Dan Feldman

Marcus Smart flops his way out of getting humiliatingly dunked on by Solomon Hill (video)

3 Comments

Solomon Hill dunked straight over Marcus Smart – reminiscent of Vince Carter over Frederic Weis (besides the height difference).

But before the Celtics guard got roasted for being on the wrong end of the jam, he fell to the ground, and referees bailed him out by calling an offensive foul.

I don’t love the flop. But the over-the-top charge celebration? I appreciate the gall.

Kevin Durant: Contrary to initial claim, I wanted to be No. 1 pick over Greg Oden in 2007 draft

2007 ESPY Awards - Press Room
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
5 Comments

In 2007, there was genuine debate about whether the Trail Blazers should draft Greg Oden over Kevin Durant with the No. 1 pick.

Durant said he didn’t care whether he went No. 1 or No. 2 to the SuperSonics.

Of course, Portland took Oden – the more-popular, though hardly unanimous, choice – and Oden fizzled out of the NBA due to injuries. Durant became a superstar with the Thunder and Warriors.

Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“I definitely wanted to be the No. 1 pick, but I landed in a great situation. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I would love to play with LaMarcus and Brandon Roy, but when I was the second pick, I was very excited to get to Seattle. We had traded Ray Allen, like, two picks later and I was like, ‘Wow. They’re really opening it up for me and really allowing me to grow as a player.’ So I didn’t even worry about being the No. 1 pick after that. Once we traded Ray Allen, I was like, ‘This is my team.’ They’re going to allow me to grow and make my mistakes. So I was looking forward to it.”

Of course Durant wanted to be the No. 1 pick. There wasn’t an appreciable difference in the quality of the top two teams, and the top selection got greater recognition and a higher salary. I’m not sure why Durant denied it in the first place.

How different would the league be today if Durant went to Portland and Oden went to Seattle then Oklahoma City? The ripple effects would be huge.

But I doubt the Trail Blazers picked Oden over a misunderstanding about Durant’s desire to go No. 1. They, like a lot of people, thought Oden was the better prospect.

Durant also addressed Oden’s claim that he’ll be “remembered as the biggest bust in NBA history.””

Durant, via Haynes:

“Nonsense. That’s nonsense,” Durant adamantly told ESPN Sunday evening. “In order for you to be a bust, you have to actually play and show people that you progressed as a player. He didn’t get a chance to.”

Personally, I don’t care whether players with major injuries are included in bust discussions. It’s worth acknowledging when that’s a factor, but their teams still don’t get the desired production. When talking busts, there are two overlapping conversations to have – one that exempts injured players and one that doesn’t. Both are valid.

Phil Jackson says he’s not frustrated by amount of Knicks’ triangle usage, not eying Lakers job

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, left, sits next to Phil Jackson, right, president of the New York Knicks, during the first half of an NBA basketball game between the Knicks and the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
7 Comments

As long as Phil Jackson’s Knicks continue to struggle, we’re going to hear the same questions:

Is the triangle working? Will he leave for the Lakers?

Jackson, in a Q&A with Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

JM: There have been reports you are frustrated that (Knicks coach) Jeff Hornacek isn’t employing the triangle offense enough. Is that the case?

PJ: No. But when they run it I want them to run it the right way. If you are going to do it, use your skills and run it the right way. I’m not frustrated at all. Derrick Rose missed three weeks of training camp (because of a civil trial). It’s totally understandable where we are as a ballclub. We have guards that do a lot of stuff off the dribble. I want them to understand they can do things off the pass. It has to be a combination.

JM: Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss said if the Lakers didn’t make it to the Western Conference finals by 2017, he would step down. It’s unlikely the Lakers will meet that goal. Why not go back and run your old team?

PJ: They’re moving forward in the right direction. Luke (Walton) has them engaged, Brian (Shaw) is an associate head coach; they have a core group of guys that will get it done. It was never important to me to go back and be a part of that. Especially not now. I have this job, this commitment.

Jeanie Buss has denied plans to brings Jackson to the Lakers. Rumors continued to sprout, anyway. This non-denial won’t end speculation, either – especially with the Lakers employing a pair of Jackson-approved coaches in Walton and Shaw.

And especially with the Knicks losing. Eventually something will have to give in New York.

I thought another Jackson answer was telling:

You have to be unique. You have to have something no one else is doing to have genius in this game. It becomes an ownership. I don’t care about the triangle. I care about systematically playing basketball.

Running the triangle isn’t necessarily wrong, but the question I keep coming back to: Are the Knicks emphasizing it for the right reasons? The roster doesn’t seem to fit the triangle. The coach isn’t experienced with it. Yet, Jackson continues to insist on the scheme.

Jackson is working for his legacy in New York. Winning isn’t enough. He wants to be perceived as a genius.

That’s a justifiable risk on his part if he has a soft landing waiting in Los Angeles. Even if he doesn’t, it might be the only way to feed his ego.

In the meantime, the Knicks suffer as the same questions keep surfacing.

Report: NBA executives increasingly think Kings will trade DeMarcus Cousins

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 03:  DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings reacts to a foul during the game against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center on November 3, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
9 Comments

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

The Kings are bad. DeMarcus Cousins is frustrated. Sacramento could trade Cousins.

Sean Deveney of Sporting News:

there’s reason to think that by the time February’s trade deadline comes around, Cousins will no longer be with the Kings — and a move could come in the first half of December. That’s the speculation among front office executives around the league, at least.

“I’d say they have three months, tops,” one Western Conference general manager told Sporting News, requesting anonymity because he is not allowed to speak about other teams’ players. “Probably more like a month, or month-and-a-half, because the closer they get to the (February trade) deadline, the less they’re going to get back. If you’re trying to trade him the week of the deadline, it’s going to be tougher.”

My initial reaction was opposing teams are just agitating for Sacramento to trade Cousins, who is incredibly talented, reasonably young, already productive and locked up into 2018. And I’m sticking with that.

But Kings minority owner Shaquille O’Neal suggested the Kings could trade Cousins. Is it that unreasonable rival teams have similar expectations?

Sacramento probably cares too much internally about winning now to trade Cousins yet. I don’t buy that his value will drop much between now and the trade deadline. He’d still have plenty of time to help his new team secure playoff position and get acclimated in time for the postseason.

But if the Kings (4-7) keep struggling, they should look harder at dealing their franchise player. His value will drop considerably once his contract becomes expiring this summer.

Brian Scalabrine, Warriors downplay Klay Thompson trade rumor that Scalabrine amplified

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 25:  Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors fakes out Evan Turner #11 of the Boston Celtics at ORACLE Arena on January 25, 2015 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
18 Comments

The Warriors might have one too many primary scorers with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. They’re also middling defensively and poor on the glass. The Collective Bargaining Agreement looms as a threat to their roster.

Could Golden State flip a scorer for help elsewhere and greater salary-cap flexibility?

Brian Scalabrine, via SiriusXM NBA Radio

This weekend, I heard Klay Thompson might be available.

I heard that rumor going around, and it was specifically to a team that wears green.

I’m not making this up. I think it has been written.

Scalabrine speculated a deal could involve the Celtics trading Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley to the Warriors and a Nets pick to a third team, which would sent a rim protect to Golden State.

That makes a reasonable amount of sense.

Crowder and Bradley are adept at doing the little things a team like the Warriors needs done. Golden State could also use a rim protector whose value is commensurate with a Brooklyn pick – say, for example, Nerlens Noel. (Though reported potential CBA changes with Noel’s cap hold could make maxing out Curry and Durant even more difficult.)

Boston would get its long-coveted star. Pooling assets works for the Celtics, because they’re so rich with players, picks and cap flexibility.

The biggest problem: This rumor isn’t grounded in reality.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Scalabrine himself:

Scalabrine also directed followers to his source – the type of content-farm website that generates hits through sensationalized and downright false rumors, sports and otherwise. The site immediately launched multiple virusy pop-ups.

There’s a reason nobody who thoughtfully covers the NBA noticed this “rumor” until Scalabrine brought it up. The original source should’ve been ignored.

No, we can move on from this as something Boston or Golden State is actually discussing. But as a trade idea? Yeah, it’s somewhat interesting.