Posted on: July 19, 2010 7:40 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2010 8:18 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
The prospects have gone home, the lights are turned off and the court's been rolled up. Summer League in Vegas is over. Here's a look at the rookies that brought the Thunder and those who had their parades rained on.
Bright Light: John freaking Wall. Wall was pretty much everything fans, scouts, and media expected. There were downsides, don't get me wrong. After a strong debut, shooting wise, he returned to the clank fest he showed in college, finishing with a 38% mark from the field. He had some turnovers, which is pretty normal for a rook. But the rest? Ye Gods. One of the more surprising elements of Wall's game was his change of direction. Wall's reverse, pull-up leaner, and floater were all on-target. The combination of his vision and speed, which were the most hyped parts of Wall's game, were brutally efficient. Perhaps most surprising of Wall's week was his development in intangibles. Even with a Summer League roster of fringe players, this was Wall's team. When Wall exploded to the rack and hammered home a dunk in traffic, JaVale McGee acted like he'd just posterized Dwight Howard. There are things to work on, but Wall was the biggest winner from Summer League.
Black Hole: Xavier Henry . He's more of a non-existent star. Henry was held out of Summer League play due to a contract dispute, despite the existence of the rookie pay scale, specifically meant to prevent this. Part of the blame is certainly on the Grizzlies, but Vasquez was playing without contract, so you have to wonder: Did Henry hurt his learning curve by not joining his teammates in Vegas?
Bright Light: DeMarcus Cousins' first three games. Cousins was the player who looked like he simply couldn't be handled physically. He was dominant on the glass, finished off of offensive rebounds, and showed the most versatile set of post moves of any big in the SL. He had his emotions in check and played to his potential. He managed this against good young bigs, including Greg Monroe (who was a bright light in his own right). It would have been a great week for Cousins if it weren't for...
Black Hole: DeMarcus Cousins' last two games . And then everything came crashing back down. Cousins' final two games were a combination of emotional implosion and inefficient play. He got into it with the refs, pouted, moped, and could not buy a bucket. It certainly seemed like Cousins' hit the wall. Which is not a good sign after a handful of games, with the grind of the NBA regular season coming. Cousins may end up becoming one of those polarizing players in the league if this trend continues.
Bright Light: Larry Sanders. The Bucks are going to have a fleet of capable, talented power forwards this season. Sanders was one of the most impressive rookies in Vegas, playing solid defense, showing off a well-balanced frame, and looking very much like a versatile offensive option. Sanders' mid-range game was considerably better than expected. He showed nice tough with the ball and again, is a mountain in terms of size. He needs to work on his spacing and defensive awareness, but it was a very impressive showing.
Posted on: July 14, 2010 12:48 am
Edited on: July 14, 2010 1:03 am
Posted by Royce Young
Being in charge of a roster in any sport isn't as easy as us fans like to think it is. We have the ever-helpful tool of hindsight and we definitely use it every available opportunity.
And while GMs are often given time to develop their roster "vision" and plan, that doesn't mean they get forever, especially if the team stinks. Even if the plan is perfect, if the on-field or on-court results don't yield positivity, the chances of receiving a letter with the black spot on it increase exponentially. Ken Berger illustrates the ripple effect of firing a GM quite well in reference to the most recent dismissal, the Hornets' Jeff Bower.
So with four NBA general managers already being relieved of their duty this offseason, the obvious question is, who could be next? Who's on the hot seat and just how warm is it? Let's look at five captains that currently have warm backsides.
David Kahn, Minnesota Timberwolves
For whatever reason, I just feel like Kahn has some sort of trick up his sleeve. Surely these moves aren't really this nonsensical. Surely he has some sort of coherent plan, some kind of method to this madness. However, nothing indicates such a thing thus far.
With Tuesday's trade of former franchise man Al Jefferson to Utah for some draft picks and the rumored signing of a fourth point guard, Kahn's current reputation is nothing more than poster boy for clueless general managers. When writers are wondering if an avocado might make a better GM than you , that could be a warning that your seat is about to light on fire.
Donnie Walsh, New York Knicks
The pressure in New York is always higher. And plus when you campaign for a job behind the promise of luring LeBron James and then don't come through on that, things can tend to get a little dicey. But Walsh appears to have a quality plan. He's secured some cap space that will come in handy over the next few seasons when players like Carmelo Anthony become available.
However with the large signing of Amare Stoudemire and the overall deconstruction of the roster in order to build a winner through big signings, if Mike D'Antoni and crew don't deliver, Walsh may be putting his resume on CareerBuilder or actual might be retiring.
Joe Dumars, Detroit Pistons
Dumars was once considered one of the best and brighest in the GMs in the game. And then Allen Iverson happened. A trade that sent fan favorite and champion Chauncey Billups to Denver for a washing-but-not-quite-washed-up AI is what sent Dumars' into a tailspin. It was a bold move which I can definitely respect in a league where bold moves often don't happen, but simply put, it crashed and burned. Dumars then gave Richard Hamilton a curiously large extension, inked Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva for too much money and hired and fired a coach within a calendar year.
This year is big for Dumars. The Pistons landed a potentially excellent big man in Greg Monroe in the draft, plus have some promising young players like Jonas Jerebko and Rodney Stuckey. But Detroit isn't the type of town that handles being in the lottery multiple years very well. Sure Dumars brought home the big trophy in 2004, but in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, Dumars' teams haven't done a lot lately.
Ernie Grunfeld, Washington Wizards
Yep, Grunfeld was gifted John Wall. And yep, Wall could potentially save a lot of people's jobs because he's really, really good. But the thing is, when you land a talent of Wall's caliber, the pressure immediately shifts to the GM. He's got to supply his new, shiny toy complementing pieces to make sure he succeeds. And so far, the jury's out as to if Grunfeld is doing that.
He's obviously trying to move Gilbert Arenas and his albatross of a contract to better make room for Wall. He brought in Kirk Hinrich who could be an excellent player next to Wall. He also grabbed Yi Jianlian from New Jersey. But the team doesn't figure to be a whole lot better this upcoming season and with some expectation in Wall, if he doesn't develop, it could the end for Grunfeld.
Ed Stefanski, Philadelphia 76ers
Why Stefanski? Elton Brand. Elton Brand says it all. When you ink a player to a huge deal and then one year later are publically shopping that player to unload what everyone agrees is a "bad contract" that means you probably screwed the pooch. And when that contract will likely haunt the franchise for multiple years, then you really know it was bad. And of course the hiring of Eddie Jordan only to fire him months later definitely doesn't look great. Strike one and two.
The 76ers haven't been a truly relevant contender since 2003. And it's not like the 76ers don't have talent. There's just no cohesion to the roster in general. Andre Iguodala is a quality player, but he's clearly not a leading man. You can't fault Stefanski for trying though. He drastically overpaid for Brand, but that's because he thought he was a piece away. Though there's certainly honor in that, that stuff doesn't matter to a frustrated fanbase. Landing the second overall pick and Evan Turner could be huge for Stefanski but if Turner and the team comes along slowly, that could be strike three.
Posted on: July 12, 2010 6:14 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2010 6:57 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
We marvel at the attention brought upon LeBron James in the past two weeks and especially following last Thursday night, but the seeds of NBA star hyper-attention are sowed in more than just the top rung. Nowhere is this more evident this week than in Las Vegas, where at NBA Summer League Sunday night, John Wall made his professional preseason debut with the Washington Wizards. Media attention was in a frenzy, the gaggle three times as big as it was for any other player. Wall wanted the attention and spotlight that comes with a #1 overall pick, he's got it.
And his game? Lots to discuss , both ways. 28 points, 8 assists... and 8 turnovers. Wall was overly excited, nervous, and it showed. He pushed the ball too much and occasionally whipped passes to no one in particular. He also had his jumper going, which had been a major concern for him in pre-draft talks. The release was sharp and on-target, his follow-through right. He had strong passes to teammates and ran the offense, including several alley-oops to JaVale McGee. It was a good debut, with some things to work on.
But the most important part of the night? The most impressive thing Wall did had nothing to do with ball-handling, shot-release, vision, athelticism, or speed (but Lord Almighty, is he fast). It was something outlined by Wizards blog Truth About It's Kyle Weidie today :
He wasn’t just vocal on both ends of the floor in his Summer League debut, an 84-79 Wizards win over the Warriors, he was loud. If his teammates don’t hear his instruction, it’s not his fault. They aren’t paying attention. And he doesn’t just use his vocal chords, pointing to talk is just as much a part of Wall’s game as that extra gear of speed he has over all others on the court.
Want more talking and leadership? When out of the game, Wall placed himself toward the front of the bench, talking with assistant coach Ryan Saunders, talking to his teammates, yelling out instruction toward the floor. Over the course of the game, you’re looking at 30 minutes if you total the amount of time Wall spent talking with Sam Cassell, who is heading the Summer League coaching staff for the Wizards. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but you get the point, Sam I Am is always in Wall’s ear and Wall is always listening.
That's exactly what you want out of your #1 overall pick. Focused intensity, determined leadership, and coachability. Wall is already showing a lot of what the Wizards need, what they've needed for years. The predictable next question?
How's Gilbert Arenas going to react to this rookie taking charge?
But there's time for that. For now, everyone can watch what is looking like a phenomenal prospect already hitting the ground running. His passes aren't always on target, but his focus is. The ability is there. The drive is there. All that's needed now is time.
Posted on: July 1, 2010 10:36 am
Edited on: July 1, 2010 11:36 am
All of the little free agency stories that flow through. We'll have several of these throughout the day, updated regularly.
A mystery team dropped a "small square box" containing a gift off at LeBron James' house at 11PM Wednesday night, according to the New York Daily News . Our best guesses as to the gift are the heart of a lion, whatever was in the suitcase in "Pulp Fiction ", or a Russian doll containing $2.4 million in bonds. (HT: FanHouse )
Richard Jefferson opted out of his contract, but that doesn't necessarily mean much for the team basketball-wise. Spurs blog 48 Minutes of Hell reports that with the team significantly over the cap still, Jefferson's opt-out doesn't clear them to make any significant moves and leaves them with a hole at small forward. You have to wonder if Tony Parker and his contract may be even more on the block.
Chris Bosh is predictably keeping track of his free agency exploits on Twitter. As of 4EST, he had met with the Bulls, Raptors, Heat, and Rockets (check out more on our discussion of Houston's chances ). You have to wonder if it's better to be early or late in these discussions. The Knicks seem to be taking the latter approach, since they went and visited Mike Miller first thing last night.
Darren Rovell of Sports Biz reports that part of the Nets' offer for LeBron James is a clothing line via Jay-Z . These are the kind of advantages teams have to pull out. There's so much more going on here than just money and a good core of players, though those things are up-front the most important.
Via Wizards blog Bullets Forever , Yahoo! Sports reports that Washington is looking to fill that whole at small forward quickly . They've already spoken to both of their expired small forwards (Mike Miller, Josh Howard) and are looking at Ryan Gomes, Travis Outlaw, Rasual Butler and even Josh Childress who is still in Greece. With the acquisition of Kirk Hinrich, the Wizards have to be thinking on the cheap with this contract, and likely won't want to commit to anything long-term. Then again, they traded for Kirk Hinrich and Yi Jianlian, so there's no telling what they're going to do next.
John Hammond is "cautiously optimistic" that the Bucks will be able to re-sign John Salmons. Then again, we think Hammond is "cautiously losing his mind" for giving Drew Gooden a 5 year, $32 million deal when he has Ersan Ilyasoava and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute along with rookie Larry Sanders to pair with Andrew Bogut. Hammond's either gone around the bend or is in pursuit of something...
Tags: 2010 free agency, Chris Bosh, Cleveland Cavaliers, Daryl Morey, Drew Gooden, Ersan Ilyasova, Free Agency Layups, Houston Rockets, John Hammond, Josh Childress, Josh Howard, Kirk Hinrich, layup line, LeBron James, Mike Miller, Milwaukee Bucks, Rasual Butler, Richard Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, San Antonio Spurs, Tony Parker, Travis Outlaw, Washington Wizards
Posted on: June 29, 2010 2:11 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2010 2:33 pm
Speaking of seven foot tall Chinese dudes ...
CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports that the New Jersey Nets have traded more of their assets to clear cap space. This time, they've jettisoned Yi Jianlian to the Wizards in return for Quinton Ross . The move saves the Nets about $3 million and will put them close, but not over the space needed to sign two max free agents, leaving them still behind Miami, New York, and Chicago. They'll have a little over $30 million in space, needing a little under $33 million to sign two max free agents in this class.
The Wizards get an interesting player, but one who has clearly not lived up to the hype surrounding him coming into the league. Jianlian has been criticized for being soft. Okay, that's an understatement. Imagine the creamiest, most whipped yogurt you can imagine. Now drive a truck through it. That's what most people consider Yi's defense to be like. He's seven feet tall, but plays at the small forward spot. On Washington, he'll battle with Al Thornton for the starting-small-forward-that-needs-m
Jersey on the other hand now can revamp it's team pretty cleanly, even if they whif on one of the big three.