When the Portland Trail Blazers decide to rebuild, they don't shy away from gutting the roster and starting fresh. That desire to start anew is what compelled their decisions to deal Marcus Camby and Gerald Wallace in two separate deals today, and it's likely that more are on the way.
However, in order to raze the present to build for the future, the Blazers had to take on four players (specifically: Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams, Jonny Flynn, and Hasheem Thabeet) for the two that left. With 17 players on the roster, they must now cut two to get down to the league maximum of 15. And while it typically wouldn't be notable for a team to cut an injured big man set to become a free agent in a few months, most players weren't picked ahead of Kevin Durant in the draft or once discussed as the best center prospect of a generation. Yet, as first reported by Joe Freeman (no relation) of the The Oregonian on Twitter (via Blazersedge.com), the Trail Blazers have decided to waive Greg Oden (7'0''-C-88, college: Ohio St.) and fellow center Chris Johnson (6'11''-C-85, college: LSU).
Oden was likely not going to be re-signed by Portland, and after playing just 82 games in five seasons it's hard to expect anything of him on the basketball court. As we've said several times before, he's not so much a basketball player these days as the idea of one, and until he proves that his knees can withstand sustained basketball activity it's hard to imagine teams giving him much of a shot. The next step for Oden might be a stint in the D-League, or even retirement.
Yet, no matter how little anyone expects of Oden on the court these days, his release from Portland is notable if only because it represents the official end of an era. When the Blazers drafted him in 2007, they had dreams of a star trio of Oden, Brandon Roy, and LaMarcus Aldridge that would lead them to several championships and more than a decade as serious contenders. As long as Oden was on the roster, he brought back memories of those past expectations. At a time when the Blazers are searching for a new long-term plan, it made sense for them to part ways with the biggest symbol of the previous era. With any luck, the end of this relationship will give Oden some renewed life, as well.
Lakers begin post-Kobe Bryant era with a 120-114 win over Rockets - 13 hours ago
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The Lakers rung in the post-Kobe Bryant era with a 120-114 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. In front of a capacity crowd at the Staples Center, Jordan Clarkson (6'5''-G-92, college: Missouri) led the Lakers with 25 points in 24 minutes off the bench. The third-year guard made eight of his 12 field goal attempts, and made three key plays in the game's final moments. James Harden (6'5''-SG-89, college: Arizona St.), in his first game as the Rockets' starting point guard, fin... [read more]
The Lakers rung in the post-Kobe Bryant era with a 120-114 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. In front of a capacity crowd at the Staples Center, Jordan Clarkson (6'5''-G-92, college: Missouri) led the Lakers with 25 points in 24 minutes off the bench. The third-year guard made eight of his 12 field goal attempts, and made three key plays in the game's final moments. James Harden (6'5''-SG-89, college: Arizona St.), in his first game as the Rockets' starting point guard, finished with 34 points, 17 assists and eight rebounds. But it wasn't enough, as the Lakers inched past the Rockets for the shootout win. The Rockets sprinted up and down the court all night, and the Lakers seemed to be comfortable playing on the run. The Rockets are now led by former Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni, so it was not surprising that they played at a breakneck pace. Both teams shot well in the first half, which resulted in eye-popping scoring totals. The score was knotted, 38-38, after one quarter. The Rockets led 71-66 after two quarters. Harden had 16 points and 14 boards at the break. The Lakers were led by a balanced attack, as D'Angelo Russell (6'5''-SG-96, college: Ohio St.), Julius Randle (6'9''-F-94, college: Kentucky) and Timofey Mozgov (7'1''-C-86, agency: Stanislav Ryzhov) each scored 12 before halftime. Harden back at it at the start of the third, as he knifed into the lane before lobbing his third alley-oop to center Clint Capela. That gave him 16 assists while the Lakers, as a team, had 17. But Russell kept the Lakers just a small step behind, hitting a three to trim the deficit to two points with 5:57 left in the third. The three was Russell's fourth of the game, and gave him a game-high 19 to that point. After it rolled through the rim he turned to the crowd, turned his palms upward and smugly shrugged. They responded with a loud cheer, and D'Antoni called a timeout. At the start of the fourth, Harden went to the bench and the Lakers' second unit - made up of Clarkson, Louis Williams (6'1''-SG-86), Brandon Ingram (6'8''-SF-97, college: Duke), Larry Nance Jr. and Tarik Black - fought their way to a 100-100 tie with 8:31 left in the game. The game stayed on a see-saw from there, as the Lakers built a small lead only to see the Rockets knot the score once again. As the game clock dripped below two minutes, Clarkson nailed a three to give the Lakers' a four-point lead. One possession later, Clarkson collected a Nick Young (6'7''-G/F-85, college: USC) air ball and scored a second-chance layup off the backboard. Then he stripped Harden on a drive, and Randle hit a jump hook on the other end to stretch the lead to six. The Rockets called timeout with 45.2 seconds on the clock, and Clarkson sprinted to half court while flexing his muscles. He screamed, 'Let's go!' Russell ran into him in celebration, and they walked side-by-side to the bench sporting identical scowls. Shortly after, they hugged as blue and gold streamers fell from the ceiling. The Lakers, a team that is supposed to experience many growing pains this season, weren't plagued by their youth and inexperience on the season's opening night. Courtesy of: latimes.com
Turner's Opening Act Leads Pacers Past Mavs, 130-121 in OT - 13 hours ago
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Myles Turner (6'11''-C/F-96, college: Texas) scored 30 points, tied his career high with 16 rebounds and made a 3-pointer with 1:18 left in overtime to start an 8-0 run that allowed the Indiana Pacers to close out a 130-121 victory Wednesday night over the Dallas Mavericks. Three-time All-Star Paul George (6'9''-G/F-90, college: Fresno St.) added 25 points, including another 3 with 55 seconds left to seal Indiana's fifth season-opening win in six years. Deron Williams (6'3''-PG-84, colleg... [read more]
Myles Turner (6'11''-C/F-96, college: Texas) scored 30 points, tied his career high with 16 rebounds and made a 3-pointer with 1:18 left in overtime to start an 8-0 run that allowed the Indiana Pacers to close out a 130-121 victory Wednesday night over the Dallas Mavericks. Three-time All-Star Paul George (6'9''-G/F-90, college: Fresno St.) added 25 points, including another 3 with 55 seconds left to seal Indiana's fifth season-opening win in six years. Deron Williams (6'3''-PG-84, college: Illinois) scored 25 points, while J.J. Barea and Dirk Nowitzki (7'0''-F-78) each added 22 as the Mavs lost their fifth straight in the series. They still haven't won in Indianapolis since February 2014. Dallas didn't tie the score or take a lead until the fourth quarter, yet still forced overtime when Harrison Barnes (6'8''-F-92, college: N.Carolina)' open 3-pointer made it 115-all with 2.3 seconds left. Turner could have won it with a long buzzer-beating 3, but it bounced off the back of the rim. Courtesy of: abcnews.com
Heat begin new era with 108-96 win over Magic - 13 hours ago
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The Miami Heat have lost all their stars, but they didn't forget how to win. With a rebuilt roster that has little name recognition, the Heat used a well balanced attack, unusual energy and a newfound defensive toughness to open the season with a convincing, 108-96 victory over the Orlando Magic Wednesday night. Hassan Whiteside (7'0''-C-89, college: Marshall) had 18 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots, leading the Heat to their sixth consecutive, first-game victory, but their firs... [read more]
The Miami Heat have lost all their stars, but they didn't forget how to win. With a rebuilt roster that has little name recognition, the Heat used a well balanced attack, unusual energy and a newfound defensive toughness to open the season with a convincing, 108-96 victory over the Orlando Magic Wednesday night. Hassan Whiteside (7'0''-C-89, college: Marshall) had 18 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots, leading the Heat to their sixth consecutive, first-game victory, but their first without Dwayne Wade, who left for Chicago, and Chris Bosh, who remains sidelined by blood clots. "We need Hassan to be great, and he was when we needed him," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He really anchored us defensively and ignited everyone out there." The Heat unveiled a rebuilt team that showed exactly what they want to become. They had six players score in double figures and six players grab at least six rebounds, playing with the enthusiasm of a college team in a much-shorter season. They were up on the bench, cheering and back-slapping each other throughout the second half. "It's just Game 1, so it's early, but you're starting to see the foundation we want to build," Spoelstra said. "Guys really have to buy into the concept for this to work. You enjoy when it's being played the correct way out there." Justise Winslow (6'6''-F-96, college: Duke) had 15 points and eight rebounds. Goran Dragic (6'3''-PG-86) scored 16 points and added five assists. Reserve Tyler Johnson (6'4''-G-93, college: Fresno St.) had 13 points and six rebounds, while reserve forward James Johnson (6'9''-F-87, college: Wake Forest) had 11 points and six assists, and reserve center Willie Reed had 10 points and six rebounds. Magic guard Evan Fournier (6'6''-SG-92, agency: Comsport) led all scorers with 20 points, but he made only 7 of 19 shots from the field. Center Nikola Vucevic (7'0''-C-90, college: USC) had 17 points and 14 rebounds, followed by newly acquired Serge Ibaka with 14 points and seven rebounds, point guard Elfrid Payton (6'3''-G-94, college: La-Lafayette) with 14 points, and forward Aaron Gordon with 12 points and eight rebounds. "We weren't out there trying to make a statement, but just playing as a team shoulder to shoulder," Whiteside said. "We got guys with an edge to them, guys with amazing energy who want this team to succeed. And we can build on this." The Heat were never challenged seriously in the fourth quarter. The Magic never got closer than 10 points late in the game. The Magic, who also rebuilt their roster this summer, looked listless in the second half. A poor exhibition season carried into the regular season opener. "They picked up the intensity, and we didn't execute in the second half," Magic coach Frank Vogel said. "It's a long season, but clearly, we have to do better. This is not how we wanted to start." The Heat opened an 87-69 lead when they scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter, sparked by a 3-point play by Tyler Johnson. They led by as many as 19 points midway in the quarter. The Heat dominated the third quarter, turning a three-point halftime deficit into an 80-69 lead going into the fourth. Whiteside had eight points, five rebounds and two blocks in the third quarter. Heat guard Dion Waiters was called for a technical foul early in the third quarter after he scored on a layup but complained about a foul call not being called. Whiteside received a technical a few possessions later after he was called for goaltending and complained about it. That is when the Heat rose to the occasion and the Magic wilted. The Heat were much more physical throughout, outscoring the Magic, 74-36, in the lane. They outscored them 15-8 in fast-break points. They were more aggressive defensively, denying the Magic the plays they wanted to run. "We don't have a LeBron James or Steph Curry," Vucevic said. "We have good players who have to make each other better. Our offensive is pretty simple. We have to move the ball, cut hard, set screens, make extra passes. We didn't do that." Courtesy of: reuters.com
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