Tag:Phoenix Suns
Posted on: June 4, 2011 8:35 pm

Sources deny Wizards want Derrick Williams trade

Sources reportedly dispute a trade rumor involving the Washington Wizards and Minnesota Timberwolves. Posted by Ben Golliver. derrick-williams

On Thursday, a report surfaced that said the Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards were among the teams most aggressively seeking the No. 2 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, which belongs to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota was said to be looking for a "veteran big man" in exchange for the rights to draft University of Arizona forward Derrick Williams.

At the time, we noted that the Suns had better options to fit that bill than do the Wizards. 

On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that Washington and Minnesota have not yet discussed a trade involving the No. 2 pick.

Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony reported on his Twitter account on Thursday that the Wizards and Phoenix Suns are working hardest to move up get Williams, but one source with knowledge of the situation said “there’s not” any truth to the speculation, while another with knowledge of the Timberwolves’ plans said that the Wizards have yet to contact Minnesota about making a deal.

The Wizards have the sixth pick in the draft and President Ernie Grunfeld has already stated that the team is willing to “see what other opportunities come up.” But they likely don’t have the talented veteran pieces that it would take to get the No. 2 pick.

Draft rumors are tricky business. It can be very difficult to sift through the noise to find legitimate rumors. One thing is for sure, though: Every rumor, whether there is merit or not, is going to be met with denial by team sources this far before the draft. It's in every team's best interest, publicly, to have a blank slate when it comes to draft strategy and the wheeling and dealing that goes with it.

In other words, while you probably shouldn't put too much stock into any specific rumor, you shouldn't put any stock into a specific denial. 

In this case, as mentioned previously, the Wizards aren't likely to part with their only big man that's good enough to be worth trading for: center JaVale McGee. If he's not on the table and the Timberwolves are looking for bigs, the two teams really don't have much to discuss.
Posted on: June 2, 2011 7:25 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 7:29 pm

Suns, Wizards want to trade up for Williams?

The Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards are reportedly interested in trading up for Derrick Williams. Posted by Ben Golliver. derrick-williams

The 2011 NBA Draft is widely regarded as a two-player class. While Duke University point guard Kyrie Irving is a lock to go to the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 1 overall pick, speculation continues to circle around the No. 2 pick, held by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

University of Arizona forward Derrick Williams is the clear favorite to be drafted second overall but his fit is questionable in Minnesota. A combo-forward, Williams shares the scoring ability and versatility of Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley and doesn't really address Minnesota's biggest needs: help in the backcourt and in the middle.

Last week, we noted a report that the Cavaliers were interested in trading up for the No. 2 selection.

On Thursday, DraftExpress.com reported that the Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards are also in the mix, nothing that the two teams "have been the most active teams trying to trade up for Derrick Williams." The site also reported that the Timberwolves are seeking a "veteran big man" in return.

For reference: The Wizards hold the No. 6 selection and the Suns hold the No. 13 selection.

Which big men do these teams have to offer up?

Phoenix has three serviceable bigs in its rotation: Marcin Gortat, Robin Lopez and Channing Frye. Gortat, acquired from the Orlando Magic, is under contract at a reasonable rate through 2013-2014. He's not untouchable, but talented, mobile seven-footers are hard to come by. Lopez is not spectacular, but he's still on his rookei deal and he's a serviceable reserve. Frye is a perimter-oriented big man who might not be an ideal fit next to Kevin Love in Minnesota.

The Wizards have promising center JaVale McGee in the middle as well as troubled forward Andray Blatche. McGee is still on his rookie deal and is talented enough to hold on to tightly during the team's rebuilding process. Moving Blatche would be a much easier call for Washington as he's a true head case but he doesn't have the size to find many minutes with Love in place.

If I'm Washington, Williams' starpower isn't enough for me to give up on McGee just yet. Sure the hole on the wing is massive, but there will be talented guards/wings available at No. 6 -- Kawhi Leonard, Alec Burks, Klay Thompson -- and replacing McGee would be a nightmare. The Wizards were bottom five in rebound rate last season; imagining them without McGee's eight boards a game would be an even bigger disaster.

