Warriors

Knicks have an easy decision to make with Lin

818208.jpg

Knicks have an easy decision to make with Lin

Sometimes the basketball gods smile upon an organization andthey hand it an easy choice that turns into a simple decision a no-brainer ifyou will.And thats what the New York Knicks have in front of themright now with Jeremy Lin.RELATED: AP -- For Knicks, match Lin or regret if he goes
You gotta let him go.What the Knicks must decide by Tuesday night is whether ornot they will match a three-year, 25.1 million offer sheet given to Lin by theHouston Rockets. Those numbers, on the surface, are daunting enough. But uponinspection, they get even worse.Not only is 8-plus million per season awfully high for aplayer who has started only 25 NBA games in his career, but in the third yearof the deal Lins salary balloons to 15 million.That number alone puts Lin into the superstar money category.But in a double-whammy of sorts, that figure also would likely put the Knickswell into the luxury tax area and could cost them an extra 35 to 45million.RELATED: Jeremy Lin 2012 game logs
Thats not Lins fault, of course, but its hisburden.Teams that are over the luxury tax must pay a significantpenalty, and the amount depends on how far over the tax a team is. The moreyoure over, the more you have to pay, in other words.Lin was a one-of-a-kind story last season. After gettingwaived by the Warriors and Rockets, he was signed by the Knicks. And whatfollowed was one of the most unexpected and thrilling runs the league has everseen: A virtual unknown leading one of the leagues marquee franchises to theplayoffs.With the Knicks roster hit by injury, Lin stepped into bigminutes and delivered in such a big way that it garnered the attention of bothhard-core NBA fans and casual ones.Whether people believe it or not, Lin hadnt proven that inhis year-and-a-half playing for the Warriors, Rockets and early in his New Yorktenure. He has certainly proven that now.Is he a star? Most dont believe so. Can he be a good teamsstarting point guard over the course of seasons? Youll get lots of Nosthere. Is he a solid backup who can start for you in a pinch? There are manywho think thats where Lin might be at.It is a little tougher projecting Lins future and where hecan go from here because nobody thought he would get this far in the firstplace. So, hes already blown through the expectation-ceiling. Whos to say hecant do it again?But there are also very real issues with Lin like the factthat perhaps his greatest strength is his biggest weakness: Toughness. Over thecourse of my time covering the NBA, Ive rarely seen a player who is anytougher than Lin.He is a physical defender with more size than you think onthe perimeter. He can drive and take contact. Nobody in the league dives on thefloor or gets knocked to it more than Lin.One of the reasons, Lin has made it this far is because heis a relentless competitor, a nonstop worker, and a basketball junkie at heart.Its bad grammar, but Lin cant not play.He will continue to play this way because he still has a lotto prove, and its in his nature anyway.Bottom line is I just cant see him staying consistentlyhealthy over the course of his career. And, yes, I know Lin will play hurt. Ionce saw him practice for a stretch with some kind of shoulder contraptionwrapdraped from one side of his body to the next.Another thing is this -- its difficult to see Lin being thesame caliber point guard as Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Deron Williams,Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo or Tony Parker.Those, after all, could be considered legitimate 15-millplayers, which again is what Lin would be making for the Knicks in Year No. 3.Leaving aside, of course, that 35 to 45 million theyll likely have to pay inpenalty.And if you go further, where does Lin stack up against pointguards such as Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Mike Conley, Ricky Rubio, Ty Lawson andStephen Curry? Some Lin backers might tell you hes right there withthem.Others will tell you hes not in that group.Of course, what complicates the decision s is Linsnon-basketball appeal. Few players have captured the attention of fans andnon-fans alike like Lin. Hes a phenomena. Still, if were talking about Lin and the decision theKnicks have to make in basketball terms only its pretty obvious what theyvegot to do. And it sure seems like they know it.Theyve signed Jason Kidd and are also acquiring RaymondFelton. Most perceive that acquiring Felton means the Knicks will not matchHoustons exorbitant offer sheet.Letting Lin walk would be painful and disappointing in manyways for the organization and Knicks fans.But in basketball terms, it will be as sound a financialmove as the Knicks have made recently.

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

jordan-bell-ap.jpg
AP

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season. 

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

The Warriors are not ready to flip their seek-and-destroy switch. Not yet.

They’re closer to being ready than, say, their longtime rivals in Cleveland, but in going 2-2 on this four-game road trip the Warriors showed they are nowhere near full annihilation mode.

They went into Oklahoma City Wednesday night and, in gulping down a 108-91 loss on national TV, came away looking more vulnerable than they have in any game this season. The 17-point loss was their largest margin of defeat and this was awful close to being a wire-to-wire rout.

The Warriors defense, so splendid during the seven-game win streak they took out of town last week, was inconsistent throughout and downright atrocious by their standards as they concluded the trip.

Their offense, which had begun reducing the turnovers to acceptable levels, came apart like a pair of $3 sneakers.

Even their body language, aside from two well-deserved technical fouls, seemed to mostly vacillate between whispers and a whimpers.

“We didn’t have any focus or concentration,” coach Steve Kerr said. “The ‘millennials’ couldn’t lock in tonight. And their coach couldn’t do much either. Long night for us.”

These were not the Warriors who posted seven consecutive double-digit wins, and they’re certainly not the team that found its competitive blowtorches last April. They weren’t visible in this game, nor were they seen for most of this road trip.

This, ahem, regular-season road trip.

That’s the catch. Last April is when the playoffs got underway, and next April is when the 2018 playoffs begin. The time between now and then is for experimenting, fine-tuning and fighting through the monotonous joys of victory -- a factor on vivid display Wednesday night.

“We played with some decent energy,” Stephen Curry said. “We just didn’t play smart.”

“They completely outplayed us, outcoached us,” Kerr said. “It was just their night. It was absolutely their night. They brought the energy, they brought the juice, they brought the intelligence. And we didn’t bring any of that.”

The Warriors entered the game after studying video and stats that illustrated OKC’s ability to disrupt an offense. The Thunder leads the NBA in steals, deflections and -- this one punches the Warriors in the gut -- forcing turnovers.

The Warriors committed 22 giveaways, leading directly to 34 Thunder points.

“Thirty-four points off turnovers, you can’t win like that,” Draymond Green said.

“I’ve got to do a better job of getting them ready to play,” Kerr said. “We have a pretty loose, fun atmosphere around here. That’s great, but there are certain times where it’s like, ‘All right guys. Let’s throw it to our team. Let’s execute the play. Let’s remember the play.’ ”

Kevin Durant bemoaned the “silly turnovers” that were such a factor in the game, blaming it players rather than Kerr and his staff.

“For the most part he can’t control that type of stuff,” said Durant, whose four turnovers were second to Curry’s team-high six. “We’ve got to be better at keeping the ball in our hands, shooting more shots than our opponents and playing defense.”

Added Green: “We were pretty well-prepared. We just played bad.”

That happens to even the best of teams, a category in which the defending champions fit quite snugly. No team, not even the Chicago Bulls of the maniacally competitive Michael Jordan, is able to bring its best for 82 games a season.

The Warriors blew two 17-point leads, one in second quarter and another in the third, in losing at Boston.

They fell behind by 24 in the third quarter to the 76ers before coming back to win in Philadelphia before recovering the next night to submit their best performance of the trip in routing Brooklyn.

And in OKC, against a Thunder team that would seem to get their full attention, the Warriors were outhustled, outsmarted and played with considerably less fury.

“Right now, we’re just in a little bit of rut, where we’ve got to focus,” Kerr said. “And I know we will. We’ve done this many times in the past and bounced back. And we’ll bounce back. We need to lock in and tighten up everything.”

They will, eventually. It could happen next week, or next month, or after the calendar turns to 2018. They’ll turn it on and become the team of terror, punishing all before them. It might be April, though.

This road game indicated some truth, though, which is there will be games over the next four months in which they will lose the battle with themselves.