Tag: New Orleans Pelicans

Jeff Withey, Luis Scola

Utah Jazz reach non-guaranteed deal with big man Jeff Withey


Jeff Withey was buried in the New Orleans front court last season, behind Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Omer Asik, and Alexis Ajinca. Withey only got on the court in garbage time. That said, Withey’s numbers suggest he might be a solid backup center if given the minutes.

Utah may do that. They are at least going to take a look, having reached a deal with him reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (Withey has since confirmed the signing).

Free agent 7-footer Jeff Withey has reached agreement to sign a two-year, partially guaranteed contract with the Utah Jazz, league sources told Yahoo Sports… Withey’s deal includes a team option in the second year, a league source told Yahoo.

It is possible Withey makes the Utah roster, but once again it will be difficult for him to get run. Clearly Rudy Gobert is the starter for the Jazz at center, but the minutes behind him are up for grabs. Rookie Tibor Pleiss will be on the roster, as will Trey Lyles, but throw in Derrick Favors and Trevor Booker (at the four) and space is limited along the front line. Jack Cooley has a partially guaranteed deal as well and will be fighting for a roster spot along with Withey.

Withey puts up good shot blocking numbers in the paint, he’s a solid rebounder, although his lack of NBA-level athleticism limits him. But even if he defends well, the question becomes his raw offensive game too much of a drag to make him worth it? Has Withey taken steps forward on the offensive end we have yet to see? Maybe a midrange game?

If Withey can prove that he learned and grew his game the past couple seasons on the bench in New Orleans — that he’s more than just another tall body — he will get some run in Utah. But he’s going to have to prove it, they have options.

Alvin Gentry understands great opportunity, challenge coaching Anthony Davis

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four

At any one time in the NBA, there are at best a handful of guys who will go down as legendary, all-time great NBA players. The men mentioned in the same breath as the best ever to lace them up. Right now there is LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan…

And Anthony Davis.

Davis is just 22, and we are a decade from knowing if he should ultimately be compared to the Duncans and LeBrons of the game — but he is on that trajectory. After just three NBA seasons, he is undoubtedly a top five NBA player and arguably in the top two. His PER of 30.8 last season was 11th best all time in the NBA; the only people ahead of him are named LeBron, Chamberlain, and Jordan. He will wear the crown of best player on the planet in a few years. He has an NCAA title, an Olympic gold medal, two All-Star games and one All-NBA Team to his credit, and he’s still just tapping into how great he can be.

It falls in part to new Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry to help him reach his potential.

No pressure.

Gentry talked with NBA.com’s Ian Thompson about that burden, what he has spoken with Davis about, and what he has to do as a coach to guide Davis to that potential.

“It is up to us to make him as good as he can possibly be, and not settle for him to be less than great in this area or that area. I told him that I have no doubt that he is going to be an MVP in this league. And I said to him, ‘We are going to be really, really good if you also win Defensive Player of the Year….’

“It’s like I said to him: As great as he is right now, I see his game expanding in so many areas,” says Gentry of Davis. “And the thing I like about it is he is still willing to learn. I sent Darren Erman, who is my associate head coach and defensive coordinator, to work with him, and he showed him a couple of little things from last year that he had to improve on. And every day Anthony has been working on them. Every single day. Guys usually don’t work on defensive things when you are having a workout, but he has been great at it.

“He is just a special player, and we can’t set limits on him. We have to try to take him to a level that he didn’t feel he could get to — or that no one thought he could get to. We have got to make the sky the limit for him.”

Gentry picked another great player with a legendary work ethic as a potential role model for Davis — Kevin Garnett.

“I told Anthony this — and I think it’s very important — about Kevin Garnett,” says Gentry. “I never had the opportunity to coach him, but I know guys that coached him, and they say that every day Kevin Garnett came into the gym, he had to know that when he left he was a little bit better than he was yesterday.”

Gentry’s style will help here, too. Gentry wants the game to be fun (something he said Steve Kerr emphasized last year). He wants the Pelicans to play faster, which will help Davis both get some transition buckets and get deep position more often. He has emphasized defense (the Pelicans struggled on that end last season). New Orleans is going to take a step forward this season, the only question is now big (and how far they can go in a loaded West).

But in a lot of ways, Gentry’s job (and GM Dell Demps’ job) is to get everything around Davis right. Davis himself will be amazing, but as we have seen through LeBron’s career the players around him will matter, getting those players to buy into the system will matter. Davis isn’t winning rings — which he will need for his legacy — by himself.

It’s a lot of pressure, but there may be no guy more ready for it than Gentry.

Ricky Rubio thinks Andrew Wiggins “is going to be an MVP one day”

Minnesota Timberwolves v. Philadelphia 76ers

How good is Andrew Wiggins? So good that a few days ago, the Timberwolves’ official PR account posted a tweet drawing attention to the anniversary of their trade for him, despite that trade involving Minnesota giving up a consensus top-1o player in Kevin Love.

Wiggins was outstanding in his rookie season for the Timberwolves, winning Rookie of the Year and establishing himself as a cornerstone of a young core in Minnesota that looks to be competitive for a long time. And his teammate Ricky Rubio thinks that’s just the beginning, according to an interview with Rappler.com:

“I think Wiggins is going to be an MVP one day,” said Rubio, who missed a large chunk of last season due to a severely sprained ankle injury.

“He’s a great player, [has] fit in this league very well since day one, and I think as a team we’re really young but we’re adding some veterans that’s going to help us to grow up and follow where we’re going to go – going to make the playoffs.”

As crazy as that sounds now, Rubio might not be wrong. But it’s still a ways off, and the field is crowded. It’s going to be several more years before LeBron James and Kevin Durant stop playing at an MVP level, and Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis are just entering their primes. But Wiggins is only 20 years old and already showing star potential. If he and Karl-Anthony Towns keep developing and the Wolves become a playoff contender in a few years, it’s not hard to see him pushing himself into that conversation.

Spike Lee narrates Anthony Davis’ rise to stardom in new ‘NBA 2K16’ promo (VIDEO)

Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis is the fastest-rising star in the NBA. He just inked a five-year $143 million extension with the Pelicans and comes into his fourth season widely expected to be the next transcendent, generational superstar at the LeBron James/Kevin Durant level. He’s also one of three cover athletes for NBA 2K16, which will be out in October. The other two, James Harden and reigning MVP Stephen Curry, have already gotten videos in which Spike Lee narrates their rises to fame. Now, Davis has his:

“When people talk about the greatest ever, I want to be in that conversation,” Davis says at the beginning of the video. Considering what he’s done already and the fact that he’s only 22, it’s not a stretch to imagine that he will be discussed in those terms by the time his career is over.

Report: LaMarcus Aldridge changes agencies, now repped by Excel Sports Management

LaMarcus Aldridge
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Fresh off a four-year, $84 million deal with the Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge has switched representation. He was the biggest free agent of the summer, and the most high-profile player to change teams. He’s long been a client of Arn Tellem, the influential agent with Wasserman Media Group. But Eurobasket.com’s David Pick reports that Aldridge will now be represented by Excel Sports Management, whose roster features Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and Tyson Chandler:

Back in June, Tellem — whose client list includes Anthony Davis, Al Horford, both Gasol brothers and Brook Lopez — announced he was leaving Wasserman, and the agent world, to take a job with the Pistons on the business side. Aldridge’s defection is the first sign of a ripple effect created by Tellem’s departure. He is an enormously influential agent with deep ties to a lot of players. Now that he’s out of the game, don’t be surprised if more of his clients jump ship from Wasserman over the next year.