Tag: Marco Belinelli

Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings

Omri Casspi says Kings going in right direction, can make playoffs in West


On paper, and with a little luck, the Kings look like a pretty good team — Rajon Rondo running the point, Rudy Gay on the wing, and DeMarcus Cousins in the paint anchoring it all. Add a coach who gets teams to rack up wins in George Karl and some solid veteran role players (Kosta K0ufos, Caron Butler, Marco Belinelli, etc.) and there is some potential.

In reality, this is what even Karl called a “combustible” mix. There are players with a lot of different styles and big egos that have to come together on this team — maybe they can bond over a hatred of Karl? — and the organization, to put it kindly, has not been a model of stability. This team can go a lot of different directions next season.

Omri Casspi, who chose to re-sign with the Kings this summer, thinks the Kings are a playoff team. He believes this is a team on the rise with a shot at the playoffs, he told James Herbert of CBSSports.com.

I like Sacramento. I felt like I had a really good connection with the coach last year. I feel like the direction of the team is going, it’s finally moving and getting some speed in the right direction. I feel like we have a good team. I felt I want to be a part of something that’s growing and competing for the playoffs next year and being in the playoffs, putting ourselves in a position to win championships. And I didn’t want to leave. I trust our organization, I trust our coaches. We have the best center in the league. Obviously we’re going in the right direction.

I’m not sure I’d go with the word “obvious,” but people around the Kings believe it. We’ll see if they can prove it once the games start — making the playoffs in the West is a lofty goal for a team that was 16 games out of the eight seed a year ago. It’s a brutal conference where teams like Dallas, Utah, and Phoenix could all be in the mix for one final playoff spot. Sacramento fancies itself in that group.

Casspi also talked about his connection with DeMarcus Cousins (who traveled with Casspi back to Israel this summer for an NBA Cares event and some bonding).

Me and DeMarcus met, it was my second year and it was his first. We had a good connection, you know? It’s like with your family; you can tell them everything. They trust you and you trust them in the same way. If you do something wrong, they’ll tell you and vice versa. He came all the way from the United States to see my family and meet my family. Seeing him having dinner and talking to my mom and dad and my sister … we have a special bond and I love him. So he’s my brother.


What NBA stars will suit up for EuroBasket? Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others

pau gasol spain olympics

EuroBasket matters — it offers both the bragging rights of a European championship and is the 2016 Olympic qualifier for Europe. The top two finishers get their tickets punched for Rio for the 2016 games (the USA and Brazil have already qualified). Finishers three through seven get invited to the 2016 pre-Olympics qualifying tournament, where they can try to play their way into the final field of 12 (likely a couple of them succeed).

Because it matters, some of the NBA’s big names will suit up when play tips off Sept. 5 —  Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others. There are 29 players under NBA contract in total expected to participate. Mark Cuban and many NBA GMs will watch clutching their lucky blanket and hoping against injury, but this is the kind of tournament that draws stars.

If you’ve wondered who is going, here’s a list of every NBA player suiting up in EuroBasket, hat tip to Hoopshype.

Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn Nets)
Mario Hezonja (Orlando Magic)
Damjan Rudez (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Alexis Ajinca (New Orleans Pelicans)
Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets)
Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs)
Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic)
Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
Joffrey Lauvergne (Denver Nuggets)
Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs)

Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
Tibor Pleiss (Utah Jazz)
Dennis Schroeder (Atlanta Hawks)

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
Kosta Koufos (Sacramento Kings)
Kostas Papanikolaou (Denver Nuggets)

Andrea Bargnani (Brooklyn Nets)
Marco Belinelli (Sacramento Kings)
Danilo Gallinari (Denver Nuggets)

Omri Casspi (Sacramento Kings)

Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto Raptors)

Marcin Gortat (Washington Wizards)

Zaza Pachulia (Dallas Mavericks)

Nemanja Bjelica (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls)
Nikola Mirotic (Chicago Bulls)

Furkan Aldemir (Philadelphia 76ers)
Ersan Ilyasova (Detroit Pistons)

Alex Len (Phoenix Suns)

Report: Spurs signing undrafted Keifer Sykes

Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks
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The Spurs had to sacrifice some depth – Tiago Splitter, Cory Joseph, Marco Belinelli, Aron Baynes – to sign LaMarcus Aldridge and build one of the NBA’s strongest teams.

That has left San Antonio needing the preseason to round out its roster. The Spurs have:

  • 13 players whose salaries are fully guaranteed
  • 2 players whose salaries are mostly guaranteed (Matt Bonner and Jimmer Fredette)
  • 1 player whose salary is unguaranteed (Reggie Williams)
  • 1 player whose guarantee is unknown but probably low (Youssou Ndoye)

San Antonio is adding another player to the mix.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

Sykes is quick and explosive, and he uses those skills well to get the basket and pester opponents defensively. But he also has to maximize his athleticism, because he’s just 6-foot and not a good outside shooter.

He’ll have a tough time making the team, because the Spurs are loaded at point guard with Tony Parker, Patty Mills and Ray McCallum. All three already have fully guaranteed salaries. Most likely, Sykes gets waived and has his D-League rights assigned to San Antonio’s affiliate, the Austin Spurs.

Still, San Antonio’s roster instability gives Sykes at least a chance to make a strong impression and land a spot on the parent club.

Gregg Popovich discusses three-point shot, changing roles for bigs in NBA

2014 NBA Global Games - Berlin

It’s changed. Charles Barkley may not want to hear it, but the NBA has changed. Call it small ball, call them “jump shooting teams,” or define it how you want, the three-pointer has become a cornerstone part of a modern NBA offense. It’s an evolution, an adaptation in part due to changes in the game’s rules and how they’re enforced.

There’s no better example of that evolution than Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. When he and the Spurs won their first title in 1999, it was about getting the ball inside to Tim Duncan and David Robinson,. Those Spurs attempted 10.4 threes per game and hit just 33 percent of them. The 2014 title Spurs, on the other hand, attempted 21.4 threes per game and hit 39.7 percent of them. Duncan was still there, still the keystone to the arch, but the roster was loaded with guys like Danny Green and Marco Belinelli, who were there to knock down the three ball specifically (and Tony Parker, who is there to penetrate then kick out to those shooters).

Popovich did a rare 25-minute interview with former NBA player Tom Tolbert of KNBR, and Pop talked openly about the evolution of the game (hat tip to Uproxx for the transcription).

“You pay the price if you don’t make threes, and you pay the price if you don’t get those threes off. One way that big guys are gonna still be valuable is if you have a big guy that demands a double-team. If you have a big guy that you don’t have to double-team? You’re in trouble. But if you got a big guy, he better be somebody who is good enough that he commands a double so it can get kicked, and moved, and you can penetrate or pitch for the threes.

[The three-pointer] is so much more valuable than a two-pointer that you can’t ignore it. So, you try to have a balance between penetrating and [jump-shooting]. But when you penetrate you always think about kicking it to that uncontested three-point guy. So, what we’re doin’ now isn’t gonna change a whole lot across the league because of that three-point line.”

It took a few things for the three pointer to become this much more valuable in the NBA. The first part was to have more guys who could make the shot — when it was introduced in 1979 guys in the NBA had grown up getting yelled at by their coaches if they shot from that far away from the basket. Why reduce the odds of making the bucket when it counted the same as a shot that was closer? Today’s NBA is full of guys who grew up knowing that shot had value in an extra point if they could hit it, so they grew up practicing it and with coaches who encouraged it.

Then the NBA adapted their defensive rules to allow a zone to be played (although with a defensive three-second rule, unlike other levels of basketball). This reduced the advantage of just throwing the ball into the post to a big man because the double team could already be on him, not having to come at him from an angle he could see. Out of that grew the Tom Thibodeau overload (or whatever term you wish to use) defense, which put an extra defender on the strong side with the ball (usually a big man on the edge of the block), reducing the advantage of isolation basketball players on the wings because their path to the basket was clogged. One of the key counters to that is to quickly move the ball from strong to weak before the defense could react (or drive and draw the defense, and then kick out to the weak side), and if you could get the ball to the weakside and to a three point shooter, you had an extra point coming. (Another counter to the classic Thibodeau style defense is to attack from the top rather than the wings, think Golden State Warriors.)

Phil Jackson isn’t wrong in the sense that teams need to have penetration still to make and offense work, that things need to flow inside out to get good looks at threes. It’s just how you need to get those has evolved; you can’t just throw the rock into Shaq in the post and think he’ll be single-covered by Vlade Divac anymore. It’s an evolution (if you think it’s better or worse, that’s a value judgment you put on it, nothing more).

And nobody has evolved like Gregg Popovich.

Spurs give Jimmer Fredette training camp contract, chance to make roster

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Clippers

The San Antonio Spurs and their system have revived the careers of many shooters — the Spurs don’t ask them to do anything but play to their strengths. Marco Belinelli was just the most recent.

Now Jimmer Fredette will get his chance.

The Spurs and Fredette have reached a deal, something first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. The Spurs themselves have since confirmed the deal is done.

The cult of Jimmer may have shrunk, but it still exists — there are people convinced that Fredette would be an NBA star if he just got a chance. The reality is he’s had a lot of chances with different coaches and different styles, and he has not been able to flourish in any of it. For good reasons. He can shoot the rock — he’s a career 38.1 percent from three, although that fell to 18.8 percent last season in New Orleans — but he’s not the point guard/playmaker at the NBA level he thinks he can be. However, the bigger problem has been at the other end of the court — the second he steps on the court other teams go at his defense. That has limited when and where coaches will use him.

There is no better place, no better system to change that narrative around in than San Antonio. The Spurs make shooters look good, Fredette is going to get his chance. His best chance. But he’s going to have to play better than he has at any other stop to make this work.