NBA@2: Lakers Eye Allen Iverson Next?
Yesterday the Los Angeles Lakers took a look at Gilbert Arenas as he worked out in LA, but they have far from settled on Agent Zero as their primary target at point guard. In fact, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, they may have expanded it a bit.
The latest name to surface in connection with the struggling Lakers, who are barely holding their own in the Western Conference and have been miserably bad on the road, is former NBA All-Star guard Allen Iverson.
Of course, there are several issues with Iverson, starting with the fact that he’s not really a point guard. He’s certainly not a distributor. Even if he were capable of coming back and playing at an elite level after more than two years away from the NBA, does anyone really believe he could co-exist with Kobe Bryant? It sounds good, but unless the NBA changes the rules to allow two basketballs on the court at one time there aren’t enough touches to go around for Iverson and Bryant to play together.
The Lakers also have two more expectations that would hardly line up with Iverson’s game plan. First, they would want him to come off the bench to spell Derek Fisher or Steve Blake and probably Bryant, and we all know how that played out in Memphis. Iverson told the Grizzlies he would do anything they asked, even come off the bench, until they actually inked him to a contract. Then he had all kinds of demands, including an immediate starting role, and was quickly asked to stay away from the team.
Second, according to Smith the Lakers would want Iverson to spend some time in the D-League to show he can still get it done at an elite level. Sounds a lot like “practice” to me.
Don’t count on seeing Iverson in a Lakers jersey any time soon.
Meanwhile, the Lakers don’t appear to be in any hurry to make a move. They have been connected to talks involving Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Calderon, Boston Celtics All-Star Rajon Rondo, Houston’s Kyle Lowry, and free agents like the aforementioned Arenas and also Rafer Alston.
We should also forgive them for overlooking Jeremy Lin, who walked into a perfect situation in New York – one that absolutely did not exist in LA.
The Lakers need help, they know it, and they have one of the best general managers in the business in Mitch Kupchak, who has never failed to get Kobe the help he needs. Rest assured the Lakers will find the deal they’re looking for and they’ll be heard from come playoff time. They just haven’t quite found the right “Answer” yet.
LaMarcus Aldridge: All-Star At Last
Last season Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge had to evolve as a player. The loss of Brandon Roy left a huge void on the team, and Aldridge embraced the challenge in such a way that many believed he deserved to be an All-Star. He was one of the league’s biggest snubs last season, but this year – finally – Aldridge is getting his due. He talks with HOOPSWORLD about what it means to be an All-Star and also about the state of the Blazers in this exclusive interview:
When the Utah Jazz drafted Alec Burks with the 12th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft they believed they were drafting their shooting guard of the future. They weren’t ready to give up on Raja Bell - not by a longshot – but they were looking for a young guard to bring along with an impressive young second unit that already featured Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward.
“He’s going to be a great player,” Jazz head coach Ty Corbin tells HOOPSWORLD. “He’s learning every time he gets out on the floor. One of the things he’s learning to do more of is scoring the basketball. He’s picking his spots to attack the basket, picking his spots on jump shots but most importantly, on the defensive end he’s been getting on guys. I think he’s going to be a tremendous defensive player in this league once he learns how to use his body and use his length and not worry about the fouls as much or looking around as much for screens. He’s pushing a guy where he wants, so if the screen comes he’s got to know whether he’s supposed to be over or under, but he’s continued to work at that.”
Raja Bell has carved out a nice NBA career for himself by playing great defense, but he believes Burks can be a much better player than even Bell, himself.
“I think he’s going to be way better than I am,” says Bell, laughing. “He’s obviously long and athletic, so I think he probably doesn’t know it yet, but defensively he can be very, very, very good. He does so many thing off the dribble that I never really learned how to do, and he has good vision once he gets into the paint. He thinks he’s a prolific scorer, and he is, but his best quality might be his vision and his ability to make plays for other people. I think he’s just scratching the surface on that.”
In some ways Burks is still in awe of just being in the NBA, but he is also fully aware of his situation and how much work he has to put in.
“It’s been great. This has been my dream,” says Burks, beaming. “The summer seemed like it was never going to end because of the lockout and everything, but I’m glad to be here. It hit me my first game, that I was really in the NBA. I feel like I’m part of this now and I belong here, so I’ve arrived. … My first thought about the Jazz was Karl Malone and John Stockton. I worked out for them in the draft process and I learned the whole history. Everybody knows what MJ (Michael Jordan) did to them, maybe kept them from being a championship team, but I was just hyped because they made my dream come true.”
Burks isn’t getting a lot of minutes this season, but he is playing most every game. He’s averaging 11.2 minutes per game and knows what he has to do to earn more.
“Coach just wants me to play defense better, play harder, but I also think sometime a rookie just has to sit and learn and it’s going to be like that sometimes,” says Burks. “But whenever I get in there I will do whatever I can do to give him confidence in me and make him want to trust me and play me more.”
No problem there, in fact Bell is impressed with the rookie’s confidence and his eagerness to learn.
“He’s talented,” says Bell. “He’s willing to learn, which is important. He’s also not gun shy when he gets out there, not in awe of the moment. When he gets out there, he goes hard and he does what he knows how to do. That’s impressive because sometimes rookies get out there and they try to feel their way around a little bit, or they’re gun shy, and he does not have that. He comes out with confidence, but he is also eager to learn. Some guys get drafted so high and they think they know everything. They’ve been so good through prep and whatnot, then they get here and they’re not willing to listen and learn. He has that quality, which is going to be huge for him.”
It helps that Burks values and seeks out Bell’s opinion.
“Every time I do something wrong or make a mistake, especially on the defensive end because he’s a defensive stopper, he tells me what I did wrong to try and make me a better player in the long run. I appreciate him for that.”
To Corbin, having Bell on the team gives Burks an extra edge as he looks to become an impact player for the Jazz.
“It not only helps Alec but it helps us because we can have him look at a guy who’s doing it correctly and say this is how we want you to play,” says Corbin. “He also learns he can get away with things on defense. If you’re aggressive, you can get up in a guy’s body and make him go one way or you can take certain parts of his game away from him. He’s learned all of that from Raja.”
Alec Burks is already showing signs of become a very good player for the Utah Jazz, and the fact that both Coach Corbin and savvy veteran Raja Bell like what they see is a promising sign for the young man out of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
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