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NBA PM: Two Stints With Same Team

LeBron James will do a second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he isn’t the only NBA player to return to his old team.

Joel Brigham



Two Stints With Same Team

As we all know, LeBron James is going home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the fact that he’s returning to the city where he made a name for himself has been a huge story over the course of the last couple of weeks. Of course, this isn’t the first time this story has been told. Plenty of players have returned for a second stint with a team after spending some years away, and here are some of the most notable:

#5 – Chauncey Billups, Denver Nuggets (1998-2000, 2008-2011) and Detroit Pistons (2002-2008, 2013-2014) – Billups’ first stint in Denver was underwhelming, but upon his return in 2008 there were plenty of people who thought he’d retire in his home state. He went to college there (Boulder), played some pretty un-miraculous pro ball there for two years in the late ’90s, and made his triumphant return in the Allen Iverson trade back in 2008. He didn’t get to go back home for long, but it was certainly fun for him while it lasted. His second stint in Detroit, meanwhile, was nowhere near as glorious as his first, but he was given the opportunity to finish his career where he won his lone championship.

#4 – Mark Jackson, Indiana Pacers (1994-1996, 1997-2000) – Grabbing Mark Jackson from the Clippers in 1994 proved to be a fantastic move for the Pacers, but when they got the opportunity to move him for Jalen Rose a couple of years later, they just couldn’t say no. Turns out maybe they should have, because the team immediately dropped out of the playoff picture and stunk so badly that they re-traded for him less than a year later. Within a couple of seasons, they’d be in the Finals—the only Finals appearance of Jackson’s career.

#3 – Derek Fisher, L.A. Lakers (1996-2004, 2007-2012) and Oklahoma City Thunder (2012, 2012-2013) – Fisher entered free agency in 2004 with quite a lot to consider. Yes, he had been a key part of three championship teams in L.A. and was a fan favorite, but with waning playing time, Shaquille O’Neal being traded to the Miami HEAT and Kobe Bryant seriously considering testing free agency himself, Fisher felt it was time to move on. Considering the Golden State Warriors offered him a six-year, $37 million deal and a guaranteed starting role, he had no choice but to leave. Less than three seasons later, Fisher was a member of the Utah Jazz when his daughter would be diagnosed with a disease that simply couldn’t be properly treated in Salt Lake City. Fisher requested his release so he could move to a city in which medical specialists were nearby. Benevolently, the Jazz acquiesced, and guess which city had the best combination of doctors and basketball prowess? Before the 2007-08 season, Fisher re-signed with the Lakers and made three consecutive NBA Finals trips with L.A. He made another one in 2012 with the Thunder, which is why they brought him back for a second stint only a few months after losing him to Dallas.

#2 – Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns (1996-1998, 2004-2012) – Nash was okay in his first two seasons in the league with Phoenix, but he wasn’t necessarily a show-stopper yet. Still, he was good enough for Dallas to give up three players and a first-round pick for him, and it was in Dallas that Nash really made a name for himself. After the 2004 season, Mark Cuban’s Mavs felt that at age 30, a high-priced, long-term extension for Nash simply wasn’t the smartest business decision, but they couldn’t have known how very wrong they’d be. Nash followed the money and went back to Phoenix, where he won two MVP awards and was productive well into his late 30s before a trade to L.A. and injuries finally slowed him down.

#1 – LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (2003-2010, 2014-present) – The story has been well-told by now, but never has a player of James’ caliber left a team and then returned to that same franchise, all while still in his prime. It’s impossible to know if the Cavaliers will win any championships with him, but there’s no questioning that this is the biggest player return in the history of the sport, by far.

Honorable Mention:

Scottie Pippen, Chicago Bulls (1987-1998, 2003-2004) – After leaving the Bulls in 1998 when Michael Jordan retired, Pippen experienced some success with the Houston Rockets and especially the Portland Trail Blazers. In his last season as a pro, however, Chicago brought him back so he could retire in Chicago. This was in 2003 when there wasn’t a lot of good things happening with the Bulls, and at 38 years old Pip didn’t have a whole lot of gas left in the tank, but it was nice to see a legend finish his career in the city that made him a star.

Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando Magic (2004-2009, 2010-2013) – Turkoglu undoubtedly played his best pro ball as a key member of the 2009 Magic team that made the NBA Finals but that was a contract year for Turkoglu, and he turned his great performance into a monster deal with the Toronto Raptors. It wouldn’t work out well for Turkoglu in Canada, and he’d be traded to the Phoenix Suns just a year later. Less than a year after that, the Magic reacquired him, but he didn’t fare quite as well the second time around. His first half-season with Orlando went relatively well, but he only played in 11 games the next season, marking the end of his time with the Magic. Again.

Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers (1996-2006, 2010) – Starting in 2004, Iverson began having some problems with the Sixers, for whom he had previously won an MVP trophy and led to the NBA Finals, and over the next 24 months those issues would continue to escalate with Iverson skipping practices, showing up late to games and missing team events off the court. It eventually led to a trade with the Denver Nuggets, where Iverson still managed to score a ton of points in his first season outside of Philly. In the next few seasons, though, he’d end up in Detroit and (very briefly) in Memphis—none of which worked out well for him. In the latter portion of his last season, his former team gave him a chance to redeem himself and brought The Answer back to Philadelphia. It would be the last 25 games he’d play in the league.

Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks (1994-1996, 2008-2012) – Despite the fact that Kidd led the league in triple-doubles in his rookie season and split the Rookie of the Year award with Grant Hill in 1995, Dallas’s vision of building a team around Kidd, Jamal Mashburn and Jim Jackson never really came to fruition, so they traded him to Phoenix very early in his career for several players including Michael Finley and Sam Cassell. Twelve years later, after spending his best professional years in Phoenix and New Jersey, the Mavericks traded for a 34-year-old Kidd and hoped that adding him to a good veteran team would help push the squad to a championship. Kidd and the Mavericks ended up winning a title in 2011, so the second stint worked out well for both parties.

Antoine Walker, Boston Celtics (1996-2003, 2005) – Despite the fact that Walker and Boston teammate Paul Pierce had experienced huge success in their years together on the Celtics, by 2003 it was starting to become clear that the duo wasn’t going to win a championship. Walker was traded to Dallas, where he didn’t play anywhere near the minutes he was accustomed to, and then moved again that offseason to Atlanta. After only a half a season with the Hawks, the Celtics re-acquired him, played him for 24 games and then shipped him off yet again the next summer as part of the largest trade (13 players) in league history.

Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons (2001-2006, 2009-2012) – Wallace won a championship, made four All-Star teams and won four NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards while a member of the Detroit Pistons the first time around. But the minute he signed a four-year, $60 million deal with the Chicago Bulls, he seemed to have lost much of his former athleticism. The Pistons brought him back in 2009 out of sheer desperation for size, and Big Ben did fairly well in his second go-round with Detroit—even if that time he did it without that fantastic afro.

Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors (1959-1962) and Philadelphia 76ers (1965-1968) – Wilt never played for the same franchise twice, but he did play for the same city twice. Does that count?

Here are some other notable players who did two separate stints with the same team:

  • Brad Miller, Chicago Bulls (2000-2002, 2009-2010)
  • Manute Bol, Washington Bullets (1985-1988, 1993), Golden State Warriors (1988-1990, 1994-1995), Philadelphia 76ers (1990-1993, 1994)
  • Al Harrington, Indiana Pacers (1998-2004, 2006)
  • Joe Smith, Philadelphia 76ers (1998, 2006-2007), Minnesota Timberwolves (1998-2000, 2001-2003), Cleveland Cavaliers (2008, 2009)
  • Derrick Coleman, Philadelphia 76ers (1995-1998, 2001-2004)
  • Artis Gilmore, Chicago Bulls (1978-1982, 1987)
  • Horace Grant, Orlando Magic (1994-1999, 2001-2003)
  • Spud Webb, Atlanta Hawks (1985-1991, 1995-1996)
  • Tim Thomas, New York Knicks (2004-2005, 2008-2009), Chicago Bulls (2005, 2009)
  • A.C. Green, L.A. Lakers (1985-1993, 1999-2000)
  • Chris Gatling, Miami HEAT (1996, 2001-2002)
  • Delonte West, Boston Celtics (2004-2007, 2010-2011)
  • Steve Blake, Portland Trail Blazers (2005-2006, 2007-2010)
  • Theo Ratliff, Detroit Pistons (1995-1997, 2007-2008), Philadelphia 76ers (1997-2001, 2008-2009)
  • Shane Battier, Memphis Grizzlies (2001-2006, 2011)
  • Mike Miller, Memphis Grizzlies (2002-2008, 2013)
  • Kirk Hinrich, Chicago Bulls (2003-2010, 2012-present)
  • Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns (2008-2010, 2012-present)
  • Trevor Ariza, Houston Rockets (2009-2010, 2014-present)

One on One With Kris Humphries

Washington Wizards big man Kris Humphries talks about joining a new team, playing with All-Star point guard John Wall, his expectations for next season and much more in this exclusive interview with Basketball Insiders:


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A Few Good Free Agents Left

David Yapkowitz looks at several free agents still remaining on the market ahead of the season.

David Yapkowitz



The start of the 2017-2018 NBA season is finally here, and teams are required to have their 15-man roster (plus two possible two-way contacts) finalized. Every year there are players that are left off a roster. Some are younger guys who maybe haven’t proven they belong in the league just yet. Some are older veterans looking for that one final hurrah.

A few of these players might take open gigs in the G-League or overseas in hopes of attracting the attention of NBA front offices as the year goes on. Others remain at home, working out and waiting for that call that might never come. And sometimes, the waiting and anticipating pays off as playoff teams come looking for veteran help and tanking teams are on the hunt for unrealized potential.

For most of the veteran guys, their opportunities will likely come later in the season when teams gear up for the playoffs. Here’s a look at a few of the top veteran free agents left that could certainly help a team at some point during this season.

David Lee

Since being traded from the Golden State Warriors to the Boston Celtics three year ago, Lee has adapted to his new role as a veteran big man helping to anchor second units. He is no longer the automatic double-double machine and borderline All-Star he once was, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anything left in the tank.

He didn’t really fit quite right in Boston, but in his stops with the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, he still showed he can be a solid contributor off the bench. In 25 games with Mavericks in the 2015-2016 season, Lee put up 8.5 points per game on 63.6 percent shooting while pulling down seven rebounds per. With the Spurs last year, he averaged 7.3 points on 59 percent shooting to go along with 5.6 rebounds. For a playoff team that needs a little big man depth, he is a solid option.

Deron Williams

Much was made about Williams’ disappearing act in the Finals last year, and rightfully so, but lost in all the chatter was the actual solid job he did with the Cleveland Cavaliers leading up to that point. Once in the conversation for best point guard in the league, injuries and poor play in Brooklyn sort of made Williams a forgotten man. The Nets bought out his contract and he joined his hometown Dallas Mavericks.

After a so-so first year in Dallas, Williams looked rejuvenated last year to the point that he actually drew some interest around the trade deadline. With the Mavericks looking to get younger and head closer to that rebuilding path, they cut Williams and allowed him to join a contending team. Over the final 24 games of last season, including four starts, he averaged 7.5 points per game on 46.3 percent shooting, 41.5 percent from the three-point line, and 3.6 assists. Of course, his Finals performance is all anyone cares to remember, but if a team needs a veteran backup point guard, they could do a lot worse.

Monta Ellis

Last season in Indiana, Ellis posted some of the lowest numbers of his career since his rookie season. Heading into a rebuilding year, the Pacers waived Ellis and his name barely came up in free agent rumors during the summer. At his best, Ellis was a borderline All-Star talent who could put up points in a hurry. Despite his reputation as a gunner, Ellis was a bit of an underrated playmaker and was never as bad defensively as most made him out to be.

He never really seemed to find his groove in Indiana. In his first year with the Pacers during the 2015-2016 season, he posted 13.8 points per game, down from 18.9 the previous year in Dallas, and his shooting dropped from 44.5 percent from the field to 42.7 percent. His playoff numbers with the Pacers were down even more than his regular season numbers, despite exploding in the postseason a few years before with Dallas. His starting days are almost assuredly behind him, but as a sixth man type scorer bringing energy off the bench, he’s probably better than a lot of the players currently in that role.

Leandro Barbosa

The Brazilian Blur’s best days are behind him, but similar to Ellis, he can still help a team in need of additional scoring punch off the bench. It was only two years ago that he was a key contributor off the Warriors bench. Firmly on the rebuilding track, the Suns waived Barbosa during the summer. Despite still being a capable player, his name also rarely came up in the free agent rumor mill.

He didn’t play all that much last season for a Phoenix Suns team that is clearly rebuilding, but he still was able to average 6.3 points per game in only 14.4 minutes per. His role on a rebuilding team would be a veteran mentor, but for a playoff team, he’s not a bad option. He showed that he can still play at the NBA level despite losing a step or two. Perhaps later on in the season when teams start looking for playoff help is when he may find his phone starting to ring.

Derrick Williams

The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations that come with being drafted that high. He’s only averaged double figures (12.0) in scoring once in his career and that was during the 2012-2013 season. When he came into the league, he didn’t really have much of a set position. He was a tweener, somewhere in between small forward and power forward. That was prior to the changes occurring in today’s NBA with more of a premium on stretch big men.

