Tag:Al Jefferson
Posted on: March 6, 2012 2:15 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 2:22 am
 

Report Card 3.6.12: Celebrating revenge

The Bulls did some celebrating of their own in a beatdown of the Pacers. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore

Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.

Bulls second-half defense The Bulls' win over the Pacers in a "revenge" game for celebration-gate earlier in the month was close in the first half. In fact, the Pacers lead. It was going well. The pace was how the Pacers want it, and the Bulls offense had resorted back to "Rose dribbles around and then passes to Noah in the pinch post who holds it for too long until passing it to someone for a mid-range jumper which misses. Then the third quarter happened, a 33-13 cannibalistic raid which started with the Bulls attacking the Pacers dribble furiously to create turnovers then running out for dunks and transition threes. It was like Chokeholds in Seven Seconds or Less and it turned a great battle into a rout before the Pacers could figure out they were hit.
OKC defense The Thunder won the free throw differential, again. The Thunder had some bizarre offensive possessions again. But when the Thunder absolutely needed to shut down the Mavericks, they did. The defense for OKC has come miles in the last three weeks. They blanketed Dirk and disrupted Dallas' playsets enough to completely block out any chance of a miracle tying bucket. They allowed too many Dirk Nowitzki threes early in the fourth, but their recovery down the stretch was championship level.
Orlando Magic/Toronto Raptors The Raptors have no center, no real power forward, and are playing Jamal Magloire and a series of tweeners. And yet outside of Dwight Howard's dominant 36 points, the Raptors hung with the Magic. That says a lot about both teams. The Magic needed a clutch J.J. Redick three to finish them off and this team simply had no frontcourt to defend Orlando with. That's a problem loss.
Sacramento Kings Essentially, twice against the Nuggets, all the Kings had to do was avoid the exact thing they wound up doing. Don't foul Arron Afflalo on a desperation three-pointer at the end of regulation. Don't miss free throws. Don't let Lawson go ISO with space. And yet they did all these things, twice blowing leads that seemed safe and tossing away a game they had every chance to win.
Clippers composure Kenyon Martin gets T'd up needlessly inside the final three minutes. Blake Griffin gets a technical for a bad fall into Luke Ridnour, then missed both of his free throws for the fouls which started it. Chris Paul misses a tying free throw. For whatever reason, the Timberwolves turn the Clippers into toddlers with buckets on their heads, running into walls and down stairs.



E FOR EFFORT
Dwight Howard (36 points on 20 shots, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks in 26 minutes)
Al Jefferson (25 points on 16 shots, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks)
Kevin Love (39 points, 17 rebounds, huge shot after huge shot in the win)
Posted on: December 9, 2011 2:23 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 4:00 pm
 

Al Jefferson's girlfriend charged with assault

Posted by Royce Young

Al Jefferson's live-in girlfriend has been charged with assault for hitting and biting the Jazz big man, according to the Deseret News.
Shirley Lewis, 38, was arrested about 8:30 p.m. Thursday after she called police from the couple's home near 8000 South and Highland Drive, Cottonwood Heights Police Sgt. Mark Askerlund said. Police determined that it was a domestic violence incident and that Lewis was the aggressor.

Friday morning, Lewis was charged in Holladay Justice Court with assault and domestic violence in the presence of a child, both class B misdemeanors.

Lewis "was in a verbal argument with her live-in boyfriend, Al Jefferson, when she hit him and bit him on the back," a Salt Lake County Jail report states.

Askerlund said two children, ages 3 and 9, were home at the time of the incident. The injuries to the Jazz player did not require treatment.

"It was just abrasions, those types of things," he said. "There were no serious injuries, but it was an assault."

According to the report, alcohol evidently was not involved in the incident, but it isn't known what sparked the argument. Jefferson and Lewis have been dating for several years.

(Also, she's 38? What?)

Lewis was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail Thursday night and was later released. An arraignment on the charges was scheduled Friday morning.

Category: NBA
Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:31 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 2:53 am
 

The EOB Elite 100, 51-60: The World Champ Jasons

Posted by Ben Golliver

Rankings by EOB Staff.

jason-kidd-jason-terry 
This is the fifth segment of the CBSSports.com Eye on Basketball Elite 100, counting down the top-100 players in the NBA. 

Check out the earlier installments: 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61

As we near the halfway point in our countdown of the top-100 NBA players, we take the opportunity to honor two first-time NBA champions who share a first name, a position (guard) and an age bracket (old). Dallas guards Jason Terry and Jason Kidd were both critical components of the Mavericks' run to the 2011 NBA title, highly-skilled role players who outpaced expectations in the postseason to provide franchise forward Dirk Nowitzki with the help he needed to take down the Miami Heat

For their contributions, Terry and Kidd both find themselves in the 51-60 range, along with two Utah Jazz forwards, two polarizing big-dollar pivotmen and four other players who range from young and immensely talented to nearing their last legs.

Without further ado, let's proceed.

60. Al Jefferson, F, age 26, Utah Jazz

2011 Stats: 18.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 49.6 FG%, 20.20 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 62, 53, 62

The wide-bodied Jefferson stared basketball death in the face twice – first by playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, second by tearing his ACL – and he lived to tell about it, playing in all 82 games for the Utah Jazz last season and returning to his near 20-10 form. Jefferson can’t be mistaken for an all-around player: he’s a liability defensively, is a bit of a black hole and he doesn’t boast much range. But he can fill it up around the hoop, take up space in the paint and secure a solid portion of the boards.

There are a lot of parts in Utah’s frontcourt, especially after the Jazz used the No. 3 overall pick to select Enes Kanter, but the fit is questionable and further roster shake-up is definitely a possibility. Thanks to his big-dollar contract that extends through 2012-2013, though, Jefferson is likely to remain in place through next season as a stabilizing force in the middle surrounded by a roster in flux.

59. Brook Lopez, C, age 23, New Jersey Nets

2011 Stats: 20.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 49.2 FG%, 19.33 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 55, 67, 55

Talented, promising seven-footers are rare in the NBA, especially those who boast 20 points per game scoring ability, no major injury history and excellent character.  That’s Brook Lopez, and together his skillset and background combination is rarer than a needle in a haystack. The only problem? It’s a big one: Lopez isn’t a particularly productive rebounder and hasn’t proven to be a game-dominating force in the middle. His rebounding and block numbers took a step back in his third season as a pro and the Nets won just 24 games.

On a better team, Lopez would score less, shoot a lot less and be required to do significantly more dirty work. Still, on anybody’s team, he stands as a solid core piece.

58. Jamal Crawford, G, age 31, Atlanta Hawks

2011 Stats: 14.2 points, 3.2 assists, 1.7 rebounds, 42.1 FG%, 14.29 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 62, 57, 55

Arguably the league’s most fun scorer to watch operate, Crawford has every dribble move you could ask for, plus a pretty shooting stroke to boot. He’s fearless and fearsome with the ball in his hands and he gives the impression that he would be happy to play hoops anytime, anywhere. But during his age 30 season, and his first year under new coach Larry Drew, Crawford saw his scoring productivity take a significant step back (from 18.0 points in 2009-2010 to 2010-2011) even though his playing time remained essentially the same.

That wasn’t great news for Crawford, who was in a contract year and is likely approaching the downside of his career. His defense has long been suspect. Crawford would make an excellent role player on a contender that needed some scoring pop off of its bench and it will be quite interesting to track where he lands during free agency.  

57. Thaddeus Young, F, age 23, Philadelphia 76ers

2011 Stats: 12.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 54.1 FG%, 18.46 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 61, 61, 50

Young probably qualifies as a surprise for being so high on this list. He can thank his potential and his player efficiency rating for that. His overall efficiency is driven in large part by his high shooting percentage and an excellent scoring rate in a reserve role.

Doug Collins leaned heavily on veterans Elton Brand and Andrew Iguodala last season – shocker, I know – but Young was still able to show plenty during his turn through the frontcourt rotation, more than enough to make him a top priority for the Sixers during the free agency period. At 23, and with further development still ahead of him, Young should command a sizable offer. Philadelphia shouldn’t hesitate to match as long as it isn’t totally ludicrous.

56. Ty Lawson, G, age 23, Denver Nuggets

2011 Stats: 11.7 points, 4.7 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 50.3 FG%, 17.99 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 52, 54, 66

A favorite of the advanced stats community dating back to his time at UNC, Lawson entrenched himself as the starter in Denver, so much so that the Nuggets moved Raymond Felton, a starting caliber point guard himself, to the Portland Trail Blazers for Andre Miller, a veteran who should slide nicely into a big-minute backup role. The key to Lawson’s game is exceptional quickness and speed as well as his excellent shooting touch. That makes up for the fact that he’s often an undersized defender, and his toughness helps too.

His minutes and production should continue to rise next season. On a post-Carmelo Anthony team full of questions and free agents, plus a rotating cast of characters, Lawson is the surest thing.

55. Carlos Boozer, F, age 29, Chicago Bulls

2011 Stats: 17.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 51.0 FG%, 18.90 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 68, 47, 56

In his first season as a Chicago Bull, Boozer continued to be who we thought he would be: a multi-dimensional offensive force who doesn’t play much defense and isn’t quite reliable enough to be the No. 2 guy on a title-winning team. On paper, pairing Boozer with center Joakim Noah, a defense and rebounding specialist with energy for days, makes all the sense in the world. Injuries to both players probably slowed their acclimation together and it’s possible Year 2 for the new-look Bulls will be even more profitable than Year 1, which ended with tons of awards and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The new standard has been set though: beat the Miami Heat. A scapegoat has been established too: Boozer. The four years and 60ish million dollars remaining on his contract make the bulls eye on his back even bigger.

54. David Lee, F, age 28, Golden State Warriors

2011 Stats: 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 steal, 50.7 FG%, 17.86 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 60, 58, 52

Speaking of highly-paid and polarizing power forwards, Lee was forced to deal with falling short of big expectations last season as well. Signed as a major money free agent by the Warriors in the summer of 2010, Lee was seen as the much-needed inside presence to complement an up-and-coming backcourt combination of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. Lee’s scoring numbers took a hit playing with the pair, who can each fill it up, raising questions about whether Golden State’s core needs a bit more diversity in its skillset.

