Five Things We Learned in NBA Monday: DeMar DeRozan went Harden on Harden


If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while thinking about the physical toll being an NBA player puts on one’s body

1) DeMar DeRozan out Hardened James Harden. What James Harden does better than anyone is relentlessly attack. He’s going to get to the line, he’s going to hit a couple ridiculous shots, he’s going to put the pressure on your defense. He did all that against the Toronto Raptors Monday on his way to 31 points — but DeMar DeRozan did them better. He got to the free throw line 17 times; he hit a couple ridiculous turn-around jumpers, and in the end he put up 42 points. More importantly, his struggling Toronto Raptors picked up an important win. (Memphis would like to thank him as well, as they move back to the two seed.

2) Kyle Korver is a T-2000 terminator sent from the future to shoot threes and destroy the NBA. How else do you explain his 11 points in 65 seconds?

3) Avery Bradley helped Boston stay right in the playoff mix. Boston picked up a key win in their drive to make the playoffs Monday dropping 116 points on Charlotte — Boston had an offensive rating of 129.5 (points per 100 possessions). The key was Boston had fantastic ball movement for the night, and that plays right into Avery Bradley’s game — he moves better off the ball and finds space better than he sometimes gets credit for. He was finding that space at the top of the key area and on wing threes. With the win, Boston moved back into the eight seed in the east past Brooklyn for a night in a battle that will go on right up until the final night of the season.

4) Jordan Clarkson hits game winner to the frustration of Lakers’ fans. This is Adam Silver’s nightmare: The Lakers and Sixers faced off Monday night, and large swaths of both fan bases were rooting for their favorite team to lose. It’s all about the lottery balls; the Sixers had the third-worst record in the NBA while the Lakers were fourth. If Philly had won just one game would have separated the two, but instead Jordan Clarkson hit the game winner in OT, and the Lakers picked up the road win. With that, LA has a three-game lead over Philly and is going to finish with the fourth worst record. (If, after the lottery, the Lakers have top 5 pick they get to keep it, if not it goes to Philly, all stemming from the Steve Nash trade. The Lakers have about an 80 percent chance of keeping that pick as fourth worst.) Both of these franchises should just be glad right now the NBA doesn’t have relegation like European soccer.

5) The Knicks apparently need a big with a “big butt.” Maybe the most discussed thing in the NBA online universe Monday was what former Phil Jackson confidante (and long time talking head) Charley Rosen told the New York Post about the Knicks and the triangle offense.

“They need a center with a big butt to hold space,’’ Rosen told The Post. “They didn’t have anybody like that. It takes away a major portion of what you can do with the triangle because then it really becomes just a perimeter offense.’’


He suggests Greg Monroe would be a better fit than drafting someone like Karl Towns out of Kentucky.

Two thoughts:

First, Rosen isn’t wrong in that the Knicks need a presence inside. Although I would suggest what the Knicks need more than anything is talent upgrades pretty much anywhere they can get one, getting a presence inside is part of that.

Second, it brings up another question discussed around New York (and parts of the NBA): Can Phil Jackson’s version of the triangle still work and still win in the NBA? That triangle looked great when the ball could just be thrown into Shaq in the post, but will that still work in a zone-defense/overload world where before Shaq gets the ball on the block the double team is already there? NBA defenses have changed and if you haven’t adapted — as the Spurs, Hawks, Warriors and other teams have done — you’ll struggle. Will that slow down the Knicks’ recovery?

Hard to tell until they get more talent on the roster.

Amar’e Stoudemire on retiring: “There’s a lot of high-level basketball left in me”


Two-thirds of the key cogs of the “seven seconds or less” Phoenix Suns are leaving the game. Steve Nash made his retirement official recently, and Shawn Marion has said he will walk away at the end of this season.

Not Amar’e Stoudemire — he will be back somewhere next season.

The current Dallas Mavericks’ forward told ESPN Dallas he is not going to retire at the end of this season. Not even close.

“No, no, there’s no way. There’s a lot of youth in these legs. I have a lot of competitive juices still flowing in me. There’s no way I’m ready to be the next man….

“This isn’t it for me, for sure,” Stoudemire said. “There’s a lot of basketball left. There’s a lot of high-level basketball left in me. I feel competitive. I have faith in my body, what I can do on a basketball court on a consistent basis.

“The next step should be the best step, because I want to make sure I leave the game on a high note. That’s the ultimate goal.”

Stoudemire is averaging 9.8 points a game and shooting 57.6 percent for Dallas (he had similar numbers in New York this season and last season, he just got more attempts). After multiple knee surgeries, he’s not the explosive Stoudemire of Phoenix, but he still has value as a veteran big off the bench. These days he isn’t going to win you games but can give you 15-20 quality minutes a night as a reserve (he has a PER of 20.7 with Dallas).

Which is why Mark Cuban has said he wants to keep Stoudemire in Dallas this summer. Of course, it will come down to money, like it always does. There are a number of teams that could use a solid reserve big man. Stoudemire will have options, but it sounds like what he wants is to chase a ring.

