And it makes sense. Walton is widely regarded as one of the NBA’s bright young coaches. Though Lakers president Magic Johnson didn’t hire him, Walton – who won a couple titles with the Lakers as a player – fits into the Lakers legacy/family image Johnson is selling. Ball’s criticism might even improve Walton’s job security, as the Lakers might want to avoid the appearance of giving into the publicity-hungry loudmouth.
But don’t expect these questions to go away. Walton has proven he can win with the Warriors and can’t with the Lakers. That puts him in the same class as most NBA coaches. In other words, that puts him in a class that – fairly or not – gets fired fairly often.
Walton’s context matters. The Lakers had a miserable roster last season – blame assigned to since-fired Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchack – and also tanked to keep a top-three-protected first-round pick. The team is again young and unready this season.
But the franchise’s context also matters. Even if the Lakers win their remaining 43 games, Walton would hold the worst record through his first two seasons of any Lakers coach to get a third. They ousted Butch Van Breda Kolff after winning 52 and 55 games reaching the NBA Finals in both his seasons. They fired Mike Brown early in his second season despite a 42-29 record. Even Mike D’Antoni had a much higher win percentage (44%) than Walton (31%), and D’Antoni lasted just two seasons in Los Angeles. Historically, the Lakers haven’t been very patient.
They’ve rarely faced rebuilding, and maybe Walton will get judged by a different standard. But that institutional unfamiliarity with rebuilding might only exacerbate the pressure on Walton.
The Lakers will stand behind Walton until they don’t. It’s the same treatment most coaches get.
And, with most coaches, losing – regardless of the context – is the quickest way to getting fired.
Jayson Tatum’s NBA 2K19 rating is pretty eye-popping
Boston Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum had an excellent first season in the NBA. Here at PBT, we talked about how if the Celtics wanted to challenge in the East early on — especially without Gordon Hayward — they would need their young wing rotation to step up in a big way. They did, and Tatum was a big part of the reason the Celtics made the Eastern Conference Finals this year.
Now it appears that he is being rewarded by the folks over at 2K Games.
The people over at 2K Games release some of their ratings today, and Tatum came in at a whopping 87. If you aren’t familiar with the structure of the game, or what that means, the total score is out of a possible 99, making Tatum an excellent player.
Of course players like Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James scored a 98, so Tatum still has some room above him. As a general observation very good players rate somewhere between 79-85 during their rookie seasons.
Now the wait is on to see how fellow Rookie of the Year candidates Donovan Mitchell and Ben Simmons score when 2K Games releases their ratings.
Dallas’ Liz Cambage sets WNBA single-game scoring record with 53-point game (VIDEO)
When you score more than half your team’s points, you’ve owned the game.
Dallas Wings’ center Liz Cambage scored a WNBA single-game record 53 points — on just 22 shots — in the Wings’ 104-87 win over the Liberty Tuesday. The previous record had been Riquna Williams with 51 points in 2013. Cambage hit 17–of–22 from the field including 4–of–5 from three (she was 5-of-23 from three in her NBA career before today), and knocked down 15-of-16 from the free throw line. She also had 10 rebounds and blocked five shots.
It was a monster performance. How big:
Liz Cambage just scored 53 points to break the WNBA single-game record. 2018: Liz Cambage, 53 2013: Riquna Williams, 51 2014: Maya Moore, 48
Cambage, an Australian native, had two interesting seasons with Tulsa in the WNBA back in 2011 and 2013 — she was an All-Star in 2011 but did not return to the NBA after the 2012 Olympics. She had a strong 2013 season, but then walked away from the WNBA (she had said when drafted she didn’t want to be in Tulsa).
She sat out of the WNBA for five years, until returning this season and is putting up big numbers in Dallas — 19.9 points per game on 57 percent shooting plus pulling down 9.1 rebounds per game. She’s a 6’8″ physical force in the league that few if any teams have an answer for.
But nobody saw this huge breakout game coming.
What a great showcase for the WNBA, especially leading up to the league’s All-Star Game July 28.
The Lakers wanted to test Josh Hart this summer: What would happen if they gave him a more substantial role? He was solid as a backup point guard last season (a good showing for a rookie), averaging 7.9 points per game and shooting 39.6 percent from three, but with Lonzo Ball and Rajon Rondo in the fold point guard minutes will be hard to come by next season.
What happened if they put the ball in Hart’s hands and made him the leader of a team on and off the court?
Hart responded by winning the NBA Las Vega Summer League MVP, averaging 24.2 points a game and leading the Lakers to the championship game. He dropped 37 on the Cavaliers and Collin Sexton in the semi-finals.
The award was announced Tuesday, in advance of the title contest between Hart and his Lakers vs. the Portland Trail Blazers.
Hart is the second Laker in a row to win the award, last year Lonzo Ball won it in leading the Lakers to a Summer League crown.
It’s an honor, but don’t assume Summer League MVP means NBA success. Sure, Damian Lillard won the award, but he was co-MVP with Josh Shelby. Glen Rice III won the award. The MVP list includes Kyle Anderson and Tyus Jones and other good but not All-Star players.
Hart also made the All-NBA Summer League first team. (Both the MVP award and All-NBA Summer League teams were voted on by a select media pannel.)
Here are the Las Vegas All Summer League teams:
All-NBA Summer League First Team
Wendell Carter Jr. (Chicago)
Josh Hart (Los Angeles Lakers) Kevin Knox (New York)
Collin Sexton (Cleveland)
Christian Wood (Milwaukee) MGM Resorts All-NBA Summer League Second Team
Jahlil Okafor was never going to find a new home early in free agency. Once the big names — and second tier, and third tier— names shook out, then some team was expected to step forward with a minimum contract and see if the former No. 3 pick could find a role on their team. Something he could not do with the Nets last year.
According to sources, Okafor, the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, worked out for four teams last Wednesday in Las Vegas, and remains hopeful of signing with a team ahead of training camp next fall.
Okafor averaged 17.5 points per game as a rookie in Philadelphia in 2015-16. He has spent the last few months working out in Miami with trainers David Alexander and Idan Ravin, fueling speculation that he could land with the Heat, especially if Miami finds a trading partner for Hassan Whiteside.
First things first, it’s unlikely the Heat will find someone to take on Whiteside right now, and any team that does is going to want a treasure chest of sweeteners the Heat may not want to surrender.
In addition to the Heat, the Bulls and Pacers have been rumored to have some interest, although both of those should be taken with a serious grain of salt.
How much is any team interested? Enough to even offer a fully guaranteed contract for next season?
Maybe not. Okafor — with his old-school, below the rim, back-to-the-basket offensive game, not to mention a serious lack of defense — does not fit the direction the NBA is trending with bigs. He may need to accept a non-guaranteed invite to training camp somewhere and prove he deserves a roster spot. Humbling, to be sure, but reality.
At some point, some team will give him a shot. Probably. But Okafor has a lot of work to do to find a role in the modern NBA.