Posts Tagged ‘Erick Dampier’

Carroll Trade Came And Went, But in Dallas He’s Fondly Remembered

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Tuesday’s first trade of the NBA season, a ho-hummer in which the Charlotte Bobcats sent shooting guard Matt Carroll to the New Orleans Hornets for forward Hakim Warrick, didn’t make news as much as it spawned a Twitterverse comedy hour, a seemingly endless timeline of sarcasm and supposed wit mocking an exchange of low-minute guys.

Few jokes, jabs or barbs, however, likely originated from laptops in the City of Dallas. No sir. You see, in Dallas, Matt Carroll is something of a hero, the final, critical piece to the 2011 championship puzzle — or, more accurately, a facilitator to acquiring said hero and final, critical piece to the 2011 championship puzzle.

On July 13, 2010, the Mavs traded Carroll, Erick Dampier (the linchpin with his fully non-guaranteed $13 million contract) and Eduardo Najera to the Bobcats for a pair of centers, Alexis Ajinca and, drum roll please … Tyson Chandler, hero and final, critical piece to the 2011 championship puzzle.

Of course, no one knew it when it happened. In fact, in Big D, Chandler arrived to a collective yawn that rivaled Tuesday’s trade. Fans were banking on the much-hyped Dampier trade chip netting a superstar to pair with Dirk Nowitzki. Who knew?

So Carroll had quite the unique and overwhelmingly valuable existence in Dallas for a player who scored 71 points over 262 minutes in 46 games in a season-and-a-half. Yet every time the name Matt Carroll comes up, it makes Mavs owner Mark Cuban bust out with a smile.

“I do,” Cuban wrote in an email. “Because Matt is such a good guy. He makes the NBA better on the court and off.”

Carroll’s Mavs magic started on July 17, 2007, when Charlotte handed him a six-year, $26.9 million contract after he posted a career season, averaging 12.1 points while shooting 41.6 percent from beyond the arc. He’d have one more pretty good season the next year before basically plummeting.

Meanwhile back in Dallas, on July 2008, the Mavs inexplicably signed free-agent center DeSagana Diop to a five-year, $31 million deal  just months after trading him to New Jersey in the Jason Kidd deal. Quickly realizing their miscalculation, Dallas began shopping Diop and found a taker in the Bobcats decision-maker Michael Jordan.

On Jan. 16, 2009, Dallas acquired Carroll and his contract and unloaded Diop and his contract on the Bobcats. By the time memorable July 13, 2010 rolled around, Carroll had just enough dough left on his once-in-a-lifetime contract to make him the perfect fit in the package for Chandler.

And most fortunate for the Mavs, the generous Jordan agreed to bring Carroll back to Charlotte where he joined Diop in enjoying a bit role on the NBA’s worst team, until Tuesday.

For Cuban and what’s left his almost completely altered Mavs, it was a day to reminisce.

Hawks Owner Calls Garnett “The Dirtiest Player In The League”

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Not that this series needed any more fire, but those passionate fans the Hawks will see in Boston tonight got a little extra incentive from Atlanta.

When Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon called Celtics forward Kevin Garnett the “dirtiest player in the league” during a speech Wednesday, he tossed even more kindling onto an already raging fan fire.

It doesn’t matter that most of those fans in Boston wouldn’t be able to pick Gearon out of a lineup, or that his comments were supposedly made “off the record” during a luncheon sponsored by an Atlanta-based non-profit organization.

All anyone will know by tipoff of Game 6 tonight in Boston is that the other team’s owner called out the guy universally regarded as the emotional heart and soul of the Celtics the night before they have a chance to close out the Hawks and move on to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

And now that it’s all out there, courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s D. Orlando Ledbetter, a NFL writer who happened to be in attendance at the luncheon, it gives the Hawks yet another mess to deal with on the day of what is no doubt the biggest game of their season. Check out exactly what the AJC reports that Gearon said and decide for yourself how big a mess this is:

On media coverage of Hawks’ playoff series against the Celtics

“Did you see what Al Horford did last night? The timeline for recovery for his injury is another three months. He’s not even supposed to be playing and Josh [Smith] should not be playing.Zaza [Pachulia] can’t stand up, but if we can get past this round there is a chance that we can get him back. So this is a team that is overcoming adversity. I wish . . . some of the national media or even some of the local media, more the paper than the TV guys, recognize how hard these guys are playing based on how injured they are.

“On top of all that, we don’t get any calls, which I know everybody always hears. But I’ll give you a stat. Last night, we are playing this old physical team. They are old. I know what happens when you play basketball, old guys foul. [Kevin] Garnett is the dirtiest guy in the league. We are playing Boston last night and they had two fouls the whole first half. We had five times that and we’re athletic.”


Hawks’ Horford Out 3 To 4 Months


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — What looked like a serious shoulder injury Wednesday night turned out to be a devastating injury for the Hawks and their All-Star center Al Hoford, who will miss the next “three to four months” with a torn pectoral muscle.

Horford, a two-time All-Star and a third-team All-NBA pick last season, left the Hawks’ loss to the Pacers in Indiana at the 6:08 mark of the first quarter with an apparent left shoulder injury.

The severity of the injury wasn’t clear until after the results of an MRI this afternoon revealed the tear. Per the statement the team released, Horford’s injury “typically requires surgery,” but Horford will seek a second opinion before making a decision on what route he will take.

The Hawks, 7-4, lose not only their low-post anchor and team leader, they’re also losing the services of one of the league’s elite big men for what would appear to be the remainder of this abbreviated regular season.

*** (Hawks VP of Public Relations Arthur Triche tweeted just after 5 p.m. that he had spoken with Horford, who said he planned to have surgery and try to return before the end of the regular season.) ***

For a team that’s already battling depth issues at the position, this is a blow that will be hard to overcome, especially with the competition for playoff slots in the Eastern Conference heating up this season.

“We are very disappointed for Al and our team and we wish him the best as he moves forward in the rehabilitation process,” Hawks’ Executive Vice President and General Manager Rick Sund said in a statement released by the team.  “He has contributed greatly to our success since his arrival in Atlanta, and that’s evident by his selection to the NBA’s All-League team last season (third team pick).”

Horford, who averaged 12.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 blocks to go along with .553 FGs  in 11 games this season, joins the growing list of stars that will be sidelined for a significant portion of this season with injuries. San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili (hand) and Memphis big man Zach Randolph (knee), being the biggest names.

The Hawks will have to scour the current free agent pool to see if there is a big man out there that will help provide some depth. And in the meantime, either Zaza Pachulia or Jason Collins will have to move into a starting role to replace Horford.

Prior to the start of tonight’s Hawks-Bobcats game at Philips Arena, our Matt Winkeljohn reported on the Ten Before Tip blog that Hawks coach Larry Drew said the franchise will consider all of the available options before deciding what to do next:

Drew said the Hawks have not yet spoken in earnest about the possibility of replacing Horford on the Atlanta roster. Joel Pryzbilla is among un-signed big men, Erick Dampier is out there, and Greg Ostertag is laboring in the D-League. “It’s hard to replace unless you make a trade for it,” Drew said. “I haven’t had a chance to talk to [general manager] Rick Sund yet about the direction we’ll go from here.”

Whatever their choice, the Hawks will be at a severe disadvantage in the middle without Horford in uniform. Because none of the available big men come close to giving the Hawks what Horford has during his career.

What’s Next For The Heat?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With The Finals in the books (and in case you missed anything, check out our nifty recap above), it’s never too soon to start analyzing the participants. We’re not ones to wait, so here’s our quick post-Finals take on the state of the Heat and Mavs and what’s next for each of them. Up first are the Eastern Conference champs and Finals runner-up.


A quick look back: The most anticipated combination since beer and pizza, the debut of the Dwyane Wade-LeBron James-Chris Bosh Era left a bad taste in the mouth when the Heat lost at Boston on opening night and delivered the message that this was going to be a process.

After Udonis Haslem was lost to a torn ligament in his foot on Nov. 20, things hit rock bottom on Nov. 27. A 106-95 loss at Dallas dropped the Heat to 9-8 and was marked by the episode of James bumping into coach Erik Spoelstra. The loss precipitated a postgame, players-only meeting that cleared the air and set things straight.

The meeting led to sizzling stretch of 21-1 from Nov. 29 through Jan. 9 where the only loss was — in perhaps another hint at the future — at home to Dallas.

A four-game losing streak in January and a five-game losing streak in early March set the alarm bells ringing again. But the Heat closed the regular season on a run of 14-3 to complete a 58-24 record that was good enough for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and they cruised through the playoffs with a swagger that never stopped until they ran into the Mavs again.


Middle Men Will Swing WC Finals

DALLAS — Kendrick Perkins is coming home, so to speak, for the Western Conference finals.

A Beaumont, Texas, native, his first dip in this Red River NBA Rivalry should be an interesting one for another reason, considering he’ll be facing the man that almost had his job as the Oklahoma City Thunder’s starting center.

Before Tyson Chandler showed up here and helped turn the Dallas Mavericks into a defensive-minded force, he was on his way to the Thunder. Chandler was on his way to the Thunder, at the time he was traded from the New Orleans Hornets for Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox, in a deal in February 2009 that was later rescinded when Chandler failed his physical (injured toe) with the Thunder’s medical staff.

Instead of manning the middle the for the upstart Thunder, Chandler is doing so for the Mavericks and is facing a player just as anxious to mix it up in the post as he is. That’s why we fully expect the play of these two big men to swing the momentum from night to night in this series.

“There’s no doubt about it,” a scout friend told me via text this morning when I raised the same point to him. “Whoever controls the middle of the lane controls this series. Even with all the explosive offensive talent that will be on display in that series, it’s going to come down to who can guard the rim the best.”


Where have you gone, Mr. Mourning?

CHICAGOAlonzo Mourning‘s tougher and better and would scare the Bulls more than any big man in a Heat uniform. Like, right now, at age 41.

‘Zo currently cuts a dignified presence in the Heat front office, the scowl replaced by a compassionate heart that reaches deep into the community, the Popeye forearms hidden by a tailored Brioni suit. But you could forgive the Heat for wondering if ‘Zo could find some sneakers and some shorts right now, 24 hours after Miami was bloodied on the boards by Joakim Noah and crew.

The Bulls own a huge advantage over the Heat from a big man’s perspective, and that won’t change in this series. It’s a fixed advantage for Chicago, meaning there’s nothing the Heat can do about it. Not only does Miami have the weakest collection of bigs of any team left in the playoffs, you’d be hard-pressed to recall another team that advanced this far in the post-season with a weaker group.

Remember those howls heard in Chicago when the Bulls trotted out Luc Longley and Bill Cartwright and Will Purdue? The Heat would kill for any of those guys right now.

Put it this way: The centers (Erick Dampier and Zydrunas Ilgauskas) who started 73 of the 82 regular-season games sat in suits for Game 1 because they couldn’t be trusted.


Rebound now, or maybe not at all

CHICAGO — If the Miami Heat hope to rebound in Game 2 from their 103-82 pasting Sunday by the Chicago Bulls in the opener of the East finals, they will need to do just that: Rebound.

Rebound as they did at times in previous playoff games (52 vs. Philadelphia back on April 16). Rebound like Spider-Man working the glass. Rebound as if their postseason lives depend on it. Which they might.

Choose whichever you want, the Heat got beat on the boards. They managed to grab only six offensive rebounds (one more than their 2011 playoff low). That limited them to just eight second-chance points and worse, only 68 field-goal attempts. That matched their previous low in these playoffs.

So it did Miami little good to shoot at a higher percentage than Chicago; to match the Bulls’ 38 field goals while taking only 68 shots, the Heat would have had to shoot 55.8 percent. And no one shoots 55.8 percent against a Tom Thibodeau-coached defense in the postseason.

