Would Oden Be Good Fit For Cavaliers, Or Heartbreak For Fans?

Posted February 24, 2013 by Jeff Sack
Categories: NBA Analysis, NBA Comebacks, NBA Injuries, NBA Team Analysis, NBA Team Issues

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Although the Cleveland Cavaliers, will have plenty of space under the NBA Salary-Cap starting on July 1, speculation is growing that the club could complete a deal; that could be qualified as a “low risk move, with a possible high ceiling.” The “Akron Beacon Journal,” has reported that the team has confirmed they have interest in signing oft-injured veteran center Greg Oden to a contract, possibly within the next week.

The big man who was selected with the number one pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, by the Portland Trail Blazers; will not be ready to take the court until next season, however Cleveland and other franchises in the Association, have explored locking him up to an extended-year pact this year. The sad tale of how the former Ohio State center’s body has broken down under the rigors of the Association, is well-known throughout the NBA.

His knees have failed him, having already undergone three micro-fracture surgeries, before reaching his 25th birthday. The man whom the Blazers hoped would be the next “Bill Russell” has been about as effective as “Billy Crystal,” due to the lack of time he has been on the court. Since Portland chose him over Kevin Durant, the big man has played a total of just 82 regular season contests, and has not been on the hardwood since the 2009-2010 campaign.

The deal is certainly not imminent as there were reports that the big man met on Saturday with Boston Celtics Director Of Basketball Operations on Saturday and the Miami Heat are also known to have interest in seeing what Oden can do after recuperating from his latest surgery. Although the teams that have already had discussions with the veteran Free Agent, would like to sign him before the end of the current campaign; it might behoove Oden to wait until after July 1, to see if he can get teams into a bidding war and increase his value.

Although the city of Portland, has had lots of misfortune in the pivot position; especially with early first round picks (as Bill Walton and Sam Bowie, can attest to,) Cleveland has also spent years waiting for talented centers to regain their health. Cavaliers fans watched Brad Daugherty’s career cut short due to back problems and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, underwent seven operations on his feet, before he could return to the floor. Z, would make an NBA East All-Star squad, after returning to action; but he was the exception not the norm.

At this point; the odds are far greater that Oden will never set foot on a court to play in an NBA contest; than are his odds of reaching the potential that he had when he was drafted. New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire had one such procedure and he lacks the explosiveness he once had. Playing center even at Oden’s height, he will need to be able to jump on both offensive and defensive possessions; if he has lost that ability, his value would be minimal.

That however, will not preclude a franchise from the Association in taking a chance for the big man; if the deal is right. That should be a pact that would give Oden a base salary of somewhere between the veteran’s minimum and part of the mid-level exception slot; plus incentives based on his production. Offer him a two-year-deal with a club option for the third year and a buyout clause after the first. That is a very low risk situation for any squad, while giving Oden what would most likely be his final shot to reach his life long dream of being a productive NBA player.

What should the fans of the Cavaliers, Celtics, Heat, or any other team that signs Oden to expect? Initially, not a lot; other than to most likely see the center on the bench wearing a suit and tie for the balance of this campaign. The center should start to ramp up his conditioning this summer, so that he can be ready for the start of training camp in October.

If the former Blazers center is able to play next season; it is important for his new fans to keep their expectations; tethered to reality. Oden will be a work in progress upon his return, there will be nights that he will thrill his new city, while other nights, the teams fans will rip him apart on the post-game shows. Don’t expect him to play anything more than 20-25 minutes per game, a restriction that could be eased if he shows that he is getting stronger. Could he eventually be as successful in his comeback as Z was with the Cavaliers? That is an answer we won’t know for a while; however as the credo of the NBA states “You Can’t Teach Height.”

Turkoglu Blames Ignorance For Steroid Use; Suspended For 20 Games

Posted February 14, 2013 by Jeff Sack
Categories: NBA Stupid Player Tricks, NBA Suspensions

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How refreshing would it be, if an NBA player actually told the unvarnished truth of what took place, when they have to apologize after they have messed up on or off the hardwood? Wouldn’t you have far more respect for a player, if they said what actually took place; rather than provide the media and the fans, an account that comes with an implied wink and a nod? The “Orlando Sentinel,” reported that Orlando Magic veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu, has received a 20-game suspension from the Association, after tests revealed that the big man tested positive for an anabolic steroid called methenolone.

The veteran will serve the suspension without pay for the 20-contests that he will miss. The native of Turkey, told new club General Manager Rob Hennigan, that he took the banned substance without realizing what it was. The Orlando executive said “Clearly, Hedo made a mistake. He knows he made a mistake. He’s owning it. It’s certainly a disappointing circumstance for us, but I personally feel very confident in the amount of diligence we use to inform our players as to what can and cannot be taken.”

Turkoglu, basically told media members the same thing when he spoke with reporters. The 34-year-old veteran said “I’m sorry. I want to apologize (to) the DeVos family, the Magic organization, my teammates and, most important, all my fans here and all around the world and back home. This is a situation I never wanted to be in.”

Turkoglu, is truly one of the “good guys” in the Association; he was a major factor in Orlando going to the NBA Finals in 2009. Off the court, he was always friendly and forthcoming in interviews, when Orlando would play in Cleveland, while I covered the Cavaliers. However; not checking with the team trainer on a possibly banned substance, is a mistake that can be accepted by a rookie, possibly a second year player. Hedo, is currently playing in his 13th NBA campaign; he is far too smart and knowledgeable to make that mistake.

Bottom Line: Turkoglu, is no longer the player he was a few years ago as age has taken its toll on his body. He took a substance that he knew could cost him games if detected and he played the odds it would not show up in a test. Looking at it with that perspective, it is pretty understandable why he took the course he did. The truth is always the way to go; one would think that the Magic veteran had learned that by now.

Torn ACL Ends Rajon Rondo’s All-Star Campaign

Posted January 27, 2013 by Jeff Sack
Categories: 2012-2013 NBA Season, NBA Injuries, NBA Team Issues

Tags: , ,

Just a few weeks before Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo would be a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star squad, for the first time in his career; the “Boston Globe” reported Sunday, that he is done for the season, after tearing his right ACL in a Friday night loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Hopes that the Celtics star had just hyper-extended his knee against Atlanta collapsed; when an MRI performed on Sunday; prior to Boston defeating the Miami Heat, showed how extensive the damage was.

The loss of Rondo certainly puts the club’s chances of making the Post Season in jeopardy; as they currently are in the eighth slot in the Eastern Conference Playoff chase, with a record of 21-23. The man who controlled the ball for Boston; was having a strong season; averaging 13.1 points and 11.7 assists per contest. The Celtics took the floor on Sunday with a back-court consisting of Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley; which will most likely be the starting tandem for the rest of the season.

Will The Lakers Deal D-Howard Before NBA Trade Deadline?

Posted January 25, 2013 by Jeff Sack
Categories: 2012-2013 NBA Season, NBA Analysis, NBA Team Analysis, NBA Team Issues

Tags: , ,

As the calendar moves toward the end of January; we find ourselves deep into the winter of the Los Angeles Lakers discontent. Preseason predictions of the Lakers rolling through the Western Conference on the way back to the NBA Finals; are now looked at the same disdain one would have for Christmas decorations, so long after the holiday has passed. A change of bench bosses, early in the campaign, from defense oriented Mike Brown, to the run and gun style of Mike D’Antoni, have not improved the club. If the season were to end on Wednesday night, the Lakers would be heading home for the summer, with a mark of 17-25 and trailing the Houston Rockets by four games for the final playoff slot.

Stating that the trade that brought center Dwight Howard to the roster, failed to unfold as planned; is like saying the Titanic had a problem with a leak. Apparently nobody involved in the transaction sending D-12 to the “City Of Angels” considered, the way Howard, would take to his new role on his new team. During his years with the Orlando Magic, the offense revolved around, the best center of his generation. Did he truly expect to have the same results with the Lakers; with Bryant being the long-established leader of the squad?

The Lakers are a rudderless ship; The All-Star guard, wants to go in one direction; while Howard prefers a different course and veteran point guard Steve Nash, stuck in the middle; trying to keep everyone satisfied. “Lakers-Land” has gotten so bizarre; that bench-boss Mike D’Antoni, has asked his squad to concentrate on defense. The former Suns and Knicks head coach operates under the philosophy, that as you score one more point than your opponent, you have played adequate defense. The fact that he realizes his team is not playing hard enough on the defensive end, tells you all you need to know.

The team engaged in a talking-session after the shoot-a-round Wednesday morning, according to the “Los Angeles Times,” in what turned into a rather heated discussion. The paper’s sources stated that there were some bruised egos, as well as teammates calling each other out. Reportedly Bryant asked the center if Howard found it difficult playing with Kobe and was he enjoying the experience; Howard according to the sources did not give a definitive answer to the question.

At this point; Howard is still a one-year rental; as he is an unrestricted Free Agent on July 1. Although, Kobe talked to reporters when they consummated the trade, about handing off the leadership role to D-12; that was a scenario based on Howard signing a long-term pact with the club this summer. That appears to be far less likely in late January, then it did when the trade first took place. If relations do not improve between the two All-Stars this season; Howard most likely will be looking for a new home next summer.

The question now becomes, what exactly should the team do at this juncture? Should they attempt to peddle him, before this campaign’s NBA trade deadline; or hold onto him for the balance of the season and hope they can pull off a sign and trade deal? Unless the club starts to turn their season around against the Utah Jazz on Friday night and plays consistently better on the court; despite the talent, this year could just be a lost-year for the franchise. Would Los Angeles General Manager Mitch Kupchak, be able to get a better package in February, than in July, when a team does not necessarily need to go through the Lakers to sign the big man?

This is far from the first time, that a team that looked great on paper, did not meet expectations on the hardwood. The Lakers experienced it not that many years-go, when they signed Gary Payton and Karl Malone to compliment Bryant and former center Shaquille O’Neal, that team failed to come together. What they have to determine now, is the best way to salvage the situation.

New Names Abound As All-Star Reserves Announced

Posted January 25, 2013 by Jeff Sack
Categories: 2013 NBA All-Star Game

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There will be five first time NBA All-Stars on this year’s Eastern Conference squad, plus James Harden will be playing in his first game for the West, as the NBA announced the reserve players for next month’s contest to be held in Houston, Texas. The players who will play in their first All-Star game, knocked many long-time staples of the contest, such as the Boston Celtics Paul Pierce and the Brooklyn Nets off the court on Sunday, February 3.

Centers Joakim Noah, from the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks Tyson Chandler will embark on their maiden voyage; alongside guards Kyrie Irving, of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jrue Holiday of the Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers guard Paul George.

The Western Conference squad, will have a far more familiar look to it, as San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan and guard Tony Parker are on the roster, along with OKC Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph and LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trail Blazers. Here is the complete list of reserves for both squads:

Eastern Conference Reserves:

Jrue Holiday
Paul George
Chris Bosh
Tyson Chandler
Kyrie Irving
Luol Deng
Joakim Noah

Western Conference Reserves:

Tony Parker
Russell Westbrook
James Harden
LaMarcus Aldridge
Zach Randolph
David Lee
Tim Duncan

Pelicans Will Roost In New Orleans Next Season

Posted January 24, 2013 by Jeff Sack
Categories: NBA NICKNAMES

Tags: , ,

Change is in the air in New Orleans; as “The Times-Picayune,” reported Thursday, that the New Orleans Hornets will cease to exist at the conclusion of this NBA campaign, replaced by the New Orleans Pelicans, starting next season. The paper reports that the new team nickname has already passed approval by the NBA Board Of Governors. Franchise owner Tom Benson, who also owns the New Orleans Saints, has wanted to give his club a new moniker since purchasing the team last year.

