Tag:Ty Lawson
Posted on: August 15, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 3:48 pm
 

Ty Lawson signs with Lithuanian team Zalgiris

Posted by Royce Young

Lithuanian team Zalgiris is putting together quite the little backcourt. After signing Sonny Weems most recently of the Raptors earlier in the summer, Zalgiris added a pretty substantial name (potentially, pending lockout) Monday: Denver guard Ty Lawson.

The team tweeted on its account: "NBA starting PG joins us! BC Zalgiris signed Ty Lawson from Denver Nuggets till the end of NBA lockout!!!"

Zalgiris is one of Europe's top Euroleague teams having won the Lithuanian title last season. (If you're not impressed, consider that Lithuania produces a lot of NBA-level talent.) The team is owned by newly inducted Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis.

According to Draft Express, Lawson is getting a "seven-figure deal with an NBA out."

Obviously it's just another lockout provisional contract in which (hopefully) Lawson might not even play a second for them. And by "seven-figure deal" that just means it could be for a total of $1 million. Could be for $5 million. It's probably not going to be for a whole lot but Lawson is looking to get paid and he's going to at least get a little.
Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:31 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 2:53 am
 

The EOB Elite 100, 51-60: The World Champ Jasons

Posted by Ben Golliver

Rankings by EOB Staff.

jason-kidd-jason-terry 
This is the fifth segment of the CBSSports.com Eye on Basketball Elite 100, counting down the top-100 players in the NBA. 

Check out the earlier installments: 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61

As we near the halfway point in our countdown of the top-100 NBA players, we take the opportunity to honor two first-time NBA champions who share a first name, a position (guard) and an age bracket (old). Dallas guards Jason Terry and Jason Kidd were both critical components of the Mavericks' run to the 2011 NBA title, highly-skilled role players who outpaced expectations in the postseason to provide franchise forward Dirk Nowitzki with the help he needed to take down the Miami Heat

For their contributions, Terry and Kidd both find themselves in the 51-60 range, along with two Utah Jazz forwards, two polarizing big-dollar pivotmen and four other players who range from young and immensely talented to nearing their last legs.

Without further ado, let's proceed.

60. Al Jefferson, F, age 26, Utah Jazz

2011 Stats: 18.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 49.6 FG%, 20.20 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 62, 53, 62

The wide-bodied Jefferson stared basketball death in the face twice – first by playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, second by tearing his ACL – and he lived to tell about it, playing in all 82 games for the Utah Jazz last season and returning to his near 20-10 form. Jefferson can’t be mistaken for an all-around player: he’s a liability defensively, is a bit of a black hole and he doesn’t boast much range. But he can fill it up around the hoop, take up space in the paint and secure a solid portion of the boards.

There are a lot of parts in Utah’s frontcourt, especially after the Jazz used the No. 3 overall pick to select Enes Kanter, but the fit is questionable and further roster shake-up is definitely a possibility. Thanks to his big-dollar contract that extends through 2012-2013, though, Jefferson is likely to remain in place through next season as a stabilizing force in the middle surrounded by a roster in flux.

59. Brook Lopez, C, age 23, New Jersey Nets

2011 Stats: 20.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 49.2 FG%, 19.33 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 55, 67, 55

Talented, promising seven-footers are rare in the NBA, especially those who boast 20 points per game scoring ability, no major injury history and excellent character.  That’s Brook Lopez, and together his skillset and background combination is rarer than a needle in a haystack. The only problem? It’s a big one: Lopez isn’t a particularly productive rebounder and hasn’t proven to be a game-dominating force in the middle. His rebounding and block numbers took a step back in his third season as a pro and the Nets won just 24 games.

On a better team, Lopez would score less, shoot a lot less and be required to do significantly more dirty work. Still, on anybody’s team, he stands as a solid core piece.

58. Jamal Crawford, G, age 31, Atlanta Hawks

2011 Stats: 14.2 points, 3.2 assists, 1.7 rebounds, 42.1 FG%, 14.29 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 62, 57, 55

Arguably the league’s most fun scorer to watch operate, Crawford has every dribble move you could ask for, plus a pretty shooting stroke to boot. He’s fearless and fearsome with the ball in his hands and he gives the impression that he would be happy to play hoops anytime, anywhere. But during his age 30 season, and his first year under new coach Larry Drew, Crawford saw his scoring productivity take a significant step back (from 18.0 points in 2009-2010 to 2010-2011) even though his playing time remained essentially the same.

That wasn’t great news for Crawford, who was in a contract year and is likely approaching the downside of his career. His defense has long been suspect. Crawford would make an excellent role player on a contender that needed some scoring pop off of its bench and it will be quite interesting to track where he lands during free agency.  

57. Thaddeus Young, F, age 23, Philadelphia 76ers

2011 Stats: 12.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 54.1 FG%, 18.46 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 61, 61, 50

Young probably qualifies as a surprise for being so high on this list. He can thank his potential and his player efficiency rating for that. His overall efficiency is driven in large part by his high shooting percentage and an excellent scoring rate in a reserve role.

Doug Collins leaned heavily on veterans Elton Brand and Andrew Iguodala last season – shocker, I know – but Young was still able to show plenty during his turn through the frontcourt rotation, more than enough to make him a top priority for the Sixers during the free agency period. At 23, and with further development still ahead of him, Young should command a sizable offer. Philadelphia shouldn’t hesitate to match as long as it isn’t totally ludicrous.

56. Ty Lawson, G, age 23, Denver Nuggets

2011 Stats: 11.7 points, 4.7 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 50.3 FG%, 17.99 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 52, 54, 66

A favorite of the advanced stats community dating back to his time at UNC, Lawson entrenched himself as the starter in Denver, so much so that the Nuggets moved Raymond Felton, a starting caliber point guard himself, to the Portland Trail Blazers for Andre Miller, a veteran who should slide nicely into a big-minute backup role. The key to Lawson’s game is exceptional quickness and speed as well as his excellent shooting touch. That makes up for the fact that he’s often an undersized defender, and his toughness helps too.

His minutes and production should continue to rise next season. On a post-Carmelo Anthony team full of questions and free agents, plus a rotating cast of characters, Lawson is the surest thing.

55. Carlos Boozer, F, age 29, Chicago Bulls

2011 Stats: 17.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 51.0 FG%, 18.90 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 68, 47, 56

In his first season as a Chicago Bull, Boozer continued to be who we thought he would be: a multi-dimensional offensive force who doesn’t play much defense and isn’t quite reliable enough to be the No. 2 guy on a title-winning team. On paper, pairing Boozer with center Joakim Noah, a defense and rebounding specialist with energy for days, makes all the sense in the world. Injuries to both players probably slowed their acclimation together and it’s possible Year 2 for the new-look Bulls will be even more profitable than Year 1, which ended with tons of awards and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The new standard has been set though: beat the Miami Heat. A scapegoat has been established too: Boozer. The four years and 60ish million dollars remaining on his contract make the bulls eye on his back even bigger.

54. David Lee, F, age 28, Golden State Warriors

2011 Stats: 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 steal, 50.7 FG%, 17.86 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 60, 58, 52

Speaking of highly-paid and polarizing power forwards, Lee was forced to deal with falling short of big expectations last season as well. Signed as a major money free agent by the Warriors in the summer of 2010, Lee was seen as the much-needed inside presence to complement an up-and-coming backcourt combination of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. Lee’s scoring numbers took a hit playing with the pair, who can each fill it up, raising questions about whether Golden State’s core needs a bit more diversity in its skillset.

All (well, most) signs point to the new Warriors ownership getting the franchise moving in the right direction; whether or not Lee is able to get back to his 2009-2010 contract year production levels will be a major factor in determining how quickly Golden State is able to reach its goal of making the playoffs.

53. Jason Terry, G, age 33, Dallas Mavericks

2011 Stats: 15.8 points, 4.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 45.1 FG%, 15.93 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 58, 43, 59

2010-2011 wasn’t Terry’s best season statistically but there is no question that it will be the campaign he remembers most vividly when he looks back on his career when he eventually retires. Quite simply it was a dream. Terry has entered the fourth quarter of his career arc at 33 years old but he remains an excellent shooter and pick-and-roll operator with a penchant for taking and making shots at opportune moments. He has to worked around defensively because he’s undersized for his position and is getting a bit long in the tooth but Dallas found the right mix, allowing him to focus on what he does best: make shots and talk trash. A key emotional leader, Terry’s confidence never wavered in the playoffs and his swagger put an exclamation point on the Mavericks’ team effort in the Finals.

