Posted on: January 12, 2012 3:02 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The first All-Star ballot returns are out and leading the entire league in votes is Dwight Howard with 754,737 votes with Kobe Bryant second with 690,613. Second in the East is LeBron James (640,789) and in the West Kevin Durant (633,538).
If the voting ended today, the East's starting five would be Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron, Carmelo Anthony and Howard. In the West it would be Chris Paul, Kobe, Durant, Blake Griffin and Andrew Bynum.
And looking over the vote totals, those starting lineups seem to be a bit set in stone, barring injury. Nobody is really all that close to catching anyone (Dirk is closest behind Griffin, and he's more than 100,000 votes back).
So, are the fans getting it right so far? Kind of looks like they are, quite honestly. Can't argue with the West too much. The one quibble I'd have is that Kevin Love has been absolutely killing it in Minnesota so far this season averaging 25-15, but he's not part of Lob City, so it's hard to see him ever topping Griffin. Same goes for LaMarcus Aldridge, who is off to a fantastic start. I'd also like to mention that Kyle Lowry has gotten off to a terrific start this season, but it's not good enough to top Paul.
In the East, there's really nothing to change. Melo isn't really a power forward, but you can fudge the All-Star rosters a bit. Rajon Rondo isn't playing better than Rose, there's no better 2 in the East than Wade and of course LeBron and Howard are the best at their positions in the entire league.
If the voting holds like this -- and it should -- we'll have a pretty accurate representation of the best in each league to start the All-Star Game. Again, I'd go with Love over Griffin, but that's not a sure thing case to make at this point. And it's not going to change anyway.
Posted on: January 10, 2012 5:57 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 6:01 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
A recent report indicated that USA Basketball is set to announce its preliminary roster for the 2012 London Olympics. The roster reportedly will include members of the 2008 Beijing Olympics team and the 2010 Turkey World Championships team.
Initially, the report indicated that the preliminary roster would be made up of 18 players, however SheridanHoops.com reports that the roster is now 19 players deep with the addition of Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Here's how the reported roster shakes out by position.
Point Guards: Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams
Shooting Guards: Kobe Bryant, Eric Gordon, Dwyane Wade
Small Forwards: Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, LeBron James, Lamar Odom
Power Forwards: LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love
Centers: Tyson Chandler, Dwight Howard
A few interesting things to note from this roster.
First, veteran point guard Billups is included rather than the younger and more talented Rajon Rondo, who withdrew from the 2010 team after it became clear he was going to be left off of the final roster. Billups is 35 and figures to be one of the seven players cut from what will be the final 12-man roster. What does Rondo's exclusion mean for his Team USA future?
Second, positional versatility and two-way play was clearly valued in this selection process. The inclusion of both Iguodala and Odom over Rudy Gay is a mild surprise but both players complement the likes of James, Durant and Anthony a bit better. Both will also have a tough time squeezing into the final 12. The only way Iguodala gets there is if someone else is injured; Odom, a standout for the 2010 team, could be one of the toughest cuts.
Third, the reported addition of Aldridge creates an intriguing frontcourt logjam, akin to the dilemma that faces Western Conference All-Star team voters. Aldridge, Griffin, Love, Odom and Chandler figure to be in competition for the final two roster spots, with the top-10 seemingly secure. Griffin would seem to be the odds-on favorite for one of those two spots given his combination of on-court skills and immense international marketing potential. If so, the battle for the final spot between the other four talented big men will be heated.
Aldridge can swing between the four and five better than any of the other candidates, but he also has the least Team USA experience, having backed out on the 2010 World Championships team. Aldridge's coach with the Blazers, Nate McMillan, happens to be a Team USA assistant, so that could help.
Love is the best rebounder of the group but his athleticism, even though it's much improved, is not on the same level as the rest of Team USA. Chandler boasts a championship pedigree with the Dallas Mavericks and is the pure defender and long, active big men that could be the centerpiece of an aggressive defensive unit. Odom's versatility and perimeter game creates mismatch opportunities but the wings are likely too crowded on this team to properly utilize his capabilities.
Spain, the reigning European champs, bring both Pau and Marc Gasol to the table. Howard plus any of Team USA's starting power forwards should still have an interior advantage, but choosing the reserve big men will be critical in the event of foul trouble.
Posted on: January 9, 2012 1:35 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 1:38 pm
Posted by Royce Young
You may have thought the Dwight Howard drama had gone away, but really, we're just stuck in a holding pattern. Because Howard still hasn't withdrawn his request to be traded. Via the Orlando Sentinel:
Dwight Howard's request to be traded still stands, and the Orlando Magic's general manager doesn't feel the team has done much to change the superstar's mind.I continue to be confused by this whole situation. The Magic seem to still be of the position to let Howard sign or walk in free agency, but understand that he has requested a deal and Smith even acknowledges it.
But maybe the Magic are just going to wait until the March 15 trade deadline to see what kind of offers roll in. Smith flirted with a few deals during training camp but all that noise has died down mostly since the season started. Or maybe the Magic are going to just let Howard either stay or leave during free agency, which is a philsophpy I'm a fan of.
