Tag: Darren Collison

Oklahoma City Thunder v San Antonio Spurs - Game Five

PBT Power Rankings: After summer shakeups, Spurs still team to beat


After a tumultuous summer where LeBron James went home to Cleveland and Carmelo Anthony stayed home with the Knicks, it’s time for another PBT Power Rankings. And after all that nothing has really changed — the top three spots in our power rankings were the top three at the end of last season. But things have shifted a lot in the East.

source:  1. Spurs (Last season 62-20). Defending NBA champs bring back everyone who matters… that might be the best off-season of all. Plus, Kawhi Leonard is just getting better and better every season.

source:  2. Thunder (59-23).. They struck out adding another key piece this summer, but they were the second best team in the NBA last season, and they still have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The more minutes Steven Adams steals from Kendrick Perkins the better.

source:  3. Clippers (57-25). This was the third best team in the NBA at the end of last season. If you just said “but they were eliminated in the second round” it was to the Thunder in a series where Donald Sterling was a major disruption and distraction. They added Spencer Hawes, which is a quality upgrade for their front line depth.

source:  4. Mavericks (49-33). The Mavericks had the third best offense in the NBA last season and just added Chandler Parsons working off the weak side and in transition to that. The concern was their 22nd-ranked defense but they just brought back Tyson Chandler to help on that end. If they can figure out a point guard rotation that works (between Raymond Felton, Jameer Nelson and Devin Harris) the Mavericks become a potential threat.

source:  5. Bulls (48-34). It comes down to this — if Derrick Rose is back to even 85-90 percent of his old self they have the pieces around him to be a contender, certainly a threat in the East. Pau Gasol ad Joakim Noah make the best passing front court in the league, with Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott all able to contribute up front.

source:  6. Cavaliers (33-49). They had the best off-season of any team in the NBA landing that LeBron guy. They are contenders in the East right now (but a bit young and untested come the playoffs). If Cleveland completes the Kevin Love trade they move up. Should they move Andrew Wiggins for Love? They should do whatever LeBron wants.

source:  7. Warriors (51-31). This team had arguably the best starting five in the NBA last season but depth was an issue. Adding Shaun Livingston helps a little. It’s all on Steve Kerr now. Even if management didn’t like Mark Jackson or his offense (with reason on the second part) the players would run through a wall for him. Will they for Kerr?

source:  8. Rockets (54-28). They struck out this offseason and more importantly hurt their depth (no Omer Asik, Chandler Parsons or Jeremy Lin). This is still a good team but James Harden is about to find out how important role players are.

source:  9. Trail Blazers (54-28). They are a good team and Damian Lillard is still improving, but will Chris Kaman and Steve Blake really help the bench? This team can go as far as their defense will take them.

source:  10. Grizzlies (50-32). They added some much needed three point shooting with Vince Carter, but mostly the Grizzlies are banking on continuity (see the new deal with Zach Randolph). That and Marc Gasol staying healthy — when he is this team is very dangerous.

source:  11. Suns (48-34). They need to work out the Eric Bledsoe contract situation, but the Suns will have one amazing backcourt with the addition of Isaiah Thomas. They are going to be fun to watch, how good a playoff team they are will be about how good a defensive team they become.

source:  12. Nuggets (36-46). I’m higher on Denver than most — they were ravaged by injury last season and get a healthy Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee back, combined with the quality addition of Aaron Afflalo at the two guard spot. This is a dangerous team. More like the 54-win team of a couple years ago… if Brian Shaw can get that out of them.

source:  13. Wizards (44-38). I think they will be the third best team in the East. They lose Trevor Aria but replace him with a Paul Pierce/Otto Porter combo, they keep Marcin Gortat. John Wall and Bradley Beal should both be improved this season. They just need Nene to stay healthy and if so watch out.

source:  14. Pacers (56-26). One of the hardest teams to figure out — was the second half of last season a fluke? They are going to miss Lance Stephenson’s shot creation. Indiana added C.J. Miles and Damjan Rudez to knock down open looks, but are they going to get any now? Frank Vogel has some work to do.

source:  15. Raptors (48-34). They re-signed Kyle Lowry and bring back almost everyone from a 48-win team. Can the growth of DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas, along with continuity, lift this team up to another top four finish in the East and maybe the second round at least?

source:  16. Hawks (38-44). Remember they were the third best team in the East last season before Al Horford tore his pectoral and he will be back this season. They didn’t land any big names this summer but bring back a solid team that will do fairly well in the East.

source:  17. Heat (54-28). They are not going to be as good without LeBron, obviously, but by running the offense more through Chris Bosh and bringing in Luol Deng they can play the same small-ball, space-and-pace system. But that system’s success was predicated on defense and that end of the floor looks to be an issue for Miami.

source:  18. Pelicans (34-48). This is a team I think can make a leap this season behind Anthony Davis, who will be a top five player in the league. I like Omer Asik next to him for defense and Ryan Anderson in the mix to space the floor. If they stay healthy this can be a playoff team in the East.

source:  19. Hornets (43-39).A playoff team last year they did it with defense, now they improved that and added some shot creation with Lance Stephenson — if his antics aren’t a distraction this could be a great pickup. This is a team that could make a jump up the ladder in the East this season.

source:  20. Timberwolves (40-42). It does’t feel like this team will have Kevin Love when training camp opens, but even if it does the level of distraction can’t be good for this team. This roster, if it could just stay healthy and execute better late in games, could be a playoff team… but only with Love. And he’s gone.

source:  21. Nets (44-38). A potentially dangerous team in the East, but coach Lionel Hollins has to get Brook Lopez to be a force at both ends, get Deron Williams to play more consistently, and get Joe Johnson in the post against smaller guards not just shooting jumpers. Plus Kevin Garnett has to return to close to his Boston form. Still a lot of interesting pieces here.

source:  22. Knicks (37-45). The kilt Carmelo Anthony and with Derek Fisher/Phil Jackson running the show there is a direction now. But they still have a lot of mediocre players, although Jose Calderon is an upgrade at the point. Still going to be a team that struggles defensively.

source:  23. Pistons (29-53). Stan Van Gundy is a good hire as coach and team president, but unless he figures out how to make Andre Drummond, Josh Smith and Greg Monroe coexist together it’s not going to matter. They added some shooting to the roster, which should help a little.

source:  24. Kings (28-54). Nobody knows that the plan is, but we do know that Darren Collison is not as good a point guard as Isaiah Thomas. Kings need DeMarcus Cousins to have a monster year.

source:  25. Jazz (25-57). Can Quin Snyder develop young talent? They have a lot in Utah with Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Trey Burke, Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, and the re-signed Gordon Hayward. Build that talent up and this becomes a much better team the second half of the season.

source:  26. Lakers (27-55). They can be a decent offensive team team with Kobe Bryant, Carlos Boozer, Nick Young and Julius Randle, but they are going to be a defensive disaster. If Jack in the Box only gives out free tacos when the Lakers win and hold the opposing team under 100 the chain can save a lot of money.

source:  27. Bucks (15-67, LW 30). Jabari Parker is going to get a lot of minutes and could make a Rookie of the Year push, and with John Henson make a nice front line. The big question is Larry Sanders, if he plays like the guy from two seasons ago again this could be a pretty good defensive team.

source:  28. Celtics (25-57). This is a young team… and Rajon Rondo. They have a number of first round picks that should get better in the coming years but this season is going to be dominated by trade rumors in Boston.

source:  29. Magic (23-59). A really young roster with some nice pieces… plus Channing Frye and Ben Gordon. Some nice young players on this roster that should get run and time to grow.

source:  30. 76ers (19-63). Nerlens Noel looks like he could be a player in a couple years, and Michael Carter Williams should take steps forward. But Joel Embiid can’t pitch in this season. This is a team that could be really good in a few years but this season is going to be a rough one in Philly.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘I felt very disrespected’ by Kings

Isaiah Thomas, Michael Malone

I’m not keen on typecasting players by position, but let’s say you insist on having a passing point guard. Would you rather have:

  • Player A: 32.2 assist percentage, 14.3 turnover percentage
  • Player B: 21.9 assist percentage, 14.3 turnover percentage

The Kings, reportedly set on getting a distributing point guard, signed Player B (Darren Collison) and discarded Player A (Isaiah Thomas).

Yeah, I don’t know either.

Thomas averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per game last season, but that still wasn’t good enough for Sacramento, which let its starting point guard join the Suns after signing Collison.

I’m sure Thomas felt wanted in Phoenix, but that’s not the only reason he wound up with the Suns.

Bob Young AZCentral Sports:

Yet, the Kings seemed to look for someone to replace Thomas at every opportunity.

“They were,” he said matter-of-factly. “I felt very disrespected. Every year it was somebody new. I felt I did a good enough job to show them I was a starting point guard or a guy who could play a big role with their team. But they thought differently.

I believe Sacramento will regret treating Thomas this way, and he’ll obviously use this as motivation.

Not that he needs anymore.

At just 5-foot-9, Thomas was drafted with the final pick of the 2011 NBA draft. He had to claw just to make the NBA after being selected, let alone stick in the league.

He’s had many doubters along the way – including, apparently, the team that gave him his first NBA opportunity.

Isaiah Thomas says he felt wanted in Phoenix, that’s why he signed there

Sacramento Kings v Golden State Warriors

Isaiah Thomas needed to feel wanted.

That’s why this week he returned to the area he was born and played his college ball, where he is still a beloved star — Washington — and while there swung by the Seattle Pro-Am and dropped 47. Because he can.

He never felt wanted in Sacramento — he was the 60th and final pick in the draft, he was too small (5’9″) and yet he has been the best point guard they have had for several years. They kept bringing in new guys, he kept beating them out, he kept hearing how management wasn’t high on him. True or not, that’s how it was perceived, especially when they signed Darren Collison and let Thomas go this summer to Phoenix at a reasonable price.

