Kendrick Perkins

The Thunder Roll On With Ibaka Extension

The summer months are coming to end. As a direct result the NBA world’s free agency buzz is slowly dying, which leads to many teams having advanced discussions with agents regarding contract extensions. On bigger level our world as a whole is currently facing with the ongoing monsoon season. The Oklahoma City Thunder agreeing upon a reported 4-year, $40+ million dollar extension with Serge Ibaka is the perfect compliment to both.

There’s certainly plenty of room for Harden to fit alongside Westbrook & Durant, but the luxury tax issues may say otherwise…

The Thunder have struck again, successfully locking up Ibaka alongside Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant for the team’s bright road ahead. While it’s safe to say the Thunder organization is in good shape for the next 3 to 4 years, one big issue remains in question: Will they have enough cap flexibility to also re-sign emerging guard James Harden as well?

For now the debate remains to whether or not it can be done, but in the meantime the Thunder have taken another giant step in the right direction. Deciding to extend Ibaka before Harden was a brilliant move and here are 3 reasons why:

1. Reggie Jackson:

One of the bigger, if not the biggest, mystery prospect was Jackson when the athletic, 3-year guard from Boston College entered his name in the 2011 NBA Draft. After suffering a knee injury in pre-draft process Jackson pulled out of his remaining scheduled workouts that left many team evaluators questioning his draft stock value. Having a ton of draft success momentum behind them (having previously drafted Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, and Harden) the Thunder tested their luck again hoping that Jackson would be the steal of the draft when they selected him 24th overall.

Receiving little playing time as a rookie this past season, Jackson only saw the floor in 45 games averaging 11.1 minutes per outing. In this small window of opportunity Jackson failed to impress scoring 3.1 ppg on just 32.1% shooting from the field. However, Jackson raised a ton of eyebrows with his play in the Orlando Summer League this past month. While his shooting percentage hasn’t improved drastically (41.2% FG) Jackson did display many improvements and his athleticism helped find himself on the nightly summer league highlight reels.

If Jackson can continue to show steady improvements and maturity in his game, he can certainly help the Thunder determine the value/priority of giving Harden a big payday. Having already locked up Westbrook long-term it’s not out of the question to consider a backcourt tandem of Jackson/Westbrook that helps the team avoid a luxury tax nightmare.

2. Perry Jones III:

A similar theme arises when examining the Thunder’s latest first round draft selection in Jones III. The Baylor product’s future as an NBA player included many question marks, which undoubtedly made him this year’s biggest mystery in the NBA Draft. Considered to be a potential top five talent, the Thunder considered Jones III a no-brainer when it came time for their 28th overall pick.

Although Jones’s summer league performances weren’t quite the results the Thunder were surely hoping for; the team definitely feels optimistic about his potential. If OKC is able to groom 6’11, 20 year-old power forward they may be willing to trade Kendrick Perkins which would enable them to start either Jones III or veteran Nick Collision at the power forward position and move Ibaka to the center spot. This particular trade scenario would significantly increase the team’s ability to resign Harden. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, but the idea of a starting line-up that possibly could consist of: Westbrook/Harden/Durant/Jones III/Ibaka is pretty scary. Talk about a high octane, up-tempo, run and gun game!

3.  Hollis Thompson:

It’s more than fair to call this one a long shot, but it’ll be interesting to follow the development of Thompson. While the junior Georgetown product went undrafted this past June, Thompson does deserve some consideration as a possible piece to the Thunder’s future. After all, we’re talking about a 6’8, 21 year-old swingman who shot 46.4% from the field, including 43% from downtown as the go-to player on his team in the very tough Big East conference. If there’s one undrafted swingmen that might have a chance to find similar success to that of Portland’s Wesley Matthews, it’s Thompson.

In closing, it’s important to keep in mind that in no way are these points big enough reasons to shrug off trying to resign James Harden. Rather these points just strengthen the fact that losing a key piece like Harden may not be the end of the world for the Thunder’s title chances for years to come. Making the Ibaka extension the first priority was the right call as the Thunder organization continues to roll and the team can hope the lightening can strike big with their young prospects mentioned above.

