Posts Tagged ‘jan vesely’

Wizards Putting Challenge To Vesely, Singleton

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LAS VEGAS – Oscar nominees aren’t asked to audition much for their next plum film roles and the most established NBA players don’t have to mess with the casting calls of their professions, which at the moment is the Las Vegas Summer League.

The trick sometimes is knowing when you’ve earned big-shot status and when you haven’t.

Jan Vesely, the Washington Wizards’ third-year big man and the No. 6 pick in the 2011 Draft, arrived for summer league with much to prove and lacking maybe the right attitude to do so. Reportedly, the 6-foot-11 native of the Czech Republic, the fellow with the fat European resume but meager NBA accomplishments, somehow felt this July hoops rodeo was beneath him.

Whatever that meant – that Vegas games weren’t worthy of his full effort or maybe that his commitment to the Czech national team after this ends deserved a higher priority – it was the wrong way to begin a pivotal offseason. As the Washington Post‘s Michael Lee reported after the Wizards’ season ended, working on his game was important, yet second on Vesely’s to-do list.

“He needs to work on his head first,” [head coach Randy] Wittman said. The Wizards showed their confidence in Vesely before his second season began, when they picked up his option for the 2013-14 season worth $3.34 million. But at no point after did Vesely show that he shared their faith. Vesely regressed in every statistical category and barely finished with more points (126) and rebounds (122) than personal fouls (107).

Chris Singleton, a 6-foot-8 Florida State product selected 12 spots after Vesely in that draft, took a dip in his second season, too. Instead of playing 21.7 minutes nightly for Washington, he slipped to 16.2 and his scoring and rebounding dropped as well. He shot 38.2 percent and after shooting 34.6 percent (44-for-127) from 3-point range as a rookie, Singleton took 36 from the arc and made only seven. Like Vesely, Singleton’s $1.6 million guarantee for 2012-13 might be the end of the line in Washington unless the Wizards lock him in for another season.

From the team’s side, the two forwards represent a commitment of almost $7 million for next year that has to be evaluated by next spring. Starting now.

“As they walked in, they’d done this before, they might say ‘Why me?’ ” said Wizards assistant coach Don Newman, who worked the sideline Wednesday of a 90-83 loss to Memphis at the Thomas & Mack Center. “But your franchise wants you to be better and wants to count on you. They have to look at it as, hey, this is your job. Your job is to get better and this is a venue you ought to be getting better in. That’s how you’ve got to take it.”

Because they came out in 2011, Vesely and Singleton – and all rookies – missed summer league that year due to the NBA lockout. Playing in Las Vegas or Orlando twice isn’t that uncommon, but if a player begins to think of himself as more proven than he is, it can take harsh reality or straight talk to get them to reconsider.

These two got a little of both. Neither played all that well in Washington’s first couple of days here, and several members of the coaching staff put the challenge directly to them.

“Absolutely. We do that daily,” Newman said. ” ‘We’re not putting you guys out here to embarrass you. We’re putting you out here to sharpen up and get better.’ Sometimes you have to put your arm around ‘em and sometimes you’ve got to kick ‘em in the butt.

“They’ve been to this dance a few times. We’re looking for them to be a lot better. That’s the story for both Ves and Chris. We want them to be able to be counted on.”

Vesely had 15 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes against Memphis while Singleton finished with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 29 minutes. But a real test came late, when Newman sent them back into the game with 4:12 left, the Wizards down 11. The pair had been part of a minor comeback early in the quarter, but it also was the sort of substitution made to gauge the players’ response, on and off the court.

Both played hard, Washington whittled the lead down briefly and the Wizards afterward sounded as if they were on the same page.

“I saw yesterday and a couple days ago, there was a good chance to see how I was working out the last month,” Vesely said. “After this summer I can sit down and see what I have to improve more and work on.”

Said Singleton: “I had some things I needed to work on. I wanted to come here and show ‘em. I had a rough couple days but I think it’s starting to pick up.”

All right then. Newman, the rest of the staff and the Washington front office knew what it was doing.

“Absolutely,” the assistant coach said. “Because they should be the ones carrying the torch and that’s why I did that. And they know it. In their demeanor, I think they understand and I think they want to be better.”

Wizards Leaning Toward Using Amnesty Clause On Blatche

The Washington Wizards are leaning toward using the amnesty provision by Tuesday’s deadline to waive forward Andray Blatche, according to league sources.

The Wizards have not made a final decision on the move. Teams have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to decide whether they’ll use the amnesty provision for the upcoming season. If they don’t, they cannot use it again until next July. Teams are only allowed to use the provision once during the life of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Players that are waived under the provision can be claimed by teams under the salary cap for the upcoming season. The team that submits the highest bid gets the player. If Blatche were to be waived, teams would have to submit a minimum bid of $3.79 million for him — which represents the sum of the minimum salaries a player with Blatche’s experience would receive over the next three years, the remaining length of his contract.

