Author: Brett Pollakoff

Lon Babby

Lon Babby stepping down as president of basketball operations with Suns


Lon Babby’s reign as president of basketball operations in Phoenix lasted five years, and the Suns haven’t made the playoffs since he joined the team in August of 2010.

His time with the club in that role is over, but not for that reason.

“The Phoenix Suns have announced today that President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby will be transitioning to the position of Senior Advisor as of August 1, 2015,” the team said via official release. “At that time Ryan McDonough will lead the Basketball Operations Department from his position as General Manager with continued support from Assistant General Managers Pat Connelly and Trevor Bukstein. All three individuals will take on increasing responsibilities within the organization and are signed to multiyear contracts.”

Babby didn’t do a lot during his time as president that could be considered a positive.

He oversaw the disastrous tenure of GM Lance Blanks, who made a series of questionable moves, but most notably signed Michael Beasley for three years and $18 million. Beasley was ultimately waived following a series of disappointments.

There was the curious way the whole Alvin Gentry firing played out midway through the 2013 season, and the equally strange decision to replace him with Lindsey Hunter on an interim basis.

Since then, the decisions have been more sound. Ryan McDonough was brought in as GM, who appeared to be well-qualified after learning under Danny Ainge in Boston for several seasons. The next coaching hire appeared to be a good one in Jeff Hornacek, who has done well in his first two seasons, all things considered. McDonough pulled off a deal to land Eric Bledsoe, and his presence was partly responsible for Phoenix going from 25 wins in 2013 to 48 wins the following season, while missing the playoffs by only a single game in the standings.

But the team took a step back with the moves that were made at the trade deadline, when both Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas were shipped out of town. The club had its reasons, but the current roster is a bit of a mess right now. With McDonough fully in control beginning in August, perhaps a true, singular plan can be properly put into place.

Report: Celtics ‘dangling’ two late first round picks to try to move up in NBA Draft

Danny Ainge

As of this moment, the Celtics have two first round picks in this summer’s NBA Draft — the 16th and 28th overall selections.

But with the talent level getting more uncertain the deeper on the draft board we go, Boston is reportedly looking to trade those two picks for one in order to move up and have a chance of selecting more of a sure thing.

From Gery Woelfel of

It’s hardly a secret a slew of teams, including several lottery ones, are exploring potential trades. One team that is making a concerted effort to move into the lottery, league sources claim, is Boston. The Celtics are dangling their two No. 1 picks: Nos. 16 and 28.

Depending on just how high the Celtics are thinking of going, they could also add future draft picks in any potential trade to sweeten the pot — mainly because they’re currently in possession of too many of them.

After this season, the Celtics own the rights to a total of 15 picks over the next two seasons. The reason for stockpiling that many assets wasn’t to use them to bring in a huge crop of rookies in the coming years, it was to package them in trades that could help get some higher-level talent in place more quickly on the roster.

This would appear to be a nice opportunity for that, provided Boston can move up enough to select a player the team truly wants.

LeBron on his late-game steal of Curry’s inbound pass: ‘I knew it was coming’

lebron smart

With 51 seconds remaining in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, and with the Warriors suddenly finding life with Stephen Curry raining ridiculous shots from all over the floor, every possession would count.

LeBron James made sure one of Golden State’s was taken away, and it was all thanks to just how smart he was in the moment.

James jumped the passing lane to come away with a critical steal on an inbound pass from Stephen Curry, and was immediately fouled. He pointed to his temple and smiled on his way back up the court, telling everyone he’d seen what was about to unfold.

“I just seen them run that set before, and I was telling the coaching staff that I was in tune and I knew it was coming,” James said of the play afterward.

Whether due to extensive film study or just remembering a play the Warriors had run in this series, LeBron was ready.

Warriors remain favorites to win the title despite trailing Cavaliers 2-1 in NBA Finals

LeBron James

The Warriors were significantly favorited by oddsmakers to win the championship heading into their Finals matchup against the Cavaliers, and even though they now trail two games to one in the series following Tuesday night’s Game 3 loss, Vegas still sees Golden State as having the best chance to come away with this year’s title.

From Jeff Sherman of the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook:

The margin by which the Warriors are favored has dipped, but it’s at least mildly surprising they remain the team predicted to win while trailing in the series.

The reason, perhaps, is that these games have all been so close. Games 1 and 2 could have gone either way, and despite falling behind by as many as 20 points in Game 3, Golden State had come back to cut it to one on a three from Stephen Curry with 2:45 left.

And, the reality remains that should the Warriors find a way to win Game 4, the series would be tied at two games apiece with two of the final three being played at Oracle Arena. If that scenario should unfold, you’d have to like their chances.

But the way LeBron James has his Cavaliers playing, I wouldn’t be willing to bet on it.

Kobe Bryant on whether Cavaliers are playing too much isolation basketball: ‘I don’t think it matters’

Kobe Bryant, LeBron James

LeBron James led the league in isolation possessions during the playoffs before the Finals began, and the results, to that point, weren’t pretty at all.

James shot just 37 percent in those situations, and it was worth wondering if that style (along with its low frequency of success) would doom the Cavaliers against a Warriors team that had the league’s best defense all season long.

The trend has continued in the Finals, but Cleveland has managed to continue to win in spite of it. And Kobe Bryant’s analysis from afar is that the strategy can be maintained because of the opportunities it can create.

“I don’t really think it matters,” he said before Game 3, when asked if the Cavaliers use too much isolation in an interview with Sina Sports. “Because what you’re trying to do is, you’re trying to create mismatches. So if LeBron can catch the ball and face up, and command two to three guys, now you have spacing on the weak side. So it really doesn’t matter. If you have shooters and guys that can make shots that are comfortable catching and shooting without a lot of movement, then I think they can get away with it. They just have to keep the game close.”

This is mildly amusing, if only for Bryant’s propensity to take so many of his shots in these very same situations, often times forced, and with better options still available.

But James doesn’t have a whole lot of help offensively, and pounding the ball one-on-one while draining the shot clock to keep the pace of the game low (and the ball out of Golden State’s hands) has been a big reason the Cavaliers find themselves up 2-1 in the series.