Posts Tagged ‘Jerry Stackhouse’

Awards Season: Most Improved Player

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – While it’s not the most prestigious honor handed out during the NBA’s award season, one of our favorites here at the hideout is the Most Improved Player award.

This is the one award that rewards guys for actually taking their game from one level to the next, a transition that takes place for various reasons (a change of scenery never hurts and a regime change can inspire a player, too).

NBA TV’s Game Time crew (Marc Fein, Brent Barry and Jerry Stackhouse) had a pretty good debate about it last night (above). Unlike the MVP chatter, this topic doesn’t dominate our conversations this time of year. But the list of worthy — or at least legitimate — candidates for the Most Improved honor is much longer than the list of names populating the MVP debate.

In fact, the leader in the MVP clubhouse, Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, could easily be considered the front-runner for MIP. We’re not going to rely on anyone else’s research. (Although, if you haven’t seen John Schuhmann’s StatsCube piece on the Most Improved race, you should.) We’re taking the vote to the people (that would be you) to see what the popular opinion is on the Most Improved Player:

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Time To Show And Prove

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – You waited all summer for this.

And now it’s here.

We get a monster three-game appetizer tonight to kick off the NBA season, Wednesday’s 13-game slate is the outlandish first course and we’ll have eight months worth of goods to work through before a champion is crowned.

Thankfully, the powers that be in the scheduling department decided to give us an opening-night preview, with three NBA Finals favorites on display.

Miami at Boston, 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Phoenix at Portland, 10 p.m. ET

Houston at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

It’s show and prove time for all of them, too, not just those cats in Miami (who obviously enter this season with unprecedented hype for a team that’s been together for mere months).

All six teams taking the floor tonight have questions that need answering, things that we need to know right now, before they dive in and pledge allegiance to a team they think is the real deal:

HEAT

Who cracks first, the Heat or the competition? Erik Spoelstra‘s team (we can call them that, at least for now, right?) has already adopted the “us-against-the-world” mantra needed to chase a title. In fact, I can’t remember a team preparing itself better for a theoretical championship run than the Heat has done since July, which started with the LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade mega-merger. But now the theory must be applied in an ultra-competitive environment where the Heat will be the hunted team every single night.

That said, you have to give them credit for making all the right moves. Mike Miller goes down with a hand injury that will sideline for months, so the Heat quickly snag veteran swingman Jerry Stackhouse to fill the void (same way he did for the Bucks last year). There have been no major missteps up to this point … but now it’s time to play the games. And we’re going to see if the Heat can hold up to the pressure, internal and beyond.

CELTICS

With five players 32 or older, everybody is wondering the same thing: can the Celtics will hold up to the rigors of the 82-game regular season and a second straight extended playoff run? Their championship window is clearly much smaller than the one those young whippersnappers in Miami are working with, which will no doubt fuel the Celtics’ fire all season. Can the old men hold up?

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Stackhouse signs with Heat

Jerry Stackhouse is taking his talents and guile to South Beach. The veteran signed with the Miami Heat on Saturday to help ease the loss of injured swingman Mike Miller.

“Grateful for this kind of opportunity at this point of my career,” Stackhouse told NBA.com. “Mike Miller is a key part of what the Heat envisioned with this team. Hopefully, I can come and provide some depth while he’s out, as well as provide some intangibles the team could use for the long haul.”

Miller could be sidelined until January with a thumb injury. Stackhouse, 36 next month, brings 15 years of experience to Miami. Once one of the game’s more prolific scorer, he’s transitioned into a support role/locker room presence over the last few years.

Stackhouse was praised for job he did in Milwaukee last season, helping fill the void left by an injured Michael Redd as the Bucks reached the Eastern Conference playoffs. Stackhouse was an integral part of the Mavericks’ run to the 2006 Finals. He’s played for six teams since starting his career with Philadelphia in 1995.

He’s never won a ring. Now he’s got a pretty good shot at some jewelry teaming up with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

“I’ve been fortunate to have played for so many great organizations and alongside great players, but to join the Miami Heat organization and to play alongside Dwayne, LeBron and Chris and have a chance to compete for a championship,” Stackhouse said, “I just thank God.”

Stackhouse signed a non-guaranteed deal that contains several injury exceptions. While a guaranteed contract would have been nice, he’s not complaining.

“What the hell,” Stackhouse said, “it beats sitting at home watching.”

These Bucks No More?

Posted by Sekou Smith

ATLANTA – Now that the Fear The Dear movement is officially over, Bucks coach Scott Skiles made me wonder if the FTD era is over altogether.

Did you hear him after the Hawks punished the Bucks in Game 7 Sunday afternoon?

All it took for me was one sentence:

“In the summer a lot of moves are made so there is a high probability that this is the last time they are together as a unit,” Skiles said.

Now I’m not crazy enough to think that the Bucks planned on this being their team of the future.(John Hammond didn’t win that Executive of the Year award by spending his offseason on the golf course.)

And you have to know that the building blocks will remain the same (Brandon Jennings, Andrew Bogut, hopefully John Salmons, Carlos Delfino and perhaps even Luc Mbah a Moute and my main man Luke Ridnour, too — has to get him in there).

But the rest of the this most motley of crews could be totally different by training camp.

I’d gotten attached to these Bucks the past couple of weeks. There’s something about underdogs scaring the daylights out of the establishment that makes me feel better about the world of basketball. I needed everyone to Fear the Deer, even if they didn’t finish the job.

But Skiles brought me back to reality. There’s a good chance we won’t see Kurt Thomas doing his MMA routine for this team again next season. Rid is a free agent this summer as well, meaning he might not be a part of this crew next season. Jerry Stackhouse, Primoz Brezec and FOHT Royal Ivey are all free agents this summer.

We’re going to miss this team, folks.

