In case you missed it, the Heat and Thunder both lost last night (as did the Lakers, but that was kind of expected). That’s the third time both teams have lost on the same night this season. The Heat lost to the Spurs in a rematch of last year’s Finals that was nowhere near as close as those Finals, and the Thunder went to the wire against the upstart Phoenix Suns.
I caught the end of that Thunder/Suns game, so I missed Gerald Green dropping 41 and Russell Westbrook 39, but I did get to see Goran Dragic and Kevin Durant basically bend the opposing defenses to their wills in crunch time, which was some spectacular stuff. Durant’s two floaters in the lane through double-teams were pretty, but Dragic’s crazy baseline reverse layup was better, for my money. He beat his man with a lightning-quick first step and then made Serge Ibaka look clueless with an acrobatic underhand flip high off the glass. It was the kind of play that superstars make. This Dragic kid is pretty good.
Now let’s get to the latest news from around the NBA:
UPDATE ON NOAH RECRUITING MELO TO JOIN BULLS
Mike Woodson doesn’t think it’s legal, writes the New York Daily News’ Mitch Lawrence:
“You know legally, nobody can recruit anyone,” Woodson said in a radio appearance on ESPN 98.7. “You can’t do that at this point. Melo is still wearing a Knicks uniform and I hope he stays with the Knicks for the rest of his career. So whatever was said between Noah and the Chicago Bulls, that’s on them.”
According to the ESPN report, during their time together in New Orleans, Noah essentially said to Anthony: Look, you can go to Los Angeles, but if you want to win a ring, if you want your legacy to be about winning, come to Chicago.
Those comments could be viewed as tampering since Anthony is under contract with the Knicks, and could result in a hefty fine for Chicago. Moreover, Garden chairman James Dolan will almost certainly press the NBA to investigate the matter, although it’s always difficult for the league to prove what transpires in private conversations.
Meanwhile, ESPNChicago.com’s Nick Friedell talked to Noah:
Noah says he doesn’t want to address Carmelo rumors. Asked if it was accurate he said, “it doesn’t matter.” Never said No.
— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) March 7, 2014
WHY IS MIKE WOODSON STILL THE KNICKS’ COACH?
The latest rumble in coaching circles holds that Madison Square Garden chairman Jim Dolan is keeping Woodson around purely because he knows that making major changes to the roster before next season — given New York’s lack of draft picks and cap space and limited trade assets — will be extremely difficult.
Which leaves Dolan, in terms of pitching Carmelo Anthony to stay this summer, with little else to say besides: Woody was the problem!
In other words: Keep the alleged problem around to the very last drop of this nightmare season … and then hustle him out the door by painting a coaching change as a cure-all.
Rest assured that Woody’s presence for Game No. 63 on Friday night against Utah no longer has much, if anything, to do with the oft-recited line about how the Knicks don’t feel comfortable entrusting Woodson’s duties to any of the interim options at their disposal. The Knicks’ season, even when factoring in all the injuries, has deteriorated to the point that the mere prospect of putting Herb Williams or Darrell Walker or Jim Todd in charge — or moving Allan Houston downstairs despite his total lack of coaching experience — has to hold some appeal just for its wake-up-call potential.
But making an in-season change, from Dolan’s perspective, creates the possibility that everyone sees even more clearly than they already do that Woody is most certainly not the Knicks’ biggest problem.
Which would theoretically give Melo even more reason to look around if he goes through with his long-planned intent to become a free agent July 1.
LEBRON DOESN’T LIKE SLEEVES
Well, that’s got to be a bit of a blow to the sleeved-jersey trend. Via Chris Mannix of SI.com:
The NBA’s most visible star isn’t pleased with the league’s most visible new fashion trend.
After a poor shooting night in a 111-87 loss to the Spurs on Thursday, Heat forward LeBron James took issue with the short-sleeved Adidas jerseys worn by both teams.
“I’m not making excuses, but I’m not a big fan of the jerseys,” James told reporters. “Not a big fan of them. I have to figure something out the next time I have to wear the short-sleeved jerseys.”
The back-to-back MVP shot 6-for-18 from the field and 0-for-3 from deep in his worst shooting outing in nearly a month.
“Every time I shoot it pulled,” James continued. “It feels like it’s just pulling every time I shoot, right underneath my arm. I already don’t have much room for error on my jumpshot anyway, so it’s definitely not a good thing.”
RUDY GAY SAYS TRADE WAS GOOD FOR BOTH HIM, RAPTORS
I don’t think that’s going to be difficult to argue: Toronto has improved by leaps and bounds since Masai Ujiri dealt Gay to Sacramento, and Gay has gone from being a pretty good but overpaid player to a genuinely very good one with the Kings.
Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun:
“Change is for the better, for both parties,” Gay said ahead of his return to Toronto.
Apparently, and the veteran has handled himself with class, even as he’s been branded a scapegoat and the lone reason why the Raptors looked headed for the high lottery to start this season.
To Gay’s credit, he recognizes that while he wasn’t the only problem, his career-low 38.8% shooting and career-worst 3.3 turnovers per game were hurting the Raptors significantly.
“I was inefficient when I was here. I’m not anymore. I was when I was here,” Gay said, declining to provide a reason other than “it could have been a lot of things,” as to why his game was so off.
Dan Malone is in his fourth year as a journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and spent last summer as a features intern at the Cape Cod Times. He blogs, edits and learns things on the fly for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.