The Fundamentals

» September 24, 2008 7:25 AM | By Brandon Hoffman

CavsHQ:  “If we add 105 LeBron free throw points to the Cavs’ overall total from last year, they outscore their opponents 8008-7932.  But the point difference is still very small relative to the whole season, and the expected number of wins only climbs to 41.2.  By the simple (and relatively accurate) measure of Pythagorean Win-Loss record, a better free throw shooting LeBron would make almost no difference over the course of a season (approximately 1/3 of a win). But that’s over the season, and as we’ve already seen with the Cavaliers last year, Pythagorean Win-Loss records don’t tell the whole story.  What about each game?  How many more games would the Cavs have won (or lost) if LeBron shot 80% from the free throw line?  What if he shot 85%?  While each game is different, and has an ebb and flow all its own, guess how many games LeBron James could have changed if he was a good, or even great, free throw shooter.  Do you have a number in mind? 3 Games.  That’s right, only 3 games last season were decided by the free throw prowress, or lack thereof, of LeBron James.”

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Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News:  “The year, as memory recalls, was 1996. Or maybe ‘97. Covering the Rockets in those days, I was on a road trip to one of the great destinations the NBA ever lost, Vancouver. After the game, I joined Charles Barkley and some other Rockets for a little late-night snack and cold beverage. Soon, Shareef Abdur-Rahim walked in. Barkley immediately put his arm around the then-rookie and told him to sit down right next to Barkley. For the next hour, Barkley told Abdur-Rahim how the rookie had no clue how good he could be. Charles pointed to Abdur-Rahim’s rebounding, then below seven per game, and said that as athletic and flat-out good as the kid was, there’s no way he shouldn’t be a 10-rebound player. A few years later, Abdur-Rahim was a 10-rebound player. And he would be a gifted scorer for years. But the point of this is to show that there are many reasons why potential superstars in the NBA never get to that level. For Abdur-Rahim, it was a bum knee.”

Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star:  “I had a chance to catch up with some of Pacers officials Monday after talking with coach Jim O’Brien. I mentioned to them that I heard players have been committed to working out this summer. One person responded, “It’s totally different. You don’t have to grab them by the arm and push them into the gym.” That should be good news for Pacers fans. Roy Hibbert told me last month that he went around the Indianapolis area looking for five-on-five games. School wasn’t in yet when he tried to get runs in at IU and Butler. Can you imagine the 7-2 Hibbert, sporting Pacers practice gear, walking into the local “Y” and saying he had the next run. I wouldn’t be upset if he swatted my shot in the stands. Hibbert’s addiction to the gym is similar to a former Pacer that’s one of the league’s best all-around players when he’s mentally focused. Ron Artest would often play pickup games at IUPUI and the Jewish Community Center during the offseason.”

Dave D’Alessandro of The Star Ledger:  “Vandeweghe, however, can be optimistic. He helped turn the Dallas Mavericks into a decade-long power as their personnel director. Then, as GM, he dragged Denver out of a mudhole to turn that franchise into a perennial playoff team in just three years. In both cases, he followed a blueprint, one that takes guts and foresight, because it always starts with the fire sale the Nets have already completed. The next step is just as difficult. “Focusing on a system that develops your young players, developing your assets,” Vandeweghe said. “You’ve got 15 assets. That’s what you have to work with, and you can either look at them as depreciating assets or you can look at them as guys you are investing in. We’ve sort of taken the second view, which is investing in our assets, spending time, teaching them how to play basketball and building from within. And I think that’s the right way to do it.”"

Joel Brigham of HOOPSWORLD: “This go’n get ugly. But don’t blame the Bulls; they’ve had a fair offer on the table for him for weeks. You can’t really blame the agent either; they can advise a player all they want but at the end of the day it’s the player’s decision to take a deal or leave it. No, this one’s on Gordon himself, which should blow the mind of anyone with any common sense or knowledge of BG’s market value and talent relative to his paycheck knows is an insane decision. He’s not the first guy to do the holdout thing. Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao played this game last season and did nothing but lose money. Offers declined and games came and went without a paycheck. Bonzi Wells turned down a $40 million extension just a couple seasons ago, and now he’s unemployed. And no one will ever forget Latrell Sprewell turning down $8 million a year because he had to “feed his family.” Since then he’s had his luxury yacht repossessed. Turning down big money is risky business.”

Blog a Bull:  “I’m curious to see how the Bulls will approach the issue of Gordon potentially missing camp and preseason. Will they try and get him to sign the qualifying offer or the deal before camp starts? We all remember how ‘distractions’ were a convenient(and possibly true) excuse for the bad start to last season. In a recent Pax interview, he stressed the importance of everyone feeling good and on the same page heading into the season. But looking at it from Ben Gordon’s position, while the Bulls’ rumored 6/$59 offer is ultimately still 59 million guaranteed dollars, the first year figure of that rumored deal is only $1.4m than what he’d make on the qualifying offer. So it’s not that much risk in that first season to take the QO, with the obvious caveat that he secures a significant long-term deal in the next offseason.”

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A. Sherrod Blakely of MLive.com:  “”I think looking at our guys, we have 10 guys that have been playing minutes at times throughout,” Curry said. “Our goal is to not set a number, but to prepare guys to play certain roles.” To achieve that, Curry will have to trim some minutes from starters, who are accustomed to playing in the mid-to-high 30-minutes-per-game range. Last season, former Pistons coach Flip Saunders tried something similar, which led to open resentment by some starters. Curry doesn’t expect that to be an issue this season. “I’ve told our players this summer when I’ve talked to them, we have a very talented team; not just our starting five,” Curry said. “Sometimes you’re going to come out of the game not because you’re tired or because you made mistakes, but because it’s time for other guys to get a chance to get out on the court and play and perform as well.”"

Mike Jensen of The Philadelphia Inquirer:  “Arnie Wexler has worked with compulsive gamblers for three decades. He doesn’t usually get hate mail for it. “I got one from Pennsylvania saying what a [bad guy] I am. I supported this guy. I supported a criminal,” Wexler said. He’s referring to disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy, the Cardinal O’Hara High graduate who yesterday reported to a federal prison camp in Pensacola, Fla., to begin serving a 15-month sentence for felony gambling charges. “He’s just another compulsive gambler I’m trying to help,” Wexler said, noting he “never took a penny” from Donaghy or his attorney. He has exchanged frequent phone calls and e-mails with Donaghy, he said. “This sickness makes you a bad guy,” Wexler said. “I know. I ripped off everybody.”"

David Moore of The Dallas Morning News:  “The first 3 ½ months of this season are crucial. If Kidd plays well and the team clicks under new coach Rick Carlisle, fears about moving into the future with an AARP point guard will subside. But if this doesn’t work, if Johnson turns out to be right, the Mavericks can move Kidd before the trade deadline in February. Even if Kidd’s skills have declined, teams will be interested in the flexibility provided by his expiring contract. The key here is the Mavericks must decide before the deadline. The club is so far over the salary cap that Kidd’s contract gives them no relief. Keep him past the deadline and the team has no room to sign a replacement moving forward. “I’m not so much thinking about the contract,” Kidd said. “I will let the work speak for itself. If I go out and have a good season, then maybe Mark will talk to Jeff about the extension. My play will dictate what happens.”"

Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel:  “The Magic, who open training camp next Tuesday at RDV Sportsplex, want to get an idea what it will take to re-sign him.  Turkoglu could ask for a contract similar to small forward Corey Maggette’s. Maggette signed a free-agent contract worth a reported $50 million for five years this summer with Golden State.  The Magic already have three hefty contracts in place: Rashard Lewis ($116 million over six years), Dwight Howard ($85 million over five years) and Jameer Nelson (about $40 million over five years.) Asked if the Magic could afford Turkoglu at an average of $10 million a season– given the punitive luxury tax — Smith said, “Anything is doable if you want to remain competitive. It’s a matter of how creative we can get as it relates to his contract. I’m not sure how the numbers will come in.”"

Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Edge:  “One of the routine conversations I’ve had with old school NBA players turned coaches has to do with the lack of fire in today’s generation of players. In Memphis, the Griz have hardly employed teams that battled in practice. Scraping, clawing, elbowing, pushing, shoving and fighting – something called ‘competing’ in practice back in the day – seems to be lost in today’s world of guaranteed contracts and coddled athletes. At least, that’s what real veterans of the game convey. Sure, the Griz have had their share of knuckleheads through the years. But the idea of fighting for a job as if a player’s livelihood depends on it is something that hasn’t been part of the culture with the Grizzlies. I suspect that’s about to change after recently watching informal workouts/pick-up games. For the first time in Memphis Grizzlies history – and I’m the only beat writer the team has worked with – a fiery, healthy, competitive spirit is evident AND we’re talking about practice. We’re talking about practice, y’all.”

