Jae Crowder

Western Notes: Landale, Grizzlies, Towns, Gobert

Backup center Jock Landale, who will be a restricted free agent if Phoenix gives him a qualifying offer, hopes to remain with the Suns long term.

“This is a city and a fanbase and an organization I’d love to be a part of for the rest of my career if I could,” Landale said (Twitter video link via PHNX Suns).

The 27-year-old Australian had relatively modest numbers in the regular season, averaging 6.6 PPG and 4.1 RPG in 69 games (14.2 MPG).

However, after making just one brief appearance in Phoenix’s five-game series against the Clippers, Landale made his mark against Denver, as Phoenix was plus-34 over his 106 minutes in the series, with a positive plus/minus in five of his six games despite the club losing four of those contests and ultimately getting eliminated.

Here’s more from the West:

Jae Crowder Surprised By Lack Of Usage

Jae Crowder was baffled by his lack of playing time as the top-seeded Bucks lost 4-1 in the first-round series against the Heat, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. However, he’s still interested in re-signing with the organization.

While Jimmy Butler carved up the Bucks’ defense, Crowder played only 18 seconds in Game 5. He didn’t play at all in Game 4 and averaged 13.6 minutes in the first three games.

“I’ve never been in a situation like that,” Crowder said. “Eleven years. Check my résumé. I’ve been playing. I’ve always been playing. I’m very confused as to why I was brought here. I don’t know my purpose here and why I was brought here.”

In his walk year, Crowder chose to sit out until the Suns traded him. His situation was one of the big storylines during the first half of the season until the Bucks acquired him at the trade deadline.

Crowder expected to play major minutes during the postseason due to his playoff experience, defensive prowess and perimeter shooting. Instead, his role vanished during the series.

“Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that, DNPs,” he said. “I haven’t had them in my career so why start now?”

Yet, Crowder won’t rule out re-signing with Milwaukee this summer. He enjoys being around his current teammates.

“I would (return), because in the locker room it’s a great group of guys who puts work first and we have fun after that,” he said. “I can work in that type of environment and I really do appreciate my teammates for welcoming me. From day one it’s just been love from that side. But that’s a conversation that has to be had.”

Bucks Notes: First-Round Loss, Budenholzer, Free Agency, Antetokounmpo, Crowder

After winning a league-best 58 games during the regular season, the Bucks could only manage one victory against a determined Heat team in the postseason, writes Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The betting favorite to win the title heading into the playoffs saw its season end in shocking fashion Wednesday night with an epic fourth quarter collapse and an overtime loss.

“For me, I think this has been the worst postseason ever,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “I don’t think, you know, like we have a number in there, like every other team has a number (of games to win a title) like 16, 15, 14, and this like, we’re stuck at 15. I don’t think we’ve ever, as long as I’ve been in the playoffs, been stuck – maybe we lost in the first round – but not stuck at 15. Which is kind of hard to deal with.”

The back injury that Antetokounmpo suffered in Game 1 affected the direction of the series, but there were plenty of other explanations for Milwaukee’s first-round defeat. There were turnovers, missed free throws, rebounding lapses and a lack of focus at critical times.

Several players refused to talk to the media after being eliminated, but those who did expressed severe disappointment.

“I feel like we had the roster to do more than what we’ve done,” Jae Crowder said. “We came up short. Obviously we had a championship in mind and that’s the only conversation we always had, is championship. So we came up short big time. And we failed.”

There’s more from Milwaukee:

  • Among the lapses were questionable coaching decisions by Mike Budenholzer, who was heavily criticized in the press and on social media following Wednesday’s loss. Budenholzer failed to call a timeout after Jimmy Butler tied the game with 0.5 seconds left in regulation or as the Bucks failed to get off a shot as the final buzzer sounded in overtime. There were rumors that Budenholzer might be fired before the Bucks won the title in 2021, and Tim Cato of The Athletic considers it unlikely that he’ll survive Wednesday’s performance.
  • Brook Lopez, who will be a free agent, and Khris Middleton, who has a $40.4MM player option, will be the names to watch this offseason, per Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link). If the front office brings back both players, the Bucks will be a tax team for the fourth straight year.
  • Antetokounmpo will become eligible for an extension in September, but that could just be a formality, according to Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. Gozlan expects the two-time MVP to wait and seek a new long-term contract once his current deal expires.
  • Crowder is among several free agent bench players who face uncertain futures this summer. After the Bucks gave up five second-round picks to acquire him in February, he got into just three games and played 40 total minutes during the series, notes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link).

Bucks Notes: Lopez, Top Seed, Thanasis, Mamukelashvili, Ingles

Brook Lopez showed why he’s so valuable to the Bucks during Sunday’s victory over Toronto, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. The veteran center finished with a strong stat line — a team-high 26 points (on 9-of-15 shooting), five rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal in 31 minutes.

What those numbers don’t show is that he completely dominated the fourth quarter. With Giannis Antetokounmpo facing consistent double-teams, Lopez made timely cuts, drives and finishes around the hoop, finishing with more points (17) than the Raptors (16) in the final frame, Nehm writes.

As Nehm details, Lopez’s offensive arsenal has continually evolved since he joined Milwaukee five years ago. He’s averaging 15.6 points (highest total in six years), while shooting 52.1% from the field (highest FG% in nine years) and a career-best 37.7% from three-point range.

Lopez, who is making $13.9MM in the final year of his contract, is also a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, posting a career high 2.5 blocks per game for the NBA’s top team.

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • At 52-20, the Bucks hold a 2.5-game lead on the Celtics for the best record in the NBA. Are they gunning for the No. 1 overall seed entering the playoffs? “I think we want it,” guard Grayson Allen said, per Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I think we want the one seed. Even like after All-Star break it’s been super close between really the top three teams in the East, so, it’s not something we obsess about – we’re not checking it every day, every game – but I think we’re definitely aware of it. I know as a group, I know we want the one seed.” According to Owczarski, Antetokounmpo said that if he had to pick between the Bucks being healthy or the top seed, he would choose health, but since it’s within reach, they “should take the spot” to get home-court advantage throughout the postseason.
  • Reserve forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo was away from the team for five days, including a couple games, while dealing with a personal matter, but he has rejoined the Bucks, Owczarski writes in another story. Guard Goran Dragic has yet to make his Bucks debut due to knee soreness, and forward Jae Crowder has missed the past three games with left calf soreness. When asked if they could return on the upcoming three-game road trip, head coach Mike Budenholzer said it was still up in the air. “I think it’s right on the window of possibility,” Budenholzer said. “There’s a chance they’re not available, but there is a chance that they are. They’re working, both of them hard, making good progress. We’ll just see how it goes during that stretch.”
  • Budenholzer said it was tough to part with Sandro Mamukelashvili at the beginning of the month, but the team believed it was the “right thing” for the big man’s career, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. He is a good player,” Budenholzer said before Thursday’s matchup with the Spurs. “I hope he is terrible tonight, but generally he is great. And we are great fans of the human. He is a great person.” The Spurs claimed the second-year forward/center off waivers after he was released by Milwaukee and converted his two-way contract to a standard rest-of-season deal.
  • Forward Joe Ingles recently shared some thoughts on how he’s approaching his return to Utah to face the Jazz on Friday night, his longtime former club, notes Gabe Stoltz of BrewHoop (via Twitter).

Trade Breakdown: Kevin Durant To The Suns (Four-Team Deal)

This is the ninth entry in our series breaking down the significant trades of the 2022/23 season. As opposed to giving out grades, this series explores why the teams were motivated to make the moves. Let’s dive into the biggest blockbuster of the year, a four-team deal between the Suns, Nets, Bucks and Pacers.

Trade details

On February 9:

  • The Suns acquired Kevin Durant and T.J. Warren.
  • The Nets acquired Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, the Suns’ 2023 first-round pick (unprotected), the Suns’ 2025 first-round pick (unprotected), the Suns’ 2027 first-round pick (unprotected), the Suns’ 2029 first-round pick (unprotected), the right to swap first-round picks with the Suns in 2028, the Bucks’ 2028 second-round pick, the Bucks’ 2029 second-round pick, and the draft rights to Juan Pablo Vaulet (from Pacers).
  • The Bucks acquired Jae Crowder.
  • The Pacers acquired Jordan Nwora, George Hill, Serge Ibaka, a 2023 second-round pick (likely the Cavaliers’ second-rounder; from Bucks), the Bucks’ 2024 second-round pick, the Pacers’ 2025 second-round pick (from Bucks), and cash ($1.36MM; from Nets).
  • Note: The Bucks acquired the Pacers’ 2025 second-round pick in a prior trade.

The Suns’ perspective:

After posting a losing record for seven straight seasons – and missing the playoffs for 10 straight – the Suns had a remarkable turnaround in 2020/21, going 51-21 and reaching the NBA Finals, ultimately losing in six games to the Bucks. Last season, the Suns held the league’s top record at 64-18, but had a meltdown in their second-round loss to Dallas, getting blown out at home in Game 7.

Phoenix was reportedly high on Durant’s list of preferred destinations when he requested a trade this past offseason, but there were rumors of low-ball offers from rival teams and Brooklyn was said to be disinterested in obliging his request.

A few weeks later, there were questions about Deandre Ayton’s eagerness to be back in Phoenix after he signed a four-year, maximum-salary offer sheet from the Pacers over the summer amid tensions with head coach Monty Williams. The Suns quickly matched, however, signaling they still valued the former first overall pick, even if his role sometimes fluctuates.

In mid-September, former owner Robert Sarver was suspended by the NBA for a year and fined $10MM for workplace misconduct, including racist and misogynistic comments, following a lengthy investigation. He subsequently decided to sell his controlling stake in the franchise to Mat Ishbia, which was finalized shortly before last month’s deadline.

Finally, right before training camp opened, Crowder said he wasn’t going to participate, as he was reportedly unhappy with Williams after being told he would come off the bench (he had started the previous two years). The Suns then made an announcement saying the two sides would work together to find Crowder a new team.

Despite all the turmoil, ‘22/23 started out pretty well, with Phoenix going 15-6 over its first 21 games. Unfortunately, Johnson tore his meniscus during that span, and Chris Paul was sidelined by a foot injury until early December. The Suns lost five straight shortly thereafter, with star guard Devin Booker going down with a groin injury in mid-December.

Obviously, Crowder being away while Johnson was hurt didn’t help. Torrey Craig did an admirable job filling in, as did Ish Wainright, who was promoted to a standard deal from a two-way contract last month. But ideally, neither player would be logging heavy minutes on a championship-caliber team.

Paul is 37 years old (38 in May), and he is not the same player he was when the Suns made the Finals a couple years ago. He’s still good, just not on the same level, particularly from a scoring standpoint. That’s a huge deal, because he was Phoenix’s second-best player during the previous two seasons.

The Suns reportedly offered up Paul in an effort to land Kyrie Irving from Brooklyn shortly before Durant made his own request. I don’t know if those rumors are true, but either way, CP3 stayed put.

By mid-January, the Suns were just 21-24, and the season was slipping away. They recovered well leading up to the trade deadline, going 9-2 over that span to sit with a 30-26 record prior to February 9. Still, the damage had been done. I don’t think the Suns make this trade – specifically the way the deal was structured – if they still believed they were a real championship contender without acquiring Durant.

Ishbia played a major role in the deal. Even before he was officially approved by the league’s Board of Governors, a report came out saying the Suns were willing to make win-now moves, and he talked about being aggressive just before the deadline. He was also quickly willing to sign off on the extra $40MM the deal cost the Suns in salaries and tax penalties, a stark departure from the previous ownership group.

A report from ESPN indicated that president of basketball operations James Jones wanted to negotiate the inclusion of Bridges or add protections to the first-round picks, but the Nets held firm in their demands. The Suns also may have had another deal lined up for Crowder, but he ultimately was included in this trade as well.

Durant is in the first season of a four-year, $194MM extension. Booker, Durant and Ayton are all under contract through at least ’25/26. If healthy, those three alone make up a very strong (and expensive) core. It remains to be seen how long Paul will be around – his $30.8MM contract for next season is guaranteed for $15.8MM, and it is fully non-guaranteed in ‘24/25.

Durant is one of the greatest players in NBA history. He is a former league MVP, two-time Finals MVP, 13-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA member and four-time scoring champion.

In 981 career regular season games (36.7 MPG), he has averaged 27.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.1 SPG and 1.1 BPG on .499/.384/.886 shooting. In 155 career playoff games (40.4 MPG), he has averaged 29.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.0 SPG and 1.2 BPG on .476/.356/.866 shooting. He is the definition of a superstar.

Despite being 34 years old and tearing his Achilles tendon four years ago, he continues to play at an incredibly high level. In fact, when healthy, you could easily make a case for Durant being the best player in the league this season.

In 42 games (35.7 MPG), he has averaged 29.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 5.2 APG and 1.5 BPG on .566/.386/.931 shooting, good for an absurd .681 true shooting percentage. The FG%, FT% and TS% are all career highs. He is shooting 62.9% on twos, which is ridiculous considering the majority of his shots are mid-range jumpers.

Durant is also playing very motivated and strong defense in ‘22/23, which surprised me a bit because he had coasted on that end at times the past couple seasons. His teams have gone 29-13 this season when he has played, which is the equivalent of the second-best winning percentage (69.0%) in the league, only trailing the Bucks (71.8%).

Durant can do everything on the court at a high level. He’s 6’10” with a 7’5” wingspan, but he possesses guard-like skills, with elite shooting and excellent ball-handling. His passing has improved throughout his career, and when he tries, he is a top-tier defender. He is a matchup nightmare.

After playing in just four games from 2020-22 due to a couple of left foot surgeries, Warren finally returned to the court for the Nets in December, averaging 9.5 PPG and 2.8 RPG on .510/.333/.818 shooting in 26 games (18.8 MPG).

He clearly wasn’t at his best physically or from a production standpoint (he averaged a career-high 19.8 PPG on .536/.403/.819 shooting the season before getting injured), but he was still contributing off the bench. Warren has hardly played in his second stint with Phoenix, however, averaging just 6.4 MPG in eight games. He’s on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract, so he might not be back next season.

A few weeks after the trade was completed, Ishbia claimed the move carried “no risk.” That, of course, isn’t true.

Durant has gone down with a sprained MCL a few seasons in a row. You could say that’s a fluke, since it has involved players falling into his knee. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s played 35, 55 and 42 games over the past three seasons after missing all of ‘19/20 with a torn Achilles.

His ankle sprain on a routine layup while warming up prior to his fourth game with Phoenix was concerning. I could very well be wrong, but to my eyes, it didn’t look like he slipped; it looked like his ankle just gave out and rolled.

Durant is in his 16th season, has made several long playoff runs, and has also played in the World Cup (once) and the Olympics (three times) for Team USA. He’s still incredible, but the tread on his tires are pretty worn.

Giving up Bridges and Johnson stings. They were key role players for Phoenix who both improved tremendously throughout their Suns tenures, which we’ll get into more shortly.

Anytime you give up an unprotected pick in a future season it’s a risk. The Suns gave up three beyond 2023 — four if you count the 2028 pick swap, which will only be exercised if Phoenix is worse than Brooklyn.

Those picks from 2027-29 in particular could be extremely valuable. Durant will be 37 when his contract expires after ’25/26. Will he still be playing at this level, and will the Suns want to keep him if he’s not?

The Suns knew the risks. But the West is seemingly up for grabs, and they had faltered in their quest to make it back to the Finals.

I can’t say adding Durant made Phoenix the favorite in the West, but he nearly carried the Nets to the Finals with both Irving and James Harden injured a couple years ago. If healthy, this team will be extremely dangerous.

The Nets’ perspective:

The Nets were literally an inch or two away from sending Milwaukee home in Game 7 of their second-round series in 2021, which saw the Bucks prevail in overtime after Durant’s foot was on the three-point line on a potential game-winning buzzer-beater. The Bucks went on to win the championship.

Read more

Pacific Notes: Davis, Crowder, Westbrook, Mann, Clippers

Lakers star Anthony Davis led the team to a huge victory in New Orleans on Tuesday, piling up 35 points and 17 rebounds against his old club. However, the Lakers still aren’t comfortable having Davis play in both ends of back-to-back sets, so he’ll be held out of action on Wednesday in Houston, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN relays.

“He’s not going to play,” head coach Darvin Ham said. “He hasn’t been cleared. Even though he’s been playing pain-free, we made an organizational decision, starting with our team doctors, to hold him out of back-to-backs.”

According to McMenamin, Davis – who missed 20 games earlier in the season due a stress reaction and bone spur in his right foot – was reevaluated about two weeks ago, at which time the foot hadn’t shown significant healing. Lakers medical personnel has recommended holding him out of back-to-backs to reduce the risk of a setback.

“It’s just one of those things where even though he’s playing pain-free, it’s still an active injury,” Ham said. “So we have to monitor it and stick to the plan, as we always have done. And just go out there with our other guys and try to get a W and finish the trip the right way.”

While the Lakers are still favored to beat Houston even without Davis and LeBron James available, they certainly can’t take the game for granted in the midst of a competitive playoff race, especially given that the Rockets are coming off a Monday victory over Boston.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Bucks forward Jae Crowder derived some satisfaction from defeating his old team in Phoenix on Tuesday and was pleased with the reception he got from the Suns faithful, who gave him a resounding ovation in his first game back in the city. “Things ended in a bad way, on a bad note,” Crowder said after Milwaukee’s win, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I appreciate the love and I appreciate the applause I got.”
  • Russell Westbrook‘s arrival has resulted in a role reduction for Clippers guard Terance Mann, but there’s no animosity between the two players, who have become friends in recent weeks, according to Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. “It’s been amazing to be on a team with Russell Westbrook,” Mann said. “I’ve been a big fan of his since he’s been in the NBA. Last night, we were joking, he’s in Year 15 or something, and he’s 34. I was like, ‘Man, you look 23. You look younger than me.’ It’s crazy. So just being able to watch him lead and be great is cool.”
  • With the Clippers‘ championship window starting to shrink in year four of the Kawhi Leonard/Paul George partnership, there’s an increased sense of urgency and a feeling that the stakes are higher as the playoffs near, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes within a closer look at where things stand for the franchise.

Jae Crowder: “I’d Do It All Over Again”

Jae Crowder has no regrets about his holdout in Phoenix or the months of missed games as he waited for a trade to be completed, telling Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, “I’d do it all over again.” 

The Bucks had been considered among the favorites to land Crowder, but they weren’t able to work out a deal directly with the Suns. After Phoenix agreed to ship Crowder to Brooklyn in the Kevin Durant trade, Milwaukee offered draft assets to the Nets and everything was folded into a four-team deal.

The Bucks were thrilled to finally obtain Crowder, and they see him filling the defensive specialist role that P.J. Tucker did during their championship run in 2021. He has fit in seamlessly so far, averaging 19.3 minutes off the bench as Milwaukee has gone 4-0 since he has arrived.

“I think this team has what it takes to win a championship,” Crowder said. “That’s my main goal right now. I think once you win a championship, the rest of that stuff will take care of itself. My main goal, honestly, is not thinking about free agency or the summer. It’s all about winning the championship. I think that’s our locker room goal, and when I came into it, I knew that was the goal of the team.”

Crowder’s relationship with the Suns was reportedly damaged beyond repair when head coach Monty Williams informed him last offseason that he would no longer be a starter. Crowder refused to report to training camp, opting for individual workouts twice each day while he waited for a trade to materialize.

Sources tell Scotto that even when Cameron Johnson tore his meniscus in November, Crowder never considered returning to the Suns and the team didn’t discuss asking him to come back.

“Nah, there wasn’t a chance I was going to play there,” Crowder said. “Both sides knew that the road had come to an end. That came to an end way before Cam got hurt. I wasn’t going back on it, and they weren’t going back on it.”

Phoenix received offers for Crowder from several teams, Scotto adds. The Hawks, Rockets and Suns had exploratory discussions that would have sent Crowder to Atlanta along with Landry Shamet, while Eric Gordon and Kenyon Martin Jr. would have gone to Phoenix and John Collins would have wound up in Houston, but Scotto’s sources say that deal was never close to being completed.

Scotto adds that the Hawks also attempted to acquire Crowder and Shamet in a three-way trade that would have included the Jazz, but a disagreement over the draft picks Utah would have received prevented the teams from making progress. Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley would have gone to the Suns in that version of the deal.

Suns Notes: Crowder, Okogie, Warren, Payne, Bridges

A rift with head coach Monty Williams over the loss of his starting spot led to the end of Jae Crowder‘s time with the Suns, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Williams informed Crowder during the offseason that Cameron Johnson would be replacing him in the starting lineup, sources told Fischer. While Crowder didn’t go into detail, he confirmed that a strained relationship with Williams prompted him to ask for a trade.

“Yeah, we had differences,” Crowder said. “They asked me to keep it in-house, I’ll keep it in-house. I’m now gone, same thing I’ve told everybody else: I’ve moved on from the situation. I wish them the best, I’m leaving that behind.”

Crowder was initially on track to be shipped to the Nets as part of the Kevin Durant trade, but he ultimately wound up with the Bucks, who had been attempting to acquire him from the Suns. Phoenix gave permission to Milwaukee to meet with Crowder, and several trade scenarios had been discussed that included players such as Grayson Allen, Serge Ibaka, George Hill and Jordan Nwora.

“I landed where I wanted to land at the end of the day,” Crowder said. “I think I gained just knowing myself as a player and my mental. I never wavered. Never wavered on the process. From a month, to two months … I stayed with the plan of what it was and what I wanted to accomplish. So I give kudos to my mental and me staying sane throughout the entire process, because I did want the process to end fairly sooner than when it did.”

There’s more on the Suns:

  • Phoenix will undergo a major lineup change tonight when Durant makes his debut with the team, and it appears Josh Okogie will be the fifth starter alongside Durant, Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Okogie has made five consecutive starts and is averaging 18.5 points and 5.8 rebounds over his last six games while shooting 53.4% from the field. “We’ve been looking forward to (Durant’s first game) since the trade, but we had to wait a little bit,” Okogie said. “We’re excited to finally get him in the mix of things, show him how we play. Show him the love that we play with, the passion and the unselfishness that we play with.”
  • T.J. Warren hasn’t played in the two games since the All-Star break, Rankin notes in another Arizona Republic article. Warren was productive in Brooklyn, but Williams points out that he’s already using a 10-man rotation and someone else will be bumped now that Durant is active.
  • Tania Ganguli of The New York Times looks at the long friendship between Cameron Payne and Mikal Bridges, who are no longer teammates since Bridges was sent to Brooklyn in the Durant deal.

Central Notes: Crowder, Portis, Leonard, Hampton, Boylen

Jae Crowder and Bobby Portis have been through some memorable battles over the years, including the 2021 NBA Finals, but they’ve put any animosity behind them since becoming teammates, writes Lori Nickel of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

After Crowder was traded to the Bucks, he called Portis to invite him to work out together during the All-Star break. They joined teammate Joe Ingles for several days of training in Miami.

“Good guy, great guy, got nothing bad to say about him,” Portis said when asked about Crowder. “Sometimes you don’t know with guys because you play against guys all the time – and me and Jae always been the type of guys that kind of got into it. We always kind of bumped heads, but we bumped heads in a good way. We’re kind of similar; we brought intensity to the game, bring a chip on our shoulders.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Meyers Leonard is grateful to be back in the NBA after an absence that lasted nearly two years, per Jim Owczarski of The Journal-Sentinel. After signing a 10-day contract with the Bucks this week, Leonard met with the media to talk about the lessons he learned after being suspended for making an antisemitic comment in 2021. “It’s a mixed bag of emotions, for sure,” he said. “It’s certainly the hardest two-year stretch I’ve ever had in my life, as an adult, as a man. The truth is – let’s just cut to it – I made a really big mistake, the biggest mistake of my life. And it was an extremely difficult time because, first of all, just let me say to anybody who’s listening, I’m incredibly sorry. It was an ignorant mistake.”
  • R.J. Hampton played nearly five minutes Saturday afternoon in his debut with the Pistons, even though he hasn’t practiced with the team yet. Hampton signed with Detroit on Thursday after clearing waivers following his buyout with Orlando. “He’s a good defender, but most of all his athleticism and his size at the two guard is something we want to look at,” coach Dwane Casey told Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). 
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle talked to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files about the contributions of Jim Boylen, who has been serving as a consultant with the team in addition to his coaching duties with USA Basketball.

Heat Notes: Love, Martin, Crowder, Tucker

Kevin Love‘s first game with the Heat was forgettable, but there’s reason to believe things will get better, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “We have to just throw that one away,” Love said after going scoreless in a 29-point loss at Milwaukee. However, Jackson points out that the night wasn’t a complete disaster for the veteran big man. He had eight rebounds and four assists and seemed to mesh well with his new teammates after going through just one practice.

Jackson notes that Bam Adebayo tends to excel when he’s paired with tall power forwards who can shoot, which hasn’t been the case for nearly two years. The most prominent examples are Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard, who are both similar to Love in what they can do on the court.

“The biggest thing for me is passing, starting that fastbreak, closing possessions on the defensive end, using my shooting ability to help this team,” Love said. “… Nobody has to cater to me. I want to make the game easier for these guys.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Love’s addition means Caleb Martin is back on the bench after making 49 starts this season, Jackson adds. Martin, who was primarily a reserve during his first three NBA seasons, said he’s willing to accept whatever role coach Erik Spoelstra believes is best. “I prepared myself for something like that to happen,” Martin said. “It’s Spo’s job to figure out the best lineups, how guys fit in. He knows I’m one of those guys that’s willing to do what I’ve got to do.”
  • New Bucks forward Jae Crowder had Miami on his list of preferred destinations during his long holdout in Phoenix, Jackson tweets. Crowder, who made his season debut Friday night, played for the Heat when they reached the NBA Finals in 2020.
  • Because of an oddity in the schedule, the Heat won’t get their first look at P.J. Tucker until Monday night, notes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The defensive specialist played an important role in helping Miami post the best record in the Eastern Conference last season, but he hasn’t fit in as well with the Sixers. “Tuck always figures it out,” Spoelstra said. “I mean if you’re going to judge him by that last line in the box score, you are just really mistaken of how he can impact winning. Tuck does all those little, intangible things that really impact winning, that most people don’t really recognize.”