Posts Tagged ‘Jason Richardson’

Morning shootaround — Aug. 16


VIDEO: The Starters discuss the Rockets’ acquisition of Ty Lawson, who is welcomed by Harden

NEWS OF THE MORNING

‘Red Mamba’ turns superhero DJ | Tskitishvili seeks NBA comeback | NBA dreams vs. European careers | Rockets’ Harden welcomes Lawson

No. 1: ‘Red Mamba’ turns superhero DJ — Generally here at the Hang Time HQ, we try to focus these Morning Shootarounds on topics around the Association that pack significant news value or delve into the NBA’s many fascinating feature angles. Every once in a while, though, we have to present something for no better reason than its goofiness. And of course, the photos and/or video it generates on social media. So without further ado, here’s an update from Complex.com on veteran San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner, his alter ego “Red Mamba,” and how he spent his Saturday at the Rock On Festival back home in Concord, N.H., commemorating that city’s 250th anniversary. It is worth noting that the executive director of the Rock On Foundation, which presented the free one-day festival, is Matt’s brother Luke:

San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner nicknames himself as “The Red Mamba.” This is likely because of two reasons: First, he perfectly fits the prototype for the old term “redheaded stepchild.” Second, the nickname “Black Mamba” was already taken.
But Bonner apparently compensates in deejaying— and creating ridiculous costumes— for what he lacks in originality when creating self-donned monikers. The two-time NBA champion dressed up like a caped crusader and deejayed a set at Concord, New Hampshire’s annual Rock On Festival.
Surely, he’s no DJ Premier nor Kid Capri, but according to the Twitter reactions from this event, The Red Mamba made his hometown crowd proud as they danced to his selections ranging from artists like The Isley Brothers, Taylor Swift, David Bowie, to Outkast.

***

No. 2: Tskitishvili seeks NBA comeback — When we last saw Nikoloz Tskitishvili, he was being waived out of the NBA in July 2006, a few months past his 23rd birthday. The slender 7-footer selected No. 5 overall by Denver in 2002 was considered a draft bust then and now, nine years after his fifth NBA team gave up on him, he regularly appears on lists of the biggest flops in league history. Unlike a lot of those unfortunate (and undeniably talented) fellows, though, Tskitishvili is still of a mind and body to do something to change opinions. At least, that’s why he was in Las Vegas, hoping to attract interest via Summer League for an NBA comeback. That’s where Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post caught up with older, wiser former phenom:

His body is bigger and leaner. He’s smarter. He’s much more mature.
Nikoloz Tskitishvili is trying to convince his lunch guest at the Hard Rock Hotel that he should get another chance in the NBA, listing the reasons this time will be different.

“I just turned 32, but I’m better,” he said. “I’m better at this age. I got stronger. I’ve got confidence. I got smarter.”

And, as Tskitishvili admits, he did little in his three seasons in Denver to convince anyone he belonged on an NBA court. He averaged 3.2 points and 1.9 rebounds and shot 30 percent in 143 games. He was 19 years old, a 7-footer lean and not close to being ready mentally and physically for the NBA when the Nuggets drafted him. Thirteen years later, he still carries the burden of failed expectations.
“It’s very tough to make that decision, to draft a young guy with no experience, not ready physically, mentally,” Tskitishvili said. “You risk a lot. They trusted me so much, but I didn’t give them a chance.”

Kiki Vandeweghe, then the Nuggets’ general manager, made the call that would haunt the franchise.

“I feel like it was my fault, not Kiki’s fault,” Tskitishvili said. “I had to take care of myself better and stay patient. I should have listened to him. I used to tell him: ‘I want to get traded. I want to get a new chance.’ He was against that. This is why I respect that guy. He liked me, he loved me and I should have listened to him.”

Vandeweghe was in his first year as Denver’s GM.

“We had a lot of things going on at that time,” Vandeweghe said in a phone interview. “We had the Nene-Antonio McDyess (trade) with the Knicks. We had about five other deals that were close to happening. We had one other small deal. And then focused on the draft. I had not seen Skita play basketball in person. And so that’s not something that I probably would repeat ever, drafting somebody I hadn’t seen.”

Tskitishvili was in Las Vegas recently for summer-league play. He continues to show up nine years after he last played in the league, hoping for a longshot chance to prove his worth.

“I’m 100 times better than I was,” he said. “It’s just very difficult for teams to understand that, because they are looking at the number, the age. If you ask me, this is the best shape I’ve ever been in and the best I’ve been playing in my career.”

And if he got to choose a team to make his comeback? Yes, it would be the Nuggets.

“If I could get a chance to show that it was not a mistake …” he said, his voice trailing.

***

No. 3: NBA dreams vs. European careers — Tskitishvili was a Euro prospect who got a chance, however pressurized, to chase his dream of playing in the world’s greatest basketball league. But a lot of players in Orlando and Las Vegas in the offseason face the flip side of that dynamic, deciding between their pursuit of an NBA dream vs. a legitimate livelihood playing the game overseas. Our own Ian Thomsen delved into that quandary through the eyes and experiences of one such player in particular, undrafted Davidson product Tyler Kalinoski. It’s worth checking out the full story here on NBA.com, but here are some highlights:

“I don’t know if scary is the right word,” he was saying. “It’s a game of chess, of making the right moves. You never know what is going to be the right decision.”

