Tag:Ben Golliver
Posted on: October 27, 2010 7:42 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:11 pm
 

Owner Glen Taylor: Timberwolves not contracting

Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor says his organization will not be a victim of NBA contraction. Posted by Ben Golliverglen-taylor We've followed the issue of potential NBA contraction closely in this space, and roughly a week after the possibility of reducing the number of teams in the NBA was first floated, it's still not clear which teams would be in the crosshairs. The obvious candidates are those teams in most desperate shape financially or those in small markets that struggle to support a professional sports team. Already, we've noted that owners for both the Sacramento Kings (here) and the Memphis Grizzlies (here) have said their teams will not be contracted. Another franchise that is often linked to contraction is the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Timberwolves have struggled to put out a winning product and season ticket sales aren't exactly robust in a market that is football, football, football.  Jerry Zgoda of StarTribune.com reports on Twitter that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, who is involved in the current labor negotiations, distanced his franchise from the contraction talk. "I can say Minnesota is not one of the teams that would be contracted," Taylor is quoted saying by Zgoda. So while contraction is being discussed, everyone, including NBA commissioner David Stern, acknowledges, it appears none of the likeliest suspects feel any concern about the possibility that they will go under. In other words, this is inching closer and closer to "idle threat" territory, if we're not there already.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 2:35 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:09 pm
 

Your essential guide to Armon Johnson

Portland Trail Blazers rookie point guard turned some heads during his NBA debut against the Phoenix Suns. Here's everything you need to know aboutarmon-johnson him boiled down in one place.
Posted by Ben Golliver


The Portland Trail Blazers have one of the most bizarre media coverage situations in the NBA. In Portland, they're under a microscope, often receiving the entire sports attention of local television, radio, internet, daily newspapers and alt-weeklies, enjoying perhaps the most obsessive coverage of any small-market team in the NBA. Nationally, thanks to their late-night start times and slow-down pace, plus zero televised games this preseason, the team has existed in a black hole. As such, even hoops die-hards like J.E. Skeets were left to joke that they had no idea who Blazers rookie point guard Armon Johnson was after his impressive NBA debut last night, when he tallied 6 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists in 9 minutes of play and played his patented brand of chest-to-chest pressure defense. Given that TheRookieWall.com named Johnson "rookie of the night" on opening night, I figured it was a good time to get you caught up on the man they call "A.J."   Here are 10 essential Armon Johnson facts that you can use to impress women at the bar.
    1. His first name is difficult to pronounce properly and he's a little sensitive about it, going so far as to explain the proper pronunciation to a press conference room full of reporters when he was announced to the media following the 2010 draft. There's a Jamaican-esque emphasis on the "Mon" after a soft r. It's pronounced "ar-MAHN," not "AR-mun."

    1. Johnson originally hails from Chicago but was raised in Nevada, and he has known fellow Blazer rookie Luke Babbitt since elementary school. He graduated from Reno's Hug High School (seriously) and his affectionate off-the-court personality makes this detail feel like a major part of his persona.

    1. Johnson was part of the most interesting pre-draft workout scene in Portland over the last three years. After his workout, Johnson was the only player to stick around afterwards to work on his jump shot with the team's shooting coach and hobnob with the team's scouts. Less than two hours after his workout finally ended, the Blazers sent millions of dollars to the Golden State Warriors to buy the right to switch second-round draft picks. The Blazers used that new pick, No. 34 overall, to draft Johnson.

    1. Blazers scouts simultaneously adore Johnson and work aggressively to manage expectations for him. Perhaps this is a function of the point guard hype carousel that has gone on in recent years in Portland (a list of casualties: Sebastian Telfair, Jarrett Jack, Sergio Rodriguez, Jerryd Bayless). This summer, they saw his ceiling as an Eric Snow type of leader at the point guard position and, despite a strong preseason, they continue to hold to that as Johnson's ceiling.

    1. The strengths of Johnson's game are his tenacity on defense, his overall quickness, his passing ability and his good size and strength.

    1. The biggest weakness of Johnson's game is his jump shot. Denver point guard Ty Lawson set an NBA record by sagging 21 feet off of Johnson during a preseason game. Also, his aggressive defense and use of his hands will lead to a lot of perimeter foul calls this season. Lastly, while some opposing guards have yet to pick up on this, Johnson is left-handed and greatly favors his dominant hand when attacking the defense off the dribble or looking for his shot.

