Posts Tagged ‘Leandro Barbosa’

Deadline Passes Without ‘Smoove’ Move

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From NBA.com staff reports

Days, weeks and, in some cases, months worth of hype about the future of Josh Smith in Atlanta ended up being just idle talk. The Hawks’ star forward was the centerpiece topic on trade deadline day 2013, yet will play out the season in Atlanta — a move that surprised many observers around the league. Leading up to the trade deadline, Smith — an unrestricted free agent this summer — had been mentioned in possible deals with Brooklyn, Phoenix, Milwaukee and a host of other cities.

Our own Sekou Smith heard rumblings as of deadline day that Boston and Phoenix were making a push for Smith. But perhaps most valuable to the Hawks in a new NBA economic world is the cap space they’ve created for themselves with last summer’s trades of big earners like Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams. Atlanta has hopes of a spending spree of sorts this summer on a free-agent class that includes the Lakers’ Dwight Howard and the Clippers’ Chris Paul. And, as Smith himself told NBA.com: “Atlanta will be on my list in free agency.”

While the man known as “J-Smoove” is staying put in Atlanta, there were a few deadline-day deals. You can get a full recap on all of these and others on our Trade Tracker, but here’s a quick look:

Rondo Or No, Celts Need More Defense




BROOKLYN – The Boston Celtics played without Rajon Rondo on Thursday. Not coincidentally, the Celtics lost to the Brooklyn Nets, 102-97.

Rondo was missed, especially early in the first quarter and late in the fourth, when the Celtics’ offense looked disjointed without its point guard. Leandro Barbosa played far too many minutes (30-plus) for a guy who doesn’t know the team’s plays, and the Celtics’ scorers had to work harder than usual for their points.

But the correlation between Rondo’s absence and the final score wasn’t quite as strong as you might think, and their issues on Thursday went beyond point guard. All you need to know is that the Nets grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, and it was the third time in the last four games that the Celtics have allowed 16 or more offensive boards.

Rebounding issues are just the latest problem with the Celtics’ defense, which ranks 22nd in the league through Thursday. The Nets, with all the defensive issues they have, are ranked higher. And only one team — the Miami Heat, perhaps ironically — has regressed more defensively than the Celtics.

Most regressed defenses (points allowed per 100 possessions)

Team 2011-12 Rank 2012-13 Rank Diff.
Miami 97.1 4 104.8 27 +7.7
Boston 95.5 2 102.6 22 +7.1
Dallas 99.7 8 103.7 25 +4.0
Phoenix 103.8 23 106.4 29 +2.7
Cleveland 106.0 26 107.8 30 +1.8

Oh, but the Celtics always start slow and get their act together by the playoffs, right? No, not really. Last year, when players were out of shape in the wake of the lockout, that was the case. But in the four years prior, the Celtics were the fastest starters in the league, racking up an incredible 94-14 record in games played before Christmas.

This group is different, and they’ll likely improve as the season goes on. The new faces need to learn and adjust to the system. But Thursday’s problems were as much about effort as they were about learning curves.

“We didn’t make any adjustments,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said about his team’s improvement on the glass in the second half. “We just fought more, we got into bodies, we helped less, we didn’t allow guys to beat us off the dribble as much. And I thought we did a better job.”

Still, when the Nets were scoring 28 points in the fourth quarter, the resistance they faced was not what we’ve come to expect from the Celtics. Joe Johnson got to his spots a little too easily down the stretch, and Brook Lopez got one more put-back on a critical possession.

Don’t get it twisted. The Celtics need Rondo … desperately. Playing without him is a problem, not just because he’s a brilliant point guard, but because he’s the only point guard on the Celtics’ roster. Barbosa and Courtney Lee were point guards by name only on Thursday.

But as much as they need to get their point guard back, the Celtics need to get their defense in order. They currently rank 23rd in forcing turnovers and 26th in defending the 3-point line. Those are two categories in which they ranked in the top five last season.

Asked by TNT’s Craig Sager about Rondo’s absence after the first quarter, Rivers said, “We can still play defense, which we’re not.”

Over the last few seasons, Rondo’s presence on the floor has meant more offensively than defensively. And when the Celtics went 24-10 after the All-Star break last season, it was all about defense. They actually ranked 26th offensively after the break, but were over eight points per 100 possessions better than the league average defensively.

