Author: Matt Moore

Milwaukee Bucks' Carlos Delfino reacts after making a three point basket against the Boston Celtics during the first half of a NBA basketball game in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Report: Rockets sign Carlos Delfino to two-year deal


The Rockets successfully filled their “underrated Argentinian player who drives opposing fans insane and seems to score way more than he should be capable of” gap left vacant when they waived Luis Scola using the amnesty clause.

The Houston Chronicle reports the Rockets have signed Carlos Delfino to a two-year deal, with a team option on the second year.

Delfino shot 36% from the arc last year for Milwaukee, and shot what felt like 80% in the Olympics for Argentina this summer. He’s athletic enough to make some plays in transition, and understands how to space the floor. He gives the Rockets a weird wing counter-balance to all the combo-forwards they have and seems a little redundant with Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb.

Which could mean somebody’s getting moved.

But for now, it’s another nice roster completion move for the Rockets, but they have so many guys on roster, something’s got to give. Delfino should help space the floor for Jeremy Lin. Here’s a fun lineup. Jeremy Lin, Carlos Delfino, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Omer Asik. How weird. Is that.

The Rockets have 21 players on roster. So as always, we have no real idea what in God’s name the Rockets are doing.

Stephen Curry to begin working out in Bay area as next step in recovery begins

T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam

The Warriors are betting big on Stephen Curry. It was only a matter of time before they had to choose between Curry and Monta Ellis, they chose Curry. But they did so with the knowledge that Curry was still having ankle issues, which have plagued him his entire career. But he and Andrew Bogut make up the new core for the Warriors, so they’re very invested in him finally getting healthy. Which is why the next week will be big.

Curry had surgery late in the year (along with half the roster) and has been playing and working out the last few months. But he hasn’t done anything intensive or on back to back days. Most notably though, this week marks his first workout with the Warriors with “no restrictions.” From CSN Bay Area:

Curry will arrive in the Bay Area on Tuesday night and then work out for four consecutive days at the team’s downtown practice facility.

Warriors general manager Bob Myers indicated that Curry has been working out much of the summer but that this stretch will mark a stepping up of Curry’s rehab and basketball-related work.

“I don’t think he’ll have any restrictions,” said Myers, who was attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the Warriors’ technology center at College Track on Monday. “He’s being cautious because he has time to be. But as far as full-go, he’s there right now. He’s not going to push it unnecessarily, though. He’s going to be cautious. But as far as restrictions, they’ve all been lifted.”

via Next test for Curry’s ankle comes this week.

The key for Curry right now isn’t even to show a full recovery or quickness. It’s just to be able to go through the work. Endurance has to be the first big key for the Warriors.

Curry’s going to have more freedom than every this year with Ellis gone. He’s got shooters and finishers with Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson. He’s got bigs to run pick and roll with with David Lee and Andrew Bogut. He’ll likely have a slower pace team that wont’ have to put so much wear and tear on his body. But he still has to show he can do it. This is that first step.

Cross your fingers.

(HT: Hoopshype)

The Inbounds: Time for non-contenders to readjust their timelines

Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Dwight Howard

Welcome to The Inbounds, touching on a big idea of the day. It could be news, it could be history, it could be a tangent, it could be love. OK, it’s probably not love. Enjoy.

One thing that frustrates me about the NBA more than anything else is how small the list of title contenders is.  In the NFL, roughly 20 franchises begin the season with a legitimate shot at the title. In MLB, because of the way rosters, production, and individual games can shift, the group is just as wide. But in the NBA, it’s never more than really six teams, and that’s in a good year.

But now, with how things have shaken out over the past two years, the list is even smaller. Superstar teams were all the rage, now they’re the standard. If you had one great star and a good supporting cast, you could make the Finals. Now if you don’t have at least two, you’re not even in the conversation. As I wrote last week, the NBA’s arms race is out of control.

The best team in the NBA features one of the following: 1. the best player in the NBA, the second best shooting guard in the NBA and a top-ten power forward, 2. the best scorer in the NBA, two NBA All-Stars, and three members of the 2012 Olympic gold medal team (and a member of the 2012 Olympic silver medal team), or 3. Three future Hall-of-Famers, the second best shooting guard in NBA history, a former two-time MVP, the best center in the NBA, and a power forward who was the best big man in the league two years ago.

So yeah, the bar’s kind of high.

You can narrow the list of contenders in the NBA next season to essentially the Heat, the Thunder, and the Lakers. It’s possible a team comes out like the Mavericks  and surprises, but early on in the 2011 season, it was clear they would be on the list. Celtics fans would demand a spot on that list, but in reality, given the age of their most important pieces and the relative ability of their supporting cast. Pacers fans are wisely too self-aware to include themselves on that list. You can throw the Spurs on the list if you want, I don’t, because I’ve been bludgeoned to death by the factual accuracy of the “defense wins championships” cliche. Clippers? No. Grizzlies? No way. Nuggets? Nope. The Bulls? Derrick Rose is too much of a question mark to qualify.

The Knicks and Nets pass the starpower smell test, but they don’t stack up with the top teams in their conference. Making the Eastern Conference Finals is possible for either one, but winning the title is an entirely different level. And that kind of shows where we’re at. You can make the Conference Finals, be one of the last four teams, and not be a title contender.

So think about that. Twenty-seven franchises, if accurately assessing their chances, enter the season with no realistic hope at a title. There are certainly possibilities of exceptions. Injuries, major leaps, magical matchup issues. It’s true that “anything can happen in sports,” it just doesn’t, you know, seem to a lot of the time in the NBA. And every bit of starpower accumulation makes the road that much tougher.

But in truth, this is a good thing for the league. Interest is always highest when there are a few select elite teams, as there were in the 80’s. And Miami vs. the Lakers is the dream that David Stern drifts through in a candy cane and marshmallow haze each night. There have been complaints in the past about the lack of truly great teams in the league. That’s no longer an issue.

But what about everyone else? The star power’s gone. It’s taken. You’re not getting Dwight Howard, you’re not getting Steve Nash, you’re not getting Andrew Bynum (most likely). You’re almost certainly not getting Chris Paul. You’re not getting Deron Williams. At least not for a few years, in either case. So these teams, like Denver, Philadelphia, Dallas, Indiana, even Minnesota and Memphis, have to reassess their priorities. In reality, maybe it’s a good thing that this stratification has occurred.

Before, if you weren’t in contention for a title, you were a failure. And there will still be that talk from traditional columnists and certainly from the team’s management to the public. No one wants to hear “We’re aiming for fifth best.” But title contention isn’t just a huge challenge anymore. It’s a near-impossibility. Denver has built a playoff team featuring an All-Star with great players at every position, and it’s not close to a title. So there has to be a re-evaluation of the timelines. The goal should not be to “win now.” No one is winning now, except for those three teams at the top. If you want to aim to be that team that defies the odds, dares to dream, and captures the glory, go ahead. But it’s going to be expensive, and it’s going to cost you long-term.

Instead, teams need to focus on 2015. Yes, that’s right. 2015. By then, the luxury tax will have started to take its toll. Dwyane Wade will be getting into his middle-30’s, LeBron James will be 30, and the Lakers will have either disbanded or had to reconfigure (probably by getting Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, a  clone of Michael Jordan and Megatron, since that’s apparently what they’re capable of doing whenever they want to; oh, and they’ll only trade Darius Morris for it). The Thunder will have had to make the tough choices about their rosters, and if they haven’t won a title by then, frustration will set in. I’m not kidding, you honestly need to target three years from now as your first opportunity to win the title.

So that means getting the younger players as much as you can, trying to squeeze out any possible stars, getting lottery picks for 2014 and 2015, and above all, managing expectations. I’m not advocating the Nuggets or Sixers blow it up. We’ve seen the rebuilding model as too unstable. It’s a good approach, as we see with the Hornets (who are going to be in a great position in 2015, by the way, if they play their cards right), but it can also be disastrous (say hi, Bobcats fans!). The Nuggets can win now, make the playoffs, hope for that miraculous season to come around, while also legitimately plotting their way to 2015. But let me put it this way. If you’re Memphis, and you consider the reason that you’re paying all this money, the largest payroll in franchise history by my bet,  for a title contender? It’s time to think about moving some parts. You need to put a price tag on “Conference Finalist” and aim for that. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Being a great team that doesn’t win a title happens all the time. Charles Barkley was on about six of them. But this starpower migration has created a situation that is untenable for teams who are not elite.

Fans need to understand this, too. It’s not that your team is failing you or mismanaged, necessarily, if they’re a playoff team that isn’t a title contender. It’s just not possible. We’re legitimately out of difference-makers. There will always be good players you can get. Paul Millsap is going to test free agency. DeMarcus Cousins is never going to be in a stable position until he matures, if that occurs (and he’s well worth the price). So there will be chances. But the bar has been raised to a level that most teams, and let’s be honest, most markets, can’t compete with. If your team isn’t a bottom-dweller, you might want to be happy, and if they’re clearly planning for the future, even better. It’s a time for patience, something players, ownes, and fans rarely express.

But this is the world we live in. If you’re not Voltron, it’s better to just patrol your planet than try and defend the galaxy.

The robots have just gotten too big.