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Tex787
Tex787
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Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets Preseason Report 2014 posted by Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets reaching the first round of the playoffs, lost to Portland in an overtime game, and 0.9 seconds made all the difference. The offseason was supposed to turn things around for the Rockets, but GM Daryl Morey might have been too ambitious. Morey focused on getting Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony out of free agency. Due to this, the team ended up losing Chandler Parsons. However, the team managed to acquire Alonzon Gee and Trevor Ariza at a cheap cost. The Rockets were able to take advantage of the second round and the late pick in the first round by selecting Nick Johnson and Clint Capela. 

Even though, the Houston Rockets might have lost more than their gains; for 2014-2015, it is still considered a strong team in the playoffs. The Rockets no longer have Omer Asik, Chandler Parsons, and Jeremy Lin, as these players earned many minutes and better or equal pieces could not be bought in. For the SF position, the team bought in Trevor Ariza, who has talent; however, Parsons would have been a better choice overall. Since, the team has Dwight Howard; no efforts are made to acquire expensive and outstanding center back, which could be justified. However, Asik was a disappointment, and replacing Lin with Ish Smith for playing PG does not seem great either.

Losing Chandler Parsons, and the other exchanges, does not seem to look good for the Houston Rockets. Secondly, there are rumors of Howard and Harden drifting apart, and Howards seem to be goofing off more than usual. In fact, Greg Popovich did not spare words in reprimanding Howard for lacking focus, during the All-Star game. Howard might not lack talent, but character is also very important when you are trying to build the whole team around such a person. Howard is known to create trouble in the locker room, and could repeat the same here.

Continue reading "Houston Rockets Preseason Report 2014"


john howard

McGrady to NY helping the way for LeBron posted by john howard

New York unloaded a lot more money on Thursday in hopes of landing LeBron.

Here is what transpired: 

New York gained:  Tracy McGrady and PG Sergio Rodriguez

New York lossed:  Jordan Hill, Jarred Jeffries and draft consideratoins in 2011 and 2012

Houston gained:  Kevin Martin and C Hilton Armstrong and draft considerations from NY in 2011 and 2012 Jarred Jeffries and Jordan Hill

Houston lossed:  Tracy McGrady Cal Landry and Joey Dorsey

Sacremento gained:  Cal Landry, Joey Dorsey, Larry Hughes

Sacramento lossed:  Kevin Martin and Hilton Armstrong

New York is taking a gamble, but a good one.  What they got isn't working.  They have a lot of contracts that are going to expire and unloaded more salary.  So, they will have enough money to sign 2 free agents the maximum.  LeBron James is the first choice.  The other could be McGrady as he gets to audition for the big money for the next 30 games.  That is smart for all parties involved.  New York gets to see if McGrady is a fit.  McGrady gets to prove how good he is. And, Houston is rid of his contract and got something out of it.

Sacramento puzzled me a little here.  They unloaded Martin's salary of 10 mil per year.  But, for how good he is, that is a bargain.  Larry Hughes is up and down.  They did get some youthful talent in Landry and Dorsey, but that wasn't worth Martin.

The big winner was Houston.  They are in the playoff hunt and just got better now and for the future.  They got Kevin Martin, a guy who is immediately there go to guy.  That was SMART.  They gave up proven inside talent Landry for potential inside talent in Hill.  Hill could be better in time.  That get weaker for now, but Martin makes up for it.  Hilton Armstrong provides some size which they currently have none.  Houston did very very good today.

Continue reading "McGrady to NY helping the way for LeBron"


john howard

McGrady sweetstakes---Knicks? posted by john howard

Houston has been shopping Tracy McGrady all year and something is a about to happen.  The leading candidate is the New York Knicks.  McGrady could be a 20pt scorer again with the up tempo style of play New York has. I think he would be a perfect fit for them. 

A third team may have to be involved and latest rumor has the Wizards.  Houston might get Caron Butler from Washington and the Knicks would send much traveled Al Harrington to DC.  Sounds like a swapping of big salaries and not much improvement.  There will be other players involved and draft picks for sure.  But, the main thing is McGrady in the biggest market.  If he could stay healthy for any length of time, he could really profit well.  He might be enough of a surge to get them into the playoffs this year. 

Continue reading "McGrady sweetstakes---Knicks?"


Sabrina

Welcome Back Rip! posted by Sabrina

For starters, welcome back Rip Hamilton! With an impressive 18 points this game against the Golden State Warriors, Rip made sure his return was not overseen. Although Rip was the talk of the game, Rodney Stuckey was the point leader with an impressive 29 points this game.

Rodney Stuckey has proven that he is not a rookie anymore. He is much more consistent in his shot and now has found a place as a leader of the team. This team has definitely changed since winning the 2004 Finals, but it's a great way to start over. Stuckey has found his place and so have Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon. The three rookies all had playing time this game and showed that they have potential. Jonas Jerebko had a few amazing plays, shots and assists, and Austin Daye showed his confidence as he took a chance when he scored tonight. Jerebko and Daye are shining, but Dajuan Summers seems to be left behind. It's a question whether his lack of playing time is due to his lack of skill or adjustment to the NBA, but Jerebko and Daye are taking the spotlight.

A big question in mind was if the chemisty of the team would be broken when Rip and Tayshaun come back, but Rip has shown anyone with doubt that the Pistons can adjust and work together as a team. With Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince still out, the Pistons were able to extend their winning streak to a 5 game streak. The expected date for Ben Gordon and Tayshaun's return have not been confirmed, but it seems like they will be playing soon. Tayshaun, please come back soon. I've been saving you on my fantasy basketball team haha. The Pistons may see a positive change with all their injured players back in the line up, bringing the Pistons back to their full potential.

Continue reading "Welcome Back Rip!"


Colin Linneweber

Blazers Center Greg Oden is an unfortunate bust posted by Colin Linneweber

Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden fractured his left kneecap during a game against the Houston Rockets Saturday night at the Rose Garden.

 

Oden, 21, the first overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Trail Blazers, underwent surgery on his left patella the following day and he will be shelved for the remainder of the 2009-2010 campaign.

 

“I’m obviously disappointed having worked so hard to get where I was. This is a setback but I’ll be back. It’s in God’s hands now,” said Oden, who was averaging 11.7 points and 8.8 rebounds this season as a starter.

 

“I want to thank the fans, my teammates and everyone in the Blazers family for all of their good thoughts.”

 

Oden, an affable seven-foot giant who is likable and easy to support as a fan, apologized to his teammates once he received his diagnosis.

 

“He didn’t do anything,” said forward Lamarcus Aldridge. “People don’t understand that injuries are part of the game. We all are at risk every time we play so I think injuries are going to happen. It’s unfortunate that it’s happened to him.”

 

Many hoops analysts described Oden as a “once-in-a-decade player” after he led Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis to three consecutive Indiana Class 4A basketball championships before he graduated in 2006.

 

After Oden received his high school degree, he decided to attend Ohio State University.

 

Despite battling a serious wrist injury, Oden managed to lead the Buckeyes to the 2007 NCAA championship game where they ultimately lost to the University of Florida 84-75.

Continue reading "Blazers Center Greg Oden is an unfortunate bust"


nbahawks

Hawks soaring high on new NBA season posted by nbahawks


The Atlanta Hawks is creating a lot of buzz in the new season of the National Basketball Association.Despite their less stellar lineup, the Hawks is on top of the leader-board in the young season of the premier professional basketball league in the planet. The Hawks is currently sporting an impressive 11-2 record after they defeated the Houston Rockets 105-103 Friday night.High flying Hawks power forward Josh Smith played hero for the top team in the NBA by scoring on a put back from a miss by Hawks top point guard Mike Bibby with 0.7 seconds remaining. Marvin Williams, the starting small forward of the Hawks top scored for the team with 29 points to help defeat the Rockets, one of the top teams in the NBA Western Conference.The recent victory of the Hawks is remarkable since the Rockets are on the verge of defeating the team and hand them their third loss but the impressive play of Smith saved the youth laden ball club to escaped with a victory. Prior to his game winning shot, Smith stayed mostly from the bench due to foul trouble but he was able to returned in the waning moments of the game and lead his team to victory.The strong and impressive plays of the Hawks is getting huge praise from basketball fans and experts. During the off-season, the Hawks is not among the top contenders for the NBA crown this season due to their less star studded roster. However, despite the lack of big named players in its lineup, the Hawks still showed class and impressive talent to defeat 11 teams so far.Aside from the strong plays of its veteran players Smith, Bibby and Joe Johnson, the Hawks also get huge contribution from newly acquired NBA veteran Jamal Crawford who contribute in both offence and defence for the team. Aside from the Hawks, the run and gun Phoenix Suns is also playing good this NBA season. NBA superstars point-guard Steve Nash and power forward Amare Stoudamire are playing well to lead the Suns to an impressive record in the NBA.Fans of Hawks team can buy the tickets to watch the NBA game live.

Continue reading "Hawks soaring high on new NBA season"


Scott Shepherd

Fun With Box Scores posted by Scott Shepherd

In the NBA these days, it seems like there is a stat for everything. We’ve got PER, offensive efficiency ratings, defensive efficiency rating, and so on and so on.

It seems like every team in the league now employs their own stat guru. And while I’m not one to question the use of all these new statistics to evaluate NBA players (I actually kinda like them), I’m old school.

 

To me, all the new stats in the world can’t tell the story of an NBA game as well as the good, old fashioned box score.

 

Therefore, I’m starting a new feature today called “Fun With Box Scores”.

 

Every Monday, I’ll be posting some of the more interesting things that jumped out at me from the previous week’s box scores.

 

This week, they are, in no particular order:

 

The Cavs were +38 when LeBron was on the floor this week. They were -27 when he wasn’t.

 

Meanwhile, the Cavs were -3 when Shaq was on the floor and +19 when he wasn’t.

 

Rasheed Wallace took 8 shots on Wednesday…all three pointers. For the week, ‘Sheed attempted 36 shots. 25 of them were three pointers.

 

Danilo Gallinari was 8-16 from deep on Saturday. He was 1-6 on two-point shots. For the week he was 18-36 on three-point shots and 4-11 on two-point attempts.

 

Carmelo Anthony had 113 points in 116 minutes this week.

 

Greg Oden had 26 points in 99 minutes. He also had 19 fouls.

 

Speaking of fouls, Hasheem Thabeet had 8 in 24 minutes of play this week. In his defense, he did have four blocks, giving him a nice one block for every two fouls ratio.

Continue reading "Fun With Box Scores"


Scott Shepherd

NBA Opening Night Quick Thoughts posted by Scott Shepherd

Happy New Year!

With the new NBA season set to tip off with four games tonight, here are some of the things I’ll be watching for in tonight’s action.

Boston @ Cleveland, 7:30pm

I can’t wait to see LeBron again this season. Last year, coming off the Olympics, you could see that his focus was on improving defensively. Now, without a summer in the spotlight, I’m curious to see if he’s made any improvements to his already unreal game. Is this the year we finally see LeBron use his Karl Malone-like body to beast on people inside?

Also, I’m curious to see what kind of pregame theatrics the Cavs come up with. You know Shaq can’t stand to be out of the spotlight, I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to one-up LeBron’s chalk thing with something of his own.

As for Boston, I really want to see how Rondo responds to not getting a contract extension. Last year he was a triple-double waiting to happen in the playoffs, but at the same time, Boston was not a threat.

Are we going to see the more subdued Rondo that won the title in ’08, or will it be the ’09 version that was the centerpiece of that team?

And of course, I’m looking forward to seeing Rasheed Wallace’s giant new cornrows. Those would have been ugly 4 years ago. Nice throwback hairstyle, 'Sheed.

Washington @ Dallas, 8:30pm

Curious to see the return of the former Agent Zero. I wrote last season that he could be this decade’s Grant Hill, and not in a good way. Three knee surgeries in 17 months is a terrible route to take to NBA superstardom. It’s nearly impossible to bounce back from that.

Continue reading "NBA Opening Night Quick Thoughts"


Devin

It's official, Lakers' Ron Artest is a Celine Dion fan!!!!!!!!!!! posted by Devin

Celine Dion and Ron Artest go together like cereal and mayonnaise yet somehow the self proclaimed "thug", Artest, makes it work.  The guy is known for his wild antics such as going into the crowd and beating up a fan, but it seems that Artest is beginning to display a softer side.  As a Laker fan I love that we are bringing a little crazy on our team because a team can always use a little crazy, right? Although he can't carry a tune and the video is clearly irritating you get a sense that he means what he is singing which makes is somewhat enjoyable to watch.  I am going to stop talking about it and just let you watch it:

This is going to be an entertaining 5 years for us Laker fans.  Artest is bringin' the crazy.

Devin

Continue reading "It's official, Lakers' Ron Artest ..."


Danny Noblitt

Overrating Trevor Ariza posted by Danny Noblitt

As a Laker fan who is one of Trevor Ariza's biggest supporters and whose friend had him dubbed Trevor "the future" Ariza, it was sad to see him go. He was a key cog in the Lakers' championship wagon and delivered some of the most exciting and timely plays of the season. He is still young and will probably get better.

But let's not get carried away. Trevor was a 9 point, 4 rebound a game guy this past season who was a great wing defender. This is not to diminish what he brought to the Lakers, but rather to put it in it's proper place. Ron Artest put up superior numbers and played a more vital role for the Rockets, but everyone is talking about how Ariza is ther better player. It's silly.

This leads me to my more general point that it is easy to overvalue a player based on one playoff performance and playing on the right team. Ariza benefitted from coming alive at the right time (the playoffs), playing in a huge market (Los Angeles) alongside one of the all-time greats (Kobe Bryant) and for the best coach of all-time (Phil Jackson). His accomplishments shined in the LA spotlight and he was deified for his performance. He had some great moments, no doubt. His late-game steals against Denver in the Western Conference Finals were magical, and his top of the key heave against Orlando in game 5 of the NBA Finals was the most underrated play of the 2009 playoffs.

But based on public perception, you would think he was a 20 point a game guy who shot 50% from beyond the arc. While he did shoot 47% from 3-point range in the playoffs, he is 30% from that distance for his career. He has struggled in every system other he has ever played in and cannot create his own shot.

Continue reading "Overrating Trevor Ariza"

Houston Rockets News

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Jeanie Buss: 'Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser%2

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that Kobe Bryant is some wonderful, cheerful, galoot of a man. That he is super swell to work with, and that his on-record tough guy musings spat out in an expletive-laden style that reminds of a 11-year-old who just realized he could use blue words is just a show for the media. Let’s pretend that, behind the scenes, Kobe Bryant is the ideal teammate, and that he’s promised many things to prospective Los Angeles Lakers teammates through the years. Promised that the storied franchise will be theirs, all theirs, once Bryant retires and the salary cap shoots way up upon his retirement. Assured that he’d willingly give up shots and the ball in order to develop a more harmonious partnership with afree agent partner. Or partners. Pointed out that there are still grapes to be eaten in California, and that he’d sacrifice whatever it takes to win, even if that means abandoning the spotlight and ceding the reins of the offense. Let’s just try to live in that world, for a moment. It may take a Brando-like sense of method acting to put yourself in that spot, but give it a try. Now ask yourself, in the face of a kinder and gentler Kobe Bean, does this make Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Pau Gasol, or even LeBron James “losers” for wanting to play elsewhere? Laker president Jeanie Buss sure seems to think so. From an appearance on ESPN on Thursday : "Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser, and I'm glad they wouldn't come to the team," Buss said during a "SportsCenter" interview Thursday. All of this noise comes on the heels of a much-ballyhooed and much - derided feature from ESPN’s Henry Abbott , who used a retinue of anonymous sources to pin the blame on Kobe Bryant for the Lakers’ demise since the championship season of 2010, and the likely nasty two seasons to come in the final two years of Bryant’s ridiculous $48.5 million contract. Buss, like most of us, has made her way through the tome : "I read the story," Buss said Thursday. "I don't agree with any of it. If there is somebody that's on our payroll who is saying things like that, I'll soon get to the bottom of it, and they won't be working for us anymore." As with all things Kobe, and as what should have been the case with the initial ESPN piece, there needs to be a bit of nuance here. Rebuilding through free agency in the modern era, even with one star or near-All-Star (as a diminished Bryant is, post Achilles surgery) already on hand is no way to build a champion. A team needs younger assets, pieces delivered via trade, and role players that are already in-house. Had Bryant put his ego aside and signed for a contract along the lines of what Dirk Nowitzki recently re-signed for (three-years, $25 million for a player that is better than Bryant right now), and if we’re still working under the assumption that free agents would love to play with a Kuddly Kobe, that’s still a massively long shot that the Lakers would be able to cull together a contending roster full of free agents during the last offseason. On top of that, teams just aren’t dumping overpaid-yet-productive players on other teams with cap space via trade these days. The salaries have evened out, and not even the Brooklyn Nets are dealing Deron Williams just for a trade exception. General manager Mitch Kupchak understands this, and while he was well aware that he was basically signing away two years of his life by giving Bryant a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension, that’s what you do when you want to keep a job. That’s what you do when you’re mindful of the fact that each potential Bryant partner had plenty of reasons to say “no” to Los Angeles. All Mitch had to do is look at the list. There are actual people on it, with real names. Dwight Howard? Even with his back worries, he’ll eventually make all the money he can handle, and he left a limping Bryant (who had just torn his Achilles two and a half months prior) to work for a team in Houston with a far younger and healthier shooting guard in James Harden, one that won just as many games as the Bryant-led Lakers the year before. Paul George? He may be from Los Angeles, but the Pacers could offer him far more money than El Lay to stay in Indiana and play for what was then a championship contender. He would have had to wait out his rookie contract, play for less money on a qualifying offer, and explore unrestricted free agency all while hoping that he didn’t suffer a career-altering injury while working his way toward El Segundo. Sadly, George would suffer that sort of injury just a month after he would have purportedly signed with the Lakers. Signed for, again, far less than he’ll make in Indianapolis – an area he actually likes. Chris Bosh? If anything, he should have taken less money to go to the Houston Rockets, and work in a killer lineup with Howard, Harden and an ostensibly re-signed Chandler Parsons. Instead, he understandably chose to take as much money as possible to stay in Miami, a place his family is just-as understandably comfortable with. He won’t win another championship there, but he wasn’t winning one alongside Kobe either. Pau Gasol? The guy seeks challenges, and we dig that. The idea of he and Joakim Noah flinging the ball around the Chicago frontcourt, working in a multi-cultural city, appealed to him. He took less money and moved to a climate that involves tortuous winters, and this is where our doubling down on the idea of Kobe Bryant as a model teammate is starting to crack. LeBron James? Why does he need to play alongside an aging Kobe Bryant (and lord knows who else in L.A.) at this point in his career? Especially when he can go back home to play alongside one of the league’s best point guards, knowing that that Kevin Love deal was already just about signed off on even before James announced his free agent decision. Play at home, make a ton of money, and create perhaps the league’s best roster in a week … or go play with Kobe? Carmelo Anthony? The Knicks won’t be winning a championship either, but he and his family like New York, and they like making as much money as possible. Anthony, as it has been since his AAU days, also likes being the face of a franchise – something he was never going to be in Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant (the guy that didn’t bother to stay in Los Angeles during the opening of free agent negotiations), of all people, should understand this. Losers, all? If you want to peel back on the idea of Kobe as a model teammate, fine. Carlos Boozer didn’t even choose to play for the Lakers this year, and he lives in Los Angeles. Jeremy Lin was traded there, Jordan Hill had to be overpaid to stay there, and prized free agent signee Ed Davis strangely wasn’t receiving any offers elsewhere. This summer was as big as free agency whiffs come. The Buss family was wrong to offer Kobe Bryant that much money, but the Buss family (that makes their money off of the Los Angeles Lakers, with no other outside revenue streams) was also right not to alienate a fan base that has already bought tickets, and suites, by entering into an unsettling relationship with their appointed Mr. Laker. Kobe Bryant was wrong to take all that money, especially when he bleats on about wanting to win more than anything else while gumming up the team’s cap picture, but he was completely correct in taking as much as he possibly could from a family that has made so much off of him. Mitch Kupchak was wrong to ignore his better basketball instincts in signing off on the deal, but he also likely knew that each free agent turn involves individuals with different agendas, and sometimes the timing isn’t right. Sometimes the timing is right, and for whatever reason you’re allowed to pull in Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant in the same summer, or grab Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the same summer, or deal for a Hall of Famer like Pau Gasol weeks before the trade deadline. Sometimes, a series of individuals all decline – not en masse, just at various points – to come to Los Angeles to play with Kobe Bryant. For whatever reasons. And, as always, a bit of nuance needs to be tossed out there. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Harden helps Rockets beat Spurs 96-87 in preseason (The Associated Press)

