Kemba Walker and Charlotte Hornets Are Right Match at Right Price

Good for Kemba Walker—and good for the Charlotte Hornets

The two sides agreed (per Marc Stein of ESPN.com) to what seems like a pretty fair deal on a four-year, $48 million extension—a number that doesn’t quite break the Hornets‘ bank, and one that Walker, who had plenty of doubters not too long ago, should feel satisfied with. 

Despite leaving college on a high note after leading Connecticut to a national title, there were questions surrounding Walker’s NBA outlook, like how would a score-first guard under 6’0″ in socks fare at the point in the pros? 

But Walker has managed to adapt, and after three years in the league he’s established himself as a legitimate asset.

For the Hornets’ management, it’s gotta be refreshing knowing they targeted, drafted and groomed Walker themselves—especially after all the duds they went with over the years, from Raymond Felton and Sean May to Adam Morrison, Brandan Wright and D.J. Augustin.

It’s just so rare for the Hornets to actually reward one of the players they drafted this early in the process. The Charlotte Observer‘s Rick Bonnell highlighted the driving force behind the team’s motivation to get a deal done:

The Hornets haven’t typically extended players on the rookie wage scale at least until they reach restricted free-agency. In this case, Walker’s asking price figured to keep going up, in part because of the anticipated rise in the salary cap from the NBA’s new television deal.

With big man Al Jefferson looking at an opt-out clause after the season, signing Walker now prevents what could have been a scary situation: Charlotte’s two best players both entering free agency this summer (Jefferson would be unrestricted, Walker would have been restricted).

Now with Walker locked up and the addition of Lance Stephenson, who should help improve the team’s credibility by adding toughness, defense and playoff experience, the Hornets’ sales pitch to Jefferson—the one they’ll give in hopes of convincing him to stick long term—just got a little bit stronger.

You’d also like to think Walker’s extension will be approved by the majority of the fanbase, considering he guided the team to a 43-win season and a playoff berth after they went 28-120 over his first two years.

While Walker’s value around the league might differ, his value to the Hornets is enormous, given the roster’s lack of playmakers. Josh McRoberts and Ramon Sessions finished No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in assists last year for Charlotte—and neither player is back with the team in 2014-15. 

Walker averaged 17.6 points and 6.1 assists last season, numbers that ultimately reflect the offensive firepower he brings to the table.  

He’s also proven to be a guy you can give the ball to on final possessions—someone who can create scoring opportunities out of nothing. And that’s a quality that will continue to hold tremendous value in Charlotte as well. 

“No question, I am definitely the leader of this team,” Walker told Stephen Brotherston of Probballreport.com last season. “I wouldn’t have it no other way.  Guys look to me. Basically, the way I go, the team goes. I definitely wear that hat and I am excited to.” 

It’s obviously nice to see Walker take on a bigger leadership role. But while his maturity and likability, along with his production and impact, likely factored into Charlotte’s decision to further invest, the extension wasn’t just a reward for what he’s accomplished so far. It’s also a reflection of the growth they expect from him over the next few seasons. 

Not to dampen the mood, but $12 million a year is a big chunk of change for a starter whose player efficiency rating ranked No. 18 last year among active point guards. 

Walker has some limitations out there. Without much size or strength, he shot a poor 46.9 percent within eight feet from the hoop last season, a likely reason for him taking a whopping 544 shots from 10-24 feet away.

Feel free to point to Walker’s shot selection as a reason behind his 39.3 percent field-goal clip last season.

His low-percentage attack and high usage rate (finished top 10 among starting point guards last year) probably had something to do with the Hornets finishing No. 24 in offensive efficiency.

And with a so-so assist-to-turnover ratio and pure point rating (18 starting point guards from last year finished with better ones), Walker has work to do as a decision-maker and facilitator as well. 

But you can’t argue with the production he’s put up or the impact he’s had on this team. And at 24 years old having gotten a little bit better through three years in the league, there’s reason to believe we have’t seen Walker peak as an NBA pro. 

This extension seems like a win-win for everyone involved. Walker gets paid and remains the man—he led the NBA in touches last year with 101.8 per game, 4.6 more than Chris Paul, per NBA.com. 

And the Hornets get to lock up a franchise building block at a somewhat reasonable price. Plus, they finally get to build with an asset they acquired from scratch and developed themselves. 

You can argue whether or not the Hornets overpaid by a million or two a year, but this was a deal that really makes everybody happy. Now it’s on Walker to continue his gradual ascent. 

