Posts Tagged ‘Jason Thompson’

Morning shootaround — July 17


VIDEO: Daily Zap for games played July 16

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: Pistons, Kings still talking trade for Smith | Spoelstra: No ‘regrets’ over LeBron leaving | NBA may rethink Draft lottery | Taylor opens up on Love trade talk

No. 1: Report: Kings, Pistons re-open J-Smoove trade talks — A few days before the 2014 Draft, there was buzz that the Pistons had engaged in trade talks with the Sacramento Kings with forward Josh Smith being the top name shifting from one team to another. In the weeks since, there hasn’t been much chatter on that front … until now. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports that the teams have started talking about a J-Smoove swap once again:

The Detroit Pistons and the Sacramento Kings have resumed trade discussions on a deal that could send Josh Smith to Sacramento, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

Sources told ESPN.com the Kings have continued to express interest in Smith and the parties are on the hunt for a third team that could help facilitate the deal.

As ESPN.com reported last month, Detroit and Sacramento have engaged in trade discussions that would potentially land Smith in the same frontcourt with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay. Initial talks called for Sacramento to send Jason Thompson and either Derrick Williams or Jason Terry to the Pistons for Smith, but those discussions reached an impasse and were pushed into July along with the rest of both teams’ free-agent business, sources said.

Sources said the Pistons also seriously discussed various sign-and-trade scenarios this month that would have landed restricted free agent Greg Monroe in Portland, but the Blazers ultimately pulled themselves out of the race for Monroe by signing free-agent big man Chris Kaman to join Robin Lopez in the Blazers’ center rotation.

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, furthermore, is known to be fond of splashy moves. And trading for Smith, given the lukewarm reviews of his first season with the Pistons, would certainly qualify as bold.

Another potential bonus is Smith’s close relationship with Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, whom Sacramento has been targeting in trade talks for some time.

The Kings, sources say, prefer to trade Terry rather than buy him out of the final year of his contract valued at nearly $6 million, while Terry has said he’s interested in a return to the Dallas Mavericks if he’s ultimately released and can get to free agency.


VIDEO:
Relive some of Josh Smith’s best plays as a Piston last season

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For New Kings, Three Must Be Company


VIDEO: The Starters break down Rudy Gay being traded to the Kings

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – What happens when three of the NBA’s top usage players come together on the same team, in one starting lineup? That is now first-year Sacramento Kings coach Mike Malone‘s Rubik’s Cube.

As Rudy Gay, the man atop the analytics movement’s love-to-hate list — and it’s reciprocal — watched his new team play Monday night from under a red-and-blue retro Kings hat, he surely enjoyed the offensive explosion Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins and his other new teammates dropped on the Dallas Mavericks in a resounding victory.

And then Gay surely wondered from where is he going to get his?

“That’s a good question,” Malone said. “You start Isaiah, who has always been a scoring guard. You have DeMarcus, who’s going to be the focal point of our offense. And then you add a guy like Rudy. And you have Ben [McLemore]. You have Derrick [Williams]. The one thing I’m proudest about is that we’re really sharing the ball. We haven’t shot the ball as well as we’d like this year, but the ball movement, the unselfishness, has been there.

“That’s going to be my challenge to this group now.”

Against Dallas, Cousins scored 32 points and attempted 17 shots. Thomas, a pound-the-rock point guard, scored 24 and took 16 shots. Williams scored 31, also on 16 shots. The Kings, as Malone noted, are also developing the rookie shooting guard McLemore, who got seven shots. That’s 56 shot attempts among four players.

Enter Gay. The Kings acquired the handsomely paid and athletic 6-foot-8 forward — infamously known by a burgeoning group of meddlesome analytics worshipers as the game’s great ball-stopper — knowing he averages nearly as many shot attempts per game (18.6) as points (19.4).

When the Kings (6-13) take the floor tonight at Sleep Train Arena against the last-place Jazz (10 ET, League Pass), assuming Gay is ready to go, the starting lineup will be Thomas, McLemore, Gay, Jason Thompson and Cousins. The league’s rules committee has not yet convened to allow for the use of more than one basketball.

