Kurt Helin

150531_Davis

Pelicans will play faster, lean on Anthony Davis more under Alvin Gentry

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It was one of the most perplexing things about the Pelicans the last couple seasons. When the game would get tight late, one of their guards would walk the ball up the court (allowing the defense to fully get set), then usually pound the ball into the ground with his dribble before trying to create a shot for himself in the final seconds of the clock.

The Pelicans played slow (27th in the league in pace) and went away from Anthony Davis in the fourth quarters of games.

No more.

New head coach Alvin Gentry will change that.

Gentry was the best offensive mind available on the coaching market. The past two seasons he was the lead assistant for Doc Rivers with the Clippers then for Steve Kerr with the Warriors — the two best offenses in the NBA. Gentry had a heavy hand in both.

Gentry’s philosophy is to keep attacking and keep the defense on its heels — which means playing far more up tempo. The Pelicans should have been doing that already. Davis is their best player and runs the floor like a gazelle, the young big will beat his man down the court almost every time and either score or create matchup nightmares to be exploited.

Gentry told Pelicans’ GM Dell Demps and the rest of the New Orleans front office they simply were not using Davis enough, something reported by Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com.

Gentry believes the Pelicans have underutilized Davis’ offensive skills. Not only did he express this during his initial interview with (head of basketball operations Micky) Loomis and Demps, but Gentry also came into that session equipped with charts and graphs to illustrate his point.

By underutilize, he doesn’t just mean more touches, he also means better ones. Davis was too often the safety net for the offense, with his chance coming late in the clock after the guards exhausted options for themselves. Then in the fourth quarter the Pelicans would just stop feeding him the ball at all.

Change that dynamic and combine it with a point guard like Jrue Holiday and a sharpshooter like Ryan Anderson running to the arc and there is great potential. (It should be noted here both of those guys were injured much of last season, just having them back healthy improves this roster.)

My guess is we will see a lot more of Davis as the center, with Anderson at the four, and less of Davis paired with Omer Asik (who will come off the bench). Davis and Holiday can run a devastating pick-and-roll, especially if the floor is spread with shooters. Also, expect Davis to get the ball at the elbow and the offense to run through him more.

The offense is tantalizing, but it is the defensive end where Gentry needs to make the biggest impact. The Pelicans were bottom 10 in defensive rating last season.

He’s not known as a defensive coach, but the last two teams where he was an assistant — Golden State and the L.A. Clippers — were very good on that end. The Pelicans have the personnel to be better, but it will be interesting to see what schemes Gentry puts in place. Don’t be surprised if his lead assistant is a defensive specialist.

For the next couple weeks, Gentry can “relax” and not worry about the challenges of the Pelicans, all he needs to deal with is LeBron James. Gentry will stay with the Warriors through the NBA Finals before jumping on a plane to the land of gumbo.

Gentry was a good hire by the Pelicans, a guy who has both knows the league and is learning new things from elite franchises. Did you really want to see how Tom Thibodeau would grind down Anthony Davis after a few seasons? Gentry landed the best job that will open up this summer in the NBA — with Davis this team has incredible potential for growth.

Now he just has to get them to play faster and get the ball to Davis in the fourth quarter.

 

In letter to fans about future plans, Nets conspicuously leave out Deron Williams, Joe Johnson

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets - Game Six
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Joe Johnson is set to make $24.9 million next season. He led the Brooklyn Nets in scoring last season, averaging 14.4 points per game, then upped that to 16.5 points per game in the playoffs.

Deron Williams is set to make $21 million next season (and $22.3 million the season after that). The Nets’ point guard, he averaged 13 points and 6.6 assists per game.

They are owners of two of the worst contracts in the NBA, deals that are anchors on the rebuilding of the Brooklyn Nets. These were guys sold as part of a “big three” a couple years ago but now are not part of the future — in fact they are two guys the Nets would love to trade this summer. They will be shopped. Hard.

So maybe it shouldn’t be a shock that when the Nets sent a letter to season ticket holders this week, Williams and Johnson didn’t get mentioned, reports the New York Post.

(GM Billy) King and (CEO Brett) Yormark stated the Nets have plans to re-sign Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young “to keep our core leadership together.” They stated they wanted to “build on our emerging young core,” mentioning Mason Plumlee, Bojan Bogdanovic, Markel Brown and Sergey Karasev. They mentioned their two draft picks — Nos. 29 and 41 — and a desire in “purchasing’’ another pick.

But King and Yormark made no mention of Williams and Johnson — omissions that can be taken as an ominous sign for the duo. It’s unclear if either Williams or Johnson has requested a trade.

Whether they’ve requested one or not, the implication the duo will not be back is clear. And that’s the right move. Blame injuries or whatever you wish, the Nets have not gotten the Williams they thought they traded for. Johnson had a contract everyone around the league knew would be bad in those final couple years.

However, finding a trade partner is not going to be that simple.

Johnson will be the easier to move — and it’s not going to be that easy. He’s in the final year of his contract, and while expiring deals mean less under the current CBA than the previous one, a team that takes him on wouldn’t be stuck with him. Plus Johnson can still produce, still knock down shots, and has done so in big moments. Still, there are not a lot of teams with the cap space to take him on, fewer still would send anything back to Brooklyn of real quality. Rather, most will want to dump their own bad deals. One team to watch is Charlotte, with Lance Stephenson coming home to Brooklyn (that deal was discussed last trade deadline). If I were a team contacted, I would be asking for a young player or picks to sweeten this deal, Johnson alone is not enough.

Williams will be even harder to move because he is owed money for two more seasons, plus he has a lengthy injury history, his game is in decline, and he’s on the wrong side of 30. Never say never, but the Nets don’t have the young assets are willing to part with to get another team to take on Williams.

But expect the rumors about those two to be flying this summer.

Former NBA All-Star Chris Gatling arrested in alleged credit card scam

chris gatling
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Chris Gatling, who had an 11-year NBA career that included one All-Star Game, has been arrested for allegedly running a huge online credit card scam out of Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Associated Press has the details of the charges and how the scam worked.

Gatling, 47, met a Scottsdale fitness studio owner on a dating website earlier this year, according to police. He told the victim that he operated several Internet businesses that created websites and fixed credit. He persuaded her to charge credit card numbers for him through her business, authorities said. Gatlin allegedly told her she could have 10 percent of the dollar amounts charged, but he would get 90 percent. He also convinced her to give him his share upfront in cash, investigators said.

The charges were later deemed unauthorized and charged back to the victim. She lost $90,000 and was forced to close her fitness studio.

Police detectives said their investigation led to the discovery that Gatling was juggling multiple online businesses that were used to gather credit card numbers. The numbers were then run through other businesses for services that the cardholders never authorized, police said. The entire operation was based in a call center in Phoenix. But police said they have heard from alleged victims from around the U.S.

Gatling was already on probation from a theft case three years ago.

Gatling’s NBA career spanned 11 seasons where he bounced around, playing for  Golden State, Miami, Dallas, New Jersey, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Denver and Cleveland. The 6’10” power forward was reasonably efficient, scoring 10.3 points per game on 51 percent shooting for his career, plus pitching in 5.3 rebounds per game.

 

One-handed, no-look, over-the-head halfcourt shot? No problem for Stephen Curry.

Stephen Curry
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Stephen Curry makes half court no-look shot nonchalantly after practice

A video posted by Marc J. Spears (@marcjspears) on

I know Stephen Curry was shooting uncontested looks well in the last round, but this is is ridiculous.

Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports recorded this shot at the end of a Warriors’ practice. The Cavaliers would probably let Curry take that shot during the Finals, but maybe that’s a mistake.

 

PBT Extra with NBASavant.com: Number shows Matthew Dellavedova’s defensive value

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four
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Everybody was talking about Matthew Dellavedova during the Eastern Conference Finals. In Atlanta it was often with an adjective we will not run on this family-friendly site, after his run-ins with Kyle Korver (who had ankle surgery because of it) and Al Horford (who was thrown out of a game).

But he was on the court for David Blatt for a reason — and I don’t mean Kyrie Irving’s knee. Dellavedova brings value on the defensive end, something we help point out in this PBT Extra, with a little help. PBT has partnered with the fantastic NBASavant.com to break down the Sports VU Camera data and look more closely at the advanced stats of the NBA playoffs and what decided a series.

Dellavedova is going to have to bring that same energy to the NBA Finals for the Cavaliers to have a chance against the loaded backcourt of Golden State.