Posts Tagged ‘Marvin Williams’

Back To Future With Favors On Bench

On the official score sheet, it was the midway point through the fourth quarter on Monday night.

In the minds of those laying the foundational bricks for the Jazz, it was a hopeful glimpse into the future.

Denver’s Danilo Gallinari had missed a 3-point shot from the left wing and Enes Kanter was there to gobble up the rebound. He looked up and fired a pass to Jamaal Tinsley, who was in a full sprint up the sideline. Tinsley swung it across the court to a sprinting Gordon Hayward and, with barely time for the ball to settle into his hands, Hayward hit the runaway freight train that was Derrick Favors barreling back on the left with a perfect feed for a slam dunk.

Six seconds, three passes, two points and not once did the ball hit the floor.

Some day down the line this should be a steady part of the Utah offensive diet — a huge helping of the 6-foot-10 Favors filling the lane on the fast break and filling up the box score.

In his third season, Favors is tugging at the reins to get loose, and eventually there will come a time when coach Ty Corbin won’t be able to keep him out of the starting lineup.

There were plenty who thought that time for the third-year power forward was the beginning of this season, and they were ready to move veteran Paul Millsap or center Al Jefferson to make room.

With his team playing unevenly a little more than a week ago, Corbin made his own move to put Favors into the starting lineup in place of Marvin Williams in an attempt to go big across the front line with Millsap and Jefferson.

However, that experiment lasted only two games — wins over Washington and Houston — as Favors could not find a comfort zone with his fellow bigs, shooting just 3-for-10 and 2-for-7, respectively. Favors’ overall scoring and rebounding numbers did not go up as his minutes stayed roughly the same, and the move actually left the Jazz more vulnerable defensively with Millsap at a decided disadvantage trying to keep up with opposing small forwards.

Perhaps the biggest downside to using all of the big men together as starters was making the Jazz more deliberate and ponderous on offense at a time when the league is more about quickness and pace.

Favors scored 16 and grabbed 14 rebounds in his first game back as a reserve in Friday’s win over the Kings, then was handcuffed by foul trouble and didn’t manage a field goal in the rematch the next night in Sacramento.

With the Nuggets running the floor and making shots, they built a 16-point lead on Utah Monday night. Then, Favors came on strong — scoring 12 of his 19 points and playing powerfully around the basket to spark a second-half comeback in a 105-103 win.

The win kept the Jazz 6-0 at home, the first time they’ve started that quick since the 2008-09 season, and yet they remain rather inept on the road and appear in their current state no threat to be much different than the just-better-than-.500 team that sneaked into the No. 8 spot in the playoffs last season.

Without a sudden change in character, it will keep the heat on the Jazz to think about moving Millsap or Jefferson ahead of the February trade deadline.

Though it’s consistency out of him that would force the issue, it’s a thought that gets more tempting every time the Jazz run a break that end with Favors barreling toward the hoop with another glimpse of the future.

Mo Williams And Co. Bring Much-Needed 3-Point Shooting To Jazz





HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – It took nearly 32 minutes for Mo Williams to splash his first triple Wednesday night in his return to the team that drafted him nine years ago.

It came from straightaway, and 23 seconds later he buried a second 3-pointer from the left wing. His night back where it all began would end with only those two treys going down on a rather tame, for Williams, four attempts from downtown Salt Lake.

Yet his rapid-fire 3s in the third quarter counted as the two biggest buckets in the Jazz’s runaway season-opening victory over the Dallas Mavericks. A 74-74 tie suddenly became an 80-74 Utah lead and then Williams’ third consecutive bucket for eight straight points ultimately led to an 18-2 burst to close the third quarter leading 92-76.

That two long balls ignited the decisive run in the Jazz’s 113-94 victory is drenched with significance. (more…)

Hawks Have New Faces, New Pressure

ATLANTA – Josh Smith considers himself a realist. And he’s never been one to hold his tongue where his team is concerned.

So while you might hear championship talk from someone in every single training camp around the league this time of year, the Hawks’ forward refuses to play that game in a situation where name tags were actually necessary like they were at media day Monday at Philips Arena.

Only five of the 18 players the Hawks will suit up for their first practice Tuesday were a part of the organization last year. The Hawks jettisoned six-time All-Star Joe Johnson (Brooklyn Nets) and starting small forward and former No. 2 overall Draft pick Marvin Williams (Utah Jazz) as two of the nine players sent packing during a summer makeover/fire sale engineered by new general manager Danny Ferry.

That leaves Smith, All-Star center Al Horford, starting point guard Jeff Teague and back up big men Zaza Pachulia and Ivan Johnson as the returning nucleus of a team that made five straight trips to the playoffs. A sixth is as far as Smith is willing to go with his preseason hype before seeing this new group, complete with as many as  in action.

“Every summer I take a look at my team and try to make an educated guess about where we fit,” Smith said. “It’s going to be a challenge, going against some of the top-notch teams in the East when you consider Miami comes back strong as ever. Boston went out and got better, got a couple of steals late in the draft to go with what they already had. Basically, all of the teams that were up there made moves to stay in that mix. I’m not going to lie, it is going to be a challenge. But it’s always been a challenge for us. And we always seem to find our way into the playoff mix. This season is no different.”

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No Deal Puts Smith, Hawks On Clock

 

Pick your poison.

Would you rather have Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith, highly motivated, driven to have the best of what will be nine NBA seasons after this one, improving on 2011-12 numbers (18.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 21.1 PER) that were better than anything he had done before and hitting the free-agent market as one of the plums of 2013? Or Josh Smith, gone sideways, cranky over nonstop questions about his contract status, the object of repeated trade rumors and all of that affecting his market value to other teams and also his production for the Hawks?

Hawks management already has made its choice, apparently. It is banking on the former while accepting some risk of the latter by stating that a contract extension this season for Smith is unlikely. Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke with Atlanta’s new GM for the paper’s NBA blog:

According to Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, Smith and his agents have said he would like to remain in Atlanta.

“I’ve been clear that I value Josh as a player,” Ferry told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He has worked hard this summer and I believe he is going to have great season. I’ve been in contact with his representatives. Josh and his representatives have been clear that he is excited about the direction of the team and wants to be part of the future in Atlanta. That being said, I don’t expect the contract situation to be resolved until next summer.”

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Hawks Want Smith In The Flock

HANG TIME, TEXAS Danny Ferry has been on the job for only a few weeks and already he’s backed the moving van up to cart off Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams.

So are the movers ready to lift Josh Smith like an old sofa and carry him to the door next?

Not so fast, Ferry tells Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“He’s a really good player,” Ferry said. “I love his ability to pass the ball. I love his ability to make game-changing plays defensively. I love his competitiveness. If I was out there playing, I would want Josh on my team.”

But does Smith want to be here? He wasn’t available for comment Tuesday, but Ferry said he has met with him twice.

“He’s excited for next season,” he said. “We haven’t really gone in that direction with him [on roster plans]. But we’ve talked about how we’re going to play. We’ve talked about other players. His ideas, my ideas. I’m just trying to establish a relationship.” (more…)

Hawks’ Ferry Clearing Space For A Run At Dwight Howard, Now Or In 2013?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In his first eight days on the job, new Hawks general manager Danny Ferry cleaned up the biggest mistakes of the men who preceded him and positioned the Hawks as potentially the biggest player on the free-agent scene in 2013.

By agreeing to trade the remaining four years and nearly $90 million on Joe Johnson‘s contract to the Brooklyn Nets for five players and a lottery-protected Draft pick in 2013 and Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz for Devin Harris and his expiring contract, Ferry put the Hawks in a position to work with $30 million in cap space next summer.

He has rid the franchise of Billy Knight‘s Draft blunder in 2005 (Williams ahead of both Deron Williams and Chris Paul) and Rick Sund‘s free agent fiasco of 2010, when the Hawks signed Johnson to a $126 million deal, the richest deal in the league.

Do the math. The Hawks are shedding $100 million in outgoing salaries and taking back a fraction of that ($24 million), which gives them all sort of flexibility to make a play for hometown All-Star Dwight Howard (who has demanded a trade from Orlando) this summer or next summer when he’s a free agent.

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Draft Night Is Just The Beginning For Hawks’ New GM Ferry





ATLANTA – Fast and furious is the way Danny Ferry described his first four days on the job as the new general manager of the Atlanta Hawks.

When he finally emerged from the Hawks’ Draft war room late Thursday night, it was plain to see that Ferry has spent more time grinding away at his new job than he has doing much of anything else, and that includes sleeping.

“This was unique,” Ferry said. “I’ve been here a few days and was not part of the initial preparation that they had. I threw myself into what they were doing and really just tried to observe and participate, when appropriate, ask good questions and let the process play out. I thought the scouts that [his predecessor] Rick [Sund] was organizing did a nice job of doing their work and walking into the Draft with their decisions made and ready to go.”

But the first frantic four days of Ferry’s tenure is just the beginning of  what promises to be an interesting offseason for a franchise in the midst of a transitional phase. As the rest of the Eastern Conference realigns itself behind the champion Miami Heat, a team built to win now and for the foreseeable future, the Hawks have to try to position themselves among that group of teams giving chase.

They went into Draft night with just six players — their core four of Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Josh Smith and Jeff Teague along with reserves Marvin Williams and Zaza Pachulia — under contract. Adding Vanderbilt shooting guard John Jenkins and Virginia forward Mike Scott gives them eight to work with as Ferry goes about the business of trying to build the Hawks into a legitimate threat to the Heat.

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Time For The Hawks To Turn The Page?





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – When the playoff pairings came into focus late in the regular season, we knew there was the potential for this when the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks got locked into the No. 4-5 battle in the Eastern Conference.

An era was coming to an end. A five-year run for one of these two franchises would continue on for at least another series and that same five-year run (that began in their epic first-round series in 2008) for the other franchise would have run its course.

Well, it’s time for the Hawks to face the reality of their own situation and turn the page. The Hawks are facing more than just elimination after their disastrous 101-79 Game 4 showing in Boston Sunday night. Most compassionate observers turned away from when the Celtics’ lead grew to 37 points … with more than a quarter and a half to play remaining.

How many times can you hear about a team talk about “not responding” or “we just didn’t have it” or “our energy and effort was nonexistent” in a big game situation before it sinks in?

The Hawks have dropped 12 playoff games by 20-plus points since 2008, a staggering number that does not include all of the games they lost by 16, 17, 18 and 19 points.

They’d fight back with stats of their own — such as along with the Celtics and Lakers, they are one of just three teams to reach the second round in each of the past three seasons. But that would foolishly suggest that the Hawks belong in the same sentence with two franchises that have won championships in the past four seasons.

The Celtics won it all in 2008 while the Lakers won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. The Hawks, for all of their accomplishments during this same stretch, have been escorted from the postseason in an ugly fashion each and every time, without once truly breaking through with this current core group.

They’ll tell anyone willing to listen that this series is far from over at 3-1 with Game 5 Tuesday night at Philips Arena. And with their history against these Celtics, it might be worth a listen. They played seven games in 2008, with each team taking turns ruling their home floors all the way through to Game 7.

But this time is different. As much as you’d like to believe these limping Hawks have a chance to make a series out of this one, the stench of inevitability is floating in the air after that Game 4 debacle in Boston.

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Monta Finally Being Monta For Bucks





MILWAUKEE – Welcome back, Monta Ellis. Welcome back to the ranks of the NBA’s one-name-only stars.

Ellis – or should we say, Monta – returned to elite-scorer status by lighting up the Atlanta Hawks for 33 points Tuesday in his best performance by far in the two weeks since he’d been traded from Golden State to Milwaukee. And that boosts the Bucks’ chances of returning to the playoffs as they chase the New York Knicks for the East’s No. 8 spot.

A natural-born scorer, Ellis’ game had been rattled by the trade and, given the lack of practice time, by the abrupt drop into the deep end of his new team’s pool. He had missed 50 of his first 76 shots in six games with the Bucks and hadn’t topped 18 points in any of them. He arrived as a 21.9 ppg guy, then played at a 12.2 ppg level, hitting bottom with a 2-of-14 performance at Madison Square Garden Monday.

That prompted a sitdown with Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles. “He’s a little down right now because his shot isn’t going in for him,” Skiles had said before tipoff. “I told him he’s too good a player to get down.”

What the Bucks were hoping was that Ellis would ignite one of these days and stay hot long enough to carry them past the Knicks and into the postseason. Sooner being a better option than later, given the dwindling opportunities to make up ground. And that’s what Ellis did, scoring 10 points in the first quarter to spot Milwaukee to an early lead and then 17 more in the fourth to pull them from the brink of collapse.

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Trade Rumors, Vol. I

As the trade deadline gets closer and closer, the rumors start flying faster and faster. Here’s the latest update heading into Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline:

HAWKS INTERESTED IN HINRICH

The Atlanta Hawks are interested in Washington Wizards veteran point guard Kirk Hinrich, according to league sources, but the Hawks are not willing to give Washington both a young player and a first-round pick for Hinrich, the Wizards’ current asking price.

Atlanta is trying to convince Washington take back veteran Mike Bibby for Hinrich, pointing out the potential cap savings for the Wizards. Hinrich is scheduled to make $8 million next season, while Bibby only will make $6.2 million. Both would be entering the final year of their respective contracts next season. The Wizards, though, want to continue their youth movement–though Washington isn’t interested in taking on the two years and $15.7 million that will be left on swingman Marvin Williams‘s contract after this season.

The Hawks are reluctant to put a first-round pick in the deal, especially considering the Wizards already got a first from Chicago last year when the Bulls traded Hinrich to Washington to clear salary cap space. The Wizards used that pick to select French big man Kevin Seraphin, who has played sporadically this season for Flip Saunders.