SH Blog: Avery Johnson says Nets are not contenders, Andray Blatche to sign with Nets

It has finally happened, folks. The former self-proclaimed captain Andray Blatche, who has been unable to land with any team through the summer, will play for the Brooklyn Nets. Will that help change the mind of coach Avery Johnson, who stated that his team is not yet ready to contend for a championship? That’s a rhetorical question. We’ve got the mindset of Johnson and other notable coaches, along with relevant activities around the league and fun videos in today’s news:

  • Avery Johnson was never overconfident about re-signing Deron Williams, from Dwain Price of Star-Telegram: “Johnson, who spoke Tuesday at the Fort Worth Dunbar High School assembly, said he and Nets general manager Billy King were never overconfident about Williams’ desire to remain a part of the Nets. “We felt we were going to be able to re-sign Deron,” Johnson said. “We felt it was like 80-90 percent, but it was the 10 percent that you were worried about. “That was the whole key. But I’m glad that’s all behind us now and we can move forward and we can have a team that we’re hoping is going to be pretty competitive when we get it on the floor.”
  • Johnson also stated in the same article that – unlike some of his new players – the Nets are not contenders just yet: “The slew of moves should help the Nets improve on the 24-58 and 22-44 records they compiled during Johnson’s first two seasons. “We’re not there yet, we’re not a championship team,” Johnson said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, but at the same time we have a much better talent pool than we’ve had in the last two years.” Whether that talent upgrade is enough to get the Nets into the Eastern Conference championship race alongside the world-champion Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics remains to be seen. “We’re ready to just get in training camp,” Johnson said. “But I will say we’re much more versatile than we’ve ever been, we have more experience. “Right now we look good on paper. Now we’ve got to try to take it from looking good on paper and getting in and apply the work to go with it.”
  • Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls have resumed talks for a contract extension, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago: “Chicago Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and coach Tom Thibodeau have resumed negotiations about a contract extension for Thibodeau, according to a source familiar with the situation. The Bulls picked up Thibodeau’s option for the 2012-13 season after last season. General manager Gar Forman repeatedly has stated that it is the organization’s intention to lock up Thibodeau for the long term, even though talks stalled earlier in the summer.”
  • Erik Spoelstra expects his team to play even faster than last season, according to Ira Winderman of South Florida Sun Sentinel: “Erik Spoelstra successfully revved up the Miami Heat’s offense. He said Tuesday you haven’t seen anything yet. After the Heat played at a faster pace in their championship run than in previous seasons, going from 21st in the NBA in pace to 14th in 2011-12, Spoelstra said on the debut of the Jorge Sedano Show on WQAM that he is hopeful of pushing the tempo further this coming season. “I hope to play faster,” he said. “We turned it up a gear last year and I think we have the personnel to hopefully go even faster. And I think with a normal training camp and a full season, we can build that habit a little bit more.”
  • Kevin McHale explained the difference between guys that really care and the guys that are happy with their money, from Jason Friedman of “JCF: Do you think the percentage of those guys in the league is any different today than it was when you played? Or do you think there always will be a portion of guys who get it, some who don’t and the vast majority who exist somewhere in between? KM: There are always going to be guys who are willing to play really hard until it gets uncomfortable. And then there are those guys who, when it gets really uncomfortable, they dig even deeper. Then there are the guys who – and I hate to say this but it’s true – look at you and say, ‘Come on, dude, I’m making some good money and I’m only going to play so hard.’ I think you can figure out which group you win more with. That’s why veteran teams tend to win more. It takes you a long time to figure it out because no one is telling you that. You have people whispering in your ear when you’re in college, ‘Oh, wait ‘til you get to the NBA, you’re going to get paid and get cars and live here.’ They’re telling you about all this stuff you’re going to get but they don’t tell you about how hard it is.”
  • Sharp-shooter Steve Novak has been working on his ability to put the ball on the floor before taking shots, from Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York: “Q: Offensively, what have you been working on? Novak: In the NBA, they say, “Do what you do.” I try to never get away obviously from understanding what my strength is, which is shooting the ball, but knowing how defenses are going to change this year guarding me, I knew I had to work on my one- and two-dribble pullups. I knew I had to be more comfortable putting the ball on the floor more and dribbling more — not just catching and shooting. So that’s really what I did a lot of work on — lots of reps with “The Gun,” the rebounding machine. I would just get the ball and shot fake to the right, shot fake to the left and shot fake to draw the foul. The thing I’ve been focusing on is just a small change, being more comfortable with that, but I feel like it’s one of those small changes that can just make a really big difference. I feel like if I can draw fouls on my shot fake and that kind of thing, it totally changes the way a defender has to guard me.
Free agent F Andray Blatche has agreed in principle to a 1-year contract paying the minimum with the Brooklyn Nets, a source told Y! Sports.
Marc J. Spears
  • Hedo Turkoglu expects to have a different role with the Magic without Dwight Howard, from Hoops World: “Then he (Hedo Turkoglu) is asked about his role in the rebuilding Magic and if he is going to be taking more responsibilities on the court without Dwight Howard. He replied: ” Of course it is going to be a different team, our roles will be different. Actually it’s the reason why I’m going to USA this early, as Magic is in a rebuilding process we have new players, coaches and managers. I wanted to go there as soon as possible to see my new role and talk with the staff to understand their expectations from me. I really want to have a good season in my 13rd year in the NBA and I have both physical and mental capabilities to do that. I hope to stay away from injuries and have a successful season.”
  • Dwyane Wade shared his thoughts about the revamped Lakers, from Sam Gardner of Fox Sports Florida: “They’ll be great, but they have to make it work,” Wade said with a tone that sounded something like a warning — perhaps because he’s speaking from experience. “Some people figure it out right away, some people take till mid-season to figure it out and some take until the next year if they figure it out. Obviously for them, they need to be successful as they want to be, they’re going to have to do it right away.” But as Wade could well testify, that’s easier said than done.”There are a lot of teams anxious and waiting on the season to start, and they’re not necessarily concerned whether (the Lakers) are going to figure it out or not,” Wade said. “They’re worried about themselves, but we understand that they’re going to be a very good team, and we’re ready for the challenge.”
  • Tyreke Evans has a problem: he spins too much. Zach Lowe of SI explains why it’s a a bit of an issue: “If you isolate one player for hours and hours of film study, you begin to notice patterns you might miss or underestimate watching on a game-to-game basis. One such pattern: Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans spins probably more than anyone. And when you talk to scouts, executives and coaches (even Evans’ own head coach), it becomes clear that the spin move is a handy shorthand symbol for an extension-eligible positional mystery fast emerging as one of the most polarizing players in the league. A player who spins is looking to score. Spinning dizzies up a ball handler’s vision, making it hard to read the movements of nine other players scattered around the court. You can count on one hand the players with the vision and coordination to throw creative, pinpoint passes in mid-spin. Evans is not one of them. “The spin move goes back to Tyreke going in there with only one thought on his mind — to score,” said Keith Smart, the Kings’ coach and an Evans optimist. “He didn’t know how to map the floor. He wasn’t reading the defense. He didn’t have a next move.”
  • Scott O’Neil is stepping down as president of Madison Square Garden, according to Frank Isola of New York Daily News: “Scott O’Neil is stepping down from his position as Madison Square Garden president, the Daily News has learned. It is unclear to why O’Neil, considering a rising star in the business, would abruptly step down after just three years as president. According to a source, O’Neil has been at odds with Garden Chairman James Dolan. Others insist that O’Neil has bigger aspirations than running the World’s Most Famous Arena and could eventually be making a return to the NBA league office. O’Neil played an active role with both the Knicks and Rangers and made a name for himself at MSG by securing corporate sponsorship deals with Chase, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines.”
  • We all know Amare Stoudemire’s been working on his post game, but he won’t be able to utilize it as much if he’s sharing the floor with Tyson Chandler, according to Ian Begley of ESPN New York: “As one NBA scout who keeps tabs on the Knicks said recently, “He might come away with one or two new (post) moves, but to master it takes more than two weeks. … He might add it as a wrinkle to his game.” Stoudemire will be best used in the post when he’s not sharing the floor with Tyson Chandler, according to the scout. Chandler draws an extra defender in the paint, which could give Stoudemire less room to work down low, the scout says. If Chandler were to drift outside the paint, it might not help because he isn’t much of a threat to knock down a mid-range jumper. He attempted just two shots from between 10 and 15 feet last season, and went 3-for-12 from 16 to 23 feet.”
  • If you want to see some nasty flagrant fouls from over the years, you can find it here, from Trey Kerby of TBJ.

Kevin McHale wished he had more veterans 

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