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Report: Celtics asking price for Rondo is ‘sky high’

Teams looking to acquire the services of Rajon Rondo will have to be willing to pony up one heck of a trade package. That’s according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe, who wrote Tuesday that the Boston Celtics aren’t looking to deal their star point guard for anything short of top dollar. “Boston has gauged the market for both over the last year or so, and its expected price for Rondo has been sky-high, per several league sources,” Lowe writes. “That price will drop as Rondo’s deal ticks toward expiration, but the market for him is thin.” Lowe names the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings as two teams who could make a play for Rondo if they stumble out of the gates, but he speculates the Celtics might just hang onto the four-time All-Star and attempt to re-sign him after the season “if a frothy market doesn’t materialize.” In fact, Lowe predicts that if any Celtics star is traded this season, it’ll be Jeff Green. “Green has a player option for 2015-16, meaning he may be working on a d

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Lakers Ronnie Price Throws Shoe At Andre Iguodala (Video)

The Lakers have a lot of questions heading into the 2014-2015 season, among the plethora is the one of defense. But no worries, Ronnie Price has a genius approach–shoe chucking.
This was the scene that played out in the Lakers v Warriors preseason game. Watch Price stop Andre Iguodala in his tracks.
He the real MVP

The post Lakers Ronnie Price Throws Shoe At Andre Iguodala (Video) appeared first on Geeks & Cleats.

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WATCH: Lakers’ Price throws shoe at Andre Iguodala

Ronnie Price loses the basketball. Andre Iguodala gets the ball and starts moving up the… Article found on: Next Impulse Sports

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Lakers’ Ronnie Price Loses Shoe, Throws It at Andre Iguodala

It’s only the preseason, but some players are pulling out all the stops on defense. 

After losing his shoe in a game vs. the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Ronnie Price threw his shoe at Andre Iguodala.

[CJ Zero]

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LA Lakers sign Ellington and Price

Photo Credit: sportsoutwest.com
The Los Angeles Lakers have been an active franchise in the past couple of days, signing shooting guard Wayne Ellington, and veteran point guard Ronnie Price.
Both players simply add some depth to both guard positions. Steve Nash has reportedly looked good in scrimmages, but he is 40. They have Jordan Clarkson, a second round pick from the latest NBA Draft, who may well end up being more a shooting guard anyway. LA also of course acquired Jeremy Lin, the only reliable backup, making the Price signing a necessity.
This will be Ronnie Price’s 6th NBA roster, going undrafted in 2005.
OFFICIAL: Lakers sign veteran point guard Ronnie Price. Press Release: http://t.co/5ZkDGYrZY2pic.twitter.com/DsIZZaegQ4
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) September 24, 2014
The signing of Wayne Ellington only adds to his so far hectic offseason.Ellington was first traded from the Mavericks to the NY Knicks as a part of the Tyson Chandler trade, and was then dealt to the Kings, who waived him for fina

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Veteran guard Ronnie Price signs with LA Lakers (Yahoo Sports)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Guard Ronnie Price has signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Lakers agree to contract with Ronnie Price

Price has played for multiple teams in his NBA career

      
 

 

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Kenneth Faried’s Strong FIBA Play Means Rising Price Is Worth It for Nuggets

If you’ve been watching the group-stage portion of the FIBA World Cup, chances are one player on Team USA has really stood out for you.

And, chances are, that player isn’t whom you expected it would be.

Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried has exploded onto the scene, establishing himself as one of the most productive players in the entire tournament.

Here’s Nuggets assistant general manager Arturas Karnisovas from NBA.com on what Faried has accomplished:

Kenneth Faried is raising some eyebrows with his play here in Spain. But his World Cup success comes as no surprise to me and anyone who’s around Kenneth on a regular basis.

He brings effort and energy every day, and it was amazing to watch how he energized our team against Turkey. His effort was infectious. It resonated through our team and helped us get our edge back in the fourth quarter.

He has been great on the offensive glass, giving us second chance opportunities, running the floor and defending. I expect him to continue to do the same as the tournament continues.

Faried‘s ferocious offensive rebounding and hustle on both ends have certainly sparked Team USA on multiple occasions thus far, and in that sense, he’s been the emotional leader the team has really needed. Faried is capable of changing the course of a game, but he can also set the tone right off the bat.

Even though he seemed like a long shot to make the team a few months ago, let alone play a starting role, he’s rewarded both those decisions tenfold already. Faried isn’t getting it done with fancy moves or elite shooting, but he’s outworking each and every opponent he comes across. His motor is non-stop.

All that could lead to a very successful season for Faried, right at the perfect time. Although he’ll be eligible for contract extension until October 31, Faried will hit restricted free agency next summer if he can’t work out a deal with the Nuggets. 

Given his current ascension, it might not be a bad idea to bet on himself and wait for a substantial offer. He’s always been undervalued, but performing this well on a stage this large can change that in a hurry.

Here’s Grant Hughes for Bleacher Report:

If Faried carries his brilliant play from the World Cup to the regular season, he won’t be doing anything new. Though it seems like eons ago, Derrick Rose rode a breakout wave in the 2010 FIBA tourney to an MVP season with the Chicago Bulls.

It seems international tournaments have a way of preparing players for bigger things.

Buoyed by the confidence he’s building in Spain, Faried could be ready to take the kind of step that drags the Nuggets back into the playoff picture after a year spent in the lottery.

Denver’s not supposed to be in the postseason conversation—not in a brutal Western Conference that only seems to get tougher every year. But Faried is using his time with Team USA to prove he doesn’t really care where people think he belongs.

Hustle often gets overlooked as a skill, but Faried has it in spades. While he’s not a great defender overall thanks to lack of height (6’8″), length and rim-protection abilities, he’s one of the league’s very best rebounders who wins just about every 50-50 ball that’s in his zip code.

Faried wins possessions, and his evolution as a dangerous scorer around the basket area is trouble for opposing defenses.

Here’s what Faried told Zach Lowe of Grantland late last season:

They all used to say, ‘All he is, is an energy guy.’ That I was a guy who was gonna run and jump, and that I could only get you nine or 10 points, max. … 

Now people are saying, ‘Hey, maybe he can get you 15 or 20 a night’ and that I can do it without breaking a sweat.

Faried has become much more effective at scoring in traffic and getting points with his back to the basket. With stretch big men so popular right now, Faried is like the Kryptonite that can bully and outwork smaller and more finesse big men.

While there’s been some speculation about his personal ceiling and his future in Denver, it’s hard to imagine that the Nuggets are going to take what Faried brings to the table for granted.

Here’s what Nuggets GM Tim Connelly told Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post toward the end of last season:

We’ll talk to his representation. I think Kenneth is happy here. I think he’s really embraced what [Coach] Brian [Shaw] is trying to instill. Those are the type of guys that deserve to get paid. …

Kenneth was great. I think there was an adjustment period with Kenneth and Brian. And for the last couple of months he was playing at as high a level as anybody. He’s the heart and soul of our team. His consistent energy and toughness, I was really happy to see. I think he grew this year. I think he really improved on both ends, not just the offensive end. He’s a guy that’s going to play a huge role in our success moving forward.

I’m hopeful that we’ll have good discussions this summer with his representation and we’ll see if we can’t figure something out.

Paying Faried a salary north of $10 million a season might be difficult, but with his stock on the rise and the best year of his career likely on the horizon, there’s a good chance that ends up being the asking price.

And while that isn’t ideal for Denver, this isn’t a team that stands to have much financial flexibility for a few years, anyhow.

Extending a big man who doesn’t protect the rim or offer much resistance defensively due to his limited length isn’t perfect, but as we’ve seen next to a great shot-blocker in Anthony Davis, Faried can be highly effective with the right personnel around him. His ceiling may be capped, but his floor is awfully high.

Faried‘s improved play late last season stayed mostly under wraps, as the national focus was well off a struggling and injury-ridden Nuggets team. Now with a legitimate chance to win the World Cup MVP award, the cat is out of the bag, and the price is likely going up. 

But so long as he can carry this positive momentum and high level of play into the regular season, having to shell out a little more money to keep him should be a worthy expenditure for the Nuggets. 

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Nick Young And Gilbert Arenas Go Old School Shooting On Fisher Price Hoop

The Los Angeles Lakers’ Nick Young and big-time scoring guard in his glory days Gilbert Arenas settle a bet, one shot each on a Fisher Price hoop. The game got very intense as Arenas buried three shots in a row and Young sunk two, however, Young’s last attempt was borderline questionable. Rules and regulations on Fisher Price hoops; does Young’s last shot count? Check out the clip. The post Nick Young And Gilbert Arenas Goes Old School Shooting On Fisher Price Hoop appeared first on Basketball Bicker.

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