HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Veteran center Marcus Camby is on the move again, this time to Houston that continues the Portland Trail Blazers’ roster trade deadline roster makeover. The deal was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
The Trail Blazers will receive Hasheem Thabeet and point guard Jonny Flynn from the Rockets. Portland will take a totally new team on the floor after this afternoon’s trade deadline, including Mehmet Okur and Shawne Williams from an earlier deal with New Jersey.
The Trail Blazers are also in discussions with several teams about moving veteran guard Jamal Crawford as well.
Dwight Howard waiving his early termination option took him off the trade market and out of the free-agency pool for 2011-12. That put a kink in the rebuilding plans for New Jersey, which was on Howard’s preseason draft “wish list”.
Welcome to this week’s tips on MLK Day. Hope everybody is happy, safe, and at least a little reflective, while watching wave after wave of NBA action.
Time to hit the waiver wire, as we continue our relentless pursuit of the diamonds in the rough that change fantasy fortunes …
With Dwyane Wade on the shelf due to a sprained ankle he called the worst he’s ever had, and with reports saying there is no timetable for his return, it may be time to take a long look at Shane Battier.
When Battier gets starter’s minutes, he typically hovers around double digits with two threes, a block, and a steal. He’s averaging 0.8 in each of those categories in just 22.4 minutes per game, so that tells me the fantasy gold will be there if he’s playing 28+ minutes.
I hope Wade can return yesterday, but with “caution” emerging as a major theme this season, it’s safe to assume he will miss some time — especially when you consider the additional foot injury that robbed him of playing time last week.
The artist formerly known as B.J. won’t block many shots for you, but a center who averages double figures is a commodity in most fantasy hoops formats.
Over the past four games, Mullens has dropped 15-21-18-20 with an average of seven boards. Only one block over that stretch is a bit of a buzzkill, but Mullens is a very good offensive center, shooting 49 percent from the field and 94 percent from the free throw line this season.
Mullens is vying to be the center of the future in Charlotte and he will get as much run as he can handle from here on out. If you already snatched him off waivers, enjoy the O and hope for more D.
The fantasy values of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Richard Jefferson are obviously up since Manu Ginobili went down, but Leonard may be the biggest fantasy beneficiary simply because he wasn’t fantasy relevant before Manu’s injury.
In case you haven’t seen Kawhi play yet, this dude can go!
Leonard has reached double figures in each of the last five games because he’s averaging 34.6 minutes and shooting the lights out (57-50-71). Best of all, he’s a block-steal guy as well, averaging 1.8 steals and 0.8 blocks over that stretch.
The Spurs love Leonard, who has been praised for his work ethic. Personally, I loved this trade on draft night because the Spurs needed to find their next shutdown swingman, a la Bruce Bowen. The fact that they traded a “Pop guy” like George Hill for Leonard should tell you all you need to know.
When Okur missed games recently, most of the fantasy world turned its back on this former All-Star, who was dropped in both of my 12-team leagues. But I still think there’s decent value with Okur because you can count the number of true centers who bang threes on one hand.
After missing two games with a back injury, Okur had returned for three games heading into Monday’s tilt with the Clippers. In the past two games, Okur has averaged 35 minutes, 10 points, seven rebounds, one steal, and one block. The deep ball isn’t all the way there yet, as Okur made one-of-10 threes in the last two games, but you gotta love all those attempts.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’d be remiss here at Hang Time if we didn’t review a pair of returns Wednesday night, Rip Hamilton in Detroit and Rashard Lewis in Orlando. For completely different reasons, both players made their mark on those franchises before moving on, mainly because those franchises didn’t want them anymore.
Let’s get to Rip first. He led the Pistons to the 2004 title and a string of deep playoff runs last decade before the team around him crumbled. And then he was bought out and waived by Detroit and fell into the lap of the Bulls, thrilled to have a guard with a nasty mid-range jumper playing next to Derrick Rose. Well, Rip was warmly welcomed back to the Palace — by all six fans who showed up (actually, the announced crowd was 9,125. For the Bulls. Yeesh. Remember when The Palace was always filled with 20,000 strong?). It was a surreal sight for Rip, if only because the atmosphere was far different during the glory years, but times have changed for Rip and the Pistons, as we see.
