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Ryan Greyslak
Ryan Greyslak
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Brian Yalung
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Eddy Myers
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Suns Fan
Suns Fan
1 posts

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Sixers Fan

Suns' Zoran Dragic playing without regrets posted by Sixers Fan

With the game already put away and the Pheonix Suns looking at a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, rookie Zoran Dragic came into the game amounting to a missed 3-pointer and a couple sprints up and back on the Staples Center floor last month.

That is all most people have seen of Suns rookie Zoran Dragic, who has spent nearly the entire season on the inactive list except for that two-minute cameo in mop-up duty against the Clippers.

It’s not necessarily surprising given that he is a rookie. In fact it was expected but perhaps not to Zoran, younger brother of Sun Goran Dragic, who played for ten years as a pro and starting for their national team on the way to the World Cup quarterfinals last summer.

Yet Zoran is keeping a positive attitude about the whole thing, or at least that’s what he’s telling himself and reporters. He says he has no regrets about negotiating a buyout from Spanish club Unicaja Malaga to come to the NBA, even if it means not seeing the floor and being relegated to developing through individual work and rare practices.

"I know it's my rookie year and that's how it is," Zoran said. "I must be patient and practice hard. When I get an opportunity, I need to show what I have.

"I am happy. Everybody basketball player's dream is to come to the NBA but my dream was to come here and stay in the NBA."

Zoran's first two weeks in the NBA were difficult. He came to the U.S. on the weekend before training camp and had to leave the country later to get a work visa. He was having difficulty adjusting to the culture and the league but living with his brother helped smooth the process.

Continue reading "Suns' Zoran Dragic playing without regrets"

Mavericks Fan

Turnovers catch up to Mavs in loss at Phoenix posted by Mavericks Fan

Carelessness with the ball and poor defense Tuesday night cost the Dallas Mavericks any chance they had at dethroning the Phoenix Suns.

Phoenix turned 20 Dallas turnovers into 28 points en route to subduing the Mavs 124-115 before a sellout crowd of 18,055 at US Airways Center.

This is just the second time all season the Mavs have lost more than one game in a row as their record fell to 20-10. Back on Nov. 22 and Nov. 24, the Mavs were upended in consecutive games by Houston (95-92) and Indiana (111-100).

Prior to hopping on a plane for Tuesday’s game, the Mavs lost at home Monday night to the Atlanta Hawks (105-102). And they didn’t fare much better against the streaky Suns, who converted 13 of 33 shots from behind the 3-point arc and always seemed to pull a 3-pointer out of the bag whenever the Mavs thought about inching closer.

 “Just too many [turnovers] early in the game,” coach Rick Carlisle said. ‘We got off to a pretty good start in a quarter-and-a-half, and the turnovers caught up with us.

“And we’re just struggling to defend. We’ve just got to do a better job of it.”

The Mavs battled to within nine with approximately two minutes left. But by then the Suns had put so much separation between themselves and Dallas that this one wasn’t going to end well.

In falling to 5-2 on the second night of a back-to-back, the Mavs are now 0-2 in the Rajon Rondo Era.

All things considered, Dallas actually was negotiating this second leg of a back-to-back pretty smoothly at the beginning. Behind Tyson Chandler and Rondo, the Mavs raced out to a 39-30 lead with 6:05 remaining in the first half.

Continue reading "Turnovers catch up to Mavs in loss at Phoenix"


Suns Fan

2014 Phoenix Suns Preseason Report posted by Suns Fan

Phoenix Suns were supposed to be in their downward spiral in 2013-14 season, but they managed to be the best team amongst teams that did not reach the playoffs. Ryan McDonough, the new general manager, before the starting of the season, gave up veterans, Luis Scola, Jared Dudley, and Macin Gortat, in trade. However, the new inclusions coexisted quite well, and Jeff Hornacek, the rookie coach, freed Bledsoe and Dragic for making plays and pushing the pace. Good comebacks were Gerald Green and Channing Frye, but when Bledsoe was injured, everything seemed bleak. However, Dragic came to the rescue by raising his game considerably. The Suns ended the season with a record of 48-34.

For the 2014-15 season, Ryan McDonough wants to bring back fast-paced offense with a lot of aggression, and build a team that can handle both the floor ends. In the previous draft, Phoenix selected Archie Goodwin and Alex Len, who are athletic and known for their two-way skills. With several picks in the current draft, Phoenix Suns select would be Alec Brown, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Tyler Ennis, and T.J. Warren. Ennis could be an upgrade from Ish Smith, as he is quite fluid, with a great handle. Even though he is not considered fast or athletic, Ennis makes up by this fast direction changes and quick bursts.

However, Phoenix Suns seemed to have passed certain players that could have fitted better into the system, such as Patric Young, K.J. McDaniels, Andreian Payne, and Garry Harris. Secondly, Goran Dragic, who is the best offense, might be more susceptible to injuries this season, as he has not rested at all. The Suns strategy seems to have shifted from two-way highly athletic players to prospects that can bring in skills and depth. The focus seems to be on intensifying and expanding, and the team seems to be satisfied with the existing athleticism.

Continue reading "2014 Phoenix Suns Preseason Report"


nbaball

Parker has no desire to transfer to other NBA teams posted by nbaball

The starting pointguard of the San Antonio Spurs has categorically denied persistent report that he had the desire to transfer to other National Basketball Association (NBA) teams.
Tony Parker told the media that there is no truth to the report since his heart belongs to the Spurs and he wants to stay with the team for many years to come.
Parker said he had a house in San Antonio and had no intention at the moment to move to other NBA teams other than the Spurs.
He revealed that he has confidence that a suitable agreement will be reached between him and the Spurs so that he will remain with the team for many years to come.
To show his desire to remain with the Spurs, Parker has decided to skip the World's Basketball Championship slated on August 28 to September 12 in Istambul, Turkey.
The superstar pointguard said he decided to forego his chance to play for France in the global basketball event to help the Spurs in the next NBA season by keeping himself from injury.
The 27-year-old pointguard had been a vital factor for the success of the Spurs the past 10 years wherein he won championship with the ball club.
Parker is very significant for the Spurs management since he do not only orchestrate plays but also contribute and offense and defense as well.
The Spurs was earlier defeated by the red-hot Phoenix Suns 4-0 in their best of seven NBA second round playoff match-up.
The French pointguard and the rest of the Spurs roster tried their very best to inflict defeat to the Suns but their effort were futile as the Suns proved hotter in the end.
Continue reading "Parker has no desire to transfer ..."


Micky Deming

posted by Micky Deming

Take a deep breath. Focus with me. This whole Lebron/Celtics thing was a crazy mess. I don’t know what to think of it, you don’t know what to think of it, nobody knows what is going on. It’s times like this where I like to recharge the batteries, shut down the engines and get back to neutral. 2:20 of this video

I understand why this is such a circus. I don’t even need to discuss all of the reasons why there is so much talk about Lebron and the Cavs right now. However, the amount we’re all hearing about him is absolutely absurd. Everyone and their brother is giving a guess on where he’ll play next year. My question is, “Who cares?” Nobody has the answer, these are all just guesses, and I’m sick of hearing about it now, when this same conversation is going to be happening all summer.

Meanwhile, the Conference Finals are about to start and there is plenty to look forward to. Reigning two-time MVP Lebron James won’t be joining the fun in the playoffs, but guess who will: the 2004, 05, 06 and 08 MVPs (Garnett, Nash twice, Kobe). Also the 08 and 09 champs and every team that played in the finals those two years.

Can we please put the Lebron shenanigans behind us for a month and enjoy what’s left of these playoffs? These two Conference Finals are great series, and as NBA fans we should be talking about how Boston took the Magic to 7 games last year without KG. And about Dwight Howard and Steve Nash looking for their first titles. Or the Lakers trying to defend their title – I never thought I’d say Kobe wasn’t getting enough attention from the media, but he’s going for his 5th ring and Phil Jackson his 11th.

Continue reading ""


Ryan Greyslak

The Sacramento Kings are the latest team rumored to be in the hunt for the Phoenix Suns Amare Stoudemire posted by Ryan Greyslak

The latest rumor according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports has the Sacramento Kings discussing a trade with the Phoenix Suns for their All-Star Forward Amare Stoudemire centered on a returning piece of Kevin Martin. The Sacramento Kings would be an interesting trade partner with the Suns and have the ability to offer young talent, draft picks, and ending contracts, all of which the Suns reportedly want back for Stoudemire.

 

The main piece in this trade involves Stoudemire and The Kings Kevin Martin. There are no other issues discussed regarding this trade but it would probably look something like this…

 

http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=yf48xo5

 

Phoenix Suns trade:

Amare Stoudemire

 

Sacramento Kings trade:

Kevin Martin 4 years 9.7 million

Jason Thompson 2 years 2 million

Hilton Armstrong 1 year 2.8 million

Unprotected first round draft pick

 

Kevin Martin has all-star potential but is consistently injured and because of this has missed many games over the past few seasons. He is a great shooter and could thrive in a situation where a good point guard created open shots for him. However he is not a great defender or rebounder and is still owed a considerable amount of money over the next 4 years. (Kind of like an Amare at the Sg position, can put up points but don't expect much else on a consistent basis) The Suns would really be biting the bullet taking on Martin and would not help their lack of defensive toughness. His contract and injury history is enough to scare most away.

Continue reading "The Sacramento Kings are the latest ..."


nbahawks

Hawks soaring high on new NBA season posted by nbahawks


The Atlanta Hawks is creating a lot of buzz in the new season of the National Basketball Association.Despite their less stellar lineup, the Hawks is on top of the leader-board in the young season of the premier professional basketball league in the planet. The Hawks is currently sporting an impressive 11-2 record after they defeated the Houston Rockets 105-103 Friday night.High flying Hawks power forward Josh Smith played hero for the top team in the NBA by scoring on a put back from a miss by Hawks top point guard Mike Bibby with 0.7 seconds remaining. Marvin Williams, the starting small forward of the Hawks top scored for the team with 29 points to help defeat the Rockets, one of the top teams in the NBA Western Conference.The recent victory of the Hawks is remarkable since the Rockets are on the verge of defeating the team and hand them their third loss but the impressive play of Smith saved the youth laden ball club to escaped with a victory. Prior to his game winning shot, Smith stayed mostly from the bench due to foul trouble but he was able to returned in the waning moments of the game and lead his team to victory.The strong and impressive plays of the Hawks is getting huge praise from basketball fans and experts. During the off-season, the Hawks is not among the top contenders for the NBA crown this season due to their less star studded roster. However, despite the lack of big named players in its lineup, the Hawks still showed class and impressive talent to defeat 11 teams so far.Aside from the strong plays of its veteran players Smith, Bibby and Joe Johnson, the Hawks also get huge contribution from newly acquired NBA veteran Jamal Crawford who contribute in both offence and defence for the team. Aside from the Hawks, the run and gun Phoenix Suns is also playing good this NBA season. NBA superstars point-guard Steve Nash and power forward Amare Stoudamire are playing well to lead the Suns to an impressive record in the NBA.Fans of Hawks team can buy the tickets to watch the NBA game live.

Continue reading "Hawks soaring high on new NBA season"


Scott Shepherd

Great TNT Double-Header Tonight posted by Scott Shepherd

The NBA league pass is awesome, but nothing beats a good TNT double-header.

Tonight, we get a great TNT double-header.

The night starts off with Cleveland at Miami. I’ve written this before, but LeBron vs. Wade is the best head-to-head matchup to watch in the NBA right now. These guys always bring out the best in each other.

In 19 career games against each other, LeBron is averaging 28.6 points per game, 5.6 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.2 steals. Wade is averaging 27.2 points per game, 5.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 2.4 steals.

In seven of the last nine meetings, at least one of the two has dropped for at least 30. Twice in that span has each player scored 40 in the same game.

With Miami having only one loss so far this season, and Cleveland coming off a big win against the Magic, I would expect nothing less than a shootout tonight. I expect both superstars put their respective teams of their back and play out what, hopefully, is a very entertaining game to watch.

In the late game, the Suns make their way to the Staples Center to play the Lakers. It’s a battle for first place, and hopefully it reignites what was not too long ago a pretty intense little rivalry.

I couldn’t be happier that the Suns are 8-1 and have the best record in the league. Make no mistake, I hate the Suns. With a capitol “H”.

I hate Steve Nash; I hate the :07 seconds or less offense; I hate their owner; I hate their uniforms: I hate their mascot.

But I love the fact that after this hot start I keep reading things like, “The Suns are back!!”

Continue reading "Great TNT Double-Header Tonight"


Chase Hughes

How Can the Washington Wizards Improve to Contender Status? posted by Chase Hughes

Last night I was listening to an interview with former NBA head coach P.J. Carlesimo on 106.7 The Fan.  He was commenting on the opening days of the NBA regular season, specifically about the Eastern Conference and his thoughts on who were the better teams.  Not surprisingly he named the top three teams as the “factors,” those being Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando.  He said that there are not any teams even close to those three but on the outside looking in is the Washington Wizards.  The Wizards were the only team he mentioned as the fourth best team and he said this about three times.  These comments got me thinking about what the Wizards need to do this regular season to take the next step and breach that label, in what areas can they improve to develop into the fourth Eastern Conference power? 
First of all, this piece is not in discussion of anything to do with the playoffs, I am not assuming that the Wizards are clearly the fourth best team or that they will even make the playoffs at all.  What I am saying is that the Wiz are in that second tier bunch that follows the top three, which in my opinion also includes the Toronto Raptors, Atlanta Hawks, and the Philadelphia 76’ers (3rd tier: MIA, CHI, NJ, DET).  Carlesimo added that this is the way the East is presently, that come December we could be talking about another team that has emerged or perhaps a top team will regress and make way for one that is on the brink.  We know that this is Gilbert Arenas’ team but what pieces need to fall into place for Washington to make that jump?  I offer several possibilities, some more plausible than others for how the Wizards can materialize into a contender:

Continue reading "How Can the Washington Wizards Improve ..."


Ryan Greyslak

The Phoenix Suns are NOT the worst defensive team in the NBA posted by Ryan Greyslak

The Phoenix Suns are not the worst defensive team in the NBA.

In a recent article released by Dime Magazine they claimed the Suns were the worst defensive team in the NBA.

http://dimemag.com/2009/09/the-phoenix-suns-are-the-worst-defensive-team-in-the-nba/

It is not a fair assumption to call the Suns out as the worst defensive team in the NBA next season. They never have been known for their defensive ability as a team but have been slowly putting pieces in place that will play defense. Some of the Suns younger players might actually become strong defenders in the league over the next couple of years.

There have always been the open holes defensively on the Suns roster. One of the biggest is Steve Nash, he gets substantially worse defensively each year and every point guard in the league gets giddy at the thought of going head to head with him. He can’t stop anybody off the dribble but has always been good at getting where he needs to be on the court to take the charge. Jason Richardson should be traded so Leandro Barbosa can start. He has never been a good defender and doesn’t really show the drive to become any better. Grant Hill is not getting any younger and Channing Frye has never showed the potential to be a strong defender. Even with some of these players on their roster it is not enough for them to already be considered the worst defensive team in the NBA. 

They have several young players and a few wild cards on the team this year that could put forth a strong defensive effort for the team this year.

Goran Dragic looked great in euro league play this summer. He is a quick physical defender that just needs to continue to build more confidence. Nash will need a lot of rest to stay healthy this season and Dragic could benefit greatly from that if he can step up. There is a strong chance that you will see a great improvement in Dragic this season.

Continue reading "The Phoenix Suns are NOT the worst ..."

Phoenix Suns News

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Kobe Bryant and Nick Young are recruiting Rajon Rondo, Goran Dragic, others (Ball Don't Lie%

The Los Angeles Lakers’owners can’t comment on potential free agent additions specifically, which is why they’re left to take in the slings and arrows as they publicly defend their team’s course in the midst of a 12-30 season. The team’s general manager, Mitch Kupchak, can’t talk on record about the sort of player he’d like to go after with his team’s potential $20-something million in cap space this summer. The squad’s coach, Byron Scott, can’t be seen whispering in a free agent’s ear, and he can’t muse openly about how great it would be to add a specific contributor currently working for another team. If any faction is caught talking, they’ll be heavily fined by the NBA for tampering. They can’t say anything until July, when contracts either turn over for another year, or expire. It’s Quiet Time, in the middle of a season that was designed to be a lost one. Players, on the other hand, can chatter away. They can admit to the press that they’d love to see a specific player on their team next season, and they can call, text, Facebook or Twitter message loving missives to free agents all they want. Those guys can recruit. The two most prominent Laker holdovers for 2015-16 are Kobe Bryant and Nick Young. Both have admitted to trying to stay in the ear of two of this summer’s most coveted free agents, looking to build a case that the Lakers are a team on the rise. It started with Nick Young whispering sweet nothings into Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic’s ear. From the Los Angeles Daily News : “I told Goran Dragic on the court, ‘You might be my teammate next year.’”Young told the L.A. News Group shortly after the Lakers’loss on Monday to the Phoenix Suns. “I’ll talk to Marc (Gasol.) Me and him are cool. Kevin Love, I’ll talk to him.”Several, if not every, NBA team will at least put in a pitch to Marc Gasol and Kevin Love, but as we’ve discussed before with both players , neither is likely to leave their championship-contending teams to take less money to rebuild in Los Angeles. Despite Nick’s charms. Dragic, on the other hand, might be a possibility. Even if it is a slim one. I mean, the guy’s brother is under contract to play with the Suns next season. The Suns have rebounded from an iffy start to hang on to the eighth seed in the killer Western Conference playoff bracket. The team is on pace to threaten for 50 wins, and though the team’s three-game lead over the improving Oklahoma City Thunder isn’t exactly “comfortable,”Phoenix should be credited for keeping the Thunder at bay for far longer than we presumed they would. Dragic is technically under contract next season, but he will most certainly use his player option and opt out of the final year of his deal, a year that stands to pay him a below-market mark of $7.5 million. If the Suns miss the playoffs and Goran deduces that the team’s approach with Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas isn’t working, there is a chance (however slight) that he could decide to start all over. Decide to ink a one-year deal somewhere and await the increased NBA salary cap slated to hit in 2016. That’s a reach, but in Nick Young’s mind, it’s reachable. Kobe Bryant? He’s shooting higher, as you’d expect, and refusing to sign off on any chance that Rajon Rondo remains a Dallas Maverick. Not until Rondo literally signs off on things. From the Boston Herald : While Mavericks owner Mark Cuban expressed confidence his club can and will sign Rondo to a new deal, Bryant told the Herald he’s not about to cease working on getting him to LA. “No way,”Bryant said. “I’m not done. I’m not stopping until he signs an extension.”Though many rightfully worried about Rondo’s fit with Dallas offensively, he has helped turn the team’s defense around to a significant degree, the offensive drop hasn’t been severe in the slightest, and Dallas is 10-4 with him on board (0-1 with him out of the lineup). That’s a sterling record considering that the Mavs’move for Rajon was created midseason, without the aid of a training camp. The fit was made even more impressive due to the fact that Rondo isn’t your typical, orthodox NBA point guard. The dude can’t even hit free throws. Mark Cuban, however, isn’t worried : “It’ll get better,”owner Mark Cuban said. “If we can improve (former center) Erick Dampier’s free-throw shooting, among others, we’ll improve Rajon’s. How he starts is going to be different from how he finishes.”(Mark’s memory might be a little off, here. Damp’s free throw percentage dipped to 60 and then 59 percent in his first two seasons in Dallas, down from nearly 66 percent in the year prior to the Mavs trading for him. He rebounded a bit to shoot in the low 60s two other years, but fell to 57 percent in his penultimate year with the Mavericks. His best mark with Mark, at 63.8 percent, was eclipsed four other times with teams he played for in the years before the Mavericks dealt for him.) Rajon has missed 13 of 17 free throws as a Mav, but even an embarrassing “hack-a-Rajon”-incident in the playoffs won’t dissuade Dallas from offering him a max extension this summer. It’s unlikely that Kobe’s presence will dissuade Rajon from accepting it, either. The Lakers have cap space, but Dallas (as the incumbent team) can offer Rondo more money if they see fit to. Then there is the idea of Rondo’s fit, as is the case with any team he plays for. Kobe Bryant has backed off of late, relative to his previous play, but he still dominates the ball. Rajon Rondo dominates the ball as well –he needs it to be effective. Neither player is even an average three-point shooter. The Lakers, eventually, will be an intriguing destination. Unless they take in terrible lottery luck, dropping to out of the top five in the 2015 draft and relinquishing their selection to Dragic’s Suns, the team will enter this offseason with plenty of space and two consecutive highly regarded top draft picks on its rebuilding roster. They’ll have space in 2016, as well, when Bryant’s contract comes off the books. Until then, however, it’s just noise. Even Bryant, at his most dogged, probably knows that Rondo, Dragic and others aren’t coming to Los Angeles this summer. As he likely knew last summer, when considering another potential teammate: LeBron James when asked if Kobe Bryant recruited him during free agency this summer: "No" —Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 15, 2015 Rebuilding takes time, Los Angeles. It’s your turn to do it. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


LaMarcus Aldridge needs thumb surgery, and the Blazers might be in big trouble (Ball Don't Lie

We started to get bad vibes after Wednesday's reports that the results of a magnetic resonance imaging exam on the left hand that LaMarcus Aldridge injured during the Portland Trail Blazers' Monday's win over the Sacramento Kings were "inconclusive." We knew something definitely wasn't right when Blazers general manager Neil Olshey confirmed the Thursday morning report by Sean Deveney of the Sporting News that Aldridge's left thumb was in a cast heading into today's follow-up MRI. On Thursday night, we learned that our fears were well-founded: MRI confirms Portland F LaMarcus Aldridge has a radial collateral ligament tear in left thumb. He will undergo surgery; out for 6-8 weeks. —Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) January 23, 2015 The three-time All-Star power forward suffered the injury while defending Kings center DeMarcus Cousins early in the second quarter on Monday night: [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] Aldridge left the game at the 10:26 mark of the second quarter and did not return, finishing the game with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting in 13 1/2 minutes. Inside the Blazers' locker room prior to Portland's Thursday meeting with the Boston Celtics, the news —as you might expect —wasn't greeted warmly, as Jason Quick of the Oregonian reports : Wesley Matthews was sitting in front of his locker and perusing his phone, when I mentioned "Bummer.'' "What?'' he asked, and I pointed to Aldridge's stall, where a horde of media had gathered for a 6:10 availability with Aldridge. "Torn ligament. Surgery. Out 6-to-8 weeks,'' I told Matthews. Matthews chucked his phone over his right shoulder and immediately got up from his chair and left the locker room. Jeff Stotts of the great medical/injury information blog In Street Clothes notes that Aldridge's injury is the same one suffered this offseason by Los Angeles Lakers wing Nick Young. Swaggy P was expected to miss eight weeks, as well, but came back a bit earlier than that , which offers something, at least, for Blazers fans looking to remain optimistic as they grapple with the notion of life without their leading scorer (23.2 points per game) and rebounder (10.2 boards per contest). Here, however, is the dark cloud within that silver lining: here are the western playoff hopefuls POR plays in the next two months: DAL (x2), HOU (x2), LAC, MEM (x2), OKC, PHX, SAS. —Aaron McGuire (@docrostov) January 23, 2015 The Blazers have been excellent this season, riding a balanced attack (10th in the league in points scored per possession, fifth in points allowed per possession) to a 31-12 record that's good for the No. 2 seed in the West (behind only the on-another-level Golden State Warriors) and an 8 1/2 game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Northwest Division. But they've rolled up that record against a less-than-murderous slate of opposition; a handful of different strength-of-schedule measurements all peg Portland's schedule thus far as one of the seven easiest in the league. As you can see from the rundown above, that's about to change in a hurry . The Blazers' timeframe would keep Aldridge sidelined for anywhere from 18 to 24 games, slating his return somewhere between the first and third week of March. That's an awful long time to be without your top gun, especially in as dangerous an environment as the Western Conference; while it's very nice for Portland to have that 8 1/2 game division cushion, it probably wouldn't serve as a seismic shock to see the now-surging Thunder take a sizable bite out of that lead in the weeks ahead. The challenge for Blazers coach Terry Stotts will be to keep the margin from disappearing entirely. On that score, it'll be nice to be able to rely on Damian Lillard, who's in the midst of his best season as a pro (22.1 points, 6.2 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game) and has become one of the league's most lethal fourth-quarter performers . But the Blazers will need more than All-Star play from their All-Star point guard. With starting center Robin Lopez still recuperating from the broken bones in his right hand and reserve big man Joel Freeland still working his way back from a right shoulder strain , Portland's frontcourt was already stretched thin. And Olshey saying Thursday that it's possible that neither Lopez nor Freeland will return before the mid-February All-Star break, Stotts will have to lean even more heavily for frontcourt productivity on the likes of Chris Kaman, Thomas Robinson, Meyers Leonard and Victor Claver, and on small-ball lineups featuring Nicolas Batum and versatile reserve Dorell Wright sliding up to the four spot. Batum has struggled mightily this season, averaging just 9.4 points in 33.7 minutes per game while shooting a career-low 39.5 percent from the field and just 28.1 percent from 3-point land, but he did have a bounceback outing (27 points on 9-for-15 shooting and 6-for-8 from long distance, 10 rebounds, five assists and a block) in Portland's Wednesday loss to the Phoenix Suns. Blazers fans must now hope even more fervently that the Frenchman's sweet shooting in Arizona was a sign of an impending return to form. Despite the daunting prospect of facing the double-tough schedule ahead without their most accomplished interior scorer, it's possible that Stotts, one of the league's sharper tacticians, will be able to bubblegum-and-duct-tape together enough solutions to be able to weather the storm, fend off challenges from the snarl of teams below them in the standings (the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, Suns and Thunder) and keep the Blazers in position for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs until Aldridge returns. This is, after all, a deeper, more talented and experienced Portland team than we've seen in the past couple of years, and Lillard sure looks to be more than capable of carrying the weight of superstar-level expectations; Dame seems like the kind of dude who will hear droves of people saying, "Oh, no, this is baaaaad news for Portland," internalize it all, pressurize it into some kind of "nobody believes in us!" anger diamond and go average 30-7-7 for the next six weeks just to prove a point. That said, there's a reason why the Blazers' offensive efficiency drops from top-five-in-the-league (108 points per 100 possessions) to just-above-bottom-five (100 points-per-100) when Aldridge sits down . It's not just that he's one of the game's elite midrange shooters, a pick-and-pop maestro whom defenses just can't leave alone at the elbows and near the arc lest they suffer the same fate as the Houston Rockets. It's all the open space and opportunity that his shooting, and the threat of his shooting, opens up for Lillard, Batum and 3-point-bombing shooting guard Wesley Matthews. It's the added bonus afforded by the continuity and familiarity that the Blazers' core has built up by playing so many minutes together over the past few seasons. It's the knowledge that, virtually regardless of what happens on an offensive possession and how badly a defense blows it up, they can almost always get a decent look just by giving it to the 6-foot-11 cornerstone with the high, nearly unblockable release. It's hard to replace all that. Well, no, scratch that; it's probably impossible to replace all that. But the Blazers will have to do their best to keep plugging along, and Aldridge —reportedly in good spirits as he spoke briefly with media after the announcement —will do his best to both get back as quickly as possible and make sure he's healthy enough to stay back once he returns. From Joe Freeman of the Oregonian : "It's tough. We have been in a pretty good rhythm most of this season. We've lost guys a lot this season. This is a totally different season from last year. But we have a lot of guys here that can step up and play better and make plays. So I feel like the team shouldn't stall. We're going to get guys back soon, so it's going to be good for us." While Aldridge is to be commended for putting a brave face on bummerific news, we'll have to agree to disagree that anything about this is "good" for the Blazers. The difference between Portland contending for a title and missing the playoffs entirely could very well rest on how well and how quickly a tiny stretch of connective tissue on the outside of a thumb heals. It seems an absurd statement, but it also feels like a sadly appropriate margin of error in this unrelenting Western Conference. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Kobe Bryant and Nick Young are recruiting Rajon Rondo, Goran Dragic, others (Ball Don't Lie%

The Los Angeles Lakers’owners can’t comment on potential free agent additions specifically, which is why they’re left to take in the slings and arrows as they publicly defend their team’s course in the midst of a 12-30 season. The team’s general manager, Mitch Kupchak, can’t talk on record about the sort of player he’d like to go after with his team’s potential $20-something million in cap space this summer. The squad’s coach, Byron Scott, can’t be seen whispering in a free agent’s ear, and he can’t muse openly about how great it would be to add a specific contributor currently working for another team. If any faction is caught talking, they’ll be heavily fined by the NBA for tampering. They can’t say anything until July, when contracts either turn over for another year, or expire. It’s Quiet Time, in the middle of a season that was designed to be a lost one. Players, on the other hand, can chatter away. They can admit to the press that they’d love to see a specific player on their team next season, and they can call, text, Facebook or Twitter message loving missives to free agents all they want. Those guys can recruit. The two most prominent Laker holdovers for 2015-16 are Kobe Bryant and Nick Young. Both have admitted to trying to stay in the ear of two of this summer’s most coveted free agents, looking to build a case that the Lakers are a team on the rise. It started with Nick Young whispering sweet nothings into Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic’s ear. From the Los Angeles Daily News : “I told Goran Dragic on the court, ‘You might be my teammate next year.’”Young told the L.A. News Group shortly after the Lakers’loss on Monday to the Phoenix Suns. “I’ll talk to Marc (Gasol.) Me and him are cool. Kevin Love, I’ll talk to him.”Several, if not every, NBA team will at least put in a pitch to Marc Gasol and Kevin Love, but as we’ve discussed before with both players , neither is likely to leave their championship-contending teams to take less money to rebuild in Los Angeles. Despite Nick’s charms. Dragic, on the other hand, might be a possibility. Even if it is a slim one. I mean, the guy’s brother is under contract to play with the Suns next season. The Suns have rebounded from an iffy start to hang on to the eighth seed in the killer Western Conference playoff bracket. The team is on pace to threaten for 50 wins, and though the team’s three-game lead over the improving Oklahoma City Thunder isn’t exactly “comfortable,”Phoenix should be credited for keeping the Thunder at bay for far longer than we presumed they would. Dragic is technically under contract next season, but he will most certainly use his player option and opt out of the final year of his deal, a year that stands to pay him a below-market mark of $7.5 million. If the Suns miss the playoffs and Goran deduces that the team’s approach with Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas isn’t working, there is a chance (however slight) that he could decide to start all over. Decide to ink a one-year deal somewhere and await the increased NBA salary cap slated to hit in 2016. That’s a reach, but in Nick Young’s mind, it’s reachable. Kobe Bryant? He’s shooting higher, as you’d expect, and refusing to sign off on any chance that Rajon Rondo remains a Dallas Maverick. Not until Rondo literally signs off on things. From the Boston Herald : While Mavericks owner Mark Cuban expressed confidence his club can and will sign Rondo to a new deal, Bryant told the Herald he’s not about to cease working on getting him to LA. “No way,”Bryant said. “I’m not done. I’m not stopping until he signs an extension.”Though many rightfully worried about Rondo’s fit with Dallas offensively, he has helped turn the team’s defense around to a significant degree, the offensive drop hasn’t been severe in the slightest, and Dallas is 10-4 with him on board (0-1 with him out of the lineup). That’s a sterling record considering that the Mavs’move for Rajon was created midseason, without the aid of a training camp. The fit was made even more impressive due to the fact that Rondo isn’t your typical, orthodox NBA point guard. The dude can’t even hit free throws. Mark Cuban, however, isn’t worried : “It’ll get better,”owner Mark Cuban said. “If we can improve (former center) Erick Dampier’s free-throw shooting, among others, we’ll improve Rajon’s. How he starts is going to be different from how he finishes.”(Mark’s memory might be a little off, here. Damp’s free throw percentage dipped to 60 and then 59 percent in his first two seasons in Dallas, down from nearly 66 percent in the year prior to the Mavs trading for him. He rebounded a bit to shoot in the low 60s two other years, but fell to 57 percent in his penultimate year with the Mavericks. His best mark with Mark, at 63.8 percent, was eclipsed four other times with teams he played for in the years before the Mavericks dealt for him.) Rajon has missed 13 of 17 free throws as a Mav, but even an embarrassing “hack-a-Rajon”-incident in the playoffs won’t dissuade Dallas from offering him a max extension this summer. It’s unlikely that Kobe’s presence will dissuade Rajon from accepting it, either. The Lakers have cap space, but Dallas (as the incumbent team) can offer Rondo more money if they see fit to. Then there is the idea of Rondo’s fit, as is the case with any team he plays for. Kobe Bryant has backed off of late, relative to his previous play, but he still dominates the ball. Rajon Rondo dominates the ball aswell –he needs it to be effective. Neither player is even an average three-point shooter. The Lakers, eventually, will be an intriguing destination. Unless they take in terrible lottery luck, dropping to out of the top five in the 2015 draft and relinquishing their selection to Dragic’s Suns, the team will enter this offseason with plenty of space and two consecutive highly regarded top draft picks on its rebuilding roster. They’ll have space in 2016, as well, when Bryant’s contract comes off the books. Until then, however, it’s just noise. Even Bryant, at his most dogged, probably knows that Rondo, Dragic and others aren’t coming to Los Angeles this summer. As he likely knew last summer, when considering another potential teammate: LeBron James when asked if Kobe Bryant recruited him during free agency this summer: "No" —Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 15, 2015 Rebuilding takes time, Los Angeles. It’s your turn to do it. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


LaMarcus Aldridge needs thumb surgery, and the Blazers might be in big trouble (Ball Don't Lie

We started to get bad vibes after Wednesday's reports that the results of a magnetic resonance imaging exam on the left hand that LaMarcus Aldridge injured during the Portland Trail Blazers' Monday's win over the Sacramento Kings were "inconclusive." We knew something definitely wasn't right when Blazers general manager Neil Olshey confirmed the Thursday morning report by Sean Deveney of the Sporting News that Aldridge's left thumb was in a cast heading into today's follow-up MRI. On Thursday night, we learned that our fears were well-founded: MRI confirms Portland F LaMarcus Aldridge has a radial collateral ligament tear in left thumb. He will undergo surgery; out for 6-8 weeks. —Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) January 23, 2015 The three-time All-Star power forward suffered the injury while defending Kings center DeMarcus Cousins early in the second quarter on Monday night: [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] Aldridge left the game at the 10:26 mark of the second quarter and did not return, finishing the game with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting in 13 1/2 minutes. Inside the Blazers' locker room prior to Portland's Thursday meeting with the Boston Celtics, the news —as you might expect —wasn't greeted warmly, as Jason Quick of the Oregonian reports : Wesley Matthews was sitting in front of his locker and perusing his phone, when I mentioned "Bummer.'' "What?'' he asked, and I pointed to Aldridge's stall, where a horde of media had gathered for a 6:10 availability with Aldridge. "Torn ligament. Surgery. Out 6-to-8 weeks,'' I told Matthews. Matthews chucked his phone over his right shoulder and immediately got up from his chair and left the locker room. Jeff Stotts of the great medical/injury information blog In Street Clothes notes that Aldridge's injury is the same one suffered this offseason by Los Angeles Lakers wing Nick Young. Swaggy P was expected to miss eight weeks, as well, but came back a bit earlier than that , which offers something, at least, for Blazers fans looking to remain optimistic as they grapple with the notion of life without their leading scorer (23.2 points per game) and rebounder (10.2 boards per contest). Here, however, is the dark cloud within that silver lining: here are the western playoff hopefuls POR plays in the next two months: DAL (x2), HOU (x2), LAC, MEM (x2), OKC, PHX, SAS. —Aaron McGuire (@docrostov) January 23, 2015 The Blazers have been excellent this season, riding a balanced attack (10th in the league in points scored per possession, fifth in points allowed per possession) to a 31-12 record that's good for the No. 2 seed in the West (behind only the on-another-level Golden State Warriors) and an 8 1/2 game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Northwest Division. But they've rolled up that record against a less-than-murderous slate of opposition; a handful of different strength-of-schedule measurements all peg Portland's schedule thus far as one of the seven easiest in the league. As you can see from the rundown above, that's about to change in a hurry . The Blazers' timeframe would keep Aldridge sidelined for anywhere from 18 to 24 games, slating his return somewhere between the first and third week of March. That's an awful long time to be without your top gun, especially in as dangerous an environment as the Western Conference; while it's very nice for Portland to have that 8 1/2 game division cushion, it probably wouldn't serve as a seismic shock to see the now-surging Thunder take a sizable bite out of that lead in the weeks ahead. The challenge for Blazers coach Terry Stotts will be to keep the margin from disappearing entirely. On that score, it'll be nice to be able to rely on Damian Lillard, who's in the midst of his best season as a pro (22.1 points, 6.2 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game) and has become one of the league's most lethal fourth-quarter performers . But the Blazers will need more than All-Star play from their All-Star point guard. With starting center Robin Lopez still recuperating from the broken bones in his right hand and reserve big man Joel Freeland still working his way back from a right shoulder strain , Portland's frontcourt was already stretched thin. And Olshey saying Thursday that it's possible that neither Lopez nor Freeland will return before the mid-February All-Star break, Stotts will have to lean even more heavily for frontcourt productivity on the likes of Chris Kaman, Thomas Robinson, Meyers Leonard and Victor Claver, and on small-ball lineups featuring Nicolas Batum and versatile reserve Dorell Wright sliding up to the four spot. Batum has struggled mightily this season, averaging just 9.4 points in 33.7 minutes per game while shooting a career-low 39.5 percent from the field and just 28.1 percent from 3-point land, but he did have a bounceback outing (27 points on 9-for-15 shooting and 6-for-8 from long distance, 10 rebounds, five assists and a block) in Portland's Wednesday loss to the Phoenix Suns. Blazers fans must now hope even more fervently that the Frenchman's sweet shooting in Arizona was a sign of an impending return to form. Despite the daunting prospect of facing the double-tough schedule ahead without their most accomplished interior scorer, it's possible that Stotts, one of the league's sharper tacticians, will be able to bubblegum-and-duct-tape together enough solutions to be able to weather the storm, fend off challenges from the snarl of teams below them in the standings (the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, Suns and Thunder) and keep the Blazers in position for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs until Aldridge returns. This is, after all, a deeper, more talented and experienced Portland team than we've seen in the past couple of years, and Lillard sure looks to be more than capable of carrying the weight of superstar-level expectations; Dame seems like the kind of dude who will hear droves of people saying, "Oh, no, this is baaaaad news for Portland," internalize it all, pressurize it into some kind of "nobody believes in us!" anger diamond and go average 30-7-7 for the next six weeks just to prove a point. That said, there's a reason why the Blazers' offensive efficiency drops from top-five-in-the-league (108 points per 100 possessions) to just-above-bottom-five (100 points-per-100) when Aldridge sits down . It's not just that he's one of the game's elite midrange shooters, a pick-and-pop maestro whom defenses just can't leave alone at the elbows and near the arc lest they suffer the same fate as the Houston Rockets. It's all the open space and opportunity that his shooting, and the threat of his shooting, opens up for Lillard, Batum and 3-point-bombing shooting guard Wesley Matthews. It's the added bonus afforded by the continuity and familiarity that the Blazers' core has built up by playing so many minutes together over the past few seasons. It's the knowledge that, virtually regardless of what happens on an offensive possession and how badly a defense blows it up, they can almost always get a decent look just by giving it to the 6-foot-11 cornerstone with the high, nearly unblockable release. It's hard to replace all that. Well, no, scratch that; it's probably impossible to replace all that. But the Blazers will have to do their best to keep plugging along, and Aldridge —reportedly in good spirits as he spoke briefly with media after the announcement —will do his best to both get back as quickly as possible and make sure he's healthy enough to stay back once he returns. From Joe Freeman of the Oregonian : "It's tough. We have been in a pretty good rhythm most of this season. We've lost guys a lot this season. This is a totally different season from last year. But we have a lot of guys here that can step up and play better and make plays. So I feel like the team shouldn't stall. We're going to get guys back soon, so it's going to be good for us." While Aldridge is to be commended for putting a brave face on bummerific news, we'll have to agree to disagree that anything about this is "good" for the Blazers. The difference between Portland contending for a title and missing the playoffs entirely could very well rest on how well and how quickly a tiny stretch of connective tissue on the outside of a thumb heals. It seems an absurd statement, but it also feels like a sadly appropriate margin of error in this unrelenting Western Conference. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Kobe Bryant and Nick Young are recruiting Rajon Rondo, Goran Dragic, others (Ball Don't Lie%

The Los Angeles Lakers’owners can’t comment on potential free agent additions specifically, which is why they’re left to take in the slings and arrows as they publicly defend their team’s course in the midst of a 12-30 season. The team’s general manager, Mitch Kupchak, can’t talk on record about the sort of player he’d like to go after with his team’s potential $20-something million in cap space this summer. The squad’s coach, Byron Scott, can’t be seen whispering in a free agent’s ear, and he can’t muse openly about how great it would be to add a specific contributor currently working for another team. If any faction is caught talking, they’ll be heavily fined by the NBA for tampering. They can’t say anything until July, when contracts either turn over for another year, or expire. It’s Quiet Time, in the middle of a season that was designed to be a lost one. Players, on the other hand, can chatter away. They can admit to the press that they’d love to see a specific player on their team next season, and they can call, text, Facebook or Twitter message loving missives to free agents all they want. Those guys can recruit. The two most prominent Laker holdovers for 2015-16 are Kobe Bryant and Nick Young. Both have admitted to trying to stay in the ear of two of this summer’s most coveted free agents, looking to build a case that the Lakers are a team on the rise. It started with Nick Young whispering sweet nothings into Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic’s ear. From the Los Angeles Daily News : “I told Goran Dragic on the court, ‘You might be my teammate next year.’”Young told the L.A. News Group shortly after the Lakers’loss on Monday to the Phoenix Suns. “I’ll talk to Marc (Gasol.) Me and him are cool. Kevin Love, I’ll talk to him.”Several, if not every, NBA team will at least put in a pitch to Marc Gasol and Kevin Love, but as we’ve discussed before with both players , neither is likely to leave their championship-contending teams to take less money to rebuild in Los Angeles. Despite Nick’s charms. Dragic, on the other hand, might be a possibility. Even if it is a slim one. I mean, the guy’s brother is under contract to play with the Suns next season. The Suns have rebounded from an iffy start to hang on to the eighth seed in the killer Western Conference playoff bracket. The team is on pace to threaten for 50 wins, and though the team’s three-game lead over the improving Oklahoma City Thunder isn’t exactly “comfortable,”Phoenix should be credited for keeping the Thunder at bay for far longer than we presumed they would. Dragic is technically under contract next season, but he will most certainly use his player option and opt out of the final year of his deal, a year that stands to pay him a below-market mark of $7.5 million. If the Suns miss the playoffs and Goran deduces that the team’s approach with Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas isn’t working, there is a chance (however slight) that he could decide to start all over. Decide to ink a one-year deal somewhere and await the increased NBA salary cap slated to hit in 2016. That’s a reach, but in Nick Young’s mind, it’s reachable. Kobe Bryant? He’s shooting higher, as you’d expect, and refusing to sign off on any chance that Rajon Rondo remains a Dallas Maverick. Not until Rondo literally signs off on things. From the Boston Herald : While Mavericks owner Mark Cuban expressed confidence his club can and will sign Rondo to a new deal, Bryant told the Herald he’s not about to cease working on getting him to LA. “No way,”Bryant said. “I’m not done. I’m not stopping until he signs an extension.”Though many rightfully worried about Rondo’s fit with Dallas offensively, he has helped turn the team’s defense around to a significant degree, the offensive drop hasn’t been severe in the slightest, and Dallas is 10-4 with him on board (0-1 with him out of the lineup). That’s a sterling record considering that the Mavs’move for Rajon was created midseason, without the aid of a training camp. The fit was made even more impressive due to the fact that Rondo isn’t your typical, orthodox NBA point guard. The dude can’t even hit free throws. Mark Cuban, however, isn’t worried : “It’ll get better,”owner Mark Cuban said. “If we can improve (former center) Erick Dampier’s free-throw shooting, among others, we’ll improve Rajon’s. How he starts is going to be different from how he finishes.”(Mark’s memory might be a little off, here. Damp’s free throw percentage dipped to 60 and then 59 percent in his first two seasons in Dallas, down from nearly 66 percent in the year prior to the Mavs trading for him. He rebounded a bit to shoot in the low 60s two other years, but fell to 57 percent in his penultimate year with the Mavericks. His best mark with Mark, at 63.8 percent, was eclipsed four other times with teams he played for in the years before the Mavericks dealt for him.) Rajon has missed 13 of 17 free throws as a Mav, but even an embarrassing “hack-a-Rajon”-incident in the playoffs won’t dissuade Dallas from offering him a max extension this summer. It’s unlikely that Kobe’s presence will dissuade Rajon from accepting it, either. The Lakers have cap space, but Dallas (as the incumbent team) can offer Rondo more money if they see fit to. Then there is the idea of Rondo’s fit, as is the case with any team he plays for. Kobe Bryant has backed off of late, relative to his previous play, but he still dominates the ball. Rajon Rondo dominates the ball as well –he needs it to be effective. Neither player is even an average three-point shooter. The Lakers, eventually, will be an intriguing destination. Unless they take in terrible lottery luck, dropping to out of the top five in the 2015 draft and relinquishing their selection to Dragic’s Suns, the team will enter this offseason with plenty of space and two consecutive highly regarded top draft picks on its rebuilding roster. They’ll have space in 2016, as well, when Bryant’s contract comes off the books. Until then, however, it’s just noise. Even Bryant, at his most dogged, probably knows that Rondo, Dragic and others aren’t coming to Los Angeles this summer. As he likely knew last summer, when considering another potential teammate: LeBron James when asked if Kobe Bryant recruited him during free agency this summer: "No" —Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 15, 2015 Rebuilding takes time, Los Angeles. It’s your turn to do it. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

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