Why Tristan Thompson has worked so well for Cavaliers during run to NBA Finals

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Tristan Thompson had been a fine member of the reserve unit for the Cavaliers all season long, providing a steady amount of defense and rebounding anytime his number was called.

But since being inserted into the starting lineup during the playoffs, he’s turbocharged a Cleveland team that absolutely tore through the Eastern Conference on their way to the NBA Finals.

Once Kevin Love was ruled out for the season after the injury he suffered in Game 4 of the first round matchup with the Celtics, Thompson was immediately given a starter’s share of the minutes. He brings a very different dynamic to the team than Love does, and it’s why Cleveland has looked so dominant since Thompson was pressed into providing a heavier level of service.

From NBA.com’s SportVU Finals preview:

Offensive rebounding has been huge for the Cavaliers this postseason, as they’ve averaged 12.1 offensive rebounds per game this postseason, compared to 11.1 in the regular season. Tristan Thompson has been huge in generating these second chance opportunities, as he’s averaged 4.0 offensive rebounds per game this post season.

source:

The reason Thompson has been so impactful is because of just how much focus he puts into rebounding on seemingly every possession, and the numbers above show just how involved he’s been with such a high number of his team’s overall rebounding chances. As for his abilities on the offensive glass specifically, take a look at this play from Cleveland’s Game 3 win over the Hawks:

Notice how Thompson’s natural inclination, before the offense is even initiated, is to lurk along the baseline. Love is more relied upon for his offense, and is rarely if ever just hanging around under the basket, looking to secure rebounding position as things begin to develop.

The same is true as Thompson comes up to set a screen for Kyrie Irving. When Love does this, he pops out the majority of the time, in order to be in position for a jumper or three-point shot in the event the ball-handler decides to pass. Thompson will almost always roll toward the basket — sometimes, that can result in his being able to convert an alley-oop pass, but what’s more important is his getting closer to the rim to give himself the best chance of rebounding in the event of a missed shot.

Once the shot goes up, watch the way Thompson relentlessly battles Mike Muscala for the rebound, even though he doesn’t have the inside position. This is what Thompson does so well, and has been doing so consistently in these playoffs: Offensive rebounding is what Thompson is looking to do on every one of his team’s possessions.

When you go back through Love’s offensive rebounds, the fight is something that’s rarely seen, and most of them come to him on friendly bounces, or when he’s in a favorable position to be able to follow his own shot. It’s just not something that’s regularly on his mind.

This is not meant to slander Love’s ability, or his relative level of importance to the Cavaliers when he was healthy. Thompson simply provides a different skill set than Love does, but it’s arguably one that’s better-suited to his team’s overall needs.

Thompson has averaged 11.44 rebounds per game in nine appearances since replacing Love as a starter, and the Cavaliers are 8-1 in those contests. LeBron James, of course, has plenty to do with the team’s success during that span. But the way Thompson has elevated his game has made a huge difference, and the style Cleveland is playing at this very moment has the team primed for success in its matchup against the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

Andre Iguodala’s exit line on CNBC: “Nobody’s going to the Knicks. Sorry.”

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Andre Iguodala is a smart businessman who is heavily invested in tech startups (as are several Golden State Warriors players). That — and the fact he’s a famous NBA player — made him a good guest on CNBC’s Power Lunch show Monday.

Iguodala also has a few good connections to the thinking of the Golden State Warriors’ free agents Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Here is his response when asked about free agency and the Warriors on the show.

Of course, he said he expects Durant and Thompson to come back to the Warriors, what did you expect him to say? However, it was the exit line that got noticed:

“Nobody’s going to the Knicks. Sorry.”

More and more it’s looking like that.

Sources have said Thompson is staying with the Warriors since the start, he was never in play. Durant and the Knicks have been linked all season, but suddenly rumors of him going to Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving (and maybe Durant’s good friend DeAndre Jordan) have gotten a lot louder around the league. Brooklyn may be the frontrunner, with the Clipper still on the fringes of the conversation. The Warriors may be on the outside looking in.

The Knicks want a meeting with Kawhi Leonard, but that is a two-team race between the Raptors and Clippers, with Toronto seeming to have the edge after winning a title.

The smart play by the Knicks, if this happens, is not to spend wildly on the next tier of free agents but rather to sit on their cap space, develop and add to their young core, and wait for another star. That seems to be the plan, but how long before James Dolan gets impatient and forces something stupid to happen. For the Knicks, that’s always a concern.

Report: Atlanta trades Kent Bazemore to Portland for Evan Turner

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Portland is always on the search for some quality play and shot creation at the forward spots (something that is a long-running weak spot), and with this trade the Trail Blazers get a little better.

Atlanta is sending Kent Bazemore to Portland in exchange for Evan Turner in a straight up, two-player trade, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Both players are in the final year of their somewhat overpaid contracts, Bazemore will make $19.3 million while Turner will pull down $18.6 million. Atlanta does save about $640,000.

This trade makes a lot of sense for Portland. Bazemore is a quality wing rotation player who averaged 11.6 points per game, is athletic and can create shots. Last season Bazemore was on his way to a career year until a mid-season ankle injury, and while he did come back to the court he was never healthy and the same player. He’s not a knock-down three-point shooter but he has usually been at around 35 percent or a little higher five of the past six seasons (he was down to 32 percent last season because of the ankle injury). This is more than just Rodney Hood insurance, this is an upgrade.

Turner was the guy Portland counted on as another shot creator, but he could not do that consistently or under pressure. He averaged 6.8 points per game last season, shot 21.2 percent from three, and is not a great defender. He is a popular teammate and good in the locker room (something useful with a young Hawks squad), but this is not an upgrade for the Hawks.

Then why did Atlanta make this trade? Good question. The franchise does save $640,000, which is helpful but not earth-shattering. Maybe it’s a favor to Bazemore to get him on a team that went to the Western Conference Finals a season ago and is a threat going forward. However, the best reason may be the Hawks have three young players they like — Kevin Huerter, plus just-drafted DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish — at the same spot and this frees up minutes for them to play.

Whatever the reason, the deal can get done soon, before free agency opens.

Knicks fined $50K for violating NBA’s media rules

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Knicks owner James Dolan escalates fight after fight after fight after fight after fight after fight after…

One of his latest battles has been with the New York Daily News, the newspaper that urged him to sell the team. The Knicks have repeatedly denied Daily News reporters access. Barring the Daily News from a recent press conference apparently crossed a line.

NBA:

The NBA announced today that the New York Knicks have been fined $50,000 for violating the NBA’s rules regarding equal access for media.

The Knicks did not allow the New York Daily News access to their post-draft press conference on Friday, June 21 while allowing all other credentialed media who cover the team to attend.

The organization has agreed to comply with NBA Media Access Rules moving forward.

The Knicks released this statement:

“The Knicks acknowledge that we did not comply with the NBA’s media policy, and made an error in interpreting Friday’s announcement as an invite only event.  As we do throughout the year, we have and will continue to provide access to credentialed media as per the League’s policy.” <

This has been a dumb plan by the Knicks. Even executed as designed, it makes them look bad.

The Knicks should be trying to generate enthusiasm around No. 3 pick R.J. Barrett and double-max cap space (which could turn into Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving). Instead, the Knicks are drawing attention to their thin skin and pettiness. And they’re not stopping the Daily News from writing about the team, anyway.

For Dolan, a $50,000 fine is small. But it’s larger than my confidence his franchise will abide by the league’s media rules – which are designed to ensure fans receive information – going forward.

Rumor: Kevin Durant not happy with Warriors

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Kevin Durant‘s torn Achilles in the NBA Finals is the type of life-changing event that could significantly alter his thinking entering free agency.

But we don’t know how Durant was thinking before the injury. And we don’t know how he’s thinking now. He has yet to speak publicly.

That won’t stop rumors, though.

Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report:

the indication from several league sources is that Durant is not happy with the team, and the presumption is that it stems from whatever role Warriors officials played in his decision to suit up. Coach Steve Kerr says he was told Durant could not further injure himself by playing, which obviously proved not to be true. If Durant was told the same, it would give credence to the notion that, as one league executive claims, “He’s really pissed off at the Warriors.”

Jay Williams, who’s close with Durant, said the Warriors misdiagnosed Durant and mishandled public statements about him. Williams doesn’t necessarily speak for Durant, but that might be the best indicator so far of Durant’s mindset.

Do Bucher’s sources have other reason to believe Durant is upset with Golden State? Or are they just assuming Williams is representing Durant’s thoughts? The possibility of the former is what makes this intriguing. But I’m skeptical, especially of someone Bucher identifies as just “one league executive.” That’s light credentials for someone spewing rhetoric like “really pissed off.”

Still, Kendrick Perkins and Brian Windhorst reported on momentum building toward Durant to the Nets. There’s plenty of smoke behind the idea Durant will leave Golden State.

Re-signing with the Warriors might be the way for the injured 30-year-old to maximize his earnings, though. Their max offer projects to be worth $221 million over five years. Other teams’ max offers project to be worth about $164 million over four years. Durant could agree to a delayed sign-and-trade. Of course, he couldn’t actually guarantee Golden State would ever trade him.

So, if he’s that upset with the Warriors, he’ll just leave once free agency opens next week.