HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In the seemingly endless search for an edge in the Draft process, teams are willing to go to great lengths to find theirs.
The Charlotte Bobcats, whose draft missteps of the recent past have been well documented (Sean May, Adam Morrison, etc.), have come up with a remedy for what has ailed them over the years. And they’ve found it in an original system designed by general manager Rich Cho, whose cutting-edge system has helped Michael Jordan‘s Bobcats completely rework their scouting process.
The first real chance the Bobcats will have to test it out comes Thursday night, when they’ll use it to assist them when they have the No. 2 pick (and No. 31, the first pick in the second round). Cho’s system involves a radically different approach to what the league is used to, as Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer details:
Cho’s system has all the basics you’d expect: Player contracts, statistics that can be used to compare Bobcats players’ development to others’, any potential bonuses that could complicate trade discussions. But beyond that, this is a function of Cho’s self-description as “a big information hound.”
Call it nosey if you like. To Cho, it’s being forewarned. You can see both the engineer and the lawyer in Cho’s concept.
For Michael Jordan, this is like being called for pushing off on Bryon Russell, or getting stripped by CraigEhlo, or throwing the ball to Steve Kerr and John Paxson, only to watch them miss.
In so many other instances in his playing career, Jordan has been both good and lucky. As an executive, not so much. And the crummy luck came back to haunt him once again with the NBA draft lottery, where the seven-win Bobcats suffered a bigger defeat the other 59 combined.
They’re choosing second in what’s probably a one-superstar draft. Such is life for Jordan since he traded his sneakers for a seat in the boardroom. He can’t seem to win.
When he had the first overall pick, while the GM in Washington, the prize was Kwame Brown. When he had the third pick, the 2006 college player of the year was available, and Adam Morrison was taken because he was a scorer, which the Bobcats desperately needed. (In a cruel twist of fate, Jordan later traded for the fourth pick in that 2006 draft, Tyrus Thomas, giving the Bobcats the biggest busts that year.)
Then he held lower lottery picks in franchise player drafts and missed out on Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving.
NEW YORK — Monta Ellis deserves credit for being the man to get this all started a few weeks ago. And sooner or later someone’s going to give the wacky days of trade chatter and pure speculation leading up to the NBA Draft a name.
The Great Speculations?
Basketball’s International Moving Parts Festival?
We’ll keep working on that. In the meantime, it’s time to dive in and sort through the all the mess just hours away from the 2011 Draft and see if we can’t make a little sense of all these rumors:
According to an NBA source, new Warriors coach Mark Jackson has made at least two phone calls to Monta Ellis to tell Ellis how much he would love to coach him.
Here’s a full report and breakdown of the latest Ellis info by CBSsports.com’s Ken Berger, who has been all over this situation and everything I’ve heard is totally consistent with this.
It’s an open secret around the league that Ellis and his representatives are starting to believe that this might be the right time to move him to a title contender.
Ellis is in his prime, has put in many years with the Warriors, and two sources indicate that there has been some frank general discussion between GSW management and Ellis’ camp about his future, the team’s future, and whether the two should remain entwined.
Big point: Ellis loves playing at Oracle Arena. He apparently also appreciates what Jackson has been telling him.
But he’s wondering the same thing many execs around the league are wondering: How else could the Warriors get a necessary bigger player if they don’t trade Ellis?
In recent weeks, the Sixers have discussed trades involving swingman Andre Iguodala with both the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers, along with various other teams, but have yet to find a deal they deem worthy of execution.
Two factors seem to be slowing the Sixers’ willingness to deal Iguodala: the impending change in ownership and the impending lockout.
OKLAHOMA CITY – The news of Rich Cho‘s firing as general manager in Portland after barely a year (10 months to be exact) on the job stunned as many people here as it did back in Portland and around the league in general. Cho, a former assistant general manager to Thunder GM Sam Presti, worked for this organization for years and was beloved by all who crossed his path.
So what in the world could have gone wrong in such a short period of time that it ends with Cho, a rising star and easily one of the most likeable men in the basketball business, being relieved of his duties?
After yet another failed chemistry experiment with a general manager, however, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this has nothing to do with the men chosen for the job and everything to do with the folks doing the choosing.
Don’t be awkward. And also, hope the awkward owner likes you.
Also, keep your head down, and smile, and shake hands. Sell your home and move your family to Portland, as Cho did a few months ago. Print up business cards and hand them out. Mostly, though, yuk it up with the big brains at Vulcan Inc., best you can. (Read: Nod a lot when they talk to you.) (more…)
Consider that the Blazers did not extend Oden’s contract. He became the first No. 1 overall NBA pick since Kwame Brown to not receive that extension. As a result, the Blazers have the period from the day after the last game of this year’s NBA Finals to June 30 to make a one-year qualifying offer of $8.8 million to Oden.
If the Blazers make this offer, Oden becomes a restricted free agent this summer. He may field offers from other NBA teams, but the Blazers would have the right to match any offer and keep him.
If the Blazers don’t make a qualifying offer before June 30, Oden would simply become an unrestricted free agent. He’s free to leave. And that’s that. (more…)
Life is a little better today for the Mavericks, not so much for the Blazers. Let’s start with Portland, which announced today that “center Marcus Camby underwent successful arthroscopic surgery to repair a partial medial meniscus tear in his left knee this morning.”
The procedure was performed in Vancouver, Wash., and leaves the Blazers without the league’s fifth-leading rebounder (11.3) for approximately three weeks. Throw that on top of Greg Oden being out for the year — again — and Joel Przybilla contemplating retirement, and the Blazers might as well put up a Help Wanted sign in the unpainted paint in the Rose Garden lane.
General manager Rich Cho tried to put a happy face on the Portland’s latest surgery.
“We’re pleased with the outcome of today’s surgery, and look forward to seeing Marcus back on the court soon,” he said. “In the meantime, we have confidence in our frontcourt players to step into the void left by Marcus and help us continue to win games.”
In 39 games (all starts) this season, Camby averaged 5.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.87 blocks in 28.7 minutes. He’s the only player in the Western Conference averaging at least 11.0 rebounds and 1.50 blocks.
The Blazers went with a three-forward look of LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Dante Cunningham in the starting lineup in Wednesday’s win over Sacramento, with Przybilla being the first off the bench. Wonder if they’ll do the same in tonight’s TNT nightcap (10:30 p.m. ET) against the BlakeShow, aka the Los Angeles Clippers.
In the TNT opener, Dallas takes its much-needed one-game winning streak to run with the Bulls at 8 p.m. Chicago beat the Mavs on the road earlier this season, but Jason Terry and Co. are coming off Wednesday’s huge win over the Lakers.
“I’ve been here seven years and had never been through a stretch where we lost six games in a row,” Terry said. “I think the big thing was realizing and assessing the situation and then aggressively attacking from the beginning.”
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We know, we know, it’s just the preseason.
Tell that to the schedule makers, who had a nine-game preseason schedule last night that we could have sworn looked like something we’d see in the middle of December.
This month of action is indeed the warm up act for the “real thing.”
But that doesn’t mean we can’t get down with the Hump Day Hoops Roundup on a Wednesday morning:
DALEMBERT OUT, BOOGIE IN?
The Kings will play the next month to six weeks without the services of Sam Dalembert because of a groin injury. That could put rookie center DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins into the starting lineup for the start of the regular season, per Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee.
It’s a big loss for the Kings, who were hoping to become a better defensive team behind Dalembert’s shot-blocking.
“It’s a problem because the perimeter has to play tight because we want to protect them and the foul situation,” said Kings coach Paul Westphal. “We don’t have the size to clog the lane like we’d like to, so our defense has to be a little different on the perimeter as well.”
The Kings have started rookie DeMarcus Cousins at center during the preseason, and that could continue in the regular season. When Jason Thompson isn’t at power forward, he is Cousins’ backup.
Cousins fouled out of the previous two games.
“DeMarcus can block some shots, he can take some charges and clog the middle,” Westphal said. “But he fights foul trouble, and he’s not going to just be an eraser like Dalembert, like Hassan can be.”
While driving to AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday, brothers Pavel and Yuri Kopeche listened to Russian rap music to get into the mood for the Heat’s game against CSKA Moscow.
The rapper, Don Zagru, is known for satirizing the state of Russian society and wearing LeBron James jerseys.
We know that King James has worldwide appeal. Here was confirmation that LeBronsky is the ultimate symbol of cool in cool-hungry Moscow.
Somewhere, basketball salesman David Stern is smiling.
“The NBA is the new vodka in Russia,” said Yuri Kopeche, a Russian native who has lived in Miami for five years. “People cannot get enough basketball. If you’re wearing a LeBron James shirt or a Knicks or Lakers cap, people know you are Americanized.
“Of course, Russia is usually about five years behind the United States. Britney Spears is very popular right now.”
NO BOOZER INJURY INVESTIGATION
The Bulls and Carlos Boozer have squashed all this talk of an investigation as to how Boozer broke his hand, an injury that will keep him out of the first month of the regular season. Both Boozer and Bulls officials denounced a New York Daily News report that the team was digging into the matter, per Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.
“The guy was trying to create a story out of no-story,” Boozer said of the report after Bulls shootaround Tuesday morning. “Horrible [report]. Obviously, you want to get your facts right before you decide to write something that’s not true. Horrible report. My Bulls are behind me, my teammates are behind me. For me, it’s disgusting when you have a reporter write something that’s not true.”
