Los Angeles Lakers v New York Knicks

Steve Blake tweaking his shot before next season


Steve Blake never seemed comfortable in the Lakers triangle offense last season.

Coming from more traditional point guard systems, he never seemed to be able to find his spaces in the offense. He saw his assist rate fall way off career averages (the point guard is more a catch-and-shoot guy in Phil Jackson’s triangle) while his turnover percentage went up from those career numbers.

It also showed on his three point shooting — he shot 37.8 percent, which is not bad but well below the 39.5 percent he hit two seasons ago. The two seasons before that he knocked down better than 40 percent of his threes. It wasn’t just there, on long twos (more than 16 feet out) he shot 35 percent last season, down from 46 percent with the Clippers the season before.

This summer Blake is reworked his shot a little, he told the Los Angeles Times.

“I’m trying to get more arch on my shot,” Blake said Thursday in a phone interview. “That’s what I’ve been working on this summer. I’m trying to shoot the ball a little higher and see if that will improve my jump shot. I didn’t shoot the ball horribly this year, but I didn’t shoot it as well as I wanted to.”

With Mike Brown, the Lakers point guard will play a more traditional role. That suits Blake in the half court where he has had success in that role before, although when asked to push the tempo with the Clippers a couple seasons ago — something the PG will be asked to do more with the Lakers next season — he was a turnover machine.

Blake is optimistic about the change.

“This year it’ll be a more traditional point guard role,” Blake said. “This past year, we had a two-guard front where a lot of times I wouldn’t even bring the ball up. Now it’s more of a typical point guard role I’ll probably be able to excel in more. I’ll be more comfortable in being able to just react and not have to think as much. You’re always thinking. But the triangle is different. You have to learn it a lot more. This will be easier for me to acclimate to this new offense. I think I’ll be more successful that way.”

Blake is going to get his chance, but the Lakers need to bring in someone younger and better suited to the position at both ends of the floor if they are to remain title contenders. Right now Derek Fisher and Blake are the PGs on the roster, and that will mean trouble for the Lakers (especially on defense). But Blake will get a chance to prove he’s better than he looked last year.

Report: Rockets will try to sign Alessandro Gentile next summer

Alessandro Gentile, Paulius Jankunas
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The Rockets tried signing Sergio Llull this summer, but he opted for a long-term extension with Real Madrid.

So, they’ll just turn to another player in their large chest of stashed draft picks – Alessandro Gentile.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Gentile, who was selected No. 53 in the 2014, is a 22-year-old wing for Armani Milano. He’s a good scorer, but he primarily works from mid-range – an area the Rockets eschew. He can get to the rim in Europe, but his subpar athleticism might hinder him in the NBA.

If Gentile comes stateside, he’ll face a steep learning curve. But he’s young enough and talented enough that he could develop into a rotation player.

Report: Hawks co-owner made more money by exposing Danny Ferry’s Luol Deng comments

Michael Gearon, Bruce Levenson
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A terribly kept secret: Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. wanted to get rid of general manager Danny Ferry.

Many believe that’s why Gearon made such a big deal about Ferry’s pejorative “African” comment about Luol Deng – that Gearon was more concerned about ousting Ferry than showing real concern over racism.

Gearon had another, no less sinister, reason to raise concern over Ferry’s remarks.

Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

While Gearon felt that Ferry, as he wrote in the June 2014 email to Levenson, “put the entire franchise in jeopardy,” Gearon also figured to benefit financially from a Sterling-esque fallout.

In the spring of 2014, Gearon was in the process of selling more of his interest in the team to Levenson and the partners he had sold to in September. The agreed-upon price for roughly a third of Gearon’s remaining shares valued the Hawks at approximately $450 million, according to reports from sources.

“We accept your offer to buy the remaining 31 million,” Gearon wrote in an email to Levenson on April 17, 2014. “Let me know next steps so we can keep this simple as you suggested without a bunch of lawyers and bankers.”

Approximately five weeks later — just a little more than a week before the fateful conference call — Steve Ballmer agreed to pay $2 billion for the Clippers, a record-smashing price that completely changed the assessed value of NBA franchises. Gearon firmly maintains he was acting out of the sincerity of his convictions to safeguard the franchise from the Sterling stench, but such a spectacle also allowed him to wiggle out of selling his shares at far below market value.

Gearon and his legal team later challenged the notion that the sell-down was bound by any sort of contractual obligation and that any papers were signed. Once the organization became involved in the investigation, the sale of the shares was postponed.

Arnovitz and Windhorst did an incredible amount of reporting here. I suggest you read the full piece, which includes much more background on the Gearon-Ferry rift.

Considering the Hawks sold for $850 million, Gearon definitely made more money than if he’d sold his shares at a $450 million valuation.

Did that motivate him? Probably, though it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Most likely, his actions were derived from at least three desires – making more money, ousting Ferry and combating racism. Parsing how much each contributed is much more difficult.

What Ferry said was racist, whether or not he was looking at more racism on the sheet of paper in front of him. His comments deserved punishment.

But if Gearon didn’t have incentive to use them for his own benefit, would we even know about them? How many other teams, with more functional front offices, would have kept similar remarks under wraps or just ignored them?