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Posted on: December 17, 2008 10:57 am
 

Shocking: Marbury shows up at Knicks game

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the Stephon Marbury saga that he would show up and buy a courtside ticket for the Knicks-Lakers game at Staples Center Tuesday night. This is what Stephon-a-non-grata is all about: shining the spotlight on himself.

What did come as a surprise was a comment Marbury made to the New York beat reporter crew, which he of course knew would surround him and extract every last drop of drama and dysfunction it possibly could out of him. (Some by choice, some reluctantly. More on that later.)

When Marbury wasn't berating certain writers by name -- since I'm away from the daily Knicks soap opera, I have been replaced by Frank Isola of the Daily News and Alan Hahn of Newsday as his favorite target -- he did deliver a piece of news. Or at least a hint of a piece of news.

"Only thing I got to do is get free," Marbury said. "The team that I'm going to go to, I think a lot of people will be shocked."

Hahn, in his Knix Fix blog, offers sound speculation as to which team Marblehead is referring to: The Suns. Hey, why not?

"They currently have an open roster spot and a need for a backup guard," Hahn writes. "Marbury played with Suns coach Terry Porter in Minnesota and, quite frankly, the Steve Kerr-Robert Sarver duo would love nothing more than to take the player Mike D'Antoni exiled and make him an asset."

Marbury said being banished from the Knicks and not playing basketball anymore "has been great for me. ... I'm getting healthy. This is going to save two or three years of my career."

At one point, Marbury said, "I'm still earning my check by doing nothing." He even went so far as to say that he's told Hal Biagas, the NBA Players Association attorney representing him, to chill for a while. "I basically told him don't even worry about it," Marbury said. "Let them do what they're going to do and make a decision when they're ready to make a decision. ... I didn't create this, so I don't regret a thing. This is all their doing."

Meanwhile, overshadowed by all of this was a thrilling game between the Knicks and Lakers -- a 116-114 Los Angeles victory. It had everything ... the Lakers battling back from a 15-point halftime deficit despite several key players battling illness (including Pao Gasol, who was sent home due to strep throat), Kobe Bryant talking trash with Chris Rock, and of course, Marbury making himself the center of attention once again.

 

Posted on: December 16, 2008 3:40 pm
 

Marion to Cavs makes sense ... but not now

Shawn Marion to the Cavs? LeBron James no doubt would be thrilled, and Cleveland would be loaded up like never before to make a title run before the clock ticks down to July 1, 2010. But a person directly involved in the situation said Tuesday that Cleveland and Miami "haven't had a trade discussion of any kind in months."

The proposed trade reported by Yahoo! Sports would've sent Anderson Varejao and Wally Szczerbiak to Miami for Marion, whose $17.2 million deal expires after the season. Szczerbiak's $13 million also is expiring, but the Cavs would clear Varejao's $6.2 million player option off the books next summer. It's an intriguing proposal for both teams, although an agent who would be involved in such a transaction had no indication Tuesday that anything was imminent.

The Heat clearly are not smitten with the idea of maxing out Marion, who would instantly make the Cavs a lethal threat to the Celtics' repeat hopes. Cleveland could view it as a rental, or could extend Marion after the season if they believe LBJ would approve. The Cavs already have plenty of cap space in 2010 to re-sign LeBron and a top-tier running mate such as Chris Bosh. But clearing Varejao's contract would make Cleveland a player in free agency next summer, when Carlos Boozer (player option) and Kobe Bryant (early termination) could be free. Miami would be in great cap shape, too, assuming Varejao declines his player option.

The interesting question for the Cavs is whether or not they should gamble when the team is 20-4 and seemingly capable of going toe-to-toe with Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals. Cavs GM Danny Ferry believes the roster is talented enough to contend as-is, but Marion would be a difference maker. And while Varejao does all the little things -- including flopping to draw offensive fouls -- Marion wouldn't be a liability on the defensive end because he's versatile enough to guard the post and perimeter.

 

Posted on: December 16, 2008 1:45 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2008 1:48 pm
 

David Stern rules the world (of sports business)

Sports Business Journal's annual list of the 50 most influential people in sports is out, and NBA Commissioner David Stern is third -- first among major pro sports commissioners.

