Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Brooks’

Much Ado About The Amnesty Rule …

– For labor updates, follow: @daldridgetnt | @AschNBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Rarely have so few words received so much scrutiny.

But if we didn’t know any better, the amnesty provision in the NBA’s new labor proposal (and that’s all it remains at this point, until the untangling process is complete) would appear to be the most important piece of the pending collective bargaining agreement.

It seems strange that something that will be utilized by such a small number of teams would be the focus of everyone’s attention. Yet when you realize the names that could potentially be impacted by the rule — Brandon Roy, Rashard Lewis, Baron Davis, Richard Jefferson, Mehmet Okur, Gilbert Arenas and several others — the intense examination of how the rule works makes much more sense.

Folks in Portland have already singled out Roy as one of the certain casualties of the amnesty rule, with John Canzano of the Oregonian providing the background for how and why it will go down:

The whisper at One Center Court is that Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen won’t bother to take one last look at Brandon Roy before he goes amnesty clause on the guy who won all those games for him.

Here’s hoping Allen does. And that the longest look is into Roy’s eyes.

“Brandon’s out,” a league executive told me Monday. “Don’t know the exact details, but everyone around the league knows it’s way, way done. Paul and Bert (Kolde) are calling the shots on this one.”

While the amnesty provision seems like the hot topic of the day, there are other items in the tentative labor agreement, outlined in a letter from Billy Hunter to the players, a copy of which was obtained by SI.com‘s Sam Amick, that require more attention.

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Blogtable: Disappointing players

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Which player has let you down like none other this year, expectations-wise? No fair picking someone who’s hurt.

David Aldridge: Nobody’s “let me down–”; it’s not like I loaned somebody $20 and they haven’t paid it back. I would say I’m surprised that Steve Blake didn’t play better for the Lakers this season. I know it takes a couple of years to really learn the triangle, but I thought he’d pick it up quicker than he has and not have to be coaxed to shoot. I suspect he’ll play a lot better in L.A. next year.

Steve Aschburner: Seeing as how I picked Indiana center Roy Hibbert to be the NBA’s Most Improved Player and Hibbert, in many ways, has actually regressed, he’s my pick again for all the wrong reasons. Hibbert did not boost his game in significant ways — his shooting percentage is way down, his scoring and assists are off on a per-minute basis and his rebounds have ticked up only a little. The Pacers’ pivot man did not take responsibility as a leader on or off the floor, and his inconsistent, largely lost season was a major factor in coach Jim O’Brien’s firing. He did get in a great shape and worked hard last summer, but a couple of days working with (and hearing about John Wooden’s pyramid of success from) Bill Walton didn’t have much carry-over.

Fran Blinebury: Though he’s played better lately, Hedo Turkoglu has the distinction of under-performing for two different teams this season.  He never was a fit in Phoenix and overall hasn’t been the same Hedo who was a key factor in Orlando’s run to the Finals in 2009. (more…)

Lowry Fuels Rockets’ Playoff Push

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In the interest of full disclosure, we should begin by saying we were skeptics when the Houston Rockets decided to hand Kyle Lowry the keys to the franchise and trade away Aaron Brooks.

It’s not that we aren’t fans of Lowry’s daredevil style and fearless approach to any and every challenge that stands in his way. Truth be told, that’s what we love about his game, that and the fact that he looks like your prototypical NFL free safety in a basketball uniform.

But we just weren’t sure if he was right fit for the Rockets.

It’s a good thing general manager Daryl Morey is the man in charge of making Houston’s decisions, because he understood what this team needed and didn’t waste time acting on it.

For all the things Brooks gave the Rockets — a scoring threat with seemingly unlimited range, a swashbuckling young point guard who made up for a lack of size with a huge heart and competitive drive to spare — he was never the take-charge floor leader the Rockets needed.

Lowry is and shows it off on a nightly basis these days (triple doubles, and his Western Conference Player of the Week honor that was just announced today).

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Contrite Brooks Returns To Rockets

HOUSTONAaron Brooks was not back where he wants to be in the starting lineup. But he was back with the Rockets, back with his teammates, back at his locker about 75 minutes before Tuesday night’s game, trying to put the worst moment of his NBA career behind.

“Emotions got the best of me,” Brooks said. “It was an embarrassing moment for myself. I wish I hadn’t done it. That’s not the type of guy I am.”

