Tag: Hamed Haddadi

Eric Bledsoe

ProBasketballTalk 2013-14 Preview: Phoenix Suns


Last season: Believe it or not, the Suns actually had playoff aspirations when the regular season began. The front office believed that Michael Beasley would be different in Phoenix than he had been anywhere else, and mandated that he be given a chance to be a difference-maker in the lineup. Once it became clear that Beasley was a bust and that the team was headed nowhere but the draft lottery, the Suns parted ways with head coach Alvin Gentry in the middle of the year, and gave the interim tag to Lindsey Hunter.

That was essentially a disaster, as Hunter was directionless during his time in charge, and alienated veteran players while never gaining command of the locker room in the process.

The offseason saw Beasley bought out of his contract, GM Lance Blanks let go, and a new general manager in Ryan McDonough and a new head coach in Jeff Hornacek brought in to lead the rebuild back to respectability.

Signature highlight from last season: There were so many to choose from … OK, not so much. But what struck me when revisiting Suns highlights from last season were the three different times (plays 9, 8, and 2 in the clip below) that Goran Dragic found a teammate with a bounce pass through a defender’s legs for the finish.

Key player changes: The Suns began the rebuilding process by making some moves geared more toward the future than the present, but managed to pick up a nice asset on a rookie contract in Eric Bledsoe while doing so.

  • IN: Bledsoe came over in the deal that sent fan favorite and consummate teammate Jared Dudley to the Clippers. Miles Plumlee and Gerald Green were acquired from the Pacers in the deal that sent Luis Scola to Indiana. Slava Kravstov and Ish Smith were acquired from the Bucks by trading Caron Butler, who came over with Bledsoe in the deal with the Clippers. Malcolm Lee is on the roster as a result of the draft night trade Phoenix made to move up to be able to select Archie Goodwin. Alex Len is the other rookie in place, selected by the team with the fifth overall pick in this summer’s draft. It’s worth noting that the Suns have 16 guaranteed contracts in place at the moment, and will need to get down to 15 players before the season begins. Lee would appear to be the odd man out.
  • OUT: Beasley, Jermaine O’Neal, Wesley Johnson, Hamed Haddadi, Scola, and Dudley.

Keys to the Suns season:

1) Developing Eric Bledsoe: The explosive reserve guard who showed flashes of brilliance for the Clippers playing behind Chris Paul last season was coveted by many teams, but the Suns were the ones creative enough to come up with an enticing package (and involve a third team) in order to secure Bledsoe’s services.

Bledsoe is athletic and speedy, and on the defensive end he lives in the passing lanes. But he’s still raw offensively, and developing him into a consistent player on both ends of the floor should be the primary goal in Phoenix this season. It’s worth noting that Bledsoe is essentially in a contract year — the Suns can extend him a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent following the season, thus having the right to match any offer he may receive. Even a bad year is likely to net Bledsoe some pretty significant offers, so the Suns need to see what they have in him before committing cap space and huge dollars over the next several seasons.

2) Trade bait: The Suns are by no means done dealing considering their rebuilding situation, and the team has players in contract situations that will be appealing to other teams around the league, especially as the trade deadline approaches. Marcin Gortat and his expiring $7.7 million deal is at the top of that list, and even he knows it. Another interesting name, though, is Channing Frye, who is back after sitting out all of last season with a heart condition. If Frye returns to form as a high-percentage shooter from three-point distance, his ability to stretch the floor will be highly-coveted for his relatively low price. Frye is on the books for $6.4 million this season, and has a player option for $6.8 for the following season.

3) Building a foundation: The most important thing for the Suns to do this season is establish an identity and a direction under new head coach Jeff Hornacek. Once the wheels fell off a season ago, there was no leadership from either the front office or from the interim coach on the sidelines. McDonough appears to have a long-term plan in place from a management standpoint, now that needs to trickle down to the players on the floor. The holdovers from last year have responded extremely well to Hornacek thus far — his challenge will be to keep everyone focused and engaged on improvement over the long grind of the season, especially in the face of tallying few wins against so many losses.

Why you should watch: The Suns aim to play uptempo offensive basketball under Hornacek, and that should be a blast with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe pushing the pace in the starting lineup.

Prediction: The oddsmakers have set the over/under for season wins in the 21-22 neighborhood, and that seems a bit on the low side given the guys in place and the effort we’ve seen thus far during the preseason. With that being said, there’s going to be a lot of losing in Phoenix, but if there’s good news surrounding that it’s the franchise having a plan in place and a head coach that seems well-suited to the challenge of rebuilding that lies ahead. As long as Hornacek keeps his players on the path of continual improvement as the season progresses, the year will ultimately be viewed as a success.

Report: Knicks coaches want to sign Earl Barron, but front office is undecided

Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks

Th Knicks could use some frontcourt depth for next season, and no, the free agent signing of Andrea Bargnani isn’t what we’re talking about.

New York needs defense and rebounding off the bench, particularly if it wants to contend with teams like the Nets and the Pacers who are relatively stacked at the forward or center positions.

Earl Barron, who appeared in seven games for the Knicks in 2010 and played once for them last season, is someone who the coaching staff knows and likes. The front office, however, remains undecided on Barron, creating an awkward split in the internal thinking of how the team will round out its roster.

From Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report:

The New York Knicks coaching staff would like to sign Earl Barron, but team management is not in any rush to do so, according to a source close to the veteran free-agent center.

“The Knicks coaches want Earl, but ownership wants to wait,” the source told Bleacher Report.

A second source familiar with the Knicks’ free-agency plans confirmed they are interested in Barron, 32, who appeared in seven games (six starts) for the Knicks in 2009-10, averaging 11.7 points and 11.0 rebounds over 33.1 minutes. Last season—while he only played in one regular-season game for the Knicks, an 11-point, 18-rebound performance on April 17 against the Atlanta Hawks—the source said he impressed Knicks coach Mike Woodson during his short stint.

There’s more to it, of course — Knicks management is reportedly weighing other options, one of which is Hamed Haddadi. But a detail included in this report says that Haddadi worked out for the Jazz this week, and won’t wait for the Knicks if an offer from Utah comes first.

It’s unclear if Barron is worthy of a season-long roster spot, considering the way he’s bounced around the league without ever being able to secure a more permanent opportunity following his first three seasons with the Heat from 2006-2008.

That scattered history might be the reason that the front office is tentative about pulling the trigger on signing Barron, despite the wishes of the coaching staff. Or, it could simply be that there isn’t yet a plan in place on how the team intends to fill out the remaining slots on its roster.

New York has 12 players in place with guaranteed contracts for next season.

FIBA Americas tournament tips off today

Jose Juan Barea, Nicolas Laprovittola
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The 2013 FIBA Americas Championship tournament begins in beautiful Caracas, Venezuela, on Friday morning. This is actually the fourth FIBA tournament of the year — following Asia (where Hamed Haddadi was MVP), Oceania (which was just Australia vs. New Zealand a couple of times) and Africa (where Nigeria was just upset despite featuring four players with NBA experience) — but also the one most relevant to the interests of the American basketball fan.

The first few days of the tournament will feature round-robin play in the two groups of five with the top four teams from each advancing into a second round-robin tournament to whittle the field down further to four teams. Those four teams will advance to next year’s FIBA World Cup, but they’ll also play a quick tournament to determine the FIBA Americas champion.

Friday’s action will actually feature a game matching the top two teams in the tournament when Puerto Rico and Brazil face off in Group A action.  Puerto Rico’s backcourt includes Carlos Arroyo and J.J. Barea and its frontcourt includes Renaldo Balkman and Ricky Sanchez, among others, so they’re a team worth watching if one’s clamoring to watch NBA-type players play meaningful basketball. Brazil isn’t nearly as loaded as they could be with Nene, Tiago Splitter, Anderson Varejao and Leandro Barbosa all out of action this summer, but they’re still a team that is very fun to watch with a lot of solid players currently playing professionally in Europe — and recent Utah Jazz draftee Raul Neto plays for them, too.

The three other games on Friday feature Jamaica and Canada where Samardo Samuels vs. Tristan Thompson will likely be a featured matchup; Luis Scola’s Argentinean team taking on an overmatched squad from Paraguay and Venezuela vs. Mexico. The last one would typically be a good game, but new Venezuelan Donta Smith — formerly of the Atlanta Hawks — isn’t going to make up for the loss of Greivis Vasquez, Gregory Echenique and Oscar Torres. Mexico does feature some fun players in Gustavo Ayon, Lorenzo Mata-Real, Orlando Mendez-Valdez and Jorge Gutierrez, however.

The games begin at 10:30 Eastern Time and can be streamed on ESPN3 for those so inclined.

Hamed Haddadi has workout with New Orleans Pelicans


The New York Knicks are looking for a little depth along the front line, but at this point in free agency the pickings get slim. Jeremy Tyler is going to get a look after playing with the Knicks Summer League team and averaging 12.8 points and 6.4 rebounds a game. However, the Knicks want a more veteran presence, too.

They worked out former Grizzlies’ reserve and Iranian international Hamed Haddadi, but now he has worked out for the Pelicans too, tweets Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com.

Haddadi has size — he’s a legit 7’2” and weighs north of 260 now. He spent four seasons on the Memphis bench but he was traded to Phoenix as part of the Rudy Gay deal last year. He’s not part of the Suns plans so now he is a free agent. Haddadi struggled to get on the court in Memphis and Phoenix and while he finishes fairly well around the rim and is a solid rebounder, he doesn’t bring a ton of other NBA skills to the table. Other than size.

The Pelicans are going to start Anthony Davis at the five and behind him they already have Greg Stiemsma and rookie Jeff Withey. New Orleans has a roster spot and you can’t have enough depth along the front line, so they are taking a look at Haddadi, but I’m not sure about the need. Also, are they really going to offer more than the minimum (which is all the Knicks could offer)?

The Knicks need another big on the bench as insurance. We told you before Earl Barron got a workout and Zwerling notes he still hopes to get that job. However the Knicks are looking around and may wait into training camp to see who gets cut and may become available.

Hamed Haddadi named FIBA Asia MVP

Iran's Hamed Haddadi celebrates being named the Most Valuable Player after his team won their FIBA Asia Championship final basketball game against Philippines in Manila

The FIBA Asia Championships concluded Sunday morning over in the Philippines with Iran dominating a hosting Philippines squad en route to an 85-71 victory. It was Iran’s third championship in the biannual event since 2007 and, not coincidentally, the third time Hamed Haddadi was named the tournament MVP.

Haddadi is currently a free agent after ending last season with the Phoenix Suns, but he’ll likely be able to find work now that his national team commitments are done until next year. The big man had 29 points and 16 rebounds in Sunday’s championship game, moving his averages up to 18.8 points and 10 rebounds while averaging just 22 minutes of action in his team’s nine games at the tournament.

Haddadi didn’t run into a lot of NBA-level bigs over the course of the tournament, but there were a few recognizable names competing as naturalized citizens in the tournament. Yi Jianlian was the tournament’s second-leading scorer, former lottery pick Jarvis Hayes suited up for Qatar, Temple’s Quincy Davis III led Chinese Taipei to a victory over China, Wang Zhizhi showed he still has a bit left in the tank, former Lakers draft pick Marcus Douthit was good for the Philippines — though he missed Sunday’s championship game with an injury — and J.R. Sakuragi used to be famous under another name in the states.

Iran and the Philippines both automatically qualified for next year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup (previously known as the FIBA World Championship) and moved one step closer to qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Korea earned Asia’s third bid for the 2014 FIBA tournament with a 75-57 victory over Chinese Taipei in the third place game.

China, likely considered the favorite heading into the tournament, will have to take a round-about route to qualify for the 2016 Olympics after being eliminated by Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals. The team that features former NBA players Yi Jianlian, Wang Zhizhi and a perpetually-struggling Sun Yue now has to hope they earn a Wild Card berth to next year’s FIBA World Cup in order to make guarantee a trip to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.