Posts Tagged ‘Al Harrington’

Morning Shootaround — Feb. 24


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Feb. 23

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Kobe on Collins and courage “domino” effect | Oden’s makes waves, first start for Heat | Clippers finally get what they need … win over the Thunder | Wizards turn to veterns for help down the stretch | A “shoe war” over Lillard?

No. 1: Kobe insists Collins courage will have domnio effect – Making history surely wasn’t on the mind of Jason Collins Sunday night, as he became the first openly gay athlete to suit up and play in one of the four major American sports. All Collins, of the Brooklyn Nets, was trying to do was earn his 10-day contract keep and help his team win. Whether he likes it or now, though, Collins is taking groundbreaking steps that will generate what Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant called a courage domino effect across the landscape. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports explains:

“His impact [Sunday night] is greater than what people think,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports before the game. “You look at it from the context of having the first openly gay player. But they missed the domino effect that it has way beyond sports.”

Collins, now in his 13th season, was a free agent at the time of his announcement and the Nets were the first team to sign him. Bryant said his initial reaction to Collins signing with Brooklyn was, “It’s great. Let’s hoop.”

Along with having an impact on the gay and sports communities, Bryant says the news teaches the youth “it’s OK to be yourself” and will motivate people from all walks of life.

“It’s fantastic. It sets an incredible precedent,” said Bryant, who is currently out of the Lakers’ lineup indefinitely with a knee injury. “I think the most important part about it, what I’ve learned on the issue is that one person coming out is showing this type of courage that gives others that same type of courage.

“It’s dealing with a lot of issues for kids who are afraid to be themselves. Afraid to be themselves because of the peer pressure that comes with it. A lot of these kids have depression issues or they’re being teased from other kids for being different. You wind up seeing a lot of suicides, kids injuring themselves and getting hooked on things that they should not be hooked on.”

On the impact of Collins’ first game, Bryant said: “There is a kid out there who … is going to say, ‘Jason gave me strength in dark moments to be brave. He gave me courage to step up and accept myself for who I am despite what others might be saying or the public pressures. He gave me strength and bravery to be myself.’”

Collins, who was scoreless in 10-plus minutes of action, said in response to Bryant’s praise, “That’s along the same lines of what I would say to every other professional athlete. … Realize that there is support there waiting for you. That’s the only thing I can say about encouraging people to be their true self.”


VIDEO: Jason Collins waxes on his season debut with the Brooklyn Nets

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No. 2: Greg Oden’s first start for Heat (sans LeBron) ends with a win – Greg Oden made some news of his own Sunday, earning his first start for the Miami Heat in their win over the Chicago Bulls. The former No. 1 overall pick reached yet another milestone in his long journey back from what once appeared to be career-ending knee injuries. His start came without LeBron James in uniform, the Heat superstar sat out with that broken nose suffered against the Oklahoma City Thunder last week. But this day was about Oden and his milestone, writes Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald:

Oden’s big-picture perspective is unwavering.

He’s just happy to be here.

“For me, each game getting better and walking off healthy — they’re all milestones to me,” said Oden, who is attempting to revive his career after a series of knee injuries. “It has been a long road, so every one is a good one for me.”

Sunday might have been the best of all. He started his first game since December 2009 and played nearly 13 minutes in Miami’s victory. During his brief time in the game, Oden matched up against Bulls center Joakim Noah and had five points and five rebounds.

“He’s an active player for someone that big,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He makes multiple efforts, he gives you extra possessions and he’s very intelligent, so he has a pretty good grasp of what we want and how we want to play already.”

With LeBron James out with a broken nose, Spoelstra went to Oden for his size inside against the Bulls and also to keep the Heat’s second unit somewhat intact. Chicago is one of the league’s most aggressive rebounding teams and it showed early. The Bulls held a 32-19 rebounding advantage after the first half.

“We knew the minutes would be short for Greg still — 10 to 12 minutes — so we figure that [it would] be best to get him in that starting lineup,” Spoelstra said. “We get to keep our rotations somewhat similar.”

Oden said he could have played more than 13 minutes, which is a positive sign for the Heat. He is expected to be an important piece in the playoffs, especially against teams such as the Bulls and Indiana Pacers, which feature big frontcourts.

On a contending team for the first time in his career, Oden is following the lead of his more experienced teammates and Oden’s health is returning just in time for the Heat’s playoff push.

