Guard Kemba Walker Signs 4-Year Extension With Charlotte Hornets

During the Charlotte Hornets season opener point guard Kemba Walker impressed his team scoring 26 points with 6 rebounds and five assists, which is probably why they want him to stick around. Marc Stein of ESPN reports, Kemba Walker signed a 4-year contract extension worth $48 million with the team he started out with on Tuesday. A couple days later the NCAA champion said he wants to be in the middle of his team’s turnaround. “Now that we’re a good team, I want to keep us good,” Walker said. “I want to be in the middle of that.” The 24-year-old was drafted in April 2011 by the then Charlotte Bobcats. Since his pro career started 180 games in three seasons and averages 16 points, 5.5 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. The post Guard Kemba Walker Signs 4-Year Extension With Charlotte Hornets appeared first on Basketball Bicker.

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Celtics Waive Guard Will Bynum, Cut Roster To 15 Players

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the 2014-15 Boston Celtics.
The Celtics finalized their opening-night roster Monday, two days ahead of their regular-season opener. Will Bynum, acquired in a trade with the Detroit Pistons just 10 days ago, was one of the unsurprising cuts to pare down the roster to the maximum allowable 15 players.
Bynum joined Tim Frazier, Rodney McGruder, Erik Murphy and Christian Watford as those officially waived Monday.
All except Frazier and Bynum were actually released last week; Frazier was kept on to provide point guard depth in Boston’s preseason finale last Wednesday, and Bynum was retained while Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge tried to work out a last-minute trade.
With no deal coming to fruition, the Celtics evidently chose to eat Bynum’s $2.9 million contract, although they are not on the hook to pay any luxury tax for the coming season at the moment.
The Celtics open the season Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against Kevin Garnett and the Brooklyn Nets at TD Garden.

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Cavs exercise option on guard Dion Waiters (Yahoo Sports)

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 20: Dion Waiters #3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the Chicago Bulls on October 20, 2014 at Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Cavaliers have exercised the fourth-year contract option on guard Dion Waiters, a former first-round pick who could have a breakout season in Cleveland’s new offense. The Cavs were expected to pick up the option worth $5.1 million on Waiters and did so Saturday. Waiters averaged 15.3 point last season, but could get more open shots now that LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will be occupying defenses. Waiters started just 24 games last season but he will be with the first five in the backcourt alongside Irving this season.


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Breaking Down Houston Rockets’ Point Guard Position for 2014-15 Season

In the Rockets starting lineup, point guard certainly isn’t the strongest spot, but Houston does have some good depth at the position.

Last season, Patrick Beverley took over the starting job and has firmly solidified that role. The Rockets traded away Jeremy Lin this offseason, but they brought in Ish Smith to back Beverley up and also have their lone draft pick from two summers ago, Isaiah Canaan.

Clearly, James Harden and Dwight Howard are the stars of this team. Trevor Ariza at small forward is also a key contributor. Nevertheless, point guard play for the Rockets this year will still be a big factor in determining how well the team can play.

Let’s quickly look back on the point guard play for Houston last year and then preview how the position will fare in 2014-15.

 

Last Season (2013-14)

Coach Kevin McHale’s first big decision of the 2013-14 season was to start Beverley over Lin. The defensive-minded guard paired up more effectively alongside Harden in the backcourt.

Beverley had a good season last year, despite missing a good chunk of games with a knee injury. His hustle on defense earned him second-team All-NBA defensive honors, and he was also a leader who brought mental toughness in the locker room.

Lin also had a productive season. Coming off the bench, he averaged 12.5 points and 4.1 assists per game. He was effective at creating offense in the second unit for Houston and often times played down the stretch in close games.

Lastly, the Rockets had Aaron Brooks as a third-stringer before he was traded to the Denver Nuggets at the deadline. Before his departure, Brooks had the highest three-point percentage on the team, and he earned some quality minutes while Lin and Beverley dealt with injuries.

It was a solid campaign during the regular season for the Rocket point guards, but unfortunately, they did not carry that success into the playoffs. Beverley was still hurt and could not contain the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard. Lin had a spectacular Game 5, an elimination game for the Rockets, but he committed some costly mistakes in big moments that Houston just could not afford.

Overall Grade: B-

 

This Season (2014-15)

Lin may be gone, but Beverley is still the starter, and he has been able to nurse his knee back to health over the offseason. Canaan is coming off a great summer in Las Vegas, and Smith was very serviceable last season in Phoenix.

 

Patrick Beverley

Beverley is the obvious starter for the Rockets at the point. He’s a top-tier defender among guards in the NBA and fits nicely next to Harden in the Rockets’ system.

Last year, Bev averaged 10.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He was a defensive nightmare for opposing guards, which landed him a spot on the All-NBA defensive second team. He’s got an excellent chance of doing the same this upcoming season.

Beverley’s offense isn’t anything special, but he is a good partner in the backcourt with Harden. The Beard likes to do the majority of the ball-handling anyway, so Bev can play off the ball. He doesn’t get many assists, but that’s as a result of the system, which usually features Harden facilitating the offense.

His best contribution on the offensive end is his three-point shooting. He shot 36.1 percent from beyond the arc last year, but this season, Beverley should be able to improve. In the preseason, he connected on 45 percent of his shots from deep, a much better clip.

As long as he stays healthy, it should be another solid season for Bev. If he can keep up the three-point percentage and tenacious defense, then the Rockets will certainly end up getting their money’s worth.

 

Isaiah Canaan

After spending the majority of his time in the D-League last season, Canaan is poised to get some NBA minutes in 2014-15. His successful stint in Rio Grande got a lot of attention, and now that Lin is gone, Canaan could potentially be the primary backup.

In limited minutes, Canaan averaged 10.4 points per game in the preseason. Unlike Beverley, Canaan is a score-first guard. He will be counted on to provide some bench scoring like Lin did last season. He can attack the basket successfully like Lin but also is a much better three-point shooter. During the preseason, he shot 50 percent from behind the arc.

Interestingly, for much of the preseason, Canaan did not get the majority of the backup minutes. Instead, Ish Smith played with the second unit; Canaan didn’t check in until late in the games. However, as a result, Canaan has played in some tight games down the stretch, and he has led the Rockets to a handful of wins in crunch time. As it turns out, Canaan has been spectacular in the fourth quarter all preseason long with several clutch plays.

Last year, McHale liked to play Lin down the stretch of several games. This season, Canaan could be a legitimate option late in games. He has the scoring ability and the clutch factor to make an impact.

 

Ish Smith

Throughout the preseason, Smith has gotten slightly more minutes than Canaan. McHale was probably leaning toward Smith to be his backup, but based on Canaan’s preseason performance, we’ll have to wait before a final decision is made. McHale will continue to experiment with the rotation even during the beginning of the regular season.

Smith’s game is a lot more like Beverley’s. He is a defensive-minded guard with tremendous speed and great awareness. He can facilitate the offense better than Bev but is hardly a scoring threat. He is a capable passer but has no discernible jump shot.

Smith and Canaan will fight for minutes behind Beverley. They serve different purposes, so they should each see ample opportunities in varying situations.

 

Final Thoughts

Beverley is undoubtedly the starter at point guard for the Rockets. His forceful defending and improved three-point shooting will play a pivotal role in the Rockets’ success this season.

Canaan and Smith could easily switch off as the backup point guard depending on the matchups against certain teams. Canaan can ignite the offense, while Smith can maintain Bev‘s defensive hustle. They both are pretty much locks to get on the plane to L.A. as part of the final roster.

Point guard is not the Rockets’ biggest strength, but they have three good options on the depth chart.

Grade Prediction: B

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Charlotte guard Lester leaves basketball team

Charlotte guard Shawn Lester leaves 49ers basketball team to pursue professional career

      
 

 

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Marquis Teague Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation on Nets Guard

For the second time in his three-year NBA career, 2012 first-round pick Marquis Teague appears to be on the precipice of being shipped out of town. The Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers are closing in on a deal that will send the former Kentucky star to Philadelphia, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Brooklyn is not expected to receive “anything of significance” in return. NBA rules prohibit assets to be traded without compensation, so the likeliest outcome is a conditional or highly protected draft pick or a non-guaranteed contract that can be easily waived.

Teague, 21, was drafted No. 29 overall by the Chicago Bulls in 2012. He left after only one up-and-down season at Kentucky, with the Bulls hoping Tom Thibodeau could mine the talent that made Teague a highly touted prep star.

The relationship did not work out. Teague struggled mightily on both ends of the floor and was excised from the Bulls rotation to the point he was relegated to D-League duty. He played in only 67 games with Chicago before the team cut bait, sending him to Brooklyn in exchange for Tornike Shengelia.

“It just wasn’t clicking with Thibs the right way,” Teague told reporters in January. “Just trying to figure out the system was kind of tough for me. The way they play isn’t really my style, so it’s kind of difficult for me.”

The Nets experience went a little better for Teague, as he averaged 3.0 points and 1.4 assists per game on 41.5 percent shooting in 21 appearances. But Brooklyn’s offseason acquisition of Jarrett Jack leaves Teague without much chance at playing time.

His only extended preseason audition came in Wednesday night’s loss to the Boston Celtics, where he scored 10 points and made four assists (with six turnovers) in 24 minutes. In four other appearances, Teague had a total of 13 points in 37 minutes played.

Moving on allows Brooklyn to shave Teague‘s $1.12 million salary and its subsequent luxury tax costs off the books. The Nets have well north of $90 million in guaranteed contracts on their books, per Sham Sports, putting them well above the $76.83 million luxury tax. In 2013-14, Brooklyn paid an NBA record $90.57 million in luxury taxes.

The Sixers, far under the salary cap as they continue their rebuilding effort, can absorb Teague‘s contract without sending salary in return. Philadelphia is likely willing to give Teague a shot due to Michael Carter-Williams’ expected absence. The reigning Rookie of the Year has set a Nov. 13 target date for his return following offseason shoulder surgery, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.

Tony Wroten will likely start at point guard while Carter-Williams is injured. Adding Teague may spell the end in Philadelphia for Casper Ware, a second-year guard who is on a non-guaranteed contract. Ware was impressive during his summer league run, but Philly’s flirtation with adding a point guard may signal a dissatisfaction with the guard rotation.

Or it may just be Sam Hinkie rolling the dice on a former first-round pick available for pittance. You never know with this team.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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Caris LeVert aims to be next Michigan guard to step up

LeVert looks to continue at the level set by Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas.

      
 

 

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Shabazz Napier Forcing Way into Miami Heat Point Guard Conversation

Shabazz Napier once seemed like another reason for LeBron James to remain with the Miami Heat.

No way u take another PG in the lottery before Napier,” King James tweeted in April.

Team president Pat Riley denied that James actively had anything to do with the organization’s decision to acquire Napier (by trade on draft night), telling reporters, “The point is, if LeBron and I have the same taste in talent, so be it.”

The 23-year-old’s addition didn’t ultimately persuade James to stick around, but it may nevertheless have an immediate impact on a club in desperate need of some playmaking.

Riley got Napier just weeks after starting point guard Mario Chalmers flopped in the Finals, averaging 4.4 points and 33.3 percent shooting in five games against the San Antonio Spurs. Miami ultimately elected to keep Chalmers—a free agent this summer—but it’s become no secret this team needs improved play from its floor general.

Chalmers and reserve point guard Norris Cole have had solid, if uneven, preseasons. 

Napier has been the story instead, making an increasingly strong case for heavy minutes in Miami’s rotation this season—perhaps starting from day one.

The Connecticut product has averaged 16.8 points through his last four preseason contests, a marked improvement over the nine combined points he scored in the first two games.

As the Miami Herald‘s Joseph Goodman recently noted, “With each passing preseason game, Heat rookie point guard Shabazz Napier is providing more and more proof that LeBron James’ skills as an evaluator of talent might be better than previously thought.”

Something seems to be clicking for the 24th overall pick.

After a woefully inefficient performance during NBA Summer League play, Napier is now demonstrating a steadier shot while adding some passing, defense and a knack for getting to the free-throw line (where he made 12 of 14 attempts in a preseason meeting with the Spurs).

Napier chalked up the rough Summer League debut to the basketball.

“I just want to continue to get better at everything,” Napier told reporters in August. “But my biggest thing is getting comfortable with that basketball. That’s one of my biggest problems and it’s kind of ironic, because it’s a basketball. But it’s different than a college basketball.”

Sounds plausible enough. 

“The funny thing is, I never really touched an NBA ball until I left school,” he added. “I told myself I never wanted to. I felt like it was superstitious, like something bad was going to happen, like I had to earn it. I never touched it and it’s definitely different. This ball is leather and the biggest thing for me now is getting comfortable with it.”

It just one of the learning curves for the young pro. While a small sample size of preseason work may inspire optimism, head coach Erik Spoelstra hasn’t been convinced of much—even after Napier’s 25-point outburst against San Antonio.

“He just needs to keep working,” Spoelstra told reporters this week. “That’s the only message I’ve given him. We have seen a residual from all the time he has put in, but we’re not drawing any conclusions at this point.”

It’s a conservative approach made possible by Chalmers and Cole, both of whom are already familiar with Spoelstra’s system.

There’s not yet any guarantee Napier cracks the rotation, much less the starting lineup. But four seasons at UConn and a national championship may have prepared him to seize a moment like this and compete for minutes at a position of renewed importance in Miami.

Without James’ leadership on the floor, the Heat’s platoon of point guards will be responsible for running the offense.

“We’re going to be reliant on those guys to handle the ball a lot more for us,” forward Chris Bosh explained to media this week. “Before, we had the luxury of having LeBron be that big point guard and get us into our sets, and [Cole and Chalmers] could kind of take it off a little bit and get in the corner and make plays.

“But now they’re going to have to be the ones calling the plays, getting everyone set, making that extra pass and making the game easier for everybody else.”

Napier has shown flashes of those playmaking instincts during the preseason, tallying seven assists against the Cleveland Cavaliers and twice recording four dimes. That’s the kind of poise and production that could make playing time at the 1 spot a three-man race.

Chalmers is going into his seventh season with the club, coming off of a largely successful campaign in which he averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 assists in 29.8 minutes per game. He made a career-high 45.4 percent of his field-goal attempts, solidifying his status as a reliable role player and earning himself a new contract worth two years and $8.3 million.

He started in all 73 of his games a season ago and remains the favorite to retain that status in 2014-15.

Cole averaged a career-high 24.6 minutes per contest last season (his third), but he’s done little to secure a more prominent role. The 26-year-old adds some energy and a change of pace, but problems with efficiency have persisted to the tune of 41.4 percent shooting a season ago.

So there’s a real opportunity for Napier to prove himself an upgrade over Cole, perhaps even a rival for Chalmers’ starting minutes.

If not now, then soon.

Belief in Napier’s ability isn’t simply a matter of reading preseason tea leaves. There’s a reason James and others have praised his upside.

As the South Florida Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman recently put it, “There is something about Napier when it comes to having the ‘it’ factor.”

“I know it’s cliche, but the kid is a winner and carries himself on the court as someone who is comfortable no matter the pressure or surroundings,” Winderman wrote. “I’m not sure he will be a classically consistent scorer, but he has shown time and again the ability to step up to the moment, with his late 3-pointer against the Warriors another of those moments, albeit an exhibition moment.”

Sooner or later, those kind of intangibles could force Spoelstra to make some decisions about his rotation.

“He’s a heady player,” Spoelstra told reporters this month. “He’s playing with more confidence now, playing off his instincts more than he was this summer. I think it was overwhelming this summer. To his credit, he put in a lot of time after that. He rolled up his sleeves and got to work. That’s all we need of him.”

With that hard work and a little opportunity, Miami may get exactly what it needs. In a season that will be defined by what it could have been, Shabazz Napier is one reason to imagine all it still could be.

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Knicks Guard Iman Shumpert Wears Hat with a Clock on It

New York Knicks wing Iman Shumpert doesn’t wear this hat during games because the only time that matters is game time.

After Monday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Shumpert was in the locker room wearing this hat with a clock on it. You can see another picture of the hat below.

I wonder if the ticking gives him a headache. 

[Twitter]

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Bulls guard Butler sprains left thumb

Bulls guard Butler sprains left thumb, leaves preseason game against Hornets

      
 

 

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