NBA Finals Game 7 Preview

Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers- 9 ET ABC

Who will get it?

After what can be summed up as a very disappointing year for the NBA Playoffs, the Finals have been far from a let down. Tonight this year’s champion will be decided by one final game in Los Angeles. It’s been a rollercoaster of a series with both team’s having faced their ups and downs.

Game 1: It was Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol who led the Lakers to a victory in the opening game of the series.

Game 2: Ray Allen connected on 8 of 11 three-pointers and Rajon Rondo recorded a triple-double which helped the Celtics head back to Boston with a split series, swinging home court advantage in their favor.

Game 3: Celtics’ Game 2 hero Ray Allen shot 0-13 from the field scoring only 2 points that he earned from his only trip to the charity stripe. Allen’s disappointing performance played a huge role in why the Lakers came away with a big Game 3 win on the road. The loss showed just the league just how important Ray Allen’s contributions are to the Celtics success in big games.

Game 4: Glen Davis and Nate Robinson provided the much needed spark and production off the Celtics bench leading their team to the crucial bounce back win at home. Tying up the series at two games apiece.

Game 5: Kobe Bryant’s 38 points wasn’t enough for the Lakers to earn the victory on the road which would’ve given them a commanding 3-2 series lead heading back home for the remainder of the series.

Game 6: Down but not out, the Lakers recovered back at home when faced with elimination. Unfortunately for the Celtics, they experienced an early buzz-kill losing starting center Kendrick Perkins to a knee injury. The Lakers held control of the lead throughout the entire game.

The Boston bench will need a big night from Big Baby and Nate if they are going to come out on top.

Game 7: With both teams one win away from taking ownership of this year’s Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, you can best be sure it’ll be a battle down to the end. For the fifth time in their twelve NBA Finals meetings the Celtics and the Lakers are faced with a Game 7 matchup. Going into tonight’s matchup the Celtics must overcome all odds. Not only are they on the road for the biggest game of the year but they’ll be without Kendrick Perkins. While Perkins may not be the most prolific scorer, his toughness on both ends and defensive presence will most definitely be missed. It’ll be interesting to see just how Doc Rivers decides to approach the Lakers size down low with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

I’m totally against the idea of starting Glen Davis tonight and instead I’m going with Rasheed Wallace. Sheed has been everything but impressive all season long, but these are the types of games a guy like Rasheed Wallace steps up. He’s a proven veteran whose been faced with similar circumstances before, he’s not afraid of attacking the tasks at hand, and being that he’s at the end of his career he’ll lay it all out on the line for the entire 48 minutes.

It’ll be especially important that Rasheed Wallace and the rest of his Celtics team get out to an early jump. You cannot play from behind inside the Staples Center, instead you must force the Lakers hand to keep up with you. That most likely will be decided as the first quarter nears the four minute mark as we begin to see both coaches turning to their benches. If the Celtics bench can come up big tonight, the Celtics have a chance. If not, I see Kobe Bryant determining the fate of his Lakers team and when it’s for all the marbles, I’ll go with Kobe.

A Celtics win will occur if Rajon Rondo has a fantastic overall night and if the Celtics bench can provide the much needed spark and scoring load.

A Lakers win will occur if Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol play up to their standard. Obviously, the chances of this happening is much more likely than the Celtics bench being able to produce to the level needed to have a chance.

Behind a brilliant performance from Kobe Bryant the Los Angeles Lakers will be crown the 2010 NBA Champions with Kobe Bryant taking home the Finals MVP honor.

Lakers- 107 Celtics- 101

Smile, Kobe. You won the title and are Finals MVP

Lakers vs. Celtics – NBA Finals Game 5

By: James Sargent

Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics – 8 ET ABC

Game 4 was a gritty performance by Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Nate Robinson.  Doc Rivers left the bench in a little longer than he normally does in the fourth quarter against the Laker’s starters and the move was ingenious.  Davis and Robinson were unconscious and could not be stopped, and this was a good kind of unconsciousness for Davis.  If the Celtics want to head to LA with a 3-2 lead, the bench is going to need to step it up again and provide another spark.  This will be a very tough task to ask for because with each new game comes new counter strategies and ways to stop previous occurrences.  The Celtics will definitely need two of the “Big Three” and Rajon Rondo to have a steady game.

Shrek and Donkey could be the reason for another Laker meltdown

As for the Lakers, Kobe was shutdown in the fourth quarter and Andrew Bynum was hit with another knee injury, limiting him to only 12 minutes of play.  Bryant was pestered by many different Celtic defenders who held him to only two field goals in that pivotal fourth quarter.  Kobe said he felt miserable after the game and Phil Jackson said Kobe was very tired.  Could Bryant be going back into the funk he was in at the end of the season?  I don’t think so.  I believe with the two days off, Bryant will be rejuvenated and ready to bring his “A” game like he usually brings.

Pau Gasol will bring his usual intensity to the court and continue to reek havoc on the Celtic’s frontcourt.

Rajon Rondo will record an “almost” triple-double by scoring in double figures and having double digit assits, but he will only reach about 5-7 rebounds.

Now, I asked my dad to get his thoughts on the game, and I am going to stick with what he had to say.  Celtics need a must win since winning two in LA is very unlikely.  Also, Ray Allen is going to hit some three pointers and get back to his shooting ways.

Celtics- 97 Lakers- 94

Orlando Magic @ Boston Celtics- Game 6 Eastern Conference Finals

Orland vs. Boston- 8:30 ET on ESPN

If the Magic win, Orlando and Disney will once again be the happiest place on earth.

Resident NBA nut Ross Geiger has the day off, so I, Patrick McWeeny, am here to drop some knowledge for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics had it all early in the series. Suffocating defense, a revived Kevin Garnett, a rampant Rajon Rondo, and everything else that came with a dominating and command 3-0 lead. The Magic stole one in overtime in Game 4, as Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson remembered that you are supposed to put the ball in the basket, Vince Carter notwithstanding, and most of us were just waiting for the C’s to come back to Orlando and do the deed. However, something funny happened along the way. Orlando got back to playing nearly as well as they were in their first two series, hitting threes, and getting gargantuan performances out of Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, and extremely solid production out of JJ Redick. The Magic rolled in Game 5 behind some shaky officiating and just general bounces in the Magic’s favor. Could the Magic pull one out of the hat? No team has ever come back from down 3-0 to win a series in the NBA, and the Magic cannot win the series tonight, only lose it, but momentum certainly seems to be on Orlando’s side. Do you go with momentum or experience? The hot hand, or the team that has been better most of these playoffs (The Celtics, despite the Magics two sweeps)?

Personally, I go with experience over the hot hand. All that has to happen for the hot hand to go dead cold are some bad bounces or an unfriendly rim. Experience is there forever, and as long as the players can still execute, it is invaluable. The only thing that can interrupt experience would be injuries, so I will obviously pick the Cel… wait… this just in, the Celtics sustained 50 injuries in Game 5. Glen Davis has been cleared to play but he will not be what he was in Game 5. Rasheed Wallace’s back is not going to help his post defense at all, and Marquis Daniels got a head injury as well. If Kendrick Perkins’ phony technical foul had not been rescinded, it would be Code Red for Boston. They are going to need every big body they can get to defend/foul Dwight Howard.

I cannot believe what I am about to write, and it will probably be the only time is has been written in human history. Brian Scalabrine is a key for the Celtics. (Gasp) Not like that. The Celtics need big man help, and that means that all their big men, everyone from Kevin Garnett to Shelden Williams, must step up, hustle, box out, and defend Dwight Howard with dogged determination. If Scal so happens to play, I will gladly take credit, but he has not been dressing so I cannot put him down for a key role, but the C’s need a big game out of the Scalabrine-esque big men. They don’t need scoring, they need toughness and hustle, which is what Brian Scalabrine can bring. I do not know if he will dress, but I have hunch about Scal, so take it for what it is worth. Regardless, the C’s need big performances down low to slow down the Magic and I urge them to channel their inner Brian Scalabrine.

