Sixth Man Rankings: People need to start paying attention to James Johnson

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James JohnsonI spoke with James Johnson at Atlanta Hawks media day back in October when he was just another former first-round pick trying to convince another team – his fourth, to be exact – that he was good enough for another shot.

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Tweet of the Night: Jerry Ferrara

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“@: Epic EPIC comeback. Hard loss. @” that was a gut punch!!!!!!
jerry ferrara

A gut punch, indeed, if you are the New York Knicks.

Jerry Ferrara – star of hit TV show “Entourage” –  watched his Knicks come all the way back from 27 points down against the Sacramento Kings on the road, only to see it end in heartbreaking fashion.

Up by two points with 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Jason Kidd, the most reliable Knick of all, turned the ball over on an errant lob pass to Tyson Chandler.

Then, this happened:

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SH Blog: Linsanity and Dwightmare drama dominates the day

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At some point, we’d like to – and eventually will – have a headline that isn’t focused on the drama surrounding Dwight Howard or Jeremy Lin. That some point will not be today, however, as the two once again dominated the story lines. Lin’s situation, in particular, was discussed by a countless number of writers, as you will see below, along with other relevant news of the day:

  • J.R. Smith had some things to say about Jeremy Lin’s situation, from Sam Amick: ”I’m sure the city would love to have him back, but the team decided to go in a different direction,” Smith said. “It’s nothing personal, I don’t think, just business. We just hope everybody can benefit from here. ”I don’t really know how Mr. Dolan [owner James Dolan] feels at this point with what the luxury tax is now and what it used to be, but I just hope it works out the best for both of them.” Asked if Lin’s contract could cause a challenging dynamic with his teammates, Smith agreed. ”Without a doubt,” he said. “I think some guys take it personal, because they’ve been doing it longer and haven’t received any reward for it yet. I think it’s a tough subject to touch on for a lot of guys.”
  • If the Knicks lose Lin, it will be Carmelo Anthony’s fault, according to Jason McIntyre: “Carmelo Anthony has never liked Jeremy Lin. Melo, the “franchise player” who has a 17-37 career playoff record, hated it when Lin burst onto the NBA scene at the end of January and owned – owned – the league for three weeks, vaulting the Knicks from the lottery into the playoff picture. Lin’s meteoric rise mostly coincided with an Anthony injury, essentially dividing the team and the fanbase. Who can forget Anthony derisively referring to Lin as “Rudy?”
  • Lin is all about the Benjamins, if you believe in what Stephen A. Smith has to say: “Jeremy Lin has been all about the money since the day he burst onto Broadway. Lin was about the Benjamins when Linsanity made the cover of Time magazine. He definitely was overcome by dollar signs when he wouldn’t play at “85 percent” for the New York Knicks in the playoffs, and it was all about the bottom line once free agency arrived. So now that Lin has confirmed the obvious, signing an offer sheet from the Houston Rockets that would dole out a balloon payment of $14.8 million in the third year of a reported deal worth approximately $25 million, it’s time for the Knicks to mirror Lin’s behavior.”
  • The Knicks must keep Lin in New York, according to Kelly Dwyer: “Lin, with his ability to dominate the ball and pass creatively, could be. Lin, with his best years ahead of him, could be. The Knicks, who have dug their own grave with years of payroll abuse, have to make Jeremy Lin a part of their team. They can afford him (or, at worst, they can’t afford to try not to), they can work around the terms of that final year with smartly placed transactions, and he’s working from a position that New York badly needs help at. This isn’t a knee jerk response to — after years of tossing money at limited players — New York’s sudden fiscal sensibility. Sudden rumored fiscal sensibility.”
  • The only real reason the Knicks let Lin walk is if they have a bigger plan in mind, such as Chris Paul, from Henry Abbott: “There are reasons not to pay Lin a ton of money, mostly to do with the fact that it’s hard to know what you’re going to get. But less fuzzy is what the Knicks actually got, which was stellar play that resulted in the Knicks outplaying opponents. Let’s not be confused about that. As long as that’s so, the only really powerful reason I can see for the Knicks to let Lin walk is if they have other, better plans for those dollars and cap space down the road — perhaps, as has long been whispered, Chris Paul.”
  • If you believe Raymond Felton is a better option than Lin, do read up on Ryan Feldman’s work. Here is one of many reasons why Lin is better: “Isolation plays are where Lin excels. He scored the third most points per play of the 91 players with at least 75 isolation plays last season, trailing only Chris Paul and James Harden. Felton ranked 68th. Felton turned the ball over on isolation plays more than twice as often as Lin, who committed just six turnovers on his 93 isolation plays. And only Andrea Bargnani, Chris Bosh and Harden got to the free throw line more often than Lin on isolation plays.”
  • At the end of the day, the only concrete news we have about Lin is the unlikeliness of his return to New York, from Marc J. Spears and Jared Zwerling:
Knicks-Blazers trade announced. Still "highly doubtful" for NYK for match Jeremy Lin offer sheet due to luxury tax concerns, source tells Y!
Marc J. Spears
Sorry to say but it's looking more & more likely the #Knicks will not match #JeremyLin. Hearing offer "too high/tax" & "what has he proved?"
Jared Zwerling