Kalinoski, a high-energy 6-4 guard, was used to exceeding expectations. As Davidson’s final recruit four years ago — discovered at the last minute when a higher-rated player failed to qualify academically — he had risen to become the Atlantic 10 player of the year while contributing in all areas. He had always seemed to know where he was going, even if others failed to recognize his potential. But this next step was something different.

“In college you know where you’re going to be,” Kalinoski said. “But now, really for the first time in my life, I have no idea what I’m going to be doing next year. So it’s exciting because of all the possibilities. But I’m also getting kind of anxious about where I’m going to be.”

He was surrounded by all kinds of virtual doorways. Several of them led directly to a variety of career paths in Europe — two professional clubs in Belgium, one in Italy, another in France. Those clubs were pursuing him, and he was grateful for their interest; but at the same time, what intrigued him most of all were the less-welcoming portals that might lead to a career in the NBA. He had gone undrafted in June, he knew the NBA was a longshot, and still he did not want to walk away from the possibility.

He was 22 years old, with a face that looked even younger. He was wearing with pride the red cap and T-shirt that had been supplied by his Summer League team, the Miami Heat. He was setting out on his own with more questions than answers.

Was he going to go play in Europe? Or hold out for the NBA?

One of [agent Kenny] Grant‘s specialties was to help young American players make the most complicated decision: To choose the fork in the road that separated the dream of playing in the NBA from the reality of a career in Europe. The strategy for Kalinoski entering his first summer of professional basketball was to create maximum exposure on both sides of the ocean. Summer League was the perfect venue because it was swarming with European coaches and executives in addition to the host NBA teams.

“We are willing to ride with whatever Tyler wants to do,” Grant said. “We give our advice, but we respect that people have their dream. If it works, if it doesn’t work, we’re okay with it either way. We will go forward with what we have. You don’t want someone to go forward with regrets.”

During the opening weekend of Summer League in Orlando, the coach of the French club Elan Chalon wanted to speak with Kalinoski. Their meeting went well, and Chalon became Kalinoski’s most aggressive and persistent recruiter.

“Some people go to Europe and they’re really happy playing there,” Grant said. “Others, it’s not for them. With these European teams, if you don’t show interest, they’re gone.”

***

No. 4: Rockets’ Harden welcomes Lawson — Most of the Houston Rockets players, coaches and executives, and certainly the vast majority of their fans, have only unanswered questions about Ty Lawson and what the troubled former Denver Nuggets point guard might bring to their team this season. But Houston’s All-Star guard James Harden feels he already has a few answers and believes in Lawson as a solid acquisition because he had a chance to meet up with him in California recently. He spoke to the Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen over the weekend about it:

Harden and new Rockets guard Ty Lawson “spent some time together,” enough for Harden to be convinced that his new teammate will overcome his off-court issues and be a valuable addition to the Rockets’ backcourt.

“Ty is definitely going to help us,” Harden said during a break in the Kroger Unplug and Play James Harden Basketball ProCamp in The Woodlands on Saturday. “He gives us that quickness, that speed, playmaking ability, something that we were missing, especially deep in the playoffs. We’re going to welcome him with open arms. We’re happy to have him.”

Lawson completed a 30-day rehabilitation program ordered after his second DUI arrest this year. Harden said he has already spent enough time with Lawson to be “not at all” concerned that Lawson will have similar issues.

“He’s out in California right now working out,” Harden said. “We’re happy to have him. He’s going to be a great addition to our team. I’ve been with him these last couple weeks. He’s more focused than ever. He has a great opportunity with a really good team to showcase his talents and help us with that push that we need.”

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: He’s no Deron Williams, at least not the Williams who used to make NBA All-Star teams, but journeyman Jarrett Jack will be logging more minutes at point guard for the Brooklyn Nets in Williams’ absence. And he feels ready for a greater leadership role. … Veteran guard Jason Richardson, at 34, isn’t getting any guarantees but he will get a contract with and a serious look from the Atlanta Hawks. … Former Miami wing Dorrell Wright still is on the Heat’s radar. … When Michael Jordan signed his first Nike endorsement deal for $2.5 million, the shoe-and-apparel company required a opt-out clause if the NBA newcomer didn’t translate into profits. Thirty years later, the Jordan Brand – generating an estimated $2.5 billion in annual revenues – will get its own store in Chicago. …

NBA TV to air Dunk-a-thon today


VIDEO: Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan remember the 1988 Dunk Contest

HANG TIME BIG CITY — With just one NBA game remaining on the schedule before All-Star Weekend gets underway, NBA TV will spend today (Thursday, February 12) celebrating some of the most exciting moments of All-Star Weekends past.

NBA TV’s Dunk-a-thon begins at 10 a.m. ET. The network will air a marathon of thirty different dunk contests, with the lone interruption being a live look at practice for the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge participants from New York City. The marathon will begin with the 1976 ABA Dunk Contest and go all the way through last year’s competition from New Orleans.

Of course, this will include some amazing showdowns. For instance…

1986 (airing at 11:00 a.m. ET) — Though Nate Robinson would represent for the little guys years later, in his hometown of Dallas in ’86, 5-6 Hawks guard Spud Webb shocked the world with his high-flying performance.

1988 (airing at Noon ET) — Dominique Wilkins was always a spectacular dunker, and the 1988 contest may have been his best all-around Dunk Contest performance. He ended up losing this one to Michael Jordan. It was held in Chicago. Just saying…

1993 (airing at 2:30 p.m. ET) — One of the more overlooked dunk contests, but Miami’s Harold Miner, a.k.a. Baby Jordan, had an outstanding contest this year.

2000 (airing at 7:00 p.m. ET) — Vince Carter may have made just one Slam Dunk Contest appearance, but he didn’t disappoint. VC destroyed all comers in Oakland in 2000.

2003 (airing at 8:30 p.m. ET) — An underrated competition that was eventually narrowed down to a thrilling finish between Jason Richardson and Desmond Mason.

2011 (airing at 12:30 a.m. ET) — Remember the time Blake Griffin jumped over a car? That was awesome.

Curry Set To Make 3-Point History

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Three is greater than two.

It’s simple math, and the NBA is realizing it more and more each year.

This season, the league has made and attempted more 3s than it ever has. Both the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets have passed the previous single-season, team highs for 3-point makes and attempts. And now, with one game left in the regular season, Stephen Curry is just two 3-pointers away from setting the all-time record for most 3-pointers made in one season by an individual.

Most 3-pointers, single season

Player Team Season GP 3PM 3PA 3PT% 3PA%
Ray Allen Seattle 2005-06 78 269 653 41.2% 43.5%
Stephen Curry Golden State 2012-13 77 268 589 45.5% 42.9%
Dennis Scott Orlando 1995-96* 82 267 628 42.5% 56.2%
George McCloud Dallas 1995-96* 79 257 678 37.9% 52.9%
Jason Richardson Charlotte 2007-08 82 243 599 40.6% 40.8%
Peja Stojakovic Sacramento 2003-04 81 240 554 43.3% 40.0%
Mookie Blaylock Atlanta 1995-96* 81 231 623 37.1% 55.5%
Peja Stojakovic New Orleans 2007-08 77 231 524 44.1% 51.1%
Ray Allen Milwaukee 2001-02 69 229 528 43.4% 46.0%
Reggie Miller Indiana 1996-97* 81 229 536 42.7% 43.1%

* The 3-point line was shorter (22 feet all around) in 1994-95, 1995-96 & 1996-97
3PA% = Percentage of total shots from 3-point range

Curry put himself in this position after hitting nine 3s in L.A. on Friday and another seven against the Spurs on Monday, the 19th and 20th times he’s hit at least five 3s in a game this season.

In only 12 of his 77 games has Curry hit fewer than two 3s, so the odds are good that he’ll get the two he needs in Portland on Wednesday. The Blazers have the fourth-best 3-point defense in the league, but Curry hit seven treys against them less than three weeks ago.

Curry is the Warriors’ point guard, so most of his 3s have come from above the break. Only 46 of his 268 3s have come from the corners, but Curry has shot the worst from the top of the key. And he’s clearly more comfortable from the right side of the floor…

Stephen Curry's 3-point shot chart

Stephen Curry’s 3-point shot chart

Curry leads the league with 103 unassisted 3-pointers, but 165 (62 percent) of Curry’s 3s have been assisted, by nine different teammates.

Assists on Stephen Curry’s 3-pointers

Player Assists %
Jarrett Jack 62 23%
David Lee 41 15%
Klay Thompson 24 9%
Harrison Barnes 16 6%
Andrew Bogut 10 4%
Carl Landry 5 2%
Festus Ezeli 3 1%
Draymond Green 2 1%
Kent Bazemore 1 0%
Andris Biedrins 1 0%
Unassisted 103 38%

Only 39 percent of his 3s from the top of the key have been assisted, vs. 67 percent from the wings and corners. Combine that with his shooting percentage numbers (worse at the top) and it’s clear that he’s a better shooter off the pass than off the dribble.

The way things are going, we may see somebody top 300 3-pointers in a season sometime soon. And it may be Curry. For now, he’ll have to settle for this place in the NBA record book.

Redick Reflects on Magic, Dwight Opt-In

DALLAS — Now that J.J. Redick is gone from Orlando, and likely for good, he reflected Tuesday night on his six-plus seasons, all but this one spent with Dwight Howard, and how close the Magic seemed to a dominant run.

Orlando traded the 3-point sharpshooter to the Milwaukee Bucks at last week’s trade deadline. All that’s left of the 2008-09 Finals team that lost in five games to Los Angeles Lakers is Jameer Nelson and the suspended Hedo Turkoglu (who left as a free agent in ’09 and returned in a trade in ’10).

“I can remember being in my third year in the NBA and playing in The Finals,” Redick said Tuesday after scoring 14 points in the Bucks’ 95-90 win over the Mavericks. “You look at Dwight’s contract situation, you look at Rashard’s contract situation, Jameer’s contract situation, we had a chance to re-sign Turk, so you’d think maybe the team would have kept its core together. And you think you’re going to be back in The Finals the next year and the year after that, and it’s frustrating in that sense because I thought we would be back at some point, and we weren’t.

More from Redick in his own words:

Q: How close did you feel the team was to being a dominant force in the Eastern Conference?

A: We were very close. I think the big decision was what to do with Hedo. We didn’t necessarily want to give him a five-year deal and he had options out there, two five-year deals in excess of $50 million with Portland and Toronto. He made his decision and it was a good decision for him. As a player you have to strike while the iron is hot and take advantage of your small window to make a living. We made the trade for Vince [Carter] and for whatever reason we just couldn’t get over the top and beat the Celtics the next year. The following season we had a bunch of injuries and sicknesses early on and got off to a little bit of a slow start, and we made two separate blockbuster trades (Carter, Mikael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat to Phoenix for Jason Richardson, Turkoglu, Earl Clark and a first-round pick; and Rashard Lewis to Washington for Gilbert Arenas).

And, to me, that was the turning point. We never really got back to elite status after that.

Q: How did things begin to devolve with Dwight Howard’s ongoing situation?

A: Dating back to a year and a half, two years ago is when things started to get a little hectic in Orlando. It definitely changed the makeup of the organization and the franchise. And obviously, when you have a player of Dwight’s caliber you’re in contention to win a championship. When you lose a player like that there’s a strong possibility you’re going to have to rebuild and it might get a little ugly.

Q: It’s been a little ugly in Los Angeles. The Lakers are essentially backed into the same corner as the Magic were, waiting with bated breath for Howard to make a decision, one he says he won’t make until this summer. He says he doesn’t want another circus, but isn’t he creating another one by being non-committal?

A: I think he’s non-commital, I guess, for a reason. I’m not sure what that reason is, but if he wanted to explore his free agency he could have done it last summer. I’m not sure why he opted in [last year] because he wanted out of Orlando. I’m not really sure.

Q: You dealt with weeks of speculation about where you would be traded or if you would be traded at all. Now that you are with the Bucks, a team that appears, at worst, locked into the No. 8 seed and headed to the playoffs, is there a sense of relief?

A: Yeah, there’s definitely a feeling of relief. My feeling on just being traded in general is it’s part of the business. I’m a guy who just believes in making the best out of any situation. You can’t always change or control your circumstances, but you can change your perspective and your attitude. So no matter where I went, if I had stayed in Orlando, I would have made the most of it.

Morning Shootaround — Feb. 7

Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.

The one recap to watch: A 13-game night means there’s a little bit of everything for any kind of fan: lottery team showdows (like Bobcats-Cavs or Suns-Hornets), playoff team scuffles (such as Grizz-Hawks) and elite teams in action (like Warriors-Thunder, Rockets-Heat and Spurs-Wolves). We’re not going to pick a lottery showdown and that Grizz-Hawks game ended up being a blowout, so it’s out. The elite teams (OKC, Miami and San Antonio) did what they wanted and there was little doubt they’d win. So our pick today is Bucks-Jazz. Although Utah won by 14 points, Milwaukee gave a good fight most of the night. Plus, we’re a fan of watching big men go to work, and what team in the league has a better stockpile of ’em than Utah with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter? It’s enough to make Karl Malone wish he could teach ’em all a few tricks (more on that below) … 

.

News of the morning

Kobe wants ‘urgency’ from Dwight | D-Will still in pain | Malone wants to re-join Jazz (on bench) | ‘Sheed looks back on D.C. days | Sixers’ Richardson done for season? | Carter a ‘long shot’ to be traded | Wall a franchise star?

Kobe pleads for ‘urgency’ from HowardThe Lakers got word Wednesday afternoon that an MRI revealed Pau Gasol has a tear in his foot and are awaiting word as to how much time he will miss. Meanwhile, center Dwight Howard has missed L.A.’s last three games to rest a torn labrum in his shoulder. Oh, and, the Lakers have virtually no backup big men after they lost forward Jordan Hill for the season in January to hip surgery. All that said, Lakers star Kobe Bryant knows that for L.A. to climb back into the playoff race and stay there, he’ll need help from Howard sooner rather than later. ESPNLosAngeles.com details what Bryant is feeling about Howard and his need to rest his injuries:

“We don’t have time for (Howard’s shoulder) to heal,” Bryant said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with ESPNBoston.com’s Jackie MacMullan. “We need some urgency.”

The interview with MacMullan came one day after Bryant publicly challenged Howard, stating that playing through an injury is “something that you have to balance out and manage.”

Bryant also asserted that Howard is preoccupied with how he is perceived by fans and media.

“Dwight worries too much about what people think,” Bryant told MacMullan. “I told him, ‘You can’t worry about that. It’s holding you back.’ He says, ‘OK, OK, OK,’ but it’s always hovering around him.

“He just wants people to like him. He doesn’t want to let anyone down, and that gets him away from what he should be doing.”

Bryant also speculated that Howard, in his first season with Los Angeles, may not be accustomed to the Lakers’ standards.

“(Howard) has never been in a position where someone is driving him as hard as I am, as hard as this organization is,” Bryant told MacMullan. “It’s win a championship or everything is a complete failure. That’s just how (the Lakers) do it. And that’s foreign to him.

“When you think about it, there aren’t many organizations that look at it that way. There are only two that can really honestly say that’s what they live by — Los Angeles and Boston.”

Howard preached patience in a recent interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, pointing to the fact that Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal needed three years before winning a championship with the Lakers.

But the 34-year-old Bryant, who is averaging 27.6 points per game in his 17th NBA season, is approaching this season with more desperation.

“We don’t have three years,” Kobe said. “We’ve got this year.”

Howard is listed as day to day, and his status is uncertain for Thursday’s game against the Boston Celtics.

The Lakers are hopeful Gasol’s injury will prompt Howard to return “sooner than later,” a team source told ESPNLosAngeles.com.

D-Will still dealing with painDeron Williams has had a rough season, part of which can be attributed to various injuries which have hampered his effectiveness and made him less-than the All-Star guard he usually is. Last night against the Pistons was no different for Williams, who had a rough night stats-wise and was mostly ineffective against Detroit’s young guard combination of Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

For Williams, it was another game with more pain. He came up limping and grimacing in the first quarter, with a knock that appeared to involve his knee or thigh. In the second quarter, he required attention from the trainer after grabbing his shoulder.

Williams walked it off, like he does with most of his aches and pains. And per usual, he never really recovered.

The point guard, who has been a shell of his former explosive self because of the injuries, had his moments in the fourth quarter, including a smooth crossover that led to an 18-foot jumper. But Williams was mostly ineffective, slow and hesitant, finishing with 12 points and nine assists — leaving him with averages of 11.8 and 6.5, respectively, in his last four games.
He also is missing his first All-Star game in three years.

“Right now I think he’s sore,” interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said of Williams, who has injured both ankles, his foot, his thigh and his wrist this season. “There’s no question. Someone like Deron who played all summer — we are beyond the halfway mark, so the guys that are playing big minutes are beat up. They are sore. In his case, his ankle and his wrist. He’s had trouble with that the whole year.”

Williams hasn’t dunked once this season, or hit a game-winner. So it was no surprise Lopez got the call down the stretch, with the game there for the taking thanks to Detroit’s fourth-quarter ineptitude (the Pistons shot 6-of-20 in the period).

Mailman wants back in with JazzFew players are as synonymous with a franchise as Karl Malone is with the Jazz. The Hall of Famer, former two-time MVP and the No. 2 all-time scorer in NBA history hasn’t suited up for Utah since the 2003 playoffs, but a statue of him resides out front of EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City and his No. 32 jersey hangs from the rafters in it. Malone currently serves as an the director of basketball promotions and assistant strength and conditioning coach for his alma mater, Louisiana Tech, but has also hosted a weekly radio show on ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City in the last year. He appeared with ESPN 700’s Hans Olsen and James Rust on Wednesday afternoon and made his case to join Utah’s staff as an assistant coach:

Malone doesn’t want to replace any of Tyrone Corbin’s current full-time helpers, but he wouldn’t mind finding a spot next to Sidney Lowe, Jeff Hornacek, Michael Sanders and Brad Jones.

“All they’ve got to do is call me,” Malone said during an interview with ESPN 700’s Hans Olsen and James Rust on Wednesday afternoon. “I’ll work with the big men for free for a while until it work.”

This isn’t the first time Malone has offered his coaching services to the organization he helped turn into a powerhouse and a two-time NBA Finals squad during his 18 years in Utah.

“I’m saying it again. Ain’t nobody took me up on it,” Malone said. “Maybe they don’t want to hear me.”

Malone said he wouldn’t necessarily want a full-time gig and he has no desire to travel with the team every game.

“But look. We can start off and see if it working,” Malone said. “If not, I’ll be the first one to say, ‘Guys, it ain’t working.’ And they don’t have to say nothing.”

Malone has no doubt if the Jazz’s former coach was still in charge — or is again elsewhere someday — he’d be in a gym teaching bigs how it’s done.”If coach (Jerry) Sloan ever got another coaching job, I would be with him sometime,” he said. “End of story.”

“I’m being dead serious about this,” Malone said. “I don’t want no cameras around. I would be more than willing to come.”One large factor Malone is interested: He’s a big fan of the Jazz bigs.

“Utah Jazz is one of my favorite teams. I still have them doing damage,” Malone said during the 25-minute interview. “Utah Jazz have a group of the best big men that’s in the league. Go through any team (and compare).”