From Phoenix's standpoint, Williams is very, very tempting. The team needs a new face of the franchise and point guard Steve Nash has been involved in trade rumors for months, if not years at this point. Williams has a local tie-in, big-time scoring potential and an exciting game. He's intent on playing small forward, though, so that could mean parting ways with Grant Hill, using some unorthodox line-ups or shipping out Jared Dudley. It would be tough to find time for all three of them if you're intent on making Williams your franchise guy.

Parting with Gortat, Frye or Lopez shouldn't be a deal-breaker in this trade scenario. If it's Gortat, acquiring some other asset in return would be necessary, as his value as a player is greater than jumping up 10 spots in a weak draft. Frye and Lopez, though, are who they are and should certainly be on the table. In Frye's case, he was signed to a long-term contract that carries him through 2014-2015. Getting out of that salary commitment might not be the worst thing in the world if Phoenix does intend to undergo a rebuilding process.

A trade like this makes all sorts of sense from Minnesota's standpoint. If they could add either Gortat or Lopez plus pick up Burks or Thompson at No. 13 that's a very good return on the rights to the No. 2 pick. Getting McGee plus Leonard or Burks for the rights to Williams would be even better.

Deals like these, though, are rarely that simple. The room to negotiate is gigantic, as teams look to dump salaries, extract future picks and on and on. Will the type of trades rumored here come to fruition? Who knows. Should something like this trade rumor happen? Definitely, especially from Minnesota's standpoint.
Posted on: June 1, 2011 5:25 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 3:53 pm

Shaq Retires: The Life and Times of the MDE

Posted by Matt Moore

Most Dominant Ever.

How does one have the gall to call themselves that? To declare to the world that in the NBA's long history of great big men, you are the one that exerts his will the most, that takes some serious guts. And a body big enough to hold them.

Shaquille O'Neal announced his retirement Wednesday after a 19-year career that saw him win four NBA titles, the MVP award, three Finals MVP awards, and 15, count 'em 15 All-Star selections. He was the first truly "fun" big guy, the first big to really cross over into popular culture (if you don't count Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's turn in "Airplane"), doing movies, reality shows, and even a 311 video. But it was always his work on the floor that put him at the top of everyone's mind.

O'Neal was the first big to challenge the idea that weight was an offensive hindrance. A literal giant who gained more and more bulk as his career wore on, O'Neal's greatest asset was often his backside. O'Neal's humongous rump was what allowed him to bully his way to the basket during the Lakers' early 00's run of championships, paving the way for his startling efficiency. But it wasn't always like that. Back in the day, Shaq was just a kid in Orlando, loving life and dunking on everyone.

Magic Time: Young and in love (with the rim)

O'Neal took the league by storm in 1993. A big man who could run the floor, who moved with speed, he was at his athletic best. His rookie season he averaged 24-14 with 3.5 blocks per game. It was like nothing anyone had seen before. There had been other big men, to be sure. This was the time of Hakeem Olajuwon, who would go on to teach Shaq about the value of footwork later. But in the beginning, he was just a lovable kid, making the most out of being literally the biggest star in the world. And while his agility and athleticism were breathtaking, he was still strong as an ox. Observe:

That's just bananas. We freak out now over Dwight Howard dunking on toy rims wearing a cape. O'Neal was physically tearing down the basket as a youngster in Orlando. It was there that O'Neal started to recognize his own potential as a media star as well. He starred in Blue Chips with Nick Nolte, which began a long, and often painful for the rest of us, movie career. And he became one of the top players in the game, almost immediately. If it took us a decade to recognize how truly great Olajuwon was, we did not miss the boat with Shaq. You couldn't. If you tried, he'd remind you, often by dunking on your head.

But O'Neal also went through what so many stars today experience, what drove them to the decisions they're so often criticized for. O'Neal lost to Hakeem's Rockets and Jordan's Bulls. He wanted a bigger stage, and he had no reservations about going out and getting it. So he went to the Lakers in 1997, leaving a franchise in ruin.

There was no outcry nationally, he was not booed everywhere he went, he was not vilified. Nationally, people were just excited the Lakers were relevant again, even if it meant sending Orlando back down to the sewers. And it was in Los Angeles that O'Neal earned that MDE nickname he would later give himself.

Gone Hollywood

Shaq: The Legacy
Stats (All-Time List)
  • Games: 1,207 (23rd)
  • Minutes: 41,918 (17th)
  • Points: 28,596 (5th)
  • Rebounds: 13,099 (12th)
  • Blocks: 2,732 (7th)
  • First overall pick, 1992 Draft
  • Rookie of the Year, 1992-93
  • NBA MVP, 1999-00
  • Four NBA Championships
  • 15-time NBA All-Star
  • 3-time NBA Finals MVP
  • 2-time NBA Scoring Champion
  • Career Salary: $292,198,327
29.7 points. 13.6 rebounds. 3.8 assists. 3.0 blocks. That was O'Neal's statline in 2000 when he shot 57 percent from the field and come out with a 30.6 PER. Those are just numbers. But they give an indication of how unstoppable O'Neal was with the Lakers. The later Lakers are reconsidered now as more Kobe's team than they were. It was the big man who set up everything. The weight O'Neal gained only seemed to make him that much harder to guard. You couldn't front him, too tall. You couldn't try and muscle him off, too strong. And if you did manage to keep your position, work him to the middle, and force a shot and not a dunk? He had the drop step hook Howard dreams of in his sleep.

In that Golden Era at the turn of the century, O'Neal changed the course of franchise history, bringing the Lakers back to prominence and all the glory that goes with it. The Lakers were unstoppable in that stretch. It wasn't like the modern Lakers team that fights with top notch opponents and manages to win more than they lose. They were the predominant force of that era and it was mostly because of Shaq. Bryant came on later and did his damage, certainly contributing. But O'Neal at this point was just such a behemoth. There was nothing to be done.

Dominant is phrased so often as just "best." Or "most impressive." The reason O'Neal's terminology of that fits during this era of his career is that he was able to exert his will on anyone. There was no one who could stop him. Certainly not Erick Dampier or Shawn Bradley or a Bradley tank. He would park that gigantic butt of his into an opponent, send them staggering back a foot, back in, and either gently slide it over the rim or hammer it down, leaving nothing but a whoosh in his wake.

You could see the body start to slip a bit as O'Neal struggled with weight control. He played 74 games in 2001, and wouldn't hit over 70 games again until 2005. But that stretch of years also defined the best of his career. Three championships, an MVP, and a place among the all-time Laker greats, even if it would be forgotten in the bitterness to come. Oh, yeah, and he did this:

Helping Flash

The meltdown of the 2004 Lakers against the Pistons changed everything. Shaq's ego had only gotten bigger with his success. Kobe Bryant felt he was the star. Phil Jackson had had enough of all of it, and the team blew up the championship core, sending Shaq to Miami for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, and pieces. Shaq joined an up-and-coming Heat team that would have likely slowly contended for a title year after year with young talent. But Pat Riley is not a man of patience. He saw the MDE was available. He went out and got him.

In Miami, questions were rampant about how O'Neal and Wade would co-exist, how the two would work together, who the man was. O'Neal responded to the criticisms of his ego and conditioning by playing 73 games, scoring 22 points per game with 10 rebounds. The next year he played only 59, but it was enough to get the Heat into the playoffs, where they made an unlikely run that netted O'Neal his fourth championship. This two-year era (before the physical meltdown in 2007) is overlooked most times in favor of his L.A. days, but O'Neal wasn't just a scorer, defender, and partner for Wade in this championship run. He was a mentor, and a locker room leader. O'Neal showed that you can be bombastic, arrogant even, and still be a leader of men.

This was the last time O'Neal was truly relevant.

