Posts Tagged ‘Tyson Chandler’

Chandler Injury A Big Scare For Knicks


VIDEO: Tyson Chandler goes down after a collision

NEW YORK – For the New York Knicks, a 1-2 record to start the season isn’t necessarily something to worry about. An injury to Tyson Chandler is.

Chandler injured his right knee in a collision with the Bobcats’ Kemba Walker in the first quarter on Tuesday. The Knicks said that x-rays taken were “inconclusive” and that their center will undergo further testing on Wednesday.

“We don’t know the severity yet,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said afterward. “We’ll know more tomorrow morning.”

The injury forced Kenyon Martin into duty on a night he was scheduled to take off. And if Chandler is to miss more time, Woodson’s plan of using Martin and Amar’e Stoudemire* as the back-up big man on alternate nights basically goes out the window in Game 4.

* Stoudemire has looked awful in his limited action. On Tuesday, he shot 1-for-3 with five turnovers in 11:13. Both misses were blocked.

More importantly, the Knicks’ defense, which has looked terrible in their last two games, stands to suffer even more. The team that ranked 17th defensively last season played well on that end of the floor in Chicago on Thursday, but was brutal at times against Minnesota on Sunday, and especially in the first half against the Bobcats.

“Our defense … It stinks right now,” Woodson said. “Defensively, we are all over the place right now and that’s a reflection on me as a coach.”

Charlotte’s entire offense was strictly pick-and-rolls for Walker and Ramon Sessions, and New York could do little to stop them, allowing 64 points on 46 first-half possessions en route to a 102-97 defeat.

After dealing with multiple injuries last season, Chandler had looked healthy and much more active in the Knicks’ first three games, averaging 11.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. He was back in Defensive Player of the Year form, with the Knicks allowing just 90.0 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor, as opposed to 107.1 with him on the bench. They got outrebounded 46-29 after he left the game on Tuesday.

“He was really playing well,” Woodson said. “He’s got his energy and his strength back this year.”

Chandler’s impact isn’t limited to the defensive end of the floor. The Knicks have Carmelo Anthony and will get J.R. Smith back from suspension after one more game, but need their pick-and-roll game — of which Chandler is a huge part of — to keep their offense balanced.

“He’s a big piece to what we do,” Woodson said.

“He’s our anchor on our defensive end,” Anthony added, “so we miss him big time.”

Point blank, Chandler is the Knicks’ most important player. And if he’s out long, the 1-3 Knicks could see their season go further downhill.

So New York will hope that Chandler’s injury is minor. But even if it is, it’s a worry, because we saw last season that a hobbled Chandler can’t hold this defense together.

UPDATE: The Knicks announced Wednesday morning that Chandler has “a small non-displaced fracture of the right fibula.” There was no ligament damage and he does not require surgery, but HE is expected to miss 4-6 weeks of action.

Huge NBA Opening Week; And You Wanted To Wait Till Christmas?

VIDEO: The top plays from the NBA’s opening week

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Six nights. That’s all it took to remind yet again why we play the games, all 82, and why any claim of less being more is pure folly.

Why not November? I say.

As the 2011 lockout ushered in a reduced schedule of 66 games starting on Christmas Day and firing off a fan-pleasing crush of games nightly, a spark ignited into a full-blown media/Internet forest fire: Why not start every NBA season on Dec. 25?

Heck, no one’s paying attention in November, let alone a pre-Halloween slate. With the NFL and college football beast roaring, who’s got the attention span to cram in hoops, too?

So congratulations to the NBA for a wholly unpredictable and fascinating opening week that featured scintillating individual performances and take-that victories by teams who’ve been told they stink. And so the games are played. Yes, even in November.

There isn’t a more outrageous narrative than Philly’s 3-0 start that includes takedowns of the Heat and Bulls led by The Kid, Michael Carter-Williams. Our own John Schuhmann couldn’t help but unprecedentedly vault the Sixers from 29th to No. 1 in this week’s Power Rankings.

While all will likely right itself before too long, one week in and we’ve got upside-down standings. The trifecta tankers — Philly, Phoenix and Orlando — are 7-2. Miami, Chicago, Brooklyn and New York are 5-8.

Along with some fascinating upsets and  fast starts, we’ve seen a bevy of fantastic individual scoring and rebounding frenzies.

Here’s a quick look at some of the opening week’s wildly unpredictable highlights:

*  Carter-Williams has to sweep the Player of the Week honors for rookies and everybody else. In his season debut against Miami, he nearly notched a quadruple-double with 22 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds and nine steals. A fluke? A few nights later against the Bulls and the comeback kid Derrick  Rose, he dropped 26 points and 10 assists. Golden State, in Philly tonight (7 p.m. ET, League Pass), has been warned.

* You can probably name more traded Suns than current Suns, but they’re 2-1 and on Sunday pushed Oklahoma City to the brink in their home opener even with Russell Westbrook supercharging the evening with his unexpected return. By the way, he looked super-fast.

* Let’s not forget the Magic’s supposed bid for massive ping-pong-ball accumulation. Rookie Victor Oladipo has other plans. The Magic aren’t disappearing after two rousing victories over the improved Pelicans and (title-contending?) Nets by a combined 41 points to even their record at 2-2.

* The no-name Lakers bench crushed the star-studded Clippers’ starters in the fourth quarter in both teams’ opener.

* Chris Paul has stat lines of 42 points and 15 assists and 26 points and 10 assists.

* Kevin Love is all the way back, averaging 29.7 ppg, 14.7 rpg and 3.7 apg to help Minnesota start 3-0. He already has games of 31 and 17, and 34 and 15.

* The 2-1 Pistons’ front line is living up to expectations. Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond are walking double-doubles. Monroe has a 24 and 16 game under his belt and Drummond already has 15-and-12 and 12-and-16 games.

* Second-year Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson went off for 38 points on 15-for-19 shooting in 31 minutes.

*Kings center DeMarcus Cousins notched 31 points and 14 rebounds against the Nuggets.

* In the same game, Knicks center Tyson Chandler pulled down 19 rebounds and Bulls center Joakim Noah grabbed 15.

* In a battle of point guards, Steph Curry and CP3 combined for 80 points, 11 3-pointers, 24 assists and 17 turnovers.

* Also in the same game, Mavs forward Shawn Marion and Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph posted matching stat lines of 21 points and 14 boards.

* Greg Oden dunked on his first offensive possession since Dec. 5, 2009.

* Dwight Howard is averaging 15.0 ppg and 17.0 rpg in three games. His 51 rebounds nearly double his free 26 throw attempts, of which he’s made half.

* Pelicans second-year center/forward Anthony Davis is taking this breakthrough stuff seriously, averaging 23.7 ppg, 12.3 rpg and 4.0 bpg. He has games of 25 points and six blocks, 26 points and 17 rebounds and 20 points and 12 boards.

There are even more big games to get to from Kevin Durant to Paul George to Monta Ellis to Nicolas Batum‘s apologetic triple-double, but in the interest of fair time, we must also get to the surprising (or in some instances the not-so-surprising, but still noteworthy) developments at the other end of the spectrum:

* The Nuggets, 0-2, and center JaVale McGee are not off to inspiring starts. This is supposed to be McGee’s big moment, but the 7-footer has averaged just 11.5 mpg and 5.0 ppg and 2.0 rpg despite starting both games.

* Raptors forward Rudy Gay again has a nice-looking scoring average (17.0 ppg), but just think what it might be if not for shooting 32.7 percent from the floor and 30.0 percent from beyond the arc.

* Rookie Nets head coach Jason Kidd served a two-game suspension stemming from his DUI situation and then got hammered by 21 points in his debut at Orlando.

* Memphis is in transition after the promotion of Dave Joerger following Lionel Hollins being shown the door. Joerger is credited as the architect of the Grizzlies’ stifling defense, yet even with a virtually unchanged roster, the defense is being picked apart, allowing more than 106 ppg.

* Detroit’s active big guys, Monroe and Drummond, are pushing high-dollar free-agent signee Josh Smith out to the perimeter. Smith likes to shoot the long ball, but averaging 7.3 attempts from back there is a bit much, especially when he’s making just 27.0 percent.

And you wanted to wait until Christmas? Bah!

No Love For The Knicks?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The ending was a bitter pill to swallow for fans of the New York Knicks last season. Falling to the Indiana Pacers the way they did in the Eastern Conference semifinals, getting pushed around and basically overwhelmed by a healthier and more defensively sound team, exposed the weaknesses that were there all along.

That crash landing in the playoffs might explain the lack of buzz surrounding these Knicks as the start of 2013-14 season nears. As we get closer to tip-off of the regular season, you hear about the Pacers, Chicago Bulls and even the Brooklyn Nets as teams the Heat need to worry about before anyone mentions the Knicks.

There’s no love for the Knicks these days and you have wonder: Why?

The reasons for the lukewarm interest in the Knicks are varied. There was no free agent splash over the summer (sorry Metta World Peace). There was no miraculous recovery for Amar’e Stoudemire. Carmelo Anthony needed time to heal his battered body in an attempt to recover from the pounding he took last season. J.R. Smith didn’t exactly distinguish himself in the offseason either with a five-game suspension looming at the start of the regular season.

It’s a lesson plenty of would-be contenders learn when their results don’t match the expectations. And for a time last season, the Knicks, not the Pacers, looked like the team that would challenge the Miami Heat for that trip to The Finals.

Everyone seems to have forgotten all of the positive work the Knicks did last year, finishing with a 54-28 record, winning their first playoff series in over a decade and coach Mike Woodson finishing third in Coach of the Year voting.

