Tag: Kevin Love

Portland Trail Blazers v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Five

Former Knick, current Grizzly Beno Udrih says Marc Gasol not New York kind of guy


The Knicks and Lakers are big brands in big markets with some big cash to spend this summer on free agents — and both are going big game hunting. They want to land the best players out there on the market.

Marc Gasol is one of those guys. He is arguably the best center in the game today, and he would be a perfect fit as a triangle big because of his passing and midrange game.

But don’t bet on him being a Knick, says former Knick and current Gasol teammate in Memphis Beno Udrih, speaking to the fantastic Jered Zwerling of Bleacher Report.

That same logic should apply to the Lakers.

Remember, Gasol came to the United States and played his high school ball in Memphis — his family moved there after older brother Pau Gasol was drafted by the Hawks then traded to the Grizzlies (for Brevin Knight and Lorenzen Wright, BTW). He has deep ties to Memphis. Plus he is playing for a borderline contender, a team that can and will offer him a longer and richer contract than the Knicks (or Lakers) can. Let’s put it this way, nobody I’ve talked to around the league thinks Gasol is leaving Memphis (San Antonio being the one team that could maybe tempt him slightly).

LaMarcus Aldridge on the other hand

PBT Second-Round Playoff Previews: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls

Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls


Cavaliers: 53-29, second place in Eastern Conference.

Bulls: 50-32, third place in Eastern Conference.


Cavaliers: Swept Boston in four games.

Bulls: Beat Milwaukee in six games.


Cavaliers: Kevin Love underwent surgery this week for a separated shoulder that occurred in Game 4 of the Celtics series. He’s out four to six months. The Cavs will also be without J.R. Smith for the first two games after he was suspended for punching Jae Crowder in the face.

Bulls: None, which feels weird to type. But Joakim Noah has been banged up all year and Nikola Mirotic is coming off a knee injury in Game 3 of the Bucks series, so their play is worth keeping an eye on.


Cavaliers: Scored 107.7 points per 10 possessions (4th in NBA); Allowed 104.1 points per 100 possessions (20th in NBA).

Bulls: Scored 104.7 points per 100 possessions (10th in NBA); Allowed 101.5 points per 100 possessions (11th in NBA).


1. How will the Cavs’ rotation adjust to Love’s absence? Love had an up-and-down season but by the time the playoffs hit, he’d grown into his role with the Cavs. He’s been crucial as a floor-spacing big man and rebounding machine. Without him, the Cavs lose some versatility. They’ll either have to start Tristan Thompson and sacrifice some of their bench production or play LeBron James at power forward, which can tire him out. Which brings us to…

2. Can the Bulls make LeBron work on defense? James has a lot of miles on him, so the Bulls’ best hope is to tire him out. If he plays power forward, they’ll either post up Taj Gibson on him or make him chase Nikola Mirotic around the perimeter.

3. How consistent will Derrick Rose be? Rose was phenomenal Games 1, 3 and 6 of the Bucks series. When he’s on, he looks like every bit the player who won MVP in 2011. He’s no longer taking threes as his first option on any play — he’s looking to attack and make plays more now. If that version of Rose shows up every game against the Cavs, Chicago will be tough to beat.


It’s a coin flip. Losing Love hurts, but the Cavs still have the two best players in the series, including the best player in the world. Like the Spurs, until he’s actually out, I’m not going to be the one to pick against him. Cavs in 7.

Ginobili, Duncan, Popovich dance around questions about Spurs’ future

Utah Jazz vs San Antonio Spurs

As you might expect, it was Gregg Popovich who had the best answer about the future of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and the Spurs.

“People ask me about Tim and Manu and myself for the last five years, what we’re going to do. It’s all psychobabble. I have no clue,” Popovich said. “We’ll probably come back. Paycheck is pretty good (laughter). You think I’m lying?”

The fact is that two key parts of the core of the Spurs could decide enough is enough. Popovich is under contract and is enjoying the idea of transitioning this team to the future, he’ll be back. So will Tony Parker, who is under contract and, even if he’s slipping a little, is still an elite point guard. The Spurs will re-sign Kawhi Leonard.

But Duncan and Ginobili are question marks.

“I’m not making any statements,” Duncan said after the Spurs were eliminated, refusing to play the speculation game.

Which isn’t a surprise. You know when Duncan does retire it will come in the form of a press release that is emailed out to the media. And that’s it. No fanfare if Duncan can help it.

