Pity the poor Bobcats, losers of 18 straight. They had a 21-point lead and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (22 PTS, 9 REB) was outplaying his Kentucky teammate Anthony Davis (8 PTS, 10 REB, 3 BLK). Then Eric Gordon took over.
My apologies for not posting this for its usual Thursday run. High school basketball season has started, and as a JV coach, it is a busy time.
Reader Brian Rivel is making a name for himself. For the second straight week, he provided the first correct answer to the most recent addition of The Bernucca List.
News has been floating around on Thursday about the possibility of the Lakers looking to acquire the talents of LeBron James when the best basketball player on the planet becomes eligible to hit the market again in 2014. As ridiculous as that sounds right now, it apparently is in the realm of possibility if James chose to test free agency again. Having won a championship with the Heat in just two seasons, though, the chances of him leaving Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh appears to be unlikely. Still, anything can happen in the span of two seasons, and it’s interesting to know that such plans are already taking shape behind closed doors for the Lakers.
See why going after James makes sense for the Lakers, how Kevin Love broke his hand and much more from Thursday below:
- Are the Lakers aiming to acquire LeBron James in 2014 when he can become a free agent? That’s what many executives appear to believe, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN: “In the wake of the Howard trade, much as been made of the massive luxury-tax bill the Lakers are facing next season if they’re able to re-sign the big man. ESPN.com salary cap expert Larry Coon has estimated the Lakers could be on the hook for as much as $85 million just in taxes in 2013-14. But look a little further, to that 2014-15 season, and you’ll see something else: The Lakers’ projected payroll is almost completely clear. Only Nash is signed for that season, at $9.7 million, though the Lakers will also be paying about $20 million to Howard if they can re-sign him this coming summer… Opposing teams that are making their own long-range free agency plans think they see the Lakers’ plan coming into focus. As it stands, L.A. will have enough cap space to add a superstar like James. ”It’s not a mistake that all those deals end the same year Kobe’s does. They have probably been planning for their next phase for a while,” said one general manager. “The Busses and [Lakers GM] Mitch [Kupchak] are always thinking about the next big deal.”
- Erik Spoelstra hopes LeBron James can win a Defensive Player of the Year award, according to Tom Haberstroh of ESPN:
- Learn about the impact of mission court grip from OptoSource here. Brandon Jennings explained his personal experience with court grip here: “After 3 months of testing over 24 subjects, the OptoSource™ study showed an average of 24% increase in quickness when going in and out of cuts for players at all levels when using Court Grip™ – and in some cases higher. It also showed quantifiable improvements in balance and stability on change of direction movements on players who used the traction enhancing technology. Side-by-side analysis of Brandon Jennings’s signature move, the step back jump shot, with and without Court Grip™, also revealed a significant decrease in average court contact time when using the product. “I used Court Grip all of last year, and I could feel the difference in my game, but actually seeing the data from the study, the visible improvements that Court Grip made to my form, stability and performance was really amazing,” said Milwaukee Bucks star, Brandon Jennings.”
A loyal reader from Singapore asked about Harrison Barnes yesterday. Almost simultaneously, Bruce Wrigley’s weekly column examined the battle between Barnes and Brandon Rush for minutes at SF. Then the rookie started last night and scored 20 points on 8-11 shooting. Is he suddenly a hot fantasy commodity? Not exactly.
The Warriors were playing at home against Maccabi Haifa, which is hardly the best team in Israel, which is not the strongest foreign league. They do have a wealthy owner from Florida who is trying to build an international brand, but they should not be confused with Real Madrid and some of the other top European clubs. Donta Smith, who had a cup of coffee in the NBA six years ago, was their star last night with 28 points.
Barnes and Rush (who played 31 minutes off the bench) may alternate starts all month as coach Mark Jackson experiments. Let’s see how the North Carolina star looks against better opposition before comparing his fantasy value to Anthony Davis or Damian Lillard. Other Warriors looked fantastic last night; Festus Ezeli (15 PTS on 7-8 shooting, 8 REB, 2 BLK) is insurance for Andrew Bogut owners. David Lee got the night off, so Carl Landry (24 PTS, 8 REB) started. Stephen Curry survived 23 minutes without an injury, scored 13 points and dished out 10 assists.
