Posts Tagged ‘Orlando Magic’

Morning Shootaround — Jan. 5


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Jan. 4

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Bynum-Gasol talk heats up | Rivers shoots down Griffin-‘Melo rumor | Sanders, Neal have postgame beef

No. 1: Bynum trade keys on Sunday — The on-then-off trade talks involving the L.A. Lakers’ Pau Gasol and their former big man Andrew Bynum, now on the outs with the Cleveland Cavaliers, might just be on again. And by on, we mean heating up big-time Sunday, since that represents the best last day to cross all t’s and dot all i’s by the end of business Tuesday. Trades of this nature typically take 48 hours to be finalized with NBA headquarters, and Jan. 7 is the date by which Bynum’s contract calls for another $6 million guaranteed for the balance of the season. The Cavaliers would prefer not to throw good money after bad, of course, and the Lakers are focused on the luxury-tax benefits of acquiring and then shedding Bynum to reduce payroll. ESPN.com reported the revival of talks that previously were said to be squelched, and USA Today offered a little more context of a deal that – despite the big names involved – is about as sexy as an investor culling stock losers from his portfolio with the IRS in mind:

The Los Angeles Lakers big man once again is the subject of trade talks, this time with the possibility that he’d swap spots with former teammate Andrew Bynum in a possible deal that is of very little relevance to this particular season when it comes to the competitive landscape. This is about failed ventures on both sides and mutually-beneficial attempts to fix bad teams.

… [According] to a person with knowledge of the talks between the two teams, the only asset Cleveland has offered as of Saturday night is a second-round pick, and that won’t be enough to get this deal done.

… By getting rid of Gasol in exchange for Bynum, the Lakers would escape the luxury tax territory this season while creating some badly-needed distance between them and the ‘repeater’ billing that is followed by such a huge, well, bill. …

… Whether it’s a first-round pick that the Lakers are pushing for or a young player who could be part of their cloudy future, the point of it all is that they want something besides the savings to hang their collective hat on. It’s a staring contest in that regard: the Cavs are well aware that the financial factor looms largest for the Lakers, and the Lakers are banking on Cleveland not wanting to cut Bynum for nothing in return and realizing that Gasol on a team that entered the season with playoff expectations but is now 11-22 would be a huge boon.

***


VIDEO: Doc sounds off on trade rumors

No. 2: Rivers disses favorite sports network — So stupid. A non-story. And “that network.” If anyone had any doubts about how L.A. Clippers coach Doc Rivers felt about speculation on ESPN’s various outlets about a Carmelo Anthony-for-Blake Griffin trade, Rivers removed them prior to his team’s game against the Spurs in San Antonio Saturday. In fact, while Rivers always is quick with the comic line about “Doc” merely being a nickname, he deftly performed a little-known surgical process, a rumorectomy, for the assembled media who were poking and prodding, as noted by Broderick Turner of the L.A. Times. Let’s all remember, too, how Rivers reacted to comments by ESPN basketball guy Bill Simmons‘ analysis of the coach’s departure (“quit on” was the pivotal phrase) from the Boston Celtics last summer:

Rivers said the Clippers aren’t engaged in talks to trade Griffin for Anthony and aren’t going to trade their All-Star power forward.

“My whole issue with any of that … is that that network to me reports a story that they created and then they do reports on it for the next two days, on a story that they created,” Rivers said. “But it’s stupid.”

The ESPN report, which was attributed to unidentified league sources, said the Knicks have discussed proposing an Anthony-for-Griffin trade with the Clippers, and that Clippers management has discussed such a deal internally. But the report said the teams haven’t spoken to each other about a possible trade.

With Chris Paul out three to five weeks because of a separated right shoulder he suffered Friday night at Dallas, Griffin becomes even more key for the Clippers.
Griffin leads the Clippers in scoring (22.1) and minutes played (36.6), and he is second in rebounding (10.6) and assists (3.1).

Griffin, 24, is in the first year of a five-year, $95-million contract that pays him $16.4 million this season.

Rivers said he didn’t talk to Griffin about the ESPN report.

“I didn’t say a word about it,” said Rivers, who is also the Clippers’ vice president of basketball operations and has the last word on trades. “I just thought it was such a non-story.”

***

No. 3: Bucks’ Sanders, Neal squabble in locker roomBad things happen with bad teams, and based on the unseemly scene in the visitors’ locker room in Phoenix late Saturday, you could probably guess without a glimpse at the standings that the Milwaukee Bucks (7-26) lug around the NBA’s worst record. After a 116-100 loss at US Airways Center, Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders and Gary Neal got into what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel termed a “bitter argument,” with Neal “going” where few in the fraternity of millionaire athletes dare to go: attacking Sanders’ new contract extension (which doesn’t even kick in till next season). “I earned my money. Why don’t you try it?” Neal said postgame in earshot of reporters, after Sanders questioned his attitude. Anyone paying attention to the Bucks this season could make a case that no one there – from the front office down – has been earning his salary, based on the results. Sanders’ notorious and YouTubed nightclub incident cost him 25 games with a hand injury, while Neal has underperformed and been criticized for selfish play since arriving as a free agent from San Antonio. Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel was there to chronicle some of the dreary ugliness:

It was the latest meltdown for a Bucks team that dropped to a 7-26 record as it lost for the second time in three games on its western swing.

