HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The first victim of the amnesty clause in the new collective bargaining agreement will have yet another distinction before this NBA seasons ends.
And we’re calling it right now: Gilbert Arenas will be the best bargain of this NBA season. After signing with the Grizzlies, Arenas is being welcomed into the Hang Time family with open arms. And it makes it even easier to show him love when you realize that the Grizzlies are paying him $300,000 for the remainder of this season.
That’s a minimal investment (by NBA standards) with the potential for some ridiculous rewards, if Arenas still has some of that old Agent Zero magic left in him.
It’s a move that was called a win-win proposition for both parties as the Griz prepared to face the Sacramento Kings Tuesday night in the Power Balance Pavilion.
“We need shooting and that’s something he’s been able to do throughout his career,” forward Rudy Gay said. “He’s somebody that’s battle tested who can help us out.”
Reserve guard O.J. Mayo worked out with Arenas in Chicago about two years ago. Mayo learned two things about the 30-year-old Arenas.
“He’s a hard worker and he wants to win,” Mayo said.
The Griz are also confident that Arenas understands the situation. He’s being added to spell backup point guard Mike Conley and occasionally play shooting guard off the bench.
Arenas, a 10-year veteran and three-time All-Star, expressed a willingness to play a limited role. And there is no fear in the Griz front office, on their bench or in the locker room that Arenas will balk at being a reserve.
If Arenas is willing to be a role player, he’ll be one of the few capable of the exploits he’s shown he can accomplish throughout his career. And for a playoff team — any playoff team — to have a lethal scorer coming off the bench whenever they need him, that’s a luxury everyone wants.
It’s time to hit up the waiver wire during the best part of the fantasy season as the playoffs are upon us. I haven’t been with y’all for a couple weeks, so I’m doubling your pleasure with 10 names that could come to the rescue for your team.
In separate moves on deadline day, the Lakers shipped Derek Fisher to Houston and brought in Ramon Sessions from the Cavaliers to solidify the point guard position.
Ramon isn’t starting yet, but he averaged 8.5 points and 5.5 assists in 22 minutes in his first two games in Purple and Gold. Lakers coach Mike Brown recently told reporters Steve Blake may keep the starting job for the remainder of the season, but I’m not buying it. You don’t ship out Five-Ring Fisher and then not start his replacement. It may take another week or two, but when Sessions gets promoted, he’ll flirt with double-doubles on a nightly basis.
As soon as the Warriors selected this sharp-shooting two-guard with the 11th pick in the 2011 draft, the writing was on the wall regarding Monta Ellis’ future in Oakland. It was only a matter of time before Monta was dealt, which happened last Tuesday, opening the starting gig for Thompson.
In five games as a starter, Thompson is averaging 18.6 points, 3.2 assists and 2.2 3s in 36.2 minutes. The rookie is light on rebounds and steals, and he’s shooting just 40 percent since the promotion, but the points and 3s are a nice boost this late in the season. (more…)
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In their season-long pursuit of another long-range shooter, the Memphis Grizzlies have turned their attention to free agent option Gilbert Arenas, according to the Commercial Appeal.
They also need a quality backup point guard. And Arenas could potentially fill both roles, if he’s in game-ready shape (or close to it) right now. More from the Commercial Appeal:
Arenas, 30, remains unemployed after the Orlando Magic made him one of the first casualties of the amnesty clause provided in the NBA’s latest collective bargaining agreement. The Grizzlies can add Arenas because they employ a 14-man roster. Teams can carry 15 players.
A source said the Grizzlies are in a conditional pursuit of Arenas. Memphis wants to see Arenas in a private workout before making a decision. The Griz originally sought to sign Arenas to a 10-day contract but the veteran combo guard is looking for a guaranteed deal for the rest of the season.
But other than the reports that Arenas was in Los Angeles for a workout that was attended by Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchack, among others, we had no idea what the full scope of a potential comeback attempt by Arenas entailed.
