NBA AM: Ben Gordon Expected More In Detroit
Not What He Signed On For: When Ben Gordon chose to sign with the Detroit Pistons in 2009, he was leaving an upstart Chicago Bulls team for what was supposed to be a perennial winner. The Detroit Pistons had been to the NBA Finals twice. They had been in the Conference Finals three times in the four years prior to Gordon signing.
Sure the Pistons offered a ton of money, but wins were supposed to be part of the package.
Since inking his 5 year $55 million contract, Gordon hasn’t even sniffed the playoffs, let alone the Conference Finals and all the losing is starting to grate on him.
“I’m not going to lie it’s a lot easier. Obviously when you’re playing for seeding and those types of things,” Gordon told HOOPSWORLD. “We’re professional athletes. We still have to come out and give it 110 percent.”
The Pistons have lost three straight games and five of their last ten and nine of their last fourteen.
“I don’t deal with losing very well,” said Gordon. “It’s tough but it is what it is right now and we just need to figure out in the future how to get out this.”
“We started off the season pretty slow and just as of late we’ve been not playing as well as we were, we’re kind of going back to how we were starting the season off. We have nine or ten games left so we just want to finish it out with maximum effort each game. Regardless of the outcome we just have to come out and have great energy every night and compete at the highest level possible.”
The hardest part of the Pistons situation for Gordon is that he is not a starter and really isn’t in a position to affect a lot of change.
“Everybody’s frustrated,” admitted Gordon. “I don’t think anybody here is walking around feeling good… just the way things have went this season. Until we figure that out that’s how people are going to look. That’s how I’m going to feel. That’s how I’m going to look until we figure out how to get over the hump.”
“At this point we just have to try and deal with the team. It’s tough but what can you do? Like I said, compete with maximum effort and see what happens from there. “
Pistons’ head coach Lawrence Frank told reporters after last night’s drubbing by a shorthanded Magic team – their worst loss of the season – that this final stretch of games would be a “character check” for each player and the team as a whole.
For Ben Gordon, having to endure another season of disappointment has been hard to deal with after all; this isn’t what he signed on for.
Since Gordon’s arrival in Detroit, the Pistons have won just 78 games out of a possible 221 games (35.2%).
Detroit has nine more games on their schedule including a back-to-back-to-back slate starting next Tuesday.
Gordon has two more years on his deal which includes a
team player option in 2013 worth $13.2 million.
It’s safe to say that Gordon is going to be viewed by some around the league as an ending contract because of that option year which means Gordon could find a reprieve from all the losing via a trade if the Pistons can find a taker on the $12 million he’s owed next season.
Gordon is averaging 12.2 points per game on 27.6 minutes of floor action and is still shooting better than 40% from the three point line.
On his career, the 29 year old Gordon has shot less than 40% from the three point line just once – his first year in Detroit.
If the season ended today the Pistons would be the 10th seed in the East and looking at another lottery pick. That’s not exactly what Gordon had signed on for.
Can’t Catch A Break: K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Bulls’ guard Derrick Rose may have severely tweaked his ankle on Sunday in New York and was wearing a walking boot on Monday making his status for tonight’s rematch versus the Knicks questionable.
The Bulls are 14-7 so far on the season when Rose is out, so its not as if the wheels completely come off the team, but with Rose in an out of the lineup with injuries these season its hard to pencil the Bulls in as the top team in the east and with nine games remaining on the season there is not a lot of time left to get into a post-season groove.
You Call It: Most teams have nine games left on their 2011-2012 NBA Season, which means it’s time to start talking post season awards.
Over the next couple of days we’ll ask you to weigh on each major award, so let’s start with Rookie of The Year…
The Ish Smith Era: There are some NBA players that are easy to like.
Ish Smith, the Orlando Magic’s back-up back-up point guard, is one of them.
He has an infectious and genuine smile. He is always eager to talk and he is just thrilled to have the chance to play in the NBA.
Smith logged 28 games for the Houston Rockets last year as an undrafted free agent before being traded along with Shane Battier to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizz had no room for Ish and waived him this December, paving the way for Ish was picked up by the Golden State Warriors as an injury replacement for Stephen Curry.
The Warriors cut Ish loose in January allowing the Magic to scoop him up.
The 23 year old guard from Central Cabarrus High School in Concord, North Carolina has been biding his time, waiting for an opportunity.
Last night he got just that.
The Orlando Magic suspended back-up guard Chris Duhon for last night’s game for conduct detrimental to the team, opening up the backup minutes for Smith and he made the most of it.
In 19 game minutes, his second most of the season, Smith knocked in 6 points and handed out 7 assists and was a key reason the Magic absolutely crushed the Pistons.
“For the most part I was just trying to do whatever coach asked me to do,” said a beaming Smith to HOOPSWORLD. “Me, Daniel, Earl, Von, all the guys have just been working. We all just sit back and work hard. Whatever coach asks us to do, we go out there and do it in practice and when the opportunity comes you go in there and you do what you need to do .”
“Thank god we executed what he asked us to do while missing two of our starters and our backup point guard,” explained Smith.
Smith has not seen a lot of floor time, much to the dismay of Magic fans.
Smith understands that guards in Orlando have to run exactly what Stan Van Gundy wants, and that’s was on display last night.
“Yeah, just him coaching,” Smith explained of the constant commands from his coach.
“That’s how I look at it… For what he’s done since he’s been here I’m just going to learn and soak it up as much as I can. As soon as I gain some more trust, that’s the most part. I see him with Jameer and Chris, out there they do some things, and he allowed them a little bit more leeway. Because he doesn’t know me as much, he wants to control. Once I prove to him that I can play under his control I think he’ll give me a little bit more leeway. “
There is no doubting that Ish Smith adds a level of athleticism to the Magic when he is on the floor, but in Orlando the point guard has to be part of the process and isn’t allowed a lot of room to be creative.
“I think defensively is where we struggle a little bit,” explained Smith. “We can score with the best of them. The Miami game we score 100+ points. I can name game on top of game but the Philadelphia game where it was kind of ugly, kind of mucked it up, which the playoffs are going to be like.”
Smith understands that in order for him to get consistent minutes in Orlando that his game has to improve and he is OK with that.
“You know what, I need to play better,” explained Smith. “I really need to. I missed some layups, I missed some shots, I missed some reads defensively, in the second half I didn’t come out as aggressive as I did in the first half but that’s just watching tape and just getting the feel of it more and more. It was a great win, great team win. We played great and hopefully we take this to Washington. “
With Chris Duhon’s status uncertain going forward, Ish Smith may get his chance to play.
Stan Van Gundy is unrelenting on his point guards and that’s something Ish understands and welcomes.
If Ish and Stan can get on the same page in the remaining nine games of the season, Ish Smith is a tempo changer for Orlando and that’s something the team could use in the post-season.
He just has to prove to his coach he can run the show without making major mistakes and that’s something that’s not easy to do with every game on the line.
The Magic are one game behind Indiana for the 3rd seed in the East.
If the Playoffs started today the Magic would hold the sixth seed and start the playoffs in Indiana. The one game swing with the pacers could swap roles with Orlando having home court.
Of the Magic’s nine remaining games they have just three home games. The Magic will also see six Eastern Conference teams and six teams with a record above .500.
Orlando was without All-Star Dwight Howard who has been suffering from back spasms. His status going forward is still unclear.
The NBA’s regular season ends on April 26th
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NBA Chats: There are three NBA chats scheduled for today starting with HOOPSWORLD’s Anthony Macri at 11am. Coach Macri works with NBA players year around with developing and improving their games and will do his best to answer your questions. Senior NBA writer Eric Pincus will hold down his weekly NBA chat at 4pm EST. Eric covers the Western Conference from LA with the Lakers and the Clippers. Stephen Litel will wrap up the day with his weekly NBA Chat at 8pm EST. You can always find the next upcoming chat here: Upcoming NBA Chats. If you are looking for a completed chat, check the Chat Archive.