Posts Tagged ‘Mario Elie’

Morning Shootaround — July 29

VIDEO: Grizzlies ‘ecstatic’ to have Barnes in Memphis


New Bucks arena bill passes in Wisconsin | Grizzlies feel Barnes is perfect fit | Orlando’s Gordon working on game

No. 1: New Bucks arena bill passes in Wisconsin New ownership took over the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014, and they began making over the franchise, changing personnel, uniforms, and beginning a campaign to get some public funding for a new arena. After a few months of public posturing and conversation with local and state lawmakers, the state assembly passed a bill yesterday that seems to guarantee the Bucks future in Milwaukee

Almost seven months after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker proposed public money for the new Milwaukee Bucks arena, the Assembly Tuesday returned a $250 million bill to him, completing the last of the legislative challenges the presidential candidate laid out this year.

The Assembly approved the bill on a bipartisan vote of 52-34, leaving a healthy margin to spare because of absent lawmakers. The measure passed the Senate 21-10 on a bipartisan vote on July 15 and so it now goes to Walker.

While campaigning at two South Philadelphia cheesesteak joints, the governor said he would sign the much-revised measure, calling it a good deal for Wisconsin.

“It’s critical not only for those who love sports, but the main reason I got into it was because it protected state revenues,” Walker said, citing the income taxes Wisconsin would lose if the team leaves the state. “That just creates a big hole for everything else. … This was really about protecting the taxpayers of the state.”

Next up for the team is working out a land sale with Milwaukee County and getting approval for the arena from the Milwaukee Common Council. Speaking at the Capitol after the Assembly vote, Bucks head coach Jason Kidd and team president Peter Feigin praised the deal and said the remaining pieces could be assembled in time for construction to start in the fall.

“I’m not overly confident, but I’m confident,” Feigin said of reaching the land deal and getting city approval.

After months in which the measure struggled to gain support, the Assembly debate was anticlimactic, lasting about an hour and including not even a single floor speech by an opponent. In the end, 35 Republicans and 17 Democrats voted for the measure.

Two lawmakers from the greater Milwaukee area, Democrat Daniel Riemer of Milwaukee and Republican Adam Neylon of Pewaukee, missed the vote Tuesday while they were in Turkey as part of a cultural exchange for legislators but said they would have both voted against it. Regardless of party, most lawmakers from in and around the city voted for the proposal, except Democrats David Bowen and Jonathan Brostoff of Milwaukee and Republicans Chris Kapenga of Delafield and David Craig of Big Bend.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) kicked off the final debate by thanking both Democratic and Republican lawmakers and stressing that he believed that state taxpayers would get a good return on their share of the total subsidy package. Doing nothing would leave the city and state with a “black eye” and the loss of a promising team, he said.

“It is cheaper for us to pass this bill than defeat it and let the team leave,” Vos said.


No. 2: Grizzlies feel Barnes is perfect fit After a few years of playoff runs but not being able to get past the Conference finals, the Memphis Grizzlies have made moves to strengthen their bench this season. And perhaps the most important addition to the Grizzlies may be forward Matt Barnes, who the Grizz feel is a perfect match for their grit and grind mentality…

“This is a whole – not just team but city – with my ideal, a grind mentality,” Barnes said Tuesday. “I’ve been on teams that run-and-gun and dunk and shoot a lot of 3’s, but I’ve never been on a team that everyone has the same mindset I do. That’s very exciting from a player’s standpoint.”

The Grizzlies acquired Barnes, 35, from the Charlotte Hornets last month in exchange for guard Luke Ridnour.

Charlotte had picked up Barnes along with center Spencer Hawes less than two weeks earlier in a trade that sent guard Lance Stephenson to the Los Angeles Clippers. Barnes averaged 10.1 points, 4 rebounds and 1.5 assists while playing a career-high 29.9 minutes per game with the Clippers last season.

Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said the 35-year-old Barnes “wears his heart on his sleeve,” an approach that could make the 6-foot-7 forward an ideal fit for a franchise that relies on hustle and defense.

“If there’s any player that was destined to be a Grizzly, it’s Matt Barnes,” Wallace said. “He’s a guy that we had our dustups with when he was on the other side of the fence – particularly the Clippers – but now he’s one of us and we’re ecstatic to have him.”

The Grizzlies actually drafted Barnes in the second round in 2002, but they immediately traded him to Cleveland in a draft-night deal. Barnes has been moving around ever since. He’s played for both Los Angeles franchises as well as Sacramento, New York, Philadelphia, Golden State, Phoenix and Orlando.

