Tag:Ryan Anderson
Posted on: February 25, 2012 8:32 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 12:01 am
 

All-Star Saturday Night Results

All-Star Saturday night is happening, which is exciting, for all of us, really. (Getty Images)



It's All-Star Saturday Night, when the best, or at least best with respect to relative health, come out to shine under the bright lights and other cliches. The Skills Contest, the 3-Point Shooting Contest, and the Slam Dunk Contest take place Saturday night, and we'll have updates to all the events and highlights here. Consider this your home for All-Star Saturday Night. 

You can follow us on Twitter @EyeOnBasketball, and follow our guys on the ground in our All-Star Saturday Night Experience

Haier Shooting Stars: Let's be honest, this is like the opening band you don't show up for.

Your contestants:

Team Orlando: Jameer Nelson, Marie Ferdinand-Harris, Dennis Scott

Team Atlanta: Jerry Stackhouse, Lindsey Harding, Steve Smith

Team New York: Landry Fields, Cappi Pondexter, Allan Houston 

Team Texas: Chandler Parsons, Sophia Young, Kenny Smith

Winner: TEAM NEW YORK: Allan Houston still has it. The man downed two half-court shots and team New York cleared the final round in 37 seconds. The fact that Kenny Smith and Allan Houston are still better shooters than any of the Milwaukee Bucks is a bit distressing. 

From Royce Young of CBSSports.com:

A reporter asked Allan Houston if he's in such good shape where he could almost -- "Stop. Stop it right now. This was fun ... It feels good to have a uniform again, but that's about it. That's about the limits if it." Then Landry Fields jumped in saying, "He's not taking that uniform off tonight."



Taco Bell Skills Challenge: Please don't hurt yourselves, you're basically your entire teams

Russell Westbrook

Rajon Rondo

John Wall

Deron Williams

Tony Parker

Winner: Tony Parker: Kyrie Irving was basically terrible. Rajon Rondo outid Russell Westbrook with a great time in a run-off round, then both Rondo and Deron Williams went on a brick fest on the mid-range jumper. Parker breezed to a win. The effort in this wasn't the worst thing you've ever seen, provided you've seen the Washington Wizards play this season. Williams didn't win, but he did have the fastest time on this run:

 


Foot Locker 3-Point Contest: If James Jones win, we're going to spit

James Jones

Kevin Love

Ryan Anderson

Kevin Durant

Anthony Morrow

Mario Chalmers

Winner: Kevin Love in an upset! Love found himself in a shoot-off with Kevin Durant after tying him in the final round, and then bested the scoring leader 17-14. James Jones made it to the final round and had a pretty low bar of 16 to best, but couldn't get it done, dropping just 12. A dominant rebounding power forward just won the 3-point contest. Boom. Click here for video highlights


Sprite Slam Dunk Contest: You don't know their names, but maybe that means they can only exceed expectations

Paul George

Derrick Williams

Chase Budinger

Jeremy Evans

Winner: No one. It was very likely the worst dunk contest of all time. Jeremy Evans did win, in a contest that featured him making a straight reverse dunk with a camera attached that no one got, and dunking over Kevin Hart dressed as a mailman while wearing a Karl Malone jerey. The coolest dunk of the night was Paul George in the dark. Goodnight everyone, and may God have Mercy on our souls.
Posted on: February 15, 2012 5:01 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 6:59 pm
 

Kevin Durant added to Three-Point Contest

James Jones will look to defend his 3-point shooting crown. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver  

Update: Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson will sit out both the All-Star Game and the Three-Point Contest, due to tendonitis in his left knee. Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant will replace him, according to the Thunder. Durant also participated in the 2011 Three-Point Contest.

--------------

Bombs away.

The NBA announced its field of six competitors for the annual Three-Point Contest, a Saturday staple of All-Star Weekend. This year's Three-Point Contest will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando on Saturday, Feb. 25.

The field includes Miami Heat forward James Jones, the defending champion, plus Heat guard Mario Chalmers, Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love, Atlanta Hawks All-Star guard Joe Johnson, Orlando Magic forward Ryan Anderson and New Jersey Nets guard Anthony MorrowLast week, Love revealed that he would be among the competitors.

Chalmers leads this year's field with 46.3 percent 3-point shooting. He's actually not even the best 3-point shooter on the Heat, as Mike Miller is connecting on 52.1 percent of his tries, although he's only taken 48 through Tuesday night's action. Anderson is next at 42.1 percent (22nd in the league among shooters with enough attempts), Morrow is at 42.0 percent (26th in the league), Love is at 36.1 percent (63rd in the league) and Johnson is at 35.6 percent (65th in the league). Jones is shooting 40.4 percent from deep but hasn't hoisted enough threes to make the leaderboard. He would place in the mid-thirties if he had.

Here's how the competition works, in case you are new to the sport of basketball.

The players will compete in the two-round competition with the top three finishers from the first round advancing to the finals. Five shooting stations will be set up around the three-point line, with four Official Spalding NBA game balls worth one point each and one Spalding NBA All-Star 2012 commemorative “money ball” worth two points at each location. Each player will have one minute to shoot as many balls as he can. In the final round, players will shoot in ascending order of first-round scores. At the discretion of the referee, television instant replay may be consulted for clarification of rules compliance.

