Teams throughout the NBA are struggling to deal with James Harden‘s stepback jumper — he can hit the thing out to 28 feet, can slide left or right as he does it to create space, and if you close out on him you run the serious risk of a foul. Some teams are not contesting, the Bucks tried to turn him into a driver sitting on his right shoulder (they can get away with that since Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo were waiting in the paint), but nobody has a good answer. There’s a reason Harden has scored at least 30 points in 31 straight games.
Minnesota’s Josh Okogie did better than anyone — he blocked the shot on Wednesday night.
A lot of other Harden defenders watched that and muttered “I got called for a foul for breathing on him, there’s more contact there” and they’d be right. (Although to be fair, a lot of the closeouts where guys foul Harden on the stepback are because the defenders take away his landing spot, they get under him, and that is a foul.)
Not a lot of teams can try to pick up on the Timberwolves style here because there are a limited number of players with the length and athleticism of Okogie.
Harden still got 42 on the night, but the Timberwolves got the win 121-111.
Rumor: Wizards interested in Trail Blazers president Neil Olshey
The Wizards would do well to hire such a proven executive.
Would Olshey leave the Trail Blazers? Their ownership situation remains uncertain following the death of Paul Allen in October. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has demonstrated extreme loyalty to his executives.
Portland will also reportedly sign Damian Lillard to a super-max extension – a move that practically must be made, but one that carries massive downside risk. However, if he goes to Washington, Olshey would be trading uncertainty in Damian Lillard’s value on the super-max for certain negative value with John Wall on his super-max extension.
A couple years ago, Olshey signed his own extension through 2021. Maybe he’s ready to move on.
Or maybe he’s ready to use the Wizards as leverage for a raise.
Rumor: Lakers hired Jason Kidd to lure Giannis Antetokounmpo
the person familiar with the Lakers process said something else: that Kidd was brought to Los Angeles to attract Giannis Antetokounmpo to the Lakers when he becomes a free agent in two years when the Bucks star could become an unrestricted free agent.
3. People want to believe the Lakers would do something crazy like this, and that makes the rumor spread faster – whether or not it’s true. The Lakers, because of their stature, tactics and general manager have made many enemies around the league. Plenty of folks are enjoying piling on.
Drake says Raptors ‘are like a college sports team’ (VIDEO)
The Toronto Raptors are just one win away from their first ever NBA Finals appearance. Kawhi Leonard helped Toronto beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 105-99, on Thursday night in game 5. That gave the Raptors a 3-2 Series lead over the Bucs as they head back to Canada on Saturday.
Meanwhile, rapper Drake and a bunch of fans watched the victory over Giannis Antetokounmpo in the Jurassic Park outside of Scotiabank Arena. Elated with the win, Drake of course made statements to local television and to the crowd itself, saying the Raptors were “like a college team”.
We don’t know what to think about Kevin Durant and his plans for the offseason right now. Reports have him choosing between the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks. Others think he might just stay with the Golden State Warriors. At the very least, some have suggested that nobody really knows where he’s going to go, and Durant’s own business partner says he’s undecided.
So take this with a huge, giant, rough-edged grain of salt.
According to former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kendrick Perkins, he would not be surprised if Durant decided to signed with the Clippers this summer.
It’s not even the end of May yet and I’m already tired of talking about Durant. He’s not even playing and he’s tiring. Durant is perhaps the league’s best player, but the next time this story will be interesting will be when he finally signs somewhere in early July.
In the meantime, talking about what the mercurial Durant wants is a lost cause. Nobody knows what he wants — maybe not even Durant. That is, until he decides to furiously tweet it at a media member. That’s not out of the realm of possibility, either.
Durant won’t be back for the start of the NBA Finals, which is the real story of interest. Golden State looks great against the Portland Trail Blazers without their former two-time Finals MVP, and if the Warriors win a championship without Durant actively participating in that series, it will make his legacy that much more compex.