AUBURN HILLS, Mich. The Detroit Pistons have lost nine of their first 10 games which tied the worst start in franchise history.
With such a young team (Detroit is the third-youngest team in the East behind Cleveland and Charlotte), growing pains are a given for former Celtics assistant coach Lawrence Frank who is now in his second season as the Pistons' head coach.
Doc Rivers knows all too well what Frank is going through now, having been part of one of the worst seasons in Celtics history before a slew of shrewd moves catapulted the C's from cellar dwellers into perennial contenders.
"It's just tough to win with young players," said Rivers, adding, "it really is unless you have one young player that's just so much better than all the other young players then everybody can buy into their roles."
Although Pistons center Greg Monroe is among the NBA's better up-and-coming big men, he by no means is an established talent whose play demands others to easily step in line and follow.
With so many young players, there is an inherit battle to establish themselves as individuals and not collectively as a team.
Rivers recalls the battles in practice between Rajon Rondo, Sebastian Telfair and Delonte West.
"Rondo, Sebastian and Delonte West, I remember those guys, you had to separate them half the time," Rivers said. "And then we got to the game, whoever started, won and could care less about the game; that's how you felt.
Rivers added, "Lawrence is going through a lot of the same stuff. You have to keep at it. I tell Lawrence that all the time."
The figures and briefs are in for the Bruins and Ryan Spooner for their arbitration hearing Wednesday, but both sides are still hoping that a deal can be reached prior to it. The Bruins have submitted a one-year contract offer for $2 million. Spooner’s camp countered with $3.85 million, creating a sizeable gap of almost $2 million between the two.
Spooner, 25, has averaged 12 goals and 44 points the past two seasons with the B’s, including 35 power-play points while working the half-wall for a Boston PP that’s been ranked seventh overall two seasons in a row.
Spooner is coming off a two-year contract worth $1.95 million and his is a complicated situation for the Black and Gold. Spooner holds significant value as a trade piece and has been an important part of a very effective power play, but he also finished the playoffs as a healthy scratch after going quietly the past few months of the season.
Spooner was one of the major pieces discussed in trade talks with the Minnesota Wild around the draft prior to the Wild shipping Marco Scandella to the Buffalo Sabres and he's been involved in trade discussions with several teams the past couple of years.
The Bruins have prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson waiting in the wings if/when the B’s decided to spin Spooner to another team, but they also enjoy his speed and playmaking when he’s on his game. There’s clearly a scenario where the Bruins start the season with Spooner installed as their third-line center and perhaps explore more trade discussions while seeing if a full season under Bruce Cassidy can unlock his significant offensive potential.
If that's still in the plan, they’d be wise to come to an agreement and avoid the hearing Wednesday where they’d ostensibly be bad-mouthing a player they’d want back on their team. The Bruins have the right to walk away from Spooner should he be awarded the full $3.85 million by the arbiter. Still, it’s hard to believe they’d do that given that he’s a homegrown asset with trade value.
The feeling at this address is that there’s a deal to be made between the two sides for something around the $3 million mark. That’s something that would be worthwhile for the Bruins if they have any designs on continuing on with Spooner.
Noting that LeBron James "wants the world to know that he had absolutely nothing to do with Kyrie Irving deciding that he wanted to be traded," Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN Monday that Irving believes King James may have been the one who leaked the news last week.
It was reported Friday that Irving wanted out of Cleveland in what's been a tumultuous offseason for the Cavs. Smith said that the timing of the leak has many close to the situation suspicious.
"According to my sources, they believe LeBron James had everything to do with news getting out that Kyrie Irving wants to be traded. Because Kyrie Irving and his representation and others met with the Cavaliers a couple weeks ago, and not a word got out until recently," Smith said.
"They believe that LeBron James got word of it and was put off by it and leaked it. I’m not going to accuse LeBron of such a thing. I don’t know that to be true at all, but I know that’s what Kyrie Irving believes.
Still just 25, Irving has three seasons left on a team-friendly five-year, $94.3 million deal.