Berry Tramel hopes Scott Brook is watching the Finals: “Series tied 2-2. Game 5 in San Antonio. The Spurs’ title hopes a little precarious. So Gregg Popovich got serious. He moved Manu Ginobili into the starting lineup for the first time in what seemed like forever. Ginobili played great. But so did the Thunder, which prevailed 109-103 and went on to win the 2012 Western Conference Finals. Lineup shuffling can work. But it’s not always a panacea. Has been in these NBA Finals, of course. Erik Spoelstra summoned Mike Miller to the starting lineup for Game 4. Miller’s marksmanship off the bench had sufficiently scared the Spurs to never let him free, the Heat spaced the floor and rolled to easy victory. Then Popovich countered by starting Ginobili for the first time since that Thunder series a year ago, and Ginobili looked like his old self as the Spurs sprinted to a 3-2 series lead and made Miller’s spot in the starting lineup not such a big deal. We wouldn’t know about rearranged lineups here in OKC. Scotty Brooks doesn’t change his lineup even under threat of bayonet.”
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: “Attorneys for Derek Fisher and his assistant filed a motion for a change of venue Monday in the lawsuit filed against them by Billy Hunter, the former executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. Among other things, the motion presented evidence of an alleged conflict of interest between Hunter and the presiding judge in the Oakland, Calif., court where the lawsuit was filed. According to the attorney for Fisher and assistant Jamie Wior, Hunter had no legal basis to sue in the Superior Court of Alameda County because neither defendant lives there and because the NBPA is headquartered in New York City. Hunter sued Fisher, Wior and the NBPA on May 16, claiming defamation and breach of contract stemming from his dismissal from the NBPA in February.”
Henry Abbott sometimes is just so, so, so good: “Meanwhile, that’s not to say there’s no such thing as strategy. Of course there is. Popovich and the Spurs really do have a brilliant scheme to find open shots, and open shots really do go in more often on average — just like saving money from every paycheck is the most reliable way to pay for your trip. Did you notice LeBron saying he hasn’t been sleeping? Sleep researchers would say that’s absolutely the kind of thing that could diminish his mental acuity. I’m sure Erik Spoelstra would be better off giving minutes to Mike Miller or Udonis Haslem or Chris Andersen (but I don’t know which one — that’s why he gets the big bucks). But the strategy part of it, the stuff that humans can consciously decide to do, in advance — that’s a smaller part of what wins than almost anyone involved would like to admit. All these titans of hoops are on some level powerless, floating on a sea of random chance. We’re arguing about the comparative quality of their rowboats and how fast they can row. That’s not how we might like to see it, but I like this: It’s just one more way NBA basketball — this messy, beautiful, surprising, delightful, heartbreaking game — is just like real life.”
Dan Feldman of PBT speaks truth about that, though: “Who might want the world to believe Len will go No. 1? Well, Len and his agent. Of course, what they want and the truth could coincide. The Cavaliers probably don’t have as much incentive to leak their leaning until they’re certain of their choice, unless they’re just trying to convince other teams to trade for the pick. If Len is the bait Cleveland is dangling to persuade teams to trade up, that’s fairly surprising. I’d figure other teams would be much more likely to move up if they believed Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore or Otto Porter wouldn’t be available lower.”
Mohammadou Jaiteh is withdrawing from the draft. He previously worked out for OKC and was a potential target at No. 29. Color me relieved he is, because I can’t imagine OKC drafting him and me having to type out his name all the time.
Chad Ford of ESPN.com on Shabazz Muhammad: “I think he was overrated coming out of high school. I believe scouts, fooled by his age (he was listed as one year younger) and mature game, struggled to see Muhammad’s flaws because he was able to overpower his opponents. Within the first few weeks at UCLA, it was clear that he was ranked too high. While he’s a good scorer, his inability to go right or shoot off the bounce caught up with him once he was playing against bigger, more athletic opponents. Muhammad has struggled and will continue to struggle with the transition from alpha dog to important cog in a bigger wheel. He still thinks he’s “the man,” though his game no longer suggests that he is. I do believe Muhammad is a hard worker and will fix many of his weaknesses. If he does those things, I think he’s a late lottery pick — which is exactly where we have him projected.”