Tag:Free Agency
Posted on: November 17, 2011 8:19 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 12:58 am

The (second) greatest free-agency class ever

By EOB Staff

Want to know how ridiculous the summer of 2010 was? If/when the 2011-2012 season is canceled, then whenever the lockout is settled, you'll have two years of free agents crammed into one signing period. You could have five likely Hall-of-Famers in it. You'd have mega-stars, great role players, talent coming out the seams at every position... and it still wouldn't be as good as the 2010 summer of free agency because of the top five guys that year. That's a bit insane. 

But as Ken Berger breaks down the potential effects on the top market of guys in what would be an insane class, we need to look at what exactly this class would look like, and how it would break down. With that, we give you the 2011 and 2012 combined free agency rankings, broken down by position, just so you can dream about who your team would angle to fill what position.

Point Guard

1. Derrick Rose (RFA)
The only way Derrick Rose is not a Chicago Bull for the next 10 years is if the NBA gives up on trying to reach a deal with the current players and uses scabs forever. The 2011 MVP is the perfect building block asset and the Bulls will have every ability to retain him with a mini-max contract once his rookie deal is complete. One of the greatest shames of the lockout is that the only basketball we've seen Rose play over the last six months came inside a bullring during an adidas commercial.

2. Deron Williams (ETO)
The Besiktas baller represents the wildest wild card in free agency. Williams took a fearless, proactive approach to the lockout, heading to Turkey almost immediately and, once there, writing diary entries in which he made it clear he wasn't necessarily committed to the New Jersey Nets for the long haul. The new CBA will likely give the Nets plenty of incumbent advantages to keeping Williams but if he decides to bounce he will have no shortage of suitors as one of the league's elite floor generals.

3. Chris Paul (ETO)
To this point, Paul has done an extraordinary job swallowing his frustration with what has been a disastrous few years for the New Orleans Hornets franchise. Paul's close friends happen to be a who's who of the NBA's elite players, and no doubt he's feeling some "grass is greener on the other side" jealousy when sizing up the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks. As with Williams and the Nets, New Orleans will be poised to do everything in its power to keep Paul, but those efforts might not matter.

4. Russell Westbrook (RFA)
The superstar pairing with Kevin Durant isn't absolutely perfect but it's a far better one-two punch than anyone in the Western Conference -- besides the Lakers -- can muster. The Thunder will give Westbrook the Durant treatment, offering him a mini-max contract as soon as legally possible. Every indication is that he would accept it so that he can get back to work building a potential dynasty.

5. Steve Nash (UFA)
Nash will be 38 years old when free agency hits, having endured 2+ years of trade rumors. While his best days are behind him, he will be a tantalizing target on the open market, as he would be highly motivated to take a subsidized salary to step in as the calm captain on a ready-made contender. Just about everyone wants to see Nash retire with a ring; even though he's not the most talented player on this list, his choice of destination could wind up being the biggest postseason game-changer.

6. Chauncey Billups (UFA)
Should the 2011-2012 season get cancelled, Billups, who is set to make$14.2 million this year, would be missing out on the payday of his career. He'll be 35 next summer; while still productive, he might be best off signing with a veteran team where he can serve as a steady hand third guard.

7. Jameer Nelson (ETO)
Nelson is a solid starting point guard but his future in Orlando is likely tied to that of Dwight Howard. If Howard goes, it will be time to slash and burn the roster and start over; paying above-average money to retain Nelson probably wouldn't be worth it.

8. Raymond Felton (UFA)
The Blazers lack a capable, proven back-up point guard so Felton, who was acquired in a 2011 draft day trade with Denver, is sitting pretty. Portland will be highly motivated to pay to retain his services even if he never puts on a Blazers jersey during the 2011-2012 season because of the lockout.

9. Andre Miller (UFA)
Miller finds himself in much the same situation as Billups, in that he will be 36 years old when free agency hits, he's still productive but he will no longer command big dollar offers on the free agency market. It's quite possible the rebuilding Nuggets move to retain his veteran hand as George Karl appreciates the subtleties in Miller's game, but serving as a role player so that he can make the first real playoff run of his lengthy career is always a possibility.

10. George Hill (RFA)
The Pacers traded for Hill on draft day and will have plenty of cap space to retain his services. It would be nice if Indiana is able to see how he fits with their other young pieces before committing to him, but he's shown what he can do with the San Antonio Spurs and shouldn't cost an arm and a leg.

11. Kirk Hinrich (UFA)
On the books for $8 million in 2011-2012, the oft-injured Hinrich can look forward to a large pay cut next summer. With Jeff Teague set to take the reins in Atlanta he could very well be looking for his fourth team since 2009-2010.

12. DJ Augustin (RFA)
The Bobcats are in full-blown blow-it-up rebuilding mode and drafted their presumed new face of the franchise, Kemba Walker, in June. Charlotte should have money to pay him; his future will be a matter of determining whether the two pint-sized points are redundant.

13. Jason Kidd (UFA)
Kidd will be 39 next summer but, if the 2011 playoffs were any indication, he will play until he's 55. His basketball intelligence, leadership in the halfcourt and defensive prowess mean he will be able to select from multiple attractive options, although he'll be taking a major pay cut from his $9.6 million salary in 2011-2012 in the process.

14. Aaron Brooks (RFA)
If Nash leaves Phoenix, as many suspect, Brooks will be in line for a solid offer from the Suns as long as he has proven to the decision-makers that he can keep his emotions in check.

15. Jose Barea (UFA)
A prime target to get overpaid with someone's mid-level during a weak 2011 free agency crop, Barea could be a big loser of the lockout in that future MLE offers will likely be smaller and he will face stiff competition for free agency dollars in 2012.

Shooting Guard

1. Eric Gordon (RFA)
How does "Eric Gordon, scoring champion" sound? Because it's not all that far from being a realistic possibility. With him playing alongside Blake Griffin who gets most of the defensive attention, Gordon has become one of the game's top inside-out guards. He can hit from deep, mid-range or use his solid frame to get to the rim. He's probably not a max player, but he's definitely top scorer material and those type of players tend to get paid.

2. Ray Allen (UFA)
So he's 36 years old. But he also just put up maybe his most efficient season ever, hitting 44 percent from 3-point range. When you're a specialist like Allen, you can continue your craft for a long time. And as long as he can make a 3 better than anyone else in basketball, he's going to have a lot of value.

3. Jamal Crawford (UFA)
Want a guard that's willing to shoot, score and shoot some more? Want to pay him a lot to do just that? Then Jamal Crawford is your guy.

4. Jason Terry (UFA)
The Jet elevated himself to a high level last postseason. He's instant offense no matter where you have him. The fact he's 34 is a bit of a concern though.

5. Arron Afflalo (RFA)
A defensive stopper that shoots around 40 percent from 3? Afflalo might turn into the top dollar-for-dollar free agent in the entire class.

6. Jason Richardson (UFA)
He may be past his prime a bit, but Richardson still has his athleticism and can still make an open 3. He's not go-to scorer material, but he certainly is worthy of being a quality supplemental scorer.

7. O.J. Mayo (RFA)
A talent never fully realized, Mayo could be a big time scorer if afforded the opportunity. He has a ton of ability, but he's never really found that role that could allow him to let loose. I don't know that he'd ever be an extremely efficient scorer, but he has value in the market because he can shoot and score. Those two things always are worth a decent payday.

8. J.R. Smith (UFA)
What did I say about Jamal Crawford? Apply pretty much all of that again here, but add in the disclaimer, "Might be a headcase" to it. Who's interested?

9. Lou Williams (ETO)
Before battling an injury with Williams, the 76ers were a pretty dangerous team. There's a reason: He's a high quality scorer. He's a combo guard that scores at an efficient rate. Daryl Morey just started drooling.

10. Jodie Meeks (RFA)
Did you know Meeks shot 40 percent from 3 last season? Did you know he was, per minute, one of the best scorers in the league? Put him in the right situation and you might be looking at Sixth Man of the Year potential.