“All in all guys, don’t start blowing up the team,” he said in the radio interview. “If you don’t have to get rid of a big guy, don’t get rid of a big guy. You don’t see a lot of them coming down the pike. But the fact of the matter is, we have talent on this team.”The sports talk-show hosts also asked Malone who he’d pick if he had to between Big Al and Malone’s fellow Louisiana Tech product, Millsap. Malone grumbled and laughed about being put on the spot but then — you guessed — gave his opinion.

“I love Paul Millsap and he’s going to play somewhere all he want to. If you’re making me choose between one or the other — and I’m Tech Nation, Paul MillsapAl Jefferson, to me, is a bigger guy that would do more damage at that position if you can’t bring but one of them back,” Malone said. “Try to bring both back. Whatever you do, do not get rid of these two young kids (Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter).

‘Sheed still remembers his Bullet daysLong before Rasheed Wallace was an All-Star performer as a Portland Trail Blazer and a key part of the Detroit Pistons’ championship team of 2004, he was the prized pick of the Washington Bullets (now Wizards) in 1995. Going No. 4 overall to Washington, Wallace garnered All-Rookie Second Team honors and was part of a young-but-developing squad that included Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Calbert Chaney and other young talent. But after his rookie season, ‘Sheed was sent to Portland for Rod Strickland and Harvey Grant as the Wizards tried to make a serious playoff push. Wallace talked with the Washington Post’s Michael Lee about his D.C. days and what could have been had he stuck around:

“Every time I’m back here, people say, ‘Man, why’d you leave?’ ” Wallace said, shaking his head, at Wednesday’s morning shootaround at Verizon Center. “It wasn’t up to me.”

Wallace still blames former Bullets General Manager John Nash for his exit after one season with the team, but Nash had resigned before Wes Unseld eventually shipped him to Portland for point guard Rod Strickland and forward Harvey Grant in one of those promising-big-for-fading-small deals that the franchise was so accustomed to making in the 1990s (ahem, Chris Webber for Mitch Richmond).

With a few more gray hairs peeking out of his scraggly beard and unkempt Afro, Wallace still looks back on his time as a Bullet as a classic could’ve-been.

“Man, I think about it a lot,” said Wallace, who averaged 10.1 points and 4.7 rebounds in his rookie season. “I understand it was all business and money, but we had a helluva squad here. I wish we could’ve stayed like two, three years together, just to be able to see what we could’ve done.”

The Bullets were stocked with front-court talent back then, with Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Gheorghe Muresan, Jim McIlvaine and Bob McCann and Wallace was often viewed as a luxury. Wallace started 51 games as a rookie, getting a lot of time at power forward as Webber recovered from a dislocated left shoulder, but he also dealt with troubles on and off the court in his short stint with the Bullets. He also didn’t need much time to establish a reputation for berating NBA officials, and had been mentioned in trade rumors since January of that season.

The Bullets reportedly offered Wallace to Philadelphia for the No. 1 overall pick, which turned out to be Allen Iverson.

Still, Wallace was stunned when he was seated in a barbershop in Philadelphia and got word that he was going to join the Portland Trail Blazers.

“My cousin called, and told me, ‘You just got traded to Portland.’ I was like: ‘Man, whatever. I didn’t get traded,’ ” Wallace said with a laugh. “About two seconds later, my agent [Bill Strickland] called and was like, ‘The rumors is true.’ I was like, ‘Aarghhhh!’ ”

The “what ifs” will never be resolved in Washington but the memories remain. When asked what he misses most about his days playing at the Capital Centre in Landover, Wallace said: “Just the enthusiasm of the crowd. The crowd felt the same things that we did. That it was a helluva team and we could’ve did some things. …I think we would’ve went far in the playoffs, because we were big. Unfortunately, I started those games that I did because Web went down. I hate to move into his starting slot like that. But man, we could’ve did a lot of things.”

Richardson facing season-ending surgeryThe Sixers have spent the season waiting for All-Star big man Andrew Bynum to get into the lineup so they can see exactly what kind of team they have. But while Bynum has been rehabbing and progressing, Philly has been waiting to get veteran guard Jason Richardson back, too. Richardson hasn’t played since Jan. 18 as he’s been dealing with a nagging knee issue that will now likely require surgery and six to nine months of recovery time, writes Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

Philadelphia 76ers guard Jason Richardson learned Wednesday he will miss the rest of the season due to a left knee injury that requires surgery, a source told Yahoo! Sports.

The 12th-year veteran was told by a doctor in New York City that he has a cartilage tear the size of a quarter on the right side of his left kneecap. Richardson is expected to be out six to nine months following surgery that is expected to take place next week.

Richardson had missed the previous seven games after being diagnosed with synovitis in his left knee. He finishes the season averaging 10.5 points and 3.8 rebounds while starting in all 33 games he played in during his first season with Philadelphia. He is under contract through the 2014-15 season.