Apologies for not previewing this game yesterday. NBA.com is so aggressively promoting two exhibition games to Canadians that nobody in this entire country can navigate to the Scores & Schedule page without being re-directed to an infuriating ad. They have ignored my complaints for two days, but the form letters are reassuring. Yahoo doesn’t bother to list the international exhibitions on its scoreboard, so I simply missed it.
Other Thursday Games
MIA @ LAC: Live morning basketball was a great way to wake up. I was shocked to see Dwyane Wade play 23 minutes; he was clearly not himself, shooting just 2-9 for 5 points. LeBron James (20) and Blake Griffin (19) put on a show for the Chinese crowd but the Clippers are no match without Chris Paul. In his place, Eric Bledsoe played 41 minutes and scored just four points. Willie Green starting at SG is another short-term solution; Jamal Crawford will get huge bench minutes until Chauncey Billups is ready to return from his Achilles injury.
NYY @ WAS: There seems to be a trend away from Amar’e Stoudemire in fantasy drafts, and he sat with a bruised knee last night. With Kurt Thomas at PF, and Mychel Thompson starting at SG, the Knicks sprinted to a 38-21 lead in the first quarter. J.R. Smith, in 28 bench minutes, poured in 20 points and Steve Novak couldn’t miss from deep — 21 points on 7-7 shooting. Pablo Prigioni, the league’s oldest rookie, had 14 PTS and 4 AST but is the third-string PG when everyone is healthy.
The Wizards went very small; Nene is struggling with a chronic foot problem, Emeka Okafor was ill and Trevor Booker has a hamstring strain. That left Kevin Seraphin as the only healthy big man and Brian Cook got 15 minutes as his backup. Point guard is also a mess until John Wall recovers from a stress fracture. A.J. Price started and Jannero Pargo got most of the bench minutes, while Shelvin Mack was an afterthought. As a deep league sleeper, keep an eye on Martell Webster, who had 12 PTS and 10 REB in 27 minutes.
PHI @ ORL: It was the Jrue Holiday show, with 27 points in 20 minutes. Kwame Brown started at C, but Lavoy Allen played 33 minutes off the bench. Spencer Hawes will look better at PF when Andrew Bynum is beside him. At SG, Jason Richardson will probably start, but Nick Young (22 PTS) will be better to own. Evan Turner (2-12 from the floor) did not have a great night but is being counted on for a breakout season.
The Magic started Nikola Vucevic at C (12 PTS, 10 REB, 1 BLK) and brought Gustavo Ayon off the bench. That could be an even split during the season, as the sophomore is likely to be inconsistent. PF Glen Davis (16 & 12) is reliable, and based on last night’s 14-point effort, rookie Andrew Nicholson will be his backup — at least until Al Harrington is up to speed. We’re calling E’Twaun Moore the backup PG, despite a miserable 2-13 night.
NOH @ CHA: With 2 ½ weeks until games that count, should we be worried about Greivis Vasquez? No. The starting PG came off the bench last night, played just 15 minutes and contributed little. Whether he’s nursing an unpublicized injury or just unhurried, you can ignore the line. Brian Roberts was by far the best Hornet — 16 PTS, 8 AST and +21 — in a spot start and may have cemented the backup role. #1 pick Anthony Davis (12 PTS, 9 REB) was solid, but Austin Rivers missed seven of eight shots and scored just 4 PTS in 34 minutes. Ryan Anderson continues to come off the bench, which will not help his counting stats compared to last season.
For Charlotte, the flip-flop of Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions as starting PG continued, and Ben Gordon got the call over Gerald Henderson at SG. It seems like the tinkering of a new coach to me. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was mediocre in just 16 minutes. I wasn’t sure Byron Mullens (leg) would play but he drained another three triples and chipped in 3 STL. He’s the only Bobcat I might consider drafting, as a late-round sleeper.
DET @ TOR: The Highway 401 rivalry resumes in Toronto. The game in Detroit on Wednesday was fast-paced and we can expect more of the same, possibly with a different cast of Pistons. Lawrence Frank is picking a shorter rotation for each game than many other coaches. There will be some “unexpected” DNP-CDs among players who saw big minutes the other night, while others like Kim English, Khris Middleton and Austin Daye may see their first action. I’m now leaning to Jason Maxiell as the starting PF more than Jonas Jerebko, with Charlie Villanueva still lurking.
Toronto fans will be thrilled to see Jonas Valanciunas on the court. Slowed by a calf strain, he played just 13 minutes on Wednesday and will again be on a short leash. Watch for Andrea Bargnani to get more open looks this year because JV will attract attention inside. John Lucas has been superb so far, but when Kyle Lowry (adductor) is healthy and unless/until Jose Calderon is traded, Lucas will be the third-string PG.
MIN @ IND: All eyes should be on Brandon Roy, whose comeback attempt is going great so far. I’m not advocating that you count on him as your #1 fantasy SG-SF, but in certain formats (shallow league, lots of bench spots) he’s worth a mid-round flyer. J.J. Barea is temporarily the PG, as Luke Ridnour had a sore back and of course, Ricky Rubio is unlikely to return before Christmas. Alexey Shved had an 0-fer in his debut but will improve.
Danny Granger and David West didn’t play the last game (Gerald Green and Tyler Hansbrough started) and D.J. Augustin ran the point, as George Hill was rested. Indiana is a playoff team, with few position battles — exactly the type of club that should take its time preparing for the regular season.
CLE @ CHI: It’s all about integrating new parts for the Cavs. C.J. Miles looks like the starting SG; rookie Dion Waiters was out of shape in the summer league, then benched for a lack of effort on Tuesday after 1-7 “shooting” and 4 TO in 14 minutes. Tristan Thompson was forced to take over from C Anderson Varejao last year when the latter got hurt, now they are learning to play together with the sophomore back at PF. Vaulting from nowhere into fantasy consideration, Jon Leuer could be a key reserve.
Chicago is a veteran team, waiting for its superstar leader Derrick Rose to return. Kirk Hinrich is the PG starter, with Nate Robinson trying to hold off rookie Marquis Teague for backup minutes. The Bulls are in “stay-healthy mode” for the whole preseason.
NOH @ HOU: What an insane schedule for New Orleans. Back-to-back road games serve no developmental purpose and tonight will be their third game in four nights. Their fatigue should make the Rockets look better than they are. I love Houston as a source of undervalued fantasy players. Kevin Martin could have a huge bounce-back year, and nobody seems to be giving Omer Asik or Patrick Patterson enough respect. Then there are the rookies. Good ones, with a chance to play right away. Terrence Jones, Jeremy Lamb and Donatas Motiejunas are all on my draft list. Royce White’s struggles with crippling anxiety are the only reason he might not be the best of the bunch.
DEN @ SAS: This should be fun. The high-flying, sprinting Nuggets haven’t played in six days and will be a more cohesive unit after all those practices. The Spurs roll out wave after wave of talented, disciplined players. However, neither team cares about the result. Jeff Nichols and I have been touting the entire Denver team for the last month; about the only uncertainty is whether Kosta Koufos or Timofey Mozgov will be the nominal starting center. Coach Karl likes a big, strong sidekick for undersized (but amazingly energetic) PF Kenneth Faried, then will bring in JaVale McGee, who has good chemistry with Andre Miller. JVMG remains the best Denver C to own.
For the Spurs, your guess at a lineup is as good as mine, possibly much better. Because they sat out the most recent game, expect the Big Old Three of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker to see more action tonight.
OKC @ UTA: There’s no hurry for the Thunder. They are one of the league’s best teams and they know it. Perry Jones III is becoming more interesting by the day; the rookie can play multiple positions and is gaining valuable experience while starters take it easy. That doesn’t mean he’s a great fantasy draft pick, because OKC uses a short rotation when the games count.
The Jazz have two new guys in the starting five; both are M. Williams in the box score. Mo is the PG, Marvin the SF and they could be overlooked in your draft. I really wish they would trade Paul Millsap. That would make Derrick Favors a superb fantasy pick, and Enes Kanter an even better sleeper. For now, they are overloaded up front.
