In Shane Larkin’s first three NBA seasons, he played for three different teams (the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets) as well as four different head coaches (Rick Carlisle, Derek Fisher, Lionel Hollins and Tony Brown).
This upcoming season, the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft will play for the Spanish club Baskonia after signing with them this offseason. The 23-year-old point guard will join fellow former NBA players Andrea Bargnani, Roddy Beaubois and Tornike Shengelia on the Spanish squad. Larkin and Bargnani will be teammates for the third straight year, as they also suited up together on the Knicks and Nets.
Over the course of his three-year NBA career, Larkin averaged 5.8 points, 3.2 assists, two rebounds and 1.1 steals while shooting 43.8 percent from the field. Last year, he averaged 7.3 points, 4.4 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 22.4 minutes for Brooklyn. His per-100-possession stats were 16.3 points, 9.8 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 2.7 steals. After Larkin completes this season in Spain, the unrestricted free agent wants to return to the NBA.
Basketball Insiders recently caught up with Larkin to discuss his decision to sign with Baskonia, why he’s bounced around the NBA early in his career, what he hopes to accomplish while in Spain and more.
Basketball Insiders: One thing you told me before free agency was that you were determined to find a good situation, a good fit. Was your decision to sign overseas mainly about not finding the right situation in the NBA due to interested teams having a lack of playing time or offering only a partial guarantee?
Shane Larkin: “Yes, for sure. I had to switch agents halfway through free agency because I didn’t really like the direction I was heading with my former agent. But when I signed with Jim Tanner, he laid out all of the options on the table. With what was presented to me, I felt like this opportunity in Spain – on a historically good team that has had multiple pros come through this specific club – was my best option that late in free agency.”
BI: What stood out about Baskonia as you were making your decision? Why did you ultimately decide to sign with them?
Larkin: “They have had multiple pros come through this club and I believe that, in many ways, I can grow on this team. I can’t name every single pro who has come through here, but I know of Jose Calderon, Pablo Prigioni, Luis Scola, Mirza Teletovic and Tiago Splitter to name a few. So it is obvious that the culture is very good, and the level of coaching and competition is very high. I believe that with this great opportunity I have been given, I can grow here as a person and as a player. That’s what is best for me at this point in my young career.”
BI: This team has a lot of talent when you look at the roster. You’re teaming up with former NBA players Andrea Bargnani, Roddy Beaubois and Toko Shengelia among others. How good can this team be and what are your expectations entering the season?
Larkin: “I believe we have a lot of talent on this roster. We can be really good. Obviously, the goal is to win championships, so hopefully we can grow very well together as a team and win as many of them as we can. I say championships because we play both in the Spanish league and the Euroleague, which are two different championships.
“I want to win Euroleague and win the Spanish league. I want to be the best point guard in Europe. That doesn’t necessarily mean scoring the most points or having the most assists, just being the point guard who did whatever he needed to do on a nightly basis to help his team win. If we win, everything else will take care of itself.”
BI: Was there any part of you that was hesitant to go overseas? Sometimes players don’t want to give up the NBA lifestyle, or they are worried that they’ll never be able to get back to the NBA if they sign with an international team. Were you hesitant at all, and did those things cross your mind?
Larkin: “In all honesty, I wasn’t very hesitant at all. The NBA lifestyle is amazing, but I don’t play in the NBA because of the lifestyle. I play in the NBA because I love to play basketball at the highest level of competition. And with you saying players worry about not making it back into the NBA, that isn’t a concern of mine at all. I had several teams interested in me this summer and a few things – but nothing in regards to how I played – factored into how everything played out. Some are things I can control and some are things I couldn’t, but I think my new representation and new perspective on what it takes to be an everyday pros-pro will land me back in the league in no time. When that happens, I can grow and be more successful than I had been previously – especially after showing my abilities this year when put into a position where I can play my game in some ways.”
BI: Going overseas also presents somewhat of an adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take in a new culture and gain a lot of life experience. How excited are you about this?
Larkin: “I’m very excited about this opportunity. I actually love the Spanish culture, which is one of the reasons I live in Miami during the offseason. It’s probably the most Spanish place in the U.S. My dad is actually fluent in Spanish and has wanted my siblings and I to learn Spanish forever. Overall, this will be a great experience that will only make me a better person and a better player. I’m definitely excited for it and grateful.”
BI: As you went through the free agency process, what was going through your mind? Especially as you saw other players coming off of the board, with many signing large contracts.
Larkin: “Man, this summer was insane (laughs). You had some guys going from playing low minutes per game to signing large contracts over multiple years, so it was definitely crazy. Last year as a free agent, I signed on the first day so I didn’t go through the whole process. This year, it was definitely a new experience with the cap jump and all of that. But at the end of the day, I’m happy for everybody who got paid this summer because I know the hard work you have to put in and the sacrifices you have to make in order to make it into the NBA. And oftentimes the players who don’t play as much just need the opportunity, so hopefully all of the guys people are saying don’t deserve their money play well and show their worth.”
BI: Do you feel that some of the players who signed these significant contracts with NBA teams this summer are less talented than you? I know that’s a common feeling for players.
Larkin: “No doubt about it (laughs). If you look at a lot of the guys who signed deals this summer and you look at my numbers per-36-minutes, it’s a toss up or I have better stats – and that goes for people who signed for $50 million to $15 million. But in a lot of ways, the NBA is all about perception. If you’re on a good team and you play minutes – regardless of if you produce or not – you’re viewed as a ‘winner’ and being a ‘winner’ goes a long way in the eyes of general managers and decision-makers around the league. So even though my stats are better or even, and I’m younger, and I have more potential than a lot of these guys, being on two different teams that had losing seasons hurt my overall perception in teams’ eyes. But no question about it, in my mind, I’m better than and have more potential than some of the guys who signed deals this summer. That is no shot to their games, I’m just a confident person and I know what I’m capable of if placed in the right situation with the right team around me.”
BI: In the past, we’ve talked about the chip you have on your shoulder. How much did the events of this summer add to that chip and further fuel your fire to prove yourself?
Larkin: “Maaannn, if I had a chip before, the chip has grown to the size of a damn building. Never in my life have I been so determined and motivated. A lot of stuff happened off of the court this summer that has added fuel to my fire as well. But I’m not one to talk about what I’m going to do, I just go do it and let my play speak for itself.”
BI: As I’ve pointed out in the past, you’ve done well when given significant playing time. Why do you think you’ve bounced around the NBA and what have you learned (as a player and as a person) from your career thus far?
Larkin: “I think I just haven’t been placed in the most ideal situations. In the three years I have played in the NBA, I would say that Dallas was the best situation. Dallas is an amazing franchise with great people on the staff – inside and outside of the locker room – and being drafted there was a great opportunity for me. Unfortunately, I broke my ankle two weeks after the draft and I missed all of Summer League, preseason and about the first 15-20 games of the season. So when given the opportunity to play, I had no reps against actual NBA players and the last time I had played was in March of my college season. Then, having to adjust to playing with guys the likes of Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter from playing with your college teammates, it was a huge adjustment and in a lot of ways I deferred to them and just tried to stay out of their way instead of using my talents and my abilities to help them and become a regular contributor on that team. I had a few good games that season where I showed my talent and potential, but by the time I got comfortable and healthy, Devin Harris had come back from injury. At that point, we were in the playoff race so Coach [Rick] Carlisle, who typically doesn’t play rookies that much, went with the more proven and trusted player – which I cannot be mad at or upset with him about because we did push the eventual champions to seven games that year and it was a great experience. I really wish I would have had a different experience there and not broken my ankle and had the path that I had because my game is very similar to J.J. Barea, who has had an amazing career there. I feel as though I could be doing the same, if not better, if given that same opportunity. But I will say, I wasn’t as mature and professional as I should have been when I was in Dallas and I made some mistakes that I shouldn’t have as a young player. That’s something that I do regret because I feel as though that could have been the perfect place for me to grow.
“My second year with the Knicks was very different for me as a basketball player and it was tough. As everybody knows, Phil Jackson had just taken over as president and Derek Fisher had become the head coach and they wanted to implement the Triangle offense. Everybody on that roster that year had a tough time adjusting to the Triangle and we had a terrible year – myself included. I had always been a basketball player who created plays for others with my speed and quickness and ball-handling ability. But in the Triangle offense, the offense makes the plays based on the reads of your teammates and the defense so it was a huge adjustment for us all, but specifically me as a play-making point guard. And actually, when you look at that roster on paper, it was pretty good. It just didn’t mesh well with the Triangle offense, which is probably why the only people left on the team from that season are Carmelo Anthony and Lance Thomas (who was there half of the year). That was just a tough season overall. We actually started strong, but we didn’t keep it up and kept losing. Then at the All-Star break, they decided to trade J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, and waive Amar’e Stoudemire, so we basically started over with a bunch of young guys and we just didn’t have enough talent to win games after that. Losing was tough, and losing in front of the passionate fan base that the Knicks have was tough. Madison Square Garden was a wonderful place to play and it was a great experience. I just wish we could have been a better team that season and won more games because when you win there, it is a special place. And I wish I could have been a part of that. I still go back and forth with some of the Knicks fans on Twitter or Instagram so imagine [the support] if we would have won that year? They were great fans, like personal hound dogs for anybody who would talk about anybody in the Knicks (laughs).
“Finally, this past year with Brooklyn started off being a great situation. GM Billy King called me at 12:01 a.m. on July 1, 2015, and I signed a few days later. They wanted me to come in, be myself, play my game and help the team win. And to start the season, I was doing that at a very high level. I was shooting 50 percent from the field and around 46 percent from three, and just being confident in being myself on the court. There were several articles and media outlets saying, ‘Larkin finally found his niche’ and, ‘This could be a breakout year’ and, ‘He finally turned himself into a rotation player and serviceable back up.’ Everything was going well for me personally too. We, as a team, just weren’t winning enough games. After about 30 games, they changed everything. They fired the coach, reassigned the GM and everything went haywire. Imagine playing on an NBA team with no coach and no GM. There was no direction and the interim coach Tony Brown was just kind of told to do whatever. It’s tough for anybody – coaches and players – to be in that position, but we all tried to make it work. Tony did his best and we all as players played hard and tried to win games. And with the position we were in, I think we all did a good job – including the coaches. Once all of that happened, it was kind of a roller coaster ride for me. I would play well one game and then not so well and then average and then well again – all across the board. It was just hard to find consistency. Then, they hired Sean Marks as the GM and I ended up starting the last 13 games of the year or something like that. We won two in a row against Cleveland and Indiana, and I had two good games. Then, they decided to sit Thad Young and Brook Lopez, who were our two most talented offensive players, for the rest of the season. So I was starting with other players who were talented, but not to the level of those two. I feel like in the games I started with Brook and Thad, I showed I could be a spot starter. But once they sat, that opportunity left as well. It was a roller coaster ride this past season, but I feel like I showed my talent and my potential again.
“Overall, I’m grateful for the three different situations to showcase my talent and be in three great franchises. But with each situation, it has been tough and not the best for a young player trying to find himself early in his career. Also, playing for four different coaches in three years is difficult because, regardless of the coach, they are going to want you to do different things based on their preferences. But, like I said, I am grateful for every situation because it has taught me a valuable lesson about what you have to do in the league: Be yourself and be the ultimate professional. You have to play your game and do the things that you did to got you there. You can’t please everybody, but if you go out and play your game and be yourself then they will accept it because they brought you in for that reason. With my current situation in Spain, that is what I’m focused on – getting back to being that same guy I was at the University of Miami, the one who got drafted 18th overall because of his play and the one who has all the potential to be a great player in the NBA.
“My goal is to get back to being who I am as a player – a nightmare in the pick-and-roll because I can shoot it and go by you and, defensively, being the same pest that led the ACC in steals my sophomore year. I want to just basically get back to being that guy, only now being better because I am stronger, faster and mentally tougher now than I have ever been in my career.”
NBA Daily: Checking In With Terrance Ferguson
Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Terrance Ferguson talks to Basketball Insiders about learning from his teammates, earning minutes and being mentally tough.
Before he reached the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Terrance Ferguson was once often referred to as a man of mystery. After changing course on two different programs in a two-month span, Ferguson ditched the typical one-and-done collegiate season for an adventure on the other side of the planet. But even after the Thunder selected Ferguson with the No. 21 overall pick in last year’s draft — the questions still lingered. How would a teenager with one season overseas adjust to the world’s most physical basketball league?
Not many rookies can contribute to a 40-plus win squad out in the cutthroat Western Conference so quickly — but down the stretch, here Ferguson is doing just that. With the Thunder locked in a tight playoff battle with six others teams, the 19-year-old’s hard-working personality has fit alongside the roster’s three perennial All-Stars — Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. And although his rookie season has come with some growing pains, Ferguson is earning meaningful minutes and making the most of them.
“I think it’s my work ethic, I come in every day with the same mentality,” Ferguson said. “I work my butt off — inside the game, being physical. Even though I’m a skinny guy, as everyone can see, I’m still everywhere on the floor being physical. I think [the coaching staff] really likes that, especially on the defensive end.”
Skinny or not, Ferguson is one of the league’s youngest players, so the 6-foot-7 guard has plenty of room to grow — literally. But for now, he’s playing an integral role on an Oklahoma City team looking to protect its high postseason seed. Late January brought the unfortunate season-ending injury to Andre Roberson — an All-Defensive Second Team honoree in 2016-17 — so the Thunder have needed both new and old players to step up in bigger roles.
While those candidates included the three-point shooting Alex Abrines, veteran Raymond Felton and the newly-acquired Corey Brewer, Ferguson’s recent rise in the rotation has arguably been the most interesting development. Since the calendar flipped to January, Ferguson has featured in almost all of the Thunder’s games, tallying just two DNP-CDs and one missed contest following a concussion. This steady diet of opportunity comes as a stark contrast to the 15 games in which he received no playing time, spanning from the season’s opening tip to the new year.
Of course, playing time is not always indicative of success, but Ferguson himself isn’t surprised that he’s carved out a crucial role ahead of the playoffs.
“Not really, it’s all up to coach’s decision,” Ferguson told Basketball Insiders. “I’m just here playing my part, staying ready at all times and some minutes came, so I’mma take them and play to the best of my ability.”
Back in October, Basketball Insiders’ own Joel Brigham spoke to Ferguson about his unconventional path to NBA and the choice to spend a year grinding with the Adelaide 36ers, an Australian outfit. In the land down under, Ferguson averaged just 15 minutes a night, considerably less than he would’ve likely received as a highly-recruited prospect here in America. Some five months later, Ferguson’s early-season stance on the move still stands out.
“I’m living the dream now, right? I must have done the right thing,” Ferguson said.
Today, it’s hard to disagree with Ferguson’s decisions considering that they’re currently paying off. In 2009, Brandon Jennings became the first to skip college and play in Europe before being drafted, with Emmanuel Mudiay most notably following in his footsteps six years later. While those two point guards both were selected in the top ten of their draft classes — at No. 10 and No. 7, respectively — it still remains the road far less traveled.
Considered raw by most pre-draft evaluations, an early expectation was that Ferguson would spend much of the season with the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G-League affiliate. Instead, Ferguson has played in only three games with the Blue, where he has averaged a commendable 14.7 points, four rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.
But as of late, the Thunder have found somebody that’ll always work hard, learn from others and do the little things that don’t show up in the box score.
“I’ve learned a lot more from when I first started,” Ferguson told Basketball Insiders. “I got great teammates — I got Nick Collison, I got Russ, PG, Melo, so just picking their brains. I got Corey now, so just the work ethic they put in, just picking their brains each and every day about what I can do better, watching game film, it’s a lot of things.”
When he was drafted, Ferguson had a reputation as a skyscraping leaper with the athleticism to become an elite perimeter defender. Although his current averages with the Thunder understate his innate potential, Ferguson knows he can contribute without scoring — even noting that he can make up for it “on the other side of the court.” Playing defense and competing hard every night, he has slowly made a name for himself.
And while Ferguson has tallied far more single-digit scoring outings than his 24-point breakout performance in early January, he’s earned the trust of head coach Billy Donovan and his veteran teammates, which is something the rookie will never take for granted.
“Coach believes in me and that means a lot to me,” Ferguson said. “But my teammates believe in me, so I’m not gonna let them down. I’m gonna go out every day and play my hardest, compete and try to get the win each and every night.”
One might assume that his year abroad in Australia helped to mentally mold him into the high-flying, hard-nosed rookie we see today. Ferguson, however, contends that he’s had that edge from the very beginning.
