Andrew Bynum Must Use Indiana Pacers’ Lifeline to Save NBA Career

Don’t say Andrew Bynum has the opportunity of a lifetime.

What the Indiana Pacers have really given Bynum is an NBA lifeline, the opportunity to right and salvage what’s left of a promising career turned doleful wreckage by injuries, indifference and lethargy. When they signed Bynum for the remainder of the 2013-14 season, they gave him a second chance…for the umpteenth time.

This is a lifeline Bynum has received before, first (and many times) with the Los Angeles Lakers, and most recently with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Each time—even when he was an All-Star in 2012—he’s given those involved more reasons to doubt him.

Although he’s considered a low-risk, high-reward gamble for the Pacers, perception hasn’t changed. If it had, Bynum wouldn’t have been a free agent for so long before landing a contract.

For the first time, Bynum is running out of second chances. Conventional wisdom would have us believe there will always be NBA homes for 7-footers who have enough hand-eye coordination to microwave their own pancakes, but simple things—like towering over people who don’t walk on stilts—are no longer enough for Bynum.

Flame out with the Pacers, one of the Association’s most stable franchises, and the race to assist Bynum in his atonement beyond this season won’t be a race at all.

 

Understanding His Role

Wherever Bynum has gone, he’s brought unmitigated ignorance with him, rarely understanding his role and always expecting treatment he didn’t deserve. 

No such mistake can be made in Indy, as the Pacers aren’t relying on him to do anything substantial or of real value at all.

FOX 59′s Larry Hawley provided us with a telling glimpse of Bynum’s banner:

Seeing Bynum’s picture sandwiched between reserves Chris Copeland and Rasual Butler is fitting. That’s what he is in Indiana—a reserve. Not the starting center, a backup.

It’s a situation he’s never really found himself in before. At every stop, he was considered the team’s best big man or a key cog in a playoff or championship machine, even in Cleveland.

But not anymore.

Is playing second fiddle to someone—even an All-Star like Roy Hibbert—something he’s capable of embracing? If he really wants to continue playing basketball, and he actually wants to prove his critics wrong, he has no choice.

“It really wasn’t a hard decision, I think it’s the right fit for me and, in all honesty, I think we’ve got the best chance of winning,” said Bynum in Indy’s announcement. “It will be great to back up Roy and I’ll do whatever I can to help this team.”

Talk is cheap. Bynum has to really mean it.

Head coach Frank Vogel isn’t going to guarantee Bynum playing time, and his new teammates aren’t going to coddle or tolerate antics they consider unacceptable.

Indiana isn’t Los Angeles, where winning remedies all. Or Cleveland, where dysfunction and chaos are frequent bedfellows. Indiana is Indiana. Players are team and city ambassadors, and must uphold the ideals and abide by the morals these Pacers set for them.

The Pacers’ current success is founded upon selflessness and discipline, two virtues Bynum emanates less frequently than the average person mixes cake batter into their hamburger meat. Lance Stephenson has even fallen into line in Indiana, though, and Bynum must do the same.

If he doesn’t, if he cannot make it work on a player-friendly team known for successfully developing projects, there will be nothing left of his career to salvage.

 

Future Impact

Think of what being of sound mind on a high-profile team will do for Bynum’s future.

Forget about showing the world he’s still a star. That’s not going to happen. Even if he is (he’s not), the Pacers didn’t bring him in to give him that opportunity.

Despite what team president Larry Bird says, per the New York Daily News‘ Stefan Bondy, he could simply be a pawn in Indiana’s cat-and-mouse game with the Miami Heat.

You know what? That’s a good thing. 

This may not be the best situation for Bynum to showcase his on-court value, but it’s the best place for him to prove, once and for all, that he can be part of a team.

Accepting his role as a seldom-used reserve, wearing a smile and continuing to say all the right things shows he’s ready to shed the liability label he’s earned, which makes him more likely to find a new home next year.

Remember, as Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski previously noted, there’s some serious doubt as to whether Bynum cares about basketball at all, and justifiably so.

By all appearances, Bynum has approached his time in the NBA like a medically sedated existentialist would a birthday party at the circus—with supreme indifference. There’s been no trace of fight or resistance; no sign that those (like me) who continue to chide him are wrong.