“They’ve all been through this before,” Oden said. “This is one of my first times going through this. This is that push you’ve got to get for first place. That’s what we are aiming for right now the next push is going to be when the playoffs come.”

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No. 3: Clippers finally get that much-needed win over The Thunder – The Los Angeles Clippers fancy themselves a championship team, as do the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers, though, needed a win over the Thunder, on the road, to legitimize their claim. And they finally got that Sunday, solving their Thunder issue on the big stage and sending a message that they are indeed going to be a part of the power mix in the Western Conference playoff chase. As Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports, it was long overdue:

The Clippers needed this.

A 125-117 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday carried restorative powers for a Clippers team had been unsuccessful against the NBA’s elite on the road.

The Thunder owned the league’s best record — until the Clippers’ victory took their opponent down a peg to 43-14, percentage points behind Indiana (42-13).

The Clippers won with all five starters scoring in double figures. Jamal Crawford led the way with 36 points, but Matt Barnes (24 points, seven rebounds), Blake Griffin (20 points, seven rebounds, six assists), DeAndre Jordan (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Chris Paul (18 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds) all played significant roles.

“It’s definitely a good win for us,” said Paul, who played despite a sprained right thumb. “We were on the plane [Saturday] flying here and we were just talking about how we hadn’t beat any good teams on the road, and this would be the perfect time to start.”

The Clippers lost here earlier this season. They also have lost at San Antonio, Miami, Indiana and Portland, teams that rank among the best in the league.

The Clippers have won at Houston, but that was only one win against five road losses against the top teams.

Now the Clippers have a victory against a Thunder team that has lost only five games at home all season. They also have their first win since the All-Star game, after stumbling out of the break with losses to San Antonio and at Memphis.

“It was a very important win, especially having dropped our last two,” Griffin said. “This win was big for us. We haven’t really made a statement on the road. We’ve won some games, but we haven’t won big games. So it was terrific for us.”


VIDEO: Doc Rivers talks about the Clippers’ big win in OKC

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No. 4: Wizards turns to veterans for help down the stretch – Trades and injuries have a way of opening doors for NBA veterans this time of year and the Washington Wizards are not different. After their work on deadline day, the Wizards had a new point guard in Andre Miller and an opening for a few minutes for guys like Al Harrington and Kevin Seraphin. An injury to Nene created even more space for those two veterans and they answered the call for Randy Wittman‘s team. Michael Lee of The Washington Post with the details:

Kevin Seraphin couldn’t get overly concerned when he saw Nene crumple to the ground in pain, then hop off the court and through the tunnel toward the Wizards’ locker room on his good, right leg. Coach Randy Wittman called on Seraphin immediately after Nene went down with what the team is calling a sprained left knee in the third quarter of the Wizards’ 96-83 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. Seraphin had to be ready.

“Yeah. I saw him leave, but when we’re in the game, we have to be focused on the game,” Seraphin said.

The Wizards (28-28) were only up by three points at the time of Nene’s departure and they have typically become flimsy when their most gifted big man is unable to finish a game. Washington squandered a 10-point fourth-quarter lead when Nene was ejected with roughly three minutes left in Oklahoma City, lost in overtime to Milwaukee when Nene strained his right Achilles’ tendon, and suffered a controversial defeat in Houston after Nene fouled out late in the fourth quarter.

After Luol Deng completed a three-point play to bring the Cavaliers within 73-72 with 93 seconds left in the third quarter, the Wizards were once again in danger of letting a winnable game get away from them. Then, Wittman put veteran Al Harrington on the floor and he made two huge shots – a driving layup and a three-pointer – to send the Wizards into the fourth period with a six-point lead.

“I was just looking for an opportunity. I was ready, obviously, the situation with Nene allowed me to do a little more,” Harrington said. “It’s tough. He’s been playing some great basketball, so that was tough to see. Hopefully we can get him back sooner than later, but guys got to step up. I think we got enough guys that can do that.”

Harrington didn’t score for the rest of the game. But Seraphin came through with two huge, 10-foot jump hooks to push the Wizards ahead 82-74 early in the fourth quarter.

“He’s capable of doing that,” Wittman said of Seraphin. “The more he simplifies his game the better. Sometimes he likes to trick people, and we got to get him just to be simple. That’s his move and he does it very well. Big couple of shots he hit.”

Harrington finished with two rebounds and an assist and tried to extend the lead but missed a three-pointer and Wittman replaced him with Marcin Gortat. “I thought Al gave us a big lift in the second half. He was panting like a dog out there but we got to continue to get him rounded into shape,” Wittman said of Harrington, who played just 31 seconds the night before against New Orleans as Nene matched his career high with 30 points.

