Posts Tagged ‘Tyler Hansbrough’

Hot List: Top 10 Restricted Free Agents

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Unlike their unrestricted free agent peers, this summer won’t be the fresh start some of this summer’s most notable restricted free agents are hoping for.

Their current teams have the right to match any offers they receive, meaning that the lucrative, long-term deal some of these guys are looking for might come with strings attached. Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks plays a marquee position in a market that doesn’t seem to fit his persona or personality.

He turned down a $40 million extension in the fall, making clear his intention to push for a bigger deal or an eventual departure — he could play the 2013-14 season on a qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2014 — from Fear The Deer territory.

As always, Jennings isn’t the only restricted free agent of note this summer. The full list of them can be found on our handy-dandy Free Agent Tracker.

Jennings is the headliner on the Top 10 Restricted Free Agents list, but hardly the only notable name …

Brandon Jennings, G, Milwaukee Bucks

Status on July 1: Restricted free agent
What he’s selling: A first-team All-Rookie pick in 2010, Jennings solidified his credentials as a starting point guard in four seasons with the Bucks. He started 289 of the 291 games he played in and helped guide the Bucks to the playoff twice in his first four seasons. A big time scorer, Jennings has the charisma and personality to help you win games and sell tickets.
What he’s not saying: He’s still barely 170 pounds soaking wet. There are still some front office types who think he’s more of a poor man’s Allen Iverson instead of the young Mike Conley they hoped he might be at this stage of his career.
What he’s worth: Jennings believes he’s worth every penny of a max deal somewhere. Remember, he famously boasted that he was better than Ricky Rubio and has gone about the business of trying to prove as much night in and night out. But a max deal is out of the question in Milwaukee and probably anywhere else. The Bucks aren’t going to bid against themselves for a player who has made it clear that he is interested in playing in a bigger market. He’s already turned down a four-year offer with $40 million, making it clear that he intends to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and let the market set his value.
Likely landing spot(s): The Bucks have the right to match any offers. Any interested teams know that all they have to do is wait this situation out and pursue Jennings in the free-agent summer of 2014.

Jeff Teague, G, Atlanta Hawks

Status on July 1: Restricted free agent
What he’s selling: Teague is coming off of his best season as a pro, having averaged career highs in points (14.6) and assists (7.2) while asserting himself as a true lead guard for a playoff team. He’s only scratched the surface of his potential and, at 24, is still young enough to project major upside in the coming years.
What he’s not saying: Teague is not a great defender at what is easily the deepest position in the league. And his assist numbers (3.0) in 29 career playoff games suggest that he might not be on track to become the elite facilitator a team needs in a point guard.
What he’s worth: The Hawks didn’t do him any favors by not even offering him an extension on his rookie contract before the Halloween deadline. Making that pill even tougher to swallow for Teague is the fact that the two point guards drafted directly ahead of him in 2009, Philadelphia’s Jrue Holiday ($10 million a year) and Ty Lawson ($12 million a year), both agreed to terms on four-year deals at the deadline. If they’ve set the bar — Holiday blossomed into an All-Star this season while Lawson had an equally strong case but missed out in a deep crop of Western Conference point guards — Teague is in a tough negotiating spot with the Hawks.
Likely landing spot(s): Teague needs a team desperate for a young point guard to present an offer sheet that exceeds what the Hawks might be willing to pay (anything near $10 million a year would be a bit of a shock). Utah is still searching for a long-term answer at point guard and could poke around and see if the Hawks will let Teague walk. But the Hawks are likely to keep him on a qualifying offer and he’ll become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Tyreke Evans, G, Sacramento Kings

Status on July 1: Restricted free agent
What he’s selling: A Rookie of the Year and at one time considered the future face of the franchise in Sacramento, Evans averaged 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in his first season. A super-sized point guard, he used his size and skill to his advantage in that role with the Kings. He’s most definitely selling the Tyreke Evans we all saw his rookie season.
What he’s not saying: While he didn’t experience the steep statistical drop off in his next three seasons, Evans is fighting the perception that he bottomed out during those three seasons. The Kings certainly seem to have moved on from Evans being a franchise cornerstone during these past three seasons, hence the absence of an extension offer. Isaiah Thomas supplanted him at point guard and Evans has played out of position ever since.
What he’s worth: This is where things get tricky for Evans, because some team with cap space to work with is going to eyeball Evans and remember that he’s a 6-foot-6, 220-pound combo guard with an ability to run a team and calculate the risk of snatching him away from an uncertain situation with the Kings. If Darko Milicic got $20 million from the Minnesota Timberwolves, someone has to be willing to offer Evans a similar deal.
Likely landing spot(s): Dallas and Atlanta are both in full-blown roster-rebuild mode and could use a talent like Evans at a reasonable price to help get things rolling. He could be the steal of the summer if someone makes a play for him and waits to see if the Kings will match the offer or let him walk.

Nikola Pekovic, C, Minnesota Timberwolves

Status on July 1: Restricted free agent
What he’s selling: With the eternal premium on productive big men, Pekovic showed flashes of being an absolute nightmare in the low post for opposing teams. A 7-foot, 300-pound block of granite, Pekovic averaged 16.3 ppg and 8.8 rpg last season and held it down in the Timberwolves’ frontcourt without Kevin Love available for the majority of the season. He’s got a size/skill-set combination that makes him a rarity in a league that treasures big men who can play high impact basketball on both ends of the floor.
What he’s not saying: The only problem with Pekovic is the 174-game sample size teams have to work with in evaluating the upside of a big man who is 26 and perhaps already deeper into his physical prime than you want a third-year player to be.
What he’s worth: The Houston Rockets used a three-year, $25 million offer sheet to pry Omer Asik away from the Chicago Bulls last summer. An offer like that could work similar wonders for someone trying to slip into the Twin Cities and sneak out with a starting center.
Likely landing spot(s): Minnesota can’t afford to let him walk, not with the regime change and whatever other roster changes Flip Saunders and his new crew have in store. Plus, Pekovic has become a cult favorite in Minneapolis.

Tiago Splitter, F/C, San Antonio Spurs

Status on July 1: Restricted free agent.
What he’s selling: A three-year apprenticeship under the great Tim Duncan can’t be a bad place for a big man to start when resume building. Splitter’s third NBA season turned out to be the charm, as he finally showed some signs of being the low-post factor he was billed as when the Spurs made him their top Draft pick in 2007. The Brazilian big man finally earned a regular spot in Gregg Popovich‘s rotation, another sign and seal of approval, averaging career highs in points (10.3), rebounds (6.4) and minutes (24.7). He made 58 starts this season, 52 more than he did in the two previous season combined.
What he’s not saying: Those previous two seasons mentioned were less than stellar. Splitter has ideal size for a NBA big man but didn’t leave a large footprint early on, the transition from Spanish League MVP to NBA regular being much tougher than anyone anticipated for him.
What he’s worth: Like almost every skilled big man, Splitter is going to be worth more than a man half his size with better credentials. That’s just the way things work in this league. He’s due for a significant raise from the $3.9 million he’s earning this season. In fact, he should have no trouble doubling that in a free agent market (for unrestricted and restricted free agents) that is relatively light on centers.
Likely landing spots: The Spurs have the right of first refusal and will exercise that right if the offers come in at the right number. But Dallas and Atlanta have to have him on their short lists, with several other teams focusing in on him early on in the process.

THE NEXT FIVE: Gerald Henderson, Charlotte; Darren Collison, Dallas; Timofey Mozgov, Denver; Tyler Hansbrough, Indiana; Chase Budinger, Minnesota.

Playoff Losses To Heat Shape Vogel, Pacers’ Plans For Prosperity


HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — The Indiana Pacers found themselves in the peculiar position of rooting for the Miami Heat last week. Not because they were trying to butter-up the beasts of the East as they went for consecutive win No. 28 at Chicago, but because their disdain for their Central Division rival runs that much deeper.

