They don’t call him Iso Joe for nothing, kids. With the Nets really struggling to create offense once things got tight, Joe Johnson came to the rescue with multiple big buckets before hitting the really big one to finally put away a game Detroit Pistons team, 107-105 in double overtime.
There were a lot of takeaways for the Nets in this once, both good and bad. Brook Lopez looked rusty offensively in his return, but he was still able to log some solid minutes in his first game back. Gerald Wallace (25 points, 10 rebounds) was incredible on both ends of the floor, making huge defensive plays to supplement his trademark reckless forays to the rim. There were multiple times the Pistons would have put this game away had it not been for Wallace.
That’s the good. The bad? Deron Williams continued his struggles, and was exploited offensively by the Pistons’ legion of guards. Williams is a notorious slow starter — if you’ll recall, he did this last year as well — but many of his shot attempts aren’t even close right now. D-Will is shooting 38 percent from the field this year and 27 percent from the 3-point line (with 5.7 attempts a game), which puts him firmly in what I like to call, “Baron Davis territory.” To be fair, Williams does shoulder a lot of the load offensively and has to hoist a lot of attempts with very little time on the shot clock, but let’s call it like it is: he’s not playing like a max player right now, or even a very good one. Williams was 7-of-17 with 6 assists and 5 turnovers, but was really an afterthought in the two overtime periods, which is telling of where he’s at right now.
Of course, that’s why the Nets have Joe Johnson (28 points), a player that can use his size and strength to get his shot off at anytime. Tayshaun Prince isn’t the defender he once was, but in a tie game thanks to some previous heroics from Wallace, some missed free throws, an easy putback by Kyle Singler, a blown backcourt no-call by the refs, and a myriad of other big plays and big mistakes, he found himself all alone on an island with Johnson.
After playing a game-high 52 minutes, Johnson must have wanted off that island pretty badly. Here’s how he did it:
First Anthony Davis. Then James Harden.
Now add C.J. McCollum and Eric Gordon to the list, as reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
Don’t be surprised if a couple of new players are added to the USA roster for training camp.
The loss of those four stars strips the Team USA of some international experience. As pointed out by John Schuhmann of NBA.com, now only four members invited to USA camp have played in the World Cup or Olympics: Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, and Kyle Lowry — and Lowry just had thumb surgery and is questionable for the playing in China.
USA Basketball can still roll out this starting five:
Then off the bench have Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Lowry, Jayson Tatum, P.J. Tucker, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez.
That’s still enough talent, coached by Gregg Popovich, to win the World Cup. The USA remains the heavy favorites for a reason.
USA Basketball is scheduled to begin its pre-World Cup camp in Las Vegas Aug. 5, with an intrasquad exhibition game at the T-Mobile Arena on Aug. 9. Then the team heads to Southern California for more training followed by an exhibition against Spain on Aug. 16 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Then the team heads overseas for the World Cup, which begins in China on Aug. 31.
The Houston Rockets — not in an anonymous way, but in a “we are putting our names on this, quote me” kind of way — have pushed back hard on the narrative that there was tension between Chris Paul and James Harden that led to the Rockets trading CP3 for Russell Westbrook this offseason. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has denied it, team leader P.J. Tucker called it fake news, and Paul himself has pushed back.
Harden has done that again, speaking at his camp on Saturday.
The counter-argument to this: Chris Paul is in Oklahoma City right now.
People will believe what they want to believe, but the Rockets guys have all gone on the record about this. Nothing leaked and anonymous.
From the Rockets’ perspective, they made a trade for Westbrook that is a roster upgrade. Houston has a dynamic duo that can compete with the Los Angeles teams and the other contenders around the league, and whatever questions fans and the media may have about the ultimate fit of Harden and Westbrook the talent level is not in question.
Do the Rockets make that trade if everything is great between Harden and Paul? Probably, if they saw CP3 as in decline and Westbrook as a talent upgrade (which they did). The Rockets can be a cold, business-like organization in terms of their pursuit of a title.
We will see next season if that calculation paid off. Whether or not Harden and CP3 got along.
The Bucks can never have enough shooting around a driving Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Enter Kyle Korver. The veteran sharpshooter will be headed to Milwaukee on a one-year contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
This is a quality pickup at the minimum (it is a veteran minimum contract). Korver averaged 8.6 points per game last season, taking 72 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and knocking down 39.7 percent of them. The man has gravity and pulls a defender because even at age 38 defenders cannot leave him. Shooting is a skill always in demand.
The Bucks will start Wesley Matthews at the two and have Sterling Brown behind him. They have Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton at the three. Now they have some reliable veteran depth at those spots and a guy who can hit the big shot for them.
NBA players being minority owners in a soccer team is not new, LeBron James owns a small piece of Champions’ League winner Liverpool, for example.
James Harden is keeping it closer to home — he bought a share of the Dynamo, Houston’s MLS franchise.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future,” Harden said in a statement. “Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time. Soccer in general, and especially MLS, have exploded in this country throughout my lifetime. I’ve been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose.”
Harden reportedly purchased a five percent stake in the team.
The Dynamo — a former MLS cup champion and a franchise that has consistently been strong — is primarily owned by Gabriel Brener, and it has boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya as one of its minority owners.
Harden has earned more than $141 million in NBA salary in his 10 NBA seasons and has four years left on the $228 million contract extension he signed with the team in 2017. In addition, he has a large shoe contract with Adidas and other endorsements.