Once again, the Warriors chose Klay Thompson over another All-Star.This time, it was the Indiana Pacers who came knocking in search of Thompson. And Paul George, speaking Thursday on the podcast of venerable NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, confirmed that he was the bait. The Warriors, of course, did not bite. They have their reasons. Before trading the four-time All-Star to the Thunder on June 30, the Pacers shopped George around the league in hopes of making the best deal. George can become a free agent next summer, and he announced plans to leave Indiana. The Southern California native previously had made it clear that he’d like to land with the Lakers. He instead got Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City, at least partly because the Warriors rebuffed Indiana’s overtures. “Yeah, I was aware of it,” George said of the proposed deal involving Thompson. “I would have looked forward to it of just being able to be in a good situation and a chance to compete for a championship. It didn’t happen. It’s still fun to team up with a special talent and have a chance to compete against that team.” So why would the Warriors turn down an opportunity to add George to a group that would include Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green? There are no fewer than three rational reasons. First and foremost, it would come at the expense of Thompson, a three-time All-Star they drafted in 2011. The Warriors value Thompson as much — if not more — for his defense than his prolific scoring. They consider him the perfect partner for Curry, who benefits from Thompson’s floor-stretching ability on one end and his defensive qualities on the other. George would have to play guard, and the 6-foot-9 forward wouldn’t be able to defend the perimeter players to which the Warriors assign Thompson. Second, George needs the ball and Thompson doesn’t. Thompson needed only 11 dribbles to score 60 points in three quarters — and had the ball for a total of 90 seconds. George might dribble 11 times in five minutes. The questions about whether Durant’s game could exist within the framework of the Warriors were not legitimate. Any questions about whether George’s game could do so are profoundly legitimate. Third, the prevailing opinion George is he will land with the Lakers, the team he grew up rooting for largely because of a player, Kobe Bryant, that George idolized. How could the Warriors, no matter how confident they are in the seductive qualities of their culture, reconcile swapping two more years of a player they know for one year of one they don’t? It was three years ago that the Timberwolves and the Warriors discussed a trade involving Kevin Love cheap jerseys authentic and Thompson. The Warriors considered it, but the brain trust was divided. Coach Steve Kerr and then-adviser Jerry West — after watching video of Love on defense — were vehement in their support of keeping Thompson. The Warriors walked away. They have no regrets. This time, the Warriors most assuredly didn’t reach the point of serious consideration. George, for his part, doesn’t think it would have mattered, that the league would have stepped in to block a deal that would have sent him to the NBA champs. “Yeah I think that would have been the Chris Paul to LA (Lakers) situation, where they denied that trade,” he said, referencing then-commissioner David Stern’s block of a deal that would have sent Paul from the Hornets to the Lakers. For what it’s worth, the Paul-to-the-Lakers deal, in 2011, was easier to kill because the league already had taken temporary ownership of the Hornets.
Archive for December, 2017
CLEVELAND, Ohio — What was the Cleveland Cavaliers’ record when LeBron James and Kevin Love played together — and Kyrie Irving sat?I didn’t know the answer when that question first occurred to me. It’s 25-10. Even more significant, it’s 24-7 in the last two seasons. Irving was out for the first 10 weeks of the 2015-16 season, recovering from a fractured kneecap. The Cavs were 20-7 in those games. Mo Williams filled in at point guard. The record when James sat while Irving and Love played? It’s 3-13. This is not meant to simply trash Irving. He is an incredible scorer. He apparently doesn’t see it this way, but Irving is an incredible player when on the court with James. And Love is very, very good. Lost in all the debate and angst about Irving’s trade request is Love’s value. The 6-foot-10 power forward struggles against Golden State. The quick pace is a challenge for him. Here are Love’s stats for the five-game 2017 NBA Finals: 16 points per game, 11.2 rebounds, .388 from the field, .387 on 3-pointers. So let’s not pretend he was the second coming of Melvin Turpin or Ben Poquette in those games. In the regular