MILWAUKEE — The Bucks aren’t going away quietly. They know they weren’t supposed to be here — Jason Kidd even acknowledged after the game that many of the reporters in the room didn’t have his team in the playoffs before the start of the season. But they’re making their presence felt, playing the Bulls tough and not letting them get anything easy. On Saturday, that tenacity finally paid off with a win: Milwaukee outlasted Chicago 92-90 to stay alive going into Game 5 at the United Center on Monday.
The Bulls’ 28 turnovers allowed for 39 Bucks points, and a few crucial plays down the stretch. An O.J. Mayo three was waved off for coming after the shot clock, but then he hit another one. And after the Bulls tied it up with a Pau Gasol three-point play, Jerryd Bayless won the game at the buzzer with this layup off a gorgeous out-of-timeout play call from Kidd:
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t want to put the blame on just that play — after all, how could he when the Bulls coughed up as many turnovers as they did?
“We beat ourselves,” Thibodeau said after the game.”
“Mistakes will happen, we just made too many of them throughout the game,” said Gasol. “We put ourselves in a position to try to win, but I don’t think we played with enough sense of urgency.”
The Bucks, meanwhile, showed no shortage of that. They had no other choice.
“If you lose, you go home,” said Mayo after the game. “I don’t think any of us are ready to go home. We lose one more game, our season is over, and we’re having a great season.”
Their season goes on, for at least two more days.
To facilitate a trade from the Rockets to the Suns last summer, Ryan Anderson reduced the guarantee of his 2019-20 salary by $5,620,885. Anderson barely played in Phoenix, got traded to the Heat, barely played in Miami and got waived. He again signed with the Rockets this summer.
Now, after barely playing in Houston, Anderson will continue his odyssey elsewhere.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Anderson was guaranteed $500,000 on his minimum-salary contract this season. By the time he clears waivers, he will have earned $434,704. So, assuming Anderson goes unclaimed, Houston will be on the hook for the remaining $65,296.
This might end the career of the 31-year-old Anderson. Once a premier stretch four, he no longer stands out in a league where 3-point shooting has become a common skill for power forwards. He’s also a major defensive liability.
Before Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet sparked an international geopolitical firestorm, it created a fissure in Houston. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta quickly tweeted that Morey didn’t speak for the organization. It was a harsh public rebuke that led to major questions about Morey’s future in Houston.
Especially because there was already concern about the Fertitta-Morey relationship.
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:
Though a couple of NBA executives speculated Morey might have greater difficulty attracting marquee free agents to Houston, few said that his ability to perform his job would be affected beyond having to placate Fertitta, a shotgun marriage that sources close to the Rockets have considered a tenuous fit since Fertitta bought the team in 2017.
Morey has been operating like someone who doesn’t believe he’ll be in Houston long-term. Morey traded the Rockets’ last four first-round picks. He traded multiple distant-future first-round picks and took on significant future salary to upgrade from Chris Paul to Russell Westbrook. Morey also gave a three-year-guaranteed contract extension to a 30-year-old Eric Gordon.
To be fair, Morey has also been operating like someone whose team’s championship window is closing. That could also explain repeatedly mortgaging Houston’s future. It’s difficult to parse the difference.
But the costs incurred to contend now have veered toward paying later than paying now.
Morey has kept the Rockets out of the luxury tax – a detriment to their on-court ability, but a boon to Fertitta’s wallet. There’s no reason for Morey to operate this way if not directed by the owner. Yet, Fertitta has claimed the luxury tax didn’t influence roster decisions. That’s totally unbelieve, but if taken at face value, Fertitta was throwing Morey under the bus for downgrading Houston’s roster.
It’s easy to read between the lines and see a disconnect between Fertitta and Morey. This is only corroboration, and considering Arnovitz describes his sources as “close to the Rockets,” it’s particularly persuasive.
But Fertitta signed Morey to a five-year extension earlier this year. Fertitta also stood by Morey during the China-Hong Kong controversy, calling Morey the NBA’s best general manager. Whatever problems between the two, Fertitta continues empower Morey in significant ways.
Danny Green is a quietly effective player. He shoots 3-pointers. He defends. He tries to build team chemistry.
I didn’t know he could do this.
Judging by how his Lakers teammates reacted, they didn’t know either.
Who gets a championship ring when a team wins a title?
Everyone on the roster for the playoffs, obviously. But what about guys who contributed a lot to the season but were traded away or cut before the playoffs started? Do they deserve one?
The Toronto Raptors will not be giving rings to the three players shipped out in the Marc Gasol trade, reports Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun.
Delon Wright, Jonas Valanciunas, and CJ Miles, the three players involved in the Marc Gasol deal at the trade deadline in February will not be getting rings the Sun learned.
Wright was asked pre-game on Saturday about it. He said he had not heard one way or the other but the very fact that he had not been asked for his ring size suggested to him that one would not be coming…
“It’s not an easy decision,” (Raptors GM Bobby) Webster began, “but, to be honest I think it’s standard. I mean we did our homework, we talked to teams and I think – I don’t remember – there was maybe one scenario where a team offered one. I think it was Anderson Varejao in Golden State but I think it was a really unique circumstance.”
The line does need to be drawn somewhere. The question really becomes, how much does a player need to contribute during the course of the season for it to make a difference in where the team ended up ultimately. Valanciunas played in 30 games for Toronto that season, started 10, and averaged 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds a game. Is that enough? Kyle Lowry reportedly reached out to Valanciunas about ring size, but that may not have been his place.
The team has made its call, and it does fall in line with how NBA teams generally handle the situation. Someone always ends up just missing out, but if the Raptors don’t make that deal for Gasol do they even make the Finals?