Peter Vecsey and ESPN Chicago report that the Bulls are “on the verge” of signing veteran C Nazr Mohammed. The big ramification of this is it signals the Bulls do not intend to match the three-year, $25 million offer sheet from the Houston Rockets for big man Omer Asik, clearing the way for Asik to join Houston.
The move for Chicago provides them with a talented veteran in Mohammed who has championship experience with the Spurs and in Tom Thibodeau’s system, should be able to provide good minutes, even if he’s as step-down from Asik. Mohammed played limited minutes for the Oklahoma City Thunder, eventually having his roster spot jumped by youngster Cole Aldrich, but still gives good effort. He has the kind of floor awareness to do what he needs to in Thibodeau’s system to succeed. It’s a regression from Asik, but not such a massive one that it will cripple the Bulls’ bench. And, of course, it saves Jerry Reinsdorf some dough, which is always the objective in moves like this.
Houston will land a seven-footer with almost no offensive abilities for $25 million over three years. Asik has to be an absolutely dominant center for this move to work out as a win. While the Rockets will still have the ability to use the stretch exception should Asik crash and burn in his third year, they’ll still be on the hook for $15 million spread out over over three years, with a lower cap hit. (Unless there is an obscure CBA provision about this, which there could be. The thing is more arcane than the Necronomicon.)
It’s a huge gamble, but if he can be the defensive presence they need him to be, it could be a gamechanger for the Rockets’ defense which has struggled over the years. And if they land Dwight Howard, they could put out one of the biggest lineups in the league if they were to play them together. Big gambles in Houston.
Just a suggestion for rookie Dejounte Murray: Don’t do this in front of Gregg Popovich. You may not like his reaction.
That said, the Spurs needed to get more athletic this off-season — landing Pau Gasol certainly didn’t help that cause — so enter first-round pick Murray, who pulled this off in a recent pickup game.
Murray is going to be brought along slowly in a backcourt where Tony Parker and Patty Mills will be splitting time at the point. Murray is more of a combo guard and is going to have to shoot a lot better than he did in college (28.8 percent from three) to get some run. But this is a situation where the Spurs can groom him, bring him along slowly, and see if they have another draft steal.
He’s certainly got the athleticism.
James Harden‘s defense is not as bad as its reputation.
Well, at least it wasn’t two seasons ago — his near MVP season he was in good enough shape that he could put in a respectable effort on that end and still handle his massive offensive load. There were still some mental lapses, but his focus was better and his improvement lifted the team defense. Last season, he regressed back to youtube “highlight” defense Harden — his conditioning was not where it needed to be, he didn’t expend as much effort on that end, and it showed.
Harden got a massive contract extension this summer, and Dwight Howard is Atlanta’s problem — now Harden has to lead the Rockets. By example. Corey Brewer told ESPN you’re going to see that on defense.
“I think this year he’s going to play better defense, We’re going to let the past be in the past. It’s the future of the Rockets, man. James is going to play defense this year.”
We’re all Missourians on this one: Show me.
Remember that the Rockets will be out and running — Mike D’Antoni is the coach now, and Daryl Morey is going to get the up tempo ball he wants (which Kevin McHale had them doing, but Harden didn’t like him so…). D’Antoni’s teams in Phoenix played better defense than their reputation — points per possession they were middle of the pack — but that has never been his focus.
Will Harden be able to run like he needs to on offense and still defend at a reasonable level?
If he can, it’s a big step toward the Rockets being a dangerous team in the West because if he does it others will follow. Otherwise, every Rockets game will be a shootout, which is entertaining but not going to get a team deep into the playoffs.
I can see the questions on Twitter/in the comments already so let me save you some time.
Because it’s summer.
Because it’s Drake (he’s a celebrity and an NBA hanger-on with some quasi-official position with the Raptors).
Because Stephen Curry did it, too.
Because what other hoops are you watching on a late August afternoon?
And besides, you clicked on it. You know you want to see it.
So here it is, Drake, hitting a halfcourt shot while doing a sit up. Enjoy.
Mario Chalmers was thriving with the Grizzlies after a midseason trade from the Heat when a torn Achilles ended his season.
Not the way Chalmers wanted to enter free agency.
Still unsigned, he says he’s progressing.
Can he go 100%, though? If not, when?
A few teams could use another point guard. If Chalmers shows his health, he belongs in someone’s rotation. But that might require taking a low-paying deal and working his way up from the third point guard spot – or even just onto the regular-season roster.