Watching the Chicago Bulls lay down for the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6, it became clear:
The Chicago Bulls need a new coach.
It’s time for Tom Thibodeau to move on (likely to New Orleans). It’s not that Thibodeau isn’t a good coach, but this team clearly needs a new voice and a new direction.
Beyond that, whoever comes in will have a lot of roster questions to answer: Just how much can Derrick Rose really give anymore? What about Joakim Noah? Can Tony Snell and Doug McDermott be real contributors on a regular basis? There are many more.
Just getting a new coach is not enough in Chicago.
No team may be better poised to make some moves this summer than the Boston Celtics.
They have roughly 5,932 draft picks to move (that may be a little high, but they have a lot). They have some interesting young players they can move. They have the cap space to take on salaries. Plus they have the tradition of the Boston Celtics (although tradition doesn’t sell players like it used to).
That doesn’t mean that Kevin Love, or LaMarcus Aldridge paired with Wesley Matthews, or DeMarcus Cousins, are coming to Bean Town — those are both long shots at best — but Boston will be active in shaping the roster this summer.
Don’t take my word for it, look at what Celtics’ assistant general manager Mike Zarren told the Boston Herald.
“We’ve got a lot of opportunities to do something significant this summer,” said Zarren. “There’s going to be a lot of good free agents. We could move up in the draft. We’ve got assets of every kind that other teams like.
“It’s too early to really know what’s going to happen — the lottery hasn’t even happened yet — but we’ll be very, very active in all phases of front office work this summer.”
This summer, the dynamics are unique. Every team knows that the salary cap is going to spike by more than $20 million after this season, and another $17 million or more the following season (thank you new national television deal). That means teams will be willing to make moves and take on contracts knowing that in a year what looked like a bad contract will be far less of a burden against the cap.
“There’s a lot of teams that are going to be active this summer, so that makes for a more liquid trade market for us,” said Zarren.
What that will translate into in terms of players wearing Celtics’ green next season remains to be seen. Don’t think GM Danny Ainge will make moves for the sake of making moves.
But no team may be better positioned to pounce financially than Boston.
What happened in the fourth quarter of Game 6 between the Clippers and Rockets is not going to be repeated. Sure, the Clippers got tight as their lead dwindled, but Blake Griffin is not going to miss point blank shots like that again. The Clippers are not going to miss good-look threes again. On the other side, the Rockets know Josh Smith hitting step-back threes like his last name is Curry is not sustainable.
But it didn’t need to be sustainable for the Rockets to force a Game 7 —now they have a deciding game on their home court. And the momentum.
Can Doc Rivers get the Clippers mentally turned around? Are Blake Griffin and Chris Paul mentally tough enough for a Game 7 on the road? They beat the Spurs in a Game 7, but can they repeat that outcome?
Or does the Clippers’ curse continue?
For the record, I’m picking the Clippers in a close one.
Expect a Game 7.
The second round series between Atlanta and Washington certainly has not been pretty at times (or even much of the time), but it has been entertaining and fairly even. That said, I expect at home and with John Wall the Wizards will pick up the win Friday night and force a Game 7.
Then they very well may win that.
J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert can be solid complementary role players on a team.
In New York, there wasn’t much to complement (or compliment, for that matter).
But the pair have fit in well with the Cavaliers — a team that was in need of depth and quality role players — and helped Cleveland past Chicago to advance to the conference finals.
After Thursday’s game, Smith took a little dig at the Knicks on Instagram.
Smith was not long for the Knicks after Phil Jackson came to town — there may be no player that is a worse fit for the triangle offense than Smith. It was a question of when he would go, not if. The divorce was not smooth, and clearly J.R. still has a little resentment. There certainly are some club owners in NYC that miss Smith as well.
I’m sure that Jackson is not losing sleep over any of this.