Kurt Helin

LeBron James on Cavaliers: : “We give a half-ass effort sometimes”


The Cavaliers have been dramatic of late. They came from nine points back in the fourth quarter to beat the Jazz, eight points back in the fourth to beat the Knicks, and they came from behind to force overtime with the Bucks (a game which Milwaukee won).

The Cavaliers will take the wins, but LeBron James is not happy with the effort. Here is what he said, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I think we’re a good team,” James said. “I think we expect we’re a great team. And we’re not. We have to get better in every facet of the game, and that’s every single facet of the game…

“Records are meant to be broken, but that don’t mean you’re great,” James said, responding to a question about his team nearly matching the 1975-76 Cavs’ 9-1 record for the best start in franchise history. “For us, we have to play [with] a lot more sustainable effort throughout the 48 minutes. And we don’t do that. We give a half-ass effort sometimes and expect that we can just make a run at the end. We’re not good enough to do that right now.”

It’s very tough to get a true read on Cleveland right now. They have the fourth best offense in the NBA and eighth best defense through 10 games, and if you’re looking for the mark of a contender being in the top 10 in both is a great measuring stick. (For the record, the other teams that are in the top 10 in both are Golden State, Miami, San Antonio, and Toronto.) Cleveland’s 8-2 record has it on top of the East.

Yet, the Cavs have been inconsistent. Plus, we have not seen them with two starters yet — Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert.

All of which is to say, they can and should get a lot better as the season wears on. Which is scary for the rest of the league.

Mark Cuban: Right now the East is better than the West

Mark Cuban, Chris Paul

For years in a row, the Western Conference has been better, deeper than the West. The past few years it hasn’t even been close, the West has been far deeper — and deeper with contending talent by a wide margin.

But so far this young season it has been different — as a conference the East is +2 wins, the West -2. In head-to-head matchups this season, the East is ahead 24-22 over the West.

Dallas owner Mark Cuban has noticed, and he’s good with it, he told Tim MacMahon of ESPN (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

Whether this is sustained remains to be seen. It feels like Houston, Memphis, New Orleans and some of the good West teams that have gotten off to slow starts will begin to turn things around. And I’m still not convinced that outside Cleveland the top of the East is near as good as the top four in the West, at least come a playoff series.

But Cuban is right: An improved East would be good for the NBA.

Fred Hoiberg: Derrick Rose’s double vision could last months


Derrick Rose is on the court for the Bulls and averaging 12.6 points per game. However, the lingering impact of the fractured orbital bone in his face that left him with double vision is evident — he is shooting 35.9 percent overall and 5.6 percent from three (you read that right, and he’s taking two threes a game). Rather than words, let’s use a picture to illustrate the problem, here Rose’s shot chart on the season.

Rose shotchart

All of why this news from Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is bad news for Bulls fans (or Derrick Rose fantasy owners), via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

This was news to Rose, but not shocking.

The Bulls’ offense is 25th in the NBA so far this season, and while their shooting as a team is average (16th in NBA in team eFG%) they are bottom five in getting to the free throw line and offensive rebounding percentage. Hoiberg has talked of tweaking the front line rotation, mostly to improve the defense by putting Joakim Noah in for Nikola Mirotic (although I think those two should be the starters). However, what the Bulls really need is better play from their guard spots, which frankly means a lot more Jimmy Butler.

It’s a long season, but the Bulls have a lot of work to do on offense to become a threat to the top teams in the East. Rose playing better will have to be a big part of that.

Report: Dion Waiters wants to play for Sixers next season

Dion Waiters, Will Barton

And you said nobody wanted to play for Philadelphia…

Dion Waiters is a restricted free agent next summer and a Philadelphia native. While all the talk about Thunder players who may want to go home as a free agent has focused on Kevin Durant, Waiters may be the guy to do it according to a report by Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“He wants to come home,” said the source, noting that Waiters is from South Philly. “Plus, he knows that he could be the missing shooting guard they need. And he could possibility get a [very lucrative] contract with the Sixers.”

The source said that Waiters won’t publically admit his desire to play for the Sixers because he’s still under contract with the Thunder….

“He really would like that to come home,” the source said. “He talked about getting a place downtown not too far from the arena so playing at home would be less of a distraction.”

Of course, it didn’t take long for Waiters to deny this.

If I were an agent/someone in Waiters camp and wanted to start early with the effort to jack up his value and get a bigger contract next summer, I would be leaking potential landing spots as well. Which is to say that maybe Waiters would like to play in Philly, but this is all about the money and getting as big a contract offer as he can get next summer.

The Thunder will have the right to match any offer.

Whether the Sixers would want Waiters is another question. Or to phrase it better, would the Sixers pay very much to get Waiters? Philly’s need for improvement in the backcourt is not in question, but is Waiters going to fit with what they are building? Waiters has come off the bench for the Thunder this season and averaged 11 points a game, and while his shot selection should still be in question he is hitting 50 percent from beyond the arc so far this young season, plus he seems more comfortable in the midrange.

The bigger question with Waiters has always been on defense — the Thunder defense is 4.6 points per 100 possessions better with him on the bench so far this young season. Thunder coach Billy Donovan has struggled to find the right fit in the two guard spot, Waiters gives them better offense than the other options, but the defensive lapses are an issue. Do the Sixers want to take that on?


Anthony Davis to return, start vs. Knicks Sunday

Anthony Davis
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Anthony Davis is going to get his turn in the Madison Square Garden spotlight.

After missing two games due to a bruised hip, the Pelicans’ star will return to the court Sunday against the Knicks, something coach Alvin Gentry confirmed to the media pregame.

It will be fun to see him go up against Kristaps Porzingis at points.

While he had a rough start to the season — lacking quality point guards to create shots or get him the ball in good spaces — he has played better of late, and he’s still averaging 24 points and nine rebounds a game. His shooting percentages have slipped — he’s still finishing very well at the rim and has a spot he likes near the top of the key, but he hasn’t hit consistently from other spots on the floor this season. Although that was starting to change.