Corey Brewer is better at finishing fastbreaks than leading them.
Nice defense by Emmanuel Mudiay, too.
But at least the Lakers won.
With the Timberwolves trailing the Pistons by three and 6.2 seconds left, Jimmy Butler drew a foul on a 3-pointer.
Butler made the first two free throws then, just before he got the ball for the third, Reggie Jackson interrupted to talk to Stanley Johnson, who was in rebounding position. Butler missed the free throw, and Detroit won 100-97 after an intentional foul.
Butler said Jackson didn’t affect him, but Butler’s side eye during the delay at least appeared to speak loudly.
Clint Capela is a Most Improved Player candidate.
The Rockets center has advanced his defensive awareness, and he’s crashing the glass harder and showing more touch inside. Importantly, he has also improved his conditioning so he can handle more playing time.
He’s in line to get paid in restricted free agency next summer after Houston didn’t sign him to a rookie-scale contract extension.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
“We’ll have him here as long as he’ll have us,” Morey said. “He couldn’t price himself out.”
“The only way [to overcome the Warriors] is to develop near-elite two-way players,” Morey said. “I think Clint has that potential. He’s on the way. He took a big step forward last year. It’s a lot to put on one guy, but we need one more step, at least.”
Did Morey run that by Tilman Fertitta? The new Rockets owner has said he’ll pay the luxury tax only to reach the Finals, and that’s a high bar to clear with Golden State around.
Houston already has nearly $76 million in 2018-19 and more than $85 million in 2019-20 committed to just five players (James Harden, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker and Nene). Three starters – Capela, Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza – will be free agents next summer.
Maybe Morey is just trying to scare off other Capela suitors. It’ll already be a tight market, and centers have been especially squeezed. It might not take much to convince other teams to look elsewhere, allowing Houston to re-sign Capela at a discount.
Paul is probably the priority. If Houston is as invested in Capela as Morey indicates, that could leave Ariza as the odd man out.
Or the Rockets could make the Finals or at least convince Fertitta it’s likely next season, and he could greenlight enough spending to keep this core together.
In September, Kevin Durant tweeted that he left the Thunder because he disliked the organization and playing for Billy Donovan and that Oklahoma City’s surrounding cast around him and Russell Westbrook was lacking.
Because Durant tweeted in the third person then quickly deleted the tweets, most assumed he intended to tweet from a burner account – a fake identity used to stick up for himself.
The Internet was alive with a gleeful debate about whether Durant had a second, secret Twitter account. That wasn’t the case, he told me. He did write the posts, but on his own account, he said. He described it as a dissociative episode: He woke up from a nap, and “it just felt like I was on the outside looking in at a conversation. I had to walk in and just be like, ‘Nah.’” Either way, he appeared thin-skinned and a bit disingenuous, inexplicably absorbed in criticism during the pinnacle of his professional life. Even worse was what he’d actually said in the posts: After a year of maintaining a scrupulous, respectful silence about his old coach and his old team, he’d finally let slip what seemed to be the truth about his feelings regarding the Oklahoma City **Thunder.
This re-opens big questions: Did Durant actually dislike Donovan and the organization? Why? What did he find lacking in a supporting cast that, at times, included James Harden and Serge Ibaka and could’ve included Victor Oladipo if Durant re-signed?
Durant has mostly taken the high road since leaving for the Warriors, and he clearly has a second Instagram account he has used to spar with critics. I’m not convinced he doesn’t also have a burner Twitter account that he intended to use on those infamous tweets.
But I’m also not sure why he’d deny it considering the questions it opens about whether he truly meant what he wrote.