The fourth-year point guard was the guy who literally walked out on his team when he left the court in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s home game against the Grizzlies. He had been frustrated for weeks about his own inefficient play and the fact that coach Rick Adelman was frequently sitting him on the bench late in games.

Brooks had been suspended by the Rockets for Monday night’s game in Denver.

“I just want to send apologies to everyone, to Mr. (Leslie) Alexander, to the GM to the coaches, especially to the team, because I let them down. It was just a big mistake. That’s not me. That’s not part of my character and it won’t happen again.

“I love being a Rocket. I love being here. Right now, my play hasn’t been where it needs to be to play. I need to pick it up personally. I feel if I do what I’m capable of doing, what I’m accustomed to doing, getting healthy and playing, then everything will take care of itself.”

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24-second thoughts: A ‘Super’ fade?

As another week in the NBA gets rolling, here are 24 thoughts to ponder and discuss:

24 – Coincidence? The NBA and Marvel Comics – Spider-Man,The  Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, etc – announce a new joint line of clothing at just the time when Superman & his friends are fading in Orlando.

23 – Based on the All-Star rosters, Dirk Nowitzki should be leading the MVP race by a landslide. Of the teams with the four best records in the league, the Celtics have four stars, the Spurs two and the Lakers two. So doesn’t Lone Star Dirk get credit for doing all of the heavy lifting by himself?

22 – Using the Kepler telescope to probe Milky Way galaxy, astronomers are now speculating that conditions might be right for the existence of life on 54 new planets  … and in Indianapolis.

21Aaron Brooks goes from Most Improved to Most Impudent in the space of 10 months, literally walking out on his Rockets teammates in the middle of the fourth quarter against Memphis. Way to make the case that you deserve a big contract extension when you can’t handle the heat of competition from Kyle Lowry.

20 – Forget the Alamo if you’re the Lakers. That horse is likely out of the barn. The real challenge over the final 2 ½ months of the regular is to finish ahead of Dallas for the No. 2 spot in the West and home court in a potential second-round series. The last time the Lakers won a playoff series without home court advantage was the 2004 Western Conference finals against Minnesota.

19 – Who’s going to beat out Tom Thibodeau for Coach of the Year? He started the season without Carlos Boozer. Now the Bulls are minus Joakim Noah and each week they’re looking more like the team nobody will want to tangle with for best-of-seven in the East.

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To Extend Or Not To Extend

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Please forgive the headline writers for going all Billy Shakespeare on us this morning (hey, it was staring right at ‘em, they couldn’t resist).

But the Hawks are facing a classic quandary regarding two of their most important players. Do they extend one player at the expense of further agitating another? That is the question.

Larry Drew‘s first training camp as head coach of the Atlanta Hawks is entering the frisky stages for reasons that have nothing to do with the game of basketball.

The facts: Jamal Crawford wants a contract extension or a trade. Al Horford is going to get a lucrative extension worked out sometime in the next couple of weeks, well deserved by the way, which will no doubt infuriate the Crawford camp (since they haven’t been able to engage in serious talks about either of his requests with Hawks management since asking about it in July).

The reigning Sixth-Man of the Year award winner, Crawford isn’t the only player coming off of a stellar season that is unhappy with his contract situation. Houston The reigning Most Improved Award winner, Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks, like Crawford a Seattle native, isn’t pleased that the Rockets aren’t interested in negotiating a new deal.

Both sides make understandable cases. Crawford and Brooks want security in advance of a new collective bargaining agreement that might not be favorable to the players. Both the Hawks and Rockets have to be cautious in how much they spend for the very same reasons, the uncertainty of the next CBA. They could end up overpaying wildly for players (Horford does not qualify, he’s a 24-year-old All-Star and arguably the second best player in his draft class behind Kevin Durant) that wouldn’t command the same dollars on free agent market with a different set of parameters designed to benefit the teams.

While Hawks general manager Rick Sund has remained silent on his process with both Crawford and Horford, Rockets GM Daryl Morey has provided some wonderfully plain language that should be easy for anyone to follow:

“We’re not doing extensions,” Morey said. “Quite a few guys on the team are up for extensions. Just policy-wise, we’re not doing it.

“Obviously, every player would want an extension. I don’t blame them for that. All we can do is the best for the Rockets. They’re doing the best for themselves. Make sure they know the reason we’re doing it has nothing to do with how you value the player or anything like that. It’s just we’re trying to keep ourselves as flexible as possible going forward.”

What would you do?

Hump Day Hoops Roundup

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We don’t have to wait for the games to start to know what time it is.