Still, the Pacers, as with as the rest of the free world, know the road to the Eastern Conference championship goes through Miami. Last May, Indiana held a 2-1 series lead over the eventual NBA champs before it all unraveled in a six-game, East semifinal defeat.

Approaching a year later, the Pacers are a bit older and wiser. They believe, even with Danny Granger officially ruled out for the season, that they’re big enough, deep enough, physical enough and more explosive offensively — and even tougher defensively — than last season’s version to match up with the Heat in a potential East finals.

“We feel like we can compete with anybody if we’re playing defense and we’re making sharp, sound decisions on the offensive end,” forward David West said during the Pacers’ stop in Dallas last week. “Right now they’re [the Heat] the cream of the crop. They’re the champs and everybody else is just chasing them.”

Added All-Star Paul George: “The only thing that we’ll have to prove is how well we can play in the playoffs.”

Which is where being wiser could ultimately make the biggest difference. And it starts with coach Frank Vogel, who is in just his second full season as coach and whose 40th birthday doesn’t roll around until a few days after the NBA Finals in June.

Vogel said he walked away from last year’s Heat series having learned two key lessons that he’s implemented since training camp.

“No. 1 is we were one of the worst fouling teams in the league last year,” Vogel said. “And it probably cost us two games in that [Miami] series where we had two guys in foul trouble for key stretches.”

Let’s tackle this one before revealing key lesson No. 2. Indiana racked up the third-most fouls in the league last season, and in the six games against Miami it committed 147 infractions, 24.5 fouls per game, even more than its regular-season average.

The two “cost us” games Vogel referred to were Games 1 and 4, when the Pacers were called for a combined 59 fouls, or 40 percent of their six-game total. (more…)

Pacers’ Vogel Hits First Speedbumps


No one ever told Frank Vogel this NBA head coaching stuff would be easy. But he could have been forgiven had he started to think that way, given the arc of his first 22 months on the job.

Vogel landed the job on Jan. 30, 2011 when he took over for fired Jim O’Brien. He steered a team that had played 10 games under .500 to a 20-18 finish and a playoff berth, and that – coupled with the Pacers’ feistiness in their first-round series against Chicago – shook the “interim” tag loose from in front of his title.

Last season, Indiana won 16 of its first 22 games, chased the Bulls in the Central Division with a 42-24 mark and put a scare into the eventual champs from Miami by grabbing a 2-1 lead and homecourt advantage in the second round.

Everything seemed to be onward and upward again this season after the Pacers re-signed free agent center Roy Hibbert, committed to George Hill as starting point guard, brought back talent czar Donnie Walsh and added pieces they valued such as D.J. Augustin, Ian Mahinmi and Gerald Green.

What has followed, though, has been the first hiccup of the Vogel era. Indiana sputtered to a 3-6 start. At the season’s quarter pole, things have perked up somewhat, but 10-10 still is well below expectations. The Pacers hardly have seized control of the weak NBA Central.

“We’re trying to get a feel,” forward David West said the other night on a stop in Chicago. “We’re trying to pick up wins and put together complete games. We’re just going through the everyday ups-and-downs of the NBA season. Y’know we believe in what we have.”

The defense has been strong – Indiana ranks first in defensive field-goal percentage (40.9) and second in defensive rating (99.6) – but then, it has needed to be considering the Pacers’ offense. They are shooting just 41.5 percent with an offensive rating of 99.1 (both stats rank 28th). They’re not getting to the foul line much and turnovers have been a problem.

Yes, Indiana misses forward Danny Granger, its most potent scorer who is in the midst of a three-month layoff (left knee injury). And it has played 12 road games already, seven of its setbacks coming away from Indy.

