Tag:Golden State Warriors
Posted on: December 2, 2011 5:53 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 5:57 pm
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Preview: NBA sets 5-game Christmas slate

Posted by Ben Golliver

nba-christmas

The NBA made its full 5-game Christmas Day slate official on Friday, releasing the opening night schedule in advance of Tuesday's full 2011-2012 schedule release. Here's a full game-by-game rundown for your holiday planning purposes. It's probably best to just ask for a divorce from your entire family right now.

Game 1: Boston Celtics at New York Knicks 12 p.m. ET TNT

A rematch of the 2011 Eastern Conference series that saw the Celtics rudely show the Knicks the door in four games, New York enters with homecourt advantage and, presumably, a return to full health. Amar'e Stoudemire's back should be better, Carmelo Anthony underwent offseason elbow surgery and veteran point guard Chauncey Billups who went down in the playoffs has had more than six months to get right.

The Celtics bring back their core four All-Stars in Rajon Rondo, Paul Piece, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, but there are plenty of questions as to who will make up the supporting cast. Be prepared to hear the words "last stand" for Boston and "Chris Paul" for New York ad nauseum on the broadcast. 

Game 2: Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks 2:30 p.m. ET ABC

The Big 3 and company must travel to Texas where the Mavericks will get to celebrate their 2011 NBA Finals victory over the Heat on opening night. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban couldn't have asked for anything more. Despite loads of roster questions and taking to the road on Christmas, Miami should enter the game as favorites, given that Vegas is convinced they are clearly the odds-on pick to win the 2012 title. Given how much time and energy LeBron James and Dwyane Wade spent working out and playing hoops this summer, it's a fair mantle to give them.

The big question for Dallas will be how much of last year's title-winners return? The roster is littered with free agents, including the staple of the defense, center Tyson Chandler, a major wing, Caron Butler, and key role guys in guards J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson. The free agency period will be a flurry of activity in Big D. 

Game 3: Chicago Bulls at Los Angeles Lakers 5 p.m. ET ABC

A marketer's dream: two supersize markets and storied franchises with two of the biggest names in the game head to head in the dream time slot on the league's showcase day. It was worth ending the lockout just for this game.

The Bulls will begin their quest back to the Eastern Conference Finals, hopefully with a new rotation piece or two to make the life of 2011 MVP point guard Derrick Rose easier. The Lakers usher in a new era under first year coach Mike Brown, who will have just a few weeks to learn that All-Star guard Kobe Bryant is in charge and his job is mostly to just push the right buttons when it comes to headcases Andrew Bynum (violent outrages), Pau Gasol (heart ache) and Metta World Peace (just about everything). 

Game 4: Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder 8 p.m. ET ESPN

The biggest question mark on the schedule: What will the Orlando Magic look like on Christmas? With rumor after rumor swirling around All-Star center Dwight Howard, and GM Otis Smith admitting that he is now open to trade possibilities, Orlando will carry a massive media storm into Oklahoma assuming that Howard isn't already dealt. Guard Gilbert Arenas will likely be shown the door with the amnesty clause and the Magic figure to be players on the trade market given their mediocre, overpriced roster parts.

If the Magic figure to be engulfed in turmoil, the Thunder should be just the opposite. Oklahoma City returns every important member of its rotation, including All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. A solid sleeper pick to win the 2012 NBA Finals, Oklahoma City has a carefully constructed top-8 that covers just about every base there is to cover. Playing in front of a raucous home crowd should make this a great coming out party for the maturing Thunder.

Game 5: Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors 10:30 p.m. ET ESPN

The nightcap will be headlined by All-Star forward Blake Griffin, the league's most explosive up-and-coming inside force. Griffin's still-underrated sidekick, Eric Gordon, will get a nice opportunity to reintroduce himself to a national television audience.

Golden State has undergone a major makeover from the ownership level on down over the last 18 months and new coach Mark Jackson will make his professional debut. The Warriors figure to trot out their excellent backcourt one-two scoring punch in Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry and may even have a revamped post presence if they are able to get something done during free agency. The fifth game on the NBA's Christmas slate has shootout written all over it. Staying up late will be worth it.
Posted on: December 1, 2011 4:15 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 4:16 pm
 

Report: Warriors to play Clippers on Christmas

Posted by Royce Young

What was once a triple-header has evolved into a quintuple-header to open the NBA season on Christmas. Right now, the known games are the Celtics at the Knicks, the Heat at the Mavericks and the Bulls at the Lakers. Add Blake Griffin and the Clippers heading to Oracle Arena against the Warriors to that list as well, according to InsideBayArea.com.

The set of games is to include a 10:30 p.m. ET West Coast game and that would presumably be it. The slots are (all Eastern), noon, 2:30, 5:00, 8:00 and 10:30. Celtics-Knicks will be the noon game and I'd imagine the Heat and Mavs would be the 2:30 slot. With the Warriors anchoring at the 10:30, that leaves the Lakers and Bulls to play at either 5:00 or 8:00.

Not surprising the league woudl lean on the Warriors and Clippers for this game. You've got Griffin, the great Warrior crowd, the debut of Mark Jackson coaching Golden State and lots of offense from Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. Easy choice.

Question is what the other game would be. Most are speculating that it will be Thunder versus Grizzlies, but that's not set in stone yet.

Look for the full, revised NBA schedule to come out sometime next week.
Posted on: November 29, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 5:47 am
 

Bulls, Warriors interested in amnestied Roy

By Matt Moore 

Brandon Roy is all of a sudden the hottest topic on the table, all thanks to his bad knees and the NBA lockout. Roy is a candidate for the Blazers to exercise their amnesty clause on, as the Oregonian reported this week. The amnesty clause allows teams to waive a player, removing his salary from the cap and subsequent luxury tax implications, while still having to pay out the rest of his contract. Under the terms of the new CBA, an auction will be held with teams who have cap room able to bid to take on all or part of the player's contract. The winning bid counts against the new team's cap, it's believed. 

Roy, they'd be on the hook for over $68 million to pay him over the next four seasons. (We'd just like to point how monumentally stupid giving Roy this extension given their prior knowledge of his health was. $68 million. Seriously.) In 2014-2015, he's on pace to pull in $19.3 million alone. (Again, stupendously stupid.) If a team in the amnesty auction were to offer $6 million and win the bid, that $6 million would be their cap hit for Roy, while the Blazers would pay the remaining balance, without it affecting their cap.

Monday we shared a report that indicated that the Timberwolves were interested in Roy. Monday night, the Contra Costa Times reported the Warriors are also in on the hunt should the Blazers release Roy. 
But the Warriors are in the market for a veteran guard, likely at shooting guard. And a couple team sources let me know that if Brandon Roy is indeed Portland’s amnesty choice, as the Oregonian reported, the Warriors are definitely interested.
via Can You Picture Brandon Roy in a Warriors Uniform? - Inside the Warriors - with Marcus Thompson.

The reality is that no one has forgotten what Roy was capable of in 2008, nor what he did to the Mavericks in that one game in Portland before the Mavericks snuffed the life out of the Blazers' season. When healthy enough, he's able to score from everywhere on the floor, attack and nail tough jumper after tough jumper. Mark Jackson could use an experienced veteran like Roy in Golden State to set an example. But there are so many questions about Roy, because of the meniscus in his knees, or lack thereof. 

ESPN reports that the Bulls are also interested in pursuing Roy, but due to their cap situation, they would have to hope he falls through all the teams with cap room's open hands first, which is highly unlikely to occur. Roy makes a lot of sense for the Bulls, who wouldn't need him to create off the dribble and who could still fit him into their defensive system. Brandon Roy on one leg is still better than Carlos Boozer on two. 

Is Roy worth the flier to see if he can contribute? Absolutely. But he comes with an inherent risk, that he could be physically unable to compete on any given night. The first question is whether he'll be amnestied. From there, the bidding war for Roy begins. 

Posted on: November 4, 2011 8:07 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 8:12 pm
 

NBA player explains how to get into Harvard video

Posted by Ben Golliver



This NBA lockout, class warfare, millionaires and billionaires, common man getting screwed thing is just so freaking depressing. Have no fear: We've found the one person involved who can put aside all the Basketball-Related Income, caving and folding, and secret meeting, side deal mumbo jumbo to make a genuinely light-hearted video.

That person is Jeremy Lin, whose story is well-known. Lin, the first Taiwanese-American to get signed to an NBA roster, was a basketball standout at at Harvard who ultimately went undrafted. An impressive Summer League showing earned him a contract with the Golden State Warriors, essentially his hometown team.

Lin played sparingly as a rookie but his improbably NBA journey has earned him a cult following of fans.

As the first NBA player to attend Harvard since 1953, his perspective, by definition, is unique. And he puts that perspective to good use in the following video, titled "How to get into Harvard," where he lists his five tips for gaining admission into America's most prestigious university.

"A lot of you asked me how I got into Harvard," Lin deadpans, "and since I have no life and no job I decided to make a short video with five basic steps."

Lin's five steps: 1) get glasses; 2) play an instrument; 3) improve test taking skills; 4) practice while you study and study while you practice; and 5) be up to date with the news. He hilariously demonstates each step, including doing math problems while shooting practice jumpers and playing iPad video games while filling out scantron tests.