Much was made this preseason about Rondo officially taking over the reins as the Celtics’ leader, but the Celtics don’t necessarily need him to get back to being an elite defensive team. They’ll gladly welcome him back when his sprained right ankle is healthy though. While their next two games — vs. Toronto on Saturday and at Detroit on Sunday — seem very winnable without their point guard, Rivers says that the opponent won’t determine his point guard’s status.

“If he’s ready to play whenever we play again, he’ll play,” Rivers said. “If he’s not, he won’t. We’ll just keep moving.”

 

Former All-Star Josh Howard Stays Positive As He Waits For Work

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Two former Dallas Mavericks, Josh Howard and Delonte West, are among a notable group of players that are out of a job as the 2012-13 season begins, but hope they’re not out of luck.

Howard, a one-time All-Star in Dallas and once thought to be the rising star that would play alongside Dirk Nowitzki for years to come, is residing in Dallas, healthy, working out and waiting for the phone to ring. At 32, Howard refuses to believe that his career will end prematurely.

“I’m just waiting for the opportunity to get on a team,” Howard, a 6-foot-7 small forward with nine seasons under his belt, told NBA.com on Tuesday. “My agent has been staying in contact with teams and continues to communicate with those teams. It’s a waiting game.”

For now, 15-man rosters are set. Until an injury creates a need or a team waives a player, Howard, who had interest from a handful of teams over the summer and made several visits with no offers forthcoming, waits, even as former Mavs teammate Jerry Stackhouse, 37, owns a roster spot with the Brooklyn Nets despite playing in just 37 games the last two seasons.

“I look at it as motivating,” Howard said of not being signed. “It’s never a disappointment. I look at my career and if it were to end today I can say honestly that I was one of the best players in the league for a while. I made it to the Finals, but you know my goal is to win the Finals and I want another opportunity. That’s my drive in me still and my competitiveness. I’m not ready to stop playing. I’m staying aggressive and hoping a team picks me up.”

Unlike newly unemployed combo guard West, Howard is taking the traditional approach to job hunting, allowing his agent to converse with league general managers. West, 29, had a job on a veteran minimum deal with the Mavs at the start of training camp, but Dallas waived him on Monday after twice suspending the quirky guard for behavioral issues deemed detrimental to the team.

On Wednesday, West put his search on his fingertips and began a campaign on Twitter (@CharleeRedz13) — in his unique 140-character stylings — to find work with a fifth franchise in what would be his ninth NBA season. Since his unfortunate 2009 arrest when he was stopped for speeding on his motorcycle and carrying firearms, West, who suffers from bipolar disorder, has been relegated to a string of one-year contracts and unable, he believes, to shed the perception that he’s a malcontent. His eviction from the Mavs didn’t help his cause.

(more…)

Rivers Plans To Mix And Match

 

BROOKLYN – In the first three seasons of the KG era, the Boston Celtics’ starting lineup was constant.

Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins. That’s what you expected to see when you arrived at the arena or turned on your TV to watch the Celtics, and that’s what you got. Over those three seasons, that group started 214 of a possible 304 games and played 4,172 minutes together, which was 1,709 more than any other lineup around the league over that time. And they were very, very good.

Most used lineups, 2007-08 through 2009-10, including postseason

Team Lineup GP MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
BOS Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, Perkins 214 4,172 109.2 95.5 +13.7 +1,063
ATL Bibby, Johnson, Williams, Smith, Horford 161 2,463 105.1 104.7 +0.4 +5
OKC Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green, Krstic 99 1,674 102.5 105.8 -3.3 -86
UTA Williams, Brewer, Kirilenko, Boozer, Okur 109 1,615 109.9 106.7 +3.2 +100
NOH Paul, Peterson, Stojakovic, West, Chandler 83 1,548 112.9 102.5 +10.4 +325

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Then Perkins blew out his knee and was eventually traded. Over the last two seasons, the Celtics’ starting lineup wasn’t nearly as consistent, with Glen Davis, Nenad Krstic, Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Brandon Bass taking turns as the other big man next to Garnett. And after Bass finally became the starting power forward in the second half of last season, Avery Bradley replaced Allen at the two.

This season, there could be even more flux in the Celtics’ lineup. First of all, Bradley is out to start the season, still recovering from shoulder surgery. But beyond that, it may just be that Doc Rivers decides to mix and match. (more…)

Some Notable Names Are Still Waiting For Their Free Agent Fury To Begin


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS –
Not all NBA free agents are created equal.

