Posts Tagged ‘MarShon Brooks’

Warriors Bolster Their Beleagured Bench … And More, Possibility


VIDEO: Nuggets hold off Warriors in shootout

OAKLAND – They added a backup, and one who will play behind the best player on the team at that, an obvious and important perspective. The Warriors got a Jordan, but not Michael. A Celtic, but a 2013-14 model.

The Golden State move to improve the bench was acquiring Jordan Crawford from Boston on Wednesday, along with MarShon Brooks, as part of a three-team trade that also included Miami. Splashy it was not, not after weeks of talks around the league that included the likes of Andre Miller and Kirk Hinrich, players with bigger names and longer resumés. Neither was it the direct hit of getting a dependable distributor to run the offense when Stephen Curry sits or to ride together in the same backcourt and allow Curry to play off the ball.

But it was good. The Warriors essentially gave up nothing, sending only Toney Douglas to the Heat and got the chance for something. Crawford in particular, and maybe Brooks, will be a scoring punch for the bench that ranks last in the league in points. The move may also provide an energy infusion after a half-season of Douglas, who averaged 11 minutes per game and shot 37.2 percent, seeming lost as a regrettable free-agent signing.

In a Western Conference race so tight that the little things could turn into a big difference, the Warriors just got a lot of little things. They needed bench help in general and in the backcourt in particular, and got Crawford averaging 13.7 points and a career-high 5.7 assists as he served as Boston’s injury replacement at the point for the injured Rajon Rondo. Golden State was 26th in the league in free-throw accuracy at the time of the trade, and it got Crawford, who is shooting 87.3 percent this season and owns an 82.7 career mark. Those numbers give the Warriors another option for late-game situations.

Plus, the Warriors did it without surrendering players on rookie deals, a goal, or future first-rounders. Amazingly, they still have other options at their disposal. With five weeks before the trade deadline, they have one trade exception worth $11 million, another at $4 million and approximately $2.2 million of spending room before reaching the luxury tax. And, if necessary, general manager Bob Myers said, owner Joe Lacob is willing to cross the tax line for the right deal.

Little things. Little things that potentially become big things.

Myers, when asked if he would have been worried going into the playoffs with a shallow bench, Douglas not contributing and Curry (38 minutes a game) and Andre Iguodala (33 minutes a game) starting at small forward while playing back-up point guard, he said:

“We’re worried all the time. We’re always trying to get better. I’m worried tonight. I’ll be worried tomorrow. That’s what we do. We’re always trying to get better. But specifically to your question about the backup point guard, we did need to address it. We felt like with (Nemanja) Nedovic, (Kent) Bazemore and Douglas, somebody would step into that role and for a variety of reasons, it didn’t happen or hasn’t happened yet. We felt we needed to make a move … ”

The bench has been a problem all season, magnified by the memory of the reserves as a critical part of the success a year ago, and the reality that Douglas and Marreese Speights haven’t come within a hemisphere of replacing Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry. Now comes the chance at a recovery. Crawford and Brooks will join the lineup soon, the Warriors estimate Jermaine O’Neal is two or three weeks away from returning from wrist surgery, and Festus Ezeli, another important 2012-13 reserve now missing, is expected back possibly in February but probably on March.

Report: Warriors Get Celts’ Crawford, Heat Get Douglas In Multi-Team Deal


VIDEO: The Starters crew break down the Celtics-Warriors-Heat trade

From NBA.com staff reports

The Golden State Warriors have been the hottest team in the league lately, with 11 wins in their last 12 games (and a 10-game win streak just a week or so ago). But as our own John Schuhmann has pointed out, Golden State has lacked in guard depth all season long, forcing it to play point guard Steph Curry and playmaking forward Andre Iguodala major minutes to offset that shortcoming.

