Posts Tagged ‘Luke Ridnour’

Point Guard Problem In Dallas?

DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday face old pal Jason Kidd and the New York Knicks for the second time in less than two weeks. In the time between, the drastic decline witnessed at point guard must be unnerving for Dallas.

The promising start Darren Collison rode into the Big Apple on Nov. 9 is swerving amid a mess of poor decision making, poor shooting and perplexing turnovers. After Monday’s 105-101 overtime home loss to the Golden State Warriors in which Collison was terrible offensively (seven points on 2-for-11 shooting, five assists and five turnovers) and torched defensively by Stephen Curry (31 points, nine assists), his quickest move was exiting the locker room before the media was granted entrance for post game interviews.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle addressed his point guard’s spotty play by saying he must help Collison snap out of it.

“Right now, he’s our starting point guard,” Carlisle said. “I know he can play better. I know he’s frustrated with how things are going. Right now, I’ve just got to help him get better. When players struggle, it’s on the coach. I don’t dodge that responsibility.”

Even if Carlisle wanted to make a switch, he has no realistic option. Dallas waived the disgruntled Delonte West before the start of the season. Roddy Beaubois continues to be disappointingly ineffective and third-year guard Dominique Jones, while flashing potential in his recently increased role, is reckless handling the basketball and unreliable shooting it.

This isn’t to suggest the Mavs would be better off with Kidd, who is off to a strong start with the Knicks in his 19th season. Dallas wanted the 39 year old back, but he spurned its offer to join New York, the right move for him and the Mavs, regardless if Collison ultimately becomes Dallas’ long-term (not to mention the short-term) solution or not.

The Mavs were 4-1 when they headed to Madison Square Garden and gamely competed against the then-undefeated Knicks before falling late. The loss started this current 2-5 stretch that has Dallas, still without star Dirk Nowitzki, at .500 (6-6) and backed into a corner with the revenge-minded Los Angeles Lakers following the Knicks into town Saturday night.

It was in L.A. on opening night that the speedy Collison carved up Steve Nash and Dallas’ new cast surprisingly revved up an uncertain offense. In the first five games, Collison averaged 16.2 points on highly efficient shooting at close range, and 7.2 assists, while committing just six total turnovers.

In the last seven games, he’s averaged 11.2 points and 5.9 assists with 21 turnovers. In just the last four games, he’s shooting 30.8 percent while averaging 10.0 points, 5.5 assists and 3.3 turnovers.

At the other end, it’s been a scorched trail of point-guard destruction: Kemba Walker, Luke Ridnour, former Pacers teammate George Hill, Kyrie Irving and finally Curry’s explosion for a season high in points and assists. The Mavs have yet to see All-Star point guards the likes of Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook.

“Stephen Curry just didn’t outplay one player,” Mavs shooting guard O.J. Mayo said. “He outplayed the Dallas Mavericks.”

Maybe so, but Collison was on the floor for 38 of Curry’s 43 minutes and served as his primary defender. Offensively, Collison was ineffective, at best. He did hit the game-tying jumper with 36 seconds to play to force overtime after Curry’s fourth-quarter blitz, but even that was a broken play in which he failed to get the ball into center Chris Kaman on a mismatch.

If not for Mayo’s late scoring takeover — hero ball, as they like to say nowadays, at its essence — the Mavs might not have even reached overtime. Mayo had 18 of his team-high 27 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, and accounted for all 11 of Dallas’ points in OT on just one assist.

“I had the opportunity to have the ball in my hands,” Mayo said. “I didn’t have to depend on someone creating a shot for me.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for your point guard. And that’s a problem.

Timberwolves’ Roy Adjusts To Knees, Basketball Mortality

First there’s the instinct. Then comes the caution. The NBA season is young, but already it’s been a succession of green lights and yellow lights for Brandon Roy – things he wants to do, things he maybe shouldn’t do – followed over the weekend by a unnerving red light that shut him down after just a half of basketball for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Roy experienced soreness in his knee Friday against Indiana and was shut down by the Wolves’ coaches and trainers for both the second half that night and for the game at Chicago Saturday. He was considered a game-time decision for Minnesota’s game at Dallas Monday.

