Kevin Martin has found the real Ariza

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Houston’s mistake — or at least the mistake of many fans — was to think that Trevor Ariza was a go-to-guy.

He was a role player in Los Angeles. Sure, he hit big threes in the NBA Finals, but that was because Stan Van Gundy — who had Ariza on his team just a season before and let him go because he was convinced he couldn’t hit a three — let him have wide open looks. Kobe Bryant driving the lane creates wide-open looks. He got easy and spectacular looks in transition.

But Trevor Ariza never had to create offense in Los Angeles. He was simply the beneficiary of those who did.

Then he comes to Houston, a team without the guy supposed to create their offense (Yao Ming), and suddenly Ariza was asked to fill a new role. To be the creator. And he’s not that good at that.

But in the last few weeks the old Trevor Ariza is back — because of Kevin Martin. Rahat Huq at Red94 explains (via TrueHoop):

Ariza has come into his own simply because the presence of Kevin Martin has forced down his usage and forced him back into doing the things that earned him his contract.

Because Martin can handle the ball and create off the dribble, he has now assumed the lion’s share of the complementary ballhandling duties.  This has allowed Ariza to slash off of Brooks’/Martin’s penetration, spot up for 3’s, and run the floor.  The results have been beautiful.

Ariza is a very good role player, and one who has proven he can step up on the biggest stage. The Rockets are loaded with good role players, and now have a couple of guys who can create on the perimeter. If they can get a healthy Yao back next season, watch out. And watch out for Ariza.

Report: Clippers hiring ex-Cavaliers executive Trent Redden

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The power dynamics within the Clippers are shifting, and the ground apparently hasn’t settled yet.

Doc Rivers has been stripped of his presidency. Jerry West became a consultant. Lawrence Frank now holds the most prestigious title in the front office, and newly hired Michael Winger will report to him. Also falling under Frank in the organizational chart? Trent Redden.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

Longtime Cleveland Cavaliers executive Trent Redden will join the LA Clippers’ front-office staff as assistant general manager, league sources said on Monday.

Redden was ousted in Cleveland with David Griffin. He’ll help the Clippers simply by providing another capable executive. They’ve long needed to add front-office employees (and pay for them).

But Redden also exacerbates the issue of Frank’s underlings having far more front-office experience than him. As the Clippers try to establish their new setup, we’ll see whether that creates complications.

Warriors’ Steve Kerr: I expect to coach all season and for many years ahead

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr has missed significant time the last two seasons due to complications from back surgery.

Could those issues derail his career?

Kerr, via Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“I fully expect to coach all year,” Kerr says in a no-nonsense tone. “That’s my expectation. And for many years to come.”

On the most basic level, it’d be good if Kerr feels well enough to coach. The headaches sound miserable, regardless of his job.

But it’d also be ideal if the NBA didn’t lose one of its best coaches just as he’s getting started. The 51-year-old Kerr might wind up the greatest coach of all time. Obviously that’s a long way off, but he has that potential – health permitting.

Quinn Cook signing two-year contract with Hawks

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The Hawks began last season with just two point guards, one fewer than most teams – especially notable because neither starter Dennis Schroder nor backup Malcolm Delaney was experienced for his role.

Schroder and Delaney return, but Atlanta is adding another option – Quinn Cook.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Cook is a borderline NBA player. He might not make the regular-season roster. He also might supplant Delaney for a rotation spot.

A 24-year-old who has spent most of the last two years in the D-League (also getting stints with the Mavericks and Pelicans), Cook is a good outside shooter. He’s also steady, if unspectacular, in his lead-guard duties.

This is a solid flier at a position the Hawks could use depth.

Knicks sign Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Jamel Artis

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The Knicks signing Nigel Hayes leaked first.

But New York didn’t stop there.

Knicks release:

The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has signed forwards Jamel Artis and Nigel Hayes and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Like Hayes, Artis (Pittsburgh) and Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) went undrafted this year – making them eligible to be waived and assigned to the Knicks’ minor-league affiliate. That’s likely all three’s fate.

But first, each will have an opportunity to make the regular-season roster. The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one roster spot for someone on a standard contract. Chasson Randle (unguaranteed) is the incumbent choice, but these three could supplant him.