Gilbert Arenas? No. It’s Andray Blatche that really matters to Washington

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The last time Gilbert Arenas really mattered on the court for the Washington Wizards was four years ago.

That hasn’t stopped him from being the preseason focus of the team, what with fake injuries, the not fake injuries and very important questions about his beard.

But Andray Blatche matters a lot more to this year’s Wizards and how they do than Arenas, as Kyle Weidie at Truth About It hammered home today, complete with quotes from Blatche and Flip Saunders.

“I don’t know what my role in his offense … I’m just doing … I don’t know, I’m just playing the game of basketball,” Blatche quickly quipped after the game when I asked him how he felt his role was coming along in the offense.

“Our bigs basically tried to play too much perimeter,” Saunders added to his analysis of the offense. “That’s something we have got to clean up.  We got to have a thrust inside.  They keep on popping out, popping out.  That just isn’t going to work.  We got to have more of a presence in the paint…

“Dray’s the low post scorer. As a four, he’s about as good a low post scorer as there is … you know, if you look at fours around the league,” said Saunders when asked about his team’s overall low post situation. “We just got to get his big butt down there more often more often, and not having to keep poppin’ out there all the time. Because that’s were he’s most effective, is down there on the block.”

Blatche has to be the guy scoring in the paint because Yi Jianlian can and should step out, while JaVale McGee and Hilton Armstrong will step out whether they should or not. Yet of his 17 shots against the Bucks eight were beyond 15 feet. He shot 25 percent beyond 15 feet, 66 percent inside 15 feet.

That said, Wall needs to get the ball to Blatche off cuts or as part of the pick-and-roll, not just lob it in to him in the post. Last season Blatche shot 46.7 percent when given the ball in the post, 38.9 percent when he got the ball in isolation. As the pick setter in the pick-and-roll that jumped to 52.1 percent.

Blatche is no longer option number one, as he was at the end of last season. Actually, he was option two and three at that point as well. Now John Wall gets to make the decisions and guys like Jianlian and Arenas are earning touches. Blatche seems unable or unwilling to adjust.

If he doesn’t, what Arenas does will not matter much because the Wizards will not go far.

Report: Knicks not interested in trading Kristaps Porzingis for Kyrie Irving

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With uncertainty around LeBron James‘ future in Cleveland — and good luck finding anyone around the league who thinks he is staying; LeBron’s options are open, but the sense is he has one foot out the door — the Cavaliers are prioritizing getting a young star to rebuild around back in any Kyrie Irving trade.

At the top of the Cavaliers’ wish list: Kristaps Porzingis.

Except the Knicks have no interest in this trade, reports Steven Marcus and Mike Rose of Newsday.

The Knicks don’t appear interested in trading Kristaps Porzingis, including a possible deal for Cavaliers All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, according to a league source…

“[Knicks president] Steve Mills and [Knicks general manager] Scott Perry on the record were very clear that Kristaps was part of the future,’’ the source said in reference to comments made last month by both executives. “In all the discussions since then — there were other rumors before that Cleveland would want Kristaps — and it didn’t seem that [the Knicks] were interested at all in a conversation.’’

Nor should the Knicks give him up — even if they could dump the anchor Joakim Noah contract in the process.

Irving is a sure thing, an elite scorer and All-Star who averaged 25.2 points and 5.8 assists a game last season and shot better than 40 percent from three. Irving, entering his seventh season, can do more to help a team win next season than Porzingis. He can get more buckets.

But Porzingis could be better — and will be better suited to build a contender around — in the future. Entering just his third season and with the triangle gone, and maybe the shadow of Carmelo Anthony, too, Porzingis should become the focal point of the Knicks next season, and we can see what he will do. KP scored 18.1 points and grabbed 7.2 rebounds a game last season, shot 35.7 percent from three, and while still learning he brings more defense than Irving. Porzingis is a 7’3″ “unicorn” — there isn’t another player like him — and for many years he could be the future of the Knicks. He has the work ethic, he’s shown flashes, they just need to give him a real chance.

Also, the Knicks need to work starting this fall to mend the relationship that Phil Jackson tried to poison.

Bottom line, Irving is good, but the Knicks could build a contender around Porzingis if they handle it right. Not sure they can do that around Irving, and he is older. No way you make that trade if you’re the Knicks. That’s obvious… which is one reason Jackson needed to go.

 

Watch the best ball fakes from the past NBA season

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While we grind through the slow part of the NBA offseason — when even Kyrie Irving trade rumors come with “when we get close to the start of training camp” qualifiers — we continue to get our hoops fix from the best highlights of last season.

Like the top 10 ball fakes, as compiled by NBA.com.

You knew Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving would be on the list, but nice appearance and moves by Ricky Rubio and D'Angelo Russell, too.

Kobe, LeBron, other NBA players react to President Trump’s stunning speech

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When President Donald Trump doubled-down on his support of the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who conducted a racist rally in Charlottesville, making a false moral equivalency with protestors of racism, it had television news anchors stunned, drew condemnation from both sides of the political aisle, and left most Americans queasy.

Count NBA players among those disgusted by the president’s comments.

That includes Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

(Note: As part of that press conference, Trump said he owns one of the largest wineries in the nation right near Charlottesville.)

On Monday and earlier Tuesday — before the president’s latest salvo of stupidity but after the “unite the right” rally to “protect” a statue of a man who fought to keep slavery in place, where violence the protesters courted broke out and left one woman, Heather Heyer, dead — the Bucks’ Jabari Parker took part in an anti-racism rally, and LeBron had said this about Charlotte and moving the country forward.

Chris Paul had this to say before the latest press conference.

Maybe the only good thing to come of all this, you can now own a T-shirt of vintage Team USA Vince Carter dunking over Trump.

Report: Grizzlies about to hire Tayshaun Prince for front office job

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Tayshaun Prince spent 14 years in the NBA as a long, defensive minded wing, one of the early “3&D” guys but one who, in his prime, could be more than that. He won a ring in Detroit in 2004 and was a four-time NBA All-Defense selection.

Now he’s stepping into the front office.

The Grizzlies, one of his former teams, is about to hire him, reports Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Retired forward Tayshaun Prince will soon be named special assistant to Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace, according to several NBA sources…

Prince is widely considered a big influence in NBA locker rooms and operated as a calming voice with Grizzlies players.

The Grizzlies believe Prince will bring a unique voice to front office decisions.

Prince came to the Grizzlies in the Rudy Gay trade and made a real impression there — and elsewhere — as a locker room leader and rational voice. He was in the NBA until last season.

This could and should be a good hire for a Grizzlies team transitioning out of the “grit n’ grind” era (albeit slowly, they could still bring Tony Allen back). The best GMs don’t go it alone but get information and perspectives from a lot of sources, and a high IQ former player would be a good one.