Posts Tagged ‘Ronnie Price’

Morning Shootaround — Sept. 1


Bennett shows FIBA resurgence | Suns players begin unofficial workouts, without Morris | The Warriors are winning Silicon Valley

No. 1: Bennett shows FIBA resurgence The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Anthony Bennett out of UNLV with the first overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, but the expected development once he reached the NBA has yet to fully occur. A change of NBA environment via a trade to Minnesota hasn’t had the desired effect, either. Yet playing for his native Canada this summer in international competition, Bennett has nearly averaged a double-double. As Josh Lewenberg writes for TSN, Bennett has finally found his swagger

Seated in the front row, an international reporter searched for the appropriate words to make an uncomfortable but fair observation, one that caught others off guard but hardly made Bennett flinch.

“You play so different in the NBA and in FIBA,” the reporter pointed out. “You are a lot better in FIBA. Why?”

The answer isn’t nearly as straight forward as the question. There are a number of factors that contributed to Bennett’s forgettable rookie and sophomore seasons, health and conditioning among them, but the word he frequently uses to explain his improved play this summer should not be overlooked. Confidence.

“[I’m] just playing with confidence, pretty much,” the 22-year-old forward responded. “Just going out there, playing defence, running the court. Just doing the little things first and trying to make offence come to me.”

Exactly 366 days – a year and one day – earlier, Bennett was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, along with fellow Canadian and good friend Andrew Wiggins, in the deal that sent Kevin Love to Cleveland.

Certainly, Bennett’s debut campaign with the Cavaliers did not go as anticipated. A shoulder injury derailed his progress in training camp and, out of shape to begin the season, he missed the first 16 shots of his pro career. The end result was one of the worst ever rookie seasons by a No. 1 overall pick. Plagued by a series of ailments again in year two, he was only moderately better with the Wolves last season. Understandably, he had a hard time hiding his frustration.

“I saw him play a little bit,” said Jay Triano, head coach of the Canadian senior men’s team and assistant with the Portland Trail Blazers. “Whether there were injuries or not getting a chance in the NBA, he was always grumpy and never smiling. And I remember him as a guy who was vocal, smiling, having fun playing the game.”

Free from the pressure and scrutiny that had consumed him as a young player in the NBA, Bennett has resembled his old self with the national team this summer.

Making his debut with the senior club at the Pan American games last month, where Canada won silver, Bennett averaged 15.6 points and a tournament-high 9.4 rebounds. He was also a standout starting for a much deeper team in their tuneup games this past week, running the floor with purpose and playing above the rim in San Juan.

The smile has returned – you’ll rarely catch him without it. He’s healthy, he’s slimmed down considerably and he has that bounce in his step again.

“It feels great,” Bennett told TSN in a sit-down interview earlier this month. “My body feels great. I feel like I’m 100 per cent right now. Just getting out and running like I did at UNLV.”

“It looks like he’s loving basketball again,” Triano added. “And I think that was the big thing for us. We try to make it fun for him, try to simplify it. He’s so talented in a variety of areas that we needed to just simplify what we expect of him. If he does that, the rest of it is gonna fall into place.”


No. 2: Suns players begin unofficial workouts, without Morris NBA training camps are still a few weeks from tipping off, but in Phoenix there are multiple Suns players already gathered in the Valley to begin workouts. One notable absence is Markieff Morris, the Suns’ terrific forward who has expressed his desire to be traded after the Suns traded his brother, Marcus. As Paul Coro writes in the Arizona Republic, the Suns may be hoping hard feelings have subsided by the time training camp officially tips off…

Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin, Brandon Knight, Alex Len, Jon Leuer, Ronnie Price, P.J. Tucker, T.J. Warren and Sonny Weems have been playing at US Airways Center since Monday.

There is no surprise that Markieff Morris is missing from that list, given his “Keef beef” with the franchise. His trade request fell on deaf ears. The other absent contract players, Tyson Chandler and Mirza Teletovic, are expected to join their new teammates in Phoenix over the next 10 days.

The early team chemistry sessions are important for a roster that will have at least six new players for the regular season. That does not include Brandon Knight, a key cog to this season’s plans after playing only 11 games last season with the Suns.

It would be ideal for Knight to spend September working with his starting power forward but a Morris early arrival is about as likely as a fulfillment of his trade wish.

The Suns need and want Morris. They would not stand much of a chance to replace him by trade. They would have no chance to replace him by free agency. They do not have an adequate existing roster option.

Reasonably, hard feelings should subside by the time he must report to Phoenix on Sept. 28. However, he was steaming six weeks after the trade when he went public to the Philadelphia Inquirer this month. Another six weeks might not help but being around his teammate friends again and meeting a respected frontcourt partner such as Chandler should help him recommit, even if Morris returns to being the quieter person he was before Marcus joined Phoenix.