But that changes with reports of a three-team trade between the Warriors, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat that will send Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks from Boston to Golden State for future picks. The Celtics will end up with Joel Anthony and some future Draft picks from the Heat, and the Heat get Toney Douglas from Golden State. Rumors of the trade were first broken by veteran NBA reporter Peter Vecsey and have been confirmed by Yahoo! Sports.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As part of a three-team deal, the Boston Celtics have traded guards Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Golden State Warriors, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Warriors will send guard Toney Douglas to the Miami Heat, and Miami sends center Joel Anthony and a future first-round pick and second-round pick to the Celtics, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Miami will send a first-round pick it owns from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Celtics, but that pick becomes two second-round picks should the Sixers miss the playoffs in 2013-14 and 2014-15. The Heat will save $11.5 million in salary and luxury tax with the unloading of Anthony’s contract. Anthony has appeared in just 12 games for Miami this season, averaging a little more three minutes.

Gary Dzen and Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe provide some additional context on the deal:

In a separate move, the Celtics assigned Rajon Rondo, out since last January with a knee injury, to their Maine affiliate in the NBA D-League. Rondo is expected to test his knee there before returning to the Celtics, possibly as early as Friday.

“Rajon is progressing terrifically in his rehab and this is the next step,” Celtics boss Danny Ainge said. “This is a brief assignment so that Rajon can participate in a workout this afternoon with the Red Claws and he will be called back up to the Celtics upon the conclusion of the workout.”

Rondo’s impending return and Boston’s rebuilding plans made Crawford expendable. When Rondo returns, he’ll join a backcourt rotation of Avery Bradley, Jerryd Bayless, and Phil Pressey.

Crawford, who is making $2.16 million this season, averaged 13.7 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.1 rebounds in almost 31 minutes per game this season will the Celtics. Brooks has seen very limited action since being traded to Boston over the summer.

After figuring heavily in Miami’s rotation three seasons ago, the 6-foot-9-inch Anthony was averaging 3.1 minutes per game for the Heat this year. He is owed $3.8 million in salary next season.

Bench Mobs: Four That Got Better

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Every general manager’s goal is to assembly an energetic, productive bench.

A strong second unit filled with single-minded role players enhances a team’s chances at winning. Just look at the two-time champion Miami Heat and perennially contending San Antonio Spurs: both clubs received significant bench contributions throughout the 2012-13 season. Still, a deep and talented bench does not ensure success — the Los Angeles Clippers being Exhibit A.

Arguably the NBA’s deepest bench last season, L.A.’s reserves ranked fourth in scoring and second in overall production (points, assists and rebounds combined). The second unit of Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf ranked as the third-best defensive unit in the league. Yet the Clippers lost in the first round to the Memphis Grizzlies, whose thin bench was considered a major weakness.

The goal is to build a well-rounded and deep roster that doesn’t falter when the starters sit, that can change pace when needed and can light it up just as well as lock it down.

Four teams looking to make a charge in their respective conferences — including the all-in Clippers and the go-getter Golden State Warriors in the West; and in the East the rugged-but-reinforcement-thin Indiana Pacers and the money-is-nothing Brooklyn Nets — completed significant offseason signings and trades that should bolster each club’s depth:

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

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Loses: G Bledsoe, G Chauncey Billups, F Odom (still available), F Grant Hill (retired), F/C Turiaf

Additions: G J.J. Redick, G/F Jared Dudley, G Darren Collison, F Reggie Bullock (draft pick)

Why they’re better: Only two members of the aforementioned third-ranked defensive unit, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes, are returning as of today (Odom remains a possibility) to the Clippers’ second unit, so they could slip defensively. But the firepower is all-world with Redick (a 39 percent career 3-point shooter) and Dudley (40.5 percent) joining Sixth Man runner-up Crawford (35.0 percent). Collison has plenty to prove after twice losing his starting job in Dallas to late-30-somethings Derek Fisher and Mike James. The ultra-quick Collison backed up Chris Paul as a rookie in New Orleans and he now has a defined role that should suit his game. Plenty of experience and savvy leaves town in Hill and Billups, but they played a combined 51 games last season. Hill was not part of the playoff rotation until former coach Vinny Del Negro got desperate late in the first-round series loss. New coach and senior vice president of basketball operations Doc Rivers has given himself plenty of options with a bench unit that might top last season’s group. Free agents Barnes, center Ryan Hollins and guard Willie Green return.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

