Tag:Hawks
Posted on: November 30, 2010 3:35 pm
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Award-O-Matic MVP 11.30.10: CP3 as MVP

NBA F&R breaks down the MVP candidates after the first month of the season by dissecting the award down to three parts: Most Valuable, Most Important, and Most Oustanding Player. CP3 is in control.
Posted by Matt Moore with contributions from Ben Golliver and Royce Young




Well, we're a month into the season and the context of this year has begun to take shape. While certainly a long way from the finish line, we've already gotten a glimpse of who's playing well, who's playing average, and who ... not so much. And so it is that we begin our monthly look at awards. On a regular basis we'll take you around the award contenders and give you a look at who is in contention for the NBA's major awards by breaking down what they really mean in our Award-O-Matic. Today we start with the MVP.

The problem, as has been elucidated approximately a million times by various media members, is that the MVP is a nebulous, hard to define award. Its name is Most Valuable, but it most often goes to the Most Outstanding Player on a winning team. If your play is other-worldly but your team doesn't win, you have no shot. If you contribute the most to a winning team but your numbers aren't stellar, again, your chances are slim. It takes a combination of three factors: value, performance, and importance to snag the award. As such, we decided to break the award into those three categories, tally them up with the top player getting 3 points, the second 2, the third 1, then summing to see if we could come up with a list.

First up?

Most Valuable Player (To Their Team): Who is most responsible for their team's success? Or, to put it another way, whose team suffers the most without them?


Matt Moore:


1. Dirk Nowitzki: Without him that offense is anemic and it's been his rebounding that's kept them in games at points.
2. Carmelo Anthony: Seriously, Nuggets. Cliff. Teetering. Melo's the only thing keeping the truck from smashing into pieces.
3. Dwight Howard: Get him in foul trouble and the Magic turn into a Mid-Major college team, just wining it from perimeter to perimeter.

Ben Golliver:

1. Chris Paul:
  I like Darren Collison as much as the next guy, but CP3's return from injury to lead New Orleans' absurd hot start, despite an unimpressive supporting cast, reveals exactly how valuable the league's best point guard is.
2. Rajon Rondo Boston would still be good without Rondo, but his game ownership places them on an elite level and makes them the odds on favorite to win the East yet again. 10.6 points, 14.2 assists (what!), 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals through the end of November. Crazy.
3. Kevin Durant The Thunder have had an up-and-down start but imagining this team with Russell Westbrook at the helm by himself, dragging an ineffective Jeff Green along for the ride, would be a recipe for a guaranteed lottery team. KD will get better -- perhaps much better -- over the course of the season, and he's already easily leading the NBA in scoring again.

Royce Young:

1. Chris Paul:   Subtract Paul and what do you have. I can promise you it's not an 8-1 team. It's really as simple as that.
2. Dirk Nowitzki:   The Mavericks are dangerous in every fourth quarter that they're close in. The reason is because Dirk can score in every situation, at any time. He essentially is the Maverick offense.
3. Steve Nash:   Take Nash away and yes, there's Goran Dragic who can dazzle in stretches. But without Nash this Suns team is nothing more than a 35-win club. With Nash, there's potential to push for the playoffs.

Most Important Player: Who is most crucial to their team's success? Ex. Last year I argued that Josh Smith was MIP because when he did Josh Smith-y things, the Hawks were nearly unstoppable, and when he didn't, they were much more beatable.


Matt Moore:

1. Chris Paul:
He does everything and it starts and stops with him. This is even more clearly illustrated by their recent struggles down the stretch where he hasn't been involved.
2. Al Horford: The level of production Horford is creating right now is simply astonishing. More astonishing is how overlooked he is.
3. Pau Gasol: It's him that's carrying the Lakers. Even as Kobe scores all the high points, the most dominant Laker performances this season are from Gasol.

Ben Golliver:


1. Pau Gasol: His virtuoso early season performance has single-handedly made Andrew Bynum an afterthought. What more needs to be said?
2. Deron Williams:   Utah's streak of comebacks begins with Williams' tough-minded leadership and ends with his play-making and shot-making.
3. Dirk Nowitzki:   Another banner start from Dirk singlehandedly puts a Dallas roster loaded with question marks in the playoff mix.

