Posts Tagged ‘Austin Daye’

Small Markets Scrap For Success

memphis-fans

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – When a couple small-market Western Conference teams battled for seven grueling games in the semifinals of the playoffs two years ago, who could have foreseen that they would meet again this postseason — after each was forced to deal with the inescapable repercussions of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement?

Rudy Gay was injured and out of that postseason two years ago. But at only 24 and locked into a lucrative contract, the No. 8 pick of the 2006 NBA Draft was a central figure for the fast-rising Memphis Grizzlies. Yet on Jan. 30, 2013, Gay, the team’s leading scorer, was traded to Toronto.

In Oklahoma City, the Thunder were coming off a loss to the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals when, days before this season began, Thunder general manager Sam Presti dealt former No. 3 pick James Harden, just 23 and an integral part of the team’s success, to Houston.

In a postseason marked by a surprising domination of small-market teams — all four teams remaining in the playoffs are in the bottom half of the league in market size — the second-round showdown between the Grizzlies and Thunder (won by the Grizzlies in five games) demonstrated just what many teams have to do to thrive in the era of the still-new CBA.

“With the rules set up the way they are, there’s minimal room for error,” said Jason Levien, the first-year CEO of the Grizzlies under a new ownership group led by one of the world’s youngest tech billionaires, Robert Pera. “You’ve got to be very thoughtful in your approach to how you build your team, how you build a roster, and you’ve got to keep the cap and the tax in mind.”

.

Avoiding the taxes

Cap and tax are at the forefront of the strategy the Oklahoma City management team is using under the ownership of billionaire energy mogul Clay Bennett. Presti, who has managed to re-sign superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, plus emerging power forward Serge Ibaka, to long-term deals that fit within the team’s cap structure, chose to hold firm to a policy of not commenting on matters related to the CBA.

In Memphis, where the Grizzlies will look to start digging out of a 2-0 hole against the San Antonio Spurs in Saturday’s Game 3 of the West finals (9 p.m., ESPN), Levien has defended the trade of Gay (for veteran small forward Tayshaun Prince and youngsters Ed Davis and Austin Daye) as being made to improve the team.

While that might be true — Memphis won a franchise-best 56 games after a strong start with Gay — the Grizzlies also got out of the $37.2 million owed to Gay over the next two seasons. Memphis will pay Prince, Davis and Daye a combined $26 million over that span ($22 million if Daye is not retained beyond next season). With Zach RandolphMarc Gasol and Mike Conley owed a combined $40.9 million next season, keeping Gay and a payroll under the tax line (this season it was $70.3 million) would have been a near-impossibility. (more…)

Prince: Grizz’s 2011 Playoff Run Without Gay Aided Transition

DALLAS – Want to know why teammates respect and admire Tayshaun Prince? Traded from the Detroit Pistons, the franchise he loyally clung to through the lean, post-championship years, he’s now just days away from beginning his first postseason since 2009 with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Is he excited to be back in the playoffs?

“I am excited,” Prince said after scoring a dozen points in the Grizzlies’ 103-97 win Monday against the Mavericks. “I’m more excited for Ed Davis, and I’m more excited for Austin Daye. Austin’s been with me for four years now. He was with me in the tough days in Detroit. I’m excited for those guys.”

For the third-year Davis and the fourth-year Daye, it will be their first forays beyond the regular season.

Prince, 33, an integral member of the 2004 champion Pistons, is one of the league’s most unassuming, thoughtful and grounded players. He goes to work and gives all he has to give, then does it again the next day and the next day. His 10-year run in Detroit ended in late January with a three-way trade. Memphis dealt the still quite youthful Rudy Gay to Toronto and Davis landed in Memphis along with the veteran Prince and his Pistons teammate Daye.

“I’m one of the last guys in this league that would let something affect me if somebody said why would they trade for an old, veteran guy and this and that,” said Prince, who acknowledged that the deal did take him by surprise. “I don’t care what people say about me. I have fun with it, I roll with it, it doesn’t bother me. At the end of the day, we’ve got some good pieces.”

From a personality standpoint, the old veteran and his new, rather old-fashioned, grind-it-out team have been a near-perfect match with their blue collars raised proudly.

“I love Tayshaun,” Grizzlies center Marc Gasol said. “I love the way he plays, I love what he brings to the team, I love his leadership and the way he approaches the game of basketball.”

And Grizzlies fans have to be relieved and pleased with what they’ve seen after initial apprehension to Memphis’ new ownership group breaking up the long-held core of Gay, Gasol, Zach RandolphMike Conley and Tony Allen before they could make a playoff run as a fully healthy unit.

