Posted on: February 26, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2011 4:31 pm
Richard Hamilton and Chris Wilcox have been fined for missing shootaround without an excuse, but the Pistons are not planning a coaching change in the wake of the perceived mutiny against John Kuester, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Saturday.
The team engaged in lengthy organizational meetings Saturday to discuss the latest meltdown in a season that has spiraled out of control. Though sources are downplaying a significant rebellion against Kuester, a proposal to buy out Hamilton -- who had another in a series of confrontations with Kuester recently -- will be presented to ownership before the March 1 deadline for him to be eligible for another team's playoff roster. The chances of a buyout for Hamilton, however, are "slim," a source said, given that he has two years left on his contract.
Hamilton and Wilcox flew back to Detroit with the team after the Pistons -- with only six available players -- lost to the Sixers in Philadelphia. Both players are expected to be available Saturday night against Utah, but whether or not they play will be a "coaching decision," the source said.
Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince, and Ben Wallace also missed shootaround Friday prior to the Sixers game, but all three had legitimate excuses, the person said. The Pistons' training staff confirmed to management that McGrady and Prince had been sick. Wallace is dealing with the sudden terminal illness of a close family member, the source said.
Austin Daye and Rodney Stuckey were late for shootaround, missing the team bus and catching a cab, the source said. They were fined for being late.
Whatever the reasons, the incident -- and the perception of a team-wide rebellion against Kuester -- has put the Pistons' already miserable season in an even grimmer perspective for the remaining 22 games.
Each of the most sensible resolutions -- buying out Hamilton or firing Kuester -- is complicated by the fact that the team is waiting for an ownership change to be completed. It is unlikely, sources said, that the ownership transfer would be completed in time for Hamilton to be bought out before the March 1 deadline for him to be playoff-eligible with a new team.
"This is not the climate where anybody wants to cut a big check just so a guy can go play somewhere else," said the person familiar with the Pistons' latest controversy.
Hamilton, who has two years and $25 million left on his deal, was close to being shipped to Cleveland at the trade deadline but could not agree to terms of a buyout with the Cavs.
Hamilton and Wilcox apologized for missing shootaround. It was not clear Saturday whether the ill players -- McGrady and Prince -- or Wallace would be available for the Utah game.
Given the ongoing rift between the Pistons' old guard -- led by Hamilton and Prince -- and the younger core, the mere perception of a mutiny against Kuester will be enough to make the remaining six weeks of the regular season close to unbearable. The inability of team president Joe Dumars to take action without ownership clarity has made the situation one that Kuester and the coaching staff will have to navigate the rest of the way.
Tension that has been building for months between Kuester and the veteran players boiled over in an ugly recent confrontation between Hamilton and Kuester, sources said. It was not the first time this season that the two have verbally gone after each other, though this incident was reported to have been a one-way tirade from Hamilton to Kuester in which the former All-Star questioned the coach's decisions and credentials.
In mid-January, Kuester made the decision to move Hamilton to the bench in order to give more playing time to Ben Gordon. Soon after, Hamilton's agent, Leon Rose, attempted to have him included in a trade that would've sent Carmelo Anthony to New Jersey. The trade, like many Melo scenarios, never happened. But Hamilton has remained on the bench ever since, playing only once in the past 23 games.
Hamilton, 33, could be a useful addition to contenders such as the Mavericks and Celtics, who both have internally discussed signing him if he were bought out. It appears that he will instead languish where he's been since Jan. 12, on the Pistons' bench and at a point of no return in a lost season.
Posted on: June 25, 2009 1:00 am
Edited on: June 25, 2009 1:23 am
Shaquille O'Neal is bringing his Shaqness and four championship rings to Cleveland, which hasn't won a pro sports championship in 45 years.
Get the puppet commercials ready.
Posted on: June 24, 2009 10:59 pm
The on-again, off-again trade proposal that would send Shaquille O'Neal to Cleveland to do for LeBron James what he did for Kobe Bryant is ... you guessed it ... on again.
The key components have been discussed since the February trade deadline, and you must know them by heart at this point. The Cavs get Shaq, and the Suns get cap relief (not to mention Shaq relief). The cap relief comes in the form of Ben Wallace's $14 million expiring contract -- which could expire sooner than we think if Big Ben was serious about retiring and taking a buyout -- and Sasha Pavlovic, who has only $1.5 million of his $4.9 million for 2009-10 guaranteed.
