Gaithersburg Md.- Sports International Group announced today that NBA Draft candidate Alex Len has undergone successful surgery to stabilize a partial stress fracture in his left ankle. The surgery was performed by renowned Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“This was a preventative measure to stabilize a partial stress fracture of the ankle,” said Dr. Anderson. “Although it is possible that this injury could have healed on its own, surgery was felt to be the safest and surest option to ensuring a long and successful NBA career for Alex. His prognosis is excellent, and I
anticipate he’ll make a full return to basketball within the next few months.”
Len opted for surgery after several opinions from orthopedic specialists. “I decided that surgery was the best long term option for my career,” said Len. “I didn’t want to risk it not healing properly. I want to make sure I’m fully healthy and ready for training camp.”
The surgery will keep Len out of action 4-6 months and will force him to miss all on-court activities leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft.
“The tough part about Alex’s injury is the timing,” said Len’s agent Michael Lelchitski. “Everyone who knows Alex knows that he would have been incredible in the pre-draft workout setting. However, Alex is one of the elite prospects with arguably the biggest upside of anyone in the draft. The most important thing is his long-term health.”
Len, who is a likely lottery pick, was diagnosed with the partial stress fracture after he had declared for the NBA Draft.
“I want to start off saying this: it has been two wonderful years here. I am thankful for everything. Thank you to the coaching staff, the administration and academic staff to help me succeed at the University of Maryland.
“I have decided to take the next step and enter my name into the NBA Draft. My family and I have been thinking about this for some time now. With Coach Turgeon we came to the decision, and we think this is going to be a great decision for me, and my career. I am very blessed and thankful to have had the opportunity to be a Terp. I want to thank the Maryland Basketball family for welcoming me with open arms and for helping me become the person I am today.
“I want to thank Coach Turgeon. When I got here he asked me what my goals were. I told him that I wanted to be an NBA player. I want to thank him and the entire coaching staff for putting me in the position to accomplish that goal. I also want to thank my teammates. They were always there for me on and off the court. We shared some great moments together and I will always have these memories for the rest of my life.
“I want to thank the best fans that any team has. They always came out to support us no matter the score or even the weather. They always stood up behind us 100 percent and I hope they will continue to stand behind me in the next phase of my basketball career. I will always be a Terp.”
On how he came about this decision:
“After the season I talked to my family and met with Coach Turgeon to talk about it. We have been thinking about it and we came to the conclusion that the right time was now.”
On where he has to improve:
“The last two years I came here I learned a lot and really improved. All you can do is work hard. I am excited for this next step. All I want to do is work hard and learn as much as I can.”
On telling his teammates he was declaring and how they reacted:
“The guys were really excited for me and they told me it was the right decision. They were just excited.”
On favorite NBA teams:
“I watch a lot of NBA, but I don’t have any preferences. I have favorite players but I’m going to play for any team that chooses me. I want to go somewhere I can contribute and I can improve myself.”
On if he considered coming back:
“During the season I didn’t think about it at all. I was just focused on the season. After the season I made the decision together with my family and coach Turgeon and we just decided it was the best decision.”
On if he’s looking forward to the NBA game:
“I’m excited. It’s going to be a huge step. The post in the NBA is a different game and I’m ready for that. I’m just ready to work hard.”
Head Coach Mark Turgeon
“I want to thank everyone for coming out. I know this has been a lingering story. You can’t keep secrets, especially good secrets very easily. It is an exciting day for all of us, our program, for Alex. It just seems like yesterday that he walked into our office; it was August of our first year here. This big seven-foot skinny kid walks in. He knows very little English, and less than two years later he is going to put his name in the draft and most likely be a lottery pick. I think top ten pick before it is all said and done.
“Quick little story, his mom came in when he committed and he gave me this little turtle for Maryland. She said I am giving Alex to you as a baby, when he leaves here I want him to be a man. He has grown up a lot. In two years I have never seen a kid learn a language, learn the game, the European game is a lot different than ours, and just the way he has progressed. I don’t think I have ever been around a player who has progressed as much as Alex has as quickly as he has. The reason the NBA is so intrigued and I know he is going to be a great pro is that he is only 19. I can’t imagine where he is going to be when he is 23.”
On Alex’s contributions to the team:
“I think we finished third or fourth in the country in field-goal percentage defense, and it was for one reason. It was this guy right here. The Iowa game, we would have lost by 20 if he wasn’t out there altering shots and blocking shots. His shot-blocking late in the season — really it was at the Virginia game. I was always talking about being a presence at the rim. ‘Protect the rim, Alex.’ I’d hit him on his chest so he had to look down at me — I didn’t hit him hard — but he’d look down at me and I’d just say protect the rim. He’s an unbelievable shot blocker and that’s what I asked him to do. He’s special. I talked to a couple NBA guys yesterday that had really high picks and I told them don’t mess up. I think he can be the No. 1 pick. They’re talking about the other guy being No. 1, and you guys saw the same game I saw when we played them earlier in the year. This kid’s going to be special.”
On the sense of pride he has:
“Alex and I teared up a little bit in our office when he said he was leaving because I was like, “Wow, it happened so quick.” That’s why I came to Maryland. To coach guys like Alex. He wasn’t the first kid to commit to us, but he was the first player to commit to us that played for us – if that makes sense. For him to be a lottery pick a year later says a lot about him, says a lot about how lucky we were to get him and also our program and our staff. A guy who hasn’t been mentioned is Kyle Tarp, the strength and conditioning coach. He did a great job. He put 30 pounds on this guy in one summer and so it’s just really good for our program. Hopefully I’m here for a long time. I’m going to have an NBA wall and he’s going to be the first one and hopefully this becomes an annual event for us where we have someone going to the NBA draft in the first round.”
As soon as Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported the news, I knew what the response was going to be.
“He’s not ready.”
“See you in the D-League.”
“Maybe he should have asked Jordan Williams for some advice.”
What Wojnarowski reported is what we all expected was coming since the Maryland Terrapins lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes in the NIT semifinals two weeks ago. Center Alex Len will forgo his final two years of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft. Wojnarowski noted Len will hold a press conference later in the week in College Park to make the news official.
In fairness, the news has been “official” roughly since the Terrapins tipped off against Kentucky at the Barclays Center this past November. On that night, Len went off for 23 points and 12 rebounds while working to hold Wildcats freshman phenom Nerlens Noel to just four points.
That Nerlens Noel is still expected by many to be the #1 pick in the NBA Draft despite the fact that there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to return from a torn ACL in time to start the 2013-2014 season.
If you shut down a guy that is thought to be the #1 pick despite a torn ACL, you’re probably going to be in pretty damn good shape to end up a top pick yourself. But if Alex Len’s uneven play for most of the 2012-2013 season left anyone questioning where his stock sat, he addressed that swiftly just after Valentine’s Day.
On February 16, Len went toe-to-toe with another expected NBA Lottery pick. In his showdown with Duke’s Mason Plumlee, the Terps’ big man scored 19 points and pulled down nine rebounds while limiting the Blue Devils’ first team All-ACC center to just four points and three rebounds.
Fans who rushed the floor after Maryland’s win that night at Comcast Center might as well have asked the Ukranian big man if they could borrow money from him this summer. A scout in attendance that night told me that while he wasn’t completely sold on Len’s game, he knew the soon-to-be former Terp wouldn’t be falling out of the Top 10 in the Draft.
I never sensed that Maryland fans were particularly hopeful that Len would decide to pass on money in favor of another year’s worth of seasoning, so I was understanding of why the reaction wasn’t particularly disappointing Sunday night.
