Mark Jackson didn’t declare a winner in the Presidential election Wednesday. He shared no thoughts on the Dow Jones index soaring beyond 15,000 or cratering down to four figures. He wasn’t drawn into a debate with any leftover Mayans about the world ending Dec. 21 vs. some specific date a bit later.
But mostly, the Golden State Warriors coach was careful in a session with Bay Area NBA reporters not to predict a playoff berth for his basketball team. A year ago, Jackson didn’t show such restraint, arriving as a rookie coach and assuring fans that the postseason was a gimme.
“No, I’m not going to say it,” the Warriors coach told the media folks, including Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. “Not because I don’t believe it, but ultimately there comes a point where, enough of the talking, go out and do it.”
Ten different coaches have managed just one Warriors playoff berth since the start of the 1994-95 season. That came in 2007, when Don Nelson’s No. 8 seeded team upset Dallas in the first round before losing to Utah in the West semis. Golden State had missed the playoffs for 12 years till then, and is up to five years in its current drought.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Faith and passion are things Golden State Warriors fans have always possessed in surplus. And they’ll be tested in both categories this season as they hold their collective breath when training camp begins and they finally see exactly what their team will look like in the flesh.
There is so much to like on paper, with offensive firepower in nearly every direction.
Steph Curry is reportedly healthy and healed, ready to get back on the court and resume his rise. Youngsters like Klay Thompson and rookie Harrison Barnes have extremely high ceilings. David Lee and his non-stop motor is always ready to go. And veteran role players like Jarrett Jack, Richard Jefferson, Carl Landry, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush will provide the quality depth coach Mark Jackson needs to deliver on the promise for the future the franchise is selling.
That leaves one glaring question mark for the Warriors, one that only Andrew Bogut‘s body can answer.
If he’s ready this season, whenever he returns to action from the ankle injury that has sidelined him for the past eight months, the Warriors could be ready to take the next step. If not, well … Warriors fans know the refrain better than most.
Bogut knows that this is a pivotal year in his career, too. A fresh start after an up and down seven-season stretch in Milwaukee. When healthy, he was among the best big men in the league and a true defensive anchor for a playoff-caliber team. But Bogut has played in all 82 games just once in his career, way back in his rookie season.
Q: Do you have a sense about how this team is going to play?
-BOGUT: It’s hard right now. But obviously we’re going to be a scoring team. We have some flat-out scorers on our team–Steph and Klay and Harrison Barnes is a scorer, too. He can be very aggressive. David Lee and myself. The list goes on. Richard Jefferson as well.
I think our focus isn’t going to be offense so much in training camp. That’s what we’re focused on in these drills we’re doing in the preseason, there’s a lot of defensive focus.
That’s been a weakness here not just last season but for a number of years–the defense wasn’t a priority. So we’re trying to change that.
We know you’re not going to win many games and even if you do, you’re not going to win many playoff series scoring 110 points a game. That’s just not going to happen.
The math and the numbers and the stats say if you can grind down teams, keep them under 100, generally you’ve got a good chance to win.
-Q: How much of that is on you?
-BOGUT: A lot of it, yeah. Definitely a lot of it. I can be the vocal point in the paint, can see the whole floor and talk and communicate, block shots, take charges.
But the other thing we struggled with last year, when we did get stops, we didn’t get the rebound. I think we were the second-worst defensive rebounding team in the league. So it doesn’t make sense to work hard, get the stop and then Dwight Howard gets a tip-in. It kind of demoralizes the whole feel.
So that’s on me and David Lee to make sure we get those defensive rebounds.
-Q: You bring up Howard. What’d you think when Dwight and [Steve] Nash end up in LA?
HANG TIME WEST – It would have been a big deal no matter what. Many of the Western Conference teams at the bottom of the 2012 postseason pack or those trying to push into the playoffs have improved, and so Golden State had to get better as well just to keep up.
But it’s a bigger deal than just that with the belief, stated just before the draft, that a rookie general manager with zero track record in a front office needed a good first impression. Bob Myers, new as a personnel boss, pretty new in any management role after years as a prominent agent, needed some quick credibility in a market that has grown increasingly, and understandably, frustrated by letdown.
