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Tag:Jeff Green
Posted on: November 19, 2010 8:21 am
 

Shootaround 11.19.10: Friends and enemies

Posted by Royce Young
  • Joey Graham is making friends in Cleveland: ''He'll be in the rotation for a little while,'' Cavs coach Byron Scott. ''I wanted to try something different. With Joey, I know I can get some scoring in the post. He's kind of made his living there.''
  • Cole Aldrich is blogging for Dime : "Someone asked me the other day to compare Coach Brooks and Coach Self. I would say the main thing that sticks out is both of their philosophies are defensive-minded. If you look at the teams that have won NBA championships, they were strong defensive teams like Boston and the Lakers. In terms of differences, Coach Brooks is probably a slight bit more laid back than Coach Self. He always expects a lot out of you, and he’ll get after you a little more."
  • J.R. Smith is losing his role to Gary Forbes: "I think J.R. knows exactly where we're at," Karl told The Denver Post Wednesday. "I think right now, it's J.R. and me, and I think J.R. should understand what's going on. I've got a kid playing better than he is playing. And I don't have minutes to share."
  • Eddy Rivera of MagicBasketball on Orlando's win: "There was no one from Phoenix that could slow down Howard, let alone stop him, so they were forced to double-team him nearly every time he touched the ball in a 4-out/1-in offensive set. This forced Howard to be a passer and, aside from a few turnovers here and there, he was able to spur some ball movement. Perhaps the one thing to takeaway from Howard’s performance on offense was that he was able to make two jumpshots on the left elbow with the third quarter winding down."
Posted on: November 1, 2010 1:31 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2010 1:32 pm
 

Oklahoma City and the full-court press

Posted by Royce Young

Kevin Durant and some of his teammates have nicknamed the Oklahoma City franchise "Thunder U" because of the college-like attitude the permeates from the team, ranging from the rabid home crowd to the togetherness of the players.

But the Thunder showed another college-like wrinkle in their 120-99 loss to the Utah Jazz Sunday night. A full-court press.



At basically every level except the professional one, basketball teams press. Nolan Richardson made "40 minutes of hell" famous with his swarming, intense full-court attack at Arkansas. Rick Pitino utilizes high-energy presses at Louisville (and before, at Kentucky) to try and turn up the Heat, speed up the tempo and get an opponent playing out of character and faster than they want to.

College basketball teams that know how to use a press often break it out when trailing by double-digits late in the second half of a game. It can lead to quick shots from your opponent, turnovers leading to easy buckets and sometimes, turn a 15-point deficit into a six-point one in a matter of minutes.

And with the Thunder trailing the Jazz by 27 mid-way through the third quarter, Scott Brooks called on the dogs.

Brooks used two different lineups with the press. The second one was the most interesting. Technically, James Harden was the point guard with Daequan Cook, Thabo Sefolosha, Jeff Green and Kevin Durant, who played center. Durant was the "point man" on the press, with Harden picking up the ball-handler. Unlike Pitino's press, the Thunder didn't really try trap, but instead went for steals and tried for turnovers. (The first lineup if you're wondering was Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green and Ibaka.)

It worked too. The Thunder quickly went on an 8-0 run, cutting into the Jazz lead while energizing the crowd. it helped too that Deron Williams was out because of foul trouble. So the Thunder funneled the ball into the hands of Gordon Hayward and C.J. Miles, players that aren't deft ball-handlers.

Oklahoma City pressed for the remaining six minutes of the third and for about four minutes of the fourth. After Williams returned, the Jazz found a few easy buckets and started breaking through.

Brooks probably kept the press on a little too long, as the Jazz adapted and moved past it with ease. The surprise element definitely caught the Jazz off-guard, especially with secondary ball-handlers on the court. That part was pretty smart by Brooks - put on the press with Earl Watson, Hayward and Miles handling the ball, not Williams.

Malcolm Gladwell made a very strong case for why NBA teams should press, citing reasons like supreme athleticism and the versatility of players to make a difference on an opponents offense. For OKC, those things definitely apply. Even if the press doesn't work, you make the other guy exert effort, you drain time off the shot clock, disrupting their offensive sets and potentially you pressure them into a mistake.

And it worked in Oklahoma City for a time too, igniting a small run and some energy to an otherwise flat team and crowd. But the Jazz pointed out the problems with it being completely successful - when you've got good players, breaking a press isn't that difficult.

A press at lower levels often is successful because players aren't as skilled, are easy rattled and the frantic pace can mess with someone that's not an expert at handling the ball. NBA players don't suffer from those issues, well, for the most part. So while the Thunder press was fun and potentially something we haven't seen the last of, it's not quite a deadly secret weapon in Brooks' back pocket.
Posted on: October 29, 2010 9:53 am
Edited on: October 29, 2010 11:25 am
 

Shootaround 10.29.10: Jokes with Shaq

Posted by Royce Young
  • Shoals, writing for Deadspin, on the Heat: "It turns out that LeBron James really isn't like physics. He's more like outer space. James is the sun, and cold, dead Cleveland, his moon — appearing to shine down on us, sometimes just as brightly, or at least bright enough that you forget it's all reflected light. Every LeBron story is also a Cavs story; every Cavs story can be tied back into LeBron. I find myself in the habit of still tagging my own stories about LeBron with "cavs" — hey, maybe Gilbert and the fans were right. He really does belong to them."
  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman on Jeff Green's non-extension : "By choosing to not re-sign now, Green could potentially forfeit millions of dollars. NBA commissioner David Stern has said league owners are seeking to slash player salaries by up to $800 million in the new labor contract. The new CBA also could contain cutbacks on players' annual raises, as well as the number of years contracts can be signed for. For instance, instead of signing a five-year extension with 10.5 percent annual raises, Green could have to settle for a three- or four-year deal with 8 percent raises. Additionally, Green runs the risk of injury this season, which could destroy his value on the open market. So, too, could an unproductive season."
  • Rashad Mobley of Truth About It on Washington's first outing: "At one point in the third quarter, Andray Blatche took such a bad shot, that Marv Albert and Steve Kerr, went on a two-minute rant about how demoralizing it must be for the other Wizards, when a bad shot is taken.  By my informal (yet accurate) calculations, not one of Blatche’s nine shots came in the paint in a post up position.  Instead of playing in the post, where Coach Saunders has frequently asked him to play, Blatche was content on launching outside shots, which led to long rebounds, which led to easy Orlando baskets."
  • Eddy Rivera of MagicBasketball: "A lot of kudos should be given to Orlando for emphatically beating an inferior opponent. However, the Wizards made things too easy for the Magic by offering little resistance in terms of interior defense. According to Hoopdata, Orlando shot 18-of-21 at the rim and 10-for-15 inside 10 feet. Add to the fact that the Magic were able to get to the free-throw line a total of 32 times, and it’s easy to see why this game was barely competitive after the opening tip."
  • Orlando has quite the introduction video says Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: "The Magic's pregame introduction video is astounding. I won't insult you by saying it alone is worth the cost of admission, but it's indeed powerful. It features great moments in Magic history--Nick Anderson stealing the ball from Michael Jordan and the Magic drafting Dwight Howard, for example--as projected on downtown Orlando landmarks. I admit I'm more prone to sentimentality than most folks, but I got a bit choked up watching it. My description isn't doing the video justice."
Posted on: October 25, 2010 8:04 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:00 pm
 

Shootaround 10.25.10: Season starts tomorrow

Rejoice! The NBA season starts tomorrow. As the league's 30 teams make final cuts and set their rosters, here's a first look around the NBA at this week's happenings. Magic talks contraction, Delonte dances, Steve Nash gripes, Jeff Green stays focused, Shelden Williams and Jason Terry start, plus a whole lot more.  
Posted by Ben Golliver
  • Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson tells NaplesNews.com he would be in favor of contraction in the NBA. “How much would it hurt the league if we lost teams? It wouldn’t hurt it. It might make it better,” Johnson said. “… I think if you take away a couple teams, the talent level goes up and the league will only benefit, so I don’t see a problem with that. We just hope that we put a good product out on the court, and that’s the key.”
  • Phoenix Suns all star point guard Steve Nash tells Seth Pollack of SB Nation Arizona that he wouldn't bet on the Suns to make the playoffs in the Western Conference and that the team has chemistry question marks. "To be honest, if I was outside this picture and a betting man, I would probably pick us to be outside of the playoffs considering all the changes and the new guys."
  • Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes  that perennial sixth man of the year candidate Jason Terry will open the season starting for the Mavericks. "Terry started at shooting guard Friday in a 97-96 win over Houston in the preseason finale. Coach Rick Carlisle has kept a tight lip on who will start the opener against Charlotte. But it appears Terry has the inside track, at least until Roddy Beaubois returns from left foot surgery."
  • It's a contract year for both forward Jeff Green and guard Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, but Thunder coach Scott Brooks tells Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman that he's not worried about Green putting his own interests above the team. "Maybe because I know him,” Brooks said. "I know who he was when he came into the league, and he hasn't changed. He still works every day in practice. He still tries to get better. He still tries to make the right play. He's not forcing shots. He's not taking bad shots … He hasn't forced anything in camp. He's a pro and he likes being on this team.”
  • ESPN.com's Michael Wallace quotes LeBron James on Celtics fans in advance of tomorrow's season opener between Boston and Miami. "They bleed green; that’s all they care about,” James said. “We have to be mentally focused and mentally prepared. Some arenas believe and love basketball more than others. Sometimes, more history adds more intimidation. Not saying it’s an intimidation factor for me. It’s never been an intimidation factor for me. But as far as the crowd and as far as the team, Boston is one of those hostile environments to play.” 
  • Minnesota Timberwolves wing Martell Webster, acquired in a draft night trade from the Portland Trail Blazers, will find out if he needs surgery on an ailing back today. Jerry Zgoda of StarTribune.com quotes Webster: "It's just one of those things that starts to nag and you don't want to make it worse."
Posted on: October 22, 2010 1:48 pm
 

More on extensions for the class of 2007

Posted by Royce Young

Yeah I know. I've already gone over this. But Marc Stein of ESPN.com has some new information regarding who could be seeing a last minute contract extension before the Nov. 1 deadline.

And as was before, there may only be one player in line to join Joakim Noah and Kevin Durant with extensions and that's Al Horford. Sources maintain to Stein that a deal before the deadline remains probable, given Horford’s status as a borderline All-Star big man. Things were complicated with Joe Johnson's massive contract, but the fact Atlanta remains still on Jamal Crawford indicates they'd like to get something done with Horford.

But what about the other players? Stein says there's really nothing more than some "maybes" in that group. And that includes top pick Greg Oden. Reportedly, Oden is resigned to the fact he's not getting a deal and in fact, isn't really even asking for it. Understandable for both sides really. Oden's obviously had the health issues and both sides understand this is an important year for Oden's future not just with the Blazers, but in terms of his well-being.

How about Jeff Green, who I sort of went over already - where's he at? The Thunder have been characteristically quiet on negotiations but Stein says Green's camp and Sam Presti "aren't close" to getting anything done. However, there's been regular conversation between both sides and from I'm told, everyone is in good spirits. The Thunder are playing things carefully with Green with the new CBA coming plus Russell Westbrook's extension that's coming next summer.

Mike Conley (taken No. 4), Corey Brewer (No. 7), Rodney Stuckey (No. 15) and Aaron Brooks (No. 26) and likely looking at becoming restricted free agents as a deal probably isn't headed their way. Yi Jianlian (taken No. 6) and All Thornton (No. 14) of the Wizards have at least had negotiations but nothing appears to be coming, Stein says. However, he believes Yi may be getting an extension much like Andray Blatche's sometime soon.

Two others that are at least having discussion are Wilson Chandler (No. 23) and Jared Dudley (No. 22). Wilson's chances aren't great but Dudley, who's a quality bench player and a nice 3-point shooter, has a legitimate chance.

Overall, there's a very strong possibility only two players from 2007 will be getting extensions, with the chance of a third in Horford. And it's not like it was a bad class either. A combination of factors including injuries, team situations and the uncertainty of the new CBA have really complicated things for the class.
Posted on: October 20, 2010 2:05 pm
 

Kevin Durant hopes Jeff Green gets an extension

Posted by Royce Young

With the clock until Nov. 1 ticking down on the 2007 draft class, a big number of the 30 first round draftees are going to be playing this season without a contract extension under their belt. In fact, as it stands today, 28 out of the 30 will be.

And one of those two guys that has an extension, Kevin Durant, hopes to see his teammate become at least the third guy to get paid. As Durant told FanHouse, he's hoping the Thunder will extend teammate and close friend Jeff Green.

"I hope they do,'' Durant said in an interview with FanHouse. "I think he's worked so hard. He deserves it. He's going to do a great job of bringing it every day and not worrying about it. Hopefully, it gets done."

Green though, says he's not worrying about it. It's the right thing to say and as far as he's concerns, he'll let it play out naturally. "It'd be great if it happens,'' said Green. "But if it don't, it don't. But I just got to stay focused on what I'm trying to do this season as far as helping the team."

There's a number of reasons why the Thunder's hesitant to extend Green right now. Things like the new CBA, nobody knows Green's true value, his true position or what his role is on the Thunder - that hurts in getting him extended. People like to throw around things like "he's a great locker room guy" and "he does little things." Most see that as, "He's not that good," but they're true things. Green is a winner and a good player. Durant and the rest of the Thunder want to make sure Green is there for the long haul.

But the problem is, Durant's not the guy with the checkbook making that call. All he can do is offer up his opinion, which is what he did. But time is running out for Green. In just 11 days, Durant will have to hope the Thunder re-signs Green next summer.
Posted on: October 19, 2010 1:29 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 1:43 pm
 

Trying to explain the odd SI Thunder cover

Posted by Royce Young

When Sports Illustrated leaked its NBA preview issue cover this morning, there were two big surprises: 1) There wasn't a glimpse of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James or Chris Bosh anywhere to be seen on it and 2) it featured Kevin Durant and... Nenad Krstic and Thabo Sefolosha?

Kevin Durant, we all get. No qualms or questions there. But Krstic and Sefolosha? Where's Russell Westbrook, a player whose star is increasing by the day? Or Jeff Green, one of the de facto faces of the franchise? Or even James Harden who is a major part of the Thunder youth movement? Those guys are the obvious candidates, not a guy that's noted for his tough perimeter defense and another that became famous for throwing a chair in someone's face this summer.

But as someone that resides in Oklahoma City and that has followed the Thunder franchise pretty closely since it moved here, I think I have an explanation. Or at least a theory. The Thunder wanted the cover that way.

Obviously Sports Illustrated takes the picture, but the Thunder probably pushed having Sefolosha and Krstic in the picture with KD. Why? Because it just reinforces the philosophy of the franchise. It's not about one guy or even three guys. It's about every player, even down to the training camp invite that's probably not going to make the team.

Every team preaches that idea. But the Thunder lives by it and not just for reasons on the floor. For instance, in my travels in Oklahoma City, I can recall only one, maybe two, major Thunder advertisements featuring Durant. You'd think every single Thunder thing would have his face and his face only all over it. But there are major billboards that have Serge Ibaka and Eric Maynor together on it. There's even one with bench scrubs Byron Mullens and D.J. White. In the Thunder's practice facility, there's not any individual pictures or accomplishments to be found. There's one big banner that has a photo of the team in a huddle.

It a culture that's being built by the front office. And while it's good motivation for what happens on the court, it's also a marketing strategy off it.

The Thunder's goal is to not be Oklahoma City's professional sports franchise and something that's entertainment for residents. They aim to be part of the community. I'm not talking about just making school appearances and stuff. I'm talking about like being the local YMCA. These are professional athletes, these are citizens of your city.

One of the reasons they market the team and not individuals is because of long-term planning. Just in the same way Sam Presti has built the Thunder roster through patience and planning, the organization wants to build the fanbase the same way. For an eight-year-old, Kevin Durant won't be here in 15 years when he's thinking about buying season tickets. The Thunder wants to build a brand that appeals to that eight-year-old now and not just market a cool player to look up to. Because players come and go. The organization doesn't. (Well, shouldn't. Don't throw things at me Seattle readers.)

The organization wants to make it cool to be a Thunder fan, not just a Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook fan. Obviously the players are a major part of it, but little things like putting two role playing non-stars on the cover of a major magazine is just something that's not surprising with this organization. It all starts with the stars, but they're not anymore important than the last player on the bench.

It's about brand management for the long haul. Kind of the opposite of what the Heat are doing now. The Heat introduced their new Big 3 together at a huge party, as if they're the only three players on the team. But what happens when their contracts are up and they move on? The Heat are building a brand based off three players, not off the entire Miami Heat team. It's a different approach and one that works for a major market, but for a small community driven market like Oklahoma City, it's always team first, individuals, well, never. 

It helps that the Thunder's star is as bought in to the team concept as the organization. Reportedly, Durant was going to be on the cover by himself but demanded he have a couple teammates on there with them. Maybe he specifically asked for Thabo and Nenad. Maybe that's all that was available. Or maybe the team sent them. Who knows. But this team concept thing helps when the guy that would be getting all the attention defers to the same philosophy as the franchise.

There's a line in an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry is talking to George and mentions how silly professional sports kind of are, mentioning that really, we're just rooting for laundry. And it's like the Thunder had made that its mantra. They want their fans to root for the laundry, not the guys wearing it.
Posted on: October 18, 2010 5:06 pm
 

The 2007 class, the new CBA and extensions

Posted by Royce Young

There are two weeks until Nov. 1. That day doesn't mean much to most, unless it's your birthday or your anniversary (you're welcome for the reminder). But for the draft class of 2007, it's an important day. A very important day. And one that looks like it will come and go without much fanfare.

As of today, Oct. 18, only two players from the class of 2007 have received a contract extension. Kevin Durant who was given a max deal over the summer and Joakim Noah who Chicago inked to a pretty hefty contract. Other than that, no one else. The No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden? Doesn't look like he's getting paid. Other top 10 picks like Mike Conley, Jeff Green, Yi Jianlian, Brandan Wright and Corey Brewer? They probably aren't going to have anything done. Only Al Horford, who is likely to get extended by Atlanta, has a shot of doing something before Nov. 1, though David Aldridge of NBA.com says it's "50-50" at this point.

(If nothing is done by Nov. 1, then the remaining un-extended players become restricted free agents for next summer. Just in case that wasn't clear up front.)

Other than Oden who the Blazers aren't extending for obvious reasons, probably the two most interesting cases are Jeff Green of the Thunder and Aaron Brooks of the Rockets.

As for Green, Aldridge thinks that the book might not be closed on an extension for the player Thunder fans call "Uncle Jeff". In his Morning Tip column, Aldridge says, "Green could certainly argue he deserves a new deal after averaging 15.1 points and six rebounds a game last season for the emerging Thunder. And Green's agent, David Falk, has a way of persuading teams to see things his client's way, so Green's status may change by the deadline. Oklahoma City's plan has been to keep its powder dry until its young core group came on line for new deals."

The problem for Green though is his teammate. No not, that Kevin Durant guy. It's his other soon-to-be-a-star teammate, Russell Westbrook. Next summer, Westbrook is eligible for his contract extension. And much like the way the Thunder treated Durant by showing up at his door at midnight, Westbrook will likely be inked on the spot. That complicates things for Green.

Nobody really knows his true market value quite yet, just like nobody really knows exactly where he should be playing. Is he a $10 million per year player? More? Less? It's hard to say at this point. And that might be why the Thunder's likely willing to let him walk into restricted free agency. This season is big in determining that value. It's a risk for the Thunder though. There are a lot of dumb general managers out there and one is likely willing to overpay Green because he's a pretty good player playing third or maybe even fourth fiddle on a good team. Someone could very easily put $11 or $12 million a year under Green's nose.

If Green wants a lot of money, then Oklahoma City might not be able to pay him. As of now, both GM Sam Presti and Green are saying the right things. Green says he's not worried about it and that's why he has representation. He said at media day that he'll let it happen when it does. And Presti said he's had "positive discussions" with Green, but won't say anything other than that.

As for Brooks, it's already been made clear he's not likely getting extended. As the reigning Most Improved Player and a guy that's potentially a star caliber talent, he's a little miffed over it. But GM Daryl Morey doesn't want to extend Brooks for a lot of the same reasons Presti doesn't want to lock in Green. It's not to say either GM doesn't want to keep their guys, it's just that they don't want to overpay without knowing completely what they have. Plus, the looming CBA negotiations are hanging overhead and it makes it tough to just hang a big multi-year extension in front of anyone and everyone. It's fiscal responsibility, but at the same time, risky behavior because you may have to pay more to keep your man next summer. Interesting dynamic there.

With this class looking at two and probably three extensions, a small trend is developing. The 2006 class had six extensions (Andrea Bargnani, Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Thabo Sefolosha, Renaldo Balkman, Rajon Rondo). The 2005 group had eight (Andrew Bogut, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Andrew Bynum, Danny Granger, Jason Maxiell, Francisco Garcia and Martell Webster). 2004 had six (Dwight Howard, Devin Harris, Al Jefferson, Kris Humphries, Jameer Nelson and Kevin Martin, but the all-time great class of 2003 had 15 (LeBron, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, etc.). Either the talent has dropped a bit or GMs are just a little tighter with those extensions. It's probably a combination of both. And of course, that darn CBA.

(As an example though, out of that 2006 class, some players that got restricted free agent contracts but not extensions: Rudy Gay, Luis Scola, Ronnie Brewer and Tyrus Thomas. So just because someone isn't extended that doesn't mean they won't get paid big and/or stay with their current club.)

But then again, would you extend Thaddeus Young, Yi, Rodney Stuckey, Jared Dudley, Spencer Hawes, Rudy Fernandez, Al Thornton or Nick Young? (Interestingly, Ernie Grunfeld has the opportunity to do so on like half the 2007 class.) It's not exactly a group that screams multi-year, multi-million dollar contract.

Though it appears we may be in a new climate for contract extensions and it's something the 2008 class (Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, Westbrook, O.J. Mayo, Kevin Love, etc.) will likely have an eye on. The new CBA will determine a lot of these players' future. So Nov. 1 will probably just have to come and go while they wait to see what happens next summer.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com