Mon May 20 07:15pm EDT
In the world of professional sports, it's common for draft prospects to throw themselves at the mercy of their prospective employers. With most players having dreamed of making the NBA for as long as they can remember, their natural inclination is to do everything possible to please any team with a chance at drafting them. Any question or request is suitable. It's the best way for a player to prove he's ready to buy into the franchise's culture and long-term plans.
These actions are so prevalent that any example of a player pushing back against a team request deserves notice. Such is the case with forward Deshaun Thomas, who left Ohio State after his junior season. From Jason Lloyd for Ohio.com (via PBT):
Mon May 20 05:45pm EDT
Pending free agent J.R. Smith has been an enigma since entering the NBA in 2005. On the basis of pure talent, he should be one of the top wing producers in the league, and he often looks like exactly that. Yet Smith has never managed to put together a consistent string of performances to prove himself worthy of making him the cornerstone of a franchise.
He got closest this season with the New York Knicks, earning Sixth Man of the Year honors and receiving standard-issue statements from media and team officials regarding his improved maturity. In true J.R. fashion, he followed that career peak with a sort of greatest hits compilation of his worst tendencies, to the point where many Knicks fans begged for head coach Mike Woodson to bench a player who only a few weeks before seemed essential to fulfilling their postseason aspirations.
Nevertheless, Smith has the chance to parlay his award-winning season into a significant deal this summer. Despite the troubles this postseason, J.R. wants to stay with the Knicks for as long as he can. From Peter Botte for the New York Daily News (via SLAM):
Mon May 20 05:30pm EDT
The Brooklyn Nets just about define the superficial experience. The team was put together by a billionaire owner that promised a championship in spite of a lacking basketball resume, before tossing tens of millions of dollars at a general manager in Billy King who has long made a habit of going after the biggest names available. Part-owner Jay-Z helped shape the team’s look and image, despite only owning a small percentage of the team, and not even making it out of the franchise’s first year before selling his shares. And the team’s arena, the Barclays Center, followed the latest trends with its exterior look in spite of some quizzical glances from Brooklyn natives.
Perhaps they were reacting to the smell of the place.
On Monday Leslie Albrecht at DNAInfoNewYork.com put together a great piece on the canned smells the Center wafts in through its ventilation system. It’s not an offensive or even obtrusive odor, nor an obvious one, but it’s … something. And definitely noticeable. From Albercht’s piece:
As the last few fans rushed through the arena's front doors, the brisk breeze that followed them gave way to a distinct aroma: a fresh-smelling fragrance with citrus notes that some call the arena's "signature scent," in the words of one Twitter observer.
Mon May 20 05:15pm EDT
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.
C: Young Braised's SoundCloud. This appears to be nearly four months old, but it's new to me, via my associate Eric Freeman and our pal Bethlehem Shoals — a rock-solid 2 1/2 minutes of hip-hop references to former Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning. There's NSFW language in there, so listener beware, but for those of listening age, this is simply glorious. Bless you, Young Braised.
PF: For the Win. Charting the expansion of Manu Ginobili's bald spot. Soon, it will encompass the Earth.
SF: Grantland and HoopSpeak. Smart and kind gentlemen Zach Lowe and Brett Koremenos review Matt Bonner's four-3-pointer performance in the San Antonio Spurs' blowout Game 1 win and try to figure out whether the reserve big man's breakout was the result of dynamite San Antonio execution or porous Memphis Grizzlies defense. The answer, it seems, is "Yes."
Mon May 20 04:35pm EDT
With every season that ends, for the playoff teams at least, we felt it right to take a look ahead. TNT already has the rights to "Gone Fishin'," and because we're sure that someone, somewhere, still likes that Wyclef song, we're going with "Gone Till November." And, yes, we know the season starts in October. Today? The Golden State Warriors.
In spite of the fun – the team turned out to be one of the NBA’s more entertaining watches this season – the Golden State Warriors’ worries ended up right where things started last summer. Yes, the team made the playoffs; hitting the postseason for just the second time since going out in the first round in 1994, but Golden State’s health is still the team’s biggest obstacle. The Warriors will only go as far as Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut’s ankles will take them.
