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HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Posted By Kyle Cape-Lindelin On May 19, 2013 @ 6:25 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Warriors Done Without Curry?
By Derek Page
The biggest obstacle to Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry’s NBA success has been the unpredictability of the health of his seemingly always ailing ankles. Over the course of his brief, four-year NBA career, Curry has consistently dealt with issues related to both of his ankles and his first postseason has been no different.
In the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ Game Three 102-92 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Curry came down awkwardly on his left ankle and limped back to the locker room. This is the same left ankle that Curry sprained in the Warriors’ first round series against the Denver Nuggets and the 25-year old point guard is listed as a game-time decision this afternoon.
“It wasn’t as bad as the one I did in Denver; it just happened to be the same foot,” Curry told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Compounding the fact that it wasn’t all the way healed from last time and just a repeat turn. I’m pretty optimistic I’ll be able to play in whatever the capacity; I’ll be on the floor.”
Curry’s optimism is a positive sign but how sore that left ankle feels after getting up this morning will be a key factor in how much he plays today – or if he even suits up at all. The final decision will be up to the Warriors training staff, and history on this subject has shown that Golden State isn’t going to push things to risk the future health of its budding star.
Why Cap Space in 2014 Is Important
By Joel Brigham
On Saturday, I wrote an article explaining why the Chicago Bulls might play things conservatively over the course of the next year as far as free agency and potential trades are concerned, and it had everything to do with maintaining cap space for the unbelievably stacked free agency class of 2014.
Then I realized, well, it probably won’t just be the Chicago Bulls.
If you want to know why teams like Chicago are so excited for next summer, all you need to do is take a look at the list of guys who could potentially play the field in July of ’14. Right now, that’s a list that includes John Wall (R), Dwyane Wade (ETO), Kobe Bryant (UR), Paul George (R), LeBron James (ETO), Carmelo Anthony (ETO), Paul Pierce (UR), Luol Deng (UR), Rudy Gay (PO), Danny Granger (UR), Dirk Nowitzki (UR), Chris Bosh (ETO), Pau Gasol, (UR), Derrick Favors (R), Amar’e Stoudemire (ETO), Zach Randolph (PO), Tim Duncan (PO), Greg Monroe (R), Larry Sanders (R), Marcin Gortat (UR), and DeMarcus Cousins (R).
A lot of those guys are going to be too old to warrant the kind of excitement they would’ve deserved in, say, 2010, but even subtracting aging stars like Bryant and Duncan and Nowitzki, this is an extremely impressive list. These are players worth waiting for.
By contrast, the top free agents this summer appear to be Chris Paul (UR), Brandon Jennings (R), Tyreke Evans (R), Manu Ginobili (UR), O.J. Mayo (PO), J.R. Smith (PO), Andre Iguodala (ETO), Shawn Marion, (ETO), David West (UR), Josh Smith (UR), Nikola Pekovic (R), Paul Millsap (UR), Al Jefferson (UR), Andrew Bynum (UR), and Dwight Howard (UR).
That’s not a bad crop, but the only guys on this second list that could be considered franchise-changers are Paul and Howard. The 2014 list, meanwhile, has enough players to populate an entire All-Star Weekend.
Where Do The Raptors Go from Here?
By Stephen Brotherston
Since the recent arrival of Tim Leiweke as the new President and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), the uncertain future of current Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo and his team’s head coach Dwane Casey has gone from maybe returning to complete unknown. The biggest question has become what will the former President and CEO of Los Angeles’ Anschutz Entertainment Group do now that he is in Toronto?
“It is more important from my standpoint to jump into the Raptors who have not had that success and begin to help the Board on the decision they have now with the leadership of the Raptors,” Leiweke said during his introduction to the Toronto media.
Leiweke wants a Raptors management team and coaching staff that is committed to winning championships and it would be a stretch to say that has been the case in Toronto before his arrival. In the past, the Raptors seemed happy to just compete for a playoff spot from time-to-time and content to let their very large market fill the coffers of MLSE. Leiweke believes MLSE and its owners will make even more money with a championship contender and this change in philosophy should take this also-ran franchise down a very different path.
The NBA Sacrifices
By Travis Heath
The NBA is a brutal business. Such sentiment about professional sport has become cliché these days in the media, and it’s easy to understand why. Professional athletes and coaches were reality television before reality television existed. They have essentially become cartoon characters, caricatures of themselves.
A group of people get paid to question every move made by athletes and coaches and speculate about their job status. This is quite a unique environment that would be difficult for most people to tolerate no matter what they might believe from the outside looking in. When the media criticism reaches a certain vitriolic level, it is often rationalized by saying something like, “That’s why (enter athlete or coach’s name here) makes the big bucks.”
I have had the unique opportunity to be on both sides of this equation having covered the league for a number of years and having worked in it, too. Of course, my job in the league was not highly scrutinized or high profile. In fact, I preferred that people didn’t even know what I did or whom I did it for. However, I developed friendships with people who were routinely harpooned by the media. Some of it was personal, some of it just commentators looking to generate attention for themselves.
I have witnessed friends getting fired in the last several years and this season has been no different. It is true that folks in prominent positions in the NBA who have been fired made plenty of money so feeling sorry for them on a financial level can seem a bit out of touch with reality. Thing is, there is much more to this equation than money. Many people in the industry construct much of their identity around working in the NBA. When this is taken away, it can often have a devastating impact that most fans never see.
