Posts Tagged ‘NBA’

Ellis Fitting in Just Fine in Big D After Impressive Debut


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VIDEO: Monta Ellis impresses (32 points, eight assists) in his Mavs debut

DALLAS – The contract took longer than expected and it wasn’t for as much as he hoped. Yet all Monta Ellis could talk about this summer was how happy it made him to join the Mavericks and to play for a coach who cared enough to visit him at his offseason home in Houston.

Back in Dallas for Wednesday night’s season opener against the Atlanta Hawks, “Monta Basketball,” as he labeled his game during Media Day one month ago, rocked the house. Give the man credit. He’s always said he can do it all, and in Game 1 of 82, he didn’t disappoint, putting up a hard-charging 32 points, eight assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals in a team-high 37 minutes.

As for Ellis’ seven turnovers? Scoreboard. Dallas dropped the Hawks 118-109. Only the Warriors and Timberwolves (in overtime) put up more points in their openers. So on nights like this you live with seven turnovers.

Ellis drained 11-for-17 shots from the field, knocked down 2-for-3 from behind the arc and made all eight of his free throws. He showed off his handle, shuffled through traffic, dished off half of his assists in the final game-sealing six minutes of the fourth quarter, and four dimes found Dirk Nowitzki, who opened his 16th season with 24 points that included four long balls and five assists.

“He was great,” Nowitzki said of his new teammate. “His all-around game has impressed me more than his scoring. And he can score in bunches, so quick. He’s always attacking.

Ellis’ 32 points were the most by any player making their Mavs debut. Who saw 11-for-17 coming? Welcome to that other side of “Monta Basketball,” the side that furrows coaches’ brows by finishing the preseason in a 14-for-50 funk.

“I just wanted to be more aggressive. I’ve been coming in late with [assistant] coach D.A. [Darrell Armstrong], getting up a lot of shots, trying to get my rhythm,” said Ellis, who ended the preseason in a bit of a funk. “Right now I’m in a good rhythm.”

When coach Rick Carlisle met with Ellis in Houston, they went to the gym. Carlisle didn’t harp on shot selection or mention efficiency. He homed in on his mechanics, and Ellis liked that. It doesn’t mean Carlisle isn’t strapped in for a roller-coaster ride with the 6-foot-3 gunslinger, but he is a believer in an environmental shift aiding helping to make Ellis a more efficient scorer.

“I don’t think he’s ever played with a team quite like this that had bigs that can shoot, things like that,” Carlisle said. “He’s going to be fine.”

The Hawks, with Jeff Teague starting at point and Kyle Korver at shooting guard for the majority of the game, had no one that could stay in front of Ellis. The challenge stiffens Friday night when Dallas plays at Houston (8 ET, League Pass), which can attack Ellis with the larger James Harden and light-on-his-feet Patrick Beverley (assuming both are healthy). On Saturday, Tony Allen and the Memphis Grizzlies (8:30 ET, League Pass) come to town.

But for the opening curtain, Ellis delivered swagger to a club that for two seasons has struggled to keep up offensively. No one is more aware of that fact than Nowitzki, 35, the team’s leading scorer for 13 seasons running.

“He can score with the best of them in this league,” Nowitzki said. “We’re going to need him to score.”


VIDEO: Ellis on his monster debut for the Mavericks

Gloves Off For Durant, Wade?



HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Their Instagram/Twitter feud won’t go down in NBA annals as one of the classic dust ups, but nice guys Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade beefing, even if it’s just temporary, adds a nice layer of pre-training camp drama for the rest of us.

It started out simple enough. Durant said publicly during a Tuesday interview with CineSport that he would choose his ex-Oklahoma City Thunder teammate, James Harden, over Wade for a spot in a top 10 players list. That’s when Durant was informed that Wade was included in the top 10 of Sports Illustrated‘s ranking of the best players in the league and Harden was not.

Wade took exception and responded via Instagram …

Don't believe me just watch

A photo posted by dwyanewade (@dwyanewade) on

… and Durant fired back via Twitter …

And that leaves us with a two guys who rank among the league’s truly elite tossing barbs back and forth with training camps set to open around the league in just days.

Wade’s Heat and Durant’s Thunder head into the season as the favorites to represent their respective conferences in The Finals, so we might not get an appropriate conclusion to this affair for quite some time, if at all. Not that there was extra hype needed, those two regular season matchups between the Heat and Thunder just got another piece of flesh for everyone to chew on.

The Bosh Family’s Summer Travels


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Summer vacation for NBA players isn’t always just about sun, fun and luxury accommodations.

Sometimes there is a different element involved. Sometimes a trip can provide a deeper understanding of things, some enlightenment, if you are up for it.

