League sources say the Chicago Bulls have been checking on interest in one of their three bigs on the front line: Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, and even at one point Pau Gasol. They are looking to get a young talent back, doesn’t matter whether it’s a defensive wing or a genuine stretch four. All of this is being motivated or prompted by the emergence of rookie big man Bobby Portis, who is demonstrating he is ready to take on a role now.
Whether or not the Bulls are serious about making a trade, trying to find the value of players on the market is part of any GM’s job. Teams attempt to judge the value of guys they have no intention of moving all the time, it’s part of due diligence. Despite what Bucher says Bulls management believes, that team is not a title contender — but if they can get closer with a trade, they need to consider it.
As for the three players mentioned, only one is likely to get moved — Gibson. Noah has Tom Thibodeau miles on his 30-year-old legs and is not only battling to stay healthy, but also he is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Meaning teams will be hesitant to give much up for a guy that may not be able to retain. The same is true of Gasol, who will opt out of his contract this summer to chase a bigger payday. A team that trades for those guys would have Bird rights on them but very well could lose them in free agency.
Gibson is the exception. He’s under contract for a reasonable $8.9 million next season, and he can bring rim protection, rebounds, and some efficient scoring. A lot of teams trying to move up to contender status — or just ensure they make the playoffs — could use what he brings.
That said, this is all very preliminary. Don’t expect a move until closer to the deadline.
DeAndre Jordan again challenges Wilt Chamberlain’s field goal percentage record
Last season, DeAndre Jordan shot 71 percent from the field, the second-highest field goal percentage ever for a regular season (350 shot minimum), trailing only the legendary Wilt Chamberlain’s 72.7 percent in 1973.
He’s at it again.
Jordan is currently shooting 71.5 percent from the floor this season, which has slipped a little from 73 percent a couple of weeks ago. Which is to say, Jordan is again in the hunt for an impressive record.
The secret to Jordan’s success is simple — the man stays in his lane. This season 88.2 percent of his shots have come in the restricted area, where he shoots 77.1 percent. To be more clear, 53.1 percent of his shot attempts are dunks. He’s finishing lobs from Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and he’s using his athleticism to make sure his shots are right at the rim even in post ups. He doesn’t have the need to show off his midrange game (which he doesn’t have).
Jordan also is having his best defensive season — Doc Rivers has touted him for Defensive Player of the Year in the past, but it wasn’t warranted (he took plays off and the Clips rebounding when he sat was almost as good as when he played). This season Doc would be right, Jordan has been improved as an off-ball defender and paint protector in the Clippers new defensive system. As an illustration, using ESPN’s real plus/minus defensive numbers (an advanced adjusted +/- stat measuring a players’ impact on the court adjusting for variables such as teammates and who the player goes against), Jordan is second in the NBA this season (to Tim Duncan) in defensive impact. He was 37th a year ago, but his impact on the Clippers defense is much greater this season.
All of which is to say, Jordan is earning that massive new contract that created all the drama this summer. Now we’ll see if he can catch Wilt.
Five Takeaways from NBA Tuesday: LeBron dunk forces OT in Cavs/Mavs thriller
If you’re like me, you stopped your binge watching of Making a Murderer to flip on NBA games Tuesday. If you’re not like me and just kept right on watching the Avery family, then here is what you need to know from a Tuesday around the Association.
That led to an overtime where eventually the Cavaliers went on a 10-2 run, but it was LeBron’s hesitation after a Deron Williams flop, and then a kick-out to a very deep Kyrie Irving, that put the dagger in Dallas.
2) Carmelo Anthony sprains ankle, could miss time. It was a fluke play not long before halftime. Anthony was running back upcourt, watching the play behind him, and crashed into a referee, stepping on the ref’s foot. ‘Melo rolled his ankle.
Anthony had his ankle retaped and tried to start the second half, but played 19 seconds and came out. The good news is the X-rays were negative, and he’s not going to miss much time. However, don’t be surprised if Anthony sits out Wednesday against the Nets.
‘Melo’s ankle almost stole the headline from the real story: The Knicks are a .500 team at 20-20 after beating Boston (which has struggled since the first of the year). Before the season it would have seemed impossible that the Knicks would be playing this well, or that .500 would still be on the outside looking in at the playoffs in the East, but here we are. Knicks fans can thank the youngsters for this win: Jerian Grant had nine points and six assists in the fourth quarter; Kristaps Porzingis had 16 points and took one three from a step off the Knicks logo at center court.
3) Derrick Rose leaves the game due to tendonitis, says he’s not going to miss time (but we’ll see). The Chicago Bulls have lost three straight games now (falling to the Bucks Tuesday 106-101), their defense has gone on hiatus, and those are not their biggest worries anymore — Derrick Rose had to come out of the game in the second half with what he called “jumpers’ knee.” Rose wasn’t worried that this is serious, but he just came back after three missed games (hamstring) and now this. Don’t be shocked if he sits out a game or three.
The Bulls actually have been better this season with Rose off the court, mostly because their defense improves. Plus they are used to playing without him (the offense is very close to the same scoring rate with him on or off the court). Still, Chicago is going to struggle to find its identity if it can’t just get a stretch of games with settled rotations with everyone healthy.
4) Kobe Bryant leaves Lakers’ game with a sore Achilles. Speaking of superstars whose bodies will not let them stay on the court, Kobe had to leave the Lakers’ eventual win over the Anthony Davis-less Pelicans because of a sore Achilles. Considering his previous injury there, the Lakers rightfully are going to be cautious. Kobe is listed as questionable for Thursday’s game at Golden State.
I watched the second half of this game and here are my two quick takeaways:
1) Byron Scott, for the love of the game, keep D'Angelo Russell in at the end of the fourth quarter. He played well, you can start to see his development of late, he is mentally starting to figure out how to play at the NBA level and work off pick-and-rolls — why are you sitting him? You reward his good play with getting to watch the end of the game from the bench? Interesting player development choice.
2) The final two minutes of this game were just sloppy and ugly. These are two bad teams playing matador defense basketball.
5) A power outage leads to 20-minute delay during Suns at Pacers. This was the best defense Phoenix played all night. A power outage throughout downtown Indianapolis turned off the lights at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and the game had to be delayed with 4:32 left in the second quarter and the Pacers up by two. The stoppage was about 20-25 minutes.
Indiana went on a 14-3 run not long after the lights came back up. The Pacers went on to win 116-97.
Kevin Durant helps Thunder hold off Timberwolves, 101-96
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder were letting another big fourth-quarter lead start to slip away, and precocious Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Zach LaVine was starting to look a little too much like Damian Lillard for Kevin Durant‘s liking.
So the Thunder star took matters into his own hands to help the Thunder avoid what would have been a second straight ugly collapse.
Durant shrugged off a slow start to score 12 straight points in the final three minutes and finished with 30 points in a 101-96 victory over the Timberwolves on Tuesday night.
“It felt like I need to get it going in the first three quarters,” said Durant, who was 7 for 21 through three periods. “I can’t just come out and try to save the game and make shots in the fourth. I’ve got to get it going earlier. I’ve got to make shots, man. That’s what it’s about.”
Russell Westbrook added 22 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds to help the Thunder hold off a late charge from the struggling Wolves, one game after giving up a big lead to the Portland Trail Blazers. The Thunder made 9 of 22 3-pointers to cruise to their seventh win in nine games.
LaVine broke out of a miserable slump with 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Shabazz Muhammad scored 20 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost seven straight games and 11 of their last 12.
“OKC’s a really good team and got off to a really quick start on us, but everyone played well tonight,” Muhammad said.
The Thunder came into the game ornery after giving up five 3-pointers to Portland’s Lillard in the final three minutes of a 115-110 loss on Sunday night.
Westbrook made 8 of 15 shots and forced Wiggins to expend much of his energy guarding the robo-guard. Enes Kanter scored 18 points off the bench and only missed two of his 10 shots.
The Thunder led 15-2 before the first quarter was half over and were up 78-60 in the third quarter before they started carelessly jacking up 3s to give the Wolves an opening.
LaVine converted a three-point play and hit a 3 from the wing before Nemanja Bjelica hit another 3 to help the Wolves cut the deficit to three points with 3:15 to play.
But Durant hit four straight jumpers and four free throws for Oklahoma City to avoid another collapse.
“I think the one thing about him is he always stays engaged,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “He’s got a lot of confidence, he’s put a lot of time in and he’s worked really hard so in those moments he’s prepared to step up regardless of what’s happened with the shot before.”
Thunder: Donovan picked up his first career technical foul while arguing for a goaltending call in the first quarter.
Timberwolves: C Nikola Pekovic sat out to rest after playing his first three games of the season in his return from Achilles surgery. He is expected to play on Wednesday in Houston while starter Kevin Garnett rests on the second night of a back-to-back. … LaVine made a crazy layup after getting hammered by Durant with 3:25 to play, but a review showed the ball hit the top of the backboard first so it was waved off.
Harden scores 25 to lead Rockets past Grizzlies, 107-91
The Rockets connected on 18 of 35 from outside the arc compared to only 7 of 18 for Memphis. Houston dominated the boards 42-31, including 18 from the offensive glass. That led to a 28-12 advantage in second-chance points.
Memphis, which trailed by as many as 13 in the first half, opened the second half with a 13-2 rally to erase a 9-point halftime deficit.
The Grizzlies couldn’t maintain the advantage as the Rockets controlled the boards, especially the offensive glass. By the end of the third, Houston was outrebounding Memphis 32-21, including 15 offensive rebounds leading to 23 second-chance points through three quarters.
Carter tied the game at 83 on a 3-point play with 7:35 remaining. But the Memphis offense stalled as Jones and Howard carried the Rockets offense.
Houston used 3-point shooting in the first half to take a 51-44 lead into intermission. Thornton gave the Rockets a boost off the bench, hitting three of four shots, including a pair from outside the arc. Thornton had 11 in the half, while Harden and Ariza scored 10 each.
Howard was already on the verge of his double-double with eight points and eight rebounds.
Gasol and Lee scored 10 each in the half for Memphis. Lee’s included a 3-pointer as the horn sounded to cut the Rockets lead to single digits at the break.
Rockets: Howard recorded his 17th double-double of the season. .Houston had lost the first two games in the season series. .Rockets G Ty Lawson did not play, serving the last game of a three-game suspension by the league. .Howard took only 13 shots in the first two games between the two teams this season. He took 10 Tuesday night and converted all five of his free throws, including four as the Rockets pulled away.
Grizzlies: Memphis played without starting G Mike Conley, who missed his fourth straight game with sore left Achilles, and F Matt Barnes, who sat out his first with a right thumb injury. .Randolph moved past Larry Bird (8,974) into 50th place on the all-time rebounding list in the third quarter.