If essentially the same package has been discussed on and off for four months, what's the problem? Word is that Danny Ferry wants to fully explore what those expiring contracts will yield and will strike when the time is right and it's clear he's gotten the best offer. The Suns, not willing to give up on regaining a spot among the Western Conference elite, want something more than cap relief. Short of future draft picks from the Cavs, the only way to accomplish that is to recruit a third team.
Posted on: June 14, 2009 3:53 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Cavaliers are taking an aggressive posture as they head into the draft and free-agent period, so it was only a matter of time before the Shaquille O'Neal talks heated up again.
Several media outlets began reporting Sunday that the Cavs and Suns have reignited talks about sending Shaq to Cleveland to help LeBron James in his quest for a championship. There wasn't much to reignite in the first place; widely hyped discussions involving O'Neal at the trade deadline were never on the verge of producing a deal. An executive familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com Sunday that the situation hasn't evolved much since then, expressing surprise at the flurry of reports.
But when you have two teams desperate to move assets -- Phoenix with Shaq's $20 million expiring contract, and Cleveland with Ben Wallace's $14 million expiring contract and Sasha Pavlovic's partially guaranteed deal -- smoke often gives way to fire. Throw in the fact that the Cavs are coming off a debilitating loss to Orlando in the conference finals and an embarrassing week that featured a false report about coach Mike Brown's future, and you can see why the time may be right to shift to focus to the team's pursuit of O'Neal.
The executive involved in the teams' dealings said he fully expects the O'Neal situation to move to the forefront once the clubs begin fully exploring their options in the draft and free agency, which begins next month. The Suns, coming off a 46-win, non-playoff season, are highly motivated to move O'Neal in a bid to avoid paying luxury tax. Acquiring Wallace and Pavlovic, whose $4.9 million contract is only guaranteed for $1.5 million next season, would save Phoenix as much as $10 million, including luxury tax savings.
The Cavs view Pavlovic's partial guarantee and several players on minimum deals as a built-in trade exception they can use to improve the roster and give LeBron the big man he needs to compete for a championship at the highest level. A person familiar with the Cavs' thinking said the team is open to any and all possibilities and plans to take an aggressive approach in retooling a roster that won a league-best 66 games but failed to reach the NBA Finals.
A wild card in the Shaq talks is Wallace, who stated after the playoff loss to the Magic that he was seriously considering retirement. Cavs management has yet to speak directly with Wallace about his intentions, and as of now the club doesn't expect him to walk away from the $14 million left on his deal. If Wallace reiterated his desire to retire, it would spur buyout talks that would free up cap space immediately. Short of that, Wallace would get no money and the $14 million he is owed would come off the Cavs' books.
The idea of Shaq in Cleveland as a running mate for LeBron would present endless storylines and the delicious possibility of Kobe Bryant -- if he returns to the Lakers -- meeting his former and current nemeses in next year's Finals. The marketing people would have a field day adding a Shaq puppet to the popular Kobe & LeBron commercials. Bryant would be presented with the challenge of pursuing his fifth championship against the player he won with -- and feuded with -- in L.A. and the player who is trying to claim Bryant's title as the best player in the game.
It almost sounds too good to be true, except that it's not. Just give it some time.
Posted on: February 27, 2009 9:49 am
1) Where do the Cavs turn for inside help down the stretch?
As for question No. 1, you had better believe that Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti will be hearing from Cavs GM Danny Ferry -- if he hasn't already. Presti has a former piece of Cavs property, power forward Joe Smith, who many predicted would be traded or released by now. So far, Presti has held onto Smith and his $4.8 million expiring contract. Smith would have to be bought out and waived by Sunday in order to be eligible for the Cavs' playoff roster.
There's no trading for Smith now, but there are such things as favors in the NBA. If Presti releases Smith, he might find a little IOU from Ferry in his mailbox. Stay tuned.
Another option is Drew Gooden, another former Cav who is expected to be bought out by Sacramento. Gooden just returned from a month-long absence due to a groin injury, but was effective Wednesday night with 12 points and 13 rebounds in 26 minutes against Charlotte.
As for question No. 2, we'll have to wait and see how the Cavs fill the void. But as of now, the answer is a resounding yes.
Posted on: February 5, 2009 10:14 am
LeBron James probably wouldn't have risked life and limb diving for his 10th rebound Wednesday night -- the rebound that completed the first 50-point triple double since Kareem in 1975 -- if he'd known that it really was his ninth rebound.
I'm checking to see if the league office can and will review such statistical shenanigans. If so, Kareem's milestone is safe.
Sorry to let the facts get in the way of a good story.