Yet Duncan at age 39 is incredibly productive. He averaged 17.9 points and 11.1 rebounds a game, plus he made key defensive stops. He battled Blake Griffin almost to a standstill. He has plenty of game left; the question is only does he want to keep playing. And he may not know the answer to that question yet.

Ginobili, on the other hand, is seeing his game deteriorate. He also said minutes after a painful loss was not the time to make a decision, but he sounded more like a guy willing to think about stepping away. Via Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

“It could happen,” Ginobili said (or walking away). “I still don’t know. I don’t want to make a decision after being a disappointment in a game like this. So I’ll have a lot of time. I will sit with my family and try to evaluate what happened during the season, how I feel and if I am ready to go at it again. I guess the Spurs are going to have to make a decision, too, and see what they want to do also.”

The Spurs are doing some big game hunting this offseason, reportedly targeting LaMarcus Aldridge — who is interested in them as well. But that can only happen if some big cap holds come off the books due to retirement or the Spurs cutting ties.

So the future of the Spurs is very much up in the air. And some key guys don’t know if they are coming back for one more run at it.

But they might. The paycheck is pretty good.

Adjusting for playoff rotations round two: Watch out for the Wizards

Kent Bazemore, John Wall, Paul Pierce

Before the playoffs began, I assessed each team based on projected postseason rotation.

Here’s the idea:

In an attempt to get better data, I’ve used nba wowy! to rank playoff teams by regular-season net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating), counting only the lineups that include five players projected to be in the team’s post-season rotation.

This measure is far from perfect. It doesn’t account for opponent or weigh lineups based on how often they’ll be used in the postseason, and it’s impossible to precisely predict a team’s playoff rotation.

The system and straight seeding differed twice for the first round, each method correctly predicting one of those two series:

  • My projection correct: Wizards over Raptors
  • Seeding correct: Bucks over Bulls

We now have more information – both about which players actually made the postseason rotation and how teams fared in the first round.

Here are the new adjusted ratings from full regular season to pre-playoff projection to pre-second round projection (counting first-round games and updating the postseason rotation when necessary):


5. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 104.3 to 107.7 to 112.3
  • Defensive rating: 103.5 to 101.1 to 100.9
  • Net rating: +0.8 to +6.6 to +11.4

Kevin Seraphin, not Kris Humphries as I predicted, made the playoff rotation. That would have boosted the Wizards’ pre-playoff projection even higher, and they were already a sleeper based on this model.

A sweep of the Raptors supported all the positivity these numbers suggested about Washington.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 118.2 to 114.2
  • Defensive rating: 106.9 to 101.0 to 105.6
  • Net rating: +4.8 to +17.2 to +8.6

I left James Jones out of my projected playoff rotation. Including him would have weakened the Cavaliers’ pre-playoff adjusted numbers on both ends of the floor, but they still would have ranked second in the league behind the Warriors for adjusted net rating.

Of course, Kevin Love is the big issue headed into the next round. It’s unclear how David Blatt will replace the power forward, but I added Mike Miller and Shawn Marion to the rotation. If it’s just one of the two or neither with no other replacement, the Cavs’ adjusted net rating would be a little better.

Remove J.R. Smith, who’s suspended the first two games though counted as part of the rotation here, and Cleveland actually fares a little better on both ends (with Miller and Marion in the rotation) than it would with Smith.

Still, the picture is clear: Cleveland gets downgraded significantly without Love. Enough to lose to the Bulls? Not according to this model.

3. Chicago Bulls

  • Offensive rating: 107.7 to 108.6 to 108.4
  • Defensive rating: 104. 4 to 103.3 to 102.5
  • Net rating: +3.3 to +5.3 to +5.9

I didn’t include Tony Snell in the Bulls’ playoff rotation, but he stuck, even when Kirk Hinrich was healthy. Had I included Snell, Chicago would have fared slightly better in my first-round projections.

To the surprise of many, the Bucks pushed the Bulls to six games, but that doesn’t give me pause about Chicago. The pre-playoff projection was high on Milwaukee, and though the model actually rated the Bucks above the Bulls, I think the actual result showed the point of the projection. It’s one data point of many, and the lesson should have been that the first-round series could be closer than expected – which happened.