But it’s been more than that. Augustin – averaging just 3.2 points and 2.4 assists – has been low impact, generating low confidence from Vogel or teammates and not nearly the dream backup imagined when the club jettisoned Darren Collison. The whole bench has been disappointing, as in the 92-89 loss to Denver Friday. The Pacers subs managed just 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists in nearly 71 combined minutes.

Tyler Hansbrough‘s scoring is down, beyond his dip in minutes. Ditto for Green, sputtering to play within Vogel’s system in ways he didn’t last season in his NBA return with the Nets. Mahinmi has been fine in relief of Hibbert, but Pacers fans bemoan the loss not just of Collison but of A.J. Price, with some lobbying for rookie Ben Hansbrough to get a shot at Augustin’s role.

Among the starters, West has been close to his former All-Star form, but Hibbert, Paul George and Lance Stephenson have been inconsistent.

Then there is Vogel, who has kept a calm about him but hasn’t been shy about changing up plenty during these doldrums. Defensively, he doesn’t ask Hibbert to show as much on pick and rolls, content to keep him as a paint factor. The Pacers have tried to pick up their pace, too, and to get away from iso plays for Hibbert, West or others; with Granger and his shooting out, defenses are more effective sagging or digging in such situations.

“Dramatic shift in philosophy,” Vogel called it. “A work in progress.”

The key for the Pacers is to keep seeing progress while, in themselves or in their head coach, not seeing too much stress. The education continues Sunday in Oklahoma City.

Tale Of The Tape For Game 6

INDIANAPOLIS — And the yapping contiues.

The Pacers and Heat will actually get around to deciding this East semifinal series on the court, but before Game 6 they threw verbal punches, the kind that don’t draw suspensions, which is what Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman received and Tyler Hansbrough didn’t.

“I mean, Hansbrough, it’s not the first time he’s gone after one of our players this year,” said LeBron James. “We have two guys suspended and basically they have no one suspended.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, citing the physical whacks on LeBron and Dwyane Wade, said: “The league does not have a problem with hard fouls on our two main guys. In nine games now (including regular season games with Indiana) there’s been over a dozen hard fouls to the face, some of the tomahawk variety, some have drawn blood. They don’t have a problem with it, so we don’t have a problem with it. We’ll focus on what we can control.”

Well, what Miami can control is its fate in this “wild wild West” series, to quote Danny Granger, with two chances to close out the Pacers. Putting aside the bad blood for a moment, both teams aren’t at full strength, Miami without Chris Bosh and Haslem, the Pacers hoping Granger will overcame a bum ankle suffered in Game 5.

For Game 6, anyway, given the injury/suspension issue, it’s a matter of everyone shutting up and certain players stepping up. Here are the candidates for the latter: (more…)

Haslem, Pittman Out For Game 6

INDIANAPOLISUdonis Haslem won’t be playing in Game 6 of the Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers playoff series Thursday night. Tyler Hansbrough will be. And Dexter Pittman … c’mon, does Dexter Pittman’s availability really matter?

The afternoon-after officiating of the flagrant-foul frenzy in Game 5 probably got it right: Haslem, Hansbrough and Pittman all had their flagrant-1 fouls upgraded to flagrant-2 violations, but Haslem (one game) and Pittman (three games) also were handed suspensions for striking the head and shoulders of their intended Indiana targets.

Haslem must sit out Game 6 without pay for his two-armed chop on Hansbrough, which came less than a minute after the Pacers forward put a hard foul on Miami’s Dwyane Wade. Wade got hit in the head and shoulders, too, but in the view of Stu Jackson, the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations, that was a foul that fit within the context of basketball. Who hasn’t seen Wade, after all, get up some acrobatic continuation shot that dropped after a defender fouled and let him go?

Haslem’s and Pittsman’s moves, in real time, in replays and in context, were retaliatory moves. That wasn’t included in the league’s news release on their suspensions, but it was evident to anyone in the building or watching the game. Haslem “had” Wade’s back and Pittman apparently decided to do for LeBron James what Juwan Howard had only yapped about. Lance Stephenson, remember, was the Pacers’ deep reserve who made a choke gesture courtside when James missed a free throw in Game 3.