At the other end, the Heat grabbed 27 defensive rebounds but allowed Chicago to take back 19 of their misses. That fueled the Bulls’ bounty of 31 second-chance points. That’s deflating in its own sense but it really hurt because Miami did not make Chicago pay for its aggressiveness on the offensive glass. The Bulls still managed to get defenders back to close off Miami’s fast-break opportunities, even as Joakim Noah was grabbing eight offensive rebounds Carlos Boozer was getting four and Taj Gibson managed three off the bench.

Some of this is personnel, certainly. NBC Sports’ Pro Basketball Talk addressed that issue:

“[The] Heat have had their best success these playoffs with a small ball lineup. Meaning the 6-foot-9 Joel Anthony at center. The 76ers couldn’t expose the Heat for that, and the Celtics by design don’t try to grab offensive rebounds. But the Bulls do and just destroyed the Heat so severely it made Erik Spoelstra go to Jamal Magloire for 10 minutes to see if that would help. If the Heat have to go away from the Anthony lineup, they could suffer in other ways.”

Yeah, when your options in the middle are Anthony, Magloire or Juwan Howard Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Erick Dampier were inactive Sunday – that can happen.

But the Bulls deserve credit too for tiptoeing that fine line between going after their missed shots vs. heading off Miami’s transition game. Thibodeau had said Saturday, after his team’s final practice before the series, that he wanted his guys to do exactly what they had done all season, boards-wise.

“Our smalls have a responsibility of getting back to protect,” the Bulls coach said. “Our bigs, if they’re inside, go to the offensive glass. If a big is on the perimeter, he gets back. I don’t want to change what we do in terms of responsibility. But you are concerned about giving them easy baskets, so if it does mean you get everyone back, you get everyone back.”

Don’t overlook the Bulls’ accuracy from 3-point range (47.6 percent) and their care in not hoisting reckless long jumpers from out front, the ones most likely to kick back as breakout chances. It all conspired to beat the Heat on this particular night.

“When they started to overwhelm us on the glass,” Spoelstra said, “I think we started to lose our focus on the other end of the court. And it affected us.”

An Early Look at Most Improved

Through Monday, the NBA season is exactly 25 percent done. The quarter pole is a great time to evaluate a lot of things, but here we’re going to look at early candidates for the Most Improved Player award.

There isn’t clear criteria for the award, as indicated by the 13 different players who received first-place votes last season. Personally, I thought that Kevin Durant, who went from non-All-Star to MVP candidate, was the only choice, but only 17 of the 123 voters agreed with me.

Statistically, there are a few different ways you can compare performance from one year to the next. And I’ll probably explore all of them by the end of the season. But for now, since it’s still early, I’ll keep it simple.

To see whose production has taken the biggest jump from last season to this one, I looked at efficiency per game. Efficiency is a stat that’s been used here on for a while now, and it’s fairly simple to understand. You just add up a player’s positive stats (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) and subtract turnovers and missed shots (both from the field and from the line). So the formula is this:

Pts. + Reb. + Ast. + Stl. + Blk. – Turn. – (FGA-FGM) – (FTA-FTM)

Here are the season leaders, and here are the most improved players, according to efficiency per game…

Most Improved: Efficiency per Game
Player Team 2009-10 2010-11 Diff.
D.J. Augustin CHA 6.0 16.2 10.2
Reggie Evans TOR 4.9 14.3 9.5
JaVale McGee WAS 8.6 17.1 8.5
Kevin Love MIN 19.7 27.0 7.4
Paul Millsap UTA 15.6 22.7 7.1
Russell Westbrook OKC 18.1 25.1 7.1
Raymond Felton NYK 14.8 21.5 6.8
Tyson Chandler DAL 10.3 17.0 6.6
Daniel Gibson CLE 6.0 12.6 6.6
Jrue Holiday PHI 9.4 16.0 6.5

D.J. Augustin probably isn’t one of the first guys you think of when it comes to Most Improved. But he’s clearly a step ahead of the field (especially since Reggie Evans is out for two months with a broken foot), having stepped into Raymond Felton‘s role as the starting point guard in Charlotte.

None of the other names on the list are real surprises.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the 10 players who have regressed most in terms of efficiency per game…

Most Regressed: Efficiency per Game
Player Team 2009-10 2010-11 Diff.
David Lee GSW 27.0 18.8 -8.2
Reggie Williams GSW 16.2 8.0 -8.2
Brendan Haywood DAL 16.1 7.6 -8.5
Erick Dampier MIA 12.2 3.7 -8.5
LeBron James MIA 32.4 23.8 -8.6
Corey Maggette MIL 18.6 9.3 -9.2
Jermaine O’Neal BOS 15.8 6.6 -9.3
Anthony Randolph NYK 14.3 3.2 -11.1
Earl Barron PHX 17.0 2.7 -14.3
Troy Murphy NJN 20.5 6.1 -14.4

The name that stands out here, of course, is LeBron James. We all knew that his statistical production would fall off, but maybe not this much. People talked about him averaging a triple-double with the Heat, but his rebounds have gone down from 7.3 to 5.7 per game, and his assists have gone down from 8.6 to 7.3.

Last year, James led the league in efficiency at 32.4 per game, which was more than four points better than the next player on the list, Durant at 28.0. It’s obviously not easy maintaining those numbers when you’ve got to share the ball with two other All-Stars.


John Schuhmann is a staff writer for Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

BLOGTABLE: Heat roster woes

With Udonis Haslem down, Pat Riley has some holes in his roster. What should he do?

David Aldridge: Don’t panic. The worst thing he could do is make a reflexive trade or coaching change. It wouldn’t hurt, though, if Miami played faster.

Steve Aschburner: It’s kind of lame for Miami to be wringing its hands now over the loss of Udonis Haslem. Sure, he’s a tough, “glue” sort of player that good teams covet. But this was supposed to be a team about stars. If Chris Bosh really was as good as his great free-agent adventure had many folks believing, Haslem might not even have been re-signed (Bosh is supposed to be a 20-10 big man, right?). If LeBron James supposedly is capable of playing four or even five positions, then using his legit power-forward size to fill in for Haslem shouldn’t be an issue. Good luck to them, by the way, with the Erick Dampier signing. Big body, old legs, six trips to playoffs (three beyond first round) in 14 NBA seasons.

About Last Night: Code Red?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Now has to be the appropriate time to yell “FIRE!”

What else are we supposed to make of what’s going on with the Miami Heat?

A 16-point home loss to the Indiana Pacers certainly wasn’t expected. Yet on Monday night that’s exactly what we saw. A lethargic Heat team with all three of members of its Big 3 on the floor (though Dwyane Wade clearly was not his usual self), trying to grind through a game and falling woefully short against what was supposed to be an inferior foe.

For weeks now Heat fans and others have been arguing that we haven’t had a large enough sample size to make a proper evaluation of this team. Well, how much more do we need before someone hits the Code Red button?

Early on it was teams with great point guards that exposed the Heat. Now everyone is taking pot-shots at Erik Spoelstra‘s crew, which has been beset with injuries to after its two main role players — Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem — were in suits much better looking than Don King‘s Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“I told them I’m not going to feel sorry for them,” Spoelstra told reporters after the home meltdown. “I’m not going to feel sorry for myself. We need to look at ourselves individually, get to work and get better. We need to dig ourselves back. Trust each other. Trust the system. (Monday) was nothing I recognized.”

LeBron James cited a lack of “fun” and “swagger” in the Heat, while Chris Bosh insists that getting “angry” about what’s going on won’t fix the problem.

Heat fans at the game suggested a remedy of their own. There were “We Want Riley” chants heard inside of the arena from midway through the third quarter on, noise that had to make Heat boss Pat Riley cringe.

With an 8-6 record and back-to-back losses to lottery teams in the past three days, the calls for change are only going to intensify. And no, adding Erick Dampier to the mix to replace the physical presence of Haslem (who is out indefinitely with a torn ligament in his left foot that will require surgery), won’t fix the problem.

Speaking of problems, the Heat are hardly alone in that department. The top three teams in Southeast Division all got punched in the face Monday night as the Magic and Hawks took punches from contenders, too: (more…)