Benson told reporters “This isn’t something that was just done overnight. This is a long process. We are not just changing the name to change the name. The Hornets name came from Charlotte. That fits in with Charlotte. It doesn’t fit into New Orleans, La., or our area here. The Hornets don’t mean anything here. We needed something that symbolizes New Orleans and Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. And nothing does that better than this name.”

The Brown-Pelican, is the state bird of Louisiana, as well as having a long-term relationship with sports fans that live in the “Big Easy.” The Pelicans were the city’s minor-league baseball club, from 1887-1959 and tried making a comeback for one season in 1977.

Team President Dennis Lauscha, is very enthused with the new name. Lauscha, said “The primary focus, the primary goal was obviously trying to find that iconic symbol or logo that could really relate to the fans and community and the region. You have to remember this is not just about downtown New Orleans, it’s about this entire region that we serve. The pelican certainly does do that. We intend to use this, the logo and image, as a platform for what we are doing in the community as well. We really wanted to find that iconic name that really is special to New Orleans, that has a special New Orleans feel that our fans can resonate with and say hey ‘that is new Orleans that is our culture that is who we are. We wanted to find that iconic symbol just like the fleur-de-lis is for the Saints.”

The Hornets name could very well be revived, as Charlotte Bobcats team owner Michael Jordan, has stated the would explore options of bringing the name back to Charlotte.

Grizz Shed Salary, While Cavaliers Get Future First Round Pick In Two Team Trade

Posted January 23, 2013 by Jeff Sack
Categories: 2012-2013 NBA Season, NBA Trades

Tags: ,

The “Cleveland Plain Dealer” reported Tuesday, that the Cleveland Cavaliers, completed a multi-player trade with the Memphis Grizzlies. Although the deal did not involve any All-Star caliber players; it is expected to help both the long-term and short-term prospects for each franchise. For Memphis; it was all about shedding salary so that fears of having to trade Rudy Gay or Zach Randolph, or be penalized by the NBA Salary cap are gone. Cleveland acquired a big man who has yet to reach the potential that some thought he possessed, to help them bolster their front-court for the short-term. They will also receive what could potentially be a valuable future first round pick in the NBA Draft.

Heading to the Cavaliers; are forward Marreese Speights and guards Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a future semi-protected first round pick from the Grizzlies. The Cavaliers sent reserve forward Jon Leuer in return, a player who was seeing very little time on the floor in Cleveland. Although Selby and Ellington, could add depth to Cleveland’s back-court; Speights will most likely be a contributor early on; as he tries to fill the void left by center Anderson Varejao whose campaign has ended. The native of Brazil suffered a pulmonary embolism; while undergoing surgery to repair a torn quadriceps muscle.

Speights has shown flashes of greatness since entering the Association, in 2008 as the Philadelphia 76ers took him mid-way through the first round of the NBA Draft. The Sixers had high hopes for him as a cornerstone for their franchise early on, but his lack of consistency, caused them to sour on the big man and he went to Memphis before the beginning of last season. Now in his fifth season in the Association; he has averaged 7.4 points and 4.3 rebounds for his career. Cleveland’s first shot at getting the Grizzlies first round pick, takes place in 2015. The first two-years, Memphis will keep the pick if it is in the first five selections, they also keep the player if taken between 15-30. In 2017 and 2018, Memphis would still keep a top five pick, in 2019 no restrictions remain.

What Memphis mainly gets out of this transaction; is peace of mind; now knowing that shedding six million dollars in salary; will make it a lot easier to hold onto both forwards Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph, the heart and soul of the squad. Memphis has a record of 26-14 through Tuesday night and the two forwards are key to the Grizzlies going far this season. There has been trade talk centering on Gay for most of the year; although Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins, said earlier this season, he would be against the move.


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