Sometimes you’re Deron Williams and sometimes you’re not.

And this isn’t news to the huddled masses of familiar names and faces still looking for work with the start of training camps just a mere month away. They know that it’s time for the two-minute drill, when their options are dwindling and an invite to camp becomes a life-preserver for guys who are used to guaranteed roster spots and permanent spots in a team’s rotation.

This would explain the likes of Eddy Curry, who most likely will not be in Miami on opening night when the championship banner is raised but does have a ring with his name on it, auditioning for any team interested.

It’s the same reason you hear names like Josh Howard, who has worked out for his home state Charlotte Bobcats, Josh Childress, Hilton Armstrong and so many others — some former lottery picks (Childress) and some former All-Stars (Howard) — doing what millions of other Americans are doing right now, and that’s looking for work.

Curry and Armstrong worked out together for the Nets Wednesday, according to the New York Post:

Curry, along with Hilton Armstrong, worked out for the Nets Wednesday, according to Yahoo! Sports. Curry, the much maligned former Knick, spent last season with the Heat, playing 14 games and averaging 2.1 points while riding the coattails of LeBron James to his first NBA title.

Curry, 29, played a combined 10 games in his final three seasons with the Knicks before his contract was used as salary ballast in the Carmelo Anthony deal in February 2011.

Armstrong was part of the Nets’ free agent minicamp in May, when he earned some praise for his play from general manager Billy King.

“What I like about Hilton is he’s long and he knows how to play. I think the biggest thing for Hilton is doing it consistently,” King said at the time. “I think he got better each day. I like his length, because the one thing is it’s hard to find athletic size in this league.”

(more…)

Slim Pickings Left In Free Agency

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Training camp is still about eight weeks away, but good luck trying to find any more free agents who can make a real impact on your team. A month after free agency opened, only slim pickings remain.

Want proof? The remaining free agent who played the most minutes last season is Alonzo Gee. Most rebounds? Shelden Williams. Yep, we’re down to the bottom of the barrel.

At this point, if teams are still looking to fill roster spots, they have certain needs. So we’ll list the best available guys by position. Here are three point guards, five wings, and three bigs who could be useful (or not) next season…

Point guards

1. Derek Fisher (OKC)
23.9 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 2.7 APG, 37.1% FG, 32.1% 3PT
The veteran will celebrate his 38th birthday next week, and it’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about a possible destination for next season. After a rough regular season, he shot a solid 38 percent (18-for-48) from 3-point range in the playoffs.

2. Jannero Pargo (ATL)
13.4 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 1.9 APG, 41.5% FG, 38.4% 3PT
Pargo provided an offensive lift for the Hawks in a handful of games last season. (more…)

Brazil, Spain, Russia, Argentina And Nigeria Impress In Olympic Openers

LONDON – The U.S. Men’s Senior National Team wasn’t the only crew to walk away from the first day of Olympic competition with an impressive win, theirs coming in a 98-71 thumping of France in the third game of the day.

There were familiar faces (to NBA fans) on the court all day and night, as Brazil, Spain,Russia, Argentina and Nigeria all made good first impressions at the Olympic Basketball Stadium.

A quick round-up of the action …

NIGERIA 60, TUNISIA 56:

The Aminu brothers, Alade and Al-Farouq combined for 25 points and 18 rebounds as Nigeria, the last team to qualify for this 12-team field, held off a late rally from the African champions in the first game of the day. Ike Diogu added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Amine Rzig scored 15 of his 18 points in the second-half to lead Tunisia in what was the Olympic debut for both teams.

BRAZIL 75, AUSTRALIA 71:

Leandro Barbosa scored 16 points but it was his backcourt mate, Brazilian captain Marcelo Huertas, who played the hero as they held off a late push from Australia on two free throws from Huertas with five seconds to play. David Andersen scored all 14 of his points after halftime and Patty Mills led Australia with a game-high 20 points, but it wasn’t enough.

SPAIN 97, CHINA 81:

Pau Gasol was dominant, scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds and Serge Ibaka added 17 points, as the silver medalists and two-time European champs whipped China. Yi Jianlian was impressive in defeat, scoring a game-high 30 points for China, which had no answer for Spain’s depth and quality backcourt duo of Juan Carlos Navarro (14 points) and Jose Calderon (12).

