
• Paul George’s sister is better at basketball than you are.
• The U.S. Attorney’s office is going after a company that allegedly defrauded the NBA Players Union of $3 million.
• A great look at Andrew Bogut, Ty Lawson and four guys quietly impacting these playoffs by our man Rob Mahoney at SI.
• Who are the next Shane Battiers of the league?
In the age of social media and spin, the idea of a nuanced answer — where there is some truth to a statement, but it is not the only reason for something — gets drowned out.
For example, let’s take the case of Stephen Curry‘s below-par performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder (he was 6-of-20 shooting with six turnovers in Game 4 and is 5-of-21 from three in the last two games). A report came out Wednesday morning saying Curry was only 70 percent following his knee surgery, which first led to a lot of silly “excuses” comments on Twitter. This led to Steve Kerr denying the injury, via Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times.
Here’s a radical idea: Curry’s struggles are a combination of things.
Yes, the improved, athletic, and lengthy Thunder defense is giving Curry problems. They are meeting him out high, often doubling off the pick-and-roll, and when that pick is set by Draymond Green Kevin Durant and his length is doing a great job of blowing that play up. Also, it is clear the physical exertion of guarding Russell Westbrook is wearing Curry down.
But also, he has lacked the explosiveness we saw lift him to a second consecutive MVP during the season. He’s had great quarters — the fourth and OT in Game 4 vs. Portland, and the second quarter of Game 2 vs. OKC — but he has not been the consistent force we are used to seeing.
Welcome to the playoffs, where if someone is a little bit off that gets exploited by the other team.
That is what is going on, the rest is just spin.
This is all moot now. Frank Vogel has landed on his feet with a promising young Orlando team; Nate McMillan slid up a chair to take over the head coaching job in Indiana (which is an odd hire if Larry Bird wants the Pacers to play faster). But…
Frank Vogel wants you to know he did not beg for his job.
At the post-firing press conference of Pacers’ coach Larry Bird, he said that Vogel basically begged for his job. Vogel, speaking on ESPN Indianapolis Radio’s Dan Dakich Show Tuesday, via the Indianapolis Star:
Larry’s going to speak his mind. A lot of people talked to me about it who didn’t like that and it’s probably an inaccurate perception that I was begging him to stay. … I fully respect Larry and the process. He knew it was going to be an unpopular move but he did what he had to do.
“I felt like we were on the verge of some big things. We stood toe-to-toe with a 56-win team. I told my team after the series that were poised … I felt like I was going to be able to do that with this group. That was my only mention to Larry.”
Again, this is all moot.
The reality is Vogel was never Bird’s guy, Bird wanted the Pacers to play faster than they did last season (11th in the NBA in pace), and Bird thought it time for a change. He’s the team president, it’s his call.
But did Bird make the Pacers better with this move? Begging discussion aside, that is the question to which he must answer.
The Golden State Warriors made history — they won 73 games, more than any team in NBA history.
But they are on the verge of being remembered like the 2007 Patriots.
The Warriors are down 3-1 to the Thunder for a variety of reasons — the Thunder defense has been exceptional, Russell Westbrook is a beast, for whatever reason Stephen Curry is not playing like MVP Stephen Curry — but there is another key one:
Draymond Green has played like crap the last couple games.
Kobe Bryant, who relates to Green’s drive and intensity, texted him a message according to Sportando:
That reflects Kobe’s world view.
It may be very different from the Warriors’ reality — even if Curry and Green were back to playing at their peak, it very well might be a coin toss with this Thunder team playing at their peak. The struggles of those two — Green has turned the ball over, missed shots, and missed defensive rotations for two games — have a lot to do with the quality of play of that Thunder defense.
But if the Warriors can come back and win the series (and the title), it will add to their legend.
This is a quality hire, a respected long-time NBA assistant who has deserved a shot in the big chair.
But is he an upgrade over Dave Joerger?
Apparently the Grizzlies are betting that Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale is the man they need. From Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Casual fans may not know his name, but this could be a good hire for Memphis. Fizdale is an assistant coach with a quality franchise who has paid his dues and deserves a chance. For example, in Miami Fizdale had won the trust and respect of a team full of players that had won rings. He was a guy they leaned on. As an example, Fizdale worked hard with LeBron James on developing a post game; he was the guy LeBron trusted.
But how will he deal with an aging roster that lacks shooting? The Memphis job is a good one, but it has its challenges.