What few fans showed up for the Pistons’ 99-83 loss to Chicago gave Richard Hamilton a warm round of applause tonight at the Palace.
Public address announcer John Mason described him as the longtime shooting guard.
Before the game Hamilton chatted with Austin Daye, and just before tip-off went over to the Detroit bench and hugged Rodney Stuckey, trainer Mike Abdenour, assistant coach Brian Hill and coach Lawrence Frank. He spent a lot of time at half-court afterward greeting his former teammates.
Hamilton said every time he looked up into the Palace rafters he saw his name — alongside those of Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Corliss Williamson, Elden Campbell, Mehmet Okur, Rahseed Wallace, Chauncey Billups and the rest of the group that brought a title back to Detroit in 2004.
He faced his old team for the first time since being waived and bought out of his contract last month.
“It was fun,” said Hamilton, who scored seven of his 14 points in the third quarter and played through a sore left groin while racking up five assists and three rebounds. “I couldn’t wait for the ball to be thrown up. There was a lot of emotion early in the game, being on the visitor’s side and not being accustomed to it in this building. It was difficult. I said. ‘Man, please don’t start crying or anything crazy.’
“The fans appreciate what I did here. They’ve always been supportive of me. Even when things weren’t going well they’d always chant my name. I have a lot of love for them. It’s tough to see this place half empty. I think when Chauncey and Rahseed and I were here they had sellouts for seven straight years.”
Okur is paid $10.9 million this season, a salary which the Nets are able to absorb with their remaining cap space. They still have their $2.5 million room exception, which they’ll use to sign DeShawn Stevenson on Friday.
Since Okur’s deal is expiring, the Nets retain all of their 2012 cap space reserved for Dwight Howard (and have a lot of expiring deals to include in a trade before the deadline). Further, since the Jazz were willing to let the center go for nothing but salary relief, King didn’t have to give up any of the first rounders he has earmarked for a potential Howard deal. (Reports had the Nets sending five first-round picks out in a deal that fell through last week.)
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Rarely have so few words received so much scrutiny.
But if we didn’t know any better, the amnesty provision in the NBA’s new labor proposal (and that’s all it remains at this point, until the untangling process is complete) would appear to be the most important piece of the pending collective bargaining agreement.
It seems strange that something that will be utilized by such a small number of teams would be the focus of everyone’s attention. Yet when you realize the names that could potentially be impacted by the rule — Brandon Roy, Rashard Lewis, Baron Davis, Richard Jefferson, Mehmet Okur,Gilbert Arenas and several others — the intense examination of how the rule works makes much more sense.
News of Jerry Sloan‘s resignation from the position he held for the last 22 years comes as a surprise. It’s hard to remember an NBA without Sloan on the bench in Utah.
The Jazz are on pace for 47 wins, but are reeling. They’re 4-10 (third worst in the Western Conference) since Jan. 17, and are now just three games from falling out of the playoffs.
This year’s Jazz have regressed on both ends of the floor. They currently rank 12th in the league offensively (105.5 points scored per 100 possessions), after ranking eighth last season. And they currently rank 18th in the league defensively (105.9 points allowed per 100 possessions) after ranking 11th on that end last season.
The Jazz are eight games over .500, but they’ve outscored their opponents by just two points this season (5,380 – 5,378). And as you may note from the numbers above, possession estimates have them getting outscored on a per-possession basis.
For the most part, the Jazz have been better offensively than defensively under Sloan. But they were a bottom-10 offensive team in a three-year span after John Stockton retired and before Deron Williams became a full-time starter in his second season.
But the one area where the Jazz have been most consistent under Sloan is on the glass. (See table below.) Before this season, the Jazz had been a top-five rebounding team in 15 of the last 16 seasons. And the last time they’ve had fewer cumulative rebounds than their opponents was 20 years ago.
This season, however, has been different. The Jazz currently rank 24th in total rebounding percentage and 26th in defensive rebounding percentage. And they’re getting outrebounded by 1.6 boards per game.
