The guy no one likes showed up at the party last night (his name is insomnia, do you know him?), and he forced me to write these bullets at 2 am. Hate that guy.
• While I’m sure Zach LaVine will remain locked into all things Team USA for the next month-plus, it sure wouldn’t hurt for him to check in on Seattle pal Dejounte Murray. A recent report from The Athletic stated that both Murray and co-backcourt starter Derrick White could be “gettable” from the San Antonio Spurs this summer. Considering both inked a long-term extension last offseason, and both play for a franchise not known for striking major trades, one has to question how much weight this rumor carries. But, as we all know, where there is smoke, there tends to be fire, and there was plenty more smoke sent into the offseason air this weekend.
• Murray sent out a somewhat cryptic tweet late Sunday night, one that seemed to stem from the recent report mentioned above.
• Then, LaVine made things that much more interesting by liking a good old fashion photoshop of Murray in a white Bulls jersey.
— Artūras Karnišovas Fan Club (@arturasfanclub) July 12, 2021
• As we sit in the depths of the Chicago Bulls offseason, it’s easy to fantasize about a Murray addition. The Bulls are in desperate need of a point guard, and Murray is a 24-year-old who has shown nothing but promise over his previous two seasons. He may not have the reliable 3-point stroke Chicago would prefer at the position (and he also has yet to prove he can consistently get to the free-throw line), but he is a strong facilitator with a mean mid-range game and All-Defensive Team-caliber play. Not to mention, if he continues to develop, his contract has the potential to be one of the more valuable in the league. Thanks to his already-signed extension, Murray is under control until 2024, and he is set to make only an average of $16 million per year.
• At the same time, I’m not going to pretend like one cryptic tweet and one liked jersey edit is a strong indicator of what will unfold. I’d hope that if Murray was truly on the trading block that LaVine would express his interest to the front office, and the front office would then proceed to pick up the phone. But whether or not that would lead to anything is hard to say. Murray is worth first-round draft compensation, and the next one the Bulls can trade sits in 2025. Otherwise, a Lauri Markkanen sign-and-trade might be able to get the ball rolling, but Karnisovas would need to start adding assets on top of that. Would the Spurs want any vets? Probably not, unless they feel confident in their ability to build a contender with their cap space this offseason. Would they be interested in Coby White? Eh, maybe.
• I could easily see Chicago beat in any potential Murray race out on July 29th. A franchise with 2021 draft capital might be able to present the most intriguing offer to this Spurs team, especially if the franchise is looking to enter a more large-scale rebuild.
REPORT: Spurs Guards Derrick White and Dejounte Murray Might be “Gettable” This Summerhttps://t.co/UPfTEDwyHl
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) July 9, 2021
• Giannis Antetokounmpo is not human. In fact, I’m convinced he is from the planet Ballgron, a world inhabited by demigod basketball players who dunk in their sleep and strictly drink GOAT milk. The way he has performed over these last two Finals games is on par with some of the most individually dominant performances we have seen on that big of a stage.
• More specifically, it was hard not to watch Antetokounmpo’s dominance last night and not think about a certain top-10 player of all time. He and Shaquille O’Neal are the only two players who ever had back-to-back games with 40+ points and 10+ rebounds in the Finals, per SatMuse. Only 14 players ever have taken 23+ shot attempts in a Finals game while scoring 40+ points and shooting 60 percent or better from the field, per Stathead. Antetokounmpo has now done it twice, joining O’Neal as the only two players to perform that efficiently multiple times in the Finals. Wow.
• Also, when people start bringing up MJ, you know you’re doing something downright special.
Giannis Antetokounmpo after back-to-back 40-points games, when asked about Michael Jordan’s 4 consecutive 40-point games against the Suns in the 1993 Finals:
“I’m not Michael Jordan… but all I care about right now is getting one more. Take care of business, doing our job.”
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) July 12, 2021
• The Bucks finally got some help from their No. 2 and No. 3, as Middleton and Holiday combined for 39 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. Meanwhile, Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez each added 11 points of their own. From start to finish it looked like a much more comfortable and confident Bucks squad (home crowd boost?), one that never took their foot off the gas after grabbing a sizable halftime lead. The team did get some help from the Phoenix, though, who apparently used up all of its 3-point magic in Game 2. After sinking 20 shots from downtown on Thursday, Devin Booker (1-7 3PT) and Co. shot just 9-31 from downtown last night. Throw in 20-second chance points for Milwaukee and a 16-6 advantage in the fastbreak, and this was a full-speed punch in the mouth by the Bucks.
• I’m a big fan of Monty Williams, but this ain’t it. Not only did the Suns put on their pads every time Antetokounmpo got the basketball, but the Suns benefitted from their own massive free-throw discrepancy in Game 1 (got 26 attempts to Bucks 16, which was exactly reversed tonight). It is what it is.
Suns coach Monty Williams: “I’m not going to get into publicly complaining about fouls … but we had 16 free throws tonight. One guy [on the Bucks] had 17”
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 12, 2021