Author: Brett Pollakoff

Minnesota Timberwolves v Orlando Magic

Timberwolves shut down Ricky Rubio for remainder of the season


Ricky Rubio has been officially shut down for the remainder of the season, Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders told reporters after the team practiced on Saturday.

With only six games left in the regular season, and given the fact that Rubio has missed the last nine games, the news shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

From Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune:

Coach Flip Saunders said Rubio’s sore left ankle – originally injured in Orlando Nov. 7 – was not responding well enough to treatment and that there was still soreness there.

“He’s just got soreness in that ankle,” Saunders said. “So they want to rest [it], take care of it. There is no use of him playing. We thought, with what we were doing, that he would get relief. And he’s not getting relief. So we want to make sure there is nothing else happening in there.”

Rubio appeared in a total of 22 games this season, averaging 10.3 points per game – right around his career average – and a career-high 8.8 assists per game. But his shot continued to be a problem; Rubio’s shooting percentage (35.6 percent) was a career low.

The shooting is a real concern for Rubio; one could easily go through his shot attempts from this season and compile a “James Harden bad defense” style video that would likely go just as viral.

Hopefully for the Timberwolves (and for Rubio’s NBA career), the injury will turn out to have been the cause of his regression more than anything else.

Minnesota is not tanking this season; Saunders has adamantly said as much. But if he were to employ that strategy, keeping Rubio sidelined the remainder of the season would be the way to go, in order to ensure the lineups remain as anemic as possible.

adidas unveils Easter shoes for John Wall, Damian Lillard, Derrick Rose (PHOTOS)


adidas unveiled its Easter collection of basketball shoes, which means we get pastel hues inspired by Easter-egg coloring splashed on the signature models of John Wall, Damian Lillard and Derrick Rose.







For more up close and detailed images, head on over to Nice Kicks.

[via Sneaker News]

MORE: Damian Lillard discusses the launch of his first signature shoe from adidas

Heat’s Mario Chalmers: ‘I don’t even really know what my role is on this team anymore’

Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat

Miami losing in Cleveland by 26 points on Thursday wasn’t much of a surprise, especially once Dwyane Wade went down with a knee injury that may force him to miss some time.

But should the Heat miss the playoffs — a real possibility now, with just seven games left in the regular season — it’s fair to say that would come as a shock to the Miami system.

The Heat have been in the postseason picture all year long, but now find themselves clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. A back-to-back in Detroit and Indiana looms large these next two games, and while four of the final five are at home, two are against teams fighting for playoff positioning in the Raptors and the Bulls.

It won’t be easy for Miami to get there, and things may be even more difficult if the players aren’t all on the same page. Mario Chalmers spoke publicly about that last part on Thursday, claiming he’s uncertain of his role now at this late stage of the season.

From Joe Goodman of the Miami Herald:

“I don’t even really know what my role is on this team anymore,” Chalmers told the Miami Herald. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing.” …

At different times this season, Chalmers has started at point guard and also at shooting guard. He also has backed up those two positions, and sometimes during the same game. …

“A lot of people are out of rhythm, and you really don’t know what’s going to happen — when you’re going to get the ball, when you’re going to shoot it, you just never know. You just got to be ready for everything, I guess,” Chalmers said.

This isn’t Chalmers complaining about his role, which is something that’s made clear in the article; it’s more an expression of frustration than anything else.

But if there are deeper issues between Chalmers and the Heat, Miami wouldn’t have a problem finding a taker for him in trade this summer. Chalmers is a seven-year veteran point guard with championship experience, and will be entering the final year of his contract, which will have him on the books for a reasonable $4.3 million next season.

John Wall sits entire fourth quarter, still posts career-high 18 assists in win over Knicks

Miami Heat v Washington Wizards

John Wall played just 29 minutes in Washington’s win on Friday, but that was more than enough to dish out a career-high 18 assists against the dismal New York Knicks.

From Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post:

“Everybody on the team was just trying to tell me to get 20,” Wall said. “That’s one of my goals, trying to get 20. I keep falling short.” …

“I always try to be a pass-first guy except in certain situations when I have to be aggressive and start scoring for the team,” Wall said. “But that’s my mindset going into it – to get everybody into a rhythm pretty early. It makes the game a lot easier closer to the end of the game when guys start double-teaming and I’m missing shots. Those guys can help close out games with me.”

Wall and the rest of the starters weren’t needed to close out Friday, which meant he didn’t have a chance to reach 20 assists. He was fine with it.

“I didn’t care,” Wall said. “I wanted to get some rest.”

Wall has really elevated his game this year, and he may not be getting the attention he deserves with so many players (James Harden, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and even LeBron James)  having truly ridiculous seasons.

MORE: CSN Washington subscriber? Watch Wizards-Grizzlies Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET

Scott Brooks on Russell Westbrook’s recent poor shooting: ‘That has nothing to do with his minutes’

Oklahoma City Thunder v Portland Trail Blazers

Russell Westbrook has been largely incredible for the Thunder this season, putting up enough triple-double performances to have him firmly entrenched in the MVP conversation.

But while Westbrook has indeed been stuffing the stat sheet on a regular basis, his performances have lacked efficiency, especially recently.

Only twice in his last nine games has Westbrook managed to shoot better than 34.5 percent from the field, and he’s shot just 25 percent and 31.3 percent respectively in his last two games. But when asked about Westbrook’s heavy work load and recent statistical slide, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said the amount of minutes he’s playing his star has no impact on Westbrook’s latest poor performances.

From Royce Young of

[S]ince Durant’s last game on Feb. 21, Westbrook is averaging 37.0 (minutes) a game. Over his last four: 40.0 a game.

“I know what you’re getting at, and I don’t know what your angle is, but he missed some shots, and he’s missed some shots the last couple games,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He plays hard. He’s going to get tired after every game. That’s what he does. That’s what an NBA player should do.

“That has nothing to do with his minutes,” Brooks continued. “His minutes have been good all year long and we’ve monitored them. He missed some shots. Every time you have a bad shooting game, or a couple bad shooting games, it’s not because you’re tired. It’s just things don’t fall. He competes, he leaves everything on the floor and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

I would agree that minutes, by themselves, are not at the root of Westbrook’s issues. Instead, it’s the level of responsibility Westbrook has to carry his team offensively that’s causing him to wear down at this late stage of the season.

Usage rate is an advanced statistic that measures the number of possessions a player uses per 40 minutes. Westbrook leads the league with a mind-blowing number of 38, which is the highest by far of any player over the past 12 seasons. Most league-leaders have finished the year with a number right around 33 during that 12-year span.

This is clearly what the problem is, though it’s not like the injury-ravaged Thunder have much of a choice. After two straight losses, they’re now clinging to the final playoff spot in the West by only a half-game over the Pelicans, and at least four of their remaining six games on the schedule should pose a significant challenge.

So, despite the fact that Westbrook is waning, don’t expect anything to change as the regular season comes to a finish.

“He’s one of the best players in basketball. What do you want me to do, take him out?” Brooks said. “That makes sense.”