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Tag:San Antonio Spurs
Posted on: September 5, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

Posted by Royce Young



Conference realignment has sort of taken over the world the past few weeks. Texas A&M pretty much put the nail in the coffin for the Big 12 by bolting for the SEC and because of it, a whole new chain of events have tipped over. The landscape of college football could look a whole lot different in a few months. Or in a few weeks. Or even tomorrow.

But you know what else could use a little realigning? The NBA's divisions. They're kind of a mess. It's not going to be as a result of some $300 million network, recruiting ties or competitive advantages. Nope. For the NBA, it's more just about common sense. Geographically, the divisions are kind of a mess. In 2011 that's not as huge a deal as it was in 1981 because travel is much easier. You can go from Portland to Oklahoma City in just a few hours.

However, chartered travel is experience. Fuel is very pricey. And with the NBA and teams supposedly losing so much money, why not exhaust every option to cut costs and realign the divisions so they make a lot more sense? Why not group teams together that are hundreds, not thousands, of miles apart?

Plus, it just makes a lot more sense to have structured regions. Grouping teams together based on geography does more to forge rivalries, gives fans a chance to commute between games if the want to and gives the players less travel and more days of rest. All good, right?

So if you're going to spend all this time restructuring a new collective bargaining agreement, why not fix the divisions too? Here's how they should look:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

SOUTHWEST
Dallas
San Antonio
Houston
Phoenix
Oklahoma City

The NBA's new Southwest division is the American League East, the SEC West, of the league. It's a group of five teams that are all pretty good. Things change though and in 15 years, this could be the weakest division in the league. But for now, it'd be pretty good.

And it just makes sense. Dallas and Oklahoma City are about three hours via car away from each other. San Antonio, Dallas and Houston are in the same state. And OKC and the Texas teams and Phoenix just have one state separating them, which is a whole lot better than five.

MIDWEST
Memphis
Minnesota
Denver
Utah
Milwaukee

Clearly the division that needed the biggest overhaul is the Northwest, mainly because of the Sonics transformation into the Oklahoma City Thunder. When the team was in Seattle, the division made a lot more sense. Now it doesn't. That's why a midwestern division with makes a lot more sense.

That creates somewhat of a problem in the Northwest though. There's not a great fit. So for the sake of the argument, the Northwest has to make the Big 12 and peace out. No more Northwest, but instead the new Midwest.

The new Midwest is still a bit spread out, but all the teams are at least located somewhat centrally in the country. A trip from Utah to Milwaukee won't be quick, but the Jazz, Nuggets and Timerwolves have been oddballs in the Northwest. It's not an ideal division with teams right next door to each other, but it makes a lot more sense than the current setup.

PACIFIC
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers
Sacramento
Golden State
Portland

Moving Phoenix away from the Lakers is a bummer, because those two teams are historical rivals that have always competed in the same division. But if A&M and Texas can separate, I think we can live with the Suns and Lakers moving apart.

The Pacific now features five teams that are actually next to the Pacific Ocean, which seems like it should count for something. Plus having the Blazers and Lakers together makes up for separating the Suns and Lakers.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

CENTRAL
Chicago
Detroit
Indiana
Cleveland
Toronto

Really, the new Central was the inspiration for this. Why aren't the Raptors in this division? Look at how close those teams are to each other. I think you could almost ride your bike between arenas. The old Central was really good too -- maybe better -- but the Bucks have to move. So it's the Raptors who replace them and the solid geographic setup remains.

ATLANTIC
Boston
New York
Philadelphia
Washington
New Jersey

Nothing too radical here. Five cities that you can transport between using a train. Old rivalries are preserved and the Wizards are added, which frankly, makes a lot of sense.

SOUTHEAST
Miami
Orlando
Atlanta
Charlotte
New Orleans

Two teams would swap conferences with the Bucks moving back to the West and the Hornets heading to the East. Not that this would upset the competitive balance of the league or anything, but it just makes a lot more sense for the Hornets to be placed in a division with Orlando, Charlotte, Atlanta and Miami.