Washington is still wavering on whether using the amnesty provision — and writing Blatche a check for the remaining $23 million on his contract. The Wizards have been trying to deal Blatche since the end of the season, but haven’t found any deals to their liking.

They could also keep Blatche on the roster but keep him away from the team while they continue to pursue trades or, perhaps, a contract buyout, in the same way the Indiana Pacers kept guard Jamaal Tinsley at arm’s length for a year before finally reaching a settlement on his contract.

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Wizards Undecided On Blatche Amnesty



The first day that NBA teams are officially allowed to sign free agents and make trades is also the first day of the six-day window where teams are allowed to use the amnesty provision to cut players and remove them from their salary cap. The Washington Wizards are still undecided about whether to use the amnesty provision on one of the top league-wide candidates, forward Andray Blatche, according to sources.

Washington is exploring several options for Blatche, who has fallen out of favor both with fans in D.C. and with the organization after signing a contract extension in 2010 that reworked his existing contract into a five-year deal worth $35 million. The Wizards could opt for amnesty, which would remove the remaining $23 million the team owes Blatche from its salary cap, freeing up resources that the team will need in the next few years to extend players like John Wall and this year’s first-round pick, Bradley Beal.

The Wizards could trade Blatche immediately. Or, they could continue to explore trade options while removing Blatche from the daily workings of the team–in essence, paying him his salary to stay away. The Pacers used a similar strategy in 2008, forcing guard Jamaal Tinsley to sit out the whole season while not playing after he clashed with then-coach Rick Carlisle and the organization.

But asking owner Ted Leonsis to write that $23 million check is a big ask, sources allow, even though Blatche is not in the team’s future plans. The Wizards have remade their power forward group in the last year and a half, drafting Jan Vesely with the sixth pick in the 2011 Draft and acquiring Emeka Okafor from New Orleans last month (along with small forward Trevor Ariza) for Rashard Lewis. Second-year forward Trevor Booker also played extremely effectively in spots the last couple of years. Washington has Ariza and Chris Singleton penciled in to take the lion’s share of minutes at small forward. (more…)

Get To Know The New Guys

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) – The days after the NBA Draft are the time for fans and reporters to get to know their team’s new players.

Team executives, of course, have nothing but good things to say about the guys they picked. They’re quick to tell you that they had the player(s) higher on their draft board than the spot at which they were actually selected.

These players will prove some of the executives right, and they’ll prove some of them wrong. For now, let’s just learn about the league’s new faces…

Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer takes us back to the childhood of No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving, in a must-read profile

Though he is just 19, his life already has been filled with sadness and success. There have been many changes and an equal number of accomplishments thanks in large part to his father, Drederick, known as Dred.

“After my name was called [Thursday], I wanted to hug my father for 10 minutes, knowing that all the hard work had led to this moment,” Irving said.

Irving, who promised his father he would earn his degree in five years, comes across as intelligent, polite and mature for his age. His father calls him an “old soul.” On Thursday at the NBA draft in New Jersey, and then again on Friday in Cleveland, that father stayed mostly in the background watching and trying to come to terms with what has happened.

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Rookies Say The Darndest Things

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’ve got dreamers, late-bloomers, trail blazers and twins, oh and at least two guys — Kyrie Irving and to a lesser extent Derrick Williams — who are supposed to be franchise saviors.

The NBA Draft is the gift that just keeps on giving, year after year and player after player. The 2011 edition was no different, with tons of colorful sorts from lands near and far joining the party.

The rookies, whether they realize it or not, will probably never be more entertaining than they are right now and in the next few months, when all of this is still new to them, before they are no longer blinded by the lights, cameras and non-stop action that is the daily grind of NBA life.

Of course, we are not talking about Wizards rookie Jan Vesely, who seemed more than a little bit comfortable with the bright lights shining on him and his girlfriend, Eva Kodouskova, on draft night.

But even without the cameras around, the new guys can’t help but make you smile. Because rookies say the darndest things sometimes. After spending a few days with them leading up to the big night, we gathered a couple of examples to share with you:

“Well, I truly believe that Duke is a professional program.  The way we prepare, practice, we practice like professionals and that’s what he taught me and that’s what I’m going to carry to the next level is how to prepare like a professional:  Countless hours of film, breaking things down in practice, preparing for the next team, thoroughly.  There’s not one team that I thought we were unprepared for, even when I was hurt.

“So being a part of the Duke program and shadowing the coaches when I was hurt, I really learned a lot how to prepare like a professional.  When I was playing it was a little different, because things were happening really fast.  But when I was hurt, things ‑‑ it slowed down for me.  So I really got a chance to learn from them, learn from the coaches especially.”

– Irving on why Duke is such a great training ground for future professionals

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Big (Man) Issues To Address

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – No offense to Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesely or Bismack Biyombo, the biggest of the big men drafted in the top 10 of Thursday night’s Draft, but they are not the biggest name international post players that we’ll be keeping our eyes on in the coming weeks.

Sure, without a summer league to watch them perform in that makes it a little tougher to track their immediate progress, and there’s no telling when we’ll see Valanciunas in his Raptors uniform.

But there are two other NBA bigs that will have our undivided attention as we head into an uncertain July. Nuggets center Nene and Grizzlies center Marc Gasol are the headliners in a free agent class whose star power and depth pales in comparison to the flashy class of 2010 (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Joe Johnson, etc.), a group still awaiting word on a new collective bargaining agreement before they can begin the process of deciding their futures.

As promising as that international crop of big men from the draft is supposed to be, and Valanciunas is considered by most the best long-term big man from the 2011 class, none of them will be as valuable as either Nene has been and could be to the Nuggets or Gasol has been and could be to the Grizzlies.

We are talking about two low-post anchors for Western Conference playoff teams, as opposed to long-range projects that no one is sure will be impact players in the league anytime soon.

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Vlade Divac Hearts Jan Vesely

CLEVELAND – Any excuse to talk with historically great guy Vlade Divac is great, of course. But with the Draft approaching on Thursday and Jan Vesely heading to the top 10 (and possibly the top three), suddenly Divac becomes a Vesely expert like few others.

As a member of the board of directors of Partizan Belgrade, the team in Serbia that Vesely plays for, Divac has watched the 21-year-old athletic force about 30 times the last two seasons. He has talked to him about the NBA life ahead. He has told Vesely he hopes he ends up in Vlade’s beloved Sacramento at No. 7, an outside possibility but a chance nonetheless. And in conversations with Wayne Cooper, Divac said he has steered clear of trying to influence the No. 2 man in basketball operations for the Kings, but an endorsement of the prospect undoubtedly came through.

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Eurocamp: Day 3

TREVISO, Italy – I came, I saw, I worked nonstop and absolutely, positively did not enjoy the food and beverage of the land or dine al fresco along a charming piazza on a perfectly breezy evening or have nightcaps of tiramisu and gelato. Although it would be OK if I did since one place was recommended by a general manager, so that counts as work.

There were productive days all around. The adidas Eurocamp that ended Monday was as successful as could be expected for the 30 teams represented at the largest annual international pre-Draft gathering, considering most of the players likely headed to the lottery June 23 declined to participate and two of the biggest names, Bismack Biyombo and Donatas Motiejunas, both had underwhelming individual workouts. But Jonas Valanciunas, Biyombo and Montiejunas at least met with teams, some in repeat visits, to allow executives to get a better sense of the players’ personalities.

Valanciunas confirmed earlier in the day, the deadline to withdraw from the draft, that he gave no consideration to pulling out, contrary to guessing that wrongly passed as guessing in some media outlets. His buyout terms are still being discussed and has become a source of concern for teams not interested in spending a top-five pick for a center who isn’t coming to the NBA for at least a year, but no one in a position to know ever expected a different outcome.

“It’s the 11th Commandment,” said one front-office official in attendance. “They just found it: Greed is undefeated.”

Meaning a difficult negotiation is expected to be completed before the draft to generate a financial windfall for Valanciunas and his team in Lithuania. He could be picked as soon as No. 4 to Cleveland.

Other news, notes and observations from the third and final day:

  • Lucas Nogueira, a possibility for the first round, was the biggest name to pull out on deadline day, agreeing with the assessment from teams he is not close to being physically ready for the NBA. Nogueira said he plans to be in the 2012 draft.
  • The top international prospects – Motiejunas, Biyombo, Valanciunas and Enes Kanter, who has stayed in the United States after a freshman year at Kentucky – all do well with English and most are engaging. There will not be any communications problems. I have not talked with Jan Vesely.
  • One executive was walking past in the gym. He stopped and turned. “Good triumphs over evil,” he said, smirking. Meaning Mavericks over Heat. Distaste for Miami and the coordinated effort to add LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Dwyane Wade isn’t just for fans and the media.
  • Opinions remain as unsettled as before the camp on the top international prospect in a draft when five players with overseas backgrounds could go in the top 10. Most picks are for Vesely or Valanciunas, with lesser support for the others, even if Kanter may be the first off the board with the Jazz known to be seriously considering him. One executive called Valanciunas “a future franchise center.”