A survey of the players and teams making moves in last night's NBA action.
1. The Thunder's Body Language
If you have Insider, you should check out David Thorpe's piece on the chemistry of the Oklahoma City Thunder. There's a lot of speculation in the article, a lot based on the very shaky science of body language, most of it suggesting that this is a more selfish Thunder team than ones we've seen in the past. The piece serves as a reminder that if it's spring, it must be time to judge every time Kevin Durant shakes his hands in the air to demand the ball, every time Russell Westbrook ignores him, and every time Serge Ibaka stares into space. Last night? They looked fine to me.
Last season JaVale McGee delighted us with his investigative journalism, sense of direction, singing of Adele, and follow-up dunking. We will no doubt continue to cover JaVale's ups and downs, along with the exploits of his onetime partner in crime, Andray Blatche. But just for fun, we thought it would be cool if we tried to find this season's JaVale — the player with the perfect mix of on-the-court follies and social media highlights (or vice versa). Here's who the Grantland staff came up with.
First they traded JaVale McGee. And we were sad. Then they shut down Andray Blatche. And we were beside ourselves.
Tuesday, just a few days after sending JaVale McGee to Denver, the Washington Wizards announced they were shutting down Andray Blatche for the foreseeable future (likely the rest of the season). This news closes the curtain on the NBA's most devastating duo, Blatche and McGee. (Sure, their partnership was separated by distance, but they were still linked, both psychically and in their rules-and-physics-averse style of play.)
Here's more evidence that Wizards forward Andray Blatche is just like Tom Brady. (I'VE BEEN SAYING THAT.) This comes to us via Dan Steinberg at the Washington Post. A Twitter user who goes by the handle @LiveyourrrLife spotted Blatche at a District of Columbia DMV this past week. (Steinberg notes that the facility doesn't really look like a District DMV, but let's just go with it for now.) The DMV can be a pretty uncomfortable place, so much respect to Dray for wearing the most comfortable shoes possible.
This seems like as good a time as any to post this again. Keep on your toes, people. Or just swaddle them in wool. Whatever.
January is winding down, which means it's time for one of The Triangle's favorite features — Quotes of the Month. As you might recall, the boss requested we revive this one, which we were happy to do, because this month Flip Saunders said: “Booing is not going to help somebody play better," so it's great to have an opportunity to point that out.
Yes, OK, perhaps we're a little heavy on Wizards quotes this month. In our defense, they were terrible.
Thanks to our Grantland interns who put this post (and the last one!) together. We'll remind you about this next month, so Friends of Grantland can submit their own entries ... and make our lives easier.
If you've been wondering why it's been almost two days since I published anything on the Washington Wizards and specifically their two fearless leaders, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee, there's a very simple explanation. I've been working on a TNT pilot called Blatche & McGee. It's about two crusading D.C. cops by day, shot blockers by night. I'm hoping to draw Dennis Franz out of retirement to play their frazzled boss.
Another reason for the lack of updates is that the Wizards managed to not lose Wednesday night, getting a nice 17-point home win over the Bobcats. However, we'd be remiss if we didn't check in on the latest with our two favorite D.C. dudes.
Andray Blatche got blocked five (FIVE) times by Tyrus Thomas on Wednesday. This caused Bobcats coach Paul Silas to compare Thomas to Herman Cain (I can't even ... ) and the home Wiz crowd to boo Blatche, no doubt making him feel like the shortest 6-foot-11 dude ever. Still, shout-out to his double-double, which helped the Wizards get the W.
Any week JaVale McGee merely takes a weird passive-aggressive dig at his general manager (on the decision to fire Flip Saunders and replace him with interim boss Randy Wittman: "That's Ernie's opinion, and I'm going to let it be Ernie's opinion") is a quiet week for the big man.
McGee was no doubt thrilled, then, to see this little anecdote pop up in the Washington Examiner this week: The last time the Wizards had an interim coach (like Wittman is now), it was Ed Tapscott, who held down the bench in 2008-09. During one game that season, Tapscott yanked McGee from the court, prompting the center's mom, who was in attendance, to shout, "Don't worry baby. He'll be gone next year."
Starting January 16, the Almost-Bullets played five games in eight nights, beating one of the top three teams in the league, hanging in until the end against a top-five team, and really, genuinely competing in two of the other three. Upon further review, this might not be the very worst team in the history of the NBA — just one that belongs somewhere in the top 20.
You hate to see anyone lose his or her job. But if you arrived back on Earth on Monday from, say, a six-week stay on the moon, you would be shocked to learn that the Wizards even had a coach at all. That's how disorganized, disinterested, and disengaged the young, 2-15 club looked.
The good news is that there's an obvious candidate for the Wizards head coaching position: Phil Jackson. Come on, how awesome would the Wizards look running the triangle offense with John Wall, Andray Blatche, and JaVale McGee? Pretty unstoppable.
The bad news is I made that up. Phil Jackson would sooner coach a Montana municipal workers intramural team. Someone else (possibly assistant coach Randy Wittman, maybe Sam Cassell) will have to help JaVale fulfill his destiny to be the "future of the NBA."