Howard has said he thinks there's a "zero percent" chance he's dealt before the All-Star break, which of course is in Orlando. He also said he doesn't think he'll be dealt before the trade deadline. The Magic want to use every second they can to win him back and convince him Orlando is a playing worth staying long-term.
Still, Howard is pretty much openly saying that he doesn't really want to be in Orlando, isn't he? Smith realizes it, the fans get it, Howard is saying it -- so are they really just going to continue on like this isn't an issue? The Magic aren't some terrible team that have no chance. That's a playoff team and depending on how the East shakes out, could be a top four seed.
So I guess we'll just stay right where we're at -- wait and see.
Posted on: January 7, 2012 4:58 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 7:41 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
It's been a scary few months for heart health in the NBA: Jeff Green lost his season, Chuck Hayes thought he lost his season but got it back, LaMarcus Aldridge missed all of training camp and Aaron Gray was sidelined indefinitely, all because of heart-related ailments.
It's not often that a cardiac story in sports is, um, light-hearted, but leave it to Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard to be the exception.
During the fourth quarter of a Friday night loss to the Chicago Bulls, Magic forward Glen Davis crashed to the floor after getting fouled. He lay on the ground for a bit longer than normal, leading Howard to come attend to him. Rather than simply offering Davis a hand to help him up, Howard blew on both of his hands as if they were imaginary defibrillator paddles and then pressed them on Davis' torso, as if administering the electrical shock. He pushed down on Davis' chest three times to revive him, and Davis, clearly in on the gimmick, pretended to shock awake before getting back on his feet. Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu awaited Davis' revival with eager anticipation.
Magic fans might not be completely thrilled that this type of hijinks is going on late in a loss to a major conference rival but at least Howard's gimmick was good-natured and brings a respite from the constant trade rumors.
Here's the video of Dwight Howard defibrillating Glen Davis during a game against the Chicago Bulls.
Posted on: January 7, 2012 1:54 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 6:33 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
With the 2012 London Olympics just seven months away, Team USA is reportedly heading for its first round of roster cuts.
ESPN.com reports that USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo will announce a roster of 18 "candidates" to make the 2012 team in less than two weeks.
"We have so much talent right now, the pool is extraordinary," Colangelo said.The site reports that the only player not on either the 2008 Beijing Olympics team or the 2010 Turkey World Championships team who is under consideration is Los Angeles Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin. Given his starpower, Griffin seems a lock, leaving 17 spots in the pool.
Eight of those are expected to go to 2008 Beijing Gold Medal-winning players: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams. All seem solid locks.
That least nine spots for members of the 2010 World Championship team. Six players who would seem to be locks from that roster: Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.
That leaves three final spots in the 18-man pool contenders for the rest: Eric Gordon, Danny Granger, Andre Iguodala, Brook Lopez, Lamar Odom and Rajon Rondo.
The toughest decision at this stage will likely come in choosing a third true center in Lopez or another talented perimeter player in Granger, Iguodala or Odom. USA Basketball has been built on versatility and athleticism in the recent past but its wings are crowded with an embarrassment of riches. Love and/or Griffin could swing up from power forward to center, though, which could free up a spot for another wing in the 18-man group.
Another question is Rondo. He withdrew from selection from the 2010 team after it became clear he wasn't going to make the cut. Given the big names in front of him (Paul, Rose, Williams and likely Westbrook), what happens here? Paul and Williams both have recent injury concerns and Rondo's talent level is such that leaving him off this early would seem a risk not worth taking.
No matter how you slice it and regardless of who is left on the outside looking in, this team is stacked. Looking ahead, assuming full health from all involved, an 18-player pool and a final 12-man roster could look something like this. Cuts designated in parentheses.
PG: Paul, Rose, Williams, (Westbrook), (Rondo)
SG: Bryant, Wade, (Gordon)
SF: James, Durant, Anthony, (Gay)
PF: Bosh, Griffin, (Love)
C: Howard, Chandler, (Lopez)
Posted on: January 6, 2012 2:51 pm
By Matt Moore
In this week's edition of the Friday 5, we find out if canning Westphal was the right move, if the Hawks need to detonate it, and who's in the trade market. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS.
1. All right, so Westphal's out, Keith Smart is in. Was committing this early to Smart the right move for Sacramento?
KB: Yes. First, you need someone with knowledge of the roster/overall strategy and relationships with the players. Smart has established both. Second, and more important, you can't ask Smart to sit in the first chair without the backing of the organization -- particularly when the DeMarcus Cousins fiasco has such a tenuous hold on the locker room. With no security, Smart would have no juice. With no juice, he'd get run over by Cousins in a hurry. Another point: No self-respecting coaching agent would allow his client to be thrust into an interim situation without some assurance that the organization was backing him. As with all coaches, if it doesn't work out, you can always fire him later.
2. Atlanta actually was playing pretty well until Thursday when all of America decided they were the worst team in the history of everything. Is it time to blow up the Hawks?
KB: I'm really trying to stay away from knee-jerk overreactions in this shortened, chaotic season. So much of what we are watching is atypical and very difficult to evaluate given the circumstances. But in the long run, I don't see the Hawks going anywhere positive with more than $120 million locked up in Joe Johnson. The cynic in me wonders if the ownership group was thinking, "That won't be our problem," and now that they haven't been able to sell the team, well, it's their problem.
3. If Andrew Bynum keeps playing like this, it has to make L.A. hesitate on a trade for Howard, right?
KB: No way. Dwight Howard is Dwight Howard.
4. Give me a team that might get active in the coming weeks in a desperation trade to save the season.
KB: I'll give you three. It seems that the Warriors will be involved in almost every trade scenario out there. They're being super aggressive. The Wizards are in a bad place, obviously, but I'm not sure what trade possibilities could help them in the short term. (Though if I were Ernie Grunfeld, I wouldn't be too comfortable.) And as I mentioned in Postups, don't be surprised if the Knicks look to break up the Melo-Amar'e tandem if things really go south.
5. What are your New Year's NBA resolutions?
KB: No more hotel lobbies unless I'm getting Marriott points.
Posted on: January 5, 2012 4:49 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The clock is ticking on Dwight Howard.
The March 15 trade deadline is coming and the Magic don't yet appear ready to make a decision on their superstar center. Keep him and you run the risk of watching him walk away for nothing. Trade him and you give up on any chance you had of ever keeping him.
But the Magic kind of are handcuffed. Howard has four teams he's interested in signing an extension with: the Nets, Lakers, Mavericks and Magic. Which means general manager Otis Smith is limited to negotiating with three teams, two of which don't exactly have a plethora of enticing trade assets.
You might think that rules out 26 other teams from competing for Howard at the deadline, but one team, the Golden State Warriors, are willing to consider renting Howard. Via Yahoo! Sports:
Golden State management is willing to take Howard as a one-season “rental,” with the hope of selling him on signing a long-term deal before he enters free agency this summer. Like most teams, Golden State has inquired with Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith, but the Magic have yet to commit to aggressively pursuing a trade of Howard.The Warriors also pursued Chris Paul, but had the same issues of not being able to be certain he'd commit long-term. But they're willing to risk it with Howard. They have quality young assets in Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis that they can dangle, plus would probably be willing and able to absorb Hedo Turkoglu's remaining $34 million contract.
The Warriors thinking is that if they could just get Howard into the Bay Area with marketing and money opportunities aplenty, that they would be able to convince him to stay long-term. Issue is with Howard, he wants a situation he can win and probably play with a fellow star. And is Golden State that type of place?
But owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are determined to alter the culture and perception of the Warriors and if they have to take a chance on giving up a lot to get Howard for three months, so be it. It's an honorable approach by owners committed to their passionate, rabid fanbase. Hard not to appreciate that.
The Warriors probably could put together the best package outside of the Lakers offering Andrew Bynum. Curry or Ellis are terrific young talents and something the Magic would be happy to get back. The big question is the status of Curry's surgically repaired ankle though, which could hold things up.
As March 15 approaches, the more teams are going to get into the mix. The Magic haven't even decided on trading Howard yet, but if they do, the Warriors will be waiting for a phone call.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 11:12 am
By Matt Moore
Dwyane Wade has told FoxSportsFlorida.com that 2012 will be his last appearance for Team USA.
"This is my last run," Wade, 29, said in an interview with FOX Sports Florida. "No chance (Wade will return for another Olympics). No chance at all. Not a chance."via 2012 to be Dwyane Wade's last Olympics.
Wade cites a desire to let other young players have their chance at a medal during their careers as his primary reason. Wade won a bronze medal in 2004 and a gold medal in 2008's Beijing Olympics alongside now-fellow Heat members LeBron James and Chris Bosh. It was their insistence, along with that of Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, notoriously close friends of Wade and James, that pushed Wade to come back for another season.
The lockout-affected season means that the NBA Finals will end as late as June 26th, and the Olympics begin July 27th, with Team USA training camp starting a few weeks ealier. Should the Heat's season go according to their plans, or at least as well as last year, Wade wouldn't have much time to rest his body, which is known to have injury issues. But Wade says the "unity' is what makes the experience special and will bring him back.
Team USA should be just as stacked this time around. With the Miami Big 3, Anthony, Paul, and Kobe Bryant expected to return, along with Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose, that's an absurd amount of talent right there. Competition could be as stiff this time around as it was in 2008, but expect Blake Griffin to have a good shot at making the team. Factoring in the kind of role players that usually make the team to give specific abilities (Tyson Chander's defense for example), and the 18-20 player list expected to be announced in January according to Jerry Colangelo, head of Team USA, (via FoxSportsFlorida.com) could make for some serious ego management in the roster decisions.
But having that much talent is never a problem, and Wade will be part of that pleasant conundrum.