TrueHoop: Danilo Gallinari
Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesDanilo Gallinari couldn't convince the officials at the end of Game 4.
HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders -- details below.
Forget Flop of the Night. For the Denver Nuggets, this is the Flop of the Year.
Assuming it was a flop at all -- because this one is tricky.
In the final minutes of a 3-point game, Laker big man Pau Gasol set a pick that on some plays would have been called a foul. He leaned a shoulder into the approaching Danilo Gallinari. The contact looked painful -- that Gallinari had a big reaction is no surprise.
However, if you've learned anything from Flop of the Night, it's that in the minds of a lot of players, there's a playbook for how to deal with this kind of contact in the NBA these days: You exaggerate to get the referee's attention. It often works.
(Gallinari is in the Floppers' Club, to be sure. Video shows him to be among those who'll throw back his head in dramatic fashion while driving, for instance. And as it happens, on the Lakers' very next possession, Gallinari took the court again, this time flying 15-feet backward after mild contact from Bryant's forearm -- while Steve Blake hit a corner 3.)
This was not one of the times it worked. Not only did referee David Jones not call anything, but Gallinari also missed one of his team's most important defensive possessions of the season. Playing 5-on-4, the Nuggets scrambled for a few seconds until Ramon Sessions drained an open corner 3, putting the Lakers up three.
All the while, Gallinari writhed on the floor. Could he have gotten up and played on? Hard to say. But what seems clear is that some of what was going on was sales.
Watch the replay, and it’s clear that Gallinari got rocked.
As he bounces off Gasol’s shoulder, he covers his face, causing Marv Albert to exclaim “Gallinari took a shot to the nose!”
But once he’s on the ground, his hands move to his throat.
In super slow-motion -- Gallinari's legs kick out dramatically as he goes to the ground, an embellishment that Steve Kerr, calling the game live, suggested may have cued the official to dismiss the contact.
"I think sometimes when you exaggerate the officials will kind of give you that motion like ‘I'm not buying it, you gotta get up,'" said Kerr.
"So even if he was bumped around the throat I think his demonstrative action may have cost him the call."
When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Corey Brewer shows what the Nuggets can do when they push the ball.
The Lakers patiently worked the ball to Andrew Bynum, who had established position deep in the post. He took a dribble, rotated his massive shoulders to the baseline and lofted a feathery right-handed jump hook that just rimmed out.
A split second later, Ty Lawson was laying the ball in over a frantic, backpedaling defender.
The six-second exchange during the first quarter of Game 2 encapsulates the dramatic clash in styles these two teams present. The Lakers are going to pound away on the undersized Nuggets inside, and Denver’s only hope is to speed up the game by racing the ball up the court at every opportunity.
Its best opportunity to do that will come against the Lakers’ second unit, which has trouble controlling the pace when either Bynum or Gasol goes to the bench.
Enter Andre Miller, Al Harrington and Corey Brewer.
These three substitutes have been on the court for most of Denver’s best moments and are setting a great example for how they and their teammates can make this series more competitive.
Miller is about as slow as NBA point guards come, but he understands something very important: no one is faster than the ball. Miller's vision is world class, and he has an uncanny ability to delicately float the ball up court, over the defense and into the hands of his playmakers.
Without the relatively plodding Laker big men clogging up the paint, the Nuggets’ streaking wings have found success attacking the rim.
None more so than Brewer, who seems to have a perfect grasp on the Nuggets’ gameplan. On defense, Brewer has been a disruptive force, all flailing limbs and scrambling, quick feet. Even when he gets caught out of position, it seems to be in a way that creates the type of unsettled situations that benefit Denver. And as soon as a shot goes up, Brewer takes off up court, sprinting down the sidelines before the ball even reaches the rim.
Brewer’s aggressive work in the open court earned him five transition layup attempts in Game 2, a few on the type of over-the-shoulder passes that made him look like a wide receiver running a fly pattern past a flat-footed safety. Miller was the quarterback.
The Lakers have won both games, but the Nuggets have outscored Lakers with Brewer and Miller together on the floor. And when the Nuggets add a big man with 3-point shooting ability like Harrington, they’ve done even better. Harrington can jog into an open 3 as a trailer on the fast break, or offer crucial spacing in the Nuggets’ dribble-drive attack.
