Posts Tagged ‘Rashard Lewis’

It’s Never Too Soon For Snap Judgment


Never mind that the playoffs won’t begin for nearly six months. It’s never too soon to leap to conclusions about what we know — or think we know — one week into the 2012-13 regular season.

Knicks: Just when it became fashionable to trade in those blue and orange jerseys for the black and white of Brooklyn, the Knicks roll out their best start in team history, not only going 3-0, but also winning every game by at least 16 points. Nobody’s breaking out the countdown charts until Carmelo Anthony and his buddies run down the historic 72-10 record of the Bulls. But as long as the Knicks keep sharing the ball and the likes of Ronnie Brewer, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni give big man Tyson Chandler help with their defense on the perimeter, they’re for real. At least until Amar’e Stoudemire comes back to mess with the chemistry. Suddenly the Eastern Conference is about more than sniping between the Heat and Celtics. We all know the real bad blood is N.Y. vs. Miami with Jeff Van Gundy hanging onto Alonzo Mourning’s ankle.

Lakers: The NBA’s combination of longest-running soap opera/situation comedy of the past two decades has always been the ride on the day-to-day roller coaster of the Lakers. It’s part of the DNA of Angelenos to panic anytime their team loses two in a row and this season an 0-3 start hit the hysterical jackpot. Yes, Mike Brown will be under more microscopes than a newly discovered germ at the CDC and, yes, it will matter that soon-to-be-39-year-old Steve Nash is ambulatory for the postseason and it would help if their bench wasn’t paper thin. Still every team in the West outside of the Thunder and Spurs would trade its roster for a confused Dwight Howard and an aging Kobe Bryant. They’re not dead yet, but their breathing is labored.

James Harden: Look, LeBron James already has a shelf full of MVP trophies and is concentrating on chasing down Michael Jordan for his six championships. So wouldn’t it be simpler to just acknowledge right now that The Beard is unstoppable. It was never a secret that Harden was talented and explosive. But popping in 37 and 45 in his first two games with the Rockets and leading the league in scoring at 35.3 has been like scrapping the velvet off a painting of dogs playing poker and to find a Rembrandt hiding underneath. (more…)

Maynor Is Thunder’s Wild Card

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Eric Maynor was forced to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder’s run through the Western Conference and to The Finals like the rest of us, from the sidelines in street clothes. A knee injury cost the Thunder point guard his chance at making a significant on-court contribution to the cause.

But he’s back now and seemingly better than ever, working as the Thunder’s resident wild card after a summer spent growing what’s already in the fold as opposed to adding new pieces to what Thunder fans hope is a championship-ready roster.

Derek Fisher was used in this same position last season, and proved to be particularly valuable in the postseason. He was only keeping the spot warm for Maynor, who reportedly faces a serious challenge for playing time from Reggie Jackson.

If what Maynor showed last night, however, is any indication, Jackson might spend more time watching Maynor work instead of stepping into his shoes.

Barry Tramel of the Oklahoman was there and loved what he saw from Maynor in the Thunder’s win over the Bobcats :

A cool hand. A settling force. A silky facilitator in a land of Olympians and all-stars.

Maynor had seven assists and just one turnover in 19 minutes against the Bobcats. Ten points on 3-of-5 shooting. Even had five rebounds.

“Really good to see him out there,” Scotty Brooks said. “He’s solid, as we all know. He makes good decisions. He facilitates the offense. He gets everyone involved.


Duncan = The Big Discount?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Tim Duncan’s Hall of Fame credentials are set. His legacy needs no polishing at this late stage of his magnificent career.

And yet Duncan continues to shine.

He’s doing it this time without even touching the court. By taking a whopping 54 percent pay cut to remain with the Spurs, he abstained from the summer’s free-agent-palooza and allowed the Spurs to maintain their financial flexibility. That helped San Antonio keep its core group intact as it tries to mount one last championship run in the Duncan era.

As Jeff McDonald of the Express News reports, there was no need for a negotiating session:

“I’m an awful negotiator,” Duncan said, chuckling. “My agent was mad at me the whole time.”

Duncan was on hand at the Spurs’ practice facility Tuesday for the start of his 16th NBA training camp. That would have been surprising only if the notoriously casual dresser had arrived in something out of Craig Sager’s wardrobe.

Though technically a free agent for about a week in early July, the 36-year-old Duncan said he never seriously considered retirement and never remotely entertained the idea of playing elsewhere.

“I’ve been here for so long,” said Duncan, who took no calls from rival teams. “This is home for me.”

That’s a welcome statement for NBA observers who still cringe at the memory of Hakeem Olajuwon in a Toronto Raptors jersey or Patrick Ewing in Seattle SuperSonics green.

Taking that pay cut means Duncan instantly became The Big Discount. With his reported $9.6 million salary, Duncan moves from near the top of the league’s earnings list to a new spot behind the likes of Al Jefferson and Carlos Boozer, solid big men who will both earn $15 million this season but won’t rank anywhere near Duncan when their careers are over.

Two Gordons, Eric ($13.6) and Ben ($12.4), will both earn more than Duncan this season, as will Hedo Turkoglu ($11.8), Corey Maggette ($10.9), DeAndre Jordan and even former Spurs swingman Richard Jefferson ($10.1).

That doesn’t include the four amnestied players — Brandon Roy, Gilbert Arena, Elton Brand and Rashard Lewis — all of whom will earn between $21 (Roy) and $15 (Lewis) million for not playing with the teams that owed them that money. Arenas isn’t even on anyone’s training camp roster.

In an era when folks love to poke players for being all about the “Benjamins,” Duncan deserves some credit for being about everything but his own bottom line!

LeBron James: 2012-13 Miami Heat Have Potential To Be Better … “Scary”

MIAMI – After a summer spent alongside an elite collection of some of the other best basketball players on the planet, it takes a lot to impress LeBron James.

James capped his biggest year to date with his first NBA title, first Finals MVP and a gold medal won at the London Olympics. But if the Heat are as good as they could be, or as good as James thinks they can be, things could get “scary” around here this season.

With Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade healthy this time around and new additions in veteran stars, and former teammates, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, James sees the 2012-13 version of the Heat being potentially better than the crew that hugged that Larry O’Brien trophy in June.

“We have the potential to be better,” James said Friday during the Heat’s media day. “We have the potential to be a lot better. And that’s scary.”

Scary is the run James is on currently. His perch atop the basketball was secured during a dizzying nine-month stretch that saw him collect virtually every piece of hardware any player could dream of. Any notion that he would ease up and be satisfied with winning his first NBA title was squashed when he took all of six days to enjoy it before heading to Las Vegas for training camp with the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team in preparation for the Olympics.

Any notion that the Heat would be satisfied with winning just one title during the Big 3 era was washed away when the wooed Allen away from the Celtics and other teams that pursued him in free agency. There were clearly bigger and loftier goals in mind.

“LeBron has a great sense of legacy, not only his own personal legacy, but this team’s legacy,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “This team was built for something bigger than just making a one-year run. Nothing is guaranteed. We know how difficult it will be … This is a different challenge now. And that’s what you should want is to continue to have an opportunity to reinvent yourself. How do we respond to success? Will it be as motivating and powerful a teacher as the pain and the failure of the year before. I love that. I’m looking forward to that, because we’ll find out a lot more about ourselves in this new journey.”

Heat Won’t Stand Pat In Quest To Repeat

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The Miami Heat are the NBA champs and with all their key players coming back (apologies to Ronny Turiaf), they’re the clear favorite to repeat.

That doesn’t mean the Heat could just stand pat this summer. As Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra remember the 2006-07 season, when complacency doomed the team’s bid to win a second straight title.

The first time the Heat defended a championship, in 2006, that defense began with players reporting to training camp out of shape and ended with the Heat being swept out of the first round of the 2007 playoffs, to go three consecutive seasons without winning a playoff series.

“This year has been different than it was in 2006, when we won that title,” Spoelstra said of what has been a six-week whirlwind since finishing off the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals. “It seemed as if that celebration lasted all the way up ’til training camp.”

Spoelstra recounted how the Heat this offseason have gone from their championship celebration to the NBA Draft to the free-agency period that so far has netted the team Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to summer league in Las Vegas and now to this tour alongside video coordinator Dan Craig. (more…)

15 Games You Shouldn’t Miss

Back in his playing days, Magic Johnson used to say the first thing he did was search for the dates when his Lakers would face Larry Bird and the Celtics and then he’d circle them on his calendar.

Every fan does it — scours the schedule, finds those special games with the extra story line or pop and starts to make up those early excuses to duck out on minor social commitments like weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals in order to be in front of the big screen TV.

Here’s a fast-breaking head start on 15 games you don’t want to miss:

Tues., Oct. 30 — Celtics at Heat (TNT) – You’ve got The Heatles of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh singing, “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” as they’re presented with their championship rings before the season opener. Maybe it’s the first of “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five…” And you’ve got the image of the traitorous Ray Allen suiting up for the first time against his ex-Celtics teammates. There is not a more intense rivalry in the NBA today than Miami-Boston. The enmity is visceral.

Thur., Nov. 1 — Knicks at Brooklyn Nets (TNT) – Welcome to the first regular-season home game by a major league professional sports team in Brooklyn since the Dodgers last played at Ebbets Field on Sept. 24, 1957. The sparkling Barclays Center hosts the Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and friends against the new home team led by the high-powered backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson in the new Battle of New York. The Knicks never quite took the Nets seriously while they were across the river in New Jersey. But now the resurgent Nets could own the five boroughs.

Thur., Nov. 1 — Thunder at Spurs (TNT) — It’s the season opener for Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and the rest of the young guns, coming off their loss to the Heat in The Finals. They return to the site of their most singular victory to date, the Game 5 breakthrough at the AT&T Center that propelled OKC to their stunning 4-2 reversal against the Spurs in the Western Conference finals in June. Tim Duncan is signed up for three more years, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are at his side and the Spurs believe the door is still open for them. (more…)

What’s Blowing Through Chicago?

HANG TIME, Texas – Close your eyes and think of those days when the Bulls were a mean, snorting threat to win it all. Try to remember way back when they took the floor with their heads down, horns sharp, pawing at the dirt, ready to challenge LeBron James and the Heat for Eastern Conference supremacy and make a run at their first championship since the Jordan Era.

Was it just three months ago?

From the moment Derrick Rose crumpled in a heap at the end of the playoff opener against Philadelphia, a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, it was obvious that 2012-13 was going to be a different kind of season in Chicago.

But this summer has been more like Extreme Makeover: Lake Michigan Edition.

Kyle Korver has been shipped off to Atlanta. C.J. Watson is now in Brooklyn. Omer Asik is the latest to hit the door, landing in Houston when the Bulls chose not to match a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet.

As noted by our well-respected friend Rick Telander in the Chicago Sun-Times:

A Bulls team that last offseason seemed so improved, so solid, so primed to take on the Miami Heat and go for the NBA crown, with fine starters and a feisty Bench Mob, isn’t exactly a memory, but it’s a fading vapor. (more…)

A Bad Time To Stop The Linsanity

HOUSTON – In the end Jeremy Lin got his billion dollar contract.

After all, isn’t that what coach Mike Woodson said it would take to pry the point guard phenom — and next season’s starter — out of the Knicks’ cold, dead hands?

So Linsanity now wears boots and a Stetson, y’all.

For the Rockets, it’s the continuation of a summertime gamble that looks a lot like walking across a high wire while juggling chain saws.

After re-signing a player he had and cut seven months ago for a whopping $25.1 million, Houston general manager Daryl Morey evidently plans to turn right around and close a quite similar deal with Bulls backup center Omer Asik.

