The Fundamentals

» April 15, 2009 10:56 AM | By Brandon Hoffman

Frank Isola of the Daily News:  “Don’t feel too bad for Isiah. He’ll get $7 million next season from the Knicks to live in Miami and coach a college team. His personality is best suited for the college game where recruiting is 80 percent of the battle. A few years back Isiah flew to Los Angeles to meet with free agent-to-be Kobe Bryant, armed with nothing more than the mid-level exception. Call him foolish, but Thomas believed he could charm Kobe into taking considerably less money to come to the New York. But we all know in the NBA that money talks. (Come to think of it, it does at some major college programs as well.) The point is Thomas is made for the recruiting game. Just wait until he heads home to the South Side of Chicago and sits in the living room of a top high school prospect. He’ll sell the family the Miami sun, a chance to play in the NBA and mostly Isiah will sell Isiah Thomas. That’s what he does best.”

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:  “Months before his banishment to the bench to coach the New York Knicks, Isiah Thomas made a mid-winter scouting trip to South Beach replete with the 5-star hotel and lavish amenities befitting the emperor of Madison Square Garden. The expense report was detailed, but the scouting report was a little light. Upon inspection, the University of Miami had been on the road. There was no ACC basketball, no pro prospects in town. Just Isiah, an expense account and several days and nights on Ocean Drive. This time, Thomas will burn through someone else’s cash in South Florida. He’s been hired as the basketball coach at Florida International University, and Thomas can make history here. This job gives Thomas the chance to obliterate programs in the NBA, CBA and now, NCAA. Already, Thomas is talking about how he’s always wanted to coach college basketball, about how taking a job in the Sun Belt Conference was about a challenge, a choice. He isn’t going to FIU because he wants to, but because there’s nothing else for him.”

Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post:  “It wasn’t long after the Los Angeles Lakers finished off their four-game sweep of the Nuggets last spring that assistant coach Tim Grgurich met with Karl. ‘We can’t keep doing what we’re doing,’ Grgurich said. Karl knew he was right. So he changed. He went back to a defensive emphasis, as he had done in Seattle, where he had some of the best defenders in the league — Gary Payton, Nate McMillan — harassing and trapping opponents into submission. In Denver, he fell in love with the running game; shoot first, ask questions later, Phoenix-style. It fell apart come playoff time. The emphasis all changed in training camp last fall, when Karl replaced recklessness with discipline and execution. The early-season trade for point guard Chauncey Billups was the final piece of the puzzle, giving Karl a floor leader on par with those he had in prior stops, such as Payton in Seattle and Sam Cassell in Milwaukee. The Nuggets responded with one of the best seasons in team history.”

Marcus Thompson II of the Contra Costa Times:  “‘People don’t understand how smart he is,’ said forward Rob Kurz, who calls Turiaf his best friend on the team. ‘He’s always in the right place. You know he’s always got your back.’ Ronny Turiaf is smiling. His understudy, rookie forward Anthony Randolph, had 20 points and 15 rebounds against New Orleans’ All-Star forward David West on April 3. But what people will remember most about the performance was Randolph’s missed break-away dunk in the final moments. It was an opportunity for Turiaf to step in and offer some words of encouragement, an opportunity he was all too happy to seize. ‘He’s part of the reason I’ve developed so much in such a short time,’ Randolph said. ‘He’s unselfish. He’s a great leader, on and off the court. He’s one of the best teammates you can have.’”

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman:  “A survey by The Oklahoman of all 15 Thunder players yielded 13 players who are in favor of Brooks returning as the full-time coach. Chucky Atkins declined to comment, and Russell Westbrook was non-committal. But even with overwhelming support from players and a growing segment of the fan base in favor of lifting Brooks’ interim tag, general manager Sam Presti has been unwavering in his desire to defer contract talks until the off-season. Since taking over for fired coach P.J. Carlesimo on Nov. 22, only 13 games into the season, Brooks has compiled a win-loss record of 21-47. His best stretch was a 10-9 record from New Year’s Eve through Feb. 8. From Dec. 19 through March 10, the Thunder went 15-17, supplying optimism for what the team could accomplish under Brooks while overshadowing a 2-17 start and a 4-13 limp to the finish line.”

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune:  “Clearly, the problems start with Steve Nash, who tries hard but just can’t cover anyone. Nash, however, isn’t going anywhere. ‘Steve is the face of the franchise,’ Kerr said. ‘He’s still one of the top point guards in the league. He hasn’t really shown signs to me of slowing down. He’s still a great player, he’s still our guy and he’s still the guy who makes things work for us, so I want him to end his career here.’ OK, Nash is staying put. But that means Kerr has to try to trade Shaquille O’Neal. The two are oil and water against the pick-and-roll. Nash can’t keep opposing guards in front of him, and O’Neal isn’t quick enough to jump out, then get back and protect the lane. Kerr seemed to admit as much Tuesday, saying that if the Suns don’t change their personnel, ‘We can’t be great (defensively). I think that’s safe to say. One of the things you have to do in this league is you have to have active big guys,’ Kerr added.”

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:  “Winter is with the Lakers two weeks every month, which limits the time he can spend with his wife, Nancy, at their residence in Portland, Ore. ‘It makes it tough on her and on me and everybody else too,’ he said. Winter, who got his first coaching gig as an assistant at Kansas State shortly after World War II, still has plenty of thoughts on the Lakers’ playoff possibilities, emphasizing the importance of team play. ‘I think that Kobe [Bryant]is going to have to involve his teammates more,’ Winter said. ‘When he doesn’t score, just like that game against Memphis, he was third or fourth in scoring and we win big. Maybe that’s not the greatest yardstick, but it’s an indication to me that it’s still a team game, and I think that’s the way we’ve got to play. If we can get these other guys involved, they’ll come through.’”

David Moore of The Dallas Morning News:  “Jason Terry chooses his words carefully. The line between confidence and arrogance is razor thin. He can’t afford to slip and give the Mavericks first-round opponent additional motivation. ‘I’m not making a guarantee,’ Terry said. ‘But I know if we play the way we’ve been playing of late, we’re going to get out of the first round. That’s not a question. How far we’re going to go is the question. ‘But we’re going to go.’ Here’s my guarantee. If this group fails to move past the first round for the third consecutive year, if it fails to rediscover the promise generated by a trip to The Finals, this nucleus won’t be together next season. A win over Houston tonight in the final game of the regular season would give the Mavericks at least 50 wins for the ninth consecutive year. That’s impressive. It will also be their lowest victory total in the last nine years.”

Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune:  “Here’s the truth about Jerry Sloan at the end of this regular season: His team hasn’t played well, he hasn’t motivated his players well, some of his decisions haven’t panned out, and he deserves a portion of the blame for the Jazz’s ineptitude. Despite his recent complaints about detractors — ‘If you’ve never coached, you can sit up in the stands and coach all you want, but you still don’t know what this game is about,’ he told reporters on Monday — Sloan is man enough, should be man enough, to see his mistakes and shortcomings clearly. ‘I’m not perfect,’ he said. ‘But I do it the only way I know how. A lot of coaches are smarter than I am. I’ve made mistakes, but everybody makes ‘em.’ Sloan’s best attribute is the general tone he sets for the Jazz through his example and persona. He expects players to show up, work hard, do their jobs, and play team basketball, the same way he was taught to do four decades ago. He’s earned the respect of his players with his toughness, his drive to win, and his longevity. But that doesn’t mean his players will listen to him or live up to his standard.”

Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News:  “He looked a step behind the action at times, particularly on the defensive end. His rebounding wasn’t what he hoped it would be, and he didn’t block many shots. His fitness was good, but not as good as he believes it will be soon. Asked for his goals for Tuesday’s finale against the Utah Jazz, Bynum said, ‘Get a double-double. My rebounding has been kind of lacking.’ Overall, Bynum was averaging 14.1points, eight rebounds and 1.78blocks in 28.9 minutes this season. He missed 32 games after tearing a knee ligament. ‘Being satisfied and being pleased are two different things,’ Lakers coach Phil Jackson said when asked if he was satisfied by Bynum’s play so far.”

Marc Berman of the New York Post:  “Mike D’Antoni only gets defensive when he’s asked about his defense — ranked second-worst in the NBA. Entering tonight’s season finale vs. the Nets, the Knicks (31-50) have allowed 108.2 ppg — ranked 29th. They also have the second-worst opponent FG percentage at 48.2 percent — their most appalling figure since 1988-89. The normally amiable D’Antoni got angry when The Post asked him about the poor numbers. D’Antoni has been ultra-sensitive about his rep as a poor defensive coach, dating to Phoenix. ‘We’ll try to get much better defensively and offensively,’ D’Antoni snapped. ‘Whoever says we can win 62 games in Phoenix and not play defense is off the track. They have no idea what they’re talking about. . . . You don’t win 62 games, go 31-10 on the road and make a plus-23 in games from the year before without playing both. It irks me. I laugh at it. There’s some people who are screwy.’”

Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:  “Allen had charged Varejao with committing a dirty play after they locked up while trying to get position during a free throw attempt. Varejao threw Allen to the ground, and the Celts guard came back up with an elbow to the Cleveland center’s privates. ‘I was surprised he was suspended, with as many elbows as there are that get thrown in this league,’ Rivers said. ‘I guess it was more the location of the elbow. The problem is that Varejao flops all game, and does that crap all game. I didn’t know you could sling a guy down to the floor.’ Rivers then tried to shrug the incident off with a little humor. ‘(Allen) said he wasn’t allowed to have his annual Easter Egg hunt on Sunday,’ he said, ‘so he had to make up for it.’”

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle:  “Von Wafer went from McDonald’s High School All American to star at Florida State to, finally, nowhere. The Lakers selected him in the second round of the 2005 draft, then released him. The Clippers, Nuggets and Blazers all showed him the door as well. Coaches either didn’t have minutes for him or thought he was too undisciplined. Low point? ‘I was the 30th pick in the D-league one year,’ he said. ‘That’s just frustrating.’ So last summer after playing 46 NBA games in three years, he found himself on an icy free-agent market. ‘The Rockets were the only team that wanted me,’ he said. ‘I was contemplating going overseas to play. I thought maybe I needed to go someplace else, prove I could play and come back over here. I finally got a chance.’ Funny how things work out. General manager Daryl Morey, who has done a phenomenal job rebuilding the roster around Yao Ming, signed Wafer because ‘the scouting reports and data lined up.’”

Cavs the Blog:  “His leadership is evident; a center is expected to be a defensive anchor, but LeBron has gone above and beyond to not coast on defense but instill a defensive mentality from the small forward position. His chase-down blocks are the most YouTube-able defensive plays this side of LaPhonso Ellis, and have the kind of asthetic sense of wonder long attributed to Kobe’s picture-perfect twisting fadeaway 24-footers that somehow managed to be insane and textbook at the same time. He’s smarter on that end than Howard, and never gets into foul trouble or bites hard. In crunch-time, where most of the offense is simple ISOs or pick-and-rolls, he’s much more valuable shutting down the other team’s money player than Howard is helping. By non-advanced metrics, the Cavaliers appear easily the best defensive team in the league. It’s interesting that he’s not reaping the benefits of the logic that went against him in MVP/’best player’ arguments for years on the defensive side of the coin.”

Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:  “Love’s final task this morning is a reminder of this season, when first Randy Wittman and then Kevin McHale steadfastly, stubbornly moderated his playing time. Their resolve might have kept the former UCLA star out of the All-Star rookie-sophomore game and from being more in the discussion for Rookie of the Year. It also — along with Al Jefferson’s season-ending knee injury in February — perhaps allowed him to surge in the season’s final weeks while O.J. Mayo, for whom he was traded, swooned after carrying too heavy a burden for too long. All Love likely will carry this morning is a couple of dozen doughnuts from his local Lund’s bakery. All season, the rookie has been obligated to gather and lug his teammates’ sneakers and bring the morning treats, even if they often get left untouched. ‘A lot,’ Love said when asked how much he has spent on pastry this season. ‘All my per diem. I’ll get ‘em and people won’t eat ‘em. I guess it’s more principle than anything else.’”

Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:  “Partners in the Charlotte Bobcats have been told to expect roughly $35 million in cash losses over the next two years, people familiar with the situation told the Observer. Those sources said majority owner Bob Johnson recently requested about $28 million in a cash call from his partners, and was generally turned down by the group. As the Bobcats conclude their fifth season tonight in Orlando, they finish the season with their best record (currently 35-46), but have yet to reach the playoffs. Michael Thompson, Bobcats director of corporate communications, said the team doesn’t comment publicly ‘on the specifics of our financial situation.’ Despite the losses, it seems unlikely the Bobcats would consider a move out of Charlotte in the foreseeable future.”

5 Responses to “The Fundamentals”

  1. Tsunami Says:

    WHAT?!?!?!? Someone tried to prove that LeBron was a good defender with stats?! ANd you POSTED THEM!?!??!?!?!

    Didn’t I do that like 2 months ago and you didn’t like it????????????


  2. Tsunami Says:

    Wow – truehoop linked to it as well….

    I’m kinda sad now. Oh well, at least the truth is getting out there, regardless of whom it’s coming from.

  3. Brandon Hoffman Says:


    You made a good argument in your blog. So did Krolik. But I don’t think either one of you “proved” anything. There are too many unquantifiable variables on the defensive end. That said, I’m in agreement with both of you. LeBron has played All-NBA caliber defense this season. But I don’t need to look opposing players’ PER ratings or Cleveland’s point differential when he’s off the floor. I’ve watched him lock people down and play great helpside defense all season. I have him second on my DPOY ballot. From what I’ve seen, most analysts have placed James right behind Dwight Howard.

    I disagreed with the premise of your blog because you insisted that Rosen “insulted” LeBron by placing him behind Kobe and Wade.

    Also, this may come as a surprise to you, but I link to things I disagree with all the time.


  4. Tsunami Says:

    No No No, LeBron being “insulted” was just the intended consequence of what it was that I was arguging against – that is, making a very definitive claim with zero evidence whatsoever to back it up. We’ve been through this.

    And I know you link to stuff you don’t agree with. Hell you didn’t agree with the stuff I wrote for you but you still posted it. I know you’re fair.

  5. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    Appreciate that.

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