None of this was unexpected – Roy and the Timberwolves knew the basketball world would be monitoring the shooting guard’s knee health the way paparazzi watch Donald Trump’s coiffure for a brisk wind. He is, after all, the former NBA Rookie of the Year and three-time All-Star for the Portland Trail Blazers whose basketball career appeared to be over at age 27. Early retirement had been thrust on Roy 11 months ago by bone-on-bone agony in his knees, the deterioration of cartilage seen as incurable, irreversible and, for someone expected to perform at the highest level 82 nights a year, unendurable.

A year away from the game soothed his aching joints, however, and made him miss it in ways he never imagined, leading to what now is a tentative, potentially feel-good story for Roy, respected and well-liked throughout the NBA. If, that is, his knees don’t feel bad.

Roy had some soreness in the team’s final preseason game against Milwaukee. That’s what flared up on him Friday, he said, and it was Wolves coach Rick Adelman who put the brakes on any rush Roy felt to play through the pain. “He’s been the best,” Roy said as the visitors’ dressing room at Chicago’s United Center cleared late Saturday. “Coming to me with, y’know, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ The other day when I wanted to rush back and play, he was like, ‘No, no, we expected this.’ He said, ‘We’re going to sit you this game and see how you feel.’ Especially with this being a back-to-back.”

The schedule is friendly enough short-term. Minnesota’s next set of games on consecutive nights comes Nov. 23-24 at Portland and Golden State. A betting man would expect Roy to play, and play hard, against his former team in the first of those. Same guy probably would anticipate a little aching and swelling the next night in Oakland.

“He’s figuring that out,” Adelman said, as Roy navigates the physical and mental demands of his comeback. “He hasn’t been as effective as a lot of people thought he should be, but they’re thinking about the guy three years ago. He’s so used to just letting guys come to him and taking ’em off the dribble and finishing plays.

“Y’know, he’s just coming back after being off a year and he’s just not as sure of himself right now. [Friday] he came out and took three quick jumpers and knocked ’em down. Everybody who comes back from knee surgery or major surgery, if they’re smart players, they figure out how to get to their strengths. He still can do that. It’s just going to take time.”

The numbers are not pretty. In five appearances, Roy has averaged 5.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 24.4 minutes, while shooting 31.4 percent and 0-for-9 from the arc. Over his first five season, his numbers in those same categories were 19.0, 4.3, 4.7 and 35.6. He was a 46.0 percent shooter, 35.2 percent on 3-pointers.

This isn’t just a matter of Roy being productive. It’s a question of how he’s productive. Without explosiveness, without the carefree and pain-free abandon with which he used to play this game, Roy’s identity of the court is changing. In baseball terms, he’s the equivalent of a thrower who loses a few miles-per-hour off his fastball and has to learn how to be a pitcher, hitting his spots.

“But once they do that, a lot of those guys, [Greg] Maddux, [Tom] Glavine, can pitch till they’re 45,” Wolves teammate Kevin Love said. “He’s not – and he knows this too – he’s not quite ‘Brandon Roy, the past superstar.’ But he makes great plays, he plays good defense. He doesn’t have that explosiveness, that dancing in the lane that he used to have. But he’s still effective. He plays like a veteran.”

Love mentioned Grant Hill, “a guy who played at the top of the backboard, really energetic guy, very, very bouncy” who had to adjust after injury setbacks. Adelman in Houston coached Tracy McGrady through physical ailments that hampered and changed his game. It basically is a premature aging, a loss of marvelous powers. For so many of these guys who go through it, it’s like asking Superman, post-Kryptonite, to find some way to be happy merely as Batman.

Wolves guard Luke Ridnour has known Roy “since about fifth grade” and has his eye on this downward transformation. “He had so much talent – he could do everything with the ball,” Ridnour said. “But his basketball IQ is so high. He understands angles and where you get shots from and how to make passes. He’s such an unselfish player. Obviously, he’s still finding his game as far as shooting and just playing, but he’s looked great to me the whole two months I’ve seen him.” (more…)

Forget Holding the Fort, Timberwolves Fighting to Contend

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — If the Los Angeles Lakers were the unlikeliest team to start the season 1-4, then the Minnesota Timberwolves had to be voted most unlikely to start 4-1.

Not with double-double machine Kevin Love, and their fancy-pants playmaker Ricky Rubio nursing injuries for who knows still how long. Yet here are those frisky T’Wolves, victorious in four of their first five games, winning dramatically, slapping high-fives and hugs all around beneath by a roaring — yes, roaring — Target Center crowd.

“We’re a really resilient team, we’re a deep team,” Wolves newcomer Chase Budinger said after Friday’s latest triumph, secured when he somehow slipped the Indiana Pacers’ defense and received a brilliant pass from Andrei Kirilenko for the game-winning layup with less than a second to spare. “What you are seeing right now is guys are stepping up as guys are getting hurt and going down. Each and every game it seems like there is a new guy stepping up for this team. That’s why we are getting wins.”

The 96-94 win over the Pacers is a prime example. Backup point guard J.J. Barea was out with a foot sprain, leaving coach Rick Adelman to turn to Malcolm Lee behind Luke Ridnour. Two guard Brandon Roy stayed in the locker room after halftime because of a sore right knee, a risk the Wolves accepted when they signed the 28-year-old out of early retirement, a predicament they will carefully monitor.

Budinger led the Wolves with 18 points, becoming the fifth player in five games to finish with the honor. Entering the game, six players were averaging between Barea’s 9.3 points and center Nikola Pekovic’s 13.8.

Five of the 10 players Adelman used Friday night scored in double figures, the Wolves shot 50 percent from the floor and trekked to the free throw line 28 times, making 24. And somehow Adelman didn’t use anyone as many as 37 minutes.

No, Minnesota’s early schedule hasn’t been a murderer’s row. But, Budinger’s right, they’ve been resilient, coming back from 22 to knock off the Nets in Brooklyn, shaking off injuries and winning three of four by no fewer than 11 points.

“I like to win,” Kirilenko said. “I think everyone here did such a great job in the preseason and did such a great job to get together as a team, and I guess this is the payoff. It’s just the start of the season and our two best players are out. We have to do something and get those wins no matter what.”

Think it can’t continue? Check out the schedule for the rest of November. At worst, it’s manageable. Of the 10 games left this month, four are against playoff teams, starting at the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. They play at transitioning Dallas without Dirk Nowitzki on Monday, and Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers are sprinkled in among a slew of lottery teams.

If this scrappy group brimming with confidence can keep it up until their two studs return, the T’Wolves won’t yet be hailed as the team to beat in the West, but you’ll certainly want to set your DVRs.

Healthy Barea Critical To Wolves

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — About five hours before Sunday’s tip at Toronto, Minnesota Timberwolves point guard J.J. Barea was chirping away about how good his body feels, how his killer quickness is back and the excitement about his club’s chances for a breakthrough season, even with stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio sidelined.

After a lockout-shortened and injury-riddled season — one that he called “brutal” and one that limited him to just 41 of 66 games after he signed a four-year, $19 million contract to join the Timberwolves — Barea focused on getting his body right.

“For me, it was more about feeling good, getting quicker again and feeling good and feeling fast again, and that’s pretty much what I did,” Barea told in a phone conversation Sunday afternoon. “I feel great right now, so hopefully I can keep it going.”

And then midway through the second quarter of a one-point game with the Raptors, Barea drove the baseline and launched his compact body — listed at 6-foot, but realistically no taller than 5-foot-9 — and scored at the rim. But he crashed to the court and then appeared to get kicked in the head before his head thumped the hardwood. (more…)

Rubio’s knee, not timetable, matters


They waited two years for him after spending the No. 5 pick in the 2009 draft on a worth-the-gamble move. What’s the big deal if the Minnesota Timberwolves have to wait another three months? Or even four?

Ricky Rubio wants to be ready when he’s ready.

Only days shy of a training camp he’ll experience mostly as a bystander, Rubio continued his rehabilitation from knee surgery at the team’s practice facility. He is one of several NBA guards (Derrick Rose, Eric Maynor, Iman Schumpert) fighting back from torn ligaments, each on a timetable dictated less by the date of his injury than his body’s reaction to the repair.

Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune caught up with Rubio Thursday:

Back running on his surgically repaired knee for the third week now, … Rubio stopped long enough Thursday at Target Center to show off three scars that stripe his left leg and said he could play his next NBA game by December, nine months after he tore two ligaments there.

“I don’t know, they say December, but it could be January,” he said. “I don’t want to say a time because I don’t want to rush it. I want to be ready when I am ready.” (more…)

Beasley, Crawford On the Move …

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley could be on the move today with the trade deadline just hours away. So could Trail Blazers guard Jamal Crawford.

They could be a part of the same deal, if the reported three-team deal between the Timberwolves, Trail Blazers and Lakers has any legs. Dave McMenamin of has one version of the potential deal:

The Lakers revisited talks to acquire Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley on Wednesday, multiple league sources told Several variations of the trade have been discussed. One would land Beasley on the Lakers in a three-team deal that would send Portland Trail Blazers guard Jamal Crawford to the Wolves and Luke Ridnour from Minnesota to Portland. Los Angeles would give up one of its two 2012 first-round draft picks in the deal and use its $8.9 million trade exception, acquired when it traded Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks in December, to absorb Beasley’s approximate $6.3 million salary. Portland would also receive the Lakers’ first-round pick.

As of late Wednesday night no deal was completed, but a source familiar with the negotiations said, “the sides have momentum.”

Our man David Aldridge adds the following about the deal:

Rumors of this deal broke Wednesday evening, but Blake played for Los Angeles in the Lakers’ overtime win over New Orleans. Crawford did not play for Portland in the Blazers’ blowout loss in New York, but Beasley accompanied the Timberwolves to Utah, where they were to play the Jazz tonight. A source involved in the discussions said Thursday morning that the deal was on the table but not yet agreed upon.

Crawford was held out of the Trail Blazers’ loss in New York last night, the official reason given was tendinitis in his right knee. But it’s no secret that Trail Blazers have been exploring their trade options for Crawford.

Beasley would give the Lakers an option at small forward that they have been searching for. And Crawford gives the Timberwolves a short-term option in the backcourt (he is expected to opt-out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent again this summer) to help ease the blow of Ricky Rubio going down for the season.

Report: Ricky Rubio Done For Season

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Ricky Rubio‘s celebrated rookie season is over, according to a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Timberwolves’ point guard has a torn ligament in his left knee that will cost him the remainder of this season and possibly the Olympic games this summer in London.

This is devastating news for the Timberwolves, who are chasing a playoff spot for the first time in years behind the play of All-Star power forward Kevin Love and under the tutelage of first-year head coach Rick Adelman.

Rubio went down in the final seconds of Friday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, his knee buckling before he collided with Kobe Bryant. The fear Friday night was that it was a potential season-ending injury. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune confirmed those fears this afternoon:

Just when the franchise finally had reversed four long, losing seasons by surpassing .500 to become a playoff contender for the first time since 2004, Rubio was injured late in Friday’s home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rehabilitation time for such an injury usually is six to nine months, which means Rubio also likely will miss playing for Spain in the London Summer Olympics that begin in July.

On Thursday, the NBA introduced a commercial on its TNT doubleheader promoting Rubio’s passion, “unbridled joy” and ability to see things before they happen, which is why the commercial’s tag line is, “So he already knows El Futuro Es Big.”

That, btw, means The Future is Big.

On Friday, Rubio fell to the floor clutching his left knee and shin after he went to help defend Lakers star Kobe Bryant. He planted to his left foot in an attempt to block Bryant’s path with the ball and his knee appeared to buckle just before he collided with Bryant.

He was called for a foul on the play, an infraction that sent Bryant to the free-throw line for the eventual game-winning free throws in a 105-102 victory.

The Wolves not only lost the game on the play, they lost their starting point guard and a player who finally, after all these years, has made them internationally relevant again.

Rubio was helped to the bench, where he held his hand over his eyes while the team’s athletic trainer probed Rubio’s knee with his hands.

He tried to walk during an ensuing timeout, but only made it a few steps before the knee gave out on him and he was helped back to the bench. Teammates helped him to the locker room at the game’s conclusion and he later left the arena walking with the help of a friend.

As of Friday night, Rubio and fellow rookie Derrick Williams were the only Timberwolves who had played in all 41 games this season.

The Timberwolves have point guard depth, with Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea on the roster. But Ridnour has been rumored to be on the trading block, with Thursday’s deadline looming, and Barea hasn’t ever been a full-time starter.

Losing Rubio leaves a gaping hole in the backcourt for the Timberwolves and robs them of their young floor leader and one of the most exciting players in the league.

Trade Chatter: Orlando’s ‘Dwight Howard Watch’ Continues

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The countdown clock is ticking … and on the Orlando Sentinel‘s Dwight Howard Watch page, it’s literally ticking … down to next Thursday’s trade deadline with no guarantees as to what’s going to happen to the Magic’s superstar center and the city and franchise that don’t want to lose him.

A week away from what could be doomsday for Magic fans if Howard is dealt and no one is quite sure what’s going to change in Orlando.

There is a strong belief that the Magic will call Howard’s trade request bluff and keep him on the roster with no chance of getting anything for him if he leaves via free agency this summer, as’s Marc Stein makes clear here:

I’m sure some of the “Magic resolve” chatter that’s been gaining traction in recent days about how increasingly determined they are to keep him beyond the deadline is at least partly designed as a means of trying to improve the offers that come in before the deadline. Yet it seems evident that the stronger belief in the Magic Kingdom is that it’s better to keep Dwight and face the worst-case-scenario consequences of losing him for nothing if there’s so much as a 10 percent chance of him changing his mind.

The vibe coming from the Magic is that owner Rich DeVos prefers that scenario, frightening as it is, to what Orlando can get for Dwight in a trade today. Fortunately we have only about a week more to wait to find out whether Orlando’s bravery has staying power … or whether the claim that it’ll take its chances with mere salary-cap space should Dwight bolt was just posturing.

It’s strange, with all of the wild and crazy rumors that were flying around a week ago this time you’d expect we’d have more of the same. But instead, rumors are being shot down with increasing frequency.

Take a spin around the league and see all of the guys who were supposed to be on the block who are no longer considered to be in that mix, and that includes the likes of Rajon Rondo, Pau Gasol and a few of our other trade rumor faves:


The Best Power Forward In The Game

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — TNT’s Charles Barkley crowned him weeks ago.

Kevin Love said he doesn’t take the floor with anything else on his mind.

And with performance after performance, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ All-Star makes his case for being the “best power forward in the game.”

His monster performance against Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers last night should serve as the latest piece of evidence in his case for top honors. Love dropped 38 points and 17 boards on the Clippers — and for the record, Love is 3-0 against Griffin and the Clippers this season. Dating back to last season, he’s averaging 21.0 points and 12.9 rebounds in seven (4-3) head-to-head matchups against Griffin, who promises to be one of his rivals for top power forward honors in the years to come.

Love’s not just piling up fantastic numbers on a bad team anymore either. The Timberwolves are winners of two straight games, are 7-3 in their last 10 games, 20-19 overall and knocking on the door for that last playing spot in the Western Conference, they’re just a game and a half behind the Rockets for the eighth spot this morning.


Kahn’s Point Guard Love Paying Off

ORLANDO — Few men love point guards the way Minnesota Timberwolves general manager David Kahn does. He is, after all, the man who selected three in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft (Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn and Ty Lawson) and has taken the heat from us over the years for his fetish.

Kahn’s acquired (and traded) a few point guards during his tenure as well. And Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman routinely deploys three (Rubio, Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea) at a time late in games.

Kahn’s crazy, point guard-fueled master plan seems to be working, though. The Timberwolves head into All-Star weekend at .500 or better for the first time since the 2004-05 season, courtesy of Ridnour’s buzzer beater last night over Utah.

We’re not ready to proclaim this a playoff team, but with a bevy of options in the backcourt and All-Star Kevin Love, promising rookie Derrick Williams and surprise talent like Nikola Pekovic to flesh out the frontcourt mix, this team is well on its way to becoming a legitimate factor in the playoff race for seasons to come.