Tag Archives: Washington Wizards

More than a Slap on the Wrist, Part 2: Wizards-Celtics in Boston, throwing the rule book out the window

Note: The initial post on referee Marc Davis began with the Raptors-Bucks game April 27 and, after Davis was promoted into the semifinals officials pool, was extended to include analysis of the officiating in Davis’ next few games along with his trends in recent seasons.  The next game Davis worked after the Bucks elimination was Game 2 of the Wizards-Celtics series, May 2 in Boston. For reference purposes, and because the original writing/notes were buried down at the bottom of “More than a Slap on the Wrist (Part 1)”, I’ve created a separate post here to put this game in better focus.

Davis was crew chief for Game 2 in Boston, with Rodney Mott and Tom Washington the other two officials. He wasted little time provoking the Boston crowd when, just 1:07 seconds after the opening tip, Wizards power forward Markieff Morris flung Al Horford into the photographers row along the baseline. Morris was retaliating for a play in Game 1 where he sprained an ankle shooting a jump shot over Horford, who slid underneath Morris as he shot. Though Morris had, well, thrown Horford into the stands, a technical (flagrant) foul was not issued on the play.

The Celtics play a rough brand of basketball, and have a couple of players in their rotation who might make good NFL tight ends or pass-rushing outside linebackers (Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart). They use their power to create advantage, intimidate and bully, and tend to get away with it. When they’re not getting away with it, they’re still wearing down the opposition.

The Wizards are also a rugged team, and the Atlanta Hawks complained in their Round 1 series that the Wiz were “playing MMA.” The Celtics and Wizards didn’t like each other before the playoffs, both sides admitted, and they’re going to like each other even less when this series is done.  The tricky task of the officials is to keep the rivalry under control while ensuring that the fouls and penalties don’t unfairly disadvantage one side or the other. Leniency was thus a reasonable approach once Horford picked himself up and tempers cooled down.

That said, a technical foul (flagrant 1) was the best Morris might’ve hoped for when he threw Horford into the baseline area. Davis, however, decided to disregard the rule book altogether and charge Morris with only a loose ball foul. The standard for a flagrant foul {1) is contact “interpreted to be unnecessary”, and what Morris did was certainly that (ref: Official Rules pg. 46). A flagrant foul (2) is contact “interpreted to be unnecessary and excessive”, and Morris probably did that too. A flagrant foul (2) results in the offender’s ejection from the game.

Davis had apparently decided he wasn’t going to throw anybody out of the game just yet, and didn’t feel obliged to award Boston the two free throws they had coming under the flagrant (1) rule, either. Instead of getting those, Boston on the very next possession was called for an offensive foul on Amir Johnson. Davis made that call too, denying the Celtics two free throws and a possession after their center had been tossed around like a … like a very large person being thrown into a bunch of unsuspecting photographers.

Bad officiating? Of course it was, and perhaps part of a visitors vs. home team trend with Davis. This season the visitors won 54% of the games Davis worked. Visitors have won more than the league average in Davis’ games 10 of the last 14 seasons. The Wizards were the visitors in Boston, Game 2.

The fans in Boston, where even the obvious calls against their Celtics are booed, were outraged. Davis had managed, just over a minute into the game, to incite the wrath of the home crowd. He had managed this in his previous game, in Milwaukee, but it took him the better part of a quarter to set anybody off, and until the 4th quarter to bring the building down. The early occasion set an aggressive, angry tone for the evening. There would be 50 personal fouls called in this game, 29 on the Wizards. The Celtics would go on to win in overtime in dramatic fashion and take a 2-0 lead in the series, with Isaiah Thomas scorching the nets to score 53 points on his late sister’s birthday.

Here’s how those 50 fouls, plus two technical fouls, broke down by official who called them:

Sources: NBA Official and NBA.com, official game play-by-play.

If official Tom Washington’s 12 to 5 foul disparity in favor of the Celtics doesn’t jump out at you, the fact that he called only two on the Celtics after the 1st quarter should. Home teams won 65% of the games Washington refereed this season (13% above the league avg., and he tends to call more fouls than avg.) The quarter ended with Wizards ahead 42-29, a lead that didn’t last as the refs unleashed their whistles on the Wizards bench in the 2nd quarter.

