Tag:Deron Williams
Posted on: September 7, 2011 12:38 pm
 

Deron Williams isn't in Turkey still

Posted by Royce Young

Deron Williams was supposed to leave for his new Turkish team a week ago.
He didn't.

The reason? Via HoopsWorld, it was because of "passport troubles." And if everything is sorted, Williams is set to leave Wednesday to join Besiktas.

It's kind of those "We'll believe it when we see it" type of things. Because as last week's reports noted, Williams might get cold feet and use his former wrist injury as a solid excuse not to go or at least to cut it short.

Williams did say this recently about his journey to Turkey though: "I'm excited. I think it'll be exciting to go over there and play basketball, for one, while everybody else isn't. It'll just be an exciting time for my family. See a new culture."

You kind of have to actually go there to see it though. I'm sure Williams will at some point. He does have the opt-out clause and while there's a small sense of building optimism surrounding the CBA negotiations, nothing is close to done. Williams might be trying to wait and see how the recently scheduled meetings go, or he really just might be having passport issues.

He's supposed to leave today. So we'll see.
Posted on: September 3, 2011 2:14 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 3:50 pm
 

NBA's five most risky overseas signings

Posted by Ben Golliverderon-williams

University of Oregon football coach Chip Kelly recently was asked whether he felt it was a risky move to schedule his team's opener against perennial power LSU rather than a directional school doormat.

"There's risk waking up and getting out of bed in the morning," Kelly replied. "It's all about how you look at life."

Kelly's defense of his aggressive schedule-making shouldn't be read as reckless. Certainly, there's risk in getting out of bed in the morning and there's risk in standing in front of a locomotive. Those risks clearly aren't equivalent and, in turn, the decision-making behind each shouldn't be viewed in the same light. Kelly, one of college football's most notorious gamblers, might view an early season test as a net-positive for his team, even if it results in a loss, but he surely wouldn't schedule a full 12-game slate of top competition if he intended on cashing in on the incentives in his contract and winning a national title. An early, tough test can be great preparation and won't sink a season; a four-month long gauntlet of tough tests would be foolish and, ultimately, suicidal. 

As self-protecting creatures, humans are remarkably good at assessing risk on the fly. We know danger when we see it, we can process the presence of warning signs in advance, we can coach ourselves to be patient and, if all else fails, our "flight" instincts kick in and we run the other way as fast as possible. 

We've learned this summer that professional basketball players possess those very same skills. Indeed, in more than two months since the NBA lockout went into effect, RidiculousUpside.com has tracked more than 50 NBA players, free agents and draft picks who have agreed to play overseas should there be a work stoppage or cancellation of the 2011-12 NBA season. Yet when you survey the list of names, you realize that it's a carefully self-selected group.

That self-selection process boils down to risk-assessment. The guys on the list, by and large, fit a number of key criteria. They don't have a lot of guaranteed money remaining on their NBA contracts, assuming they have league contracts in place. The majority do not have a major role in their team's rotation. Almost all are young and have not reached the prime of their careers. Just about everyone is in good health too. 

This is no accident. The three biggest risks for a professional basketball player involved in a move overseas are: 1) a catastrophic injury that causes the loss of guaranteed money already owed 2) an injury of any magnitude that prevents or limits future earnings 3) the loss of NBA opportunities by virtue of being "off the map." The type of players most subject to these risks -- stars, veterans in their prime, fringe veterans with injury histories, up-and-coming players with the potential to be stars, first round draft picks in 2011 waiting on guaranteed rookie deals -- by and large have opted to wait out the lockout. They've spied the railroad tracks, heard a whistle out in the distance and opted to stand clear. It's a bit of a bummer for the viewing public who would prefer to watch these guys perform, but if your brother or son made the same decision, you wouldn't just approve, you would be proud of his common sense.

Not everyone has been completely careful, though. It's fair to say that no NBA player has yet made a reckless decision with their career, but there are a few who have more at stake and are risking more in agreeing to play overseas. Here's a look at the top five riskiest overseas signings of the summer so far.

5. Nicolas Batum, F Portland Trail Blazers

There aren't many budding stars among the group that has committed to play overseas next season, and some would dispute whether Batum, 22, has star potential. With that said, he started on a playoff team at age 20, has established a reputation as an above-average defender, has developed his offensive game each year in the pros (despite a relatively cold shooting year from outside in 2010-11) and is viewed as a core building block piece. He complements the team's franchise player, forward LaMarcus Aldridge, nicely and has an upbeat attitude that is endearing to fans and a solid work ethic that appeals to coach Nate McMillan.

The risk in the move overseas for Batum isn't his current contract, as he's still tied into a rookie deal through next season. Instead it's all about the threat of injury, as Batum missed more than half of his second season in the NBA with a shoulder injury that required surgery. Batum is clearly thinking with his heart as much as his head in signing with SLUC Nancy of France; he wants a chance to play in front of his home country's fans and is a gym rat who has played year-round for years, thanks to his participation with Team France. Batum plays a hard, two-way, high-flying game and isn't afraid to lay his body out. The Blazers figure to offer Batum a long-term, big-dollar extension in the future. Risking that by playing overseas this year isn't an insane proposition. 

4. Ty Lawson, G, Denver Nuggets

Lawson, like Batum, is still locked into a rookie deal that pays him below what he would be worth on the open market. Even though he's only played two years in the NBA, Lawson has done well to establish a very high earnings potential. An excellent outside shooter and one of the league's fastest players, Lawson transitioned into a starting role last season and watched as Denver traded his competition for the job -- Raymond Felton -- to Portland for veteran Andre Miller, who probably makes more sense as a backup at this point in his career. In other words, Lawson was handed the keys to the Nuggets' car at an early age and, given how many players they are likely to lose in free agency, he should have all the touches and shots he wants to start building a track record that will mean a big payday down the road.

Foot and ankle injuries have limited Lawson during his UNC days and as a Nugget, but he's coming off a season in which he appeared in all but two games. The risk here is simply future earning potential. It's possible that his time with Zalgiris in Lithuania will help him improve -- or at least maintain -- his skills. But the uncertainty in adjusting to a new country, team, style of play and everything else looms over a young man already tasked with helping rebuild an NBA team in transition.  

3. Nikola Pekovic, F, Minnesota Timberwolves

Would you believe that Pekovic in second only to Deron Williams on the list of players who have the most guaranteed money coming to them on NBA deals who have committed to playing overseas? It's amazing what a terrible David Kahn contract is capable of! Pekovic, a plodding 25 year old big man who played just 13.6 minutes per game in his rookie season, has $4.5 million coming to him in 2011-12 and another $4.9 million coming to him in 2012-2013. When you look at those numbers compared to his production, your first thought is, "Don't blow it by getting injured! You'll never sucker another GM into giving you those numbers!"

Pekovic's risk is mitigated here because he's familiar with the overseas game, having played professionally there since 2003. He's set to return to one of his old clubs -- Partizan Belgrade in Serbia -- next season. Those familiar surroundings plus the ground-bound, tough-guy nature of his game limit his exposure. Plus, the worst case scenario is that Minnesota is able to void his contract. Given that assistant GM Tony Ronzone simply walked off the job this week, maybe that's not so bad after all.

2. Wilson Chandler, F, Denver Nuggets


Maybe the most curious move of the summer was Chandler's decision to sign a one-year deal in China, a contract that prevents him from returning to the NBA in the event that the labor situation is resolved. In other words, Chandler has already sacrificed the difference in money between the $3.1 million he would have made next season with the Nuggets and the reported roughly $2 million that he will make with Zhejiang Guangsha. 

That's not the only money that was at stake for Chandler, though. Chandler was set to become a restricted free agent in a weak crop, meaning there would have been some fairly good-sized dollars available to him. Denver, of course, would have been highly motivated to match any offers given their newfound weakness at wing following the team's trade of Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. One way or another, he was getting paid and the amount would have been significantly higher than what he's receiving in China. The only potential reason for taking the Chinese money and running is if Chandler simply doesn't want to play in Denver long-term. The most likely result for most coveted restricted free agents is they sign multi-year deals with their current team. If Chandler didn't like his new, post-Knicks digs, the move makes a little bit more sense, as he can potentially return to the NBA waters down the road as an unrestricted free agent. But will an NBA absence affect his perceived value?  

1. Deron Williams, G, New Jersey Nets 

This one shouldn't come as a surprise. Williams bucked convention by becoming the only current NBA All-Star to agree to play overseas, signing a much-ballyhooed deal with Besiktas of Turkey. Name a risk and it applies to Williams. He has $16.4 million coming to him in 2011-2012 and could pick up a player option for $17.8 million more if he wants, or he could enter free agency next summer and be a no-brainer candidate for a max contract. He has a lingering wrist injury that required surgery and is reportedly still giving him problems. He's 27 years old and primed to enter his peak NBA years. Put all of that together and Williams has -- by far -- the most to lose of anyone on this list. Sure, he's already made more than $43 million in career earnings, but he's got far more than that coming to him over the next 5-7 years.

Even considering all of those negative warning signs, his decision is defensible. The Nets mortgaged their entire franchise to trade for him and they could not be more motivated to retain him. At some point, it's more than likely they will literally beg him to sign a max extension. They have no choice; the rest of the roster has proven it's not competitive and the team is not a desireable free agent destination, at least until the move to Brooklyn is completed. In other words, Williams has New Jersey over a barrel and he knows it. He's in a position where he can cash checks from Besitkas while staying in shape and pull the "injured wrist" card and come back to the United States if he isn't comfortable with the team, the country or his accomodations overseas.

When you look at it like that, even the riskiest overseas signing starts to seem like a bit of a no-brainer.

Posted on: September 3, 2011 2:14 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 3:50 pm
 

NBA's five most risky overseas signings

Posted by Ben Golliverderon-williams

University of Oregon football coach Chip Kelly recently was asked whether he felt it was a risky move to schedule his team's opener against perennial power LSU rather than a directional school doormat.

"There's risk waking up and getting out of bed in the morning," Kelly replied. "It's all about how you look at life."

Kelly's defense of his aggressive schedule-making shouldn't be read as reckless. Certainly, there's risk in getting out of bed in the morning and there's risk in standing in front of a locomotive. Those risks clearly aren't equivalent and, in turn, the decision-making behind each shouldn't be viewed in the same light. Kelly, one of college football's most notorious gamblers, might view an early season test as a net-positive for his team, even if it results in a loss, but he surely wouldn't schedule a full 12-game slate of top competition if he intended on cashing in on the incentives in his contract and winning a national title. An early, tough test can be great preparation and won't sink a season; a four-month long gauntlet of tough tests would be foolish and, ultimately, suicidal. 

As self-protecting creatures, humans are remarkably good at assessing risk on the fly. We know danger when we see it, we can process the presence of warning signs in advance, we can coach ourselves to be patient and, if all else fails, our "flight" instincts kick in and we run the other way as fast as possible. 

We've learned this summer that professional basketball players possess those very same skills. Indeed, in more than two months since the NBA lockout went into effect, RidiculousUpside.com has tracked more than 50 NBA players, free agents and draft picks who have agreed to play overseas should there be a work stoppage or cancellation of the 2011-12 NBA season. Yet when you survey the list of names, you realize that it's a carefully self-selected group.

That self-selection process boils down to risk-assessment. The guys on the list, by and large, fit a number of key criteria. They don't have a lot of guaranteed money remaining on their NBA contracts, assuming they have league contracts in place. The majority do not have a major role in their team's rotation. Almost all are young and have not reached the prime of their careers. Just about everyone is in good health too. 

This is no accident. The three biggest risks for a professional basketball player involved in a move overseas are: 1) a catastrophic injury that causes the loss of guaranteed money already owed 2) an injury of any magnitude that prevents or limits future earnings 3) the loss of NBA opportunities by virtue of being "off the map." The type of players most subject to these risks -- stars, veterans in their prime, fringe veterans with injury histories, up-and-coming players with the potential to be stars, first round draft picks in 2011 waiting on guaranteed rookie deals -- by and large have opted to wait out the lockout. They've spied the railroad tracks, heard a whistle out in the distance and opted to stand clear. It's a bit of a bummer for the viewing public who would prefer to watch these guys perform, but if your brother or son made the same decision, you wouldn't just approve, you would be proud of his common sense.

Not everyone has been completely careful, though. It's fair to say that no NBA player has yet made a reckless decision with their career, but there are a few who have more at stake and are risking more in agreeing to play overseas. Here's a look at the top five riskiest overseas signings of the summer so far.

5. Nicolas Batum, F Portland Trail Blazers

There aren't many budding stars among the group that has committed to play overseas next season, and some would dispute whether Batum, 22, has star potential. With that said, he started on a playoff team at age 20, has established a reputation as an above-average defender, has developed his offensive game each year in the pros (despite a relatively cold shooting year from outside in 2010-11) and is viewed as a core building block piece. He complements the team's franchise player, forward LaMarcus Aldridge, nicely and has an upbeat attitude that is endearing to fans and a solid work ethic that appeals to coach Nate McMillan.

The risk in the move overseas for Batum isn't his current contract, as he's still tied into a rookie deal through next season. Instead it's all about the threat of injury, as Batum missed more than half of his second season in the NBA with a shoulder injury that required surgery. Batum is clearly thinking with his heart as much as his head in signing with SLUC Nancy of France; he wants a chance to play in front of his home country's fans and is a gym rat who has played year-round for years, thanks to his participation with Team France. Batum plays a hard, two-way, high-flying game and isn't afraid to lay his body out. The Blazers figure to offer Batum a long-term, big-dollar extension in the future. Risking that by playing overseas this year isn't an insane proposition. 

4. Ty Lawson, G, Denver Nuggets

Lawson, like Batum, is still locked into a rookie deal that pays him below what he would be worth on the open market. Even though he's only played two years in the NBA, Lawson has done well to establish a very high earnings potential. An excellent outside shooter and one of the league's fastest players, Lawson transitioned into a starting role last season and watched as Denver traded his competition for the job -- Raymond Felton -- to Portland for veteran Andre Miller, who probably makes more sense as a backup at this point in his career. In other words, Lawson was handed the keys to the Nuggets' car at an early age and, given how many players they are likely to lose in free agency, he should have all the touches and shots he wants to start building a track record that will mean a big payday down the road.

Foot and ankle injuries have limited Lawson during his UNC days and as a Nugget, but he's coming off a season in which he appeared in all but two games. The risk here is simply future earning potential. It's possible that his time with Zalgiris in Lithuania will help him improve -- or at least maintain -- his skills. But the uncertainty in adjusting to a new country, team, style of play and everything else looms over a young man already tasked with helping rebuild an NBA team in transition.  

3. Nikola Pekovic, F, Minnesota Timberwolves

Would you believe that Pekovic in second only to Deron Williams on the list of players who have the most guaranteed money coming to them on NBA deals who have committed to playing overseas? It's amazing what a terrible David Kahn contract is capable of! Pekovic, a plodding 25 year old big man who played just 13.6 minutes per game in his rookie season, has $4.5 million coming to him in 2011-12 and another $4.9 million coming to him in 2012-2013. When you look at those numbers compared to his production, your first thought is, "Don't blow it by getting injured! You'll never sucker another GM into giving you those numbers!"

Pekovic's risk is mitigated here because he's familiar with the overseas game, having played professionally there since 2003. He's set to return to one of his old clubs -- Partizan Belgrade in Serbia -- next season. Those familiar surroundings plus the ground-bound, tough-guy nature of his game limit his exposure. Plus, the worst case scenario is that Minnesota is able to void his contract. Given that assistant GM Tony Ronzone simply walked off the job this week, maybe that's not so bad after all.

2. Wilson Chandler, F, Denver Nuggets


Maybe the most curious move of the summer was Chandler's decision to sign a one-year deal in China, a contract that prevents him from returning to the NBA in the event that the labor situation is resolved. In other words, Chandler has already sacrificed the difference in money between the $3.1 million he would have made next season with the Nuggets and the reported roughly $2 million that he will make with Zhejiang Guangsha. 

That's not the only money that was at stake for Chandler, though. Chandler was set to become a restricted free agent in a weak crop, meaning there would have been some fairly good-sized dollars available to him. Denver, of course, would have been highly motivated to match any offers given their newfound weakness at wing following the team's trade of Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. One way or another, he was getting paid and the amount would have been significantly higher than what he's receiving in China. The only potential reason for taking the Chinese money and running is if Chandler simply doesn't want to play in Denver long-term. The most likely result for most coveted restricted free agents is they sign multi-year deals with their current team. If Chandler didn't like his new, post-Knicks digs, the move makes a little bit more sense, as he can potentially return to the NBA waters down the road as an unrestricted free agent. But will an NBA absence affect his perceived value?  

1. Deron Williams, G, New Jersey Nets 

This one shouldn't come as a surprise. Williams bucked convention by becoming the only current NBA All-Star to agree to play overseas, signing a much-ballyhooed deal with Besiktas of Turkey. Name a risk and it applies to Williams. He has $16.4 million coming to him in 2011-2012 and could pick up a player option for $17.8 million more if he wants, or he could enter free agency next summer and be a no-brainer candidate for a max contract. He has a lingering wrist injury that required surgery and is reportedly still giving him problems. He's 27 years old and primed to enter his peak NBA years. Put all of that together and Williams has -- by far -- the most to lose of anyone on this list. Sure, he's already made more than $43 million in career earnings, but he's got far more than that coming to him over the next 5-7 years.

Even considering all of those negative warning signs, his decision is defensible. The Nets mortgaged their entire franchise to trade for him and they could not be more motivated to retain him. At some point, it's more than likely they will literally beg him to sign a max extension. They have no choice; the rest of the roster has proven it's not competitive and the team is not a desireable free agent destination, at least until the move to Brooklyn is completed. In other words, Williams has New Jersey over a barrel and he knows it. He's in a position where he can cash checks from Besitkas while staying in shape and pull the "injured wrist" card and come back to the United States if he isn't comfortable with the team, the country or his accomodations overseas.

When you look at it like that, even the riskiest overseas signing starts to seem like a bit of a no-brainer.

Posted on: September 1, 2011 12:49 pm
 

Deron Williams reporting to Turkish team Thursday

Posted by Royce Young

Thursday's the day for Deron Williams. The day he packs up and leaves the United States and heads to join his new team, Besiktas, in Turkey. Or at least it's supposed to be.

Williams has promised that he was going to follow through with the contract he signed with the club back in July. He was the first big name star to sign overseas and though it wasn't for a ton of money (reportedly $250,000 a month), it was a good negotiating tactic for the players and something he wanted to do.

Here's the question though: How long will Williams be there? Not in the sense of how long will the lockout last, but how long will he stay in Turkey even if the NBA season is cancelled? Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News has his doubts:

It's a fair question, since even the Nets' star playmaker admitted just this past weekend that his surgically repaired right wrist still isn't fully healthy. He had three bone fragments and scar tissue removed in April and it's been a slower rehab process than expected. He was told recovery would be no longer than two months, which should have had him ready to roll in July.

"I've still got some strengthening and breaking up scar tissue," he said. "That's the process with any surgery."

But his recovery has been closely watched because several NBA team executives think that his wrist issues will give him a perfectly legitimate excuse to bail on Besiktas, a second-tier team, if he finds that living in Turkey isn't for him. The countdown for his return to the U.S. will start in earnest the first time he gets hacked on the wrist.

It's a good question and it's a good excuse for Williams to leave. He has an opt-out and the money he's making isn't an amount that would make have to stay. Or buy himself out if he had to.

If he gets to Turkey and the travel is horrible, food is bad, practices are long and his coach is decapitating goats on the court, he might decide, "You know what, my wrist kind of hurts. Gonna go home now." Certainly a possibility.

Here's what Williams said last week about his trip to Turkey: "I'm excited," he said last Saturday, about his new overseas career. "I think it'll be exciting to go over there and play basketball, for one, while everybody else isn't. It'll just be an exciting time for my family. See a new culture."
That's how he feels now. Let's see if that changes in a month.
Posted on: August 24, 2011 12:46 pm
 

Heads up NBA: Playing in Turkey sounds weird

Posted by Royce Young



There have already been a few cautionary tales come out about what it's really like playing overseas, most notably from Josh Childress. The issue of travel, long practices, language barriers, not getting paid on time and a bunch of other things don't make it sound as wonderful as it seems.

And to just hammer that point home a bit more is Rick Reilly's new column on ESPN.com. He talked to a few players that have spent seasons playing in Turkey. You know, where Deron Williams has signed and where Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant have been rumored to be in discussions.
It was about when one of his coaches chopped the head off a young goat for good luck that Jimmy Baron realized pro basketball in Turkey was unlike any hoops he'd ever played.

He was playing for Mercin of the Turkish Basketball League, the same league superstar NBA guard Deron Williams has agreed to play in during the lockout. They'd lost their first four games of the season and rumor was, if things didn't get better soon, heads were going to roll.

"The coach didn't speak any English," says Baron, a 3-point specialist from the University of Rhode Island. "But he motioned me to come out in front of the arena with the whole team. He put us in a circle and there's this goat standing there. All of a sudden one of the assistant coaches gets out this huge machete. And then -- whack! -- he cuts the goat's head off!"

The Turkish players immediately stuck their fingers in the blood of the neck and wiped it on their foreheads.

"Then they started motioning for me to do it," Baron remembers. "I'm like, 'You gotta be crazy!' And I got the heck out of there."

Well then. Dwight Howard can probably deal with it though because I'm pretty sure though that's how Stan Van Gundy kicks off his practices too.

But it's not only goat decapitations at practice. Fans are known to be a bit unruly. They make Philly fans sound like angels.
"I made a winning shot on the road one night," says former UCLA forward Josh Shipp, who plays for Galatasaray in the Turkish Basketball League. "And next thing you know, I was getting pelted with batteries, cell phones, you name it. I had to run for it. But that's nothing. I played with a guy who said they won a game on their rival's court once and the whole crowd rushed the court. They had to punch people just to get into the locker room!"
Eric Devendorf who played in Turkey for only two months before leaving said, "I'm never going back. No way."

Now I'm sure Deron Williams already knows all this. I'm sure Kobe, Durant, Wade and whoever else do too. Allen Iverson went to Besiktas and seemed fine with his experience. But it is going to be a harsh reality that playing there will be different than the pampered life of chartered flights and catered pre-game meals. Which is one reason why I think owners are willing to call this bluff with the superstars that are talking about it. They know the conditions too. And they know how NBA players feel like they're supposed to be treated.

At the same time, I'm sure these are extreme cases. I'm sure not every practice begins with a ceremonial goat decapitations. But I guess the point is, if you go play professionally in Turkey, you need to be ready for everything.
Posted on: August 19, 2011 7:31 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 9:36 pm
 

The EOB Elite 100: 11-20: The power of forwards



By Matt Moore

This is the eighth 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 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21


Try ranking just the best power forwards in the league in your head. Really. Now go back and look at their numbers. Then go back and rerank them. Then factor in their team success. Then look at their ages and upside. 

The point is, this is not easy, and that's before you try and stick them in among the best players in the league at all the other positions. Power forwards are elite right now in this league. Trying to determine who's better is nearly impossible. But that's what we've tried to do in this list and this section gets to the hardest part. Zach Randolph dominated the playoffs. Tim Duncan is a Hall of Famer. LaMarcus Aldridge was just brilliant. Amar'e Stoudemire was an MVP candidate for a brief time. 

What do you do? 

In between we've got Steve Nash, one of the best point guards ever, Deron Williams who's at the top of his game, Russell Westbrook who everyone loves and hates at the same time, and you know, Melo. 


20. Steve Nash, G, age 37, Phoenix Suns
2011 Stats: 14.7 points, 11.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 49.2 FG%, 20.81 PER, 53.1 AST%
Composite rankings (random order): 25, 16, 18

The guy's 37. Thir-tee-sev-en. And yet last season Steve Nash averaged more assists per 36 minutes than he has in his career. He posted 53 percent of the Suns' assists. Which means if there was a bucket off a pass on the floor, more often than not it was Steve Nash making it. That's crazy production for his age. Nash continues to be a lightning rod as the Suns fall further and further away from contention. His defense has never been good due to a combination of physical limitations and a back condition that has forced him for years to lay flat on his stomach on the sideline. But his offense is showing signs of slowing down, despite all the slinging. Nash finally posted under 50 percent field goal shooting for the first time since he came to Phoenix last year, and shot under 40 percent from three for the first time since 1999. So he's "only" a 49 percent shooter, 39 percent 3-point shooter. But the bigger point is that Nash is starting to slip. 

This is why so many want Nash traded. His time is running out to be effective, though with his conditioning, it's easy to see him playing till he's 40. But for him to be effective as a starter, to hold a shred of "Nashness" in him, he's got to get moved to a contender soon. But if he doesn't, it wouldn't shock anyone to see him make a comeback year next season. 

19. Manu Ginobili, G, age 34, San Antonio Spurs
2011 Stats: 17.4 points, 4.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 43.3 FG%, 21.78 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 20, 15, 20

Manu Ginobili was a legit MVP candidate the first two months of the season. Being a legit MVP candidate for even a week should probably earn you a higher ranking than this, but such is the cost of a perceived slip as the season went on. At his best, Ginobili is a game-changer and one of the most reliable clutch performers in the game. His step-back elbow jumper is still deadly, and if that doesn't get you, the pump-fake will. Ginobili at full-health would probably have made a big difference in the Spurs' round-one loss to Memphis. (But given that he couldn't guard Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol, probably not enough of one.)

Ginobili's slide will only continue as age and injury slow him down. He says he has a few more years left in the league. But his craftiness will only take him so far, which is why he isn't higher on this list. But given how many years he's been near the top of this list, that's not a bad career. And in the meantime, he'll keep drawing fouls and hitting big shots as the Spurs continue to try and suck the life out of the remainder of their contending years. 

18. Kevin Love, F, age 22, Minnesota Timberwolves
2011 Stats: 20.1 points, 15.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 47.0 FG%, 24.39 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 15, 24, 13

Hello, power forwards. Kevin Love broke the record for consecutive double-doubles, had the first 30-30 game, showed terrific offensive range, dominated the glass, out-rebounded Dwight Howard and became an All-Star. And he's only the 18th best player on this list, and the fifth best power forward in this section!

Love's biggest liabilities are on the defensive end. He's still learning, so the hope is that he'll improve. Conditioning and health will both be important to that end with his frame, but neither are concerns with Love. With a coach that will hopefully appreciate him and a new system and point guard to work with, it's a good bet that Love will be in the top fifteen by the end of next season. His range makes him a versatile component, he's looking for his first big deal (good luck with that under the new CBA next season), and to boot, he's one of the most likeable players in the league. 

Odds are this is the last time he'll bethis low again. 

17. Tim Duncan, F, age 35, San Antonio Spurs
2011 Stats: 13.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.9 blocks, 50.0 FG%, 21.94 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 13, 19, 18

What loathesome thing age is, that robs us of our strength but not our integrity.  Tim Duncan wasn't the same player last year. I mean, he was, but he wasn't. This is the problem. For players of Duncan's greatness, there's no huge cliff they fall off, its'a slow decline. But they're also held to a different standard. And as a result, Duncan slides down this list. Most jarring was the absence of a dominant Duncan performance in the playoffs. The Grizzlies managed to harass, muscle, and frustrate Duncan to the point of limiting his effectiveness. And as Duncan goes, so do the Spurs. 

Duncan logged 76 games last season, missing just six games. The question is if he can have a bounce-back season after having a considerably healthy one in 2010-2011. The Spurs need a vintage Duncan performance all season long, but the reality may be that after so many playoff games early in his career, he may simply not have enough tread left on the tires. Why is he still this high? Because he's Tim Freaking Duncan, and he's earned the right for us to trust in him until the very end. 

16. Deron Williams, G, age 27, New Jersey Nets
2011 Stats: 20.1 points, 10.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 43.9 FG%, 21.19 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 22, 18, 9

Deron Williams, Coach Killer? Didn't see that coming. 

Williams had a good season. He did. 20 points, 10 assists, good PER, solid defense. The Jazz had a pretty decent start before the wheels came off. Then, you know, Williams may or may not have been the driving point behind Jerry Sloan deciding to pack it up after 25 seasons with the Jazz. Then, you know, Williams was traded to the Nets before he could hold the Jazz hostage like Melo did the Nuggets. Then, you know, he was a Net. Which causes trouble. 

Williams turned 27 in June, so he can no longer be considered a "young" point guard. There's only so much room for improvement at this point. And he's still very good, and will fetch a huge price on the market. But you have to wonder if 2010-2011 was a career marker for Williams and if that will make an impact on where he ends up. The good news? He gets into free agency in 2012. Either the Nets will build around him with top talent, or he'll have a chance for a mulligan at 28. 

