Posts Tagged ‘Orlando Magic’

Howard: ‘No Regrets’ … But Steamed Harris Is Wearing No. 12 In Orlando



.

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If Dwight Howard is really trying to put his checkered recent past behind him, he has a strange way of making it happen.

The Houston Rockets’ All-Star center has jilted fan bases in Orlando and Los Angeles (Lakers) in each of the past two seasons, bolting for what he believed to be a better situation in each instance. But he still wants to feel the love in both places. After staying silent for weeks while he was orchestrating exists from both places, Howard is finally opening up about how things went down.

The break-up in Orlando was about him not trusting the folks in charge to have his back after he and Stan Van Gundy‘s routine head-butting on certain things went public during that infamous post-shootaround scene where Van Gundy told reporters that he knew Howard had asked that the Magic fire him.

When the Magic fired Van Gundy in May 2012, Howard’s mind was already made up. He was gone. The trade to the Lakers ended in disaster as well, with Howard being unable to co-exist with Kobe Bryant and his misgivings after the franchise hired Mike D’Antoni to replace Mike Brown instead of Howard’s preferred choice, Phil Jackson.

Howard explained his thought process to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“There were some things that I missed about Orlando,” Howard said. “There’s a lot of situations that nobody really knows that I kept on the inside, but there’s some things about Orlando that I missed. I’d say that getting out in the community and doing a lot of stuff that I did, I miss doing that stuff in Orlando and the relationships that I built with a lot of people over there in Orlando. I miss that.

“But I have no regrets. I’m happy everything happened the way it happened. Even though I got hurt in the process and I had to go through a tough time, it made me a better person. I’m more mature now. I know how to handle situations different than I did back then.”

Howard views the Rockets as a championship contender.

He thinks Houston has similar talent to the 2008-09 Magic squad he led to the NBA Finals.

On Tuesday, Howard compared Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons to Hedo Turkoglu and Rockets shooting guard James Harden to Courtney Lee but also added that Harden has more scoring ability. He compared Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley to Rafer Alston and Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin to Anthony Johnson.

Howard said he was disappointed that, last February, after the Magic acquired Tobias Harris in a trade, the team granted Harris’ request to wear No. 12, Howard’s old number.

“I just think that despite whatever happened, there was a lot of things that I did and that we did as a team, and that number was special down there,” Howard said. “And I was a little bit upset about that.”

What Howard may not realize is that Harris is wearing No. 12 to pay tribute to a close friend who had died of leukemia at 17 years old.

Simply put, Howard can’t have it both ways. He can’t depart the way he did and expect anyone in Orlando to hold him in the same regard they did before the bottom fell out.

The Magic might change their tune some day, years from now when the sting of the divorce wears off a bit more. And Harris will rock that No. 12 jersey well. He was one of the biggest and most promising surprises for a Magic team that struggled mightily last season in their post-Howard existence.

Clearly, this drama is not going away, no matter how many times everyone involved tries to make it so. Howard will have to relive and rehash these things every time he sets foot in Orlando and Los Angeles. And maybe that’s the ultimate burden he’ll have to bear, the eternal venom from fan bases scorned (Magic fans will at least admit they were torn to shreds when he left).

Howard says he has no regrets … time will tell!

Morning Shootaround — Oct. 9

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Anthony feels ‘sad’ for Stoudemire | Rockets bond in Manilla | Report: Magic eye own D-League club in Jacksonville | Thibodeau’s advanced-stats take

No. 1: ‘Melo feels bad for Amar’eWhen Carmelo Anthony forced his way out of Denver and to New York during the 2011 season, the thinking was ‘Melo wanted to play in a major media market with perhaps more opportunities to advance in the playoffs as well. But aside from those factors, playing alongside Amar’e Stoudemire was a big draw for Anthony when the deal to the Knicks went down. Since coming to the Knicks, Stoudemire and Anthony have played just 99 games together (going 45-44) due to Stoudemire’s injuries preventing the big man from staying on the court for seemingly any prolonged period of time. Anthony told ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Bagley that he feels awful for Stoudemire and his constant injury issues:

“As a friend, it’s hard for me to sit back and act like it doesn’t bother me because I know how hard of a worker he is [and] I know the time that he puts in the gym to train and rehab,” Anthony said Tuesday. “To see him go forward and then take some steps back every time, it’s just sad.”

Stoudemire will miss at least the Knicks’ first three preseason games as he works his way through another knee ailment. The 11-year veteran is working his way back from a knee procedure over the summer — his third in the past 12 months.

“I’m still getting stronger, still getting the legs strong enough to withstand the pressure of playing, but progress has been great so far,” Stoudemire said.

The six-time All-Star was limited to just 29 regular-season games in 2012-13 thanks to two separate knee procedures. He also had microfracture surgery in 2005.

Anthony sometimes wonders whether he’ll ever get to play with Stoudemire when he’s 100 percent healthy.

“Yeah, I think about it. I think about [it] sometimes,” he said Tuesday. “He was one of the reasons why I wanted to come to New York. So for me not to have that chance, the opportunity to get a full season in and get a rhythm going with him — it’s not something I thought would happen.”

