NBA Prediction Friday Night Preview/Pick- Memphis vs. Golden State

NBA Free Pick & Prediciton Grizzlies vs. Warriors

Memphis Grizzlies (43-28, 20-14 away) @ Golden State Warriors (44-27, 23-12 home) 02/28- 10:30PM EST

 

Line: GSW -2.0

Over/Under- 188.0

 

With the NBA season winding down and teams in the Western Conference still battling for positioning, the Memphis Grizzlies will try to move even with the Golden State Warriors when both teams take the floor in Oakland on Friday night.

 

The playoff seedings are still up for grabs and with not many games separating the fifth and ninth place teams in the tough Western Conference… both the Grizzlies and Warriors understand what is needed the rest of the way so they are not sitting at home come playoff time.

 

With a win over the Warriors, the surging Memphis Grizzlies (43-28) will have a chance to draw even with six-place Golden State… although I feel confident both teams will advance to the postseason.

 

The Grizzlies, since Jan. 10 have been one of the hottest and better teams in the league having won 28 of their 37 games, with only the San Antonio Spurs, which has won 15 straight the only hotter team with a better winning percentage. But, prior to the Grizzlies playing the type of basketball we’ve come to expect, they were sitting at the bottom of the Southwest Division at 15-19.

 

Memphis has won three straight and nine of 11 games and with the likes Portland, Golden State, Dallas and Phoenix all fighting for the final four playoff spots, the Grizzlies must continue to use what has gotten them to where they are… defense.

 

We know how important each of these games are for us,” said Marc Gasol, who along with Zach Randolph and Mike Conely are the cornerstones of this team.

 

With a win in Oakland, a place where they have had success in recent years, the Grizzlies can move a season-high 16 games above .500 and having won 15 of 19 games versus the West with the Trail Blazers coming up on Sunday, Memphis is poised to continue their success and make a strong playoff push.

 

After five days off, a well rested Golden State team will try to bounce back following last Saturday’s 99-90 home loss to San Antonio, a team that won without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili in the lineup.

 

It’s a disappointing loss,” said Warriors’ coach Mark Jackson, who along with the Grizzlies are 13-5 since the All-Star break. “It’ll make us better.”

 

Starting swingman Andre Iguadala will be back in the lineup after missing the last three games due to a sore right knee and will give the Warriors another offensive weapon along with Stephen Curry, David Lee and Klay Thompson to go up against the tough defense of the Grizzlies who have allowed an NBA-low 90.2 points per game since the return of Gasol back on Jan. 14.

 

Golden State is a team that lives and dies from the outside and it’s all-or-nothing for them, where in their seven wins since March 5 have averaged 110.1 points per game and in their three losses have averaged only 94.0 ppg.

 

Memphis has won the last five contests in Oakland holding the home Warriors to only 88.8 points per game, but the oddsmakers are giving Golden State the slight edge making them a (minus -2.0) point favorite with an over/under of 188.0, but get the latest odds on the game up until tipoff right here at Wonder Punter.

 

It will be the high powered offense of Golden State versus the stingy defense of Memphis on Friday night and we all know defense wins games. Expect a good close game between these two teams but I predict the Grizzlies to continue form and leave Oakland with a tough road victory.

 

Prediction/Pick- Memphis

 

 

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

NBA Prediction Tuesday Night Preview/Pick- Portland vs. Memphis

 

Portland Trail Blazers (42-21, 18-13 away) @ Memphis Grizzlies (36-26, 19-14 home) 03/11- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: MEM -3.5

Over/Under: 198.0

 

After dropping two games in the state of Texas, the Portland Trail Blazers hope to get it together as they will go into FedEx Forum on Tuesday night to battle the surging Memphis Grizzlies.

 

The Trail Blazers (42-21) dropped back-to-back games after giving away fourth quarter leads… first to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night losing 103-98 then on Sunday to the Houston Rockets falling in defeat 118-113 in overtime.

 

In both fourth quarter games, the Blazers were outscored by an average of 8.0 points, shooing 41.7 percent from the field and 75.0 percent from the charity stripe… Portland is among the league’s best from the free throw line with 80.7 percent.

 

That Blazers defensive collapse in the fourth quarter resulted in the Rockets outscoring Portland 33-21 to send the game into overtime.

 

That was a tough loss,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “A game, I thought we did a good job of controlling it for a good part of it. We had our opportunities to win it. They made some tough shots. I thought we overcame some adversity and still put ourselves in a position to win, but we didn’t close it out.”

 

Portland still ranks among the best with 107.7 points per game and LaMarcus Aldridge is doing his part in scoring averaging with 29.0 ppg and 14.5 rebounds on this five-game trip so far but the Blazers as a whole will need to play some defense if they want to end their road trip that takes them through the Southwest Division on a more positive note. After Memphis, they will travel back to Texas to face the San Antonio Spurs and than end the trip versus the New Orleans Pelicans.

 

Against Memphis in 24 games, Aldridge has struggled averaging only 15.9 points… his lowest against any other NBA team.

 

Having won back-to-back games and winners of four of five, the Memphis Grizzlies (36-26) is a team that seems to peaking at the right time and much of their success is because of their defensive intensity to provide them with a nice balance on both sides of the ball as everyone is getting involved.

 

Everybody is pitching in, and we are going to need everybody to continue to do that for the remainder (of the season),” guard Tony Allen said. “Be ready when their number is called.”

 

The Grizzlies have won four straight against the Trail Blazers and with their recent play, the oddsmakers have the confidence that they will get it done again by making them a (minus -3.5) point favorite against the visiting Blazers, but get the latest odds up until game time right here at Wonder Punter.

 

I too, have that confidence in the Grizzlies to continue playing with success the rest of the way and see them being able beat the Blazers come Tuesday night as they continue to make a strong playoff push.

 

Prediction/Pick- Memphis

 

 

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

 

NBA Prediction Friday Night Preview/Pick- Memphis vs. Chicago

 

Memphis Grizzlies (34-26, 16-12 away) @ Chicago Bulls (34-27, 18-10 home) 03/07- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: CHI -2.0

Over/Under: 179.5

 

In what promises to be a great game, two of the league’s hottest teams since the beginning of the new year, the Memphis Grizzlies and Chicago Bulls will battle on Friday night at the United Center.

 

Both teams struggled for the first two months of the season, disappointing many around the league as they were a combined 25-35 from Oct-Dec, but since the start of January have put together 43-18 combined record.

 

The Bulls (34-27) has been the hotter of the two as they will be in search of their 11th victory in 13 games, including five straight at home by an average of 19.6 points.

 

Defense as been the swan song of the Bulls under head coach Tom Thibodeau, but it has been the offense surge sort of speak that has allowed them to win 10 of 12 giving them a nice balance between defense and offense.

 

A lot of guys are stepping up on this team right now,” said Taj Gibson, who is averaging a career-high 13.4 this season. “Everyone is working hard and helping in whatever way we need. The guys are just focused on the team right now.”

 

All-star Joakim Noah has been the leader in place of Derrick Rose this season averaging 13.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 7.2 assists while shooting 54.o percent over his last 13 games, but has been less than effective against the Grizzlies over his last six games averaging just 7.9 points on 41.9 percent shooting. However, power forward Carlos Boozer (14.4 ppg) is averaging a career-best 20.1 points per contest against the Grizzlies.. his highest versus any other NBA team.

 

Memphis (34-26) will try to bounce back after an unexpected and disappointing 104-93 road loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night. The were without the services of power forward Zach Randolph (flu) and point guard Mike Conley (17.3) went 0-8 from the field after going for 22 against Cleveland and 20 versus Washington in back-to-back wins.

 

It was a tough night,” coach Dave Joerger said. “We had some guys, really, really struggle tonight.”

 

The Grizzlies are 7-3 and the Bulls are 8-2 over their last 10 games and the oddsmakers are favoring the Bulls as a slight (minus 2.0) point favorite but stay up to date with the latest spread as they may change before game time right here at Wonder Punter.

 

I’m really looking forward to these two teams clashing on Friday night and feel if Zach Randolph is able to suit up, I’m going to give a slight edge to the visiting Grizzlies to get out of the United Center with a win. Expect a great game with great defenses played on both sides.

 

Prediction/Pick- Memphis Grizzlies

 

 

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

NBA Prediction Friday Night Preview/Pick- Grizzlies vs. Thunder

grizzlies vs thunder

Memphis Grizzlies (32-24, 15-10 away) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (43-15, 23-6 home) 02/28- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: OKC -6.0

Over/Under- 192.0

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder will take to the court on Friday night against the visiting and surging Memphis Grizzlies as they will be trying to avoid their fourth straight defeat at home.

 

It’s been almost five years since the Thunder have experienced a losing streak of this nature but most concerning is that the first three losses have all come at home. Granted, they played the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers, but losing to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers 114-104 on Wednesday night shocked everyone that knows the game of basketball.

 

More surprising is that with the return of point guard Michael Westbrook back in the lineup, the Thunder were expected to run the table the rest of the way, but instead have dropped their first three in the midst of a six-game homestand at Chesapeake Energy Arena and the blame can pointed on the defensive end where they have allowed 106.1 points per game in their last seven compared to an NBA ranking of seventh (97.4 ppg) in their first 51 games.

 

No one in the locker room, including myself, feels good about it,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said. “The exciting thing is we know we can do better. We just to maximize our potential.

 

Defensively we’re not getting after it enough. We just have to keep focusing on that end and it will turn back around for us.”

 

Despite their recent home slump, the Thunder still hold the best record (43-15) in a very tough and competitive Western Conference and had won 23 of their first 26 before the defense decided to take a break.

 

We just have to figure it out,” Kevin Durant said. “We have to help everybody else out and figure it out what were doing wrong out there. … we just have to focus on the next game.”

 

And that next game is Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that they defeated 86-77 in a strong defensive showing back on Feb. 3 at home, allowing their second-fewest points of the season.

 

The Grizzlies have dropped two of three so far this season to the Thunder but have won four of the last six meetings at OKC, including two big games in last year’s Western Conference semifinal that saw them win in five games.

 

You know it’s always going to be a good game,” Memphis center Marc Gasol said. “Playing over there, you know the place is going to be packed, fans are going to get into it and it’s going to feel like a playoff game. We enjoy that.”

 

Memphis has won five of their last six and seem to be hitting their stride getting it done at stopping the ball, allowing only 94.6 points per game with an impressive 84.9 per road contest since Jan. 5—tops in the league in that stretch.

 

Despite the recent struggles of the Thunder at home and the Grizzlies being able to win in OKC, the oddsmakers have still made Oklahoma City a (minus -6.0) point favorite for Friday night’s game, but stay up to date on the latest spread up until tipoff right here at Wonder Punter.

 

NBA Prediction Friday Night Preview/Pick- Clippers vs. Grizzlies

nba pick & prediction

Los Angeles Clippers (37-19, 14-14 away) @ Memphis Grizzlies (30-23, 15-14 home) 02/21- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: LAC -2.5

Over/Under: 196.5

 

Two of the hottest teams over the last six-weeks, the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers will square off in the final regular-season meeting between these two teams on Friday night at FedEx Forum.

 

The Grizzlies (30-23), winners of 15 of their last 19 find themselves one game out of the eighth position in the tough Western Conference for the final playoff spot while the Clippers (37-19), winners of 14 of 19 lead the Pacific Division.

 

The Clippers’ Blake Griffin has been a big reason for their success averaging a career-best 24.4 points, while going for a career-high 25 points or more over his last nine games and has posted six double-doubles in seven games, though his last effort of 35 points and 12 boards was not enough to defeat the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night 113-103.

 

He scored like 60, didn’t he? Blake’s great,” Spurs veteran Tim Duncan said. “He’s been playing the best basketball of us career thus far.”

 

The Clippers had won three in a row prior to losing to San Antonio but their defense has come into question where they have allowed 110 points or more in four of their last six games… and that must improve if they expect to be a factor come playoff time.

 

Sometimes you can’t control if you’re shooting the ball well or things like that. But you can always control your energy on defense,” Griffin said. “Even when you’re tired, you can still bring a little bit more.

 

“…. It’s on me. I think I have got to show a little more energy at the start, especially defensively.”

 

For the Grizzlies, defense has been a vocal point all season, surrendering only 87.8 points per game since Jan 14. One of only two teams along with the Chicago Bulls (93.3) to allow less than 96.0 points per contest in that span.

 

The big front line of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have done a stellar job of containing Griffin since the start of last season allowing only 14.3 points per matchup and his 16.5 career average is the lowest against any NBA opponent.

 

Memphis, winners of three straight will be in search of winning the regular-season series for the first time since the 2008-09 year with both teams winning on each others home court thus far this season.

 

The Grizzlies have found their groove since dealing with early season injuries which found them four games under .500 in early January, but despite their winning streak and defense… find themselves a (minus -2.5) point underdog to the visiting Clippers. I’m not sold on the spread, but you can stay up-to-date on the latest lines on the game up until tip off right here at Wonder Punter.

 

I look for the Grizzlies to continue with their tough defense on Friday night, establishing themselves as a team to be reckoned with for the second half of the season and predict a good home win to extend their winning streak to four games.

 

Prediction/Pick- Memphis

 

 

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

NBA Prediction Tuesday Game Free Pick- Memphis vs. Portland

NBA Pick grizzlies trail blazers

Memphis Grizzlies (22-20, 10-7 away) @ Portland Trailblazers (33-12. 18-4 home) 01/28- 10:00PM EST

 

Line: POR -4.5

Over/Under: 196

 

Riding back-to-back wins over the Houston Rockets, the Memphis Grizzlies will travel into Portland on Tuesday night to face a Blazers team looking to bounce back after a 15 point loss to Golden State.

 

Memphis (22-20) is 4-1 in their last five games but will take on a Trailblazers team in search of their sixth straight home win and getting back to winning after going 2-3 in their last five games.

 

In Saturday’s loss to Golden State, the Blazers shot a season-low 33.7 percent while their 15 point loss equaled their season worse.

 

That’s a rough game,” coach Terry Stouts said. “Golden State did a nice job with its defense. It was one of those nights where we didn’t have enough at the offensive end.”

 

For Portland of late, they have been a different team at home versus on the road… at home they are outscoring their opponents by an average of 10.4 points where as on the road in their last three defeats, they have been outscored by an average of 12.0 points.

 

Memphis (22-20) has won three consecutive games away from home and have seem to finally been playing like the team we expected all year long with the return of last season’s reigning NBA defensive player of the year Marc Gasol. In their past six games with Gasol back in the lineup, the Grizzlies have stepped it up on the defensive end allowing just 86.2 points per game on 40.3 percent shooting.

 

In their home-and-home sweep of Houston, Memphis held the high scoring Rockets to an average of just 84.0 points in the two games… 21 below their season average on just 38.8 percent shooting.

 

We’re ready to win and we prepare like we want to win,” forward James Johnson said. We travel like we want to win, and everybody is holding each other accountable. When you put those things together, we beat teams bad.”

 

The Grizzlies will have another true test on Tuesday night as they will face the NBA’s highest scoring team at 109.0 points per contest and who have always played well at home. The Grizzlies did however take the final three games over the Blazers last season.

 

And for a Memphis team that reached the Western Conference finals last year, Tuesday’s showdown will also be a great measuring stick for the Trailblazers who have exceeded expectations this season so far.

 

Oddsmakers are making the Blazers a slight (minus -4.5) point favorite at home, but get the latest spread on the game up until tipoff right here at Wonder Punter.

 

Shooting guard Tony Allen will be out of action for Tuesday’s game for Memphis and small-forward Nicolas Batum is listed as day-to-day, but look for all the stars of both teams to step up and shine in Tuesday’s important matchup… LaMarcus Aldridge (24.3ppg) and Damien Lilliard (20.7, 5.7 assists per game) and for the Grizzlies… Zach Randolph (17.0 ppg) and Mike Conley (18.0, 6.2 apg) to all bring their ‘A’ game. In the end, a great game is expected, but it will be tough to go against the Blazers at home. I favor and predict the Trailblazers winning in a close one.

 

Prediction/Pick- Portland

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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Durant: I’m no longer obsessed with winning

Kevin Durant admitted he was obsessed with main the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder to a championship final season – too obsessed.

Durant

Durant

So even though he had another magnificent season – scoring 28.1 points per game, and capturing 51 p.c from the sphere and forty one.6 % from 3-point vary – his infatuation with profitable a title affected him personally, and he even took it out on others.

“Final yr, I was obsessed with it,” Durant advised The Oklahoman of successful a title. “Like, I wasn’t going to sleep as a result of I wanted to win so bad. I used to be screaming at my teammates, at the refs, on the coaches. I got mad as a result of I assumed ‘if we’ve a bad sport here, we’re not going to win a championship.'”

These cracks showed up in his demeanor on the court as well, as he was known as for 12 technical fouls final season – far surpassing his complete from the previous 5 seasons combined.

All the while, Durant was feeling that he wanted to play perfectly each night time and held his crew to that very same normal.

“Like, for me, when I was coming in I was like ‘If I miss a shot, I will miss this shot in Recreation 6 of the Finals,'” he said within the report. “‘If we don’t play defense this sport, we’re not going to play protection within the Finals.’ Like, I was thinking like that. And I used to be going residence and I might get so mad over small stuff. That is not me. So I used to be dropping myself over what folks thought, what different people thought.”

That title chase in the end fell brief when the Thunder, minus injured Russell Westbrook, were eradicated within the second spherical of the playoffs by the Memphis Grizzlies.

A year wiser, Durant is taking a unique approach as the new season nears.

“So I’m not going to let that overtake my mind,” Durant instructed The Oklahoman of his championship chase. “I mean, in fact I need to win it, but I’m not obsessive about it. I’ll put within the work to help my group, however I’m not going to be obsessed with it as a result of that is when I compromise myself, and most of the time it would not work out.”

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Rockets’ Harden leaves with knee contusion

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Houston Rockets guard James Harden was listed as everyday after leaving Friday evening’s preseason recreation against the Memphis Grizzlies with a proper knee bruise.

James HardenThe Rockets will re-evaluate James Harden (knee) on Saturday, coach Kevin McHale mentioned.

Rockets coach Kevin McHale stated after Houston’s 92-73 victory that his star guard bumped knees with Memphis’ Quincy Pondexter in the first quarter. Harden did not return after the injury.

“He iced it, and stuff, and we’ll see how he feels (Saturday),” McHale said, indicating that he didn’t assume the harm was critical.

Harden, who entered the game as the workforce’s main scorer in the preseason with a 20.eight average, linked on a 3-pointer from the correct wing with 4:35 left within the first quarter and went all the way down to the court in entrance of the Rockets bench when he was fouled by Pondexter.

Harden ultimately obtained up, made the following free throw and went straight to the locker room on the subsequent stoppage of play.

Harden completed with six factors and four rebounds in his 7-plus minutes before the harm.

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Report: Miller might sue Heat over loss of $1.7M

Mike Miller could sue his former team. (USATSI)
Mike Miller might sue his former team. (USATSI)

When Mike Miller was waived final summer time utilizing the amnesty clause by Miami, it was thought there could be no unhealthy blood. He helped them win two championships, they wanted the financial reduction, Miller wished to maintain taking part in, these items happen. But it appears that there’s an emnity from Miller’s side that has nothing to do with basketball.

The Miami Herald stories that Miller has drawn up a criticism to be filed in courtroom asking the Heat for over $1.7 million in damages associated to a rip-off he fell sufferer to. The head of the rip-off was introduced to Miller by a team make use of. It’s a lengthy story. Take it away, Herald:

Miller, who now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, lost $1.7 million in a rip-off allegedly orchestrated by Haider Zafar, a South Seashore bling king who presented himself as a member of a wealthy Pakistani family.

In response to Miller’s criticism that has been drawn up however not but filed, a Warmth employee launched Miller to Zafar, and Zafar used $seven-hundred,000 of the money he stole from Miller to pay for courtside Heat tickets.

Settlement talks between Miller and the Heat have stalled. Miller asked for that $seven hundred,000 again from the Warmth, plus lawyer’s fees, but “the events had been far aside,” Miller’s lawyer, Andrew Advantageous, stated.

In the potential lawsuit, Miller is seeking a lot more: the whole $1.7 million that he lost in Zafar’s scam.

by way of Mike Miller mulling lawsuit towards Warmth; Dolphins call about Professional Bowler; UM, Marlins | Sports Buzz.

The paper notes that the “bling king” is in custody in Ohio on an unrelated fraud case, that teammates James Jones and Rashard Lewis were additionally victims of the fraud, that the Heat employee who launched the 2 left the staff during the playoffs, and most disturbingly, that conferences involving the two were held on the Warmth’s places of work.

The paper notes that Miller hasn’t filed the criticism but, however he very clearly takes the scenario severely.

Miller signed with the Grizzlies last July.

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The 10-man rotation, starring Joe Johnson’s touch in the clutch

Joe Johnson’s again. (Getty Photographs)

A look around the league and the web that covers it. It’s also important to notice that the rotation order and starting nods aren’t at all times listed in order of importance. That is for you, pricey reader, to determine.

C: The Brooklyn Recreation. Devin Kharpertian with an enchanting portrayal of Brooklyn’s Joe Johnson, one of the sport’s most cruelly efficient scorers down the stretch of close games.
PF: New York Times. That nagging $1.four million that is getting in the way of Jason Collins joining the top of an NBA group’s bench this season.
SF: Knickerblogger.net. David Hertsberger’s devious detailing of Andrea Bargnani’s promise as a New York Knick.
SG: Grizzly Bear Blues. Six unheralded points of what will doubtless be a captivating 2013-14 season for the Memphis Grizzlies.
PG: Philadelphia Day by day Information. Royce White’s Philadelphia 76ers preseason debut will happen on Friday night.

6th: NBA.com. We’re a bit late on this, but Steve Aschburner’s tackle Michael Jordan’s first retirement, 20 years on, is a must-learn.
7th: Grantland. Zach Lowe observes the demise of the a lot-cherished Toronto Raptors mascot, who is out for the 12 months with a torn Achilles.
8th: Sports activities Illustrated. Paul Forrester breaks down the relative fortunes awaiting the nine (!) rookie head coaches in 2013-14.
9th: SB Nation. Tom Ziller on Ted Leonsis, who’s getting very impatient together with his Washington Wizards.
10th: The Dream Shake. This is a very, very good column on Omer Asik’s influence on the Houston Rockets. Do read.

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Rose says leg ‘feels great’ day after return

ST. LOUIS – A day after taking part in his first professional recreation in over 17 months, Chicago Bulls star guard Derrick Rose was joyful with his efficiency in Saturday evening’s preseason win over the Indiana Pacers.

“It feels great,” Rose said earlier than Sunday’s apply. “I’m not sore or anything. My leg’s good. Just attempting to stay centered and making an attempt to take it at some point at a time.”

One of the best news of all for the Bulls is that Rose reported no soreness in his left knee after scoring 13 factors in 20 minutes on Saturday evening.

“No soreness in any respect,” Rose mentioned. “After the sport it felt like I hadn’t even played so I assume that is a good sign.”

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was happy with what he noticed from Rose as effectively. The veteran coach understands that the former MVP nonetheless has to shake off some rust, however he was happy with how Rose responded after his first contest.

“We’ll see when he gets out [to practice] – up to now, so good,” Thibodeau mentioned. “I believed he played properly [Saturday] and we have been seeing it in observe so it was good to see it in a sport. I thought he was real aggressive. As the game went on he got stronger and stronger.”

Both Thibodeau and Rose have been concerned with how Rose would work his means again into sport form but that doesn’t seem like an issue. Thibodeau joked on Saturday that Rose was upset when he was taken out with 7:07 left in the third quarter towards the Pacers. Thibodeau doesn’t anticipate to see any adjustments in his schedule for Rose because the Bulls get set to face the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night time.

“The big factor was looking at his wind,” Thibodeau mentioned. “He felt actually good, he needed to play extra, which is nice. We’re just going to take it day-to-day, and if he needs some relaxation we’ll give him extra rest. It’s just step by step, don’t skip and steps. That is all we want him to do.”

Rose said he hadn’t talked to many people since making his lengthy-awaited return Saturday.

“I simply modified my number so it was like family and friends hit me up,” he mentioned. “However other than that I have never read anything, noticed anything, not less than not but.”

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TNT’s Steve Kerr thinks the Heat won’t three-peat, picks Bulls to come out of the East

Will Steve Kerr wind up needing to hide from his 2014 title prediction? (Lee Celano/Getty Photos)

Barring a catastrophic harm or another unexpected growth between now and Oct. 30, the Miami Warmth will enter the common season as the betting favourite to capture the 2013-14 NBA championship; for the time being, they’re going off at a shade underneath 2-to-1, in response to Bovada, significantly outpacing the positioning’s No. 2 guess, the Oklahoma City Thunder (6-to-1). That is pretty reasonable — after all, the Heat have won the Eastern Conference three years in a row and won the last two NBA championships, and the team employs LeBron James, who is both the best basketball participant on the earth and in the prime of his profession.

Beyond that, Miami additionally features Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who rank as arguably the league’s greatest pair of supplemental offensive options and may provide sport-altering defensive play when wholesome and engaged. The Heat additionally return every key contributor to last 12 months’s title run save for Mike Miller, whom they amnestied again in July and who later signed with the Memphis Grizzlies. (Pat Riley responded by adding Greg Oden and Michael Beasley to select up Miller’s “myriad accidents” and “enjoyable coiffure” slack.) Whereas there are not any lead-pipe locks in the NBA, you would be laborious-pressed to find too many of us who’d look askance at selecting the Heat to go back-to-back-to-back.

Count Steve Kerr among the aspect-eye squadron, though. The previous 15-12 months skilled sharpshooter and Phoenix Suns basic supervisor, and current TNT basketball analyst, has gone on the record to foretell that the Warmth won’t solely fail to three-peat, however will lose their Eastern crown, too, based on Ben Boltch of the Los Angeles Instances:

Nobody has received back-to-again-to-back titles because the Lakers in 2000-02 and no person has been to 4 consecutive NBA Finals because the Boston Celtics in 1984-87.

“There’s a purpose these teams do not do it,” TNT analyst Steve Kerr stated. “Emotionally, it’s just exhausting to keep doing it yr after yr, notably when you need to take care of everything Miami has to cope with every day, simply the fixed critiquing and scrutiny on the workforce, and then you factor within the injuries with Wade and Bosh and their well being. I don’t assume Miami will get out of the East this yr.”

Kerr is selecting the Bulls to unseat the Heat.

Well, then.

You’d suspect that Kerr’s Bulls pick leans closely on the anticipated full-throttle return of Derrick Rose to All-NBA-level play after missing all the 2012-13 season rehabilitating from a torn left ACL. To be sure, including an elite point guard (plus savvy playmaking swingman Mike Dunleavy, plucked neatly at the start of free agency) ought to help the Bulls enhance from one of many league’s worst offenses (24th of 30 NBA groups in factors scored per possession final season) again towards the top of the pops (No. 5 in offensive effectivity in 2011-12, No. 12 in Rose’s MVP 2010-eleven season).

As NBA.com’s John Schuhmann noted, though, the Bulls also allowed five more points per one hundred possessions final season than they did the yr earlier than, thanks partly to the departures of a variety of second-unit defensive stalwarts (specifically Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson), which is a reasonably major slide and one thing to be at least reasonably involved about heading into the season. Full, healthy campaigns from Rose, fellow All-Stars Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, and key reserves Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich would go a long way toward walking again some of those losses. However given the bigs’ past battles with plantar fasciitis, Hinrich’s close to-constant battle with a wide variety of maladies and the astounding workload head coach Tom Thibodeau heaps on Deng and Noah, it wouldn’t necessarily be a shock to see any one of those players limited this season, which may put quite a dent in Chicago’s supposed ascent.

It can be one thing of a shock to see James limited. The 28-year-previous four-time MVP has missed simply 39 of 804 attainable regular-season video games during his 10-12 months NBA profession, with most of those coming because of deliberate rest somewhat than damage, and his frame (listed at 6-foot-eight, 250 kilos, though that might undersell it) often makes him look like an indestructible struggle machine. It might be far less shocking, though, to see the members of his supporting solid wither on the vine.

The laborious-pushed miles on Wade’s legs seem to develop into a bigger topic of dialog and a extra vital on-court docket issue with each passing year, and Erik Spoelstra’s anticipated rotation will continue to rely closely on longer-in-the-tooth vets Ray Allen (38 years outdated), Shane Battier (who’ll be 35 by Opening Night time), Chris Andersen (35) and Udonis Haslem (33, but with 10 years of very bodily play on his body) for main minutes. Plus, as Schuhmann notes, the Heat have performed 19 more games over the past three seasons than every other workforce within the NBA, a workload that Kerr thinks is bound to catch up with them.

He’s seen it before, as a member of the Michael Jordan/Scottie Pippen/Dennis Rodman/Toni Kukoc Bulls squads that gained three straight titles from 1995-ninety six by ‘ninety seven-’98. As Kelly Dwyer — my colleague, Our Fearless Chief and as canny a Bulls watcher as we have on these right here Internets — jogs my memory, the ultimate title squad was running on fumes to start out the ‘ninety seven-‘ninety eight season after hoisting consecutive O’Brien trophies. They started out 12-9 and bore little resemblance to the world-beaters that followed a document-setting 72-10 marketing campaign with a sixty nine-13 mark en path to again-to-again titles. They’d get it discovered, in fact, successful 21 of their next 25 and going 4 months without shedding consecutive games, topping the 60-win mark and depressing Utah Jazz fans over again. But it surely was an exhausting, exasperating season, marked by the specter of one other M.J. retirement, Pippen angling for a giant contract and questions about coach Phil Jackson’s future with the franchise; getting by means of all that to return to the top of the mountain took an distinctive efficiency headlined by the laser-focused depth of Jordan, one of the game’s all-time killers.. and, without throwing shade, as loads of folks have discussed in loads of ways previously, Miami’s best participant is wired only a bit differently than Chicago’s was.

That, of course, does not imply that Miami can’t develop into the first staff since Larry Chicken’s Boston Celtics to make 4 straight NBA Finals trips (1984 by 1987) or the first workforce because the Shaq-Kobe Los Angeles Lakers to win three straight rings (2000 via 2002). But with all those miles, all that age and all those enhancing groups — the more healthy Bulls, deeper Indiana Pacers and inexperienced-tinted Brooklyn Nets within the East, to say nothing of Western powers like the San Antonio Spurs, who got here inside mere seconds of knocking Miami off again in June — of their way, it’s certain to be an extremely tall order. Watching James and company vie for one more piece of history must be not less than as fascinating as watching them carve out the bits they’ve already obtained underneath their belts.

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Allen Iverson is reportedly set to retire from the NBA

Guard Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers speaks at the submit game press convention wearing a Seattle Seahawks cap after the 76ers defeated the Boston Celtics at the First Union Heart on..

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Guard Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers speaks at the submit game press convention wearing a Seattle Seahawks cap after the 76ers defeated the Boston Celtics on the First Union Heart on December 4, 2002 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers gained 99-93 (Picture by Jesse D. Garrabrant/ NBAE/ Getty Pictures)

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Allen Iverson

is going to announce his retirement from the NBA soon. First reported, appropriately,

by SLAM Journal

, the 2001 NBA MVP and eleven-time All-Star will name it quits after a star-crossed NBA profession and short stint taking part in in Turkey. Iverson has not played an NBA recreation since Feb. 2010, and it’s fair to say that his time away from the sport has

brought extra bad information

than good.

Iverson leaves the NBA after being shunned by NBA squads to start out the 2010-eleven, 2011-12, 2012-13, and presumably 2013-14 seasons. Although Allen wasn’t precisely a greybeard when he walked away from the Philadelphia 76ers in 2010 at the age of 34, it was probably that walk away that prematurely ended his NBA career.

NBA general managers have been more than conscious that Iverson also walked away from Philadelphia in December of 2006 (before being dealt to Denver), from the Detroit Pistons within the spring of 2009, from the Memphis Grizzlies later that year, and at last from the Sixers later that season. All weren’t amicable partings, with the teams in query considering it finest if Iverson stayed away from the world than stick to the workforce.

Before that, Iverson’s scoring guard mentality allowed the diminutive 6-footer to rack up properly over 24,000 points, a 26.7 career points per game average alongside 6.2 assists per sport, and four NBA scoring titles alongside the way in which. He led a restricted Philadelphia 76ers team to the NBA Finals in 2001, and made eight other playoff appearances. Along the best way he labored as one of the league’s hottest players, a relatable person resulting from his comparatively short stature amongst NBA giants, and a well-recognized presence and image (with cornrows and tattoos in full show nicely before they turned the norm) to those effectively-versed with the altering culture of the late 1990s and early a part of the twenty first century.

Allen Iverson utterly and at times ably represented what the NBA was all about throughout the put up-Michael Jordan period. In a time full of stiffening defenses, lax hand-checking legal guidelines and loads of horrible 88-82 video games, Iverson and his forty two p.c profession shooting share fit right in. He scored lots, however he also shot lots to get those gaudy numbers, and turned the ball over frequently. It’s true that Iverson needed to do as a lot as a perform of these restricted 76ers groups, however he saved up the same practices in his several stops following that run with coach Larry Brown.

Iverson’s peak as a participant, toppling the heavily-favored Los Angeles Lakers to take a 1-0 collection lead within the 2001 Finals, was sadly transient. The All-Star clashed with Brown all through 2001-02, failing to follow to Brown’s exacting requirements and shooting below forty % in his workforce’s failed convention title defense. That spring’s notorious and embarrassing (as he belittled the late Phil Jasner, referring to him as “Phillip” over and over in a bullying, schoolyard tone) “observe” press conference led to a depressing summer that saw Iverson racked with felony fees after he locked his naked spouse out of their house, before brandishing an unlicensed gun whereas searching for her later that night time, reportedly threatening buddies and cousins alongside the way.

The Sixers carried on with Iverson, but Brown would last only one extra yr, as Iverson’s low-efficiency sport was turning into increasingly more obsolete. The commerce to Denver energized him, Iverson raised his taking pictures percentages while making an attempt to slot in, however the “every point or assist has to undergo me”-excellent just wasn’t a correct fit, and he was soon dealt to Detroit for Chauncey Billups – who led the Nuggets to the convention finals later that 12 months. By then, Iverson had been out of the sport for 2 months, leaving the Pistos within the first week of April previous to their playoff appearance, whiffing on a chance to secure a big contract whereas enjoying nice ball for a youthful workforce during his contract year.

Only the then-downtrodden Memphis Grizzlies got here calling that summer, however when Iverson was unable to replicate his ball-dominating methods (once again being asked to come back off the bench, which is what led to his basketball divorce in Detroit), Iverson left the team, stating “private causes.” He was waived quickly after, and played only three games in Memphis. The 76ers signed Iverson later within the 12 months, but he would walk away from the workforce just after the midpoint in the season, citing family and private issues. He hasn’t performed NBA ball since.

And, in keeping with SLAM, he’ll never play it once more. It is smart, at age 38, to hang up the sneakers on a sport that for Iverson was always about guile, velocity and athleticism within the face of giants. It’s that trip from November 2008 till now that’s the frustrating half. Iverson had an opportunity to exit his personal means, and to earn a number of more profitable contracts to aid in his reportedly important off-court monetary troubles.

Allen Iverson by no means wanted to age gracefully. He by no means modified, and that intractable trait that did him so properly within the submit-Michael Jordan era ultimately led to his too-soon NBA demise.

For a while there, although, Allen Iverson was something else. Literally something the NBA had by no means seen earlier than. These don’t come around too usually, and we’re fortunate in the event that they keep so long.

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The NBA, A-through-Z: Competitive balance

LeBron James and Roy Hibbert ply their trade (Getty Images)

The free brokers have nearly all been signed up. The NBA is down to a sequence of Instagram pictures from transferring yachts and crossed fingers from nervous teams hoping their gamers keep protected in the summertime off. There’s nothing happening, save for that clock on the wall that’s ticking all the way down to the 2013-14 season.

And it’s shifting SO SLOWLY.

This is why we’ve determined to select 26 issues we’re trying ahead to in 2013-14. Or, on the very least, 26 issues that intrigue us as we wait out an offseason that feels prefer it has hundreds of miles left to cross earlier than we will get to Halloween and opening week. As a result of there are 26 letters within the alphabet – you guessed, NBA A-by way of-Z.

We proceed with competitive steadiness.

Some would well argue that the idea of “aggressive stability” within the NBA is a laughable one, and that may be a soundly prepared sizzling sports activities take. We’re yet to absorb the total breadth of what the 2011 lockout and eventual NBA collective bargaining settlement has given the league, even after an clever summer, but what we do know is that a goodly chunk of NBA teams have run screaming away from the posh tax, while a number of seem to be barely bothered by paying it. That’s not exactly the fiscal outlook the NBA was looking for.

If they had been ever honestly looking for it, that’s. On Monday, Denver Stiffs’ Jeffrey Morton published a incredible column wanting at the new and partially hid Great Divide that the NBA has created:

I have mentioned repeatedly since 2011 that the NBA lockout had much less to do with aggressive balance than it did extracting a bit more cash from the NBPA. Whereas it is more durable for super teams, such as the one in Miami to form (as a result of new commerce restrictions for tax paying teams) it does not stop giant market groups who’re prepared to pay a bit greater than they did before to bring an excellent group collectively. The luxurious tax won’t prevent large market teams from going in to the tax threshold, they only should be barely extra artistic than earlier than.

It’s not that the massive-to-enormous market teams are attempting to completely dodge the luxury tax. As a substitute, they’re attempting to miss out on the repeater tax, something that comes from consecutive tax-paying years, resulting in stiffer penalties for every time that toe is dipped into the $seventy two million-plus water. This doesn’t essentially mean teams are shedding for this summer season, they’re just prepping to re-instrument in 2014 across the similar excessive-priced talent, miss the tax, and plunge right in soon after.

Meanwhile, you have got a team within the Denver Nuggets – one which prints money with its Wal-Mart funding – avoiding the tax at all prices. You may have the sellout-incomes Oklahoma City Thunder dumping James Harden to then not contend for Kevin Martin during free agency before deciding not to pay Kendrick Perkins to not play basketball for him, while tossing out the untested Jeremy Lamb and a center picked within the lower part of the lottery as its “LOOK OUT MIAMI!”-fearsome 2013-14 unit. Whew.

And the Bulls will waive Carlos Boozer next year despite a quarter-century of through-the-roof profits. And the Indiana Pacers must mind each penny. And the beat goes on …

With that in place, lower than two years and just three technical offseasons into the brand new CBA, we nonetheless don’t know how it will all shake out. Possibly this league will function a litany of baseball-styled top-heavy and decrease-rung payrolls. Then again, possibly the house owners deserve what they’re getting after over a decade of silly spending and poor planning within the years following the 1998-99 lockout.

The followers, of course, deserve none of this.

In the place of that frustration, though, comes the 2013-14 campaign. One that could produce a ridiculously-entertaining common and postseason – even if it ends with the identical end result, and LeBron James hoisting the trophy for the third straight June.

In his convention alone the Indiana Pacers have considerably upgraded their roster in ways that don’t even factor former All-Star Danny Granger’s attainable presence. The Chicago Bulls have gotten severe once more, and will add a playmaker and shooter in Mike Dunleavy Jr. to, oh yeah, associate with the return of 2010-eleven NBA MVP Derrick Rose. The Knicks, for all of the laughs we’ve had at their expense, might genuinely improve on the play (if not the document) of the crew’s fifty four-win season from final 12 months. And for a team loaded with gamers we’ve seen play hundreds of instances, the Brooklyn Nets stay an interesting and unpredictable wild card.

Meanwhile, the Thunder still boast two of the league’s greatest players, children that also improving year by yr. The San Antonio Spurs aren’t going anyplace, the Golden State Warriors have loaded up on more wing expertise and must be wholesome by October, the Memphis Grizzlies still don’t like it when you rating on them, the Los Angeles Clippers have an actual (profitable! Not to denigrate!) coach now, and the Houston Rockets simply added Dwight Howard.

(And the Lakers will probably be on national TELEVISION 25 times subsequent year!)

This remains to be going to be a wildly entertaining year, because as fun as 2012-13 turned out to be, it didn’t feature anyplace close to the amount of championship-stage threats as 2013-14 ought to. Well being-prepared, and tankers-forgotten, this should develop into one thing particular.

Now we’ll just need to see how much the homeowners will destroy things between now and the next lockout.

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10 other intriguing, noteworthy games worth watching on the 2013-14 NBA schedule

Sacramento Kings followers will have many reasons to cheer once they tip off this season. (Rocky Widner/Getty)

When the NBA launched the full 2013-14 regular-season schedule on Tuesday evening, intrepid Yahoo! Sports activities NBA columnist Marc J. Spears immediately made his picks for the ten must-see matchups of the forthcoming season, giving hoop fans the dates he believes most merit circling on the brand new NBA calendar. While we would by no means presume to contradict our colleague, in a slate this huge, there’s bound to be a slew of different video games value keeping track of, so why not dig a bit deeper?