RUSSIA 95, GREAT BRITAIN 75:

The gracious hosts were no match for the Minnesota Timberwolves-bound duo of Andrei Kirilenko (35 points) and Alexey Shved (16 points and 13 assists, who sparked Russia’s dominating performance. Luol Deng scored the first basket of the game, the first for the British in the Olympics since 1948, and finished with 26 points. But he and Pops Mensah-Bonsu (22) couldn’t help the home team overcome Russia or an ugly 4-for-26 effort from beyond the 3-point line.

ARGENTINA 102, LITHUANIA 79:

Luis Scola scored 32 points, Manu Ginobili finished with 21, 10 rebounds and six assists and Carlos Delfino added 20 points for the 2004 gold medalists, who struggled in their exhibition run-up to this competition but celebrated Ginobili’s 35th birthday in style. Linas Kleiza scored 20 points to lead Lithuania, which defeated Argentina in the opener for both teams four years ago in Beijing.

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For a look at Tuesday’s schedule, click here!

Mavs Could Still Look To West

HANG TIME, Texas – They were not able to reel in their No. 1 free agent target Deron Williams and they watched future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd escape to New York.

But the Mavericks, with spaces to fill on their roster, are still hoping to fill one of them with guard Delonte West.

Despite a finger injury that forced him to miss one-third of the 66-game post-lockout schedule and that bizarre delivering of a “wet willie” to Utah’s Gordon Hayward back in April, West was a far more solid addition to the Dallas lineup last season than, say, Lamar Odom and could help while Darren Collison and rookie Jared Cunningham learn the offense.

“We’ve got 15 spots and 13 players are under contract,’’ general manager Donnie Nelson told fishbowlradionetwork.com on Monday. “We’ve got a little work to do yet, hopefully Delonte will slide into one of those spots.

“If that’s the case that’ll be great.’’

And if that’s not the case?

“There’s also an argument for keeping that last roster spot open, because sometimes you get lucky towards the end of the summer,’’ Nelson said. “That’s probably how we’ll play it up, unless something really good presents itself.

“We’re still in negotiations with his agent and we’re hopeful that we can work something out,’’ Nelson said. “Obviously he’s got options and he’s got to sort through those.

“Some of those are timing issues there. We’ve just got to continue to negotiate and talk and see if there’s a fit there.’’ (more…)

Brazil A Test For The U.S. On Monday

WASHINGTON, D.C. – From every angle, Spain, featuring a frontline of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, is the biggest threat to the U.S. Men’s Senior National team in its quest to win a second straight Olympic gold medal.

Argentina, with its generation of international stars playing one last tournament together, is a dangerous threat. France has as much NBA talent as any team outside of the U.S. And Lithuania and Russia are two more tough teams who won’t be eliminated easily.

But the team that gave the United States their toughest game at the 2010 World Championship was Brazil, who the U.S. will play Monday in an exhibition game at the Verizon Center (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2). It’s the U.S. Team’s final action on American soil before they travel to Manchester and Barcelona for three more exhibitions, and then to London for the Olympics.

The U.S. Women will also play Brazil as part of a double-header. The women’s game precedes the men on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. ET.

The Brazilian men finished ninth in Turkey, but they gave the U.S. a real scare in preliminary round action before falling 70-68 in a game that was inches away from going to overtime. It was also a game that was played without two of Brazil’s best players, Nene (not on the roster) and Anderson Varejao (injured).

Five players on this year’s U.S. Team were there in Istanbul and remember that game pretty vividly. The other seven got a taste of it when the team watched film Sunday morning before practice. (more…)

Pacers’ Stephenson Still Learning





ORLANDO — For a player whose nickname in high school was Born Ready, Lance Stephenson has been anything but in two seasons with the Pacers.

So now entering what could be a make-or-break (non-guaranteed contract) year, Stephenson is back at the Air Tran Orlando Pro Summer League to prove that he should stick around and made a statement with 28 points and seven assists in a win over the Thunder.

“I’m here to do anything I can to get better as a player and help my team,” Stephenson said. “I’m working on pick-and-rolls, coming off and hitting my jump shot and trying to get my teammates involved.

“What the coaches have told me is they want me to be more like a point guard, be a leader and take control of situations.”

Pacers’ assistant Dan Burke, who is coaching the summer league bunch, says it’s an all-around improvement to Stephenson’s approach on and off the floor that could make a difference. The most notable thing he did in the playoffs this season was giving the “choke” sign to LeBron James after a missed free throw. (more…)