Kurt Helin

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls - Game Five

Rumor: Derrick Rose’s frustration with Jimmy Butler caused him to play passively in Game 6

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In the first quarter of a must-win Game 6 for the Bulls last week, Derrick Rose came out attacking and had 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, and the Bulls were in it down by two. After the first quarter, Rose had 4 points on 2-of-7 shooting, with three assists and he was -18.

What changed? The Cavaliers defense? Just the ebbs and flows of a tough series?

Or, was Rose acting out passive-aggressively because Jimmy Buttler was demanding he rock? That’s what is being reported by Dan Bernstein of CBS Chicago.

Rose was never asked directly why he disappeared when his team needed him most, but sources tell 670 The Score that a common NBA problem affected the Bulls at the worst possible time – two alpha dogs and only one basketball.

It looked strange when wing Jimmy Butler kept flashing to Rose’s side of the floor, calling for the ball, as the Bulls’ offense was drying up. Rose was all too happy to oblige instead of waving Butler off and taking charge, either resetting the called play or taking his man – often the undrafted Matthew Dellavedova – hard to the rim for at least a likely foul.

Sources describe a passive-aggressive reaction from Rose that was the culmination of tensions building in recent weeks with Butler’s emergence as a primary scorer.

I’m taking this report with a lot of salt — I don’t buy it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m willing to bet someone with an agenda was selling this spin to reporters, just not sure I believe it. Or at least believe that it was that big an impact.

First, the emergence of Butler is something that had been going on all season, not just during this series. Why did Rose decide to act out at the team’s most critical juncture of the season? Just to make a point at the worst time?

Second, this doesn’t fit with the personality of Rose — the man is a competitor. He fought and pushed too hard and too long to get back on the court to throw a series away because he was suddenly jealous.

Finally, Rose was inconsistent all series and all season. Butler was growing in confidence and aggressiveness all series and all season. Not sure this all doesn’t fit into that pattern.

What is clear is that whoever is the next coach of the Bulls — Fred Hoiberg or Alvin Gentry or even still Tom Thibodeau — they have to find a better way to fit the pieces together in this offense. Not just Rose and Butler, but also Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott and the rest. The Bulls were too conventional and too defendable, which was less about Butler or Rose and more about the system that made things easier for Cleveland.

PBT Extra: Despite collapse, Clippers will not blow up roster this summer

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Seven
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To say the Clippers’ collapse against the Rockets is the most painful on-the-court moment in franchise history, you’re really saying something. But for Los Angeles, the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been and their failures hurt commensurately.

That said, don’t expect big changes this summer in Los Angeles. Mostly because they can’t. They don’t have the salary cap flexibility.

Jenna Corrado and I discuss this in our latest PBT Extra. The Clippers will offer a max deal to DeAndre Jordan, but no matter what he chooses they have the mid-level exception and then basically minimum deals to offer. It’s hard to build the much-needed depth on that roster with so little money to offer.

Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge finally has expected thumb surgery, out eight weeks

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three
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Back in late January, LaMarcus Aldridge injured his thumb and needed surgery, something that would sideline him at least eight weeks. Aldridge considered his thumb pain, considered where the Trail Blazers were (they were a dark horse title contender until Wesley Matthews tore his Achilles) and decided to play through it.

Now that the Blazers’ season was over (they were eliminated in the first round by Memphis) it was time for the surgery, which Aldridge had Monday, the team announced. From the official press release:

Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge underwent successful surgery today to repair the injured radial collateral ligament of his left thumb. Dr. Thomas J. Graham performed the procedure at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

Aldridge is expected to be out eight weeks, which would have him back in time for training camp.

This is in no way going to slow the free agent recruitment of Aldridge.

He is one of the handful of best power forwards in the game and will get a max offer from Portland, but can also expect calls from the Spurs, Mavericks, Knicks, Lakers and others. There are rumors he might consider a return to his native Texas — if Gregg Popovich calls and says, “How would you like to play for me, next to Kawhi Leonard and contend for four years?” you have to listen.

Does Aldridge want to go down as one of the great Blazers of all time, someone loyal to the franchise, or does he think his best shot at a ring is elsewhere? The only thing we know for sure is that this surgery will not impact that decision.

Clippers can’t afford to lose DeAndre Jordan in free agency, but does he want to stay?

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Seven
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DeAndre Jordan should thank Doc Rivers for the fact he will have many suitors this summer.

Jordan, an unrestricted free agent, has blossomed under Rivers, who took the effort to build up the player Vinny Del Negro regularly tore down. Offensively he has Jordan playing to his strengths — finishing with authority at the rim, shooting 71 percent on his way to 11.5 points per game. Defensively Rivers has pumped Jordan up to a guy who led the league in rebounding and finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting.

That skills set is going to attract the Dallas Mavericks and others to come after Jordan this summer — but the Clippers can’t afford to lose him and will end up offering a max five-year, $108 million deal to keep him, reports Arash Markazi at ESPN.

Here’s what Doc Rivers told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

“You can’t take anything for granted, but DJ loves being a Clipper,” Rivers told Yahoo. “DJ loves being here. We have an amazing relationship.”

The question is will a max deal be enough? Probably. But would Jordan be willing to take one year and roughly $20 million less guaranteed to not be the third fiddle behind Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in Los Angeles? To have a larger role in another offense? Understandably after Sunday’s loss and playoff elimination Jordan wasn’t thinking about the summer, here is what he told ESPN’s Markazi.

“I’ve been here for seven years so this is what I’m used to,” Jordan said. “But I’m not thinking about that, man. It’s still so fresh [Sunday night]. It’s tough.”

For the Clippers, the math is simple — they have to keep Jordan.

If he walks and comes off the Clippers’ books Los Angeles is still within about $1 million of the estimated $67 million salary cap and would have only mid-level exception money to find a replacement. That kind of money got them Spencer Hawes last season — a guy who barely got off the bench in Game 7 Sunday.

The Clippers can’t come close to replacing Jordan if he leaves, so they have to keep him.

Getting lobs from Chris Paul, playing with his friend Griffin, living in Los Angeles, playing on a contender, and $108 million are very good reasons to stay. The only question is will all that be enough.

Probably. But Jordan is going to look around at his options first.

 

 

Free agent big man Kevin Seraphin wants to start somewhere

Washington Wizards v Charlotte Hornets
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Kevin Seraphin finally got a chance to play key minutes for the Washington Wizards in Game 7 against Hawks — only because Marcin Gortat had food poisoning.

Which sums up where the fifth-year big man has been for a while. He’s been stuck behind the big-man duo of Marcin Gortat and Nene, plus the Wizards have plenty of size up front (Kris Humphries, Drew Gooden, DeJuan Blair). Seraphin, undersized for a center at 6’9″, and his back-to-the-basket game got 15 minutes a night. His game took small steps forward this season, but never really fit with the attacking John Wall/Ramon Sessions guard tandem.

What Seraphin wants to do is start — which would mean leaving the Wizards this summer. Here is what he told J.Michael of CSNWashington.com.

“I definitely want a chance to be a starter,” Seraphin, who matched his career high with 79 regular-season appearances but didn’t start a game for the 46-win Wizards, told CSNwashington.com. “I definitely want to be somewhere I have a chance to be a starter.”

 

“If I really want to learn — it’s easy to say, ‘Yeah, stay on the bench’ — but in basketball or any sport it’s best to be on the court,” said Seraphin, who averaged 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per game and came into camp at about 20 pounds lighter at 270. “The first John Wall I saw in my life, remember that was the game in Philly the first game, he wasn’t the same John as right now. It’s because he played all those years and everything. He learned. He became a better player. I remember the John who used to run, get charges all the time. Now he controls the game better. He became an All-Star because he had the talent, he had the opportunity and everything. That’s basically what I want. I want to play. I really want to play and have a chance to prove what I can do.”

He’s not going to be starting for Washington, Gortat signed a five-year, $60 million deal last summer. Gortat is entrenched.

There likely will be teams willing to pitch Seraphin more minutes and the chance to start, but he’s going to have to earn that spot. His skill set will attract teams, although many may be looking for a backup. He did better this season addressing weaknesses such as not fouling, and he’s passing better. But there are limits to his game — nearly 50 percent of his shots come within eight feet of the rim, and while he can step out a little along the baselines he’s not exactly a floor spacer.

The teams likely to give him an opportunity for the minutes and chance to start are ones that are not very good — certainly not as good as a Wizards team that made the second round. That doesn’t seem to be the big issue, what he wants is a chance, one he’s not going to get in Washington. Wherever he lands he’ll get more than the $3.9 million he made this season.