    1. Why wasn't Johnson a first round pick? Two main reasons. First, his small-conference college team, Nevada, was off the map because they didn't make the NCAA tournament last year. It looked even worse because the Wolfpack had two NBA prospects in Johnson and Babbitt, and Johnson, as point guard, caught a lot of the blame for this lack of post-season success. Second, he shot just 23.9% from the college three-point line last year, leading to questions about how far that number would plummet at the NBA distance.

    1. A Blazers assistant coach gushed that Johnson is "a left-handed Nate McMillan" after a Las Vegas Summer League game this year and Johnson's willing-to-do-anything hungriness has clearly endeared him to his new coach, who has been notoriously difficult on young point guards in the past.

    1. Johnson figures to carve out a nice role for himself in Portland's rotation this year, as the team's second unit is stocked with shooters like Rudy Fernandez and Wesley Matthews, who can make up for Johnson's lack of range. Another factor playing in Johnson's favor is that McMillan will likely lean heavily on Matthews to close games alongside Brandon Roy in the backcourt. Using Johnson to tire the opposing team's point guard seems like a smart strategic move to make life easier on Matthews and Roy, neither of whom are true point guards.

  1. The final question for any point guard in Portland is: "Does he have Brandon Roy's endorsement?" Even an established veteran like Andre Miller hasn't been able to escape that one. Roy liked what he saw last night. "Armon gave us 10 minutes. A really good 10 minutes. It gave us a chance to come in and finish that game. Armon did a wonderful job this preseason working every day to get better, watching a lot of film, and he showed it out there. He showed what he's been working on. That wasn't a fluke."
Posted on: October 27, 2010 12:36 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:08 pm
 

At The Buzzer: Portland 106, Phoenix 92

Blazers beat Portland behind new acquistions, Suns struggle without Amar'e.
Posted by Ben Golliver

Thanks to a rash of injuries for Portland and a rash of poor roster construction for Phoenix, Tuesday night's match-up between the two teams was a perimeter-dominated affair by necessity, with Brandon Roy and Jason Richardson traded baskets and a group of Portland guards trying to offset a hot shooting night for Steve Nash.

Portland came strong out of the gates, thanks to an extended season-opening player introduction that had the Rose Garden crowd hyped, but a red hot shooting third quarter (14-18 from the field, 4-4 from deep) for the Suns had Phoenix up six, 81-75, after three.

Blazers coach Nate McMillan experimented with a number of unorthodox lineup combinations, including a four guard lineup that featured rookie point guard Armon Johnson, Wesley Matthews, Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez, in an attempt to keep pace with Phoenix. Johnson, a physical lefty point guard, was a much-needed spark plug, as he attacked the basket and played physical defense in an unexpectedly long fourth-quarter run.

It was a sloppy night for both teams, with Nash committing nine turnovers by himself, but the Blazers pulled away late, corralling a number of offensive rebounds to extend possessions and building a double-digit lead with three fourth-quarter three-pointers from Nicolas Batum.



Posted on: October 26, 2010 5:38 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:05 pm
 

Bucks keep brain trust: Hammond, Skiles extended

The Milwaukee Bucks have reportedly extended the contracts of general manager John Hammond and coach Scott Skiles. Posted by Ben Golliverjohn-hammond

Marc Stein of Yahoo! Sports reports on Twitter that the Milwaukee Bucks have "exercised the option on the contract of GM John Hammond and extended the contract of coach Scott Skiles through 2012-2013 season." The moves are of the no-brainer variety, as the Bucks have been a team on the rise ever since April 2008, when Hammond was hired away from the Detroit Pistons, where he had served as Vice President of Basketball Operations under Joe Dumars. At the time of his hire, the Bucks were in the midst of a 26 win season.  The following year, they improved to 34 wins and, after Hammond boldly drafted point guard Brandon Jennings in the 2009 lottery, the team won 46 games last season to make the playoffs for the first time since 2005-2006. Hammond was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2010, reflecting the team's progress. Skiles is credited with an intense work ethic, defensive approach and has earned all sorts of praise for his ability to guide Jennings's development. A former NBA guard himself, Skiles has an 80-84 coaching record in two seasons with the Bucks. Prior to signing on in Milwaukee, he coached both the Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns. Last year, Skiles finished second to Oklahoma City's Scott Brooks for the NBA Coach of the Year award. The contract extensions are signs of stability and progress for the Bucks, a team that should compete for the Central Division title this season.
Posted on: October 26, 2010 4:34 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:05 pm
 

