If you were trying to names coaches on the hot seat early this season, Flip Saunders name would come to mind. Because his Wizards squad is the lone winless team in the NBA, for one. Because even with John Wall and JaVale McGee in the lineup the Wizards have the very worst offense in the NBA so far (just 92.4 points per 100 possessions). Because the defense isn’t very good either. Because filling out the lineup card right escaped him.
But no, Saunders seat is pretty tepid.
Saunders was given the mandate to play the youngsters and take the lumps by management, so they are not going to fire him over the lumps.
Here is what owner Ted Leonsis wrote on his blog Wednesday in a post titled “Going as I expected.”
We are now 0 and 5 – but we are starting to play more as a team; and with more intensity and confidence. We have now started to get contributions from many players and I believe the team will now settle in and start to become more productive….
As I have noted many times before – the process we are undergoing will be quite difficult – it is messy; it is painful; but we have no other course of action to pursue; we have chosen to build through the draft – manage our cap space wisely and build a team for the long term around young players. We will make trades at the right time; we will keep our players that form our core long term; we will add free agents when we believe it is the right time. That is the plan.
It’s a good plan.
But the team has to show some growth and pick up wins at some point. I’m not suggesting Saunders should be on the hot seat, but if this team and it’s young core do not start to show some of that growth over the course of this season, the temperature of the chair should rise.
And please let this team run. Please. Wall is best in the open court, McGee and Andray Blatche can finish, and when Nick Young is healthy he is a great fit at that pace. But the Wizards are mired at 13th in the league in pace. Average. Pedestrian. Part of it is the defense but this team just needs to run like the wind every chance it gets.
Of course, what is going on in Washington is more than that. There are a lot of issues. Even the rookie from Europe recognizes things are not good. Here is what Jan Vesely told the Washington Post.
“It’s tough to sit on the bench and see the players, they are playing and they are playing bad,” Vesely said. “Of course, I want to try to help the team.”
It’s all just something to watch going forward.
Victor Oladipo is Indiana’s favorite son after the Indiana Pacers guard blasted through the competition during the 2017-18 NBA season.
Oladipo averaged 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and led the league with 2.4 steals per game. Oladipo’s 3-point shooting improved year-over-year, and his VORP skyrocketed in his new leadership role. Many feel the Pacers won the Paul George trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder thanks to Oladipo.
Thanks in part to his stellar play, Oladipo was invited to drive the pace car at the start of the 2018 Indianapolis 500. Turns out he was pretty good at it.
Oladipo is apparently going to be honored with the steering wheel from the pace car he drove. No doubt taking part in a classic local sporting event like the Indy 500 will help ingrain Oladipo into the sports fabric in Indianapolis even further.
Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul didn’t play in Game 6 on Saturday night. The Rockets failed to eliminate the Golden State Warriors, who forced a Game 7 with a 115-86 win in Oakland.
Paul’s status for Game 7 is still unclear, although things aren’t looking good. Paul’s hamstring injury will be hard to heal in such a short amount of time, even with round the clock treatment and the power of will the veteran point guard brings to the table.
The Point God has a tendency to get hurt at just the wrong time. Paul famously broke his hand in April of 2016, and along with Blake Griffin‘s quad injury, allowed the Portland Trail Blazers to get the better of the Los Angeles Clippers in the playoffs that year. Paul also missed two games against the Rockets in the playoffs with a sore hamstring in 2015, a series the Clippers and Paul lost in seven games.
The NBA is not blind to Paul’s bad luck, either. Opposing head coach Steve Kerr commented on it to reporters, outlining not only what he thought they might do rotationally but his feelings about Paul’s injury history.
“More than anything, I feel bad for Chris,” Kerr said before the Warriors’ 115-86 rout of the Rockets at Oracle Arena. “The guy’s a phenomenal player and competitor and pretty much willed his team the last two games. He’s just been haunted by these types of injuries in his career, and it’s a shame. I hate when anybody gets hurt.”
Kerr mentioned that he knew the reality of the situation is that by the end of the season, not everyone is going to be healthy. No doubt it’s a good thing for Kerr and the Warriors that Paul will likely miss Game 7. It’s unfortunate for a veteran like Paul, whose stellar career is dogged by unfair narratives of playoff failures.
Maybe Houston can try again next year when they have LeBron James?
Officially, Chris Paul is questionable for Monday’s Game 7 against Golden State.
Mike D’Antoni said the call on whether he can play will be made by team doctors on Sunday.
“The team doctors will check him out tomorrow morning and see how far he’s got (in his rehab) and what the possibilities are,” the Rockets’ coach said, adding that the doctors will make the call, not him.
Sources suggest there is pessimism about if Paul can play around the team, but with his competitive nature nobody wants to rule it out. Nobody is quite sure where things stand.
“I don’t think he’s tested it at all, so he’s just getting treatment and trying to make sure it calms down and everything,” D’Antoni said. “And I would think our doctors and trainers are working on him 24 hours a day almost, and they will tomorrow morning re-evaluate it again.
“If I get a nod from Chris and the doctors he’s good to go. Probably if any of those disagree he’s probably not going. I think it’s a game-time decision.”
The Rockets got off to a fast start without Paul in Game 6, led by Eric Gordon raining threes. However, the Rockets missed Paul’s defense and steadying influence when he has the ball as things started to go sideways in the second half — the tempo got up, the Rockets missed shots and turned the ball over, and Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson got hot. Paul may well have not been able to stop this run, but the Rockets would have had a better chance with him.
Without him, even with the Rockets at home, Vegas opened the Warriors as five-point favorites.
The name Bo Churney might sound familiar to you if you’re a member of NBA Twitter. A leading online voice around the Atlanta Hawks and a former writer for various outlets — including ESPN, Turner Sports, and Hardwood Paroxysm — Churney sadly took his own life last week.
The outpouring around Churney’s untimely passing has been significant. After his death, friends of Churney quickly decided to organize a fundraiser in his name, and in less than a week had $20,000 in donations from the online community.
The fundraiser will donate the money to Lost N Found Youth, an organization that helps at-risk LGBTQ youth in the Atlanta area. Churney had come out of the closet a few years before his death.
A lot of people have reached out asking if there’s anything they can do or help with after the death of our dear friend Bo Churney. We wanted to do something in memory of Bo in the Atlanta community that he loved and helped make a better, more fun place. Lost N Found Youth is an organization that provides outreach, crisis support, services, clothes, food, and safe shelter for homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth between 13-25 in the Atlanta area. Anything you can give would be tremendous or even sharing and spreading the word. Thank you.
As of writing there have been 473 donations in Churney’s memory, with people leaving messages and sums large and small. Churney’s impact was vast, and the fundraiser has been mentioned everywhere around NBA media including TV, newsletters, and articles like this one.
You can click the links above to donate to the Bo Churney Memorial Fund or directly to Lost N Found Youth.
If you need to speak to someone, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline here.