It’s likely all downhill from here for Terry. But who cares? He reached the pinnacle.

52. Paul Millsap, F, age 26, Utah Jazz

2011 Stats: 17.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, .9 blocks, 53.1 FG%, 19.83 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 54, 53, 53

Thanks to the departures of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer in the last 14 months, Millsap has improbably moved into the centerpiece mainstay role for the Jazz, at least until young forward Derrick Favors has another three or four more seasons to develop. In hindsight, Utah was extremely wise to match a toxic offer from the Portland Trail Blazers when Millsap was a restricted free agent during the summer of 2009. His work ethic, energy and consistency are unquestioned, and Millsap provides valuable contributions both inside and outside on offense.

Will he ever reach All-Star status? Probably not, especially because the Western Conference is loaded at his position. How Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin will get production from Millsap and Jefferson, while also developing Favors and Kanter, remains a bit of a mystery. Until the youngins are ready, though, Millsap is more than happy to trot out his hard hat and lunchpail game 82 nights a year.

51. Jason Kidd, G, age 38, Dallas Mavericks

2011 Stats: 7.9 points, 8.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 36.1 FG%, 14.46 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 49, 44, 64

As with Terry, the 2010-2011 season was the best of Kidd’s career, even if his production was a far cry from the days in which he put up triple-doubles on the regular. Kidd was a pleasure to watch this season as he did so many vital things so well. He knocked down open jumpers. He exhibited excellent shot selection, almost always preferring the extra pass to a contested shot of his own. He orchestrated the halfcourt offense brilliantly, knowing when it was time to force-feed Dirk Nowitzki and when it was time to swing the ball around the perimeter. He defended larger players well, using his quick hands and excellent instincts to more than make up for his lack of lateral quickness. The list goes on and on but he was about as important as any NBA player has been at the age of 38.

For all of that, he got his first ring. A fitting lifetime achievement award for a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Posted on: July 21, 2011 2:53 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 8:55 am
 

Durant to lead Goodman League against Drew League

Posted by Royce Young

You need basketball. I need basketball. We wouldn't have it now anyway, but the prospect of not having it at all next year is a terrifying idea. That's why people have taken an odd amount of interest in players participating in exhibition games overseas.

Well, now there's going to be a pretty significant streetball exhibition and it's happening in Washington, D.C. We told you there was a possibility of this and now it's pretty much definitely happening.

The legendary Goodman League is set to take on the legendary Drew League in a showdown taking place Aug. 20. (You can watch a stream of it here.) And the rosters aren't going to disappoint.

Kevin Durant leads the Goodman and joining him will be John Wall, Ty Lawson, Gary Neal, Tyreke Evans, Michael Beasley, DeMarcus Cousins, Josh Selby, Sam Young, Donte Greene and from the And1 Tour Hugh Jones, Emmanuel Jones and Warren Jefferson.

For the Drew, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Nick Young, Dorrell Wright, Brandon Jennings, JaVale McGee, Craig Smith, Pooh Jeter, Bobby Brown (Aris BC), Marcus Williams and three more players yet to be named.

Durant, of course, has been playing in the Goodman League at Barry Farms for a long time, kind of making it his second basketball home. It's sort of the place to be for good pro-am hoops on the East Coast right now. The Drew League has become the premier pro-am league on the West Coast. So it's only natural someone organized a showdown.

With a dark summer of no official basketball because of the lockout, you should be very, very excited for this. And there’s no doubt the Goodman has a major edge here. First, it’s in D.C. Second, look at that roster. KD, Wall, Lawson, Reke and Beasley are quite the core. Harden’s been tearing up the Drew (he scored 52 there a couple of weeks ago), but the Goodman roster is way better.

I mean, who the heck is guarding Durant? Dorrell Wright certainly will get the call, but the Goodman has a ton of speed. Of course, I'm hoping to see Harden on Durant for most of the game, for obvious reasons.

You can be sure this showdown will be awesome. And you can be sure I’ll be watching. You better be, too.


Posted on: July 11, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 10:23 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Northwest Division

A look at what is at stake for the NBA's Northwest Division if a whole season was lost due to the lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver.

ricky-rubio

Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise.

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Southeast Division, the Atlantic Division, the Central Division and the Southwest Division. Let's continue with the Northwest Division.  

MINNESOTA Timberwolves


The NBA's worst team won just 17 games last year, had the league's seventh-worst home attendance and is generally mentioned at the top of the list of examples that "prove" the NBA's economic system is broken. That's because their local television, ticket and memorabilia revenue simply cannot compete with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics of the world. Despite all of that, the Timberwolves might very well have more to lose than any other team in the Northwest Division if the league were to miss an entire season.

Let's start with 2009 lottery pick Ricky Rubio, who against all odds took the plunge and decided to finally join up with Minnesota. For multiple seasons, Rubio has represented hope, carrying Timberwolves fans through ugly winters and late-season collapses. The wait was excruciating. The uncertainty about whether he would or wouldn't stay in Europe further into the future made it worse. Now that he's on board, he's been greeted at an airport, introduced to his teammates, sold some jerseys and rallied the collective fan spirit a bit. To lose an entire season would make that interminable wait that much longer. It would also rob Rubio of a valuable development and acclimation year, which would be an absolute disaster. This is a point guard who needs to start on Day 1, entrusted with the full support of his coaching staff and allowed to make mistakes and build chemistry with his teammates while learning on the job. No season means no opportunity to do any of that.

Aside from Rubio, there are financial risks as well. That might be surprising, because the Timberwolves currently are the only team in the NBA that does not have anyone on their books for more than $6.3 million next season, a fairly astonishing accomplishment. Of course, there's a catch: All-Star power forward Kevin Love is on his rookie deal. Indeed, Love is heading into the last pure season of his rookie deal before Minnesota either must issue him a qualifying offer or sign him to an extension. Worse yet, it's possible that Love, one of the league's premier rebounders, will command a mini-max extension or close to it. The point here? He's set to make just $4.6 million next season, a bargain for his production. If the season is lost, the Timberwolves miss out completely on that outstanding value and are one year closer to biting the bullet on extending him without having reaped full benefits. That's tough.

Last but not least, a lost season is the perfect excuse for any franchise to delay tough decisions or to talk themselves into trying to make things work. With an imbalanced roster full of mixed and matched pieces, the Timberwolves, despite their accumulated talent, are going to struggle mightly again next season. The pains of those struggles, theoretically, could be enough to finally convince owner Glen Taylor to pull the plug on president David Kahn, a man who hasn't shown the ability to construct a team and outright wasted two second round draft picks on technical mistakes during the 2011 NBA Draft, by trading a hurt player (Jonny Flynn) and drafting someone who lied about his age (Tanguy Ngombo). A year without games, then, is a year without losses, which means another year for Kahn to preach patience and wiggle out of responsibility for this mess. The sooner Kahn is gone, the sooner this ship turns around. A lost season will make "sooner" feel like never.

OKLAHOMA CITY Thunder

While the Timberwolves need to get headed in the right direction, the Oklahoma City Thunder are already there. With the best designed roster in the league, two young All-Stars, an undisputed Northwest Division title and a Western Conference Finals appearance under their belt already, and a passionate fanbase that is guaranteed to provide 40+ home sellouts next season, the Thunder would happily start the season today. A lost season, then, would be a nightmare.

Name something, anything, and it's at risk for the Thunder. They lose the value of Russell Westbrook playing on a rookie deal. They lose the value of James Harden on a rookie deal. They lose the value of Serge Ibaka on a rookie deal. They lose one year of Kevin Durant's Hall of Fame playing career. They lose another season of playoff experience. They lose a very good chance at making a run at an NBA Finals. They lose a season of having their top eight players (Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefalosha, Nick Collison, Eric Maynor) all locked into affordable contracts. They lose the chemistry and momentum that goes with having an entire nucleus together for multiple years.

What's worse: they have nothing to gain from a work stoppage, other than perhaps the money that would come with increased revenue sharing. Without a single bad or untradeable contract on their books, there is no financial reason OKC would root for a year away from the game. In fact, any change to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that firms up the cap would make it more difficult for the Thunder to keep all this talent in house. That means they wouldn't get the chance to win now and their ability to win later could be compromised.

Usually, young teams that make a deep run through the playoffs can't wait to get back on the court for a second go-around. Multiply that feeling by about 10 and that's the situation facing OKC. 

PORTLAND Trail Blazers

lockoutYou might think the injury-plagued Trail Blazers would welcome some time off to lick their wounds and assess the damage, but missing an entire NBA season wouldn't necessarily be a good thing for this franchise. Really, it's a muddled picture.

The main benefit is clear: the Blazers have a very difficult cap situation next season, thanks to a mini-max contract for guard Brandon Roy, who is apparently no longer capable of reaching his previous All-Star level of play. Saving the $15 million owed to Roy, as well as the $10.5 million owed to aging center Marcus Camby, would be a tempting proposition for most small-market owners. Money aside, saving the miles on Roy's knees wouldn't hurt either.

Blazers owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, however, has dealt with serious health problems in recent years and is clearly in spend-big, win-now mode. He would cut a check tomorrow for five times his team's total salary cap if it meant a shot at the NBA Finals, no questions asked. It's difficult to imagine a financial enticement that would make it worth Allen's while to take a year off. 

Aside from Roy, the other big question is center Greg Oden. Missing an entire NBA season doesn't play in Oden's favor, as he hasn't taken the court for an NBA game since December 2009. A lost season means his layoff would extend nearly three full years to October 2012. That's a long, long time to be away from basketball. Complicating that further for the Blazers is the fact that Oden is a restricted free agent this summer. The Blazers would retain matching rights on Oden if a season was lost but they would be forced to offer him an extension without being able to see whether he recovers fully to be able to take the court and, more importantly, withstand injury once he's out there. Oden could command a mid-level type of offer on the open market, which would be a major investment for Portland, because the Blazers have already committed to nearly $80 million in salary for next season, with contracts to Roy, forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace and guard Wesley Matthews already on the books into the future. Without another center on their roster who is in their long-term plans, though, the Blazers wouldn't have a choice. They'd have to pay up. Given that situation, you want as much information as possible; a lost season would mean no information.

Finally, the Blazers have a big question at the starting point guard position. His name is Raymond Felton, and he was acquired in a draft day trade for previous point guard Andre Miller. Felton is in a contract year and hasn't played meaningful minutes with any of his current teammates, except for a stint in Charlotte with Wallace. Felton will require a good-sized contract extension next summer as well and the Blazers would surely like to see how he gels with their core, particularly Aldridge, before they commit to him long-term. Without any starting quality options on the roster, they would again find themselves stuck in a corner, forced to do what it takes to retain Felton without a readily available back-up plan.

To boil it down: the Blazers have enough questions without a lost season. Missing a full season would simply create an array of complications and made some tough roster decisions that much more difficult and, potentially, costly. 

DENVER Nuggets

Sure, the Denver Nuggets lost franchise forward Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks, but they did an excellent job of stripping their roster down to allow for a quick bounceback rebuilding effort. The Nuggets, somewhat like the Thunder, are in a financial position where their salary cap situation makes it more advantageous for next season to take place unhindered. The Nuggets currently don't have a truly horrible contract on their books, although the mid-level deal for Al Harrington and the $15 million or so left to be paid to Chris Andersen over the next three years are regrettable. Indeed, the Nuggets have committed to less than $40 million in salary for next season, pending a potentially major financial commitment to big man Nene, who has decided to test the free agency waters, and a decision on guard J.R. Smith.

The biggest risks for Denver would be missing out on the value of point guard Ty Lawson on his rookie deal and managing whatever concerns might arise about Denver's ability to use its salary cap flexibility to continue work on its rebuilding situation. Most analysts believe teams with salary cap room will be in a position of strength, regardless of how the new CBA shakes out, so perhaps that uncertainty is more of an annoyance than a true concern. 

The Nuggets have a lot of questions. How will they spend their money? Who will they bring back? Who will they let go? Are the players under contract currently good enough to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference next year or is it better to continue slashing and burning for another season? These are good questions to have because they all point to one fundamental truth: The Nuggets have flexibility thanks to their young, cheap assets. The worst case scenario is that Nuggets fans have to wait a year to watch a promising, athletic upstart group entertain. That's not too bad. 
 
