HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Miles Ready To Fight For Playoff Berth
By Yannis Koutroupis
For the first time in C.J. Miles’ career the swingman will be playing for a team other than the Utah Jazz. Drafted straight out of high school by the Jazz in 2005, Miles’ tenure with the team came to an end this offseason as he signed a two-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“It was different,” Miles said of free agency to HOOPSWORLD. “Seven years in the same place I pretty much knew where I was going to be every summer coming out. This was the first summer I wasn’t restricted so I kind of had more power as far as going into the decision where I was going to be at. With Cleveland it was just about making the right basketball decision for myself. I felt it wasn’t about money; it wasn’t about anything but basketball. I felt like being able to grow more as a player and being able to find a place where they’re building a young core, to step in, help, and grow myself was a complete deal.”
The last time Miles was a free agent was the summer of 2008. The Oklahoma City Thunder signed him to a four-year offer sheet, but because he was restricted the Jazz held the right to match, which they did. At the time the Thunder were coming off of a 20-win season, but the foundation that helped build them into the Western Conference powerhouse that they are today was forming then and Miles sees something similar brewing in Cleveland.
“It’s a lot like that, I feel,” Miles said. “Honestly I’m a couple years older, but other than that it’s a similar situation. They have similar types of pieces with Kyrie (Irving) there, drafting Dion (Waiters) this year, and drafting Tyler Zeller, Tristan Thompson, there are a lot of young guys on the team. I’m one of the older guys and I’m 25 so that just lets you know where we stand with that. I think the oldest guy is Anderson (Varejao) and he’s 29. “
5 NBA Players Who Must Evolve
By Bill Ingram
On Friday in this space we took a look at the five veterans who must step up this NBA season in order for their teams to achieve even their most modest goals. Today we take a look at the top five players who must take the next step developmentally if their teams are going to do so as franchises.
1) Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers – The Blazers were originally doing this very much the Oklahoma City way. They drafted great players, planning to develop them into a collective that could dominate the Western Conference for years to come. If Brandon Roy and Greg Oden hadn’t gotten hurt, they would likely be right on track. In the wake of those injuries, the rebuilding process has come back around, and as much as that depends on the development of rookies Damien Lillard and Meyers Leonard, this has to be Nicolas Batum’s year. He got the hefty pay check, now it’s time for him to become the player the Blazers keep saying he’s going to be.
2) Evan Turner, Philadelphia 76ers – When the Sixers drafted Evan Turner it was with the understanding that one day in the not-too-distant future he was going to succeed Andre Iguodala. Well, the future is now, and if the Sixers are to live up to the sky-high expectations that Andrew Bynum’s arrival created, Turner is going to have to prove worthy of the pick. After complaining about his inconsistent role as a rookie, Turner showed marked improvement in increased minutes last season. He even played his best basketball in the playoffs, which is a promising sign. Iguodala is an elite defender and well respected all-around player. Turner has some big shoes to fill.
Six NBA Players Primed to Breakout
By Stephen Brotherston
Every year there are a handful of NBA players who have given us reason to believe that this season will be the one when they breakout. A potent mixture of development last season combined with opportunity can prime a player to make the leap in statistics and possibly leadership on the court.
The top six breakout candidates to watch in 2012-13 are:
6. Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Bobcats
Bismack Biyombo arrived in the NBA as a freak athlete with limited basketball experience and he only played 12.7 minutes a game over his first two months in the NBA, but as his minutes ramped up his game started to blossom. In January, Biyombo averaged 3.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, but in the second-half of the season, he got to play starter’s minutes and posted 6.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.
The Bobcats moved out big men Boris Diaw, Eduardo Najera and D.J. White and brought in Brendon Haywood, so Biyombo will be getting starter’s minutes all season and more of those minutes should come at the power forward position. Look for Biyombo’s defensive statistics, especially help-side blocks, to jump and for him to make another step in his offensive game. A 10 point, 10 rebound, and 2.5 block season should be in the works for the Bobcats sophomore as he starts to get noticed as one of the league’s better defensive big men.
NBA Teams Set Up to Fail in 2012 – 13
By Derek Page
Teams across the NBA landscape are continuing to gear up as we get closer and closer to the start of training camp and subsequently the start of a new NBA season. While some around the league have set themselves up nicely heading into next year, others have situated themselves with looming questions and precarious roster decisions that may derail the season before it begins.
The squads on this list aren’t necessarily doomed for the future, but next year isn’t going to be easy thanks to the way these teams were put together this summer.
For instance, while the Sacramento Kings aren’t likely to be in a great situation to contend next season, they aren’t on this list because the pieces they’ve put together have a chance to work well together both next season and in the future. The same could be said for a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference that features Kyrie Irving spearheading a young, talented and up-and-coming core.
The difference between those probable lottery squads and these is that this list features teams that will not move forward with their teams as currently constructed and the present situation could stunt future growth.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some teams that may be positioned to fail in the 2012-13 season:
Available Options & Extensions
By Eric Pincus
August is typically a vacation month for the NBA. Most free agent decisions have already been made (although a number are still available) and the trade market has all but ground to a halt. Teams will fill in the gaps throughout what’s left of the offseason but looking ahead, another key date looms . . . Halloween.
Opening night for the 2012/13 NBA Season falls on October 30 but it’s the following day that is the crucial time for players hoping to get their rookie contracts extended. Teams have until October 31 to issue extensions, and/or pick up the third or fourth-year options, to players picked in the first round who are still on their rookie contracts. Veterans can get extended any time up to the end of June but the deadline looms for players near the end of their initial deal.
The following players have been in the league for three seasons and are eligible for extensions. So far two from the class have already locked in deals – Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers) and Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder):
Solid Free Agents Remain Unsigned
By Lang Greene
Perhaps one of the most noticeable changes the new collective bargaining agreement has ushered unto the NBA landscape is the amount of quality free agent veterans who are still in the market looking for employment as we sit just one month away from the start of training camp.
While the bulk of free agent dollars have dried up with the signings of the upper tier players from this year’s class, there are still a number of teams who have significant salary cap room available and others who still possess their mid-level and/or bi-annual exceptions.
But it’s a buyer’s market in today’s NBA economy, so the era where veterans could once rely on lucrative deals still being handed out late in free agency appears to be over and more than likely some of these guys will be forced to take on one year deals, or worse non-guaranteed training camp invites if they’re looking to play in the league this season.
Here are some of the remaining unsigned veteran players who are still looking for a home in 2013: