Posts Tagged ‘Sun Sentinel’

The 2013-14 Hang Time Redeem Team





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – No one needs reminding of the importance of the 2013-14 NBA season for superstars like Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook and others who are battling their way back from injuries that sidelined them for all or part of last season.

We watch their every move anyway, so when those stars do return, it’ll be an all-eyes-on-them proposition for certain. But for others, guys who have languished in the shadows the past couple of seasons for one reason or another, this season presents an opportunity for redemption as well.

Opportunity abounds for another group of players who comprise Hang Time’s Redeem Team this season, guys who need to leave a mark on 2013-14 in the worst way. Now is the time for these veterans to reclaim their positions in the league, to either resurrect or flat-out save their careers:

Eric Gordon, New Orleans Pelicans

Now that he’s been cleared to crank up his conditioning and do whatever it takes to get into game shape, Gordon is potentially on the road back to the budding young star we saw during his third season in the league with the Los Angeles Clippers (when Gordon averaged 22.2 points and 4.4 assists in 56 games). The injury issues will follow him until he puts together a couple of seasons where he plays as close to 82 regular-season games as possible. But the game moves on without once promising young stars all the time. And Gordon is in the danger zone at this stage of his career. He’s on a team loaded with young talent (All-Star Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Austin Rivers) at the same position. He’s in a now-or-probably-not-here predicament, given his salary and the circumstances.

Greg Oden, Miami Heat

The fact that Oden has come this far in his comeback bid is a victory of sorts for the former No. 1 pick, whose arrival in the league had fans in Portland dreaming of contending for championships one day with a player who promised to be one of the best big men of his generation. Oden has the luxury of not having to rush back for a Heat team that has managed just fine without him the past three seasons. His is more of a personal pilgrimage from being completely out of the league to having a chance to contribute on a team aiming for a three-peat. “My main goal is to be back on the court playing,” Oden told the Sun Sentinel. “But every little thing is just a little step closer to what I want to do. In my head, I’m smiling. I’m back in the routine I’m back out here working out in front of fans.” Whatever the Heat squeeze out of Oden, who is one one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, is a bonus for all involved.

Andrew Bynum, Cleveland Cavaliers

No player on this list has more to gain from a big 2013-14 season than Bynum, who just a couple of seasons ago served the other big man in the argument about who would serve as the challenger to Dwight Howard as the best in the business. Bynum’s stock fell so hard and so fast last season in Philadelphia, when he watched a disastrous season unfold from the sidelines after the Sixers scrapped a playoff team to acquire him and build around him for the future. The Cavs have other issues, obviously, mainly finding out what they have in the No. 1 pick in the June Draft, Anthony Bennett, who has shown some positive flashes in the preseason. Perhaps the greatest motivation for Bynum this seasons will come from another No. 1 pick, Kyrie Irving, who has designs on rising up the ranks this season himself.

Al Harrington, Washington Wizards

Maybe you’ve forgotten just how valuable a piece Harrington has been to playoff outfits throughout his career. He did it in Indiana, Golden State and Denver and the Wizards are hoping he can use some of the lessons he’s learned the past 15 seasons to help John  Wall, Bradley Beal and the rest of an up and coming crew move into the playoff mix. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has mentioned Harrington repeatedly as not only a player who will counted on to provide veteran leadership but also a symbolic figure, a vet with an eye toward reclaiming his career and doing it in a place (Washington) that others view as a team and franchise on the rise. With a fleet of young bigs working hard to get better and injury issues (namely Emeka Okafor), having a stretch-4 with Harrington’s versatility and history will be crucial for the Wizards early on this season.

Andrea Bargnani, New York Knicks

The marriage between this former No. 1 pick (the third player of such ilk on this list) and the city of Toronto broke down early on and was beyond repair by the time the Knicks traded for him over the summer. This second honeymoon in New York won’t obviously won’t last seven years. The Knicks need Bargnani to find his niche now and be a factor on a team with playoff expectations he never experienced with the Raptors. Bargnani’s teammates recognize his skill set and Knicks coach Mike Woodson knows that he has to find ways to exploit Bargnani’s strengths and hide his weaknesses. With his shot and size, and the constantly increasing value for floor spacers in today’s game, Bargnani will surely get several more shots if things don’t work out with the Knicks. But if he’s ready to stop being a punch line, he needs to pounce on the opportunity staring him in the face right now.


Bosh States The Obvious: It’s Three-Peat Or Bust For Heat This Season

.

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – It took a little while, but heading into the fourth year of one of the greatest experiments in NBA history has given Chris Bosh a certain perspective on things.

Temporary stress produced instant overreactions that, in the long run, simply did not matter. The Heat either failed (as they did in their first season together in The Finals against the Dallas Mavericks) or triumphed (as they did in The Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, respectively) on the big stage in each of the past two seasons.

The Heat center understands the bottom line for Miami’s Big 3 remains the same for the 2013-14 season. It was championships or bust from the start and it will be that way to the finish.

If Bosh and fellow Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade cannot find a way to persevere this season and win a third straight Larry O’Brien trophy, the future takes a decidedly different shape than it will if they succeed.

Free agency looms either way and structural changes would surely be a part of the next phase for the Heat if they don’t find their way to the championship parade route come season’s end. That gives this season with the “SuperFriends” an edge it lacked previously, mostly because no one would abandon the master plan that early in the process.

The pressures facing the Heat this season are as daunting as ever, as Bosh told Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel, but much more manageable now than they were years ago:

“I couldn’t believe it,” Bosh said Wednesday, speaking after the filming of a commercial for the Henry Warren Auto Group at Turnberry Isle Country Club. “I was like, `Man it’s been four years already? But we’re professionals. We know it comes with the job. We can’t do anything about it. We just have to make sure we take care of our business, stay together and just really answer the call to adversity when it comes.”

That business consists of completing another championship run. The Heat are attempting to become the first team to win three consecutive titles since the Los Angles Lakers did from 2000-02. Only five teams have accomplished the feat in league history.

For the Heat it’s more about keeping the core of their team in tact. Making history is just an added bonus.

“Everybody wants to know what we’re going to do (after the season),” Bosh said. “Yeah, I get it. Everything depends on this season. If we win, cool. If we lose, that’s when it’s like `What if?’”

Bosh said he is better equipped to handle the attention than the last time he was in the situation. He was a free agent with the Toronto Raptors after 2010 season before joining the Heat. He said the key is keeping focus on the current season.

“You think about it but I’m mature enough to know that if I really start to think about it, I’m going to start playing bad,” Bosh said. “Things aren’t going to go right. I’m just going to enjoy today. I’m looking forward to having a big year this year. That’s all I think about. In Toronto, it kind of messed me up. I was thinking, `What is going to happen [in the offseason]? I started struggling and then I snapped back into basketball.”

The guessing game on the Heat’s future ends with a third straight title.

It would be tough for any executive to pull the plug on a dynasty like that, even someone with the credentials of Hall of Fame Heat boss Pat Riley. The core of James, Bosh and Wade would still be viable for at least the next four of five seasons (with Wade being the only legitimate question mark).

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is going to be among the league’s best for years to come either way. And Miami will remain an enticing spot for free agents, so long as Riley is there to woo them.

The player component obviously hinges on James, first and foremost, making the decision to stick around. The futures for Bosh, Wade and the rest of the Heat’s rotation players depends on James’ choice, as well. This isn’t breaking news in South Florida, where fans have to be a little restless thinking about the future, or anywhere else in the NBA universe.

The fact that Bosh is as clear-headed as he is about this in advance of training camp speaks to the complete understanding of the journey he and his teammates have traveled thus far.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 109) Featuring Isiah Thomas and Ira Winderman

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – How long does is take to get over the dreaded agony of defeat, that one shining moment that goes horribly wrong for college basketball stars who have dreamed of conquering the March Madness spotlight all their lives?

For some, a lifetime. For others, namely a certain North Carolina Tar Heel alum (Rick Fox), it took nine years, to be exact. And still for the select few, they never have to worry about it because they captured that moment in college and again in the NBA, leading to a lifetime spent reliving those magical moments every time the NCAA Tournament or The NBA Finals come around.

That’s the life NBA TV’s Isiah Thomas has known, as a champion in college at Indiana and twice in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons of Bad Boys fame, and now a Hall of Famer.

He joins us on Episode 109 of the Hang Time Podcast to discuss his journey from Chicago schoolboy star to All-American college star and how he handled that transformation, and plenty more.

One thing Thomas never did in his storied career was win 23 straight games, a feat the Miami Heat have accomplished and will try to continue to build on in Cleveland later tonight. Longtime Heat beat writer Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel drops in as well to share his observations and thoughts on the Heat’s monster streak and all things Heat.

Check out all of that and more on Episode 109 f the Hang Time Podcast.

LISTEN HERE:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Wade Working To Fix His Shot

 

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The difference between winning a title and being a champion is what you do in between opportunities to win another one.

No one will argue that Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade belongs in the realm of champions. A two-time NBA champion, Wade has spent his summer recuperating from injury, promoting his new book and as always, tinkering with the finer points of his game.

That a player with arguably the most devastating mid-range game of his generation has been hard at work this summer refining that shot should surprise no one. The fact that Wade was hunting for a shooting coach this summer, though, did raise a few eyebrows … and inspire a few phone calls from prospective coaches eager to work with one of the world’s best.

But as Wade explained to Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel, he needed more than just a shooting coach:

In the wake of a season where he felt his jumper got away from him, Wade said upon further review it was not as much about how he was shooting the ball as how he was going through that motion.

Now, with training camp three weeks away, he believes he has a grasp on the situation.

“I have one of the best mid-range shots in the league,” he said. “But, obviously, when you have different injuries, it makes you change a little bit. So it’s just about getting back to that comfort of it and finding out where you are now.

“My midrange game is very important to me. The biggest thing is coming out of my pull-up without losing the ball and just making sure it comes through my hand the right way. When it comes to my shot exactly, I don’t have a bad shot. There’s other reasons why I come up short a lot. So it’s just trying to work the kinks out.”

(more…)

Lingering Issues For The Heat?

 

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The championship after party for the Dallas Mavericks was extended by five months courtesy of the lockout, an extension that the Mavericks would never blame for their struggles last season but one that most honest observers would no doubt finger as a factor in their early season struggles.

The Miami Heat, on the other hand, will experience no such thing. In fact, they’ll have what longtime Heat beat writer and observer Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel coined the “shortest offseason in the Heat’s 25 seasons of existence.” And with that compressed offseason comes a few lingering issues that could impact the reigning champs, in more ways that one.

The first two he mentions are enough to cause a little bit of concern for even the most optimistic of Heat fans:

1. The two remaining roster spots.

The 13 players already under contract for 2012-13 are LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller,Norris Cole, Joel Anthony James Jones and Dexter Pittman.

Rounding out the regular-season roster could be as simple as bringing back two of the players who spent time with the team last season and currently are working out with the team, a pool that includes guard Terrel Harris, center Mickell Gladness and forward Juwan Howard.

The Heat also have attracted the interest of free-agent centers Chris Andersen and Darko Milicic, and could provide a landing spot for free-agent Andray Blatche, who is looking to revive his career.

(more…)

Heat Look In Mirror, Not At Mavericks





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Normally, we’d spend this time before tonight’s Mavericks-Heat game reflecting on the hand-to-hand combat the teams waged in The Finals last year and all of the tactical drama that could go on in this much-anticipated rematch.

But instead of reflecting, we’re left to examine the drama surrounding the slumping Heat and particularly wounded star LeBron James. A team loses two straight games by a combined 31 points and its catalyst is struggling with a busted finger, aching elbow and that soreness in his neck.

As crazy as it sounds, the Heat are in a position where they have to prove to their legions of doubters (haters or whatever else you want to call them) that they are tougher than it appears. They have to prove they can bounce back from adversity and from this mini-tailspin that has folks wondering if this is a momentary slip or something more significant.

Miami and Dallas are each 6-4 in its last 10 games, but the Mavericks come into tonight’s showdown in Miami (8 p.m. ET, TNT) having won two straight games and free from the over-the-top scrutiny that accompanies the Heat’s every move.

(more…)

Waiting On The Magic Words

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Faced with the latest drop-dead date to save the on-time start to the regular season, we’ve arrived here to this afternoon’s scheduled meeting between the league and players’ union in New York.

Can they beat the deadline?

Can they save the season?

Will cool heads prevail?

Can we finally get back to basketball?

Only time will tell. And based on Sunday night’s “last-ditch” meeting that lasted nearly six hours, time is a fluid term during these labor negotiations.

But there is a growing sense among most of the people observing these proceedings that it might only be a matter of time before someone utters those magic words (“we have a deal”). And the basketball loving public surely won’t haggle over where it comes from, be it NBA Commissioner David Stern or union executive director Billy Hunter.

After all, during the last lockout there was just one meeting between the two sides before regular season games were canceled. This afternoon’s session will mark the sixth meeting in the past 11 days between the two sides …

Hold That Apocalypse

Mark Heisler of Sheridanhoops.com: After two years of bellicose posturing, the last weeks of September and the first few days of October would show who was serious.

Not only was that true, Stern wound up extending his drop-dead date for opening on time to Oct. 10.

Overheated as this thing has been, with owners who sensed their last great opportunity threatening to burn their village to save it, the last three weeks saw the parties whittle their “irreconcilable” differences down to three percentage points.

(more…)

Expanding The Cast In Miami

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Who needs a reality show when the Miami Heat provide us with so much of their own original content anyway?

It’s not LeBron James this time, though, who plays the star in this drama.

Dwyane Wade gets top billing in this funny but sort of strange one-man act, courtesy of Matt Moore at ProBasketballTalk.com, with a message to the villain that hacked his Twitter account.

After watching Wade frown and scowl his way through the end of the season in The Finals, and with good reason, it is nice to see him laughing and smiling again.

As for that reality show … if it’s anything like the three minutes of hilarious energy displayed in his viral ode to the hackers of the world, we’re buying.

In addition to Wade and James, the Heat could add reality show veteran Eddy Curry to the cast as well, — he starred in the highly underrated “PREPS: Chicago Hoops” back in 2001 alongside Pistons guard Will Bynum, former Duke point guard Sean Dockery and others.

According to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, the former Bulls, Knicks and Timberwolves center has been auditioning for the Heat in recent days in hopes of joining the Big 3 for next season’s run at the title: