NBA Prediction NBA Saturday Night Preview/Pick- Clippers vs. Rockets

NBA Free Pick & Prediction L.A Clippers vs. Rockets

Los Angeles Clippers (51-22, 20-17 away) @ Houston Rockets (49-22, 29-7 home) 02/29- 8:00PM EST


Line: HOU -1.5

Over/Under: 216.5


Yet another big Western Conference showdown will take place on Saturday night when Los Angeles visits the Houston Rockets as the Clippers will be going for the season sweep.


The Rockets (49-22) will be in quest of their 12th straight home victory on Saturday night and a win against a team they have yet to defeat this season will draw them into a third-place tie in the tough Western Conference.


Houston is also riding a five game win streak, having won three of those without center Dwight Howard who was sidelined with a left ankle strain and he responded in his second game back with 17 points and 13 boards in their 120-98 smack down of the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.


James Harden continued his all-star season performance by recording a triple-double with 26 points, 10 boards and 10 assists.


We did a great job of coming out tonight and taking care of business,” said Harden who’s been on a scoring tear averaging 31.3 over his last three games. He is also 12 of 23 from behind the arc in that same span.


Speaking of tears, the Rockets have been lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 118.2 points per game during their win streak and are averaging the same amount of points over their last nine games at the Toyota Center beating opposing teams by an average of 14.6 points per contest.


Having Howard back in the mix and with the team putting points on the board, the Rockets will need all they can muster against the Clippers…. a team that has dominated them winning eight of nine, including taking the first three games by an average of 13.3 points this season.


Los Angeles (51-22) is challenging the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs for the West’s best record and are closing in on their second straight Pacific Division crown. However, the Clippers sit just one game ahead of fourth place Houston after dropping two consecutive games before bouncing back with a big 109-103 road victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.


The big three of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan all responded against the Mavs after losing the night before to New Orleans and understand there is no room for nights off if they want to challenge come playoff time and make some noise.


We knew it was going to be a playoff-type game,” Paul said. “They’re just not playing for their playoff lives; we’re trying to gear up for the playoffs too.”


Despite the Clips having their way with Houston of late, the oddsmakers have faith the home town Rockets will get it done on Saturday night making them a slight (minus -1.5) point favorite with an over/under of 216.5, but as always… stay up to date with the latest spread up until game time right here at Wonder Punter.


Tough one to call between these two teams, but I too am going to agree with the oddsmakers on this one and predict the Rockets to finally find some success and find a way to defeat the visiting Clippers in a close one.


Prediction/Pick- Houston



By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter


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

NBA Free Pick & Prediciton Grizzlies vs. Warriors

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


Line: GSW -2.0

Over/Under- 188.0


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Prediction/Pick- Memphis



By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

NBA Prediction Thursday Night Preview/Pick- Thunder vs. Suns

Oklahoma City Thunder (46-15, 20-9 away) @ Phoenix Suns (35-25, 21-12 home) 03/06- 9:00PM EST


Line: OKC -6.0

Over/Under: 217.5


The Oklahoma City Thunder look to keep rolling as they go into Phoenix in search of their fourth straight win and 12th consecutive victory over the Suns in a Western Conference showdown on Thursday night.


With star Russell Westbrook back in the lineup and appearing to be in game shape following his knee injury, he has team poised and ready to make a strong push into the playoffs.


OKC (46-15) came under fire when Westbrook returned to the lineup and the Thunder dropped three straight at home, but they now appear to have found their game once again lighting up the scoreboard for an average of 118.0 points per game during their win streak.


Westbrook recorded a triple-double (13 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds) in the Thunder’s 125-92 spanking of the lowly Philadelphia 76ers, achieving the feat in the smallest amount of time in 59 years.


I’m just trying to get my groove back,” he said. “I’m blessed to be able to do that in such in a short amount of time. It was fun.”


As good as the Thunder are without Westbrook, he is the man that makes everybody better and makes them a great and dangerous team and is the key to getting the Thunder back into the Finals in a talented and dangerous Western Conference.


With Westbrook back into a groove, that spells trouble for the Phoenix Suns (35-25) who are looking to snap an 11-game losing streak at the hands of the Thunder with Westbrook leading the charge averaging 23.0 points, 7.5 assists with a 49.4 shooting percentage.


For Phoenix, they are still a good team but seem to have fallen off the grid a little without the star point guard Eric Bledsoe, who’s been out since Dec. 30 with a knee injury. Bledsoe has starting practicing once again and is expected back in the coming weeks which is a welcome relieve with backup guard Leandro Barbosa out for the next six weeks with a fractured hand which he injured in Tuesday’s 104-96 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The challenge now will be… can the Suns keep it together until then?


Other guys will to step up,” coach Jeff Hornacek said.


The Suns (35-25) are 2-3 in their last five games and failed to take advantage of a home heavy stretch that will see them play 12 of 15 in Phoenix after Thursday’s contest. 15 of their last 22 games will be played on the road and they will need to find their defense if they want any chance of making a strong playoff run.


Oklahoma is 1-0 so far against the Suns after posting a 103-96 win way back on Nov. 3 and with two teams that appear to be headed into opposite directions, the oddsmakers have made the visiting Thunder a (minus -6.0) point favorite but get the latest odds up until tipoff right here at Wonder Punter.


I too have to agree with the oddsmakers on this one and just feel the Thunder have too much fire power to leave Phoenix with a loss on Thursday night as it will be hard to go against the likes of Kevin Durant, Westbrook and the rest of the talented Thunder.


Prediction/Pick- Oklahoma City



By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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

grizzlies vs thunder

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


Line: OKC -6.0

Over/Under- 192.0


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Spurs at Heat: Betting tips


San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat (-4, 204) What might have been an intriguing rematch of last season's NBA Finals has lost some luster as the San Antonio Spurs head to Miami missing several key players for their showdown with the Heat. The Spurs are down three starters — center Tiago Splitter (shoulder), forward Kawhi Leonard (finger) and guard Danny Green (finger) — but still managed a 105-79 win at Atlanta on Friday to open their three-game road trip. The Heat have won four straight regular-season meetings with San Antonio.

The Heat also have been short-handed recently with star guard Dwyane Wade missing the past four contests because of his ailing knees, but Wade is expected to play against the Spurs, allowing Ray Allen to move back to a reserve role. "It's a luxury to have the group that we have, to be able to rely on other guys when we have some of our big guys out, " Heat star LeBron James told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "With D-Wade being out for a period of gime, to be able to have a Hall of Famer backing him up … it definitely helps us. " Miami has won four straight at home, where it boasts an 18-3 record and has won seven of its eight matchups with Western Conference opponents, while San Antonio is 6-0 on the road against Eastern Conference teams.



1 p. m. ET, ABC

ABOUT THE SPURS (33-10):San Antonio has reeled off a season-high six-game road winning streak since its last defeat away from home Dec. 16 against the Los Angeles Clippers. The streak survived a trip to Atlanta on Friday as reserves Boris Diaw (21 points) and Patty Mills (18) were the unlikely stars. "We've got big shoes to fill until everyone gets back, Mills told reporters. "Guys go down and we have to stick to the game plan. "


Miami has won four of five following a season-high three-game losing streak and remains entrenched in the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference. With Wade sidelined, Chris Bosh has been the No. 2 option behind James (26. 2 points, 6. 9 rebounds, 6. 5 assists) and the big man poured in 31 points in Thursday's 109-102 win over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers. The Heat nonetheless will welcome Wade's return — they're 24-6 when he plays and 7-6 without him. TRENDS:

* Spurs are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 road games. * Heat are 2-5 ATS in their last seven vs. Western Conference. * Under is 6-2 in Spurs last eight overall.

* Over is 9-3 in Heat last 12 home games.


1. James has scored in double figures in 537 consecutive games, the fourth-longest streak in NBA history.

2. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is tied with Red Auerbach for 10th place all-time with 938 wins.

3. Miami is 25-1 when holding opponents under 100 points.

NBA: Who makes the West All-Star team?


 With the NBA All-Star Game taking place in less than eight weeks, it’s time to look at who will be representing the respective conferences in New Orleans. With injuries plaguing both conferences, a fresh crop of talent could be finding themselves on the rosters. We’ll take a look at the Western Conference standouts first.


Last year, the starting lineup for the Western Conference in Houston included Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant in the backcourt, and Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, and Dwight Howard in the frontcourt. This was the first season the balloting eliminated the “Center” position and included three selections for frontcourt players (comprised of Small Forwards, Power Forwards, and Centers). Injuries to Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant have opened up the possibility of a new starting backcourt.


With the second All-Star vote returns from December 26, the West’s leaders in the backcourt included both Bryant (723,031 votes) and Paul (533,647). Rounding out the top five are Stephen Curry (481,698), Jeremy Lin (358,725), and James Harden (270,476). Injured OKC Point Guard Russell Westbrook comes in at sixth with 216,070 votes, followed by four more Point Guards in Tony Parker, Damian Lillard, Ricky Rubio, and injured Lakers Point Guard Steve Nash.


Assuming Bryant’s and Paul’s exclusion from the game, the starters would then comprise of Curry from the Warriors, and either Harden or Lin from the Rockets. Given Lin’s strong fanbase in China, we could see Lin holding on to the second spot, though inconsistent play may give way to his backcourt mate in Harden.


As for the frontcourt returns, Durant is the leadingvote-getter in the West (850,728), and he is currently looking to be joined by Howard (408,623) and Griffin (399,357), which would result in the same starting frontcourt as last year. Howard, playing in his first year with the Rockets, would be making his appearance as a Houston representative instead of a Los Angeles representative. The next four contending starters are all having standout seasons from the Power Forward position, including Kevin Love (377,941), Tim Duncan (312,809), MVP candidate LaMarcus Aldridge (282,613), and Sophomore phenom Anthony Davis (188,589).


In anticipation of the starting lineup comprising of current vote leaders (not including Paul or Bryant), we would then see Curry, Lin, Durant, Griffin, and Howard leading the West. The bench, which comprise of two guards, three frontcourt players, and two wildcards, could wind-up being more difficult to select. These bench players are voted on by the Western Conference Head Coaches, and no coach can vote for a player on his own team.


The most likely candidates for the last two backcourt spots include Harden, Parker, and Lillard. Two of these three will likely take the backcourt spots, and the third could potentially be used as a wildcard. The most competition for these spots will come from Dallas’ Monta Ellis, Phoenix’s Goran Dragic, and Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio. Lack of exposure will likely prevent these three from overtaking the spots, however, as Harden, Parker, and Lillard represent three of the best teams record-wise.


In the frontcourt, Love, Duncan, and Aldridge are all worthy candidates for the bench based on both team success and individual success. Love is dominating the league individually, and both the Spurs and Trailblazers are in the hunt for the best record in the West.


With the game taking place in New Orleans, it would be extremely fitting if Pelicans forward Davis made the roster for the first time. This will likely be fulfilled as either a frontcourt or wildcard selection. The most notable competition for the wildcard spots should come from Andre Iguodala, the stabilizing factor on a surging Golden State roster, and DeMarcus Cousins, a young beast in Sacramento’s frontcourt. Iguodala may end up missing out due to being outshined by fellow Warrior Stephen Curry. If Cousins misses out, it is unlikely to happen again due to his rising presence and exposure as one of the top young Centers in the league.


Stay tuned for more coverage as the next returns from voting should be coming soon. Look for our follow-up feature detailing the prevailing candidates from the Eastern Conference later this week.


NBA Playoffs: Who Survives the Loaded Western Conference? Predictions

western conference

NBA Prediction Western Conference 2013

On Wednesday, we set our sights on the playoffs by predicting which eight teams comprise the Eastern Conference playoff bracket. As a follow-up, we will now shift our focus to the Western Conference and project the eventual representatives.



The Western Conference is decidedly stronger than the East this year based on team records. As of Friday, the team in ninth overall place in the West, Golden State, boasts a record of 14-13. This record would be good enough for 4th in the East, but unfortunately places the Warriors in the lottery based on the loaded Western Conference.


Were the season to end tonight, the Western Conference playoff representatives would comprise, in order, of Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Los Angeles (Clippers), Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and Denver. This current standing is a result of some unexpected early season performances.


Portland has been the most surprisingly upstart team of from the West so far. A balanced rotation and lethal offense has given way to a league-best 22 wins. An equally surprising playoff team, as of today, is Phoenix. Loaded with young talent and playing cohesively under first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek, the Suns appear well-suited to compete for a playoff berth.


It may be easier to predict the playoff representatives by eliminating the teams set on “tanking” this season. Sacramento and Utah, though they both play host to an abundance of young talent in players like DeMarcus Cousins, Ben McLemore, Derrick Favors, and Trey Burke, would be better suited to set their sights on the NBA Draft, when college phenoms Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Julius Randle are expected to declare for the pro’s.


For four of the teams currently out of the playoff mix, injuries have been a source of collective misfortune. Golden State, at ninth, lost Andre Iguodala to a hamstring injury for 12 games, posting a record of 5-7. The Los Angeles Lakers, 11th with a record of 12-13, have been derailed by injuries to their entire point guard staff, and Kobe Bryant’s latest injury is sure to set them back even further.


New Orleans was without budding star Anthony Davis for seven days after the sophomore power forward broke his hand, and the Pelicans went 3-4 in his absence. Memphis has likely been the most unlucky team out of all of them, as they have had to play without Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol, starters Mike Conley and Tayshaun Prince, and rotational swingman Quincy Pondexter who has been lost for the season.


Of the teams currently outside of the playoff mix, the ones most likely to play their way out of the lottery would have to be Golden State and Minnesota. The Warriors possess possibly the most dangerous offenses led by “Splash Brothers” Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Iguodala’s return to the lineup shores up the team’s defense and allows second-year wing Harrison Barnes to return to the bench.


The Timberwolves have lighting it up of the offensive end, coming into Friday scoring the 3rd most PPG at 105.7. Their most apparent struggles have been on the road (5-9) and against other teams in the Western Conference (6-8).


As for the teams most likely to fall out of the playoff picture, Phoenix is definitely the most prime suspect. With the eighth toughest Strength of Schedule in the league, the Suns can be expected to succumb to their lack of veteran leadership, and they would also be better suited to try their luck in the upcoming draft.


We can say with reasonable certainty that there are five locks in the West for the playoffs: Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Los Angeles, and Houston. Assuming the Suns eventual regression, that leaves three spot for four real contenders in Dallas, Denver, Golden State, and Minnesota. Denver can probably be counted on to stumble a bit without projected starters Danilo Gallinari and Javale McGee, both of whom are without timetables for their returns. They should be able to hang on to one of the last two playoff spots, as fellow competitor Minnesota has the second toughest schedule in the NBA.


We’re counting on the eventual Western Conference playoff bracket consisting of, in no particular order, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Denver, and Golden State. Look for us to revisit these projections as the season winds on. 


By Austin Murphy – WonderPunter


Jack Jewsbury: Portland Timbers “similar” to his 2004 Wizards team that overcame two-goal deficit

Photograph Credit score:

Craig Mitchelldyer,

BEAVERTON, Ore. – It was one of many precept highlights of Jack Jewsbury’s laudable eleven-12 months MLS career.

It was 2004, and Jewsbury’s then-Kansas Metropolis Wizards had been heading into the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals of the MLS Cup playoffs trailing the San Jose Earthquakes by two targets in the mixture.

Within the memorable game at Arrowhead Stadium, a first-half goal by Kansas City rookie Khari Stephenson gave the Wizards life. Then a second-half personal purpose by San Jose’s Brian Ching appeared to have the game destined for extra time.

However Jewsbury, then in his second skilled season out of St. Louis University, grew to become the unlikely hero with an exhilarating stoppage-time aim that sent his crew to the MLS Cup final. Now Jewsbury’s Portland Timbers are in the identical situation after their four-2 loss to Real Salt Lake final Sunday in the first leg of the Westerm Conference Championship at Rio Tinto Stadium.

“I just remember once we were within the recreation and we have been in a position to get a goal in the first half, I feel that obviously modifications the game as a result of a two-purpose lead is a tricky one, you’re feeling pretty assured about where you’re at,” Jewsbury said, recalling that recreation in a conversation with after Monday’s coaching session at the workforce facility. “But you get the primary one and the mindset modifications on either side.”

Even though Jewsbury stated there hasn’t been a lot discuss of the foremost hurdle the Timbers face heading into Sunday’s game at JELD-WEN Field (9 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN Deportes) and nor are his teammates asking about that sport in 2004, he did say he sees a lot of similarities in the two teams in how they’re approaching the challenge.

“It’s a very related locker room by way of there’s just a perception throughout the group,” Jewsbury stated. “No person is absolutely speaking about what a big surprise it will be if we had been in a position to overcome it. … It was a really arduous working trustworthy crew; it actually does remind me of this group, a very humble group and a group that was successful throughout the year. And it does have some mirror images of what this workforce stands for.”