Royce Young:

1. Pau Gasol: Having Gasol as part of the triangle has been like a revelation. He's really what makes the Lakers so darn dangerous.
2. Kevin Garnett:
We saw what an impact his has in regard to the Celtic defense two seasons ago when his knee was injured.
3. Nick Collison:   He's a classic no-stats All-Star. He's only played for a few weeks so far this season for Oklahoma City but his value is immeasurable and impact immediate. He tips rebounds that become extra possessions, takes charges, sets outstanding screens and makes two or three small (but big) plays a game.


Most Outstanding Player: Who has simply wowed you?


Matt Moore:

1. Rajon Rondo: Key plays every time he's on the floor and he makes it look easy, There are a lot of moments where he looks like he's just on a different plane from everyone else.. and he's got three Hall of Famers on his team.
2. Russell Westbrook: Westbrook has managed to take over the game down the stretch. His turnovers are down, assists are up, he's got range and that mid-key pull-up jumper is as deadly as it ever has been. He's been simply phenomenal in half-court and full-court sets.
3. Deron Williams: Three point guards? Yup. Check Deron at the end of the clock with the game on the line. Money. And that's after all the assists, rebounds, key plays and floor leadership. Man's a ninja, no joke.

Ben Golliver:


1. Dwight Howard:
  Lost in the Miami Heat wave, Howard is quietly putting up 22.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks as the defensive and rebounding engine that will make Orlando a title contender for years to come. By the way, Orlando sits atop the Southeast Division -- 3.5 games ahead of the Heat.
2. LeBron James: His numbers are crazy and his highlights are spectacular. It's a wonder he can jump so high and dunk so hard carrying the burden of Chris Bosh and Erik Spoelstra's corpse on his shoulders.
3. John Wall:   Wall doesn't belong in the MVP discussion -- there are too many holes in his game (jumper, turnovers) and his team is terrible -- but for sheer "outstanding-ness" and "wow factor" he merits inclusion here. His assist numbers have been great and his speed is tops in the league; he's a lot further along the NBA readiness scale than even his biggest fans could have imagined.

Royce Young:

1. Rajon Rondo: He's been nothing but insanely ridiculous. Manages the game perfectly, understand his place within an offense and runs the show beautifully.
2. Kevin Love: When given the time on the floor, he's a legitimate 20-20 threat every single night. How many players can you really say that about?
3. Russell Westbrook: There's a case to be legitimately made for Westbrook as an MVP contender. Kevin Durant is still leading the league in scoring, but Westbrook is what's kept the team winning games. But his play has been just insane this year (23.8 ppg, 8.4 apg, 5.1 rpg) and he's a super-highlight waiting to happen.

Here are the tallies:

Most Valuable Player:
1. Chris Paul (6)
2. Dirk Nowitzki (5)
Tied for 3rd: Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo (2)
Tied for 4th: Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash (1)

Most Important Player:
1. Pau Gasol (7)
2. Chris Paul (3)
Tied for 3rd: Deron Williams, Al Horford, Kevin Garnett (2)
Tied for 4th: Dirk Nowitzki, Nick Collison (1)

Most Outstanding Player :

1. Rajon Rondo (6)
Tied for 2nd: Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard (3)
Tied for 3rd: Kevin Love, LeBron James (2)
Tied for 4th: John Wall, Deron Williams (1)

Top 5 in Totals:
1. Chris Paul: 9
2. Rajon Rondo (8)
3. Pau Gasol (7)
4. Dirk Nowitzki (6)
5. Dwight Howard (4)
Posted on: November 23, 2010 9:26 am
 

Game Changer 11.23.10: Spurs and ammo

Spurs and Magic have a classic, the Pacers show they're decent in dismantling a mediocre Miami team, and the Celtics take the Hawks to the shed in today's Game Changer.
Posted by Matt Moore


Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.  


THE BIG ONE: Spurs have one more round than Magic in shootout


San Antonio 106 Orlando 97 .

That's the final score but it doesn't even come close to descrbing A. how great this game was or B. how close this game was. It was a back and forth affair for the entire game, as neither team could shake the other one. Just as one team would seem to be pulling away, the other would respond with a flurry of offense. San Antonio would bruise their way to a lead, only to find the Magic creating turnovers, sparking the break, and dropping in three-pointers in transition. The Magic would burst their way into a lead only to find the Spurs settle down, get a bucket, then a stop, then Manu Ginobili Ginobili'ing his way with a knife to their heart. In the end, the Spurs had a few more bullets left in the gun and the Magic were unable to find an answer for Manu.

Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili combined to shoot 23 of 42, for 64 points, 13 rebounds, 21 assists, 5 steals, and 2 blocks. Guess Boston and Miami aren't the only ones with Big 3s. The efficiency with which the Spurs attacked was ruthless. In the third, Tony Parker got up to full speed and was using those wide curving pick and rolls to find Duncan, while Ginobili was using the deep wing picks for that step-back jumper he's gotten to like so much. It was a clinic in execution, and the Magic weren't far behind, with Dwight Howard forcing the issue and the Magic backcourt raining 3s. Combined the two teams hit 21 threes on 37 attempts which is just ridiculous. Matt Bonner came through with 4 big ones (4-4 from the arc) while Mikael Pietrus kept breaking up Spurs runs on his way to a 3-5 run from the perimeter.

Sharp defense, tough shots, fun basketball, a close game. This one was a beauty.

WHAT YOU MISSED: The Heat suck.


I torched the Heat for their lack of effort, cohesion, and heart.

Ken Berger spoke with Delonte West in a must-read interview about his experiences with bipolar disorder .


DEAD BEFORE THE SHIP EVEN SANK

Last night's Celtics-Hawks game was not a game. It was a mercy killing, only without the mercy. The Celtics owned the Hawks 39-13 in the first quarter, and it didn't feel that close. Boston simply could not miss. Sharp passes, smart playsets, intensity at both ends of the floor, attacking rebounds, and Nate Robinson doing his best Rondo Baron Davis when he was good impression, throw in the Hawks looking like they wanted to be anywhere but on the floor and Al Horford being physically dominated by Boston's size and you've got a recipe for Von Wafer to get a fair amount of time by the end of this one.

It was stunning, considering the Hawks swept the Celtics last year. But call it motivation over last year's flukes, or the Celtics' last fluke against the Raptors, or just the impact of a healthy Kevin Garnett, but this one was over with before the t-shirt guns had even been loaded. The Hawks continue to perplex as they look genuinely good and improved at times, and like roadkill in others.

Kevin Garnett looks not only like he's healthy, but like he's healthy like when he was 31. That's terrifying for the rest of the league.

YOUR DAILY "QUAKE" GRIFFIN NIGHTMARE DUNK:




GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:


Carmelo Anthony:
39 points (17-17 from the line), 9 rebound, 5 assists

Runner-Up:


Manu Ginobili: 25 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists

FINAL THOUGHTS:


The Hornets are 11-2. Which is great. But the last few games have shown some of their cracks in the foundation. Relying on Jason Smith to be a significant bench contributor isn't going to get it done. Neither is hoping Emeka Okafor stays as an offensive force. The bigger concern may be that Chris Paul has started looking flat-out tired at the ends of games. Him missing the game-tying assist to David West was nothing more than one of those that happens, but in general he looked lethargic down the stretch. Some concerns for the Hornets do exist, even at 11-2.

Last night's game perfectly illustrates why Boston fans get so frustrated with their team. They look so awesome when they consistently try.

The story from Indiana-Miami was the Heat playing terribly but the Pacers deserve a world of credit for getting Danny Granger going, and Brandon Rush took it to Dwyane Wade, which, injured or not, isn't an easy thing to do. The Pacers look like a solid playoff contender.

People will tell you that the Oklahoma City-Minnesota game was closer than the final score appears. And it's true the Wolves lead down the stretch. So maybe I'm just exhibiting confirmation bias when I tell you that I never had a doubt the Thunder would win that game. The Wolves have no idea how to execute in clutch situations most times, and Michael Beasley still does a lot of Michael Beasley-type things.

Houston loses. Again.


Follow F&R on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA and check out our RSS feed . This has been your daily edition of the Game Changer.