Miami Heat Chris Bosh and his family were game for just that when they traveled Mumbai, India, this summer. It was a journey captured on video by the two-time NBA champion, who mixed a little NBA business with pleasure on his trip (#NAMASTE Part I):



There’s nothing wrong with broadening your horizons in the offseason. In fact, I’d argue that a trip like this could just as important for a guy like Bosh as anything he does on the court or in the weight room during his offseason.

Chasing a third straight championship will require a mental focus that Miami hasn’t had to employ during its previous three trips through the NBA meat grinder of an 82-game regular season plus the playoffs.

Who knows, the Bosh’s summer travel could be the crucial for the head of the household in a few months.

2013-14 NBA Salary Cap Figure Set at $58.679 Million

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The new numbers are out.

The NBA revealed its new Salary Cap figure for the 2013-14 season, which will be $58.679 million. The tax level for the season has been set at $71.748 million.

Those are slight increases from the 2012-13 numbers of 58.044 for the Salary Cap and 70.307 for the tax level, respectively. The new figures go into effect Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. ET. That is also when the league’s “moratorium period” ends and teams can begin signing free agents and making trades.

The minimum team salary, which is set at 90 percent of the Salary Cap, an increase from the 85 percent from last season, is $52.811 million. Teams will have to spend that figure of the cap figure on player salaries starting this season.

As expected there are new tax rates for the incremental spending above the tax level, with the league having done away with the previous $1 for $1 tax of the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement. The new tax rate schedule:

  • Portion of team salary $0-$4.99 million over tax level:          $1.50 for $1
  • Portion of team salary $5-$9.99 million over tax level:          $1.75 for $1
  • Portion of team salary $10-$14.99 million over tax level:      $2.50 for $1
  • Portion of team salary $15-$19.99 million over tax level:      $3.25 for $1
  • Rates increase by $0.50 for each additional $5 million of team salary above the tax level.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement provides for three different mid-level exceptions depending on a team’s salary level.   The non-taxpayer mid-level for this season is $5.15 million, the taxpayer mid-level is $3.183 million and the mid-level for a team with room under the Salary Cap is $2.652 million.

Game 7: The Morning After


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By NBA.com staff reports

A classic Finals ended with a classic Game 7. LeBron James cemented his place in NBA history scoring 37 points as the Heat captured a second-straight NBA title with a 95-88 Game 7 win over the Spurs. Here’s a quick recap of NBA.com’s complete Game 7 coverage.

Game Coverage

NBA Finals

Analysis

Heat Celebration

Video Highlights

Postgame Press Conferences

Photos

Stern Defends Small-Market Finals, Zings ‘Resting’ In Last State-Of-NBA Address

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MIAMI – He’s a short-timer now, with less than eight months remaining in what will be a 30-year run as NBA commissioner, but David Stern came on like anything but a lame duck Thursday night before Game 1 of the 2013 Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena.

In his last official Finals state-of-the-league address (part of an ongoing series of “lasts” that began Feb. 1, one year out from Stern’s official retirement date), the league’s chief executive was vibrant, engaged, enthused even. This wasn’t the man who came out of the rancorous lockout in 2011-12 tired and cranky. It wasn’t Stern unplugged, either, though more and more of his duties are shifting to deputy commissioner Adam Silver, his heir apparent.

This was Stern tackling topics big and small, ranging from anti-flopping rules to nuances of the current collective-bargaining agreement in both its financial and competitive impact. This was Stern looking and sounding as if he could re-up for another term but who, most likely, is into his finishing kick because he can see the end line now.

Stern’s opening comments were brief and not unlike the business-is-good things he has said now, twice annually (All-Star Game and Finals) across three decades. Questions followed, many focusing on issues in play in this championship series, such as Spurs coach Gregg Popovich‘s decision back in November to sit out star players on his team’s visit to Miami. And a suggestion that the Heat’s SuperFriends approach might be good for the league overall, despite the CBA’s new provisions to block such star-hogging roster maneuvers in the future.

Asked if San Antonio’s presence in The Finals vindicates Popovich’s decision a month into the season to “rest” Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker as a way of staying fresh for the long NBA season and postseason — which earned a $250,000 fine from the league — Stern said: “He wasn’t resting Danny Green. It was a game that was being played. I know it, you know it and he knows it.

“I would never, never tell a coach that he shouldn’t rest a player that needs rest. We understand that completely. And that’s not what he did.” (more…)

Courageous Collins Breaks Barrier


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Jason Collins displayed his courage routinely as a big man whose specialty was fighting for space under the rim against the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard. So the journeyman center, who played for both the Celtics and Wizards this season, had nothing to prove to me, you or anyone else when it comes to courageousness.

Jason Collins played for both the Celtics and Wizards last year, his 12th season in the NBA (Brian Babineau/NBAE)

Jason Collins played for both the Celtics and Wizards last year, his 12th season in the NBA (Brian Babineau/NBAE)

Yet Monday, he showed an entirely different type of bravery when he came out as the first openly gay athlete in a major American sport.

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

Those 12 words he wrote in a piece for Sports Illustrated will not only change the course his life but the lives of his friends, family, teammates and coaches (past, current and perhaps future). They will change everyone else involved with the NBA. Now that this barrier has been broken, Collins will forever be linked to this groundbreaking moment and what comes after.

I cannot think of a man better equipped to deal with this new reality. Collins always has been regarded as the ultimate professional, one of the smartest players of his generation and a teammate willing to give it all up for his team. No one spends 12 years getting cracked in the face by the sharp elbows of some of the best big men in NBA history without being willing and able to withstand some pressure.

Collins  always has been one of my favorite players to talk to about basketball and beyond. Catch him in the locker room before a game and bring up almost any topic and he could educate you on a thing or two.

So for every person who has an issue with Collins coming out — and there are sure to be plenty of them — there will be just as many who support him and have his back, folks who commend him for his courage and his refusal to fear the foolish reactions of some.

When you have as many friends in high places as Collins does …

… support should not be a problem.

“As Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement. “Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”

Collins is a wealthy Stanford graduate with options galore  and seemingly no need to share his truth with the judging masses. Yet he does, unflinchingly. Collins explaining himself is refreshingly honest:

Why am I coming out now? Well, I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I’m a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.

The first relative I came out to was my aunt Teri, a superior court judge in San Francisco. Her reaction surprised me. “I’ve known you were gay for years,” she said. From that moment on I was comfortable in my own skin. In her presence I ignored my censor button for the first time. She gave me support. The relief I felt was a sweet release. Imagine you’re in the oven, baking. Some of us know and accept our sexuality right away and some need more time to cook. I should know — I baked for 33 years.

When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “Me, too.”

It takes a brilliant mind to articulate thoughts as meticulously and honestly as Collins has here. It takes an understanding of who and what you are, at your core, to do this knowing that there are so many people still willing to give into the prejudice that is sure to come.

It takes true courage to do this without worrying about the repercussions. And courage is something Collins has in surplus, both as a basketball player and as a man.

He wants to march for tolerance and acceptance and understanding. He wants to take a stand.

I’d march with him any time. I’d stand with him.

Hobbling Nash Won’t Give Up The Fight

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SAN ANTONIO — Steve Nash says he expects to feel and play as good as ever next season.

It’s this season that matters, as long as it lasts, and there are probably newly-hatched fruit flies with greater life expectancies than the Lakers. Of course, that was true from the moment that Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon and went from unstoppable offensive force on the court to unfiltered tweeter from the sofa.

But it is especially true if Nash can’t be Nash.

In the series opener on Sunday afternoon, Nash couldn’t find his top gear and make those shifty drives to the basket. He couldn’t get into the paint and create as unpredictably and imaginatively as a basketball Jackson Pollock. He missed open jump shots and finished 6-for-15 with just three assists and two rebounds.

He tried to zig and couldn’t zag. Nash labored and struggled and fought and battled, but for most of the game appeared to be a guy who was 39 going on 69.

“But we need him out there,” said Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni.

The Lakers season couldn’t have been more painful from start to finish if they’d shot themselves with a nail gun and the first hole came when Nash went down in the second game of the season with a broken leg. He didn’t play again until three days before Christmas, didn’t start to develop a real rhythm until around the All-Star break and then went back to the sidelines with a hamstring injury on March 30.

“Yeah, it’s been tough, health-wise,” Nash said. “I’ve never missed this much time by a longshot. Any time you change environments — and we had a lot of guys change environments — it takes time to come together. And with all the injury problems at that same time, we’ve had fought and fought and fought and not got a lot of joy out of the season. That’s why I’m still thrilled to get a chance to play in the series, still fight with my teammates and try to make something good out of all this.” (more…)

NBA TV Picks The Awards And The Finals

The 2012-13 NBA regular season is over, and the playoffs are about to begin. NBA TV’s experts take a look back and a glance forward with their picks for each of the six major awards and for The Finals.

