Tag:Leandro Barbosa
Posted on: August 19, 2011 12:28 pm
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Barbosa signs with Brazilian team

Posted by Royce Young

For once, an NBA player isn't going overseas to Europe to play during the lockout. He's staying right at home. His home, that is.

Raptors guard Leandro Barbosa has signed with Brazlian team Flamengo to play next season. He picked up his player option with the Raptors already so he is under contract though with an NBA team. So of course he'll need that pesky opt-out. Which he does.

"I'm delighted to play in Brazil after so much time, 'cause Brazilian basketball improved a lot in recent years," Barbosa told the Toronto Sun. "I had proposals from China, Turkey and other countries. But I was sure I'd be happy here."

Barbosa is a native of Brazil and spends a lot of time there in the offseason. And an interesting note to this: According to the Sun's story, Barbosa actually considered opting out of his final year in his contact with the Raptors so he could return to Brazil anyway. Problem was, he couldn't find anything close to the $7.6 million he's guaranteed from the Raptors.
Posted on: March 12, 2011 2:11 am
Edited on: March 12, 2011 2:15 am
 

Danny Granger threatens violence against Raptors

Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger took exception to a late basket by Toronto Raptors guard Leandro Barbosa and threatened him with physicalleandro-barbosa violence after the game. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Who could forget earlier this season when Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith got so upset with Oklahoma City Thunder big man Serge Ibaka for scoring after a game was already decided that he called him out for violating NBA etiquette?

That was fun, but it was just an appetizer to Friday night's main course, which featured Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger threatening Raptors guard Leandro Barbosa with violence after he scored a late basket with Toronto's win already secure. 

Barbosa claimed he was doing it as retaliation for a similar shot by Pacers point guard Darren Collison when the two teams played back in January, but Granger wasn't having any of that explanation in quotes given to TheScore.com.
“If I was on him, I would have took his head off and I would have been suspended for a game for a flagrant foul. Stuff like that will set in the back of your head the next time we play Toronto. We don’t play them again but I was on him, I would have taken his neck off.”
It’s in the back of your mind next time you play Toronto. It’s unsportsmanlike and like I said, I would have took his head off and busted his lip. That’s just me, though.”
Barbosa, meanwhile, stood up for himself and his team.
“You can’t give respect if you don’t have respect. When we went over there to play I wasn’t there, but I saw on TV they made a shot and the game was over and they counted the shot so we did the same thing. They got mad, but like I said, this is NBA. You cant give respect if you don’t have respect.”
Here's video of both incidents back to back via YouTube user OutsideTheNBA.



In this case, I ride with Barbosa. I like the idea of doing whatever it takes -- short of destructive violence -- to protect an ethical or etiquette standard that you believe in, even if that means blatant, shameless retaliation. Granger comes off like a Chris Bosh "Fake Tough Guy" here, talking about all the things he would and should have done to a much smaller opponent, when in reality he did nothing except smack his gums. 

Sadly, the next round in this back-and-forth will have to wait until next year, as the Raptors and Pacers don't square off again during the 2010-2011 NBA season.

For the record, the Raptors beat the Pacers on Firday night, 108-98.
Posted on: November 20, 2010 11:27 am
Edited on: November 20, 2010 2:14 pm
 

Report: Hornets and Raptors close to trade

Trade being discussed to send Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless to Toronto for Jarrett Jack, David Andersen, Marcus Banks. Posted by Matt Moore

UPDATE 2:07PM: CBSSports.com confirms the trade is done, talks with the league will occur this afternoon. Bizarre.

Ken Berger confirms that the Hornets save $4.6 million immediately, which gets them off the cap and allows them to look at options at the deadline. The Raptors, in addition to getting Peja's expiring contract they can move before the deadline, save $4.7 million next year.

We'll have more analysis in a bit.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune , a bizarre Euro site via HoopsHype.com , and ESPN are reporting that the New Orleans Hornets are close to a trade that would send Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless to the Toronto Raptors for Jarrett Jack, Marcus Banks, and David Andersen. It is a baffling trade from about a hundred angles. We'll go over some of them here while the two fight over how much money the Hornets have to send the Raptors.

  • The Hornets are 10-1, not exactly in need of a bump-up, and having Bayless as a change of speed, dynamic scorer off the bench was a good thing for them. Getting Jack gives them a veteran defender and solid backup point guard in a more traditional mold, but it also means they get a B+ point guard in salary and talent for a spot they only have about 15-20 minutes or less for a night due to them having the best point guard on the planet.
  • Moving Peja right now means they lose the ability to swap him at the trade deadline, when his $14-million-plus expiring contract is likely to have more value than it does now. That kind of expiring change can help you fill in a lot of holes when teams decide they need to cut payroll dramatically. Teams will also know more about how the CBA talks are headed after the All-Star break. 
  • For the Raptors, it's just as puzzling. Bayless is a terrific young talent and having Peja's expiring are both good things. But this puts Jose Calderon firmly in the starter's role for point guard, and he's a defensive sieve. They get smaller at the guard positions, and just try and imagine a Jerryd Bayless and Leandro Barbosa backcourt. They would represent the Lollipop Guild for crying out loud.
  • As Bayless can't be moved until December 23rd, Bruce Arthur of the National Post reports via Twitter that the deal may be set up as one of those "agreed all together, executed in parts" type deals where the Raptors would use part of their Chris Bosh trade exception to acquire Bayless.
  • Andersen's not a terrible center, he's really not in a league that has so few good ones, but he's redundant with Aaron Gray on the roster.
  • Marcus Banks is barely alive in NBA terms.
  • The Raptors will at least be fun to watch, and with Willie Green becoming the entrenched backup to Marco Bellinelli (who saw either of those things happening this year?), Bayless and Peja were expendable. This isn't really about losing vital assets for the Hornets, it's about not capitalizing on bigger opportunities. But at 10-1, I guess Dell Demps and Monty Williams have earned the right to bet with House money a bit. 
  • ESPN also reports via Twitter that Jack is a close personal friend of CP3, which could explain this as a further move to make the superstar happy.




Posted on: September 29, 2010 9:17 am
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Posted on: August 30, 2010 4:58 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2010 5:04 pm
 

Team USA slips by feisty Brazil, 70-68

Posted by Royce Young

It took a couple of missed free throws and two missed layups from Brazil inside of five seconds left for Team USA to squeak out a 70-68 victory Monday. The game was close throughout, with Brazil actually leading for a large portion. But Kevin Durant's 27 points and 10 rebounds powered the U.S. past Leandro Barbosa's talented and scrappy Brazil squad.

While obviously a win is what is important, there are a few concerns to point out here. Brazil controlled the tempo of the game and nearly pulled off the win playing without two of its best players in Nene and Anderson Varejao . Plus, we really saw is how vulnerable Team USA can be. While Durant was obviously excellent, there were times in the second half where it was hard to picture where the U.S. would get points from. The crucial possessions became a lot of one-on-one with little ball movement or even really, penetration. It felt like everyone was waiting for a talented teammate to make a play. Team USA scored just nine points in the final frame. The good news is, Brazil only scored nine as well.

It was also interesting how Coach K went with one consistent lineup throughout the entire fourth quarter, and really most of the second half. These guys have played three games in three days since arriving in Turkey and instead of utilizing a really deep bench, the starters stayed in almost the entire 40 minutes. Lamar Odom was clearly fried late in the fourth, Derrick Rose was huffing and puffing and there just wasn't a ton spirit in their steps late. Coach K used Tyson Chandler for a short spell on Tiago Splitter in the third which worked well, but never came back to him. Kevin Love, who was outstanding yesterday, only played a handful of minutes.  There was little Rudy Gay, little Eric Gordon, no Stephen Curry, little Russell Westbrook and no Danny Granger.

But thank goodness for Durant. Without him, Team USA truly wouldn't have had any idea where the points would've come from. Chauncey Billups had 15, but a few questionable pull-ups from him nearly put the U.S. in a tough spot. Example: With about 20 seconds left and time on the shot clock with the U.S. up two, instead of running the offense throughout Durant, Billups handled the ball almost exclusively and hoisted a long 2-pointer. It clanged and gave Brazil a chance to tie or win.

Team USA couldn't get its lightning quick transition game going and therefore, was stuck toiling away in the halfcourt . Billups interestingly ran point over Rose, and honestly, there was just a lot of dribbling, one pass and then a contested shot. It was the kind of offense that surely Jay Triano (the U.S.'s offensive coordinator) had to pull what little hair he has remaining out. Team USA turned the ball over 21 times, with Durant giving it away eight times. I'd call it sloppy, but really it was just bad offense with no fast break opportunities. Brazil only had seven offensive rebounds and tried to limit U.S. run-outs by not crashing the offensive glass and instead getting back. And it clearly worked.

Brazil started out red hot, hitting 12 of its first 16 shots, including five 3s in the first quarter and 7-11 at the half. But the green and gold cooled, finishing around 42 percent and 10-27 from deep. Barbosa , who hit his first three 3-pointers, finished with 14 points on 5-18 shooting, including 3-13 from 3. Marcus Vinicius who spent a little time with the Hornets, had 14 points hitting on 4-5 3s, and Spurs signee Tiago Splitter showcased some of his ability, scoring 13 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Splitter used both hands extremely well and ran the pick-and-roll beautifully. Save for some foul trouble, Splitter had a very nice game.

If anyone is stunned by the close score or how Team USA looked very beatable, you shouldn't be. This U.S. squad isn't invincible. It's very good and in the right kind of game, darn near unbeatable. But against a smart, tactical unit like Brazil with players like Vinicius who can shoot, Splitter who can post and a coach like Ruben Magnano (who was the architect of the 2004 Argentina team that took gold) who is one of the best at game-planning for one specific team, Brazil posed a tough test.

But in the end, the U.S. won the game and moved to 3-0. Don't disrespect Brazil by thinking the Team USA nearly choked one away. It was a good game because Brazil has a very good team. There's not a ton of excuse for the lapse in offensive execution, but still, the U.S. improved to 3-0 taking control of Group B and also care of its three toughest group games in three days. Now it should be able to cakewalk to a 5-0 finish by dispatching Tunisia and Iran in the last two.

Team USA has the day off Tuesday and faces Iran Wednesday at 12 ET.
Posted on: August 27, 2010 1:44 pm
Edited on: August 27, 2010 1:46 pm
 

Your guide to the 2010 FIBA World Championships



Posted by Royce Young


The 2010 FIBA World Championships tip off tomorrow and let's be honest, outside of Team USA and a handful of NBA players scattered around other teams, we all don't know a ton about it. So here's your cheat sheet to catch up on the important parts of the games:

10 NON-NBA PLAYERS TO WATCH
Miroslav Raduljica, Serbia - The big Serbian was going to play a large role in this year's games before Nenad Krstic was suspended for three contests. Now, Serbia's early success may very well hinge on Raduljica. He runs the floor well, has soft hands and is one of the most improved players in Europe. He's eligible to enter the NBA draft next year and with a big showing in Turkey, might see his stock skyrocket.

Tibor Pleiss, Germany - Pleiss is property of the Oklahoma City Thunder and was taken in the early second round of this year's draft. He's 7'1, skilled with a lovely jumper that stretches out near the 3 and has an improving post game. He's already a quality rebounder and shot blocker, though as is the case with most young European big men, he needs strength. He's definitely an NBA caliber player at some point and he's one of Germany's top players. If Germany makes some noise in Turkey, it'll likely be because Pleiss did some breaking out.

Juan Carlos Navarro, Spain - Ah, the elusive JCN, or La Bomba as he's endearingly called in Spain. He's known in the States because of a brief stint with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2007-08, but is known across international basketball as one of the most crafty, creative and skilled guards in the world. The lack of superior athleticism is what held him back in the NBA, but he has an array of runners, floaters and running jumpshots, plus is deadly when he's open. He's one of those players that's basically just fun to watch.

Ioannis Bourousis, Greece - Bourousis is coming back from a hand injury that forced him to miss most of Greece's exhibition games, but should be ready to go in Turkey. He's a massive seven-footer that weighs in at 280 pounds. Like Tim Duncan, he trained to be a professional swimmer before getting to big for the pool. He's surprisingly smooth on the post and at 26, has improved his game a lot since 2006 when the U.S. played Greece.

Victor Claver, Spain - Property of the Portland Trail Blazers, Claver is a classic swingman that prefers to run the floor and shoot jumpers. He's not strong and not a great ballhandler, but does finish well at the rim. He's huge at 6'10, but only weighs about 215 pounds. Teams with physical forwards will beat him up, but running the floor with Ricky Rubio will give him a chance to showcase his talents in the open court.

Matthew Nielsen, Australia - The Euro Cup Final Four MVP for Valencia last season, Nielsen is an accomplished international player. He's 32 and has spent time on multiple national teams for Australia. He's not overly skilled, but he's big at 6'10 and moves well. He scores outworking players inside, but is a quality post-up threat.

Tiago Splitter, Brazil - He counts here because he's not in the NBA yet. A recent signee of the Spurs, Splitter will be a player that NBA fanatics will have a close eye on these next few weeks. We've all heard about his skills for the last few years, but most haven't had a chance to see them in action. He's incredibly gifted around the basket and if he plays well, Brazil may make a run to the semi-finals.

Timofey Mozgov, Russia - Same as Splitter, Mozgov will be in the NBA next year with the New York Knicks. He's a true big man at 7'1, but runs the floor well. He's not especially polished offensively, but he uses his big body well. A lot of people have compared him to Marcin Gortat or Andris Biedrins because he scores a lot by playing physical inside. He'll be a project for the Knicks, but he'll be a feature for the Russians.

Ante Tomic, Croatia - Tomic is a gifted big man that has drawn comparisons to Pau Gasol because of his excellent footwork, soft touch and passing ability. He has range that stretches out close to the international 3, and is a player Croatia will likely center their offense around. He's rail thin though and his lack of strength is what really hurts him when talking about taking his game up a notch.

Ricky Rubio, Spain - Everyone knows about the flashy passes. Everyone's seen the YouTube mixtapes. Everyone knows he has a ton of talent. But not a lot of people have seen him actually play a full basketball game, outside of 2008's gold medal game. With Jose Calderon out, this team is Rubio's. He'll play the bulk of the minutes and run the show. He's a bit turnover prone and his stat line never seems to impress, but it's all about watching him. A game where he scores five points, dishes out four assists and has four steals may not seem like much, but he seriously impacted the game.

THE UNITED STATES GROUP PREVIEW
Most consider Group B to be the toughest in Turkey. Obviously there's Team USA, but Brazil, Slovenia and Croatia are all capable squads that should advance out of this group.

Brazil
NBA players: Anderson Varejao, Leandro Barbosa, Tiago Splitter, Nene (out with injury)

Prior to Nene's injury, Brazil was becoming a trendy pick to make the semi-finals and possibly the finals. The talent is there and it's not just in NBA players only. Former NBA players Alex Garcia and Marcus Vinicius clearly have skill, but Marcelo Machado is an excellent sharpshooter, Marcelo Huertas is a crafty point guard and Wellington Dos Santos may actually be faster than Barbosa.

Former Gonzaga star J.P. Batista has the ability to anchor the interior with Splitter and Varejao and with a combination of size and speed, Brazil is a team to take notice of. They want to play up-tempo and high pressure defense, and they have the players to do it.

Croatia
NBA players: Roko Ukic

The Croatians are a squad that doesn't have a ton of top tier talent, but is deep and filled with quality players. The aforementioned Ante Tomic is the key. If he plays well and stays consistent throughout, Croatia could be a team that goes deeper than expected.

Iran
NBA players: Hamed Haddadi

This isn't a bad team. They aren't good, but they aren't that bad. They likely won't advance out of the group stage, but they definitely are a candidate to win a game or two. Teams like the United States will steamroll them, but they could definitely sneak up on Croatia and Slovenia, potentially making a little noise to finish in the top four.

Slovenia
NBA players: Goran Dragic, Primoz Brezec

As it is now, Slovenia is good. But if it had its entire roster with players like Beno Udrih, Sasha Vujacic, Rasho Nesterovic and Erazem Lorbek it could be really good. Slovenia should battle Croatia for third in this group, but is definitely good enough to get to second. It all hinges on Goran Dragic. He needs to score and create and if he can continue his good play, Slovenia should be fine.

Tunisia
NBA players: None

This is easily the worst team in the group. Its goal should be to maybe beat Iran and then keep games within 20. There's simply not enough talent on the roster to stay competitive. Honestly, Team USA could let Jim Boeheim and Nate McMillan start and it would still be a cakewalk.

United States
NBA players: Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Rudy Gay, Andre Iguodala, Lamar Odom, Tyson Chandler, Chauncey Billups, Danny Granger, Stephen Curry

The clear favorite to win Group B and a favorite to win the whole thing. Obviously, Team USA has the most talent in the entire field. But playing together is the key. Coach K has done a fine job of establishing roles for players, but the lack of interior size could hurt the Americans the deeper the tournament goes. A game against Brazil in this group could be the only hangup, but Croatia and Slovenia aren't pushovers.

Despite this group probably be the toughest in the tournament, anything less that a 5-0 start for Team USA would be disappointing.

Predicted finish:
1. United States
2. Brazil
3. Slovenia
4. Croatia
5. Iran
6. Tunisia

FOUR GROUP STAGE GAMES TO WATCH
Saturday, August 28: Spain vs. France - Two traditional soccer powerhouses field pretty solid basketball teams. Spain should win, but Nicolas Batum has emerged as a go-to player for France to seeing him compete and defend the Spanish roster will be fun.

Monday, August 30: Brazil vs. USA - The winner of this game will likely win the group. It should be a fun game to watch too as both teams play pressure defense and prefer to push the pace. This one could easily have 200 combined points.

Monday, August 30: Croatia vs. Slovenia - A European rivalry game with the winner surely locking in a place in the tournament, and probably third place in Group B.

Tuesday, August 31: Greece vs. Turkey - Someone might be killed during this game. No, seriously. Both these teams HATE each other. I don't know if this will so much be a basketball game, as a 40-minute hip-checking contest.

THE FAVORITES
United States - The most talent in the field, though maybe the least chemistry. The U.S. squad will have to find its identity and find it fast.

Spain - A chic pick to win gold, Spain has the talent, chemistry and leadership to win. Losing Jose Calderon hurts only the sense that backcourt depth is light. But if Spain is to seriously make this run, a player like Rudy Fernandez is going to have to elevate his game and play well.

Greece - The smallest player on the team is Vassilis Spanoulis, and he's "only" 6'4. So in other words, the Greek's are big. Greece is massive and what they lack in athleticism, they make up for in size and skill.

Argentina
- The USA's old nemesis, Argentina has NBA talent in Carlos Delfino, Luis Scola and Fabrico Oberto. They'll surely miss Andres Nocioni and Manu Ginobili, but this is a team that should make an easy run to the quarters, probably the semifinals and possibly the finals.

Serbia - The suspensions to Nenad Krstic and Milos Teodosic definitely hurt, but there is enough on this roster still to get out of the group. And once they're full strength, this is a team that's good enough to be in the semifinals.

Brazil - The Brazilians seem to be flying a bit under the radar, but with a group of speedy, skilled players, they should get to the quarterfinals with ease and then past that, they're a tough matchup for anyone.

THE SLEEPERS
Turkey - The host country always seems to do well because the boost from a home crowd always helps. But Turkey has players too. There's Hedo Turkoglu, Ersan Ilyasova, Semih Erden and Omer Asik, all NBA players. Some are taking Turkey to get to the finals based only on the fact they're hosting, but they might get there because this roster has some serious talent.

Canada - Don't sleep on Canada. While not a lot of names on the roster jump out and there's no Steve Nash, they have all decent players and a few NBA guys in Joel Anthony and Andy Rautins. Canada beat Serbia and France in friendlies and isn't a walkover by any means.

Puerto Rico - This feisty group has three NBA players in J.J. Barea, Renaldo Balkman and Carlos Arroyo and has played well in exhibitions. They should get out of their group and in tournament play, they have the players to make a small run.

Australia - The Australians have slowly been building better basketball teams and this might be one of their best yet. There are two NBA players in David Andersen and Patty Mills, plus quality guys like A.J. Ogilvy and Matthew Nielsen. They lack athleticism, but if Mills can get his game going, Australia might sneak up on a few teams.

PREDICTION (see the full bracket)
Group A winner: Argentina (Serbia, Germany, Australia advance)
Group B winner: United States (Brazil, Slovenia, Croatia advance)
Group C winner: Greece (Turkey, Puerto Rico, Russia advance)
Group D winner: Spain (Lithuania, France, Canada advance)

Round of 16: Argentina defeats Croatia, Puerto Rico defeats Lithuania, Greece defeats Canada, Brazil defeats Germany, United States defeat Australia, Turkey defeats France, Spain defeats Russia, Slovenia defeats Serbia

Quarterfinals: Argentina defeats Puerto Rico, Brazil defeats Greece, United States defeat Turkey, Spain defeats Slovenia

Semifinals: Argentina defeats Brazil, United States defeat Spain

Third place: Spain defeats Brazil

Finals: United States defeat Argentina
Some don't like Team USA winning gold. But it's hard not to like them. The way the bracket sets up, if both Spain and the U.S. win their groups, they'll meet in the semifinals. So if the U.S. gets by Spain again, beat whoever comes their way in the gold medal game shouldn't be a huge issue.

The thing with Team USA is, they have more talent than anyone. They have more skill. They have more strength. They have more speed. They have more athleticism. The one thing they lack is size, and that's just in a traditional sense. Nobody can properly match up with the likes of Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay. Even figuring out how to guard Team USA's second unit would be tough. While no, this isn't a team full of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, this is a quality unit with a ton of talent. There will be some tough games for sure and the U.S. will rely on Rose and Durant to carry them through. But these guys should be up to the task to bring home gold for the first time since 1994.
Posted on: August 26, 2010 10:31 am
Edited on: August 26, 2010 11:13 am
 

Pop Quiz: Who's the worst?

Posted by Matt Moore

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

Who will be the worst team in the NBA this season?


It's a depressing question, isn't it? Who's going to fail more than any other? Someone has to win the fewest number of games this year. So who's on the list?

The Returning Champ: The New Jersey Nets

You can't just let the reigning "champs" off the list without giving them a chance to repeat! The Nets were the worst team in the league last year, only able to avoid the worst mark of all time due to a late surge. It was a startling development, one that baffled a lot of NBA heads, because the team really did have talent. But for whatever reason (injury, chemistry, coaching, pure terrible luck), it never came together and the team plummeted into the depths. So are they doomed to repeat history?

The Nets struck out in free agency for the top names but still brought in good players. Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw, and Troy Murphy will all be suiting up for the Nets alongside Devin Harris, Terrence Williams, and Brook Lopez. With the development of the younger players, the addition of a few talented veterans, and a more demanding coach in Avery Johnson, the Nets may not be in position to push for the playoffs, but they are unlikely to repeat as the worst team in the NBA.

The New Kids: The Toronto Raptors


Our first victim of the free-agency summer of doom. After losing Chris Bosh to the triad, GM Brian Colangelo went on a firesale. He ditched Hedo Turkoglu for Leandro Barbosa and sent Marco Belinelli for Julian Wright. He did spend some money, though, giving Amir Johnson a hefty new deal and bringing Linas Kleiza back from overseas. The Raptors lost a huge chunk of salary, and weren't that great to begin with. They are teetering on the abyss. Will they fall off?

Bear in mind that we're talking the worst here. Not bad, but the worst. And the Raptors could assuredly reach that mark if everything were to go wrong. But there are bright spots. Andrea Bargnani, for all his rebound-void, yogurty, forceless  weaknesses, can still hit from anywhere on the floor, and might actually get to play where he's best (high-post and mid-range) with Bosh gone instead of trying to impersonate a traditional center. DeMar DeRozan has the athleticism and range to be able to become a leader. Sonny Weems continues to impress, Amir Johnson will forever be lauded as the next great (whistle) defensive player (whistle) if only he could (whistle) stop fouling (whistle). If the Raptors drop off a cliff, it'll be because the chemistry wasn't fit to hold, or because the real problem in Toronto hasn't been Colangelo's roster, but Triano's coaching.

The Dark Horse: The Washington Wizards


How could any team with John Wall be the worst team in the league? When you have as fragile a chemistry set as this team does. That's how. The Wizards are a long shot to burrow into the trash heap the furthest, but with Gilbert Arenas anything but a sure thing, there's just no telling how this is going to work out. We thought the biggest concern with Arenas last year was if he could stay healthy a full season. We didn't even get to answer that. Andray Blatche is the third best player on the team, and that could go any number of ways. He could be a consistent scorer, working in tandem with Wall, and showcasing the scoring ability he showed last season. Or he could become a space cadet again. JaVale McGee showed great things in Summer League, but he's yet to prove he can be someone to be relied on as the primary big.

Wall is likely to be good enough to drag this team out of the very basement, and if everything were to go right (and I mean everything), the Wizards could find themselves in contention for the playoffs. But if another chemistry blow-up happens and Flip Saunders is unable to contain the damage and get through, the Wizards could be a two-year disaster.

