Tag:Rudy Gay
Posted on: September 13, 2010 12:06 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2010 12:08 pm
 

Pop Quiz: Who's ready to break out?

Posted by Royce Young

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

What player makes a Durant-like leap into a new stratosphere?

Everyone wants to crown the next great NBA player. But going from solid star player on your team, to recognized NBA wide superstar is a different story.

Kevin Durant won the Rookie of the Year award, then followed that season up with a quality second season. Most folks thought he'd be the next big thing, they just weren't sure when. But his third season was a leap of another kind.

Durant became the NBA's youngest scoring champion at 21 years old, took his previous 23-win team to 50, got his group to the playoffs, pushed the eventual champions as hard as anyone and also finished second in the MVP voting. Durant in 2009-10 appeared on national TV only four times (not including the playoffs). Going into this season, he's rapidly becoming one of the faces of the league as he's slated to be on the big stage 26 times.

And after this summer's performance in Turkey, well, some are even elevating Durant to the top of the heap. But that's a whole other story.

We're asking what player could be next. Not the next Durant, but the next player to go from borderline star to the next level. Maybe he's already an All-Star. But is he a superstar? Who could be the next guy mentioned along with the top players in the league? Five candidates:

Tyreke Evans, Kings
- Last season's Rookie of the Year definitely had his moments. He averaged 20.1 ppg (odd, that's exactly what Durant averaged when he won Rookie of the Year...), shot 46 percent from the floor and dished out nearly six assists a game. Evans blew people away with his ability to get to the rim and with a reportedly improved jumper, he might be unguardable .

Now his hangup is that he doesn't officially have a position. Most can't figure out if he's a point guard, a shooting guard or something that we don't even know about. No bother though, because Evans is going to get points wherever he plays.

Now can he get to the next level? He absolutely has the ability to. But what really began to take Durant up was how his elevated play improved his team. That will be crucial for Evans. If the Kings are in the basement again this year, it doesn't really matter what Evans is doing. But if he plays well and the Kings win, he could certainly be an All-Star.

Derrick Rose, Bulls - The world is waiting. Waiting on Derrick Rose to become what we know he can be. He's the kind of player that reveals glimpses, flashes, small tastes of just how ridiculously good he can be.

But he hasn't been able to put it together for a consistent period of time.

Now however, Rose has the best supporting cast he's had yet. He no longer has to be point guard, creator and scorer all wrapped into one. He can relax and pass off to Carlos Boozer. He can penetrate and kick to Kyle Korver . Or his still can take games over all by himself.

Greatness awaits Derrick Rose. It's just a matter of when he breaks out. And I'm guessing this year.

Russell Westbrook, Thunder
- Before you dismiss, consider Westbrook's stats: 16.1 ppg , 8.0 apg and 4.9 rpg . Only one other player in the league averaged at least 16-8-5. His name? LeBron James.

Westbrook had a case to make the All-Star team last season with Chris Paul out and Deron Williams pulling out at the last minute. Jason Kidd got the hometown bid, but Westbrook was right there. His game has steadily improved since he came into the league two seasons ago without a position. He has a jumpshot that's improved, he handles the game like a legit point man and he's probably the fastest end-to-end player in the league.

No matter what, Westbrook will be overshadowed by Durant, but with Durant's high profile, his teammates' rise as well. Durant's not the only guy getting all those appearances on national TV. Westbrook impressed people that hadn't seen him much in Turkey with his athletic ability and his lack of fear. The more people see him, the more blown away they'll be.

Rudy Gay, Grizzlies - Sometimes big money can make a guy complacent. Sometimes though, it can motivate him to prove people wrong.

A lot of fans, media and heck, even Rudy Gay himself, were shocked with his massive contract extension. And Gay has had to hear how he wasn't worthy of the big payday. Either he can be satisfied and just cash his checks and put up 19 and 8, or he can use it as a little extra to push him and his Memphis squad to a different level.

The Grizzlies weren't far off last season. Behind Gay's improved play, Memphis made a small playoff push for a time. The talent is there for Rudy. Actually, he's got more than enough talent. His issue is that on some nights, he disappears. He goes from dropping 25 on Tuesday to 10 on Wednesday. When he starts to put it all together, he has the makings of a star. It's easy to forget that he's just 24.

Danny Granger, Pacers - Over the past two seasons, Granger has averaged 25.8 ppg and 24.1 ppg . He shot over 44 percent from the field and over 36 percent from 3. He also averaged over five rebounds just as an extra.

Yet in the world of small forward talk, Granger gets left out. He's one of the top scorers in the league, yet most forget about him. That to me, is the definition of a breakout player waiting to happen.

Much like these other guys, Granger has been playing for a team that's not winning. Tough to be a recognized star when your team stinks. The Pacers might not be good this year, but they certainly should be better. And if Granger is the man leading that charge, maybe he starts to get a bit more recognition. The points are there. He scores at basically the same clip Carmelo Anthony has during his career. Now it's just about people seeing it.
Posted on: September 6, 2010 1:04 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2010 1:05 pm
 

Team USA dismantles Angola, 121-66

Posted by Royce Young

Some thought Team USA might have been holding something back in group play. Maybe they were, or maybe they're just hitting their stride.

The U.S. obliterated Angola 121-66 in a game that was only close at 0-0. It was 33-13 after the first, 65-38 at the half and in the end, 55 points separated the two teams.

This was easily the Team USA's best offensive performance as the U.S. hit triple-digits for only the second time in the tournament, scored the most points, shot a sizzling 53 percent and knocked down 18 3s on 38 shots. Kevin Durant and Chauncey Billups did most of the damage scoring 17 and 19 points, respectively, with all of Durant's coming in the first half. Rudy Gay and Eric Gordon both added 17 as well.

One of the most impressive and encouraging aspects of the game was the way the U.S. moved the ball. Team USA finished with 28 assists for their 41 made baskets, a pretty incredible number. Plus, the U.S. only turned the ball over four times and didn't have their third until the fourth quarter. It was near flawless offensive execution for the U.S., something that they had struggled with the past three games.

Angola helped some in getting the U.S.'s offense moving though. Angola didn't play hardly any man-to-man defense, but rather deferred to a very soft zone, letting the U.S.'s shooters have almost any look they wanted. Billups, who came in 4-19 on 3s in the previous five games, went 5-7 from deep. Gordon went 5-6 from 3. Derrick Rose hit 3 of 4. It was a shooting gallery for the U.S. and Angola didn't mind.

On top of the soft defense, Angola also never even attempted to control tempo. They were perfectly content with playing at the U.S.'s pace and as a result, didn't have a lot of of offensive consistency. The game was mainly free-flowing, especially on the Angola end. And the Angolans lack of size didn't help either. The U.S. won the boards 43-23 and snagged 19 offensive rebounds.

Angola's top scorer Olimpio Cipriano didn't play because of an injury sustained against Germany, but Joaquim Gomes had a nice night for Angola. He finished with 21 points on 9-12 shooting to lead all scorers.

Moving forward, there's not a ton to take from the game other than it looks like the U.S. is hitting on all cylinders. Which is obviously what you want to be doing heading deeper into the knockout round. The road is going to be much tougher than it was today, with a likely matchup against a quality Russia squad next.

Team USA has off Tuesday and Wednesday and will play the winner of Russia-New Zealand, who play a little later today.
Posted on: August 24, 2010 1:58 pm
 

Rajon Rondo withdraws from Team USA

Celtics guard asks to be cut for personal reasons, final roster set.
Posted by Matt Moore

A shocking development came down the pipeline of Team USA today, as Rajon Rondo has been cut from the team, after asking to withdraw for personal reasons . Head of USA basketball Jerry Colangelo thanked Rondo for his effort and commitment and issued a statement of support for the Celtics guard. Rondo had been the starter for Team USA, but had also looked lackadaiscal and dispassionate for long stretches.