And there were plenty of problems during the game as the Bucks committed a season-high 26 turnovers leading to 38 points by the Suns (20-12).

Bucks teammates did their best to downplay what was an ugly scene in the visitors’ locker room.

“Oh no, we’re good,” Bucks guard O.J. Mayo said. “A little team bonding, that’s all. A little kumbaya, man.

“It’s all good. When things aren’t going well, that’s when the real men reveal their true colors. Are you a grinder? Are you going to roll your sleeves up and get it done?

“People handle it different ways. We’re searching [for] ‘what do we need to do to get it going.’ “

.***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The downside of tanking (well, one more of the many downsides): Promising young players have to endure hard times. Pricey veterans often get shed by teams focused on the future, but a young desirable such as Philadelphia’s Thaddeus Young winds up waiting for the 76ers’ plan to kick into action. … Veteran big man Kurt Thomas would like to get back in, yet at age 41, even he is turning up his nose at his old team in New York. … We’ll leave the digit jokes to you, but can report that Portland’s Nicolas Batum has broken the middle finger on his non-shooting (left) hand. He might not miss any time. … Veteran Hedo Turkoglu, who has played just one more game than Derrick Rose since the end of the 2011-12 season, might be on the Lakers’ radar. Turkoglu, 34, was waived Friday by Orlando, with the Magic saving half of his $12 million by shedding him now. Turkoglu reportedly is eschewing opportunities in Europe for a chance to stay in the NBA.

Back And Forth With Bones: Magic-Wizards

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Back and Forth With Bones is an e-mail exchange between NBA.com’s John Schuhmann and NBA TV’s Brent Barry during a Monday night game. This week, they sat down (Schuhmann at home in New Jersey, Barry in the studio in Atlanta) to watch the 6-10 Orlando Magic visit the 8-9 Washington Wizards.

Pre-game

Schuhmann: Hey Bones, we got Magic-Wizards tonight.

The Wiz have won six of their last eight games with an improved offense (103.5 points per 100 possessions vs. 98.5 in their first nine games). For the season, they’ve been great on both ends of the floor with John Wall, Nene and Marcin Gortat on the floor with two of the Trevor Ariza/Bradley Beal/Martell Webster group, outscoring opponents by 14.3 points per 100 possessions. But all other lineups have been dreadful. So depth is an issue, especially with Beal out.

They’re a jump-shooting team. Only two teams (New York and Portland) have taken a lower percentage of shots from the paint. But they’re tied with the Heat for the league lead in corner 3-pointers. Wall has 32 assists on corner 3s (10 more than anybody else in the league) and Ariza and Webster are tied for second with 23 corner threes.

So that has to be a priority for Orlando’s defense, which ranks 26th in defending corner 3s and has been pretty bad over the last nine games after a strong start. I don’t know if Jameer Nelson is available (and the Magic offense has been pretty awful with him off the floor), but the Wall-Victor Oladipo matchup should be fun.

The Wizards have been a good defensive rebounding team with Gortat and Nene on the floor together, but pretty awful when one or both sits. So Nikola Vucevic could have some success if either gets in foul trouble.

Thoughts?

Barry: Yes, Randy Wittman is auditioning players to help take the load off of the starting group. But this game is interesting to me in that there is a lot of positivity regarding the Wizards recent play. Can they accept and continue what it is that has gotten them there?

With Beal out, I am stoked to see Martell Webster getting quality starter minutes, though 40-plus (in three of those) is too many. He’s just ready to get in there and mix it up, being a pro.

Watching John Wall balance out his game tonight will be key. Quality possessions against a team in Orlando that competes and shares the ball on offense are a must. The bigs must stay out of foul trouble for Washington.

Orlando is not a huge dribble-penetrate attack team other than Oladipo. It’s interesting that the Wiz have had this stretch with Beal (NBA minutes leader and their leading scorer) out.

Is Arron Afflalo an Eastern Conference All-Star? Hard to say he hasn’t played like one.

Schuhmann: Nah, the East All-Stars should just be six players each from Indiana and Miami.

Barry: Add four from the West to the East. Any player born east of the Mississippi can qualify for East team headed to NO!

(more…)

Morning Shootaround — Nov. 20


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Nov. 19

NEWS OF THE MORNING

D-Will to play tonight vs. Bobcats | Anthony: ‘We have to figure this out’ | Hakeem can’t wait to help Howard | Nelson gets minutes cut in Orlando

No. 1: D-Will cleared to rejoin Nets — Few teams this early in the season can match the talent/name-recognition level and disappointment that the Brooklyn Nets boast. Off to a 3-7 start and bringing up the caboose of the Atlantic Division with the New York Knicks, the Nets have lost five of their last six games and experienced most of their struggles without star point guard Deron Williams. Brooklyn got a dose of good news yesterday, though, with word that Williams’ troublesome ankle is feeling better and he will be able to play tonight against the Bobcats, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com. Center Brook Lopez may be back in the linup as well.:

The Nets’ starting point guard said he will play at Charlotte on Wednesday after missing the last two games with a sprained ankle. Williams injured his left ankle against Phoenix on Nov. 15 and hasn’t played since.

He practiced Tuesday and said there will be no restrictions on him when he returns.

“Nope,” Williams said when asked if there will be a minutes limit. “I’m going to play.”

The Nets (3-7) have lost five of their last six games and can use their top point guard back. Williams, who missed the majority of camp with a right ankle injury, is averaging 10 points and 6.5 assists per game this season.

“He looked good,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We had a good practice. Deron looked good.”

The Nets’ health is improving at a critical time, as they play five of their next seven on the road. Center Brook Lopez, who has also missed the last two games with a sprained ankle, said he feels good enough to play.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to be, that’s not up to me,” said Lopez, who landed on teammate Kevin Garnett‘s foot during the Nets’ win over the Suns last Friday. “I feel good. I feel like I could play. I’m not the one calling the shots there. We’ve got to think about long-term.”

***

No. 2: Anthony: ‘Got to figure this out’ — In last night’s loss to the Detroit Pistons, Knicks star Carmelo Anthony lost his cool and was whistled for a technical foul in the third quarter and Amar’e Stoudemire was called for one, too, in the fourth quarter. As New York lost its third straight game, Anthony was left searching for answers as a big date with the Indiana Pacers looms tonight, wrties Anthony Rieber of Newsday:

After the Knicks fell to 3-7 with a 92-86 loss to the Pistons Tuesday night, a frustrated Carmelo Anthony was asked to assess just what the heck is going on.

“I don’t know,” Anthony said. “We’re losing. It’s a messed-up feeling. A hurt feeling. Got to figure it out. That’s the only thing I can say about this. We’ve got to figure it out quick.”

How quick? By about 7 p.m. would be nice. That’s when the 9-1 Indiana Pacers will be at the Garden, where the Knicks are 1-5 this season. The Pacers, as you recall, knocked the Knicks out of the playoffs last season.

“I think right now it’s just a matter of wanting it more,” Anthony said. “We’ve got to want it more [Wednesday night], especially on our home court. There’s some bitter feelings, knowing that they knocked us out of the playoffs last year, so hopefully that gives us some momentum, some energy, some confidence and some anger to go out there and play with.”

With 4:09 left in the third quarter and the Knicks trailing by four, Anthony was called for the technical after missing a jumper. Anthony had been complaining all night about not getting calls when he was (in his opinion) fouled by the Pistons.

Less than a minute later, Anthony was called for an offensive foul. Then he blew past Andre Drummond (13 points, 11 rebounds) and hit a layup for what Anthony considered a foul and continuation for what could have been a three-point play.

But the ruling was a non-shooting foul and the basket didn’t count. A flabbergasted Anthony immediately walked to the bench. “It’s kind of hard when you’re out there dealing with that,” he said. “When you think things should be going your way and it’s not. Thinking something should be called but it’s not. I’ve got to fight through that.”

Stoudemire, who had six points in 15:07 and isn’t expected to play Wednesday night, was whistled for a technical for arguing as the Knicks appeared to be losing their cool.


VIDEO:
Anthony on Knicks’ struggles, lack of effort

***

No. 3: Olajuwon itching to help Howard — After Dwight Howard signed with the Houston Rockets in the offseason, much was made (in this space and elsewhere) of his working with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon to further polish his post moves. Since the start of the season, Howard’s offensive game has lagged and he has received plenty of criticism, with TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley being among the foremost ones. Our own Fran Blinebury caught up with Olajuwon, who is in his native Nigera to launch a basketball initiative for youth, about Howard’s play and more:

The Hall of Famer was speaking Tuesday from Nigeria, where he was helping to launch a basketball initiative for youth. Even from half a world away, though, Olajuwon was thinking about the struggles of his current pupil, Howard, who he mentored in the offseason after the big man signed a four-year, $88-million free agent contract with the Rockets, Olajuwon’s former team.

“The truth is that I can’t wait to get back to Houston to do more work with Dwight,” said Olajuwon, who left Houston in early October to return to his home in Amman, Jordan and has been keeping track of his pupil on TV. “I wish he was doing a better job.

“Dwight has always been athletic and aggressive and he still is. But when I watch him, what I see are opportunities that he is missing. When he gets the ball, he seems to be taking his time to decide what move to make, where he should go.

“There should not be a delay for Dwight. He must be able to make a faster recognition of the situations and react immediately with a go-to move. You must move right away before the defense has a chance to set up. You must be the one making the first move so that you can force the defender to always be the one reacting.

“I thought we were doing a good job with this when we were working together over the summer and at the start of training camp. But what I see now is that when Dwight gets in competition, he has a tendency to go back to all of his old habits. He’s just doing all of the things that he did before. He needs a reminder.”

Olajuwon, who was a .712 shooter on free throws through his 18-year NBA career, has cringed long distance while watching Howard make a career low .531 from the foul line this season.

“I think this is where a confident routines comes in,” Olajuwon said. “It’s not just putting in hours and hours of work. It’s getting a solid routine and staying with it. With Dwight right now, I think it’s more mental. Sometimes you just have to let it go. Don’t think. Don’t hesitate. Just trust your routine and let it go.

“I won’t say that you can’t ever win a championship as a big man if you don’t shoot free throws well, because Shaq did it four times. But it can be a deciding factor, so you want to fix it.”

