Tag: Andy Rautins

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook celebrates with small forward Kevin Durant during their NBA basketball game against Chicago Bulls in Oklahoma City

NBA Season Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder


Last season: So freaking close.

The Thunder beat the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals in Oklahoma City by 11 points. A double-digit victory over he mighty triumverate. It was their fifth win in a row and they looked, as teams do when the win by double-digits, like the superior team in every way. Russell Westbrook couldn’t be stopped. Kevin Durant couldn’t be stopped. The Heat couldn’t keep up with their athleticism and offensive firepower.

They never won again that season.

The next three game were decided by 16 points total. The Heat won four straight, sending the Thunder home after another step forward but once again without the prize.

It was a season that showed considerable growth for the three stars, Durant, Westbrook, and Harden. Durant became an even more efficient scorer and a better defender, Westbrook increased his production and cut down on his mistakes, Harden grew into a playmaker. The team overall, though, was much te same as it was the year before. Great offensively, pretty good defensively, dominant most of the time and exciting to watch. Defense was the only question, and in the end, it was the only one that mattered, as the grind-it-out style of the Heat wore them down and eventually bested them.

The Thunder had to have walked away from 2012 neither convinced that they could or could not win the title.

Key Departures: Nazr Mohammed played 11 minutes per game last season. He’s gone, so there’s that. That’s pretty much it. And, you know, there’s no real concerns on the horizon. Oh, wait, James Harden.

Key Additions: Perry Jones III plummeted down the draft board, all the way to the Thunder. With no concerns about how he would affect team chemistry or the expecations that would be heaped on him, the Thunder leapt at him and snatched him up. Jones gives them a versatile stretch four who can likely play 3 in some big lineups and has the potential to be an absolute steal if thigs work out right.

They brought in Hasheem Thabeet to replace Mohammed, which is fine. He has to come in, not be horrible, contest or block shots, and rebound. He will do just enough of this to not stand out while clearly still being the weakest link on the team.

How about Daniel Orton? Can I interest you in Andy Rautins? Care for some DeAndre Liggins? No? No? Anybody?

Three One keys to the Thunder season:

1) KEEP CALM AND THUNDER UP: The Thunder don’t need to adapt or change or alter. They don’t need to play differently or mix it up or make things more complex. They just need to do what they did last year.

They just need to show up, run, score, and rock. They are very fittingly the AC/DC of the NBA.

They just need to play better and hope the Heat aren’t as good as they were last year. Bear in mind that in all these other previews I can give you in-depth reasons and tactical adjustments, lineup or chemistry tweaks, philosophical or pragmatic deviations necessary for improvement. I have none for the Thunder. They just need to play a little better. That’s all I’ve got.

What Thunder fans should fear: Chemistry is the thing. This team has accomplished remarkable things at a young age, all built on the strength of their bond with one another. Young players who came up together in a small market with few distrctions who liked each and liked playing with and for one another.

But business has come. Westbrook got his extension, but there are people, even those in Oklahoma City who think that eventually, he’s going to want the opportunity to show what he can be as the main act. James Harden’s contract is on the clock. If it gets done, the Thunder have to plan for their future. If it doesn’t, they have to figure out what to do with him.

This team has exemplified fun and youth for three years, and it’s been an incredible ride. But it’s extremely rare for a team like this to stay together as they get older and the money gets bigger. It’s like the circle of life, only with publicists.

How it likely works out: It’s going to come down to the Lakers or them for the West. There is zero doubt in anyone’s rational, objective mind about this. It’s just a matter of whether Perkins can contain Dwight enough, if Durant can lift his game to another level, if Westbrook can out-produce Nash since neither can defend the other.

There is no way to tell who’s going to come out of it. It’s going to be extremely fun, and there will be many who will want to just skip right to it.

Prediction: 63-19. They have no injury concerns. They have the league’s second best player and best offensive weapons. They have twolegitimate MVP candidates. Their shot-blocking defensive star has reliable mid-range jumper. They have depth, youth, experience, energy, athleticism, skill, and are very, very hungry. The Lakers may have arrived once more. The Thunder are already here.

Tuesday morning one liners (KG is taunting Raptors again)


Our morning look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT).

Kevin Garnett went all Kevin Garnett and taunted a Raptor during a meaningless preseason game. Does this even shock us anymore?

Jason Terry had to leave Mavericks practice early Monday and ended up at the hospital, but it appears not to be serious. He did not join the team for its exhibition game.

Toney Douglas and Carmelo Anthony are taking turns initiating the offense for the Knicks.

Chris Paul and Pau Gasol were not really chatty during a preseason game Monday.

The Nets say they are not near a deal with Andrei Kirilenko.

Derrick Favors had 25 points, 12 boards last night in a preseason game. No Paul Millsap there to take some of those from him, either. Enes Kanter had 10 boards but was 1-of-9 shooting.

George Karl says you don’t need a superstar to win an NBA title. He’s right, there are the 2004 Pistons. Of course, find another team in the last 30 years to fit that mold….

Jamal Crawford was running some point for the Blazers last night, and looked pretty solid doing it.

Paul Allen says he has no interest in selling the Trail Blazers.

Mike Brown likes being the coach of the Lakers (and he didn’t even get to date the boss’ daughter).

Channing Frye’s shot has been off so far through training camp, but he says he expects it to come back around soon. Probably not soon enough for Alvin Gentry’s comfort.

The Knicks are still talking to James Posey. They got Baron Davis to sign for the veterans minimum so they have their mini mid-level at $2.5 million.

The Spurs released three-point specialist Steve Novak, who was quickly snapped up by the Knicks. He fits as part of that offense.

Jannero Pargo is expected to sign with Atlanta, where he would back up Jeff Teague.

Sean Williams will be with the Mavericks this season.

Chuck Hayes is expected to be out for the season, but the Rockets are reportedly checking to see his status going forward already.

Former Knick Andy Rautins has signed with Lucentum Alicante in Spain.

Friday morning one liners (so long Brandon Roy)

Dallas Mavericks v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Four
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Our morning look around the NBA with stories worth reading and notes that are not their own post here at PBT.

If you read one thing today, make it the BlazersEdge look back at the career of Brandon Roy. This is spectacular stuff from Ben Golliver.

In case you missed it, PBT previewed all 30 NBA teams on Thursday. I expect you to read all of them. There will be a quiz.

Metta World Peace will be coming off the bench this season for the Lakers and Matt Barnes will be the starting three. Interesting. We’ll see how Ron-Ron (is that Metta-Metta now?) deals with that. But what really matters is who closes out games.

Chris Bosh drained a three in the Heat’s scrimmage last night. It’s something he’s been working on (after getting an up-close look at Dirk Nowitzki draining a bunch).

LeBron James is showing off his post game.

LeBron is also showing off the Heat’s new black alternate jersey. Embrace the dark side and together we shall rule the galaxy….

The Spurs are not going to amnesty Richard Jefferson after all. At least not this year. (When they said they were going to they Spurs thought they would get Caron Butler or Vince Carter or someone to fill Jefferson’s shoes. Didn’t work out that way.)

The Nets did use their amnesty on Travis Outlaw, as expected.

The Rockets desperately need a center (sorry Jordan Hill) and they are going hard after Samuel Dalembert.

Maurice Evans flirted with the Knicks and other teams, but has re-signed with the Wizards.

Bonzi Wells is getting a shot at an NBA comeback up in Timberwolves camp. To answer you next question, 2008 in New Orleans (the last time he stepped on an NBA court).

Andrea Bargnani says he is going to get more rebounds this year. I’m going to need to see proof of that before I begin to buy it.

Corey Maggettee missed practice in Charlotte with some lower back pain… yes, that was a little red flag you just saw go up. His back has long been an issue.

The Knicks are taking a look at Michael Redd and Troy Murphy. And maybe Eddie Murphy at this point.

The Pacers also are going after Redd.

David Thorpe — a player development specialist I really respect — loves the idea of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul together. Almost as much as Clipper Darrell.

The Nets signed Ime Udoka to a one-year deal.

No shock here, but Jerome Jordan is officially a Knick.

The Warriors picked up Dominic McGuire.

Five days after they got him in the Tyson Chandler deal, the Mavs waive Andy Rautins.

The Milwaukee Bucks have signed their second round pick and Wisconsin favorite Jon Leuer.

Chris Kaman talks about being traded.

The Nuggets continue to have the best team in China.

Weekend NBA rumors and deals (constantly updated)

NBA basketball spaulding

Just because you didn’t go to work today — you’re at home trying to hang Christmas lights, like that’s not work — doesn’t mean the wheels of NBA free agency and trades stopped. Not in the least.

This post is your one-stop shop for up-to-date, breaking info on what is happening around the league. (If you want a great wrap of what has happened up through Saturday morning, check out Matt’s post about how the league has gone nuts.)

8:47 pm: Eddie House recently had surgery on his left knee and will be out a couple weeks, possibly missing the start of the season for the Heat. With Battier and Miller and a versatile lineup, it will be interesting to see how much run House gets this season.

8:40 pm: The Boston Celtics have inked Jeff Green to a one-year deal worth $9 million. That is wildly overpaying for a nice player, which maybe is what they had to do to get him to take a one-year contract. There is a lot of potential in Green, he’s athletic, but in the end he is just average at everything — shooting, rebounding, defending, you name it. He’s not a bad player but the Celtics have given him a contract and will be giving him a role that is going to require him to grow a lot to fill. At least it’s just one year.

8:34 pm: Jason Richardson has agreed to a four-year deal to stay with the Orlando Magic, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo. He was maybe the top swingman out there, but Caron Butler is headed to the Clippers and Rip Hamilton likely is headed to the Bulls, so the two prime landing spots are gone. Orlando may be rebuilding but J-Rich gives them a solid player and fan favorite on the court.

6:30 pm: J.J. Barea is not going back to the Mavericks — after his playoffs he was rightly ticked about getting a one-year offer — and it looks like it is down to the Knicks and Timberwolves are leading for his services.

6:09 pm: Dwight Howard has told the Magic that he wants to be traded. There is no uncertainty now.

That trade may be to the Nets, which is what Howard wants, according to Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo. The Magic have said they will trade him where they can get the best deal going forward for the team.

4:23 pm: Jeremy Pargo — the brother of Jannero — has signed a two-year deal with the Memphis Grizzlies. Pargo has played the last couple years for European powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv.

4:04 pm: Mike Bibby has reached a one-year deal to join the New York Knicks, reports Sam Amick of SI. Knicks fans, if you think this is a good thing you have not watched Bibby play since 2005. You would rather have Toney Douglas on the court. Bibby is not going to solve any problems.

3:55 pm: Reports are that the Milwaukee Bucks will match the four-year offer Denver made to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. As they should have, this is less than $5 million a year for one of the elite perimeter defenders in the league.

3:50 pm: It’s official, Mike Dunleavy is a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. Two years, $7.5 million deal. That’s nice and all, but they had better keep Mbah a Moute, that matters a whole lot more. (and they are.)

3:18 p.m. Yahoo reports Spencer Hawes will sign a one-year deal with Philadelphia. Philadelphia is very big on bringing back the same team that lost in five games to Miami in the first round last year. No, we don’t know why either.

1:41 p.m.: The Nuggets have tendered a four-year, $19 million offer sheet to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Mbah a Moute is a restricted free agent, so Milwaukee has three-days to match the offer. You’d think they’d match, but Milwaukee’s done some weird things with their frontcourt in the past two years .

Brandan Wright is a Maverick. Good luck to all parties. 

Utah has reportedly made an offer for Josh Howard, which makes zero sense and a half.

1:26 p.m.: Aaron Gray has agreed to a deal with the Raptors, via Woj. The Raptors are going to be terrible, just a heads up.

12:05 pm: What are the Mavericks going to do with that massive $11 million trade exception from the Chandler to the Knicks deal? Rumor is try to get Samuel Dalembert in a sign-and-trade with the Kings, according to Marc Stein at ESPN. However, if the Kings renounced their rights to Dalembert (which Tom Ziller says they did) then this would only be able to be a four-year deal.

12:02 pm: Rasual Butler is about to sign with the Toronto Raptors, according to Yahoo.

12:00 pm: T.J. Ford is officially a member of the Spurs, backing up Tony Parker.

11:56 am: The Tyson Chandler to the Knicks deal is all-but done. There is a press conference where things get formalized later today. It’s a sign-and-trade that sends Andy Rautins and an $11 million trade exception back to the Mavericks (something they will use to try and land Dwight Howard or some other star).

This means Ronny Turiaf is officially a member of the Washington Wizards, where he can show Andray Blatche what hustling every night looks like.

11:26 am: The New Jersey Nets offered Nene a four year, $70 million deal, according to the New York Daily News (other sources say the offer is more like $64 million). That is a lot of money for a team that already has Brook Lopez at center, and a lot of money for a guy who has had a history of injuries. Make no mistake, Nene is the best big on the market right now, but that is overpaying. He is not Dwight.

11:13 am: The Hawks have signed Jerry Stackhouse to a deal. Feel pretty “meh” about that, but like it better than the Vladimir Radmanovic signing for them.

11:10 am: Brad Miller just had knee surgery and is slated to return to the Timberwolves the second half of January. He’s the guy with the old-man game who will spell Kevin Love and his old-man game.

11:00 am: A whole bunch of things happened while you were sleeping. Here is a quick rundown of the highlights:

• Dwight Howard’s agent Dan Fegan was given permission by the Magic to try and work a trade with either the Nets, Lakers or Mavericks.

• The Lakers, Hornets and Rockets are still trying to swing a three-team deal that gets Paul moved.

• Chicago is targeting Richard Hamilton — you call him Rip — after Detroit bought him out yesterday, reports our man Aggrey Sam with CSNChicago.com.

• Looks like the Celtics are going to land Delonte West.

• Grant Hill might have gone to the Knicks if they didn’t lowball him.

• Antonio McDyess is still trying to decide whether to retire or play another season. Didn’t he enter the league when George Mikan was still playing?

• The Spurs have not yet dropped the amnesty hammer on Richard Jefferson’s head.

• The Magic got Von Wafer as part of the Glen Davis/Brandon Bass trade. He was thrown in to soak up a trade exception. He got a three-year deal but only the first year is guaranteed.

• The Hawks have signed Vladimir Radmanovic. Yea, that is going to go well.

Knicks will sign Mike Bibby for the minimum salary, but keep their point guard options open

Mike Bibby

The New York Knicks have gone to great lengths to find a talented center counterpart for Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. They used the amnesty clause to waive veteran point guard Chauncey Billups, and blew $14 million in the process. They chipped in another $3 million just to ensure the passing of the three-team deal that brought Tyson Chandler to New York. They gave away Ronny Turiaf in order to clear out salary to make Chandler’s signing possible, and handed over Andy Rautins to the Mavs so that Dallas would be able to create a traded player exception as motivation for a sign-and-trade.

And that was all just so the Knicks could have the opportunity to invest gobs and gobs of money in a lucrative contract for Chandler.

Those millions of dollars may not mean much for a team like the Knicks, but losing Billups — the team’s best point guard option — does. So much so, in fact, that the team has agreed to bring Mike Bibby to New York on a one-year deal for the minimum salary, according to Sam Amick of SI.com. Bibby is a quality outside shooter, but he’s hardly the playmaker — nor defender — the Knicks would need in their point man. Any offense featuring Stoudemire and Anthony should score with relative ease, but a quality playmaker could make New York’s offense transcendent. Bibby certainly doesn’t qualify, even if his three-point stroke will help space the floor for the Knicks’ stars to operate.

Yet the more obvious concerns come on the defensive end, where Bibby may be the single worst perimeter defender in the NBA. The Miami Heat were able to account for that deficiency last season with the collective strength of their smothering defense, but a Knicks lineup featuring Anthony and Stoudemire will have enough problems on D as it is. Chandler’s a skilled catch-all defensive center, but even the most talented bigs in the league can only cover so much ground and hedge against so many individual defensive weaknesses at once. The Bibby turnstile could put this team past its breaking point defensively, and put a lot of additional pressure on Chandler to adapt to his new surroundings quickly.

That said, the Knicks aren’t quite done reworking their point guard rotation, even after adding Bibby. According to Chris Mannix of SI.com, New York is also exploring the possibility of adding unrestricted free agent J.J. Barea. That’s not exactly a perfect fit, either; Barea can’t quite match Bibby’s defensive ineptitude, but his height (Barea is rather generously listed as six feet tall) makes challenging any shot problematic. Barea works hard defensively, but everything is made more difficult by the size advantage he surrenders on a nightly basis.

Plus, Barea’s successful playoff run has conjured up a mirage of offensive sufficiency. It’s true that Barea can dart around the court and create angles of penetration out of nothing, but he’s terribly inconsistent in his role as a shot creator. Upon reaching the basket, opposing defenses sometimes swallow Barea whole, and cut off his clearest utility as a player. He’s certainly useful, but his strengths aren’t nearly as pronounced as his recurring role on national television in May and June would have you believe.

It’s encouraging that the Knicks are exploring some more creative options, as signing Bibby and calling it a day could have been an otherwise predictable course of action. That said, it’s curious that Toney Douglas, the Knicks’ incumbent backup point guard, isn’t getting more public consideration. Douglas is clearly limited as a playmaker, but that flaw is seemingly universal among the Knicks’ options. The pool here is relatively dry, and in Douglas, the Knicks at least have a competent outside shooter with proven defensive effectiveness. That’s more than we can say of Bibby, who politely cedes ground to any opponent he’s tasked with guarding, and it’s more than we can say of Barea, too, who draws charges at a respectable rate, but at best is merely passable on that end.

Considering all that the Knicks have surrendered in order to make their dreamy frontline a reality, the point guard position will have its problems. Initiating the offense will be an issue on occasion. A lack of ball movement could be problematic at times. But at this point, the rotation should be designed to mitigate weaknesses, not enhance strengths. Bibby and Barea each have something to offer New York, but significant minutes for either could nudge an already fragile defense toward its collapse.