Archive for October 28th, 2013

Photo: Empty NBA court, waiting for you

I find this cool. This is an InsideHoops.com photo of an empty Madison Square Garden, with a court sitting there ready to be used. Picture yourself shooting around or playing here:

The big addition to the Charlotte Bobcats is Al Jefferson, but the center is still healing, and questionable to start the season. The good news is, it sounds like if he doesn’t play the opener, he should be on the court relatively soon. Here’s the Charlotte Observer:

Al Jefferson

While Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson is still optimistic he’ll play in Wednesday’s season opener in Houston, the team is listing him as questionable with a sprained right ankle.

Jefferson was hurt early in the preseason when he stepped on the foot of Miami Heat center Chris Bosh and landed awkwardly. He participated in most, but not all, of Monday’s practice after sitting out nearly three weeks.

“He did some contact, some 5-on-5, but not everything,” coach Steve Clifford said.

Jefferson said “in my head” he’s ready to play Wednesday against perennial All-Star Dwight Howard, whom the Rockets signed during the summer.

Who will start at PF for Orlando Magic?

The NBA regular season starts tomorrow, with Orlando and Indiana squaring off to get things started. But the Magic coaching staff still have some decision-making to make. Here’s the Orlando Sentinel:

The Magic are settled at every position except for power forward, where Vaughn will choose between 23-year-olds Kyle O’Quinn and Andrew Nicholson and 30-year-old Jason Maxiell, who was the team’s top free-agent acquisition over the summer.

Vaughn won’t disclose who he’ll start at power forward against the Pacers, but Maxiell would provide toughness and experience against the Pacers’ rugged power forward, David West.

“Part of the reason that Max is here is to bring a physicality and an aggressiveness to our team, and I think he enjoys that,” Vaughn said. “He embraces that role.”

The Magic will need to harness all of their toughness in the days ahead.

Chicago Bulls fans are very excited to have Derrick Rose back healthy and ready to roll. And D-Rose himself thinks the team already has great energy. Here’s the Bulls.com Blog:

derrick rose

Rose said he and his teammates are excited and optimistic.

“No disrespect to any of my old teammates, but it seems like we’re way more focused this year,” Rose said. “I think we’re a different team than last year. Of course they learned how to win games without me. But I think we’re a totally different team where all the guys, they’re focused in. Everyone knows their role and I told you this team is totally opposite, where every guy comes in. Even the rookies, they’re acting like professionals when they come in. So for us, we have a great chance to contend for a title.”

There’s no reason to rush onto the court at the start of the season if a player is still healing from injury. The Phoenix Suns are aware of this. Here’s Arizona Sports:

From the moment the Suns drafted Alex Len with the fifth-overall pick, the plan was to bring the 7-foot-1 center along slowly.

That is still the plan, but with the trade of Marcin Gortat to the Washington Wizards, the door is now open for Len to play right away, gaining valuable in-game experience rather than watching from the bench.

“My first NBA season and I already get playing time,” he said. “It’s exciting; just go right at it. I think it’s going to help my progress. I’m going to learn so much faster.”

The learning begins this week — that is, if his left ankle feels OK.

Knicks exercise contract option on Iman Shumpert

New York Knicks President and General Manager Steve Mills announced today that the team has exercised its fourth-year contract option on guard Iman Shumpert.

This was expected. Shumpert is one of the few young building blocks on the Knicks roster, and has exceeded expectations so far in his early NBA career.

In two seasons, Shumpert, 6-5, 220-pounds, holds career averages of 8.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists over 26.0 minutes in 104 games (80 starts) with New York. He appeared in, and started, 45 games last season to average 6.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists over 22.1 minutes. The Oak Park, IL native was originally selected by the Knicks in the first round (17th overall) of 2011 NBA Draft and earned 2011-12 NBA All-Rookie First Team honors.

shannon brown

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has waived guards Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall. The trio was acquired from Phoenix, along with center Marcin Gortat, in exchange for center Emeka Okafor and a 2014 protected first round draft pick.

Brown has averaged 8.1 points and 2.0 rebounds in 374 career games with Cleveland, Chicago, L.A. Lakers, Charlotte and Phoenix. Lee has averaged 4.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 35 career games with Minnesota before being traded to Phoenix last summer. Marshall averaged 3.0 points and 3.0 assists during his rookie season with Phoenix last year.

The Wizards roster now stands at 15.

kawhi leonard

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have exercised their fourth-year options on forward Kawhi Leonard and guard Cory Joseph. Both players are now signed through the 2014-15 season.

In two seasons with the Spurs, Leonard has appeared in 122 games, averaging 9.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.49 steals in 32.8 minutes. In 35 career playoff games, the California native has averaged 11.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.54 steals in 33.0 minutes. Leonard joined the Spurs in a 2011 draft night deal that saw the Silver and Black send George Hill to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Leonard’s rights, along with the rights to Davis Bertans and Erazem Lorbek.

Now entering his third season in San Antonio, Joseph has averaged 3.2 points, 1.5 assists and 1.4 rebounds in 11.5 minutes in a total of 57 games during his first two NBA campaigns. The University of Texas product was drafted by San Antonio with the 29th overall pick in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft.

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced that the team has waived center Marcus Camby (as of Oct. 27) and guard Reggie Williams, which brings the Rockets roster down to 15 players.

Camby has had lingering injury problems, and it doesn’t appear he’ll be able to help any NBA team in the near future. It’ll be interesting to see if he tries to keep playing, or calls it a career.

Look, people. Chris Kaman appreciates some basic communication. Is that too much to ask? Here’s the Los Angeles Daily News (Blog):

chris kaman

The Clippers acquired Chris Paul by trading Kaman along with Eric Gordon, Al-Faroug Aminu and a 2012 first-round pick, a move that instantly brought credibility to the organization and improved the team’s culture. And though Kaman hardly takes offense toward the Clippers shedding ties with him, he still sounded disturbed on how they handled it.

“I didn’t think they were respectful about it,” Kaman said. “After playing eight years, at least they could’ve told me what was going on. I wasn’t going to fight it. I understand it. Who wouldn’t want to make a trade to get Chris Paul. Look what it’s done for the organization. But just tell me. I would’ve appreciated if someone told me instead of finding out on ESPN.”

76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers today announced they have signed rookie free agent forward Brandon Davies.

Davies (6-10, 240) was named All-West Coast Conference First Team as a junior and a senior at Brigham Young University. The 22-year-old was also named Most Valuable Player of the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament pre-NBA Draft camp this past April. Davies also competed for the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2013 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and appeared in five games for the Clippers this preseason.

The Detroit Pistons built up their roster this summer, after already having several pieces in place that have a bright future. How good will they be this season? Here’s a Michigan Live prediction:

Josh Smith

The Pistons have done as well as can be expected in revamping their roster (again) in search of that elusive playoff berth. They’re not a championship contender by any stretch but they’re finally on the right track with the additions of Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings and Chauncey Billups, the continued maturation of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond and some promising rookies. Their November schedule is going to be difficult but I don’t see them getting off to a third straight disastrous start even though they will struggle in November. Look for the Pistons to flirt with a .500 record, fall a game or two short and finally get back into the playoffs.

The Philadelphia 76ers won’t be a good team this season. They may be fun to watch, because young players are fun, but if winning is your thing, don’t look at Philly for now. And with that under consideration, perhaps there’s good reason for injured rookie Nerlens Noel to take his sweet time before stepping onto the court. Here’s Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Nerlens Noel

Three words of advice for Nerlens Noel as he rehabilitates his surgically repaired left knee: Take your time.

The 76ers rookie originally was expected to need 10 months of recovery and rehabilitation because of the anterior cruciate ligament tear he suffered during his lone season at Kentucky.