The Miller-Brewer-Harrington combination has outscored the Lakers by 16 points and is the only three-man Nuggets combination that has a positive plus/minus in extended court time.
So though Los Angeles has dominated the series thus far, the Nuggets have shown they know how to counteract the Lakers' size.
And luckily, Miller, Brewer and Harrington aren’t the only Denver players that have the requisite skill sets. In fact, they share many qualities with the Nuggets who start the game.
After a shaky start to Game 1, Lawson has shown more confidence advancing the ball quickly with the pass or dribble. Arron Afflalo has plenty of athleticism to beat the Lakers up court and finish plays when he gets there. Danilo Gallinari is a career 37 percent 3-point shooter who can slide to the power forward position.
The pieces are in place. As the Nuggets head to the friendly confines of Denver’s Pepsi Center, they must hope their young starters can take a few cues from their effective, veteran substitutes.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.
But a little more than a month into the season, the Knicks sit at 7-11 and are 10th in the Eastern Conference, already five games behind the surprising Philadelphia 76ers in their division.
The Knicks are 21-25 since trading for Anthony. At the time of the trade last season, they were 28-26.
Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets, the team that gave up Anthony, have gone 30-12 since the trade, the third-best record in the NBA behind the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder in that time.
The question now is where have the Knicks gone wrong?
Carmelo Trade a Mistake?
The Knicks are much the same team in terms of points allowed, points scored and field goal percentage before and after the Anthony trade over the past two seasons.
So it begs the question of whether trading for Anthony was a mistake, and if the Knicks would be better off with Danilo Gallinari.
This season, Gallinari ranks 10th in the NBA in Win Shares per 48 Minutes and his Player Efficiency Rating has risen from 15.7 to 21.2 this season.
Meanwhile, Anthony’s PER is a 20.8 this season, and his Effective Field Goal Percentage is 10.3 percent lower than Gallinari’s.
Overreliance on Isolation
This season, 15.8 percent of the Knicks offensive plays have come in isolation, the highest percentage in the NBA.
But the results haven’t been there, as, in isolation, the Knicks average 0.67 points per play, 25th best in the NBA, and shoot 30.3 percent, 29th in the NBA.
Two of the main culprits have been the Knicks superstars, Anthony and Stoudemire. 101 players in the NBA have run at least 20 plays in isolation this season, and of those, Anthony ranks 79th in points per play (0.65) and Stoudemire 84th (0.62).
D’Antoni’s Offense Didn’t Travel
In his last four seasons with the Phoenix Suns, current Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni led the Suns to the best offensive efficiency in the NBA in each season.
However, that offense has yet to be discovered in New York.
In D’Antoni’s first two seasons with the Knicks, New York ranked 17th and 15th in offensive effiency. Last season, the Knicks were an impressive fifth, but this year, it’s slipped to a paltry 24th out of 30 teams.
Unfortunately, the same porous defense that plagued D’Antoni in Phoenix has traveled to New York.
The Suns were 16th or worse in defensive efficiency in D’Antoni’s last four years. In his first three years with the Knicks, they ranked outside the top 20 in all three years. This year, however, New York has just cracked the top 10, a tie for ninth.
The key to D’Antoni’s sparkling offense in Phoenix might not have been D’Antoni himself, but the players running the offense. In the first two seasons after D’Antoni left, the Suns still led the NBA in offensive efficiency, and their mark rose from 97.1 in D’Antoni’s last season to 111.2 the next season.
- A couple of years ago, the city of Brixton introduced its own currency as a complement to the pound sterling. It was a way to entice local residents to buy from district merchants and to keep money in the neighborhood. A new series of notes has been released. On the five pound note, you'll find Luol Deng, whose family emigrated to Brixton to escape civil war in Sudan when Deng was a boy.
- How much do residents in municipalities that underwrote the construction of NBA facilities have a right to demand accountability from NBA owners? Tom Ziller explores the question at SB Nation.
- An unofficial training camp in Lexington, Kentucky.
- Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak asks whether you'd rather have Monte Ellis or Arron Afflalo in your backcourt.
- Video of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade working out.
