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Tag:DeAndre Jordan
Posted on: December 14, 2011 7:53 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:41 pm
 

Grade The Trade: Clippers get their man, CP3

By Matt Moore

You only get a shot at Chris Paul once. That's it. This opportunity will not come again, and honestly, a chance at a player of his caliber only comes along once every generation. But the trade -- as reported by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com -- that the Clippers pulled sending Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman, and a first-round pick to New Orleans for the best pure point guard in the league isn't about that. It's about what fits best with the future of the franchise. And the future of the franchise is Blake Griffin.

Sure, you want shooters for the kickout, someone to take the pressure off Griffin. But you can get those. Shooters abound. What don't abound are top level point guards who understand the pick-and-roll as well as any guard in the league. That's CP3. That's Chris Paul. Griffin will benefit more from Paul than he will from Gordon, and that was the kicker in this deal. While the haul for the Hornets is not only acceptable, but worlds better than the platter proposed in the original rejected trade, the gain for the Clippers is too great. They're in a position to win now, win in the future, win for the next decade.

CP3 traded to the Clippers

You have to keep Blake Griffin at all costs. The risk is too great that the team won't develop with Griffin, will stall out, and then watch as he departs, potentially to their neighbor at Staples. But this? This is a realignment. The Clippers have a shot, albeit a slim one, at changing the status quo that the Clippers are losers and the Lakers are winners. The Lakers didn't get Chris Paul. The Clippers did.

There's talk that Chris Paul may leave in two years (it's widely expected that part of the agreement involves Paul opting in for the 2012-2013 season and becoming a free agent in the summer of 2013 vs. next summer). That the Clippers could be left with nothing.

But you take that risk. You gamble that CP3-Billups (that move looks a lot better)-Caron Butler-Griffin-DeAndre Jordan is enough to compete, with an extra year to build around them, now as a top free agent position. You risk all of that because if you can't win enough with that group to convince Paul and Griffin to stay together, nothing will. No more aiming for the playoffs, for aiming for respectability, for trying to just be decent.

The Clippers have shot for the moon. The worst case scenario is the most exciting two years in the history of the Los Angeles Clippers. Greatness isn't made by being conservative; fortune favors the bold.

The Clippers made the bold move, and now they have Chris Paul.

Look up, there go the Clips.

Grade: A+



Posted on: December 14, 2011 7:53 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:41 pm
 

Grade The Trade: Clippers get their man, CP3

By Matt Moore

You only get a shot at Chris Paul once. That's it. This opportunity will not come again, and honestly, a chance at a player of his caliber only comes along once every generation. But the trade -- as reported by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com -- that the Clippers pulled sending Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman, and a first-round pick to New Orleans for the best pure point guard in the league isn't about that. It's about what fits best with the future of the franchise. And the future of the franchise is Blake Griffin.

Sure, you want shooters for the kickout, someone to take the pressure off Griffin. But you can get those. Shooters abound. What don't abound are top level point guards who understand the pick-and-roll as well as any guard in the league. That's CP3. That's Chris Paul. Griffin will benefit more from Paul than he will from Gordon, and that was the kicker in this deal. While the haul for the Hornets is not only acceptable, but worlds better than the platter proposed in the original rejected trade, the gain for the Clippers is too great. They're in a position to win now, win in the future, win for the next decade.

CP3 traded to the Clippers

You have to keep Blake Griffin at all costs. The risk is too great that the team won't develop with Griffin, will stall out, and then watch as he departs, potentially to their neighbor at Staples. But this? This is a realignment. The Clippers have a shot, albeit a slim one, at changing the status quo that the Clippers are losers and the Lakers are winners. The Lakers didn't get Chris Paul. The Clippers did.

There's talk that Chris Paul may leave in two years (it's widely expected that part of the agreement involves Paul opting in for the 2012-2013 season and becoming a free agent in the summer of 2013 vs. next summer). That the Clippers could be left with nothing.

But you take that risk. You gamble that CP3-Billups (that move looks a lot better)-Caron Butler-Griffin-DeAndre Jordan is enough to compete, with an extra year to build around them, now as a top free agent position. You risk all of that because if you can't win enough with that group to convince Paul and Griffin to stay together, nothing will. No more aiming for the playoffs, for aiming for respectability, for trying to just be decent.

The Clippers have shot for the moon. The worst case scenario is the most exciting two years in the history of the Los Angeles Clippers. Greatness isn't made by being conservative; fortune favors the bold.

