You knew the Raptors were going a little Euro this season. Not Capri pants and sleeveless T-shirts ala Rafael Nadal circa 2005 Euro, but some steps down the Euro path.
Raptors assistant coach Jay Triano was an assistant coach in Turkey for USA Basketball and told NBA.com’s John Schuhmann he saw a few things he wanted to bring home to Toronto.
“I like the international ball movement,” Triano said. “I thought that the way that they move the basketball and the way that they make cuts, they have to do that sometimes to overcome the athleticism that some of the other teams have. So they’re very precise with their offense.”
“Offensively, I thought the ball got stuck a lot last year,” he said. “Different guys needed to have the ball in their hands. That’s why I like some of the stuff that the European teams did as far as ball movement.”
With Andrea Bargnani and Linas Kleiza as very possibly their two leading scorers this season, this is something that could work. Spread the wealth. Being precise in a flex/continuity offense could help a Raptors team that lost their dominant one-on-one player.
Movement and precision has been working well in Utah for years. It takes a little while to really get all the players on the same page, but when you do it is something that players are not used to seeing — not from AAU ball on up. You get a few easy buckets every game on a baseline back cut or something similar. That could mean a lot to a team like Toronto.
Of course, it’s all moot if Toronto plays defense like it did last season. But it will be prettier.
When Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers last year, LeBron James told the Cavs not to trade the disgruntled star. But LeBron also made no effort to win over Irving.
If that weren’t unhelpful enough…
Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report:
League sources say that when James became convinced Irving couldn’t be persuaded to stay in Cleveland, he suggested to the Cavs front office that it deal Irving to the Blazers for All-Star point guard Damian Lillard. The Cavs never called the Blazers
Of course LeBron wanted Lillard. Lillard is very good, even better than Irving.
But that deal probably wouldn’t appeal to the Trail Blazers. Though Irving is younger and cheaper, Lillard is locked up two additional seasons. That greater team control is huge.
Perhaps, the Cavs could have bridged the gap in Irving’s and Lillard’s values by sending draft picks to and/or taking bad contracts from Portland. LeBron left Cleveland for the Lakers after last season, anyway. Long-term issues like lost picks and toxic contracts weren’t necessarily his problem. It’s more understandable the Cavaliers resisted.*
*However, a team with an all-time great like LeBron in his problem should have been more committed to winning a title last season than they were. Those opportunities come along only so often.
What makes this particularly interesting: The Lakers are trying to get another star. Does LeBron still want to play with Lillard? The Trail Blazers insist they’re keeping Lillard, and he has repeatedly said he wants to stay in Portland. But LeBron wanting Lillard in Los Angeles could be the seed that grows into something bigger.
A rumor emerged the Knicks could be looking to trade for Wizards point guard John Wall.
That always seemed dubious. Marc Berman of the New York Post cited “Some in the league believe.”
But now comes the counter-leak, anyway…
Ian Begley of ESPN:
This is an overcorrection that only makes the Knicks look worse. Not internally discussing a trade candidate does not inspire confidence. Sound organizations evaluate their options. The Knicks should discuss Wall internally.
They should also likely conclude it’s not worth trading for him.
Wall is due about $171 million over the next four seasons. He’ll be 29 when that super-max contract extension kicks in, and he already looks hurt, lazy and grouchy.
Maybe if the Knicks still had Joakim Noah to trade, it might makes sense, though still probably not. As is, New York doesn’t have enough bad contracts to match Wall’s toxic del.
So, I don’t expect New York – or anyone – to trade for Wall. But I’d be more encouraged by the Knicks if they internally discussed this then passed on Wall. If we’re to believe this latest leak,* who knows what they’ll decide if they ever talk about Wall?
*Which I don’t, for what it’s worth. I suspect even the Knicks at least discussed why trading for Wall was a bad idea.
The Nuggets’ have so many injured backcourt players – Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton and Isaiah Thomas (plus forwards Paul Millsap, Michael Porter, Jarred Vanderbilt are also hurt).
Denver is adding a reinforcement – Nick Young.
Young has had a rough go since winning a championship with the Warriors last season. The 33-year-old is probably on his last legs as an NBA player.
But Denver needs someone. Young might still be serviceable. He can make 3-pointers, though he defends like a sieve and doesn’t contribute much else offensively. With the ball running through Nikola Jokic, maybe that will be enough – until better Nuggets get healthy.
Kyrie Irving‘s first public flat-Earth comments came on a light-hearted podcast.
Will Stephen Curry also become notorious for his conspiracy theory, revealed on a light-hearted podcast?
The Warriors star appeared on “Winging It” with Vince Carter, Kent Bazemore and Andre Iguodala. The conversation:
- Curry: “We ever been to the moon?
- Multiple responders: “Nope.”
- Curry: “They’re gonna come get us. I don’t think so, either.”
Podcast co-host Annie Finberg asked whether Curry actually believed that. He responded affirmatively.
Still, Irving immediately doubled down outside the podcast – then tripled down and quadrupled down and… This hasn’t gotten away from Curry in the same way. He could still easily explain he was joking during the podcast.
Or he could stick with his conspiracy theory. I don’t know what he actually believes.
For what it’s worth, I believe we went to the moon. So many people would have to know if the moon landing were faked, and there’s no way they’d all keep it secret.