What's that? You were wondering exactly how many days until the start of the NBA season? Well, you're in luck! The Triangle is counting down the days for all of us.
There's a movement building in Houston, and it's only minorly related to Dwight Howard. It's not even about James Harden. This is about Chandler Parsons chasing stardom.
It has been a busy summer for him. In case you haven't been closely monitoring his Twitter feed, here's what you missed these past few months. Following the Rockets' loss in the playoffs, Parsons hit the red-carpet circuit hard. Stops have included the Billboard Music Awards, the ESPYS, the Paranoiapremiere, and The Familypremiere. At all times his hair has been carefully coifed, each time with slight deviations and experiments.
Ricky Ledo’s contract negotiations were going badly. Which sounds a little ridiculous. The Mavs selected Ledo with the 43rd pick in the draft, meaning he was a second-rounder with very little leverage and almost certainly no place else to go if he wished to play in the NBA anytime soon. His track record to that point was spotty. He played for several high schools and logged zero minutes in college after being ruled academically ineligible. He looked so disinterested in some pre-draft workouts that officials from two teams told me they'd concluded that Ledo was “undraftable.”
And yet Ledo and his agent, Seth Cohen, were locked in fairly contentious negotiations with Dallas officials during much of the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas. Those negotiations, and several others, shined a light on the NBA subculture of second-round picks — an asset type teams have found increasingly valuable under the restrictive new CBA, and one that brings a bit more negotiating wiggle room than a first-round pick with a set salary slot, according to several team executives and player agents. Want to know how smart your favorite team is with the cap, or how much it values a particular second-round pick? Pay attention to the nuances of that player’s contract and salary.
Dwight Howard has been a Houston Rocket for two weeks. I sent him some text messages.
Me: yo! Dwight: hello Me: are you watching the ESPYs? the guy from Mad Men just made a joke about you, ha! that's dope. Dwight: i'm not. what'd he say? Me: that you finally helped the lakers win when you left to houston Dwight: that's not very nice Me: well Dwight: I hope he wins an ESPY for being a big fat jerk. tell him i said that. Me: tell him? Dwight: yeah. if you scream loud enough, he'll hear you. Me: what? you want i shou-- oh. ha. i get it. nah, man. i'm not there. like, i'm not at the actual show. i'm watching on tv. Dwight: I know. Me: … that's not how TVs work
Every player possesses individual strengths and weaknesses, and every player casts up a unique set of field goal attempts. Some players get lots of shots in areas where they excel, and others experience the opposite — they take lots of shots in places where they are below-average NBA shooters. Here’s a look at the players that had the least efficient shooting performances by zone in 2012-13.
Rarely have so many non-involved NBA people watched a playoff game out of sheer curiosity as was the case Saturday night, when the NBA world tuned in to see how the Thunder would function without Russell Westbrook. Things went well in many basic senses. Oklahoma City won, Kevin Durant didn’t pass out from a Luol Deng–ian minutes requirement, and the Thunder’s offense, no. 2 in the league in points per possession during the regular season, checked in with a scoring mark that would've tied San Antonio for seventh-best overall, per NBA.com.
And yet the verdict from those curious onlookers was almost unanimous: The Thunder might be in even deeper trouble than we thought. Oklahoma City has never had an offensive system in the way the Spurs or Heat do — a structure in which each possession features a series of movements, countermovements, built-in options, and side-to-side actions the teams run through until the most desirable shot becomes available. The Thunder instead have a series of pet plays designed to produce certain end outcomes — a Serge Ibaka midrange jumper, an open Kevin Durant shot, a driving lane for Westbrook, or a favorable isolation for one of the perimeter stars. There aren’t really third, fourth, and fifth counters; if the first or second actions don’t produce a clean look, the players mostly stand still and watch Durant or Westbrook go to work.
On our first full day in Houston, Jacoby, Zach Lowe, and I had the pleasure of talking with a few of the NBA's brightest stars. Jacoby spoke with Kyrie Irving about video games, 3-point shooting, and Uncle Drew. I got a chance to talk with Chandler Parsons about the Rockets' rivalry with the Warriors. I also chatted with comic-book fan (and Nets center) (and All-Star) Brook Lopez, who told me about who hogs the stereo in the Brooklyn locker room and where The Dark Knight Rises stands in the Batman canon. Finally, Zach Lowe got an incredibly detailed account of who sits where on the Blazers' team plane from LaMarcus Aldridge and heard from Warriors guard Klay Thompson about what it was like to give up 140 points in one game. Check out the full podcast, as well as the video clips, below.
I was standing outside of Madison Square Garden, waiting for my friend, when a middle-aged Asian American man in a fancy suit walked by me and smiled. It wasn’t quite like the throes of Linsanity, when a new constituency of Knicks fans began showing up to the Garden, but last night’s game against the Houston Rockets definitely had a different, faintly festive vibe to it. Someone surged toward the man in the suit and asked him what entrance he should use for his seats, and he didn’t seem to understand when the man in the suit told him he didn’t work at the Garden. The man in the suit looked at me again, not smiling this time. Everyone projects whatever they want onto a man wearing a suit. My friend showed up a few minutes later, we shuffled into the Garden, and cheerfully bought some beer and two bowls of sesame chicken noodles.