Lakers fans are desperate. Mike D’Antoni is not that desperate. Yet.
Lakers fans have been dreaming up ways to shake up a lackluster team and some latched on to the leaked idea of Pau Gasol as a sixth man when he returns from rest to heal up his knee tendonitis.
Mike D’Antoni isn’t there yet, as reported by Dave McMenamin at ESPNLA.com.
“Not yet, that’s not what we need to be doing right now,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said of the possibility of using Gasol in a sixth man role. “We need to find him and Steve (Nash) in there together and look at it and make a good assessment. I envision him being really good at what he does at the four, so I don’t see that.”
“I’m not going to mess with Pau,” D’Antoni said. “He’s too important to the team and he’s earned it and he’s too good of a player to even go there. That would be a last resort kind of desperate (move).”
I understand where D’Antoni is coming from — he wants to see what it looks like when Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard all share the court.
But with the team 9-12 there is not a lot of patience in Lakers nation. And bad knees or no it was clear Gasol was uncomfortable in D’Antoni’s offense.
Gasol could come back during the Lakers four-game road trip this week, he has missed four games and gotten rest and treatment. He’ll try moving on the court again soon and see how he feels, D’Antoni said. There is no timetable yet for Nash, who has missed 19 games and could be back this week from his broken leg. Or not. Nobody knows.
But once he does, maybe then we will see what D’Antoni envisions. If it doesn’t work quickly, don’t be shocked if the “Gasol off the bench” talk resurfaces.
Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.
It apparently still happens.
Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:
After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”
This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.
It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.
Will Kyrie Irving stay in Boston? If not, what is Plan B?
Is Jimmy Butler back in Philadelphia next season? If he is will Tobias Harris be back?
What are the next steps to turn Denver into a contender?
I get into all of those things with the wise Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (and Celtics Blog, and Real GM), we break down those three teams recently turned out of the playoffs. We also start off talking about teams actually in the playoffs, particularly Toronto’s comeback in the Eastern Conference Finals, and how those teams can take advantage against the Warriors with Kevin Durant out.
As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.
We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.
Just four years ago, Nikola Jokic was a second-round pick still playing in the Adriatic League. Just three years ago, he was battling a struggling Jusuf Nurkic to be the Nuggets’ main center.
Yesterday, Jokic made the All-NBA first team.
Jokic has risen incredibly quickly. Before this season, he had never even been an All-Star.
That makes Jokic the first non-rookie in NBA history to make an All-NBA first team without a prior All-Star season (including ABA All-Stars).
The No. 41 pick in the 2014 draft, Jokic is just the fourth second-rounder to make an All-NBA first team since the NBA-ABA merger. The others: DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol and Marc Price.
For most players not immediately deemed to hold first-round talent, it takes a while to build stature in the NBA. Jokic made the All-NBA first team in just his fourth season. That’s way sooner than Gasol (seventh season), Price (seventh season) and Jordan (eighth season):
The Nuggets didn’t wait for this honor to make Jokic their franchise player. They gave him a near-max contract last summer, and by leading them into the second round of the playoffs, he triggered incentives to reach a max salary.
Denver has built a young supporting cast – mainly Jamal Murray and Gary Harris – to grow with Jokic. The Nuggets also signed veteran Paul Millsap, whose defense complements Jokic’s offensive-minded game.
So much is coming together so quickly for Denver, and Jokic’s honor is just the latest example.
Just after a rumor emerged about the Wizards trying to hire Trail Blazers president Neil Olshey…
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
It’s nice to be wanted. It always adds leverage in contract negotiations.
Olshey has done well in Portland, building a winner around Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum after LaMarcus Aldridge left. But Olshey’s job will get harder now.
Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless each have another season on the expensive contracts Olshey gave them in the wild summer of 2016. That’ll inhibit flexibility this offseason.
Then, Lillard is set to sign a super-max extension that will take effect in 2021. As great as Lillard is, it’ll be difficult building a contender around someone projected to earn $43 million, $46 million, $50 million and $53 million from ages 31-34. There’s so little margin for error, especially if ownership is less willing to pay the luxury tax than the late Paul Allen was.
But Olshey has earned a chance to handle these dilemmas.