Woodson’s teams in Atlanta got progressively better in each of his six seasons without the Hawks ever making the sort of free agent splash that usually spurs a dramatic rise in a team’s fortunes. Woodson, despite a legion of vocal critics, is one of a handful of coaches in the league with a proven track record of taking a disjointed group and making sure they compete at a high level.

And disjointed might be a kind word for the group the Knicks will suit up this season. The Raymond Felton-Pablo Prigioni backcourt tandem is interesting, to say the least, and the Iman Shumpert-Smith battle at shooting guard promises to deliver plenty of drama (and potentially headaches for Woodson) throughout the season.

(Shumpert insists he’s playing with a “chip on his shoulder” that could help fuel the Knicks early on, and that’s a good thing.)

Call me crazy, but I think World Peace is going to be a fit and rookie swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. is certainly going to be a factor. The only glaring question for me is if Andrea Bargnani can revive his career as the floor-spacing stretch-4 the Knicks need to free everyone else up to play to their specific strengths?

You never know what you’re going to get with Amar’e because of his injury issues and even with an offseason worth of work on his jump shot it’s hard to lean too hard on Tyson Chandler for the offensive help Bargnani should be able to provide immediately.

Ultimately, the pieces are in place for the Knicks to battle for a top four spot in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. That’s just a fact, even if no one outside of the Knicks’ locker room believes it.


New Crop Of Bigs Vie For USA Spots

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LAS VEGAS – In the last two Olympics, the starting forwards for the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team were Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James. In the 2010 World Championship, the starting forwards were Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala.

As the U.S. has gone undefeated in those three major competitions, they’ve started just one traditional big man — Dwight Howard in 2008, Lamar Odom in 2010 and Tyson Chandler in 2012 — and had just two others on their roster. Though the numbers made it clear last year that the presence of one of the bigs on the floor was critical, only two of them were in the rotation.

One of the two was Chandler, who is probably done playing international basketball. The other was Kevin Love, who was also on the roster in 2010 and could be back for next year’s World Cup in Spain.

At this point, more than 13 months before the World Cup tips off, absolutely nothing is set in stone. A couple of bigs that aren’t at this week’s mini-camp — Taj Gibson and David Lee — are still in the mix. So there could be as many as three and as few as one roster spot available for the 10 bigs that are here.

One of those 10 is Anthony Davis, who was the 12th man on last year’s Olympic squad. He was raw then, didn’t make a big impact as a rookie with the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans), and said this week that he’s not guaranteed a roster spot next summer. But USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo had good things to say about Davis on Tuesday.

“He’s had some experience, real early, last year with us,” Colangelo said. “He observed and he learned a lot, just playing with the guys he did. I can see growth and experience and maturity already in him. And you can kind of project him out. He could be a tremendous shot-blocker in the international game.”

We’ll have to wait and see how Davis does in his second season in the league, but his experience, potential and skill set make him the likely frontrunner among this week’s group of bigs. With his athleticism, his ability to protect the rim on defense and finish at the rim on offense, he’s the prototypical USA Basketball big man. With stars in the backcourt and in those forward positions, those are the kinds of skills that are needed from the guys who will play the five spot.

Colangelo doesn’t want to think that specifically just yet. This week is just about seeing what guys bring to the table, and the selection process will wait until next summer.

“It depends on who your nucleus might be,” he said. “It’s way too early to know what our nucleus is. That’s why we have to continue to look at all the bigs. And then when the time comes, when we have to select those who we want to bring into camp next summer, it’ll be based on what kind of complementary players we have.”

It will also be based, in part, on how these guys do with their NBA teams next season. And since most of the group is so young – seven of the 10 are 23 are younger – one or more just might have a breakout year and prove to be better than Lee or Gibson by next July.

“Some of them just have more growing to do,” Colangelo said. “They’re young bigs. And of all the positions in basketball, it takes them longer to get where they can be.”

This is the first exposure to Colangelo’s program for most of this group of bigs. In addition to Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Favors were here last year as a member of the Select Team that practiced against the Olympic Team. But the rest are new.

The rest = Ryan Anderson, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, DeAndre Jordan, Greg Monroe, Larry Sanders and Tyler Zeller.

Maybe one or two of those names might get a trip to Spain next year, because there’s a possibility that Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski take four bigs instead of three to the World Cup. Better safe than sorry, especially if one or two hasn’t played in a major international tournament before. For Krzyzewski, the lack of bigs on last year’s roster — a result of injuries more than anything — was a concern.

“We were actually really vulnerable in London, because Tyson was our only true center,” Krzyzewski told NBA TV before camp opened. “We were vulnerable in the fact that then we had to use LeBron, Carmelo and Kevin Durant as guys who would have to guard the fours and the fives. And since you only get five fouls, we were vulnerable in that one of those guys could get in foul trouble.”

So it’s good that they have a deep group here in camp this week. It’s a little difficult to envision any of the 10 as a starting center on a U.S. National Team, but things could certainly be different a year from now.

