Tag:Andrei Kirilenko
Posted on: March 30, 2011 8:22 pm
 

Andrei Kirilenko will test free agency

Posted by Royce Young

Andrei Kirilenko, and his hair, will be a free agent this summer. He's made mention of maybe going to Russia depending on what happens with the NBA labor situation, but he's likely looking for one last good contract.

Kirilenko is just 30 and when healthy, is a productive swingman and class defender. If Travis Outlaw can get $30 million, Kirilenko will land a deal from someone. (How about those Nets? Not only are they willing to overpay, which is something Kirilenko would like, there's that Russian connection with Mikhail Prohkorov.)

Question is, will it be with the Jazz, or are they moving on? Utah general manager Kevin O'Connor kind of hinted at his intentions in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune.

"He's got an opportunity to test the free agent market, and there's nothing we can do about it," O'Connor said. "He's filled his contract. We've fulfilled our side of it. We would like him back, sure, absolutely; that's a conversation we'll have. He'll look at it. Because he's got other options, because he's a foreign player. ... He likes it here. That's what he's told us."

I don't know about you, but that sounds to me like a GM that doesn't see Kirilenko in his team's future unless Kirilenko is willing to take a major salary slash just to stay. "We would like him back, sure." Yeah unless Kirilenko is willing to give Utah a coupon for missing a big number of games the past two seasons because of injury, I don't see him back in Salt Lake.

Kirilenko was rumored to be a big trade piece at the deadline and was reportedly part of the original four-team deal that would sending Carmelo Anthony to New Jersey.

The Jazz are looking to rebuild behind a younger core and though Kirilenko is a nice player and by no means old, he really doesn't fit. Between Gordon Hayward, Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, the Jazz have some nice pieces. They've got draft picks to use and with a player like Kirilenko coming off the books (owed almost $18 million this season), some cap space to play with.
Category: NBA
Posted on: February 21, 2011 4:07 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 12:03 am
 

NBA Trade Deadline: Ten Most Wanted

With the NBA trade deadline approaching, we take a look at the league's ten most wanted players for acquisition before Thursday afternoon.
Posted by Matt Moore

The NBA trade deadline is just three days away (Thursday, February 24th at 3 p.m. EST). The Melo trade has held up a lot of movement but there's a lot of talk bubbling beneath it. With it expected to be resolved in the next 24 to 48 hours (like we've said about ten times, but bear with us), it's going to be a fast and furious final trade season under the current CBA agreement.  Many are predicting a toned down deadline due to the CBA, but there are enough buyers (Houston, Boston, Chicago, New Jersey) and enough sellers (Portland, Indiana, Charlotte) to make for some interesting developments as we head down the stretch. But who are the players that everyone's clamoring for? And why are they worth that much?

Saddle up, partner. Here's the true grit behind our NBA Trade Deadline 10 Most Wanted. 

1. Carmelo Anthony: Melo, naturally, is the most wanted. It's not just the vast history of all this nonsense; it's how it's come down to the wire. Two teams, both of which will be located in New York in 2012, with rich, eccentric owners, throwing out asset after asset to try and acquire the All-Star. Anthony's worth it. Even with his defensive issues and relative inefficiency compared to his fellow elite players, Anthony can score anytime, anywhere, anyway. He's a clutch performer who can take over a ballgame and having a 1-2 punch between him and either Amar'e Stoudemire or Brook Lopez would significantly boost the Knicks' or Nets' hopes for the future. His agents have kept the pressure on since July, and Denver has been slowly losing their resolve to keep him. The odds are heavily favored that Anthony will be moved sometime this week and it will kick off a series of deals with the other front offices around the league. And then the New York/New Jersey circus will really kick off. 

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports Monday that that the Nets may actually be trying to get two of the assets the Nuggets would get in a deal with the Knicks for two first rounders. If that works out, the Knicks and Nets will combine to give Denver two starters and three picks. It's not the loaded deal the Nets were offering for Anthony, but it's still an insane wagon-full of assets. If they wind up with Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, and three first-round picks in exchange for just Melo and Billups, they've still lost because they lost an All-Star. But they also will have successfully set the team up to immediately turn around and compete right off the bat. They'll still be able to move J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and have Ty Lawson and Aaron Afflalo to build around along with Nene. This is the dream scenario for the Nugget if they have to trade with New York. 

2. Andre Iguodala: Iggy has been on the market for literally years. He's the consummate supporting player, able to pass, rebound, and score. He's never played alongside a top-flight point guard (sorry Philly fans, Jrue Holiday's not there yet), and has had to play the part of the primary offensive option, which he's ill-suited for. The Sixers have recently made quite a bit of noise about him not going anywhere, which frankly, baffles us. They have Evan Turner who has shown significant signs of progress as the season has progressed, and his value on the market trumps his value to the team as it tries to build a new core. But he has $44 million left on his contract, which is a big price tag to swallow for a guy who should probably be no more than third option on offense. That's not a knock on Iguodala, as we've come to understand the things he does defensively and in support for the system are nearly invaluable, and that's before we factor in his locker room leadership. If a team decides it wants to make a big move and has young assets to spend, Iguodala is a prime target for a late push.

The real answer to whether Iguodala will be moved is whether Rod Thorn and coach Doug Collins think that he's able to co-exist with Evan Turner, and if they think Iguodala can continue to be the face of the franchise with so much young talent around him. Jrue Holiday, Turner, an improved season from Thaddeus Young, and even with Elton Brand performing better than expected. At the same time, the Sixers are right in the playoff hunt, in an underwhelming middle of the Eastern Conference, and a great shot at making a run this season. However, the Sixers would be foolish to commit to Iguodala, turning down a good offer for him just to make the playoffs and get run out of the building in the first round. Part of putting your team in a position to win championships isn't just figuring out what will work, but what won't. Iguodala will continue to elicit calls right up until the deadline, big contract or no.

3. Andre Miller:  Old man game in the house!  Miller is an aging, veteran point guard who has proven he can still drop 40 every once in a while. You know exactly what you're getting with Miller. He is a consistent, reliable scorer who lacks upside and athleticism, but always manages to find a way to get it done. He's a relative steal at $3.6 million (prorated) for this season and $7.8 million non-guaranteed for next season. That means two different types of teams can vie for him: those seeking a veteran point guard upgrade to push them over the top, and those looking to dump salary next year while giving their team a reliable fill in for the remainder of the year. The Blazers have been so-so on Miller since he arrived as a free agent in 2009, clashing with Nate McMillan. But those problems were resolved quickly and he's grown to be a strong force in the locker room, the steady hand on a ship filled to the brim with the injured. Yet, he's 34 and the Blazers look to go younger. Miller has repeatedly been listed as a target in a potential Devin Harris trade, among others.  The Blazers may look to keep him order to push for the playoff income, especially given his ability to connect with LaMarcus Aldridge, but if Rich Cho elects for a full-scale revamp for the long-term, Miller will be one of the first assets put on the block, and one of the first to attract multiple offers. 

Miller's attitude may be a huge factor. He doesn't want to leave the Blazers, but is also tired of being discussed under trade talk. Moving to a rebuilding project, however, would be extremely difficult for him at this point in his career and could create an ugly situation with any team that trades for him who isn't on the up and up. On the flip side, he's a perfect option for a contending team looking to acquire a capable back-up point guard to get them over the top. While there's been little noise about this, Orlando would be one team you'd think might be giving Portland a call to inquire about Miller, should the Nets not immediately move Harris for Miller in the next few days, either through Denver or independently.

4. Marcus Camby: Speaking of the Blazers, they've got another aged, talented, productive player starting for them, and he too could be on the move. Camby has a little less than $17 million (prorated) left on his contract. He's a versatile, talented defensive center who can impact a game at both ends, is reliable and capable. He's a seasoned veteran who does his job, has an expiring contract after 2012, and can push a contender over the top. The only problem? He doesn't want to leave. Sources have said he would "contemplate retirement" if he was traded to a rebuilding situation, and his agent has talked strongly about how much he wants to stay in Portland, where he's moved his family. We've seen this before, as older players really love the atmosphere and lifestyle of raising their families in Portland, on a team with a loving fanbase that always tries to contend. Still, Camby can't control what happens, and if presented with an opportunity to win a ring, he would likely welcome the opportunity wholeheartedly. 

The same problem exists for Rich Cho with Camby as it does with Miller. They're both huge reasons why the Blazers are still in the playoff hunt and moving them would almost certainly result in a drop to the lottery. The Blazers are likely aiming to get a deal that frees them up long-term while still taking on players of a solid caliber. They know it will be difficult to improve with a trade for Camby, but they may be able to move his conract while still adding talent to keep them in the same place. Houston has been mentioned by CBSSports.com's Ken Berger as a possible destination for Camby.

5. O.J. Mayo:  Talk about a bad year. In Summer League, the Grizzlies pressed O.J. Mayo to play point guard, resulting in some terrible, turnover-filled performances after which he was yanked following a handful of performances. He was cut from Team USA despite their need for perimeter shooting. In preseason, Lionel Hollins questioned him publicly. He started the year in a shooting slump, so significant that Hollins decided to move him to the bench, in order to improve their bench scoring, the first time Mayo has come off the bench in organized ball in his life, mostly likely. His name started to appear in trade rumors. He watched as Mike Conley got a $40 million extension, with Lionel Hollins backing him for two years despite his struggles, while Mayo was yanked to the bench at the first sign of a slump. He got into a fight with Tony Allen on a team flight over a gambling dispute and got his lights knocked out. And then he got busted for a performance-enhancing drug, earning him a ten-game suspension. 

So why then is Mayo then such a popular trade prospect? Because he's very good. In his first two years in the league he was a high-level perimeter threat, able to score both in spot-up situations and off the dribble. He has a ways to go on defense, particularly against larger two guards where he's almost always undersized, but he shows great quickness and anticipation. He's still on his rookie contract and will be an RFA under the newly modified CBA next summer, meaning he's not a risk to depart a team that acquires him. And he's one of the few players who is truly capable of dropping 30 on a given night when he's hot. He's everything you want in a trade prospect. Unwanted by his team, available for affordable extension, talented, still with upside, and with low trade value due to off-the-court issues and team decisions which don't signify long-term problems. The Grizzlies have consistently said publicly that they plan to re-sign Mayo and not trade him. But there have been suggestions across the league that teams have inquired about him and received positive feedback that he can be had for the right price, though that's expected to possibly be too high. Mayo is teetering on the very edge of a move. If a GM gets itchy to acquire a player of that ilk, he's likely to go. 

6. Aaron Brooks: Seems like only yesterday he was carving up the Lakers in the 2009 playoffs, prompting L.A. fans abroad to ask "Who IS this guy?!" Now he's an upcoming free agent without an extension, disgruntled and unhappy as the Rockets have done what they usually do. Get the most out of a player's ability without ever over-committing to a contract they would regret later. They did the same thing with Carl Landry, eventually signing him on the cheap, then trading him to Sacramento for Kevin Martin. Now they face a similar situation with Brooks, only he represents an expiring contract, increasing his trade value. 

Brooks' value on the open market isn't sky high. He's an undersized point guard who's not particularly efficient. He doesn't have insane athleticism, nor does he possession tremendous vision .He's just a good, solid, young point guard who can be had for a reasonable price. And even with the depth of the point guard position, those are still valuable. Brooks has incredible speed and is a tremendous finisher at the basket. He's had some trouble with Adelman but this season has been the first where he's struggled with team issues. What's more, the Rockets won't horde him, trying to get the most value out of him. Instead, he can be had in a combination package with some of the rest of the Rockets' young talent. But Brooks can be used as the centerpiece in the deal. A team looking for a backup point guard to provide scoring will likely look to Brooks first when they go to market. 

7. Andrei Kirilenko: It's baffling that in the midst of what seems more and more like a disastrous season for the Utah Jazz, Andrei Kirilenko's name hasn't started foaming from sources' mouths like the sources have Russian Freak Wing Rabies. Kirilenko is 29 with several good years still left in him, averages 13, 6, and 3, with 1 steal and 1 block in 32 minutes per game. But biggest of all? He has a $17.8 million expiring contract. Close to $18 million coming off the books. There's been a lot of talk that expiring contracts won't hold as much value this year with the CBA coming up, which doesn't make a lot of sense. For starters, the new CBA likely won't affect luxury tax payments for this season. Next, even if the cap is decreased significantly, and even if it is made into a hard cap, space under that cap will still be valuable. Especially for teams looking to park contracts like Kirilenko's to get rid of their players and change things up. Kirilenko isn't the star the Jazz hoped he would be when they signed him to his last contract. But he's still a tall, strong, veteran player who can contribute to a contending team, or help a rebuilding franchise transition. Kirilenko will likely start popping up in rumors as the deadline draws nearer. 

The problem is that even by paying for a rental with Kirilenko, you don't know what you're going to get. His time with Utah has been described with significant high points and low points. He's been a big reason for the Jazz' continued success, but has also never taken the next step that management thought he would when the signed him to the extension. Teams trading for him have little way to tell how he would react in another locker room, and that's a big gamble for the remainder of his $17.8 million contract. 


8. Devin Harris: Harris was thought to be the building block of the Nets' rebuilding project when they traded Jason Kidd for him. But he's only been above average, never great, especially after that first season. When the Nets were in the lead for the John Wall sweepstakes last year, which of course they lost, there was rampant talk that the Nets would trade Harris once assured of the No.1 pick. We never got to find out the answer to that as the Nets wound up with Derrick Favors, instead. Harris isn't as young as some folks think, turning 28 three days after the deadline. But he's in his prime, and still able to run an offense, has little injury history, good explosiveness, nice scoring ability and good vision. Which is why he's been a part of the Nets' talks for Melo since the beginning, and why should a deal fall through for Anthony, he's likely on his way out anyway. 

Harris has suffered with poor teammates but the thoughts from several front office officials is that he could produce were he on a contending team. It's difficult to go from a playoff team like Dallas to a rebuilding project, especially when his second season in New Jersey was historically bad. Throw in the weight of trade rumors hovering overhead and there's enough to cloud the issue of Harris' performance. But the Nets will have to capitalize while that value is still in effect or they'll wind up with nothing for him. Portland has expressed interest several times, including the aforementioned deal for Andre Miller, and Dallas has shown similar interest. 

9. Stephen Jackson / Gerald Wallace: One of them will probably go. Not both, most likely, but one. The Bobcats need to cut salary. They're looking at an uphill climb to the playoffs, and even then the odds of any progress there are nonexistent. They need to get rid of some of the older players on large, sizeable contracts, and these two represent their biggest sale items for such a move. Jackson has been involved in more talks. He's a veteran scorer who can drop 30 regularly, has played on a championship team (Spurs 2003), has led the most unlikely upset in NBA playoff history with the Warriors, and is respected across the league as a fierce competitor and locker-room leader. 

Sure, he's a little nuts, but who isn't? Jackson's off the court issues have vanished with age, and now his biggest liability is his contract. Golden State surrendered a massive extension to him that leaves over $20 million still left on his contract over the next two and a half years, all guaranteed. Jackson will be 35 when his contract expires. That's a pretty old player with a less-than-elite ceiling to be paying over $10 million to. But considering the possibility of CBA rollbacks on current contracts, and the chance for Jackson to contribute to a winner, he's likely going to be high on the list. The Mavericks have been most prominently discussed as a viable buyer, with Caron Butler's expiring as bait.

Wallace on the other hand was an All-Star last season, is only 28, and is a high-price addition. He's got $21 million left on his deal over three-years, and a player option for the third year. But Wallace could contribute immediately to a contender. He's a wing that can rebound, provide assists and scoring, and is an elite defender. He's reliable and has no discernibly blatant weaknesses in his game, despite a low ceiling for performance. Wallace isn't going to drop 40 on you, but he is going to stuff the stat sheet every night. Jackson has received more attention, but it's Wallace who may wind up getting stronger offers he can't refuse as the deadline nears.

10. Ramon Sessions: Sessions was drafted in the second round, spent time in the D-League, then showed up with the Bucks and  immediately showed promise. But he was then buried by Scott Skiles, and wound up signing an offer sheet with Minnesota, who of course, mishandled him, then traded him to Cleveland. Sessions has played for most of the season as the starting point guard for the team who lost the most consecutive games in history (with Mo Williams missing significant time due to injury). So why are so many teams interested in him?

Because he's talented, consistent, and efficient. Sessions has a strong ability to attack the basket, good handle, and is cheap. He's got just $10 million left on his deal over three years with a player option in the third year. He has a 19 PER and has proven to be coachable, talented, and has considerable growth potential. He's simply been passed from one bad team to the next. On a good team he could wind up as a serious addition off the bench. Which is why the Knicks and Hawks have both made inquiries about him. Sessions is the kind of player who deserves a fresh start. Maybe he'll get one to get off this disaster of a Cavs team. Either way, expect a lot of talk about him before Thursday afternoon.

(All salary info courtesy of ShamSports .)

Posted on: February 14, 2011 1:18 pm
 

FIBA, the NBA and the looming lockout

Posted by Royce Young

As the days of a potential lockout near, the more we hear of players trying to come up with a backup basketball plan. Most of that involves Europe.

Dirk Nowitzki, Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Jennings and even Kobe Bryant has floated the idea of taking their talents overseas if a lockout carries over into the NBA regular season.

The hangup there is their current contract situations. For instance, Kobe is signed by the Lakers through 2014. If he were to play in Europe, he'd have to sign a new contract with a new team, which you know, can't happen because he's already under contract in Los Angeles. Unless it's bought out. Or if the team just says it's totally cool, which most won't because it's a major risk with injuries and such.

But that's not even the main hurdle to get over. Before anything, FIBA has to allow it.

However, a player can move to a foreign tem is he's cleared by FIBA and the issue is whether or not FIBA would allow players who are under contract in the NBA to come over because of a lockout.

ESPN.com reports that the NBA Player's Association thinks players will indeed get clearance from FIBA. "NBA teams ultimately will not be able to legally enforce contracts during an NBA shutdown, whether it's short or long."

Also in that report is that the NBPA is advising players that it's a major risk if they go to Europe (or anywhere overseas) because they could be forfeiting their NBA contract if they get injured there. So if Dirk goes to Germany and tears both ACLs, he probably won't have his Mavericks contract anymore. That's a pretty huge risk to take and one I doubt players are really that interested in.

But the threat is there and it sends a pretty good message to the league that the players are looking at their options. They don't intend to twiddle their thumbs waiting for negotiations to get hashed out. If they have to look elsewhere, they will.

And by the sound of it, they'll at least have the option.

Posted on: January 19, 2011 10:52 am
Edited on: January 19, 2011 10:53 am
 

Prokhorov in town, Nuggets OK meeting with Melo

Posted by Royce Young

The Nets were probably hoping to have Carmelo Anthony gift-wrapped and waiting for Mikhail Prokhorov when the Russian billionaire owner arrived in New Jersey today.

But that's not happening unless someone gets on the phone like right now and gets to work. What the Nets are planning for is that elusive meeting. Finally.

According to the New York Daily News, Denver has OK'd a meeting between the Nets and the Nuggets superstar and that could lead the way to a three-team deal that has been in various stages of negotiations for the past few weeks.

"If the meeting hasn't already taken place," as the Daily News puts it, then it's supposed to happen over the next few days. The Nets and Prokhorov's PR people had no comment on the time frame for the meeting.

During this "meeting," the Nets owner and other minority shareholders (like Jay Z), hope to persuade Anthony to commit long-term to the Nets.

According to the AP, even if Melo doesn't commit long-term, the Nets may go ahead with the trade, but scale it back somewhat. They would hope to bring in Melo and use the next few months to persuade him into staying. That was kind of Denver's plan too, but it doesn't appear to be working.

One other item of interest: If the Nets fail to get Anthony, the Nets won't just close shop. The Jazz's Andrei Kirilenko is a free agent this summer and knows Prokhorov well enough that the two have dinner in Russia when Kirilenko goes home every summer. According to the Daily News, Kirilenko is on the team's radar as a potential player and front-office official.

So while he's not exactly Carmelo Anthony, the Nets have a Plan B. Even if it's just Andrei Kirilenko.
Posted on: January 13, 2011 12:10 pm
 

If a lockout, Kirilenko would go back to Russia

Posted by Royce Young

We all know about the lockout that's almost guaranteed to happen. But we have really talked, or thought, that much about what would happen with the players during it.

One player already has a plan. Andrei Kirilenko says he would try and get back on a team in his native Russia if there's a work stoppage.

"If a lockout happens, I will definitely go back to Russia and play on a Russian team," Kirilenko told The Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday.

Kirilenko, who just gained his U.S. citizenship on Monday, will enter the 2011-12 season in the final year of his contract with the Jazz.

The owners biggest bargaining tool in negotiating with players is money. Most agree that if a work stoppage happens and players stop getting paid, that they'd crumble eventually because they need money. Despite making millions, it's amazing how many players play paycheck to paycheck. But when you've got all those expenses, the bills just don't stop coming because you're not getting paid.

But Kirilenko obviously has a plan and a way to make money. Other players? Yeah, they probably don't have that luxury. And I don't think guys will want to uproot and head overseas for a couple weeks (or months) just to get paid.

The lockout's coming, so it's best to get ready. Players included.
Category: NBA
Posted on: November 30, 2010 11:28 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:06 pm
 

The Game Changer: Heat go .500 in November

The Miami Heat actually win a game despite a crazy flagrant foul, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul duel in OKC, Andrei Kirilenko's hair does it again and Houston ... poor Houston.
Posted by Ben Golliver


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

THE BIG ONE: MIAMI HEAT BEAT Wizards, GO .500 FOR NOVEMBER

The Miami Heat stood out on a light Monday night of NBA action, and not just because everyone wanted to know whether coach Erik Spoelstra would make it through halftime without being fired. The Heat hosted the Washington Wizards to close their November schedule, and salvaged a .500 month (8-8) with a commanding 105-94 win.

Washington was without rookie point guard sensation John Wall, sitting with a sore right knee, so most of the luster on this match-up was lost before tip. In its place arose violence, as a series of chippy episodes cluttered the second half as Miami began to pull away.

The biggest single incident, without a doubt, came when Wizards forward Hilton Armstrong used both arms to shove Heat center Joel Anthony during a layup attempt, sending him flying through the air Matrix-style and leading to gasps from the crowd. Just take a look at Anthony's horrific flight. joel-anthony Watch out, below, Gilbert!

Heat forward Juwan Howard rushed to Anthony's defense, shoving Armstrong to the ground from behind as he attempted to check on Anthony's health. The sequence led to ejections for both Anthony and Howard. For video of the whole thing, click here .

Tensions continued into the fourth quarter as Wizards guard Kirk Hinrich and Heat forward James Jones got into an elbows-flying, double-technical incident. But, in the end, the bitter back-and-forth proved to be a sideshow. The Big 3 were all dominant, combining for 76 points, 23 rebounds, 12 assists, and six steals, shooting a combined 23-49.

Still not enough to be a quality team, but more than enough to beat an ice-cold Wizards team that shot just 3-17 from downtown. The win ensured that the Heat avoid finishing their first full month of the season with a losing record and buys coach Erik Spoelstra a brief respite from the piranhas circling for his job.

GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:

This race came down to the two point guards leading the charge during the game of the night, a spirited New Orleans Hornets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder slug fest that saw OKC escape, 95-89. Despite the turnovers, Westbrook takes home the honor due to his fearless shot-making to provide most of the winning margin.

Russell Westbrook
: 25 points, 5 rebounds, 11 assists, 5 steals, 8 turnovers on 9-19 shooting in 37 minutes in a home win over the New Orleans Hornets.

Runner-Up...

Chris Paul
: 17 points, 2 rebounds, 14 assists, 5 steals, 2 turnovers on 6-13 shooting in 35 minutes in a road loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

LOOK BEHIND YOU CHRIS!

By Royce Young

We call this thing here the Game Changer because every night, there are plays that change games and therefore, outcomes. And Jeff Green's chase-down block of Chris Paul qualifies.

Not completely though, because the Hornets scored four straight points after, putting Oklahoma City down eight. Yet the play energized a somewhat unusually sedate OKC crowd and fired up his team. Green came streaking from halfcourt to block Paul and erase an easy two points. CP3 is one of the fastest players in the league with the ball in his hands, yet Green didn't take the two for granted. He went and made a play.

