Author: Brett Pollakoff

Danilo Gallinari

Danilo Gallinari scores career-high 47 points vs. Mavericks (VIDEO)


Danilo Gallinari missed the entire 2014 season due to injury, and has missed parts of this one, as well. But he looked as healthy as ever on Friday, scoring a career-high 47 points in a double-overtime loss to the Mavericks.

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Gallinari scored 17 in the two overtime sessions, but the performance was an impressive one nonetheless. He finished 15-of-23 from the field (including 7-of-12 from three-point distance), made all 10 of his free throw attempts and grabbed nine rebounds while playing almost 46 minutes.

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Matt Barnes: Reason free agents don’t sign with Lakers is ‘because of management,’ not Kobe Bryant

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers

Before the season began, an article was published by a major media outlet that claimed Kobe Bryant’s presence on the Lakers roster was preventing the team from landing marquee free agents.

It was filled with quotes from anonymous sources with clear agendas, and was presented with a one-sided view of Bryant’s impact from people who obviously had an axe to grind.

But a funny thing happened in response: actual NBA players (you know, the ones who supposedly wouldn’t willingly sign up to play with Kobe) came out publicly and on the record saying that absolutely wasn’t the case.

Matt Barnes, a former Lakers teammate of Bryant’s and current member of the Clippers, became the latest to take that stance — but also blamed Lakers management for the team’s sorry state of affairs.


The common misconception is that players cower at the idea of playing with Kobe due to his ultracompetitive nature, says Barnes. But the onus is actually on the front office, Barnes recently told’s Chris Ballard for an upcoming feature story.

“The reason people don’t want to go to the Lakers is because of management,” Barnes tells “Kobe can be the scapegoat all they want but if you play hard, Kobe likes you. And if you bulls— around, he doesn’t. It’s plain and simple. He’s not a vocal leader. He just expects you to play as hard as you can every minute on the court, like he does.”

The management argument honestly doesn’t make any sense, because players don’t care who the GM is or who is making the decisions in the front office once they’ve been signed. Certainly, guys want to play for a competent organization with a track record of winning, but beyond that, money is usually first and foremost when players are making their free agent decisions.

The irony in all of this, of course, is that Kobe wouldn’t want to have anyone as his teammate who doesn’t value effort and competitiveness as much as he does. But setting that aside, and as Barnes intimated, Bryant’s presence isn’t as much of a deterrent to other players joining the Lakers as some would lead you to believe.

Tony Parker’s explanation of Kawhi Leonard’s emergence perfectly explains Spurs’ sustained success

San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three

The Spurs won at least 50 games again this season, keeping a 16-year streak alive of accomplishing a feat that no other team is likely to ever touch.

One reason for that is consistency; the team’s historically great trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili recently set the all-time record for most games played by a three-man group, surpassing Boston’s Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, who held the mark since 1992.

But the other, far more important reason — the lack of ego present in any of the team’s stars, and a willingness to let others take the reins as soon as they’re ready — might be one that’s unique to the San Antonio franchise.

From Dan McCarney of

Kawhi Leonard was the Finals MVP last year, but he’s proven capable of playing at that level for more than just an easily-won five-game series. Without Parker’s willingness to let him be great, the Spurs might not be having the late-season surge they’re experiencing, which has them primed to once again contend for the title — just as they’ve been doing for the past 16 years.

Duke’s Jahlil Okafor officially declares for NBA Draft

Jahlil Okafor

Likely lottery picks Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein were among seven Kentucky players in total who made what was expected official on Thursday by declaring for the NBA Draft.

Duke’s Jahlil Okafor did the exact same thing.

From the official release (via CBT):

“As early as I can remember, I’ve fantasized and dreamed of the day that I could play professional basketball,” said Okafor. “ I recall at the age of six, promising my mom and dad that when I made it to the NBA I would buy them both different colored trucks. They would laugh with me in support and encouraged me to dream big and work hard. With that being said and now at the age of 19, my dream is still alive!  My freshman year has been an amazing experience to say the least. It exceeded my expectations! I love Cameron and Duke University! I can’t thank my coaches, teammates and family enough for making this year so special and helping me grow on and off the court. With Coach K’s and my family’s blessing I will be fulfilling my life-long dream and proudly entering my name into the NBA draft.”

Okafor was penciled in as the number one overall pick for most of the season, but Towns has surpassed him there in many experts’ eyes. There’s an argument to be made for Okafor, but we’ll have to see how the draft lottery shakes out before trying to read the tea leaves to figure out whose name Adam Silver will call first on June 25.

Jason Kidd doubles down on non-explanation for benching Giannis Antetokounmpo

Bucks Training Camp

Giannis Antetokounmpo had started the last 64 games for the Milwaukee Bucks, and had appeared in the team’s last 145 before he was unceremoniously benched by head coach Jason Kidd in advance of Wednesday night’s contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Not only was Kidd not interested in discussing his reasons with reporters afterward, invoking the “coach’s decision” response six separate times, but he accused the media members who were present of asking “stupid questions” about why Antetokounmpo didn’t play.

A day later, Kidd was no less obstinate in discussing the situation.

From Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“You look back, Khris (Middleton) was down and didn’t play,” Kidd said. “I think it’s fair to say this isn’t the first time it happened.”

“Were any of the guys surprised?” Kidd said of Giannis not playing. “Because when you ask them, no one was surprised.”

Kidd said he chose not to disclose his exact reasons but hinted there were different factors. He said it was not punishment.

More Kidd: “Coach’s decision; that’s pretty powerful when it’s said. I think Pop made it famous when he put for Duncan, old behind it.”

I hate to go all #wellactually on Kidd here, but when Gregg Popovich rested Tim Duncan for a game in 2012, he didn’t stubbornly stick to “coach’s decision.” Instead, he had fun with it by listing Duncan as DND-Old, meaning the reason he didn’t dress for that game was due to his relatively advanced age.

When Kidd similarly benched Khris Middleton out of nowhere earlier in the year, Middleton admitted to being shocked, which was likely the desired reaction.

Antetokounmpo handled it professionally, even if Kidd has not, and he’s expected to return to the lineup for Friday’s contest against the Knicks.