TrueHoop: Richard Jefferson
- Tim Frank of the NBA: "Tonight's NBA games will be played. We are still assessing the situation with regards to the rest of the week."
- Andray Blatche got an assist from some first responders.
- What's going to replace James Harden's beard as the icon of Thunder fanhood? The Lost Ogle offers up 11 nominations.
- Matt Yglesias, Slate's business and economics blogger, on the Harden deal: "[M]y real critique is that the Thunder don't seem to be considering the optionality involved in resigning Harden. Having the guy under contract for a multiyear deal doesn't just carry with it the right to employ Harden's basketball services; it carries the right to trade the right to employ him at any time. So if it did come to pass that the Thunder were a championship-caliber team and nonetheless running some kind of intolerable operating loss, they could always trade him then (or, better, they could trade Westbrook). The existence of the luxury tax can lead to a kind of overthinking and irrational sequencing about these things. When considering whether or not to sign a player for $X million, the question to focus on is whether he produces more than $X million worth of basketball services. If he does, then he's a valuable trade asset at any time. And the luxury tax should be understood as being assessed on the entire team payroll rather than having the entire hit arbitrarily assigned to whomever happens to be the last player you signed."
- Once everyone in the starting lineup is healthy and and the meet-and-greet is over, the Lakers are going to be a bear to defend. Brett Koremenos of Grantland breaks down five devastating sets from five title contenders, including the Lakers' "slot pick-and-roll into high-low" scheme.
- Something we often forget about rookies playing their first regular season game in the NBA: Many of them are taking the floor against their idols. That has to be a bit of a jolt, as Portland's Damian Lillard tells it toward the end of his most recent installment of "License of Lillard."
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus unveils his final SCHOENE predictions for the season. Denver and Atlanta look strong. Oklahoma City and Indiana fall a few rungs. And who projects to have the No. 2 offense in the NBA? Your Minnesota Timberwolves.
- The best in Nikola Pekovic propoganda this side of Podgorica.
- Says here that Eddy Curry will probably start opposite Dwight Howard in the Mavericks' opener in Los Angeles, as Chris Kaman nurses a right calf injury.
- One NBA scout has some unkind words for the Golden State Warriors. From his perch, Richard Jefferson causes headaches, David Lee was known to some Knicks teammates as FEMA because he was never there when you needed him and Mark Jackson doesn't have a feel from the game.
- There aren't any industry studies, but I'd guess there are very few 15 year olds in North America whose Moms chaperoned them to the tattoo parlor -- Wizards rookie Bradley Beal is a notable exception. From Michael Lee in the Washington Post: "Besta Beal joined her son at the tattoo parlor when he got his first ink at age 15, and he needed her permission, because otherwise, 'she would’ve killed me,' Bradley said with a laugh. Beal provided all of the artwork on his arms ... "
- Media outlets across the nation are publishing endorsements for the presidential election. The ClipperBlog editorial board weighs in and endorses ... Eric Bledsoe for Clippers starting shooting guard: "Across the league, NBA head coaches are facing tough choices as they go to fill out their lineup cards for opening night. Candidates have campaigned for spots since the start of training camp, hoping to show they have what it takes to get the job done. Some races were over before they began -- the incumbent's hold on the seat just too strong. But there are those, like the fight for the Clippers' second starting backcourt spot, that keep coaches up at night. Now it's time to make the call ... After thorough review of the candidates, we believe that the player best equipped to fulfill the necessary responsibilities of starting alongside Chris Paul is 22-year old Eric Bledsoe."
- Can Rajon Rondo make the leap to first-team all-NBA?
- Don't you just hate it when you realize that a player you can't stand is, in fact, a big-time contributor? Aaron McGuire of Gothic Ginobili on Jason Terry: "At some point, people who dislike Jason Terry -- myself included -- need to step back and simply start appreciating his production. And let's get this straight now -- I am no fan of Terry's. I think he's bombastic, self-obsessed, and preening. He needs to realize, at some point, that he is not an airplane ... But you know what? He probably was underrated in #NBARank, and in a general sense, Terry is of inconceivably low repute to a vast majority of the NBA's fans. And it makes no sense to me. Last season, Terry was the 5th best shooting guard in the NBA. Really. There were the obvious betters -- Kobe, Wade, Harden, Manu -- and you could make a reasonable case that Joe Johnson was better. Beyond those five? Nobody."
- Our friends at Ball in Europe, without an NBA franchise on the Continent, are considering which NBA team to adopt as their own. You can cast your vote here.
- Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones celebrates the release of Stephen Jackson's "Lonely at the Top," featuring Kevin Durant.
- Did you hear about the time Matt Bonner dragged Jackson to a Coldplay concert?
- Marreese Speights would like to remind you that there are 13 other teams in the Western Conference besides Oklahoma City and the Lakers.
- Serge Ibaka tells us how Brooklyn is like Brazzaville.
Before Wednesday night, Neal had only one attempt this season in the final five seconds to win or tie a game -- missing a three-point attempt in the final seconds against the Suns on April 13 that would have tied the game.
From the Elias Sports Bureau: This was the first time in Spurs history that they avoided elimination from a playoff series with an overtime win. Prior to Neal, the last player to make a game-tying three-point field goal with less than one second remaining in the fourth quarter of a playoff game was the Detroit Pistons Chauncey Billups in 2004 against the New Jersey Nets. The Nets won that game in triple overtime.
A lot of credit for Wednesday's win goes to Manu Ginobili, who made a tough two-pointer with his foot on the three-point line to cut the Spurs deficit to one point with just over two seconds left in the fourth quarter. Ginobili, who struggled in Game 4, bounced back with 33 points on 10-of-18 shooting. The Spurs are 8-0 when Ginobili scores 30 or more points in the playoffs.
OTHER NBA ACTION:
The Oklahoma City Thunder eliminated the Denver Nuggets behind a dominant performance by Kevin Durant. With the Thunder trailing by nine points with 3:30 left in regulation, Durant led the comeback by outscoring the Nuggets 14-6 by himself. Durant hit five of six shots in that stretch and finished with 41 points, which tied a playoff career high. Of the four 40-point playoff games this season, Kevin Durant has two of them. The Thunder are now 7-0 this season when Durant scores 40 or more (5-0 in the regular season, 2-0 in the postseason).
- More Fast Draw goodness, this time from Andrew McNeill of 48 Minutes of Hell. We generally regard the Spurs' Richard Jefferson as a spot-up shooter best positioned in the corner, but through video analysis and diagrams, McNeill demonstrates that Jefferson does his best work moving off the ball and diving to the hole.
- J.J. Redick: Efficiency Machine. Eddy Rivera discusses Redick's breakout 2009-10 campaign at Magic Basketball: "Redick scored 1.23 points per possession (league average was 1.08 points per possession). Not bad at all. This had a lot to do with the fact that Redick shot very well from the three-point line and free-throw line, while taking great care of the ball. Because threes and free-throws are two of the most efficient shots in basketball, Redick is optimizing his output on offense and not wasting many possessions in the process. That is efficiency, folks."
- Smart primer on true shooting percentage from Ben Q. Rock at Orlando Pinstriped Post.
- Tom Ziller on the virtues of summer international play, as illustrated by Omri Casspi: "International basketball is the window to the essence of a player's potential. Look at Omri Casspi, star of an Israeli team competing in EuroBasket qualifiers. Casspi had a mixed-bag rookie season ... But in Europe this summer, Casspi has revealed so much more. Casspi has been a simply explosive scorer at the unfamiliar power forward position. In Saturday's win over the very good Montenegro, Casspi scored 30 points in 33 minutes on an array of deep shots and drives. The Kings thought they were drafting a potential poor man's Hedo Turkoglu. During Casspi's rookie season, he looked like he'd instead be a bigger Bobby Jackson. Playing for Israel? He looks like the second coming of Peja Stojakovic. If the Kings are paying attention, they will say new and exciting ways to feature the Israeli in the Evans-led offense next season."
- Tim Duncan vs. Karl Malone: Discuss.
