Kevin Martin says he's back, if so the Rockets may be as well

Leave a comment

Thumbnail image for martin_rocket.jpgAs preseason predictions start to creep out, the Houston Rockets are becoming a popular dark horse pick in the West. The Lakers are the Lakers, but if anyone has a shot at knocking them off, it may well be Houston if Yao Ming can stay healthy.

In part that prediction is based on Kevin Martin becoming an elite sharpshooter that feeds of Yao inside and the slashing of point guard Aaron Brooks. If things go according to plan, Martin should have to create fewer of his own shots and have a lot of open looks.

And he’s ready to knock them down, he told the Houston Chronicle.

“I’ll be back to my pre-wrist-injury form. I’m feeling better, more like I was before the injury. That was the main goal, to get back there. My goal when I got traded was to fit in with a great group of guys, not try to be that person that came in here thinking he was going to take every shot. That fitting-in phase is definitely over. Now I’m ready to get back to being myself.

“Nobody has seen the real me yet. I’m ready to take off.”

Martin has spent the summer in the gym with friend-of-this-blog David Thorpe, the head honcho at the Pro Training Center in Florida. He said Martin is ready.

“He worked hard, but the biggest thing is he is totally healthy and back to being a really, really athletic player,” Thorpe said. “He looked like a 21-year-old the way he was running and jumping and sprinting. The results were phenomenal. He never shot like this. He never had a better summer shooting the ball than this summer. I’m more hopeful than I ever have been before about him shooting the 3.

Martin also had one of the better lines of the summer. The rumors persist that if Denver gets serious about moving Carmelo Anthony, the Rockets will be in and Martin will be part of the trade bait.

Martin is willing to bargain with GM Daryl Morey.

“If Houston wants Carmelo that bad,” Martin said, “on Halloween, if I’m still here, I’ll dress up as Carmelo.”

League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
Leave a comment

Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.

However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.

Over at the Los Angeles Times Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner got a number of sources to wince about Kobe for a story — except nobody wanted their name attached to attacking a legend of the game.

“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”

“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”

One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”

Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.

But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
Leave a comment

The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
Leave a comment

Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.