• Mark Cuban is upset that Jason Kidd pulled an about-face and bolted for the Knicks after — per Cuban — verbally agreeing to return to Dallas. Now he’s coming out against retiring Kidd’s number in Dallas:
“Putting somebody up in the rafters, that’s something sacred in my mind,” Cuban said. “You don’t just do it just to do it, to have a big ceremony, to sell tickets. You haven’t seen me decide yet. I go back and forth on Derek Harper all the time, but Harp will be up there before J. Kidd will.
“I’ve always said my prerequisite was that you played on a championship team for the Mavs. I’d say Jet’s got a shot, Dirk’s an obvious, but as of right now I wouldn’t put J. Kidd up there.”
Kidd played six full seasons and two partial ones in Dallas, and he was a key player for the Mavs’ only title team. Still, at best, he was the fourth-most important player on that squad. His peak years obviously came elsewhere. There is no set standard for retiring numbers, and different franchises have handled the decisions differently. Some, including the Blazers, have retired numbers for guys who played roles roughly equivalent to Kidd’s on beloved title teams. But it’s not as if Kidd would be a lock for Dallas jersey retirement by any common standard.
• Amar’e Stoudemire is (again) promising to play better defense, per the New York Post:
“Defense is the key to win championships, that’s something I’m dedicated on also, to become a much, much better defensive player,” he said. “It’s going to happen. It’s a matter of preparation and practice and getting that chemistry down on that end of the court.”
Stoudemire is one of the worst defensive players in the league among those receiving heavy minutes. His issues have always struck me as having less to do with effort, and more to do with things that are much tougher to correct: a poor understanding of angles, bad timing, difficulty fitting within schemes, shaky instincts, etc. But on top of those things, Stoudemire has a painfully upright stance that makes it difficult to move side-to-side; he looks very creaky on the floor. Is that due to a lack of effort — of failing to work diligently on a crouched defensive stance? Or is it a result of his aging knees?
Either way, I wouldn’t expect a significant change in Stoudemire’s defense.
• SI.com’s Sam Amick reports the Sixers have added Sam Hinkie, Houston’s assistant GM, to their own GM search. Hinkie joins Mike Zarren, Boston’s assistant GM, as a data head-turned-personnel evaluator in the running for the top job in Philly once Rod Thorn retires. Both would be great hires, and they stand as proof that the alleged divide between “numbers guys” and “basketball guys” has always been something of a myth. Everyone has their strengths, but both Hinkie and Zarren watch a ton of ball, on film and in person, and have gotten to know the game from the inside that way.
• Donna Ditota, of the Post-Standard in Syracuse, has a nice feature on the recently amnestied Andray Blatche. There is a lot of interesting stuff in there, including Blatche’s admission that he thought the lockout would result in the cancellation of the 2011-12 season and thus showed up to camp way out of shape. Ditota details Blatche’s ongoing work with John Lucas in Houston and his desire to get back to the NBA. A good read.
• Matt McHale, writing at By the Horns, responds to Stan Van Gundy’s suggestion during a radio interview this week that Derrick Rose may leave the Bulls — or agitate to that end — if the team can’t find another star. Rose is entering the first year of a five-year contract with no opt-outs in either direction, so the Bulls are pretty safe in the most basic way possible.
• Tom Ziller of SB Nation makes some predictions on which members of the point guard-heavy 2009 draft class might receive extensions before the Oct. 31 deadline.
• The Celtics ranked near the bottom of the league in three-point attempts last season, and Ray Allen now plays for Miami. Where will Boston find a long-range game next season?
• Oh, hey, the Nets’ owner said something snarky about the Knicks’ owner. The sniping between the New York franchises, and between their fans, has somehow become tiresome already.
• The SB Nation NBA team blogs are each having readers select the best trade in franchise history. Does any team offer as many great options as the Celtics? The Lakers might have them beat, given all the trades that landed franchise big men, plus deals for Kobe Bryant and the picks that became James Worthy and Magic Johnson. For a more run-of-the-mill menu, here are the options for Portland fans.
• Charlie Widdoes of ClipperBlog with a really nice look at where Caron Butler fits on this Clippers roster. One excerpt:
Even Cy Young winners tend to lose a couple miles per hour off their fastball as they age past 30, but they continue to succeed by adding new wrinkles. For Butler, this has meant surreptitiously becoming a knockdown three-point shooter. Over the past two seasons (consisting of 92 regular season games), he is a 37 percent shooter from behind the arc. This is the same player who never shot above 34 percent in any previous season.
Last year alone, he shot almost 50 more three-pointers than he ever had before, despite the condensed schedule. Whether he can keep it up remains to be seen, but we do know that shooting is a skill that players can improve significantly over time.
On a related note, Butler has also increased the portion of threes he takes from the corners — a product of the floor spacing that typically surrounds the Chris Paul/Blake Griffin pick-and-roll, plus Vinny Del Negro’s typical use of small forwards. Lots more good stuff in that post.
• A fantastic look at what Dwight Howard brings to the Lakers’ offense. The notion that “Dwight has no post game” has been very wrong for at least two years, and probably longer, as the numbers in this column prove. But a big man who can effectively finish pick-and-rolls can be a valuable offensive player even without having a post game. Exhibit A: Tyson Chandler, who draws so much attention into the lane just by setting a pick and rolling toward the paint, where he’s a threat to catch and finish from anywhere inside the foul line. Most big men need to catch the ball closer to the hoop in order to finish easily; a guy like Chandler draws extra attention and creates openings around the perimeter.
Howard might be the best pick-and-roll finisher in the league, and he has a post-up efficiency right on par with Andrew Bynum’s. That is devastating.