We need to start with this note: Paul Millsap will be a free agent next summer. Unrestricted, he can go where he pleases.
Now jump ahead to Sunday night, when the Jazz were on the road against the Clippers. Two nights before against the same team, Jazz coach Ty Corbin heard criticism for leaving Al Jefferson in for a key defensive play at the end of the game rather than subbing in Derrick Favors, a superior defensive big man.
Sunday night Corbin got Favors a lot more playing time late — by benching Millsap for the entire fourth quarter. Guess how that sat with Millsap?
From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Favors, the gem of 2011’s Deron Williams trade, scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 28 minutes, while Millsap was held to 9 points and 2 boards in 20.
Asked if he was frustrated not to play the entirety of a fourth quarter in which the Clippers’ lead ballooned from 3 to, at one point, 13, Millsap snapped, “What do you think?”
Corbin is a coach searching for anything that works — his team is 3-7 in their last 10 and has lost three in a row. And they had back-to-back games against the hottest teams in the NBA. Corbin was throwing anything and everything against the wall to see what stuck.
Corbin needs to sit down and explain that to Millsap. Give him the whole “you’re a key part of our future” speech.
But this is the kind of things that cause a lot of teams to call and probe and see if Millsap might be available by trade. Expect the Jazz to move him or Al Jefferson by the deadline and try to lock down the other this summer.
Dwyane Wade is secure in his legacy. He’s an all-time great, and an extra missed 3-pointer during his farewell tour won’t change anything. (It doesn’t hurt that his resumé already includes subpar 3-point shooting.)
So, when many players would hold the ball, Wade heaved in a halfcourt shot to end the third quarter of the Heat’s 110-105 win over the Spurs on Wednesday. It wasn’t the biggest shot of Wade’s season, but it still mattered plenty.
Miami’s lead when San Antonio began intentionally fouling late? Three.
The Grizzlies blew a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter and a five-point lead in the final 30 seconds of overtime. James Harden scored 57 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter and all 10 of the Rockets points in overtime.
But Jonas Valanciunas saved Memphis from total collapse. He drew a foul on his putback and hit the game-winning free-throw with 0.1 seconds left to give the Grizzlies a 126-125 win Wednesday.
Jimmer Fredette remains a fascination because he scored a ton at BYU eight years ago and… other reasons.
He has been lighting it up in China, and his season there just ended. Now, the former No. 10 pick could return to the NBA after three years away.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Phoenix still needs another point guard, and the 6-foot-2 Fredette looks like one. But he hasn’t shown the playmaking to play point guard regularly. He’s better, and sometimes even effective, off the ball.
Fredette could have stuck in the NBA with a different attitude. His long-distance shooting was an asset.
But he’s also now 30 years old. A new approach likely won’t be enough. His shortcomings, particularly defensively, will be even more pronounced as his athleticism has declined.
The Suns are bad and will remain bad, with or without Fredette. But their younger players have shown signs of progress lately. Fredette’s high-usage style could interfere with their development.
It’s hard to see the upside here other than a brief uptick in attention.
Marcus Smart recently bemoaned the lack of physicality in the NBA.
After Joel Embiid dropped his shoulder into him on a screen, Smart brought some to tonight’s Celtics-76ers game.
Smart shoved Embiid in the back, sending the center to the floor. A cheap shot? Yes. Embiid wasn’t looking. But Smart would surely argue Embiid started it. I also doubt Smart intended to push Embiid from behind. Smart just wanted to get at Embiid as quickly as possible, and Embiid happened to be facing the other way when Smart arrived.
Smart got a flagrant 2 and the accompanying ejection. Embiid received a technical foul.