Oh, if Tracy McGrady could only still play as good a game as he can talk. Because when he met with the New York media for the first time today as a member of the Knicks, he was saying all the right things.
“This is not the same Tracy from last season when I was hobbling on one leg. That’s not going to be me. ”
“I know these guys are seven games out of the playoffs, but this is the team I really wanted to come to.”
[If the Knicks can sign LeBron James Dwyane Wade] “I’d be a damn fool not to want to stay here . . . Money is not an issue [for me].”
That sounds great, but unless McGrady came to New York with a DeLorean and a flux capacitor that can go get the McGrady from 2005 or earlier, the words may be hollow. Injuries have taken their toll, but his field goal percentage has not been above 43 percent since 2004. When he’s taken a lot of threes he’s never made a lot. He has become a high-volume shooter — he’ll get you 24 points but he’ll need 21 shots to do it.
This much we know — McGrady will get the chance to back up those words. Coach Mike D’Antoni says he’s going to play from day one (“we’ve only got 29 [games] left”). Maybe McGrady has changed, maybe he is willing to accept a role as not being the primary scorer on a team. Maybe he has become the veteran willing to do the right things to win a ring (although we won’t find that out with the Knicks for a while).
Maybe. But we’ll need more than words to buy in. We’ll need actions.
When the Raptors drafted Bruno Caboclo with the No. 20 pick in the 2014 draft, Fran Fraschilla famously declared, “He’s two years away from being two years away.”
If Caboclo is on that timeline, he’ll emerge with the Rockets.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
This is a one-year minimum-salary contract Houston can convert in a two-way deal. It could also include a bonus of $5,000-$50,000 if the Rockets waive him and assign him to their minor-league affiliate.
Caboclo washed out in Toronto and still struggled when receiving more – though still little – playing time with the Kings late last season. Attitude issues with the Brazilian national team don’t engender confidence, either.
But Caboclo is still just 22 and possesses the athletic tools that made him intriguing in the first place. He’s a longshot, but it’s too soon to give up on him completely.
The Milwaukee Bucks got 24.7 percent of their offense from three last season, the third-lowest percentage in the NBA. They were 25th in the NBA in three pointers attempted last season and 22nd in three-point percentage.
That will change with Mike Budenholzer as coach.
Budenholzer, however, cannot shoot threes himself, so GM Jon Horst went out and got big men who can space the floor for Milwaukee: Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova. Horst talked about it to the Bucks network at Summer League (in an interview they just posted Sunday):
What’s important is Horst saying this is a team built around Giannis Antetokounmpo and his slashing skill set — teams that just pack the paint to cut off his drives will now face bigs who will make them pay from beyond the arc. The team, as a whole, will be unleashed to play faster, shoot more threes, and Budenholzer also will bring an improved defensive system.
It looks like a big three in the East this season — Boston, Toronto, and Philadelphia — but Milwaukee could be the surprise team to crash the party. They have the top five talent in the Greek Freak, quality players around him such as Eric Bledsoe and Kris Middleton, and now more depth and shooting. Put all that in a new system with a better Xs and Os coach and… it’s something to watch.
Summer is the time of irrational confidence.
After missing most of last season due to repair a microfracture and meniscus issue in his right knee, Patrick Beverley is back with the Clippers — and he is not backing down. Sure, he came to the Clippers in a trade that sent Chris Paul away, and in the past six months Blake Griffin was traded and DeAndre Jordan left as a free agent, but Beverley believes in this team. Completely. Like best team in L.A. (LeBron who?) and going to the playoffs completely.
Check out Beverley’s recent comments, via Tomer Azarly.
Let’s hope that Beverley is healthy and back to being himself. The league needs more pesky defenders at the point.
The Clippers could be a playoff team, their lineup isn’t bad: the starters likely are Beverley, Avery Bradley, Danilo Gallinari, Tobias Harris, Marcin Gortat, then off the bench comes Lou Williams (the reigning Sixth Man of the Year), Luc Mbah a Moute, rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Montrezl Harrell. Plus never forget about Boban Marjanovic. Never.
That lineup could put the Clippers in the mix for a playoff spot — if they can stay healthy. And that’s the big key. Beverley is coming off major surgery, Gallinari is often injured and hasn’t played more than 63 games in a season the past four years (just 21 last season), Bradley has battled injuries in recent years, and… you get the idea. Keep the Clippers healthy and they have a shot at the postseason in the deep West, it’s just hard to give them the benefit of the doubt at this point.
And better than LeBron James and the Lakers? Sorry Beverley, you’re going to have to prove that one before I buy in.
Rudy Gay, coming off a torn Achilles in 2017, was not quite his vintage self last season for the Spurs. In the 57 games he played he looked like a solid third option — 11.5 points per game, a surprisingly good defensive rating — but he played fewer minutes than ever before in his career, and he shot just 31.4 percent from three. In the playoffs he showed his importance — the Spurs were 9 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court — but he was never going to make up for what they lacked with Kawhi Leonard out.
Gay is preparing for his next season in San Antonio and told Tom Osborn of the San Antonio Express-News that he is finally healthy.
Everything is clicking,” he said. “I feel athletic again.”
“I’ve been working hard, man,” Gay said at his boys’ high school basketball showcase for East Coast teams he hosts annually. “I lost about five pounds. Last year was a little bit of a struggle for me, so I tried to alleviate that by taking the weight off my feet by losing a couple of pounds through working out and eating better. It’s now or never right now for me.”
Gay is also close to new Spur DeMar DeRozan, and he sees potential there.
“That’s the thing about this whole team – everybody has a chip on his shoulder,” Gay said. “His is just more publicized. But, look, I’m healthy (and have something to prove), LaMarcus (Aldridge) always finds someway to have a chip on his shoulder. Jakob wants to prove he can be a great player. DJ (Dejounte Murray) has a chip on his shoulder because he wants to be known as one of the best at his position.”
The Spurs won 47 games last season essentially without Leonard, and now they sub an All-NBA player in DeRozan into the mix. If Gay is healthy and can be that third option, if the defense stays tight, if Gregg Popovich can work his magic, this is a dangerous playoff team. Not a contender, but are you going to bet against the Spurs making the playoffs?