season and against Eastern Conference playoff opponents, Love cheap jerseys nba is an All-Star. When Irving is out and he’s the second scoring option after James, Love tends to thrive. The 6-foot-10 Love averaged 19 points and 11.1 rebounds in the regular season. He made the All-Star team. Furthermore, he has shown a willingness to sacrifice and fit in with the Cavs. For all the talk about how Irving can’t fully bloom with the Cavs, he averaged 25 points a game. He led the team in shots. Coach Tyronn Lue labeled Irving “an attack guard” and basically allowed him to shoot anytime from anywhere. Love has had to adapt. He has done just that, to the best of his ability. That’s one reason fans should not despair when Irving is traded … and I expect that to happen. A Cavs team starting with James and Love remains the best in the Eastern Conference. THE JAMES RUMORS When in doubt, blame LeBron James. That seems to be what the Kyrie Irving camp is doing. Before ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith came out with the comments about Irving’s people blaming James for word of his trade request becoming public, I also heard that in NBA circles. A. I don’t think it’s true. B. No matter who leaked it, the fact is Irving and his agent met with Dan Gilbert. They made their trade demand, and gave the Cavs owner a list of four teams as preferred destinations. C. In other words, Irving wants out despite taking three trips to the Finals and leading the team in shots attempted per game. D. I heard James was upset by Irving’s request. I don’t blame him. It seems about 90 percent of the NBA wants to play with James because it’s a ticket the NBA Finals. That 90 percent knows how hard it is to reach the championship round. E. The other 10 percent are members of the Golden State Warriors and a few guys who don’t want the challenge and the pressure that comes with playing with James for an NBA title. F. For more than a week, Irving and his people have had chances to issue statements, denials … something. Instead, there has been nothing other than Irving mocking James in a video featuring the song “Coming Home.” That’s probably part of the strategy to be traded.
Zach Parise got some redemption.
The Minnesota winger sent Wednesday’s Stanley Cup playoffs game against the Blues to overtime with a game-tying goal with 22.7 seconds remaining in the third period.
Parise made up for robbing his team of a goal when he inadvertently poked the cheap nhl jerseys puck out of the net after it slipped behind Blues goalie Jake Allen, who had stopped all 43 Wild shots prior to Parise’s goal.
The Wild dominated the Blues through the first three periods, but Allen kept them out of the net. Coming out of a timeout with 35 seconds remaining, the Wild had an extra attacker with an empty net at the other end. Parise scored off a beautiful touch pass from Mikko Koivu.
The Wild outshot the Blues 18-6 in the third period and held a 44-21 advantage in shots on goal.
Vladimir Tarasenko, the anti-Brett Hull, seldom reveals his emotions to reporters. It’s frustrating, because his thoughts matter to so many people, but it’s how he goes about his business — icy off ice.
Thus the All-Star has been pretty reserved about that whole coach-firing thing. One could argue that the silence spoke volumes. But finally, after Thursday’s win, he opened up (a tad) to my question about why the Blues play well under Mike Yeo.
“We changed our strategy a little bit,” Tarasenko said. “It’s not a question of (if Ken) Hitchcock was better or good or something like that — both coaches are great. But we didn’t play like we were supposed to do, we didn’t play 100 percent before. But now, I hope we find our game. Try to play more aggressive and the main part is play for each other. If one guy makes a mistake, you see how many guys are blocking shots, back checks and all this stuff. Play for each other every moment, every day and every game and go small steps.
“Our goal is the Stanley Cup, and that’s why we’re here.”
Can this team in transition win the Cup? They’re now playing a zippy brand of hockey with stalwart goaltending, a functioning zone defensive scheme and an attitude refreshed following the firing. They may not win the Stanley Cup, but at least they’ll probably make the Stanley Cup playoffs. But a couple of things we have to remember: 1. The minor-league guys are probably going to come back to earth at some point. 2. It’s very possible St. Louis trades No. 2 point leader Kevin Shattenkirk or fellow unrestricted free agent Patrik Berglund, who’s been actually scoring goals and also made a statement shot-block early in Thursday’s victory over Vancouver.
Perhaps general manager Doug Armstrong could trade one guy for assets, but keep the other for a playoff run?
