Tag: Jason Richardson

dion waiters

NBA All-Star Weekend: Waiters, Hardaway light up Rising Stars Challenge with 3-point shootout


NEW ORLEANS — To be perfectly honest, there are times when the Rising Stars Challenge can feel like a bit of a chore. It can’t match the talent level of the actual All-Star game, but it has all of the lack of defense, intensity, and ball movement that is usually par for the course in Sunday’s main event. Botched alley-oops, cherry-picking, jogging up and down the court, and ill-fated dribble moves are rampant.

So why is this a staple of NBA All-Star Weekend, and why do we watch? To put it plainly, there’s a very good chance that something completely insane will happen during the Rising Stars Challenge. Without so much as the pride of their conferences to play for, let alone the pressure of playing for their actual team, the players are openly out there to put on a show, and the flashes of sheer ridiculousness that come out of that mentality are often enough to make up for the apathy that makes up the rest of the game.

Last year, it was Kyrie Irving and Brandon Knight going at each other, which culminated in Irving destroying Knight’s ankles with one of the nastiest crossovers you’re likely to ever see. In 2003, Jason Richardson drilled a 3 after bouncing the ball off of Carlos Boozer’s head. And of course, it was the Rookie/Sophomore game that gave us one of the most audacious moves in the history of the NBA — Jason Williams’ legendary elbow pass.

On Friday, the game started out lackadaisically, even by All-Star Friday standards. When a player wanted to get a layup, he got to the rim with less resistance than a stiff breeze would be able to offer him. 3-pointers were thrown up early in the clock at a high volume, but rarely found their mark. The cherry-picking was even more blatant than usual.

Andre Drummond dominated the game simply by camping under the basket, actually trying to get rebounds, and easily depositing the ball in the hoop time after time. There weren’t even particularly impressive dunks or crossover moves to break up the monotony. It was shaping up to be 40 minutes of a game that only barely resembled basketball, and seemed to only be fun for those playing in it.

Then Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dion Waiters happened. With 8:58 remaining in the game, Hardaway Jr., who had been shooting the ball aggressively all night but struggling to get his shots to go in, drilled a 3. Waiters came right back at him, drove, and got two free throws. Waiters and Hardaway both said they had something of a score to settle before the game, as Hardaway had made a 3 with the clock winding down in a Knicks blowout win over the Cavaliers on TNT earlier in the year, something that Waiters told Hardaway he would “get him back” for.

Hardaway said that Waiters had talked to him before the game and during the game, and that both of them were “trying to do a great job of just getting the fans involved. It was kind of dead in there, and we just wanted to start something, a little one-on-one battle here and there.”

After Waiters made his free throws, the Waiters-Hardaway show had officially begun. Hardaway came right back down the court and drilled a 3. Waiters answered with a fadeaway jumper. Hardaway went to the hole and got free throws. Waiters got fouled and split free throws of his own. The players traded layups, then Hardaway set up his teammate for a layup.

After that, the three-point contest begun, as Waiters drilled a 3 in Hardaway’s face and Hardaway answered with a pull-up 3 of his own — from 33 feet away. The crowd had come alive. Waiters came right back with a 3. Hardaway came back with a 31-footer, and the crowd was fully on its feet. When Hardaway missed a 3 after two Waiters free throws, the two players had combined for 27 points in just under 3 minutes. They weren’t completely done, either, as they went head-to-head again a few minutes later to combine for 14 points in just under a minute.

Ultimately, Waiters got the better of the rookie on Friday, as he needed only 14 shots to get his 31 points and added 7 assists, while Hardaway Jr. needed 23 shots to get his 36 points and only managed to dish out two assists, and Waiters’ team ultimately pulled out the victory. Still, the important thing is that both men combined to give NBA fans the kind of display you simply won’t see often in the games that count, and one that made the Rising Stars Challenge anything but a forgettable affair.

Monday And 1 links: New look Pierre the Pelican ready for his close up

Indiana Pacers v New Orleans Pelicans
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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.

The rumors are true: We will have a new look Pierre the Pelican mascot All-Star weekend in New Orleans. The team went about this in a clever way, here are the highlights of the press release:

New Orleans Pelicans mascot, Pierre, suffered a broken beak on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Pelicans Practice Facility during a pickup game of basketball with fellow NBA mascots Grizz (Memphis Grizzlies), Rocky (Denver Nuggets) and Slamson (Sacramento Kings), as well as NFL mascot, Gumbo (New Orleans Saints)…

Later today, Pierre will have surgery at Ochsner Medical Center to reconstruct the broken beak. Pelicans Team Physician Dr. Mathew McQueen will perform the surgery.

“This will be a rather unconventional surgery for us. I am not sure we have something to compare this to,” said McQueen. “It will be quite complicated and will require the use of some unconventional tools and instruments to reconstruct his beak.”

The press release goes on to blame Grizz, the Memphis mascot, for the injury. I guess everyone associated with Memphis plays physical ball.

• Pierre’s home — and the arena where the All-Star Game will be played this weekend — has a new corporate sponsor, this is the Smoothie King Center. This is a 10-year deal for the arena naming rights. Smoothie King was founded in 1973 (a few years before the smoothie craze took off) in New Orleans.

Great read on Jason Collins, Michael Sam and the education of sports.

• Another great read on building a strong defense in the NBA, from Zach Lowe at Grantland.

• But if you’re going to read just one long-form thing on basketball today, make it this from Grantland on the use of analytics in the game and how it has grown.

• Kevin Love took out this ad to thank Minnesota fans for voting him into the All-Star Game.


• Dwight Howard’s Orlando mansion is up for sale — five bedrooms, huge kitchen, seven bedrooms, 11,025 square feet of living space, and it can all be yours for just $4.9 million (Howard bought in 2008 close to the top of the bubble, he’s taking a $3 million loss on it).

• Interesting tweet.

• Jason Richardson hopes to be back on the court come March.

• Nerlens Noel is ramping up what he is doing in practice.

• Kevin Durant has a puppy now. A cute puppy.

Report: Charlotte Bobcats have inquired about Evan Turner

Evan Turner, Jeff Adrien

One of the most obvious trade candidates around the NBA is Evan Turner.

Both a talented young player on an expiring contract and not so good and so cheap that his current team wants to keep him, Tuner would fit in a variety of potential deals.

There’s only one hitch. The Philadelphia 76ers have yet to find any takers.

Well, how about the Charlotte Bobcats?

Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:

The Philadelphia 76ers are open to trading forward Evan Turner and the Charlotte Bobcats have looked into acquiring him, an NBA source confirmed to the Observer Monday.

Nothing about the Bobcats’ interest appears imminent to making a deal.

Especially with Jeff Taylor out for the season, Turner would upgrade Charlotte’s wing depth. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is still a bit of a project, and Chris Douglas-Roberts is a good replacement-level player, but still a replacement-level player.

Consider the Bobcats are in playoff position – by only one game over the Detroit Pistons for the No. 8 seed – they might want to sacrifice the future for the immediate upgrade Tuner could provide.

Here are a couple trades that might make sense for both sides:

1. Turner for Ben Gordon and the Trail Blazers’ first-round pick

Charlotte could have three first-round picks this summer – its own (though it goes to the Bulls if it’s outside the top 10), Detroit’s (top-eight protected) and Portland’s (top-12 protected). The Bobcats’ own first-round pick is likely too valuable to surrender for Turner, as is the Pistons’. The Trail Blazers’ pick, which will almost certainly fall in the 20s and be conveyed this year, seems to be a fair price.

Because the 76ers are under the salary cap, they could take back Gordon’s larger expiring contract in a trade. Perhaps, the Bobcats would have to send Philadelphia cash to neutralize the real-dollar costs of the swap, but Gordon would at least be off the books following this season.

2. Turner and Jason Richardson for Gordon

Richardson, who’s 33 and has missed the entire season due to injury, has a $6,601,125 player option for next season that he’ll almost certainly accept. That’s negative value for any team, especially a rebuilding one like Philadelphia.

Paying Richardson next season would be Charlotte’s tax for getting Turner. The 76ers wouldn’t get any future assets other than a cleaner slate from which to work.

There’s a good chance Philadelphia just lets Turner walk this summer to get that clean slate, anyway. But there’s certainly a team – maybe Charlotte – that value a half-season of production from Turner. The 76ers should cash in on that and get value before losing Turner.

Brett Brown: 76ers’ have just six NBA players

Brett Brown, Daniel Orton

Many advanced stats, in basketball and other sports, rely on a concept called a replacement player. A replacement player is a hypothetical player who can easily be obtained to fill out the roster.

In his definition of an NBA replacement player, Kevin Pelton says a team of replacement players would win 10 games in a season. So, that should show the level of a replacement player is pretty low.

Yet, every season, for one reason or another, there are many NBA players who produce at below replacement levels. This season, it seems many of those sub-replacement-level players will be members of the 76ers.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

Michael Carter-Williams, James Anderson, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, and Spencer Hawes are the clear starters. The second thing is that power forward/center Lavoy Allen is an experienced NBA player who is finding his way back into shape.

“And after that, who knows?” Sixers coach Brett Brown said before Monday’s 104-93 setback to Cleveland in Columbus, Ohio. “You have six NBA players and then you have a bunch of guys who are fighting for spots and want to be seen and need opportunity.”

The former San Antonio Spurs assistant is not including injured players – rookie Nerlens Noel (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and veterans Jason Richardson (knee), Kwame Brown (hamstring), and Arnett Moultrie (ankle). All have guaranteed contracts and are expected make the 15-man roster.

If I were Darius Morris, Tony Wroten or Daniel Orton, I’d be a little perturbed by that comment.

But only a little.

Though Morris, Wroten and Orton played in the NBA last season, they’re not necessarily NBA players anymore. Vander Blue, Mac Koshwal, Gani Lawal , Hollis Thompson, Royce White , Rodney Williams and Khalif Wyatt all want a spot on the roster, and the Riggin’-for-Wiggins 76ers are just the team to accommodate.

This is a large group of flawed players, and Philadelphia will keep whomever it believes can help most down the road. That’s obviously a difficult judgment to make with players like these, so the small margins can matter a great deal.

Experience alone won’t cut it. Brown is in a rare position to demand a lot from a large share of his roster, because the 76ers have relatively few highly paid players. These 10 players are really going to have to bust their hump to make the roster.

As Brown is all too happy to remind them, they’re not really NBA players yet.

Philadelphia 76ers will likely bring 20 players to training camp

Khalif Wyatt, Christian Watford

The Philadelphia 76ers currently have 14 players listed on their roster, though it sounds as though there will be a few more new faces on the team when training camp gets started. As in at least six new faces because new general manager Sam Hinkie would like to take 20 players to training camp and whittle his roster down from there.

NBA teams typically bring in a couple players over the 15-man limit for the purpose of practice bodies or in order to stash certain players on their NBA Development League squads. It’s rare for a team to be able to convince 20 total players that they all have a chance to make a 15-man roster, however, especially if there aren’t any cash incentives to pass up potentially lucrative overseas offers.

Hinkie plans to pull it off, though, according to comments he made to Keith Pompey of the Phiadelphia Inquirer.

“In training camp, you can have up to 20 players,” Hinkie said. “I’m not the kind of guy that you can say that likes to miss out on opportunities. “The chance to have 20 is another chance to learn more about people.”

Pompey reports that Temple standout Khalif Wyatt will likely be one of the training camp invitees vying for a spot on this year’s final roster.

It’s going to be interesting to watch the Sixers roster take form. Along with the slew of training camp invitees Hinkie expects to add, Nerlens Noel and Jason Richardson aren’t going to be ready for the start of the year, Royce White might not be wanted in Philadelphia and both James Anderson and Tim Ohlbrecht are on non-guaranteed contracts after being picked up on waivers from the Houston Rockets earlier this summer.