  • Davis called fewer personal fouls than Mott or Washington, and only 16 for the game. This is part of the trend that emerges with Davis over the last six seasons. Davis calls fewer fouls than the average official. Over the last three seasons about 2.6 fewer fouls per game were called in games Davis worked.
  • The per game average this season was about 40 fouls per game, meaning that even the official who made the least calls in this game (Davis) called more fouls than he typically does, adjusting for the extra five minutes of the overtime.
  • Mott was fairly balanced with his calls, just as he was in Milwaukee.
  • Nine fouls were called on the Wizards in the 2nd quarter, as all three officials unleashed their whistles on the Washington bench.
  • Six personal fouls vs. the Wizards in the 3rd quarter, only 2 on Boston, making the 2nd-3rd quarter foul disparity 15-6 in favor of Boston. (The Wizards were ahead by 14 mid-quarter and were threatening to blow the game open.)
  • Davis called a double technical on Thomas and Morris after the two former Suns teammates confronted each other. Had Davis issued Morris a flagrant (1) technical foul in the 1st quarter, Morris would have been ejected from the game with this second T.
  • Mott made the shooting foul call on Wizards center Marcin Gortat that sent Thomas to the line to tie the game with 14 seconds left in regulation. This was a highly questionable call.

There were factors not related to the officials that prevented the Wizards from putting Game 2 out of Boston’s reach. They went cold from the outside in the 3rd quarter after building a 14-point lead. Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal had a horrific game (4-15 shooting, 6 turnovers). Washington also had opportunities on the last possession of regulation to win it, but Beal and John Wall misfired on open looks, setting up Thomas’ heroics in the overtime. The Celtics’ little big man (53 points!) earned this win.

But it’s fairly obvious to say that the refs helped keep Boston in the game, given 3rd official Washington’s 12-5 disparity in foul calls, and the overall 15-6 foul count against the Wizards over the 2nd and 3rd quarters. This wasn’t lost on Wizards coach Scott Brooks, who tried after the game to remain benignly vague when approaching the taboo subject of the refs, but didn’t quite succeed. Brooks ended his post-game interview session abruptly after the following comments.

“We had a couple of leads, 14 and I think a 10 or 12 point lead, and things changed,” Brooks said. “My job is not to referee the game, my job is to coach, and sometimes I struggle doing that. It’s a tough job. And our players gotta play. We have to be able to control the game, and (he paused) it’s not our job to do that.”

Davis served as a counter-veiling influence to referee Washington, mainly through his handling of Morris. The Wizards’ power forward, coming off a sprained ankle in Game 1, played just 26 minutes due to foul trouble but had a stabilizing impact for the Wizards on the court, scoring an efficient 16 points. Not calling the first technical on Morris was a boon for the Wizards, compliments of Davis in the face of a hostile Boston crowd, part of his modus operandi in this year’s playoffs.

But with Mott making the big call to send Thomas to the line in the final seconds to send it into overtime, this game became a reminder that it’s difficult for any one ref to engineer an outcome when there are two other officials on the court.

Note: Davis has worked one game since this May 2 game, the Rockets loss at home to the Spurs May 5 in Game 3 of that series. The Washington-Boston series is currently tied 2-2, with Game 5 about to tip off Wednesday, May 10. Davis has not been assigned to work a game, even as an alternate, since May 5 in Houston.

 Source list:

  • Official Rules, NBA 2016-17: https://ak-static.cms.nba.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2016/11/2016-2017-Rule-Book-Final.pdf
  • Official game play-by-play: http://www.nba.com/games/20170502/WASBOS#/pbp
  • Wizards-Celtics Box score, 05/02/17:  http://www.nba.com/games/20170502/WASBOS#/boxscore
  • Scott Brooks post game interviews: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Mj-69Br2zE
  • ESPN story, 04/17/17: “Paul Millsap after Hawks loss: We played basketball, they played MMA”, http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/19173546/paul-millsap-atlanta-hawks-washington-wizards-were-playing-mma-game-1-victory
  • Last Two Minute report, Wizards-Celtics: http://official.nba.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2017/05/L2M-WAS-BOS-05-02-17.pdf
  • NBA Officials Data: http://www.basketball-reference.com/referees/
  • 2014-15 Phoenix Suns: http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/PHO/2015.html
  • AP report, NBA statement on 2016 non-calls in Spurs-Thunder Game 2: http://www.nba.com/2016/news/05/03/nba-on-spurs-thunder-game-2-non-calls.ap/
  • Last Two Minute Reports FAQ: http://official.nba.com/nba-last-two-minute-reports-frequently-asked-questions/

Wizards vs. Bucks: Nick Young, Bucks killer

The Bucks went to Washington, D.C. last February figuring to toss a win against the Wizards into their 8th-seed hamper.  John Wall hadn’t been a problem in his first meeting with the Bucks in Milwaukee (a 100-87 Bucks win), and, this time, Brandon Jennings was back in the Bucks lineup after missing six weeks with a foot fracture.