As for Tarasenko, the biggest difference under Yeo has been his average time on ice. In the eight games since Hitch’s firing, No. 91 has averaged 19:46 per game. In the 50 games under Hitch this season, Tarasenko averaged 18:04.
In the Hitch 50, Tarasenko scored 22 goals with 27 assists and a minus-11 rating in plus-minus.
In the following eight under Yeo, he scored five goals with an assist … and a plus-three rating.
“Every goal is not totally (about the) guy who scored,” he said. “It’s all five guys on the ice.”
A story to follow — what center will Yeo pair with Tarasenko into March and April (and maybe May)? Clearly, Tarasenko enjoys playing with Jori Lehtera, who has underwhelmed from a points and face-off standpoint this season — though, in a tight game Thursday, he set a Karl Malone-like screen in front of the Canucks goalie, blocking that gent’s view of a pretty shot and goal by Tarasenko.
Paul Stastny wins face-offs and fared well when, this month, was paired with No. 91. I love the Tarasenko-Stastny-Alexander Steen line. We’ll have to see how much we see it.
Check this out, regarding the Blues and blocked shots. Entering Friday, there had been exactly 100 NHL games played since Feb. 1 (Yeo’s first game). So, that makes for 200 shot-block totals (one for each team in each game). Of those 200 shot-block totals, only one team has put up three of the 20 highest totals, and that team is St. Louis (24 at Montreal, 22 at Philadelphia and 21 against Toronto in Yeo’s first game).
What is the Blues’ shot-blocking mentality?
“Desperation,” Yeo said. “Recognizing that every play could be the difference in the hockey game. That’s what we continue to try to build. All those little plays add up to the difference in a game. And what I like about it now is — every night it’s a different guy.”
A little advice for Mizzou – do a little inquiry of Michael Porter Sr.
See if the Washington assistant hoops coach would be interested in returning to Columbia under the new coach’s staff (assuming, of course, there will be a new coach). It’s worth a shot. Because maybe, just maybe, Mizzou could entice both Porter and his son, high school hoops sensation Michael Jr., to both return from the Seattle area to Columbia (and both of Porter Sr.’s daughters play for the Mizzou women’s team).
The younger Michael, and his brother, Jontay, are currently committed to Washington, where dad is an assistant to tight family friend Lorenzo Romar, who coaches Washington’s perennial underachievers. The Huskies are 9-17 – and that’s with Markelle Fultz, a projected top-three pick in the NBA draft.
Honestly, Michael and his brother are both so highly touted, it’s worth wondering if Mizzou should try to hire Romar as the head coach. Again, just saying, but maybe there’s a chance to get all the Porters without Romar.
As for the team of Cierra Porter (and the injured Bri Porter), the Mizzou women’s hoops squad is clicking. The Tigers are 18-9 after a win at Florida — and ESPN.com bracketologist Charlie Creme has Mizzou as a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament. You’ve read a lot about Sophie Cunningham lately — she scored 28 points in the win at Florida. The Tigers now have 18 wins for the third consecutive season. The last time they did this? It was from 1984-1987.
But perhaps the biggest news involving Mizzou this week was the undergrad who won a date with the tennis star Genie Bouchard. During Super Bowl LI, Bouchard tweeted about the Falcons taking a huge lead. On Twitter, Mizzou student John Goehrke made a bet — if the Patriots came back to win, she had to go on a date with him.
And, yep, she was a woman of her word — this week, Geohrke flew to New York for the date. And so, after my ill-fated 1998 courting of Conchita Martínez, Mizzou students are now one for two on getting a date with a pro tennis player.
All-Star snub! St. Louis native Bradley Beal (Chaminade) was considered to be, if you will, the 13th-best player in the NBA’s cheap jerseys Eastern Conference. So when All-Star Kevin Love went down with injury, many thought the Wizards guard would earn Love’s spot in Sunday’s game. After all, since the announcing of the All-Star reserves, Washington is 8-1 and Beal has averaged 24.3 points. Instead, the league picked the beleaguered Carmelo Anthony, a forward, to replace Love. Anthony averages more points, but his Knicks are reeling.
