The Pacers got off to a dismal start in 2010-11, winning just 17 of their first 44 games under head coach Jim O’Brien before Frank Vogel took over as a midseason replacement.
With Vogel in place, the team finished 20-18 over its last 38 games, an improbable run that landed the Pacers in the playoffs.
All this went down during Paul George’s rookie season, and not surprisingly, he was much happier once Vogel took over and he was inserted into the starting lineup for the remainder of the year, which included five postseason games.
Somewhat ironically, George’s minutes per game were fairly similar under Vogel, but players believe a certain amount of cachet is attached to being one of the starters, and there may have been other reasons that George was less than thrilled with playing under O’Brien’s unsuccessful reign.
No matter the reason for George’s stance, we’re appreciative of what’s obviously a very real response. More and more players are beginning to speak their minds (at least now, in the middle of the offseason), and it only increases the overall entertainment value of the league, while revealing the competitive personalities of its players at the very same time.
The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.
So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?
“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”
“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”
“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”
Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.
And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.
Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?
LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)
NEW YORK (AP) — Derrick Rose is missing the New York Knicks’ game against Cleveland because of lower back pain.
Rose left the Knicks’ victory over Miami on Tuesday in the third quarter with back spasms. Coach Jeff Hornacek says Rose still felt sore on Wednesday when he came in and met with team doctors, so they sent him for an MRI exam to make sure there was no structural damage.
Rose is averaging 16.7 points and this is the first game he’s missed this season.