11. Marcus Thornton (RFA)
That instant offense stuff? Yeah, right here.

12. Landry Fields (RFA)
There's just no way the Knicks would let a promising young player slip away right? Right?

13. Courtney Lee (RFA)
It's always seemed like Lee has missed out on being better than he is. He started to become something in Orlando, but then was moved to New Jersey and then was moved again to Houston. He's had difficulty finding a stable situation which sometimes, is all a player like him needs.

14. Shannon Brown (UFA)
I'm not exactly sure what makes Shannon Brown a good player other than he jumps high, but he's had a quality role on one of the West's best teams the past few years. That means something.

15. Mike Dunleavy (UFA)
Everyone loves a shooter. Especially when he's 6-9 and plays shooting guard.

Small Forward

1. Gerald Wallace (ETO)
"Crash" would be 30 when this free agency period would hypothetically start, but his combination of toughness, stat-stuffing, and defensive prowess would still make him the top guy at this position. His injury history is deceptively good, with long-term issues resulting from freak accidents, injuries like a collapsed lung thanks to Andrew Bynum and a concussion thanks to Wallace's aggressiveness won't be issues as he gets older.

2. Nicolas Batum (RFA)
The Blazers have turned down mighty attractive offers for Batum over the past two season, so you have to expect him to return to Portland, especially if Wallace hits the open market. A do-it-all wing with perimeter range and tremendous athleticism, Batum would be just 23 in this signing period with amazing potential. If teams want to front-load a contract offer, this is the guy to use it on.

3. Danilo Gallinari (RFA)
Another talented athletic forward with range. Gallinari has the potential to be a legitimate scoring star in this league and has the body to defend to go with it, if he winds up in the right place.  Gallinari would be 23 as well, and just like Batum, would be worth the front-loaded offer to try and steal him from Denver. 

4. Wilson Chandler (RFA)  
Good thing the Nuggets have all that cap space in this scenario, they'd need it to keep their guys. Chandler is expected to hit the open market when he returns from China, and at just 25, he's a guy who could make "the leap" and surprise everyone. Chandler could be a steal based on value in this free agency class.

5. Tayshaun Prince (UFA)
32 years old and with fading athleticism, Prince isn't going to make a huge payday, not after how his tenure in Detroit has likely ended. But for a veteran team needing a wing defender with range (hello, Miami), Prince has tremendous value. Short-term contract with big impact recommended. 

6. Jonas Jerebko (RFA)
Hard worker, tough as nails, coming off an injury, which is a downside. Just 25 and does all the things you want a roleplayer to do. Jerebko is a steal if he can be had in RFA. 

7. Michael Beasley (RFA)
You can break the bank on Beasley to hope he matures and puts all his skills together to become a star. You can bank on him becoming coachable and being a franchise leader. Or you can stay away like the plague and write him off as a gunner with poor off-court decision making. Your choice, really. 

8. Caron Butler (UFA)
Like Prince, Butler would be 32 in this period, having not played in an NBA game since last winter after his knee injury. Butler's back to full strength and playing in the charity games. But his overall value was of question last year and even moreso after the injury. With another year on him, he's still worth the money as a veteran player to help try and win a title, but couldn't be given a starter's investment.

9. Chase Budinger (RFA)
Tall, and can shoot. Still has upside coming off rookie deal and won't break the bank. A value addition with little downside for what he is.

10. Andrei Kirilenko (UFA)
Never lived up to his last massive contract, and will be 31 for this signing. But Kirilenko can give quality minutes at a range of positions and needs, and can likely be had for good value as a trackback from his last deal.

11. Sam Young (RFA)
How many rookies are 27 coming off their rookie deals? Young has started to mold into a great defender under Tony Allen's tutelage in Memphis and can work as a reserve small forward.

12. Grant Hill (UFA)
Depends, can you get the Phoenix training staff to accompany the soon-to-be 40-year-old in this instance?

13. Shane Battier (UFA)
Losing this year would crush Battier's final contract value with him being 34 when he'd sign. Still worth it for experience and defense, but only on a limited deal.

14. Mikael Pietrus (UFA)
Bizarre that he spent all that time under SVG and still lacks the defensive chops teams need him to have. Would be 30 for the beginning of this contract.

15. Tracy McGrady (UFA)
Too many injuries, too much age. McGrady had a nice season last year with Detroit, but with another year on the knees things get dicier. 

