After weeks and weeks of everyone clamoring for the Pistons to change their starting lineup, they’ve finally done it.
But Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond – who excel in pairs, just not as a trio – will still be starting together in the frontcourt.
Instead Kyle Singler will replace Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at shooting guard against the Magic tonight.
Arron Afflalo has given Caldwell-Pope trouble. In the 34 minutes they’ve shared the court this season, Afflalo is 12-for-17 for 29 points. And Caldwell-Pope was already on a short leash with Maurice Cheeks, getting pulled just two minutes into the Pistons’ loss to the Heat on Monday after Dwyane Wade worked him.
But Caldwell-Pope has been the Pistons’ best perimeter defender this season. Singler, who played more shooting guard last season, is just too slow to cover most shooting guards well.
In the 42 minutes Singler has played with Smith, Monroe and Drummond, the Pistons have yielded a whopping 125.0 points per 100 possessions. The lineup’s offensive rating of 86.8 is also awful.
That’s obviously a very small sample, but it only confirms the eye test. Singler is not cut out to defend starting shooting guards.
Caldwell-Pope has had issues against some of the league’s better twos, and that includes Afflalo. But the rookie is the best in a pool of imperfect options. When Caldwell-Pope joined the Pistons’ starting lineup, it went from horrendous to merely below average defensively.
That was at least progress.
There’s a chance Singler takes the Pistons further – and one game against the meager Magic won’t prove it one way or another – but this is not the significant change to their starting lineup many anticipated.
The Toronto Raptors are counting on Jared Sullinger to cover for the loss of Bismack Biyombo by crashing the boards, helping them space the floor on offense, and just being solid.
But they are going to have to get by without him for a while, something first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports, and confirmed by the team.
There is no timeline for Sullinger’s return, but it’s going to be a while. Sullinger had battled a stress reaction in his foot a year ago, this is likely an extension of that problem.
This certainly hurts the Raptors’ depth up front, but it’s also not a massive setback for a team with lofty aspirations this season. Patrick Patterson will get more minutes, which is a good thing, plus the Raptors need to play DeMarre Carroll more at the four. They can wait for Sullinger (who they signed this summer after Boston let him walk in the wake of signing Al Horford.
Beno Udrih sacrificed $90,000 last season to get the Heat an additional $2.7 million last season.
They repaid him with more than $1.5 million this season (though less than $1 million of it from their own pockets).
And that’s all they gave him.
Miami won’t even give Udrih a regular-season roster spot, waiving him to allow Rodney McGruder to make the team.
The Miami HEAT announced today that they have waived Vashil Fernandez, Luis Montero, Beno Udrih, Brianté Weber and Okaro White.
To recap: Out for the rest of the final season of his guaranteed contract due to injury, Udrih took a buyout that lowered his compensation by $90,000 last season. That brought the Heat under the luxury-tax line, preventing them from paying the repeater rate and allowing them to receive about $2.5 million given to non-tax-paying teams. Miami then re-signed Udrih this offseason, giving him a one-year, $1,551,659 fully guaranteed contract. Most players with guaranteed salaries stick into the regular season, but it seems the Heat paid Udrih for a reason other than their faith in him as a backup point guard.
Here’s the kicker: Because Udrih was a 12-year veteran on a one-year minimum contract, the league – funded by the very teams that rightfully protested Miami’s arrangement – has to fund $571,228 of his salary.
The Heat seemed high on Briante Weber, but he’s young and needs polish. McGruder, who went undrafted out of Kansas State in 2013, is probably more capable of helping now.
This leaves Miami without a clear backup point guard behind Goran Dragic, but combo guards Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson can handle the role.
At Clippers home games, you generally wouldn’t use the word “rockin'” to describe the atmosphere. With that, the Los Angeles Clippers are a good team at home, but not a whole lot better than they are on the road. Last season the Clippers won 29 games at Staples Center, 24 away from home. The season before they won 30 at home. The Clippers don’t defend their home court like other elite teams: The past two seasons combined the Clippers have won 19 fewer home games than the Warriors, 15 fewer than the Spurs, five less than the Cavaliers.
Chris Paul wants that to change.
Staples Center can get loud — it has for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Chris Paul isn’t laying the blame on the building or Clippers game operations, he told Dan Woike of the Orange County Register it’s on the players to give the fans something to cheer about.
“One of the biggest things for us is our home court hasn’t really been a home court,” Paul said. “I don’t know. For some reason we just haven’t made it a tough place to play.
“ … Obviously it’s our mentality. We’re the ones playing. We have to give our crowd something to cheer about, something to get behind. We’ve got to make Staples Center, for our home games, a tough place to play.”
“I feel like sometimes we’re a better road team than we are a home team, and that’s not good,” center DeAndre Jordan said. “I mean it’s good, but we want to be a great team at home and a really, really, really good team on the road. We need to figure out how to transition that, and we’ll be fine, but we’ve got to pick it up at home.”
Los Angeles is a city visiting players circle on the schedule — there’s a lot of fun to be had in the City of Angels. That can have opposing players less focused and not at 100 percent when they take the floor for the game, but the Clippers don’t seem to have that advantage. Do the Clippers relax more at home? Are they too comfortable?
The Clippers are an elite team, but if they are going to advance to the Western Conference Finals it’s not going to be one big thing but a lot of little ones that take them to the next level. Having Staples Center become a real house of horrors for opponents is one of those things. We’ll see if things are different for the Clippers this year.
It’s the biggest game the Chicago Cubs have played in years — and turned out to be its biggest win in more than five decades. Game six of the National League Championship Series. Win (as they did) and the Cubs are in the World Series for the first time since 1945.
Time to bring out the big guns to sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch.
They get Bulls legend Scottie Pippen — a good choice.
Except, he does not know that song. At all. This was almost Ozzy Osbourne bad.