Here are our nightly grades from the night’s action around the Association, or what you missed while reading why Los Angeles is the best food town in America (it is)…..
Memphis Grizzlies. California isn’t the “Bear Republic” anymore; it’s the “Grizzlies Republic.” With their 88-81 overtime win Wednesday at Golden State, Memphis became the first team since 1985 to sweep all four California teams on one road trip — the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Warriors. They did it at both ends with their defense becoming more lock down and their offense finding a new level of efficiency. After a slow start they have found a groove under new coach Dave Joerger.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers. He wasn’t efficient for much of the night but he was when it mattered — George hit 7 of 11 field goals in the fourth quarter and overtime and finished with a game-high 35 points. He added to his superstar resume by out-playing Carmelo Anthony at both ends of the court.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats. Walker has struggled with his shot to start the season — 32.9 percent overall, 26 percent from three — but he found his groove against the Nets slow, old defense. Walker had 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting and hit 4-of-7 from three. More importantly he was at the center of the Bobcats third quarter run when they pulled away to take charge of the game — Walker hit three threes in the quarter and had 13 points. Hopefully he builds on this and the slump is a thing of the past.
Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz. There is a lot on his shoulders with this roster, maybe too much. He’s a very good young player, just not the No. 1 option he is forced to be, which is why we end up with nights like this — he was 1-of-17 shooting. He had a worse shooting night than the Jazz’s record (1-12 now), which is tough to do. He did dish out 10 assists, so we will cut him a little slack. He has a lot of fans in NBA front offices, but Wednesday was just not his night.
Monta Ellis, Dallas Mavericks. When Ellis is efficient (and he has been more efficient this season than at any time in his career) he is nearly impossible to stop. He was very efficient Wednesday against the always-soft Rockets perimeter defense — 37 points on 13-of-18 shooting, getting to the free throw line 12 times, and scoring 8 of those points in the fourth quarter when Dallas came from 14 down to win. His biggest play may have been an assist — with 50 seconds left in the game Ellis drove baseline, drew a couple defenders then made a jump pass to Shawn Marion for a corner 3 giving Dallas its first lead since the game’s opening minutes.
The Rockets and Clippers both turned aggressive with today’s Chris Paul trade.
Houston is making a bold attempt to overtake the Warriors (a plan that could include other big moves). The Clippers are launching into rebuilding.
Kurt Helin breaks down what it means for both teams.
The Knicks did well to part ways with Phil Jackson, but where does New York go from here?
Masai Ujiri? David Griffin? Someone else?
Kurt Helin breaks down Jim Dolan’s options – and the approach the Knicks owner should take.
The Kings have a decent crop of low-paid young players: Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Malachi Richardson.
Soon, Sacramento will add a highly paid young player to the group: Bogdan Bogdanovic, whose rights the Kings acquired when trading down from No. 8 with the Suns in last year’s draft.
Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:
Because Bogdanovic was drafted three years ago (No. 27 by Phoenix in 2014), the Kings can exceed the rookie scale to sign him.
Bogdanovic is a talented 24-year-old, but this deal removes much of the value usually tied to rookies on cost-controlled scale contracts. It’s hard to see Bogdanovic’s production exceeding his salary over the next four years.
Still, what else was Sacramento supposed to do with its cap space? Just getting Bogdanovic to jump from Europe might be worth it. The Kings already have more cap flexibility than they know what to do with – especially after letting Ben McLemore become an unrestricted free agent.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
Sacramento took McLemore No. 7 in the 2013 draft then spent the next four years watching his value depreciate.
Teams will line up to take a flier on him. Will someone pay him as if he’ll pan out even a little? That question will drive his unrestricted free agency.
Chris Paul is on his way to Houston in an attempt to form a superteam to challenge Golden State.
Now what for the Clippers?
They have two options: One, tear it all the way down and rebuild.
The other: Re-sign Blake Griffin, run the offense through him and put his underrated passing skills to the test while surrounded by shooters.
The Clippers are opting for door No. 2, at least for now, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
The fundamental question is: Does Griffin want to stay? The Clippers can offer more money and a larger contract, five -years starting just shy of $30 million a year. However, he will have good teams from the East calling. Miami is interested, and they have a strong point guard in Goran Dragic, a good wing defender in Justise Winslow, and a guy inside who can defend, rebound, and finish dunks in Hassan Whiteside. Plus, no state taxes on all that new money. Also, Boston (if they strike out with Gordon Hayward) and other teams will come calling. Griffin will have options.
If Griffin does stay, this could be interesting if the team is built right. Griffin is an underrated passer and playmaker — he averaged more than five assists per game last season, and that was with Chris Paul on the team. The Clippers would need to use him sort of like Denver uses Nikola Jokic, running the offense through him out high where he is a threat to score from with a midrange jumper, put the ball on the floor, or make a pass. Griffin would need to be surrounded by shooters and guys willing to work off the ball, such as J.J. Redick. Who is almost certainly gone.
If Griffin leaves, the Clippers don’t have much a choice and will have to start shopping DeAndre Jordan around and rebuilding the team (they got a fairly good haul for CP3 for that, considering the situation, Sam Decker and Montrezl Harrell are good young players who can be part of a rotation). Then Los Angeles will have two rebuilding teams, and that always makes for a great rivalry.