What Jennings and mates found in Washington was Nick Young‘s afro and Nick Young’s jumpshot.

26 points from Young later and the Bucks were 100-85 losers – and nothing resembling the playoff team they had hoped to be and thought they were.

Nick Young is a Bucks killer, and it was an efficient killing: 10-19 shooting, three from Downtown, 3 of 3 from the line.  Young was aided by guard Cartier Martin, who made five from downtown and scored 15.

The Bucks tried, oh they tried to guard the three point line.  John Salmons was no slouch defender.

Salmons is no longer a Buck, and Stephen Jackson will hawk the 3-point-line for the Bucks tonight at the BC against the Wiz.

Martin is no longer with the Wizards.  But Young will be in the building, starting at shooting guard.  Last season he averaged 19 in three games against the Bucks, better than his 17.4 pts per game average, and they needed to hold Young to ten in the third meeting to get it down from 23.5 in the first two.

In the 2009-10 season, Young averaged 20.2 in the four games the Wizards split against the Bucks.  Seven games in two seasons, three losses to the Wiz.  In the two wins that Young started in, he averaging 23.5 points per.

Nick Young is a Bucks killer.

Final 21: Bogut will start against Wizards

Waiting time has run out on the Bucks as they eye a run to the playoffs.  There are 21 games left on the schedule, beginning tonight in Washington, D.C.

Bucks center Andrew Bogut, who sat out last week with a strained muscle in the rib area, will start against the Wizards. READ BOGUT UPDATE.

The Bucks are still in the hunt, believe it or not, 3.5 games behind the Pacers in the mad stumble for the 8th and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Not only do the Bucks need their All-NBA center for this final stretch run, but Bogut must play in all 21 of the remaining games to qualify on the 2011 rebounding boards.   To qualify, Bogut must play in 70 games or be on pace to grab 800 rebounds.  Having missed 12 games, he’s short on both counts and must play in all remaining 21 games or haul in 235 rebounds to finish on the leader board.

His 11.5 rebounds per game would rank 5th in the NBA, but then there are those pesky qualifications.

Milwaukee’s daily newspaper continues odd fascination with some Bucks player named Michael Redd

Oh, we’ve heard all this before.  A very long feature today in Milwaukee’s daily newspaper on the progress of one Michael Redd, erstwhile Bucks shooting star whose NBA career came crashing down in a hail of unmet expectations, selfish play, conflicts with coaches, the side effect of #1 pick Andrew Bogut’s stalled development and, lastly, two knee surgeries.

No, the story doesn’t say anything about all of the above except the injuries but it does tell us that Redd’s “thing is not to just come back and play.”

“My thing is to come back and dominate and play at a high level.”

–Read the full story HERE. Or don’t.

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What’s this, a Wizards-Cavs back-to-back?

Indeed, the NBA schedule makers have smiled on the Bucks with a back-to-back featuring the two worst teams in the NBA according to every measure known to the league except one — offensive rating, the scoring efficiency measure that has defined the Bucks woes this season.  No matter.

These are not must win games.  They are kill-your-shoe-contract, shut-down-your-center, overdose-on-pain-pills, let-Redd-play-out-the-string, send-the-coach-to-a-rest-home, fire-the-ticket-takers, win-or-don’t-show-your-face-in-the-city tests of whether the Bucks should have bothered showing up in the NBA this season.

Now that that’s out of my system …

THE WIZARDS, often referred to here as the Wiz.  Coach Flip Saunders has, as far as I’ve been able to gather, refused to vote Andrew Bogut to the East All-Star squad these last two seasons, all the more reason to suit Bogut up and make sure Javale McGee doesn’t rebound all day over Jon Brockman.  Bogut is listed as “day-to-day” with a left rib muscle strain suffered against the Bulls, but had expected to practice today (Monday).  No word on whether he did or not but it’s not as though that’s as important as Michael Redd or anything, with the Bucks desperate to not fall any further behind the Pacers this week.

The last time the Bucks played the Wiz in Washington (Feb. 9), they were utterly embarrassed as Nick Young and a guy named Cartier Martin went off on them from 3-point-land (8 for 12 combined) and we all know the Bucks can’t score points in bunches.

Beyond the box score, the Bucks were still working their starting guards back into playing shape on the comeback from injury, and it was absolutely brutal watching the Bucks try to keep the Wiz in the building in the 3rd quarter.  This will be the first time this season the Wiz sees a healthy Milwaukee back court.

THE CAVS:  It’s at home.  Former Bucks point guard Ramon Sessions is still with them, fresh off that shoulder jaw butt that knocked Chris Paul out over the weekend.

