A year ago yesterday, Dwight Howard was finally traded. And now, I think we can comfortably say that the Magic won that deal. For one thing, they’re the only ones with any parts remaining, and at this point, the less said about the Lakers’ 2012-13 season, the better. Andre Iguodala is a Warrior, Andrew Bynum is a Cavalier (and of course, never saw the floor in Philly), and Dwight is in Houston. Even Earl Clark isn’t with the Lakers any more. The Magic maybe didn’t end up with Brook Lopez and everything else the Nets were offering, but they’ve got Mo Harkless, Nik Vucevic, and Arron Afflalo, which is three more quality players than the other three teams. It’s the rare win-lose-lose-lose deal, and maybe it’ll serve as caution for teams considering acquiring players on the last year of their deals, banking on the prospects of them re-signing, because none of the three established stars in that deal did.
This August doesn’t have the same intrigue as last year’s, but there’s still some news going on around the NBA, and as usual, I’m here to round it all up for you.
- Kyrie Irving isn’t ready to say he’ll sign an extension with the Cavs, even for max money, according to Bob Finnan via Sulia: “Irving, the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, wouldn’t commit to signing a max extension next summer with the Cavs. That doesn’t mean he won’t sign an extension. He just tip-toed around it when asked about it Saturday morning at the Kyrie Irving Basketball Pro-Camp at Independence High School. “I know it’s your job to ask about it, but I’m not really worried about that right now,” he said. “I’m going to focus on my third year and worry about that in the summertime.” He’s well aware that one of his peers, point guard John Wall, recently signed a five-year, $80 million extension with the Wizards. “I’m excited for him,” Irving said. “We grew up together coming up the ranks. We were both guys who weren’t rated at the top coming out of high school. We both burst onto the scene. He’s the first guy to get a max deal out of all of us who came through the AAU scene. It was surreal for him.” “
For those asking about Baron Davis, he’s been playing pickup games at Clips’ practice facility “looking good” (via source). NBA plans TBD.
— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) August 11, 2013
- Here’s an excerpt from a Mark Cuban radio interview, via the Dallas Morning News: “Dirk’s got a no-trade deal, so whether it’s one year, three years, 20 years, it really doesn’t matter. He gets to sign and re-sign as often as he wants. The length of the contract is more about how long longer Dirk wants to play more than anything else. Particularly with a young kid, he’s gonna want to spend time, but he’s also going to want to get some sleep. I don’t see Dirk walking away from the game anytime soon. Dirk really wants to come back and send a message to everybody that he’s got a lot left. The thing about Dirk is he’s skill driven. He’s basketball-IQ driven, he’s wins driven. He’s not driven by athleticism. As long as he stays healthy, he could play for a long time.”
- Tristan Thompson is making a change, writes Michael Grange of SportsNet.ca: “The burgeoning Canadian NBA star, a left-handed shooter for his entire basketball career, has decided to use his right hand to shoot jump shots and free throws. The unusual – perhaps historic – switch has been months in the planning but had its competitive debut Thursday night in Canada’s 81-71 win over Jamaica in the first of two exhibition games between the two countries in advance of the 2013 FIBA Americas tournament. Midway through the third quarter of his first game with the Canadian national basketball team Thompson got the ball on the right side of the floor, faked left, drove right and took off for a dunk. He was met at the rim by Jamaica’s Samardo Samuels who got whistled for the foul. In itself it was a strong sequence as Thompson demonstrated he is a threat to go strong with his so-called weak hand. And then something remarkable happened: Thompson went to line, set up for his free throw and shot them right-handed as well – and a new phase in his basketball life began. “I think it’s the first time ever in NBA history,” Thompson said of the change, and he may be right.”
- Here’s Andy Hutchins of Deadspin on Thompson’s change: “I’ve certainly never heard of a player changing his shot hand outside of a video game, and Thompson even wanting to attempt it is pretty impressive. The proof will be in the results, but Thompson was bad enough at shooting (under 40 percent from three feet and out in 2012-13, and just 36.3 percent on jumpers) before this switch that it almost can’t hurt. And, hell, shooting poorly with both hands would at least be a neat talent to have.”
- Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe has this on Paul Pierce’s final camp in Boston… at least for now: “There was one camper donning a Paul Pierce Brooklyn jersey last week at what could be Pierce’s final local camp at Basketball City, in the shadow of his former residence, TD Garden. That’s it. One. After 15 years, Pierce was traded by the Celtics, a victim of the organization’s long-awaited rebuilding plan, a painful example of big business in the NBA. Inasmuch as Pierce and the Celtics wanted their marriage to end in retirement, it just couldn’t. Pierce spent last week working with kids who didn’t understand that business, wishing he was still a Celtic. Parents told him how much they would miss his step-back jumper and headband. It was an emotional week for Pierce but it also allowed him to bid farewell to his fans personally. “I’ve been spending a lot of time this summer in New York and coming back here, and the thing you get that’s tough is the reaction that I am getting from the kids and the parents,” he said. “That’s the tough part. I understand the realization of the trade, moving on now, but when you come back and you are around the kids and the parents and a lot of these kids grew up in the camp for years, you see their reaction. That’s the tough part for me.” “
- Could LeBron James head the NBPA? According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, he’s considering it: “LeBron James said the National Basketball Players Association is “not in a good place right now” and that’s why he’s considering running for the union’s vacant presidency. “I just think the union is going backwards, and it’s not in a good place right now,” James said Saturday in an interview with ESPN after an event for his foundation at which he gave away hundreds of bicycles and tablet computers to underprivileged children in his hometown. I think my voice could be huge in that situation.” The players’ union has been under scrutiny from its members following a 2011 collective bargaining agreement that saw the players give back significant revenue to ownership followed by a scandal involving former executive director Billy Hunter’s use of union funds. Hunter was fired earlier this year, and president Derek Fisher’s term ended this summer. If elected, James would be the most high-profile star to lead the union since Patrick Ewing held the role more than 15 years ago. But with so many demands on his time, James hasn’t decided whether he’ll officially run. The union’s summer meeting is later this month in Las Vegas.”
Dan Malone is about to begin his fourth year as a journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and spent this summer as a features intern at the Cape Cod Times. He blogs, edits and learns things on the fly for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.