Keith Smart is in the stretch run of another disappointing Sacramento season, his first full year in charge after taking over for Paul Westphal seven games into last season. (Hey, remember Paul Westphal? Or did you kind of forget he ever coached the Kings? You did, right?) Smart is a defense-first guy presiding over the league’s worst defensive team and perhaps its most volatile player — DeMarcus Cousins, a promising big man who can’t control his temper or commit himself to playing hard on defense for an entire game. Smart’s a great guy with whom to talk hoops, and he sat down for a one-on-one with Grantland in Dallas before the All-Star break.
Not much has changed for the Spurs in the past year. After steamrolling through last year’s compressed scheduled on the backs of their aging stars, only to fall to Oklahoma City one round short of the Finals, the Spurs' brass opted not to make any significant changes to their roster. In some ways, that decision seems to be paying off.
Much like last season, San Antonio is cruising through the regular season, with a 29-11 record and the league’s third best scoring margin (+8.1). Just like it’s been for more than a decade, the Spurs rarely beat themselves. They’re 14-1 against sub-.500 teams, playing the same mistake-free game that led them to four championships between 1999-2007. The difference is that, back then, not beating themselves was enough. Now, the Chris Pauls and Kevin Durants of the world have changed things. With this roster, in this NBA, the Spurs just aren’t good enough.
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is here to help you keep track of it all. You'll find takes on moments you might've missed from the previous night, along with ones you will remember forever.
So, LeBron reached a milestone yesterday in amassing 20,000 points (along with tallying 5k assists) — the youngest player to ever do so since, well, since forever. So while the importance of that accomplishment and his performance in general is all fine and dandy to talk about, what I want to focus on is something more subtle. Look at what he said at the halftime interview:
"While I'm accomplishing it, we're also winning at halftime, so that's a good thing."
Which got me thinking … How many NBA players have reached significant statistical markers that were overshadowed by a poor performance from their team or from themselves? Here are a few quick ones (read: Los Angeles-heavy ones) that I thought of/that Google search yielded:
In case you were out pretending like you've seen and have an opinion about Oscar nominee Amour, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
The Cleveland Browns have filled their vacant head coaching position, hiring Rob Chudzinski away from the Carolina Panthers. It has also been reported that Chudzinski is targeting former San Diego head coach Norv Turner to be his new offensive coordinator. "I can't imagine a more Cleveland set of hirings than Chud and Norv," said longtime Browns fan Milt Johnson. When asked to try harder and really push his imagination, Johnson let out an exasperated sigh, saying, "Fine, I guess that they could have hired like Chan Gailey and an old, overweight Golden Retriever named Honey, but I don't really know how having a dog as an offensive coordinator would work."
The Sacramento Kings may begin play as the Sonics 2.0 in Seattle as early as next season, though Sacramento — its mayor, Kevin Johnson, and the fans who supported the Kings when they were a team worth supporting — has not given up its years-long fight to keep the only pro team in town. But if the NBA wants the duplicitous, bumbling Maloofs to sell the team to a big-money group from Seattle, that is probably going to happen. The owners of the Kings would have to file relocation papers by March 1 if they want to begin play in Seattle next season. The trade deadline is February 21, setting up an awkward period in which teams wishing to deal with Sacramento may have to go through multiple and haphazard layers of approval to get a deal moving.
New ownership, whether it's formally in place or in de facto control of the team, will want a say in any big decision — whether to trade DeMarcus Cousins, add long-term contracts, or cut as much salary as possible.
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is here to help you keep track of it all. You'll find takes on moments you might've missed from the previous night, along with ones you'll remember forever.
How does one describe watching the Warriors shoot out the lights on the Clippers last night? What appropriately captures the basketball joy it elicited? What words should I use? Ah, screw it. Take it away, Steph:
My first Salary Cap Fantasy Basketball draft occurred entirely online between 16 people who didn’t really know one another, and lasted five and a half days. This sounds like hell because it is hell. For the better part of a week, I sat on my couch and memorized the salary of pretty much every player in the NBA. I now know that Trevor Booker makes $1,385,280, I know that Alec Burks makes $2,111,160, which is about $300,000 more than Kawhi Leonard. I have read every article speculating about the potential value of James Harden, Brandon Jennings, and Stephen Curry’s contract extensions. I exchanged 400 e-mails over the course of the draft. I can’t remember what happened last week on 30 Rock because I watched it while trying to decide between Omer Asik’s and Greivis Vasquez's annual salaries.
This is the first installment of BOOGIEWATCH, the Triangle’s running series on the NBA’s most compelling, hilarious, and huggable power forward. We will tally all things Boogie, a list that includes dirty looks, headbands thrown in disgust, defensive indifference, first-quarter fouls, moments of brilliance (Motivated Boogie edition), and moments of brilliance (Unintentional Boogie edition).
It is also the first installment of WOOBLY Watch (Wild or Off-Balance Late-Game Yowzers!), our attempt to celebrate every wild or off-balance late-game yowzer that Kobe Bryant throws up in 2012-13, our year of the great teammates.