Tag: Raymond Felton

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat

Rajon Rondo kneed in face by Richard Jefferson, leaves Mavericks-Magic game for good (video)


Rajon Rondo took a nasty-looking knee from teammate Richard Jefferson in tonight’s Mavericks-Magic game.

The Mavericks are deep at point guard with Devin Harris, J.J. Barea and Raymond Felton. That trio can probably fill the void tonight against Orlando and Monday against Minnesota, a couple lottery-bound teams.

But if the Mavericks succeed without Rondo, look for the growing questions about whether they’re better without him to intensify. If I were Dallas, I’d definitely hope he’s ready to return by Wednesday’s Warriors game, though.

Why J.R. Smith is not the totally selfish player you think he is

Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks

The Cavaliers had their back against the wall.

A day after losing its Christmas Day game to the Heat, Cleveland trailed the lowly Magic by four. Victor Oladipo had just made a free throw with 0.6 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

As the Cavaliers took the ball out of bounds, they surely realized they – by rule – had enough time left to catch and shoot. Cutting into Orlando’s lead on that final possession would be difficult, but it was at least possible.

Shawn Marion took ball out.

Mike Miller ran up court and left view at a pretty fast pace. Even if he were trying to get open, a long pass would have been risky. If the went ball out of bounds without being touched, Orlando would have gotten possession where the pass was thrown – right under Cleveland’s own basket. If the Magic had lost track of him, maybe it’s worth attempting the long pass. They didn’t, but at least he took a defender with him.

Marion first looked to Kevin Love, who barely moved from his rebounding position and puts up his hands as if to say, “Don’t pass to me.”

Meanwhile, Dion Waiters, bit further upcourt, pointed to Matthew Dellavedova and then slowly walked towards Cleveland’s bench.

Marion passed to Dellavedova, who showed no urgency and took one dribble to ensure time ran out.

Magic 75, Cavaliers 71. End of third quarter.

“I think it’s a dumb play, but that’s just me,” J.R. Smith, who was traded from the Knicks to Cleveland this week, said earlier this season when asked more generally about teams intentionally running out the clock to end quarters rather than attempting desperation heaves. “And I thank them for it, because if it would have went in, it would have hurt us.”

It’s quite common for players to pass on those low-percentage end-of-quarter heaves, and nobody batted at an eye when the Cavaliers did it.

Kevin Durant admitted there are situations he’d hold the ball rather than risk lowering his shooting percentage. Shane Battier said it’s not worth the hit on individual stats. And those are two of the NBA’s most respected players in recent years.

But Smith – who’s (mostly fairly) known for his bad habits – is unafraid to take those shots.

“I just do it because I think it’s the right play to make instead of just dribbling the clock out and being selfish,” Smith said. “…It can be an advantage for our team. I’ve never been one to worry about my shooting percentage.”

Who knows whether Smith’s intentions are truly altruistic? Maybe he just cares about his scoring average more than his field-goal percentage. Or maybe he (like so many NBA players) loves the thrill of attempting shots from halfcourt, so much so that he (unlike so many NBA players) takes them over protecting his field-goal percentage.

But those attempts are inarguably good for his team. In a sport where only points scored and allowed – not field-goal percentage – count toward the final won-loss verdict, the only downside to attempting them is on a player’s individual stats.

And Smith takes them without apology.

There’s no feasible way to count how players handle the end of every first, second and third quarter in every game. But I use attempts from at least 40 feet as a reasonable substitute.

Since Smith went to the Nuggets in 2006-07, he has take more such shots (73) than anyone in the league during that span. He just hasn’t made a single one.

Here’s the leaderboard for that time period on shots from at least 40 feet:

Player FG FGA
J.R. Smith 0 73
Andre Miller 1 69
Jamal Crawford 3 60
Steve Blake 1 57
Raymond Felton 3 56
Andre Iguodala 3 50
Corey Brewer 2 44
Aaron Brooks 1 43
Kyle Lowry 1 42
Derrick Rose 1 41
LeBron James 2 41
Monta Ellis 2 40
Rudy Gay 1 39
Devin Harris 1 38
Jarrett Jack 2 38
Caron Butler 1 37
Carmelo Anthony 1 37
D.J. Augustin 1 37
Joe Johnson 1 37
Mo Williams 1 36
Zach Randolph 4 35
Beno Udrih 0 35
Nate Robinson 2 35
Deron Williams 2 34
Tyreke Evans 4 34

You might be thinking Smith’s numbers are skewed, because he jacks up long shots during typical possessions. But I watched all 32 of Smith’s shots from at least 40 feet the last four years, which were available through NBA.com’s media site. Of the 32, 30 were the type of shots – a heave to end the first, second or third quarter – I’m discussing here. One exception was a desperation attempt to the end a fourth quarter, and the other came as the shot clock was expiring after a pass had been deflected into the backcourt.

Smith’s 40-foot attempts are not inflated by his penchant for jacking well beyond the 3-point arc whenever he pleases, though he says that trait helps on his heaves.

“You really get a sense for how far the basket is and what shot to shoot in that situation,” Smith said.

He practices the long shots frequently, and he knows exactly how he wants to attempt them depending where he is on the floor:

  • Halfcourt or near it: regular jumper
  • About three-quarter court: pushing ball from closer to his chest
  • Further back: baseball throw

One tactic many players take in those end-of-quarter situations is shooting with their best form no matter how much time is left. It seems that’s the internal compromise they make. If their best form means they don’t get off the attempt before the buzzer, they’re fine with that. But if they can use their natural motion and still get the shot off, that’s an attempt they’re willing to live with.

Smith – who is skilled at quickly releasing the ball when necessary – sees that trick and all the others, and like he said, he appreciates the opponent passing on those shots. But when a teammate declines the attempt?

“I get mad, because I’m like, ‘Y’all should have gave it to me. I would have at least tried to make it,’” Smith said.

Trying to make it is one – admirable – thing, but actually making it is another story. Despite all his attempts, Smith has never made a shot from beyond 40 feet, though he has had plenty of close calls.

Smith called his favorite desperation attempt a rushed 3-pointer to end the first quarter in Game 2 of the Knicks’ 2013 first-round playoff series against the Celtics:

That shot went in the books as a 36-footer, exposing a flaw in my methodology. That attempt probably belongs in this count, but there’s no feasible way to review all those slightly closer looks. Forty feet ensures nearly every shot is an end-of-quarter heave, and the evidence is conclusive enough that Smith is willing to take those shots.

What’s a little less clear is how that affects him.

Smith has battled injury this season and taken just two shots from at least 40 feet, but last year he led the NBA with 14 such shots. That season, he shot 39.4 percent on 3-pointers. Remove the 40-plus footers, and his 3-point percentage jumps to 40.6 percent. Those 1.2 percentage points aren’t a huge difference, but they at least slightly alter perception of Smith, especially because they drop him below the 40 percent bar from beyond the arc.

Is he worried that will affect him in contract negotiations if executives don’t realize why his shooting percentage is lower?

“I haven’t really thought about it like that,” said Smith, who has a player option for next season. “Actually, I think it’s a good thing. I think they should know my worth from the way I play and how I play. So, I don’t think shooting percentage should come into it.”

The Cavaliers, for contractual reasons or any other, obviously disagreed during that Dec. 26 game against the Magic.

Cleveland still won that game behind 15 fourth-quarter points from LeBron James, who was not on the court to end the third quarter. In many ways, that exemplifies who the Cavaliers have been this season – structurally unsound but usually talented enough to win anyway.

At this point, everyone believes they understand what J.R. Smith adds to the equation, and it’s no surprise when he says, “I feel as though there’s not a shot I can’t make.”

But maybe that’s just the team-first attitude the Cavaliers need.

Report: Who might the Knicks try and trade next? Jose Calderon.

Toronto Raptors vs New York Knicks

Phil Jackson has waived the white flag.

It was pretty obvious before Monday night’s big three-team trade that the Knicks were in tanking mode — despite their string of losses they have been encouraging Carmelo Anthony to take time off to rest his sore knee. As much time as he wants. The rest of the season if he wants.

But Monday’s trade — sending out J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in a clear salary dump — made it obvious the Knicks are going to clear the decks of as much salary as they can while hoping to push their first round pick this season (which they still have the rights to) as far up the lottery scale as possible.

So who else could be next out the door in New York? Try Jose Calderon. That according to Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.

With the Knicks now owners of the worst record and perhaps worst roster in the league as Phil Jackson hits the reset button in New York, league sources say the next player on the move could be point guard Jose Calderon. But at age 33 with two years and more than $15 million left on his contract, that will be a difficult proposition. Calderon came to the Knicks in the trade that sent Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas….

The Knicks are expected to try to re-engage the Thunder in talks for point guard Reggie Jackson after being rebuffed in their efforts to land him in Monday night’s three-team deal, sources say. Jackson would fit into the $2.6 million trade exception New York received in the trade with Cleveland and Oklahoma City, but the Thunder have been steadfast in rebuffing trade offers for the point guard.

The Thunder think they have a legit shot at a title run this season — because they do. This team made the conference finals last season and played the Spurs at least even once Serge Ibaka was healthy. But to make that run again they need scoring beyond Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and that right now is Reggie Jackson. There is little chance the Thunder will decide to move Jackson now, bringing in Dion Waiters and going over the luxury tax line is a sign the Thunder are serious about a run. (They hope Waiters can be a big points contributor as well, but that remains to be seen.)

Calderon has struggled this season. He is shooting the three well, 42.5 percent, but is struggling to finish at the rim or knock down shots inside the arc, plus his assists are down and his turnovers are up. The question is how much of that is age and a natural decline, and how much of that is being on the Knicks with this roster. The challenge for the Knicks are a lot of the league’s best teams are set at point gourd and aren’t likely to take on the risk.

But Phil Jackson will try.

Kyle Lowry on almost being a Knick last year: “Essentially, I was gone”

Kyle Lowry

Raptors fans have James Dolan’s fear of getting fleeced by Masai Ujiri — again — to thank for their position a top the Eastern Conference.

Remember at the start of last season the Raptors just were not working, they needed changes, and GM Masai Ujiri was clearly thinking big moves. First he traded Rudy Gay to Sacramento (which worked out well for both sides), then he set up a deal that would have sent Kyle Lowry to the Knicks for Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and a 2018 first round pick (Metta World Peace’s name was rumored also). A reasonable trade. But Dolan backed out (he didn’t like how the Carmelo Anthony trade went with Ujiri), Lowry stayed and the Raptors started winning. A lot.

Lowry reflected on all of that and last season speaking with Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

A day after the Raptors failed to sign Steve Nash as a free agent, (then GM) Bryan Colangelo brought Lowry in from Houston in a trade for a first-round pick and somebody named Gary Forbes. Lowry remembers his emotion on that day.

“Two and done and I’m going home,” he said….

“I figured two years and I’d be a free agent and go somewhere else. This wasn’t where I wanted to be. I tell people that all the time. You can’t predict your future. You have to live it by the day….

“Our season last year was a helluva story. I was traded (to New York). Essentially, I was gone. My best friend (Rudy Gay) got traded. It was all messed up.”

Now Lowry is happy — he signed a new deal with the Raptors this summer (four years, $48 million), he loves the city and he loves all the winning. Lowry matured, his game matured and everything fell into place last season.

Lowry is playing at an All-Star level again this season — 20 points and 7.7 assists a game with a PER of 23.9 — and the coaches are not going to leave him off the list this year as an alternate (he’s fourth in the fan voting, Toronto has come out for him in numbers, but it’s not likely the fans vault him past John Wall, Dwyane Wade or Kyrie Irving to be a starter).

As for the Knicks… well, you don’t need a ball dominating point guard in the triangle really. So you can try to console yourself with that.

Phil Jackson takes to Twitter to defend Knicks trading Tyson Chandler to Mavericks

Phil Jackson, James Dolan, executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company

Once Phil Jackson was installed as president of basketball operations for the Knicks, his first major player personnel move was sending Tyson Chandler out of town.

The trade, consummated with the Dallas Mavericks over the summer, sent Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas, in exchange for Samuel Dalembert, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin and two 2014 second-round draft picks.

One writer recently declared the deal to be a resounding win for the Mavericks, but once Jackson saw the article come across his Twitter feed, he couldn’t resist defending his decision.

@sheridanhoops negative, I’m okay with the Dallas deal. Tyson fits there and our 3 players, Jose, Sam, and Shane are on the court.

our season got off to a rocky start-injuries-Tyson could not have changed the outcome. Trades are judged in 4-5 year terms.

remember how Pop et al complained about the Pau trade? How does that trade look now? Just relax…and be patient.

The Pau Gasol trade from Memphis to Los Angeles was outrageous at the time, and remains so to this day. It resulted in two championships for the Lakers, and while Pau is now in Chicago, the Lakers are a lottery team and Marc Gasol (included in the deal) has emerged as one of the game’s best big men in Memphis, the Lakers remain its winners — at least until Memphis wins one or more championships with Marc leading the way.

Dalembert has been relatively brutal in New York, and Larkin, while pressed into action as a starter due to injuries in the early portion of the season, still has plenty of developing to do in order to become a useful NBA talent. Calderon may be a legitimate piece, but the results of those picks will ultimately determine whether or not the Knicks did OK in this deal — and as Jackson intimated, we’re a long way away from seeing how things may ultimately play out.