Emeka Okafor (back) return date uncertain (Aug 12 12:00 ET )
Unrestricted free agent Emeka Okafor (herniated disc) may miss the first few months of the 2014-15 season, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
The Scoop: This isn't a confirmed medical report but Okafor's timetable remains opaque, and the fact that he's still unsigned suggests teams are leery about his health. Hopefully the veteran will make a full recovery and return as a productive backup center, but his days as a fantasy asset may be gone for good.
Feeling appreciated goes a long way with Marcin Gortat. Though one of the most coveted big men available, he barely spent a day mulling offers before he agreed to sign a five-year, $60 million deal on July 1 to remain with the Washington Wizards. I knew I had a really good result with the team being successful and I knew everything was going to be fine.'' Gortat was looking forward to exploring offers from suitors around the league, but got a surprise visit in Poland from a delegation of Wizards executives and coaches that included head coach Randy Wittman just prior to the start of free agency. He was traded from Phoenix to Washington prior to the start of this past season in a deal that sent Emeka Okafor and a first round draft pick.
If Jeff Bower feels like a re-tread, it’s because that’s what he is. Oftentimes, when it comes to hiring a general manager to run the communications end of your basketball team, that’s exactly what you want. They know where all the good auto parts stores are, so to speak.
Of course, Detroit Pistons boss Stan Van Gundy is also a re-tread, coaching his third NBA team in less than a decade, but that didn’t stop him from being perhaps the hottest name on the market during this offseason’s coaching carousal. The former Heat and Magic coach was given absolute personnel carte blanche by Pistons owner Tom Gores recently, and while SVG may have final say in basketball matters, he still needs a general manager with experience to handle the day to day duties of keeping up with the league from up top.
This is why Van Gundy’s first hire will likely be Jeff Bower as general manager, as first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski . Bower is best known in NBA circles as the GM and eventual coach of the Hornets franchise, a stint that saw him pair great moves with so-so action, all while working under less than ideal conditions – namely having to re-locate to Oklahoma City for a season after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, all while dealing with a parsimonious yet meddling owner in George Shinn.
Bower created a winner in New Orleans behind Chris Paul and David West, two draft acquisitions. New Orleans even made the second round of the playoffs in 2009, rare air for a franchise (pick one, Charlotte, New Orleans, whomever) that has struggled to stay relevant of late, before age and injuries caught up with the team in the years that followed.
He did well to secure Paul and (especially) West after several teams passed over on those eventual All-Stars, but on the flip side of that Bower also went deep in on acquiring the rights to free agents who were already working past their primes. Peja Stojakovic and James Posey were signed to contribute spacing and guidance around the team’s young core, in moves that were (in the most extreme case with Posey) criticized at the time. Bower did well to secure Tyson Chandler from the skinflint Chicago Bulls franchise for an expiring contract and players (J.R. Smith, Howard Eisley) Chicago later dumped, but Chandler’s bad back and toes eventually forced New Orleans to send him to Charlotte for a solid-if-unspectacular Emeka Okafor.
By the time Paul missed 37 games in 2009-10, Bower was forced into coaching his team, which missed the playoffs. The Hornets returned to give the Los Angeles Lakers a competitive first round in 2011 with Monty Williams as coach, but Bower was let go after that season.
He and Van Gundy will inherit a nasty situation in Detroit, but one that isn’t without upside. It’s true that in Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, the Pistons have two players who seemed to have tailed off years ago despite their age, working with borderline untradeable contracts (three years and $40.5 million left for Smith, two years and $16.3 million for Jennings). It does only takes one sucker to talk themselves into dealing for someone like Smith or Jennings over a summer, but those sorts of NBA GMs are becoming harder and harder to find.
The Pistons also wasted 2013-14 without a lottery pick as reward, thanks to a 2012 deal that was pitched to acquire cap space for 2013 (used on Smith and Jennings), and the team still has to figure out what to do with scoring forward Greg Monroe once the market sets its claws into his potential. Monroe has his faults as a defender and isn’t a great fit with some frontcourts, but plenty of teams will have cap space to throw at the restricted free agent this summer, and the Pistons may decline to get into a bidding war for his services. With a new front office in charge, it might be easier to make such dispassionate choices.
The bright side comes in the form of expiring contracts – Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey – and what could be over $20 million in cap room if the team decides to completely pass on making Monroe and Stuckey Pistons again. The team has Andre Drummond’s expected maximum contract extension to consider next summer, and with so many teams attempting to flail away in hopes of landing what they can pass off as a big fish when all the notable free agents stay home this summer, the Pistons could do well to do what former GM Joe Dumars did in his first few years running the show – take advantage of other teams’ financial frustrations in order to help others make deals, while accruing assets as a reward.
Dumars was a relative novice back then, and he had longtime NBA executive John Hammond’s rolodex to work with. Jeff Bower may have been out of the NBA for a few years, working as head basketball coach (with a bent toward analytics) at Marist, but his cell phone is still loaded with names. He’s still in touch.
That’s a brainy outfit, with Van Gundy and Bower running things. The only issue is, in a league that is getting smarter and smarter, will the duo be able to pounce at the right times and opportunities needed to turn these Pistons around?
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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
Flash back to March 25, the night that John Wall solidified himself as a max player. He put up a career-high 47 points against the Memphis Grizzlies, a defensive-minded bunch who would make a run to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. The Wizards won 107-94, but it came at Verizon Center. He played with four starters -- Garrett Temple, Chris Singleton, Trevor Booker and Emeka Okafor -- who are no longer starters.
The Scoop:Okafor may not see the court this season, but his contract could play a large part in the Suns acquiring Pau Gasol. In the rumored swap, the Lakers would take on Okafor's expiring $14.5 million contract in exchange for Gasol as they attempt to gain some salary relief. Fantasy owners don't need to concern themselves with what happens to Okafor, but he could still play a part in what might be the biggest trade before the deadline.
COMMENTARY | A potential deal that would send Pau Gasol to the Phoenix Suns is in the works. If the deal can indeed be made, it would be a match made in heaven for the Suns on a number of different levels. Marc Stein of ESPN.com first reported the potential deal, which is based around the Suns sending Emeka Okafor's expiring contract to the Los Angeles Lakers for Gasol. Although Gasol makes more, the Suns have the room to pick up the extra salary this season.
COMMENTARY | If you know anything about general manager Ryan McDonough, you know he's got his line wide open to listen for any trade possibilities in order to improve the Phoenix Suns. While they've already got a glut of draft picks, they also have some valuable expiring contracts to work with. Let's take a look at some trades the Suns could consider: Suns acquire Kevin Love, Corey Brewer and Alexey Shved from Minnesota Timberwolves for Goran Dragic, Emeka Okafor and three first-round draft picks
Just how good is Kendall Marshall, and did the Wizards make a mistake in not finding a way to retain the point guard when they orchestrated a trade with the Phoenix Suns for Marcin Gortat? Marshall, who was released along with Shannon Brown and Malcolm Lee, signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.The Lakers are in dire need of help with injuries to guards Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake. The Wizards wanted another center because Emeka Okafor had a disk injury in his neck and was out indefinitely.
Marcin Gortat is rightfully looked upon as a season-saver for the 2013-14 Washington Wizards. With Emeka Okafor going down for an indefinite amount of time during training camp with a herniated disc, the Wizards badly needed someone to plug the middle for a team that was hoping to go all in for a playoff berth. For the price of a first round pick, the team was able to send Okafor’s expiring contract to a rebuilding Phoenix Suns squad for Gortat’s services.
Yes, the “rebuilding” Suns currently have a better record than Washington – BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT. The point is that Gortat has been playing terrific basketball for the Wizards after a bit of a let-down 2012-13 campaign. The big man is averaging 13.3 points and 9.2 rebounds, alongside 1.6 blocks in 34 minutes a contest. This is only the beginning, too, as Gortat and point guard John Wall develop their pick and dive game after missing out on a full training camp and exhibition season together.
