Jason Smith said he inked only a one-year deal with the Knicks last summer because that’s all the team offered, and the center made it clear he wants to re-sign with the team in the offseason, as Marc Berman of the New York Post observes.
“I love New York,’’ Smith said. “I like the triangle offense. I wouldn’t have a problem coming back to New York. I think it’s a great market, great basketball organization. [Team president] Phil [Jackson]’s got the team moving in the right direction. It’s tough to say that now because he’s trying to change the culture.’’
The Knicks will have Smith’s Non-Bird rights in the offseason, so they can give him a deal with a salary of no more than $3,933,600 unless they use the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception or open cap room. Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:
Derek Fisher said he’s spoken with Brian Shaw since the Nuggets fired Shaw last week, as Berman notes in the same piece. Shaw has ties to Jackson and speculation has linked the ex-Denver coach to an assistant’s job with New York.
The Sixers will take a different approach with waiver claim Glenn Robinson III, who won’t see the floor much at first, coach Brett Brown said, according to Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News. That won’t give the team much of a chance to evaluate him before his contract is up at season’s end, but Brown indicated that the team had been keeping an eye on him for a while before acquiring him. Robinson’s qualifying offer will be slightly more than $1.045MM this summer.
James Young has been lighting up the scoreboard during his D-League appearances this season but he’s still waiting for his opportunity with the Celtics, Jimmy Toscano of CSNNE.com writes. “You never know what’s going to happen with your team first and foremost with regard to injuries or whatever the case may be,” head coach Brad Stevens said. “So he’s always got to stay ready and be ready. I think the biggest thing for James is he’s got to continue to play and get those opportunities in Maine, continue to practice extremely well, and then when that opportunity presents itself to take advantage of it. Do I have a timeline for that? When he beats those other guys out, then that’s the timeline. And I think that’s the right way to look at it.”
Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:
Amid the Knicks‘ early season struggles, head coach Derek Fisher‘s calm demeanor has helped stabilize his players, but the franchise might need the former player to show more fire on the sidelines, Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal opines. The Knicks, who have been whistled for more fouls than any other NBA team while getting to the line less than any other team, need Fisher to depart from his relaxed, mild-mannered state with the officials, Herring adds.
Despite the rumors that resulted from Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo having breakfast together, the Celtics aren’t likely to deal Rondo, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News hears. The point guard remains a player who the team wants to build around even after he hits free agency this summer, and Boston sees Rondo as a means of attracting one of the crop of talented big men who will be available on the free agent market this summer, Deveney adds.
Sixers coach Brett Brown shouldn’t be judged by his won-loss record thanks to being saddled with a roster intended to lose, Michael Lee of The Washington Post writes. But Philadelphia’s woes do weigh on Brown despite the lower expectations, and the coach also worries about how losing affects his players, Lee adds. “I am prideful. You care a lot. But I didn’t accept this job to boost my resume,” Brown said. “I am 53 years old. You get used to winning 50 games every one of my San Antonio years. And so I need to make sure that [the players] feel good about themselves, that there is a difference between losing a game and losers.”
Sixers coach Brett Brown has the difficult task of holding together a last place team that didn’t acquire any players who are likely to help the franchise this season despite having two top-10 picks in the 2014 NBA draft. But Brown doesn’t regret signing on to coach Philadelphia, Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press tweets. “Even knowing what I know now, with the draft picks not here and some hits with injuries, I’d take this job 50 times out of 50 times,” Brown said.
Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:
Brown had expected the Sixers to land Andrew Wiggins in this year’s draft, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). “I thought we had him [Wiggins]. I was expecting we were going to draft [Nik] Stauskas and Wiggins,” Brown said. But the ping-pong balls of the draft lottery didn’t go their way, and Philly ended up selecting third, where it nabbed the injured Joel Embiid instead.
The fans in Sacramento let James Johnson hear their derision when he made his return to Sleep Train Arena last night, but Johnson is a much different person now than when he departed the Kings back in 2013, Doug Smith of The Toronto Star writes. He has matured much since then, Smith notes, and is providing the Raptors with a nice spark off the bench this season. “I just think it was tough for me to play here [in Sacramento],” Johnson said. “I won’t put all the onus on Sacramento either. It had a lot to do with me being immature. I was playing bad. I had a bad year that year [2012/13]. I have to own up to it.“
It is still unknown just when the Knicks can expect Andrea Bargnani to return to action for the team, Marc Berman of The New York Post reports. Head coach Derek Fisher had originally expected Bargnani would be available 10 days ago, but he reinjured himself during his second full practice with the team, notes Berman. Fisher did say that Bargnani was a “big piece to the future,’’ adds Berman.
With the Celtics struggling and the team in a rebuilding season it is time for head coach Brad Stevens to give rookies James Young and Dwight Powell more playing time, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe opines. Both the players and the franchise would benefit more from seeing what the two can do against NBA competition, rather than letting them spend significant time in the D-League, Washburn adds. “I would say right now, their opportunities have to continue to be taken out of practice,” Stevens said of Young and Powell. “They have to be ready. You never know. You’re one injury away on the perimeter or the forward spot from those guys to be playing. And I think that’s part of the reason why you have so many guys on your roster. It’s why the young guys can’t be surprised when their opportunity comes. You’ve got to be ready.”
Here’s more from the east:
As injuries continue to mount for the Sixers, head coach Brett Brown is taking care not to push Nerlens Noel too far since the big man is struggling with a hip pointer that he suffered in practice on Sunday, Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com reports. “We hope to not go a step forward and three steps back because the kid is moving in the right direction,” Brown said. “We are going to go overboard making sure his health as we preach, is of number one importance. I expect him to be back soon, but I don’t know what that date is.”
After the Sixers‘ brutal season a year ago, which helped garner two top-10 picks in the NBA draft, Brown believed immediate help would be on the horizon, Dan Gelston of The Associated Press writes. But instead, GM Sam Hinkie drafted Joel Embiid, who will likely miss the entire season due to injury, and Dario Saric, who is playing overseas, Gelston adds. “I didn’t know it was going to be like this in Year two,” Brown said. “Nobody really planned on, your draft picks aren’t going to play in Year two.” Brown did say that he doesn’t regret for a minute that he accepted Philly’s head coaching job, notes Gelston.
Despite being available and healthy, Danny Granger has not seen much action for the Heat since returning from a strained hamstring, Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. Though he hasn’t called Granger’s number in the team’s last five contests, head coach Erik Spoelstra said the veteran is ahead of where the team thought he would be physically at this point of the season, Winderman notes.
The job of Sixers coach Brett Brown, who was brought to Philadelphia because of his specialty in player development, is to be patient, writes Tom Moore of Calkins Media. With their loss to the Mavs last night, the Sixers own a record of 0-16 this season. Moore believes Joel Embiid is the only player on the roster whom the Sixers could build a contending team around but other players on the roster, such as Tony Wroten, Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel, could be productive players on a winning team.
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
Although the Sixers could help themselves by adding veteran players to mentor their young roster, that might not be a good idea, opines Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Pompey argues that most of the veteran players’ main concern is winning at this point in their careers and without being close to contending for even a playoff spot, they could begin to get restless on a losing team. “That is one of the benefits of having youth,” Brown said. “They are all-in. They come with spirit and energy. They are not deflated easily. And with a senior team, a more veteran team, I would not want that.”
The Heat are not maximizing Luol Deng‘s abilities within the team’s offense, opines Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. Winderman cites Deng’s improved shot from three-point range as reason to involve him in the offense more frequently. Deng is shooting 40.9% from behind the arc this season, up from his career average of 33.2%.
The Celtics admire how the Spurs sustain success and have at least one player, Rajon Rondo, who knows how to maintain that level of play, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.“The plays they make, I’m sure Pops [head coach Gregg Popovich] don’t even have to call those plays,” Rondo said. “Once upon a time we had chemistry like that. Kevin [Garnett], Ray [Allen] and Paul [Pierce] and other guys, Perk [Kendrick Perkins], we had been playing together, had four or five training camps together.” Head coach Brad Stevens admitted that the Spurs have some influence on how the current Celtics team plays. “They’ve impacted some of what we do offensively, certainly,” said Stevens, referring to the Celtics playing with great spacing akin to San Antonio. “It’s a fun way to play. And it’s fun to watch. I don’t think you can ever try and be someone else. You have to be your best you. But you can take tidbits from people.”
One of the big question marks in New York for the upcoming season is how well the Knicks will adapt to the triangle offense. Former head coach and current broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy doesn’t believe the offensive scheme by itself will be enough to turn around the franchise, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “The triangle itself is just an offense based on freedom of the ball to go to different places, everybody feeling involved,’’ Van Gundy said. “It’s a good thing. It won’t be the triangle itself that will be the reason they win or lose. It’s going to come down to Carmelo Anthony playing exceptionally well. Iman Shumpert and J.R. bouncing back with a big year. J.R. Smith playing well. It’s not going to be because of a system. I think anybody confusing a system with a reason for success is making a huge mistake. Systems don’t win games. Players do.”
Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:
Paul Pierce was stunned by how quickly things changed with the Nets this offseason, Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News writes. “It just happened so fast,” Pierce said. “I had a chance to talk to Jason [Kidd] and he has his reasons, the way things went down. But like I said, the business — you’ve got to understand the business aspect of it. He moved on. The Nets moved on and people went their different directions. You see that a lot in this business.” Still, Pierce harbors no-ill will towards the franchise, Abramson notes.
Sixers coach Brett Brown said nothing was etched in stone for Philadelphia’s roster, and that the team would consider signing players waived from other teams, Tom Moore of Calkins Media notes (Twitter link). The Sixers still have 20 players on their preseason roster, but only nine of those players have fully guaranteed deals, and four others possess partially guaranteed pacts.
Speaking about his thoughts on the lottery reform vote not passing, Brown said that he wasn’t sure which way the vote would turn out, tweets Moore. “Different times I thought it’d go one way. Other times I thought it’d go the other way,” Brown said. The Sixers had a vested interest in the outcome of the vote since their rebuilding plans are tied to striking it big in the next draft.
As we approach the end of the NBA regular season, it’s the time of year when the annual coaching carousel begins to spin and a slew of faces will end up in brand new places. Heading into the 2013/14 season there were a total of 13 coaching changes, which if you’re keeping score at home, is the most ever in a single offseason.
We won’t know for sure just how many teams will be making a change on their bench until the playoffs are over. Normally you would think a playoff spot would ensure job security, but Lionel Hollins, Vinny Del Negro, and Larry Drew all weren’t retained after reaching the playoffs last year. So the exact number of vacancies are up in the air, but we know there will be some.
If your team is making a head coaching change, which would you prefer in your new hire? Do you want a veteran coach with years of experience to lead your team? One who has a proven track record, but also could be carrying baggage and bad habits picked up throughout the years. Or, would you prefer the energy and new ideas a first-time coach can provide? A new coach has more to prove, and might be more in touch with the pulse and culture of his players, but has no experience to rely on, and no track record to predict future performance.
Let’s look at how this year’s crop of new coaches fared as an example. First up, the ones with prior experience:
Doc Rivers (Clippers): The team is 55-24, first in the Pacific Division, and the third seed in the playoffs. Last year’s team went 56-26 under Vinny Del Negro, before Del Negro wasn’t retained and the team traded for Rivers.
Maurice Cheeks (Pistons): He was fired 50 games into the year with a record of 20-29. Detroit was 29-53 in 2012/13 under Lawrence Frank. After the team signed Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings in the off season, owner Tom Gores expected a much better record and for the team to make the playoffs.
Mike Brown (Cavaliers): The team sits at 32-47, which is good for tenth in the eastern conference. Last year under Byron Scott the team had a record of 24-58 and ended up with the first overall selection in the draft.
Larry Drew (Bucks): The Bucks sit at 14-64. which is good for the worst record in the league. In 2012/13 under Scott Skiles and Jim Boylan the team went 38-44.
Now for how the first-time coaches performed:
Jason Kidd (Nets): The Nets are at 43-35, which is good for the fifth overall playoff seed. Kidd replaced interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, whose team finished 2012/13 with a record of 49-33.
Brad Stevens (Celtics): Stevens, taking over for Doc Rivers, has gone 23-55, but has the re-building team heading in a positive direction. Last year’s team went 41-40.
Mike Budenholzer (Hawks): The Hawks have gone 35-43 and currently hold the final playoff spot in the east. Last year’s Larry Drew led squad went 44-38.
Steve Clifford (Bobcats): Clifford has led the Bobcats to a 40-38 record and the sixth seed in the east. Under Mike Dunlap the team went 21-61 during last year’s campaign.
Brian Shaw (Nuggets): The Nuggets have been hampered by injuries all season, and sit at 35-44. Shaw replaced coach of the year winner George Karl, who led the team to a record of 57-25.
David Joerger (Grizzlies): Joerger replaced Lionel Hollins and has guided the team to a record of 46-32, and has the team is one game out of the final playoff spot. Last year the team went 56-26.
Brett Brown (Sixers): Under Brown the Sixers have the second worst record in the league at 17-61, including a record-tying 26 game losing streak. Last season under Doug Collins, the team went 34-48.
Jeff Hornacek (Suns): The Suns are one of the most improved teams in the league with a record of 47-31, and hold the seventh seed in the western conference. Last year under Lindsey Hunter and Alvin Gentry the team went 25-57.
Mike Malone (Kings): Under Malone the Kings have gone 27-52. During the 2012/13 season under Keith Smart the team ended up 28-54.
This means that in their first seasons with their new teams, experienced coaches went 121-164 (.424), and the first-timers went 313-391 (.444). There are many different factors outside a coach’s control that contribute to the team’s final record, but the nature of the NBA is that the coach is the first one to take the heat.
Now it’s time to vote. If your team makes a coaching change this off season, do you want an experienced person hired, or would you prefer the team brings in a brand new face? Cast your vote below and feel free to give your thoughts in the comments section below.
As a guest on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich show, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge revealed that he’s had discussions with forward Kris Humphries about the possibility of returning next season:
“I have had a few conversations with Kris…(he) knows where we are as an organization and he knows we like him. And he knows there is a lot of uncertainty, depending on which direction we choose to go this summer. None of us know…he knows we like him, his coaches and teammates like him, (but) we just can’t make any promises” (interview transcribed by Gary Dzen of Boston.com).
Here’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:
Having gone from a team with the NBA’s second-worst record to playing for the second seed in the Eastern Conference, Evan Turner has conceivably endured his share of challenges in trying to fit in. The fact that the Pacers have compiled a 12-10 record since the deal while Turner continues to struggle offensively hasn’t helped the situation, but the 6’7 guard tells NBA.com’s Manny Randhawa that he’s confident about being able to contribute sooner rather than later.
Once considered a possible candidate to be traded, Thaddeus Young is looking more and more like a keeper in Philadelphia, writes Dei Lynam of CSN Philly. The 25-year-old forward spoke glowingly about playing for 76ers head coach Brett Brown: “Coach (Doug Collins) didn’t want me to shoot a lot of threes…I didn’t like that at all. And this year Brett tells me, ‘I want you to shoot threes, get to the basket, I want you to do everything.’ I am back to playing the way I was before Coach Collins and Eddie Jordan, just a more free flowing offense…I think I have transitioned and turned things around where (as a player) I can just focus on my job.”
Based on the numbers this season, Brandon Knight‘s production may not have unequivocally surpassed what Brandon Jennings brought to the table during his four-year tenure in Milwaukee; However, Knight being two years younger and more affordable than his predecessor is proof of why the Bucks are better off with him now, opines Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.
Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune details the close relationship between Pelicans coach Monty Williams and Raptors point guard Greivis Vasquez, who played for New Orleans last season. The trade that split up the pairing last summer stung Vasquez, who’ll be a restricted free agent at season’s end. “It hurt,” Vasquez said. “It really touched me a little bit. I was close not only with Coach Monty, but I was close with (assistant)Fred Vinson, all the coaching staff, the guys, messing around withAustin Rivers, Chief (Al-Farouq Aminu),Anthony Davis. . . . it was hard for me to let it go. But it’s part of the business.”
More from the east:
The Wizards‘ Andre Miller says the Nuggets unfairly portrayed him as the bad guy, writes Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. When Miller’s streak of playing in 239 consecutive games ended with the first “Did Not Play-Coach’s Decision” of his career, Miller screamed at coach Brian Shaw. The Nuggets suspended him for two games without pay after the incident before excusing him from team activities with pay until the trade to the Wizards. Miller said,”They gave me an opportunity to represent Denver. I tried to do that the right way, but I was looked at as the bad guy, a disgruntled player. [The Nuggets said] I was complaining about minutes and that was never the issue. They made it look that way, and that I was upset. I understand that they have to protect themselves as an organization, but don’t blast the player.“
Sixers coach Brett Brown said the team will pick the best player available in the upcoming draft, and not for need, writes Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com. Brown does not think need should influence who a team select in the NBA draft, and cites the example of the Spurs drafting Tim Duncan despite having David Robinson already, writes Lynam.
Amar’e Stoudemire says that it was his idea for the Knicks to trade for Carmelo Anthony, writes Brian Spurlock of USA Today. In an interview with Bleacher Report Stoudemire said, “I also knew that I needed a star teammate, and that’s something I talked to Mr. Dolan about when I signed. I mentioned a few players to Mr. Dolan who would be fun to play with, and Melo was one of them. Mr. Dolan and I talked about, ‘Which players in the near future are going to be available?’ Then we said, ‘Let’s make the move and try to trade for ‘Melo.’ That’s how things first started with the Knicks going after Carmelo Anthony.”
Last summer, Dwight Howard decided to leave $30MM in extra earnings on the table in order to find a situation that gave him the best chance to win – a situation that Carmelo Anthony faces in July if he decides to opt out of his contract. Based on the Rockets’ success this year, Sam Amick of USA Today says that there’s no better blueprint for Anthony to follow than Howard’s. Dwight, who says he spoken with Carmelo about that dynamic, offered some advice:
“I know he has just got to do what’s best for him…I’ve been through it. I’ve seen it. The same people that love you one day, if you don’t do what they want you to do, then they’re going to hate you. You’ve got to always remember that you’ve got to do what’s best for you at the end of the day. If people don’t like you, you can’t stop that.”
Here’s more of what we’ve gathered from the Atlantic Division tonight:
Following a recent loss to the Hawks, Anthony told reporters: “It’s definitely testing me…The frustration has definitely sunk in, just from the simple fact we’re losing games the same way over and over and we’re just not learning from that.” After last night’s crushing loss to the Mavs, he told Clifton Brown of the New York TImes, “You score 40, 44, 44, 44, all losses — you kind of ask yourself is it worth it.”
76ers head coach Brett Brown says he isn’t annoyed that Danny Granger would rather play for a contending team instead of Philadelphia, writes Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times. Brown also discussed the team’s rebuilding situation: “This is a very different rebuild than the others…It is completely at the bare bones. It just puts a pretty definitive timeline and set of reality checks on all of us that we have a lot of work to do.”
Brown added that he has plenty of faith in the front office: “I trust Sam Hinkie’s judgment on the process that just happened and the process that’s coming up…I can’t wait to be a part of it, with all of our draft picks. Draft night is one of my favorite nights.”