15. Carmelo Anthony, F, age 27, New York Knicks
2011 Stats: 25.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 45.5 FG%, 21.82 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 17, 17, 13

You want to rank Carmelo Anthony in the 20-30 range? Fine. 30-40? You're getting out there. 1-10? We're not going to riot. You can spot Melo anywhere, it just depends on where your priorities lie. 

Is Melo's defense lacking? Absolutely. Is he often-times too inefficient to the point that it hurts his effectiveness? Yes. Is his attitude sometimes an issue in terms of the superstar approach? Yes, but it never impacts his play (through everything in Denver, he never missed a game or gave a half-effort). The reality is this. 

Carmelo Anthony still nets you 26 points per game, seven rebounds per game, will hit you a game winner more often than not, and can help win you games. He is not the most effective, most efficient, or most versatile. There is a lot that he needs to improve. But Carmelo Anthony is still an elite player in this league, and he needs to be ranked accordingly. He's here for now. If the Knicks keep building around he and Amar'e and if the two start working together better, he'll be among the best of the best. For now, we leverage his upside, his production, his efficiency, and his record. 

Then we docked him five slots for his reality show.

14. Russell Westbrook, G, age 22, Oklahoma City Thunder
2011 Stats: 21.9 points, 8.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 44.2 FG%, 23.63 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 16, 16, 11

I'd love to give you an in-depth analysis of Westbrook, but the polar opinions of him rend any attempt apart. 

Westbrook has a higher PER than Deron Williams. He's hyper-aggressive and can take games over. The comparison always made to him is Derrick Rose if he didn't have Kevin Durant needing the ball. But one, he's not as good as Derrick Rose, and two, he does have Kevin Durant needing the ball. Westbrook too often puts his head down and slams into the defender causing a turnover, too often is impatient with the offense and too often trusts his ability to dominate. Thing is, he can dominate more than half the time.

Westbrook's explosiveness and speed is top three in the league. His jumper's improved but hasn't made a phenomenal jump. The big question for next season will be what his role is with James Harden as more of a weapon and playmaker. Is Westbrook just a scoring point who can also provide some buckets, or can he use another weapon to be more efficient. It's a technical and mental adjustment that needs to be made. 

13. LaMarcus Aldridge, F, Portland Trail Blazers
2011 Stats: 21.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.0 steals, 50.0 FG%, 21.57 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 12, 14, 14

Aldridge was arguably more important to his team than any of the players 12-10. He was huge in 2011. Aldridge is also the most versatile of any power forward in the league. Yeah, there, I said it. He's tough defensively, he's brilliant in the post, he's got great pick-and-pop ability, is a good rebounder (though if we're saying that, so is Amar'e Stoudemire, who has a 12.7 TRB percentage to Aldridge's 13.5). 

Aldridge was the anchor for the Blazers who kept them afloat among the injury sea they sailed last year. He's always been overlooked for Roy, but he's also never been a problem in the locker room. He plays smart, tough, and efficiently. Oh, and he plays defense. Nice rare quality in power forwards, that. 

12. Zach Randolph, F, Memphis Grizzlies
2011 Stats: 20.1 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 50.3 FG%, 22.67 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 17, 11, 11

Dominates the glass, puts the team on his back, shoots better than 50 percent from the field, creates more possessions, and delivers when his team needs him. That's a franchise player. And as good as Rudy Gay is, that's what Zach Randolph has shown himself to be for Memphis. His performance in the playoffs is what lands him above Aldridge, Love, and Duncan. A stats-only loser for so many years, Randolph not only found the playoffs last season, but owned them. His performance in both Grizzlies' series was out of this world. If making the Finals weren't a prerequisite, Randolph was arguably the playoffs MVP behind Nowitzki (which is probably why Nowitzki won the title). 

Randolph's defense is not good, but just like his athleticism, he manages to hide it with savvy. He brings smart help, and communicates well. Randolph's intangibles are almost as great as his numbers. He's a consumate leader, always picking up guys who fall to the floor, and being the emotional rock for a pretty emotional team. As unlikely as it is, Randolph's as valuable as it gets to any single team. 

He's getting older, so this is probably the last time he'll be this high. But it's been a fun ride for Randolph with the Grizzlies and he deserves the respect. 

11. Amar’e Stoudemire, F, New York Knicks
2011 Stats: 25.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.9 blocks, 50.2 FG%, 22.78 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 14, 12, 10

We don't blame you for gawking at this. I scored him a 12, truth be told, and even I am sick just thinking about it. Stoudemire is a pretty solid help defender, except no one will believe that. That's where those 1.9 blocks come from. Again, not good, but solid. But man-up? Bad. Really bad. Not good. At all. Stoudemire will never be confused for a defensive stalwart. His rebounding is sub-par. He's got knee concerns and an eye condition following a pretty horrific injury that required surgery. On his eye. 

