Five Takeaways from NBA Wednesday: Frustrated Alvin Gentry goes off. For him.

5 Comments

A full slate of games around the NBA, not many upsets but at least one very upset coach. Here is what you need to know from around the league.

1) Frustrated Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry: “We are not a good team.” If you were a Pelicans fan, the last few weeks you could talk yourself into “maybe, maybe they could come back and make the playoffs.” They had played a little better, other teams were banged up, so maybe if New Orleans got on a little run. Then Wednesday night happened. The night after playing double overtime, Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle decided to rest four starters Wednesday. Didn’t matter. The Mavericks still took control of the game in the third quarter and thanks to a dozen points from Raymond Felton in the fourth quarter (22 on the night) Dallas won 100-91.

That set Alvin Gentry off. Well, as much as the player-friendly coach is going to go off in front of the media. But he was ticked.

More, from the Times-Picayune:

“I don’t really know, to be honest with you. I wish I had answers. I don’t have answers, but we’re going to come up with answers. It’s not fair to the fans. It’s not fair to anybody for us to come out and have that kind of effort. It really isn’t. And when I say ‘us’ I mean all of us: coaches, players, everybody. It’s just not good. I’m really disappointed in the way we approached the game. We tried time and time again to say that it doesn’t matter who is playing and who is not playing. Usually in these kinds of situations, guys try to step it up anyway because they are trying to earn extra minutes. And we didn’t react. I wish I knew, but I don’t.”

The Pelicans started the season looking like a M*A*S*H* unit and never have gotten right, their offense has been pedestrian on the season and down from a year ago (when it was top 10). But last summer Gentry gave a lot of lip service to improving the defense, he brought in a defensive-minded assistant to lead that charge, and the Pelicans are worse defensively than a year ago. This team is worse. Certainly the blame starts with Dell Demps and the roster he put together (conventional wisdom around the league is his job is in danger). No doubt starting this summer there needs to be a roster overhaul. But Gentry is far from blameless here — he has put in his philosophy of ignoring the offensive glass (something Anthony Davis does well) to get back in transition defense and be better set on that end, and it hasn’t mattered. The Pelican defense is still a sieve. There needs to be some real soul-searching in New Orleans this offseason.

2) C.J. McCollum sits out Blazers game because of “clerical error.”
It is fairly common with teams for the team trainer to handle the official roster — the trainer has the final say on if a guy can or can’t play due to injury, so he fills out the roster sheet in consultation with the coach. Then the coach signs it, and away we go. Except the Blazers messed up and accidentally listed C.J. McCollum as inactive when he was set to play. That’s the sheet they turned in. Once the mistake was realized the Blazers tried to correct it, but Doc Rivers would not let them off the hook (and I’m okay with that, this isn’t U8 soccer where everybody plays nice).

The Clippers went on to a comfortable 109-98 win. Would Los Angeles have won if McCollum played? Probably. But the question is moot, the Blazers turned in the form saying their second best player was out and they had to live with the consequences.

3) Kyrie Irving is all the way back, watch what he does to Nene.
We told you the other day Kyrie Irving was all the way back, but if you need further proof we submit this:

4) Tweet of the night: Boris Diaw is awesome. From Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

5) LeBron James can still get do nasty things. Lest you thought the Cavs were all Kyrie right now, LeBron had 34 and owned the Wizards on Wednesday night.

LeBron James on Lakers clinching No. 1 seed: ‘They said I couldn’t do it’

Lakers star LeBron James
Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Lakers clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

LeBron James, via Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:

“They said I couldn’t do it.”

“I’ll enjoy this one,” James said, nodding as he grinned. “They said I can’t do it.”

The Lakers entered the season fifth in the West in over-under wins (behind the Rockets, Clippers, Jazz and Nuggets).

But nobody credible thought the Lakers couldn’t get the No. 1 seed. With LeBron and Anthony Davis, the Lakers obviously had that type of upside. Their championship odds were far more favorable. The main doubts stemmed from how seriously LeBron would take the regular season.

That said, in the age of social media, players hear both more praise and more criticism than ever before. LeBron surely heard from haters who ruled him out. Crowning himself the Washed King, LeBron probably internalized that fringe opinion.

