In a season of disappointments in New York, none was bigger than Joakim Noah.
There was plenty of scoffing around the league in the summer of 2016 when Phil Jackson signed the oft-injured, already declining Noah to a four-year, $72 million contract that was seen as one of the worst of a summer (and it was an ugly summer for contracts). He only played in 46 games, averaging 5.5 points on 49 percent shooting, plus 8.8 rebounds a game in those (and basically being averaged on offense and a step slow defensively). He missed time with a rotator cuff surgery and got a 20-game suspension for testing positive for Androgen (he has 13 of those games left and can’t play until Nov. 13).
Noah realizes how poorly last season went he told the “Truth Barrel’’ podcast, doesn’t think Jackson deserves all the blame, and said his goal is to make it up this season (hat tip The New York Post for the transcription).
“It’s tough, man, because I got a lot of love and respect for Phil,’’ Noah said. “He gave me an opportunity to play back home. Somebody I read all his books as a kid. I was just a big fan and still am. I have a lot of respect for him. It didn’t work out. That sucks. It’s something I have to live with. He believed in me, and I kind of let him down. That’s frustrating. He got a lot of blame that it was his fault. But we didn’t lose all those games because of Phil Jackson…
“I went through a lot of adversity,’’ Noah said. “You go through injuries. I lost my confidence this year. It’s about bouncing back and showing who I am through these tough times. It can really show what you’re made of.”
This is the only attitude Noah should have — look forward, get healthy, and look to right his wrongs next season.
Once he finishes his suspension, Noah likely will come off the bench behind Willy Hernangomez. (The Knicks should spend more time with Kristaps Porzingis at the five, but that’s another discussion.) Noah is going to get his chances, but nothing he has shown the past few seasons should have Knicks’ fans expecting a return to form. Noah has been an average to below-average player for a couple of seasons, he’s not moving the same way, and he’s not getting younger.
Noah can still have a positive impact on this team, he has a role to play, but it has to start with him getting back on the court.
Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum explained Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors with an analogy about getting jumped by a gang with your brothers then joining that gang and forgetting about your brothers. McCollum called stars passing through Golden State to win big before joining another team – a la DeMarcus Cousins – “disgusting.”
Those comments have predictably generated plenty of discussion. But McCollum dislikes how those discussions are being framed.
Not everything McCollum says is newsworthy. Nobody is ethically obligated to amplify every comment he makes in a lengthy interview. Everywhere I saw, McCollum’s quote was given clear context.
It’s not newsworthy McCollum called the Warriors great. We all know they’re great. That’s why their existence is controversial.
And McCollum didn’t say just that he would never join Golden State. He called it “disgusting” then elaborated many other players would have too much pride for that track. The rhetoric was sharp and wide-reaching.
I found McCollum’s comments interesting, and I’m happy he shared them. I didn’t necessarily agree, but I appreciate his perspective. The NBA is more fun when more players reveal their differing points of view.
So kudos to McCollum – and Andre Iguodala.
McCollum totally forgot about Iguodala – but not incorrectly. Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson look like future Hall of Famers. Maybe Cousins gets there, too. But Iguodala doesn’t deserve it. He made only one All-Star game and mostly topped out at good-starter level. His Finals MVP – which should have gone to LeBron James or, if you insist on awarding a winning player, Curry – shouldn’t push Iguodala over the top.
The best part of McCollum’s Twitter defense today:
McCollum has won seven playoff games – including a series against the Clippers and a single game over the Warriors in 2016. He could have easily brought those up.
But “Im trying Jennifer” is a far more enjoyable response.
Does this give us a hint about what Dwyane Wade is thinking?
Probably not. What it means is that the Heat want some depth along the front line and, more importantly, a quality presence in the locker room. They want to bring back one of the icons of the franchise.
Udonis Haslem is reportedly nearing a contract with the Miami Heat, reports Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.
Haslem played in just 14 games for the Heat last season, and 72 total minutes. He just turned 38 and the Heat could use that roster spot to develop a young player. But this is about loyalty, and it’s a move that will play well in the locker room and with the fan base.
Wade also will like it. Whether it is an omen of his decision remains to be seen.
The 2018-19 NBA MVP race feels more wide open than we have seen in years.
What kind of numbers will LeBron James put up with the Lakers and how far can he lift that team? Can James Harden repeat? Is Kawhi Leonard back in MVP form? Will a new coach in Mike Budenholzer lift Giannis Antetokounmpo up to a new level? Does Russell Westbrook put up MVP numbers again?
Online betting company Bovada released these odds for the 2019 MVP award.
LeBron James 10/3
Anthony Davis 4/1
Giannis Antetokounmpo 9/2
James Harden 11/2
Kevin Durant 9/1
Kawhi Leonard 11/1
Russell Westbrook 14/1
Stephen Curry 15/1
Joel Embiid 16/1
Kyrie Irving 16/1
Ben Simmons 35/1
Damian Lillard 45/1
Karl-Anthony Towns 50/1
DeMar DeRozan 80/1
John Wall 80/1
Donovan Mitchell 85/1
Jimmy Butler 100/1
Nikola Jokic 100/1
Victor Oladipo 100/1
Chris Paul 100/1
LaMarcus Aldridge 125/1
Paul George 125/1
DeMarcus Cousins 150/1
Gordon Hayward 150/1
Jayson Tatum 175/1
Blake Griffin 225/1
Devin Booker 275/1
Kristaps Porzingis 275/1
Kyle Lowry 325/1
Lonzo Ball 450/1
A few quick thoughts:
• If you’re betting on Porzingis to win the MVP this season, just donate that money to charity where it can do some good. He may not even play this season.
• If you believe Kawhi Leonard is healthy and back to form, 11-1 is a good betting value.
• Westbrook at 14-1 also seems a good value, if you think he and Paul George can lift the Thunder up to a new level.
• My preseason prediction for MVP is Anthony Davis. But that’s betting on him staying healthy.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had it right — the GOAT argument is a comparison of different players with different teammates and different rules, it’s cannot be definitive. To use his Highlander analogy, “there doesn’t need to be only one.”
But if you ask Rockets GM Daryl Morey who is The Greatest, he is going with LeBron James. Something he said on the Dan Patrick Show Wednesday.
LeBron is the best of his generation, maybe the greatest athlete the NBA has ever seen, and he entered the league with a basketball IQ off the chart (remember when short-sighted people used to rip him for passing to the open player with the game on the line rather than taking the contested shots?).
Is he the GOAT? Fun discussion while sitting on a barstool with a Steady Brewing Unrefined hazy IPA in front of you, go at it in the comments, but there is no answer.
Unless you’re Morey.