Self-exile to the Valley

In 2008, with O'Neal clearly on the decline, unable to stay healthy for any significant stretch, and boasting a roster of athletic talent that could run the floor and keep the ball constantly in motion for Mike D'Antoni's offense, Steve Kerr made a terrible decision. He traded for Shaquille O'Neal, cashing in his biggest bargaining chip, Shawn Marion's expiring contract. O'Neal made big claims about winning championships when he's angry for Phoenix, and he was supposed to bring the defense necessary to win a championship alongside Steve Nash. Except that it was very much like giving a fish a bicycle. A big, flashy bicycle with one busted wheel.

O'Neal couldn't stay on the floor. The trade was a disaster, and wasted the last years of Steve Nash's prime because of Kerr's bravado. But O'Neal kept developing, staying popular by embracing Twitter and becoming even more of a goof. He was lovable. He was huge. He didn't play much, but he was still awesome. Like when he pulled this out at the 2009 All-Star Game:

Even big men fade away

O'Neal joined Cleveland via trade in 2010. The final piece to the LeBron championship puzzle, part 5,453 (copyright Danny Ferry 2010). But it was simply over. O'Neal couldn't stay healthy -- who can at that age with that amount of wear and tear? -- and he watched with disgust as his teammates were unable to help him or LeBron against Boston. O'Neal was actually one of the most effective players for the Cavs against the Celtics, but it wasn't enough. So O'Neal got the idea that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

O'Neal joining the Celtics was supposed to change things for his career. It would allow him to win one more than Kobe Bryant, one more than Tim Duncan, to go out with five rings and contribute to a team supposedly as tough as he is. But again, the body just couldn't sustain.

It is a harsh reality that this is what happens, as unfortunate as it is unavoidable.

But O'Neal's legacy won't be tarnished by those final years in Cleveland and Boston the way Allen Iverson's sad decline hampered his. For one, the four titles help. For another, O'Neal always carried himself with respect, even if he lacked it for others (like, oh, say, Kobe Bryant as in his famous rap). For another, nothing can take away his cultural or performance legacy.

Talk to guys who played against him and they groan trying to explain what it was like to guard him. Talk to kids who watched him destroy everything in his path from backboards to Shawn Bradley to Erick Dampier. Talk to reporters who covered his quotes, analysts who watched his dunks, anyone, everyone knows who Shaq was and what his imprint on the game was.

He walks away now, and though he might not be the best big man of all time, given the mark he left on the NBA and how he continues to make his mark on global culture, he's still the Most Dominant Ever.

Posted on: June 1, 2011 2:53 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 7:09 am

NBA executive: Jimmer Fredette 'could be a star'

Jimmer Fredette reportedly impressed during a workout with the Indiana Pacers. Posted by Ben Golliver. jimmer-fredette

Conventional wisdom seemed to coalesce around BYU guard Jimmer Fredette this spring: He should be a solid rotation player and a potential spark plug off of someone's bench.

Is that line of thinking getting turned upside down?

On Tuesday, Fredette reportedly impressed during a group workout with the Indiana Pacers. So much so, in fact, that Jazz.com reports that he left talent evaluators with stars in their eyes.
One high placed NBA executive at the workout said, “He was Jimmer Fredette. He shot the ball well, he handled the point and he played at different speeds.  He needs to get better defensively.  He is a tough kid, he is mature, he is very poised.” 

The most interesting comment that was made was the “he could be a solid back-up or he could be a star.”  This is only the second personnel person I have talked to that had Jimmer as a star.  One other compared him to Mark Price and is adamant about it.  

The report also noted two fairly impressive facts: "Jimmer hit his first 12 3s and 82% of his unguarded 3s in his workout."

