After another season where the Wizards underwhelmed — due to injuries, due to chemistry issues, due to a lot of things — what were the bold moves of this summer in our nation’s capital? Well, they signed Jeff Green. And in a trade they got Austin Rivers.
The other part of that Rivers’ trade was the big news — they sent center Marcin Gortat to the Clippers. That cleared the way to sign Dwight Howard this summer. The idea of adding Howard to a locker room with questionable chemistry is a bit of a punch line.
In a podcast with Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington, Wall called the Wizards’ summer “pretty interesting” and praised Howard.
“Even though [Howard] is older, he’s still an athletic big averaging 16 [points] and 12 [rebounds],” Wall said in the pod. He talked up Howard as a pick-and-roll threat lob threat as he rolls to the rim, saying defenses can’t cheat off of him.
“Not only do you get more layups, probably, you get more wide open threes.”
That’s great, but Howard got the ball back as the roll man on 12.5 percent of his possessions last season — it has never been something he wants to do a lot. Post-ups, however, accounted for 40.1 percent of his possessions, once you include his passes out of the post (and the Wizards scored a rather meh 0.85 points per possession on those post ups). Howard has long been better as the roll man, he just dislikes to do it.
Last season, Marcin Gortat got 20.9 percent of his shots out of the pick-and-roll and just 18.2 percent on post-ups. The Wizards don’t want to take the ball out of Wall’s hands. Nor should they.
Howard, even at this point in his career (when he is not the force of nature he was back in Orlando), can be an upgrade for the Wizards at center, but not a massive one. Nothing else GM Ernie Grunfeld did this summer moved the needle in Washington.
It’s all “pretty interesting” I guess. The Wizards look like another middle-of-the-pack team just not living up to all the potential on the roster, and it’s hard to see what changes about that this season.
Is $80 million enough for Tobias Harris? Tobias Harris certainly doesn’t think so.
The lengthy Los Angeles Clippers forward is just 26 years old, and is in line for not one but probably two more significant contracts. That being said, according to a report from TNT’s David Aldridge, Harris recently turned down an extension offer from the Clippers in the area of four years, $80 million.
That reported number would have been a significant increase over the contract Harris signed with the Orlando Magic back in 2015. That deal was for four years and $64 million, but it appears that Harris is biding his time and waiting for the summer of 2019 when more teams have cap space.
Harris turning down this extension sort of leans into something I’ve been mentioning lately, and that is that some of these mid-range or cusp-level stars might end up taking less than they expect while waiting for 2019.
Yes, there is cap space to be had next summer. But there’s not an unlimited amount, and I believe that many GMs will be reticent to spend money the way they did a couple of years ago after the cap spiked. Teams handed out some crazy contracts in 2016, and several GMs will have learned their lesson.
Eighty million dollars is completely reasonable for Harris, so it seems he is either wanting more cash or perhaps he wants a change of scenery. What LAC reportedly offered Harris was an extension, and now it appears he will head straight into unrestricted free agency.
Harris is still young, and he is a good 3-point shooter. He shot 41.4 percent from deep for the Clippers last season, and he has the ability to play several positions. It’s possible that a team who wants to move into the modern, small ball type of play we’ve seen over the last couple years steps up with a big offer.
The question is who that might be.
Carmelo Anthony is all but a Houston Rocket at this point. The veteran forward secured his buyout with the Oklahoma City Thunder this week, and the favorite to land him are the Rockets.
We are still waiting for everything to be official, but it seems that Anthony’s potential future teammates are excited about having him on board.
Speaking to media this week, NBA MVP James Harden said that he felt like Anthony was a good pick up for the team that gave the Golden State Warriors a run in the Western Conference Finals before losing Chris Paul to injury.
“It would be a great acquisition for us,” said Harden, who did run into Anthony at Paris Fashion Week last month when Harden was making the rounds with teammate P.J. Tucker. “Melo’s a proven vet. He just wants to win at this point, so it would be great for him to be on our team. The current roster we have now, we’ve got good guys back and we keep making forward progress.”
It’s not clear how Carmelo will integrate into Houston’s offense just yet. The Rockets lost Trevor Ariza to the Phoenix Suns this summer, and we’ll need more 3-point shooting outside of Eric Gordon. Anthony shot 35.7% from 3-point range last season, which is just about league average.
Even in an offense with a lot of isolation sets, Carmelo isn’t a home run. People make the mistake of thinking that the Rockets simply dribble the ball down the floor then go one-on-one. That’s not really the case.
The Rockets were 13th in the NBA in pace last year, and scored a league-leading 1.2 points per possession in transition. Their isolation sets were additive to their transition offense, and even then a lot of their iso ball sets were designed to create assists on mismatches.
Anthony has shown the ability to be a good passer over his time in the NBA, although last season with the Thunder he recorded a career-low two assists per 100 possessions. Many of his isolation plays are geared toward Anthony getting a shot up for himself, so whether Mike D’Antoni can convince him to work within the system is a big question moving forward.
Anthony could be useful for the Rockets, there’s no doubt about it. But what seems more likely is that he might gunk up the works for Houston, especially come playoff time. The Rockets need to do something — or at least they feel they do — to get past the Warriors this time around.
Will Anthony be the answer there?
All aboard the Markelle Fultz PR train. Last stop is the Eastern Conference Finals.
On Sunday, two rumors surfaced about the embattled Philadelphia 76ers point guard’s jumper. The first came from former teammate Richaun Holmes‘s mother, Dr. Lydecia Holmes.
Speaking on The Burner podcast, Lydecia said that Fultz has had his jumper rebuilt and that he should be a much better shooter for the Sixers in 2018-19.
“Markelle is going to be very, very surprising this season. You’re going to be very pleased with Markelle. He is going to show you something this year… on and off the court.”
Fultz had his jump shot mysteriously disappear last year. It was supposed to have been something having to do with a shoulder issue, but over time the public opinion gradually shifted to Fultz perhaps having the yips.
The Sixers point guard has been working out with jump shot expert Drew Hanlen, and many have high hopes for Fultz’S new stroke for the upcoming season.
According to Yahoo’s Jordan Schultz, Fultz is coming along nicely as we move through the summer.
Getting Fultz back would be a huge boost for the 76ers. They failed to land Kawhi Leonard in a trade this year, and having the No. 1 overall pick from a season ago will bolster their guard rotation if he shows flashes of what he did during his one season playing for the Washington Huskies.
Then again, this could all be to prop up Fultz given the idea that much of his issue was mental. Either way, there is hope that Philadelphia will get him back from one of the oddest injury lapses in recent NBA memory outside of Leonard himself.
We don’t need to see a million videos of Fultz and his in-progress jumper from practice like we did last season. I’m hoping we can wait and see it as a finished product sometime as we approach the fall.
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