Much earlier in the season, most teams go to a set rotation — guys know pretty much how many minutes they will get a night, when then will get rest, when they are going to come off the bench and so on. There are variations, but the outline is in place.
Not so much in Sacramento.
Even this late in the season Keith Smart is experimenting, tweaking and going nightly with what he thinks works rather than a pattern. Smart’s moves often seem a reaction to the other coach’s proactive moves, not trying to create an advantage for himself. Why did DeMarcus Cousins play just seven minutes Friday night?
Players like routine. Speaking with James Ham at Cowbell Kingdom they said the random rotations leave them guessing.
“It’s just tough as a player,” starting point guard Isaiah Thomas said following Friday night’s loss to the Mavericks. “I always say that when you have inconsistent minutes, you’re going to have inconsistent production.
“It’s nothing we can control,” Thomas continued. “It’s how coach Smart likes to coach and you just got to go with it and always be ready at all times, because you never really know when you’re going to go in the game or come out…”
“A little bit, it’s a little frustrating,” Tyreke Evans said when asked if Smart’s rotations were wearing on him. “Everybody’s frustrated. This is the NBA and when the rotation don’t go right for us, we’ve got to be professional. We’ve got to learn to hear our coach. If he don’t make the right subs with somebody, you can’t be mad. Whoever’s out there just got to work.”
It may be frustrating but it almost certainly will not be an issue next year. No matter what happens with the team’s ownership or where they are playing next season — Sacramento or Seattle — there will be sweeping changes in the front office and likely with that in the coaching ranks. The only question is when (not long after the new owners get control) but not if.
There are Lakers fans that balked at the idea the franchise would trade their best three young players — Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball — for Anthony Davis. Those fans thought that (plus first round picks and salary filler) was too steep a price.
Kobe Bryant disagrees.
Kobe is on a global tour (he was just in China to help with the draw for the FIBA World Cup) and there spoke with the Spanish language sports powerhouse AS.com, and when asked about the possible trade for Davis and the impact on the team, Kobe said this (hat tip Reddit user hoodiefern for posting and translating):
“Kuzma, Lonzo, Ingram… are the three of them better than Anthony Davis? No! Ciao! Bye! Anthony Davis is one of the best players in the world. Not currently, in history. What are we talking about? If you can trade for Anthony Davis, you do it. If not, alright. We have three players who are very young and work hard. They’re smart and they have to develop. But if you can trade for Anthony Davis… yes!”
In the NBA, talent wins and Davis is as talented a player as the league has when unleashed (he has been reined in with the Pelicans since the trade deadline). Put Davis next to LeBron James and the Lakers can quickly become a genuine threat in the West. Whether New Orleans is willing to play along is another question, which is why the Lakers also are focused on free agency.
Elite talent alone is not enough — a lesson the Lakers brass did not take to heart this season. Stars such as LeBron and Davis (or Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, etc.) can thrive in any system because of their talent, but around them needs to be a system and role players picked to fit said system. Want to run a lot of pick-and-roll and/or isolations? Better get shooters who can knock down kick-out passes. Want to play uptempo? Better get athletes who thrive in that system, and shooters. Back in Kobe’s era, the Lakers were a triangle team but the non-stars fit the system and were good shooters of the era (think Derek Fisher, a guard who fit the triangle well but did not thrive in other systems).
Kobe gets that, but he knows the hardest part of the equation to get is the elite talent because there simply isn’t much of it.
The Lakers should be willing to trade their young players for a talent upgrade, but beyond that they still need an identity and players who fit whatever that identity/system is. Oh, and they need shooters.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis Grizzlies guard/forward C.J. Miles is expected to miss the remainder of the season after injuring his left foot over the weekend.
Miles left a 135-128 loss to the Washington Wizards on Saturday due to left foot soreness. The Grizzlies announced Tuesday that an MRI revealed a stress reaction.
The 6-foot-6 Miles appeared in 53 games this season for the Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. The Grizzlies acquired him from Toronto in the Marc Gasol trade Feb. 7.
Miles came off the bench in 13 games with the Grizzlies and averaged 9.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 22.6 minutes.
With his recent outburst at hecklers in Utah, Russell Westbrook ignited a long-overdue discussion of how fans interact with players during games. The Jazz even recently banned a fan who repeatedly called Westbrook “boy” last year.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t an isolated case of that racist language being used toward a player.
Pistons Blake Griffin confronted a fan in Minnesota in December.
Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
The fan was seemingly ejected. The Timberwolves didn’t respond to questions whether he faced additional punishment.
I’m all for good-natured heckling. Racist taunts are completely unacceptable – and maybe still more common than we realized. Because Griffin didn’t get as enraged as Westbrook on video, this got swept under the rug.
It shouldn’t be Griffin’s responsibility to fix this. Teams must do a better job holding accountable fans who cross the line.
Jim Boylen is making friends within the Bulls.
Outside the organization? Not so much.
Boylen and Doc Rivers got ejected for yelling at each other during the Clippers’ win over Chicago on Friday. Rivers blamed Boylen for instigating.
Then, Boylen called timeout with the Bulls up 14 and 40 seconds left against the Suns last night. Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov appeared to take exception.
The Suns intentionally fouled, stopping Chicago from running its after-timeout play. As the game ended, Boylen gave the customary wave to the opposing coach – and was clearly rebuffed.
Kellan Olson of 98.7 Arizona Sports:
Was Boylen trying to rub in the victory? He pulled his starters during the timeout, giving him plausible deniability. It’d also be reasonable to use the timeout as a teaching opportunity for running an after-timeout play.
But the Suns don’t have to like being used for practice. They’re in the midst of a trying season, especially Kokoskov. His bitterness is understandable.
I don’t think either coach was wrong here. Both were doing what was best for their teams. The Bulls should get experience running situational plays. The Suns should find motivation to no longer get treated like a pushover.
Boylen strayed further from the accepted norms, but I rarely support unwritten rules. If the Suns didn’t like it, they should have done something about it – which they did by fouling to stop Chicago’s play. It was petty, but it was well within their rights. Just like the Bulls were calling timeout.