At 2011 All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, Jones defeated a field that included Boston Celtics All-Star forward Paul Piece, Celtics All-Star guard Ray Allen, Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors forward Dorell Wright and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson.
Posted on: January 26, 2012 4:18 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 12:27 am
 

2008 Draft contract extensions: Winners & Losers

Posted by Ben Golliver

The deadline for teams to sign extensions with 2008 NBA Draft picks passed at midnight on Wednesday. Only a handful of deals were reached, with a number of fairly big names left to head towards restricted free agency next summer. Let's take a look at the major deals and non-deals one-by-one.

Derrick Rose signs 5-year, $94 million extension with Chicago Bulls

This year’s largest deal was handed out to the class’s No. 1 overall pick and it was an absolute no-brainer, a long-term commitment that binds hometown star and league MVP Derrick Rose to the Bulls for the next half-decade. With the Eastern Conference-leading Bulls clearly in the middle of what should be a lengthy championship window and with Rose more than comfortable both on and off the court in Chi-town, this deal amounted to calculating the highest legal financial offer and delivering it as quickly as possible. That Rose elected not to demand a player option on the deal’s final year is a nice bonus for Chicago, who will be paying a premium to their 2-time All-Star under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement. Rose will almost certainly be a Bull for the next decade but it’s comforting to know that there won’t be any distracting sideshows and rumors for years to come.

Rose wins; Bulls win 

Russell Westbrook signs 5-year, $80 million extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder

Westbrook, the No. 4 overall pick, was really just Rose-light. The 2011 All-Star and All-NBA second team performer commanded every penny available to him under a standard max extension, and the fact that he reportedly passed on the potential for some extra dollars under the new CBA while also passing on requesting a player option means this deal couldn’t be sweeter for the Thunder. Their second All-Star piece is now cast in long-term, locked-in stone next to Kevin Durant, and the deal left OKC with as much flexibility as possible going forward even if the books are now necessarily tight with two max players in place. Even Westbrook’s biggest critics – those who question his personality, turnovers, mentality and shot selection – realize that he still represents an extraordinary value, even at $16 million a year. Need convincing? Imagine how different the NBA would be if Miami or Memphis had selected him at No. 2 or No. 3. Or, imagine if the Thunder had opted for one of the Draft’s other top point guard prospects, D.J. Augustin or Jerryd Bayless.

Westbrook wins; Thunder win 

Kevin Love signs 4-year, $62 million extension with early termination option with the Minnesota Timberwolves

This is a classic case of a good idea in theory being far, far less valuable than a good idea in practice. Love, the No. 5 overall pick,  has been leaps and bounds better than every other big man in this class and is already in the "power forward in basketball" discussion. A ridiculously productive and consistent rebounder, Love has improved his offensive game, extended his range, overhauled his body and stuck with a team that went through a toxic stretch under former coach Kurt Rambis. He’s a franchise guy, period. He’s in the same “no-brainer” category as Rose and Westbrook.

The problem facing Minnesota, that differentiates them from Chicago and Oklahoma City, is that they face multiple potential top-tier future stars in Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams who could request a 5-year extension after they complete their rookie deals. The idea here was to avoid offering a 5-year deal to Love using the new "designated player" tag so that it could be saved for later use. That flexibility would have some value to the Timberwolves, assuming Love was on board with the concept. It’s a good idea in theory: superstar sacrifices one year of a contract to help his franchise keep his future star teammates happy.

In practice, it didn’t work out quite like that. In exchange for agreeing to a deal shorter than five years, Love requested and received an early termination option on the last year of his 4-year agreement. That will create endless speculation and questions about his future and every franchise misstep over the next two to three years will be looked at under the prism of, “Will that make Love want to leave?” LeBron James and Chris Bosh both left their original teams after signing similar deals.

There was value to be had in flexibility and it could have been a coup if Love had jumped on board with the idea. But he simply didn't see it that way. Instead, he stressed Wednesday that he was ready to commit for five years and the team wasn't, making it clear where the responsibility lies in the future if the player/team relationship goes south, or, in a worst case scenario, if the relationship ends in a trade demand or a departure to a different market in free agency. Sure, he can always make up the money on the next deal. But star players, like everyone else in the world, prefer up-front certainty to future promises. They certainly prefer to be valued rather than leveraged.

Weighing all the available risks should have led to a simple conclusion: securing Love for as long as possible as quickly as possible, to ensure good will and a rock-solid future, was the best way to continue the team's recent positive momentum and the most expedient method for reducing outside noise. Maxing out Love would also have sent a message to Rubio and Williams that this was an organization that properly valued and rewarded its stars. Future flexibility is a great idea; two extra locked in years of Love would have been a much, much better reality.

Love loses; Timberwolves lose 

Danilo Gallinari signs 4-year, $42 extension with the Denver Nuggets

This deal will go under the radar because it seems like the Nuggets, currently the West’s No. 2 seed, always go under the radar and because Gallinari, the No. 6 pick in his class, is somehow still his class’s most underrated player.  Denver gets a well-rounded, good-natured player, who produces at an elite efficiency level and is putting up career-highs across the board. Gallinari pairs nicely with Denver’s point guard of the present and future, Ty Lawson, and will deliver value on his salary as long as he is able to keep his back problems in the rearview mirror. Denver is the only team ranked in the top-4 in either conference without a sure-fire All-Star but his salary number isn’t so large that it boxes the Nuggets into a corner down the road. The Nene/Gallinari/Afflalo/Lawson quartet should be the solid base of an above-average team for the life of Gallinari’s deal. Why not get this done with now?