That performance left Fredette's workout partner, Duke guard Nolan Smith, impressed, according to Pacers.com.
"Where he shot the ball from, what he did for his team, I enjoyed watching him, seeing how many points he was putting up," said Duke's Nolan Smith, who matched up with Fredette in the workout. "It was quite a show."
Coming out of the workout, Fredette sounded confident, telling Indianapolis' 1070 The Fan that he "definitely" feels that his athleticism is underrated (via SportsRadioInterviews.com).
"I think athletic ability has to do with how you’re able to move your body. … It’s not the most flashy athleticism, but it’s being able to make the most use out of your body.” 
While Fredette is listed anywhere from 10 to 20 on most NBA mock drafts, positive early buzz like this could mean that the bottom side of those estimates are overly conservative. He's got two good shots to be drafted with the Jazz picking at No. 12 and the Pacers picking at No. 15. The Phoenix Suns at No. 13 and the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 10 reportedly have interest too. Does he slip through all four of those teams?

Posted on: May 29, 2011 12:34 am
Edited on: May 30, 2011 7:15 am

Steve Nash: A gay NBA player would be no big deal

Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash says it wouldn't be a big deal if an NBA player revealed himself to be gay. Posted by Ben Golliver. steve-nash

No question about it: The Phoenix Suns have been at the forefront of advocating tolerance toward and acceptance of homosexuals in the past month.

Suns forwards Grant Hill and Jared Dudley released a public service announcement warning kids against using the word "gay" in a negative way. Suns guard Steve Nash issued a video testimony in favor of a New York gay marriage proposition. And, of course, Suns president Rick Welts revealed that he was gay, becoming the first male major professional sports executive to do so, saying that he hoped to serve as an example for younger people.

In an interview with The New York Times on Saturday, Nash was asked directly whether the NBA is ready for an openly gay active player.
If a player in the locker room came out, it would come and go quickly, too. I really don’t think it’s a big issue anymore. I think it would be surprisingly accepted, and a shorter shelf life than maybe we would imagine. I think the time has come when it should happen soon. I think it will be something that won’t take on this life of its own. It won’t be the O. J. trial.
Nash's comments are similar to those made recently by commentator and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, who said that every NBA player has played with gay teammates and that he cares far more about a player's ability level than a player's sexuality.  

Is Nash correct in his analysis?

There is definitely some logic to the "shorter shelf life" line of thinking. Controversies and hot button issues seem to come and go must faster these days than they did even two or three years ago, as the latest rumor or gossip of the day is always pressing fast to make today's news outdated.

It's impossible to know if Nash has accurately gauged the tolerance of the NBA climate until a player does come out. But his honest and straightforward comments, which read as accepting and understanding, only help break the taboo of what has long been seen as a dicey or uncomfortable situation. 

Posted on: May 23, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2011 5:40 pm

Steve Nash supports gay marriage in NY video

Steve Nash and the Human Rights Campaign issue a video in public support of a gay marriage proposition in New York. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Homosexuality and gay rights have leaped to the forefront of the public discourse surrounding the NBA in recent weeks. 

Homosexuality and the NBA
Related links
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Playoffs stats | Latest news

On Monday, Phoenix Suns All-Star guard Steve Nash added his voice to the discussion, by partnering with the Human Rights Campaign, a group that lobbies for equal rights, to release a video spot in support of a gay and lesbian marriage rights proposition in New York state.  

In the spot, Nash looks into the camera to make a personal appeal to his fellow New Yorkers. "Hi, I'm Steve Nash," he begins. "I spend my summers in New York and I love playing at the Garden. A growing number of professional athletes are speaking out in support of gay and lesbian couples getting married. I'm proud to be one of them."

The video then cuts to a graphic that reads: "New Yorkers support full marriage equality. Do you?"

Then Nash concludes: "Join me and the supermajority of New Yorkers who support marriage equality."

Here's a look at the video.

The spot comes at a time of peak interest around the NBA.

Rick Welts, the president of the Suns, publicly revealed that he is gay recently. Charles Barkley said that all NBA players have played with gay teammates. Grant Hill and Jared Dudley filmed a public service announcement about how harmful the word "gay" can be when used in a derogatory manner. Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah have been caught on camera using gay slurs, sparking a discussion about the use of such language.