All (well, most) signs point to the new Warriors ownership getting the franchise moving in the right direction; whether or not Lee is able to get back to his 2009-2010 contract year production levels will be a major factor in determining how quickly Golden State is able to reach its goal of making the playoffs.

53. Jason Terry, G, age 33, Dallas Mavericks

2011 Stats: 15.8 points, 4.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 45.1 FG%, 15.93 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 58, 43, 59

2010-2011 wasn’t Terry’s best season statistically but there is no question that it will be the campaign he remembers most vividly when he looks back on his career when he eventually retires. Quite simply it was a dream. Terry has entered the fourth quarter of his career arc at 33 years old but he remains an excellent shooter and pick-and-roll operator with a penchant for taking and making shots at opportune moments. He has to worked around defensively because he’s undersized for his position and is getting a bit long in the tooth but Dallas found the right mix, allowing him to focus on what he does best: make shots and talk trash. A key emotional leader, Terry’s confidence never wavered in the playoffs and his swagger put an exclamation point on the Mavericks’ team effort in the Finals.

It’s likely all downhill from here for Terry. But who cares? He reached the pinnacle.

52. Paul Millsap, F, age 26, Utah Jazz

2011 Stats: 17.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, .9 blocks, 53.1 FG%, 19.83 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 54, 53, 53

Thanks to the departures of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer in the last 14 months, Millsap has improbably moved into the centerpiece mainstay role for the Jazz, at least until young forward Derrick Favors has another three or four more seasons to develop. In hindsight, Utah was extremely wise to match a toxic offer from the Portland Trail Blazers when Millsap was a restricted free agent during the summer of 2009. His work ethic, energy and consistency are unquestioned, and Millsap provides valuable contributions both inside and outside on offense.

Will he ever reach All-Star status? Probably not, especially because the Western Conference is loaded at his position. How Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin will get production from Millsap and Jefferson, while also developing Favors and Kanter, remains a bit of a mystery. Until the youngins are ready, though, Millsap is more than happy to trot out his hard hat and lunchpail game 82 nights a year.

51. Jason Kidd, G, age 38, Dallas Mavericks

2011 Stats: 7.9 points, 8.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 36.1 FG%, 14.46 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 49, 44, 64

As with Terry, the 2010-2011 season was the best of Kidd’s career, even if his production was a far cry from the days in which he put up triple-doubles on the regular. Kidd was a pleasure to watch this season as he did so many vital things so well. He knocked down open jumpers. He exhibited excellent shot selection, almost always preferring the extra pass to a contested shot of his own. He orchestrated the halfcourt offense brilliantly, knowing when it was time to force-feed Dirk Nowitzki and when it was time to swing the ball around the perimeter. He defended larger players well, using his quick hands and excellent instincts to more than make up for his lack of lateral quickness. The list goes on and on but he was about as important as any NBA player has been at the age of 38.

For all of that, he got his first ring. A fitting lifetime achievement award for a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Posted on: August 1, 2011 2:47 pm
 

Did Al Jefferson cause the lockout?

By Matt Moore

When Carlos Boozer's time with the Utah Jazz mercifully came to an end last summer, the Jazz had a number of options with what they wanted to do. They could pursue some free agents to fill in the blanks and plan for the future. They could hoard the cash and wait for a rainy day. Or they could make a trade to acquire a quality player.

The Jazz gambled on the latter, acquiring Al Jefferson for pieces to pair with Deron Williams. The Jazz started off lookings pretty solid, a near-guaranteed playoff team. They beat the Heat!

Then the wheels fell off. Then the bottom dropped out. Then the wagon caught fire and flew off a cliff and everyone died. And that's how we got a lockout.

The end.

Okay, not really. Let me explain, though. From the Salt Lake Tribune:
The No. 11 highest paying team on the planet, according to Harris? The Jazz, who shelled out an average of $5.8 million per player and had a total payroll of about $75 million.

“The fact that the Jazz are 11 is … kind of counterintuitive,” Harris said.

The Jazz declined to comment for this story. But Chief Executive Officer Greg Miller acknowledged in April that Utah rolled the dice during 2010-11 and lost “quite a bit” of money, while General Manager Kevin O’Connor has often praised the Miller family’s willingness to spend what it takes to compete in the modern NBA.
via Utah Jazz nearly topped the world in average payroll | The Salt Lake Tribune

So the Jazz pumped more money into the Jazz than the season prior. Sure, but it was only $3 million more. (The Jazz paid out $71.9 million in 2009-2010.) That couldn't have made that much of a difference, could it? 

Well, when a move goes awry like that, the effects start to trickle down.  During the season, interest dwindles (along with folks not coming out of principled loyalty to Jerry Sloan),which affects ticket sales, sponsorship money, merchandising, and all other sources of revenue (many if not all of which are included in the BRI-- Basketball Related Income --  the split of which is being debated in these CBA talks). The Jazz failed to make the playoffs, which meant the Jazz lost all the revenue from their playoff participation, which they obviously had to be counting on. All of this in an ongoing recession which sees everyone evaluating where their money is going. So now you've got the crux of the issue. 

