Tag:Courtney Lee
Posted on: December 10, 2011 1:27 am
Edited on: December 10, 2011 9:50 pm

Revised deal reached to send Paul to L.A.

The Lakers, Hornets and Rockets reached agreement on the framework of a revised trade sending Chris Paul to the Lakers Saturday, pending the resolution of some moving parts and approval by the commissioner's office, multiple sources told CBSSports.com.

Houston would still get Pau Gasol from the Lakers in the three-team swap, while the Rockets would send Luis Scola and Kevin Martin to the Hornets, as in the original version that was killed by commissioner David Stern in his role as final decision-maker on major personnel moves for the league-owned Hornets.

It wasn't immediately clear how the Hornets were satisfying the league directive to acquire young players and valuable draft picks in the deal, but one minor tweak that New Orleans GM Dell Demps was trying to add was the inclusion of second-year forward Devin Ebanks from the Lakers. By late afternoon, it appeared likely that the Lakers would keep Ebanks and that the additional young talent going to New Orleans would be coming from the Rockets, who are seeking to follow up their acquisition of Gasol by signing free-agent Nene to a four-year deal for $60-$64 million, sources said.

UPDATE: The latest incarnation of the deal Saturday night also was expected to include an additional first-round pick for New Orleans that the Lakers were attempting to acquire from a fourth team, two people briefed on the talks said.

There were no indications that Andrew Bynum would be included in the new iteration of the trade, or that Emeka Okafor and the $41 million left on his contract would be going to the Lakers. While that substantial adjustment to the original deal terms might satisfy the league's objective to have Paul replaced in New Orleans by a combination of young talent and better financial books, it would also run counter to the Lakers' goal of trying to acquire Paul as a table-setter for a run at 2012 free agent center Dwight Howard.

UPDATE: While some observers were confused as to why the Lakers wouldn't seriously engage the Magic in trade discussions that would send Bynum and Gasol to Orlando for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu's poisonous contract, sources said the answer was simple: the Lakers want to try to position themselves to land both Paul and Howard. A person directly involved in the Howard sweepstakes confirmed to CBSSports.com a report by Yahoo Sports that Howard has requested a trade to the New Jersey Nets. Howard requested to be traded in two separate conversations with GM Otis Smith since Monday, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

However, a person involved in Howard's decision-making process maintained Saturday that the Lakers were by no means out of the picture -- and that, in fact, Howard views L.A. as a better fit for his off-court aspirations. The conflicting signals from Howard are similar to what Magic executives have experienced over the past year as the All-NBA center has frequently changed his mind about whether he wants to stay in Orlando or not.

The Magic, attempting to avoid the scenario that saw them lose franchise center Shaquille O'Neal as a free agent in 1996 and get nothing in return, gave Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, permission to speak with three teams about a potential trade: the Lakers, Nets and Mavericks

As high as the stakes are for Orlando, they were equally high for New Jersey, which traded Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two first-round picks last season for point guard Deron Williams without any assurances that Williams would still be with the team when it moves to a new arena in Brooklyn for the 2012-13 season. If Howard were traded elsewhere, and if Nene decided to join Gasol in Houston in the aftermath of a potential Paul trade, the Nets' efforts to surround Williams with enough talent to sign a long-term deal next summer would be on life support.

Though Howard clearly is the biggest prize in this game of musical chairs among future free agents, his future and the status Nene -- who also has close to a max offer on the table from New Jersey -- are on hold until the outcome of the Paul saga is determined. Stern must approve any transaction as monumental as a Paul trade not as commissioner, but as the final decision-maker for the Hornets in their absence of an owner since the league took over the franchise in 2010 from George Shinn.

The Paul talks were revived Friday afternoon after Stern took the stunning step of killing the deal in its previous form. The goal was to tweak the deal in a way that allowed New Orleans to come away with younger players and more draft picks, the directive issued by the commissioner's office after a trade that would've sent the Hornets three bonafide starters, a solid backup, and a mid-first-round pick was deemed not good enough.

There is no deadline, per se, to complete the deal. But the three teams want to reach a conclusion one way or another as early as Saturday to avoid any further awkwardness and wasted time in a training camp that already is shortened by the abrupt end to the 149-day lockout.

The deal consummated Thursday would've sent Paul to the Lakers, who would've Gasol to the Rockets and Lamar Odom to the Hornets. New Orleans also would've received Martin, Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick from Houston -- a solid haul by Demps under the circumstances in the eyes of many of his fellow executives.

Paul, among the biggest stars and most electrifying guards in the league, has an early-termination option after the season and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He already has declined a contract extension with New Orleans, and it is a foregone conclusion that he would leave as a free agent with his preferred destination being the Knicks.

But given that the Knicks didn't have cap space to offer Paul a max deal next season even before solidifying their defense with the imminent addition of center Tyson Chandler, the consolation prize of joining the Lakers with the opportunity to sign a five-year, $100 million deal after the season certainly would be enticing to Paul. 

Where the younger assets would come from was still being negotiated early Saturday, with potential candidates to go to New Orleans being Patrick Patterson, Courtney Lee and an assembly of draft picks, according to an executive briefed on the talks.

While the commissioner has veto authority over all trades, it is typically only invoked if rules were broken or the deal doesn't comply with salary cap rules. In this instance, the league office is involved because the NBA bought the Hornets from previous owner George Shinn, putting Stern in concert with appointed team governor Jac Sperling on all major personnel decisions.

Rival team executives and agents expressed doubts Friday about how Paul could be dealt to a team other than the Lakers after Stern's well publicized nixing of the original deal components. If Paul were traded, for example, to the Celtics, who initially pursued him with a trade centered around point guard Rajon Rondo, the league would be unable to explain why Paul could be traded to the Celtics and not the Lakers. The league office's role was not supposed to be to decide which teams the Hornetsd do business with, but to ensure that the "best interests of the Hornets" were satisfied, according to a statement from the NBA Friday. 

If Demps were unable to trade Paul in the wake of Stern's trade denial, it would be difficult to comprehend how the Hornets' "best interests" would be satisfied by the star leaving as a free agent in July with the Hornets receiving nothing in return.

Posted on: January 7, 2011 11:32 pm

Nuggets prepared to weigh Melo offers

The Denver Nuggets are considering offers from at least five teams for Carmelo Anthony and soon will begin the process of deciding what direction to go when they trade the three-time All-Star, multiple sources told CBSSports.com Friday. 

Among the teams that have registered the most credible interest are the Nets (obviously), Knicks, Rockets, Bulls, and Clippers, according to three sources familiar with the situation. Details of the various discussions are still evolving, but the one constant has been efforts on the part of the Nuggets and Nets to involve a third team in the discussions. 

The Nuggets have been trying to recruit the Timberwolves as a third team that might be willing to take the expiring contract of Troy Murphy from the Nets and send the Nuggets a first-round pick in the equation. The Wolves have two extra first-round picks in 2011 -- one from Utah and another from Memphis. 

But just as efforts on the Nuggets' part to involve the Cavaliers in the discussions -- an attempt to have Cleveland use its $14.5 million trade exception from the LeBron James fiasco to absorb Murphy -- have gone dormant, so have talks aimed at involving the Detroit Pistons in the scenario. Two sources confirmed to CBSSports.com Friday night that the Nets were trying to recruit the Pistons to enter a blockbuster three-team scenario in which New Jersey would've gotten Anthony and Chauncey Billups from the Nuggets and Richard Hamilton from the Pistons. The complicated and intriguing scenario was first reported by the The Record of Hackensack, N.J. 

One of the sources confirmed Yahoo! Sports' report via Twitter that the talks died when the Nets tried to extract a first-round pick from the Pistons and dump Johan Petro's $6.75 million due over the next two seasons on Detroit. 

"Dead," is how the source described those talks, although in another form, the Pistons could be enticed to participate if it meant dumping Hamilton's $25 million due over the next two seasons -- $21.5 million of which is guaranteed. 

The Nuggets' essential posture hasn't changed over the past few weeks. They are taking their time, evaluating interest from various teams, and one person familiar with their strategy said they soon will begin weighing the various offers. Denver GM Masai Ujiri and executive Josh Kroenke are in no hurry, and most executives involved in the talks believe the situation will go right down to the Feb. 24 trade deadline -- with the Nets still the leader in the clubhouse, pending Anthony's approval of a contract extension with New Jersey. That is where the Pistons' potential involvement could become crucial, as Anthony presumably would be more likely to sign off on a three-year, $65 million extension with New Jersey if Billups and Hamilton were on board. Oddly enough, it would represent a formation of the trio that could've been created in Detroit if the Pistons had selected Anthony instead of Darko Milicic in the 2003 draft. 

Such a scenario wasn't in play about a month ago, when a person directly involved in Anthony's decision-making process told CBSSports.com that Melo -- if traded -- would only agree to a contract extension with the Knicks. There have been no indications that Anthony has changed his stance, although that hasn't stopped his suitors from lining up and putting their best offers forward. 

Among the teams that believe they have at least a puncher's chance of landing Anthony, the Nets have always been the one with the most attractive assets to the Nuggets: Derrick Favors, the expiring contract of Murphy and multiple first-round picks. The Nuggets appear to have decided they prefer going young while acquiring draft picks and prospects over established players -- which would seem to bode poorly for the Knicks, whose existing players have yet to draw serious interest from the Nuggets. But the Knicks continue taking a patient approach, with the understanding that they're performing at a playoff level without Anthony and would have the inside track to sign him as a free agent if the Nuggets weren't able to achieve an acceptable trade by the deadline. 

If the Nuggets were able to parlay Murphy's expiring deal into another first-round pick while also going farther down the road toward youth and savings by unloading Billups, it would seem to represent nirvana among the various Melo scenarios they are considering. The Nets also have made it clear they'd be willing to take on Al Harrington -- due $27 million over the next four years, of which $20 million is guaranteed. 