‘Amnesty THAT!’ An Amnesty Find Is Rare

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – The two-word tweet Kobe Bryant directed at Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban after he grilled Cuban’s team for 38 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in a game last season was priceless. Earlier that week, Cuban suggested that the Lakers should consider amnestying Bryant this offseason as a means for Los Angeles to shrink the enormous luxury-tax bill coming after next season.

The notion was resurrected after Bryant, due to make $30.45 million in 2013-14, tore his Achilles tendon in the third-to-last game of the regular season because of the assumed probability that he will miss a chunk of next season. Of course, the Lakers had no intention to amnesty Bryant by Tuesday’s deadline.

Had they, making him available to a team for dirt cheap, Bryant would have become the first superstar cut loose via the amnesty provision that took effect at the conclusion of the 2011 lockout as part of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Twenty players in all have been waived via the amnesty provision. Three got the news Tuesday, bringing this summer’s amnesty total to five.

The wisdom of the provision is to allow each team the one-time ability to remove a contract from its books. The team must still pay the player’s remaining salary, but it no longer counts against the salary cap or luxury tax.

The amnestied player (who must have been under contract prior to the new CBA) goes through a waiver process with teams under the salary cap granted first crack to acquire the player through a bidding process. The highest bidder wins and signs the player at the bid price with the former team responsible for the balance.

It could provide a cheap way for a team to fill a hole with a serviceable rotation player set free by a team needing financial relief – which was the Miami Heat’s purpose Tuesday in amnestying popular sharpshooter Mike Miller. More often than not, however, teams, naturally, have utilized the amnesty provision to eradicate expensive mistakes or free themselves of players no longer worth their lucrative deals such as waiving disappointing, non-productive players (Darko Milicic, Travis Outlaw), older/high-mileage players (James Posey, Elton Brand) or headcases (Gilbert Arenas, Andray Blatche).

Of the 15 players amnestied in 2011 and 2012, four (Posey, Charlie Bell, Ryan Gomes and Milicic) were never signed by another team and eight (Arenas, Bell, Josh Childress, Baron Davis, Gomes, Milicic, Posey, Brandon Roy) are currently out of the league. Only five players remain with the teams that signed them through or after the amnesty waiver process, and of those just three — Luis Scola (Phoenix), Blatche (Brooklyn) and Chris “Birdman” Andersen — played significant roles last season.

Of the five players amnestied this summer, the underwhelming Tyrus Thomas has yet to be signed. Drew Gooden, Linas Kleiza and Miller are in the midst of the 48-hour waiver bidding process. Metta World Peace, amnestied by the Lakers, signed a two-year deal with his hometown New York Knicks.

The 6-foot-11 Blatche and the Brooklyn Nets are hands-down the feel-good story of the amnesty provision. Just 26, Blatche’s talent is immense, but so was his penchant for doing dumb things with the dysfunctional Wizards. Fed up, Washington gave up on him. Few teams bit until the Nets figured they had nothing to lose, signing Blatche to a one-year deal for less than $1 million while the Wizards were on the hook for more than $7 million. Blatche emerged as an integral part of the Nets’ return to the playoffs, averaging 10.3 ppg and 5.1 rpg off the bench. Last week Blatche re-signed for a reported two years and $2.9 million.

But Blatche is clearly the exception. The Mavericks hoped to get a steal with their winning bid of $2.1 million for the amnestied Brand, who was due to make $18 million last season with the Philadelphia 76ers. Brand, while well-liked in Dallas, posted his worst statistical season of his career, averaging 7.2 ppg and 6.0 rpg. He recently signed a free-agent deal with Atlanta.

Chauncey Billups, amnestied in 2011 by the Knicks to make room to sign Tyson Chandler, played just 42 total games the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, and recently signed a free-agent deal with the Detroit Pistons. Center Brendan Haywood was nonexistent in Charlotte last season after being amnestied by the Mavs.

And remember the potential Childress had? Amnestied by the Phoenix Suns in 2012, he’s one of the eight players no longer working in the NBA. The amnesty bust list goes on and on.

So who are the 10 teams yet to play their amnesty card, and which players are eligible? Here they are: Atlanta (Al Horford), Boston (Rajon Rondo), Chicago (Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah), Detroit (none), Memphis (Mike Conley, Zach Randolph), New Orleans (none), Oklahoma City (Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Durant, Nick Collison), Sacramento Kings (John Salmons), San Antonio (Tony Parker) and Utah (none).

But that is now speculation for next summer.

Truths About Today’s Star Free Agents And How To Get Them

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST –
 A couple of truths: The largest pile of cash is not always the end-all for star players in free agency, and cap space and/or a glittery pedigree won’t trump an attractive roster in landing a star free agent.

