If this were any year in the last five, what David West is doing would be a no brainer.
But this year, heading into a lockout followed by a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, he is taking a risk.
David West has told the New Orleans Hornets he is opting out of the final year of his $7.5 million contract and will test the free agent market, Marc Stein reports at ESPN. While he is saying all the right things about winning, this is about the money. It’s always about the money.
The question is, how much money will be out there in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement? He will get a multi-year deal now, at how much money is the gamble. While teams are interested, how much cap room teams have — especially good teams — remains to be seen. Teams mentioned as potentially making a run at him are New Jersey, Indiana, maybe Milwaukee. You can bet the Hornets will try to re-sign him as part of the “we have to keep Chris Paul happy” campaign. Others will jump in as well, but it really depends on what they can offer.
West missed the last half of last season due to a torn ACL, although he says he will be back healthy by the start of next season. Even if it takes longer than that, a lot of teams would be willing to take the risk because he is one of the better scoring power forwards in the game.
He averaged 18.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game last season, and he is one of the better pick-and-pop options in the league, hitting a very good 47 percent of his shots from 16 feet out to the arc. As the roll man in a pick and roll, he hit 52 percent of his shots and scored an impressive 1.05 points per possession (according to Synergy Sports), but of course the guy with the ball was Chris Paul, which helps. He also is effective as a spot up shooter and in the post.
But the question isn’t “can West play?” because we all know he can. The question is can and will teams offer more than $7.5 million for him?
Devin Harris is the kind of veteran, versatile player Dallas coach Rick Carlisle likes in his backcourt — he can run the point or be a small two-guard off the ball. Carlise wants multiple ball handlers on the court and Harris allows him to do that with a number of different combinations.
Or rather, Harris will allow Carlisle to do that once he gets healthy. From Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com.
Harris had surgery on the big toe on his other foot, this injury is to the “good” one. Harris can be a bit injury prone and the Mavs likely will bring him along slowly.
This likely means more J.J. Barea and Seth Curry in the short term in Dallas.
Late in the blowout loss to the Cavaliers Tuesday, it was clear the Knicks were making a point of trying to run more triangle sets — it’s an offense a lot of their players are still just starting to learn and the game turned into a glorified practice.
On the night as a whole, Derrick Rose was his old self on his way to 17 points on 17 shots: 41.2 percent of his attempts came after seven or more dribbles and after he held the ball for at least six seconds. He took six shots as the pick-and-roll ball handler and hit two of them. (Carmelo Anthony shot 2-of-7 as the pick-and-roll ball handler.)
Should the Knicks put him in more pick-and-roll situations where he’s comfortable? Here are some postgame quotes, via Ian Begley of ESPN.
“Towards the end, when you saw us running it, it was just us trying to get used to it so it’s not that foreign,” Rose said. “We got a lot of room to make up on that side of the ball too.”
“He had that good explosion,” Hornacek said of Rose, who scored 17 points (7-for-17 shooting) in 29 minutes. “He’s just got to figure out all of the stuff that we’re doing, and he’ll be a big part of our team and really help us.”
“We want guys to feel comfortable with kind of who they are,” Anthony said. “We don’t want to try to change anybody’s game. If Derrick feels comfortable being up there in high pick-and-roll, that’s his game. You can’t take him away from that. You want to utilize guys’ strengths. That’s who he is, that’s who he’s always been. We want to rely on that. We don’t want to take that away from him.”
The triangle offense takes time to learn, and Rose has been honest that it’s going to take time. Which is the norm. When Phil Jackson took over the Shaq/Kobe Lakers in 2000 and led them to a championship the triangle got credit, but that Lakers’ offense had an almost identical points per possession as the season before (what won them the title was a vastly improved defense). It was in future years that the offense started to click with the players, after they had run it for a season or two.
The Knicks want to make the playoffs now, which may mean some triangle sacrifices. New York certainly played faster for much of the game against the Cavaliers, which should get them some easy buckets. They should let Rose run some pick-and-rolls where he’s comfortable, particularly drag screens early in the clock. Mostly, the Knicks need to keep the ball moving and the players moving, not let it stagnate into defendable isolation basketball (even if Anthony and Rose can make some plays that way). And in the halfcourt, run the triangle — but keep the ball moving.
One game against the defending champs is not going to define the Knicks season, but they also see where the bar is set. They have some work to do this season.
LeBron James is an Akron guy born and raised, who is caught up in Indians fever like the rest of Northeast Ohio.
Dwyane Wade is Chicago born and raised, a Cubs fan who wants to see the team end its 108-year drought.
So the two have made a World Series bet — loser has to show up at the winner’s arena in the World Series champ’s gear.
After Game 1 — on the night he was collecting his latest ring — LeBron has to feel pretty good.
Either way, the payoff should be good.
Evan Turner‘s Portland debut was a rough one: 1-of-7 shooting for three points, and while he did have five assists mostly he looked like a guy still trying to figure out how to play with his new teammates.
Oh, and he got dunked on by Rodney Hood.
That was not on Turner, he was on his man and just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even if he instantly morphed into 1977 Bill Walton he’s still getting dunked on there. Hood had a strong night with 26 points for the Jazz.
Portland got the home-opening win behind 39 points from Damian Lillard.