• The Lakers are on the verge of hiring Eddie Jordan as an assistant coach, presumably to install some version of the Princeton offense, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. At NBA.com, John Schuhmann looks at Jordan’s history as a head coach and how the Princeton style has worked at the NBA level. The Kings of the early 2000s, with legendary Princeton coach Pete Carril on staff, stand as the most famous NBA adopter of the system. But, as Schuhmann points out, there have been others, including teams with All-Star point guards.
That said, I’m not sure any of these teams had both an All-Star point guard (Steve Nash) and a back-it-down, 7-foot post-up beast (Andrew Bynum) with so-so speed, untested shooting range, unproven passing skills and a hunger for the ball. Pau Gasol is a wonderful Princeton fit. Kobe Bryant, for all the gunning, is a skilled cutter who can work well off the ball, and has succeeded in another read-and-react offense (the triangle). Nash has spent his entire career running high pick-and-rolls, not a Princeton staple. But he’s also one of the greatest shooters in the league history, someone capable of throwing an initial entry pass, setting a nasty screen and cutting to the wing for a spot-up chance.
Nash is capable of much more, of course, and it’s easy to improvise a pick-and-roll toward the end of a possession when Nash gets the ball on one of those spot-up chances. It’s also easy to call a high pick-and-roll early if the pieces align that way. Even if they hire Jordan, the Lakers are not going to run a “pure” Princeton offense, such as one even exists anymore; they’ll use elements of it, along with pieces from several other styles. Heck, you’d see pieces of the triangle pop up now and then in Mike Brown’s offense last season.
We have plenty of time over the next few months to dig into all these issues, so for now, let’s say this: I’m not sure any team is going to be as interesting to watch next season as the Lakers.
• One candidate for that “interesting” title: the Warriors, who rounded out a very nice offseason — on paper — by signing Carl Landry for a big chunk of the mid-level exception and re-signing Brandon Rush via Larry Bird Rights. The moves take the Warriors about $1 million over the luxury tax, though they could minimize the hit (or eliminate it, depending on the precise math) by eventually cutting Kent Bazemore and/or Charles Jenkins.
Landry provides a veteran third big man. Rush supplies what he always does: very good outside shooting, decent off-ball cutting, solid defense and the ability to play both wing positions while not really contributing anything spectacular.
As I wrote last week, the Warriors’ approach is spot-on. In reality, we have to learn the answers to several core questions, such as the health of key players, the readiness of two youngsters on the wing (Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes), the ability to wring meaningful minutes from the big men outside the top three and the state of the defense when center Andrew Bogut hits the bench. I can’t wait to see them play.
• Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports on Daryl Morey’s plan for the Rockets to emulate what Danny Ainge once did for Boston, in terms of acquiring a bundle of cheap assets to flip for stars:
Ainge did a fantastic job in both gathering assets and drafting well during the years that led up to Boston’s 2007 makeover, but he was also incredibly lucky that the stars he acquired were there for the taking. He was very lucky that Minnesota Timberwolves GM Kevin McHale declined Chicago’s superior offer of Tyson Chandler and high lottery picks for KG [Kevin Garnett] in 2006, and Phoenix’s reported and potentially superior offer of Amar’e Stoudemire and picks a year later.
• The latest on a potential new NBA arena in Seattle. Amid the Olympics, the Finals, free agency, summer league and a generally jam-packed NBA calendar, it’s easy for those of us outside of Seattle (with the exception, perhaps, of fans in Sacramento and Memphis) to forget this process is happening. But it’s happening.
• Portland GM Neil Olshey has an extensive and pretty candid interview with Eric Pincus of HOOPSWORLD. One outtake on Nicolas Batum:
“We think he can earn the contract that he signed,” said Olshey of Batum. “He took the offer sheet route. That was his prerogative. His agent did a great job, got him an above-market value deal probably; but Nicolas is 23-years old. He’s a building block. He’s part of the foundation. We believe he has a great future and he’s on the same career arc as LaMarcus [Aldridge], Wes Matthews and Damian Lillard.”
• Wizards owner Ted Leonsis answers questions from the readers of the blog Bullets Forever. This is a cool thing for an owner to do.
• The Mavericks and Magic met about a potential Dwight Howard trade and mutually decided that they didn’t have much to discuss. No surprise. Dallas used up all its cap space for this season in free agency, meaning it’d be difficult for the Mavs to take on any Magic player besides Howard. Dallas also has few appealing trade assets for Orlando. The Mavs will be a player for Howard in free agency, if he gets there, and they could of course butt their way into a three- or four-team mega-trade during the season.
• Chris Copeland is a power forward with range who hit a bunch of shots for the Knicks at summer league and earned himself a non-guaranteed deal. He talks to ESPN New York’s Jared Zwerling about that contract, and what comes next.
• Lithuania has been a standout offensive team for much of the last decade. Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland looks at how Lithuania uses constant movement and counters to make each of its five players something of a threat on offense.