“I’ve been mentally tough, it wasn’t overseas that did that,” Ferguson told Basketball Insiders. “I had to be mentally tough just to go over there — so I’ve always had that mentality, the [desire] to just dominate, play to the best of my ability and compete.”
And now he’s doing just that in the NBA.
Is Kyrie Irving’s Second Opinion a Cause for Concern?
Shane Rhodes breaks down the tough situation the Celtics are in with Kyrie Irving.
The Boston Celtics are in one awful predicament.
With a third of the roster out due to injury, Brad Stevens has been forced into the impossible task of maintaining Boston’s championship aspirations with some subpar talent; while they have performed admirably, the likes of Abdel Nader and Semi Ojeleye wouldn’t see the same run they are currently on with most contenders. Gordon Hayward has missed the entire season, save a few minutes on opening night. Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis are all currently out, some for the year and others not. Key contributors Al Horford, Marcus Morris and others have missed time as well.
It couldn’t get worse, could it?
Well, it may just have. Reports surfaced Tuesday that Irving, who had missed time this season — including the last four games — with left knee soreness, is seeking a second opinion after a lack of progress in his recovery.
— Tony Massarotti (@TonyMassarotti) March 20, 2018
With lack of progress on his ailing left knee, Celtics All-Star Kyrie Irving plans to travel for a second opinion later this week, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 20, 2018
In the wake of the Isaiah Thomas fiasco and his ailing hip last Summer, an injury that lingered deep into this season, the Celtics will likely be more than cautious with Irving, whom they gave up a haul (the rights to the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round pick, most notably), to acquire. But one can only wonder if these persistent issues — Irving’s left knee was surgically repaired after he sustained a fractured kneecap in 2015, and he reportedly threatened the Cleveland Cavaliers with surgery this offseason before his trade to Boston — are a cause for concern for general manager Danny Ainge and the Celtics.
The situation presents the Celtics with a quandary, to say the least.
Knee injuries aren’t exactly a death-knell, but fans need not look far for to see the devastating effect they can have on NBA players (e.g. Derrick Rose). They can snowball and, over time, even the best players will break down. Regardless of the severity, Irving’s knee issue presents problems both now and in the future.
The problems now are obvious: the Celtics, already down Gordon Hayward, cannot afford to lose Irving if they are at all interested in making a Finals run this season. Boston struggles mightily on the offensive end when Irving and his 24.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists aren’t on the court. In a playoff atmosphere, especially, the team would sorely miss his scoring prowess.
Looking ahead, if Irving is dealing with these problems at the age of 25, what could the future hold for the All-Star guard? Knee issues, most lower body issues in general, are often of the chronic variety, and constant maintenance can wear on people, both mentally and physically.
Just a season separated from a likely super-max payday, will the Celtics want to commit big-money long-term to potentially damaged goods?
If there is a silver lining in it all, it is the fact that 20-year-old rookie Jayson Tatum must now shoulder the scoring load, something that should go a long way in building on the potential that made him the No. 3 overall pick last June. And, should Irving miss the remainder of this season, exposure to the fires of the playoffs should only temper the Celtics’ young roster. In the event that Irving’s absence isn’t prolonged, time like this could only serve to strengthen the roster around him.
Still, Ainge brought Irving to Boston for a reason: he was meant to lead the Celtics into battle, alongside Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, in their quest for a title. Obviously, he can’t do that from the bench. Without Irving at 100 percent, the Celtics are not a championship caliber squad, healthy Gordon Hayward or not. That fact alone will make Irving’s situation one to monitor going forward and for the foreseeable future.
NBA Daily: Houston Has It All
Deciphering whether Houston is a contender or pretender is tough, but they’re making it easy.
It is very easy to get caught up in the NBA regular-season hyperbole. The past is littered with a plethora of NBA teams that looked like world-beaters in the regular season only to pull up lame in the playoffs and emerge as a bunch of pretenders.
So when it comes to the Houston Rockets, it’s no surprise many pundits and fans of the game fall heavily on one side or the other. The 2017-18 Rockets are a polarizing squad in that respect. On one side of the fence, you have the folks that are struggling to get behind Houston until they see how the franchise performs in the playoffs under the brightest of lights and on the biggest of stages. On the other, folks that place a great deal of weight on the 82-game regular season and the ability to sustain consistency throughout the marathon.