- If you peruse Ball in Europe's first installment of the Euroleague Power Rankings, you'll find a slew of NBA names. Andrei Kirilenko has joined CSKA Moscow, while Danilo Gallinari is wearing Emporio Armani.
- Speaking of Kirilenko, would he absolutely return to the NBA in the event of a labor resolution or is he better suited to playing out the autumn of his career in his native Russia?
- Walton High School grads Daron and Zack Blaylock -- the twin sons of former NBA guard Mookie Blaylock -- will be attending the University of Kentucky on football scholarships. "I never was any good at basketball," says Zack.
- Will Knicks fans ever forgive Charles Smith for the 1993 Eastern Conference finals?
- Hirsute San Francisco closer Brian Wilson explains why the 1986 Celtics are the best team ever. "The Chief. He's sweet. He's the Chief. That's his name. 'Hi, I'm the Chief.'"
- Jean-Ralphio Saperstein, Roy Hibbert and Detlef Schrempf all in one place. [Hat Tip: Rob Mahoney]
- Via PistonPowered, Pistons rookie Vernon Macklin might not get the chance to brandish his skills on an NBA floor this season, but his Twitter game is doing just fine, thank you.
- Twitter gives Rasual Butler the munchies.
In return, the Knicks sent forward Wilson Chandler, guard Raymond Felton, forward Danilo Gallinari and center Timofey Mozgov to Denver. The Nuggets will also get the Knicks' 2014 1st-round pick, the Warriors' 2012 and 2013 2nd-round picks and $3 million cash.
ESPN's Chris Broussard reports the Knicks will also receive Corey Brewer from the Timberwolves and send center Eddy Curry and forward Anthony Randolph to Minnesota. The 12-player trade (not including draft picks) is tied for the second-largest trade in NBA history.
Chandler, Felton, Gallinari and Mozgov combined for 53.4 points per game this season (50.3 percent of total team scoring). The Knicks acquired a combined 50.9 points per game in the five players that they received from the Nuggets, 47.3 percent of the points that Denver had scored this season.
The Knicks gave up an awful lot to bring Anthony to town, especially when it comes to outside shooting. New York ranked among the league's best in spot-up shooting metrics, including 25.3 points per game. Chandler, Felton, Gallinari and Mozgov contributed 13.1 of those points.
In the last five minutes of games in which the score is within five points, Raymond Felton (32.4), Danilo Gallinari (30.8), and Wilson Chandler (24.0) have the three lowest FG percentages among Knick players who have attempted a shot.
Conversely, Billups and Anthony have shot a combined 43.6 percent in those situations, slightly above the league average of 41.8 percent.
When you are a scorer, you need to find different ways to provide your team with points. For Carmelo Anthony, the leak out play has been a key cog in his arsenal. He is the only NBA player who has had more than 100 leak out plays during the past five seasons (133).
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love continued his monstrous season, his 24 rebounds breaking Dikembe Mutombo’s decade-old record for most rebounds in a game on Boston’s floor.
But as has been the case since the trade for Kevin Garnett, Boston prevailed, 96-93, thanks to big games from Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo (16 assists). The Celtics are now 7-0 against the Timberwolves since the Garnett deal, winning three times when he didn’t even play.
And since that trade, we remind you that the Celtics have the best record in the NBA. The Timberwolves have the worst.
The plus-16 for Wafer was the fourth-best plus-minus in his 136 NBA games, the best since a plus-20 for the Houston Rockets in a 107-97 win over the Toronto Raptors on March 3, 2009. Monday's game was Wafer’s sixth straight with a positive plus-minus rating.
Elsewhere in the NBA:
• LeBron James matched his season high with 38 points and Dwyane Wade added 31 in the Miami Heat’s 96-82 win over the Charlotte Bobcats. They're the first pair of Heat teammates to score 30-or-more points in the same game since Wade and Mario Chalmers last season. The Heat have won 11 straight road games, the first team to do that since the 2007-2008 Rockets won 12 in a row.
Charlotte missed 18 consecutive shots in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, the longest such streak in franchise history, as well as the longest in the NBA this season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
• The Golden State Warriors couldn’t hold a halftime lead against one of the NBA’s best for the second straight game, losing 110-90 to the Orlando Magic. In their last two games against the Heat and Magic, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by 23 points in the first half, but have been outscored by 50 points in the second half.
