Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Hayes’

Dalembert, Others Await Teams’ Call

HANG TIME TEXAS, Y’ALL — Though time is growing late as the Christmas Day tipoff draws near, our friend Chris Sheridan at Sheridan Hoops says there are still several free agents available that should have been signed by now, with Kings shotblocker supreme Samuel Dalembert heading the list.

Lest we all forget, Dalembert was somewhat linked to landing in Miami with the Heat early in the free-agency game. That has since changed as he recently told Fox Sports Florida’s Chris Tomasson that taking the Heat’s $5 million exception “would be tough.” Houston has emerged as a suitor of late, but where Dalembert and several other talented-but-still unemployed free agents end up is a mystery:

Samuel Dalembert should have been signed by now. A shot-blocking and rebounding specialist, the 7-footer would figure to be in his demand simply because capable 7-footers are always seemingly in high demand.

Dalembert had been in negotiations with the Houston Rockets, who have been trying to dig out of the rubble caused when commissioner David Stern dynamited their trade with the Hornets and Lakers, ruining their plans to field a front line of Pau Gasol and Nene.

But now that the news is out that the Kings have voided the contract of free agent signee Chuck Hayes because of a heart abnormality, it makes all that much more sense for Dalembert to re-sign with the Kings, whose owners vowed to keep him at the conclusion of last season.

Yet Dalembert remains idle, as is Kris Humphries, who averaged a double-double for New Jersey last season before marrying and then breaking up with Kim Kardashian.

Meanwhile, the Grizzlies made an offer to Bobcats forward Dante Cunningham when they got news that Darrell Arthur would be lost for the season due to a torn Achilles’ tendon.

In the wake of the Kings voiding the four-year, $21-million contract to Chuck Hayes after a physical found a heart irregularlity, don’t think for a minute that his former team in Houston won’t be interested. One thing the Rockets never doubted was Hayes’ heart.

Is there yet an NBA team that can make the right offer to get Andrei Kirilenko to return from his native Russia?

And what about Gilbert Arenas? Isn’t there somebody still willing to roll the dice?

Unmade Deal Most Unfair To Rockets

 

HOUSTON – Here are three things that we know for sure:

— The Hornets will eventually trade Chris Paul somewhere and move on with a rebuilding plan.

— The Lakers will continue being the Lakers, which means they’ll eventually find their way into the running for Paul or Dwight Howard or another high-profile free agent who’ll vault them back into championship contention.

— The Rockets have been kicked in the teeth.

In war, it is often called “collateral damage,” a euphemistic label that does nothing to lessen the pain.

While commissioner David Stern may have had the best interest of the Hornets (he says) in mind and may have been reacting to an outcry from a faction of owners about allowing the Lakers to reload (he denies), at this point the only party to have tangibly suffered is the Rockets, who were caught in the middle.

The Rockets do not have Pau Gasol as the centerpiece of bold makeover plan. They do not the salary cap room to make a max offer to free agent Nene. They do not have last year’s starting center, Chuck Hayes, who bolted to Sacramento during the confusion. And they go back to work in training camp with two players – Kevin Martin and Luis Scola – who know they were not part of the plan for this season.

First-year coach Kevin McHale is in a difficult situation trying to put it all together on the court. But his task is nothing compared to that of general manager Daryl Morey, who has to try to mend fences in his locker room.

Whether the moves to bolster their front line would have lifted the Rockets into the upper reaches of the Western Conference standings or fallen flat is irrelevant. All that matters is that by jumping into the mud puddle and vetoing the original three-team deal, Stern spattered the Rockets badly, tied their hands through the rest of the free-agent process and might have wrecked their season.

Morey has every reason to feel betrayed by the league and Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has every right to go full-Krakatoa on Stern with an eruption that should peel the paint off the walls of the league office.

Call it collateral damage or just a bloody mess in Houston.

Blogtable: Knocking on playoffs door

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

Which team that won’t be in the playoffs this season is closest to making the postseason on a consistent basis? And which team is furthest away?

David Aldridge: Closest: Clippers. They just need to stay together and stay healthy. Furthest: Timberwolves. They’re so young, and the West is still so tough. They have to get better than Houston, Golden State and Utah just to get in the playoff conversation. Tall order.

Steve Aschburner: Houston has a few pieces in place – Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry, Chuck Hayes as a flex-all defender, new guy Patrick Patterson – and a bunch of draft picks to plug holes affordably in the next few years. The Rockets’ strong play makes you wonder if Rick Adelman might stick around after all, since the re-build in the post-Ming era might not be such a massive undertaking. Then there are the Timberwolves, who must feel like they’re looking through the wrong end of the telescope at the prospect of playoff participation. Too much disarray and more likely to come next season, when time really does run out on the current front office/coach combo.

(more…)

Blogtable: Exceeding expectations

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.

Let’s go the other way: Which player has most wildly outpaced your preseason expectations of him?

