Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while wondering what NBA players could play in the NFL…
Only power forwards make the list tonight.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers. He’s the best power forward in the game right now. Better than Kevin Love (Aldridge is a better and more interested defender), better than Blake Griffin. I hate to agree with Reggie Miller about anything, but he’s right here. Aldridge dropped 44 points on the Nuggets Thursday — including the last 15 for Portland in the fourth quarter — plus he had 13 rebounds. He did it knocking down the midrange shots Denver gave him, knocking down 8-of-16 from there. He was also 7-of-10 in the restricted area. He can play inside and out, and he had some key blocks as well in this game.
Chris Bosh, Miami Heat. For all of you who said, “Chris Bosh doesn’t deserve to be an All-Star” today, he had an answer for you. Bosh outplayed Pau Gasol on his way to 31 points on 15-of-22 shooting, scoring both at the rim and at the arc. Bosh was in a groove, he looked fluid, and we don’t see that every night from him but when we do it’s impressive.
Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers. Pau Gasol has been playing well of late (which is boosting his trade value, if you think the Lakers can find someone to take on his $19.3 million contract) and that continued against the Heat — 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting, plus 11 rebounds. Defensively he struggled chasing Bosh around all night, but Gasol looked like the kind of player that could help some playoff bound team. And that is not the Lakers.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.