***

No. 4: Nelson takes high road on playing time – In Orlando Magic history, only two players have played more games for the franchise than Jameer Nelson and no other player has as many assists in Orlando as Nelson does. In short, Nelson is and has been a great player for the Magic for years. But as the team moves into a younger phase and tries to get prized rookie Victor Oladipo more minutes at point guard, Nelson has seen his playing time crunched. Such was the case in a road loss to Dallas, where Nelson sat the final 17 minutes of the game in favor of Oladipo. Despite the playing time cut, Nelson is trying to stay as classy as possible about the move, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

Coach Jacque Vaughn kept Nelson on the bench throughout the final 17 minutes of Saturday night’s 108-100 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Vaughn employed rookie Victor Oladipo instead of Nelson at point guard even though Nelson had played well on offense and Oladipo was struggling with turnovers.

“The thing about it is, obviously, I want to play and I want to compete,” Nelson said Monday when he was asked about the situation.

“I’m a competitor and I want to win, so I wanted to be on the court. Coach decided not to play me, and that’s his decision. I can only play the minutes that he gives me, play them as hard as I can and leave it out there for those minutes. It’s his decision who’s going to play the minutes and when they’re going to play them. And our job as players is, like I said, to play those minutes as best we can.”

Nelson wants to remain with the Magic for years to come. At 31 years old, he should have at least several productive seasons ahead of him and would prefer to spend those seasons on the court instead of on the bench.

On Monday, Vaughn was asked whether he anticipates using Oladipo as the Magic’s primary ball-handler down the stretches of close games the rest of the season.

“It kind of depends,” Vaughn answered.

“A lot of times we’ve been playing with three guards in the rotation. There’s been times when he’s been in where Jameer is handling [the basketball]. I think that’ll be [determined by the] opposition and what opportunities we have on the floor. The ball was in [Oladipo's] hands against Dallas. We made them react to us. They started double-teaming him, and so we were able to dictate a little bit. So that was positive for us.”

Vaughn said he wanted to give Oladipo the experience of running the Magic offense during a close game, because those scenarios can’t be simulated in practice.

Team officials want to test Oladipo and determine over the course of the season whether he can be a fulltime point guard in the NBA. They believe Oladipo’s confidence can withstand rough outings, and they also believe he’ll improve as the season continues.

But the decision to play Oladipo over Nelson in the fourth quarter of a winnable matchup also opens the Magic to accusations that they are tanking games to enhance their chances of picking early in the talent-rich 2014 NBA Draft.

Magic officials still regard Nelson as one of their best leaders.

True to form, he said he won’t change his game or his demeanor.

“My game is still the same: to go out and attack and create things for myself or for my teammates and to lead and to do things in a professional manner,” Nelson said. “I’m going to continue to do that no matter what’s going on and what the speculations are and what people say. I’m still me and I’m still going to play like me.”


VIDEO:
Oladipo on playing point guard, facing the Heat next

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Bobcats big man Al Jefferson is getting frustrated by his lingering ankle injury … Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova says he’s ready to return to the lineup

ICYMI Of The Night: The Suns’ Gerald Green just keeps one-upping himself with his in-game dunks this season, with last night’s make-sure-I-don’t-bang-my-face-on-the-backboard jam being the latest entry …


VIDEO: Gerald Green soars in for a spectacular one-handed slam

Improved ‘D’ Fuels Quick Start For Bobcats, Suns And Magic

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – It’s early.

But the Philadelphia 76ers aren’t the only surprise team of the 2013-14 season’s first 10 days. The Charlotte Bobcats, Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns – three teams projected by most to finish in the in the bottom five of the league – are all 3-2 entering Friday’s 12-game slate.

When we look at these three rosters, we see a lack of talent. And from that we can predict that they will struggle offensively. But team defense is another story, especially when you have a new coach, like in Charlotte and Phoenix. Organization and energy on defense can help teams with limited talent overachieve. And defense is the common theme in the early success of these three squads, though one of the three has been much more successful on that end of the floor.

Again, it’s early.

But the Magic, Suns and Bobcats rank third, eighth and 13th in defensive efficiency, respectively. And they all rank among the six most improved defensive teams from last season.

Here’s a closer look…

Charlotte

DefRtg: 100.4 (13th)
Improvement: -8.6 (6th)

The Bobcats’ wins have come against the Cavs, Knicks and Raptors, by a total of 13 points. So just like last year’s 7-5 start, there’s a fool’s gold element here.

In only one of their five games – the win over Cleveland – have they held their opponent under a point per possession. And the Cavs currently rank 29th in offensive efficiency. Bobcats opponents have been a hair less efficient (100.3 points scored per 100 possessions) in their 20 games not against Charlotte.

That doesn’t mean that the future Hornets don’t have anything to feel positive about. They had a hobbled Al Jefferson for just their first game and scored 107 points per 100 possessions over their last two wins. Once they add a healthy Jefferson to their Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions pick-and-rolls, the offense should be even better.

And long term, the Cats will be more organized defensively under Steve Clifford than they were under Mike Dunlap. The early defensive numbers are a little inflated though.