The Houston Rockets finished off the preseason with a solid defensive effort against the San Antonio Spurs. James Harden scored 25 points, and Houston used a big run before halftime to beat San Antonio 96-87 on Friday night. The Rockets held the Spurs to 41 percent shooting. They also forced 16 San Antonio turnovers, 13 in the first half. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Harden helps Rockets beat Spurs 96-87 in preseason (Yahoo Sports)

[read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Jeanie Buss: 'Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser%2

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that Kobe Bryant is some wonderful, cheerful, galoot of a man. That he is super swell to work with, and that his on-record tough guy musings spat out in an expletive-laden style that reminds of a 11-year-old who just realized he could use blue words is just a show for the media. Let’s pretend that, behind the scenes, Kobe Bryant is the ideal teammate, and that he’s promised many things to prospective Los Angeles Lakers teammates through the years. Promised that the storied franchise will be theirs, all theirs, once Bryant retires and the salary cap shoots way up upon his retirement. Assured that he’d willingly give up shots and the ball in order to develop a more harmonious partnership with a free agent partner. Or partners. Pointed out that there are still grapes to be eaten in California, and that he’d sacrifice whatever it takes to win, even if that means abandoning the spotlight and ceding the reins of the offense. Let’s just try to live in that world, for a moment. It may take a Brando-like sense of method acting to put yourself in that spot, but give it a try. Now ask yourself, in the face of a kinder and gentler Kobe Bean, does this make Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Pau Gasol, or even LeBron James “losers” for wanting to play elsewhere? Laker president Jeanie Buss sure seems to think so. From an appearance on ESPN on Thursday : "Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser, and I'm glad they wouldn't come to the team," Buss said during a "SportsCenter" interview Thursday. All of this noise comes on the heels of a much-ballyhooed and much - derided feature from ESPN’s Henry Abbott , who used a retinue of anonymous sources to pin the blame on Kobe Bryant for the Lakers’ demise since the championship season of 2010, and the likely nasty two seasons to come in the final two years of Bryant’s ridiculous $48.5 million contract. Buss, like most of us, has made her way through the tome : "I read the story," Buss said Thursday. "I don't agree with any of it. If there is somebody that's on our payroll who is saying things like that, I'll soon get to the bottom of it, and they won't be working for us anymore." As with all things Kobe, and as what should have been the case with the initial ESPN piece, there needs to be a bit of nuance here. Rebuilding through free agency in the modern era, even with one star or near-All-Star (as a diminished Bryant is, post Achilles surgery) already on hand is no way to build a champion. A team needs younger assets, pieces delivered via trade, and role players that are already in-house. Had Bryant put his ego aside and signed for a contract along the lines of what Dirk Nowitzki recently re-signed for (three-years, $25 million for a player that is better than Bryant right now), and if we’re still working under the assumption that free agents would love to play with a Kuddly Kobe, that’s still a massively long shot that the Lakers would be able to cull together a contending roster full of free agents during the last offseason. On top of that, teams just aren’t dumping overpaid-yet-productive players on other teams with cap space via trade these days. The salaries have evened out, and not even the Brooklyn Nets are dealing Deron Williams just for a trade exception. General manager Mitch Kupchak understands this, and while he was well aware that he was basically signing away two years of his life by giving Bryant a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension, that’s what you do when you want to keep a job. That’s what you do when you’re mindful of the fact that each potential Bryant partner had plenty of reasons to say “no” to Los Angeles. All Mitch had to do is look at the list. There are actual people on it, with real names. Dwight Howard? Even with his back worries, he’ll eventually make all the money he can handle, and he left a limping Bryant (who had just torn his Achilles two and a half months prior) to work for a team in Houston with a far younger and healthier shooting guard in James Harden, one that won just as many games as the Bryant-led Lakers the year before. Paul George? He may be from Los Angeles, but the Pacers could offer him far more money than El Lay to stay in Indiana and play for what was then a championship contender. He would have had to wait out his rookie contract, play for less money on a qualifying offer, and explore unrestricted free agency all while hoping that he didn’t suffer a career-altering injury while working his way toward El Segundo. Sadly, George would suffer that sort of injury just a month after he would have purportedly signed with the Lakers. Signed for, again, far less than he’ll make in Indianapolis – an area he actually likes. Chris Bosh? If anything, he should have taken less money to go to the Houston Rockets, and work in a killer lineup with Howard, Harden and an ostensibly re-signed Chandler Parsons. Instead, he understandably chose to take as much money as possible to stay in Miami, a place his family is just-as understandably comfortable with. He won’t win another championship there, but he wasn’t winning one alongside Kobe either. Pau Gasol? The guy seeks challenges, and we dig that. The idea of he and Joakim Noah flinging the ball around the Chicago frontcourt, working in a multi-cultural city, appealed to him. He took less money and moved to a climate that involves tortuous winters, and this is where our doubling down on the idea of Kobe Bryant as a model teammate is starting to crack. LeBron James? Why does he need to play alongside an aging Kobe Bryant (and lord knows who else in L.A.) at this point in his career? Especially when he can go back home to play alongside one of the league’s best point guards, knowing that that Kevin Love deal was already just about signed off on even before James announced his free agent decision. Play at home, make a ton of money, and create perhaps the league’s best roster in a week … or go play with Kobe? Carmelo Anthony? The Knicks won’t be winning a championship either, but he and his family like New York, and they like making as much money as possible. Anthony, as it has been since his AAU days, also likes being the face of a franchise – something he was never going to be in Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant (the guy that didn’t bother to stay in Los Angeles during the opening of free agent negotiations), of all people, should understand this. Losers, all? If you want to peel back on the idea of Kobe as a model teammate, fine. Carlos Boozer didn’t even choose to play for the Lakers this year, and he lives in Los Angeles. Jeremy Lin was traded there, Jordan Hill had to be overpaid to stay there, and prized free agent signee Ed Davis strangely wasn’t receiving any offers elsewhere. This summer was as big as free agency whiffs come. The Buss family was wrong to offer Kobe Bryant that much money, but the Buss family (that makes their money off of the Los Angeles Lakers, with no other outside revenue streams) was also right not to alienate a fan base that has already bought tickets, and suites, by entering into an unsettling relationship with their appointed Mr. Laker. Kobe Bryant was wrong to take all that money, especially when he bleats on about wanting to win more than anything else while gumming up the team’s cap picture, but he was completely correct in taking as much as he possibly could from a family that has made so much off of him. Mitch Kupchak was wrong to ignore his better basketball instincts in signing off on the deal, but he also likely knew that each free agent turn involves individuals with different agendas, and sometimes the timing isn’t right. Sometimes the timing is right, and for whatever reason you’re allowed to pull in Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant in the same summer, or grab Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the same summer, or deal for a Hall of Famer like Pau Gasol weeks before the trade deadline. Sometimes, a series of individuals all decline – not en masse, just at various points – to come to Los Angeles to play with Kobe Bryant. For whatever reasons. And, as always, a bit of nuance needs to be tossed out there. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops [read full article]

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BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Phoenix Suns (Ball Don't Lie)

The Arizona desert turned up a UFO crash in 1953, purple alien eggs just last year and Lord knows what else in the 60 years between. It’s only natural the Phoenix Suns add another wrinkle to their own weird science experiment, turning a two-headed snake into a three-headed monster in the backcourt. In a strange summer, general manager Ryan McDonough agreed to  a four-year, $27 million contract with Sacramento Kings dynamo Isaiah Thomas on the day the NBA’s moratorium lifted, seemingly signaling the end of fellow restricted free agent point guard Eric Bledsoe’s fun in the Arizona sun. But the NBA Executive of the Year runner-up doubled down, inking Mini LeBron to a five-year, $70 million deal some two months later. With All-NBA Third Team selection Goran Dragic also in the Phoenix mix, McDonough effectively created the league’s most dangerous polycephalous point guard. So, the Suns will roll the dice with a troika of All-Star-caliber guards, identified flying object Gerald Green and a mysterious frontcourt in an attempt to recreate last year’s bizarre 48-34 record, which tied the 2007-08 Golden State Warriors for the best season by a team that didn't make the playoffs since the NBA switched to the 16-team playoff format in 1984. Under NBA Coach of the Year runner-up (noticing a trend here) Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix played at a top-10 pace in his first season at the helm, and the Suns will run again, even faster if possible. Only, they’ll have to do so without Channing Frye, whose floor-stretching capacity from the power forward position translated into 8.3 additional points per 100 possessions in his 28.2 minutes a night on the floor, according to Basketball-Reference.com . Out of the Frye pan and into the fire will be Markieff Morris, whose own breakout 2013-14 season (2,153 minutes, 13.8 points, six rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, 56.4 True Shooting percentage, 18.4 Player Efficiency Rating) earned him a four-year, $52 million deal to split unevenly with his twin brother, Marcus Morris. Sharpshooting veteran free agent forward Anthony Tolliver (41.3 percent on a career-high 247 3-point tries for Charlotte last year) and young center projects Miles Plumlee and Alex Len round out a bigs mess. Add a pair of potential mid-first-round steals in T.J. Warren and Tyler Ennis, another Dragic named Zoran and a post- “super extreme” DUI suspension P.J. Tucker, and it should be another supernatural season for the 2013-14 League Pass legends. Last year taught us this much about the Suns: They are here. 2013-14 season in 140 characters or less: What the Ish is this? The weirdest collection of awesome under the Suns. Did the summer help at all? The Suns let their most productive big walk , spent the money Frye got in Orlando on a third point guard , handed one contract to a pair of twins , signed their best player’s brother and drafted one half of Bojan and Bogdan Bogdanovic — all as their starting small forward spent a no expenses paid three-day vacation in county jail . So … just yourtypical NBA offseason? Seriously, that’s freaky, even by their standards. Go-to offseason acquisition: Had Thomas not stood just 69 inches tall, he would have commanded far more than $27 million over four years in free agency. After all, the Sactown sparkplug was one of six players to average 20 points and six assists while posting a PER above 20 this past season. The others: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook. Those dudes aren’t so bad. Thomas comes with another caveat, though, since Sacramento’s fast-paced offense and non-existent defense over the past decade has produced plenty of padded stats that haven’t translated elsewhere. In the past 10 years, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Kevin Martin, Ron Artest, Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic combined for one 20-point-per-game season upon leaving the Kings. At the very least, Thomas allows Hornacek to keep some combo of Bledsoe, Dragic and Thomas on the floor for the majority of the game, strumming that double-necked point-guard guitar all night long. The fact that Thomas’ per-minute averages have remained steady as both a starter and reserve in his three-year career is an encouraging sign that the Suns will be able to keep making the same sweet music they did last season. Glaring weakness: The Suns don’t quite have a black hole in the middle, but it’s an awful dark mass in the space-time continuum. Plumlee and Len are expected to receive the bulk of those minutes, and that duo (mostly Plumlee, due to the multiple injuries that scuttled Len's rookie season) anchored the NBA’s fourth-worst efficiency differential at the position last season, according to HoopsStats.com (minus-3.8). Plumlee’s minutes plunged throughout 2013-14 as Hornacek got more comfortable playing Markieff Morris and the since-departed Frye in smaller, more offensively potent lineups. As a result, though, Phoenix allowed 42.2 points in the paint per game , also the league’s fourth-worst group. Not even highly regarded defensive assistant coach Mike Longabardi could help the Suns rise above the middle of the pack in points allowed per possession. Plumlee is still their best bet to clog the middle on defense, even if he does the same on offense. Contributor with something to prove: Following his client’s second knee surgery in three years, Bledsoe's agent spent the offseason demanding a max contract for a player who has started all of 78 NBA games. McDonough, who reportedly offered four years and $48 million, entered a summer-long staring contest with Rich Paul, and the two sides met closer to Bledsoe's demands. To say the 24-year-old has something to prove is an understatement. For chunks of last season, Bledsoe replicated what so many projected for Chris Paul's former backup. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound brick of muscle averaged 17.7 points (57.8 TS%), 5.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds while generally tormenting opposing backcourts alongside Dragic in 43 games. That's encouraging for a fourth-year point guard on his rookie contract; now it's expected from an eight-figure-salaried franchise player. Potential breakout stud: Double ankle surgeries stunted Year 1 of The Alex Len Project, presenting a built-in excuse for the No. 5 overall pick’s PER (7.3), true shooting percentage (46.9) and statistical averages over 42 games (two points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.4 blocks in 8.6 minutes per game). Now, double finger fractures — on the same right pinkie, mind you — offer another easy excuse for the 7-foot-1 Ukrainian to start slow out of the gate. Yet Len made huge strides from his freshman to sophomore seasons at Maryland, and the 21-year-old has the potential to take a similar step forward after one year under Hornacek and Longabardi. He added the customary 15 pounds of muscle, and then collected six points, six boards and a pair of blocks before breaking his finger 25 minutes into Summer League. The re-broken finger is a setback for a player in desperate need of preseason practice, but he’ll still start the regular season healthy, and the minutes will be there for him to demonstrate his improvement, especially if he develops a mid-range jumper. Best-case scenario: It won’t be easy for Dragic to repeat his breakout All-NBA season, Green to shoot 3’s at a 40 percent clip again and Tolliver to replace Frye’s 2,312 minutes, but some combo of Bledsoe’s health, the addition of Thomas and the improvements of the Morris twins, Plumlee and/or Len should help the Suns recreate the magic that made them the NBA darlings of 2013-14. Even then, they’ll still be navigating a crowded Western Conference playoff picture that may also include Anthony Davis’ New Orleans Pelicans — all for the right to face the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers or San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Them’s the breaks for a franchise on the rise. If everything falls apart: Even if the science experiment takes a turn for the worse and the Suns just miss the postseason for a second straight year, McDonough will still have a pair of lottery picks at his disposal. Phoenix still owns a top-five protected pick from the Steve Nash trade, so barring a bit of Los Angeles Lakers luck, the worst-case scenario — a couple of mid-round picks — isn’t the worst consolation prize. Unless, of course, the team’s talented young core undergoes an abduction of sorts. Stranger things have happened in the Arizona desert. The Suns are on standing on the edge of an event horizon. Strap in for another weird, wild ride. Kelly Dwyer’s Best Guess at a Record: Phoenix will finish 47-35, eighth in the Western Conference. Read all of Ball Don't Lie's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews (links added as they're published): EASTERN CONFERENCE Atlanta Hawks • Boston Celtics • Brooklyn Nets • Charlotte Hornets • Chicago Bulls • Cleveland Cavaliers • Detroit Pistons • Indiana Pacers • Miami Heat • Milwaukee Bucks • New York Knicks • Orlando Magic • Philadelphia 76ers • Toronto Raptors • Washington Wizards WESTERN CONFERENCE Dallas Mavericks • Denver Nuggets • Golden State Warriors • Houston Rockets • Los Angeles Clippers • Los Angeles Lakers • Memphis Grizzlies • Minnesota Timberwolves • New Orleans Pelicans • Oklahoma City Thunder • Phoenix Suns • Portland Trail Blazers • Sacramento Kings • San Antonio Spurs • Utah Jazz - - - - - - - Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach [read full article]

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