Lakers Blog: Greg Oden on Andrew Bynum [Audio]

Howard Beck of The New York Times:  “Last week, a veteran Knicks player said he had been assured that Marbury would be gone before the team’s media day, next Monday. The Knicks leave for training camp in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., that day. A number of other people with close ties to the team reiterated Tuesday that they were certain that Marbury would not be present next week. But Walsh, saying that he did not wish to prejudge anyone, insisted that nothing was in motion. “He’s under contract and the intention is to come to training camp,” Walsh said Tuesday afternoon. In a later interview with ESPN.com, Walsh used stronger phrasing, declaring, “He’s coming to camp.” Walsh repeated the statement through a team spokesman Tuesday night. Most of the Knicks’ veterans have been working out together and scrimmaging at the team’s training center for more than a week. Marbury has participated only once, on Monday.”

Ira Winderman of The Miami Sun-Sentinel:  “Can Stephon Marbury be a system player? Can instinct give way to order? Can the drama be reduced to the point where he not only is a supporting player on the court, but also a marginalized presence in the locker room? To a degree, everything in New York is grand theater. And it certainly becomes magnified when Larry Brown or Isiah Thomas are on the same stage. But what the Heat needs now, has to have now, is a player who gets the heck out of Dwyane Wade’s way, while also helping Michael Beasley find his way. With Pat Riley on the bench, the concerns would be eased. With first-year coach Erik Spoelstra, the concerns are legitimate.”

Cavalier Attitude:  “Had this situation presented itself a year ago, it might have required looking into far more than many fans are going to. But after acquiring Mo Williams from Milwaukee – a younger guy with less baggage and more production, at least as of late – it may not be necessary. Still, the cost for Starbury will be considerably less – considerably less – and he could be added to what is already a solid rotation off the bench. At the very least, he would give the Cavs a legit and proven scoring option. He can play either guard position, and he’d add athleticism to a group that, outside of LeBron James, needs it badly. It will reduce that eyesore known as “playing time for Wally Szczerbiak,” and it will officially move Szczerbiak from the “player” to “expiring contract” status, something the Cavs primarily wanted him for, anyways.”

Celtics 17:  “Judge for yourself, but I am a firm believer that people can . . . and do change, albeit slowly at times. You don’t need to look any further than Paul Pierce, not that he was ever a bad person, but Doc Rivers worked with a player that has been called a ball hog and lazy on defense at times . . . sounds like Marbury to me.  And I think that Doc Rivers is a helluva better player’s coach than Isiah Thomas, Larry Brown or Mike D’Antoni, and that appears to be what these “bad boy” stars need sometimes.  Doc Rivers, former Coach of the Year, go figure . . . There’s also the bond that KG and Marbury had at one time – and I just don’t see anyone crossing KG at this point in his career, or crossing this Celtics team with the determined starters they have in Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, KG and Kendrick Perkins. That is one driven no-nonsense bunch of serious basketball players when they take the court together. Just ask the other NBA teams that lost a total of 66 times to them last year.”

Art Thompson III of The Orange County Register:  “But why wouldn’t the Lakers consider adding the multi-talented Marbury as perhaps the final piece to what appears to be a championship-caliber roster? Although he is 31 years old, Marbury still has the quickness and dribble breakdown ability to get into the lane at will, either to dish off for assists or finish at the basket. When he is on, Marbury is a prolific 3-point shooter. With arguably the NBA’s most esteemed coach at the helm, in Phil Jackson, and the league’s best player, Kobe Bryant, whose tunnel-vision focus is to win a championship, Marbury surely would have to get into lock step with the Lakers’ way. So, why would there be any hesitation to sign him? Because when things aren’t going his way, Marbury can develop a funky attitude. Early last season, I asked a few Knicks players and team officials about Marbury and the first reaction was a rolling of the eyes.”

Henry Abbott of ESPN.com:  “So, while it is a big mystery how different qualities from different players fit together to make a winner, it is no mystery at all what happens when you trust Marbury to win your team games. The questions for the other 29 teams are: If you put together all of the many different qualities of Stephon Marbury, do you get a package that can help your team win basketball games? Can he bring your franchise success? Can he make your offense and your defense more efficient than some other player you might give those minutes to? The answer, each and every year for the last twelve years, has been “no.”"


One Response to “The Fundamentals”

  1. xphoenix87 Says:

    If you sign Stephon Marbury, you deserve what’s coming to you. He’s proven over and over that he’s not going to help your team win. “Unsuccessful veteran shoot-first point guard with a significant amount of crazy mixed in” is not really a resume I’d be clamoring to hire.

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