Well, that didn’t even take two seasons.
Apparently the Cleveland Cavaliers are considering moving on from the Kyrie Irving/Dion Waiters backcourt of the future, and you can be sure Irving isn’t the one going out the door. Which leads us to this tweet from Chris Broussard of ESPN:
Waiters has been coming off the bench for the Cavaliers having lost his starting spot to guys such as Matthew Dellavedova and C.J. Miles.
With that, you would expect the Cavaliers to test the market. Pulling the trigger on a deal is another thing entirely. Especially when you consider who they are after:
Allow me to respond for the Knicks and Bulls: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! As for the Sixers, you swap a two guard you don’t like for a worse one? Those are the Cavs fantasy gets and if they don’t lower expectations Waiters is on the Cleveland roster at the end of the season.
There are a few issues that are going to give other teams pause here (and really reduce what they would give back to Cleveland in a trade). First, he’s kind of regressed between his rookie and sophomore seasons. Waiters is shooting just 38.9 percent this season and while he’s averaging 13 points a game he needs 12.4 shots to get there. He has the makings of a volume shooter — he wants the ball in his hands to create off the pick-and-roll, where as the ball handler he gets 40 percent of his offensive opportunities but shoots just 36.2 percent (stats via Synergy Sports). Why do you want him to do that when you have Irving on the floor? Waiters has improved as a catch and shoot guy (hitting 46.4 percent overall and 50 percent from three) but that accounts for just 15 percent of his shots.
Also, he’s not good defensively.
There have been rumbles about tension in the locker room surrounding Waiters.
While there may be talks, don’t be shocked if it’s after Christmas or even close to the February trade deadline before we see anything. If we see anything.
But the frustration with Waiters brings us back to the Cavaliers in the draft — they nailed the Kyrie Irving pick, but since then have used top four picks on Tristan Thompson, Waiters and now Anthony Bennett. Not the most stellar track record, as you look at it right now.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has never finished a season with a winning record. He’s over .500 this year only because Boston came back to beat the lowly 76ers. He has never won a playoff game.
But Stevens – who signed a six-year, $22 million contract in 2013 – has plenty of job security.
Celtics president Danny Ainge, in a Q&A with Chris Forsberg of ESPN:
You’ve joked about it before, but are you ready to give him another six-year contract yet?
Ainge: [Laughs] Yeah.
You have to start thinking about that. Sure, we’re only in Year 3, but you can’t risk letting a good coach get away.
Ainge: No, listen, he’s a keeper. He’s great. He’s great to work with. Like I said, I think he’s going to be — if he stays in this game long enough — he’s going to be one of the great coaches.
I tend to agree with Ainge’s assessment. Stevens has looked like an excellent coach so far – implementing a sound defense, creating space on offense and communicating clearly with his players.
But Stevens has benefited tremendously from low expectations, arriving in Boston after Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen retired. Expectations sunk even lower when the Celtics traded Rajon Rondo last season.
That’s when Stevens appeared to do his best work, guiding a starless team to a 24-12 finish.
Expectations will keep rising, though. Some expected the Celtics to break out this year, but they’re just 8-7. Stevens faces the difficult task of managing a rotation full of pretty good – but no great – players. This might be his hardest NBA assignment yet.
Stevens has done plenty to earn praise from his boss. But to actually get a contract extension, he’ll have to keep meeting higher and higher expectations.
I believe Stevens is up to the challenge, but I’m not completely certain of it. He wouldn’t be the first coach to impress early in his tenure and then fizzle. Just look at how many Coach of the Year winners lost their jobs a short time later.
Again, I think Stevens will meet any reasonable expectations he faces. He just must actually do it to get a longer deal.
Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.
However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.
Over at the Los Angeles Times Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner got a number of sources to wince about Kobe for a story — except nobody wanted their name attached to attacking a legend of the game.
“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”
“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”
One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.
“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”
Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.
But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.
The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.
So, time to start making sure guys are rested.
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.