There are moments — crucial end-of-close-game moments — when Stan Van Gundy has to sit his best player, Dwight Howard. Or they can’t trust giving him the ball.
Because Howard will get fouled, and he shot only 59.6 percent from the free throw line last year (which is pretty much right at his career average of 59.8 percent). It’s a liability.
So Howard is working with free throw guru Ed Palubinskas this summer to change his game, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Palubinskas, an Australian national and Olympian, hit 87.5 percent of his free throws while at LSU and has become a coach to many big names.
Palubinskas worked with Magic teammate Brandon Bass a few years back and Bass’ free throw percentage jumped from 75 percent to 82 percent.
The biggest name he worked with Shaquille O’Neal, but it didn’t seem to help — Shaq shot 51.3 percent his season with Palubinskas. He did get better the next two seasons and shot a career best 62.2 percent two years later, but you can decide for yourself if Palubinskas gets the credit for that. You can also decide for yourself how good a student Shaq would have been for any teacher.
Will it help Howard? Well at least Howard will be a willing student. But we’ll wait until we see Howard hitting 70 percent or better and not having Van Gundy worried abut keeping him on the floor at the end of close games before we decide.
There were a lot of general managers eyeing Spencer Dinwiddie as a quality point guard they could grab on the free agent market this summer at a fair price. The hardworking point guard out of the University of Colorado has averaged 16.9 points and 4.8 assists for the Nets this season, is shooting 36.8 percent from three, knows how to be a good floor general, and while a lot of fans may not know his name smart front offices around the league saw an above-average point guard that would fit their system.
Which is why the Nets decided to lock him up and not let him leave Brooklyn. The team announced the deal, Dinwiddie himself confirmed it, and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN had the details.
Dinwiddie was eligible for four years, $47M, but sides went with a shorter deal that would get him back into free agency quicker. His new deal will pay him: $10.6M, $11.4M and $12.3M annually starting with the 2019-20 season. https://t.co/XE9XjdpVtr
The Nets are trying to build a culture and have a core of smart, solid players to put stars around, and Dinwiddie fits right into this model. They could have tried to lowball him and save some money, but that came with the risk of losing him this summer. The Nets decided to take care of their own instead, a good sign for the franchise.
Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas undergoes surgery on dislocated thumb, out a month
It was clear it was bad when it happened. Not because of the violence of the play by Draymond Green — no foul was called, and the hand is part of the ball by rule in these cases — but because of Jonas Valanciunas‘ reaction. The man was in a lot of pain.
With 8 minutes to go in the second quarter of the Raptors win Wednesday night, Valanciunas got the ball with Green on him and decided to back down the smaller player, Green reached in and swiped down knocking the ball away but getting Valanciunas’ hand in the process.
Thursday the Raptors announced that Valanciunas had surgery on his dislocated left thumb and will be out at least a month.
This is a blow to the Raptors’ frontline depth, although they still have plenty of talent up front. Serge Ibaka starts most nights at center, and at times the Raptors go small and put breakout player Pascal Siakam at the five. However, Valanciunas is their matchup for other bigger, more traditional centers, or sometimes coach Nick Nurse tries him to force a mismatch. Valanciunas is averaging 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds a night playing nearly 19 minutes a night, the Raptors defense is 3 points per 100 possessions better, and the Raptors outscore opponents by 5.4 per 100 when he is on the court. It will not be easy to fill his minutes.
The Raptors are 23-7 and the team in first place in the East having just knocked off the Clippers and Warriors in back-to-back nights on the road. They look like contenders, but they could use Valanciunas to help them get through the regular season (he’s harder to play in the postseason, but we’re not there yet).
Hornets owner Michael Jordan: Smacking Malik Monk was ‘tap of endearment’
Hornets owner Michael Jordan smacked guard Malik Monk on the back head of the head, because Monk prematurely ran on the court to celebrate Jeremy Lamb‘s game-winner against the Pistons last night. Charlotte received a technical foul for having too many men on the court, but held on for the victory.