UTAH Jazz

If I'm the Jazz, I'm totally cool with taking a year off. A lost season means that Utah would save $14 million owed to Al Jefferson, $10.9 million owed to Mehmet Okur, $9.3 million owed to Devin Harris and $8.1 million owed to Paul Millsap. While Millsap is probably worth his number, the other three certainly aren't worth theirs, especially on a team that lost its foundational identity when it shipped franchise point guard Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets at the trade deadline.

Right now, Utah's finances are pretty tight, with $61.5 million already committed for 2011-2012. Look ahead just one year, though, and that number drops to $48.7 million. To make things even nicer, Jefferson, Harris and Millsap will all be expiring that season. The Jazz will be poised to take advantage of their new-found flexibility, keeping the parts that fit (probably only Millsap) and dispensing with the rest.

The biggest risk in a cancelled season for Utah would be the lost development for younger guys like Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and 2011 first-round picks Enes Kanter and Alec Burks. In Favors, they have a potential franchise forward who needs to start enjoying a loose leash so he can blossom into the player the Jazz expect him to be. Forcing him to take a year off does him no good and, depending on how he responds, could do him some harm. Kanter, meanwhile, looks like an even bigger risk on paper because he was forced to sit out last year at Kentucky, his only year at the college level, due to eligibility issues and because he hasn't yet tasted the NBA game. A lost season would mean two full years away from competitive basketball, not an ideal situation for someone the Jazz selected with the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft. As for Hayward and Burks, they are lesser concerns. Both have shown promise and clearly have room for improvement. Losing a year wouldn't be critical, but it would be better for them individually if it could be prevented.

On balance, the financial rewards seem to outweigh the development risks for the Jazz.

Salary numbers courtesy of StoryTeller's Contracts.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 9:58 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 10:43 pm
 

NBA TRADE: Nuggets, Blazers, Mavs swap

Posted by Matt Moore

Update 10:17 p.m.: Ken Berger reports that the deal is more complicated. The Blazers also traded Rudy Fernandez to the Dallas Mavericks for the 26th pick in the draft, which they then immediately shipped to Denver (Jordan Hamilton). So to recap:

Portland receives: Raymond Felton

Denver receives: Andre Miller, Jordan Hamilton (by way of Dallas' 26th pick)

Dallas receives: Rudy Fernandez

Fernandez goes to the world champions who need a wing player with energy. The Mavericks are an old team and wouldn't have room for another young player like Hamilton, now get Fernandez who can hit from the outside (3-goggles!) but who was also disappointing and inconsistent for Portland. 

Winner: Denver. They managed to get Miller who is a cash dump and can play backup point guard, and an athletic forward to replace Wilson Chandler who will presumably now not be retained in free agency, and they didn't have to surrender Kenneth Faried who they took at No.22. More young assets and all they moved was Felton who they weren't committed to anyway and who wanted out. 

Loser: Portland gave up their starting point guard and Rudy Fernandez for Raymond Felton. Felton is good. He really is. But he's not starter-plus-sixth-man-for-him good. Not a good start to the post-Cho era in Portland. 

Original report:

In a trade that does not feel like a trade at all, Yahoo! Sports reports that the Nuggets have traded Raymond Felton to the Portland Trail Blazers for Andre Miller. 

The Nuggets essentially swapped Felton and his longer-term contract for Miller who has a team option for 2011-2012 and is an expiring deal after that. The Nuggets may not pick up the option on Miller, or may keep him for one more year as a backup to Ty Lawson. Felton was unhappy from the get-go in Denver after getting bumped to the bench for the younger Lawson.

For Portland, they've been looking to upgrade their point guard position for close to a year and Felton was available and cheap.  Felton likely won't have the chemistry Miller had with LaMarcus Aldridge or his lob ability, but he has better scoring ability, is younger, and a better defender as Miller fades with age. 