1. Atlanta Hawks

  • Offensive rating: 109.6 to 109.9 to 110.0
  • Defensive rating: 103.8 to 104.9 to 105.1
  • Net rating: +5.8 to +5.0 to +4.9

I incorrectly left Shelvin Mack out of the predicted rotation, though he wouldn’t have changed much.

There were reasons to be concerned about the Hawks entering the playoffs based on this model. A six-game series against the Nets was surprising, because Brooklyn also looked weak. But the first-round matchup also exposed issues with Atlanta this model predicted.

Pick the No. 1 seed to advance at your own risk.


1. Golden State Warriors

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 116.4 to 114.7
  • Defensive rating: 101.3 to 95.7 to 99.1
  • Net rating: +10.4 to +20.7 to +15.6

I didn’t include Marreese Speights and Leandro Barbosa in the Warriors’ rotation, but Steve Kerr did. If I had, Golden State’s projection would have suffered on both ends of the floor.

The Warriors are favored here regardless, but I believe if necessary, they can trim their rotation and become even stronger.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

  • Offensive rating: 113.2 to 117.5 to 118.8
  • Defensive rating: 106.3 to 105.9 to 105.4
  • Net rating: +6.9 to +11.6 to +13.4

I mistakenly had Spencer Hawes in the playoff rotation, but it’s clear Doc Rivers doesn’t trust him. Removing Hawes doesn’t make much difference, though it improves the Clippers’ adjusted rating a bit on both ends of the floor.

The big issue: Will Chris Paul be healthy? A playoff rotation without him projects to have an offensive/defensive/net rating of 97.0/108.1/-11.1. That’s disastrous, but it’s a small sample and overly relies on bench-heavy units. Blake Griffin and the Clippers’ other starters just didn’t play that much without Paul.

If Paul is healthy, the Clippers rate better than the Rockets. If not, lower – though it’s not clear just how much lower Los Angeles actually should be.

2. Houston Rockets

  • Offensive rating: 107.5 to 110.1 to 112.3
  • Defensive rating: 104.0 to 101.0  to 101.2
  • Net rating: 3.5 to +9.1 to +11.1

Clint Capela, not Joey Dorsey, was Houston’s backup center – and that would have boosted their pre-playoff projection on both ends of the floor.

For the most part, the Rockets are the steadier team in their second-round matchup. It’s Paul’s health that should determine everything.

Make no mistake, though: Houston’s playoff rotation is good and will require the Clippers to play well to advance.

5. Memphis Grizzlies

  • Offensive rating: 106.2 to 108.0 to 109.1
  • Defensive rating: 102.7 to 102.7 to 102.8
  • Net rating: +3.5 to +5.3 to +6.3

I included Mike Conley in this projection. If he can’t play, the offensive/defensive/net splits go to 107.3/101.6+5.7.

That’s not as large a drop as I anticipated, but it probably doesn’t matter much. The Grizzlies land well behind the Warriors either way.

Brandon Jennings: Winner of Clippers-Spurs series ‘will be playing the Cavs in the Finals’

Detroit Pistons v Milwaukee Bucks

Brandon Jennings is not only a more-than-solid NBA point guard, but after suffering an Achilles injury that cost him half of his 2015 season, he’s spent plenty of time watching basketball, and giving his opinions on what he sees from an insider perspective.

As the Clippers and the Spurs get set for what’s expected to be an epic Game 7 battle — one that definitely shouldn’t be taking place in the first round of the playoffs — Jennings proclaimed that the winner will go on to face the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

The problem with this, of course, is that the Golden State Warriors — winners of 67 games during the regular season, and a team that looked like world-beaters in the process — would stand in the way of the Clippers or the Spurs two rounds from now.

I believe that the Spurs have what it takes to beat the Warriors in a seven-game series, but I’m not sure about the Clippers. While L.A.’s starting unit is as good as it gets, things get sketchy once the reserves check in, and I think Golden State’s league-best defense would cause the Clippers plenty of problems.

As for the Cavaliers, we don’t yet know what to expect after Kevin Love was lost for the rest of the postseason due to injury, and another starter in J.R. Smith was lost due to suspension for the first two games of the series against the Bulls. And then there are the Hawks, who finally looked like the Hawks during a Game 6 thrashing of the Brooklyn Nets.

Jennings’ opinion should be highly-regarded, because he’s played against these teams and knows first-hand the problems that they can present. But discounting the Warriors (and the Bulls, and the Hawks) at this early stage is a bold statement nonetheless.