MVP ROY COACH SIXTH MAN DPOY MOST IMPROVED NBA FINALS NBA CHAMP
Greg Anthony LeBron James Damian Lillard Mark Jackson J.R.
Smith
LeBron James James Harden OKC vs. MIA Miami
Brent
Barry
LeBron James Damian Lillard George Karl J.R.
Smith
Marc Gasol James Harden OKC vs. MIA Miami
Dennis Scott LeBron James Damian Lillard George Karl J.R.
Smith
Serge Ibaka Paul
George
OKC vs. MIA Miami
Steve
Smith
LeBron James Damian Lillard Mike Woodson J.R.
Smith
Serge Ibaka Greivis Vasquez OKC vs. MIA Miami
Isiah Thomas LeBron James Damian Lillard Mike Woodson Jamal Crawford LeBron James James Harden OKC vs. MIA Miami
Matt
Winer
LeBron James Damian Lillard George Karl J.R.
Smith
Paul George Nikola Vucevic SAS vs. MIA Miami
Vince Cellini LeBron James Damian Lillard Mike Woodson J.R.
Smith
Marc Gasol Nikola Vucevic OKC vs. MIA Miami
Jared Greenberg LeBron James Damian Lillard Frank Vogel J.R.
Smith
Paul George Greivis Vasquez OKC vs. MIA OKC
Rick
Kamla
LeBron James Damian Lillard George Karl J.R.
Smith
Marc Gasol Greivis Vasquez OKC vs. MIA Miami

Stan Van Gundy Unchained!





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Months removed from his most recent coaching stint in the NBA, Stan Van Gundy‘s words still resonate.

The colorful former coach of both the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat didn’t hold anything back when discussing his life, the NBA, politics, Lance Armstrong, his future and plenty more with Jon Saraceno of USA Today. And because he’s no longer bound by his employer to watch his tongue, you better believe he let it all out.

Van Gundy answered questions the same way he coached his teams, without a hint of reservation and as brutally honest as possible. Best players he’s ever coached? Dwyane Wade followed by Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal (with the qualifier that O’Neal was in the latter stages of his stellar career).

Is politics in his future? He’s never going to run at the top of a ticket for anything. And who is to blame for him not joining his brother Jeff Van Gundy on ABC/ESPN broadcasts in some capacity? NBA Commissioner David Stern.

The most overrated player in the NBA? Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (“He’s not a guy who should be third in the [All-Star] voting.”) followed closely by Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams (“I never thought Deron Williams was overrated but right now people still look at him as one of the top two or three point guards in the league. He hasn’t been that in recent seasons.”) And the most underrated? Nets guard Joe Johnson is Van Gundy’s most “underappreciated.”

If Van Gundy has designs on rejoining the NBA coaching fraternty, he’ll have to be ready to answer a few more questions about some of his answers with at least several teams. He didn’t hold back on a number of topics, and that includes the league’s topic du jour (the train wreck that the Los Angeles Lakers have become):

Q: Biggest surprise this season?

A: Like everybody, probably the way the Lakers have struggled. There are probably pretty easy explanations for it. I’m not totally (surprised), but if you had asked me early in the year, I thought they would win the West.

I never could have predicted they would have screwed up the coaching situation — fire a guy (Mike Brown) five games into the season and be on three coaches 11 games into the year. Or have predicted their injuries. That’s as screwed-up a team as I’ve seen in a long time.

Q: What about team chemistry?

A: I still think that would’ve worked out. Training camp now is a total waste. Bill Walsh in his book (Finding the Winning Edge) said that you have to stay true to your process. You don’t circumvent the process. The Lakers screwed up the process. They haven’t given it a chance to work.

Gregg Popovich says you can’t skip steps. They skipped. (Coach) Mike D’Antoni is coming in on the fly and doesn’t have time to build chemistry and respect in the locker room. I feel badly for Mike because he’s a great guy and a great coach. The situation is impossible.

At the end of the day, there are a lot of guys who are qualified to coach. But the key thing is you all have to be on the same page. I sometimes marvel how organizations sometimes shoot themselves in the foot.

Q: Was Phil Jackson the solution?

A: I think Phil would have run into the same problems. Kobe (Bryant) and Pau (Gasol) are really the only guys left (from his tenure). It all would have been new — he would’ve gone through the same chemistry problems. I mean, I think they should have stuck with (Brown).

There are some firings where, even if you (personally) disagree with them, you see where (management) is coming from. (But) five games in? If you weren’t committed to Mike Brown, you shouldn’t have brought him back. With two new high-profile players, he needed time to put this together.

Q: But was Brown the right guy for the Lakers?

A: I think he was . . . he could have been. They really didn’t have the people to play that way. The hired Mike D’Antoni and they’re (supposedly) going to bring back Showtime. Showtime? Are you kidding me? Those (older players) aren’t going to be Showtime. They weren’t really Showtime when Phil was there, quite honestly. They executed in the half-court and used their size.

D’Antoni is a great coach but they have to have the right pieces. It all has to fit — what management wants, the type of players and the coach. It’s not an easy thing. For all the success they’ve had, I just think this year that they’ve looked pretty foolish as an organization.

The truth according to Stan Van Gundy is a lot of things, but it’s never boring.