In 2010, free agents LeBron JamesChris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all took marginally less money to play together in Miami because they believed it gave them the best opportunity to win a championship or two or… three summers later Dwight Howard has passed on $118 million over five years to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers and will instead settle for the $88 million over four years the Houston Rockets could offer under the collective bargaining agreement.

A finally decisive Howard said he examined each of his five suitors’ rosters and determined that playing with 23-year-old All-Star James Harden and the rising Rockets offered better odds to win a title sooner than with Kobe Bryant and the aging Lakers or with anybody else.

“I’m betting $30 million on it,” Howard told ESPNLA.com on Friday night, referring to the difference in salary between what the Lakers and any other team could offer.

The evidence has long proved that money is the great closer. Athletes simply can’t leave cash on the table. Their careers are too short, too fragile to not reap every cent available.

Side note: An argument is correctly made that since some states such as California have a state income tax while other states such as Texas do not, that the net salaries are actually much closer. And one can surely contend that once a player such as Howard — or James or Wade or Bosh — has earned his first $100 million, the $30 million difference (on paper) over five years is relative, and lauding a multi-millionaire for accepting less is foolish.

Still, the larger dollar figure typically wins out. Al Jefferson‘s surprise move to Charlotte is just one example. But perhaps with today’s hyper-scrutinized star players whose legacies are ultimately going to be judged by championships — and Howard will be under pressure to deliver in Houston the same as if he stayed in L.A. — and are closely evaluating all of their choices.

“Financially, [I am] leaving that much money on the table, leaving a storied franchise,” Howard said. “But this is an opportunity for me to write my own story.”

The Dallas Mavericks hoped to win Howard’s services just as they wanted to secure Deron Williams‘ signature last summer. Williams chose to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets and many suggested he chased the cash — the Nets’ $98 million compared to the $75 million the Mavs could pay — because Dallas by a long shot owned the more impressive track record.

But Howard came to the same conclusion as Williams after the Mavs pitched to both their impressive playoff run, an excellent coach and one of the league’s more aggressive and creative front offices. Neither player, however, saw enough pieces on the current roster to commit.

In an interview I did with Jason Kidd shortly after Williams re-signed with the Nets, Kidd, who spent the week leading up to free agency with Williams, stressed that Williams feared being left to go at it alone in the case Dirk Nowitzki went down with an injury.

Williams also liked the Nets’ addition of Joe Johnson during his free-agent meetings and this year he welcomes new teammates Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in joining Johnson and All-Star center Brook Lopez. In Houston, Howard and James are a potential dynamite duo for years to come. Harden’s acquisition was made possible by Houston general manager Daryl Morey‘s ability to ship veteran scorer Kevin Martin, 2012 lottery pick Jeremy Lamb and a couple of first-round picks to salary-cap-strapped Oklahoma City.

Cuban’s greatest miscalculation in stripping down his 2011 championship roster was not re-signing his greatest asset outside of Nowitzki in center Tyson Chandler. Cuban’s intention was to create the cap space to sign a star free agent in 2012 and ’13. Ultimately the Mavs’ cupboard was left bare of enticing established players and prospects, assets to either flip in a trade or to aid in attracting star players in free agency.

The Mavs and Lakers emphasized their past successes and the promise they’ll do it again. Howard, however, wasn’t shopping in the futures market.

The Mavs spent the last two years preparing to lure Howard, yet Golden State needed only a couple days to make a strong, late push because of its young, emerging roster. And when the Warriors successfully sent out expiring contracts and signed Andre Iguodala, they were positioned to give up a youthful talent in a sign-and-trade with the Lakers had Howard wanted in.

Of course, Houston and Golden State sputtered for years in the lottery acquiring high draft picks while Dallas battled in the playoffs the previous dozen seasons, and often used first-round picks in trades (while also taking on other teams’ bad contracts when necessary under the previous CBA’s softer tax penalties) to continually refresh the roster.

But the critical summer of 2013 has revealed that the Mavs unloaded too much to land a star and the Lakers got too old (among a bungled coaching change). Free-agent stars want to win today so suitors better come offering more than cap space and, as Howard just proved, more than a royal pedigree.

Bobcats Pay Up To Nab Jefferson

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From NBA.com staff reports

In a potentially perception-altering move for one of the NBA’s most moribund franchises, the Charlotte Bobcats reached a verbal agreement Wednesday with one of the most sought-after big men after Dwight Howard, Utah’s Al Jefferson, who agreed to a three-year, $40.5 million deal.

The 28-year-old Jefferson was Charlotte’s top priority in free agency, as the Bobcats sought to finally find a low-post presence that would help their perimeter players get move driving and shooting space.

Jefferson will receive $13.5 million in each of the three seasons of the contract. He will have a player option for the third season.

The Bobcats, according to a source, will amnesty forward Tyrus Thomas in order to create enough cap room to sign Jefferson, who will, along with first-round pick Cody Zeller, give Charlotte a bolstered frontcourt next season, along with second-year small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Last season, Byron Mullens (when healthy) was the de facto starting center for Charlotte, notching 41 starts in 53 games played. But the Bobcats also gave playing time in the middle to second-year big man Bismack Biyombo as well as veterans Thomas, Brendan Haywood, DeSagana Diop and Josh McRoberts.

