The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
It’s been no secret that while the Bulls as an organization have had better success since John Paxson took over in 2003 versus the post-Jordan 1999-2002 era under former GM Jerry Krause, there has been plenty of criticism to go around. As Noh points out, the lack of utilization of the trade market to improve the roster is stunning. The Bulls haven’t acquired a starting level player via trade since John Salmons in 2009, and in general they’ve played it safe and settled for being good and hoping a free agent or draft pick will vault them over the top.
It’s no secret that Kevin Durant is one of the more likable guys in the NBA. He’s a pure scorer, he’s viewed from the outside as a quiet leader, he signed an extension to stay with the Thunder early in his career and in general not many people have negative things to say about him. Fair or not, he’s been the anti-LeBron as far as public image goes. Rookies get polled each year on their favorite players, and not surprisingly Durant came in at No. 1 with 21.2 percent of the vote. Kobe Bryant finished second with 18.2 percent, while LeBron came in a distant third.
Clark wanted to take a look at Isaiah Thomas and examine whether he’s going to the be the long-term starter for the Celtics this season. The overwhelming answer he got from others is “no.” Clark believes that Thomas makes an ideal sixth man, and this sounds about right. There’s also the point that it doesn’t matter who starts, but merely who finishes the games. We’ve seen other teams do this in a successful way, as I’m reminded of Tom Thibodeau starting Carlos Boozer and routinely finishing with Taj Gibson. Thomas could be looking at a similar role with the Celtics.
Jonas Valanciunas agreed to a contract extension with the Raptors this week, reportedly signing for four years and $64 million. That’s a good deal for the Raptors center, but it’s also likely a good deal for the Raptors as well. Valanciunas is only 23 years old and has shown promise on both ends of the floor, and there’s certainly room to grow. Compare Valanciunas, who has offensive skills to go along with solid rim protection, with a one-way player who got paid like Enes Kanter ($70 million). Valanciunas got paid, but he deserved it as well. Barring injuries, the Raptors should be happy with this deal.
The Spurs reportedly have interest in 35-year-old forward Rasual Butler, who’s an unrestricted free agent. Butler hit 38.7 percent of his three-point attempts last season in 75 games for the Washington Wizards. He’s a veteran player who likely would fit well with Gregg Popovich’s scheme, and in general seems like the kind of player the Spurs usually sign and turn into a quality role player. The Spurs can’t offer Butler more than the veteran’s minimum, but at this stage in his career he won’t get any better offers.