Posts Tagged ‘NBA’

Javaris Crittenton: From budding star to murder suspect

Javaris Crittenton on the night he was drafted by the Lakers. (AJC file photo)

Javaris Crittenton on the night he was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers. (AJC file photo)

We pause to consider the arc of a young life.

• In 2004 Javaris Crittenton — a sophomore and already a team captain — teams with Dwight Howard to lead Southwest Atlanta Christian to the Class A title.

• In 2006 Crittenton graduates from high school — where he’d been a 3.5 student and a member of both the Beta Club and the Future Business Leaders of America — and enrolls at Georgia Tech.

• In 2007 he exits Tech after a good-but-not great freshman season and is taken by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 19th pick of the NBA draft.

• In January 2010 he pleads guilty to a misdemeanor charge resulting from the infamous guns-in-the-locker-room that involved Crittenton and Washington Wizards teammate Gilbert Arenas, who on Christmas Eve engaged in an argument regarding gambling debts. Both players are suspended by the NBA for the rest of the season.

• On Aug. 26, 2011, a warrant is issued for …

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I thought I’d hate LeBron. Turns out I’m feeling sorry for him

Okay, I surrender. LeBron James and Co. have won me over. (AP photo)

Okay, I surrender. I have no idea what it is LeBron James is trying to do. (AP photo)

I thought this would be easy, pulling against LeBron James. Eleven months ago I’d worked up a disdain I figured would carry me through 2011 and probably 2021. But here Miami is, playing for the NBA title, and I have a confession:

I’m actually starting to feel sorry for LeBron.

He’s the best player in the world. He’s on the sport’s biggest stage. He’s hiding in the corner.

He scored 17 points in Game 3 of the NBA finals, which prompted Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports to dub him an “incredibly shrinking superstar.” Bristling at a Doyel question, James took pains to extol the virtues of all-around excellence,  and in his defense he did feed Chris Bosh for the jumper that won Game 3, and when your team wins you can say whatever you want.

There can, however, be no defending Game 4. James scored eight points, a personal playoff low. He took one fourth-quarter shot. The Heat blew a sizable lead for the …

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Departing Dawg: Is Trey Thompkins bound for NBA glory?

Here's Trey with a deuce. (AP photo)

Here's Trey with a dunked-home deuce. (AP photo)

Trey Thompkins will be in the NBA next season, and we need ask: How good a pro can the former Bulldog be?

Short answer: Pretty darn good.

Quick caveat: Providing he gets in shape.

Only once — in his sophomore season — did we get an extended glimpse of how effective  Howard Thompkins III can be. He was hurt before games began in 2008-2009 and never played his way into form, hurt again in practice this season past and always seemed to be playing catch-up ball, at least conditioning-wise.

His numbers took a slight dip, and he didn’t ace the eyeball test, either. Only occasionally — against Kentucky in Athens on Jan. 8; against Washington in the only NCAA tournament game of his Georgia career — did he appear as dominant as his preseason SEC player of the year led us to expect. He was good, as opposed to great.

He can, however, be a much better professional. He has an NBA body and NBA skills. He’s 6-foot-10, 245 pounds. So’s Al …

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The Hawks’ free agents: Hope for three, settle for two

Mike Woodson is a coach, and every coach wants more and better players. On Monday, as the Hawks welcomed Jamal Crawford to Atlanta, Woodson spoke of the Hawks’ four key free agents and said this was how many he wanted to see back here.

“All of ‘em,” he said.

This is how ambitious Woodson is: He wants to keep the four free agents — Mike Bibby, Flip Murray, Zaza Pachulia and Marvin Williams — plus add “another veteran big, and there are some out there.” But that’s a coach talking, not a general manager. And Rick Sund might have a more pragmatic take.

Me, I can’t see any way the Hawks keep all four. Nor should they. With Crawford and Jeff Teague in a mix that already included Joe Johnson, there wouldn’t be enough minutes for both Bibby and Flip. And if Bibby returns to start, then Crawford becomes Flip and Flip becomes Acie Law, who barely played, and Teague becomes Thomas Gardner, of whom some of you haven’t even heard.

A reasonable scenario is for the Hawks to keep three of the …

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And it’s a flying start to this pivotal Hawks’ offseason

I’d have preferred Eric Maynor, but I’m not going to gripe. The Hawks took the guy they liked at the position of greatest short- and long-term need, and at this point I’m disposed to give Rick Sund and his chief aide Dave Pendergraft the benefit of every doubt.

The Hawks greeted the week not knowing if they’d have anyone to handle the ball next season. They’re covered now. If Mike Bibby and/or Flip Murray signs somewhere else, they’ll be OK. If Bibby stays, they’ll be better than OK. Heck, if they handle Marvin Williams properly, they just might catch and pass Boston as the third-best team in the NBA East.

Jamal Crawford was an inspired acquisition, one of those there-has-to-be-a-catch coups: A guy who scored almost 20 points a game last season for two guys who barely played. And Jeff Teague was only the slightest of reaches with the draft’s 19th pick.

Maynor, who went one spot later, is older and more refined and a truer point guard, but Teague is the greater talent. He …

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A modest proposal: Flip free agency and the NBA draft

Rick Sund makes a good living, OK? (And he’s doing a nice job, OK?) But Rick Sund is an NBA general manager, and NBA general managers have it tough, logistically speaking. They have to draft players to fit a team that might not be their team at all.

The Hawks have the 19th and 49th picks in Thursday’s draft. In a perfect world, the GM would target positions of need. But the Hawks also have four key players who will become free agents July 1. One’s a backup center. One’s a starting small forward. One’s a starting point guard. One’s a backup combo guard. How can you fill so many potential holes with two picks? How can you know which potential holes will become actual holes?

Even with Jamal Crawford apparently on board, if Mike Bibby (starting PG) oe Flip Murray (backup combo) decide to sign elsewhere, the Hawks will need another guard. But, as Sund said Monday, “Let’s say Zaza [Pachulia] doesn’t re-sign with us and Al Horford gets hurt next year. In hindsight, I’ll be wishing I …

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The Hot Button: Why the Hawks still must pluck a PG

It became clear the moment Mike Bibby arrived from Sacramento: This is how it’s done. You find a point guard and put the ball in his hands and live happily ever after. And that’s why, in a draft deep in nothing except point guards, the Hawks should take one with the 19th pick tonight.

Let’s assume the Jamal Crawford trade is consummated, and let’s even assume the Hawks re-sign Bibby: Even then, there’d always be a need for a distributor, and no team knows it better than the one that passed on Chris Paul and Deron Williams in 2004. It took the Hawks until February 2008 to find a real point guard, and once they did they were never the same.

With Bibby on the floor, they were transformed. They were creative. They were properly positioned. They were, for lack of a better word, good. They took the Celtics to Game 7 that spring, and they were even better in 2008-2009, winning 47 games and a Round 1 series. They know now what they should have known all along: Unless you have a …

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The Shaq deal: He’ll make the Cavaliers worse, not better

At the risk of offending the Mayor of Cleveland yet again … I don’t share the Cavs’ enthusiasm for Shaquille O’Neal. At this stage in his career he’s more comedian than competitor. He’s 37. He can barely move. He can’t shoot free throws. He’s not the Shaq of 1995 or even 2002. He’s just a guy bouncing from team to team, looking for one last ring.

Yes, he’s a better low-post threat than Zydrunas Ilgauskas. (Spud Webb was a better low-post threat than Big Z, who’s a jump-shooting center.) But he’ll also clog the lane in a way deleterious to the game of one LeBron James, who’s the franchise in that charming Ohio city.

The Cavaliers won 66 games because, by putting shooters around him, they spread the floor for LeBron. Shaq will coagulate things. Shaq down low means more standing around and less drive time for LBJ. Shaq down low means Cleveland must pay lip service to the concept of low-post basketball even when Shaq isn’t capable of ruling the low post anymore.

He’s not what we …

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A big idea: Hawks should take Augusta’s Siler in Round 2

I stand before you a weary man. I’m tired of hearing that Al Horford isn’t a center (because he is) and that the Hawks won’t amount to anything until they find a center. But being my dogged self, I wasn’t willing to sit idly by as the conversation raged on the ol’ blog. I actually went out — at the prodding of reader JSS, who put a bug in my tin ear — and found the Hawks a center.

Actually, Rick Sund and his crew beat me to it. They had Garret Siler of Augusta (Ga.) State in for a workout last week. But I’m not just giving him a look. I’m saying: Take him in Round 2! Make him the draft’s 49th pick! And then hire Tree Rollins, who helped groom Shaquille O’Neal in Orlando, as a special assistant and let him spend two years tutoring the big man.

Garret Siler is, as we say in the trade, a great story. He attended a fine arts school — he was a singer and played in the band — until moving to Richmond Academy as a senior. That’s where Dip Metress, the coach of Augusta State, saw him, …

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Hawks fans, don’t expect the moon and stars at No. 19

The 19th player taken in the 2008 NBA draft was J.J. Hickson. If you’ve heard of him, it’s doubtless because he played at Wheeler High in Marietta and spent a season at North Carolina State. It isn’t because he did much of anything as a professional rookie.

Hickson was the 11th man on the Cleveland Cavaliers, who won more regular-season games than any other. Come the playoffs, Hickson got to sit and cheer as LeBron James and the other nine guys did their work. This isn’t to derogate Hickson, who’s 20 and who could yet develop into a fine pro. This is to offer a sobering glimpse of NBA reality.

The Hawks hold the 19th pick in Round 1, and if they find someone capable of offering immediate assistance that late they’ll consider themselves outrageously fortunate. The 19th player drafted in 2007 was Javaris Crittenton of Georgia Tech, who’s already on his third NBA team and who has started a total of 10 games. The 19th player taken in 2006 was the legendary Quincy Douby, who hasn’t …

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