Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans Hornets’

Air Check: The Genius Of Clyde

aircheck-250HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — For NBA fans like us, there’s nothing better than League Pass. Having the ability to watch every game every night (and then again the next day) is heaven.

Of course, with local broadcasts, you get local broadcasters, which can be good and bad. It can be good, because these guys know their teams better than most national broadcasters. It can be bad, because these guys love their teams more than most national broadcasters. And they’re usually not afraid to show that love.

The national guys aren’t perfect. And if they’re not careful, they may be featured here, where we highlight the best and worst of NBA broadcasts.

Here are a few more moments that made us laugh, made us smarter, or made us shake our heads.

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1. Poetry Time with Clyde Frazier
Game: Utah @ New York, March 9
Broadcast: New York


One of the joys of living in the New York area is the ability to listen to Clyde Frazier‘s wordplay 75 nights a year. And as he describes Utah’s lackluster play in the first half on Saturday, Clyde brings some of his best work.

“No fire, no desire, seem tired, uninspired.”

Beautiful.

2. When no commentary is needed
Game: Orlando @ New Orleans, March 4
Broadcast: New Orleans


Sometimes, you just want to tell broadcasters that they don’t have to evaluate every foul call against their team. Here, David Wesley starts in on a call that just doesn’t need a critique, because there’s plenty of contact between Eric Gordon and Arron Afflalo. The replay isn’t the best angle, but the original shot shows a clear foul as Afflalo rises for his shot.

Also, a lesson for you players out there: If you don’t want to be called for a foul, don’t swing/chop down with your arm.

3. Calls against your team are not for the faint of heart
Game: Oklahoma City @ San Antonio, March 11
Broadcast: San Antonio (NBA TV)


Sean Elliott ranks as one of the biggest homers on League Pass, and he doesn’t change his stripes when the Spurs’ broadcast goes national for NBA TV. Here, he has issues with two straight loose ball fouls on Boris Diaw.

After the first call, Elliott tells us that he “didn’t like that one at all.” No kidding. Then he says that “It’s a grown man’s game underneath,” and “The paint area is not for the faint of heart.”

I guess that means that Diaw is allowed to hold down Serge Ibaka‘s arm as the rebound comes their way.

After the second call, Elliott says “Ibaka looked like he had that rebound anyways.” Well no, he didn’t once he got fouled.

Then, “Ibaka gets rewarded for not boxing out.” Actually, Diaw gets punished for pushing Ibaka in the back.

Bottom line, a foul is a foul, even if it happens 94 feet from the basket.

“Two wrongs just make it wrong,” Elliott says.

That’s exactly what those who were listening to him were thinking.

4. LeBron’s wants an Air Check
Game: Philadelphia @ Miami, March 8
Broadcast: Miami


Clearly jealous of Scott Hastings and unsatisfied with just being the best player in the world, LeBron James wants some love in this week’s Air Check column. Either he wants to complain about that one time he got called for a foul or he wants to drop some poetry like Clyde, but James tries to get in on the Heat’s broadcast after deflecting a pass out of bounds.

Unfortunately, the mic wasn’t on.

Morning Shootaround — March 11

Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.

The one recap to watch: That much-ballyhooed Pacers-Heat matchup turned out to be quite a dud, but if you’re interested in hearing about it, our man Sekou Smith has perspective on the game from both the Miami camp and the Indiana camp. Since that one was such a letdown, we’re forced to pick another game and the Blazers-Hornets matchup from New Orleans turned out to be a surprisingly well-played one. Rookies Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis put forth solid nights, Wesley Matthews continued to showcase his mostly unnoticed clutch shooting game this season and the even more overlooked Ryan Anderson came through with a clutch bucket of his own.  It’ll be a season or two before the Hornets or Blazers will be fighting it out for a spot in the West elite pecking order, but for now, enjoy the solid effort put forth by these young squads.

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News of the morning

Dwight apologizes to Orlando | Davis making late ROY charge? | Griffin praises Jordan’s jam | Perkins savors matchup with Celtics

Howard apologizes for messy Orlando exitWith 18 wins this season, the Magic are not far removed from their 21-61 season of 2003-04, which was their last season of play before Dwight Howard came first aboard. Although Howard provided many great memories in Orlando, his messy departure this summer — preceded by a will-he-stay-or-go act last season in Orlando — left many Magic fans with a sizable disdain for the former three-time Defensive Player of the Year. All that said, Howard isn’t so unaware of his actions that he’s beyond apologizing to the folks in his old town — especially as the Lakers ready to visit the Magic on Tuesday. Sam Amick of USA Today chatted with Howard at his palatial, nine-bedroom, 14-bathroom, 11,000-square foot home in Los Angeles about his ‘Dwightmare’ season in Orlando, his first season with the Lakers, playing with Kobe Bryant and more in a must-read interview:

The famous view on the road to Dwight Howard’s house in Bel Air is nothing short of spectacular, the Hollywood Hills below unfolding into the valley where stars have come and gone.

On a clear day, it has been said of this classic route on Mulholland Drive, you can see all the way to Canoga Park, some 14 miles away. And on this day, Howard — the Los Angeles Lakers center and aspiring actor whose dreams of becoming an icon had so much to do with him coming here — can see all the way to Orlando.

The big man who was so beloved there returns Tuesday for the first time since he was traded seven months ago, this time as the villain. In an exclusive interview with USA TODAY Sports, Howard acknowledged that this script — the one that included twists and turns and battered his once-sparkling image — should have been written differently.

“In Orlando, I handled a lot of stuff the wrong way,” he said, sitting at his kitchen table. “If any of those people in Orlando are upset with how I did it, I apologize for the way I handled it and the way it was handled in the media.

“I really just got caught up in wanting to please everybody else. I really love that city. That was the hardest thing to do was to leave that city because I basically grew up there. That was my whole life. Orlando was it. I did not want to leave all that behind — the city, just everything about it. The fans. But I wanted a change for my life. I just felt like there was something else out there for me.”

“There are a lot of things about me that have changed,” said Howard, a 27-year-old Atlanta native who was drafted first overall out of high school in 2004. “I’m becoming a better man because of the stuff that has happened to me this last year and a half. Everybody goes through stuff like this. Even though I’m going through it where everybody in the world can see it, I’m happy that it’s happening.

“If it didn’t happen, I’d be stuck in my ways. I would never change, and then it would be a lot worse. For all this stuff to happen, for me to sit back and see and evaluate myself and what I could’ve done better and realize that I needed to make a change, I’m getting better. I’m growing up. I’m maturing.”

Howard, who had taken the Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009 and the Eastern Conference finals in 2010, said he should have spent more time separating fact from fiction to those who mattered most.

“Whenever something happened, I should’ve let my teammates know. I should’ve said, ‘OK, this is what’s going on. I know what’s being said, but this is how I really feel,’ ” Howard says. “Or, ‘Hey, Coach, this is what’s being said, but this is how I feel,’ instead of just letting everything pile on and me not saying anything.

“I just felt at the time like, ‘I’m not going to say anything. I’m just going to sit back and let it unfold.’ By doing that, everybody was getting mixed signals. They’re hearing this on TV, or I might make a quote about this and they twist it and turn it into something else. Now you’ve got everybody like, ‘What is he doing?’… It was story after story after story start coming out saying it was me saying this and me saying that, and I’m like, ‘I never said none of this stuff.’ I could tell some of that stuff started to bother my teammates, but I didn’t say nothing because I’m like, ‘They know that I’m not saying this.’ And it just kept piling on and piling on.”

Hornets’ Davis spices up ROY raceSince practically the first week of the season, Portland guard Damian Lillard has been the presumptive favorite to win the Kia Rookie of the Year Award, and he’s got the resume to back it up. Lillard has been West’s rookie of the month every month this season, is second on the Blazers in scoring while leading them in assists and has had the poise of a veteran player throughout most of the season. Before the season began, the ROY race was thought to be one between Lillard and No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hornets, but injuries kept Davis from truly making an impact until the last few months. After last night’s Portland-New Orleans showdown in Louisiana (which the Hornets won), the race might be closer than expected, writes John Reid of NOLA.com:

Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard still appears to be the frontrunner to the win this season’s NBA’s Rookie of the Year award. But New Orleans Hornets rookie Anthony Davis got another opportunity to close the gap in Sunday’s matchup against Lillard and the Trail Blazers.

Coming off a sensational 20-point, 18-rebound performance against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night, Davis put forth another solid effort in the Hornets’ 98-96 victory against the Trail Blazers.

Davis, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the season. Lillard, who leads all rookies with a 18.8 scoring average,  scored 20 points and had eight assists.

“We’re just getting better as a unit,” Davis said. “We haven’t done a great job of closing out games in the fourth quarter, but we’re doing a better job and we have to continue doing so.”

On the final play of the game, Davis forced Trail Blazers shooting guard Wesley Matthews to miss a desperation 3-pointer as time expired.Since returning from a sprained left shoulder, Davis had averaged 16.7 points, 13 rebounds in the past three games He grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds and scored 20 points Saturday night against the playoff contending Memphis Grizzlies.

Lillard, the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, is the rookie leader in assists (6.4) and 3-pointers with 134. But he couldn’t lead his team like he did in December, when he  made a game-clinching 3-pointer as  time expired to lift the Trail Blazers to a 95-94 victory against the Hornets at the Rose Garden.

“Tonight, it was just one of those games where they made some shots,” Lillard said. “They got going on a run. It was kind of a game of runs and we just came up short.”

Griffin awed by Jordan’s jamThe Clippers live up to their “Lob City” nickname just about every night, with Chris Paul-to-Blake Griffin alley-oops serving as the main source of highlights for L.A. But as exciting as Griffin’s jams are, you can’t overlook what DeAndre Jordan can do each night off a lob or a clear lane to the basket. In case anyone forgot, though, Jordan showed his talents off last night with a posterizing, monster flush over the Pistons’ Brandon Knight that drew respect from L.A.’s resident dunk expert, writes Dan Woike of the Orange County Register:

Blake Griffin has Timofey Mozgov, Kendrick Perkins and Pau Gasol. And after Sunday night, DeAndre Jordan has Brandon Knight.

“That was the best dunk of the year,” Griffin said. “It’s the best dunk I’ve seen in person.”

Jordan caught a lob from Chris Paul, cocked back and turned Knight into a trending topic on Twitter with a vicious slam during the Clippers’ 129-97 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday at Staples Center.

“It was a great pass by Chris, and honestly, I didn’t see Brandon until I caught the ball,” Jordan said. “After that, was just, yeah….”

Paul described what followed the dunk as “the aftermath.” The crowd went nuts as the scoreboard replayed the highlight over and over. The bench nearly rushed the floor, and Paul, usually pretty calm, howled as he slapped Jordan on the chest.

“It was pretty impressive,” Paul said. “I usually try not to react after all those different types of dunks, but that one was pretty good.”

Perkins still loves facing CelticsHard to believe, but it has been 25 months since the Thunder swung what was a then-surprising deal with the Celtics, picking up defensive big man Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green. Perkins was at his stopping best on Sunday afternoon against the Celtics (and particularly Kevin Garnett) as OKC picked up a 91-79 victory. But for Perkins, who was a key part of Boston’s 2008 championship team, playing his old team will always get the juices going, writes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman:

As the Celtics inbounded the ball at midcourt during the first half Sunday, referee Scott Wall had to caution Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett. They were getting a little too physical jostling for position.

Were they being serious? Were these avowed blood brothers getting riled?

“It was serious at the time,” Perk said with a smile. “But there wasn’t nothing behind it all. We damn near could have gave each other a hug.”

No one would have been surprised. But rest assured they were serious. Gran Torino and Garnett are nothing if not serious. And Garnett paid for that seriousness he helped instill in Perkins.

The Thunder beat the Celtics 91-79, and here’s the No. 1 reason. Garnett made just five of 19 shots. That’s Garnett’s most misses in a game since Jan. 16, 2012, when he also went 5-of-19 against Perkins and the Thunder.

No coincidence there.

“Perk took the challenge,” said Kevin Durant. “That’s his mentor, the guy he looked up to, the guy he learned a lot from, and he took the challenge by making him shoot tough shots.”

Garnett was 3-of-11 with Perkins on the bench, with all three makes at the basket and only two of the misses outside the paint.

Perkins kept Garnett away from the basket. That’s how games are won.

“Perk didn’t do anything new tonight,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “He was typical Perk.”

It’s been 25 months since the Celtics traded Perkins, their 2008 NBA championship center, for Jeff Green. It’s not getting any easier for Perkins and his old team to share the court.

“He’s moved on to his new family here, which is great,” said Celtic star Paul Pierce. “But Perk knows he’ll always be family, he’ll always be remembered, especially by me and the Boston organization.”

Perkins was particularly close to Garnett and point guard Rajon Rondo. Those two and Pierce are the only remaining players from the title team.

“I think it’ll be easier when a lot of the guys that I played with be off the team,” Gran Torino said. “Still pretty hard going against guys I went to war with.

“We had great times over there. Not easy at all, especially going against a coach who pretty much raised me. Who started me who I was as a player. It’s always difficult, but know I’m always trying to get the win.”

ICYMI of the night: Watch this dunk … that’s all we’ve got to say:

Are Pistons Interested In Keeping Calderon Around?

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — The Detroit Pistons are a franchise that’s going younger, but might they have found their point guard of the future in 31-year-old Jose Calderon?

Detroit was the third wheel in the trade that made it possible for Memphis to ship Rudy Gay to Toronto. Career-long Piston Tayshaun Prince, the last remnant of Detroit’s 2004 title team, went to Memphis and Calderon, a career-long Raptor, and his $11 million expiring contract landed in Detroit.

The Pistons created additional cap room by taking on Calderon’s expiring deal and sending out Prince, who has nearly $15 million coming to him over the next two seasons. However, Detroit, with young building blocks such as Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Brandon Knight and Kyle Singler, might not be viewing the eight-year veteran Calderon simply as a money saver before letting him pick his next destination in free agency.

David Mayo of Mlive.com reports that the Pistons will make a play to keep Calderon, however they won’t break the bank to do so.

The Calderon trade created even more financial flexibility for the Pistons going into the summer trade and free-agency season but Joe Dumars, the team’s president of basketball operations, has made it clear that Calderon is not just any player on an expiring contract which pays a base salary of about $11 million this year.

Dumars has said he is interested in re-signing Calderon but neither side will discuss much beyond that; the Pistons won’t break the bank to keep Calderon and he isn’t painting himself into a negotiating corner by vowing to stay.

Calderon has impressed his new team with his steady play, averaging 12.3 ppg and 7.8 apg while keeping his turnover rate right about the same as it was this season with Toronto despite playing with unfamiliar teammates and garnering little practice time.

He’s increased his shooting percentages in his first 12 games with Detroit to 50.0 percent overall and 51.1 percent from beyond the arc. He’s averaging 31.8 mpg and that has pushed Knight, a second-year player, to shooting guard. He received six of Calderon’s 18 assists in Wednesday’s road win at Washington.

Those 18 assists quickly put Calderon in the Pistons’ record books next to Isiah Thomas, Mayo reported, as the only Pistons players with as many as 18 assists and as few as two turnovers in the same game since 1974.

The Pistons, who continue a three-game road trip tonight at the New Orleans Hornets, are 5-7 with Calderon, which isn’t terrible considering Detroit is 23-37 overall and seven games back of eighth-place Milwaukee.

Morning Shootaround — Trade Deadline Edition

As today’s trade deadline approaches at 3 p.m., we’ll have coverage throughout the day on all the latest buzz and Twitter chatter. Here’s your dose of what’s buzzing as deadline day rolls along:

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3:10 P.M. UPDATE

3:03 P.M. UPDATE

2:59 P.M. UPDATE

2:52 P.M. UPDATE

2:25 P.M. UPDATE

1:50 P.M. UPDATE

1:22 P.M. UPDATE

1:14 P.M. UPDATE

12:57 P.M. UPDATE

12:40 P.M. UPDATE

Spurs miss out on Redick? — As of trade deadline day, the Spurs were one of several teams hot on the trail of Magic guard J.J. Redick. But despite a push to acquire him, it looks like San Antonio can forget about adding another shooter to the league’s best team, writes Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News.

11:55 A.M. UPDATE

A couple more quick hits from the world of Twitter …

10:44 A.M. UPDATE

A few quick hits from around the world of Twitter (which you can keep up with via our Twitter Reacts post, BTW)

And a quick note from Memphis, too …

Small move — or no move at all — likely for Grizz Unless someone pulls off a major blockbuster between now and the 3 p.m. finish line, the Memphis Grizzlies will be the team on record in 2012-13 for pulling off the biggest trade after they shipped out Rudy Gay on Jan. 30. That said, it doesn’t look likely that Memphis will pull off another big deal, but a minor one may be in the cards. Ronald Tillery of the The Commercial-Appeal has more on what the Grizz may do:

The reality is that Griz brass is trying to be opportunistic today in hopes of getting something for nothing at the 11th hour (Orlando has made it clear J.J. Redick can’t be had for anything less than a first-round pick). As of this morning, the Griz were looking at their exceptions one of three ways: 1) acquiring a guard/swingman they like from the end of another team’s bench 2) grabbing an established big man only if he’s accompanied by a second-round pick 3) not using the exception at all.

The Griz need more size and could always use more shooting. However, they don’t want to acquire a guard who has no shot at cracking the rotation. It’s been difficult enough for Austin Daye to get minutes now that Quincy Pondexter is healthy.

So don’t be too surprised if the Griz did something minor today or nothing at all. But as is the case at the trade deadline, you can always expect the unexpected. Doing nothing would mean the team would likely pick up a D-League player they like to occupy the 13th roster spot. (more…)

Morning Shootaround — Feb. 20

Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.

The one recap to watch: The NBA got back to regular-season work after All-Star weekend in Houston and there were plenty of choice matchups to pick from. Bucks vs. Nets was a nice way to get things rolling, especially given Joe Johnson‘s display of clutch-itude in both the fourth quarter and OT. There was a great East vs. West matchup in the Mile High City as the Nuggets took on the Celtics, with Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson powering Denver to the win. But we’ll go with a good matchup between two teams scrambling to solidify their playoff footing: the Warriors visiting the Jazz. Multi-faceted forward Gordon Hawyard was back in the action after a 10-game absence due to a shoulder injury while Utah’s big men combo of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson shook off the trade rumors surrounding them to lead the Jazz to a win and move them into a tie with the Warriors for No. 6 in the West.

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News of the morning

Rival GMs expect Celts to deal | Bucks’ Jennings ‘untouchable’ | Jazz bigs ignore trade talk | Bargnani back in Toronto’s plans? | Gortat-for-Perkins swap? | Hornets prepared to deal Gordon? | Speights could get dealt again | Sixers’ Turner not on block | Williams criticism puzzles CarlesimoFerry’s plan at heart of Hawks’ changesGallinari steps it up

Celtics expected to make some kind of dealCeltics boss Danny Ainge has steadfastly denied that he’s looking to tinker with Boston’s makeup or trade franchise stalwarts like Kevin GarnettRajon Rondo or Paul Pierce. But rival GMs are saying just the opposite (in what may be a smokescreen act) and think the Celtics are priming themselves for a deal of some kind. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald has more:

As Danny Ainge downplayed the possibility the Celtics will be involved in a transaction before tomorrow’s NBA trade deadline, general managers and personnel people around the league are saying quite the opposite.

They’ll be stunned if the Celts don’t make a deal of some sort.

“They’re too active,” said one. “They’ve been putting a lot of different things out there, and you’d have to think at least one of them is going to come through.”

If the Celtics do pull off a trade, it’s likely something beyond what’s already in the public domain, and many of those talks were dead on arrival.

For example, the Celts did have a brief discussion with the Lakers, but word is Mitch Kupchak said flatly they are not going to deal Dwight Howard, stating that he is part of their future. It’s possible that outlook could change, but with Rajon Rondo rehabbing from ACL surgery, the Celts wouldn’t have enough to get in on such talks.

The Clippers remain a good target, with Eric Bledsoe an intriguing talent.

“An awesome athlete, but not really a pure point guard,” said one personnel guy. “He could be a Russell Westbrook type if he keeps developing.”

The Hawks’ Josh Smith talk seems a bit of a mystery from the Celtics’ standpoint. To begin with, it would be hard to put together the right package to get him. And it’s even more doubtful they would be willing to part with the kind of things Atlanta is looking for.

Start with the fact Smith almost certainly won’t be signing a three-year extension right after a trade when he can wait until summer and get a longer deal as a free agent. So there’s no guarantee a team trading for him has him beyond the next few months. Then there are the questions of just how much Smith is worth relative to what he can contribute.

“If you could get him to just do the things he does really well and stick to that, I think he’d be one of the best players in this league,” said one ranking team official. “But you get the whole package with Josh. You can probably absorb most of that on a really good team, but is he the kind of guy you’re going to go to in your halfcourt offense in the fourth quarter of a Game 7? For the kind of money you’re going to be paying him, you have to think about that.”

Jennings ‘untouchable’ for nowJust six days ago, Bucks guard Brandon Jennings reportedly had expressed frustration with the front office and had “irreconcilable differences” with team brass. But Jennings quickly reversed field on that story and, although he didn’t commit to a long-term future with the Bucks, seemingly patched things up. Maybe that has led to the news reported by ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that Jennings has become ‘untouchable’. More details here:

The Milwaukee Bucks continue to discuss Josh Smith trade scenarios with the Atlanta Hawks in advance of Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

But those discussions, sources say, also serve as a strong indication of the rising likelihood that Brandon Jennings will not be moved this week.

ESPN.com reported Tuesday that Monta Ellis is the primary player Atlanta is targeting in its discussion with Milwaukee. Sources say that the Hawks, furthermore, want Milwaukee to add at least one expiring contract to the equation with Ellis and possibly take on some salary.

ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard, meanwhile, reported Wednesday morning on “SportsCenter” that Smith would be interested in playing with both Jennings and Ellis if he wound up in Milwaukee, leading the Bucks to try Wednesday to make the deal without surrendering Ellis.

Yet amid all of those talks, sources say, Jennings has moved alongside Larry Sanders and John Henson on the Bucks’ list of near-untouchables.

The Dallas Mavericks were at the forefront of the list of teams hoping that the Bucks would make Jennings available this week, but Milwaukee appears intent on taking its chances in the offseason, knowing that Jennings will be a restricted free agent and thus unable to leave town unless the Bucks decline to match an offer sheet he receives.

Millsap, Jefferson shrug off trade chatterAs our own Fran Blinebury pointed out yesterday in this space, Jazz GM Dennis Lindsay could end up being active on trade deadline day … especially considering Utah’s bevy of big men. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are the names most teams would want to acquire and that duo is used to hearing their names bandied about in trade talks over the years. While no solid suitor has emerged (we’ve seen talk of Jefferson-to-San Antonio here and there), the Jazz’s veteran big man duo isn’t letting the talk affect their game. Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News has more:

When asked about trade rumors after returning from the All-Star break, Jazz players and coach Tyrone Corbin all shrugged off any talk about the subject.

“I’ve been in this league a long time. This is my ninth year and Paul’s seventh. We’re used to this,’’ said Jefferson.

“You don’t react. You just let it go,’’ added Millsap. “You can’t do anything about it because you don’t really know for sure. If it don’t come from (the Jazz’s) mouths it’s probably not true.’’

Millsap’s name has come up in trade rumors for years, and the Jazz forward says he’s used to it by now, saying he takes it as a compliment that he’s a wanted player. One of the latest rumors has him going to the L.A. Clippers for point guard Eric Bledsoe and others.That trade would potentially affect Mo Williams, the team’s current starting point guard, who has been sitting out with an injured thumb for more than a month.

Corbin was blunt in talking about trade speculation.

“It’s rumors and we don’t deal with rumors,’’ he said. “We are who we are and everybody here is part of our family. We’ll continue progressing in the way that we have and we expect everybody to respond accordingly.’’

Jefferson has been traded twice in his career, but he knows if the Jazz are involved, it’s unlikely anyone will know about it in advance.

“The one thing about the Utah Jazz is they’re a very professional team,’’ he said. “When a trade comes nobody’s going to know until it actually happens. They’ve been consistent with that. They’re just rumors.’’

Colangelo downplaying Bargnani dealRaptors GM Bryan Colangelo already pulled off one significant remodel of his team this season by sending Ed Davis to Memphis and Jose  Calderon to Detroit as part of the three-team trade that put Rudy Gay in Raptors red. The next name expected to be on the trade block is former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani, but Colangelo may be cooling on the prospect of trading the outside-shooting big man. Sam Amick of USA Today caught up with Colangelo and talked with him about Bargnani, Colangelo’s future in Toronto and more:

Colangelo, who came to Toronto from Phoenix in 2006 and has been attempting a massive rebuilding effort ever since Chris Bosh left for Miami in the summer of 2010, is in the final year of his contract. In an interview with USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday, Colangelo said he has no discussions with ownership about his updated status and remains hopeful that he’ll be around past this summer. The Raptors – who are 5-2 since Gay came on board and 21-32 overall after their horrific 4-19 start – play at Washington Tuesday and have a reunion game with the Grizzlies in Toronto on Wednesday night.

While Colangelo could make more moves before the Thursday trade deadline to help his team and improve his case even more, he downplayed the once-widely-held notion that center Andrea Bargnani would be traded before then. He called that situation “fluid” and said “there just may not have been enough runway prior to the deadline to get something” because Bargnani recently came back from injury.

On Bargnani, how he’s fitting in better now with Gay and the likelihood that he could be traded…

“We began this year with Bargnani as our No. 1 scoring option. He’s now No. 3 because Rudy has arrived and DeMar (DeRozan) has emerged. Now Bargnani is No. 3. There’s talk about possibly moving him – and again we’ve talked about it, not for talent reasons but because maybe sometimes a change of scenery is the best thing for somebody. But sometimes a change of scenery can happen just by redecorating the room.

“All of a sudden the outlook and the presence of a guy like Andrea is entirely different now. He’s not relied on as a No. 1 guy. He has never been paid like a No. 1 option, but people wanted to criticize that he couldn’t handle that role. I’ve always felt like he’s been slotted in salary-wise as a No. 2 or No. 3. Maybe he’s kind of fitting in nicely now.

“If a trade doesn’t occur before the deadline, or even this summer, maybe it’s because we figured out that with the evolution of the team he is the right guy to be a part of this team. He’s been through the hard part. This may be the easiest part ahead of him.

On his future in Toronto …

“There’s been no discussion (about his future since the trade). I certainly haven’t brought it up. I think that we’re, right now, transitioning with an ownership change of our own.

“I’ve proven that, despite all the things that have been happening with the rebuilding of this team simultaneous to the uncertainty with my contract, I always made the right long-term strategic decision with respect to the transactions that were being made or draft picks that were being made. Case in point was drafting (Jonas) Valanciunas (fifth overall in 2011) knowing that he was not going to be here for a year, and that when he did arrive that he’d be 20 and would still be considered a project. But you have to carry out your job with integrity and do the right thing for the organization. That’s what I’ve been hired to do and that’s what I’m doing. Whether or not that pays off for me long-term, with an extension or just even my option year being picked up (for the 2013-14 season), time will tell. But you can’t lose sight of what the job is.” (more…)

Hornets Or Pelicans … What’s In A Name?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — What’s in a nickname?

It depends on the circumstances. And for folks in New Orleans, those circumstances will change dramatically in the next 24 hours as the team they’ve known as the Hornets will become the Pelicans. The Hornets have scheduled a Thursday news conference to unveil their new logo, mascot and colors, per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.

What’s in a nickname?

For Hornets (… er, soon-to-be Pelicans) owner Tom Benson, apparently everything.

The owner of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, Benson owned the rights to the Pelicans nickname before he bought the Hornets in April. The Pelicans date back to 1887 in New Orleans, giving them roots in the city dating back to before Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball (in 1891). The former minor league New Orleans Pelicans boast a rich baseball history and lineage, according to a Wikipedia entry:

Notable Pelicans included Shoeless Joe JacksonJimmy DygertHenry “Cotton” KnauppBill LindsayZeke BonuraGene Freese, and Hall of Famers Dazzy VanceJoe SewellBob Lemon and Earl Weaver. In Jackson’s only season with New Orleans (1910), he hit .354 to win the league batting title and led the team to the pennant with an 87–53 record. The following year, he would hit .408 with the American League’s Cleveland Naps.

In the 1950s, the team was associated with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was managed by Danny Murtaugh. Other notable Pelican managers included Larry Gilbert and Abner Powell, with the latter credited with introducing the “rain check” in 1889.

The Pelicans’ name briefly resurfaced during the 1977 season when oilman A. Ray Smith moved his Triple-A Tulsa Oilers to New Orleans to play in the Superdome. Tony La Russa was the starting shortstop for the team. After a single season, the team then moved toSpringfield, Illinois, and were renamed the Redbirds.

Whether or not the that history resonates in the city and with fans throughout the state and beyond, however, remains to be seen. As Spears noted, it wasn’t exactly met with fireworks from locals when word spread that a change was coming:

The name “Pelicans” has received a lot of criticism from Hornets fans and NBA followers. During the news conference, a video is expected to be shown explaining the history behind the nickname and what it means to New Orleans and the state. There was similar resistance when the Seattle SuperSonics changed their nickname to Thunder when the franchise moved to Oklahoma City in 2008, but now the nickname is widely accepted.

The Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002. Some fans are hoping the Charlotte Bobcats change their name back to the Hornets, considering the change in New Orleans. A source said the Bobcats will do their due diligence in considering a switch back to the Hornets, but nothing is imminent.

All that said, the Pelican is the state bird, on the state flag, on license plates various other official entities in the … wait for it … Pelican State.

But again, what’s in a nickname?

For fans of the Saints, Hornets and all things New Orleans who have come along since the baseball Pelicans, it’s all about the look of the new logo, mascot and colors.

“I believe people will like that it’s a state pride thing,” said Carl Blouin Jr., whose roots run generations deep in the Crescent City. “It really depends on what the logo looks like. If it’s a goofy Pelican with a long neck and a knot in his throat, no. If it’s a tough Pelican diving into Black Bay to catch a shad, looking fierce, then maybe so. But if it looks like a cartoon character … we’re going to have a major problem. It’s all going to depend on the logo.”

We’ll have to wait and see exactly what it looks like then. In the meantime, we need your input …

Rick’s Tips: Buy The Brow Low Now





The time is now to trade for Hornets’ rookie Anthony Davis, who is averaging only 9.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 25.3 minutes in seven games this month.

Has Davis hit the rookie wall?

NBA.com/FantasyDavis hasn’t admitted to that cliché and he probably never will, but the stats say otherwise. His points have declined from 15.0 to 14.0 to 9.4 in November, December, and January, respectively. And his blocks have declined from 2.4 to 1.8 to 1.3 in the same months.

Also contributing to Davis’ decline is the return of Eric Gordon, who made his season debut on Dec. 29, perfectly coinciding with Davis’ drop in numbers this January. Gordon, as expected, is taking 15.3 field goal attempts per game, causing Davis’ FGA’s to dip from 11.6 in November and December down to 8.6 in January.

I trust Hornets’ head coach Monty Williams to figure out a way to make it work, such that Gordon gets his, while Davis gets his. Also, I trust in the incredible talents of Davis, who is simply too gifted to average 9 and 6 for the rest of the season.

Davis’ best month was November, when he averaged 15 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks in 28.2 minutes, and he should return to that level once he gets a second wind.

Sunday’s game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden was a start, as Davis had 13 points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes.

You have to give to get in fantasy hoops, so here are a few big men you might want to dangle as trade bait for Davis: Kevin Garnett (14.8 points, 7.0 rebounds), Marcin Gortat (11.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.9 blocks); Paul Millsap (14.9 points, 7.7 rebounds).

I realize the holidays are over and you’re all shopped out, but you don’t have to leave the house to go fantasy shopping. So what are you waiting for?

Rick Kamla is an anchor on NBA TV. You can follow him on Twitter at @NBATVRick.

Vasquez, Gordon Give Hornets Some Hope

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Greivis Vasquez deserves a raise — which he’ll get in due time — or the key to the city or, heck, just make him mayor of New Orleans.

The city, and its beleaguered basketball team, couldn’t ask for a better ambassador than the Venezuelan-born point guard who’s leaving his heart and sweat on the floor every night as he emerges as a top talent in the league.

“The biggest thing is I’m getting an opportunity,” said Vasquez, a recent player of the week recipient. “Still, people don’t know about me as much because I’m playing in a small market, which I love. I love this city, I love this team.”

Pretty refreshing stuff from a third-year player just starting to hit his stride for a franchise that’s endured it’s share of hard knocks in recent years — including a hard-luck 7-25 start to this season.

Yet as I wrote after Saturday’s 99-96 overtime win at Dallas, the season really started at that moment. Add Monday’s impressive thumping of the San Antonio Spurs in front of 11,599 that ended a seven-game home losing streak, and Wednesday’s fourth-quarter comeback against the previously streaking Houston Rockets, and the Hornets are on a roll with their first three-game winning streak of the season.

Why the reset on the season?

Because the ridiculously youthful Hornets finally got game-changer and now-healthy shooting guard Eric Gordon in the starting lineup Saturday. It allowed coach Monty Williams to make other changes and roll out the starting five he envisioned.

And this is where Vasquez’s ambassadorial value comes shining through. A 6-foot-6, bearded jolt of energy, smiles, enthusiasm and positivity, his team-first attitude is absolutely contagious. It’s critical to the evolution of this franchise, and no more so than as it relates to Gordon, the 6-foot-3 scoring machine deemed the future of the franchise when New Orleans acquired him in the painful CP3 trade 13 months ago.

“I have a good relationship with Eric and I tell you this, we have been talking a lot,” Vasquez said before Saturday’s comeback victory. “Eric is a pro. I feel him as a player too, because his knee was really bothering him. But now he feels like his teammates got his back, we all got his back. We all know he’s going to make us better and we’re going to make him better. And now, we talked [Friday] night, we’re going to make this situation a great situation. We’re going to start winning games.

“For a guy like that to say that to a guy like me, that means a lot. I’m sure he’s saying that on behalf of the whole team because we’re winners, we want to win and we work. And that has been the main thing of our team, we’re going to work regardless. Whether we lose or win tomorrow we are getting better because our vision is in the future.” (more…)

Blogtable: Teams Rising, Teams Falling




Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Week 9: The trouble with DeMarcus | What to do with the Bobcats | Teams falling, teams rising


Give us a team that is finally ready to break out? Which team has its best days behind it already?

Fran Blinebury: Assuming Steve Nash stays healthy, it’s got to be the Lakers.  They surely can’t disappoint more.  Though over in the Eastern Conference, when Derrick Rose comes back, the Bulls go from feisty and tough to truly threatening again. As far as the team that’s already peaked, I’m going with the Knicks.  Won’t this be the 40th straight year they’ve let the NY media down by not defending that 1973 championship?

Jeff Caplan: Improvement: How can this be any team but the Lakers simply as a product of their 9-14 start? Steve Nash has a way of putting smiles on people’s faces. Best days behind: NYK. Hey, I still like the Knicks, but the law of averages is catching up. I mean, they weren’t going to make half their 3s all season. It’s an old team and I can’t see them winning at their early season pace. Are they a top 4 team in the East? Absolutely.  Do they challenge the Heat for the No. 1 seed as they have for the first third of the season? Sorry, but no.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Most improvement: For a statistical turnaround, it’s New Orleans. Anthony Davis is back, Eric Gordon appears close to coming back, and that is not a roster that finishes with 15 wins as long as Gordon lasts in the lineup. But for real acceleration, it’s Minnesota. Ricky Rubio is back and likely headed for an increase in playing time, and Brandon Roy may return soon as well in another boost for a roster hit hard by injuries. Best days behind: Sorry to say Houston. Great story with a plus-.500 record amid tragedy and an early roster shakeup, but it’s hard to imagine the pace holding unless the Rockets do better on defense and with taking care of the ball.

John Schuhmann: The obvious answer to the first question is the Lakers. Not only did they just get Steve Nash back, but their point differential (+4.2 per 100 possessions) is that of a team much better than 14-14. Denver is another clear candidate because of the brutal, road-heavy schedule they’ve had thus far. And I think Brooklyn will eventually get things together. For the second question, I can’t help but look at the Knicks, because I really think that Amar’e Stoudemire can only hurt them. I still believe in them as the second best team in the East, but just not as unstoppable offensively as they’ve been.

Sekou Smith: If Steve Nash stays healthy, no team has the room to improve that the Lakers do. There is just too much firepower and so much ground to be made up (14-14 through Christmas is not what the natives had in mind for their beloved Lakers). They have true title-contender talent but have not played up that standard so far, though their five-game win streak is a decent start.

As for the the crew that we’ll see sailing in the wrong direction, and you hate to put this tag on anyone, but the Brooklyn Nets don’t have the look of a team on the rise. Between the rumblings about the offense from the face of the franchise to the fact that every time the Nets are presented with an opportunity to prove they belong on the big stage they fall off the stage (the latest disappointment being their work against the Celtics on Christmas), little has gone well. It just seemed like there was a lot to work with in Brooklyn; the offseason acquisitions, all of the hype surrounding the move to Brooklyn and the fact that, on paper, there aren’t three teams in the Eastern Conference with better raw materials to work with. But the forecast just doesn’t look good from here.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 97) Featuring A.C. Green And Marc J. Spears

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If you’re one of those late shoppers in need of a go-to gift or stocking stuffer, we’ve got you covered with Christmas just days away.

Actually, former NBA “Iron Man” A.C. Green provides a clutch assist on the perfect hoops gift with his latest book, Elves Can’t Dunk, copies of which will be disseminated throughout NBA locker rooms from Los Angeles to Washington.

All holiday jokes aside, Green dropped some words of wisdom on us with his first visit to the Hang Time Podcast for Episode 97 featuring both Green and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.

We solve more than just your shopping problems, of course, as we debate the state of the basketball union in Los Angeles (is it a Clippers or Lakers town right now?); Ricky Rubio‘s return and what that means for the Minnesota Timberwolves; the Golden State Warriors and the revival of Bay Area basketball; And, of course, Jeremy Lin‘s return to Madison Square Garden.

Get all that and more in Episode 97 of the Hang Time Podcast with your hosts Sekou Smith, Lang Whitaker and Rick Fox.

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business, Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.