Oct 30, 2014 1:40 PM EDT
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are universally known as the Los Angeles Clippers' top two players, but players and coaches believe the X-factor toward an NBA championship is DeAndre Jordan.
“He’s the key to our championship,” Matt Barnes said. “Teams have offensive threats, but when you have a 7-footer that can run the floor, rebound, block shots and change shots, he’s going to be the key.”
Jordan is entering the final year of his four-year, $43 million deal.
“It’s just another season. I don’t want to think about it like that,” Jordan insists. “I don’t think about it like that.”
Everyone knows the issue is there.
“It’s a free agent year. It’s a big year for our team,” Barnes said. “There’s a lot on his plate.”
Oct 28, 2014 12:20 PM EDT
Vivek Ranadivé has pitched an idea to the Sacramento Kings' brain trust of playing 4-on-5 defense to leave one player to cherry-pick on the offensive end of the floor, according to multiple sources.
The Kings won't try that idea, but their D-League affiliate might experiment with the concept.
Ranadivé is committed to pushing boundaries in his search for an offbeat brand of “position-less” ball.
Oct 27, 2014 1:40 PM EDT
The Boston Celtics have a fairly even roster as they look to rebuild out of their Big 3 era.
“If everybody were designing an NBA roster, I think they would probably suggest that you have three max [salary] players that are All-Star players like we’ve had in the past,” Danny Ainge said. “Like Miami had, like Cleveland has now. That would be ideal because it’s pretty clear-cut who’s going to play and then you build players around them. We don’t have that right now.
“Not being able to have the 10 or 15 franchise players that exist in a 30-team league and with one team having maybe three of them and another having two, there’s not that many of them to go around. That probably is a good thing that some nights your bench will be better than your starters.”
The Celtics have amassed a considerable number of first round picks over the past two years.
“We don’t really look at it as rebuilding or changing direction, we’re trying to build a championship,” said Ainge matter-of-factly. “We have some really nice players and I know Brad is really understanding the NBA game and all the things that come from making the transition to coaching in college. I couldn’t be happier with Brad and his staff. I think he’s done a great job of communicating to all the players.”
The Celtics were interested in Kevin Love this offseason and hope to eventually attract a franchise-caliber player.
“Players will want to come to Boston, but not all players will and we understand that,” Ainge said. “Right now my focus is on Opening Night. I’m excited how this team comes together on the court. We don’t even know who’s going to be free agents. We don’t know who’s going to sign contract extensions. We don’t know who is going to decide who is going to stay with their own teams. We’ll be ready for that when the time comes.”
Oct 27, 2014 1:31 PM EDT
Dwyane Wade played in just 54 regular season games as part of a designed maintenance program by the Miami Heat.
Wade will need to play more games this season in order for the Heat to remain a playoff team.
Wade started out the playoffs well, but ultimately faded against the San Antonio Spurs in The Finals.
"We tried something different last year," Wade said. "At one point it was close to almost genius. And then I didn't have a great Finals performance, and our team didn't have a great Finals performance, and it was the worst thing to ever happen. But this is a different year. Every year is different. My approach and my responsibility is a little different. I understand that, and he understands that as well ... my goal is to be available as much as possible."
Said Erik Spoelstra: "We don't have a specific plan, because we're going day to day. The plan is to be available. I'm not going through the calendar. We'll get to them when we feel we need them."
Oct 27, 2014 1:28 PM EDT
Chris Bosh is prepared to again play a bigger role, similar to his initial seasons in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors.
But Bosh sees the situation with the Miami Heat being considering different.
"The volume of touches, that's the only similarities" to Toronto, he said. "Everything else is totally different. It's getting to be a little while ago. I always get the question: 'You going to be like you were in Toronto?' No, I'm not. I consider myself a much better player than I was then. I'm a better leader. I'm taking the experiences I've had over the past years and trying to bring all that over to my new role."
Bosh accepted a more complementary role during his first four seasons with the Heat due to the presence of LeBron James.
"I knew what it was as soon as I agreed," Bosh said. "I've been in this league 10-plus years now, and I consider myself a decently smart person. Yeah, I know what it means. And as far as like my role with this team, and what they're going to demand of me is a lot more. I understand that. I understood that back in July. It's a work in progress for me."
Oct 27, 2014 8:21 AM EDT
Although Steve Kerr appears to be leaning toward bringing Andre Iguodala off the Golden State Warriors' bench as the sixth man, the coach admits he has a dilemma.
Iguodala, 31, battled knee tendinitis last season, but Kerr expects to use the team's depth.
"He's an incredibly smart player," Kerr said of Iguodala. "He recognizes everything that's happening on the floor in front of him on both ends. And he's a leader, so he can run a team and get guys organized. He is an absolute joy to watch out there. I can't wait to get him in the game to see him, but we're trying to put the right combinations out there to help everybody and make the team its best.
"At the end of the day, we're always going to do what's best for the team and what's going to make us the best possible team, and we'll stick to that."
Oct 23, 2014 12:39 PM EDT
Kevin Love will play a different role with the Cleveland Cavaliers than he has throughout his entire basketball career, using his size and shooting ability to stretch the floor.
"My entire life I've played the game from inside-out," Love said. "So the more touches I can get inside to get myself going, the better. I'm not accustomed to starting out a game shooting a three, so it's just something that I see.
"I'm 26-years-old and I've been playing basketball for quite a long time. Just finding ways to mix it up. If anything, keeping it around the basket a little bit more and the offense will allow me to get offensive rebounds. That will be tough for teams with Andy [Varejao] and myself and Tristan [Thompson] in there."
Love says the offense calls for him to be out on the perimeter, but he says he has to make sure he remembers to go inside more.
"Yeah, the offense is built that way but I just have to make a conscious decision to get myself in there," Love said. "There are a lot of times where I just find myself fading to the three-point line. For me, it's a mentality and that's easy to fix.
"We've been putting in stuff like different pin-downs, cut-across and cross-screens to get me open in there. You'll see a lot more of that during the season. That's always how I played and I know that coach wants me to play that way, as well."
Oct 22, 2014 11:54 AM EDT
Phil Jackson candidly spoke with Charley Rosen about the entire New York Knicks' roster.
"Carmelo Anthony is obviously the team's only certified All-Star," said Jackson. "It's also no secret that Melo has to keep the ball moving, but he's committed to doing this. Passing has never been a great strength of his, but in the triangle he'll be able to have check-off reads like a quarterback looking for his first-option receiver, then his second and then his third. There'll be plenty of iso opportunities for Melo, and in the triangle it'll be very difficult for defenses to double-team him. It won't be like last season where he had to take clutch shots with a gang of defenders in his face. Also look for Melo to get a bunch of post-up looks."
Jackson is optimisic that Andrea Bargnani can have a productive season.
"If Andrea Bargnani's initial season in New York was a disappointment, I believe he'll thrive in the triangle. The 3-point shot is a bit out of his range, but from 20 feet and in, Andrea is a deadly shooter. And those are the kinds of shots that the offense will generate for him. Still, there are two aspects of his offense that he has to work on. Because he only approaches the rim in straight lines, he needs to develop some kind of change-of-direction move with the ball -- perhaps a crossover dribble. Also, he's a finger-roller, not a dunker. Could he have small hands? Or does he just need to be more aggressive?
"Bargnani's defense likewise needs improvement. With his long arms, he can be an effective shot-blocker, but he's usually too reactive on defense. In the past, Andrea has been slow getting back in transition defense, and once there he's been unsure of what his rotation responsibilities have been. And like Amar'e, Andrea has to see which of the frontcourt positions suits him best."
Oct 22, 2014 10:36 AM EDT
The NBA has released its annual survery of general managers with the San Antonio Spurs receiving 46.2 percent of the votes for which team will win the 2015 Finals.
The Cleveland Cavaliers came in second with 15.4 percent, followed by the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City tied for third at 11.5 percent. The Golden State Warriors received 3.8 percent of the vote.
LeBron James is the expected winner of MVP with 67.9 percent, followed by Kevin Durant at 21.4 percent.
James is also the player most GMs would choose to build a franchise around with 50 percent of the vote, though that is down from 89.7 percent last season. Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant each received 25 percent of the vote.
Jabari Parker is a heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year with 75 percent of the vote, followed by Andrew Wiggins at 17.9 percent.
Gregg Popovich is considered the best head coach in the NBA with 92.9 percent of the vote.
Oct 21, 2014 11:20 AM EDT
The Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics each have just one player ranked in ESPN's top-100 list of NBA players.
Michael Carter-Williams, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo represent their respective teams in the top-100.
The 76ers are the only team with only two players ranked in the top 250, while the Knicks, Lakers and Celtics each have at least three other players in the top 150.
Steven Adams' production on offense was inconsistent and limited last season.
Carmelo Anthony has averaged 25.3 points over his career.
Dion Waiters has shot a total of 54 times in this preseason, the most of any Cavalier player in five games.
Seven of the last eight NBA champions led all playoff teams in 3-point attempts and makes.
Mike Dunleavy Jr. has filled a reserve and starting role in his two seasons with the Bulls.
Derek Fisher likes the high motor of Quincy Acy at power forward.
Scott Brooks hasn't staggered the minutes of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook during his tenure as head coach of the Thunder.
Derrick Rose isn't upset with Tom Thibodeau's criticism of the Bulls, but he also doesn't agree with it.
Steven Adams already has a reputation around the league as he enters his second NBA season.
Carmelo Anthony plans to unveil a fade-away off the wrong foot this season, similar to one of Dirk Nowitzki's most effective moves.
Carmelo Anthony remains committed to making the Triangle offense work.
Tom Thibodeau singled out Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
Jeff Bower consults daily with Stan Van Gundy about ways in which the Pistons can improve their roster.
Giannis Antetokounmpo will start with Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker on the wings, Ersan Ilyasova at power forward and Zaza Pachulia at center.
The Timberwolves' coaching staff has been encouraging Andrew Wiggins to push himself and stop trying to blend in.
Oct 12, 2014 | Ian Begley/ESPN
Under the direction of Phil Jackson, the Knicks have hired an expert to teach "mindfulness training" to the team.
The 76ers finished 13-14 with the second worse record in the NBA and are expected to struggle again to produce wins this season.
The Bulls won't have Pau Gasol guarding "stretch four" forwards on the perimeter and will allow him to use his length to defend the rim
Boris Diaw has a weight clause in his contract with the Spurs in which he will earn bonuses of as much as $500,000.
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Chris Bosh went from first option with the Raptors to third option with the Heat, which was a difficult transition as an offensive player.
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