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Loses: Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry

Additions: Marreese Speights, Toney Douglas, C Jermaine O’Neal, Nemanja Nedovic (draft pick)

Why they’re better: Simply, Andre Iguodala. Acquiring the veteran forced out Jack and Landry, but also provides instant depth for a young team that basically rode seven players in the playoffs after David Lee injured his hip. The tough call for coach Mark Jackson will be moving either semi-conscious shooter Klay Thompson or confident forward Harrison Barnes to the bench (both started every game they played last season) to make room for the 6-foot-6 Iguodala. Thompson could challenge for Sixth Man of the Year honors and he’d easily replace the scoring punch Jack provided. The second-year Barnes, who truly emerged during the playoffs, can provide everything the blue-collar Landry delivered only with advanced skills in every facet, especially with his burgeoning offensive arsenal. Barnes could discover some very favorable matchups off the bench. Speights, more accurately, will be expected to fill Landry’s role. The Warriors also bring back impressive frontcourt youngsters Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli, who should benefit from the presence of the steady veteran O’Neal.

INDIANA PACERS

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Loses: F Tyler Hansbrough, F Jeff Pendergraph

Additions: F Chris Copeland, G C.J. Watson, G Donald Sloan, F Solomon Hill (draft pick)

Why they’re better: The wild card here is forward Danny Granger, who missed all but five games last season with a left knee injury but will be back. With Paul George emerging as a star, Granger could find himself as the Pacers’ sixth man — imagine that. A better bench might have pushed Indiana past Miami in the East finals. The Pacers were one of six teams whose bench averaged fewer than 80 mpg, and they ranked 29th in scoring. The veteran Watson should stabilize a backcourt that had no consistent answer (D.J. Augustin) coming off the bench last season. Watson is a solid veteran who rarely turns the ball over — less than one a game in 19.0 mpg last season with Brooklyn — and is the type of team-first player president of basketball operations Larry Bird wants for coach Frank Vogel. And then there’s the unexpected feather in Bird’s cap — forward Chris Copeland. The 29-year-old late-bloomer provided the Knicks with energetic play off the bench and surprising accuracy from beyond the arc (59-for-140, 42.1 percent). The 6-foot-8, 235-pounder gives Indy a rugged backup for David West and weakens a rival.

BROOKLYN NETS

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Loses: G C.J. Watson, G Keith Bogans, G MarShon Brooks, F Kris Humphries

Additions: G Jason Terry, G Shaun Livingston, G D.J. White, F Andrei Kirilenko, C/F Mason Plumlee (draft pick)

Why they’re better: While a pudgy Deron Williams hobbled about on bum ankles for the first couple of months last season, the Nets’ bench carried the team, so they were no slouches to begin with. But when you add Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the starting lineup, that turns rebounding machine Reggie Evans and offensive weapon Andray Blatche into reserves and instantly improves that group. Terry remains a dangerous streak shooter even after a down season in Boston. The 6-foot-7 Livingston has quietly resurrected his career and should find a home backing up D-Will, who played like an All-Star in the second half of last season. The coup was snagging Kirilenko, who signed for $3.18 million after opting out of his $10-million deal with Minnesota. Kirilenko is always a nagging injury away from missing handfuls of games at a time, but the 6-foot-9 countryman of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is a do-it-all stat-sheet-filler. He is a sneaky offensive presence on the baseline and a rangy defender the Nets can use against Carmelo Anthony and other rival scoring threats.

Nets’ Offensive Sputters Might Require ‘Last-Resort Guy’ Brooks

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CHICAGO – MarShon Brooks
, the Brooklyn Nets’ second-year shooting guard and deep reserve, was on the floor for the entire fourth quarter of their Game 3 loss to the Chicago Bulls Thursday night at United Center. It wasn’t a bad 12 minutes in what otherwise was a clunker: Down 17 points with 8:35 left, the Nets outscored their hosts 20-6 the rest of the way.

Brooks (two points, two rebounds) was part of that in a stint that coach P.J. Carlesimo said was better than his individual numbers. He even was in the middle of Brooklyn’s last gasp, passing up a 3-pointer contested by Chicago’s Luol Deng to set up C.J. Watson, open in the right corner, for one that missed.

So maybe Brooks – who got more opportunities on a bad Nets teams as a rookie (29.4 mpg, 12.6 ppg) than on this season’s upgraded squad (12.5, 5.4) – could be an “X” factor for a team struggling to score.

“To be thrown into the fourth quarter, that’s probably the most intense part of the game,” the 24-year-old product of Providence said Friday at the team’s hotel. “I would like to play more and if I play more, I feel like I would contribute more. Especially when we have a hard time scoring – that’s kind of what I do.”

To a fault, frequently. Brooks is considered a liability on defense and he can frustrate teammates with his black-hole tendencies. He benefits from “backup quarterback syndrome,” with a segment of Brooklyn fans clamoring for him, wanting increased minutes and scoring chances because he has so much, y’know, potential.

But even Brooks knows that isn’t likely to happen.

“Honestly this year, it is what it is,” he said before the Nets’ video session and meeting. “I’ve been kind of a last-resort guy. If it’s not working for everybody else, that’s when they throw me out there. That’s just the way it’s been. … Down by 10, we need a spark, throw me out there.”

Guess what? The Nets are down by 10 figuratively, trailing in a series 2-1, home-court advantage gone and showing no sustainable offensive breakthroughs. They have shot 34.9 percent in the two losses (21.4 percent from the arc). In a span of 13:45 across the first and second quarters Thursday, Brooklyn took 25 shots, missed 24 and got outscored 28-4.

Sure, Chicago’s halfcourt defense is stifling. That’s a given. It still is on Carlesimo, his staff and the players too to add wrinkles to their attack and iron out ones that don’t belong.

One issue has been the high number of pipefitters and bricklayers on the Brooklyn roster. Reggie Evans, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries and aging Jerry Stackhouse aren’t exactly lithe offensive thoroughbreds – they’re relative Clydesdales and they have largely been neglected by Bulls defenders, who instead load up on Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. Yet those guys, coming free, haven’t made Chicago pay with put-backs and second chances.

“If they are going to load up,” Carlesimo said, “we have to get offensive rebounds and take better care of the ball.”

Anything else? “We can set better screens,” the Brooklyn coach said. “Spacing, too. … When our bail-out spots are what they’re supposed to be, we should be able to move the ball. Because they load so much to the strong side of the floor, there’s usually at least one extra guy there. If you position yourself where you’re supposed to be, there should at least be a pass available.

“When you don’t space it well, when you don’t set solid screens, when you don’t set sides of the floor against them, you don’t score. Against other teams, you can not do those things and still overcome it. You can’t overcome it against a really good defensive team, which they obviously are.”

Carlesimo said he would alter his starting lineup only if Johnson, battling plantar fasciitis in his left foot, were unable to play. But he did say he would go to his bench sooner or tinker with player combinations if points continue to trickle in. Brooklyn can’t simply wait and hope it replicates its offense from the series opener (55.8 percent shooting, 106 points in the Game 1 victory). Too much unpredictability.

“We’re not unique but we’re at times our own worst enemy and at times it’s refreshing,” Carlesimo said, “the fact that there’s not always a correlation between what we’re going to do tomorrow and what we did yesterday.”

That might offer a glimmer of hope even for the last-resort guy.

Have We Seen The Best Of The Nets?

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BROOKLYN – The Brooklyn Nets gave one away on Thursday, blowing an early 16-point lead and falling to the very undermanned Chicago Bulls, 92-90. Ultimately, the loss may not mean anything, because the Nets still have a 1 1/2 game lead on the Bulls for fourth place in the Eastern Conference and face Lottery teams, against whom they’re 29-6 this season, in five of their last seven games.

A fourth-place finish in the East would give the Nets home-court advantage in first round, likely against Atlanta or Chicago. A loss in that series would be a disappointment, especially when you consider Brooklyn’s payroll. A win would set them up to lose in four or five games to the Miami Heat.