Arenas goes places in the interview that he hasn’t publicly in the past, delving into his time in Washington and later Orlando, and also detailing some of the issues that led to his infamous beard and explores the factors that contributed to his fall from grace. He also talked plenty of basketball and whether or not he’s ready for a reunion with the NBA game.
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.
A month to the trade deadline: Which team in the East most likely will make a big move? In the West?
Steve Aschburner: With so much expected action in outright signings – J.R. Smith, Gilbert Arenas, Kenyon Martin already – I’m thinking fewer trades this year at the deadline. But that window between All-Star Weekend and the deadline cries out for a Dwight Howard deal, so Orlando rates as my East pick. If the team acquiring him is out West – Golden State? L.A. Lakers? – then I’m covered for a West prediction too. Otherwise, it’s Phoenix being good guys and moving Steve Nash to a contender.
Fran Blinebury: Despite their bold talk, I still think Orlando will have to trade Dwight Howard and all of his inconsistencies and insecurities. He seems to be burning his bridge one match at a time. In the West, the Lakers have to do something, anything, if they hope to be playing the Clippers, not watching them, after the first round of the playoffs.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Still going with the Magic. They can’t want this game of chicken with Dwight Howard. Unless Howard specifically gives them reason for optimism about a new contract, as opposed to him toning down the rumbles about wanting to leave, Orlando has to make the big move. In the West, it’s the Lakers. A decent-size trade exception, needing an infusion, unable to be patient – that’s a team wanting to make a move. (more…)
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?
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.
There were no Cadillac Eldorados or steak knives to be had, a la “Glengarry Glen Ross.” In the ruthless world of the NBA, at least as it pertained to the woeful Washington Wizards Tuesday morning, there was only third prize: You’re fired.
Oh, and fourth prize: You’re hired. As the interim replacement for coach Flip Saunders, terminated after a 2-15 start in his third season with Washington. Assistant Randy Wittman will take over for the rest of the season in a move that figures to bring more aggravation to Wittman than change to the Wizards’ failing, flailing culture.
This move was, of course, only a matter of time in coming. When I wrote this earlier this month about Saunders and the dysfunctional team that soon would cost him his job, I didn’t even have the confidence to wait for Washington to come to me in Chicago; I jumped on it a day early because the ax seemed that ready to fall. Two weeks later, it did, a 2-7 mark since then and looking little different from the disarray, lack of purpose and absence of development that preceded it.
The Wizards — especially Andray Blatche, Nick Young, JaVale McGee and increasingly John Wall — seem like raw, incorrigible talent, oblivious to the value of coaching, committed only to their knucklehead ways. They knew that Saunders was a dead man walking, whether he stayed or went, because they had tuned him out. There are no old heads on the roster, no veterans both respected enough and involved enough to act as the coaches’ trustees in that locker room. (more…)
An NBA source confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the Washington Wizards have fired Flip Saunders as coach, and are expected to name assistant Randy Wittman as interim coach for the remainder of the season.
The Wizards, who have the NBA’s worst record at 2-15, were coming off another desultory performance Monday, one in which they trailed the 76ers by 30 points at halftime and wound up losing by 20. That has been the norm for Washington much of this season, surrounding occasional performances like last week’s win over Oklahoma City in which the team played with passion and purpose. Only recently had second-year guard John Wall, around whom the Wizards hope to build a contending team, begun playing with much fire. Saunders never was able to get players like Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee to perform consistently.
Saunders was 51-130 in his two-plus seasons in Washington.
Saunders was in the third year of a four-year deal that paid him approximately $4 million per season. He was hired in 2009 after Washington had gone 19-63 the previous season, during which time the Wizards had fired their previous coach, Eddie Jordan.
At the time, Saunders was joining a veteran team that had made the playoffs in four of the previous five seasons around a core group featuring Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood. But Arenas’ role in an incident in December of 2009 in which he brought guns into the Wizards’ locker room as part of a confrontation with guard Javaris Crittenton resulted in Arenas being suspended by NBA Commissioner David Stern in January of 2010 without pay for the remainder of the season. The Wizards cratered again, going 26-56, and made the decision to blow up the old roster and start anew after winning the Draft lottery in 2010 and selecting Wall with the first overall pick.
*** HANG TIME HQ, ATLANTA — It’s a big man’s game, always has been and always will be, and if you doubt that, just check out the number of zeros on Kwame Brown‘s paycheck.
And yet: The season of the point guard is taking shape quite nicely. With few exceptions, the majority of championship contenders and playoff hopefuls are getting strong play from the point and in some cases, two point guards. This isn’t a surprise, though; we all saw this coming, because of the number of point guards taken recently in the Draft who have developed quickly and efficiently.
Let’s take a quick sampling:
The Wolves are flourishing with Luke Ridnour starting and Ricky Rubio finishing games. Coach Rick Adelman is doing the right thing by bringing Rubio along slowly and keeping all pressure to a minimum. The kid’s going to be special, why rush it?
Ty Lawson has come into his own in Denver, and the quality of play at the point doesn’t suffer when he’s replaced by Andre Miller. The Nuggets are getting 12.5 assists a game from the duo and are off to a credible start.
While they aren’t challenging for a title anytime soon, the Bobcats are giving heavy minutes to both D.J. Augustin and rookie Kemba Walker, who often are on the floor together; arguably, they’re the Bobcats’ best hope for the future. That is, if Charlotte doesn’t trade one of them (Augustin most likely) in the future.
Chauncey Billups and Chris Paul have been the starting backcourt for the Clippers all season. This is an ideal situation because the Clippers are loaded with finishers, primarily Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, so it helps to have a pair of guards who know how to deliver the ball. Lob City, you know.
Oklahoma City has Russell Westbrook in contract drive, and then with Eric Maynor lost for the season with a torn ACL, Reggie Jackson had 11 points and four assists off the bench against the Spurs on Sunday.
In Miami, rookie Norris Cole has been a big discovery, and he has lit a fire under Mario Chalmers, who was big (29 points, eight assists, seven rebounds) without LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Atlanta last week.
Of course, there’s also the returning MVP, Derrick Rose; Rajon Rondo and Steve Nash are among the league leaders in assists and Kyle Lowry is having a career season in Houston. And we should mention the No. 1 pick in last summer’s draft, Kyrie Irving, is beginning to blossom with the Cavs.
Interestingly, point guard was a big topic Sunday in D.C., where Rubio had 14 assists and outplayed John Wall, the No. 1 pick a few years ago. This was a curious case because the Wizards gave Minnesota the No. 1 pick that became Rubio. Here’s how it happened: Back in 2009 the Wizards were in the lottery, but when they drew the No. 5 pick, they decided to ship it to new Wolves GM David Kahn for immediate help. Kahn sent Randy Foye and Mike Miller to the Wizards, who figured Foye (the No. 7 pick in 2006) was ready for a breakout and would be better than anyone available at No. 5.
Kahn then took heat for drafting two point guards, Rubio and Jonny Flynn, back-to-back. And Rubio’s people were very hesitant to send him to the Wolves, a perennial loser; Rubio subsequently re-signed with his team in Spain. Meanwhile, the Wizards were expecting a big 2009-10 season, with Gilbert Arenas back from knee surgery and ready to regain the form that made him dangerous at both ends.
Well, we know what happened. Gilbert brought his guns to the arena five months later and the Wizards crumbled. At least they grabbed the No. 1 pick in the next lottery, and Wall had a promising rookie year. But Wall has regressed, especially his shooting. He made only 3-of-10 against the Wolves and two of those were dunks. Plus, the Wizards fell to 0-8. Rick Kamla of NBA TV had an interesting question: If you were starting an NBA team today, would you want Rubio or Wall?
Afterward, Wolves coach Rick Adelman was asked when Rubio — who has started the season by playing every second of every fourth quarter — was going to be promoted to starter.
