Basketball Insiders Week in Review 11/2

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Reggie Jackson is a Keeper

By Moke Hamilton

Let’s play make believe.

You’re a standout free agent who has played 10 years in the league. Let’s say you’re 29 years old and seeking a maximum contract.

You get the meeting you coveted with the team of your dreams and have an opportunity to ask the owner one question before you sign on the dotted line and commit yourself to spending the next four years with this franchise.

What do you ask?

My question would be simple.

Do you value winning a championship more than your bottom line?

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Jack Ready to Make Noise on Nets with Vocal Leadership

By Jessica Camerato

Jarrett Jack ran the ball up the court during a mid-July pickup game at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. His voice traveled through the gym as he began calling out to his teammates before he reached half court. The basketball and his mouth moved simultaneously.

“Good shot!” he yelled on offense.

“I got ball!” he bellowed on defense.

“Talk to me! Talk to me! Talk to me!” he repeated throughout the game, constantly urging his teammates to increase their communication.

The fact it was an offseason workout was irrelevant to Jack. Being a vocal leader is a year-round role the Brooklyn Nets point guard has embraced.

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Dirk Nowitzki Disappointed by Steve Nash’s Latest Setback

By Cody Taylor

Perhaps the biggest story to come out of the preseason thus far has been the news regarding the future of Steve Nash. The Los Angeles Lakers announced on Thursday that Nash will miss the entire 2014-15 season due to a lingering back injury. Considering everything that Nash has accomplished throughout his 18-year career, the news left many disappointed, including former Dallas Mavericks teammate Dirk Nowitzki.

“He started off well in Los Angeles and then he broke the bone in his leg and kind of messed up his nerves so it’s been a tough couple of seasons for him at the end,” Nowitzki told Basketball Insiders. “I think he would have been fine if he wouldn’t have broken his leg, I think he could have still played at a high level because he’s so smart and he still moved okay, but once that happened it’s tough.”

Nash was traded to the Mavericks during the offseason in 1998 after his second season with the Phoenix Suns and was paired up with Nowitzki the next season during Dirk’s rookie year.

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Who’s Got Next in 2014-15: Centers

By EJ Ayala

Today, we’ll look at the next crop of players from the center spot who show the type of budding talent that fan bases hope will pay dividends sooner rather than later. We are no longer in the era of dominant big men. That being said, there is plenty of talent in the league and a big man with skills at the center spot is still very much valued. The old adage of you can’t teach height is something you will hear in NBA circles that still holds weight today. It’s the reason you will see big men drafted near the top of the draft time and time again, even if the prospect may appear to be unpolished as many teams in the league hope to find the next Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon or Bill Russell.

Right now, the cream of the crop are veteran players such as Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah, Al Jefferson, Marc Gasol, Al Horford and (when healthy) Brook Lopez. These are guys that your team can count on to perform at an elite level every night. Joining them, you also have players who have started to mature early, showing they can produce at a high level such as Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. So who’s next in line you might ask? Which big men have the talent to take things to the next level?

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Tyrus Thomas Determined to Resume NBA Career

By Alex Kennedy

Tyrus Thomas had always been successful. As a high school star in Baton Rouge, he nearly averaged a triple-double and was honored as one of Louisiana’s best players. In his lone collegiate season at LSU, his incredible athleticism allowed him to become the team’s starting power forward and fill the stat sheet. He was named the SEC Freshman of the Year, leading the program to their first Final Four since 1986 and earning the Most Valuable Player award of his tournament region. Shortly after, Thomas was the fourth overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.

A rocky seven-year NBA career followed and then Thomas experienced what he calls “one of the hardest times of my life.”

Thomas disappeared from the spotlight after being amnestied by the Charlotte Bobcats in July of 2013. In addition to losing his career and stepping away from the game he loved, Thomas also went through a divorce and what could have been a career-ending surgery to remove a cyst from his back.

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Was Bulls’ Nikola Mirotić Worth the Wait?

By Joel Brigham

There’s a reason that the Chicago Bulls have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of rookie big man Nikola Mirotić, and it has everything to do with his decorated career in Spain over the course of the last five years. During that time, he won a Spanish League MVP award, two Spanish King’s Cup championships and two Spanish Supercup championships.

He’s a unique big man in that he has a nose for rebounding but can also score the ball from all over the floor. He’s been an exciting prospect to follow since being drafted in the first round back in 2011. He was the 23rd overall pick despite the fact that every team knew it would be at least three seasons before he made his way to the NBA, which just shows how talented he is and how excited Chicago must have been to get him over to the U.S. this summer.

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Defending a Title Isn’t Easy

By Steve Kyler

There is a reason that sports teams rarely repeat as champions. It’s hard to keep all the little motivations and situations that converge to create success all together after you have won. Contracts come into play. Roles get redefined. Players get older. It’s not easy to repeat in sports.

The San Antonio Spurs open their regular season on Tuesday with their 2014 NBA championship ring ceremony, and while they have long been the gold standard other teams strive to emulate, this year they also open the season as the hunted since they’re the reigning champs.

As much as the Spurs tried to keep things the same – returning virtually everyone from last season’s team – the preseason hasn’t reflected the continuity and momentum the team had hoped for.

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NBA Trade Watch: Central Division

By John Zitzler

After taking a look at the players most likely to be traded in the Southeast Division, we take a look at the Central Division.

Trade rumors fly each and every year. Things really tend to heat up around the trade deadline when contenders try to find that missing piece and rebuilding teams look to add young talent and/or draft picks. Inevitably many names will be mentioned as trade candidates as the deadline approaches, with many of those rumors never coming to fruition. While many trade rumors may turn out to be just that – rumors – there are always a few deals that get done during the season. Here is a list of six players in the Central Division who may end up playing elsewhere by season’s end.


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Ryan Gomes Axes deal in Spain; Orlando Johnson, D.J. White Next?

By David Pick

Spanish power-club Laboral Kutxa Vitoria – Baskonia in short – have kicked off its season on the wrong foot.

Led by head coach Marco Crespi, an Italian tactician and former scout for the Boston Celtics, Baskonia put together a promising squad. However, over the weekend, wind has shifted in Espana as multiple players have either left or are leaning toward a split.

Small forward Ryan Gomes, a 32-year-old former NBA veteran who once suited up for the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder, recently cut ties with the club.

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Julius Randle is Irreplaceable for the Lakers

By Yannis Koutroupis

The injury bug has taken a bite out of the Los Angeles Lakers once again, this time claiming heralded rookie Julius Randle. Randle suffered a broken leg in his NBA debut last night against the Houston Rockets and, after a successful operation this morning, he has been ruled out for the rest of the season, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. This comes less than a week after finding out that projected starting point guard Steve Nash would miss the season in its entirety as well due to nerve issues in his back.

As much as the loss of Nash hurt the Lakers, there were minimal expectations for the future Hall of Fame point guard because of how much trouble he’s had over the last two years. They brought in Jeremy Lin this offseason largely because of his ability to handle starter’s minutes in the case that Nash wouldn’t be able to play a significant role. Veteran lead guard Ronnie Price was also a late addition brought in primarily as insurance in case Nash got hurt. Based off of what the Lakers have gotten from Nash the last two years, replacing him wasn’t difficult. In fact, it’s something Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak planned to do in the final year of his contract when he first signed it.

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NBA Trade Watch: Southwest Division

By Mary Stevens

The NBA season is underway and while the action on the court is exciting, the action off the court can also be intriguing. Trades in the NBA can come at anytime and it keeps players, teams, reporters and fans on their edge of their seats until the trade deadline hits on Feb. 19, 2015 at 3 p.m. EST. This is one of the most unpredictable and interesting times of the season and while rumors are always circulating, only a few trades happen each year.

Here is a list of five players from the Southwest Division that could be moved prior to the deadline for one reason or another:

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Recapping the 2014 Rookie-Contract Extensions

By Jesse Blancarte

Yesterday was the deadline for first-round picks from the 2011 draft to agree to an extension of their rookie contracts. This year’s extension class featured a lot of quality players, but many of them are not clearly worth max-money. Further complicating matters for this year’s extension candidates is the uncertainty created by the NBA’s recently agreed to TV deal with ESPN and Turner Sports, which will cause a significant rise in the salary cap.

With this in mind, here is a recap of which notable 2011 first-round draft picks agreed to an extension with their teams, and which are heading to restricted free agency next offseason (Note: this list excludes players that have fallen out of the league completely and those who are not extension eligible this season due to staying in overseas for a season or more).

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