The Fundamentals

» January 6, 2010 8:28 AM | By Brandon Hoffman

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “I acknowledge that it’s sheer folly to try to make determinations on a long NBA season after one bad road trip, but I still have to ask: WHAT UP WITH VINCE CARTER? The guy has been horrible and, if you’re Magic coach Stan Van Gundy you have to start wondering when he’s going to start playing better. The man they use to call ’Vinsanity’ is driving Magic fans to insanity. He had another awful shooting night (2-of-15) in Tuesday night’s embarrassing 97-90 loss to the lowly, undermanned Indiana Pacers. Is it because Carter is playing on a tender left ankle or should Magic fans start being concerned that, after a dozen years in the league, Vince doesn’t have the incredible spring in his step that he once did? I never thought I’d ever say this, but maybe Magic coach Stan Van Gundy should figure out a way for J.J. Redick to take more shots and

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Vince Carter to take less. So far this season, Carter is the worst shooter on the team (.393) and he is shooting the worst percentage of his career.”

Dave McMenamin of “Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has a theory. In an interview with ESPN 710’s Steve Mason and John Ireland on Tuesday, Morey said he thinks height is overrated. This is basketball we’re talking about, right Daryl? A sport where the 7-foot-7 Kenny George could get a scholarship to a Division I school without being able to run a wind sprint without his knees swelling up the size of balloons; where men spend hours educating their players in all the finer aspects of team defense but just shrug their shoulders when a post player reaches to the heavens for a put-back dunk (‘You can’t teach height’); where 30 out of the last 40 No. 1 picks in the NBA Draft play either center or power forward. Does Morey still think height is overrated after the Lakers simply outsized the Rockets to win 88-79 on Tuesday? Los Angeles held a 50-36 advantage on the boards and a 48-36 control over points in the paint.”

Tom Moore of “Allen Iverson insisted he didn’t wonder if the Sixers would pick up his non-guaranteed contract by today’s deadline. ‘Honestly, I hadn’t even thought about it. I didn’t really know anything about it until this morning,’ said Iverson, breaking into a laugh. The Sixers informed Iverson and the media Tuesday that they’d guaranteed Iverson’s contract for the remainder of the season. They could’ve waived him and subtracted his veterans-minimum salary today, if they wanted to. The Sixers will end up paying Iverson roughly $700,000. ‘Since his arrival, Allen has done everything asked of him and been an excellent teammate,’ said Sixers president Ed Stefanski in a release. Iverson, 34, averaged 15.7 points, 4.7 assists and 33.2 minutes in his first nine games for the Sixers since signing Dec. 3. He missed four games with left knee arthritis. ‘The only frustrating part of the whole thing was getting into playing shape and dealing with my knee,’ said Iverson, a 14th-year pro. ‘That’s been the only rough part of this whole thing.’”

Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: “Carlos Boozer, usually one to smile and joke with teammates while warming up before practices, was in a rather somber mood before Tuesday’s team workout. The Utah Jazz’s current slump is weighing heavily on the power forward’s mind. ‘I’m frustrated. I think we have a lot more capability on this team,’ Boozer said the morning after a disappointing 91-87 home loss to New Orleans. ‘I think we have a group of guys that can compete for a title, and right now we’re not looking like that team.’ The 18-16 Jazz, rather, are looking an awful lot — emphasis on awful — like a lottery team that they’re currently positioned to become. Boozer says the Jazz, who’ve lost five of seven games, need to focus on execution, taking care of the ball, making good passes, being unselfish and playing defense. Other than that, though, Utah’s doing great. Change, Boozer believes, must start with each player. ‘Individually, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and try to dig out every ounce of passion and energy that we have,’ Boozer said. ‘And collectively we’ve got to do the same thing. We’ve got to do whatever it takes to win the games.’”

Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: “The Warriors are poised to post a video online that shows Anthony Morrow making 23 of 25 three-point tries, using ball racks to re-create the same format used in the league’s three-point competition. Apparently, leading the NBA in three-point shooting last season with a 46.7 percentage doesn’t guarantee the guard an invite to All-Star Weekend. ‘I don’t think it’s like that with anybody else,’ Morrow said. ‘If anyone else led the league in three-point shooting, I’m pretty sure they’d be in the three-point contest the next year. I understand, though. I’m used to being an underdog.’ Morrow was undrafted out of Georgia Tech and still hadn’t convinced NBA executives that he could play in the league after shooting 73.9 percent on 23 three-point tries in the 2008 summer leagues. In fact, his $736,420 contract for this season won’t be officially guaranteed until today.”

