Sam Smith’s NBA news and notes | 02.03.2014
-- It’s tough to be named executive of the year after you’ve been fired. But Bryan Colangelo needs to be a candidate. Actually, Colangelo, the former Toronto Raptors general manager, wasn’t fired. He was reassigned, which is like being a consultant you never talk to. Colangelo quietly left. But his team remains. Colangelo drafted DeMar DeRozan and gave him a much second guessed $9.5 million extension that is now a bargain for the All-Star reserve. Colangelo also drafted Terrence Ross when the team won one more game and lost out on the chance to get the point guard they were chasing, Damian Lillard. Ross, who’s also become a top defender, just had a 51-point game and is emerging as a top young athletic player. Missing out on the point guard, Colangelo took a chance on point guard Kyle Lowry for Gary Forbes. Many felt Lowry should have been an All-Star as well. Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and Antonio Davis are the only All-Stars in franchise history. Colangelo drafted developing big man Jonas Valanciunas and his move of Carlos Delfino for Amir Johnson is paying dividends. The Rudy Gay deal didn’t work so great, but the new group moved him on in what was supposed to be a run to the lottery and Canadian Andrew Wiggins until Bryan’s kids moved into playoff position and now are favorites to win the Atlantic Division. And Colangelo’s coach, Dwane Casey, who was supposed to be let go after this lottery season, now looks in line for a nice extension. Colangelo has remained in Toronto for family reasons, but it’s not so cold anymore when he watches his players ... Is there anyone who had dropped farther than Deron Williams? An All-Star as recently as two years ago, Williams has had recurring ankle problems. But he continues to play and you don’t hear his name anymore even in the top 15 of league point guards. Which was perhaps emphasized in that last second loss to the Raptors last week when point guard coach Jason Kidd ran the same play inbounds twice, so the Raptors apparently were ready. And Williams threw the worst possible pass in those circumstances, both toward his basket and high arcing and cross court easy to be intercepted. So much for two point guards doing the thinking ... It’s not clear what exactly it meant, but the 76ers’ interior scoreboard/jumbotron was advertising Evan Turner apparel and novelties at the team store 25 percent off during a game last week. Trade anyone?
-- Carmelo Anthony’s 62 points was noted as a Madison Square Garden record. But it was also called Madison Square Garden when it was about a mile uptown and Wilt Chamberlain had 73 points there and Elgin Baylor 71. Anthony’s mark is now consider the record post-ESPN ... All the Cavs need now is Latrell Sprewell. It was an amazing weekend of revelations that are poison to an organization, that Kyrie Irving is such a diva he’s oblivious to teammates, Dion Waiters is an island to himself, Mike Brown is a lamppost and players are out late without much care about games. It’s likely not quite that bad. But the LeBron James acquisition plan may not be going as well as hoped. The Cavs immediate future should come into focus this summer if Irving declines to sign an extension. Owner Dan Gilbert has said he’s not being caught up again in allowing a player to hold the franchise hostage and leave as James did. Gilbert said he’d trade instead. Irving could thus become the biggest name on the market this summer. One big factor for Irving, though, is his ability if he makes two All-Star games in his first four seasons to qualify for the Derrick Rose Rule and 30 percent of the team’s cap in an extension instead of 25 percent. Byron Scott was 16-30 in his last 46 games and fired. Brown started out this season 16-30. He’s said to be safe ... No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett did have a 15 and eight game amidst all this last week to get his season average up to 2.8. He’s the first No. 1 overall pick since Kwame Brown not to be invited to the rookie/sophomore game. And you don’t want to be in that sentence ... There’s been some question about the Pacers bringing in Andrew Bynum and team chemistry given the apparently cool reception the news received among some Pacers’ players. But it’s really the perfect fit. Bynum doesn’t much like to play basketball. And with Roy Hibbert and Ian Mahinmi he won’t play much. He’ll be just foul out insurance for both and perhaps help win one playoff game. Which could be all the difference. Larry Bird’s having a terrific season ... Forget this Lance Stephenson All-Star nonsense. The only real snub was Al Jefferson, who in January averaged 23.9 points and 11.3 rebounds on 54 percent shooting and leading the Bobcats to wins over the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Raptors and Nuggets with a starting lineup with Josh McRoberts, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ramon Sessions and Gerald Henderson. And Jannero Pargo and Chris Douglas-Roberts off the bench. Heck, put him in the MVP conversation. Also, consider that the Jazz with some nice young talent and Jefferson and Paul Millsap, who is an All-Star, couldn’t make the playoffs last season. What was going on there?
-- After starting against the Bulls Wednesday, Othyus Jeffers was released by the Spurs, who picked him up after releasing Malcolm Thomas. They then picked up Shannon Brown, who started and was zero for two Saturday ... Whatever the reaction is to David Stern anywhere, they cheer him in New Orleans where he twice saved the team. In 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, owner George Shinn tried to relocate team to Oklahoma City. Stern stopped that and when Shinn wanted to sell it to a group to move to San Jose, Stern had the league buy the team until it could find a local buyer. Now, in Seattle, they aren’t as happy with him. But they also didn’t want to go along with civic help for a new arena like they did in Sacramento ... Nate Robinson had a player option for next season at about $2 million he was uncertain about as he wasn’t sure about a commitment in Denver. He may change his thinking now that he’s out a year after ACL surgery. The Nuggets are without because of injury and exile Robinson, Ty Lawson, JaVale McGee, Danilo Gallinari and Andre Miller, a starting five that probably would make the playoffs ... The best win of the season may have been the Suns last week in the fourth road game in five nights winning in Indiana even after they’d beaten the Pacers by 24 previously. Goran Dragic dominated with 21 first half points and 28 overall. Yes, he’s an All-Star snub, though there’s really no one to take off the Western team other than Kobe Bryant. But Anthony Davis also is not only deserving but the game is in New Orleans. The NBA does know marketing. The Suns are last in the league in assists, which would hurt Dragic’s case. Though he is excellent beating his man, which is a key part of the Suns offense ... The Jazz retired a 1223 jersey for Jerry Sloan (No. 4 in Chicago) for his wins as Jazz coach. Describing Sloan, former Jazz coach Frank Layden, whom Sloan replaced, famously once said: "Nobody fights with Jerry because you know the price would be too high. You might come out the winner; at his age, you might even lick him. But you’d lose an eye, an arm, your testicles in the process; everything would be gone. He’s a throwback, a blue collar guy, a dirt farmer. I know you’re going to think I’m kidding when I say this, but I saw Jerry Sloan fight at the Alamo, I saw him at Harpers Ferry, I saw him at Pearl Harbor. He’s loyal. He’s a hard worker. He’s a man." Sloan used to talk about what it takes to be a top team, and you see it in teams like the Spurs, Pacers, Bulls and some others whether they are ultimate winners or not. Sloan usually said it something like this: “The streets are filled with talent. Talent will get a coach fired. You have to play with guys who enjoy each other and who will play together. Guys who play defense, who have discipline, and who work hard.”