And let me add this: If college football has no issue tossing tradition and historical rivalries out the window, why not just eliminate conferences all together? It would be a radical move, but what's the point of the East and West, other than just that's the structure of the playoffs? If it were one unified "super" conference, that would finally solve the issues of a 50-win Western team missing the postseason while a 37-win Eastern team slips into the eight-seed.

You could even just build the league into three 10-team divisions. Combine the Southwest and the Pacific, the Midwest and the Central, and the Atlantic and the Southeast. There are your super-divisions. Now you can keep teams playing more in their division than anything else and cut down on long road trips. It would make a West coast road trip for the Mavericks a whole heck of a lot more interesting.

Basically, we'd be looking at a league with three sub-conferences and once the playoffs started, seeding would just be based from that. Almost like the NCAA tournament, you could set two regions and seed from there. Head-to-head tiebreakers, division records and all that stuff would separate any identical records. Just an idea while we're brainstorming, you know?

(Note: I don't really love that idea, quite honestly. But I was just throwing it out there. One of those things that probably makes sense, but wouldn't ever happen. Much like Bill Simmons' terrific "Entertaining As Hell Tournament." Really, a unified conference makes it easier to implicate the tournament too.)

Let's face it: The West has kind of sort of dominated the past decade. Sports operate in cycles, but if there's a way to prevent that, should we? The West compiled a record of 2,257-1,643 against the East from 1999-2008 and over the last 13 seasons has represented 10 champions. That's pretty dominant. That'll change eventually, but what really is the point of the conferences, other than the standard, "that's just the way it's always been done" answer? 

All that is after the fact though: Divisional realignment is the start. Fixing the structure of the postseason would be the ideal next step. It's kind of like a plus-one for college football. Maybe a pipe dream, but something that's really in the best interest of the game. But if anything's to be done, it's to realign the divisions so they at least make a little more sense. Preserve rivalires, start new ones, save money, cut down on travel and hopefully, help the league grow a little bit more.

Picture via Jockpost
Posted on: September 3, 2011 5:45 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 5:49 pm
 

Report: Blazers begin GM interviews

Posted by Ben Golliverlarry-miller

It has been more than 100 days since the Portland Trail Blazers fired general manager Rich Cho in the weeks leading up to the 2011 NBA Draft. And, finally, it appears the Blazers are moving towards finding a full-time GM.

Yahoo Sports reports that Blazers president Larry Miller has begun assembling a list of candidates and interviewing them.
The Portland Trail Blazers have started the interview process for their vacant general manager’s job, meeting with Oklahoma City Thunder executive Troy Weaver in Portland on Thursday, NBA front-office sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Portland has also received permission to interview Spurs assistant GM Dennis Lindsey, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Lindsey has spoken to Blazers officials by phone, but no formal face-to-face has yet been scheduled, a source said.

Blazers president Larry Miller has expressed a strong interest in former Golden State Warriors GM Chris Mullin, sources said. Mullin’s expected to talk with the Blazers too, sources said.

Cho's firing came less than one year after he was hired to replace former GM Kevin Pritchard and saw Portland's director of college scouting, Chad Buchanan, installed as the team's Acting GM. In August, Portland made the decision that Buchanan would not be given the job permanently, but the organization has dragged its feet during the process because of the ongoing lockout.

Cho has been hired by the Charlotte Bobcats to serve as GM while Pritchard was picked up by the Indiana Pacers to serve as the team's director of player personnel.

The Blazers still have Cho's hand-picked assistant GMs under contract -- Bill Branch and Steve Rosenberry -- and also retain Buchanan and director of pro scouting Mike Born in their basketball operations department, who report to Miller who in turn reports to owner Paul Allen. The staff's glaring weakness is a lack of salary cap and collective bargaining agreement expertise, as Cho filled those roles and the team's previous cap expert, vice president of basketball operations Tom Penn, was abruptly fired in 2010 and now works as a television analyst.

