Tag: Joe Smith

Keith Smart, DeMarcus Cousins

Owner says Smart will return as Kings coach next season


Keith Smart has seemed to make a connection with the Kings players.

That has not translated to winning yet — since he took over and the team has gone 10-18. But you are seeing better energy and play out of DeMarcus Cousins, you are seeing better defense, you’re seeing a respectable team starting to form. Paul Westphal had lost the Kings, Smart has their attention.

So the Kings are going to keep Smart around. That’s what co-owner Joe Maloof told Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.

“Yes,” Maloof said emphatically when asked if Smart’s option would be picked up. “With no disrespect to our past coaches, we really have someone who everybody likes now. The players like him, the basketball staff likes him, we trust him, and he knows the game. Keith Smart is a wonderful coach, and we’re lucky to have him. … Yes, we’ll pick it up. We want him to be our coach forever.”

Smart deserves the break. He was hired to take over in Golden State right as an ownership change was taking place that forced Don Nelson out. He was in a no man’s land — he was the coach but not the choice of the new front office. He guided the Warriors to a 36-46 record – about exactly what should have been expected out of the roster he was given — then was fired to make way for Mark Jackson.

Then he’s an assistant in Sacramento who gets thrust into the head coaching job following players having tuned out the last coach and the franchise threatening to move. He’s done a good job and with the Kings looking like they are staying in Sacramento Smart deserves the chance to see what he can do with a full season. Looks like he’ll get it.

Video: Joe Smith argues with a pumpkin. Yes, a pumpkin.

Joe Smith
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What, you want another post breaking down the minutia of the NBA lockout? Or, do you want an NBA journeyman and most recent Laker arguing with a pumpkin?

Exactly. So, here you go. Joe Smith arguing with a pumpkin. Enjoy.

Hat tip to The Basketball Jones.

NBA Playoffs: Atlanta takes Game 4, Orlando is still searching

Orlando Magic v Atlanta Hawks - Game Four
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We’re well past a mere first round scare or claims of an “upset alert.” With an 88-85 win in Game 4, the Atlanta Hawks have pushed the fourth-seeded Orlando Magic to the very edge of their playoff lives, a considerable achievement considering the regular season profiles of both teams. The Magic were the league’s fourth best team this season according to efficiency differential (per Hoopdata.com), while the Hawks were merely the 18th best. Atlanta flashed all of the flaws that their ranking would suggest on Sunday night, but it didn’t matter — the Hawks’ Game 4 performance was enough to secure a crucial victory.

The Hawks honestly tried their damnedest to lose this game. They turned the ball over on 15.4 percent of their possessions. Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford tried to lock out the rest of their teammates on offense. Josh Smith pulled himself up by the net to chase a blocked shot, which resulted in an automatic goaltending violation — just one of his many head-scratching plays. With 28 seconds remaining in the game and holding just a three-point advantage, Crawford hijacked control of the ball and forced his team into a shot clock violation. One could go on and on with Atlanta’s blunders, but none of it would mean a damn thing; the Hawks made all of those mistakes and then some, and still pulled within a single victory of the second round.

In Game 4, the shot creation issues that have plagued the Magic throughout the entire series were exacerbated by a complete inability among Orlando’s players (save Dwight Howard and Gilbert Arenas) to connect on even their uncontested shot attempts. Jason Richardson’s absence hurt, if only because it’s hard to imagine that he would have played worse than Hedo Turkoglu (six points, 2-12 FG) or J.J. Redick (two points, 0-6 FG). Gilbert Arenas came back from the dead to contribute 20 points (on 18 shots) to complement Dwight Howard’s 29 points and 17 rebounds, but the rest of the Magic shot an atrocious 27.7 percent from the field, and a frankly amazing 1-of-20 from three-point range. Orlando isn’t an elite offensive team by any means, but they’re sinking lower and lower into the doldrums with every game. It’s widely known that Howard is the only standout defensive player on the roster, but he may be the only standout offensive player, too.

The Magic aren’t quite hopeless, but they haven’t yet demonstrated the ability to win this series. The defense has been up to par, but scoring at a rate of 93.4 points per 100 possessions (Orlando’s woeful offensive efficiency in Game 4) isn’t going to cut it. Unfortunately, Orlando doesn’t have many readily accessible avenues to efficient scoring. Jason Richardson is a genuine help, but he hasn’t established a game-changing precedent in this year’s playoffs; Richardson has largely been interchangeable with his ineffective perimeter-oriented teammates.

So where, really can Orlando turn for more offensive production? Arenas’ Game 4 outburst was nice for the Magic, but depending on Gil is a mistake given his disappointing play this season. Nelson and Turkoglu have proven completely inadequate as Howard sidekicks. Redick and Ryan Anderson can’t capitalize on their opportunities. Brandon Bass has been decent (relatively speaking), but can’t generate the scoring output that Orlando needs. Stan Van Gundy is undoubtedly kept up late at night pondering the best ways to maximize this roster’s offensive potential, but there’s no easy cure for his insomnia. The Magic defense has been there (and held the Hawks to 96.7 points per 100 possessions in Game 4), but no Magic player except for Dwight Howard could — or can — score with any consistency. Orlando’s collective fate isn’t yet sealed, but it may as well be; the skill sets of Orlando’s players aren’t likely to change between now and Game 5, which leaves precious few possibilities for the Magic’s revival.

It’s December 15, so who is going to get traded?

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Starting as of now, players signed to free agent contracts over the summer can be included in trades.

Basically, guys where fans said in August “he is really going to help us” that have become “guys we should move to get something useful for.” Those guys.

Ira Winderman gave us a list of eight last week that could be moved and one of them was the Nets Joe Smith. Who today will be moved to the Lakers as part of a three-team deal.

So who else should you be looking to get moved? Here’s a list. We like lists.

• Randy Foye (Clippers): A solid guard off the bench who can play the one or the two.

• Luke Ridnour (Timberwolves): A solid playmaking point guard who would make a quality backup for a lot of teams. He is in the first year of a three-year, $12 million deal.

• Anthony Tolliver (Timberwolves): He’s injured right now but when healthy is playing behind Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and Darko (or should be Kurt Rambis, should be). Good big man insurance for some team.

• Ryan Gomes (Clippers): Again a solid backup at the three — who can hit the three — that has not been a favorite of Vinny Del Negro but could find a home somewhere.

• Anthony Carter (Nuggets): There will be interest here, but the question is are the Nuggets keeping Chauncey Billups if they move Carmelo Anthony? If Billups goes Carter may get more run. If not they may move him.

• Chris Duhon (Magic): They have two decent backups to Jameer Nelson (Jason Williams is the other) and if Orland is going to make a move Duhon (or maybe Williams) is a likely part of that deal.

• Anthony Morrow (Nets): Basically, anyone not named Harris or Lopez could get traded from the Nets right now.

• Hakim Warrick (Suns): They may not make the playoffs and have an owner who likes to save money (even in comparison to other owners, who all like to save money). If they are out of it the Suns could start dealing.

• Brendan Haywood (Mavericks): Tyson Chandler’s emergence makes him expendable, but good luck getting someone to take on that five-year contract.

Eddie House (Heat): There are other three point shooters on that roster, particularly once Mike Miller comes back, so the Heat may look to make a move. He only makes $1.35 million, so he’s not bringing a lot back, but it could happen.

What the three-team trade really says: The Nets want Melo

Denver Nuggets v Charlotte Bobcats
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Step back and look at the Nets/Lakers/Rockets trade that is all but official — Terrence Williams is tweeting about his new home already — and one thing jumps out:

The Nets are really serious about getting Carmelo Anthony.

The Lakers get cap relief and another big man in case their good ones get hurt again. The Rockets roll the dice on a talented wing player who was deep in Avery Johnson’s doghouse. Both get a nice win in the deal.

The Nets get a little win that they want to turn into a big, big win.

This trade gives the Nets two more first round picks — the Rockets pick in 2012, and the Lakers pick in the upcoming 2011 draft, which will be late in the first round and not tremendously valuable — as well as another expiring contract in Sasha Vujacic to move. Oh, he can shoot a little too, I guess.

Those are assets the Nets can use in any trade — and GM Billy King has said he wants to make multiple moves — but still when you talk Nets trades your are really talking about Carmelo. He is the big fish.

Tomorrow’s trade — which becomes official once Joe Smith can be moved — means the Nets can now offer young up-and-coming forward Derrick Favors, expiring contracts in Troy Murphy and Vujacic, plus a bevy of first round picks for Anthony. Denver is not likely to find a better deal unless Mark Cuban goes drunk trading one night.

Especially compared to the Knicks shrinking offer — that Houston first rounder was the one New York was rumored to have a deal in place for, so they could sweeten their offer to Denver. The Nets pulled that rug out from under their growing rivals.

Two other points here.

One is the ultimate stumbling block for the Nets remains would Anthony sign an extension in New Jersey? Did his people give a serious it Knicks-or-bust ultimatum? Depends on who you ask, with multiple reports on both sides from respectable sources. Chatter behind the scenes is also conflicted. Choose to believe what you want, but this remains the big question.

Secondly, is this really a good trade for New Jersey? Carmelo Anthony is not a guy like Chris Paul who comes in and starts creating for others, he comes in and takes a lot of long, contested two pointers, drives the lane some but doesn’t dish much, and his touches take the ball out of the hands of Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. Anthony can score but he is not much of a defender. You can market him but will Avery Johnson really like and want him? There are very smart Nets fans who say it’s not worth it, the price of Favors and picks is too high.

Clearly the Nets management is not thinking that way. Unless they don’t get Melo to come, in which case that will be their spin.