SH Blog: Josh Smith takes offense at being benched; Cheeks says he and Smith are “fine”

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Derrick Rose Bulls sleevesWatching the NBA games on Christmas, my brother turned to me and asked why the teams were all dressed like that. I told him that the NBA does special uniforms on Christmas, and the sleeves are so people can buy them as shirts and the NBA makes more money.

He responded: “okay, but why the big logos?”

I didn’t have an answer. I still don’t. All I can think is they were trying to copy the Warriors’ design.

That got me thinking: are the Warriors’ default (non-sleeved) uniforms the best in the NBA? They’re simple yet unique, not dull and yet not garish, and they’re also deeply rooted in tradition. That’s about as good a look as you’re going to find in sports, in my opinion. The Celtics have a great one as well, as long as they stick to green and white. Whoever decided that uniform needed black letters and numbers should think about a change of profession.

Speaking of uniforms, the return of the Hornets is excellent for two major reasons. One, teal returns to the NBA palette, which a true 90s NBA kid like me appreciates, and two, the Bobcats’ current uninspired design will be retired. While I’d probably take the current one over the old orange ones, this one just screams “cut-rate Mavericks,” and while there are certainly worse designs to rip off, I’ll always prefer some originality in a uniform.

Maybe someday I’ll rank the NBA uniforms. I do probably have enough thoughts on them all. Until then, I’ll stick to giving you the latest news from around the NBA. And I’ve got that right here:

  • CheeksDoes the East have room for one more team with locker room issues? This time it might be the Pistons. David Mayo of mlive.com has more: “Whatever happened in that locker room Saturday night, the Detroit Pistons left here with their first tangible turmoil of the season. Josh Smith didn’t play the second half of a 106-82 blowout against the Washington Wizards, the second time head coach Maurice Cheeks has made that decision this season. This time, Smith suggested Cheeks called him out for not playing hard, and that he took “real offense” to the accusation. Smith also was benched the second half of a Nov. 12 game at Golden State. “Like I told y’all before when we had this conversation, when you hit adverse times, characters are gonna be tested,” Smith said.  ”It’s either that we’re gonna come closer together and make it all one team, or are you gonna use a scapegoat to get away from what’s really at hand?” What’s really at hand is the Pistons (14-18) have lost four of five, bombed in a two-game road trip against sub-.500 teams this weekend, and now have their first hint of internal upheaval. How long it lasts remains to be seen.”
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  • Finally, here’s Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press with another take on this story: “Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith said his second-half benching Saturday night in a blowout loss at the Washington Wizards was “unfair.” Coach Maurice Cheeks said today that Smith is “entitled to his opinion.” But it appears the two men will agree to disagree and move on. “Y’all the only one who got a problem with it,” Cheeks said. “Me and Josh are fine. Josh and I are fine.” Cheeks made the unusual move of conducting a practice following games on consecutive nights and considering the Pistons are coming off two losses by an average of 20.5 points per game, Smith endorsed the move. So it was all calm at the Pistons’ practice facility the day after the lack of second-half activity from Smith on Saturday night. But his decision to bench Josh Smith for the third time this season and Smith’s subsequent reaction will test that rep.”
  • Andrew_Bynum_CavsThe Cavs dumped Andrew Bynum to protect their locker room culture, writes Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal. Here’s a snippet of Lloyd’s excellent piece on the subject: “While Byron Scott was coach of the Cavaliers, various figures within the organization didn’t think he did a good enough job of holding players accountable. When the team looked terrible in a late-season loss at Philadelphia, Scott yanked all of his starters except Kyrie Irving. That was a defining moment that infuriated the upper levels of the organization, which believed it sent the wrong message to Irving and ultimately the rest of the team. Scott was fired the day after the season ended and Brown was rehired, in large part with the belief he would do a better job of holding all players accountable to the same standard. Brown has ripped Irving on the bench during games, he has been harder on him privately than Scott was, according to team sources, and he has indeed set a standard the players are expected to meet. That brings us to Saturday’s suspension of Bynum. Something happened during practice Friday, which one source referred to as the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” but wouldn’t divulge what exactly happened because it was simply a continuation of a behavioral pattern that had been ongoing for weeks. Had it been an isolated incident, no one would’ve said or done anything.”
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  • Chris_Bosh_cropConsidering the Heat have made a big deal out of how little the regular season means to them, they’ve sure had a lot of great games this season. Last night against the Blazers was one of the best. Here’s Sam Amick of USA Today on how it all went down: “Did you see LeBron James celebrating on the Moda Center floor after the Heat downed the Portland Trailblazers 108-107 without him on Saturday night? Replay that video for a studio audience that somehow missed the 2013 NBA Finals and you’d have them convinced the Heat had just won it all. James, whose strained right groin forced him to sit out for the first time this season, was the first to greet Chris Bosh at midcourt after his rainbow three-pointer from well beyond the arc fell through with 0.5 seconds left and the Blazers couldn’t counter. He put his beige sportcoat on Bosh’s shoulders because he was the Heat’s Superman for the night, the underappreciated big man who had vetoed his own coach’s final play call in such a healthy, fascinating way that it spoke volumes about who the Heat are and who they still want to become. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had already drawn up his play, the one where Bosh would do his best Karl Malone impression down low and force overtime against this fully-healthy Blazers team that entered tied with the Pacers for the best record in the league. But Bosh was a big enough man to admit that wasn’t the way to go, that the Blazers had stopped him in similar instances earlier in the game and that swinging for the fences was the way to go. “I just told him, ‘I’m going for the jugular,’” Bosh recounted.”
  • On the subject of the Heat, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman isn’t too sure the Heat need to add Andrew Bynum: “First, let’s not get too greedy, with too much of a big-men rehabilitation project. Beyond that, it certainly would raise questions about the Heat’s commitment to Oden if they were also to bring in Bynum. While it certainly is within the realm, as speculated, that Bynum would want to play for the Heat if released (who wouldn’t?), and while the Heat are known for taken chances on reclamation projects, you have to wonder about the elements that made things sour in Cleveland. While the spirit in the Heat locker room is robust, I’m just not sure that, amid the reclamation of Michael Beasley and Oden, you want to take on another project. Of course, doubt Pat Riley and his home for wayward big men at your own risk.”
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  • CJ McCollum BRH_Card1_0001CJ McCollum, the #10 pick in this summer’s draft, is getting closer to seeing the court, writes Michael LoRe of the Lehigh Valley Express-Times: “McCollum, who missed the final 18 games of his senior season at Lehigh with a similar injury and subsequent surgery, was cleared for 5-on-5 play and participated in his first full practice on Dec. 20. “I was really excited when I was cleared to practice and get back out there with the team, go through sets with them, guard guys and get away from drills and the rehab phase of recovering from the injury,” McCollum said. “I’m definitely looking forward to actually playing in a game, but I’m taking advantage of every practice every day. They have a schedule in place for me and we’re progressing close to that date in mind. We haven’t put an exact date on it yet.” McCollum said despite being sidelined from actually playing in a game and fully practicing, he rarely sat around. “I use the term ‘sitting around’ very loosely,” he said. “I was definitely working hard, working on my body, off-the-court stuff, lifting and how a game plan unfolds before the team plays in a game.”"
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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: Rose refers to his doubters as fools, George Karl takes a jab at Anthony’s inability to win

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It’s been well documented that the New York Knicks are an awful team this season.

As it turns out, the Brooklyn Nets may be a notch worse than them after seeing the two teams duke it out on Thursday night. You know it’s bad when Andrea Bargnani is trash-talking to Kevin Garnett. Yes, that happened.

The Knicks embarrassed the Nets on their own floor by 30 points and showed that they are at least capable of playing some semblance of team basketball. The Nets? They may actually be more drunk on isolations than the Knicks, which is saying a lot.

To be fair, do the Nets have much of a choice in the matter? Tyshawn Taylor, who recently replaced Shaun Livingston as the starting point guard because Livingston was playing terribly, was replaced by Livingston in the second half of Thursday’s game because he’s that bad. Neither appear to be capable of creating anything for anyone, and there is no quick fix at the point guard position for this team until Deron Williams returns. Jason Kidd may as well suit up himself since he can at least knock down a 3-pointer or two for his currently-sorry team.

See below for plenty of news in New York and more:

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Sprung: What does Brad Stevens bring to rebuilding Celtics?

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200px-Brad_Stevens_on_Butler_sidelineBROOKLYN– Brad Stevens is new to the NBA, and the Boston Celtics have had to grow familiar with his brand of coaching over the course of training camp and the preseason.

With just about two weeks before the start of the season – and a new era for the franchise – the Celtics seem pleased with the progress the team is making under Stevens’ early stewardship.

If general manager Danny Ainge’s plan for the franchise is for the rookie coach to grow along with his young team, it seems to be working at this juncture despite Tuesday night’s 82-80 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

It’s going to take a lot of patience this season with the Celtics, with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett now members of the Nets and Rajon Rondo (who was unavailable to the media Tuesday) still injured.

Bernucca: The Top Five NBA Finals Game 7′s

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Tim DuncanYounger NBA fans have been spoiled by Game 7s.

Tonight’s showdown in Miami between the Heat and Spurs is the third Game 7 in the NBA Finals in the last nine years. Prior to that, there had been just one in the previous 16 years.

Game 7′s are like tax returns, pizza and sex; they’re never really bad. But they can be really good, and as Game 7′s go, we haven’t had a really good one in a long time.

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SH Blog: LeBron vows to be much better, Deron Williams admits hiring Kidd is risky

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LeBron JamesLeBron James is struggling in the playoffs, and that means everyone is talking about his demise.

When the King struggles – which he rarely does – it is always major news. Usually, his struggles stem from the inability of his teammates to step up and make plays. In Game 3 of the NBA Finals, however, that actually wasn’t the case. For once, LeBron didn’t have a whole lot to blame for his poor performance other than himself, and that’s exactly what he did following one of his worst games of the season, from Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

“I can’t have a performance like that and expect to win the game,” James said after enduring a 113-77 Game 3 loss, which easily became one of the most bitter and most embarrassing of his career. “I’ve got to shoot the ball better, and I’ve got to make better decisions. I’m not putting the blame on anybody; I’m owning everything I did.”

“I’ve got to be better. It’s that simple,” James said. “If I’m better, we’re better. I’m putting everything on my chest and my shoulders, and I’ve got to be better. My teammates were doing a good job. I’m not doing my part.”

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