The Heat won’t be happy about losing Haslem, who has given them value scoring, rebounding and toughness (most of it clean) off the bench in the past two games. Will it swing the series? Hard to say. But the NBA would have been remiss – and didn’t offer any explanation for why the game officials got their rulings wrong – if it had let the Heat’s two hammerings go without further punishment. Those veered into hockey, bordering on pro wrestling and had a distinctly dirty feel.

Remember, all Stephenson did was act stupid and disrespect James from afar. He didn’t get physical with anybody, yet wound up getting clotheslined across his collarbone by Pittman’s lunging elbow.

Expect a more buttoned-down Game 6, despite Larry Bird’s “soft” challenge to his Pacers in what might be their elimination. A couple of key transgressors won’t be active and the referee crew almost certainly will have quick whistles, lest things get uglier.

Bird Calls Pacers S-O-F-T!

HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — The Indiana Pacers left Miami nursing their wounds, both physical and emotional, after a second straight deflating loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

But they won’t get any sympathy at home, not from Pacers president Larry Bird, who made it clear late last night where he feels his team went wrong in this series.

Bird unleashed on his own team after the Heat unloaded on both Tyler Hansbrough and Lance Stephenson with a couple of wicked hard fouls from Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman, respectively, telling Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star:

“I can’t believe my team went soft,” Bird said on the phone. “S-O-F-T. I’m disappointed. I never thought it would happen.”

When asked to elaborate on those comments, an obviously frustrated Bird said, “That’s all I have to say.”

You had to know Bird was going to let loose on someone after watching his team get wobbled repeatedly in the last six quarters of this series. Bird and his Celtics never shied away from a challenge during his Hall of Fame playing career, so it’s no surprise that went off on his own team.


2009 Draft, Revisited


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — So, DeMarcus Cousins is involved in another snit? And this is news, how? Everyone knew Cousins was maturity-challenged when the 2010 draft arrived, and yet the Kings took him anyway because it’s hard to find 6-11 players with soft hands and decent footwork. They figured they’d just ride out the emotional bumps, which were sure to come, and hope he’ll figure it out before it’s time to extend his contract.

But while it might be fashionable today to dismiss Cousins as a permanent head case, it’s best to take a wait and see approach. It’s too early to tell if the Kings made a draft mistake. The 2009 draft, however, is a different deal. The results are slowly pouring in and we have a fairly decent idea who screwed up and who didn’t.

Here’s a Hang Time take on the first 15 picks, in retro:

1. Blake Griffin, Clippers: No-brainer pick is the only All-Star of the bunch so far.

2. Hasheem Thabeet, Grizzlies: He’s already on his second team — or third, if you count the D-League stint. Sometimes when you reach for a raw 7-footer, you end up with a raw 7-footer.

3. James Harden, Thunder: Sharp shooter was a nice pickup by Sam Presti, although others drafted lower might wind up better in the long run.

4. Tyreke Evans, Kings. Hasn’t he regressed since his rookie year? Is that due to coaching, or is Tyreke just going to be an OK player?

5. Ricky Rubio, Wolves: Ding. Ding. He might save David Kahn‘s job.


Pacers And ‘Dos Lobos’: Reason To Howl

HANG TIME TEXAS – O.K., O.K., we know. Everybody loves the Clippers … you know, Lob City and all that.

But the best part of the opening week of any NBA season is the uptick in optimism that reigns in many corners of the map.

Be sure to make a League Pass stop by jam-packed Bankers Life Fieldhouse (formerly Conseco) to take a peek at the Pacers, who picked up with the enthusiasm and solid play that coach Frank Vogel instilled over the second half of last season.

David West – who chose Indiana over Boston and isn’t that a treat? – popped in 11 points to go with his 12 rebounds and was one of three different Pacers to ring up a double-double (Roy Hibbert 14 and 16, Tyler Hansbrough (15 and 13) in a season-opening win over Detroit.


Welcome To Recruiting Season

– For the latest updates check out:’s Free Agent Tracker

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – This is always our favorite part.

Now that you can actually back up the rumors with real, live contact with free agents, we’re going to get a chance to see exactly who is serious about taking home some prizes in this compressed NBA free agency period.

Contact between team officials and players can be made this morning, meaning we no longer have to subsist on a daily diet of unnamed sources and innuendo. With courting season tipping off, we’ll get a chance to see what teams are ready to back up the hype generated in the past week.

If you like Caron Butler or Jamal Crawford, invite them to tour your practice facility and chauffeur them around town like the blue-chip free agent many teams think they are.

If Nene or Tyson Chandler is the big man you must have, the one that will solidify your team’s frontline, now is the time to show them just how much they are needed. Someone has to give these guys a reason to sign here rather than there.

And with the finishing touches on the nuts and bolts of a new collective bargaining agreement still in the works, free agency is going to come down to the same thing it almost always does (aside from cold hard cash, of course) — which team can work it best during recruiting season.

The recruiting season does extend beyond middle, high school and college ball.

Good recruiters are just as valuable at the NBA level, because they know what buttons to push to turn the head of players being pursued from nearly every direction.

The universal opinion that this free agent crop is lacking in franchise talent, a theory that is hard to argue when comparing the 2011 crop to that star-studded 2010 bunch. But that’s what makes the right recruiting pitch even more important — there were only a handful of teams with legitimate shots to land the likes of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire.

What franchise worth its private jet doesn’t think it can lure David West or Kris Humphries with the right recruiting pitch?

On to the madness …



With the Yao Ming era officially over, might Nene be the man the Rockets tab to replace him in the middle? Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Rockets’ interest will shift to a face-to-face meeting with the Brazilian big man today, one of many in-person recruiting pitches Nene is sure receive before making a decision on his future:

The Rockets’ pursuit of free-agent center Nene will move to a meeting Monday in Denver between the coveted center and Rockets coach Kevin McHale and general manager Daryl Morey, a person with knowledge of the meeting said on Sunday.

Nene is considered the top free agent available and has indicated a desire to leave the Denver Nuggets after failing to reach an agreement on a contract extension before the lockout. The Rockets had tried to work a deal with the Nuggets to acquire Nene prior to last season’s trade deadline.

Morey has also been in talks with the representative of free-agent center Tyson Chandler.


Pacers Boss Bird At The Crossroads

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Eight years are a mere blip in time, but it seems like an eternity in the NBA.

It’s certainly rare for executives and coaches to last that long.

So when you read that Larry Bird is eight years deep into his tenure as the boss of the Indiana Pacers, it seems a bit strange. I was there for the start, standing in the crowd at Bird’s introductory news conference and wondering, like most in that surprised sea of faces staring at him, how long the man known as “Larry Legend” would last as an executive.

Now, eight trying years later for Bird and the Pacers, Bird appears to be at the crossroads. The Pacers finally recovered fully from the infamous brawl at the Palace, making their first playoff appearance since 2006 earlier this year and pushing the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in all five games of their first round series.

In a thorough and wide-ranging piece on Bird, Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe touched on not only Bird’s lingering connections to the Celtics but also his tumultuous journey running the Pacers and how much longer he plans on doing so:

He’s been the Pacers’ top executive for eight seasons, but said that after next season he’s considering stepping away. He took the Pacers to the Finals as coach in 2000. But he’s spent the last six seasons trying to rebuild a franchise stained by the brawl with the Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

With Indiana coming off its first playoff appearance since 2006, the franchise is at a turning point. Bird and Pacers owner Herb Simon agreed that Bird would continue to guide the franchise on a year-to-year basis.

“It’s a handshake deal,’’ said Bird, who will be honored tomorrow at TD Garden as part of the Sports Museum’s The Tradition. “I don’t want a [long-term] contract.’’