Carter a ‘long shot’ to be tradedOur own Jeff Caplan caught up with Mavs swingman Vince Carter, who has been hot lately for the Mavs, averaging 17.6 points on 49.0 percent field-goal shooting and 45.0 percent from 3-point range over his past eight games. Carter’s name has been bandied about in trade rumors, but the likelihood of him being shipped out of Dallas seems slim, and he seems to be enjoying his second season in Big D, too:

There’s no doubt that teams are and will inquire about Carter’s availability. Dallas reportedly didn’t get involved as a third team in the Memphis-Toronto trade that sent Rudy Gay to the Raptors because it wouldn’t part with Carter. Detroit took the role and acquired point guard Jose Calderon from Toronto.

A league source Wednesday characterized the odds of Dallas moving Carter by the Feb. 21 as a “long shot.”

Which Carter said suits him just fine, despite the Mavs needing a significant run just to get into playoff contention.

Carter signed a three-year contract with the Mavs prior to the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season as part of the franchise’s retooling following the 2011 championship. His hopes of helping Dallas repeat didn’t materialize, but he had found a good fit. When the club decided to bring him back this season at $3.1 million, it fully guaranteed his final season next year at $3.2 million.

Carter’s contract is certainly attractive, but with Dallas uninterested in taking back salary and unlikely to net a major asset, there’s little reason to trade him when the club still believes it can make a push into playoff contention.

“There’s a reason he’s such an important guy to us,” Carlisle said following Wednesday’s win. “People key on his offensive stuff, but he’s just a big team guy. He’s one of our leaders.”

Two seasons ago with Phoenix, Carter’s career seemed to be closing quickly as his production continually dropped.

“Sometimes you get on a team where your talent isn’t needed, utilized,” Carter said. “This is a different type of offense here. I don’t know, I felt pretty good then and I will say I do feel even better. I put my work in after that summer because it kind of bothered me to even hear somebody think that or say it at that point in time because I still felt at that point physically able to contribute, to be effective for any team.”

Wall not a ‘franchise’ guy?Ex-Magic coach Stan Van Gundy got in a little hot water with folks in the D.C. area after appearing on ESPN 980′s The Sports Reporters in late December and saying that Wizards guard John Wall wasn’t a great decision-maker or a franchise cornerstone. Van Gundy recently talked to Ben Standig of CSNWashington.com and clarified his point a little bit, but Stan Van apparently isn’t a huge fan of Wall as the ONLY top-level talent on the Wizards: 

“I said this: John Wall is a talented guy, a very good player. I don’t think he’s good enough that you can build a franchise around him,” Van Gundy said after serving as television analyst for George Mason’s home game against Drexel last Thursday night. “I don’t think he can be your best player, certainly not clearly your best player. You need one guy better than him or a couple of guys at his talent level for them to win.

“To me that’s not a negative. I didn’t say it as a negative. I think some people took it that way. I just don’t see John Wall as a franchise player because – a lot like Rajon Rondo; I don’t see him as a franchise player even though he’s an All-Star – he’s not a good enough shooter yet and he’s not a reliable go-to scorer.

“In the NBA, your franchise guy has got to be a guy you can put the ball in his hands late in the game and he can get you a basket. I don’t see that from John Wall at this point in his career. Maybe it will develop, but I don’t see it.”

ICYMI of the night: Ricky Rubio likes setting Derrick Williams up for dunks, as we’ve seen before. But last night’s ultra-high alley-oop to Williams might have been one of their best connections yet …:

Sixers Lack Continuity, But Still Deep





PHILADELPHIA — In getting off to a hot start last season, the Philadelphia 76ers had two big advantages over other teams. The first was continuity. They had made minimal changes to their roster and brought back guys who played an incredible 99 percent of their minutes from the previous season.

The second advantage was depth. The Sixers didn’t go 10 or 11-deep, but they had three or four guys coming off their bench – namely Evan Turner, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young – who could keep the scoreboard going in the right direction. That trio was especially strong offensively, and the Sixers outscored their opponents by almost eight points per 100 possessions when the three were on the floor together.

“We had three guys coming off our bench who were capable of being starters,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said at training camp on Friday.

Turner eventually did become a starter. And that should be a permanent thing this year. The Sixers don’t have nearly the same continuity as they had last year (only 45 percent of last year’s minutes were played by guys on this year’s roster), but they should once again have little drop-off, especially offensively, when they go to their bench.
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Report: Howard Goes to Lakers in Four-Team Blockbuster Trade

The Magic appeared on the verge – again – of trading Dwight Howard amid reports Thursday night that a four-team deal that would send Howard to the Lakers and generate a lot of heat for Orlando was set to be completed.

ESPN.com reported that a trade call has been set for Friday morning to finalize the blockbuster that would feature Los Angeles getting the defensive superstar, Philadelphia getting Andrew Bynum from the Lakers and Jason Richardson from the Magic, Denver getting Andre Igoudala from the 76ers, and Orlando getting Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from the Nuggets, Nikola Vucevic and Maurice Harkless from the 76ers.