The Denver Post reports that the Nuggets also acquired the 26th pick from Dallas (not known what Dallas recieves), and a future second.
Posted on: June 21, 2011 8:49 pm
 

Report: Raymond Felton rumors heating up

Posted by Matt Moore

So it's come to this for Raymond Felton. From underrated point guard in Charlotte, helping the Bobcats make their first playoff game, to heralded new York Knicks point guard of the future, to Carmelo Anthony trade bait, and now this. Shopped for a lousy draft pick in a lousy draft.

ESPN reports:
Would the Kings be willing to send the No. 7 pick to the Nuggets for Raymond Felton and the No. 22 pick? The Kings have had interest in Felton but it's probably going to take them giving up the No. 7 pick to get him. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Nuggets grab Jonas Valanciunas or Bismack Biyombo if they could get up to No. 7.
via Latest draft buzz: Kings' No. 7 for Felton? - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN.

When Felton landed in Denver, I was positive he was going to start. He'd been a starter for years, was a better defender than Lawson, and would pitch a fit if he was benched for such a young player. But credit to the Nuggets, they knew that Lawson was their guy going forward and they stuck with him. Now Felton wants out, and the Nuggets are happy to oblige him, especially if they can get another young asset to their army of young assets. The No. 7 pick isn't exactly a goldmine in this draft, they'll have a shot at a few high caliber prospects, though you'd have to question if Bismack Biyombo is really the kind of player they want to add to a team that needs substantial help down low besides Nene. The Nuggets would also be in a position of need for a backup point guard if this were to shake out.

Felton is a perfect fit in Sacramento, despite what will probably bum him out in being in a smaller market again, overshadowed by younger players who haven't been around as long. A starting 1-2-3-4 rotation of Felton, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans at a combo 2-3 spot and DeMarcus Cousins gives the Kings a foundation going forward. They've needed a steady hand at point guard and could certainly use Felton's defense. 

Maybe it'll work out for Felton, but it's still got to be a disappointment to have gone from the wanted sidekick star in New York under a coach that makes point guards look great to being unable to unseat a younger player on a rebuilding team and getting shopped for a draft pick in a poor class. Someone get the guy a hug. Wait a minute, he got that new contract from New York last summer and Larry Brown is no longer haunting him. Nevermind, he's good.  
Posted on: April 26, 2011 3:11 am
Edited on: April 26, 2011 1:55 pm
 

So, what got into Russell Westbrook?

Posted by Royce Young



There were a lot of stories to come out of Monday night's 104-101 Denver win over Oklahoma City. The fact the Thunder didn't close the series. The fact the Nuggets snapped a five-game losing streak to OKC. The fact Denver finally found some of that scary scoring balance again.

But the angle that has a lot of people talking? Russell Westbrook.

The Thunder's All-Star point guard scored 30 points, had five assists and six rebounds against Denver Monday. If you changed his name to Derrick Rose, everyone would promptly freak out. The catch here is two-fold: Westbrook took 30 shots and he also has this dude named Kevin Durant on his team.

Two plays stick out to a lot of people from Monday's game. With 30 seconds left and OKC trailing 98-96, Westbrook wasn't able to get the ball to Durant on the wing so with the shot clock winding down, Westbrook fired a 3. It rimmed out. Then with the Thunder down 101-98 and needing a 3 to tie with 10 seconds left, Westbrook took the ball on his own and airballed a 3-pointer with six seconds left as Durant stood waiting by the arc.

Curious, indeed.

Westbrook was 12-30 from the field while Durant was 8-18. Russell Westbrook took 12 more shots than the two-time scoring champion.

Curious, indeed.

However, having watched Westbrook a lot of this season, I can't bag on him too much for it. That's the player he is. If you want the All-Star Good Russell Westbrook, sometimes you have to live with the do-it-myself Bad Russell Westbrook.

I think a big reason behind Westbrook's ball-hogging was he sensed what I was seeing. The Thunder didn’t look comfortable in their own offensive skin. They were throwing the ball away, taking dumb shots, forcing things and not moving off the ball. So he tried to take over a bit. A lot of the stagnant offense is probably the fault of the point guard, but Westbrook is the new hybrid point like Derrick Rose and Deron Williams. He looks for his own as much as he looks for others.

And it’s difficult for Westbrook to turn it on in spurts. That’s would be the ideal Westbrook. The guy that can sense that moment where his team needs his offensive spark and give it for a few minutes and then turn the game back over to the natural rhythm and flow. But he’s not there yet. He’s just 22 and he’s still figuring all that out.

