Posted on: November 12, 2010 1:35 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2010 1:40 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
1. Kevin Garnett is not exactly the most popular guy in the world right now. Garnett seems to be the kind of guy who is loved by his friends and close circle and is abrasive to everyone else. Do you have any thoughts on his evolving legacy from lovable lunatic lose to hated psychotic champion?
Ken Berger: I think your evaluation of KG is spot on. He is like the crazy uncle that everyone is wary of and constantly nervous about what he might say or do next. But he's family, so you tolerate him. You know, the old, "He's a jerk, but he's our jerk." At this point, Garnett could care less what people think about him or what his legacy is. He's perfectly content to continue yapping and thumping his chest and winning another championship. And I don't see anything wrong with that, as long as he doesn't care that he'll never be named man of the year or Mr. Congeniality. To me, the funniest aspect of this whole episode recently was Joakim Noah calling Garnett ugly. Hey, Jo, I don't think GQ is putting you on the cover any time soon.
2. Not exactly a banner week for the Heat. Scale of 1 to 5. How much should fans (if there are any) be pushing the panic button?
KB: I'd say 3.5. On one hand, some of this could have and should have been expected, given that basketball is a team game and you can't just plug talent into the equation like in baseball and automatically win 70 percent of your games and waltz to the championship. I know that you know that in basketball, how the pieces fit together are every bit as important -- if not more so -- than the talent itself. Eventually, the talent will shine through, and LeBron and Wade will become as deadly a combination as we thought they'd be. But there are several areas of concern that need to be watched closely: The misuse of LeBron's and Wade's best attributes when they are on the floor with a point guard, meaning neither one has the ball in his hands for too many possessions. This can (and should) be solved when Mike Miller comes back. Instead of a point guard, you put Miller on the floor with LeBron and Wade acting as interchangeable wings who take turns initiating the offense. In my mind, LeBron fits this role best. Two, the lack of size is becoming a major issue. Erick Dampier, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Three, Erik Spoelstra struck a chord when he lectured the team at halftime Thursday night about ego. It has been a real wakeup call for these three free-agent darlings who came together so effortlessly. Winning in May and June is going to prove a lot more difficult than winning in July.
3. In the Post-Ups you alluded to the improving situation in New Orleans. Now that the team looks like it's ready to compete in the playoffs again (though it's still early), is it time to start looking for what can get them to the next level, and what is that?
KB: I think it's a positive sign that the Hornets are trying to get someone CP3 would consider to be a top-tier running mate. But they're a little stuck in that regard, and here's why: Peja Stojakovic and his $14.3 million expiring contract could be easily deal to a team trying to get off a lot of future money, and if one of those pieces coming back is an elite 3-point shooter, New Orleans is better in the short run. But they future money they'd have to take back in such a deal would hamper their ability to make moves next summer -- or whenever the lockout ends and under whatever new rules exist. The most valuable asset on the NBA market right now is cap flexibility heading into the uncertainty of a new CBA, especially for low-revenue markets. So the Hornets can't allow themselves to be tempted by the prospect of getting better in the short term at the expense of hampering their flexibility heading into a new deal.
4. You also wrote in the Post-Ups that Kevin Love is garnering offers. Why is it that the Wolves are so reticent to trade him if they won't play the man?
KB: Ah, this is a question that goes straight to the heart of the most mysterious figure in the NBA, David Kahn. I'm told in recent days that Love isn't the only player who wants out of Minnesota. Corey Brewer does, too -- but Brewer isn't making any noise publicly, or even privately. Love is doing both. Right now, the Wolves like Love's talent but are disenchanted with his attitude. I think if the right deal came along, they'd move him. Because that locker room is too fragile right now to risk keeping a malcontent on board. Maybe Kahn can trade Love for a few more point guards.
5. BRI up 3 to 3.5%, record ratings across the board. Selling the NBA store for $300 million. The league is booming. Are owners really going to walk away from the most prosperous time in recent history to prove a point? Really?
