October 20, 2021 | 1:37 pm EDT Update
Michael Grange: “My whole career, my whole time in Toronto, nothing has been promised … I had to work for everything, I see it the same way this year … at the end of the day I gotta be consistent, that’s the one remaining thing I gotta focus on” — Chris Boucher on his contract year mindset.
“The difference in New York is he’s the second-best player,” said the East executive. “He’ll have the ball in his hands. Boston tried to fit a square peg in a round hole. They tried to make him fit with them, whereas New York knows who he is and they are more likely to play to his strengths, running high pick-and-rolls for him a lot.”
And it’s one thing to be dealing with nagging knee issues if you’re on a max deal. It’s quite another if you’re the sixth-highest paid player on the team. “He’s obviously small defensively, and that’s a challenge,” said the West executive, “but I think he’s going to be a fine, capable, starting point guard for the Knicks.”
Although both Walker and the Celtics stressed the knee issue that had ended his season two games early wasn’t the same one that plagued him throughout his second year in Boston, it didn’t change the fact he was 13-for-41 overall and 3-for-17 from 3-point range before being shut down. “He couldn’t make a 3, couldn’t finish in the paint and couldn’t guard anyone,” a Western Conference executive said. “The knee just wasn’t in a good enough place.”
StatMuse: Russell Westbrook’s career usage rate was 32.7%. His usage rate last night was 19.3%. It was also his third ever triple-single (less than 10/10/10) when playing 35+ minutes of his career. pic.twitter.com/6o6rDmS1Dd
Green’s season debut Tuesday night marked the 640th game of his NBA career during the Warriors’ 121-114 season-opening win against the Los Angeles Lakers. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said pregame that Green is still rounding into shape after missing the beginning of training camp due to legitimate family reasons, but says he is in a “good place” mentally and expects him to have a “great season.” The NBA currently has 85 players out of roughly 450 with 10 or more years of experience. And Green appreciates being in that group after expecting the worst. “I sit and think about it all the time,” said Green, who had six points, eight rebounds and six assists as a starting forward for Golden State. “I am in year 10. I’ve done some great s— in this league to be going into year 10. But I still feel I have a lot more work to do to reach the goals that I want to reach.”
League officials were almost gleeful about the Harden move at the time. Player sharing was the Orwellian term coined by then commissioner David Stern, who wanted the elite talent more evenly dispersed across 30 franchises. The 2011 labor deal didn’t kill superteams, as some owners and league officials hoped, but it did make it far tougher to build and sustain them. “Before, you would look at a seven-to-10-year window,” says a longtime team executive who has worked for multiple contenders. “Now you want to maximize three to five years, as it may end or likely have dramatic change afterward.”
Maybe another cap spike will come with the league’s new TV deal in 2025, fueling the next Warriors-esque empire. Maybe another LeBron-like figure will emerge to dominate the landscape. Maybe some clever GM will assemble an elite cast without angering the tax gods. “Someone’s going to figure it out,” assures a veteran team executive.