Boozer, who over the summer signed a five-year deal worth as much as $80 million, expects to have his cast off in three weeks. He hopes to return faster than the eight weeks that was anticipated by team doctors.
“I hope I’ll be back quicker than the normal time,” he said. “But [I'll] let the bone heal and see how it feels when I get my cast off in three weeks.”
Boozer admitted that he was upset by the report but said he was just trying to focus on getting back on the floor.
“I can’t worry about that, man,” he said. “I can’t worry about what people write. I know what’s real and what’s going on and for me, I’m just here for my team, supporting my team. I’ve got the support of my team, my organization, and I’m just looking to forward to getting back out there when my hand’s ready.”
Greg Oden said his rehab is right on schedule. Trail Blazers general manager Rich Cho said there’s no timetable for the center’s return.
Is it possible both are holding something back? Well, when it comes to the star-crossed and injury-wrought career of the former No. 1 pick, it’s probably smart to avoid details and proceed on the side of vagueness.
It’s been three years since Portland took Oden to lead off the 2007 Draft, but the Ohio State product has played in just the last two seasons. During that time he’s managed the equivalent of one full campaign (82 total games) as injuries, mostly to his knees, continue to sideline the 7-footer.
The latest was a fractured left patella suffered last December, which has Oden’s availability for the start of this season in serious question. At a charity bowling tournament Saturday in Vancouver, Oden told the Portland Oregonian he’s on schedule:
“The doctors tell me I’m on time. We’re going at a pace that they’ve got for me. Things are looking pretty good.”
It’s just that he didn’t reveal what exactly the schedule was. The Blazers open the season Oct. 26 against Phoenix.
“I don’t really want to put any time frame on it. I don’t want any expectations out there. And I don’t want to put any pressure on Greg. The last thing I want him to do is come back earlier (than he should) because people are expecting it.”
Cho did add that Oden’s rehab has included some light basketball activities and other cardio-related drills, and he’s lost some weight. The team, Cho continued, is pleased with Oden’s progress.
While it’s still much too early to give up on 22-year-old Oden, the clock has to ticking. Is he destined to be plagued by injuries? Folks in great town of Portland loathe mentioning one-time promising center Sam Bowie and Oden in the same breath, rightly pointing out that the injuries of Bowie have nothing to do with Oden’s maladies.
This is a crucial season for Oden, who’s going into the last year of his rookie contract. The team has rights to Oden going forward under the current CBA, but we don’t know what a new agreement will bring. Whether they admit it or not, this has to be an uncertain time for both sides regarding Oden’s career, especially with a possible lockout looming.
Oden’s first order of business has to be getting healthy and, by all accounts, he seems to be on his way. Just don’t ask how far along.
Hang Time prediction: If Rudy Fernandez ever wants to get carried off the court in Portland a la that pint-sized footballer from Notre Dame, he’d better start making nice. It would certainly help his bank account.
The hard-line stance by the league office may appear extreme in pro sports today, considering that athletes have routinely used the media to voice their frustrations. Fernandez didn’t invent the “play-me-or-trade-me” stance.
But he’s also under contract. If he wants to sit out two of the prime years of his career — two years he’ll never get back — and return to Europe to play … well, more power to him. Trying to hold the Blazers hostage, though, isn’t going to fly and the league office acted accordingly.
Even though he’s been on the job only a month, Portland general manager Rich Cho isn’t about to get bullied into a making a deal that’s not in the franchise’s best interest. Offers for Fernandez have been made, but Cho hasn’t felt compelled to make a move yet. The Blazers have the hammer here. Not Fernandez.
Fernandez isn’t the first player to be stuck behind better players. The 25-year-old swingman can rectify the situation by simply playing better and staying healthy. Take a cue from the movie Rudy and stick with it.
And while he probably would benefit from a new start in New York or Chicago or Boston, how bad was it really in Portland last season? Fernandez still played an average of 23.2 minutes, down 2.4 minutes from the year before when he took Portland and the NBA by storm as a guitar-strumming, slam-dunking rookie.
Asking to be traded despite being a key part of the rotation can’t go over too well in the locker room, either.
At least Fernandez and Portland coach Nate McMillan are back on speaking terms, according to Jason Quick of The Oregonian. The two caught up in Madrid, site of Sunday’s exhibition between the USA and Spain. Fernandez is a star on the Spanish team and McMillan is an assistant for the Americans.
McMillan said it was a “good” conversation, while Fernandez categorized it as “cordial.” It just doesn’t seem as if any breakthroughs were made regarding Rudy for next season. McMillan told The Oregonian:
“I don’t know if he is going to report. My focus is on the team, and right now, he is still a Blazer. So until something happens, my focus will be that he will be there, so I’m preparing training camp as if he will be there.”
Will he be, or will he get his wish to play in Europe? We’ll find out soon enough.