The Clippers made the bold move, and now they have Chris Paul.

Look up, there go the Clips.

Grade: A+



Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:54 am
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview



By Matt Moore


We're less than two weeks away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We begin with the Pacific Division.

2011 Standings:

Los Angeles Lakers, 57-25, lost 4-0 to Dallas Mavericks in 2nd round of Western Conference Playoffs
Phoenix Suns, 42-42, NBA Draft lottery
Golden State Warriors,36-46, NBA Draft lottery
Los Angeles Clippers, 32-50, NBA Draft lottery
Sacramento Kings, 24-58, NBA Draft lottery

Best team: Well, see, the thing is... Chris Paul (UPDATE: TIE- LOS ANGELES LAKERS AND LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS)

Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night. Even with the Lakers unable to obtain Paul, the combination of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum is probably enough to take the honors here. But with Paul joining Blake Griffin, even without Eric Gordon, the additions of Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups and re-signing DeAndre Jordan make as tough of a team to face as any. Griffin's impact next to Chris Paul is nearly incalculable.

The Lakers may still have the edge, but after the loss of Odom, everything is up in the air as far as who runs Staples now. The reality is that Paul landing in the city of L.A. will shift the division in one direction or another for the next half-decade at least.

Worst team: Sacramento Kings

The Kings are tricky. They have a convoluted backcourt. Tyreke Evans took a step back last season and it remains to be seen if it was all injury-related or not. There's no telling how Jimmer Fredette will adjust to the pro level. Marcus Thornton will struggle for minutes despite his all-around ability. John Salmons is floating around. There were huge chemistry questions last season and the players struggled against coach Paul Westphal at times.

If things don't improve, if DeMarcus Cousins doesn't mature, if Chuck Hayes can't protect the rim enough with his diminutive stature, things could get bad. And yet...

Biggest surprise: Sacramento Kings

There's so much firepower in that backcourt. Untangling it is complicated but they have everything. Shooting, athleticism, size, range, explosiveness, savvy, handle, everything. They have too much ability to not be effective in some ways. Cousins was a beast last season and even a small amount of maturity and development means he could be a near-All-Star (in the East, the West is too stacked). They have young talented bigs and Hayes who provides savvy and veteran knowledge.

The pieces are there. They're going to be exciting, even if they're struggling with an identity.

Three Best Players: Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Chris Paul

Update: With Paul joining the division, he instantly becomes one of the three best players. The best pure point guard in the league, with excellent shooting touch, terrific defense, and a supreme will to win? He leap-frogs both Pau and Nash. 

Kobe Bryant needs no explanation, even at his age. The end.

Blake Griffin is the most explosive player in the league and the first player in a few years for people to say he could legitimately be the best player in the league at one point. His explosiveness and rebounding is unmatched, his mid-range jumper isn't lightyears away and his defense will get there. Already, Griffin is a force to be reckoned with. What happens when he gets better?

Gasol vs. Nash? Gasol was an early season MVP candidate. He is arguably the most skilled big man in the league (as opposed to Dwight Howard, the most dominant and most talented). And yet his collapse in the 2011 playoffs is the stuff of legend. It was such a complete failure at both ends, when the Lakers needed him most, it's damning. Gasol could very well be the second best player in this division this year. He could also slide back with age.

Nash? Ho-hum, another 50-40-90 season (got to round up for once, but still). His weighted assists, factoring three-pointers assisted on, left him at 13, which means combined with his 15 points per game, he contributed 41 points per game to the Suns. That's absurd. It's also not the highest in the league for a point guard, but it's still an example of how good Nash is. He's flat-out old in relative terms of the league, and yet is in the best shape he possibly could be thanks to conditioning. Nash is still elite, an therefore neither he nor Gasol can be exempted.

Biggest Question: Can Golden State change its stripes?

Mark Jackson has to completely turn what the Warriors know as their identity inside out. They have to commit to defensive principles. David Lee, Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, these players are not known for this, at all. It's going to take a miracle. If Jackson can get them to buy in and if his system is good enough, the Warriors could make a jump. Kwame Brown helps down low (don't laugh, he's become a quality defender). But there's so much to be done in terms of changing this team's indentity, the Warriors could be in for rocky seas.

2012 Projected Standings:
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Golden State Warriors
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Sacramento Kings
Posted on: December 13, 2011 9:51 am
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Posted on: December 10, 2011 11:42 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 9:01 pm
 

Clippers match 4-year offer, keep DeAndre Jordan

Posted by Royce Young

UPDATE: As expected, the Clippers matched Golden State's 4-year, $43 million offer for restricted free agent center DeAndre Jordan, retaining his rights, according to Yahoo Sports and confirmed by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com

---

The Warriors really wanted an athletic seven footer to help complete their transformation into a strong defensive team. They thought that player would be Tyson Chandler, but Golden State couldn't keep up with the New York Knicks.

So the Warriors have taken a step back and gone after a different big man. According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, the Warriors signed restricted free agent DeAndre Jordan to a four-year, $43 million offer sheet Sunday. The Clippers have three days to match the offer.

Jordan, who is just 23 and appears to be really be trending upward, has spent the last three seasons witht the Clippers and averaged 7.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 25.6 minutes a game alongside Blake Griffin.

The Warriors offered Chandler a four-year, $60 million deal last week but weren't able to land the defensive-minded center. So they've turned to a younger, rawer version of him.

What's interesting about this offer is that the Clips have already reportedly extended Jordan a five-year, $40 million offer, one which he turned down to instead check out the open market. So while Jordan could be looking at an extra two million per year, it's hard not to see the Clippers matching on this offer.

The Clippers are certainly inclined to match, unless they have visions of keeping some flexibility for the 2012 free agent bonanza. Chris Kaman certainly isn't a long-term solution at the 5, but you can be sure the Clippers still consider themselves players for Dwight Howard. But then again, you let Blake Griffin's boy walk because you didn't want to pony up an extra two million a year and you might be toeing a dangerous line of ticking off your franchise guy.

Of note: The Warriors are making this move with the ability to not use their amnesty provision on Andris Biedrins though. How? CSN Bay Area explains:
By waiving Jeremy Lin on Friday and not yet signing rookies Klay Thompson and Jeremy Tyler, it appears as though the Warriors can get to Jordan’s starting first-year salary – in the $9 million range -- by amnesty-ing Charlie Bell. The Warriors are waiting until Sunday to sign Jordan to the offer sheet because they need Lin to clear waivers.

Bell, who played sparingly last season, is on the last year of his contract and set to earn $4.1 million. He was recently arrested in Michigan after showing up intoxicated at his hearing for an earlier DUI.

The Warriors have told Bell to remain in Michigan – rather than joining the team at training camp – and that he is a candidate for amnesty.

Obviously Golden State would likely dangle Biedrins as trade bait so that the Warriors don't have more than $20 million a year tied up in two offensively challenged centers.

Again, it seems to me like it makes all the sense in the world for the Clippers to match. Then again, sense and the Clippers don't often mix well.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 10:01 am
Edited on: December 6, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Free Agency Buzz 12.6.11: Bulls want JRich?

 

Posted by EOB Staff

On a shortened schedule with the conclusion of the NBA lockout, free agency is going to be fast and furious. To keep track of all the wheelings, dealings, rumors, and reports, check Eye on Basketball daily for the Free Agency Buzz. 

Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011

2:54 p.m. 

  • Glen Davis is not expected to return to the Celtics, but CSN New England reports that the Detroit Pistons have interest in him and may offer him the full MLE. He's young enough it doesn't disrupt their core, and a Knight-Hamilton-Jerebko/Daye-Davis-
    Monroe is a pretty solid young (except for Hamilton) core. Not a bad idea. 

