Posts Tagged ‘Bismack Biyombo’

Talking numbers with Steve Clifford


VIDEO: Hang Time with Lance Stephenson

PHILADELPHIA – The Charlotte Bobcats were one of the most improved teams in the league last season. No team improved in defensive efficiency more than the Bobcats, who allowed 7.8 fewer points per 100 possessions in 2013-14 than they did in ’12-13. Their change in point differential (plus-10.7 points per 100 possessions) was just a hair behind that of the Phoenix Suns.

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Offensively, the Bobcats started out horribly but improved every month. They ranked 29th in efficiency in October-November and 13th in March-April.

Head coach Steve Clifford deserves most of the credit for the defense. The Bobcats had nowhere to go but up after ranking dead last in defensive efficiency each of the previous two seasons, but they became just the second team in the last 16 years (the ’02-03 Nuggets were the other) to jump from the bottom five to the top 10 on that end of the floor.

The Bobcats are now the Hornets, and they now have Lance Stephenson. They’ve also swapped Josh McRoberts for Marvin Williams at power forward. Both of those moves could change their offense quite dramatically.

NBA.com spoke with Clifford on Wednesday about his team’s numbers, the addition of Stephenson, the importance of floor spacing, and managing his time as a head coach.

(Most of the questions were asked in a one-on-one setting after Charlotte’s shootaround on Wednesday, while a few follow-ups came in Clifford’s pre-game media scrum before the Hornets’ preseason opener against the Sixers.)

An aside: During the pre-game scrum, as Clifford was talking about the departure of McRoberts, Al Jefferson walked by, heading toward the Hornets’ locker room. When Clifford saw Jefferson, he cut off his own, unrelated sentence to say, “and that’s why we got to get the ball to the big fella.” Jefferson called back, “My man! That’s why you’re the best coach in the game!”

Offense

NBA.com: Last year, your team ranked high in ball-movement stats (passes/possession). Do you see Lance affecting that?

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Steve Clifford: I think so, because watching him on film from last year and also being around him since the beginning of September, his pick-and-roll game … he can score it, but he also hits every option. He hits the roll man a lot. There aren’t that many guys that can hit the roll man, make a shot and also hit the other perimeter players. So I think that will be part of it.

The other part of that, maybe, is that we post the ball a lot more than most teams do, and post-up basketball takes usually more passes, because you got to find a way to get the ball there.

NBA.com: Have you put in new staff for Lance specifically?

Clifford: We’re starting to, now. A week in, we’ve just concentrated on those kinds of things, ball movement, secondary offense when the play breaks down, stuff like that for early in camp. We’re starting now to get more sets in.

NBA.com: What’s the biggest advantage to having a second guy who can create off the dribble?

Clifford: I think it just puts so much more pressure on the defense. When you have more guys on the floor who can play in a pick-and-roll or are good at drive-and-kick or whatever, if you get an advantage on one side of the floor with a pick-and-roll and the ball moves to the other side, the defense is just more spread out. There’s more room to attack.

NBA.com: Last season, your offense got considerably better as the season went on. What was the key to that?

Clifford: Part of it, to be honest, was we made a really good trade, where we picked up Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour. And then we signed Chris Douglas-Roberts as a free agent. If you look at it, where our offense got a lot better was we shot more threes. We didn’t shoot a significantly better percentage, but we shot like 5 1/2 more threes per game. People don’t realize that how many threes you shoot is a big deal, too.

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Also, our offensive rebounding numbers went way up. And that was basically Cody [Zeller], MKG [Michael Kidd-Gilchrist] and Biz [Bismack Biyombo]. Over the last third of the year, we scored almost two points more per game on offensive rebounds. And there were some other smaller things, but those were the two biggest things.

NBA.com: Was the increase in 3-point shots something you were looking for, or was it a benefit of the new additions?

Clifford: I just think if you study the league and what wins, the three things that yield over a point per possession the last, I think, nine years are … the best possession is if you get fouled, the second best possession is 0-3 feet, and the third best possession is a three, in particular the corner threes.