For once, he can let his action do the talking, not his inaction or light-minded approach to the game so many of his peers love. 

This isn’t complicated stuff. Per The Indianapolis Star‘s Candace Buckner, Bynum’s new teammates barely wanted to talk about him:

That’s how much he means to the Pacers. To them, he’s another face. Not an answer or a building block—another player barely worth a shoulder shrug. 

Playing for that type of team, alongside these kinds of players, under no certain terms, will give him the reality check he’s long needed but constantly evaded and rejected. And if he handles this one final test properly, the narrative can start to shift. Bynum can move on.

We can move on.

If Bynum fails to seize this opportunity, however, his future in the NBA becomes barren of second chances, beclouded by incurable uncertainty.

 

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

WATCH: Dwight Howard stars in funny ‘Save the Centers’ promo

Kobe is probably going to roll his eyes when he sees this but this is the Dwight Howard who we all know and love. Dominating with a smile on the court and being a clown off it. Since the NBA has moved to eliminate centers from all-star balloting and the league seems to be transitioning more and more to a faster, smaller style of play leaving a lot of centers out in the cold, Howard decided to do something about it. Check the video out here:

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Kansas’ Wayne Selden Dives into Crowd to Save Ball, Jayhawks Score on Play

Hard work really does pay off.

In a showdown of Top 25 teams on Tuesday night, Kansas guard Wayne Selden made one of the plays of the day thanks to a great effort. 

The freshman jumped over the scorer’s table and into the crowd in order to save a loose ball against Baylor. He was rewarded for his effort. The ball went right to teammate Joel Embiid, who turned it into two points. 

Here’s a great look at the play courtesy of ESPN.com:

Selden‘s effort was so good that it deserves another look via ChrisVernonShow on Vine:

The Jayhawks faithful certainly appreciated the effort from the youngster.

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Mike Woodson’s Loyalty to N.Y. Knicks Won’t Save Job as Deeper Issues Arise

NEW YORK — Mike Woodson never got an interview for the Knicks’ head coaching job. He got a tryout.

It came in March 2012, when Carmelo Anthony stopped listening to Mike D’Antoni, and D’Antoni stopped trying to sway him, opting instead to seek the nearest exit, saving himself the aggravation.

In stepped Woodson, who enjoyed Anthony’s unconditional support and, as a consequence, a brilliant start to his Knicks career—an 18-6 record over the season’s final weeks, earning the city’s adulation and a rich three-year contract from Madison Square Garden.

Woodson was everything the Knicks needed then, all tough love and growling soliloquies. He preached defense and accountability and, critically, he catered to Anthony’s ball-dominating proclivities.

He was everything the Garden wanted, too: a coach so eager to get the job that he would fire his longtime agent and hire the Garden’s business partner, Creative Artists Agency, at management’s request. Woodson was a company man who played by company rules, qualities that James L. Dolan, the Garden chairman, seems to value above all else.

None of that matters now, with the Knicks lurching toward irrelevance and flirting with disaster.

The “Fire Woodson” drumbeat began weeks ago, gained volume across the course of a nine-game losing streak and spiked anew in a 41-point rout by the Boston Celtics on Sunday. His status has never seemed more tenuous.

The Knicks needed a late surge Wednesday night just to put away a depleted Chicago Bulls team, securing an 83-78 victory only after blowing a 23-point lead in the second half.

If not for a late jumper by Amar’e Stoudemire and a flurry of free throws from Anthony, the night would surely have ended with another round of chants and, quite possibly, an actual firing.

“From a mental standpoint, if this game would have got away from us, ain’t no telling what would have happened,” Anthony said.

As it stands, the Knicks are still a sickly 6-15, their playoff hopes sustained only by the embarrassingly dismal state of the Eastern Conference. They are, stunningly, just 2.5 games behind division leader Boston (10-14) and 2.5 games behind the Derrick Rose-less Bulls (8-12) for the eighth seed.

Every game now is framed as Woodson’s last stand, every loss reigniting speculation about potential successors.

“It’s going to be like that, man,” Anthony said. “When we win, the heat is off; when we lose, the heat is on. That’s just our business. That’s society. That’s New York.”