Always good to see Sessions, the Cavs starting point guard since the Mo-for Baron trade last month.  One has the sense that Paul’s injury may have been meant for the injury prone Bucks.

The Bucks early season loss to the Cavs in Cleveland (on a last second jumper by Mo) ranks as one of the most entirely avoidable, regrettable Bucks losses that still has them trailing the Pacers and Bobcats in the standings.

Corey Maggette trade murmurs and John Salmons bombs from the Land of Ray and Reggie

With the first ever Packers-Bears NFC Championship on tap Sunday, few heads in cheesehead-land are wrapped around the goings-on of the Milwaukee Bucks.  This is not necessarily a bad thing considering the Bucks are ten games under .500, 12 games behind the Bulls and only a half game ahead of the hapless Pistons in 10th place.

Center Andrew Bogut‘s health continues to be an issue, team chemistry issues won’t go away, and, in a hapless effort in Houston on Martin Luther King Day, the Bucks lost their 10th game in the absence of injured Brandon Jennings (left foot fracture).

The Bucks looked dead in Houston, listless, out of gas, hungover, out-of-sync, bewildered.  If nothing else, they miss Jennings’ relentless energy even when shooting 5 for 16.

Tonight the Bucks are at the Bradley Center against rookie John Wall, coach Scott Skiles’ old protoge, Kirk Hinrich, Rashard Lewis, Nick Young and the Wizards. Perhaps Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will be in usual seat courtside, perhaps not.  If watching the Bucks lose at the BC has become part of Rodgers’ ritual of pregame preparation, it is most definitely working.

And if Bucks trade rumors are swirling around in winter Wisconsin, nobody is paying much attention.  The Carmelo-to-New-Jersey deal breaks down. Life in Packerland goes on. The Bucks beat the Wizards 100-87 while the Sixers and Pacers lose, and the Bucks are just a game out of the 7th playoff spot.  Packers-Bears kickoff is at 2 p.m. Central, Sunday.

There has been, however, one solid, honest-t0-Gooden Bucks related lead on the trade rumor mill:

Corey Maggette’s name has surfaced on the Dallas Mavericks “radar” in their search to replace forward Caron Butler, who popped the ligaments in his knee New Years Day in Milwaukee and is finished for the season. Butler says he plans to be back in time for the playoffs but the Mavs have been canvassing the league for small forward scoring.

ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher mentioned in a (Jan. 13) Thursday night visit with 103.3 FM’s Ian Fitzsimmons that the Mavs and Bucks have discussed Maggette’s availability. Maggette, though, is even more expensive than [Stephen] Jackson, with more than $21 million left on his contract through 2012-13 after this season. Jackson is likewise a far better fit with his ability to stretch the floor, passing eye, defensive ability and proven toughness. If Philadelphia’s younger and more versatile Andre Iguodala is too expensive, Maggette is way too expensive for what he can deliver.

OK, so Maggette’s probably a bad idea for the Mavs, in light of the availability of the Bobcats’ Jackson and Detroit’s readiness to part ways with Tayshaun Prince.  Then there’s Melo, with Dallas no longer quite the longshot in the sweepstakes that they were before the Nets nixed the deal. Apparently.

But not to be so easily discouraged by ESPN, the Bucks moved Maggette into the starting lineup Monday in Houston and Maggette scored 25 in a season-high 38 minutes.  The Mavs big need sans Butler is offense. “We Have Offense!” Maggette and the Bucks showcased in Houston.

The Mavs would prefer a good long range shooter who can create his own offense without getting in Dirk Nowitzki’s way.  That’s what Butler (15 pts per game, 48.7% efg, a career-high 43% from behind the arc) gave them.  That’s not Maggette, a career 32% three-point shooter whose m.o. is to commandeer the ball, take it to the hoop head-down and look for a foul.  32% from Downtown?  Maggette hasn’t shot above the 26% he’s currently shooting for the Bucks since he left the Warriors in 2008.

And until this season in Milwaukee, Maggette has never been accused of being anything but indifferent to defense, much less playoff intensity defense.  This is where Jackson and Detroit’s Prince become the preferred options for Dallas.

But is Stephen Jackson really the shot-creator — I should say “the shot maker” — the Mavs are looking for?  Jackson’s playoff experience in recent years has been limited to four losses against the Orlando Magic last season — four games in which he shot 35% and needed 20+ opportunities to get his 18 points per game.   Things would open up for Jackson with Dirk commanding double teams, but he’s still not a highly efficient scorer who changes a game in the playoffs. In Charlotte, he’s more the guy the Bobcats play through on the wing. In Dallas, that’s Dirk in the high post.

If Jackson’s not the guy, the Mavs don’t have to look far to find a player who fits their needs to a Texas T.  He’s right next to Maggette in the Bucks current starting lineup, and is less expensive than any of the forwards ESPN has mentioned on the Mavs radar:   John Salmons.

The Fish, it should be famously remembered, came to Chicago in a trade from Sacramento in 2009 and filled in at small forward for injured Luol Deng during the Bulls end-of-season 2009 playoff run. Salmons then shocked — and thrilled — the basketball gods by gunning the Bulls into a Game 7 against the Celtics, scoring 35 clutch points in the classic triple-overtime Game 6 in Chicago.  In that series, he guarded Paul Pierce.

After the Bulls traded Salmons to the Bucks last February, he did it again as the Bucks finished 22-8 and pushed heavily favored (and strangely out of focus) Atlanta to a Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs.  In Games 3, 4 and 5, Salmons averaged 21 on a remarkably efficient 12.3 shots (shooting 18-19 from the line) and won his battle with Hawk All-Star guard, 6′-7″ Joe Johnson on both ends of the floor.

The edge that Salmons gave the Bucks in his matchup with Johnson enabled the Bucks, playing without injured All-Pro center Andrew Bogut, to a 3-2 series lead.  No, the Bucks didn’t win the series, but that’s the kind of edge the Mavs are looking for.

Salmons, like Jackson, is a proven 18 ppg scorer, but doesn’t require the volume of shots Jackson takes to do it.  Unlike Jackson, he’s a legitimate 3-point gunner, shooting over 40% in his last 197 NBA games, dating back to the start of the 2008-09 season in Sacramento (He’s currently shooting 42% from three).  Mark Cuban,  have you looked at Jackson’s shooting numbers? If 33% from 3-point line (Jackson’s career average and also what he’s shot in the last three seasons) can be deemed “ability to stretch the floor” in the eyes of ESPN analysts, what does 40 percent give you?

Salmons fits the Mavs other prerequisites arguably as well, if not better, than Jackson. He’s 6′-6″ and plays tough, playoff-ready defense, has ability to guard forwards (Johnson and Pierce), and he moves the ball well (3.1 assists per game).  Defensively, he did about as well as one could expect guarding Kobe Bryant in the Bucks win against the Lakers in Los Angeles last month, and he’s rugged enough to keep Ron Artest occupied.  Against the Spurs, Salmons’ natural matchup is forward Richard Jefferson, but he’s good to have around when relief is needed against Ginobili or Parker.  Kevin Durant?  Jackson might have the edge there but then, this move by the Mavs is primarily about playoff-tested offense, isn’t it?

Salmons has the edge in cost, at least over the next three years — $8 million this year, $8.5 million next year, 5 yrs – $33.16 million guaranteed, only $1 million in the final year. Jackson: 3 years – $27.77 million. Butler’s contract is a $10.56 expiring, which works straight up for Jackson but not for Salmons, which the Bucks and Mavs would have to work out.

Drew Gooden (5 yrs – $32 million) was a Mav for 46 games last season before being traded to the Wizards as part of the deal that brought Butler to Dallas. Dallas owner Cuban on Gooden:

“Damp [Erick Dampier] is having problems with his knees and requires rest every now and then, and we were in a spot without having a shot-blocker behind him. Drew did a great job. He laid it out there every game for us to try to fill in. Going into the season we thought that would work, and it just didn’t play out as planned.”

Gooden would add to the Mavs frontline scoring depth behind Tyson Chandler (who’s knees are fine) and Dirk.  Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson were also part of that trade with the Wizards.  Haywood, a true center, may have become expendable in Dallas.

If the Mavs realize that it’s John Salmons they really want, and not Maggette or Jackson — then it’s up to Bucks GM John Hammond to decide which of the deals he made last summer — signing Salmons and Gooden, trading for Maggette — were mistakes. I know, that’s asking quite a lot.

With Carlos Delfino planning to return to practice today and Maggette, Salmons, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Luc Mbah a Moute all vying for playing time, Hammond’s got to come to some decisions before the All-Star break.

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Good luck trading Drew Gooden.  It’s not easy finding a team that might be interested in Bucks big forward Drew Gooden, who’s slowing down considerably as he nears 10-year veteran status.  Now ol’ Drew is telling the world that his plantar fasciitis and bad heel are hurting so bad that he can’t jump. Hard to find a taker for a 5-year-$32 million, immobile big man who can’t jump.  Dallas?  Orlando?

“radar” in their search to replace forward Caron Butler, who

Bob Boozer, 1960 Olympic Team remembered

I was surfing around a bit today and found a Los Angeles Times piece from August about the 1960 gold medal winning Olympic Team, which was enshrined in the basketball Hall of Fame this year along with the 1992 Olympic “Dream Team.”