It’s every aspect of offense, but in this league, your shooting is your spacing. That’s why I think Marvin was such a key signing for us. You can see it in practice. There’s a lot more room for all the other guys when he’s out on the floor vs. the other four men. And Cody’s improved shooting has improved our offense too.

So there’s different ways you can do it. But you got to have shooting. Look at San Antonio. Look at The Finals. If you can’t shoot, you’re not out there. In Orlando, the two great years we had … we had four good years, but the two great years we had, we literally never played anybody, besides Dwight [Howard], who couldn’t shoot threes. And it’s hard to guard.

McRoberts vs. Williams and MKG’s new J

NBA.com: But does the ball movement suffer without Josh McRoberts?

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Clifford: It’s different from the standpoint that Josh, No. 1, shot a decent percentage from three, but it’s not his game. It’s not how he naturally wants to play. Josh more wants to drive the ball, so we didn’t have that spacing on the floor, as good as he was. He’s more of a driver and a passer, where Marvin is a spot-up shooter. So what I’m hopeful of is he will create as much offense in a different way.

NBA.com: Going back to “If you can’t shoot, you’re not out there,” how much has Michael Kidd-Gilchrist increased his value to you or raised his ceiling just with the work he’s done on his jump shot this summer?

Clifford: I want to make sure [to clarify], I think if you can’t shoot, it’s tougher to play in those games. If you look at it, there’s really nobody out there that couldn’t shoot.

Now, I think that he, potentially, has changed his future in this league, with the work that he did with Mark [Price]. He’s one of the few guys that has real value for a team, even when he wasn’t shooting, because he’s an elite defender. To me, he has instincts, both in individual and team defense, that not many guys possess. So he has the ability to guard the best scorers and make it hard on them. Not many guys can do that. But this, to me, potentially changes his whole future.

NBA.com: Defenses are still going to challenge him, though.

Clifford: Absolutely. The other challenge, and he knows this, it may be 60 games, it might be a year, because these guys play one way their whole life. The biggest part of the game is when the ball’s coming to you, shoot-drive-pass and how quick you do it. And he’s always driven it or passed it. Now, he’s got to, when he’s open, be able to shoot it, and do it without hesitation.

And that’s going to take time. You can’t play one way for 21 years and then all of a sudden work hard over the summer to add this component to your game, and then have your decision-making be easy. The only thing I know is that when he didn’t play last year, we weren’t nearly as good. He’s a good player no matter what.

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Balance and priorities as a head coach

NBA.com: Do you put more emphasis on offense in camp, knowing that you already have a top-10 defense, or do you feel like you still have to start with the D?

Clifford: We’ve actually done a lot more offense, but since we came back from Asheville, the last three or four days, we’ve really gotten back to defense. Obviously, you can’t take anything for granted. We’ll have two new starters. We worked hard at our defense last year. We’ll have to do the same if we’re going to play that well again.

NBA.com: Is there enough time to do everything you want, both offensively and defensively, in camp?

Clifford: Never.

NBA.com: You always have to make sacrifices somewhere, right?

Clifford: That’s coaching. You never feel like you’re spending enough time on everything. Those are the choices you have to make. I’m fortunate I have such a veteran staff. We talk every morning about what are the most important two or three things for today, because ultimately, you can’t be good at everything. You got to be sure you’re zeroed in on the right things for your team to play well.

NBA.com: How much can you add in as the season goes on?

Clifford: Quite a bit, especially if you have the veteran teams who’ve been around and done a few things. Last year, we added a lot of offense as we went along. We didn’t mess around a lot with our defense.

NBA.com: What did you learn from your first season as head coach?

Clifford: The time management part of being a head coach vs. being an assistant is much different. That was one thing that I struggled with last year.

NBA.com: In what way?

Clifford: Things seem to pop up all the time. So you get to late afternoon and you had those three or four things that you needed to do, this film, that film, whatever. And man, it seems like some days, you get to like 4:00 and you haven’t done any of it.

And then, I feel like I have more of a comfort level. Last year, I always felt like I was swimming upstream, always behind. I think I’m more organized this year, simply because I have a way to do it on game day that I’m comfortable with. And again, I have such an experienced staff, I rely on them so much and they help me a lot. That helps in all those areas too.

