Posts Tagged ‘Basketball’

NBA: Can Hill Stop Nash?

May 5, 2010 Comments off

George Hill is going to have to pick up his defense against Steve Nash.

Or course, first he’ll have to pick up his pride, his ego and probably a considerable number of lost uniform parts that left him so very exposed out on the floor against Nash.

If the Spurs were visitors to Planet Orange for the opening game of the Western Conference semifinals, then Hill made a side trip to the village of Black-and-Blue considering the way Nash whipped and beat him in Game 1.

“I don’t know if I struggled,” Hill said.

Everyone else does.

You could tell from the shock and awe that Hill was wearing along with a bit of windburn on his face.

It was not just the 33 points and 10 assists that Nash hung up in the Suns’ 111-102 series-opening victory. It was the way that so many of them came with so easily, like a man floating down a stream while sipping an umbrella drink from a straw.

“You’ve got to make Nash work,” said Tony Parker, which is one reason that Parker and not Hill opened the second half as a part of the starting unit.

It’s early and the history of this blood feud between Phoenix and San Antonio tells us that there are at least a handful of flammable and bizarre occurrences lurking around the corner. But the first one told you that the Spurs will not be able to ultimately prevail against the Suns if Hill is not able to compete better against Nash.

Hill has been a revelation with his overall improvement and his poise from his rookie year. He’s one of the main reasons the Spurs were able to survive this season with Parker spending so much time on the shelf due to injuries. But he has got to do better than nine points on 2-for-9 shooting in 33 minutes.

“I couldn’t make a shot today,” Hill said. “That’s why it’s a seven-game series. We’ll watch film and get ready for the next one.

“Why did I struggle? I don’t know if it was a part of just struggling. I didn’t make shots. I had some open looks and that’s how it goes. I don’t think I really struggled. It just didn’t go my way.”

Things began similarly disappointing for Hill in the Spurs in the previous round in Dallas as he was victimized by Jason Kidd for 13 points and 11 assists. In the opening minutes of the second half, Hill went on a drive to the hoop and Kidd simply reached in and swiped the ball away. Mere seconds later, Hill was removed from the game and never returned. But Spurs and Hill did return in the series, which is how they wound up here in the desert seeking to advance their cause.

“He’s a great player and I felt like I let him be the aggressor instead of me being the aggressor on defense,” Hill said. “That’s something I’m going to get better at and do a better job on Wednesday. I feel like tonight he did a great job of picking us apart and being aggressive.

“He’s the head of the snake. He was phenomenal and we have to tip our hat to him.”

The Spurs will likely make more of a team-wide effort to get the ball out of Nash’s hands on offense.

“You never can do anything by yourself,” Hill said. “It’s always gonna be a team thing.”

But it will also be up to Hill to make Nash defend more by being more assertive with his own offense.

“I have to attach him a little bit more so he just don’t conserve his energy on the defensive end,” he said. We got to make him work on both ends.”

That was the message that the second-year point guard had delivered to him by the veteran Parker.

“I told George at halftime that you have to try to get Steve tired,” Parker said. “You have to attack him, go at him and that will tire him out. You can’t be letting him come down the court with all of his energy and going full speed. Steve Nash at full speed is tough and over the course of a game he’s going to get good results. George will play better. I have confidence in him.”

A question is whether Spurs coach Gregg Popovich might make a switch and put Parker back into the starting lineup.

“I’m not worried about that. I’m not thinking about that,” Hill said. “Whatever Pop decides will be the right thing and that will be fine with me.

“We’ll come back in here for Game 2 and things will be different, a lot of things ready to be better.”

Hill will be standing at the head of that line.


NBA: For Amar’e, Suns Tenure Could Go Either Way

January 18, 2010 Comments off

The agent for Amar’e Stoudemire, Happy Walters, will meet with Suns management soon to begin discussing a potential extension for the high-octane forward, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. The assumption from both outside and apparently inside is that the Suns and Stoudemire don’t have the same dollar figure in mind, and that could lead to the Suns thinking trade before the league’s February trade deadline.

Coro suggests Amar’e is looking for Pau Gasol, near max contract money. (Gasol recently signed an extension worth $57 million for three years during the Laker’s 30s.) The Suns have been so hot-and-cold on Amar’e that it’s almost assured that pricetag is too high. The gamble at that point is in betting that a free agent market focused on the ultra-stars this summer will leave Amar’e in a pickle, and will leave Phoenix open to bidding closer to their price come July. The flip side of that bet is that the team could lose its No. 2 player and No. 2 asset for nothing.

And while Coro comes off as pessimistic as to whether the trade offers which will come in February will be enough to entice Phoenix, I have no doubt they can only improve. By all accounts, Stoudemire’s defense is still problematic. But his rebounding has improved dramatically over last season’s rough campaign (he’s back to his career standard) and his scoring is still ultra-efficient. He’s a real catch, with less of the mitigating issues which sunk his value last season.

Pending Chris Bosh movement, Amar’e could also be the best chance for a non-2010 bonanza team to slip in and make a massive upgrade. Phoenix will obviously want talent in order to give up such a solid asset, but expiring contracts could also help the Suns become a minor player in this summer’s free agency. The Suns are on pace to have a payroll of $45 million if you don’t count Stoudemire’s certain-to-be-declined player option. The salary cap for 2010-11 is expected to fall somewhere around $55 million.

The question will be (should it come to this) just how much talent Phoenix wants to get back. I suppose that goes without saying, but after last year’s odd flirtation with trading Amar’e, it deserves to be mentioned.

NBA: Marbury to China

January 18, 2010 Comments off

NEW YORK – Stephon Marburywill play professional basketball again.

In China.

The two-time NBA-All Star has agreed to play in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) with China’s Shanxi Club, according to a Reuters report.

Marbury, 32, hasn’t played since leaving the Boston Celtics after last year. The Shanxi team website ( said Marbury would arrive sometime next week.

“The aim of signing Marbury is to pay back our fans and try to win more games in the rest of the season,” Shanxi boss Wang Xingjiang said on the team’s website.

Wang also said that Marbury wanted to promote his “Starbury” shoes in China, the world’s most populated nation.

Former NBA player Bonzi Wells played for Shanxi last season, scoring 50 points in a game. But Wells did not return to the team after a holiday break in January.

“It was a big cultural shock to me for the first few weeks,” Wells said, according to Agence France Presse.

“Since I have been here it has been all business and I haven’t had any fun yet, so I am looking for some fun.”

Shanxi is currently 15th in the 17-team league and the arrival of Marbury is expected to boost ticket sales and the team’s prospects of making the postseason.

Marbury’s Twitter feed makes no specific mention of the China deal, but he did say, “I have some things that are brewing.”

NBA: Bargain Players Making Big Impact

January 13, 2010 Comments off

Keeping Shannon Brown has turned out to be a big boost for a Lakers bench that has, generally, struggled. What’s more is that Brown didn’t put much of a dent in the Lakers’payroll — he signed for just $2 million, plus an option for next year. But several of the league’s top teams were able to pick up key contributors this summer for less than $2 million.

1. Channing Frye, Suns. Frye came to Phoenix on a two-year contract worth just $3.8 million, but he has become one of the best longe-range shooters in the league, averaging 12.4 points with a 3-point shooting percentage of 43.3.

2. Jason Williams, Magic. Orlando brought Williams out of retirement to be the backup point guard, for just $1.3 million. Williams played well when starter Jameer Nelson went down and is averaging 6.9 points and 4.6 assists.

3. Shannon Brown, Lakers. His defense and consistency have made him a Phil Jackson favorite.

4. Marquis Daniels, Celtics. Daniels will return from thumb surgery in the coming weeks, but he showed enough in his 19 games to make clear that he will be a key producer off the bench for the Celtics in the second half. Not bad for $1.9 million.

5. Juwan Howard, Blazers. Howard signed a one-year deal for $1.3 million, and did not expect to play a whole lot this year. He certainly did not expect to be a starter. But with Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla out, Howard has had to use his veteran know-how to hold down the middle.

NBA: Gilbert Arenas Wants to Cop a Plea

January 13, 2010 Comments off

Washington Wizards player Gilbert Arenas and the U.S. Attorney are negotiating a plea bargain … law enforcement sources tell TMZ.

Our sources say Arenas’ lawyer and prosecutors are discussing a plea in which Arenas would cop to misdemeanor gun charges. We’re told a deal hasn’t been struck yet, but it could come as early as today.

Sources say the filing of charges would coincide with the plea, so it would all go down quickly. We do not know what they are discussing with respect to a sentence … the prosecutor would recommend a sentence but ultimately it’s the judge’s decision.

Arenas is under investigation for felony gun charges for the locker room incident last month.

As for what a plea would do to Arenas’ status as a member of the Washington Wizards, we’re told G.M. Ernie Grunfeld and Arenas were text messaging each other shortly after the incident. In one of the text messages, Grunfeld wrote that Arenas had violated his NBA contract which prohibits players from possessing a firearm in a team or league facility. As a result Grunfeld texted the team had a right to void his contract … worth $111 million.

Report; Arenas Owned Several ‘Hundred’ Guns

File with the “should we be surprised?” pile: WTOPreports today that disgraced Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas has “owned several hundred guns,” but moved most of those firearms out of his Virginia home before he brought guns into the Verizon Center over a month ago. All of Arenas’s firearms were reportedly legally procured, but we’re not just talking about some run of the mill weaponry here:

The guns turned over to police include a so-called ‘Dirty Harry Revolver’ and a gold-plated Desert Eagle — which is so big and has such a powerful recoil — no law enforcement agency uses them.

Yowza. Revelations like this surely can’t help Arenas while an investigation into his locker room confrontation with Javaris Crittenton is still ongoing. Sure enough, TMZ is quoting anonymous sources who say that Arenas is attempting to plead down to misdemeanor gun charges, a deal that could happen as early as today. Such charges might still carry jail time, but would certainly spare Arenas the multiple-year sentence which had been suggested after the story first broke.

NBA: NBA suspends Arenas indefinitely

January 6, 2010 Comments off

NEW YORK — The NBA suspended Gilbert Arenas indefinitely on Wednesday. The Wizards star admitted to bringing four unloaded guns into the Verizon Center locker room and is under investigation by local and federal authorities.

In written statement, commissioner David Stern said

“The possession of firearms by an NBA player in an NBA arena is a matter of the utmost concern to us. I initially thought it prudent to refrain from taking immediate action because of the pendency of a criminal investigation involving the office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Metropolitan Police Department, and the consideration of this matter by a grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia. For the same reason, I directed the Wizards to refrain from taking any action. Wizards personnel continue to be interviewed by law enforcement authorities, some are scheduled for appearance before the grand jury and the investigation is proceeding with the intensity that one would expect for such a serious incident.

Although it is clear that the actions of Mr. Arenas will ultimately result in a substantial suspension, and perhaps worse, his ongoing conduct has led me to conclude that he is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game. Accordingly, I am suspending Mr. Arenas indefinitely, without pay, effective immediately pending the completion of the investigation by the NBA.”

NBA: D-Wade would love to play with LeBron

December 22, 2009 Comments off

“We know each other away from basketball, and I have an unbelievable respect for the person I’ve gotten to know during our seven years in the league.” Dwyane Wade served that morsel regarding his relationship with LeBron James during our scheduled sit-down last Wednesday in the Heats practice gym inside American Airlines Arena . . . and that’s just an appetizer. “So,” I interrupted, “contrary to Magic Johnson’s impetuous opinion and popular belief, you and LeBron could play together?” “Contrary is the operative word,” Wade accentuated, all gleam. “We can play together.”

This was my first time interviewing Wade one-on-one, I’m embarrassed to admit. Considering the less than favorable conditions — no accrued trust, restricted (20-to-25) minutes rationed by the Heat’s publicity department, crushing my usual pre-conversation concept of foreplay — I didn’t expect he would give up much more than the predictable pabulum.

Shows how little I know Wade. Friendly and forthright, he’s the opposite of your typical programmed pin-up player who answers questions that weren’t asked with cliches.

Appreciatively, Wade doesn’t mind amplifying on sensitive subjects. There’s no shutdown after a sentence or two, no creation of awkward silence that pressures you to move on to something else. Instead, he expands with no prodding and furnishes you with more than you are entitled to know.

Not once did Wade say “off the record.”

Before we refocus on the pending possibility of LeBron and Wade patrolling the perimeter together (as they did in a gold medal-winning cause in the Beijing Olympics), let’s revisit Heat management’s premeditated determination this season to tread talent in the middle of the pool rather than contend for a championship by surpassing the luxury-tax buoy — or add any salary to next season’s $30M cap — like the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Magic, Mavericks, Nuggets, Hornets, Suns, Jazz, Wizards and, ahem, Cavaliers.

For owner Mickey Arison and team president Pat Riley consciously to squander Wade’s superlatives for 82 games — perhaps his last season in South Beach — and not think he would take exception to it must mean they are pretty confident they have got him on tap for 2010-11 and beyond and believe they’ve got a legit chance to recruit LeBrontosaurus.

I do want to stay,” Wade said, repeating a mantra he’s chanted almost every day since training camp. “However, I’m open-minded. I want to win! I want that! When we got Shaq I said, ‘All right, we’re trying to win it all now.’ When he left, our direction changed.

I understand the business side. I would’ve wanted us to make moves for someone who’ll help us now and be here for the future, too

I understand the business side. I would’ve wanted us to make moves for someone who’ll help us now and be here for the future, too

I just want to make sure we’ll be in position to compete for a title. I just want to make sure they bring in the beef.

Is it frustrating at times? Yes, it is! I’m not in competition with Kobe, but then again I am. I want to be in that elite group that wins multiple titles.

Before we agreed to terms, LeBron and I had a couple conversations,” Wade said. “I can’t recall exactly what we said, but the gist of it was we wanted to give ourselves the flexibility and the option to play together.”  

A lot of times in this league, players usually wind up going where they can get the most money. We’re both blessed within that area. We’ve made a lot of money. So we wanted to base our decision on two things, the organization and the ability to win a title. And that’s what we’ll do. When the season is over, we plan to sit down and talk about it.”

I’m not saying it will happen. But I’m intrigued by the idea.

“”I probably couldn’t have handled playing with someone like  LeBron earlier in my career, but I’m older now. You’re talking about two big egos and meshing them. That’d take a lot of sacrifice on  LeBron’s part and it’d take a lot of sacrifice on my part to succeed. But we would succeed because we know winning takes care of everything.

I’d like to play here, but I don’t mind where it is as long the organization is a good fit and it’s committed to competing for championships. The unknown has me intrigued.

New York Post