• Speaking of the Knicks, they learned that they’ll have deal with basketball life without Danilo Gallinari beginning when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday. Gallinari will be out for up to three weeks with a knee injury.
With Gallinari on the floor this season, the Knicks have shot 48 percent from the field. When he’s been on the bench, they’re shooting just 43.1 percent. The Spurs defense figures to be a tough challenge. San Antonio has held its last four opponents to 37 percent shooting from the field.
After sitting out all of last season with a broken left kneecap, the Clippers rookie entered Saturday's game averaging a double-double (16.5 PPG, 10.5 RPG). Griffin exploded for 44 points on 14-24 shooting Saturday to set a Clippers rookie record, breaking the mark previously held by teammate Eric Gordon who put up 41 points in a game two seasons ago.
Blake Griffin's 44-point, 15-rebound, seven-assist outburst is just the second such game in NBA history by a rookie. According to The Elias Sports Bureau, the only other rookie to have a game like that was Oscar Robertson; and that happened over 50 years ago on November 15, 1960 when he had 44 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists for the Cincinnati Royals.
Of course, it wasn't all fun and games for Blake Griffin and company as the Clippers actually lost the game 124-115. A big reason was the Knicks' frontcourt combination of Amar'e Stoudemire and Danilo Gallinari combined for 70 points. Stoudemire scored a season-high 39 to go with 11 rebounds and Gallinari tied a career-high with 31.
Stoudemire and Griffin each had five dunks in the game - including several of the highlight variety. The five dunks match the high in the NBA this season - done also by Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal.
- If you're not reading Tom Haberstroh's explorations into the nuances of the pro game, you're missing out. Among Haberstroh's conclusions at Hardwood Paroxysm today: "[T]he ability to finish at the rim (as measured by at rim FG percentage) is more strongly linked year-to-year than 3-point field goal percentage." Charts & Graphs enthusiasts will find plenty of eye candy.
- Kelly Dwyer on the unselfish Utah Jazz: "31 assists on the road -- on the road! -- for Utah on 43 field goals. I point out the assist-to-field goal bits not to tell you that it's an indicative of brilliant play or that having nearly an assist per made basket is an ideal thing. Sometimes it isn't. But it does tell you, if you couldn't watch the game, of just how the action went. Pass, score. Quick pass, quick score. The Jazz are trouble, NBA."
- The Pistons' Jason Maxiell tells the Detroit News that NBA players are starting to scrimp and save in preparation for a potential lockout.
- Knickerblogger's Mike Kurylo revisits three questions facing the Knicks last fall: "A. Could Gallo survive playing a big dosage of minutes? B. Could Toney Douglas become an NBA caliber rotation player? C. Could the Knicks find inexpensive talent for next year? From the results of the last 3 weeks, the answer seems to be yes on all accounts."
- Informative breakdown by John Schuhmann of offensive efficiency quarter-by-quarter. One key finding: "[C]heck out the Boston Celtics, the most inconsistent team in the league from quarter to quarter." At Celtics Hub, Zach Lowe delves into the implications of the Celtics' second-half struggles.
- Who in the NCAA Tournament is impressing Kevin Durant? "A lot of players have caught my eye, too, aside from the obvious guys like John Wall, Evan Turner and DeMarcus Cousins. There’s Jimmer Fredette from BYU, he had a great tournament. Omar Samhan from St. Mary’s, he’s having a great tournament. Jordan Crawford played really well for Xavier. There’s a lot of guys. Jacob Pullen is playing very well. It’s a great group of guys and it’s going to be fun to see what they can do for their teams this weekend."
- A big night for Ron Artest in San Antonio, as ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi explains.
- Any way you slice it, the Heat will have their hands full in a first-round postseason matchup. Surya Fernandez of Hot Hot Hoops breaks down Miami's possible opponents.
- A comprehensive catalog of Denver's ugly defensive lapses last night in Boston.
