– Just a day after saying a buyout from the Clips was unlikely, Sam Cassell is packing his well-traveled bags once again. Marc Spears at the Globe has the goods on Sam Cassell’s imminent buyout and move to Boston. It will be the eighth stop of Sam’s NBA career. Cassell will back up ETB favorite Rajon Rondo and provide a scoring punch off the bench. He should also eat into some of Rondo’s minutes as the season wears on, but most importantly he provides a veteran presence at the point and a backup option in case Rondo get injured or into foul trouble in the playoffs. When Rondo missed some time earlier this year we saw just how thin the Celts are at the point, as the offense completely stagnated and they weren’t able to generate any penetration from up top.
Sam Cassell Photo Credit: Icon SMI
The two have nearly opposite skill sets, with Sam I Am a purely offensive player and spot-up shooter with some of the biggest balls in the league. This move isn’t as major as you might think, but I fully expect Cassell to knock down some big, clutch shots in the playoffs. Over the last dozen plus years he’s been one of the best clutch shooters in the league and he’s money from the line (86.1% FTs for his career). In late-game situations the Celtics just got even more scary. When the game comes down to the wire, how do you cover these guys? They have multiple options capable of knocking down big shots and you simply can’t double-team KG, Ray Allen or Paul Pierce anymore. It’s not a done deal yet though, as the Globe’s David Lefort points out, “Cassell has to clear waivers by midnight Eastern on Friday to be eligible to play for another team in the postseason.”
– When I suggested that two-time MVP Steve Nash might be overrated, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. A torrid 48 hours of angry and ecstatic comments ensued in what has to go down as the most fevered and divisive debate in ETB comments history. Over 200 people weighed in with some very well-reasoned arguments on both sides of the issue, along with the usual gaggle of morons. The crux of my argument was that he’s a very poor player on defense, and that’s at least half of the game of basketball. Elite players can’t just be great half the time. I also mentioned that Chris Paul was a better player right now because his game is so well-rounded.
Fast-forward to Wednesday night, when Nash’s Suns visited Paul in The Big Easy. Paul dominated Nash on both ends of the floor, breaking his ankles early and often, dropping dimes on his head and completely shutting Nash down on defense. Real MVP candidate Chris Paul finished with 25 points, 15 assists, 6 boards, 3 steals and just 1 TO while holding Nash to 8 points on 1-of-6 shooting with 13 assists, 0 rebounds and 4 TOs. New Orleans cruised to an easy 120-103 win. That is all.
– In other PG news, Bibby did Sacramento last night. After he was shipped to the ATL I fully expected Mike Bibby to become the playmaker at the point the Hawks have been lacking for years, but it didn’t happen right away. Bibby finally blew up as the distributor we thought he could be though, with 24 points and 12 assists with just 1 TO, albeit against a soft Sac Town defense. Bibby got everybody involved as he, J-Smoove, Josh Childress, Al Horford and Joe Johnson all finished in double figures and Atlanta shot .48.2% FGs as a team. Bibby is now averaging 6.5 assists as a Hawk, and if he can start to gel with these young cats in Atlanta, look for the Hawks to make some noise from here on out and earn themselves a chance to be embarrassed in the first round by Detroit or Boston.
– A heads up to all you bloggers out there, our boys over at Hardwood Paroxysm are planning a very special tribute to one of their least favorite players: Kobe Bean Bryant. I’m planning on hosting a hilarious Friars’ Club Roast. Audience participation is encouraged.
The Lakers have the best bench in the NBA, injury news around the league, the debut of Devin Harris and a tribute to one *very special* young man after the jump…
– We’re finally getting a look at Devin Harris in a Nets jersey tonight, and the early returns are good. Very good. It’s halftime in Jersey, and Harris came off the bench for 16 points, 2 assists, 1 steal and 3 threes without missing a shot in just under 9 minutes of action through two quarters. After the deal we were very critical of Dallas for giving up on the gifted young point guard. At this point in their careers, I just don’t think Jason Kidd is that much better than Harris, and in a year or two Harris will be the better player.
Obviously he’s going to slow down, but Harris has the feel of an NBA star about to break out. He mentioned that he’s going to be looking for him in New Jersey (who on the Nets isn’t?), but he’s also one of the best defensive point guards in the league. With lightning-quick feet, fast and active hands, an improving jumper, a strong transition game and a gift for penetration Harris should be a treat to watch as he logs heavy minutes for the rest of the season. Put him out there with Josh Boone and Sean Williams and New Jersey almost becomes watchable for non-Nets fans again. Kudos, Rodney Thorn.
** UPDATE: The Nets ended the third quarter with 91 points, the most of the season, in a 120-106 win over the lowly Bucks. New Jersey finished with a season-high 120 points. They’ve average 94 per game on the year. Individually, Harris finished with 21 points, 5 assists and 3 threes with just 1 TO and a game-high +17 +/-. Nice debut. Oh, and that forgotten man in the Kidd deal, DeSagana Diop, also finished with a solid 9 points and 6 boards (5 offensive) with 1 blocks and 2 steals. Suddenly the quartet of Diop, Boone, Williams and Stromile Swift looks like a young and pretty decent defensive front. Be excited, Nets fans. Things are looking up.**
– Regardless of how you feel about Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, the Lakers have some players to root for. Andrew Bynum, Trevor Ariza, Jordan Farmar, DJ Mbenga, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf and Derek Fisher all seem like genuinely good guys. Some of those guys also form what could be the best bench in the NBA (in addition to perhaps the best starting lineup in the league). Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times thinks the Lake Show’s second unit is tops:
Be it Sasha Vujacic’s three-point accuracy, Jordan Farmar’s push-the-pace persona or Ronny Turiaf’s liveliness around the basket, the Lakers have received continual contributions from their second unit.
Is it the best in the West? “Well, we’d like to think it was,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.
The second unit employs a different offense than the first five, moving the ball downcourt at a faster tempo and making defenses adjust on the fly from the less-frenetic triangle offense run by the starters.
The Lakers’ starters are thankful. “We know that it’s a big weapon for us,” Kobe Bryant said. “It’s something that we can go to if we want to change the tempo, change the pace of the game.”
The reserves’ latest effort was on display Tuesday against Portland when three starters — Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and Walton — combined for only 10 points, leaving an obvious gap in the scoring. Farmar responded by making four of five three-point attempts and tying his career-high with 21 points. Vujacic had 12 points and continued his torrid three-point pace by making four of eight. Turiaf was nothing short of kinetic, blocking shots and converting two three-point plays.
Said Turiaf: “It’s pretty much plain and simple. Our job is to sustain the lead or try to increase it. We try to do our best.”
– Caron Butler has a torn Labrum in his hip. That sounds like something that could linker for weeks, if not months. Don’t sleep on the versatile Andray Blatche, who has has averaged a stellar 11.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.2 steals on 47.8% FTs in his 14 starts this season. The 22-year-old PF/C may have a penchant for prostitutes, but he’s also shown an affinity for defensive and hustle stats.
– Ever since Scottie Pippen called him a midget incapable of running an offense, things have gone downhill for Kirk Hinrich. In the latest bad break was a second-half benching last night. Hinrich played just over 15 minutes in the first half and less than a minute in the second before he was replaced by newcomer Larry Hughes, never to return. Hughes went on to lead the team to a narrow victory the Pacers with a game-high 29 points.
Chicago coach Jim Boylan said after the game, “‘I said there’s competition out here. Bring your ‘A’ game or come down here and sit next to me. That’s the way that went tonight.” Oh, snap. Hopefully Boylan has no delusions of playing Hughes at the point, we’ve already seen far too much of that this season, but either way it appears Hinrich has worn out his welcome in the Windy City and I expect the Bulls to try to move him this summer in what should be a very busy offseason in Chicago. Hinrich will make $36.5 million over the next four seasons though, so…
– Finally, from Sports In Your Face comes a real YouTube gem. This young man shows the wrong way to break ankles on the basketball court. He gets a Tommy Point for hustle though…