Author: NBC Sports

DeAndre Jordan, Corey Maggette

Warriors looking to go big in free agent market

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While the return of the NBA has meant the return of fantasy trade scenarios, the Warriors are one team that appears locked in on free agency — at least for now.

The Warriors are looking to sign a big man during the abbreviated free agency period, sources tell Warriors Insider Matt Steinmetz of The names floated out there by Steinmetz are big ones, at least in the grand scheme of the 2011 free agency class: Nene, Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan and Marc Gasol.

The Warriors’ payroll currently sits at approximately $51 million, about $7 million under the $58 million salary cap. If the team uses its amnesty provision on Charlie Bell, who makes $4.1 million in 2011-12, then the Warriors could be looking at roughly $11 million in cap room.

Question is — is that enough to lure Nene or Chandler? Answer: It might be close.

There are a lot of other questions, including whether the Warriors could really afford Nene or Chandler, whether Nene would be a good fit alongside similiarly skilled David Lee, and whether the Grizzlies would match any offer for Gasol, a restricted free agent (they would).

The most realistic option, Steinmetz notes, might be Jordan. The 23-year-old averaged 7.1 points and 7.2 rebounds as a third-year player for the Clippers last season. Jordan, like Gasol, is a restricted free agent. He would almost certainly be a cheaper option than Nene, Chandler and Gasol, though he is also the least proven of the four. The Clippers want to keep him, but how much are they really willing to spend? This is Donald Sterling’s team, after all. Jordan would also give the Warriors a mini-monopoly on left-handed big men with Lee and Andris Biedrins.

Winderman: Without Wade in the lineup, Heat learn nothing from first game


Wade-James_anthem.jpgSo what did the Heat learn Tuesday night, as they unveiled their Big Three in their 105-89 exhibition victory over Detroit?

What they already knew.

And what Erik Spoelstra’s team knows can’t be the rule.

With Dwyane Wade sidelined by a strained right hamstring that could keep him out for two weeks, the Heat had a mere 3 minutes, 17 seconds with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Wade on the court.

Over that 3:17, the Heat had three turnovers, two baskets and trailed 5-4.

Granted, with actual energy at AmericanAirlines Arena (who knew?), early jitters could have been expected.

But when Wade left, James took control of the offense, even while playing alongside de facto point guards Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers, who rarely got to play as actual point guards.

That also is when Bosh settled in comfortably in the low post, without a shot to that point.

And that’s the rub. The preseason was when the Heat were going to find a way to make this work, especially the chemistry between James and Wade.

The highlight of camp had been the one-on-one between James and Wade during drills. It was worth the price of admission and those endless security waits at the Hurlburt Field Air Force installation.

But that’s not what this is about.

This is about Wade and James and something more than All-Star or Olympic-style play.

For the next four exhibitions, James will do for the Heat what he has done the previous seven years. And he’ll look as good doing it as he did Tuesday.

“I can’t defer,” he said of an approach that could be essential this season. “I’m never in defer mentality. I’m always in attack mode.”

And in the absence of Wade, as the clear-cut secondary option, and the focus of James’ passing, Bosh will load up on his numbers.

But it doesn’t matter.

None of it will matter. For the next two weeks, the Heat will be irrelevant.

Because everything they need to accomplish this season has to be accomplished with Wade working in concert with James.

Tuesday, it was as if LeBron was back in Cleveland.

And he is more than aware there has never been a happy ending there.

For those who had tired of the overkill, enjoy these next two weeks. Because the Heat won’t be the story. Without Wade, they can’t be the story.

 Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at

Richard Jefferson ready to bounce back after offseason "makeover"


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It’s no secret that Richard Jefferson was one of last season’s biggest disappointments. After being traded to the Spurs in the 2009 offseason, Jefferson had one of the worst seasons of his career, averaging only 12.3 points and 2.0 assists per game on 46.7% shooting from the field and 31.6% from beyond the arc. 
However, the Spurs showed faith in Jefferson this summer, giving him a four-year, $38.8 million deal after Jefferson opted out of the final year of his contract. And after an offseason filled with hard work, Jefferson is ready to prove to the Spurs that they didn’t make a mistake. 
Ken Rodriguez of has the story:
After nine seasons in the NBA, Richard Jefferson decided it was time for a makeover. His shot needed an adjustment, his footwork needed improvement, his low post game needed work. So he disappeared into the gym and emerged after the summer with a new look.

Spurs coaches are raving about that look and the effort required to get it. “Richard has an incredible basketball resume, but he came to the gym a week or two after we finished the season and it was Basketball 101,” assistant coach Chip Engelland said. “For him to embrace it is a testament to his professionalism. We’re real excited.”

Jefferson spent weeks on his game in San Antonio, New York and Las Vegas. He went to the gym for two-hour morning sessions, followed by two-hour afternoon sessions, and that doesn’t include personal conditioning. “Richard committed himself to improving his game this summer. In addition to logging many, many hours on the court, he devoted a significant amount of time working on his body,” assistant coach Chad Forcier said…
…”It’s very uncommon for a player to look at himself so introspectively and understand what is needed to get back to a championship level performance like he was at when he was in New Jersey,” Pop said. “He had lost some of that focus, some of that discipline. For him to decide to get that back shows respect for his teammates, respect for the game, the respect that he wants for himself.”

Like Popovich said, it is rare for a relatively old dog like Jefferson to be so willing to learn new tricks. Hopefully Jefferson’s re-dedication to the game isn’t just training-camp hype, because the Spurs are going to need a bounce-back year from him next season. 

Dude Perfect shatters longest shot record

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Here’s the latest from the Texas A&M-based trick shot group Dude Perfect, and boy is it impressive. Dude Perfect first gained mainstream attention for making a shot off the third deck of Kyle Field, which was, at the time, a record for the World’s Longest Basketball shot. 
That shot got the Dude Perfect crew on Sportcenter and got them some sponsored gigs, but their claim to the furthest shot record was challenged by another trick-shot crew, Legendary Shots, when the latter bunch made a shot from the top of the Vulcan monument in Birmingham, Alabama
Well, Dude Perfect has now erased any doubt about the longest shot record after making a shot from the top of the “cross tower,” which, according to, was 216 feet off the ground. (The basket was 150 feet away from the base of the tower.) By my count, the ball was in the air for about five seconds before going through the hoop. Impressive stuff.
One thing I might like to see is a bit more transparency from the Dude Perfect crew — the fact that the shot was made at night suggests they were out there for many hours before finally making the shot, and I might prefer seeing the work that goes into doing something like this more than being asked to buy the illusion that he hit this on the first try — it’s still really, really, really impressive. Keep up the great work, boredom warriors. 

Nazr Mohammed ready to start for the Bobcats

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Nazr Mohammed has always been something of a per-minute wonder: Even though his career averages are only 7 points and 5.4 rebounds in 18 minutes per game, Mohammed has only averaged less than 11 rebounds per 40 minutes once, and his per-40 scoring numbers are also impressive. 

But thanks to his up-and-down defense and historically so-so athleticism, Mohammed has generally been a role player/journeyman in the NBA. Now, after stints with the 76ers, Hawks, Knicks, Spurs, the Pistons, a rough first year in Charlotte, and a great 09-10 season that was only marred by injury, Mohammed is ready to step into the staring center spot that Tyson Chandler previously occupied:
The Hall of Fame coach wasn’t impressed [with Mohammad when he first arrived]. After being a part-time starter a year earlier, Mohammed appeared in only 39 games in 2008-09 and averaged 2.7 points and 2.0 rebounds.
Mohammed’s big contract made him difficult to trade, so he embarked on a rigid offseason conditioning program and came to training camp last year determined to win over Brown.
It didn’t work right way.
“When he got to play early I thought he was terrible,” Brown said.
Part of the problem is the 6-foot-10 Mohammed doesn’t do the things Brown likes from a center. He’s not extremely athletic, lacks a big wingspan and isn’t an intimidating shot-blocker.
“You know what his prototypical center is and I know I’m not his prototypical center,” Mohammed said. “But I know that you don’t play 13 years in this league without being able to do some good things out on the floor.”
That includes being a consistent scorer with a soft touch and an effective rebounder. He was also in great shape after his offseason workouts.
Mohammed slowly started to come on. In the same week in early February he had 23 points and 17 rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers and 21 points and 20 rebounds against Minnesota.
“Maybe he got in better shape. Maybe he got stronger. But before he got hurt he was playing better than at any time I’ve ever seen,” Brown said. “He tried to defend. He ran the floor and he earned the right to play.”

With Emeka Okafor and Tyson Chandler having been traded away in consecutive off-seasons, Mohammed will get a chance to hold down a full-time starting spot, something he’s only done twice in his long career. We’ll see if Mohammed can make the most of his opportunity.