Tag: Sam Young

Corey Maggette

Corey Maggette, Sam Young try to earn last Spurs roster spot


The San Antonio Spurs have 14 guaranteed contracts on their roster and they may go into the season with just that many.

But they can add a 15th guy. They have identified a need — a physical three who can play limited minutes off the bench in certain matchups as a backup to Kawhi Leonard — now they just have to find the guy.

Corey Maggette and Sam Young are in a training camp battle for that last roster spot. The San Antonio Express-News got Gregg Popovich to talk about it.

“They’re both big, strong people for the position,” Popovich said. “We want to see if that fits for us, to have another person there behind Kawhi. Marco (Belinelli) and Manu (Ginobili) can go there, but they’re a little bit slight for some of the teams we’re going to play. I don’t really want to put them in that position very often. If we’ve got another body we think will work well with the team, we might do that. That’s the primary reason we brought those guys in.”

With guaranteed contracts the norm, actual battles in training camp for a roster spot are a rarity in the NBA. (It’s why Hard Knocks for the NBA would never work, it lacks the drama of the NFL cut downs.)

We’ll see how this one plays out. Sam Young played a better role in Indiana last season than Maggette did in Detroit, but neither was very impressive at all. There also is the question of who fits best in the Spurs locker room culture.

Or, the Spurs may just cut them both. At least it is a training camp struggle to watch.

Sam Young has free agent meeting with the Spurs

sam young pacers

When we last saw Sam Young, he was trying to get under the skin of LeBron James as a member of the Indiana Pacers during last season’s Eastern Conference Finals.

Indiana’s bench (along with their ridiculous amount of turnovers) was considered the team’s primary weakness last year, and after upgrading in that department with the acquisitions of Luis Scola, Chris Copeland, and C.J. Watson, Young as an unrestricted free agent finds himself looking for a home for next season.

Multiple teams are reportedly interested, but most recently, Young met with the San Antonio Spurs.

From Chris Goff of IndySportsLegends.com:

Former Pacer Sam Young is in San Antonio meeting with the Spurs today, his agent tells me. Several other clubs have expressed interest.

If Young signs with the Spurs, he’d join assistant coach Jim Boylen and PF Jeff Pendergraph as offseason poaches from Indy.

There would be some familiarity there with Boylen in place as an assistant coach, and although Young averaged just 2.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game for the Pacers in the regular season last year, his postseason experience playing against the eventual champs on the big stage could be an appealing quality in a player that would be no more than an addition to the end of the rotation.

It’s worth noting that San Antonio already has 14 players in place with guaranteed contracts for next season, and with the maximum allowed being 15, they’ll likely take their time in finding the right player to round out the roster.

Frank Vogel errs by readily sitting George Hill, Lance Stephenson with foul trouble

Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Game Four

George Hill picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and after he hit a technical free throw on his way to the bench (thanks to jawing between Mario Chalmers, David West and Udonis Haslem), the Pacers led by two points.

By the time Hill returned five minutes later, Indiana trailed by eight points and wouldn’t lead again.

Of course, Hill finished with just four fouls.

Frank Vogel made a high-profile mistake by sitting Roy Hibbert at the end of Game 1, and the Pacers coach erred again while handling his players’ foul trouble in Game 5. Make no mistake, Vogel has done an excellent job this series, devising a gameplan that has challenged the Heat and hitting the right motivational notes. But that doesn’t make him immune to strategic mistakes.

Lance Stephenson picked up his second foul just two and a half minutes into the game, and Vogel pulled him for Sam Young. Though the Pacers built a lead with Young in the game, he didn’t play very well, and it stands to reason Indiana would have fared better with Stephenson (even though hindsight says Stephenson had a poor game). But Vogel self-imposed a penalty by inserting Young. Stephenson committed three fouls in the game’s final five minutes to foul out, but at that point, the Pacers were effectively out of the game.

Vogel’s more egregious mistake came when Hill committed his fourth foul.

Hill fouls at an extremely low rate – once nearly every 20 minutes during the regular season – and even if he’s more likely to foul against the Heat, the odds of him fouling out were low. Again, Vogel self-imposed a penalty and sat Hill in favor of D.J. Augustin.

These self-imposed penalties are often foolish, but they’re particularly destructive for the Pacers.