Posted on: November 11, 2010 10:17 am
Edited on: November 11, 2010 1:06 pm
 

Shootaround 11.11.10: Decisions abound

Durant doing fine at the bank, Knicks decide to love Lee still, and is Splitter a good defender?
Posted by Matt Moore

  • Apparently being in small-town Oklahoma City (which is actually big-town Oklahoma if you've ever been to the Sooner State) isn't slowing down Kevin Durant's endorsement opportunities . It may be time to really stop feeding into this myth that you need to be in a big market to be able to make great money through endorsements. If Melo would come to realize that, maybe he wouldn't still be in Denver where he's essentially spinning his wheels for no reason.
  • Knicks fans gave David Lee a terrific ovation last night . There's been a lot of positive regard this season for returning players who now play on different teams. Why do I have a feeling Cleveland will not be continuing that approach?
  • A great throwback interview with Moses Malone. With all this talk of Chris Bosh after he was discussed as a top player in the league this summer and now with his struggles in the paint, you think about what it would have been like if Moses Malone had joined a team like the Heat. Then again, you could make the argument that Dr. J's Sixers were pretty Heat-like in terms of talent.
  • Tim Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell contends that Tiago Splitter is playing incredibly well on the defensive end, the box score just doesn't capture it . I would argue he needs to watch Splitter's weakside defense and ability to hedge effectively, but I'm a stickler for such things.
Posted on: November 4, 2010 1:46 am
Edited on: November 4, 2010 1:52 am
 

Horford vs. Noah: Tale of the Tape

Posted by Matt Moore

When Al Horford received his 5-year, $60 million extension last week , there wasn't a whole lot of dissent. After all, Horford's a hard-working, versatile center who was an All-Star last season and has very much become a respected NBA player. Horford's been a huge part of the Hawks' success, and his extension is well-worth his production. But of course, whenever an NBA player is given money, there's someone to come along and doubt if he's worth it. This week's winner? Andrew Sharp from SBNation.com ! Sharp's not saying Horford's not worth it, just that Joakim Noah is the player he wants his team instead. This doesn't reflect any choice either the Bulls or Hawks have had recently, just that the money spent on Noah's extension is better spent. From Sharp:

 

By contrast, Noah is a weapon for the Bulls regardless of whether Derrick Rose feeds him on the low block. He operates out of the high post, uses his passing to break down defense while teammates cut off him, and then he crashes the boards. Where maximizing a good post player involves a complex balance within an offense, Noah's impact is simple.

If Horford can become a dominant scorer on the low block, then he's worth the investment it takes for Atlanta to get him involved. But if he's going to score 16 to 18 points-per-game for his career, wouldn't it make more sense to have someone like Noah, who makes an impact without his team making an effort to get him involved, has proven a terror in the playoffs, rebounds better, and changes more shots on the other end?

Again, it comes down to what you want from a big man in 2010.

Well, I suppose that's true. It does come down to what you want in a big man. And if you want a guy that rebounds? Sure! That's who you want. But if you're looking for a guy who can help you defend in the paint, and the overall best player? It's Horford. And it's not really close. Let's go to the tape!

Here's a look at the relatively basic stats, some advanced stats, and some numbers via Synergy Sports. Basic stats via Basketball-Reference . Opposing PER via 82games.com . Points per possession via Synergy Sports , with number of possessions in parentheses. Stats from 09-10, since we have such a small sample size this season.

Category Noah Horford Advantage
Points Per Game 10.7 14.2 Noah
Rebounds Per Game 11 9.9 Noah
Blocks Per Game 1.6 1.1 Noah
Points Per 36 12.8 14.5 Horford
Rebounds Per 36 13.2 10.1 Noah
Blocks Per 36 1.9 1.2 Noah
FG% 50% 55% Horford
PER 17.9 19.4 Horford
Defensive Rating 98 101 Noah
PPP Offense (Overall) .94 (703) 1.067 (1073) Horford
PPP Off-Post: .80 (104) .92 (379) Horford
PPP Off-P'N'R: 1.09 (88) 1.12 (112) Horford
PPP Defense (Overall) 0.85 (752) 0.78 (1074) Horford
PPP D-Post: 88 (176) .69 (283) Horford
PPP D-P'N'R: .86 (253) .92 (318) Noah
Opp. PER 17.5 16.5 Horford
Playoff wins against Celtics 0 0 Draw
Rebound Rate 20% 16% Noah

Some things to note here:

  • Noah was hampered by plantar fasciitis last season among a few other injuries. That's an injury that's going to hamper you, though by all accounts he was much better by the end of the year.
  • The Synergy numbers do bear out across earlier seasons.
  • For Defense on PPP, remember lower is better, because it's points allowed per possession.
  • If you're unfamiliar with Synergy, it actually tracks possession by possession with video. So these aren't estimated stats. You can actually go through and watch each possession the two spent defending the post last season.
  • The wins against the Celtics are due to Sharp's rather random comparison of the two players against the Celtics among other teams. If we're going to dramatically oversimplify matters then I thought we'd take it to the fullest extent.
  • It should also be noted Tom Ziller took down the assertion that Noah was superior in his post at NBA FanHouse's The Works Wednesday Morning.
So what do we see from these numbers? If you want someone to grab that loose ball after the miss? You want Noah. With those long arms, big frame, and Joakim-ness, Noah is your guy. But if you want a player who will force that miss? Particularly in the post? It's Horford, by a healthy margin.

Sharp makes the argument that Horford's scoring is somehow disruptive to the offense (which is a lot like saying bullets are disruptive in a gunfight). But as we see from the play breakdowns, Horford only used 4.3% of his possessions in ISO situations. Everything else came off of a set play. This on a team that too often was plagued by too much ISO play. Horford wasn't disruptive, if anything, he was part of the solution, not the problem.

So really, what we're left with is rebounding. On a team with Josh Smith, Zaza Pachulia, and a fleet of wings, Horford was 4% behind Noah, who was flanked by... Taj Gibson and Luol Deng. This isn't to say Noah's overrated as a rebounder. He's not. But the gap between he and Horford's work on the glass is not great enough to amke up for Horford's advantages on both offense and defense.

Joakim Noah is a terrific young player that is sure to be a central part of the Bulls' success, especially now that his low-post offense is not needed next to Carlos Boozer (once he returns from injury). But Al Horford, despite not grabbing headlines for his hair, expressions, or penchant for the green stuff is the more complete player. He's the underrated All-Star, but an All-Star for a reason.


Posted on: October 22, 2010 12:07 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 12:35 pm
 

Friday 5 with KB: Contraction, Horford, Melo



CBSSports.com's Ken Berger discusses contraction , Denver trades, and the upcoming season.
Posted by Matt Moore

Posted by Matt Moore


Each week we'll be bringing you five questions for our own Ken Berger of CBSSports.com about the inside happenings of the league. This week, Ken talks about the contraction issues , Denver's objectives in trade talks, and what he's looking forward to this season. You can email your questions to the Friday 5 With KB at cbssportsnba@gmail.com or hit us up on Twitter at @cbssportsnba .


1. Your report on the CBA discussions sent shockwaves through the blogosphere as you reported the league is considering contraction as an option. But with small-market owners Peter Holt and Glen Taylor as powerful as they are, aren't they two guys that would deeply oppose this concept?

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: Yes and no. In Taylor's case, I believe he'd oppose it only if his franchise were being eliminated. But business would be better for him if another struggling franchise were axed. In Holt's case, remember that the profitability challenge isn't about market size. It's about revenue. Yes, there are big and small markets, but that's not the point. The point is, there are high-revenue teams (such as the Lakers, who rake in nearly $2 million at the gate per home game) and there are low-revenue teams (such as the Grizzlies and Timberwolves, who make $300,000-$400,000). There are small-market teams that generate at or close to $1 million per home game (Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Utah), and there are teams in large metro areas that struggle (Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia). What the league has to constantly look at is, are the low-revenue teams doing as well as they possibly can in the markets where they're doing business? If the answer is yes, there are three ways to deal with it: 1) enhance revenue sharing to the point where those teams can compete and profit; 2) relocation; or 3) contraction. No. 3 is clearly a last resort, but you'd have to be the most rose-colored-glasses type in the world not to see that the NBA would benefit immensely from getting rid of two teams. The league as a whole would be more profitable, and the product would be better.

 2. Let's turn to our best-selling show, "As Melo Turns." You reported this week that Denver's exploring a series of one-on-one deals. We have serious questions about how good of a deal this is for Denver, particularly the whole "Anderson 'Flopsy' Varejao" angle. So what positions do you think they're aiming for with these one-offs? Or is it just any upgrade they can get?

KB: Denver's top priorities remain as follows: draft picks, young players, and cap relief. In recent weeks, after the four-way fell apart, they've added something to the list: getting rid of Kenyon Martin and/or J.R. Smith in the deal. Executives familiar with their strategy say the Nuggets appear close to abandoning another component of their wish list: a veteran player who is a decent replacement for Anthony. The thought being, if you're getting worse in the short term without Melo, why not go all the way and set yourself up to rebuild the right way? Why not "be Sam Presti," as one exec put it to me. So the long answer to your question is that the Nuggets' approach is in flux on every level, but there are certain things they feel they have to get out of this: draft picks, young players, and cap relief. If they decide to go ahead and move K-Mart and J.R., and give up the notion of trying to patch the hole with, say, Andre Iguodala, they'd be in a position to get more of all three.

 3. This week you saw a big peelback of the number of technicals compared to last week. It seemed like both sides were starting to find that "middle ground" you talked about last week. Do you think this is going to be a non-issue or do you think the union really is going to get involved legally?

KB:
For once, I agree with David Stern. Cooler heads will prevail, and the union will realize that this isn't a battle they want to wage. (Better to save their time, lawyers and money for the real fight over the CBA). Stern even budged a little Thursday when he admitted that some officials have overstepped in the enforcement of the new policy, and that they'd have to adjust. So as you and I have said from the beginning, that's what's going to happen. The players will back down a little, the refs will give them a little more leash, there will be marginally more techs doled out early in the season, and then everyone will move on.

 4. Al Horford, Jamal Crawford. Clock's ticking, at least on Horford, and we don't hear anything. What's the lastest on that front?

KB: 
The Hawks have until June 30 to extend Crawford, so there's no rush there -- despite Jamal's understandable desire to get it done now. But with regard to both Crawford and Horford, Hawks GM Rick Sund has a long history of not doing veteran extensions. This was his approach in Seattle with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, and he did the same with Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia and Joe Johnson in Atlanta. (Note: Johnson was the only one of those players who got a max deal from Sund.) The point is clear: If this has been your philosophy in the past, early or mid-way through collective bargaining agreements, then it will most certainly be your strategy in the last year of a CBA. You can't 100 percent rule out Horford getting an extension by the 31st, but I doubt it. Unless the Hawks are getting a home-team discount, what's the incentive for them to pay Horford now when they don't know what market value will be under the new deal?

 5. Okay, Ken, last Friday 5 before the start of the season. We know you're least looking forward to the LeBron show. But what are you most looking forward to as the season starts Tuesday?

KB:
  I'm not least looking forward to LeBron at all. I was least looking forward to "The Decision" and its aftermath. I'm very much looking forward to watching him play alongside Dwyane Wade. It will be compelling theater, everywhere they go. Aside from that, just to mention a few things on my radar: I'm interested in seeing how Kobe Bryant's knee holds up; whether Kevin Durant and the Thunder are ready to take the next step; whether Amar'e Stoudemire will bring the buzz back to Madison Square Garden; whether Dwight Howard is as determined to dominate as he says he is; my first chance to listen to Stan Van Gundy eviscerate someone in a pre-game diatribe; my next chance to hear Howard imitate Van Gundy; the first of a million times this season that Jeff Van Gundy says, "I just don't understand that;" where and when Carmelo gets traded; and LeBron's first game in Cleveland Dec. 2.
Posted on: October 7, 2010 9:28 am
 

Shootaround 10.7.10: Thinkin' 'Bout Things

Bulls thinkin' 'bout Dampier, Wizards thinkin' 'bout a name change, and Kidd thinkin' 'bout playing till he's 40, all in today's Shootaround.
Posted by Matt Moore


Peja Stojakovic says health will determine if he plays past this season , the final year of his contract. He wants to get through just one year pain free. It's something we rarely consider with these players, treating injuries like they're some sort of outside clamp that prevents them from playing instead of actual pain the players are experiencing.

With Boozer on the shelf, the Bulls are taking a long look at Erick Dampier, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com . The Bulls waived Chris Richard this week, which is surprising considering their lack of frontcourt depth and the job Richard did in limited minutes.

Marcin Gortat is not going to suddenly get quiet about the issue: he wants a bigger role, now. Unfortunately for him, the Magic are pretty much like "Deal with it, baldy ." Gortat signed a huge contract with the Mavericks last summer but the Magic matched it in restricted free agenc and here we are. For some reason the Magic think having a severely disgruntled Polish guy called "The Hammer" on their team is a good idea.

So this is pretty awesome. Ted Leonsis, the new Wizards owner, posted 101 things the Wizards have put in play to try and improve the fan experience at Wizards games. Some of the smallest details are covered, like how fresh the hot dog buns are. But hidden in there is the following: Changing the name back to the Bullets. Status? "Under consideration." Hold your breath, Bullets fans.

The Hawks exercised their option on Jeff Teague, which should surprise absolutely no one. Teague's locked up through next year, if there is a next year.

Kevin Garnett "went to a dark place " after last year's Finals, which is just classic over-the-top Garnett talk. He was pretty much a wreck after losing that series, leaving you to wonder how he deals with life in any sort of way whatsoever.

Rudy Ferandez' agent went absolutely psycho-hose-beast on local radio, basically pulling a "Leave Britney alone" speech for Fernandez. The kicker is when asked why Rudy wants to go home: "There's friends, there's family, he's a shy guy. He's special." And also a Fraggle, apparently.

Josh McRoberts had an outstanding line last night and the bandwagon is starting to Heat up. McRoberts has already filled into the starting PF spot for the Pacers, and with little competition, will probably hold onto it. A star is born? Maybe?

Jason Kidd wants to play until he's 40 , which is just ridiculous and yet completely believable on all fronts. Oddly, he's already a defensive liability, but the Mavs are thinking about moving him to shooting guard. Which could end up disastrous, but hey, you never know with Kidd. Dude's a survivor. He's going to make it. He's going to work harder. Keep on survivin'. What ?

This Nets-Knicks rivalry gets more entertaining every day .
Posted on: August 3, 2010 11:30 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2010 11:31 pm
 

NBA's 2011 MLK day is stellar as usual

Posted by Matt Moore

Along with the Christmas and opening day schedules released tonight by the NBA, the MLK Jr. Day schedule was also revealed. And just as in years past, the slate's pretty solid. If only we had a trusty NBA blog to run down the games that day.

Wait, we do have a blog like that! It's this one!

Okay, I'll stop. Here's the rundown.

1PM EST, Bulls at Grizzlies:

The Grizzlies had a huge win last year on MLK day over the Suns, a team much better than them in 2009-2010. And they'll find themselves in a similar situation this year. Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, and Ronnie Brewer make the Bulls a much better team than they were last year on paper. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, have only added a shooting guard they can't come to terms with despite the existence of a rookie pay scale. So they've got that going for them.

But still, this should be a good matchup, if the Grizzlies aren't on a back-to-back. Marc Gasol and Joakim Noah are very different but nearly equal players in terms of production and skill. Zach Randolph is the flip side of Carlos Boozer. More consistent, less injury prone, and continuosly hammered for his locker room cancerous behavior. Not that Boozer is a saint, he's just somehow been excused regularly despite his contract situation being a distraction for Utah the last two years. But their production is similar so that's nearly a wash as well. Rudy Gay is a better but younger version of Luol Deng, and O.J. Mayo's scoring punch and perimeter defensive speed counters Kyle Korver/Ronnie Brewer's specific but limited skill-sets. Unfortunately, that Derrick Rose guy exists. Advantage: Bulls.

Let's not even talk about the bench diffferential, which is considerable. Like I said, back-to-back for the Grizz would be a bad, bad thing here.

4PM EST, Kings at Hawks:

The Hawks got ran last MLK by an up and coming Western Conference team in the Thunder. So naturally the league scheduled them against a similar, and only slightly worse in the Kings. Joe Johnson versus Tyreke Evans should make for a good theater, and Al Horford versus DeMarcus Cousins could be one of the most bizarre conflicts of style and personality among players under 25 all season. And hey, what says Martin Luther King Jr. Day more than Omri Casspi and Zaza Pachulia?

8EST, Magic at Celtics:

You don't really expect me to provide you with a preview for the estimated 22nd meeting of these two teams in three years, do you? Because if you do, you expect way too much out of me.

Oh, hey, something-something, Shaquille O'Neal versus Dwight Howard. Boom.

10:30PM EST, Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers:

This is likely going to be a back-to-back for the Thunder. That's generally how these things work. But in what could well end up being an MVP season for Kevin Durant, it still should be incredibly fun. As we saw in the playoffs, these two teams are extremely well matched, and even with the Lakers' upgrades off the bench, OKC's continued development should make for a strong foil to their heavily favored position.

Plus, Cole Aldrich versus Pau Gasol could be high comedy.

 
 
 
 
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