Our grades for what happened around the NBA Sunday, or what you missed while watching Jean-Claude Van Damme do the splits between two moving trucks…
Brooklyn Nets first quarter offense. With all that talent on the roster we expected some big nights from Brooklyn and it looked like we would finally get one (even if they didn’t have Deron Williams or Brook Lopez, both out injured). There was ball movement, player movement and screens. Kevin Garnett jumped in the hot tub time machine and played like his Minnesota days, just scoring from all over the court on LaMarcus Aldridge — KG had 12 of the first 14 Brooklyn points on 6-of-6 shooting. Shaun Livingston used his height advantage to score 10 over Damian Lillard (and drive past him once for an impressive dunk). Brooklyn attacked and got to the line 11 times. The Nets put up 40 points and shot 73.7 percent in the quarter. They looked like a force of nature.
Brooklyn Nets second half offense. And this is why they are now 3-7 — the Nets devolved quickly into what has made their offense so easy to defend of late. Brooklyn went into isolation basketball that was stagnant — nobody would set screens, nobody moved off the ball, it was just iso basketball. You can defend that, and the Trail Blazers did. The Nets scored 35 points (less than the first quarter) on 22 percent shooting. Paul Pierce was 1-of-7, Garnett 1-of-8, Joe Johnson 1-of-6, Jason terry 0-of-4. The Nets are 3-7 and have some real issues to work out.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. He mostly gets this grade for that shimmy-shake dance he did after a key three in the final two minutes — I love the emotion from Durant. He had missed three from three leading up to that, shots that could have been like daggers, so when he finally got one to go he had to dance. Durant had 38 points on 11-of-27 shooting, plus he had 13 in the fourth quarter when they needed it most. He helped key the OKC comeback and win. But mostly it was about the dance.
Mark Gasol and Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis has gone 4-0 on their road trip, beating the Clippers on Monday night, and the reason is these two are executing at a high level again. Randolph had 26 points and 15 rebounds, while Gasol pushed a triple-double with 23 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. More than just the numbers they are hustling on the boards, Gasol is being a defensive anchor, and Randolph is just taking rebounds away from people. These two simply out executed the Clippers front line of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan down the stretch and Memphis pulled away for the win.
The power dynamics within the Clippers are shifting, and the ground apparently hasn’t settled yet.
Doc Rivers has been stripped of his presidency. Jerry West became a consultant. Lawrence Frank now holds the most prestigious title in the front office, and newly hired Michael Winger will report to him. Also falling under Frank in the organizational chart? Trent Redden.
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:
Longtime Cleveland Cavaliers executive Trent Redden will join the LA Clippers’ front-office staff as assistant general manager, league sources said on Monday.
Redden was ousted in Cleveland with David Griffin. He’ll help the Clippers simply by providing another capable executive. They’ve long needed to add front-office employees (and pay for them).
But Redden also exacerbates the issue of Frank’s underlings having far more front-office experience than him. As the Clippers try to establish their new setup, we’ll see whether that creates complications.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr has missed significant time the last two seasons due to complications from back surgery.
Could those issues derail his career?
Kerr, via Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:
“I fully expect to coach all year,” Kerr says in a no-nonsense tone. “That’s my expectation. And for many years to come.”
On the most basic level, it’d be good if Kerr feels well enough to coach. The headaches sound miserable, regardless of his job.
But it’d also be ideal if the NBA didn’t lose one of its best coaches just as he’s getting started. The 51-year-old Kerr might wind up the greatest coach of all time. Obviously that’s a long way off, but he has that potential – health permitting.
The Hawks began last season with just two point guards, one fewer than most teams – especially notable because neither starter Dennis Schroder nor backup Malcolm Delaney was experienced for his role.
Schroder and Delaney return, but Atlanta is adding another option – Quinn Cook.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Cook is a borderline NBA player. He might not make the regular-season roster. He also might supplant Delaney for a rotation spot.
A 24-year-old who has spent most of the last two years in the D-League (also getting stints with the Mavericks and Pelicans), Cook is a good outside shooter. He’s also steady, if unspectacular, in his lead-guard duties.
This is a solid flier at a position the Hawks could use depth.
The Knicks signing Nigel Hayes leaked first.
But New York didn’t stop there.
The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has signed forwards Jamel Artis and Nigel Hayes and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.
Like Hayes, Artis (Pittsburgh) and Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) went undrafted this year – making them eligible to be waived and assigned to the Knicks’ minor-league affiliate. That’s likely all three’s fate.
But first, each will have an opportunity to make the regular-season roster. The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one roster spot for someone on a standard contract. Chasson Randle (unguaranteed) is the incumbent choice, but these three could supplant him.