Nick Young and Gilbert Arenas maintain strong friendship

4 Comments

From SI’s Chris Mannix, with a tip of the hat to The Basketball Jones and the DC Sports Bog:

Lately, [Young and Arenas] have been seeing each other plenty. In Memphis, the Clippers are staying at a hotel across the street from the arena, the same hotel Arenas moved into when he got to town. Young’s room is just a few floors above Arenas’, not that he spends much time in it. He’s downstairs, with Gilbert.

For hours Arenas and Young hang out, rekindling a friendship that was unceremoniously torn apart. They don’t do much. They watch television. They watch game film. And they talk trash. Arenas feeds Young disinformation (“We’re going to double you here”) and Young (“What do you know? You play like 10 minutes a game”) fires back. When they are hungry, they go eat. When they want to shop, they go to the mall. When they want coffee, they go to Starbucks together.

“Gil is like my family,” Young said. “His sons call me ‘uncle.’ It’s been really good to see him.”

Arenas and Young were, of course, teammates in Washington, which was a team with serious problems both on and off the court — problems which were often caused by Arenas and Young’s behavior, specifically Arenas’ decision to bring guns into the locker room. Now that both players have found their way into the playoffs, they’re putting their past behind them and focusing on their friendship, as well as the task at hand — beating each other’s teams.

Young was an integral part of the Clippers’ epic comeback win in game 1, as he came off the bench to hit 3 three-pointers in exactly one minute to cut the Grizzlies’ lead from 12 points to 3 points with just over a minute remaining. Arenas, who spent most of the season as an unsigned free agent, isn’t as important to his team as Young is, but he’s still being relied upon as a backup option at the point guard spot.

While we all love to see players battling it out on the court like nothing else matters, it’s also good to see stories like this, when we’re reminded that friendships can be more important than uniforms — at least until the opening tip.

Knicks say they scouted Giannis Antetokounmpo in Greece

Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s agent, Giorgos Panou, said the Knicks were the only team not to scout Antetokounmpo in Greece before the 2013 NBA draft.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

If the Knicks indeed scouted Antetokounmpo that thoroughly, it’s a shame they were smeared for not doing so.

Milwaukee took Antetokounmpo No. 13. New York had the No. 24 pick and kept it to draft Tim Hardaway Jr.

Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma scores 35, wins MVP, leads USA to victory in Rising Stars dunkfest

Leave a comment

CHARLOTTE — Nobody comes to the Friday night Rising Stars Challenge — the All-Star weekend showcase of first- and second-year stars — for the defense. Which is good, because there isn’t any. Zero. Nada. Your Saturday blacktop pickup game at the local park has guys that care more about defense than you see in this game.

What the Rising Stars has are dunks. A lot of big dunks. And some threes. Then more dunks.

For example, the Hawks’ John Collins was showing off why he was in the dunk contest, complete with a pass off the backboard to himself.

As for the game itself, the USA won 161-144 over the World.

The Lakers Kyle Kuzma raced out to 23 first-half points and finished with 35 to earn MVP honors.

“Last year I didn’t really play that hard,” Kuzma said of his first time in this game. “This year I just came out, one, I wanted to get some conditioning, and, two, why not MVP? You’re in the game. So might as well just try.”

Kuzma also broke out the windmill.

D’Aaron Fox said before the game he wanted to break the assist record for the Rising Stars, and while he fell short of that number he had 16 for the USA. Boston’s Jayson Tatum had 30 and Donovan Mitchell had 20 for the USA. Ben Simmons led the Word team of 28 points.

As for highlights, there were plenty.

Atlanta’s Trae Young hit six threes and had this dime.

He also had the play of the night, nutmegging Deandre Ayton.

Philly’s Ben Simmons had a couple of throwdowns.

The Timberwolves Josh Okogie had the putback of the night (teammate and All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns sat courtside wearing an Okogie jersey).

Hawks’ John Collins passes to self off backboard for dunk in Rising Stars

Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHARLOTTE — The NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge — the Friday night showcase of first- and second-year players during All-Star Weekend — has less defense than your lunch run pickup game at the Y. Even less than the All-Star Game itself.

Which leads to some monster dunks.

Enter Atlanta’s second-year big man John Collins, playing for the USA (vs. The World), who went off the backboard to himself for the best throwdown of the game.

That wasn’t Collins’ only quality dunk in this game.

He looks ready for Saturday’s Dunk Contest.

Report: Nuggets extend president Tim Connelly’s contract

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
1 Comment

On the same day the Pelicans fired general manager Dell Demps, the Nuggets extended the contract of president Tim Connelly, who went to Denver from New Orleans.

Nuggets release:

Nuggets President and Governor Josh Kroenke announced today that the Nuggets have extended the contracts of President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly and General Manager Arturas Karnisovas as well and also provided multi-year extensions for the entire basketball operations staff.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

I don’t know whether Connelly used the threat of the Pelicans job as leverage. But he deserved this extension, anyway.

The Nuggets have only continued to rise since his previous extension three years ago.

Denver has yet to make the playoffs under Connelly, and he declared this season postseason or bust. Denver (39-18) is second in the Western Conference.

Connelly made a second-round pick so good in Nikola Jokic, it altered the course of the franchise. Connelly has done well to lock Jokic onto a five-year extension, surround him with young talent like Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Monte Morris, Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez and get them a good coach in Michael Malone.

If Denver weren’t stuck barely missing the playoffs in the loaded West the last couple years, we might have been singing Connelly’s praises sooner. But his success is undeniable. The Nuggets are in great shape now and in the future, and Connelly should see that through.