Gallinari wins; Nuggets win 

Kosta Koufos signs 3-year, $9 million extension with a team option with the Denver Nuggets

Another piece to Denver’s puzzle, albeit a minor one, is Koufos, the No. 23 pick originally taken by the Utah Jazz. Koufos is Denver’s fifth big man and his career ceiling is probably as a fourth big man, at best. Finding reserve bigs can be a chore and the churn involved in locating and holding the right skillset to complement the frontline players isn’t as easy as it seems. Denver locks up Koufos at a small cap number and holds flexibility in the last year if they end up wanting to go a different direction. The 7-footer, meanwhile, knows he’s getting at least 6 million no matter what over the next two years, not bad for someone who has never played more than 50 games in a season or more than 11 minutes per game. This is really just a footnote deal, but it’s another sign of effective, well-intentioned management by Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri, who pro-actively resolved multiples questions for his club at thisextension deadline and can now focus his energy elsewhere at the trade deadline and next summer.

Koufos wins; Nuggets win 

New Orleans Hornets do not sign Eric Gordon to an extension

Conventional wisdom dictated that a league-owned team that technically didn’t need to agree to an 8-figure per year extension to Gordon, the No. 7 pick who is currently out for an extended period of time with a knee injury, wouldn’t get it done. That's exactly what happened. An offer was reportedly made to Gordon and rejected, leaving his future up in the air until next summer, when he will become a restricted free agent. Gordon’s value as a second-tier player in his class is clear. He’s likely headed for the type of deal given to Al Horford and Joakim Noah, and there’s a possibility someone reaches in free agency to throw him something even closer to a max, which his injury history and overall production levels don’t quite warrant. Regardless of where the numbers eventually come in, as the only star on an endlessly sinking ship, Gordon will be a scorching hot commodity. It’s well past time the Hornets got sold to a new owner so they can get on with the business of being a real basketball franchise.

Gordon wins; Hornets lose 

Portland Trail Blazers do not sign Nicolas Batum to an extension

The up and down Blazers don’t know whether they are coming or going. Are they a fringe contender or is it time for a rebuild? The team’s front office readily admits that, in lieu of making that determination, they will procrastinate until next summer when contracts will be up for Raymond Felton and Marcus Camby, player options could be exercised by Jamal Crawford and Gerald Wallace, and a decision on the future of Greg Oden will need to be made. A casualty of all of this uncertainty is Batum, the No. 25 pick in 2008, who has seen his playing time cut this year in favor of Wallace this season despite hearing for months how the team considers him an important piece of its future.

A promising two-way player who can shoot the three well and defend multiple positions, a strong argument could be made that the Blazers should have went all out to reach an extension. His price will likely go up in the summer, the Blazers only have two definitive pieces locked in for the future (LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews) and Batum’s price should have been fairly clearly set by comparable players like Trevor Ariza and Marvin Williams. It’s difficult to imagine that Batum, who has expressed his desire repeatedly to stay in Portland, was looking to break the bank.  His play in limited minutes this season has been uneven and he's admitted the contract situation has been a distraction. Had there been a fair offer it seems more than reasonable to assume that he would have taken it. Instead, he waits, and watches Wallace play the starter's minutes. That's got to be excruciating and frustrating.

Failing to reach an extension isn’t a crisis for the Blazers, who continue to say they want to retain him long-term, but it extends the uncertainty when a little stability is needed. Portland remains stuck in the mud, spinning its wheels and still without a full-time GM. How much extra money will the "We can always handle this later" mentality cost them come summer time? How many other roster decisions will be impacted? It’s those difficult-to-quantify questions that the Nuggets avoided in inking Gallinari.

Batum loses; Blazers lose 

Orlando Magic do not sign Ryan Anderson to an extension

Anderson, the No. 21 pick, was far and away this class’s steal. He’s putting up 16.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game now that he’s starting full-time for the Magic and he’s pumping in threes at a 42.2 percent clip. Catching him with an extension just as he is making the upswing would have been an ideal situation, outside any external forces. His is a rising stock. The ground floor was two years ago, when Orlando first acquired him, but the ascent could be quite rapid and expensive from here going forward. Of course, removing external forces is impossible given Orlando’s cap situation and center Dwight Howard’s expressed desire to be traded. The Magic appear to be in “Hold on tight, let’s gun for a championship and see what happens” mode right now, and given how well they’ve played for stretches this season, you can’t really fault them.

From a dollars standpoint, Anderson can’t be too broken up about not getting a deal now. Given his big minutes role on a playoff team, he’s in the situation Batum wishes he could be in: the spotlight. This will end with a massive pay day, one way or another. After getting picked away from the New Jersey Nets via trade, it’s difficult to imagine his future is with anyone but Orlando. The only unknown is how many other moves -- including Howard, most of all -- it takes to make that happen.

Anderson wins; Magic lose

Posted on: January 26, 2012 4:18 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 12:27 am
 

2008 Draft contract extensions: Winners & Losers

Posted by Ben Golliver

The deadline for teams to sign extensions with 2008 NBA Draft picks passed at midnight on Wednesday. Only a handful of deals were reached, with a number of fairly big names left to head towards restricted free agency next summer. Let's take a look at the major deals and non-deals one-by-one.

Derrick Rose signs 5-year, $94 million extension with Chicago Bulls

This year’s largest deal was handed out to the class’s No. 1 overall pick and it was an absolute no-brainer, a long-term commitment that binds hometown star and league MVP Derrick Rose to the Bulls for the next half-decade. With the Eastern Conference-leading Bulls clearly in the middle of what should be a lengthy championship window and with Rose more than comfortable both on and off the court in Chi-town, this deal amounted to calculating the highest legal financial offer and delivering it as quickly as possible. That Rose elected not to demand a player option on the deal’s final year is a nice bonus for Chicago, who will be paying a premium to their 2-time All-Star under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement. Rose will almost certainly be a Bull for the next decade but it’s comforting to know that there won’t be any distracting sideshows and rumors for years to come.