Other than losing in the first round, there’s no avoiding that fate, which has basically been the path the Nets have been on for the last couple of weeks, since the Knicks and Pacers started playing well again.

I wrote about this yesterday. And maybe this is just who the Nets are. Maybe they’re just a good, but not great, basketball team.

But it’s hard not to wonder if we’ve ever really seen the best of the Nets this season. They currently rank ninth in offensive efficiency and 19th defensively. They could and, really, should be better.

Injuries have been an issue. Deron Williams has missed just three games this season, but was clearly not at his best for the first 50 games, dealing with sore ankles and other various ailments. He’s been much better since the All-Star break, but Joe Johnson has had a couple of different injuries since then. Brook Lopez‘s foot injury in late November is what really knocked the Nets off track after a strong start. And Gerald Wallace, in standard Gerald Wallace fashion, has been banged up too.

The Nets have looked like a great team at times. They have road wins in Boston, Oklahoma City, New York and Indiana. But, other than a 12-2 stretch after P.J. Carlesimo took over for Avery Johnson, success has always been rather fleeting.

Carlesimo made some minor changes, gave Mirza Teletovic a shot in the rotation after the break, and is now giving MarShon Brooks more consistent playing time than he’s had all season. But he has been pretty vanilla with his lineups, and that’s where the Nets may be leaving something on the table.

Of Lopez’s 2,079 minutes on the floor, 1,639 (79 percent) have been played with either Reggie Evans or Kris Humphries at power forward. Neither Evans nor Humphries, of course, spaces the floor very well.

Teletovic is very different from Evans or Humphries, in that he can shoot from beyond five feet. But he has played just 112 minutes at the four next to Lopez.

Andray Blatche has also shot the ball well out to 19 feet or so. But he has played just 86 minutes with Lopez. The Nets’ five best players are arguably Williams, Johnson, Wallace, Blatche and Lopez, a group that has played just 20 minutes together over four games this season.

One of the best lineups the Nets have had this season is a small one. Williams, Keith Bogans, Johnson, Wallace and Lopez have outscored their opponents by 18.3 points per 100 possessions in 107 minutes together. Now, those numbers are skewed somewhat by a couple of late-December games against the Bobcats and Cavs, but that lineup has played just seven minutes together since the All-Star break.

In total, Lopez has played just 242 minutes with someone other than Blatche, Evans, Humphries or Teletovic at power forward. And those minutes have been very good, especially defensively.

Nets efficiency with Brook Lopez on the floor

Power forward MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Reggie Evans 1,125 105.6 103.2 +2.4 +69
Kris Humphries 514 106.1 105.1 +1.0 +14
Mirza Teletovic 112 115.8 110.4 +5.3 +19
Andray Blatche 86 104.8 100.3 +4.6 +17
Other (small lineups) 242 106.3 99.2 +7.1 +72
TOTAL 2,079 106.4 103.5 +2.9 +191

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

When asked about his lineups, Carlesimo has said that he goes with matchups. But he has obviously been leaning heavily on Evans of late, even using him on two crucial offensive possessions in the final minute of Thursday’s loss, thinking Evans might get the Nets a second chance with an offensive rebound.

The Nets have actually been better offensively with Evans on the floor (scoring 105.4 points per 100 possessions) than with him off the floor (103.8), but most of those off-floor minutes have come with Humphries, similarly limited offensively, at power forward.

This is why it’s hard to know if we’ve seen the best of the Nets this season. Those 242 minutes of small-ball aren’t a lot to go on. And neither are the 86 minutes Lopez has played with Blatche.

Lopez is Brooklyn’s most important player on both ends of the floor. And in the playoffs, his minutes should surely increase from the 30.7 per game he’s played in the regular season. Does that mean that Blatche will be limited to just 10-12 minutes, or will we actually see the two on the floor together? Is there a matchup (Josh Smith, perhaps) that will allow Carlesimo to play Wallace at the four?

In four games against Atlanta (all under Carlesimo), the Nets have played small a total of seven minutes. So the answer to that last question is probably “no.”