He wraps the video by offering some heart-to-heart advice to his fans.

"If I could go back to high school," Lin says, "I would only change one thing. I'd still make sure I give my best effort but I would worry a lot less and I would enjoy that experience -- those four years in high school -- because they really do fly by."
 
Video courtesy of YouTube user TheJlin7
Posted on: November 1, 2011 10:26 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2011 11:52 am
 

Stephen Curry 'flows' through unpredictable year

Posted by Ben Golliver

stephen-curry

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry would be forgiven if his head was spinning.

In the past year, Curry has had to adjust to a new owner, a new management team, a new coach, a new wife, a new wheel (a surgically-repaired right ankle), and, of course, the NBA’s new world order: a no-end-in-sight but could-end-any-minute lockout.  It's a minor miracle that Curry has survived trade rumors, rehabilitation, and endless labor negotiations intact, but it's also not all that surprising, given that we're talking about a player who made his reputation by pushing past doubters at every step in his NBA journey. 

Curry made his current mantra clear in a phone interview last week. The injuries, the Warriors’ organizational transition, the labor impasse, the wedding, and an unlikely return to college -- all of it -- will be taken in stride. He will "flow" regardless of what happens. He’s one of many NBA players who continue to be about their business even though the lights in the NBA arenas are turned off, the practice facilities are locked, and coaches are no longer a phone call or text message away, lest NBA commissioner David Stern appear from the shadows to levy a mega-fine. 

That business began back in May, when Curry underwent surgery to repair ligaments in his right ankle after vicious sprains dogged him throughout the 2010-2011 season, and has continued with a lengthy rehabilitation program, a brief stop at the "Lockout League" in Las Vegas, and extensive work with Accelerate Basketball in North Carolina, where Curry is working to complete his degree at Davidson. Now, more than five months post-surgery, Curry says he would be ready if NBA training camp were to open tomorrow.

“I’d be ready,” Curry said, before offering a qualifier. “It would just be seeing how it reacts to two-a-days and back-to-back games and that kind of thing. When I’m on the floor right now, I feel unlimited in my motions, and feel confident mentally and physically when I’m out there. It’s a good start.”

A good start, but not yet a total recovery, at least not without the knowledge that the ankle will hold up to game conditions.

“I don’t know what it’s going to feel like,” Curry admits. “The first week of training camp will be able to tell me exactly where I’m at with the rehab and physically speaking. When the actual games start, I don’t want to be limited [minutes-wise], so hopefully the week of training camp that we have will allow me to just get out and play and help my ankle respond when I’m out there competing.”

It’s not just the ankle that will need to respond to game situations when he next takes the court. Curry will be looking to new head coach Mark Jackson, brought in by new Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, instead of Keith Smart, who was let go after the Warriors season ended with another trip to the NBA Draft Lottery. 

Last week, Jackson told CSNBayArea.com that his practice philosophy will focus on quality not quantity. Working long hours just to say they did it won’t be the Warriors way.  “There’s no sense coming in at 6 in the morning,” Jackson told the site. “It’s fake hustle. I appreciate it. But for what? Enjoy life and make sure you’re ready.”

Jackson, No. 3 all-time on the NBA's assists list, was hired just three weeks before the NBA’s gag order went into effect and hasn’t been able to contact Curry since June. Regardless, Curry likes what he hears when it comes Jackson's outlook.

“I like that approach,” Curry said. “We’re going to be focused, we’re going to be efficient, we’re going to work hard, watch film and get better. Like he said, just practice 3-4 hours, everybody has to be focused on what’s going on. I get my extra work in individually. It’s not like I’m deprived of court time when it comes to practice and during the season.”

The Warriors were better than average offensively in 2010-2011, but their bottom-five defense kept them from making a serious playoff push. Curry knows what Jackson’s focus will be next year, as the Warriors hope to climb into the postseason for just the second time since 1994-1995.

“Coach Jackson is going to come in and set the tone for us defensively. We have to have that presence every night when we come out and play. For me, being the point guard and general on the floor, that’s going to start with me and trickle down to everybody else, be his extension on the court.”

Coming off a season in which he posted 18.6 points and 5.8 assists per game – but also committed 3.1 turnovers per game -- Curry is looking for the same things from himself in his third NBA season that Warriors fans want to see: consistency and leadership. And, listening to him survey his roster of teammates and describe his team's needs, it sounds as if he feels like he has the horses to compete.

“We have four key guys coming back and a lot of great rookies that are coming in,” Curry said. “We just need some depth on the bench. We have myself, Monta Ellis, Dorell Wright and David Lee. We’re going to be the starting four. Andris Biedrins is coming back, he’ll be our starting five, most likely. That’s going to really be a good start.