Power Forward

1. Kevin Love (RFA)
It's hard to know exactly why people try and underrate what Kevin Love did last season. Maybe it's because some see it as a fluke season. Maybe it's because some think because his team was so bad it inflated his stats. But here's the thing: You can't ignored 20.2 ppg and 15.2 rpg. You can't ignore a power forward shooting almost 42 percent from 3. And you can't ignore the fact he's just 23. There are a ton of names in this free agent class and while Love doesn't have major starpower to him, he's going to get paid in a big way by someone.

2. Kevin Garnett (UFA)
Nevermind that he's played almost 1,200 games during 16 seasons. Nevermind that he's 35 and suffered a major knee injury two years ago. He's still Kevin Garnett. And he's still a major impact player. Is he the automatic 20-10 machine he once was? Not at all, but he's still a great leader, communicator and defensive stopper. Plus, he's got name recognition which is sometimes the best thing a guy can have. 

3. David West (UFA)
Players recover from knee injuries, but that first season back there's always some hesitation. And that's what West is going through right now. He suffered a major injury last season and is going to have to get paid before he plays. Meaning someone's got to trust some doctors and give him a shot. 

4. Thaddeus Young (RFA)
There's a question every GM will have to ask about Young: Is he starting material? And that will likely be what his future payday and team hinges on. He was great as a role player off the bench in Philly last season but is he ready to carry the load as a starter at the 4 for 82 games? Or is he just a niche 4? The Sixers definitely don't want him to slip away though, that's for sure.

5. Jeff Green (RFA)
Someone will go hard after Jeff Green. Why? Because he's a really good basketball player. He's 6-9, has outside touch, is athletic and is a good passer. One problem: No one has any idea where to play him. Green is so caught between small forward and power forward that he might not ever produce how he was expected. But that's not going to stop someone from taking a chance on him.

6. J.J. Hickson (RFA)
It really felt like the Cavs let something potentially special go for very little when Hickson was dealt to the Kings. Because he's young, raw and fairly gifted. His game needs some tuning and he's not likely to blossom into a star or anything, but he'll be a productive big for a long time. 

7. Kris Humphries (UFA)
Big guys that produce double-doubles have a lot of value. He's already stated pretty clearly that he wants to stay in New Jersey (or Brooklyn), but like I said, teams pay for 10-and-10. 

8. Glen Davis (UFA)
Did you know Big Baby is just 25 years old? Not to say he has a ton of ceiling above him still, but he certainly has a number of years of solid production ahead of him. 

9. Carl Landry (UFA)
Typically, physical defenders don't carry a ton of value in the market. But Landry is a bruiser and someone that can step out execute a pick-and-pop. Not the best power forward out there, but he's potentially starting material or a nice bench piece. 

10. Kenyon Martin (UFA)
There's still a little left in the tank for Martin. Early on he dominated opponents with strength and athleticism. While most of that has left him, he's still a formidable presence in the paint and certainly still has his intimidation skills. 

11. Brandon Bass (ETO)
Bass was chronically underutilized for most of last season in Orlando, but when he saw opportunity, he produced well. Big guys with smooth jumpers always have and always will have value.

12. Antawn Jamison (UFA)
He's old at 35, but he still had a fairly productive season for an abysmal Cleveland team last year. 

13. Boris Diaw (UFA)
For Diaw, it's all about what type of shape he's in. If he's ready to go, he's an impact 4. 

14. Darrell Arthur (RFA)
Quietly, Arthur has started to find himself a bit as a backup to Zach Randolph. Long, athletic and equipped with a mid-range game add up to a quality player. 

15. Ryan Anderson (RFA)
Not everyone loves a finesse stretch 4, but Anderson has serious touch from the perimeter. 


1. Dwight Howard (UFA)
Howard will probably be the most sought-after commodity on the market, even with Chris Paul and Deron Williams out there. Defensive Player of the Year, MVP candidate, huge personality and big ticket-draw. Howard is the diamond of this class.

