Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while checking out Michael Jordan’s UNC transcripts….
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. I’ve just run out of superlatives. He’s your MVP. He’s the best pure scorer walking the face of the earth. He could have saved Krypton from destruction in the first place. On his way to the hotel after the game Thursday he stopped to save a kitten stuck in a tree. He pretended to be human for three quarters so Lakers fans wouldn’t feel so bad, going 9-of-22 overall and missing all of his shots from three. Then in the fourth quarter he dropped 19 on 5-of-11 shooting and he hit 3-of-5 from deep sparking a come-from-behind Thunder win. Durant finished with 43 points, the eighth time this season he broke 40. In between now and the All-Star Game Sunday, if he went and won the gold medal in luge in Sochi, would you even be surprised?
Kendall Marshall, Los Angeles Lakers. Who doesn’t love a good redemption story? After being kicked to the curb because he was the point guard who couldn’t shoot straight, he showed up to the Lakers — a team forced to take him out of the D-League due to injuries — and he is shooting 46 percent from three and still has the playmaking skills he always had. Mike D’Antoni’s system deserves a little credit here, it lets Marshall be Marshall, but credit the guy for fixing his weaknesses. He had 14 points and 17 assists against the Thunder Thursday.
Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls. This is why when the Bulls amnesty Carlos Boozer this summer they will be fine — they are getting great production out of Gibson and they can afford to put somebody next to him that pairs better with Derrick Rose. We’ll see who that is (it may not happen this summer) but Gibson is good. He had 16 points off the bench to lead Chicago to a comfortable win over the Nets Thursday.
That’s a piece of revenge.
Draymond Green twice kicked Steven Adams in the nether regions this series, but with the chance to close out the Warriors in Game 6 Adams got some revenge — he put Green in a poster and dunked all over him.
This came as part of a second quarter run when the Thunder stretched the lead out to double digits.
Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson is a restricted free agent, and he is the kind of quality rotation player that teams with cash to burn may well try to poach. The Lakers have the right to match and likely will unless the offer is way over the top. But make no mistake, Clarkson will go with the team that offers him the most money.
That’s July, right now Clarkson is saying the right things about wanting to stay with the Lakers and play for new coach Luke Walton.
Clarkson was interviewed by Chris McGee of Time Warner Cable, as reported by lakersnation.com.
I want to stay in LA….I don’t really look at it as me being a free agent; I want to be here…
He (Luke) called me a few days after he got hired. We talked about the offensive system, what he sees in us young guys, where he sees the organization, the style we’re gonna play. I’m excited for him to come and work with us.
Most likely he gets a chance, the Lakers want to keep him. They see him as part of the future (or at least as an asset they can trade to get parts for their future). He’s saying all the right things to make Laker nation happy.
But it’s going to be about the money. It always is.
Toronto’s DeMarre Carroll was unquestionably terrible in the Eastern Conference Finals.
He shot just 30 percent overall and 19 percent from three. They brought him in as a “3&D” guy to slow down players like LeBron James, but he didn’t even register as a pest on LeBron’s radar. Heck, at one point Richard Jefferson blew past Carroll on the drive.
But as always, there is context. Remember that Carroll came back from knee surgery just for the playoffs, and that was far from the only injury he was dealing with, reports Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star.
Apparently Carroll had everything but leprosy.
Did the gamble pay off? Carroll didn’t play well all playoffs, but the Raptors did reach the Eastern Conference Finals. It depends on perspective.
But Carroll needs to get healthy this summer and earn that $45 million over three years still left on his deal.
DeMar DeRozan will be a free agent come July 1, and in a market flooded with money he’s going to have options. His name has been linked through rumors to his hometown Lakers all season, but they will be far from the only team making a call.
However, DeRozan doesn’t sound like a guy looking to leave Toronto.
He has said multiple times before how much he wanted to finish what was started north of the border and how much he loved the team and city. He said all of it again after the Raptors were eliminated from the playoffs by the Cavaliers on Friday. Check out this exit interview quote when DeRozan was asked if he could find a better situation than the one he’s in, via Zach Harper at CBSSports.com.
“I don’t think so,” DeRozan said. “My mindset has always been Toronto. I always preached it. I was passionate about it when we was losing. When we was terrible, I said I’m going to stick through this whole thing and I want to be that guy who brings this organization to where it is now. I definitely don’t want to switch up after we win.”
But how appealing is Los Angeles?
“How appealing? I grew up in L.A.,” DeRozan said. “That’s my home. There’s not a part of L.A. I haven’t seen. I don’t get caught up into it. I let whoever comes up with that say what they want to say. Only thing appealing to me is the things I’ve done in this organization and the things that can be done here. And that’s always been my mindset.”
What should you read into this? If the money is equal, he’s going to choose Toronto over Los Angeles or any other destination.
But make no mistake, this is about the money. In most summers I would not say DeRozan is a max player, but in this summer with so much money flooding the market someone is going to offer it — and it’s probably the Raptors. Despite the holes in his game — lack of outside shooting, inconsistent defense — if the Raptors lose him for nothing they take a big step back. I expect next season he will be putting on a Raptors jersey again.
But July is always an unpredictable month.