Tag: New Jersey Nets

Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson wants it made known that he didn’t ask to be traded from Atlanta


Joe Johnson was the face of the Hawks for over half-a-decade. He as a six-time All-Star with Atlanta, and in retrospect, took them to a level of respectability that gets overlooked because of how tough his era turned out to be. Now that he’s in Brooklyn, apparently everyone’s asking him why he decided to bail on his team. ESPN New York reports that Johnson’s answer is simple. He didn’t.

“Everybody thinks I made this trade,” the Nets’ shooting guard said. “I had nothing to do with it.

“Every time I run into somebody when I’m in Atlanta, they ask me, ‘Why did you leave?’

I didn’t have nothing to do with it. I’m just glad that I came to a great organization and a team who wants to win.”

via Joe Johnson: I didn’t burn Atlanta – Brooklyn Nets Blog – ESPN New York.

That may be the most amazing thing about how the Nets put together this team. Deron Williams didn’t want a trade to the Nets. But they sold him on Brooklyn. Joe Johnson didn’t want out of Atlanta, but they brought him in and got him to buy in. Gerald Wallace wasn’t shopping for New York real estate, but again, got him to believe in what they’re building. They jerked around Brook Lopez for a year with trade rumors, and he still re-signed with the club.

Say what you want about the luxury tax implications, top level of talent, flexibility and defense of the Nets, but they have managed to convince the players that what they have going on at Barclays is worth being a part, of and they did it before Barclays was even finished getting built.

For Hawks fans, it’s a reminder that Johnson, for all his faults, never demanded top money, he earned it on the free market, and never bailed on the team. It’s for the best that he’s gone, but his time should probably be remembered more fondly than it will be.

Thursday And-1 link: News, notes from around NBA camps

Lakers new guard Steve Nash of Canada smiles as he walks past Kobe Bryant during NBA media day for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team in Los Angeles

Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

• It was news when Kobe Bryant said this was the most talented Lakers team he’d ever been on. When Steve Nash says the same thing… yup, that’s pretty much true. Can’t really argue it.

• Stephen Jackson, sixth man? Maybe. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said the season will start that way.

• DeAndre Jordan has reported to Clippers training camp 30 pounds lighter than he finished last season. Which is good for the Clippers, he is a huge key for them this season, they can’t bench him in the playoffs like they did for Reggie Evans last season.

• Since we’re talking Clippers, here is Blake Griffin talking about how the team has become a free agent destination.

• Here’s the story of how Boyz II Men helped Michael Jordan and Nike sell a lot of shoes.

• Jason Kidd compares Carmelo Anthony to Dirk Nowitzki. I’m not even going to waste the bandwidth to shoot that one down.

• George Karl said Thursday that Kosta Koufos had been the best big man in camp. That would not be JaVale McGee.

Scott Brooks is saying the backup point guard battle between Eric Maynor and Reggie Jackson is wide open.

• Goran Dragic’s ankle injury will keep him out of the team’s scrimmage Saturday.

• The Toronto Raptors are going to take it slow with bringing back Jonas Valanciunas. But he could be playing by this weekend.

• After missing a day, Andray Blatche is back in practice.

• J.R. Smith showing up in a hip-hop music video as the love interest. So, be prepared to suspend your belief in reality.

• If you didn’t see the ESPN 30 for 30 production “Broke” about pro athletes who burn through their earnings, find it and tune in. It’s really fantastic. But I’m not sure Delonte West really got the message.

• Along those “Broke” lines, here is Antoine Walker talking on ESPN about how he burned through $111 million in career earnings.

• So who is the Magic’s new starting center? For the first exhibition (in Mexico City), Gustavo Ayón will start.

• No shock here, but starting at the point for the Bulls will be Kirk Hinrich.

• I am seriously excited to see the new “Lincoln” film.

• The Timberwolves held Malcolm Lee out of Thursday’s practice because of a mild groin injury.

• Forum Blue & Gold is looking at the greatest Lakers role players in history.

• Ernest Hemingway talks flopping in the NBA.

Some things never change: Shaq, Howard still feuding

Dwight Howard Shaquille O'Neal

New city, same story.

Dwight Howard is now with the Lakers but that hasn’t changed Shaquille’s O’Neal’s feelings about him. Shaq doesn’t like him. Maybe it’s the silly Superman thing, maybe it’s that Dwight took the mantle from Shaq as best center in the game as Shaq’s career wound down, but they don’t get along.

So this time it started with Shaq spouting off to ESPNNewYork.com.

“Dwight Howard, who’s a pick-and-roll player, some people say he’s the best center in the league, but me being an old-school center, I’m going to go with Robin Lopez and Andrew Bynum because they play with their back to the basket.”

Robin Lopez? Sideshow Bob Lopez?

“Brook. Same thing. They’re brothers.”

That is your highly paid, widely watched NBA television analyst everybody. Shaq added:

“Like if you want to go to go to flash and dunking and the pick and roll, you gotta go with Dwight Howard. But me, the last true original dundaughta (slang for big timer), I’m going with Andrew Bynum and which Lopez? Brook. Brook Lopez.”

Did Shaq just complain about Howard dunking too much? Pot, meet kettle. Also, I’m not sure a true center should be bad at the pick and roll… oh, why bother. There is no logic, it’s just personal.

Anyway, after Lakers practice on Thursday Dwight Howard fired back. Via the Los Angeles Times.

“I don’t care what Shaq says,” Howard said flatly after Lakers practice Thursday. “Shaq played the game and he is done. It’s time to move on. He hated the fact when he played that older guys were talking about him and how he played. Now he’s doing the exact same thing. Just let it go. There’s no sense for him to be talking trash to me. He did his thing in the league. Sit back and relax. Your time is up.”

So, Shaq’s Laker jersey retirement April 2, that should be fun.

Just to try and use some fact’s in this debate: Last season Dwight Howard got 57.5 percent of his possessions in the post, just 8.9 percent as role man on the pick-and-role. After the post, his second highest ways of getting a shot was off an offensive rebound (12 percent). Shaq had moves in the post, but anyone who has watched Howard in the past three years knows he has developed jump hooks and some counter moves to get good looks.

And the dunk remains the most efficient shot in basketball. If Howard gets five a game, that’s good for the Lakers.

Can we move on from this silly Hatfields vs. McCoys feud now?

Dirk Nowitzki calls flopping fines “a bunch of crap”


The new fines for flopping announced by the league are not very popular in Dallas.

First Mavericks owner Mark Cuban questioned the impact of the fines and what the fallout would be, and now Dirk Nowitzki has come out and questioned how the league will enforce the rules. From the Dallas Morning News (hat tip to SLAM):

“I never looked at myself as a big flopper,’’ Nowitzki said Thursday after the Mavericks arrived in Germany for their preseason opener on Saturday. “If you play me physical then, obviously, I got to sell the call and get to the (free-throw) line. That’s just part of the game. We’ll have to see how they enforce that.

“I think it’s a bunch of crap to be honest with you. Are they going to come back after a game and fine you for flopping? That’s tough to do to me.’’

Nowitzki, like Blake Griffin before him, is hitting on the key here — how will this be enforced? Where are the lines going to be drawn? It’s easy to point out the obvious flops — Greivis Vasquez cannot run over Reggie Evans and send him flying — but most of what gets called by fans as a flop is a case where there is contact but then a player sells that for a foul.

Where do you want to draw that line? Is how a player falls after contact a true indication of how hard the contact was? Can you really judge that from video?

We will see where they draw the line. But know Nowitzki is not on board.

NBA Season Preview: Atlanta Hawks

Josh Smith

Last season: Just another Hawks season.

That’s the best way to put it after a year where despite losing Al Horford for the vast majority of the season, Atlanta managed to land a top four seed in the East. They had this bizarro season underneath the headline of “Boring.”

They would look awesome one night, as Josh Smith played at an elite level, and the team really gelled for long stretches. But then they would hit national TV and things would happen like the Heat not playing the Big 3 and still beating the Hawks, at home. It was like they were intentionally trying to look horrible at home.

Everyone was tired of the Hawks by season’s end. The inconsistent play, the isolation offense, the general blaise. The fans, the media, no one cared about them. They were supposed to lose in the first round, and they did.

But snuck under the talk of Ray Allen’s injury and Paul Pierce battling an MCL sprain along with a one-game suspension for Rajon Rondo was this: the Hawks played Boston tight. They were in that series, but the emotional lift from losing Rajon Rondo put a fire under the Celtics, and when they come out like that, they’re extremely difficult to beat. Meanhwhile, the Hawks’ bigest advantage against the Celtics was their size… and yet Horford took a few games to get back and then wasn’t 100 percent, and Zaza Pachulia, who always causes the Celtics issues, wasn’t around at all.

It was the kind of misfortune that creates a facade of failure. The Hawks were better than most people thought they were, but never good enough to matter, still.

Something had to change.