Knicks Crumbling Under The Pressure
By Lang Greene
The New York Knicks entered their second round playoff matchup with the Indiana Pacers as the overwhelming favorites to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the 2000 campaign, but after two consecutive double-digit road losses the team finds itself in a 3-1 series deficit facing elimination heading into Thursday’s pivotal game five.
While the shortsighted narrative regarding the Knicks’ postseason collapse will revolve around Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith’s recent struggles, New York’s problems versus the Pacers stretch far deeper than the maligned guard.
For starters, the Pacers have manhandled the Knicks on the glass rollicking to a 107-77 rebounding advantage in games three and four of the series.
During this span the Pacers have also outrebounded the Knicks 34-22 on the offensive boards leading to plenty of second chance opportunities to score, while the Knicks have been predominantly one and done on that side of the floor. Take game four for instance where the Pacers’ trio of Paul George (14), Roy Hibbert (11) and David West (10) nearly outrebounded the Knicks’ entire team (36) by themselves.
Secondly, the three-point shots aren’t falling. During the regular season the Knicks shot 38 percent from beyond the arc while attempting nearly 600 more three-point shots than their head-to-head matchups. But in their second round series versus the Pacers the Knicks are shooting just 32 percent from long range going 28 of 88 on their attempts.
Another reason for the Knicks’ struggles has been the disappearance of Smith.
Top Five Destinations for Dwight Howard
By Alex Kennedy
Dwight Howard’s impending free agency has been discussed for over two years. He was expected to become an unrestricted free agent last offseason, but he decided to waive his early termination option and finish the 2011-12 season with the Orlando Magic.
Howard’s future has been up in the air for quite some time, but he’ll finally sign a long-term contract this offseason if all goes as planned. He’s coming off of a “nightmare” season with the Los Angeles Lakers, and he’ll definitely weigh all of his option this summer. Howard’s free agency has already generated plenty of headlines and this offseason will be no different.
Over the last two years, Howard has endured a lot of criticism – most of it warranted – and now he just wants to find a situation that makes him happy. He wants to enjoy playing basketball again. The team that shows Howard how they can make him happy and compete will likely land the superstar center.
Here are the five teams that are expected to be in the mix to sign Howard:
Where Do the Suns Go from Here?
By Eric Pincus
The Phoenix Suns had a busy summer in 2012, bringing in Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Kendall Marshall and Jermaine O’Neal.
The Suns gave a large offer sheet to Eric Gordon but the New Orleans Hornets opted to match.
Midseason the team acquired Marcus Morris and Hamed Haddadi. Coach Alvin Gentry was fired – Lindsey Hunter given the job.
The end result wasn’t pretty. Phoenix ended in last place in the Western Conference with a 25-57 record.
General Manager Lance Blanks was let go despite a year remaining on his contract. Former Boston Celtics executive Ryan McDonough was recently hired in his place.
The Andrew Bynum Dilemma
By Bill Ingram
When the Philadelphia 76ers landed Andrew Bynum as part of a multi-team trade last summer it was supposed to usher in an era of playoff basketball for Philly . . .perhaps even an era during which the Sixers would become perennial contenders. Unfortunately, what followed fell well short of the sky-high expectations that Sixers fans dared to set for the team. Knee injuries, a strange bowling incident and eventually more surgery kept Bynum out of action, setting up a very difficult decision for incoming GM Sam Hinkie.
Bynum can become a free agent this summer, and option number one for the Sixers is to re-sign him and make him their franchise cornerstone for years to come. They can, after all, offer him the most money and the longest-term deal, making them the immediate favorites to win any bidding war that might take place with other teams looking to add a player who is, when healthy, one of the best centers in the NBA. The problem with option number one, of course, is that there is a danger inherent in counting on Bynum to get healthy and earn a max contract. He appeared in 60 of 66 games for the Lakers two seasons ago and posted career-best numbers of 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. The Sixers believed that if Bynum could give them anything close to those numbers they would be sitting pretty with a shiny new playoff berth at the end of the season. Instead, what the Sixers got what a full load of the problems the Lakers had with Bynum since drafting him in 2005. As good as he was when he was healthy, improving steadily every year and showing the ability to take anyone in the low post, he simply wasn’t healthy enough to become a reliable force for them.
Top Five Destinations for Al Jefferson
By Yannis Koutroupis
Few big men in the NBA have been as consistent and productive as Al Jefferson over the last seven years. He’s never made an All-Star team, but has been right on the cusp several times. As far as low post scorers are concerned, he’s one of the best in the league. He has also grabbed at least nine rebounds a game since his third year in the league. Yet, as the 28-year-old gets set to enter free agency, he’s rarely discussed as one of the most coveted guys on the market.
Jefferson’s lack of postseason success has a lot to do with that. He’s only been in the playoffs twice in his nine-year career, never making it out of the first round. He’s also much more highly regarded on the offensive end of the court than he is on the defensive end, but the fact is that Jefferson is one of the best on the market this summer. He may enter free agency wanting the max, but he could likely be obtained for less, especially if it’s in a wining situation.
While most teams with cap room will shoot for the stars and try to sign Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, the best free agents on the market, Jefferson is going to be far more obtainable. He’s spent the last three years with the Utah Jazz and they have his Bird rights, so they could offer him more than any other team. However, it seems like both sides are ready to mutually part ways. Utah has had Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter waiting in the wings for the last couple of years to eventually replace Jefferson, and they finally seem ready to take over.
With that being the case, we take a look at the five teams most likely to sign Jefferson outright.
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