Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while watching Jimmy Fallon and Anne Hathaway do Broadway versions of hip-hop classics….
Timofey Mozgov, Denver Nuggets. It’s not just that Mozgov had a monster night — 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting, plus a career high 29 rebounds — it’s that he did it against one of the better defensive centers in the NBA in Andrew Bogut. The real key here was just pure hustle — Mozgov outworked Warriors players for the rebounds. He got his points by working hard off the ball, which led to a quick pass and an easy bucket. The Warriors have played good defense this season but didn’t Thursday night and Mozgov made them pay. That was a career night for the Russian big man.
Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets. Mentioned in the Mozgov grade that hustle was winning the day for Denver, so no shock that the Manimal put up 18 points and 17 rebounds. But those numbers are not out of line with what Faried has done the second half of this season — Denver has needed him to score and he has shown off a vastly improved post game (he is shooting 56 percent from the post since the All-Star Game, via Zach Lowe). He’s so confident in his post game that when the Warriors cut off the play designed for a handoff to Randy Foye, Faried just backed his man down and nailed the game winner.
Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs. I am not a fan of the “most improved player” award because it can be nebulous to define. That said, Patty Mills would land on my ballot. All season long he has had to step in when Tony Parker gets the night off, as happened Thursday, and he has played brilliantly — 26 points, including 6-of-11 shooting from three in the win over Dallas. Okay, not the most efficient of nights (9-of-25 shooting) but he’s getting it done for the team that will have the best record in the NBA.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs. If you’ve been watching “Cosmos” you know that certain bodies can bend space-time to their will. Tim Duncan is one of those bodies. He doesn’t seem to age. There was a real scare early in the game — he admitted it scared him, too — when Duncan hyperextended his knee. But soon he was back in the game and finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds and threw in a block. Spurs win again. Timeless.
With trade rumors swirling, Goran Dragic told the Suns in February 2015 that he wouldn’t re-sign the following summer. Dragic said he no longer trusted Phoenix’s front office.
So, the Suns traded him to Miami.
But did they have to?
Then-Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek apparently got Dragic to change his stance.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
Within days of Hornacek having a heart-to-heart with Dragic and securing a commitment from the Slovenian point guard to re-sign with the Suns as a free agent the following summer, the Suns shipped him to Miami in a three-team trade, a person familiar with the situation told CBS Sports.
This substantially changes how we view that trade. At the time, it seemed the Suns got a tremendous haul for a player they were going to lose anyway. But if they could’ve re-signed him, it changes the equation.
Maybe not enough to say Phoenix erred, though.
Dragic was clearly wavering in his thinking. He later said he regretted his harsh comments about the front office. Just because he told Hornacek he’d re-sign doesn’t mean he was bound to re-sign
And Phoenix got solid return – a top-seven protected 2017 first-rounder that becomes unprotected in 2018 and an unprotected 2021 first-rounder. Picks with so few protections rarely move anymore. The Heat look solid right now, but they’re fairly old. That far into the future, anything can happen – giving those picks great upside.
So, maybe the Suns still made the right move. But maybe just keeping Dragic was more on the table than we previously realized.
Kyle Lowry popularized the late-night workout in these playoffs, but he’s not the only one to practice until the wee hours.
Raptors teammate DeMar DeRozan shot until about 1 a.m. Monday, according to Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com, preceding Toronto’s Game 4 win over the Cavaliers.
But the funniest part came when DeRozan arrived at the arena earlier.
Upon entry into the bowl area, a female security guard spotted him and stopped him. She asked what he was doing there and even went as far to ask if he worked at the arena.
DeRozan just chuckled and kept walking down the 100-level steps and onto the court where his backcourt teammate Kyle Lowry was waiting. The security guard called for backup, assuming a possible trespasser was on the scene.
Once help arrived and saw who was on the court, he said to his colleague, “That’s our two best players.” He was not quite accurate. On Monday night, those two were the two best players on the court.
“That was the first time that ever happened,” DeRozan said of the incident. “I just laughed about it. You know me. I wasn’t tripping. You can call the whole security team in here and obviously somebody is going to know, but she was just doing her job.”
Jeremy Lin ought to feel better now.
This is putting the “carousel” in coaching carousel.
Hornets assistant Stephen Silas (a Rockets head-coaching candidate) and Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts (a Grizzlies head-coaching candidate) are also both interviewing to become the Warriors’ lead assistant. If Tibbetts gets the job, Portland would have a vacancy, so…
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Portland also was granted permission Sunday to talk to Silas about being its top assistant, league sources said.
Working for Steve Kerr in Golden State – which propelled Alvin Gentry to Pelicans head coach last year and Luke Walton to Lakers head coach this year – is probably preferable. But Silas’ star is rising, regardless. He’s a highly regarded assistant coach.
Terry Stotts, contract extension in hand, could add Silas without fearing being undermined. That’s the value of giving head coaches security. Hiring good assistants becomes more tenable.
Why would Silas leave another good coach, Steve Clifford in Charlotte, for the Trail Blazers? I don’t know for certain, but in these situations, there’s usually one place to start: money. Portland’s willingness to spend could pay off.
While a couple of the big chairs have yet to be filled — Houston still hasn’t settled on a coach, neither has Memphis — the assistant coaching spots around the league are starting to fill up.
Marc Stein of ESPN dropped some nuggets about the bench of Nate McMillan in Indiana and Dave Joerger in Sacramento:
Bayno, the former UNLV head coach, had not been in the NBA this season but had been with Dwane Casey in Toronto the two seasons before that, and before that had been an assistant with Minnesota and Portland.
Corliss Willamson had been popular with players in Sacramento, as had Nancy Lieberman — but she also had a big fan on owner Vivek Ranadive. She is one of only two full-time female assistant coaches in the NBA (along with Becky Hammond in San Antonio).