Of course Al Jefferson didn't create the lockout. But the Jazz' situation around their decision to invest in Jefferson (right as it seemed at the time) speaks to the complex elements in play that go beyond "the system's broken." It's not teams that spend a lot which is hurting the league outright. It's teams that spend a lot and don't create enough revenue to cover its investment. It's also in part teams which don't spend a lot and then lose a lot. But what's the biggest factor, there? Teams which make certain decisions which either don't pan out off of huge investments, or don't create revenue because there has been no real drive to do so. You can't just cut spending while still losing income and expect to profit. That's not really a salient business model for these times. 

So when we talk about how the system is "broken," we're really talking about how the system creates catastrophic endings for perilous decision making. This doesn't mean that the entire model is flawed, it means that two things need to simultaneously occur: teams ability to hold onto more revenue in the split needs to be assured (which the NBPA has been amiable to), and teams need to exercise better business practices to increase revenue and not put themselves in a position to fail, then complain when they fail. Al Jefferson seemed like a great move at the time, but it wound up not working out. That's part of business. But if Jefferson gets more in sync with the system and flourishes next to Devin Harris and the next wave of Jazz players, it could wind up being good in the long run. And in those years, the Jazz will cover their losses and pull profit. 

NBA teams shouldn't face economic disaster whenever they make a bad signing or trade. And the Jazz should be encouraged as a small-market team that was willing to spend. But this is the cost of it being a free market, and allowing for competition. We don't want everyone assured of equal success. That provides no incentive for improvement or innovation. And the last thing we need is a fleet of Donald Sterlings walking around. 

Posted on: July 11, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 10:23 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Northwest Division

A look at what is at stake for the NBA's Northwest Division if a whole season was lost due to the lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver.

ricky-rubio

Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise.

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Southeast Division, the Atlantic Division, the Central Division and the Southwest Division. Let's continue with the Northwest Division.  

MINNESOTA Timberwolves


The NBA's worst team won just 17 games last year, had the league's seventh-worst home attendance and is generally mentioned at the top of the list of examples that "prove" the NBA's economic system is broken. That's because their local television, ticket and memorabilia revenue simply cannot compete with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics of the world. Despite all of that, the Timberwolves might very well have more to lose than any other team in the Northwest Division if the league were to miss an entire season.

Let's start with 2009 lottery pick Ricky Rubio, who against all odds took the plunge and decided to finally join up with Minnesota. For multiple seasons, Rubio has represented hope, carrying Timberwolves fans through ugly winters and late-season collapses. The wait was excruciating. The uncertainty about whether he would or wouldn't stay in Europe further into the future made it worse. Now that he's on board, he's been greeted at an airport, introduced to his teammates, sold some jerseys and rallied the collective fan spirit a bit. To lose an entire season would make that interminable wait that much longer. It would also rob Rubio of a valuable development and acclimation year, which would be an absolute disaster. This is a point guard who needs to start on Day 1, entrusted with the full support of his coaching staff and allowed to make mistakes and build chemistry with his teammates while learning on the job. No season means no opportunity to do any of that.

Aside from Rubio, there are financial risks as well. That might be surprising, because the Timberwolves currently are the only team in the NBA that does not have anyone on their books for more than $6.3 million next season, a fairly astonishing accomplishment. Of course, there's a catch: All-Star power forward Kevin Love is on his rookie deal. Indeed, Love is heading into the last pure season of his rookie deal before Minnesota either must issue him a qualifying offer or sign him to an extension. Worse yet, it's possible that Love, one of the league's premier rebounders, will command a mini-max extension or close to it. The point here? He's set to make just $4.6 million next season, a bargain for his production. If the season is lost, the Timberwolves miss out completely on that outstanding value and are one year closer to biting the bullet on extending him without having reaped full benefits. That's tough.

Last but not least, a lost season is the perfect excuse for any franchise to delay tough decisions or to talk themselves into trying to make things work. With an imbalanced roster full of mixed and matched pieces, the Timberwolves, despite their accumulated talent, are going to struggle mightly again next season. The pains of those struggles, theoretically, could be enough to finally convince owner Glen Taylor to pull the plug on president David Kahn, a man who hasn't shown the ability to construct a team and outright wasted two second round draft picks on technical mistakes during the 2011 NBA Draft, by trading a hurt player (Jonny Flynn) and drafting someone who lied about his age (Tanguy Ngombo). A year without games, then, is a year without losses, which means another year for Kahn to preach patience and wiggle out of responsibility for this mess. The sooner Kahn is gone, the sooner this ship turns around. A lost season will make "sooner" feel like never.

OKLAHOMA CITY Thunder

While the Timberwolves need to get headed in the right direction, the Oklahoma City Thunder are already there. With the best designed roster in the league, two young All-Stars, an undisputed Northwest Division title and a Western Conference Finals appearance under their belt already, and a passionate fanbase that is guaranteed to provide 40+ home sellouts next season, the Thunder would happily start the season today. A lost season, then, would be a nightmare.

Name something, anything, and it's at risk for the Thunder. They lose the value of Russell Westbrook playing on a rookie deal. They lose the value of James Harden on a rookie deal. They lose the value of Serge Ibaka on a rookie deal. They lose one year of Kevin Durant's Hall of Fame playing career. They lose another season of playoff experience. They lose a very good chance at making a run at an NBA Finals. They lose a season of having their top eight players (Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefalosha, Nick Collison, Eric Maynor) all locked into affordable contracts. They lose the chemistry and momentum that goes with having an entire nucleus together for multiple years.

What's worse: they have nothing to gain from a work stoppage, other than perhaps the money that would come with increased revenue sharing. Without a single bad or untradeable contract on their books, there is no financial reason OKC would root for a year away from the game. In fact, any change to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that firms up the cap would make it more difficult for the Thunder to keep all this talent in house. That means they wouldn't get the chance to win now and their ability to win later could be compromised.

Usually, young teams that make a deep run through the playoffs can't wait to get back on the court for a second go-around. Multiply that feeling by about 10 and that's the situation facing OKC. 

PORTLAND Trail Blazers

lockoutYou might think the injury-plagued Trail Blazers would welcome some time off to lick their wounds and assess the damage, but missing an entire NBA season wouldn't necessarily be a good thing for this franchise. Really, it's a muddled picture.

The main benefit is clear: the Blazers have a very difficult cap situation next season, thanks to a mini-max contract for guard Brandon Roy, who is apparently no longer capable of reaching his previous All-Star level of play. Saving the $15 million owed to Roy, as well as the $10.5 million owed to aging center Marcus Camby, would be a tempting proposition for most small-market owners. Money aside, saving the miles on Roy's knees wouldn't hurt either.

Blazers owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, however, has dealt with serious health problems in recent years and is clearly in spend-big, win-now mode. He would cut a check tomorrow for five times his team's total salary cap if it meant a shot at the NBA Finals, no questions asked. It's difficult to imagine a financial enticement that would make it worth Allen's while to take a year off. 

Aside from Roy, the other big question is center Greg Oden. Missing an entire NBA season doesn't play in Oden's favor, as he hasn't taken the court for an NBA game since December 2009. A lost season means his layoff would extend nearly three full years to October 2012. That's a long, long time to be away from basketball. Complicating that further for the Blazers is the fact that Oden is a restricted free agent this summer. The Blazers would retain matching rights on Oden if a season was lost but they would be forced to offer him an extension without being able to see whether he recovers fully to be able to take the court and, more importantly, withstand injury once he's out there. Oden could command a mid-level type of offer on the open market, which would be a major investment for Portland, because the Blazers have already committed to nearly $80 million in salary for next season, with contracts to Roy, forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace and guard Wesley Matthews already on the books into the future. Without another center on their roster who is in their long-term plans, though, the Blazers wouldn't have a choice. They'd have to pay up. Given that situation, you want as much information as possible; a lost season would mean no information.

Finally, the Blazers have a big question at the starting point guard position. His name is Raymond Felton, and he was acquired in a draft day trade for previous point guard Andre Miller. Felton is in a contract year and hasn't played meaningful minutes with any of his current teammates, except for a stint in Charlotte with Wallace. Felton will require a good-sized contract extension next summer as well and the Blazers would surely like to see how he gels with their core, particularly Aldridge, before they commit to him long-term. Without any starting quality options on the roster, they would again find themselves stuck in a corner, forced to do what it takes to retain Felton without a readily available back-up plan.

To boil it down: the Blazers have enough questions without a lost season. Missing a full season would simply create an array of complications and made some tough roster decisions that much more difficult and, potentially, costly. 

DENVER Nuggets

Sure, the Denver Nuggets lost franchise forward Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks, but they did an excellent job of stripping their roster down to allow for a quick bounceback rebuilding effort. The Nuggets, somewhat like the Thunder, are in a financial position where their salary cap situation makes it more advantageous for next season to take place unhindered. The Nuggets currently don't have a truly horrible contract on their books, although the mid-level deal for Al Harrington and the $15 million or so left to be paid to Chris Andersen over the next three years are regrettable. Indeed, the Nuggets have committed to less than $40 million in salary for next season, pending a potentially major financial commitment to big man Nene, who has decided to test the free agency waters, and a decision on guard J.R. Smith.

The biggest risks for Denver would be missing out on the value of point guard Ty Lawson on his rookie deal and managing whatever concerns might arise about Denver's ability to use its salary cap flexibility to continue work on its rebuilding situation. Most analysts believe teams with salary cap room will be in a position of strength, regardless of how the new CBA shakes out, so perhaps that uncertainty is more of an annoyance than a true concern. 

The Nuggets have a lot of questions. How will they spend their money? Who will they bring back? Who will they let go? Are the players under contract currently good enough to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference next year or is it better to continue slashing and burning for another season? These are good questions to have because they all point to one fundamental truth: The Nuggets have flexibility thanks to their young, cheap assets. The worst case scenario is that Nuggets fans have to wait a year to watch a promising, athletic upstart group entertain. That's not too bad. 
 
UTAH Jazz

If I'm the Jazz, I'm totally cool with taking a year off. A lost season means that Utah would save $14 million owed to Al Jefferson, $10.9 million owed to Mehmet Okur, $9.3 million owed to Devin Harris and $8.1 million owed to Paul Millsap. While Millsap is probably worth his number, the other three certainly aren't worth theirs, especially on a team that lost its foundational identity when it shipped franchise point guard Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets at the trade deadline.

Right now, Utah's finances are pretty tight, with $61.5 million already committed for 2011-2012. Look ahead just one year, though, and that number drops to $48.7 million. To make things even nicer, Jefferson, Harris and Millsap will all be expiring that season. The Jazz will be poised to take advantage of their new-found flexibility, keeping the parts that fit (probably only Millsap) and dispensing with the rest.

The biggest risk in a cancelled season for Utah would be the lost development for younger guys like Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and 2011 first-round picks Enes Kanter and Alec Burks. In Favors, they have a potential franchise forward who needs to start enjoying a loose leash so he can blossom into the player the Jazz expect him to be. Forcing him to take a year off does him no good and, depending on how he responds, could do him some harm. Kanter, meanwhile, looks like an even bigger risk on paper because he was forced to sit out last year at Kentucky, his only year at the college level, due to eligibility issues and because he hasn't yet tasted the NBA game. A lost season would mean two full years away from competitive basketball, not an ideal situation for someone the Jazz selected with the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft. As for Hayward and Burks, they are lesser concerns. Both have shown promise and clearly have room for improvement. Losing a year wouldn't be critical, but it would be better for them individually if it could be prevented.

On balance, the financial rewards seem to outweigh the development risks for the Jazz.

Salary numbers courtesy of StoryTeller's Contracts.
Posted on: March 14, 2011 8:10 am
Edited on: March 14, 2011 8:30 am
 

Shootaround 3.14.11: Dwyane Wade wins in court

Dwyane Wade wins in court, David Lee holds Kevin Love in check, Tracy McGrady takes a swing at being a labor leader, Chauncey Billups preaches patience and a whole lot more. Posted by Ben Golliver. shootaround
  • The San Francisco Chronicle writes that Golden State Warriors forward David Lee was the key to ending Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love's consecutive double-double streak. "The player guarding Love tonight was not going to be involved in the game on offense," coach Keith Smart said. "He had one objective: That was to make sure Love didn't get the glass. David Lee did a great job of sacrificing. ... "I call David Lee a good basketball player. He was locked in to do a job that was necessary."
  • In case you missed it over the weekend, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger investigates how the NFL Players Union's decision to decertify might influence the negotiations going on between the NBPA and NBA owners.
  • New York Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups says the new-look Knicks are still feeling each other out after the blockbuster trade that brought Billups and Carmelo Anthony to the Big Apple, writes the New York Daily News. "I don't know at what point it becomes a problem," Chauncey Billups said. "We had one real practice yesterday. The trade was weeks ago. We have five new players on the team. It's not that easy. We end up practicing in the games."
  • On Sunday night, we took a look at Boston's historic defeat of the Milwaukee Bucks, in which they allowed just 56 points. The Journal Sentinel quotes Bucks coach Scott Skiles calling the loss "about as humiliating a defeat as you'll ever see."
  • It's come to the point where writers are asking the Utah Jazz whether they've quit on the season. The Deseret News quotes Al Jefferson who says things are still all good. "No. Heck no," Jefferson said. "I hope no one in here have quit, because there's a lot of games to be played and we have a job to do. I can speak for myself and I can speak for a lot guys in there (the locker room), and I know they haven't quit."
Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:37 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 1:48 am
 

Game Changer: Game-winners galore

Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins got tons of late touches, Utah Jazz big man Al Jefferson got a tip in at the buzzer, Kevin Durant stars in an amazing picture and Blake Griffin throws down a lefty finish. All that, plus plenty more. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Each game is made up of elements that help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the previous night's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what led to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.  

THE BIG ONE: ALL DEMARCUS, ALL THE TIME ALMOST WORKED

If you're not rooting for the Sacramento Kings on behalf of their awesome fanbase given the possibility that the team relocates to Anaheim, there's something wrong with you. But Tuesday night's 106-102 loss to the Orlando Magic was painful enough to keep even a bandwagon-jumping sympathetic observer up at night, befuddled at how it went down. 

The Kings jumped out of the gate thanks to a double dose of Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins, who combined for 19 first quarter points. Playing with life and energy, the Kings held on to a slight edge throughout most of the game, looking stoic enough to hang on despite the Magic finally getting serious midway through the fourth quarter.  Even as Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson was in the midst of scoring eight straight Magic points, the Kings had an answer, as Cousins swished a beautiful turnaround jumper to give Sacramento a 97-93 lead with 4:03 to play.

Unfortunately, That jumper might have been the worst thing that happened to the Kings. Playing without lead guard Tyreke Evans, the Kings simply turned over the entirety of their offense to Cousins for most of the rest of the game. Given that he finished with 29 points, seven rebounds and two assists in 36 minutes and was being guarded by Dwight Howard, who was playing with five fouls, it wasn't a horrible idea. But as the possessions added up, it did start to feel forced, especially as he was often isolated well outside the paint. 

On the first possession following his made jumper, Cousins missed a jumper and committed a turnover and then, with one possession off in the middle for a Thornton three-pointer, Cousins missed another jumper. Unswayed, and now trailing thanks to some more Nelson heroics, the Kings went back to Cousins again. He succeeded in drawing Howard's sxith foul on a drive to the hoop. Howard argued the call, but replays showed he had a hold of Cousins' jersey and didn't do an adequate enough job of moving his feet. Cousins missed the front end of the free throws, much to his own dismay, as the familiar head shake and "negative body language" was definitely in the building. Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu responded by hitting a three-pointer -- which he followed up with a wave goodbye -- to make the score 105-100, and that was essentially the ball game. 

The three or four minute stretch of play encapsulated Cousins' season: tantalizing yet, ultimately, frustrating. His combination of a pure shooting stroke, handle, ability to snare offensive rebounds and his uncanny ability to draw fouls around the hoop made this game must-see TV, even as the Kings were busy blowing a late lead throughout all of it. 

It's no big secret that Cousins needs to mature. This was the type of night that makes it possible for diehard Kings fans, and their sympathizers, to come away thinking: "Take your time growing up, big fella. We'll be here waiting for you."

AL JEFFERSON'S GAME-WINNER:

Earlier Wednesday night, we brought you video of New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony's game-winning jumper against the Memphis Grizzlies. Anthony's shot wasn't the only game-winner of the evening. 

Utah Jazz big man Al Jefferson had one of the most improbable game-winners you'll see, topping the Raptors in Toronto. With the game tied at 94 with less than two seconds left, Jazz point guard Devin Harris drove into the lane to throw up a flip shot. The shot missed off the backboard and caromed into a four-man scrum in the middle of the paint. 

Both Sonny Weems and Reggie Evans, one of the league's best rebounders, were in between Jefferson and the basket, however Jefferson was able to extend above both of them and teammate C.J. Miles to get his right hand to the ball. He propelled the ball upwards, well above the rim level, and it looped down slowly, directly through the basket. Jefferson's bucket provided the Jazz with the winning margin as time expired, 96-94. 

Here's video of the play, courtesy of YouTube user ESPN.


GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:

Kevin Durant: 34 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, one block on 13 of 26 shooting in 43 minutes in an Oklahoma City Thunder road win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Tyler Hansbrough:  21 points, 10 rebounds, three steals on 6 of 12 shooting in 36 minutes in an Indiana Pacers road loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Kevin Love:  16 points, 21 rebounds, one steal in 27 minutes in a Minnesota Timberwolves home win over the Indiana Pacers.

Carmelo Anthony:  31 points, five rebounds, six assists, one steal on 12 of 24 shooting in a New York Knicks road win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

DeMarcus Cousins:  29 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three steals on 8 of 16 shooting in a Sacramento Kings home loss to the Orlando Magic.

DON'T MISS:

HIGHLIGHT REEL:

This is far from Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin's finest work, but he threw down a nifty, lefty dunk against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. Griffin slips the pick, levitates, clutches and finishes over Nenad Krstic. Pretty sweet. Video courtesy of YouTube user QuakeGriffin.

 

WHIMSY:

I'm not sure if this picture of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant requires 3D goggles to view properly but it's pretty awesome.
kevin-durant-blur

FINAL THOUGHT:

The Utah Jazz called up D-Leaguer Marcus Cousin on Tuesday and he made his NBA debut on Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors. Only one problem: The Jazz didn't have a jersey with his last name on it, just the number zero. RidiculousUpside.com comes through with the you-have-to-see-it picture and an explanation of what happened. 
Posted on: February 23, 2011 12:37 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2011 3:08 pm
 

Deron Williams Trade: Grading the trade

Grading the trade of Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, and two first-round picks. 
Posted by Matt Moore






Deron Williams has been traded to the New Jersey Nets for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, and two first-round picks, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports.  The Nets are also trading bigman Troy Murphy's expiring contract to the Warriors in exchange for Dan Gadzuric and Brendan Wright. It's a stunning move that comes just days after the Nets failed to acquire Carmelo Anthony in last-minute talks at All-Star Weekend. Their efforts included a meeting with Mikhail Prokhorov that failed to convince the All-Star forward. But now, at long last, the Nets have their All-Star, the Jazz are rebuilding, and Deron Williams has the market he's obviously been longing for. 

So how did everyone do in this deal?

Deron Williams

Well, Deron, it's not New York, but it will be. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported last weekend that Williams began telling associates last summer that he would look to join Amar'e Stoudemire in New York should Stoudemire sign with New York in free agency.  Now it would appear that Williams gets his wish to play in the world's biggest market, he'll just have to wait a year when the Nets relocate to Brooklyn.  He's playing with a point-guard friendly coach in Avery Johnson and he gets to work with his first true center in Brook Lopez. The only problem? It would appear Williams is not happy with the trade

The frenzy is going to be phenomenally loud for Williams on his way out.  Despite his denials, Williams was linked to a confrontation with Jerry Sloan that was followed immediately by his resignation. Williams is associated with running the 22-year-tenured head coach of the Jazz out of town, and is now bolting. We said that leaving in free agency would be a PR disaster for him afterwards, but this affords him the easy excuse of it being out of his hands. And at the end of the day, he still controls his destiny, able to sign or not sign an extension with New Jersey on July  9th.

Williams gets all the media frenzy that comes with this move, without the hoopla of "The Decision" or the drawn out pressure and exhaustive media scrutiny of Melo's ordeal. He gets the big market with a young core moving to take over Brooklyn as the second New York team, playing for a billionaire willing to spend to win. But he left a contending team for a rebuilding one, in a situation he's apparently not happy about. He may wind up pretty happy in the end, though.

Grade: B-

New Jersey Nets

There's two ways to look at this, and either way, the Nets win.

The first is the conspiracy theory that's going to be massively popular for the next month, which is that Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the Nets, purposefully raised the price tag on Carmelo Anthony, forcing the Knicks to constantly buckle to higher and higher pricetags, eventually giving up foru starters and a pick for the All-Star forward. Then he turned around and acquried a better, younger All-Star for less. In Soviet Russia, Nets trick you! It's a far-fetched idea that requires a whole lot of dangerous maneuvering and a pretty petty rivalrly. Then again, the Nets put up a billboard outside MSG this summer.

The more reasonable theory is simply that word got passed to Prokhorov during the weekend that Williams was looking to get out and the Jazz were looking to move him for whatever reason.  The package they offered the Nuggets was gold. Absolute gold, and they had already come to terms with surrendering that much in exchange for an All-Star.  So when word got around that the Jazz would be amiable to it, the calls were made and it happened the same way you hear from a neighbor that his friend is looking to sell his car. His brand new, rocket-fueled gold car that he doesn't know how to drive. 

On the court, this isn't going to be perfect right away. Brook Lopez has struggled this season, and that's likely due to Avery Johnson, not Devin Harris. His rebounding is terrible, and his defense has regressed. But he's an effective scorer in the pick and roll, and he just got arguably the best pick and roll point guard in the league next to him. The Nets have shooters like Sasha Vujacic and Anthony Morrow. But they are very much still a work in progress. This isn't going to be seamless, and the Nets will have some growing pains. But this was still a huge upgrade for the Nets and a no-brainer. Because of a simple fact: Deron Williams is an All-Star.

"Get an All-Star." That's been the Nets' objective since this summer: obtain an All-Star, because they are what sells tickets and wins games. Now they have it. Harris was expendable, clashing with coach Avery Johnson. Derrick Favors is a high-upside rookie, but this team wasn't angling for the future. It wants to win now. It had the picks to throw in for this deal. This was a no brainer. They gave up a meager set of assets in the long run for an All-Star point guard to put them on the map. They're no longer a hard sell for free agents, they're no longer a joke to the media, they're a player in the market, with the ability to make themselves into a contender over the next two seasons. Just in time for Brooklyn.

Grade: A+

Utah Jazz

We're going to need to bring in the trauma counselors for the Jazz fans.  In two weeks, they've lost their franchise institution coach for 22 years, and their starting All-Star point guard.  They're now left with Devin Harris and three big forwards.  They've gone from a Western Conference title contender (in some circles), to a second-rate team that may struggle to make the postseason. And worst of all, they have no real star. But they do have a lot of potential. It's clear that this move signifies an admission from Jazz management that they were not going to be able to sign Williams to an extension, and rather than subject themselves to a year like the Nuggets have gone through or worse a year like Cleveland in 2012, they chose to simply get the most they could right now. 

And they got a lot. Harris isn't Williams, by any stretch, but he's a fine point guard, and could thrive on a team with more talent like the Jazz. Favors is high-upside and a little redundant next to Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, but that could also allow them to move one of the two of them before the deadline or in the summer. That kind of flexibility is important going forward, and the Jazz are no longer bound to try and compete for Williams. They can elect to rebuild or try and swing for the fences with what they have. The Jazz were high on Favors in the draft, hoping he'd fall to ten. Sometimes you get your guy, just later. 

But in the end, this spells the end of an era for the Jazz. Or at least, the death rattle after Jerry Sloan's resignation spelled the mortal wound to said chapter. Things will never be the same again for the Jazz. They had a Hall of Fame coach, an All-Star point guard many considered the best in the league, and the ability to build around him to try and win a title. Now they find themselves among Cleveland, Toronto, and Denver, albeit with a better set of assets. Just another small market torn asunder by the new exodus of stars to their big-market counterparts. 

Grade: B

More Winners and Losers:

Winners:
Brook Lopez: As mentioned above, Lopez is a huge winner here.  His numbers should go up with Williams next to him.

Avery Johnson: Johnson may have been under scrutiny after this season for underperforming but now with Williams his prospects raise considerably. Of course, if he doesn't get it done with Williams, that will pretty much be it for Johnson.

Brooklyn basketball fans: You had to be worried about what kind of team you were getting. Now you know. One with an All-Star point guard. 

The Western Conference: They've now lost two All-Star competitors in two days.

Loser:

James Dolan: Let's see. You gave up four starters and a pick when you're a pick short for a gunning small forward who plays mediocre defense.  Your rival gave up two picks they can afford to trade, a point guard they were looking to dump, and a rookie for one of the best point guards in the league. Oh, and you look like a moron for bringing in Isiah Thomas. Great week, Jimmy.

Tyrone Corbin: Good luck with that, chief. 

Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers were looking to get Harris for Andre Miller. They're likely to stand pat now
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com