Michael Wallace of the Miami Herald: “There was a time not too long ago when Heat president Pat Riley flat-out refused to bring in a point guard Rafer-alston to start ahead of anointed prospect Mario Chalmers. Now, if the latest developments flow into fruition as expected, the Heat will soon have its second starting-caliber point guard to presumably jump ahead of Chalmers in the rotation. But this is not about Chalmers, the so-so second-year guard who has been cast as the Heat’s steal of the 2008 draft and the franchise’s face for the present and future at the position. It is, however, about the ability to improve the Heat’s standing in the standings and in the basketball accounting department. The Heat appears on the verge of a reunion with point guard Rafer Alston, who was bought out by the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday and could be in a Miami uniform by the time the team leaves Thursday for its six-game West trip.”

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: “One hamstring injury was bad enough, so the Lakers are taking a long look at Pau Gasol’s daily regimen after the forward-center sustained his second strained hamstring this season. The Lakers are studying his diet as well as his tendency to work more on his upper body than lower body in the weight room. (Not that Gasol is a burly, muscle-bound type, but the team wants him to work out his legs more often when he returns from his most recent injury.) The good news, if there is any for the Lakers, comes from the fact that Gasol’s strain in his left hamstring is a Grade 1 instead of the more serious Grade 2 strain in his right hamstring that kept him out of the season’s first 11 games. ‘There actually is an insignificant amount of tear,’ Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. ‘But it’s something we want to prevent from being anything greater and so does he. We’re hoping this is, like, game to game.’”

Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express News: “DeJuan Blair has been a Spur for only 32 regular-season games, but he’s already learned an important lesson: Be ready for anything from coach Gregg Popovich. Blair was one of two Spurs frontline starters who opened Sunday’s game against the Toronto Raptors on the bench. The other, of course, was team captain Tim Duncan, whose absence at the opening tip made Blair’s return to the bench nothing but a footnote. ‘It looked a little funny out there with Tim not starting,’ he said. ‘At the same time, he did it for a reason. Tim needed a little bit of a rest, and he got it. He came in and still played well. ‘Coach Pop knows what he’s doing. You’ve just got to be ready on any given night. Whether you’re starting or coming off the bench, you’ve got to come out there and bring energy. I think I’m the team’s energy guy.’ Blair laughed at the suggestion he might be approaching the mythical ‘rookie wall.’ ‘Rookie wall?’ he said ‘Uh-uh. I’m just playing. I think the rookie wall is for rookies who have a lot on their plate. I don’t really have a lot. I just have to come and play and give a little energy. We’ve got the rest of the team. I’m just energy, so I don’t think I’m hitting any wall.’”

Ken Sugiura of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The Hawks are in their worst slump of the season, and they hope meetings are the solution. After losing their past four and six of their past eight, the Hawks held a players-only meeting Tuesday, which followed a post-practice meeting led by coach Mike Woodson. ‘It was just guys talking about what we need to do,’ forward Marvin Williams said. ‘It was all positive, all positive things.’ The Hawks, who play Wednesday at home against New Jersey, have not had much positive to talk about lately. They fell behind by 25 points midway through the second quarter Monday against Miami en route to a 92-75 loss. They are 21-12 — still the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference — but are reeling. Players said the change has to start on defense. Over the past eight games, the Hawks are allowing opponents to shoot 48 percent from the floor, which is what the second-worst team in the league in that category was averaging before Tuesday’s games.”

Colin Stephenson of The Star-Ledger: “Everyone understands the Nets’ current philosophy. The young kids have to play, period. They have to play so they can develop, and they have to develop in order for the team to have a shot to win on a consistent and sustained basis in the future. So the Nets are committed to making sure that Yi Jianlian, Courtney Lee, Terrence Williams continue to get their minutes, no matter what happens. ‘Could we play more veterans and maybe eke out a couple more wins? Possibly,’’ coach/GM Kiki Vandeweghe said at Tuesday’s shootaround, before the Nets hosted the Milwaukee Bucks. ‘But right now, we’re choosing to stay the course.’ Certainly, it’s fine to have a plan and stick to it – even as the losses continue to pile up at a dizzying rate. But isn’t there some point in the development process for young players, where winning becomes important, too? After all, if the young players continue to play and the team continues to lose at the rate it has all season – 3-30 before Tuesday night’s game – is there a risk that all their ample playing time is doing is teaching the kids how to play just well enough to lose?”

Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star: “OK, Larry Bird. Your mess, your time to clean it up. Everybody knows Bird, the Indiana Pacers president, has absolutely no desire to leave his office and coach the motley collection of talent he has cobbled together for this lost 2009-10 season. But he has no real choice, not as his team continues to circle the drain, losing by 20 points, playing with neither pride nor passion. Tuesday night against Orlando? Yes, an astonishing aberration, a 97-90 victory that came out of nowhere. A career night for Roy Hibbert, who outplayed All-Star Dwight Howard. A solid two-way effort x from Brandon Rush. A glimpse into what-might-be if only the Pacers came to play every night, as opposed to once every five games. It changes nothing. Bird needs to fire coach Jim O’Brien now — even though, truth be told, this isn’t completely O’Brien’s fault. Bird needs to install himself as the coach. His mess, his cleanup. [...] O’Brien walked into an impossible situation — think Orlando’s Stan Van Gundy made the right call when he turned down the Pacers’ job? — and Bird inherited a dysfunctional mess. He inherited a bad situation and did a good job jettisoning Jermaine O’Neal’s contract. But there have been too many mistakes during the rebuilding process, too many errors for Simon to ignore as he contemplates Bird’s future at season’s end.”

Chris Mannix of “Opportunity rarely knocks for teams with bloated payrolls, underachieving players and more long-term contracts than a bailed-out Fortune 500 company. But for the Washington Wizards, it’s banging on their door. And all they have to do is open it and shove Gilbert Arenas right out. With the latest incident involving the three-time All-Star guard, in which D.C. police are investigating whether Arenas, who has admitted to bringing four unloaded handguns into the Verizon Center, brandished a weapon in a threatening manner toward teammate Javaris Crittenton, the Wizards have let the rest of the league know they are open for business. According to multiple league sources, Washington is making its entire roster available and is open to all trades, including for players who bring less talent but have shorter contracts. But while interest in veterans, like Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, has been strong, sources told that teams aren’t too keen on obtaining Arenas. Along with his obvious baggage from this gun incident, Arenas has had three knee surgeries over the last 2½ years, limiting him to 48 games in that span; he is in the second-year of a six-year, $111 million contract, meaning any team that trades for him now will be on the hook for about $90 million over the next 4½ years; and his teams have won only one series in four postseason appearances. But Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld, who allegedly was the one to report Arenas’ firearms to NBA security, may have another option — one he’s seriously considering should Arenas be charged with a crime: void his contract.”

David Steele of FanHouse: “In his latest effort to joke around with his teammates, Gilbert Arenas got roughly the same result as the previous ones: sending the wrong message all across the country. As he and the Wizards warmed up before their game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wachovia Center, the players circled Arenas, who pointed his index fingers at them as if they were guns. The image was caught on camera, and the photo — of Arenas’ fingers cocked, a grin on his

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face and on the faces of the other Wizards around him — was plastered all over the Internet by halftime. Afterward, he and the players acknowledged that they were doing a take-off on a touchdown celebration from the movie Any Given Sunday, in which a player sprayed his teammates with pretend gunfire as they all fell back in a circle. They asked me to do it,” Arenas said. After meeting with reporters after the game, Arenas appeared to show remorse on Twitter. ‘I know everybody seen the pre game teammate thought to break the tention we should do that..but this is gettn way to much,’ he wrote, adding a few minutes later, ‘I wanna say sorry if I pissed any body off by us havin fun…I’m sorry for anything u need to blame for for right now.’”

(Photo by Fernando Medina NBAE/Getty Images)

11 Responses to “The Fundamentals”

  1. Chris Humpherys Says:

    There was always a risk involved in picking up half man/half amazing.

    I’m gonna withhold judgment until I see how he performs in the playoffs, but to even hint that Redick should be taking more shots than Vince shows there’s a problem.

    Altho the Dukies probably like it.

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