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No. 5: It’s gotta be the shoes for Portland’s Lillard – Portland All-Star point guard Damian Lillard made waves with his busy schedule during All-Star Weekend. There could be more waves on the horizon where he is concerned, courtesy of a budding tug of war over his shoe company. It’s been a while since a battle between shoe giants made noise in the NBA, but Lillard’s story is about to get interesting as Adidas and Nike get ready to tussle over the young star. Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com provides the minutiae:

Lillard, 23, has a profitable rookie shoe endorsement deal with adidas, though that could change abruptly due to clever language in his contract.

Being that he took home the 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year award, became an NBA All-Star and reached other unique incentive clauses in his first two seasons, Lillard will be able to opt out of his shoe contract at the end of the basketball season and either renegotiate a more lucrative deal with adidas, or open negotiations with Nike, Brand Jordan, Reebok or Under Armor, league sources informed CSNNW.com.

Another source that’s vastly briefed on Lillard’s situation added, “There’s no doubt about it, he’s opting out.”

Rival shoe companies have been well-versed on the matter for months and are expected to make competitive offers, but CSNNW.com is told that Nike stands the best chance of luring Lillard away from adidas.

Adidas is in no position to lose their accomplished young standout point guard.

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is currently viewed as the basketball face of adidas. However, his string of knee injuries in addition to the fact that he has only participated in 49 games in three seasons has adidas apprehensive he can remain the company’s headliner.

In 2012, Rose signed a multiyear deal in the upwards of $200 million.

Lillard hasn’t missed a game in his one and half years as a professional and the way in which he carries himself on and off the court is without glitch if a company seeks to market him as the face of a national corporation.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Sunday proved to be a great day/night for quite a few players from around the league. that lists include Kevin DurantJamal CrawfordGoran DragicRudy GayDanny Granger is still MIA for the Sixers on the practice court. The buyout has to be negotiated if he plans on moving on without suiting up in Philly … The Commissioner speaks on openly gay pro athletes … Harvey Araton of The New York Times weighs in on Collins, too, and the impact he can have going forward

ICYMI(s) of The Night: Thomas Robinson showed up and showed out for the Trail Blazers in so many ways …


VIDEO: The Thomas Robinson affair folks

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener, Although The Cash Can Be


VIDEO: Al Harrington gets the steal and finishes with razzle-dazzle

Al Harrington has been paid more than $86 million in his 16 NBA seasons, peaking at $10 million in 2009-10 with the New York Knicks. So from that perspective, it’s hard to second-guess the career that – across seven difference franchises and eight stops – set up Harrington and his family for life, probably for generations to come.

Then again, if Harrington is the one doing the second-guessing, it’s hard to, uh, third-guess that.

Harrington, a preps-to-pros guy who went to Indiana as the 25th pick in the 1998 Draft, spoke recently – and candidly – the other day with Mark Montieth of Pacers.com:

“It’s amazing how fast it went by,” Harrington said before Friday’s game. “I swear, I was just in (the Pacers’) locker room. Everything between then and now is just a blur. The seven years here, I can remember all of that. But from there to here, what the hell happened?”

What happened is that Harrington unwittingly traded seeming stability in Indianapolis for a journeyman’s career that sent him criss-crossing the country in search of what he voluntarily gave up. … Seemingly destined for a reserve role for seasons to come, he asked team president Donnie Walsh for a trade.

To this day, it’s his greatest regret.

Hoping for a trade to Cleveland, where he could have played with LeBron James, Harrington instead wound up in Atlanta. It was the first of his four trades, to go with his free-agent signing with Denver in 2010 and, in August, getting waived for the first time. After Orlando cut him loose, Harrington was picked up 10 days later by Washington. But he has played sparingly due to soreness in the right knee that limited him to 10 games for the Magic in 2012-13.

Between the injury limitations and the Wizards’ stop in Indianapolis for the Thanksgiving holiday – he invited the whole team to his parents’ home there for dinner – Harrington was sounding a little nostalgic.

It’s worth noting that, having played in 25 playoff games by age 24 with the Pacers, Harrington – due to the quality of his teams and injury issues – has appeared in only 23 the past nine seasons. Indiana has played 54 postseason games since Harrington first asked out, and that includes a 2007-2010 drought he might have helped them avoid.