“I get real tired of answering that,” he said. “He’s doing just fine.”
Fine enough that one Verizon Center press room wag commented on how Rubio, at first glance, makes his teammates better while Wall doesn’t. The Wolves, by the way, have seven players on their roster who were top-six lottery picks. The Wizards’ only other player chosen that high is last summer’s No. 6 pick, Jan Vesely.
“If it had been Rubio, who knows, John Wall might not have been here,” Washington coach Flip Saunders said, referring to that 2009 trade the Wizards hoped would bolster a team that at the time included Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. “There were a lot of things that went into the whole equation.”
Rubio said Sunday he is happy where he is.
“I don’t know, Minnesota was the team that drafted me and I don’t think anything else,” Rubio said. “They were the ones who trusted me and I’m so glad they did.”
Rubio is only a month younger than Wall, but he was just 17 when he started for the silver-medal-winning team from Spain in the 2008 Olympics. He also won a Euroleague title with FC Barcelona in 2010 and won the Spanish League title last season. Rubio didn’t put up great numbers in Europe or in the European championships last summer, but he has found an NBA game that is more compatible to his style of play.
“Here, you can find more space to penetrate and for passes,” Rubio said. “I don’t want to say I played bad last year. My team won almost everything, so I did something well, right? So that’s teamwork and sometimes you don’t need to shine for your team to win.”
Oh, and speaking of teams off to a poor start, the Nets are still optimistic about re-signing Deron Williams next summer, when he becomes a free agent. And if Williams does sign up, would Dwight Howard follow? That’s a good bet, because while this is a big man’s league, Howard wants and needs a point guard to make him look even better.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’d be remiss here at Hang Time if we didn’t review a pair of returns Wednesday night, Rip Hamilton in Detroit and Rashard Lewis in Orlando. For completely different reasons, both players made their mark on those franchises before moving on, mainly because those franchises didn’t want them anymore.
Let’s get to Rip first. He led the Pistons to the 2004 title and a string of deep playoff runs last decade before the team around him crumbled. And then he was bought out and waived by Detroit and fell into the lap of the Bulls, thrilled to have a guard with a nasty mid-range jumper playing next to Derrick Rose. Well, Rip was warmly welcomed back to the Palace — by all six fans who showed up (actually, the announced crowd was 9,125. For the Bulls. Yeesh. Remember when The Palace was always filled with 20,000 strong?). It was a surreal sight for Rip, if only because the atmosphere was far different during the glory years, but times have changed for Rip and the Pistons, as we see.
What few fans showed up for the Pistons’ 99-83 loss to Chicago gave Richard Hamilton a warm round of applause tonight at the Palace.
Public address announcer John Mason described him as the longtime shooting guard.
Before the game Hamilton chatted with Austin Daye, and just before tip-off went over to the Detroit bench and hugged Rodney Stuckey, trainer Mike Abdenour, assistant coach Brian Hill and coach Lawrence Frank. He spent a lot of time at half-court afterward greeting his former teammates.
Hamilton said every time he looked up into the Palace rafters he saw his name — alongside those of Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Corliss Williamson, Elden Campbell, Mehmet Okur, Rahseed Wallace, Chauncey Billups and the rest of the group that brought a title back to Detroit in 2004.
He faced his old team for the first time since being waived and bought out of his contract last month.
“It was fun,” said Hamilton, who scored seven of his 14 points in the third quarter and played through a sore left groin while racking up five assists and three rebounds. “I couldn’t wait for the ball to be thrown up. There was a lot of emotion early in the game, being on the visitor’s side and not being accustomed to it in this building. It was difficult. I said. ‘Man, please don’t start crying or anything crazy.’
“The fans appreciate what I did here. They’ve always been supportive of me. Even when things weren’t going well they’d always chant my name. I have a lot of love for them. It’s tough to see this place half empty. I think when Chauncey and Rahseed and I were here they had sellouts for seven straight years.”