Thomas said at his introductory press conference in Phoenix Monday what sold him on Phoenix was they made him feel wanted. From Thomas’ press conference:

“I wanted to feel wanted. They brought me in and liked me for being me. They want me and I want to be here.”

That feeling has to be a good one for Thomas after how he felt he was treated the last few years.

Jeff Hornacek has talked about a dangerous three guard rotation of Thomas, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. To be fair, Thomas may be a bit of insurance in case the Suns don’t reach a deal with Bledsoe or can’t afford to keep Dragic when he opts-out next summer. Still, for a year this could work.

But for one year at least I want the Suns to keep that trio together — Phoenix could end up being not only good but one of the most entertaining teams in the NBA next season.

Report: Kings, Pistons resume Josh Smith trade talks

Josh Smith, Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore

Just before the draft, the Pistons and Kings discussed a trade that would send Josh Smith to  Sacramento.

Since, the Kings have drafted Nik Stauskas and signed Darren Collison, and the Pistons have yet to reach a deal with Greg Monroe.

Neither Sacramento tinkering with its guard rotation nor Detroit’s failure so far to retain a promising big man whose camp reportedly has a problem with Smith discourages a Smith-Kings trade.

So talks are back on.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Detroit Pistons and the Sacramento Kings have resumed trade discussions on a deal that could send Josh Smith to Sacramento, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

Sources told ESPN.com the Kings have continued to express interest in Smith and the parties are on the hunt for a third team that could help facilitate the deal.

Initial talks called for Sacramento to send Jason Thompson and either Derrick Williams or Jason Terry to the Pistons for Smith, but those discussions reached an impasse and were pushed into July along with the rest of both teams’ free-agent business, sources said.

I’m always leery of failed trade talks that involve a search for a third team. If anyone wanted Thompson or Terry, Sacramento would have traded those two by now. It’s extremely unlikely the Kings can dump their trash on another team when it can’t convince the Pistons to accept it.

I’m also reluctant to actually believe another team wants Smith, who has three years and $40.5 million remaining on his contract. He’d likely start for Sacramento, and he’d definitely upgrade the talent there. But that’s a lot of money to pay someone who will remove flexibility in coming seasons and might not even improve the team immediately. For all Smith’s talent, he might do more harm by jacking bad shots and limiting Rudy Gay’s minutes as a small-ball four, a place the former Raptors and Grizzlies player has proven effective with the Kings.

If the Pistons extract Williams, the No. 2 pick just three years ago who has yet to find any traction in the NBA, that’s phenomenal return for Smith. If they must settle for Thompson and Terry, that’s just the cost of doing business after signing Smith to that awful contract. Terry’s contract expires after this season, but Thompson’s has three years remaining and a trade kicker, though the final year is just partially guaranteed.

Detroit wants flexibility, and Sacramento wants talent. Until those conditions change, a Smith trade will continue to make at least some sense for both sides.

Rudy Gay says he wants to see how Kings develop, then will consider re-signing

Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets

How the Sacramento Kings have handled their off-season — especially letting Isaiah Thomas go to Phoenix at a reasonable salary and replacing him with the lesser Darren Collison — has confused people around the league. It’s hard to see the big picture vision.

Rudy Gay is going to stick around and see what that vision looks like, he opted into the final year of his contract and will make $19.3 million being the outside to DeMarcus Cousin’s inside for Sacramento. But that also makes him an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Whether he sticks around long term with the Kings will depend on what he sees going forward, he told the Sacramento Bee.

“I don’t want to create a big fuss like it was before, but I’m taking my time,” Gay said. “I’m open to doing things, but I really want to see where the organization is going…

“If I was going to opt out, I was definitely going to look at my options on different teams,” Gay said. “But with me opting in, I’m not saying no extension is going to happen. I’m just trying to see where we’re going as a team and how we plan on getting better.”

They are still trying to fit all the pieces together in Sacramento, to see how best the puzzle pieces they have can mesh and trying to add others (they drafted Nik Stauskas to give them shooting Ben McLemore has not yet, and the Kings have scoured the market for an affordable rim protecting four to play next to Cousins but came up empty so far).

Part of fitting it all together for Kings’ coach Mike Malone is using Gay in a variety of ways depending on the matchups.

“I think that’s the luxury you have in a guy like Rudy Gay,” Malone said. “Two, three four, he can play a lot of different positions. He can post up, he can play pick-and-roll, he can isolate and he’s a guy that has a high basketball IQ. He’s going into the season knowing he has to be a willing playmaker.”

Gay had by far his most efficient stretch of basketball ever with the Kings last season (20.1 points a game with a true shooting percentage of .567), turning heads of people around the league who viewed him as a volume shooter. The Kings need him to continue that trend, but the catch is if he does there will be far more suitors for his services next summer and the price to keep him (and difficulty of it) goes up.