The 6-foot-11 center is working hard to make that return possible. But missing the entire 2013-14 season might not be a bad option, considering what’s at stake for the Sixers and their 19-year-old franchise player.

I’m tired of hearing that Noel would be better off returning this season. I don’t think returning would be a good decision. And even if he’s prepared to do so, here’s some advice for the Sixers: Don’t tell him. Don’t give Noel any reason to be encouraged to play this season.

Pacers forward Danny Granger out 3 weeks

danny granger

Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger will miss approximately three weeks as he rehabilitates a strained left calf injury sustained in the preseason.The length of time is a precautionary measure as the team wants to ensure Granger is physically ready to play in light of missing all but five games last season due to his knee injury. The rehabilitation time is strictly related to the calf injury.

Hopefully Granger finally returns for the Pacers and is able to contribute regularly from that point on.

According to the Pacers.com blog, “What we know for sure now is that Lance Stephenson will start for the immediate future, and probably for the rest of the season. Coach Frank Vogel stated early in training camp that Granger would start if healthy. More recently, he said Granger would be given starting opportunities once healthy to see how it worked. Given the uncertainty of Granger’s availability, Vogel might decide to stick with Granger in a reserve role, where any uncertainty surrounding him would have less impact. If the Pacers open the season well with Stephenson in the starting lineup, why change?”

NBA preseason is a time for players who might be cut or perhaps make a squad but sit on the end of the bench to prove themselves worthy of respect and a bigger-than-expected role. One young Celtic appears to have done that. Here’s ESPN Boston:

One of the more promising developments of the preseason for the Boston Celtics was the play of undrafted rookie point guard Phil Pressey.

A strong showing as a summer league invite earned Pressey a three-year contract that included a fully guaranteed first season. But even being the only healthy pure ball-handler in camp this season didn’t guarantee the 22-year-old the chance to crack the rotation this year. His play this exhibition season might have.

“[Pressey has] shown a ton,” said Stevens. “I think at times that we’ve played our best basketball with him on the floor. At other times, he hasn’t been as good, and that’s to be predicted. He’s a young guy. But I’ve said this at the start, the guy works at his game. He wants to be good. It’s not an accident that he’s here. He is a good player. He’s a hard worker. He cares. He’s an easy guy to coach. All that stuff adds up at the end of the day. You can see it in the exhibition games.”

The Knicks have some talented players on their bench, but injuries are a serious concern. Which may cause coach Mike Woodson to be a bit more innovative with his rotation than he’d probably prefer. Here’s Anthony Rieber of New York Newsday:

amare stoudemire

Fans at Friday night’s unveiling of the renovated Madison Square Garden also got to see Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin make their preseason debuts for the Knicks.

After a practice on that same floor Saturday, coach Mike Woodson said seeing Stoudemire and Martin playing in the same game during the regular season might be a rare occurrence.

Woodson said he is “really considering” alternating the two former All-Stars on a game-by-game basis as a way of keeping them healthy for the whole season.

So whichever big man plays in the Knicks’ season opener on Wednesday night against Milwaukee at the Garden won’t appear the next night in Chicago against the Bulls, for example.

Here’s Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:

The Celtics, as expected, cut their roster down to 14 yesterday with the release of forwards Damen Bell-Holter and DeShawn Sims, and guards Chris Babb and Kammron Taylor.

Though Babb was one of the team’s best 3-point shooters — a stat that Stevens cherishes — even a rookie minimum contract would have pushed the Celtics over the luxury tax threshold. They are now approximately $200,000 under the line with every intention of not adding payroll.

Don’t be surprised if Babb starts the season with the NBADL’s Maine Red Claws.

But the Celtics do have two important decisions to make by Thursday. They have until that date to reach agreement with Bradley on an extension. Though both sides have indeed been in negotiations, as of this weekend nothing is imminent.

They also have until Thursday to pick up the option on MarShon Brooks for next season, when the shooting guard would make approximately $2.2 million.

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