The Favorite: The Minnesota Timberwolves


Okay, let's try the opposite. Let's try and figure out how the Wolves could avoid being the worst team in the league. Option No. 1, another team has a rash of injuries that makes Houston seem like Phoenix. Okay, barring that, Option No.2, we need the following to occur:

A. Luke Ridnour picks up where he left off in Milwaukee, being a solid game manager and reliable shooter.
B. Martell Webster slides in and immediately begins to contribute as he did in Portland, providing the perimeter scoring missing in Minny last year.
C. Wesley Johnson was in fact, the best player available at 3, better or at least within range of DeMarcus Cousins only without the chemistry problems, and is able to pick up the pro game's speed and awareness necessary to contribute.
D. Jonny Flynn recovers on schedule from hip surgery.
E. Kurt Rambis and David Kahn get over whatever problems they had with Kevin Love last season, and Love is allowed to be on the floor and become the player everyone else believes he is.
F. Darko Milicic actually was worth five years and $20 million, and alongside Love makes for a stout front court.
G. The triangle, one of the more complex and difficult systems to run, which has only been successful for two teams under one coach with the best or second best player in the league at all times, magically works for a lottery team lacking in both veteran smarts and talent.
H. Mike Beasley really was just misunderstood.

That's a lot that needs to go right. Wolves fans tend to think the media picks on them because of their market. As a proponent of small markets, I'm here to say that's not the case. It's because this team is bad. It was built badly, with bad contracts for bad players, with a bad system for its personnel, and it needs significant upgrades at nearly every position and at multiple depth levels in order to make itself right. The Wolves could come together and shove it in the faces of all the doubters. But until we see the actual manifestation of all the supposed potential the roster holds, your Minnesota Timberwolves are expected to be the worst team in the NBA this season.


Posted on: August 2, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2010 5:35 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Atlantic Division

Posted by Matt Moore

With only a handful of free agents left on the market and with summer league over, we thought we'd take a look at how teams in the Central Division did over the summer in negotiating their moves.


 

Boston Celtics

Added: Ray Allen (re-signed), Paul Pierce (re-signed), Marquis Daniels (re-signed), Jermaine O'Neal (free agency), Nate Robinson (re-signed), Von Wafer (free agency), Avery Bradley (draft), Luke Harangody (draft)
Lost: Tony Allen (free agency), Shelden Williams (free agency)

Philosophy: "Ain't broke. Ain't fixing."

We thought they were too old to win last year, and they pushed the Lakers to seven games, and had a lead deep in the second half. Shows what we know. So the Celtics have rolled the dice with the same core again, another year older, another year slower, another year wiser, and for all intents and purposes, have changed almost nothing about their approach in a year.

Sure, adding Jermaine O'Neal gives them a fourth big to slot in, and will give Kendrick Perkins the time he needs to recover from surgery. But after dancing with the idea of trading Ray Allen, the Celtics re-signed the sharpshooter, gave Paul Pierce a new contract and for better or worse, have decided this is the ship they're going to sea with. It's had a ton of success, and obviously they feel that if they were able to go as deep as they did this year, there's no reason to believe they can't do the same this year.

The critics will add that Chicago, New York, and most especially Miami improved, but the Celtics will respond by saying those teams haven't proven anything. There's only one team that matters to Boston, and that team has the ring. Until then, they will consider the rest of the East nothing but pretenders. As long as they stay healthy, they have that right.

Grade: B

New Jersey Nets

Added: Derrick Favors (draft), Damion James (draft), Anthony Morrow (free agency), Jordan Farmar (free agency), Travis Outlaw (free agency), Johan Petro (free agency)
Lost: Tony Battie (free agency), Keyon Dooling (free agency)

Philosophy: "In search of the meaning of Plan B'"

Man, what a letdown. They thought they had a shot at it all. Drafting John Wall. Signing his good friend, LeBron James. Building an empire in Brooklyn. Capitalizing on new owner Mikhail Prokhorov's wealth and power, minority owner Jay-Z's fame, and LeBron's game. It was all set up perfectly. And then one series of disasters after another occurred, and the Nets fell flat. Didn't even walk out with Carlos Boozer. Whiffed on every single one of the top flank free agents.