1:33 p.m.
11:55 a.m.
  • The Clippers will have a second meeting with Caron Butler. "Caron was really happy with the meeting," agent Raymond Brothers told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "We were really impressed by (general manager) Neil Olshey and (coach) Vinny Del Negro. I think they've got a good young team that can win. Caron had a really good feeling about it."
  • Via ESPN Dallas, Jason Terry wants an extension with the Mavs: "My focus is to sign an extension because being the core of what we've built to this point, I believe they want me here," Terry said. "And if the extension is not done, then that tells me something different. And so, I'm going to put all my efforts out here to prove to everybody in this league that I'm going to be here for another four to five years playing at a high level."
10:15 a.m.
  • The Saginaw News in Michigan, hometown of Jason Richardson, reports that the unrestricted free agent has strong suitors in Chicago, Boston, and Golden State. Each location makes a lot of sense. Richardson has hinted that he very much wants to contend for a title, and as a three-point threat who can defend at least decently, particularly in a stronger system, hes going to have huge value. The Bulls would find a lot of value in his perimeter range and ability to body 2s effectively. In short, he's a major upgrade over Keith Bogans, without the baggage that comes with Vince Carter or Tracy McGrady, and in their price range as opposed to Arron Afflalo.
9:45 a.m.
  • Yahoo Sports reports that the Clippers have extended DeAndre Jordan a five-year, $40 million offer sheet to try and retain the restricted free agent. Jordan is expected to not sign the sheet and instead look for a better deal on the open market, forcing the Clippers to match. $8 million a year is a steep price for a player with Jordan's limited offensive abilities, but given his position (center in a weak market, even in a free agency class full of centers), conditioning, age, and production, it's probably in the range of what he's worth. Anything higher and teams are flirting with overpaying him. Then again, given the run on centers in the next week, swinging for a younger one with freakish athleticism might be worth a few extra bills.
Posted on: June 27, 2011 5:56 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 5:52 pm
 

The Top 40 Players in NBA Free Agency

Posted by EOB Staff

When free agency starts there's a relatively lackluster class to choose from. Nevertheless, here are the top 40 players available in unrestricted or restricted free agency now that they tentatively have this sorted out.

Rankings are based on overall value, factoring in production, age, potential, star power, interest and market value. For the full list of free agents this offseason, check out our tracker

1. Nene, C: You're looking at a cornerstone piece in Nene, which means someone's got to pay cornerstone money. He's just now hitting his prime at 29 years old and as the second half of last season proved, he's top guy material. The Nuggets are definitely looking to put pretty much all of their eggs in Nene's basket, but there could be another big spender that tries to swoop in and grab him. He's a prize and someone that can be a building piece for the next four or five years. 

2. Marc Gasol, C:
The perfect combination of factors lead Gasol to our No. 2 spot. Talent, capitalizing on a stellar playoff run, centersmarc-gasol being at such a premium in the league and Gasol's age of 26. There are bigger names on this list, but no one is as valuable as Gasol. His restricted free agency status only drives his value farther, as a front-loaded contract is the only thing that might push the Grizzlies off matching an offer.

3. David West, F: Were West not coming off of a significant injury at 31 years old, he'd likely be in the top spot on this list. A former All-Star with excellent mid-range skills and a heap of attitude, West opted out and enter free agency, presumably to attempt to get a front-loaded contract before any CBA restrictions drive down his long-term value. He'll have bidders if the Hornets don't quickly recapture him once free agency begins.

4. Tyson Chandler, C: Hitting free agency just after being the starting center and a key factor for a championship team -- talk about great timing. Chandler is a lock to return to Dallas as there's no way Cuban lets the guy who validated all that work escape. But Chandler's going to have whatever offer he wants. Which is stunning for a guy who can't contribute much offensively outside of the lob. But that's the difference a ring makes.

5. Jason Richardson, SG: Richardson's age is kind of a concern here; he'll be 31 next season. But he's the best overall offensive weapon and has a few more years of contribution left in him and is the kind of veteran that teams look for. Orlando may be looking to make room for a bigger trade, so Richardson could fetch offers on the market. But if teams have learned anything from the Joe Johnson valuation, they'll keep it within reason.

6. Thaddeus Young, PF: It's really hard to imagine Philadelphia letting one of its very best young options get away, but Young has become one of the most lethal bench weapons in the game. He can realistically play three positions and is one of the game's most versatile players. He became a legit Sixth Man of the Year candidate and as he matures -- he's still just 23 -- he could become one of the 76ers prized future pieces, making him a valuable asset.

7. J.R. Smith, SG: Unstable? Probably. Unreliable? Possibly injured? He may be all of these things. But Smith's a scorer whose not on the downslide of his career. A sixth-man scorer with guts. Think Ben Gordon a few years ago with a worse attitude.

8. Glen Davis, PF: "Big Baby" has a championship ring and has shown he can contribute to a winner. The only thing keeping him lower on this list is a disappointing playoff run after a tremendous season; 14 points and 7 rebounds per 36 with great defense and the ability to take charges will get him the rest of the way.

9. DeAndre Jordan, C: In a normal year, Jordan's the top of the B rankings. This year, he's the seventh-best available player considering value. Jordan had a tremendous year for the Clippers and is nearly a lock to be re-signed by the Clippers. Then again, it's the Clippers. Jordan averaged 10 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per 36 last season but more importantly started to show understanding of defensive rotations, which makes it much tougher to turn away from him.

10. Grant Hill, SF: Anyone else think Hill's career is going in reverse? If Hill doesn't want to return to Phoenix, there will be contenders left and right vying for his services.

11. Tayshaun Prince, SF: Part of the worst locker-room environment in the league last year, Prince should have a higher value, even at 31. He's still capable of excellent defense and averaged 14 points on 47-percent shooting last season. Seeing him in another jersey would be bizarre, but after last season's hijinx, it's a coin flip.

12. Wilson Chandler, SF: Chandler's a young and versatile player. Denver is unlikely to re-sign him considering their need to get Nene back in house and they have Galinari and drafted Jordan Hamilton. Chandler has been rumored to be interested in a return to the Knicks, if they've got the scratch to pay him.

13. Jeff Green, SF/PF: This one is mostly on account of his market value. Green is not a good rebounder. He can't really take over offensively, and he's not a great defender. But Danny Ainge thinks he's the bee's knees and will overpay to keep him, plus he could theoretically develop any of the aforementioned skills. This one caused some debate among our crew in developing these rankings.

14. Jamal Crawford, SG: Crawford made it public knowledge that he wanted a big extension last year, but the Hawks declined to oblige him. Crawford is 31, and his numbers took a dive last season (42 percent FG percentage, 14 points per game down from 18). But he's likely to still pull offers based on star power. The question will be whether it comes close to matching what Crawford thinks he's worth. His playoff heroics should help matters on that front.

15. J.J. Barea, SG: Barea's stock could not be higher coming off the Mavs' championship win. He answered every question about himself and showed the ability to compete at the highest level. He won't dictate a huge asking price due to his diminutive size, but for a role player, he'll collect a tremendous amount of interest, though like Chandler, it's certain Cuban will re-sign him.

16. Caron Butler, SF: So many Mavericks, such a poor free-agency class to drive up their value. Butler's over 30, coming back from injury, and has been on the slide for quite a while. Still, veteran defender who can shoot (or at least can have a few hot shooting nights) is going to get offers. Cuban will likely re-sign Butler in a wave of goodwill on his championship high.

17. Aaron Brooks, PG: The best point guard in the free agent class. How depressing is that? Brooks is a high-usage, low-assist-rate pointaaron-brooks-suns guard who's undersized. And yet because of his work in Houston before getting shuffled off to make room for Kyle Lowry, Brooks is rumored to be on the radar for Sacramento among others, but as a restricted free agent, the offer will have to be significant for Phoenix not to match.

18. Marcus Thornton, SG: Guys who can drop 40 in a night are rare in this league. "Buckets" has that ability coming off his rookie contract. Yes, his shot selection needs work, and he's undersized for a two-guard, but he's scrappy, hustles and can hit big shots. Thornton should be high on every team's list if the Kings elect to let him slide after adding Salmons and Jimmer.

19. Arron Afflalo, SG: A 26-year-old guard with great athleticism who shot 50 percent from the field last season coming off his rookie contract? Afflalo could be a steal if the Nuggets decide not to match for some reason. Odds are that he's headed back to Denver, though.

20. Samuel Dalembert, C: Dalembert played surprisingly well last season for Sacramento. But he's an aging center with injury questions who has never contributed much offensively. So why is he top-20? Seriously. NBA centers. Not good right now.

21. Carl Landry, PF: A below-average rebounder who learned to work well with Chris Paul (who doesn't) late last season. Landry didn't gather a huge contract last time he was in free agency and will probably not draw much this time. Still, he's a reliable power forward who's great defensively even if his defensive rebounding is a significant letdown.

22. Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG: A combo guard's combo guard, Stuckey may have outstayed his welcome in Detroit, even in restricted free agency. Teams looking for quality guard play could definitely look to Stuckey who may have some improvement left in him at 25.

23. Kris Humphries, PF: The Incredible Hump is looking to cash in after averaging a double-double, finding himself in the Most Improved Player discussion and locking down a Kardashian last season. The Nets have expressed interest in David West but will be very motivated to retain Humphries if that chase doesn’t work out.

