Warriors, Rockets feel regret about letting Jeremy Lin go

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Golden State had Jeremy Lin for a full season last year, but decided he just wasn’t going to work for them. Monta Ellis handles the ball a lot, Stephen Curry is the starter at the point and Golden State went another direction with his backup.

The Rockets had Lin earlier this season, but they also have Kyrie Irving (who should have been an All-Star) as the starter and Goran Dragic as the backup. They didn’t have room for him.

Think those teams are watching Lin now and feeling some regret? You bet they are, as they told Howard Beck of the New York Times.

“We always felt there would be some chance he’d be a backup point guard,” said Larry Riley, the Warriors general manager. “I have egg on my face in telling you that I did not think he was going to become a starting point guard with a good team. He’s doing that right now.”

Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ general manager, was even more blunt, declaring on Twitter: “We should have kept @JLin7. Did not know he was this good. Anyone who says they knew misleading U.”

Unless you are an All-Star level player (and sometimes even then), fit and system matter a lot in the NBA. Elite teams usually have a couple transcendent stars that would succeed regardless of the system, but the other 10 players are guys who fit well in the system the team runs. You pick players that way.

Lin is in a system that really fits him right now — the pick-and-rolls, the freedom to make decisions, the need for a point guard who can push the pace then get into the lane all play to Lin’s skill set. To use an easy example, Lin would wilt in the triangle offense (as would a lot of pure point guards, remember Gary Payton on the Lakers?). But Lin and D’Antoni are a match.

And the Knicks are a lot better off for it. And the fact the Warriors and Rockets didn’t realize what they had.

Russell Westbrook wears Craig Sager-inspired Jordan 1s

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The second anniversary of the death of NBA broadcasting legend Craig Sager is on Dec. 15 of this year, a span that has seemed too quick for those of us who grew up watching the colorful sideline reporter.

Sager passed in 2016 due to complications from leukemia, and the outpouring in his memory since from those around the NBA has been significant. While Sager is no longer with us, his memory lives on.

Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook pay tribute to Sager’s memory with a pair of custom Air Jordan 1s inspired by Sager’s famous sideline attire.

Via Twitter:

Sager was known for wearing crazy patterns, everything from hounds tooth to polka dost to tartan. I think Westbrook’s shoes paid fitting homage to Sager’s sartorial flair.

Perhaps Jordan would be willing to join forces and put the shoes on the market to benefit the Sager Strong Foundation? I’m sure these would sell well and come at a premium.

Karl-Anthony Towns misses free throw as Mavs fans chant ‘Jimmy Butler’

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Jimmy Butler is still a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, largely for reasons that are beyond the capacity of most rational NBA fans.

Butler continues to play with a team as they enter the beginning part of the season, although owner Glen Taylor and his front office are professing to still be looking for a suitable trade partner.

Meanwhile, the tension between Butler and teammates Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns must be palpable. It certainly has affected Towns at least in one way, as the Timberwolves big man missed a free throw after Dallas Mavericks fans chanted Butler’s name during one of Towns’ trips to the line

Via Twitter:

It’s hard to say whether Towns missed that free throw simply because of the chance or because sometimes guys miss free throws. Towns is an 84 percent shooter from the charity stripe, so you’d expect him to miss one once in a while.

Things continue to be weird in Minnesota, and this odd homeostasis can’t last for long.

Video appears to show Rajon Rondo spitting at Chris Paul

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Did Rajon Rondo spit on Chris Paul?

That’s the question everyone’s asking after Saturday night’s big brouhaha between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets which led to several objections and coming suspensions from the league office.

Various angles have been analyzed at length on social media, and indeed it was always apparent the NBA viewing public-at-large would get to the bottom of things. Around 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, we came to our logical endpoint.

Thanks to this new video, it does appear that Rondo spit at Paul.

Via Twitter:

The NBA league office is still reviewing the tape, but according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski they appear to have the clip in question in hand.

There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to the coming suspensions. First, how much Brandon Ingram will be penalized for instigating the entire thing with his shove in the back of James Harden. Ingram also came in with a flying punch to Paul’s face that might be looked at a bit more severely.

Second, both Paul and Rondo landed punches, but if Rondo indeed did spit on his competitor that’s a level of disrespect — not to mention responsibility for making the first move against Paul — that might get him a tougher sentence.

We haven’t seen a real fight in the NBA in some time, where actual punches were landed and things got more serious than just guys running between tunnels underneath Staples Center. How the league punishes these guys this early in the season will dictate to us in the future how they feel about this kind of tension spilling over into violence.

Check out Nikola Jokick’s perfect shooting triple-double

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Phoenix star rookie Deandre Ayton, welcome to the NBA. Please try to guard Denver’s Nikola Jokic in your second game.

That didn’t go well. Jokic finished with a triple-double of 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. However, it’s how he got there that was impressive: 11-of-11 from the field shooting, 10-of-11 from the free throw line, zero turnovers, four steals, and he threw in a blocked shot for good measure.

Jokic was +29 on the night and the Nuggets won 119-91. Denver is 2-0 to start the season.