DALLAS – One by one the Los Angeles Lakers sat before us earlier this week, and to a man professed their allegiance (in so many words) to Brian Shaw as the obvious and reasonable replacement for Phil Jackson.
Everyone from Kobe Bryant to Luke Walton made it clear that they would like Shaw as their next coach. Yet his is just one name that has popped up on the early (and unofficial) list of replacements for the legendary Jackson, whose 11 NBA titles present humongous shoes to fill for any coach.
Forgive me for not being terribly excited about those retreads, but has anyone noticed that new-school coaches like Tom Thibodeau and Erik Spoelstra, and either Scott Brooks or Lionel Hollins will be coaching teams in the NBA’s version of the Final Four?
Shaw would seem to be cut from that same mold. In addition, Shaw played on three of the Lakers’ championship teams in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and was an assistant coach on the 2009 and 2010 championship teams. (more…)
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If you’re talking about active players that have been in the NBA the longest without so much as sniffing the playoffs, leave Mike Dunleavy out of it.
He’s free now.
The Pacers forward will make his playoff debut Saturday when he and his teammates travel to Chicago for Game 1 of their first round series against the Bulls. It’s going to be a glorious day for Dunleavy, whose playoff drought lasted a staggering nine years. More from my main man Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star:
After nine years, 627 regular-season games and a major knee operation, Dunleavy will make his playoff debut when he comes off the bench in Game 1 against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday at United Center.
“It felt like a long time in some regards, but in some ways it’s gone fast,” said Dunleavy, who trailed only former Pacer Troy Murphy for most games without reaching the postseason. “Realistically, looking back, I don’t feel like I’ve been on a playoff team.”
Channing Frye did it again. One day after hitting the game-winner at the buzzer in Indiana, Frye hit another one with 6.6 seconds left to beat the Nets on Monday night, ruining Deron Williams’ home debut with his new team.
According to NBA.com StatsCube, only 45 shots (out of 186 tries, in 891 total games) have given a team the lead in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime this season. That’s a pretty dismal shooting percentage (24.2).
But amazingly, Frye isn’t the first guy to hit a game-winner in the final 10 seconds of a game two days in a row this season. Travel back Dec. 15 and 16, when Manu Ginobili hit game-winners against Milwaukee and in Denver. He gets extra credit for drawing a charge on Carmelo Anthony after the Denver bucket.
Three other players have hit multiple game-winners in the final 10 seconds of a game this season…
Michael Beasley: Nov. 17 vs. the Clippers and Dec. 26 at Cleveland
Rudy Gay: Nov. 20 vs. Miami and Jan. 24 at Toronto
Deron Williams: Nov. 6 vs. the Clippers and Nov. 13 at Charlotte
Carmelo Anthony and David West have hit two potential game-winners in the final 10 seconds, but one of Anthony’s was followed by Ginobili’s game-winner, and one of West’s was followed by a buzzer-beating tip-in by Mike Dunleavy in Indiana on Dec. 20.
In total, 125 different players have attempted to give their team the lead in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime. Deron Williams’ six attempts (including one after Frye’s game-winner last night) are the most, while Frye, Gay and Stephen Jackson (one make) have five attempts.
The most attempts without a make is three. Jordan Farmar, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Louis Williams are all 0-for-3 in such situations.
The new word today, boys and girls, is “karma.” I suspect even LeBron James, who wasn’t sure about “contraction,” has an idea what this means.
Now that karma is bold-faced and suddenly prominent in the basketball lingo, can we see some examples of such? Well, here’s a start:
Karma: Kevin Garnett (allegedly) calls Charlie Villanueva a cancer patient and then suffers an injury, misses a few weeks with a strained right calf.
Karma: Elton Brand reneges on a verbal pledge to re-sign with the Clippers (or so thought Mike Dunleavy), joins the Sixers, still looking to be who he once was. Meanwhile, back in L.A., heeerrreee’s Blake Griffin!
Karma: Michael Jordan criticizes Jerry Krause all those years for being a lousy general manager; Bobcats are floundering under Jordan’s rule.
Karma: Joe Dumars thinks Darko Milicic will turn out better than Carmelo Anthony; now trying to make a deal with Carmelo as the main figure.
Karma: Suns figure they’d be better off without Bryan Colangelo first and then Steve Kerr. Hmmmmm.
Karma: Ditto Trail Blazers and Kevin Pritchard.
Your turn, readers. Give us your examples of karma in the NBA.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Miami Heat’s 12-game winning streak is no more, courtesy of the Dallas Mavericks. The San Antonio Spurs continue their march, their streak is up to nine games now after a win over Phoenix. And you can add Mike Dunleavy to the growing list of players with a buzzer-beating game winning shot on their resume this season.
We could spend the next 400 words or so telling you all about what went down last night around the NBA, or we could just show you in the form of the Daily Zap:
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Desperate times call for desperate measures.
And prior to Sunday’s game at the Rose Garden, the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers were the living, breathing, jump-shooting and dunking embodiment of desperate.
The Blazers were trying to snap a six-game losing streak. The Clippers were trying to win on the road for the first time this season. The result was a fantastic wrestling match with some pretty good basketball mixed in for good measure.
Seriously, though, both of these teams will continue to fight to save their seasons. They have to, with so much drama swirling around their respective camps.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Did you miss the fireworks show in Los Angeles last night?
And we’re not talking about Blake Griffin‘s vicious 35-point, 14-rebound, seven-assist effort in a losing effort against the Utah Jazz. No, we’re talking about the surging Indiana Pacers — yes, that’s surging — and their upset of the Los Angeles Lakers on the two-time defending champ’s home floor.
The Pacers have notched wins over the Lakers and Heat and have won six of their past 10 games. If that doesn’t qualify as surging, we’re not sure what does.
The Prime Minister is certainly feeling good about “his Pacers” getting things going. He’s already begun the chatter about Pacers center Roy Hibbert sneaking his way onto the Eastern Conference All-Star team (with Dwight Howard getting voted in as the center, he figures Hibbert can battle Al Horford and Joakim Noah for a reserve spot). You already know about our grassroots campaign for Josh “McBob” McRoberts to make it to All-Star Weekend for the slam dunk competition.
Danny Granger said he hopes the rest of the league is taking notice of what they’re doing.
Kobe Bryant (season-high 41 points) is definitely taking note. He called the Pacers a playoff team.
“We’re not sneaking up on anybody anymore,” Roy Hibbert said. “We are a very talented team. You know we got guys that can shoot and I’m trying to put in work down there in the post. Only good things can come if we keep working and communicating.”
One of the most impressive things about the Pacers’ victories at Miami and the Lakers is that they built a double-digit lead against both of those teams and fought off the runs they made on them.
I’ve talked to a number of scouts around the league over the past few weeks and they’ve all said the Pacers are a dangerous team. Hibbert is getting rave reviews from so many people.
All you need to know is that the Pacers were the big winner of the day, though we love Trevor Ariza alongside Chris Paul in New Orleans and Courtney Lee in Rick Adelman‘s system in Houston could produce major fireworks for Rockets fans.
Whenever one of these multi-team, multi-player trades go down people start gushing about cap space gained or luxury tax thresholds avoided, but none of those (very important) things can … A) run a team, B) make a shot, or C) grab a rebound.
The Pacers snagged the best tangible piece of the deal in Darren Collison, a franchise (I didn’t say All-Star, yet, just franchise for now) point guard that would have been the first point guard taken in the June draft had he spent five years at UCLA instead of four.
It’s been a while since the Pacers had a player with this kind of talent, stability and clear-cut leadership potential at that position — someone suggested this morning that Mark Jackson was the last point guard to wear a Pacers uniform with the complete package of skills and make-up that Collison brings.
Pacers boss Larry Bird certainly seems pleased.
“We liked him coming out of college. I didn’t think he’d have the year he did last year,” Bird said (check for more of his thoughts in the video above). “He’s solid. He likes to defend. We know he can shoot the ball. He did a great job in college of putting the ball in the hole. We think he’s a complete player. He’s a young point guard to go with the rest of the core group we have, and we’ll just keep building on it.”
They get their point guard. They get a veteran with a defensive mind-set. And they rid themselves of a lousy contract — although, it should be said that Murphy was relentlessly productive here.
This is what the Pacers were planning for when they embarked on their long-term rebuilding plan. They knew they couldn’t count on hitting some kind of free agent bonanza next summer, not with the dearth of big names out there — and good luck getting Carmelo Anthony to Indiana. But they knew their increasingly favorable financial status would put them in a position to steal players from teams desperate to get under the luxury-tax threshold.
Like the New Orleans Hornets.
And this is just the beginning of the wheeling and dealing.
The Pacers still figure to go into the season with several players in the final year of their deals — Mike Dunleavy ($10,561,984), T.J. Ford ($8.5 million) and Jeff Foster ($6.655 million), and Jamaal Tinsley‘s $5.5 million will come off the books. They can trade them now, trade them near the trading deadline or hold onto them and watch their dollars come off the payroll at season’s end.
It’s been so long since the Pacers were a factor in the Eastern Conference playoff chase that one current NBA player laughed Wednesday night when we tried to explain to him that they were a power on par with the Utah Jazz, in terms of consistent playoff appearances, as recently as five years ago.
I know it sounds crazy to anyone with long-term memory issues, but there was a time (before LeBron James showed up in Cleveland and before the Detroit Pistons seized control of the East for half a decade) that the Pacers were considered a model franchise.
They had a blend of veterans and quality young talent, a stable front office and marquee value around the league.
Then the brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills happened (in 2004). The Pacers long road to recovery has been going on ever since, but we must admit that the road got a lot smoother with the addition of Collison.
He’s the first young, franchise-pillar they’ve added since they lucked into All-Star swingman Danny Granger with the 17th pick in the 2005 draft (courtesy of the miscalculations of a dozen teams that drafted ahead of them).
So if the Pacers are indeed just getting started with Granger and Collison as their main cogs, we like where this is going.