Tag: Earl Watson

Rudy Gay, Pete D'Alessandro, Michael Malone

Tuesday And-1 Links: Rudy Gay, Kings not really talking next contract right now

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Here is our regular 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) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

• Rudy Gay said there is no real progress on him talking next contract with the Sacramento Kings. I expect he goes to free agency, but they have until July 1 to figure out an extension if both sides are open to it. That said, Gay is getting a pay cut (he will make $19.3 million this season).

• Damian Lillard admitted he was getting gassed in games by the end of the playoffs last year, so he upped his diet and conditioning this offseason.

One cigar at a time was not enough for Michael Jordan as he watched the Ryder Cup.

• Josh Smith promises this year he’s going to play more in the post and around the basket, saying he’s going to stop shooting threes. I’ll believe it when I see it.

• The Suns’ Isaiah Thomas is playing through a sore wrist at the start of camp, but he hasn’t missed any time.

• Ben McLemore knows how to photobomb.

• However, on the court Kings coach Mike Malone said McLeMore needs to work on his “jump shot, his ball-handling, his passing decisions and becoming a better defender this year.” Oh, so that’s all.

• Here’s an update on efforts to bring the NBA back to Seattle. Which is to say nothing is imminent. (I hear the most likely options are either after the new TV deal kicks in the owners decide to expand, or one of the teams in desperate need of a new arena fails to make progress on that front.)

• If you didn’t read the best NBA writer in the business Lee Jenkins writing on Erik Spoelstra, go do it right now.

• This cracked me up:

• The Hornets’ Lance Stephenson has a new music video out, one which I can’t run here so please follow the link.

• Earl Watson has retired from the NBA to join the Spurs’ D-League coaching staff. He’s one of the better, brighter guys around the league to talk Xs and Os with, great hire.

• The Bucks rookie forward Damien Inglis (drafted No. 31 and given two years guaranteed) will miss probably all of training camp trying to recover from his fractured foot.

• The Kings have reached a deal with Uber to put the popular ride sharing service in their team app for game nights. At least if you have an iPhone. According to the Kings fans with iOS mobile devices will be able to access Uber in the “Going to the Game” or “Transportation” section of the Kings app starting opening night. The Android version will be available in mid-November. Good idea.

• Pau Gasol is not exactly known for his singing, but he is recording a Christmas song for UNICEF.

• Remember last season the report that some Miami Heat players had been caught up in a Real Estate scam? Last week a man with a history of real estate fraud pled guilty to a multi-million dollar investment scam involving three former Miami Heat players and the team itself.

• Gustavo Ayon inked a two-year deal with Real Madrid. Got to go where the money is.

• Finally, learn how to make a tasty steak sandwich with Matt Barnes.

Report: Earl Watson wants to be next head coach of the Utah Jazz


The Utah Jazz parted ways with head coach Tyrone Corbin after three and a half seasons, and with young talent in place and a rebuilding culture on the rise, Utah is a team that needs to make the right choice in hiring Corbin’s replacement.

The league seems to be trending toward young, first-time coaches rather then installing retreads, so in this way, Earl Watson — who has played 13 seasons, three of the last four of which were spent in Utah — might be a fine choice.

And he’s not being shy about angling for the position.

From Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com:

Earl Watson of the Portland Trail Blazers has a strong desire to become the next head coach of the Utah Jazz and would relish the opportunity to interview for the position, league sources associated with the guard informed CSNNW.com.

Watson, 34, played three seasons as a member of the Jazz and immediately became an organization and fan favorite. He is viewed by numerous NBA executives as one of the few current players capable of making a smooth transition into the NBA coaching profession shortly following retirement.

The soon-to-be coach admitted during Friday’s exit interviews that the Utah job attracts him, and he already has the endorsement of Utah’s electric wing stud.

“I’m definitely pulling for Earl to get the job,” Jazz forward Gordon Hayward told CSNNW.com via phone Friday morning. “He’s a great guy and has a great basketball mind. If he did become our coach and I got to play under him, it would be great because I know how hard he’ll work and prepare us. He’s a true professional and I think no matter where he ends up, he’ll be a great head coach in the NBA.”

Not only does Watson have Hayward’s support — which is important, considering Hayward is a restricted free agent this summer and is likely to be retained on a long-term, high-dollar deal — but he also may be able to get Hubie Brown to join him on his staff, at least on a part-time basis.

It’s impossible to know whether or not Watson would make a good head coach. But given his extensive time spent as a player and his recent understanding of the Jazz organization, if Utah wants to give a first-time head coach a shot, there are worse decisions the franchise can make than going with someone who has Watson’s breadth of experience.

Portland’s Mo Williams to miss Game 3 for Blazers with groin injury

Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State Warriors

Portland, already down 0-2 to San Antonio and in a world of hurt, just got more bad news.

Sixth man Mo Williams is out for Game 3 Saturday night, reports Chris Haynes at CSNNW.com.

Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts announced post shootaround this morning that Mo Williams will not play in Game 3 tonight versus the San Antonio Spurs tonight because of a pulled groin…. Earl Watson will be the backup point guard and Will Barton is believed to receive a more significant role, though he has not been informed how much his minutes will be increased.

Just to be especially clear why this is a problem: Through two games the Spurs bench has scored 100 points and the Blazers 37.

Now Earl Watson has to make up some of that difference. Blazers fans might be better off just having dinner at Pok Pok and not watching the game (but they are too passionate to do that).

Williams first injured his groin in Game 6 against the Rockets, then aggravated it in Game 1 against the Spurs. He tried to play through it in Game 2 but could go just 9 minutes and he was clearly hobbled.

San Antonio’s ability to single cover LaMarcus Aldridge with Tiago Splitter, which allows their other defenders to stay home on guys like Damian Lillard, has slowed the Blazers offense. Particularly Portland’s three point shooting. Meanwhile the Spurs penetration and ball movement has got them pretty much any shot they wanted.

Portland needs to find something that really works for them in Game 3, more than just being home. Williams will not be that spark.

After fourth straight loss Trail Blazers hold team meeting

Terry Stotts, Damian Lillard

Portland has lost four in a row and is 7-9 in their last 16 games. In a tight Western Conference, that is trouble — gone is home court advantage in the first round as the hot Clippers and Rockets shot past them. Portland is now the five seed with Golden State just 1.5 games back.

Add to that LaMarcus Aldridge is banged up, although how much time he misses remains to be seen, and it’s more reason for concern.

After the efficient Spurs shredded the Trail Blazers 103-90 Wednesday night Damian Lillard started a team meeting to discuss turning the slide around, reports Chris Haynes at CSNNW.com.

Earl Watson, Mo Williams and Dorell Wright were amongst some of the players to vocally address what was going on and what needed to change from here on out, we’re told.

“I just felt like it was something that needed to be said,” Lillard responded when ask why he initiated the dialogue. “At some point, it’s up to the players.”

“It’s time for a players-meeting when we see a little slippage,” Wright said. “Every team has two or three a year. I love the fact that this was the only one this season where guys really had to step up and be vocal leaders. And the best thing about it, we got vets in here that have been through things and young guys that have been through things as well and understand when it’s time to speak up. That’s what guys did tonight.”

Portland’s problem is its once league-leading offense has slipped — Portland struggled defensively early but has improved on that end of the court and is now solid and in the top half of the league over its last 15 games. However, an offense that averaged 110.1 points per 100 possessions from the start of the season through Jan. 1 has averaged 102.7 in its last five games, 106.8 in the last 15, ranked 13th in the NBA for that stretch. Their once powerful offense has become pedestrian, their defense isn’t good enough to turn that into a lot of wins.

In their last five games the Blazers have shot 33.9 percent from three, down from a season average of 37.4 percent — in the first 20 games they shot better than 42 percent, back when they were catching teams off guard. In the last five the Blazers also are down three percent on their shooting from the midrange. The jumpers are not going down as defenses have adjusted.

Portland also leans heavily on its starters, they wore down last season as well.

They have just more than a month to figure it out, get rested and healthy, and be ready for the playoffs. There are no easy rounds for any team in the West and now Portland likely has to start on the road. They are going to need their November form on offense (or something much closer to it) if they want to get out of the first round.

ProBasketballTalk 2013-14 Preview: The Portland Trail Blazers

Hornets Trail Blazers Basketball
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Last Season: The Blazers spent the first half of the season threatening for a playoff spot, but one of the worst benches in NBA history ultimately sunk the team’s chances. Damian Lillard’s scoring prowess made him the fourth unanimous Rookie of the Year winner in NBA history, and it simulatenously provided hope that Portland’s current core can contend in the near future.

Signature Highlight: It feels dirty not to have a Lillard or LaMarcus Aldridge highlight here, but by golly gee, this dunk from J.J. Hickson was one of the best of the year.

Key Player Changes:

IN: Thomas Robinson, Robin Lopez, Dorell Wright, Mo Williams, C.J. McCollum, Allen Crabbe, Earl Watson

OUT: J.J. Hickson (Denver), Eric Maynor (Washington), Luke Babbitt, Jared Jeffries, Sasha Pavolvic, Ronnie Price

General manager Neil Olshey pulled off some sneaky tanking last year by cobbling together an awful bench with multiple players who won’t even play in the league this season. After hitting on Lillard in the draft, it looked like the Trail Blazers might have stolen another underrated small school grad to slot in as a scoring sixth man. Unfortunately, though, C.J. McCollum’s foot injury will keep him out of action indefinitely.

Adding Thomas Robinson was an incredibly low-risk, high-reward move, as his energy and rebounding should be a welcome sight coming off the bench. Robinson will likely never be a star, but he could carve out a solid role.

If Dorell Wright’s outside shooting returns to form, he could be a steal as a versatile 3 and D guy. Mo Williams is an extremely good shooter and a decent point guard to boot, but he needs to be hidden defensively at all times.

Robin Lopez might be the addition with the biggest impact, as his pure size should help the Blazers control the paint defensively much better than last season.

Losing J.J. Hickson doesn’t hurt nearly as much as his overall numbers would indicate. Hickson was defensive poison as a center last season, and it’s telling that the Blazers were unable to flip him for any asset while he was putting up grossly inflated stats.

Keys to Portland’s Season:

1) Can an improved bench make that much of a difference?

After running his starters into the ground by necessity last season, Terry Stotts can ease off the reins a bit and trust what should be a very capable bench. The on/off ratings for Aldridge (+9.4 points per 100 possessions) and Lillard (+9.1 points per 100 possessions) illustrate just how bad Portland’s reserve unit was last year, and the heavy minutes took a toll late in the season when the defense completely collapsed.

2) Will the defense improve?

Although he’s a plodder, Robin Lopez should plug a few more gaps in this leaky defense. Matthews is still the team’s best defender despite Batum’s reputation, but a lot of the responsibility boils down to Lillard and Aldridge, who need to stop reserving so much energy for offense and start defending pick-and-roll action better.

The Blazers finished 26th in defensive efficiency last season, so there’s certainly plenty of room for improvement here. The starting unit should be explosive, but below-average defensive teams traditionally have a much harder time making the playoffs than below-average offensive teams. The Blazers have to get better here in order to fight for the 8-seed.

3) Which unexpected source can provide the lift?

It’s time for Nic Batum to live up to his potential, as he’s the player who needs to make the biggest leap on both ends for the Blazers to truly be competitive. We know what we’re getting from LaMarcus Aldridge and Wes Matthews at this point, and it’s hard to imagine Lillard being significantly better (at least offensively) in his second year.

Perhaps Lopez or Robinson can surprise and add big contributions as well, but Batum is paid too much money to simply be a very good complementary player. The additions of an improved bench and a defensive-minded center can put the Blazers in the playoff conversation alone, but Batum’s continued development as a secondary creator (his assists shot up to 4.9 a game last year) and locked-in defender has to be there.

Why You Should Watch: Damian Lillard is the definition of smooth. Robin Lopez’s hair is the best in the business. LaMarcus Aldridge has three moves he just pairs over and over again, and no one can stop it.  Nic Batum in transition is an adventure. J.J. Hickson and his defense won’t make your eyes bleed anymore.

Prediction: 41-41 and the 9th seed. The Blazers should be able to beat out the other hapless defensive teams vying for the final playoff spot (Mavericks, Lakers), and the talent meshes better in Portland than it likely will in New Orleans. A healthy Minnesota team (oxy-moron?) is my choice for the 8th spot however, as they were much better defensively last year despite massive injuries. I need to see Portland’s defense improve drastically before I can fully believe they are a playoff team.