- A female friend of mine -- a Wizards' full season-ticket holder -- emails her thoughts on Sarah Tolcser's post on NBA dancers: "Like Tolcser, I, too, have filled out those surveys. While they ask if you'd like to see 'more,' 'somewhat more,' 'about the same,' 'less,' or 'a lot less' of the ads/promotions/hip-hop, etc., they NEVER ask about how you're liking seeing the 'girls' -- or they're asking in a way that doesn't allow you to respond 'NEVER AGAIN.' I often bring male friends or dates to the game; I always feel uncomfortable when the scantily clad dancers take the court. Every woman in that arena is demeaned when those young women come out wearing next to nothing. The dancers may 'choose' to put themselves in that position (and I'd argue against that point if I had more time), but the women in the audience certainly don't."
- For many in Dallas, Drew Gooden is a forgotten man. Rob Mahoney of Two Man Game takes a look at the vagabond's contributions during his short stint in Dallas: "Gooden was only a Maverick for about half a season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate what he did for the Mavs. As with Howard, I think there’s a natural inclination with Gooden to point out what he can’t do without proper respect for what he can."
- Dog bites man in Cleveland last night.
- Jon Brockman is paying far too much for his oatmeal.
The man was born to shoot 3-pointers. And he does it extremely well. This season, he has made 75 of the 166 he has shot, giving him the fourth-best make rate in the NBA, an impressive 45%.
Six people are invited to the 3-point contest. But not Morrow.
And, in fact, none of those ranked ahead of him in 3-point field goal percentage was invited either. Mike Miller has made 35 of 65 shots (54%), Daniel Gibson 66 of 138 (48%) and Jared Dudley 76 of 162 (47%).
Meanwhile, the players who did get the invites are ranked fifth (Paul Pierce), ninth (Stephen Curry), 10th (Channing Frye), 12th (Chauncey Billups), 23rd (Danilo Gallinari), and entirely off the leaderboard (defending champ Daequan Cook).
The big question: How are they selected?
The NBA says the process works like this: The players are sorted by 3-point field goal percentage, and then they look at which players have hit the most shots.
So, Anthony Morrow was right.
Looking at the invitees, they are volume shooters, for sure. It's nearly a who's who of 3-point field goal attempts in fact. Morrow has shot 166, which is just shy of Pierce (174), and well behind Gallinari (326), Frye (277), Billups (238) and Curry (205).
So for Anthony Morrow, who's shooting more 3s per game, and hitting more of them, than Pierce -- I guess the lesson is that he just has to shoot more?
"I guess so," he says.
He's going to make up for lost time in the rookie challenge, when he's threatening to shoot a ton from downtown. "I may even shoot one left-handed," he says, after hitting one like that in practice. (On Twitter, he virtually guaranteed one.)
Maybe that'll get him invited for next year.
To the frustration of Utah Jazz (who own the Knicks' first-round pick in the upcoming draft), the Knicks have played respectable basketball for the better part of a month. New York is 8-3 in December and has beaten some pretty good teams (Atlanta, Phoenix, Portland) in the process.
According to Wayne Winston, Jared Jeffries has been part of the recent surge:
I believe the key to the Knicks' improvement has been primarily the improved play of Jarred Jeffries and to a lesser degree the improvment of Duhon and Lee. In 109 December minutes where Jeffries was in and Chandler was out the Knicks have played 24 points better than average. When Chandler is in and Jeffries is out the Knicks have stumbled around and played 5 points worse than average. Jeffries adjusted +/- rating for December is 15 points better than average.
Amazingly in December Lee Jeffries and Duhon in together have played 16 points better than average. When Lee and Duhon are in without Jeffries the Knicks have played at an average level.
Winston notes that when the Knicks field a lineup of Chris Duhon, Larry Hughes, Danilo Gallinari, David Lee and Jeffries, they're "an amazing 51 points better than average per 48 minutes."
Jeffries averaged 19.2 minutes per game in October and November, but has logged 30.4 minutes per game in December. It's a small sample size -- and I'll take Chandler over Jeffries most days unless I'm confronting a very specific defensive riddle -- but the Knicks are undoubtedly a better defensive team than they were a month ago. Does Jeffries' uptick in playing time have something to do with that improvement?
- Whatever demerit the Miami Heat warrants for its abrasive public address announcer, this smart, stylized player introduction video by director Gil Green makes up for it tenfold. Green took inspiration from Blue Note album covers to create the opening montage. I'm particularly fond of the Carlos Arroyo-Freddie Hubbard visual (Hat tip: Free Darko).
- Daily Thunder has a line of t-shirts for your perusal and purchase. Both Kevin Durant and Jeff Green have snatched up DT designs as their Twitter background wallpaper.
- Seen what Carl Landry has been up to recently? He's an incredible finisher and is posting a gaudy Player Efficiency Rating of 23 while coming off the bench. Landry is earning praise from the Rockets' staff but, as Jason Friedman writes, not too much praise: "Yes, Landry has taken great strides since bursting on to the scene midway through his rookie year. But there remains significant room for improvement. So understand that when the Rockets’ coaches are showering Landry with tough love, it’s only because they see a player who still has so much more to offer."
- Sometimes when you're blogging about a legend like Dirk Nowitzki, his contributions go without mention because ... well ... dog bites man.
- Do not get between Channing Frye and Hulu. According to the Suns' stretchy center, if you're not watching "The Biggest Loser," it's time to hand in your passport.
- Os Davis of Ball in Europe would like to remind you that Danilo Gallinari can do other stuff besides shoot: "What has remained from that wonderful boy able to play the inside-out game, run the floor, and score from either from the low or the high-post?"
- Zach Lowe of Celtics Hub examines the data to see how good a jump shooter Glen Davis has become ... and then discusses how good a jump shooter Davis needs to be to justify more minutes.
- Dwight Jaynes thinks Brandon Roy is having trouble delineating between what constitutes"sacrifice" and what falls under the banner of leadership.
- 82 players have made at least one All-Star appearance since 2000. How many can you name? (Hat Tip: Piston Powered)
- Sebastian Pruiti of Nets Are Scorching has a sharp post contrasting Courtney Lee, the Net vs. Courtney Lee, the Magician.
- I love Stephen Jackson as the Bobcats' shooting guard. Along with Raymond Felton and Boris Diaw, Jackson gives Charlotte three point-y players in its starting lineup. For a team that's had trouble moving the ball, that's an effective salve. Brett Hainline of Queen City Hoops notes: "Charlotte is playing like an entirely different team. They are still not a smooth-running, offensive machine, but over their last 5 games, they have put together an offensive efficiency of 106.5, a mark that would put them just above average in the league. With a defense like theirs, that would be plenty."
With better performance from two players who were seldom available or useful last season, the Knicks could improve notably.
For various reasons, Danilo Gallinari and Eddy Curry gave little last year.
But a footnote in today's New York Times says both are on the road to contributing next year.
Danilo Gallinari, who had back surgery in April, is said to be recovering well and could be back on the court soon. "All the reports that I'm getting back is that they feel the operation was a success," Donnie Walsh said. "It doesn't seem to be a big obstacle." Walsh also offered a positive appraisal of Eddy Curry, who is working to lose weight and regain his conditioning after an injury-marred season. Walsh visited Curry in late May. "He's working very hard, he's losing weight, he's starting to get his body to look like an athlete's body again," Walsh said. "I have to give him credit for working as hard as he can work to try to do it."
You never want to project too much from these kinds of reports. But consdier that if Curry and Gallinari are at their best for sustained periods, the impact of their play would mean more next season than anything a rookie is likely to bring.
Multiple reports say Curry's dedication to his craft has been reinvigorated, and he is working hard to lose weight and get more athletic. Scroll back through his Twitter feed. You'll find plenty of people asking him where he is, and why he isn't around to hang out, and he just about always responds that he's in Michigan working out. There is plenty of talk of speed and explosiveness, and even a mention of Donnie Walsh and a team doctor dropping in and being "impressed." (And, if an athlete is on web video getting pulled over by the cops, don't we know he's going to be horribly embarrassed? Not Eddy Curry. Not this time. In one of the strangest stories you'll ever see, Curry and J.R. Smith broadcast live Web video of themselves getting pulled over, and apparently not getting in trouble at all.)
By the way that Times article also drops names of players the Knicks are considering with the eighth pick. The unsettled nature of this draft comes through loud and clear. The list, essentially, is Ricky Rubio (if something weird happens and he falls), Hasheem Thabeet (ditto), Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evans, Jordan Hill, Gerald Henderson and Jrue Holiday.
That list is seven players long! And we know Blake Griffin will be off the board. That implies nearly zero ability to predict what will happen with picks two through seven (short of perhaps assuming James Harden will be taken). I kind of love it that clearly nobody knows much about what is going to happen on Thursday. Good setup for drama!
Chicago and New York were big players at the deadline. The Spurs and Suns were non-players. Who got played? Read the tea leaves at the TrueHoop Network.
Matt McHale of By the Horns: "Are the Bulls a better team today? Yes.
Look, Rome wasn't built in a day. In fact, that McDonald's down the street? It wasn't built in a day, either. This wasn't a dramatic 'Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to the Celtics' uber-makeover. (And how often do those even happen – let alone work out - anyway?) No, we didn't bring in a superstar. Or even a regular star, for that matter. What John Paxson did was address a few of the team's glaring needs while clearing future cap space for a strong run at a bona fide superduperstar in the [insert dramatic music here] Summer of 2010. That's win-win, right?
We needed more size up front, some interior defense and a center who can score. We got all that. Miller is hardly a defensive wiz, but he's at least got the bulk and veteran wiles to body up to opposing big men. He's not much of a post player, but he can shoot and pass as well as or better than most centers. And he seems genuinely psyched up about returning for a second stint with the Bulls...Miller's not a long-term answer. But he's a decent stop-gap. Especially if he's motivated, and it seems like he is."
Dan Feldman of Piston Powered: "Pistons president Joe Dumars did Chauncey Billups the favor of sending him home to Denver, and Iverson was the only Nugget who had a big enough expiring contract to make the deal work?
Well, Detroit has Iverson, and last night's game showed the upside of the move - at least until Dumars can parlay Iverson's expiring contract into somebody more valuable.
The game was the type of slow-paced, grind-it-out contest you see in the playoffs. And how many times have the Pistons lost a playoff game because they didn't have a player who could create his own shot?
From 1:30 left in the third quarter until the end of the game, Iverson scored 16 points. None of his baskets in that stretch were assisted.
Iverson, who finished with 31 points and seven assists, drove for layups, found pull-up jumpers and got to the free throw line. He didn't look 25. But he definitely didn't look all of 33, which he has for most of the season.
So even though Detroit lost to the Spurs, one the NBA's top teams, Iverson performance tonight is encouraging for the Pistons in playoff games.
That is, if they make the playoffs."
Mike Kurylo of Knickerblogger: "As for the Knicks' other deal, it's not necessarily who they got that makes them better. Larry Hughes is an aging slasher/defender who perhaps was never a great defender despite his reputation. Kevin Broom and I used to discuss Hughes' defense, and Broom thought that Hughes' gambles on the defensive end hurt the team. As for the slasher aspect, Hughes averaged 6.9 FT/36 in 2005 and that number has decreased in every full year since (5.4 in 2006, 4.3 in 2007, 3.4 in 2008). That means he's either not able or not willing to get to the hole more, which would explain his tumbling shooting numbers. This year has been a small rebound year for Hughes, as his TS% has increased nearly 60 points from last year (TS% 52.5%) But at this point it's possible due to the small sample size instead of a real improvement.
What's more important about the Bulls trade is that the Knicks unloaded three players for one. [T]he team has been playing shorthanded nearly the entire year. With two new roster spots freed, the Knicks can grab two players from the D-League to fit specific roles (shot blocker?, point guard?) that the team needs.
In both of these deals New York has given up only one player who was in their rotation: Tim Thomas. The Knicks will be able to replace his role on the team with two players. The first is Wilcox who will give New York a big body to defend the post. The second is Gallinari who will provide scoring from the perimeter. Giving the rookie more playing time is the icing on the cake for the Knicks."
THE FINAL WORD
48 Minutes of Hell: Did the Spurs blow an opportunity?
Roundball Mining Company: How about Denver?
Valley of the Suns: Did Phoenix do well by doing nothing?
(Photos by Jonathan Daniel, Joe Murphy, Mike Stobe/NBAE via Getty Images)