As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
At the top of Houston’s lineup are two future Hall of Famers in James Harden and Chris Paul. The latter was a perennial star in his heyday and is still a top-tier talent in the league. Harden, on the other hand, is closing in on his first MVP award and had serious cases for winning the honors in prior seasons, as well. Both Harden and Paul are criticized for their past playoff failures.
Paul entered the league during the 2006 season and has been dogged by the ever looming fact that he’s never reached a Conference Finals. Harden has been to the NBA Finals but has been dogged for multiple playoff missteps and shaky performances that remain etched in everyone’s memory. But something about this season’s Rockets team (57-14) seems different as the duo closes in on 60 wins.
One way to measure the true greatness of a NBA team is evaluating how many ways the roster can win playing a variety of styles. From the eyeball test, Houston checks the boxes in this category. The team sustains leads during blowouts. They have an offense built to erase large deficits quickly. The team possesses the talent to employ an array of versatile lineups to withstand top heat from opposing teams. Head coach Mike D’Antoni has shown the ability to adjust on the fly during certain situations. Houston is seemingly comprised of a bunch of guys that are selfless and ready to sacrifice at this stage of their respective careers.
Time will tell on all of those aforementioned aspects, but the Rockets are built to compete and win now. On paper at least, the team fits the criteria.
Paul has a chance to go down as a top five point guard in NBA history .His court vision is unquestioned and his big men always seem to end up being in the top five of field goal percentage each season (i.e. Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan and now Clint Capela). In years past, the Rockets faltered down the stretch of games because the entire system ran through Harden. But this year’s club has the luxury of taking some of the on-ball expectation away from Harden and by giving the rock to Paul who naturally thrives in this role the squad doesn’t take a step back on the floor.
This is going to be big for Houston which has seen Harden gassed late in playoff games from carrying the entire load.
Small Ball Ready
Presumably standing between the Rockets and an appearance in the NBA Finals are the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors turned the NBA upside down with their free-flowing offense, long range accuracy and the successful ability to push the pace while playing small ball.
At the height of Golden State’s success they employed the “death lineup” which places All-Star forward Draymond Green at center. In different variations this gives the Warriors five guys on the court who can dribble, drive, pass and shoot. Versatility is important and if you look at this year’s Rockets team they have the ability to match the death lineup with their own version. Veteran forward P.J. Tucker would be able to guard Green in this scenario at center or Houston could just rely on the athleticism of Capela.
When it comes to defense, the Rockets will never be confused for the bad boy Detroit Pistons of yesteryear, however, the team has an assortment of individually capable defenders on the roster. Paul has all defensive team honors hanging on his mantle during his time in the league. Small forward Trevor Ariza made his bones in the league by placing an emphasis on defense. Before Capela emerged as a double-digit scorer, he was relied on as a defensive spark off the bench. Luc Mbah a Moute has a reputation and consistent track record of being a very willing defender.
Shooting, Versatility and Experience
All of this success, leads to the variation D’Antoni can put out onto the floor. The versatility to go with a small ball lineup or a lineup heavily skewed toward defenders is a luxury amenity. Houston also features five guys with 125 or more three-pointers made this season with Harden, Eric Gordon, Ariza, Paul and Ryan Anderson leading the way. A sixth, Tucker, should join the +100 club before season’s end. Veteran Gerald Green has only played 30 games with the franchise but has already knocked down 76 attempts from distance.
Experience is key as well. This year’s Rockets team features only one player under 25, receiving 25 or more minutes per night in the rotation. Look at NBA history, title winning teams are full of veterans not second or third year players.
Again, the Rockets will never be confused with the late 80s or early 90s Pistons but the team has more than a few guys that don’t shy away from contact or physical play. The collection of Nene, Tucker, Green and Ariza have had more than their share of shoving matches when things get heated on the floor.
With the start of the NBA playoffs (April 14) under a month away, the Rockets continue to build momentum toward a title run. Will Harden and Paul’s playoff demons from the past emerge or is their first true shot at greatness with a complete team? These questions will soon be answered.