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- The 10-man rotation, starring the case *for* Kobe Bryant (or, at least, that it's not all his fault) (Ball Don't Lie) October 21, 2014A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : Silver Screen and Roll . After reading Henry Abbott's ESPN the Magazine piece arguing that Kobe Bryant is the reason for the Los Angeles Lakers' downfall, Drew Garrison presents the counterargument, suggesting that the reasons for the franchise's precipitous recent decline are numerous, varied and not all contained within the Mamba's jaw-jut. A worthwhile hearing for the defense. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Sign up and join a league today! ] PF : SLAM . Ryan Jones on why LeBron James is the NBA's best player, why ( ownership of the Podoloff aside) there's no real debate on the matter, and how the shifting of James' circumstances as he rejoins a significantly more loaded Cleveland Cavaliers could wind up changing that soon enough. SF : Sports on Earth . Howard Megdal on how — all the internecine drama , back-room dealings and franchise-jumping aside — we've still got quite a bit to learn about exactly what kind of NBA head coach Jason Kidd's going to be. SG : ChicagoNow . Yes, Derrick Rose looked great on Monday, but the Chicago Bulls' loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers showed a few persistent and perhaps worrisome questions for Tom Thibodeau's club, according to Doug Thonus. PG : National Post . Eric Koreen floats an idea that Our Fearless Leader has championed in the past : shorten the preseason and make the regular season longer, not in games played, but in dates covered. 6th : A Wolf Among Wolves . William Bohl sees the Minnesota Timberwolves running more sets for midrange jumpers under once-and-future head coach Flip Saunders, and he wonders whether that approach will prove beneficial for a young Wolves roster without very many knockdown shooters. ( Kelly's not real bullish on it , for what it's worth.) 7th : Raptors Republic . Smart stuff from Blake Murphy on the interesting dilemma facing the Toronto Raptors and surprise 2014 first-round draft pick Bruno Caboclo — how does a team setting its sights on the conference finals find the floor time to develop an incredibly raw player when it doesn't have its own exclusive D-League affiliate? 8th : Detroit Bad Boys . Considering what a more efficient Josh Smith might look like, what Stan Van Gundy's done this preseason to try to conjure such a performance, and whether it's more likely that Smith turns in that brand of play for the Detroit Pistons or gets moved before the February trade deadline. 9th : Posting and Toasting . Derek Fisher says Amar'e Stoudemire — he of the wine baths of indeterminate medical benefit — isn't operating under any sort of minute or playing-time restrictions, and the former All-Star big man says he's feeling great. What does this mean for STAT's role on the New York Knicks this year? 10th : Los Angeles Times . Chris Douglas-Roberts is wearing short shorts — or, at least, the shortest shorts he was able to get from the Los Angeles Clippers — in hopes that they "will give him the freedom to be an elite perimeter defender." - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.
- BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Golden State Warriors (Ball Don't Lie) October 21, 2014The Golden State Warriors cannot be criticized for lacking ambition. Mark Jackson led the franchise to the playoffs in two consecutive seasons (out of his three total), a feat that made him their most successful head coach since the first Don Nelson era. His reward was a speedy dismissal. For whatever tensions existed between Jackson and his bosses — and there were many , to the point where a disaster may have loomed — it is fairly apparent that the people in charge of the Warriors expect to challenge for titles, not to lose out on homecourt advantage in the first round and take one playoff series every couple years. Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber want one of the league's preeminent franchises. The question isn't only if they have the roster to get them there, but whether they have hired the right man for the job. Former Phoenix Suns general manager, TNT commentator, and golfing buddy Steve Kerr has no coaching experience of any kind, just like Jackson when he was hired in 2011. Yet there's no guarantee that the Warriors will get lucky twice, even if Kerr has a sterling reputation and has said all the right things so far. The Warriors have taken a gamble, again, and Kerr may not connect with his players as well as Jackson did in his three seasons with the club. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Sign up and join a league today! ] However, Kerr and his staff (which includes Alvin Gentry, his coach in Phoenix) can improve the team in other ways. It will take some work to match last season's third-ranked defense (by points allowed per possession), but there is a clear opportunity to best a No. 12 offense that belied Golden State's reputation as an especially potent group. While Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson strengthened their status as the best outside-shooting duo in the NBA, the offense as a whole often became stagnant and went away from its strengths, especially when eschewing the pick-and-roll. With versatile players like Andre Iguodala, David Lee, Draymond Green, and Andrew Bogut in the lineup, there's no glaring reason why Golden State can't become a better offensive team. Failure to do so would be the clearest sign that Kerr did not have a particularly impressive first season in Oakland. Then again, it's not entirely clear how Kerr and the franchise will define success. Is it enough for him to set the team on a course toward achieving the results that Jackson didn't, or will he need to exceed them now? It's not necessarily prudent to set such rigid standards before the team even plays a regular-season game. Nevertheless, controversial coaching changes require fairly exacting analysis. The outcome of such gambles reflect upon the franchise well beyond win-loss record. 2013-14 season in 140 characters or less: A coach pit himself and his team against the world, winning a few battles and losing the war. Did the summer help at all? The answer to this question depends largely on your belief in Kerr and his abilities relative to those of Jackson. As previously noted, those opinions will vary and can't be discussed with any certainty for at least a few months. If we stick to the roster, then the Warriors should be a little better. For one thing, they lost only Jermaine O'Neal, a quality reserve big man who missed several months and may be of limited use at 36 years old. They added Shaun Livingston as a much-needed backup point guard who can defend bigger guards when teamed with Curry; Brandon Rush, who performed well with Golden State as a reserve wing in 2011-12; and Leandro Barbosa, unlikely to match his years in Phoenix but still a speedy guard with explosive tendencies. Plus, reserve center Festus Ezeli returns after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Go-to offseason acquisition: Livingston is still iffy for opening night , but when he's in the lineup he will give the Warriors options that they lacked last season. Though not the world's most adept floor leader, Livingston can contribute in many areas (8.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.2 steals in 26 minutes per game for the Brooklyn Nets in 2013-14) while freeing up other members of the team to excel. The Warriors lacked playmakers other than Curry and Iguodala, and they figure to be heavily dependent on those two for the same qualities this year. But Livingston provides some cover for a team that can use the help.
- Grizzlies' Vince Carter skies to send back ex-teammate Dirk Nowitzki's dunk attempt at rim (Video) (Ball Don't Lie) October 21, 2014When Vince Carter joined the Dallas Mavericks before the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, many NBA observers believed the veteran swingman to be nearing the end of the line. He was 34 years old, coming off two decent but not star-caliber stints as a member of the supporting cast on Dwight Howard's Orlando Magic and Steve Nash's Phoenix Suns, and looking like he'd clearly lost a step from his explosive superstar days with the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets. During this three years in Texas, though, Carter somewhat surprisingly transformed into one of the league's premier sixth men, a versatile role player at home on a veteran-heavy team who could author a dramatic moment or two. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Sign up and join a league today! ] The Mavericks, in a sense, saved his career . On Monday night, in his first meeting with the Mavs after signing a three-year, $12.3 million contract to join the Memphis Grizzlies, the 37-year-old Carter had a funny way of saying thank you: It feels weird enough to see Dirk Nowitzki get his shot blocked — with that 7-foot frame and high release, just 2.6 percent of his field-goal attempts have been sent back over the last five years, including only 1.5 percent ( 19 blocked attempts in 1,237 total tries ) last season. Seeing it twice on one play, though? Including a snuffing at the rim by a guy a year older and six inches shorter who's not supposed to be able to get up like that anymore? Well, that's something you don't see every day, to put it mildly. Carter might not have appeared "too interested in the proceedings" as his 17th preseason nears its end — he played just under eight minutes, scoring three points and snagging two rebounds as the Grizzlies fell to the Mavs, 108-103 — but he did take a brief trip down memory lane before the contest to appreciate his time in Big D, according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News : “I’m just glad I was a part of it,” he said. “Cuban believed in me when a lot of people felt like I was done or couldn’t play anymore. I just got better and better. A lot of guys think at that age, how can you get better. But I think got better. “I just fit with this team. And I think it worked. Coach (Rick Carlisle) made it work and I was glad to be a part of it. It was fun last year.” For one moment, at least, Monday wasn't quite so fun for his big German ex-teammate, though: Dirk on Vince Carter's block of his dunk attempt: "I told him it was a flagrant 2." — Earl K. Sneed (@EarlKSneed) October 21, 2014 Let's take a greybeard-appropriate slow-motion second look at the at-the-summit stuff, courtesy of friend of BDL Max Frishberg, a.k.a. @MaxaMillion711 : Well, something about it sure seemed flagrant, at least. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.
- BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Utah Jazz (Ball Don't Lie) October 20, 2014
- LeBron James laments his failed recruitment efforts in his previous run in Cleveland (Ball Don't Lie) October 18, 2014The summer of 2005 was LeBron James’ first big chance at calling the shots, and better yet it was the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first big chance at building a winner around their budding star. James had toiled for two individually impressive years on a lacking roster featuring Paul Silas and then Brendan Malone as head coaches, one that lost double-double machine Carlos Boozer to free agency in 2004. Young prospects like DaJuan Wagner and Darius Miles were working their way out of the league, as LeBron missed the playoffs in his first two campaigns. New ownership allowed for a new general manager – Danny Ferry, heading over from the champion San Antonio Spurs – a new coach, and plenty of cap space to work with. Prominent free agents that summer included restricted guys like Joe Johnson and Tyson Chandler, and unrestricted free agents Ray Allen, Larry Hughes, and Michael Redd. And LeBron James wanted to play with some combination of them, alongside a re-signed Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Things didn’t exactly work out as hoped, despite LeBron’s efforts. From Dave McMenamin at ESPN , via Pro Basketball Talk : "I recruited [before] I left here, but I just didn't win nothing so nobody wanted to play with me," James said, pointing out that previously, the lone marquee free agent to come to Cleveland based on his influence was Larry Hughes in 2005. "I recruited. I recruited Michael Redd, I recruited Joe Johnson, I recruited Chris Bosh. I recruited a lot of guys. I just didn't win, and they didn't want to come to Cleveland. So, I guess me winning two championships, it helped out a lot." Bosh was a free agent in 2006, the same year LeBron signed his curiously-sized three-year deal (including a player option for a fourth year) with the Cavaliers. Bosh also signed to the same terms that same summer. Hmm. Joe Johnson, you’ll recall, took advantage of a weird Atlanta Hawks obsession with him, negotiating a sign-and-trade deal for a maximum contract (more than the Cavs could have offered him without the same sign-and-trade machinations), netting the Phoenix Suns draft picks that turned into Rajon Rondo and Robin Lopez. The Suns would have never matched Atlanta’s offer sheet for Johnson, the Hawks were played, and the Cavs were a victim of Atlanta’s excitability. Redd, on the other hand, would re-sign with a Milwaukee Bucks team that looked to be on the rise – taking in top overall pick Andrew Bogut a month earlier and welcoming back the injured T.J. Ford to the mix. Redd could make more money with the Bucks, who would make the playoffs the next season. Cleveland “settled” on Hughes and Donyell Marshall, and while this may feel like a bummer of a summer in retrospect, these new Cavaliers absolutely seemed like the right idea at the time. Hughes, in 2004-05, played like a mini-LeBron. He could handle, penetrate, find the open man and play sticky defense. He genuinely seemed like the perfect, almost Dwyane Wade-ish, all-around counterpart for James to grow alongside. Nothing in his past suggested that he would fall off as precipitously as he did. The same goes for Marshall, who was already 32 but boasting a game that figured to age well. The stretch power forward was ahead of his time, camping out in the corner with the lowly Toronto Raptors the year before and shooting 41 percent from long range. Absolutely nobody could (or, frankly, should) have predicted that that number would drop to 32 percent the next season. Their salaries, Ilguaskas’ re-signing, and James’ 2006 extension would prevent the Cavs from adding any significant talent around the budding MVP candidate. The Cavs could only hope to send them off for other disappointments making around the same salary, and that’s exactly what they did in 2008 – dealing Hughes and Marshall for, in essence, Ben Wallace and Wally Szczerbiak. The Cavaliers would go on to make a second round playoff appearance following the signings in 2006 and the NBA Finals (with perhaps the worst Finals supporting cast in league history around James) the next season, so it wasn’t as if the payoff was a sad one, but things could have been better. And, while we’re kicking people while they’re down, one has to wonder what role former Cavalier coach Mike Brown (hired by Ferry in the summer of 2005) may have had in Hughes and Marshall’s unexpected offensive decline. Actually, things could have been worse. Prior to signing Ferry late in June, it was rumored that the Cavaliers were after Larry Brown as both coach and director of player personnel. Brown would instead go on to leave an NBA Finalist in Detroit to become New York Knicks head coach, and his attempted coup at winning Isiah Thomas’ gig as personnel boss eventually failed. Brown’s ascension to the throne in Cleveland would have been disastrous, and James’ career (though he’s yet to win a ring in Ohio) would have been worse off for it. Danny Ferry is much-maligned as a GM for various reasons , but during his first crack at running a team, hiring a coach, and working with cap space he seemed to make all the obvious and correct moves. He hired a Gregg Popovich disciple, re-signed a beloved All-Star center, brought in a shooter that could also rebound, and signed an all-around swingman that could fill in all the gaps. None of these moves worked out, but we shouldn’t let hindsight cloud what were applauded as A+ moves back then. As for LeBron’s recruitment? Faced with either playing with the game’s eventual best player, or making as much money as they could, free agents chose the latter. It’s hard to fault them for that. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
- Raptors have expectations of repeat division title October 21, 2014TORONTO (AP) During training camp last season, Raptors coach Dwane Casey was occasionally asked whether his team should try to tank for a high draft pick, with Toronto-born forward Andrew Wiggins a tantalizing prospect to many Canadian fans. Things sure have changed. This year, Casey is setting expectations of a repeat title in the Atlantic, and answering questions about whether the Raptors can make a run in the playoffs. ''Our goal is to win the division, whatever it takes,'' Casey said. ''My job is to make sure we get back and get up and running again and get that chip back on our shoulder from last year.'' Toronto was a surprise division champion last season, starting slow before trading Rudy Gay to Sacramento. That tank might well have happened, too, if a deal to move point guard Kyle Lowry hadn't fallen through. Instead, Lowry set career highs in points, assists and 3-pointers as the Raptors posted a franchise-record 48 wins and won the seco...
- Raptors Amir Johnson Has Bruno Caboclo’s Back October 21, 2014There are not many players being drafted as 18-year-olds any more, but the Toronto Raptors Amir Johnson remembers his experience of nine years ago when he played his entire rookie season that young and he’ll have Bruno Caboclo’s back as the Raptors newest very young rookie finds his way in the NBA.
- Pro Bball Report Week in Review 10/19/14 October 19, 2014On Pro Bball Report last week: Jonas Valanciunas – Fear the Beard, Raptors rookie initiations, Kevin Durant injured, Kyle Lowry’s All-Star bid, Knicks hoarding ex-Raptors, Very Happy Bruno Caboclo, Lucas Nogueira feeling better, James Johnson’s role, Raptors rotation, Ross and Valanciunas lead and more.
- Toronto Raptors Interested in Taj Gibson? October 19, 2014With Pau Gasol consuming the starting power forward position for the Chicago Bulls, teams are going to start inquiring about the availability of Taj Gibson. The first of them could be the Toronto Raptors. The Rumors There have been multiple rumors circulating around the interweb the past few days about the Toronto Raptors looking to strike a deal with the Bulls that involves Taj Gibson. “The Toronto Raptors are said to be looking for an upgrade at power forward and one very good player, Taj Gibson of the Chicago Bulls, could be available” – Fansided NBA Trade RUMORS: Taj Gibson A Possibility For Toronto Raptors? http://t.co/vmLRHg8ec9 — Raptors Fans (@WatchRaptorsHub) October 18, 2014 Taj Gibson Could Be Trade Target For Toronto Raptors http://t.co/VBCVpEk33b — Taj Gibson News (@TajGibsonNews) October 15, 2014 What to Take From This While teams may be casting out a reel to see if anything tugs, Taj Gibson isn’t going anywhere, especially within the same conference to a team looking to compete
- Raptors Injury Update: Greivis Vasquez didn't play because he felt a 'little wozzy' October 18, 2014The Toronto Raptors improved to 5-1 on the preseason following a 109-90 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday. Terrence Ross lead an offense that had six players in double figures with 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the floor. The Raptors were without point guard Greivis Vasquez, shown below while with the Hornets, who was hit in the head with a ball during the shoot around.Keith Allison via Wikimedia CommonsThe official Twitter account of the Toronto Raptors confirmed the status of Vasquez prior to last night's game. . RT @RaptorsMR: Greivis Vasquez to sit out tonight vs. OKC for precautionary reasons. Was struck in the head by a ball at shootaround. #rtz— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 18, 2014 Rotoworld.com also noted that Vasquez. who is averaging 7.8 points in five preseason games, felt a little woozy, which could indicate a concussion. There is no word as of yet on his condition and if he'll miss any additional games. Vasquez, in his fifth NBA seas...
- Back at the Garden, a Different Knicks Team Is in Search of Chemistry October 14, 2014The Knicks lost an exhibition game to the Raptors, but Coach Derek Fisher said wins and losses were not the focus of the preseason.
- Lowry Will Be Back With the Raptors July 3, 2014Point guard Kyle Lowry will re-sign with the Toronto Raptors, his agent confirmed.
- Nets Move On With a Swat at the Buzzer May 5, 2014Bounced from the first round a year ago, the Nets earned a measure of redemption as Joe Johnson scored 26 points and Paul Pierce blocked Toronto’s final shot.
- Nets’ Fate May Rest With Backcourt May 4, 2014Game 7 of the Nets-Raptors series could be decided on how well each backcourt plays and how much life is left in the legs of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
- Game 7s Abound in the First Round of N.B.A. Playoffs May 4, 2014That so many series have gone the distance reflects the compelling and competitive nature of the matchups in the first round.