Three things to know: Derrick Rose back with ‘family’ on Knicks

New York Knicks v Miami Heat
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The NBA season is in full swing, and we will be here each weekday with the NBC Sports daily roundup Three Things to Know — everything you might have missed in the Association, every pivotal moment from the night before in one place.

1) Derrick Rose back with “family” in New York

Reunited and it feels so good…

Except for the loss at the end.

Derrick Rose was back with the New York Knicks, reunited with coach Tom Thibodeau, and he said it felt like being with family again. It also looked good considering Rose has yet to practice with the team; he scored 14 points and was a much more willing playmaker and passer than the last time Rose pulled a Knicks jersey over his head.

Rose’s minutes were matched with rookie Immanuel Quickley — both got more than 20 off the bench — as they came in together to sub out starters Elfrid Payton and RJ Barrett. While single-game +/- is a flawed stat, let it be known that the Knicks were +6 in this game when Rose and Quickley were on the court together. After Rose and Quickley checked in during the first quarter, the Knicks outscored the Heat by 11 in the next 11 minutes.

It wasn’t enough. Miami got a much-needed win 98-96 behind 25 points from Jimmy Butler and 20 from Kelly Olynyk. It was the kind of hard-fought, grinding win that Miami used a lot in the bubble to advance to the NBA Finals last season. Bam Adebayo’s defense kept Julius Randle in check (12 points on 18 shots), which was key for the Heat.

Still, it was promising for Rose and the Knicks, as they fight to get into the play-in and maybe the playoffs in the West. It was just one game, but Rose looked like a guy who could help with that.

More importantly, Rose is looking like a mentor for the young Knicks. Rose talked to Quickley and the other Knicks’ name rookie Obi Toppin at dinner the night before, telling them to lean on him for advice. After the game, Rose had nothing but praise for Quickley, via Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“He listens. That’s the greatest thing about him, he listens. With that, you always got room for improvement. He’s a dog. He’s a dog. I can’t explain it. You’ve got to be a player to understand it. We’re in a fight, I know he’s fighting.”

There’s a lot of season left, but this looks like a good thing in New York.

2) Stephen Curry — how did he do that?

This layup by Stephen Curry…. How? Just, how?

Curry drove the lane and the Spurs defended it well, collapsed on him, so Curry spun mid-air to kick the pass back out, then changed his mind and hit the shot.

Insane.

Curry finished the night with 32 points and the Warriors got the win, 114-91, over San Antonio.

But that all seemed secondary to that shot.

3) Brooklyn Nets searching for an identity after Pistons hand them third-straight loss

Kyrie Irving called the Nets “very average.” Coach Steve Nash said, “It’s about personal pride,” and expressed frustration that the Nets had to be down by 20 to play with any urgency.

The built-in excuse is there for Brooklyn’s loss to struggling Detroit, Kevin Durant was out for the game.

But if you watched the game, the problems in Brooklyn are bigger than that — Detroit flat-out out-worked and out-played the Nets. The Pistons earned this win. Jerami Grant continued his “I told you I deserved this contract” tour scoring 32 points and hitting 4-of-8 from three, Delon Wright dropped 22, and Mason Plumlee finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists, completely outplaying DeAndre Jordan.

In the 13 games since the James Harden trade, the Nets have a -0.2 net rating. They’re average. Yes, members of the big three have been in and out of the lineup, but this team still has more talent than that number shows.

This team is still figuring things out, a team that still has the star potential to go deep in the playoffs. But the league-worst defense since the trade is a legitimate problem. The inconsistent effort is as well. The Nets need to figure out who they are, because if they think they can flip the switch come the playoffs, they might want to ask Doc Rivers, Kawhi Leonard and last season’s Clippers how that works out.

Pelican’s Green says Zion ‘dominated the scrimmage pretty much’

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The Zion hype train keeps right on rolling. First were the reports he was in the best shape of his life, then he walked into media day and it looked like he is.

Now Zion has his own hype man in Pelicans coach Willie Green, who said he dominated the first day of team scrimmages. Via Andre Lopez of ESPN.

“Z looked amazing,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said on Wednesday afternoon. “His strength, his speed. He dominated the scrimmage pretty much.”

“What stood out was his force more than anything,” Green said. “He got down the floor quickly. When he caught the ball, he made quick decisions. Whether it was scoring, finding a teammate. It was really impressive to see.”

Reach for the salt shaker to take all this with — it’s training camp scrimmages. Maybe Zion is playing that well right now — he’s fully capable, he was almost an All-NBA player in 2020-21 (eighth in forward voting) before his foot injury — but we need to see it against other teams. In games that matter. Then we’ll need to see it over a stretch of time.

If Zion can stay healthy this season, if his conditioning is where everyone says it is, he could be in for a monster season. Combine that with CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and a strong supporting cast in New Orleans, and the Pelicans could surprise a lot of people — and be fun to watch.

 

PBT Podcast: What’s next for Celtics, Suns? Should NBA end one-and-done?

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NBA training camps just opened and teams have yet to play a preseason game, but already two contenders are dealing with problems.

The Celtics have the suspension of coach Ime Udoka as a distraction, plus defensive anchor center Robert Williams will miss at least the start of the season following another knee surgery.

The Suns have the distraction of a suspended owner who is selling the team, plus Jae Crowder is out and demanding a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not seem happy.

Corey Robinson of NBC Sports and myself go through all the training camp news, including the wilder ones with the Lakers and Nets, breaking down what to take away from all that — plus how good Zion Williamson and James Harden look physically.

Then the pair discusses the potential of the NBA doing away with the one-and-done role and letting 18-year-olds back in the game — is that good for the NBA?

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Report: Price tag on Phoenix Suns could be more than $3 billion

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Six
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In 2004, Robert Sarver bought the Phoenix Suns for a then-record $401 million.

When Sarver sells the team now — pushed to do so following the backlash prompted by an NBA report that found an 18-year pattern of bigotry, misogyny, and a toxic workplace — he is going to make a massive profit.

The value of the Suns now is at $3 billion or higher, reports Ramona Shelburne and Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

There will be no shortage of bidders for the team, with league sources predicting a franchise valuation of more than $3 billion now that revenue has rebounded following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and with a new television rights deal and CBA on the horizon. Sarver purchased the team for just over $400 million in 2004.

Saver currently owns 35% of the Suns (the largest share), but reports say his role as managing partner allows him to sell the entire team (the minority owners have to comply, although they would make a healthy profit, too). Sarver also decides who to sell the team to, not the NBA or other owners.

Early rumors of buyers have included Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle), Bob Iger (former Disney CEO), Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, she has a 20% share of the Washington Wizards), and others. There have been no reports of talks yet, and Sarver does not need to be on a rushed timeline.

Meanwhile, a contending Suns team tries to focus on the season despite the owner selling the team, Jae Crowder not being in training camp and pushing for a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not sound happy to be back with the Suns.

Steve Nash on his relationship with Kevin Durant: ‘We’re good’

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In an effort to gain leverage for a trade this offseason, Kevin Durant threw down a “either the coach and GM are gone or I am” ultimatum.

Now coach Steve Nash (and GM Sean Marks) are back in Brooklyn, on the same team and trying to build a contender together. Awkward? Not if you ask Nash, which is what Nick Friedell of ESPN did.

“We’re fine,” Nash said after the Nets’ first official practice of the season on Tuesday. “We’re good. Ever since we talked, it’s been like nothing’s changed. I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. It’s a common situation in the league.

“We all were hurting, seething, to go through what we went through last year, not being able to overcome all that adversity. Sometimes you lose perspective because you expect to win, but the reality is we were able to talk and discuss what we can improve on from last year. And also keep perspective. We went through a ton of stuff.”

First off, what else was Nash going to say? He knows the power dynamic in the NBA, and Durant has far more leverage than he does — not enough to get Nash fired this summer, but still more than the coach.

Second, Nash could be telling the truth from his perspective. NBA players and coaches understand better than anyone this is a business and things are rarely personal. Grudges are not held like fans think they are (most of the time). Nash saw Durant’s move for what it was — an effort to create pressure — and can intellectually shrug it off, reach out to KD and talk about the future.

What this brings into question was one of the Nets’ biggest issues last season — mental toughness and togetherness. Do the Nets have the will to fight through adversity and win as a team? Individually Durant, Kyrie Irving, Nash and others have shown that toughness in the past, but as a team it was not that hard to break the will of the Nets last season. Are their relationships strong enough, is their will strong enough this season?

It feels like we will find out early. If the wheels come off the Nets’ season, it feels like it will happen early and by Christmas things could be a full-on dumpster fire. Or maybe Nash is right and they are stronger than we think.