Kurt Helin

Chris Andersen

Chris “Birdman” Andersen on trade rumors: “It doesn’t bother me one bit”

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Heat owner Micky Arison is potentially staring at the repeater tax — just tack an extra dollar on every dollar already taxed. For example, with the lowest tax rate (less than $5 million over the tax line of $84.7 million) the bill jumps from $1.50 per dollar to $2.50. To paraphrase Ron Burgundy, this escalates quickly.

The Heat are currently at $90.3 million in guaranteed salary, they just need to trim $5 million or so to get below the line. If you’re a contender well over the line (think Cleveland) you just bite the bullet as an owner, but if you’re just over the line why pay the extra?

Enter the Chris Andersen rumors — the Birdman makes $5 million a year. Throw in the emergence of Hassan Whiteside plus the return of Josh McRoberts, and the Heat could solve a lot of problems by moving Andersen. He has been linked to the Clippers for Jamal Crawford and other teams in deals that would lessen the Heat’s payroll (the Clippers trade is highly unlikely).

Do these rumors bother him?

The better question is, does anything bother him? Andersen sounded like a veteran who has been down the road before speaking to Ira Winderman at the Sun Sentinel.

“It’s a business, man,” Andersen, 37, said. “It doesn’t bother me one bit.”

Miami is going to do something to cut payroll and moving Andersen may be that thing. It likely doesn’t happen until camps open, teams get a look at their rosters, and one of them realizes they need to pay for a backup center. That’s when Pat Riley calls.

But whatever happens, it’s not going to bother Andersen. He’s good.

Cam Newton adds LeBron James tribute to his touchdown celebration

Cam Newton
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Cam Newton’s going to score some touchdowns this season for the Carolina Panthers (he had five last season). And when he did he’s always pulled that Superman celebration out, pretending to rip off his suit to expose the “S”.

Now he’s added the LeBron James high knee-hand pump to the celebration as a tribute to LBJ. And LeBron noticed.

Hat tip Mr. Football Lang Whitaker at NBA.com’s Hangtime Blog.

LaMarcus Aldridge says he’s not trying to fill Tim Duncan’s shoes

San Antonio Spurs v Portland Trail Blazers
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There is not going to be another Tim Duncan. Ever. That high-IQ, fundamentally sound game with sustained success throughout his career, the five rings, the two MVPs, the three Finals MVPs, the lifting of one small market franchise up to the summit of the game and keeping it there for 15 years, it’s an incredible legacy.

Nobody understands there is not going to be another Duncan like LaMarcus Aldridge.

Aldridge had his pick of NBA landing spots chose the Spurs, but he wants people to know that stepping into Duncan’s shoes was not in his plans — in part because Duncan is still in those shoes. He talked with Sam Amick of the USA Today about whether he was worried about Duncan’s shadow.

“No, because I’m not trying to be Tim Duncan. I’m not trying to fill his shoes. No one is going to fill his shoes. First of all, he started there and he ended there. I’m not doing that. I didn’t start there. There’s no pressure, because I didn’t start there and I’m not trying to be him. My game is totally different than his.

“I never had any issues with it. I think the media blew it up more, like I’m trying to fill his spot and take his role. I was like, ‘No, I’m trying to be me.’ I feel like me being there with Pop in the system with the guys, I should be ok. That was what I was weighing: Go to Phoenix, be the face and the guy, or go to San Antonio and probably win sooner and be more blended in. That was my issue. And I was like, ‘If y’all want me to come here and average 12 or 13 points, that’s not who I am. I like scoring.’ They were like, ‘No, we want you to play in the system, but you scoring is needed here.’ Once I heard that, I was fine.”

It will be interesting to see how Aldridge’s need for touches and points plays out in the more team-first culture Duncan and Gregg Popovich have built. They do need his scoring, but it’s also about the threat of Aldridge’s scoring that opens up shots for everyone. He has to buy into that team concept for it all to work (and I expect he will).

With that, Aldridge’s scoring may take a slight dip — he will command double teams in the post (and at the elbow, and a lot of other places) and when he passes out of that the Spurs will whip the ball to an open shooter. He’s not just getting a re-post.

What Aldridge brings is an upgrade of Tiago Splitter, a player who can protect the paint and play good defense, and then on the other end scores inside and opens everything up. Aldridge can also pick-and-pop with Tony Parker (and Manu Ginobili). He can knock down midrange fadeaways. There are a lot of options.

And they all work because Aldridge is Aldridge and not Duncan.

 

Hornets make $52 million bet on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with four-year contract extension

Charlotte Hornets v Chicago Bulls
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If all you know of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is his broken jumper, you have not been watching closely enough. First off, Mike Price helped improve that jumper, and he shot 50 percent last season between 10 and 16 feet (that’s not to say the jumper is good, just not painful-to-watch wretched anymore). More than that, MKG brings relentless energy, fantastic defense, and his offense is improving leading to him scoring 10.9 points a game last season. There have been real strides of development, signs of leadership, and he is still just 21 years old.

With all that potential, and in this financial market, the Charlotte Hornets made a good bet on him.

The two sides reached terms on four-year, $52 million contract extension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The agreement will be finalized this week with a news conference to follow, league sources said…. Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, has developed into a cornerstone player for the Hornets at small forward. With the extension, the Hornets and Kidd-Gilchrist will avoid him becoming a restricted free agent next summer.

He is a cornerstone of what they are building— the Hornets were 6-20 when he was out last season injured because they cannot replace what he brings. If you can get a key starter in this market for $13 million a year, that is a good deal in the current NBA economy. Let alone one who is young and on the rise.

Kidd-Gilchrist is the best Hornet defender, drawing the toughest perimeter assignment nightly. Now with him and just-signed Nicolas Batum, Charlotte should be an improved defensive team for Steve Clifford.

But more than that, it’s the constant motor that makes him both fun to watch and a key to Charlotte’s success — when a guy working that hard is on the court, everyone else steps up around him.

This is a bet by the Hornets on MKG’s offense, which is still a liability because of his jumper. That said, with his improved jumper he was more confident last season, more aggressive and attacking (he drew fouls at a good clip). If he keeps taking strides on that end of the court, the Hornets become far more dangerous.

Consider this is a fair deal for both sides. MKG gets some security and a healthy pay raise (starting in 2017, he has one more season on his rookie deal). The Hornets lock up a guy who can be a cornerstone part of what they are building.

 

Blake Griffin says depth will make Clippers better, especially come playoffs

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Two
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Doc Rivers the GM tied the hands of Doc Rivers the coach last season — their lack of depth caught up with the Clippers. Players emptied their tanks into beating the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, then got up 3-1 on the Rockets with a big lead in the second half of Game 5 — then just ran out of gas. Houston played better and played desperate, but the Clippers had energy left to match them.

This summer Doc the GM did well. The Clippers added Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith, Pablo Prigioni, Cole Aldrich and others who can take some pressure off a Clipper starting five that played 972 minutes more than any other Clippers lineup last season.

Blake Griffin, for one, is pumped that he will get to sit more. He told Rowan Cavner of the Clippers’ official site why it matters.

“It’ll help a lot,” Griffin said. “My third season in the league when we had that unbelievable bench, I think I dropped to like 32 minutes a game in the regular season…You definitely feel fresher toward the end, but you have to find that right balance of not holding back too much, being able to give everything. Having an elite bench is going to help us tremendously, especially come playoff time.”

Last season Griffin averaged 35.2 minutes a game to lead the Clippers, while (because they didn’t miss much time due to injuries) Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan were both in the top seven in the league in total minutes played. In his third season, Griffin did play “just” 32.5 minutes a night, the lowest in his career.

As Griffin notes, for the Clippers it is all about being right come the playoffs.

Doc Rivers is not afraid to rest players, and now he can do it and still win, still get a high seed. Do that and the Clippers are serious title contenders.

The challenge is there are at least four other teams in the West alone that can make that claim.