Many players find slights to use as motivation. It worked for Michael Jordan. It works for LeBron.

But it does sound silly when an exalted player like LeBron talks this way.

Report: Larry Bird resigned as Pacers president because team didn’t spend enough

Pacers owner Herb Simon and executives Donnie Walsh, Larry Bird, and Kevin Pritchard
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Paul George said he left the Pacers because they weren’t willing to spend enough.

Apparently, he wasn’t the only one to feel that way.

Larry Bird resigned as Pacers president in 2017, citing a desire to do more things outside basketball. Yet, he also reportedly had another reason.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

Indiana is a small-market team that consistently has not gone out and paid big money. We know that this was something that frustrated Larry Bird, who is a legend in the state of Indiana and elsewhere, I might add. It frustrated him enough that he stepped aside.

Pacers owner Herb Simon has a certain way of doing things. Indiana hasn’t paid the luxury tax since 2006, the first year the tax line was set before the season.

Despite that, the Pacers have been pretty good. They’ve qualified for the playoffs nine of the last 10 seasons, peaking with appearances in the 2013 and 2014 Eastern Conference finals.

Still, Indiana has lost in the first round four straight years. Another first-round loss appears the most likely outcome for this season.

That’s not exactly satisfying for players who want to win championships. Spending big isn’t absolutely necessary to compete on the highest levels. But it helps.

Pacers star Victor Oladipo is approaching 2021 unrestricted free agency. He’s a competitor who’ll evaluate, among other things, whether his current franchise matches his ambitions.

It’s easy to spend someone else’s money. Simon can decide his own limits. But there are consequences of his spending restraint – especially as perception grows about his relative thriftiness.

J.J. Redick describes thought behind meme: ‘I was angry we got our butts kicked. It’s embarrassing’

Leave a comment

J.J. Redick has made the playoffs all 13 of his previous NBA seasons.

The Pelicans have put that streak in jeopardy.

New Orleans lost its first two games in the bubble, a nail-biter against the Jazz and a rout against the Clippers. During that loss to L.A., cameras captured Redick – on the floor exercising his back while out of the game – with a distant stare that became an instant meme.

Redick on ESPN Daily:

I was angry we got our butts kicked. It’s embarrassing, and I think my face summed up that first half pretty well.

There’s so many circumstances you could apply the emotions that I was going through in that moment.

Redick is right: That meme fits many occasions, which gives it staying power.

However, it has plenty of competition. Though the feelings displayed aren’t the exact same, Redick didn’t even have the best reaction inside the bubble by an exasperated NBA player. That belongs to Nuggets star Nikola Jokic:

At least Redick got reason to perk up. The Pelicans beat the Grizzlies yesterday to gain ground in the playoff race.

Darren Collison says talk of him playing for Lakers was “overhyped”

Leave a comment

Darren Collison shocked the NBA last summer when he walked away from the game at age 32 — and a likely contract in the four-year, $70+ million range — and retired. His reasons were legitimate, he wanted to focus on his religion — “While I still love basketball, I know there is something more important, which is my family and my faith,” Collison said at the time — but the league has seen a lot of players say they were walking away for good reasons only to come running back.

The rumors about a Collison return started just after January 1 and spun out of control in Los Angeles when he sat with Lakers’ owner Jeanie Buss at a game.

Collison stayed retired, and told the “Minute til 6” podcast it wasn’t even close. He was never coming back.

“To keep it 100, they overhyped the whole thing. Like, I wasn’t even thinking about coming back.”

That game he went to? He just came to watch his friend Russell Westbrook.

“I just wanted to come watch the game as a fan.”

Collison also is smart enough to know how him sitting with Buss would be perceived.

Collison was wanted. The Lakers run LeBron James at the point but could have used the veteran Collison in the role Rajon Rondo filled as a secondary playmaker (Rondo is currently out with a thumb injury). Collison was rumored to the Clippers as well, and Doc Rivers can always find a way to use more guard depth.

Collison, however, seems at peace with his decision. If he wanted to return, he would have done it last summer for 10 figures a season, not for the minimum in January.