Posts Tagged ‘Trevor Ariza’

Wizards Fall To 0-12 … And Counting

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Along the maddening trail to 0-12, there have been the gut-punches — three points combined in consecutive overtime losses to Charlotte (double OT) and at Atlanta, a near-22-point comeback at Dallas, four points at Indiana, OT at Boston and a three-point home loss to the Celtics.

Close was not the case Monday night at Verizon Center. The still-winless Washington Wizards, still without point guard John Wall, were run out of their own gym by the surging San Antonio Spurs, 118-92, the largest margin of defeat in an already defeated season.

Adding insult to injury, former Wizards big man Andray Blatche, who’s still pocketing $23 million from the franchise after being amnestied in July and eventually signed by Brooklynis taking cheap shots at his old team in the media and through his own brand of bastardized English on Twitter:

Such is the depressing life of the Wizards. Team president Ernie Grunfeld‘s dumping of high-priced Rashard Lewis for veterans Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor has been a disaster. The hailed return of Nene lasted two games before yet another departure to rest his problematic foot. In Nene’s limited floor time of 49 minutes, Washington is a plus-31, so the big fella can definitely help pound out a ‘W’ if he can stay on the court.

Still, Randy Wittman‘s bunch must now be viewed as a serious contender to crash the league record for consecutive losses to start a season. Just two seasons ago, the Wizards lost 25 consecutive road games to start the season, the third-longest such skid in NBA history. Last season they started 0-8.

Now they’re two-thirds to 0-18, the worst start ever by an NBA team and owned by the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets. The lockout-shortened 1999 Los Angeles Clippers and the 1988-89 expansion Miami Heat started 0-17. These Wizards are the 12th team in NBA history to start a season with 12 consecutive losses.

They’ll try to avoid a baker’s dozen at home Wednesday night against a smarting Portland team that dropped an ugly one at Detroit on Monday night.

How realistic is 0-18 or — gasp! — worse? Here’s their next six: vs. Portland, at New York, vs. Miami, at Atlanta, vs. Golden State, at New Orleans. Those six teams are a combined 49-34, and the worst of the lot, the Hornets (4-9), beat the Clippers in L.A. on Monday.

Then comes this hefty four-pack: at Houston, vs. Los Angeles Lakers, at Miami, vs. Atlanta.

Before the Wizards fell to 0-7 nearly two weeks ago following a 107-101 defeat at Dallas where they reversed a blowout, but couldn’t tie it up in the final minute, first-year Washington forward Martell Webster said he and his teammates, many of them new to the team as well, are determined to turn around the moribund franchise.

“Who else is going to do it?” Webster said. “It’s easy when things don’t go well to start blaming and start pointing fingers, but I don’t believe in that. When you think about it with your family, when you have problems you don’t point fingers, you work to resolve the problem as a family, as a unit, and I think that’s the most important thing. We’re a family, a unit and we’re not going to point fingers. We’re going to take accountability and responsibility for all of our individual actions, but at the end of the day we’re settling the problem ourselves.”

Still, there’s little doubt that as the losses mount so does the mental anguish.

Wall’s Frustration Intensifies As Still No Target Date For His Wizards Return

DALLAS – Washington Wizards point guard John Wall said Wednesday that he still doesn’t have a target date to join his teammates for the first time this season. He continues to rehab from a stress fracture in his right knee, a daily grind that  isn’t getting any easier with which to cope.

“Still tough and frustrating,” Wall said as he laced his sneakers to go put up some jump shots with assistant coach Sam Cassell prior to the Wizards’ game against the Dallas Mavericks.

The final days of November will mark the eight-week period that Wall was expected to miss after being diagnosed with the early stages of a non-traumatic stress injury in the knee just prior to the start of training camp. However, it’s apparent that Washington’s young potential star won’t make the deadline.

When the team is at home, Wall pushes through rehab and then does little else.

“Just lock myself in my house and listen to music,” he said.

Wall, as well as injured center Nene (who also has no timetable for a return from plantar fasciitis) travels with the team, sits in on film sessions and remains in close contact with coach Randy Wittman and his teammates, who are battling their own frustrations with six consecutive losses heading into Wednesday’s game.

“We talk, he’s with us all the time. That’s why we bring him with us, he and Nene,” Wittman said. “They’re around the team, they’re with us in all the meetings, we talk and I want them to talk to their teammates, as well, seeing what they’re seeing. It’s a different game sitting over there (on the bench) than when they’re out running up and down the floor, and they can be a help in that area.”

Wall, 22, would rather be running up and down the floor and getting his third season off the ground. For the first time in a long time, excitement was building heading into training camp. The roster had been overhauled. Gone are the knuckleheads and underachievers that not only made the Wizards hard to watch for so many years, but hard to root for, too.

They were replaced with veterans such as Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor, A.J. Price (a career backup in his fourth season charged with running the point in Wall’s absence) Martell Webster and promising rookie Bradley Beal, who is leading the team in scoring. There’s also improving big man Kevin Seraphin, who started to come on last season and is averaging 9.7 points and 3.8 rebounds.

The 6-foot-11 Nene and the play-making Wall would serve as huge additions.