KB: Yes sir-ee-bob. A hearty contingent of owners see this as a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity to change the economics of the sport in their favor. They also know the vast majority of people will side with them, because of their inherent biases against "greedy millionaire players." This is silly, of course, but it's just the way things are. There are a couple of reasons to be encouraged: 1) sources tell me numerous owners were impressed with the players' presentation of their proposal at a recent CBA meeting, realizing that the union was offering some creative ideas as how to make the business better for everyone; and 2) there's still a lot of time. The next key time-marker in this battle is All-Star weekend, when both sides concede significant progress will need to have been made. But as in all negotiations, the real progress doesn't happen until the 11th hour. Will there be a lockout? Yes, in my opinion. Are the owners and players short-sighted enough to let it wipe out an entire season, or even as much of the season as the '98-'99 lockout did? I don't think so. Both sides realize there's too much at stake.
Posted on: November 9, 2010 8:17 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2010 2:30 pm
Miami Heat (4): A drop with a loss to the Hornets that they could have won, had they not kept handing off the ball to James Jones and Eddie House who were frozen. With Chris Bosh struggling to find his place , and both of the other stars deferring way too much, the Heat have some problems. Huge week with a rematch versus Boston on Thursday at home. Could this team have 3 losses by the middle of November? Not exactly Most Dominant Ever so far.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 5:06 pm
Posted by Royce Young
I have a confession. This is something I'm not proud of. This is something I haven't told many people, but I'm going to share with you guys who are my closest friends (right?). Up until about five years ago, I didn't know what "tennis shoes" were. I only knew of these things called "tennashoes." It's true.
I considered (and still do) consider myself a decently bright person. But for some reason, that little nugget of information always slipped past me. I remember saying to myself upon learning the correct usage, "Oh, well you learn something new every day."
And when it comes to the NBA, that's definitely true. In this case, we learn new things every week. Now two weeks are down and everyone has at least five games under their belt. What kind of knowledge do we have now that maybe we didn't have before? Five things:
Forget Durant. Forget LeBron. Chris Paul is your current MVP frontrunner - in November. These things change. Kind of like how in college football everyone freaks out and starts declaring Heisman frontrunners in September (remember Denard Robinson and Ryan Mallett? How are they doing now?), people like to crown MVP winners way too early. So keep that in mind as I tell you that Chris Paul is the early favorite to win the MVP award.
There's a lot of criteria, though undefined, as to what it takes to win the MVP. A great season, a great team and big media attention are all important parts. But right now, CP3 has two added things that makes him a prime candidate: 1) A great story and 2) A great turnaround.
Before the season not many expected the Hornets to be a viable contender in the West. But they've started well going 6-0, which includes a big win over the Heat. And what that means is that Chris Paul gets a lot of credit for raising his game to make what most perceived as an average team into a good team and that immediately, we all start saying things like "CP3 4 MVP!"
Come March though, if the Hornets have returned to the planet and are hovering around .500, playing out a season that most expected, Paul probably won't be an MVP favorite. If Durant's Thunder are on course for 50 wins and he's going to lead the league in scoring, he'll probably win. Or if Dwight Howard is putting up 25 and 12 for a 55-win Magic, he'll get the nod. So it's too early to make any real judgments on it yet, but if we were handing out an MVP for the First Two Weeks Award, Chris Paul would be deserving.
Oklahoma City really does has some work to do. It's not time to panic in Thunderland, but it's not a bad time to raise an eyebrow.
The Thunder are 3-3 with losses to the Jazz, the Clippers and the Celtics. Not terrible loss, considering the Clipper loss came on the road. But the two home losses to the Celtics and Jazz are really the ones that have people puzzled. In both games, OKC was down by 20 points and in both games, struggled on both ends of the floor.
The Thunder offense is basically a complete mess right now. It's all one-on-one basketball with at the most, two passes on a possession. OKC ranks dead last in assists per game and last in assists per field goal made. They aren't moving the ball, aren't spacing and aren't shooting well. Honestly, maybe it's a miracle it's not worse than 3-3.
So much expectation was placed on this team and it's way too early to give up on them. It's too early to even start saying things like, "I thought this team was supposed to challenge the Lakers... yeah right." Give it time. How you're playing in the first two weeks of November doesn't matter near as much as how you're playing the last two weeks of March.
It's too early to be concerned about a team that still has every key piece off a team that won 50 games last season. But it might not be too early to ask what's going on.
It's the Lakers and 29 other teams right now. There are about four elite looking teams in the league right now. The Heat, the Celtics, the Magic and the Lakers. But the Lakers have even separated themselves from those other three at this point.
The 7-0 record is nice, but the Lakers lead the league in point differential, winning by an average of 13.6 points a game. And it's not just that, but they've dismantled teams. Like dominated them. What's scary too, is that they aren't even at full strength without Andrew Bynum. That sound you heard was the entire Western Conference peeing their pants.
It's way premature to start talking about 72 wins for this team because their competition hasn't been that difficult and losing three in a row isn't that hard to do in the NBA. But as it stands now, in terms of ranking power, it's the Lakers alone at the top, with 29 other teams looking up.
Houston may have a big problem. (Has that joke reached a point where it's fair to use again? Like it's so lame that it's kind of OK?) The Rockets start of 1-5 was unexpected. They do have an excuse because they've probably played the toughest schedule in the league thus far. The teams they've lost to are a combined 25-5. They finally caught a bad team, whooping the Timberwolves Sunday.
Houston surely isn't feeling great about its start because you never want to dig a hole early, but with the loss of Aaron Brooks for 4-6 weeks, it could be getting a little rougher for the Rockets. They are on the road for five of their next six and after three weeks of the NBA season could be too far behind to make up ground.
The Wolves are truly terrible. In the same way starting any 72-win talk now is way too early, starting any "worst team ever" talking is equally premature.
Howevah, the Timberwolves are ridiculously, comically bad. They won their opening game by a point over the Kings and now have dropped five straight. They are losing by an average of 17.1 points per game right now. The next closest team is the Wizards, who are losing by 11.6 ppg.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, in the past 20 seasons, only two other teams have suffered three 25-point losses in their first seven games: the Bulls in 2003 and the SuperSonics in 2005. The Wolves have lost by 25 or more in three of their first seven games. Yikes.
Add in the fact that the Wolves lost every functioning point guard on the roster and may be starting Wayne Ellington or Maurice Ager there for a week and it's kind of hard to picture the next Minnesota win.
These are the pains you go through when you're rebuilding (or I guess "building" in Minnesota's case). Remember, the Thunder were 3-29 before Christmas two seasons ago. So things can be turned around. But at this current moment, the Wolves are a total disaster in every way.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 12:22 pm
Wolves injuries leaving point guard ranks depleted. Posted by Matt Moore
The Wolves were criticized a year ago for going hog-wild on point guards. They drafted Jonny Flynn, Ricky Rubio, and Wayne Ellington (a two-guard but we'll count it), and signed Ramon Sessions. Now they're out of point guards. These are the Timberwolves.
Flynn's on the shelf with a hip injury for two more weeks , Ricky Rubio is muching on tapas on a Spanish beach somewhere, Sessions has been traded to Cleveland and newly acquired Luke Ridnour is now out with an injury as well . Which means your point guard fleet for the Minnesota Timberwolves? Ellington, Sebastian Telfair, and Maurice Ager.
How could this possibly go wrong? And to think a year ago they were flooded with point guards.
The good news is that the triangle doesn't really require a prolific point guard. They basically set the offense and hang out to hit threes (hence why Derek Fisher has had such a long and prolific career). Now, getting past the question of why they set up a triangle offense and then drafted Ricky Rubio, it means that this may not be that big of a hit for the Wolves.
Except for that whole, being terrible at basketball thing.
Posted on: November 4, 2010 4:29 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:29 pm
Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Jonny Flynn is reportedly three weeks away from returning to the court after summer hip surgery. Posted by Ben Golliver. On Oct. 26th, we noted a report that stated Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Jonny Flynn was 4-6 weeks away from returning to the court after a summery surgery on his hip. That timeline seems to be progressing on schedule, as Hoopsworld.com reports today that Flynn is three weeks out from a return.
Jonny Flynn is making progress after undergoing surgery for a torn labral in his left hip. The point guard is participating in full-contact practices and the team is shooting for him to return in three weeks, according to sources.
Flynn's surgery required extensive rehab and he's been gradually increasing his physical activity in recent weeks. The second-year player is fortunate he needed just one surgery because occasionally his ailment affects both hips and requires two separate surgeries and rehabilitation periods, similar to what Milwaukee Bucks' rookie Darington Hobson is currently going through.In Flynn's absence, the Timberwolves have been just horrible. Wolves forward Michael Beasley called his team "the worst in the NBA," forward Kevin Love has been mixing it up with coach Kurt Rambis, and wing Martell Webster went under the knife for a minor back surgery. The Timberwolves are currently in last place in the Northwest Division with a record of 1-4. They got absolutely annihilated by the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic on Tuesday and Wednesday, losing the two games by a combined 74 points. They are set to face the undefeated (5-0) Atlanta Hawks on Friday. While Flynn isn't likely to turn Minnesota's season around single-handedly, the Timberwolves need all the help they can get.
Posted on: November 2, 2010 9:28 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:23 pm
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley suffered a hip injury against the Miami Heat on Tuesday night. Posted by Ben Golliver. Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley, who recently said he played for the "worst team in the NBA," was off to a hot start Tuesday night before suffering a hip injury that forced him from the game. Beasley, who was making his first return trip to Miami after being traded by the Heat to the Timberwolves over the summer, scored 11 points in 11 minutes of action. At roughly the eight minute mark of the second quarter, Beasley was fouled and fell to the ground, injuring his left hip. He left the court to receive medical attention and, by league rules, was not eligible to return to game action because he was not able to attempt a free throw he had been awarded on the play. Beasley then received an X-ray in the arena during the game. Jerryd Zgoda of the Star Tribune reports on Twitter that the X-rays came back negative and that the team was calling the injury "a left hip contusion." It's not immediately clear whether the injury will force Beasley to miss any time. For more on the injury, click here.
Posted on: November 1, 2010 4:23 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2010 4:25 pm
Posted by Royce Young
In a sport where the regular season is six months long with 82 games packed in between, it's hard to really draw any meaningful conclusions from the opening week of the season. Some fans are panicking, some are filled with unbridled optimism and some are feeling more of the same after spending September convincing themselves, "No, I really think Thaddeus Young can be an All-Star and if so, who knows?"
So despite the fact that roughly only three percent of the season has been played, let's look at five, of what could be 500, things we've learned this far.
The Hornets might be kind of good. Chris Paul, remember that guy? He's pretty good. And his team, the Hornets? They might be too.
They're 3-0, with one of those wins coming on the road against the Spurs. They beat San Antonio, Milwaukee and Denver, three quality opponents that all were in the playoffs last season. They've yet to allow 100 points and are doing an outstanding job of sharing the ball and getting scoring from multiple spots.
With Paul back running the show and new additions Trevor Ariza and Marco Belinelli doing their parts to fill in some scoring, this team could be potentially dangerous. There's not a ton of depth there so if Paul or someone else goes out for an extended period, times get get tougher, but as of now, the 3-0 Hornets look fairly legit.
What makes the Heat scary isn't what you think it is. Teaming LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh together likely makes opposing coaches think, "How in the bleep are we going to stop those guys?"
And while that's still true, the real question might should be, 'How in the bleep are we going to score on those guys?"
Nothing has been more impressive about the Heat thus far than their defense. Toss out any cliche NBA word and it works to describe it. Stifling. Swarming. Stingy. Scoring on the Heat right now is harder than scoring on San Francisco Giants. They can guard every position and their apparent weakness hasn't been exposed at all, even against the league's best big man in Dwight Howard.
The Heat lead the league in defensive efficiency, giving up just 86.6 points per 100 hundred possessions. That's outstanding.
Miami will be tough to beat throughout because of the matchup issues it creates, but what could make them a true title contender is the fact they don't let you score.
The Clippers are probably the Clippers again . In the opener against the Blazers, for three quarters there was legitimate reason for excitement in Clipperland. Blake Griffin looked fantastic, Eric Gordon was scoring and the team has some actual energy and excitement about it.
But as often happens with Clipper seasons, it could be over after that first game. There was some buzz surrounding this team as a potential dark horse in the West, but Sunday's game against the Mavericks really pointed out some serious issues.
The Clippers had no idea what to do offensively. There was no scheme or plan. It was all pointing, talking and bumping into each other. Whoever was running point was basically trying to draw a play from the top of the key as the 24 second clock ticked away. Griffin appeared to be a little frustrated, specifically in the fact that nobody seemed to be playing as hard as him.
It's early and the Clippers have enough talent win some games, but the first impression has been more of the same.
For some reason, Kurt Rambis just doesn't like Kevin Love . After three games, Kevin Love is fifth in the NBA with 13.0 rebounds per game. He's averaging 14 points per game. But here's the problem: He's averaging just 25.3 minutes per game.
Extend Love's current stats out to a per 40 minute average and he's putting up 22.1 ppg and 20.5 rpg. And yet, he continues to get bench minutes in what's now, a starter's role.
It's not like the Wolves are winning and Love is just fitting in. Right now, Minnesota is 1-2 and has struggled scoring (something Love does well). They are however the best rebounding team in the league with a plus-12.7 differential. Imagine how good they'd be if their best rebounder saw over 30 minutes a game?
The Kevin Love situation is honestly one of the most fascinating storylines in the league this season to me. He's Minnesota's best player, best scorer and best rebounder, yet he doesn't get as many minutes as Wayne Ellington, Michael Beasley or Luke Ridnour.
Now in Rambis' defense, nobody on the team averages more than 30 minutes per game and most everyone hovers under 25 minutes per. So maybe it's an institutional thing. But then again, maybe that's a good explanation as to why they haven't been successful thus far. Common sense says play your best players the most minutes. But the Wolves are just preaching transparency and honesty, not common sense.
Nobody knows if Houston is good or just average yet. In the Rockets' opening game against the Lakers, they held a lead for the majority of the night before the defending champs turned it on and won behind late heroics from Shannon Brown. But most agreed - the Rockets will be good.
Then they lost their next two games to the Warriors and the Nuggets which left some scratching their heads. So are the Rockets good, average or possibly bad?
I think you can certainly take out bad because this Houston club has players and will win. But is it a top four team in the West? Maybe not. Really, are they a playoff team? That's potentially up in the air as the last two games really showcased some major defensive problems Houston has right now.
This upcoming set of games could put the Rockets in a big hole early if they don't get their act together though. After playing the Hornets at home, Houston goes on the road for six of their next eight.
Posted on: November 1, 2010 10:24 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:19 pm
After six weeks playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, forward Michael Beasley is singing a different tune. Posted by Ben Golliver. Don't get it twisted: no one will mistake Michael Beasley for a bastion of reliability. But, back in September, when the new Minnesota Timberwolves forward, brought over in a trade with the Miami Heat, was just starting to get acclimated in his new city and new team, Beasley's optimism was at an all-time high. In an interview with Timberwolves.com writer Jonah Ballow, Beasley was asked if his former team, now loaded with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, was the team to beat in the NBA.
"Honestly, and I know a lot of people are not going to like that fact that I'm going to say this but I think we are the team to beat. You know, that's just me and my ego speaking. I think the Lakers are the defending champs two years in a row, I think the Lakers still hold that title. It's nice to see somebody try to fight back but as of now, the Lakers are still the team to beat."That's right, Beasley said the Timberwolves -- a team that was coming off a 15-win season last year, a team that hasn't broken .500 since 2004-2005 -- were the "team to beat." A team whose president, David Kahn, thinks useless center Darko Milicic is "manna from heaven" and who was fined for telling a radio station that Beasley had a problem with marijuana in Miami, but it was behind him now. The team whose coach, Kurt Rambis, runs the triangle offense without most of the necessary pieces to make it work. It goes without saying that Beasley's boldly optimistic prediction elicited plenty of laughter and wisecracks of the "Let's see what he says in December" variety. Well, Beasley didn't even make it all the way through October. Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press reports that Rambis is already questioning his team's professionalism, just three games into the season. Richardson notes that "the word 'Professional' was written in large letters on a chalkboard inside the Timberwolves' locker room Saturday night" after a 20-point loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night. As for Beasley, who enjoyed a fair bit of winning at Kansas State and in Miami, the transition to the basement sounds a bit rocky.
"I feel like everything we've been working on since training camp went out the window tonight," Beasley said. "As of right now, we're the worst team in the NBA."
Beasley was so disturbed with the results that he sat in front of his locker stall staring at the floor with his uniform on. He was the last player still in uniform, but he had a reason. Beasley was preparing to go back onto the court to do some extra shooting.In case you are keeping score at home, it took just six weeks for Beasley's assessment of the Timberwolves to plummet from "team to beat" to "worst team in the NBA." That's got to be some kind of record.