TrueHoop: Tarence Kinsey
- I like Phoenix over Portland in a tough, 7-game series, but Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns aptly points to a huge concern for Phoenix: "I’m not sure if the Suns have a plan to keep Camby off the boards, but they sure need one. When the Suns win the rebounding battle, they often win the game, and believe it or not they out-rebound their opponents. Controlling Camby is one of Phoenix’s biggest keys to the series in my mind."
- Daryl Morey to Jason Friedman on elite free agency movement this summer: "I actually think they’ll all go sign-and-trade. Even the teams with room often will sign-and-trade into the room and get something back from the team. A free agent is picking where he wants to go more or less, so he eventually tells the team, 'I want to go there,' and the team doesn’t want to lose him for nothing, so they try to work out some sort of arrangement."
- For those who believe Shawn Marion lacks that killer instinct. (Hat Tip: Two Man Game)
- Orlando-Charlotte might be the series with the lowest Q Rating, but it's a chance to watch a chess match between two of the more cerebral coaches in basketball. Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball talks with Queen City Hoops' Brett Hainline about what the Bobcats need to do to compete with the Magic. Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie makes a pointed argument that the Magic can't afford to have Rashard Lewis go M.I.A. if they want to be playing in June.
- Few teams have a less certain future than the Chicago Bulls, writes Matt McHale of By the Horns: "Rose and Noah are the foundation of the team. Beyond that, anything is possible. The Bulls are going to be rebuilt over the summer. In the end, this season has been about developing Derrick, Joakim, and even Taj. To that extent, the season was a success."
- At Basketball Prospectus, Kevin Pelton and Bradford Doolittle offer all kinds of great stuff headed into the first weekend of the postseason. In the Lakers-Thunder preview, Pelton touches on my biggest concern for Oklahoma City: "When Durant has the basketball and the starting lineup is on the floor, only Jeff Green (33.3 percent) is any kind of threat from beyond the arc, which will allow the Lakers to offer help to Artest." As vulnerable as the Lakers seem right now, their proficiency for overloading defensively in the half court is still very, very strong. A team like the Thunder which doesn't shoot well from the perimeter and has few ball-movers can have a lot of trouble against that kind of strong-side pressure.
- The 1st Annual Tarence Kinsey Award goes to ...
- Liberty Ballers itemize what's gone wrong in Philadelphia.
- Darius Soriano of Forum Blue & Gold jots down a playoff wish list that includes more insults from Ty Lawson and traffic paralysis in central Los Angeles sometime in mid-June. As someone who uses Figueroa Street as a primary north-south thoroughfare, I'll concur on the first and punt on the second.
- Bethlehem Shoals and Tom Ziller apply Bill James' log5 method to prognosticate the first-round playoff series. Bulls fans, look away.
- You'll need at least $200 for a seat in the lower bowl at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City next Thursday night for the Thunder's first home playoff game.
- How a New England transplant and die-hard Red Sox fan came to love the Thunder and started to warm to the NBA.
- Zaza Pachulia isn't impressed with Mo Evans' spring fashion.
Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
- Anthony Morrow set a new Summer League record with 47 points against the Hornets.
- Joe Alexander, as much as anyone on the Bucks' roster, will benefit from Brandon Jennings' fluency at running the break. Alexander can run the floor well for a combo forward, and knows how to fill the lane in transition. Thursday, he also harnessed his athleticism and got points driving to the hole with authority against some slower Toronto defenders. He also ran the pick-and-roll as the ball man effectively. All in all, another good outing for Alexander.
- DeMar DeRozan: moving well off the ball. In the second quarter against the Bucks, he made a beautiful back door cut to the hole from the weak side the instant he recognized that the defense was sloughing off him a bit. The result? A perfect lob pass from Quincy Douby, and a vicious slam by DeRozan. He was also undeterred by tight coverage from Jodie Meeks at about 15 feet off the left block. Even with Meeks on top of him, DeRozan managed to get remarkable separation and elevation on his jumper under pressure. Coming hard off screens, DeRozan easily got free from Jodie Meeks. More on DeRozan from Holly MacKenzie here.
- Speaking of Meeks, he's still primarily a spot-up threat, which limits his ability to get to the line (23 attempts from the floor, but only one from the line), so it was nice to see him take it to the hole on occasion ... and finish.
- Meeks and Jennings had great chemistry on Thursday, especially in the third quarter. On a high pick-and-roll for Jennings, the rookie point guard beat the trap. When the help sloughed off Meeks, Jennings kicked a perfect pass to his shooter, and Meeks drained the shot. Meeks' next two buckets from Jennings came in transition. On both breaks, Jennings waited patiently for Meeks to spot up, then perfectly timed his pass to Meeks, hitting him in rhythm. Both shots fell. On a crucial possession in the game's final minute, Jennings found Meeks again on the drive-and-kick, for a 3-pointer that put the Bucks ahead a point. Meeks finished the game with 29 points, including 4-for-8 from beyond the arc.
- Brandon Jennings was really aggressive off screens when he split the trap and recognized that the back line rotation was slow. As a result, he forced fewer bad shots and had an easier time finishing at the cup.
- Apart from Adam Morrison, the Lakers have few recognizable names on their Summer League roster. Morrison didn't play Thursday, which left some additional shots for David Monds. The journeyman forward took full advantage of the opportunities, nailing a slew of mid-range jumpers on his way to 14 points and 6 rebounds -- may not sound like a lot, but the Lakers' summer league team is a little impoverished.
