When the Raptors traded away Andrea Bargnani to the Knicks this summer, the team not only rid themselves of a large contract that would hinder their rebuilding project, but they successfully performed an exorcism of sorts of a demon that’s haunted the team since 2006.
Bargnani never lived up to being the number one overall pick in the draft, from either a talent or a leadership standpoint. And with injuries limiting his ability to contribute over the past two seasons, he became the face of failure for a franchise that has finished out of the playoffs for the last five years.
Dealing Bargnani gave Toronto a fresh start, but it also meant that a player who has historically not performed well under pressure was suddenly thrust into the top media market in the U.S., and one that isn’t exactly known for extending patience or kindness to underperforming professional athletes.
But Bargnani is far from the main man in New York; that’s Carmelo Anthony’s role. And Anthony says that there can’t possibly be any pressure on his new teammate, because for the most part, it all falls on his shoulders.
From Marc Berman of the New York Post:
“There ain’t no pressure on him,’’ Anthony said. “You come in and do what you got to do and play ball. All the pressure’s on me. It should be easy for him. It should be an easy transition for him, adjusting. Just do it the right way, it should be easy for him.’’
Anthony’s right to a certain extent, in that the Knicks will go largely as he goes. But there is one area where Bargnani could potentially receive a ton of criticism.
In this very same report, Anthony says he’d be fine sliding over to the three (small forward) position to play alongside Bargnani. The only problem is that Anthony has proven to be a far better player at the four (power forward) spot, which unintentionally puts plenty of pressure on Bargnani to produce when they’re on the floor together — especially if we see a dip in Anthony’s production.
This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.
Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.
Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.
Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. Those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings — this season the team gets outscored by 10 points per 100 possessions when he is off the court — and with that team’s playoff chances have taken a hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers). Don’t be surprised if the Kings look to add a scorer at the trade deadline.
Gay was not happy in Sacramento and said he planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.
That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.
Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.
Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.
Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.
That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?
It just won’t die.
Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.
Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.
76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.
It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.
The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.
Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).