Tag:Royce Young
Posted on: July 18, 2011 1:43 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 3:38 pm

Howard says 'The Decision' is a cautionary tale

Posted by Royce Young

I don't know if you know this, but Dwight Howard is going to be a free agent in the summer of 2012. True story. And you might not think so, but it's going to be kind of a big deal.

There's already pretty much a new report, some new speculation or a new rumor every couple days about who Howard likes, who he doesn't, what he wants or where he wants to live. It's not quite a frenzy yet, but you can be sure it'll get there.

The good news is, we've already been through this rodeo once. LeBron James' free agency in the summer of 2010 is about as good a peek into how crazy the whole NBA recruitment process can be. Howard's extravaganza won't touch LeBron's for a lot of reasons, one of them being because Howard's not going to let it. Via Sports Radio Interviews, Howard was asked if LeBron's process and "The Decision" provided a blueprint on how not to do things:

“I think so. I think the way he did just seems like it just made people seem he ditched the whole town of Cleveland. I don’t think he meant it like that, but that’s how it came off and it hurt a lot of people. I actually talked to a lot of people in Cleveland who were just hurt by how he did it, so I think that was the biggest thing. He did everything he could in Cleveland. I think he felt like he just had to move on.”

Awareness, it's a good thing, Dwight. The fact that people have learned from LeBron's fateful night in a plaid button-up is a good thing. Kevin Durant said once that process and attention intrigued him to wonder what it would be like, but like Howard, acknowledged that it's probably not the best way to do things. LeBron's decision had good intentions and definitely made for great TV. We were all watching, which was the point. But he alienated fans that love(d) him and ticked off a lot of others. Howard, who's one of the most likable personalities in the league, definitely wants to avoid anything like that.

Just in watching it, Howard said, that he could immediately see the issues. He said he could see it in LeBron that the whole process had really worn on him.

“I watched it live. I could tell he [LeBron James] was hurt before he even made his decision known to everybody. He was very hurt and it just looked like he really didn’t want to get up there and do what he was doing. He had to make the best decision for him and his career and to just see all the stuff that happened after he made his decision. I think that’s the thing that hurt Cleveland fans the most is the way he did it. I think that’s what hurts them the most.”

I think anyone with a brain understands that LeBron wasn't intentionally trying to make everyone hate him. And maybe he did sense it was a bad idea at one point. That's all been beaten to death, but with Howard being the prize of 2012 and a player near the level of LeBron in terms of how hard teams are going to try and woo him, the fact he understands what didn't work is certainly good. At least for him and his brand. Because in the end, that's what these guys are trying to protect.

There will be no Howard "Decision," no one-hour special, no attention grab. At least that's the plan right now.
Posted on: July 18, 2011 12:59 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 3:41 pm

2011-12 schedule to be released Tuesday

Posted by Royce Young

Good news, NBA junkies. You may have been robbed of your precious Summer League, but you won't have the second best day of the boring, basketball-less summer taken from you. The NBA is still going to be releasing the 2011-12 schedule anyway on Tuesday afternoon. Yay, right?

Obviously, it would be easy to assume that this is a good sign for the lockout and reason for optimism. But really, it's just sort of a business as usual thing. I mean, the league has to be prepared either way. If a deal is reached in October and everyone just assumed games were going to be lost and no one had made a schedule, that would be a problem, right?

But it is at least a sign in some sense that the league is hoping for games and hasn't entirely dug in. Because look at it the other way: If there was no schedule coming, that would be a very, very bad sign. So since a schedule is being released, the fact that the league is doing it at all has to kind of be seen as a good thing. You see, I'm an eternal optimist, especially with this lockout. Begging for a reason to be convinced there will be games.

Last season, the schedule came out in August because the league wanted to see where all the high-prized free agents ended up landing. Since none of that's happening right now because of the, you know, lockout and all, the league is just going ahead with it a couple weeks earlier. And thank heavens it is, because having nothing, not even Summer League, is really a downer.

Even if there isn't a 2011-12 season, we'll at least have a schedule to visualize what it would've looked like. That's something, right?
Category: NBA
Posted on: July 16, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 3:42 pm

Some teams are probably missing Summer League

Posted by Royce Young

The NBA's annual Vegas Summer League would be wrapping up right about now. Young players would be finishing up a week of gambling, partying and hopefully, at least for their coach, getting better.

Summer League has always been sort of approached by most as nothing more than a perk of July, just something to sort of help bridge the gap. Nobody really pays attention to it except for the hardest of hardcore fans, general managers, scouts and coaches. And bloggers. Summer League basically is blogger paradise, because it's something to write the crap out of for a couple of weeks in mid-July.

Except this summer, because of the you-know-what, there is no Summer League. No rookies to overhype because of a good, random game against a bunch of D-Leaguers. No second-year fringe players to latch onto and get excited about because of a quality week. And no players to completely write off because of a 2-12, five-turnover game. For shame. For damn shame.

And while most just write off what happens in Vegas as unimportant, any time players take the court and compete, there's something of value there for the players, the organization and the coaches. Basketball is about development. It's about getting better. Summer League is a vehicle for new draft picks to get a feel of pro basketball and a feel of playing with a couple of teammates. It's a place for guys to prove themselves a bit. In reality, it's kind of important, even if it's generally ignored by the general basketballing public.

But I can guarantee you a good number of teams were mighty disappointed when Summer League fell through because of the lockout. There's progress to be made, and a week in Vegas is an excellent place to start, especially for rookies. Some teams and players are going to feel the sting of missing out on the opportunity. Here are the ones I see feeling it most.

Minnesota Timberwolves
No team would've benefited more than Minnesota's young roster. First, it would've been the first look at Ricky Rubio on American soil. He would've played against NBA talent and had a chance to run the show for his new team.

It also would've given all of us a chance to rush to snap judgments about his game and, therefore, his career, based on a couple of Summer League games. It would've been great.

But on top of some run for Rubio, Derrick Williams, Wesley Johnson and a few other youngsters could've put away a week or so of games. Every second those guys play together, the better they'll get. They need time to develop, and Summer League is a place for that. Instead, it's going to have to happen on some private court without any coaches. Not the ideal situation for young players to learn and improve.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Pretty much the same scenario for the Cavs as it is for the Wolves, or any young team with talent. Kyrie Irving could've used the extra time on the floor, but not just because he could get a feel for offense or learn the pace of the NBA game or anything. For Irving, it's more that he just needs to play, period.

He only played in 13 games for Duke last season and after returning from his foot injury, played a couple of games in the NCAA tournament. He has barely played any competitive basketball at all in the last year. For a 19-year-old, that's not a good thing. The more play you get, the farther you move ahead.

Not to mention the No. 4 overall pick, Tristan Thompson, getting some play, too. Obviously, that would be great, but to me, it's more about Irving. It's his franchise now, and the objective in Cleveland now is moving him along. Something small like Summer League is one of the first steps forward in doing that.

Sacramento Kings
The Kings' inclusion really is more of a selfish reason. Because with Summer League, you know that every game with Jimmer Fredette woudl be a total experience. Vegas is close to BYU, and Jimmer has quite the following in the area. But, really, it could be in Maine and The Jimmer would walk in like a rock star.

The Kings do need him and Tyreke Evans, though, to get some experience playing together. Who's running point? Is it Jimmer? Is Reke going to handle those duties too? Are they going to tag-team it like Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry? These are some of the questions you can sort of at least start to find answers for, if only they were actually playing.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Despite reaching the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder really do have a ton of room to grow. The roster is extremely young with some pieces that need developing. Two of the most important being Cole Aldrich and this year's pick, Reggie Jackson.

With Aldrich, he simply needs to play a little. He spent most of his rookie season in the D-League with the Tulsa 66ers, and while that's good for development, Summer League gives him a chance to be a focus in a competitive setting as well as a primer for what he needs to work on heading to fall camp. Aldrich is far from a lost cause, and the Thunder are willing to stay patient. But part of that being patient comes because you think a guy is going to improve. And to do that, he's got to play.

With Jackson, Summer League could've helped signal a little where he might fit in. Is he a point guard? Shooting guard? Combo guard? Is he a scorer the Thunder want to use off the bench next season? Is he someone that even will challenge for minutes? The Thunder clearly liked Jackson enough to promise him a spot in the first round, but without him working out for anyone before the draft, he's still largely an unknown for everybody.

Miami Heat
Yes, seriously, the Heat. No doubt that for the most part, the roster is set. LeBron, Wade and Bosh handle pretty much all of the heavy lifting, and veterans Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem pick up the remaining slack.

But the Heat need to develop young talent. Players like Dexter Pittman need an opportunity to grow a bit. Where the Heat lacked most last season was having cheap, young talent to infuse with LeBron, Wade and Bosh. Instead, Pat Riley went with trying to work in guys like Mike Bibby, Juwan Howard, Eddie House and whoever else was willing to take the veterans minimum to chase a title.

A week in Vegas for Miami's youngsters like Pittman and rookie Norris Cole could go a long way to restructuring the role players on the roster. And on top of that, it's a chance to maybe scout three or four other unsigned guys to take a look at later on. Miami needs some young talent, and the Vegas Summer League is one of the best places to look.

Washington Wizards
John Wall is going to be a star. I don't have any doubt. But he's still raw and still has a whole lot to learn about running a team. I remember how much Summer League did for Russell Westbrook a couple of years ago as he was prepping for his second season. It helped Westbrook learn how to slow down a bit, learn when to look for a shot, when to look to set up and when to push. Wall would've been the best player in Vegas, much like Westbrook was always on another level when he was there. But it taught him how to play under control -- to a degree -- while also being able to run around anyone. That would've been a good lesson for Wall.

Then there's Jan Vesely, who is mostly a mystery as he prepares to maybe step in as Washington's new small forward. We know he can jump and dunk, but can he defend? Can he rotate over and help? Can he shoot? If Wall and Vesely are the offensive attack of the future for the Wizards, having them play together, if even for just a week, would be huge.

Utah Jazz
Even more than Kyrie Irving, Enes Kanter hasn't played competitive basketball in a long time. He was forced to sit out all of 2010-11 for Kentucky because of a NCAA violation, and while he's had some workouts and a little five-on-five action here and there, he hasn't been in a real game setting since he moved from Turkey to the United States. The Jazz liked him enough to take him fourth and maybe force a re-shuffling up front, so obviously they're invested in the young big man.

And on top of him, don't forget the Jazz had another lottery pick in wing Alec Burks, who could surprise a lot of people as an NBA-ready scorer. He was terrific at Colorado as he sort of came out of nowhere to climb into the lottery. A little burn for both him and Kanter could've gone a long way for the Jazz, who are committed to the youngsters in life after Deron.
Posted on: July 16, 2011 2:30 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 3:42 pm

Kahn and Nelson have talked about Wolves position

Posted by Royce Young

Oh boy, it might really be happening. Don Nelson might really, truly, actually be a candidate for the Minnesota Timberwolves coaching position. Last week when word broke that Nelson was interested in the Minnesota roster, it just seemed like something a retired coach might say, but without much actual chance of happening.

But according to the Star Tribune, Nelson has spoken with general manager David Kahn about the position and is still very interested. That's saying something about his level of interest right there.

"I think it'd be a great fit," Nelson said. "I love Minnesota.

"Really, throughout my career, what I've done is taken teams with bad records and with every situation I've made them better. I like to be around young players. I've had great success with bad teams, getting them on the right track, getting them to max out. I have a great history there."

Nelson, of course, is the NBA's all-time winningest coach and recently retired/was forced to retire after a bumpy stint in Golden State. He's 71, so he's not necessarily a long-term solution. But in terms of trying to turn around a young roster, he indeed might be a decent fit. At the very least, he's an incredibly intriguing one.

Putting Nelson's up-and-down style with Ricky Rubio running point, Kevin Love throwing outlets and Derrick Williams running the floor is nothing short of fascinating for any NBA junkie.

Would that translate to wins?

Hard to say. But a Minnesota franchise commandeered by Kahn and Nelson would be some incredible fodder. Kahn wants the team to run, and you know that's what Nelson will do.

One guy, though, that's probably not excited about this idea is Anthony Randolph. I bet he thought he was finally free of Nelson. Not for long, maybe.
Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:08 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 1:17 pm

Manu Ginobili says he'll retire in two years

Posted by Royce Young

Hey Spurs, listen up. Here's a good reason to make sure this lockout doesn't wipe out an entire season: Because Manu Ginobili, who has two years left on his contract, said he'll probably retire after those two seasons.

So lose this year and you miss out on 50 percent of what you might have left with Manu. At least that's what he told an Argentinian website:
“The truth is that I have set the date of my retirement, but I have two years left on this contract in San Antonio, and I will reach age 36. I think it may be an appropriate age to stop playing,” Ginobili stated. “I never had the desire to play in the country and retire at home. I always thought about retiring at the highest level.”
The reason that last part is important is because there was some speculation that Ginobili, 34, would finish his NBA contract and then close his career in Europe or maybe his native Argentina. But, obviously, he's not too keen on that idea.

There's been a lot of talk about the Spurs' window closing. Talk that originated from Tony Parker, really. But it's true. The Spurs don't have a lot of time left to win with the current core. By the sounds of it, it might just be two years. Or one, depending on how things shake out.

The NBA without Manu. Tough to imagine. Don't make me miss out on one of those years. That'll be tough to forgive, NBA.

