Posts Tagged ‘DeShawn Stevenson’

So Stevenson Wants To Play With LeBron?

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – It would be the ultimate form of “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Only not as you think.

Remember, it was the pitbull-defense of DeShawn Stevenson who helped the Dallas Mavericks throw a wet blanket over a fourth-quarter-shrinking LeBron James. Those 2011 Mavs still stand as the first and only team to beat LeBron’s Heat in the playoffs.

It was also the last time Stevenson played an integral role in a team’s success. He hit key 3-pointers throughout the title run, but left Dallas a bumbling mess after the championship and headed to the Nets as a free agent before being traded to Atlanta as part of the Joe Johnson deal.

Stevenson, 32, is a free agent again after the Hawks waived him a few days ago, as Stevenson himself let it be known via Twitter:

Stevenson cleared waivers on Sunday and if the above tweet didn’t make it clear where he wants to play a 14th NBA season, in this tweet he actually makes a plea to the team’s best player to get him there:

Hey everybody wants to play with LeBron, including Greg Oden. Shane Battier did. Ray Allen took half the pay to play. Others have said, heck yes, they’d consider the Heat. But Stevenson’s outreach is intriguing (OK, hilarious) on multiple fronts, the least being the Heat’s relative lack of need for him. What’s amazing about the plea to help him get work with the two-time champs is Stevenson’s past loathing of LeBron.

Perhaps you recall this T-shirt Stevenson wore on the Mavs’ way out of Miami the morning after winning the title on the Heat’s home floor?

Of course, Stevenson’s disdain for LeBron goes way back to his days as an antagonist with the Washington Wizards. Back in the good, old days (2008) when the Wizards still actually made the playoffs and when LeBron still played for his hometown Cavaliers.

The best part of this ridiculous little feud between a career role player who started it by calling James “overrated,” is when it really jumped the shark by LeBron saying that responding to a negative comment made by Stevenson would be akin to Jay-Z acknowledging Soulja Boy.

So, of course, Stevenson invited Soulja Boy to Game 3 of their ’08 playoff series, which Soulja accepted. Jay-Z surprisingly countered by quickly recording a little number with lyrics dissing Stevenson and reportedly playing it a hot Washington D.C. night spot.

It is slightly interesting that Stevenson then went on to sign with the Nets, a franchise that boasted a minority owner named Jay-Z until the rapper recently moved into the sports agent arena. So who’s to say that Stevenson now can’t join his former nemesis LeBron in South Beach?

For LeBron, who posterized former Mavs pest Jason Terry after a monster alley-oop slam in Boston last season, surely he’s received hundreds of “LOL” texts on his Galaxy smartphone.

But hey, this is the NBA where amazing happens, like Stevenson wearing 2011 championship bling and not LeBron. And Stevenson should be happy with that because the odds of him joining LeBron in Miami are slightly less than Chris Riley hiring Soulja Boy to play at her husband’s surprise 69th birthday party come March.

Hawks Bow Up And Bounce Pacers



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ATLANTA – If the Hawks were looking for a bruiser, a goon, a bona-fide lip buster even, they could have found someone who fit the profile better than Jeff Teague.

Ivan Johnson, Johan Petro, Mike Scott, DeShawn Stevenson and Dahntay Jones would all get the part over Teague in an open casting call for the role of NBA enforcer. The wiry strong but slight Teague would get laughed out of the audition.

Yet there he was Saturday night at Philips Arena, delivering the symbolic and very real elbow to the back of Indiana Pacers’ bully David West, with seven minutes to play in the first half of a game the Hawks dominated from three minutes in until the finish. Their 90-69 blowout win in Game 3 of this first playoff series not only allowed the Hawks the bounce back effort needed after two rough road losses to start the postseason, but also served as a statement game for Teague and his teammates.

They were up 21 when West shoved Al Horford to the ground on a fast break, earning a Flagrant 1 foul for his lick. Something had to be done. Teague knew it and didn’t hesitate. His instincts just kicked in.

“Well, kinda” he said, rubbing his low-cut mohawk. “I thought the play he made wasn’t right. So I had to let him know we were going to be there, that we’re not going to back down from anybody. I think that’s the same way they play. They try to be very physical and tough about it. And David West is a strong guy. He plays hard and plays physical. But I think we met the challenge tonight.”

For this one night the Hawks did exactly that, extending the Pacers’ losing streak at Philips Arena to 12 straight games, regular and postseason combined.

The Hawks held the Pacers to a new franchise playoff low 27-percent shooting, the previous low set against the Pacers in 1994. The 30 points they allowed in the first half sets a new franchise playoff record, and the 69 points allowed in the game is tied for the second-lowest mark in franchise playoff history.

Horford dusted himself off after that shove from West and roasted the Pacers for career-playoff highs in points (26) and assists (16), joining Dikembe Mutombo and Moses Malone as the only Hawks since the 1986-87 season to 25 or more points and 15 or more rebounds in a playoff game.

The Hawks used a 42-10 run to stagger the Pacers in a fight that was over by halftime. Hawks coach Larry Drew made his adjustment, a lineup change for the bigger with Petro instead of Kyle Korver, and Josh Smith locked in defensively on Pacers All-Star Paul George — it worked to perfection.

But the biggest adjustment was in attitude. They refused to be pushed around for a third straight game by West, Roy Hibbert and the rest of the Pacers.

Horford couldn’t believe it when he realized that it realized that Teague was the first responder on that shove from West.

For the record, Horford said he thought West’s play was a hard foul but not anything dirty. It wouldn’t have mattered by then anyway. The Hawks left Indianapolis desperate for a win; desperate to show their home crowd that the team they saw on screen in Games 1 and 2 was not the team that would show up for this one; desperate to shut up the critics who bash them, rightfully mind you, for being such an inconsistent bunch.

Horford said he was going to work the way he did Saturday night no matter what anyone else said or tried to do about it.

“I was just being aggressive, playing with a lot of energy,” he said, crediting the circumstance and the late-arriving but raucous home crowd equally for energizing his team. “My teammates did a good job time and time again of getting me easy baskets. They were finding me whether it was off help or drive and kick. Defensively, I just wanted to set the tone and be more aggressive. I go out there with that same mindset every game. Tonight, I had to step up and make some plays on the offensive end.”

Smith served in a similar capacity on the defensive end, limiting George’s opportunities and effectiveness early by confining the Pacers’ best offensive player to a small patch of real estate on the wing and limiting his forays into the paint to a minimum.

“I just tried to keep a body on him, knowing and understanding that he is the focal point on the perimeter, as far as what they do offensively,” Smith said. “I just tried to stay engaged, tried to be elusive a little bit as far as pin downs were concerned. That was pretty much the game plan.”

Teague and Devin Harris did their part, too, thoroughly outplaying their counterparts in blue (George Hill and Lance Stephenson) on a night when the Hawks’ starters combined to shoot just 6-for-26 from the floor.

“This team has done something it’s done all year long, and that’s respond,” Drew said. “After two losses in Indiana, and coming home … I really felt we would respond. We came out early and the energy was there. We had some guys that played tremendous tonight. It all started with Josh Smith. I thought his effort on Paul George really set the tone for the game. George is such a terrific player. He’s really elusive off the dribble, and to throw a guy like Josh, who has the versatility to defend all five positions … I thought Josh really set the tone.

“The other guy I thought did a phenomenal job defensive was Jeff Teague. He got a couple of fouls early, but I thought he did a really good job in defending George Hill. The first two games of the series, George Hill has really played well. He’s shot the ball extremely well, but tonight I thought our guys took the defensive challenge. Our defense was the thing that really got us going.”

The defense, energy, resilience and refusal of at least one man to see the Pacers kick sand in the Hawks faces anymore. The Hawks shut the Pacers down offensively and turned them over (22 for 24 points) enough to blow the game open and keep West, Hibbert and George from capitalizing on their obvious size advantage.

“I thought they beat us at each position tonight; not with the different lineup that they played,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We didn’t take care of the ball very well. When you don’t screen with physicality and you don’t separate out of those screens, and don’t execute your sets, and let the other team take your airspace, it’s going to leave you with a poor shooting night and a lot of turnovers.”

Wherever the physicality of the series goes from here, Game 4 Monday night promises to be another bruiser, Smith insists the Hawks are ready.

“Yeah, it’s the playoffs. Adrenaline is flowing and emotions are running high,” he said. “It is going to get a little chippy, especially down there in the paint. The bigs for Indiana, they play a physical game and all we’re trying to do is match their physicality and exceed it a little bit. We’re not backing down from anything and it should be a pretty good series.”

We know Teague is already locked in and ready to go.

“We’re not backing down from anybody,” Teague said, “No matter what.”

Series Hub: Pacers vs. Hawks

Winners, Losers In Deadline’s Big Chill

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DALLAS –
The Big Chill.

If Thursday’s NBA trade deadline was a movie, the audience would have walked out in the middle from boredom. This freeze came straight from the script that is the league’s new collective bargaining agreement — with its harsher luxury tax penalties and diminished roster flexibility for tax offenders — it put the clamps on a stunningly uneventful deadline day.

The big names were on the opening credits: Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Eric Gordon, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.

Yet, when the curtain closed at 3 p.m. ET, Orlando Magic sharpshooter J.J. Redick stole the show as the lone player of significance to switch teams. The Milwaukee Bucks acquired the career 39.8 percent 3-point shooter in a six-player deal that involved five other relatively anonymous NBA names.

Only one potential blockbuster deal percolated, but ultimately died on the vine with the Atlanta Hawks going the distance in an attempt to strike a deal with the Bucks for Smith before pulling back. One reason so few big deals were discussed was simply because there wasn’t much talent realistically in play, a point that goes beyond any ramifications of the CBA.

The CBA that took effect in December 2011, and begins to smack tax-paying teams with stiffer fines next season, has clearly put franchises on the defensive. Teams that were once willing to add salary to consummate a deal no longer are. Teams that once didn’t think twice about sweetening a deal with a first-round pick, suddenly guard them with their lives.

“Cap room and draft picks, which are usually the currency of how these [big] deals get done, were at a huge premium and are something that everyone wants to have,” said Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who steered the most active club at the deadline with a couple of lower-tier deals.

There’s really no greater example of the effect of these changes than the Dallas Mavericks and their braintrust, owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson. Chronic and strategic over-spenders and tax payers under the old CBA, Cuban, who took on salary in deadline deals for Jason Kidd in 2008 and Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson in 2010, analyzed the new rules and reversed field last year.

He dismantled the 2011 championship team, choosing to covet cap space and the roster flexibility granted to teams that remain under the tax threshold, as well as newfound valuing of first-round draft picks as low-priced labor and trade assets.

It’s a strategy that no longer has the Mavs on speed dial of teams looking to make a deal and dump salary.

“It’s definitely a factor,” Nelson said of the CBA’s chilling effect Thursday after the deadline expired. “There’s no question that folks have their eye on the inevitable, and there’s no question that people are getting their collective houses in order.

“There’s some teams that see that on the horizon and act early, and other teams that will procrastinate and pay a dear price. But I think we’re right in the middle of that. It’s not brand-new news and so, yeah, I think you’re going to see a lot of teams try to correct themselves financially.”

The so-called “repeater” tax really has teams scared. Several clubs tried to deal away lost-cost players to avoid the repeater tax, which will whack franchises with an additional fine if they go over the tax line in three of four seasons. Golden State was successful in this venture. Chicago was not and will pay a luxury tax for the first time since its implementation.

This “repeater” penalty deterred teams from making deals that would have pushed payroll even slightly over the tax line, deals they might have normally green-lighted in the old days. So, is this the way of the future under the current rules?

“I can’t predict the future,” Morey said, “but I think the trend is more this way.”

WINNERS

Rockets: Morey’s stockpiling of assets the last couple years has been questioned, but he’s turned it into quite a haul starting with James Harden prior to the start of the season. The day before the deadline, Morey acquired the No. 5 overall pick, Thomas Robinson, from Sacramento. Morey’s dealing didn’t damage an abundance of cap space next summer that will be used to pursue a top free agent such as Dwight Howard and Josh Smith.

Bucks: GM John Hammond didn’t get his big fish in Smith, but he pulled off the deal for Redick, who should really help a club that’s been skidding down the East standings and needs a boost. Hammond held onto Jennings and Ellis and will have room to maneuver in the summer to add more pieces.

Thunder: GM Sam Presti continues to make shrewd moves. The acquisition of Ronnie Brewer from the New York Knicks for a second-round pick gives OKC another strong perimeter defender to help Thabo Sefolosha.

Celtics: Jordan Crawford might not be Jamal Crawford, but he can score in bunches and Boston was desperate to bolster its injury-ravaged guard backcourt. Boston fans are the winners here, too, with the team’s heart and soul, Garnett and Pierce, staying put.

Mavericks: Sure, on the surface, picking up 3-point specialist Anthony Morrow for defensive-minded guard Dahntay Jones doesn’t sound like much. But then SheridanHoops.com reminded us of this Dwight Howard interview in Russia when he named Morrow as one of a handful of players he’d like to have as a teammate.

Blazers: The team with the leanest bench in the NBA finally got some help in a minor deal that netted OKC guard Eric Maynor, who lost his job early on to Reggie Jackson. Maynor will help Rookie of the Year frontrunner Damian Lillard reduce his 38.5 mpg workload.

LOSERS

Hawks: They didn’t get the deal done to ship out Smith and now it seems they will lose him for nothing in free agency. On one level, however, it’s hard to say that this is a definitive loss. They’ll keep Smith (who might or might not come away from this experience deflated) for the rest of the season, and, with any luck, try to keep him while recruiting friend and fellow Atlantan Howard next summer. If GM Danny Ferry wasn’t pleased with the deals presented, it doesn’t always pay to take something, anything just because in the end you could be left with nothing. If Smith leaves, the Hawks will take the cap space and look to spin it in their favor.

Magic: They deal away a useful player and one they drafted in Redick and hand over his Bird Rights to the Bucks. There was no guarantee that Redick would re-sign with Orlando, but he at least had said the door was open to a return.  The Magic’s Josh McRoberts to Charlotte deal for Hakim Warrick is a head-scratcher.

Knicks: They didn’t upgrade at any position and gave away a solid defender in Brewer, who was starting for the club during their hot start out of the gates, but had slipped out of the rotation. New York did use the roster vacancy to sign veteran power forward Kenyon Martin.

Nets: They failed to land another high-priced player in Smith and failed to unload one of their own, Kris Humphries.

Hawks Have New Faces, New Pressure

ATLANTA – Josh Smith considers himself a realist. And he’s never been one to hold his tongue where his team is concerned.

So while you might hear championship talk from someone in every single training camp around the league this time of year, the Hawks’ forward refuses to play that game in a situation where name tags were actually necessary like they were at media day Monday at Philips Arena.

Only five of the 18 players the Hawks will suit up for their first practice Tuesday were a part of the organization last year. The Hawks jettisoned six-time All-Star Joe Johnson (Brooklyn Nets) and starting small forward and former No. 2 overall Draft pick Marvin Williams (Utah Jazz) as two of the nine players sent packing during a summer makeover/fire sale engineered by new general manager Danny Ferry.

That leaves Smith, All-Star center Al Horford, starting point guard Jeff Teague and back up big men Zaza Pachulia and Ivan Johnson as the returning nucleus of a team that made five straight trips to the playoffs. A sixth is as far as Smith is willing to go with his preseason hype before seeing this new group, complete with as many as  in action.

“Every summer I take a look at my team and try to make an educated guess about where we fit,” Smith said. “It’s going to be a challenge, going against some of the top-notch teams in the East when you consider Miami comes back strong as ever. Boston went out and got better, got a couple of steals late in the draft to go with what they already had. Basically, all of the teams that were up there made moves to stay in that mix. I’m not going to lie, it is going to be a challenge. But it’s always been a challenge for us. And we always seem to find our way into the playoff mix. This season is no different.”

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Nets ‘Very Close’ To Acquiring Joe Johnson From Atlanta Hawks




HANG TIME CAPITAL BUREAU – The Brooklyn Nets are “very close” to acquiring six-time All-Star guard Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for guards Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow and DeShawn Stevenson and centers Jordan Williams and Johan Petro, as well as a protected first-round pick that came from Houston, according to a league source.

The deal, the source said, would be completed whether or not Brooklyn is able to convince free agent guard Deron Williams to re-sign with the team. Williams is entertaining an offer from the Dallas Mavericks as well.

Brooklyn, however, is hopeful that Williams will want to stay after the addition of Johnson, whom the Nets coveted before he became a free agent in 2010. The deal also allows the Nets to keep promising guard MarShon Brooks, who played well for the team last season as a rookie and would help comprise a strong three-guard rotation with Williams and Johnson.

The trade would dramatically change the look of the Hawks’ roster and eliminate Brooklyn from being able to make a potential deal for Magic center Dwight Howard, who wants to go there. The Nets would be taking on the final four years and $89.2 million of Johnson’s contract, after agreeing over the weekend to a new four-year, $40 million deal with forward Gerald Wallace.

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Mavs Still Searching For Offense





HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Back in December, Mark Cuban chose to break up his championship roster, in part to chase a big free agent this summer, and in part because the new collective bargaining agreement — with its more punitive luxury tax coming in 2013 — called for “a different methodology for building a team.”

The biggest change the Mavs made was sending Tyson Chandler to New York via sign-and-trade. Chandler was the heart of the Mavs’ improved defense last season and arguably their second-most important player.

Four months later, the Mavs look like a long shot to make it back to The Finals. And with eight games remaining in the season, they’ve still got some work to do just to make it to the postseason.

But interestingly, the Chandler-less defense hasn’t been the problem for Dallas. After ranking seventh in defensive efficiency last season, they’re right back in the same spot this year, allowing less than a point per possession.

Instead, it’s been the Mavs’ offense that has held them back.

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The Champs Are (Still) Here!





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – “This is how we do it!”

If you walk into the Dallas Mavericks’ locker room anytime soon and hear that old Montell Jordan song playing in the background, it’s with good reason.

Because once again the Mavericks, despite all the critics and naysayers (yours truly included) that assumed they were sacrificing this season by allowing a championship team to break apart, are right in the thick of the race as the Western Conference standings start to take shape.

Things looked shaky early on. Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler — all guys that played a role in the Mavericks’ championship season a year ago — all hit the door when free agency cranked up. It takes bold leadership to buck conventional wisdom to go in a different direction so soon after snagging basketball’s Holy Grail.

But the Mavericks under owner Mark Cuban have always been run by anything but conventional wisdom. With Rick Carlisle steering them through their early season struggles, they lost both of their preseason games, their first three regular season games and five of their first eight which cranked up the chatter about a championship hangover.

Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t himself, wasn’t in championship shape and the Mavericks championship luster was lost in the shadow of bigger stories in Los Angeles (Clippers and Lakers) and Denver, to start the season.

I fired off an email to my main man and Mavs.com’s writer Earl K. Sneed asking him if he had any idea what the plan was this season. He responded instantly, making it clear to me that were was indeed a plan and that he was more than willing to place his faith in Cuban and Carlisle in the days and weeks ahead, especially after what we witnessed covering the Mavericks’ title run last season.

He was right. They’ve gotten back to normal here lately, though, winning four straight games and 18 of their last 24. And now that Nowitzki is back to  normal, the champs can entertain thoughts of mounting a serious defense of their title in a season that was supposed to be about rebuilding.

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Arenas The Answer For Lakers?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Los Angeles Lakers’ search for a spark this season has led them to an interesting crossroads. Do they explore the depths of the trade market and risk giving up yet another valuable asset (remember the Lamar Odom deal) or do they take a chance on adding Gilbert Arenas to the mix in the hopes that he can rekindle some of his old magic in purple and gold?

They’ve already worked Arenas out, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The Lakers are clearly in need of something more than they have on the current roster to get them cranked up again. But Arenas?

He’s prepared himself for the possibility, according to the report:

Arenas, who turned 30 last month, looked “slimmed down” and “explosive,” according to a source with knowledge of the workout, but no signing is necessarily imminent as the guard flew back to his home in Orlando, Fla., from Los Angeles on Sunday night.

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‘Who’s Who?’ Mavs Get Back To Even

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A couple of bearded interlopers showed up on the Dallas Mavericks’ bench Tuesday night in Detroit, which was surprising mostly because someone was able to differentiate them from the strangers usually there already.

Sean Williams? Yi Jianlian? Delonte West? When you think about some of those guys who are or have been on Dallas’ bench in place of players no longer around – Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson – is it really such a stretch that Paying Customer and Drinking Customer – as one giant sports network dubbed them – might show up wedged between West and Vince Carter.

Just seemed to us at the HTB hideout like a couple more guys who wouldn’t be welcomed at the White House.

The Mavericks climbed finally to .500 Tuesday with their 100-86 victory over the Pistons, getting 9-of-10 shooting from Dirk Nowitzki and, with Jason Kidd out again (strained back), 10 assists, five steals and six points from West. Carter dished five assists too, as Dallas got Detroit down (23-9 lead) and kept Detroit down (16 straight points in the third quarter). At 5-5, the Mavs reached even for the first time since they got their rings.

Just winning away from home, after an 0-3 road start, was promising, given last season’s success (28-13) and the Mavs’ game at Boston Wednesday. “Momentum has been elusive for us,” coach Rick Carlisle said, “so we respect how tough it is competitively in this league right now, but our goal is to build on this.”

Carter, West, Brandan Wright and fresh-from-the-NBA-D-League Yi (Williams was farmed out) aren’t exactly guys wearing funny nose-and-glasses. But they do embody the fact that the Mavericks might be the most altered defending champions, in personnel terms, since Michael Jordan-Phil Jackson gang in Chicago broke up in 1998-99. Curiously, that one came in the wake of a lengthy lockout too.

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Nets Eye Playoffs With Okur Deal

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU – General manager Billy King and the New Jersey Nets didn’t take long to recover from the loss of Brook Lopez, acquiring Mehmet Okur from the Utah Jazz for a second round pick in 2015.

Okur is paid $10.9 million this season, a salary which the Nets are able to absorb with their remaining cap space. They still have their $2.5 million room exception, which they’ll use to sign DeShawn Stevenson on Friday.

Since Okur’s deal is expiring, the Nets retain all of their 2012 cap space reserved for Dwight Howard (and have a lot of expiring deals to include in a trade before the deadline). Further, since the Jazz were willing to let the center go for nothing but salary relief, King didn’t have to give up any of the first rounders he has earmarked for a potential Howard deal. (Reports had the Nets sending five first-round picks out in a deal that fell through last week.)

Okur played just 13 games last season because of a variety of injuries (mostly as he recovered from a ruptured left Achilles’ tendon he suffered in the 2010 playoffs), but played in the Turkish League during the lockout and was in shape when camp opened, playing a total of 30 minutes in Utah’s two preseason games.

So while the Nets still have their eyes on Howard, they clearly want to make the playoffs — whether or not they acquire that other center in March.