Tag:Indiana Pacers
Posted on: December 16, 2011 3:17 pm
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Friday 5 with KB: The weird week that was

By Matt Moore



In this week's edition of 
the Friday 5, we go over the insanity of the week that was, the best value signing of free agency, and why you should be very, very scared of the Mavericks. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS

1. So... that was a fun week. What surprised you the most over the past week?

KB: Undoubtedly, it was how involved Stern and the league office were in the Hornets' trade discussions. Ultimately, I believe the Hornets got a better deal as a result. But I was stunned by the role the league took on. It had been my impression that the league would advise on certain priorities for trading Chris Paul, but I never envisioned that the commissioner would be telling the Hornets' basketball people what to do -- or that Stu Jackson would be the architect of the eventual deal. All's well that ends well, I guess. But I definitely found that surprising.

2. What's next for the league with the Hornets? When are they going to start looking at buyers?

KB: Stern said there would be a new owner in place in the first half of 2012, so they're moving fast. Clearly, there must be a list of contenders, and they'll evidently begin narrowing it down after the New Year.

3. Give me your best value signing of free agency. 

KB: It's hard not to like what the Pacers did, getting David West for $20 million over two years. Indy has a nice group with West, Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger, Paul George and George Hill/Darren Collison.

4. So Dwight Howard's off the table. Let's indulge in fairy tales for a minute and ask the question, what could Orlando do between now and All-Star Weekend to convince him to stay?

KB: Well, the hope in Orlando is that a good start over the first two months of the season, with an expressed willingness to add another significant component to the roster, would appeal to the part of Dwight that, deep down, wants to stay. I'm not convinced that's going to work, simply because I'm not sold that the Magic have enough to be a title contender. (I'm puzzled by the Glen Davis addition, for example, but I'm told that's what Dwight wanted.) I suppose one thing they could do is just give the ball to Dwight every trip down the floor from Christmas Day until the All-Star break and hope everyone else is too tired and beat up from the compressed schedule to guard him. Having said all that, I do not expect Howard to finish the season in Orlando.

5. What in the name of everything holy is Dallas doing? 

KB: That's easy. They're trying to get Deron Williams, Dwight Howard or BOTH. Getting both will be difficult, but the Mavs already are projected to be at least $18 million under the cap next summer, and if they bought out Lamar Odom ($2.4 million guaranteed) and amnestied Brendan Haywood, that's another $14 million. Scared? You should be. Just imagine how the Nets and Magic feel. 

Posted on: December 13, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 3:45 pm
 

Report: Lakers sign Josh McRoberts to 2-year deal

Posted by Ben Golliverjosh-mcroberts

The NBA's game of "power forward musical chairs" continued on Tuesday.

Yahoo Sports reports that Indiana Pacers power forward Josh McRoberts has signed a 2-year deal for $3 million per year with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers, who are in the luxury tax, used their mini-Mid-Level Exception to complete the signing.

McRoberts helps fill the hole created when Lamar Odom requested a trade from the Lakers this past weekend and was promptly dealt to the Dallas Mavericks. Indiana, meanwhile, also agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent forward David West, rendering McRoberts extraneous.

Over the past few days, rumors circulated that Indiana would trade McRoberts to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for guard O.J. Mayo, but clearly the Duke University product found a better option.

Given Odom's departure, much will be asked of McRoberts, who brings with him a good motor and fairly solid skills. Aside from top-flight starters Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the Lakers' frontcourt is pretty barren, and McRoberts should serve as a cost-effective, reliable hole-plugger in that regard. Still, he's a massive downgrade from Odom, one of the league's most versatile and talented stretch fours.

McRoberts, 24, was a second round pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2007 NBA Draft but was traded to the Pacers on the night of the 2008 NBA Draft along with forward Brandon Rush in a deal that sent guard Jerryd Bayless to Portland. McRoberts averaged 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds for the Pacers in 2010-2011, both career-highs. He started 51 games for Indiana last season.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 11:44 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 6:13 pm
 

Chris Paul Rumor Tracker 12.8.11: Paul to Lakers?



By EOB staff

So there's kind of a lot going on right now in terms of Chris Paul. It's extremely likely that he'll still be a Hornet when camp starts Friday, and very likely that he'll still be one when the season starts on December 25th. But there has been such a deafening cacophony of intelligence (or absence thereof, depending on your view of the media) regarding who is in the Hunt for Paul, that we need to keep an eye on things.

Yahoo Sports reports Chris Paul to the Lakers

Ken Berger confirms a Yahoo Sports report that the Hornets have begun informing teams they are sending Chris Paul to the Lakers for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in a straight-up deal. 
More on this as it develops. 

Hornets still exploring Celtics offer, might go without third team

Yahoo Sports reports that the Hornets are starting to get past the idea of needing to bring in Indiana for a three-way deal with Boston and are instead exploring the idea of going straight up and taking the Celtics' offer of Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green via sign-and-trade, and the Clippers first-rounder. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that a possible hang-up would be Jeff Green having to agree to the deal, which he may not if he's going to what would certainly seem to be a lottery team. It would be a great deal for the Celtics. For the Hornets, everything would come down to how that Clippers pick worked out, but at least they get two young above-average players and a quality pick, which is more than they would pull from the Lakers or in the three-way with Houston.

Speaking of, David Aldridge of TNT/NBA.com reports more details. The Rockets would send Martin and Scola (as outlined below), along with Goran Dragic and multiple first and second round picks. That's quite a haul. But considering the age of the two bigger names in the deal (31 and 28 for Scola and Martin respectively), the question is if the Hornets want to stay in the playoff race right now to ensure ticket sales and to stay competitive, or go young. The Hornets are still looking for the perfect deal, or at least the best one, and as of yet, that deal has not come available. 

Lakers looking at a three-way deal with Houston to bring CP3 to L.A.?

2:19 p.m. -- Could the Lakers and Celtics be going head-to-head for Chris Paul now? Accoding to SI.com, the Lakers, Hornets and Rockets are engaged in a three-way deal that would send Paul to Los Angeles.

We've heard this story before, but getting a third team involved is interesting. And what do the Rockets have to gain by jumping in? The Lakers have the pieces needed, I'd think, to pull off a trade with New Orleans. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom -- those are serious pieces. But Houston could ramp it up with extra picks and assets which could make this a very real scenario.

According to Yahoo! Sports
and confirmed by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, some of the names being floated in this deal are Paul to L.A., Pau Gasol to Houston and Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and picks to New Orleans. That right there, is a blockbuster deal.

And if the Lakers were to manage this, they could conceivably put together a deal using Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom to acquire Dwight Howard. It really is possible. Scary thoughts right there. -- Royce Young

Celtics back in the mix for CP3?

11:33 a.m. -- The Celtics are back in the action. Yahoo! Sports reports that with the Clippers and Warriors both unwilling to give up players who are not as good as Chris Paul (Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon) to get Chris Paul due to fear he will depart in free agency, the Celtics have re-emerged as a viable candidate despite Paul's reluctance to be traded there or sign long-term. It should be noted that the current reticence by both Golden State and Los Angeles completely overlooks the fact that under the new CBA, there is literally no financial incentive for Paul to sign an extension versus entering free agency and re-signing with their team once they prove they can win. And if they don't win, then the experiment is a failure and it's time to start over anyway. Considering both franchises won a combined 68 games last year, it's a bit odd. But the fear of a true rebuild is too devastating for them. Now on to the Celtics.

The Celtics situation goes something like this. Being Boston, they don't have the same fears as most franchises do in regards to players abandoning them. If they can win the title, then have the cap space in 2012 to make a run at Dwight Howard, that might be what it takes to sway Paul's mind and convince him to stay, so the risk would be worth the reward in trading for him without an extension or assurances he'll re-sign. Yahoo! reports a deal being offered involves a three-way-swap with Indiana, in which the Pacers get Rajon Rondo who the Hornets aren't gaga over, and the Hornets get Darren Collison, who they traded in 2010 to Indiana, back, along with Tyler Hansbrough, Brandon Rush, and draft picks. The Hornets want Danny Granger, but there's no indication if Indiana is open to that deal, despite Granger having been on the block for years. That's an awful lot for the Pacers to give up just to get Rajon Rondo, despite Rondo being one of the best point guards in the league. In short, he's not Chris Paul. 

Meanwhile, a small note in the Yahoo! report says Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul have spoken by phone this week as the Lakers continue to try and land the ultimate coup of both Paul and Dwight Howard as well. So the heavy hitters are very much in the room on this.

The Boston Herald reports that a source close to Paul says the Celtics' window is too short, having only one year of contention. But if the Celtics were to immediately land Dwight Howard in free agency, that might convince Paul to re-sign, especially with the lure of the extra year available to the Celtics under the new CBA. Other teams would only be able to offer a four-year deal, vs. Boston's five. That might add even more incentive for the Lakers to pull of a trade for Howard, since it would block Boston from being able to put the two together, as well as, you know, giving the Lakers the best center in the league. 

ESPN.com reports that the Lakers are offering Pau Gasol as the centerpiece of any deal, while wanting to keep their best asset, Andrew Bynum, as a trade chip to attempt to acquire Howard. Gasol is 31 with three years and $57 million left on his deal, so it's hard to see the Hornets opting to take in Gasol, which would leave the Lakers trying to pull in a third team to make a deal with. 

Finally, the Knicks are reportedly seeking a third and/or fourth team to try and trade for Paul but aren't having much luck. Isiah Thomas' involvement in the Melo saga last year is the gift that keeps on giving. 

We've joked about it before, we'll joke about it again. Like the owers said, this new CBA that cost the league 16 games will help improve competitive balance... for the top five teams in the league on both coasts.  -- Matt Moore
Posted on: November 30, 2011 9:38 am
Edited on: November 30, 2011 10:56 am
 

Report: Pacers and Celtics talk Rondo swap

By Matt Moore 

This is starting to get out of hand. Teams are officially allowed to contact agents only starting Wednesday (though they've been talking back-channel for days), and already the rumor mill is spiraling out of control at full speed. On Tuesday it was the Lakers wanting to pursue Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, the Celtics wanting Paul, whether or not the Knicks can pull off grabbing Paul, the Nets pursuing Dwight Howard via trade. And now we can throw another one on the fire.

The Celtics are serious about getting Chris Paul. And since their straight-up offers didn't work, they're now trying to acquire pieces the Hornets do want in order to turn around and move for Paul. Boston's biggest trade chip is Rajon Rondo, and suddenly the new team interested in acquiring the All-Star point guard is... the Indiana Pacers

From Yahoo Sports:  
As Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge aggressively pursues possible deals for Rajon Rondonotes, the Indiana Pacers have emerged as an intriguing suitor for the point guard, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

For the past few days, Pacers officials – and third-party surrogates – have been making calls and gathering information and insight into Rondo’s reputation as a teammate and leader, sources said.

The Pacers and Celtics have discussed the preliminary framework of a deal, but two sources said Indiana would need a third team to provide Boston with the talent it wants to do a deal. The Celtics are likely trying to gather the necessary pieces to make a bid for Ainge’s ultimate target: New Orleans point guard Chris Paulnotes, sources said.
via Pacers talk with Celtics about Rondo deal - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

Um... what? 

The Pacers are not kidding about wanting to upgrade and make a run. Darren Collison is a young, versatile point guard with a world of upside and ability, who coincidentally (or not) learned under Chris Paul his rookie season. But Rondo is obviously an upgrade. The Pacers have Danny Granger to move as well, who has been on the block for years. A young center in Roy Hibbert, their own picks to move, and Paul George are also among the assets the Pacers have to offer in some combination for the mercurial Rondo.

The Pacers may have a package of assets the Celtics would want, or more accurately, the Hornets would want. But for this to go anywhere, the Hornets have to be open to the trade of Chris Paul, and there's been no indication that's the case. Dell Demps and Monty Williams will have to establish whthe they're willing to give up on the franchise player and if so, at what price. 

But it's painfully clear that the Pacers want to upgrade, and that the Celtics want Paul. Training camp hasn't even started and already the player movement talks are running in the red.
Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:30 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 2:54 pm
 

Pacers exploring trade and free agency

By Matt Moore 

The Indiana Pacers are coming off of fascinating season. They started off hot as fire, then cratered a bit. Jim O'Brien was fired, and then interim coach Frank Vogel took them to the playoffs, where they had as competitive a five-game series against the Bulls as a five-game series can be. So they're looking to upgrade the team and make a run, right now. They brought in George Hill through trade, and now are looking for more additions. 

The Indianapolis Star mentons a pretty intriguing option through trade: Paul Millsap
The Pacers talked to the Utah Jazz about forward Paul Milsap prior to the draft. Expect them to make a phone call to the Jazz again. The 26-year-old Milsap, a Pacer killer in the past, averaged a career-high 17 points last season.
via Mike Wells: A look at players the Pacers might pursue | The Indianapolis Star | indystar.com.

Millsap would make for the power forward the Pacers are looking for in free agency through David West or Nene. If they were to trade Roy Hibbert as part of the package, thiy could sign Nene, then add Millsap making one of the better front courts in the Eastern Conference, along with Danny Granger. The Pacers are clearly looking to enter the conference race right now, instead of waiting to see their young pieces develop. 

The question is, what's the objective? Can the Pacers win a title with Danny Granger as their best player? They've put together an interesting, fast, young team that can defend at one end, hit from the perimeter, and get out in transition. But do they have a team that could get hot and go on an unpredictable run to the title? OK, it wouldn't be unpredictable if we could answer that. But the point is that the Pacers are loading up for what is likely a team whose ceiling is the second round. 

Have to try something, I guess. The Pacers surprised people last season. If they spend wisely, and that's a big if, they could do the same this year with heightened expectations.
Posted on: November 21, 2011 4:41 pm
 

T.J. Ford signs in Croatia

By Matt Moore 

T.J. Ford has had a downright bizarre career. Slow start in Milwaukee, then exploded in Toronto, including a very efficient 20+ PER in 2007-2008. But he has never managed to be the starting point guard teams look to, never has been able to put it all together. Regardless, the former Longhorn has enough cache to land himself an overseas deal, as ESPN reports: 
Indiana Pacers free-agent guard T.J. Ford is headed to Croatia to join KK Zagreb while the NBA lockout drags on.

After playing in a charity game Sunday night in his native Houston organized by John Lucas and son John Lucas III from the Chicago Bulls, Ford told ESPN.com that he's headed to Croatia to join a team that also employs former Charlotte Bobcats lottery pick Sean May.

The deal includes an out to return to the NBA if the lockout ends.
via T.J. Ford of Indiana Pacers will play in Croatia for KK Zagreb during lockout - ESPN.

Ford was squeezed about by the Pacers' backcourt renovation last year in bringing in Darren Collison and averaged career lows in every category, with his shooting percentage plummeting to 39 percent. He'll be a free agent when/if the season resumes, and his future's very much in doubt. But getting a gig now is better than waiting when many NBA players will likely start snatching up gigs.

Ford is just 28.  
Posted on: November 18, 2011 7:02 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 9:19 pm
 

Granger: Blame David Stern for damage to NBA

Posted by Ben Golliverdanny-granger-small

We're well into the fifth month of the the NBA lockout with no end in sight. If you're not blaming NBA commissioner David Stern by now, either your name is Adam Silver or you just don't care about American professional basketball.

You can add Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger to the long, long, long list of people who believe Stern is responsible for causing harm to his own league by mishandling the ongoing labor negotiations.

In an interview with NBC SportsTalk, Granger, formerly the Pacers' player representative to the union, points the finger squarely at Stern.
"Definitely let a little upset about it. David Stern, to his credit, he has grown the NBA. But as far as with the negotiations and where they have went in the last six or eight months, I don't think he's done a good job of conveying to the owners what's the most important thing for an NBA team, for an NBA season. And, for the NBA as a whole organization, the lockout has really damaged the game. How much, I don't think we know yet, but we'll find out. As commissioner, I just don't think he should have let it get that far, to the point where it is right now." 
As commissioner, Stern is paid to take these lumps. Granger's criticism is more than fair, and it represents a sentiment that's surely shared by thousands of fans across the country. Stern is the boss, this is going down on his watch, and the buck stops with him. He is expected to be the answer, not part of the problem. 

Granger makes a key assumption though. His statements imply that Stern had the power and influence over a majority of the league's owners to save a full 82-game season if he simply put his mind to it or thought that approach was prudent. We would all assume, from a distance, that a league's commissioner would want his league to play its scheduled games, but the more we learn about the hard-line ownership contingent the more we realize that overhauling the league's financial system is a much higher priority than saving an 82-game season and, potentially, even playing a season at all this year.  

It's quite possible that Stern wants games just as badly as Granger. It's quite possible that he fears the potential damage to the league even more than Granger does. So if we are going to blame Stern, let's blame him for the right reasons. 

Let's blame him for reportedly making promises of profitability to owners that recently bought into the league. Let's blame him for agreeing to the last collective bargaining agreement which allegedly created a league that couldn't produce profits despite record revenues. Let's blame him for being unable to build and hold a consensus among his owners. Let's blame him for still failing to communicate the league's revenue sharing goals and philosophies clearly. Let's blame him for ratcheting up the ugly rhetoric. Let's blame him for waging a personal war of words with union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler. Let's blame him for delaying the beginning of true negotiations until way too late in the game. Let's blame him for calling in sick earlier this fall on a day when negotiations blew up. Let's blame him for each and every ultimatum and threat he's made. Let's blame him for making offers and then taking them off the table. Let's blame him for trying to shift the blame to agents. Let's blame him for repeatedly talking down to the players.

But let's stop short of blaming him alone for the damage that is being done to the NBA. For sure, there is blood on his hands, lots of it. But this has spun out of his control; he can't solve this by himself. In the end, let's settle for blaming him for not swallowing his immense pride right now so that he can proactively do his part to fashion a solution. There's still time, after all, to make the damage done to the league a thing of the past.
Posted on: September 16, 2011 12:57 am
Edited on: September 16, 2011 1:16 am
 

Las Vegas 'Lockout League' Week 1 notebook

Posted by Ben Golliver

impact-basketball

Thursday night marked the end of Week 1 of the Las Vegas "Lockout League" at Impact Basketball. The fourth day of games was probably the week's most spirited, with some new faces upping the talent level and some technical fouls and trash talk livening up the week-long basketball marathon. Here's a quick look back at the week that was and a recap of the day's highlights.

Telfair eyes contender

At 26, Sebastian Telfair is now a decade removed from being one of the most hyped high school players of all time. His superstar trajectory never materiaized;  Telfair just concluded his seventh NBA season, has yet to make a single playoff appearance and has only played in more than 60 games once in the last four years. A free agent, Telfair hopes all that changes next season.

"I sure do have a list of teams in my mind," Telfair said. "Those teams being one of the teams to make a run for a championship or the teams that are fighting every year for a championship. Seeing Dallas win a championship, congratulations to them, but I'm jealous. I'm extremely jealous. Dallas is definitely on my list. They've got the gold right now. It's not a bad thing in this league to want to go where the gold is. If you can compete and help the team win a championship, that's one of the main focuses in the NBA.

Aside from the Mavericks, Telfair clammed up a little bit as to who was on his radar. "The obvious teams," he finally allowed. "I won't say any teams in particular, but the obvious teams."

Asked what he would bring to a championship contender at this stage of his career, Telfair didn't hesitate or elaborate: "I bring myself. I bring Sebastian Telfair."

Dudley addresses low turnout 

As noted earlier Thursday, only 35 to 40 players attended the National Basketball Players Association regional meeting at the Vdara Hotel. That was roughly half of estimates offered earlier in the week. Phoenix Suns guard Jared Dudley said people shouldn't rush to conclude that the low turnout number represents dissension, disinterest or disunity among the players.

"To me, does it matter? You can spin it that way. At the end of the day, I wasn't in a couple of the meetings in New York. Does that mean I'm not unified? I think that would be wrong to write that. At the end of the day, we all have to write papers, we all have to write stuff."

Modest, but worthwhile, improvements

There is plenty of good news for those considering checking out the "Lockout League" play next week. First, there are plenty of tickets available. Second, Impact Basketball has shown itself to be very flexible in making improvements to the series.

On Thursday, Impact added an in-game emcee to help narrate the action. This is a particularly fan-friendly addition because the players are playing in jerseys that do not bear their names and sometimes rotate from team to team throughout the week. There's also no large scoreboard or video replay, so it can get a bit confusing keeping track of everyone, especially for the non-diehards. Many of the players in attendance are not particularly recognizable or well-known, either, so the emcee was a thoughtful improvement. 

On Wednesday, Impact also cut back from four games per day to three games per day. While you might think at first that this would be less basketball for your money, the move actually improved the games considerably. Less was more here. The change allowed the games to be standardized to 10-minute quarters and rosters were condensed so that each team had seven or eight players instead of the five-a-side that was the norm during the four games per day earlier in the week. That meant each player could go harder, each guy could get breathers if necessary and the threat of a single injury stopping play was no longer a problem. Perhaps most importantly, it cut down on the total number of hours a fan would need to devote to seeing all the best players play. Instead of being in the gym from 1:30 p.m.to 9:30 p.m., fans could leave closer to 7:30 p.m. 

The new presence of bigger-name players like Al Harrington, Stephen Curry and Rudy Gay (who watched from the sideline) on Thursday didn't hurt either.

Hijinks 

In this no-frills environment there was bound to be edgier player behavior. Profanity from the court and from the pre-game soundtrack was the norm at Impact; the sterilization that you find at the NBA in that regard was not present. 

With only a few exceptions, the players, who were not forced by anyone to conduct interviews or interact with media or fans, were thoughtful and kind on and off the court. Of course, the exceptions are far more entertaining than the rule, so here are a few highlights.

Melvin Ely, who is reportedly heading to China, crumpled to the ground after taking a blow to his face. In some fairly serious pain, Ely was escorted to a training area away from the court, where he was attended to by medical personnel. On his way there, though, he took a quick detour to upend a large gatorade bucket in frustration, crashing the contents behind one of the team's benches. Players chuckled and media members raised their eyebrows.

On Thursday, Denver Nuggets forward Al Harrington made his debut with a bang, earning two technical fouls in one game for disputing calls. The first time, he merely shouted at one of the referees; the second time, he chucked a ball so far off the court it hit a brick wall some 20 or 30 feet behind one of the baskets. Harrington was not ejected after receiving his second technical, although free throws were awarded on both violations.

The best trash talk exchange of the week occurred on Thursday, when Indiana Pacers forward Dahntay Jones and Detroit Pistons forward Austin Daye got into an entertaining back-and-forth. Jones, as you might expect, was the Impact Basketball king of the hard foul, sending player after player crashing to the hardwood in an effort to prevent lay-ups. He also was quick to chat too.

Daye found himself arguing a call while waiting to rebound a free throw attempt. Jones, who was in the backcourt, piped up to let Daye know that he was "soft" and that he should end his argument. Daye, an exceptionally skinny man for an NBA player, took real exception to Jones' label, raising his arms up to gesture towards the media section located behind the basket.

"You've got the worst game in here, ask any of them," Daye told Jones twice. Jones responded by mocking Daye's arm motions and sarcastically mimicking his aggravated tone. Play eventually resumed. 

'When you work out with guys for three or four months," Dudley explained, "they get under your skin. You're tired, you want to go home."

Top scorer

Houston Rockets guard Kyle Lowry had the high point scoring game of the week, notching 56 points in a heated Thursday contest.
 
Team play

Probably the most entertaining team to watch was a late-arriving Golden State Warriors crew that made its debut on Thursday. Curry, David Lee, Jeremy Lin, Ekpe Udoh, Jeremy Tyler, Klay Thompson, Lou Amundson, Charles Jenkins and Dorell Wright all got some run in. There were so many Warriors they actually had to be split up into two squads. What was great about Golden State was that you could see real chemistry at work rather than the slapped together teamwork that you usually see in summer exhibitions. Lots of communication and instruction. Lee hollered across the court at Lin, instructing him to stay in the weakside corner and serve as an outlet whenever he drew interior defenders on a drive. Thompson got a feel for establishing an inside-outside game with Lee, and lit it up from deep, draining jumper after jumper. 

Undersized Thomas feels he has a leg up 

Of the incoming rookie class of 2011, Isaiah Thomas, the draft's final pick by the Sacramento Kings, stood out for how comfortable he looked against more seasoned competition. Thomas is an undersized scoring guard who will struggle to defend at the NBA level. But he's also exceedingly quick, confident and able to create his own shot, a nice combination for a reserve, change of pace guard.

Thomas said he fit in right away at Impact because of his previous experience playing against professional players in Seattle, where he attended the University of Washington. 

"It's a blessing because not everybody in my position has that [experience]," Thomas said. "We've got guys like Brandon Roy, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson and the list goes on. Jason Terry. They really look out for the younger guys, the guy like Brandon Roy is such a great guy, he gives me input before games, after games, even when we workout together up in Seattle. He's a great guy and I learn from things like that.

He said he feels like he has a leg up on many other rookies in his position, both on and off the court, because of that guidance.

"It makes the transition smoother. Every guy up in Seattle has been through the situation I'm about to go through, but in different ways. If I can ask them about practice is going, what to expect, what's the business side of things. They all got different input, I take that all in. They are just trying to help, they are never going to steer me in the wrong direction."

As the last man selected in the draft and with a nonguaranteed contract likely in his future, Thomas realizes he will have to get in where he fits in with the Kings. "Play hard, play every possession like it's my last," Thomas explained. "Do whatever that want me to do. Score, get others involved, get on loose balls, play defense, I just want to play. After the draft, the Kings said, 'Keep doing what you're doing. We're excited when the time comes.'"
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com