Scalabrine 1, Malone+Stockton+Barkley 0

Boston needs a good game out of Rondo if they are going to avoid history.

On the less insane side, you have Rajon Rondo back at home where he hopes pick up his incredible form of Games 1-3, and some home cooking for big-game-beast Paul Pierce. The Magic might be looking to pull a rabbit out of their hat, but Boston knows the Truth will be able to cut through the Magic’s illusions. When you are a little banged up and in a corner, there are two things a team can do: They can band together for a night and man up, or they can roll over and give up. I think the Celtics will do the first of those, at least for tonight. Look for 25 out of Pierce with a solid performance out of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in this pivotal Game 6. I do not think Rondo will run over Magic like they did in the first few games, but he should do a good job of involving his teammates and running the team. Look for something along the lines of 11 points, 6 rebounds and 12 assists out of the Black Leprechaun. Dwight Howard will have his 20 points and Jameer will pitch in almost 20, but I sense a clunker for Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis  as the Orlando’s magical run (pun intended) comes to an end.

Of course, if the Celtics have converted to regular season Celtics, the Boston will have the Bruins and Celtics give away 3-0 leads and the teams will never hear the end of it. They will win.

Magic 89, Celtics 94

Ask everyone’s favorite Celtic if Kendrick Perkins is important.

5/24/10 Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics (Game 4) Predictions

Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics- 8:30 ET ESPN

Pierce & the Celtics will have some time to rest up, stretch out, & prepare for the NBA Finals

The Magic are down for the count. With no hope of coming back from a 3-0 hole in the series, I fully expect them to lay down in Game 4. Hopefully the take the series loss like professionals and play hard all game, but in no way I expect them to come out on top. If I’m a Magic player, I rather get swept in Boston then have to come home and lose Game 5 in front of the home crowd.

It’s been a disappointing series to say the very least. In fact the NBA Playoffs as a whole have been very disappointing up until this point. Hopefully the NBA Finals matchup Celtics-Lakers/Suns offers a much more exciting series than we’ve been treated too so far this year. Celtics took care of business in the Eastern Conference Finals as an end result, they’ll be treating themselves to some days off to rest.

Celtics- 95 Magic- 87

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Milwaukee’s Cinderella Project Continues

The Cinderella Project Continues for the Bucks...This Time on the Floor....

As the Cinderella Project Milwaukee, a Milwaukee Bucks charity event created by The Gadzuric Foundation, came to a finale Saturday night, the team unfortunately was forced to open up another Cinderella-like project on the court. Whose going to be fill the role and the shoes of Andrew Bogut? Quite frankly, the Bucks roster doesn’t have one player that can even partially answer that question. The loss of Andrew Bogut will of course limit the Bucks chances of success come playoff time, but if there’s one NBA team that could find a why to be successful through such an devastating loss, it most certainly is the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are far too familiar with key losses and aren’t a team that’ll change their mindset or make excuses. As the Bucks continue to move forward, here’s the Bucks personnel that’s has to step up in order for the team to further exemplify the “Fear the Deer” slogan.

The Bucks Starting Center for the Remainder of the Season

Kurt Thomas: The 37 year old veteran will be primarily be the one asked to contribute more than the usual 10 to 20 solid minutes he’s been giving mostly all season. To Thomas’s credit, it’s important to stress solid minutes because that’s exactly what he’ll give you each and every night. Having been a variety of different teams throughout his 14 year career, Thomas has always been a quick adapter to change and I see this change in role being no different. Many night’s should look close to identical to his numbers against Phoenix adding 10 points and 7 rebounds in 30 minutes of play. For the remainder of the year look for Thomas to be a regular 10-12 point, 8-12 rebound, 1-2 block type guy averaging a little over 30 minutes of action.

Spot Minutes Likely for Primoz....

Primoz Brezec: Not much has been asked or expected upon Brezec since coming over in a trade with Philadelphia, but now it seems Brezec may see the floor depending upon the matchups. Brezec hasn’t really seen the floor all year and I doubt the Bucks depend upon him for much. Spot minutes will be key though, being able to throw him out there if any foul trouble occurs (which it will if Gadzuric becomes the primary backup). But Primoz doesn’t offer much outside of a big body, he’s slow in every way imaginable: both in transition and laterally. What’s been my concern with him since coming over is his lack of aggressiveness when he does catch/rebound the ball deep into the paint, he often times elect to kick the ball out than taking the ball up strong and drawing fouls. That’s got to change, the Bucks will need to stress getting their opponents bigs in every foul trouble each game from here on out.

Gadz Provides a Defensive Presence

Dan Gadzuric: Ahh, where to start, where to start, that’s always the hard part with good ole’ Danny G because we’re all just counting down to the days to when it ends as his huge contract finally comes off the books. But suddenly Gadzuric has found himself another bright opportunity to gain some floor time and he’s by far the best option to throw into the fire of a game off the bench with Thomas now starting. Looking at the positives, Gadzuric can run the floor, jump, and last but not least he can block shots while committing fouls. While that sounds like a horrible idea of attempting to block everything and committing fouls, it’s what the Bucks need from him. Gadz can offer a presence that sends a message to guards that they better prepare to get hammered when coming into the lane, every shot that goes up is going to be contested. At the end of the day, if Gadzuric can run the floor (making his defender run it with him) and can add some time off defensive presence in the paint, I’m content.

Ilayasova will continue to take charges just as Bogut would

Ersan Ilayasova: Putting Ilayasova in the center slot of the lineup can only mean one thing, push the tempo. While I don’t necessarily seeing Coach Scott Skiles changing up any of his game plans, I do hope he does give this a whirl for a variety of different reasons. 1) It’d allow the Bucks to run and gun a little bit, change the pace of the game, always keep the defense guessing 2) Ilayasova to the 5, almost always means a Ridnour & Jennings tandem in the backcourt 3) Ilayasova’s ability to knock down the long range three can help stretch the defense against a team like the Celtics, forcing Kendrick Perkins to hold his man on the perimeter offers lanes for penetration and cutters that keep the offense moving at all times. Not saying it’s the right solution, but I hope Skiles gives it a try sometime before the playoffs.

Darnell may get out of the formal attire, but probably won't see the floor too often

Darnell Jackson: Even with the need for a big man to step up, I don’t see Skiles giving Jackson an opportunity to show what he can do. While he may suit up and at least offers the coaching staff an option if need-be, I think it’s wise to work with the bigs that will be able to help you come playoff time. Like I’ve mentioned with most of these guys above, many of them haven’t seen the floor in quite some time, they’ll need minutes to get back into the groove and gel. Also, keep in mind a lot of them haven’t yet played a in-game situation with John Salmons. Giving both Brezec and Gadzuric time to do that will be important in order help them get onto the same page with one another. If Jackson were to have been picked up earlier and eligible for the playoffs, then there’s no question that Skiles would use him as one of his top choices off the bench.

What this means for the rest of the rest of the rotation:

Even more of a scoring load will be put on Jennings's shoulders

Brandon Jennings: The loss of Bogut means more touches, more touches leads to more opportunities to score for Jennings. Whether or not that’s a good thing with the way Jennings has been shooting the ball is one thing but Jennings will be counted upon to produce. Last game against Phoenix he did a great job attacking the rim, drawing fouls, and getting to the free throw stripe. That should continue to happen and should even become easier. Jennings almost always needs a on-ball screen in order for him to get a quality look at the basket and Kurt Thomas has always been a guy able to open up opportunities for his point guard (doing so with some of the best in recent past: Tony Parker and Steve Nash). Thomas will set a solid screen for Jennings to rub off of and 9 times out of 10, he’ll pop rather than roll. That gives Jennings just another direct angle/route to attack the basket. Jennings has been much more effective on the offensive end when he gets it going early inside and working his way out after getting into a rhythm. Getting to the foul line to knock down a few free throws is an easy way shooters can find a rhythm early.

He's Done It All

John Salmons: I don’t know how much more of the load we can put on Salmons than we already do. The guy’s been incredible since coming over and there’s not much else we can ask of him. Without Bogut, Salmons will definitely be counted upon even more so in clutch situations down the stretch of close ball games with the ball in his hands but that’s never a concern to Salmons, he lives for those moments. Scoring outputs from Salmons may slightly go up, but don’t expect much more from the guy, to think ask more from him is ludicrous, he’s given the Bucks everything he’s got since day one, not much will change with Bogut out.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute:

Mbah a Moute will continue to battle with the best of them down low

Down the stretch of close games, we commonly see Coach Scott Skiles pull Mbah a Moute due to his lack of offensive abilities but now Skiles will be put into a position where he may have to leave him out there on the floor. While I got nothing but praise for Mbah a Moute’s ability to guard bigger players at the power forward position this entire season, he’s really got to try to limit his early fouls. More times than not, he’s gets into early foul trouble adjusting to each particular big man down low. Being a good defender during my playing days, I know this task is much easier said than done. When you’re assigned to guard a bigger player on defense, you really have to feel him out on his abilities and his tendencies on the offensive end, that can often times lead to early foul trouble. I got nothing but love for Mbah a Moute and it’ll be important for him to stay out of foul trouble, and hopefully he can pose as a good mid-range shooter by knocking down some of his first shot attempts.

Carlos Delfino: Delfino’s above average ability to rebound the basketball just became that much more important for the Bucks. Look for Delfino’s rebounding numbers to go up a bit without Bogut inside, the Bucks will count on Delfino to crash the boards a bit harder on defense. While this will ultimately slow down the offensive break, it’s going to be necessary if the Bucks plan to limit their opponents second shot opportunities.

Ball Movement Will Be key

Luke Ridnour: As I mentioned above, Ridnour will most likely see more time being paired with Jennings in the backcourt. This tandem worked very well together earlier on into the year and definitely helped promote ball movement on the offensive end. This ball movement will become that much more important for a postman like Kurt Thomas whose going to struggle battling for position, but with a few quick ball screens, it’ll allow Thomas to seal off his defender and hopefully lead to some close looks down low.

Jerry Stackhouse: With Thomas replacing Bogut as the everyday starting center, the Bucks bench production will become limited which means Stackhouse’s production off the bench will be that much more important from here on out. Thomas, Ridnour, Stackhouse are typically the big three bench contributors that provides that instant spark and have been relied upon to do so all season long. With the departure of Thomas into the starting role, Stackhouse along with Ridnour have a much bigger task at hand. They also are going to be the lucky ones that have to deal with playing with Gadzuric and Brezec for their spot minutes. Luckily for the Bucks, both Stackhouse and Ridnour have been guys with the ability to bail the Bucks offense out as the shot clock winds down.

Bucks fans wouldn't let down these two guys, would they?!

The season is far from over folks, don’t give up on this Milwaukee Bucks team, they’ve come this far, it’d be a shame if the city didn’t rally behind them even during the toughest of times. Need some motivation not to give up? Look no further than Jerry Stackhouse, here’s a veteran who was looking to put himself in a position to make the playoffs. As he considered his options and Milwaukee called, the Bucks looked no where close to destined for a playoff berth, embarking on that rugged west coast trip during to being the new year. But as Redd went down with the season ending injury, Stackhouse didn’t count out giving Milwaukee a shot, he wanted to be the guy that could come in and step up, rather than declining the Bucks offer and maybe calling it quits. Back when the Bucks were well below the .500 mark, Jerry Stackhouse had hope for Milwaukee this season and didn’t throw in the towel. Same applies to Bucks fans, guys like Stackhouse, Salmons and even our fellow rookie Jennings have uplifted a Bucks team not expected to do a damn thing this year, yet here we are early April sitting in the 6th spot of the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Bucks have lived up to this season’s motto and have worked hard and played hard all year long, Bucks fans must continue to cheer hard and believe in this team in return.

FEAR THE DEAR CONTINUES....