Posts Tagged ‘Chris Singleton’

Back And Forth With Bones: Magic-Wizards

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Back and Forth With Bones is an e-mail exchange between NBA.com’s John Schuhmann and NBA TV’s Brent Barry during a Monday night game. This week, they sat down (Schuhmann at home in New Jersey, Barry in the studio in Atlanta) to watch the 6-10 Orlando Magic visit the 8-9 Washington Wizards.

Pre-game

Schuhmann: Hey Bones, we got Magic-Wizards tonight.

The Wiz have won six of their last eight games with an improved offense (103.5 points per 100 possessions vs. 98.5 in their first nine games). For the season, they’ve been great on both ends of the floor with John Wall, Nene and Marcin Gortat on the floor with two of the Trevor Ariza/Bradley Beal/Martell Webster group, outscoring opponents by 14.3 points per 100 possessions. But all other lineups have been dreadful. So depth is an issue, especially with Beal out.

They’re a jump-shooting team. Only two teams (New York and Portland) have taken a lower percentage of shots from the paint. But they’re tied with the Heat for the league lead in corner 3-pointers. Wall has 32 assists on corner 3s (10 more than anybody else in the league) and Ariza and Webster are tied for second with 23 corner threes.

So that has to be a priority for Orlando’s defense, which ranks 26th in defending corner 3s and has been pretty bad over the last nine games after a strong start. I don’t know if Jameer Nelson is available (and the Magic offense has been pretty awful with him off the floor), but the Wall-Victor Oladipo matchup should be fun.

The Wizards have been a good defensive rebounding team with Gortat and Nene on the floor together, but pretty awful when one or both sits. So Nikola Vucevic could have some success if either gets in foul trouble.

Thoughts?

Barry: Yes, Randy Wittman is auditioning players to help take the load off of the starting group. But this game is interesting to me in that there is a lot of positivity regarding the Wizards recent play. Can they accept and continue what it is that has gotten them there?

With Beal out, I am stoked to see Martell Webster getting quality starter minutes, though 40-plus (in three of those) is too many. He’s just ready to get in there and mix it up, being a pro.

Watching John Wall balance out his game tonight will be key. Quality possessions against a team in Orlando that competes and shares the ball on offense are a must. The bigs must stay out of foul trouble for Washington.

Orlando is not a huge dribble-penetrate attack team other than Oladipo. It’s interesting that the Wiz have had this stretch with Beal (NBA minutes leader and their leading scorer) out.

Is Arron Afflalo an Eastern Conference All-Star? Hard to say he hasn’t played like one.

Schuhmann: Nah, the East All-Stars should just be six players each from Indiana and Miami.

Barry: Add four from the West to the East. Any player born east of the Mississippi can qualify for East team headed to NO!

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Wizards Hit With Early Injury News

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Mid-September is the time when basketballs start bouncing at a more frequent rate in NBA gyms around the country, a sound that brings hope and joy to all involved. But when players get back to playing full-speed basketball, they also get back to getting injured.

For the second straight season, the Washington Wizards got a head-start in the injury race. Last September, they announced that John Wall would miss two months with a stress fracture in his left knee. This September’s news isn’t as bad, but it could certainly affect Washington’s outlook.

Early Wednesday afternoon, the Wizards announced that Chris Singleton has a Jones fracture in his left foot and will be out 6-8 weeks. An hour later, they announced that Emeka Okafor has been diagnosed with a herniated disc in his neck and will be out indefinitely.

The Singleton injury is tough, but he could be back for the start of the season and the Wizards have depth at the forward positions. The Okafor injury is obviously a lot more worrisome.

Washington is a team that promised to improve this season and possibly snatch a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Last season, they were 22-19 in games where both Wall and Nene were healthy, had a top-10 defense, and had a starting lineup that was excellent in limited minutes. Only four lineups that played at least 100 minutes had a better NetRtg (point differential per 100 possessions) than the unit of Wall, Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Nene and Okafor.

So the hope was that Washington could maintain its top-10 standing on defense while improving its offense with the development of Wall and Beal. But the defensive part of that equation looks a little more doubtful with the Okafor news. He was a big part of that top-10 defense, anchoring the middle for more than 2,000 minutes last season.