That only fueled the what-if’s in his interview with Montieth:

“It’s one of those things, you don’t know how good you got it until you’re gone,” he said. “This is a consistent organization that always did everything the right way. You kind of take those things for granted. But I didn’t know.

“I tell people all the time, I could have been a lifetime Pacer. I think I had enough people here who liked me, I could have been like Jeff Foster. But I wanted to test my wings and see if they could fly.”

Harrington shouldn’t be too hard on himself. The whole seeking-fame-and-fortune thing is part of what the NBA is about, and if a promising backup isn’t pushing for a starter’s role and salary – think James Harden – then he might not max out his potential as player either. It’s not like he left any championship rings on the table in Indianapolis, either.

As for the money part, Harrington has always found a solid marketplace for his skills and size (6-foot-9) that allowed him to play anywhere on the front line. That has translated to about $36 million more than Foster earned in his 13-year career, all with Indiana.

The 2013-14 Hang Time Redeem Team





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – No one needs reminding of the importance of the 2013-14 NBA season for superstars like Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook and others who are battling their way back from injuries that sidelined them for all or part of last season.

We watch their every move anyway, so when those stars do return, it’ll be an all-eyes-on-them proposition for certain. But for others, guys who have languished in the shadows the past couple of seasons for one reason or another, this season presents an opportunity for redemption as well.

Opportunity abounds for another group of players who comprise Hang Time’s Redeem Team this season, guys who need to leave a mark on 2013-14 in the worst way. Now is the time for these veterans to reclaim their positions in the league, to either resurrect or flat-out save their careers:

Eric Gordon, New Orleans Pelicans

Now that he’s been cleared to crank up his conditioning and do whatever it takes to get into game shape, Gordon is potentially on the road back to the budding young star we saw during his third season in the league with the Los Angeles Clippers (when Gordon averaged 22.2 points and 4.4 assists in 56 games). The injury issues will follow him until he puts together a couple of seasons where he plays as close to 82 regular-season games as possible. But the game moves on without once promising young stars all the time. And Gordon is in the danger zone at this stage of his career. He’s on a team loaded with young talent (All-Star Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Austin Rivers) at the same position. He’s in a now-or-probably-not-here predicament, given his salary and the circumstances.

Greg Oden, Miami Heat

The fact that Oden has come this far in his comeback bid is a victory of sorts for the former No. 1 pick, whose arrival in the league had fans in Portland dreaming of contending for championships one day with a player who promised to be one of the best big men of his generation. Oden has the luxury of not having to rush back for a Heat team that has managed just fine without him the past three seasons. His is more of a personal pilgrimage from being completely out of the league to having a chance to contribute on a team aiming for a three-peat. “My main goal is to be back on the court playing,” Oden told the Sun Sentinel. “But every little thing is just a little step closer to what I want to do. In my head, I’m smiling. I’m back in the routine I’m back out here working out in front of fans.” Whatever the Heat squeeze out of Oden, who is one one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, is a bonus for all involved.

Andrew Bynum, Cleveland Cavaliers

No player on this list has more to gain from a big 2013-14 season than Bynum, who just a couple of seasons ago served the other big man in the argument about who would serve as the challenger to Dwight Howard as the best in the business. Bynum’s stock fell so hard and so fast last season in Philadelphia, when he watched a disastrous season unfold from the sidelines after the Sixers scrapped a playoff team to acquire him and build around him for the future. The Cavs have other issues, obviously, mainly finding out what they have in the No. 1 pick in the June Draft, Anthony Bennett, who has shown some positive flashes in the preseason. Perhaps the greatest motivation for Bynum this seasons will come from another No. 1 pick, Kyrie Irving, who has designs on rising up the ranks this season himself.

Al Harrington, Washington Wizards

Maybe you’ve forgotten just how valuable a piece Harrington has been to playoff outfits throughout his career. He did it in Indiana, Golden State and Denver and the Wizards are hoping he can use some of the lessons he’s learned the past 15 seasons to help John  Wall, Bradley Beal and the rest of an up and coming crew move into the playoff mix. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has mentioned Harrington repeatedly as not only a player who will counted on to provide veteran leadership but also a symbolic figure, a vet with an eye toward reclaiming his career and doing it in a place (Washington) that others view as a team and franchise on the rise. With a fleet of young bigs working hard to get better and injury issues (namely Emeka Okafor), having a stretch-4 with Harrington’s versatility and history will be crucial for the Wizards early on this season.

Andrea Bargnani, New York Knicks

The marriage between this former No. 1 pick (the third player of such ilk on this list) and the city of Toronto broke down early on and was beyond repair by the time the Knicks traded for him over the summer. This second honeymoon in New York won’t obviously won’t last seven years. The Knicks need Bargnani to find his niche now and be a factor on a team with playoff expectations he never experienced with the Raptors. Bargnani’s teammates recognize his skill set and Knicks coach Mike Woodson knows that he has to find ways to exploit Bargnani’s strengths and hide his weaknesses. With his shot and size, and the constantly increasing value for floor spacers in today’s game, Bargnani will surely get several more shots if things don’t work out with the Knicks. But if he’s ready to stop being a punch line, he needs to pounce on the opportunity staring him in the face right now.


Morning Shootaround — March 22

Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.

The one recap to watch: Props to the Kings, who with their win last night over the Timberwolves have won three of their last four and are .500 in March. As nice as it is to see them playing better basketball, we’ve got to obviously go with the Sixers-Nuggets game this morning. Seemly only fitting that with the NCAA Tournament underway that a one-time NCAA hero, Corey Brewer, would be the man stepping up to keep Denver’s win streak in tact. His clutch 3-point shooting down the stretch and his uber-clutch three free throws that won the game for the Nuggets gave a semi-routine NBA game the feel of March Madness. And Brewer’s celebration after the Nuggets salted away the game was more than NCAA-worthy, too.

.

News of the morning

Iguodala ups Nuggets’ defensive trust | Millsap getting over recent benching | Pistons’ Frank: ‘Eyes are always on you’ | Harrington likely done for season

Iggy increases trust factor for NuggetsIn rolling up 14 straight wins to set a franchise record for consecutive NBA wins, the Nuggets have turned up their defense whether they are at home or on the road. That defensive acumen wasn’t apparent during the majority of last night’s game against Philly, but as the Nuggets pulled off a miraculous comeback, the defense (and some fortunate breaks) came through to keep Denver rolling. Benjaman Hochman of The Denver Post has more on that defensive focus and the play of Andre Iguodala, who has spearheaded the charge:

Why do the Nuggets win games they should lose? I can give you a lot of fancy stats about fast-break scoring and improvements in all facets of defense, but the incalculable intangible is that they’re among the league leaders in trust.

“We talk a lot about the word trust,” Nuggets coach George Karl said, “trusting each other, trusting the concepts, trusting the intensity. The word trust has been in our game plans a lot. And I have to trust them, they’ve earned that trust.”

Trust is most important on the defensive end. And for however fun it was watching Allen Iverson and Melo pour in 25-plus a night, there was little trust on defense. Heck, there was little defense. Iverson was so insignificant on defense that occasionally he literally wasn’t even looking at the play (as such, many around the Pepsi Center believe that Denver somehow winning 50 games in 2007-08 was one of the greatest accomplishments in franchise history).

Now, Denver has the opposite of A.I. in, well, A.I.

“I think there’s a confidence that comes with having an Andre (Iguodala) on your defensive end of the court,” Karl said. “And when you can take a major opposing player and kind of control him with one individual, then you don’t need a lot of concepts, you don’t need a lot of tricks and cover-ups and rotations. And for a young team, that’s good, because if we had to gimmick up the game, I don’t know if our young players have done that enough to feel comfortable with it.

“There are a lot of concepts that your partner is supporting you in. you must go and trust that he’s going to be ready for you. And you also have to trust that the weakside defense will support you, so your defensive assignments probably involve more trust.”

Millsap not thrilled over benching in HoustonThe Jazz find themselves 1 1/2 games behind the Lakers for the No. 8 spot in the West, but of late, Utah has struggled. It is 3-7 in March and has lost six of its last eight games, with a mix of blowouts and heartbreakers sprinkled among the defeats. The latest knock came on Wednesday in Houston, where the Rockets won 100-93, but had a double-digit lead most of the night and had their way with the Jazz’s defense. Once the game started spiraling out of control, coach Ty Corbin pulled starters Paul Millsap and Mo Williams for a younger crew that staged a semi-comeback in the fourth quarter. Millsap, as one would expect, wasn’t too thrilled and talked to The Salt Lake Tribune’s Bill Oram about riding the bench against the Rockets:

When Paul Millsap was benched for the entire fourth quarter of a game in late December, he was asked whether the coaching decision upset him.

“What you think?” he responded. “I’ll let you answer that.”

But after being benched for the final 14:47 of the Utah Jazz’s 100-93 loss at Houston on Wednesday, Millsap found himself faced with the same question at Thursday morning’s practice.

“It’s tough for me not to play at all, period,” he said. “I want to be on the court at all times.”

Starting point guard Mo Williams, who also did not play in the fourth quarter, said he was “absolutely” fine with the move.

Millsap, in the final season of a four-year contract with the Jazz, was left on the bench as Derrick Favors closed the game. Favors’ numbers — five points, three rebounds and three blocks in 22 minutes — paled when compared with Millsap’s 16 points, four rebounds and two steals in 25 minutes. However, the burgeoning backup was part of a resurgent unit that cut a 26-point deficit to five against the Rockets. Favors was part of a group that included Al Jefferson, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Marvin Williams that coach Tyrone Corbin praised for a defense that, while it made mistakes, “it wasn’t as many times as the group before.”

Millsap described himself as “positive by nature” but was clearly troubled by the reduced role. He is third on the team in minutes per game at 30.2, and has spent more time on the floor this season than every player with the exception of Jefferson.

But the second-round pick turned franchise cornerstone seemed Thursday resigned to a change.

“Obviously,” he said, “it’s going to be that way. So I got to live with it.”

Detroit’s Frank mindful of futureThe Pistons sport the fourth-worst record in the league and have just 13 games left in what has been a disappointing season. Four players on the roster — Jose Calderon, Jason Maxiell, Will Bynum and Corey Maggette — can become free agents this summer. Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said he’s well aware of the tenuous relationship some of the players have with the team heading into next season and, as he tells MLive.com’s David Mayo, nothing is guaranteed for next season:

“Eyes are always on you,” head coach Lawrence Frank said.  “No one’s going to write it off.  No, no, this is how you evaluate.  We’re evaluating our guys every single day.  That’s how the league is.

Frank hasn’t been back on the job long.  He returned this week from a six-game absence to attend to his wife Susan during and after a major surgery in New Jersey.

But his warnings of careers on the line extended beyond the eight players whose contracts will expire or can be terminated or bought out after this season.

“I look at it as a coach, the job, how we’re playing, that’s reflective of my performance.  As a player, same thing,” Frank said.
The Pistons have plenty to spend in the summer trade and free-agency periods and cleaning up the roster usually is a an accompanying chore.

“To me, there are no guarantees,” Frank said.  “When you’ve won the amount of games that we’ve won, I don’t care who you are, no one should feel safe.  Me as coach, player. … There shouldn’t be a player on the roster with a record like we are who thinks, ‘Oh, I’m here next year.’  Well, we only one ‘X’ amount of games.”

Magic unlikely to have Harrington this seasonVeteran big man Al Harrington will always be a part of Orlando Magic lore as one of the players the team acquired in the Dwight Howard mega-deal of last summer. Since joining the Magic, Harrington has appeared in 10 games with Orlando but hasn’t played since March 15. Although Harrington is healthy, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn plans to run with his younger players down the stretch and Harrington, who still has three years left on his contract, will sit more. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has more:

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn intends to play his young big men — 20-year-old Tobias Harris, 22-year-old Kyle O’Quinn, 22-year-old Nik Vucevic and 23-year-old Andrew Nicholson — as much as possible in the Magic’s final 13 games.

And that won’t leave much, if any, time for Harrington, a 33-year-old veteran.

Harrington hasn’t played in Orlando’s last three games, including Wednesday night’s 106-94 loss to the New York Knicks.

“It’s really nothing to do with his knees,” Vaughn said.

“It’s a coach’s decision. I’ve talked to Al just about the remaining games that we have. He’s helped us in the wins at Philly and New Orleans. He’s proven that he can still play this game at a high level, and I’m going to give the opportunity to play to some of our young guys and give them some experience. I think he has experience at this game a little bit already.”

He probably doesn’t fit into the rebuilding franchise’s long-term plans.

Next season, he’s due to earn about $7.1 million, but only $3.55 million of that is guaranteed. In 2013-14, he’s due to earn $7.6 million, but only $3.8 million of that is guaranteed.

If the Magic were to waive him outright this summer, the team would be required to pay him the guaranteed portions of both seasons.

ICYMI of the night: The Bulls were never really in the game against the Blazers, but at least Nate Robinson provided this Dunk Contest-worthy jam last night …:


Magic Should’ve Done Better In Howard Blockbuster Deal

HANG TIME CHICAGO — The key to success in the NBA these days, we were reminded during The Finals, is to have a Big Three of stars who can shoulder the biggest load, no matter the supporting cast assembled around them. In that sense, the Orlando Magic should do just fine in 2012-13.

Night after night, possession after possession, the Magic will attack all comers by running a classic pick-and-roll with Salary-Cap Space as the primary ballhandler and Future Draft Picks coming out to set a high screen. Depending on how a defense reacts, Salary-Cap Space has the option to hand off, pull up to shoot or attack the rim, with a kickout release to the corner where Fancy New Building will be waiting to launch a 3-ball.

S-CS to FDP to FNB. Your new Orlando Magic heroes.

The first thing to remember, as news of the four-team blockbuster Dwight Howard trade leaked and then gained legitimacy Thursday, was that the Orlando franchise had very little choice. Its centerpiece player wanted out in the worst way. And thanks to his constant diva antics from early in the 2011-12 season right into August, Howard seemed determined to go that route: the worst, as in awkward, unprofessional, even shameful.

Yet as the names began to swirl — a mix of All-Stars and starters and role players, from Andrew Bynum and Andre Iguodala to Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington and Nikola Vucevic — something else became clear: Orlando was screwed and, even given little choice, should have done better.

If anyone has learned anything from recent NBA free-agent history, it is this: Do not fall in love with someone who does not love you back. Rather, trade his ungrateful quitter’s butt ASAP, bite down hard, deal with the pain up front and move on. The Denver Nuggets should have done it with Carmelo Anthony, the Toronto Raptors should have done it with Chris Bosh and, in hindsight, one could argue that the Cleveland Cavaliers even should have done it with LeBron James. Most of all, though, the Magic should have done it with Howard.

Instead, as if to keep a happy veneer on the fleeting fun of All-Star Weekend 2012, Orlando management let things drag on far too long while getting used and misdirected by Howard and his handlers. It squandered the 2011-12 season, agonized through much of this offseason and now is poised to waste several more years, selling youth and development in an arena meant for superstars and banners.

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Report: Howard Goes to Lakers in Four-Team Blockbuster Trade

The Magic appeared on the verge – again – of trading Dwight Howard amid reports Thursday night that a four-team deal that would send Howard to the Lakers and generate a lot of heat for Orlando was set to be completed.

ESPN.com reported that a trade call has been set for Friday morning to finalize the blockbuster that would feature Los Angeles getting the defensive superstar, Philadelphia getting Andrew Bynum from the Lakers and Jason Richardson from the Magic, Denver getting Andre Igoudala from the 76ers, and Orlando getting Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from the Nuggets, Nikola Vucevic and Maurice Harkless from the 76ers.

TNT’s David Aldridge reports that the Magic will also receive a future first-round pick from the Sixers, a 2014 first-round pick from the Nuggets and a 2017 first-round pick from the Lakers. The pick from the Sixers will likely have some type of Lottery protection to it while the pick from the Nuggets is the lower of Denver’s two first-rounders that year. Denver also has New York’s first-round pick from the Carmelo Anthony trade.

If the particulars turn out to be accurate, if Bynum and Igoudala are involved in a deal but neither end up in Orlando, if the best current player the Magic get is Afflalo and the best prospect is the No. 15 pick this year, Harkless, Orlando may get buried in the court of public opinion.

Worth noting, of course, is that the specifics could be different when, and if, the deal is finalized. Also, trades have come close to happening before only to fall apart at the end. But never in the months of the Howard soap opera has a trade call been arranged, a signal that all sides had agreed in principle.

Possible Conclusion To The Dwight Howard Odyssey?

LONDON – The end of the Dwight Howard Odyssey could-could-be over soon for the Orlando Magic.

The team is in serious discussions with the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers about a potential deal that would send Howard to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to the Magic, Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets and Andrew Bynum to the 76ers. Other players and Draft picks would be included in the deal as well, with the possibility that Gasol or could be flipped for additional assets.

In this scenario, first reported Thursday by Yahoo! Sports, forward Al Harrington would go from Denver to the Lakers, and guard Arron Afflalo would go from Denver to the Magic. However, the final version of the deal, if it happens, would certainly involve additional players — or, perhaps, some of these players winding up in different places.

Two sources said Thursday that this deal could happen, although with so many teams and so many moving parts, the potential for the deal collapsing is ever-present. Another source had indicated to NBA.com earlier in the week that a “blockbuster” deal was on hold because at least two of the teams involved did not want to move forward.

