The Cavaliers tried to make the playoffs this year — honest. They were active in free agency before it began, and when those moves didn’t pan out, they ditched Andrew Bynum midseason and traded for Luol Deng, without any assurances that he’d be willing to re-sign once his contract was up at the conclusion of the regular season.
Deng reportedly didn’t like what he saw during his short time in Cleveland — between the locker room issues and the lack of control from then head coach Mike Brown, he wasn’t interested in even considering the Cavaliers as a free agent destination.
The feeling might have been mutual.
From Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal (via WFNY):
Yahoo Sports reported Thursday that the Cavs could increase their chances of retaining free agent Luol Deng should they hire [former Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin] to be their coach, but the Cavs tried trading Deng at the trade deadline three months ago and haven’t expressed much interest in bringing him back.
Deng is undoubtedly an All-Star talent, but a more subtle one if that makes any sense. He isn’t the type to anchor a team, but he would be an excellent veteran piece to solidify a winning situation that’s already in place.
If the Cavaliers are going to spend what Deng will likely cost in free agency, they need to get an impactful player in return for committing those salary cap dollars. Deng reportedly had zero interest in re-signing in Cleveland, so the team not pursuing him is likely a function of that, along with considerations of how that money could be better spent on players more likely to compliment the roster as it’s currently constructed.
James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.
He didn’t even rank second – or third.
Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.
What happened to the Houston star?
Calvin Watkins of ESPN:
Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.
“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”
Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.
But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.
The Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, 113-109, and now the series heads back to Texas with the Rockets in the lead, 3-1.
Houston and OKC played a weird game, with Nene scoring 28 points off the bench for the Rockets and serious mischief in the final moments. The end of the game included a purposely missed free throw by Steven Adams that allowed Russell Westbrook to grab a quick 3-pointer and a missed call when James Harden shoved Alex Abrines out of the way like an NFL tackle.
While the Rockets didn’t shoot a stellar percentage from 3-point range — just 31.5 percent — they still knocked down 11 buckets from deep. Part of that action was a play run for Sixth Man of the Year candidate Eric Gordon that included a little semi-Pistol action, and a stagger screen that allowed Gordon to work his way free.
I picked this play to go over this week because it exemplifies just how committed to the 3-point shot the Rockets are. Plus, Gordon ran around three screens just to get this one bucket, which is always fun to see.
Watch the full video breakdown above.
Marcus Smart and Jimmy Butler had to be separated during the Celtics’ Game 4 win over the Bulls after Smart pushed Butler, who was hounding him defensively in the backcourt.
As far as the Marcus Smart situation goes, he’s a great actor. Acting tough, that’s what he does. But I don’t think he’s about that, and I’m the wrong guy to get in my face. So, he needs to take it somewhere else because I’m not the one for that.
Was that their first run-in? Butler:
That’s the first time. Last time, too. We’re not going to sit here and get in each other’s faces like that. Like I said, he’s not about that life. So, he’s calming down.
The Bulls, who’ve lost two straight to allow Boston to tie the series 2-2, is angling for any edge. Butler tried to intimidate Smart on the court, and the Chicago wing might actually rattle the too easily shakable Smart with his postgame comments.
The irony: Some might say Butler, who did come up hard, lost touch with his roots as he entered stardom. I don’t buy that, at least not majorly.
But even if both – or neither – are posturing to any degree, this will be a matchup to watch in Game 5.
Jess Kersey, who officiated more than 2,200 NBA games, including being part of 19 NBA Finals, passed away over the weekend, losing his battle with cancer at age 76.
Kersey was a well-respected official who feared nothing. Maybe the most remembered image of Kersey is him trying to break up a fight between Mitch Kupchak and Hakeem Olajuwon, essentially trying to tackle Olajuwon with his head in Olajuwon’s chest and his arms wrapped around him. Kersey got in the middle of everything if that was what was required.
Our thoughts go out to the Kersey family for their loss.