Phoenix

DefRtg: 96.4 (8th)
Improvement: -9.3 (5th)

The Suns have beaten Portland, Utah and New Orleans by a total of 22 points. And they also hung in with the Thunder and Spurs on the road. Their opponents have scored 100.0 points per 100 possessions in their 18 games not against Phoenix.

The Suns had the worst 3-point defense in the league last season and were particularly bad at defending the arc (41.5 percent) with Michael Beasley on the floor. There’s definitely an addition-by-subtraction element here.

They’ve also improved quite a bit on the glass, ranking 11th in defensive rebounding percentage (74.8 percent) after ranking 23rd (71.9 percent) last season. More playing time for the Morris twins has helped in that regard. The Suns have grabbed 75.4 percent of available defensive boards and allowed just 90.6 points per 100 possessions in 148 minutes with one of the two twins on the floor.

Time will tell if Jeff Hornacek‘s defense will continue to hold up, but the signs are good so far. They host the Nuggets and Pelicans this weekend and could face their toughest defensive test on Wednesday, when they visit the Blazers, who currently rank sixth offensively.

Orlando

DefRtg: 94.8 (3rd)
Improvement: -11.9 (1st)

Of the three teams, it’s the Magic who have looked most legit, with wins over the Pelicans, Nets and Clippers by a total of 49 points.

Last season, the Magic defense was strong early in the season, but collapsed after Glen Davis got hurt. So the prospects of them being a decent defensive team while Davis was still recovering from foot surgery were not good. But here they are at No. 3 in the league, having held the Pelicans, Nets and Clippers under 90 points per 100 possessions.

Both Brooklyn and L.A. spoke about a lack of effort in their games in Orlando. The Nets were probably feeling themselves after last Friday’s win over the Heat, and the Clippers were maybe looking forward to their own game against the champs.

But Orlando’s defensive numbers are pretty darn impressive anyway. The Pelicans, Nets and Clippers scored a combined 89.5 points per 100 possessions against Orlando, compared to 108.0 in their other 12 games. L.A. currently ranks No. 1 in the league offensively.

Orlando opponents OffRtg

Team vs. ORL Other games Diff.
Indiana 101.0 99.4 +1.6
Minnesota 103.5 94.1 +9.4
New Orleans 91.4 103.7 -12.2
Brooklyn 89.0 102.5 -13.4
L.A. Clippers 88.0 114.5 -26.4
TOTAL 94.8 103.4 -8.5

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions

The Magic are forcing 1.2 more turnovers per 100 possessions than they did last season, but the early improvement has been mostly about shot defense. And there’s multiple elements to that.

They’re defending the rim better, defending the 3-point line better, and allowing less of those high-efficiency shots. Only 48.1 percent of their opponents’ shots have come from the restricted area or from 3-point range, the second-lowest rate in the league. Last season, that number was 56.7 percent, the 14th lowest rate in the league.

Of Brooklyn’s 89 shots in Orlando last Sunday, 50 came from between the restricted area and the 3-point line. On Wednesday, it was 55 of the Clippers’ 95 shots.

The Magic had a multiple-prong game plan against the Clips, and it worked. First, they sagged deep on Chris Paul‘s pick-and-rolls.

20131106_paul_sag

Paul stepped into some easy elbow jumpers, but the sagging strategy prevented him from getting past the Magic big men and really compromising the Orlando D.

Second, they dared Blake Griffin to shoot from mid-range.

20131106_griffin_space

Griffin was 3-for-13 from outside the paint before that game, but shot an impressive 7-for-13 from mid-range on Wednesday. Still, he got just three shots at the rim.

Finally, the Magic cross-matched in the backcourt, assigning Jameer Nelson to defend his old teammate J.J. Redick. And Nelson did a fantastic job of running Redick off the 3-point line. Here are a couple of examples…


Redick is a great shooter from everywhere, but three is greater than two, so if you can force him into more mid-range shots than threes, you’re doing your job. On Wednesday, Redick was 1-for-5 from 3-point range and 3-for-8 from mid-range.

One more time: It’s early. But an ability to execute a defensive game plan against a great offensive team like that early in the season is a good sign for the Magic defense.

Howard, Young Prove Some Thoughts Are Better Left Unspoken

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST –
 From the department of “Can we please start the season?” we bring you “Thoughts better left unspoken, but spoken anyway” presented by Dwight Howard and Nick Young.

Howard, the happy-to-be-here Houston Rockets center, opted to voice his dismay at how his old Orlando club just handed over his old No. 12 to an unproven (now promising) youngster named Tobias Harris without, apparently, a moment’s reservation.

Harris wore No. 15 with Milwaukee, but the one-five was occupied by forgotten Magic man Hedo Turkoglu. Luckily for Harris, No. 12, his number as a one-and-done freshman at Tennessee, had popped free a few months earlier.

Though Howard thinks the No. 12 he made famous (post-Chris Whitney) should hang in Orlando’s rafters when all is said and done.

“Despite how things ended, we had eight or seven great years. We went to The Finals,” Howard explained to Orlando Sentinel beat writer Josh Robbins last week. “A lot of those banners that are in the arena happened when I was there. I was a major part of that. A lot of the records that are there, I put them there.”