He got it.
The Warriors did well in the draft by adding Harrison Barnes at No. 7 as the possible starting small forward, Festus Ezeli at 30 for a need at backup center, and Draymond Green in the second round for his forward versatility and experience as a four-year player at Michigan State. They needed a backup power forward and signed Carl Landry. They needed a backup point guard and traded for Jarrett Jack. They re-signed Brandon Rush.
It was not the perfect summer – they were aiming for Dion Waiters in the draft, but he went fourth to the Cavaliers, and no addition to significantly help heal the defense. (In-season arrival Andrew Bogut can be considered the new addition in that regard.) But it has been a good one. (more…)
LAS VEGAS – With the events of Thursday night in Aurora, Colo., hanging over the crowd, the Denver Nuggets closed out their Summer League with a 95-82 loss to the Trail Blazers.
After a moment of silence to honor those killed in the tragic shooting in Colorado, Nuggets players donned black headbands to pay their respects to those suffering in the Denver suburb.
On the court, the Nuggets’ Jordan Hamilton capped off a stellar Summer League with an 18-point, eight-assist performance. The second-year guard out of Texas finished by averaging 19.2 points, 6.4 rebounds in Denver’s five games as he looks to have more of an impact entering his second season.
Non-rookie of the day: Josh Selby, Grizzlies. Memphis’ second-year guard took back the scoring lead with a 32-point outing in the Grizzlies’ 97-79 win over the Bobcats. Selby, who could see a more involved role this year with the departure of O.J. Mayo, hit seven 3-pointers and finished 9-for-14 overall. Other notables: Malcolm Thomas, Bulls. The second-year big man out of SDSU continues to dominate on the boards, notching his third double-double in as many games. Thomas had 12 points and 16 rebounds to bring his averages to 10.7 points and a Summer League-leading 14.0 rebounds.
Roy picked Minnesota over Dallas, Indiana, Golden State and Cleveland, which had gotten into his list of finalists, according to his agent, Greg Lawrence. Roy had originally considered the Bulls, but Chicago fell out of the running due to the severe limits on its payroll in the next few years. Derrick Rose‘s $95 million contract extension kicks in next season and the Bulls still owe Carlos Boozer $47 million over the next three seasons and Luol Deng $27 million over the next two. Chicago would not have been able to offer Roy anything more than the $3.09 million non-taxpayer’s cap exception next season, and the Bulls were put further under the gun earlier this week when the Rockets gave reserve center Omer Asik a commitment for a three-year, $25 million offer sheet, which Chicago will have three days to match when the free-agent moratorium ends next week.
Under the new amnesty rules, Roy could not re-sign with Portland even if he wanted to until the 2014-15 season, because the Trail Blazers were the team that waived him last December under the new amnesty provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Portland had to pay the remaining $63 million of Roy’s salary. After no one claimed Roy off waivers, he became an unrestricted free agent.
The Timberwolves were extremely aggressive in their pursuit of Roy, sending a party including owner Glen Taylor, team president of basketball operations David Kahn and coach Rick Adelman to visit Roy in Seattle last weekend. In addition, Roy was, and is, extremely close with Wolves assistant coach Bill Bayno, who had worked with him and with former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden tirelessly while an assistant in Portland. Bayno worked Roy out in the spring and said Roy looked almost like the old player that was a three-time All-Star for the Blazers, though he didn’t have quite the lift or explosiveness he had before.
The Wolves have been looking for a permanent solution at shooting guard for years, having gotten little consistency from players like Martell Webster or former first-round picks Wes Johnson and Wayne Ellington. Roy will take some of the scoring burden off of both All-Star Kevin Love and point guard Ricky Rubio, who’ll be returning from a torn ACL next season. But Roy will likely not be a 30 to 35-minute player any more. The Blazers tried to limit his minutes and bring him off the bench when he returned in the 2011 season, but the arrangement frustrated Roy.
NEWARK – The University of Kentucky basketball program has had a pretty good year.
The Wildcats capped off a 38-2 season with a national championship on April 2. And Thursday, Kentucky became the first program in history to produce the top two picks of the NBA Draft.
We’ve known for quite some time that Anthony Davis would be the No. 1 pick. And a month ago, we learned that the New Orleans Hornets would be the lucky team to get him.
But then the Charlotte Bobcats surprised us a little by selecting Davis’ teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the No. 2 pick. To do that, the Cats passed on Thomas Robinson, who most draftniks had pegged as going second.
Charlotte, of course, needed help at every position and on both ends of the floor. There were multiple reports that they discussed trading the pick, but they apparently decided to keep it, and they apparently decided that Kidd-Gilchrist was the second-best player in the draft.
“It’s crazy,” Davis said of he and his teammate going 1-2. “Michael is a great player. We have two down and four more to go.”
The four more Wildcats followed: Terrence Jones went to Houston at No. 18, Marquis Teague went at No. 29 to Chicago, Doron Lamb at No. 42 to Milwaukee, and Darius Miller at No. 46 to New Orleans (where he’ll join Davis).
HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – As Draft time rolls around and we learn about the next class of NBA rookies, there’s a desire to compare each to players we’re already familiar with.
No two players are exactly alike and some players are more unique than others. But you can find comparisons by watching video, crunching stats or matching measurements. For this exercise, we did the latter two.
Listed below are four of the top picks, along with the current NBA players they compare with most. For this exercise, we looked at 10 stats from each player’s last season in college, and eight measurements taken at the annual pre-draft combine.
Because we used college numbers and combine numbers, the only current players we could compare this year’s prospects to were the ones who played in college (so no LeBron James or Dwight Howard) and participated in the combine since 2000 (Rajon Rondo is one notable name missing in that respect).
The following comparisons aren’t gospel, of course, but they’re one way to get read for the draft on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). (more…)
NEW YORK – From Syracuse and from out of hiding, and apparently via a stop at a school for budding comedians, Dion Waiters insisted he has not received a draft promise for Thursday night and that he has no idea what teams are interested in taking him in the lottery.
In other news, wanna buy the Brooklyn Bridge?
It was obviously just a coincidence that Waiters left in the middle of the Chicago pre-draft camp, that he canceled all scheduled workouts, and that Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo, one of the many executives trying to get Waiters in for a visit, flat out said agent Rob Pelinka told him Waiters had a promise. Plus, while every prospect except presumptive No. 1 pick Anthony Davis was city hopping for team workouts, Waiters said he never once asked his representatives why he was nowhere.
But, no promise.
“No,” he said Wednesday at a Manhattan hotel the day before the draft in Newark, N.J. “I didn’t. I wish I did.
HANG TIME TEXAS – So what do you think: Andre Drummond to L.A. with the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft and Harrison Barnes to the Dallas at No. 2?
After all, two days into a rapid-fire schedule already finds the Lakers and Mavericks a combined 0-4 and fans in two NBA cities walking toward the cliff.
In those old black-and-white monster movies, this is the scene where Dr. Frankenstein barricades himself inside his laboratory while the villagers come storming angrily up the path carrying lit torches.
But really, does anyone need reminding that it might be just a bit early to be reaching for the panic button? After all, though we’re talking about a couple of veteran teams that have made significant roster changes.
The defending champion Mavs are missing six different faces from the combination that was responsible for hoisting that banner on Christmas Day at the American Airlines Center, while the Lakers are learning to adjust to life without Lamar Odom, missing the suspended Andrew Bynum and mixing in a newc oach.
“No,” he said after seeing the Kings finish the night on an 11-4 run to blow back open a game that Sacramento had led by as many as 15 in the fourth quarter before the Lakers cut it to just two with 4:24 remaining.
Bryant, who preached positivity Sunday after the Lakers had a different set of fourth-quarter difficulties as they blew an 11-point fourth quarter lead against the Chicago Bulls, did his best to maintain a sunny outlook.
“It will kick in,” Bryant said. “There’s a certain amount of repetitions I guess. I don’t read those damn books (but they say) there’s a certain amount of repetitions you have to go through and we’ll go through them and we’ll be better.”