Actually, the real point is that Gortat and his father Janusz have kind of a weird chemistry of their own. The elder Gortat was a bronze medalist light-heavyweight boxer for Poland during the 1972 and 1976 Olympics, which is part of the reason why Marcin has a bit of a pugnacious spirit. The Washington Post’s Mike Wise documented their back and forth recently :
The Scoop: None.
Dec 6 9:55 ET
News (various sources)
Dunk History: Tom Chambers rising like a Phoenix and taking orbit as a Sun (Ball Don't Lie) (2 Days Ago | courtesy: Ball Don't Lie) As the summer wears on, with training camps and preseason play still off in (what feels like) the distant future, we turn our attention to the past. Join us as we while away a few late-summer moments recalling some of the most scintillating slams of yesteryear, the most thunderous throwdowns ever to sear themselves into our memories. This is Dunk History . Today, Ben Rohrbach examines Tom Chambers taking flight over, and through, Mark Jackson back in 1989. As anyone walking the streets of L.A. can attest, Mark Jackson is a God-fearing man , so that bright orange sun on Tom Chambers' short shorts setting over the former New York Knicks point guard's head as a knee collided with his grill may have jogged this Bible passage from his memory: For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. On Jan. 27, 1989, Chambers — the Sun of righteousness, his beautiful golden hair emanating like crepuscular rays — took flight from a fast break give-and-go with Kevin Johnson. He rose like a Phoenix, kept on rising and then rose some more, using Jackson's face as a catapult. "I was a rookie with the Suns when Chambers dunked over Mark Jackson, and what made that dunk amazing was that he literally put his knee on Mark’s shoulder and elevated about another foot," Steve Kerr later told the TNT crew . "It was like a pole vaulter.” When the ashes began to settle, Chambers looked upon the rim from above and dunked with both arms at 90-degree angles. He went forth and skipped like a calf from a stall, as did an Arizona crowd decked in spectacular '80s garb. The fourth-quarter bucket ultimately proved the difference in the Suns' 132-130 win — one of 55 before a Western Conference finals playoff run. “It was one of those things where I didn’t have time to stop and go around him," Chambers added. "I had to just try and get myself to the rim, so I was able to do that and literally jumped over Mark Jackson. He tried to protect himself and maybe gave me even a little bit more of a boost, because I know I had to kind of duck to not hit my head when I was coming down from that dunk." And Jackson still hasn't completely healed. On the wrong end of inarguably the greatest white-dude dunk in NBA history, he's still the original poster boy for getting posterized, as he was consulted when DeAndre Jordan jammed on Brandon Knight : "The funny thing is that the people talking about the lists of the dunks and the younger announcers forget about it until you can tell the one with a little bit of gray hair says, 'What about the Mark Jackson one?'” he said. "Then, all of a sudden it lights up, and it was comical because a lot of my players didn't know it was me. They were talking about the Tom Chambers dunk, and a couple of the older guys said it was me in the picture. Then, all of a sudden it's, 'That was you, Coach.' It's a bad memory. A bad, bad memory." Jackson has since argued for an offensive foul ("It's funny because I've seen people say he made the right play and they're right, but nobody ever said I was trying to take a charge and what a great play by me"). But a few looks at the replay of a video that's now more than a quarter-century old reveals he was considering a block when the knee convinced him otherwise: While Jackson may have made his only All-Star roster that season, this was not a great play by him by any stretch of the imagination. Chambers, too, made the All-Star squad in 1988-89 — his second of four such bids — but the two couldn't recreate this magic. Then again, nobody in real life ever quite has. (Though some have tried .) Never fear, for the jam has been immortalized twice. First, as children of the '90s will recall, the makers of the 1991 Sega Genesis game "Lakers versus Celtics and the NBA Playoffs" allowed Chambers to double-clutch dunk from just inside the 3-point line — even from a standstill. It was a ridiculously unstoppable move that forced gaming connoisseurs to outlaw the use of the Suns: A decade after the dunk, the Suns rightfully inducted Chambers into their Ring of Honor in 1999. During a ceremony honoring a 16-year NBA career that included 20,049 points, the 1987 All-Star Game MVP and the distinction as the league's first unrestricted free agent signing , the team presented Chambers with a sculpture of him Earl Grey-bagging Jackson: More...