Remember the Michael Beasley at Kansas State? He killed people from the post. He was an amazing finisher at the rim, with either hand. He could face up and blow by anyone. He worked hard off the ball. He was so fluid. He had 13 30 point, 10 rebound games. He looked like a man among boys at Kansas State.
When he got with the men in the NBA, he looked different. Small, and bothered by the long arms and challenged shots at the next level. He was chased out of the post, last season taking more shots from 16 feet on out than he did at the rim (and not hitting them, he shot 39 percent on long twos and 27.5 percent from three). Then there was spending last summer in league-imposed substance-abuse treatment. He has not been terrible, but he has been pretty average on the court. Which is not what is expected out of the number two pick overall.
How far has he fallen? He was offered to the New Jersey Nets for Keyon Dooling, and the Nets said no. That came up on ESPN’s daily NBA podcast Wednesday.
Our own Ira Winderman said in the South Florida Sun Sentinel the reason is it is all about the money.
While Keyon is due $3.6 million next season, his contract can be bought out for $500,000 by June 29. So, in essence, the Heat can launder Beasley’s contract through a Dooling trade, release Dooling, and then benefit by the extra cap space. I would not be surprised if the Heat made such an offer. That said, I made a bunch of calls after ESPN mentioned the possibility on one of its podcasts and came to the realization that the Nets simply have no interest in Beasley and would rather maximize their own cap space. I requested comment from the Heat and got the expected no comment. Still, it would not surprise me at all if the Heat, at this stage, was willing to deal Michael for mere cap space. The greater question is whether there is anyone out there willing to take on Michael and his off-court baggage, especially another space team.
This fall is just a little reminder of how precarious any draft pick, even ones that seem the sure thing, can be.
Just a suggestion for rookie Dejounte Murray: Don’t do this in front of Gregg Popovich. You may not like his reaction.
That said, the Spurs needed to get more athletic this off-season — landing Pau Gasol certainly didn’t help that cause — so enter first-round pick Murray, who pulled this off in a recent pickup game.
Murray is going to be brought along slowly in a backcourt where Tony Parker and Patty Mills will be splitting time at the point. Murray is more of a combo guard and is going to have to shoot a lot better than he did in college (28.8 percent from three) to get some run. But this is a situation where the Spurs can groom him, bring him along slowly, and see if they have another draft steal.
He’s certainly got the athleticism.
James Harden‘s defense is not as bad as its reputation.
Well, at least it wasn’t two seasons ago — his near MVP season he was in good enough shape that he could put in a respectable effort on that end and still handle his massive offensive load. There were still some mental lapses, but his focus was better and his improvement lifted the team defense. Last season, he regressed back to youtube “highlight” defense Harden — his conditioning was not where it needed to be, he didn’t expend as much effort on that end, and it showed.
Harden got a massive contract extension this summer, and Dwight Howard is Atlanta’s problem — now Harden has to lead the Rockets. By example. Corey Brewer told ESPN you’re going to see that on defense.
“I think this year he’s going to play better defense, We’re going to let the past be in the past. It’s the future of the Rockets, man. James is going to play defense this year.”
We’re all Missourians on this one: Show me.
Remember that the Rockets will be out and running — Mike D’Antoni is the coach now, and Daryl Morey is going to get the up tempo ball he wants (which Kevin McHale had them doing, but Harden didn’t like him so…). D’Antoni’s teams in Phoenix played better defense than their reputation — points per possession they were middle of the pack — but that has never been his focus.
Will Harden be able to run like he needs to on offense and still defend at a reasonable level?
If he can, it’s a big step toward the Rockets being a dangerous team in the West because if he does it others will follow. Otherwise, every Rockets game will be a shootout, which is entertaining but not going to get a team deep into the playoffs.
I can see the questions on Twitter/in the comments already so let me save you some time.
Because it’s summer.
Because it’s Drake (he’s a celebrity and an NBA hanger-on with some quasi-official position with the Raptors).
Because Stephen Curry did it, too.
Because what other hoops are you watching on a late August afternoon?
And besides, you clicked on it. You know you want to see it.
So here it is, Drake, hitting a halfcourt shot while doing a sit up. Enjoy.
Mario Chalmers was thriving with the Grizzlies after a midseason trade from the Heat when a torn Achilles ended his season.
Not the way Chalmers wanted to enter free agency.
Still unsigned, he says he’s progressing.
Can he go 100%, though? If not, when?
A few teams could use another point guard. If Chalmers shows his health, he belongs in someone’s rotation. But that might require taking a low-paying deal and working his way up from the third point guard spot – or even just onto the regular-season roster.