Kurt Helin

New York Knicks v San Antonio Spurs

Phil Jackson says J.R. Smith displayed “delinquent behavior” before trade

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Phil Jackson speaks with a purpose and for effect. He doesn’t say things that will be published without having some motive.

Which is why what he told his old friend Charlie Rosen about the big mid-season trade in New York — which sent J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland for non-guaranteed contracts — was so interesting. Jackson tries to make himself look better, like the adult cleaning up the mess at the children’s table.

It’s about as direct and blunt as you will ever hear someone if a front office speak about a player on the record.

Jackson didn’t hold back talking about Smith and Shumpert in the piece posted on ESPN.

“J.R. had been exhibiting some delinquent behavior and had gotten into the habit of coming late to team meetings, or missing them altogether,” Jackson says. “Also, Shump and Tim [Hardaway Jr.] were regressing, so I decided to meet with them separately and try to find out what, if anything, was bothering them.”

Smith was first on the list. “We talked about his statement to the press that our shooting guard depth was going to be the team’s asset, but so far it hadn’t worked out that way,” Jackson says. “He was supposed to carry the scoring load for the second unit and he wasn’t doing the job. I also said that because of his unacceptable behavior, he had two strikes against him with this team. He didn’t really respond. He’s a very sensitive guy, with his big doe eyes. He looked like he was going to tear up. But he finally responded that he was going through some issues with his gal.”

Shumpert was next in line. “After he suffered a hip injury in Dallas, his game went rapidly downhill. Did he have any other issues to explain his decline? He said, ‘No. I don’t know what has gone wrong with my game.’ As with J. R., nothing got resolved.”

Jackson goes on to say coach Derek Fisher thought Smith walked around like there was a dark cloud over his head, and that Shumpert’s ego was a problem in the locker room.

Whether you want to say it was the negative impacts on their game in New York — Smith was known to enjoy the New York nightlife — or the positive ones of LeBron James in Cleveland, both Shumpert and Smith played a lot better after the move.

Smith saw more minutes, and his true shooting percentage jumped from a below average 48.7 percent to and above average 56.6 percent (boosted by him shooting 39 percent from three in Cleveland). Smith’s PER jumped from 11.5 to 14.5 (which is still slightly below the league average).

Smith also had some delinquent behavior on the court during the playoffs, which led to him being suspended for the first two games of the NBA Finals. Smith opted out of his contract and is still hanging out there as a free agent, likely about to take a pay cut, although the Cavaliers seem the most likely to retain him.

Shumpert played fewer minutes and took fewer shots in Cleveland, but he saw his true shooting percentage jump up to 50.8 percent. More importantly, his defense was a key part of the grit and grind style the Cavaliers had to evolve towards during the playoffs due to injuries.

The Cavaliers re-signed Shumpert to a four-year, $40 million deal and he is likely the starting two guard for the Cavaliers when next season tips off.

Check out Ray Allen’s 40th birthday cake

BET Presents The Players' Awards - Roaming Show
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That cake is awesome.

Five layers, each with one of the five teams he played on — Connecticut in college, then in the NBA Milwaukee, Seattle, Boston, and finally Miami.

Allen spent his birthday in Las Vegas, where he also was there for the Players’ Awards show.

Last season teams tried to lure Allen back — specifically LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers — he decided to sit it out and stay retired. He gets to play a lot of golf, spend time with his family and live in Miami. It’s hard to imagine him giving that up to come back next season.

Happy birthday Ray.

Report: Emmanuel Mudiay happy to have avoided Knicks triangle in draft

Miami Heat v Denver Nuggets
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The triangle offense (at least as Phil Jackson runs it) does not require a strong, traditional, ball-in-his-hands point guard. Guys who are high IQ players and knock-down shooters can thrive in that role — Steve Kerr, Derek Fisher, etc. — but players like Gary Payton chaffed in the system.

Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay has been one of the breakout stars of Summer League. He’s a pass-first point guard who has shown an ability to get into the lane and then find open players. He’s already got an NBA body and knows how to use that physicality. Most importantly, he plays under control and the game doesn’t move too fast for him — he looks like an NBA veteran out there.

Before the draft there was a lot of talk about Mudiay being Phil Jackson’s choice for the Knicks at the No. 4 pick, then they would plug him into the triangle. Mudiay is happy that is not the case, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Nuggets rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay told confidants after the draft he was, in retrospect, happy the Knicks passed on him at No. 4, as he was unsure he would have been a good fit for the triangle. Despite public comments to the contrary that he felt team president Phil Jackson could “make me a star,’’ Mudiay said he felt he was a better match in a more freewheeling Denver offense, according to sources.

