Posts Tagged ‘John Schumann’

Rondo To Mavericks Makes Sense

 

HANG TIME, Texas — Game on.

With the big man spreading the word that he won’t waste time and will make his free agent decision on July 10, all the players in the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes have to come firing out of the starting blocks.

So Rajon Rondo to Dallas?

The word from Mike Fisher at DallasBasketball.com is that Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson has broached the subject with GM Danny Ainge in Boston:

The two parties continue to discuss trade scenarios, sources tell us.

Ainge and Dallas Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson have a long-standing and friendly relationship, so that might be a reason for the two teams to be exchanging ideas. Meanwhile, Mavs owner Mark Cuban is hinting at talks about a trade acquisition so large that it might preclude the “big-fish’’ acquisition of Dwight Howard.

I asked one NBA source if Cuban’s remark is intended as a smokescreen.

“Dallas, for all the right reasons, has 100 scenarios up on their board,’’ the source said. “But scenario No. 1 is Dwight Howard.’’

Previously, scenario No. 1 was Chris Paul. But Mavs officials tell me they are anticipating an official pronouncement from Paul that he’s staying with the Clippers, thus saving potential suitors their time and effort there.

There are mathematical/legal ways for Dallas to acquire Dwight and Rondo, the sort of double-play that would greatly accelerate the Mavs’ return to title contention. (Dwight could be signed outright with the trade-away dumping of the contracts of, say, Vince Carter and Jae Crowder. That would have to be done first. Then Marion would have to be a centerpiece of Dallas’ offer to the Celtics.) Both of the players come with some baggage, however. For Mavs fans, Howard’s issues are well-documented; he’s eyeballed the Mavs for over two years, and therefore his game and his persona have been picked apart in this space.

It is a deal that would make perfect sense from both sides. The Mavs, of course, are looking for another elite level player to join the supporting cast around Howard. Of course, they already have Dirk Nowitzki, but at 35 he’s close to the end and Dallas needs another All-Star level running mate into the future for Howard who can combat Houston’s enticement of playing with James Harden.

Put Howard into the middle of a lineup with Nowitzki and Rondo and the Mavs are right back battling at the top of the Western Conference race next season.

Ainge may be saying right now that he’s not looking to completely dismantle what’s left of the Celtics in the aftermath of trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. But whatever pain the Celtics put their fans through could pay off in the long run, especially if they land a high pick in a top-heavy Draft in 2014.

There is also the matter of how Rondo would personally handle being on a mediocre to poor team. He’s always been a handful to deal with even in the best of times, ready to fight literally with coach Doc Rivers and go to war figuratively with Ray Allen. Only the presence of the old heads Garnett and Pierce was able to keep Rondo’s white-hot competitive streak and his sizzling temper in check. If Ainge, as expected, is going to hire a first-time coach to mid-wife the Celtics through the next couple of years of rebuilding, that guy without a long resume as a leader is not going to need a point guard who will constantly challenge his authority.

If Ainge can get expiring contracts, maybe draft choices and wind up with a team next season that gets him a high pick in what is said to be a top-heavy draft in 2014, the Celtics are on their way to a recovery.

The clock is ticking on the countdown to the Fight for Dwight and the maneuvering has just begun. But this is a bold, big move that we can get behind from both sides.

Game on.

Blogtable: Is D-Wade’s Game Declining?




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.


Week 5: Still-Stumbling Lakers | Hawks vs. Clippers | Dissing D-Wade


Barkley says D-Wade isn’t the player he once was: Agree or disagree?

Steve Aschburner: Charles doesn’t always make his observations in the most artful way, but as Flip Saunders likes to say, the truth can’t be controversial. Wade isn’t the same player he was six years ago (27.2 ppg) or even three years ago (30.2) and won’t be getting back there. All those hard landings probably have taken their toll, along with Father Time. But he’s not ready for the glue factory either. The season in which a player turns 31 hardly is the end – Wade got to the NBA at 21, not 18 or 19 – and he’s smart enough and skilled enough to continue the transition he’s already begun from thrower to pitcher. Any fallout from Charles’ comments likely is due to Miami hoping it could be criticism-free for at least a little while after winning those rings.

Fran Blinebury: I’m with Chuck. And that’s not a knock on Wade, but facing the facts of life. Father Time remains unbeaten. From the days Wade came into the league and especially when he was throwing himself all over the floor en route to the 2006 championship, we’ve always said he couldn’t play that way forever. So he can’t, and he doesn’t have to in the clear No. 2 role behind LeBron. He’s still an All-Star and there will be nights when he takes over and puts on a show. Just not as much. No shame or disparagement in that.