Duh.

Stern received credit for steering the league through the potentially devastating officiating scandal, expanding the league's global footprint, and partnering with the NCAA to clean up youth basketball.

Full disclosure: Sean McManus, the president of CBS Sports and CBS News, is eighth -- up one spot from 2007.

The rest of the NBA-related titans who made the list:

11. Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of AEG. Serves on the board of the Los Angeles Lakers, overseeing Philip Anschutz's 30 percent stake in the team and Staples Center.

14. Charlie Denson, president, Nike Brand.

15. Herbert Hainer, chairman and CEO, Adidas.

16. David Levy, president, Turner Sports. The Atlanta-based media company has added control of the NBA's digital media business to its TNT coverage of the league.

23. Jeffrey Kessler, attorney. Outside counsel to both NBA and NFL players.

24. Adam Silver, deputy NBA commissioner. The force behind Stern's global initiative, Silver also spearheaded the recent deal allowing NBA teams to control their local digital rights to stream games live on their Web sites.

27. Casey Wasserman, chairman and CEO, Wasserman Media Group. Primarily through agents Arn Tellem and Warren LeGarie, WMG represents a cross-section of top players and coaches in the league. You know Wasserman is influential when he's listed ahead of No. 28, Hal Steinbrenner.

34. Kevin Plank, CEO and founder, Under Armour. Long a boutique to Nike's behemoth, Under Armour is making inroads in the basketball apparel market.

35. Mark Cuban, owner, Dallas Mavericks. How Cuban rebounds from insider trading charges will affect his image and influence.

38. Peter Moore, president, EA Sports. NBA Live, enough said.

44. Billy Hunter, executive director, NBA Players Association. Good news: Hunter has gotten his players the highest average salary in major American sports. Bad news: Owners are feeling the pinch, and negotiations on extending the agreement beyond 2011 will be contentious -- so much so that Hunter said recently he's preparing for another lockout.

46. Rick Dudley, president and CEO, Octagon. Agency represents numerous NBA players, including Chris Paul.

48. Michael Levine, co-head, CAA Sports. Stable of agents includes super-agent Leon Rose, who represents LeBron James.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: December 16, 2008 10:52 am
 

Tuesday Shootaround

* In a sign that his sense of self importance knows no boundaries, Stephon Marbury is planning to attend Tuesday night's Knicks-Lakers game at Staples Center. How, you ask? Hasn't he been banished from the team? Why yes, loyal BergerSphere reader, he has. But that $22 million he's getting paid is good for something, like buying a courtside ticket. This is strange, and sad. Where does strangeness and sadness end and stalking begin? The Knicks could become the first team in NBA history to take out a restraining order against one of their players.

* Strange but true: All six coaches fired this season share the same agent, Lonnie Cooper. If I were Jim O'Brien, also a Cooper client, I'd be sweating profusely. Just for grins, guess which infamous basketball figure also is/was represented by Cooper? You got it, Isiah Thomas. A proposed position paper for any and all aspring sports agents out there: Did Isiah Thomas ruin Lonnie Cooper's career? Discuss.

* Dime starts a good debate about which NBA team has the best local TV announcers. If you live in the NYC area, gotta love Mike Breen and Clyde Frazier, as long as you are experienced at reading between the lines of their Cablevision-filtered commentary. I have to admit, Clyde's fluidity, his shakin' 'n bakin' 'n percolatin' have grown on me. If you're a Lakers fan, you can't do better than Joel Myers on play-by-play. I would add a wrinkle to Dime's unofficial poll: Which team has the worst local TV announcers?

* Phil Jackson says Vladimir Radmanovic wants to assassinate him.

* Empty The Bench names six double-double machines who aren't household names.

* Mark Jackson struck out in his bid to become the Knicks' coach this past summer. But with at least six teams in the market for a new coach next summer, Jax's chances of landing a job are off the charts. I'd quibble with his approach in this one respect: Maybe he would've been better served to pursue an assistant's job so that he could parlay that experience into his pursuit of a head coaching job in '09.

