We all know the San Antonio Spurs came within a Ray Allen three — or just a couple made free throws — of winning the NBA title last season (Spurs fans would like to stop reliving that, thank you very much). We also know that they are 28-8 this season, the best record in the West.
But are they really that good? Are the “aren’t they too old yet” Spurs really contenders again?
There are some troubling signs. The Spurs are 10-7 against teams .500 or better, just 1-5 against the top four in the West or the top 2 in the East. Both Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are playing well but have come down from their uber-efficient numbers last season. There are legitimate questions about if this year’s Spurs can compete with the league’s best.
In a sign the Spurs’ management isn’t sold they are being aggressive in talking trades, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
The Spurs have been unusually aggressive trying to upgrade their roster in the trade market, a signal to rival execs that Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford realize this might be the final shot at a title with the triumvirate of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Duncan, 37, has a $10.4 million player option for next season, and Parker’s future also has to be addressed; only $3.5 million of his $12.5 million for next season is guaranteed.
The conventional wisdom around the league is that the Spurs were going to go this season and next with that core, even if next season was more of a farewell tour.
But they don’t want to go around the league collecting rocking chairs and framed mementoes. No doubt this Spurs team is good, and depending on health could well be in title contention again. It sounds like management wants to ensure they are in that mix. They can worry about the rebuilding down the line.
DALLAS (AP) The Dallas Mavericks have signed rookie forward Ben Bentil to a 10-day contract to fill one of the two spots from a roster shake-up that came at the trading deadline.
The addition of Bentil on Sunday puts the Ghana native in position to make his NBA debut. The former Providence player was drafted in the second round by Boston but was waived during the preseason.
Bentil has played in the NBA Development League and in China since the Celtics let him go. He played 13 games in two stints with Fort Wayne in the D-League, interrupted by an 11-game stint with Xinjiang in China.
The Mavericks had two roster spots after sending Andrew Bogut and Justin Anderson to Philadelphia in a deal for Nerlens Noel and waiving guard Deron Williams.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Marquese Chriss got into a bit of a scuffle on Sunday, with the Milwaukee Bucks star earning a technical foul for his role in the hubbub.
It happened midway through the first quarter in Milwaukee after Antetokounmpo blocked Chriss on defense, then charged down the floor on the fastbreak.
Antetokounmpo drew the foul on Chriss, who was bumping with the Milwaukee wing with his arms up and his elbow parallel to the floor.
Chriss’ right elbow was above Antetokounmpo’s head, and there appeared to be incidental contact between the two players.
That, and a bump on the floor from Chriss’ leg sent Antetokounmpo off as the two ended up against the stanchion with Antetokounmpo pushing at Chriss.
After review, Chriss was assessed the foul and Antetokounmpo was given a technical.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert has been fined $25,000 for making contact with an official during the third quarter of Friday’s game between the Jazz and the Milwaukee Bucks.
The incident occured with 5:19 left in the third after a drive to the bucket by Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks star was driving past Jazz wing Joe Johnson, who fouled Antetokounmpo as he went up with a shot over Gobert in the paint.
A foul was whistled on Johnson, but it appeared that Gobert thought the call was initially on him despite his up-and-down contest.
That sent Gobert flying after the official, where he made slight contact, earning him an immediate technical foul.
Video of the incident was released by the NBA and can be viewed here.
Vlade Divac has started the clock on his own success or failure as an NBA GM with the Sacramento Kings. Speaking with the Sacramento Bee this week in a long Q & A, Divac said that if the DeMarcus Cousins trade hasn’t put the Kings in a better position in two years he will step down.
The trade that sent Cousins and teammate Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans returned Buddy Hield, a first round pick with protections, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and a second round pick.
Via the Sacramento Bee:
Q: Well, the pressure is on you now. It’s pretty clear that Divac, not Ranadive, is making the personnel decisions. Some people still can’t believe Ranadive actually stepped aside and allowed you to trade his favorite player.
A: That’s my job, and I take responsibility. And I totally understand why some fans would be upset. They supported DeMarcus, and I like DeMarcus a lot. But I believe we are going to be in a better position in two years. I want to hear again from these same people in two years. If I’m right, great. If I’m wrong, I’ll step down. But if I go down, I’m going down my way.
Divac also mentioned that he approached Cousins’ management team about anger therapy, and again harped on the move as being the right thing for the “culture” he wants to build in Sacramento.
The clock is ticking.