David Aldridge: Cousin LaMarcus, of course! I knew he could score from the perimeter, but he’s become a terrific post-up player as well. And he’s miles better at the defensive end this year. Really improved his game and put that team on his back.

Steve Aschburner: I could say Grant Hill, based on my bad assumption that he invariably would tail off at age 38 – and certainly not become an All-Defensive Team candidate. I could say Amar’e Stoudemire, because I didn’t expect him to embrace the spotlight, pressure and leadership chores in New York so adeptly. But the only acceptable answer here is New Jersey’s Kris Humphries. In his seventh NBA season, at age 26, with his fourth team, Humphries has more than doubled his career scoring (4.7 ppg) and rebounding (3.5 rpg) numbers, up to 10.0 ppg and 10.3 rpg now. He has 28 double-doubles vs. a total of eight in his first six seasons. And in the grandest overachievement of all, he’s squiring around Kim Kardashian. Now that’s “wildly outpacing” expectations.

Fran Blinebury: After his first two seasons in the league, everybody figured that Kevin Love was going to be a solid player with a successful career.  But I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t expecting him to take a Bob Beamon-like leap into the Moses Malone stratosphere with 53 consecutive double-doubles and to surpass Dwight Howard as the NBA’s top rebounder. (more…)

The Race For No. 8: Western Conference

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — March Madness?

You want March Madness, try being the Hang Time Grizzlies this month. Try losing Rudy Gay for the rest of the season to a shoulder injury,  playing a vicious late-season schedule and having the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns chasing you with their playoff lives on the line, too.

The pressure would be enough to drive a weaker team mad.

The Grizzlies, however, have bowed up to the challenge … their win over the Celtics in Boston last night being the latest example of the rock-solid resolve that has marked this season for Lionel Hollins and his team.

They are in the midst of trashing that myth that regular season games don’t mean anything in the NBA. That’s never been true. And it certainly doesn’t ring true for an outfit like the Grizzlies,who are hunting their first postseason berth since the 2005-06 season.

So what if all you get is an all-expenses-paid trip to San Antonio for a first-round playoff date against the league’s best team (in the standings)? This is one of those instances where the journey is just as important as the destination, where the fiber of each man — and the team as a whole — will be tested along the way.

The Race For No. 8 always separates the (playoff) contenders from the pretenders, and that’s never been more true than it is this season in the Western Conference.

(more…)

The “Magic” of Chuck Hayes

HOUSTON – Where were you when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon? When the Berlin Wall fell? When Chuck Hayes turned into Magic Johnson right before our very eyes?

The history books are full of indelible moments, but there are surely few more improbable ones than the Rockets’ 6-foot-6 center ringing up the first triple-double of his career — 13 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists — in Wednesday night’s win over Golden State.

For six seasons, he’s been the defensive anchor, the one who does all of the dirty work and is often the smallest starting center in the NBA. And here he was exploding like the Fourth of July.

(more…)

Lowry Fuels Rockets’ Playoff Push

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

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

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

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

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

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

(more…)

Hump Day Hoops Roundup

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

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

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

***

A POSITION CHANGE FOR LEWIS?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

‘MELO MEGA-DEAL IS OFF, FOR NOW

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

***

JOSH SMITH TEAM CAPTAIN?

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

(more…)

Don’t Believe The Yao Hype!

***

Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — As far as international stirs go, nothing riles up the masses from Houston to Beijing  like these “Yao says he may quit if foot doesn’t heal” headlines you’ve probably already seen.

Here’s a little advice, don’t believe the hype.

The folks in the know, mainly Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, aren’t giving the buzz coming from China, where Yao Ming was quoted about what he’d do if he suffered another foot injury, any credence. Morey issued a statement that should calm any fears Rockets fans have of their All-Star center hanging it up anytime soon:

“Yao Ming is working diligently on his return and has consistently received positive feedback at each of his scheduled medical checkups. He is currently participating in on-court basketball workouts and we continue to expect him to be ready for the start of training camp which begins on September 25th.”

That works for us here at the hideout.

Yao’s comments to the assembled media in his native land (“If the foot injury does not heal next season, I might choose to call it quits”) sent people over the edge. And we’ll admit, Yao’s injury history — he has seen each of his last five seasons interrupted or ended by bone injuries — raises some red flags.  But big men his size always have to deal with injury issues.

That said, we’re not expecting Yao to go anywhere anytime soon. He’s 30 and should still have plenty of All-Star caliber basketball in him. In addition, Morey has assembled some quality frontcourt pieces around their big man — Luis Scola, Brad Miller, David Andersen, Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries and the always-reliable Chuck Hayes will all help take the pressure off of Yao.

We’re just not buying into any of this retirement hype surrounding Yao.

And with him healthy, the Rockets could certainly make some serious noise in the Western Conference playoff chase this season.

***