What you missed while pouring out a 40 for Nate Dogg…
Bulls 98, Wizards 79: And with that score, the Bulls move into first place in the Eastern Conference.
The game itself was pretty much all Bulls, they took an early lead on a 20-5 run (despite Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah being out), although the Wizards made a bit of a second quarter push behind Jordan Crawford (15 points in the quarter). But the Bulls defense tightened up in the second half and held Washington to 35 points for the final 24. Which seemed fitting because their defense is why they are on top in the East.
Some individual performances of note. JaVale McGee had 12 blocked shots, including a few out on the perimeter as he chased down blocks all over the place. (The Bulls grabbed the offensive rebound on 38.5 percent of their missed shots, which may have had something to do with McGee chasing down blocks.) Keith Bogans hit 5-of-10 from three and dropped 17 points for his best game of the season.
Pacers 119, Knicks 117: A pretty entertaining game, so long as you are not a coach in charge of either of these teams’ defenses. Second game of a home-and-home and you didn’t really see a lot of changes from the Pacers win Sunday. The Knicks don’t play defense but when they moved the ball and ran in transition they could outscore the Pacers. Tyler Hansbrough had 30, 15 in the third quarter when it looked like the Pacers would pull away. The Knicks fought back, had some questionable execution down the stretch and that opened the door for a dramatic Danny Granger game winner.
Hawks 110, Bucks 85: Joe Johnson was knocking down the jumper (8-of-15 on shots outside the key according to the shot chart, he finished with 36) and when he and his teammates are hitting from the outside they can beat anyone. The Bucks offense still sucks.
Trail Blazers 104, Mavericks 101: Dallas started out 11-11 from the floor and shot 74 percent in the first quarter — yet never led by more than 8 and it was just three after the first quarter. Close game at the end and the Mavericks had looks to tie but could not knock down shots like they could at the start. Big win for the Blazers playoff push.
LeBron James is spending his summer like a lot of fathers of children who play AAU basketball (or other travel team sports) — going to gyms, local and sometimes not so local, to watch his son play.
And Bronny Jr. can ball.
At age 13, he can almost dunk.
Gotta love LeBron’s reaction.
The Philadelphia 76ers are saying all the right things about Markelle Fultz — they are patient, they believe in his work with his new trainer to rebuild his jump shot, and they see him as part of the future. Plus, his handles look sharp.
That doesn’t mean the Sixers are not willing to trade him in their pursuit of a star player. In fact, he was available on draft night in packages, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Sixers say they aren’t shopping him. However, there was a report that they had internal discussions about packing him with Nos. 10 and 26 picks to move up into the Top 5 in Thursday’s draft. And multiple league sources have said that Fultz was available to be traded.
But it’s hard to get equal value in return for trading someone relearning how to shoot. The Sixers know that. They also know that if things do come together, Fultz will be a special player. He has the potential to become the type of player they would regret trading away.
Outside of a handful of superstars, every player in the NBA is available in a trade, at least in theory. Fultz is no different. The question in his case is what do they see as an upgrade vs. his potential?
Kawhi Leonard would be an upgrade, unquestionably. Fultz could be part of a package to land Leonard in a trade (Fultz, Robert Covington, the Miami 2021 first rounder, and probably more picks would be a starting point). Once the Spurs get serious about a potential Leonard trade (they are not there yet) how enticing that offer might be comes down to what they think of Fultz and his potential.
The Sixers are not shy about their desire to land an established All-Star to pair with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. If they don’t get Leonard, they will be looking at the next All-Star who becomes available, and Fultz could be part of those deals, too.
Fultz is not playing in Summer League for the Sixers, but if he comes back this fall trusting his jumper and starting to look like the player who was drafted No. 1 that trade value goes way up (and the Sixers may be less inclined to move him). It may be then before the Sixers can get a respectable return on any Fultz trade.
Bojan Bogdanovic is the kind of floor spacing shooter the Pacers need next to the attacking Victor Oladipo. He started 80 games for the team, scored 14.3 points per game and shot 40.2 percent from three.
Bogdanovic is due $10.5 million next season, but the Pacers can buy him out before next Friday (June 29) for $1.5 million.
They’re not going to do that, the Pacers are going to retain Bogdanovic, reports Ben Gibson at the Pacers site 8points9seconds.com.
The Indiana Pacers currently plan to retain Bojan Bogdanovic — whose contract is only partially guaranteed for next season — and would be comfortable going into next season with him as a starter, according to a source familiar with the Pacers offseason plans.
There’s no surprise here, it was expected. Bogdanovic provides genuine value to the team — they need him on the court as a shooter, he averaged the second most threes per game on the squad. And, as an expiring contract, he could be used in any potential trades for another star.
The Pacers also have a decision to make on Darren Collison, who is owed $10 million next season but has a $2 million buyout by July 1. They will probably keep him around.
Al Jefferson is owed $10 million next season but can be bought out for $4 million before next January 10. Expect the Pacers to exercise that option and buy him out well before that date.
When the expected became official and Carmelo Anthony opted to take the $27.8 million contractually owed him next season, there were groans from the Thunder faithful.
It was Anthony’s right — and everyone knew he was going to take the cash (we all would have done the same) — but his value on the court has shrunk and that’s what eats at the OKC faithful. Anthony’s response on Instagram was, essentially, “relax, it’s just basketball.”
It will be interesting to see if Anthony is back with the Thunder next season, or if he gets bought out. If he does return, how do they better fit him in the offense?
Anthony’s defense has long been a concern, but his offense used to be efficient enough, and his ability to create shots important enough, that teams lived with the defense. However, his efficiency has slid in recent years and, as we saw in the playoffs in April, it’s not enough anymore. The Thunder played better with other lineups. To which Anthony responded he has to get back to his old style of play more.
It’s going to be a wild summer in OKC. Whatever happens.