A big forward on that 1960 amateur team was none other than Bob Boozer, the top pick in the 1959 NBA draft and later the man whose retirement in 1971 is believed to have set in motion the Bucks ongoing jinx at the power forward position (not to say that the LA Times has recognized the .atter phenomenon, but give them time).

Here’s an excerpt:

Knee injuries delayed the professional basketball debuts of No. 1 NBA draft picks Greg Oden and Blake Griffin.

For Bob Boozer, it was national pride.

The top pick in 1959, he kept the Cincinnati Royals at arm’s length for more than a year to maintain his amateur status in hopes of playing for Team USA in the 1960 Olympics.

“I always had this deep desire to represent this country on its Olympic basketball squad,” Boozer says, “and at that time, you only had one go-round at it. Everyone told me, ‘Your chances are remote,’ et cetera, et cetera. Each person that tried to get me to sign on the dotted line expressed that, but I said, ‘Hey, this is something I’ve got to go for.’

“I knew I only had once chance.”

The 6-foot-8 former forward made the most of it, taking his place on a team coached by Pete Newell that tore through its Olympic competition in Rome by an average of 42.4 points a game.

Considered the greatest amateur basketball team ever assembled, it featured future Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Jerry Lucas and Walt Bellamy.

“We,” Boozer says, “were the first Dream Team.”

Read the full article here.

UPDATES: Still no Andrew Bogut or John Salmons in the Bucks preseason, which hasn’t helped lend any relevance to the games, though the Bucks have won three of four.  How do they look?  That remains to be seen because I haven’t seen them, but, again, how to get a fix on a team playing without two of its top three players (Bogut and Salmons)?

Last night (Thursday) in DC, the Bucks fell behind 57-51 at half but rolled the Wizards in the second half (96-88 final) with their usual in-yer-jersey defense and a rim-attacking offense that got to the line 43 times.  A free throw advantage?  The Bucks could get used to that and should; in the absence of Bogut, they took advantage of the Wiz in the paint all night with Drew Gooden (25 pts), who started at center.

Defense in the second half, however, was the story.  Luc Mbah a Moute (35 mins) and Chris Douglas-Roberts (a team-leading 35 mins for CDR) led the defensive charge that turned the game around (the Wiz were held to just 31 pts in the second).   Carlos Delfino (28 mins) was back in the lineup after missing a couple of games with a bad toe, and coach Scott Skiles singled out Del and his defense, ball movement and spacing for praise, which along with the high minutes played for his defensive stalwarts, is a pretty strong indication of what Skiles is looking for and who’s getting it done .

Ersan Ilyasova at power forward and Keyon Dooling backing up Brandon Jennings are also seeing strong preseason minutes.  I still don’t see where defensively-challenged shooting guard Corey Maggette fits in to the rotation, not with Del and CDR battling for guard minutes behind Salmons, and Luc surely to get some minutes there too based on defensive matchups.

It’s early, I know, and it’s all too easy at this point to see Maggette as trade bait to help trigger the inevitable deal to part ways with Michael Redd.

TOUGH BREAK for Hobson: With the pending logjam on the wings, rookie Darington Hobson wasn’t going to play much, and now he won’t play at all this season.  Hobson had surgery on his left hip a week ago and the knife will go into his right hip in a couple of weeks, the Bucks announced. Hobson will miss the entire season and that doesn’t sound good for a second round pick who hasn’t had a chance to make much of an impression on his new team.

On the other hand, it’s probably not so bad for Hobson to sit out while Skiles and Hammond figure out how much they like CD-R, decide what they want to do with Maggette, gauge whether Luc can improve his outside shot and earn more minutes on the wing; and let’s not forget Delfino and the question of how committed the Bucks are to Del.  As noted above, Skiles is beginning to realize the value of having Del on the court.

That’s quite a lot to sort out, which didn’t make Milwaukee this season the best environment for a rookie wing to develop in.  A healthy Hobson next season might have a better chance of defining his game and earning some PT.

Bucks get Salmons from the Bulls… Cavs load up with Antawn Jamison

Salmons_blog  TNT’s David Aldridge is twittering that the Bucks will send Kurt Thomas and Francisco Elson to the Bulls for G-F John SalmonsFrank at Brewhoop has been tracking trade rumors this week.

JSOnline has confirmed the news. Salmons is headed to Milwaukee but there’s no note on who the expirings from Milwaukee will be.  Kurt Thomas is apparently NOT part of the deal, some sources said. 