POR @ PHO: The Blazers are another fantasy gold mine. Damian Lillard should be the second rookie off the board (yes, before MKG) and LaMarcus Aldridge is fully recovered from hip surgery. J.J. Hickson has never played better than he did last April: 14.8 PTS and 9.2 REB per game. Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum are excellent picks, especially after the top SF are gone. Meyers Leonard is a rookie who should be in the rotation all year.
Phoenix has replaced 60% of its starters since last season. Goran Dragic takes over from the departed Steve Nash, veteran Luis Scola seems like just the right PF to pair with C Marcin Gortat and the often-disappointing Michael Beasley gets a needed change of scenery and the starting SF job. Yet another newcomer is Wesley Johnson, who was also inconsistent and frustrating in Minnesota. Remember to exclude Channing Frye from your draft list; he’s out with a heart problem that could cost him the entire season. Markieff Morris and Jermaine O’Neal figure to share Frye’s minutes.
$1,000 Fantasy Hoops Contest
It’s still 19 days away, but we have a Halloween treat for you. Join the one-day fantasy tournament for Sheridan Hoops readers at our partner site FanDuel. There’s a $2 entry fee, with 61 cash prizes totalling $1,000. First place wins $200, second $125, third $100 and so on. Pick nine players within a $60,000 salary cap and the team that compiles the most fantasy points — on October 31st only — wins.
For more details, including stat categories, how to play, and my team’s lineup, see the Oct. 9 Spin. Or, give FanDuel a try absolutely free; no credit card or deposit is required. They offer NFL leagues until the NBA begins, including free ones. Click their logo at the top of this page or in the sidebar to get started.
The Spin is here every morning by 9:00; there will be two fantasy articles tomorrow. On Saturday afternoon, Jeff Nichols’ series on strategy continues. During the season, he’ll preview the fantasy week ahead in that time slot. Follow us on Twitter — @SheridanFantasy — all season.
The Dwightmare saga suddenly and finally came to a close on Friday, as a reported four-team trade from Thursday came to a conclusion that sent center Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.
So who won and lost big in the trade? Chris Sheridan has the analysis here. The Lakers, without a doubt, become an epic team, and Mark Heisler explains how Howard is the newest version of Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. With such an unbelievable team assembled, can the Lakers win 73 or more games in the upcoming season? Take our poll here.
That’s not all that happened today, as Team USA easily defeated Argentina in the semifinals to fight for the gold medal against Spain. Check out Nick Gibson’s five factors that could cause USA to lose the gold to Spain.
And of course, check out all the news from around the league below:
- Here are all the details of the blockbuster four-team trade, from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports: “The Lakers will send All-Star center Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers, who also will receive shooting guard Jason Richardson from the Magic. The Sixers will send guard Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets. The Magic will receive Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, rookie swingman Moe Harkless, forward Josh McRoberts, forward Christian Eyenga, a first-round pick from either the Nuggets or the New York Knicks in 2014, a protected first-round pick from the Sixers, a protected first-round pick from the Lakers in 2017, a second-round pick from the Nuggets in 2013 and a conditional second-rounder from the Lakers in 2015. In addition to Howard, the Lakers will also receive Earl Clark and Chris Duhon from the Magic.”
Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer wonders why the Magic got so little in return for Howard: “The Magic was never going to get fair value for Howard because that’s what happens when a superstar can leverage you, knowing he can eventually leave outright in free-agency. But after months of “Dwightmare’’ in Orlando, this looks like fairly little compared to – for instance – what Denver got back for Carmelo Anthony or what the Utah Jazz got back for Deron Williams. I get nuance. I’ve covered the NBA long enough to appreciate the value of future draft picks, cap relief and, yes, closure. I appreciate that the Magic is starting over and needs fluid assets. I just don’t get how something that dragged on this long would result in quite so little return.
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie explains how Team USA will roll to the gold on a barrage of three-pointers, but won’t die by them either: “Team USA won’t live and die in the Olympic Men’s Basketball tournament by the three-pointer, because they probably won’t die. The gold medal game on Sunday against Spain will not be a cakewalk, Spain is a deserving medal round contender, but all indications are that Team USA is going to roll to the gold on a wave of three-point bombs. Living all the way to the top of that medal stand, only dying for a quarter or two at a time before the shots start falling. It’s what the defense is giving them, those bombs, and also what Team USA is finding consistently as it leaks out in transition after securing defensive rebounds. The squad downed Argentina in a surprisingly one-sided affair on Friday, raining threes in a 62-43 second half run after Team USA went into halftime with a seven point lead.”
- Manu Ginobili didn’t have a whole lot of faith in his team’s chance of beating Team USA, as you can see from this quote from Patrick Graham of NBC Sports: ”The odds are against us. We have a 10 percent or even a five percent chance of winning but we are going to fight for this,” San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said after driving his team past Brazil and into the semi-finals.”
- Coach K made a joke after the semifinals win about his job as the Olympics coach, but was misinterpreted by a foreign reporter, according to Scott Fowler of Charlotte Observer: “ In the U.S. press conference a TV reporter from America asked given this team of superstars: “How much coaching is really involved?” You could tell Coach K was irritated a little by the question, but he defused it with humor. “None,” he said. “You got it. Absolutely none. I’m out every night with my family, drunk as a skunk. Wait until you see me tonight. I’ll get in at 6 a.m., and you all are invited to come out with me. We just roll out the damn ball and that’s it. You got it. I don’t know how you figured that out.” Most of the room laughed. Then, five minutes later, a foreign reporter started a question to Kevin Durant like this: “Kevin, Coach K says he has been going out drinking a lot. What have you….” Krzyzewski interrupted him then, telling the reporter he had been joking. “Oh, sorry,” the reporter said. “I didn’t catch the irony.”
- The Cavaliers signed signed C.J. Miles to a deal, and Byron Scott will consider starting him, according to Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: The Cavs signed the 6-foot-6, 222-pound Miles to a two-year, $4 million contract on Wednesday. The second year of the deal is not guaranteed, a source confirmed. Cavs coach Byron Scott said Miles will compete for a starting job. ”If you look at our team, Kyrie (Irving) and Andy (Varejao) are the only starters,” he said. “Tristan (Thompson), C.J. and Dion (Waiters) will have to earn it.” Scott was pleased with the addition of Miles. ”He’s a guy I really like,” he said. “I like the way he plays. I always thought he was a guy who could do more. I envisioned him playing multiple positions, the ‘2′ and the ‘3.’ I’m very excited about that pickup.”
- Speaking of the Cavaliers, here is Kyrie Irving singing a duet from Grease with Erica Lauren. It’s not the most musically gifted duet in the world, but it’s still entertaining nonetheless.
- LeBron James has the attention and respect of USA teammate Tyson Chandler, who called James’ level of confidence scary, from Frank Isola of New York Daily News: ”He’s a helluva basketball player,” Chandler said. “I knew that before but watching him every day in practice you have a greater appreciation for him. But then you also see the type of leader he is. He has the type of personality where he makes everyone around him feel comfortable.”He’s an incredible teammate. I didn’t know that about him. I said it after he won, he’s going to be a completely different player. Winning a championship gives you a different confidence. You feel you can accomplish anything on the basketball floor. And him with that kinda confidence is scary.”
- John Schuhmann of Hang Time Blog explains why Andrew Bynum will make his mark on the offensive end for the 76ers: “Instead, Bynum’s presence will mean more offensively. For the first time since Allen Iverson left in 2006, the Sixers have a guy who can draw double-teams, a requisite for a successful offense. And for the first time since Charles Barkley left in 1992, they have someone to give the ball to on the low block. That will open lanes for guards Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, while Richardson and Dorell Wright will give the Sixers more perimeter shooting than they had last season. But how coachDoug Collins manages his frontcourt rotation should be interesting, and the signing of Kwame Brown (or the re-signing of Spencer Hawes — take your pick) now seems like a waste of $6 million (or $13 million).”
- Arron Afflalo is happy to land with the Orlando Magic, according to his interview with Jorge Sierra of Hoops Hype: “How did you find out about the trade to Orlando? Arron Afflalo: Actually I was in Barcelona and found out on the Internet pretty much [laughs]. Have the Magic reached out to you? AA: No, not yet. Probably because of the time difference and the phone situation, it’s been difficult. I’ll be back in the States soon. So are you happy about it? AA: Yeah, I’m happy. I just wanted to thank the Denver organization, the teammates that you play with, the fans, but I think it’s a great opportunity there in Orlando from a player standpoint. With the coaching change and the management change, I think it’s a great time to be a part of the organization.”
- Jodie Meeks will join the Lakers to have a chance at a championship, according to Mark Medina of Los Angeles Times:
- Royce Young of Daily Thunder explains why the Oklahoma City Thunder still match up very well against the Los Angeles Lakers, and Kendrick Perkins will be a big reason: “They were good then, got better with the addition of Steve Nash and now are downright scary with Dwight Howard. The Lakers are for real, for real. However: The Thunder are still very, very good. And they still match up well with the Lakers. Kendrick Perkins should send Mitch Kupchak a fruit basket or an iTunes gift card for keeping him relevant for the next few years. There was all that chatter about amnestying him, especially with the league’s apparent shift to smallball and speed. That day might come at some point still, but not anytime in the near future. Perk has always been something of a Dwight Stopper, a guy that frustrates Howard and won’t let him physically dominate a game. Howard isn’t as much a threat on the block as Andrew Bynum is, but Perk’s job and role remain unchanged: Stop the Laker big man.”
- Brian Schmitz of Orlando Sentinel believes many are looking at Orlando’s situation the wrong way. Here is his explanation: ”This is what rebuilding looks like. It’s open to criticism, it’s unpopular, it’s messy, and it’s depressing. That said, I have few, if any, problems, with what the Magic did in trading Dwight Howard to the Lakers. Ninety-nine percent of the Magic’s critics have amnesia and are looking at this blockbuster Dwight deal the wrong way. And that includes fans, veteran NBA writers and ESPN talking heads. I did for a while, too, quite frankly, because I liked Andrew Bynum-for-Dwight. Look, the Magic lost this game long ago, back in December, when Dwight asked to be traded to only the teams on his list. Everyone knew they weren’t going to get fair value for Howard, lucky to get anything close.”
- Jermaine O’Neal has made a commitment to sign with the Phoenix Suns, according to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: “In the shadow cast by Superman’s arrival in Los Angeles, the timing of Jermaine O’Neal’s choice to commit to the Suns on Friday was unfortunate as an unrelated move. Given the caliber of remaining NBA free-agent centers, O’Neal’s commitment to sign a one-year, $1.35 million contract with Phoenix could be fortuitous if — and it’s a huge if — O’Neal can be healthier than he has been for the later half of his 16-year career. The Suns had only a backup center role and a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract to offer with a franchise that is in transition. The Suns came away with a six-time All-Star who is still only 33 years old because he entered the NBA out of high school.”
- Ric Bucher of ESPN took a shot at Wojnarowski’s report about the four-team trade without naming him, only to watch ESPN report that the deal was close later on, according to Jason McIntyre of Big Lead Sports: “A few hours after Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Dwight Howard could be headed to the Lakers in a blockbuster 4-team deal, ESPN’s Ric Bucher went on ESPN radio in LA and was asked about the potential trade. Bucher proceeded to take a massive dump on Wojnarowski’s report. We provided a transcript below; you canlisten to the audio here (37 minute mark). Bucher takes a few jabs early – without naming Wojnarowski – and then opens fire with a shocking sermon on journalism. The beauty in all of this – late Thursday, Chris Broussard went on Sportscenter and thenStephen A. Smith tweeted the same thing: the deal was very close to happening, and could be finalized tomorrow.”
- Russell Westbrook suffered a mild sprained ankle in the game against Argentina, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com:
- Check out the Lakers salaries with the addition of Howard, from HoopsHype.
- James Harden hits an awesome “trick-ish” shot after being convinced by comedian Todd Womack and company to do so.
- Tennis superstar Serena Williams enjoyed a healthy meal at McDonalds with Team USA, as you can see in this picture posted on her twitter account.
- Conan O’Brien’s Team Coco dominates Team USA of kids in 2032.