Tag: Kris Humphries

John Wall, Bradley Beal

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Washington Wizards


Last season: The Wizards went 44-38, their best record since 2004-05. The playoffs were even sweeter. Washington upset the Bulls in the 4-5 matchup and took the Pacers to six games, making it the furthest the Wizards had gone in the postseason since 1979.

John Wall became an All-Star for the first time, and Bradley Beal appeared to be coming into his own during the playoffs.

The Wizards have been trying to win as much as possible as soon as possible for a couple seasons now. Finally, they did it at a satisfactory level.

Signature highlight from last season: Wall has raised his on-court awareness to a whole other level. Where he once attacked with reckless abandon, he’s now setting up Nene for game-winning dunks:

Offseason moves:

Keys to the Wizards season:

Bradley Beal maintaining his place among elite shooting guards:

Beal averaged 19.3 points per game in 11 postseason games. The only other players who averaged at least 17 points per game in as many postseason games:

  • Kevin Durant
  • LeBron James
  • Russell Westbrook
  • LaMarcus Aldridge
  • Blake Griffin
  • Damian Lillard
  • Paul George
  • Joe Johnson
  • Chris Paul
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Tony Parker

Ten of those 11 were All-Stars, and the exception – Russell Westbrook – is a mainstay in the All-Star Game but had been battling injury early this season.

Simply, Beal played like a star in last year’s playoffs. Considering how weak shooting guards are league wide, he’s already in contention to be the best at that position behind James Harden.

But how soon will Beal, just 21, cement his place at or near the top? Was his playoff production a breakthrough or just his best during a small sample?

This season looms large in determining where Beal’s career is headed and how quickly he can get there.

Paul Pierce replacing Trevor Ariza: Trevor Ariza had more win shares than John Wall last season.

That probably reveals a flaw in the stat more than anything, but that Ariza was even so close should make you take a second look at just how good he was. His 3-point shooting gave Washington efficient points and spread the floor for his teammates, and Ariza was Washington’s top wing stopper on the other end.

I expect – though it’s far from a guarantee – the Wizards to take a step back on both sides of the court at small forward with Pierce replacing Ariza, who joined the Rockets.

However, Pierce is a proven winner, 16-year vet and NBA champion. Perhaps, he can teach the young Wizards about competing deep into the playoffs and offset his declining skills. Pierce replacing Ariza is not just about on-court production. It’s about leadership (to be fair, an area Ariza impressed last season). It’s about everything.

For Washington to step forward, it will be hard to absorb a step back at small forward, but that’s definitely possible.

Randy Wittman coaching at this level: Nobody in NBA history has coached as many games and had as bad a winning percentage as Randy Wittman, who holds a 191-329 career record.

Wittman’s reputation as a bad coach is so cemented, he oversaw his team make a 15-win improvement from the year prior without receiving a Coach of the Year vote – a rare distinction.

Is Wittman overlooked? Maybe.

Has Wittman improved? Probably.

Can Wittman guide a team with expectations through the regular season and deep into the playoffs? Um…

Washington’s starters are all signed through 2015-16. If the Wizards don’t build on their momentum and are looking for a way to upgrade, all eyes will turn to the head coach who’s still trying to prove himself.

Nene staying healthy: Since acquiring Nene, the Wizards have gone 63-62 with him and 21-43 without him.

Nene is a good player, but more than that, he’s a vital cog in what Washington does on both ends of the floor. He provides stability, allowing everyone else to fit into the roles that suit them best. When Nene is out, everyone else must compensate by working outside their comfort zones.

I don’t know whether there’s one “right” way to keep Nene healthy, but it’s important. Whatever the Wizards can do – from managing his training to managing his minutes – they should.

Why you should watch: I’d argue nobody in the NBA is faster with the ball, end to end, than John Wall. An enhanced understanding of how to change speeds has made him more effective, but he still turns on the jets from time to time.

Beal could be becoming a star before our eyes, and Nene and Marcin Gortat provide some old-school, two-big, bruising fun inside.

This is one of the East’s most complete teams.

Plus, don’t you want to preview Kevin Durant’s next team?

Prediction: 47-35. Wall predicted the Finals, but that’s overly optimistic in a conference that also features the Cavaliers and Bulls. The Wizards should improve from last season, but the top of the East is better.

There’s no reason Washington can’t emerge as the East’s third-best team, but that’s a deep scrum. If the Wizards get there – after selling some of their long-term upside in order to compete sooner – that should be viewed as a successful season.

Ultimately, I have them falling just short, finishing behind Cleveland, Chicago and Toronto in the pecking order. But Washington is right there.

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Boston Celtics

Rajon Rondo

Last season: The Celtics went 25-57, their worst record and first time out of the playoffs since their championship.

Boston set up its fate by trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce before the season, and Rajon Rondo missing a majority of the year due to injury sealed it.

Brad Stevens worked through his first NBA season and had his team playing hard, but the Celtics just didn’t have enough talent to compete for a playoff spot – even in the East. Brandon Bass was their best player. Let me repeat: Brandon Bass was their best player.

Signature highlight from last season: If you want the Celtics’ best play of the season, it’s Jeff Green catching an inbound with 0.6 seconds remaining and nailing a 3-pointer to beat the Heat:

But if you want the moment that truly captures Boston’s season, it’s Rajon Rondo sitting on the bench and cringing at the box score. The video has been pulled, but he asked for a box score, looked down at it and shuddered. Rondo on the bench, the Celtics losing and their star player unhappy – Boston’s year in a nutshell.

Key offseason moves:

Keys to the Celtics’ season:

Fitting in Rajon Rondo: This starts on the court, where Rondo is an All-Star-caliber guard. He’s an excellent passer, hounding defender and very good rebounder for his position.

But his skills are best used with other good players around him, and the Celtics are woefully short on those – which is why they might trade him.

There was a report Rondo asked to be traded this summer, and of course, denials followed. For now, we’re all in wait-and-see mode.

Rondo’s contract ends after the season, and he’s notoriously prickly, especially when his team is losing. Obviously, that makes him a prime trade candidate.

At this point, Boston will probably keep Rondo to begin the season, but after drafting point guard Marcus Smart at No. 6 and not improving the team in the short term this, the writing is on the wall for a Rondo trade.

Seeing progress from Brad Stevens: On paper, the Celtics lack talent to compete into the postseason.

But so did Butler.

Stevens came to Boston with a great college pedigree. Him translating that to the NBA might be the Celtics’ best chance of defying expectations this season.

If Stevens can implement the sound defensive and offensive systems that worked so well at Butler, Boston will be a very tough out each game. Any feisty team in the East has a chance.

Taking advantage of having a center: Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries often played the pivot for the undermanned Celtics last season. Not only were those players – power forwards by trade – ill-equipped to handle the job, it wore them down.

Humphries left in free agency, but with Tyler Zeller in line to start and Vitor Faverani hopefully healthy enough to back him up, Sullinger and Olynyk can take advantage. Both are skilled bigs, which they can better show if they’re no longer taking such consistent poundings.

Why you should watch: Rondo. Nobody impacts a game quite like him. Whether he’s turning down open shots to make a pass, gambling for steals or crashing the glass, Rondo is a point guard unlike any other. His all-out effort and high awareness give him a unique style.

Plus, watching Rondo is scouting. He might be playing for your favorite team soon.

Prediction: 24-58. Rondo is very good, and Green will have his moments. But I don’t think this team is good enough to be in the playoff race at the trade deadline, and I think that means Rondo gets dealt. The Celtics are probably capable of finishing better than 24-58, but I anticipate trading Rondo will be part of a tanking effort. Smart and Young could get plenty of minutes down the stretch, aiding their development and Boston’s losing. Danny Ainge seems ready to kick rebuilding into full gear.

Report: Wizards close to signing Damion James

New Jersey Nets v Washington Wizards

The Wizards are signing Xavier Silas as their 15th player, but he’ll have to fight to make the regular-season roster.

With 14 guaranteed contracts, Washington has one opening. Silas is seemingly a contender to fill it – and so is Damion James.

J. Michael of CSN Washington:

Training camp opens in two weeks from Tuesday and the Wizards, who can bring in as many as six free agents, have a commitment from Xavier Silas and are close to securing Damion James, CSNwashington.com has confirmed.

