NBA Sunday: Retirement Near for Maggette?
Retirement Looming For Corey Maggette?
The Detroit Pistons are, to put it bluntly, in a bit of a funk as a franchise. While drafting Greg Monroe clearly has worked out well for them, the rest of the team is an odd mixture of veterans on the downward slope of their careers and young players who have yet to tap into their potential.
Corey Maggette, acquired this summer in a salary-shedding deal that brought in his expiring contract in exchange for the considerably more expensive Ben Gordon, appears to be a member of Column A. That doesn’t mean he’s heading into this season with designs of cheering from the bench in street clothes, however. Maggette still thinks he has some juice left in the tank, and the Pistons will swear they made the move for his veteran presence just as much as they made the move for his desirable contract.
Either way, he’s grateful for a fresh start, even this late in his career.
“It’s year 13 and still counting,” Maggette told HOOPSWORLD. “It’s a new team and we have a lot of good young talent there.”
Monroe is among that good young talent, but players like Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond show promise for the future, as well. However much he may play this year, Maggette is looking forward to helping these kids grow.
“[I want to] help out the young guys,” he said. “I was with the team for the last couple of weeks, training with the guys and getting familiar with them. We’ve got a great nucleus, a lot of good people there. I’m just looking forward to the season.”
Last season, Maggette played just under half of the Bobcats’ 66 games because of nagging injuries, so the fact that he’s as healthy as he’s been in almost a year means he should be looking forward to the season. His lone season in Charlotte was not productive in so many ways, but if he’s going to have any success in Detroit, the first step will be keeping that knee in proper working condition.
“I’m just trying to stay healthy and keep my body in shape,”Magette said. That’s the biggest thing as you get older. I had surgery on my knee this offseason, so I’m making sure that’s alright. I’m taking it slow, but it’s pretty much healed. You just have to be a little bit more cautious as you get older.
“For me, it’s more about longevity and being able to watch these young guys grow as I continue my career.”
But how much longer will that career continue? Maggette doesn’t know, and he probably won’t have much of an idea until he’s able to test his degenerating body over the course of a full season. Retirement, he admits, is an option.
“I work hard, but we’ll see how long I want to go on after this year,” he said. “We’ll go from there.”
Detroit isn’t expected to make the playoffs this season, but it’s definitely a better situation than the one he faced in Charlotte last season. At least the Bobcats’ record-setting badness allowed him to stay out of uniform long enough to properly heal, and that should help him have some measure of success in a Pistons uniform this fall.
If nothing else, the Pistons saved themselves some money by offloading Gordon’s extra year, but they certainly hope they’ve gotten more than an expiring contract in Maggette.
Expectations High For Monty Williams
The New Orleans Hornets have agreed to give head coach Monty Williams a four-year contract extension, according to John Reid of the Time Picayune, giving Williams the opportunity to grow professionally right alongside his new, young core.
It would be easy to look at the team’s 21-45 record last season and assume Williams was no good as a coach, but that isn’t the case, as anybody who actually watched the team last year knows. Williams got a very young, depleted team to play way beyond their abilities. He had them in games they could’ve easily given up on, and while Charlotte was out trying to win as few games as possible with similar talent, the Hornets managed to win a third of their own contests.
A lot of that had to do with Williams keeping them motivated, and now new owner Tom Benson is banking that his head coach can keep the effort up with exponentially more talent. First overall pick Anthony Davis, fellow lottery pick Austin Rivers, new acquisition Ryan Anderson, and the re-signed Eric Gordon (who only played 9 games as a Hornet) form a nucleus of young players that should be fairly successful early on, and Williams is the guy expected to make them very successful in the long-term.
In short, that’s a whole heap of responsibility, but New Orleans’ head of basketball operations, Mickey Loomis, believes Williams is the right guy for the job.
“He knows and we know that he’s here for the long term as we develop a young team into a championship contender,” Loomis said. “I’ve been very impressed with Monty since we purchased the team.”
Williams, who now has one of the longest contracts of any NBA head coach, knows he’s found himself in an ideal situation, whatever the team’s past struggles and frustrations may have been.
“I’m blessed, and I feel that way because I get to do what I love doing and I get paid for it,” Williams said. “I get to do it in a city that supported me from downtown to the bayou. I felt like this was a place that engulfed me and my family with support. To be able to know that you’re going to be here and working and doing what I love to do just makes me feel even more blessed.”
Of course, this now means that Williams has got a set of expectations on him that weigh much heavier than the majority of the other young coaches in the league. Williams is well-respected around the NBA, and most would rather bet on his success than against it, but the hope here is that he grows right alongside his players, and quickly.
“I’m aware of the work ahead of us, but that’s what we all want,” Williams said. “But at the same time, to have Mickey and Mr. Benson step up to the plate and just say this is the guy we trust going forward, they will never know how that makes me and my family feel. That’s a pretty profound statement.”
He’s got everything he needs to be successful—a committed owner, plenty of talent, and now long-term security. Expectations are just as high for him as any player on the roster, meaning Williams has his future in his own hands. The New Orleans Hornets are willing to bet that future is bright one.
Wayne Blackshear Should Help Louisville More As Sophomore
Based on his performance in Louisville’s final game of the year last season, which just so happened to be a Final Four loss to eventual National Champion Kentucky, you would’ve sworn that freshman Wayne Blackshear was destined to become one of the best players in college basketball. He scored 9 points in 14 minutes, including a couple of incredible dunks, but he wasn’t a starter, and thanks to a second shoulder injury in as many years, he didn’t even get a full season in leading up to that game.
This year, though, coming off that Final Four appearance and with most of Louisville’s core returning for another season together, expectations for Blackshear are much higher, particularly now that he’s likely to be the team’s starting shooting guard. He’s easily the team’s most talented player, but the amount of success he experiences in 2012-2013 will depend completely on how healthy he is.
“I only played 15 games last year, so I came in focused by trying to bigger, get stronger, and get in here and perform,” Blackshear told HOOPSWORLD at adidas Nations earlier this month. “Being a scorer that I am, I’m trying to be a leader to lead the team the best way I can.”
That leadership reared its head at times during his freshmen campaign in Louisville, but consistency has been an issue for him, as has health. What no one doubts, however, is the kid’s talent. As a high schooler in Chicago, Blackshear was an offensive monster, routinely dropping well over 30 points on any given night and one time scoring almost 60 in a contest. The ability is there, but he and his teammates—some of whom took part in adidas Nations along with Blackshear—have to figure out how to harness that if they want another shot at championship next March.
“We know each and what we like to do even more,” Blackshear said about the experience of getting extra time with teammates over the summer. “This gave us an extra chemistry boost that we can take to Louisville.
“We had a good run winning the Big East tournament and going to the Final Four, so we know we’ve got a bull’s eye on our back,” he added. “Coming in this season we’re going to be more focused and prepared.”
Should all that happen, and should Louisville return to the Final Four because of another strong effort from Blackshear, there’s a good chance he ends up a first round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Unlike a lot of players who try to shrug off the idea of playing professionally a year from now, Blackshear admits he’s working towards that, but with a caveat that he’s got some things to accomplish on the NCAA level first.
“I hope to be a part of [the NBA], but right now I’m just focused on going into the season strong and seeing where it goes from there.”
We all are, Louisville fans in particular, because if the Cardinals are going to be great in 2013, it’ll be because Blackshear got them there. Their season and his career rely on a strong sophomore campaign, and plenty of signs point to that being exactly what this kid ends up having.