If there are sneakers squeaking across a hardwood floor and there’s at least one coach hollering instructions or blowing a whistle (love the teaching going on in Philly, above), it’s the right time here at the hideout.

And on Wednesdays, that means a morning peek at the goings on around the league as training camps have tipped off from coast to coast. Enter this season’s first installment of the Hump Day Hoops Roundup:

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A POSITION CHANGE FOR LEWIS?

Magic power forward Rashard Lewis struggled in the Eastern Conference finals against Boston, a series the Magic saw slip away when they couldn’t combat the Celtics’ size and strength in the low post with just Dwight Howard carrying the lion’s share of the load. Now comes word that Lewis might be splitting his time this season at both power forward and small forward, a move that might have changed the course of that Magic-Celtics series, had it been done then.

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel with the details: Coach Stan Van Gundy has said he will spend the weeks before the Oct. 28 regular-season opener trying to determine if the team is better off with Lewis at small forward.

The Magic’s version of The Great Experiment will have repercussions for the rest of the roster. If Lewis remains the starting power forward, either Quentin Richardson or Mickael Pietrus or maybe even J.J. Redick will serve as the team’s fifth starter. If Lewis starts at small forward, then either Ryan Anderson or Brandon Bass will start at the other forward position.

Either way, Lewis figures to receive plenty of time at both forward spots in the days and weeks ahead. One reason Van Gundy didn’t play Lewis at small forward during the Boston series was that Lewis had barely played the position during the year and the team wasn’t comfortable with him playing there. Making such a dramatic change in the middle of the playoffs might have done more harm than good.

Indeed, when asked Tuesday how the team would differ with Lewis at small forward, Dwight Howard responded, “Well, Rashard’s been playing the ’4′ for so long, I don’t remember him playing the ’3.’ “

For Lewis, the biggest adjustment would come on defense. He would go from guarding bulky bruisers such as Boston’s Kevin Garnett to possibly guarding dynamic wing players such as Miami’s LeBron James.

“The concern with him playing the ’3′ is never at the offensive end,” Van Gundy said. “But it’s whether he can guard the ’3s’ on the move in this league and chase through screens . . . It’s a different set of expectations.”

This is a no-brainer for the Magic. Lewis isn’t a great defender by any stretch. So whether he matches up at small forward or power forward on defense shouldn’t make that big of a difference, so long as Howard continues to protect the paint in Defensive Player of the Year fashion.

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‘MELO MEGA-DEAL IS OFF, FOR NOW

We need to make sure we have this straight: the four-team mega deal involving Carmelo Anthony and a proposed move to New Jersey is off. But the Nets are still pursuing a deal that would deliver Anthony to Brooklyn (in a couple of years)? That’s the way it is as of right now. Of course, just five days ago the ‘Melo-to-Jersey fire was being stoked from all directions. So obviously, things could change in an instant. But again, as of right now, there is no deal to speak of.

Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post with more: In a surprising turn-of-events, Melo did make himself available to the media after Denver’s practice – the first of training camp -– though the small forward didn’t say much about the trade talks.

Asked by our guy Mark Kiszla if it’s possible Melo wouldn’t give 100 percent at practice Melo said sternly: “(Expletive) No. I love the game too much to disrespect the game like that. Anytime I step on the court, I’m going to give it my all, regardless of what’s going on, what’s the situation. I’ve been through so much in my short career so far, earlier in my career, and still was able to perform on the court. Going through bad stuff, facing adversity. This is not adversity. This is basketball. People want me, trade talks and rumors and all that stuff, this is basketball. I focus on basketball, it’s something I know how to do and I love to do. As far as my effort on the court, nobody can question that.”

Melo’s contract expires at the end of this year. A source had previously said, back when all this trade stuff started, that he wants the three-year, $65 million extension offered by Denver –- but wants to use it with another team in a bigger market. Melo is a free-agent-to-be, which would normally be enticing, except that the current collective bargaining agreement expires this summer –- and the new one could affect players’ salaries.

“It’s scary,” he said. “Of course it’s scary. There’s a lot of anxiety to see what’s going to happen. Hopefully we as players and the owners can come to an agreement that suits both, players and the owners. We shall see. It is a little scary.”

Anthony has nothing to be scared about. He’ll command max dollars wherever he plays for the foreseeable future. But it’s good to hear that ‘Melo is concerned about his fellow-man.

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JOSH SMITH TEAM CAPTAIN?

