There’s a long list of reasons the Pelicans have started the season 1-11, and at the top of it is they have the very worst defense in all the land. Which if you have Anthony Davis protecting the rim speaks to some serious issues.
But another one is a lack of shot creation. Jrue Holiday is not 100 percent healthy, and that’s not always been his strongest suit anyway. The preseason injury to Tyreke Evans was a big setback on this front — which is why what Alvin Gentry said on Friday. Via Brett Dawson of the New Orleans Advocate:
Gentry also said that he expects Davis and Omer Asik to be healthy and ready to go against the Spurs this week.
The Pelicans need this, even if Evans is not 100 percent yet. His ability to get his own shot and opening things up for others — including Davis — is huge.
With this horrific a start, Evan’s return will not be near enough to pull the Pelicans back up to being a playoff team this season. However, it can begin to make them dangerous and respectable again.
Then next summer GM Dell Demps and the Pelicans front office have a lot of work to do to put a better team around Davis.
You can be sure that as we move through this season another of these reports will come up:
That Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook don’t like each other.
For the seemingly millionth time, Durant scoffed at the idea that there is any rift between the former NBA and the fearless scorer that Russell Westbrook has become. KD did so in a fantastic Q&A with Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman, and here’s what he said about people who say he and Westbrook don’t get along.
How can you tell? That’s my whole question. What are you basing that off of? Because he shoots more than I do one game? That don’t make no sense. We don’t like each other because he shot more? That don’t make no sense. And it’s really disrespectful to me or to us because you think I’m that selfish of a person. I don’t like this guy because he shoots more than me? That’s disrespectful to me. Because if I’m a friend, I’m genuine. I’m there. No matter what. Good days, bad days, more shots. I’m a real friend. If I like somebody, I like them. I may not agree with everything they do on the court. That’s a part of it. But don’t say we both changing as men when your questions are changing. Don’t come to me and ask what’s going on with Russell and expect me to be alright with it.
Durant said he and Westbrook always had a relationship based on hard work and mutual respect — they both would show up hours before practice and work out, if not together than side-by-side. There was an understanding.
But there was also a moment when their relationship deepened, KD said.
Yeah, I remember when I had some problems with my family, (Kendrick Perkins
) and him were the guys I’d call and just vent to and talk to. I say this because me and my family are great now. We’re in a good spot. But there’s times where this life is real. We make a lot of money to take care of our family, but that doesn’t mask all our problems. It may mask some, but it doesn’t take them away. I was having problems with my family and I needed someone I could relate to and Russell and Perk were there. They were guys I leaned on. They told me to just keep my head up, words of encouragement. Me and Russ had talked about that stuff, but it wasn’t as in depth. Then when I was vulnerable to him, it was like, yeah, this is someone I can lean on. It showed me a different side of him. Since then, we’ve been really tight. There’s times where we go at it. There’s times I don’t like what he’s doing out on the court, there’s times where he hates what I’m doing out on the court. There’s times where it’s Russ, you gotta control your attitude or KD, you gotta stop, you gotta speak up, whatever. There’s times we cuss each other out, but that’s a part of being brothers. Because I know if I need something, he’ll be there and if I need to talk to someone outside of basketball, he’ll be there. It’s a real brotherhood type relationship. We’re like family.
One of Metta World Peace‘s best features — and one that gets him into occasional trouble — is that he’s open and does not hold back. “Filter” is not a word often used with him.
He has been especially open — and brave — in discussing his challenges with mental illness. He has sacrificed to bring attention to the issue. And he’s not stopping now.
The Laker forward went on the Free Association podcast at Sportsnet and talked openly about how the famed “Malice at the Palace” brawl sent him into a depression, plus he discussed the mistakes of his early years in the league.
“It took me awhile [to recover], man. When I had the brawl I went into a real depression. I had been in really good shape. I was an all-star the year prior, and I probably had more all-star years ahead of me in the East. I was 245-250 lbs and feeling good. After the brawl I got up to 275 lbs—quickly. I was ready to retire….
