Author: Kurt Helin

Los Angeles Lakers v Houston Rockets

Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer benched by Lakers; Ronnie Price, Ed Davis start


Lakers coach Byron Scott has been hinting at lineup changes coming for a few days now. Well, Sunday night against the Pelicans Scott broke them out.

Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer will come off the bench. In their place, Ronnie Price and Ed Davis will start, something reporter Mike Trudell tweeted.

Davis for Boozer should have happened already. Davis is shooting 62.4 percent (compared to Boozer’s 49.8 percent) and the Lakers are +9 points per 100 possessions better than their opponents when Davis is on the court, compared to -12.2 per 100 for Boozer. Davis has outplayed Boozer all season.

Lin has admitted struggling in the Lakers offense this season, he prefers to attack off the pick-and-roll and Scott wants more Princeton-style ball and player movement. Lin’s struggles are not new, in fact it was Price who started most of the preseason for the Lakers until he was injured and Lin was pushed into a starting role. Lin is averaging 11.9 points and 4.9 assists a game.

Of course, with the way the Lakers are defending this season — 112.1 points allowed per 100 possessions, worst in the NBA by a couple points — this is almost rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. And the Lakers do not plan to bring in help via trade. There are nights the Lakers offense will click — Kobe Bryant or Nick Young will get hot — and they will win by just outscoring the opponent.

Maybe they can do that more with this lineup.

UPDATE: The change didn’t really matter as the Lakers got the same result, a 104-87 loss to the Pelicans. Davis had 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting and 7 rebounds, Boozer had 12 points on 12 shots off the bench. Ronnie Price was 1-of-4 shooting, Lin was 1-of-5, and neither was impressive.

Warriors’ co-owner apologizes for comments about Mark Jackson

Joe Lacob, Barry Bonds

Warriors’ co-owner Joe Lacob should feel good about the Steve Kerr hire so far. It’s still the honeymoon phase but he has the Warriors on a 12-game winning streak and playing the best defense in the NBA this young season.

But in praising Kerr Wednesday night Lacob took some unnecessary shots at former coach Mark Jackson, saying “he couldn’t get along with anybody else in the organization” and saying that Lacob opened his checkbook and wanted Jackson to bring in better assistant coaches but instead he just brought in his guys.

Lacob has now apologized for those comments, reports Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mark Jackson and what he accomplished as our head coach,” Lacob said. “He did a terrific job. I’ve said that many times over the last several months and in recent days, including at this week’s event. I was asked to draw comparisons earlier this week between building businesses in the tech world and the sports world, and unfortunately, I used some poor judgment. That’s my mistake. I did attempt to reach out to Mark on Friday, and I certainly apologize for comments and any unintended harm. I know that Mark will succeed again in this business.”

Lacob should have apologized. There was no reason to take public shots at Jackson to contrast him with Kerr.

Jackson won 51 games as the Warriors coach last season and he was loved in their locker room — the players were angry he was fired.

They were also professional enough to move past it. And in return Kerr is running smarter sets, getting guys in better positions to play to their strengths, and generally doing a spectacular job raising up a good team to great (something he should have learned in his playing days under Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson).

It’s early, but it looks like Lacob and company made the right call. That doesn’t mean you take a shot at Jackson.

Bulls give Draymond Green space, he drops 31 in Warriors’ win (VIDEO)

Golden State Warriors v Chicago Bulls

Draymond Green is another guy having a career year for Golden State so far — 13.5 points and 7.6 rebounds a game, plus he’s shooting 37.9 percent from three. One a team loaded with firepower on the perimeter (and with a quality big man inside in the form of Andrew Bogut) Green may be the guy who flies under the radar and gets the least defensive attention among the Warriors starting five.

You do that at your own risk.

