Philadelphia has gone another direction — Andre Iguodala is out, Andrew Bynum is in as the new face of the franchise. The young, anchor center who has Philly talking about something other than the Eagles. Well, for five minutes.
The idea is to sell hope in Philly and build on a young core of Bynum, Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday and others. Things are changing.
But things could change a lot more in the next couple years as the Sixers are loaded with short term deals — including Bynum’s — points out Nick Menta at CSNPhilly.com.
In fact, there will be a grand total of nine Sixers whose contracts will expire within the next two years.
Five of those contracts — Bynum, Jrue Holiday, Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Royal Ivey — are up at the end of next season. Four more — Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Kwame Brown and Lavoy Allen — expire at the end of the 2013-14 season. For reference, Brown’s is technically for one season with a player option for a second, though his agent has called it a two-year deal.
Brown is picking up that option. And smart money says Bynum will re-sign after the season.
Philly isn’t likely to make radical changes, they will extend (or at least give a qualifying offer to) Holiday, they likely extend Turner, they have Thaddeus Young still for a few years.
But as the Sixers see what they are missing with this new look and lineup, once they see what needs to be changed and added to really make this work and improve, they should have the flexibility to do it. Not next season, Bynum’s extension will soak up most of the space they have, but in the years after that.
It’s a pretty good time to be hopefully in Philly. Right now, Bynum is handling everything beautifully. We’ll see if it is all the same when the Eagles season is over.
Knicks won’t rush Kristaps Porzingis or future building plans
NEW YORK (AP) —Kristaps Porzingis is back with his teammates, though the New York Knicks don’t know when he’ll be back on the court.
Joakim Noah won’t be back, though the terms of his departure still are being negotiated.
So while there are questions, the Knicks also feel they have certainty with the way they are building their team.
They insist their future first-round draft picks will be used to select players for their own team, not to be dangled in trades that could land them an established player.
“We’re committed to following a plan and not just shifting and pivoting because we see something that we think is attractive and might fast track something,” Knicks president Steve Mills said Thursday. “I’ve seen that happen and go wrong too many times and that’s not what we’re going to do.”
It’s happened in New York, where the Knicks traded young players and future assets in 2011 to acquire Carmelo Anthony, rather than sign him the following summer as a free agent with the cap space they had. This time, they say they will wait for the summer of 2019, when Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard could be among the free agents – even if one of them suddenly became available by trade now.
“We don’t want to jump at the shiny things,” coach David Fizdale said. “We want to make solid decisions and be patient with this process.”
They will be patient with Porzingis, their All-Star forward who is still recovering from a torn ACL in February. He is back in New York and working out with his teammates, but faces more testing and rehab before the Knicks know when he can play.
“As he meets certain milestones, we’ll continue his rehab process,” Mills said, “all toward the direction of when he feels 100 percent comfortable and we feel 100 percent comfortable that we’re not taking any risks with him, then he’ll be ready to come back.”
Not so for Noah, despite the two years left on the $72 million deal he signed in 2015. He has been away from the team since clashing with former coach Jeff Hornacek last season. The Knicks remain in discussions with Noah and his representation to determine how he’ll leave the club.
“The hope is that we can come to a resolution that is both advantageous to both Joakim and to the Knicks, and so that’s where it sits right now,” general manager Scott Perry said.
Porzingis is eligible for an extension this fall, but the Knicks seem prepared to wait until next summer. That would allow them to have more salary-cap space in July if they try to sign a player they won’t mortgage any of their future for now.
“We feel comfortable with our organization and where we’re going and what we’re developing here,” Mills said, “and we think that when it’s time for us to go after free agents, we’ll be a place to attract free agents and we shouldn’t use our draft picks like that.”
Report: Numerous teams interested in possible Jimmy Butler trade
This makes for a very interesting media day Monday in Minnesota (where everybody will deny everything), however, little has been resolved. Butler wants out and Thibodeau doesn’t want to trade him. Eventually, Thibodeau is going to have to come around on this (or be pushed out for someone who does) — Minnesota can’t afford to lose him for nothing in free agency considering all they gave up.
But the Timberwolves don’t have to trade him where he wants to go — they just need to get the best deal for themselves. From Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic:
In canvassing the league, there are a number of teams interested in Jimmy Butler. Not all of them would need assurances that Butler will sign long-term. Still unsure if Thibs will change stance and start engaging in trade talks.
We have seen this before, Oklahoma City taking a swing at Paul George (that worked out), Toronto rolling the dice with Kawhi Leonard.
I could see a team such as Miami putting together a veteran-heavy package (Thibodeau still wants to win) such as Josh Richardson and Kelly Olynyk, or Richardson with Justise Winslow and some other salary and picks, and seeing if that inspires Thibodeau. (The Clippers may well be able to put together the best veteran package, based around Tobias Harris.) The Suns have been big game hunting and could come in (Trevor Ariza can’t be traded until Dec. 15 but he could be a part of a deal). Philadelphia could roll the dice. There are others.
All of this is a while off — Thibodeau isn’t there yet. There’s a lot of drama between now and then.
DeMar DeRozan tells Serge Ibaka when he plays Raptors he’ll “probably go for 50”
New Spur DeMar DeRozan went on the show with his former teammate, presumably to learn how to make some Tex-Mex meals so he can blend in better in San Antonio, when the topic of when DeRozan playing the Raptors for the first time came up. DeRozan was joking around, but I think he meant this:
“Probably go for 50 (points). I’m gonna foul you out. I’m gonna foul (Jonas Valanciunas) out. I’m telling you.”
DeRozan wasn’t done with the cooking references, either.
While 50 is a big number, if DeRozan is on your fantasy team you want to play him the week of Jan. 3 when the Spurs play host to Toronto — he is going to go off on his former team. You can bet Gregg Popovich will have a few special plays in mind and his teammates will be getting DeRozan the rock all he wants.
This is the latest of NBC’s NBA season preview stories, and we will post at least one a day on these pages until Oct. 16, when the NBA season kicks off. We will look at teams and topics around the NBA throughout the series, with today the Jazz as the focus
We know the NBA buzzwords, the trends. Small ball. Offense over defense. Play fast. Teams have to have men who can spread the floor with their three-point shooting. Teams want undersized power forwards who play more like wings. The offense is to run a pick-and-roll to force a switch, then isolate and let your best shot creator attack the mismatch.
The Utah Jazz are none of that.
They are contrarian, a throwback. And they are one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA.
Utah is defensive team that starts a twin towers front line where neither can really step out and space the floor with their jumper. Utah’s starting power forward, Derrick Favors, is a power forward in the classic sense. They run a motion offense, and only 5.3 percent of their offensive attempts came out of isolation last season. They don’t play at a high pace, they prefer a game that grinds down, physically but also mentally.
They are not following the small ball trend, and that’s a conscious decision.
“Golden State has driven a perception that the whole league is small…” Jazz coach Quin Snyder told NBC Sports last season. “Because Golden State’s been the best team, you’re forced to match up with them, and then people will try to play small, but if you’re playing small just because someone else is, and then you’re not playing your best players, that’s a tough question. Do you chase a mismatch or do you play the way you play?”
Utah plays the way it plays. And with that, most pundits have them as a top-four team in the West (Vegas books have them with the fourth highest under/over win total in the West at 48.5), and some around the league wonder if the Jazz can beat a diminished Rockets’ squad this season.
However, does their style also have a ceiling? Utah’s defense stymied Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs last season, but the spacing and pace of the Houston Rockets proved to be too much — it was hard to keep Rudy Gobert on the court against those smaller lineups, and Houston’s switching defense stalled out the Utah offense.
If the question is “can we beat Golden State and Houston the way we play?” then 12 teams in the West — and 28 teams across the entire NBA — are asking that same question. Utah believes it can, or it can at least threaten them, by just doing what they do better.
If the Jazz are going to live up to a top-four slot, a few things have to happen, and it starts with Rudy Gobert staying healthy. He missed most of the first half of last season with knee injuries — not chronic things, but both times because a player fell into him — but once he was back and right Utah went 29-6 to close out the season. He won Defensive Player of the Year because of how dominant he was during that run.
Obviously, the reason for the hot finish was Utah’s incredible defense: After the All-Star break it allowed just 96 points per 100 possessions, by far the best in the league. That defense could get better this season: a healthy Gobert all season, plus full seasons out of Jae Crowder and Royce O’Neale, plus players with another season in the system.
The surprise for the Jazz last season was a respectable offense (16th in the league), which came about because rookie Donovan Mitchell played like an All-Star, 20.5 points and 3.7 assists per game. Mitchell impressed everyone, but sometimes players with strong rookie campaigns plateau their second season, not growing and making the next leap some expect. Utah, to take a step forward, needs him to grow.
Around him there are solid veterans who knew how to play the game — Gobert running the rim, Joe Ingles spotting up at the arc and moving the ball to the right man on closeouts, Ricky Rubio figuring out how to adjust to the motion offense then thriving in it as a distributor (after the All-Star break he averaged 15 points a game, shot 40.9 percent from three, and had 5.6 assists a night), and Derrick Favors getting his buckets.
Utah didn’t make big moves this summer but believes it has added some firepower. They re-signed Dante Exum over the summer and believe (more than anyone else) he is healthy and ready for a breakout year. They drafted Grayson Allen, who showed at Summer League he’s more than a spot-up guy. They get a full season of the solid Jae Crowder.
Utah is counting on continuity.
That and defense will alone not be enough. The Jazz need health, and they need the offense to get better — a few more easy buckets in transition would help. The Jazz were 19th in the NBA in percentage of offense that started in transition (stat via Cleaning The Glass) and while that’s not bad for a team that wants a defensive game, a few more easy transition buckets a night help.
The Jazz also need to better handle switching defenses — the elite teams they want to challenge in the West switch a lot, and to beat them in a seven-game series Utah has to score more comfortably against the switch. That doesn’t necessarily mean a James Harden back-it-out-and-isolate play, but to do it in the context of the motion offense requires precision and ability to exploit the smallest mistake the Jazz did not have last season.
The Jazz are going to be the Jazz this season — contrarian, grinding, and a nightly defensive force. That can take them a long way, especially in the regular season.
If it can get them where they want to go in the playoffs is a much tougher question.