Orlando, however, is determined to end the Howard saga as soon as possible — provided it gets what it wants. It has been adamant that it wants a combination of future picks, young players with short or otherwise reasonable contracts and the removal of some of their its contracts in exchange for Howard.

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Report: Howard To Lakers In Mega-Deal?





A four-way mega-trade that, once and for all (well, for a while), ends our long, national Dwightmare? Or just more smoke and speculation?

It’s hard to tell but the four-team trade that has been discussed, according to Yahoo! Sports, to move Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers packs both intrigue and the prospect of all four participants – L.A., Denver, Philadelphia and Orlando – gaining something worthwhile. Or salvaging something, anyway.

Here are the broad strokes of a deal that “is not considered imminent, but the talks have grown serious over the course of this week,” wrote Adrian Wojnarowski, citing unnamed sources:

  • Howard and Denver forward Al Harrington would go to the Lakers.
  • Philadelphia guard Andre Iguodala would become a Nugget.
  • Lakers center Andrew Bynum would join the Sixers (who would try to entice him to stay beyond the final season on his contract).
  • Lakers forward Pau Gasol and Denver guard Arron Afflalo would head to Orlando. The Magic also would get draft picks in the package and salary-cap relief.

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The Nuggets Fight Back





DENVER – Never mind what Al Harrington looked like in the locker room as the swelling set in on his newly fractured nose and the disappointment set in that he will probably need to wear a mask in Game 4. It was the Nuggets who bashed the Lakers in the face Friday night.

Denver got the start coach George Karl had wanted but didn’t get in two tries in Los Angeles, the energy rush of a 30-14 lead after 12 minutes that fed the raucous Pepsi Center crowd. Karl changed the lineup, inserting Timofey Mozgov for Kosta Koufos at center in hopes of more of a physical presence against Andrew Bynum, and most of the roster changed the opening statement.

The Nuggets felt all along they could play with the Lakers if not for some bad starts, especially in Game 1, and now they had proved it. They were the aggressors, not the opponent that had a chance to take an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, and they were the team that set the tone most of the night that led to a 99-84 victory.

“It was huge,” Denver point guard Ty Lawson said of the first quarter. “Every game we played we played with the Lakers, we were down. We were down early, we were down big, we were always trying to fight back into the game. We made a point that we wanted to come out early and see how they did with a deficit. They reacted kind of well to it. We held on.”

Which made the win even more valuable. The Nuggets didn’t just get off to a good start. They had a big finish as well with a 27-19 advantage in the final quarter to hold off the playoff-tested Lakers. Denver, although shooting 34 percent in the second half, committed just three turnovers those final 24 minutes.

“Their energy was really big for them,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said.

Game 4 is Sunday night, and Harrington said he will play “for sure,” after getting nailed by an inadvertent elbow from Bynum. The series then shifts back to Los Angeles for Game 5 on Tuesday.

Film Study: Denver’s No-Star Offense

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU – The Denver Nuggets, sans superstar, have the second-best offense in the NBA.

Through Friday, the Nuggets rank second in offensive efficiency, scoring 105.9 points per 100 possessions, a hair less than the three-star offense in Miami, a shade more than the two-star offense in Oklahoma City, and miles ahead of their former franchise player’s offense in New York.

The Nuggets are efficient even though they don’t give themselves a lot of second-chance opportunities (ranking 27th in offensive rebounding percentage) and even though they don’t take care of the ball all that well (ranking 19th in turnover ratio).

What the Nuggets do do very well is shoot the ball and get to the line.

Top five offenses, through Friday

Team OffRtg eFG% Rank OREB% Rank TO% Rank FTA Rate Rank
Miami 106.3 52.3% 2 25.1% 20 16.3 20 .343 4
Denver 105.9 52.5% 1 23.4% 27 16.3 19 .354 2
Oklahoma City 105.2 51.3% 3 25.9% 17 17.7 29 .361 1
Chicago 104.7 49.4% 11 31.4% 1 15.4 8 .276 15
L.A. Clippers 104.1 50.8% 4 26.5% 14 14.6 4 .320 7

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
eFG% = Effective field goal percentage = (FGM + (3PM*0.5))/FGA
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
FTA Rate = FTA/FGA

The numbers above indicate that both the Heat and Thunder have similar offensive profiles as the Nuggets. But when we look at how and where the Nuggets’ shots are coming from, we really see just how unique they are.

It all starts with transition.

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