There were plenty of positives for New Orleans in its Saturday night preseason opener in Louisville — Ryan Anderson looked good, hitting 4-of-9 shots, Jimmer Fredette scored 17 points, Luke Babbitt had 15, plus Russ Smith dropped 12. But all you really wanted was to get out of this contest against the Heat healthy.
They had a scare at one point: Anthony Davis left the game after injuring the index finger of his left hand.
But it appears not to be serious.
That’s good news for the Pelicans. And they were right not to put him back out there.
Count me in the group that thinks New Orleans is going to make the playoffs this season. Probably. This is the brutal Western Conference but if any other team slips this team is poised to step into their spot.
But they need a fully healthy Davis for that to happen.
Better pay. Better working conditions. Not to be treated as disposable parts by their employers.
The players in the G-League want the same thing out of a union that auto workers, teachers, and (most obviously) NBA players do. As had been expected (talks had been going on for a while), on Monday the National Basketball Players Association (the NBA players’ union) voted to support the formation of a G-League union, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The G-League players are expected to support this. Sources have told NBC Sports that team and league officials will not oppose the players unionizing, they believe there will be benefits, too.
The primary issue will be pay. Most players in the G-League earn a $35,000 salary, unless they’re an elite high school prospect, or on a two-way contract (which means they are tied to an NBA team and can be called up for 45 days a season). Some players make more through an Exhibit 10 contract with a team — meaning they go to training camp with a team, then get a bonus ($50,000 or so) if they sign with that team’s G-League team.
Other issues would include freedom of player movement, work benefits, and giving the players a voice in other matters like discipline issues.
The NBA continues to push toward each of its teams having a minor-league affiliate. Right now, only the Trail Blazers and Nuggets do not. As the G-League grows, it’s understandable the players want a larger voice in how things are run.
In other news out of the players’ union meeting, Kyrie Irving was voted in as vice president, replacing Paul Gasol. Via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Chris Paul remains the union president.
CHICAGO — In a weekend filled with spectacular tributes to Kobe Bryant, this one stood out.
Legendary rapper, songwriter, record producer, and businessman Dr. Dre — a guy who grew up in Los Angeles — released a tribute that stood out (and was highlighted on TNT). Dre did this with Gibson Hazard and Jackson Bannon.
Kobe’s public memorial service takes place Feb. 24 at Staples Center.
CHICAGO – James Harden has griped about Giannis Antetokounmpo winning Most Valuable Player last year.
After his team lost to Harden’s in the All-Star game Sunday, Antetokounmpo got in a dig at Harden.
“Offensively, we were just trying to find whoever James Harden was guarding,” Antetokounmpo said of his team’s strategy late. “That’s who we thought we’d have the opportunity to score on.”
Harden is not a good defender. But this is playing right into his hands. He’s at his best in isolation, especially in the post. He faces far more difficulty when run through actions off the ball or trying to keep up in transition.
Down the stretch, Harden defended more effectively than usual. Not great, but above his usual standard. Good enough for LeBron James‘ team to win.
At least, as Giannis previously noted, the MVP trophy is at his house.
John Beilein is considering resigning as Cavaliers coach.
They play Friday.
Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst of ESPN on Sunday night:
The Cleveland Cavaliers and John Beilein have discussed the possibility of the coach stepping down before the end of the All-Star break, and Beilein was expected to reach a decision in the next 24-48 hours, league sources told ESPN.
This is part of the larger problem with Beilein, but this wouldn’t be a difficult transition. Assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff already does so much. And players see Bickerstaff – who previously head-coached the Grizzlies – doing so much.
In his long career as a college head coach, Beilein never had a player on a clear NBA track from the moment he arrived on campus. Beilein has so little first-hand experience with NBA players’ temperaments, which can include disrespecting a head coach and turning to an assistant.
With this report public, it’s hard to see how Beilein maintains any credibility with Cavs players if he returns. When players know the coach is finished by the end of the season, they sometimes take license to rebel. Add the dynamic of knowing Beilein considered resigning earlier, and the last couple months of the season could be even messier than the first few.
At best, everyone would accept this miserable arrangement will end soon enough. Players would tune out Beilein and not make waves. And that’s at best! Not an ideal way to develop young players like Darius Garland, Collin Sexton and Kevin Porter Jr.