The Nuggets dealt for Mason Plumlee just before the trade deadline with the intention of re-signing him this summer.
Plumlee didn’t exactly live up to expectations in Denver last season, though. While Jusuf Nurkic thrived in Portland, the Nuggets missed the playoffs. Plumlee and Nikola Jokic merely meandered as a tandem.
Free agency proved particularly harsh for restricted free agents and centers, and Plumlee was both. A $4,588,840 qualifying offer lingered.
But Denver stepped up with a big payday.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
That’s a lot of money for a backup center. Probably too much.
Plumlee is already 27, so while he might remain effective through this deal, he probably has untapped upside. What you see is what you get: A mobile finisher who passes willingly and defends with more effort than ability.
But where does he fit in Denver?
The Nuggets will start Paul Millsap and Jokic, and they’re overstuffed with backup power forwards – Darrell Arthur, Juan Hernangomez, Trey Lyles, Tyler Lydon and Kenneth Faried, who can also play center. There’s clearly a role reserved for Plumlee, given this deal.
But considering Denver’s leverage – with Plumlee being restricted, other teams not appearing interested and the Nuggets’ big man depth – this contract looks even worse.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.
Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.
The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.
I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.
That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:
Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.
But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.
On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.
To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.
The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.
It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.
TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).
Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.
But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.
So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.
But at least he has that opportunity.
Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.
Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.