Thing is, to get Good Russ, sometimes you live with Bad Russ. He’s not a perfect player. He’s still developing. This wasn’t his finest hour but he was trying to win the game. That’s what he had on his mind. Did Durant need a few more touches? Absolutely. Does Westbrook deserve a bit of guff for what went down in Game 4? Definitely. But this isn't something to really get too worked over about. Yeah he took some questionable shots but that's Westbrook. He desperately wants to be the guy taking those shots. He's hit a bunch of big ones for the Thunder this season and I can promise you, every Thunder fan thought his 3 with 30 seconds left was about to drop through the bottom of the net.

In the same ways you can say Westbrook lost Game 4 for the Thunder, he almost won it for them as well. That's life in the Russell Lane. There are things he definitely should've done different. If Scott Brooks could transfer five of those bad Westbrook shots to Durant, the Thunder probably win the game. Can't deny that.

Westbrook is the ultimate "No No No Yes Yes Yes!" player. He takes a bunch of shots that while in flight you're saying are horrible but then you're clapping as it swishes through. And in those big moments, he lives to take big shots. The problem with that is, he has Kevin Durant standing on the wing waiting for the ball as well.

With Westbrook, it's all about accepting what he is. It's like the scene in Band of Brothers when Speirs tells that one guy crying in the foxhole, "The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you're already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to function." Westbrook isn't a "true" point guard. He never will be. The sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you'll be able to appreciate what he is. A darn good basketball player that still has some room to grow.
Posted on: April 26, 2011 2:44 am
Edited on: April 26, 2011 3:00 am
 

Denver steps up and holds OKC off for a night

Posted by Royce Young



Closing, it's hard to do.

That's the lesson for the young Thunder. A lesson they get a day to think about while they get ready for Game 5 in Oklahoma City Wednesday.

Oklahoma City saved its most erratic, incomplete game for Monday night, which of course was the first opportunity to finish off the Nuggets and move on to the next challenge. That sounds like I'm taking something away from the Nuggets, which I don't intend to. But I think we've gotten to the point where it's understood that the Thunder are the better team. On Monday, Denver finally found a bit of a groove and the Thunder lost theirs.

The Nuggets got a bunch of big contributions from Danilo Gallinari, J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Ty Lawson -- you know, that formula that worked so well after the Melo trade -- to take down OKC 104-101 and force a Game 5. They talked about not wanting to let OKC dance on their home court Monday night. And they played like it. 

The game was close throughout, and while the Thunder piled up stops, they never took advantage and stretched out to a lead of much more than four or five points. OKC played with fire the entire night, eventually letting the Nuggets turn on the propane with an 11-0 run to end the third and start the fourth quarter. Denver led through the fourth, with the difference swelling to as much as 10 with two minutes left. The Thunder wouldn’t die easily, though, with Kevin Durant dropping a couple 3s, Russell Westbrook scoring on a drive and Serge Ibaka hitting a late jumper. But the hole was too big for the Thunder to climb out of.

Westbrook had a chance to tie with 3.5 seconds left, but his desperation heave didn't fall. And finally, after five tries, the Nuggets beat the Thunder. Once again OKC's defense held Denver in check (the Nuggets shot just 38.6 percent) and the Nuggets struggled at the line. But between taking care of the ball and a couple big shots from Smith and Gallinari, Denver built up a lead in the fourth quarter for the first time in the series.

OKC almost looked like it was taking a win for granted early on. The intensity and razor sharp focus was missing in the first half, and the Thunder missed about 15 opportunities to stretch the game out to double-digits. They were getting the stops they needed, but just couldn't convert. Fifteen turnovers, bad shots and forced offense really ended up doing OKC in.

But again, this was new territory for them. That decisive closing game is the toughest to win because you're playing a desperate opponent. And OKC couldn't make enough plays to get it done. 

The Nuggets did just enough to hang on and get a little of their mojo back. Is it enough to bring the series back to the Rockies? Eh, probably not. But it's at least a start. You can't be the first team to ever come back from 3-0 if you don't win Game 4. That would be step one. And the Nuggets took it Monday.
 
 
 
 
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