Kings players on Paul Westphal’s offense: “What offense?”

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“What offense?”

When the guy who is supposed to be the anchor in the middle for your franchise for the next decade says that about the team’s offensive system, you’ve got a serious issue. You’ve got a coach on the hot seat.

You’ve got Sacramento.

In the race to the bottom for the first coach fired this year, Knicks fans were hoping that Mike D’Antoni was leading the way, but then Flip Saunders surged when he couldn’t fill out the lineup correctly (plus the Wizards are a mess).

Paul Westphal should have been on the hot seat last offseason, but in Sacramento there were much bigger issues to focus on than the coach. Like keeping the team in Sacramento. But there still seems to be plenty of friction between staff and plyers, enough friction to make the coach’s seat hot. Here are some player quotes from the Sacramento Bee after Saturday’s thumping at the hands of D’Antoni’s Knicks (hat tip to Tom Ziller at SBN):

“What offense?” DeMarcus Cousins replied when asked about the Kings’ most obvious weakness. “I really don’t want to say anything.” He shrugged. He shook his head. He exhaled. He ducked under a towel. His body said plenty….

“It seems like everybody is out there for themselves. He (Westphal) says to push the ball, but it’s like when the first pass gets through, we’re done,” Tyreke Evans said.

Then from another Bee article:

“I just try to get open as I can and create,” Evans said. “It’s no real set for me, nobody really in the offense. Just pass, cut. We lost; nobody really knows what to do. I think that’s what’s really hurting us right now.”

Westphal’s contract runs through the end of the season and in cost-conscious Sacramento that may be enough to keep his job until then. But right now there is a team in central California with real potential that seems to just be adrift, and as the losses mount pressure to make a change will grow. Fast. This is a team that should be better than it has looked this season (or last, frankly).

Vince Carter to be second-oldest opening-game starter ever

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Vince Carter is 42 years old. He’s more than a decade older than all his Hawks teammates. He was drafted before Atlanta point guard Trae Young was even born.

Yet, after all these years, Carter is still starting in the NBA.

JuliaKate E. Culpepper of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Rookie Trae Young will start his first regular-season NBA game alongside expected starters Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince, Vince Carter and Alex Lin.

When Atlanta visits the Knicks tomorrow, that will make Carter – 41 years and 264 days old – the second-oldest opening-game starter ever. Only Robert Parish – who was 42 years and 65 days old with the 1995 Hornets – was older.

Here’s every opening-game start by a player over 40:

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Don’t expect Carter to challenge Parish’s record next year. Carter said he’ll probably retire after this season. Even if he bucks the odds to play again, odds are strongly against him being on a team that’d start him.

But tomorrow will give Carter one more accomplishment in his incredible career.

Austin Rivers: Everybody, ‘so f—ing gassed up on the Celtics and the Sixers,’ overlooking Wizards and Pacers

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We picked the Celtics, Raptors, 76ers and Bucks to be the top four teams in the Eastern Conference this year and ranked the Wizards and Pacers next. If that’s not the consensus, it’s close to it.

Wizards guard Austin Rivers, via James Herbert of CBSSports.com:

“I think we’re heavily slept-on,” he tells me. “Team’s been to the playoffs, what, the last five, four or five years? Then going into this year, you add me, Dwight Howard, Jeff Green and nobody seems to talk about us. So I just think we’re heavily slept-on, but that’s fine. At the end of the day, nothing really matters until the season starts and we set that tone for ourselves. I get the hype of a couple of the other teams, but I think we have a chance to compete with the best of the East.”

I tell him I recently spoke to Tyreke Evans, who said something similar about the Indiana Pacers. Rivers gets more animated.

“Yeah, I would say Indiana’s the other team that gets slept-on, too,” he says. “You look at Indiana, they took Cleveland to seven games and then damn near, arguably could have beaten them.”

Rivers rattles off Evans’ stats from last season, then continues: “That’s who they just added to the team? And nobody seems to talk about the Pacers because everybody’s so f—ing gassed up on the Celtics and the Sixers. And rightfully so: they’re both talented teams. But Indiana is just as good as both those teams. And I think we’re in the same situation.”

I agree the Wizards and Pacers had positive offseasons. But Indiana might have been punching slightly above its weight as a surprise team last year, and Washington’s problem has often been overconfidence.

In that regard, Rivers – acquired in an offseason trade from the Clippers – is already fitting right in. The brashness might be good for Rivers, but it’s not what the Wizards need.

Washington could have a good season. John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter are a strong starting point in the Eastern Conference, and Dwight Howard could help with the right attitude and health. Rivers is a quality reserve. But let’s pump the brakes on calling Jeff Green a key addition, though Rivers would be only one of many – including someone in his immediate family – to make that error.

Report: Klay Thompson doesn’t plan to give Warriors discount

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Klay Thompson, who will become an unrestricted free agent next summer, has said many times he plans to stay with the Warriors. He even discussed signing a contract extension, which would have capped his compensation far below what he could get in free agency.

But Thompson is apparently no longer interested in offering Golden State that savings.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Thompson has no plans to take a discount, and the Warriors don’t expect him to, league sources say.

Thompson’s max next summer projects be about about $221 million over five years if he makes an All-NBA team (or wins Defensive Player of the Year) this season or about $190 million over five years if he doesn’t.

That’s a steep bill, but the Warriors have little choice but to pay it. They’re in the midst of maybe the greatest run in NBA history, and they’re generating massive revenue. Cheapness would be a terrible reason to break up this team. Thompson is a key contributor, and at least his outside shooting should help the 28-year-old age well.

But costs will get steep in a hurry. If the Warriors re-sign Thompson and Kevin Durant next summer and Draymond Green the following summer to max – not even supermax – deals, keep Stephen Curry then fill the roster with 10 minimum-salary free agents, their projected payroll in 2020-21 would be… about $288 million, including about $115 million in luxury tax. That might be untenable, even for Golden State.

Perhaps, Durant will take one decision out of the Warriors’ hands. But if Durant stays and Thompson seeks every penny, Green could face a belt-tightening team in 2020 free agency.

Spurs waive Manu Ginobili, will likely continue paying him into retirement

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The Spurs are still paying Tim Duncan, who retired in 2016.

It seems they’ll also give Manu Ginobili, who retired this summer, a similar golden parachute.

Duncan will earn $1,881,250 this season, the final installment of his three years of post-retirement income. When he retired, Duncan had one season remaining on his contract with a $6,393,750 salary. San Antonio didn’t have to pay him that money. Duncan wasn’t coming to work anymore. But the Spurs graciously allowed the all-time great to receive all but $750,000 of his remaining salary and stretched the payments over three years. That money still counted against the cap and was paid despite San Antonio trying to clear cap space in both 2016 and 2017.

The Spurs waived Ginobili yesterday, and no word has emerged on a buyout amount. He was due $2.5 million this season.

Based on the process and Duncan precedent, it seems highly likely Ginobili will continue to draw paychecks from San Antonio.

The Spurs would do well to pay Ginobili all his money this season, whether it’s the full $2.5 million or a negotiated reduced amount. They’re already over the cap and still below the luxury-tax line, so there’s minimal flexibility harm. The only other option – stretching Ginobili’s payments into equal thirds over the next three seasons – could interfere with roster building in future years.

Of course, the other option was getting Ginobili removed from the books entirely. But it seems that route has passed with waiving him.

San Antonio wants to treat its legends well, and that means paying them more than necessary – even with that money counting toward the cap as the Spurs transition into their next era.