Don’t laugh. It’s true. Hawks coach Larry Drew is showing just how different his regime will be from his predecessor Mike Woodson‘s, by designating Josh Smith as a team captain alongside All-Stars Joe Johnson and Al Horford. If Smith takes to the role the way Drew hopes, this could turn out to be a true stroke of genius — especially with the league’s expanded rule on technical fouls in place. Smith has also earned the right to operate as one of the Hawks’ team leaders. He’s as responsible as any player on the roster for the Hawks’ rise the past three years.

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It’s here! Four Camps open today

The season is finally here.

An offseason of unprecedented uprooting at long last gives way to sneakers squeaking with a purpose with the start of training camps in selected locales this weekend.

The Rockets, Timberwolves, Nets and Knicks tip it off today with each hosting their Media Day — the first official gathering and unveiling of each franchise’s full squad and coaching staff. The Lakers follow suit Saturday, closing out the teams that get a head start because of international commitments with NBA Europe Live and NBA China Games.

The other 25 teams get going on Monday with practices in full swing for everyone no later than Tuesday.

There won’t actually be any drills or scrimmages taking place today. Media Day is a chance for us pesky reporters to ask those pesky questions about the season ahead. Players generally model their uniforms for the first time for the cameras on hand, and in this case they’re trying on those spiffy new duds from adidas.

Houston is holding camp on campus in the Toyota Center. Jason Friedman of Rockets.com whets our whistle for the start of workouts with an Aaron Brooks Q&A. Friedman asks the young point guard if he sees an All-Star Game in his future:

“That would be nice. But I think about Aaron Brooks in the playoffs. I like the sound of that better. It’s not about what happens with me or to me, it’s about making it back to the playoffs. The fans and organization deserve that and we want to get there this year.”

The Wolves are also staying home, getting it done inside the Target Center. Timberwolves.com is taking fans inside Media Day 2010 Live with an all-access online pass. Be sure to keep up with Jonah Ballow‘s daily reporting from camp (including a possible chat with new addition Michael Beasley), and for Kurt Rambis‘ thoughts before it gets started, check out this video interview with Minny’s coach.

The Nets are holding camp at their new interim home (Prudential Center) under the guidance of their new coach (Avery Johnson). Ben Couch of Nets.com caught up with the Lil General, a diehard New Orleans Saints fan, a couple of days back:

“I’m excited. I’m cautious, but I’m optimistic. That’s where we are. Unlike the Saints, this franchise has been to the Finals two times. But the last few years have really been some tough years for us. I just feel it’s a brand new day for Nets basketball. It’s a new era and we’ll get that started on Saturday.”

The Knicks are headed to the Madison Square Garden Training Center in Greenburgh for their camp. Coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Donnie Walsh talk team upgrades and the season ahead from New York’s practice site.

Kobe Bryant and the two-time defending champs hold camp at the Toyota Sports Complex in El Segundo. Check back with Lakers.com today to catch Phil Jackson‘s Saturday presser online.

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MIP Love For Brewer?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — All of NBA.com’s operatives will be unleashed around here now that the playoffs are upon us. And one of our favorites gets the party started with some awards debate you will love.

Posted by NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner:

I can’t argue with Sekou’s choice of Chicago’s Joakim Noah or the readers who consider Houston’s Aaron Brooks to have improved more than any other NBA player this season. But I do back the runner-up status Mr. Hang Time bestowed upon Minnesota’s Corey Brewer. Having seen the before-and-after pictures of this slender Timberwolves swingman — good thing we’re not talking weight loss, because Brewer could only model for after-and-after pics — the change in this guy’s game has been remarkable. It’s just that few voters watched Timberwolves games enough to notice.

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Upon arrival in the NBA, Brewer was all energy and elbows, swell on defense, fine in the open court. But his shot was cringe-worthy, as ugly as Juwan Howard‘s and way less effective. Then he blew out a knee and missed all but 15 games in his second season. But this year, lo and behold, he came back and revealed a confident and accurate shot. How accurate? From 37.4 percent from the floor as a rookie to 43.1. From (clang!) 19.4 percent from arc that first year to 34.6.

It was long, long hours in the gym — taking 500 shots when he wanted to go home after 400 — that boosted Brewer’s shooting touch and, of course, the confidence that followed. He still is a guy who’ll make his greatest mark as a lockdown defender, when he eventually adds strength. But what Brewer achieved this season wasn’t just improvement — it was transformation.