Don't get me wrong, Anthony Morrow is the steal of the summer. Great shooter, has upside, physical tools to be a better defender than he was in Golden State (like every Warrior). But Jordan Farmar means almost nothing to them. Derrick Favors is so raw he comes with a side of wasabi and ginger, and Johan Petro is... Johan Petro. Even with Travis Outlaw it's hard to see a plan in place, much less the execution of that plan. This team won't be as bad as it was last year, because it's almost impossible for them to. But it's hard to see them being much better.

Grade: F

New York Knicks


Added: Amar'e Stoudemire (sign-and-trade), Raymond Felton (free agency), Kelenna Azubuike (trade), Anthony Randolph (trade, Ronny Turiaf (trade), Timofey Mozgov (free agency), Andy Rautins (draft), Landry Fields (draft), Jerome Jordan (draft)
Lost: Chris Duhon (free agency), Al Harrington (free agency), Eddie House (free agency), Sergio Rodriguez (free agency), David Lee (sign-and-trade)

Philosophy: "Express yourself."

Stylin' and profilin', the Knicks are coming to town. This isn't the super-team Knicks fans hoped for, not even the contending team many expected given their cap space and market availability. In the end, the damage done by Isiah Thomas was just too severe (and sending him as your final LeBron pitcher? What's up with that?) But the Knicks' failures to land one of the Big 3 did mean they were able to concoct this roster, which is inconsistent, underdeveloped, and absolutely 100% interesting.

The idea of an Anthony Randolph-Amar'e Stoudemire pick and roll set is enough to send nouveau basketball philosophers into some sort of apoplectic shock. Meanwhile, Kelenna Azubuike gives D'Antoni the shooter he's been missing, and Turiaf brings some punch. This roster isn't perfect, far from it, but it's stocked with interesting, fun players, who can get up and down in D'Antoni's system. New York basketball may not be contending again, but it's going to be interesting. And that's enough to give Knicks fans what they want, to be relevant again. The real rebuilding starts here, and it's all around Amar'e Stoudemire. We're finally going to learn just how good Stoudemire is without Steve Nash.

Grade: B

Philadelphia 76ers


Added: Evan Turner (draft), Tony Battie (free agency), Spencer Hawes (trade), Andres Nocioni (trade)

Lost:
Samuel Dalembert (trade)

Philosophy:
"Making fusion with carwrecks."

If Evan Turner isn't a Top-5 player in the NBA in five years, this year looks way worse. Switching coaches, the Sixers still held back from a complete blow-up, not moving Andre Iguodala or Elton Brand over the offseason. Brand's value is non-existent, but he's going to have to go if the team wants to completely start over. Meanwhile, Ed Stefanski changed coaches to Doug Collins, who's been broadcasting for quite a while, and traded Samuel Dalembert for Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni, or "the Big White Cap Blanket." The Sixers may have hit a home run when they lucked into the No.2 overall pick in Turner, but if the lack of explosiveness he showed in summer league is more than just a lack of offseason conditioning, things could get worse before they get better in Philly.

Grade: C

Toronto Raptors


Added:   Ed Davis (draft), Solomon Alabi (draft), Linas Kleiza (free-agency), Amir Johnson (re-signed), Leandro Barbosa (trade), Dwayne Jones (draft)
Lost:   Chris Bosh (sign-and-trade), Antoine Wright (free agency), Hedo Turkoglu (trade)

Philosophy:
"No way out."

The temptation will be to grade Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors organization for the mistakes of last summer, which came to hurt them last season and this summer. But that's not our goal here. Losing Bosh was a foregone conclusion, but they still have to take a hit for failing to convince him to stay, no matter how hard that would have been. But after that, Colangelo at least made the move that you have to make when faced with the destruction of everything you've worked for: set fire to the remains and collect the insurance. They traded Hedo Turkoglu and his massive new contract for short term contracts, and managed to get long-term assets in draft picks and trade exceptions from Miami for Bosh. They are committed to starting over, and though the money handed out to Kleiza and Johnson is not chump change, there's still a plan in place.

Expect for the rest of the Raptors to be moved to whatever degree they can be, while the team sees if it can rebuild around DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems, who seem to hold a lot of potential under the radar. Colangelo did not take on massive contracts of a subpar free agent outside of Kleiza's swallowable deal, and the Raptors have flexibility to make the most of their future.

The only question is if Bryan Colangelo will be around to be a part of that future.




 
 
 
 
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