It’s one of the “highlights” — and we use the term loosely — of Friday night of All-Star weekend: NBA rookies taking on NBA sophomores (officially called the Rookie Challenge). There’s a lot of showboating and not a lot of defense — basically a less interesting version of the All-Star game itself. But this year things may be different. We’re reserve our judgment on better, but different. Here are the rumblings, via Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.com.
There have been rumblings that this year’s Rookie-Sophomore game won’t pit the two draft classes against each other, but rather feature two teams with a combination of rookies and sophomores. We’re hearing that two TNT personalities – possibly Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal – will assemble the teams from the pool of selected players and coach the squads, as well. That means we could see Kyrie Irving throwing alley oops to Blake Griffin or John Wall running a fastbreak with MarShon Brooks.
All changes to such an event are made in an effort to improve the television product. So, Shaq mumbling coaching instructions and Ricky Rubio looking at his teammates and asking, “What did he say?” in much clearer English does have the potential to be a better product. And funnier. But we’ll withhold judgment. We’re not sure much of anything can save this game.
Tension between new Bulls coach Jim Boylen and his players boiled over Sunday. When Boylen called for a practice the day after a back-to-back, some players threatened to boycott. They ultimately compromised on a team meeting.
So, guard Zach LaVine met individually with Boylen.
LaVine, via Malika Andrews and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
“You just want to be real with people,” LaVine told ESPN. “There shouldn’t be any clouds. I think of myself as one of the leaders on the team. I just wanted to voice my opinion to them.”
“This is a business, this isn’t a dictatorship. We are all grown men, so everybody has a voice.”
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Boylen, via Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago:
“We had a situation over the weekend that could have been handled by a leadership group walking into my office and saying, ‘You know what, Coach? This is how we feel today. What do you think?’ That was the teaching moment,” Boylen said. “I’m juiced, man. I’m jacked up about it.”
A leadership committee sounds like the type of thing college teams have – which makes sense, because Boylen is treating the Bulls like a college team. Frequent and long practices. Harsh public criticism. Five-man substitutions. These are not normal power dynamics in the NBA.
Chicago players are already running thin on patience for Boylen. But he has plenty of job security. So, hopefully for everyone involved, he has learned as much as he indicates. He can’t keep coaching like this without inciting a mutiny.
Tristan Thompson has been one of the biggest bright spots in an otherwise miserable Cavaliers season. The center is averaging 12.0 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He has also taken on more leadership.
And now he’s out.
Cavaliers forward/center Tristan Thompson will miss approximately 2-4 weeks with a left foot sprain. Thompson was injured in last night’s road game at Milwaukee late in the third quarter
This will help Cleveland improve its draft position, though it’s not as if Cleveland (6-21) was having much issue losing even with Thompson.
At least the Cavs have plenty of options at center. Expect Larry Nance Jr. to take a larger role. Ante Zizic likely joins the rotation. Cleveland could dust off Channing Frye. Kevin Love might return before Thompson.
Seven of the top eight picks in the 2018 NBA draft are scoring double-digit points per game.
The exception: Magic center Mohamed Bamba.
Bamba certainly hasn’t been bad. He’s just acclimating to the NBA at a more common rate than peers like Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Deandre Ayton. This is an exceptionally good rookie class.
But this won’t help Bamba catch up. He missed Orlando’s 101-76 loss to the Mavericks last night.
Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel:
Bamba, who was suspended for a game for being late for the team walk-through at the hotel in Dallas on Monday
“It was a violation of team rules,” Clifford said. “It’s just a one-game thing. Mo will play again on Thursday, but that’s what it was.”
“It’s just bad on my part and I just need to be better … just gotta be on time,” Bamba said. “It’s very difficult because you want to be out there and impact the game in any way possible and hope for a different outcome.”
I doubt Magic coach Steve Clifford suspended Bamba for a single instance of tardiness. This was likely a culmination.
Orlando (12-15) is eighth in the Eastern Conference, in the thick of the playoff race. If the Magic are going to take advantage of the low bar for making the postseason, they need all hands on deck – including Bamba.
Lonzo Ball missed a layup early last night. That might have made him overthink later, when he was ahead of the pack on another fastbreak. Instead of shooting the open layup, Ball bounced the ball behind him without looking, leading to a turnover and open Heat 3-pointer.
On the bright side for the Lakers, they still beat Miami.
On the bright side for us, we got this great Luke Walton reaction GIF: