Through his first three preseason games, Sixers rookie Michael Carter Williams has 16 assists and just 1 turnover. In Orlando, during summer league action, MCW averaged 4.8 turnovers a game, which was the highest in Orlando.
But Sixers coach Brett Brown wants Carter-Williams to play faster and even more uptempo, he tells the Intelligencer’s Tom Moore: ”I actually think we can play faster and he can play faster,” Brown said. “I think we can get it out of the net on makes better. I really feel that’s where we want to place a lot of our focus.”
The risk is MCW’s turnover issues from the summer return if he plays out of control trying to match the uptempo pace Brown is favoring with his young team.
Here are some more links from around the Atlantic division on this Saturday night:
Anthony actually had a torn rotator cuff to go along with a partially torn labrum, but elected not to have the surgery because doctors told him it would be a 4-5 month recovery because of the severity of the tear and he would have missed the beginning of the season.
But now, ‘Melo says he “feels nothing,” as the twin tears healed themselves.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson says he needs to see more toughness from Cole Aldrich, and that he needs to do the “dirty work,” tweets Al Iannazzone of Newsday.
Jeff Green has shot just 28.6% from the field (8-for-28) through the Celtics‘ first three preseason games, but coach Brad Stevens says it’s too small a sample size to accurately judge, reports the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy.
Stevens thinks Green needs more paint points for the C’s, and tells Murphy, “Getting an and-one, an offensive rebound – something that’s a more difficult thing to do but with an easier finish. That can open the floodgates.”
Brook Lopez came to camp this year at 290 pounds, tweets Pistons.com’s Keith Langlois. That’s 15 pounds heavier than last year’s playing weight for the Nets center, and Langlois says Lopez “looks massive now.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens reaffirmed yesterday that there is no timeline for the return of star guard Rajon Rondo, writes Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com. While former teammate Paul Pierce and current teammate Jared Sullinger have hinted that he might not return until December, Stevens insists there is no target date at the moment. While his ETA is TBD, Stevens says Rondo is keeping things positive. "My general sense is that he’s really excited," said Stevens. "He is excited about the challenge of the new season, he’s excited about the challenge of a new situation. He seems to be excited. I don’t want to speak for him, and I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but every time we’ve talked it’s been a really engaging conversation." Here's more from the Atlantic Division..
Stevens' predecessor, Doc Rivers, acknowledged that the 2011 Kendrick Perkins-Jeff Green trade was a mistake that ultimately hurt Kevin Garnett, writes Justin Barrasso of WEEI.com. “We needed the toughness. The one thing we did by losing Perk was we removed Kevin’s protector. I didn’t think it was a coincidence that, after Perk left, that Kevin got into all those little flicks with the other teams. Perk deflected all that," Rivers said.
The Raptors will have 17 players in camp, including Julyan Stone and Chris Wright, but that's far from a guarantee that Toronto will go with the maximum 15 players to start the season, writes Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. Currently, GM Masai Ujiri has the roster at 14.
The Sixers announced that they appointed Brandon D. Williams as the first ever GM of the D-League's Delaware 87ers. Williams has spent the last eight seasons in the NBA’s League Office, most recently as the NBA’s Associate Vice President of Basketball Operations.
The Atlantic Division saw plenty of player movement during this offseason, with teams either adding significant rotation players or dealing them away to create bigger roles for their younger ones. Let's take a look at a few players who could continue to elevate their standing next season:
After sitting out the 2011/12 season to recover from open heart surgery, Jeff Green returned to the Celtics last year as a productive contributor and arguably the team's most important reserve, appearing in 81 games (17 starts) and averaging 12.8 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 27.8 MPG while shooting a career best 46.7% from the field and 38.5% from three. Over the final three months of the season, the former Georgetown Hoya put on a tremendous display of efficient shooting, posting scoring averages of 15.3/17.6/17.1 and never averaging less than 48.8% overall and 41.4% from long distance per month. Green could very well be relied on in a primary scoring role next season following the departures of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry – three of Boston's top five scorers last year.
One of the biggest question marks for the Knicks heading into last season was how Iman Shumpertwould fare after returning from an ACL injury suffered during the 2011/12 playoffs. After sitting out the first 37 games, the sophomore swingman returned in mid-January, averaging 6.8 PPG and 1.0 SPG in 22.1 MPG the rest of the way. While those numbers may not stand out very much, Shumpert proved to be an intriguing young player within a playoff atmosphere, going for 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting in a closeout win against the Celtics and 6-for-10 (with an uncanny 5-for-6 performance from long distance) in a comeback attempt that fell short against the Pacers in Game 6 of the Conference semi-finals. Although his shooting numbers appeared to have wildly fluctuated at times during last season (26.4% from the field/ 27.2% from three in February followed by 47.9% from the field/49.9% from three in March), Shumpert has also garnered recognition as a strong defensive player, and there is some belief that his development is strongly tied to how far the Knicks can go this year.
With last year's team leading scorer Jrue Holiday now donning a Pelicans uniform and Jason Richardsonstill rehabbing from knee surgery, Evan Turner will most likely stand as the 76ers' most experienced guard in their backcourt to start the season. The fourth-year player was actually given an enormous amount of minutes last year and put up some of the best numbers of his career thus far – 13.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, and 36.5% from long range in 35.6 MPG. A few things to keep an eye out for in terms of Turner's offensive development are how much he can increase his scoring average by, how well he can improve from last season's 41.8% overall shooting average, and if he can get to the free throw line at a higher rate.
Another name to keep an eye out for in Philadelphia is Thaddeus Young, who finished the year as the team's second-leading scorer. The 6'8 forward posted 14.8 PPG on an efficient 53.1% from the field along with 7.5 RPG in 34.6 MPG. While 57.4% from the charity stripe leaves a lot left to be desired – especially considering he shot 77.1% in 2011/12 – Young showed a tremendous amount of promise overall as a scorer in March, going for 16.7 PPG on a 58.0% clip.
A very intriguing name to follow north of the border is second-year center Jonas Valanciunas, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2013 Las Vegas Summer league. As a rookie, the 6'11 center delivered 8.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 1.3 BPG for the Raptors last season. In what could reasonably have been a preview of what to continue to expect, Valanciunas averaged 11.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.1 BPG, and 27.1 MPG in March, followed by 14.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.4 BPG, and 31.6 MPG in April. What's even more interesting are his field goal percentages and accuracy from the line over those final two months of the year (62.0%/82.0% and 55.8%/85.2% respectively). With that in mind, the 21-year-old big man figures to have the keys to the starting center position in Toronto.
Of the aforementioned players in the Atlantic Division, who stands to take their game to another level in 2013/14?
A handful of players have joined the NBA after finishing their season in China, and Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops wonders if Yi Jianlian could attract some attention after dominating in the CBA thus far. The former NBA lottery pick has averaged 24.9 PPG and 10.5 RPG while shooting 59.4% from the field and 40.7% from long distance for the Guangdong Southern Tigers this year, and is currently playing in the CBA Finals. We've got several more links to share with you this evening:
In that same piece, Sheridan says that former NBA superstar Tracy McGrady is mulling a return to the Qingdao Flying Eagles for another season.
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel says that it's "highly likely" the Magic will part ways with Hedo Turkoglu during the offseason. The 34-year-old forward doesn't appear to fit into the team's long-term plans, and only $6MM of his $12MM contract next year is fully guaranteed.
Despite all the media attention converging onto Miami nowadays, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel doesn't think that the Heat approaching the NBA's all-time winning streak has created any unneeded pressure.
With an All-Star appearance and two championships on his resume, Andrew Bynum looked primed to stake his claim as the Eastern Conference's premier center after joining the 76ers last summer. Unfortunately, injury setbacks have kept Bynum from suiting up in a regular season game in Philadelphia, and a huge question mark looms over his future as he approaches free agency this summer. ESPN's Chris Broussard, who originally thought that the 76ers were the biggest beneficiaries of the Dwight Howard trade, spoke with six other NBA executives about how they would handle the 7-foot center's contract situation this summer (Insiders only). Although they each offer unique approaches, it's not much of a surprise that none would offer a max contract. Here's more out of the Atlantic Division:
Jared Zwerling and Ian Begley of ESPN New York discussed the latest on the Knicks, most notably about the health of Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert. Begley also added that he thinks that the team will revisit adding another player before the playoffs start, being that it would be a big gamble to start the postseason with three players unavailable due to season-ending injuries.
Newsday's Barbara Baker says that Shumpert appears healthy today after a scare during last night's game against the Magic, when the second year guard said he felt a "pop" in the same knee that he suffered an ACL injury almost one year ago.
The Knicks lost a nailbiter at Madison Square Garden last night against the Thunder, but still hold a three-game lead in the Atlantic Division. Tonight, the Nets and Celtics will host the Wizards and Hawks, respectively, as they look to make up a half-game in the standings. Here's the latest out of the Atlantic:
Kenyon Martin played a season-high 17 minutes last night, and made a strong case for a rest-of-season contract, writes Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com. As Zwerling notes, Ronnie Brewer, the player the Knicks traded to Oklahoma City to clear a spot for Martin, received a DNP-CD for the Thunder.
In a video for Philly.com, Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Noah Coslov of CineSport argue that it doesn't make sense for the Sixers to re-sign Andrew Bynum in free agency this summer.
Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald spoke to Jeff Green about the heart condition that kept him out of action last season, and the trade that originally sent him to the Celtics for Kendrick Perkins. "I didn’t put that pressure on myself, but I felt that people put pressure on me to be who Kendrick was," Green said. "We were two different people and players, and I don’t think people understood that. This was one of the true Celtics who was leaving, and they figured since I was coming in that I was going to be the same. But we’re two different players, two different personalities."
Josh Smith appears to be the big-name player most likely to be moved before tomorrow's trade deadline, and Tuesday brought plenty of updates and rumors on his potential destination. We rounded up those updates right here, and we'll track today's news here, with any new items added to the top of the page throughout the day:
"Source after source" informs HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy that Smith will be dealt by the deadline (Twitter link).
With the Suns apparently standing pat despite a report classifying them as the frontrunner for Smith, it looks like the Bucks are in the lead for Atlanta's athletic power forward, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. The Bucks are willing to risk losing Smith in free agency, but chances are strong that he'll re-up in Milwaukee for the right price, according to Deveney. Still, Milwaukee won't include John Henson or Larry Sanders in any deal for Smith.
Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio believes the Nets are the frontrunners, with Milwaukee a darkhorse (Twitter link).
Smith is open to playing with the Bucks even if Monta Ellis is not around, reports Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times (Twitter link).
Despite a report previously stating that the Nets are “solely focused” on Smith, a league source says that is definitely not the case, according to Alex Raskin of HoopsWorld.
The Suns, Bucks, and Nets are currently viewed as the three most likely destinations for Smith, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
A source tells Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today that it's not inconceivable the Hawks hang on to Smith through the deadline. With a huge amount of cap space available this summer, Atlanta could still re-sign the forward to a reasonable contract if another club doesn't make him the max offer he's seeking.
Ideally, if they trade Smith in the next 24 hours, the Hawks would like to acquire a young center, expiring contracts, and young players or draft picks.
Amick and Zillgitt also report that the Nets' current offer for Smith is MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, and a first-round pick. Brooklyn is unwilling to include a second first-rounder at the moment.
The Wizards' interest in Smith has all but disappeared, as Washington isn't willing to give up any of the players Atlanta is seeking for the forward, according to Amick and Zillgitt.
Although the Bucks would like to acquire Smith without giving up Monta Ellis, the Hawks are targeting Ellis along with at least one expiring contract in their talks with Milwaukee, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein.
The Bucks, Wizards, and Nets have been the most diligent in pursuing Smith, sources tells TNT's David Aldridge (Twitter link).
Smith likes the idea of playing with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, so the Bucks are trying to find a way to acquire the Hawks forward without giving up either of their backcourt starters, tweets Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. Even if the Bucks can somehow pull that off, it'd be an awfully risky move, considering all three of those players are potential free agents.
In another tweet, Broussard wonders if the Celtics could land Smith without moving Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce, noting that Jeff Green would be a good fit in Atlanta. Broussard adds that rival GMs insist Rajon Rondo is available, though I would assume that's a separate thought, rather than a suggestion that Rondo would be part of an offer for Smith.
Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times reported earlier that the Celtics are offeringJeff Green and Brandon Bass in a deal to acquire Josh Smith, but A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com tweets that the C's don't have a lot of interest in a two-for-one deal like that, since injuries have left them shorthanded.
Likewise, Boston would probably have to give up more players than it gets in a deal with the Lakers involving Rondo and Howard, as Blakely points out. The CSNNE.com scribe hears the Celtics and Lakers have had discussions with each other, but not about a Rondo/Howard deal.
With regard to a Rondo-for-Howard swap, Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio tweets that "something's going on there," adding that all he knows for sure is that the Celtics are trying everything right now. Had Garnett consented to a trade, the Celtics would have "aggressively" pursued a deal to send Paul Pierce away, too, Amico writes.
The Celtics enter the All-Star break winners of eight of their last nine, with a three-point loss to the league-worst Bobcats as the only blemish. Boston is in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, but just five games back of the Knicks, with whom the C's would matchup if the playoffs began today. Coach Doc Riversdiscussed some of the options available as the team looks to bolster its depleted roster, and we've also heard today about the Boston's interest in Luke Ridnour. There's plenty more from the back bay, and we'll round it up here:
Appearing on ESPN Radio, Kevin Garnett said that his recent comments about playing in his last All-Star Game weren't meant to hint at retirement, though he added that he doesn't expect to play until he's 40 (audio link).
Rivers, in his comments to WEEI, noted that the Chinese league's season is ending soon as he discussed possible signing targets. The CBA regular season ends Sunday, freeing guys whose teams failed to make the postseason, while others will become available once their squads have been eliminated. Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com examines 10 Chinese leaguers who could help the Celtics.
Jeff Green's four-year, $36.24MM contract includes $1.04MM worth of incentives, at least some of which are tied to his rebounding, as Jackie MacMullan of ESPNBoston.com reveals. "That one area was our biggest concern," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said. "To me, it's not a lack of effort. It's about bad habits. I don't think Jeff has ever focused on rebounding in his life, from what I can tell."
The Boston Celtics have suffered two major setbacks in the past week, as Rajon Rondo's torn ACL and Jared Sullinger's back surgery will keep them both out the remainder of the 2012/13 season. Here are the latest rumors and notes surrounding the team on Saturday morning: