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NBA Predictions Week 3 Wednesday Night Games Preview /Picks

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NBA Predictions and free picks for week 3

 

NBA Wednesday night is packed with 13 games on the schedule. Below is a quick preview with the latest lines spread and my prediction for each game. As the odds constantly change, remember to check back here at Wonder Punter for the latest spread up until tip-off.

 

Good Luck!

 

Wednesday Nov. 20

 

Toronto Raptors (4-7) @ Philadelphia 76ers (5-7) 11/20- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: TOR -3.5

Over/Under: 200.5

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Both teams are in a two-game skid…. Raptors in a win on the road.

 

PICK: Toronto

 

Miami Heat (7-3) @ Orlando Magic (4-6) 11/20- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: MIA -8.0

Over/Under: 199.5

 

Heat playing in a second in two nights, but should still be able to come away with the ‘W.’
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PICK: Miami

 

Indiana Pacers (9-1) @ New York Knicks (3-6) 11/20- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: IND -4.5

Over/Under: 191.5

 

Knicks are a mess right now and Carmelo is frustrated. The second of two in two nights for NY against the NBA’s best.

 

PICK: Indiana

 

Brooklyn Nets (3-7) @ Charlotte Bobcats (5-6) 11/20- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: BRK -3.5

Over/Under: 184.5

 

Nets hit by injuries, but I like them in this one.

 

PICK: Brooklyn

 

Washington Wizards (2-7) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (4-7) 11/20- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: CLE 1.5

Over/Under: 195.5

 

Disappointing start for the Wizards so far… and on the road for this one.

 

PICK: Cleveland

 

Detroit Pistons (3-6) @ Atlanta Hawks (6-4) 11/20- 7:30PM EST

 

Line: ATL -5.0

Over/Under: 204.5

 

Back-to-back games for both teams but Hawks at home for this one.

 

PICK: Atlanta

 

Utah Jazz (1-11) @ New Orleans Pelicans (4-6) 11/20- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: NOR -8.0

Over/Under: 202

 

Pelicans will be well rested for the Jazz who begin a road trip.

 

PICK: New Orleans

 

Portland Trailblazers (9-2) @ Milwaukee Bucks (2-7) 11/20- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: POR -4.0

Over/Under: 202

 

Bucks without two of their best players and Blazers playing well.

 

PICK: Portland

 

Los Angeles Clippers (7-4) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (7-4) 11/20- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: LAC -1.5

Over/Under: 212.5

 

T’Wolves in a second of a back-to-back. At home but edge to Clips.

 

PICK: LAC

 

Boston Celtics (4-7) @ San Antonio Spurs (9-1) 11/20- 8:30PM EST

 

Line: SAS -15.0

Over/Under: 191

 

Spurs will be well rested for the Celtics who play in Houston the night before.

 

PICK: San Antonio

 

Sacramento Kings (2-7) @ Phoenix Suns (5-4) 11/20- 9:00PM EST

 

Line: PHO -5.0

Over/Under: 191.5

 

A home and home for these two teams in two nights.

 

PICK: Phoenix

 

Houston Rockets (7-4) @ Dallas Mavericks (7-4) 11/20- 9:30PM EST

 

Line: DAL -4.0

Over/Under: 215.5

 

Houston in a second in a back-to-back, but short trip to Dallas. I like them in this one.

 

PICK: Houston

 

Memphis Grizzles (6-5) @ Golden State (8-3) 11/20- 10:30PM EST

 

Line: GSW

Under/Over: 195.5

 

Grizzles in the middle of a road trip against a tough Warriors team.

 

PICK: Golden State

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By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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Wonder Punter NBA Power Rankings- Week 3

NBA_PowerRankings

With just about 3 full weeks of NBA action in the books after the conclusion of Tuesday night’s games… let’s take a look the latest Power Rankings as some teams continue to surprise and others continue to fall. Indiana, the last of the unbeatens suffered their first loss at the hands of the Chicago Bulls.

 

San Antonio and Indiana are playing like the two best teams in the league while early top 10 Philadelphia is falling fast.

 

Teams 1-30 with records and last weeks rankings in parentheses are as followed:

 

1 Indiana Pacers (9-1 LW 1)- They lost to Bulls on the second of a back-to-back. Danny Granger expected back soon.

 

2 San Antonio Spurs (9-1 LW 2)- The Spurs have won 7 straight while Tim Duncan is averaging career-lows of 12 points and 39.4 percent shooting.

 

3 Miami Heat (7-3 LW 5)- LeBron James is averaging 34 points per game during the Heat’s three game win streak.

 

4 Los Angeles Clippers (7-3 LW 7)- The Clippers have won four straight while Blake Griffin is averaging a double-double with 22.9 points and 10.9 boards.

 

5 Golden State Warriors (7-3 LW 8)- Warriors have won three straight while suffering through injuries.

 

6 Minnesota Timberwolves (7-4 LW 4)- Kevin Love and Kevin Martin have formed the league’s highest scoring-duo in the season’s opening month.

 

7 Portland Trailblazers (8-2 LW 13)- One of the league’s early surprises…. the Blazers have won six straight.

 

8 Oklahoma City Thunder (6-3 LW 3)- Thunder will be looking for revenge against the Clippers on Thursday night.

 

9 Houston Rockets (7-4 LW 10)- Back up center Omer Asik wants out of Houston and has been benched the last two games since his request.

 

10 Chicago Bulls (5-3 LW 12)- Derrick Rose hits six 3’s in their big win against Indiana on Saturday night.

 

11 Dallas Mavericks (6-4 LW 11)- Mavs look to get back on track when Dwight Howard and the Rockets visit Wednesday night.

 

12 Phoenix Suns (5-4 LW 6)- Suns have dropped three straight by an average 2 points.

 

13 Atlanta Hawks (6-4 LW 17) Another early surprise team is getting it done with Al Horford, Ronnie Millsap and the return of Lou Williams.

 

14 Memphis Grizzles (5-5 LW 9)- They continue to struggle and have the Clippers and Warriors on the road coming up.

 

15 Charlotte Bobcats (5-5 LW 16)- Continue to surprise with Al Jefferson still nursing a bad ankle. Have five of their next six games at home.

 

16 Philadelphia 76ers (5-6 LW 14)- Back to losing but still in first place in a bad Atlantic Division.

 

17 Denver Nuggets (4-5 LW 28)- Have won of four but have OKC, Chicago and back-to-back against Dallas coming up.

 

18 New Orleans Pelicans (4-6 LW 15)- Ryan Anderson lit it up with six 3’s against the Sixers… can he continue?

 

19 Los Angeles Lakers (5-7 LW 19)- Steve Nash is still out… but good news is Kobe Bryant has begun practicing.

 

20 Cleveland Cavaliers (4-7 LW 20) As Kyrie Irving goes, so do the Cavs. Averaging 27.5 in wins and 17.7 in losses.

 

21 Orlando Magic (4-7, LW 25)- Will Aaron Afflalo be traded? He’s averaging 21.7 points per game and playing well.

 

22 Toronto Raptors (4-7 LW 24)- Have lost three of four and still only getting scoring from Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan.

 

23 Brooklyn Nets (3-6)- Too much talent to be struggling but dealing with various injuries.

 

24 New York Knicks (3-6 LW 23)- Disappointing start and Carmelo Anthony is unhappy.

 

25 Boston Celtics (4-7 LW 26)- Started 0-4, won four in a row now has lost three straight.

 

26 Washington Wizards (2-7 LW 22)- Turning into a major disappointment early on… not was expected.

 

27 Detroit Pistons (3-6 LW 18)- Josh Smith makes his return to Atlanta on Wednesday night.

 

28 Milwaukee Bucks (2-7 LW 27)- No Brandon Knight, no Caron Butler… now have lost five straight.

 

29 Sacramento Kings (2-7 LW 29)- Only one win in November and three of next four is on the road.

 

30 Utah Jazz (1-10 LW 30)- Avoided tying their worst start in franchise history by beating the Pelicans.

 

 

 

 

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

 

 

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Melo on latest defeat: Like we’re not trying

Hawks Hand Knicks Fifth Straight Residence Loss

Hawks Hand Knicks Fifth Straight Residence Loss

 

NEW YORK – Following the New York Knicks’ fifth straight loss at Madison Sq. Backyard, a disgusted Carmelo Anthony said it looked as if the crew wasn’t even making an attempt in a 110-90 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony was perplexed to describe the Knicks’ latest loss Saturday night time.

“We ain’t taking part in worth a s- right now,” Anthony stated. “We acquired to play harder.

“I am upset too in all of our effort. We are simply not getting it carried out. It ain’t nothing that Coach [Mike] Woodson is doing [or not doing]. It ain’t got nothing to do with X’s and O’s out there on the basketball courtroom. We are not getting it completed from an effort standpoint. It’s like we are not even attempting proper now.”

Although Anthony says Woodson is not to blame, Knicks fans nonetheless briefly chanted “Hearth Woodson” within the third quarter.

The house followers have not had a lot to cheer for thus far this season. The Knicks (3-6) haven’t received at the Garden since their ninety-83 season-opening victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Oct. 30. They’ve lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Charlotte Bobcats, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Atlanta at residence.

In the course of the loss to Minnesota, the Knicks surrendered 40 points within the first quarter. In a a hundred and twenty-89 loss to the Spurs last Sunday, they trailed 21-four in the first quarter and fell behind by as many as 37.

Towards the Hawks (6-four), the Knicks were inside five (84-seventy nine) with eight:39 remaining before permitting a 14-2 run during which Atlanta scored on three layups and a dunk.

“You’re not going to beat anyone taking part in gentle and not hard like we did,” Woodson said. “They played extraordinarily extremely onerous tonight and we just did not compete with them.”

Woodson mentioned he may tinker together with his lineup once more. The Hawks shot 56.4 % from the field in opposition to a Knicks protection minus the injured Tyson Chandler, who’s out for no less than a month with a fractured leg.

The players spoke afterward within the locker room.

J.R. Smith – after a three-for-18 night from the ground that saw him miss eight-of-9 3-point tries – took among the blame.

“Excuse my language however I was playing like s-,” he said. “I performed horrible. I’ve been taking part in horrible since I obtained again and I wasn’t blissful about it.”

Anthony, who led the Knicks with 23 points and 12 rebounds, left the Garden baffled and indignant.

“You just got to do more I suppose,” Anthony said. “Simply try to go out there and get it performed as a team. I am not going to do it on my own. I do not want to do it by myself. We received to do it as a group. We preserve digging ourselves deeper and deeper.

“It is frustrating. Messed up feeling. Nasty feeling. I actually am kind of puzzled right now.”

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NBA Predictions Week 3 Friday Game Free Picks

nba-predictions

Free Picks and Predictions for Friday week 3 NBA Games

 

It’s another Friday night in the NBA and with 11 big games schedule, pick your favorite games(s) and be it lines spread, over/under or straight-pick… place your bets here through Wonder Punter and Good Luck!

 

Milwaukee Bucks (2-5) @ Indiana Pacers (8-0) 11/15- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: IND -9.0

Over/Under: 186

 

Don’t see the Bucks challenging the Pacers on the road. Pacers are the team to beat right now.

 

PICK: Indiana Pacers

 

Chicago Bulls (3-3) @ Toronto Raptors (4-5) 11/15- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: CHI -1.0

Over/Under: 190

 

Important road game for the Bulls to get back to winning.

 

PICK: Chicago Bulls

 

Dallas Mavericks (5-3) @ Miami Heat (5-3) 11/15- 7:30PM EST

 

Line: MIA -8.5

Over/Under: 207.5

 

Good match-up, but expect the Heat to play a full game and win.

 

PICK: Miami

 

Charlotte Bobcats (4-4) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (3-6) 11/15- 7:30PM EST

 

Line: CLE -6.5

Over/Under: 189.5

 

Bobcats playing good ball early, but like the Cavs in this one.

 

PICK: Cleveland Cavaliers

 

Philadelphia 76ers (5-4) @ Atlanta Hawks (4-4) 11/15- 7:30PM EST

 

Line: ATL -8.0

Over/Under: 206.0

 

Another surprise team playing well early, but like the Hawks in this one.

 

PICK: Atlanta

 

Portland Trailblazers (6-2) @ Boston Celtics (4-5) 11/15- 7:30PM EST

 

Line: POR -2.0

Over/Under: 194

 

Look for the Trailblazers to continue winning with a road victory at Boston.

 

PICK: Portland

 

Minnesota Timberwolves (6-3) @ Denver Nuggets (3-4) 11/15- 8:00PM EST
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Line: MIN -1.5

Over/Under: 210.5

 

T’Wolves looking good early and will win in a close one at Denver.

 

PICK: Minnesota

 

Brooklyn Nets (2-5) @ Phoenix Suns (5-3) 11/15- 9:00PM EST

 

Line: BRK -1.0

Over/Under: 195

 

Nets are underachieving and the Suns have been playing great at home… Suns win.

 

PICK: Phoenix

 

San Antonio Spurs (8-1) @ Utah Jazz (1-8) 11/15- 9:00PM EST

 

Line: SAS -8.0

Over/Under: 193

 

Spurs are solid, Jazz are bad…. Spurs win easy.

 

PICK: San Antonio

 

Memphis Grizzles (3-5) @ Los Angeles Lakers (4-6) 11/15- 10:30PM EST

 

Line: MEM -3.5

Over/Under: 197.5

 

Not sure what Lakers team will show up… but Lakers in an upset.

 

PICK: LAL

 

Detroit Pistons (2-5) @ Sacramento Kings (2-5) 11/15- 10:30PM EST

 

Line: SAC -2.0

Over/Under: 197.5

 

Toss-up for me on the this one… but slight edge to the Kings.

 

PICK: Sacramento

 

Once again, Good luck on your favorite picks.

 

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

 

 

 

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NBA Predictions Week 3 Wednesday Games Previews/Picks

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NBA Week 3 predictions and Picks

 

Wednesday night is another full night of NBA games as we have 12 full games for you to place your bets on here at Wonder Punter. Be sure to place your bets early to secure the best odds. So you want to know what are the best picks and predictions for this weeks games? all free? Keep reading

 

Milwaukee Bucks (2-3) @ Orlando Magic (3-4) 11/13- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: ORL –4.0

Over/Under: 193.5

 

Orlando will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak.

 

PICK: Orlando Magic

 

Houston Rockets (4-3) @ Philadelphia 76ers (4-3) 11/13- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: HOU -9.0

Over/Under: 215.5

 

Rockets have lost two in a row, but should be able to handle to Sixers on the road.

 

PICK: Houston Rockets

 

Charlotte Bobcats (3-3) @ Boston Celtics (3-4) 11/13- 7:30PM EST

 

Line: BOS -4.5

Over/Under: 184.5

 

Celtics looking to win their third straight.

 

PICK: Boston Celtics

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New York Knicks (2-4) @ Atlanta Hawks (3-3) 11/13- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: ATL -3.5

Over/Under: 198.5

 

With J.R. Smith back, I like the Knicks on the road in an upset.

 

PICK: New York Knicks

 

Toronto Raptors (3-4) @ Memphis Grizzles (3-3) 11/13- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: MEM -7.5

Over/Under: 185.5

 

Memphis in an easy win at home. Too much talent still.

 

PICK: Memphis Grizzles

 

Cleveland Cavaliers (3-4) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (5-2) 11/13- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: MIN -8.5

Over/Under: 198.5

 

T’Wolves looking strong with a healthy with Kevin Love back strong.

 

PICK: Minnesota Timberwolves

 

Washington Wizards (2-4) @ San Antonio Spurs (6-1) 11/13- 8:30PM EST

 

Line: SAS -11.0

Over/Under: 200

 

Expect an easy San Antonio win at home. Playing good ball early.

 

PICK: San Antonio Spurs

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Los Angeles Lakers (3-5) @ Denver Nuggets (1-4) 11/13- 9:00PM EST

 

Line: DEN -9.0

Over/Under: 209.5

 

Nuggets will be up for the Lakers…. and expect a home win as the Lakers will their second game in two nights.

 

PICK: Denver Nuggets

 

New Orleans Pelicans (3-4) @ Utah Jazz (0-7) 11/13- 9:00PM EST

 

Line: NOR -1.5

Over/Under: 190.5

 

Like the Jazz in a surprise home win as the Pelicans will be in the second of a back-to-back.

 

PICK: Utah Jazz

 

Phoenix Suns (5-2) @ Portland Trailblazers (4-2) 11/13- 9:00PM EST

 

Line: POR -8.0

Over/Under: 202.5

 

Portland always tough at the Rose Garden.

 

PICK: Portland Trailblazers

 

Brooklyn Nets (2-4) @ Sacramento Kings (1-5) 11/13- 10:00PM EST

 

Line: BRK -1.0

Over/Under: 195.5

 

Winnable road game for the Nets against a struggling Kings team.

 

PICK: Brooklyn Nets

 

Oklahoma City Thunder (5-1) @ Los Angeles Clippers (4-3) 11/13- 10:30PM EST

 

Line: LAC -3.0

Over/Under: 206.5

 

Game of the night… OKC with a big road win.

 

PICK: Oklahoma City Thunder

 

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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NBA Power Rankings 2013

NBA_PowerRankings

 

Week 3 Power Rankings for the NBA

 

With Week 3 of the NBA starting on Tuesday night, let’s take a look at this week’s Power Rankings for all 30 teams.

 

1. Indiana Pacers (7-0)- Paul George is leading the Pacers to their best start in franchise history. The team to beat right now.

 

2. San Antonio Spurs (6-1)- With Philadelphia, Washington, Utah and Boston coming up, they can distance themselves from the pack.

 

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (5-1)- With Russell Westbrook back in the fold, things are looking up.

 

4. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-2)- Having a healthy Kevin Love does wonders for a team.

 

5. Miami Heat (4-3)- A sore back is slowing down LeBron as they work out their chemistry issues.

 

6. Phoenix Suns (5-2)- Eric Bledsoe is leading this week’s NBA’s surprise team as they have won all four of their home games.

 

7. Los Angeles Clippers (4-3)- Big road win at Houston as they are still trying to find their way under coach Doc Rivers.

 

8. Golden State Warriors (4-3)- Warriors have four different players averaging at least 15 points per game.

 

9. Memphis Grizzles (3-3)- Coming off a big home win against the Warriors may jump-start them.

 

10. Houston Rockets (4-3)- They hit the road after dropping their last three-games.

 

11. Dallas Mavericks (4-3)- Monte Ellis leads the team in scoring averaging 23 points a game.

 

12. Chicago Bulls (2-4)- Derrick Rose and the Bulls have a showdown with the Pacers this week as they look to get back to winning and avenge an earlier loss.

 

13. Portland Trailblazers (4-2)- Two of their four wins came against Sacramento with more winnable games coming up against the East.

 

14. Philadelphia 76ers (4-3)- Went 1-3 last week after starting 3-0… is the clock getting ready to strike midnight?

 

15. New Orleans Pelicans (3-4) Big win at home against the Lakers on Friday night, can they repeat that performance on Tuesday night in L.A.?

 

16. Charlotte Bobcats (3-3)- Another early surprise team in the NBA so far.

 

17. Atlanta Hawks (3-3)- Ronnie Millsap is off to a big year for the Hawks so far with 20.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists.

 

18. Detroit Pistons (2-3)- Josh Smith is fitting in nicely with his new team leading them 18.8 points per game.

 

19. Los Angeles Lakers (3-5)- As Kobe Bryant is still working his way back, Steve Nash is suffering from back pain once again limiting his play.

 

20. Cleveland Cavaliers (3-4)- Kyrie Irving is heating up having scored 25 or more in two of his last three games.

 

21. Brooklyn Nets (2-4)- Nets need more production from K.G who is only averaging six points per game and 6.7 rebounds a game.

 

22. Washington Wizards (2-4)- Still a better team them their record indicates but must finish games.

 

23. New York Knicks (2-4)- Can the return of J.R. Smith give them the shot in the arm they need?

 

24. Toronto Raptors (3-4)- Expect Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan to get their shooting touch back after struggling in the early season.

 

25. Orlando Magic (3-4)- Center Nikola Vucevic is averaging a double-double to begin the season with 15.7 points and 12.1 rebounds.

 

26. Boston Celtics (3-4)- The Celtics have won three straight including a win over the Miami Heat.

 

27. Milwaukee Bucks (2-3)- Their three losses have been by eight points or less.

 

28. Denver Nuggets (1-4)- Rough start under new head coach Brian Shaw as they are off to their worst start since 2004.

 

29. Sacramento Kings (1-5)- DeMarcus Cousins is a one-man show, but it will take more then that as they have dropped five in a row.

 

30. Utah Jazz (0-7)- Jazz are off to their worst start since going 0-11 in their first season in the league.

 

 

 

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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NBA Power Rankings- Week 1

NBA power rankings

NBA Power Rankings for Week 1 of the games

 

With the conclusion of Tuesday nights NBA games, let’s take a look at the Power Rankings going into the Week 2 with the Philadelphia 76ers 3-1 start shocking everyone who were expected to contend for the worst record in NBA history.

 

1. Indiana Pacers (4-0)- Guard Paul George is healthy and ready to lead the charge.

 

2. Houston Rockets (4-1)- So far the Dwight Howard and James Harden duo is working.

 

3. Minnesota Timberwolves (3-1)- A healthy Kevin Love (29.6 points 14.6 rebounds) can do wonders for a team.

 

4. Miami Heat (3-2)- LeBron James admits to maybe minor chemistry problems on the team… we shall see the effects.

 

5. Los Angeles Clippers (3-1)- Gave a beat down to the Rockets on Monday night.

 

6. San Antonio Spurs (3-1)- Welcome back Tim Duncan and a resurgent Manu Ginoboli.

 

7. Golden State Warriors (3-1)- It’s the Stephen Curry 3-point show on pace for 437 triples!

 

8. Dallas Mavericks (3-1)- Dirk Nowitski and Monte Ellis getting it done so far.

 

9. Oklahoma Thunder (2-1)- With PG Russell Westbrook back sooner then expected, expect them to start climbing up the rankings.

 

10. Philadelphia 76ers (3-1)- They were ranked last to start the season, but thanks to some quality wins, they deserve a Top 10 ranking for now.

 

11. Brooklyn Nets (2-2)- They need a Miami like performance every night if they want to contend for top billing in the East.

 

12. Chicago Bulls (1-2)- Derrick Rose will continue to improve but the Bulls need more scoring.

 

13. Memphis Grizzles (2-2)- Both road losses were on the road to San Antonio and Dallas.

 

14. Phoenix Suns (3-1)- Eric Bledsoe is shinning bright in the desert sun.

 

15. Portland Trailblazers (2-2)- Big home win against the Spurs with Tim Duncan back in the lineup, but spanked at home by the Rockets.

 

16. Detroit Pistons (2-2)- Brandon Jennings is back from his injury early and ready to lead.

 

17. Orlando Magic (2-2)- Young and ready to play with rookie Victor Oladipo.

 

18. Cleveland Cavaliers (2-2)- Did we mention Andrew Bynum is playing this year?

 

19. Los Angeles Lakers (2-3)- Still young, still athletic, still Kobe-less. When Kobe, when? Xavier Henry looking great early.

 

20. Toronto Raptors (2-2)- It’s Rudy Gay’s team now.

 

21. Charlotte Bobcats (2-2)- Can Al Jefferson shake off his ankle problems?

 

22. Atlanta Hawks (2-2)- Safe to say the Hawks miss Josh Smith. PG Jeff Teague has been a bright spot.

 

23. New York Knicks (1-3)- The Knicks are hearing the boos already at home after Bobcats beat them.

 

24. Milwaukee Bucks (1-2)- Center Zaza Pachulia is averaging 13 points and 7.7 boards a game so far.

 

25. New Orleans Pelicans (1-3)- Second-year center Anthony Davis the lone bright spot with averages of 23.7 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks his first week.

 

26. Washington Wizards (0-3)- And to think everybody was talking a playoff team before the season. It’s early but win one first.

 

27. Sacramento Kings (1-3)- DeMarcus Cousins needs help and G Isaiah Thomas may be the answer averaging 19 points and 4.7 assists.

 

28.Denver Nuggets (0-3)- Not what we expected from a team that made the playoffs last year.

 

29. Utah Jazz (0-4)- Desperately need a point guard.

 

30. Boston Celtics (0-4)- Due to play the winless Jazz Wednesday night. 

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Free NBA Picks, Preview and Predictions week 1

nba-free-picks

Free NBA Picks Week 1

With a full slate of NBA games on the docket for Friday night… here are my Free NBA picks for each game:

 

Philadelphia 76ers (1-0) @ Washington Wizards (0-1) 11/01- 7:00PM EST

 

PICK: Washington

 

Cleveland Cavaliers (1-0) @ Charlotte Bobcats (0-1) 11/01- 7:00PM EST

 

PICK: Cleveland

 

New Orleans Pelicans (0-1) @ Orlando Magic (0-2) 11/01- 7:00PM EST

 

PICK: Orlando

 

Toronto Raptors (1-0) @ Atlanta Hawks (0-1) 11/01- 7:30PM EST

 

PICK: Toronto

 

Milwaukee Bucks (0-1) @ Boston Celtics (0-1) 11/01- 7:30PM EST

 

PICK: Milwaukee

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Miami Heat (1-1) @ Brooklyn Nets (0-1) 11/01- 8:00PM EST

 

PICK: Brooklyn

 

Oklahoma City Thunder (1-0) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (1-0) 11/01- 8:00 PM EST

 

PICK: Minnesota

 

Dallas Mavericks (1-0) @ Houston Rockets (1-0) 11/01- 8:00PM EST

 

PICK: Houston

 

Detroit Pistons (1-0) @ Memphis Grizzles (0-1) 11/01- 8:00PM EST

 

PICK: Memphis

 

Portland Trail Blazers (0-1) @ Denver Nuggets (0-1) 11/01- 9:00PM EST

 

PICK: Denver

 

Utah Jazz (0-1) @ Phoenix Suns (1-0) 11/01- 10:00PM EST

 

PICK: Phoenix

 

Los Angels Clippers (0-1) @ Sacramento Kings (1-0) 11/01- 10:00PM EST

 

PICK: Sacramento

 

San Antonio Spurs (1-0) @ Los Angeles Lakers (1-1) 11/01- 10:30PM EST

 

PICK: San Antonio

 

Good luck with your teams and your Free NBA picks   By Mario Martinez – WonderPunter

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Wonder Punter NBA Power Rankings 2013-14

Wonder Punter NBA Power Rankings 2013-14

 

With the 2013/14 NBA season upon us starting Tuesday night…. Let’s take a look at the Power Rankings of all 30 teams to begin the season.

 

1. Miami Heat- The defending champion Heat will be looking to three-peat with Lebron James in the final year of his contract.

 

2. San Antonio Spurs- With all the pieces still intact, the Western Conference champs are still the team to beat out west.

 

3. Chicago Bulls- After sitting out all of last season… Derrick Rose is back and ready to lead his team to challenge the Heat.

 

4. Indiana Pacers- Last years team was good, now with Danny Granger back and the addition of Luis Scola… they will be even better.

 

5. Los Angeles Clippers- Can new coach Doc Rivers instill the mental and physical toughness that has been lacking with the Clippers in seasons past?

 

6. Houston Rockets- Can the tag team of Dwight Howard/James Harden co-exist and get them to the promise land?

 

7. Golden State Warriors- Will one more year of experience under their belt make up for the lack of depth at the point guard and center positions? Key addition with Andre Iguodala.

 

8. Oklahoma City Thunder- Still no Russell Westbrook until December… until then, can they keep it together?

 

9. Memphis Grizzles- The addition of Mike Miller should help with a team depleted with shooters.

 

10. Brooklyn Nets- Can an aging Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce be the difference that Deron Williams and new coach Jason Kidd need to contend?

 

11. New York Knicks- J.R Smith is still on the shelve and Amar’e and Kenyon Martin are not quite ready for back-to-backs yet.

 

12. Minnesota Timberwolves- A full year of a healthy Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio can finally make the Wolves a playoff contender after a drought of nine seasons.

 

13. Denver Nuggets- Andre Iguodala is now with Golden State and no Danilo Gallinari until at least December.

 

14. Washington Wizards- Key addition with Marcin Gortat to fill in a true center position and move Nene to his natural forward position.

 

15. New Orleans Pelicans- New team nickname and two nice additions will help the Pelicans improve… Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans.

 

16. Dallas Mavericks- Monte Ellis was added to help give Dirk Nowitski an offensive boost… but it’s the defense I’m worried about.

 

17. Portland Trailblazers- LaMarcus Aldridge vows this years Blazers team will make the playoffs.

 

18. Detroit Pistons- Two big additions with the face of the franchise now Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings.

 

19. Los Angeles Lakers- Much more athletic team then last year’s team, however their season still rides on the shoulders of Kobe Bryant’s return.

 

20. Cleveland Cavaliers- When will Andrew Bynum play? Oh yeah #1 pick Anthony Bennett has a sleeping disorder.

 

21. Atlanta Hawks- No Josh Smith… it’s Al Horford’s team now.

 

22. Toronto Raptors- Andrea Bargnani is now a Knick.

 

23. Charlotte Bobcats- Should improve in the win column with new center Al Jefferson.

 

24. Sacramento Kings- Will DeMarcus Cousins live up to hype of a max-contract deal.

 

25. Utah Jazz- Young talent is nice, but no quality point guard to dish the rock.

 

26. Milwaukee Bucks- Can new coach Larry Drew keep the rebuilding Bucks together?

 

27. Boston Celtics- New coach, new faces and no Rajon Rondo.

 

28. Orlando Magic- Another rebuilding year.. looking towards the 2014 NBA Draft.

 

29. Phoenix Suns- Traded away their best player Marcin Gortat.

 

30. Philadelphia 76ers- Many are predicting the Sixers to challenge for the all-time worst record of 9-73 (1972-73 Sixers).

For more NCAA NBA MLB NFL, Scores, Reviews, Previews, and Picks & Predictions,  feel free to check out our sections from the tabs on top of the page where I will be updating on a daily basis

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Sources: Kings re-up Cousins through 2018

The Sacramento Kings and DeMarcus Cousins reached terms late Thursday on a 4-year contract extension value in excess of $60 million, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

The deal is a four-yr most contract for the mercurial huge man, one season in need of the five-yr max Cousins was eligible to receive. It also contains no workforce or participant options, which means Cousins will probably be locked in with the Kings by means of the 2017-18 season.

Cousins

Cousins

The Sacramento Bee first reported the settlement, which takes effect beginning with the 2014-15 season.

ESPN.com reported this week that Cousins was on track to obtain an extension nicely in advance of the Oct. 31 deadline for 2010 first-spherical picks, with sturdy sentiment on both sides to strike a deal before the Kings open coaching camp Tuesday in Santa Barbara to take away the difficulty as a possible distraction for the franchise because it reboots underneath new proprietor Vivek Ranadive, its new front-workplace tandem of Pete D’Alessandro and Chris Mullin, and new coach Mike Malone.

Cousins joins Washington Wizards guard John Wall, Milwaukee Bucks middle Larry Sanders and Indiana Pacers swingman Paul George on the list of 2010 draftees to obtain extensions. Wall and George landed five-year max offers; Sanders signed a four-year deal price $44 million.

D’Alessandro, who had been scouting the EuroBasket match in Slovenia, returned to Sacramento this week to join Ranadive in resuming negotiations in earnest Thursday with Cousins’ brokers Dan Fegan and Jarrin Akana.

Cousins has averaged sixteen.3 factors and 9.eight rebounds whereas often flashing his distinctive gifts for a participant his measurement, however he has additionally led or been near the league lead in fouls committed all through a career marked by defensive struggles. Cousins’ volatility has likewise resulted in a number of suspensions, including a workforce-imposed ban last December for what the Kings termed unprofessional behavior, which is largely why Sacramento insisted on a four-year deal as a substitute of a full 5-year max.

However the constant reward Cousins has received from Ranadive since his ownership group gained a battle with Seattle to keep the franchise in Sacramento had made it extensively assumed in league circles that the Kings have been prepared to make a protracted-time period commitment to the 23-12 months-outdated. Sacramento is now banking on the notion that the security it has extended, as a part of the contemporary-start really feel circulating all through the organization, will lead to a extra plugged-in Cousins.

After announcing the addition of future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal as a minority owner and mentor to Cousins this week, Ranadive instructed USA Right this moment Sports activities: “I don’t need to say something untimely [about an extension], but I have been fixed in my support for DeMarcus. I reached out to him after we first closed the deal. He was the first particular person I reached out to. They’re out there working towards on their very own every single day and he’s on the market leading those practices. He is on the market with the team working towards each single day by themselves. [The players] all came to Sacramento early. I don’t know if that is ever happened.”

Other 2010 draftees labeled by league executives as probably (or no less than potential) extension candidates embrace the Utah duo of Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward, Detroit’s Greg Monroe, Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe, Boston’s Avery Bradley, and Sacramento’s Greivis Vasquez. The 2010 first-rounders who don’t sign extensions by Oct. 31 will be restricted free brokers in the summer of 2014.

Cousins was the fifth total pick in 2010 after one season beneath John Calipari on the College of Kentucky. He averaged 17.1 factors and 9.9 rebounds last season, but numerous clashes with coaches and teammates and a wavering dedication to protection have led some to question whether or not he can reside as much as a max deal

Read The Original Article

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The 10-man rotation, starring Paul George, who’s about to get *paaaaaaaaaid*

2013-09-25_0753

Two max players. Reportedly. (Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Pictures)

A glance around the league and the Net that covers it. It’s also vital to notice that the rotation order and starting nods aren’t all the time listed in order of importance. That is for you, dear reader, to determine.

C: The Point Ahead and 8 Points, 9 Seconds. More from Rob Mahoney and Tim Donahue on the apparently all-over-however-the-shoutin’ five-year maximum contract extension that the Indiana Pacers are set to serve as much as star swingman Paul George.

PF: Sactown Royalty. In different extension information, Tom Ziller weighs in on what the Sacramento Kings’ apparently impending lengthy-time period contract for DeMarcus Cousins is, and isn’t, about, and what it might mean going ahead.

SF: The Diss. Kevin Draper thinks the Pacers and Kings are nuts: “[…] if the motivation for teams is to prey upon the desire for security to offer a under-market rate, why will we see so many groups’ providing most extensions, which by definition can’t be below-market, sooner than they should?”

SG: Wack Folks Meet and SB Nation. In different news, Brandon Jennings really, really, actually likes Drake, and so, apparently, do a number of other NBA players.

PG: New York Submit. Hey, Jason Kidd, why did you determine to buy Jay Z’s shares in the Brooklyn Nets staff you’re about to start coaching? “[…] I feel like this is a company that is getting into the fitting course.” (Kidd additionally talked with reporters about the Nets establishing an outlined identification, which is one thing they lacked final season, and about the prospect of Brooklyn taking part in “positionless basketball” this season, in response to The Brooklyn Recreation.)

sixth: Atlanta Journal Constitution. Chris Vivlamore sits down with Atlanta Hawks middle Al Horford to talk about an interesting offseason during which the staff changed coaches, said goodbye to a two-manner star, fought the Milwaukee Bucks to retain their place to begin guard and added a bunch of frontcourt depth. (However do not you dare overlook about Mike Scott. In the event you do, apparently, Al Horford will hunt you down.)

seventh: Detroit Dangerous Boys. Matt Watson goes digging in the crates and finds a (practically) five-year-old interview in which the lead designer of the unique “NBA Jam” admits that he did only a teensy-tiny bit of rigging the sport whenever the Chicago Bulls took on his beloved Detroit Pistons.

eighth: Forbes and NBA.com. Shaquille O’Neal reportedly bought lower than 5 p.c of the Sacramento Kings, which could not seem like an amount value hoisting a governor’s wife into the air over, however it still represents a giant move for Shaq, whom Scott Howard-Cooper writes “has been aiming for ownership for years.”

ninth: The Oklahoman. There is not any timetable but set for Russell Westbrook’s return from season-ending surgical procedure to repair a torn meniscus in his proper knee, however the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder point guard feels confident that when he does return, he’ll still be a nightmare for opponents: “I’m going to come again and be better.”

10th: Bright Aspect of the Sun. Talking of confidence, Phoenix Suns rookie Archie Goodwin positive would not seem to be lacking any himself: “I feel like after 5 years, I will be the most effective gamers in the league simply because I am coming in at such a young age and I will be able to be taught.” (Goodwin additionally shares that your complete Suns workforce has been displaying up for workouts, “apart from the abroad guys as a result of they’re of their Euro-thingy.”)

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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:

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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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The Bucks and Pistons swap Brandon Jennings and Brandon Knight, head in different directions

Brandon Jennings drives previous Brandon Knight, in direction of the purpose (J. Dennis Einstein/ Getty).

With NBA free company nearing its finish, Milwaukee Bucks restricted free agent point guard Brandon Jennings stood out as one of the biggest names not but dedicated to a workforce for the 2013-14 season. As basketball stars and followers alike waited for a decision, the questions concerning his employer and future had been clear. Would Jennings stay with the Bucks due to an absence of options, locked into a scenario without clear paths to improvement? Would he accept his qualifying provide and cast his lot with unrestricted free company subsequent summer? Or would he find one other staff, accepting a new begin beneath his most popular wage?

We now appear to have a resolution that would work for all events. As reported by Y!’s own Adrian Wojnarowski, Jennings has agreed to a contract with the Detroit Pistons for $24 million over three years and engineered an indication-and-trade deal that will ship guard Brandon Knight, forward Khris Middleton, and center Slava Krastov to the Bucks. Jennings’s new deal is significantly much less lucrative than the 4-year, $40-million extension supply he turned down prior to the 2012-thirteen season, though it can permit him to grow to be a free agent in three years, when he will likely be simply 26 years previous.

The problems with Jennings’s game are well-known — he struggles to complete at the rim, selects bad photographs, and hasn’t improved a lot statistically since his impressive rookie season in 2009-10. Whereas averages of 17.5 ppg and 6.5 apg look strong at first look, Jennings has shot under 40 p.c from the field in three of his four seasons, hasn’t added quite a lot of strength, and tends to gamble defensively (more likely to compensate for his construct) in a way that causes him to be out of position with regularity. For that matter, Jennings has developed a fame as someone who believes himself to be better than he’s, creating the impression that he would not understand his splendid function on a high quality group. He is a fast, proficient participant who has never learned to rein in his volatility.

On the other hand, Jennings has not all the time been put in the very best situation as a member of the Bucks. Once they acquired Monta Ellis earlier than the 2012 commerce deadline, they added one other ball-dominating, small-ish guard with abilities and deficiencies much like those of Jennings. The partnership exacerbated lots of his flaws, making certain that the Bucks could not disguise Jennings on protection or surround him with players inclined to take full benefit of his creativity. That commerce highlighted the methods by which the Bucks have lacked path for several seasons, which may have harmed Jennings’s development and willingness to regulate his recreation to the wants of the team. The Bucks earned the East’s final playoff spot in 2013, however it’s laborious to remember a postseason participant with much less of a sense of their own future.

The Pistons, after their very own interval of listless irrelevance, appear to be reaching for one thing extra, even if it is not precisely clear what that might be. Coming on the heels of their acquisition of athletic forward Josh Smith, Jennings represents Detroit’s second major free-agent deal of the summer. With Knight heading to Milwaukee, the Pistons have successfully dedicated to Jennings as their backcourt leader of the longer term, a young point guard who can workforce with lottery decide Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to type an extended-time period combo on the perimeter. Despite his faults, Jennings is much better suited to this position than the one he held throughout his murky partnership with Ellis in Milwaukee. His skills require him to deal with the ball, and it helps that the Pistons have surrounded him with capable finishers. Smith, athletic man-youngster Andre Drummond, and skilled large man Greg Monroe present Jennings with more offensive choices than he ever had with the Bucks (they might even cover for some of his unhealthy shots with offensive rebounds). For a participant that thrives on confidence, this type of organizational assist might make an enormous difference.

It’s not clear that all the Pistons’ pieces fit. Jennings nonetheless must prove that he is usually a prepared distributor, and any group that adds him and Smith in the identical summer has to anticipate many more poorly thought of photographs in its future. Yet, for the primary time in a few years, the Pistons look like including very gifted players with excessive ceilings. They overpaid for Smith at $56 million over 4 years, however the Jennings deal gives them three years to see if a 23-12 months-outdated grows into a extra reliable point guard. These are the dangers that perennial lottery groups need to take if they want to become relevant once more.

The Bucks, meanwhile, are courting the type of all-encompassing irrelevance that the Pistons are looking to escape. Knight is a good choice within the backcourt, but he also struggles with his shooting (taking pictures 40.7 p.c from the sector last season) and is greatest recognized for getting embarrassed on different players’ highlights. After losing Jennings, Ellis, and J.J. Redick this summer time, the Bucks are more likely to enter next season with Knight, Luke Ridnour, O.J. Mayo, and the recently signed Gary Neal as their guards, with every player being best fit for a bench role. The youthful frontcourt of Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova, and John Henson shows promise, however they don’t represent the core of a stable and even quickly bettering group. It isn’t clear what the Bucks need to be or how they plan to do it. They’re prone to be very unhealthy, but it would not look like the results of a rebuilding plan so much as an unlucky byproduct of their own uncertainty.

These two groups are heading in several instructions, neither of which may lead to a lot success. The Pistons have traded of their perpetual chase for the eighth-total draft decide — just dangerous enough to have no hopes of the playoffs, just ok to lose out on the best rookies — in the hopes of reestablishing themselves as a related NBA franchise. It is unclear how good they will be, however they will be watchable. The Bucks, in distinction, are falling out of the league’s center class towards a scenario harking back to what the Pistons are trying to escape. Neither possibility is right — nonetheless, it’s apparent which staff’s fans will enter the 2013-14 season with a modicum of hope.

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The 10-man rotation, starring Nate Robinson spending another summer waiting by the phone

A very Nate Robinson shot is about to go up. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It’s also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren’t always listed in order of importance. That’s for you, dear reader, to figure out.

C: SB Nation. A good read from Ricky O’Donnell on Nate Robinson, a folk hero two months ago who now (and almost always) seems to find himself scrounging for free-agency table scraps: “It’s enough to make you wonder if combo guards are the next market inefficiency in the NBA.”

PF: NBA.com. David Aldridge’s always jam-packed Morning Tip staggers again this Monday, led off by a good, long, detailed piece on new Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie, the push-and-pull of the much-discussed advanced stats vs. eyeball scouting debate (spoiler alert: it’s not about one or the other, but about both, and always has been and always will be), committing to a bottoming-out plan in a city whose love ain’t so brotherly when the chips are down, and much, much more.

SF: Sham Sports. The great Mark Deeks explains how exactly Keith Bogans — a 33-year-old “3-and-D” guy who shot 34 percent from long range and with whom on the floor the Brooklyn Nets allowed more points per possession last season — is going to make a fully guaranteed $5,058,198 this coming season: “The lesson, as always — no transaction is too trivial.”

SG: Baller Mind Frame. A lengthy, impassioned and, given the general tenor of contemporary NBA analysis, somewhat contrarian argument that for teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Bobcats, continuing to push for even a low-tier playoff berth is a better option than tanking. Not sure I agree, but hey, it’s an ethos.

PG: For the Win. Hey, Amar’e Stoudemire: What’s hot right now? “This summer’s more about loafers.”

6th: Grantland. Steve McPherson on “the illusions of existence and illusions of meaning” up for grabs and on display at Las Vegas Summer League.

7th: TrueHoop. Amid the myriad reminders not to pay too much attention to what you see at Summer League, Danny Chau wonders if, when it comes to the Charlotte Bobcats — who are playing four players who’ll see major minutes for them this season and are coached not by an assistant, but by new bench boss Steve Clifford — “what we see […] in Vegas might actually be what we get.”

8th: The Two Man Game. A good, if kind of depressing, read from Connor Huchton on where the Dallas Mavericks find themselves after another high-profile strikeout and a seemingly underwhelming overpay: “Everything this offseason and the last were supposed to be, everything the organization and its proud owner promised a zealous following these years would represent, every expectation — all of that seems well and dead now.” (The Point Forward’s Rob Mahoney struck a similar tone over the weekend.)

9th: Salt City Hoops. Dan Clayton marks Al Jefferson’s relocation to North Carolina as the end of an era in Utah Jazz basketball — specifically, what many Jazz fans likely hope is an end to the slow-down, milk-the-clock, pace-averse offense that frequently marked the last several Jazz teams.

10th: Minnesota Star-Tribune. Before tearing the same ACL twice in eight months at Purdue, Robbie Hummel looked like he had a real shot in the NBA; after a year playing in Spain (and another knee surgery), he’s giving it another shot with the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Summer League team.

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In a strange deal, Milwaukee sends Luc Mbah a Moute to Sacramento for second round picks

Luc Mbah a Moute asks around to see what’s up (Getty Images)

The Milwaukee Bucks very well could be onto something here. The team could follow this particular deal by using the amnesty clause on Drew Gooden, clearing over $11 million in payroll space along the way, which could go along the way toward cap space that could be used to sign a potential starter.

Or, they could be confusing us all over again.

“This particular deal” involves defensive mastermind Luc Mbah a Moute being sent to the Sacramento Kings for a second round pick in 2016, and a second round pick in 2018. The newest Kings forward is a defensive stopper, a long-armed hybrid forward working on a very reasonable contract (Luc will be paid just under $9 million over the next two seasons), and he won’t turn 27 until later this summer.

Unless the Bucks are clearing salary for a major move – whether this means gutting where it can to accept salary in some sort of sign and trade featuring Monta Ellis or Brandon Jennings, or signing a player outright – this seems like another terrible move for Milwaukee. It’s true that the Bucks were going nowhere, slowly, with Mbah a Moute. And second round picks, in this NBA economy, are to be valued.

The problem here is that you trade for second round picks in the hopes of finding a gem like Luc Mbah a Moute.

I’m not overvaluing Luc. At his best he’s your weak link as a go-to defender on a great team. On a middling team? You’d prefer him to come off the bench in reserve of a top of the line scorer. He’s quite tradeable, and in a lot of ways replaceable.

Are the Bucks planning on replacing him? Until they do – or until we find out that they’re trying – we’ll reserve judgment. As the deal stands, though, this could be another massive whiff for Bucks general manager John Hammond. And a fine pickup for newly-instated Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro.

Get crankin’, John. Because something has to come after this … right?

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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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Kyle Korver stays with Hawks for 4 years, $24 million, because shooters get paid

Cha-ching. (Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images)

Free agent forward Kyle Korver reached agreement Wednesday on a four-year, $24 million contract to rejoin the Atlanta Hawks, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, taking the best shooter available in free agency off the board at a price tag that confirms the heightened value NBA teams are placing on long-range bombers this offseason.

The deal — which can’t be officially finalized until the July 10 end of the league’s moratorium on trades and free-agent acquisitions — ends several reported suitors’ pursuit of the 32-year-old distance specialist. The Deron Williams Photoshop/Instagram-led charge of the Brooklyn Nets reportedly fell out of contention once it became evident that Korver would command a salary higher than the taxpayer midlevel exception, which starts at just under $3.2 million per year. This became evident after Kevin Martin got $7 million a year, J.J. Redick got about $6.8 million a year, Martell Webster got $5.5 million a year and Chase Budinger got about $5.3 million a year. (This also makes that Mike Dunleavy deal the Chicago Bulls signed look better and better with every passing second.)

The lesson: NBA executives dig the long ball — sorry, Tony Allen — and are willing to pay a premium for players who can hammer it home consistently, and there isn’t anyone who does that more efficiently and effectively than Korver.

It’s unclear how serious the San Antonio Spurs were about chasing Korver after bringing back Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili, but the Milwaukee Bucks were (somewhat curiously, given the in-flux nature of the Bucks’ “plan”) reportedly willing to pay up to $7 million a year over three seasons for Korver’s services — an offer the shooter declined, preferring to return to the Highlight Factory for the foreseeable future for what’s probably a combination of the additional year (which keeps Korver gainfully employed through age 36) and a comfortable situation he likes.

“Both me and my wife are really excited,” Korver told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. “We had a great experience with the city and the organization and feel very fortunate to be wanted back. I believe in what [general manager] Danny [Ferry] is building. I do. And I’m excited to play my role in that.”

The broad strokes of that role will be to hit an awful lot of 3-pointers at a very high clip — Korver shot 45.7 percent from deep last season, second-best in the NBA, and ranks 12th all-time in career long-range accuracy — and to serve as a mature, responsible, professional presence in a Hawks locker room that figures to be in flux in one form or another. The specifics of Korver’s job description, though — namely, for whom he’ll be spacing the floor and from whom he’ll be receiving those catch-and-shoot passes — remains unclear. To wit:

• The Hawks reportedly remain in contention for the game’s top remaining free agent, All-Star center Dwight Howard, although they’re not now considered a front-runner in the race for the 27-year-old Atlanta native.

• Howard’s decision, which reportedly won’t come until after the Fourth of July, figures to impact the future of longtime pal and fellow free agent Josh Smith, who will reportedly be the top target of the Houston Rockets should Howard go elsewhere, which could prompt the Hawks to pursue a sign-and-trade deal to ensure the versatile forward doesn’t skip town without returning some assets to help Ferry continue the rebuild he began by shedding the contracts of Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams last July. (Smith is almost certainly not returning to Atlanta; the two sides reportedly haven’t even spoken since free agency opened at 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday.)

• The Hawks also have to deal with the still-unsettled status of restricted free agent Jeff Teague, arguably the best point guard available this summer now that Chris Paul’s off the market. While the Hawks will have the right to match any offer sheet the 25-year-old triggerman signs, there doesn’t appear to have been a ton of movement in his market during this first week of free agency, meaning the team’s still in wait-and-see mode with its incumbent lead guard.

If the Hawks come from behind to secure Howard’s services, Korver’s the perfect sort of complimentary specialist to make defenses pay for the attention they’d have to pay to Dwight diving to the rim off pick-and-rolls or commanding a high number of touches down low. If the Hawks bring back Teague, the two worked together very well last year, with Teague assisting on nearly 35 percent of Korver’s makes and lineups featuring both outscoring opponents by just under six points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com’s stat tool. If Atlanta goes all-in on building a contender right now, paying (and perhaps overpaying a bit) a guy you can trust to knock down shots (including foul shots), relieve offensive tension and play better-than-you-think (although not by a ton) team defense is totally worth it.

But if Atlanta doesn’t get Dwight, and doesn’t keep Smith, and goes into next season with a roster headlined by (the very, very good) Al Horford and (maybe) Teague, then the Hawks don’t profile as a contending team or, cap space aside, one that seems like a serious threat of becoming one right away. In that case, paying $6 million for what’s ostensibly a (very nice) luxury item seems pretty unnecessary. Then again, you’ve got to pay somebody under the new collective bargaining agreement.

Teams must spend a minimum of 90 percent of the salary cap, which (given prior projections of the 2013-14 cap) puts this year’s floor at somewhere around $52.7 million. If the Hawks don’t land Howard, don’t keep Smith and don’t bring back the raft of other free agents right now remaining as cap holds on their books, they’d be looking at just under $30.9 million on the books for 11 roster spots next season. That’s an admittedly imperfect number — it doesn’t factor in an RFA match for Teague that would likely come in well above his $4.5 million qualifying offer; it includes slots for first-round picks Lucas Nogueira and Dennis Schroeder, but not for early second-round pick Mike Muscala, who’ll get one; it includes the nonguaranteed deals of DeShawn Stevenson, Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack — but it’s instructive if only to point out that the Hawks kind of have to spend a lot of money just to reach ground-level.

In that case, then, why not spend it on a solid citizen who can help some of the youngblood Hawks learn the ropes, whom we’re sure new head coach Mike Budenholzer will love to pieces, and who’s got an elite, non-athleticism-dependent NBA skill that figures to remain mostly viable as he enters his mid-30s? Korver might not actually be worth $6 million per — and if the deal’s structured with incremental year-over-year raises rather than a flat annual value, he definitely won’t be worth $7 million or so at age 36 — and in two seasons, if Atlanta’s still treading water in its rebuilding plan, Hawks fans might prefer to have had that $6 million-plus in room available to absorb a bigger contract (plus, perhaps, some picks) in an asset-acquiring deal. Still, there are worse ways for Ferry to spend his owner’s money.

And let this be a lesson to all you NBA hopefuls out there — if you get world-class good at one particular thing and aren’t a reputed jerk, you too could someday be this kind of signing. Dare to dream!

NBA video from Yahoo! Sports:

Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Brad Stevens hired as new coach of the Celtics
• Manu Ginobili, Spurs agree on two-year deal
• Where Dwight Howard should and shouldn’t go

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J.R. Smith’s coming back to the Knicks, which is exhilarating and scary, which is perfect

J.R. Smith will continue to inspire screaming, shouting and wailing in NYC. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The NBA’s premiere Jekyll-and-Hyde act will return to Broadway this season, as ever-mercurial shooting guard J.R. Smith and the New York Knicks have agreed to a four-year deal worth nearly $25 million, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. The deal brings the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and remarkable playoff flameout/goat back to a team that needs his shooting/secondary playmaking and fears his shot-jacking/arctic cold snaps in nearly equal measure.

Isola and Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that team and player were nearing a pact, with the specific terms remaining unsettled. Marc Berman of the New York Post quoted Smith’s (very interesting) father, Earl Sr., as saying his son could sign as early as Friday to the contract he wound up receiving, provided no team offered “a crazy amount of money” for J.R.’s services. Apparently, no other team did.

Smith reportedly drew interest from several teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns and Detroit Pistons. Barring a world-beating offer, though, none of those situations ever seemed much like a fit for Smith — or, at least, not nearly as good a fit as New York, where Smith established himself last season as a No. 2 scoring option playing starter’s minutes on a playoff team with (for better or worse) a seemingly limitless leash under head coach Mike Woodson. If the money’s roughly equal, the opportunity’s as good (if not better) and the, um, nightlife’s a factor, then why not re-up in New York?

The exact terms of that re-up won’t be confirmed until July 10, when the league’s annual moratorium on trades and free-agent signings concludes, but Smith will reportedly receive the maximum amount the Knicks could pay him as a result of having what the collective bargaining agreement refers to as his “Early Bird rights.”

The Early Bird exception allows teams to go over the salary cap to re-sign free agents who’ve played for them for two seasons without clearing waivers or changing teams. The highest number the Knicks could offer would be a four-year deal that starts at 104.5 percent of the 2012-13 league-average salary and increases by 7.5 percent every season. That, reportedly, is precisely what the Knicks have done.

Given the shortfalls in Smith’s game — the high-volume shooting, the relative offensive inefficiency, the tendency to ball-watch and fall asleep on defense, the possession-commandeering, etc. — you could argue that $6 million-plus a season is an overpay. And in a vacuum, it probably is. Given the context of the Knicks’ situation, though, I’m not sure it is.. or, at least, not a massive one. (J.R. probably can’t get away with calling himself a bargain anymore, though.)

By constructing an obscenely expensive, top-heavy and capped-out roster with no financial flexibility and limited avenues through which to add/keep talent, Glen Grunwald, James Dolan and company created an environment heading into this offseason in which the only real options for bolstering the present team were the remaining future draft picks at the Knicks’ disposal (three of which they used, regrettably, to import Andrea Bargnani), the mini-midlevel exception of just under $3.2 million (which they’re reportedly hoping to split to bring back Chris Copeland and Pablo Prigioni, though keeping both with that low a number seems unlikely) and veteran minimum contracts (with which Grunwald and company will have to hit home runs in finding the next Copeland/Prigioni-type contributors).

There was virtually zero chance of the Knicks replacing Smith’s contributions while also improving the core with just the mini-MLE and minimum deals, making the use of his Early Bird rights the kind of thing a team trying to win a title now must do. Yes, the Knicks will now pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $85 million next season and closer to $90 million in 2014-15 for the core of a second-round team plus Bargnani and Tim Hardaway Jr., which is bananas. But they were already obscenely expensive, and the Knicks front office viewed Smith as having value to that core.

And for all his warts, he was an integral part of the best Knicks team in 16 years, buttressing his often-chaotic shooting/scoring game by working hard on the glass (grabbing a career-high 16.3 percent of opponents’ misses, averaging a career-best 5.3 rebounds per game), working well as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, and playing small forward more often and more effectively than in years past as part of the Knicks’ successful push toward small-ball lineups. The most tantalizing aspect of Smith’s ’12-’13 season, though, was his regular-season finish, in which he committed to attacking the basket to cut low-percentage looks out of his diet while generating a career-best amount of free-throw attempts en route to becoming one of the league’s most efficient offensive players.

For a month or so.

The most terrifying aspect, of course, was his postseason performance, in which a moment of lost composure resulted in a suspension that completely derailed his game, sending his shooting percentages spiraling south of 30 percent at the absolute worst possible time for a team in desperate need of a source of offensive firepower against a stalwart Indiana Pacers defense. (This, in an odd little twist of tortured fate, probably made it easier for the Knicks to hang onto Smith.)

By signing this deal, the Knicks are not making a bet that they’ll get Good J.R. rather than Bad J.R. They are acknowledging that they will get both, and that because this roster so desperately needs the former, they will have to live with the latter, and deal with the consequences. You pay your money and you take your chances, and nobody does more of both than the New York Knicks.

The other sticking point, from a Knicks fan’s perspective, are the final two years of Smith’s contract. According to Berman of the Post, the Knicks had discussed with Smith a two-year, $11.5 million contract that would afford Smith the option of hitting free agency again sooner (and with the Knicks holding full Bird rights, enabling them to pay him even more, if the two sides so chose) but would also keep New York on track to maintain maximum flexibility after 2014-15. That didn’t wind up happening, which is sort of a bummer in the longer term.

Those who made arguments in favor of (or, at least, not in total opposition to) the Bargnani deal noted that swapping Bargnani for sharpshooter Steve Novak actually saved New York money in the 2015-16 season, in which Novak is owed a guaranteed $3.75 million but Bargnani will be a free agent. That means the Knicks would only have Raymond Felton’s player option, Iman Shumpert’s qualifying offer and Hardaway Jr.’s rookie deal on the books that summer, priming the pump for a free-agent reload. Adding Smith to the ledger for ’15-’16 and ’16-’17 would seem to at least mitigate, if not undermine, that future flexibility.

There remains a chance that Smith doesn’t see the final year of the deal. For one thing, as NBA.com’s John Schuhmann notes, the dollar amount’s not so wild as to make Smith untradeable at any point during the life of the contract. For another, Isola and Howard Beck of the New York Times both reported Thursday that Smith will hold a player option for the fourth year, meaning he could once again opt out and seek a longer/more lucrative deal after the 2015-16 season, when he’ll be nearing age 31.

Still, the structure of the option places that decision in Smith’s hands, just as the recommitment makes Smith one of the primary determining factors of whether the Knicks can really become a viable title contender.

Deep breaths, Knicks fans. Deep breaths.

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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.

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Dwyane Wade’s scoring impact is historically crucial to this year’s Miami Heat team

We’ve been down this path earlier than. Dwyane Wade’s All-Star-stage play is crucially vital to the Miami Heat. When he cuts and slashes with ease like he did in Thursday’s 32-point outing in Recreation four, scoring within the lane and disrupting the passing lanes on protection, Miami is nearly unbeatable. When he misses on runners, bricks his jumpers, and appears a step-slow on the other end of the court docket? The Heat are fairly vulnerable. This has been apparent to any set of eyes over the last two postseasons.

Thanks to Chris Herring of the Wall St. Journal, though, we now have a qualification of how a lot Dwyane’s common season-typical 20 points per recreation assist the Heat out. Wade, who became “Flash” in Thursday’s Sport four regardless of a nagging knee harm, may just be the largest X-think about NBA playoffs historical past.

From Herring:

The Warmth have received forty two of the forty six games this season wherein Wade scored 20 factors or more.

According to Stats LLC, solely 4 players in the past 25 seasons have logged higher successful percentages in such scenarios: Chicago’s Scottie Pippen (1996), Detroit’s Joe Dumars (1989 and 1990), San Antonio’s Tony Parker (2003) and Boston’s Robert Parish (1986). Every of these males won NBA titles in those years.

Context is crucial, and telling in this occasion.

Pippen battled a heel and back harm all through 1995-ninety six, and whereas he remained maybe the league’s finest defender, his scoring acumen (particularly in the playoffs) suffered. Joe Dumars was an All-Star guard throughout Detroit’s two title runs, but the 1989 NBA Finals MVP was working on a workforce thick with contributors who needed the ball. Tony Parker, in his second season during 2002-03, was a wildly inconsistent performer with a lot to learn, and Robert Parish’s offensive contributions in 1985-86 have been out and out gravy for the most effective Boston Celtic staff of the Larry Fowl period.

The most direct comparison might be made to Pippen. Wade and Scottie serve two completely totally different roles defensively (Pippen was not a roamer by behavior, and also you’d never catch his head turned on that finish), but they both worked as clear Number Twos to the perfect participant of that exact era. They were also the second scoring possibility on high-heavy groups filled with role players, as a result of whereas the 1995-ninety six Chicago Bulls won an NBA file seventy two video games throughout that season, the team really solely had three gamers (Pippen, Michael Jordan, and Toni Kukoc) that would create their own pictures.

This year’s Warmth also ran down a significant milestone, winning a remarkable 27 video games in a row in the course of the regular season, and they’re not to be dismissed simply because they’ve split the primary 4 with a championship-caliber San Antonio Spurs crew throughout this yr’s Finals. They nonetheless are just as top-heavy as these Bulls, and a significant chunk of that high has fallen off fairly a bit because the postseason started. In his piece, Herring details just how far Wade has dropped since the playoff decals hit the ground:

Wade entered Recreation four averaging simply 14 factors per game, a seven-level drop from his regular-season average. That wasn’t just a small concern, it was a historic one: If it held by the end of the playoffs, and the Warmth win anyway, it could mark the steepest fall for a second-main scorer on a title-winning workforce in NBA history.

The Heat should “win anyway.” The Spurs are a implausible staff with a superb coaching employees leading the way, and the chances are pointing toward San Antonio taking Recreation 5 in their ultimate home efficiency in a exceptional season. This is nonetheless a greatest-of three sequence with two to be probably played in Miami, although, and the Heat earned that benefit with a marvelous regular season. And in what has been somewhat under-reported, the defending champs have labored by a remarkably unusual postseason – going through a sub-mediocre Milwaukee Bucks squad earlier than taking on an odd, form-shifting Chicago Bulls team simply before hitting up a batch of Indiana Pacers that also have quite a bit to figure out.

Then there’s the Spurs, who appear to change rotations and outlooks day by day, a team that started Sport four by guarding Wade with Tiago Splitter, the last word diss sent the way of a player that had been the go-to first quarter offensive focus for Miami for the previous few games.

It wasn’t simply Wade that reacted to that batch of disrespect with improved shooting and elevated efficiency. San Antonio could have put all-world defender Kawhi Leonard on Dwyane to start, and it may not have mattered – Miami’s game plan was simply as huge a think about Wade’s Game four revival as the rest. The Heat put their capturing guard in elements of the court that acted as his consolation zone, because the runners that rimmed out in the earlier recreation had been now being launched from acquainted components of the paint. It’s true that Wade had attractiveness in Recreation three, but they weren’t seems to be he was used to. The Warmth went out of their solution to change that in Recreation 4.

San Antonio was aware of this by the time rubbish time hit in Game four, and you understand they’ve had a counter in place since their heads hit the pillows within the wee hours on Friday morning. Wade and the Heat are little question aware of the San Antonio response, they usually’ve had a counter to that counter in thoughts since around the identical time.

So what makes the larger dent? The good and exact unstoppable power or the clever and anticipatory immovable object? Well, that’s what makes these NBA Finals so rattling interesting.

One thing we do know? Dude’s gotta score 20 factors. Dwyane Wade has to find a method to get his, once once more.