Have the Kroenkes actually discovered a potential star player? The Denver Nuggets (and the Colorado Avalanche … and the NFL’s Rams) have been a franchise in flux. Flummoxed. But may I introduce to you Nikola Joki. He’s like Darko Milicic if Darko had actually made it. From Jan. 12 to now, Jokic has averaged 23.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists. He’s 6-foot-11. And the Nuggets are 10-5 in games he’s played.
He turns just 22 on Sunday.
Lastly, Saturday night is the NBA All-Star Weekend’s Taco Bell Skills Challenge. If there were actually a challenge involving the skills of eating Taco Bell, I’d be the Michael Jordan.
From conducting a record-setting basketball lesson to being awestruck by one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Kevin Durant relished his first visit to India.The Golden State Warriors’ forward recently wrapped up a three-day trip in which he supported the continued growth of basketball in India, where the NBA is committed to developing talent at the grassroots level and shaping the game’s future there. “The buzz around basketball here is growing and growing every single day,” Durant said. “Getting up at 6 in the morning to watch a Finals game, that shows dedication, that shows passion and love. There are so many basketball players here. It’s on us as NBA players to inspire new basketball players. … We’re just planting seeds, and hopefully by next year at this time we’ll see more and more eyes on the game of basketball.” Durant’s jam-packed experience came six weeks after he led the Warriors to their second NBA championship in three years, earning Finals MVP honors with averages of 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists in a five-game series victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Fittingly, fans showered the 28-year-old Durant with cheap nba jerseys chants of “M-V-P, M-V-P” when he arrived in New Delhi last Thursday — the first of many outpourings of support for the 2013-14 regular-season MVP in a country where basketball is the second-fastest-growing sport among boys and girls. “It’s been overwhelming, this much love,” Durant said during the trip. “It’s definitely appreciated.” The eight-time All-Star showed his appreciation on Friday when he became the first active NBA player to visit The NBA Academy India, an elite basketball training center for the country’s top male and female prospects located in the Delhi National Capital Region. The academy, which opened in May, builds on the NBA’s basketball and youth development initiatives in India. The Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program has reached more than six million youth nationwide since its launch in 2013. In addition, the first two NBA Basketball Schools — a network of tuition-based development programs around the world open to international male and female players ages 6-18 — launched in Mumbai in April and in New Delhi in June. At the academy, Durant led prospects through a series of shooting, passing, dribbling and defensive drills before conducting a large-scale basketball lesson for 3,459 youth from the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program. Between the youth on site and those who participated virtually from Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata via satellite, the clinic set a Guinness World Record for the largest basketball lesson at multiple venues. “Sharing my love of basketball with thousands of boys and girls across India was an unbelievable experience,” Durant said. “It was an honor to coach these amazing kids and to be a part of this special day.” Durant’s day also featured the unveiling of two new basketball courts built for the Ramjas School as part of the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation.
To have a person like Kevin Durant coming here and inaugurating [the courts] is a lifetime dream.” “To have a person like Kevin Durant coming here and inaugurating [the courts] is a lifetime dream,” Ramjas Principal Rachna Pant said. “My entire school is on cloud nine.” Another highlight for Durant in India was Saturday’s tour of the Taj Mahal. One of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the marble mausoleum was built in the 1600s. “Taj Mahal, got it crossed off [my list],” Durant said in a video posted on his YouTube page. “Just the history, the deep tradition, you can really appreciate. “When you see something that’s this old, 300-plus years, you realize that’s three centuries of culture that will forever be here to the end of times,” Durant said. “Just think about that. When they built this, they probably didn’t know how long this thing would stay up. To have this as a wonder of the world, that’s legacy-changing.” Durant believes the legacy of Indian basketball is just beginning. He noted the recent groundbreaking accomplishments of Sim Bhullar and Satnam Singh. The Canadian-born Bhullar became the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA when he debuted for the Sacramento Kings on April 7, 2015, while Singh became the first Indian-born player drafted into the league when the Dallas Mavericks selected him with the 52nd pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. “There are two guys right now,” Durant said. “It’s just a matter of time before two becomes four and four becomes eight.”