  • In other Knicks news, Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas were officially acquired by trade, from Al Iannazzone: “Felton and another former Knick, Kurt Thomas, return to New York in a sign-and-trade that sends Jared Jeffries, Dan Gadzuric, the draft rights to Kostas Papanikolaou and Giorgos Printezis and a protected future second-round draft pick. Felton signed a guaranteed three-year deal that could be worth as much as about $18 million over four years.”
  • Dwight Howard may be willing to sit out next season, presumably if not traded, according to Jordan Schultz:
A source close to Dwight Howard tells me that Dwight is fully prepared to sit out the entire 2012-13 season in Orlando.
Jordan Schultz
  • Howard pulled an Amare Stoudemire and apparently direct messaged a fan on twitter about how he really feels about the Magic, from @MadameNBA: “It’s funny how yall believe everything yall hear or read. My only concern is getting healthy. U really believe. That in a second I went from a good guy to an asshole. Cmon. Asshole is not even in me. Thank about y the magic doing all this crap. They have done it to every superstar they have ever had. They tryna save face. But I have forgiven all of the people who have worked for the magic. I would never do that. But what they not telling people is that. I’m not fully recovered yet. I can’t even run yet. Just remember that these magic people ain’t came but one time to check on me. No calls no nothing. They haven’t even talked to the Dr who did my surgery. The don’t and never cared about me. Just money. Don’t believe everything you hear.”
  • Chauncey Billups believes he will be ready for the start of next season and then some, from Arash Markazi: “I plan on playing all 82 games this year,” Billups. “I’m on pace to be back sometime in October so that’s what I’m shooting for. I do plan on being ready to go.” Billups walked on to the Clippers’ court Monday afternoon to address the media for the first time since re-signing with the team last week. He walked without a limp or the boot he wore at the end of last season and said he had already begun some basketball activity. ”I’m grinding. I’m working really hard. There was a report that I wouldn’t be back until January but I’ll be back far before that,” Billups said. “I just started to get on the court a little bit and shoot the ball and move. I can’t run full speed yet but I can move from side to side and I’m getting my shot up and getting my rhythm.”
  • Michael Jordan compared Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to Scottie Pippen, from Ron Green Jr: “I think (Kidd-Gilchrist is) going to be fine,” Jordan said, speaking before the Hooptee Celebrity Golf Classic at the Golf Club at Ballantyne Thursday. “I think the kid has the potential to be, as I call him, a connector. He can connect a lot of dots, a Scottie Pippen-like player. “Everybody’s complaining about his shooting. He never illustrated to me that he’s afraid to shoot the basketball. He can still shoot the ball. He believes he can make shots. I think the kid is going to be OK.
  • James Johnson has been traded to the Sacramento Kings: “The Sacramento Kings today acquired James Johnson from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for a second round pick in 2014, according to Kings’ President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie. “We’re excited to add a talent like James to our young nucleus of players,” said Petrie. “He’s an outstanding defender with athleticism who can play at both positions up front while providing some versatility offensively and adding a dimension to what we can do on the floor.”
  • The Kings also acquired Aaron Brooks, while waiving Hassan Whiteside: “The Sacramento Kings have signed point guard Aaron Brooks. The Kings also waived center Hassan Whiteside on Monday to clear space for Brooks. Phoenix withdrew its qualifying offer to Brooks on July 7, making him an unrestricted free agent. Brooks was acquired from Houston at the 2011 trade deadline and appeared in 25 games with the Suns, averaging 9.6 points and 4.2 assists in 18.9 minutes. He played in China last season. Terms of the deal were not announced.”
  • Josh Childress knew he could be amnestied, and found out that’s exactly what happened through twitter, from Craig Grialou: ”I had been told by the team that if they were going to go after some big free agents then it might happen. And it did happen.” What he didn’t know was when it was going to happen. ”I found out on Twitter,” he said of the Suns’ decision Sunday to designate him as their amnesty player, as allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. ”I left my phone in the car. I went back and saw that (Suns president of basketball operations) Lon Babby had called me and then my agent had called me.”
A source tells me Antawn Jamison will be a Laker.
Rick Bonnell
  • Tyson Chandler has already heard enough about the Nets, from Roderick Boone: “The Knicks center believes it’s time for their crosstown foes to pipe down. ”Ive heard a little bit, but I think its foolish,” Chandler said before today’s Team USA’s practice at George Washington University. “The Nets are just coming together. I think its pointless for them to talk to us about anything. First, they need to establish themselves.” Chandler said all the hot air emanating from Brooklyn is premature — and unproven. ”Its just a lot of talk for nothing,” he said. “Its almost the same thing as us talking mess to the Dream Team. It cant happen right now, so I’ll let all my talking speak for itself the first time we play the Nets.”
  • See how Chris Webber mentioned Ron Jeremy instead of Ron Burgundy, from Dime Magazine: “Joking about sending Greenberg to a panda birth like in Anchorman, he accidentally said Ron Jeremy, the real-life adult actor, instead of Ron Burgundy, the fictional news anchor. The best part is after a few awkward seconds when he acknowledges and tries to correct the mistake, the rest of the broadcast team buries him. It’s like the floodgates open on C-Webb jokes. Perfect timing award goes to his unidentified broadcast teammate, who chimes in: “I wasn’t jumping on that ball.” Webber signs off with: “I’ll just be over here quiet for the next 5:28.”