- For all of the young speedsters who fill the league's point guard ranks, guys who can post up at the 1 bring something else to the table.
- Mike Schmitz of Valley of the Suns puts together a reel of Josh Childress' defensive highlights from Europe. Schmitz goes the extra mile for his readers: "In case you have trouble identifying him, he’s No. 6 with the afro."
- If nothing else, Trevor Ariza is a fascinating player to evaluate. Ariza is somewhat of a moving target. There's a constant set of properties most players carry with them, but not Ariza. The Ariza playing the 3 in the Lakers' triangle bore little resemblance to the Ariza in Orlando. And the Ariza in Houston prior to the Kevin Martin deal played nothing like the Ariza who flourished after Martin's arrival. What will Ariza look like playing alongside Chris Paul in New Orleans?
- Andre Iguodala continues to play well for Team USA, and his top-shelf defense has been his most valuable asset. Andrew of The 700 Level was at Madison Square Garden for the U.S. vs. France game: "Perhaps most tellingly, 'Dre was also the court for almost the entire first half, leading the team in minutes by far before checking out for good during the third-quarter line change. It's emblematic of the trust that Coach K, who has done nothing but rave about Iguodala since camp started, has in our guy to play defense, make the extra pass and just be a leader that he continues to lead the team in minutes."
- In JaVale McGee's world, most of the people who populate press row would be looking for work.
- WarriorsWorld TV catches up with Matt Barnes.
- Aussies have more fun.
- Reggie Evans tweets, "U can only imagine how my workout was this morning. They was playing Shaq Fu Da Return album. WOW."
- Hornets rookie Craig Brackins would prefer that you take your child off that leash.
- There will be no green and the zeroes will be less pointy on the Minnesota Timberwolves' new jerseys.
- If Chris Paul demands his way out of New Orleans, should he be subject to the same vitriol LeBron James has received? Should the fact that Chris Paul is a point guard color our perception of his desire to play with a better supporting cast? Should Paul have known better when he signed an extension with the Hornets in the summer of 2008?
- The prevailing question when Richard Jefferson opted out of the final year of his contract was, "What is he thinking leaving $15.2 million of guaranteed money on the table?" After agreeing to a 4 year/$38.9 million deal, Jefferson's decision appears pretty savvy -- and informed -- in retrospect. Timothy Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell on Jefferson's gamble: "Turns out that Jefferson knew more than his critics: he just parlayed 15 million into 38. With a possible lockout and a more frugal CBA looming large on the horizon, Jefferson has locked himself into more guaranteed money over the next 4 years than he would have made otherwise. Credit Jefferson with a shrewd move and big score."
- Grizzlies vice president of basketball operations and general manager Chris Wallace chats with Chip Crain of 3 Shades of Blue about Hasheem Thabeet, O.J. Mayo as point guard, and testing potential draftees for basketball I.Q.
- The prospect of Hedo Turkoglu playing the 4 in Phoenix's offense has rattled some cages, but think back to 2006 postseason when the Suns got within two games of an NBA Finals berth without Amare Stoudemire. Apart from all their early drag-screens and transition pull-ups, the Suns ran a bunch of effective stuff through Boris Diaw at the high post for cutters and shooters on the weak side. Turkoglu will presumably perform a similar function in the offense. Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns enumerates some of his concerns about the Hedo Turkoglu-Phoenix Suns fit.
- A nice story of a summer league standout making good: Jonathan Givony of Draft Express reports that perimeter sniper Gary Neal has agreed to a 3-year deal with the Spurs. Neal set up shop behind the arc and went wild in the first half of the Spurs' final game in Las Vegas.
- Who should be the Magic's starting small forward? Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post pores over some data and concludes that the answer is not Mickael Pietrus. Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball reached the same conclusion.
- Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge sits down with Joe Cronin, one of the Trail Blazers' lead scouts, and talks Dante Cunningham, Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson, among others. Hey, did Cronin just call Patty Mills a "master flopper"?
- Kyle Weidie of Truth About It captured some incredible shots from the baseline of Cox Pavilion during Las Vegas Summer League. His latest target? Cal standout Jerome Randle, who played on the Wizards' squad.
- If you're having trouble finding a satisfying highlight reel of Derrick Favors at Georgia Tech, it might have something to do with the Jackets' guard play last season.
- Steve Perrin of Clips Nation writes that it appears the Clippers and Sofo Schortsanitis just aren't meant to be. After a lackluster performance for the Clips' summer league squad, that might be for the best: "Sofo did NOT acquit himself well in Summer League, even taking all of those things into consideration. Plenty of bigs looked good in Vegas -- JaVale McGee, DeMarcus Cousins, even Derrick Caracter. He didn't handle double teams well, and he didn't convert free throws when he went to the line. It was a terrible environment for him, but even considering its shortcomings, he should have done better."
- Miami rookie big man Dexter Pittman will have to fight like hell to break the Heat's frontcourt rotation. He tells Surya Fernandez of Hot Hot Hoops that he's up to the task.
- Who's Toronto's go-to guy moving forward -- DeMar DeRozan or Andrea Bargnani?
- New Zealand's national team would love to lure Kendrick Perkins. (Hat Tip: Zach Lowe of Celtics Hub)
- Part seven of Basketbawful's Pickup Diaries: Thinking too much about the 1992 Eastern Conference playoffs while taking the most important standardized test of your life. (PG-13)
- Morris Almond's morning win: "back to back Fresh Prince episodes on TBS and Mickey D's breakfast."
- From Basketbawful: "The Nyets are now 30-100 since Devin Harris said 'We knew we were going to be a playoff team' way back on December 9, 2008."
- The average player doesn't have the ball in his hands 80 percent of the time he's on offense. During those instances, where and how he sets up in the half court in relation to his teammates is vital. If you're in a system that relies on good spacing, that's especially true. Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie: "How many times this year do I have to see Bynum post up eight feet from the hoop on the low left block, only to see Artest think it sane to then post up just below Bynum on the same block three feet from the hoop. It defies logic, spiraling from any template. And yet, the Lakers let him do it, likely thinking that they can put up with not playing their best because of Ron while still managing to win the title."
- At Basketball Reference, Neil Paine has assembled the best NBA playoff teams in history in a bracket. I'm drawn to the 8-9 matchup in Pool C: '95 Rockets vs. '77 Trail Blazers.
- Timothy Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell on how Manu Ginobili is solving the Spurs' most intractable problems: "Manu Ginobili is making everyone better, most noticeably the previously pronounced dead on arrival Richard Jefferson. Jefferson is openly campaigning for heavy minutes alongside Manu Ginobili. It’s almost as if Gregg Popovich turned to Manu and said, 'I can’t figure this guy out. Can you fix him for me?' And then Ginobili grabbed Jefferson by the hand, walked into a nearby phone booth, and emerged in Superman garb. Jefferson can be seen just behind Ginobili, with a fistful of cape. Problem solved."
- Skeets and Tas pay homage on St. Patrick's Day to the NBA's prominent Irish contingent -- players like Chris Quinn, Troy Murphy and ... Lamar O'do'm.
- Aaron Brooks longs for the McDonald's Shamrock Shake.
- The Washington Post poses a crucial question for those who like that silky smooth feel on their jumpers:"[I]s there a launch angle that gives the maximum probability of a perfect telegenic swish?"
- In a video interview, Jerry Colangelo tells Bloomberg's Michele Steele, "There could be a seismic switch this summer in terms of power in the NBA and which teams are going to be relevant over the next four or five years."
- Smart column from John Schuhmann looking back at his preseason predictions. Among his miscalculations (shared by many): Eddie Jordan's impact in Philadelphia, the Thunder's stratospheric rise and the Bucks' surprisingly stingy defense.
- Baron Davis' vote for Rookie of the Year.
- ESPN's Stats and Info Department tells us that only two active players have won both an NBA and an NCAA title: Rip Hamilton and Nazr Mohammed.
