The last week of the season is a great time to be a fan of any of the five teams still fighting to make the Eastern Conference playoffs. Yeah, the Bucks/Celtics/Nets/Pacers/Heat have been kinda bad all season, and they stand little chance against the Hawks and Cavs of the world, but this week, they’ll be playing meaningful basketball, and they’ll have a realistic chance to win and go to the playoffs.
The last week of the season is also when things like this happen:
That’s an all-time (Ed: shot-clock era) record for fewest points in a quarter there. Congratulations, Knicks and Magic, I guess.
Basically, for the NBA teams that are headed to the playoffs, this phase of the season is mostly about keeping your players from getting hurt while also keeping them from getting rusty. It’s a tricky balancing act, but Gregg Popovich seems to get it right every year. Of course, Popovich has never had to worry about the NYPD.
Atlanta Hawks star Thabo Sefolosha appeared to suffer a severe blow from an NYPD officer’s nightstick during his arrest Wednesday night … based on this new video of the violent take down.
TMZ Sports just obtained this new angle of Sefolosha’s arrest, shot by a witness outside 1Oak Nightclub in NYC … moments after Pacers Chris Copeland was stabbed.
In this video you can clearly see Sefolosha being tugged in different directions by 6 officers. Additionally … you can see one of the officers take a big swing with his baton, and it sounds like he makes contact with something.
A witness says Thabo told police, “Calm down.”
As we’ve reported … Sefolosha broke his fibula during the scuffle with cops, and based on this video it’s possible it could’ve been caused by the officer’s baton.
And, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, the players’ union is not pleased:
The National Basketball Players Association expressed concern over the New York Police Department’s arrest and handling of Atlanta Hawks guard-forward Thabo Sefolosha, who sustained a season-ending broken right fibula and ligament damage in an early morning stabbing incident outside a New York club on Wednesday.
“The players union is concerned about the circumstances of Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic’s arrest and is doing its own investigation of the situation. The union was fully engaged in supporting all three players in court and in the precinct this week, and will continue to stay engaged as each situation evolves,” the NBPA said in a statement.
The NBA is also trying to learn more about the incident that led to Sefolosha’s injury.
“We are working with the Hawks organization and local law enforcement to obtain more information about the circumstances surrounding Thabo’s arrest,” NBA executive vice president of communications Mike Bass said.
I am no legal expert, so I don’t know if Sefolosha or the Hawks could have a case against the NYPD, but regardless, it’s incredibly unfortunate for Sefolosha, and a headache the Hawks don’t need as they prepare for the playoffs.
Now the rest of the latest news from around the NBA:
WHO’S THE NEXT DEMARRE CARROLL?
Zach Lowe, in a typically excellent column for Grantland, looks at some possibilities. Here’s what he says about Bismack Biyombo:
Biyombo can get a little out of control defending in space, and he’s never going to have a post game or any sort of range. Opponents are free to play small against the Hornets with Biyombo on the floor, since a wing player can guard him without worrying about Biyombo posting up. That’s a real liability, and one that could become more glaring as smart coaches go small at every chance.
But Biyombo is a force at the basket, and he could develop into a threatening pick-and-roll dunk machine. Nabbing Biyombo at $3 million or $4 million per season might turn into a bargain, especially after the cap leaps in 2016-17. That kind of salary is already a team-friendly price for a backup big who can start in a pinch, provided the right kind of personnel is around him.
Even the most plugged-in execs are cautious in projecting contracts for this summer, the last one before the biggest cap jump in league history. Teams and agents will negotiate in a weird netherworld between the projected cap for next season, around $68 million, and the potential $90 million cap coming in 2016-17. The league’s average salary, and perhaps the midlevel exception, could jump to $7.5 million or so in just two years. Teams want good contracts now, but agents don’t want to sign contracts that will look silly in 2017.
Could you get Biyombo at $4 million? Most people think so, but no one is sure. The Hornets have to tender Biyombo a one-year, $5.2 million qualifying offer to retain matching rights, and executives are nearly unanimous that Biyombo won’t get that kind of money on the open market.
RICKY RUBIO TO UNDERGO ANKLE SURGERY
Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio will have arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle early next week, a league source told Yahoo Sports.
Rubio missed 43 games after badly spraining his left ankle on Nov. 7 against the Orlando Magic. The source said the surgery is considered to be a “minor cleanup” after the Spaniard had his “good and bad days” after returning to play. Rubio is expected to be ready for the T’wolves training camp next season, but the source said it is “highly unlikely” he will play for Spain this summer during the European championships.
CLIPPERS SIGN FORMER CBA MVP
That would be former UT-Martin star Lester Hudson.
The Los Angeles Clippers announced today they have signed guard Lester Hudson to a multi-year agreement. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. This season, Hudson has appeared in three games with averages of 2.3 points and 1.7 steals for the Clippers after being signed to a 10-day contract on March 29.
Hudson came to the Clippers from the Chinese Basketball Association where he is a two-time MVP (2014, 2015) and three-time All-Star (2012, 2014, 2015). Most recently, Hudson played for Liaoning where he averaged 31.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.9 assists in 50 games.
Originally drafted by the Boston Celtics with the 58th overall pick in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft, Hudson, 30, has played three seasons in the NBA. In 55 career NBA games, Hudson owns averages of 4.7 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 10.4 minutes with Boston, Memphis, Washington, Cleveland and Los Angeles.
A Memphis native, the 6-foot-3 inch guard spent his final two years of college at the University of Tennessee-Martin. He is the only NCAA player to ever record a quadruple-double (25 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals vs. Central Baptist College) in a college game. He was a two-time OVC Player of the Year (2008, 2009) at UT-Martin.