Steph Curry’s role has changed in the wake of the Monta Ellis trade … Ricky Rubio coming back early? … Houston Rockets make some D-League call-ups …
The Golden State Warriors finished the 2011-12 season with an overall record of 23-43. Monta Ellis led the team with 20.4 points per game, David Lee led the team with 9.6 rebounds per game, and Monta Ellis led the team with 6.0 assists per game. The Warriors ranked 12th overall averaging 97.8 points per game while ranking 28th overall allowing 101.2 points per game.
The Milwaukee Bucks finished the 2011-12 season with an overall record of 31-35. Monta Ellis led the team with 20.4 points per game, Ersan Ilyasova led the team with 8.8 rebounds per game, and Monta Ellis led the team with 6.0 assists per game. The Bucks ranked 5th overall averaging 99.0 points per game while ranking 22nd overall allowing 98.7 points per game.
This is a big year for Brandon Jennings, and the Milwaukee Bucks point guard knows it.
After making the playoffs (and a quick first-round exit) during his 2009-10 rookie season, Jennings’ Bucks have turned in two straight sub-.500 campaigns, as the combination of injuries and lackluster offensive production have kept coach Scott Skiles’ team on the outskirts of Eastern Conference postseason contention. With the Bucks in a late-season fight for a playoff berth last year, general manager John Hammond made a somewhat controversial move, shipping oft-injured franchise centerpiece Andrew Bogut and shot-happy swingman Stephen Jackson to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for scoring off-guard Monta Ellis, sophomore big man Ekpe Udoh and the immortal Kwame Brown.
The move was intended to give Skiles some added firepower as the Bucks looked to vault past the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers into the seventh or eighth spot in the East, but while Milwaukee went 12-9 in 21 games after importing Ellis, the Bucks again found themselves on the outside looking in come playoff time. Now, less than two months before players report to training camp for the 2012-13 season, the Bucks find themselves again faced with the question raised by many at the time of the trade: Can Jennings and Ellis, two explosive but small guards who both need the ball to succeed, fit together well enough to push Milwaukee back into the postseason?
Jennings, for his part, seems eager to prove the doubters wrong. From Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel :
“I really want it to work just personally, because everybody is doubting it,” Jennings said in an interview at his youth basketball camp at Homestead High School on Sunday.
“With everybody doubting it, I think it’s important that me and him, we just work together to show everybody it can work.
“Everybody knows we both can score like crazy. But I think everybody thinks we can’t win together. That’s going to be one of our biggest challenges. I’m up for it and I know he is.”
It’s cool that Jennings and Ellis are up for a challenge, because a look at the statistical profile the two put together after Ellis came to Wisconsin suggest that it’s definitely going to be one.
The Bulls have now jettisoned virtually the entire bench mob, largely to release salary. Kyle Korver, $5 million, C.J. Watson, $3.7 million, Ronnie Brewer, $4.4 million and Asik, $2.3 million are all gone, relieving the Bulls of a total of $15.4 million in salary.
In their places will be the likes of Marco Belinelli, Kirk Hinrich, Vladimir Radmanovic, and Mohammed. Jimmy Butler, who will be playing in his second season, will also see more extended playing time in place of Brewer.
Don’t think this means all sorts of financial freedom for the Bulls though, as they’ll still be paying the luxury tax for the first time in team history. In fact they’ll be paying the most they possibly can by league rules next year, $74.4 million in salaries.
They will be securing financial freedom next year though. This year might be a tough one for the Bulls even with them paying the highest salary in club history.
For starters they’ll be missing their superstar Derrick Rose until at least January. Second, their other All-Star, Luol Deng, could miss time at the start of the season in order to get wrist surgery.
Furthermore their biggest strength last year, their bench, will be something of a liability this season.
With an entirely new “Bench Mob” to learn Thibodeau’s defensive schemes, don’t expect the Bulls to come out roaring this year, especially with Derrick Rose out until at least mid-January and potentially later.
It appears the Bulls are using this as an opportunity to correct themselves financially, to put themselves in position to gain a second star-caliber player to play alongside Derrick Rose and give the Bulls an opportunity to win a title.
Over the next three seasons the Bulls are potentially going to add five first-round picks, two of them lottery-caliber players. That would first be the Bulls’ draft-and-stash pick, Nikola Mirotic, who has been tearing it up in Europe.
Mirotic could come over next season, or at the latest the season after that. He is a pure shooter who is knocking down threes at a 40 percent clip in Spain right now. He’s won the “Rising Star” award twice in a row.
Other than Mirotic they’ll also at some point be able to use that Charlotte Bobcats pick. Yes, they’ve had to wait some to grab it, but on the bright side, the longer the Bobcats are bad, the better the pick will be.
On the outside chance that the Bobcats were to finish outside of the top 12 this year, the Bulls would have their pick. If Charlotte finishes better than 10 teams in 2013 though, the Bulls would get that pick.
On top of all that the Bulls can amnesty Carlos Boozer next season and by doing so actually free up enough money to sign a player in the neighborhood of $15 million. If you throw in the $5 million trade exception from the Hawks deal, the Bulls could even secure a max contract player to play alongside Rose.
Or they could wait a second year and do that in 2015 when Deng comes off the books and just sign a max contract player straight up.
Players that could be intriguing in 2014 to sign would include Monta Ellis, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Martin and James Harden. In short, it’s a gold-mine year for shooting guards.
Imagine Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala guarding the wings, or a backcourt that had Derrick Rose and Monta Ellis or Kevin Martin. Perhaps even more exciting would be Rose and Harden.
Then for good measure throw in a power forward that shoots 40 percent from three-point land to open the court for them.
Then throw in a lottery pick just for good measure a year later.
The Bulls won’t be as good this year, but they’ll be building for the future. It’s disheartening to see a team planning for the future that was so close in the present. Management might have made completely different decisions if Rose weren’t going to miss so much of this season with an injury.
If Mirotic pans out and the Bulls can sign a premier free agent like Harden or Ellis, they could be putting a “big three” of their own on the court, and complementing them with the likes of Joakim Noah and Luol Deng.
However, given the cards they have to play, this might all work out better in the end. Of course the operative word here is “might.” We’ll have to wait a year or two to see if the Bulls have made the right decisions.
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Grant Hill may be 39 years old, but the 17-year veteran is still a very good on-the-ball defender.
That’s why it should come as no surprise that three title contenders are pursuing him this summer.
David Aldridge of NBA.com tweeted on Tuesday:
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 10, 2012
The defending champion Miami Heat would primarily be looking at Hill for his defense and veteran leadership and composure. Last season, he shot 44.6 percent from the field, the worst he had since the 2001-02 season when he was with the Orlando Magic. He also shot 26 percent from downtown. While an uptick in offense would be a bonus for the Heat, that’s not why they would ultimately pursue Hill.
Hill isn’t as quick as he used to be, but he still uses good body position and has great length, allowing him to guard multiple positions on the hardwood. He’s also a very smart player after almost 20 years in the league, which makes him an ideal fit for a team set for the playoffs next season.
The Heat held opponents to 43.4 percent shooting last season, fifth best in the NBA. They also held opponents to 43.1 percent shooting in the playoffs. Inserting an experienced, defensive-minded vet like Hill off the bench would make them an even scarier team, on top of the fact that they are set to sign sharpshooter Ray Allen.
The Arizona Republic detailed Hill’s defensive ability in March. It’s not just that Hill is keeping average NBA players in check. He has bothered such players as Chris Paul, Monta Ellis, Joe Johnson, Tyreke Evans, Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony as recently as last season. Whatever Hill gives up in quickness and athleticism, he makes up for in defensive technique and determination.
The Heat were a good enough defensive team to win a championship last season. Just imagine what adding another defensive cog would do for them.
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Golden State fans may have mixed feelings about their first full season without Monta Ellis since 2005.
The lightning-quick guard quickly became a fan favorite; his blistering speed and superior ability to score at the rim was something truly special to watch (even though his defense was spotty).
But the front office made the right decision parting ways with an increasingly selfish star.
There was no need for that in the locker room and his cancerous attitude was not helping the team move forward.
Trading for Andrew Bogut and Richard Jefferson was a solid move and added a piece to the puzzle that the Warriors have been lacking for years: a formidable defensive presence in the paint.
So while it remains to be seen how the team clicks, the Warriors have the pieces intact to have a successful 2012-13 season.
Here is a look at who they will be putting on the floor come opening day.
Now that Monta Ellis and his big contract have been traded away and the starting lineup is starting to come together, being a Golden State Warriors fan is starting to look like it could actually be a good thing. From David Lee being a double-double machine to both Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry coming back from injury, next season is looking like it could be the one where Golden State goes back to the playoffs.
However, the new campaign is a long way off, and the Warriors are far from done when it comes to making moves. GM Bob Myers has a few tricks up his sleeve, and should other interested teams bite, then he could be in line for being the next Executive of the Year.
Here’s the latest news out of Warriors camp regarding free agency, trades, the draft and everything else that could be used to further improve the team.
With the 2012 NBA Draft just days away, players’ stocks will be as inconsistent as the Dow Jones.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, incoming players’ skills are analyzed with the strongest of microscopes.
Depending on trades and a team’s specific needs, it’s not shocking to see a potential superstar fall in the draft.
There is nothing wrong with slipping in the draft.
Monta Ellis and Marc Gasol, two young, rising stars in the NBA, were both drafted in the second round.
Tom Brady was taken as the 199th pick by the New England Patriots in 2000.
Here is a look at six players whose stocks will falter once draft day rolls around.
The late season trade to acquire guard Monta Ellis last season was executed in hopes of that very thing, but sadly fell short of expectations.
Heading into the 2012-13 season, the results should be different. The addition of Ellis should make a world of difference in the coming year working with an entire offseason of camps and a full season.
Ellis brings the franchise another bona fide scoring threat to compliment backcourt mate Brandon Jennings. His value as a perennial top-ten scorer is what Milwaukee will be leaning on to lead them back to the postseason.
Obviously, Ellis can fill up the stat sheet. That much is undeniable. While this fact should not be ignored, it will be the intangibles that will matter the most.
Brandon Jennings almost brought this team to the playoffs last season, largely being the center of attention of opponents defensive schemes. The most notable early impact fans will notice is the pressure Ellis will alleviate off of Jennings, freeing him up to be even more effective.
The two should compliment each other extremely well. Both have attacking styles that still fit into the team system. The beauty of it is that Ellis will relieve pressure off of Jennings and vice versa.
Ellis shouldn’t only be able to draw attention away from Jennings though.
The biggest offseason concern that Milwaukee is looking at addressing, is finding a big man to replace Andrew Bogut. Most likely, the draft this week will be the route they take.
While the Bucks need a big man to come in and be immediately impactful, Ellis’ point production will take expectations—at least offensively—off the chosen young big man.
Finally, Monta Ellis is obviously known for his ability to score. However, he is coming off a career-high 6.0 assists per game. Milwaukee is coming off a year where they had more assists in the shortened 66 game season than the year before in the full 82 game season.
He should be able to fit his score-first mentality into the up-and-down style of sharing the ball seamlessly.
Ellis’ offensive stats can be spit out and show that he would be an obvious help to any team (19.5 ppg 4.5 apg). While not denying that fact, Ellis’ real help to Milwaukee making the playoffs next season will be his contributions that don’t show up on the stat sheet.
He’ll fill it up anyway though.
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