Sure, but It’s not like Orlando rushed to hang No. 32 in the Amway Center. Just don’t tell Dwight that it took a dozen years before Jeremy Richardson dared to don a No. 32 Magic jersey once Shaquille O’Neal headed west.

Now, Nick Young is an L.A. guy. He was born there in June 1985, the same month the Lakers celebrated title No. 9 of 16 while the Clippers had just wrapped up a 31-51 inaugural season in L.A. playing at the Memorial Sports Arena. Young was a hot shot at Cleveland High in Reseda and then at USC. He loved the Lakers.

He dreamed of wearing the majestic purple-and-gold. And now he does. Yet as luck would have it, the Clippers — the Clippers! — are the talk of the town. So when new Clips coach Doc Rivers decided to rid Staples Center, the shared home of both L.A. teams, of every spec of purple and gold when his team is playing, well, Young took exception.

At Friday’s preseason game, Clippers fans found Doc’s answer to sanitizing Staples on Clips game nights: giant-sized posters of their red-white-and-blue heroes completely boxing out the Lakers’ golden wall of fame: 16 championship banners, nine retired jersey numbers and the banner honoring late, great announcer Chick Hearn.

“He can do that?” said first-year Laker gunslinger, talking to reporters after the team’s practice on Sunday. “For real? That’s disrespectful. We got to talk to Doc. He can’t have that. We got to do something about that.

“That’s a lot of pull y’all are giving Doc,” Young went on. “I think he shouldn’t come in and have so much pull like that. He’s got to earn his keep.”

Love the charisma, Nick, but let’s not go there.

Doc’s move was wily (and frankly overdue by the Clips organization) and worthy of a back pat. Who needs Lakers glory constantly mocking his club’s empty trophy case (a 2012-13 Pacific Division championship — won under former coach Vinny Del Negro – is the best it gets) just as the franchise is rising from its doormat past?

“Listen, I think this is our arena when we play,” Rivers told reporters. “So I just thought it would be good that we show our guys. No disrespect to them [the Lakers]. But when we play, it’s the Clippers’ arena as far as I know.”

Quick reminder, too, the Lakers haven’t beaten the Clippers since April 4, 2012, and that skid doesn’t stand much of a chance of ending when the likely Kobe Bryant-less Lakers take on a ridiculously deep Clips team led by Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in the season opener a week from Tuesday. Even though all all that shiny purple-and-gold hanging on the wall will be in full regalia because it is a Lakers home game.

The old veteran Steve Nash offered a more sensible voice to Doc’s coverup: “I guess if you were in the Clippers’ organization you’d probably want to do that, too. It’s their arena on their night, so I would try to make it feel like home.”

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, who knows what it feels like to be an outsider inside his home building, said about the same.

So good job Doc, you did the right thing. As for Nick, if you don’t want those giant-sized Clippers towering over you, you’ll have two chances (Jan. 10 and April 6) to shoot ‘em down, and earn your keep.

Morning Shootaround — Oct. 21

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Nets still await Williams’ return | Young calls Clips’ banner move ‘disrespectful’ | Magic may abandon a.m. shootarounds| Blazers’ Robinson learns from many trades

No. 1: D-Will’s return date still unknownSince spraining his right ankle during an offseason workout in his Utah home, Nets All-Star guard Deron Williams hasn’t played in a preseason game and has minimally increased his participation in practice as well. He has missed all of the Nets’ preseason games and his status remains day-to-day, which has some concerned about his status for the season opener next week, writes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:

One month after the Nets first announced Deron Williams had suffered a sprained right ankle, it still remains unclear when the star point guard will return to the floor.

Williams has increased his workload during practice each of the past two days, according to coach Jason Kidd, and Paul Pierce went as far as to say the team “had a chance to see [Williams] get his feet wet a little” during the two practices, which could be taken as a positive sign in his recovery.

That has been the basic stance the Nets have taken on this injury since it was first announced the day before Williams hosted his charity dodgeball tournament on Sept. 19, which he attended wearing a walking boot. Williams said that was a preventative measure after an MRI exam showed “a little inflammation” after he sprained the ankle and suffered a bone bruise during a workout in Utah early last month.

“They have me in [the boot] now so I don’t have to worry about it when the season starts,” Williams said that day. But he also said then that “I’ll be ready” when the season starts, and that his plan was to be able to fully participate in training camp.

Instead, Williams has been limited, at best, in practice since training camp began Oct. 1, and the Nets only have said he is “day-to-day,” and his status for opening night is up in the air.

“That we’re taking it day by day,” Kidd said when asked if anything had changed to keep Williams out this long.”

Kidd did say Williams looks like he’s getting better.

He worked out [Saturday and] he looked good, so I think he’s going in the right direction,” Kidd said. “He’s doing everything that the doctors and the trainers have asked him. … It’s a process, and he got better [Saturday].”

***

No. 2:  Young calls Clips’ move to cover up Lakers’ banners ‘disrespectful’Maybe you missed it over the weekend and maybe you didn’t, but for brevity’s sake, here’s the quick version: Clippers coach Doc Rivers is having all of the Lakers’ banners — championships, retired players, etc. — covered up during Clipper home games so that the Staples Center has more of a Clipper feel to it. New Lakers swingman Nick Young, who is an L.A. native, took exception to the move and called it out as ‘disrespectful’, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

“He can do that?” Young said after Lakers practice Sunday, the team’s first since returning from China. “For real? That’s disrespectful. We got to talk to Doc. He can’t have that. We got to do something about that.”

