Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

–  All for the Love of the Triangle (from Harvey Araton, New York Times):

” Phil Jackson Is Out to Prove That His Signature Offense Still Fits”

Read it here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/sports/basketball/phil-jackson-is-out-to-prove-that-his-signature-offense-still-fits.html

 

–  Kyle Korver vs. perfection (from Jeff Zillgitt,  USA Today):

” Where does a basketball player find the perfect shot? In a gym? A high-tech sports science and medical lab? On a paddleboard on the ocean? In marriage? Mind? Body? In a system that accentuates three-point shooting?

For Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver, the best three-pointer shooter in the NBA, it is all of those places and more.”

Read and view it here:   http://www.usatoday.com/longform/sports/nba/hawks/2015/02/02/kyle-korver-vs-perfection-atlanta-three-point-shot/22693565/

 

–  Breaking down the play of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ big man rotation during 10 game win streak  (from David Zavac, fearthesword.com):

Read it here:  http://www.fearthesword.com/2015/2/2/7963591/the-actual-big-three-cavs-getting-solid-play-synergy-sports

 

–  ZACH RANDOLPH: THE BEAST HAS COME TO PASS (from Rogelio Lorenzo, 3sob.com):

” How good has Zach Randolph been since he came back from his injury? Let’s have a look at his statistics before and after his forced absence. Since his minutes have gone up significantly after his return (from 31:36 pre-injury to 34:29 post-injury), we will use per 36 figures so the comparison is valid:

–          Before the injury: 18,35 PP36, 13,01 RP36, 1,40 AP36

–          After the injury: 20,15 PP36, 14,05 RP36, 2,73 AP36

How good are these numbers? For someone who’s almost 34 years old, absolutely incredible.

Notice that while his points and rebounds increased only a bit (per 36) after the injury his assists doubled. The figure itself is not shocking, since he dished 2.7 assists per 36 last season (no small feat for someone that was once deservedly labeled a black hole), but the pattern is remarkable.

It’s well known that Dave Joerger tried to implement a new offense at the beginning of last season, but his plans were derailed by a sluggish start and Marc Gasol’s near catastrophic injury. As a last resort to salvage the season, Joerger fell back on the well known and trusted Hollins offense: slow pace and ball to the paint at the expense of everything else. It was in this well known context that ZBo’s assist numbers swelled.

This season, however, Joerger went full steam ahead with a new offense that stressed ball movement and tried to take advantage of the available perimeter options, without going away from the team’s interior power. During this process Zach’s assists numbers went significantly down. This was due partly to reduced touches as Marc gained prominence in the offensive schemes. But there was another aspect to it: Zach was not comfortable enough to dish the ball out when the opposing teams collapsed on him in the paint, in part because the offense didn’t provide easy set outlets for ZBo.

(The) subtle but important change in the way the Grizzlies position themselves in offense when Zach Randolph goes to work in the paint (no doubt facilitated by the addition of Jeff Green) is surely a big reason for Zach’s renewed eagerness to give the ball back. The team has learned how to feed the beast in a way that helps the beast to feed the team back.”

Read and view it here:  http://www.3sob.com/2015/20759/20759/

 

Danny Ferry (from David Aldridge, NBA.com)

Memphis Grizzlies (from David Aldridge, NBA.com);

Read about Ferry and about the Grizzlies and more from Aldridge here:   http://www.nba.com/2015/news/features/david_aldridge/02/02/morning-tip-atlanta-hawks-keep-surging-while-danny-ferry-waits-on-sideline-memphis-grizzlies-rise-ranks-behind-marc-gasol-qa-with-toronto-raptors-kyle-lowry/index.html

 

– All-Star break will be a working vacation for Sixers’ Brett Brown  (from Boob Cooney,  philly.com):

Read it here:  http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/sixers/20150203_All-Star_break_will_be_a_working_vacation_for_Sixers__Brown.html

 

–  Don’t Sleep on the Clippers! (from Zach Lowe, Grantland.com):

Read and view  it here:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/time-for-your-western-conference-wake-up-call-dont-sleep-on-the-clippers/

 

Cavs Update: KLove/LBJ (from Chris Haynes, cleveland.com):

” For the first time in Love’s career, he is impacting the game in other ways besides scoring and rebounding. His defense has improved dramatically, specifically his defensive awareness. He seems to be in the right spots on rotations.

Love is doing the dirty work that’s not showing up on the stat-sheet. His head and heart are in the right place. He’s remaining patient with the firm belief that he’ll eventually find his niche within the offense.

“I think it will continue to evolve, but if we continue to win and I’m not necessarily being asked to score the ball or shoot a volume of shots, that’s fine by me,” Love said. “I’m going to continue to keep working and getting extra shots up, getting in the weight room so if my number is called and there’s some sort of continuity and flow, that I’ll be able to be assertive and be as efficient as I can.”

There’s no drama to see over here. Keep it moving.

“At the end of the day, if you want to win, you sacrifice whatever you need to do to help the team win,” James said. “That’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter about shot attempts, it doesn’t matter about how many touches you get. If you want to win, then you’ll do that.

“I’ll go 0-for-0 from the field to win. I’ll get rebounds, I’ll get assists, I’ll take charges, I’ll get steals. I don’t need to shoot the ball at all because I’m about winning and that’s all that matters.”

Read it here:   http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2015/02/kevin_love_1.html

 

Randy Wittman: ‘We don’t play hard anymore. I’ll take the blame for that’ (from J. Michael, CSNWashington):

” Despite all the veteran leadership on the Wizards’ roster, which was constructed to put a more mature product on the floor, they’ve fallen back into somewhat juvenile habits. It didn’t take much to get Wizards coach Randy Wittman going as his voice raised an octave with each passing thought as he assessed Monday’s 92-88 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

His star players, John Wall and Bradley Beal, agreed. So did everyone else. They’ve lost three in a row to tie their longest losing streak of the season and five of their last seven games. They’ve also lost three in a row at Verizon Center.

“The key to tonight was that we don’t play hard anymore. That falls on me. I’ll take that,” Wittman said after his team allowed 54.8% shooting in the first half and went without a point for the first six minutes of the third quarter. “Until we all get back on the same page and come out and play hard for 48 minutes and look at ourselves in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do more?’ rather than point our finger (and say) ‘It’s not me.’ … I’ll take the blame for that, of allowing us to get there.””

Read it here:  http://www.csnwashington.com/basketball-washington-wizards/talk/wittman-we-dont-play-hard-anymore-ill-take-blame

 

–  The night the Hawks’ streak died (from Paul Flannery, SBNation):

”  Playing a superb game on both ends of the floor, the New Orleans Pelicans ended Atlanta’s 19-game winning streak.”

Read it here:  http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/2/3/7968849/hawks-streak-ends-pelicans-anthony-davis

 

The Hawks’ Unlikely Magical Season (from Michael Lee, Washington Post):

Read it here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2015/02/03/the-atlanta-hawks-unlikely-magical-season/

 

Gary Neal and Lance Stephenson Trying to Make It Work (from Frank Berndt, atthehive.com):

” When Kemba Walker went down, the Hornets found themselves with just one true point guard: Brian Roberts. Gary Neal and Lance Stephenson have taken over backup duties and the results have been mixed.”

Read and view it here:  http://www.atthehive.com/2015/2/2/7962747/Charlotte-Hornets-analysis-Gary-Neal-Lance-Stephenson-point-guard

–  Bucks aiming high and succeeding with defense, depth (from James Herbert, CBS Sports):

”  Giannis Antetokounmpo extended his outrageous arms to the ceiling. It might have been intimidating if he wasn’t smiling. The Milwaukee Bucks forward was describing how his team shuts others down.

“It’s hard for the opposing team to execute because we are so long, everybody on our team is so long,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’ve just got to raise our hands up. Grg [Tim Grgurich] is always getting on us: ‘High hands, high hands!’””

Read it here:  http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/25026563

 

QOTD (from Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer):

“Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is really important to (the Hornets’) bottom line: The unintended downside of fantasy leagues is fans thinking players’ value can always be quantified by an aggregate of their statistics.

MKG trivializes statistics. He brings an energy, a resolve, to this team that is important because it rubs off on others. You can debate forever whether he should have been the No. 2 overall pick, but that’s old news. He’s a keeper because – and this is rare – he makes want-to a skill.”

 

Additional Player Updates:

 

Trey Burke:  http://whtww.deseretnews.com/article/865621011/Utah-Jazz-point-guard-Trey-Burke-has-welcomed-learning-opportunities-despite-losing-starting-spot.html?pg=all

 

Tyler Johnson:  http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/nba/miami-heat/article8970602.html

 

David Lee:  http://www.csnbayarea.com/warriors/new-role-gives-warriors-lee-view-bigger-picture

 

Marcin Gortat:  http://www.csnwashington.com/basketball-washington-wizards/talk/wizards-marcin-gortat-opens-about-whats-wrong

 

John Lucas III:  http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nba/pistons/2015/02/02/new-piston-john-lucas-iii-happy-back-nba/22778541/

 

Matthew Dellavedova:  http://kingjamesgospel.com/2015/02/03/matthew-dellavedova-back-best/   and from Jason Lloyd, Ohio.com:

” (Last night) Dellavedova  played  the entire fourth quarter. Good thing, too. He scored 10 points in the fourth and went 3-for-4 on 3-pointers, including two in the final three minutes. His 3-pointer with 2:35 left was one of the biggest shots of the night and extended the Cavs’ lead to 91-83.

Don’t look now, but Delly is shooting the highest percentage on 3s of any Cavs player (42.4 percent). His assist-to-turnover ratio is better than 3 to 1. And he still has the trust of his head coach, who acted surprised to hear fans are tired of seeing Dellavedova.

“That kid deserves nothing but love and support,” Blatt said before explaining what he sees in him that he likes so much. “Mental toughness, defensive capability, hustle, makes open shots at big moments.”

Delly’s primary thing is to come in and play as hard as he can, defend at a high level, get us into our offense and make the right plays,” LeBron James said. “Everything we get from him is extra.”

 

Rudy Gobert:  http://sircharlesincharge.com/2015/02/03/utah-jazz-used-to-the-rudy-gobert-hype/

 

Reggie Jackson:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2350759-breaking-down-how-reggie-jackson-can-get-back-on-track-for-oklahoma-city-thunder

 

Al-Farouq Aminu:  http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4704478/aminu-making-himself-hard-to-ignore

 

Joe Harris:  http://roadtotheassociation.com/2015/02/03/nba-assignment-spotlight-no-ordinary-season-joe/

 

Khris Middleton:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VNAI3iUAACDVqFcp/khris-middleton-the-nbas-underrated-rising-3-and-d-star

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

–  Timofey Mozgov can be tough where and when it matters (from  Chris haynes, cleveland.com):

” The Cleveland Cavaliers are putting forth a defensive clinic that should be videotaped, packaged and shipped to the young Minnesota Timberwolves, who are giving up the most points in the league.

All of a sudden there’s tenacity, a resolve not to allow opponents to even sniff the rim. In the last four games, Cleveland has held the opposition to no more than 42 percent shooting. Dion Waiters and his new team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, were the latest victims on Sunday.

Waiters is as hard and rugged as they come. The Philly streets brought him up that way. He doesn’t know how to be anything else. But when the Cavaliers  sputtered out of the gate, one of the problems was the lack of an enforcer. Waiters’ demeanor didn’t offer the on-court combativeness Cleveland so desperately desired.

That all changed with the Cavaliers’ early January trades, which sent Waiters to Oklahoma City and eventually landed a 7-1 Heisman Trophy statue in Timofey Mozgov from Denver. He’s not stiff-arming the competition, but his arms are just as effective in keeping the opponent separated from the basket.”

Read it here:  http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2015/01/cleveland_cavaliers_center_tim.html

 

 

The Cavs are Changing Their Defense  (from Mika Honkasalo, Vantage Sports):

” During the first seven games of their season, the Cavaliers had a Hedge% of 36.04, which led the league by a mile. They are still ranked 1st as the team that hedges most frequently when defending pick-and-rolls, but for the season, they are only at 26.83 percent, just ahead of the Heat at 26.73 percent. Over the last month, that number has decreased to 18.59 percent, which has ranked 7th in most frequent Hedge% during that time. Since acquiring Mozgov, the Cavs’ Hedge% has plummeted to 10.56 percent.

Depending on how much a team overloads the strong side and values defending the middle, the results change, but generally, defending in a more conservative fashion where the big drops down to the foul line to contain the pick-and-roll ball handler allows a team to limit the amount of help they have to make. Doing the opposite and hedging (to varying degrees) on pick-and-rolls forces the defense to cover more ground on rotations. Good passing teams are able to take advantage if those rotations aren’t performed perfectly.”

Read and view it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VMLFDCUAAMoLjeO9/the-cavaliers-are-changing-their-defense

 

–  Cleveland Cavaliers slowing down opposing point guards and David Blatt’s rotation change is paying off: Fedor’s five observations (from Chris Fedor, cleveland.com):

Read it here:  http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2015/01/cleveland_cavaliers_have_shut.html

 

 

 

Warriors’ Bench (from Scott Cacciola, NYTimes):

”  Yet for all the Warriors’ headline-grabbing feats (and the list continues to grow), the team’s players and coaches cite something slightly more prosaic as a major cause for their success this season: the handiwork of their bench, which has fostered team chemistry while creating all kinds of problems for opponents.

“This is a cohesive team,” said Ron Adams, an assistant, “and the bench probably has more to do with that than anything.”

Read it here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/26/sports/basketball/golden-state-warriors-rise-starts-on-bench.html

 

 

Technical fouls once again an issue for the Suns (from Jeffrey Sanders, valleyofthesuns.com):

“It’s driving us crazy with the technicals,” an agitated Hornacek said after the game. “We are going to get it straight whether they like it or not.

“We’re not just in this for this year, this is for the next few years and trying to be a team that in a couple years can try and win a championship. It’s aggravating , we are arguing on calls that we even get. What else can you do?  I will take the blame for the loss for not playing them.””

Read it here:  http://valleyofthesuns.com/2015/01/25/technical-fouls-issue-suns/

 

 

Ron  Adams serves new coaches well (from Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald):

”  Ron Adams has spent 20 years as an NBA assistant coach, the last two as a basketball midwife of sorts. Last year, Adams helped Celtics coach Brad Stevens ease into his first year on an NBA bench, and this season he’s been there as Steve Kerr has become a coach for the first time.

“I don’t know if that’s my ‘thing,’ but it’s worked out that way,” said a laughing Adams, who left the Celts to return to his native California for a chance to work with the Golden State Warriors, who took down the C’s, 114-111, last night. “There’s no thought put in to that, let’s put it that way. It’s just how things have happened.

“It’s been fun working with guys who are getting started. Steve has taken off running pretty well here, and I think Brad’s done the same. I look at the Celtics and I talk to him, and the second year’s so much easier for him than the first one. It’s fun to see that, see the growth of the coach and the growth of the program. That’s gratifying always.””

Read it here:  http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics_nba/boston_celtics/2015/01/celtics_notebook_adams_serves_new_coaches_well

 

 

Blazers’ Assistant Jay Triano (from Erik Gumdersen, columbian.com):

” Trail Blazers assistant coach Jay Triano may have the most interesting offseason job of anybody as the head coach of the Canadian national team.

Triano is something of a basketball pioneer in his country and was the NBA’s first Canadian-born head coach. For the Blazers he’s a fiery presence on the bench.”

Read it here:  http://www.columbian.com/news/2015/jan/25/blazers-triano-shows-love-for-hoops/

 

 

Jeff Green (from Joe Mullinax, grizzlybearblues):

” He brings malleable scoring and defensive potential along with a skill set that opponents in the West must now prepare for and adjust to, a new development for a Grizzlies team lacking in athleticism. Transition opportunities, highlight reel dunks and defending multiple positions will make Memphis all the more dangerous, and unpredictable, as the Grizzlies adapt to their new teammate and create chemistry.

Despite the frustration over what may have been lost, the newest Grizzly has shown flashes of exactly what he was brought to Memphis to do”

Read and view it here:  http://www.grizzlybearblues.com/2015/1/26/7890751/jeff-green-memphis-grizzlies-answer-fit-title-run-NBA-playoffs

–  AAU Coach Sheds Light on Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel Relationship (from Derek Bodner, libertyballers.com):

Read it here:  http://www.libertyballers.com/the-liberty-beat/2015/1/26/7881073/aau-coach-sheds-light-on-michael-carter-williams-nerlens-noel

Raptors still trying to find best fit for Valanciunas (from Eric Koreen), National Post):

” They are both listed at 6-foot-9. They are both built like classic power forwards. Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson could not be much more different aside from that.

Their personalities are divergent. No Raptor enjoys talking about nothing in particular more than Johnson, with the possible exception of rookie Lucas Nogueira. Before Toronto’s game against Detroit on Sunday, he was bemoaning a poorly placed hole in his tights. “Can’t play with those.” Patterson, meanwhile, exudes a more serious-minded approach, as if he were a basketball academic. He is whisper-quiet before the game, with his headphones perpetually keeping him insulated from the space around him.

On the court, they are dissimilar, too. Patterson flings off his three-point shot with little hesitation; Johnson’s long-range attempts resemble the mechanical nature of a backhoe. Johnson is much more creative around the rim, though. Johnson’s defensive value comes from helping in the paint, while Patterson is an expert helper in the pick-and-roll on the perimeter. They represent entirely different fits for the Raptors.

Right now, the question is how well both fit alongside Jonas Valanciunas. The answer used to be simple — Johnson was the right man because of his ability to make up for Valanciunas’s mistakes inside. It has become less obvious.

Read it here:  http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/01/25/toronto-raptors-still-trying-to-find-best-fit-for-jonas-valanciunas/

Cory  Joseph impactful on defensive end in win (from Mike Monroe,  expressnews.com):

” Cory Joseph had neither a point nor an assist in slightly more than 16 minutes of Sunday’s 101-95 Spurs victory over Milwaukee at the AT&T Center, but what he did at the defensive end in the second half had a dramatic effect. A starter in 14 games while Tony Parker and Patty Mills dealt with injuries, Joseph replaced struggling Danny Green just 52 seconds into the third period. His frenetic defensive work was a spark the Spurs needed, and they limited the Bucks to 12 points in the period to take a lead into the fourth quarter. … Gregg Popovich, who has had to juggle the playing time behind Parker between Joseph and Mills, understood how Joseph changed the game. “He had a significant impact,” the Spurs coach said. “He comes in and makes it tough for the other team to score. He gets loose balls. He rebounds. He does everything that helps the team, all the blue-collar kinds of things. He got down and really made a contribution, but hardly anyone notices it.” Joseph’s teammates noticed. “For sure, he was big in our turnaround of the game,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said.”

Read it here (subscription required):  http://www.expressnews.com/sports/spurs/article/Spurs-notebook-Joseph-impactful-on-defensive-end-6039615.php

(BI Note: Yet another example that highlights  the silliness of many of the single metric ranking of players’ performances, each of which would have missed the influence that Joseph had on the game.)

–  Why the Phoenix Suns are for real (from Kellan Olson, brightsideofthesun.com):

Read and view it here:  http://www.brightsideofthesun.com/2015/1/26/7878839/why-the-suns-are-for-real-and-the-changes-theyve-made-in-their

Rudy Gobert’s Assists (from Dan Clayton, Saltcityhoops.com):

” He has started to show some impressive court vision and what his coach calls “obvious unselfishness.”

On both a per-minute and per-possession basis, he leads all of Utah’s rotation bigs1, and the fact that he’s out-assisting Trevor Booker and Enes Kanter is meaningful, since it’s their minutes he seems to be threatening to cut into.

More importantly, it’s the types of assists and good vision he’s showing that get people excited, both within Utah’s fan base and among national guys2 keeping tabs on the Jazz.”

Read about and view all 42 assists here:  http://saltcityhoops.com/the-notre-dime-watch-all-of-rudy-goberts-42-assists/

 

 

–  Where do Bucks players shoot their shots and do they do it well? (from jeremy Schmidt, bucksketball.com):

”  The Bucks are egenerating 103.5 points per 100 possessions. The low ranking is interesting, given that the Bucks are ranked eighth in the league in field goal percentage, having made 46.2% of their shots this season.

But it’s what shots they are making and what shots they are taking that could predict how things will develop the rest of the season offensively for Milwaukee, not just that they are making shots now. So let’s take a look at which Bucks players are taking what shots.’

Read it here:  http://www.bucksketball.com/2015/01/where-do-bucks-players-shoot-their-shots-and-do-they-do-it-well/

 

 

–  Lessons to be learned in Atlanta (from Key Dae, canishoopus.com):

” Something that is incredibly bothersome to me surrounding the Hawks is the idea that they’re a cinderella team, relying on teamwork, hustle, and determination to make up for their lack of star players. That’s not true. That’s a headline narrative for the AP feed. Don’t get me wrong…the Hawks definitely have chemistry. They definitely play 100% every night. But to imply they’re basically a team of likable, overachieving mid-carders is vastly underselling their starters, to the point of it being borderline insulting.

They aren’t deserving of four All Stars because they’re winning a ton. They’re deserving of four All Stars because they have four players playing like All Stars.”

Read it here:  http://www.canishoopus.com/2015/1/26/7904783/lessons-to-be-learned-in-atlanta

 

 

–  Draft Rights Held Players (from Mark Porcaro, hoopsrumors.com):

”  Each year around draft time you’ll hear the term draft-and-stash being tossed around in regard to international players and late second-round picks, but what happens to these players? It seems like the majority of them stay overseas and never make it to the NBA. The truth is the very best of these players are honing their skills in some of the best leagues around the world. The remainder become trade assets for the teams holding their rights.

This season we have seen five such players join the league after having been stashed overseas. The most recent was Furkan Aldemir, who joined the 76ers last month nearly two and a half years after he was drafted. Others, like Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic and Brooklyn’s Bojan Bogdanovic, have made strong impressions in their rookie seasons. Kostas Papanikolaou and Lucas Nogueira, in Houston and Toronto respectively, also have debuted this season after playing last season abroad. All five players have plenty of skill and potential to boot and all have something else in common. Every one of those five players was drafted by a different team and their rights were traded elsewhere.

Usually, if a player doesn’t come over within two years of having been drafted, he will never make the leap. Mirotic and Bogdanovic are two exceptions to the rule, as both joined their teams three years later, but both were highly regarded prospects to begin with. Only five other such cases exist in the last 10 drafts, with Joel Freeland (six years later) standing as the only player to stay overseas longer than three years after he was drafted and still make the NBA jump. From 2005-2012, there were 90 international players drafted who played their predraft seasons overseas. Fifty-five of them, or 61.1%, have made their NBA debuts. Twenty-nine of those players were first-round picks, and all except for Fran Vazquez (the 11th pick in 2005) and Petteri Koponen (the 30th pick in 2007) have played in the NBA at some point.  That’s a 93.1% success rate!  That also means the success rate for second-round picks is just 45.9% (28 of 61).  It’s even grimmer if we take just the second half of the second round (picks 46-60), wherein just 13 of 36, or 36.1%, of players have worn a NBA jersey.”

Read Mark’s  list of all current players who still have their draft rights held by a NBA team here:  http://www.hoopsrumors.com/2015/01/draft-rights-players.html

 

–  BREAKING DOWN 10-DAY CONTRACTS AND IMMEDIATE D-LEAGUE ASSIGNMENTS FOR PLAYERS (from Gina Pilato, dleaguedigest.com):

‘  When Andre Dawkins signed a 10-day contract with the Boston Celtics and was immediately assigned to the Maine Red Claws, there was a reason for it.

DLeagueDigest.com reached out to a NBA executive recently and learned that there are three main ideas behind 10-day deals for NBA teams. According to the executive, the top three things NBA teams look to get out of a 10-day contract are “security, providing coaches with a practice player and coverage in a game if needed, and the chance to test drive a player.””

Read it here:  http://dleaguedigest.com/2015/01/25/breaking-down-10-day-contracts-and-immediate-d-league-assignments-for-players/

 

 

Additional Player Updates:

 

Al Horford:  http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/basketball/horford-on-the-spot-and-on-the-money/njw4k/

Patrick Patterson:  http://www.rantsports.com/nba/2015/01/25/patrick-patterson-adds-braun-and-brain-to-toronto-raptors-front-line/

Reggie Bullock:  http://www.nba.com/clippers/reggie-bullock-holds-no-grudges-after-trade

Hassan Whiteside:  http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/miami-heat/fl-miami-heat-news-0124-20150125-story.html

Aaron Gordon:  http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/orlando-magic/os-orlando-magic-news-0126-20150125-story.html

Jordan Clarkson:  http://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/la-sp-lakers-fyi-20150125-story.html

Brandon Bass:  http://www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/extras/celtics_blog/2015/01/brandon_bass_will_get_a_chance_to_improve_trade_value_with_o.html

Ronald Roberts:  http://www.ridiculousupside.com/2015/1/26/7888167/ronald-roberts-making-early-impact-for-santa-cruz-warriors

LaMarcus Aldridge:  http://www.oregonlive.com/blazers/index.ssf/2015/01/doctor_says_lamarcus_aldridge_not_taking_a_long-te.html

Isaiah Thomas:  http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2015/01/25/phoenix-suns-guard-isaiah-thomas-hits-hot-streak-on-3s-after-getting-hand-drained/22329473/

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

 

Breaking Down How Timofey Mozgov Changes the Cleveland Cavaliers Defense (from Dylan Murphy, Bleacher Report):

Read and view it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2327840-breaking-down-how-timofey-mozgov-changes-the-cleveland-cavaliers-defense

 

Examining Mike Conley’s unorthodox right-handed floater (from Andrew Ford, Grizzlybearblues.com):

“Floater” as a basketball term is defined as an early layup taken by a player moving towards the rim where, upon release, the ball floats in the air over the top of a defender before dropping softly into the hoop. It’s otherwise known as a tear-drop or a runner. The definition makes it sound simple, but it is one of the hardest shots in basketball to perfect.

Long a weapon of choice for the undersized of the NBA, the floater requires a tremendous amount of body control, solid footwork, and soft touch. There is only a handful of players who even utilize the shot with regularity, and there are even fewer who have mastered the shot. Tony Parker, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, and Rajon Rondo have all developed a reputation as guys that are the best in the game at taking and making floaters.

Mike Conley is another player who has developed a notable floater during his NBA career. Each one of the aforementioned players shoots the floater a bit differently, but none of them shoot it like Conley. A predominantly left-handed shooter, Conley essentially only shoots floaters with his weaker right hand.

Shooting with the weak hand is not a high-percentage event for most NBA players, particularly outside of shooting point-blank layups. The special thing about Conley, though, is that he doesn’t have much of a “weak” hand. He’s been adept at driving and finishing with both hands dating back to high school, and he’s only honed his ambidextrous craft even more since entering the NBA.”

Read it here:  http://www.grizzlybearblues.com/features/2015/1/15/7541653/mike-conley-floater-shot-analysis-ambidextrous

 

Brad Stevens Wants C’s to Soar Like  Hawks (from Chris Forsberg, ESPN):

” “We had a long talk [Wednesday] as a staff, we all want these guys to all be able to do things that the Teagues, the Korvers and those guys do on an every-night basis,” Stevens said. “I think that’s part of the process.”

If the Celtics are looking for a blueprint to follow as part of their own rebuild — both on the court and with roster construction — they would be wise to examine what Atlanta has done.

On the court, the Hawks run the motion-heavy, pass-happy, up-tempo offense that Stevens desires from his team. Defensively, the Hawks put themselves in all the right spots and work together to cover missteps, while adding some physicality despite their lack of front-line size.

“They just play the right way,” Stevens said. “Defensively, they are very connected. They play very hard and the numbers bear that out. And, offensively, I think they are one of the elite teams in the league, just because of the way they spread the floor, the multiple skilled bigs that they have that allow them to play — either with rolling, but also with driving and spacing. Then you’ve got guards, you’ve got two guards that can get wherever they want to go with the ball. And then guys that can shoot around them. Heck of a mix.” ”

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/celtics/post/_/id/4717114/copy-machine-cs-want-to-soar-like-hawks

 

– Atlanta Hawks’ Unstoppable Surge (from Ben Watanabe, nesn.com):

Read it here: http://nesn.com/2015/01/paul-millsap-kyle-korver-driving-atlanta-hawks-unstoppable-surge/

 

Kyle Korver (from Dei Lynam, csnphilly.com):

“We are a true team,” Korver said. “We do not have a superstar that we are going to play through every night. We don’t have one person dominate the ball. We find the open man and knock down shots. We have a lot of guys who can shoot, so we spread the floor, and when everybody is touching the ball everybody plays a little harder.”

Korver is playing, arguably, the best basketball of his 12 NBA seasons. He leads the league in three-point percentage at 52.5, and his 115 made threes are the second-most among NBA players this season.

“Being around him every day we are very fortunate,” Budenholzer said. “He makes the coaches look a lot better and a lot smarter. He is such a professional and Korver works so hard. Besides him being a shooter, I think other parts of his game are underrated. His efforts defensively and his efforts on the boards set a tone. His example is he is going to do everything he can to help us win.”

Read it here:  http://www.csnphilly.com/basketball-philadelphia-76ers/kyle-korver-thought-he-would-be-sixer-life

 

Lionel Hollins molded a title contender — 1,000 miles away (from Tim Bontemps, NYPost):

“We were together for a long time,” Hollins said. “Those guys were puppies, and now they’re men. It’s good to see them, but it’s not good to compete against them when they’re firing on all cylinders like they were [tonight].”

Before the game, his former players were in a reflective mood about Hollins, who led Memphis to an improved winning percentage in each of his four-plus years there.

“He did a lot [for me],” Gasol said. “But first he showed me that in the NBA it’s a serious thing and a serious business.

“[He] changed a lot of things in the organization, and he made us bond together. He made us work from Day 1. We believed in each other. He preached a lot and he’s somebody that means a lot to me and we stayed in touch after that because that was the kind of impact he’s had on me.”

Allen, in particular, praised Hollins for helping him be named to an All-Defensive team each of their four seasons together.

“All I can remember [from] me being under him is he enhanced my level of play,” Allen said. “I thought he brought the best out of me.”

Read it here:  http://nypost.com/2015/01/14/lionel-hollins-molded-a-title-contender-1000-miles-away/

 

–  Magic vs. Rockets notebook: Orlando pushes the pace for its second straight win (from Zach Oliver, orlandopinstripedpost.com):

Read it here:  http://www.orlandopinstripedpost.com/2015/1/15/7549949/orlando-magic-houston-rockets-final-score-2015-victor-oladipo-pace-efficiency

 

–  What Is Orlando Trying to Do? (from Zach Lowe, Grantland.com):

Read and view it here:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/a-rabbit-in-the-hat-what-is-orlando-trying-to-do/

 

– Utah’s Smart Approach to Offensive Boards (from Ben Dowsett, Vantage Sports):

” But what’s crafty about their prowess here is the method to their attack. Utah is just 22nd in the NBA for OReb Pursuit Rate, or the percentage of reboundable opportunities where a player moves out of his area chasing the board, at 48.79 percent—a curiously low figure for a team that can be so successful on the offensive glass. On the flip side, Utah is 2nd in OBlockouts per 100 Opportunities at 3.67, trailing only Portland. This distinction is of particular importance. Utah coach Quin Snyder has made transition defense a huge priority in his first year at the helm and knows full well that irresponsibly chasing unlikely offensive boards can lead to opposing numbers advantages on the other end when the gamble fails to pay off.