- There's a limit to what fans with limited expectations can reasonably tolerate. After Minnesota's 152-114 loss in Phoenix on Tuesday night, Canis Hoopus tries to name what Timberwolves fans are experiencing right now and comes up with a neologism called apastration: "It's somewhere in between boredom and apathy, frustration and anger, regret and hope, and all sorts of other polar and not-so-polar dichotomies."
- Why the Most Improved Player award is a misnomer.
- A close look at Ron Artest guarding Tyreke Evans.
- Reggie Evans would like his alma mater to perform a thorough interview process, thank you very much, in its search for a head coach to replace Todd Lickliter.
- Rajon Rondo tells HoopsTV, "I don't care who we play in the Finals."
Spurs.com writer Ben Hunt interviewed Richard Jefferson, and the new Spur demonstrated that he's showing up to training camp with his comedic flair intact.
Coach Pop told us that you, "would provide humor in the locker room." Now the question is, what kind of humorist are you? Are you into cracking jokes or pulling pranks?
You know what, it's just whatever is available. You know I don't really like Tim Duncan very much and I think he is a bad person. You know and he had been saying...
No really, I want all this to go down.
Just some of the things that he has already said makes me know that it is going to be a very, very long year in dealing with him. But I'm looking forward to it. You know he thinks he's some quick-witted guy but he might've bit off more than he can chew in dealing with me.
Can you give us any insight on ...
No, no I will not expand anymore. I'll just say if he calls me "Princess Peanut" one more time, we're probably going to have a fight.
Matt McHale of By the Horns: "It's a bad sign when fans start longing for the halcyon days of the Michael Sweetney Era. And it's especially frustrating for Bulls fans, who had to deal with the loss of Ben Gordon while the league's rich got even richer: Boston got Rasheed Wallace, Cleveland got Shaq, L.A. got Ron Artest and San Antonio got Richard Jefferson ... It makes sense that the fans wanted to see a move. Something big, something juicy. But sometimes, staying the course might be the best plan of action. Or inaction, as the case may be. As things stand right now, the Bulls have a solid core of players -- a budding All-Star-in-the-making, a few savvy vets, some developing youngsters -- and enough expiring contracts to make a major move next summer or at the trade deadline. And Chicago will certainly be a much more attractive free agent destination if the Bulls can match last season's success than if they fell apart because [Carlos] Boozer took his usual 30-40 game vacation and our backcourt players broke down from playing too many minutes. Now, if the Jazz wanted to trade Boozer for some loose parts off the Bulls' scrap pile -- Tim Thomas, Jerome James, Anthony Roberson -- then let's get it done. And while we're dreaming, maybe they'll trade us Deron Williams for Brad Miller's expiring contract. But barring some mass hysteria and insanity in Utah, I guess Bulls fans will have to be satisfied with some incremental progress and hope for the future."
Zach McCann of Orlando Magic Daily: "The only real issue with signing Brandon Bass is that -- at least technically -- he plays the position where the Magic were the deepest before his arrival. Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson gave the Magic talent and depth at power forward, making it the only position with a legitimate starter and legitimate reserve (I'd count point guard as well, but that's arguable). When a team has eight players under contract, as the Magic did last week, an all-star and a promising rookie at one position feels like an overabundance of wealth. So, at the surface, bringing in another power forward doesn't make a whole lot of sense (especially a 6-foot-7 power forward who's seemingly too small to fill in as the team's primary backup center, even if the statistics say otherwise). But that doesn't mean it was a bad signing. I love the move - like most Magic fans do - especially for the relatively inexpensive price tag. For a 23-year-old who seeps potential and has already played meaningful minutes on an upper-echelon team, $18 million over four years is a great deal. Anytime you can attain a quality player for that kind of value, you do it."
Graydon Gordian of 48 Minutes of Hell: "I love watching [DeJuan] Blair work under the boards. He has a mature sense of spacing and soft, accurate hands. His rebounding was particularly notable on the offensive end, where he consistently turned misses by his teammates into open layups and trips to the line (where he went 5-6). As will be the case with during the regular season, Blair was by no means the tallest player on the floor. But he was the only player on either team whose rebounding count reached double digits. Blair's offensive contributions weren't limited to put-backs; he showed promising signs that a well-rounded offensive game may be in his future. On the first play we ran specifically to him, Blair turned and hit a smooth 12-footer. On the next play, he received the ball at almost the exact same spot and used his defenders over-adjustment to take him off the dribble and draw the foul. Blair's mechanics are a little loose, but the origins of a reliable offensive arsenal are there."