The Bobcats are finally free of Diop, a monumental bust who played in just 92 games over the past four seasons after Charlotte took him off the Dallas’ Mavericks’ hands, and they did not make a qualifying offer to Mullens, setting the forward-center free.

Haywood and Biyombo, who started 65 games last year and will enter his third season, are both on the books at bargain rates for next season. Charlotte signed Haywood before last season after Dallas used the amnesty clause to release him. He’ll be paid $2.05 million by the Bobcats next season. McRoberts is an unrestricted free agent.

The 6-foot-10, 289-pound Jefferson is a low-post tactician on the offensive end, but he certainly is no Bill Russell on the defensive end. He averaged 17.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg and 1.1 bpg last season with the Jazz.

Acquired by Utah from Minnesota in a July, 2010 trade, Jefferson could be the kind of acquisition for Charlotte that Vlade Divac was for Sacramento in 1998, when he left the Charlotte Hornets for the Kings in a free agent deal. With Divac aboard and Chris Webber coming from Washington, the Kings turned their up-to-then terrible fortunes around, becoming one of the league’s most exciting teams.

Charlotte has a way to go to get to that level, but Jefferson’s presence will make things easier for everyone. Averaging 16.4 ppg over nine NBA seasons, Jefferson has never shot less than 49.2 percent from the floor. He offers a creative low-post game that utilizes both hands along with an improved jumper.

Now with four centers on the roster for next season, it will be interesting to see Bobcats owner Michael Jordan’s next move is in a possible attempt to thin out the position and seek help elsewhere for the club.

Jordan has been criticized for poor drafts and seeming unwillingness in recent years to spend money, but in signing Jefferson and eating the final two years and $18 million of Thomas’s contract, Jordan is making a significant investment in trying to turn around the Bobcats’ fortunes. They’ve been the worst team in the league the last two years, with a combined 28-120 record, including a 7-59 season in the Lottery-shortened 2011-12 campaign.

Jefferson averaged 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds last season for the Jazz, who could also lose their other free agent big man, Paul Millsap. The two sides met in the opening minutes of free agency on Monday but Utah did not make an offer to Millsap.

NBA.com’s Jeff Caplan and TNT analyst David Aldridge contributed to this report

Knicks Deal For Raptors’ Bargnani

Andrea Bargnani

Andrea Bargnani played in just 35 games last season for the Raptors.


HANG TIME NEW JERSEY –
The Toronto Raptors have found a taker for Andrea Bargnani, further evidence that no contract is untradeable.

For some reason, the New York Knicks are willing to take on the remaining two years and $22 million left on Bargnani’s deal. The trade, first reported by Howard Beck of the New York Times, was not approved by the league Sunday night. So the original swap — which had Marcus Camby, Steve Novak and the Knicks’ 2016 first-round pick going to Toronto — will have to be tweaked, and nothing can become official until the free-agency moratorium period ends on July 10.

Because Bargnani’s salary goes up on July 1, while both Camby’s and Novak’s salaries go down, more salary will need to go in Toronto’s direction. That can happen if New York works out a sign-and-trade deal with Earl Barron, Kenyon Martin, Quentin Richardson or Pablo Prigioni. Barron and Richardson are the most likely candidates.

As long as the deal goes through, it’s new Raptors GM Masai Ujiri working his magic once again, getting something in return for Bargnani’s burdensome contract. In fact, you have to wonder how the Draft pick isn’t going in the other direction.

Not only do the Raps get a pick and get rid of Bargnani, but Novak is a useful piece for a team that ranked 26th in 3-point percentage last season and has two starting wings — DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay — that don’t shoot particularly well.

Bargnani has shot well at certain points in his career, but has really struggled over the last two seasons, shooting 42 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range. He has tunnel vision when he gets the ball, unable to make plays for others. And even if he finds his shot at Madison Square Garden, he’s a serious defensive liability.

Really, you have to wonder why the Knicks want Bargnani. Though they struggled against the Pacers’ top-ranked defense in the conference semifinals, they ranked third offensively in the regular season, scoring a potent 108.6 points per 100 possessions. More than anything, they need help on defense, where they ranked 16th. You need to be ranked in the top 10 defensively if you have dreams of making The Finals, and Bargnani isn’t going to help them get there.

One of the Knicks’ biggest issues over the last few seasons has been their lack of two-way players. They’ve had some great offensive players and a few good defenders, but not enough guys who can get the job done on both ends of the floor. And Bargnani obviously isn’t that. Could you imagine how awful New York’s defense would be with Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire on the floor together?

Furthermore, the Knicks will now have four guys — Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Bargnani and Stoudemire — making more than $10 million a year. Three of the four play power forward or center full-time, and the fourth (Anthony) is at his best playing the four.