I also understand many of the responses about Len’s “readiness” to make the jump to the NBA. I saw the same player who lacked the physical toughness to use his over seven foot frame to go right at defenders on many occasions. I saw the same guy that appeared a little too willing to settle for jump shots in post-up situations. I saw the same guy that looked like he might have the talent to be an All-American but who instead seemed to forget when games were scheduled to tip-off in ACC play.
I question Alex Len’s “readiness” about as much as the rest of you, but I understand why scouts believe he’s capable of still making improvements at the next level.
Inexplicably, Maryland’s win over Duke provided a bit of a blueprint for what scouts see in Len as a pro. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is as stubborn as he is successful, choosing to keep Plumlee (and a couple others) matched up one on one with Len instead of doubling him. At the next level, Len will be more likely to see similar styles of defense, especially considering the longer three point line and greater amount of available space on the floor for offensive players to use.
Combine that with the fact that Len proved himself to be a strong defender and capable rebounder and it’s much more easy to understand why NBA types believe Len’s collegiate production might not be indicative of what he has to offer at the pro level.
Moreover, I’m a bit troubled by how dismissive Maryland fans have been about Len’s departure. Len’s 12 points and eight rebound averages don’t seem particularly significant until you remember Maryland averaged just over 60 points per game as a team during ACC regular season play. For all of Len’s struggles, he equated to about a fifth of their overall offense and did much more defensively.
Maryland also loses Senior big man James Padgett this offseason, meaning they will return with sophomores-to-be Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare up front to combine with incoming Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz and incoming freshman Damonte Dodd. The inexperienced group will be expected to carry the load, but more importantly wings Dez Wells and Nick Faust will be needed to carry the offensive load with more consistency.
The loss of Alex Len may by no means be damning to the Terps’ chances of reaching their first NCAA Tournament since 2010, but dismissing the significance is can only be an attempt to justify the acceptance in a fan’s own mind. Maryland is not only not even remotely better without Alex Len, they are most certainly a worse team today than they were when they fell to the Hawkeyes at Madison Square Garden.
So fare the well, Alex Len. I’ll always be thankful for this.
Etherly Named Alternate For Portsmouth Invitational
BALTIMORE – Just two weeks after concluding his collegiate career at Loyola University Maryland, forward Erik Etherly has been selected as an alternate at the 2013 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.
Known as The “PIT”, the event is the only postseason camp that is open to college seniors only. It is used by NBA and European scouts as a proving ground for future professional players.
As an alternate, Etherly will attend The PIT but is not yet guaranteed a spot on a team.
Etherly was a two-time All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference First Team member, earning the honors in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 as Loyola won a combined 47 games and advanced to the postseason in consecutive season for the first time in the program’s Division I history.
This season, Etherly averaged 15.7 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game in 30 contests, helping the Greyhounds to a 23-12 record and berth in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
He earned National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District I Second Team honors for the second year in a row, the first Loyola player to do so.
Etherly earned his bachelor of arts degree in communications in December 2012 and then scored his 1,000th career point weeks later in a January game at Fairfield. Over the final seven games of the regular-season, he had five games with 22 or more points, including three in a row with 23-plus.
The native of Alexandria, Va., finished his three years at Loyola – he transferred to the Baltimore school in 2009 after playing his freshman season at Northeastern University – with 1,245 points, 669 rebounds, 140 assists, 121 steals and 114 blocked shots.
Loyola won 62 games in the three years he was on the court, and Etherly leaves the school as the No. 20 scorer in program history. He also finished 10th in both rebounds and steals and fourth in blocked shots.
This 2013 PIT will take place April 10-13 at Churchland High School in Portsmouth, Va.
NBA Draft Day 2012 is upon us. Talented, yet inexperienced players lead the list of those who will likely be taken in the top half of tonight’s draft. Who will the Washington Wizards select with the 3rd pick? Let’s break down their roster and the players available at #3 to find out who fits best.