The Clippers revealed their Staples Center redecoration during a preseason game Friday, as they plastered giant posters of players Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick over the Lakers’ 16 championship banners and 10 retired uniforms.

“That’s a lot of pull y’all are giving Doc,” Young said, somewhat facetiously. “I think he shouldn’t come in and have so much pull like that. He’s got to earn his keep.”

When a reporter argued that Rivers’ championship resume from his time with the Boston Celtics should give the coach the credence to do so, Young retorted, “But he didn’t win no title in L.A. That’s where it’s at. Look at all these banners in here, you can’t shadow those up.”

The Lakers and Clippers have shared the Staples Center since it opened for the 1999-2000 season, making them the only teams in the league to have such an arrangement.

“I guess if you were in the Clippers’ organization you probably want to do that, too,” Lakers point guard Steve Nash said. “It’s their arena on their night, so I would try to make it feel like home.”

***

No. 3: Magic likely to ditch a.m. shootarounds — The Orlando Magic have one of the younger teams in the league as only Jameer Nelson, Jason Maxiell and Ronnie Price will be 30 or older come opening night. That means coach Jacque Vaughn has a lot of teaching to do and, as such, may be trying to make things easier on his youthful crew by eliminating morning shootarounds, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

This preseason the Magic have done away with morning shootarounds, choosing instead to hold afternoon shootarounds on their Amway Center practice court before home exhibitions and afternoon walkthroughs in hotel ballrooms when they’ve been on the road.

It appears that coach Jacque Vaughn made the switch to improve players’ retention of specific gameplans and to keep his players fresh.

Vaughn wouldn’t discuss his specific reasoning prior to Sunday night’s exhibition against the Detroit Pistons, but some other teams — typically teams loaded with experienced players — in recent years have shifted away from morning shootarounds.

“Have I made a conscious effort to not have some shootarounds? Yes,” Vaughn said. “And will that continue throughout the course of the year? Probably yes. I took a scope of all the things that we did last year — what I liked, what I didn’t like, what I thought was efficient. And that’s what I’m about. I’m about being efficient.

“I don’t have to stroke my own ego and check boxes off [a practice plan]. I just don’t. I don’t have to do what other coaches do. I’m fine with doing what I think is best for my team.”

NBA teams almost never hold morning shootarounds on the second day of a back-to-back, and the Magic didn’t hold morning shootarounds on those days last season, either.

***

No. 4: Blazers’ Robinson learns from many trades — Big man Thomas Robinson was the No. 5 pick of the 2012 Draft by the Sacramento Kings, but by the end of this summer, he had been shipped from the Kings to the Houston Rockets at last season’s trade deadline and, in the offseason, traded from Houston to Portland in a cap-saving move by the Rockets. All those dealings have had their effect on Robinson, who told CSNNW.com’s Chris Haynes that he’s learned from many of his first year mistakes:

Yes it was only a preseason game against the Sacramento Kings, a team going through a rebuild and transformation process. But for Thomas Robinson, it meant so much more.

Sacramento is the team that drafted him, and they are the team that traded him to Houston a few months later. Not often is the No. 5 pick in the NBA Draft presented with such a short leash.

The Rockets didn’t waist time shipping away the athletic forward, either. However it’s the trade from Sacramento that stung the most and he’s still not over it.

Tonight, it was redemption time.

“It got to a point where I had to calm myself down before the game and remind myself that it’s just a game,” Thomas told CSNNW.com. “I just needed to relax and tell myself that it’s just business. It’s not personal. But at the end of the day, if I get the chance to go up against them, I’m not going to hesitate to give it to them.”

Trading Robinson might have been a business decision for Sacramento, but Robinson isn’t going to let them off the hook for that.

“I use that trade and the negative articles that I got saved from last year where people were writing me off. I use that as motivation,” he said. “It’s all good, though. It’s not how fast you do your business, it’s how long.  And as long as I’m still here 10 years from now, I couldn’t care less what anybody thinks about my first year.”

It was a total team effort. For Robinson, it was extreme joy.

The NBA season is long and a preseason performance is not going to erase a year that wasn’t worthy of a top-5 pick. Robinson knows that. That’s why he going about things differently this time around.

His mindset is to not worry about touches, he’s just staying on the attack and being the aggressor. All the time.

As a top draft pick, he admitted to feeling entitled to a certain amount of touches and playing time while being a member of the Kings. That thinking is out of his system now. Three teams in two years tend to do that to a player.

He says that doesn’t change the fact that Sacramento gave up on him too soon, though.

When times on the court get rough, the power forward says he thinks back to when he played in Northern California and that motivates him more than enough to get out of that rut, knowing he’s not trying to go back to that feeling.

“It was great to just play a good game today,” Robinson said. “I know that the mistakes that I made when I was in Sacramento, the mindset that I had there, is completely different now. The mindset that I have now is where it will remain. When my mind is messed up, then it just looks like I’m playing bad like what happened in Sacramento. I’m not going back there.”