James, the No. 24 pick in 2010 out of Texas, spent three seasons with the Nets and then signed late last year with the Spurs. He’s played just a total of 39 games, though he’s provided few signs of encouragement in that span. It’s too soon to close the book on his career, but unless the 26-year-old shows more soon, he’ll stop getting these opportunities.

And I’m not sure how great of an opportunity this is for James. The Wizards have plenty of big-man depth with Marcin Gortat, Nene, Kevin Seraphin, Kris Humphries, Drew Gooden and DeJuan Blair. Washington can use more help at shooting guard, which Silas plays.

Plus, it sounds as if the Wizards might add more players for training camp. James in the mix, but I don’t like his chances.

Report: Celtics trying hard to trade Brandon Bass for value

Brandon Bass, Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston

By trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets and letting Doc Rivers leave for the Clippers, the Celtics headed in a new direction last offseason. Sure enough, Boston went 25-57 and missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years.

Now, with Kevin Love headed to Cleveland, indications are the Celtics will trade Rajon Rondo and fully commit to rebuilding.

Where does that leave Brandon Bass?

Bass, 29, was Boston’s fifth-oldest player last season. Three of the older players – Keith Bogans, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries – came to the Celtics only to make the the Garnet-Pierce trade work financially. The other, Joel Anthony, was also acquired in a salary dump.

Really, Bass – who has a $6.9 million expiring contract – is the only one whose on-court value nears his salary. But it’s also difficult to see him remaining helpful once Boston is ready to win again.

So, you know where this leads.

Zach Lowe of Grantland:

The Celtics have tried like hell, but they can’t get anything of value on the trade market for Brandon Bass

Boston already has a couple young replacements at power forward in Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk. I suspect the Celtics wouldn’t mind giving those two more room to develop.

But they won’t – and shouldn’t – just dump Bass. They can always just let him walk in free agency next summer if it comes to it, though it’s best to get some return now if possible.

Bass is a quality mid-range jumper shooter for his position, but he lacks 3-point range. In today’s NBA – as Lowe thoroughly details in his article – that severely diminishes Bass’ value.

As the trade deadline nears, barring a surprisingly successful season to that point, Boston will only get more desperate to take any return for Bass. In the meantime, Bass has proven himself a consummate professional, even on a bad team. So, there’s no rush to deal him.

If another team offers an asset with future value like a young player or draft pick, the Celtics would likely trade Bass. But they’re not going to just give him away.

Report: Wizards to bring back Kevin Seraphin on $3.8 million qualifying offer

Dewayne Dedmon, Thaddeus Young, Kevin Seraphin

With all the moves the Wizards had made to bring depth to the front line in the past week — Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair, not to mention re-signing Marcin Gortat — it had looked like Kevin Seraphin’s time in the nation’s Capital is done.

Nope. He’ll be back, too.

That according to J. Michael at CSNWashington.com.

Heading into the offseason, the Wizards were intent on finding size. They couldn’t get what they wanted in last month’s draft, and Friday they secured their sixth big when Kevin Seraphin finally signed a one-year, $3.89 million qualifying offer, a person with knowledge of the situation told CSNwashington.com…

The Wizards have 14 players under contract for the 2014-15 season, one shy of the regular season maximum. They’d prefer to keep the final roster spot open, but given their need for more depth at guard this wouldn’t preclude them from making another move. And whether Seraphin is back for the long haul or if this is a move that’s a precursor to another deal by president Ernie Grunfeld remains to be seen.

Seraphin had been a restricted free agent but couldn’t secure a deal with another team and agreed to return to the Wizards this year.

Seraphin will be buried on the depth chart and the Wizards need depth at the guard spot, making this seem more like a move to set up a future trade than a signing meant for this season in Washington.

Seraphin got in 53 games for Washington last year and played less than 11 minutes a contest when he did. The 6’9” power forward played decently when he has gotten in (PER of 12.3), showing off a nice touch around the basket. While the Wizards have concerns about Nene staying healthy, it’s still hard to see Seraphin getting many minutes with Washington’s depth up front. Other teams are often looking for size once camp starts, making Seraphin possible trade bait.