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 : Sports Illustrated Longform . Chris Ballard's full feature on Kobe Bryant transitioning into the end stages of his career went live today, so enjoy spending your weekend poring over it. PF : Bucksketball . Giannis Antetokounmpo's two-dribble dunk for Greece earned headlines on Thursday, but as K.L. Chouinard notes, this isn't exactly a new trick for the Milwaukee Bucks' rising sophomore; in fact, Giannis does this sort of thing pretty frequently. SF : Canis Hoopus . Good stuff from Key Dae on the state of Andrew Wiggins' game as he enters the NBA, where he figures to be able to make an impact early and where he's got to do an awful lot of work if he's to become the sort of franchise-leading superstar that the Minnesota Timberwolves hope he will be. SG : Bright Side of the Sun . A very thorough tape breakdown by Kellan Olson of just how good Eric Bledsoe looked when slotted in alongside Goran Dragic for the Phoenix Suns last season. PG : Chicago Tribune . David Haugh on the relative calm with which the Chicago Bulls, USA Basketball and the NBA — everyone but Bulls fans, really — took Derrick Rose's soreness-induced rest earlier this week. (Rose is expected to be in the lineup with Team USA takes on Puerto Rico in an exhibition at Madison Square Garden on Friday.) 6th : Hang Time . And yet, while coach Mike Krzyzewski made clear after Wednesday's exhibition win over the Dominican Republic that he's not worried about Rose, John Schuhmann wonders whether the U.S. can afford not to take an extra point guard given the uncertainty surrounding him, and what that might mean for the rest of Team USA's roster configuration. 7th : Silver Screen and Roll . James Lamar on what Julius Randle should be looking to take from Carlos Boozer as the rookie and veteran share reps in the Los Angeles Lakers' frontcourt. 8th : Liberty Ballers . Jake Fischer bids farewell to the soon-to-be newest member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and one of the few bright spots in a dim era of Philadelphia 76ers basketball: "… throughout that constant drab, Thaddeus Young was the perennial glimmer of hope, the workhorse that refused to give in to the status quo." 9th : SB Nation . James Dator chats with Roger Huang, the sculptor who gave us "Achilles," or, as it's been referred to colloquially, "That Sculpture of a Naked Kobe Fighting A Snake." 10th : Statitudes . A fun thought experiment from Justin Kubatko: If pros had been allowed to represent their countries in the Olympics before 1992, who would have made up the 1964 U.S. "Dream Team?" - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.
As the Philadelphia 76ers have floundered for the past two seasons — first accidentally (thanks, Andrew !) and then on purpose (thanks, Sam !) — a certain segment of NBA obsessives have wished for a better fate for Thaddeus Young. The long-tenured Philly forward — a perpetually underrated two-way player whose ability to handle multiple frontcourt assignments, contribute offensively without needing the ball in his hands and generally fill gaps — seemed tailor-made for a squad contending for something meaningful, as opposed to toiling on a team that forced us to reconsider the very definition of "meaningful" in the NBA. Well, he's not going to get that just yet, but at least he won't experience the literal inability to remember the last time his team won . (At least, we don't think he will.) After weeks of rumors and educated guessing, the firm reports came down Thursday, first from Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and then from Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski : Thad's heading to the Twin Cities. Young will join the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, guard Alexey Shved and a 2015 first-round draft pick. That pick originally belonged to the Miami Heat, who sent it to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2010 sign-and-trade that brought LeBron James' talents to South Florida. The Cavs will send it to Minnesota as part of the larger, more-ballyhooed and much-discussed Kevin Love-for-Andrew Wiggins deal expected to be finalized on Saturday; Minny will redirect it to the City of Brotherly Love once that goes down. The pick Philly's getting is protected through the top 10 in the 2015 and '16 drafts before becoming unprotected in 2017. (The Wolves will also receive a "trade exception believed to be worth at least $4 million," according to Zgoda .) We all understand the attraction for Philly at this point — they'll gladly take a draft pick Tuesday for an actual player today. (Photoshop idea: Sam Wimpy ? Nah, forget it.) As you've probably heard, the Sixers are in the business of being bad, young and inexpensive now while stockpiling as many future assets as possible, in the interest of making a grand worst-to-first-style turnaround in a few years' time. This wasn't always Philly's plan, though; in fact, the Sixers still owe a first-round pick thanks to the pre-Hinkie regime's 2012 draft-night trade with the Heat for Arnett Moultrie. (That hasn't worked out so hot .) Miami shipped that Philly pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the three-team deal that sent Jordan Crawford to the Golden State Warriors back in January , meaning Danny Ainge and company get the 76ers' selection if Philly makes the playoffs. (I know, I know, but bear with me.) Trading away the guy who led last year's "successful" 19-63 Sixers in minutes, points, rebounds and steals in exchange for a pair of players who couldn't stick in Rick Adelman's rotation ought to help lock down a lottery finish, no matter how good Nerlens Noel looks alongside reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams. In the process, Philly snags a pick that could land higher than some expect if the retooled Heat stumble in acclimating to life after LeBron.
As the summer wears on, with training camps and preseason play still off in (what feels like) the distant future, we turn our attention to the past. Join us as we while away a few late-summer moments recalling some of the most scintillating slams of yesteryear, the most thunderous throwdowns ever to sear themselves into our memories. This is Dunk History . Today, Kelly Dwyer revels in Michael Jordan doing terrible things to John Starks, then Charles Oakley, and then Patrick Ewing during Game 3 of the first round of the 1991 Eastern Conference playoffs. The New York Knicks weren’t the enemy yet. The Detroit Pistons? They were the enemy. The Cleveland Cavaliers remained a hated foe, and out West, it seemed as if the Portland Trail Blazers would become the enemy. In the end, it turned out that the Los Angeles Lakers would be the enemy, as well. The Knicks? There had been some fearsome regular-season back-and-forths in the five years prior, and there was always going to be intrigue present after Chicago dealt an admittedly better and younger player (power forward Charles Oakley) to New York for a player they badly needed (center Bill Cartwright) in 1988. A deal that resulted in this 8-year-old throwing a pillow at a lamp in his parents’ den, knocking it over and breaking it. The 39-win, pre-Pat Riley Knicks, though, were not the Bulls' enemy in 1991. They were a fitful team still struggling to find an identity in the post-Rick Pitino era, perpetually featuring a starting point guard battle and doing all the Knicksian stuff that you’ve come to know and that New Yorkers have come to fear over the years, like dealing a first-round pick to Portland for Kiki Vandeweghe’s last legs. No, the Knicks weren’t the frightening outfit that would win 51 games and take the Bulls to seven games in 1992 under Riley, or post more regular-season wins than Chicago the year after. They weren’t the same team that downed the Jordan-less Bulls in 1994, or gave Chicago perhaps its toughest consistent postseason challenge in the 72-win season of 1996. They were coached by an interim lifer named John MacLeod, they had lost the first two games of a best-of-five first-round series by a combined 51 points, and all signs pointed to Game 3 of the first-round pairing as a bit of a mercy killing on the Knicks’ home floor. One last poor showing before Riley came aboard and ended clowntime. Before that happened, though, Michael Jordan clowned all over Patrick Ewing’s face: The complete and utter fooling of Oakley and John Starks — two of the more intelligent and active defenders of the era — is enough. To then rise over the conference’s best big man after expending quite a bit of energy in putting Oakley and Starks in the blender is almost unfair. Jordan likely knew Ewing was around, but Ewing had every right to believe that he’d be able to wipe Jordan’s shot out at the rim after watching him feint and twirl and cross over some 17 feet from the basket. It should have been his. Nothing, for Ewing and for the Knicks, ever was. That isn’t to say that the Knicks didn’t go on to scare the ever-lovin’ wits out of Bulls fans like me. By the time Chicago moved past the Knicks in 1992 and 1993, or even in 1996 as Chicago went on to play an ill-prepared Orlando Magic squad after slugging it out with the Knicks, the ensuing opponents felt like pushovers by comparison. My father noted as much at the time, pointing out that it felt like the Bulls were up at the plate swinging freely after spending a series against the Knicks in the on-deck circle, warming up for an at-bat with three bats loaded with heavy bat doughnuts. Baseball analogies abounded in the Dwyer household, and we said the word “bat” a lot. It was a real home run. Jordan scored 33 points with seven assists and six steals in this Game 3, as Chicago went on to win the game by nine, the series in a sweep, and eventually the franchise’s first title. The Knicks went on to get their act together, and promise themselves that this would never happen again. Even in defeat, it didn’t. Nothing came easy in New York after this. More from BDL's Dunk History series: • John Starks, the Chicago Bulls and 'The Dunk' • Tom Chambers rising like a Phoenix and taking orbit as a Sun • Taj Gibson starts the break, then breaks Dwyane Wade • Joakim Noah makes Paul Pierce a memory • Baron Davis unloads on Andrei Kirilenko, moves beyond belief • The joy of hearing Scottie Pippen posterize Patrick Ewing More NBA coverage: - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
|Adrian Wojnarowski||Los Angelesin 7||The 2-3-2 format is such an advantage to the home team. Just don't see a way Kobe doesn't close out in a Game 6 or 7 at Staples. Chance for epic series between these two teams full of great players and great winners.|
|Marc J. Spears||Los Angelesin 7||The Lakers have no one to slow down Rajon Rondo, but Kobe Bryant is playing on a higher level offensively than anyone in the postseason.|
|Johnny Ludden||Los Angelesin 7||For all the injuries he's dealt with, Kobe looks remarkably fresh. He'll need to trust his teammates more than he did in '08, but they'll also give him more of a reason to do so.|