Nov 26, 2014 11:14 AM EST
Once Stan Van Gundy began a culture turnover of the Detroit Pistons, one of his first targeted acquisitions became Joel Anthony. For nearly seven seasons with the Miami Heat, Anthony was a fabric of the franchise’s system and provided rebounding and defense as a reserve on two NBA championship teams.
Van Gundy hired players he coached in Miami and Orlando, Tim Hardaway Sr., Quentin Richardson and Malik Allen, and traded for another member of the Heat’s old culture in Anthony, a complete shift of climate for an organization that had a 14-year run under Joe Dumars.
Anthony will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, potentially a consecutive year out of the NBA playoffs for a veteran who had three straight runs to the Finals with the Heat. Even so, Anthony, 32, has made clear to Van Gundy his desire to remain part of the new regime, aiming to re-sign with the Pistons and be a member of a roster that thrives again in Detroit.
“I love the idea of being here, staying here moving forward and having a chance to help them turn this franchise around,” Anthony told RealGM. “Stan has been very adamant about wanting to change the culture, so to be part of that … I don’t want to say it’s more special than playing on a contending team that could win it all, but it would be very satisfying and gratifying to be part of a situation where you’re able to turn things around.
“Obviously, it’s great being on a contending team, because you’re winning and things are going well. But it’s more about being in situations where I feel like I could help. This a situation where I can help, where they want me, Detroit wanting to bring me in. Winning-wise, we’re not there yet, but the fact that we can built it into something like that, it’s something I’m excited to be a part of.”
The Heat traded Anthony before the trade deadline a season ago, a transaction that neither LeBron James nor Dwyane Wade endorsed publicly and privately.
“I had caught wind that a trade was a possibility,” Anthony said. “So when it happened, even though you knew it was a possibility, it still caught me by surprise just because you’re so close to the team, the organization and the city. It’s tough having played somewhere your entire career, the amount of time I had over there and all the memories. Obviously, Miami has always been home for me. I still have my place there in the offseason.”
Jun 05, 2014 1:31 AM EDT
- The following is an excerpt from Jonathan Tjarks' e-book about the NBA Draft that can be purchased for just $3.99.
Thomas Robinson was seen as one of the safest picks in the 2012 NBA Draft. At 6'9 240, he was an elite athlete with prototypical size for the power forward position at the NBA. A first-team All-American, Robinson averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds a game as a junior, leading Kansas to the NCAA championship game.
The Sacramento Kings took him with the No. 5 overall pick, expecting to plug him into the starting lineup next to DeMarcus Cousins. Instead, Robinson lasted only a few months with Sacramento before being shipped to the Houston Rockets and then the Portland Trail Blazers, becoming the rare Top 5 pick to be on three teams in less than a season.
So what happened?
Robinson, like many of Bill Self's players, looked better than he really was at Kansas. While Self gets his fair share of elite recruits, he has won ten Big 12 championships in a row because he recruits players who fit his system, which maximizes their strengths and minimizes their weaknesses.
At Kansas, Robinson shared a frontcourt with Jeff Withey, a second-round pick in 2012. Withey, at 7'0 235, was an elite shot-blocker who cleaned up a lot of Robinson's mistakes on the defensive end. On offense, Withey could play high-low with Robinson and knock down a 20-foot jumper.
Self's inside-out offense slowed down the pace of the game and put guards who could space the floor around Withey and Robinson, giving them a ton of room to operate in the paint. At that point, there wasn't much the vast majority of NCAA front-lines could do against a 7'0 and a 6'9 who would play in the NBA.
However, when he faced big men who could match his size and athleticism, Robinson was a fairly limited offensive player. He couldn't consistently knock down a perimeter jumper, couldn't put the ball on the floor, couldn't score out of the low post and couldn't create shots for his teammates.
His struggles in their two games against Kentucky, one of the only teams they faced with multiple NBA-caliber big men, should have been a red flag. At the next level, every frontline looks like Kentucky’s.
Rather than being a safe pick, Robinson was a fairly substantial gamble. He projected as an average defender at PF, an average shot-creator, a minus shooter, a minus passer and a plus rebounder. Whoever drafted him would need to spend several years developing his offensive game before he would be a starting-caliber player.
After spending their whole lives as the biggest and baddest players on the court, the vast majority of big men become just another guy at the highest level of the game. Unless you are Andre Drummond, you don't enter the league bigger and faster than everyone you face.
Drummond was taken by the Detroit Pistons at No. 9 in 2012, four spots after Robinson. After one season at UConn, he was seen as one of the biggest gambles on the board, a raw big man who hadn't proven he could channel his physical gifts into consistent production.
At 6'11 275, Drummond has an unprecedented combination of size and athleticism. We have never seen a man his size do the things he can do in the air - he can take the ball between his legs and dunk in one motion. Nevertheless, despite going up against much smaller and less athletic players on a nightly basis in college, he averaged only 11 points and 8 rebounds a game.
Unlike Robinson, Drummond wasn't in an ideal situation in college. He shared a front-court with Alex Oriakhi, a fringe NBA prospect who couldn't shoot the ball. Since neither Drummond nor Oriakhi could stretch the floor, opposing teams packed the paint against UConn.
On the perimeter, the Huskies never replaced Kemba Walker, who had left for the NBA draft the year before. Shabazz Napier, their starting PG, was still learning the game, more comfortable looking for his own shot than setting up his teammates. Ryan Boatright, their other PG, spent most of the season in NCAA limbo.
Soon after Drummond enrolled at UConn, the program got hit with APR (academic) sanctions that would make them ineligible for the 2013 NCAA Tournament. To top it off, John Calhoun came down with cancer in the middle of the season.
Scouts looked at Drummond's tools and lack of consistent production as a freshman and wondered whether he loved the game. What they should have been asking is whether any of that would have mattered.
Would it have made Oriakhi a better shooter? Would it have made Napier a better passer? Would it have kept Boatright out of the NCAA's crosshairs? Would it have stopped the APR sanctions from coming down or kept his coach from getting cancer?
When you are scouting a player in college, you have to scout his teammates and his coaching staff too. If you don't know what's going on with his team, you will only get an incomplete picture of what's going on. Their team can make them look better or worse than they really are.
In the NBA, where Drummond has played with PF’s who can shoot and PG’s who can pass, he has been unstoppable on the pick-and-roll. He is bigger, more coordinated and more athletic than every center in the league - he has a lot of value standing in front of the rim.
If he were an NFL prospect, the draft conversation around him would be much different. The NFL scouts would have taken one look at him in the combine and lost their mind - Drummond had measurables as good as any prospect coming into the NBA in the last generation.
Two years later, does anyone care what Drummond or Robinson did in college? When projecting players to the NBA, past production doesn't necessarily mean anything.
- This was an excerpt from Jonathan Tjarks' e-book about the NBA Draft that can be purchased for $3.99.
Feb 22, 2014 1:25 PM EST
Thursday at the NBA trade deadline, we saw a total of 26 players, seven second round draft picks, and zero blockbuster trades. On Friday, we covered how the 10 players that ended up on West teams will shape the playoff race, and now we are looking at the 16 that were sent to the D-League…whoops, I meant the Eastern Conference.
While the Western teams made a few smart, calculated trades to improve depth (Steve Blake to the Warriors) and cut costs (possible buyout for Jason Terry from the Kings), the East had the biggest deals of the deadline. The East deals included the only two All-Stars dealt (Antawn Jamison and Danny Granger), the two best players (Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes), and the smartest player (Professor Andre Miller, PhD).
The Brooklyn Nets traded their disappointing – but playoff tested – guard, Jason Terry, for the Sacramento Kings' disappointing – and never played in a playoff game – guard, Marcus Thorton. Thorton, who once averaged 21.3 points per game, is a solid sixth man and capable of scoring in bunches when needed though he has struggled badly this season. He will likely provide relief for Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson down the stretch of the season. However, adding his extra $730,000 in salary means paying a ridiculous $3.3 million in tax, bringing their total to over $88 million on taxes alone…for a team that won’t get out of the first round.
The Cleveland Cavaliers traded for 76ers' center, Spencer Hawes. He will likely anchor their team right to where they were destined to be before they traded for him…the lottery. Hawes is a talented 7-footer who leads all centers in three-pointers made and percentage, is an elite passer for his position, a good scorer and rebounder, and a capable body on defense when he cares. Forced to play on a hapless Philadelphia team, Hawes had no reason to try over the past few months, but as he heads into free agency this offseason, expect his production to go back up for the Cavs. Despite the addition of Hawes and recently acquired Luol Deng, this team is unfortunately still coached by Mike Brown, suggesting they are likely doomed to miss the playoffs and then ultimately lose Hawes and Deng to free agency for nothing.
Professor Andre Miller, PhD left his classroom for winter break on December 30th and has been M.I.A. ever since. However, after being traded to the Washington Wizards, you can rest assured Professor Miller will be making a teaching once again. Miller, who was restless under indecisive rookie head coach Brian Shaw will be a capable backup behind John Wall, likely helping lead this Wizards team to homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Charlotte Bobcats made a good deal at the trade deadline. Say it with me: “The Bobcats did something right.” They traded valuable but redundant point guard, Ramon Sessions to the Milwaukee Bucks along with Jeff Adrian for Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal. Ridnour is a terrific backup point guard who can play behind or with Kemba Walker, while Neal is an outstanding shooter who won an NBA Finals game last season by scoring 24 points in 25 minutes!
In the only move that might affect the NBA Finals this season, the Pacers trading former All-Star forward, Danny Granger to the 76ers for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen. Turner is a do-it-all forward who has fallen out of favor league-wide because he has failed to live up to the hype of a second overall pick. Turner should play with the first unit as well as anchor the second for the Pacers. His ball handling will allow George Hill, Paul George and CJ Watson to get free and take uncontested shots while giving them insurance –albeit expensive at an $8.7 million qualifying offer or whatever long-term offer he receives – in case Lance Stephenson leaves in free agency. Additionally, Allen started in the playoffs only two seasons ago and is a capable big man off the bench. Most importantly, Larry “The Legend” Bird signed off on this trade, thus, it must be great.
The last set of trades involved the Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers and the Atlanta Hawks. Each team gave up players that weren’t part of their future and received cash, second round draft picks, and laundry service for a year in exchange for helping another team out. The Heat traded Roger Mason Jr. and cash for a pick they will likely never see in order to open a roster spot for Caron Butler (Tuff Juice wants to go home!). The 76ers, who were involved in a league-high four deals during the trade deadline ended up with five second round draft picks and five players that won’t be buying property in Philadelphia. Finally, the Hawks acquired Antawn Jamison from the Clippers and enough cash to take him out to a nice dinner before buying out his contract.
Compared to the four West teams that made a deadline deal, eight of the top ten Eastern franchises made a deal with only Chicago and Detroit remaining inactive. Whether this reflects the fragility of the Eastern Conference standings (5th place through 11th is separated by just 5.5 games), or the strength of the mighty teams in the West (3rd place in the East would be 10th in the West) is anyone’s guess. With that said, all these moves outside of Indiana and Miami are moot because none of them are making the Eastern Conference Finals.
Indiana Pacers Vs. Miami Heat, Round III starts May 20th – Get ready, America!
Feb 13, 2014
Trading Greg Monroe for a traditional small forward, recoups value for a player not expected to be re-signed, moves Josh Smith to power forward, and allows the Pistons to surround franchise player Andre Drummond with the right system.
Jan 01, 2014
Consistency has been a big issue for the Pistons. Aside from a four-game winning streak in early December, which preceded a three-game losing streak, they have had trouble following up strong efforts with another one. They are 13-9 against the East and 1-10 against the West.
Oct 29, 2013
While there are no direct criteria, my non-national teams have to have entertainment value on a game to game basis and fascinating pieces in the form of young talent or new additions. Each of these squads fits that bill and there were a few tough omissions as well.
Oct 29, 2013
The following 30 questions are the biggest issues facing each NBA front office as the 13-14 regular season begins.
Oct 26, 2013
The Pelicans, Raptors, Pistons, Wolves, Cavaliers, Blazers, Wizards, Mavericks, and maybe even the Kings and Bobcats could find their way into the playoffs if a number of things go right.
Oct 21, 2013
In an NBA so rich with talent and intriguing storylines, how can you limit yourself to just one team? These five squads deserve second billing in your hearts and remote-holding hands.
Aug 23, 2013
As long as Andre Drummond stays healthy, he has as much physical upside as any player in the NBA. If he ever develops a post game, he could be unstoppable. In his prime, a player with Drummondís gargantuan size will be an existential threat to any small-ball team.
Aug 16, 2013
Great drafts for the Rockets, 76ers, Nets, Warriors, Hawks and Grizzlies headline this complete rundown of the 2013 offseason.
Jul 08, 2013
Andre Drummond's impressive physical profile allowed him to have an excellent rookie season in limited minutes. This summer, Drummond is working with Hakeem Olajuwon to develop his post game while also improving his conditioning.
Jul 01, 2013
With the 2013 NBA offseason underway, here is a primer on what all 30 teams are facing.
Jun 28, 2013
Breaking down all 30 teams by category of how they fared in the often surprising, never disappointing 2013 NBA Draft.
May 20, 2013
One fun component of the Amnesty rule is that we know exactly which players are eligible for it and that number can only decrease over time since the players had to have been under contract with the same team before the new CBA.
May 19, 2013
We have seen a whole lot of changes since the pre-Tournament issue of the Lottery Lowdown. March Madness gave us a few players to watch both this year and for 2014 while the Nike Hoop Summit and Combine helped clarify the picture in terms of athletic ability and positional versatility.
Feb 21, 2013
The Kings, Knicks, Rockets, Thunder and Cavaliers have been the most active teams at the deadline over the past decade, while the Spurs, Pistons, Heat, Lakers and Pacers have made the fewest deals.
Feb 11, 2013
Jose Calderon has already injected the Pistons with a new sense of confidence. Lawrence Frank marvels about Calderonís calmness and leadership, and the coach has begun to rely upon him to smooth over the offense and, more importantly, rub his knowledge on Brandon Knight.
Jan 13, 2013
All around him, Tayshaun Prince is the lasting player for remembrance. The Detroit Pistonsí young core players ask him every so often about that 2004 championship, and Prince doesnít boast about the winning, but rather tells them the process needed before the glory.
Nov 01, 2012
While the drop-off from the Heat to the rest of the Eastern Conference is severe, the Lakers, Spurs and Thunder have quick company in the second and third tiers.
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