Seven veteran free agents that could help teams now

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Cuts have been made and NBA rosters are set for the start of the season. Optimism abounds around the league.

However, it will only take a couple of weeks before glaring holes are exposed, injuries inevitably hit, and some GMs are scrambling to repair their rosters get their team back on track.

That’s where these veterans come in. Here are seven guys that can step in and help a team right now. They’re flawed players (or they wouldn’t still be free agents), but they’re names that will pop up once teams start scrambling in the coming weeks and months.

1) Iman Shumpert

Wing is a position of need around the NBA, and wing defenders in particular are in demand. While everyone knows Shumpert is not the peak defender he once was, he can still provide some solid play on the perimeter. Shumpert shot 34.8 percent last season, played in eight of the Rockets’ playoff games, and continues to be a respectable role player. The Grizzlies and Bulls are reportedly interested in Shumpert.

2) Jamal Crawford

Crawford may be 39 but he can still get some buckets off the bench. No doubt the three-time Sixth Man of the Year has slowed in recent years, and his defense is an issue, but the man still averaged 7.9 points per game last season off the bench and lit it up for the depleted Suns at the end of last season. He’s also improved the playmaking aspect of his game. Some team is going to turn to him for bench scoring.

3) Joakim Noah

He’s the best big man still on the board, and a guy the Lakers seriously considered until Dwight Howard convinced members of the staff there he is is a changed man. Noah had a good run the second half of last season with the Grizzlies — 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds a night, plus solid defense in the paint, playing more than 16 minutes a game — which showed he can still help a team out.

4) J.R. Smith

Cleveland waived Smith in a cost-cutting move, the Bucks quickly talked to him, but since then nothing has materialized. Smith is 34 and his skills are in decline, including shooting just 30.8 percent from three last season, but it’s too early to write him off. In the right situation, he could help a team off the bench with veteran play. Just don’t have him on the floor to close NBA Finals games anymore.

5) Kenneth Faried

When Clint Capela was out injured for the Rockets last season, Faried stepped in and played well — he averaged 12.9 points per game on 58.7 percent shooting in 25 games for the Rockets. He’s just 29, and he can be counted on to get buckets. What he can’t be counted on to do is defend very well, which is why no team has snapped him up (and why he fell out of the Rockets’ rotation last season). Still, he can bring energy off the bench for a team.

6) Corey Brewer

He came off the bench for the Kings at the end of last season, in a very limited role, and while he had a workout with the Rockets, Brewer has not found a new home. Wings are in demand, and Brewer would be a good fit for a team that likes to get out and run (he’s at his best in transition), but the fact he struggles as a shooter from three has teams hesitant. Still, once the season starts, don’t be surprised if some team picks Brewer up.

7) Carmelo Anthony

The reason he is on this list is his poor defense. Teams have questions about his willingness to play a role, the number of midrange jumpers he takes, his efficiency, how he would be a big story wherever he lands, and how the game has moved away from ‘Melo’s style of play, but in the end his defense remains the biggest stumbling block to landing on a new team. That said, nobody questions his talent or that he can still get buckets. If a team believes he will take a role off the bench, he could be a good pickup.

Mike Conley sinks backcourt shot… in middle of first quarter (video)

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The Jazz got off to a rough start offensively this season. They still haven’t figured out everything.

But when this shot is falling, it feels a lot better.

During its win over the Warriors last night, Utah had a pass deflected into the backcourt. That left Mike Conley only a couple seconds to make something happen, and he delivered by sinking a 50-footer.

Best I can tell (shot-distance data is unreliable), this was the first made backcourt shot that wasn’t an end-of-quarter heave since Kyrie Irving in 2015:

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry touches live ball (video)

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This hasn’t been a great year for NBA coaches staying out of the way.

First, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra – mistakenly believing a timeout had been called – went onto the court during play. He tried to run off, but he wasn’t quick enough to avoid a technical foul.

Then, last night, Rockets forward P.J. Tucker threw an off-target pass past James Harden. The ball rolled all the way to the backcourt and was headed out of bounds… when Pelicans coach Gentry stepped onto the court to scoop it up.

AT&T SportsNet Southwest:

Gentry was just trying to save time. But, of course, that was a technical foul.

After 1-of-11 shooting, Kristaps Porzingis not mad he was benched to end game

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With 9:04 left in the game Monday night in Boston, Kristaps Porzingis picked up his fifth personal foul. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle subbed him out.

Porzingis never saw the floor again.

After a 1-of-11 shooting night when Porzingis had more fouls (five) than points (four), Carlisle went with what was working better against the Celtics and gave his team a chance to win. After the game, Porzingis was asked about being benched for crunch time and he was not blaming his coach. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“Of course I want to be out there, but can’t blame him,” Porzingis said. “I wasn’t having a great game. I’m all-in for whatever’s best for the team. If the coach thinks he’d rather have me out and have someone else in that’s having a better game, let’s do it if we can win a basketball game. That’s the most important thing, but going forward, I want to make sure I’m out there.”

Porzingis has struggled to find his form to start the season — something that shouldn’t be a surprise for a guy who went 19 months without playing competitive basketball following his torn ACL. He’s averaging 18.3 points per game but is shooting just 40.1 percent overall (but 37.5 percent from three).

The issue has been consistency — he’s had nights like the 32 against Portland, but in games where Luka Doncic is dominating the ball, Porzingis has faded away rather than asserted himself into the contest. When he’s had smaller players switched onto him, he has not been an overpowering force, but rather has settled for jumpers over them (and he can shoot a jumper over almost anyone). He’s being a bit passive.

It’s far too early to have serious concerns about Porzingis — again, he just missed 19 months of competitive basketball. And development. Of course this was going to take time. However, if things don’t improve as the season moves along then Mavericks fans should start to worry a little. The Mavericks have gone all-in on the Doncic/Porzingis combo and need it to work.

 

Stephen Curry says he will play this season, hopes to play “in early spring”

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry “definitely” plans to return this season from his broken left hand and is hoping to be back on the court at “some point in early spring.”

When exactly the two-time NBA MVP will be able to play again remains uncertain, but he expects to be back out there.

Curry addressed the media Monday night for the first time since getting injured Oct. 30 and said he needs a second surgery on his non-shooting hand, probably in early December, to remove pins that were inserted during the first procedure Nov. 1 that involved his hand and index finger.

“(Managing the) swelling is something that’s going to be of the utmost priority early in the rehab process,” Curry said, “to get me a chance to come back and get my range of motion back pretty quickly.”

The Warriors initially said Curry would be re-evaluated three months after the surgery, which would be early February.

Curry referred to himself and injured teammate Klay Thompson as “caged animals right now, wanting to be unleashed.”

Thompson, the other part of Golden State’s Splash Brothers combo, is recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The team hopes he can return in the second half of the season.

Curry said he experienced some minor nerve irritation shortly after he underwent his first hand surgery, a common byproduct of the procedure. That’s one thing doctors will continue to monitor throughout his rehab process, and it will impact when he can return.

For now, Curry is working out his lower body and doing whatever training is permitted by the team’s medical staff, saying he’s using this three-month period without basketball as a “mini offseason” to fine-tune his body.

The Warriors’ longest-tenured player had praise for his teammates, who took the court Monday night against Utah with a 2-8 record that was tied with the New York Knicks and New Orleans Pelicans for the worst in the NBA.

Curry described rookie Eric Paschall‘s energy as contagious and said the play of new guard D'Angelo Russell has been “unreal.” Asked what the benefits would be for he and Thompson to return to the court this season if it was only for the final few weeks, Curry had an answer.

“Just to understand the chemistry with the young guys,” he said. “We can play around with rotations and just get a vibe of what the following season, when we’re all healthy, looks like.”