(Photos by Andrew D. Bernstein, Doug Pensinger, Noah Graham, Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Assuming this Richard Jefferson for Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto and Kurt Thomas trade becomes official, the Spurs will, no doubt, be declared the big winners not only of this trade, but possibly of the whole week (which includes the draft) and maybe the off-season.
The Bucks are seen as having done well simply by getting rid of Jefferson's inflated contract. Yet there is a lot to recommend the move by the Spurs. As John Hollinger points out, Jefferson has the ability to make the corner 3, which tends to be available in the Spurs' offense. He alleviates the scoring pressure from the Spurs' big three. He can also supply some of the slashing that comes from an injury-prone Manu Ginobili.
But it's hardly a slam dunk.
Remember when Richard Jefferson was an intimidating athlete at both ends of the floor? He's not even 30, but those days are already past.
(Al Bello, Getty Images Sport)
There are three boilerplate concerns:
- Richard Jefferson has a reputation as a guy who speaks his mind, and in so doing causes friction with teammates and coaches. Perhaps the Spurs have an advantage here, with strong team leadership from Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, but they have gone to great lengths to avoid such players in the past.
- Jefferson will be 29 next season, which would seem to make him a player in his prime. Yet Jefferson appears to already be several years into decline. His true shooting percentage and PER were at their peaks in 2005-2006, while his percentages of rebounds, assists, steals and blocks were at their best a year before that. I know, I know, he played with Jason Kidd, who helps to inflate teammates statistics. But the fact remains that he is, now, essentially an average NBA player.
- The Bucks were slightly better, last year, when Jefferson was on the bench.
Here's where the move seems to be slightly higher risk still: This robs the Spurs of cap space in 2010. So the analysis of this deal is not about what they gave up in the trade -- Bowen, Thomas and Oberto are worth Jefferson, for sure. But for this deal, in the summer of 2010, the Spurs would have been Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and oodles of cap space. Who would that have become? Somebody! Potentially somebody really special. And that's the player the Spurs silently included in this deal today.
I understand why they did that. They have a few years left of Tim Duncan's career, and it's going to take a lot of improvement to win the West -- the Lakers are far better at this point, and new threats like the Nuggets, Blazers and Thunder are entering the scene. So there's a mandate to win now, and inspired by that, they have gambled in a way they might not have in the past.
It may well work out beautifully. But this is not a steal, nor is it a no-brainer. It's one of the highest-risk moves the Spurs have made in the Tim Duncan era.
While the cellar-dwellers prepare their draft board, the NBA's elite have some tough calls to make. Will the Lakers pony up for Lamar Odom? Is Hedo Turkoglu worth exceeding the cap for? And the Cavs confront the reality that they're a couple of rotation players away from Eastern supremacy.
Darius Soriano of Forum Blue & Gold: "We're at the point where [Lamar] Odom's true value to this team is no longer a mystery. When you talk X's and O's, he's the player that makes our strong side zone work as he provides the mobility and length to move from one side of the court to the other, pick up flashing big men, guard perimeter players, trap the ball handler, and still recover to the paint to rebound. He's the player that helps create our tremendous offensive spacing - playing as a PF that can initiate the offense, play on the perimeter (and be effective with the jumper or the drive), find creases in defenses to take advantage of the double teams that Kobe and [Pau] Gasol face, and also play in isolation from any position on the court (wing, top of the key, low block, elbow, etc). And when you talk team building and chemistry, he's also a real leader for the Lakers. Many will point to Kobe [Bryant] or [Derek] Fisher as our leaders - and rightfully so - but it's Odom that has been the stabilizer for our squad. He's been the bridge between our first and second units, the guy that organizes team dinners and brings in a chef for training camp, the guy that is in the middle of the huddle motivating and inspriring our guys for the battle ahead, and the guy whose lighthearted nature and devotion to the team keeps the locker room loose. We need this player."
