Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while thinking this guy is tougher than you would be in his shoes…
Charlotte Bobcats defense. Here’s a little secret — Golden State’s offense isn’t as good as you think it is. In their last five games the Warriors are shooting 39.5 percent overall and 32.2 percent from three, scoring 95.8 points per 100 possessions in that time, 27th in the NBA (on the season they are 16th). That said, Charlotte has played a lot better defense since Michael Kidd-Gillchrist returned and held the Warriors offense to 75 points on 32 percent shooting — David Lee was 3-of-13, Stephen Curry 1-of-7 from three. That’s a good defens Against anyone. Charlotte’s defense led them to a 3-1 road record on this road trip.
Chicago Bulls defense. Indiana couldn’t do what the Bulls did Tuesday — drag the high-paced Suns team into the quicksand, turning the game into an ugly slugfest that favored them. The game wasn’t that slow — 102 possessions, which is nine more than the Bulls want per game, according to NBA.com numbers — but it felt slow and grinding, which is just how the Bulls want it. The Suns only shot 38.8 percent on the night, were 8-of-28 from three, shot just 48,4 percent inside 8 feet, and had an offensive rating of 98.4 (points per 100 possessions). Chicago’s style of play made the Suns uncomfortable.
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves. Both the Kevins got off to a fast start for Minnesota — Love and Martin combined for 37 of the Timberwolves 68 first half points — but we will single out Love for his efficient all-around game. He had 31 points and 17 rebounds, plus he got to the free throw line 18 times. The fact he did that against the Lakers “defense” shouldn’t be held against him.
Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats. Jefferson has often been overlooked when talking about guys who were snubbed for the All-Star Game and he had another big night — 30 points and 13 rebounds. He had 17 of those in the points in the second half, when you kept waiting for Golden State to put together a little run but Jefferson and Charlotte would always get the buckets that shuts down the runs.
Rudy Gay complained about how the Kings are handling the trade rumors swirling around him.
Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac, via James Ham of CSN California:
“He has my number,” Divac told CSN California. “If I do something, I will call him. Obviously, if I didn’t call him, we didn’t do anything.”
“Look, I was a player, 16-17 years in the league, nobody called me everyday and tell me what management is doing,” Divac said. “Management was doing their job. If something big happened, they called and told me. Obviously, nothing big happened (so) I’m not going to call anybody.”
I suppose Divac can take that tack. He’s obviously not obligated to provide Gay regular updates.
But the Kings already have a reputation for putting their players in bleak positions. This doesn’t help.
Even if Divac feels calling Gay is going out of his way, so what? The alternative — Gay either coming to training camp unhappy or spreading word of Sacramento’s mistreatment of players to his new teammates after a trade — is far worse.
It’s not enough for Divac to just wait for Gay to call him — especially because Divac might not be as reliable with the phone as he thinks.
The National Basketball Players Association has talked for more than a year about covering medical expenses for retired players.
Today, the union announced a formal plan.
The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced today that its player representatives have voted unanimously to fund health insurance for all retired NBA players with at least three years of service in the league. This program is the first of its kind among North American professional sports. It also exemplifies the NBPA’s focus on the health and welfare of its current, retired and future members.
“The game has never before been more popular, and all the players in our league today recognize that we’re only in this position because of the hard work and dedication of the men who came before us,” said Chris Paul, NBPA President and nine-time All-Star. “It’s important that we take care of our entire extended NBA family, and I’m proud of my fellow players for taking this unprecedented step to ensure the health and well-being of our predecessors.”
The unanimous vote – which took place during the NBPA Summer Meeting in New York on June 26 – established a multi-faceted health insurance program through UnitedHealthcare, the country’s leading health benefits provider. The current proposal includes:
Retired players with between three and six years of NBA service time but who are not yet eligible for Medicare would be offered a plan that includes medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage with modest out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-pays;
Those with between seven and nine years of service would be offered the same coverage with even lower out-of-pocket costs;
Retired players with at least 10 years of service would be offered the same coverage as the seven-to-nine year players, and would include coverage for their entire family;
Retired players with three-nine years of service who are eligible for Medicare would be offered a $0 deductible and $0 co-pay plan along with a low-cost prescription drug plan; those with 10+ years of service to receive this coverage for themselves and their spouse.
The open enrollment period for retired players would begin this fall, with coverage beginning on January 1, 2017.
This is a good thing.
It also could become a bargaining point in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Should current players face the entire burden of insuring retired players, or should owners split the cost? (The fact that the question is even being posed paints players in a positive light.)
But back to the bigger point: This is a good thing. It’ll help retired players who need it, retired players who helped position the current generation to afford this. Kudos to the union for stepping up.
Warriors center Anderson Varejao will miss the Rio Olympics due to a back injury.
Where will Team Brazil turn now?
Likely to Bulls center Cristiano Felicio.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Felicio came on strong late last season. He puts his 6-foot-10, 275-pound frame to good use protecting the paint and rebounding. He showed potential as passer and mid-range shooter, too.
At age 24, he’s a candidate to break out in the Olympics.
If he’s not ready, Brazil can turn to a steady veteran at center, Nene.
Blake Griffin broke his hand punching Clippers equipment manager Matias Testi in January.
Make that former Clippers equipment manager Matias Testi.
The L.A. Clippers equipment staffer who was punched in the face by Blake Griffin during a fight in Toronto earlier this year is off the team — and will NOT be back for the ’16/’17 season … TMZ Sports has learned.
We spoke with a rep for the Clippers who confirmed Matias Testi “no longer works for the team.”