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- MPG Projections: The Atlantic (Rotoworld) September 16, 2014Aaron Bruski lays down MPG predictions for the Atlantic Division, where the Sixers may or may not be holding local tryouts for their second unit.
- Two African-American NBA general managers come to Danny Ferry's defense (Ball Don't Lie) September 12, 2014The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s release of Danny Ferry’s actual recorded words confirms what Adrian Wojnarowski already reported on Wednesday : Ferry was more than certainly the brains behind the needless and insulting comments about then-free agent forward Luol Deng, and the entire Atlanta Hawks franchise is in flux as a result. When I navel-gazed regarding Ferry’s future with the Hawks and the league he’s called home since returning stateside in 1990, I mentioned the absence of leadership as the most damning reason why Ferry should not continue with the team. To relay those thoughts and perceptions, be they his or the words of some witless scout, was so far off base that it still defies belief. It defies belief no matter how many times we’ve had to re-read or eventually hear the words that I won’t waste your time in relaying once again. What are worth relaying are the words of two of Ferry’s contemporaries in the general manager market. Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri and Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King have both known and have worked with Danny Ferry for years, and both spoke out on Thursday in regards to the thought process that leads to scouting reports like these, Ferry’s character as a person and professional, and his future. The Nigeria-born Ujiri, in an expertly-penned op-ed piece for The Globe and Mail , gets the first nod: R. C. Buford is the GM of the San Antonio Spurs. He was one of the first NBA executives to come to our Basketball Without Borders camps a decade ago. That same year, he adopted a young man from Cameroon. Wayne Embry is an adviser for our team. Forty years ago, he was the first African-American GM of an NBA team. Both of these men, whom I trust so much, are close to Danny. They have nothing but great things to say about him. The league is a small world. Other people I’ve spoken to who know Danny well say that he has never done anything they’ve seen to suggest he holds racist views. I spoke to Danny myself about this. He started off by apologizing to Luol. He apologized to me and apologized for any insult he’d offered to African people in general. He explained the incident as best he could to me. There are some things about that conversation I would like to keep between the two of us, but I came away feeling like I’d understood what he had to say. Here is what I have to say: I have no idea what is happening in the Atlanta Hawks organization, but I do know how the scouting world works. We all have different ways of sharing information about players and different vocabularies to do so. It crossed a line here. That said, we are all human. We are all vulnerable. We all make mistakes. You discover a person’s true character in their ability to learn from and then move on from those mistakes. One of the truly important things we must learn is how to forgive. Via Grantland’s Zach Lowe , here are King’s statements: King on Ferry: “I have known him since we were 15 years old. He is like a brother to me and he is the furthest thing from a racist.” — Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) September 12, 2014 The issue here is that nobody I know has called Danny Ferry a racist. I’m sure he’s been referred to as much in message boards I don’t frequent and comment sections I don’t peruse, but even with that highly-dubious Bonzi Wells incident from 2002 still lingering , I cannot recall any NBA voice of substance referring to Ferry in such strict terms. We do know that he’s prejudiced, because to impugn an entire continent as sneaky and backhanded by definition of its name alone shows a shocking lack of knowledge and character. We do know that he failed as a leader, because no voice of the basketball end of the Hawks franchise should be either relaying or (more likely) thinking and then expressing these thoughts as a way of describing a potential employee. I cannot recall who, but someone on Twitter recently wondered aloud as to what a scouting report in someone like Ferry’s hands would say for someone like Michael Beasley. Luol Deng is widely respected and the recipient of the NBA’s Citizenship Award, and Beasley is a career-wasting flameout that is looking to join his fourth NBA team in two calendar years right now, with little luck so far and with training camp just weeks away. The issue with that (appropriate) query is that good leaders don’t need to reduce themselves to even nastier language to describe someone like Beasley, who didn’t even bother to show some sort of care and concern for his game last season even while being gifted the opportunity to spell LeBron James and play deep into June with the Miami Heat. The same goes for Deng, even if he does have some batch of mitigating factors Atlanta Hawk owners should worry about. Mitigating factors we’re unaware of. (Though if it is true that Deng sometimes acts as an anonymous source for the press while denying as much, can you blame him? This is the guy that watched as the Chicago Bulls publicly scolded for not playing on a broken leg, before having to get an outside opinion that confirmed that, yeah, Luol Deng has a broken leg. This is a guy whose Chicago front office stood by silently while their coach – who knew exactly what was wrong with Luol Deng at the time – referred to his career-threatening botched spinal tap as “flu-like symptoms.” This is the guy that had to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, before the franchise got its head out of its tails and dumped the Chris Grant/Mike Brown regime.) Danny Ferry should have found some way to discuss Luol Deng’s merits and demerits and the sometimes beneficial overlap of the two in ways far better than the ones we read about on Wednesday , and heard on Thursday . Whether or not this misstep is a fireable offense in a vacuum is up for debate. This didn’t happen in a vacuum, though, and there are feelings to consider and a franchise’s future to think about. Donald Sterling wasn’t pushed out of the NBA because he’s a racist – the league has known about his line of thinking and discriminatory practices for decades. He was pushed out of the NBA because he was bad for business. The Hawks may have just signed Elton Brand, a solid pickup that shares a university affiliation with Ferry, but that doesn’t mean Ferry won’t be bad for their particular brand of business – be it recruiting players, fans, or potential owners – in many ways moving forward. Ujiri and King were right to talk about forgiveness, and after the initial shock and anger wore off, I think most of us have already forgiven Danny Ferry for what appear to be his own dumb thoughts and expressions. What matters now is the cold, hard world of creating a winning team and (more importantly) securing profits. In that regard, Ferry’s future is out of forgiveness’s hands. - - - - - - - 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
- Team USA plays to its strengths, steamrolls over Lithuania to advance to the FIBA championship game (Ball Don't Lie) September 11, 2014The pattern works, apparently, so why give up on it? Team USA has turned this into a routine. The squad doesn’t exactly start off each game of the FIBA World Cup by playing poorly, but it usually needs the entirety of the first half in order to hash out the strengths of its opponent, before turning the jets on in the third quarter. This was ridiculously apparent on Thursday, when Team USA outscored Lithuania by a 33-14 mark, in a 10-minute quarter no less, to take a massive lead and eventually win 96-68. The semifinal victory allows Team USA the chance to play for the gold medal in Sunday’s championship game, taking on the winner of Friday’s Serbia/France pairing in the other semifinal matchup. All the hallmarks for coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team were in place. Lithuania never had a comfortable lead of any kind, but it did manage to stay at arm’s length for the bulk of the first half, entering the halftime break with just an eight-point deficit in a game Team USA was favored to win by 3 1/2 times as much. Team USA paired poor decision-making on offense with high-school-level mistakes on defense – and that isn’t even getting into the work of James Harden, as there wasn’t a member of the rotation who couldn’t be spotted screwing up on that end in the first half. Harden, though ... let’s just say that James Harden gave us several of the James Harden-esque plays on defense that he’s sadly become known for: Harden’s excuse in this instance was that he was already playing with two first-half fouls in an international setup that fouls you out with five infractions. Stephen Curry was also playing with two ticky-tack fouls at the same time, though, and one possession after this one he moved over to take an expertly placed charge call defensively. The international referees didn’t correctly call the charge, it should be noted, so Team USA was left with its sieve on the floor as social media cackled away. Each of the missteps, eventually, allowed for redemption on the other end. Klay Thompson’s defensive indifference ushered Lithuanian forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas in for an easy putback dunk at one point, and an obviously bothered Thompson made up for it by calling for the ball on the other end and scoring to keep the opponent’s momentum at bay. Harden was eye-rollingly awful defensively in the second half as well, without the foul-trouble excuse, but he responded with 16 second-half points as Team USA pulled away. Curry and Kyrie Irving had their difficulties on the defensive end, and Kenneth Faried's and Anthony Davis’ heads were often turned, but all more than made up for it with movement and quick finishes in the win. The only one to end his night without any singular act of come-uppance was Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, who is continuing a worrying World Cup trend of missing shots around the basket and pull-up 3-pointers. Rose missed seven of his eight looks in the win, and turned the ball over three times in 15 minutes. As the game wore on, Team USA’s typical insistence on causing turnovers in order to take pressure off its sometimes-shaky half-court offense failed to materialize to the degree that it has in other wins, but the group still managed to force 20 of the miscues. Lithuania shot 30 percent from the floor and looked defeated midway through the third quarter, the likely response to giving its physical all in the first half, only to watch as Team USA kept the game in hand. Part of that physical work came from Lithuania’s best player, Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas, who nearly instigated a fight with Team USA center DeMarcus Cousins at one point. Valanciunas could no doubt sense Cousins’ frustrations at being scored on in the post on one possession defensively, with the referees missing a call on the other end as DeMarcus was hacked upon going up for a shot. Jonas responded by giving two elbows to Cousins’ forehead and neck in the ensuing free throw rebound scrum, and Cousins responded with this: Probably not the best decorum for an international tournament, but considering Valanciunas’ moves it was completely understandable in basketball terms. In the end, the passing and movement and collective play took over for Team USA. Kyrie Irving led the squad in scoring with 18 points, making six 3-pointers while taking advantage of the shortened 3-point line. Thompson realized that while he might not be a slashing athlete in comparison to his NBA cohorts, he certainly has the one-up in athleticism at this international level, and he utilized his all-around skills offensively. Rudy Gay overcame a smack to the mouth on a drive to corral a team-high seven rebounds in a little more than 13 minutes. It’s never going to be easy with this crew, despite the blowout wins, because this is a team that was created one month ago, playing under different rules and working to overcome the “no-you-shoot-I-insist” instincts that can sometimes dog All-Star-type rosters like these. Team USA just needs to keep it going for one more game in order to win that gold. It would be nice, though, if the group would start to pretend that it’s the third quarter in the second quarter of the championship game. Or, perhaps, start pretending as much in the first quarter? - - - - - - - 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
- Warriors sign guard Leandro Barbosa (The Associated Press) September 10, 2014OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The Golden State Warriors have signed guard Leandro Barbosa.
- Chauncey Billups retires: 'It's just time' (Yahoo Sports) September 10, 2014After 17 NBA seasons, former Finals MVP Chauncey Billups is ending his playing career.
- Nets Injury Update: Deron Williams begins 5 on 5 scrimmages September 18, 2014The Brooklyn Nets approach training camp coming off a successful 2013-2014 season in which they won 44 games and upset the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The Nets were in the top half of the league in points allowed but struggled offensively, ranked 21st in scoring and 29th in assists. Guard Deron Williams can improve upon those numbers, if healthy, but he played in only 64 games this season and is coming off ankle surgery. The good news is that Williams started 5 on 5 scrimmages and is on track for training camp and the start of the 2014-2015 season.Keith Allison via Wikimedia CommonsIt's been a long recovery for Williams, who had ankle surgery at the end of May. He was expected to be on crutches for four to six weeks before starting a rehabilitation. Williams was out of his walking boot at the end of July and was set to begin basketball activities in August, with a full recovery expected by September.An update on Williams, accord...
- Does Stiemsma, Hamilton Or Cherry Make The Raptors? September 17, 2014Toronto is bringing three players into training camp for a look to see if they can fill a role as the 15th player on the Raptors roster: center Greg Stiemsma, forward Jordan Hamilton and guard Will Cherry. Each player brings something different to the table. Stiemsma is a potential replacement for Aaron Gray, Hamilton brings the shooting James Johnson is missing and Toronto could use another guard like Cherry.
- Ric Bucher predicts Cavs will finish fourth in the East September 17, 2014It’s prediction season for the NBA. The offseason is largely decided, so now everyone’s slotting teams. So do the Cleveland Cavaliers take the top spot in the East? Long-time New York Times scribe Howard Beck gives them 57 wins. Ric Bucher, however, says that despite having three of the top 20 players in the league, they’ll finish fourth behind the Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors. I guess it’s better than last year. The Bulls appear to be the smart money non-Cavs team at the top of most Eastern Conference previews. There’s no doubt that Washington and Toronto improved from two seasons ago to last. That said, I’m glad they play the games. The post Ric Bucher predicts Cavs will finish fourth in the East appeared first on Waiting For Next Year.
- Toronto Raptors Roster Has The Depth For Success In 2014-15 September 16, 2014Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has built on last season's depth over the summer by retaining Kyle Lowry, Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson and adding Lou Williams and James Johnson. Ujiri has given Head Coach Dwane Casey a roster full of versatile players that can play multiple positions and some veteran backups who proved they could stay ready to play and contribute even if they weren’t part of the regular rotation.
- What We Learned About Raptors Jonas Valanciunas This Summer September 16, 2014By almost every measure, the Toronto Raptors Jonas Valanciunas shone at the FIBA World Cup in Spain. Despite Lithuania losing their starting point guard Mantas Kalnietis just before the start of the tournament, the team made it to the medal round before eventually losing to the USA and France. Valanciunas was a tournament best 69.6 percent shooting from the field, almost 6 full percentage points better than Kenneth Faried in second and averaged 14.4 points (17th) and 8.4 rebounds (6th) over 9 games.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hobbled With Ankle Injury, Williams Carries Nets to Game 7 May 3, 2014Deron Williams fought through pain to finish with 23 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, helping the Nets avoid elimination with a 97-83 win against the Raptors.