Plenty of teams got better this offseason, either via trade or by the signing of promising free agent acquisitions.
The Oklahoma City Thunder was not one of them.
While Western Conference clubs like the Clippers and Rockets made multiple moves to fortify the roster for a run deep into the postseason, the Thunder did nothing of the kind, and actually let their one decent offensive threat off the bench in Kevin Martin get away in free agency.
Not that Martin was good, or that the Thunder should have shelled out the dollars that the Timberwolves did to retain him. But he was the one guy who could randomly get you 20 points in a reserve role, and now there doesn’t appear to be anyone on the team that can fill that void.
It won’t be veteran forward Ryan Gomes, who OKC just added to the team on a one-year deal according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Gomes played overseas last year, and before that played seven NBA seasons with the Celtics, Timberwolves, and Clippers. The last time he played meaningful minutes was with L.A. during the 2010-11 season, when Gomes averaged 7.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 27.6 minutes per game.
Filling out the roster with a veteran for a likely league minimum deal is fine. But the Thunder haven’t gotten better while many other teams have, and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook can only take the team so far essentially all by themselves.
A good rule of thumb: If LeBron James is getting few breakaway dunks, the other team is in trouble.
Enter the Toronto Raptors, who got to watch a dunking clinic by LeBron as he had multiple breakaways during the Cavaliers’ 38-point win on Wednesday night. LeBron played well, and the Cavaliers got a balanced attack from their stars — 25 points from Kevin Love, 23 each from LeBron and Kyrie Irving.
Watch LeBron’s night above. Toronto needs to find a way to keep him from having another game like this Friday.
After a beatdown at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 — a loss where he was just 5-of-12 shooting, a loss that has the Raptors on the brink of playoff elimination — Kyle Lowry did what he had to do and went in front of the media to answer questions and try to explain that loss.
But really, his face when he walked into the interview room and saw the box score summed up the Raptors night perfectly.
Lowry and the Raptors need to turn it around and win at home Friday night to keep their playoff dream alive another day.
The Memphis Grizzlies have found their man — Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale has been offered the head coaching job in Memphis. He’s a smart coach who earned the trust of elite players and was a key part of the staff that helped Miami to a couple of rings.
It’s a good hire. Don’t just take my word for it, check out what a couple Heat players from that era had to say.
Mario Chalmers had a first-hand view — he was traded from Miami to Memphis in the middle of last season. The point guard who went the other way in that deal, Beno Udrih, also helped push the deal along.
Fizdale is going to be a popular hire with the players. That said, if the Grizzlies can’t keep Mike Conley in free agency the team is going to have struggles this season, regardless of who coaches them.
Before Game 5, Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue told Kevin Love just to stay aggressive. Channing Frye told him the same thing.
Love took that advice to heart. From the opening tip of Game 5, Love was attacking — backing down the overmatched Luis Scola and knocking down threes. Love had 12 points in the first quarter on his way to a game-high 25, helping spark an easy, 38-point Cavaliers win in Game 5.
Now, can Love do this on the road in Game 6?