Posts Tagged ‘Darko Milicic’

Labor Talks: Tick Tock, Tick Tock …

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’ve all known for a while now that the first week of October would serve as a crucial week in these NBA labor talks.

No progress before then and the opening days of this month could be a make-or-break time for both sides, not to mention the millions of us around the world biting our nails hoping that our first love (the NBA) would come back to us … and soon.

It’s hard to categorize the things that have gone on in recent days as true progress. Sure, there have been meetings. Ideas have been exchanged. But no one is talking in a way that suggests that even the loose framework of a deal is under way.

And now comes this crossroads moment, a “very huge day,” according to the words used by union president Derek Fisher in characterizing today’s session.

We won’t know exactly what that means until the sides emerge from that meeting room in New York and explain themselves after yet another day of exhausting conversation about how to close the gap between what the owners want and the players are willing to give.

But if the developments of the past 24 hours are any indication, everyone seems to be digging in and the clock continues to tick …

Agents Urge Players To Stay Strong

Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated: In a letter to their clients, Arn Tellem (Wasserman Media Group), Bill Duffy (BDA Sports), Dan Fegan (Lagardère Unlimited), Jeff Schwartz (Excel Sports Management), Leon Rose and Henry Thomas (Creative Artists Agency) and Mark Bartelstein (Priority Sports and Entertainment), outlined what is deemed acceptable and unacceptable going into the biggest day of negotiating yet.

Here are some of the notable demands in the letter, which was obtained by SI.com from a player: (Click here for the full letter in PDF):

• With the National Basketball Players’ Association having already offered to drop the players’ portion of basketball-related income from 57 percent to 52 percent, the agents implore players to insist on “no further reduction of the BRI received by the players. A source close to the union told SI.com recently that any agreed-upon deal in which the players received 51 percent could possibly be ratified but would likely lead to the ousting of Billy Hunter as the NBPA’s executive director, so this is in line with those parameters.

• A system in which the current structure of the Bird and mid-level exceptions remains the same.

• No reduction in salary from existing levels for maximum contract players.

• No changes in unrestricted free agency and improvements on restricted free agency.

• “Refuse any deal that excludes players from the explosive growth of the NBA.” Owners’ proposals that have started with players receiving 46 percent of the BRI have included drastic declines in their percentage of the pie in the later years of the agreement.

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Can you spot the Karma in Carmelo?

The new word today, boys and girls, is “karma.” I suspect even LeBron James, who wasn’t sure about “contraction,” has an idea what this means.

Now that karma is bold-faced and suddenly prominent in the basketball lingo, can we see some examples of such? Well, here’s a start:

Karma: Kevin Garnett (allegedly) calls Charlie Villanueva a cancer patient and then suffers an injury, misses a few weeks with a strained right calf.

Karma: Elton Brand reneges on a verbal pledge to re-sign with the Clippers (or so thought Mike Dunleavy), joins the Sixers, still looking to be who he once was. Meanwhile, back in L.A., heeerrreee’s Blake Griffin!

Karma: Michael Jordan criticizes Jerry Krause all those years for being a lousy general manager; Bobcats are floundering under Jordan’s rule.

Karma: Joe Dumars thinks Darko Milicic will turn out better than Carmelo Anthony; now trying to make a deal with Carmelo as the main figure.

Karma: Suns figure they’d be better off without Bryan Colangelo first and then Steve Kerr. Hmmmmm.

Karma: Ditto Trail Blazers and Kevin Pritchard.

Your turn, readers. Give us your examples of karma in the NBA.

Did You See What We Saw?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Before we get to that spectacle of a game in Cleveland tonight, take a walk with us.

The Hang Time crew had eyeballs on every game on the schedule,  just as we always do, especially on a Wednesday night.

So the only question left to ask you is, Did You See What We Saw?

Check out our rundown of the all 12 games and let us know if you agree or disagree:

ATLANTA 112, MEMPHIS 109

Looking good: Who says the Hawks can’t survive without Joe Johnson, who is out 4 to 6 weeks with an elbow injury that will require a surgical procedure from Dr. James Andrews to fix the problem? They did just fine without him in this win over the Hang Time Grizzlies. The Hawks piled up a season-high 33 assists (on 42 made field goals) without Johnson in the mix. It’s the best Larry Drew‘s movement-based offense has looked this season.

Sound the Alarm: Whatever experiment our Grizzlies are conducting at shooting guard needs to stop. Rookie Xavier Henry got the start against the Hawks and O.J. Mayo finished with 10 points off the bench. But their combined work didn’t come close to matching the 25 points and 10 assists the Hawks got from Mo Evans and Jamal Crawford.

HT’s Take: All that chatter about Jeff Teague snatching Mike Bibby‘s starting job has vanished in just one month of the season. Bibby was clutch in the win over the Grizzlies, nailing four of his five shots from beyond the 3-point line. Without Johnson for the next month or so, the Hawks are going to need more big games from Bibby, Crawford, Evans, Teague and rookie Jordan Crawford.

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OKLAHOMA CITY 123, NEW JERSEY 120 (3OT)

Looking good: Nets point guard Jordan Farmar will have to wait a while longer to get the shine he deserves, because as good as his 28-point, nine-assist night was, it wasn’t nearly as wicked as the performance Russell Westbrook had. Westbrook scored all 13 of the Thunder’s points in the third overtime and finished his night with 38 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists. If Westbrook keeps this up, the Thunder will have to make room for two names (Kevin Durant and Westbrook) on the marquee. And I want to see the Western Conference coach brave enough to leave Westbrook off of the All-Star team.

Sound the Alarm: Despite the fireworks, this wasn’t an instant classic. Neither team played well before halftime and it did take them three overtimes to pile up 223 total points. That’s what happens when both teams are missing their catalysts (both Durant and Nets point guard Devin Harris were in street clothes). The injury concerns for both of those guys will have a serious impact on their respective teams if they persist.

HT’s Take: We hear all the complaints about the Thunder being overhyped and not really ready for prime time, yet they keep finding ways to win games, with and without Durant in uniform. They have the same record as the Los Angeles Lakers, so they can’t be too far off the pace. We predicted the Thunder would be among the top two in the West when it was all said and done and we’re not ready to toss that out just yet. We still believe they have the potential to chase that spot.

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BOSTON 99, PORTLAND 95

Looking good: Raise your hand if you thought the Celtics’ Big 3 would still be going strong like this 200 games deep into this experiment. We certainly can’t make that claim. But the Celtics continue to defy all of the rules of age by continually waxing the opposition. It certainly helps when Paul Pierce is dialed in the way he was against the Trail Blazers — he torched them for 28 points (including a 4-for-5 showing from long distance).

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Did You See What We Saw?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Who in the name of Naismith would be crazy enough to try to watch all 13 games on Wednesday night’s NBA schedule, completely ignoring Game 1 of the World Series, Modern Family and whatever else was going on last night?

You know we did.

The crew here at the hideout managed to view significant portions of all 13 games and we must admit, we came away impressed more often than not, even by some teams that ended up on the losing end at the end of the night.

The most anticipated season in league history? However preposterous it might have sounded to hear that in recent weeks, we’re warming up the idea now.

Back to Wednesday night’s games, though. It was an absolute embarrassment of basketball riches on display from coast to coast all night. Did you see what we saw?

CLEVELAND 95, BOSTON 87

Looking good: Now you know why the Cavaliers refused to part with J.J. Hickson last year in a proposed Amar’e Stoudemire deal. He was a force (21 points on 8-for-11 shooting) and is poised for a breakout season. Boobie Gibson rebounded from an ugly start (0-for-8) to finish with 16 points and a team-high eight assists.

Sound the Alarm: The Celtics can’t afford many off nights in the revamped Eastern Conference, where the Magic, Heat and even the Hawks plan to push the pace. There was bound to be an emotional letdown, of sorts, after Tuesday’s season-opening home win over Miami. There just can’t be many more like it.

HT’s Take: They say the best way to get over a breakup is to dive right back into the game. And the scrappy, LeBron James-free Cavaliers proved they’ll do just that by out working the Celtics down the stretch. But I wouldn’t go making travel plans for the NBA Finals yet.

NEW JERSEY 101, DETROIT 98

Looking good: All those new additions, rookies and otherwise, showed well in the Nets’ debut in their new arena. Even Jay-Z and Beyonce showed up, a rare occurrence compared to last season when, our Twitter family informed us, Jay never showed up. You expect an Avery Johnson-coached team to play a certain way and the Nets did that down the stretch. He’s already got the Nets 18 games ahead of last season’s win pace.

Sound the Alarm: The Pistons’ inability to finish this thing off, they were up seven with 1:40 to play, doesn’t bode well for a team that enters this season without a whole lot of confidence in each other.

HT’s Take: We tuned in hoping to see something from Nets rookie Derrick Favors and he didn’t disappoint. The eight points and 10 rebounds are fine, but he was much more physical around the basket than even we expected. Our initial fears about the Pistons were confirmed. They just don’t look like a team on a mission of any sorts.

MIAMI 97, PHILADELPHIA 87

Looking good: Welcome to the season, Dwyane Wade. We knew he needed more than those four minutes he played in the preseason to get warmed up. His 30-point outburst against the Sixers is much more like normal. When James Jones sinks six of his nine 3-pointers against anyone, the Heat become nearly impossible to deal with for anyone other than the league’s elite.

Sound the Alarm: As NBA.com’s Andy Jasner pointed out, the Sixers’ starting five did not attempt a single free throw all night. That’s either some sever disrespect for their games or a serious lack of force being used by Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Jason Kapono, Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes.

HT’s Take: The Heat will do the same things they did to the Sixers to most of the teams in the league. The fact is, few teams will be able to match their firepower and depth. And any team that can’t protect the rim will see Wade, James and Chris Bosh have their way attacking the basket. We did see another solid rookie debut, this one out of the Sixers’ Evan Turner (team-high 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists).

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The Ultimate Hype Man

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Give David Kahn his credit for keeping things interesting in Minnesota.

A day after the Timberwolves took out a full-page ad in the Star Tribune admitting that, surprise, they are not likely to contend for the NBA title this season, Kahn drops an even bigger bombshell.

In a detailed letter to Timberwolves’ fans (season ticket holders), he’s touting a “singular” move that will be made to complete his roster transformation and, we’re assuming, set the franchise on a championship path.

Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune offers up some insights on what exactly this singular move could be, tossing around names like Carmelo Anthony (with the Timberwolves as potentially the third-party in a blockbuster, three-team deal) and even Josh Smith and Joe Johnson.

Of course, Kahn can’t mention specifics — he’s already been fined once this summer for saying too much. But you already know that no one does the hype man routine better than Kahn (remember that summer league gem, above). And he certainly cranks up the hype machine with this letter that you have to read to believe.

Here’s a snippet:

During the last 14 months, we have added several pieces to our ballclub:  perimeter shooting, athleticism and length to the roster, and all while maintaining our youth.  Just as important, we have done so with an eye toward adding more talent by choosing to operate under the salary cap.

The reality is, we are still lacking a dominant player – our version of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade or Kevin Durant – and that will remain an item at the top of the To-Do list.

It’s possible this player could emerge from within the roster.  Nearly every player on our team has his best days ahead of him.   Some could make an All-Star team during their careers and one has already become an impact player on the USA Men’s National Team in this year’s FIBA World Championships.  We also have eight players currently on the roster who were selected in the top-seven of their respective drafts:  Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, Wes Johnson, Jonny Flynn, Darko Milicic, Corey Brewer, Martell Webster and Ricky Rubio.

The average age of those eight players is 22.

However, if one of our players fails to emerge, we will be prepared to find more talent for our team – and we will seek a singular move rather than a series of moves, as we did these last 14 months.

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny him.

Kahn is the ultimate hype man!

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A Good Home For T-Mac?

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Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Tracy McGrady seems to be running out of options.

He’s been on a bit of a workout tour this summer and has yet to find a home.

The news that his representatives are meeting with the Detroit Pistons today, courtesy of our main man David Aldridge of TNT, might not register with most, since the Pistons have fallen on hard times and McGrady’s way past his prime.

But as far as shelter for wayward talents goes, McGrady couldn’t land in a better place.

Tough times or not, no one does cast-offs and reclamation projects better than the Pistons.

Chauncey Billups was an afterthought in July 2002 when the Pistons signed him as a free agent and helped him turn his career around. You’d never heard of Ben Wallace before he showed up in Detroit. And Rasheed Wallace was toxic before the Pistons acquired him in a trade that turned out to be the linchpin of their drive to the 2004 NBA title.

Even Kwame Brown (another member of the Summer 2010 free agent class still looking for a home) looked good (in spurts) wearing red, white and blue … fine, that was a stretch, but you get the point.

If T-Mac has anything left, it’ll come out of him in Detroit.

General Manager Joe Dumars has the ultimate eye for the right fit (that Darko Milicic thing notwithstanding). And if he takes a chance on McGrady, that’s more than enough validation for us.