Jeff Caplan: I hate to say it, but the eyes don’t lie. D-Wade is not as explosive as he once was. He is, at least without doing the research to prove it, seemingly taking more jumpers than ever before. Wade has some high-mileage and hard knocks on his body. Maybe it will heal up over the season and he’ll get his bounce back, but I really can’t remember the last time I watched D-Wade play and some part of his body wasn’t aching or bruised or strained. But that hardly means he can’t be a major contributor to a repeat champion. He’ll find other means than his athleticism to outsmart opponents. And, really, let’s be real here, the guy’s averaging 20.2 points a game on better than 50 percent shooting. Pretty much every guy in the league would take that.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Of course Chuck is right that Wade is starting to lose his athletic ability. Wade is a month away from turning 31, has played a lot of long NBA seasons and into summers of international play. Why is this taken as such a shocking statement? The real question should be whether Wade still has the ability to make a major impact on a team contending for a championship. The answer to that is yes. I still expect very good things this season. He doesn’t need to be 24 years old for that to happen.

John Schuhmann: I’m not Dwyane Wade and I’ve never had knee surgery, so I don’t know exactly how he feels physically. Is he slowly getting back into shape or does he just have good and bad days? Beats me. I guess we’ll find out in the Spring. I know he looked pretty good against the Hornets and Hawks over the last few days, but I’m sure he can’t play like that every night. The good news is that he doesn’t have to, because LeBron James  and Chris Bosh are still better than any other two-man combination in the league.

Sekou Smith: I agree that Dwyane Wade appears to be missing some of the explosiveness we saw from him as recently as three or four years ago, but that’s a part of the process of aging. Father Time takes his toll on everyone, even the future Hall of Famers. The days of Wade carrying the load he did before LeBron James and Chris Bosh showed up ended the moment the that laser-light show kicked off in Miami announcing the league’s newest power. The reinforcements were designed to take pressure off of Wade, who spent some of his best years physically playing his guts out for teams that realistically had no chance of making it out of the first round of the playoffs. What we can expect out of Wade this season is the occasional flash of the man we once knew as Flash.   And for the Heat’s stake, he needs to show up more often in the playoffs than he does before then. Anyone asking Wade to do anything more on a consistent basis needs a new pair of BluBlockers. Because the days of him dominating the floor on a nightly basis are over.

Blogtable: Upstarts Hawks And Clips




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.


Week 5: Still-Stumbling Lakers | Hawks vs. Clippers | Dissing D-Wade


Who has a better chance of making the conference finals: Hawks or Clippers?

Steve Aschburner: Clippers. Atlanta has an edge in terms of conference competition, in my view. But the Hawks don’t have the go-to guy I think they’d need to get through tough times in a seven-game series. They’re more of an ensemble compared to the individual talent on the Clips’ roster, and that sort of individual talent – especially Blake Griffin on search-and-destroy up front, Jamal Crawford so dangerous off the bench and most of all quarterback Chris Paul at his Manning/Brady/Brees/Rodgers best – means someone will be trouble almost every night. Then again, the Clippers? In the West finals? Whoa.

Fran Blinebury: I’m going with the Clippers, who are deeper this year.  Jamal Crawford has been a turbo-charger off the bench and Eric Bledsoe has raised his game as well. The team has made more of a commitment to defense, moving up from 18th a season ago to seventh in the league. The Clips have also proven themselves able to go toe-to-toe with the big dogs, having already beaten Miami, Atlanta, Memphis and San Antonio (twice).

Jeff Caplan: The Hawks … Psyche. Nah, it’s the Clippers, and really, what’s so surprising about this group? We know how good CP3 is. We know Blake Griffin is going to keep getting better — and he is. DeAndre Jordan is getting better. Jamal Crawford has been stupendous. They’ve got a healthy Eric Bledsoe. Should I continue? They are deep and talented. If they keep their focus throughout games they can beat anybody. They nearly won at OKC, a near-impossible mission, rallying late to take the Thunder to OT. Hey, Hawks, I love ya, but I’ve seen this before and 12-6 isn’t all that impressive. And take a quick look at point-differential. The Clips are plus-7.8, third-best in the West and the league. The Hawks? An unimpressive plus-2.9.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Easy call. The Clippers, because I don’t think they are that much of a surprise. They were in the top four of the West from the beginning, with the Thunder, Spurs and some other team from Los Angeles. The Clippers are deep, experienced, pretty good on defense, have multiple scoring options, composure, and star at two positions.