* When TrueHoop pointed out an ad for a "Derrick Coleman Estate Sale," it was only natural to wonder if DC had squandered the more than $90 million he earned in his NBA career and needed to sell stuff to raise money. Not so, Coleman insists.

* My favorite stat lines from Monday night's games were in the losing teams' box scores: Miami's Mario Chalmers had 20 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds in a 98-83 loss to the Bucks, and Paul Millsap had 32 points and 10 rebounds in a 100-91 loss to the Celtics.

* Breakin' Down The Game takes you around the NBA link-o-sphere, including an item on Bonzi Wells signing with a team in China for $40K? How could that be?

 

Posted on: December 15, 2008 1:51 pm
 

Kings fire Theus (BREAKING)

Another Monday morning, another coach fired in the NBA. The Kings have fired coach Reggie Theus, making him the sixth coach in the league to be let go this season, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Yahoo! Sports reported that top assistant Chuck Person also was let go, signaling that owners Joe and Gavin Maloof believed Person had become inextricably linked with Theus. Assistant coach Kenny Natt was named to replace Theus on an interim basis.

A 114-90 home loss to the Knicks Saturday night -- dropping Sacramento to 6-18 -- sealed Theus' fate.

"The team didn’t so much quit on him, but it was in such disarray that it probably pushed theowners over the edge," the person familiar with the situation said. "It was not a question if, but when."

 

Category: NBA
Posted on: December 15, 2008 10:44 am
 

Monday Shootaround

* Most intriguing game on the slate by far Monday night is the Knicks at the Suns -- Mike D'Antoni returning to the team he nurtured to 58 wins a year the past four seasons. Turns out D'Antoni is missed in the Valley of the Sun. Phoenix continues to struggle under the defensive-oriented, halfcourt approach favored by new coach Terry Porter. What's astonishing is not so much the record (14-10) -- all teams have their peaks and valleys -- but the discontent that is boiling in the locker room. The Suns are so unrecognizable to Steve Nash that he feels like he's been traded. The subplots are thick. D'Antoni had some choice words for Suns owner Robert Sarver over the weekend, but D'Antoni doth protest too much. Everybody should know that he came out of Phoenix smelling like roses, given that Sarver and Steve Kerr conspired to force a style on him he didn't want to play. Who was the coach, anyway? If things keep going downhill, eventually the coach could be Kerr, who keeps coming up with these harebrained ideas.

* It's Money Back Guarantee Day in the NBA; Monday is the first day players who signed contracts this past offseason become trade-eligible (as long as 90 days have passed since they signed their deals). Among the players in that category are Baron Davis, Corey Maggette, Elton Brand, and Monta Ellis. A person familiar with Golden State's situation said the Warriors are, indeed, fielding offers for Maggette -- as difficult as it will be to trade a player in the first year of a five-year, $50 million contract.

* Newsday says Denver approached the Knicks with an offer of Linas Kleiza for David Lee. Donnie Walsh declined.

* The Lakers (20-3) joined the Celtics (22-2) and Cavs (20-4) on the 20-win plateau, easing past Minnesota 98-86. The best part about Kevin McHale coaching the T-Wolves is that, like Isiah Thomas the past two years in New York, he'll now have to meet with the media three times a day and explain, for example, why he traded O.J. Mayo for Kevin Love. Thanks to TrueHoop for linking us to McHale's comments in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "Kevin's a 20-year-old rookie," McHale said Sunday. "He really brings a lot of stuff: great energy, a nice basketball feel. He's learning all the time. With all these kids, there's a learning curve that goes into it and you've got to be patient while he learns."

* Which segues nicely into the Grizzlies' fourth straight win, 102-86 over Miami, fueled by Mayo's 28 points. With five coaches sent packing already, it's nice to see Marc Iavaroni climb off the canvas and turn things around. Rudy Gay (18 points) was back in the starting lineup as Iavaroni played small Sunday night. The Grizz are expected to take another step toward the future with a buyout of Antoine Walker. (Or at least Antoine has that impression.) Also, let not your hearts be troubled, Grizzlie fans, by the team's decision to sign troubled former No. 3 overall pick Darius Miles to a non-guaranteed contract. It's basically being handled as a short-term tryout, a person with knowledge of Memphis' plans told me. The Grizzlies also will be looking to the D-League to bolster the back end of the roster.