The Knicks are 2-11 in the postseason when Stoudemire and Anthony are on the floor together, although the Knicks’ 1-2 mark last season is a bit misleading because Stoudemire was playing limited minutes.

Recent statistics aside, Stoudemire still believes he and Anthony can play well alongside one another.

He’s also proud of the improvements the Knicks have made during his tenure.

“Since I’ve been in New York, we’ve made great progress for the organization. We are a team to watch. We have more TV games now than we had before. But on top of that, we’ve been to the postseason every single year,” Stoudemire said. “And that was a part of my goal of coming here: to build something that will allow us to improve. Unfortunately injuries played a factor after I was here that first year. But I do envision myself getting healthy and being able to dominate as I once did before.”

***

No. 2: Dwight, Rockets strengthen bonds with each other — After losing their preseason opener at home against the Pelicans, the Rockets quickly set off for the Philippines as part of the NBA’s Global Games. Since landing overseas, Houston has spent more time with each other than they normally would have state-side, which has fostered some chemistry on the team. And, of course, having Dwight Howard belt out an R&B classic and show off his dance moves hasn’t hurt things either, writes our own Fran Blinebury:

In the daylight hours halfway around the globe, Dwight Howard is playing the role of a wrecking ball as he keeps sending his fellow Rockets big men away limping and bruised from practice. So far, Greg Smith, Donatas Motiejunas, Omer Asik and Terrence Jones have all workouts wearing ice packs, bandages and grimaces.

But away from the court, the All-Star center showed his mellow, playful side for guests of the Rockets as a singer and dancer at a reception in the team hotel.

Howard recruited rookies Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington as his backup crew — Dwight & the Pips? — while he crooned his version of R Kelly’sI Believe I Can Fly and then showed off his footwork outside the low post as they did the Cha Cha Slide.

“I think traveling overseas on a trip like this is good for us at a time in our development,” said Rockets guard James Harden. “Here, 20 hours away, from home there’s a lot more bonding. It’s great for us. We’re so new to each other, so it’s the most important thing right now.

“Our chemistry has risen to another level as far as us hanging out outside of basketball. Whether it’s dinner, whether it’s us just going to the mall, doing small things like that, those are stepping stones to playing better on the court.”

***

No. 3: Report: Magic want to move D-League team to Jacksonville — As it stands today, the Orlando Magic’s NBA Development League affiliate is the Fort Wayne Mad Ants — a team it shares with the Bobcats, Pistons, Pacers, Grizzlies and Bucks. But the Magic, according to Don Cobble of the Florida Times-Union, have eyes on setting up their own D-League team in the much closer Jacksonville in the near future. The city of Jacksonville currently boasts the two-time ABA champion Jacksonville Giants and their owner, Ron Sholes, has hopes of making the switch from an ABA team to a D-League team soon. The holdups in the Magic getting a D-League team in Jacksonville, though, hinges on other there being three other future D-League teams in the Southeast U.S.:

The Magic, who will play the New Orleans Pelicans at 7, have an interest in moving its NBA Development League team to Jacksonville, team CEO Alex Martins said Tuesday.

“We’ve made it clear to the [NBA] league we’d like to make this happen,” Martins said.

Joel Lamp, of Jacksonville University’s business development and communications department, confirmed the city wants a D-League franchise and is working to make that happen.

… Executives with the Magic, Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Giants hope they can continue to work together to give the team a permanent place for players to rehabilitate from injuries and for younger players to get playing time.

“When I started the Jacksonville Giants, the five-year goal was to make the Giants a premier ABA team and to become a D-League single-team affiliate,” Giants owner Ron Sholes said. “We’ve talked with the city; they’re behind it. But it’s a process. It’s just a matter of getting the talks going.”

Martins said Orlando wants its own “hybrid” franchise so it won’t have to share players, coaches or administration personnel. He also wants his team’s D-League franchise to be closer to home.

“Right now we’re in [Fort Wayne, Ind.] and it’s so far away,” Martins said. “If we send someone there for rehab it’s hard to monitor them. Distance is an issue. It’s too far away.”

***

No. 4: Thibodeau always careful with statistics — The advanced statistics trend has ramped up in NBA discussions over the last few seasons and is at a fever pitch today as most teams have devoted numerous resources to mining data and finding an edge. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t knocking the trend of late, but as he tells the Chicago Sun-TimesJoe Cowley, he’s always been cautious about how much to invest into the stats movement, whatever it may be:

Tom Thibodeau quoted Winston Churchill.

It was just further evidence that when NBA coaches are cornered into discussing basketball analytics, anything can come out of their mouths.

“Churchill has a great quote that went something along the lines of he didn’t believe in any statistics that he didn’t doctor himself,’’ Thibodeau said. “I think there is a place [for analytics] in our league, and I think it’s good. It may be getting overplayed somewhat right now. I think the trained eye is very important, but numbers are a part of the equation.’’

While stats and numbers still play second fiddle to 23 years of coaching and watching for Thibodeau, he said he has been a student of analyzing numbers since he worked under former coach Bill Musselman his first few years in the NBA.

The dangers, however, are becoming obsessed with the numbers and basing full evaluations on them, or not understanding how to work the numbers so they give a coach or executive a true measurement.