Morris never planned to publicly lash out at the Suns, coincidentally running into a familiar reporter at a Philadelphia-area gym with small talk that became a stage for his discontent.

The expressed source of the twins’ anger was that Marcus was told he was traded while on vacation. The issues must extend beyond that because even superstars are rarely told of trades before they happen, although Markieff did call himself “the premier player of the team.”

The twins were miffed because they gave the Suns a contract extension break last year in hopes of staying together. Markieff’s salary still will jump from $3 million last season to $8 million this season. The unstated factor is that Marcus’ trade was made, in part, to clear salary-cap space for LaMarcus Aldridge, a free agency target who would have replaced Markieff. Marcus’ behavior last season, including yelling at coach Jeff Hornacek during a game, also played a role.

Markieff’s previous criticism of Suns fans only worsens his reputation but the start of a make-up process is only a sincere statement of regret and a few double-doubles away.

His teammates made the first statement to win over playoff-starved fans by committing themselves to workouts before other teams start congregating.


No. 3: The Warriors are winning Silicon Valley Plenty of NBA teams are based in their city without necessarily being an embedded part of their area’s business community. But the Golden State Warriors, based in the Bay Area, have managed to mix with Silicon Valley and become allies, in many ways, writes Nina Mandell for USA Today

The Lakers and the Knicks have movie stars on their sidelines. The Clippers and Mavericks have their celebrity owners. But when many of the Warriors players look around the front row at the Golden State Warriors games, many of the players see something else notable: Startup capital.

With their surge to a NBA title and guard who earned a regular season MVP award, a number of Warriors players have been involved in the Silicon Valley culture that their team attracts to games and will likely continue to bring in when they move to their new arena in San Francisco.

“You’ll see Larry Ellison, you’ll see Jack Dorsey, you’ll see Adam Bain,” said Harrison Barnes, listing off the names of the co-founder of Oracle and Twitter executives. “You’ll see all these guys courtside that they’re walking down the street people might not say ‘oh my god that’s so-and-so’ but if you know who they are and you know what they do, there’s obviously well-respected in their fields.”

Barnes works as a consultant at Facebook on the side when he’s not playing basketball. Andre Iguodala had a role in a startup that recently got acquired by eBay. And Stephen Curry partnered with CoachUp, a private coaching website and app matching service that its founder describes as the “Uber or AirBNB” of the private and semi-private sports coaching industry.

Curry said that he got involved with the Boston-based CoachUp because he thinks that private coaching was crucial to his success as a player, and likely would have done it without the Silicon Valley influence. Private coaching is something, he stressed, he really believes in. “I had a coach I worked with starting at the age of 13 in lieu of playing AAU basketball and traveling all over the country I stayed in Charlotte and to have the one-on-one experience … I benefited so much from it,” he said.

The service, which matches athletes with private coaches for everything from triathlon training for adults to soccer for kids, he hopes, will make that type of coaching more accessible for future generations, which is something he’d want to do whether he was in the tech capital of the world or not.

Jordan Fliegel, the co-founder of CoachUp said that there were a million reasons they partnered with Curry – after all he’s marketable on his own personality and what seems like a sincere dedication to the company. But playing in the Bay Area is helpful. “I think as we go, if we need introductions to various people, Stephen’s offered to help however he can,” Fliegel said. “He’s a huge part of our team.”

Curry is also involved in another company that’s “in the social media space that talks about athletes and fan engagement, especially on the professional level,” he said, that will hopefully be coming out in the next year. His agent, Jeff Austin, said that playing in the Bay Area definitely influenced the opportunities sent his way, even as a high-profile player.

“Interest has certainly been high from Silicon Valley start-ups and investors. We have evaluated various opportunities to see which match best with Stephen’s overall career plan and off the court passions,” he said. “It’s great that the team is located so close to the area, it gives these companies a chance to see the full impact Stephen and the Warriors have had on the community.”


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Boston Celtics have reportedly opened extension talks with Tyler Zeller and Jared SullingerBaron Davis is continuing his journey back to the NBA … The Clippers filled a bench spot by signing veteran big man Chuck Hayes …The Mavericks are reportedly “encouraged” by what they’ve seen from Deron Williams thus far …

NBA: Refs Blew Critical Call In Mavs-Blazers Game

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — All Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban asks for when it comes to NBA officiating is transparency. Well, he got it on Wednesday.

The league released a statement admitting that refs blew a crucial call in the final seconds of the Mavs’ 106-104 loss at Portland. Dallas guard O.J. Mayo was called for a charging foul that gave the ball back to the Trail Blazers with 1.5 seconds left. After a timeout, Portland inbounded the ball in the frontcourt and LaMarcus Aldridge made a game-winning, turnaround jumper.

Instead, the league said, Mayo should have been awarded two free throws with the game tied at 104-104.

