Baseline to Baseline Weekend Edition: Knicks Gone Wild

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What you missed this weekend while worrying that your extra virgin olive oil isn’t such a virgin

Celtics 104 Bulls 92 (Friday): I know the Bulls thought they were an elite team. The Celtics, however, are currently the only Eastern team (and maybe the only NBA team) at that level right now. If we’re looking at matchups in a potential playoff series, the fact that Kevin Garnett outright obliterated an admittedly still finding his legs Carlos Boozer is going to jump off the page and smack us around a bit. Derrick Rose is spectacular and his ability to create, then lean away from contact in mid-air gives him what can only be described as special powers against the Celtics. Unfortunately, Shaquille O’Neal has a neater super power: being much, much, much bigger than Joakim Noah and bullying him like Noah skipped a grade then got assigned to the same gym class with the jocks. Boston is outright terrifying at this point. Basically the Celtics are very outright.

Magic 104 Pistons 91 (Friday): Detroit was so bad they lost to an Orlando team that pretty much resembled the extras from “The Walking Dead.”

Milwaukee 96 Magic 85 (Saturday): Milwaukee was so bad they only beat an Orlando team that was only able to suit up 8 players by 11. There was a lot of sneezing. The end.

Bobcats 91 Nets 84 (OT) (Friday): The score was 33-32 at the half. It very well may have been the worst first half in professional basketball history. Here. Let us never speak of it again.

Rockets 127 Grizzlies 111 (Friday): The Rockets looked like they are back!

Bulls 119 Rockets 116 (OT) (Saturday): The Rockets are not back. The Rockets had this game. Had it. Down cold. Lock, stock, and barrel. Then Derrick Rose took over, with a series of whirlish-dervish one-way-back-slash passes and one very killer off-the-dribble three he should never have gotten due to the fact that Houston should have fouled, fouled, and then fouled again up three, I don’t care if Derrick Rose’s three-point reliability is kind of a neat new trick. Luis Scola also pulled off a very impressive Dream Shake impersonation that manages to out-fake I’m pretty sure every Bull on the floor, several on the bench, and a few that are playing overseas. Alas, Houston falls again.

Knicks 100 Hornets 92 (Friday): The Knicks may be back. For Emeka Okafor with all his might, all his improvement, for every way that Chris Paul should dominate Raymond Felton, the Knicks ran roughshod. Amar’e Stoudemire at this point is nearly unstoppable and the Knicks are firing on all cylinders. Chris Paul is strikingly passive in the second halves of games and you have to wonder if the health is all there. The Knicks are creating easy shots for themselves and hard ones for their opponents. The Hornets are in the exact opposite condition.

Knicks 116 Raptors 99 (Sunday): Yup, Knicks are probably back.

Spurs 107 Wolves 101 (Friday): There are meltdowns, there are colossal meltdowns, and then there’s the Wolves in this game. An utter self-demolition as they gave the Spurs an opening, then stood around guffawing as the Spurs hit that fifth gear from nothing. Kevin Love was not good, George Hill was very good, and the Wolves looked like they had absolutely no brain running the body for the last quarter. The Wolves could really have used a significant weapon down low they could turn to who wouldn’t get railroaded by Tim Duncan. Instead they had Darko Milicic (who had a fine game the following night against Cleveland).

Wizards 83 Blazers 79 (Friday): This was an unhappy game. John Wall was bad and frustrated. The Blazers lost to the Wizards, despite John Wall having a bad game and being frustrated. This was a joyless, coal mine shift of a game.

Suns 105 Pacers 97 (Friday): Channing Frye had 29 points. So, you know, the Pacers may have some trouble with non-traditional positional adjustments.

Dallas 93 Jazz 81 (Friday), Dallas 105, Kings 103 (Saturday): Eight quarters for the Mavs this weekend, points produced: 23, 16, 27, 27, 28, 26, 26, 24. Steady light a freight train, sharp like a razor.

Spurs’ Keldon Johnson to miss start of training camp with shoulder injury

San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets
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Keldon Johnson is poised to have a monster season on a rebuilding Spurs team.

Except he’s going to miss the start of training camp and the team’s preseason games. And could be out longer.

Johnson suffered a “right shoulder posterior dislocation during Spurs open gym” the team announced Saturday. Posterior dislocations are rare (less than 5% of all dislocations) and are usually from a fall on an extended arm. Recovering from the injury depends on many factors but can extend out for months. However, the Spurs said Johnson is expected to be available for the start of the regular season less than a month from now.