“The biggest thing when you’re looking at statistics is comparing apples to apples,’’ Thibodeau said. “Often times that gets overlooked. So there is a biased confirmation. You can go into it and say, ‘OK, this is what I think,’ and you can get the numbers to confess to anything.’’

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Hawks lose reserve big man Gustavo Ayon for 4-8 weeksAndris Biedrins is enjoying a fresh start with the Jazz … Rookie Archie Goodwin providing the Suns with some dreams of the futureGregg Popovich wasn’t the toughest coach Manu Ginobili has played for

ICYMI of the night: Good ol’ Jarrett “Crusty” Jack comes up with a fantastic behind-the-back fastbreak dime to rookie Anthony Bennett

One Team, One Stat: Magic Missed Big Baby

From Media Day until opening night, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann will provide a key stat for each team in the league and show you, with film and analysis, why it matters. Up next is the Orlando Magic, who, after a decent start, sunk like a stone to the league’s worst record in the league last season.

The basics
ORL Rank
W-L 20-62 30
Pace 94.5 14
OffRtg 98.9 27
DefRtg 106.7 25
NetRtg -7.8 29

The stat

98.8 - Points per 100 possessions allowed by the Magic defense through Dec. 19.

The context

Does anyone remember that the Magic were 12-13 (ninth in the Eastern Conference) through their first 25 games last season? The key to that solid start was the sixth-ranked defense in the league. But from Dec. 20 on, the Magic went 8-49 and ranked 30th defensively, allowing 110.2 points per 100 possessions.

So what happened on Dec. 19? Glen Davis sprained his left shoulder and was lost for 11 games. He returned for nine games in January, but then broke his left foot and was done for the season.

Davis isn’t exactly Kevin Garnett when it comes to defense. He’s not as mobile, he’s not as intense and he’s not as vocal. Nobody is.

But Davis did spend four seasons learning from KG in Boston. And compared to the rest of Orlando’s roster, he has a ton of experience. That can go a long way when it’s time to defend a pick-and-roll…


.

The Magic’s strength of schedule wasn’t great in those first 25 games, but they did beat Denver, the Lakers (on the road) and Golden State twice, allowing the Warriors (who finished with the 10th best offense in the league) to score just 96 points per 100 possessions in the two games.

Much was made of the offensive production of some of the Magic’s young players in the second half of the season. There’s a lot of promise in guys like Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson and Nikola Vucevic.

But over the last 57 games of the season, their team defense was absolutely dreadful. They didn’t defend the paint or the 3-point line very well, and they barely forced any turnovers.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that their defense in those first couple of months was at its best, allowing just 95.5 points per 100 possessions, with Davis on the floor with fellow vets Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo. The trio missed a total of 92 games last season.

Davis isn’t yet 100 percent recovered from foot surgery and the Magic are going to take their time with him. He told the Orlando Sentinel this week that his foot “will never be the same.”

His absence will likely keep them from being a decent defensive team at the start of the season. But if he can somehow come back at close to 100 percent, he could certainly spark an improvement and make Orlando much less of a walkover for opponents looking to pad their record.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Morning Shootaround — Sept. 30

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Dwight says he never waffled | Report: Stoudemire had knee surgery‘Beard’ learns the Dream Shake | Cavs’ view on Bynum | Harris defends Bynum deal | Oladipo at the point

No. 1: Dwight says he never had second thoughts about Rockets — Remember all the fuss over Dwight Howard’s big decision in free agency? Oh, right, how could any of us forget? In an interview with USA Today‘s Sam Amick, Howard says he never waffled on picking the Houston Rockets and wants to clear the air about that:

“That was not the case,” Howard told USA TODAY Sports. “I was very upset about it when all that stuff started to come out because that’s not what was going on. I decided … the night before it came out, and my thinking was, ‘Let me get back to L.A. and sit in front of (Lakers general manager) Mitch (Kupchak) and give the Lakers that respect.’ I wanted to tell them in person.

“There was no (thought of), ‘Oh man, hold up, let me think about this again.’ The night before, when I had decided, I sat down with everybody – my agent, my best friend who was there, and my bodyguard, and we talked. I said this is where I want to go. I told my Dad that this is where I want to go. I said tomorrow, when I get home, we’re going to talk to the Lakers. I’m going to tell the other teams on the phone, and that’s what I did.”

Howard also explained to Amick that, essentially, a future with James Harden was more appealing than one with Kobe Bryant:

“James Harden doesn’t come by every 10 years. It doesn’t happen. It’s no knock on other players who I played with, but you’re talking about all these guys who are young and are going this way, going up, so I’m like, ‘Man, this is a great spot for me. A great town, great organization.’ They’re going this way (points up).”

Even with all the mystique that came with the Lakers and their 16 titles, Howard went with the franchise that fit him now.

“Other teams have more history, but yesterday’s scores don’t win today’s games,” he said. “You’ve got to look at the now. What’s in the now? What can we do now? Nobody cared about what I did eight years ago, they want to know what I can do now, and it’s the perfect team for me.”

***

No. 2: Stoudemire reportedly had knee surgery in offseasonBroaching the topic of Amar’e Stoudemire with Knicks fans can at times bring up some interesting comments. Mentioning Stoudemire and his injury history is sure to get them fired up. Stoudemire, who has been dogged by knee problems throughout his NBA career, had ‘clean-up’ surgery on one of his ailing knees, writes Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. The good news is that the surgery isn’t considered major:

According to a Knicks source, Stoudemire had an unreported surgical procedure in July to repair one of his ailing knees. The Knicks open camp on Tuesday and have yet to announce that Stoudemire has had a third knee operation in 12 months. The surgery was described as “clean up” and isn’t considered major.

However, the secrecy surrounding Stoudemire’s latest health issue could be an indication that the club is not optimistic that they can rely on the veteran power forward. Stoudemire appeared in just 29 games last season and had debridement surgeries on both of his knees, the right knee in October and the left in March.

Stoudemire’s health is what led to the Knicks to pursue power forward Andrea Bargnani from Toronto in July. Bargnani was acquired before Stoudemire’s surgery. The Knicks also re-signed Kenyon Martin as insurance. The odds of Stoudemire starting alongside Carmelo Anthony were always remote and now it appears as if the best the Knicks can get out of Stoudemire is a few minutes a night as a back-up.

Isola writes that other health issues are concerning the Knicks as camp gets ready to open (New York’s media day is today). Reigning league scoring champ Carmelo Anthony and reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith are also nursing injuries.

***

No. 3: ‘The Beard’ learns some ‘Dream Shake’, tooHall of Fame center and Rockets legend Hakeem Olajuwon isn’t officially back on the team payroll as an assistant coach, but he may as well be. He already spent some of the offseason working with Houston’s newly added big man, Dwight Howard, on his post moves. Now it seems Olajuwon is putting in some time with Rockets star guard James Harden and is teaching him some fancy low-post footwork. Check out the video below of Olajuwon tutoring Harden, courtesy of the guys over at ClutchFans.net:

***

No. 4: Cavs taking long view with Bynum’s healthCleveland took a calculated-yet-big risk in the offseason by signing free-agent center Andrew Bynum to a two-year deal, especially considering the kind of season he had — or didn’t — for Philly last season (see item No. 5). The Cavs are not stressing that Bynum suit up for them from Oct. 8-24 — also known as Cleveland’s preseason schedule. The emphasis for Bynum, writes Bob Finnal of The News-Herald, is seeing him on the court during the season as much as possible:

The Cavs’ goal appears to be getting Bynum ready for the regular season. If he misses the majority of the preseason, so be it is the feeling from the team.

Cavs media day is Monday and all eyes will be on Bynum. However, don’t expect to see Bynum on the practice court when training camp begins on Tuesday.

Cavs coach Mike Brown said recently there’s been no timetable established for Bynum’s return. He hasn’t started court work yet, but he’s running on a treadmill.

“My concern is that he’s 100 percent healthy,” Brown said. “I’m not in any rush to get him back. Obviously, it would be great if he’s ready for opening day. If he’s not, I’m more than OK with it. We have a number of guys ready to step up.”

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Cavs general manager Chris Grant said.

He’s also not concerned that Bynum could miss training camp.

“When we signed him, we knew there was some risk,” he said. “He’s done some stuff on the court, but not a lot. We’ve seen significant process.”

***

No. 5: Harris defends Sixers’ (ultimately failed) deal for BynumICYMI, the Sixers’ 2012-13 season couldn’t have gone any worse than it did … offseason acquisition Andrew Bynum never played a game, injuries racked the team’s so-so depth, coach Doug Collins had a meltdown at midseason and the team missed the playoffs by a long shot. As Philly stands on the brink of what is a rebuilding season, Sixers managing partner Joshua Harris tells CSNPhilly.com that he still stands by the team’s decision to trade for Bynum and the rebuilding efforts:

“You have to measure decisions against outcomes. Sometimes in sports there is an element of randomness. I think going for Andrew Bynum was the right decision because it’s very tough to get a player of that caliber. We did a bunch of work and his health problems ended up being worse than anyone thought. That decision was fine. I’m a big boy — we made a decision and it didn’t work out. But I think some of the other player decisions we made weren’t as good and I noticed those and that certainly weighed on me when we chose to go in a different direction.” …

“I’m not a patient person by nature. I want immediate results and immediate upsides, but I think that the reality of professional sports is things don’t change overnight. There are 29 other owners and everyone is smart and everyone is resourced so it’s all about getting an edge. I think the edge comes from putting the right people in place in management and when we were able to get Sam Hinkie and Scott O’Neill and Brett Brown, these are A-players. I feel very, very excited about those moves.”

***

No. 6: Oladipo-at-the-point project to continueThroughout the 2013 NBA Summer League in Orlando, No. 2 overall pick Victor Oladipo saw significant time at point guard. That was a much discussed positional change for the former Indiana University standout who made his name in Bloomington as a standout defender and scorer at shooting guard. According to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, the Magic plan to keep Oladipo at point guard as the team begins training camp:

The Magic will test rookie Victor Oladipo immediately. Oladipo, who played shooting guard in college, will be asked to play perhaps a significant amount at point guard, continuing the experiment the team began during its summer-league exhibitions.

Oladipo faces a difficult test in the weeks ahead. A rookie season is difficult for any player — even someone who played three years of college ball at Indiana, as Oladipo did — and now Oladipo will try to pick up the nuances of the most complex position on the floor.