The Washington Wizards are dead set on surrounding PG JohnWall with more perimeter talent.Having acquired Nene in the JaVale McGee trade and Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza for the expiring contract of Rashard Lewis — Washington has a veteran, defensive minded front line that will hopefully create more opportunities for John Wall & Co. Who that company may be is the better question. Second year guard Jordan Crawford showed flashes, but needs to find more consistency with his 3pt. shot and show greater defensive tenacity if he wants to be the full time starer. Aside from Wall and Crawford, there are no major perimeter scoring threats on this Wizards roster. Expect this to be addressed in Round 1.
What about the rest of the roster? They have NBA quality starters in Nene and Okafor with solid depth in second year PF Chris Singleton and the surprising Kevin Seraphin – who finally showed flashes of developing at the end of 2011. Ariza brings veteran experience and defensive leadership to the small forward position, giving second year forward Jan Vesely time to develop at his own pace (remember it took Dirk Nowitzki three years before he established himself as a consistent player). I’m not even going to talk about SF/PW Andray Blatche, the main clubhouse cancer and holdover from the old regime. The sooner Blatche is amnestied the better. The Wizards lack playmakers and should focus on drafting a player who can not only put theball in the net from the outside, but can create off the dribble and play solid defense. If it sounds like its asking a lot, it is.
Assuming that Kentucky PF Anthony Davis is the #1 pick in tonight’s draft, here are the top prospects expected to be available for the Wizards at #3.
Michael Kidd-Gilcrist, SF, Kentucky: Smooth, athletic wing player does everything to help his team win. Can get to the basket, plays solid on-ball defense and is a leader on the court. Would combine with Wall to make one of the more athletic fast break combo’s in the league, however lacks the 3pt. shot to spread the floor. Top tier prospect
Bradley Beal, SG, Florida: Long, athletic shooting guard would help Wall spread the floor. Some compare his shot to Ray Allen’s – though I’m not going to put him there just yet. Has the ability to create his own shot and is long enough to defend the biggest of 2-guards. A bit raw but has an extremely high ceiling. Top prospect
Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina: Barnes averaged over 17ppg for the Tar Heels this pasty ear while improving his 3pt. shot and play making ability. Highly touted out of high school, some have wondered why Barnes didn’t dominate at UNC. My guess – he’s more of a team player than coaches give him credit, letting his All-American teammates at UNC get their shots as well. Less high of a ceiling than Kidd-Gilcrest or Beal, Barnes has a more polished game and is NBA ready. Top prospect.
Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas: Extremely athletic big man, Robinson is NBA ready now. He scores in the post, rebounds, and plays high quality defense. There’s no reason Robinson won’t be an All-Star within in three years. Top prospect.
Wildcard: Austin Rivers, SG, Duke: The son of NBA coach Doc Rivers, Austin has the moxy to be a superstar in the NBA. Early comparison are to Kobe Bryant , though I don’t believe he posses Kobe type athleticism. Needs to work on his defense and strength, but with the right coach and system, should thrive in today’s NBA.
Who should the Wizards take?
Harrison Barnes. He gives John Wall an instant #1 option on the wing, has the ability to play shooting guard if necessary and gives Jordan Crawford one more year to develop.
Who will the Wizards take?
Beal. He’s got more upside than Barnes and could develop into one of the most athletic two guards in the league.
Hard to argue with either pick, but if I were GM, Barnes would be my choice. But that’s what is great about the NBA Draft, you just don’t know.
This article was written by Ryan Kerr, contestant in the ‘So you want to be a sports journalist competition’.
On the eve of NBA Draft night, the Washington Wizards sit in a position where they can add another young piece to their rebuild. It’s a process that started in February of 2010 when the Wizards shipped out all-stars Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison while Gilbert Arenas sat at home serving his season long suspension. Then John Wall, Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker came to the Wizards by way of the 2010 draft. Shortly thereafter, Arenas was moved to Orlando early in the 2010-2011 season for some guy pretending to be Rashard Lewis and the Wizards acquired Jordan Crawford from the Hawks for Kirk Hinrich. The Wizards also seemed to be the winners of last year’s draft where they added “The Dunking Ninja” Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack.
The pieces were all in place this past season, but the Wizards failed to live up to our moderate expectations. Sitting at the 10-32 mark on March 15, Ernie Grunfeld decided it was time to ship off notorious knuckleheads JaVale McGee and Nick Young for proven big man Nene. The Wizards were forced to let go of two young athletes with lots of potential to add some stability and experience.
We were treated to some impressive efforts from Kevin Seraphin and James Singleton, but left disappointed by another Trevor Booker injury and too many Brian Cook three-pointers. Such are the ups and downs of being a Wizards fan. The season ended on a six game winning streak leaving the Wizards a mere 26 games behind the first place Heat. I’m not sure what was reasonable to expect from a young team coming into a lockout-shortened season without the benefit of a normal off-season or pre-season. I’d say 20 wins sounds about right.
The Wizards managed to snag a little bit of press in the post-season when Grunfeld orchestrated a deal with the New Orleans Hornets, proud owners of the number one pick in tomorrow’s draft, that sent the grossly overpaid Rashard Lewis and a second round pick (one of two the Wizards had in the second round) for the moderately overpaid Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. All that brings us to where we are now, June 27, the night before the NBA Draft.
The Wizards added the front-court depth they needed with Nene and Okafor. They are looking at a starting line-up right now of Nene and Okafor in the paint, John Wall and Jordan Crawford at the guard spots and Ariza holding down the wing. Depending on the way tomorrow night goes, Crawford could be out of a starting job at the beginning of next year. Shelvin Mack will be backing up Wall again. Trevor Booker and Seraphin will be the front-court back-ups and Chris Singleton will be the back-up small forward.
The Wizards haven’t made the sexy move that the casual fan is looking for, but they’ve added some quality players to their draft picks and have gotten rid of any semblance of the Gilbert Arenas “big three” era, with one big exception. That elephant standing in the room is indeed number seven for your Washington Wizards, ANDRAY BLATCHE!! After signing an extension in 2010, Blatche turned in a decent 2010-2011 campaign. He then showed up for the 2011-2012 season in terrible shape and played in just 26 games before being shut-down for conditioning issues in March. Surprisingly, the Wizards were unable to find anyone interested in trading for Blatche. He will likely be the Wizards’ first victim of the new NBA amnesty clause. No matter how they do it, the Wizards need to get rid of Blatche.
John Wall didn’t make the progress fans expected in his second year, but he showed us more of that incredible speed and athleticism we’ve come to love while reminding us that he has a bit of work to do before he is a legitimate perimeter threat. He should be the only untouchable player on this roster.
Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin made the greatest strides this year. They both showed fans that they could score in a variety of ways and that they belong in the rotation. Jan Vesely will have to steal some minutes from Booker and could be an important player if Booker gets bit by the injury bug again. Vesely did a lot of the little things this year and, as cliche as it sounds, those things didn’t show up in the stat sheet. Okafor and Nene should be solid as starters and they eliminate the need to add more big men to the roster. Chris Singleton was slightly disappointing in his rookie season. He wasn’t able to score and often looked lost on defense which was supposed to be his specialty. The arrival of Ariza clears up the confusion about who is going to start on the wing next season. Singleton is cut from the mold of Trevor Ariza, primarily a defensive player with some ability to slash to the basket and finish at the rim. Ariza is most well known for making some big steals for the Lakers in the 2009 NBA Playoffs. Wizards fans will hope for meaningful moments like that from Ariza this year as they look to make a push to get back in the post-season.
The big question for the Wizards is “Who will do the scoring next year?” Nene has the ability to score in the paint, but the Wizards need a legitimate perimeter threat. Jordan Crawford showed flashes of being that guy last season. He also put together a historically bad stat line. A lot of the pressure was on Crawford to take shots while he was on the floor because guys like Wall, Singleton, Vesely and Mack were passing on open looks. Ariza and Singleton aren’t reliable shooters and whether or not D-league call-up Cartier Martin will return to the team is unclear.
The answer for the Wizards could be found with the number three pick in the draft tomorrow night. Shooting guard Bradley Beal seems to be the most viable solution to the Wizards’ shooting woes. While comparisons to Ray Allen may be a bit premature, Beal has solid mechanics and would certainly benefit from work-outs with NBA trainers. Beal would fit in great with the young athletic players in D.C. and could replace Jordan Crawford as the starting shooting guard.
It’s been a long, painful process, but the Wizards are finally back in a position where they can contend for the 6-8 seed in the Eastern Conference. With the benefit of a full off-season, expect great improvements from Shelvin Mack, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton, as well as a better relationship between John Wall and his running mates. When Wizards fans tune into the draft tomorrow night, they will hopefully be watching the team make a lottery pick for the last time before the rebuilding process inevitably begins again eight years from now. With the addition of any of the prospects in this year’s class, the Wizards will be getting another high character player with great work ethic to add to the quality players and quality people they already have.
While last year’s results looked a lot like the results from the past few losing seasons, any one who watched the games can tell you that effort was not the issue last year, as it has been in the past. New coach Randy Wittman had everyone working harder and playing to the last minute of every game. With the right pick in tomorrow’s draft, and a lot of hard work and practice, the 2012-2013 Washington Wizards may look a lot different than the product we’ve seen the last few years. Ted Leonsis and his team may finally be able to start some “New Traditions” in the District after all.
Brandon Roy was drafted with the 6th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by Minnesota and immediately traded to the Portland Trailblazers for the draft rights to Randy Foye. The pick was highly criticized at the time. Many believed that Roy’s lack of athleticism would make it difficult for him to perform at an elite level in the NBA. Many believed that Roy’s four year college career had maxed out his skills and that there was not a lot of room to grow as a player. Some were concerned that he was not even the best player on his team in college. Roy attended the University of Washington and played alongside Nate Robinson.
Brandon Roy entered the NBA and immediately began proving critics wrong with a monster rookie year. He average 17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game. His performance would earn him rookie of the year honors. Roy followed up his rookie season with three consecutive appearances in all star games. In 2009 Roy made the NBA all second team and in 2010 he was voted to the NBA all third team. Roy had surgery on his right knee in April of 2010 and came back only eight days after surgery and led the Trailblazers to victory. In January of 2011 Roy had arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees. Roy came back later in the season, but played a limited role off the bench. Roy announced his retirement at the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. Roy’s knees had degenerated so much that he lacked the cartilage between the bones in both of his knees.
Roy proved all of his critics wrong, but his NBA career was short lived. As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friends”. Brandon Roy recently announced that he is attempting to make a comeback. It is being reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Golden State Warriors, the Chicago Bulls, the Dallas Mavericks and the Indiana Pacers are all interested in signing Brandon Roy. While it is being reported that five teams are seeking the services of Brandon Roy and his scoring ability, that still leaves 25 teams that lack interest. That means that 80% of the NBA doesn’t believe in Brandon Roy. The critics are back and so is Brandon Roy, trying to prove them all wrong.
The first time around I believed in Brandon Roy and I rooted for him. This time, I think its a big mistake for him to make a comeback, but I will still be rooting for him. A lot of time we see former NFL players who can barely walk at the end of their careers, but its very rare to see NBA players with the same problems. I respect Brandon Roy for believing in himself and attempting to do something that everyone says he can’t do, but it seems illogical. If he does make a comeback, I believe he would be the most successful as a sixth man off of the bench who plays 20 minutes a game. If he thinks that he is going to comeback and play 35 minutes a night against guys like Kevin Durant and LeBron James then I think hes crazy. Tomorrow night is the NBA Draft, six years ago around this time Roy was drafted. Its six years later and Roy finds himself trying to answer the critics again, but this time the questions are different.
