The Detroit Pistons have lost seven of their last nine games and with that have slid down the standings — if the playoffs started today, they’d be able to book fishing charters out of the Bahamas because they’d have the free time. In those last nine games, they have been outscored by 11.8 points per 100 possessions, worst in the NBA. Their offense has been anemic in this stretch, scoring less than a point per possession, while the defense that carried them early has been a mess and bottom five.
What has gone wrong? Stan Van Gundy — the coach and GM — is struggling to figure that out. But he’s not at the point he’s ready to make a trade to shake things up, he told Rod Beard of the Detroit News.
“I’m focused on getting this group to play better and to try to figure this out; my focus is not on changing everything. I’ve seen this group win; I know this group can win. I know this group can be good; I know this group should be better than it is. I’m approaching it as a coaching issue. I’ve got a team that is underachieving where they should be, from a coaching standpoint. That’s how my thought process is right now: How do we get this team playing better, bringing more consistent energy?”
The Pistons have time to turn things around — they are just two games out of the playoffs currently. Only four games separate the Hornets as the four seed from the Pistons and Magic, who are tied as 11/12 seeds. But, with that many teams in the mix, the Pistons need a sense of urgency and Van Gundy knows that.
“We’re in jeopardy right now – that’s certainly not out of it by any means, but every loss puts you in more jeopardy, especially when you’re losing at home like we are. There’s no question that you have to understand that. You can’t run from the fact that all those losses are putting you in jeopardy.”
Van Gundy changed the starting lineup (benching Tobias Harris and starting John Leuer), but with limited success. Is it time for a Pistons trade to shake things up? With Reggie Jackson struggling since his return, are there point guards out there who could interest the Pistons? Another stretch four? Just some depth?
LeBron James is compared to Michael Jordan not because they have similar styles, but because at a certain point the games great players can only be measured against one another — and Michael Jordan is the ultimate bar. He is the GOAT (at least for most people, you can argue it if you want). LeBron wants to be on that tier.
But LeBron’s and MJ’s games are not the same. LeBron was asked about similarities in their styles at age 32, via Cavs.com:
“No. He was much more of a scorer, at that point did a lot of post work, but our games are just different. His body is different, my body is different than his. You recognize the dominance in someone at that age, but there’s no similarities in our game at all.”
What about the fadeaways?
“Our shots are different. He had much more lift in his fadeaway than mine. That was definitely a go-to move of his, but our games are completely different.”
LeBron is correct. Jordan had a more consistent jump shot from an early age and used that as a weapon, plus his footwork made him dangerous in the post much earlier. LeBron is more athletic and can bully his way to the rim against anyone, then uses that insane first step and strength to open up the other areas of his game (like his jumper). MJ was the better scorer, LeBron the more gifted and natural passer.
But game recognize game. These are two of the best the NBA has ever seen.
What have you got to do for the next 16 minutes that’s better than watching the best NBA bloopers of 2016?
This has Russell Westbrook dancing and blowing dunks. There is plenty of mascot action. There are more missed dunks. There are airballs. There are guys getting dropped on crossovers. There is just a lot you need to watch.
R.J. Hunter was a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics in 2015, and he went on to play in 35 games for them, but during training camp this year Boston decided to move on and waived him the former Georgia Tech shooting guard. The Chicago Bulls picked him up on a non-guaranteed minimum contract.
Thursday, the Bulls waived him. He played in just three games for them this season as a reserve shooting guard.
For Hunter, who played a lot of last season with the Maine Red Claws, it is likely back to the D-League.
The Bulls made the move now to save some money, reports Bobby Marks of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
In his new book “Furious George,” long-time NBA coach George Karl has said that Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony were burdened by the lack of a father at home. That the NBA has a steroid problem. That Michael Jordan approved trading Scottie Pippen for Shawn Kemp. That Kings owner Vivek Ranadive was an overachieving immigrant who trusts his instincts even when they are bad. That Damian Lillard is holding the Trail Blazers back.
The reaction has been swift, from Martin and other former players to Terry Stotts (Lillard’s coach). Karl has been called the most egotistical coach of his generation, slammed as out of touch, and has certainly burned any bridges back to coaching in the NBA (not that there were any bridges like that still standing after his time in Sacramento).
Somehow Karl is surprised by that reaction, he told ESPN’s Mike and Mike radio show (as transcribed by The Sporting News).
“The backlash was interesting,” Karl said Thursday on “Mike & Mike.”
When asked whether he was surprised by the reactions, he said, “yeah.”
Karl said he has not reached out Martin, Anthony, or anyone else in the book yet, but that he will, and that some of what was in the book was taken out of context in excerpts.
“I said it poorly, and I’m sorry that I said it poorly, and I’m sorry for the reaction,” Karl said about the father excerpt. “I know Kenyon; the one thing I love about Kenyon Martin is that he’s a good father.
“Sometimes I think when you take excerpts out of the book, it becomes not exactly what I said.”
We will see if players choose to forgive him. That’s a personal decision.
But Karl will have to live with the backlash, whatever he thinks of it. Hopefully, he sells a lot of books, and that makes him happy.