HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Kupchak On Howard: ‘We got the best’
By Eric Pincus
The Los Angeles Lakers introduced Dwight Howard on Friday after completing a four-team trade with the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets.
Howard spoke about how excited he is to be a Laker, but did his best to avoid any and all questions about the recent past and the near future. For Howard it was about the season ahead – not the lengthy drama that led to his departure from Orlando and not the uncertainty of his contract beyond the current year.
It doesn’t make much financial sense for Howard to take an extension from the Lakers, which would only amount to three additional years. Once he hits free agency next July, he’ll be eligible for a more-lucrative five-year deal.
Howard didn’t hint he’d stay. He didn’t suggest he wouldn’t. He just chose to avoid the topic altogether.
Beasley Excited For Fresh Start With Suns
By Alex Kennedy
Seconds after the clock struck midnight and free agency began on July 1, the Phoenix Suns contacted Michael Beasley and scheduled a meeting with the unrestricted free agent. The Suns didn’t waste any time making their interest known and they were the first team to contact the forward.
After meeting with Beasley on two separate occasions, once in Los Angeles and once in Phoenix, the two sides agreed to a three-year deal worth $18 million. The Suns officially signed Beasley last month and the 23-year-old believes the change of scenery will allow him to further his development as a player.
“This is a new beginning for me in Phoenix,” Beasley said. “I’m excited. The Suns are a great fit for me. They look to get out and run some, which I’m accustomed to doing. The fans have embraced me and I look forward to contributing this season.”
Did Steve Nash Make Mike D’Antoni?
By Derek Page
After winning back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards in the mid-2000′s, some questioned whether or not Steve Nash was a legitimate MVP or just a product of Mike D’Antoni’s high-octane offensive system. Even though Nash led the Phoenix Suns – a lottery team the year before he joined the squad – to new heights at the point guard position, there were whispers by some that it was actually D’Antoni who should take the lion’s share of the credit.
Looking at the stats, D’Antoni’s offensive numbers since leaving Nash and the Suns behind before the 2008 season would beg to differ with that assessment. While still featuring some of the best offenses in the NBA, there was definitely a drop off in New York for D’Antoni.
In roughly three-and-a-half seasons with the New York Knicks, D’Antoni’s offense ranked in the top ten every full season he coached. This included top five finishes in points scored in two of the previous three seasons leading up to 2012.
Jonas Valanciunas Shines In Limited Time
By Stephen Brotherston
Even though Toronto Raptors rookie Jonas Valanciunas has been restricted to a limited role by Lithuania’s head coach Kestutis Kemzura, the 20-year-old center has shined in the minutes he hass received. The box score critics of Valanciunas’ efforts should take another look and if you enjoy basketball, Lithuania is a team worth watching as their battle with the U.S. attests.
Lithuania has a history of success at the Olympics and World Championships and is one of only a handful of teams to defeat a U.S. team comprised entirely of NBA players at the Olympics. Even though Lithuania seems predestined to finish fourth in their pool and likely face a quick exit in the Quarter Finals, Coach Kemzura is not in London to develop players for the future and Valanciunas has accepted that his minutes will be limited regardless of how he plays. Kemzura will rely on his veterans even when they struggle.
Over four games, Valanciunas has averaged 4.5 points on 60 percent shooting, 2.3 rebounds, 0.5 blocks and 2.5 fouls in ten minutes. The oft-cited observation that Kemzura is sitting Valanciunas due to foul trouble doesn’t hold up as Valanciunas has yet to receive a fourth foul in any game.