(So long as McGrady is careful about what he says when the cameras start rolling. Because things didn’t go so well when it happened after his workout in Chicago, below).

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Everybody Wants A Piece

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Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – You figured a week later all this hype and hoopla about Miami’s Big 3 would have waned a little bit, right?

There is other stuff going on, summer league, other free agent news, etc.

But the fervor hasn’t let up one bit for what’s going on with the Miami Heat. Almost every player transaction that happens elicits a mention of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James or Chris Bosh and their joining forces on a Heat team that continues to take shape by the day.

Quentin Richardson left the Heat and signed with their Southeast Division rival Orlando but spent as much time talking about what he was walking away from as he did the Eastern Conference powerhouse he was joining, per Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:

“Definitely, there was a lot of consideration. I have a lot of respect,” said Richardson, who played 76 games for the Heat last season, starting all but one.

“It came down to me considering them heavily. I felt this was the best situation for me and I feel like we have just as good a chance as they do to win a championship.”

Richardson said that Wade — his sometime work-out partner — was in his ear ever since the Heat pulled off the Triple Play last Thursday.

“I definitely heard from D-Wade,” he said. “D-Wade is one of my good buddies. He was disappointed to see me walk away. He knows me. Everytime I go out there, it’s going to be like a war. I told him that and he told me, ‘The intrastate rivalry is on.’”

Richardson said he had a few other offers. There was one other factor in his choosing Orlando — a big factor: All-star center Dwight Howard.

Everybody, it seems, wants a piece of the hottest crew in basketball.

All it took was a recruiting pitch from James to convince Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a Cavalier his entire NBA career, to flip and sign with the Heat for the league minimum.

This is the same man who spurned more lucrative offers elsewhere last season, after being traded by the Cavs to facilitate the deal for Antawn Jamison, to re-sign with the Cavaliers for a playoff run that came up woefully short of the championship folks in the organization were expecting.

David Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel described this stampede to South Beach as well as anyone:

Have you watched the gravitational pull of greatness help the Heat the past few days?

It didn’t just lure season-ticket buyers overnight. It isn’t just bringing a worldwide media buzz to the point that exhibition games are being mentioned in Europe and Asia.

It goes beyond how this team instantly became an easy team to love in South Florida and hate in any other NBA city.

It’s the players lining up outside the arena. The veteran players. The role players basketball analysts said would be hard to find. The thirtysomethings who want to rub against greatness just once in their careers.

Juwan Howard is reportedly the next veteran to sign on for duty in Miami, joining Udonis Haselm and Mike Miller. Something tells us he won’t be the last. Not when everyone else on the planet wants a piece of this team.

More from Hyde:

None of these are great players. Each comes with legitimate questions. Each also can be accused of piggybacking on excellence in the hopes of gaining a ring. But can’t they be praised for that more?

Don’t fans always ask players to value winning above all else?

Don’t media always ask players to fit egos into the bigger team?

So much of sports is about fitting players into proper roles. So if these players aren’t great talents — or even good anymore by NBA standards, in some cases — they can be slotted into a definitive role that makes their game valuable on this roster.

Their first Sports Illustrated cover is already set (below). Surely, it won’t be their last.

This is the first of many magazine covers for the Miami Heat's Big 3!

We’re not pointing fingers around here. We’ve been caught up in the Miami Matrix as well. We can’t get enough of this story either, even when we know we should try to move on to something else.

Two HT faves, Al Harrington and Josh Childress, have found new homes and we’re yet to connect with either one of them to talk details (though, we are in the process of tracking them both down). And the Jazz pulled off one of our favorite moves of the summer, replacing Carlos Boozer with Al Jefferson after Minnesota GM David Kahn made good on his promise to move Jefferson so he could make room for the feared Darko Milicic/Kevin Love/Michael Beasley frontline.

You can probably guess who we think made out best in that deal. And it’s not about our continued ribbing of Kahn or the Timberwolves, a team we are considering for inclusion in HT’s Adopt-A-Team program (it worked for the Grizzlies last year didn’t it?) this season.

With the Western Conference ranks thinning a bit, what with all the concentration of star power in the Eastern Conference during free agency, the move to secure Jefferson by the Jazz keeps them in the mix among the elite. That’s always a good thing.

Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune:

Given the departures of Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver in free agency, Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor wasn’t about to describe the acquisition of Al Jefferson as the second coming of the trade that delivered Pau Gasol to the Lakers in 2008.

At the same time, O’Connor couldn’t help but herald the arrival of a player in Jefferson who he billed as one of the best low-post players in basketball, following a trade in which the Jazz seemingly gave up remarkably little in return.

The Jazz completed their deal for Jefferson on Tuesday, sending two future first-round draft picks and center Kosta Koufos to Minnesota while absorbing Jefferson’s $13 million salary thanks to the trade exception they acquired last week for Boozer.

“What we feel like is that we really added a premium player to our team,” O’Connor said, adding, “If you had put him in free agency this year with that crop that they had out there even yet, I think he’d be pretty highly rated, and that’s how we look at him.”

The 6-foot-10, 265-pound Jefferson averaged 20.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in three seasons with the Timberwolves. O’Connor noted that at 25, after six seasons in the NBA, Jefferson should be entering the best years of his career.

Minnesota general manager David Kahn seemed to echo those sentiments. “Al is motivated to have a career-defining season, and I recognize the Jazz will be the recipients of that, not us. I expect him to help Utah immensely,” Kahn said in a statement.

Who knows, maybe Kahn will give us his take on Miami’s Big 3?

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Prices Rising For Big Men

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Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Phoenix Suns might not be in Amar’e Stoudemire’s future plans, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have to pay to keep their frontcourt rotation intact.

Channing Frye has already agreed to a five-year, $30 million deal — as massive upgrade from what he earned this season. Another reserve big man, Louis Amundson, appears to be the object of nearly a dozen team’s desire, such is life for an affordable and extremely productive role player of his size.

As much as this is the summer of big names like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, things are coming together rather beautifully for big men like Toronto’s Amir Johnson (5 years, $33 million), Milwaukee’s Drew Gooden (5 years, $30 million) and Minnesota’s Darko Milicic (4 years, $20 million).

It’s good to be tall this summer!

Darko Goes First Again

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Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have been passed up again.

It happened at the 2003 draft, when Darko Milicic was taken with the second pick by Detroit after LeBron James. Now Milicic gets his free-agent contract agreement done before Wade and Bosh, a staggeringly generous four-year, $20 million deal from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

You’ve probably heard Timberwolves GM David Kahn talking about Milicic like he was a young Bill Walton or something, talk that seemed crazy at the time but even crazier now that they’ve ponied up this kind of cash for Milicic and made clear their desire to move Al Jefferson, who is a legitimate 20-10 guy.

I don’t want to hear any more whining about legitimate stars signing max deals they don’t deserve. These are the sort of deals (Brian Cardinal‘s $39 million, Jerome James and his $30 million, etc.) that truly make the skin crawl.

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Hang Time Podcast (Episode 14)

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Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – John Wall and Evan Turner are on the top of most people’s Draft boards.

The Hang Time Podcast crew is no different. We’re working hard on our Draft board right now as Thursday night’s NBA Draft gets closer.

That’s why we invited Ryan Blake, the NBA’s Director of Scouting, and former Kentucky and NBA star Tony Delk, now an assistant at UK,  to join on us on Episode 14 of the Hang Time Podcast.

Listen Here:


Blake is the son of legendary NBA scouting director Marty Blake and has been immersed in the family business for years. And we won’t even hold that whole “Darko Milicic is headed for the Hall of Fame” thing against him here, because we all make mistakes in the Draft game.

Delk worked this past season as an assistant coach on John Calipari‘s staff and worked closely with all five of the Wildcats’ draft prospect, led by Wall (above), DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton. Delk shared his insights on Wall and Cousins and also suggested that one of the others could be the real surprise of this Draft.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Follow the Hang Time Podcast on Twitter and you can also follow both VT and myself on Twitter.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here.

Here’s a cheat sheet:

0:00- Intro, Finals recap, Gasol’s new legacy, Artest’s positive perception

18:40- Ryan Blake, NBA Director of Scouting

-This year’s Draft talent
-Previous Draft picks who didn’t pan out
-Is there a de-emphasis on high school and foreign prospects?
-Draft based on need vs. want
-Sleepers in Draft

41:28- Tony Delk, former Kentucky and NBA player, current assistant coach at Kentucky

-DeMarcus Cousins insight
-Patrick Patterson’s strengths and weaknesses
-John Wall’s high expectations (check out this link John Wall Dance to watch the infamous “dance”)
-Transitioning from NBA to college coach
-Favorite Draft pick from Kentucky

54:47- Kentucky’s 2009-10 team “Fab Five” and thoughts on how their Draft prospects will do

57:34- Wrap up