Steve Avery of the New York Rangers filmed a similar spot recently and drew criticism from some circles. ESPNNY.com reported that Avery's experience, as well as Welts' decision, led Nash to participate in the campaign.
Nash had been considering appearing in the video for months. According to HRC vice president of communications Fred Sainz, the NBA star ultimately timed the release to support Welts and New York Rangers forward Sean Avery, who experienced a backlash among hockey fans after making a similar video. NHL player agent Todd Reynolds called Avery's support for the issue "misguided." Many anonymous commenters on message boards harshly criticized Avery for his support of the proposition, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has advanced. Cuomo is hoping for a vote by legislators in June.
When Bryant was fined $100,000 for his comments, NBA commissioner David Stern made his position on the issue clear: “Kobe Bryant’s comment during last night’s game was offensive and inexcusable. While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated. Accordingly, I have fined Kobe $100,000. Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society."
Posted on: May 15, 2011 4:57 pm
Edited on: May 15, 2011 5:47 pm

Rick Welts, Suns president, reveals he is gay

Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts reveals he is a homosexual in a New York Times article. Posted by Ben Golliver. rick-welts

Rick Welts, the president of the Phoenix Suns and a long-time NBA employee, publicly revealed that he is a homosexual for the first time in an article in the New York Times on Sunday.

Welts says he lived in secrecy for decades because of the stigma attached to homosexuality in the world of professional sports.
“This is one of the last industries where the subject is off limits,” said Mr. Welts. “Nobody’s comfortable in engaging in a conversation.”
ESPN.com.com reports that Welts' admission makes him a trailblazer, noting that he is "believed to be the first man in a prominent position in men's sports who has declared his homosexuality."
So why, after all these years, did Welts decide to come forward? The Times writes... 
Mr. Welts explained that he wants to pierce the silence that envelops the subject of homosexuality in men’s team sports. He wants to be a mentor to gay people who harbor doubts about a sports career, whether on the court or in the front office. Most of all, he wants to feel whole, authentic. 

Perhaps the most illuminating aspect of this admission is that two prominent NBA figures -- NBA commissioner David Stern and Phoenix Suns All-Star guard Steve Nash -- both were well aware of Mr. Welts' homosexuality but had not discussed it with him directly. In Stern's case, he showed silent, indirect support. In Nash's case, he simply thought everyone already knew that Welts was gay. That both of those reactions existed shows just how complicated living his life in silence must have been for Welts.

While he has risen to the top of his profession, Welts likely still felt like an outsider in a very personal way. Stern commented that he hoped "the world will find this [admission] unremarkable," but clearly this will be a remarkable moment for Welts himself.

It wouldn't be surprising at all if his admission, and the peace of mind it will likely provide going forward, inspires other executives in similar situations to come forward.

Posted on: May 12, 2011 1:14 pm

Steve Nash's documentary gets a trailer

Posted by Matt Moore

With Dirk Nowitzki on the verge of a second Finals appearance and a shot at a title, I keep thinking about Steve Nash. It was Nowitzki and Nash in Dallas at the beginning of the last decade that were supposed to be contending for championships, before Mark Cuban let Nash leave and Nash became the MVP point guard we know today. If there are two players from the mid-00's NBA that showcase the disappointment of great players without rings, it's Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash.

Nash has become more to us over the past five years. For a long time he was the model of the pure point guard, even with his atrocious defensive liabilities due to his back condition. He was MVP-worthy in the years he won, even if others feel there were equally impressive performances in those years. But he's also become a statesman for the game, and his diverse cultural and business interests have made him into a celebrity without the papparazi or reality television shows like the featured players in Los Angeles. He's involved in fitness, charity, and film. Including a documentary being filmed about him. Here's the trailer:


We tend to idolize players who the game means everything to, who can't live with themselves in the light of a morning after a loss. But Nash is a different kind, similiar, ironically, to Tim Duncan and his Spurs, who have always kept perspective while being hyper-competitive. Nash may never win a title, but he'll still go down as one of the most interesting players to watch, and interesting personalities, to grace the NBA. 
Category: NBA
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