Sarunas Jasikevicius: “I always say that it will be hard getting me out of here. May need to kick me through the door with both legs, unless it’s something amazing. A coach’s life is definitely not easy and I realized during the short time I coached. For me as a coach it’s very important how the people around me support me.”
Koby Altman of Cleveland's Cavaliers watched the game between Zalgiris and Fenerbahce that ended with the victory of the Turkish and his goal in the arena was to talk to Sarunas Jasikevicius.
“It is wonderful to be in this arena. The atmosphere here is incredible. Do we want something from Zalgiris? I can't reveal (smiles). Maybe. We will look at what we can do," Altman told a reporter.
Tony Jones: and myself: The Cleveland Cavaliers have sought and received permission to interview Utah Jazz assistant Alex Jensen. He is expected to interview next week, sources say
March 2, 2021 | 9:47 am EST Update
Still, league insiders don’t believe the Celtics can stand pat, and potentially waste a year of the primes of their two young building blocks who are playing at an elite level. “There comes a time where you have to do something to keep your stars placated and show that you’re trying, especially when they’re young and early in their primes,” the East executive said. “You have to make that commitment to them.”
That’s something Ainge has been reluctant to do in the past. The last time Boston acquired a player in an in-season trade was six years ago, when the team landed Isaiah Thomas from Phoenix. Only the San Antonio Spurs have a longer drought. “They’ll only do something,” the West executive said, “if they think they’re going to bury you.”
Despite developing two All-Stars in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Boston’s momentum has cratered. A series of free agent defections, misspent draft picks and cuts in payroll has resulted in a team that finds itself far off from the stated goal of hanging an 18th championship banner to the TD Garden rafters. Their weaknesses have been exposed, and they’re lacking in good options to fix them. So, with two games left before the All-Star Break and less than four weeks until the trade deadline, the Celtics are still searching for their identity. “I feel like our group is pretty together,” Celtics GM Danny Ainge told ESPN. “Guys are working hard still, and I feel like we don’t really know who this team is yet.”
Before Monday’s result, Williamson’s drives to the rim increased from 9.8 per game before the start of February to about 13 per game since, according to NBA.com. During the same time frame, Ingram’s drives went from 11.3 per game before February to 15.3 since. Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart’s driving numbers started increasing as well. The unrelenting, downhill style Williamson brings every night has started to rub off on his teammates, and it’s made the offense much more difficult to defend. Before the start of February, they were averaging 15.6 turnovers per game. Since then, that number has dropped to 12.2.
However, efficiency is going up. The league-wide offensive rating was 111.8/100 entering Monday. Since the 1973-74 season, when the introduction of offensive rebounds and turnovers to the box score allowed the stat to be tracked, the prior record was 110.6/100. Last year. Effective Field Goal Percentage? 53.6 percent, a record. Free throw percentage? 77.8 percent, a record. 3-Point percentage? 36.8 percent, a record. Turnover rate? 12.6 percent, not a record, merely the second-lowest of all time to 2018-19. The result of the league playing as fast as it has in 30 years and more efficiently than at any other point in history is predictable. The NBA’s 112.0-point scoring average is 11th all time and the highest since 1970-71. Pace stats aren’t kept that far back, but teams averaged 9.6 more field goal attempts and 10.7 more free throw attempts per game that season than they have so far this year, strongly suggesting the league played at a much higher possession rate in those days.
From 2007-08 to this season, that change represents more than a 21 percent increase in the concentration of usage within lineups. Similarly, the weighted average of the highest single usage in every lineup has risen nearly three points over the same time period. So, more possessions, played more efficiently, with teams feeding higher volumes to their top scorers than at any time in recent history. That’s how you get to 44 20-point scorers.
To bolster a team with so many 18- and 19-year-olds, players like Johnson, 33, and Jarrett Jack, 37, were brought in to not only fill out the numbers, but to provide mentorship to the young players — something Johnson says could be invaluable as they enter the NBA. “For these guys to be able to come to this program, play with (veterans), get that experience of living on their own and all the extra stuff, you know, they get that before they’re thrown in the fire,” Johnson said. “Coming into the program I was like ‘What a great idea getting experience first, before they get to the NBA.’ I just kind of got thrown into the fire, and God bless I had such great vets that steered me in the right direction.”
While the G League and college routes come with their own challenges, the similarities between what these players are going through and what life is like in the NBA is something that Jack says can’t be overstated. “It’s totally different from college,” Jack said. “It’s a situation where you can lock in and focus on the craft, work on your professional future. (You) get acclimated to what your lifestyle and what your day-to-day is gonna be going forward and you do that without having homework and other things that come with more of a college life. You’re just able to put 24 hours a day into being better, understanding how to be effective on a job. So, I think that’s where this program is really, really crucial and can be beneficial to a lot of people that college may not be the route necessary route for.”