Tag:Blake Griffin
Posted on: August 17, 2011 5:00 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 9:08 pm

Kobe to players: 'Stand behind the union'

During a series of meetings in which union officials are updating players on the status of collective bargaining this week, one voice stood out: that of Kobe Bryant.

Before a star-studded audience of about 75 players in Los Angeles Tuesday, Bryant was “up front” and “deliberate” in a speech in which he urged players to maintain solidarity and “stand behind the union” during the lockout, according to a person who was in attendance. Sources told CBSSports.com that another test of that solidarity could come next week, as top union officials were authorized Wednesday to contact deputy commissioner Adam Silver in the hopes of scheduling a bargaining session in New York before the end of the month.

Bryant and Paul Pierce told players Tuesday it was important for them to “remain united” in the face of a lockout that has dragged well into its second month with only one full-scale bargaining session, the person who attended the meeting said. Among the players in attendance were Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon of the Clippers, Elton Brand of the 76ers, Tyson Chandler of the Mavericks, Russell Westbrook and James Harden of the Thunder and Corey Maggette of the Bobcats.

Contacted for comment on the player meetings, union chief Billy Hunter said he also briefed a contingent of about 20 agents on the status of negotiations Tuesday before traveling to Las Vegas, where he was meeting with about 35 players Wednesday. Hunter also will meet with players next week in Houston, Chicago and New York.

“Our message is that there’ve been several proposals back and forth, and the last proposal by the NBA would be a giveback of $8 billion over 10 years,” Hunter told CBSSports.com. “The players understand and they’re supportive.”

Hunter said there was a “divergence of opinion” among the agents about the National Basketball Players Association’s decision not to disclaim interest in representing the players – and the players’ decision not to decertify. Some high-profile agents have clamored for decertification, which would send the dispute to the federal court system under antitrust law. Hunter has so far resisted, preferring to explore the possibly more expeditious path to an injunction lifting the lockout, which could result if the union is successful in getting the National Labor Relations Board to issue an unfair labor practices complaint against the NBA.

Sources said NLRB investigators are expected to wrap up the evidence-gathering phase as early as next week and would then have all the information they need to render a decision on the players’ charge.

Though NBA commissioner David Stern is expected to be away on vacation, sources also told CBSSports.com that the two sides are trying to reconvene for a high-level bargaining session next week in New York. If league and union officials can agree on the scheduling details, it would be the first full-scale bargaining session since Aug. 1 – and the first since the NBA filed a federal lawsuit and an NLRB charge accusing the players of failing to bargain in good faith. Both legal actions were filed on Aug. 2, one day after Stern said the players were not bargaining in good faith.

It remains to be seen whether the players’ desire to meet next week will result in a productive negotiating session or more mudslinging. Stern accused the players of canceling a bargaining session last week while Hunter was involved with four days of appearances before the NLRB. Sources said an offer by the union to hold a staff-level bargaining session was rejected by the league, and that Hunter was told Stern would be away on vacation this week and next.

Clearly, Stern could easily return to New York for a bargaining session regardless of his vacation plans. So it’s a matter of will on both sides – and a question of whether anything has changed since the fruitless session on Aug. 1. Answer: Probably not. Not yet.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 1:26 pm

Draft Buzz: Where go Iguodala, Felton?

Executives disagree on how much trade activity will surround the NBA draft Thursday night, ranging in their opinions from virtually no veterans traded to a frenzy. One scenario that rival execs believe still has validity is Andre Iguodala to the Clippers.

The Sixers already have turned down the Clippers' offer of Chris Kaman and Ryan Gomes for Iguodala and Marreese Speights, and a person with knowledge of Philadelphia's stragegy said the Sixers are "not taking Kaman." It's not clear how willing the Clippers would be to give up a young asset for Iguodala. The better way to put it is, how much of an asset would it take to entice the Sixers to take Kaman, who only has one year and $12.2 million left on his contract. Iguodala is famously owed $44 million over the next three years.

Given that pricetag, it's no surprise that the Clippers have not yet offered their most valuable asset this side of Blake Griffin -- Minnesota's unprotected No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft. And almost certainly won't.

