Bernucca: NBA Buyout Season’s Winners and Losers

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I’m kinda high on what the Charlotte Bobcats did with Ben Gordon.220px-Gordon7_20091204

The Bobcats waived Gordon on Sunday, preventing him from appearing in the postseason should he sign with another team. While they may have alienated his agent – not a trifle thing in the business world of the NBA – two things should be pointed out.

1. When teams waive or buy out players at this time of the season, they are essentially establishing a price they are willing to pay to that player to not play for them.

2. In this case, the Bobcats made it impossible for Gordon to come back to haunt them in the playoffs.

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SH Blog: Phil Jackson questions Sacramento’s sustainability; is the NBA’s drug testing too easy to beat?

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I don’t know how to feel about the prospect of changing the NBA draft. Peter May is against it. My gut says I should be too. I love the draft, I love the lottery, I love all the drama there is in the whole process.

But then I hear Daryl Morey talk about “eliminating the material incentive to lose” and I think he’s probably right.

But then my inherent sense of fairness wonders what would have happened if the Lakers had gotten LeBron in 2003, and Cleveland had instead picked at the end of the round.

Is it worth potentially losing generations of fans in certain cities to make sure nobody loses on purpose? I guess that’s what it comes down to.

Now here’s the latest from around the NBA:

PHIL JACKSON TALKS TO USA TODAY

Phil JacksonThis is a really great interview where Jackson answers a lot of stuff very frankly about his last couple years: the almost signing with the Lakers, the failed Kings-to-Seattle move, and advising the Pistons in their coaching search. He certainly doesn’t sound like he’s about to return to the game, but he clearly still knows and loves basketball and especially the Lakers. Here’s a snippet about the Sacramento move.

Via Sam Amick of USA Today:

Q: Were you as surprised as the rest of us when the Seattle thing didn’t go through?

A: No.

Q: How come?

A: I have inside information.

Q: But was there a point when you thought it was leaning that way?

A: Yes, when Chris was able to purchase the Maloofs’ interests. I was (convinced it would happen) until I was told there was that opening in the buyout where somebody else could come in and purchase it from a local group. And being a guy who likes (Sacramento Mayor and former NBA All-Star) Kevin Johnson — even though we had a lot of run-ups against Kevin when he was playing — I highly respect what he tried to do and how he was able to save that for the community. Whether that’s a good deal or not is still to be determined.

Q: A good deal in what sense?

A: Can they sustain a team? Will it be a sustainable thing? They’re charged with getting an arena. The NBA has (said), have them get a plan, get an arena. And they provided a plan. But we know how hard the Maloofs had to work to try and get one and couldn’t get it done.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR PHOENIX?

Jeff Hornacek SunsIt’s been a dream season in the desert, but who are the people responsible for turning a projected bottom of the lottery team into a genuine playoff contender in the West, and what do they have planned now that Stage 1 is a resounding success?

Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:

The fact that the New Orleans Pelicans matched that $58 million offer sheet to Eric Gordon made by former Phoenix general manager Lance Blanks two years ago helped the Suns’ salary cap flexibility for McDonough. With so many inexpensive contracts and players performing above their monetary values, the Suns have compiled an impressive group of younger players and enough cap space to make a major splash.

“The best value in the NBA, in the new [collective bargaining agreement], is a really good player on a rookie-scale contract,” McDonough said. “When we won the championship in Boston in 2008, we had Rajon [Rondo] on his rookie-scale contract. We had Glen Davis, who played a big role for us. Leon Powe played a good-sized role for us. Kendrick Perkins had re-signed and had a good number, so that was important.”

The Phoenix equivalent of those players are Dragic, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, Eric Bledsoe, Miles Plumlee, and ex-Celtic Gerald Green. McDonough made the astute hire of former Suns and Jazz standout Jeff Hornacek as coach, although the two had never met before the interview process. Hornacek has made the most of his first NBA head coaching job, galvanizing a bunch of youngsters and journeymen.

“The players are like sponges,” Hornacek said. “They continually ask questions. For coaches, it’s great for us, they are trying to learn, they are trying to do the things we ask. There are a couple of times where they’ll make suggestions. If it’s a good idea, we’ll say, ‘Yeah, let’s go ahead and do that.’ They’re great guys to coach and that obviously helps trying to get some wins.”

BOBCATS WAIVE BEN GORDON

The veteran shooting guard is expected to try to catch on with another team rather than sit out the rest of the season and wait for free agency in the summer.

NBA.com:

Charlotte Bobcats President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins announced today that the team has requested waivers on guard Ben Gordon. The Bobcats roster now stands at 14 players.

“With the recent acquisition of additional backcourt depth to our roster, we believe this is in the best interests of both parties,” Higgins said. “We want to thank Ben for his contributions over the past two seasons and wish him the best as he moves on in his career.”

Acquired from the Detroit Pistons along with a future first-round draft pick on June 26, 2012, in exchange for Corey Maggette, Gordon played in 94 games for the Bobcats with averages of 10.0 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 19.6 minutes. Gordon saw action in 19 games this season, averaging 5.2 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 14.7 minutes.

IS THE NBA’S DRUG TESTING STRONG ENOUGH?

Every year, there are cool stories coming out of MIT’s sports analytics conference, but usually they’re about revolutionary new ways of measuring performance. This one, about steroids (which I don’t think anybody really associates with the NBA), is a little unusual, but certainly interesting.

Henry Abbott of ESPN.com:

Tygart told ESPN.com that the NBA’s testing program, which is built on six urine tests a year, is “not at all” tough to beat.

“Unfortunately, I think the athletes are being let down by the system,” Tygart said in an interview with ESPN.com at the Sloan Conference on sports analytics Saturday at MIT. “Really, I’ve said it before. If there’s no chance of getting caught, and you’re overly competitive, you’re going to do anything possible to win. That includes using these dangerous drugs because they will give you a performance-enhancing benefit.

“We’re hopeful at some point the athletes are supported and given the opportunity to be held to the highest standards. They do it when they’re subjected to the Olympic testing, a year out before the OIympic Games. They’re under our jurisdiction subject to blood testing and out-of-competition, no-notice, no blackout periods for when they can’t be tested. And they fully support it. We’ve never had a player say they didn’t want to be part of the program because of the testing.”

The NBA has been criticized in the past for holes in its testing, but the league’s general counsel, Rick Buchanan, defended the current system.

“We think we have a program that is as good as any other in pro sports,” Buchanan, who oversees the NBA’s testing, told ESPN.com.

DANNY GRANGER COULD START FOR CLIPPERS

grangerIt’s a rare March 1 buyout that jumps right into a starting spot for a playoff team, but the former Pacer could do just that. And the Pacers seem like they’ll enjoy Evan Turner too much to miss him, so this looks like a win-win-win when you consider Philly getting worse and freeing up cap space.

The Associated Press:

Rivers said Granger would “ideally” be a starter for the Clippers because of his height and the flexibility to bring Matt Barnes off the bench as an energetic scorer. Rivers also likes Granger’s familiarity with most of Los Angeles’ defensive concepts, which are similar to the Pacers’ ideas.

“The whole key is how quickly we can get him acclimated, how quickly we can figure out what he does well,” Rivers said. “And he’s still coming back from the injury, so even though he’s back, he still needs more time and minutes.”

Granger said he isn’t worried about his role, albeit while noting he has “always been a starter in my career.”

After the Pacers traded him to Philadelphia and the 76ers bought out his contract earlier this week, Granger entertained offers from several teams before choosing Rivers, Chris Paul and the high-flying Pacific Division leaders for the rest of the season.

“It’s the type of system I will probably thrive in,” Granger said. “It’s the system I have thrived in in the past. All the players want to play that way.”

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Dan Malone is in 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.

SH Blog: Thunder and Clippers Acquire New Pieces; Bulls Closing in on Jimmer; Gasol vents on blog

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grangerFor those who were surprised at teams on the cusp of a who did not make a deadline move to bolster their chances, it is because they had their eyes keenly on the waiver wire.

On Friday afternoon both the Los Angeles Clippers — looking like a real threat in the West — and the Oklahoma City Thunder — the team to beat in the West — picked up veteran wings to strengthen their rotations, locker rooms and title chances. 

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February Free Agency Update: Clippers, Spurs in mix on Granger; Butler, Fredette eyed by playoff teams

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granger

February’s buyout season is becoming more interesting than the trade deadline itself.

There’s a case to be made that the goings-on surrounding Danny Granger, Caron Butler, Jimmer Fredette and others could make a bigger impact than all those moves made one week ago.

With Granger, Butler and now Jimmer Fredette (as the Kings announced) officially bought out and ancillary players like Beno Udrih, Earl Clark and Shannon Brown finding new teams, it’s time to really ramp up the races for players who could make their marks on the playoff chase.

This is the last week for contenders to shore up their playoff  rosters with NBA players for a run they hope will last into June. It is becoming known as February Free Agency.

The official NBA rule is that teams have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, March 1 to waive a player so he can be used on a postseason roster this season. So over the next few days, there will be a barrage of rumors, buyouts and transactions, and we will keep you abreast of all the latest information here at SheridanHoops.

UPDATE – Buyout Bonanzas: Granger, Butler, Fredette Could Help Playoff Teams; Udrih claimed by Grizz

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danny grangerDoes anyone want Danny Granger?

How about Jimmer Fredette?

Perhaps Caron Butler?

And how about this: Someone — the Memphis Grizzlies — wanted Beno Udrih so badly they claimed him off waivers.

This is the last week for contenders to shore up their playoff  rosters with NBA players for a run they hope will last into June. It is becoming known as February Free Agency.

The official NBA rule is that teams have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, March 1 to waive a player so he can be used on a postseason roster this season. So over the next few days, there will be a barrage of rumors, buyouts and transactions and we will keep you abreast of all the latest information here at SheridanHoops.

The Los Angeles Clippers already made a big splash this week by signing Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who had the final two years of his contract bought out by Orlando.

It’s a good fit. The Clippers desperately needed a backup big who warrants defensive attention, and Davis helped current Clippers coach Doc Rivers win one championship and almost a second in Boston.

But the big name that will be on the free agent market over the next few days is Granger.

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