Wittman, when asked if doctors have given him a target date for Wall’s return, pursed his lips, shook his head and said, “I don’t have one, unless you’ve got one.”

Wall and the Wizards have no choice but to wait, and hope to keep from digging into an irreversible hole.

“Yeah, it’s tough, but nobody’s making any excuses,” said Wall, who averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 assists in his first two seasons. “We think we’ve got enough talent on this team to go out there and play with what we have. We just haven’t closed out games. We’ve been in a lot of games, we just haven’t closed them out. We believe in our teammates, some guys are injured, some guys are not, but it’s a great opportunity for other guys to step up and prove themselves.”

Wiz Step Lightly On Nene’s Sore Foot

 

Things are going well for the Washington Wizards. John Wall is a year older.

And wait, there’s more: General manager Ernie Grunfeld’s over emphasis on youth has been tempered by the arrival of veterans such as Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okefor and (equally important) the exit of the talented but immature Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Nick Young.

Bradley Beal, the No. 3 pick in the draft, is on board. And so is Randy Wittman, the head coach who earned an extension by going 18-31, including 8-2 over the last three weeks of 2011-12. If nothing else, firing Flip Saunders in January stripped away one more layer of Kevlar from Grunfeld, whose longevity in the nation’s capital almost cries out for term limits.

But -– you knew a “but” was coming, or at least a “however” — the optimism of a productive summer and a clean autumn slate got cut a little Tuesday when Grunfeld said that center/power forward Nene’s plantar fasciitis would limit him in training camp next week. (more…)

Wizards Leaning Toward Using Amnesty Clause On Blatche

The Washington Wizards are leaning toward using the amnesty provision by Tuesday’s deadline to waive forward Andray Blatche, according to league sources.

The Wizards have not made a final decision on the move. Teams have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to decide whether they’ll use the amnesty provision for the upcoming season. If they don’t, they cannot use it again until next July. Teams are only allowed to use the provision once during the life of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Players that are waived under the provision can be claimed by teams under the salary cap for the upcoming season. The team that submits the highest bid gets the player. If Blatche were to be waived, teams would have to submit a minimum bid of $3.79 million for him — which represents the sum of the minimum salaries a player with Blatche’s experience would receive over the next three years, the remaining length of his contract.

Washington is still wavering on whether using the amnesty provision — and writing Blatche a check for the remaining $23 million on his contract. The Wizards have been trying to deal Blatche since the end of the season, but haven’t found any deals to their liking.

They could also keep Blatche on the roster but keep him away from the team while they continue to pursue trades or, perhaps, a contract buyout, in the same way the Indiana Pacers kept guard Jamaal Tinsley at arm’s length for a year before finally reaching a settlement on his contract.

(more…)

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…)

Wizards Poised To Make A Splash?





MIAMI – The Washington Wizards have been down this road before, making moves as the draft approaches and preparing themselves for what could be, if everything falls into place.

Their ongoing real franchise makeover that began at the trade deadline with the addition of Nene for JaVale McGee was followed up with this afternoon’s announcement that the Wizards have acquired Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza from the New Orleans Hornets for Rashard Lewis and the No. 46 pick in next week’s draft.

“We are pleased to add two more solid pieces as we continue to build our roster with a balance of proven veterans and the core of young talent that we have developed,” Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement released by the team. “Emeka’s defensive presence and rebounding ability will combine with Trevor’s versatility to add new dimensions to our frontcourt, and both players fit in very well with the type of team-first culture that we have been working to establish.”

The Wizards get two starters to flank John Wall and Nene from the Hornets in exchange for Lewis and the cap flexibility he will bring. Lewis can be bought out for $13.7 million by the June 30 deadline, which is roughly half of the nearly $23 million he is owed next season. The Hornets have not indicated what direction they plan to go with Lewis, but his expiring deal will give them some room to work with in free agency sooner or later.

(more…)

Now The Hornets Start Over

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU – The Chris Paul trade has been made and now, we can move on to focusing on basketball (at least until the Dwight Howard rumors start flying again).

The Hornets got a pretty good haul for Paul, acquiring Al-Farouq Aminu, Erick Gordon, Chris Kaman, and the coveted (and unprotected) Timberwolves 2012 first-round pick.

John DeShazier of The Times-Picayune gives his take from New Orleans

So while there’s relief that the Hornets removed the cloud that has been the Paul Stall, and joy that the NBA office might now go back to doing whatever it is that it does that doesn’t involve scratching its itch to be a general manager, the desire to backflip over this deal hasn’t yet bubbled to the top.

Yes, there’s “potential” involved, and plenty of it. The Hornets could be younger, more athletic and more dynamic, and the future could be bright enough to light the New Orleans Arena for years.

But tell me: When was the last time that potential paid the freight?

In other words, to take a step back only is palatable if the ensuing steps forward are delectable, and we have no idea if they will be.

That’s the truth. The Hornets’ hands were tied because of Paul’s impending free agency and unless they hit the jackpot with that Minny pick, they’re not getting back a star near his caliber.

(more…)

StatsCube: The West Effect

As we await word on David West‘s MRI results, we fear the worst. A torn ligament would end West’s season and make the Hornets short-handed as they look to clinch a playoff spot in the final 2 1/2 weeks of the season.

According to NBA.com StatsCube, the Hornets have been a better offensive team with West on the floor and a better defensive team with him on the bench.

Hornets efficiency, 2010-11

West on/off MIN Pace Off. Eff. Def. Eff. Diff.
West on floor 2450 90.6 105.7 102.4 +3.3
West off floor 1034 92.3 99.3 98.9 +0.3

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
Off. Eff. = Points scored per 100 possessions
Def. Eff. = Points allowed per 100 possessions

The defensive numbers are somewhat encouraging, but we have to remember that, when West is on the bench, the Hornets are likely defending against second units that are weaker offensively.

Obviously, the trade the Hornets made at the deadline looks more important now. Marcus Thornton may be putting up big numbers in Sacramento, but Carl Landry makes for a somewhat suitable replacement at power forward with West out.

Landry’s numbers with the Hornets compare pretty well with West’s numbers for the season…

(more…)

Trade Rumors, Vol. II


More rumblings on trade rumors from around the league …

WARRIORS AND NETS TALKING

The Golden State Warriors and New Jersey Nets are discussing a potential trade that would send disgruntled Nets forward Troy Murphy and a second-round draft pick to the Warriors in exchange for center Dan Gadzuric and forward Brandan Wright, according to league sources. But the deal has not yet been agreed to, according to sources involved in the talks.

The Nets have been committed to moving Murphy for weeks, after he fell out of favor with Coach Avery Johnson. Murphy has been home since early January, having played in just 18 games this season for New Jersey, averaging 3.6 points. But the 30-year-old Murphy has long been considered one of the league’s best rebounders and would be a good fit for a playoff team’s rotation. There has been speculation that Murphy will be bought out by whatever team trades for him, given that he’s on an expiring contract ($11.9 million this season), and would then sign with a contending team before the March 1 playoff roster deadline.

One source involved in the discussions cautioned that the potential trade was at best “50-50,” but confirmed the teams were talking, as has been rumored for a couple of weeks. Yahoo! Sports reported the trade was close to being done Tuesday.

The Nets acquired Murphy last August from Indiana as part of a four-team deal that sent guard Darren Collison from New Orleans to Indiana, along with swingman James Posey, with forward Trevor Ariza going from Houston to New Orleans and Houston getting guard Courtney Lee from New Jersey.

The 23-year-old Wright was a first-round pick in 2007 but has been slowed by injuries during his years with the Warriors, appearing in just 98 career games in almost four full seasons. Golden State acquired Gadzuric and guard Charlie Bell from Milwaukee last summer in a trade for forward Corey Maggette.


All The Right Moves

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For the longest time, going all the way back to middle of summer, we weren’t sure what it was Chris Paul was looking for.

We heard the rumors. Then we heard from him, dispelling the rumors. And then came the sit down meeting with the Hornets’ brass and word that everything was good.

But we still had no idea what it was CP3 wanted.

Then the season started and everything cleared up. The Hornets rolled to the best start in the league and went about their business like the summer and all the drama had never happened.

We see it now. Chris Paul wants his crown back, the one Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash, Derrick Rose and several others have tried on in his absence from the throne as the NBA’s top point guard.

Even better, Paul is going about getting it back the ol’ fashioned way, he’s going to earn it back. It always helps when the organization has your back. And the Hornets are making all the right moves these days.

Their weekend trade — Toronto sent Jarrett Jack, David Andersen and Marcus Banks to New Orleans for Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless — is just the latest master stroke of new GM Dell Demps, who knows a thing or two about building a winner after working in San Antonio prior to taking over the Hornets in the summer.

(The Nuggets might want to take notes or at least call Demps for some pointers, what with Carmelo Anthony‘s name being mentioned more prominently than Paul’s in nearly every trade rumors since draft night.)

The message the Hornets are sending is as simple as it is impressive. If you want to keep your superstar happy and in the fold, don’t just talk about it, act like it!

The Hornets have not only reshaped the roster and shown Paul that they can put the winning pieces around him, they’ve also slid out from under the looming guillotine of the luxury tax, proving that you can be proactive and tax-minded at the same time (while retaining just enough usable assets to make more moves, if need be, in the coming months).

Think about all the work the Hornets have done since summer, all of the new faces that have been added and all of the dead weight tossed overboard. It’s a rather remarkable makeover on the go when you sit back and admire the changes. And they’ve used a splendid mix of old and new to run off this 11-1 start, which is a product of the approach of coach Monty Williams (the defensive-minded Hornets have allowed just one opponent to score 100 point so far).

David West and Emeka Okafor are playing fantastic basketball right now, as the top-flight recipients of Paul’s assists tend to do. But raise your hand if you knew where Marco Belinelli‘s played this time a year ago. Trevor Ariza, Willie Green and Jason Smith are all doing their part. And the additions of Jack and Andersen give the Hornets some much-needed depth.

With Jack in the backcourt rotation, he can play both spots, ensures that Paul’s minutes can be managed throughout the course of the season and the Hornets can continue their feel good story for the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, it might be time for someone to get Paul his crown back!