Clifford’s assistant coaches: Patrick Ewing, Stephen Silas, Bob Weiss, Mark Price and Pat Delany.

NBA.com: Is there a balance between working on strategy and managing the players and their personalities?

Clifford: Definitely. To me, that [managing the personalities] is the priority.

NBA.com: So some of that film work might take a back seat to making sure you’re on the same page with one of your guys?

Clifford: Absolutely. I would say that the communication piece, so that we’re all trying to be on the same page and knowing roles and all that stuff, that’s always the priority.

Biyombo Experiment Takes A Bad Turn

Bismack Biyombo has seen his minutes shrink under new coach Steve Clifford. (Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Bismack Biyombo has seen his minutes shrink under new coach Steve Clifford. (Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Bismack Biyombo Project, good theater anyway, just got more interesting. Or more tenuous. Or more telling about new coach Steve Clifford.

It certainly just got better for Jeff Adrien, the relative unknown taking the minutes at backup center in another positive development for the Bobcats in a 7-8 start, except that it’s also a hit for the Bobcats: Biyombo, once projected in Charlotte to be part of the foundation of the future, is now officially regressing, out of the rotation for the first time in the two-plus seasons since the risk pick at No. 7 in the 2011 draft.

In the five games before starter Al Jefferson returned from a bruised right ankle, as Rick Bonnell noted in the Charlotte Observer, Adrien was a plus-24, Biyombo was a minus-38, and Clifford was convinced. The rookie coach made his move once Jefferson was back in the lineup last Friday, supposed plans for tomorrow be damned.

In the three games since, Adrien has played 48 minutes, an average of 16 per outing. Biyombo has played five. Total. The dreaded Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision against the Suns, five in Milwaukee the next night and another DNP-CD when the Celtics visited Time Warner Cable Arena.

Biyombo out of the rotation is a significant development after the rookie season of 23.1 minutes while playing in 63 of the 66 games and the 27.3 minutes with 80 appearances last season, but more after the bold move by the Michael Jordan front office to take Biyombo out of Spain in 2011 despite league-wide concerns. Biyombo clearly had a very high ceiling then as an athletic marvel at 6-feet-8 and 225 pounds and with what some teams saw as the potential to be a game-changer on defense and the boards. But he was very raw – maybe more than any lottery pick in years – had a limited body of work against the top competition in Europe and a nonexistent offensive game.

The Bobcats, while keeping their own spot at No. 9 to take Kemba Walker in a choice that went well in a lottery filled with pot holes, added the seventh selection as part of a three-team deal with the Bucks and Kings at the cost of Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston and No. 19. Biyombo arrived with the pre-draft promise to one day lead the league in rebounding, but as the ultimate project requiring patience and playing time.

He got both. He even got his 2014-15 option picked up before the season. But Charlotte also invested heavily in its big-man rotation in the summer, landing Jefferson as a free agent and Cody Zeller as the fourth pick in the draft. Clifford took over as coach.

And then it took a few weeks for Adrien to pass Biyombo.

“Jeff Adrien did so well – and I told Biz this – that I couldn’t not give him a chance to play more,” Clifford told the Observer.

“These are facts and numbers, not a feel. If you look at plus-minus in those games when (Adrien) played, we played so well as a group. His plus-minus was so good I would have felt guilty with the guys if I didn’t give him a chance.”

Adrien has responded with double-digit rebounds in two of the last four games, pushing him to 6.4 boards in 20.3 minutes the last five outings. Biyombo has responded by promising to stay focused.

“I’ve got to control what I can control,” Biyombo said. “It’s obvious I believe that I can be a better player. I’ve just got to keep positive, keep working and be there for my teammates. There’s a long way to go. The season is just getting started, so you’ve got to learn from all this.”

One Team, One Stat: Bobcats Rookies Brought Defense To The Table

From Media Day until opening night, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann will provide a key stat for each team in the league and show you, with film and analysis, why it matters. The order will be worst to first, which means that the Charlotte Bobcats — who finished with the league’s worst point differential last season — lead off.