Capped out, a trade is the only way the Knicks can really upgrade their roster. And though they’re not really giving up much value, this just doesn’t seem like the trade to do it.

Blogtable: The Needy Knicks




Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Week 30: Dwight and D’Antoni | What do the Knicks need? | Bobcats back to Hornets


What do the Knicks need to become a true title contender, and how do they get it?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Find a way to make Carmelo Anthony your second-best player. Then find a way to convince him to accept that. Now how do the Knicks go about that? They need to acquire a proven star who has the ball in his hands as much as or more than Anthony. So I’m thinking point guard. And since Tony Parker, Derrick Rose or Rajon Rondo aren’t likely to be playing home games at Madison Square Garden anytime soon, I’m thinking Chris Paul. Done.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: First, the Knicks need the realization that they are not on the doorstep of being a true contender. Not when they had a roster of Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, Rasheed Wallace and a 36-year-old rookie in Pablo Prigioni and could only get out of the first round. That’s a group that’s more suited to be playing chess in Central Park than knocking off Indiana, Miami and, next season, Chicago. Good luck finding someplace to dump the $45 million left on Amar’e Stoudemire‘s contract. Could they convince small market teams in Minnesota or Portland to give up potential free agents Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge a year early?  That’s the kind of home run they need to hit. As currently constructed, the Knicks are going nowhere. What they need is time … and that’s the one thing you never get in New York.

J.R. Smith (Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images))

J.R. Smith (Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images))

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Welcome to the new CBA, boys. There won’t be any names in lights walking through that door this summer for a team over the salary cap, the luxury tax and the tax apron, and therefore left with little flexibility to do anything substantial. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Health is the key. The Knicks will have Iman Shumpert ready from the jump (he didn’t play until Jan. 17 this season) and that will keep 40-year-old Jason Kidd in his rightful spot coming off the bench. The huge minutes Kidd played early in the season ruined him late. Also (as Knicks management crosses their fingers and toes) Amar’e Stoudemire should be in good health for the start of training camp and hopefully coach Mike Woodson can lay out a mutually acceptable plan of attack with Stoudemire for next season.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: They need to balance an offense over-reliant on perimeter play, especially the 3-pointer. They need to get better on defense. They’re just not going to be able to. Without a Draft pick before No. 24, without real spending power in free agency and without many trade options, the Knicks have few opportunities to make major gains. Their best hope is that one or two free agents deliver well beyond their contracts.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: They need more balance, both in terms of offense/defense and, in regard to their offense, inside/outside. Really, they need more guys under 30 and more guys who can play on both ends of the floor. Amar’e Stoudemire and J.R. Smith are the prime examples of players who can hurt you defensively as much as they help you offensively. Given their cap situation and the age of their roster, I really don’t know how they get better this summer. Maybe they have another Pablo Prigioni they can bring over from Europe

Sekou Smith, NBA.comThey need a second superstar. They need to find Carmelo Anthony‘s Dwyane Wade or Russell Westbrook. And they need to find him now, because J.R. Smith is not that guy. Making that second superstar happen is the tricky part. The Knicks don’t have anyone of value that they could move (on his own) to get back a player of the caliber needed to help them get to championship level. The front office has to get to work and see what they can come up with, because another superstar is not going to fall in their lap. But I’m with Carmelo’s college coach, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, he can’t do it alone. He needs another player of his caliber, or possibly better, to take the Knicks to the next level. And there is no shame in that, not in today’s NBA.

Aldo Avinante, NBA.com/philippinesNew York is one dependable post player away from being a true contender for the NBA championship. Their small-ball approach was exploited by the bigger and more physical Indiana Pacers. David West roughed up Carmelo Anthony in the four-spot — still an unnatural position for Melo — while Paul George‘s length gave him problems. But what lacked in their season-ending series is a dependable scorer in the low-post and consistent work on the boards. Indiana simply outworked them in the big boy stats while they looked helpless when their 3-point shots weren’t falling. The postseason is a different animal: The game’s pace slows down dramatically and the defense intensifies. Tyson Chandler needs help, but other than those problems they are still a very good ballclub.

Pawel Weszka, NBA.com/africaThey need fresh legs and creativity. Having so many experienced veterans worked well in the regular season, but the playoffs’ physicality brought fatigue and inconsistency. Carmelo needs more support on the offensive end as the Knicks become predictable – when the Knicks top scorer does not get double-teamed on a post up play, the basketball stops moving. They need a versatile big man and Raymond Felton stepping up in running the offense, but with big bucks locked up in Anthony, Chandler and Stoudemire’s contracts, pursuits of big summer trade opportunities will be limited.

Karan Madhok, NBA.com/indiaThis is a point guard’s league, where teams that have decent quarterbacks can help set an offense and keep the ball moving. The Knicks desperately need better ball movement to take the next step up, and currently, their two highest-paid players – Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire – cannot co-exist with both having a shoot-first mentality on offense. Felton, Kidd, and Prigioni have been half-decent but they need an upgrade at the point guard position. Unfortunately, the Knicks future looks bleak since the team of elder statesmen was built to ‘win now’. They don’t have enough financial flexibility to bring in a super-talented player next season. What they can hope for is to make a minor trade and hope to strike lucky with an underrated point guard just looking for a chance to shine.

For Knicks-Pacers, Game 6 Comes Down To Rebounds, Turnovers

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Knicks-Pacers has been kind of ugly. Eastern Conference playoff basketball at its finest.

The average score of the first five games has been 88-86. They’ve been slow and inefficient. Both teams have shot 41 percent. The Knicks can’t finish at the rim (shooting 48 percent from the restricted area) and the Pacers can’t hit a jump shot (shooting 34 percent from outside the restricted area).

Knicks defensive rebounding
Timeframe DREB% Rank
Reg. season 74.7% 4
First round 86.0% 1
Conf. semis 67.5% 8

DREB% = Percent of available def. reb.

That makes for a lot of missed shots. And if the Knicks had just rebounded a few more of those missed shots, they might be up 3-2, instead of facing elimination for the second straight time in Game 6 on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). What was the fourth-best defensive rebounding team in the regular season and the best defensive rebounding team in the first round has been the worst defensive rebounding team in the conference semifinals.

The Pacers were the fourth-best offensive rebounding team in the regular season and have won the battle of the boards on that end of the floor in this series. They’re not the Boston Celtics, who have two jump-shooting bigs, eschew offensive rebounds for the sake of better transition defense, and totaled just 31 offensive boards in six first-round games.

Pacers offensive rebounding
Game OREB OREB% 2CP
Game 1 11 31.4% 20
Game 2 7 22.6% 8
Game 3 18 37.5% 20
Game 4 16 39.0% 19
Game 5 12 28.6% 24
Total 64 32.5% 91

OREB% = Percent of available off. reb.

The Pacers’ two big men play in the paint, they know the Knicks aren’t a fast-break team, and they’ve already grabbed more than twice as many offensive boards (64) as the Celtics did against New York. Roy Hibbert has 10 more offensive rebounds (26) than Tyson Chandler has defensive rebounds (16).

Knicks coach Mike Woodson has repeatedly pointed to the Pacers’ offensive rebounds as the difference between wins and losses. Indeed, the Knicks have won the two games in which they kept the Pacers’ offensive rebounding percentage under 30 percent, though Indy still managed to rack up a ton of second-chance points in Game 5.

Note 1: You can register second-chance points without an offensive rebound. On four occasions in Game 5, the Knicks blocked an Indiana shot out of bounds or committed a loose-ball foul on a defensive rebound, with the Pacers scoring subsequently. That helps account for the 24/12 conversion rate.

Despite all the offensive rebounds, the Pacers have still attempted far fewer shots (367) than the Knicks have (406) in this series. Part of the reason is that Indiana has gone to the free-throw line a lot more (130-89), but turnovers are also a big story.

The Pacers ranked 29th in turnover percentage in the regular season, committing 16.2 turnovers per 100 possessions. That number is at 19.8 in this series. If it was any lower, Indiana would be preparing for the Heat right now.

Pacers turnovers
Game TO Live-ball NYK Pts Off
Game 1 16 4 13
Game 2 21 11 32
Game 3 17 7 20
Game 4 16 7 12
Game 5 19 12 12
Total 89 41 89

This is what the Knicks’ defense is meant to do. They pressure the ball, trap pick-and-rolls, and double-team the post, trying to force their opponent into miscues and willing to concede weak-side 3-point attempts if the opponent can move the ball quickly enough. Against this opponent, it’s a sound strategy (though, with defenders out of position, it also contributes to the defensive rebounding issue).

The Pacers have committed a lot of turnovers in every game of the series, but there’s a difference between dead-ball turnovers (offensive fouls, traveling, throwing the ball out of bounds — which the Pacers are very good at) and live-ball turnovers (strips, pass deflections, interceptions, etc). And not coincidentally, the Knicks have won the two games in which the Pacers have committed more than 10 live-ball turnovers.

Note 2: Live-ball turnovers are always recorded as a steal for the opponent. Dead-ball turnovers are not. This makes it easy to tell how many of each there were.

Paul George, as great as he’s been defensively, has as many turnovers (25) as his next two teammates combined (David West has 13 and George Hill has 12). And if Hill is still out with a concussion, George will need to handle the ball more, which is obviously not a good thing for the Pacers’ offense.

Neither team is going to shoot well in this series. That fact has clearly been established. The Pacers just aren’t a good shooting team in the first place, and the Knicks are going against the No. 1 defense in the league.

For New York, staying alive is about cleaning the glass. For Indiana, finishing the series off is about taking care of the ball.