Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while trying out hat new Cheetos cologn…
Oklahoma City Thunder defense. It’s flashy when Kevin Durant has 28 points, Russell Westbrook 27 and both are throwing down monster dunks. That’s not why the Thunder won and snapped the Spurs 19 game winning streak, that’s not why they have swept the season series and won 10-of-12 from San Antonio — it’s the defense. The length and athleticism of the Thunder (even without Thabo Sefalosha) can pressure, cover ground and contest shots. The Thunder did that in particular in the second half, holding San Antonio to 39.5 percent shooting. The Spurs had an offensive rating of just 94.7. This is why, as well as the Spurs have played, I like the Thunder out of the West (or maybe the Clippers) — the hyper athleticism of OKC just beats the Spurs.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks. This was the kind of win the Mavericks need — on the road against a quality opponent. Nowitzki was his classic self with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting and 4-of-7 from three. He also had 11 boards. With the win the Mavs move half a game up on the Grizzlies and Suns in the battle for the last couple playoff spots in the East. The Mavs opened a tough four game road trip with a win, that’s huge in keeping a hold of one of those playoff spots.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers. He had a triple-double — 25 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. He scored 19 points in the first half. He gets the lower grade because it took 23 shots to get the 25 points, he shot just 8-of-16 inside 8 feet and 1-of-7 beyond that. His legs looked tired, which is to be expected on the second night of a back-to-back after a road trip. He tweaked his right ankle with a misstep late, he was limping off the court at the end. Hopefully it’s nothing serious, but don’t be shocked that even if it’s not Griffin gets a couple of games off to rest.
Derek Fisher is already stumping for his second head-coaching job.
Fisher has done plenty since retiring as a player — getting hired by the Knicks, getting fired by the Knicks and in between being attacked by Matt Barnes and finding another controversy about player relations.
All the while, Fisher counted against the cap for the Thunder, his last NBA team.
Oklahoma City finally renounced him to sign Alex Abrines.
Albert Nahmad of Heat Hoops:
This is one of my favorite salary-cap quirks, explained in further detail here.
These are becoming fewer and further between, because teams are using cap room more frequently as the salary cap skyrockets. Gone are the days of a team operating above the cap for a dozen straight years.
There’s also even less utility in old cap holds now that a player must have played the prior season for a team to be used in a sign-and-trade. (Not that these holds were useful except the rarest of occasions prior, anyway.)
Fisher’s quick transition from playing to coaching helped make this an exception, allowing this weird (and trivial) transaction.
Where will the NBA hold the 2017 All-Star game?
New Orleans? Probably.
New York/Brooklyn or Chicago? Maybe.
One more maybe: Las Vegas.
Scott Kusher of The Advocate:
The NBA held All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas in 2007. By all accounts, it was wild.
I’d be surprised if the league returned the event to Las Vegas, but at this point, I’d really be surprised by any option besides New Orleans.
The 76ers hired Bryan Colangelo, and Sam Hinkie bounced.
Now, much of Hinkie’s front-office is also heading out the door.
Zach Lowe of ESPN:
that regime — including deposed GM Sam Hinkie’s handpicked analytics crew — will be mostly gone by the end of August, league sources say.
If Colangelo hires his own analytics staff and integrates numbers into his decision-making, this is no big deal.
If Colangelo leaves those positions vacant, Philadelphia will be working from behind.
I’m betting on the former. He isn’t Hinkie, but Colangelo has discussed the importance of analytics. Let Colangelo hire his own staff, and everything might even flow more smoothly.
Mike Krzyzewski hates fun (even more than he admits).
So, the coach wasn’t thrilled after Team USA’s exhibition win over China, which included DeMar DeRozan nearly 360-degree dunking on someone.
Marc J. Spears of ESPN:
I want to see Team USA make highlight plays. Dunk from the free-throw line. Shoot from halfcourt. Throw behind-the-back passes. Show up weaker competition.
So, it’s hard for me to get behind Coach K’s criticism.
But I also want to see the Americans win gold medals in the Olympics, and I’ll blame Krzyzewski if they’re not adequately focused.
Fair? Not one bit.
Doesn’t change what I want, though.