Heat Stroke: LeBron James hexed by witch doctor

A Cleveland radio disc jockey has issued a "hex" on Miami Heat star LeBron James. Posted by Ben Golliver We found our silver medalist in the LeBron James Hater Olympics.  While no one will surpass the racist tweeter from last week, Rover, the host of Cleveland's "Rover's Morning Glory" FM radio show, comes in a close second now that he has hired a witch doctor to hex Miami Heat forward LeBron James and has publicly wished for James to suffer an injury. James, of course, spurred the Cleveland Cavaliers to join up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Heat this past summer. WOIO.com has more details on the planned hex.
Rover, host of the syndicated Rover's Morning Glory program hired a witch to place a curse on Miami Heat star LeBron James the morning of the Heat's season opener, Tuesday, October 26. Rover says the curse is payback for the insensitive, pompous way James abandoned the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The witch, Samhain and assistant witch Lady Magick used bones, blood, and James' Miami Heat jersey to place a hex on the star live on the air. Rover asked all Cleveland-area listeners of the show, which is based at 100.7 WMMS-FM, to simultaneously focus all their negative energy towards James during the ceremony.
"A broken leg, hand or other debilitating injury would be the best outcome," says Rover. "At the very least a sordid sexual misconduct accusation against LeBron would be alright I suppose."
Shake. My. Head.
Posted on: October 26, 2010 4:03 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:05 pm
 

Dwyane Wade as super hero in new Jordan Brand ad

Jordan Brand releases a new Dwyane Wade commercial, starring the Heat guard as a superhero.  Posted by Ben Golliver   Yesterday, we linked up a candidate for best sneaker commercial of the decade: LeBron James and his address to all of his summer critics. A work of art by advertising agency Wieden and Kennedy for Nike, James's commercial cleared the air more forcefully and effectively than 1,000 press conferences. A day later, Jordan Brand has dropped its latest spot starring Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade. This commercial's goal is far less ambitious: rather than put forth a defense of the events from this past summer, it simply looks forward to the excitement of the new-look Heat, tagging along as Wade flies through the sky and rides recklessly on a motorcycle like a James Bond style action hero. Take a look at the video... "Tell them to bring the rings back to Miami," Wade says at one point. The commercial closes with Wade smiling as he looks at a briefcase holding his jersey, "Now this, my friend, is going to be fun." It's the right note for Wade to strike, because he has nothing to apologize for and nobody to apologize to for what happened this offseason. He recruited two of his friends (James and Chris Bosh) to form a super team and he now aims for a second NBA title. Simple, effective and familiar, this spot won't have nearly the staying power of LeBron's, but that doesn't mean it isn't intelligent and well-intentioned too.
Posted on: October 26, 2010 3:47 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:05 pm
 

Minnesota's Jonny Flynn gone till November

Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Jonny Flynn is expected out until mid-November, at the earliest. Posted by Ben Golliverjonny-flynn Yesterday, we noted that Minnesota Timberwolves wing Martell Webster, acquired in a draft day trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, underwent back surgery and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks. In another piece of Timberwolves injury news, Jerryd Zgoda of StarTribune.com reports on Twitter this afternoon that Minnesota's presumed point guard of the future (at least until he's inevitably traded) Jonny Flynn, a second-year player out of Syracuse, "predicts he'll be back playing games in mid to late November." Flynn continues to recover from hip surgery this offseason. A sensation at the 2009 Las Vegas Summer League, Flynn has booster Rockets going to the basket off the dribble, but struggled to run the team's offense during his rookie season. His personality and work-ethic are tops in the league, and he would be a media darling if anyone actually cared about the Timberwolves. The Timberwolves could have replaced Flynn with either Ty Lawson or Ramon Sessions, but both were traded. 2009 lottery pick Ricky Rubio would have been another good option, but it will be 100 degrees on Christmas in Minneapolis before the Spanish sensation ever suits up for general manager David Kahn and company.  So, in Flynn's absence, veterans Luke Ridnour and Sebastian Telfair (weird to call Telfair a veteran, but it's true) will pick up the point guard slack for coach Kurt Rambis.
Posted on: October 26, 2010 2:50 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:06 pm
 

How should the NBA punish the Knicks?

The New York Knicks reportedly made repeated illegal contact with college players. Assuming the allegations are true, whatdavid-stern  punishment from the NBA is appropriate? Posted by Ben Golliver Earlier, we noted a Yahoo! Sports report  that quotes multiple players saying that they illegally worked out with a New York Knicks scout prior to the draft period.  Surely, executives and scouts throughout the NBA work the corners of the permissible contact guidelines, looking to achieve the slightest of competitive advantages by improving their intel on draft-eligible players. Stories are told about this or that executive watching a workout that he wasn't supposed to, and the NBA has already levied large fines and suspensions in the past in the most innocuous of cases, including Denver Nuggets coach George Karl sitting in on a workout that included his own son Coby . But there are a number of aspects to the Yahoo! report that should lead NBA Commissioner David Stern and the league office to throw the book at the Knicks, assuming the allegations are true.
  • First, the repeated contact. By illegally contacting multiple players over multiple years, the Knicks can't plead ignorance or "this was a one time thing". The allegations reveal a pattern of illegal behavior, which violates not only the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement but also even the most minimal attempt at fair play. The result is a serious black eye for the league and 29 other ticked off teams.
  • Second, allegations of contact with a player the team eventually drafted. A bad situation for the Knicks gets infinitely worse here because it involves Wilson Chandler, a player the team drafted after he was illegally worked out and who continues to play for the Knicks today. By contacting Chandler before the 2007 draft as alleged, the Knicks not only received a competitive advantage during the draft process, they continued to benefit from that competitive advantage every time he plays a game. While Chandler might not be a star player, he's averaged double figures over the course of a three-year career with the Knicks. Are we really supposed to believe there was no connection between the workouts and the eventual draft pick? Chandler's selection implicates Knicks management (and potentially its ownership and coaching staff, basically anyone that was in the draft war room) in this mess, undercutting any "rogue scout" excuse.
  • Third, the fact that Brandon Rush was injured during one of the illegal workouts, and apparently lied to his college coaches about the circumstances surrounding the injury, doesn't help matters. While Rush says no one told him to lie, and that may very well be true, his conduct speaks to the willfulness of his participation in the illegal contact. Rush, on some level, knew that what he was doing was wrong, or at least wasn't 100% right. That's a huge slippery slope for the league office, who is tasked with protecting the best interests of players during the draft process and ensuring competitive balance for all 30 teams.  
Taken together -- the repeated nature of the illegal contact, capitalizing on the competitive advantage by drafting a player that was illegally worked out, and the fact that the workouts included players who understood to some degree that they were not legitimate -- the league office has a very, very serious situation on its hands.  If everything sticks, Stern has little choice here. Unless he puts his foot down, and hard, he sends a message to 30 competitive GMs and 30 competitive scouting departments that there are rules, but they don't really matter. With that message comes all sorts of other messages: we don't truly care about protecting our (future) players, we don't care if the draft process is fair, we don't care if you flaunt our rules over and over again.  That is all bad, a horrible look for the NBA, a league that has dealt with fair play accusations in the recent past thanks to the Tim Donaghy scandal. Surely, the league will conduct a thorough investigation of the allegations. If everything comes back as reported, I would expect the Knicks to be in Joe Smith territory. Roughly 10 years ago , the Minnesota Timberwolves were levied a seven-figure fine and stripped of multiple first-round draft picks for reaching an illegal contract agreement with Smith. What the Knicks did here, particularly with Chandler, is much closer to what the Timberwolves did with Smith than what George Karl did with his son: illegal action that was repeated, beneficial and willful.  A seven-figure fine and the loss of multiple first-round draft picks (although the Knicks have done a nice job of stripping themselves of picks by trading them away) seems appropriate. The NBA draft process simply can't turn into the wild, wild west.
 
 
 
 
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