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Days after locking up young big man Derrick Favors with an extension, the Jazz are in discussions to do likewise with Gordon Hayward … Spurs reserve big man Jeff Ayers says the Heat were trying to take out his knees … Rookie Steven Adams continues to impress with his rebound work for OKC

ICYMI Of The Night: Who isn’t excited to watch Ricky Rubio make these kinds of passes on a nightly basis? …

Morning Shootaround — Oct. 17

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Jordan dismisses Pera’s challenge | Oden misses practice (knee) | Monroe won’t get extension …  yet | Howard hopes his jersey is retired by Magic

No. 1: Jordan calls Pera’s challenge ‘comical’Just two days ago, Grizzlies owner Michael Pera took to Twitter to challenge Hall of Famer and Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan to a game of one-on-one. In an interview with the Charlotte Observer‘s Rick Bonnell, Jordan had a quick reaction to Pera’s challenge:

Hours removed from the owner of the Memphis Grizzlies challenging Michael Jordan to a charity one-on-one game, MJ had a response:

“Comical.”

That’s the word the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats (and Hall of Fame player) used in a brief interview with the Observer Wednesday. If new Grizzlies owner Robert Pera wants to play one-on-one for $1 million to charity (as he said on Twitter), Jordan won’t be his opponent.

“I think that’s comical,’’ Jordan said. “It didn’t make any sense. Why would I play one-on-one? It’s a no-win situation for me no matter what.”

***

No. 2: Oden sits out practice with knee swellingTwo days after participating in his first full practice as a member of the Heat, center Greg Oden suffered a small setback on Wednesday. The big man was held out of Miami’s practice, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, due to swelling in his left knee:

Oden’s return to contact work had spurred some optimism that he could play in a preseason game. Those hopes have been dimmed now as he’s had to ease off his workload.

The Heat and Oden have been very careful to avoid setting a timetable for the center’s return in part because they’re preparing for setbacks such as this.

“This has been three years for me, as long as it’s no surgery, it’s OK,” said Oden, who last played in an NBA game in 2009. “This is going to be a long season, I’m going to get there.”

The Heat training staff measures Oden’s troublesome knees before and after every workout to monitor any swelling. The team has moved cautiously but had slowly been increasing his workload as he responded well to the first weeks of training camp and the preseason. Getting back to doing full-court work was an anticipated step.

“I was hoping it didn’t (swell up) but it did, but what can I do about it?” Oden said. “Next thing to do is get (the swelling) back down and get out there and figure out what I can do to not let it swell again.”

***

No. 3: Pistons’ Monroe will have to wait for extension — Pistons fans shouldn’t read too much into the news that Detroit is unlikely to offer center Greg Monroe a contract extension before the NBA’s Halloween deadline to do so. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press says much of the reasoning behind the Pistons holding off on the move is not because they don’t want to offer Monroe an extension, but more due to them wanting to monitor the development of fellow big man Andre Drummond:

At this point the Pistons still consider Monroe a huge part of their rebuilding effort, but the circumstances suggest the team would be better off letting the season play out.

The Pistons probably could get a signature on a five-year, maximum contract offer. There wouldn’t be much point in the offer being declined. But the collective bargaining agreement dictates that teams can have only one five-year, designated player. That spot likely is reserved for second-year center Andre Drummond in the off-season before 2015-16.

So the season plays out and Monroe builds on his promising first three seasons, couldn’t he just walk? Nope. The most another team could offer is four years. The Pistons match it and still retain the five-year designation for Drummond.

The situation works for Monroe because things can change. What if Drummond is hurt or Monroe outplays Drummond this year? Circumstances could change where the Pistons would be open to offering Monroe five years. Or Monroe could be linked to trade rumors if the grouping with Drummond and Josh Smith isn’t working.

***

No. 4: Howard hopes Magic retire his number one day — Yesterday, Dwight Howard spoke with Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel and said he had ‘no regrets’ over how the end of his tenure played out in The City Beautiful. Before Howard’s Rockets topped the Magic in Houston last night, Howard said he hopes he and the Magic can one day mend fences enough to consider retiring his No. 12 jersey (which is today worn by Magic player Tobias Harris):

This morning, after Howard’s Houston Rockets completed their shootaround, I asked him whether he can envision the Magic retiring his number one day in the distant future.

“No doubt,” he answered.“Despite how things ended, we had eight or seven great years. We went to The Finals. A lot of those banners that are in the arena happened when I was there. I was a major part of that. A lot of the records that are there, I put them there.

“I hate talking about myself, but I feel like I’ve done a lot, not just for the team but the city and the arena itself and the businesses that were around. There’s a lot of things that happened that didn’t happen before I got there. Our team, we did an excellent job at putting all that stuff together, especially in the community. I was deeply embedded in the community and I feel like one day it should [be retired].

“But with all that happened, I can’t control that. All I’ve got to do is win. And, hopefully, when I’m done playing here, I’ll have my jersey retired here.”

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Spurs still seeking a capable backup for budding star Kawhi Leonard … Cavs coach Mike Brown wants a better defensive effort from Dion Waiters Caron Butler of the Bucks has trimmed down a little this season

ICYMI Of The Night: Derrick Rose‘s regular-season debut is in 12 days, but if you asked the Pistons after this move on Peyton Siva, they’d say he’s in mid-season form already …

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