And Jewsbury may very properly again play a key position if the Timbers are capable of match what the Wizards achieved nine years ago. The correct again has two assists within the playoffs after recording only one in the common season.

He said it’s been a mix of higher balls into the box on his part, timed with good runs and the protection collapsing on Portland’s harmful playmakers in the middle of the field, most notably Darlington Nagbe.

“We have now sufficient guys in the last third and our front 4 and five guys that they’ll create their very own probabilities. If there’s a chance to get ahead and get some balls in and create some chances, obviously I want to do that,” Jewsbury stated of his assists, which included the cross that set up the Timbers’ key second goal in stoppage time in opposition to RSL.

And in a game the place the Timbers will look to be on their front foot all night time, sending big numbers forward might imply one other situation for Jewsbury heroics.

“It’s a effective line since you wish to push forward and create chances,” he mentioned, “but on the end of the day, your first position is to stop them from scoring and maintaining a clear sheet.”


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Spurs in form as Green paces rout of Knicks

NEW YORK – Even along with his team main the Western Conference, Gregg Popovich said Sunday morning his San Antonio Spurs had been playing C+ or B- basketball, adding there was “not much” he liked about their begin.

The Spurs, he mentioned, were profitable due to “luck,” “corporate knowledge,” and since “they’re older than grime.”

Apparently Pop is as robust on his pupils as he is on these sideline reporters, though a a hundred and twenty-89 rout of the New York Knicks bumped up their grades.

“I thought tonight we played a good, strong B+, A- game,” Popovich stated. “There have been some good issues out there.”

Simply not from the crew in orange. Coach Mike Woodson stated the Knicks played with no pride, even with one of the NBA’s marquee franchises making its lone go to to Madison Sq. Garden.

Danny Green had 24 factors and a profession-excessive 10 rebounds within the Spurs’ fourth straight victory. Kawhi Leonard scored 18 factors and Tony Parker had 17 in a recreation that was shut for about 3 minutes. San Antonio scored the primary 10 factors, led by as many as 37, and was in full control in between.

“It was embarrassing for us to come right here on our residence court and lose a recreation like this,” Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony mentioned. “It wasn’t about dropping the game, it was just how we lost the game. We did not compete right this moment and it confirmed on the market on the courtroom.”

Tim Duncan took simply four shots but completed with 11 factors and 10 rebounds as San Antonio (6-1) shot 54 p.c.

The Spurs spoiled the season debut of Knicks guard J.R. Smith, last season’s Sixth Man of the Yr. Suspended the first five video games of the season for violating the NBA’s anti-drug program, Smith shot 1 of 9 and scored 5 points in 20 minutes.

Anthony and Andrea Bargnani both scored sixteen for the Knicks, who have been outrebounded fifty one-33 and fell to 2-4 after a 6-zero begin final season.

“I’m not frightened but we do should determine it out,” Anthony stated. “Whatever it is we now have to figure out shortly, but so far as being concerned, I’m not nervous about that. But we need to figure it out.”

The Spurs scored just 76 points a victory over Golden State on Friday, but had every little thing working offensively proper from the opening tip Sunday.

Inexperienced hit two three-pointers within the 10-0 start, Marco Belinelli’s three made it 17-4, and the Spurs hit thirteen of 18 shots whereas opening a 35-17 lead after one quarter, matching their highest-scoring period of the season.

The lead grew to 24 factors in the second, the Spurs repeatedly moving the ball to an open participant before the Knicks knew what was happening. San Antonio was making roughly two of each three pictures for much of the first half and took a sixty one-forty five lead into the locker room after taking pictures 62 percent.

“We simply played our recreation and we made shots,” Parker stated. “If you make photographs it helps, and the ball motion was nice.”

Smith, who ended the postseason in a miserable capturing hunch, opened this season the identical manner. He missed all 5 shots within the first half, unable to shake the rust after appearing in only one preseason recreation following summer time knee surgical procedure.

“I didn’t feel rusty in any respect. I just missed loads of pictures, didn’t get to the basket like I needed to and general I didn’t have an excellent recreation,” Smith said.

By the time he made a three-pointer with eight:forty three left in the third quarter for his first basket, the Knicks trailed by 26 points. The Spurs went up by 30 a couple of minutes in a while one other three by Green, and fans loudly booed when Amar’e Stoudemire missed both free throws with a little less than three minutes left in the interval.

The Knicks received each meetings last season, sweeping the Spurs for the first time in 10 years. But with middle Tyson Chandler sidelined with a broken leg, New York looked defenseless against the Western Conference champions.

It was such a laugher that Popovich had Duncan, a profession sixty nine p.c free throw shooter, take the shot when Woodson was known as for a technical foul within the third quarter. Naturally, the way this one went, Duncan made it.


Recreation notes


Popovich will face one in every of his former assistants Monday when the Spurs go to the Philadelphia 76ers, coached by Brett Brown… Metta World Peace scored 13 factors for the Knicks.


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D’Antoni says Kobe like great Secretariat

Kobe Bryant is used to hearing comparisons to the NBA’s all-time greats, to everybody from Michael Jordan to Elgin Baylor, however Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni referenced not only a different sport but a special species in describing Bryant on Tuesday.

“Kobe is a singular particular person and he’s very headstrong,” D’Antoni instructed “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on ESPN Radio. “And one of the the reason why he’s been the perfect within the game, and will likely be and is, is that he is that way.

“You are undoubtedly not dealing with him, you are attempting to work with him. And he has sure ideas and you take that away from him after which he turns into slightly bit extra regular. And he’s something but normal. So it’s a problem on the identical time.

“It is most likely like using Secretariat. I imply, you rise up there, there’s numerous instances all you might be doing is using. He’s carrying you. And Kobe’s carrying us rather a lot. Obviously you want to sure things to melt up, however you’ll be able to’t take away his spirit.”

Secretariat, after all, is the thoroughbred racehorse that gained the Triple Crown in 1973 and captivated the nation.

Bryant, in the meantime, is lacking opening night time for the first time since 2006 as he recovers from Achilles surgical procedure on his left leg. D’Antoni confirmed after the shootaround that Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Nick Young, Shawne Williams and Pau Gasol have been the Lakers’ starters in opposition to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Bryant played a median of 45.7 minutes in the seven video games main as much as suffering the Achilles tear on April 12 and later suggested it was his resolution to play as much as he did and that D’Antoni couldn’t have benched him even when the coach had tried.

D’Antoni was asked if a extra aggressive teaching model would be better suited for dealing with the headstrong Bryant.

“I better carry around an elephant gun or something,” D’Antoni joked. “Previous coaches, I think everyone will inform you, you got to be who you are, since you try to be any person you are not and it will get you. It’d work for 5 minutes nevertheless it’s not going to work in the long term. I attempt to stick to who I am and attempt to make it work. I believe the underside line, although there are some bumps and bruises right here and there, is Kobe will lead you to victories.

“And sometimes it’s a must to swallow your pleasure a little bit bit. You may’t get into a ‘put him in a corner, put me in a nook’ form of match. You do not get that far. Generally it takes simply attempting to determine it out collectively. Finally he desires to do the identical thing I do. He wants to be nice and win. And I would like him to be nice and win. So we just received to try to figure it out.”

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers stated Tuesday he want to see Bryant play in the remaining three Lakers-Clippers video games this season.

“I’ve two sides to that. The competitive aspect of me says ‘sure,’ ” Rivers mentioned. “The rational facet of me thinks different things. I mean, he will be back. I would like him to be again, I really do. I feel Kobe is important to L.A. I feel he’s important to the NBA and I believe we must always cherish him as long as he’s going to play and I really consider that. I couldn’t stand playing in opposition to him in Boston.

“I can’t get pleasure from playing against him right here, however I do like seeing him on the ground. He is a uncommon one. He’s a one percenter. There may be only a few guys to ever play like Kobe Bryant and I believe all of us, every time we get an opportunity, we should always take that chance and watch him play.”

Within the meantime, the Lakers will try to figure out find out how to win without Bryant, who’s sidelined indefinitely as he continues the rehabilitation course of.

With Bryant out, Dwight Howard with the Houston Rockets and the rest of the Lakers’ roster revolving round growing old superstars in Nash and Gasol, D’Antoni acknowledged that making the postseason might be a tall job.

“I can perceive why ESPN, I feel they picked us 12th and I understand that,” D’Antoni stated, referencing the NBA Summer time Forecast that predicted the Lakers would end twelfth in the Western Conference. “If my producer instructed me, ‘OK, make them 12th,’ I could put out a case there why they’re 12th.

“But when my producer says, ‘Make them a playoff workforce,’ right here you go: Kobe will get effectively, Steve Nash has a very good 12 months, Pau Gasol is without doubt one of the finest centers within the league, they put it together, a couple of the young guys reach the potential that they haven’t but, and that is what we have now to do.

“Maybe I have about six eventualities and 4 of them should work out. You recognize, Xavier Henry has to have a really, really good yr – thus far he has bounced around somewhat bit – so simply so many issues like that that we’re working on, and if that happens, then yeah, we’ll make the playoffs.”

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NBA Game Recap- Lakers Bench Blowout Clippers


Los Angeles Clippers- 103

Los Angeles Lakers- 116


For one night anyway, the “Hallway Rivalry” between the Clippers and Lakers became a laugher when the Lakers bench punished the Clipper starters in the fourth quarter to the tune of 41 points and 76 total points on a night from the reserves as the Lakers rolled to a 116-103 ‘unexpected’ win.


Not many people expected this young Kobe-less Lakers team to show up on opening night and beat a Clippers ball club many picked to contend for a Western Conference championship.


This is not the same Lakers team of 2012-13… this team is younger, quicker, more athletic, and playing with energy. No expectations… just play the game.


It’s not a bad thing to be the underdog sometimes,” said Lakers’ Jodie Meeks. “No expectations. We go out there and play hard. What’s the worst that can happen? We lose, and people say we’re no good?”


Not one Laker starter played in the fourth quarter as coach Mike D’Antoni elected to stay with his bench and they responded to the tune of 41 points scored to the Clippers 24.


Mike (D’Antoni) did a great thing: He didn’t bring his starters back in.” Rivers said. “There was a point where I was thinking: ‘Please bring them back in.”


Xavier Henry led all players with 22-points (12 in the fourth quarter).


We’re a deep team, and people don’t think we’re that good,” Henry said. “That always fuels us. People are saying we’re going to finish 12th or whatever, but we have a great group of guys who go out there and play hard. We’re young, we’re athletic. We go after it.”


All the talk coming in to the game was about the Clippers finally being “the team” in L.A. New coach in Doc Rivers, new faces, new attitude, new identity, high expectations. But, it was the Lakers who were not quite ready to relinquish the title of “L.A.’s Team.”


We were not ready tonight,” said Rivers. “(The Lakers) have heard for probably the last two months how good (the Clippers) were going to be… so you knew that they were going to play like this was the world championship—with that type of energy. And I thought we never matched it. Everything they did was harder than us and more physical than us. They destroyed us on the glass and destroyed us in turnovers. So it was a good lesson for us.”


The Clippers swept the Lakers last season winning all four.


You’ve got to give it to them. They outplayed us,” Griffin said. “They did a good job. They were ready. They turned up the heat in the fourth quarter and didn’t respond.”


Oh, man, it seemed like it happened so fast,” Clippers’ Chris Paul said. “Those guys executed their game plan, and when you’re missing somebody like Kobe, you feed off that energy”


For tonight at least and ‘til next time… the Lakers own the bragging rights.

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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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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Report: Westbrook participates in on-court drills

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook participated in some on-court drills for the first time since present process knee surgical procedure earlier this month, in keeping with the Every day Oklahoman.



“There were bits and pieces the place Russell participated in follow, so that was good,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks informed the newspaper. “It was good to get everybody out there, working together.”

The All-Star, who will miss the primary four to six weeks of the common season, needed the operation after experiencing swelling in his right knee, which he injured during final season’s playoffs. Westbrook had surgical procedure on the same knee in Might to repair a torn lateral meniscus.

Previously, Westbrook had been on the court docket through the portion of observe open to the media, going through mild workouts with the training employees, in keeping with the report.

Westbrook averaged 23.2 points and seven.4 assists per game final season for the Thunder, who finished with the top seed within the Western Conference playoffs. He was injured in Game 2 of a primary-round series in opposition to the Houston Rockets, a matchup gained by Oklahoma City in six games.

Westbrook was harm April 24 when Rockets rookie Patrick Beverley lunged for a steal as Westbrook stopped to call a timeout in the second quarter. He remained in the sport, and it wasn’t until two days later that the team stated he’d miss the rest of the playoffs.

For more NCAA NBA MLB NFL, Scores, Reviews, Previews, and Picks, 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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The balance of power has shifted east in NHL

Trending Matters is a column that appears at the week in hockey, often in response to Twitter. When you’re only going to remark to say how silly Twitter is, why not just go have an excellent cry for the slow, sad death of your expensive web as an alternative? Getty Images

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Since outing of thoughts in the NHL (you realize, relationship back like two lockouts ago), the Western Conference has been appreciably stronger than the East. The teams that aren’t clustered up and down the east coast of the continent lengthy held sway by way of general high quality, even when they’d a basic paucity of really superstar gamers.

While Sid Crosby and Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos had been lighting up the league in a lot of the last several years, five of the last seven Stanley Cup winners got here out of the West, as did seven of the last 9 Presidents’ Trophy winners. When checked out as a complete, the West consistently was producing No. 6, 7, and eight seeds that may have been division winners within the East.

But now, it’s time to ask if these days have come to an finish. Yes, with the shift of the Purple Wings to the Japanese Convention, the West lost certainly one of its giants, however extra importantly it appears that evidently the teams within the East that are actually good have lastly and definitively handed their Western counterparts. Whereas it is not essentially truthful to base such a seismic shift on outcomes from last season, which featured no interconference video games, there was a fair split among prime-10 teams in the league between the East and West.

Five apiece may not sound like a big quantity, and certainly that’s the identical quantity as the 2 previous seasons, however with the Red Wings moving East and doubtlessly pounding on the weaker siblings in its new division (getting Toronto, Florida and Tampa five times a yr every all but guarantees the Wings another playoff look).

Moreover, although, the Canucks appear to be pretty much achieved as a real energy on this league, as they had been for the last a number of years, the Geese look like they will regress arduous, and adding the Jets to the Western picture helps no one however the actual good teams of their division — of which there are two — pad out their stats a bit bit.

Interestingly, due to the imbalance within the number of teams in each conference, it appears very doubtless that individuals will probably be complaining in regards to the variety of crap teams from Conference III moving into the playoffs over these from the East that actually deserved to participate within the postseason. The odds that the third-place crew behind the Blackhawks and Blues — perhaps the Predators, perhaps the Wild — have fewer factors than the fourth-place staff in both the PatrickPlus or Flortheast (or each, I suppose) seems terribly excessive.

Based on what we noticed last season, there’s little reason to believe that Chicago will not be the most effective staff within the league once again. They’re superbly constructed and lost relatively little by way of actual strong contributors this summer season. They might miss Dave Bolland, they might miss Viktor Stalberg, however they won’t miss either a lot that they are not an early Cup favorite once once more.

After that, although, it’s a must to suppose that the true seat of energy is within the PatrickPlus.

Pittsburgh is there, the Rangers look poised to cease enjoying disappointingly now that they have a brand new coach Henrik Lundqvist and some of their skillsier forwards does not actively hate, the Islanders seem to be on an upward trajectory even when their present goaltending state of affairs stays at the least somewhat unnerving, and you may’t think about that the Flyers do as poorly this time around as they did last season.

Columbus is a bit of a wild card, obviously, and I am not sure they can replicate one thing like last season with their solely major addition this offseason having been an injured Nathan Horton.

New Jersey could be truly terrible, and I’m undecided how much I belief Washington to do nicely exterior the Southeast, or Alex Ovechkin to replicate anything near an MVP performance. I suspect the reply is “very little.”

The Flortheast is pretty credible too, although. Boston cannot really hope for rather more mileage than they bought final yr, but that still gets them pretty far. The Senators have improved, the Purple Wings have are available, the Canadiens are seemingly going to complete fairly high despite their best efforts to signal nothing however rubbish this summer time. The much less mentioned about Toronto, Buffalo and the Florida groups, the higher clearly, however nonetheless that’s four out of eight groups I’d charge as being at the least good, and in some instances doubtlessly nice.

The West not so much. Chicago and Los Angeles are the only one’s I might consider robust sufficient on paper to be anything like a Cup favorite, with St. Louis and San Jose a ways back of them. After that, how good anyone is, in an entire 14-group convention, could be very much open for interpretation. The Canucks’ means to succeed beneath a new coach, who’s going to ask the Sedins to block pictures, seems up in the air.

The remaining questions are much more pressing. Can Edmonton take a large enough step ahead? Can Minnesota overcome a shaky goaltending scenario and lack of forward depth? Can Nashville get anybody to score goals? Was final-yr Mike Smith the Mike Smith we at all times thought he was going to be? Can Dallas or Colorado enhance in any appreciable means? I’m unsure there’s any good answer to these questions. Not any that those teams would love to listen to, at any fee.

It will probably be very interesting to see how the convention imbalance affects things going forward; it will be a lot easier to make the playoffs in the West than the East, and that’s not going to vary any time soon (barring an expansion workforce or two being added to the mix, only for fun).

Teams in the East also are usually the ones that make some huge cash, and by and large they look like they are going to have a good amount more cap area in the coming years when the ceiling reaches heights that start to resemble these in a few of Europe’s grander cathedrals.

All of which doesn’t precisely foreshadow good things for the way forward for the Western Conference and its collective Stanley Cup aspirations, however identical to after they needed to offload all their good gamers after the 2010 Final, the Blackhawks do appear to love a problem.


The 10-man rotation, starring 15 minutes of Magic Johnson being awesome (Video)

Getty Images (Ed. Notice: Welcome to the Puck Daddy 2013 summer time challenge, the National Hockey League of Nations. We’ve recruited 30 writers/blogs to determine one of the best player of their favorite group’s history for each main nationality that creates the material of our beloved NHL: Canada, USA, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland and The Rest of The World. It’s their standards, so long as they can justify it. Learn, debate and enjoy! If you wish to do so on Twitter, it’s #NHLoN.)

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By Mike Berg, Jared Mason and Nick Henry of Hitting The Post

You have to grasp the mentality of Wild followers.

We are, frankly, a fragile bunch. We love the game of hockey and we expect we know it better than another Individuals (and no less than 52 % of Canucks followers). But we are additionally principally Atlanta-North in the case of holding onto teams.

The Wild organization, typically very advertising-savvy, makes an attempt to bolster our self-confidence with the whole State of Hockey thing, which alternately stokes the embers of pride or serves as a mocking tribute to our struggles with self-doubt.

So exercises like this are tricky for us. Because, if we’re being trustworthy, it’s a little embarrassing to peruse our all-time roster. It’s a visit from the Ghost of North Stars Past, a reminder that they had to transfer to Texas to win the Cup, which implies there’s no Worsley, Goldsworthy, Meloche or Ciccarelli obtainable.

It’s additionally a visit from the Ghost of Risebrough Past, and the string of schlubs that Lemaire’s teaching system and brilliance allowed Doug to get by with signing to one-approach contracts during his reign of apathy. With all due respect to Lubomir Sekeras…you’re Lubomir Sekeras.

And it’s also a slap within the face with the chilly, lifeless fish of actuality that, though we love the sport like no other Americans, we do not have an excellent track record of manufacturing individuals who can play the game at its highest levels.

Minnesota….well Minnesota produces grinders. The Sons of Minnesota are like the Shoveler in Mystery Men: we shovel very effectively. For each Parise we’ve a homicide of Brotens, a passel Christians, a Wyatt Smith. Here a Mark Parrish, there a Darby Hendrickson. No, we aren’t a flashy lot.

Yes, the historical past of the Minnesota Wild is relatively unremarkable, in pretty much all aspects. Heck, many of the “best” players we’ve managed to stuff into a Wild uniform tend to have one factor in common: they peaked earlier than they obtained to St. Paul (e.g. Heatley).

But they are all we now have. So right here is our list.

Canada: Andrew Brunette

A veteran of not one, not two, but three expansion franchises, Andrew Brunette sits behind only Marian Gaborik in targets scored in a Wild sweater, and fourth total in assists and factors. While fellow Canadian Pierre-Marc Bouchard can tie goalies in knots (Bonjour, Monsieur Khabibulin), his history of injuries and incapacity to produce within the post-season (9 profession post-season factors in 21 games) easily yields to Brunette’s Wild playoff prowess, the cherry on the top of which is of course the objective that ended the profession of Patrick Roy, and different related play. While Brunette was not identified for his skating, dimension, or overwhelming skill, he does stand out in his constant play over his profession and his skill to make these round him higher.

Honorable Mentions: Bouchard, Wes Walz

Finland : Niklas Backstrom

Finland obviously comes right down to Mikko Koivu or Backstrom. It is particularly tough to choose since they’ve been with the crew for the pretty much the same amount of time (Koivu’s got yet another year). The Org has made the Wild Koivu’s crew however it could relatively simply be argued that Backstrom has been extra valuable to the group throughout their careers. He got here in and has constantly been number one ever since; Koivu needed to build his game and rep to get to the place he is right this moment.

For Koivu, the most typical argument towards him is whether or not or not his sport as we speak is worthy of how much he’s asked and paid to do. There are fewer questions on Backstrom’s sport, and although his final contract had a moderately lofty cap hit, he got here out of it with a brand new hit that’s remarkably decrease because he desires to play in Minnesota.

With that kind of gesture, who cares where a man comes from?

Backstrom is a high second-tier NHL starting goalie. Koivu is likely to be a second line center being asked to play on the top line.

Honorable Point out: Antti Miettinen… Oh, and Mikko Koivu

USA: Ryan Suter

It was tempting to talk about Zach Parise or Brian Rolston, however the ’13 season confirmed that Ryan Suter was the real prize when Chuck Fletcher gained the Parise/Suter Lottery on July 4, 2012. Suter spent more time on the ice this year than Mike’s Uncle Scoop, who’s spent a long time of winters trying making an attempt to land Sneaky Pete, the monster Northern, out on Lake Waconia. And consider me, he appears lots higher, too. After a shaky begin to the season (-7 within the first 10 games) learning to play with someone not named Shea Weber, Suter settled in and located his sport.

Adding to his value is how effectively Jonas Brodin established himself in a Wild sweater. Appearing as a mentor and a stabilizing issue for the young Swede, Suter performed himself into a Norris nomination and his companion nearly right into a Calder nomination.

As much as we like Parise and Rolston, neither can put that on his resume.

Honorable Mentions: Parise, Rolston

Sweden: Jonas Brodin

This one is a stretch, and we will cop to that immediately.

But considering that the one critical rivalry comes from Rickard Wallin and Kim Johnsson, we’re sticking with our story. Brodin was drafted in 2011, and arrived in North America a yr later, able to play in Houston. An damage slowed his improvement and later, accidents paved the best way to strive his hand within the NHL.

He never seemed back. He led all rookies in ice time and didn’t look out of place next to Ryan Suter. Granted, we think that Ryan Suter could make Martin Skoula appear to be an NHL defenseman, however we’ll still take a guy who can transfer the puck out of hurt’s method over the man who journeys on the Blue Line on a nightly foundation. Brodin’s skating is remarkable and his imaginative and prescient is what hockey wet dreams are made from.

Honorable Mentions: Wallin, Johnsson

Russia: Andrei Zyuzin

The pickings are fairly slim here. Exactly 4 Russians have donned a Wild uniform, and the others are … not outstanding. Frankly, the one thing that units Zyuzin apart here is that his title isn’t Sergei Krivokrasov, Maxim Sushinski, or Andrei Nazarov.

Honorable Mention: I don’t know, um, Vladimir Putin?

Slovakia: Marian Gaborik

Maybe the player with probably the most outright talent to ever grace the home locker room of the Xcel Vitality Heart, Marian Gaborik offered scores of Oohs and Aahs amongst Wild fans. The one factor that saved Gaborik from scoring was a hacky-sack. That mentioned, his speed was, and still is, an actual sight. Once you see him transfer up the ice, you surprise how a human being can transfer that quick on the ice with out assistance from an Acme Ice Rocket.

Also, not many gamers can release the puck from their stick and beat a goalie cleanly better than Gaborik. When paired with buddy and fellow Slovak Pavol Demitra, Gaborik was the most effective participant on the ice most nights. Over 125 games in two seasons with Demitra, Gaborik potted 72 targets and garnered sixty eight assists.

Honorable Mention: Demitra

Czech Republic: Martin Havlat

At 0.77 factors per game in two seasons, Havlat trumps Filip Kuba and Marek Zidlicky in production for the Wild. Havlat’s skating, stickhandling and on-ice vision made him an enormous part of the Wild for the two seasons he spent right here. However, his greatest value came in being the piece that brought Dany Heatley to the Wild.

Honorable Mentions: Kuba, Zidlicky


Latvia: Sergei Zholtok

In the early years, Zholtok was one of many Wild’s most-dependable scorers. Throughout Zholtok’s three seasons with the Wild, he finished 4th, 5th, and 4th in scoring, respectively from 2001-2002 to 2003-2004. And he completed 4th in 2003-’04 despite getting traded on the deadline. Keep in mind: finishing prime 5 in scoring on those Wild groups was something akin to discovering the wheel, such had been the offensive struggles of these growth-era Wild teams.

Zholtok really personified the crazy, shocking, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid run to the Western Conference Finals in ’03: scrappy, onerous-working, unassuming…. Zholtok went dwelling to Latvia to play out the lockout, where his life would sadly end. Fittingly at residence, however on account of coronary heart problems – a destiny that was exhausting for most people who knew or rooted for him to reconcile.

Honorable Mention: Richard Park (South Korea), Owen Nolan (Eire)


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Also, I bear in mind this happening:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Nets ‘moving on’ from signing Bojan Bogdanovic; 2011 draft pick to stay in Turkey this season

Bojan Bogdanovic drives on Jeff Green during a 2012 exhibition game. (David Dow/NBAE/Getty Images)

UPDATE:’s Ken Berger shares a report from Turkish site TrendBasket suggesting Bogdanovic is close to a new three-year deal with Fenerbahçe, which would seem to cast even more doubt on the future prospects for his arrival in Brooklyn.

Just when the Brooklyn Nets appeared to be finished retooling their bench for the 2013-14 season, the July 10 end of the NBA’s moratorium on trades and free-agent signings presented a bit of a snag.

General manager Billy King told reporters at the NBA’s Orlando Summer League on Wednesday morning that he was “concerned” about being able to successfully import 2011 second-round draft pick Bojan Bogdanovic, with whom Brooklyn had agreed to terms on a three-year contract last week. Completing that agreement, though, would mean reaching a deal with Fenerbahçe Ülker, the Turkish team for whom the 24-year-old small forward has played the past two seasons, on a buyout of the final season of Bogdanovic’s European contract.

The most the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement would allow the Nets to contribute to such a buyout would be $575,000, according to Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap FAQ; Fenerbahçe had reportedly been seeking $2 million in exchange for letting Bogdanovic walk, and the balance would have to come out of his NBA salary (which reportedly would have started at around $2.5 million this season). That, obviously, is quite a gulf, and a bit of a problem for Bogdanovic, which turned into a bit of a problem for Brooklyn.

Shortly after King aired his concerns, NetsDaily reported that the Nets had “decided to ‘move on’ without [Bogdanovic] and will pursue ‘Plan B,'” with a league source terming the decision “final and definite.” Multiple sources soon confirmed as much to Howard Beck of the New York Times before King himself shared the news with Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. So — for right now, at least — it appears that there’ll be no Bojan in Brooklyn.

“For right now” is key. The Nets will reportedly still retain the NBA rights to the Croatian forward — who’s reportedly a legitimate long-range threat 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 can also make some things happen off the dribble — and will have another opportunity to sign him and bring him over to the States next summer. However, waiting another year opens up the opportunity that Fenerbahçe or another European club could present the 6-foot-7 (or 6-foot-8, depending on who you talk to) shooter with a lucrative long-term offer that keeps him across the sea for even longer.

In the short term stateside, the scuttling of Bogdanovic’s deal presents King and the Nets with the problem of having no real backup to soon-to-be-acquired starting small forward Paul Pierce. The ranks of available and viable three-men are growing thinner by the second in free agency, meaning Brooklyn’s brass could find themselves scrambling for a strong, depth-providing fit on the wing with only the taxpayer’s midlevel exception (which starts at just under $3.2 million this season) at their disposal in making signings. From Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:

Now the team will have to go in another direction to find depth behind him, with King saying that using the full mid-level on one player, or splitting it to use on multiple players, are both possible scenarios in play for the team if Bogdanovic doesn’t take it.

“There’s one [player worth the full exception], possibly,” King said, “and then there’s some other guys that maybe we’ll split it up and give it to a couple guys to fill the role.”

One possible option is Russian Andrei Kirilenko, who has been linked to the Nets multiple times over the last couple of seasons due to his relationship with owner Mikhail Prokhorov. But Kirilenko turned down a $10 million player option for this upcoming season to stay in Minnesota, and while he isn’t expected to get that much money on his new deal, it remains to be seen if he’d be willing to come to the Nets for the $3.183 million they’d be able to offer him using the full mini-mid level exception.

Kirilenko would figure to be an absolute godsend for Brooklyn, and the market for him appears to be less robust than he anticipated when he declined to pick up his player option with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that contract talks between the Wolves and the Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs on a sign-and-trade that would have landed the 32-year-old Russian forward in Texas fell by the wayside, and after myriad agreed-upon signings and trades go through, there might not be a whole lot of teams with significant cap space left.

That said, a three- or four-year deal for the mini-MLE still feels way too light for Kirilenko’s services, making it more likely that the Nets find themselves discount-shopping in search of wing depth behind the about-to-turn-36 Pierce and Joe Johnson, who last season battled plantar fasciitis in his left foot so debilitating that he called himself a “decoy” during Brooklyn’s first-round series against the Chicago Bulls. Reducing regular-season minutes and stress for Brooklyn’s veteran lineup will be key for new Nets coach Jason Kidd if he wants to have a full-strength roster ready to contend come playoff time; it’ll be interesting to see what King can dig up in the free-agent bargain bin in the days ahead.


Puck Daddy’s 2013 NHL Free Agent Frenzy Report Card

AP The NHL’s 2013 Free Agent Frenzy began at noon on Friday, July 5. Teams spent well over $400 million on contracts that they’ll either celebrate or regret for years to come.

Here are our hasty, myopic grade assessments for free-agent feast, which began roughly five days ago.

Who won? Who lost? Enjoy the hair-trigger reactions!

Anaheim Ducks

The Bobby Ryan trade was going to happen at some point – signing Perry and Getzlaf guaranteed that.

Maybe your expectations for an eventual Ryan trade where more than what the Ottawa Senators sent back to Anaheim; if so, they likely didn’t take the Ducks’ salary structure or the marketplace into account. Fact is that Jakob Silfverberg could be the fantasy darling of 2013-14 if he’s moved onto the Perry/Getzlaf line; Stefan Noesen is a former first-rounder and a tenacious player; and the Ducks get a first-rounder in 2014 as well.

Meanwhile, Ryan has two years left on his deal before a UFA bonanza. And if you think he’s going to re-sign there, allow me to point out he has an American girlfriend who has been living in California and thought Ottawa was a suburb of Detroit.

The Ducks also re-signed Saku Koivu (1 year, $2.5 million) after other alternatives at center didn’t pan out, as well as Ben Lovejoy for three years and $3.3 million on defense.

GRADE: B-plus

Boston Bruins

After a few years of consistency of roster, the Bruins saw dramatic changes around the Frenzy.

The biggest move was the seven-player deal with the Dallas Stars that saw the Bruins trade forward/former second overall pick/hater of moderation Tyler Seguin, center Rich Peverley and defensive prospect Ryan Button for left wing Loui Eriksson, young forwards Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser and defense prospect Joe Morrow.

In the short term, the Bruins win the deal. They cleared $4.75 million in cap space and acquired the best player in the trade in Eriksson, who averages around 30 goals a season. He’s a perfect fit for the Bruins’ system.

In the long term, Morrow projects to be a top four defenseman in the NHL. But the long-term success or failure of the deal rests with Seguin, who either becomes yet another cautionary tale of talent wasted on a misguided young player or the next Patrick Kane reclamation project. In the meantime, where guaranteed at least a few more months of photos depicting him sloshed at BBQs, so we all win.

The Bruins let Jaromir Jagr walk – slowly, and never at the pace of his linemates – and saw Nathan Horton leave for the “quieter” environs of Columbus, and decided to replace him with the most surreal choice possible: Jarome Iginla, who infamously chose the Penguins at the trade deadline last season over a deal to the Bruins.

He has a one year deal, an incentive-laden $6 million contract. He moves back to his natural position on the right with the Bruins, but one wonders how he’ll fit in Boston – and how much he has left as a top line player. But the sheer joy that is Bostonian sports fan brains exploding at the notion of Iginla signing with “The Second Choice” is priceless.

The loss of Andrew Ference on defense was expected but could hurt in the room and on the ice, despite the Bruins having some quality young defensive depth. Goalie Anton Khudobin left for Carolina, while the Bruins signed goalie Chad Johnson (Phoenix) and defenseman Aaron Johnson (Rangers).

They might regret it down the line, but in the short term the Bruins get …

GRADE: A-minus

Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres believe Henrik Tallinder is going to help Tyler Myers figure out what the hell happened to Tyler Myers. He was his mentor before leaving for the Devils, who wanted to shed his salary. Their loss is Buffalo’s gain. Otherwise, it was quiet for the Sabres, which is a nice change of pace for Pegulaville (Population: All On 10-Year Free-Agent Contracts) Still, their inability to trade Ryan Miller as the rest of the goalie market started to settle is a little frustrating.


Calgary Flames

The Flames made two small moves that have some upside. TJ Galiardi was plucked from the San Jose Sharks, and has a 1 year deal worthier $1.25 million. Defenseman Kris Russell was jettisoned from the Blues after he turned down a 1-year deal. He was a spare part there; maybe he gets his ice time in Calgary. Brian “Big Ern” McGrattan re-signed for 2 years and $1.5 million, and he’s always good for punches.


Carolina Hurricanes

That Mike Komisarek is an upgrade to the Carolina defense should speak volumes, but he is: At the very least, he’s doesn’t seem like a redundancy, which has been that group’s problem for the last few years. Maybe without that contract and the Toronto media asking when he’ll be bought out, he thrives. The Anton Khodobin/Dan Ellis swap saved the Canes $100,000 and gained them someone who can push Cam Ward. GM Jim Rutherford has other irons in the fire, but for now …


Chicago Blackhawks

All of the exoduses were expected for the champs, as Viktor Stalberg (Nashville), Ray Emery (Philly) and Rostislav Olesz (Jersey) all departed. That opened up salary space to re-sign Bryan Bickell and Michal Handzus, so that’s a fair tradeoff. Nikolai Khabibulin as a $2 million backup goalie isn’t as risky as it sounds, especially if Corey Crawford’s ready to carry more of the freight next season in starts. They could have probably found a cheaper alternative, but we imagine Stan Bowman’s still buzzed from the parade.


Colorado Avalanche

Nick Holden! Andre Benoit! J.T. Wyman! Guillaume Desbiens! Nate Guenin! If any of these names mean something to you, you’re probably an Avalanche fan. Our only surprise: That with Patrick Roy’s Ego now in player personnel, only two of these players are French-sounding. Bottom line: The Avs weren’t looking to be players in free agency, and weren’t.

GRADE: C-minus

Columbus Blue Jackets

How anyone can view the Nathan Horton contract as anything but a win for this team is baffling. Yes, he’s going to undergo shoulder surgery. Yes, he has a concussion history – funny how that’s an issue for a free agent signing but never for, say, Patrice Bergeron re-signing.

Horton is a power forward the Jackets need. The $5.3 million cap hit is actually lower than you’d expect a desperate team to hand out. The seven years are about two too long, but who cares? The Blue Jackets won a free agent derby because a guy wanted to play in Columbus and they didn’t pay significantly over market value. Two summers ago, they had to trade for Jeff Carter because no one wanted to play there; now, Horton picked them.


Dallas Stars

Well, Jim Nill certainly didn’t waste any time, did he?

The Tyler Seguin/Loui Eriksson seven-player swap puts his mark on this team in dramatic fashion. Seguin’s maturation as a star player will determine its success, because the Stars sent significant assets back to Boston. Rich Peverley adds much needed depth to the middle. So does Shawn Horcoff, acquired for Phillip Larson and a 2014 seventh-rounder. He has a relationship with Lindy Ruff and Nill, and desperately needed a change in scenery – his points per game were down to 0.39 in Edmonton, as he fell down the depth chart.

So three additions down the middle, which will allow Jamie Benn to move back to the wing, which is a good thing. Lindy Ruff said he expects Seguin to play with Benn from the start, which is either a way to further fuel his sense of entitlement or to give him a ball he shan’t drop.

Dan Ellis is a nice backup to Kari Lehtonen without being threatening.

It’s tough to judge this one, because if Seguin stops pretending he’s auditioning for an E! reality show (tentative title: “Ty One On”) and fulfills his potential, this could be a banner day for the Stars franchise. As of now, a lot of needs filled by Nill.

GRADE: A-minus

Detroit Red Wings

The Wings missed on Ryan Suter last summer, then entered into a “transition year” that saw them transition right into the conference semifinal. So GM Ken Holland went into the off-season ready to spend – little did he know what opportunity would arise.

Daniel Alfredsson at $5.5 million for one season is a classic “hired gun wants to win Cup” scenario, but this gun has more than a few bullets left. He’s a perfect addition to the top six for this team. So is Stephen Weiss (5 years, $4.9 million) who costs less and might even be a shade better than Valtteri Filppula. Much like Nathan Horton when he left Florida, Weiss has been waiting years for this chance.

The Wings are losing Damien Brunner (bummer) and potentially Dan Cleary.

They still need to address the blue line, but adding two top-six forwards makes Detroit a lot closer to that Cup Alfie’s chasing. Hey, remember when Marian Hossa went to Detroit to chase one? Good times …


Edmonton Oilers

Is it OK to really, really love what the Oilers did here?

Andrew Ference is exactly what the team needed on the back end: Veteran presence, some physicality and leadership from a guy with a ring. Some have complained that Ference hasn’t played against top competition thanks to Zdeno Chara with the Bruins, but Tyler Dellow goes the distance in explaining why that’s a bit of a misnomer. At a $3.25 million cap hit, it’s a great deal, even if four years is perhaps one too many for a player his age.

The Boyd Gordon signing is even better. He’s terrific on draws, kills penalties and isn’t an offensive black hole despite his role. Edmonton might have overpaid a bit at $9 million over 3 years, but you try convincing a guy to leave the golf courses of Glendale for Edmonton in December and see how much it takes. Jason Labarbera, also from the Coyotes, is a serviceable backup at $1 million.

They also found a taker for Shawn Horcoff’s $5.5 million cap hit through 2015.


Florida Panthers

Stephen Weiss wasn’t coming back; not with Detroit and St. Louis in the mix. The Panthers added Washington Capitals fourth liner Joey Crabb for 2 years at $1.2 million and Toronto spare part defenseman Mike Mottau at 1 year and $700,000. Remember when Dale Tallon signed, like, all the free agents? We miss those days. For now, they deserve an incomplete, because other moves have to be made. But for now …


Los Angeles Kings

The Kings lost The Piece, Rob Scuderi, to the Penguins and checking winger Brad Richardson to the Vancouver Canucks. They re-signed Keaton Ellerby for one year and inked Jeff Schultz, who was bought out by the Capitals, for one year. Schultz is, as they say, not good. But hey, they’re still in the “pulling Matt Frattin for Bernier” afterglow, so …


Minnesota Wild

The Wild spent the gross national product of Belize on two free agents last summer, so this was quiet by comparison – but more controversial. Matt Cooke is still considered the scum of the Earth by Western Conference fans who get their news from Mike Milbury and/or morons who think he intentionally Ginzu’d the leg of Erik Karlsson. At 3 years and $7.5 million, he’s a guy who plays on the edge (like the departed Cal Clutterbuck) but is a more-than-serviceable depth player (unlike Cal Clutterbuck).

Keith Ballard gets 2 years with a $1.5 million cap hit and is another player that should thrive without the crushing weight of his cap hit smothering him. Matt Cullen (Nashville) was allowed to leave so Mikael Granlund could slide up the depth chart. Pierre-Marc Bouchard also left, for the Islanders.

GRADE: B-minus

Montreal Canadiens

The Danny Briere signing was expected but nonetheless impressive for the Habs, who get a versatile forward who’s money in the playoffs and can be an insufferable [expletive] to play against, which seems to be the only requirement for Marc Bergevin to give you money and a Montreal sweater.

Gone were Michael Ryder (NJ) and Yannick Weber (Vancouver). But George Parros has arrived to punch people with a funny mustache. Like, he has the funny mustache, we mean. We assume he’d also punch people with one too.

GRADE: B-plus

Nashville Predators

The Predators needed goals. That’s it. That was the mission for GM David Poile this summer. Find goals.

Viktor Stalberg had 22 of them for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011-12, so that’s promising. Matt Cullen had 14 of them that season, which isn’t bad. Eric Nystrom had 16 that season too, which is even better.

The problem is that none of these players can be counted on consistently for offense, and that they eat up $8 million in cap space. These are fine players. These are nice players. But these are not players that you enter next season with wiping your hands and saying “offensive problems solved!” Which, again, was the mission.

The Cullen signing was, I think, the best of the lot. But again: Briere went for $500,000 more. It speaks to Nashville’s inability to attract top line offensive talent, which speaks to either the market or the team’s philosophy.

Also: Matt Hendricks was one of my favorite players to watch and cover with the Washington Capitals, but a 4-year contract (even with a small $1.85 million hit) is truly bizarre for a player the Predators seem to already have five of.

GRADE: C-minus

New Jersey Devils

When Lou is good, he’s very good: Michael Ryder for 2 years and $7 million is very good. Patrik Elias back for three years and a $5.5 million cap hit shows that Lou’s Kool-Aid remains strong. Rusty Olesz for 1 year and $1 million … sure, whatever. Shedding Henrik Tallinder’s salary was a plus as well.

When Lou is bad, it’s usually in reaction to someone leaving the Devils: When Niedermayer left, it was Malakhov and McGillis. When Clarkson left on Friday, it was 5 years and $24.25 million for Ryane Clowe, a player I believe is sliding on the downside of his career like a snowboarder trying to avoid an avalanche.

GRADE: B-minus

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New York Islanders

The most significant move for the Islanders was re-signing Travis Hamonic for 7 years at $27 million. In typical fashion, it was a move trashed by uppity Canadian media types that watched the Islanders for the first time in seven years during the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, which ignores the fact that Garth Snow locked up a 23-year-old minutes-eating two-way defenseman at $3.857 million through 2020.

Assuming Evgeni Nabokov gives them exactly what he did in 2012-13, it’s not a bad move to bring him back for another year, even at $3.25 million. But you’d like to see the Islanders add another goalie to that mix.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard has been called “tentative” and “soft” by Minnesota Wild observers that have seen his game diminish in the last few injury-riddled seasons. One year, $2 million, and the chance to resurrect his career with Tavares and Moulson? That’s a better investment than relocating to Brooklyn.


New York Rangers

The Rangers decided not to buy out Brad Richards for some misguided reason, let Ryane Clowe become the Devils problem, re-signed Ryan McDonagh to a great deal, traded for Justin Falk and Danny Syvret and signed both Benoit Pouliot (1 year, $1.3 million) and Aaron Johnson (1 year, $600K). GM Glen Sather has to take care of his own – Derek Stepan needs a contract, too – before bringing in more bodies. As it stands:

GRADE: B-minus

Ottawa Senators

The Daniel Alfredsson controversy overshadows everything else the Senators did, which is a shame, because they’re a better team now than they were on July 3.

Bobby Ryan is an elite goal scorer with size – essential in the East – and one assumes he’ll keep Jason Spezza in girlish giggles for the next two years if the two find chemistry. You have to give to get, and the Sens paid up for Ryan, but he’s a star.

The Clarke MacArthur signing is great because (a) he’s an essential replacement for Silfverberg on that second line and (b) because the next two years of Leafs fans bitching about an overpaid Clarkson while Sens fans celebrate an underpaid MacArthur ($3.25 million cap hit) are going to be glorious.

Joe Corvo is back again as a spare part defenseman, while Peter Regin’s disappointment output is now with the New York Islanders.

Tough losing Alfie, but it might be his loss.

GRADE: A-minus

Philadelphia Flyers

Remember when the Flyers signed Vincent Lecavalier at $4.5 million annually for five years and everyone went apoplectic? Welp, he’s going to earn less than Iginla, Ribeiro, Alfredsson, Horton, Clarkson, Filppula, Weiss and Clowe next season against the cap.

Yeah, horrible signing, Philly, coming in under market value like that.

Oh, and what’s this: Ray Emery is back for just $1.65 million after going 17-1-0 last season with Chicago?

Adam Hall was also signed for $600,000 and one season. Which is obviously why they bought out Bryzgalov and Briere.

For some reason, these signings are being demonized as terrible. Maybe you don’t feel they needed Lecavalier; you weren’t saying the same thing when the lack of a veteran winger, in the wake of Jagr’s departure, helped sink the team during the season.

The Flyers didn’t solve all of their issues, but these were shrewd financial moves from a team we weren’t sure knew had to make them. So, with the bar set there:

GRADE: B-plus

Phoenix Coyotes

Mike Ribeiro wanted five years, got four years and signed with the Coyotes for $5.5 million against the cap annually. If you expect last year’s numbers, you’re an idiot: No Alex Ovechkin, no Adam Oates’ orchestrated power play, no contract year. Better to expect him in the neighborhood of 60-70 points, most likely playing with Shane Doan. Dave Tippett’s had Ribeiro before, and this is good reunion for the center – even if that’s a mighty high price for what amounts to a second line center.

The Coyotes will miss Boyd Gordon’s defense. Thomas Greiss backs up Mike Smith for $250,000 less than what Jason Labarbera wanted.

The major failing, thus far: The Coyotes still haven’t addressed a lack of veteran scoring on the wing.

GRADE: B-minus

Pittsburgh Penguins

Rob Scuderi is a nice, safe move by the Penguins, at four years and a $3.375 million cap hit. He still has plenty left, and folds right back into the Pittsburgh system with ease.

The Penguins let Iginla and Matt Cooke walk, traded Tyler Kennedy, and made the smart decision to bring back Craig Adams at two years and $1.4 million. Oh, and Pascal Dupuis got paid: Four years and $15 million.


San Jose Sharks

The Sharks were really, really quiet during the Frenzy, dealing away T.J. Galiardi to Calgary and watching Thomas Greiss leave for the Coyotes. They re-signed Scott Hannan for one year and a million dollars, so that’s something. They flirted with Alfredsson, so that’s another thing. Also, they didn’t do anything stupid, which is the important thing.

GRADE: C-minus

St. Louis Blues

Look, Maxim Lapierre is a nice signing for a team that’s at its best when it’s at its most annoying. Re-signing Jordan Leopold is a positive move (2 years, $2.25 million). But the Blues chased Stephen Weiss, Valterri Filppula and Lecavalier and couldn’t convince them to sign in St. Louis. Instead, they spent $4 million on Derek Roy for one season, his third team in two years. GM Doug Armstrong rationalized it: “We’re still bringing back the same centermen that got us home-ice advantage the last two years in the playoffs.” Yeah, that must be why you were desperately seeking an upgrade. For now, a..

GRADE: D-plus

Getty Images Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning buy out Vincent Lecavalier, and everyone celebrates the end of a regrettable contract. Which leads to GM Steve Yzerman … entering into another regrettable contract.

Filppula as a $5-million player annually over five years makes Jiri Hudler seem underpaid. This is another Matt Carle signing, made worse because Yzerman was part of the Red Wings and should know better.

Cardinal rule: If the master signs a better player at $4.9 million annually over five years, best not give his castoff more money if you’re the student.


Toronto Maple Leafs

By now, the Tyler Bozak (5 years, $21 million) and David Clarkson (7 years, $36.75 million) contracts have been picked apart to the cent. Bozak is the overpaid faux first liner who’s actually a drag on his buddy Phil Kessel’s stats. Clarkson’s contract promises value in the first couple of seasons, before what Mirtle believes will be a sharp decline.

The Bozak signing is nepotism; you can almost feel the tap on the shoulder to Kessel saying, “Hey, champ, see what we did for your boys? How about that contract extension?” The Clarkson signing would be a good one at the right price; but at seven years and a cap hit of $5.25 million, he will be afflicted with Chris Drury Disease – player with great intangibles seen as a hapless bust because his numbers don’t sync up with his contract – by Year 3 at the latest.

They won’t miss Komisarek. They will miss MacArthur and, especially, Mikhail Grabovski, inexplicably allowed to walk in order to pay Bozak.


Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks had addition by subtractions, as Derek Roy and Keith Ballard left for St. Louis and Minnesota. Vancouver will miss Max Lapierre’s particular brand of whimsy, but Brad Richardson’s a nice addition to the bottom six. Yannick Weber’s a depth defenseman on the cheap. Now, about that Luongo issue …

GRADE: C-plus

Washington Capitals

Gone are Mike Ribeiro, Matt Hendricks, Jeff Schultz and Joey Crabb. Coming in is … nobody. The Capitals were quiet during the Frenzy, keeping with Adam Oates plan to maintain consistency on the roster from year to year. Which is all well and good but who the [expletive] is playing second-line center next season?

GRADE: C-minus

Winnipeg Jets

The Jets traded for Devin Setoguchi and watched Alex Burmistrov leave for the KHL, so at least their offensive enigma quota remains sufficiently filled.

GRADE: C-minus