This latest move has his twin sons somewhat confused.

“They’re just like, ‘Daddy, so do you not like DeAndre (Jordan), Chris (Paul) and Blake (Griffin) anymore?’ ” Barnes said. “I’m like, ‘No, they’re still my friends. They’re the enemy when the ball goes up.’ I’m a competitor. I have friends on the other team obviously, but for 48 minutes my only friends are my teammates.”

Barnes irritates opponents with his tenacious defense and fiery personality. The Grizzlies already have one of the league’s top defenders in guard Tony Allen. Having both could make the Grizzlies even peskier.

“The best compliment you can give somebody is that you just don’t like playing against him,” Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said. “Matt’s a guy we just did not like playing against. … We want those kinds of guys on our team.”


No. 3: Orlando’s Gordon working on game The Orlando Magic entered a rebuilding campaign a few years ago and have amassed quite a collection of young talent, from Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo to Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris. Another player showing promise is Aaron Gordon, who followed his rookie season with a big Summer League performance, and is still looking to improve, writes’s Fran Blinebury

His rookie season became a virtual washout almost from the moment last November when Gordon fractured a bone in his left foot and missed two months. Despite the first double-double of his career in April, there was plenty of work to be done.

But it was a different, a more comfortable, a more confident Gordon who took the floor for the Magic at the Orlando Summer League and began to show why he was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft.

Gordon beat defenders off the dribble and finished with power dunks. He pulled up off the dribble and stroked jumpers like they were his calling card. He even nailed 3-pointers.

Put all those newfound skills together with the 6-foot-9, 230-pound body, explosive leaping ability and assorted athletic moves and Gordon is a candidate to make big strides next season.

“Last year there was a lot of being uncomfortable,” Gordon said. “This year I’m a lot more comfortable. So it’s easy for me.”

The transformation was only “easy” because Gordon has logged countless hours of hard work inside the Magic practice gym at Amway Center and on the West Coast near his home in San Jose, Calif.

“A lot of people don’t see the work that Aaron puts in,” said Mario Elie, one of the new members of Scott Skiles‘ Orlando coaching staff. “When I first came here in June, he’s in the gym working on his shot. I’m in the office all day. He’ll go home and come back to work on his game again and I’m not surprised he was one of the top scorers in the Summer League.

“He’s a young player who wants to be great. He has the right frame of mind, the right attitude,” Elie said. “He’s like a sponge. You tell him to do something, he goes out and does it. He can be a great leader for this young ball club. At 19 years old? This guy It’s fantastic to see.”


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: LeBron James answered questions from fans on Twitter … Festus Ezeli moved from Africa to California to become a doctor. Instead he became an NBA champCraig Hodges has been let go as coach of the Knicks’ D-League team … Damien Wilkins is hoping to build off of his experience with the Pan-Am team …

Thunder’s ‘Others’ Getting The Best Of Their Hyped Spurs Counterparts

HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — It’s easy to focus on the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Big 3 Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden when they’re playing as well as they have in the past three games of the Western Conference finals.

But to focus solely on the stars would overlook perhaps the most startling development in this series. The Thunder’s role players, commonly referred to as the “others,” are outplaying their Spurs counterparts considerably in the past 12 quarters of this series.

Praised by many as the deepest and most balanced team in the league, the Spurs haven’t been able to lean on the likes of Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter or any of the extras who helped them roll to 20 straight wins since April 11, and that includes those two wins over the Thunder in Games 1 and 2. They’ve been in the conference finals witness protection program the past three games, though, as the Thunder have seized control with three straight wins.

Neal suffered a through a particularly ugly performance on this night, shooting 0-for-6 from the floor and scoring just two points in his 14 minutes of action. His 6-for-22 shooting effort in the past three games is indicative of the struggles that have plagued the Spurs’ extras.

Meanwhile, the Thunder have received timely contributions from guys like Derek Fisher, Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha and Daequan Cook, whose eight points(on a perfect 3-for-3 shooting from the floor, and consecutive makes from long distance) in just three minutes and 54 seconds of action in the first half of Game 5 proved to be crucial to the Thunder’s cause in their 108-103 win.


Do-It-Yourself Scouting In Sac-town?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – It’s no secret that the Kings need a new arena in order to remain in Sacramento for the long term.

But according to former first-round draft pick Antoine Wright, who has played for four different clubs in six seasons, what the Kings could also use to regain relevance in the Western Conference are scouting reports.

As part of a longer tale in which he acknowledges his own mistakes but seems to take responsibility for none of them, Wright tells Sam Amick of that during his brief stay in Sacramento last season that the team was shockingly unprepared stepping onto the court:

“My rift, really, with the organization was that I don’t think they prepared the guys enough to win basketball games,” Wright said. “We were probably the only team in the NBA that didn’t have a scouting report. How do you expect a young team to go out and carry a game plan? Every team I’ve been on, they give you a scouting report on every guy on the team, a couple paragraphs about each guy before you go out there and play against him.

“Coming on the court before the game was chaos – no structure whatsoever, and we kind of had a laid-back coach. [Paul] Westphal was pretty laid back, and with a group of young guys, you’ve got to have somebody who comes in and disciplines them.”

Wright wasn’t even close to done yet.

“I’m not going to throw any of their players under the bus, but one of the main players who was a big part of our team, his attitude was really, really bad — I’m pretty sure you can figure out who that guy is,” he said before confirming that he was speaking of then-rookie forward-center DeMarcus Cousins. “Tyreke [Evans] had a pretty good attitude. His work ethic wasn’t great, but he’s a good young player. I believed in him completely. I just don’t think the coaches did enough to prepare us to win games.”

The 6-foot-7 guard was taken by the Nets with the No. 15 pick in the 2005 Draft and never averaged more than his 7.3 points per game with Dallas in the 2008-09 season. He signed a one-year contract with the Kings last summer, but lasted only seven games with the team following an arrest for DUI and a blow-up with assistant coach Mario Elie. Then Wright finished last season playing for the Jiangsu Nangang Dragons in the Chinese Basketball Association.

You have to wonder how Wright thinks he’s helping his chances of re-making image and getting back into the NBA. But in a league that increasingly relies on analytics and detailed preparation, if what Wright says is true, maybe you can stop wondering how the Kings haven’t made the playoffs since 2006 and have just a 49-115 record over the past two seasons.

Note to future Kings: Subscribe to NBA League Pass and do your own scouting.

Cousins has ‘foul’ triple-double


By Drew Packham

LAS VEGAS — DeMarcus Cousins became the second player this Summer League to pull off a triple-double.

Unfortunately, it was one he’d like to forget.

Cousins had a respectable 16 points and 12 rebounds (albeit on 5-for-18 shooting), but he got the triple-double thanks to his 10 fouls. (Players are allowed 10 fouls in Summer League before fouling out.)
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Kings assistant Mario Elie, acting as head coach in Las Vegas, wasn’t pleased with the calls.

“Very frustrated,” Elie said. “I didn’t like the officiating today. I mean, God, you’ve gotta let these young guys play in the summer. Looked like the game was going to take four hours. Granted, there was a lot of fouling, and these officials are trying to show the NBA officials up there, but you’ve got to let players play.”

Cousins isn’t the first this summer to pull off the rare triple-double. Suns rookie Gani Lawal did it Monday against the Mavs with 15 points, 11 boards and the 10 fouls.

Elie was, however, happy with Cousins’ reaction.

“I like how he responded,” Elie said. “I wanted to see how he responded when things weren’t going his way. He was a little down, but I tried to keep encouraging him. He kept rebounding the ball. He’s just got to learn to play through that and be smarter.”

Cousins bruised, but confident


By Drew Packham

LAS VEGAS — You can bet DeMarcus Cousins will be getting a mouthpiece tomorrow.

For the second straight day, Cousins was sporting reminders of a physical Summer League game.

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On Monday, Cousins had butterfly bandages on his lower lip after getting knocked in the face. A day later, he had a fat lip to show for a game in which he faced constant double teams but still finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

“DeMarcus is tough, man,” Kings summer league coach Mario Elie said. “Nothing bothers him. We told him to get a mouthpiece because he’s going to see a lot of that. He’s always in the mix, always fighting for rebounds. He’s a double-double machine. It’s sad that they have to double him in the summer. I can imagine just to let him play one-on-one what he’d do.”

Still, after two games, the bruising isn’t hurting Cousins’ confidence. When asked of his goals for the season, the big man out of Kentucky didn’t hesitate.

“I’m going for the Rookie of the Year,” Cousins said. “I want to win, I want to be the best rookie coming in this season. That’s the goal.”