Tag: Drew Gooden

Washington Wizards v Cleveland Cavaliers

Martell Webster as stretch four? Wizards may try it next season.

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When the Washington Wizards tip-off next season, they will have Marcin Gortat at center and Nene at power forward.

But their moves this summer show that when one of those two sits (specifically Nene) the Wizards will embrace going small, as they did last playoffs when they blistered the Raptors in the first round. (Small-ball was less effective against the Hawks.) Washington let Kevin Seraphin walk to the Knicks this summer and replaced him with guys like Jared Dudley, a stretch four. (Paul Pierce left, but it was Otto Porter’s time.)

What about Martell Webster?

He may play some stretch four, too. But he is going to have to earn those minutes, notes J. Michael at CSNmidatlantic.com.

Webster played some (at the four) when he began his career with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Wizards have floated the  possibility of using him there when — if? — he can work his way back onto the court.

The challenge, of course, will be cracking the rotation that already has Drew Gooden, Jared Dudley and Alan Anderson expecting to log a majority of the time there behind Nene when the Wizards go to small-ball lineups.  Webster, who is 6-7, played in just 32 games last season which was his least since the 2008-09 season. It also was the first time since then that Webster didn’t log a start.

The challenge for Webster — and the Wizards as a whole — going small is on the defensive end. As Matt Moore pointed out in an interesting piece at CBSSports.com, the Wizards three-point shooting and offense was much better when they went small, but the Hawks defense neutralized that somewhat. Worse yet the small ball Wizards simply tried to outscore teams, their defense suffered. That can sometimes work, against certain lineups, but it is not a long-term solution. Look at it this way, the Warriors are champions because they can go small without sacrificing defensively (thanks to Draymond Green — that’s why he’s getting paid more than you, Tristan). That is hard to replicate.

Webster is going to have to stay healthy then actually knock down threes to see the court as a stretch four — you don’t help space the floor if nobody respects you from three.

But as the Wizards go small more often — at least we expect Randy Wittman to go small more — Webster will get a chance to prove he has a role with the team, and in a small-ball NBA.


Report: Wizards signing 7-footer Jaleel Roberts

North Carolina-Asheville v Duke

The NBA is experiencing a small-ball revolution, teams more committed than ever to forgoing height in favor of shooting, ball-handling and agility.

But size still creates opportunities for players.

That’s why someone who averaged 7.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game as a UNC-Asheville senior is getting an NBA contract.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

The Wizards already have 15 players, the regular-season roster limit, with guaranteed contracts. So, it’s unlikely Roberts lasts past the preseason.

Washington also doesn’t have its own D-League affiliate. So, the Wizards didn’t sign him to waive him and assign his D-League rights.

Most likely, they just want another big body for practice to limit the wear and tear on Marcin Gortat (31), Nene (32) and Drew Gooden (33). Washington needs to save its veterans for the regular season and playoffs.

But if the Wizards clear a guaranteed contract – maybe by trading Garrett Temple – and Roberts impresses, maybe he could stick. Washington typically likes to have an open roster spot, but because Roberts’ deal is unguaranteed, he wouldn’t limit flexibility.

LeBron James’ legacy does not ride solely on these Finals

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 24:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the second quarter against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 24, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

LeBron James’ legacy has become one of the “hot take” storylines of the NBA Finals, which finally tip off Thursday night. And how you spin it says as much about what you think of LeBron as it does his actual legacy.

When LeBron steps onto the court Thursday night, he will be playing in his fifth straight NBA Finals. Michael Jordan never did that. Nor did Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan, or Kobe Bryant. Nobody since Bill Russell and those 60s Celtics have pulled that off. It’s an impressive feat.

But getting to the Finals and winning are different things — and Jordan’s army of defenders (does he need defenders?) will be more than happy to point that out. MJ never lost in the Finals. Should the Warriors win these Finals (and they are the favorites), LeBron will be 2-4 on the NBA’s biggest stage.

Those, however, are just the simple answers, the easy ones for our “thumbs up or thumbs down” society.

The reality is LeBron’s legacy is more complex than that.

And ultimately LeBron’s legacy will not be defined by these Finals alone.

Rings do matter when discussing a superstar’s NBA legacy. Karl Malone and John Stockton had the misfortune of being at their peak in the Jordan era, and that lack of a title is part of how we see them now. Same with Charles Barkley. Or, on the other side, the ultimate legacies of players such as Kobe Bryant or Larry Bird are in part defined by their rings and winning.

LeBron’s legacy will in part be defined by how many rings he has — and if he can deliver one to title-starved Cleveland (this year or in future ones).

That said. LeBron has a couple rings already, he’s earned his championship stripes.

I personally never could stand the “look at the ringzzzzz” argument. It lacks nuance.

Consider at the teams LeBron has led to the Finals — they often have not been impressive squads. In 2007 he dragged a team not worthy of the Finals — the second and third leading scorers on the Cavs that season where Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden — to the game’s biggest stage. It was an amazing feat just to get a team that far. Do you want to ding LeBron’s legacy because he couldn’t lead that ragtag bunch past Duncan’s deep Spurs?

The same could be said of last season’s Heat team — was that team with a hobbled Dwyane Wade and no bench to speak of a serious threat to the best Spurs team we had seen in years? Is that loss really on LeBron alone? No.

The only time LeBron has made it to the Finals and didn’t win when it seemed like he could was 2011, when the Dallas Mavericks were on a roll and the Heat were just not ready yet.

LeBron very well may not win this time around. If he does he will have won the title three out of four years and brought one home a title to Cleveland— but if he doesn’t do it this year, he likely will in the next couple years. Very possibly more than one title. In five years we may look back with amazement he was able to get this banged-up roster of Cavaliers to the Finals in the first place and see it as the start of a run.

Which is why these Finals will not define LeBron’s legacy for all time. Whatever happens will be part of the conversation, as will his incredible physical gifts, his passing, his dunks and game winners. But it remains too early to define LeBron’s legacy. He’s still at the peak of his powers. We do not know now what we will think of him in 10 years.

But that doesn’t make for good copy, it doesn’t get clicks and viewers. So hot takes on LeBron’s legacy will remain the order of the day.




Free agent big man Kevin Seraphin wants to start somewhere

Washington Wizards v Charlotte Hornets

Kevin Seraphin finally got a chance to play key minutes for the Washington Wizards in Game 7 against Hawks — only because Marcin Gortat had food poisoning.

Which sums up where the fifth-year big man has been for a while. He’s been stuck behind the big-man duo of Marcin Gortat and Nene, plus the Wizards have plenty of size up front (Kris Humphries, Drew Gooden, DeJuan Blair). Seraphin, undersized for a center at 6’9″, and his back-to-the-basket game got 15 minutes a night. His game took small steps forward this season, but never really fit with the attacking John Wall/Ramon Sessions guard tandem.

What Seraphin wants to do is start — which would mean leaving the Wizards this summer. Here is what he told J.Michael of CSNWashington.com.

“I definitely want a chance to be a starter,” Seraphin, who matched his career high with 79 regular-season appearances but didn’t start a game for the 46-win Wizards, told CSNwashington.com. “I definitely want to be somewhere I have a chance to be a starter.”


“If I really want to learn — it’s easy to say, ‘Yeah, stay on the bench’ — but in basketball or any sport it’s best to be on the court,” said Seraphin, who averaged 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per game and came into camp at about 20 pounds lighter at 270. “The first John Wall I saw in my life, remember that was the game in Philly the first game, he wasn’t the same John as right now. It’s because he played all those years and everything. He learned. He became a better player. I remember the John who used to run, get charges all the time. Now he controls the game better. He became an All-Star because he had the talent, he had the opportunity and everything. That’s basically what I want. I want to play. I really want to play and have a chance to prove what I can do.”

He’s not going to be starting for Washington, Gortat signed a five-year, $60 million deal last summer. Gortat is entrenched.

There likely will be teams willing to pitch Seraphin more minutes and the chance to start, but he’s going to have to earn that spot. His skill set will attract teams, although many may be looking for a backup. He did better this season addressing weaknesses such as not fouling, and he’s passing better. But there are limits to his game — nearly 50 percent of his shots come within eight feet of the rim, and while he can step out a little along the baselines he’s not exactly a floor spacer.

The teams likely to give him an opportunity for the minutes and chance to start are ones that are not very good — certainly not as good as a Wizards team that made the second round. That doesn’t seem to be the big issue, what he wants is a chance, one he’s not going to get in Washington. Wherever he lands he’ll get more than the $3.9 million he made this season.

Hawks start hot, finish cold, Wizards take Game 1 on road 104-98.

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks - Game One

The Atlanta Hawks scored 37 points on 64 percent shooting in the first quarter.

The Atlanta Hawks scored 35 points on 25 percent shooting in the second half.

Spin that as an improved Wizards defense or the Hawks just missing good looks (reality is it was a mix of both), it doesn’t matter. The Wizards seemed to shake off the rust from their one-week layoff in the second half, slow the pace and change the game.  The Wiz hit the shots the Hawks defense gave them — John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 46 points and 14 assists — and Washington stormed back.

The Wizards picked up a 104-98 win on the road, taking a 1-0 lead over the No. 1 seed in the East. Game 2 is Tuesday night in the ATL.

This is the fourth straight series the Wizards have won Game 1 on the road, an NBA record.

“Last year, like I think I told you guys, we were just happy to be in the playoffs, we were happy to move on, and we didn’t really have any high goals after the first round,” Beal said postgame. “But this year we expect more of ourselves, we expect to get past the second round, we have that same same desperation we had in the previous round.”

“I think they made more plays in the second half than we did,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said, putting it mildly. “I think defensively we just had a couple lags, a couple of lulls, that allowed them to get back in it and get a little separation. Offensively I think we’ve got to be more aggressive, we’ve got to get to the paint, attack more, and continue to move the ball, but I think that’s got to start with us being more aggressive getting to the paint.”

Atlanta was aggressive early. The Hawks of January — the team that went undefeated for a month and showed spectacular ball movement — had been largely absent through the end of the season and into the first round of the playoffs, but they showed up for the start of Game 1.

Atlanta came out moving the ball and hitting shots, going on a 9-0 run at one point and a 17-6 run in another both in the first quarter. The Wizards couldn’t keep up and trailed 37-26 after one. Then in the second quarter Dennis Schroeder used his speed to carve up the Wizards defense at the start while DeMare Carroll was knocking down threes and had 21 points in the first half.

Hawks lead comfortably 63-53 at the half, racking up an offensive rating of 131 points per 100 possessions in the first 24.

But this game was a tale of two halfs.

Washington tightened up its defense and cut off that penetration but even when the Hawks got the ball inside they didn’t finish. Plus the Wizards contested the arc better. Some of it was just the Hawks missing shots. In the first half, the Hawks were 13-of-18 inside eight feet and 9-of-17 from three. In the second half, the Hawks were 7-of-19 inside eight feet and 4-of-21 from three.

“I think the majority of the second half (we settled too much for jump shots)” Budenholzer said. “The thing you always have to be careful with, I thought we had some good looks, but I think we’ll get better looks, more consistent scoring if we’re more aggressive driving it.”

The Wizards played through injuries beautifully. John Wall injured his wrist on a hard fall in the second quarter but never left the game. Bradley Beal rolled his ankle and had to go back to the locker room in the second but returned to the game — noticeably hobbled and slower, but he returned.

Paul Pierce was his usual self in the playoffs, putting up 19 points and hitting 5-of-8 shots when contested (according to the Sports VU cameras). The Wizards also got strong bench play. Postgame Wizards coach Randy Whittman singled out Drew Gooden (12 points) and Otto Porter (10) for their contributions.

The Hawks did not — their starting lineup was +10 in 18 minutes of action, but that means when bench players were on the floor the Hawks were -16. Budenholzer got away with it against the Nets, but he might need to tighten his rotation now.