* Courtesy of SlamOnline, Dwyane Wade plays Michael Jordan to O.J. Mayo's Bryon Russell.

* The Hornets showed why they lead the league in 3-point shooting, hitting 12 from beyond the arc in a 99-91 victory over Toronto. James Posey accounted for half of them. To borrow a phrase from the great Clyde Frazier, New Orleans is beginning to percolate with eight wins in its last 10 games.

* Gotta love the media biz. Columnist gets scoop on former coach ripping previous employers. Not to be outdone, previous employers circle wagon and feed aforementioned columnist material for follow-up column asserting that previously ripped team is on the right track. Welcome to my world!

 

Posted on: December 13, 2008 5:40 pm
 

Stefanski's (Freudian) slip shows

Moments ago, 76ers president Ed Stefanski announced the firing of coach Maurice Cheeks after a 9-14 start.

Having worked in Philadelphia, I could have predicted that it was going to be a contentious news conference. That's the way the cookie crumbles down there. But my theory -- supported by a person familiar with the Sixers' situation -- that Stefanski wasn't alone in deciding to dump Cheeks, was immediately buffeted by Stefanski himself in his opening remarks to the media.

"We made the decision -- or excuse me, I made the decision -- because I felt we were not progressing the way we wanted to progress," Stefanski said.

Woops!

The degree to which Stefanski had been disappointed with Cheeks' execution of the running style he wanted isn't 100 percent clear. But as recently as several games ago, Stefanski was said to be solidly behind Cheeks and wanted to give him a chance to turn the season around. What changed? Either Cheeks was reluctant to commit to the up-tempo style given the offseason addition of power forward Elton Brand, or Stefanski was given orders from above to change coaches.

Stefanski revealed that he met with Peter Luukko, president of Comcast-Spectacor, the Sixers' parent company, and company chairman Ed Snider after a 101-93 home loss to Cleveland Wednesday night. He'd been speaking with Luukko on a daily basis about the team's poor performance. Company man Tony DiLeo was appointed to replace Cheeks for the rest of the season.

"I believe in this team," Stefanski said. "We're better than this. And we will continue to work to make our team better."

 

Posted on: December 13, 2008 3:12 pm
 

Miles to Memphis? Bad idea

The Memphis Grizzlies finally look like something close to a professional basketball team, having won three straight after coach Marc Iavaroni benched Rudy Gay. Now Yahoo! Sports has reported that someone in Memphis has come up with the idea to sign former No. 3 overall pick Darius Miles to a minimum contract.

I ask, why? And I say, bad idea.

With five NBA coaches already shown the door before Christmas, Iavaroni was hanging on by a thred in Memphis. This despite starting three rookies at times and having a team with an average age that is comparable to that of the Memphis Tigers. (This from a person familiar with the team's situation who did the math.)

The players were looking for structure and direction, and Iavaroni gave it to them when he benched Gay, whose tendency to perform a solo act didn't sit well with his teammates.

Now, with a roster spot cleared after a three-team trade that sent Javaris Crittenton to Washington, the Grizzlies evidently have decided that the best use of that roster spot is to fill it with Miles, who has not played since 2006 due to a debilitating knee injury. Miles also will be suspended for the first 10 games he's on an active roster for violating the league's anti-drug policy.

"When it ends -- and it doesn't end well, because he never does with Darius -- all it can do is blow up the team," a person familiar with the Grizzlies' situation said.

If the signing goes through, the result could be devastating for another team -- Miles' previous one, Portland. The Trail Blazers got a retired player exception when they waived Miles after last season and his injury was determined to be career-ending. But if MIles, 27, plays 10 games for someone else this season, the Blazers will have to account for the $18 million remaining on Miles' contract against the salary cap. It would remove what little flexibility the Blazers' have in free agency over the next two years.

 

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com