When I returned the following year [after the brawl] in Indiana I was causing problems in the locker room, and eventually I requested a trade. So Larry traded me to the Kings. When I got to Sacramento I told Rick Adleman, “Look I don’t think I can give you anything.” He said “Ron, we’re going to go as far as you can take us.” I immediately went to the media and told them “We’re going to make the playoffs.” Everybody laughed. We were in last place. But we made it to the playoffs, and almost beat the Spurs that year. Rick Adleman changed my life. But it took awhile. I was still destructive and unstable. But I was getting better and better.
We all look back at our youth and cringe a little. Or more than a little. But the errors of my 20s were not broadcast to the world and dissected by millions of people who don’t know me. World Peace lived in a different world.
Credit to World Peace for recognizing his past, and making all of this a topic that can be discussed as a learning opportunity, not just a black-eye for the league.
This much we know: Kobe Bryant will suit up and play Friday night when the Lakers face the Toronto Raptors. The team confirmed this at their morning shootaround.
But thinking past today with Kobe is not wise — he’s trying to enjoy this season and live in the moment. Because unless something changes, this will be his final season.
That includes the occasionally floated idea of Bryant playing a season in Italy or China after walking away from the NBA, a chance to spread his brand overseas. Kobe told Marc Stein of ESPN not to expect an overseas encore.
What does seem clear, though, is that the oft-floated idea of Kobe playing in, say, Italy for a season after leaving the NBA is not in his thinking at the moment. In a brief chat after his recent Dallas visit, Bryant told me that, at this point, he doesn’t have plans to play abroad when he finally sheds the purple and gold, be it after this season or beyond.
While Nike might love the idea of a season overseas, and it might be good for his brand, it is not good for Kobe. Probably not his body. More importantly, for a person incredibly dedicated to his family and his young daughters, the idea of either being away from them for a full season, or uprooting the family for a year, are unappealing.
If you’re a fan of the game of basketball, you should try to savor the good moments with Bryant this season, celebrate one of the all-time great careers, and then applaud him as he walks out the door. My most fervent hope is at the end of the season he can still walk out that door and leave on his own terms.
If you want to play connect the dots between Kings’ owner Vivek Ranadive and his reported interest in John Calipari, you can do it. Ranadive wants to make a splash when his team enters a new arena in downtown Sacramento next season; the Kings’ coaching/front office situations have had bumps in the road; his star player DeMarcus Cousins played for Calipari at Kentucky (as did the just-drafted Willie Cauley-Stein); heck, Ranadive even brought Drake (someone else with ties to Calipari) through the Kings’ locker room recently. Reports have circulated that Ranadive will make a run at Calipari next summer.
Don’t bet on it happening.
A league source with knowledge of the situation insists to ProBasketballTalk there is no validity to the claims the Kings will make a huge offer to Calipari next summer.
Whether Calipari wants to leave Kentucky is another question entirely. He may be happy just to leverage the rumors into another raise, then stay where he is king.
As for the Kings, Calipari is not someone the organization has discussed. Remember that both coach George Karl and GM Vlade Divac were hired in part because they brought business interests to the table — there were bumps in ticket sales when both were hired. Karl plays the kind of entertaining, up-tempo style that helps sell tickets (and that Ranadive wants to see). Vlade Divac is the defacto GM and a Kings’ legend as a player. Ranadive saw them as guys who could help move this team into the new building next fall.
But ultimately wins sell tickets, which is where the 4-9 Kings have struggled this season. Part of that is Cousins missing five games (four to injury, one to suspension). The team doesn’t win without him. A bigger part of the slow start is that the defense has struggled. The Kings entered the season thinking playoffs and now have a hole to dig out of to get there. If they miss the postseason again changes are not out of the question, and Ranadive can be unpredictable.
Just don’t bet on any change being a run at Calipari.