This shouldn’t be a huge shock. Point guards like freedom and the ball in their hands and that is what Denver intentionally gave Mudiay at Summer League.

“The first thing you see is he is a true point guard…” Denver Nuggets Summer League coach Micah Nori told PBT. “Guys are going to love to play with him, they are going to continue to run for him because he is a pass-first point guard…. We’ve put the ball in his hands and given him a lot of freedom, and there’s good reason for that.”

What’s more, with the trade of Ty Lawson to Houston, Denver is going to give Mudiay the ball and a lot of freedom come the regular season, too. That will mean some hard lessons (and plenty of losses) in Denver, but Mudiay will grow quickly from it.

Knicks fans should be happy, however, with what Jackson chose to do in the draft.

Big man Kristaps Porzingis impressed — he looked like he can be just as talented and impactful as Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor in a few years. Porzingis is a project and he needs to put on weight to start, but you can see a smooth, high IQ game. He can score or pass to carve up a defense, plus he has shooting range out to the arc but can play inside as well.

Plus, the Knicks drafted Jerian Grant out of Notre Dame, and he has been one of the great surprises out of Summer League, a fantastic passer and floor general. He can step in this season and play some point for the Knicks in the triangle.

“We really enjoy having his playmaking out there, his vision, his comfort level with handling the basketball,” Knicks head coach Derek Fisher said of Grant’s performance in Las Vegas. “That’s one of the things that really excited us when we drafted him at the number we did (No. 19, a trade with the Wizards) because of that ability. To play the guard in our system, both guards need to be able to make plays, and Jerian gives us a little versatility that way, where he and Langston (Galloway) can play together, he can play with Jose (Calderon), a lot of different combinations we can put out there.”

 

Danilo Gallinari confirms he is in extension talks with Nuggets

Danilo Gallinari
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We knew the Nuggets had interest in trying to extend the contract of scoring forward Danilo Gallinari but was the interest mutual?

Apparently so. At the Italian national team media day, Gallinari confirmed that he and his agent are talking contract extension with the Nuggets, reports Sportando.

Gallinari is finally healthy after some rough times following a botched surgery and is entering the final year of his contract, worth $11.5 million.

Gallinari averaged 12.4 points a game and shot 35.5 percent from three last season. He is a versatile scorer who also has some handles and can get a few boards. He had a PER of 16.4, a little above the league average. He would be someone coach Mike Malone could lean on to provide points on the court (something that may be a challenge for Denver at times).

In theory, the Nuggets could offer up to three years and $40 million, but an option to keep an eye on is a two-year extension, maybe in the financial range he is right now. The advantage to the two-year deal for the Nuggets is that they can trade him right away (that three-year deal means for six months he stays). We know the Nuggets have already explored some trade talks about Gallinari as they look to reshape their roster and franchise. Him not being a free agent after this season makes him a more attractive trade piece.

The issue for Gallinari is to balance the security of what the Nuggets are offering now — he has had injury problems in the past — versus trying to cash in when the salary cap spikes next summer and he can be a free agent. It likely comes down to how many dollars the Nuggets are putting on the table.

Chris Paul on DeAndre Jordan: “He’s like my big little brother. We talk a lot more than people realize”

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers
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By the time the Clippers get to training camp, they are going to be spinning how they all sat around before games last season and sang “Kumbayah.” Problems? What problems.

Chris Paul and a number of other Clippers were at the NBA Players’ Awards — the new awards voted on by the players, broadcast on BET Tuesday at 8 p.m. — and before the ceremony he was asked about the wild off-season with the Clippers and the reported issues he had with DeAndre Jordan.

He did everything but sing Kumbayah. From a video posted by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

“DeAndre, he’s like my big little brother. We talk a lot more than people realize. It doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is we brought in Paul (Pierce), who I’m probably the happiest about because of his championship pedigree, being that voice in our locker room. We brought in Lance (Stephenson), Wes Johnson, brought Austin (Rivers) back, Josh Smith. Big summer for us.”

It was no doubt a big summer for the Clippers and GM Doc Rivers, who made his job as coach a lot easier by adding real depth to the roster.

Paul Pierce was there too and talked about clearing the air for the Clippers at Jordan’s house in Houston.

“I wasn’t there last year with that team, so I kind of sat in and voiced what I thought but I was on the outside looking in,” Pierce said. “I think guys cleared the air if there was any tension, but I think a lot of the media made it more than it was.”

Pierce is coming home to Los Angeles to finish his career, and he answered that question for one of the first of roughly 12 million times he will be asked about it this season.

“It’s a dream come true to be able to come home, finally,” Pierce said. “I grew up a Laker fan but playing on all the Boston Celtic teams . . . there’s no way I could go there — so this was the next best choice. And it’s always been a dream to play in front of my family and friends.”