The Bulls’ gave Green space in a showdown of elite teams Saturday night — so he dropped 31 points on them. Green had 20 shots on the night and 17 of them were uncontested, as tracked by the NBA’s SportsVU cameras (he hit 13 of those). Check out the video above and you can see the room he got. With that the offense was flowing through him as Green’s 94 touches in the game were more than any other Warrior — yes, more than point guard Stephen Curry (78).

Saturday night was the 12th consecutive win for the Warriors, who are simply the best team in the NBA this young season. Green and his fellow Warrior starters were +8 as a unit, mostly faced up against a very strong Bulls’ starting five. Green and the Warriors starters are a ridiculous +27.3 points per 100 possessions so far this season. Mostly because they are sharing the ball, getting put in good spots by Steve Kerr’s system, and trusting that you can’t leave any of them open.

Including Draymond Green.

Report: Knicks realize they likely strikeout with Marc Gasol this summer, will try anyway

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers

Marc Gasol has slimmed down and is having a career year so far, an MVP-like season — 19.8 points a game on 50.4 percent shooting, plus is pulling down 8.2 rebounds a game. He has a PER of 23.2 and is the rim protector and anchor on the fourth best defense in the NBA. He has been the best center in the game and the Grizzlies are off to a 15-4 start.

He’s doing all that in a contract year — Gasol will be a free agent this summer.

Which means teams are lining up to take a shot at landing him, including the New York Knicks who rightfully think he’d be a perfect big man fit in the triangle offense.

But the Knicks realize that they are likely going to strikeout with this quest, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post (hat tip Matt Moore at Eye on Basketball).

As the Knicks plummet to the bottom of the league, a source told The Post the club doesn’t believe its chances are too good of landing the Grizzlies stud center with their 2015 cap space — not that Knicks president Phil Jackson won’t try like mad….

The Knicks’ lone edge is Gasol is best friends with point guard Jose Calderon, his teammate on Spain’s national team.

While the Knicks, who lost 90-87 to the Cavaliers Thursday night at the Garden, were confident they would land LeBron James entering 2010 free agency, they realize the odds are against them for Gasol. If he leaves Memphis, he likely will choose a title contender, not the woebegone Knicks.

The general sense around the league right now is that Marc Gasol isn’t going anywhere — Gasol is a max player, Grizzlies can and will offer the most money (an extra guaranteed year and larger raises). Money talks. In addition he’s in a city he likes and is comfortable with, plays in a system he both likes and is the focal point of, and he is playing on a team that’s a potential contender (although I think they need a little more shooting and depth).

If he does leave, the most interesting option would be the San Antonio Spurs, who reportedly covet Gasol as a replacement for Tim Duncan should The Big Fundamental decide to retire after this season (a distinct possibility). The Spurs would have the money for a max offer (four years) and the lure of playing in that system for Gregg Popovich would be strong.

Marc’s brother Pau Gasol said that Marc signing with the Knicks was “possible.” They should at least try. We know that the Lakers and just about every other team with cap space this summer are going to make calls to Marc and his agent come July 1 when free agency opens. He will have options and plenty of suitors if he wants to be courted (ala Carmelo Anthony). So far Marc himself has refused to discuss his pending free agency, which always fuels speculation because the internet abhors a vacuum.

But next year expect to see Gasol wearing the same uniform he’s wearing now. It’s all about the money.

Sixers’ Hollis Thompson hits three to send it to overtime, where Philly beats Detroit (VIDEO)

Philadelphia 76ers v Detroit Pistons

Philadelphia may not be the worst team in the NBA.

The Sixers have won two of their last three and Saturday night beat what had been everyone’s second worst team, the Detroit Pistons in what was an ugly game, but the score still counts. The Sixers had that OT chance because Hollis Thompson who hit the corner three that tied the game and sent it to overtime (well, Brandon Jennings had the chance to save it for the Pistons but after dribbling the clock down he put up an airball). In OT the Sixers beat the Pistons 108-101.

The Sixers superior athleticism won the day, led by Michael Carter-Williams with 20 points, 15 assists and 8 rebounds on the night.