Tag: Phoenix Suns

Dwight Howard

Report: Dwight Howard to attend Team USA mini-camp after all


Apparently Dwight Howard still might want a trip to Rio next summer.

USA Basketball’s mini-camp is coming up and players who do not attend are not likely to be invited to the tryouts for the Rio Olympics next summer (unless your name is LeBron, then you can pretty much do what you want). A few players frustrated with the USA Basketball process and decisions — Damian Lillard and John Wall in particular — have been hesitant in saying they would go.

Dwight Howard, on the other hand, seems to have had a change of heart, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Howard, because of his defense and mobility, would stand a good chance to make Team USA because he fits Mike Krzyzewski’s style of play. Howard protects the paint, can cover out on the perimeter on defense, and knows how to run the floor and finish on offense. Tyson Chandler was on the roster in London, Howard could slide right into that slot.

Predicting who will be available a year from now is next to impossible, there’s an entire NBA season still to be played. But if you don’t show up to the mini-camp this season you probably miss out next year, so it doesn’t hurt to show up (even for guys like Kevin Love and Kevin Durant, who cannot participate due to injury). This is the smart play for Howard.

Phil Jackson says Knicks wanted Goran Dragic at trade deadline. Because he’s such a triangle fit?

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12:   New York Knicks president Phil Jackson watches from the stands as his team plays the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on March 12, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.   The Knicks won 101-94.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Rule No. 1 about winning in the NBA: It’s all about the talent.

Gregg Popovich is brilliant, but he’s not wearing rings without Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Tony Parker and the others. Phil Jackson was the master at getting great players to buy into a team concept, but he had great players, from Michael Jordan through Kobe Bryant.

And Jackson knows if he wants to turn the Knicks around, he needs exceptional talent. Like maybe Goran Dragic — when healthy one of the better point guards in the NBA. In his conversations during the season with his old friend Charlie Rosen (now published at ESPN), Jackson talked about eyeing Dragic at the trade deadline last February.

“Goran Dragic, for one. I heard through the grapevine that he was open to coming here. We worked hard on that possibility, but the asking price was too dear. Maybe we worked on that possibility so much so that it distracted us. I mean, Dragic is every team’s current choice for a nuclear option — a guard who can penetrate and either score or kick. Guys like Chris Paul and James Harden. But, anyway, that’s not really the way I want us to play.”

As a reminder, the Jackson and the Knicks moved first, on Jan. 5, took part in a three-team trade that sent Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to Cleveland. On Feb. 19 the Suns moved Dragic to the Heat in another three-team trade, which netted the Suns Danny Granger, John Salmons, and the real prize of two future first round picks (2017 and 2021). Dragic then re-signed with the Heat this summer.

But it’s the last line that is the most interesting from Jackson: “But, anyway, that’s not really the way I want us to play.” Dragic, like any traditional point guard who needs the ball in his hands, is not a fit in the triangle.

Jackson wants to validate his vision of the triangle in a new era. He wants an unselfish team where players cut and move off the ball, where the system is as big a star as the players. Like the Hawks, I guess.

But the system is only going to be as good as the players in it. What both the Bulls and Lakers for Jackson did well was put in role players who fit and bought into the system around their elite stars. Jordan, Kobe, Shaq, Pippen, etc. would have been successful regardless of the system. We can debate whether Carmelo Anthony can be one of those elite stars, but there is no debate the Knicks need more of them. Maybe Kristaps Porzingis can be, but we’re a few years from finding that out for sure. In the short term, the Knicks did a good job getting solid role players like Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez that will work in the triangle. That’s a start.

As much as changing the culture and putting in a system, Jackson knows he needs more elite players if he is going to bring a title back to NYC. Even if that means bending the triangle a little to make them work.

Jackson knows, he can talk all he wants about system and style, it comes down to talent first. Restock that cupboard and the triangle will look great again.

Report: Mavericks agree to one-year deal with veteran center Samuel Dalembert

Samuel Dalembert, Mike Dunleavy

Two years ago, Samuel Dalembert was the Mavericks’ consolation prize at center when they failed to sign Dwight Howard. He was perfectly serviceable for Dallas in 2013-14, averaging 6.6 points and 6.8 rebounds and starting 68 games. The following offseason, they shipped him to New York as part of the trade that brought back Tyson Chandler. Now, both the Mavs and Dalembert are finding themselves in a familiar position: they swung and missed on DeAndre Jordan, and he’s their fallback option. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that they’ve agreed to a one-year deal:

ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon adds that the deal will be for the veteran’s minimum:

Previously, the Mavs had been in discussions with JaVale McGee, and ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports that he’s still on their radar, as is Tunisian big man Salah Mejiri. Basically, Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle want to bring in as many big men as possible to training camp and keep the best handful of them for the season. None of these options are spectacular, but Dalembert is solid and reliable and you know exactly what you’re getting out of him. They could do a lot worse for the minimum.