Basketball Wiretap

Jeff Hornacek: Knicks Need More Size On Wings

Mar 21, 2018 3:48 PM

Jeff Hornacek believes the Knicks need more size on the wings.

The Knicks traded away Carmelo Anthony in September and have relied on traditional shooting guards like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee to play bigger.

“If you look around at the top teams in the league, they have multiple guys in the 6-7, 6-8 range with length,” Hornacek said. “We have a lot of guys in the 6-5ish range. [We] just got to get bigger at some of those spots. … You talk about that 6-7, 6-8 guy, everybody in the league wants that guy. You don’t see those guys all over the place.’’

Hardaway said he's monitoring how the Knicks address the issue in the offseason.

“I haven’t played the 3 ever — the first time playing it for the whole year,” Hardaway said. “You go against strong guys — LeBron [James], KD [Kevin Durant], those are very hard matchups for a guy who is 6-6. It was a learning experience. You have to learn to choose your battles and use your size to your advantage. I got to watch the offseason to see how everything plays out for us.’’

“You can do it that way, but sometimes it’s tough on a young guy like Tim, who’s probably a natural 2 to have to play the 3 all year,’’ Hornacek said. “He took that challenge and did pretty well. Those two guys were able to do it, but it’s not like [GM] Scott [Perry] said [after the Anthony trade], this is our roster, let’s win a championship. It was the understanding, ‘Let’s play who we have with the talent and as years go on, you fill in different spots and go that route.”

The Knicks have experimented with using Frank Ntilikina at shooting guard.

“It creates a bigger jam,’’ Hornacek said. “With Frank able to move to the 2, it creates some problems there but it allows us to play two [point guards] together sometimes.’’

Marc Berman/New York Post

Tags: New York Knicks, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Blake Griffin: Detroit's Ceiling Is Very High

Mar 20, 2018 10:28 PM

Nearly two months after being traded by the Los Angeles Clippers to the Detroit Pistons, Blake Griffin is feeling settled with his new team.

Despite their struggles this season, Griffin believes in the future of the Pistons.

“This summer we will have a chance to really jell, figure stuff out. I think the ceiling of this team is very, very high. We have a lot of different guys who can do a lot of different things who can affect the game in a lot of different ways. Getting Reggie back (Jackson) will be huge,” Griffin said.

Griffin believes his style fits with the history of Detroit basketball.

“I was born in ’89, I wasn’t really watching the true ‘Bad Boy’ era,” Griffin said. “But the [2000s Pistons] was right in my prime of falling in love with the game of basketball and watching everything. I definitely remember all of those teams. But the thing that I really like about Detroit is this city embraces the hardnose, gritty, hardworking teams and hardworking players.

“Not a lot of cities embrace that type of mentality. That is exciting to me.”

Marc J. Spears/The Undefeated

Tags: Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Isaiah Thomas: I'm Not A Sixth Man

Mar 15, 2018 1:29 PM

Despite a disappointing 17-18 season in which he's struggled to fully come back from a hip injury, Isaiah Thomas believes he remains a central playing in the NBA as he approaches free agency.

“I'm not no sixth man,” Thomas declared in an interview with USA TODAY Sports this week. “And I won't be a sixth man (in the future). I just want everybody to know that, like clear as can be. I'm a two-time All-Star and a starter who has done things that a lot of people in this league haven't done (when) given that opportunity.

“But I got traded into a situation I can't control. There's nothing bad against (Lakers coach) Luke Walton. There's nothing bad against the Los Angeles Lakers. I'm taking advantage of the opportunity they've given me, and then (we’ll) end the season off strong. And that's all I can do. I'm not coming in here saying, 'Oh, I want this, or this is going to happen.' No, that's not me. I'm just going to come in here and be a professional, and when my name is called I'm going to be more than ready for any opportunity I'm given.”

Thomas is averaging 18.4 points and 5.8 assists since Feb. 23 while helping the Lakers win eight of their past 11 games.

Sam Amick/USA Today

Tags: Isaiah Thomas, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, NBA Signing Rumor, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA B-Ball IQ

Raptors Pitched DeMar DeRozan On Shooting More Three-Pointers

Mar 13, 2018 10:25 AM

Bobby Webster and the Toronto Raptors three highest ranked coaches were called into the office of Masai Ujiri on December 19th before summoning in DeMar DeRozan.

"I didn't know what the hell was going on," DeRozan recalls. "I thought, 'S---, I know I can't be traded.' It was like I was being called into the principal's office.'"

The Raptors had reinvented their offense but they needed something more from DeRozan.

Ujiri told DeRozan they wanted him to become Toronto's Kobe Bryant as a lifetime player who defines a franchise, but they needed him to shoot more three-pointers.

If DeRozan began to shoot more three-pointers, he would take less contact, create more space and possessions would flow more naturally.

"When everyone has that kind of confidence in you -- that you can carry a franchise -- it gives you that extra confidence," DeRozan said. "For them to say I could be in [Kobe's] position -- it was an honor accepting that fully."

DeRozan has since averaged more almost four three-point attempts per game.

"Is [the new offense] gonna translate into the playoffs?" Casey asks. "We're gonna find out."

The league is respectful, yet skeptical. "We take that disrespect," DeRozan says, "and carry it into games."

