Tag:Andre Iguodala
Posted on: April 14, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Sixers-Heat Preview: It's another tequila sunrise

The 2011 NBA Eastern Conference First-Round Playoffs roll on as we take a look at Sixers-Heat
Posted by Matt Moore



I. Intro

The Sixers are a nice story. They really are. Doug Collins pulled this team up by the bootstraps and once it got done punching itself in the face, it came together. They're a solid defensive team with some speed and youth at key positions. Pesky might be the word. 

The Heat are the big story. We've seen them show flashes of brilliance, but those all came in-between prolonged periods of malaise and incoherence. Everyone wants to see if this team has that extra gear. It's assumed with great playoff teams. But this team doesn't have that experience, not together. How are they going to react to when the games start to matter? Will the sleeping giant awaken, or will the playoffs just prove to be yet another challenge the heat fail to pass with flying colors?

The Sixers are swamped in matchups thanks to the talent on the Heat , which is going to make tactical decisions that much more important. The Heat need to look great to get some confidence. The Sixers just need to hang. 

II. What Happened: A Look at the Season Series

The Heat crushed them. I mean, killed them. It was a slaughter. The Heat averaged a 109.2 offensive efficiency and allowed just a 98.3. That's pretty impressive for the Heat/terrible for the Sixers on both sides of the ball. They outscored the Sixers by an average of 10.3 points, and shot 47 percent. 

There is some context, though, here. The Sixers had a horrific start to the season, and two of the games in the season series were during that span. The third game was in late March when the Heat were at their strongest and the Sixers were cooling down.  So we haven't really seen the Heat play the Sixers except when the Sixers were a mess. Philadelphia did manage its closest efficiency differential in the second game, when they were starting to figure things out, losing by just nine. All in all, the Heat definitely have the upper hand in this matchup, but the first glance doesn't tell you everything you need to know. 

III. The Easy Stuff: Dwyane Wade is a problem

Wade averaged 25.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists this season overall. Against Philadelphia, he averaged 30.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 6.7 assists. That's a one-man wrecking crew. The Sixers have no one to guard him, in reality. Not without going into a flex-big lineup with both Iguodala and Young on the floor, but that rotation hasn't played much together this season. The Sixers did use that lineup in the three games agianst the Heat, but that was really where Wade killed them. 

Looking at the Game Flows from Popcornmachine.net , the Sixers had their worst problems with Wade when Lou Williams was guarding him. This is problematic, as Williams is their truest shooting guard with any scoring impact. Jodie Meeks on the other hand held Wade to his two lowest-impact quarters. Even rookie Evan Turner did decent work against him. Andres Nocioni should not see any floor time in this series, but you probably knew that. He will. 

Wade's a stellar player, but his biggest game was a 39 point effort in March. In that game, his two biggest quarters were the 2nd and 4th, where he dropped 37 of his 39 points. In those two quarters, Meeks played just under eight minutes total. Meeks needs to be central part of the Sixers' defensive design or Wade's going to slice them into little tiny pieces and eat them with Sriracha. 

III. Secret of the Series: Help, (the Sixers) need somebody, help, not just any body

According to Synergy Sports, in the Sixers' best effort against the Heat, Philadelphia brought help or committed to the ball handler on the pick and role 22 of 29 times, or 76 percent. In their other losses, the Sixers only brought help 29 of 52 times, or 56 percent of the time.  In the Sixers' best effort against Miami, the Heat ran 28 Isolation plays, versus 34 combined in the other two games. You getting the pattern? This sounds simple, make the Heat get out of their offense, right? 

But what it means is that the Sixers need to commit to help defense, even if it exposes them to open jumpers. If they bring help on pick and rolls and on James and Wade in Isolation, that means there will be jump-passes to wide open threes from Mike Bibby, James Jones, Mike Miller, and Mario Chalmers. Fine. You live with that. The Sixers don't need to have a Celtics-like commitment to defensie principles. If they make mistakes in over-helping that leaves them unable to rotate, that's fine. Just keep the Triad in front of them. Making mistakes are fine as long as they're the right mistakes. The Sixers' offense is going to struggle. There's just no way around it. The Sixers' best shot is making the game into a defensive grind, keeping it close or making a late run to make it close, then try and push for transition buckets off of Heat miscommunication. 