As a result, Snyder’s group, and especially his bigs, are selective with their aggression. They’ll pursue when they’ve got good position, especially when given a chance to actively box out a potential defensive rebounder, but will mostly back off if chasing the board requires jumping themselves out of position or leaving their transition defense at a deficit.”

Read and view it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VLTKISMAALmmP9ly/utahs-smart-approach-to-offensive-boards

 

 

 Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Clippers: Great Defense on Lillard Overcomes Aldridge’s Offense (from Dave Deckard, blazersdedge.com):

“The Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers put on a display of playoff-level basketball tonight in the Moda Center. The game had everything you’d want from a Western-Conference showdown: big stars shining, great plays, fast tempo, and neither team led by double-digits at any point in the contest.”

Read it here: http://www.blazersedge.com/2015/1/15/7550897/portland-trail-blazers-vs-los-angeles-clippers-damian-lillard-chris-paul

 

–  Wizards make Bulls disappear again in 105-99 Bulls loss (from Sam Smith, bulls.com):

“I look at it as a part of the path and an opportunity for us to understand we still have a lot of work to do to improve,” said Gasol of the loss. “I think it’s important to go through obstacles and adversity and utilize it to make your stronger. So that’s what we have to do.”

If not a crisis, it is a time of uncertainty, and even Thibodeau seems to be crying out for help. Some suggestion of how can we do the job these days compared to just doing your job.

“It’s not that we’re going to the hot hand,” said Thibodeau. “It’s who’s available. It’s tough to build continuity that way when you have guys in and out. That’s our reality; we have to figure it out, we have to deal with it. There’s times we have three point guards on the floor and they have (Paul) Pierce out there. But we still have to find a way to win. We can’t hang our heads and we can’t make excuses. We’ve just got to find a way to win.”

Read it here:  http://blogs.bulls.com/2015/01/wizards-make-bulls-disappear-again-in-105-99-bulls-loss/

 

– Square Pegs, Round Holes, and the Raptors’ Defense (from Phil Davey, vantagesports.com):

”  The Toronto Raptors have been one of the more surprising teams this season. Despite LeBron and Love joining the Cavaliers and the Warriors possessing the best record in the league, the Raptors lead the league in Offensive Rating through nearly half the season.

Although they were certainly expected to be a good team this year, it likely comes as a surprise to most that they’re performing this well on offense, particularly given they’ve been missing DeMar DeRozan for an extended period of time. At their best, the Raptors spread the floor beautifully and combine a mix of quick ball movement, strong play in the pick-and-roll, and the ability to score in isolation situations to create a potent product.

Instead, their defense has been the Raptors’ shortcoming this season.

Currently, the Raptors sit 22nd in Defensive Rating, and the inability to consistently get stops has been their downfall this season, particularly against other potent offensive teams, who have had a tendency to blow them out over the last few weeks (such as the Warriors and the Suns). The Raptors have some perfectly capable defensive players on their roster, but there are a few reasons that they still have a below-average defense, mostly revolving around player fit.”

Read and view it here: http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VLUauyMAABhrQHtz/square-pegs-round-holes-and-the-raptors-defense

 

–  Kendrick Perkins  (from Jenni Carlson, newsok.com):

Read it here:  http://newsok.com/look-at-the-numbers-thunder-defense-is-better-when-kendrick-perkins-is-on-the-floor/article/5384679

 

–  Thunder is not asking Dion Waiters to be a James Harden clone (from Darnell Mayberry, newsok.com):

” We’re still figuring out how he fits in and who he fits in with,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “I don’t know what his best lineup will be. But we have some time to work on that… I like his competitive spirit. That’s the only thing that I know right now that he brings to our team for sure.”

Brooks said it could take weeks to learn where Waiters is most effective. Subtleties such as where Waiters likes to get the ball and how he likes to set up his defender, when he cuts versus spots up and when he shoots versus sets up others, will crystalize over the next several contests.

“I really don’t have a good grip of that yet,” Brooks said. “We just have to continue to build on what he can do to help us win games.”

An examination of Waiters’ past production provides a glimpse into how he might fit with the Thunder.

Based on his body of work over the past 11/2 seasons, Waiters is really good in the restricted area, most efficient from long range, particularly the left corner, when assisted and has a knack for creating his own shot. Each of those strengths could blend nicely with the Thunder if used appropriately.”

Read it here:  http://newsok.com/thunder-is-not-asking-dion-waiters-to-be-a-james-harden-clone/article/5384704

 

–  Why This Proposed Austin Rivers–Clippers Trade Seems Like a Bad Idea (from Jason Concepcion, Grantland.com):

Read it here:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/doc-rivers-austin-rivers-clippers-trade-bad-idea/

 

–  Reggie Jackson’s Oklahoma City Problem (from Andrew Sharp, Grantland.com):

Read it here:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/reggie-jacksons-oklahoma-city-problem/

 

 Do the Hornets have an identity crisis? (from Bryan Mears, atthehive.com):

”  The Hornets look much different with and without Al Jefferson. Which version is better and which should they build around moving forward?”

Read it here:  http://www.atthehive.com/2015/1/15/7552045/do-the-hornets-have-an-identity-crisis

 

–  The Evolution of Blake Griffin’s Game (from Zachary Krajkowski, numberfire.com):

Read it here:  http://www.numberfire.com/nba/news/4176/from-dunker-to-jump-shooter-the-evolution-of-blake-griffin-s-game#

 

–  Jason Kidd Proving His Place as an NBA Head Coach (from Fred katz, Bleacher report):

Read it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2329953-jason-kidd-proving-his-place-as-an-nba-head-coach

 

Bismack Biyombo, after losing starting job and nearly half his minutes, happily helping Hornets (from Dan Feldman, NBC Sports):

Read it here: http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/01/14/bismack-biyombo-after-losing-starting-job-and-nearly-half-his-minutes-happily-helping-hornets/

 

–  Bismack Biyombo was amazing in loss to Spurs (from Tom Sorenson, charlotteobserver.com):

Read it here:  http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2015/01/14/5448293/tom-sorensen-bismack-biyombo-was.html

 

– Charlotte Reborn in Absence of Jefferson (from Cameron Purn, Vantagesports.com):

Read and view it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VLJlBiMAACQAOxGX/charlotte-reborn-in-absence-of-jefferson

 

Top 10 D-League Showcase prospects (from Marc Spears, Yahoo Sports):

“The NBA Development League’s Showcase begins Thursday in Santa Cruz, Calif., and one long-time scout thinks there will be plenty of talent to consider among the 16 D-League teams.

 “Overall, there is some pretty good talent and some call-up candidates,” the long-time scout said. “My personal feeling is the same guys you see on the bench [Nos.] 12-to-15 on NBA rosters are the same guys you see in the D-League. It’s just about opportunity. This season I’ve seen a lot more NBA scouts at D-League games than before.”

Here’s 10 potential call-ups to watch at the D-League Showcase:

  1. Quincy Miller, Reno Bighorns, F, 6-10, 219 pounds: “He’s still young and might be the best prospect with his length, ability to play small forward and power forward, make 3-pointers and handle the ball, too.”

Read about potential call-ups 2-10 here:   http://sports.yahoo.com/news/top-10-d-league-prospects-040307317.html

 

Top Storylines of the 2015 NBA D-League Showcase (from Brian Kotloff, nbadleadgue.com):

Read it here:  http://dleague.nba.com/news/nba-dleague-showcase-2015-top-storylines/?ls=iref:nbahpts

 

For those with access to ESPN Insider:

 

–  Picking NBA All-Star starters (from Amin Elhassan):

”  On Monday, Jan. 19, the balloting for the NBA All-Star starters closes, with the 10 lucky individuals being named on the 22nd (reserves are named a week later). Inevitably, the All-Star announcements come with a prerequisite amount of outrage, as the vagaries of fan voting often result in the awarding of berths to popular players, but not necessarily deserving ones.

That ripple effect is then felt by the coaches, who are often forced to make tough decisions between deserving players fighting to make the reserve selection list. That’s not to say coaching selections are infallible either; it’s not like coaches sit around all day trying to discern the most worthy players — they are preoccupied with winning the real games on their schedule (as they should).

With that in mind, I’ve taken on the “burden” of making the All-Star selections for the starting berths in both conferences.”

Read it here:  http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/12170708

(BI Note:  If only.  A true all-star game with lineups like these would probably be worth watching – unlike the Popularity Contest Game that we are faced with instead.)

 

Additional player notes:

Langston Gallowayhttp://www.philly.com/philly/sports/sixers/20150115_Langston_Galloway_living_dream_with_nightmarish_team.html

Jordan McRaehttp://www.sportal.com.au/nba/mcrae-focused-optimistic-about-possible-nba-opportunity/16s0ppeqq2p31m0k0t72rgox9

James Johnson/Terrence Ross: http://www.tsn.ca/talent/johnson-pushes-ross-for-starting-spot-alongside-derozan-1.183182

Joe Johnson:  http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/brooklyn-nets/post/_/id/22051/as-minutes-climb-numbers-dip-for-johnson

Darren Collison:  http://cowbellkingdom.com/sacramento-kings-tapping-into-darren-collisons-potential/

Meyers Leonard:  http://ripcityproject.com/2015/01/15/joel-freeland-still-recovering-meyers-leonard-now-excelling/

Dahntay Jones:  http://basketball.realgm.com/article/236262/Scouting-Report-Dahntay-Jones

Zaza Pechulia/John Henson:  http://hardwoodparoxysm.com/2015/01/15/john-henson-zaza-pachulia-carrying-milwaukee-bucks/

Nikola Mirotic:  http://www.givemesport.com/538360-chicago-bulls-nikola-mirotic-should-win-nba-rookie-of-the-year-says-bruce-bowen

Quincy Pondexter:  http://www.nola.com/pelicans/index.ssf/2015/01/quincy_pondexter_is_expected_t.html

Jeff Green:  http://www.si.com/nba/2015/01/14/jeff-green-grizzlies-debut-impact-new-team-western-conference-standings

PJ Tucker/Brandan Wright:  http://www.nba.com/suns/blog/arizona-sports-mcdonough-tuckers-value-wright-trade

Elijah Millsap:  http://www.sltrib.com/sports/2045680-155/millsap-contributing-for-short-handed-utah-jazz

Justin Holiday:  http://www.warriorsworld.net/2015/01/14/warriors-have-found-a-hidden-gem-in-justin-holiday/

Olynyk, DeRozan,Wizards, Spurs, Trade Deadline, Big O

– Olynyk showing improvement during up-and-down rookie season (from Jay King, MassLive.com):

” How has Olynyk’s rookie season gone?

“It’s been up and down,” he said, reflecting right before the All-Star break, during which he will travel to New Orleans to take part in the Rising Stars Challenge. “Definitely had some highs, some lows. It’d be nice if we were doing better collectively.”

Lately, the highs have been coming more frequently….and  his improvements aren’t just in his rebounding and shooting numbers. He’s starting to figure everything out a little bit. Where hesitance reigned supreme earlier in the season, he’s beginning to display more force. He’s rotating a little quicker on defense, taking shots when he’s open.”

Read it here: http://www.masslive.com/celtics/index.ssf/2014/02/kelly_olynyk_showing_improveme.html

– DeRozan proving worthy of scrutinized contract (from Eric Koreen, NationalPost.com):

” It was just 16 months ago when the basketball-observing public, including both the U.S. and local media, was mocking Bryan Colangelo for handing DeMar DeRozan a rich four-year contract extension. At the time, DeRozan was a promising athlete who had failed to tangibly improve over his first three years in the NBA. It was a bet on potential, not a

reward for production. Such gambles had failed before for Colangelo — see: Bargnani, Andrea.

As the blowback came, there was significant concern from various members of the Raptors organization that the negativity would affect DeRozan. Just give him a chance to live up to the deal, worth at least US$38-million, they said.

One person who did not share those worries: DeRozan.

In his first full year playing under the terms of the new contract, DeRozan has already shown himself worthy of the money.”

Read it here: http://sports.nationalpost.com/2014/02/13/toronto-raptors-demar-derozan-proving-worthy-of-scrutinized-contract/

– What makes Wizards’ Offense inefficient?  (from Conor Dirks, Turthaboutit.com):

” Washington’s offense, though predictably improved from last year, is still one of least impressive units in the NBA (currently ranked 21st out of 30)*. But what makes Washington’s offense (101.2 points scored per 100 possessions) so much less efficient than the NBA’s elite offenses (the top 7 units in the NBA all score over 107 points per 100 possessions)?”

Read it here: http://www.truthaboutit.net/2014/02/wittmans-heart-shaped-boxes-a-mid-range-love-story.html

And, an actual very good pre-trade deadline piece: (ok, Zach Lowe and Sam Amick have done some terrific ones, too)

– San Antonio Spurs trade deadline primer (from JGomez, Poundingtherock.com):

“All the information you need as the Spurs close in on the trade deadline.”

Read it here: http://www.poundingtherock.com/2014/2/14/5410304/san-antonio-spurs-trade-deadline-primer

– TNT to Air Special on “The Big O” on Saturday:

” University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Royals basketball legend Oscar Robertson will be the subject of a one-hour TNT special during NBA All-Star weekend. “The Big O” airs this Saturday, Feb. 15, at 5 p.m. on TNT, and repeats at 11 p.m.  on NBA TV Monday, Feb.  17.”

http://www.gobearcats.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/021314aal.html

AD, Musselman,CP3,Nets,Curry,OKC,’64 ASG,Crawford

– All-Star Weekend is another New Orleans spotlight for Anthony Davis (from James Herbert, SBNation):

” Not even two years ago at the Superdome in New Orleans, freshman Anthony Davis led Kentucky to a victory over Louisville in the biggest game of his life and yelled, “This is my stage.” Days later, his team disposed of Kansas in the championship game, and the skinny, shot-swatting big man was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

As soon as the New Orleans Hornets won the 2012 NBA Draft lottery, it was obvious Davis would be making many more memories in the Big Easy. ESPN had a crew in Lexington for his reaction.

“It’s like karma,” Davis said. “I won a national championship there, so that’s always exciting. I just can’t wait to get down there if I get drafted No. 1.”

Of course, there was never any if. You didn’t have to be a Ken Pomeroy or John Hollinger to know Davis could be a franchise player. What’s remarkable is that, at 20 years old, he’s already playing like one.”

Read it here: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/2/14/5407456/anthony-davis-pelicans-all-star-feature-2013

– Musselman hatched improbable cradle of NBA coaches ( from Jerry Zgoda, Minneapolis Star Tribune):

” Six Bill Musselman disciples from the Wolves’ first two years have become NBA head coaches.”

Read it here: http://www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/245477251.html

Splitting the difference (from Beckley Mason, ESPN”s TrueBrooklyn):

” Shaun Livingston has defied all expectations, while Deron Williams struggles to live up to them.”

Read it here: http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/65933/splitting-the-difference

– How a defensive switch can ruin the best after-timeout sequence (from Doug Eberhardt, SBNation):

” Strong after-timeout coaching doesn’t just happen on offense. We highlight an example of a defensive call that helped the Pacers

win a critical game against the Blazers.”

Read and view it here: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/2/13/5409026/frank-vogel-indiana-pacers-nba-breakdown-blazers

– Stephen Curry’s consistency is key to his shot (from Marcus Thompson, MercuryNews.com):

Ask Stephen Curry what’s the key to his renowned outside shot, and his answer comes matter-of-factly.

“Shooting it the same way every time,” he said recently…

He makes it sound so simple.

Though relatively small in size — he’s 6-foot-3, 185 pounds — Curry has become one of the most formidable offensive players in the NBA. His primary weapon is an ability to shoot that will go down in history.

He’s already considered the best shooter in the game, the ambassador for reviving a lost art. No doubt, shooting it the same way every time is a chief component of his success.

But what distinguishes the Warriors’ star is the great form he’s repeating.”

Read it here: http://www.mercurynews.com/portal/marcus-thompson/ci_25133842/thompson-stephen-currys-consistency-is-key-his-shot?_loopback=1

– OKC Keeps Winning, But Russ Remains Key (from Ramona Shelbourne, ESPN):

” Durant has been the first-half MVP, OKC has been the league’s best team, but to do what they all want to do this June, Westbrook needs to be Westbrook. So stop with the talk that his return sometime after the All-Star break will be anything other than the best addition any team makes at the trade deadline.”

Read it here: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime

– Chris Paul recalls crying after Hornets finalized deal sending him to Clippers (from Marc Spears, YahooSports.com):

” Paul’s memorable Hornets tenure with a bitter ending started nearly nine years ago when he was the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft.”

Read it here: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/why-clippers–chris-paul-has-bittersweet-recollections-of-his-time-with-the-hornets-023418449.html

The All-Star Game That Nearly Wasn’t  (from Steve Aschburner, NBA.com):

” In the months, weeks and days leading up to the 1964 All-Star Game, the NBA players and their still-budding union had been blown off more than once by the franchise owners and the league’s hierarchy. Officers and player-reps of the National Basketball Players Association would travel to a Board of Governors meeting, encouraged that they would have an audience with the bosses, only to be left cooling their heels outside the room.

Until the evening of Jan. 14, 1964, when the owners of the NBA’s nine teams were the ones on the wrong side of the door, banging and pleading to get in.

“The owners kept putting us off and putting us off,” said Tom Heinsohn, the Boston Celtics’ Hall of Fame player, coach and broadcaster who was NBPA president at the time (owing mostly to his offseason job in the insurance field). “Finally, we decided, ‘We’re not going to play the All-Star Game.’ ”

Read it here: http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2014/02/13/the-all-star-game-that-nearly-wasnt/

– Jamal Crawford Shining With Clippers (from Alex Kennedy, BasketballInsiders.com);

Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford is 33 years old and this is his 14th season in the NBA, yet somehow he continues to improve from year to year. While other veterans show signs of decline, Crawford continues to strike fear in the opposition with his humiliating crossovers and jaw-dropping scoring ability.

“It’s weird, but I feel like I’m still getting better,” Crawford told Basketball Insiders with a laugh. “Now that I’m 14 years in, some people have been like, ‘Why are you still playing?’ A lot of guys start to plateau at that point or start to [decline], but I feel like I’m still getting better. I love the game of basketball. I’m entrenched in it every single day whether I’m playing it or watching it or talking basketball. For me, it’s still fun. It’s fun to work and see yourself get better. For me, I feel like I can do this for a very long time; God willing, no major injuries.”

Read it here: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-pm-jamal-crawford-shining-with-clippers/