Zach Lowe/ESPN

Tags: DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

LeBron James: I'm Playing At My All-Time High

Mar 8, 2018 10:37 AM

LeBron James believes he might be playing the best basketball of his career in his 15th NBA season.

James' combined points, rebounds and assists have gone up every season since returning to the Cavaliers in 2014.

"Probably an all-time high," James said. "Just because of my body, my mind, the way I go out and approach the game. And then, just the grace of God, giving me the ability to do this. I'm blessed, and I never take it for granted."

James is fourth in the league in points per game, second in the league in assists per game, 17th in rebounds and 21st in steals. 

Cassidy Hubbarth, Dave McMenamin/ESPN

Tags: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Knicks View Frank Ntilikina As Better Fit At Shooting Guard

Mar 3, 2018 1:09 PM

The New York Knicks now view Frank Ntilikina as more of a shooting guard and less of a point guard.

Ntilikina isn't quick enough with his dribble at this stage of his development to play point guard, which limits his playmaking abilities. 

Ntilikina does have enough length to allow him to defend shooting guards.

Ntilikina said he’s been watching film of one of the best shooting guards currently in the NBA, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan. 

“I’m learning every day,” Ntilikina said recently. “I want to bring everything to the team. Either on the point-guard position or the 2 position. If coach wanted me to play the 5, I would have to eat, obviously.”

Stefan Bondy/New York Daily News

Tags: Frank Ntilikina, New York Knicks, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Steve Kerr Wanted Ron Adams To Become Warriors' Tex Winter

Feb 28, 2018 11:08 AM

Ron Adams was in his mid-60s when the Warriors hired him away from the Celtics. Steve Kerr wanted Adams to freely speak his mind the way Tex Winter did in the 1990s with Phil Jackson's Bulls.

“I wanted a truth-teller, somebody to tell me, ‘You gotta do this, and you gotta do that,’ completely unfiltered,” Kerr said. “Somebody whose experience and wisdom made everyone stand up and listen. I knew right then that we were talking to the right guy, and I’m just thankful we have him because he’s been instrumental in all that we’ve done.

“Ron Adams, he’s our Tex.”

Adams is known as a curious thinker and reader with strong interests outside of basketball. Adams is eager to talk big ideas such as philosophy, religion, sociology and politics.

Kurt Streeter/New York Times

Tags: Golden State Warriors, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

James Harden: This Is The Year, For Sure

Feb 28, 2018 10:39 AM

James Harden is confident the Houston Rockets will have a special season.

"This is the year. For sure," Harden said when asked about his expectations for the Rockets.

Harden reached The Finals in 2011 with the Thunder but he believes this Rockets team might be superior.

"The front office -- [general manager] Daryl Morey and [CEO] Tad Brown -- those guys did an unbelievable job," Harden said. "From last year, bringing [Eric Gordon] and [Ryan Anderson] over. Then obviously adding [Chris Paul] and [PJ Tucker] and [Luc Mbah a Moute] and then you get [Gerald Green] and Joe Johnson.

"This is probably the best team I've ever been a part of, from top to bottom. The chemistry that we have, included with the coaching staff -- I mean, we're having a lot of fun."

Jovan Buha/ESPN

Tags: James Harden, Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Dirk Nowitzki: Tanking Sets Wrong Tone For Future

Feb 27, 2018 8:27 AM

Dirk Nowitzki disagrees with the strategy laid out by Mark Cuban for the Mavericks to tank the remainder of the season.

"You don't really want a culture here that's just giving up and quitting and not playing hard," Nowitzki said after Monday's win by the Mavericks over the Pacers. "I think it just sets the wrong tone for the future.

"I think it's important for our young guys to learn how to compete and to compete all the time, play hard. You play your minutes hard. That's the only way to get better. That's the only way to play in this league, and whatever happens after the season, we'll just go from there. But for now, you play your minutes hard and you play to win."

The win was the first one by the Mavericks since Cuban received a $600,000 fine for revealing that he told his team that tanking was the best course for the franchise.

"You don't want to have an acceptance of losing," Harrison Barnes told ESPN. "Obviously, the quotes about tanking and all that type of stuff, you can't avoid that. We've been getting asked about that since they were said, but at the end of the day as professionals, as players, you have to go out there and you have to play to win.

"Any time you don't play to win or you're just kind of going through the motions, that can become contagious. That can become a habit, and that can become your culture. 'Oh, it's OK for us to do this. Oh, it's OK for us to not give full effort.' Then next season rolls around, and you can't flip that switch. It's still that malaise that you had from the year before."

Tim MacMahon/ESPN

Tags: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Daryl Morey: Traded Picks Like Cigarettes In Prison

Feb 26, 2018 9:53 AM

Daryl Morey believes draft picks are the easiest way for trades to happen since it's the most effective way of equalizing the values of players.

Teams have become increasingly reluctant to relinquish future first round picks in trades over the past few seasons.

“They’re like cigarettes in prison. That’s the only currency you have,” Morey said Saturday at the “Take That for Data” panel. “The value changes up and down all the time, and it makes for a not-very-liquid market.”

Kevin O'Connor/The Ringer

Tags: Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA Trade Rumor, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA B-Ball IQ