"We just have to get our bench production up. We’re missing Reggie Williams, who is over in Spain right now, so we’ve got to fill his spot. We drafted well with Klay Thompson and Charles Jenkins who will be our backup guards and who can play some decent minutes. We also drafted Jeremy Tyler who is a beast down low. We just need to get a couple of veterans who can be voices in the locker room for us."

Curry had a brief taste of his leadership duties back in September in Las Vegas, where the Warriors led the NBA in attendance at Impact Basketball's Competitive Training Series, an independent "lockout league" for players to get into shape and experience full 5-on-5 runs against fellow NBA competition. More than half of Golden State's roster showed up.

“It was just an opportunity for us to get together and see each other collectively for the first time in three months,” Curry said. “Get on the floor, get some workouts in. I played in the Impact League for about five minutes, it was my first time playing since the season was over with. It allowed me to get some reps but not push it too hard. All the guys that were out there worked hard, hopefully we won’t have to schedule any more of those.”

With summer officially over and school back in session, Curry is currently surrounded by classmates instead of teammates. Not many NBA players have returned to school during the lockout, and even fewer had the kind of impact that Curry did at Davidson, where he put the small school on the national map by averaging 25.3 points per game and earning All-American recognition.

Curry admits that his presence drew some extra attention when he first stepped on campus but says that things have mostly settled down. “[The other students] have treated me like normal after the first week or two, and everybody realized that I was on campus for real and actually taking classes,” he said. “[I’m trying to handle] myself in a normal fashion. I think that helped a little bit.” 

stephen-curry-wedding

There it is again. That same theme. Trying to handle himself normally despite a series of changes and circumstances that have been, by and large, out of his control. For the time being, "normal" means establishing a nice routine: workouts, classes, and spending time with his wife, Ayesha, whom he married in July.

“We’ve kind of went with the flow,” Curry said, describing his first few months of married life. “It’s been odd timing, just a transition from the summer to seeing if the lockout was going to end. Not knowing where it was going to yet. Just a period of transition that hopefully ends soon.” As hard as Curry tries to roll with the punches, his anticipation is palpable. 

For now, he just waits, and waits, and waits, looking forward to the eventual return of the NBA and, more immediately, to the release of the latest Call of Duty video game next week.

“I’ve got the big screen in my man cave that’s geared up and ready for Modern Warfare 3,” Curry says, laughing gleefully about his plans for coping with the lockout boredom.

But how does his wife feel about him spending all his time in front of a 70” flat screen in his basement? “I might just have to put a controller in her hand and hopefully she might just pick it up and play,” Curry said. “Get on that multiplayer. I’m going to be competitive. I won’t take it easy on her.”

Buy an extra controller; problem solved. Five months in and Curry clearly has this whole marriage thing figured out. We can only hope that he offers his expertise to the NBA’s owners and the players union.

“If they can hear each other say 'yes' every once in a while, that might warm up the negotiations a little bit,” Curry said. There you have it. Move over, George Cohen. 

For a guy whose head should be spinning after the last year, Curry sure seems to keep his on straight. 

Photo credit: kristinviningphotoblog.com 

Posted on: September 26, 2011 10:16 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 10:20 pm
 

Warriors name Rick Welts President and COO

Posted by Royce Young

Just a few weeks after resigning his post as President and CEO of the Phoenix Suns, Rick Welts has been named the Warriors' new President and Chief Operating Officer.

It's a bit of a curious move as Welts resigned his position with the Suns because of a personal issue. Via the Arizona Republic, Welts said he wasn't leaving for another job, but another city. Welts, who announced he is gay over the summer, has a new relationship in Sacramento. (Sacramento is not where the Warriors play, obviously.)

Welts said at the time, "The most important thing for me is to get my personal and professional lives better aligned. They've probably never been aligned. I'm 58 years old and it's time to do that.

"This isn't one of those departures to see greener pastures. It really is completely a personal situation. These guys have been tremendously accommodating and any other inference than that is absolutely crazy."

A bit curious, I have to say. Obviously I don't know the details and I'm not going to speculate, but it's hard not to raise an eyebrow.

Welts said in a press release, "It’s hard to express how excited I am to embrace this opportunity and be part of a collective group in building the Warriors into a championship caliber organization. I’ve been most impressed with Joe Lacob and Peter Guber’s vision and desire to do something great. Not good, but great. Many of the ingredients are here – the Warriors’ rich history, the team’s amazing fan support and the strength of the Bay Area as a sports market. We have a lot of work to do and I can’t wait to get started.”

Maybe it was an offer he couldn't refuse. Who knows. But it's hard not to wonder. He seemed to really try and hammer home that he wasn't leaving for another job. And yet 17 days after resigning, he's taken a new job.

Other than the big news he made months ago, Welts is probably most famously known for being the mind behind the NBA's All-Star Weekend as well as a primary promoter of the 1992 Olympic "Dream Team." (Welts is credited with coming up with the name.) He is also credited with being a major part of the WNBA's creation in 1996.

Welts has been with the Suns since 2002 and was primarily in charge of boosting ticket sales and relieving then general manager Jerry Colangelo of some of his day-to-day business duties.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 2:36 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 2:36 pm
 

First up for each team in a post-lockout world

Posted by Royce Young



So the lockout could be ending soon, depending on who you're listening to. Maybe it extends into the season, but if it doesn't and a deal gets settled in the next few weeks, we're going to have one heck of a free agency period. Really, no matter when it's settled, we're going to have one wild free agency period.

(Unless we were to miss all of 2011-12 and you combined this class with next year's group. Now that would be something.)

If you thought the summer of 2010 was a frenzy, try cramming it all into a two-week period. Maybe I'm just thinking of how horrible it'll be for me. Regardless, you can be sure that all 30 teams have a pre-written itinerary on what they want to accomplish once the lockout is lifted. They have been planning, plotting and preparing to target the players they want or finish up a few final transactions on the roster.

But what's the first order of business for everybody? What's the priority, the thing that each team wants to get done right away? Here's a stab at each team's top job.

Atlanta Hawks: It really appears that the Hawks are ready and willing to let Jamal Crawford walk, but there's still a decision to made whether or not they want to compete for him in the free agent market. He was a key part of the team that made a somewhat surprising run to the Eastern Semifinals and re-signing him could be a priority. Problem is, they don't really have the funds for it.

Boston Celtics: What happens with Jeff Green? The Celtics have already tendered him a qualifying offer, but someone surely will extend him an offer sheet. The Celtics have issues at center still and Glen Davis is unrestricted, but figuring out Jeff Green's situation is probably weighing heaviest on Danny Ainge's mind.

Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats made a big splash in the draft, but if that's going to matter, they've got to get Bismack Biyombo on the team. His buyout could still be a major issue and though he says he'll be on the team when training camp starts, that's definitely up in the air.

Chicago Bulls: Wing scorer. Say it with me, wing scorer. Derrick Rose needs help (and an extension) in a big time way and it's up to Gar Foreman and company to find that help. Jamal Crawford maybe? Caron Butler? J.R. Smith if he wasn't in China? Someone has to give Rose a little offensive help and that's the top priority for the Bulls.

Cleveland Cavaliers: First thing? Putting Baron Davis on the scales to make sure he doesn't weigh 300 pounds. After that, there isn't a whole lot to be done in Cleveland. The club's rebuilding around their two lottery picks and you don't want to crowd the roster in a way that stunts their development.

Dallas Mavericks: The defending champs have a whole lot on their plate once the lockout ends. Caron Butler's contract is up. So is J.J. Barea's. So is DeShawn Stevenson's. So is Brian Cardinal's (just kidding -- well it is up, but you know what I mean). But the first order of business for Mark Cuban is to get Tyson Chandler re-signed. Not just that though, but to get him re-signed to a number that makes sense for the make-up of the roster.

Denver Nuggets: Despite the lockout, the Nuggets have kind of been gutted. J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Wilson Chandler are in China until at least March. Danilo Gallinari signed in Italy but has an NBA out. But all of that doesn't matter near as much as getting Nene re-signed. Without Nene, it doesn't matter. With Nene, there's still something worth building around.

Detroit Pistons: The Pistons are kind of trying to quietly usher out the old and bring in some new. Tayshaun Prince is a free agent, but I don't think they care. What'll be most interesting is how they handle Rodney Stuckey. The Pistons drafted Brandon Knight in June with Stuckey already their point guard. Do they want Knight to take over? Do they want to play them together? Share the role? Sorting out Stuckey's future is definitely what Joe Dumars has to do first.

Golden State Warriors: The Warriors could be players in free agency, but really, it's about deciding once and for all if Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry really are the backcourt tandem of the future for the team. If there's a time to move on, it's now when both of their values are still high. The Warriors flirted with dealing Ellis last season but it didn't happen. They're probably planning on revisiting that.

Houston Rockets: First order of business: Properly sending off Yao with a jersey retirement ceremony. After that, the Rockets are fairly settled, though you know Daryl Morey is just itching to pick up a phone and start transacting once the lockout's over.

Indiana Pacers: The Pacers have a number of expiring deals and aren't likely looking to re-sign them (maybe Josh McRoberts, maybe Jeff Foster). Larry Bird has been hunting more pieces to add to his mediocre roster for a while and you can be sure the Pacers are going to target some of the bigger free agent names in this class.