Eric Freeman has discovered 10 he liked in each of the past two seasons, and this 12 months, he is invited Dan Devine along to pick a number of he is keen to look at. Here’s what they came up with:

***

Denver Nuggets at Sacramento Kings: Oct. 30. When the Kings final played in mid-April, their future was unsure, with the NBA’s Board of Governors but to weigh in on their potential sale to the Seattle-based ownership group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer. Might’s decision and subsequent sale to the local group headed by Vivek Ranadivé has saved the group in Sacramento, as well as given your complete franchise new hope after several years of subpar management from Joe and Gavin Maloof. It is a new day for the team and its fans.

The last few years have seen passionate assist from devoted Kings followers on game nights when it appeared as if the franchise was close to relocation. This season’s residence opener can be a different, an event outlined not a lot by desperation as the pride and optimism that comes with a fresh begin. It will likely be a starting, not the potential finish of a protracted journey. — Eric Freeman

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder: Nov. 1. As I wrote earlier this offseason, I am not totally sure that bringing in/again Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, Corey Brewer and first-spherical choose Shabazz Muhammad (especially while subtracting Andrei Kirilenko) will make the Wolves a demonstrably better basketball team this season. I do, nonetheless, assume those acquisitions will assist make Minnesota a greater offensive workforce, especially when mixed with a completely healthy (fingers crossed) Kevin Love, a version of Ricky Rubio who’s had a full NBA offseason with out rehabbing from a catastrophic knee injury and (provided this glacial contract course of ultimately culminates in a re-signing) a healthy, rested and paid Nikola Pekovic.

I think that Minnesota team will be, if not glorious, then not less than immensely watchable on a night-to-evening foundation because of improved outdoors capturing, punishing inside-out play from Love and Pekovic, the always-appointment-viewing passing of Rubio and a new slew of active wings capable of activating offense in Rick Adelman’s nook scheme. I’m additionally willing to consider the chance that they will be better than I anticipate defensively, as they were in 2011-12 earlier than Rubio’s torn ACL despatched the team careening off the trail. At worst, they’re going to be fun; at greatest, they could be a risk. So let’s line them up against perhaps one of the best team within the Western Conference — a group led by Love’s Team USA buddy, Kevin Durant, and whose second-in-command, Russell Westbrook, is on observe to be back from the knee injury he suffered through the playoffs — and see which path these Wolves are on.

Also, I bear in mind this happening:

… and, seeing the prospect of early-season well being for all involved, I am very amped. — Dan Devine

Detroit Pistons vs. Washington Wizards: Oct. 30 (Opening Night), Dec. 28, Dec. 30, Jan. 18. At first look, this is the kind of mid-profile sport that pops up on the NBA schedule each night time, a nondescript contest between two playoff hopefuls with comparatively small margins of error (and injury). But, from one other vantage, it is a matchup that makes League Go the most effective bargains in your cable company’s order form.

This offseason, the Pistons dedicated themselves to watchability after several seasons within the aesthetic doldrums, acquiring level guard Brandon Jennings and mercurial ahead Josh Smith to affix man-youngster Andre Drummond and the skilled Greg Monroe. The Wizards, alternatively, have probably the most promising younger trios within the league in max-level point guard John Wall, capturing guard Bradley Beal, and rookie ahead Otto Porter. Their 4 matchups this season could not qualify as main games between contenders, however they provide startling potential for the random leisure that makes the NBA so watchable on a nightly basis. — EF

Andrew Bynum’s return to Philly must be fascinating. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Photographs) Philadelphia 76ers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nov. 8 and Nov. 9. A home-and-residence, back-to-back, Friday-and-Saturday pair that includes the staff that simply signed growth/bust lottery ticket Andrew Bynum and the group whose new CEO just needed to apologize for the previous regime buying and selling for him feels like a pretty closely emotional and compelling set. Plus, the double-dip takes place early sufficient in the season that Philadelphia can neither be mathematically eliminated from anything yet or do too much harm to their tanking strategy by winning, so they may find some compelling incentive to attempt to win. Sincere(ish) competition!

If Bynum is, as planned, able to go for training camp and capable of stay upright/cellular by way of the beginning of the season — hey, it’s nonetheless the offseason, let’s stay optimistic — this might represent the first opportunity for Sixers fans to really see the 7-foot center play stay skilled basketball, which the Wells Fargo Heart devoted will likely reward with either polite applause or hurled hunks of jagged, flaming particles. It is unlikely that eventual centerpiece/2013 lottery choose Nerlens Noel can have returned from rehabbing his torn ACL in time to do something more than watch this one from the sidelines, however even when that is all he does, as we discovered last year, there’s fun available simply watching an apparently coiffed big man trip the pine for Philly.

Also, in on-courtroom terms, it ought to be fun to see which weapons All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving brings out to combat Sixers rookie Michael Carter-Williams, whose 6-foot-6 body and quickness suggest an intriguing defensive prospect. My guess? Whichever weapons Kyrie desires, early, typically and repeatedly, persevering with a brutal starting to the Syracuse product’s NBA career that will see him face the Miami Heat, then need to examine Irving twice, John Wall twice, Derrick Rose (hopefully), Stephen Curry and Tony Parker inside his first two weeks as a professional. Welcome to the NBA, younger fella. — DD

Houston Rockets at Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder: Dec. 29. The James Harden trade is certain to define any matchup between these teams for the following a number of seasons, or a minimum of so long as it represents the moment at which the Thunder inadvertently turned a rival right into a contender while concurrently hurting their very own possibilities at a title. Despite no matter occasions received them up to now, though, these two groups figure to be two of the West’s top groups for the foreseeable future, longer than the aging (if also ageless) San Antonio Spurs, the Chris Paul-dependent Los Angeles Clippers, and the more tenuously successful Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies. Each rosters function young-ish stars with room to develop (or, in the case of Dwight Howard, return to prominence), and their general managers appear to have sufficient flexibility to improve their groups when vital.

The Harden trade, then, is nearly a distraction from the instant pleasure of watching two exciting, superb groups play each other several instances per season. The season’s first matchup ought to remind us that each one our chatter about storylines exists to organize us for what really issues: the video games. — EF

Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors: Dec. thirteen. Two seasons in the past, these teams finished in the draft lottery. Final season, they climbed up into the Western Convention’s top eight behind the electrical guard play of James Harden and Stephen Curry, with Houston giving the (shorthanded) Thunder a rough go of it in Spherical 1 and the Dubs turning into postseason individuals’s champs by knocking off the Denver Nuggets and scaring the daylights out of the San Antonio Spurs. This season, they’ve made arguably the 2 largest pickups of the offseason, particularly on the defensive finish, with the Rockets landing All-Star heart Dwight Howard to anchor the interior and the Warriors executing a 3-group sign-and-trade to import Andre Iguodala to lock down the perimeter. (And lest we overlook, the Warriors had been one of many few teams granted a free-agent audience with Howard, who reportedly came away very impressed with Golden State’s workers and group.)

Both ranked in the prime five in possessions per game last season, so they like to rise up and down the ground. Both ranked within the prime 11 in points per possession, too, in order that they know what to do with the ball as soon as they cross half-courtroom. They both seem to have improved across the board, supplementing their major acquisitions with smart lower-key add-ons that seem to have bolstered their benches and neatly fleshed out their rotations. And their 4 conferences last season were bookended by Houston hanging 140 on the Warriors earlier than Mark Jackson ordered intentional fouls to keep the Rockets from setting an NBA record for made three-pointers, and Curry going off for 29 points and eleven dimes as Golden State blew Houston out by 30. Draymond Green says he doesn’t like the Rockets; the sensation, we’re certain, is mutual, and I’m betting Howard hasn’t forgotten that stray elbow from Golden State energy forward David Lee while Dwight was carrying purple and gold.

Add up the scoring, the speed, the sparks that have flown between the two groups and the inimitable spirit of the Oracle followers, and I am betting that Friday night matchup’s going to be value staying house to catch. — DD

Expect Andrew Wiggins to be a significant matter of dialog in 2014. (Sam Forencich/Getty)

Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic: March 2. Although much is subject to alter over the subsequent 10 months, the 2014 NBA draft seems to be the strongest on the prime since Greg Oden and Kevin Durant entered the league in 2007. It figures, then, that the league’s worst teams will interact in a similar rush to the underside to increase their lottery odds, all in the hopes of nabbing a future famous person in June.

The Sixers and Magic aren’t certain to end up as the NBA’s backside two squads in 2013-14, however they’re likely to challenge for the league’s dunce cap. As such, their closing matchup in March may have a big impact on the lottery, and by extension the next decade of basketball. (Or, you understand, possibly the team with the second decide will find yourself with the far better participant.) — EF

New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Path Blazers: Dec. 21. If not for the Pistons, the Pelicans might need entered the season as the league’s most intriguing group. A lottery squad in each of the final two seasons after Chris Paul’s departure, the Pelicans elected to make a push for respectability next 12 months by trading its prime picks in 2013 (which wound up being Kentucky middle Noel) and 2014 (a high-5 protected choice) to the 76ers for All-Star level guard Jrue Holiday. They then engineered a 3-team deal to import former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, with visions of versatile wing lineups featuring some mixture of these two, reportedly-now-healthy maxed-out shooting guard Eric Gordon and 2012 first-rounder Austin Rivers making issues occur on the perimeter, opening up opportunities for emerging beast Anthony Davis and flooring-stretching marksman Ryan Anderson.. offered, in fact, all of it comes collectively.

Quiet as it’s saved, though, the Blazers (who’ve also missed the playoffs in each of the final two seasons) have made an identical push toward relevance, drafting exciting small-faculty combo guard C.J. McCollum to both pair with and again up reigning Rookie of the Yr Damian Lillard, and making a number of shrewd strikes (signing swingman Dorell Wright, snaring 2011 lottery choose Thomas Robinson for a pair of second-round picks, landing middle Robin Lopez within the three-teamer that despatched Evans to New Orleans) that seem to have fortified what was arguably the league’s worst bench final season.. supplied, in fact, it all comes collectively.

By the time these teams meet at the Rose Backyard, Portland will have performed 27 games and New Orleans could have performed 24. They will have had nearly three months because the begin of coaching camp to have labored out rotations, began to develop chemistry amongst all the brand new and current items, and have had the opportunity to figure out whether their respective pushes towards capital-m Mattering in the NBA playoff conversation seem ready to take off or have stalled, which is interesting sufficient in a macro sense. And from an instantaneous run-of-play perspective, the sheer array of interesting combine-and-match talents on the ground — Davis’ awkward-yet-easy apositional frontcourt box-checking, LaMarcus Aldridge’s considerably Boshian 4/5 bristling, extra ball-dealing with guards who can play the nominal one or two than you would shake a stick at, outsized threes/small-ball fours Nicolas Batum and Al-Farouq Aminu, and so forth. — to make this a enjoyable watch in and of itself that might wind up telling us one thing more about the Western playoff picture.

And if all that does not tickle your fancy, I’ve acquired 4 words for you: Robin Lopez Revenge Sport. — DD

Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks: April 16. The final evening of the 2012-13 season featured an excessive amount of excitement, with Stephen Curry setting a brand new file for 3-pointers in a season, the Los Angeles Lakers avoiding embarrassment and clinching a playoff berth, and Sacramento Kings fans doubtlessly watching their workforce for the final time. Solely time will tell what 2013-14’s finale brings, but we can bet it’s going to be magical.

One thing we do know, not less than as of this writing, is that a national TELEVISION viewers will get to benefit from the season-closing tilt between the Hawks and Bucks on ESPN. It appears as though the Worldwide Chief has banked on these squads battling for a playoff spot, and it sure looks like a doozy. Will Jeff Teague rating 20 points and switch the tide in a number of fantasy leagues? Will Ersan Ilyasova take a nap in the course of the third quarter? Will Al Horford and Paul Millsap even have to play? Keep tuned for “SportsCenter!” — EF

When Rudy returns to Memphis, neither he nor Z-Bo figure to be smiling. (Joe Murphy/NBA/Getty Photographs) Toronto Raptors at Memphis Grizzlies: Nov. thirteen. The Raptors and Grizzlies faced off once last season after the trade that despatched Rudy Gay north of the border, but the meeting took place at the Air Canada Centre — Homosexual scored 13 points on 15 pictures, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph scored 17 apiece and the Grizzlies earned a six-level highway win. It will symbolize Homosexual’s first journey to FedEx Forum as a visitor after 6 half of seasons and more than 8,500 factors scored in a Grizzlies uniform.. and yet, you surprise if Memphians really miss his iso-heavy, accuracy-light, volume-taking pictures wing sport as much as his prior level of productivity would seem to dictate.

As I’ve written prior to now, Memphis improved on each ends of the floor after the three-workforce deal that despatched Homosexual to the Raptors, redistributing the possessions beforehand utilized by the athletic swingman to more environment friendly gamers like Conley, Randolph and (most notably) Marc Gasol whereas persevering with to lock down on the defensive end en route to a visit to the Western Convention finals — a level of success they by no means reached with Homosexual playing a pivotal role. However would that method — ditch shot-jacking, unfold responsibility around, emphasize elevated participant and ball motion, operate extra via the 2 huge guys and rating just enough to let your clamp-down D take you residence — be lauded fairly as a lot as it has been if Memphis is not successful?

What if the Grizzlies — who look robust again after re-upping perimeter defending ace Tony Allen, snaring amnestied shooter Mike Miller and trading for regular backup huge man Kosta Koufos — get off to a slow begin in opposition to a troublesome slate that includes the likes of the San Antonio Spurs, revamped Pistons, reloaded Warriors and Jap Conference doppelganger Indiana Pacers? What if Gay — his jumper instantly scorching after long-overdue offseason vision correction surgery — gets off to a sizzling begin and has Toronto wanting like they may compete for one of many East’s lower-tier playoff spots? Might those few lingering voices that take a look at Memphis and say, “It would be good to have someone who may reliably create his personal shot,” find some extra pals? Or has the Grindhouse come far enough to rest on what it is aware of about its group’s id, salute Rudy for his service and return concerning the business of not bluffing?

I suspect I do know the reply to that question, however like every part else we’re talking about right now, we won’t actually know for positive until the season gets getting in earnest; then, all of the questions we pore over during the summer time will likely be changed by entire new units of quandaries that we’ll spend the subsequent eight months attempting to solve. It’s going to be great. — DD

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Head’s up, kids: If you go to Tony Allen’s basketball camp, he *will* try to lock you up

Tony Allen picks out the following camper for one-on-one drills. (Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Photographs)

At a variety of NBA gamers’ summer basketball camps, your actual contact with said gamers might be restricted to a quick meet-and-greet, a quick high-5 and an autographed piece of memorabilia and maybe a low-key recreation of Knockout or H-O-R-S-E (or, relying on scheduling constraints, perhaps P-I-G). Effectively, as you’re probably conscious, Memphis Grizzlies capturing guard Tony Allen — who, actually, is a “shooting” guard in name only — is not like a whole lot of NBA players; he is somewhat bit totally different, in some fairly superb methods.

So when Allen brought his “Grit & Grind Basketball Camp” to Stillwater, Okla. — the place he’d starred for coach Eddie Sutton’s Oklahoma State Cowboys from 2002 by 2004, incomes Huge 12 Participant of the Yr honors as a senior — he wasn’t about to offer his younger costs simply any ol’ camp expertise. From Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

He was on the basketball court, so, naturally, Tony Allen couldn’t help himself.

Lathered in sweat, the Memphis Grizzlies’ defensive savant was going onerous, grit and grind as he calls it, blocking 10-year-olds and posting up 12-year-olds.

One kid, who dared attempt to cross up Allen at his own basketball camp — this the first ever in Stillwater — had his pocket picked in a drill, with a playful Allen trash-speaking him instantly after the steal: “First-Crew All-D, baby, First-Staff All-D.”

“I am actually catching my breath, as a result of one of the kids was fairly good,” Allen admitted after a spirited three-on-3 game. “Any time I get on the hardwood, I’m competing 110 p.c. I even fouled a kid right now. That was a little tough, however I got to win.”

If that “First-Group All-D, child” taunt sounds familiar, maybe it obtained stuck in your mind (as it did mine) when Allen broke it out after a late-game steal-and-dunk to seal a win in Recreation 2 of the Grizzlies’ Western Conference semifinals series against the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder. Here’s hoping T.A. left off the [expletive] he shared with the Chesapeake Power Enviornment faithful after ripping the young ball-handler.

While I love the catchphrases which have come to define the Grizzlies’ onerous-nosed, defense-first squad over the past several seasons — the immortal “All coronary heart. Grit, grind” that provides Allen’s camp its name, Zach Randolph’s towel- and anthem-inspiring “We don’t bluff”, and so on. — it’s form of a bummer that they exist already and are locked into the hoops lexicon. I imply, “I even fouled a child today” is mainly a superbly Grizzly thing to say, and but it will never reach the highest of the team’s slogan charts. Oh, well. I assume that is the value Allen and the Grizzlies pay for being awesome.

Everything about this feels 100% acceptable and right. An unwavering commitment to defense has made Allen a priceless NBA commodity; an unwavering commitment to the identification-defining, community-building persona that goes along with that on-court work has made Allen someone whom the Grizzlies eagerly paid $20 million for the next four years. His willingness to go all out all the time is what’s made him matter — why wouldn’t it make him an superior camp counselor?

Now that this is out, although, I might must think about that each camper who’s feeling him/herself goes to come after Allen, trying to shake him one-on-one. And I’ve a difficult time imagining any NBA player who’d be extra eager to simply accept that challenge than “The Grindfather.”

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Mike Miller will sign with the Memphis Grizzlies, according to reports

Mike Miller cannot wait to get back in a teal-accented jersey (Joe Murphy/ Getty).

In three seasons with the Miami Heat, wing Mike Miller provided meaningful postseason contributions to the two-time champions, solidifying his reputation as a valuable veteran. When the Heat used the NBA’s amnesty provision on Miller last week to lessen their luxury tax burden, Miller became one of the most sought-after players on the market for teams with plans to contend for a title.

Early reports suggested that Miller would sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but those plans appear to have fallen apart. As first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.com and later confirmed by Sam Amick of USA Today, Miller has told the Memphis Grizzlies that he will join them for the 2013-14 season and possibly beyond. Terms are not yet known, although the Grizzlies still have their full mid-level exception of $5.15 million and are less than $3 million under the luxury tax threshold. Miller also played for Memphis over six seasons from 2003 to 2008.

Miller should add some much-needed versatility to the Grizzlies’ wing rotation. While they have several excellent wing defenders who fit with their identity as a smashmouth, grit-and-grind outfit, the Grizzlies occasionally suffer from a lack of perimeter scoring and adequate spacing — particularly against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, when defenders made a habit of sloughing off Tony Allen and collapsing into the paint — and needed to add shooters this offseason. Miller made a habit of hitting big shots for the Heat in the postseason and could continue that practice with Memphis. In 2012-13, Miller hit 41.7 percent from beyond the arc in 51 regular season games and 44.4 percent in the postseason.

The worry with Miller is if he’ll be able to stay on the court. At 33 years old, he has suffered from many injuries over his 13 seasons and hasn’t played 60 or more games since 2008-09. The Grizzlies wanted Miller for what he can do in the playoffs, but it’s entirely possible that injuries will keep him from participating.

But that’s a risk worth taking. In a crowded field at the top of the West, secondary additions like this one could end up making big differences next spring. Miller is a proven contributor with a sorely needed skill, and his addition brings the added bonus of ensuring that other teams in the West won’t be able to enjoy his services. Miller wasn’t one of the biggest free agents on the market this summer, but he could have an outsized impact on the playoffs.

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Free-agent roundup: Nets fill out the bench, Bucks bring back Delfino, Garcia stays in Houston, etc.

Bojan Bogdanovic (dunking) and Shaun Livingston are Brooklyn-bound. (NBAE/Getty Images)

There’s been plenty of free-agent activity since Dwight Howard made his decision late Friday to join the Houston Rockets, with point guard Jose Calderon heading south to Dallas, Chris Kaman leaving Texas in favor of sunny SoCal and a slew of other agreements that Our Fearless Leader broke down earlier Monday.

(“Agreements,” it should be noted, but not signings. No deal can be made official until after the July 10 end of the league’s annual moratorium on trades and signings.)

Let’s take a look at some of the other roster-building work teams have done over the past few days, starting in my hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y.

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• The Brooklyn Nets agreed to a three-year deal with 2011 second-round draft pick Bojan Bogdanovic and a one-year contract with veteran point guard Shaun Livingston, according to Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski.

Tim Bontemps of the New York Post reports that Bogdanovic, 24, will receive about $2.5 million of the Nets’ taxpayer midlevel exception, which starts at just under $3.2 million this season. Livingston’s deal is for the veteran’s minimum of just under $1.3 million, although he’ll only count on the cap for a shade under $900,000, thanks to the same wrinkle that chops down the Nets’ cap charge for Andray Blatche. (I explained that here.)

The Nets turned their attention to bringing Bogdanovic over from Turkey, where he’s spent the last two seasons playing for Euroleague side Fenerbahçe Ülker, once it became clear that they weren’t going to be able to secure the services of Kyle Korver, who wound up receiving nearly twice the mini-MLE to stay with the Atlanta Hawks. He might not be on the order of Korver (few are) but according to the crew at Euroleague Adventures, the 6-foot-7 Bogdanovic profiles as a legitimate long-range bomber who hit 40.5 percent of his 3-pointers in Euroleague play and 38 percent in Turkish League games for Fenerbahçe this season, and who’s got enough creativity off the bounce to be able to make opponents pay for reckless closeouts.

Now, Nets fans might find themselves feeling a little bit of déjà vu at that description after hearing similar praise of the floor-spacing marksmanship of Mirza Teletovic last summer. As you might remember, the Bosnian forward/Euroleague scorer couldn’t crack the rotations of Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo, averaging less than 10 minutes a game in just 54 total appearances. But whereas Teletovic had Reggie Evans, Kris Humphries and (in small-ball lineups) Gerald Wallace ahead of him for minutes at the four, Bogdanovic looks to have a prime opportunity to earn burn behind starters Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson for a Nets team that looks thin on the wing if he can impress new head coach Jason Kidd. If he struggles in both knocking down perimeter looks and adjusting to playing defense stateside, though, he might wind up spending lots of time giving pounds to the Nets’ coaches on the bench.

Seemingly decades removed from the days when he was considered the next big thing at the point, Livingston comes along for the ride, basically, to provide enough veteran insurance behind Deron Williams to ensure that Kidd and company only have to rely on second-year triggerman Tyshawn Taylor in case of emergency.

The Nets will be the seventh stop in the last six years for the 27-year-old Livingston, who had his promising future as the leader of the Los Angeles Clippers scuttled by one of the more vicious knee injuries you’ll ever see, but has come back to forge a nice career as a steady lead guard (averaging about 2.2 assists for every turnover over the last half-dozen seasons) who uses his 6-foot-7 frame, long arms and active hands to help out on the glass and in disrupting things on the defensive end (four rebounds and about two combined steals/blocks per 36 minutes last season). He was also a net positive working off the ball as a two-guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers last year, which could offer Kidd some flexibility to use mix-and-match Livingston alongside Williams or Taylor in breather-ensuring lineups in which he could share ball-handling responsibility with a playmaking wing like Pierce or Johnson.

Livingston’s a downgrade at the position from C.J. Watson, who’ll leave Brooklyn come Wednesday to sign with the Indiana Pacers, and you don’t want to rely on playing Shaun off the ball much — he’s never been able to shoot a lick from outside. Still, though, finding an experienced backup who can fill a couple of gaps for the minimum represents a nice roster-completing pickup for a team that did its heavy lifting on draft night.

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• Carlos Delfino will return to the Milwaukee Bucks on a two-year deal worth $6.5 million, according to Wojnarowski, with a team option for Year 3 that would reportedly increase the total value of the Argentinian shooter’s deal to as much as $10 million.

Carlos Delfino rises and fires. He does that a lot. (Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE/Getty Images) This one kind of stings for the Rockets, who waived Delfino just before the start of free agency to help create enough cap space to offer Dwight Howard a max-level contract but really liked what the 30-year-old veteran offered last season — which, mostly, was shooting. Daryl Morey paid Delfino to jack it up from beyond the arc, and that’s exactly what he did, averaging a whopping nine 3-point attempts per 36 minutes of floor time and hitting at a 37.5 percent clip.

The 6-foot-6 swingman isn’t a very good defender, but he’s a feisty and at-times opportunistic one who’s averaged about a steal and a half per-36 over the course of his eight-year NBA career. He’s capable of helping on the boards off the wing, isn’t an especially gifted playmaker and doesn’t offer a ton offensively beyond 3-point shooting, but reliable perimeter shotmaking remains quite valuable in today’s NBA and isn’t too bad a way to spend a little bit more than the mini-midlevel exception.

That said, it seems weird that the Bucks are the ones paying him. Yes, they needed shooting and wing production after letting Mike Dunleavy head south to the Chicago Bulls, and yes, Delfino’s got history with the Bucks organization after spending three years there before heading to Houston. But for a team like Milwaukee that seems to lack a coherent plan or clear direction, paying Delfino to hoist triples on unlikely-to-be-competitive teams until he’s 34 doesn’t feel like it makes a ton of sense. Then again, a veteran shooter on a short-money deal could be a flippable asset at the trade deadline this season or next, and it seems like it’ll be fun to watch Delfino and Zaza Pachulia argue over whose head is biggest. That’s a win, I suppose.

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• The Houston Rockets will re-sign swingman Francisco Garcia to a two-year contract worth $2.6 million, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. You’ve got to like Garcia returning to Houston, if only for the value of the deal.

Retaining Garcia on the cheap is a win for the Rockets. (Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty Images) Yes, he’ll turn 32 in December, but he’s a versatile wing who can shoot — just a touch above 36 percent from 3-point range for his career, but he’s shot league-average or better from deep in five of his eight NBA seasons and is a career 39.4 percent shooter from the corners — and defend some, as he showed during the Rockets’ postseason matchup against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he’ll actually be taking about a $5 million pay-cut from the $6.4 million he’d have made had Houston picked up its team option on the final year of his contract.

They didn’t, because they had to squeeze every ounce of available cap space they could to make the Howard offer. But Garcia digs the team, the organization and the recent acquisition enough to stick around despite getting stuck. I’m not real high at all on Houston picking up Omri Casspi — if, as Woj reported, the Rockets like Casspi’s shooting, they’re looking at a different guy than one who’s put up the 42/35/66 career shooting splits we’ve seen. But bringing back Garcia at such a friendly number ought to help cushion the blow of losing Delfino’s floor-spacing on the wing.

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• The Denver Nuggets and free-agent forward/center J.J. Hickson agreed to terms on a three-year contract worth $15 million, according to Wojnarowski. I don’t really get this one, to be honest.

On its face, $5 million per year doesn’t seem like a ton for a 24-year-old guy who made 80 starts in the middle for the Blazers and averaged a double-double last season while posting top-10 finishes in field-goal percentage, effective field-goal percentage (which accounts for 3-pointers being worth more than 2-pointers), as well as all three varieties (offensive, defensive and total) of rebounding percentage, which measures how big a share of available misses you grab. In fact, it kind of seems like a steal.. until you remember that while Hickson’s rebounding numbers were impressive, Portland’s as a team actually went down while he was on the floor, suggesting that rather than increasing the number of caroms the Blazers hoovered, he was actually taking a lot away from his teammates.

J.J. Hickson might be an odd fit in Denver. (Cameron Browne/NBAE/Getty Images) And that Portland scored more points per 100 possessions and allowed fewer points-per-100 when he sat than when he played last year, according to NBA.com’s stat tool. And that Portland gave up more points in the paint per game than any other team last season, that Neil Olshey and company have been actively seeking an upgrade at the five for a while. And that despite an absence of gaudy numbers, recently imported Robin Lopez is widely considered to actually be such an upgrade because, when you get right down to it, J.J. Hickson is really a power forward who’s been miscast as a center for the past few seasons.

And then you remember that the Nuggets already had JaVale McGee, Kenneth Faried, recently acquired Darrell Arthur and Anthony Randolph in the frontcourt.. and that they just lost Andre Iguodala, could soon lose Corey Brewer and could be without a rehabilitating Danilo Gallinari for a chunk of next season.. and that Denver seems to be relying a lot on sophomore-to-be Evan Fournier and new Nugget Randy Foye at the two.. and you kind of wonder whether a backup four/five who doesn’t make you better defensively is the best way that Tim Connelly and company could have spent $5 million a year, even if that seems like a fair rate for Hickson’s box-score production.

Maybe new head coach Brian Shaw can find ways to mask Hickson’s defensive deficiencies and maximize his effectiveness in the screen game and as a finisher/board-crasher, but this feels like something of a miss in an offseason full of them for Denver.

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• The Charlotte Bobcats agreed to terms on a two-year, $6 million deal with free-agent forward Josh McRoberts, according to Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Marc J. Spears.

Josh McRoberts looks to facilitate from up top for the ‘Cats. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images) When McRoberts joined the Bobcats in a sleepy 2012-13 trade deadline deal that sent Hakim Warrick to the Orlando Magic, the expectation was that the swap would amount to nothing much at all beyond Orlando waiving Warrick (which happened in short order) and McRoberts continuing to underwhelm except for an occasional alley-oop finish. The noted Charlie Day-lookalike showed flashes in Charlotte, though, sopping up the somebody’s-got-to-play-them minutes for the circling-the-drain ‘Cats (just under 31 minutes per game in 26 appearances, including 19 starts) and making a little something out of them, averaging about nine points, seven boards and three assists per contest.

He’s not Chris Webber or Brad Miller or anything, but the 6-foot-10 forward’s got good vision and a willingness to facilitate when operating out of the high post, which would figure to pair well with recent signee Al Jefferson, who’ll be living on Charlotte’s left block for the next two to three seasons. Ditto for incumbent big man Bismack Biyombo, who needs to stay pretty close to the basket to be able to do much of anything other than screen-setting, or rookie Cody Zeller, who will probably benefit from a bit of cleverness in helping him find looks in the half-court. Mini-midlevel-ish money for the possibility of average reserve production and keep-things-moving passing seems like a win for a Bobcats team that just overpaid massively in the Jefferson deal.

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• The New Orleans Pelicans will bring back small forward Al-Farouq Aminu on a one-year, $3.7 million contract, according to Wojnarowski. Aminu, for his part, sounds stoked.

Al-Farouq Aminu has very long arms. (Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE/Getty Images) Three years into an NBA career that began as a lottery pick of the Los Angeles Clippers, Aminu might just be what he is — a long (6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3-1/4-inch wingspan) defensive-minded small forward who’s an elite rebounder for his position, really only generates offense as a finisher in transition or by attacking the glass, and can’t shoot from outside (27.2 percent beyond 10 feet last season) to save his life. Even if that’s all he is, there’s definitely value to that — players who can defend multiple positions and make contributions without needing the ball matter, especially for a Pelicans team that figures to feature a lot of multi-guard lineups including ball-dominating guards Eric Gordon, draft-night acquisition Jrue Holiday and restricted free-agent target Tyreke Evans.

How much the Pelicans improve this season will depend much more on what kind of leap Anthony Davis makes from Year 1 to Year 2 and on the health/productivity of that reconfigured backcourt than on anything Aminu provides. But considering the paucity of small-forward types on the Pelicans’ roster — and the fact that New Orleans was 7.7 points per 100 possessions better with Aminu on the floor last season than when he was off it, according to NBA.com’s stat tool — paying less than $4 million to see if the still-only-22-year-old Wake Forest product still has some room to grow makes sense.

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• The Atlanta Hawks and free-agent forward DeMarre Carroll agreed to terms, according to Woj and Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports. Carroll will sign a two-year deal worth $5 million, according to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger.

To a certain extent, Carroll and Aminu work the same side of the street, as wing players whose primary contributions come in the form of attentive and aggressive (if not always fruitful) perimeter defense and rebounding, who derive most of their offensive value as board-crashers and transition lane-fillers, and who can’t reliably handle or shoot the ball or create their own offense. While Aminu intrigues with his combination of youth, length and athleticism, though, Carroll’s a grit-grind-hustle type who would’ve made perfect cultural sense had he stayed with the Memphis Grizzlies beyond the early stages of his sophomore season.

DeMarre Carroll and Atlanta will be happy with each other. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) He’s bounced around a bit, however, shipping off to Houston with Hasheem Thabeet to bring back Shane Battier before being waived, briefly catching on with the Denver Nuggets and ultimately finding a home with the Jazz as a fill-in-the-blanks guy whose value rarely comes through in the box score. Well, that’s not 100 percent true — Salt City Hoops’ Andy Larsen cites how infrequently Carroll turns the ball over, especially in comparison with how often he causes or aids in the creation of turnovers, as well as his “eye-popping” offensive rebounding, as proof that the 26-year-old Missouri product understands the value of both extending his team’s offensive possessions and curtailing the opponents’.

That also shines through in Carroll’s on/off-court numbers, available via NBA.com’s stat tool. The Jazz outscored opponents by 5.4 points per 100 possessions when Carroll played last season, and were outscored by 3.1-per-100 when he sat. That’s an 8 1/2-point-per-100 swing, equivalent to the difference between an elite team (say, the Miami Heat) and a just-above-average one (the Brooklyn Nets) or between an average one (the Chicago Bulls) and the least-efficient teams in the league (somewhere between the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Bobcats).

Now, that doesn’t mean Carroll’s going to be the difference between the Hawks being a lower-tier Eastern playoff possibility and a fierce contender to be feared. But it suggests there’s demonstrable value in the hard-working, hustling, mistake-limiting game Carroll plays, and for $2.5 million a year through age 28, he figures to be a very nice addition to new head coach Mike Budenholzer’s team as a backup small forward. And if Danny Ferry finds a deal he’d like that could benefit from the inclusion of Carroll as ballast, there aren’t likely to be too many rival executives unhappy with the idea of importing a solid, inexpensive citizen known for working his tail off, either.

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• The San Antonio Spurs have agreed to terms with former Indiana Pacers forward Jeff Pendergraph, per Wojnarowski. The deal’s believed to be worth $4 million over two seasons, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News.

To the extent non-Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers and Arizona State Sun Devils fans remember Pendergraph, it might be because he was the dude who got into a weird scuffle with Heat guard Norris Cole at the very end of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals that resulted in Flo Rida’s manager getting ejected from AmericanAirlines Arena. Pretty great claim to fame, huh?

Over the course of the past couple of seasons, the 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward has profiled as a solid per-minute rebounder (especially on the defensive glass) and he showcased a somewhat improved jumper last season (40 percent from outside 10 feet). But he turned the ball on 14.5 percent of his touches (league-average for forwards last year was 11.2 percent, per Hoopdata) and it’s worth remembering there’s a reason that Frank Vogel basically never went to the end of the bench Pendergraph occupied. Pendergraph will likely grab the minutes that belonged to DeJuan Blair last season, offering a bit more on the defensive end and a bit less on the offensive end, and make a little more money that he might be worth to do so.

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• The Portland Trail Blazers and free-agent point guard Earl Watson agreed to terms on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract, according to Woj.

Watson’s a respected veteran who’s been around the league a long time; his presence should benefit the young guard tandem of Damian Lillard and rookie C.J. McCollum, around whom the Blazers will be building their teams for years to come. That said, Watson was very bad for the Jazz last season, shooting just under 31 percent from the floor and not even cracking 18 percent from 3-point range. (On the bright side, he almost never shoots, taking just 5.2 field-goal attempts per 36 minutes of playing time.) He’s still a capable facilitator, managing four dimes a game in a tick over 17 minutes per contest for Utah, but the 12-year vet’s also become looser with the ball as he’s grown older, coughing it up on more than a third of the possessions he used last season.

Getting a pass-first type for the bargain-basement minimum isn’t the worst thing in the world. Considering Watson’s glaring limitations on both ends of the floor, though, him playing more than spot or mop-up minutes might not be far off for the Blazers.

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Tony Allen’s ‘back on [his] / Grizzly,’ returning to Memphis on a 4-year, $20 million deal

Flex on ‘em, Tony. You’ve earned it. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

If you’re reading us, you probably already know that Tony Allen’s really good at Twitter. Well, “really good” in a “randomly stringing together letters, vowel sounds and half-sentences to create something akin to stream-of-consciousness refrigerator poetry” sort of way.. which is to say, a very legitimate sort of way, indeed.

So it came as no surprise when, just after Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal and Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that the two-time All-Defensive First Team shooting guard had reached agreement on a $20 million deal to remain the all-grit, all-grind heart of the Memphis Grizzlies, Allen dropped a fitting microblogging opening salvo:

He quickly finished that thought, expressing gratitude for his state of affairs and the interest shown him in free agency by the Milwaukee Bucks and head coach Larry Drew, before putting a perfect bow on the signing:

Yes, Tony, you most certainly are. And that seems like a good thing for Memphis, and a pretty fair deal for both sides.

OK, first, the big caveats, from where I sit:

Offense. One of the big problems that reared its head during the Grizzlies’ four-game Western Conference finals sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs was an ugly lack of reliable long-range shooting beyond emerging small forward Quincy Pondexter. Without multiple wings who could make San Antonio’s perimeter defenders pay for sagging off them at the arc, the Spurs were able to devote much more attention to disrupting big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol by clogging lanes for entry passes to establish them in the post, swiping down with quick double-teams when they started to make moves, and getting extra arms and legs in the way to deter bull-rushes to the basket. They were able to do this, in part, because they weren’t the least bit concerned about Allen hurting them from the perimeter.

Allen basically never shoots 3-pointers, having attempted only 105 in 309 games over the past five seasons; considering he’s a well-below-average 26.9 percent career shooter from beyond the arc, this is actually some pretty decent knowledge of self (determination), but it’s also something that 29 other NBA teams know, too. The unreliable jumper travels inside the arc, too; Allen’s hit more than 35 percent of his midrange shots just twice times in a nine-year NBA career, according to NBA.com’s stat tool. If the Grizzlies are going to play Allen heavy minutes at the shooting guard spot (which they are) and two proper big men heavy minutes at the four and the five (which they are), then smart defenses will continue to sink, sag and dare.

Age. Allen will turn 32 about 2 1/2 months into next season, and will now be on the books to make a fully guaranteed amount reported to be $5.5 million at age 35 during the 2016-17 season. For a player who derives an awful lot of his value from the athleticism and lateral quickness necessary to stay with and lock up hiccup-quick perimeter scorers, who has had surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his left knee (albeit all the way back in 2007) and who has at times suffered through other nagging knee and groin injuries over the past couple of seasons, that’s a bit scary.

Beyond that, though.. I mean, Tony Allen kind of is the Memphis Grizzlies. He might not produce a ton of offensive value from the two-guard spot, but he routinely limits his wing opposition to at least an equal degree, and whose 6-foot-4 frame and 6-foot-9 wingspan makes him the dampening agent of choice for opponents ranging from Chris Paul and Tony Parker to Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.

Not only does he work his tail off to deny the ball, fight through screens and contest every shot he can, but he also does so without fouling at obscene rates, averaging fewer than four personals per 36 minutes in each of his three seasons in Tennessee despite checking the other team’s best scorer every night. And while his offensive limitations are what they are at this point, he’s become much more adept over the years at using the disrespect he receives to his advantage, becoming a better off-ball cutter behind sleeping defenders and a very active helper for the likes of Randolph and Gasol on the offensive glass.

He does what he can with the skill-set he’s got on the offensive end and everything he can to take away the skill-set you’ve got on the other end, and he does it all with something between a snarl and a smile. He’s got a very legitimate claim to the title of “Best Perimeter Defender in the World (Non-LeBron James Division)” and has (along with Gasol) been the linchpin of a defensive juggernaut that has finished eighth, seventh and second in the NBA in points allowed per possession over his three seasons in Memphis. He totally owns the role of The Grindfather of The Grindhouse in a way that it’s hard to envision any other player really matching.

Sure, the Grizzlies would benefit from a shooting guard who could, y’know, shoot. But wing players with sweet strokes seem to be getting sweeter deals this offseason — Kevin Martin got four years and $28 million from a Minnesota Timberwolves team that will also pay Chase Budinger more than $5 million a year, J.J. Redick’s getting four years and $27 million from the Los Angeles Clippers, Martell Webster’s getting four years and $22 million from the Washington Wizards — and it’d remain an open question whether the offensive gains would outweigh the defensive losses of subtracting an all-world perimeter hound.

If you’ve got to choose between the devil you know will take a little bit less money and the devil you don’t know will help you maintain the identity you’ve built, the former seems like a comparatively sound bet, which is why Allen’s back on his / Grizzly. Thank goodness for that.