Scott Brooks

Southeast Notes: Howard, Hornets, Heat

After a disappointing 2016/17 campaign, the Hornets have put themselves back in position to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Dennis Chambers of Basketball Insiders writes.

The addition of Dwight Howard will give the Hornets an inside presence that they lacked during their down year last season. The big man’s connection to head coach Steve Clifford – who served as an assistant coach with both the Lakers and Magic during Howard’s time there – will bode well as they settle into a new routine in Charlotte.

While Howard’s value as an elite rebounder is undisputed, the fact that the Hornets could possibly utilize Howard’s offensive skills more than his last few employers have is intriguing.

He understands that I know him,” Clifford said of the new Hornets center. “I know his game. Being around him in different settings I have a feel for what he likes to do… There is no reason he can’t get back to playing at a really high level.

Chambers also cites the addition of Malik Monk, a guard that can help shoulder the scoring load, as one of the major improvements that the Hornets will enjoy in 2017/18.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • There’s a palpable buzz surrounding the Hornets after a down year last season. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer recently broke down the club’s new-look depth chart in detail.
  • The Heat committed to maintaining their core and culture this offseason even though it limited flexibility they may have had next summer when LeBron James and Paul George hit free agency. Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes that the club didn’t put their club on hold for the chance at a superstar, adding that the roster is full of tradable contracts if Pat Riley does, in fact, look to carve out some cap room.
  • Head coach Scott Brooks wants his Wizards roster to have high expectations heading into the 2017/18 season, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. “We’re trying to establish [a championship mentality] here. We want to have consistent and sustainable success,” Brooks said.

East Notes: Wizards, Brown, Tatum

The Wizards have gone all-in on preserving their core and head coach Scott Brooks understands just how important that can be. Brooks has, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes, seen what happens when a promising young roster falls apart thanks to his time with the Thunder.

We have our three players that we drafted all wanting to stay here and stay long-term,” the Wizards’ bench boss said. “That’s good. That’s good because if you don’t have your best players wanting to stay here, then nobody wants to stay here.

Thanks to Wizards’ owner Ted Leonsis‘ willingness to commit to their young players, Washington was able to match the offer sheet that the Nets signed Otto Porter to this summer and then follow that up with a supermax contract extension for John Wall.

Under their current deals, Wall, Beal and Porter will be under Wizards control for seven total years. Eight, if Porter ultimately exercises his player option for the 2020-21 season.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

Community Shootaround: Wall Criticizes Refs

John Wall made waves after Friday’s loss to the Jazz, going on a four-minute rant about (what he perceived to be) poor officiating. Wall received a technical foul for making contact with Rudy Gobert on a screen; a video of the play can be seen here. The play was deemed a “hostile act,” setting Wall and his teammates off after the game.

“The way they’ve been officiating today doesn’t make no sense,” Wall told reporters, including Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. “It’s getting out of hand. If you want us to compete at a high level like we’ve been doing – we didn’t lose this game. The refs made us lose this game. We fought hard, we gave ourselves a chance but you don’t shoot no 31 free throws to 16 the way we attack the basket as a team. I tried to get some (technical fouls) rescinded before, it never works for my favor. Other players have and they got it. So, all I can do is just keep my mouth shut like I’ve been doing. I could see if I would’ve got a flagrant-1 but a technical off of that? That’s outrageous.”

Likely adding fuel to Wall’s flagrant-1 argument was Draymond Green‘s wrist punch to James Harden; an act Green admitted to performing in retaliation, and only received an offensive foul for. As Wall alluded to, the chances of his technical foul being overturned are slim-to-none.

“They said it was a ‘hostile act,’” Scott Brooks said after the game. “I’ve been around a lot of fights back when I played. Come on. ‘Hostile act?’ Really? It’s ridiculous.”

What do you think: was Wall’s strike to Gobert a “hostile act”? Should the decisions of referees be held to a higher standard, and if so: how? If Wall receives a penalty from the league, should Draymond as well?

Let us know what you think in the comments section!

Wizards Notes: Beal, Brooks, Jennings

Bradley Beal believes the arrival of coach Scott Brooks has changed the culture in Washington, as he writes on his new blog.

