Milwaukee Bucks: Past and possibly present draft blunders

The Milwaukee Bucks have had some really bad drafts in the past. The team has been stuck in the early to middle first round draft pick spots for years due to the players they mistakenly have chosen.
One of the worst draft picks for the franchise was in 2007 when the Bucks drafted Yi Jianlian from China. Jianlian was selected No. 6 overall before players such as Joakim Noah, Thaddeus Young and Marc Gasol. Jianlian did not want to play in Milwaukee, and he played just one season for the team before leaving the NBA after five seasons.
Just one year later, the Bucks selected Joe Alexander from West Virginia with the No. 8 pick in the NBA draft. Alexander was taken before notable players such as Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, Serge Ibaka and Nicolas Batum. Alexander played only 67 games over the course of two NBA seasons. He played 59 games with the Bucks his rookie year averaging 4.7 points per game, and eight games with the Chicago Bulls averaging only .5 points per game.
Dirk Nowitzki is a name that should be famili

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Joel Anthony-Jordan Crawford Trade Translates Into Good News for Celtics’ Future, Present

The Boston Celtics did more than just relieve Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks off the roster, they added Joel Anthony for the short-term plan, as well as possible long-term opportunities. In result of the three-team deal, not only did they add a 2012, 2013 NBA champion but Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge harvest a few draft picks for the near future. By future, it’s not just the forthcoming drafts. These assets are just another chip for the Celtics front office to play with in trade discussions.  Anthony, who has two championships under his belt, may not be the league’s top centers in the NBA but he has the ability to be an impactful defender and rebounder. It’s tough to say whether Anthony will ever have 1.3 blocks and 3.9 rebounds per game as in the 2011-12 season, but he may bring a different paint presence and experience first-year head coach Brad Stevens needs.  The 31-year-old center isn’t the key in this trade though. The two draft pi…

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Pau Gasol Transforming from Lakers’ Past Champion to Present Disappointment

LOS ANGELES — This era of the most disloyal loyalty you’ll ever see is nearing its end.

Pau Gasol’s chances of still being a Los Angeles Laker after this season are next to nothing.

And yet there he was Sunday night, the team leader still—same as he has been throughout this Kobe-less season featuring uncommon team unity but highly inconsistent Pau production.

With Kobe Bryant and maybe Steve Nash set to come back to the team in its next practice Tuesday, Gasol tried but failed in the role of star player he isn’t quite suited for anymore. He missed 12 of 15 shots and watched from the bench as an inspired fourth-quarter rally against Portland fell just short, then said postgame he would have an MRI on his sore right ankle Monday.

Gasol, 33, had an MRI on his sore left foot a month ago—a muscle strain possibly from compensating for the torn plantar fascia in his right foot last season—and it’s all very unsurprising considering how big men late in the their careers consistently suffer lower-leg woes.

Gasol already has chronic tendinosis in both knees and was off his feet for three months of the summer because of regenerative procedures on those knees. That poor offseason prep made it unrealistic to think Gasol could carry the Lakers during their early-season time waiting for Bryant to be ready.

This is how it is with Gasol—so many layers to the truth, so many complications masquerading as either excuses or explanations. Even on one of his worst nights there was legitimate reason to praise him for his contributions, because his flexible and friendly ego has very much been part of the harmony these flexible and friendly Lakers have built without Bryant or Dwight Howard.

“He’s definitely the leader of this team right now,” Lakers forward Jordan Hill had said about Gasol a couple weeks ago.

If Sunday night turns out to be the last game the Lakers play before Bryant returns from his Achilles tear, it was an appropriate one: entertaining and unpredictable with regard to which no-name Lakers would step up (Robert Sacre!)…while Gasol doesn’t come close to earning his paycheck.

When you are the seventh-highest paid player in basketball (not counting the amnestied ghost of Gilbert Arenas), you either figure out a way to make a consistent difference or you deserve to be criticized as overpaid—which is unquestionably what Gasol has been through these three years of his extension.

Long before Bryant got this latest controversial extension, the Lakers gave Gasol an extension in part as reward for past contribution. That’s why Gasol is making $19.3 million this season—more than LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Chris Paul—having received a massive $57 million extension in December 2009 before the second of Gasol’s two title runs with the Lakers.

Bryant’s pricey new deal is just another reason why Gasol is not expected back with the Lakers. He has had nine lives as a Laker already, the 2011 nixed trade for Paul at the top of the list but also Gasol escaping the 2013 humiliation of the amnesty waiver only because the Lakers couldn’t get Howard to stay. Gasol is finally out of outs now, there being no logical reason for the Lakers to invest in him this summer rather than a younger player who could be part of their future—which makes this season for Gasol especially interesting to observe.

Since the championships were won, Gasol has struggled to find his place, deferring too often to Andrew Bynum and Howard, disappearing in the postseason. Mike D’Antoni no doubt marginalized Gasol to prop Howard up, but even now Gasol remains uneasy with the fit.

Despite D’Antoni in preseason hyping Gasol for nightly triple-doubles as the anchor of the Kobe-less offense, Gasol was still saying late Sunday night that the D’Antoni offense simply isn’t one that is “going to put me in the post” time after time.

Gasol said he goes of his own volition to the post at times to get better scoring chances—exactly what Bryant has urged Gasol to do for years—but one noticeable moment when Gasol did that Sunday resulted in him unable to create a decent shot against solo defense from LaMarcus Aldridge.

Gasol’s best games in the D’Antoni pick-and-roll offense have seen Gasol get hot early by hitting jumpers after electing not to roll to the hoop. His passivity in rolling is partly tied to his poor conditioning from his lack of offseason workouts, and he has always been one to pace himself early in seasons anyway. His effort on defense so far this season has been especially limited, and his 41.9 percent field-goal shooting is by far the worst of his career. (For some perspective on how bad that is, it’d almost be the worst of Bryant’s career; he shot 41.7 percent as a rookie.)

Being in a contract year and having responsibility during Bryant’s absence wasn’t enough to bring out Gasol’s best, with the same old excuses/explanations of his body and the system not being quite right. And now that time is quite possibly over, with Bryant maybe playing Friday in Sacramento and certainly taking post touches away from Gasol in the future.

Gasol has always been better as Bryant’s support than as the go-to guy, so the rest of the season should actually be more comfortable for Gasol. But when we soon look back on Gasol’s uniquely successful and dissatisfying tenure as a Laker, we’ll have to remember plenty of bad along with the greatest goods.

These 18 games this season for Gasol without Bryant are in the books as yet another failure.

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Derrick Rose’s injury clouds Bulls’ present, future

Rose’s second knee surgery in three seasons leaves the former MVP and his team in limbo.

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NY Knicks Ignoring Iman Shumpert’s Obvious Value to Present and Future

No matter how unpredictable the New York Knicks may seem, their organization is remarkably consistent in two key areas: They don’t win championships, and they don’t tolerate young players, like Iman Shumpert.

Could those two traits possibly be related?

Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that a young, promising player capped a stellar defensive effort against an All-Star and an MVP candidate with a dumb foul in the final seconds, costing his team the lead. The mistake came not from laziness, but from an overabundance of aggression, and the young player is clearly distraught. What should his coach do?

The vast majority of coaches—maybe 29 out of 30—would use it as a teaching moment, encouraging the youngster and applauding his effort over the previous 47 minutes while reminding him that such mistakes can’t be repeated.

…And then there is Mike Woodson and the New York Knicks.

After Shumpert‘s fingertip-brush foul on Pacers forward Paul George cost the Knicks the lead at the end of regulation of the November 20 Knicks-Pacers tilt, Mike Woodson yanked him from the lineup in overtime. The move struck many Knicks observers as illogical, since Shumpert had been the only player capable of holding George in check.

Sure enough, George went off in overtime for nine points as the Pacers cruised to the win. Strategically speaking, taking Shumpert off of Paul George while the Knicks still had a chance to win was a clear mistake.

After the game, the Pacers spoke quite candidly about the ease with which they exploited the Knicks’ defense with Shumpert on the bench.

So if the numbers said the Knicks were better with Shumpert in the game and the other team said the Knicks were a more difficult opponent with Shumpert in the game, then why wasn’t Shumpert in the game? Mike Woodson didn’t answer that question; instead, he spent his postgame press conference harping on Shumpert‘s last-second foul.

Even the New York beat writers were surprised by Woodson’s single-minded focus on the mistake.

But this shouldn’t come as a surprise to followers of the New York Knicks. Iman Shumpert has become the coach’s favorite whipping boy and the front office’s favorite trade chip, as reported by ESPN New York’s Ian Begley. In the kind of managerial paradox you’ll find only at MSG, the Knicks are trying to trade the third-year wing while simultaneously bashing him to anyone with a microphone, thereby wrecking his trade value.

“Hey, Boston, this kid Shumpert is garbage…now how about swapping him for Rajon Rondo?”

The Knicks aren’t getting Rondo, and they’ve proven time and again that they’re incapable of swapping players like Shumpert for even comparable value.

But that’s never stopped them from trading a player before.

 

Why Trade Your Best Shooting Guard?

Iman Shumpert hasn’t had a good year so far. He’s been too aggressive on defense, switching at inopportune times and fouling too often. His three-point stroke has been off since the start of the season.

That being said, he’s still the best shooting guard on the New York roster.

On a team with an elite volume scorer in Carmelo Anthony and very little perimeter defense, which of these three shooting guards seems like the best fit? Clearly, the answer is Shumpert, a player who doesn‘t need the ball to contribute.

The numbers this year bear out the fact that Shumpert has been the best shooting guard to pair with Melo this season.

Yet Shumpert is the one who draws constant criticism from Woodson, while Smith garners consistent praise, no matter how poorly he plays. After he was done ripping Shumpert for his poor foul, Woodson, implied that Smith is the glue that holds the team together.

Yes, Smith won the Sixth Man of the Year award last year, but since then he has gotten himself suspended for elbowing an opponent in the playoffs, melted down completely during the Indiana series, gotten himself suspended for five more games from drugs, and played like a train wreck since coming back.

There is a double standard at work in the Knicks’ locker room, and it’s going to cost them, both now and in the future.

Yes, the Knicks have a younger shooting guard in rookie Tim Hardaway Jr., who has played well in stretches. But Hardaway‘s high-volume shooting style bears little resemblance to Shumpert‘s. If anything, Hardaway profiles better as a replacement for Smith.

 

A Battle for the Future

Anyone who has read the New York papers knows it’s no secret the Knicks organization isn’t terribly high on Shumpert at the moment. Marc Berman of the New York Post outlined the organization’s problems with their young guard:

Woodson has had a problem with Shumpert’s cocksure attitude for some time, and according to a source, some of his superiors view the Georgia Tech product as “a head case’’ because he always doesn’t [sic] take coaching well. 

Considering some of the players the Knicks have employed during the James Dolan years, that seems a bit harsh.

Of course, not everyone has such a low opinion of Shumpert. Former Knicks GM and current Indiana Pacers adviser Donnie Walsh spoke glowingly of Shumpert—a Walsh draftee—after the Pacers knocked the Knicks out of the playoffs last May.

Per Berman:

Iman had all the ingredients to be a very good NBA guard, a very good athlete. [He’s got] great body intelligence, confidence and ambition. He was a great defender already and will get better with experience. His shooting was not broken but needed work. He obviously did it and has become a very dependable shooter. He will have a terrific career.

Of course, Walsh is gone now—driven out by the shadowy MSG cabal—and Shumpert, the last homegrown Knick with more than a year’s experience, will likely be gone within a matter of weeks.

Soon Hardaway will be the lone New York draftee left on the roster, and the “Hardaway trade countdown” will begin.

Even if Shumpert is a headstrong, un-coachable player—and there’s little evidence of that outside of the anonymous criticisms of the current MSG regime—trading him for pennies on the dollar will only reinforce the idea that the Knicks have no idea how to build a successful franchise.

It is virtually impossible to build a championship contender without a single homegrown contributor. Even James Dolan‘s model for NBA success, the Miami Heat, have four players in their rotation they developed themselves: Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Udonis Haslem. And the Knicks don’t have a once-in-a-generation talent like LeBron James, either.

With the exception of the fleeting years of the Donnie Walsh era, the Knicks have placed virtually no emphasis on player development as long as James Dolan has been the owner. They’re about to repeat that mistake by trading Shumpert. The trade will hurt the team, both in the short term and the long term. Mike Woodson will get fired, Shumpert will find a role with a better franchise, and Dolan will take out his rage by trading a few more first-round picks.

And so it goes. 

 

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Pepsi Max and Kyrie Irving Present Uncle Drew Chapter 3

Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving‘s alter ego is back.

Uncle Drew returns for the third chapter in his legacy, this time recruiting his old friends “Lights” (Denver Nuggets guard Nate Robinson) and “Betty Lou” (Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore) to join him on the courts of Chicago in the latest ad from Pepsi Max. 

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Sacramento, Seattle groups present to NBA owners (Yahoo! Sports)

SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 30:  Jason Thompson #34 of the Sacramento Kings shoots the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 30, 2013 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — The future home of the Kings may not be settled this month after all.


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NBA Slam Dunk Contest 2013 Participants Present a Rematch for the Ages

According to a press release via NBA.com, the field has been set for the 2013 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Six players were selected, with three representing each conference.

More important than the inter-conference battle is the fact that the 2013 Slam Dunk Contest has presented us with a rematch for the ages.

The participants for the Western Conference are Eric Bledsoe of the Los Angeles Clippers, Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz and Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets. Evans is the defending champion, while Bledsoe and Faried are making their first appearances.

As for the Eastern Conference, it will be Gerald Green of the Indiana Pacers, Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors and James White of the New York Knicks. This is where the rematch can be found.

Green versus White. The battle of two dunk masters.

Green and White went toe-to-toe in one of the most legendary slam dunk contests in basketball history. The events transpired in Europe during the 2010 Russian Cup.

For those interested in witnessing the legendary throwdown session, a link has been provided below.

As I said, legendary.

When Green and White face off for Round 2, the NBA will bear witness to what Europe is well aware of: When these two men are in a building together, special things are bound to happen.

With that being said, we’re certain to be entertained regardless of their simultaneous presence. Ending up in Houston together just makes the event all the more enjoyable.

Just check the history for a glimpse at a bright dunking future.

During the legendary Russian Cup dunk dontest, the two men pulled out all of the stops. From White going between-the-legs from the free-throw line to Green’s reverse alley-oop off of the bounce, we saw it all.

Chances are, these two dunk artists will do whatever it takes to top their performances on the grandest stage of them all. You know, if that’s possible.

So who are they and what should we expect?

Gerald Green: An Athletic Wonder

Gerald Green may not be a household name, but he’s been one of the world’s top dunk artists for quite some time. The NBA first learned such a truth when he won the 2007 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

One of Green’s dunks came as he leaped over Nate Robinson—one of the other competitors in the contest.

Not only was it gutsy, but Green committed the dunk while blinding himself with his arm. Surprisingly, that wasn’t even his best dunk.

Green proceeded to throwdown a powerful finish without shoes—an unreal feat that doesn’t quite garner the respect it deserves.

Since then, Green has captivated fans in New Jersey and Indiana with his uncanny ability to do the unthinkable with the ball in his hands. Perhaps no dunk embodied that truth more than his windmill alley-oop from 2011-12.

That’s right, a windmill alley-oop. Midgame.

Wow. 

There is no denying the athletic gifts that Green possesses. In fact, one might be inclined to label Green as the most explosive athlete in the NBA.

Green proved such this offseason by jumping so high that his head was above the rim. I repeat, his head was above the rim.

Unreal athleticism.

This is what we will witness come the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, as Green utilizes his out-of-this-world leaping ability to make the impossible, possible. With the task of exacting revenge on James White, we can expect pure and utter brilliance.

I wonder how many people he’s going to jump over this year.

James White: Building the Legend

If you don’t know who James White is, get familiar. When he’s not fighting for minutes with the New York Knicks, he’s throwing down some of the most breathtaking dunks you’ll ever see.

If you believe that to be an exaggeration, check the film.

White has been innovating dunks from the free-throw line since his days as a Cincinnati Bearcat. Whether he’s throwing down a windmill or going with two hands, White has never failed to take our breaths away.

His between-the-legs dunk from the charity stripe may just be his greatest feat.

As I said, unreal.

In terms of in-game NBA material, White has a limited supply. He’s played just 44 games during his three-year career and averaged just 8.6 minutes per game.

Still, White can get down when it’s all about the dunk contests.

White has taken over such competitions in Russia, Canada and the NBA D-League. He also threw down some monsters during the NCAA dunk contest in 2006.

So why wouldn’t we believe he can do more of the same in the NBA?

 

Prediction

When one of the world’s greatest dunk rivalries continues in Houston, Texas, there will be an attempt at revenge from Gerald Green. At the same time, James White will be fighting to become more than just a name in the Knicks’ rotation.

Even as lesser-known players, Green and White are going to hold down the court as if it were their own.

For those familiar with White’s abilities, it will be interesting to see whether or not he returns to his “from the free-throw line” ways. Those forms of dunks will certainly excite the judges, but die-hard fans will be looking for more.

Something new.

For that reason, it is fair to infer that Green will have the door opened to rise up and secure his second NBA Slam Dunk Contest crown. The question is, what will Green have in his repertoire that we haven’t already seen?

Both of these men have rabid fanbases to placate. So who will step up and secure the W in the latest chapter of this dunking feud?

Until anyone proves capable of bringing him down, we’re going with you, Mr. White. We welcome Green’s attempts at proving us wrong.

Let the entertainment begin and the rivalry continue.

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Sacramento mayor to present counteroffer for Kings (Yahoo! Sports)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson says he has received approval from NBA Commissioner David Stern to present a counteroffer to the league from investors who would keep the Kings in California’s capital city.

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Kobe: Shaq will present at my jersey retirement

The Los Angeles Lakers retired Jamaal Wilkes’ No. 52 jersey during Friday’s 104-87 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Following the game Kobe Bryant was asked who he would want presenting at his own jersey retirement.  
“I’d probably force Shaq to do it,” said Bryant.  
H/T: lakernation.com

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