Due to his versatility as a defender, Iguodala has a broader market than some of the other one-dimensional veterans mentioned on the trade market, such as Monta Ellis, a pure scorer who sources say now appears more likely to be dealt sometime next season rather than before the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement June 30. Rival execs continue to believe that the Bulls, badly in need of a perimeter scorer to take the pressure off Derrick Rose, will play a prominent role in those discussions once the CBA dust settles.

A long-discussed possibility sending Iguodala to Golden State for Ellis is "not dead, but not real hot," said a person connected to the talks. As for an Iguodala-for-Lamar Odom swap with the Lakers, nothing there -- "zero" -- said a source.

More likely than all of them to be dealt Thursday night is Denver point guard Raymond Felton. The Nuggets are listening to offers, and have been in widely known discussions with the Kings centered around the No. 7 pick. Any possible traction with that proposal would depend on who's available with the seventh pick, sources said. The Kings are known to be split between Jimmer Fredette and Alec Burks. Execs aren't sure who Denver is targeting, but it could be Burks of Colorado.

As reported here, the Rockets are interested in trading the 14th and 23rd picks to Detroit for the eighth pick, targeting one of several big men coveted by new coach Kevin McHale. Among those on McHale's wish list are Tristan Thompson and Bismack Biyombo.
Posted on: December 26, 2010 7:22 pm

Gentry: Griffin is 'best athlete in the league'

LOS ANGELES – The best game of the weekend at Staples Center wasn’t on Christmas Day, but the day after. And it didn’t involve Kobe Bryant, LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, but rather a budding superstar whom one of the top coaches in the NBA called “the best athlete in the league” on Sunday. 

His name, of course, is Blake Griffin. And he does things like this

In front of a rare sellout crowd at Staples – for a Clippers game, that is – Griffin stole the holiday weekend show with his 18th consecutive double-double as L.A. beat the Suns 108-103. Griffin had 28 points and 12 rebounds, but that wasn’t the miracle. The miracle was that the Clippers figured out how to close out a tight game with Griffin sitting on the bench after fouling out with 2:52 left. 

After some nervous moments down the stretch, including a shot-clock violation in the face of the Suns’ improved defense after last week’s trade, the Suns cut the Clippers’ lead on Mickael Pietrus’ corner 3-pointer with 22.5 seconds left. But Pietrus, who came from Orlando with Marcin Gortat and Vince Carter in the trade that sent Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark to Orlando, still giveth and taketh away. His turnover, forced by Eric Gordon as the Suns were angling for a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, let the Clippers survive without their athletic and emotional leader. 

“He’s the best athlete in the league right now,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “As a big guy, if guys are going to throw lobs and stuff like that, there’s nobody that’s even remotely close right now. You have to make him into a basketball player. You have to make him make basketball plays, not athletic plays. In the first half we let him make all of these athletic plays. And with Grant [Hill] guarding him, we made him make basketball plays. I’m pretty sure if you look at the time Grant guarded him, I don’t think he got a basket.” 

The Clippers (9-22) are a .500 team over their last 10 games, and with Griffin’s talent and attitude, there is reason to believe this team is heading for better days. 

“They’ve got good young players and they’ve done a good job with them,” Gentry said. “I think you’ll continue to see them get better over time. They got off to a rough start, but it’s not so much that. Are you getting better? Are you building up? You can see that they’re getting better.” 

The driving force is Griffin, a freakish athlete who has an emotional edge to go with his talent. He refused to back down from Hill, a savvy, 38-year-old veteran who was a year away from his freshman season at Duke when Griffin was born. After absorbing a hard hip-check from Pietrus on his way to the basket in the fourth, Griffin stood over the bodies that had fallen in his wake like bowling pins and screamed. He ran to the defense of teammate Al-Farouq Aminu, who moments earlier had been pulled down by Pietrus on a transition layup attempt. 