Last year, Randolph was gimpy into the playoffs following a knee injury, and reserve forward Darrell Arthur missed the entire season. The Grizzlies blew Games 1 and 7 on their home floor and bowed out to the Clippers in the first round. The year before, Gay missed the playoffs with a shoulder injury that required surgery. Without him, the Grizzlies upset top-seeded San Antonio in the first round and took Oklahoma City to seven games in the second round.

Prince suggested that the 2011 run has actually helped boost this team’s confidence as they’ve meshed since the trade. They’ve reeled off 26 wins in 37 games and at 55-26, the Grizzlies have won the most games in a season in the franchise’s history.

“If you really look at it, that’s what made them the team they are. They found out they can play without him,” Prince said, referring to Gay’s playoff absence. “They found out that, ‘Hey, we can still compete at a high level because of the toughness, the team, the camaraderie.’

“So when they traded for me, I believe they were down when the trade first happened because they played with Rudy for so long and they were familiar with him. But I think after a few games, they were like, ‘You know what, we had a while where we didn’t play with Rudy and things were working out well for us. This may not be a bad idea; hey, this might work.’ At the end of the day, it’s all about competing and having fun. These guys are really tough-minded guys.

“Hopefully we’ll have a good chance at doing something special.”

Marc Gasol Holds Open Door To St. Jude

.

This week, The V Foundation for Cancer Research and ESPN are teaming up with the NBA and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the fight against pediatric cancer by raising awareness and funds to support lifesaving work for children.

Continuing through March 4, the NBA family – led by Hoops for St. Jude ambassadors – will engage fans through this unique relationship, designed to advance cancer research and patient care benefitting children and families battling pediatric cancer.  One hundred percent of donations to The V Foundation from this campaign will go directly toward cancer research benefitting St. Jude patients. Together they form a powerful force in pediatric cancer research.

March 4 marks the 20th anniversary of The V Foundation, which was founded in 1993 by ESPN and legendary N.C. State basketball coach and ESPN commentator, the late Jim Valvano.  As a cancer patient, Valvano worked to eradicate the disease by championing investment in promising young cancer researchers. To date, The V Foundation has helped carry his dream forward by awarding more than $100-million in cancer research grants.  This new endeavor will allow the organizations to work together to help make the shared vision of a world free of pediatric cancer a reality.

St. Jude treats some of the toughest cases of children battling cancer and no family ever pays St. Jude for anything.

Center Marc Gasol of the Grizzlies has been a strong supporter of St. Jude since his arrival in Memphis in 2008 and this year has become an official St. Jude Ambassador along with NBA players and coaches Pau Gasol, David Lee, Kevin Love, Lionel Hollins, and George Karl.

After a recent visit to St. Jude, Marc Gasol shared his thoughts on the program:

Question: What made you want to get involved and become a St. Jude Ambassador?

Answer: That’s easy. The kids. To be able to walk through those doors, be able to spend time with them and play with them is one of the best parts of my life. I think I’m very lucky to live here in Memphis where I can get to St. Jude often. It’s a place where you maybe think at first that you’re going to cheer them up by playing with them. But what I find is that they play with me and it makes me happy. One day we might read a book or do drawings. Another day it’s making cupcakes with different toppings. We even have tea parties and, yeah, I get right down there at the those little tables. Sometimes I get to hear the older kids tell their stories. All the time I spend with them is very special.

Q: Has there been an influence from your family?

A: My Mom is a doctor. My father was a nurse administrator in Spain. Pau went to medical school before he focused on a career in basketball. So there has always been a tie to the medical community and an awareness that there was work to be done and opportunities for everyone to do their part. I believe our parents gave Pau and me a great education and a sense of how the real world is. They have never pushed us to do anything, whether it was basketball or our studies. But if we chose something, they have always encouraged us to make a full commitment. Sure, our family has been touched by cancer, like most families. My grandfather and my aunt both passed away from cancer. But that is not the reason for my interest or involvement. I just like to like to be with the kids and to help them and get the message across the world. Any research or discoveries at St. Jude are spread to hospitals everywhere. We have similar research hospitals in Spain and they all share information, discoveries, treatments. I also like to stress that once a child and their family comes through the doors of St. Jude they do not have to worry about money. No one ever pays. It’s only about taking care of the kids. When you see what that means to families who come here, you understand how special this is to so many people.

Q: What was your first visit to St. Jude like and how have the visits affected you personally?

A: I was only about 17 or 18 the first time that I came out with Pau. I can’t say that I have a specific memory of one thing or one person, but what stays with me is that the first time you come through those doors you get a sense of hope and happiness. Of course, when anyone moves to Memphis I think your awareness goes up and it becomes a bigger part of you. You learn and you find out what makes St. Jude different. It’s not a hospital. At least, not the way that you usually think of a hospital. You come here and you see happiness and colors and kids playing and learning and teaching each other. You see a place that is filled with smiles and hope. It’s a place of fun.

Q: What is the reaction of your teammates and fellow NBA players to what you do for St. Jude?

A: I’m not pushy. I don’t try to convince people. I’ll recruit if I have to. But I think once players do come, you don’t have to convince anyone. I tell them how they can help, what they can do. I just had a visit with some of the new guys on our team — Austin Daye, Ed Davis, Dexter Pittman, Jon Leuer – and it always has an effect.

Q: Do you have favorite memories of your St. Jude experiences?

A: I have a lot of memories. I been here living in Memphis now five years. Sadly, some of those memories are of kids who are not here anymore, times when there are not happy endings. But I’ve had those relationships with them and the relationships and experiences will never go away. I’ve had so many experiences of watching kids get better. A lot of them are basketball fans and they love to watch our games and give us their opinions on how we do. We played in Brooklyn the other night and won and a lot of them watched on TV. We had a halftime segment with Coach Hollins that we did at St. Jude. They loved that. They loved seeing themselves. It’s just great to see them so excited, so happy.

Q: What is the message you want to get out from this campaign?

A: The message should be St. Jude. It’s a place of hope. Anything is possible and we need your help. You and your entire family. For the kids.

Visit www.stjude.org/hoops or www.jimmyv.org/nba or text HOPE to 50333 or JIMMYV to 80888 to make a $10 donation today and help create a world free of pediatric cancer.

Singler Belatedly Joins Pistons





ORLANDO — Better late than never. More than a year after the Pistons made him the 33rd pick in the 2011 draft, Kyle Singler signed an NBA contract.

“We are pleased to have Kyle Singler join our organization knowing he brings great character and skill to our team,” Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said in a statement.

Of course, the Pistons weren’t quite so pleased when Singler chose to remain in Europe rather than join the club last December when the lockout ended.

“I know there probably weren’t the best of feelings at the time,” Singler said Wednesday after this third outing in the AirTran Orlando Pro Summer League. “That’s understandable. But I did what I thought was best for me at the time.”

The Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four when Duke won the 2010 NCAA championship, Singler originally signed on to the play for Lucentum Alicante in Spain and then moved up to play for Real Madrid, one of the top clubs in Europe. He averaged 7.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 20.3 minutes in 46 games and shot 50.4 percent from the field for Real Madrid and shot over 40 percent from 3-point range.

(more…)

2009 Draft, Revisited

***

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – So, DeMarcus Cousins is involved in another snit? And this is news, how? Everyone knew Cousins was maturity-challenged when the 2010 draft arrived, and yet the Kings took him anyway because it’s hard to find 6-11 players with soft hands and decent footwork. They figured they’d just ride out the emotional bumps, which were sure to come, and hope he’ll figure it out before it’s time to extend his contract.

But while it might be fashionable today to dismiss Cousins as a permanent head case, it’s best to take a wait and see approach. It’s too early to tell if the Kings made a draft mistake. The 2009 draft, however, is a different deal. The results are slowly pouring in and we have a fairly decent idea who screwed up and who didn’t.

Here’s a Hang Time take on the first 15 picks, in retro:

1. Blake Griffin, Clippers: No-brainer pick is the only All-Star of the bunch so far.

2. Hasheem Thabeet, Grizzlies: He’s already on his second team — or third, if you count the D-League stint. Sometimes when you reach for a raw 7-footer, you end up with a raw 7-footer.

3. James Harden, Thunder: Sharp shooter was a nice pickup by Sam Presti, although others drafted lower might wind up better in the long run.

4. Tyreke Evans, Kings. Hasn’t he regressed since his rookie year? Is that due to coaching, or is Tyreke just going to be an OK player?

5. Ricky Rubio, Wolves: Ding. Ding. He might save David Kahn‘s job.

(more…)

Labor Talks: Finger-Pointing Season

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If you thought October was filled with empty rhetoric from both sides and nastiness that prevents progress in the NBA’s lockout saga, wait until you get a load of the new narrative.

The only thing worse than yet another breakdown in lockout negotiations is the incessant finger-pointing that kicked off in earnest on what should have been the opening night of the season.