- Chase Budinger put up the best line of the day outside of Anthony Morrow: 25 points on 13 possessions. The forward out of Arizona might have the sweetest stroke in town. The challenge for most pure shooters in the NBA, of course, is finding good looks. This week, Budinger hasn't had any trouble. "He has a knack for getting open," Rockets' assistant Eltson Turner said. "He moves well without the basketball, and you can't leave him. That fits our style."
- On the day he signed a 4-year, $3.8 million contract, DeJuan Blair gave the Spurs a good look at their investment against the Thunder, scoring 20 points on 13 possessions. Blair battled underneath all afternoon, muscling up for putbacks. But there was more to Blair's repertoire, including some wily dribble moves from the top of the key. "They shouldn't have passed on me," Blair said of the Thunder.
- Thunder general manager Sam Presti is collecting versatile pieces to round out an increasingly mature Oklahoma City roster. To that end, Kyle Weaver's game is hard not to like. He wasn't the Thunder's top scorer Thursday, but he gave his team a reliable handle, solid on-ball defense for most of the night on George Hill, and some timely shooting. The Thunder's backcourt is standing room only, but in Weaver, Scott Brooks has a guy who knows his way around the court. For more on Weaver, check out Darnell Mayberry's profile in the Oklahoman.
- In the first half of the Clippers-Grizzlies game, Blake Griffin (No. 1 overall) goes for 12 points and 11 boards, while Hasheem Thabeet (No. 2 overall) goes for 4 points (0 field goals) and 1 rebound. David Thorpe at halftime: "Griffin played as if he was an undrafted player from Bulgaria trying to impress everyone in the place, in search of a job next year. Thabeet jogged around, bumped a few people, and generally seemed uninterested. Passion is a talent."
- Tarence Kinsey wins the Kevin Martin Award: 20 points on two field goals ... but 16-for-18 from the stripe.
- The Warriors' rookies serenade Anthony Randolph on his 20th birthday.
Chase Budinger: Averaging 17.8 point per game on 68% shooting.
Today marks the beginning of the NBA's third season -- the free agency chase and transactional bonanza. The Bucks have a mess on their hands with the departure of Charlie Villanueva. Meanwhile, Ben Gordon and the Bulls enter their third year of contract negotiations.
Rob Mahoney of Hardwood Paroxysm: "In theory, you shouldn't let go of assets without compensation. C-Nuv is a fairly valuable player, as evidenced by the insane amount of money the Pistons will pay him shortly. But did the Bucks really have any call to re-sign him? Was there really any possibility that a non-star scorer should be at the core of this team, tying the purse strings and giving Scott Skiles an aneurysm? [Charlie] Villanueva is a better talent than [Ramon] Sessions, and one that fills what is likely a greater need in regards to both position and skill. Yet, when it came down to deciding between the two, the Bucks' hands were tied. Sessions isn't likely to receive anything more than the midlevel, while the subtle sexiness of Villanueva's game could net him some serious dough. I'm definitely of the opinion that he doesn't deserve that kind of cash to begin with, but that's not really the issue here. The market for Villanueva's services is about to be set, and we'll soon see that the Bucks never really stood a chance. Even if the Bucks reserved the right to match offers for Charlie, the decision was never really theirs. The Bucks' hands were tied when they signed Bobby Simmons to an absurd contract, when they gave Michael Redd more money than he was worth, and when they made Dan Gazuric the richest man ever named Dan Gadzuric. Some of that is mismanagement and some of it is the horrors of small market basketball, but all of it has ensured that Villanueva isn't sticking around with the Bucks."
Matt McHale of By the Horns: "Losing [Ben] Gordon -- his 20 PPG, his big shot-making ability, his enormous biceps -- would partially cripple the Bulls this season, even as it left them with some serious financial flexibility going into the already-fabled Summer of 2010 ... Keeping Gordon would almost certainly mean shipping off Kirk Hinrich, which would sort of make team defense the sacrificial lamb. And who, exactly, would back up Derrick Rose? A sign-and-trade involving Gordon is possible, too. Man, anything seems possible at this point. How long has Gordon's contract been an issue? Three straight summers now? ... However this thing ends, one thing is certain: The Baby Bulls Era is over. Team building blocks are going to be discarded and rearranged. In all likelihood, this squad will look remarkably different in the next year or so. Something unknown (and, currently, unknowable) is being put together here in Chicago, we just don't know what it is yet…and we don't know whether Ben Gordon will be a part of it. "
Timothy Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell: "When the dust settles, Kobe Bryant will have played the majority of his career between two definitive eras. Between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. I suspect Kobe Bryant will be remembered as the best player of his era, but careful historians with caution against a quick response to the question. Kobe is not alone. Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal stand alongside him as the defining players of the post-Jordan/pre-Lebron parenthetical. All three players have won 4 championships. Their accomplishments surpass Hall of Fame talk. They walk where Kobe walks. But here's where it gets fun. LeBron James and Dwight Howard are pounding on the gate, but they've not yet stormed the castle. There is still time for Kobe, Duncan and Shaq to break the tie that exists between them. It's early to say this, but the 2009-10 season will feature 5 legitimate contenders: the Lakers, Spurs, Cavs, Magic, and Celtics. The Nuggets and Blazers could get there, but are still wait and see. Three of the five surefire contenders feature Shaq, Duncan or Kobe. The stage is set for a proper send off. It's not too late to arrive at a definitive answer to the question of who claimed majority ownership of this decade."
THE FINAL WORD
Orlando Magic Daily: Your Orlando Magic, summer league edition.
Warriors World: A Q & A with Davidson assistant James Fox about Stephen Curry.
Cavs the Blog: Learn more about Tarence Kinsey.
(Photos by Rocky Widner, Larry W. Smith, Harry How/NBAE via Getty Images)