“With Coach Brooks, it’s never been about one player dominating the game, or winning us a game,” Beal writes. “There’s no favoritism for any of us. We’re all being held to a high standard, and knowing that has actually given all of us confidence. Coach trusts us all with the same responsibility, from the top down, and it’s spread throughout the players, too. The team atmosphere is great. It’s a family, brother-like atmosphere.”

Here’s more from Washington:

  • In the same piece, Beal praised the Wizards‘ recent roster moves. “We picked up a couple guys recently that should help us a lot,” Beal writes.Bojan Bogdanovic is a scorer, and he showed that against Orlando the other night. We just tell him, ‘If you’re open, you knock it down,’and he does that. He has a big body, and he’s able to switch from defense and help us out on the glass, too, which should make things a little bit easier for us. Brandon Jennings is a good addition, too. He’s a fierce, feisty guard, and I think he’ll definitely intimidate point guards on other teams.”
  • Brooks wants Jennings to be more aggressive on offense and the point guard feels his new coach has helped him to be more confident on the floor, Chase Hughes of Comcast Sportsnet relays. “I think this is the first coach to ever tell me to shoot more,” Jennings said. “Honestly. When I first came into the league, shooting wasn’t really that popular where guys didn’t really like point guards to shoot that much. Now it’s like ‘shoot the ball.’ I’ve gotta get back to that.”
  • The Wizards‘ bench appeared to be holding the team back earlier this season, but after making upgrades, the team is prepared to make a deep postseason run, Candace Buckner of The Washington Post opines. Buckner is particularly high on Bogdanovic, adding that he can play with the starters or lead the second unit.

Southeast Notes: Plumlee, Waiters, Brooks

Though the size of his contract may skew fans’ perceptions of their newly acquired center, Miles Plumlee performed admirably in his Hornets debut Saturday, writes Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. So long as realistic expectations are applied, it’s hard to knock what the big man brings to the table.

Plumlee arrived in Charlotte earlier this week after a trade between the Hornets and Bucks and will step into the rotation immediately as a reliable low-post presence capable of defending the pick-and-roll. As well, Bonnell notes, he’ll provide a badly needed source of physicality for head coach Steve Clifford.

The caveat with Plumlee arriving mid-season after playing sparsely in Milwaukee is that he’ll have to play himself back into game shape. According to Bonnell, Plumlee mentioned this to Clifford upon his arrival with his new team. Between November 25 and January 20, a healthy Plumlee played double-digits just one time in 27 games.

There’s more out of the Southeast:

  • It took a while but Erik Spoelstra and Dion Waiters finally connected in such a way that the two-guard’s game could flourish,” writes Tom D’Angelo of the Palm Beach Post. “It’s good bumping heads. It’s not anything bad,” Waiters said. “It’s like, ‘I’m challenging you. You can do more. Don’t settle for that‘”.
  • Credit a strong relationship between John Wall and head coach Scott Brooks as one of the main reasons why the Wizards have improved so much this season, writes Michael Lee of the Vertical. In the summer, Brooks visited Wall in the hospital following his knee surgery. “I told John, ‘You’re a three-time All-Star, you can take it one or two ways: You could say, ‘I’ve arrived in this league and I’m comfortable in this league.’ Or you can take the approach that ‘I want to get better.’ And I think he’s done a great job of taking that approach of getting better. I think he can be a top-five player in this league every year.” Currently Washington sits third in the East, 10 games above .500 at 30-20. Last year they missed out on the postseason with a 41-41 record.
  • Despite their bold transactions over the summer, the Magic have struggled to position themselves as contenders in the Eastern Conference. One of those offseason acquisitions, Serge Ibaka, has a particular approach to blocking out the noise inherent with the pending trade deadline in order to focus on turning things around. “I just delete my social media and focus on basketball. That’s it. I don’t read nothing,” Ibaka tells John Denton of the team’s official website. “[Trade talks] are nothing I can control“. The last time we checked in with the Magic, it was said that the club may be overvaluing its trade assets.

Wizards Notes: Morris, Brooks, House, Dudley

Markieff Morris, who complained frequently during his final season in Phoenix, now says he misses the city, according to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Before being traded to the Wizards at last season’s deadline, Morris publicly criticized the Suns on several occasions after his twin brother Marcus was dealt to the Pistons. But some time away has affected Markieff’s memories of Phoenix. “I had a wonderful time there,” Morris said. “It was a great experience. That’s a place that I might go back and live. It’s a great city. You have your ups and downs anywhere, but my five years there were some of the best times in my life.”

There’s more tonight out of the nation’s capital:

  • Suns coach Earl Watson says it’s too early to judge the job that new coach Scott Brooks is doing in Washington, relays Chase Hughes of CSNMidAtlantic. Brooks has come under fire after a 3-9 start, but Watson, who played for Brooks in Seattle and Oklahoma City, believes his former coach will turn things around. “You can’t really judge him on this situation,” Watson said. “He inherited his entire roster. He had no imprint on this entire roster. So, moving forward, you will see the Scott Brooks effect take place. He understands what it’s like to have younger talent and build them to a winning mindset.”
  • Rookie shooting guard Danuel House was happy to get some playing time in two recent D-League games, writes J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. House, who was recalled for tonight’s game with Phoenix, is encouraged by the opportunity to get on the court. “I took it as a positive [the Wizards] actually thought about me,” House said, “because they could’ve just sat me here and put me in a coat but they decided to take time to keep me in mind, to send me down so I can get some reps so they can watch a little bit more game film and tell me what I need to work on in order to help this team.”
  • Former Wizard Jared Dudley said he wasn’t Plan A, B or C for Washington this summer, tweets Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. The 31-year-old swingman signed with the Suns and is averaging 9.0 points per night with seven starts in 14 games.

Southeast Notes: Gortat, Beal, Hornets

Marcin Gortat apologized to his team earlier today for his negative comments about the Wizards‘ bench unit. He and Scott Brooks addressed the team before practice with the coach stressing unity, Ava Wallace of The Washington Post relays. “I look at things from a whole, because this is how — when I played, I was a backup, and I didn’t like to be divided,” Brooks said. “We don’t have two teams here, we have one basketball team, and right now we’re not happy and content on being 2-7.” Gortat previously said that the team has “one of the worst benches in the league.”

Here’s more from Southeast Division:

  • Brooks added that Gortat’s comments will have no lingering effect on the team, Wallace writes in the same piece. “We all make mistakes at times, but we have to move on, and we will,” Brooks exclaimed. “We’re not happy, and that’s a good thing. If we were happy and we’re 2-7, I would be really concerned. And if we haven’t had good practices, I would be really concerned. But we’re not having any of that.”
  • Bradley Beal shed some light on his latest injury, as J. Michael of Comcast Sportnet relays.  “Jumping doesn’t bother me. I can jump, shoot jumpers,” Beal said. “[Singly] jumping off this leg is a little difficult, hitting my stride. I have a long stride. Limits me a litte in that area. For the most part I’m able to do some [practice]. Not exactly 100 percent full speed.” Beal has missed the last two games for the Wizards because of tightness in his hamstring.
  • The Hornets‘ bench is full of new faces and despite some inconsistent play so far this season, the team believes its second unit can be a strength, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. “I think early we’ve shown flashes of that good chemistry. That’s something we’ve got to build on in limited [practice] time,” Spencer Hawes said.

Southeast Notes: Wall, Bosh, Hornets, Ibaka

The Wizards aren’t going to push John Wall to be ready for opening night, writes Ben Standig of CSNMidAtlantic.com. The 26-year-old point guard had surgical procedures on both knees during the offseason, and the team is being careful with his recovery. “We’re in no rush,” said new Washington head coach Scott Brooks“We want to make sure that he’s ready. It’s a process. We still have all of training camp. We’ll see. We’re going to keep working, keep pushing him. The one thing about John. He puts the work in.” Wall has started playing one-on-one, but he still has to make progress before he can handle training camp drills or five-on-five games.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Chris Bosh may be planning to join the Heat in training camp, but veteran teammate Udonis Haslem cautions everyone to be realistic in their expectations, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Bosh has had his last two seasons cut short by blood clots and he hasn’t played competitively since the All-Star break. “Chris’ timetable is just a little bit different than everybody else’s,” Haslem said. “So we have to be mindful. We have to be conscious of the things that are important. And the thing that is most important is that when Chris needs to be ready, that he’s ready.”
  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford believes the team’s offseason moves have improved the defense more than the offense, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Charlottte lost three key free agents in Jeremy Lin, Al Jefferson and Courtney Lee, but brought in Roy Hibbert, Ramon Sessions and Marco Belinelli. Also, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is expected back after missing nearly all of last season with injuries.
  • Serge Ibaka may help bring a winning culture to the Magic, writes Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders in a preseason look at Orlando. Ibaka, who was acquired from the Thunder in a June deal involving Victor Oladipo, was part of a very successful team in Oklahoma City and will give the Magic the rim protector they have needed since they lost Dwight Howard. However, many of the Basketball Insiders writers were confused by Orlando’s offseason moves and are concerned that they don’t have enough scorers to be a contender.

Southeast Notes: Brown, Robinson, Kidd-Gilchrist

Former Nets interim coach Tony Brown will be Scott Brooks‘ lead assistant with the Wizards, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Sources tell Wojnarowski the deal is currently being finalized. Brown had an 11-34 record in Brooklyn after taking over for the fired Lionel Hollins in January. The Nets parted ways with him when they hired Kenny Atkinson shortly after the regular season ended. Brown started his coaching career as an as assistant with the Trail Blazers during the 1997/98 season and has also worked for the Pistons, Raptors, Celtics, Bucks, Clippers and Mavericks. Toronto assistant Rex Kalamian turned down an offer from the Wizards last week.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Thomas Robinson, who opted out of his contract with the Nets this week, could be a nice fit with the Wizards, according to Ben Standig of CSNMidAtlantic. The 6’10” power forward, who has been with five teams in his four-year NBA career, was born in Washington, D.C., and could be a low-cost option for a team in need of size. Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris are the only two Wizards’ big men with guaranteed contracts for 2016/17. Robinson averaged 4.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 71 games last season. He will be a restricted free agent after opting out of a deal worth $1,050,961.
  • The HornetsMichael Kidd-Gilchrist is focused on training camp after twice tearing the labrum in his right shoulder and missing nearly all of the 2015/16 season, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Kidd-Gilchrist, who was limited to seven games during the year, was recently cleared for on-court activities and vows to be healthy when training camp begins. “I’m shooting, I’m lifting, I’m running,” he said. “I’ll be ready for next season.” The Hornets have him under contract for four more years.
  • Dwyane Wade and Josh Richardson are the only Heat players who will definitely be on the roster next season, contends Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. Tyler Johnson is probably third on that list, Winderman writes, unless someone offers him huge money in free agency. Among the rest of the roster, Goran Dragic could be dealt to open cap space, Chris Bosh has ongoing health problems and Justise Winslow and Josh McRoberts could be trade pieces. Everyone else is either a free agent or has a contract that isn’t fully guaranteed.

Southeast Notes: Wall, Durant, Fizdale, Weber

Wizards point guard John Wall plans an aggressive approach to bring free agent Kevin Durant to Washington, writes Michael Lee of The Vertical. The Wizards are considered a contender for Durant because the Thunder star has roots in Washington and new coach Scott Brooks coached Durant in Oklahoma City. “I feel if [Brooks] can make a pitch, and I can make a pitch and [Durant] comes, it’s great,” Wall said. “I think we do need another star here, another great player to [get over] that next hump. You need three stars to win this league.”

Wall and Durant have formed a friendship over the years, and Wall has spoken publicly before about wanting to have Durant as a teammate. However, the formal sales pitch will have to wait. “If he comes, he comes, if not, got to make other plans,” Wall said. “But that’s something I haven’t talked to him about. I’m not willing to right now. He just came off a tough series. I’m trying to give him a couple of weeks, a month off, to think about what he wants to do.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards free agent center Nene wants to continue his NBA career, according to J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. The 33-year-old recently posted on Twitter that he’s “working hard every day & getting ready.” Michael expects Washington to part ways with Nene, who earned $13MM last season.
  • Former Heat assistant David Fizdale got help from Erik Spoelstra as he prepared for his interview with the Grizzlies, relates Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. After Miami was eliminated from the playoffs, Fizdale and Spoelstra turned their attention to interview preparation. “We waited ’til it was over and we got the call the next day that I was going to interview,” Fizdale said. “And so Spo and I went into playoff prep mode. He rented a room in the Ritz-Carlton for me. We got the boards up. We got the computers open. And we just basically did a crash course on prepping me for the interview.”
  • Briante Weber is expected to be with the Heat during summer league, but probably not during next season, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Weber played six games for Miami this season, but Jackson says the Heat consider him limited offensively and found he had trouble remembering plays. He is scheduled to make $875K in 2016/17, but only about a fourth of that is guaranteed.
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