And it’s open season on any and everyone connected.

(more…)

Would Bad Boys Make Pistons Good?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Nothing warms the cockles of a Piston fan’s heart more than the memory of an Isiah Thomas jump-shot dagger or a Bill Laimbeer cheap-shot forearm to the back of a head.

Perhaps nothing would rekindle interest in the team and put fans back into the seats at The Palace than a return to the Bad Boys’ attitude as new owner Tom Gores plans to make the first significant hire of his regime. But how long would the Bad Boys II really go to resurrecting the once-proud franchise?

It’s an interesting debate that’s currently taking place in the Motor City and it has a pair of long-time, well-respected columnists from The Detroit News on opposite sides of the fence.

Terry Foster is in favor if rekindling the old spark with the likes of Isiah or Laimbeer:

This Pistons job will be a tough one because a lot of buffoonery is left behind and can no longer be tolerated. New owner Tom Gores talked about being tougher, and that starts in the dressing room.

Players were allowed to run roughshod over John Kuester. They could do as they pleased and say what they wanted. They didn’t seem to care.

(more…)

The Pistons’ Player Revolt

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Things have gone from bad to worse for the Detroit Pistons after Thursday’s trade deadline.

Several Pistons missed this morning’s shootaround practice in Philadelphia in some sort of “player protest” against coach John Kuester, per the Detroit Free Press.

Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Chris Wilcox all missed the shootaround. But that’s just the start. More from the Vince Ellis of the Free Press:

Team spokesman Cletus Lewis said Rodney Stuckey and Austin Daye missed the team bus as well, but they did arrive toward the end of the media session.

Lewis said McGrady had a headache, Prince had an upset stomach and Hamilton and Wilcox missed the bus from the team hotel.

Ben Wallace also missed the shootaround. Lewis said Wallace was dealing with a family matter. Wallace has missed games and practices over the past month because of the issue.

Only Greg Monroe, Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell and DaJuan Summers were full participants in the morning shootaround.

Sources indicated that the discontent is directed at Pistons coach John Kuester, who has clashed with players repeatedly this season. The organization downplayed the absences, insisting Prince and McGrady were ill.

One source, who asked not to be identified, said he didn’t know what the next step would be, and didn’t say who organized the absences. But he said it was an organized protest, with some players deciding it was best to show up anyway.

Has it come to this for the Pistons?

Have things really gotten this bad for this Kuester, who said he will go with whoever is available for tonight’s game against the Sixers?

Maybe the players thought there was going to be some mass exodus at the trade deadline. And when that didn’t happen, they decided to take matters into their own hands.

Either way, this is a disastrous start to the stretch run of the season for a Pistons team that certainly didn’t need any more distractions.

Daye-ja Vu

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – No strangers to slender frontcourt starters in recent years, the Detroit Pistons are taking it a step further this year with the announcement that second-year man Austin Daye will start at power forward.

That means the 6-foot-11, 200-pound Daye will work alongside Tayshaun Prince, who outweighs him by roughly 15 pounds. Starting these two with Ben Wallace in his prime might not have seemed like basketball red flag for opposing teams when they attack the rim. But just thinking about the Pistons’ frontline trying to hold up against some of the larger groups around the league — Boston, Los Angeles, Orlando, etc. — makes you shake your head.

No one is questioning Daye’s offensive prowess. But just like Prince found out a couple of years ago, working every night at power forward is much tougher on the body than playing small forward. And when you don’t have as much body to work with, well … it makes things even tougher:

Hang Time Videos

Jon the Intern here with this week’s random video round-up from the team sites…

Over in Phoenix, Jess the Intern (no relation) was given the task of counting the number of high fives Suns’ point guard Steve Nash gave out on a nightly basis. Take a look as Nash’s coaches and teammates try to guess how many fives he gives out a game:

Divide Nash’s 239 high fives by the nine players on the Suns roster who average more than 10 minutes a game and that’s 26.5 high fives, per person, per game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Grant Hill rocking the latex gloves for the rest of the season.

***

In Houston, small forward Shane Battier has a new favorite pastime: He’s picking up a mic. Kobe did it and so did Shaq, but I’m not sure if MC Shane will be cutting a record deal anytime soon. Check him out in action below:

In Detroit, the Pistons have given Rookie guard Austin Daye his own video series, entitled “Daye Walking,” which is modeled after Jay Leno‘s “Jay Walking” segment from The Tonight Show. The premise is simple — Daye walks around and asks random folks simple, general knowledge questions. But it usually doesn’t go well for the participants. Take a look at episode 3: