Damian Lillard already had locked up Rookie of the Year honors with his stellar play the first half of the season, and that was long before a deadline deal got him some backcourt help in the form of Eric Maynor, who the team acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Since Maynor’s arrival, Lillard’s numbers have been on the rise, and his play has been even more impressive.
Lillard has seen solid increases in scoring, field goal percentage, and three-point shooting percentage, all because of Maynor’s presence which frees up Lillard from some of the ball-handling responsibilities, and forces the defense to play him straight up instead of constantly trapping him on the perimeter.
It would seem as though Maynor is an excellent fit with Lillard, and the Blazers could make Maynor a qualifying offer this summer in order to retain a right to match any offer he might receive in restricted free agency.
But that isn’t likely to happen, given the relatively small amount of cap space the Blazers have to spend this summer.
Maynor’s qualifying offer is $3.4 million, with a hefty $5.85 million cap hold that would eat a substantial amount of the Blazers’ offseason spending money.
Early reviews suggest that the Blazers and Maynor are a good match. But it seems unlikely the team would mortgage so much of its offseason spending power on a backup point guard. It seems more likely the Blazers will allow Maynor to become an unrestricted free agent and pursue him with the rest of the NBA. It’s the same move the Blazers made last offseason with JJ Hickson and he ended up returning.
Just because it worked with Hickson doesn’t mean it would be the same for the team’s negotiations with Maynor.
However, the situation Maynor has found himself in might be a better match for him than it would be elsewhere — as long as the dollar amount of a new contract in Portland would be similar to the offer he might receive from others.
JJ Hickson has completed a buyout with the Kings, league source tells Y!
The 23-year old Hickson was drafted 19th overall by the Cavaliers in 2008 after his freshman year at North Carolina State. Hickson is a tremendous athlete, showed flashes of brilliance with Cleveland, and even started for the Cavaliers before the team traded for Antawn Jamison at the 2010 trade deadline, but never quite put it all together in Cleveland.
This off-season, the Cavaliers traded Hickson for Omri Casspi and a protected 1st-round pick, and Hickson proceeded to have an abysmal season for the Kings. He averaged just 4.7 points on 37% shooting for the Kings this season, and the Kings bought him out after finding no takers for him at the trade deadline.
Hickson is still very young and very athletic, so the chances that a team will take a flyer on him are decent, but Hickson clearly has a ways to go before becoming an effective NBA player.
J.J. Hickson is not going to go down in history as one of the legends of Israeli basketball.
The Sacramento Kings forward played one game for Bnei Hasharon of Israel but has been released after one game because he was late for a couple practices. Practice? Yes, we’re talkin’ ’bout practice. Noam Schiller, writer for Cowbell Kingdom and follower of the Israeli basketball league, tweeted this.
So, to recap: J.J. Hickson signs in Israel, plays ONE game in which his team loses by 39 points, is late to practice, gets released
Hickson was a -44 in that game.
Playing overseas is not a vacation. For these teams, this is their NBA, the way they make a living. NBA players who come over and treat this as if they were tourists are not going to be tolerated.
J.J. Hickson signs to play in Israel during lockout
You are not going to see a flood of NBA stars headed overseas now that the lockout has gotten ugly. Players talk about it, but most teams have full rosters and the NBA players that have gone overseas have struggled to adjust. Teams are not going to pay big money to NBA guys if they think they can get similar production a lot cheaper.
But there will be some exceptions. Enter J.J. Hickson of the Sacramento Kings, who has signed to play for Bnei Hasharon of Israel until the lockout ends, reports SBN. Hickson will replace (and is an upgrade for) the Wizards Trevor Booker, who got injured playing for the team and will be out a few weeks.
The Kings have big plans for Hickson, whose athleticism at the forward spot with the other young talent in Sacramento — Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins — could be interesting to watch develop. You know, if we ever have a season.
Video: Best plays from week one of Vegas Impact series