Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while reading the oral history (in twitter form) of Mike Woodson’s path to being fired…
Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies. I saw a couple Grizzlies fans on twitter knocking Conley for a missing a couple free throws late and getting stripped by Thabo Sefolosha for a turnover. Guess what — without Conley’s performance the Grizzlies lose that game by 20. He was fantastic on the pick-and-roll, attacking and pushing into the defense (Marc Gasol would come to an elbow area to create another option, and when Gasol got the ball and the defense helped it opened up backdoor cuts that the Grizzlies exploited all night). The Grizzlies controlled the tempo of the game — a lot of that was the patient Conley. He finished with 19 points and 12 assists, plus did a good job defending Russell Westbrook. Conley is one of the most underrated point guard sin the NBA and he showed why on Monday.
Beno Udrih, Memphis Grizzlies. When Conley sat, Udrih was fantastic. The guy the Grizzlies picked up off the waiver wire and Mike Woodson decided not to use him, Udrih kept the ball moving and finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The Thunder guards would go under picks and Udrih just made them pay every time. It was a blow when Nick Calathes got a 20-game suspension but Udrih made Grizzlies fans forget that for a night.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers. David Lee cannot cover Blake Griffin, and with Andrew Bogut out the smart help for Lee is gone (no offense intended to Jermaine O’Neal, but it’s not the same). In Game 1 the Clippers couldn’t exploit that because Griffin was in foul trouble from the start. In Game 2 there were no fouls but there was a very aggressive Griffin who was attacking the rim (9-of-11 inside 8 feet shooting) and it was key to the Clippers jumping out to a fast lead in what became a 40-point blowout. Griffin finished with a playoff high 35 points in just 30 minutes of play.
Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.
That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.
Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.
Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.
The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.
Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.
Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:
I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.
Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.
But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.
Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction
On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.
The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.
Now, we know when.
The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11
After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.
DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.
So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.
Cousins, via TMZ:
“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”
These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.
Not whom I want to honor, either.