24. Shane Battier, SF: After taking part in a miracle run past the San Antonio Spurs, it would be heartbreaking to watch Battier and the Memphis Grizzlies part ways. At the same time, Battier has reached the “latch on with a contender as a very valuable role player” stage of his career. Would be a huge get for a team looking for an experienced, gritty wing defender.

25. Mario Chalmers, PG: Chalmers got buried behind Mike Bibby for no apparent reason by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra but, nevertheless, made a solid name for himself by being the most capable and consistent member of the Big 3 support staff. He enters free agency as a young talent with upside if given more minutes, but the Heat, without another point-guard option, will likely do what it takes to keep him.

26. Nick Young, SG: When given the opportunity after Gilbert Arenas was dealt, Young became quite the scorer, finishing up at better than 17 points per game. He was a bit trigger happy however and one has to wonder how he'd fit in a more traditional offense. He's not a go-to scorer but will make a nice bench option or even second or third starting scorer for someone. But that's the thing: He has to realize that.

27. Luc Mbah a Moute, SF: It shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg for the Bucks to retain him. Even though the Stephen Jackson trade muddles up the available minutes on Milwaukee’s wings, a low-cost, quality defender is worth keeping around.

28. Jeff Foster, C: Life isn’t very complicated for Foster. He’s a lunch-pail worker who does the dirty work and not much else. He’s getting up there in years but always seems to find a niche. Indiana’s frontcourt is fairly shallow aside from Roy Hibbert, so if the Pacers strike out in their attempts to get bigger fish in free agency, Foster could be a good fallback option.

29. Jonas Jerebko, SF: A tough-minded wing who has been lost because of injury and the coach-killing mess left by his higher-profile teammates. President Joe Dumars is preaching a fresh start after Thursday’s draft, and it makes sense that Jerebko, a fresh-faced worker, would be a part of that.

30. Andrei Kirilenko, SF: The Utah Jazz are finally freed from one of the ugliest contracts in recent memory. Where will AK land and at what price? Very difficult to say. He’s a quirky guy who brings loads of versatility and should have some miles left. If a contender throws its mid-level at him, that could get real interesting.

31. Marco Belinelli, SG: The Hornets have concerns than Belinelli. Namely, David West. Belinelli's future is uncertain, although his shooting is a clear role player asset that should draw interest, if not big dollars.

32. Kwame Brown, C: The only other big man Charlotte has on its roster is DeSagana Diop, so if Brown leaves in free agency, there will be a gaping hole in the middle. That will be a sure sign that the Bobcats are truly committed to a full-scale rebuild. Once a punchline, Brown has emerged as a serviceable defender.

33. Greg Oden, C: One less knee surgery and Oden's probably a top 15 free agent on this list. Two less and he'd be top five. Butgreg-oden then, that's another universe, and the reality is that Oden is too much of an injury risk to devote money to. For all the promise born in his frame, there's a desperately terrible injury to go with it. At some point there's only so much damage you can do before you're relegated to lemon status until you prove you can stay on the floor.

34. Marquis Daniels, G/F: Daniels wasn't a terrific player but a pretty good one. But he's coming back from a gruesome injury, and that's going to raise red flags.

35. DeShawn Stevenson, G/F: The only Maverick free agent not in the top 20. Stevenson did a fantastic job in the Finals, but the "Ariza effect" is something to be wary of. A strong playoff run does not make up for an overall career of questionable production. Still, Stevenson could be a value pick up for another team... or they could overspend dramatically, blinded by the shine of his championship ring.

36. Earl Clark, F: This one caused some consternation within the committee for where to put Clark. Athletic, low production, warned off in the draft, cast off by Phoenix, produced marginally for Orlando with some intriguing potential. But Clark is young, healthy and can be had for cheap. This is a value slot.

37. Tracy McGrady, F: McGrady actually wasn't bad last year for the Pistons. I mean, the Pistons were bad last year for the Pistons, but still. McGrady isn't going to be a difference-maker, but he can contribute some points, assists and rebounds every now and then to finish out his career. Provided he stays healthy. You can file that under "Famous last words."

38. Josh McRoberts, PF: McBob was surprisingly productive for the Pacers last season, and in a league where big men are overvalued, he'll find a spot.

39. Kenyon Martin, PF: There are dozens of reasons not to sign Martin. But if you need someone with experience to bring a metric ton of attitude to your team, Martin's as good a pickup as any. Remember when this guy was part of a Finals squad?

40. Yi Jianlian, PF: An unrealized offensive talent, Yi still seems like he should be every bit the player of an Andrea Bargnani. Yi's not a strong defender or rebounder, but at seven feet with touch to the 3-point line and just 23 years old, he's going to be worth a contract to see if he can sniff a little of that lottery potential.



Posted on: February 10, 2011 12:26 am
 

Game Changer: Bulls steal one from Jazz

THe Chicago Bulls beat the Jazz in Utah thanks to a critical late-game steal by Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin dunks all over the Knicks, Bill Walton rocks a crazy tie-dye t-shirt and 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: ROSE, BULLS STEAL ONE FROM JAZZ


Earlier today, we took a long look at Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, and the respect he's earning around the league for his new-look jump shot and how it's transformed him into one of the most unstoppable forces in the NBA this season. 

Rose delivered again on Wednesday night, scoring 29 points and dishing out seven assists, to help ease the tension among Bulls fans who had started to itch a little bit after two consecutive road losses in which Chicago uncharacteristically gave up more than 100 points in each game.

Rose's big night was enough to carry a somewhat disjointed, up-and-down Bulls team over the Utah Jazz, 91-86. Utah played sloppy overall and melted down in the game's closing moments, committing three critical turnovers in the last 65 seconds to send Chicago to

It's not often that Utah's All-Star point guard Deron Williams looks flustered, but he was on Wednesday night, particularly late, as his floor sense and awareness weren't up to snuff when it mattered most and he was unable to match Rose shot-for-shot, finishing with just 11 points on 13 shots. 

But, surprise surprise, the game-changing, momentum-swinging play came on the defensive end for Chicago and it was Rose who made it. 

After getting a stop, Utah looked to push out in transition with Williams leading the attack in the open court for a potential 2-on-1 fast break. With the Bulls leading by just one point, 87-86, and just over a minute to play, a basket or free throws by Utah would have changed the complexion of the end game scenario.

Instead, Rose, who started behind his own baseline and shot out of the gates like a scud missile, tracked down Williams just as he crossed the three-point line. Williams never sesed his presence nor did he adapt to a potential swipe from behind, leaving the ball out on a plate as he looked to gather for takeover towards the rim. Rose, waiting for the ball to bounce up off the floor, timed his steal attempt perfectly, getting the ball cleanly and also tapping it to himself in the open court, where he was able to recover possession without the ball bouncing out of bounds. 

It was an uncanny, instinctual, brilliant, physical play, the kind that can send an entire team reeling. Indeed, the Jazz would not score again, committing turnovers on their next two possessions, and the Bulls iced things away with free throws.

Here's tape of the play. Enjoy.


GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:

Roy Hibbert 29 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two blocks on 12-of-19 shooting in 34 minutes in an Indiana Pacers home win over the Charlotte Bobcats.

David West:  32 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, three steals on 13-of-23 shooting in 53 (!) minutes in a New Orleans Hornets road loss to the New Jersey Nets.

Dwight Howard:   30 points, 17 rebounds, two steals and two blocks on 8-of-13 shooting in 44 minutes in an Orlando Magic road win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

JaVale McGee:   16 points, 17 rebounds, one assist, three blocks on 6-of-11 shooting in 37 minutes in a Washington Wizards home win over the Milkwaukee Bucks.

DON'T MISS:

HIGHLIGHT REEL:

This is just a Blake Griffin dunk every single day, you know how I do it. 

Here Griffin a run ahead touchdown pass, tangles feet with New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire, who falls to the ground, and then dunks with two hands with an authoritative finish.


Next up: Griffin corrals the alley oop pass on the reverse pivot in the post and throws it down as he has so many times before.



The dunk of the night actually went to Griffin's teammate, Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who threw down a vicious Griffin-style tomahawk jam in the vicinity of two Knicks players. Oh me, oh my!


WHIMSY:

Bill Walton's tie-dye t-shirt will blow your mind. Here he poses with a member of the Grateful Dead.

bill-walton-t-shirt


FINAL THOUGHT:

Kudos to Jazz point guard Deron Williams, who has been a grump for much of the last two months, for taking ownership of tonight's loss to the Chicago Bulls. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Williams "said loss to Bulls should be placed on him because he didn't finish down stretch." That's true, it doesn't happen often and it's a great sign of class, maturity and leadership that Williams chose to take the rap when he did have a seriously off night.
 
 
 
 
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