Which means we will see him for a couple more seasons.

Mark Cuban calls trading for Lamar Odom, not letting Steve Nash walk, his biggest mistake


Mark Cuban once called letting Steve Nash leave in free agency his biggest mistake as Mavericks owner.

Cuban, reflecting on Nash in light of the point guard’s retirement, apparently changed his mind.

Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News:

Cuban said letting Nash go was not the worst personnel decision of his ownership.

That would be Lamar Odom, he said.

The Mavericks traded a first-round pick (which ultimately became Mitch McGary) to the Lakers for Odom in 2012. Odom was disastrous in his lone season with the Mavericks, feuding with Cuban before just being sent home. Odom was reportedly dealing with drug issues, and he later apologized to Cuban.

Unquestionably, the move didn’t work for the Mavericks. But how predictable was Odom’s downward spiral? And how costly was it to Dallas?

The Mavericks might have had sound reasons for letting Nash leave for the Suns, but hindsight suggests they overreacted to injury concerns. Nash became a two-time MVP in Phoenix, and it’s not difficult to think he and Dirk Nowitzki could have gotten the Mavericks another championship besides 2011. They certainly would have had a better chance. Those are much higher stakes than swapping Mitch McGary for Odom in a season that wasn’t going anywhere, anyway.

I think Cuban had this right the first time.

Andrew Bogut: Stephen Curry is the MVP, and ‘I don’t think it’s close’


If you ask the teammates of legitimate MVP candidates who they think should win the award this season, they’re of course going to pick the guy on their own roster.

Well, usually.

In any case, Andrew Bogut did exactly that recently, and when talking up the merits of Stephen Curry, also said that in his eyes, the race wasn’t even close.

From Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group:

… coinciding with Houston’s James Harden putting up huge numbers has been some discussion about why Curry might not win. One reason revolves around his usage, as he averages just under 33 minutes per game. Only previous award winners Bill Walton (33.3) and Steve Nash (34.3) come close to that figure.

Warriors center Andrew Bogut put it another way as far as the minutes being an indicator of why Curry should be MVP rather than something that should be held against the point guard.

“He only needs to play 25, 30 minutes, and we’re winning games by 15, 20 points,” Bogut said Tuesday after Curry scored 33 points and dished out 10 assists in a win at Portland. “If he had to play 45 minutes for us, I’m sure he’d be averaging greater numbers, so in a way, it’s kind of flawed. He’s the MVP in my opinion. We’re the best team in the league. We have the best record in the league. I don’t think it’s close in my opinion.”

Curry has been sensational this season, and there’s no argument to be made that he hasn’t been the most fun to watch. And, as the best player on what’s essentially been the league’s top team all season long, he may very well come away with the award once the year is finished.

But Bogut is wrong that the race isn’t close; in fact, it’s the closest it’s been in years.

James Harden’s case is perhaps even stronger than Curry’s, because he’s absolutely carried the Rockets in Dwight Howard’s absence. Harden has put up more 40-point games than anyone else this season, and has made more free throws (606) than any single player has even attempted; Russell Westbrook is the current leader in attempts (behind Harden) with 539.

And speaking of Westbrook, he’s single-handedly dragging the Thunder to the playoffs, while racking up an insane amount of triple-doubles — even if some are more dubious than others.

There’s also Anthony Davis to consider, and (oh yeah) some guy named LeBron James.

To me, it’s a two-man race between Harden and Curry. My hypothetical vote would go to Harden, but it would be difficult to find reasons to be upset if Curry ends up with it, just as Bogut expects.

Steve Nash says he’s open to helping recruit free agents to Lakers


There is a certain segment of the Lakers fan base that will always hold a grudge against Steve Nash.

L.A. traded away four draft picks in order to get him, and health concerns prevented Nash from ever coming close to living up to the three-year, $28 million deal that he signed.

But on Nash’s end, he knows he did everything possible to try to come back from the multiple injuries he sustained.

Speaking at his retirement press conference on Tuesday, Nash had nothing but positive things to say about his time in Los Angeles, and is open to helping the Lakers franchise in any way he can moving forward — which includes participating in free agent pitches.

From Mark Medina and Mark Whicker of the LA Daily News:

Nash still left relishing his Lakers experience because of the front office and training staff providing endless support. So much that Nash said he would help with any free-agent pitches this offseason.

“Who knows what the future holds, but I’d love to see the franchise come back in full form,” Nash said at a press conference on Tuesday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “I’m definitely open to helping out.”

It’s unlikely that words from Nash would by themselves be enough to sway the opinions of any significant free agent players; things like market size, current roster construction and the ability to win immediately are all more important factors than a former player’s endorsement.

But should he be a part of an overall recruiting pitch that convinces a star-level talent to sign in Los Angeles, those fans that are unhappy with how things played out may begin to show signs of forgiveness.