Chicago Tribune reports that a deal has been reached “in principal” and that it’s Thomas and Elson for Salmons, but that the Bucks could “substitute” Hakim Warrick for Thomas.  Problem is, Warrick’s $3 mil. contract can’t be substituted for Thomas’ and have the deal fit under NBA trade rules. Carlos Delfino‘s contract would work. 

Ball Don’t Lie has a trade deadline post that will be updated through 3pm tomorrow. Apparently the trade may be expanding, but Salmons is definitely headed for Milwaukee.  The Bulls official blog is also keeping tabs.

The 6’6″, Salmons, a 20-pt. scorer when he was with the Kings last season has been odd man out fit in the Derrick Rose-Kirk Hinrich-Luol Deng mix in Chicago.  The Bulls  needed to clear some cap space to be in the summer 2010 free agent market (D-Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire etc.), and Salmons had an early termination option for 2010-11. It would have been no surprise if he had opted out of Chicago. 

In Milwaukee, Salmons would start at shooting guard, with Charlie Bell likely to return to a reserve role.

Salmons came to the Bulls last season as part of the Andres Nocioni-Brad Miller deal right before the trading deadline. With Deng sidelined, Salmons filled in at small forward and averaged 18+ pts per game as the Bulls drove past the Bucks and Pistons into the playoffs.

With Deng healthy and playing 38 mins per game, Salmons is playing shooting guard, but shooting just 10 times per game and scoring 12 ppg. He’s shooting well from Downtown, which never hurts a Scott Skiles team coached to launch ’em. Unless Salmons is little more than a less prolific version of Michael Redd, this trade improves the Bucks and doesn’t help the Bulls — especially if KT and Elson are the two involved. Somehow, I think Carlos Delfino’s name may come up, Hak Warrick’s already has. 

No matter which of the expirings are used (Luke Ridnour’s name has not come up), this looks good for the Bucks and not so good for the Bulls … for now.  However, Chicago’s priority now is clearing cap space to make a run at D-Wade, Chris Bosh or other summer free agent options.

Note: backup center Elson is on injured reserve and is expected to stay there for a few more weeks.

UPDATE: Seems Thomas and Elson may stick … it to the Bulls. What a terrible trade for Chicago – Elson is on the injured reserve and Kurt Thomas has very little game left. Again, the latest is that the trade is expanding but that Thomas may or may not be involved.

It came from Cleveland. “It” in this case is a monster built to win the NBA championship. Somehow, someway, the team with the best record in the league, running away with the top seed in the East, got better before Thursday’s trade deadline.

Just an hour or so ago, the Cavs announced that they had traded center Big Z (Zydrunas Ilgauskas), a first round pick and draft rights to a guy named Emil to the Wiz for former All-Star Antawn Jamison, a big forward with a scoring game who should fit right in with Lebron and the rest of his beastly Cavs.

Big Z was in the final year of his contract, paying him $11 mil. this season. With Anderson Varejao continuing to improve and with Shaquille O’Neal in the fold, Z became expendable. If healthy in the playoffs, Shaq and Andy will get the big man minutes. Jamison isn’t the outside shooter that Big Z is but he’s got a more versatile offensive game and younger legs.

The Clippers are involved in this deal, too, and the Cavs will pick up backup point guard Sebastian Telfair. The Wizards get former Buck Brian Skinner and Al Thornton, a couple of rugged big men to play with Big Z and Brendan Haywood. Drew Gooden, another rugged, veteran big forward, will go to the Clippers.

The Wiz just might have improved with this trade as well, particularly in the paint, where center Haywood this season has already given Andrew Bogut some problems. The Bucks are 0-2 against the Wiz with two left to play (both in early March).

The Bucks have two to play against the Cavs.

Meanwhile, the Bulls left shooting guard John Salmons at the hotel this evening in New York, a good sign that the Bulls GM John Paxson has another trade deadline deal good to go. This will be the third straight season the Bulls have hooked one up in the 24 hours before the deadline. Last season Paxson acquired Salmons and Brad Miller from the Kings.

Salmons hasn’t had a good season. The Bulls have Luol Deng healthy and highly effective this year at small forward, and Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose running the show from the guard spots. Salmons was the odd man out.

The Bulls have been mentioned as a team involved with the Rockets efforts to dump Tracy McGrady and $23 million contract in New York. Brewhoop runs down some of the T-Mac possibilities.

Now it seems that Salmons is headed for Milwaukee!

Ray Allen is still a Celtic, despite all the rumors this week. I could never see the Celtics capitulating to the Cavs and Magic and Hawks by giving up their title hopes. Trading Ray Allen would be the white flag waving from Boston.