Zach McCann of Orlando Magic Daily: "[T]o other teams, is [Hedo] Turkoglu really worth close to eight figures? John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating isn't perfect, but it's probably the best method we have of comparing players. Turkoglu's PER this season was less than Travis Outlaw, Marvin Williams, Grant Hill, Rudy Gay, Anthony Randolph and Richard Jefferson. And PER often punishes player who are shut-down defenders - something Turkoglu is not. We all know the intangibles of Hedo Turkoglu - his ball-handling skills, his abilities to create mismatches, his knack for shooting well in the clutch - are why he's so valuable to the Orlando Magic. But it can't be ignored how much Turkoglu fell off from last season to this season ... It's not like 30-year-old players regularly bounce back after down years. It's hard to imagine the Magic, or any team, think Turkoglu's career year of 2007-08 is the norm. The Turkoglu we saw this season is likely what most people expect out of Turkoglu going forward. Is 16-5-5 with a poor shooting percentage worth $10 million?"
John Krolik of Cavs the Blog: "A rotation big is hard to find. Really hard to find. And even if Andy [Varejao] comes back, this team, as Ben Wallace's corpse made clear in the ECF, is having trouble filling those minutes, especially considering Joe Smith seemed to be out of the playoff rotation. JJ Hickson is a great prospect, but even he has serious question marks at the defensive ends. The good news: LeBron James can give you 15 absolutely unbelievable minutes at the 4 on a nightly basis. The numbers were eye-popping ... this season when he played at the 4: A PER of 38, 39/11/8.5, and 2 blocks per 48 minutes, a higher net +/- per 48 minutes than his minutes at small forward, and he holds his man to less than a league-average PER defensively. And this is all with Wally [Szczerbiak] holding down the three spot and essentially doing nothing and getting exploited defensively. In the playoffs, Wally was simply too much of a liability. With a true rotation-quality swingman, the Cavs could take advantage of LeBron's ability at the four without leaving a hole, and it's much, much, much easier to get a rotation-quality swingman than a rotation-quality power forward."
(Photos by Noah Graham, Jesse D. Garrabrant, Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
LeBron James, jump shooter? Michael Redd, the paragon of offensive efficiency? Julian Wright, the answer to the Hornets' depth problems? The TrueHoop Network explains all.
John Krolik of Cavs the Blog: "Now, everyone pretty much can agree that LeBron shooting more Jumpers would be a bad thing -- the league's absolute best jump shooters off the dribble shoot jumpers at around an eFG of 47%, and LeBron's overall field goal percentage is at 50%, and when he's at the basket he converts 72% of his opportunities, and that's before you factor in the fouls he draws.
So the theory goes that his making more jumpers would not only help his percentage by having him make the shots he's going to take anyways, but that having a good jumper would 'open up' his game and allow him more space for drives to the basket.
Tonight's game stood as direct evidence against that theory. For the second straight game, LeBron was uncharacteristically unable to finish at the rim early (4-9 in the immediate basket area), or get foul calls. (4 free throws all night, with two of them coming from a dead-ball foul)
So in the third quarter, LeBron went to the perimeter and started firing deep twos. And making them. LeBron had a 14-point quarter, but it didn't open up any more driving lanes-in fact, it just made him shoot more jumpers, as every field goal attempt LeBron shot in the 3rd was from outside the paint. And since all of LeBron's non-layup or dunk shots come against the 1st defender, it didn't open up lanes for his teammates either-the offense became entirely dependant on LeBron making very tough shots, and LeBron went 1-6 on jumpers in the 4th before just deciding to screw it and flying through the entire defense for two left-handed layups, including one after they tried to double-team him 30 feet away from the hoop. Again, LeBron bailed the team out by making the shots."