Now, it’s unfair to really condemn the coach for not taking more chances with his rotation. He took over in the middle of the season, with the Nets going through a serious rough patch. More than anything, they just needed to get their best players playing well. And obviously, Lopez and Williams are doing just that.

Still, we have to wonder if this team has reached its potential.

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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

Feeling Lucky? Try 7 GMs With Decisions

HANG TIME, Texas — The clock ticks down, the trade deadline draws near and all 30 NBA general managers are burning up their phones with possibilities realistic and absurd.

Some need to make deals to solidify playoff teams, others simply can’t bear the thought of sitting still. As Thursday gets closer, here are seven GMs with big decisions to make:

Danny Ferry, Atlanta Hawks

Is it finally time to give up on the hope that Josh Smith can be more than a numbers-gatherer in Atlanta? Ferry, the first-year Hawks’ GM, wasted no time in moving out Joe Johnson’s big contract. Part of the decision was that J-Smoove would blossom without Iso-Joe taking up a big part of the offense. Instead he’s averaging 1.4 fewer points and one rebound less than a year ago, his efficiency rating is down from 21.14 to 19.90 and he’s shooting only 50 percent from the free-throw line. The sense is that it’s “just time.” Still, that doesn’t mean Ferry has to move him. He’s positioned the Hawks so that they could afford to keep Smith and still sign a pricey free agent next summer. But that won’t stop the likes of the Bucks, Suns, Celtics, Wizards and Sixers from making a run. The Rockets have long had eyes for Smith, but might be more inclined to wait to make their moves in free agency.

Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics

Despite their 8-1 record since Rajon Rondo’s season ended due to torn knee ligaments, it’s too hard to see the Celtics making a serious and deep playoff run on the aging legs of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. The obvious move would be with the 36-year-old Garnett and making that long-rumored deal to the Clippers (Eric Bledsoe). The challenge is getting K.G. to waive the no-trade clause in his contract. Can Ainge appeal to Garnett’s own best interest to get another ring or his loyalty to the Celtics organization to help them start over? Even if Rondo’s knee injury isn’t as severe as first thought and he’s able to get back on the floor for the start of training camp, the rebuilding in Boston has to start sometime. It might as well be now.

Billy King, Brooklyn Nets

If King could know for sure that Deron Williams will shake off the injuries and inefficiency and return to the All-Star form he showed in Utah, then he’d be more inclined to sit back and put his feet up. Or maybe not in the realm of Mikhail Prokhorov. The Russian billionaire owner is willing to shell out big bucks, but also expects immediate results and does not handle mediocrity well. See Avery Johnson, who was fired with a 14-14 record, a Coach of the Month title pinned to his resume. The Nets will likely try to get Paul Millsap from the Jazz and could be in the running for the popular Josh Smith. Last year’s All-Rookie team member MarShon Brooks is on the block. Would Charlotte’s offer of Ben Gordon for Kris Humphries be enough? The Nets have been so inconsistent that with the possibility of a first-round bounce due to a bad matchup looming, you have to believe King won’t sit still.

Donnie Nelson, Dallas Mavericks

“The Bank of Cuban is open.” That was team owner Mark Cuban’s declaration last month, but what must be determined is in which direction the Mavericks are headed right now. They enter the post-All-Star stretch six games under .500 and 4 1/2 games out of the last playoff spot in the West. If the Mavs decide they’re better off reloading with a fully-recovered Dirk Nowitzki next season, they certainly have a good trade chip in Vince Carter, who’d be a wonderful addition to any playoff contender. He could also bring in future assets for Shawn Marion, Chris Kaman and Elton Brand.

Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets

You put him in this slot just because Morey lives with an itchy trigger finger and might be inclined to make a deal just because he can. But with the James Harden steal under his belt and the free agency hits on Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, the Rockets will probably strike only if it’s a chance at a home run. With the youngest team in the league, a position in the West playoff race and a payroll that could make them big, big players in free agency, next summer is probably when they’ll make their move. But Houston is now big-game hunting for talent to play with Harden. If a chance to scoop up a true All-Star comes their way, Morey won’t hesitate.

