Alonzo Gee has been one of the few bright spots for the Washington Wizards over the past 20 days. I’m sure plenty of Wiz fans (y’know, the ones who haven’t been completely disenfranchised by the ongoing circus that is their team) didn’t quite know what to expect with Gee, but he’s shown himself to be a capable NBA player, averaging 7.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in a little more than 16 minutes per game. He’s not a star, and he may never be, but Gee works hard, produces, and will only get better.
So naturally, when his second 10-day contract expired, the depressing lump of a franchise that is the Washington Wizards cut him loose. There’s just no room for hard-working, low-salary young players on that team, despite the fact that Washington sorely needs just that. From Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside:
…Gee was a member of
the Spurs organization with the Austin Toros from the time the D-League
club drafted him in November until he was called up to the Wizards for
his first 10-day contract on March 7th – and they’ve been interested in
him since he played for their Summer League team in Vegas.
This move, in my opinion, seems very similar to the move the Spurs made when they signed Gee’s Toros’ teammate Curtis Jerrells for the season last week. Toros coach Quin Snyder (and his staff) has spent nearly an entire season developing and
grooming Gee to fit the Spurs system, so now that the Spurs have the
chance to keep Gee in-house for an extended look over the Summer, it
seems almost like a no-brainer – he knows the system, is filled with
potential and the Spurs only have six players with guaranteed contracts for next season.
So Gee will waltz back to San Antonio — or Austin, most likely — and the Spurs, one of the more D-League savvy organizations in existence, have managed to keep another intriguing young player in-house by signing them to a guaranteed deal for the rest of the season and an unguaranteed deal for next. Ernie Grunfeld and the Wizards have managed to sever ties with a cheap, reasonable asset for seemingly no reason at all. Good show, chaps, good show.
Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.
But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.
Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.
Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:
“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”
The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.
There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.
But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.
Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.
Suns guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted yesterday:
In light of Phoenix’s 0-3 start and Earl Watson getting fired yesterday, that sure looks like a trade request. Still, there’s risk in making assumptions about vague tweets.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Why wouldn’t Bledsoe want out? The 27-year-old is in his prime and stuck on a young team that would rather tank than play him.
It’ll be interesting to see how Bledsoe explains the tweet. He previously paid lip service to his situation in Phoenix, but it appears he’s ready to open up. On the other hand, public trade requests typically draw fines from the NBA.
Hornets backup point guard Michael Carter-Williams – out.
Nicolas Batum, who handled a lot of playmaking with Charlotte’s second units – out.
Julyan Stone, another Hornets backup point guard – out.
The Charlotte Hornets announced today that guard Julyan Stone has suffered a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring. The injury occurred in practice on Sunday, Oct. 22 and he did not travel with the team to Milwaukee. Stone is listed as out for tonight’s game against the Bucks and his expected recovery time is estimated at four to six weeks.
The Hornets have been outscored by an astounding 35.8 points per 100 possessions without starter Kemba Walker, producing an offensive rating of just 61.4. That’s in just 23 minutes, but the problem dates back to last season, when Charlotte was outscored by 7.0 points per 100 possessions with a 100.7 offensive rating sans Walker.
Now, the Hornets have little choice but to turn to rookie Malik Monk. Monk is a scoring guard, but his 6-foot-3 size means he has at least worked on playing point guard. Is he ready to play the position full-time for a team eying the playoffs. Probably not, but he’ll just have to do his best to keep Charlotte afloat in the few minutes Walker rests.
The Suns fired Earl Watson just three games into the season – the second-earliest firing in NBA history.
They didn’t stop there.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Firing assistant coaches during the season has become Phoenix’s m.o. I’m just not sure what it accomplishes.
Were Watson, Nate Bjorkgren, Mehmet Okur and Jason Fraser all so bad at their jobs? If so, why did the Suns figure that out simultaneously?
Were the firings designed to shake up a losing team? If so, wouldn’t ousting Watson have been enough?
Will Phoenix replace those assistants? If not, will the team have the resources to properly train its players?
The Suns are filled with young players who need coaching, particularly skill development. This move looks like it will put them further behind.