“I’m not going to get into that,” Cousins said when asked if the addition of Gay will mean subtracting from his team-high 17.2 shot attempts per game. “We have our game plans here and we have a system. Coach is going to do the best job of putting us in a position that he thinks is best and whatever that may be that’s what we’re going to go with.”

With that, usage will become the hot advanced stat of the day in Sacramento. Usage is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor. Cousins ranks No. 1 among all players — not just centers, but all players — with a usage percentage of 35.0 percent. Among centers, Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez is second at 26.9 percent. Dwight Howard‘s usage is 23.5 percent.

Despite being the backup to the traded Greivis Vasquez, Thomas ranks tied for sixth among guards in usage with Dwyane Wade at 27.7 percent (Greivis’ usage percentage was 18.8 percent). Gay’s usage, 30.1 percent with the Raptors, ranks third among forwards behind Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant.

To compare other trios, the Rockets’ usage looks like this: James Harden, 27.3 percent; Howard, 23.5 percent; and Chandler Parsons, 18.9 percent. Here’s the Thunder: Russell Westbrook, 32.0 percent; Durant 30.7 percent; and Serge Ibaka, 19.1 percent.

Not only did the Kings add another high-usage player in Gay, but also an inefficient player. He’s shooting just 38.8 percent on the season (although his 3-point accuracy is way up at 37.3 percent), an especially disappointing number considering he spent so much time during the offseason working to raise a shooting percentage that has sagged badly over the past two seasons.

Thomas and Cousins have been a strong duo. The Kings are scoring 111.7 points per 100 possessions when they’re on the floor together, which was limited — 242 minutes in 18 games, or about 13 mpg. Their minutes together should rise significantly now that Vasquez is out of the picture. Against Dallas — notably a poor defensive team — they played together for 36 minutes and registered an offensive rating of 119.9 and a defensive rating of 85.5.

Sacramento’s hope is that the addition of Gay forces defenses to pick their poison. Conversely, the analytics crowd is sounding the alarm, warning of an incoming poison pill.

“I know everyone’s hung up on his 38 percent this year,” Malone said. “But if you look at his numbers throughout his career, he’s shot well over 45 percent a number of seasons. I’m not as concerned as a lot of these analytic people get concerned about. He’s a very talented player. End of games, he can make plays for you. He’s versatile. He can score in the post, handling the ball, catch-and-shoot, isolation. He’s talented and we become a much more talented team with him.”

NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper contributed to this report.


VIDEO: Rudy Gay talks about his move to Sacramento, hopes for Kings

Vegas Chips: Kings, Cousins Rising? Goodwin A Keeper? Brown At Home?

 

LAS VEGAS – Not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. OK, that does. But these don’t:

KINGS FIND ‘GOOD-LUCK CHARM?’

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The most remarkable comment I heard during Summer League came from new Sacramento Kings coach Mike Malone about DeMarcus Cousins after he watched the final game from the bench with the summer Kings searching for their first win, which they got: “I told him he was our good-luck charm.”

Wow. When Cousins is suddenly deemed a good-luck charm, you know things aren’t the same old same old. This guy was like the Grim Reaper in Sac, delivering seriously bad vibes wherever he wandered. But maybe, just maybe, new ownership, a new front office and a new coaching staff is breaking through the darkness (74-156 during Cousins’ three seasons) and getting through to the immature-yet-wildly talented big man.

Throughout the game, Cousins was encouraging rookie Ben McLemore to remain confident with his shot and the former Jayhawk went on to score 27 points with nine rebounds.

“I went to Alabama and spent some time with him and his family (this summer),” Malone said. “I thanked him for coming to this game and I’ll come back up (to Las Vegas) and spend some time with him with USA basketball. But I told him he was our good-luck charm. All our other veterans came, we couldn’t win a game. DeMarcus came and we got a win, so we needed that presence on the bench.”

Nothing wrong with doting on Cousins. Malone will give The 6-foot-11, 270-pounder who turns 23 next month — yes, it’s difficult to remember how young he still is — equal parts coddling and hard coaching. Cousins, entering his fourth season, is working on his third coach for a franchise that has operated at the height of dysfunction since he was drafted fifth overall after one season at Kentucky.

Even so, Cousins, despite rampant childish behavior, ejections and fines, has put up impressive numbers thus far. His career averages? Try 16.3 ppg, 9.8 rpg and 0.9 bpg in 29.8 mpg. Want to do a little comparison? Here’s Dwight Howard‘s numbers after his first three seasons: 15.1 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 1.6 bpg in 35.4 mpg. If you extrapolate Cousins’ numbers to per-36 minutes, his totals jump to 19.1 ppg, 11.8 rpg and 1.1 bpg.

It’s why new ownership and management believe if they can straighten out Cousins upstairs, they’ll have a foundation block and the face of the franchise they desperately want. That’s a notion that even Cousins says he can now envision. Continuing to compete with the game’s other young stars at Team USA workouts as he is this week can only benefit Cousins and the Kings.

“I believe I mature after every season,” Cousins told reporters Monday’s workout. “I believe people forget I am just 22. At the same time I’ve got a big responsibility. It’s going to take me time, and I’m still learning. But I believe I do improve every year.”

How much can the Kings improve this season? It’s not time to call them a playoff contender in a stacked Western Conference, but they finally appear to be headed in a positive direction. The Kings acquired emerging 6-foot-6 point guard Greivis Vasquez (career-highs 13.9 ppg, 9.0 apg last season) from New Orleans in the Tyreke Evans trade. Marcus Thornton will likely start at shooting guard, with rookies McLemore and Ray McCallum, who had an impressive Summer League (12.6 ppg, 4.0 apg), adding intriguing depth. Blue-collar forward Carl Landry is back in town and defensive-minded Luc Mbah a Moute joins a front line that includes Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes and Jason Thompson.

There’s also a budding camaraderie. Point guard Isaiah Thomas, Thornton, Thompson and Jimmer Fredette made appearances in Vegas and even worked out with the summer team.

“From Jason Thompson to Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer, Marcus Thornton, even DeMarcus, them coming around, sensing the change in the ownership and the commitment from ownership, our front office staff, our coaching staff, they know it’s a new day in Sacramento,” Malone said. “I think they’re all excited, looking forward to the change that’s ahead.”

It’s a welcome change for a beleaguered franchise that just months ago was on the brink of bolting for Seattle.

LATE FIRST-ROUND SLEEPER?

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One-and-done Kentucky point guard Archie Goodwin was advised to stay in school. His Summer League performance might have been the start of showing why he did not. A lanky 6-foot-5 with long arms, Goodwin finished third on the Suns in scoring (13.1 ppg). More impressive, he shot 50 percent from the floor (26-for-52) — significantly better than his 44 percent as a college freshman — and made eight of his 14 3-point attempts for 57.1 percent (he was 17-for-64 at Kentucky).

“I know what I’m capable of and I just wanted everybody else to know that I can be something they had question marks on,” Goodwin said.

Most impressive was Goodwin’s last game in the inaugural Summer League tournament championship game against eventual-champion Golden State. Yes, it’s only Summer League, but the stakes and pressure were at their highest in a very competitive atmosphere. Goodwin scored 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting. He also had games of 22 and 20 points and scored in double figures in five of the seven games.

He consistently outplayed 2012 lottery pick Kendall Marshall, who averaged 5.6 ppg and 4.0 apg while shooting just 38.7 percent overall, although 40 percent from beyond the arc. (As our own Scott Howard-Cooper reported, Marshall was on the trading block in Phoenix even before Summer League began.)

Goran Drajic has the starting point guard job locked down along with newly acquired shooting guard Eric Bledsoe. Shannon Brown is a veteran presence off the bench and Malcolm Lee was acquired via a Draft-day trade with Golden State that netted Goodwin.

First-year coach Jeff Hornacek, a salty combo guard in his playing days with Phoenix and Utah, coached the Suns’ summer squad and aid Goodwin’s talent and athleticism are obvious. Now it’s a matter of how much he improves and learns through training camp, Hornacek added.

“I’ve learned just about how to play the game,” Goodwin said of playing under Hornacek. “He’s taught me a lot of things. Before we came here I was with him working out. He taught me things on my shot, taught me how to read situations, when to kick the ball, when to attack, things like that. So he’s been really good for me.”

BROWN IN CLEVELAND COMFORT ZONE

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It’s a little weird for a coach to go back to the team that fired him, unless he’s Billy Martin. But, Mike Brown is doing just that, returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers after being fired after the 2009-10 season and before LeBron James‘ decision to bolt. Cleveland hired Byron Scott to replace Brown and now Brown, fired last season by the Lakers after a 1-4 start, replaces Scott.

Brown, 43, is a bit older and wiser after his experiences as the only man to coach both James and Kobe Bryant. Maybe he was out of his element in post-Phil Jackson Lakerland (and who wasn’t last season?), but Brown said he wouldn’t change his approach if he had it to do all over again.

“I don’t know if there’s any one thing. I feel like I’m going to be the same coach,” Brown said. “If I was able to go through the same experience again, I’d probably do it the same way. I felt like I worked hard. I felt like I had a plan. It felt like in time the plan would have been executed in the right way, so I enjoyed my time there. But just like any other business that you’re in, when you go through trials and tribulations, whether it’s positive or negative or whatever, you grow in all types of ways. So I feel like I’ve grown. I feel like I’ve matured, not only on the floor as a coach, but even off the floor, too. So a lot of positives I take from that situation.”

Brown said he and his family always loved living in Cleveland, in fact, they were moving back even before the job offer came along. And, by the way, he has a pretty nice roster to work with, including a rising star in Kyrie Irving, as Brown tries to lead the Cavs back to the playoffs for the first time since he and LeBron left town.

The Kings Nearly Stopped The Streak

HANG TIME WEST – Of course they think about it.

The Kings had a very good chance to beat the defending champions on Feb. 26, in Miami and everything. That in itself ranks the missed opportunity pretty high on the regret scale. But now the Heat have 24 consecutive wins, have amassed the second-longest winning streak in NBA history and have the record of 33 in a row by the 1971-72 Lakers within range, and it’s the Kings, of all teams, that had the best chance to end the Miami express.

“It’s crazy to think that we could have been that team to break the streak,” power forward Jason Thompson said.

The Cavaliers had the Heat on the ropes Wednesday in Cleveland, leading by 27 points before Miami asserted itself for a 98-95 victory. Two nights before that, the Celtics were up 17 in Boston and the visitors responded for a 105-103 win. But the Kings. Oh, the Kings.

Sacramento went into the game with a 19-38 record but built an eight-point lead in the first half. It was within 112-110 after consecutive 3-pointers from Marcus Thornton. And after Dwyane Wade missed two free throws with 20.8 seconds remaining in regulation, the Kings capitalized when DeMarcus Cousins put back an offensive rebound with nine seconds to force overtime.

That five-minute extra period ended at 124-124. Sacramento got off the ride there – the Heat opened the second overtime with an 11-3 run and went on to a 141-129 victory, tying a Miami team record for single-game scoring as LeBron James had 40 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds while Wade went for 39 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

“We still weren’t in the caliber of that basketball team,” Kings coach Keith Smart said some three weeks later. “Close, but we didn’t get the ultimate prize.”

The win.

“I thought we had it, yes,” Smart said. “But until it actually goes in the bucket, you walk in the locker room and say, ‘Man, it was real close.’ But I thought our guys played the right way. For the most part, our team has played pretty well against a lot of teams. There’s been only a handful, if a handful, of games where we just couldn’t do anything and were really blown out. But overall, these guys have competed and played at a high level and worked every day like you were playing for it all. That’s all you can ask for a team. With all the other issues that have gone on with our basketball team, nevertheless these guys still come in with a working mentality and we’re going to keep going until our opportunity comes. And it’s coming.