When looking at the major factors that affect defensive efficiency, it’s clear that the boards are most responsible for Utah’s regression on that end.
In trying to diagnose the defensive rebounding issue, you first have to look at the bigs. And when you do, it becomes clear that the Jazz miss Carlos Boozer, because Al Jefferson is not as good a rebounder as Boozer is.
According to NBA.com StatsCube, Boozer grabbed 30.0 percent of available defensive rebounds when he was on the floor last season. This season, Jefferson is grabbing just 21.6 percent.
Utah obviously misses Mehmet Okur as well. Okur grabbed 20.8 percent of available defensive boards in his 2,152 minutes last season. His percentage is right there this year (20.6 percent), but battling injuries, he’s played just 167 minutes.
Jazz rebounding, last 21 seasons
OReb% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained DReb% = Percentage of available defensive rebounds obtained Reb% = Percentage of available total rebounds obtained Reb. Diff. = Rebounding difference per game
Hedo appreciates the love from the home crowd. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL – This one went pretty much as expected. France kept it close for most of the first quarter, but Turkey pulled away in the second and cruised to 95-77 victory that puts them in the quarterfinals against Slovenia on Wednesday.
Turkey was the No. 1 defense in pool play (allowing just 81.1 points per 100 possessions), but it was their offense that was far more dominant on Sunday. France had one of the better defenses in pool play as well (eighth, 97.4 per 100), and they just couldn’t stop Turkey in this game.
The Turkish offense really hit its stride in the second quarter, and at one point in the third, Turkey had scored on 13 of its last 14 possessions. That was a 30-10 run that made this one a laugher.
Hedo Turkoglu shot the ball well (prompting a “Hedo is on FIRE!” call from the PA announcer after back-to-back threes to start the third) and led Turkey with 20 points. Sinan Guler came off the bench and blew by the French defense to the tune of 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting.
Turkey had a +29.8 point differential per 100 possessions in pool play, which put them just slightly behind the U.S. (+30.9) as the most dominant team in the tournament. They’ve got their (very loud) home crowd behind them for every game and it is no stretch to believe they can win gold. If they beat Slovenia on Wednesday, they would face the Serbia-Spain winner in the semifinals on Saturday.
He’s convinced the Jazz need more than the humans in the uniforms can provide:
It’s been a theme throughout the Jazz’s postseason, a kind of tent-revival, chapter-and-verse call for a little belief, a little faith in the face of untimely injuries, a short roster and long odds. Make that a lot of belief, a lot of faith. Somebody — was it the ’69 Mets? — once said that those two agents are precisely what precedes the miracle. Sometimes, they produce it.
Tuesday night at Staples Center was not one of those times.
The Jazz believed, and believed some more, they huffed and they puffed, and never quit, but, at the end of Game 2, there was only a double-barreled blast of disappointment and defeat, again, at the hands of the Lakers, 111-103.
Hallelujah went to hell.
Alongside Kyrylo Fesenko‘s game.
Ever notice how Mehmet Okur suddenly transforms into a much better player when he doesn’t play?
It was the eighth straight playoff loss for the Jazz here in L.A. in the last three postseasons. It was the 10th playoff loss overall through that span to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
So, how’s everybody doing now? Do the Jazz yet trust that they can beat the Lakers?
“I hope so,” said Deron Williams, “or else we’ll be going home early.”
They’re going home for a bit of hope in Game 3.
Williams said something before Game 2 that sounded even more ominous, that sounded more like concession than confidence, though he wasn’t necessarily intending it that way:
“The better team is going to win this series.”
We all know what that means.
The Lakers were the better team Tuesday night, just like they were Sunday afternoon, by just a few numerical breaths.
Gordon might be on to something.
The gap between the top and bottom in the Western Conference is razor-thin compared to what it is between the top and bottom in the East.
The Lakers keep leaving the door open (same as they did against the Thunder in the first round), but their opponents either can’t seem to take advantage of it or don’t have the tools to take advantage.
Maybe it is time for a higher power to go to work in someone’s favor … or maybe the Jazz just need a trip home for a couple of games.