But to do that they have to bring help, a lot of of help. 


IV. The Dinosaur Narrative: "WILL LeBron James WILT IN THE PLAYOFFS AGAIN?"

Last year's playoff series still lingers in people's minds. They remember the way James appeared to capitulate to the Celtics, to abandon his team. So now he's been branded with this narrative. 

The Sixers are not the Celtics. And furthermore, it's not like James has never won a playoff series. He's got a strong history of success in the playoffs, albeit without the "biggest" of series, which is always the last one you play. But trying to extrapolate James' struggles against the best defense in the NBA over the past three years into a narrative about his relative success is overblown. We're not talking Tracy McGrady, here. James has done his fair share of blowing first-round teams off the map, and the Sixers are likely to be next.  V. The Line-Item Veto: Who has control in each matchup? Quick, line by line. Ex. SG: Dwyane Wade versus Jodie Meeks isn't really fair. Meks has good length but Wade is just... Wade.

VI. The Line-Item Veto: Who wins each matchup?

PG: This could be Jrue Holiday's coming-out party. Bibby's not nearly fast enough to stick him, and Chalmers isn't aware enough to watch him off-ball. Problem will arise when the Heat go no-point, and he has to defend Wade. Doug Collins will be making a lot of subs in this series. 

SG: We already talked about how Meeks can have an impact on this series. But c'mon. It's Dwyane freaking Wade and he dropped 30 per game on this team. 

SF: Andre Igoudala seems like a really nice guy, doesn't he? Great leader for Team USA this weekend. /whistles ... It's LeBron.

PF: Split. Bosh is better offensively, but Elton Brand may eat him alive on the boards. If Brand goes way-back-machine mode, the Heat may have to send help. That starts trouble for the Heat, even as mediocre as the Sixers are from the perimeter (15th in 3-point percentage). 

C: Doesn't this feel like a matchup where both teams fans are going to look at the other center and go "Man, I wish we had that guy!" only neither center is really good? Hawes gets the edge here, but if Joel Anthony keeps playing like he has lately, he might get the push.

Bench: Sixers win this one strong. Thaddeus Young has been a sixth-man of the year candidate, and the Sixers have the fourth best bench in the league, according to Hoopsstats.com .

Coach:  Well, considering Doug Collins is a Coach of the Year candidate and Erik Spoelstra had to put a marker on his parkig spot to make sure no one took it before he was canned, I think we're going to give Collins the advantage here. 


VII. Conclusion

There's not a tougher series to peg. Know why? You know what to expect out of every team in the playoffs except Miami. Denver may be outmatched, but they'll bring it. The Pacers are out of their league, but they won't just roll over and die. The Celtics are in disarray, but you know they'll be mentally ready. Same with the Lakers. Miami? They could sink the Sixers' battleship in the first game and never let them recover. They could lose the first game. They could start strong then get lazy. There's just no way of predicting this team's effort game-to-game. 

I flipped on this prediction six times. I started out with your standard 2-2-2 6-game set. Then I went all wacky and went to a seven game series with fans and media talking about how terrible the Heat are, and could they lose in the first round. Then I walked it back to a sweep. Then back to a six-gamer. Then I thought maybe a gentleman's sweep (5 games, you give 'em one out of being polite). But I keep coming back to that Heat team that lost to mediocre team after mediocre team this season. Except Philly. Which either means the Sixers have no chance or they're due. I have absolute faith in Miami winnning. I just have no faith in them winning comfortably. Prediction: Heat in 6.

VIII. CBSSports.com Video Preview

Can the Philadelphia 76ers contend with the all-star talent on the Miami Heat when they face off in round 1 of the NBA Playoffs? Ian Eagle and Ken Berger breakdown this upcoming playoff matchup.

Posted on: April 5, 2011 4:00 pm
 

Philly's best approach versus Boston? Run

Posted by Royce Young



The Celtics have slipped quite a bit in the last couple weeks. They've gone from the top of the East to now the three-seed.

And come April 16 when the playoffs start, they may really regret that.

There are a number of things for them to be a bit anxious about, most notably the health of Shaquille O'Neal, but setting themselves up for a first-round matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers is surely worrying Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge.

They lock up again tonight, but so far this season, while the Celtics are 2-1 against the pesky Sixers, the three games have been decided by a total of just eight points.

Why do the Celtics have such issue with the young 76ers? To me, it's simple: The Sixers can play any game the Celtics want.

What makes the Sixers so dangerous is that they're absolutely capable of beating the Celtics at their own game. Philadelphia can slow it down and play 48 minutes of grind-it-out basketball. The Sixers can put the weight on their defense to get stops. They can beat the Celtics in a 85-83 game.

However, I can't see the Sixers beat the Celtics four times at their own game. Once, yeah. Twice? Maybe. Three times is pushing it.

Philadelphia will have to make a tactical adjustment against Boston to really press last season's Eastern champs. The 76ers have the ability to speed up the older Celtics. Much in the same way Oklahoma City really pushed the Lakers by using their athleticism, versatility and speed, the Sixers need to make the old men in green move.

The Sixers are much more athletic than the Celtics with players like Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala. And they've got to utilize that in order to push Boston. Like I said, Philadelphia is capable of playing the Celtics game, but the best approach for the Sixers if they truly want to challenge Boston it to make the Celtics adjust to them.

Philly doesn't play especially fast at a pace of 91.2, but that doesn't mean they can't go up tempo a bit. Finding easy baskets in the halfcourt against Boston isn't easy, so utilizing Young's versatility, Iguodala's freakish transition ability and a playmaker like Holiday is key.

What's really turned things around for the Sixers after an atrocious 3-13 start is a renewed committment to defense, but also coach Doug Collins trust of his younger guys. Collins knew Holiday had the ability to be a very good starting point guard, so he put the ball in his hands and let him go. He convinced Iguodala to settle into more of a role rather than playing the star. He started getting some production out of the awesome talents of Young. And Elton Brand has really rediscovered himself as a quality power forward.

(One thing that must be mentioned: The Sixers aren't going anywhere without Lou Williams. He provides such a punch off the bench and really gives Philly quite the second unit. He said he hopes to be ready for the playoffs and he better be if the 76ers have any dreams of actually pushing the Celtics.)

Across the board, the Sixers have the ability to match up with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. Where they have struggled and will continue in the future against Boston is finding points. That's why playing a bit quicker and looking to move the ball up the floor rather than setting up in the halfcourt could help. Playing small with Brand at center, Young at power forward, Iguodala at the 3 and with Holiday and marksman Jodie Meeks really gives the Celtics a difficult matchup, especially if they want to play Shaq.

The Sixers could eliminate Shaq (though he might be eliminated because of a bum heel already) just by using their versatility. The Sixers kind of hold the cards in the matchups. But they can't beat Boston in a series playing in the halfcourt.

I get the feeling the Sixers have Boston's full attention and it would probably be in the Celtics best interest to go ahead and move up to the two-seed and avoid the young 76ers altogether.
Posted on: April 2, 2011 1:54 am
Edited on: April 2, 2011 3:49 am
 

Sixers clinch playoff spot, Pistons eliminated

Sixers clinch playoff spot as Detroit is eliminated. But why isn't Evan Turner playing?
Posted by Matt Moore




They were supposed to be an afterthought. Many, including this here blogger, thought it was time for a proper blowup. How far could they go with a broken down Elton Brand, a regressing Thaddeus Young, an inexperienced point guard in Jrue Holiday, and the ultimate jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none Andre Iguodala who had been on the trade block for what felt like a decade? 

Turns out pretty far.  As in, the playoffs. 

From the Philadelphia Inquirer's Deep Sixer blog: 
With tonight’s 115-90 win over the New Jersey Nets, the Sixers have clinched a playoff berth with exactly six games remaining in the NBA’s regular season schedule. Considering the Sixers are multiple games ahead of the New York Knicks and multiple games behind the Atlanta Hawks, it’s safe to assume they’ll end up with the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference. Their opponent, likely either the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics, is yet to be determined.

Part of the interesting part of this game was the reaction from the Sixers. There wasn’t much celebration, which is a good sign. And there was much talk about ending this regular season quite well, something the 2008-09 team did not do.

“I think the biggest thing is for Elton and myself to really stay on the guys as far as having a purpose every night,” said swingman Andre Iguodala. “We got there, but we still have a purpose. We still have to go out there and play hard.”
via Deep Sixer: Inquirer Sports.

The Sixers are in, Detroit is out. The Pistons were eliminated with the Pacers win over Milwaukee (which pretty much, but not officially sunk the Bucks as well). The Pistons never got it together this season, despite some promising young players, mostly because their older players undermined their coach, who also did a pretty terrible job. The roster needs a major overhaul, and fast. The entire team needs a new coach, a new identity, and a new emphasis on the young core they have. Oh, and a new owner. That'd be good, too. 

Back to the Sixers, Philadelphia is as playing as well right now as any team outside of the elite teams in either conference. While Boston is their likely opponent, and will likely dispatch them post-haste, the Sixers do have some matchups they can throw at either Boston, Chicago, or Miami. Perhaps most importantly, the Sixers are getting even contributions from multiple sets of players, from the bench, from the bigs, from the guards, and the wings. The team believes in itself, and that can be a scary thing to try and overcome for a favorite in the first round. Throw in some Coach of the Year quality work from Doug Collins, and the Sixers haven't just assured they'll be in the dance, they're goin to be a tough out. 

Lost in all this is the fact that Evan Turner yet again did not play Friday night. Turner has been DNP-CD'd multiple times down the stretch, in favor of... Andres Nocioni. Doug Collins is the guy who turned this team around and got them into the playoffs, so you have to extend a modicum of respect for his decisions which have gotten them this far. But the absence of the Sixers' second overall pick remains a curious question mark for the team going forward. 

The Sixers are very near a mathematical certainty to play as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. For more on the playoff picture, check out Royce Young's comprehensive look
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 11, 2011 1:54 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Friday 5 with KB: Trade Deadline Waters




Posted by Matt Moore 

In today's Friday 5 with KB: A favorite story from Jerry Sloan, the future of Utah, the choppy waters of this year's trade deadline, and when exactly are the Spurs going to hit double-digit losses?



1. So, yeah, Jerry's gone. Which kind of bums everyone out. Do you have a favorite Sloan story to share?

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: Everyone, including me, made fun of Sloan's Hall of Fame acceptance speech two years ago because he basically told his entire life story. But I was touched by how nonchalantly Sloan talked about having lasted only five days as the University of Evansville basketball coach in the late 1970s. The season after he stepped down, his replacement, coach Bobby Watson, and the entire team and support staff were killed in a plane crash. Sloan said it matter-of-factly, just like that, and without blinking got right back to his story. "I spent 2 1-2 years as assistant coach of the Bulls ...," etc. That was Jerry. I don't know why I will always remember that, but I will.


2. Speaking of the Jazz, is there any chance they are able to reassert the kind of stability they've had over the past three decades? Is the organization and environment built in such a way as to develop that kind of constancy? Or are we going to see the Jazz back in the mire of the pack, having to reinvent themselves multiple times in a decade?

KB: The biggest priority, obviously, is persuading Deron Williams to stay. If he leaves as a free agent in 2012, there's no way around it: the Jazz are in for a major rebuild. Before they're faced with that possibility, however, the first order of business is maintaining stability on the bench. By naming Tyrone Corbin to succeed Sloan without saddling him with an interim title is an important first step. GM Kevin O'Connor and Gail Miller, the widow of later owner Larry Miller, both made clear they are committed to Corbin for the long term. Those intentions obviously will have to be backed up at some point by a multi-year head coaching contract, but that will come in time. There's been one head coach in Salt Lake City for nearly a quarter century. The plan certainly isn't to go from that to massive turnover.


