Tag: Jason Richardson

Sam Hinkie Press Conference

Report: 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie reneged on promise to release Andrei Kirilenko


Update: Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This likely explains how the 76ers got an extra roster spot to acquire Jared Cunningham.


The Nets traded Andrei Kirilenko, because they didn’t want to pay him or the amount he increased their luxury-tax bill. The 76ers took him, because they’re far enough below the salary floor that his salary contributes to dollars they’d have to spend anyway, and they got a draft pick from Brooklyn for their trouble.

Those are the details, in simplest terms, that motivated the deal.

It has gotten much more complicated since.

A family issue has reportedly kept Kirilenko in the New York area. The 76ers want him to report, but he has yet to do so.

Some are blaming Philadelphia general manager Sam Hinkie for the stalemate.

Bob Ford of The Inquirer:

According to two sources with inside knowledge of the negotiations, the Sixers had agreed to release veteran forward Andrei Kirilenko after the trade was consummated, but did not follow through on that handshake deal. Kirilenko, who played only seven games with the Nets this season, remains on the Sixers roster but has refused to join the team despite a request to do so.

“He might have an IQ of 150, but [Hinkie] doesn’t seem to realize you have to deal with these people over and over,” one league source said.

Could Hinkie have misinterpreted or misunderstood the alleged agreement with the Nets, who wanted to satisfy the desire of Kirilenko – a favorite of Russian team owner Mikhail Prokhorov – to become a free agent?

“No,” said another source. “I think he started thinking he can just hold onto him and use him at the trade deadline in a package to get something.”

Nets general manager Billy King and Hinkie both declined to comment on the record for this story, but a Sixers team source disputed the allegation.

“We made the trade to get the draft pick and in hopes [Kirilenko] might play for us,” the Sixers source said. “[Releasing him] was not a condition of the trade, but I have no idea what was said to him on the other end.”

The 76ers waived a physical as condition of the trade, according to Ford, a clear sign they’re not too concerned about Kirilenko playing for them. That, and every other move Hinkie has made, indicates this trade was about the financials, not Kirilenko as a player.

Kirilenko’s contract could be useful to facilitating another deal before the deadline, and I can see why the 76ers would strategically want to hold it until then. Heck, there’s no reason they wouldn’t also hope Kirilenko plays, exceeds expectations and somehow fetches an asset for what he can do on the court.

I’m confused why anyone cares whether the 76ers release Kirilenko now. If a family matter is keeping Kirilenko in New York – before the trade, Kirilenko was available only for Nets home games – what is he going to do as a free agent? League rules prevent him from signing with the Nets. Does he want to sign with the Knicks? As Phil Jackson dismantles his team, what use would they have for a 33-year-old?

Kirilenko’s absence is reportedly due to his wife’s pregnancy, so I suppose he just wants to ensure he has his options open if he returns later in the season. But if the 76ers don’t flip Kirilenko, I can’t see why they wouldn’t be willing to release him after the trade deadline. And if a team trades for Kirilenko, it will either be:

  • for his contract to make salaries match, and that team can release him.
  • for his playing ability, and there probably aren’t any of those. But if there is, Kirilenko joining that squad wouldn’t be so bad on his end.

In the meantime, Kirilenko’s status with Philadelphia is unclear.

The 76ers’ trade for Jared Cunningham gave them 16 players. Though they waived Cunningham, they still temporarily exceed the typical limit of 15 players.

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said a hardship granted the 76ers the extra roster spot. Without four injured players who’ve missed three straight games (only Jason Richardson, Joel Embiid and Hollis Thompson have), Philadelphia wouldn’t have qualified through the method discussed here. It’s possible the 76ers or NBA has quietly suspended Kirilenko for failing to report, and if he’s on the suspended list, he wouldn’t count toward the active or inactive lists.

NBA by-laws also allow teams to exceed roster maximums in the event of “extreme hardship” if a majority of the Board of Governors allows it.

Given how people are talking about Hinkie, though, I doubt other teams are rushing to help the 76ers. Ford:

“General managers like to call each other and talk, but nobody wants to talk to Sam Hinkie. Nobody trusts this guy,” one source said.

There is a perception in some corners that Hinkie is unqualified to run a team, because he lacks the necessary interpersonal skills. It’s a fair concern, but I’m not qualified to say whether it’s fairly applied to Hinkie.

I like the rebuilding approach he has taken, and I think the 76ers have a bright future once they finish tanking. Hinkie deserves a chance to see this process through.

But as long as he remains general manager, these shots at him will continue. He’s a threat to the old guard that dislikes his analytical approach.

And like I said, the concern is fair. People skills are important to being a general manager.

But, in this case with Kirilenko, I don’t see enough evidence to convict Hinkie of wrongdoing.

Stephen Curry makes 1,000 3-pointers quicker than anyone else. Much quicker

Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard

Stephen Curry could have stopped shooting 3-pointers for more than a full season and still made 1,000 career 3-pointers in fewer games than anyone in NBA history.

Of course, Curry wouldn’t do that.

The Warriors guard became the 74th player to make 1,000 3-pointers, draining four triples in the Warriors win over the Pacers last night. He needed just 369 games to achieve the mark – 88 fewer than second-place Dennis Scott.

Here’s how long it took everyone in the 1,000 3-pointer club:


And despite his early injury troubles, Curry was also the youngest to 1,000 3-pointers:


Player 3s Games to 1,000 3s Age at 1,000 3s
Stephen Curry 1003 369 26-299
Dennis Scott 1214 457 29-076
Ray Allen 2973 473 27-167
Gilbert Arenas 1079 476 28-323
Peja Stojakovic 1760 488 28-145
Mike Miller 1553 527 27-319
Nick Van Exel 1528 534 29-025
Jason Richardson 1577 551 28-001
J.R. Smith 1344 561 27-097
Michael Redd 1045 570 31-218
Ben Gordon 1162 585 29-005
Kyle Korver 1607 585 30-001
Jason Williams 1238 587 31-100
Baron Davis 1332 589 28-334
Jamal Crawford 1765 591 28-360
Wesley Person 1150 595 31-267
Chauncey Billups 1830 598 29-182
Brent Barry 1395 600 32-317
Jason Terry 2009 602 29-121
Tim Hardaway 1542 605 31-213
Glen Rice 1559 606 29-265
Kevin Martin 1043 608 31-043
Paul Pierce 1981 611 29-029
Antoine Walker 1386 615 28-092
Eddie Jones 1546 615 32-025
Rashard Lewis 1787 626 28-098
Reggie Miller 2560 627 29-207
Quentin Richardson 1167 633 29-277
John Starks 1222 642 33-184
Vernon Maxwell 1256 652 31-153
Cuttino Mobley 1085 654 31-218
Mookie Blaylock 1283 654 31-012
Manu Ginobili 1231 657 34-253
Joe Johnson 1645 660 28-196
Stephen Jackson 1252 661 31-338
Vince Carter 1847 670 31-025
Allan Houston 1305 682 30-354
Damon Stoudamire 1236 691 31-151
Kirk Hinrich 1123 693 32-103
Dan Majerle 1360 698 32-170
Morris Peterson 1009 701 32-217
Mitch Richmond 1326 702 32-162
Mike Bibby 1517 706 29-306
Steve Nash 1685 734 32-334
Dana Barros 1090 736 32-312
Nick Anderson 1055 745 32-040
Steve Smith 1148 746 32-330
Dirk Nowitzki 1513 746 29-269
Hersey Hawkins 1226 747 31-062
LeBron James 1184 749 28-068
Tracy McGrady 1081 766 29-203
Mike Dunleavy 1165 769 33-070
Chuck Person 1220 775 31-261
Lindsey Hunter 1075 781 34-119
Michael Finley 1454 783 32-352
Hedo Turkoglu 1200 784 31-286
Dale Ellis 1719 784 33-225
Shane Battier 1250 794 33-154
Jason Kidd 1988 803 32-259
Latrell Sprewell 1104 810 33-172
Allen Iverson 1059 815 32-286
Kobe Bryant 1688 820 29-143
David Wesley 1123 834 34-138
James Posey 1035 834 33-329
Metta World Peace 1119 844 33-019
Dell Curry 1245 860 34-251
Antawn Jamison 1163 935 35-223
Derek Fisher 1248 996 35-178
Terry Porter 1297 1001 35-005
Rasheed Wallace 1086 1018 35-055
Danny Ainge 1002 1037 36-020
Clifford Robinson 1253 1109 36-340
Gary Payton 1132 1121 36-128
Derek Harper 1070 1125 36-121

Yes, I too was surprised J.R. Smith previously held the record for youngest player to make 1,000 3-pointers. (Smith has surprised me quite a bit lately.)

In no uncertain terms: Curry blew the competition out of the water.

I’ve long believed Curry will retire as the greatest 3-point shooter of all-time, and obviously him breaking these records reinforces that belief. But he has strong competition sooner than I ever imagined.

Damian Lillard (red) has made 500 3-pointers in 199 games, putting him ahead of Curry (blue) at the same point:


Even by age, despite Curry entering the league younger, Lillard has passed the Warriors guard:


Lillard (2.5 3-pointers per game in his career) trails Curry’s overall pace (2.7), and Curry deserves credit for improving even after his fast start. But it’s also possible Lillard makes similar improvements.

Of course, volume isn’t the only factor in determining the best 3-point shooter. Curry has a healthy lead in career percentage (43.5 to 38.3), and that’s a big reason I remain confident in my Curry prediction.

Still, if we’re going to discuss how Curry smoked the field in games to 1,000 pointers, it’s worth noting Lillard could get there even more quickly.

76ers see Nerlens Noel as a center, which creates a Joel Embiid-sized problem

Philadelphia 76ers Media Day

For all the talk about the 76ers tanking to get high draft picks, they have just three of the 120 top-10 picks still in the NBA:

  • Joel Embiid (No. 3 in 2014)
  • Jason Richardson (No. 5 in 2001)
  • Nerlens Noel (No. 6 in 2013)

Richardson hasn’t played in years, and he’s clearly not in the 76ers’ long-term plans. So, you’d think they’d want to get the most from Embiid and Noel.

The 6-foot-11, 228-pound Noel is in his rookie year after missing all of last season due to injury while the 7-foot, 250-pound Embiid sits out his first professional season with his own injury. It’ll be a while before we see how they fit together, but we can begin to analyze. Embiid definitely projects as a center, and Noel has swung between both big-man positions.

Can they eventually share a lineup?

Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com:

Coach Brett Brown was asked whether Noel is a better fit at power forward or center and said, “I think right now it’s a five” and that “He’s gone from being a four man playing alongside Henry Sims to a five man, which is going to be a challenge for us when Joel gets healthy next year.”

At another moment, it’s “Look at what a lot of teams do with their four men. They’re away from the basket. Most of the fours nowadays can almost shoot threes. If that’s your world, naturally you’re pulled away from the basket. That was Nerlens’ problem when we played him at four. He’s so used to just running to the rim, he’d lose Dirk (Nowitzki), he’d lose perimeter people. It wasn’t natural for him. Maybe he can guard a five player (better). I don’t know. I think it’s all a work in progress. But he really is a presence at the rim.”

And what of the eventual position conflict with Embiid, since there isn’t much appeal in taking his defense away from the rim?

“We’ll deal with it,” Brown said. “I think it’s a good problem to have and it’s not one that we’re shying away from. We still do all of our deliberate practice work with Nerlens from 18 feet. We still work on his form. Nothing really changes. It’s just with what we have right now, he’s been slid over to a five spot. We’re happy with his progress. I think it’s just something that we’ll figure out as time unfolds.”

Noel needs to add either bulk to play center or a jumper and awareness to defend on the perimeter to play power forward. I suspect bulk will come much easier for the 20-year-old.

Sixers fans who are Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia subscribers can watch the Sixers take on the Suns Friday night in a live stream by following this link.

At best, it’ll be a while before Noel or Embiid has the skill to complement the other as a power forward. At worst, it’ll never happen, and that possibility leaves Philadelphia in a bind.

The 76ers can experiment with the talented and tall duo once Embiid gets healthy next season, and if they don’t work together, that could help Philadelphia tank for another high pick. And if bigs click better than expected, great, the 76ers would be pretty good.

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Complicating matters further, four of the top five prospects for the 2015 draft are big men, according to both ESPN and DraftExpress. A frontcourt with two ill-fitting pieces could add another if Philadelphia drafts the most valuable player available.

I suspect the 76ers are in the talent-acquisition phase of their rebuild. Add quality players and then later sort out how they fit, trading those who don’t. So, having both Embiid and Noel is no problem right now.

But if Noel’s best position is center, that speaks to how long the 76ers will delay their ascension up the standings – and what they must do to get there.

Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris coming into their own for Magic

Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Gerald Green

BOSTON – Nikola Vucevic is more confident than ever and playing the best basketball of his life.

Perhaps, it’s because the Magic gave him a four-year, $54 million contract extension last offseason.

“It just kind of gives you a kind of peace of mind, to where you do what you do, and you don’t have to worry about those things,” Vucevic said. “I feel like I know that I put the summer in, the work in, and I know what I sacrificed to get to here. Now, when I get on the court, there’s no reason for me to doubt myself.”

On the flip side, Orlando failed to reach a deal with another rookie-extension-eligible player, Tobias Harris. If Vucevic’s extension made him comfortable, how did Harris not getting one affect him?

“I’m always going to work hard at anything I do just because I love this game,” Harris. “Ever since I was a kid playing basketball, I always just instilled the work ethic in myself to be the best that I can be, free agent or non-free agent.”

Vucevic confirms Harris’ mindset hasn’t changed. In fact, Vucevic has though the sacrifices Harris makes to improve are “sometimes even too much.”

“He wants to compete all the time,” Vucevic said. “Whatever you do, he has to be the best. When it comes to dressing up, the car you have, the music you listen to, whatever – Tobias, he has to be the best.”

So who has the team’s best car?

“I do,” said Vucevic, who declined to share what he drives.

Though Vucevic’s vehicle remains a mystery, here’s what’s clear: A confident Vucevic and competitive Harris are driving the Magic, and if they keep this up, they’ll deserve real All-Star consideration.

Orlando has repeatedly hit the right notes with these two. The Magic drafted neither Vucevic (No. 16 in 2011) nor Harris (drafted No. 19 the same year), acquiring both in trades. Vucevic came from the 76ers in the Dwight Howard megadeal, and Harris from the Bucks as the primary return for J.J. Redick. Whatever motivational factors Orlando had in mind when negotiating their contract extensions last offseason, Vucevic (18.2 points on 52.0 percent shooting and 11.8 rebounds per game) and Harris (18.6 points on 47.4 percent shooting and 7.2 rebounds per game) are having All-Star-type seasons.

Between six and eight frontcourt players will make each All-Star team. Vucevic and Harris rank fifth and sixth among Eastern Conference frontcourt players in Estimated Wins Added, a PER-based stat that accounts for playing time, behind only LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Al Jefferson and Chris Bosh.


This is not to suggest Vucevic and Harris should make the All-Star game, merely that they’re reasonable candidates. Of course, it’s unlikely they’ll be treated as such – especially in tandem.

The Magic are 11-20. It’s hard enough for a losing team to send a player to the All-Star game, let alone two. In the last 30 years, just 11 teams with losing records at the All-Star break produced multiple All-Stars.

Team Record at All-Star break All-Stars
2012-13 LAL 25-29 Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard
2011-12 BOS 15-17 Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo
2007-08 WAS 25-27 Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison
2006-07 NJN 25-29 Vince Carter, Jason Kidd
2005-06 HOU 22-31 Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming
1996-97 MIN 23-25 Kevin Garnett, Tom Gugliotta
1994-95 DET 17-29 Joe Dumars, Grant Hill
1993-94 NJN 22-24 Kenny Anderson, Derrick Coleman
1992-93 GSW 23-30 Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway
1992-93 DET 21-29 Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas
1987-88 PHI 20-23 Charles Barkley, Maurice Cheeks

All those teams had better winning percentages than this year’s Magic. The last team with such a poor record and two All-Stars was the 1971-72 Cavaliers, who were 15-32 at the break and sent Butch Beard and John Johnson. Back then, the East had just eight teams from which to build an All-Star squad.

Now, with 15 teams per conference and an unofficial allocation of reserve votes based on team record, it’s a practical certainty Vucevic and Harris can’t both reach the All-Star game.

If one makes it – and that’s far from guaranteed – it will probably be Vucevic, whom Doc Rivers called an All-Star. The Clippers coach also described Vucevic as “probably the best player in the league that nobody knows.”

“When he says nobody knows me, it’s kind of true,” Vucevic said. “Not a lot of people knew about me before, but I’ve never been worried about it. I knew what I was capable of. I had the talent. I just had to keep working to sustain it and become good.”

Without question, Vucevic is good. The 7-foot center is an effective post player with range well outside the paint. He’s shooting 66.0 percent at the rim and 43.0 percent from mid-range. Only Anthony Davis tops both those marks (minimum: 100 shots from each location). Vucevic, though his feet still run a little slow and he’s not a great rim protector, is making defensive progress. For the first time, the Magic are allowing fewer points per possession with him on the court than off, though he’s always hovered around their team-wide mark.

Similarly, Harris is on the right track. He’s shooting 39.3 percent on 3-pointers, well above the 28.0 percent he was shooting beyond the arc entering this season. His increased range has opened the floor for himself and teammates, and he likes to advantage with well-timed cuts to the baskets. Playing more small forward this season after seeing a lot of time as a stretch four last season, Harris has really enhanced his all-around game.

The big question: If these guys are so good, why is Orlando so bad?

It’s a fair point.

To some degree, they’re putting up numbers on this team because someone has to. But imagine where the Magic would be without Vucevic and Harris. Orlando performs better when those two share the court than any of its other 10-most-used duos. And more directly, Harris has hit two game-winning jumpers.

Earlier this month against the Hawks:



And last month against the 76ers:

With Harris already holding a reputation for clutch play entering the season, a dearth of quality wings around the league and a rising salary cap looming, Harris will get plenty of attention this summer. Don’t be surprised if the annual salary on his next contract exceeds $10 million.

He’s reportedly interested in the Knicksplaying in New York would reportedly trigger a bonus in his Nike contract – but he’ll be a restricted free agent. The Magic can keep him, and he’s on record saying he wants to remain in Orlando.

If all else fails, Harris could accept the qualifying offer for next season and become an unrestricted free agent in 2016, when the salary cap should skyrocket. If Harris starts 17 more games or plays 1,121 more minutes this season, he’ll raise his qualifying offer from $3,394,726 to $4,433,683. It’s a small advantage, one Harris is likely to meet, but it’d nudges him a little closer to that route.

How much would the Magic pay to keep Harris? They have one of the league’s most egalitarian salary structures.

Channing Frye ($8,579,088) is the second-lowest-paid player among teams’ highest-paid players, behind only the 76ers’ Jason Richardson ($6,601,125). Victor Oladipo ($4,978,200) is the lowest-paid player among teams’ second-highest-paid players. Ben Gordon ($4.5 million) is the lowest-paid player among teams’ third-highest-paid players, behind only the 76ers’ Joel Embiid ($4,427,640).

And so on. The Magic’s fourth- (Aaron Gordon), fifth- (Vucevic), sixth- (Luke Ridnour) and seventh- (Elfrid Payton) lowest-paid players are the or among the lowest-paid in the league for their team rank. It’s telling that Orlando’s second- and fourth-highest paid players are still on their-rookie scale contracts.

What it means: The Magic still have incredible flexibility to shape their roster.

Their seven highest-paid players are all contract for next season. That’s when Vucevic’s big extension kicks in, and Frye is the only other Orlando player slated to make more Oladipo’s rookie-scale salary. Harris is the team’s eight-highest-paid player.

So, if the Magic think they’re onto something here – with a young core that also includes an emerging Oladipo and Evan Fournier – there’s little reason to let Harris bolt. Frye, the team’s veteran leader, sure believes they’re onto something with Vucevic and Harris.

“They’re developing as leaders on this team, as kind of the pillars of where we’re going to build this team,” Frye said. “And I’m cool with that. I’m very cool with that. And it’s an honor to play with these guys and watch them develop, and I think they’re both learning that they can’t do it by themselves and that with each other, we’re a very good team. We’re going to put it all on them.”

For now, both players are still trying to find their place in the league individually.

Vucevic, with the big extension and nice car, is a bit further along in that process. Even Harris, who said he drives a BMW M6, admitted Vucevic had the team’s top car – though not without his signature competitiveness showing in the answer.

“He does,” Harris allowed, “now. But – yeah he does.”

Told of Harris’ admission, Vucevic calmly nodded.

Vucevic’s confidence and Harris’ competitiveness are working for each player right now. Vucevic is proving why he got paid, and Harris is showing why he should get paid. In the process, the duo is driving the Magic in the right direction, and the next major stop might just be New York for the All-Star game.

Jason Richardson says he’ll ‘definitely’ return before All-Star break

Philadelphia 76ers 2014 Media Day

Jason Richardson captains the “He’s still in the NBA?” team.

Yes, Richardson is still in the league, the elder member of the 76ers. You wouldn’t know it by watching them play, though.

Richardson missed most of the 2012-13 season with a knee injury, which also kept him out all of last season. Then, a stress fracture before this seemed like it could end his career.

But the 33-year-old insists he’ll play again – sooner than you’d think.

Tom Moore of The Intelligencer (via Basketball Insiders):

Richardson, a 14-year pro, said he’ll “definitely be back before the all-star break or January or maybe even before this year is over with. I’ll see how my body takes all this training and getting ready for it.”

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I don’t know about that. Richardson was optimistic while sidelined during his knee injury, and he didn’t get anywhere. Now, he’s even older.

It’s nice Richardson is fighting to come back for a team going nowhere. That says something about his pride, desire to make more money once his contract expires after this season, desire to convince a contender to take a flyer on him – or all three.

But those sentiments won’t make his body stand up to the rigors of the NBA if it no longer can.