The basics
CHA Rank
W-L 21-61 29
Pace 94.0 16
OffRtg 98.3 28
DefRtg 108.9 30
NetRtg -10.6 30

The stat

99.8 - Points per 100 possessions allowed by the Bobcats in 590 minutes with rookies Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor on the floor together.

The context

Overall, the Bobcats’ defense was terrible. They ranked last in defensive efficiency (see the table on the right), allowing 108.9 points per 100 possessions. But the mark with the two rookies on the floor was that of a top-five defense. Considering that rookies are usually defensive liabilities, it’s pretty remarkable. Both guys are long and active, with good instincts.

Here are a few examples of MKG’s and Taylor’s defensive prowess…


The contributions of Brendan Haywood shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s a proven defensive center* who was on the floor for 246 of those 590 minutes. Charlotte was a plus-10 and allowed a paltry 91.2 points per 100 possessions in those 246 minutes with their three best defenders on the floor.

*The Mavs’ defense regressed more when they went from Haywood to Chris Kaman at starting center last year than when they went from Tyson Chandler to Haywood the year before.

Of the 14 Bobcats who logged at least 300 minutes last season, Haywood had the lowest on-court defensive rating. Charlotte allowed 5.7 fewer points per 100 possessions with Haywood on the floor than they did with him on the bench.

So, with the Bobcats’ defense in mind, there are a couple of interesting questions regarding Steve Clifford‘s rotation this season…

1. How much playing time will Haywood get? Al Jefferson is the starting center and was a necessary addition to kick-start an offense that was barely better than the defense last season. But Jefferson is a defensive liability, so the Bobcats will continue to struggle on that end if he takes most of Haywood’s minutes. Jefferson and Haywood could only play together against other big lineups, and if Haywood is the backup center, does that mean that Cody Zeller is a power forward and/or that Charlotte has given up on Bismack Biyombo?

2. Will Kidd-Gilchrist and Taylor play together much? A lot of their minutes together came in games that either Gerald Henderson or Ben Gordon missed. If everybody’s healthy, Gordon will back up Henderson and Taylor will likely back up MKG. Taylor might make a decent small-ball four, but that takes away playing time from Zeller, Josh McRoberts (who was pretty good for the Bobcats at the end of last season) and Anthony Tolliver (a solid glue guy).

The Bobcats were the worst team in the league last season and still have one of the weakest rosters, but they strangely might have too much depth at certain positions. If injuries don’t make certain decisions for him, it will be fun to see how Clifford distributes minutes.

Either way, there’s promise in the Bobcats’ returning, second-year small forwards. Kidd-Gilchrist has all the tools except for a jump shot, while Taylor showed some improved offensive skills at Summer League and EuroBasket. If Clifford can find playing time for both of them, the Bobcats’ defense might not be so terrible.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

BWB Africa: Fulfilling The Dreams

Basketball Without Borders Africa

NBA players, coaches and others attended the Basketball Without Borders camp in Johannesburg.

HANG TIME, Texas – It was just a few days after the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that Kyrie Irving saw other dreams.

They were in one of the impoverished townships outside of Johannesburg. They were in classrooms where hungry minds craved answers for a better life. They were on the basketball courts where raw talent gathered to show their skills and sought a way out. They were on so many of the faces that crossed his path during the 11th edition of Basketball Without Borders, Africa.

“In my short NBA career, I’ve had lots of great experiences,” said the Cavs’ 21-year-old point guard during a phone conversation from South Africa. “Just being in the league, winning Rookie of the Year, playing against guys that I looked up to. But being here is an amazing experience in a completely different way.

“Kids are kids no matter where you go in the world and they’re always going to get a smile out of you and make you happy. But these kids that we’ve worked with here in the camps and the younger kids that we’ve met in the schools, they seem to draw even more out of you, because of the environment they come from.

“I’ve traveled around a bit and taken part in some UNICEF programs in the past. You think you’ve seen some situations that are bad. But the poverty in Africa is overwhelming. There are levels of poverty that I’m not sure we can understand as Americans without actually having been here.

“Some of the kids knew my name, who I was, where I played in the NBA. Others didn’t. All they wanted was somebody to be with them and be there for them. That’s the way we have to approach it — help one kid at a time.”

Basketball without Borders is the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and social responsibility program that aims to create positive social change in the areas of education, health, and wellness. To date, there have been 36 BWB camps in 21 cities across 18 countries on five continents.

The program has featured more than 150 current and former NBA/WNBA players and nearly 140 NBA team personnel from all 30 NBA teams as camp coaches and mentors.

The inaugural BWB camp was in July 2001 led by former NBA players Vlade Divac and Toni Kukoc, for 50 children from five nations of the former Yugoslavia. In 2013, BWB were held in three countries on three continents: Argentina, Portugal and South Africa.

FIBA and local federations help identify 50 to 65 of the top basketball players 18 and under from countries across the related continent to attend.

BWB has featured over 1,700 campers from over 120 countries and 28 BWB campers have been drafted into the NBA. There are currently 11 BWB alumni on NBA rosters: Jonas Valanciunas, Raptors/Lithuania; Donatas Motiejunas, Rockets/Lithuania; Enes Kanter, Jazz/Turkey; Greivis Vasquez, Kings/Venezuela; Omri Casspi, Rockets/Israel; Luc Mbah A Moute, Kings/Cameroon; Danilo Gallinari, Nuggets/Italy; Nicolas Batum, Trail Blazers/France; Marco Belinelli, Spurs/Italy; Marc Gasol, Grizzlies/Spain; Andrea Bargnani, Knicks/Italy.

Four former BWB campers were drafted in 2013: Sergey Karasev, Cavaliers/Russia; Kelly Olynyk, Celtics/Canada; Gorgui Dieng, Timberwolves/Senegal; Arsalan Kazemi, 76ers/Iran.

Other NBA players in South Africa were: Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka and Hasheem Thabeet of the Thunder, Jerryd Bayless of the Grizzlies; Bismack Biyombo of the Bobcats, Luol Deng of the Bulls, Al Horford of the Hawks and NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo.

NBA coaches took part, too, including Tyrone Corbin (Jazz); Luca Desta (Mavericks); Mark Hughes (Knicks); BJ Johnson (Rockets); Jamahl Mosley (Cavaliers); Patrick Mutombo (Nuggets); Monty Williams (Pelicans) and ex-Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins.

The BWB program has been a favorite of Dikembe Mutombo, who attended the first in Johannesburg more than a decade ago.

“The biggest difference that I see from when we held the first camp here is the level of play,” Mutombo said. “Back then, a lot of guys were just lucky to be able to get into the gym and show a little bit. Now they’re getting coaching, getting direction and they are giving themselves a real chance for a better life.

“We all know that it is a long shot for anyone to make it into the NBA, even more when you’re coming from the background of Africa. That’s why the real goal for a lot of these kids is to come here and attract attention and maybe get an opportunity to come to the United States for a high school education, to play basketball and then maybe to attend an American university.

“To me, that’s how we make the world, and Africa in particular, a better place. We lift these kids up, educate them and hopefully many of them will return to their countries and try to make things better.”

Irving recalled that he had learned about apartheid in schools while he was growing up, but that had not prepared him for an up-close experience with people who had lived through it.

“To me, Steve Biko and Hector Pieterson were names I read in books,” Irving said. “But here I’m walking where they walked and talking with their people. It’s had more of an impact. It makes me know that I want to come back to Africa and do what I can in the future.”

The 47-year-old Mutombo, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, rarely misses an opportunity. He had spent millions of his own dollars building a hospital in his mother’s name in his homeland and has spent more to erect dormitories and classrooms during his many BWB trips to South Africa.

“On the anniversary of Dr. King’s speech, I took time to stop and think,” Mutombo said. “I have achieved so many blessings in my life after a childhood of poverty. I achieved a dream of working and getting noticed and getting myself an education.

“I realized a dream of playing basketball for a living and having the NBA doors open for me. I realized a dream of making a fortune and being able to use it to go back home and help my people. I realized a dream to build a hospital in my country.

“We all have to dream because big things are possible, especially in a world that has gotten smaller with things like cell phones and Facebook and Twitter.

“I tell these young players that come here that we’re all connected. What Dr. King was talking about fifty years ago was not African-American dreams or American dreams. These are human dreams all over the world and every time I come here see a young player like Kyrie with his eyes wide open on his first trip, I feel like we can fulfill more.”

Bobcats’ 2011 Draft Could Shape This One

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Three days until the Draft, and….

The Bobcats have a very interesting decision on Draft night that is about more than this pick. It could be about the selection two years ago as well.

Bismack Biyombo, the defense and rebounding specialist taken seventh in 2011 as part of a pre-arranged deal with the Kings and Bucks, has gone from 23.1 mpg and 5.8 rpg as a rookie to 27.3 mpg and 7.3 rpg last season as part of what everyone knew going in would be a long-term project for a prospect with no offense and little previous basketball experience. Charlotte believed, and the ultra-confident Biyombo did as well, that he could become a game-changer just by his work around the rim, but that would take time.

While there was an ongoing internal assessment, the June 2013 read on Biyombo is particularly relevant as the Bobcats stare at a Draft board that would take them in two directions: Use the No. 4 choice Thursday night on Alex Len of Maryland as the new starting center and a much-needed infusion of post scoring. Or, go with Anthony Bennett of UNLV for the kind of offensive boost that is necessary for a power forward playing alongside the one-dimensional Biyombo.

Len makes sense because centers are always hard to find and he is the best one on the board this year. Maybe Biyombo’s best fit is as an energizing defensive force off the bench, able to spark a team the same way other coaches typically rely on a scorer for that role.

But, Bennett makes sense because Biyombo is clearly progressing in some areas. Plus, the Bobcats hired Patrick Ewing as an assistant coach and just maybe he knows something about playing center that can help a project develop. No one expected Biyombo to be making a major impact after two seasons anyway, and his rebounding numbers are encouraging.

Bennett is also a good fit with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the lottery pick a year ago. Kidd-Gilchrist can’t hit a jumper, so the Bobcats need someone with range. That’s Bennett. There are questions about who Bennett guards — not strong enough to handle power forwards, not quick enough to stay with small forwards — but Biyombo and MKG have the potential to become elite defenders and compensate.

Charlotte will be facing a lot of scrutiny by the end of Thursday night no matter what, just because owner Michael Jordan is the name at the top of the masthead. The potential Len-Bennett internal debate, with Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo worth putting in the conversation as well after his improved perimeter game last season, makes for an intriguing decision in the Bobcats’ future.

Air Check: Where Bismack Biyombo Is Top 5

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – For NBA fans like us, there’s nothing better than League Pass. Having the ability to watch every game every night (and then again the next day) is heaven.

Of course, with local broadcasts, you get local broadcasters, which can be good and bad. It can be good, because these guys know their teams better than most national broadcasters. It can be bad, because these guys love their teams more than most national broadcasters. And they’re usually not afraid to show that love.

The national guys aren’t perfect either. And if they’re not careful, they may be featured here, where we highlight the best and worst of NBA broadcasts.

We’ve got a Clippers and Nets theme this week, so let’s start with the Clippers and Nets…

1. They don’t call him the Czar of the Telestrator for nothin’

Game: Brooklyn @ L.A. Clippers, March 23
Broadcast: Brooklyn


This is a great use of the telestrator by … you guessed it … Mike Fratello.

Late in the game, the Clippers try to get Brook Lopez (and his slow feet) to defend Chris Paul in a pick and roll. But, as Fratello explains, the Nets switch assignments as Blake Griffin goes to set the pick, having the more mobile Reggie Evans hedge the screen.

It’s a pretty simple concept, but something that many viewers wouldn’t have picked up on when watching the play live. And all it takes is a quick explanation from Fratello to make us all a little smarter.

2. Another one-liner from JVG

Game: L.A. Lakers @ L.A. Clippers, April 7
Broadcast: ESPN


Jeff Van Gundy always bring the coach’s perspective…

Mike Breen on Jamal Crawford: “He’s had 16 head coaches in his career, 16 in his 13 years in the league.”

Van Gundy: “Are you saying he’s got a lot of people fired?”

Classic JVG.

