Points in the Paint

» December 14, 2009 5:37 PM | By Brandon Hoffman
  • NBA.com’s David Aldridge points out that Utah owns New York’s unprotected first-round pick, and could therefore become a major player in next year’s draft: “At worst, though, Utah is sitting on a top 10 pick. That is a potent weapon to own. But Utah also will control what happens with Carlos Boozer. The free-agent-to-be forward is having an All-Star season in his walk year. Do you remember all the hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth last summer, when it was suggested that Boozer couldn’t possibly go back to the SLC after intimating he’d like to be traded to either Chicago or Miami? Um, looks like everything’s working out, wouldn’t you say? Boozer’s averaging 20 points and 11 boards so far, shooting 55 percent from the floor. Yet it’s still unlikely that a) Boozer will re-sign with the Jazz, and b) the Jazz want to re-sign Boozer at the price he’s going to be seeking, with Paul Milsap ready to take over at power forward. And that means Boozer will probably not be in Utah next season. But. Allowing the Jazz to execute a sign-and-trade deal for him would get Boozer an extra year’s salary, as opposed to just signing elsewhere next summer as a free agent. And that gives the Jazz a second significant chip to use next offseason. Here’s where it gets good. What if Utah combines the two?”
  • Mike Prada, writing on SBNation.com, ranks every team in terms of their “watchability.” It’s a long, fun, read, but in the end, it winds up here: “Kobe Bryant may be basketball perfection, in terms of being a skilled player that has the luxury to pick his spots because of the talent of his teammates, but Steve Nash is still the gold standard in terms of entertainment. Maybe it’s because you still can’t imagine how a guy who looks like that makes the plays he does. Maybe it’s because it still feels like every single jump shot he takes is going in. But there’s something about watching Nash and the Suns that makes you smile.”
  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: “Opposing scouts are brutally honest and when several watched the Celtics, they noticed that Rondo was reluctant to shoot, even when open, so that enabled clubs to cover the other four Celtics with five players. The more Rondo pops his jumper, though, the more he demands defensive respect and the more his teammates will get open shots. Rondo continued his offensive tear by dropping 16 points on 6-for-13 shooting in Saturday night’s 106-80 win over the Chicago Bulls. He is averaging 13.1 points and 9.8 assists, with 51 percent shooting from the field and 71 percent from the line over the last nine games. And his aggressiveness on offense is apparent. After attempting just 26 free throws in 14 November games, Rondo has had 19 in six December games, sinking 13.”
  • A profile of Andre Miller by The Columbian’s Brian T. Smith. A highlight: “After 10-plus years, 839 regular-season games and numerous coaches and teammates, Miller considers none of his former allies as close friends. It is not intended as a slight, Miller says. It is simply that the only people he allows into his personal life are either those he grew up with or is now related to: family. And the most cherished and valued confidant in his secret world — a person Miller has turned to often in recent months as drama, controversy and trade rumors have gathered and swirled around him — is a 65-year-old man who never coached basketball above the youth level, and lives more than 2,400 miles away from Portland. Ben Furnace is now retired. He lives with his wife, Terri, in Hutto, Texas, a small town located about 25 miles from Austin. But for 55 years, Furnace resided in Inglewood, Calif., near Los Angeles. And while there, he and his wife developed a relationship with Miller that has persevered through major life and career changes, and remains strong to this day.” The NBA is full of one person can make a difference stories. I’m all about that kind of sap.
  • Sam Smith says it’s time to shift John Salmons to small forward: “We all thought it would work, but it didn’t. John Salmons can’t play shooting guard. He’s shot poorly, but the issue more is quickness. The twos are faster and Salmons can’t keep up or produce from that spot. He loses the edge he had at three. The Bulls, in a desperate situation, have to commit to speed now given that’s the main edge they have. Salmons has to move back to three and Luol Deng to four with Rose and Hinrich in the backcourt and Noah at center. The NBA has become a guard oriented, perimeter league with less contact allowed above the free throw line and fewer true postup players.”
  • Good news for USA Basketball, via ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan: “Regardless of whether it is at full strength, Team USA will not have to face Spain, Greece or Argentina in the opening round of the World Championship next summer in Turkey. On the eve of Tuesday’s draw in Istanbul to determine the six four-team groups for basketball’s equivalent of the World Cup, FIBA awarded No. 1 seeds to those top four teams to ensure competitive balance in assembling the groups. FIBA also decreed that no more than three European teams or two teams from the Americas region would be placed together in any first-round group.”

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