John Schuhmann: Clippers. I’m impressed with what the Hawks have done defensively, but the Clippers have been getting it done on both ends of the floor. They rank in the top seven in both offensive and defensive efficiency, which is where you need to be if you want to contend for a title. The West is stronger than the East, but the Clips are 3-1 so far against the other West contenders (OKC, San Antonio and Memphis). I don’t totally believe in their ability to get stops or execute in the halfcourt on crucial postseason possessions, but I certainly believe in the Clips more than the Hawks at this point.

Sekou Smith: That’s simple. The Clippers. They have more tools to work with in a playoff setting than the gutsy but limited Hawks. If you had asked me which of these two teams struck me as the bigger surprise, I’d say unequivocally it is the Hawks. I did not expect this team to be as good as they have been with so many new faces added to the mix and without a true anchor player being one of those additions. The Hawks have scored some quality wins, at Oklahoma City and at Memphis, but regular seasons wins in November and December and threshold wins in April, May and beyond require human resources the Hawks do not possess.

Blogtable: Lakers Still A Threat?




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.


Week 5: Still-Stumbling Lakers | Hawks vs. Clippers | Dissing D-Wade


With a quarter of the season gone, are the Lakers still a title contender?

Steve Aschburner: There still is lots of season and lots of Steve Nash left. Look at it this way: Last winter, the New York Knicks were 8-15 in a lockout-shortened schedule when Jeremy Lin exploded and salvaged 2012-13 for them. Injury snuffed what was left of Linsanity on March 24, yet New York went 12-5 over the final month and grabbed the East’s No. 7 seed before losing to eventual-champion Miami. So I’m supposed to believe that Nash, a Hall of Famer-to-be reunited with his old coach and with weapons such as Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard at his disposal, can’t revive L.A. in similar fashion? I understand the concerns about age, chemistry and most of all defense but nah, I’m not hitting the panic button. Yet.

Fran Blinebury: We might at be at the quarter pole in the season, but the last time I checked, Steve Nash has played only two games and Pau Gasol is now on the shelf with those knees that have been ailing since training camp. I’d suggest that before writing off the Lakers completely, we give them a chance to put their full complement of healthy players on the court in Mike D’Antoni‘s system. April is still a long way off.

Jeff Caplan: The Lake Show certainly isn’t making it easy to keep it on the air. If this thing were a TV show it’d be up for early cancellation, especially after Tuesday’s disgraceful showing at Cleveland, one of the league’s worst home teams. Not to mention Sunday’s dismal home loss to Utah, which is one of the worst road teams. But, let the episodes play out. At some point, and maybe it was Tuesday, this thing has to bottom out and the long climb out will begin. Let Steve Nash get back, allow Pau to get his head and knees on tight and let’s see what happens. With each mounting loss it gets tougher, but, alas, it’s still early. It won’t be forever, but it is now.

Scott Howard-Cooper: While I see the problems, I also see a lot of time left on the schedule. Are the Lakers close to where they need to be to be a contender? Obviously not. They have the same chances right now that Dwight Howard does of leading the league in free-throw accuracy. But they can get there. (The Lakers can, not Howard at the line.) Any team where Pau Gasol is the fourth-best player has a chance to make a run.

John Schuhmann: Well, we haven’t reached the trade deadline yet, so I can’t count them out entirely. But as currently constructed, I don’t think they’re better than the Thunder, Spurs, Clippers or Grizzlies. Their perimeter defense is just awful and that’s not a problem that Steve Nash (or Mike D’Antoni, really) can fix. And as I’ve said before, they don’t have the 3-point shooting needed to run D’Antoni’s offense so well that they can make up for the defensive shortcomings.

Sekou Smith: As brutal as they have been at times this season, TIME is the one thing the Lakers have on their side. Their title-contending status will depend largely on the humongous gamble they are making on Steve Nash swooping in and rescuing this current mess of a team we’ve observed in his absence. What makes me think the Lakers still have a shot to be a title contender is the fact that a true measure of a team with those sorts of aspirations isn’t taken before the All-Star break. All the Lakers have to do is survive until then, stay in the playoff mix. No one is winning a title by Christmas or even Valentine’s Day. So I’m preaching patience, once again, until at least 2013 (calendar year).