When you hear GMs — or sometimes television pundits or Internet bloggers — talking about a team needing an identity, this series is exactly why.
The Thunder have had to scramble under pressure to develop a new identity without Russell Westbrook, to figure out how they can generate baskets outside Kevin Durant. The result was an ugly end for the Thunder in Game 3 and Durant coming out later and saying, “I can do a lot more.”
The Grizzlies know exactly who they are and what they want to do. It’s not always pretty but it is effective.
And that’s where we are at with Game 4 — Oklahoma City needs a big Night from Kevin Martin or Serge Ibaka or someone else, they need to find an identity fast. It’s not technically a must win game for OKC, but if the Thunder go down 3-1 in this series it’s hard to see how they climb out of the hole.
Not to sound simplistic, but the team that actually makes shots this game will win. The winning team shot 40.5 percent last game. It wasn’t pretty.
That is especially true for the Thunder — somebody not named Durant needs to knock down a shot. Anyone. Durant was 9-of-19 last game and you take that out and the rest of the Thunder shot 33 percent last game. Without Durant they were 3-of-12 from three. And with the Grizzlies defense geared up on him Durant can’t be as efficient as he normally is. The man needs help.
Memphis knows they got away with one in Game 3 — the Thunder won the battle on the boards, the points in the pain, the fast break points, the best postgame meal (probably). On paper, the Thunder should have won, save for the fact they couldn’t hit a shot. Give credit to the Grizzlies defense, but if they get outplayed like that again. Mike Conley and Zach Randolph were a combined 7-of-21 shooting, if that happens again the Grizzlies will lose. That simple.
Memphis has the advantage of knowing who and what the team is. OKC will have to figure it out on the fly or be in a deep, deep hole.
Pau Gasol carried Spain’s flag and Yi Jianlian carried China’s flag for the 2012 Olympics.
The NBA will once again be prominently represented in the opening ceremony this year — with new Net Luis Scola.
Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press:
Argentina is back in the Olympics, and this time Scola isn’t just leading the basketball team.
He’s leading the whole delegation.
The veteran forward will carry the flag in the opening ceremony
Scola will team with Manu Ginobili to try stopping Argentina’s Olympic slide — gold in 2004, bronze in 2008, fourth in 2012.
There are not words.
Stephen Curry was paired with Justin Timberlake at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe this weekend, which at first led to mouthpiece throwing.
Then the Carlton. With Alfonso Ribeiro.
How could the NBA pull the All-Star game from Charlotte due to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law and move it to New Orleans, considering Louisiana is suing the Obama administration over its directive on sex discrimination?
This leak from the Board of Governors meeting proves illustrative.
Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:
In a poignant address, Golden State Warriors president and chief operating officer Rick Welts, 63, who is openly gay, explained his meaningful and lifelong affiliation with the NBA and told league owners he didn’t feel comfortable attending the All-Star Game in Charlotte if the law remained as is.
He then said if the All-Star Game remained in Charlotte, he wouldn’t feel comfortable attending, and he said he has spoken to employees in the LBGT community from half of the league’s teams who didn’t feel comfortable attending either.
Another influence on the NBA owners: A number of NBA sponsor/partner businesses have told the league they would not be involved if the game remained in North Carolina.
This isn’t so much about a moral stance or punishing North Carolina. It obviously isn’t about punishing Louisiana.
It’s about treating employees and customers with respect.
Putting valued employees in uncomfortable positions is bad business. Holding All-Star Weekend in North Carolina would have done that. Maybe Welts and those he spoke with wouldn’t immediately quit in protest, but why should the league put them in such harsh work conditions? Imagine being forced to choose between your job and traveling to a place you’re denied fundamental protection under the law. Welts earned his position for a reason. The NBA should make reasonable efforts to retain him and other talent.
The same is true of potential customers, some of whom would have been reluctant to attend All-Star Weekend in North Carolina for the same reasons. Maybe the NBA still would have sold out every event, but it’s not worth alienating a portion of the fanbase. (Though the league’s decision inevitably alienated some fans on the other side of the issue. There is some moralism at play here.)
Maybe Louisiana will eventually succeed in its lawsuit and enact its own anti-LGBT laws. But right now, New Orleans doesn’t legally discriminate against the LGBT community. That makes it an acceptable place to host the All-Star game.
This isn’t about sending a message. It’s about finding a location people like Welts — people the NBA value — feel comfortable.
The Celtics are slowly but surely taking care of their eight (!) 2016 draft picks.
They’ll sign No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown. No. 16 pick Guerschon Yabusele and No. 23 pick Ante Zizic will remain overseas. The Nos. 31 and 35 picks were traded for a future first-rounder on draft night.
And Boston has reached terms with No. 45 pick Demetrius Jackson and No. 51 pick Ben Bentil.
Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:
As second-rounders, neither Jackson nor Bentil count against the cap until signed. So, the Celtics — with a little cap space plus the room exception and minimum-salary exceptions available — might wait a while to officially sign either player.
Jackson would give Boston 16 players — one more than the regular-season roster limit — with guaranteed salaries. Obviously, the Celtics will have to make a move — a big one, they surely hope.
Any deal could avoid a point guard, because Jackson makes four with Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier. Most teams carry just three.
With this roster crunch, Bentil will probably head to the D-League after training camp. The partial guarantee is likely just designed to entice him to stick in Boston’s system rather than sign overseas.
This leaves just No. 58 pick Abdel Nader unaccounted for among the Celtics eight (!) 2016 draft picks.