Tag: LaMarcus Aldridge

Tony Parker, Tim Duncan

Tony Parker says for Spurs this is “last crack at it to try to win it all”


San Antonio won the offseason.

They landed LaMarcus Aldridge. They brought back Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Tim Duncan agreed to return. They got David West to decide to come for pennies on the dollar. They improved one of the best rosters in the NBA last season. They even won Summer League.

The Spurs are a title contending team, but one in a loaded Western Conference. What could make the difference is hunger — which team wants it the most? Which team plays with the right level of controlled desperation?

Tony Parker says don’t count out the Spurs in that category. Parker did an interview with France 24 and said he and the team realizes this is their last shot with this core (via the San Antonio Express-News).

“It’s been an unbelievable summer for us. LaMarcus is going to help us a lot. I’m so happy that Manu and Timmy are back. And so we’re going for a last try, a last crack at it to try to win it all.”

For the Spurs, Warriors, Clippers, Thunder, Rockets and maybe Grizzlies, the first key in the West will be just staying healthy. There is no margin for error.

But after that it will be about desire, about execution, and in the end about matchups come the playoffs. And in what will be the last year for Duncan and Manu Ginobili, not to mention David West’s long career, there will be plenty of desperation and energy in San Antonio. Predicting things in the West now is impossible, but in the end expect the Spurs to be in the mix.


Wesley Matthews says Trail Blazers never made him an offer, “I was pissed off”

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three

Wesley Matthews brings his “3&D” game — and his ruptured Achilles still on the mend — to Dallas next season.

Matthews had been a vital part of Portland’s success the past few seasons. So much so that when he injured his Achilles last season the team went from everybody’s favorite dark horse contender in the West to the team that still got the four seed and made Adam Silver and the NBA rethink rewarding division winners. It wasn’t just his on the court play, his leadership in the locker room was huge in Portland.

Which is why he thought they would try to keep him, but they didn’t Matthews told Jason Quick and the Oregonian. And that ticked him off.

He had hoped he could return to the city that had embraced him, to the team with players he considered brothers, to the franchise where he grew into one of the NBA’s most well-rounded and respected shooting guards. But in the end, after five seasons, the feeling was not mutual. He was greeted with silence. No phone call. No text messages. The Blazers never made an offer.

“I was pissed off,” Matthews said. “I felt disrespected….”

The only chance the Blazers would pursue Matthews, top executive Neil Olshey later explained, was if free agent LaMarcus Aldridge chose to return, maintaining Portland as a playoff-caliber team. When Aldridge chose San Antonio, the Blazers decided to rebuild. Paying big money to a 29-year-old shooting guard coming off major surgery didn’t make long-term sense.

For Portland, this makes total sense. Once Aldridge chose to go home to Texas they needed to strip the entire thing down and make Damian Lillard the focus of a rebuild. And if Blazers owner Paul Allen is hesitant about paying big money to injured players, it’s hard to blame him (Greg Oden, Brandon Roy).

That Portland never made a phone call means by July 1 Olshey knew Aldridge was long gone.

Matthews makes sense for Dallas, a team that when it first contacted Matthews thought it might get the pieces this summer to give Dirk Nowitzki one more run at a ring. While that didn’t work out (in dramatic fashion), Cuban pitched Matthews as being a cornerstone of the future in Dallas. That sold Matthews, he told the Oregonian in this fantastic story detailing his summer recruitment.

History of players coming back from an Achilles injury suggests this is going to be a challenging season for Matthews. Even if he can stay healthy — which is not always easy, see Kobe Bryant for example — it’s an adjustment learning what your body can and can’t do the same way. His game will need to adapt.

Where Matthews really may start to pay off for Dallas is next summer — he’s the kind of person and player other guys want on their team. Having him in house is a good recruiting tool when Mark Cuban and the Mavericks knock on the doors of the next big free agents.

Gregg Popovich missed games last November due to heart procedure


If you like hypotheticals, play around with this one:

What if Gregg Popovich had to walk away from the Spurs in the middle of last season?

So many questions come up, from how the Spurs perform through the playoffs to does Tim Duncan come back? Or does LaMarcus Aldridge come at all?

Popovich missed a couple games of Spurs’ games last November with no real reason given. Turns out it was a heart condition. Legendary coach Larry Brown talked about it with Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News.

His hip surgery had gone well, but there was a hiccup with a heart condition that was not unlike the atrial fibrillation that Fab Oberto had. Popovich underwent a procedure, and, after he had done everything the doctors had asked, palpitations returned.

Brown says the episode occurred during the preseason tour in Europe. That eventually culminated with Popovich missing two games in late November for a second procedure.

“I really believe he was close to retiring then,” Brown said.


For his sake, I am happy the second procedure worked. Also I’m happy for selfish reasons — the Spurs and the NBA will not be quite the same without Popovich. He can move on, he has other interests and likes to say he is not an NBA lifer — Pop is not Tom Thibodeau. Popovich has other interests. But we will miss him.

Fortunately, we’re probably four years from finding out what the league will be like without him, that’s how long Popovich has left on his contract. He has said he intends to coach until the end of it, and there’s little chance Aldridge comes to San Antonio without that commitment.

That he was healthy enough to make that commitment — and that he is heading to Africa to coach in an NBA exhibition game there next month — is a sign everything is back to normal.

Lakers’ coach Byron Scott says Kobe Bryant will “probably” play some power forward

Kobe Bryant, Byron Scott

We knew that with a guard rotation of Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell and Lou Williams, the Lakers were going to slide Kobe Bryant over to the three for stretches this season. And when Lakers’ trainer Gary Vitti discussed it with him, Kobe’s reaction was “I can do that.” Which is probably Kobe’s reaction to every question he is ever asked — “Hey Kobe, could you land a 747?” — but in this case he certainly can do it if healthy.

But how about Kobe at as a small four?

Not sure how Kobe feels about it, but Lakers’ coach Byron Scott is thinking about it, he told David Aldridge of NBA.com (hat tip to NBA Reddit).

“The one thing that we wanted to do and accomplish through this draft and through free agency was to try and be a little more versatile, have some versatility. So I think (Clarkson, Russell, Williams) can definitely do that. Kobe can play one, two and three. There’s no doubt in my mind. And there’s some games. against some teams, where he’ll probably play four. With his tenaciousness, the way he guards people and when his mind is set, if I say ‘Kobe, you’ve got him,’ he takes that as a challenge. You know how he is. He’ll compete.”

This is a decent idea, one worth exploring, if it is situational (the Lakers tried it very, very briefly last season).

If the Lakers are playing the Toronto Raptors and they’ve gone small with DeMarre Carroll at the four, the Lakers can match that with Kobe. Same with the Wizards if they go small and slide Jared Dudley to the four. Orlando if they go small with Tobias Harris at the four. There are matchups where this could work for the Lakers — not for long stretches, playing against bigger guys would take a toll on Kobe’s body, but for 5-10 minutes it could work.

However, notice all the teams noted above are in the East. The problem is that in the West most of the teams have fours Kobe would simply not be able to match defensively — Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka (or the Thunder go small with Kevin Durant), LaMarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph, Dirk Nowitzki, Draymond Green, and the list goes on. The West is simply a different animal with the forward spots.

That’s why most of the Lakers’ minutes at the four will be split between Julius Randle and Brandon Bass. Still, I could see a short stretch with three shooters to space the floor, Kobe at the four and Bass at the five. It’s worth taking a look at in preseason and early in the season. Scott is right, versatility matters more and more in the NBA. We’ll see if he puts that plan into action.

Damian Lillard says he likely will not take part in USA Minicamp, “I don’t know why I would go”

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers

The list of players expected to be at Team USA’s mini-camp in Las Vegas in August is impressive and could reach near 40 players trying to gain favor for a potential Rio Olympics spot. Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love, Andre Drummond and many others are expected to take to the court. Meanwhile big names like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony will be there, but with limited if any participation.

Just don’t expect to see Damian Lillard.

The Trail Blazers’ guard was the final cuts from Team USA last year before the FIBA World Cup, Kyrie Irving that spot, and he seems a little bitter about this. He was on the Jody Mac show on CBSSports Radio Saturday and had this exchange:

Jody Mac: Are you headed to Vegas next month?
Lillard: Probably not.
Jody Mac: Why Not?
Lillard: I did it the last few summers and last summer I didn’t make it. I don’t know why I would go. After I got cut last summer, I don’t think I’m a part of it.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that Lillard was expected to be there, although it doesn’t sound like it from this interview.

Lillard’s problem is the NBA, and USA Basketball, is deep with elite point guards right now (Curry, Irving and Derrick Rose made the roster that won gold last year). While Lillard was on the bubble last summer remember that Durant, Anthony, LeBron James, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, not to mention point guards Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul didn’t show up for that event. Every one of them knocks Lillard another peg down the ladder (even though some play different positions, LeBron and Durant certainly are ball handlers).

Lillard can do what he wants, he’s under no obligation or commitment. But is this the kind of attitude that’s going to make free agents the next few years say “I want to go to Portland to play with this guy?” It probably doesn’t sway guys much, but it might make a few think about it.