Candidates will likely approach the Portland job warily given Allen's erratic behavior recently. The roster is a mixed bag, with a potential perennial All-Star in LaMarcus Aldridge but also a burdensome contract in Brandon Roy and a giant enigman named Greg Oden. The team has qualified for the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, though, and has a solid coach in Nate McMillan locked into a multi-year extension. Internal expectations are always sky-high thanks to the demanding Allen, but he has shown a financial commitment to winning in recent years, giving a contract extension to center Marcus Camby, trading for Gerald Wallace and the remaining dollars on his contract, extending a qualifying offer to Greg Oden and bestowing lucrative extensions on both Aldridge and Roy.

Pointing Allen's pocketbook in the right direction -- while staying on his good side -- will be the name of this game.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 9:11 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 4:20 pm
 

DeJuan Blair signs with Krasnye Krylya of Russia

Posted by Ben Golliverdejuan-blair

Update (Friday, 4:15 pm): Yahoo! Sports and HoopsWorld.com report that Blair has signed a one-year contract with Krasnye Krylya in Russia that includes an NBA opt-out clause. The deal will reportedly pay him roughly $90,000 per month.

Original Post: They say winter in Russia is tough, but it can't be too tough for a guy who plays in the NBA without ACLs.

Yahoo Sports reports that San Antonio Spurs forward DeJuan Blair, he of the uniquely reconstructed knees, could be headed to the eastern front.
Spurs forward DeJuan Blair is engaged in serious talks to play in Russia during NBA lockout, sources tell Y! Deal could be struck this week.
Should a deal get reached, Blair would be one of the bigger names to head overseas to play during the lockout. A key member of San Antonio's frontcourt rotation, Blair started more than half of the team's games last year and averaged 8.3 points and 7.0 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game.

A high-energy, undersized rebounding specialist, Blair will only continue to see his role increase as franchise cornerstone Tim Duncan approaches retirement and the Spurs look to fill out their thin frontcourt rotation with some new names.

Blair entered the NBA two years ago with perhaps the biggest injury red flag of any draft prospect in recent memory. The condition of his knees hasn't kept him off the NBA court yet, as he's only missed one game in his two seasons combined.

Selected in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft, Blair signed a unique four-year contract that will pay him less than $1 million in 2011-2012 and barely over $1 million in 2012-2013. Amazingly, those numbers aren't even fully guaranteed either.

To top it off, Blair is just 22 years old, so when you combine his age, durability and the lack of future guaranteed money at stake, a trip overseas comes with relatively little risk. It makes more sense than not for Blair to ply his trade overseas.
Posted on: August 27, 2011 10:16 am
 

Legend vs. Star: George Gervin vs. Kevin Durant

Posted by Royce Young



We live in an immediate society. The internet, social media, the ever-accelerating news cycle, everything means that the next 30 seconds is 10 times more important than the last 30 seconds regardless of what actually happened in the past 30 seconds. As a result, we lose perspective on what stands truly relevant from the past. The NBA is no exception. So in an attempt to merge the two worlds (since, as a blog, we love/hate/want to be BFFs within the next 30 seconds), we'll be bringing you a look at players past and present, in relation to one another. 

Previously: Isiah Thomas vs. Chris Paul | Larry Bird vs. Dirk Nowitzki | Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant | Dwight Howard vs. Moses Malone | Magic Johnson vs. LeBron James

Next up: George Gervin vs. Kevin Durant

Finding a historical parallel for Kevin Durant is sort of challenging. There's just no an obvious fit. Sure, there have been countless pure scorers throughout NBA history that effortlessly drop 30 points a night as if they're doing something routine like taking out the garbage.

That's not what I mean.

But finding that similar fit in terms of frame, style, demeanor and everything else that we've tried to do in this series, has been tough. There's isn't a really natural fit. Bernard King? He was as gifted a scoring machine as there ever was, but I'm not sure he actually has "legend" status. John Havlicek? Elgin Baylor? Both are certifiable legends and both were scoring savants but each were just 6-5 while Durant stands darn near seven feet tall. Julius Erving? Different players entirely. Dr. J was the slash king but couldn't make anything outside of 15 feet. That's not Durant.

There is one mirroring image of Durant, but for the first time in this series, it's a player that he probably doesn't want to be. A player who while a no-doubt Hall of Famer, someone that Durant should try and push past: the Iceman, George Gervin.

Obviously no disrespect intended to Gervin, because we're talking about an all-time NBA great, but he's not exactly Bird, Magic, Moses, or MJ here. He never won a title and some even questioned which type of title he was even playing for -- scoring or an NBA championship. He's an all-timer, but it's questionable whether or not he qualifies for "legend" status.

But still, his resume is sparkling. Gervin finished with 26,595 points (including the ABA, which would put him 12th all-time), won four scoring titles (including three straight -- Durant just put away his second consecutive), was a nine-time NBA All-Star (three-time ABA All-Star) and made five first-team All-NBAs.

I hope you get my point here. George Gervin absolutely is an all-time NBA great. He's got the numbers, the highlights, the status, the Hall of Fame-ness -- his resume is pretty much complete. It's just missing that final piece that would catapult him from a top 50 player into an easy top 20 guy. Sometimes judging players by only championships isn't fair, but in Gervin's is kind of is.



But he fits as Durant's historical parallel. At least better than pretty much anyone else. Mainly because he serves as sort of the Ghost of Ring-less Future for Durant. And also, because they're pretty darn similar in game, style and ability.

When Durant was coming into the league, everyone was drawn to this comparison because of the similar body styles, scoring ability, personality and all that stuff. It's probably not a coincidence that some have nickname Durant "Baby Ice." Gervin was the original lanky, long, lean scoring machine that could put up a 40 spot by the end of the third quarter and you'd say, "Hey, did you know Gervin's got 40?" Scoring within the flow makes you a silent killer, which is the Durant way. But originally, it was the Gervin way.

Check Gervin's four best seasons. He averaged 33.1 points a game on 52.8 percent shooting in 1979-80, 29.6 ppg on 54.1 percent in 1978-79 (with no 3-point line) and 32.3 ppg on 50.0 percent shooting in 1981-82. Compare that to Durant's last three seasons: 25.3 ppg on 47.6 percent, 30.1 on 47.6 percent and 27.7 on 46.2 percent. The main difference in those seasons between Durant and Gervin though? Durant averaged those taking 20 or fewer shots a game. In Gervin's '81-82 season, he took more than 25. Main reason: Gervin didn't have the same silky outside touch Durant does and the most free throw attempts a game he averaged in a season was 8.3 (Durant got to the line 10.2 times a game in 2009-10).

It's easy to see Gervin in Durant. The easy-going, calm personality. The lanky frame. The other-worldly scoring abilities. Of anyone, it's the most natural comparison. But like I said, if Durant were to finish his career like Gervin, he'd be disappointed. All the points and all the All-Star teams would be nice, but Durant isn't playing for scoring titles. He's playing for real titles.

Consider this quote from Gervin in 1980, via Bill Simmons' The Book of Basketball: "I'm perfectly happy being known as George Gervin, scoring machine, because in this game the person who puts the ball in the hole is the person that usually gets ahead." Can you EVER imagine Durant saying something like that?

Not to say Durant doesn't have a chance to put up historically scary numbers. Before his 23rd birthday he's already scored 8,128 points. If he plays to his 35th birthday (that's 16 NBA seasons), he's on pace for around 32,500 points. That would put him third all-time, ahead of Michael Jordan. Wow. Even sans a title, it'd be hard to ignore that.

And already Durant is stockpiling those pantheon moments that place him in our memory banks as a great. That Game 5 takeover against Denver in the first round last year? Legendary stuff. How many moments like that can you think of off the top of your head for Gervin? Durant seems to have that alpha mentality, that takeover killer instinct that can lift his team to a higher place. Gervin didn't have it. He just scored.



Here's the thing though: Durant may seem like he's on a path to all-time greatness right now, but there's nothing preventing his career from going to same path of Gervin's. (I feel like I have to point out once again that that's not really a bad thing at all, but you get what I mean. Durant wants to be a legend. Not just a top 50 all-time player.) There are a ton of factors that can derail otherwise destined careers. Injury, bad front offices, bad luck, etc.

Winning a championship is hard. Durant's definitely on a crash course it seems now, but getting over that hump is a major challenge. Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton -- never won titles. And in a lot of ways, their careers are defined by that. If Durant were to go 15 years, win 10 scoring titles while piling up something like 28,000 points, he'd be a top 30 all-time player, but he'd basically just be a slightly improved Gervin. There's really no way around it.

Recall Tracy McGrady when he was torching the league as maybe the most offensively gifted player anyone had ever seen. Already Durant has nearly accomplished as much as McGrady -- and more in some ways as KD has won two playoff series while McGrady hasn't won any -- with a whole lot of career to go. But Durant will certainly be one of those players defined by championships. It's going to happen. Because history doesn't always seem to appreciate pure scorers like Gervin. We all sit back, fold our arms and say, "Yeah he won a bunch of scoring titles, but what good did that do him?" Not only did Gervin never win a title, but he never played for one either. If Durant's career walks down that same path, one day we'll be using him as a cautionary tale to the next young great scoring savant.

But lucky for Durant, he's just 22. Still a lot of time to write his own story yet.
Posted on: August 23, 2011 11:34 am
Edited on: August 23, 2011 10:54 pm
 

Derek Anderson denies funding cocaine ring

Posted by Ben Golliverderek-anderson

Former NBA player Derek Anderson is having his name spoken to police by just about the last person in the world with whom you would want to be associated.

Wave3.com reports that Francois Cunningham, a Kentucky man who admitted to police that he was involved in purchases of kilograms of cocaine and that he caused the deaths of two people by allegedly throwing a molotov cocktail into their vehicle, is providing additional information into murders committed by his associates and the workings of the drug organization he was involved in as part of a "deal for early release."

In a taped interview with a police detective, Cunningham stated that former NBA player Derek Anderson bankrolled the drug operation. 

Butler: "Was Derek Anderson ever present when you all bought narcotics?" 

Cunningham: "Nah, he stays away from you know, he's just the money and he's not going to get around any of it but, that's who funnels the money."

The site notes that Anderson has not been charged with a crime in the case and that the police currently do not have any corroborating evidence.

Without question, Cunningham's claims should be treated with a certain degree of skepticism, as Courier-Journal.com reports that he had his charges reduced from murder to second-degree manslaughter in exchange for his cooperation.

Anderson denied "being involved in any illegal activity" through an attorney in a statement to Courier-Journal.com on Tuesday evening. The attorney further stated that Anderson would not make any additional comment himself.

NBA LEGAL TROUBLE

A Kentucky native, Anderson won an NCAA title while at the University of Kentucky in 1996 and was selected in the 1997 NBA Draft Lottery by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Anderson played 11 seasons in the NBA, playing for the Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat and Charlotte Bobcats. He won an NBA title with the Heat in 2006.

Anderson, now 37, averaged 12.0 points, 3.4 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 steal in 29.2 minutes per game during his NBA career. He retired after the 2007-2008 season and Basketball-Reference.com reports that Anderson's career earnings topped $58 million. 

Anderson's former teammate with the Portland Trail Blazers, Zach Randolph, has been at the center of a legal investigation this week as well, as a drug dealer in Portland, Or., told police that he was assaulted at Randolph's home while he was trying to sell marijuana.

Hat tip: Kentucky Sports Radio
Posted on: August 17, 2011 5:26 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 10:57 pm
 

The EOB Elite 100, 21-30: Celtics trio

Posted by Ben Golliver

Rankings by EOB Staff.

rondo-pierce-garnett

This is the seventh segment of the CBSSports.com Eye on Basketball Elite 100, counting down the top-100 players in the NBA. 

Check out the earlier installments: 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31

Asking Boston Celtics fans and observers to rank the team's players top-to-bottom is a bit like asking a mother to rank her children. With Rajon Rondo ascending and the Big 3 maintaining, simply ranking the team's four All-Stars is a task in and of itself. That job takes on an added degree of difficulty when they face off against their competition around the league.

Three Celtics All-Stars -- Rondo and forwards Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce -- made our top-30, but none made our top-20, a decision that speaks to the team's balance at the top but also the role that age has played in recent years. Once a perennial top-10 selection, Garnett has slipped a notch, although he still leads the way for the Celtics on this list. 

Without further ado, let's dig in.

30. Andre Iguodala, F, age 27, Philadelphia 76ers

2011 Stats: 14.1 points, 6.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 44.5 FG%, 17.30 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 27, 36, 36

After playing all but six games in his first six NBA seasons, injuries marred Iguodala’s 2010-2011 campaign, keeping him out of 15 games and limiting his minutes per game to the fewest he’s played since his rookie year. As a result, his numbers took a predictable hit pretty much across the board.  Iguodala’s reputation as a two-way player is well-earned; his size, strength, quickness and instincts are an exceedingly rare combination.

Persistent trade rumors swirled throughout the season, too, owing to Iguodala’s long-term, eight figure per year contract and his tweener franchise guy status: he’s paid to be “the man” but not quite transformative enough to pull it off. Until he is moved to a contender with an established top dog, Iguodala will continue to impress outsiders and let down those who expect him to deliver a team to playoff success.

29. Joakim Noah, C, age 26, Chicago Bulls

2011 Stats: 11.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1.0 steals, 52.5 FG%, 18.83 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 33, 32, 30

Perhaps Noah gets a friendly bump up in these rankings by virtue of playing in the vicinity of the Derrick Rose superstar glow, but he has done plenty to carve out a strong reputation for himself. It starts with doing the things most NBA players don’t like to do: crash the boards relentlessly on both ends, cover ground (while talking) on defense, hit the floor for loose balls, make the extra big-to-big pass and exercise restraint when it comes to shot selection.

Given his age, Noah should be a perennial double-double guy for the next 3-5 seasons. That, plus more than a block and a steal per game and 50+ percent shooting is excellent production from the center position.  

28. Tony Parker, G, age 29, San Antonio Spurs

2011 Stats: 17.5 points, 6.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 51.9 FG%, 20.44 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 26, 31, 30

San Antonio’s early playoff exit might have caused you to forget that the Spurs were the league’s second most efficient offense during the regular season. Parker’s well-rounded game – basketball intelligence, shooting, decision-making, pick-and-roll skills, drive-and-kick skills, open court skills – served as the engine in that machine. The elite newer-age point guards boast size/strength combinations that Parker can’t match, but he currently inhabits a pleasant nexus between “savvy veteran” and “not yet tailing off physically”, so he gives as good as he gets against just about anyone at his position.

The Spurs will never be able to replace Tim Duncan, but they were wise to ride with Parker into the foreseeable future.

27. Paul Pierce, F, age 33, Boston Celtics

2011 Stats: 18.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 49.7 FG%, 19.76 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 38, 23, 22

The passing of the Eastern Conference torch from Boston to Miami went down in particularly cruel fashion, with Heat forward LeBron James unleashing a whirlwind to usher the Celtics into the past. Not being athletic enough to keep up with Miami is no real sin, though, as that label applies to 99 percent of the league. Pierce is slower, more ground-bound, less decisive and less explosive than James, but he’s still an elite producer at his position, upping his numbers in most categories last season. He can score in a variety of ways, shoots with range, gets to the line and cashes in his free throw opportunities, and is a hard-working defender.

With three years left on his contract, it’s certainly possible the Captain becomes a burden on the books. For now, he’s steady and solid as always, the same All-Star with the track record for winning, even if his team has finally been overtaken.

26. Nene Hilario, C, age 28, Denver Nuggets

2011 Stats: 14.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.1 steals, 61.5%, 20.49 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 27, 29, 23

Arguably the biggest prize in this year’s free agent crop, Nene has gotten overlooked to a degree in a crowded Denver frontcourt that always took a backseat to whatever Carmelo Anthony was doing. Now that Anthony is in the Big Apple, Nene’s uber-efficient scoring around the rim, high-energy play and overall athleticism look even better, especially if one considers what will be left of the Nuggets should he decide to find a new home.

25. Andrew Bynum, C, age 23, Los Angeles Lakers

2011 Stats: 11.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.4 assists, 57.4 FG%, 21.14 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 28, 22, 28

Nobody in the NBA causes more people to slap their foreheads than Bynum: he’s yet to approach his potential on the court, has a lengthy injury history and has repeatedly resorted to some of the dirtiest play seen anywhere in the modern NBA. For all his faults and immaturity, he has shown the ability to be the best center in the NBA not named Dwight Howard by simply overpowering defenders and playing over the top of them, finishing at the rim with an emphatic dunk or a soft touch. He doesn’t have ideal mobility but he is still a legit paint presence defensively, even able to control games at times. The progress he’s made in expanding his offensive repertoire gives hope for the future, as does his expressed desire to carry more of the load.

Bynum will likely see his ceiling stunted a bit by the final chapter of Kobe Bryant’s career, but that shouldn’t prevent him from being a perennial All-Star and top-10 player eventually. Only the injuries offer a legitimate roadblock to greatness.

24. Al Horford, C, age 25, Atlanta Hawks

2011 Stats: 15.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 blocks, .8 steals, 55.7%, 20.79 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 24, 24, 29

Horford is an interesting contrast with Bynum, in that he seems to have figured life out and come to terms with what he will be as an NBA player. An excellent defender whose offensive production doesn’t get enough run, Horford should be the centerpiece for the Hawks for years to come. He’s managed to improve his scoring numbers during all four seasons in the NBA while keeping his rebounding numbers near the magical double-digit mark. Horford is smart, consistent, has a winning mindset and provides zero distractions off the court. He can pass too.

At 25, he’s probably getting pretty close to his peak productivity and isn’t – and may never be -- a game-changing No. 1 option on offense.  Still, he provides stability and plenty to work around even if he is never able to carry the team out of the massive shadow cast by Joe Johnson’s contract.

23. Chris Bosh, F, age 27, Miami Heat

2011 Stats: 18.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 49.6 FG%, 19.44 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 19, 25, 28

The planet Earth sure learned a lot about Bosh this season. Indeed, he probably faced a greater increase in scrutiny than any other NBA player, when he bounced out of Toronto to team up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in South Beach. Bosh’s game is predicated on outside/inside offensive versatility. He is equally able to knock down a jumper, get to the free throw line, finish a play above the rim and create a bit off the bounce. He’s more sinewy than beefy and that’s earned him plenty of criticism because he doesn’t hold the paint on defense and lacks a true nose for rebounding and dirty work.

Bosh wore goofy outfits, was rightfully cast as a third wheel, got tattooed, got married, and broke down crying in his first year with the Heat. Who knows what the sequel holds?

22. Rajon Rondo, G, age 25, Boston Celtics

2011 Stats: 10.6 points, 11.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 47.5 FG%, 17.11 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 19, 21, 25

Rondo may very well be the most magical point guard since Magic Johnson, his knack for fitting passes into tight spaces is uncanny and his vision is peerless. At his best, he conducts games rather than simply playing in them, weaving together his teammates in such a way that open shots result. His eye-popping wingspan is matched only by his gambler’s instinct, making Rondo an excellent on-ball and off-ball defender. Of course there’s the whole business about his shooting, which remains troublesome and limiting, but he compensates with a warrior’s spirit and a full understanding of his own limitations. He is the future.

21. Kevin Garnett, F, age 35, Boston Celtics

2011 Stats: 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks, 52.8 FG%, 20.67

Composite rankings (random order): 23, 21, 21

Over the past two years, a crop of younger power forwards have surpassed Garnett, whose prep-to-pros jump and heavy minutes as a franchise guy earlier in his career have taken their toll. His body doesn’t allow 82 nights of top-shelf performance a season -- it would be next to impossible to manage that at 35 -- but he’s still the most feared and hated player in the NBA. His length and understanding of positioning create endless problems for his opponents and his basketball intelligence and leadership making the game easier for his teammates. His trusty jumper has kept him an offensive force and he can be paired with all sorts of lineups – big and small – thanks to his face-up game, passing skills and mobility. While Garnett is no longer a player capable of carrying a team to a title, he’s still the last guy you want to play against.

Posted on: August 16, 2011 8:26 pm
 

Tony Parker: I'll play for myself during lockout

Posted by Ben Gollivertony-parker

If San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker wants to negotiate a contract so that he can play professionally during the ongoing NBA lockout, all he needs to do is look in the mirror.

ESPN.com reports that Parker, who is a part owner of the French team ASVEL, says he will turn down other offers and play for his own club if he does decide to compete professionally during the lockout.  
"My agent talked about China a little bit," Parker said after totaling 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists in France's 82-60 victory. "But for me I just want to focus on the national team, that's most important for me. I'm not going to take any decision until the end of September, after the European Championships. I want to see if I'm healthy, if I'm hurt and by then we will also know a lot more what is happening with the situation of the lockout. 

"If I play (abroad), I will definitely play in France, for my fans, for my team, ASVEL." 

ASVEL, situated in the Lyon suburb of Villeurbanne, is a perennial French League power for which Parker serves as a part owner and vice president of basketball operations.
Parker, 29, averaged 17.5 points and 6.6 assists for the Spurs last season, who moved fellow guard George Hill in a draft-day trade with the Indiana Pacers. In other words, he'll be needed to play big minutes and expected to make big contributions next season. Meanwhile, he's on the Spurs' books for eight figures a year through 2014-2015. All things considered, taking it easy during the lockout wouldn't be the worst idea. 

In any case, we've heard hundreds of players lay out their thought process for what to do if part of the 2011-2012 NBA season is lost to a work stoppage, but nobody comes close to Parker in terms of sheer coolness. Why bother with haggling with teams in Turkey, China or Brazil when all he needs to do is make himself an offer that he can't refuse?
Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:08 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 1:17 pm
 

Manu Ginobili says he'll retire in two years

Posted by Royce Young

Hey Spurs, listen up. Here's a good reason to make sure this lockout doesn't wipe out an entire season: Because Manu Ginobili, who has two years left on his contract, said he'll probably retire after those two seasons.

So lose this year and you miss out on 50 percent of what you might have left with Manu. At least that's what he told an Argentinian website:
“The truth is that I have set the date of my retirement, but I have two years left on this contract in San Antonio, and I will reach age 36. I think it may be an appropriate age to stop playing,” Ginobili stated. “I never had the desire to play in the country and retire at home. I always thought about retiring at the highest level.”
The reason that last part is important is because there was some speculation that Ginobili, 34, would finish his NBA contract and then close his career in Europe or maybe his native Argentina. But, obviously, he's not too keen on that idea.

There's been a lot of talk about the Spurs' window closing. Talk that originated from Tony Parker, really. But it's true. The Spurs don't have a lot of time left to win with the current core. By the sounds of it, it might just be two years. Or one, depending on how things shake out.

The NBA without Manu. Tough to imagine. Don't make me miss out on one of those years. That'll be tough to forgive, NBA.

Via Project Spurs
 
 
 
 
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