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 Jon Stewart loves Fox News gaffes…
• Conan O’Brien gives us (fake, obviously) NBA Mascots that shouldn’t dunk (thanks Lang for finding that).
• Great stuff by Paul Flannery — in focusing on what Frank Vogel and the Pacers did wrong at the end of Game 1, we are missing out on the fact that LeBron James is really, really good.
• By the way, remember when it was the meme that LeBron wasn’t clutch. That seems quaint now.
• Spending seven days with the Memphis Grizzlies — this is great writing that gives you some real insight into the team.
• Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook went out and spent time with tornado victims in the Oklahoma City Area. Good on them.
• Celtics CEO & Governor Wyc Grousbeck told CSNNE.com he wants to keep the Celtics together for another year. Also, when the rebuilding starts he understands it is a multi-year process.
• Larry Drew would be interested in the open Clippers coaching job. I bet he would.
• As expected, Luol Deng will not have surgery on his wrist.
• NBC’s Joe Posnanski talks about LeBron James and other current athletes in other sports trying to chase the GOAT of their sport.
• Apparently Tim Duncan is getting a divorce.
• The deepest position in this generally down NBA Draft? Center.
• ESPN’s draft guy Chad Ford that the Wizards are “very high” on UNLV F Anthony Bennett.
• Along those same lines, here’s a report that Minnesota’s Flip Saunders is a “big fan” of Victor Oladipo.
• Enes Kanter’s recovery from a shoulder injury is coming along, but he likely will not be cleared for basketball activities until August.
• This is pretty funny — Jerry Stackhouse details his NBA fighting career.
• Did you know the city of Indianapolis pays the Pacers $10 million a year to stay?
• Finally, this isn’t hoops, but Grantland’s oral history of the 2003 World Series of Poker is a great read.
Minnesota is one of the NBA’s best positioned up-and-coming teams. They have a franchise cornerstone in Karl-Anthony Towns, a quality No. 2 in Andrew Wiggins, maybe like Zach LaVine can blossom into an All-Star, and players such as Gorgui Dieng and Nemanja Bjelica could be part of the picture. Maybe Ricky Rubio, too, although he’s further along his career arc. A lot of people look at this team and think around 2020, when the Warriors fade (or break apart), the Timberwolves can step up to elite.
Tom Thibodeau is apparently not willing to be that patient — he’s looking to get in the Paul George/Jimmy Butler talks, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Thibodeau helped develop Butler in Chicago and they have a great relationship, he certainly makes the Timberwolves better next season. Same with George, although he’s a rental who almost certainly bolts after the coming season
My question to the Timberwolves: Why?
What was wrong with the building trajectory they are on? I get it, they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2004, a ton of money was just sunk into upgrades at the Target Center, and the owner is not getting younger. Those are all non-basketball reasons to screw up what the basketball side is doing right. It’s the mistake of poor franchises to let that happen.
Could the Timberwolves use a point guard of the future, more depth on the wings and better defenders all around? You bet. But they don’t need to rush the development program either. If Minnesota can land Butler only giving up Rubio and a protected future first or something, sure, but the Bulls continue to ask a very high price for a deal.
Outside of personal feelings, why would the Timberwolves do that?
The Spurs trading LaMarcus Aldridge – they’re reportedly shopping him – could open enough cap space to sign Chris Paul.
But that isn’t the only reason San Antonio is trying to move Aldridge.
Sam Amick of USA Today:
According to a person with knowledge of the Spurs forward’s situation, it’s the 31-year-old’s unhappiness in San Antonio that is the driving force behind the Spurs’ trade talks on Thursday. The five-time All-Star, according to the person, is hopeful that San Antonio can find a better fit for his talents.
Rumors about the Spurs trading Aldridge emerged early in the season, as he was reportedly unhappy about Kawhi Leonard getting the spotlight. When Aldridge signed with San Antonio, it seemed Leonard could do the heavy lifting as the team’s best player and Aldridge could get outsized credit as the leading scorer. But Leonard has emerged as the go-to offensive player, pushing Aldridge into a supporting role both in reality and reputation. Gregg Popovich calling out Aldridge publicly during the playoffs surely didn’t improve relations.
Aldridge turns 32 this summer and will likely become a free agent after next season. Wanting to leave the Spurs – held up as the NBA’s best culture – will raise additional red flags.
San Antonio might not get as much as it hopes in a trade for Aldridge. If Chris Paul is coming, the Spurs wouldn’t need as much for Aldridge. But they won’t know about Paul until July.
San Antonio also values building a roster of players who’ve, as Popovich puts it, “gotten over themselves.” If that’s not Aldridge, the Spurs might not want to keep him around.
There are numerous factors to weigh and incomplete information, but this is the twisting road San Antonio is navigating.
Knicks president Phil Jackson’s asking price for Kristaps Porzingis is reportedly “massive.”
Just what does that mean?
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:
According to a Knicks source, Jackson is asking for the third overall pick in Thursday’s draft as well as next year’s Brooklyn pick along with Jaylen Brown and Jae Crowder. This version of the deal would not include Boston taking on Joakim Noah‘s contract.
All the Knicks fans who threatened to relinquish their fandom if the team traded Porzingis – most would love this deal.
Would the Celtics? I doubt it.
The question is whether there’s a middle ground between what New York wants and what Boston would do. It’s possible Jackson won’t budge and is just shopping Porzingis on the off chance someone accepts outlandish requests like these and to teach Porzingis a lesson for skipping his exit meeting.
Like I said, there are better reasons to criticize Phil Jackson than him saying his priority was the Knicks and that he had discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis.
Jay Williams of ESPN:
A top-15 draft pick told me the other day, because we were involved in this out of this conversation about Phil Jackson and the Knicks, and he said, “Phil Jackson was falling in and out of sleep in my workout.”
Yes. “Falling in and out of sleep at my workout.” This is what this guy told me.
Especially given Jackson’s salary and reputation for not being a diligent worker, this story is too good to check out.