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NBA AM: Elton Brand’s Last Stand?
Posted By Lang Greene On October 4, 2013 @ 9:25 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
No Retirement Plans For Hawks’ Brand
Elton Brand is in the final stages of a very distinguished career. The 14 year veteran has accumulated a Rookie of the Year award, two All-Star appearances and an All-NBA selection (2nd team), while compiling over 16,000 points and 8,500 rebounds during his career.
After playing the lowest minutes per game of his career with the Dallas Mavericks last season, Brand signed a one-year $4 million contract with the Atlanta Hawks this past summer.
Brand, 34, now holds the distinction of being the oldest player currently on the Hawks’ training camp roster. The veteran says he has no plans to retire at season’s end and while Al Horford and fellow free agent signee Paul Millsap figure to get the majority of the Hawks’ frontcourt minutes, he maintains he didn’t join Atlanta to serve as an end of bench mentor.
“I’m not to that point where I’m the vet and content getting a few minutes per game,” Brand told HOOPSWORLD. “I want to play. I still think I have a lot in the tank and I’m looking forward to being out there playing.”
Although he isn’t thinking retirement in the immediate future, Brand does admit his career is winding down which places more importance on winning.
“During the latter stage of my career I’m just trying to enjoy myself,” Brand said. “I’m trying to win. Definitely trying to win. I look around this team to see what my role is going to be and I’m going to have to bring it and that excites me.”
Minutes in the Hawks’ frontcourt could be tough to come by. Outside of Brand, Horford and Millsap the team also signed big men Pero Antic and Gustavo Ayon in free agency. Second year forward Mike Scott and training camp invite James Johnson could also be in the mix for rotation minutes should they manage to stick.
The Hawks’ training camp roster stands at 20 players. The maximum a team can bring into the regular season is 15. Word in Atlanta is the team will look to trim the roster to 14 on opening night, preferring to keep a slot open to retain flexibility.
James Johnson Plans To Go Down Fighting
Annual NBA training camps represent the beginning of some players’ professional hoop dreams, but for others it firmly represents the end of their pro journey. Most of the camp casualties will be players, without league experience, looking to carve out a niche, but some will be guys boasting a few years of NBA service on their respective resumes.
One player who will get another chance to further his career is forward James Johnson.
The four year veteran recently signed a two-year non-guaranteed deal with the Atlanta Hawks to join their training camp roster. Johnson is now part of a 20-man Hawks training camp roster, so there are legitimate questions about the forward being able to make the opening night lineup
But if Johnson is eventually waived, the veteran vows to go down fighting. Johnson was offered deals by several teams to play international ball but turned them all down to join Atlanta with the intent of showing he’s a legit NBA player.”
“I’m not trying to prove nothing,” Johnson told HOOPSWORLD. “I’m just trying to show I belong. I feel like there’s no other league for me. So I just want to come out and play my game. Obviously they like my game or parts of it to invite me here to their camp, so I’m just going to keep rolling. I’m not a guaranteed player so I want to go down with my head high knowing that I did everything that I could if I do.
“The Hawks] gave their answers of what they wanted from me and what they expect. What I had wasted. A whole bunch of truth that I needed to hear. That was definitely a big reason for me to be here. They show that they’re interested in their players and wanting them to become the best of their potential.”
Johnson has career averages of 6.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game in stints with Chicago, Toronto and Sacramento. Johnson posted a career year in 2012 with the Raptors averaging 9.1 points and 4.7 rebounds in 62 contests.
However, Johnson maintains he’s never been in a position where he was able to choose his destination and play to the strengths of his game. There’s truth to that statement. Johnson was drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the No. 16 overall pick of the 2009 draft. Then he was traded to Toronto in February 20011, before ultimately being shipped to Sacramento in June 2012.
Johnsons says the stop in Atlanta was the first time he was able to evaluate his options and make a choice on the best fit for him professionally. He also knows his back is against the wall attempting to make a team with plenty of overflow.
“For me that was the best thing in the world,” Johnson says of being able to choose his destination for the season. “I try to find the good in everything. My back is against the wall. But I had to come in here and play pickup with the [current] guys and against the other guys they were thinking of [signing]. So like I said, if I were to go down I want to go down playing my game. So I got to play my game. Instead of being traded, I got to actually choose.”
No More Lob City For Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers will enter the 2013-14 campaign with legitimate title aspirations for arguably the first time in franchise history. The arrival of All-Star guard before the 2012 season, jumpstarted by the drafting of Blake Griffin in 2009, has helped elevate the team from laughingstock to contention. The hiring of head coach Doc Rivers this past summer added more credibility to the sidelines and as a result expectations continue to rise.
Part of the Clippers’ mainstream lure over the past two seasons has been the nickname “Lob City” given to the team for their nightly highlight reel of slam dunks.
But Griffin says it’s time for the team to establish a new identity and declared “Lob City” dead.
“Lob City doesn’t exist anymore. Lob City is done,” Griffin told ESPN’s Shelley Smith. “We’re moving on and we’re going to find our identity during training camp, and that will be our new city. No more Lob City.
“Our offense is going to have a totally different look this year. Our offense is going to have a lot of movement and floor spacing. I’m looking forward to it.”
You can read the HOOPSWORLD Los Angeles Clippers season preview HERE
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