Kevin Seraphin can step out an hit a mid-range jumper, but his shooting numbers were barely better than Okafor’s last season. And Seraphin is obviously not the defender that Okafor is. So the Wizards will have to help that Okafor isn’t out too long.

Wizards Putting Challenge To Vesely, Singleton

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LAS VEGAS – Oscar nominees aren’t asked to audition much for their next plum film roles and the most established NBA players don’t have to mess with the casting calls of their professions, which at the moment is the Las Vegas Summer League.

The trick sometimes is knowing when you’ve earned big-shot status and when you haven’t.

Jan Vesely, the Washington Wizards’ third-year big man and the No. 6 pick in the 2011 Draft, arrived for summer league with much to prove and lacking maybe the right attitude to do so. Reportedly, the 6-foot-11 native of the Czech Republic, the fellow with the fat European resume but meager NBA accomplishments, somehow felt this July hoops rodeo was beneath him.

Whatever that meant – that Vegas games weren’t worthy of his full effort or maybe that his commitment to the Czech national team after this ends deserved a higher priority – it was the wrong way to begin a pivotal offseason. As the Washington Post‘s Michael Lee reported after the Wizards’ season ended, working on his game was important, yet second on Vesely’s to-do list.

“He needs to work on his head first,” [head coach Randy] Wittman said. The Wizards showed their confidence in Vesely before his second season began, when they picked up his option for the 2013-14 season worth $3.34 million. But at no point after did Vesely show that he shared their faith. Vesely regressed in every statistical category and barely finished with more points (126) and rebounds (122) than personal fouls (107).

Chris Singleton, a 6-foot-8 Florida State product selected 12 spots after Vesely in that draft, took a dip in his second season, too. Instead of playing 21.7 minutes nightly for Washington, he slipped to 16.2 and his scoring and rebounding dropped as well. He shot 38.2 percent and after shooting 34.6 percent (44-for-127) from 3-point range as a rookie, Singleton took 36 from the arc and made only seven. Like Vesely, Singleton’s $1.6 million guarantee for 2012-13 might be the end of the line in Washington unless the Wizards lock him in for another season.

From the team’s side, the two forwards represent a commitment of almost $7 million for next year that has to be evaluated by next spring. Starting now.

“As they walked in, they’d done this before, they might say ‘Why me?’ ” said Wizards assistant coach Don Newman, who worked the sideline Wednesday of a 90-83 loss to Memphis at the Thomas & Mack Center. “But your franchise wants you to be better and wants to count on you. They have to look at it as, hey, this is your job. Your job is to get better and this is a venue you ought to be getting better in. That’s how you’ve got to take it.”

Because they came out in 2011, Vesely and Singleton – and all rookies – missed summer league that year due to the NBA lockout. Playing in Las Vegas or Orlando twice isn’t that uncommon, but if a player begins to think of himself as more proven than he is, it can take harsh reality or straight talk to get them to reconsider.

These two got a little of both. Neither played all that well in Washington’s first couple of days here, and several members of the coaching staff put the challenge directly to them.

“Absolutely. We do that daily,” Newman said. ” ‘We’re not putting you guys out here to embarrass you. We’re putting you out here to sharpen up and get better.’ Sometimes you have to put your arm around ‘em and sometimes you’ve got to kick ‘em in the butt.

“They’ve been to this dance a few times. We’re looking for them to be a lot better. That’s the story for both Ves and Chris. We want them to be able to be counted on.”

Vesely had 15 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes against Memphis while Singleton finished with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 29 minutes. But a real test came late, when Newman sent them back into the game with 4:12 left, the Wizards down 11. The pair had been part of a minor comeback early in the quarter, but it also was the sort of substitution made to gauge the players’ response, on and off the court.

Both played hard, Washington whittled the lead down briefly and the Wizards afterward sounded as if they were on the same page.

“I saw yesterday and a couple days ago, there was a good chance to see how I was working out the last month,” Vesely said. “After this summer I can sit down and see what I have to improve more and work on.”

Said Singleton: “I had some things I needed to work on. I wanted to come here and show ‘em. I had a rough couple days but I think it’s starting to pick up.”

All right then. Newman, the rest of the staff and the Washington front office knew what it was doing.

“Absolutely,” the assistant coach said. “Because they should be the ones carrying the torch and that’s why I did that. And they know it. In their demeanor, I think they understand and I think they want to be better.”

Wizards Undecided On Blatche Amnesty



The first day that NBA teams are officially allowed to sign free agents and make trades is also the first day of the six-day window where teams are allowed to use the amnesty provision to cut players and remove them from their salary cap. The Washington Wizards are still undecided about whether to use the amnesty provision on one of the top league-wide candidates, forward Andray Blatche, according to sources.

Washington is exploring several options for Blatche, who has fallen out of favor both with fans in D.C. and with the organization after signing a contract extension in 2010 that reworked his existing contract into a five-year deal worth $35 million. The Wizards could opt for amnesty, which would remove the remaining $23 million the team owes Blatche from its salary cap, freeing up resources that the team will need in the next few years to extend players like John Wall and this year’s first-round pick, Bradley Beal.

The Wizards could trade Blatche immediately. Or, they could continue to explore trade options while removing Blatche from the daily workings of the team–in essence, paying him his salary to stay away. The Pacers used a similar strategy in 2008, forcing guard Jamaal Tinsley to sit out the whole season while not playing after he clashed with then-coach Rick Carlisle and the organization.

But asking owner Ted Leonsis to write that $23 million check is a big ask, sources allow, even though Blatche is not in the team’s future plans. The Wizards have remade their power forward group in the last year and a half, drafting Jan Vesely with the sixth pick in the 2011 Draft and acquiring Emeka Okafor from New Orleans last month (along with small forward Trevor Ariza) for Rashard Lewis. Second-year forward Trevor Booker also played extremely effectively in spots the last couple of years. Washington has Ariza and Chris Singleton penciled in to take the lion’s share of minutes at small forward. (more…)

Heat To Sign Lewis To 2-Year Deal



The Miami Heat continued to add veteran free agents at low prices Tuesday, agreeing to terms with forward Rashard Lewis on a two-year deal worth around $3.3 million, according to a source.

Lewis had visited the Heat on Sunday and spoken with both the Hawks and Knicks in the following couple of days. But ultimately, he liked the fit of the Heat. And given that he is already going to make $13.7 million this season after being bought out by the New Orleans Hornets, who acquired him last month from Washington for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, money was not a major issue. The buyout completed the massive $118 million deal Lewis signed with the Orlando Magic in 2005.

The Heat are clearly looking to surround LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with as many proven shooters as possible. Miami reached agreement last week with free agent guard Ray Allen, the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers, to a three-year, $9.5 million deal. The 32-year-old Lewis is currently eighth on that 3-point list with 1,690, and is a career 38.8 percent shooter from behind the arc.

Lewis has been injury plagued the last couple of years. Since coming to Washington in December, 2010, in a trade for Gilbert Arenas, Lewis missed 60 games with knee problems, and lost his starting job at forward with the Wizards to rookie Chris Singleton. But even the threat of someone as potent as Lewis has been over his career as a perimeter scorer will force opposing defenses into a quandary next season — even more so if Allen is on the other side — as they figure out how to keep Miami’s Big Three from going wild if facing single coverage.


Rookies Say The Darndest Things

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’ve got dreamers, late-bloomers, trail blazers and twins, oh and at least two guys — Kyrie Irving and to a lesser extent Derrick Williams — who are supposed to be franchise saviors.

The NBA Draft is the gift that just keeps on giving, year after year and player after player. The 2011 edition was no different, with tons of colorful sorts from lands near and far joining the party.

The rookies, whether they realize it or not, will probably never be more entertaining than they are right now and in the next few months, when all of this is still new to them, before they are no longer blinded by the lights, cameras and non-stop action that is the daily grind of NBA life.

Of course, we are not talking about Wizards rookie Jan Vesely, who seemed more than a little bit comfortable with the bright lights shining on him and his girlfriend, Eva Kodouskova, on draft night.

But even without the cameras around, the new guys can’t help but make you smile. Because rookies say the darndest things sometimes. After spending a few days with them leading up to the big night, we gathered a couple of examples to share with you:

“Well, I truly believe that Duke is a professional program.  The way we prepare, practice, we practice like professionals and that’s what he taught me and that’s what I’m going to carry to the next level is how to prepare like a professional:  Countless hours of film, breaking things down in practice, preparing for the next team, thoroughly.  There’s not one team that I thought we were unprepared for, even when I was hurt.

“So being a part of the Duke program and shadowing the coaches when I was hurt, I really learned a lot how to prepare like a professional.  When I was playing it was a little different, because things were happening really fast.  But when I was hurt, things ‑‑ it slowed down for me.  So I really got a chance to learn from them, learn from the coaches especially.”

– Irving on why Duke is such a great training ground for future professionals

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Draft Day: The Moving Parts Festival

NEW YORK — Monta Ellis deserves credit for being the man to get this all started a few weeks ago. And sooner or later someone’s going to give the wacky days of trade chatter and pure speculation leading up to the NBA Draft a name.

Trade-rumors-a-palooza?

The Great Speculations?

Basketball’s International Moving Parts Festival?

We’ll keep working on that. In the meantime, it’s time to dive in and sort through the all the mess just hours away from the 2011 Draft and see if we can’t make a little sense of all these rumors:

Ellis Might Not Get Moved

For all the drama surrounding Ellis in recent weeks, he might not go anywhere. Both Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News and Ken Berger of CBSSports.com have confirmed the same things regarding Ellis:

According to an NBA source, new Warriors coach Mark Jackson has made at least two phone calls to Monta Ellis to tell Ellis how much he would love to coach him.

Here’s a full report and breakdown of the latest Ellis info by CBSsports.com’s Ken Berger, who has been all over this situation and everything I’ve heard is totally consistent with this.

It’s an open secret around the league that Ellis and his representatives are starting to believe that this might be the right time to move him to a title contender.

Ellis is in his prime, has put in many years with the Warriors, and two sources indicate that there has been some frank general discussion between GSW management and Ellis’ camp about his future, the team’s future, and whether the two should remain entwined.

Big point: Ellis loves playing at Oracle Arena. He apparently also appreciates what Jackson has been telling him.

But he’s wondering the same thing many execs around the league are wondering: How else could the Warriors get a necessary bigger player if they don’t trade Ellis?

Iguodala Stays Put As Well

Andre Iguodala‘s name has been linked to as much trade bluster as anyone in recent weeks, including Ellis. And yet there seems to be nothing solid in place heading into tonight’s festivities, as Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer explains:

In recent weeks, the Sixers have discussed trades involving swingman Andre Iguodala with both the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers, along with various other teams, but have yet to find a deal they deem worthy of execution.

Two factors seem to be slowing the Sixers’ willingness to deal Iguodala: the impending change in ownership and the impending lockout.

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Chris Singleton is Getting Offensive

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Once, his rep was strictly as a versatile defensive standout, a small forward strong enough to muscle around with some power forwards at 6-feet-9 and 230 pounds and fleet enough to check some shooting guards, and that was enough to put Chris Singleton of Florida State in the mix to be drafted late in the lottery. It just made him seem one-dimensional.

But now that Singleton has been touring with a series of team workouts typical for most prospects, the perception is changing. He is showing an offensive game that didn’t much light in college. He has been better on that side of the ball than even some, or many, executives and scouts realized, an admission that comes from front offices themselves.

Singleton has shot well enough in some auditions that the success has jumped out. He has shown some low-post moves. In short, he has helped his stock heading toward the June 23 draft when it was in good shape to begin with.

There are two possible explanations: Dedicated players with good agents and trainers who understand the perception game will prepare for the workout process by focusing specifically on the areas that need improving, wanting to address perceived concerns as they travel from city to city. And, the 3-on-3 format typical of the team auditions is much more conducive to breaking out than the 5-on-5 setting. Two fewer players on offense means more opportunity to shine.

Or there is the other possibility. That Singleton was always better than the 13.1 points per game and 43.4 percent from the field of his junior season in 2010-11 and that was overshadowed by the defense.

“Some people don’t think I can score the ball, just because of me not taking enough shots,” Singleton said a few weeks ago in the early stages of individual workouts. “But I feel like I can score the ball. I’ve just got to go out there and show them I can score the ball.”

He is doing just that.