3. Lost in Ray Allen's epic three-pointer and Kobe's late game heroics Thursday night was this: Boston's lost their last two, and are 5-5 in their last ten. Has the time come for the Celtics to coast through the second half?

KB: I think their recent struggles are less about coasting and more about injuries. The return of Kendrick Perkins has been muted by the absence of Shaq, Jermaine O'Neal and even Semih Erden. Boston also is without Marquis Daniels, Delonte West and Nate Robinson. So it's time to begin wondering if the only thing that can hold the Celtics back -- health -- is starting to rear its ugly head.


4. Alright, Ken. When are the Spurs going to hit double digit losses?

KB: With Philly, Washington and New Jersey next up on the road, I'm going to go out on a limb and say not before the All-Star break. The Spurs haven't lost two straight since early January, so I'm going to say their 10th loss doesn't come until March 4 or 6, when they play Miami and the Lakers.


5. Instability in Utah, the Denver situation, Portland teetering on the brink, Charlotte looking at a need to dump salary, Houston desperate to make a deal. For a long time it looked like we weren't going to be seeing much in the way of trades this year. But are the storm clouds gathering for another busy deadline?

KB: The way I see it now, there will be more buyers than sellers. Several teams have contracts they'd like to dump (Philly with Andre Iguodala, Charlotte with Stephen Jackson, Cleveland with Antawn Jamison or Mo Williams, the Bucks with Corey Maggette or Drew Gooden), but who is going to take on those kind of obligations heading unto uncertain CBA territory? Also, the teams with the most cap space, Sacramento and Minnesota, are going to be less likely than in past years to take money into that space given that they don't know what the 2011-12 cap and rules will be. First-round picks also will be more expensive on the trade market because they represent cheap labor. Whereas in past years, teams would be willing to give up a first simply to get off a contract, this time they'll want something else in return -- such as a second-round pick. The teams that will be able to do something are those that have quality players on expiring contracts -- such as Indiana with Jeff Foster, Mike Dunleavy, and T.J. Ford; and Portland with Joel Przybilla and Andre Miller (whose 2011-12 salary is non-guaranteed).
Posted on: January 31, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2011 3:17 pm
 

Warriors looking for an extra wing?

Posted by Royce Young

New Warriors owner Joe Lacob hasn't been shy about trying to improve his new team. He even stretched it so far to offend one of his best players talking about it.

But that's the point. The Warriors are shopping and shopping hard. They want Carmelo Anthony, but Carmelo Anthony doesn't want them back. So they're looking at new options. What they really need is a good, reliable big man to play with David Lee, but that's looking difficult to track down.

Via the Bay Area News Group, the Warriors are planning on being aggressive heading to the deadline and that 76ers wing Andre Iguodala "has been on the Warriors' radar for a while, according to team sources."

Of course Iguodala is said to be off limits with the improved play of the Sixers though. The report also says that Danny Granger is a player "the Warriors wouldn't mind getting their hands on."

The Pacers have reportedly been open to potentially moving Granger, but the word on that is that Indiana's looking for substantial return -- a starting power forwars and starting shooting guard -- and I'm thinking the Warriors don't want to move Monta Ellis and David Lee.

The Warriors are armed with two large expiring contracts -- Dan Gadzuric's worth $7.2 million and Vladimir Radmanovic's worth $6.8 million -- so they have some cards to play. 

So what are the options right now then if those prices are too high for Golden State? Antwan Jamison is a stretch power forward/wing and the Cavs are certainly open to moving him for young assets. Tayshaun Prince has been on the block for a good while now. Anthony Randol-- nah, nevermind. Rashard Lewis has been brought up a couple times and the Wizards might be looking to deal.

Other than that, is anything else out there much of an upgrade over Dorell Wright who has had a really nice season? Probably not. But the Warriors are looking for a serious star to add to the roster. Problem is, who isn't? And the price is always high for that type of player.
Posted on: January 25, 2011 1:02 pm
 

Things are looking up in Philly for the Sixers

Posted by Royce Young

Less than a month ago, the 76ers were reportedly talking about putting just about everyone on the block, including bedrock player Andre Iguodala. He was rumored to be part of a potential three-way Carmelo Anthony deal and was talked about possibly being sent somewhere for high draft picks.

Basically, the 76ers were ready to blow up their core and start over. Again.

Except they started winning. And lucky for them, they happen to be in the Eastern conference where even if you have only 10 wins, you're still sort of in the playoff hunt.

As a result, all that talk of trading Iguodala and Elton Brand is being put away for now as the Sixers make a little playoff push. A report from Sporting News says:

The playoff push has clearly lifted the Sixers’ outlook. According sources around the league, Philadelphia is not eager to make major roster changes now, and both Iguodala and Brand are all but certain to be with the team throughout this season.

That’s just fine with the players. “In the beginning of the year, we had new guys, we had a new coach, we weren’t really playing up to our ability,” said Brand, who is having his best season as a Sixer with averages of 15.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 51.4 percent shooting from the field. “But we knew we were a better team than that. I think everyone here wanted a chance to show what we can do.”

Right now, Philadelphia sits in seventh at 19-25 and is just four games behind the Knicks for sixth. The Sixers started the season 3-13, but went 8-7 in December and are 6-5 so far in January.

Plus, Iguodala, who started extremely slow, is coming around finally. He's scoring better and scoring efficiently, plus is playing quality defense on top of rebounding from his 2-guard spot. Brand is quietly averaging 15.0 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, which is one of his better seasons in a few years. He's healthy and he's showing he still has something left.

Then there's the marked improvement from Thaddeus Young who is a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate and Jrue Holliday who has taken a big step forward this year. Evan Turner, the second overall pick, has been inconsistent, but on given nights shows off real ability to score and create.

Doug Collins was hired by the Sixers with a reputation for turning young teams around and he's doing exactly that. The 76ers have a real shot at postseason play and with the way they are improving, might actually find themselves with a decent seed. They can get to a spot above .500. They're only six games off that right now.

They're young, inexperienced and still lose games they shouldn't. They still haven't figured out how to win consistently on the road. But the past two months have convinced management to hang on for a little while and keep this current group going.
Posted on: January 13, 2011 9:15 am
 

Shootaround 1.13.11: Clips win their championship

Posted by Royce Young
  • Maybe Andre Iguodala was rushed back: "Hindsight is 20-20, but had Noch been healthy, maybe Dre could have gotten a few more practices under his belt before he played," Collins told The Philadelphia Inquirer ."
  • Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times: "In an unofficial poll, broadcasters Don MacLean, Michael Eaves and I decided it had to be the greatest quarter in Clippers history. Of course, in other teams' histories, they keep track of seasons, not quarters. After that, what figured to happen, happened. The Heat got control of the runaway Clippers offense, holding them to 24 points in the second quarter and 18 in the third. Midway through the fourth quarter, Miami cut it to 97-95 when James drove, had the ball batted away by Al-Farouq Aminu, fell out of bounds, got up limping, hopped back onto the floor, found himself trapped in the corner with the ball and the 24-second clock running out … and knocked in a three-pointer. Then something amazing happened. The Heat was spent. The Clippers had more left, especially in the way of hunger. So now, as the Clippers look around, who else's world can they shock? Oh, they play the Lakers here Sunday."
  • Bud Shaw of The Plain Dealer: "If you're keeping track of this poker game, LeBron James just saw Dan Gilbert's Hindu reference and raised him a deity. Both messages, Gilbert's and James, were spiteful and self-serving. Both claimed a higher power -- the universe, God -- were doing each's bidding. I wish these guys would agree to a third-party mediation, preferably with Dr. Phil. My guess is Gilbert doesn't mind James' latest shot as much as resentful Cavaliers fans do. James' tweet absorbed some of the anger more deservedly directed at Gilbert's team after the worst performance in franchise history."
  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "Paul Silas has always had this gift for making people believe in themselves. That’s what’s going on with D.J. Augustin, who needed that more than any Bobcat. So Augustin’s best game as a pro – 22 points, 12 assists and a single turnover against one of the NBA’s best, Derrick Rose, is a direct result of Silas’ psychology."
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com