Gentry is right about Griffin’s athleticism, and the rookie is something else the Clippers have lacked for too long: a superstar with attitude, and by that I mean a good attitude.
Posted on: September 12, 2010 5:13 pm

Odom, Billups deserve to be rewarded

The revelation of the world championships, quite obviously, was Kevin Durant. He did everything for Team USA -- did exactly what was required of a blossoming superstar who was asked to put his imprint on the world basketball stage.

So without a doubt, Durant will be suiting up for the 2012 Olympics in London, when some of the divas who passed on Turkey will be back to defend the gold medal attained by the Redeem Team in Beijing two years ago. But what became plainly apparent Sunday, as the United States ended a 16-year drought in the FIBA worlds by beating Turkey 81-64 for the gold medal, is that not all of those '08 Olympians will be assured of getting their spots back.

Far from it.

It's widely assumed that three spots will be available: those belonging to Jason Kidd, Tayshaun Prince and Michael Redd. So as I plan out Mike Krzyzewski's Olympic roster before Team USA even gets to the airport, I say those spots should go to Durant, Lamar Odom and Chauncey Billups.

When the Americans left U.S. soil as underdogs to Spain in the eyes of many, I felt that however this tournament played out, Odom and Billups deserved spots on the team for London. As good as Durant was, it's impossible to dismiss the championship pedigree Odom and Billups brought to this otherwise woefully inexperienced team. If nothing else, Odom and Billups deserve a spot as a reward for taking one for the country this summer. They stepped up and gave Jerry Colangelo and Coach K their commitments at a time when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were too busy working on their Twitter accounts, and while Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony were occupied with trying to get traded.

As far as tangible contributions, Billups didn't shine during the tournament. But no one should have a problem with him getting the Jason Kidd memorial roster spot in London for his experience and for his trouble this summer. As for Odom, who was brilliant in the gold-medal game with 15 points and 11 rebounds -- including a flurry of putbacks, 3-pointers and work-ethic baskets in the fourth quarter -- he earned a spot regardless. My pal Gregg Doyel still thinks Odom is a lackadaisical yo-yo ; I've always thought he was wrong about that, and that much was proven beyond any doubt in this tournament. Odom was huge for the U.S. It was no coincidence that the Naismith Trophy was handed first to Odom and Billups Sunday in Istanbul. They earned it. American basketball is all about pecking order, and they were right at the top of it, where they belonged.

But this so-called "B-Team" so far exceeded expectations from spots 1-12 that there will be precious little room for sentimentality when Colangelo and Krzyzewski assemble the Olympic roster in two years. Let's say I'm right and you start with Durant, Odom and Billups joining '08 Olympians James, Wade, Anthony, Paul, Kobe Bryant, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams. How do you make room for Derrick Rose (which Colangelo must)? How do you ignore the versatility and defensive intangibles offered by Russell Westbrook (which Colangelo shouldn't)? How do you snub Blake Griffin and Tyreke Evans (you probably can't)? What if John Wall is as good as we think he is (which he is)? What if Rajon Rondo wants to play (which he should)?

As the adage goes, these are some good problems for the Americans to have. A few short years after the embarrassment of bronze medals at the 2006 world championships and 2004 Olympics, USA Basketball is back. It was back in Beijing two summers ago with the Redeem Team. But really, this B-Team should be -- and will be -- remembered for driving home the point.

At a time when reputations and gold medals were on the line, the biggest American stars in the sport took a pass. Those who showed up and got the job done should be rewarded. More than a few, I predict, will be.



Posted on: March 9, 2010 9:41 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 9:53 pm

West: No interest in Clippers job

The first name that came to mind after the Clippers' rude and unceremonious news release came out Tuesday night announcing Mike Dunleavy's firing was none other than Jerry West. The Logo had been long rumored to be a candidate to take over the Clippers' woebegone basketball operations if -- and, as it turned out, when -- they finally "severed ties" with Dunleavy.

From West himself Tuesday night: Not gonna happen.

"No contact, no interest, not looking to work anymore," West said by telephone after the Dunleavy news broke. "Time for someone younger to have an opportunity to do something. I have not been contacted, nor would I have any interest."

But West, who was at the center of speculation to take over the Knicks' basketball operations when Isiah Thomas was deposed two years ago, left the door open ever so slightly to returning to a front office in some capacity.

"Unless there was something that was along the lines of a consultant job -- a working consultant," West said. "I don’t want a title or need a title. It was fun to be involved. It's a tough business. But I'm not looking for a job nor am I putting my name out there for any job. I've always felt we all have a lifespan with what we’re doing. Mine has been served."

West, 71, left the Memphis Grizzlies after his contract expired in 2007 and hasn't been involved in running a team since. The architect of two Lakers dynasties is forever linked with job openings, though. Another credible Jerry -- Colangelo -- would be high on any serious team's list of candidates. During All-Star weekend in Dallas, Colangelo tried to tamp down speculation that he was in the running to take over the Nets -- but also said if a team called, he'd listen.

Meantime, with another important draft and the biggest free-agent class in NBA history looming, the Clippers had better hope the promotion of assistant GM Neil Olshey works out. After reading the Clippers' brutally worded news release on Dunleavy's dismissal -- and knowing the organization's track record for losing and cheapness -- what credible candidate would want to work there?

"The team has simply not made sufficient progress during Dunleavy’s seven-year tenure," the news rocket said. "The Clippers want to win now."

And for the past quarter century, too, right?

The irony is that buried somewhere in all that dysfunction is a fairly promising roster and cap flexibility. Clippers fans can look forward to Blake Griffin's return in 2011-12, and Dunleavy left Donald Sterling enough cap space to get a marquee free agent if anybody wants to go.

That's almost as hard to imagine as the Clippers winning anything on Sterling's watch, no matter who's picking and coaching the players.

Posted on: October 27, 2009 7:49 am

Griffin injury brings more misery to Clippers

The NBA season tips off Tuesday night, but already something quite normal and expected has happened.

Something bad has happened to the Clippers.

The news that No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin will miss up to six weeks with a broken left kneecap seriously dampens all the optimism that has surrounded the league's most star-crossed franchise. When the Clippers take the court Tuesday night against the Lakers, they'll not only have to watch their co-tenants in Staples Center receive their championship rings, but they'll have to do so without the player who has come to symbolize their potential resurgence.

Besides putting the brakes on the Clippers potential resurgence behind Griffin, the injury seriously opens up the rookie of the year race -- before a ball has even been dribbled yet. Going into the season, I predicted that Griffin would hold off a formidable challenge from Sacramento's Tyreke Evans to win the award for the league's best rookie. Now, all bets are off.

The question is, will the injury create a longer-term problem for the Clips? if you're wondering you someone misses only six weeks with a broken knee cap, it's apparently only a stress fracture; the Clippers have promised more info later Tuesday. But any way you look at it, this is a bad break for the Clips and a significant development in the race for rookie honors.

On my way to Cleveland, folks. Time to get the ball in the air.
Posted on: June 6, 2009 8:22 pm

Griffin and Clippers still want each other

LOS ANGELES -- After spending a day with the Clippers, Blake Griffin still wanted to be one. Speaking of an organization for which so much has gone wrong, that's progress.

But in Clipperland, nothing ever goes quite as planned. When the team opened its gym in a palatial new practice facility for a public workout with their future No. 1 pick, fans, sponsors, and media were treated to a sound they've heard plenty before.


Griffin, the consensus college player of the year, showed off his speed, agility, and frightening athleticism in an hour-long workout for the team that already has proclaimed it will select him with the No. 1 pick in this month's draft. He also displayed a shaky mid-range jumper, balky stroke from the free-throw line, and maybe a little bit of nerves. Once he got past the initial jitters, Griffin said it was an environment he could handle.

"I'm not used to guys bringing me towels in between drills," Griffin said. "That was kind of nice."

Mike Dunleavy, the Clippers' coach and GM who's decided to stake his reputation on Griffin, raved about his character, athleticism, and ball-handling. Griffin's jumper? Eh.

"There's some things with his shot that he has to work on, and he will," Dunleavy said. "But he shoots the ball well enough from mid-range that you have to guard him."

On film and in live games, that may have been true. But in this workout, Griffin -- by his own admission -- shot the ball poorly with nobody guarding him. Dunleavy isn't concerned, because he picked something up right away that a jump-shooting amateur like myself easily missed: If Griffin bobbles the ball on the catch, his first reaction is to lean his head back when he goes up with the shot. The result was what the 100 or so observers witnessed for most of the workout -- short, flat jump shots. That, presumably, can be fixed.

What Griffin alone won't fix is the combustible chemistry that exists on the team he will join in less than a month. He met Baron Davis during his visit -- "Let's get this thing rolling," Baron told him -- but seemed somewhat oblivious to the potential drama that awaits him.

"That is in the past," Griffin said. "I'm not going to worry about what happened 10 year ago, five years ago. As long as we're moving forward, if I'm here, that's all I care about. I think we will."

Dunleavy said other teams have been put on notice that he's not interested in trading the pick, putting the percentage chance he'll use it at "99.9 percent." But there are always exceptions.

"You can never say never about anything, obviously," Dunleavy said. "I don't know who the players are in this league who may fit into that category. Obviously if the word 'LeBron' was spoken by anybody, somebody's door would open."

Listed at 6-10 -- and he looked an inch shy of that to me -- Griffin has the handle and agility to play small or power forward. Defensively, he looked capable of guarding at least three positions. He said some have compared him to Karl Malone, but I'd like to know what those people were smoking. Griffin looks like the classic swing player that is so crucial to the floor-spacing and offensive freedom that the NBA is trying to foster. Not having seen him enough in college to make a declarative statement, he didn't look like a pure power player in this workout to me.

Either way, even Dunleavy admitted that someone will have to go once Griffin arrives. "The math isn't great," he said, noting that he already has Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman, and Zach Randolph at the power positions before Griffin puts on a jersey. "Obviously," Dunleavy said, "we're going to explore other options."

Yup, those are the Clippers. Always exploring something. Maybe this is the one.

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 19, 2009 9:15 pm

Sorry, Blake ... you're a Clipper

LOS ANGELES -- What better place to take in the drama, the suspense, the hysteria of the Clippers winning the NBA draft lottery than the press room of the building where they have played mostly disastrous basketball for years? Yes, here I am in Staples Center, where everyone is in stitches over the Clippers getting the No. 1 pick in the June draft.

Go ahead laugh ... it's funny!

First of all, let there be no mistake. The No. 1 pick in this draft is Blake Griffin. This is what you and I have been hearing for months, and I spoke Tuesday with an NBA team executive I trust to make sure it was still the consensus. He assured me that there was no conceivable scenario in which someone other than Griffin is the No. 1 pick. Now, there was news out of Dallas Tuesday that a woman gave birth to twins who were fathered by different men, so I suppose anything is possible. But let's just call this as stone cold a lock as you can have.

Two thoughts came to mind when the final three teams in the lottery were announced. First, how thankful must David Stern be that Oklahoma City didn't get the No. 1 pick? The conspiracy theories about the fix being in for the Thunder to get their Oklahoma guy would've been overwhelming. Second, to be brutally honest, I felt pity for Griffin, who said the following in a televised interview immediately after the draft order was announced:

"I'm going to try to make the best out of whatever situation I'm put in."

Good luck with that, Blake.

"I hope I can make a big impact," Griffin said. "I'm going to try to learn as much as I can on the fly and hopefully help the team out."

The questions about what Griffin hopes to learn about being a pro from the likes of Zach Randolph ... well, those will have to wait for another day.

I can't speculate on how much of an impact Griffin will make on the Clippers, who've been trying to positively define the word impact for as long as Griffin has been alive. But one thing the NBA executive I spoke with made clear was this: If the Clippers got the No. 1 pick, you can bet money that either Chris Kaman or Marcus Camby will be traded this summer. If you want to bet that it'll be a bad trade, that's up to you.

On the bright side, maybe the Sacramento Kings have eclipsed the Clippers as the most cursed franchise in the NBA. Despite the best odds of landing the No. 1 pick, the Kings fell all the way to fourth. The Kings needed Griffin a lot more, and probably would've had a better chance of improving with him than the Clips.

Category: NBA
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