Rob Mahoney of Two Man Game: "The Mavs could do no right in their 133-99 humbling by the shooting hand of the Milwaukee Bucks, an outing in which the Mavs' offense came up as lame as its defense. If you name a classic defensive blunder, it's likely that the Mavs committed it in this one; the gambles were fruitless, the close-outs on shooters were awful, and the rotations were either sloppy or nonexistent. Milwaukee simply ran a relay race last night, with the baton passing from Ramon Sessions (perfect 7-7 from the field) to Richard Jefferson (near triple-double) to Charlie Villanueva (32 and 10) to Michael Redd (27 points on 16 shots). Not only could the Mavs not keep pace overall, but were virtually beaten at every position. This game is certainly Exhibit A1 in the case against the Mavs' defense."
Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns: "Four losses in five games later and the Suns are moving further and further behind the pack in the West, lucky to stay in a playoff spot if the season ended today only because of the struggles of Dallas after their 114-109 loss in New York. In that stretch the Suns have lost to two teams they should have beaten (Minnesota, Knicks) and suffered an embarrassing blowout (Boston) after losing a hard-fought overtime game in Denver. And nobody has any clue just where the Suns are right now."
THE FINAL WORD Hardwood Paroxysm: Kicking off the "88 Lines About 30 Teams" series. Roundball Mining Company: A video demonstration of why the Nuggets might want to rethink their defensive strategy on the perimeter. Hornets247: Julian Wright builds his case.
When we last left them, the two ex-Arizona players were admitting to a little rivalry. Now that Jefferson has been given some attention for donating $3.5 million for a practice facility at the university, Arenas has responded on his NBA.com blog.
See, I've been donating since I got into the league, so I've donated more than the $3.5 he did for his selfish gym. It's a selfish gym. It's a gym that is celebrating Richard Jefferson. I'm donating to people. I'm helping people. He's trying to be one of the elite Arizona players ever, which he's not right now. Unfortunately, I had to be the one to say that he's like the third favorite. But I think his stock is dropping. He's like fourth now. I don't know what happened to cause it, but he's fourth now. The R-Jeff market is in a recession.
Richard Jefferson gives $3.5 million to Arizona. ESPN's Andy Katz reports:
Jefferson joked, saying that Arizona threatened if he didn't come up with the naming rights then Gilbert Arenas might do it. Jefferson said he didn't want his former college teammate and fellow NBA player to outbid him.
Gilbert Arenas wrote this on his blog a few days ago
Me and Richard, for some reason, always end up having a bragging session when we're around each other and try to out-do one another. For some reason, he thinks he's better than me. He can't fathom that he's only the third best player from Arizona, and I'm No. 1. He just hates that I'm No. 1. He hates to see me on my own video game, he hates that I'm a three-time All-Star, he hates the fact that he only got a bronze medal ... all of that. He is bitter about it.
And I like his take, because while everyone else is dithering about "ooh, should they trade Jason Kidd?" Hollinger seems to sort things into useful categories: either win now or win later. If you're winning now, trade Richard Jefferson for help in the paint, and ride the Carter/Kidd combo 'til it croaks (which might have been last week).
Then there's the "win later" angle, which I'll let Hollinger explain:
The other option is what I call the "dynamite" strategy. This involves dealing Carter AND Kidd, because there's no point in doing one without doing the other. Trade Kidd and you end up with a young team surrounding a 30-year-old Carter who no longer has another veteran around to kick him in the rear when he starts loafing. Trade Carter and you take away the best scorer from a team that already had proven its inability to score in the halfcourt.
Either way it puts them farther from a title than they started, so at that point the obvious solution is to make a long-term play, build a new core around Jefferson, Nenad Krstic, and whatever pieces can be gleaned from the Kidd and Carter deals, and hope the kids gel relatively quickly.
My only worry is that I'm not at all sure Kidd or Carter would fetch all that much at this point. But if it makes sense for anyone to build for the future, it's the Nets who will have both the opportunity and the obligation to impress a whole bunch of new fans when the team moves to Brooklyn likely in 2009 or 2010.
Who knows if it'll happen, but I kind of hope it does. As I have written before, I'd love to see Jason Kidd play alongside Kobe Bryant. I think it is meant to be.