Magic officials believe he can excel as a defender at both guard positions, but anyone would acknowledge Oladipo will have some rough moments on the offensive end of the court.

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES:  Portland is feeling good about its upgraded bench corps … Thunder brass keeping a watchful eye on tensions in Turkey … Is Russell Westbrook faster than John Wall? … Jazz, Corbin holding off on contract extension talks

ICYMI of the night: We don’t have games yet (c’mon, Saturday! Get here already!), so you’ll just have to enjoy this nice little interview of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant at media day:

T-Mac Calls It Quits, Retires From NBA





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Tracy McGrady‘s NBA career is over, by his own volition.

The seven-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA pick and two-time scoring champ closed the door this morning on ESPN’s First Take, announcing that he was “officially” retiring from the NBA after 16 seasons in the league. He did say he was leaving the door open to opportunities in China, but said he was done playing bit parts on NBA teams.

He spent a decade as a franchise player in Orlando and Houston but knee issues derailed his career. He played in New York, Detroit and Atlanta in his final three full seasons in the league.

McGrady began the 2012-13 season with the Qingdao Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association, where he averaged 25 ppg, 7.2 rpg and 5.1 apg on a last-place team. He joined the San Antonio Spurs during their playoff run that ended in The Finals last season. He was 30 seconds away in Game 6 from earning the NBA title and ring that eluded him his entire career.

His announcement comes on the heels of the retirement of another one of the marquee players of his generation. Allen Iverson announced his retirement last week.

While Iverson should be a lock, the Hall of Fame debate for McGrady will crank up now. If you go by the numbers alone, McGrady should also be a lock. He even mentioned as much on the air this morning, pointing out that during his prime there was an ongoing conversation among basketball insiders and fans as to who was the better player: McGrady or Kobe Bryant.

Of course, Bryant has an edge in championships (5-0) that McGrady will never overcome. But there once was a legitimate debate as to who was going to be a better player between himself, Kobe and Vince Carter during the early stages of their respective careers.

McGrady and Carter never did enjoy the team or playoff success that Bryant did, ending that debate years ago.

Still, McGrady’s transcendent talent and jaw-dropping exploits when he at his zenith (check his highlights above) leave no doubt that he was one of the most unusual talents to ever grace a NBA floor.

A 6-foot-9 shooting guard with otherworldly athleticism, shooting range basically anywhere in the arena and the passing ability most point guards could only dream of, McGrady entered the league straight out of high school as the ninth overall pick to Toronto in the 1997 Draft. He leaves with a Hall of Fame worthy body of work, even it was marred by injuries and postseason failures.

Rose Garden One Of Last Stadiums To Get The Corporate-Naming Touch

.

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – And then there were three.

Only three of the NBA’s 30 arenas do not bear a corporate name: Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks; The Palace of Auburn Hills, home to the Detroit Pistons; and New Orleans Arena, home of the rebranded Pelicans.

Truth be told, that number will soon shrink to two if the Pelicans can find a willing corporate partner.

Last year’s renaming of Milwaukee’s Bradley Center to BMO (Harris Bank) Bradley Center dropped us to four. And Tuesday’s announcement in Portland that the awesomely named Rose Garden Arena — affectionately called simply the Rose Garden — is now the antiseptic Moda Center, made it a lonely three. The deal with Moda Health, a regional health and dental insurance provider, reportedly is for 10 years and $40 million, or $4 million a year, or about $1.4 million less than backup guard Mo Williams will earn the next two seasons.

The Trail Blazers called The Rose Garden Home since 1995, and although team president and CEO Chris McGowan surmised: “The Rose Garden put us on the map, the Moda Center’s going to take us into the future,” Blazers fans seem to have an affinity for roses.

The sudden death of The Rose Garden made us nostalgic for the good ol’ days when an arena name meant something, by gosh, or at least sounded like it did. Gone are The Omni, The MECCA, The Spectrum, The Summit and The “Fabulous” Forum, among others.

Lost are the coliseums like the Coliseum at Richfield — or as I remember it, “Richfield Colisuem” — and the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Which leads to another bygone era of patriotism in arena/stadium naming such as Phoenix’s old barn and Portland’s Rose Garden predecessor, Memorial Coliseum.

And forget about naming an arena after the great metropolis in which it sits. Once New Orleans finds a deal (assuming it can), the mighty Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills will stand alone.

We’re left with a hodgepodge of cold, corporate neon signs on big buildings. It’s difficult enough to keep track of player movement, let alone which stodgy bank or hot company du jour has its name on which arena this week.

Some of these companies seem to come and go with every Wall Street ebb and flow. Quick, name the Philadelphia 76ers’ home arena … For 27 years they suited up at The Spectrum. In the 17 years since moving into a new arena, the place has gone by four corporate names. If you said Wells Fargo Center, congratulations. If you said CoreStates Center, First Union Center or Wachovia Center, please catch up.

It’s hard to believe we’re a solid two decades into naming-rights deals with the late, great Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss really ushering in the era 25 years ago when he signed a deal with Great Western Savings and Loan, changing the Forum to Great Western Forum. The genius behind it is there was little backlash because so few people outside California recognized Great Western as a bank, it almost seemed like a natural name change for a venue that had grown famous for its basketball, boxing and concerts.

The Chicago Bulls weren’t too far behind, going corporate in 1994 with their move into the cavernous United Center and the great Celtics ditched the Boston Garden a year later for something called the FleetCenter. Yes, Fleet specializes in enemas, but this Fleet was actually a Boston-based bank. Of course, once Fleet was sold to Bank of America, the arena name had to be flushed.

In the name of nostalgia, what follows is a history of arena names for each of today’s 30 NBA teams (via basketball-reference.com):

Atlanta Hawks

Alexander Memorial Coliseum (1968-72); Omni Coliseum (1972-97); Georgia Dome (1997-99); Philips Arena (99-present)

Boston Celtics

Boston Garden (1947-95); FleetCenter (1995-2005); TD Banknorth Garden (2005-09); TD Garden (2009-present)

Brooklyn Nets 

Barclays Center (2012-present);
As the New Jersey Nets: Rutgers Athletic Center (1978-81); Brendan Byrne Arena (1981-96); Continental Airlines Arena (1996-2007); Izod Center (2007-10), Prudential Center (2010-12)

Charlotte Bobcats

Charlotte Coliseum (2004-05); Charlotte Bobcats Arena (2005-08); Time Warner Cable Arena (08-present)

Chicago Bulls

International Amphitheater (1966-67); Chicago Stadium (1967-94); United Center (1994-present)

Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland Arena (1971-74); Coliseum at Richfield (1974-94); Gund Arena (1994-2005); Quicken Loans Arena (2006-present)

Dallas Mavericks

Reunion Arena (1980-2001); American Airlines Center (2001-present)

Denver Nuggets 

Denver Auditorium (1974-75); McNichols Sports Arena (1975-99); Pepsi Center (1999-present)

Detroit Pistons

Detroit Olympia (1957-61); Cobo Arena (1961-78); Pontiac Silverdome (1978-88); The Palace of Auburn Hills (1988-present)

Golden State Warriors

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena (1972-96); San Jose Arena (1996-97 while Oakland arena renovated); The Arena in Oakland (1997-2004); Oakland Arena (2004-06); Oracle Arena (2006-present)

Houston Rockets

Hofheinz Pavilion (1971-75); The Summit (1975-98); Compaq Center (1998-2004); Toyota Center (2004-present)

Indiana Pacers

Indiana State Fair Coliseum (1967-74); Market Square Arena (1974-99); Conseco Fieldhouse (1999-2011); Bankers Life Fieldhouse (2011-present)

Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (1985-99); STAPLES Center (1999-present)

Los Angeles Lakers 

Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (1961-67); The Forum (1967-88); Great Western Forum (1988-99); STAPLES Center (1999-present)

Memphis Grizzlies

Pyramid Arena (2001-04); FedExForum (2004-present)

Miami Heat

Miami Arena (1989-99); American Airlines Arena (1999-present)

Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee Arena (1968-74); The MECCA (1974-88); Bradley Center (1988-2012); BMO Bradley Center (2012-present)

Minnesota Timberwolves

Metrodome (1989-90); Target Center (1990-present)

New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans

New Orleans Arena (2002-present)

New York Knicks

Madison Square Garden (1947-present)

Oklahoma City Thunder

Ford Center (2008-09); Oklahoma City Arena (2009-10); Chesapeake Energy Arena (2010-present)

Orlando Magic

Orlando Arena (1989-99); TD Waterhouse Centre (1999-2006); Amway Arena (2006-present)

Philadelphia 76ers

Convention Hall (1963-67); The Spectrum (1967-94); CoreStates Spectrum (1994-96); CoreStates Center (1996-98); First Union Center (1998-2003); Wachovia Center (2003-10); Wells Fargo Center (2010-present)

Phoenix Suns

Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum (1969-92); America West Arena (1992-2007); US Airways Center (2007-present)

Portland Trail Blazers

Memorial Coliseum (1971-95); Rose Garden Arena (1995-2013); Moda Center (as of Tuesday)

Sacramento Kings

ARCO Arena (1985-09); Power Balance Pavilion (2009-12); Sleep Train Arena (2012-present)

San Antonio Spurs

HemisFair Arena (1973-93); Alamodome (1993-2002); SBC Center (2002-06); AT&T Center (2006-present)

Toronto Raptors

SkyDome (1995-98); Air Canada Centre (1998-present)

Utah Jazz

Salt Palace (1979-91); Delta Center (1991-06); EnergySolutions Arena (2006-present)

Washington Bullets/Wizards

Capital Centre (1974-93); US Airways Centre (1993-97); MCI Center (1997-2006); Verizon Center (2006-present)

Free-Agent Roundup: July 2

.

From NBA.com staff reports

The biggest news — other than CP3 staying in Clipperland — from free agency’s opening day wasn’t that big at all. Mostly, a smattering of smaller-name reported signings dotted the map, including Mike Dunleavy to the Bulls, C.J. Watson to the Pacers and Eric Maynor to the Wizards among the notables. There was also Tyreke Evans getting a $44 million offer from Pelicans. As we gear up for Day 2 of free agency, here are some overnight items that you may have missed …:

Bucks, Mavs interested in trade for Bledsoe?

Chris Paul‘s tweet yesterday not only assured Clipper fans that he’ll be in the fold for years to come, but re-opened the door to trading his understudy as well, it seems. According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, the Clips are thinking of moving reserve point guard Eric Bledsoe to either the Bucks or Mavs in an effort to land 3-point specialist J.J. Redick or scoring swingman O.J. Mayo.

According to the ESPN.com report, new Clippers coach Doc Rivers wants to keep Bledsoe on the roster, but the Clippers are nonetheless engaged in “live” talks with the Bucks and Mavs regarding trades. The Magic and Raptors may also factor into a Bledsoe deal as the Clips have been in touch with those teams with talks that would land either Arron Afflalo (from Orlando) or high-flying swingman DeMar DeRozan (from Toronto).

The primary driving force behind any trade for Bledsoe is the summer of 2014, which is when he will become a free agent. The Clips are reportedly concerned they wouldn’t be able to match the kind of offer sheet Bledsoe would draw and, thus, lose him to the open market for nothing. As you can tell, this is a fairly complex story, but some details are below:

Sources told ESPN.com that the Clippers have this week exchanged sign-and-trade scenarios with both the Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks in potential deals that would bring either J.J. Redick or fellow free agent O.J. Mayo to L.A.

The discussions with Dallas, sources said, center on Mayo, whom the Clippers are said to have contacted in the first few hours of NBA free agency Monday. Talks with the Bucks, meanwhile, center on Redick, with one source close to the process telling ESPN.com that a face-to-face meeting between Redick and the Clippers was imminent, perhaps as soon as Monday night.

The Clippers, in their previous discussions with Orlando and Toronto, have targeted Magic guard Arron Afflalo and Raptors swingman DeMar DeRozan, although it’s not immediately clear what Toronto’s pending trade of Andrea Bargnani to the New York Knicks does to the Raptors’ ability to stay in the Bledsoe hunt. The Clippers had interest in Bargnani as a potential solution to their lack of floor-spacing shooters.

A trade with any of the known suitors would almost certainly have to include other pieces — such as Caron Butler‘s expiring contract — because Bledsoe is due to make only $2.63 million next season in the final year of his rookie contract.

If they can acquire another player or two Rivers likes, it’s believed he can be convinced to part with Bledsoe before the start of the season. The 23-year-old is eligible for a contract extension before the Halloween deadline for such deals for members of Bledsoe’s draft class.

Yet there’s clearly also a part of Rivers who wants to ignore the conventional wisdom that the Clippers can’t afford to keep Bledsoe as Paul’s backup and try to keep him around for one more season as the ultimate insurance policy for Paul.

The Clippers, with or without Bledsoe, are focused on adding perimeter shooters around Paul and Blake Griffin, sources say, as well as upgrading their perimeter defense.

Blazers interested in Rockets’ Asik?

The acquisition of Thomas Robinson from the Houston Rockets on Sunday could signal the Portland Trail Blazers interest in Rockets’ center Omer Asik, according to Chris Haynes at CSNNW.  

But what’s being overlooked in all this was the Trail Blazers’ willingness to facilitate the deal in order for Houston to free up the necessary cap space to pursue free agent center Dwight Howard.

According to league sources, several teams including the Trail Blazers, are closely monitoring the Omer Asik situation. Reports are out that the 7-0 center is available. If the Rockets get that verbal agreement they so desperately want from Dwight Howard, Asik will be moved.

One source who is tuned-in with how things could develop tells CSNNW.com that the Trail Blazers are in the Rockets’ good graces, which could have an influence on where they choose to ship Asik when it’s time to do so.

(more…)

Bad Is Good For The Celtics

 

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – There’s an article in the Saturday’s Boston Globe that says “Celtics might not be that bad next season.”

But being “not that bad” would be bad.

Let’s put the emotional aspect of the blockbuster trade sending Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn aside. Danny Ainge pulled the trigger on the deal for the sake of his team’s long-term success. And in order to maximize that long-term success, the Celtics must be as bad as possible in the 2013-14 season.

The trade (which can’t be finalized until July 10) gave the Celtics a few players that won’t make a huge impact and three draft picks from a team that they just helped make pretty good. Chances are that those picks will turn into one good role player down the line.

The most important pick for the Celtics now, the pick most likely to turn into a difference maker, is their own pick in next year’s draft. And that’s why it’s imperative that they’re as bad as can be next season. They have a shot at landing a star next year and they should absolutely go for it.

The New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans) got draft picks when they traded Chris Paul, but the No. 1 pick (Anthony Davis) in last year’s draft was their own. Similarly, the Orlando Magic got picks for Dwight Howard, but the No. 2 pick on Thursday (Victor Oladipo) was their own. For both teams, the most important asset that came from trading their stars was their own futility.

So as painful as the next 10 months could get, the Celtics and their fans should understand that pain – along with asset collection – is part of the process. Boston went 24-58 in 2006-07, turned their assets into Garnett and Ray Allen, and won a championship a year later.

