In a twist of fate, Doc Rivers is going to need a lot from DeAndre Jordan.
Remember the Clippers were willing to ship out Jordan this summer to get Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers — a deal that David Stern killed (you can’t trade players for coaches) but told you exactly what the Clippers think of Jordan. He’s an asset. They like him but they think they can do better.
Now Rivers comes to town expected to lead a Clippers team on the cusp of contention to the Promised Land — this summer they added J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley to already one of the league’s most potent offenses.
But that is not the end where Rivers needs Jordan — the key to this Clippers season is their defense and Jordan has to anchor it. Rivers has said he plans to bring a variation of the strong-side overload that Rivers and then assistant Tom Thibodeau used to bring a ring to Boston. But to make that defense work you need a smart rim-protecting big man to anchor it.
Which means Jordan needs to be improved, and he needs to hit his free throws and stay on the court at the end of game (he shot 36 percent last year). Jordan told Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com that is exactly what he’s doing.
Jordan has been working on his free throws daily this offseason with shooting coach Bob Thate, and says it’s slowly becoming second nature.…
“I think it was such a culture shock last year of having to change my shot,” Jordan said. “But what I’ve been doing for the past however many years hasn’t been working so I have to change it. … I’ve been focusing on one shot now and I’m going to shoot that same way and I’m going to get ton of reps up and they’ll start to fall.”
Rivers is a positive guy for the most part and has turned that strategy on Jordan.
“I fit in great with what he wants to do,” Jordan said. “We’ve talked a couple times and he said my role is going to be even bigger than it was last year and I’m excited.”
But will he execute it?
The talent isn’t the question — Jordan had the talent to be one of the young players invited to Team USA’s mini-camp in Las Vegas this summer — but the mental aspects are. Jordan and Blake Griffin need to become a focused force protecting the paint on defense.
Do that and the Clippers are contenders. Don’t and they could get knocked out of the first round like happened last season with the Grizzlies (actually almost swept out as they were up 2-0 in that series and lost four in a row).
It’s not all up to Jordan, but a lot of it is.
Don’t make a bet you’re not willing to follow through on. I mean, we all do it — “If Trump wins I’m moving to Canada” — but never really mean it. We don’t follow through.
Except sometimes people do.
Reddit NBA user ‘PARTYxDIRTYDAN’ made a bet that he would eat his shirt if the Warriors repeated as Western Conference champions. Call it a bad beat if you want — he came about as close to winning that bet as he could without actually winning it — but the man was good to his word. He had a little BBQ sauce on it, but he ate his shirt.
He probably shouldn’t make a similar bet in the Finals, no matter how big a Cavs fan he is.
(Hat tip Deadspin)
LeBron James got what he probably wanted deep down — a second chance at Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals (starting Thursday night). It’s a chance for revenge from last season and to knock Curry off his pedestal.
Except this is a difficult matchup for the Cavaliers and their current style of play, something Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports get into in this breakdown of what’s to come on the NBA’s biggest stage.
They both foresee a long couple of weeks coming for Kevin Love, and difficulty for the Cavaliers getting enough stops. While the Cavaliers now want to play faster and shoot threes, they may have to change tactics against the Warriors.
As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes, download it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.
Golden State is the clear favorites to beat the Cavaliers and repeat as NBA Champions.
But for gamblers, there’s not much money to be made in taking the safe route, where you have to risk a lot to win a little. The money is on the underdog.
Which is why the early cash has gone to Cleveland, something reported by online gambling site Bovada.lv. Here are their current odds to win the series:
Cleveland Cavaliers +175 (7/4)
Golden State Warriors -210 (10/21)
(That means for every $100 bet on Cleveland the gambler would get $175 if they win; where with Golden State it would take a $210 bet to win $100.)
“We opened the NBA Finals at Cleveland +200 (2/1) and Golden State -240 (5/12) and the public pounced on Cleveland, forcing the adjustment of the lines to +175 and -210,” said Kevin Bradley, Bovada.lv Sportsbook Manager. “While the wagering has evened out a bit more on each side, 60% of the public is currently on the Cavaliers.”
This just makes sense as a gambler — why would I risk so much to win with Golden State? I get the much better payoff with a smaller amount bet with Cleveland, even if the outcome is less likely to go my way.
Remember, for a book the goal is often even betting on both sides, so that they rake in their percentage and win regardless of the outcome. That said, the books may be Warriors fans for the next couple of weeks.
Bismack Biyombo made $3 million this season playing for the Raptors.
Next season he is going to make five times that or more playing somewhere. Biyombo is a free agent and the going rate could be $17 million a year.
After a breakout playoffs, Biyombo wants to stay in Toronto with the Raptors and would even consider a hometown discount to make that happen. That’s what he said on Sportsnet 590 The FAN’s Andrew Walker Show. Does Biyombo expect to wear a Raptors jersey next season?
“Honestly, I do. We still have some unfinished business. It was so much fun to see the team go from last year to this year making the Eastern Conference finals. Be it would be fun to go even further next season.”
The Raptors want to bring him back, but the salary cap makes it difficult. The Raptors do not have Biyombo’s Bird rights, so they need to use their salary cap space to re-sign him. The Raptors top priority is bringing back DeMar DeRozan (who will be a max or near max player), and remember they gave Jonas Valanciunas a four-year, $64 million contract extension last summer.
Would Biyombo be open to a discount to stay in Toronto?
“Yeah. Things can always be worked out. I’ve said that to my people, I’ve said that to Masai. When the right time comes I’d be open to figuring something out. At the end of the day it’s for fun, not money. It’s not always about money. Money is great, but at the same time I ask ‘how much fun am I going to have? The city is great, the team is great, and we’re winning.”
The question may be how big a discount are we talking about? Let’s say Team X does offer $17 million a year for four years, would Biyombo start at $15 million to stay? $13 million? Where is that number?
Next season Biyombo is going to make more money than he had in his entire NBA career up to this point. This is set your family up for generations money, and while the sentiment that the game should be for fun is what we as fans of the game want to hear, how much money would you leave on the table in his shoes?
With the Raptors talking about giving Valanciunas a bigger role in the offense next season, how much can they afford to pay his backup? Biyombo could be on the move.