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Court Vision

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• Big news for Seattle fans: The Seattle Times broke the news late last night/this morning that the City Council and Chris Hansen, a hedge fund manager raised in the Seattle area, have reached a tentative compromise for a plan to build a new basketball/hockey arena in Seattle. There is a lot to work out, including formal approval, an environmental report and Hansen actually buying an NBA team, but finding the right combination of public bonds, private financing and earmarked tax revenue is a huge step toward the return of the Sonics.

• Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus (and a former Sonics employee) commends everyone involved with the Hansen plan for their patience and reserves some special praise for Wally Walker:

Of course, Hansen isn’t the only one who has been patient. The members of the former Sonics ownership group that have joined Hansen also put aside the bitter disappointment of the way the team left. The hidden hero in this entire process was former Sonics president and CEO Wally Walker, who advised Hansen behind the scenes and was responsible for introducing him to the influential local businessmen who lent his investment group credibility. Walker, who voted against the sale of the team to the Oklahoma City group as a member of the board in 2006, has since worked tirelessly to help bring back the Sonics. That, not any of his decisions as general manager, should be his enduring legacy in Seattle.

The rest of Pelton’s post is similarly eloquent and even-handed.

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  • Published On 4:12pm, Sep 11, 2012
  • Court Vision

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    Ricky Rubio is anticipating a December return date from a torn ACL. As always when it comes to injuries, I’d like to point you to Kevin Pelton’s essential research on ACL tears, recovery timetables and level of play among those who have suffered such injuries. Pelton sifts through every known ACL tear from the last dozen years, pinpoints typical recovery schedules and tests the conventional wisdom that a player rediscovers his pre-injury peak level of play in his second season after the initial injury.

    Shaquille O’Neal sat down for a one-on-one with the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, and when Dwight Howard’s name came up, Shaq couldn’t resist zinging Howard a bit. This has predictably made news, for some reason. I can’t think of many more tired NBA “stories” than Shaq’s strange obsession with tweaking Howard in the media.

    Tom Ziller of SB Nation names the very worst owners in the NBA, with each getting his own category of horribleness.

    Digging into the tape to figure out how Trevor Ariza can be a more productive spot-up player for a Washington team that really needs productive spot-up players.

    On the self-fulfilling nature of the Spurs’ “program.”

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  • Published On 3:26pm, Sep 10, 2012
  • Court Vision

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    • Dan Devine of Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie blog, a longtime Knicks fan, swallows hard and reflects on Reggie Miller’s Hall of Fame induction. I’m guessing this post sets the record for most uses of the word “stupid” in any Ball Don’t Lie post.

    • Video of Jamaal Wilkes, another new Hall of Famer, destroying the Sixers in the clincher of the 1980 Finals with an array of cuts, rebounds and funky jumpers. This is mostly known as the game in which Magic Johnson scored 42 points while jumping center for an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but if you score 37 points in a title-clinching game, you get your own highlight reel — and an invite to Springfield.

    • Speaking of Silk: Which L.A. championship team ranks as the best of the bunch?

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  • Published On 5:01pm, Sep 07, 2012
  • Court Vision

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    • The NBA blogs at SB Nation are devoting today to naming the single biggest disappointment among all players for each NBA franchise. Some interesting choices: Toronto, Dallas, Cleveland, injuries in Orlando, some comic genius from Washington and a long entry from Utah.

    • Tom Ziller of SB Nation with more good stuff on the importance of three-point shots and the ideal frequency with which teams and players should attempt them.

    • This isn’t strictly NBA related, but Terrell Owens is in major financial trouble and blames his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, for hooking Owens up with a financial adviser simply because (in Owens’ view) Rosenhaus happens to have a chummy relationship with that particular adviser. Related note: Last month, the sports business media gave a bit of attention to a new company athletes and other celebrities pay to monitor their own financial advisers.  Sports can be a messy business sometimes.

    • Speaking of which: Billy Gillesspie, head coach of Texas Tech, is going to be out of a job soon if these allegations prove true.

    • Grantland has a mini-documentary following Royce White through his draft day. It’s a really fun piece of work, in part because White is so candid about his anxiety issues, his fear of flying and his general mental state. It’s also fun to see and hear a cell phone call, in the middle of the first round, in which White’s agent essentially tells him that every team between the Rockets (holders of picks Nos. 16 and 18) and the 25-28 range has already decided to pass on White.

    It’s fair wonder if that information is accurate, or if some teams had sent the agent mixed signals. Regardless: Houston selected White at No. 16 after all, and we get some insight into the possibility the Rockets’ brain trust was divided about the pick.

    What does Harrison Barnes have to do to get major minutes on the wing in Golden State?

    Paul Flannery of WEEI.com breaks down Boston’s fascinating offseason.

    Mark Cuban doesn’t feel bad for folks who lost money in the Facebook IPO.

    • Cuban is in a bit of a blog comment argument with the folks at Wages of Wins, who criticized the Chris Kaman signing and used their go-to stat, Wins Produced, to show several under-utilized big men are more valuable than the very much utilized Kaman. (Hat tip: TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott). Cuban takes issue with both the Wins Produced stat itself (with a bit of help from Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference) and argues that even if Kaman were so unproductive, playing in a new context in Dallas, alongside Dirk Nowitzki, will help him thrive. Both sides have merit here, but I lean toward Cuban’s side on this. Kaman is a hair overrated; as Wins Produced indicates, he can be an inefficient offensive player in the wrong system — a big man who shoots a ton of jumpers, makes fewer than half his shots overall, barely gets to the line and turns the ball over at an above-average rate. He’s a so-so rebounder, and Wins Produced loves rebounders who shot efficiently (and rarely).

    But recast Kaman as a third option on a smart team, and he may well do better. And some of the under-utilized big men who Wins Produced favors — Chris Andersen, for instance — would likely flounder if given larger roles in which their teams would depend upon them for scoring and 35 minutes of steady defense.

    • Steve Aschburner of NBA.com attended the 40th reunion of the 1972 U.S. Olympic basketball team a couple of weeks back and produced a few really nice pieces out of his experience there. In this piece, Tom Burleson, a member of that team, tearfully shares his experience nearly coming face-to-face with the terror attack on Israeli athletes at those Munich games.

    Some upper-level management turmoil at the Knicks, first reported by Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.

    Donnie Walsh talks about drafting Reggie Miller over Steve Alford, then an Indiana hero for leading the college Hoosiers to the national title. Kevin Johnson is involved.

    Rank the best Reggie Miller moments here.

    Smart thoughts about how the Lakers rotation might work itself out next season.

    • Erik Spoelstra once again says he wants the Heat to push the pace next season. Will he live up to it?


  • Published On 5:35pm, Sep 05, 2012
  • Court Vision

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    Gregg Popovich’s mailbag may be the best NBA thing you read all summer.

    • Tom Ziller, writing at SB Nation, has done two pieces of really interesting work on team three-point shooting over the last two days. The first, published Monday, uses math and charts to show a strong correlation between the number of three-pointers a team takes — regardless of shooting percentage on those shots — and that team’s expected effective field-goal percentage, which adjusts for the extra value of a three-pointer. The correlation is positive, meaning taking more threes generally results in a higher effective field-goal percentage. That’s good, because effective field-goal percentage on both sides of the floor (i.e. made and allowed) has been found to be the single most important factor in determining whether a team is good or bad. As I’ve written before, three-point attempts (and attempts allowed) and even corner three attempts (and attempts allowed) have correlated very strongly, relative to other factors, with a team’s record over the last few seasons.

    Ziller in Monday’s post explores which teams have the “best” shot selection, and which teams actually recorded the highest effective field-goal percentages last season. And today, Ziller looks at which teams shot the most three-pointers, and which teams shot most accurately from long range. How much overlap is there? In other words: Do the most accurate three-point shooting teams attempt more threes? Ziller’s chart has the answers, plus some questions facing Boston, Miami and Memphis next season.

    What should New York fans expect from Raymond Felton in a very different Knicks context from the one in which Felton experienced success in 2010-11?

    SLAM has a nice Q-and-A with Danny Green in which the Spurs’ guard talks about his time at the University of North Carolina, the impact of his father’s prison sentence, the unglamorous life of the D-League and why Gregg Popovich is actually a very funny man. Read More…


  • Published On 3:28pm, Sep 04, 2012
  • Court Vision

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    • Steve Blake and his wife, Kristen, pay $130 per month to sponor a young girl in Rwanda. The Blakes recently traveled to Rwanda to meet the girl and observe life there, and they told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times about their experience.

    A very strange player-versus-coach saga is playing out in the WNBA, and I can’t imagine how much attention this would be getting in the NBA.

    • A look at the locations from which Sacramento’s offense, a bottom-ten outfit last season, gets its shots.

    • Matt Moore, writing at ProBasketballTalk, on the strange brew that is the Kings’ roster.

    • Martell Webster is excited to join the Wizards, and told reporters this week not to pigeonhole him as a spot-up shooter — something the shooting-challenged Wizards desperately need (via Michael Lee of the Washington Post):

    “I wouldn’t call myself a three-point specialist,” Webster said during a conference call. “I’m more of an all-around player, as far as that’s concerned.”

    That kind of hunger is nice to see, provided it doesn’t lead to Webster overstepping his bounds within Washington’s offense. That’s always a tricky balance to strike.

    • Tom Ziller at SB Nation is continuing his countdown of the top 50 free agents who might be available next summer, and with Nos. 11-20, he’s into some heavy hitters — including two high-profile guards coming off rookie contracts and two star Utah big man. Who’s ranked higher: Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson? Tom and I appear to disagree on this one.

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  • Published On 1:32pm, Aug 30, 2012
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    • Matt Moore of CBSSports.com ranks all 30 teams in terms of how much they improved in the offseason.

    • Ian Levy, writing at Hickory High, is pessimistic about Carmelo Anthony’s Olympic outburst having any carryover with the Knicks.

    • Smart stuff here: Can Boris Diaw replicate what he did for the Spurs at the end of 2011-12 for a full season?

    A detailed video scouting report on what Michael Beasley brings (and doesn’t bring) to the Suns.

    Two different views of the best trade in Pistons history.

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  • Published On 2:54pm, Aug 28, 2012
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    • Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant on his place in the league (via Michael Lee of The Washington Post):

    “I’ve heard a few times, in three or four years, this league is going to be yours. . . . I don’t like that. Because I think I’m established now. My time is now,” Durant said. “I feel as though I’ve proved myself these last five years that I can be one of the top players in the league. I’ve got a long way to go to being the ultimate best, but I think my time is now. And I’m starting to enter my prime.”

    Durant wins the scoring title every season, and his team gave itself a near 50-50 chance to take a 2-0 lead in the Finals. Who are these people telling Durant he has two wait three or four years for anything in the NBA, and what have they been watching?

    A brief Q-and-A with Meyers Leonard in which the Portland rookie center reveals the first big purchase he made after signing his contract.

    Blake Griffin is happy with the Clippers and the condition of his knee, and he has a nomination for the team’s open GM slot.

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  • Published On 2:47pm, Aug 27, 2012
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    • Great news for Memphis fans: Robert Pera, the prospective new owner of the Grizzlies, has struck a deal with local investors who will partner with him in exchange for concessions that essentially lock the team into staying in Memphis for a long time. Michael Heisley, the team’s current owner, has agreed to sell the team to Pera, pending the NBA’s approval process.

    A really nice video lesson, with some pretty hilarious graphics, on how the Lakers might tweak the Princeton offense to the individual skill sets of Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant.

    • George Karl talks about the frightening potential small-ball lineups Denver can run out next season. Karl also talks about what the team will miss with Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington gone.

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  • Published On 4:42pm, Aug 23, 2012
  • Court Vision

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    • The team-centric blogs at SB Nation are unveiling their choices for the greatest trade in the history of each NBA franchise today. Some links to the winners, with nice reflections on the motivations behind each: Houston, Atlanta, Cleveland, Sacramento, Dallas, Boston (with a bit of Red Auerbach spin), Portland (the ABA is involved), L.A. Clippers (an especially hilarious one), Utah and San Antonio — a surprising (but also fitting) nomination. Otis Thorpe, by the way, is directly involved in two of these trades.

    Brian Kamenetzky at ESPN Los Angeles has an extensive Q&A with Lakers’ coach Mike Brown, who touches on the pressures of his job, the differences between Los Angeles and Cleveland, the way he nearly injured himself upon hearing about the Dwight Howard trade and lots of other stuff. Those interested in the X’s-and-O’s of the Lakers’ new-look offense will hone in on this exchange:

    [Kamenetzky]: How does the Princeton work with having someone like Nash? As my understanding, it’s not as much a heavy pick and roll offense, but more motion and ball movement.

    MB: ‘The way that we’ll put it together, Steve’s going to have an opportunity — he’s going to quarterback the team — and so he’s going to have an opportunity to come down the floor every possession and in early offense play pick-and-roll if he wants to. It’s up to him, based on where he decides to take the ball or a call that he makes or an action that he does, it’s up to him to get us into some of the looks of the Princeton offense.

    So again, with him quarterbacking, or making that decision, he’ll still have a chance to get the ball back after he moves or after bodies move. I don’t want to completely give away what we’re trying to do, but in a nutshell, he will have an opportunity to play pick-and-roll at the beginning of almost every play set coming down the floor in early offense. And if not, he can also choose to get to some of the looks out of the Princeton by making a pass or doing an action or doing a call or whatever.”

    • Aaron McGuire reflects on Dirk Nowitzki’s 2011 playoff run and wonders if all the coverage of LeBron James’ 2012 postseason dominance has obscured what Nowitzki accomplished in 2011 (and what Tim Duncan did in 2003). Lots of interesting stuff in here.

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  • Published On 3:31pm, Aug 22, 2012


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