Tag: New Jersey Nets

Jerry Stackhouse

Stackhouse out at least a week with sore knees. Stunning.


Jerry Stackhouse is going to be out seven to 10 days due to sore knees, tweets Howard Beck of the New York Times.

In other news, we checked this morning and the Vatican reports the Pope remains Catholic. Also, we can report sun rose in the East and experts at JPL continue to predict it will set in the West.

Stackhouse signed with the Nets this summer because they didn’t want the Knicks to hog all the older NBA players for their bench. I think that’s the reason, I’m not sure what other one there could be. Stack is a veteran popular in the locker room with teammates but the NBA game passed him by about four seasons ago. Plus he has battled injuries, something that has continued into the preseason.

But Brooklyn has him this year and I imagine we can expect more of this.

Odds on NBA MVP (yes, LeBron leads), Rookie of Year

James of the U.S. hugs teammate Durant after their game against Lithuania at their men's preliminary round Group A basketball match at the Basketball Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games

If you don’t have LeBron James, Kevin Durant on top of your “most likely to win the MVP” list you’re doing it wrong.

Professional odds makers don’t do it wrong. So when the guys at offshore book Bovada put together a list, you know who is at the top. But the real value is farther down the list. Here is their top 15.

LeBron James (MIA) 9/5
Kevin Durant (OKC) 15/4
Kobe Bryant (LAL) 12/1
Russell Westbrook (OKC) 16/1
Dwight Howard (LAL) 16/1
Steve Nash (LAL) 16/1
Chris Paul (LAC) 20/1
Kevin Love (MIN) 20/1
Dwyane Wade (MIA) 22/1
Deron Williams (BK) 25/1
Blake Griffin (LAC) 25/1
Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 25/1
Tony Parker (SAN) 25/1
Rajon Rondo (BOS) 28/1
Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) 30/1

Personally, I think this is going to be Durant’s year, and at nearly 4-1 the return isn’t bad. But if you’re looking for more value I think Chris Paul is going to have a monster season — it’s the last year of his contract, but more than that there is a real chip on the shoulder of the Clippers to show they shouldn’t be overlooked in Los Angeles. The problem for Paul is his gifts — the ability to control the tempo of a game, to be a floor general — can get lost on voters just looking at stats.

If you were going to bet on Derrick Rose in a year he is not going to play until around the All-Star Break at best coming off an ACL injury, do us all a favor and donate that money to the charity of your choice. At least there it will do some good.

Next up, here are Bovada’s odds o win Rookie of the Year:

Anthony Davis (NO) 19/10
Damian Lillard (POR) 11/2
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA) 9/1
Thomas Robinson (SAC) 19/2
Bradley Beal (WAS) 10/1
Harrison Barnes (GSW) 12/1
Jonas Valanciunas (TOR) 12/1
Dion Waiters (CLE) 15/1
Jeremy Lamb (HOU) 20/1
John Henson (MIL) 25/1
Kendall Marshall (PHO) 25/1
Marquis Teague (CHI) 25/1
John Jenkins (ATL) 25/1
Royce White (HOU) 25/1
Andre Drummond (DET) 30/1

I’ve said before I am picking Lillard to win this and if he does he will pay betters pretty well. But I also like Harrison Barnes’ chances and I think Andre Drummond, who has looked good in the preseason, is a great long shot bet.

Not that we recommend you bet. This is all just in good fun. For discussion. Unless you live in Las Vegas then do what you want.

NBA season preview: Phoenix Suns

Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns

Last Season: We could talk about the slow start, the impressive run in the season’s second half, or the eventual finish two games outside of the playoff picture. But all anyone in Phoenix will ultimately remember about the 2011-12 campaign is that it was the last time they would witness the on-court brilliance of Steve Nash while he was still a member of the Suns.

Key Departures: The face of the franchise and the team finally parted ways, after an eight-year run that gave fans more than their fair share of memorable moments. Nash’s departure certainly wasn’t unexpected, as the team had gone as far as it could with its former two-time MVP orchestrating the offense on every meaningful possession. But insult may have been added to Phoenix fans’ misery when Nash ended up in Los Angeles playing for the hated Lakers, whether it was the right move for the franchise or not.

Nash wasn’t the only cornerstone to leave. Grant Hill also ended up in L.A., albeit with the city’s far less-inflammatory version of an NBA team: the Clippers. Other departed players include Robin Lopez, a project whom the team decided to give up on, as well as deep bench players in Michael Redd, Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick, and Ronnie Price.

Channing Frye isn’t gone, but he’s out for at least the season after an enlarged heart condition was discovered during a routine training camp physical.

Key Additions: The Suns didn’t hesitate in replacing Nash, and did so by bringing back a familiar face. Goran Dragic returned to Phoenix in free agency, after being unceremoniously traded out of town by the same Suns franchise just two seasons before. Michael Beasley was acquired from Minnesota, as was Wesley Johnson. Luis Scola was picked up off the amnesty wire after Houston decided it wasn’t interested in competing any longer, the team added veteran big man Jermaine O’Neal, and grabbed point guard Kendall Marshall with the 13th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft.

Three keys to the Suns season:

1) I know the pieces fit, ’cause I watched them fall away*: This must be Alvin Gentry’s mantra heading into a transitional season. The team’s head coach is now entering his fifth year in that role, although his contract is currently set to end once the year is finished. Gentry has seen the good and the bad with this Suns team — he’s made it through the star-studded Shaquille O’Neal years, has taken the team to the Western Conference Finals, and has barely missed the playoffs a couple of times.

Now that Nash is gone, Gentry will have to make the new pieces fit into a cohesive unit — a challenge to be sure, but not impossible given the talent on the roster. The staring five should be able to compete with all but the league’s elite on most nights, and finding the right rotations to keep the game close with the reserves is something that’s more than possible considering the veteran NBA leader’s skill set.

2) It’s all about chemistry: There are a lot of new faces on this Suns roster; it’s truly a team in transition. Jared Dudley is the longest tenured team member at this point, and he has the personality to help congeal his new teammates into a group that can be productive together on the basketball court. But essentially, these guys don’t know each other. Once you get past Dudley, Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown, and Sebastian Telfair, it’s a whole new group of guys. You don’t just wake up one day knowing how to play with one another, and how quickly these players are able to come together will go a long way in determining their success this season.

3) Maximizing Marcin Gortat: Gortat can be a beast of a low post player, a strong pick-and-roll finisher, and a serviceable rim protector. But all of that depends on how he’s used. Last season, he flirted with All-Star numbers at the break thanks to a heavy dose of finishes out of the pick-and-roll with Steve Nash. Early on it doesn’t appear that Gortat will be afforded the same high volume of pick-and-roll opportunities that he received a season ago, so the team will need to find new ways to utilize his skill set and keep him engaged offensively.

The good news about Gortat is, if things aren’t going his way, or he feels he’s not getting the opportunities he should, he’ll let us know about it. He’s one of the most open and honest players in the game — not to the detriment of the team or in a complaining capacity, but simply from a standpoint of the facts as he sees them. So, either way — good times.

*It seemed fitting to quote lyrics from a Tool song in a Suns post at some point, since I met the band’s drummer — Danny Carey — in the team’s locker room during the Shaquille O’Neal era back in December of 2008. Better late than never.

What Suns fans should fear: This is completely dependent on your team-building philosophy. If you’re of the belief that a team needs to be blown up to try to rebuild through the draft, then your fear is that this team sneaks into the playoffs. If you simply want to see the team compete at the highest level, then you’re rooting for an eight seed, just to see what happens.

The good news for Suns fans is that there really are no worries with this year’s squad — there are certainly no championship aspirations, so just enjoy the ride, and hope for the best. Oh, and hope that whatever happens, it’s good enough for the franchise to sign Gentry to a new long-term contract.

Prediction: The Suns should compete on most nights, but the lack of depth should be problematic to the point that it will jeopardize the club’s ability to win on a consistent basis. Shooting for the eighth seed will be the priority, but it will be tough to get there given the level of talent on the competing teams in the Western Conference.

NBA season preview: L.A. Clippers

Blake Griffin, Chris Paul

Last Season: Perhaps it was the start of a cultural change in Clipperland, or maybe it was simply the beginning of a very short-term spike of relative success. Either way, your 2011-12 Clippers were competitive, fun to watch, and a team that made its way into the playoffs — three qualities that have been completely absent from the team for most of its tortured existence.

Key Departures: Randy Foye was serviceable as a starter for most of the season, and the rest of the dearly departed — Mo Williams, Nick Young, Kenyon Martin, and Reggie Evans — made up the majority of the contributions off the bench.

Key Additions: The combination of Lamar Odom (one year removed from receiving the league’s Sixth Man honor), Grant Hill (an excellent on-ball defender and still a top fast break finisher), and Jamal Crawford (instant offense, or at least instant shot attempts) should be immediately better than the combination of players who filled those minutes a season ago. But the biggest addition might be that of a healthy Chauncey Billups, who was lost to injury early in last season’s campaign. Offense was the Clippers’ strength last year, but they should be even better with this group heading into this season.

Three keys to the Clippers season:

1) The evolution of Blake Griffin. There’s no question that Griffin is one of the most powerful and athletic players in game today. His dunks are already the stuff of legend, and his physical style of play is both effective for his team and aggravating for opposing players (see: Cousins, DeMarcus). If Griffin can extend the range on his jumper and be a better positional team defender, those things will do wonders for the Clippers’ chances to compete with the league’s elite.

2) Chauncey Billups playing alongside Chris Paul. The return of Billups should be a huge boost to the Clippers offensively. However, there is a little issue here, and that’s the fact that Billups likes to play with the ball in his hands. Paul is one of the game’s elite point guards, and he was the one most responsible for guiding the team’s explosive offense a season ago. Billups will need to slide into the two-guard role without kicking and screaming, and when he does have the ball, he’ll need to show patience instead of constantly looking to launch as many three-pointers as humanly possible.

3) Which Lamar Odom shows up? The reality show aspect of Odom’s persona worked out just fine for the Lakers, but that, along with some other much more serious family issues, eventually took their emotional toll on the mercurial one whose unique skill set makes his potential team contributions almost limitless. After a season where he essentially sat out in Dallas, we’ll see if Odom’s head is in the right place, and if he is able to get back into peak physical condition to be able to contribute as we all know he can. It was a calculated risk for the Clippers to bring him back, but one that’s really all upside.

What Clipers fans should fear: This season couldn’t be more crucial for the immediate, long-term future of the franchise. A dramatic statement, sure — but one based in fact. Consider that Vinny Del Negro is in the final year of his head coaching contract, and that not many observers believe he’s strong enough to lead a talented team to the next level. How he does managing this veteran squad will go a long way in whether or not he’s asked back. But more importantly, his relative success will undoubtedly affect the decision of Chris Paul, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.

If Del Negro underachieves with this group, Paul — as much as he says he likes L.A. and wants to stay — will surely consider other options. The super-team model in the NBA isn’t going away anytime soon, and while the Clippers have plenty of talent on paper, the grass can always seem greener unless winning goes along with playing in that comfortable large market, and all of the ancillary benefits it can provide.

Prediction: A top-four seed in the Western Conference playoffs should be an attainable goal for this team, especially with the talent upgrade it was able to pull off this summer. But it won’t be easy or guaranteed, with teams like San Antonio, Denver, and Memphis right there in the mix behind the Lakers and Thunder juggernauts. A three-seed out West at best, a six-seed at worst.

Deron Williams, A.J. Price have some words (and a push)

Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets

A.J. Price was back in his native New York (he’s a Long Island guy) last night as the starting point guard of the Washington Wizards. He’s only starting because John Wall is injured, but he was starting nonetheless and he had some of friends in the Barclays’ Arena in Brooklyn for a preseason game against the Nets.

Which means his ego was involved and he was trying to put on a show. That led to him getting in Deron Williams face. Which Williams found kind of amusing. The video is above (hat tip to SLAM for it).

After the game, Williams smacked Price a little and let him know where he was playing. From the New York Post.

“He started talking for no reason,” Williams said. “I didn’t do anything. He said, ‘I’m home.’ I don’t know what that means.

“I guess he had some boys in the crowd that he wanted to impress or something like that while he can with the little minutes he’s going to get this year.

“[I told him] it’s my home now.”

It’s starting to sound like an Under Armour commercial where Williams starts yelling “I will defend this house!” So we’ll just leave it there.

But that’s about as intense as preseason games will ever get. Which really isn’t much, but we’re ready for some basketball with passion and meaning, so we’ll take it.