Rose wins; Bulls win 

Russell Westbrook signs 5-year, $80 million extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder

Westbrook, the No. 4 overall pick, was really just Rose-light. The 2011 All-Star and All-NBA second team performer commanded every penny available to him under a standard max extension, and the fact that he reportedly passed on the potential for some extra dollars under the new CBA while also passing on requesting a player option means this deal couldn’t be sweeter for the Thunder. Their second All-Star piece is now cast in long-term, locked-in stone next to Kevin Durant, and the deal left OKC with as much flexibility as possible going forward even if the books are now necessarily tight with two max players in place. Even Westbrook’s biggest critics – those who question his personality, turnovers, mentality and shot selection – realize that he still represents an extraordinary value, even at $16 million a year. Need convincing? Imagine how different the NBA would be if Miami or Memphis had selected him at No. 2 or No. 3. Or, imagine if the Thunder had opted for one of the Draft’s other top point guard prospects, D.J. Augustin or Jerryd Bayless.

Westbrook wins; Thunder win 

Kevin Love signs 4-year, $62 million extension with early termination option with the Minnesota Timberwolves

This is a classic case of a good idea in theory being far, far less valuable than a good idea in practice. Love, the No. 5 overall pick,  has been leaps and bounds better than every other big man in this class and is already in the "power forward in basketball" discussion. A ridiculously productive and consistent rebounder, Love has improved his offensive game, extended his range, overhauled his body and stuck with a team that went through a toxic stretch under former coach Kurt Rambis. He’s a franchise guy, period. He’s in the same “no-brainer” category as Rose and Westbrook.

The problem facing Minnesota, that differentiates them from Chicago and Oklahoma City, is that they face multiple potential top-tier future stars in Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams who could request a 5-year extension after they complete their rookie deals. The idea here was to avoid offering a 5-year deal to Love using the new "designated player" tag so that it could be saved for later use. That flexibility would have some value to the Timberwolves, assuming Love was on board with the concept. It’s a good idea in theory: superstar sacrifices one year of a contract to help his franchise keep his future star teammates happy.

In practice, it didn’t work out quite like that. In exchange for agreeing to a deal shorter than five years, Love requested and received an early termination option on the last year of his 4-year agreement. That will create endless speculation and questions about his future and every franchise misstep over the next two to three years will be looked at under the prism of, “Will that make Love want to leave?” LeBron James and Chris Bosh both left their original teams after signing similar deals.

There was value to be had in flexibility and it could have been a coup if Love had jumped on board with the idea. But he simply didn't see it that way. Instead, he stressed Wednesday that he was ready to commit for five years and the team wasn't, making it clear where the responsibility lies in the future if the player/team relationship goes south, or, in a worst case scenario, if the relationship ends in a trade demand or a departure to a different market in free agency. Sure, he can always make up the money on the next deal. But star players, like everyone else in the world, prefer up-front certainty to future promises. They certainly prefer to be valued rather than leveraged.

Weighing all the available risks should have led to a simple conclusion: securing Love for as long as possible as quickly as possible, to ensure good will and a rock-solid future, was the best way to continue the team's recent positive momentum and the most expedient method for reducing outside noise. Maxing out Love would also have sent a message to Rubio and Williams that this was an organization that properly valued and rewarded its stars. Future flexibility is a great idea; two extra locked in years of Love would have been a much, much better reality.

Love loses; Timberwolves lose 

Danilo Gallinari signs 4-year, $42 extension with the Denver Nuggets

This deal will go under the radar because it seems like the Nuggets, currently the West’s No. 2 seed, always go under the radar and because Gallinari, the No. 6 pick in his class, is somehow still his class’s most underrated player.  Denver gets a well-rounded, good-natured player, who produces at an elite efficiency level and is putting up career-highs across the board. Gallinari pairs nicely with Denver’s point guard of the present and future, Ty Lawson, and will deliver value on his salary as long as he is able to keep his back problems in the rearview mirror. Denver is the only team ranked in the top-4 in either conference without a sure-fire All-Star but his salary number isn’t so large that it boxes the Nuggets into a corner down the road. The Nene/Gallinari/Afflalo/Lawson quartet should be the solid base of an above-average team for the life of Gallinari’s deal. Why not get this done with now?

Gallinari wins; Nuggets win 

Kosta Koufos signs 3-year, $9 million extension with a team option with the Denver Nuggets

Another piece to Denver’s puzzle, albeit a minor one, is Koufos, the No. 23 pick originally taken by the Utah Jazz. Koufos is Denver’s fifth big man and his career ceiling is probably as a fourth big man, at best. Finding reserve bigs can be a chore and the churn involved in locating and holding the right skillset to complement the frontline players isn’t as easy as it seems. Denver locks up Koufos at a small cap number and holds flexibility in the last year if they end up wanting to go a different direction. The 7-footer, meanwhile, knows he’s getting at least 6 million no matter what over the next two years, not bad for someone who has never played more than 50 games in a season or more than 11 minutes per game. This is really just a footnote deal, but it’s another sign of effective, well-intentioned management by Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri, who pro-actively resolved multiples questions for his club at thisextension deadline and can now focus his energy elsewhere at the trade deadline and next summer.

Koufos wins; Nuggets win 

New Orleans Hornets do not sign Eric Gordon to an extension

Conventional wisdom dictated that a league-owned team that technically didn’t need to agree to an 8-figure per year extension to Gordon, the No. 7 pick who is currently out for an extended period of time with a knee injury, wouldn’t get it done. That's exactly what happened. An offer was reportedly made to Gordon and rejected, leaving his future up in the air until next summer, when he will become a restricted free agent. Gordon’s value as a second-tier player in his class is clear. He’s likely headed for the type of deal given to Al Horford and Joakim Noah, and there’s a possibility someone reaches in free agency to throw him something even closer to a max, which his injury history and overall production levels don’t quite warrant. Regardless of where the numbers eventually come in, as the only star on an endlessly sinking ship, Gordon will be a scorching hot commodity. It’s well past time the Hornets got sold to a new owner so they can get on with the business of being a real basketball franchise.

Gordon wins; Hornets lose 

Portland Trail Blazers do not sign Nicolas Batum to an extension

The up and down Blazers don’t know whether they are coming or going. Are they a fringe contender or is it time for a rebuild? The team’s front office readily admits that, in lieu of making that determination, they will procrastinate until next summer when contracts will be up for Raymond Felton and Marcus Camby, player options could be exercised by Jamal Crawford and Gerald Wallace, and a decision on the future of Greg Oden will need to be made. A casualty of all of this uncertainty is Batum, the No. 25 pick in 2008, who has seen his playing time cut this year in favor of Wallace this season despite hearing for months how the team considers him an important piece of its future.

A promising two-way player who can shoot the three well and defend multiple positions, a strong argument could be made that the Blazers should have went all out to reach an extension. His price will likely go up in the summer, the Blazers only have two definitive pieces locked in for the future (LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews) and Batum’s price should have been fairly clearly set by comparable players like Trevor Ariza and Marvin Williams. It’s difficult to imagine that Batum, who has expressed his desire repeatedly to stay in Portland, was looking to break the bank.  His play in limited minutes this season has been uneven and he's admitted the contract situation has been a distraction. Had there been a fair offer it seems more than reasonable to assume that he would have taken it. Instead, he waits, and watches Wallace play the starter's minutes. That's got to be excruciating and frustrating.

Failing to reach an extension isn’t a crisis for the Blazers, who continue to say they want to retain him long-term, but it extends the uncertainty when a little stability is needed. Portland remains stuck in the mud, spinning its wheels and still without a full-time GM. How much extra money will the "We can always handle this later" mentality cost them come summer time? How many other roster decisions will be impacted? It’s those difficult-to-quantify questions that the Nuggets avoided in inking Gallinari.

Batum loses; Blazers lose 

Orlando Magic do not sign Ryan Anderson to an extension

Anderson, the No. 21 pick, was far and away this class’s steal. He’s putting up 16.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game now that he’s starting full-time for the Magic and he’s pumping in threes at a 42.2 percent clip. Catching him with an extension just as he is making the upswing would have been an ideal situation, outside any external forces. His is a rising stock. The ground floor was two years ago, when Orlando first acquired him, but the ascent could be quite rapid and expensive from here going forward. Of course, removing external forces is impossible given Orlando’s cap situation and center Dwight Howard’s expressed desire to be traded. The Magic appear to be in “Hold on tight, let’s gun for a championship and see what happens” mode right now, and given how well they’ve played for stretches this season, you can’t really fault them.

From a dollars standpoint, Anderson can’t be too broken up about not getting a deal now. Given his big minutes role on a playoff team, he’s in the situation Batum wishes he could be in: the spotlight. This will end with a massive pay day, one way or another. After getting picked away from the New Jersey Nets via trade, it’s difficult to imagine his future is with anyone but Orlando. The only unknown is how many other moves -- including Howard, most of all -- it takes to make that happen.

Anderson wins; Magic lose

Posted on: January 16, 2012 4:57 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 5:13 pm
 

Is Ryan Anderson the Most Improved Player?

By Matt Moore

We saw the early signs in New Jersey, but so many players drift away. We saw it his first year in Orlando, but the system has produced a lot of quality scorers. But what Ryan Anderson has done this season in Orlando deserves significant recognition. 

On Monday, Anderson dropped a career high 30 points on 13 shots along with 7 rebounds in the Magic's 102-93 win over the Knicks in Madison Square Garden. After the game, Anderson was demonstrably humble, saying essentially that he was just open. And he's right. He was. But that has value in this league. 

Anderson has been knocking down perimeter shots all season thanks to the attention paid to Dwight Howard down low. That's the model for what the Magic want to do, better or worse. And when you have a shooter as hot as Anderson right now, it makes it extremely difficult to stop. The Knicks have a huge, tough center inside in Tyson Chandler to attack Dwight Howard, and the Knicks gameplanned to stop him. He scored just eight points. But when you open up opportunities for the Magic's supporting players, and they're ready to contribute instead of, say, Vince Carter, the Magic are still a deadly team.