Key Departures: Joe Johnson has been an All-Star six times. Straight. Most people don’t really catch that, but it’s true. And Danny Ferry happily traded him for almost nothing after he took over the team as GM.

Johnson is an elite defender and at times can be a great scorer, but he’s also heavy on the isolation and not as efficient as he once was. Most importantly, the Hawks threw a max contract at him to keep him in 2010 that the Nets will be paying for at roughly the cost of the GDP of a small nation.

Ferry moved Marvin Williams to clear even more space, getting one of the most disappointing draft picks in team history and getting the memory out of people’s minds.

Jerry Stackhouse was let go, and Willie Green released in a sign-and-trade. Jason Collins was a very useful center the past two years but he also was not retained in free agency. Vlad Radmanovic, AKA VladRad, AKA Space Cadet, went to the Bulls.

Key Additions: In return for Johnson, Ferry took Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson, and some filler, most of which has been waived or won’t see much time this season. The idea was clear. Create space from a team with none by any means necessary. Adding Morrow does give them a crack shooter, however.

He traded for Kyle Korver to add yet another shooter to a team that had very little last year and now has a ton.

For Williams, Ferry landed Devin Harris, giving him a capable backup point guard behind Teague, or a replacement if Teague doesn’t make the required leap.

The team signed Anthony Tolliver as a free agent to give them another stretch four and brought in Lou Williams to replace Willie Green.

They drafted John Jenkins who showed a lot of promise in Summer League.

Three keys to the Hawks season:
1) All-The-Time Teague: I’ve started referencing the phrase “Playoff Teague” the past two years because Jeff Teague is an entirely different player when the playoffs begin than during the regular season. He makes bigger shots, plays faster and harder, and blows you away with his athleticism and big-play ability. So why doesn’t he do that throughout the year? Why did he so often lose his job to Kirk Hinrich when Hinrich was healthy?

Teague has to become a consistent star this season, not something that’s easy for point guards in a point-guard dominant league. He has better shooters to drive and kick to, and will have a lot more freedom in the offense now that ISOJoe is working in Brooklyn. But Teague stil has to take every game as crucial and really lead this team. They can’t afford to just care about the big games, because they’re not going to win a lot of them with this crew.

Teague has to convince himself every game is on the big stage.

2) Is Josh Smith ready to be the guy? Josh Smith is in a contract year. He’s been passed over for All-Star spots despite being more than deserving, has been ridiculed for his penchant to take long-twos, and largely overlooked. He’s also played out of his mind the past two seasons.

Without Johnson, this is Josh Smith’s team. Al Horford will play a big role. Jeff Teague will direct the offense. But this is Josh Smith’s team now. He has to be more efficient, take a bigger load, and be willing to act as more of the finisher than set-up guy.

And, as always, stop with the long twos. For the love. The man is dominant in the post. This mid-range tyranny must end.

3) Will Drew open up the offense? He has a lightning-fast point guard who can drive and dish. He’s got a set of dominant post players in Horford and Smith. He’s got shooters galore with Morrow, Korver, and others.

But Larry Drew has stuck to the grind-it-out offense that kept his team mired in the mud. The team has athleticism and skill, and needs ball movement. There are no Kobe Bryants on this team, no LeBron James. But they have speciality players who can play well in their roles. This team may only go as far as Drew lets them. There has to be some imagination and push in the way the offense is set.

What Hawks fans should fear: Smith’s not elite. And without that, this team could fall prey to the “good enough to not be terrible, not good enough to do anything of note.” But then again, that’s where they’ve been for three years, so really what’s the difference?

The Hawks are moving towards an all-out rebuild eventually. This is the year in-between. But if the opportunity to snag a lottery pick comes available, bet that the Hawks will jump on it. Ferry knows he needs a new, legit star. He won’t hesitate to go get it via the draft.

How it likely works out: The Hawks could honestly wind up making the playoffs. They have good skill players, some athleticism, a good to great defensive coach and shooters. But they lack in total star power, we don’t know what Horford will look like after injury, whether Josh Smith will buy in, if Teague will make the leap, if Drew will open the offense up.

The Hawks won’t be terrible, but they may not be good either. This is one where we have to see what happens when you put all the ingredients in the oven.

And again, don’t discount the possibility of a midseason tank job. Ferry knows the long-term game here.

Prediction: 43-39, they’ll be right there for the eighth seed. Atlanta has a good set of players but not enough to be in the elite category. A long losing streak could be followed by a long winning streak, and much will depend on the health of their shooters. But Drew coaches defense so well, and Teague-Smith-Horford is enough to carry them to at least .500.