Mitch Kupchak, L.A. Lakers

It’s almost obligatory to put the Lakers on any potential trade deadline list, despite Kupchak saying publicly that he’s not at all interested in dealing Dwight Howard or breaking up his All-Star group of underachievers at this point. He can’t trade Pau Gasol as long as the possibility exists that Howard walks as a free agent next summer — which it does. Besides, the Lakers problems are not about needing more players but getting the ones they have to play every night with passion.

Dennis Lindsey, Utah Jazz

Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson? Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap? With the contracts of both of the frontcourt veterans expiring, it was assumed since Day One of this season that the rookie GM Lindsey would have to deal one of them by the deadline, if for no other reason than to make room and more playing time for Derrick Favors. It would seem to make sense, but only if the Jazz can get a bonafide star in return. That’s what the 30-24 team lacks right now. But there is no reason to make a deal just to make a deal. The future is based on a young core of Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks. Millsap is the more likely one to go, but maybe only for another expiring contract in return. Salt Lake City is not a desired location for free agents. But as the effects of the new collective bargaining agreement are felt and big names teams try to avoid the increasingly punishing luxury tax, players will want to simply get paid. Don’t expect a panic move here.

NBA Cares Week Makes An Impact

 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – As we discuss David Stern‘s legacy as commissioner of the NBA, we can’t forget about NBA Cares, the program launched in 2005 to support communities around the world.

This week, Oct. 22-29, is NBA Cares Week. Before the season gets started, NBA teams (players, legends, coaches, and front office personnel) are out and about in their communities, making an impact in a myriad of ways.

On Friday, the Boston Celtics held their annual Shamrock Gala, which benefits children in need via their Shamrock Foundation and its non-profit partners. On Wednesday, Utah Jazz players hosted a group of 38 at-risk kids at their practice facility for a basketball clinic. Also on Wednesday, the Indiana Pacers began collecting non-perishable food items for those in need. On Tuesday, the Brooklyn Nets visited Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, visiting pediatric cancer patients and their families. On Monday, the Charlotte Bobcats tipped off their Stay Active program with a clinic for 75 kids in Raleigh.

This is just a small sampling of what teams have been doing over the last five days, and what they do year round. Through NBA Cares, the league, its teams and its players have donated more than $205 million to charity, completed more than 2.1 million hours of community service, and created more than 750 places where kids and families can live, learn or play. (more…)

Lopez Must Put ‘Brook’ In Brooklyn

 

When comic actor Charles Grodin (The Heartbreak Kid, Midnight Run) penned his sardonic autobiography a couple decades ago, he entitled it “It Would Be So Nice If You Weren’t Here: My Journey Through Show Business.”

If Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez were to slap a headline on his journal entries for 2012, he could pretty much use the same thing, swapping “Nets organization” for the reference to show biz.

For the first six months or so of 2012, it looked like the best thing Lopez could do for the Nets would be to leave. Leave, that is, specifically as the centerpiece of a package of players and draft picks shipped to the Orlando Magic for All-Star Dwight Howard.

Instead, Lopez will be the Nets’ center piece for their dramatic first season in Brooklyn. Never mind that snazzy Maserati in the showroom, kids. We’re driving home in the Buick!

Lopez and still-teammate MarShon Brooks made an appearance at the Nets’ inaugural team store at the Barclays Center, and Howard Beck of the New York Times wrote about the big man’s reset button getting pushed:

Lopez is one of two Nets (along with Kris Humphries) remaining from the humiliating 2009-10 season, when they lost a franchise-record 70 games. He chuckled when it was suggested he had earned this moment.

“I’m pumped,” he said. “Throughout that whole process, everyone kept talking about Brooklyn and stuff like that, how exciting it was going to be. So I just focused on making myself a better player, helping my team in any way possible. And with all the talk I heard about Brooklyn, I knew it was just something I wanted to be part of. It was something that was going to be big.”

Yeah, well, that’s what Nets fans felt about Howard. When the dominating diva, early in his soap opera-ish final season in Orlando, cited the Nets as the one destination he would accept via trade, Lopez immediately became expendable. Chattel frankly, an asset to be moved, a salary to match up against Howard’s per NBA trade rules, a facilitator of greater days ahead for the franchise with which he had spent his first four NBA seasons.

Problem was, the Nets and the Magic failed to work out a trade by the in-season deadline. Soon after the offseason opened for business, Lopez signed a fat contract extension that rendered him untradeable until Jan. 15. That was that, as far as the Orlando option, and Howard soon enough wound up with the Lakers. (more…)

Is This The Year Of The Dragic?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For NBA players who reside outside of the superstar city limits of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and their kind, the chance for stardom is more complex than just strapping on a jersey and someone turning the arena lights on.

Taking that step from player to star player requires not only the desire to be great but also the space and opportunity to do so, the right team at the right time, etc.

(See Jeremy Lin for further reference …)

Those roads will intersect for many during the 2012-13 season. Some will seize the moment and embrace their revised roles and others will miss the opportunity to move up the league food chain. It’s a seemingly never-ending cycle that we love to observe, if only to see which budding stars rise to the occasion.

One player with all of the pieces in place for that breakout season is Suns point guard Goran Dragic, who has a window between the end of the Steve Nash era and rookie Kendall Marshall‘s formative years, to make the case that the flashes of greatness we’ve seen from him in the past are more than just momentary bursts of greatness.

Dragic has clearly done the hard work (check the video, above … and yes, we’ll talk with him about getting us a pair of those shorts later) necessary to become the sort of player he, and so many other who have championed his cause over the years, believe he can be. Opportunity is banging on his door something fierce.

We’ll find out soon if he’s as ready as he appears to be, because if not …. there are plenty of other guys willing and waiting for their chance to pounce.

FIVE GUYS TO WATCH IN 2012-13

In addition to Dragic, these are the other guys on HT’s list of potential breakout stars this season:

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Rockets, Lakers In Latest Howard Talks



The Orlando Magic are talking to the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets in various trade scenarios involving Dwight Howard, according to league sources. However, a source directly involved in the discussions said Tuesday night that no deal involving Howard going to either team was likely at the moment — though the situation remains fluid and could re-heat at any moment.

Discussions with the Brooklyn Nets, the one team Howard has said he’d be willing to sign a contract extension with after this season, were “quiet,” the source said Tuesday. A proposed four-team deal involving the Nets, Magic, Cavaliers and Clippers never came near fruition, and the Nets started looking for different trade partners Monday. In that complicated deal, Howard would have gone to Brooklyn, with the Nets sending center Brook Lopez (in a sign and trade deal) along with three future first-round picks to Orlando, and Cleveland taking Nets free agent Kris Humphries in a sign-and-trade deal. A fourth team, reportedly at various points the Clippers, Bobcats or Timberwolves, would have taken another Nets player, guard MarShon Brooks. But another source said Tuesday reports that that deal was anywhere near close were “way premature” because of all the moving parts involved.

The basketball website HoopsWorld reported Tuesday that the Magic, Rockets and Lakers had initiated discussions with one another about potential trade scenarios involving Howard and Lakers center Andrew Bynum. The website said the Magic were talking about potential deals that would send Howard to the Lakers and Bynum to the Rockets, with the Magic getting what they want most of all: numerous future Draft picks. The Los Angeles Times reported later Tuesday that the Lakers would be willing to take the contract of guard Jason Richardson (three years and $18.6 million remaining) from Orlando to facilitate the trade. The Magic has also been looking for someone to take the contract of forward Hedo Turkoglu (two years, $23 million remaining) in a potential Howard deal.

The Lakers are uncertain that they’ll be able to re-sign Bynum, who made his first All-Star team last season and is entering the final year of his contract. Bynum has loads of talent, but has rubbed feelings raw within the organization with occasional bouts of immaturity and bad on-court decisions. But Howard has not yet said that he would be willing to sign an extension with the Lakers, leaving them leery to pull the trigger on any potential deal.

“Dwight does control this, still,” another source directly involved in the talks said Tuesday.

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