The Brooklyn Nets are so deep in a screwed up rebuild they couldn’t even follow “the process” if they wanted to — the Celtics control the Nets first round picks for years. Throw blame at former GM Billy King, he earned some, but know he was trying to execute the unreasonable and ridiculous wishes of owner Mikhail Prokhorov — he’s the guy who deserves the ultimate blame.
New GM Sean Marks is trying to right the ship — and is doing as good a job as could be expected. He added solid veterans — such as Jeremy Lin, Luis Scola, Greivis Vasquez, Randy Foye — and with that the Nets will suck less. They aren’t going to be good, but they won’t be embarrassing. Which is a step forward.
The thing veteran Brook Lopez sees as different is guys are already in working out at the Nets’ facilities — that hasn’t happened before, he told the New York Post.
“It’s abnormal,” he said. “It’s a good feeling. I know they’ve been harping on the culture and all but it’s a completely unique feel this time, like we’re moving in that right direction. It’s something people actually want to be a part of.”
The 7-foot, 28-year-old center calls the training staff “an international work force” with “guys taking what they’ve learned all around the world, bringing it together in this eclectic fashion so we really have the best of the best.
“It’s hard,” Lopez said. “We’re together and we’re doing it. Before, we’d have guys coming in, wouldn’t really get their treatment [or] their mobilization. And they weren’t necessarily on time. It’s the way it should be now.”
Step one in turning a franchise around ins bringing in a culture of hard work and accountability. Yes, they ultimately need to get a lot more talent on the roster, but the talent without the right culture around that doesn’t lead to success (you can see that around the NBA, and other sports, all the time).
If I’m a Nets fan, what Lopez said makes me happy. The product will be better this year — and with Jeremy Lin running the show, it will be entertaining. The Nets aren’t playoff bound, but they are moving in the right direction.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.
The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.
Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.
Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.
“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”
After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.
There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.
Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.
However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.
It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.
I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.
There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.
But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.
Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.
This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:
Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.
Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.
“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.
Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).
By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).
But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.