During Williams’ time in Cleveland last season, he played in 25 games and averaged 6.2 points per game. What stood out most, however, was his shooting. He shot 50.5 percent from the field, including 40.4 percent from the three-point line, both career-highs. Shooting from long range was always a bit of a weakness for him and prior to last season, he had never shot higher than 33.2 percent from downtown. He also didn’t register much chatter by way of free agent rumors, but if he can reproduce shooting percentages like that, he fits right in with the direction of the league.

With league rosters pretty much set, there likely won’t be much roster movement, if any at all, for the next few months. Teams are looking to see how their new summer acquisitions work out. But after a few months of real game action, other roster needs start to become more apparent. Don’t be surprised if come the new year, teams start knocking on a few of these player’s doorsteps.

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NBA PM: The Wizards Are “More Than Ready” For A Big Year

Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal says his team is “more than ready” for the start of the NBA season.

Buddy Grizzard



With several teams in the Eastern Conference taking a step back, the Washington Wizards will be one of the beneficiaries due to roster continuity. Shooting guard Bradley Beal, one of several key Wizards signed to a long-term contract, said the team is “more than ready” for the season and has large expectations.

“This is going to be a big year for us,” said Beal after a Monday practice. “We’re healthy. There’s no excuse for us [not to] get off to a good start.”

Beal added that, while health is a key for the entire roster, it’s especially important for him after struggling with injuries in the past.

“It’s really a confidence booster, realizing my potential, what I can be, the type of player I can be when I had a healthy season,” said Beal of last year’s campaign. “That’s probably what I was more proud of than anything, playing 70-plus games and then playing in the playoffs every game.”

In Basketball Insiders’ season preview for the Wizards, we noted that Beal was Washington’s most efficient ball handler in the pick and roll last season. Beal said that creating for teammates is something he’s worked on in the offseason and will continue to be a point of emphasis.

“That was great for me and the strides I made throughout the year, working on my ball handling, working on creating for other guys and getting my own shot,” said Beal. “Those are the primary things I’m focused on … being able to create better, getting guys easier shots than before, getting more assists and improve everywhere.”

Wizards coach Scott Brooks said after Friday’s preseason finale in New York that he’s been encouraged by the ball movement he has seen since the start of camp.

“I thought a lot of good things happened in training camp,” said Brooks. “The ball movement was outstanding. Guys were sacrificing for one another on the offensive end.”

One thing that should help the ball movement of the second unit is the arrival of backup point guard Tim Frazier, who missed most of the preseason due to a strained groin. Frazier had nine assists and no turnovers in his preseason debut against the Miami HEAT.

“I feel very comfortable with Tim,” said Brooks. “He finds corner threes, which we like.”

Beal added that one area he hopes to improve, both individually and as a team, is rebounding.

“I think I only had like three rebounds [per game] last year,” said Beal. “I obviously love scoring the ball. That’s something I never worry about. I want to continue to fill up the stat sheet a little bit more and contribute to the game in different areas. I think rebounding was something that hurt us a little bit last year.”

The Wizards host the Philadelphia 76ers to open the season Wednesday, and Brooks said it will take a team effort to defend emerging star Joel Embiid.

“He’s a problem,” said Brooks after Sunday’s practice. “His athleticism is off the charts. We’re going to have to do a good job of staying in front of him. You’re talking about a guy that can put the ball on the floor, that can get to spaces and spots that normally a 6-10 guy doesn’t.”

With a revamped bench, roster continuity and good health entering the season, the Wizards look like a team that could challenge the Cavaliers, Celtics and Raptors for supremacy in the East. Beal certainly seems to think so.

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NBA Opening Night Storylines

Hours before the 2017-18 season gets set to tip off, here are some storylines to follow for Tuesday’s games.

Dennis Chambers



The long summer is over. We finally made it. NBA opening night is upon us.

Rejoice, hoop heads.

Because the NBA is a perfect concoction of chaos at all times, Tuesday’s opening night slate has some can’t-miss built in headlines that the entire league is going to be glued to.

With a new year set to begin, everyone is on the same page. Whether that page includes the likes of Kevin Durant and Steph Curry or Doug McDermott and Tim Hardaway Jr. is a different story. But still, Tuesday marks day one for all teams and as it stands they’re all equal.

As we get set to sit down and dissect these opening game matchups on Tuesday, let’s highlight the most intriguing storylines that will be followed for the rest of the season. There’s nothing like watching a story grown in the NBA from its inception, right?

Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers — 8 p.m. ET (TNT)

This is the game we’ve all been waiting for since late June, when Kyrie Irving let it be known to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert that he wanted out from under LeBron’s shadow.

Three years of NBA Finals appearances, the greatest comeback in basketball history, and a ring to show for was all Irving wanted to walk away from. For him, he felt it was his time to shine.

And because the NBA is the perfect mix of beautiful insanity, it would only make sense that Irving would get dealt to the very team that is jostling for position to unseat the Cavs and King James.

The Irving-led Boston Celtics will have to wait a grand total of one second in the new NBA season to begin their matchup with their point guards old teammates and the team that stands in between them a Finals appearance. With Gordon Hayward and Irving together for the first time against meaningful competition, there’s no better way than to check their fit from the jump than by challenging the conference champions in their building.

But Irving’s homecoming isn’t the only storyline heading into the first game of the season. There are some changes on Cleveland’s end as well.

While the main return for Irving — Isaiah Thomas — won’t be suiting up for the Cavs anytime soon due to injury, there are still plenty of new faces to keep an eye on Tuesday night. First and foremost, Flash is in town. After having his contract bought out by the Chicago Bulls, Dwyane Wade joined forces with his buddy in The Land in hopes of recapturing some of the magic that led them to two championships in South Beach.

By teaming up once again, James and Wade provide some of the best chemistry in the league. Yes, Wade isn’t the player he once was when he and James were winning rings. But something is to be said for knowing exactly where someone will be on the court at all times, and that’s the trait exactly that Wade and James share.

Along with Wade, James and the Cavs are hoping to get some type of resurgence from Derrick Rose and Jeff Green off of the bench. Once Thomas returns to the court for Cleveland, this is arguably the deepest team James has ever been around in Cleveland.

Even with Irving and Hayward on board, Boston will be relying on some role players of their own — namely Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The back-to-back third overall picks will occupy most of the time at the forward spots opposite of Hayward. As the season moves on, the development of both of these wings will be crucial to how dangerous the Celtics can be past their two star players.

Tuesday night will be must-see television at Quicken Loans Arena. New eras for the Eastern Conference heavyweights are about to begin.

And as James told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, “The Kid” will be just fine.

Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors — 10:30 p.m. ET (TNT)

On the Western side of the basketball landscape Tuesday night, the potential conference finals matchup will see its first act when the revamped Rockets head to the Bay Area.

Last season at this time, the basketball world was bracing for what the Warriors would look like after adding Kevin Durant to a 73-win team. And as expected, they dominated. Not even LeBron James could put a stop to them, managing just one win in their finals bout.

This year brings in more of the same questions. Can anyone stop the Warriors? Will Golden State just steamroll their way to another championship, effectively sucking the fun of competition out of the entire league?

Well, a few teams this offseason did their best to try and combat that narrative. One of them being the Rockets, who they added perennial all-star point guard Chris Paul to their backcourt.

Putting Paul in the same backcourt as superstar James Harden has the potential to create some of the biggest headaches for opposing teams. The constant ball movement and open looks the two star guards can provide are nearly endless.

While the league swoons over the Warriors’ ability to hit shots from well beyond the arc, it should be noted that it was Houston last year that led the NBA in three-point shooting, not Golden State. It’s certainly not wise to try and go toe-to-toe with the Warriors at their own game, but if there’s ever a team equipped to do it, it’s Houston. Tuesday night will provide a nice preview look at how things in the Western Conference could shake out in the coming months.

Aside from the barrage of scoring that will take place in this matchup, what would a big game be for the Warriors without a little Draymond Green trash talk?

After Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni told ESPN that, “You’re not gonna stop them. It’s just not gonna happen. They’re not gonna stop us, either,” Green clapped back with a comment of his own, as he always does.

“I don’t know how serious they take defense with that comment,” Green said. “But they added some good defensive players.”

It’s true, the Rockets aren’t considered a defensive stalwart by any means. Last season, Houston was 26th in points allowed, compared to second in points scored. Green may be onto something when it comes to questioning how serious his opponents take defense.

That being said, last year’s Rockets didn’t feature Paul. Even at the age of 32, Paul is still one of the league’s best on-ball defenders. And no matter his age, he’ll always possess that competitive fire he’s been known for over the last 12 years.

Going up against the Warriors at Oracle is usually nothing short of impossible, but if there’s going to be a team to challenge their supremacy this season, we’ll get a good look at how they stack up on night one.

With all of this in mind, let’s not forget that the world’s best league is finally back in action. Give yourself a pat on the back, you made it. Now, go enjoy some basketball.

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