Johnson averaged 17 points and 6.1 rebounds a game last season, and is an elite perimeter shooter off the catch-and-shoot (39.8% from 3 overall), who also can put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim. He was the team’s second-leading scorer last season (to Dejounte Murray, who is now in Atlanta).

The Spurs will be cautious with bringing Johnson back. Even in what could be Gregg Popovich’s last season as coach the Spurs are looking more to be part of the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes than push for a playoff spot. Johnson is a quality player who helps San Antonio win games, which both is why they want him back healthy and why they are not going to rush him.

Cavaliers reportedly extend Dean Wade for three years, $18.5 million

Pregame of Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers
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This could be a steal for the Cavaliers — Dean Wade could be the starting three for the Cavaliers by the end of this season and he’s got a genuine upside.

The Cavaliers have extended Wade for three years, $18.5 million, a story where multiple sources were on top of it, including Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Wade’s counting stats aren’t eye-popping — 5.3 points a game and shooting 35.7% from 3 — but he is a quality wing defender who has improved as a floor spacer (sometimes setting picks and popping out). He’s a two-way player who has put in the work and could pass Isaac Okoro on the depth chart this season.

The Cavaliers have four All-Stars who will undoubtedly be starting for them — Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley up front — and the looming question is at the three. Wade has a chance this season to step into that role.

Which makes extending him at a little over $6 million a season a potential steal for the Cavaliers.

 

Warriors GM Myers reiterates he would like to extend Green, Poole, Wiggins

Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings
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Andrew Wiggins is entering the final year of his contract and the Warriors want to extend him. Jordan Poole is up for a contract extension and if it isn’t worked out by the start of the season he becomes a restricted free agent next summer. Draymond Green is eligible — and wants — a four years, $138.4 million extension (the max they can give him).

Bob Myers said again this week that he wants to keep all three of those players — all critical parts of the Warriors run to a title last season — but financial reality could intrude upon that dream. Here’s what Myers said Thursday, via Kendra Andrews of ESPN:

“We want all of those guys,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said at a news conference Thursday. “Can we get all of them? I don’t know.

“It depends on what the money ends up being. What the ask is what we can end up doing. We’re not at a point to make those decisions yet. Some of these decisions may be made in the next two weeks, some might be made in the next seven, eight months.”

The Warriors turned heads around the league paying more than $350 million in player salaries and luxury tax last season — and this season they will be in the same ballpark. Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob has said even with the cash cow that is the new Chase Center, this is not a team that can spend $400 million. Some expenses are locked in, such as Stephen Curry and his $215.4 max contract extension. Klay Thompson is at the max for a couple of more years.

Poole is part of the future in Golden State — along with Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and maybe Jonathan Wiseman — and they can’t let him go. Wiggins was the Warriors’ second-best player in the postseason last year. That has led to some speculation Green could be the odd man out — something Myers has denied. Green will make $25.8 million this season but is  expected to opt out of the $27.6 million player option he has next season. It leaves the Warriors and Green with a choice.

Something’s got to give, but the Myers and the Warriors seem ready to kick that financial can down the road until next summer, and for this season get the band back together and chase another ring.

Poole would be the first up (there is an Oct. 17 deadline to extend him). Whatever happens, this will be an undercurrent of a story all season long in the Bay Area.

C.J. McCollum inks two-year, $64 million extension with Pelicans

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After helping New Orleans return to the playoffs for the first time since Anthony Davis was traded to the Lakers, C.J. McCollum earned a two-year, $64 million extension with the Pelicans. He will remain under contract with the team through the 2025-26 season, and there isn’t a player or team option in the deal. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news Saturday afternoon.

New Orleans traded Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Didi Louzada, a 2022 protected first-round pick (turns into 2025 first-round pick that is top-4 protected), and two future second-round picks for McCollum, Larry Nance Jr., and Tony Snell.

New Orleans now has their core of McCollum, Zion Williamson, and Brandon Ingram under contract for the next three seasons.

The expectations will be high for the Pelicans for the next few years. After starting last season 1-12, first-year head coach Willie Green helped turn the team around, and they finished 36-46 before beating the Spurs and Clippers in the play-in tournament. Their season ended after losing to the Suns 4-2 in the first round of the playoffs.

McCollum averaged 24.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.7 triples per game after the trade to New Orleans.

The return of Zion this season, along with the success of last year’s team, has the team expecting a return to the playoffs. Locking up their star guard in McCollum emphasizes that their rebuild is over. After missing the playoffs during their first three seasons in the post-AD era, they don’t expect to return to the lottery for a long time. The big question surrounding their potential success will be Zion’s health.