NBA PM: Lakers Back in Howard Talks?
Remember when it seemed the Orlando Magic were completely uninterested in acquiring center Andrew Bynum and power forward Pau Gasol in exchange for Dwight Howard? Well things change, according to Sporting News NBA writer Sean Deveney.
Sources have told Deveney that the Magic want the Lakers to get back in on the Howard circus because they haven’t been seeing any trade offers that they like more than the one Los Angeles served up a few months back.
As we’ve written here at HOOPSWORLD, Orlando would prefer to bring in another piece to entice Howard to stay (specifically, opt in to the final year of his contract), but they’re also keeping some trade offers for Howard in their back pocket if and when the time comes to trade the big guy.
Deveney wrote that, unless the Magic see something better than a package built around Nets center Brook Lopez, they could revert back to the Lakers offer and send Howard to Los Angeles. Of course, L.A. would probably want some assurance that Howard would re-sign.
Meanwhile, the Nets are in an enviable position. They can sit and wait to see if anyone beats their trade offer, and if that doesn’t happen, they could wait and just try to acquire Howard this summer as a free agent while possibly retaining Lopez as well (or using him in a sign and trade deal for another asset).
Meeks brings disciplined shooting to 76ers
You wouldn’t expect Philadelphia shooting guard Jodie Meeks to be a pivotal player in the NBA this season. Sure, he averaged double figures last season (10.5 PPG) and is close to that figure again this year (8.4 PPG). Still, the former second-round pick’s name doesn’t jump off a roster sheet. Undersized, jump-shooting 2-guards are all over this league, so what makes him so special?
Well considering the 76ers’ chances of making a playoff run (they’re currently seeded fourth and are within striking distance of overtaking the Magic for third) and the fact that 19 teams have hit more 3-pointers than they have this season, Meeks’ perimeter shooting could make a major difference for Doug Collins’ team.
Collins believes in taking smart shots and taking care of the ball (Philadelphia ranks ninth in offensive efficiency and first in turnover rate), so that means Meeks’ doesn’t have a broken green light. What it does mean is that when the Kentucky product takes a shot, he better expect to make it.
“(Collins) just says ‘take smart shots,’ which I think I do a pretty good job of, so if I’m open he says I can shoot anytime I want, but don’t force anything and that’s kind of my role on the team,” Meeks told HOOPSWORLD.
The league will always have a place for high-volume shooters, but Meeks isn’t one of them. Playing with an ensemble cast in Philadelpha where eight players average over eight points per game has given Meeks a modest approach when it comes to his own shots.
“I think it’s good because it’s hard for teams to prepare for us because we seven, eight guys that can get twenty any given night just depending on the opportunity,” Meeks said. “So I think it’s good for our team and we do a good job of sharing the basketball.”
This, of course, isn’t the first time that Meeks has had to share the basketball. As good of a shooter as he is (he’s making 38.5% of his 3-pointers this season), Meeks played on a college team with former Wildcat stars like Patrick Patterson and Joe Crawford, both of whom took a significant amount of shots in then-coach Billy Gillispie’s offense.
Meeks eventually registered 23.7 PPG in his final season at UK, but the experience of fitting in with upper classmen during his first two years in Lexington helped him become a more disciplined shooter. Basically, Meeks knows what it’s like to average 16 shots per game (as he did as a junior) and seven shots a game, which he’s averaging this season.
“Every night I know I’m not going to have unlimited shots because we have so many people that can score,” he said. “But the nights that I do have ten or more shots, I try to take advantage of it and it’s kind of different from college because in college I could shoot whenever I wanted to and had a lot of freedom.”
Of course, Meeks is quick to say that he doesn’t mind taking less shots if it means more wins. The 76ers rank first in defensive efficiency and have the third-best assist rate of any team in the NBA. And even if the rest of the league doesn’t recognize just how balanced Philadelphia is, Meeks and his teammates know what they’re capable of.
“I mean we really don’t pay attention to that,” he said, “but guys in this locker room know that we’re a good team and that’s all that matters.”
Fab Melo deemed ineligible for NCAA Tournament
Syracuse center Fab Melo—the seven-foot anchor to the Orange’s 2-3 zone defense—has been declared ineligible by the university and will not play in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
“Given University policy and federal student privacy laws, no further details can be provided at this time,” the school said in a statement.
Melo was named the Big East defensive player of the year recently, and even though he averaged just 5.8 RPG, he actually led the team in that category. Power forward Rakeem Christmas will likely slide over to center to replace the sophomore. C.J. Fair, a 6-8 power forward, will also likely see more playing time as well.
Melo wasn’t certain to enter the 2012 NBA draft because, as talented as he is, he’s yet to show much polish. He did drop weight in the offseason and appears to be significantly more athletic than he was as a freshman, but he still has a long way to grow.
Given the chance that he won’t be welcome back to the team next season, he may be forced to play overseas next year or enter an already center-heavy draft. In addition to Connecticut’s Andre Drummond, Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller and Illinois’ Meyers Leonard, this year’s draft could also feature the younger Zeller, Indiana’s Cody, Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie and Florida’s Patric Young.
That means Melo, as big and athletic as he is, could fall into the second round.
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