The NBA Draft is Thursday night, but the Houston Rockets have already begun making moves for the big night. Currently, the Rockets have the 14th, 16th and 18th picks in the draft. They acquired the 18th pick today from the Minnesota Timberwolves for Chase Budinger and the rights to Lior Eliyahu. It is also rumored that the Rockets are seeking to trade their point guard Kyle Lowery, their 14th pick in the draft and their 16th pick in the draft to Sacramento for Tyreke Evans and their 5th overall pick in the draft.
The Rockets have been very busy and remain aggressive in their pursuit of an NBA superstar. The Rockets were part of the trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers and Pau Gasol to Houston at the beginning of last season that was later rejected by the NBA. Many believe that these moves are being made to collect enough assets to acquire Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic. Dwight Howard is currently under contract through the 2012-2013 season. Howard has said on numerous occasions that he would like to stay in Orlando, but many believe that he would like to be traded to a bigger market such as New York or Los Angeles.
I respect Houston for being aggressive in going after an NBA superstar, but they should be realistic here. If they trade for Dwight Howard they will be doing a sign and trade with either the Lakers or the Nets a season from now. There are also reports out there that the Rockets are still interested in acquiring Pau Gasol from the Lakers and potentially acquiring Josh Smith from the Atlanta Hawks. The Houston Rockets finished last season 34-32 and finished one spot out of the playoffs. They have spent the last few years stocking up on players and draft picks that could be used as trade bait. They are ready to take the next step in their search for their first NBA title since 1995 when they had Hakeem Olajuwon. Their current head coach is former Celtic great, Kevin McHale. He was a dominant big man in his day and could potentially do wonders for Dwight Howard’s career. Olajuwon still lives in Houston and worked with Dwight Howard one on one during last off season.
The potential blockbuster trade makes sense, but only if Dwight Howard plans on staying in Houston for the next 5 or so years. I expect Howard to eventually end up in Brooklyn with Jay Z and Deron Williams. I imagine that the Rockets will end up settling for Josh Smith from the Atlanta Hawks and teeter around the 8th seed of the playoffs for years to come. In the end, only time will tell and we will just have to wait and see what plays out between now and Thursday night.
With the NBA draft on Thursday night, Wizards fans are all but reminded of the incompetency of the organization; Kwame Brown over Pau Gasol and Tyson Chandler, Jared Jeffries and Juan Dixon over Tayshaun Prince and Carlos Boozer, Oleskiy Pecherov (who???) over Rajon Rondo, just to name a few.
The most recent blunder could be more damaging than all of those past failures, combined. Since Ted Leonsis took over, the goal has been to build with youth. The team actually made the smart basketball decision taking John Wall with the top pick two years ago (even if it was the logical move), but since then it has been back to ineptitude. Picking Jan Vesely last year over Kawhi Leonard can at least be considered explainable (at best), but the moves since have completely destructed the only asset the Wizards possess worth a damn (outside of Wall of course) in their financial flexibility.
Removing the knuckleheads from the locker room made all too much sense; they were actually more detrimental to their stud point guard’s progress. But the way the front office went about the process has completely shattered their cap consciousness. Not to the mention, they basically received nothing for Nick Young and gave up a high second round pick in one of the deepest drafts in the past decade. Adding the hefty contracts of Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza all but ensures the team will not be players in free agency for the foreseeable future.
In the upcoming seasons, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Eric Gordon, Dwight Howard, Al Jefferson and Josh Smith are most likely to test the free agent market; the Wizards will not be players for any of them. Instead the team is stuck with large, unmovable contracts for two injury prone undersized (and under performing), aging centers with similar skill sets and a small forward with a lack of a perimeter game.
Everyone now believes the Wizards have all but ensured picking Bradley Beal Thursday night, the sharp shooter from Florida, but with this franchise’s draft history, anything can happen. Unless they hit a home run with the third pick (and with their track record the chances are slim), the Wizards will again muddle in mediocrity until John Wall leaves and the rebuild starts all over again.