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Start the Linsanity again


Start the Linsanity again

Linsanity has moved on from New York and now resides in Houston.

The Rockets' big summer move was inking guard Jeremy Lin to a huge three-year, 25-million free-agent deal, whisking him away from New York where he blew on to the NBA scene last season, averaging 14 points and 6 assists for the Knicks. Out of options at point guard, the Knicks turned to the Harvard grad Lin and he responded with a memorable January, scoring 20 points and 8 assists to help the Knicks win seven straight games.

Lin's season was cut short by a knee injury and he was a restricted-free agent this summer and the common thought was the Knicks would keep the fan favorite, but the Rockets offered Lin a deal that New York refused to match.

Besides scooping up Lin, the Rockets made several other off-season moves that will give the team a much different look in the 2012-13 season.

The Rockets opened up theirpocketbooks for Chicago's back-up center Omer Asik, inking the big man to a three-year, 25-million deal. Asik averaged only 3 points and 5 rebounds in 14 minutes a game for the Bulls last season. Signing Lin to a big contract was certainly a risk but getting Asik for this amount is a huge gamble by GM Daryl Morey. Asik will be the opening day starter and he certainly will have to be more productive than he was in Chicago even though it was a back-up role there.

Through various trades, Houston had three first-round draft picks. With the 12th overall pick, the Rockets drafted swing man Jeremy Lamb. The 6'-5 lanky guard likelywouldhave been a top 10 pick after his freshman season last year, but he returned to school and his stock dropped as UConn struggled this past season. The 6'-5" Lamb has a 7-foot wingspan and has shown he can score the ball, averaging 17 points a game for the Huskies. He is certainly an intriguing prospect whose game may translate better at the pro level.

At 16, Houston selected Iowa State banger Royce White who could turnoutto be another steal. In one season at Iowa State, the 6'-8" small forward led his team in all statistical categories. White had lottery talent but teams may have shied away from him because of past issues off-the court and his fear of flying.

The Rockets also took forward Terrence Jones with the 18th pick in the first round. Jones averaged 12 points on a pro-heavy national title team in Kentucky and he is another athletic swing man on the Rockets roster.

The Rockets said goodbye to power forward Luis Scola and will say hello to the 2011 first-round pick in Donetas Montiejunas who stayed in Europe last season. In four summer league games, the 7-footer averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds a game, showing glimpses perhaps of good things to come.

Houston went 34-32 under first-year coach Kevin McHale and the team missed the playoffs for thefourthstraight season. With a ton of new faces on the roster and with Lin leading the way, it should be an intriguing year in Houston -- but the Rockets will be on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs.

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Washington Wizards hire assistant coach Michael Longabardi to Scott Brooks coaching staff

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Washington Wizards hire assistant coach Michael Longabardi to Scott Brooks coaching staff

The Wizards sought to add an assistant coach with a strong defensive track record this offseason and they did just that Saturday evening by hiring Michael Longabardi, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes. 

Longardi, 46, has spent the last three seasons as a defensive coach on the Cleveland Cavaliers' staff. He was initially hired by former Cavs' head coach Tyronn Lue in 2016 when the team claimed their first championship in franchise history. 

Before joining the Cavaliers, Longabardi held assistant coaching roles with the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, and most notably the Boston Celtics, in which he and Lue served under head coach Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau from 2007 to 2013.

Longabardi was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Xaverian High School, a private Catholic school. He then went on to play basketball at Newberry College where he earned the nickname "Mr. Defense."

Just a day after reports broke that Tommy Sheppard would be promoted to a permanent general manager position, the organization is making yet another move in hopes of improving overall culture and team defense.


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Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

The process took nearly four months, yet the Wizards ultimately didn't look far for their new general manager, as the team is removing the interim tag from Tommy Sheppard. The longtime NBA executive will now finally get a chance to run his own operation.

Sheppard may not have been the first choice among fans initially when it was announced he would fill in for Ernie Grunfeld, who was dismissed from his post as team president on April 2, but over the past few months he has acclimated himself well, showing in many ways he is prepared to lead a team as the top person in charge. He cleaned up the Wizards' salary cap situation as best he could, giving them some newfound financial flexibility beyond next season.

Sheppard did that while flooding the roster with young, cheap and high-upside players. And he did so by making some tough decisions, ones that helped demonstrate he can provide an organizational reset despite his role in the previous regime. 

Sheppard allowed Tomas Satoransky to walk in free agency despite being central in bringing him to the Wizards, first by scouting him overseas and then by convincing him to join the NBA ranks. He let Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker leave even though he was part of the braintrust that traded for them. And he traded Dwight Howard, again despite playing a role in bringing him to Washington.

Sheppard has operated with impartiality when the team needed him to. What he has done this offseason looks a lot like it probably would have if the Wizards had hired someone from the outside.

How Sheppard navigated the Wizards through the draft and free agency was central in why managing partner Ted Leonsis decided to elevate him to the long-term post. The last several weeks were treated as a "trial run," according to a person familiar with the process.

Sheppard worked closely with the team's ownership group, giving them written proposals for his plans that addressed goals, budget and contingencies. It was a collaborative effort to make the Wizards' roster younger, cheaper and harder working. They also set out to add more international players and accomplished that by drafting Rui Hachimura and by trading for Davis Bertans, Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga.

Sheppard impressed Leonsis especially during the effort to re-sign Thomas Bryant. Bryant has become a favorite of Leonsis' for his consistent effort, character and enthusiasm. Sheppard and the Wizards were able to agree with Bryant on a new contract the night free agency began. It was quick and painless.

Sheppard himself will be signing a new contract, NBC Sports Washington was told. And there will be major changes to the organizational structure announced this coming week. In the basketball operations side, the team will heavily expand their investment in analytics, by "triple" according to a person familiar with their plans. They will also beef up their scouting department with an eye on Africa and Latin America.

Sheppard has done a nice job for the Wizards but the real work in many ways about to begin. Dismantling an NBA roster is not as difficult as building a contender. Now he has to find pieces to build around John Wall and Bradley Beal that can help the team win something of substance. 

Sheppard will have to do that within the constraints of Wall's supermax contract. And he will have to sort out Beal's future, which could take a turn later this month. 

On July 26, the Wizards can officially offer Beal a contract extension worth approximately $111 million over three years. But there is a long list of clues that suggest he will not take the offer.

How Sheppard, Beal and the Wizards handle the fallout in the event he turns them down would be a test in itself. Maybe they spin it simply as Beal betting on himself. If he makes All-NBA next season, he could make well over $200 million with a five-year supermax.

For Sheppard, the hard work is about to start. He is set to guide the Wizards into a new era, one he and the team hope can reach a higher peak than the last.