That Globe article cites the presence of Rajon Rondo as a reason the Celtics could be decent next season and possibly make the playoffs. Well, Ainge might encourage Rondo to take his time coming back from ACL surgery, that Avery Bradley struggling to get the ball up the floor against pressure for another 40-50 games is for the best.

In fact, Ainge made it rather clear that he doesn’t want to be a borderline playoff team next season, as Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald writes

Consider Ainge’s take Thursday night on the 2014 draft.

“Next year’s draft we don’t see as loaded. We see it as top-heavy,” he said. “(But) there will be more impact players next year.”

In other words, Ainge believes they have to pick among the top 10 to make the trip worth their while. And they haven’t had a selection that high since the 10th pick of the 2001 draft — Joe Johnson. Pierce came to them on that same number in 1998.

One note there: The Celtics had the No. 5 pick in 2007, trading it to Seattle for Allen.

Ainge probably isn’t done making moves this summer, but he’s off to a great start. If he could find someone to take Courtney Lee off his hands, Boston will be in even better shape.

With Bradley, Gerald Wallace and Jeff Green, the Celtics could be decent defensively next season. But they’ll obviously take a step backward on that end without Garnett. And they promise to be absolutely dreadful offensively, where they ranked 22nd even before Rondo got hurt in late January.

That’s OK, though. Absolutely dreadful is a good plan.

No. 1 Pick Could Help Push Cavs Into The Playoffs

x

NEW YORK – Before Tuesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers were among the two or three Lottery teams most likely to make the playoffs next year. They have a budding superstar, other young players who will only get better, and a new (and old) coach who will get them to improve on the end of the floor where they’ve been particularly dreadful that last few years.

2013 Lottery results
Pick Team
1. Cleveland
2. Orlando
3. Washington
4. Charlotte
5. Phoenix
6. New Orleans
7. Sacramento
8. Detroit
9. Minnesota
10. Portland
11. Philadelphia
12. Toronto (to OKC)
13. Dallas
14. Utah

After Tuesday night, if you didn’t already have them there (some of us did), you’d have to move the Cavs to the top of the list. Thanks to the results of Tuesday’s Draft lottery, Cleveland will add the No. 1 pick of the 2013 Draft to and young and talented core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson.

It was just two years ago that the Cavs won the right to select Irving with a pick acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers. This time, they won with their own pick, earned with a 24-58 record, some terrible defense, and an 8-3-6-7 combination of ping-pong balls.

A month ago, Mike Brown was rehired to fix that defense. The Cavs are the only team to rank in the bottom five in defensive efficiency each of the last three years, but ranked in the top five on that end a couple of times under Brown (and with the best player in the world).

A month from now, Cleveland will add another piece to the puzzle. Two No. 1 picks in three years is a good way to ensure both short and long-term success.

“It’s going to mean a lot,” Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said Tuesday, “because if we can pick the right guy to fit into the young core that we have now, we can be a great team for many, many years.”

Before the lottery, there was no clear No. 1 pick. No LeBron James or Anthony Davis. And there was no Big Two on the level of Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. Among the top four or five talents, there’s a guy at each position, and none is a can’t miss prospect.

But with Cleveland drawing the top selection and already having Irving and Waiters in their backcourt, Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, a 6-foot-11 power forward, jumps to the top of the list. The Cavs have Thompson, Tyler Zeller (taken with the No. 17 pick last year) and the oft-injured Anderson Varejao up front, but every good team needs at least three quality big men.

The issue, of course, is that Noel won’t be available until at least Christmas, still recovering from ACL surgery in his left knee in March. And as we’ve seen in the past, training camp is a critical part of a rookie’s orientation to the league.

The Orlando Magic, who finished with a league-worst 20-62 record, will draft second, and they can use help at every position and on both ends of the floor. They have a handful of young players, but none is really a franchise anchor. Their best pieces are on the frontline, however, so they should be happy with any number of options in the backcourt, including Michigan point guard Trey Burke and Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore.

In discussing the possibilities, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn talked about building a culture as much as acquiring talent.

“I trust our general manager and our scouts and their ability to find the right person who’s going into fit in our locker room,” Vaughn said.

Magic general manager Rob Hennigan, another descendant from the San Antonio Spurs’ management tree, had a similar outlook, saying that he wants to continue “to build the momentum with what we want to be about, what our identity is, what our values are, and really staying true to that.”

Like the Cavs, the Washington Wizards have a young and talented backcourt. So they will probably look to go big with the third pick, though general manager Ernie Grunfeld indicated Tuesday that he’ll look for the best player available.

“In this league, players win, regardless of what position they’re at,” Grunfeld said. “We’ll take the best player that we feel will help us, in the short term and the long term.”

Stan Van Gundy Won’t Coach Next Season



HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Go ahead and cross Stan Van Gundy off your coaching wish list, NBA general managers and decision-makers.

The former Orlando Magic and Miami Heat coach told Orlando radio station SportsTalk1080 this morning that he will not return to the sideline for the 2013-14 season. His decision quashes the dreams of fan bases from Cleveland to Atlanta and several other outposts where coaching searches are in full swing.

(Listen to the full interview here)

Van Gundy said he has not interviewed with any teams, though he had been contacted by several about their vacancies.

His announcement takes one of the prime coaching candidates off of the market before things get really cranked up during NBA free agency in July.