There is a metric used in the NBA stat circles called True Shooting Percentage. It factors the impact of hitting threes and free throws for a better indicator of how good a shooter a player is. Anderson entered Monday 11th in True Shooting Percentage, then went out and hit 11-19 from the field, 7-13 from three, and 1-1 from the line. That efficiency means that the Magic are highly likely to get a productive possession with him on the floor. That's a big reason why the Magic are the most efficient offense in the league

Anderson admitted post game he can't really create his own shot, but in a league where so many players are struggling with a tightened schedule, Anderson has made a strong statement and helped carry the Magic. The Dwight Howard circus continues, but Anderson may be the league's Most Improved Player this year and will be a central part of whatever the Magic do going forward. On Monday, he sunk the more hyped team with the famous arena and he did it efficiently. A modern style player for a more efficient age.
Posted on: December 1, 2011 10:04 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 10:36 am
 

The Magic Gambit: Orlando should trade for Paul



By Matt Moore
  

Here we are, once again. A small market team reportedly held hostage by their franchise player All-Star and his desire to be traded to the specific team he wants, or else he'll simply depart the home team in free agency, leaving them with nothing. Carmelo Anthony hijacked Denver's season last year, and now Chris Paul is reportedly in a position to do the same to New Orleans. Except when Anthony applied extortion to get his way to Broadway, the Knicks actually had assets to trade to Denver, including Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, and Raymond Felton (who eventually became Andre Miller and a pick).

The Knicks now? Not so much.

The Hornets face an impossible position shold they elect to trade Paul. The teams that have the kind of assets to make the trade worth it if Paul elects to state he will only sign with the Knicks (which as Ken Berger notes, he has not done yet) have the kind of market cache to not need to make such a desperate move, or have no shot at a championship and therefore no reason to risk it all.

A team with young players and picks won't waste them to rent Chris Paul for a season, only to watch him walk out the door. After all, there's only one New Jersey Nets out there. (Kidding, Nets fans! D-Will says you're still under consideration!) And teams with superstar talent like Boston or Los Angeles don't have to gamble to win a title. They can just wait on the next superstar available (or just go after Dwight Howard).

So as it stands, the Hornets have no alternative. They'll just have to take whatever the Knicks are offering. There's talk of just letting Paul walk to avoid the embarrassment of taking on the Knicks' garbage heap, but that's nonsense. You don't accept a loss when you can have a gain. Chauncey Billups and Toney Douglas and a pick in 2045 is better than nothing at all.

But... there is another option. It's outside the box. You're going to think I'm nuts. And I'm not prone to posting about trade ideas. There's another site with a trade machine. You can fill your day with moving every player in the league. Everyone partakes from time to time. But this concept? It's the best possible move for both teams.

Orlando needs to trade for Chris Paul.

Hear me out before you close this browser as fast as humanly possible.

The Magic have every reason to trade for Chris Paul without the promise of an extension. With no consideration of the extension, there's nothing to hold up a deal. The Magic are facing the same cliff the Hornets are, staring down the barrell of Dwight Howard's big-market shotgun. They are burdened with pieces which hold no value once Howard is traded. If Howard leaves, they will wind up with a huge amount of salary and no superstar, a terrible team with a supporting structure holding up nothing. They have two options. Win a championship this year or give up and trade Howard for nothing now. Even a move for Andrew Bogut as Berger has said will be discussed won't keep them in title contention. That's what Howard means to a team. That's what an MVP candidate means.

So the only thing left, as the movie quote goes, is to win the whole friggin' thing. (OK, that's not the line, but it's a family site.)

The Magic would trade some combination of Brandon Bass, J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson, Daniel Orton, and Jameer Nelson to the Hornets for Paul, along with a first-round pick in 2012. That's right. The Magic could lose both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul for 2013 and have no first-round pick. Disastrous-sounding, I know. Here's why they do the deal.

Here's the best case scenario. Howard and Paul,playing with another star, the best at their position, along with the supporting pieces in Orlando which would still be better than what the Knicks are likely to trot out onto the court (I'd like to remind you that Jared Jeffries started at center in the playoffs for the Knicks), would likely have the best seasons of their careers if healthy. Versus the trio in Miami or the duet in New York, Howard and Paul are a combination of players who actually mesh together. The best pick and roll center in the league with the best pick and roll point guard. A hyper-efficient perimeter shooter with a center who draws doubles every time on the block. A ball-hawking point guard who can create steals and the best defensive presence in the league. It may not be better than Miami or L.A., but it would be a force to be reckoned with. One season to make a run at the title.

This is the reality of the new NBA. If you want to win a title as a small-market, you have to find lightning in a bottle. Maybe there's no way to even that gap thanks to the inherent draws of bigger markets with more flashbulbs, television appearances, parties and endorsement offers. But if you don't have a once-in-his-lifetime talent and get absurdly lucky along the way, this is your best shot. Mortgage everything on one season.

If it works, and the Magic take home the title, the Paul and Howard will have gone through the transformitive process of winning a title together. Fans in Orlando will worship them. Howard will have done what Shaq never has. And they'll be staring at the possibility of not playing together next year. Even if that's not enough to get them to stay, it'll make them think twice. It's Orlando's best shot. There can be no more "really, Dwight, we'll get it right next time" with Howard. His patience has run out. If they don't win the title, there's no chance he returns. There's little chance even if they do, but it's their best shot, and if they win the title, they get that forever. You can't take that title away from the fans, away from the franchise, away from the team.

And if it doesn't work, if they don't win the title? That's over $34 million in cap space expiring for Orlando. Along with the amnesty of Gilbert Arenas, that's $54 million. That's nearly the NBA salary cap they would be gaining in cap space. The typical response to that is "what does it matter, no one will sign there." From that point on, the objective is not to bring in free agents, it's to rebuild through the draft. That 2012 pick missing is a problem? Not really, because Paul and Howard could give 50 percent effort (something they would never do) and still win 40 games, even in the East. The Magic won't have a lottery pick regardless. Which means the pick holds no value to them, but quite a bit to New Orleans. The Magic would be in premium position to tank in 2013, then rebuild through the draft. It's not appealing. You know what's less appealing? Trying to rebuild with Andrew Bynum's decision making, knees, contract, and nothing else. The key when your title run is over is to start over as completely as possible, as quickly as possible. This plan lets them out.

But what about New Orleans? Jameer Nelson, with $15.6 million remaining over two years? Brandon Bass with $8 million? J.J. Redick with over $12 million? What's the upside for them, along with a pick that won't be good? For starters, it's better than what they'll get from New York. It lets them avoid being bullied by the Knicks for nothing. And it's not about what those players give the Hornets, it's what they bring individually on the market. A team in need of a power forward who can score? Bass is a great pickup for a cheap draft pick and an expiring. Teams in desperate need of a shooter? J.J. Redick. Starting point guard gone down with an injury? Call up the Hornets. Jameer Nelson is on the block. It's a flip project. You don't get the pieces to start over, you get the pieces you can use to get the pieces to start over. It's the best way to do exactly the same thing the Magic would be doing. Tanking to start over and hopefully get that All-Star Hall of Famer who doesn't adore the bright lights.

This lets them both out of the pain, it gets the gun off of them. It gives them the dignity. Orlando gets to contend for one more year, the Hornets get to start moving forward now. The Magic go all-in, the Hornets fold and save their chips for a time when the flop doesn't come down so wretched.

Big markets are squeezing the talent out of small markets. But those small markets get to decide how it goes down.
Posted on: April 12, 2011 4:12 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 6:25 pm
 

Road to the Finals: Orlando Magic

The Magic's window seems closed. What do they have to do to pry it back open?
Posted by Matt Moore




It's been a season of dramatics in the NBA. The Lakers aspiring for a second three-peat under Phil Jackson to send him off in style. The Celtics trying to make one more run to the championship to get the elusive multiple titles while dealing with a reformation of the core after a trade of Kendrick Perkins. The Heat. Just, the Heat. The Bulls' rise behind Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau. The Spurs making one last great charge with their core. 

But lost in all this is Orlando. 

Set with a backdrop of fantasy (it's Disney World for crying out loud - how much more symbolic do you want to get?), this season has become a crushing work of disillusionment illustrating the crash of reality on a franchise that was a Courtney-Lee-blown alley-oop from really putting the boots back to the Lakers in the Finals two years ago. The Magic aren't just a team that thought it had the championship window firmly propped open for years. They are an illustration of the have-not nature in the NBA, despite their making what can only be considered the best effort possible. 

Orlando poneyed up for the new arena critics of small-markets allege the non-top cities never approve. Ownership elected to go above and beyond the cap, deep into the luxury tax. They were smart enough to draft, and develop, a franchise player, acquire a competitive and arguably brilliant head coach, surround the team with competent role players. When the 2009 team failed to get past the last challenge, management did not get complacent, and instead opted for the home-run move you're supposed to make, according to many. Vince Carter, for all his Vince-Carter-ness, was still a legit star in the summer of 2009. They went for the big move. When that didn't work out, they once again swung for the fences. You can't say Otis Smith didn't try. 

But here they are. Entering the playoffs as the worst seed they've been since 2008, with little to no momentum, and considered nothing more than after-thought in the playoffs. They are a speedbump in the road to the Finals for teams from Miami, Chicago, Boston. They gambled. They lost. And the worst part of all is this season may turn out to be the one that gives Dwight Howard an excuse to leave Orlando; it may be the one reflected on as what turns Howard away; it may be the year Orlando lost their franchise center, again. 

And then, very dimly, way in the back there, behind the headlines about "DWIGHT TO NY 2012" and "HOWARD THINKS L.A. WEATHER IS AWESOME, COULD HEAD THERE IN 2012?" is this simple formula. The Magic have an elite defense, an array of shooter who have yet to really show how good they can be if they do start clicking, a solid-to-good point guard, and have we mentioned their defense is pretty awesome? In 2009, I talked myself into picking Orlando against both Boston and Cleveland based on their ability to trample any team if they get hot. Offense never wins a championship, but great shooting and elite defense does. And Orlando still has that, at its systemic level. 

Road To The Finals
" target="_blank">Miami Heat The problem is when you get beyond the system. The idea isn't wrong. Stan Van Gundy's structure of building shooters with a driver mixed in to swarm around Howard, create specing, force the double, kick, kick, and find the open shot is a sound one. Play great defense around the best defensive player, create and knock down open threes around the biggest, baddest center in the land. Win. That works. What doesn't work are the elements wrapped around Howard specifically. Hedo Turkoglu, who had a nice start to his time in Orlando but in reality doesn't have the first-step necessary to get the edge on penetration. Brandon Bass, who doesn't have the sheer muscle to fill Howard's role when the big guy sits or gets in foul trouble. Gilbert Arenas.

Oh, Gilbert. 

Arenas is the big missing piece. As in, where he stands, there's an empty shell of a guard that can't shoot, drive, or create. The Magic wasted a huge contract in Rashard Lewis to get Arenas. Lewis wasn't of considerable usefulness at this point, but he was more useful than Arenas has been. 

But then, is there anyone in the league more unpreditable than Gilbert Arenas?

A first-round series against the Hawks shouldn't be too much trouble, but there are pitfalls hidden there. The Magic don't have a forward to match Josh Smith's explosiveness. Al Horford does surprisgingly well against centers bigger than him. He'll lose to Howard, but if he can even hold his own, the onus shifts elsewhere. Kirk Hinrich is a stellar perimeter defender, if a bit overrated at this point, but Nelson has shown to step up in the playoffs against less athletic point guards (prior to being detonated against Rajon Rondo, of course). Jason Richardson should have a huge impact. 

That's where it gets tough. The Bulls are a hard team for anyone to beat, and while the Magic pushing the Bulls to the wire without Howard last weekend has to give them a measure of confidence, trying to stop Rose is going to be a challenge that Dwight Howard can only do so much against. Joakim Noah, Kurt Thomas, Omer Asik, Taj Gibson, the Bulls have fouls upon fouls to throw at Howard. That's what makes Howard such a big x-factor. He's reliable for 20-12. If he could get to that next level? If he could hit his free throws, land a few and-ones on a fadeaway, take over games on both ends like he does on defense? The Magic become an entirely different creature. But that's the issue. Howard hasn't shown that ability on any consistent basis. He'll have one, maybe two games that are out of this world. The question is if they'll come at a time when it makes a difference. 

Dwight Howard won't win the MVP because everyone questions his ability to take over a game, even though no one has an equal impact on the floor consistently minute-per-minute on both ends of the floor. And voters are probably correct in that assessment. Maybe that's the most bizarre twist in all this. The failures of the Magic may provide an out for Howard to leave in pursuit of a championship, and he's capable of being the very thing that pushes Orlando to a championship. 

The Magic aren't out of this. If they get hot from the perimeter, they're incredibly difficult to stop. Jason Richardson steps up in huge ways in the playoffs. They have weapons, they have defense, they have strategy. 

But the narrative still holds. The confidence is gone. It wouldn't take a miracle for the Magic to reach the Finals. 

But it would definitely seem like it.
Posted on: February 9, 2011 2:03 am
Edited on: February 9, 2011 2:09 am
 

Game Changer: Pacers choke against Heat

The Miami Heat get an easy one thanks to a late-game meltdown by the Indiana Pacers, LeBron James gets way up, Blake Griffin throws down the Alley Oop and Chauncey Billups looks cold. 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: PACERS CHOKE AGAINST HEAT

The Indiana Pacers and their new teenage-looking coach Frank Vogel are hard to root against, as the sacking of Jim O'Brien immediately produced a four-game winning streak for a team that had only won four games in the month prior to his dismissal. 

The winning came to an end -- and Vogel's undefeated head coaching record was finally tarnished -- on Tuesday night as the Pacers lost to the mighty Miami Heat on the road, 117-112. 
  The ending to this one was not only bizarre, it was fairly rare. Allow me set the scene.

With 8.9 seconds left, the Pacers have the ball on a side inbounds play in the frontcourt, trailing by three points, 115-112. The Pacers stacked four players in the middle of the court with guard Dahntay Jones inbounding the ball. Even without strong initial pressure on the ball, Jones couldn't find anyone, and he watched as Pacers forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. fired across the top of the key, as point guard Darren Collison shot into the near corner and as forward Danny Granger came directly to the ball. The only non-shooter on the court for Indiana, big man Jeff Foster, just stood stunned in the paint watching this car wreck unfold. 

With all three possible options exhausted, Jones finally threw a bounce pass in to Granger, only to have the referee blow his whistle, signalling for a five second violation.

Man alive. How often do you see a five second violation on a potential game-winning, last second play? Not often. 

Credit goes to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who had a small-ball defensive lineup in with guards Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade and a trio of forwards: LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Mike Miller to defend against the obvious three-point attempt. Chalmers didn't initially pressure the ball that hard, but as the clock started ticking he does move up, obscuring Jones' vision. Miller and James simply did their jobs, shadowing their men and not getting hung up on screens. Dwyane Wade probably had the largest role in causing the violation, sticking to Granger like glue, forcing Jones' delay and indecision because he was worried about a Wade steal from behind.

But we shouldn't go overboard in praising Miami. This wasn't a difficult to time catch-and-shoot situation. This was a standard late-game entry pass that the Pacers simply couldn't execute. Get. The. Ball. In. Bounds. They couldn't do it.

Miami cashed in on the mistake as the Pacers were forced to foul immediately and that was the ball game. Take a look at the play. Admire the meltdown.


GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:

LeBron James:  41 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists on 15-of-23 shooting in 42 minutes in a Miami Heat home win over the Indiana Pacers.

Dwight Howard:  22 points, 20 rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block, +30 (!) on 7-of-13 shooting in 37 minutes in an Orlando Magic home win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Zach Randolph:   31 points, 13 rebounds, four assists on 11-of-19 shooting in 47 minutes in a Memphis Grizzlies road win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

DON'T MISS:

SNAPSHOT:

Blake Griffin might put more people on posters, but nobody dunks in more photographic fashion than LeBron James. Watch out, below. My goodness. Two of his 41 points. 

lebron-dunk

HIGHLIGHT REEL:

This is just a Blake Griffin dunk every single day, you know how I do it. Here Griffin catches the alley oop lob pass and dunks over Orlando Magic forward Ryan Anderson, much like he dunked over Kyle Korver recently. Griffin struggled on the night, scoring just 10 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in 35 minutes of action in a 101-85 loss to Orlando.



WHIMSY:

Per Denver Nuggets team policy, Chauncey Billups does not charge baggage handling fees. Boy, he looks cold.
chauncey-billups-snow

FINAL THOUGHT:

I, for one, am glad that Kevin Durant made the three-point contest even if he is the only one of the contestants to shoot below league-average from deep.  Given his competitive desire, overall talent level and ability to rise to the occasion, Durant not only makes a great candidate, he serves as an excellent foil for the field. He gets to take on a Larry Bird role here, the intimidating all-NBA gunner who the specialists can try to take down. I love it. What better script is there for a three-point contest?
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com