Los Angeles Clippers: Eric Gordon is ready for an extension, but the Clippers better be ready to match any offer DeAndre Jordan gets. You might not think that's a big deal, but forget Chris Kaman. The future of the Clips frontcourt is Blake Griffin and Jordan. You seven-footer from Texas A&M finally started figuring himself out a little last season and he's not far off from becoming a major defensive impact player.

Los Angeles Lakers: Shannon Brown's unrestricted, but he's really not that much of an impact player to be that concerned with. The Lakers might have to focus on how to re-structure the roster to suit a new CBA that could greatly cut into their total salary. Will they have to move Lamar Odom? Metta World Peace? But first things first: Giving Kobe and Mike Brown a proper introduction and letting them figure out the direction of the offense.

Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol. That's it for Memphis. It'd be nice to get Shane Battier back, but it's all about Gasol.

Miami Heat: It's kind of been overlooked, but Pat Riley and the Heat have a busy couple weeks waiting on them. Mike Bibby, Jamaal Magloire, Juwan Howard, Erick Dampier and James Jones are all unrestricted and Mario Chalmers is restricted. It's decision time for the Heat. Do they start restocking with veteran talent or look to get younger and develop?

Milwaukee Bucks: That first practice in Milwaukee is something Scott Skiles has probably been thinking about for a while. "Brandon, this is Stephen. Stephen, this is Brandon." The Bucks have some new talent as Stephen Jackson joins Brandon Jennings, but how will they get along?

Minnesota Timberwolves: Here's what David Kahn's to-do list looks like: 1) Hug Ricky. 2) Hug Darko. 3) Overpay a questionable free agent at a position you already have three guys. What it should look like: 1) Convince Kevin Love somehow to sign an extension. 2) Get rid of Michael Beasley and let Derrick Williams have the starting small forward spot all to himself. 3) Tell Rick Adelman to do his thing.

New Jersey Nets: Kris Humphies is an important piece of business but his re-signing goes hand in hand with the larger thing: Proving to Deron Williams that this is a place he wants to re-sign. The Nets have to take advantage right away of showing Williams they're serious about winning. And you do that by getting him some immediate help.

New Orleans Hornets: It's all about David West for the Hornets. Yes, he suffered a major knee injury last season. But he chose to become an unrestricted free agent and a team like the Nets is likely to come calling quickly. Can the Hornets hang on to Chris Paul's buddy?

New York Knicks: The Knicks have a little bit coming off the books but really they need to try and resist the urge to do something drastic in this free agency period. Which they will because of the big names coming up in 2012. Still, they want to field a solid team for this season -- and Mike D'Antoni needs them too -- so adding a quality veteran to help on the inside would be good.

Oklahoma City Thunder: The young Thunder roster is pretty much entirely set up. But Sam Presti has something to do right away once the lockout ends -- get Russell Westbrook his extension. Presti brought Kevin Durant his at midnight last July to make sure there was no doubt about locking up his superstar. Presti better be stalking Westbrook's house on the whim he lockout ends so he can extend the same treatment to his other star.

Orlando Magic: First order of business for Otis Smith and the Magic? Resume begging Dwight Howard to stay. One way to show it would be to get him some help, but Smith sort of laid those cards on the table last year in the Gilbert Arenas/Hedo Turkoglu trade. So it's back to convincing Howard there's a plan for the future and that it'll get better.

Philadelphia 76ers: Someone is ready and willing to give Thaddeus Young a serious offer, so the Sixers better be ready to match anything and everything.

Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash's trade value will be highest at the beginning of the season, so it's up to Lance Blanks and Robert Sarver to figure out if they're ready to move on. Aaron Brooks is a restricted free agent so if the Suns lock him up by matching an offer sheet, that'll be an indication that the Suns are preparing for life without Nash.

Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers are in love with Nicolas Batum, so extending him could be the first order of business, but really, the Blazers need to find a new general manager first. And whoever that guy is needs to decide that if for the off chance someone gives Greg Oden an offer, if he's willing to match. Oden already has an $8.8 qualifying offer, which is huge, so once Oden signs that, he'll likely be signing with the Blazers for another year.

Sacramento Kings: The Jimmer-Tyreke backcourt is going to be an interesting experiment, but Marcus Thornton is quietly one of the more intriguing free agents out there. The Bulls are likely looking at him long and hard right now. He's restricted, so the Kings could keep him, but the question is, with Tyreke moving off the ball for good and Jimmer handling the point, is it worth paying Thornton to just have him come off the bench?

San Antonio Spurs: Um, I guess just resume the typical day-to-day of the Spurs. Gregg Popovich is the longest tenured coach with a team and R.C. Buford probably isn't looking to go do anything drastic in this market. The Spurs are definitely aging, but there's not a lot to be done about that right now.

Toronto Raptors: Assuming the Raptors actually have Jonas Valanciunas for next season, Dwane Casey and company have to figure out if he's ready to cover for Andrea Bargnani on the inside. Can those two really play together and handle enough rebounding and defensive duties? The Raptors are in a place where they have to wait and see with some young players and aren't likely targeting any big names in the open market.

Utah Jazz: Most likely, Andrei Kirilenko won't be re-signing with the Jazz. So Kevin O'Connor will have to make a choice when the lockout's over: Does he try and restock a roster that can maybe squeak out the eight-seed, or does he commit to rebuilding around Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and others and just let them play it out? The Jazz would love to get some wing scoring help, so O'Connor will probably at least look that direction, but we'll have to see how serious he is.

Washington Wizards: It's not an earth-shattering decision, but Nick Young is a restricted free agent. And with his scoring ability, someone is ready to pay him. Do the Wizards want to keep him? Do they want to look elsewhere and maybe target say, Marcus Thornton? Or do they just let Young walk and see what Jordan Crawford's got?
Posted on: September 16, 2011 12:57 am
Edited on: September 16, 2011 1:16 am
 

Las Vegas 'Lockout League' Week 1 notebook

Posted by Ben Golliver

impact-basketball

Thursday night marked the end of Week 1 of the Las Vegas "Lockout League" at Impact Basketball. The fourth day of games was probably the week's most spirited, with some new faces upping the talent level and some technical fouls and trash talk livening up the week-long basketball marathon. Here's a quick look back at the week that was and a recap of the day's highlights.

Telfair eyes contender

At 26, Sebastian Telfair is now a decade removed from being one of the most hyped high school players of all time. His superstar trajectory never materiaized;  Telfair just concluded his seventh NBA season, has yet to make a single playoff appearance and has only played in more than 60 games once in the last four years. A free agent, Telfair hopes all that changes next season.

"I sure do have a list of teams in my mind," Telfair said. "Those teams being one of the teams to make a run for a championship or the teams that are fighting every year for a championship. Seeing Dallas win a championship, congratulations to them, but I'm jealous. I'm extremely jealous. Dallas is definitely on my list. They've got the gold right now. It's not a bad thing in this league to want to go where the gold is. If you can compete and help the team win a championship, that's one of the main focuses in the NBA.

Aside from the Mavericks, Telfair clammed up a little bit as to who was on his radar. "The obvious teams," he finally allowed. "I won't say any teams in particular, but the obvious teams."

Asked what he would bring to a championship contender at this stage of his career, Telfair didn't hesitate or elaborate: "I bring myself. I bring Sebastian Telfair."

Dudley addresses low turnout 

As noted earlier Thursday, only 35 to 40 players attended the National Basketball Players Association regional meeting at the Vdara Hotel. That was roughly half of estimates offered earlier in the week. Phoenix Suns guard Jared Dudley said people shouldn't rush to conclude that the low turnout number represents dissension, disinterest or disunity among the players.

"To me, does it matter? You can spin it that way. At the end of the day, I wasn't in a couple of the meetings in New York. Does that mean I'm not unified? I think that would be wrong to write that. At the end of the day, we all have to write papers, we all have to write stuff."

Modest, but worthwhile, improvements

There is plenty of good news for those considering checking out the "Lockout League" play next week. First, there are plenty of tickets available. Second, Impact Basketball has shown itself to be very flexible in making improvements to the series.

On Thursday, Impact added an in-game emcee to help narrate the action. This is a particularly fan-friendly addition because the players are playing in jerseys that do not bear their names and sometimes rotate from team to team throughout the week. There's also no large scoreboard or video replay, so it can get a bit confusing keeping track of everyone, especially for the non-diehards. Many of the players in attendance are not particularly recognizable or well-known, either, so the emcee was a thoughtful improvement. 

On Wednesday, Impact also cut back from four games per day to three games per day. While you might think at first that this would be less basketball for your money, the move actually improved the games considerably. Less was more here. The change allowed the games to be standardized to 10-minute quarters and rosters were condensed so that each team had seven or eight players instead of the five-a-side that was the norm during the four games per day earlier in the week. That meant each player could go harder, each guy could get breathers if necessary and the threat of a single injury stopping play was no longer a problem. Perhaps most importantly, it cut down on the total number of hours a fan would need to devote to seeing all the best players play. Instead of being in the gym from 1:30 p.m.to 9:30 p.m., fans could leave closer to 7:30 p.m. 

The new presence of bigger-name players like Al Harrington, Stephen Curry and Rudy Gay (who watched from the sideline) on Thursday didn't hurt either.

Hijinks 

In this no-frills environment there was bound to be edgier player behavior. Profanity from the court and from the pre-game soundtrack was the norm at Impact; the sterilization that you find at the NBA in that regard was not present. 

With only a few exceptions, the players, who were not forced by anyone to conduct interviews or interact with media or fans, were thoughtful and kind on and off the court. Of course, the exceptions are far more entertaining than the rule, so here are a few highlights.

Melvin Ely, who is reportedly heading to China, crumpled to the ground after taking a blow to his face. In some fairly serious pain, Ely was escorted to a training area away from the court, where he was attended to by medical personnel. On his way there, though, he took a quick detour to upend a large gatorade bucket in frustration, crashing the contents behind one of the team's benches. Players chuckled and media members raised their eyebrows.

On Thursday, Denver Nuggets forward Al Harrington made his debut with a bang, earning two technical fouls in one game for disputing calls. The first time, he merely shouted at one of the referees; the second time, he chucked a ball so far off the court it hit a brick wall some 20 or 30 feet behind one of the baskets. Harrington was not ejected after receiving his second technical, although free throws were awarded on both violations.

The best trash talk exchange of the week occurred on Thursday, when Indiana Pacers forward Dahntay Jones and Detroit Pistons forward Austin Daye got into an entertaining back-and-forth. Jones, as you might expect, was the Impact Basketball king of the hard foul, sending player after player crashing to the hardwood in an effort to prevent lay-ups. He also was quick to chat too.

Daye found himself arguing a call while waiting to rebound a free throw attempt. Jones, who was in the backcourt, piped up to let Daye know that he was "soft" and that he should end his argument. Daye, an exceptionally skinny man for an NBA player, took real exception to Jones' label, raising his arms up to gesture towards the media section located behind the basket.

"You've got the worst game in here, ask any of them," Daye told Jones twice. Jones responded by mocking Daye's arm motions and sarcastically mimicking his aggravated tone. Play eventually resumed. 

'When you work out with guys for three or four months," Dudley explained, "they get under your skin. You're tired, you want to go home."

Top scorer

Houston Rockets guard Kyle Lowry had the high point scoring game of the week, notching 56 points in a heated Thursday contest.
 
Team play

Probably the most entertaining team to watch was a late-arriving Golden State Warriors crew that made its debut on Thursday. Curry, David Lee, Jeremy Lin, Ekpe Udoh, Jeremy Tyler, Klay Thompson, Lou Amundson, Charles Jenkins and Dorell Wright all got some run in. There were so many Warriors they actually had to be split up into two squads. What was great about Golden State was that you could see real chemistry at work rather than the slapped together teamwork that you usually see in summer exhibitions. Lots of communication and instruction. Lee hollered across the court at Lin, instructing him to stay in the weakside corner and serve as an outlet whenever he drew interior defenders on a drive. Thompson got a feel for establishing an inside-outside game with Lee, and lit it up from deep, draining jumper after jumper. 

Undersized Thomas feels he has a leg up 

Of the incoming rookie class of 2011, Isaiah Thomas, the draft's final pick by the Sacramento Kings, stood out for how comfortable he looked against more seasoned competition. Thomas is an undersized scoring guard who will struggle to defend at the NBA level. But he's also exceedingly quick, confident and able to create his own shot, a nice combination for a reserve, change of pace guard.

Thomas said he fit in right away at Impact because of his previous experience playing against professional players in Seattle, where he attended the University of Washington. 

"It's a blessing because not everybody in my position has that [experience]," Thomas said. "We've got guys like Brandon Roy, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson and the list goes on. Jason Terry. They really look out for the younger guys, the guy like Brandon Roy is such a great guy, he gives me input before games, after games, even when we workout together up in Seattle. He's a great guy and I learn from things like that.

He said he feels like he has a leg up on many other rookies in his position, both on and off the court, because of that guidance.

"It makes the transition smoother. Every guy up in Seattle has been through the situation I'm about to go through, but in different ways. If I can ask them about practice is going, what to expect, what's the business side of things. They all got different input, I take that all in. They are just trying to help, they are never going to steer me in the wrong direction."

As the last man selected in the draft and with a nonguaranteed contract likely in his future, Thomas realizes he will have to get in where he fits in with the Kings. "Play hard, play every possession like it's my last," Thomas explained. "Do whatever that want me to do. Score, get others involved, get on loose balls, play defense, I just want to play. After the draft, the Kings said, 'Keep doing what you're doing. We're excited when the time comes.'"
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com