2. Tim Duncan (ETO)
Yes, we're labeling him a center here. Let's save the debate for another day. Imagine Duncan in another uniform. Weird, isn't it? Yeah, us too.
3. Marc Gasol (RFA)
Gasol's not going to score 40 for you, but he's going to do everything else. Defend on the perimeter, in the post, on the weakside, and in space. Work in the pinch-post, pass out of the block, score from mid-range and the post. Gasol does it all and does it with a tougher approach than the elder-Gasol. 

4. Brook Lopez (RFA)
The Nets may actually let Lopez go free in pursuit of Howard, and if he hits the market, he'll draw big suitors. Lopez' biggest restriction is rebounding, which he's become pitiful at. But he can score out of the post and in the pick and roll. He's young, smart, coachable, and can still improve. 

5. Nene (UFA)
The biggest free agent of 2011 could still be shopping for that final contract in this scenario. Nene should only be acquired by a team looking to contend now, as he'll be turning 30 next September. But for explosiveness and toughness inside, you can't go wrong with the Brazillian Baby.

6. Andrew Bynum (UFA)
If, and that's a big if, if Bynum is healthy, he could be the second best option on this list at center. If he's not, if he continues to struggle with his knees, the Lakers will be faced with a big decision. But at his age and with those freakish arms of his, someone will want him, and pay him handsomely. The most likely scenario is Bynum is tabbed as the successor to Kobe's franchise player throne in L.A. with Jim Buss in charge. 

7. Tyson Chandler (UFA)
Chandler's value will be significantly diminished with another year lost, but on the plus side, the last memory of him in GMs minds will be him hoisting the trophy. He'll stick at the top here. 

8. Roy Hibbert (RFA)
Hibbert's not that tough. He lacks scoring ability in the post. He has a lot of question marks. But he's tall. And that matters in the NBA. With his youth, he's still a better option than others. 

9. DeAndre Jordan (RFA)
Jordan was a rail when he came into the league, but he's bulked out and now is flat-out beastly. You'd expect the Clippers to keep him, it's the only thing that makes sense. Which means they'll probably figure out a way to lose the rebounding partner Blake Griffin needs. 

10. JaVale McGee (RFA)
Crazy? Little bit. But McGee has incredible length and too much talent to slide any further. 

11. Marcus Camby (UFA)
Zombie Marcus Camby is slowly ambling towards your low-post block.

12. Omer Asik (RFA)
The Bulls phenom could be top five on this list if he improves on his first season. But AsiIk's value is heightened by Thibodeau's defense.  Missing a year, he won't have the same kind of pull he'd have with a bigger role. 

13. Chuck Hayes (UFA)
No one knows how he does it, but Hayes continues to excel despite his size deficiency.

14.  Chris Kaman (UFA)
You realize Kaman was a near-All-Star two years ago? Kaman will be 30 at this point, and he could be a steal. He could also be the kind of free agent that gets overpaid. You know, why we're missing a season. 

15. Spencer Hawes (UFA)
Ha ha ha, just kidding. 

Category: NBA
Tags: free agency
Posted on: October 27, 2011 10:38 am

Allen Iverson wants back in the league, any way

By Matt Moore

Pride goeth after the fall, apparently, and after the Answer, as it turns out. Two years ago, Allen Iverson signed on with the Memphis Grizzlies for less than a month before his ego and attitude got him booted. The Grizzlies went on to have one of their better seasons in franchise history, setting up this year's playoff run. Iverson, on the other hand, went to Turkey the following year, but again, wound up pulling out after personal problems derailed him. He suffered through a severe illness with his daughter, and also started the process of divorcing his wife. 

So, no, it has not been a great couple of years for A.I..

But Iverson's back in the states, putting together an All-Star exhibition in Las Vegas, and as part of its promotion, he's also talking about how he wants back in the league. He spoke with Yahoo! Sports and wanted to let the world know that he's past the point of thinking he deserves anything. He just wants a spot, any spot, with any team.
“I’ll play for anybody,” Iverson told Yahoo! Sports.

Iverson says he has no serious offers from any teams overseas right now. He added that playing overseas also gave him a stronger appreciation for the NBA since it took him away from his family and “the highest level [of basketball] in the world.” He also says he’ll be willing to come off the bench and a reserve role even “makes it easier for me.”