The Thunder who had been struggling mightily in the third quarter, scored 11 points in the final three minutes of the third and closed the Hornet lead to just two. At that point, the game was up for grabs again and with an energized arena behind them, the Thunder held the Hornets scoreless on 10 straight trips in the fourth, going on a 13-0 run to secure a big 95-89 win.

Here's the block, plus postgame comments from Green talking about it.

WHIMSY:

When in doubt, search for pictures of Andrei Kirilenko's hair on Getty Images. It's like putting a Wayne's World wig on Mt. Rushmore.

ak47hair

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The Houston Rockets lost to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, falling to 5-12. The New York Knicks are currently 9-9. Entering the season, not many would have guessed that Houston's own first round pick would wind up higher in the draft lottery than the pick owed to them by the Knicks. That's how it's shaping up so far.

Posted on: November 16, 2010 11:08 am
Edited on: November 16, 2010 11:29 am
 

Game Changer 11.16.10: Comeback failures

Posted by Matt Moore

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

THE BIG ONE: MAVS TAKE A BAT TO THE HIVE

Take note of this. The Hornets were on the road in a hostile environment. They were facing a team that features a set of players that maximizes on several of their weaknesses, most notably the fact that no one has anyone who can guard Dirk Nowitzki and the Hornets have zero perimeter defenders to chase down Jason Terry, regardless of the results of a playoff series two years ago. The Hornets faced a stifling performance against Chris Paul which held him to two points and four assists in the second half and some heroic plays from Dirk Nowitzki on broken plays.

And the Hornets lost by only three.

If that's not a sign of how good the Hornets are, I don't know what is.

So how did they shut down Paul? Easy. They threw the kitchen sink at him. Take a look.



That's three defenders closing on Paul as he comes off a deep-wing three and rolls baseline. Nowitzki is tall enough to block out the sun so Paul can't lob, Kidd is cutting off the corner three even as he hedges to force Paul off the quick baseline turnaround, and Tyson Chandler is another big body keeping Paul baseline and cutting off the wing outlet. Paul's forced to move baselines to the corner with the shot clock winding down and take a contested step-back three that misses badly. Piece of cake. You just have to throw three defenders at him and hope Willie Green isn't smart enough to figure out that if he slices down the lane behind the defense Paul's going to have a perfect wrap-around for him.

In short, the Mavericks' defense was sublime in the second half and it still almost wasn't enough. Forget best point guard. Chris Paul so far might be the MVP.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT

Tyrus Thomas: 20 points on 11 shots, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals. We're going to ignore the 7 turnovers because we're nice like that and Thomas frowns enough.

Runners-Up:

Dirk Nowitzki: 25 points on 7-12 shooting, 10 rebounds, 3 assists. Nowitzki's rebounding is the highest both in raw per-game and percentages it's been in three years.

Carmelo Anthony: 20 points, 22 rebounds. We're going to give Melo the Gadget but this has to come with a preface. He took 19 shots, had 6 turnovers and was playing the Suns who couldn't rebound if Mose Malone's clone showed up for them last night.

Monta Ellis: 27 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, just 1 turnover in 31 minutes.

WHAT YOU MISSED

IT CAME FROM THE BLOGS

From Orlando Pinstriped Post on their quietly dominant win over the Grizzlies:

I believe the Magic really emphasized exploiting low-post size mismatched tonight, but with varying results. They cleared out to allow fifth option Quentin Richardson post up the far smaller, less physical O.J. Mayo inside, for instance. And Rashard Lewis had his shot against the likes of Sam Young and Tony Allen, but Lewis didn't enjoy similar success. Playing primarily at small forward, he shot 3-of-13 from the field and 1-of-5 from three-point range. While the Magic want--and, frankly, need--him to shoot a better percentage, I think the sorts of looks he got tonight are more in line with what we can expect for him the rest of the way. Brandon Bass' emergence at power forward has eaten into Lewis' time at that position, which means more play at the three for Lewis.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF COMEBACK

Similar to the Hornets, the Jazz faced insurmountable odds and still had a chance at the game winner. Unfortunately, Andrei Kirilenko took a pass from Deron Williams who was being shadowed similar to Paul, and elected for some sort of reverse underhand double-pump monstrosity of a shot intead of resetting the offense to work for a three and the Jazz' winning streak of comebacks fell short. The scariest part for the NBA? Kevin Durant woke up last night with 30 points on 17 shots. They hammered the Jazz inside to get to the line, and walked out of Utah with a win.

ANATOMY OF A NEAR-COLLAPSE

The Dubs were up by about a billion last night, killing the Pistons in the first half, before nearly letting the Pistons shove them back (while the Pistons were nearly shoving each other, but we'll get to that in a bit). Here's what it looked like, via our GameTracker.



FINAL THOUGHTS

The Nuggets have very nearly no reason for letting the Suns beat them last night. The Suns were on a back to back after a remarkably hot performance against the Lakers in LA and have no rebounders. Bad stuff.

On surface, Michael Beasley's big night looks great. 28 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists. But dig a little deeper and you find it took him 25 shots to get there and he was blocked three times. Beasley needs to be the Alpha Dog, he doesn't need to go off half-cocked, regardless of how bad the Wolves' offense is.

New Jersey? Not as bad as you think.

Follow F&R on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA and check out our RSS feed . This has been your daily edition of the Game Changer.
Posted on: October 21, 2010 2:33 am
 

Nuggets interested in... Anderson Varejao?! What?

Floppy-haired Cavs forward on list of players Denver covets... for some reason.  Posted by Matt Moore

When KB dropped the verse Wedneday night that the Nuggets have a list of veteran bigs they want in return for any deal involving Carmelo Anthony, there were the usual suspects. 

Joakim Noah: Top flight center. Charming possibility of a beehive. Great rebounder. Young, talented, and tenacious. Makes sense. 

Andrei Kirilenko: Super-attractive wife. Excellent versatile skill set. Able to play multiple positions. Valuable contract. Makes sense. 

Andre Iguodala: The superstar role-player. Able to play the 2, 3, or 4. Great rebounder, passer, and auxiliary scorer. Easy to get under his skin by calling him easy nickname of "Iggy." Slaps rookies in the face with powder. Makes sense. 

Gerald Wallace: Plays so hard every night, every play that he has given himself a concussion and collapsed a lung. Terrific all-around athlete that can do nearly anything you ask of him. Sweet headband. Makes sense. 

Anderson Varejao: Wait, what?

Don't get me wrong. i'm not ignorant in the ways of defensive plus-minus, nor am I oblivious to the stout mechanics of Flopsy's defensive prowess. And hey, if you need a clean-up score, Varejao is your guy. Stick that guy next to 2005-era Tim Duncan and watch the offensive putbacks roll in. Coast to coast like butter and toast. 

But Varejao is far from a complete player, and we've yet to see him outside of being the rather fourth-option level sidekick to the MVP. We're kind of lacking a good sample set on how he'd do where his, say, the second or third offensive option. Varejao's jumper improved last season (jumped to a 50% shooter from less than 10 feet from 35%). But he's still got no range, lacks a true post-set and is, in general, Anderson Varejao. 

What's more confusing is that Anderson signed a new deal in the summer of 2009, with roughly $33 million guaranteed. That's a big, long term, expensive contract entering into a new CBA for a team that would be for all intents and purposes blowing it up and starting over. If you look at what the Nuggets should do in such a move, Varejao is pretty much the polar opposite of that idea. Even if, in the only plausible scenario that involves Cleveland in a deal, there is a third team acquiring Anthony who would send some fictional young superstar to Denver, you'd still be left with a significant financial restriction. 

For the Cavs? Giddy up. If the Cavs do somehow manage to talk Masai Ujiri into taking Varejao's contract, their rebuilding project would be even further along than they thought. Moving Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison then becomes much easier in terms of accepting a quarter-on-the-dollar type deal. The assets they would then acquire, in combination with cap space, a dreadful team guaranteed for the lottery, the Heat's high 20's pick to use in combination with remaining assets on draft day, and the massive trade exception they received from the great James robbery, would put them in line for a massive transformation in only a few precious months versus a long-term project that may take years to complete. 

New York tried everything it could to ruin Cleveland by taking James away this past summer, only to watch Miami do the dirty work and leave them outside the party. Ironically, it could wind up being Cleveland that helps them get the next best available thing. The only question is how long that will take. 

For now, as KB writes, we'll have to wait and see. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com