At the same time the Rockets remain doggedly in the middle of the Dwight Howard soap opera, willing to take the unhappy big man off the hands of the Magic, even for a short-term rental, or play a third-party role that could land Howard on the Lakers and Andrew Bynum in Houston. In return Morey is willing to give up a large portion of his current roster and take on a bevy of bad contracts from Orlando.

If you’re the Rockets who’ve been trapped in the netherworld middle of the NBA standings for three straight seasons with no star to build around, it is a half-mad gambler’s plan that makes perfect sense, assuming you’ve got the nerve and access to team owner Leslie Alexander’s wallet.

However, if you’re the Knicks, just drop the ‘L’ and label it insanity. Not that Lin was ever going to chase the ghost of Walt Frazier out of Madison Square Garden, but because they chose a curious time to become, as the old saying goes, pennywise and pound-foolish.


Wizards Undecided On Blatche Amnesty

The first day that NBA teams are officially allowed to sign free agents and make trades is also the first day of the six-day window where teams are allowed to use the amnesty provision to cut players and remove them from their salary cap. The Washington Wizards are still undecided about whether to use the amnesty provision on one of the top league-wide candidates, forward Andray Blatche, according to sources.

Washington is exploring several options for Blatche, who has fallen out of favor both with fans in D.C. and with the organization after signing a contract extension in 2010 that reworked his existing contract into a five-year deal worth $35 million. The Wizards could opt for amnesty, which would remove the remaining $23 million the team owes Blatche from its salary cap, freeing up resources that the team will need in the next few years to extend players like John Wall and this year’s first-round pick, Bradley Beal.

The Wizards could trade Blatche immediately. Or, they could continue to explore trade options while removing Blatche from the daily workings of the team–in essence, paying him his salary to stay away. The Pacers used a similar strategy in 2008, forcing guard Jamaal Tinsley to sit out the whole season while not playing after he clashed with then-coach Rick Carlisle and the organization.

But asking owner Ted Leonsis to write that $23 million check is a big ask, sources allow, even though Blatche is not in the team’s future plans. The Wizards have remade their power forward group in the last year and a half, drafting Jan Vesely with the sixth pick in the 2011 Draft and acquiring Emeka Okafor from New Orleans last month (along with small forward Trevor Ariza) for Rashard Lewis. Second-year forward Trevor Booker also played extremely effectively in spots the last couple of years. Washington has Ariza and Chris Singleton penciled in to take the lion’s share of minutes at small forward. (more…)

Heat To Sign Lewis To 2-Year Deal

The Miami Heat continued to add veteran free agents at low prices Tuesday, agreeing to terms with forward Rashard Lewis on a two-year deal worth around $3.3 million, according to a source.

Lewis had visited the Heat on Sunday and spoken with both the Hawks and Knicks in the following couple of days. But ultimately, he liked the fit of the Heat. And given that he is already going to make $13.7 million this season after being bought out by the New Orleans Hornets, who acquired him last month from Washington for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, money was not a major issue. The buyout completed the massive $118 million deal Lewis signed with the Orlando Magic in 2005.

The Heat are clearly looking to surround LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with as many proven shooters as possible. Miami reached agreement last week with free agent guard Ray Allen, the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers, to a three-year, $9.5 million deal. The 32-year-old Lewis is currently eighth on that 3-point list with 1,690, and is a career 38.8 percent shooter from behind the arc.

Lewis has been injury plagued the last couple of years. Since coming to Washington in December, 2010, in a trade for Gilbert Arenas, Lewis missed 60 games with knee problems, and lost his starting job at forward with the Wizards to rookie Chris Singleton. But even the threat of someone as potent as Lewis has been over his career as a perimeter scorer will force opposing defenses into a quandary next season — even more so if Allen is on the other side — as they figure out how to keep Miami’s Big Three from going wild if facing single coverage.