3. Is Tommy Heinsohn calling Kings games now?

Game: L.A. Clippers @ Sacramento, March 19
Broadcast: Sacramento


Kings color man Jerry Reynolds doesn’t like this foul call, even though the replay shows that Pizza Guy Isaiah Thomas was all in Chris Paul‘s space and hit him on the arm as he rose for the shot.

“Are you kidding me?,” Reynolds says. “What a bail out.”

And then he hits us with the big one: “I guarantee you if that had of been Isaiah Thomas shooting the ball and Chris Paul defending, that would not have been called that way. That is my take on it and I’m tired of it.”

But good for play-by-play guy Grant Napear for calling Reynolds out for going a little to far: “Jerry Heinsohn working with us today.”

Reynolds: “I know. I get carried away every now and then. I can’t match up to my man Tommy Heinsohn, though. I can’t do it.”

Napear: “I don’t think anybody can.”

4. Rolls off the tongue

Game: Charlotte @ Brooklyn, April 6
Broadcast: Brooklyn


Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel have been working together for almost 20 years. So Spanarkel knows how much Eagle likes calling the game’s most unique names. (If you ever meet Eagle in person, just ask him about that forward who played for Stanford from 2002 to 2006.)

Bismack Biyombo is clearly among Eagle’s favorites.

Eagle: “High-low … Bi-YOM-bo!”

Spanarkel: “Top-5 name for you, possibly?”

Eagle: “I enjoy it. I can’t deny it.”

Foul called.

Spanarkel: “Who was that foul on?”

Eagle: “That’s Bi-YOM-bo.”

Jordan At 50: Could He Just Do It?

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HANG TIME, Texas – It starts out like the beginning of an old joke.

You know, somebody says that as great as Bill Russell was in winning 11 championships with the Celtics, he’d have difficulty winning even one against today’s class of NBA athletes.

Of course, goes the punchline, Russell will turn 79 on Tuesday.

But Antawn Jamison wasn’t kidding when he told Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com that Michael Jordan could still play effectively in the league right now.

Jordan turns 50 on Feb. 17, coincidentally the day of the NBA All-Star Game.

“I wouldn’t doubt that in the right situation with a LeBron (James) on his team or with a Kobe (Bryant) on this team, he could get you about 10 or 11 points, come in and play 15-20 minutes,” said Antawn Jamison before the Lakers played the Bobcats on Friday. “I wouldn’t doubt that at all, especially if he was in shape and injuries were prevented and things of that nature.”

That’s saying a lot, considering Jamison has Bryant on his team, and only averages 8.1 points per game in 20.5 minutes per game and he’s “only” 36 years old.

Jordan averaged 20 points in 37 minutes per game in his 15th and final season in the league before retiring for good at age 40.

Would it ever happen? Could it ever happen? Other than Larry Bird actually sprouting real wings, is there anything you might imagine that is more preposterous?

Remember, it was Jordan himself who raised the possibility near the end of his challenging, often vitriolic speech at the 2009 Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

“One day you might look up and see me playing the game at 50,” Jordan said. “Oh, don’t laugh. Never say never. Because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”

We know that on the court there were never any limits or fears to Jordan, only challenges — some real, some imagined — that he used to constantly lift himself to a higher plane.

That is precisely the reason I have a standing bet with my good friend Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle that was made when Jordan hung up his Wizards jersey. I said then I didn’t believe His Airness was finished and one day we’d see him back on the court in an NBA game. At the start of each new season, Jonathan tries to get me to surrender. Then along comes word that the owner of the Bobcats showed up at practice one day in December to show them how it’s done. Or maybe just to feed his ego.

But after taking on some of his kids — Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo — in a little one-on-one, it’s always clear that the competitive spark is just below the surface and the skills are still there.

“He’s still got it. He can still shoot,” Henderson said. “I don’t know about his defense, but he can still score.”

Biyombo: “He’s pretty good.”

So we mark down Biyombo for understatement of the year, consider the opinion of Jamison and ponder the possibilities.

I once asked Hakeem Olajuwon, who just turned 50, if he thought he could still play in the league.

“Not full-time. But for a few minutes, yes,” he insisted. “ I’m in shape.”

When a 50-year-old Clyde Drexler was asked the same question, he nodded his head. “Absolutely. I could go out there and run up and down the floor with those guys one night,” he said laughing. “Then the next day I’d be in traction.”

So what do we do with the Jordan question? Could he? Would he? Should he, as the old Nike slogan said, just do it?

I’ll tell you one thing I’m not doing: Paying off Jonathan. Yet.

Shaqtin’ A Fool: Vol. 2, Episode 7


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Post-Holiday blues got you down? Shaq has the perfect thing to cheer you up: JAVALE! That’s right, the Fool MVP makes a return to the countdown this week and he’s joined by Dwight Howard, Bruce Jenner, Bismack Biyombo and the Chicago Bulls. Vote for your favorite Shaqtin’ A Fool moment!

Blogtable: Fixing The Bobcats




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.


Week 9: The trouble with DeMarcus | What to do with the Bobcats | Teams falling, teams rising


Play GM of the Bobcats: What do you do? What can you do?

Fran Blinebury: Join the ACC.  Everybody else is.

Jeff Caplan: Resign? Run away? At this point I just don’t see many options. So many bad signings have been made, players out of position. There are few tradeable commodities. Remember, this group gave away Tyson Chandler.

Scott Howard-Cooper: There isn’t much to do. No matter how bad it looks in the middle of a ridiculously long losing streak, the Bobcats aren’t far off a reasonable win pace. Somewhere between 25 and 30 victories would have been fair, and that is still a reachable number. The only real move to make that would bring much in return would be to decide the Bismack Biyombo project is not going to end well. The answer is to stay the course, understand the Bobcats aren’t as bad as the last few weeks would indicate (just as we now know they aren’t as good as the hope from the first couple weeks), get another top lottery pick and work the offseason.

John Schuhmann: I stay patient and hope for another top-three pick in next year’s draft. I like some of the pieces I have, especially Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but I obviously need more. No team is going to take Tyrus Thomas off my hands, but I will shop Ben Gordon to those playoff teams that desperately need shooting, looking to back get more young players or draft picks, along with contracts that don’t go beyond next season. Speaking of shooting, I’ll also hire a shooting coach to work with MKG for the next few years.

Sekou Smith: Somehow a new set of rosary beads just doesn’t seem like enough. And to think we were singing the Bobcats’ praises after the first two and a half weeks of the season. It’s all about luck at this point. And I mean luck in the sense that when the lottery plays out in the spring, the Bobcats need to get lucky. And when the underclassmen start declaring for the June Draft, the Bobcats need to get lucky and make sure the right player(s) declare. And then on Draft night, whether they have the first option or the second or third, they get lucky and make the right choice and that choice turns out to be the Kevin Durant or Dwight Howard or Derrick Rose the Bobcats need to help them get off the mat and become a legitimate team in the Eastern Conference. There is no amount of planning that can fix what ails these Bobcats. There are just too many factors working against them right now for conventional fix it methods. Right now it’s all about Lady Luck.

Grrr! Bobcats’ ID Gets Makeover

In marketing parlance, the Charlotte NBA franchise has launched a new “brand identity campaign.” In law enforcement circles, it’s the equivalent of the witness protection program.

What began with new team colors and logos already had been extended to new uniforms for the 2012-13 season – they’re now just “Cats” across their chests, the “Bob” part unofficially consigned to the heap of old stationery and business cards from original owner Robert Johnson’s tenure.

The latest nip-and-tuck comes via an ad campaign of “TougherFasterStronger,” which at least encourages a Charlotte fan to say it faster by going with Italics font and dropping the spaces between the words. It is meant to focus on the “hard work, up-tempo play and overall development that are the keys to the philosophy of new Bobcats Head Coach Mike Dunlap.”

The press release announcing the campaign continues:

“This is an exciting time as we prepare for the upcoming season,” said [team president and CEO Fred] Whitfield. “From his first day on the job, Coach Dunlap’s intensity, energy and commitment have inspired not only the players but our entire organization.  With that, it is only natural that we would follow his lead with this campaign.” (more…)