The final cut was widely talked about being between Stephen Curry, whose game fits well on the international stage but who has been battling injury, and Russell Westbrook, the lowest name guard on roster. With Rondo out, they both make the team. Losing Rondo hurts in several key areas however. While a lot of talk has been about the lack of shooting on Team USA, an area Rondo was not equipped to help in, his pressure perimeter defense and distribution skills were unmatched among the plethora of guards Coach K and Colangelo decided to take overseas. Losing him means Derrick Rose will need to step up considerably on both sides of the ball to be the distributor, with Chauncey Billups primarily playing shooting guard for the club.

The final Team USA roster, finalized today with Rondo's withdrawal:

Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets)
Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks)
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies)
Eric Gordon (Los Angeles Clippers)
Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers)
Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers)
Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Lamar Odom
(Los Angeles Lakers)
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)

The 2010 FIBA World Championships begin Saturday.
Posted on: August 4, 2010 6:14 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2010 6:17 pm
 

Lopez out, McGee in: What's it mean for Team USA?

Posted by Royce Young

About 30 feet. (Or rather, 9.14 meters since the games are in Europe.) That's about how much size has either gotten hurt or has been forced to drop out of the World Championships for Team USA. The latest? Seven-footer Brook Lopez will not participate because he hasn't fully recovered from mono.

After Jerry Colangelo announced the 15-man roster that would go to training camp Aug. 10-16, everyone noticed one thing: There are only two centers on this squad. Well, make that one now.

However, shortly after Lopez officially bowed out, promising youngster JaVale McGee was added to the roster. Now McGee is raw and there's no guarantee he'll be on the final 12-man that heads to Turkey. But chances are looking pretty good for the Wizard big man. That's mainly due to process of elimination or just survival of the fittest, but regardless, it's McGee's time to step up.

Assuming Team USA keeps McGee to go along with Tyson Chandler, how does this affect them? Well, a lot actually. No matter what, it's hard to see McGee being a key cog in the Team USA rotation. He's young, doesn't have any international experience and was really only brought into camp originally to serve as a training buddy for the other big men. We knew players like Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay were going to interchange between positions, but now it's a question of how much. Could Durant see 10 minutes a game at center? Fifteen? Twenty? If that happens, is does Danny Granger make the squad to fill in time at small forward? Lopez's situation has set off a bit of a chain reaction on the roster, and it won't be easy to solve.

So is McGee now a lock though? Hardly. Yes, it makes sense to bring him because having only one center would seem odd, especially when foul trouble is easy to get into going against the likes of Marc Gasol of Spain and Sofoklis Schortsanitis or Greece. But at the same time, if a tweener like Jeff Green impresses in New York, Colangelo and Coach K may prefer to just play small at times and have that versatility and flexibility.

More than likely if McGee makes the final roster, he'll be there as an insurance policy for Chandler. You don't want to waste a roster spot on a guy that's there just to wear warmups. Especially when that means a talented player will have to be left home. Then again, that extra player - if it's anyone other than Green - will likely be stuck behind multiple players anyway. So really, what are you losing by taking McGee over say, Eric Gordon, who might be behind five other guys anyway?



But let's not sell McGee short here. He looked fairly fantastic in Vegas during summer league and had moments during the scrimmage a few weeks ago. There's good reason to think he could serve a purpose and honestly, might even find a little floor time. This USA team is going to run. And McGee is ideal in transition.

Training camp in New York just got a little more interesting and the cuts for Coach K and Colangelo just got tougher. Do you completely buy into the small ball approach and take a better player? Or bring McGee and have two centers? Whatever the case, Team USA was dealt another blow Wednesday and its trip to Turkey just became a whole heck of a lot tougher.
Posted on: July 31, 2010 1:29 am
Edited on: July 31, 2010 1:31 am
 

Five teams that could've utilized a franchise tag

Posted by Royce Young

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement due to be negotiated next summer will likely have some significant changes. And as Ken Berger writes , the NBA might find some advantage in adopting a signing bonus or franchise tag type system that the NFL employs. What is a franchise tag you ask?

Basically it's a one-year contract at the maximum salary tagged on an unrestricted free agent that prevents him from negotiating with other teams. But there are two types in the NFL:

Exclusive: Player cannot negotiate with other teams and his salary is the greater of 1) 120% of previous year's salary or 2) average salary of the top 5 players playing the same position from the current year.

Non-exclusive: Salary terms are the same except it's the average of the top 5 players from the previous year. Player can negotiate with other teams but current team reserves the right to match the offer. If it doesn't match the offer, it receives two first-round draft picks.

(It would work a little differently from the NFL because salaries don't vary between position in the NBA. There's often no difference between the value of a shooting guard and a center.)

So if the NBA adopted this type of rule, how would it have affected this summer's free agency apocalyse? Ken Berger points out how it could've forced LeBron to stay in Cleveland for (at least) one more year. So here are five teams that could've utilized a franchise tag to its benefit.

Phoenix Suns
This is the best example of how the franchise tag rule would've benefitted a team. The Suns are running out of time in the Steve Nash era. And with Amar'e Stoudemire's contract up, Phoenix had to make a tough decision. Instead of extended Stoudemire out, the Suns were only willing to offer a three-year deal. So New York came in and swooped Amar'e up.

Now if Phoenix could've slapped that tag on Stoudemire, the Suns would've bought at least one more year with him. They'd get at least one more year of Nash teaming with him and maybe one last hurrah at making a deep Western Conference run. Instead, the Suns weren't willing to go long-term on Stoudemire because of injury concerns and therefore he walked.

Memphis Grizzlies
Most agree, Rudy Gay was overpaid. Heck, even Rudy Gay agrees Rudy Gay was overpaid. But the Grizzlies were in a tight spot. If they didn't offer up max money for their 23-year-old star, someone else would. So Memphis tried to nip any other offers and lock up their man for multiple years. Did they jump the gun early? Probably. Gay might be a max player, but that's probably ot be determined. But their hand was forced.

So if Gay gets tagged a franchise player, he gets one year of max money, plus a chance to prove he's worth that. Memphis buys itself another year to figure out who to open its wallet to and potentially stops itself from overreacting based on what it thought the market would do.

Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks were in a similar situation to Memphis. They wanted to keep their star, but were they really ready to dump that kind of money on Joe Johnson. He flopped in the postseason and really had the look of a second banana rather than an alpha dog. Had Atlanta tagged Johnson with the franchise label, he gets another year to figure out if that's where he wants to be.

Plus Atlanta gets an idea if he's the player it needs. The Hawks didn't want to lose him while they have a competitive talented roster. But in four years, they may be really regretting the contract.

Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are probably the first team that comes to most folks mind other than LeBron. But that would've been interesting. Bosh had soured on staying in Toronto. He wanted to go somewhere where the lights are bright. So had Toronto locked down Bosh to try and buy itself one more season to sell its plan and coax a good season out if it, it may not have ended well in the first place.

That's the drawback of the tag. In some cases, players want to leave. Bosh wanted to leave. Preventing him for that might've just made him mad and he likely would've demanded a trade.

San Antonio Spurs
Everyone was a little stunned when Richard Jefferson opted out of a deal in which he was owed $15 million for the next season. But he had a reason: He wanted a long-term contract. And while it worked out fine for the Spurs in the end, had they been able franchise Jefferson, they could've prevented giving him multiple years.

Jefferson was disappointing last season. He underpeformed in basically every category. Everyone knows he can play, but some worried if maybe he was washing up. San Antonio likely preferred not to give Jefferson four or five years, especially for a guy it can't be certain will return to form. If there were some sort of non-exclusive rule where Jefferson is paid no the max money but based on relative compensation, the Spurs could've franchised Jefferson, and let him earn a long-term deal this season. I don't think they would've picked that route of the one they got, but at least it would've been an option.

As you can tell, a franchise tag benefits the team and the owners moreso than the players. In a situation like Toronto, you'd have a lame duck season from Chris Bosh would be asking for a way out. It's a solution the NBA probably would never adopt in the exact same format as the NFL, but in some way, the league wants to keep players with their original teams. If anything else, this is an exercise in the "what if?" world of things.

Posted on: July 28, 2010 5:37 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 12:12 am
 

Team USA makes odd cuts to roster

Posted by Matt Moore

Not everyone gets to go to Istanbul (not Constantinople ). Today Team USA officials revealed the roster finalists that will head to New York for the last round of cuts before starting international play for this summer's FIBA World Championships. Royce has told you all about who made it. But who got cut?

Just as we told you earlier that FanHouse had reported , Tyreke Evans, Gerald Wallace, O.J. Mayo and JaVale McGee were cut from the roster before the team heads to New York.  Evans was known for a while, as he tweaked his ankle at the start of camp and was going to be unavailable for the team regardless. The others, though, represent a set of confusing decisions that aren't extremely perplexing, but are enough to make you scratch your head, especially when you examining who they were replaced with. Some of these could be due to conflicts, personality clashes, or injury, but based on basketball, there are some question marks.

These players who made the cut were locks, and should have been:

1. Kevin Durant: Best player available.
2. Chauncey Billups: Veteran leadership.
3. Lamar Odom: Who doesn't want a space cadet small forward with great length who occasionally is dominant?
4. Danny Granger: Good at basketball.
5. Andre Iguodala: His reputation preceds his game. By miles.
6. Tyson Chandler: Big, which USA has none of right now.
7. Brook Lopez: Ditto, despite his game not being well suited for FIBA play.
8. Stephen Curry: A prolific shooter with passing skills and range. Perfect for Coach K, perfect for FIBA.
9. Kevin Love: Seriously. No bigs. Need bigs.
10. Rudy Gay: Has looked like he actually is worth the money he earned this summer, and they need a true SF with multiple combo-forwards on roster.

But then there are these five.

11. Jeff Green: Tweener that's not a great rebounder, provides range and versatility on a roster stacked with perimeter players.
12. Rajon Rondo: Not a great mid-range shooter, seemed to dog it in the Team USA scrimmage. Coach K did say on a conference call that he and Rondo have a good relationship.
13. Russell Westbrook: Fiery, great penetration guard, but it's a roster chock full of them. Seems superfluous next to Curry, Rondo, and Billups.
14. Derrick Rose: Same deal.
15. Eric Gordon: Wait, what?

Wallace is able to play the 3 or the 4, unlike Gay, is a better rebounder than Iggy, and is a better defender than Granger. If you're shopping for a versatile player that doesn't have to score (due to the roster being stuffed with scorers), Wallace is a great combination of all of the above. Sure, he doesn't have Iguodala's inability to create his own shot or Gay's penchant for electing for 20 foot jumpers, but it's hard to see how they could have thought his effort wasn't enough.

McGee makes sense, from the perspective of needing a more well-rounded offensive attack at center. Except why then is Tyson Chandler likely to start? Terrific defender, no doubt, but his injury issues have to be a concern (even more so for the Mavs), and unless Chris Paul is lobbing him alley-oops from the other side of the planet, his offensive weaponry is largely a bust. Green was put on roster, despite being a perimeter stretch four among a sea of great three point shooters. Wouldn't McGee's energy and size been a better fit for the roster?

Mayo, however, makes up the most egregious exclusion. Apparently the plan is to throw out multiple point guard lineups and have the other spread the floor. Except that Rondo's not a tremendous three point shooter. But they did throw in Eric Gordon. Who Mayo has shown to be better at in nearly every relevant shooting and scoring category. Considering Gordon's size, defense can't be the reason. In the end, you have to wonder if this was simply a case of Mayo not being a "Coach K kind of guy" and with no real advocate on roster, fell to the side. Either that or he suffered an injury. It just seems odd to have a plan of versatile fast shooters, then leave one at home.

But then, the man did win Gold two years ago, so obviously he knows a thing or two about what he's doing. We'll see if he can pull it off without the monster-roster he had then.

The next round of cuts should come next month before the team leaves for Europe in a series of warm-up matches to the World Championships.
Posted on: July 28, 2010 3:47 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2010 3:48 pm
 

Team USA: The Final 15

Posted by Royce Young

The first cuts for Team USA have been made and the 15 players that will be moving on to training camp (August 10-16) in New York are:
A few notes of the roster :
  • We all knew it was going to be guard heavy. But now seeing the 15 that moved on, it's really guard heavy. JaVale McGee picked up a little momentum especially because of the injuries and issues within the roster, but eventually didn't move on. Instead the roster is going with versatility and players that will be able to shuffle through positions. 
  • For instance, Jeff Green made the cut and Coach K as to why: "It's one of the reasons he's still one of the 15 is because of his versatility."
  • Right now, there are four point guards. So common sense says one likely won't be making the final roster. How you narrow down between those four, I don't know.
  • Coach K indicated Billups would be a player that would slide over to the 2-guard slot when other point guards come in. 
  • Team USA's center situation: Brook Lopez and Tyson Chandler. That's it. Coach K said, "We are concerned about the size."
  • Colangelo said Lopez was given the benefit of the doubt because of his case of mono. He said Lopez was selected for New York based on the idea that he would regain some form and get healthy. He mentioned that they didn't know Lopez came in ill, but admitted that his size probably helped him make this cut.
  • Coach K said players like Durant and Gay will play a lot of power forward.
  • Colangelo said as of right now, they have a sold eight or nine that will make the roster for Turkey. So that means there are three or four slots open to be battled for in New York.
These next fews weeks will the roster will likely get narrowed down to 12, though Colangelo noted that they might consider taking more than that to Turkey and then cutting from there. Only 12 can actually be eligible to play in Turkey, but Colangelo and Coach K indicated they may use all the time needed.

Posted on: July 23, 2010 10:08 am
Edited on: July 23, 2010 3:30 pm
 

Offseason reviews: Southwest Division

Posted by Royce Young

Dallas Mavericks

Added: Tyson Chandler (trade), Alexis Ajinca (trade), Ian Mahinmi (free agency), Dominique Jones (draft)
Lost:
Erick Dampier (trade), Eduardo Najera (trade), Matt Carroll (trade)

Philosophy: "It's now or never."

The Mavs' clock is starting to tick. Time is beginning to run out on the Dirk Nowitzki era and the team knows this. And every move this offseason was made in an effort to stay competitive, get to the playoffs and hopefully set themselves up for more midseason moves if necessary. The Mavericks have had the type of roster over the last 10 years that's always good enough to win 50 games, get to the postseason and maybe even win a series. But there's just never enough oomph to it and it seems like the Mavs are always a player short.

Tyson Chandler for Erick Dampier seems like a lateral move in a sense because does that really improve Dallas to the point that they're a legitimate contender now? Unlikely. The Mavericks picked up about 10 centers, but with Brendan Haywood now established inside, the Mavericks are looking to match up with Bynum and Gasol and with Chandler, things got a little better.

Grade: B-

Houston Rockets

Added: Luis Scola (re-signed), Kyle Lowry (re-signed), Brad Miller (free agency), Patrick Patterson (draft)
Lost: None

Philosophy: "Keep playing chess while the rest, you know."

You might as well count Yao as addition as well, because getting the big man back is huge for the Rockets. But Houston re-inked Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola for the long-term and brought in Brad Miller as help/insurance behind Yao. The Rockets are a team that want sustained success but are looking to compete now. Daryl Morey isn't shy about being active to build a roster he prefers, and this offseason, he did exactly that. The Rockets drafted Patrick Patterson in the first round, re-signed a few players and attempted to address an issue inside.

Grade: B+

Memphis Grizzlies

Added: Rudy Gay (re-signed), Tony Allen (free agency), Xavier Henry (draft)
Lost: Marcus Williams (free agency), Lester Hudson (free agency)

Philosophy: "Hang with us, we're getting there."

The Grizzlies have built a quality roster somewhat unconventionally. They've acquired a large bulk of it through the draft and trades, but really scored big last season when Zach Randolph decided he was ready to play without any baggage. The biggest thing the Grizzlies did this offseason was re-sign Rudy Gay. Now, is Gay worth $84 million? Eh, that's a pretty hefty price for him. But keep in mind, Gay is only 23 and had his best season last year. And someone was going to pay him. It basically came down to if Memphis wanted to hang on to its franchise player, they were going to have to overpay. These are the type of things that can hurt in the long term, but it was a choice the Grizzlies had to make and they chose to keep their most talented player. Hard to say it's really that dumb.

The Tony Allen signing is a slight headscratcher, mainly because where does he fit in for quality minutes? O.J. Mayo may be learning to play point, but he's still the starting 2. Of course there's Xavier Henry who the Grizzlies drafted and though he can play small forward, he's a more natural shooting guard. Allen is versatile and brought in to defend, but $15 million over three years is pretty steep for a guy that might only play 15-20 minutes a night.

The one thing about the Grizzlies is that there doesn't seem to be any real direction. It's more a collection of talented players, but how do they fit together? How do they play together? Memphis isn't necessarily a player or two away from being a playoff team, but more an existing roster player elevating his game. Mike Conley Jr. definitely was an improved player last season, so maybe he's a candidate for a leap. Same with O.J. Mayo. The talent is in the cupboard, it's just about pulling it out onto the floor.

Grade: B

New Orleans Hornets

Added: Quincy Pondexter (draft), Craig Brackins (draft)
Lost: Morris Peterson (trade), Sean Marks (free agency), Chris Paul's commitment to the franchise

Philosophy: "Just trust us Chris! We'll get better!"

Ignore all that Chris Paul talk for just one minute. The Hornets, have been a pretty active team this offseason. And not just in terms of the roster. New Orleans has its GM resign, then hired a new GM, hired a new coach and is in the process of transferring ownership. Then they signed Luther Head and rescinded that deal. Plus they traded the 11th pick, Cole Aldrich, for Quincy Pondexter and Craig Brackins.

They've done a whole lot, while doing very little. But it all comes back to Paul. The main goal of this offseason is to set up a new front office, install a new coach and somehow convince your soured star to stay true to the mission. If that gets done, this is a slam dunk of an offseason for the Hornets, considering the circumstances. If Paul walks, the summer months were nothing short of a disaster.

Grade: Incomplete

San Antonio Spurs

Added: Tiago Splitter (signed), Richard Jefferson (re-signed), James Anderson (draft), Ryan Richards (draft), Gary Neal (summer league signee)
Lost: Roger Mason Jr. (free agency), Keith Bogans (free agency), Ian Mahinmi (free agency),

Philosophy: "We're not done yet."

The Spurs are offseason savants. RC Buford and company know how to pay just the right money, push the right buttons and get the right players. And evidently how to talk people out of $15 million. Take say, Richard Jefferson for example. The Spurs lucked out when Jefferson opted out of his $15 million deal. He claimed it was because he wanted a long-term deal. The Spurs obliged, Jefferson took less money and it saved the Spurs from busting the luxury tax and kept some serious coin in their pockets. It's a fishy deal, but nonetheless, good for San Antonio.

Next, they signed Tiago Splitter. Splitter has been sort of a myth the last few years. A gifted big man that tore it up internationally, but couldn't come to terms with San Antonio. Well, the Spurs officially inked him to a sensible deal (about $16 million over three years) and not only is Splitter visions of the future for San Antonio, but he also helps now. They also added James Anderson, an All-American and prolific college scorer to replace Roger Mason Jr. The Spurs know what they want to do and while their core may seem ancient, the goal remains the same: build around talent and ride Tim Duncan until he can't walk anymore.

Grade: B+


 
 
 
 
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