Via Project Spurs
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:50 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 1:10 pm

Report: Sasha Vujacic signs to play in Turkey

Posted by Royce Young

Add another marginal NBA player who has signed to play in Europe. This one is Sasha Vujacic, who may be more famous as Mr. Sharapova than for being a good basketball player.

According to Euroleague.net, Vujacic has signed with Anadolu Efes Istanbul for one year with an option for a second. No word in the report on whether Vujacic has an opt-out clause. He is a free agent once this lockout ends, so he's free to go and play wherever he wants without risking his contract because of an injury.

Vujacic averaged 11.4 points per game in 56 games last season and spent six seasons with the Lakers, winning two titles. He's a solid player and definitely a NBA rotation guy for someone. Not an earth-shattering signing, but definitely a guy that would otherwise be playing in the NBA.

Of course, his Nets teammate Deron Williams also signed in Turkey just a couple of weeks ago.

Vujacic, a native of Slovenia, obviously understands what it's like playing in Europe having played in Italy before being picked in the first round by the Lakers in 2004. In Europe, I'm sure Vujacic will play a much bigger role for whatever team he's on and maybe can make good on the ridiculous claim he made last season that he could average 30 points a game if he wanted to.

If you can't do that in Turkey, you definitely can't do it in the NBA.
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:26 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 1:11 pm

Ibaka granted Spanish citizenship, in Eurobasket

Posted by Royce Young

All Serge Ibaka has left to do to finish off his Spanish citizenship is he "must swear loyalty to the Spanish crown and constitution." No word on if he has to kiss someone's ring though.

After Ibaka, 21, completes those last couple steps, he's officially be a Spaniard and will be eligible to play in the Eurobasket tournament in Lithuania which is in August and September.

This is a pretty massive thing for Spain, who is already one of the tournament favorites with Ricky Rubio, Pau and Marc Gasol, Jose Calderon and other NBA caliber players. Adding Ibaka immediately gives Spain maybe the best athlete in the tournament and an imposing big man who can impact the game on both ends of the floor. If you weren't picking Spain already, the addition of Ibaka should put you over the top.

I mean, look at that front court. Gasol, Gasol and Ibaka. That'd probably be the best front court in the NBA.

Why Spain for Ibaka, who is a native of the Republic of Congo? It's a place he spent three of his formative years, especially in terms of basketball. He started playing professionally in Spain as a teenager and really, his first language is Spanish. He still has a house in Barcelona.

"Spain is a country that has given me a lot," Ibaka told reporters after Spain's Council of Ministers approved his petition for nationality. "It will be an honor to give Spain back all that it has given me on the court."

Spain is the defending champion and at stake is an automatic bid for the 2012 Olympics in London. Which now, Ibaka can play in for Spain as well.
Category: NBA
Posted on: February 24, 2011 6:27 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2011 6:28 pm

Trade Deadline: Suns look to future with Brooks

Posted by Royce Young

Any other deadline day, Aaron Brooks going to Phoenix would feel like really big news. But in week where roughly 10 percent of the league was traded, included something like eight All-Stars, it sort of got overlooked.

The Rockets have been talking about moving Brooks for some time as he's kind of soured in Houston. They're fine with handing the team to Kyle Lowry and heck, maybe even Dragic now who is a pretty good point guard. They also get a nice first-round pick from Phoenix, which is always an added bonus.

Houston was itching to make some kind of deal the entire deadline. For whatever reason, Daryl Morey wanted to move some pieces around. The Rockets kept trying to say they weren't moving Brooks, but the closer things got, the more obvious it was getting. Houston wasn't committing to him long-term, he was souring in his role with the team and wasn't getting along with Rick Adelman.

Strike one, two and three.

The Suns on the other hand, get last season's Most Improved winner and a decent heir to Steve Nash's throne. Of course Brooks is a restricted free agent so something will have to be settled there, but Phoenix likely didn't make this deal just to let Brooks walk. At some point they will need a new point guard and Brooks looks to be their man.

Again, the key is figuring out how Brooks fits in long-term. If Phoenix isn't willing to pay him, then all they ended up with was two months of backup duty and a small improvement over Dragic at that position.

So it's clear the the Suns will do everything necessary to keep him. He should fit well into the up-and-down system Alvin Gentry runs and as a scoring point guard, will likely enjoy his role. He's got to get back to the player he was in 2009-10 though. He has to find the confidence and playmaking ability that won him the Most Improved trophy.

The Rockets didn't get any worse with the trade, but definitely didn't improve. The pick is the nice part for them. Phoenix on the other hand may have gotten a steal, but that's only if they can find the old Aaron Brooks.
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