As for the Bucks, I’d really love to see them figure out a way to bring Ray back, of course. I suppose the Bucks could send to the Celtics Luke Ridnour, Charlie Bell, Hak Warrick, Kurt Thomas and Stackhouse. A Ray Allen-Brandon Jennings backcourt would send Bucks fans to the ticket office in droves, precisely what the franchise needs now that Scott Skiles and Bogut and Jennings, Mbah a Moute and Ilyasova have this thing headed in the right direction.

But I can’t see the Celtics trading Ray, and am pretty sure the rumors to that effect were those of the made-up ESPN sort.  The Celtics do appear about to trade Eddie House to the Knicks for Nate Robinson in a deal that will be announced sometime THursday.

Arenas’ Jefferson-Milwaukee trashtalk disappears from NBA.com blog

Gilbert Arenas posing as writerHow gutless are Gilbert Arenas and the online gatekeepers of NBA.com, where the Washington Wizards’ $111-million-guard is the featured NBA blogger? Arenas’ schoolyard taunt at Richard Jefferson and Milwaukee is nowhere to be found on his Agent Zero: the blogfile.

Arenas has made a little noise lately about retiring his blog, blaming “technical difficulties” with the media in America, but a globetrotting trip to China, Europe and beyond prompted a lengthy July 13 entry about his travels. Along the way he added some thoughts on summer NBA player transactions and had this to say about the trade that brought Richard Jefferson to Milwaukee:

“HAHAHA. Oh, man, now that is funny. When I heard that, I started laughing. Oh man, did I start laughing. You know why? Because every player hates Milwaukee. Nobody wants to live in Milwaukee. I’m sorry, Milwaukee, to come down hard on you, but no one in the NBA wants to play in Milwaukee. From him going from New Jersey (actually New York, because he lives in New York), from New York to Milwaukee is like going … let’s just say it’s not going to sit well with you. That was a funny one when I heard that one. I know Yi is happy though.”

Hit delete – that paragraph is now gone from Arenas’ blog, no doubt disappeared into the nether of some NBA.com flak’s hard drive.

But not before Bucks fans reacted with all sorts of discussion about diversity, quality of life, segregation, economic opportunity, crime rates, the state’s horrible black incarceration rates, Milwaukee’s black brain drain (Atlanta came up), jobs, things to do, night life, Julius Erving’s refusal to play in Milwaukee after being drafted by the Bucks in the 1970’s — yes, Bucks fans delved into it all for couple of days on Realgm.com (I admit responsibility for some of it). And trashtalked Arenas, of course, while also noting that the Bucks organization hasn’t been all that attractive to players in the last five or six years. Bucks fans had a lot to say about Milwaukee, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.

Mostly lost in the wide-ranging discussion was that the target of Agent Zero’s dis’ wasn’t Milwaukee so much as it was Jefferson, his former U. of Arizona Wildcats teammate and an increasingly unfriendly rival. (Badger fans will remember those two in passing from the 2000 NCAA West Regionals, as Wisconsin went on its way to a fourth date with the Flintstones in the Final Four.)

Last summer Jefferson and Arenas sparred in the media over a $3.5 million donation Jefferson made to build a new gym at AU. Then it got a little ugly, again on Arenas’ nba.com blog. If Arenas was joking in any of this, nobody’s getting it. And now Agent Zero is pretending his latest never happened, save for the reader comments responding to smacktalk that is no longer there.

Arenas and NBA.com ought to put Arenas’ statements back up. He thought them; he wrote them; NBA.com has (or had) given him the license to post them. Arenas and the publishers of the website — the league — should either let the statements stand and if they feel damage control is in order, reframe, respin, whatever the urge is, in a new post. It’s disrespectful to readers of his blog to simply “disappear” it all.

Yes, the NBA is a business, and, yes, it is entirely possible that the Bucks, part of NBA.com, demanded the removal of the Arenas’ comments. But the NBA and Agent Zero are in the business of developing online editorial content for fans. The honest and ethical thing to do is to stand by the content and serve the readers and NBA fans, not the interest of the business or Arenas’ image, foot-in-the-mouth though it’s been since beginning his blog two years ago. 

The cat’s long out of the bag and prowling all over cyperspace, linked at Dimemag.com, Ballhype.com, JSOnline.com, hundreds of sites in between, and now the mighty Bob Boozer Jinx. Axing the comments and pretending Agent Zero never wrote them doesn’t serve Arenas or the NBA — it just makes both look bad and wastes many an NBA fan’s time.

“Technical difficulties with our media,” Gilbert? A Dikembe Mutombo finger to that. It’s hit it or quit it time.