“That game is in the books until the next time we play the Miami Heat, which is next year. You move on. There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s great for basketball right now. It’s great for our fans and fans of basketball that are kind of watching this and kind of looking.”

That night at AmericanAirlines Arena extended the Heat winning streak to 12, which seemed pretty impressive at the time. In the new perspective of 24 in a row and counting, it is an infant moment in the serious run at history that almost never happened.

Rick’s Tips: Waiver Watching





It’s time to hit up the waiver wire during the best part of the fantasy season as the playoffs are upon us. I haven’t been with y’all for a couple weeks, so I’m doubling your pleasure with 10 names that could come to the rescue for your team.

Ramon Sessions

In separate moves on deadline day, the Lakers shipped Derek Fisher to Houston and brought in Ramon Sessions from the Cavaliers to solidify the point guard position.

Ramon isn’t starting yet, but he averaged 8.5 points and 5.5 assists in 22 minutes in his first two games in Purple and Gold. Lakers coach Mike Brown recently told reporters Steve Blake may keep the starting job for the remainder of the season, but I’m not buying it. You don’t ship out Five-Ring Fisher and then not start his replacement. It may take another week or two, but when Sessions gets promoted, he’ll flirt with double-doubles on a nightly basis.

Klay Thompson

As soon as the Warriors selected this sharp-shooting two-guard with the 11th pick in the 2011 draft, the writing was on the wall regarding Monta Ellis’ future in Oakland. It was only a matter of time before Monta was dealt, which happened last Tuesday, opening the starting gig for Thompson.

In five games as a starter, Thompson is averaging 18.6 points, 3.2 assists and 2.2 3s in 36.2 minutes. The rookie is light on rebounds and steals, and he’s shooting just 40 percent since the promotion, but the points and 3s are a nice boost this late in the season. (more…)

About Last Night: Fireworks For 2012

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’ve barely been at this thing for a week and already there are tons of fireworks. And we get them on a daily basis.

The Timberwolves, armed with a Kevin Love-led young crew and the dazzling magicianship (made that word up) of young Ricky Rubio, stunned the reigning champs to kick off the New Year (ending an 18-game slide in the process). The Heat steamrolled their way to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history, capping a huge weekend for LeBron James in style. The Nuggets beat back the Lakers in a rematch of their New Year’s Eve tilt despite Kobe Bryant reaching the 28,000-point club. And the Clippers lived up to their “Lob City” moniker (see the handy work of Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin below) while handing the Trail Blazers their first defeat of the young season.

You can see all of that and more in the Daily Zap:

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There is at least one notable absence from this morning’s delivery of highlights from last night. Second-year Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins was sent home before Sunday’s game against the Hornets after demanding a trade. No worries, though, as both Jason Thompson and Tyreke Evans made up his absence in the Top 10 plays:

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Whatever issues the Celtics have this year, it won’t be the play at the point guard position. Rajon Rondo was as splendid Sunday, notching a triple double in a win over the Wizards:

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Hump Day Hoops Roundup

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We know, we know, it’s just the preseason.

Tell that to the schedule makers, who had a nine-game preseason schedule last night that we could have sworn looked like something we’d see in the middle of December.

This month of action is indeed the warm up act for the “real thing.”

But that doesn’t mean we can’t get down with the Hump Day Hoops Roundup on a Wednesday morning:

DALEMBERT OUT, BOOGIE IN?

The Kings will play the next month to six weeks without the services of Sam Dalembert because of a groin injury. That could put rookie center DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins into the starting lineup for the start of the regular season, per Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee.

It’s a big loss for the Kings, who were hoping to become a better defensive team behind Dalembert’s shot-blocking.

“It’s a problem because the perimeter has to play tight because we want to protect them and the foul situation,” said Kings coach Paul Westphal. “We don’t have the size to clog the lane like we’d like to, so our defense has to be a little different on the perimeter as well.”

The Kings have started rookie DeMarcus Cousins at center during the preseason, and that could continue in the regular season. When Jason Thompson isn’t at power forward, he is Cousins’ backup.

Cousins fouled out of the previous two games.

“DeMarcus can block some shots, he can take some charges and clog the middle,” Westphal said. “But he fights foul trouble, and he’s not going to just be an eraser like Dalembert, like Hassan can be.”

THE NBA = THE NEW COOL IN RUSSIA

A visit from CSKA Moscow brought out some interesting sights and sounds in Miami. Who knew that the NBA was the new cool in Russia? Linda Robertson of the Miami Herald observed the scene and highlights the league’s truly global appeal.

While driving to AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday, brothers Pavel and Yuri Kopeche listened to Russian rap music to get into the mood for the Heat’s game against CSKA Moscow.

The rapper, Don Zagru, is known for satirizing the state of Russian society and wearing LeBron James jerseys.

We know that King James has worldwide appeal. Here was confirmation that LeBronsky is the ultimate symbol of cool in cool-hungry Moscow.

Somewhere, basketball salesman David Stern is smiling.

“The NBA is the new vodka in Russia,” said Yuri Kopeche, a Russian native who has lived in Miami for five years. “People cannot get enough basketball. If you’re wearing a LeBron James shirt or a Knicks or Lakers cap, people know you are Americanized.

“Of course, Russia is usually about five years behind the United States. Britney Spears is very popular right now.”

NO BOOZER INJURY INVESTIGATION

The Bulls and Carlos Boozer have squashed all this talk of an investigation as to how Boozer broke his hand, an injury that will keep him out of the first month of the regular season. Both Boozer and Bulls officials denounced a New York Daily News report that the team was digging into the matter, per Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.

“The guy was trying to create a story out of no-story,” Boozer said of the report after Bulls shootaround Tuesday morning. “Horrible [report]. Obviously, you want to get your facts right before you decide to write something that’s not true. Horrible report. My Bulls are behind me, my teammates are behind me. For me, it’s disgusting when you have a reporter write something that’s not true.”

Boozer, who over the summer signed a five-year deal worth as much as $80 million, expects to have his cast off in three weeks. He hopes to return faster than the eight weeks that was anticipated by team doctors.

“I hope I’ll be back quicker than the normal time,” he said. “But [I’ll] let the bone heal and see how it feels when I get my cast off in three weeks.”

Boozer admitted that he was upset by the report but said he was just trying to focus on getting back on the floor.

“I can’t worry about that, man,” he said. “I can’t worry about what people write. I know what’s real and what’s going on and for me, I’m just here for my team, supporting my team. I’ve got the support of my team, my organization, and I’m just looking to forward to getting back out there when my hand’s ready.”

BLAZERS MOVING ON WITHOUT ODEN?

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Hang Time Videos

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We love videos around here.

The good, the bad and the wickedly funny.

But we especially love stuff like this gem from Mavericks star Caron Butler, which is a little bit of all three:

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JT CRIBS

Forget that “Cribs” show you’re used to, thanks to our friends in Sacramento, we’re going behind the door with Kings big man Jason Thompson.

He gives us an inside look at his crib.

It’s pretty class for a youngster, but that color scheme in the hallway bathroom …

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AWARDS SEASON

We’ve also got a little awards action here from Bulls.com’s Sam Smith, who jumped the gun by a few weeks on these things. But he has some interesting picks, some we agree with and some we don’t.

Take a look and see where you stack up.

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ONE MORE LOOK

We feel it’s only right to take one more look at Suns dunk artist Jason Richardson‘s fine work against the young Bulls.

(Note to Bulls: Um, fellas, JRich has been cramming on people since the 90s, you might want to check and see where he is when a ball comes flying off the rim like that. Two words, B-O-X and O-U-T!)

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THE BLACK MAMBA AS A DECOY?

I know it sounds ridiculous, but the Fan Night dug up something we never thought we’d hear.

Phil Jackson actually drew up a play once for Kwame Brown instead of Kobe Bryant in huddle. I know it sounds like a cruel joke but it’s for real, straight from the Black Mamba’s lips:

Luckily, that play Jackson scratched up for Kwame ended up just like all of these: