When the doors opened at the TD Garden and the crowds began to file in, the hype surrounding this game with the locals was one of a quiet confidence. The Thunder has had a miserable start to the season and all were looking forward to adding more pain to their suffering.
[Update 3.10PM 07/07/2014] Gasol, while listening to offers from other teams, has indicated that he will re-sign with the Lakers if they can land Carmelo Anthony and/or LeBron James in free agency. Pau is still hot property on the FA market, but the Lakers appear to be in the box seat to should they be able to improve the roster with a big name player.
Pau Gasol has long been the subject of trade rumors since joining the Lakers late in 2007 and has dealt with his fair share of critics, but now, the 7 foot Laker big man is a free agent and the interest around the NBA has been huge.
Averaging over 17 points a game throughout his career, Gasol helped the Lakers to two successive titles in 2009 and 2010, but has since been a part of a team struggling to regain everything which made them one of the most formidable franchises in all of sports.
What feels like a cast of thousands have walked through the doors of the Lakers’ training facility in El Segundo since Pau arrived, with the Spaniard withstanding some harsh judgement on the part of the fans and much of the LA media throughout his time there. Along with the aging Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol has been the true icon of loyalty and dedication to a franchise who badly needed it.
But here we are, summer 2014, and the Lakers and Pau are both trying to get back on the path to resurrection. Gasol, who has been so loyal, looking to get back to playing winning hoops and the Lakers, such a proud organization, desperately trying to find someone to guide them into a new era, of post-Kobe Bryant Los Angeles basketball.
Pau has, unsurprisingly, been hot property so far in free agency, drawing interest from a number of teams including the Thunder, Knicks, Heat, Bulls and Lakers. The 7-footer provides a big offensive presence for these teams, with the Thunder looking the perfect fit so far, followed by the Knicks and the Bulls.
While this is all well and good, Gasol will still command a mighty pay check, somewhere in the $8-10 million a year area, making teams think twice before jumping on him. Most teams that will consider Gasol will already have a contending front line, indicating they may only be willing to use the mini-mid level on Gasol. With that said, it is unclear whether Pau will be interesting in accepting a considerable pay cut to play contending basketball.
Forever the scapegoat of Los Angeles’ cut throat media, and often the fans too, Gasol will surely take the time to consider his options and what situation benefits him most going forward. Carmelo Anthony has expressed a desire to play alongside him (in New York or LA, it’s not yet clear), and the Heat have also come a’knockin’ this morning, while the Thunder stay hot on his heels.
Given his undying loyalty to Kobe and the Lakers, perhaps the NBA’s perennial nice guy is finding it just a little bit harder to say goodbye than once thought.
One thing is for sure however…
There will be a purple and gold jersey with the number 16 hanging in those rafters at Staples Center one day.
Boof is here with another cracking write up! Fresh off the back of our joint venture with the Hoops Podcast, the boys will be contributing articles for the site as well so keep an eye out for more great content
NBA teams are like recipes from a cookbook, the good ones are simple and subtle yet have plenty of flavor whereas the bad ones can be confusing and taste like something that expired weeks earlier.
We are down to the point in the season were the remaining teams need every little piece of the recipe to come together and perfect that ideal meal.
In the Western Conference right now it looks like a complete mismatch, it’s a cook off going on between Heston Blumenthal and a burger flipper at your local McDonalds.
The Spurs have long been the Masterchefs of perfecting a rotation and having all of the key ingredients play their part without overpowering the entirety of the meal.
This showcase has somehow, beyond the realms of possibility, gone to another level this postseason. At times you feel sorry for the team on the other side of the court but as a fan you are left sitting in your chair watching on with your jaw to the floor.
Yes the Thunder have been weakened by injuries, losing Ibaka is like making a shepherds pie without the base. They have lost their foundation and without it they have simply fallen apart and look like a complete mess.
Now they face their biggest challenge yet, yes bigger than the NBA Finals from two years ago, they find themselves in a 0-2 hole and have the advantage of being at home, they will not won’t to disappoint their home audience.
In order to showcase their abilities and get this meal back on course to being a winner, they need the rest of their ingredients to evolve into pieces they are not used to being. The big men have to stand up and take the burden on and prove that they are not simple burger flippers but master class workers.
In the Eastern Conference you find a complete different story, it’s a battle of two 3 Michelin Star teams. Something that even right before the Playoffs began seemed like mission impossible as the big teams were all falling into the post season.
As we prepare ourselves for an epic game three battle, we dissect the two courses we have already devoured and dined on. The beauty of having such a spotlight on these games is that when somebody isn’t delivering as they normally would you can notice the ripple effect on the rest of the team.
Picture one of your favorite meals and the herbs and spices that may go into it, now remove one of them and the difference is monumental.
Both the Pacers and the Heat are missing ingredients from the first two games and whichever team can find the salt shaker or locate a different herb from their cupboard to replace the original will go a major way in deciding who wins the battle.
In Game 1 the Heat severely missed one of their key ingredients in Chris Bosh, the big man went an awful 4-12 from the field and a shattering 0-5 from deep. He ended the game with a +/- of -16 and the Heat showed that without his input and impact they are not what we expect. Let’s not get carried away, his second game wasn’t a thing of beauty but he showed a lot more effort and ended with a (-4) however the Heat won.
Game 2 for the Pacers wasn’t a complete disaster however there is evidence that the kitchen wasn’t far away from burning down. Paul George was the only starter who had major struggles from the starting group but the root of the problems lay beyond the main foundations, the bench was a complete shambles.
They (Mahinmi, Watson, Scola & Butler) combined for a total of 9 points, 5 rebounds and 1 assist.
Most chefs will tell you that the best pieces of any meal consist of the hidden parts that nobody gives attention to; in basketball this is your bench. The players who hardly ever garner attention but make as much of an impact as the key players, if the Pacers bench can’t contribute to the recipe the Pacers team along with the fans will be left with a sour taste as they rue yet another lost season.
Which team will work their magic with the cookbook they possess and produce the better tasting dish?
Consider this an experiment. Take one Playstation 3. Insert one NBA 2k14 game disc. Enter game modes. Choose season. Simulate. Sit back and watch the 2013/14 season unfold before your very eyes. Check out what my season entailed below. Results may vary… *May or may not be actual winners (more…)
Tayshaun Prince Posterizer!
Thunder star forward Kevin Durant was ejected late in the 4th quarter of Oklahoma City’s blowout loss to the Brooklyn Nets late on Thursday after arguing an illegal screen call on team mate Kendrick Perkins. OKC were down 104-90 at home late in the game when a frustrated Perkins committed the charging screen on Nets’ Gerald Wallace. Durant, clearly unhappy with his team’s performance and the ensuing call, gave the official a verbal spray and bought himself a double technical. Durant was clearly unhappy with the way the Thunder had played throughout the game, especially in the case of guard Russell Westbrook who jacked up 19 shots and had 6 turnovers. Durant has a great reputation in the league, and this ejection is the first of his NBA career.
Watch the video below
Howdy folks! We’re back today with the latest team season preview taking a look at Western Conference favorites the Oklahoma City Thunder, Perennial dark horses the Philadelphia 76ers (or will they be?) and southern giant killers the San Antonio Spurs. Enjoy!
Oklahoma City Thunder
How Will They Do?
Oklahoma City are the NBA’s darlings, rising out of the ashes of the Seattle Sonics. Last year they fulfilled what most predicted – making it to the NBA Finals before being steamrolled by the Heat juggernaut. This season brings another series of high expectations and even more challenges. As the Lakers rebuilt and retooled for another assault on the title the Thunder took stock and made very few changes. Last season was an important moment for this franchise as it gave them the irrational confidence that they can now reach the highest heights. The biggest story line coming out of this camp this season will be can they re-sign James Harden? Currently the team is cash strapped. They hold the contracts of Durant, Westbrook, Perkins and Ibaka in their hands. Harden is the icing on this cake, coming off the bench with confidence, fearless determination and one of the best ball handlers in the league. Harden’s presence cements this team atop the Western Conference, without him there is an air of uncertainty. We really like how the Thunder have built upon their roster and given themselves depth at most positions. Collison & Jones backing up Ibaka & Durant as newest Thunder recruit Thabeet brings size off the bench. Harden, Maynor and Cook act as dynamite off the bench lifting the tempo of the team whenever they are on-court. Sure it’s not the deepest team in the league but it’s one of the most reliable, you know what you will get from your bench. Very similar to Moneyball it’s about working your way to a win any way you can. Coach Brooks knows this, has assembled a squad capable of challenging every team in the league. This team is one of the most explosive and dynamic in the league, a League Pass must every night. There is no doubting they have the talent, if they can just sprinkle in a dash of experience (gained from the 2011/12 Finals & Olympics) this team could destroy the Western Conference. Look for them to pick up 55-65 wins this year.
Welcome to another edition of NBA Nations Australia’s Roundtable Discussion
Our Roundtable Knights Are:
Nick Caro: @NickoToGo
Nick How: @Nick_A_How
Leigh Ellis: @LeighEllis
This week we are joined by the 6th man for the Basketball Jones and The Score, Leigh Ellis. Leigh has been working closely with journalists in all areas of the NBA for a number of years and his podcast with JE Skeets and Tas Melas as part of the Basketball Jones are amongst the World’s most popular. Thanks again for coming along, Leigh.
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