This is the bargain that Woodson accepted two years ago, along with the understanding that he works for the most impulsive, erratic, shortsighted owner in the league.

If Dolan can fire general manager Glen Grunwald in September, just months after completing a 54-win season, then he can surely fire Woodson on a moment’s notice in December, without considering circumstances or context.

There is plenty to criticize in Woodson’s coaching: his stubborn reliance on mind-numbing isolation play; his lack of faith in Pablo Prigioni, who is easily the Knicks’ best passer; his refusal to use the dual-point guard lineups that were so successful last season; his inexplicable marginalizing of Iman Shumpert, the franchise’s most promising young player.

A staunch traditionalist, Woodson still prefers a “big” lineup, with a 7-footer at center, even if that 7-footer is the pillow-soft Andrea Bargnani; and he prefers Anthony at small forward, though Anthony thrived last season as an undersized power forward.

While Woodson styles himself as a defense-first coach, his team ranks 27th in defensive efficiency, sandwiched between the Sacramento Kings and the Philadelphia 76ers. And though he once preached accountability, he gives far too much latitude to Smith, whose questionable shot selection is matched only by his questionable tweeting.

But the Knicks’ greatest frailties are more structural than strategic, owing to an awkwardly constructed roster, mixed agendas in the front office and the physical frailties of too many players.

Stoudemire only recently was cleared to play on consecutive nights, after opening the season on a strict minutes restriction to protect his fragile knees. Kenyon Martin also just had the cap on his playing time lifted.

Smith is erratic, Shumpert looks lost and Raymond Felton (when healthy) is looking more like the poorly conditioned bust who was run out of Portland than the valued sparkplug who directed the Knicks offense last season.

Bargnani has provided some scoring pop, but the Knicks’ two other summer pickups, Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih, have been on the fringe of Woodson’s rotation.

The Knicks never obtained a solid big man to back up Tyson Chandler, and they immediately paid the price when Chandler broke his leg in the first week of the season.

The Knicks had two viable veterans in training camp, Josh Powell and Ike Diogu, but they waived both in order to keep Cole Aldrich and Chris Smith (brother of J.R.), neither of whom belong in the NBA. (Chris Smith, in fact, is toiling in the D-League, but he continues to take up a roster spot. His employment can only be explained by his family ties and his business ties. Both Smiths are represented by CAA.)

To understand the Knicks’ offseason agenda, you have to go back to last season, when the team (at Woodson’s behest) loaded up on late-30s veterans: Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby. Kidd and Wallace were especially critical in propelling the Knicks to an 18-5 start. But Kidd’s play eroded over the course of the season, and the other three broke down physically.

So the predictably reactionary Dolan sent down a new edict: sign and develop young players. That led to the signings of Aldrich, Chris Smith and Toure’ Murry—and the decision to jettison Powell and Diogu, regardless of how they performed in the preseason—according to a person with ties to the front office.

“I think there’s a real toxic environment there, all the way through,” the person said.

Woodson’s preferences seemed clear in the preseason: He played Powell (18.6 minutes per game) and Diogu (16.2 minutes) far more than Aldrich (11.4 minutes), who performed miserably.

Even with Chandler out and the options limited, Woodson has used Aldrich for just 35 minutes.

Chandler’s return, expected in the next few weeks, will help. But his absence alone cannot account for the Knicks’ dismal results, nor will his presence erase their varied blemishes. Woodson will continue to be imperiled by every losing streak.

The usual names have already been floated as replacements, but the most intriguing candidate might be the gravelly voiced coach barking at the opposite bench Wednesday night. Tom Thibodeau is under contract with the Bulls for three more seasons, but his widely reported tension with the front office could push him out the door much sooner, especially if the Bulls opt to rebuild next summer.

Already disenchanted with management, Thibodeau could use a rebuilding plan as a reason to ask out of his contract—a request the Bulls would likely grant. If the Bulls remain contenders, however, sources believe he will stay put.

If he’s available, Thibodeau would be everything the Knicks need. His teams play hard every night, without fail, even when key players are out. They play an elite brand of defense. A former Knicks assistant, Thibodeau is already well-versed in Garden politics. He’s tight-lipped with the media, a practical requirement to work there.

And, perhaps more significantly, Thibodeau has the right representation: CAA.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Carmelo Anthony Can’t Save Hapless NY Knicks

Do you see the photo up above? Does it seem like a man alone in the face of the enemy?

There’s been a lot of piling on lately when it comes to the New York Knicks, and Monday night’s game in Portland won’t change that narrative—once again, Carmelo Anthony couldn’t save his hapless team.

It’s not that the Knicks didn’t have their chances. There were moments when they came within striking distance, when they began to find a little momentum. And each time, they’d come to another hill and start to sputter.

After the game, Melo summed things up succinctly. Per Frank Isola for the New York Daily News:

When you’re losing it’s not fun, Anthony said. Are we having fun on the basketball court? No. The game is not fun right now. When you start pressing, pressing, pressing it makes everything that much worse. So no we’re not having fun playing basketball.

There was about two minutes left in the third quarter, and the Knicks were knocking on the door once again—looking to get it under ten. Portland’s Wesley Matthews nailed a three-point shot, Anthony missed on a jumper and LeMarcus Aldridge grabbed a missed Lopez putback and hooked it in. It seemed like a microcosm of the night on whole.

It wasn’t even that Anthony was throwing everything against the wall and hoping for something to stick. Sure, he scored 34 points, and the Knicks are 0-4 this season when he scores 30 or more. That in itself is worthy of discussion.

Still, other Knicks did in fact score the ball—if you’re simply evaluating off a box score. Five Knicks were in double figures compared to four Trail Blazers. And regardless, the Blazers still won it 102-91.

Sometimes, it’s not the numbers. Sometimes, it’s just about a losing habit—about a season heading down the wrong way on a one-way street. The Knicks are a pretty old team, and lately, they look even older. Granted, the injuries to Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler hurt. The injuries just add fuel to a fire that feels hotter off-court than on.

Lauren Moranor for Sports World Report recently relayed J.R. Smith’s feelings on the matter:

Lack of intensity, Smith said. I hate to say it, but our defense’s backbone is on Tyson and Tyson’s not here right now and we know that and he’s not going to be available for a few weeks now, so we’ve gotta step it up individually. It’s a team game but individually we’ve got to take pride in guarding the ball, guarding our man. We have to enjoy stopping the other team.

The problem lies in reverse momentum—the Knicks have lost six in a row now, and by the time Chandler and Felton get back, it could be too late. It seems early in the season to make that statement, but that’s how losing seasons are.

Can Anthony do anything about it? He had 15 boards, three assists, a blocked shot and a steal to go along with his 34 points. He didn’t play a perfect game by all means, but the Knicks problems run deeper than that. And once things start to snowball in New York, it gets downright nasty.

We’ve seen this story before. There have been seven different head coaches for the Knicks in the past ten years. The carousel doesn’t always seem like the best solution, but we know its music all too well and it’s getting louder by the game.  

Melo is in a contract year. That adds to the talk in a real and tangible way—is he just trying to get his numbers? Maybe not, he’s averaging a double-double for the first time in his career, and that has to say something for effort.

Maybe he can’t save the hapless Knicks. But credit him for trying. If only they’d match his effort, maybe they’d turn around their season.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Can Jordan Farmar Save the LA Lakers’ Point Guard Position?

Jordan Farmar, Los Angeles native, UCLA alumnus and holder of two NBA World Championship rings with the L.A. Lakers, is back where it all started with a golden opportunity to lock down a long-term spot as the team’s No. 1 point guard.

It’s quite possible that one of the reasons Farmar left millions (he signed a three-year, $10.5 million deal in 2012 to play in the Turkish Basketball League) on the table in Turkey after one season to return home and suit up for his beloved Lakers is because he knows Steve Nash is not the Nash of old and may be on his last NBA legs.

Farmar may also have seen an opportunity to supplant the team’s current starting point guard, Steve Blake, who will turn 34 in February.

And that could happen down the road, as Blake is a free agent next summer and may go elsewhere. In fact, Blake is coveted by a lot of NBA general managers and could fetch decent assets were the Lakers to move him before the end of this season.

Upon signing a minimum deal with the Lakers last July, Farmar told ESPNLosAngeles.com reporter Dave McMenamin:

“They (Lakers) knew about my deal overseas and really didn’t push it earlier because they didn’t think I’d be willing to give up that guaranteed money I had over there. I wanted to be back in the NBA, but more importantly, back with the Lakers. This is the only situation I would have taken a minimum deal with.”

Regardless of what Nash and his camp are saying about his relentless efforts to get back on the court, it doesn’t look good for the soon-to-be 40-year-old former league MVP who is dealing with nerve damage suffered last season when he broke his leg.

Recent reports have Nash out of the lineup for at least another 10 days, while some reports claim he is pondering early retirement.

Head coach Mike D’Antoni tried to squelch those rumors at practice this week, telling ESPNLA’s Ramona Shelburne:

“He’s (Nash) 39, almost 40 years old. I think he’s looking at, ‘What am I going to do when I’m 50?’ But no [he's not thinking of retiring]. Now, whether he can get over this, we’ll see. We think he can. We hope he can. But there’s no talk of him sitting over there eating bon bons the rest of the way. No.”

With Nash gone, Farmar has moved from third to second on the point guard depth chart. His early-season play has been sporadic, and he’s appeared tight at times, turning the ball over a career-worst 2.6 times per 19 minutes. Farmar is hitting just 37 percent of his attempts from the floor, including 28 percent from downtown.

On the positive side, Farmar has been aggressive and high-energy when running the offense. He’s dishing out close to five assists and pulling down over three rebounds in just those 19 minutes. The desire is clearly there, and the shots will start to fall once he relaxes and tries not to do too much.

Conversely, Blake has been on fire of late. The 6″3″, 10th-year PG has taken control of the team’s offense and appears much more confident in this role than at any time during his four years with the Lakers.

Heading into Friday night’s game at home against Golden State, Blake was averaging 46 percent from beyond the arc and even had a last-second, game-winning three-pointer at Houston to celebrate about. Blake is also averaging over seven assists per game, including 16 dimes in last Sunday’s win over Detroit.

Assuming that Nash is ever closer to retirement and Blake is auditioning for one final contract next summer or a trade this winter, Farmar finds himself in an enviable position. He turns 27 next week and is just entering the prime of his NBA career.

A backcourt of Farmar and Kobe Bryant would allow the Lakers to concentrate on improving the roster with young, long, athletic wings and post players via a strong draft next summer and a stellar free-agency class.

And though Farmar’s shot hasn’t been going in, he’s being more aggressive than ever trying to make good things happen. He currently projects out to seven rebounds and nine assists per 40 minutes of action.

Farmar says that his time overseas playing in Turkey really helped him become more of a leader. There’s an air of confidence in those abilities that wasn’t there in 2009 and 2010 when he was a bench player for two consecutive Lakers championship teams.

About that experience in Turkey, where he averaged 13.8 points and 3.9 assists in 29 games for Anadolu Efes, Farmar told Los Angeles Times reporter Melissa Rohlin:

It was the first time in my professional career where I got to carry a team. I was taking and making big shots. I was at the free throw line at the end of games. I was responsible for how we were going to perform as a team because I had a lot of the load.

I never had that as a professional yet. Just going through that, I think gave me a lot more opportunity to see what works, to learn my game, to just figure myself out as a player and a person.

Farmar was so excited to sign a one-year, $1.1 million deal to return home that he went out and helped recruit Nick Young, a former rival at USC and basketball friend during their L.A. high school days.

Said Farmar (via Los Angeles Times and Eric Pincus):

I told him it’s special to be a Laker and, as kids from L.A., we have an opportunity to do some big things this year and be part of the group that helps restore things.

The opportunity for a long tenure as starting point guard for his Los Angeles Lakers is right there for Jordan Farmar’s taking.

He knows he has one season to prove he deserves it.

 

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Can Jordan Hill Help Save the LA Lakers?

DENVER —

Even if Kobe Bryant comes back to save the day, he’s not going to do it alone.

So in addition to Bryant inspiring legions of L.A. Lakers fans all over again, here’s a vision for their upstart season still to come:

  • Dudes in the third-deck stands dancing devotedly under Jordan Hill wigs and wearing garbage man costumes.
  • Mike D’Antoni’s three-point attack exploding to unprecedented levels because defenses are sucked inside by Hill’s commitment to be the active pick-and-roll roller that the Lakers assumed Dwight Howard would be.
  • There’s renewed awareness of breast cancer—Hill’s personal pink crusade since his mom died of it when he was three.
  • The cool tattoo to get becomes the Spider-Man emblem that Hill has in the middle of his chest.
  • And all the pretty people across Southern California tap into their inner beasts, doing their jobs with unprecedented passion, energized by Hill’s absolutely unstoppable attitude toward dirty work: “Nobody can keep me off the boards” (real quote).

If it all sounds a little fanciful, I’ll say this also:

I really did bring up the topic of “Linsanity” when talking to Hill late Wednesday night in the Lakers’ locker room.

Hill grinned. He laughed. Then he paused before he spoke, smiled some more and then said with a very simple chuckle: “I’m just happy to get more minutes, man. I’m just happy to get more minutes, and I’m going to continue to do what I’ve been doing like I’m a force down there in the paint.”

If Hill, 26, is in any way following in Jeremy Lin’s footsteps as another no-name phenomenon to fall into D’Antoni’s lap, it’s clear the coach now recognizes Hill as the Lakers’ energy source the past two games. Hill delivered 21 points and 11 rebounds in the victory over New Orleans and 18 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in the loss in Denver.

Denver coach Brian Shaw specifically cited Hill for keeping the Lakers in the game Wednesday night, and D’Antoni joked that Hill got 18.5 of the Lakers’ 19 offensive rebounds (actually eight).

Averaging 16 minutes before these past two games, Hill played 26 minutes Tuesday and 30 Wednesday.

“I always thought that if I could get at least 28 minutes a game, I could easily get a double-double,” Hill said. “I’ve never really had 28 minutes a game.”

D’Antoni said after the game in Denver that Hill is now “pretty solidified.” And that’s not even as much as D’Antoni said before the game about Hill: “He’s really good—if not our best player.”

Here’s what Lakers guard Steve Blake had to say: “He’s been doing that all training camp and in practice. It’s not a surprise to us. He’s just now getting the opportunity and making the best of it. He’s a workhorse.”

Should D’Antoni have identified the unique talent he has to work with and moved earlier to cultivate it? Hill doesn’t hold any grudges, saying: “The coach was just figuring out lineups, and I respect him for that. I just waited till he wanted me to go out there in that starting lineup and do what I do.”

This is where we should stop for a little objectivity with regard to Hill’s game. He fell behind Shawne Williams and Chris Kaman in preseason by consistently missing mid-range jumpers and committing fouls while setting screens—two fundamental parts of D’Antoni’s offense.

Hill’s problem in both areas was rushing to get the job done. He made 13 of 14 free throws the past two games by slowing down his stroke.

Can he sustain his energy if he is going to play twice as long in the game? Can he be trusted not to get hurt considering last season began with a herniated disk and ended with hip surgery, with Hill now nursing a bone bruise in his right knee?

These are the kinds of limitations that usually emerge when a guy is trying to go next level. Remember Earl Clark’s Lakers coming-out party last season for a desperate D’Antoni? Clark went and signed with Cleveland for $4.5 million per year, and it took him five games there to go from starter to not playing at all.

Shaw was talking before the game Wednesday about how many players want to be like Kobe and hear stories about Kobe—but do not “understand what it really takes to perform on that level.” That includes Bryant’s aggressiveness to make sure he gets to show what he can do, something more patient guys like Hill as the No. 8 overall pick in the 2009 draft definitely haven’t brought.

But even for the tier of top players below Bryant, there is an epic gulf between them and the role players in the league. It’s just an entirely different workload—not just in minutes, but expectations and responsibilities.

If you’re going to be a main man, then you have to do difference-making stuff three out of every four nights, all season long, no matter foul trouble or woman problems or the sniffles. You establish your greatness through your consistency, not by one poster dunk Tuesday (the Lakers’ Xavier Henry) or one big game Wednesday (Denver’s Timofey Mozgov).

Hill can express confidence about making the leap, but there’s a lot that awaits him that he can’t know without experiencing. Even Lin made all that magic in New York during early 2012 and then fell off—losing his starting job in Houston this season but fighting back, improving his jumper and producing 34 points and 12 assists Wednesday night in place of injured James Harden.

What is concrete is that just as D’Antoni’s Knicks needed Lin’s creative energy, D’Antoni’s Lakers need Hill’s primal energy. Even before Hill’s massive rebounding effort Wednesday night, consider these season-to-date advanced stats from NBA.com on “contested rebound percentage,” meaning how many of guys’ rebounds were won despite a threatening opponent lurking or battling within three-and-a-half feet:

Dwight Howard 30.3 percent, Blake Griffin 30.6 percent, Pau Gasol 31.9 percent, Kevin Love 36.7 percent, Jordan Hill 60.9 percent.

To a Lakers team that D’Antoni complains gives “false energy,” Hill can definitely offer something real.

Perhaps something consistent. Hopefully something inspirational.

“Now that I’m getting more minutes,” Hill said, “I can really do what I can do.”

 

- Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

 

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Kentucky’s James Young Tries to Save the Ball, Scores on His Own Team’s Basket

Kentucky Wildcats freshman James Young made a great effort to try to keep the ball from going out of bounds in an exhibition against the University of Montevallo. Unfortunately, the ball found a way into his own team’s hoop after he threw it back in play with a no-look, underhanded scoop.  

Check out the wild sequence for yourself:

If this had occurred on the big stage, this play would be on blooper reels for years to come. Lucky for Young, this was just an exhibition. Regardless of the magnitude of this game, though, this was a ridiculous play.

This is not the first time we have seen something like this happen. Isiah “J.R.” Rider hit a similar shot while with the Minnesota Timberwolves back in December of 1994:

Hat tip to The Big Lead for the find.

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Kentucky’s James Young Incredibly Scores on Own Basket After Trying to Save Ball

Kentucky Wildcats freshman James Young made a great effort to try to keep the ball from going out of bounds in an exhibition against the University of Montevello, but the ball somehow found a way into his own hoop after he threw it back in play.

Check out the wild sequence:

If it had occurred on the other side of the court, this play would be on highlight reels for years to come. Lucky for him, it was just an exhibition. Regardless of which basket it went through, though, it was an incredible play.

It’s not the first time we have seen something like this happen. Isiah “J.R.” Rider hit a similar shot while with the Minnesota Timberwolves back in December of 1994:

Hat tip to The Big Lead for the find.

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Jeremy Lin: Rockets PG Says He Was ‘Supposed to Save Houston Basketball’

Apparently, Jeremy Lin bought into his own hype.

According to Lauren Leigh Noske of The Gospel Herald, Lin told 20,000 attendees at the “Dream Big, Be Yourself” event in Taiwan that he became consumed with the impossible task of continuing “Linsanity” after leaving the New York Knicks:

I was ready to invigorate the entire city of Houston…I was supposed to save Houston basketball.

I became so obsessed with becoming a great basketball player…trying to be Linsanity, being this phenomenon that took the NBA by storm. The coaches were losing faith in me, basketball fans were making fun of me.

As much as it sounds like it, Lin isn’t depressed about what happened in his first year with the Houston Rockets. He seems to be in a much better place now. In fact, just to be safe, take his melodrama with a grain of salt; he was using the story to make a point about his faith.

A little creative license goes a long way with that sort of thing.

If we want to make a realistic criticism of Lin’s comments, it’s only fair to point out that nobody in his right mind ever imagined Lin was going to be any sort of savior for the Rockets. Lin is either delusional or exceptionally impressionable if he actually believed that he was expected to be a legitimate franchise cornerstone.

Even his staunchest defenders (and there are some very staunch Lin defenders) would admit that even if Lin was a very good player for the Rockets, he’d never recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle phenomenon that was Linsanity. If Lin genuinely believed that he was expected to “save Houston basketball,” he was utterly alone in that belief.

At any rate, Lin told the assembled masses that he’s much happier now that he has given up the idea of being the same player he was with the Knicks.

That’s good news for Lin—who’ll hopefully play better without so much self-imposed pressure—and good news for the Rockets.

And who knows, maybe by letting go of unrealistic expectations Lin will actually get closer to his maximum potential.

It’s not like the Rockets needed another big acquisition this summer. But if Lin returns to training camp with a clear head, the team might suddenly find itself with a new and improved version of its starting point guard.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

« Previous PageNext Page »