There’s no pressure on D.J. Augustin…except for running his team’s offense

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Pardon me for being redundant, but the Charlotte Bobcats are going to have a very uncomfortable season if D.J. Augustin remains their starting point guard. It’s not that the Bobcats’ roster has any superior alternatives, but this team is hurting badly for a true replacement for Raymond Felton, and Augustin isn’t the man.

Only for now, he has to be. Shaun Livingston is injured, Sherron Collins is Sherron Collins, and handing over control of the offense to Stephen Jackson on a full-time basis is a recipe for failure. Augustin is Charlotte’s great hope at point guard, and at best, he’s a sweet shooter, a decent playmaker, and a defensive sieve. More realistically, he’s still a bad defender while shooting well from outside (where Augustin has shot 42% for his career) and displaying questionable decision-making. Raymond Felton wasn’t some idyllic point guard, but his defense and steady play helped turn the Bobcats into a legitimate playoff team, and Augustin’s promotion rocks the boat. Charlotte still seems due for a repeat playoff appearance, but with such uncertainty at the point, nothing seems safe.

The Bobcats, for their part, are predictably singing Augustin’s praises, and Augustin, for his, is playing confident. From Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse:

With his safety net gone, Augustin has become the quiet key to the upstart Charlotte Bobcats, prepared to show now he belongs in the NBA, and they belong back in the playoffs. “Nacho Libre (Augustin), he’s the head to this monster,” [Stephen] Jackson said. “And as he goes, we’ll go this season. We need him to succeed. We need him to run things the proper way. And I think will. He’s going to surprise all those people who already counted him out.”

…The Bobcats reached the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season, winning 44 games, but the prospects of improving, or even repeating, clearly rests with Augustin. “There’s no pressure, it’s just basketball,” Augustin said. “I can’t tell you about the future, but I hope to make us better. I’ve got to be ready.”

First and foremost: it cannot be ignored that D.J. Augustin’s nickname is apparently “Nacho Libre.” Alrighty then.

Augustin doesn’t see running the Bobcats as a high-pressure situation (or if he does, is smart enough not to express that concern publicly), and this is a good thing. No one wants to see Augustin caught like a deer in the headlights of Larry Brown’s 18-wheeler, and he needs to believe he can do the job even if those of us on the outside suppose that he can’t. There’s nothing wrong with what Augustin said, with the exception that it’s wrong. There is pressure. The Bobcats aren’t a team shooting for the title, they’re aiming for the back end of the playoffs and the sweet, sweet revenue they provide. There is pressure to perform. There is pressure to appease LB. There is pressure to keep Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, and all of Augustin’s Bobcats teammates happy while still running the show efficiently.

Pretending otherwise is foolish, and yet that’s exactly what we demand Augustin do as a part of the media game.

Video appears to show Rajon Rondo spitting at Chris Paul

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Did Rajon Rondo spit on Chris Paul?

That’s the question everyone’s asking after Saturday night’s big brouhaha between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets which led to several objections and coming suspensions from the league office.

Various angles have been analyzed at length on social media, and indeed it was always apparent the NBA viewing public-at-large would get to the bottom of things. Around 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, we came to our logical endpoint.

Thanks to this new video, it does appear that Rondo spit at Paul.

Via Twitter:

The NBA league office is still reviewing the tape, but according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski they appear to have the clip in question in hand.

There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to the coming suspensions. First, how much Brandon Ingram will be penalized for instigating the entire thing with his shove in the back of James Harden. Ingram also came in with a flying punch to Paul’s face that might be looked at a bit more severely.

Second, both Paul and Rondo landed punches, but if Rondo indeed did spit on his competitor that’s a level of disrespect — not to mention responsibility for making the first move against Paul — that might get him a tougher sentence.

We haven’t seen a real fight in the NBA in some time, where actual punches were landed and things got more serious than just guys running between tunnels underneath Staples Center. How the league punishes these guys this early in the season will dictate to us in the future how they feel about this kind of tension spilling over into violence.

Check out Nikola Jokick’s perfect shooting triple-double

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Phoenix star rookie Deandre Ayton, welcome to the NBA. Please try to guard Denver’s Nikola Jokic in your second game.

That didn’t go well. Jokic finished with a triple-double of 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. However, it’s how he got there that was impressive: 11-of-11 from the field shooting, 10-of-11 from the free throw line, zero turnovers, four steals, and he threw in a blocked shot for good measure.

Jokic was +29 on the night and the Nuggets won 119-91. Denver is 2-0 to start the season.

Report: Knicks’ Kevin Knox out 2-4 weeks with sprained ankle

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This is a blow — not just for the Knicks on the court, or the development of the team’s new young star, but for Knicks fans. With Kristaps Porzingis out for the foreseeable future, promising rookie Kevin Knox was the reason for hope, the reason to tune in and watch every night.

Now he’s going to be out for a couple of weeks, and maybe a month.

Knox went down after Boston’s Terry Rozier tried to cut Knox off in transition and fouled him. Knox was in a lot of pain and had to be helped off the court.

That sprained ankle will take 2-4 weeks to heal, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Ugh. The good news is this is not more serious and Knox will fully recover. But it’s a setback both for him and the watchability of the Knicks for a few weeks.

Kyrie Irving on if he hadn’t chosen Boston: ‘New York held a special place for me’

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Now Kyrie Irving is just teasing Knicks fans.

While he was reportedly New York’s top free agent target, Irving announced he will re-sign with Boston when he becomes a free agent next summer. He’s not looking around, not shopping his talents, not talking to the Knicks. That’s why he was greeted with some boos when introduced at Madison Square Garden Saturday night.

However, if Irving were going to shop his talents, New York might have won the sweepstakes, Irving said to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

“Every team was under consideration but obviously New York held a special place for me,” said Irving, who grew up about 15 miles away from MSG in West Orange, NJ. “Just being from Jersey and obviously envisioning myself as a free agent and ultimately taking a meeting and playing for (Knicks coach David Fizdale) and a great young core that they have here.

“Thinking about playing with (Kristaps Porzingis). That was a big thing before I made my decision just to plan on re-signing back with Boston. But yeah, of course, New York was a strong consideration.”

The Celtics are in a position to contend for a title this season and few more going forward (at least), which is what Irving said is the key reason he wants to stay. It doesn’t hurt that Boston can offer him five years, $190 million guaranteed, while the most the Knicks can offer is four years, $139 million. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table.

By the way, the Celtics beat the Knicks 103-101 in MSG.