“Obviously, they might have some issues thinking I don’t want to help a team in a certain capacity,” Iverson said. “But that’s over with. All that was going on through an emotional time. It cost me to not play. I’m just willing to help any squad in any capacity.

“Hopefully, one squad will believe in me and we will go from there. That would be a lot better than having to go overseas.”
via Iverson wants last shot at NBA - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

Iverson's 36. He's not a distributor. It's hard to see where he would fit in with a team concept. Due to his size and age, even a team like the Celtics would be reticent to invest in him. It's going to be difficult finding a team willing to take a chance on him. It would be great if he were to get that shot, though, if only to put anything close to a better ending on such a storied career. The interview also has Iverson talking about "not being there, mentally" the last few years, but the problem is convincing teams those times are over. That kind of element is a black mark on a scouting report.

We'll see if the Answer can get the one he's looking for.  
Category: NBA
Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:27 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 12:36 pm

Magic fans, you're going to want to sit down

By Matt Moore

Dwight Howard spoke with Scott Raab of Esquire for an interview. It's kind of surprising, given that Raab is such a vocal and often times vulgar critic of LeBron James and how he handled his free agency. But Howard's comments are going to light up the NBA world like a Christmas tree, even as the season continues to be imperiled with the loss of games. Howard spoke about free agency, and his time in Orlando. Magic fans, you may need to pour youerselves something stiff first. From Esquire:  
SR: Do you think that the drive to represent, on an iconic level, will be a factor in your free agency? Do you see yourself in a much larger market?

DH: There's more you can do in a bigger place. I'm stuck in a tough position because I feel like right now, where I'm at, I've done so much. And I just don't know what else I can do. I can't live for everybody else. I don't know what decision I'm gonna make as of right now. It's been crazy. Everybody wants me to come here, come play here, come to our team, do this. It's a great feeling, though, to be wanted.

SR: You're gone. I can feel it.

DH: The toughest part for me is the city — the people. They've got burgers named after me in Orlando, they've got a Web site saying, "Please stay." I love the people in the city. I've literally sat on the bench with a towel on my head crying, because I feel the passion in the stands. I just think about what's going to be best for what I want to accomplish in my life. And I don't want that door to close on me, wherever that door is. I don't want it to close.

SR: Just don't do it as an hour-long ESPN special. Please.

DH: That's not me.
via Dwight Howard Quotes on Fatherhood, Children and More - Esquire.

That's funny. It's as if a million souls cried out in terror and were suddenly sent to the lottery for the next ten years. 

This is what most of us were expecting and Magic fans were in denial of. It's Howard acknowledging his time in Orlando with sadness, and talking about how "he doesn't know what else he can do."

Panic! at the Walt Disney World Resort. 

The season hasn't started. The lockout's far from over. Free agency is months away. Two seasons (Winter, Spring) in fact. But already the narrative for next summer is in full gear. And Howard just dropped a can of nitro fuel in the tank and watched this thing light up. The big question for the next year is going to be: Will Dwight Stay? 

And from here, it sure doesn't look like it. 
The question that's starting to be formed in Orlando isn't about whether Howard stays, but who's to blame? There's a trend rising to pin it on Otis Smith, the same guy that built the Finals-contender, but who also traded for Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas inside of a day and who gave bad contracts to marginal players while adding those albitrosses. Howard leaving Orlando could not only mean the franchise losing its second franchise center in 15 years, but the complete tear down of the Magic organization. And they just got that nice new building, too.

The All-Star Game is scheduled to be in Orlando this year. If we have a season, that's going to be one fun week to watch Howard deal with the questions. Poor guy. He won't know what else he can do.

(HT: SBNation
Posted on: October 4, 2011 10:40 am

Jazz' Kirilenko signs with CSKA Moscow

By Matt Moore

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that free agent Andrei Kirilenko has signed a three-year contract with CSKA Moscow in his native Russia. The deal reportedly includes an opt-out for Kirilenko to return to the NBA if and when the lockout ends. 

Kirilenko is expected to re-sign with the Jazz once free agency starts, at a greatly lowered salary from the huge deal he just finished playing under which paid him $17.8 million in 2010-2011. Kirilenko never really lived up to the promise he became a do-it-all forward. It was expected that Kirilenko would develop into the kind of overall product that Lamar Odom is at times for the Lakers, but injuries and role issues have made him largely irrelevant, not to mention the complexities that have existed in Utah over the past several seasons. 

The key here is Kirilenko's opt-out. As a free agent, it was conceivable that he would simply head home and be done with it, but the opt-out ensures he'll be back. If Kirilenko doesn't return to the Jazz, he'll become one of the better free agents on the market, despite that disappointment over the past several seasons. At 30 his best seasons are behind him, but he can contribute enough to garner significant interest from multiple teams on an open market. 

Assuming he's still 30 when we actually get a free agency.  
Posted on: August 31, 2011 11:43 am

Thaddeus Young in talks with China

By Matt Moore

First Wilson Chandler headed for the East. Now Thaddeus Young's agent has also said he's in talks with a Chinese CBA team.From HoopsHype.com:
“I have been contacted by multiple teams in China expressing very serious interest in having Thaddeus Young play in their league this season,” Tanner said. “I have discussed this with Thad and he is intrigued by the possibility of playing in China if the lockout continues and has asked me to further explore these opportunities. At this point, our conversations with the teams have been preliminary but we are continuing to talk and to do our due diligence on each option.”
via HoopsHype.com NBA Blogs - Jorge Sierra » Young receiving interest from China.

The same concerns exist with Young signing with the CBA as with Chandler. The CBA adopted a rule earlier this month to bar teams from signing NBA players under contract with an opt-out clause, not wanting to become a temp job for locked-out players (which makes no sense for them, but whatever). 

There's still the possibility that Chandler and Young, if he signs, could return if the lockout is resolved simply by the Chinese team releasing them in an under-the-table agreement. But if Young signs and stays, it means another major free agent off the board. Young really came into his own last season as he started to play bigger inside and became more versatile for Philadelphia. But with Philly still having Elton Brand on roster, and with the logjam at the 2/3 with Iguodala and Evan Turner, this wouldn't harm them considerably. 

The bigger question is if the NBA meeting Wednesday goes badly, if enough free agents will be compelled to sign with China, abandoning hope for the 2011-2012 season to be played.  
Posted on: August 28, 2011 3:39 pm

LaMarcus Aldridge supports Blazers adding Landry

By Matt Moore

Earlier this month, Carl Landry said that he saw himself as a good fit in Portland.  It was odd considering they currently have LaMarcus Aldridge on roster and Landry is a power forward who struggles with rebounding.  He's got great scoring instincts and work ethic though, making him one of the better free agents when the market opens. 

Turns out someone with the Blazers thinks the same way. SLAM Online spoke to LaMarcus Aldridge and it turns out Aldridge thinks Landry would be a good fit as well. From SLAM:
“That’s big of him to speak out and I’m glad he spoke out and said he wants to play with us,” Aldridge told SLAMonline. “He’s a good player and I definitely feel like he can help us immediately.”

“Landry’s a really good player and good players know how to fit in,” Aldridge said. “Wouldn’t be a problem at all.”
via SLAM ONLINE | » Aldridge Signs Off on Landry

The problem? Let's pretend for a moment that the new CBA at least keeps things within scale. So either the Blazers are in the same position, cap-space-wise, or the contracts are scaled back proportionally. Let's take three contracts for next season, outside of their best player, LMA. Brandon Roy, Marcus Camby, Gerald Wallace. That's nearly $37.5 million. Wesley Matthews is $6.1 million.  In short, finding room for a back-up role player who will likely draw a better contract, even under a new CBA within a weaker free agency class than the last time he struck out might be tough for Portland. 

With the Blazers still trying to figure out a plan in terms of their organization, making a major move like Landry might be a longshot. But if it's made, Aldridge is out in front to quell any talk of issues with the should-be-All-Star. 

