Rajon Rondo's jump shot remains a work in progress

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Ah, August. It’s that magical time of the year when kids get back from camp and start to get ready to go back to school, the baseball pennant races begin to heat up, and there’s at least one article about the improvements Rajon Rondo has made to his jump shot. 
Rondo has emerged as one of the best all-around point guards in basketball, but his jumper remains a glaring weakness — Rondo essentially doesn’t have to be guarded beyond 15 feet, and shoots free throws like a center. 
Some of Rondo’s shooting woes stem from physiology — the same long arms and massive hands that Rondo uses to make his drives so effective have proved detrimental to his efforts to establish a reliable jumper. Some of Rondo’s problems are due to his deeply, deeply flawed shooting stroke, which does seem to get just a bit less ugly every year. Or maybe Rondo has just spent his time figuring out more ways to get to the basket and make quality passes rather than trying to develop a consistent perimeter game.
Whatever the reasons behind Rondo’s iffy jumper are, Doc Rivers would like to see Rondo make some improvements on his jumper during the off-season, especially after seeing Kobe Bryant sag off of Rondo with impunity and clog the paint during the 2010 NBA Finals. The Boston Herald’s Dan Duggan has the report:
“That hurts you in the playoffs when the best player on the other team is allowed to rest and clog up the middle,” Rivers said. “That’s what made their defense so strong, that their best roamer was Kobe. We have to correct that problem. That hurt us.”
Rivers is only looking for modest improvements from Rondo.
“We want him to shoot the right shots,” Rivers said. “The 3-point shot, I could care less. I could care less if he takes another 3 the rest of his career as far as I’m concerned. But we have to get him to make the elbow jump shot.”

Rivers would also like to see Rondo become a better free throw shooter, as he believes that Rondo stopped driving in the finals because he had no confidence in his ability to knock down free throws if he was fouled. Ultimately, Rivers knows that his team’s young star is putting in work on his jumper, but is trying to be realistic about what effects that work will have: 

Rondo will again work with shooting specialist Mark Price and Rivers is hoping for further development.
“Rondo puts in hours on it,” Rivers said. “That’s all he can do. But he’s going to correct it. It’s not going to be overnight. He’s going to be a little better next year and he’ll be a little better each year. I’ve never seen a guy go from bad to great. That just doesn’t happen.”

How Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza complicate Rockets’ pursuit of third star

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After pairing Chris Paul and James Harden, the Rockets are reportedly chasing a third starPaul George, Carmelo Anthony or someone else.

But Houston parted with significant assets to land Paul from the Clippers. And the Rockets will have a tricky time dealing two remaining players, Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Unloading Ryan Anderson to sign Paul outright would have helped Houston keep one of their outgoing guards, but the market for the three years and $60 million left on Anderson’s deal was frigid. Not even the Kings wanted him for free. At least two teams would have demanded two Houston first-round picks in exchange for absorbing Anderson, according to several league sources.

The salary filler probably can’t be Trevor Ariza, by the way. Ariza and Paul are close after years together in New Orleans, and playing with Ariza factored at least a little into Paul’s decision, per league sources. The Clippers had tried to trade for him in prior seasons, sources say. Ariza is also still good at a coveted position, and his Bird Rights will be valuable to a capped-out Rockets team next summer.

Anderson would be dangerous as a stretch four in pick-and-pops with Paul and Harden. Even if he’s overpaid, might be better to keep him than surrender more assets to dump him.

Likewise, Ariza is a nice two-way player and can play small-ball four. There’s a use for him on this team.

But beyond them, Houston is left with Eric Gordon and Clint Capela as movable players. Gordon, with a higher salary and less obvious fit with Paul and Harden, would almost certainly be a key cog in a trade for another star. Capela is younger and more valuable, though the Rockets would probably want to keep him as a defensive anchor.

That might not be possible while trading for a third star, though. Houston can’t even guarantee sending out another first-round pick in a trade after sending a protected first-rounder to the Clippers. (The Rockets could agree to convey a first-rounder two years after sending one to L.A., which would is highly likely to convey next year.) Including Capela in a trade might be the only way to assemble a suitable package.

Even then, Houston would be hard-pressed to surpass an offer from the Lakers or Celtics for George. Plus, if Indiana is rebuilding around Myles Turner, Capela is an awkward fit. That trade might require a third team – causing further complications.

Hoping Anthony gets bought out by the Knicks then signs for the mid-level exception is much simpler – though that route returns the lesser third star.

But Daryl Morey just brought Chris Paul to Houston before free agency even began. Now is not the time to underestimate the Rockets general manager.

Report: Knicks won’t consider Isiah Thomas to run front office

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A couple years ago, Knicks owner James Dolan said there was no scenario Isiah Thomas would return to the Knicks.

But Dolan also said a few months ago he’d keep Phil Jackson for the duration of Jackson’s five-year contract.

With Dolan effectively firing Jackson today, could Thomas become the Knicks’ next president?

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

The Post also learned Liberty president Isiah Thomas would not be considered for Jackson’s successor.

It’s sad that this needs to be reported. It’s even sadder that, even if this the Knicks’ plans right now, there are no assurances Dolan holds steady.

Dumping Jackson is a reason to celebrate. But as long as Dolan owns the team, it must be a reserved celebration.

At least the Knicks’ next step won’t include Thomas. Probably.

Raptors promote Bobby Webster to general manager

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TORONTO (AP) — With rumors swirling about the Knicks chasing Raptors president Masai Ujiri, the Raptors have promoted Bobby Webster to general manager.

Webster, 32 years old assistant the youngest GM in the NBA, replaces Jeff Weltman, who left Toronto in May to become president of the Orlando Magic.

A former staffer at the NBA league office in New York, Webster joined the Raptors in 2013 and was named assistant GM in 2016.

He’ll help decide what to offer All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, who opted out of the final year of his contract last month after Cleveland swept Toronto in the second round of the playoffs.

Forwards Serge Ibaka, P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson are all unrestricted free agents.

Also Wednesday, Toronto promoted Dan Tolzman to assistant general manager.

The Raptors have posted consecutive 50-win seasons and made four straight playoff appearances.

Jason Williams out 6-8 months after injury in Big3 debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Former NBA point guard Jason Williams will miss six to eight months after suffering a knee injury in the opening game of the Big3.

Corey Maggette, also injured in the opening week of Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 league of former NBA players, had surgery for a leg injury. There is no timetable for his return.

The injuries were announced Wednesday during a conference call with Cube and Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz, who also detailed a couple rules changes starting with this weekend’s game in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Games will be played to 50 points, instead of 60, with halftime coming when the first team reaches 25 points. Cube said that would help the four games per day move more quickly.