Howard situation continues to drag

Carmelo Anthony calls Jeremy Lin’s contract ridiculous

Fantasy Spin: Tuesday April 24

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This time of year is so strange for fantasy owners. We’re trying hard to win our Head-to-Head playoffs or Roto leagues, but have no idea who might — or might not — actually play. Raymond Felton, assumed to be shut down for the season, started for the Blazers (13 PTS, 7 AST) but Nolan Smith (10 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST) still got 34 minutes. As usual, the Spurs used 13 guys and limited everyone’s court time, yet still romped. Tim Duncan, in a team-high 26 minutes, had a nifty 18 points, 8 boards and 4 blocks.

DET @ IND: That didn’t look much like the Pacers. Three starters didn’t play at all: George Hill (shoulder) and Roy Hibbert (rest) will be back tomorrow and Danny Granger (knee) might miss one more game. Former starter Darren Collison got 31 minutes to make an impression but shot 1-for-8 and made six turnovers. Paul George (27 PTS, 10 REB, 4 AST, 3 STL) led Indiana to a win anyway. The Pistons made a game of it behind Greg Monroe (18 PTS, 12 REB) and Brandon Knight (16).

CHA @ WAS: A very easy win for the Wizards, with John Wall (16 PTS, 14 AST) at the controls and a great night by rookie forward Jan Vesely: 16 points on 8-8 shooting, plus 6 rebounds and 4 steals. Nene added 18 off the bench. The Bobcats, an embarrassment from their owner on down, deserve the worst record in NBA history and are showing absolutely no signs of ending a 21-game losing streak.

PHI @ NJN: The Nets’ final game in New Jersey wasn’t very exciting. Kris Humphries (16 PTS, 12 REB) and MarShon Brooks (18 PTS) made an effort but the 76ers, needing a win to clinch a playoff berth, rolled to victory, shooting 54% as a team. The Philly bench outscored the starters 56-49, but Andre Iguodala (14 PTS, 9 AST, 7 REB) had the juiciest fantasy line.

TOR @ MIL: The Bucks won the game but there was no celebration, as they failed to make the playoffs. Ersan Ilyasova (19 PTS, 15 REB) and Brandon Jennings (25) led the way; Monta Ellis added 17 PTS, 5 AST and 6 REB before leaving with a sore hand. Toronto made a game of it thanks to James Johnson (22 PTS, 13 REB) but DeMar DeRozan had just four points before being ejected for arguing a travelling call.

CLE @ MEM: You have to admire Kyrie Irving (25 PTS) for not giving up, but the rest of the Cavaliers are no match for Memphis. All five Grizzlies starters and sixth man O.J. Mayo scored in double figures; recent FA pickup Lester Hudson added nine points against his former mates.

Tonight, Tonight

LAC @ ATL: There will be no lack of effort by the Clippers, who can guarantee home-court advantage in the first round with one more win. Likewise, the Hawks will open the playoffs at home if they can stay ahead of Boston. I’m assuming neither team will be resting people, but in this wacky final week, you can never be sure. The Josh Smith matchup with Blake Griffin should be fun to watch.

MIA @ BOS: This one will not be a playoff preview, as getting everyone as healthy and rested as possible seems the priority for both teams. Dwyane Wade (finger) and Chris Bosh (fatigue) are doubtful for Miami, so LeBron James will carry a big scoring load. With Ray Allen (ankle) out and Rajon Rondo (back) questionable for Boston, I like Avery Bradley to have another big game.

SAC @ OKC: James Harden (possible concussion) won’t play after getting mugged on Sunday and you have to wonder if (when?) Russell Westbrook and/or Kevin Durant will get a night off. For some reason, there has been no word yet from the NBA on whether DeMarcus Cousins will serve a one-game suspension tonight, or have his 13th technical foul rescinded on appeal. Be sure to check for an update later today before using him.

NOH @ GSW: Teams can show pride in a lot of ways, and if the Hornets want to stay out of last place in the West, they need to win this game. Eric Gordon is a great play, while Grievis Vasquez and Jason Smith are worth using. The Warriors have been relying on rookies Charles Jenkins and Klay Thompson while they dream of next year being better.

PHO @ UTA: By far the best game of this less-than-spectacular evening, as both teams are still alive for a playoff spot but neither has clinched. With the Suns in a must-win situation, Steve Nash will be fired up. Channing Frye (shoulder) is questionable but Grant Hill (knee) might return; Marcin Gortat must play well against Al Jefferson up front. Utah has been starting DeMarre Carroll at SF, but using Derrick Favors more and more off the bench. How Devin Harris handles Nash might be the key.

Follow @SheridanFantasy on Twitter for updates.

DraftStreet Blues

Sure Things Over $14,000
L. James $21,838
K. Durant $20,222
C. Paul $19,954
A. Jefferson $18,359
Bargains Under $9,000
R. Foye $8,118
U. Haslem $7,864
N. Cole $5,990
D. Carroll $4,946
Hunches $9,000 to $14,000
E. Gordon $13,498
D. Favors $11,627
G. Hayward $12,650
A. Bradley $10,807

Over the last two months, playing this game every day, I’ve learned quite a few things the hard way. Week 8 began last night with a $26 loss that I should really call a donation. My seven teams all played shorthanded, because I’d used guys who were later scratched (like Roy Hibbert) and was too busy with real life to adjust my lineups.

Tonight, I’ll be here in the home office right up until 7:00 and able to make changes if necessary. I’m in the usual $2 Salary Cap league (220 teams, $400 guaranteed prize pool) and the $5 version (110 entries, $500 GPP) with three teams each, a $21 investment.

There are several options to own superstars tonight, despite only five games on the NBA schedule. Others I could have called Sure Things include Blake Griffin ($17,574) and Josh Smith ($16,903) but you can usually afford no more than two of those expensive players with a $100,000 cap and eight roster spots.

Click here to get started on Draft Street. It’s always free to register and no deposit is required — you can play in leagues with no entry fees.