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NBA PM: Can Redd Fix Suns at Two-Guard?
Posted By Eric Pincus On December 29, 2011 @ 5:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
As noted in Bill Ingram’s report earlier in the day, the Phoenix Suns have signed veteran free agent guard Michael Redd to a one-year, minimum contract.
Shooting guard Redd is an 11-year pro who once averaged 26.7 points a game (2006/7). He was an All-Star in 2004 and has a career three-point percentage of 38.3%.
Taken by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round (43rd), Redd became the team’s franchise player until sidelined him to just 61 games over the last three seasons. Redd tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee, twice, and is still considered a couple of weeks away from availability.
“Michael Redd has a proven pedigree as a first-rate NBA scorer,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby in a prepared release. “He will work with our renowned training staff to get into basketball shape. When he is ready to play, Michael will be a welcome addition to our team.”
The Suns have started the 2011/12 season with two straight losses, by a combined margin of 21 points. Jared Dudley has replaced Vince Carter (released over the offseason) at shooting guard where he’s struggled so far at just 4.5 points a game on 23.1% shooting.
Recently acquired guard Shannon Brown is doing about the same at four points nightly on 26.7% shooting.
The Suns are confident that both Dudley and Brown will improve but if the Phoenix training staff, often considered the best in the league, can do the same magic on Redd as they did Grant Hill (and to an extent Steve Nash), perhaps Michael can come in and provide some valuable outside shooting.
In addition to averaging over 21 points a game over six straight years, Redd won an Olympic gold medal in Beijing in 2008.
The typical minimum salary for a player with at least 10 years of experience is $1.35 million, although Redd’s might be closer to an even $1 million with the lockout-shortened season (plus the two games already played by the Suns).
The league reimburses for a portion of a veterans salary, so before proration Redd would be on the Phoenix books for $854k.
The Suns finished tenth in the Western Conference last year at 40-42.
While the New Orleans Hornets may drop out of the running after trading Chris Paul while the Los Angeles Clippers anticipate their first return to the postseason since 2006 as the beneficiary of the deal.
Coach Mark Jackson of the Golden State Warriors promised playoffs his first day on the job. The Denver Nuggets seem to be a confident, playoff-bound team even without Carmelo Anthony.
It’s going to take a lot for the Suns to climb back up to the top eight. Some good signs include the play of big men Robin Lopez, Hakim Warrick and rookie Markieff Morris.
The team certainly needs some guard support given their measly 83.5 points per game. So far this just isn’t Phoenix Suns basketball . . . perhaps Redd can be of some true assistance.
Nuggets Want to “Run, Run, Run”
The Denver Nuggets were one of the wild-card teams last season after the Anthony trade, but a strong finish and 50-32 record led to a solid first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder would win in five games and while Denver was headed into a summer of uncertainty, the organization re-signed Nene and Arron Afflalo while adding on veteran Andre Miller (to Portland for Raymond Felton), Corey Brewer, Rudy Fernandez and rookies Kenneth Faried and Jordan Hamilton.
The immediate results have been impressive. Denver is a perfect 2-0 while outscoring their opponents by a Western Conference-best 19.5 points per game (second overall to the Miami HEAT’s 27).
“[We've] got a lot of talent. I think we kind of remind us of the team we had after the trade, a team that’s ten, eleven deep,” said forward Al Harrington. “I think it’s going to put us in a position to outrun a lot of teams, keep fresh bodies out on the floor. That’s probably going to be our motto, ‘Run, run, run,’ and try to tire teams out so in the fourth can get in and close out games.”
Harrington has taken advantage of his minutes off the bench to score 18 points a game on 62.5% shooting over the team’s first two victories.
While Coach George Karl has been starting both Nene and Timofey Mozgov in the front court, Harrington already may have a bigger role after the departure of forward Kenyon Martin who signed overseas in China.
While Martin has since been released from his Chinese contract, he won’t be eligible to re-sign in the NBA until around March.
With 13-years’ experience, Harrington has been in the league longer than the combined years of four of the team’s starters (Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari and Mozgov). As one of the few true veterans on the squad, Harrington is doing his best to help his younger teammates.
“I mean I’m very vocal,” said Harrington. “I try to lead by example and if guys have issues or whatever and want to come talk to me about it, I’m there for them. I have seen a lot in my career so I can be a good sounding board for a lot of these guys.”
“A lot of younger guys like rookies . . . kind of gravitate towards me more than anybody else and I just try to teach them the right way to be professional and how to have longevity in this league,” continued Al. “I try telling them that it’s going to be through hard work, [that will] keep us going every day, night in night out.”
So far the Nuggets’ younger players have excelled with Lawson leading the team at 21 points a game on 61.5% shooting. Gallinari and Afflalo are also averaging double figures as are fellow veterans Nene and Miller.
The Nuggets don’t have what many would consider to be a true “superstar” but the team concept can be extremely potent in the NBA when filled with talented players from top to bottom.
Still, at some point in a tightly-contested game, someone is going to need to emerge as the team’s primary scorer.
“I think somebody’s gonna have to emerge on this team to be a go to guy when we need baskets,” said Harrington. “That’s just gonna have to be something that’s just going to naturally happen for one or two guys on the team.”
“I think, obviously, Nene’s going to be a big part. I think Ty with his quickness,” continued the Denver forward. “Arron Afflalo, he made some big shots for us last year. I think he’s ready to take a bigger role on this team. I think it could probably be any one of those guys.”
Harrington is a believer in the often underrated Afflalo but notes the young guard may have to take on more offensively.
“People don’t understand all the other intangibles he brings to our team to help us win,” said Harrington of Afflalo. “I think before we get to that upper echelon he’s gonna have to score more . . . to get the kind of recognition he deserves.”
The rest of the season certainly won’t be as “easy” as the first two games but the Nuggets seem to be a team destined for the postseason.
“We’re going to be one of the top eight teams, that’s for sure,” said Harrington. “We just wanna make the playoffs and then get in there and see what we can do from there. That’s just our focus. Obviously we don’t know if we’re gonna be a number one seed or a number eight seed but we definitely feel confident that we gonna make the playoffs and then get out there and see what happens.”
Denver continues their run tonight in Portland against the Blazers before visiting the Los Angeles Lakers on the 31st.
Billups the Next Cassell?
The big splash the Los Angeles Clippers made this summer was trading for Chris Paul.
While it may not have garnered as much attention, the waiver claim of Chauncey Billups (who was amnestied by the New York Knicks) was a major coup for the emerging Clippers.
LA has been a team through the years that has struggled to finish off games. For 36-42 minutes, the Clippers would often compete only to fall short in the end.
That changed back in 2005/6 when the Clippers acquired Sam Cassell from the Minnesota Timberwolves (in return for Marko Jaric). It was also that deal that brought LA the Minnesota draft pick that helped land Paul.
Cassell was immediately the team’s best closer in franchise history and the playoff run that nearly led to the Western Conference Finals was arguably the best year in franchise history.
Unfortunately LA got Cassell on the tail end of his career.
“Well, you know what, that’s an interesting comparison that you make, I hadn’t thought of that,” said Clipper President Andy Roeser, “We are delighted that [Billups] has joined us. He’s just done so many good things in the league, and we think he can really help us.”
“He does, in that regard, remind you a little bit of like a Sam Cassell,” continued Roeser. “[He's] going to be about basketball and winning, and that’s the focus we want to have.
Billups has said he intends to play at least another few seasons and has indicated recently he may be open to finishing out his career as a Clipper.
Vice President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey noted immediately after the acquisition that the team has Billups’ Bird Rights and the intention to pursue a long-term future with the former NBA Finals MVP.
Olshey praised Billups IQ on the floor as a boon for the Clippers.
“You know, Chauncey Billups could probably coach or run this team right now, if that was what he really wanted to do,” said Olshey. “He’s that kind of guy, and at some point he’s going to run a franchise or be head coach in this league.”
The Clippers took their opening-day game 105-86 with an impressive fourth-quarter close-out on the Golden State Warriors.
On Wednesday they were dismantled by the experienced San Antonio Spurs (115-90).
While the Clippers have high expectations this year, it’s not going to click entirely overnight.
Having a player nicknamed “Mr. Big Shot” as arguably the team’s third option will eventually pay dividends.
LA will host the Chicago Bulls on Friday in the Clippers’ home opener.
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