Mon May 20 04:15pm EDT
While we hold out hope that the path charted by newly hired general manager Ryan McDonough will produce a winner sooner rather than later, there wasn't much to celebrate about the Phoenix Suns this season, we're sorry to say. In lottery-bound times like these, with the present a bummer and the future uncertain, it's understandable for fans (and the media who serve them) to harken back to more successful days gone by — like, for example, 1993, which was both the heyday of the Charles Barkley/Kevin Johnson/Paul Westphal crew and a nice, round 20 years ago, which makes for easy commemoratin'.
With the members of that team reminiscing about how they came together and what they accomplished, it's only natural to check in with the man who signed the checks — Jerry Colangelo, who'd been with the Suns since its inception in 1967, put together a group that purchased the franchise in 1987 and, after years of fits and starts, built a winner in the desert.
In a chat with Paola Boivin of azcentral.com, Colangelo recalled the Suns' path to the 1993 NBA finals against the Chicago Bulls, the franchise with which the Chicago Heights product had gotten his start in the NBA as a scout and marketing director and the juggernaut that had won back-to-back titles in the previous two seasons. In the midst of all that recollection, the former Suns owner (he sold to Robert Sarver in 2004) and current director of USA Basketball shared a surprising story from the Chicago Stadium stands:
Mon May 20 03:15pm EDT
Larry Bird has not been a member of the Indiana Pacers, technically, since sitting in on the team’s observance of the NBA’s summer leagues in 2012. Citing health reasons and a need for a break after nine years of running the team, Bird stepped down from his position as Pacers el jefe last year, handing the keys over to longtime Pacers boss Donnie Walsh. Bird’s imprints are all over this rugged Pacer team, and his insistence on sticking with hybrid guard Lance Stephenson helped put Indiana into the conference finals on Saturday night, their first appearance in the third round in nine years.
Excited at the thought of his no-name Pacers taking down the rife-with-names New York Knicks, Bird reached out to Indianapolis Star Pacers beat writer Mike Wells in the moments following Indy’s conquest:
My phone went off again early Sunday morning. It was Bird, who has kept a low profile since stepping down as a president last June. Bird was offering up nothing but praise this time about the team he put together.
“Those who play together stay together!” Bird wrote in the text.
Mon May 20 02:45pm EDT
"Show me in the rulebook where it says I can't emit a high-pitched squealing noise on my way to the basket. Go ahead. I'll wait." — Jerryd Bayless, probably.
Best caption wins ear plugs, which Boris Diaw probably could've used. Good luck.
In our last adventure, undertaken nearly one Earth month ago: Ronny Turiaf wants the ball. (Miss you, Ronny.)
Mon May 20 01:50pm EDT
The Sacramento Kings need a new general manager. They also need a new arena, a new vision, and possibly a trip to a greasy diner while dealing with the hangover resulting from the party that came after Vivek Ranadive’s recent purchase of the team. Even before they decide between sausage and bacon, though, the Kings need a new GM.
The problem is that they have a GM, Geoff Petrie, already in place. And though Petrie is a former NBA Executive of the Year, creating the Kings’ golden era by fleecing teams in trades while drafting smartly, Petrie’s approach has been curious at best and disastrous at worst in the years since. Sacramento hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006, the team has been through seven coaches since then, and there is precious little to show for years of lottery appearances and cap-conscious planning. The influence of the outgoing owners has quite a bit to do with that postseason-less streak, but Petrie has done his own damage as well.
Mon May 20 12:25pm EDT
Here's what Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said after his team won Game 6 against the New York Knicks on Saturday night to earn an Eastern Conference finals matchup with the top-seeded Miami Heat, who ousted Indiana in the second round of last year's postseason:
"This is not about getting back at Miami," Vogel said. "If you're in the final four, you're competing for a championship. You're competing for a championship. And they're just the next team that's in our way."
Here's how that quote was misrepresented to Heat star LeBron James after Miami's practice on Sunday, according to FOX Sports Florida's Chris Tomasson:
Reporter to LeBron: “Vogel kept saying last night that you guys are just another team."
And here's how LeBron responded to that (which, again, is totally not what Vogel said):