Byron Mullens, after barely leaving the bench in his first two seasons with the Thunder, quietly became an alright-looking player with the Bobcats.
I say alright-looking, because he scored 14.9 and 14.2 points per 36 minutes in his two seasons with the Bobcats. But he took a lot of long 2s, didn’t shoot them that efficiently, rebounded at an underwhelming rate for his size and didn’t do much else. Basically, the closer you examine, the less appealing Mullens is.
But at least he’s shown he belongs in the NBA, which is an improvement from Oklahoma City. And the Lakers might even give him a raise.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
The Lakers had precious few resources to upgrade their team this offseason, namely the No. 48 pick in the draft and the taxpayer mid-level exception (a three-year contract that could pay up to $3,183,000, $
They drafted Duke’s Ryan Kelly, an outside shooting big who seems to be a great fit for Mike D’Antoni’s system, with their second-round pick. Now. they might use their taxpayer mid-level exception on Mullens, another outside-shooting big man who fits D’Antoni’s system.
Perhaps, this is a sign the Lakers really believe in D’Antoni. Or maybe they’re foolishly filling their roster with marginal players who won’t fit the next system nearly as well once they fire D’Antoni midseason.
But, so far, the Lakers are giving D’Antoni the tools to succeed. Of course, the biggest tool is Dwight Howard, who’s still undecided.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.
Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.
The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.
I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.
That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:
Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.
But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.
On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.
To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.
The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.
It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.
TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).
Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.
But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.
So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.
But at least he has that opportunity.