Did Orlando do enough to keep Dwight Howard in town?

1 Comment

In the summer of 2012, Dwight Howard can be a free agent. (He has a player option for 2013.)

Orlando General Manager Otis Smith watched what happened in Cleveland last summer with keen interest — the superstar player in a smallish market who didn’t win the title he craved and bolted town because of it. Smith knows that a big man named Shaquille O’Neal did that exact same thing to Orlando a little more than a decade ago.

Smith heard Howard tell him over the summer he wanted Chris Paul or Carlos Boozer as a teammate because they needed to get in the arms race, according to Ken Berger at CBSSports. Those deals did not come together.

Then Smith watched the Magic stumble out of the gates… well, for them. The Magic are 16-10 but were clearly a step behind the Celtics and Heat (and basically even with a Bulls team that can’t stay healthy so far). Then Smith looked west and saw the struggles of the Denver front office, having to move Carmelo Anthony before the deadline so that they don’t end up like Cleveland.

Smith knew he had no choice — swing for the fences and win now. Make a big, bold trade. So he did. Hedo Turkoglu comes back. Gilbert Arenas gets a second chance. Jason Richardson comes to town. There’s some wild cards, some risks, but no doubt this is a bold move.

Will it be enough?

Only time will tell — but credit Smith for going big. Rather than waiting and hoping, rather than making smaller moves, he swung for the fences. It could fail and with it Smith could have endangered his job. That didn’t deter him, he went for it all.

It could lead to other problems — Jameer Nelson could be a free agent in the summer of 2012 too and may not like having Arenas around. But Smith is close to Arenas, plus he had no real choice.

Now we’ll watch and see if Smith connected and hit a home run. Enough of a hit to keep Howard in Orlando.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
2 Comments

Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

Leave a comment

The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

Leave a comment

Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

Leave a comment

In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.