We’re going to miss this movement.

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(Old) School Is In Session!

Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Milwaukee Bucks guard Jerry Stackhouse thought he’d made the list.

A 15-year NBA veteran, the 35-year-old Stackhouse figured there couldn’t be more than a couple of players his age or older in the playoffs.

Silly youngster, Stackhouse didn’t even make the top eight.

“I didn’t make it?” he said, sounding surprised and relieved at the same time. “Wow, I thought I was up there.”

Nope!

Oddly enough, the eight oldest players in the league are all on playoff rosters. The elite eight: Shaquille O’Neal (38, Cleveland), Kurt Thomas (37,Milwaukee), Grant Hill (37, Phoenix), Kevin Ollie (37, Oklahoma City), Juwan Howard (37, Portland), Michael Finley (37, Boston), Jason Kidd (37, Dallas) and Theo Ratliff (36, Charlotte).

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And outside of Ollie, they all play crucial roles for their teams.

“If you’re still hanging around in the league, you’re obviously doing something right, basketball-wise and off the court,” said Finley, a 15-year veteran that played for both the Spurs and Celtics this season. “Nobody wants to put a knucklehead on their team, especially a championship-contending team.”

Thomas is holding down the middle for the Bucks in their first round series against the Hawks with Andrew Bogut out with an injury. He’s not shocked to see so many of the league’s old guard still at work.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Thomas, who is also in his 15th season. “When you’ve been playing as long as we have, you definitely learn your craft. You know what you have to do to be successful out there on the floor and you just try to hone in on those things and maintain that focus.”

Durability certainly isn’t an issue for this group at this late stage. Still, it’s a mystery how so many of them have remained viable this late in their careers.

“Maybe [it's luck] luck?” said Kidd, who is in his 16th season. “When you talk about Juwan, Grant and those guys, they really take care of their bodies. Mentally if you still feel you can compete that’s the biggest challenge as you get older. When you look at those guys, they feel they can contribute and are contributing in a big way.”

That doesn’t mean the old guys have escaped the comic scrutiny of their younger teammates or fans.

“My friends I grew up with can’t believe I’m still playing,” Thomas said. “And I even had one fan in [Washington D.C.] scream out that he had found my AARP card. But you just take it all in stride. I love doing what I’m doing. When I first made it into the league, my goal was to try to play 10 years. When I reached that point I wanted to play 15. And now I just want to keep going. When I was with San Antonio coach [Gregg] Popovich told me I should keep playing as long as I could and I’m taking that advice and running with it.”

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Kidd takes pride in being a part of the old guard.

“You look at this time of the year and you need veteran guys,” he said. “You look at Grant, Howard, these guys have been in battles and understand what it takes to win. Sometimes some wisdom comes in, but these guys are still playing at a high level and helping their teams win, so I think it makes it fun to come to work and have that challenge against younger guys.”

There is certainly a savvy that comes with age, even if there is an obvious decline in physical prowess.

“I think I’m just a lot smarter,” Thomas said. “I don’t make the mistakes I used to when I was younger. I know I’m not  as fast as I used to be and I don’t jump as high as I used to. I just try to focus on the things that I can do well out there and stick to those.”

– NBA.com’s Art Garcia and John Schuhmann contributed to this report.

No Fear In The Deer

Posted by Sekou Smith

ATLANTA – Two full days of rest between games gave the Milwaukee Bucks a chance to study what they did wrong in their Game 1 loss to the Hawks.

It also provided some quality viewing time of other playoff series.

It’s obvious, with Game 2 on tap tonight at Philips Arena, that the Bucks believe any road team willing to fight for it, has a chance to win. There is no Fear in the Deer around here.

“You look at Portland winning in Phoenix and then what Utah did in Game 2 against Denver and you realize what can be done,” rookie point guard Brandon Jennings said Tuesday morning. “Guys are competitive, guys are in the playoffs, guys want to prove themselves and guys want to win. That’s always a good thing.”

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The Bucks trailed by as many as 24 points in Game 1 but trimmed that lead to seven in the fourth quarter before losing by 10. Another lousy start won’t cut it. And they know that. They also know that any pressure they can put on the Hawks on their own floor is a bonus.

“We want to come in here and create a little adversity with this[Hawks] team,” Bucks veteran Jerry Stackouse said. “We don’t have anything to lose. We’re up against one of the top three teams in the conference. All we want to do is steal one on the road and then go back home and protect our floor. And they have to be thinking about the way we closed that second half [in Game 1], whether it was what we were doing or what they weren’t doing. A shot here, a play there and it could have been a different game.”

Both coaches have taken note of the competitiveness in all of the playoff games. Chicago is down 2-0 in their series against Cleveland, but the Cavaliers have had to work hard for those wins.

“The playoff teams are all quality teams,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “Rarely are you going to be able to come back from 20 points down and win a playoff game. We can’t dig a hole like that.”

Hawks coach Mike Woodson said the Jazz win in Denver Monday night was all he needed to prove to his team how real the danger is for a team assumes it has an advantage.

“You better believe I watched it,” he said. “When you look at just the regular season, on any given night the bad teams could beat the good teams. That happened. Well, there are no bad teams in the playoffs. So if you are not committed for 48 minutes when you step out on that floor you can get beat.”

Both the Trail Blazers and Jazz worked without injured starters, many of them.

The Bucks are doing the same, injured center Andrew Bogut spoke with reporters in the middle of the locker room before their shoot-around practice.

Even he seems to have drawn some inspiration from what has transpired elsewhere in the playoffs.

“You see what Utah did, without their guys, winning in Denver,” Bogut said, “there’s no excuse why we can’t win a game tonight.We know we played terribly the first two quarters [Game 1]. If we play basketball solidly for four quarters, you never know what could happen.”

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