“After review at the league office, the video replay confirmed the play should have been ruled a blocking foul as Portland’s Ronnie Price did not get his body directly in Mayo’s path prior to him starting his upward shooting motion,” the statement read. “Mayo should have been granted two free throws.”

The play in question started with 4.5 seconds left in the game. Mayo caught the inbounds pass along the baseline and made a quick move to the basket. As he leaped to the basket, Price slid across the lane, just outside the restricted area and the players collided.

“You really can’t [say] too much without getting a big fine,” Mayo told reporters after the team practiced in San Francisco on Wednesday in preparation for Thursday night’s game at Golden State.  “Can we play that 3.3 [seconds] over again?”

It was a critical loss for the Mavs, who started a four-game road trip at Portland as they desperately try to climb the Western Conference standings and get back in playoff contention. Dallas, which dropped to 19-26, led the Blazers by 21 points early in the third quarter before Portland began to chip away.

Dallas committed eight of its 16 turnovers in the fourth quarter and Mayo committed three in the period, including the offensive charge.

The league also acknowledged a blown call in Denver’s close win Sunday against Indiana, saying that video replay showed Nuggets guard Andre Iguodala reached in and fouled the Pacers’ Paul George with 2.2 seconds left in the game and the score tied. However, Iguodala was credited with a steal.

About Last Night: Hornets Stung

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Sorry New Orleans, we know you hate to turn on the lights at a party but that hot start wasn’t going to last forever.

It’s official, no one is going to run the table in the NBA this season.

The Dallas Mavericks made sure of that Monday night when they knocked off the Hornets at home with a late rally.

The Jazz saw their hot streak come to an end, on their home floor of all places, last night as well. But that’s what happens when you invite Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder to dinner after a long road trip. (more…)

The Heat’s Point Problem

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The CSI Miami crew is probably still combing AmericanAirlines Arena for clues that might explain how the Miami Heat had last night’s game against the Utah Jazz ripped away from them in overtime after leading by 22 points.

The most obvious suspect — Jazz big man Paul Millsap — is already gone, his 46-point explosion and the thrilling comeback win packed away safely for the rest of the road trip.

But after running the blue light over the box score of not only last night’s loss but the Heat’s two other defeats, it’s easy to identify the biggest problem. And it’s one we’ve been talking about since Miami’s Big 3 was formed. Who in the world is going to orchestrate things for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh? And who guards the opposing orchestrator?

This notion that either James or Wade can handle those duties and all you need is a warm body to put in the starting lineup at point guard is faulty logic, especially after watching Deron Williams shred the Heat the way he did last night (following the lead of fellow elite point guards Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul in their dismantling of the Heat in the only other losses Erik Spoelstra‘s team has incurred this season).

The math doesn’t match up either:

— In that season-opening loss to the Celtics, Rondo scored just four points and had two steals but controlled the game with his defense and 17 assists while Heat starter Carlos Arroyo managed just three points and didn’t have a single assist (compounded by 14 turnovers from James and Wade).

— When the Hornets ambushed the Heat over the weekend, Paul destroyed them with 13 points, 19 assists and five steals while Arroyo went scoreless and managed just one assist, with Wade and James putting together another double-digit (10) turnover performance.

— Williams abused them for 21 points and 14 assists last night before fouling out late in regulation, with Arroyo fighting back with 10 points and two assists while James (triple-double) and Wade (season-high 39 points) kept their turnovers to a minimum (just four), but the result was the same.

For those math-challenged members of our little club, that’s a healthy 38-13 scoring advantage for the opposing starter at point guard in those losses and a staggering 50-3 assist advantage for the opposing starter.

Williams and Millsap did the major damage against the Heat in the third quarter, combining for 26 of the 30 points the Jazz piled up as they outscored the Heat by four to get back into the game. Yet it was another point guard that made the play that helped clinch the game for the Jazz. Ronnie Price drove the lane in the final seconds and dished off to Francisco Elson, who was fouled by Wade and knocked down the two free throws that provided the winning margin.

It helps, even with a man neck-deep in the “zone” Millsap was in Tuesday night, to have a point guard simply initiate and help execute the offense sometimes.

We’re not pointing fingers at Arroyo specifically, though we’re sure someone will (even though he’s been put in a situation where he can’t win against the league’s very best point guards). We are, however, wagging a giant foam index finger at this notion that James or Wade can simply add those point guard duties to the phone book-thick list of things they have to do for this Heat team.

If you have a starting caliber point guard in this league, you must allow him to do the job, even on a team stacked with superstars like James and Wade. (See Rondo three years ago with the Celtics’ Big 3 for your best example of why it must be done this way.)

Spoelstra said there was a lesson to be learned from the way his team lost to the Jazz and they’ll respond to it. We’ll see Thursday night, when Rondo and the Celtics take their talents to South Beach and face the Heat on TNT.