Here's a question? Who on earth is going to play power forward in New Orleans next year? 
Posted on: August 26, 2011 11:24 am
Edited on: August 26, 2011 11:25 am

Dwight Howard hires free throw shooting coach

By Matt Moore

Dwight Howard shot a career high in free throw percentage last year at 59.6 percent. Getting past the fact that his career high was still below 60 percent, it's good that he made progress in what was considered to be his best year in the league. Granted, it was only a .4 percentage point improvement over the previous season and a .2 percentage point improvement over his previous best, but hey. Baby steps? Apparently Dwight doesn't think those baby steps took him quite far enough, so he's started what he should have started years ago. He's hired a free throw shooting coach. 

From the Orlando Sentinel:
In his quest to become a better free-throw shooter, Dwight Howard has turned to a man who bills himself as the "Shooting Surgeon General" and the "Free-Throw Master."

Howard is working with shooting coach Ed Palubinskas, an Australian sharpshooter who played in the 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympics and is the career free-throw percentage leader at LSU. Palubinskas has worked with Orlando Magic power forward Brandon Bass and also briefly worked with Shaquille O'Neal.
via Dwight Howard: Orlando Magic all-star Dwight Howard hires Ed Palubinskas to be his shooting coach - OrlandoSentinel.com

Palubinskas told the Sentinel that he will change Howard's numbers in one year. The idea here is that Howard will be a better student than Shaq. That's kind of interesting to note. Howard comes across as a willing student, having sought out Hakeem Olajuwon to improve his game. But Howard also took some of what Hakeem taught him and sought to disregard the rest, telling CBSSports.com last year that there was only so much Olajuwon could teach him since the game was so much different now. Free throw shooting obviously doesn't change, so it'll be interesting to see if Howard fully embraces Palubinskas' teaching or not. 

What's the real impact of Howard's free thows? Last year he missed 370 free throws. If he raised his percentage to the league average of 76.6 percent, that's over 155 more pointss per season, or, based on his 78-game season, nearly two points per game (1.9 exactly). Doesn't sound like much, right? Thing is, that would move him to 24.8 points per game, which is only .2 points behind Derrick Rose. It's worth it for Howard to just make the league average. If he were to become even beetter, the offensive impact would cover his still-less-than-excellent footwork and post moves. It's the quickest way to an MVP trophy for him, and would naturally help the Magic out as well. 

We'll see if it actually makes a difference, and how Palubinskas reforms his shooting, in form or function. 

Posted on: August 24, 2011 10:59 am
Edited on: August 24, 2011 1:28 pm

Jeff Green admits it was hard joining Celtics

By Matt Moore

Jeff Green hasn't had the easiest road in the NBA. He was expected to be the Pippen to Kevin Durant's Jordan. The problem is that he's a power forward that doesn't rebound (6.0 rebounds per game is his career high, which was two seasons ago), or a small forward who doesn't pass (2.0 assists is his career high, three seasons ago). He's a three-point specialist who's a 34 percent career shooter from the arc. The rebounding is what really gets him in trouble. He's got good athleticism and shows flashes of defensive skill, but has never fit a role. When he was brought to the Celtics, though, that was a no-win situation. Replacing a fan and locker room favorite in Kendrick Perkins, Green was confusing for those who didn't know him and infuriating for those that did. 

But even worse than the struggles with his game is what Green had to do in terms of fitting in with the Celtics, who were a championship core that had been together for four seasons and felt like family. In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Green talked about the reality of how difficult it was walking into that locker room:
“They’ve been together for a number of years,” Green said of the Celtics. “They’ve already won a championship, they’ve already have a system, they already have their chemistry and that bond on that team.

“It was tough to go into that situation.”
via Green eyes future with Celtics - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

The tone of the interview is definitely not one of "I'm excited to be here and feel we can win a championship." It's more "Look, I got sent here, I didn't ask to come here." Green pretty much stops short of saying "They hated me." He talks about how hard it was to grasp all the defensive concepts in half a season. Green's a professional and has never been a locker room problem. He's a restricted free agent, and if the Celtics match or offer Green the best money, he'll play as well as he can. But sometimes it's just not a fit. Maybe when the current core has moved to retirement Green will have a chance to stretch his wings and become a more complete player. 

For now, he's in a dfficult position of having to be something he's not, and being judged by that standard.  What's funny is he could lose five points off his per game average if he picked up five rebounds. That's all anyone cares about these days. Defense and rebounding. The offense will apparently take care of itself.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com