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By Sam Smith | 3.09.2015 | 10:15 a.m. CT
Where's the love?
You wonder if it’s not so much whether Kevin Love would want to stay in Cleveland as much as would he even be pursued that intensely as a max salary free agent. He sat in key moments in yet another fourth quarter last week against Toronto. He’s remained professional, but playing in meaningful games for the first time in his career he’s at a five-year low in scoring, lowest since his rookie year in rebounding, shooting the second worst of his career and even at a pedestrian 36 percent as supposedly just a three-point shooter now with so much attention on LeBron James.
Miami acquisitions heating up
The Heat are only in contention to make the playoffs. And they did make a heck of a trade for Goran Dragic. But no one has worked the minor leagues (China, included) like they have with Tyler Johnson and Henry (nee Bill) Walker from the D-league, Michael Beasley back from China and Hassan Whiteside from the world. “I don’t know where’d we be without guys from the D-League or China,” said coach Erik Spoelstra.
The latest in your grass is not greener category is Channing Frye, who took off to Orlando, where they’re on a second coach this season and he is at career lows or close in basically every category. He questioned the Suns suggestion he didn’t give them a chance to match salaries much like the issues Joe Johnson claimed he had when he departed Phoenix.
Before one for two Friday, Rajon Rondo had not attempted a free throw in five games playing more than 140 minutes. He’s at 31.7 percent on the season. With injuries and a tough closing schedule can a team like the Pelicans knock them out of the playoffs? It doesn’t seem like the Spurs or Clippers are candidates to slip. It’s likely also why Rondo keeps taking all those jump shots. Driving may get you to the free throw line. Rondo was 50th last week among guards in plus/minus statistics with the team actually losing points when he’s on the court. The consensus in Dallas seems to be they’ll likely forget his name come this summer when he is a free agent.
Some are lobbying in Denver for local favorite and native Chauncey Billups as new coach. Mike D’Antoni, who started coaching there before he hit it big in Phoenix, also has been mentioned in speculation. D’Antoni doesn’t get much notice about it, but likely no one has had more influence changing the NBA game to its current “stretch four,” spacing, shooting game than D’Antoni, a style widely mocked when D’Antoni coached the Suns.
Early entry debate
How about accusing the most socially progressive sports league in American history of racism? Yet, that seemed to be what an attorney for the players’ association did last week. Gary Kohlman said of allowing players into the NBA directly from high school, "If they were white and hockey players they would be out there playing. If they were white and baseball players, they would be out there playing. Because most of them are actually African-American and are in a sport and precluded from doing it, they have to go into this absurd world of playing for one year.” It’s obvious this is part of the union’s new bargaining tactic to add to the labor discussion as many issues as possible in the form of straw men to distract the opposition and then compromise. The length of a college stay is a much debated issue whether it’s good for the sport versus fair for the individual. That’s understandable, though the union position is erroneous as many fields require training or degrees or tests, like law and accounting, before you can work in the big leagues. Try getting a job with a law firm without a law degree. Anyway, it can be debated. But to accuse the NBA of all leagues when it: Promotes a womens’ league, AIDS prevention before even many in civil society, bringing the game to the poorest nations of the world in Africa, has had African-American coaches when the nation still was sorting out the voting rights law. It begins to show the players may be willing to sacrifice their dignity and respect for a bargaining position. Thankfully, the NBA won’t do that.
It was unusual to hear so many veteran players, like Kevin Garnett -- “To be honest, they quit on Brian Shaw, I thought they’d quit again (against the Timbereolves). A quitter is a quitter. That was my take on that.” Wow -- and David West, condemn Nuggets players for the firing of Brian Shaw. There have been few circumstances when players have so obviously given up, character flaws which will make teams question players like Ty Lawson.
The definition of unpopular may be if Steve Kerr has issues with you. "If Daryl Morey wants to run his own one-man campaign for James Harden (as MVP), he can do that. That's fine," Kerr told Bay area reporters. "But we're focused on other stuff.”
The Bulls finish this four games in five days Monday against Memphis and yet another Gasol/Gasol center jump. It’s been the toughest stretch for the Grizzlies this season, losing five of their last 10 after Anthony Davis got them again Saturday and in the last month have lost to the Kings, Jazz and Timberwolves. A little cranky as well as Memphis coach David Joerger after Saturday’s loss walked out of the locker room, asked reporters if there were questions and then turned around and left before anyone could ask.
Josh Smith got plenty of hostile reaction when the Rockets were in Atlanta and Smith called fans “bandwagoners.” He probably didn’t know the phrase originated when a circus clown used a bandwagon to gain attention for his political campaign. Or maybe he did.
Golden State rivalry?
Pretty good continuing Western Conference rivalry with the Clippers and Warriors, and having played last year in the playoffs it’s as close as the NBA gets these days. There even was a Clippers’ player, sort of, Dahntay Jones Sunday doing one of those pretend not on purpose bumps of an opponent, Draymond Green this time, you see guys like Kendrick Perkins or Kevin Garnett pull in timeouts. Green was pretty good basically saying it was the only time Jones would get on camera. Doc Rivers, meanwhile, lobbied for DeAndre Jordan as Defensive Player of the Year, which seems questionable since the Clippers’ defense is about middle of the league. The Warriors’ is best, making the case for Green, which Kerr reiterated he doesn’t have time to do.
NBA news and notes
Russell Westbrook got his fifth triple double in his last six games Sunday and is averaging 31 shots per game his last five. Not to say Westbrook is enjoying this role, but the suspicion now is he’s the one behind the rumors of Durant leaving in free agency. OK, it’s a joke, but how’s it going to be when the reigning MVP returns from injury and wants his shots? Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, when asked about Nikola Mirotic for Rookie of the Year because of his production for an actual team in contention as opposed to the other rookies, also said he doesn’t do such lobbying. Dewayne Dedmon following the Magic’s win over Boston supposedly didn’t have much to say Sunday starting in place of injured Magic center Nik Vucevic. Dedmon had career highs of 11 points and 16 rebounds. So Dedmon told no tales, as it turned out. Somebody stop me!