But he's at this spot because Stoudemire can kill you from the elbow, and if you crowd him, he's going to the rim. He plays aggressively, efficiently, and can deliver. He lost his former-MVP point guard and still produced 25 points per game, and that's even after Melo came in a-gunning. He produces a world of offense and that still counts. As much as the statistical revolution and advanced analysis emphasizes defense, it tends to overlook offense, especially from bigs. The Knicks will never hurt for inside scoring as long as Stoudemire is on the floor. That shouldn't be overlooked. Neither should his defensive liabilities, but his offense out-performs it enough to land him here.

We think.
Posted on: August 15, 2011 10:35 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 11:20 pm
 

Kobe Bryant has $1.5 million/month China offers?

Posted by Ben Golliverkobe-bryant-china

During the ongoing NBA lockout, the grass appears to be greener on the other side of the Great Wall of China.

Aside from Turkey, which put its money where its mouth is to land New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams, China has generated the most buzz in potentially landing NBA All-Star caliber players should the lockout result in a work stoppage. The only potential hold up would be if the Chinese Basketball Association followed through on a reported desire to institute a ban on signing players to contracts that include opt-outs that would allow them to return to the NBA if the labor negotiations are resolved.

That brings us to Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant who, with Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James reportedly not interested in playing overseas, is far and away the most coveted and marketable star on the international market.

After Bryant reportedly walked away from the possibility of joining forces with Williams for Besiktas in Turkey because their offer wasn't sufficient, Yahoo! Sports now reports he is weighing potential offers from China that would pay him more than seven figures per month.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant has offers north of $1.5 million a month to play in China, and sources say he’d be inclined to accept a contract except for the one immense hurdle standing in his way: Chinese Basketball Association officials will likely pass a rule in the middle of this week forbidding the signing of players with NBA opt-out clauses.

Bryant’s stature and popularity make him unique, and teams have shown a willingness to meet his demands to play in China. Nike is motivated to get him on the floor, too. Bryant pushes product in the Far East, perhaps unlike any of his peers. Bryant believes he can be patient, wait for these Chinese and European markets to unfold, and make a decision about playing overseas on his own timetable.
Bureaucracy in China has swallowed much bigger fish than Bryant but the prospect of NBA players in the flesh would be such a tantalizing proposition for the country as a whole -- not to mention its economy -- that some sort of compromise could be worked out.
Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:24 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 3:30 pm
 

Euroleague doesn't anticipate signing NBA players

Posted by Royce Young



There hasn't exactly been a mass exodux overseas for NBA players, especially those currently under contract. The biggest name of course has been Deron Williams signing with Besiktas, but names like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant have been dangling lately as well. Not to mention Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and a few other big names that have expressed serious interest in competiting in European leagues if the lockout causes the NBA to miss games.

There could be a small problem with that though. As told to SI.com, Euroleague president Jordi Bertomeu does not anticipate Euroleague teams signing NBA players currently under contract.

"Our clubs need to have stable rosters," Bertomeu said via a translator. "They need to know how long they will be able to employ the player. No team will sign a player for only two or three months, or for an uncertain period of time. This is our forecast."

FIBA, who is basically the international basketball governing entity, recently ruled NBA players under contract could compete overseas and then return to their respective team if the lockout is resolved midseason. Bertomeu, however, wasn't exactly thrilled with that ruling.

"When FIBA decided to say that the transfer [of NBA players] will be valid only until the lockout will be over, it was strange," Bertomeu said. "Never in the FIBA history has there been any condition like this. This is very strange.

"We were asking FIBA for their position since the month of May, pending the official announcement of a definitive lockout," he continued said. "The day after the NBA lockout announcement, FIBA should have stated their position. And it took a month. Obviously, since May until now, [the delay] could have been because they were talking with the NBA."

Obviously just because Bertomeu is opposed or doesn't see something happening, doesn't mean NBA players actually won't play in Europe. But with a lot of sketicism following all of these star rumors, it does lean toward a major NBA name playing in Europe during the lockout. What a Euro team would get from it more than anything is just a little marketing. People have already been chattering about Besiktas a bunch in the past couple weeks and that's just because big names have been attached to them. It sounds good for the club, its fans and its sponsors.

But is it actually good for a European club to sign an NBA player for a two months? Probably not. As Bertomeu notes, roster stablility is key as well as organic growth of players. Signing Deron Williams for a few games doesn't exactly encourage growth in terms of talent. Bertomeu's job is to ensure the league stays healthy for the next 20 years, not the next couple months.

NBA players want to keep that steady income though and if that's only available in Europe, that's where they're going to go. It might not be ideal for the league, but that's not going to stop anything. China's pro league recently made a decision to not allow NBA players to return midseason for exactly what Bertomeu is saying.

All of this is contingent on the negotiations though. I've got a plan: Settle a new CBA so we can forget all this extracurricular Euro will-he, won't-he junk. Sound good?
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com