Indiana relies heavily on its starting lineup – +26 this series in a slight majority of the available minutes, compared to –45 for all other lineups – so tweaking the rotation allows fewer minutes for Hill, Stephenson, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert to share the court. In Game 5, the Pacers’ starters played much less together than any other game of the series:

  • Game 1: 28 minutes
  • Game 2: 29 minutes
  • Game 3: 26 minutes
  • Game 4: 24 minutes
  • Game 5: 16 minutes

It’s not just that Indiana’s starters are better than its reserves – though they are – but that Indiana’s starters work so well together. Even when four starters play together, the Pacers are just –16 in 40 minutes this series.

In Game 5, a lineup with Augustin replacing Hill and the rest of the starters was –8 in five minutes.

The biggest problems came defensively, where Augustin – who played a more minutes than any Indiana reserve this series – often didn’t stick close to his man or, when he did, wasn’t big enough to disrupt him.

Probably by the Heat’s design, Indiana’s point guards spent a decent amount of time guarding LeBron James, who set screens for Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole to begin pick-and-rolls. Any switch or hedge that involved Augustin guarding LeBron or preventing the ball from reaching LeBron didn’t work too well. Chalmers had his success with Augustin, too.

These aren’t easy matchups for Hill, either, but he’s a much better defender – and a much better fit with the Pacers’ preferred lineup. Next time, Vogel shouldn’t rush to sacrifice that.

Lance Stephenson asked to guard LeBron James in Game 4

Heat's James and Pacers' Stephenson prepare to play during the fourth quarter in Game 4 of their NBA Eastern Conference Final basketball playoff series in Indianapolis

No single person can guard LeBron James even competently over the course of an entire game. It takes multiple skilled defenders, along with a solid team defensive strategy just to slow the game’s best player into turning in a below average performance.

The Pacers were successful against James in Game 4, limiting the league’s MVP to just 24 points on 8-of-18 shooting while playing more than 43 minutes.

Part of that had to do with Lance Stephenson, who apparently asked his head coach for at least a portion of the defensive assignment.

From Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida:

“He asked to guard him. He asked to guard him,’’ said Vogel, seemingly really wanting to really emphasize that. “He’s a competitor. We know Paul (George) is getting worn out a little bit guarding LeBron the whole game that he’s in there. Lance said, ‘Let me share some of the load.’’’

James was defended primarily by Paul George, just as he had been for most of the series. Sam Young spent some time on James as well, and while Stephenson was isolated against LeBron for only three of those 18 field goal attempts, James missed two, and all were strongly contested.

The first was a face-up jumper that James missed, and the next two attempts against Stephenson both came in the post. James spun baseline and tried to finish off the glass as he did a few times against George in Game 3, but as Ian Mahinmi came over late to try to get the block, he ended up with the goaltend instead.

On the final play where Stephenson was in one-on-one coverage, James again took to the low post. Stephenson was physical in defending, but got some help as James turned to make his move into the lane. Two other defenders came at James, and forced him into a difficult shot that wasn’t close.

As you might imagine, James wasn’t ready to buy into Stephenson as a lockdown defender just yet.

“If you are sitting here and talking about an individual one-on-one matchup between me and Lance Stephenson, I’m not going to harp on that,’’ James said.

Given the fact that Stephenson only defended James on three of his shot attempts, there’s no reason to do so. But it’s clear that the different looks and the team defense had an effect on James, if nothing else from a shot selection standpoint.

While James did connect on four of his seven three-point attempts, Indiana would much rather have him shooting from distance as he did in Game 4 than creating havoc inside.


Dwyane Wade delivers an elbow to the head of Lance Stephenson in Game 2 (VIDEO)

San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat

Late in the fourth quarter of the Pacers’ Game 2 win over the Heat, Dwyane Wade elevates to try to get past Lance Stephenson just after he crosses half court.

It appeared as though Wade was simply trying to hustle to get into defensive position, and had no intention of making any malicious contact. But as Stephenson turned and as Wade jumped past him, he did land an elbow to Stephenson’s head in the process.

The play was ignored by the officials, and no foul was called on Wade for his action.

If nothing else, this further goes to show how inconsistent the officiating can be, even within the same game. Sam Young was issued a technical foul for a small, harmless swipe at the ball after the whistle, and yet a shot to the head like this one — however unintentional it may have been — ended up going unpunished.

The play is being reviewed by the league office, reports Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.