TNT’s David Aldridge reports that the Magic will also receive a future first-round pick from the Sixers, a 2014 first-round pick from the Nuggets and a 2017 first-round pick from the Lakers. The pick from the Sixers will likely have some type of Lottery protection to it while the pick from the Nuggets is the lower of Denver’s two first-rounders that year. Denver also has New York’s first-round pick from the Carmelo Anthony trade.

If the particulars turn out to be accurate, if Bynum and Igoudala are involved in a deal but neither end up in Orlando, if the best current player the Magic get is Afflalo and the best prospect is the No. 15 pick this year, Harkless, Orlando may get buried in the court of public opinion.

Worth noting, of course, is that the specifics could be different when, and if, the deal is finalized. Also, trades have come close to happening before only to fall apart at the end. But never in the months of the Howard soap opera has a trade call been arranged, a signal that all sides had agreed in principle.

Rockets, Lakers In Latest Howard Talks



The Orlando Magic are talking to the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets in various trade scenarios involving Dwight Howard, according to league sources. However, a source directly involved in the discussions said Tuesday night that no deal involving Howard going to either team was likely at the moment — though the situation remains fluid and could re-heat at any moment.

Discussions with the Brooklyn Nets, the one team Howard has said he’d be willing to sign a contract extension with after this season, were “quiet,” the source said Tuesday. A proposed four-team deal involving the Nets, Magic, Cavaliers and Clippers never came near fruition, and the Nets started looking for different trade partners Monday. In that complicated deal, Howard would have gone to Brooklyn, with the Nets sending center Brook Lopez (in a sign and trade deal) along with three future first-round picks to Orlando, and Cleveland taking Nets free agent Kris Humphries in a sign-and-trade deal. A fourth team, reportedly at various points the Clippers, Bobcats or Timberwolves, would have taken another Nets player, guard MarShon Brooks. But another source said Tuesday reports that that deal was anywhere near close were “way premature” because of all the moving parts involved.

The basketball website HoopsWorld reported Tuesday that the Magic, Rockets and Lakers had initiated discussions with one another about potential trade scenarios involving Howard and Lakers center Andrew Bynum. The website said the Magic were talking about potential deals that would send Howard to the Lakers and Bynum to the Rockets, with the Magic getting what they want most of all: numerous future Draft picks. The Los Angeles Times reported later Tuesday that the Lakers would be willing to take the contract of guard Jason Richardson (three years and $18.6 million remaining) from Orlando to facilitate the trade. The Magic has also been looking for someone to take the contract of forward Hedo Turkoglu (two years, $23 million remaining) in a potential Howard deal.

The Lakers are uncertain that they’ll be able to re-sign Bynum, who made his first All-Star team last season and is entering the final year of his contract. Bynum has loads of talent, but has rubbed feelings raw within the organization with occasional bouts of immaturity and bad on-court decisions. But Howard has not yet said that he would be willing to sign an extension with the Lakers, leaving them leery to pull the trigger on any potential deal.

“Dwight does control this, still,” another source directly involved in the talks said Tuesday.

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Nicholson Makes Early Magic





ORLANDO — If the latest swirl of rumors prove true and the Dwight Howard circus finally ends with guard Jason Richardson joining the All-Star center in a trade package to Brooklyn, the Magic will be without three of their current top four scorers. Forward Ryan Anderson will be shipped to New Orleans.

That means the Magic will be in an all-out rebuilding mode and will have a glaring need for a go-to scorer next season.

So here came Andrew Nicholson with a quite timely debut in the AirTran Airways Orlando Pro Summer League on Monday.

The No. 19 pick in the draft appeared very comfortable, displayed an array of offensive moves and converted a three-point play that put the Magic in front for good in a win over the Nets.

“I just played my game, used my versatility and length,” Nicholson said after making 8-of-16 shots for 24 points and also collecting 12 rebounds and two blocked shots.

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Dwight Update: Clippers In the Mix As Fourth Team In Trade Talks




Amid several reports that a deal to send Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets is close, a source directly involved in the discussions said Monday that the Nets are exploring offers from other teams that want to get involved in the Howard talks besides the Cleveland Cavaliers — the third team that is reportedly the conduit to take on players and Draft picks to enable Brooklyn to get Howard while sending players and picks to the Magic.

While the structure of a deal involving the Nets, Magic, Cavaliers and at least one other team is in place, involving numerous players, the moving parts involved in that scenario are a long way from being resolved. For example, Brooklyn created the structure of the deal, which would include sending forward Kris Humphries to the Cavaliers as part of the trade. However, Humphries, being a free agent, would have to agree to the terms of a sign-and-trade deal first.

And since Humphries played on a one-year deal for the Nets last season, he’s reluctant to do it again, looking for a multi-year deal. Under the terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Humphries could only sign up to a four-year deal if he was part of a sign-and-trade. But the Cavaliers are reluctant to sign Humphries to a long-term deal, preferring to use him as a trade chip to amass additional assets or to only take up cap space for a year. (Being well under the salary cap, Cleveland could just sign Humphries using its room if it was interested in him, and wouldn’t have to give up anything.)

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