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December 18, 2009
On the Beat
Free Agents on the Move?

by John Perrotto

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Beginning Tuesday, NBA teams are allowed to trade players they signed as free agents last summer.

At the head of the list likely to be dealt is Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ramon Sessions. Stuck behind rookie starter Jonny Flynn, Sessions would seemingly be able to fetch something in return for the rebuilding Timberwolves.

Sessions, who signed a four-year, $16.4-million contract, has played well off the bench with a 105 Offensive Rating, 111 Defensive Rating and 22.8 assist percentage. He is averaging 21.8 minutes a game.

m being patient,” Sessions said. “I knew the situation coming in. Jonny is a great young guard. He needs to play. I'm not the type of guy who's going to complain about minutes. I'm just fortunate enough to be in this league. I'm living a dream, so I'm just taking it as that. If it's 14 minutes or 25 minutes, I'm just trying to be ready. We'll make it work.”

Another free agent who could be on the move is Portland Trail Blazers guard Andre Miller, who has split time with holdover Steve Blake at the point. Blazers star Brandon Roy has said publicly that he feels the offense runs better with Blake on the floor.

Miller, who has a three-year, $21-million contract, is averaging 27.1 minutes a game and has a 106 Offensive Rating, 107 Defensive Rating and 28.3 assist percentage. He has started at point guard the last two games, but both times Portland finished with a lineup of Blake and second-year guard Jerryd Bayless.

Improving Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies seemed on their way to a horrible season when they started 1-8. However, they have rebounded with nine wins in 16 games to raise their record to 10-16.

The Grizzlies point to a team meeting after a 104-79 loss to the Rockets in Houston on Nov. 11 as the turning point. It was on that night that the Grizzlies hit their low point at 1-8.

“We finally understood that we had to hold each other accountable for our actions on the court,” guard O.J. Mayo said. “We're definitely playing much better.”

The Grizzlies have one of the youngest team in the NBA as 10 of their 15 players have less than four seasons of professional experience.

“We're just starting to understand how to play with each other,” forward Rudy Gay said. "No one has really played together for more than a year. We're starting to know each other's game a lot quicker than a lot of people thought.”

“We've come together as a team,” coach Lionel Hollins said. “We're focused as a unit. They communicate with each other a lot better. They are sharing the ball a lot better.”

Kuester Dealing with Detroit's Injuries

John Kuester has had a rough first season as an NBA head coach as his Pistons are 11-14. However, what has made Kuester’s job most difficult is that his team has been beset by injuries throughout the season.

Tayshaun Prince hasn’t played since the first weekend of the season because of a back injury. Rip Hamilton sprained his ankle in the opener, missed 21 games, returned for two then sat out Wednesday night’s 95-87 loss to the Hornets. Ben Gordon and Will Bynum have been playing on sprained ankles in recent weeks and Charlie Villaneuva suffered a broken nose.

“It’s been challenging,” Kuester said. “I wish I could say it's not a big deal but it's a challenge because you're managing certain minutes and you want to make sure guys come out of this healthy. The bottom line is, how do you come out of it with a win? We're all scratching and clawing to get them into the best position to win.”

Miami Looking to Regain Edge

The Heat is 13-11, which isn’t so bad when you consider most analysts thought they would finish under .500 this season. However, the Heat wants more after a good start and is unhappy having gone 4-6 since a 99-98 victory over the Magic on Nov. 25 pushed them four games over .500.

“We have to get that chip back on our shoulder,” forward Udonis Haslem said. “At the start of the season, people were picking us to finish near last in the league. Then we started well and people started thinking we're better than people first thought. We might have exhaled a little bit but that can't be us. We have to get it back.”

Coach Erik Spoelstra wants the Heat to think back to the first day of training camp.

“We met about our standards for the team and what we're going to emphasize, and we just need to get back to the purity of that,” he said.

John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact John by clicking here or click here to see John's other articles.

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<< Previous Article
Around the Rim (12/17)
<< Previous Column
On the Beat (12/15)
Next Column >>
On the Beat (12/22)
Next Article >>
Changing Their Stripes (12/21)

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