Posted on: January 27, 2012 11:30 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 5:24 pm
By Matt Moore
In this week's edition of the Friday 5, we look back on extensions week, ask if the Celtics are back, and of course, check in on Dwight Howard. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS.
1. After two games between Orlando and Boston this week, is Boston "back?"
Ken Berger: I still think they're going to be OK. What a difference when Pierce has it going. He's clearly getting his confidence back. What happened Thursday night was as much about the Magic's fragility as it was about the Celtics' resilience. But to come back like that on the road, without Rondo or Allen, is a great sign for Boston. The Celtics' bench is still way too thin, and they don't have enough size. But one thing they need more than anything is some young legs and youthful exuberance, not to mention those attributes coming with meaningful contributions. They got that Thursday night from E'Twaun Moore. A much needed jolt for Boston's elders.
2. What extension decision, signed or unsigned, surprised you the most?
Ken Berger: I don't know that any surprised me, but the most interesting case was Eric Gordon. Given his knee situation, it's difficult to make a largely unnecessary long-term commitment now. But clearly the Hornets can't afford to lose the most significant asset they received in the Chris Paul trade. But much like Kevin Love's shorter extension with Minnesota, this arrangement could work out in Gordon's favor. If he comes back healthy and continues to put up big numbers, he'll command a bigger deal as a restricted free agent. And New Orleans knows they control the situation because they can match.
3. The Pacers have an interest in Eric Gordon. With his future in the air, is there any chance teams make a run at him in trade at the deadline?
Ken Berger: It would be logical for Gordon, the IU product, to wind up only a short drive from Bloomington. But I don't expect the Hornets to entertain in-season trade offers for him. There's no reason to panic since they have the right to match next summer.
4. We hear a lot about the Magic waiting to make a decision on Dwight Howard. But how about the Lakers? Are they going to give this team a chance to gel or will they pounce at the first opportunity for improvement?
Ken Berger: It always depends on the deal. If Howard can be had for a price that's less than Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, then the dialogue could catch fire pretty quickly. But unless Orlando completely goes in the tank -- and they haven't been playing well lately -- I see no signs that Otis Smith and Alex Martins are going to consider anything less than an all-out blockbuster offer for Howard. There's one caveat: If the realization of losing Howard for nothing hits the Magic organization like a freight train on March 14, it's impossible to predict now how they'll react.
5. Explain why the Minnesota Timberwolves not signing Kevin Love for as many years as possible is in any way a good decision on their part, please.
Ken Berger: I got into this in Postups yesterday. Basically, it's a good deal for both sides. Love has three years to determine if the Wolves are, in fact, going in the right direction. The Wolves, in turn, get to preserve their five-year designated player extension for Ricky Rubio. But Minnesota also will be able to get Love on a five-year extension after he opts out of the fourth year of this deal. And Love will get more money, too. With seven-plus years of service at that point, he'd be eligible for 30 percent of the cap.
Posted on: January 27, 2012 10:34 am
The circumstances were pretty complex Thursday night. The Orlando Magic blew a 27-point lead, at home, to the Boston Celtics, who had come up as a new possible landing place for Dwight Howard. So while one regular season win or loss is not going to sway Howard one way or the other, it's definitely not the message you want to send if you're Orlando trying to keep the most dominant center in the league playing in your laundry. Especially when afterwards he says things like this, from the Orlando Sentinel:
Howard intimated that teammates didn’t stick to their roles Thursday night’s loss to Boston.via Dwight Howard calls out teammates to “change” – Orlando Magic BasketBlog – Orlando Sentinel.
This isn't anything new. Howard, like a lot of stars, is often critical of his team after a particularly bad loss. It just doesn't come at a great time with his impending free agency hanging over the Magic, just hours after he told reporters he'd answer a call from the Celtics about acquiring him.
Howard has told reporters in the past that not having his input weighted more heavily by the front office is part of his decision to ask for a trade. When Howard says the Magic have to "change," he probably has some ideas about how that change should occur. The Magic's fate with regards to Howard has been sealed for months. But Thursday night certainly didn't help.
Posted on: January 26, 2012 11:56 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 1:03 am
Posted by Matt Moore
Your nightly report card wraps up the performances of the NBA night and provides grades on a curve. The Magic blew a 27-point lead to lose at home to the Boston Celtics, who were without Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen. The loss comes just days after the Magic only scored 56 points to the Celtics in Boston.
Boston CelticsIf the Celtics aren't back, they're doing an impressive job of faking it. The Magic had more to do with the collapse, but make no mistake, Boston earned this one after a terrible first half. Their second-half effort was dominant in classic Celtics style. They cut off all passing lanes, challenged each shot, and attacked the ball handler at every turn. E'Twuan Moore scored 16 points, while Kevin Garnett repeatedly found his 18 footer open and shut down Dwight Howard. The first half it looked like the Celtics were still the useless club they've been for much of this season. But these two performances against Orlando show they can still win a playoff series. Especially if it's against Orlando.
Stan Van GundySurrendered a 27-point comeback at home to a conference rival that was without its starting backcourt and has struggled the entire season with age and speed.
Dwight HowardSurrendered a 27-point comeback at home to a conference rival that was without its starting backcourt and has struggled the entire season with age and speed.
Posted on: January 26, 2012 12:10 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 12:11 pm
By Matt Moore
OK, so now all of a sudden Dwight's OK with Boston. This is getting hard to keep track of. For months, it's been assumed that Howard would not consider Boston on his list of teams to go to. Multiple reports have indicated he's expressed that he will not re-sign there if traded to the Green Team. But now there's different information... from Howard's own mouth.
And if Howard is still available — if the Magic don’t blink and move him before the March deadline — C’s president Danny Ainge will undoubtedly put in a call to Team Dwight.via Dwight Howard to Hub? - BostonHerald.com.
This does not mean that Boston is at the top of, or near the top of the list for Howard. He's made his choices pretty clear. But Boston has continually dogged him in the playoffs. Joining them would be joining an organization all about winning, who he knows will be able to build around him. He'd likely have Rajon Rondo as well, since the trade package would probably include the Big 3. The Magic have reportedly been looking for veteran players who can help them win now instead of younger players. If they want old guys, Boston's got them.
(Side note: Please try and imagine Rajon Rondo's surliness next to Dwight Howard's effusive jolliness. Unintentionally funniest duo ever.)
But Howard hasn't been all about winning. He's not targeting Chicago, which gives him the best chance to win a title. He clearly wants the money and fame that comes with Los Angeles or New York. If winning is what matters, you don't put the Nets at the top, no matter how good Deron Williams is. The Celtics are a long shot, but Howard would listen to the offer. From there it would come down to Danny Ainge and if he could pull off the sales job of his life.
Posted on: January 23, 2012 10:58 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 12:29 pm
Your nightly report grade gives you the overview of what went on in the NBA. Share your grades with us on Faceboook or Twitter.
I'm not trying to dog the Celtics by saying that the execution wasn't there. But they didn't magically get younger. They were still slower than the Magic, still weaker than the Magic. But they showed the effort and intensity that made this team a title contender for four years. And that's going to carry them a long way, especially on nights when the opponent rolls over and dies like the Magic did. Celtics are on a win streak. Are they finally back?
Gameplan. Effort. Focus. Effort. Intensity. Effort. Cohesion. Effort. Everything went wrong for the Magic Monday night, but their effort was atrocious. Jameer Nelson let second-year man Avery Bradley get into his skull and turn him over constantly. Dwight Howard was failing to keep position or even jump against Kevin Garnett's half-centimeter hook shot. Brandon Bass stole Glen Davis' lunch money and pretty much ended any conversation about who got the better end of that sign-and-trade. This was one of the most pathetic performances I've seen by an NBA team this season and I've seen the Wizards and Nets play six times each.
Emeka Okafor's game-saving block
Down two against the Hornets, San Antonio ran a picture-perfect play which resulted in Tony Parker dishing to a wide open Tiago Splitter racing down the lane for what would have been a clinching dunk. Emeka Okafor recovered weak side and blocked him. No, I'm sorry, block is too weak a word. He obliterated him. He erased him. He undid Tiago Splitter and all seven feet of him to spark the possession that would tie the game. The Hornets lost the game, but it was honestly one of the best plays of the season.
Tim Duncan's game-winning hook:
Running, across the lane, from fifteen feet, for the win, simply net. Old man can still do work. Game, folks. Drive safe.
The Washington Wizards
If this were actual school we would have told the parents the Wizards need to pursue repeating the D-League grade. They had as many assists as a team as Andre Iguodala in the first half. They lost by double-digits. They were down 30 after the first 24 minutes of play. They are bad. Still.
Philadelphia, Chicago and Oklahoma City versus garbage teams
They should have won by twenty. They won by twenty. The end.
You just... cannot kill this team. The Grizzlies stormed back from down 16 in the fourth quarter to edge the Warriors, crushing the Dubs with yet another fourth quarter loss. They needed to create steals, they created steals. They needed to hit big shots, the hit big shots (including a Rudy Gay ice-cold turnaround). They needed to make free throws to ice it, they iced it. They needed to stop Monta Ellis, Marc Gasol hedged him all the way to the corner and avoided the foul. The Grizzlies' wild ride of the past two seasons continues.
Golden State Warrirors
The 2012 Golden State Warriors. Motto? No lead is too big to lose! The irony of their biggest win being against the Heat because the Heat collasped down the stretch is just stunning.
Posted on: January 23, 2012 12:46 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 7:22 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Not all trade rumors are created equal, so with this one, I don't think much setup is needed. Via Stephen A. Smith on his ESPN Radio show in New York:
"As I told you a little bit earlier in the hour, I have some news to report about your New York Knicks. The Orlando Magic, I will preface my statement by telling you that they have categorically denied this, but my sources tell me that they have inquired about Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire going to Orlando for Dwight Howard.Forget the part about how Howard isn't seven feet tall and that he kind of sort of defends and rebounds. The question is, is this really a possibility?
This isn't exactly new news though. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com wrote a couple weeks ago multiple GMs had already floated this trade idea. Now all that's happening is evidently the two sides have actually discussed it to some degree.
Here's the thing with trade talks: I wouldn't doubt that this has been "discussed." Because a lot of GMs gauge the market by dangling trade ideas to other GMs. Kind of an effort to feel another guy out, see how much he values a player and sees if maybe eventually there could be a deal put together. Or to just see what maybe the state of a trade is to know what a competitor might have to give up.
That's my feeling of this supposed inquiry by the Knicks for Dwight Howard. I also suspect 28 other teams have "inquired" about Howard's availability too. That's kind of the thing that happens when the big big man in basketball apparently is available for the right price.
Would a Howard and Carmelo Anthony tandem do any better than an Amar'e - Melo duo? Maybe, probably, but there's really no way to know. The Knicks have bigger issues than just in adding starpower. The Knicks need depth, a point guard than can control and offense and for Carmelo Anthony to play better.
The Dwight Howard discussion is fun, but it's not realistic. And quite honestly, I think Magic GM Otis Smith is gaining confidence that Howard might just want to stick around in Orlando. I think that's the best shot to take for the Magic anyway. Discussing trades is one thing. I wouldn't be surprised if a team "inquired" about Derrick Rose last week too. Doesn't mean a deal is happening.
Posted on: January 22, 2012 6:22 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Just by judging the standings, the noise around Dwight Howard hasn't really affected the Magic's play on the floor. Orlando is 11-4 and third in the East.
But just because they are winning doesn't mean some of the players on the roster have completely tuned out the chatter. For example, Jameer Nelson hasn't forgotten when Howard said a few months ago that he'd like to play with star point guards like Deron Williams or Chris Paul. Via the Orlando Sentinel:
"I'm here to play basketball and I can't worry about what anybody says. I'm here because I'm a winner and they want me here. I know if they didn't want me, I wouldn't be here," Nelson said. "I'm human and a lot of things affect you. We're basketball players, but we're also human. A lot of the stuff that came out about other point guards being here was basically months ago, so if I was hurt, I'm over it."General manager Otis Smith agrees with Nelson and doesn't blame him for feeling a bit jilted saying that Nelson hasn't played well this season because Howard "indirectly threw him under the bus."
Nelson's numbers are pretty much down across the board, but regardless, the team is winning. But that's never really been a major problem with the Magic in the regular season. Where things have unraveled is in the postseason, where players like Nelson haven't supplemented Howard quite well enough.
But you can't blame Nelson for feeling it a bit from Howard's comments. Everyone is human and everyone wants to be wanted. So when Howard basically says openly he'd rather have another point guard rather than the guy he has, you know Nelson hears and feels that. How could you not? Yeah, everyone knows what Howard means and wants, but still, the so-called right thing to say would've been, "I'm here and these are my teammates and I'm happy to play with them." Or something like that.
Instead, Nelson has to play knowing that deep down -- or maybe not even that deep -- Howard would happily ship Nelson out of town in exchange for a point man like Paul or Williams. Has to at least be something that's in his mind.
The fact the team is winning says that the trade stuff isn't a distraction, but it has to weigh on the team to some degree. Some have to be wondering if their time in Orlando is about to be up or if their franchise cornerstone is about to be exchanged for draft picks and some new faces.
Posted on: January 20, 2012 2:23 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 2:30 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver
The Los Angeles Lakers are in Orlando to face the Magic for a nationally-televised game on Friday night, and the future Hall of Fame center who bolted Disney World for Disney Land back in the 1990s is stirring things up between his two former teams.
TNT commentator Shaquille O'Neal said recently that Lakers center Andrew Bynum -- and not Magic center Dwight Howard -- is the "best big man" in the NBA.
"Andrew Bynum is a true big man," O'Neal said. "He can back you down, jump hook. Dwight Howard has one or two moves on the block. His one move is the running jump hook and the other move is a pick and roll and get inside. Andrew Bynum has the right jump hook and the left jump hook."
O'Neal and Howard have had an ongoing back-and-forth for some time now, and Howard responded to the criticism in comments made to reporters and posted to NBA.com on Friday morning.
"He's mad about Superman," Howard said, in reference to a nickname once used by O'Neal and co-opted by Howard for the 2008 Slam Dunk Contest. "I didn't know he made it up. I didn't know Superman came from Shaquille O'Neal... He's still mad about it. I would suggest he just sit down and get on with his life. He don't play no more so what's the point of talking trash. It's not like we're wrestlers and we can battle it out. Who cares?"
Barkley called out O'Neal for picking Bynum over O'Neal based on the "Superman" nickname beef.
"That ain't got nothing to do with it," O'Neal claimed.
Of course, there's no contest. Howard, 26, averages more points, grabs more rebounds, dishes more assists, gets more steals, blocks more shots and shoots a better field goal percentage than Bynum. Howard has missed seven games in 7+ NBA seasons while Bynum has repeatedly been sidelined with injuries. Here's a statistical side-by-side if you need convincing. Howard is a 5-time All-Star, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, 4-time All-NBA first team. Bynum, 24, is having a career year and will make his first All-Star game, but his best individual achievement to this point was making the 2005 McDonald's All-American game. He's probably the league's second-best big man, but he's a distant second.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy dismissed O'Neal's comments.
"I don't really watch those guys very much. Not that I don't have tremendous respect for what they say," Van Gundy joked, "not that I'm not trying to learn from them at every opportunity, but I just don't have time really... Shaq can say whatever he wants. He has a forum where he's supposed to talk and give his opinions."