As for the other teams in the mix, the Rockets can offer the Nuggets enormous savings in the form of Yao Ming's expiring (and insured) contract as well as the expiring contracts of Shane Battier and Jared Jeffries, plus young assets such as Aaron Brooks, Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger or Courtney Lee. The Clippers have one of the most valuable first-round picks on the market in the form of Minnesota's 2011 first-rounder, which is unprotected in 2012, plus young assets such as Al-Farouq Aminu and DeAndre Jordan. The Bulls have not been regarded as a serious contender since signing Joakim Noah to a contract extension, which signaled their unwillingness to trade him and made it impractical due to base-year compensation rules.
Posted on: November 28, 2009 12:40 pm

Nets, Frank continue march toward immortality

There has been "no change" in Lawrence Frank's status as coach of the 0-16 Nets as the franchise continues its inexorable march toward the record for NBA futility, two people familiar with the team's situation told CBSSports.com on Saturday.

After losing to the Kings 109-96 Friday night, the Nets enter Sunday's game against the defending NBA champion Lakers with a chance to equal the worst start in league history, achieved by the 1988 expansion Heat and 1999 Clippers. After Sunday's presumed defeat is in the record books, Nets president Rod Thorn faces a decision on Frank with two off days prior to the potential record-breaker at home Wednesday against Dallas -- and Frank's former point guard, Jason Kidd. Does he allow Frank, whom he has respected and supported, to achieve the futility mark at the hands of Kidd? Or does he deviate from his plan to evaluate Frank's job performance only when the team returns to full health?

A mercy firing might spare Frank the embarrassment of having his name forever associated with a winless start that has more to do with ownership's cost-cutting than Frank's coaching ability. But there's little hope it would change the Nets' fortunes. Shooting guard Courtney Lee played only three minutes off the bench Friday night after returning from a groin injury two games earlier. Although Devin Harris returned to the starting lineup against the Kings, the Nets are still without reserves Yi Jianlian, Jarvis Hayes, Keyon Dooling, Eduardo Najera, and Tony Battie. Thorn has been thus far steadfast in his plan to hold off on deciding Frank's future until the team has a reasonable complement of players available. One of the sources stipulated that there is no change in Frank's status "right now" -- further evidence of how fluid the situation is.

Frank is a lame duck in the final year of his contract, but with lead assistant Brian Hill having left to join the Pistons' bench, Thorn's options are limited to assistant coach Tom Barrise and assistant GM Kiki Vandeweghe. Complicating matters is the pending sale of the team to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and the fact that Thorn and Vandeweghe also are in the final year of their contracts. Given the Nets' lame-duck status in New Jersey and the scant hopes for a meaningful turnaround, league sources believe it's not out of the question for lame-duck owner Bruce Ratner to mimic the Hornets' decision to install GM Jeff Bower as Byron Scott's replacement on the bench. It is believed that Vandeweghe, who traveled with the team on the current West Coast trip, would accept such a reassignment on an interim basis. 

Barring something even more unforeseen than an arena materializing in Brooklyn by the All-Star break, none of the above has more than a puncher's chance to knock the Nets off their collision course with history.

Posted on: June 25, 2009 6:50 pm
Edited on: June 26, 2009 7:10 am

Vinsanity in Orlando (UPDATE)

NEW YORK -- Last summer, the Nets were politely rebuffing inquiries about Vince Carter, not ready yet to part with their highest-paid and most impactful player as part of their plan to attract major free agents in 2010.

That plan intersected with the opportunity to move Carter and the $35 million left on his contract Thursday, when New Jersey sent Carter to the defending Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic.

It was the final blow to the core of Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson, and Carter, who led the Nets through some of the best seasons in franchise history. It also made New Jersey a major factor in the 2010 free-agent sweepstakes and signaled to their fans in New Jersey that they're packing it in for the move to Brooklyn. The Nets also had talks with the Spurs and Cavs about Carter.

The Nets cleared more hurdles this week in making their dream of moving to Brooklyn by 2012 a reality. And by moving Carter, they put themselves $17 million in 2010 cap space closer to putting a marquee star -- or two -- in that new playpen.

The Magic? To me, the trade signals that Orlando GM Otis Smith doesn't believe he can keep Hedo Turkoglu, who will be an unrestricted free agent in a couple of weeks. Carter will join a healthy Jameer Nelson in the backcourt, but he's similar to Turkoglu from the standpoint of ball-dominance and big shot-making -- two ingredients that the Magic would've sorely missed had they not hedged their bets by replacing them.

Orlando sent Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, and Tony Battie to the Nets for Carter and Ryan Anderson. Battie and Alston have contracts that expire after next season, while Lee and Anderson are a wash. So the Nets save $17.3 million from Carter's contract in 2010 and have only three players guaranteed money that season -- Josh Boone, Eduardo Najera, and Keyon Dooling. (They hold team options on Lee, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez, and Sean Williams.)

The Cavs, Spurs, and Magic have struck so far with a win-next-season-at-all-costs strategy. Who's next?


Posted on: June 9, 2009 8:15 pm

Phil: Pau's play was interference

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The hot topic before Game 3 Tuesday night was still Courtney Lee's missed layup at the end of regulation in Game 2, with Lakers coach Phil Jackson advancing the story by saying he believed basket interference should have been called on Pau Gasol.

"Basket interference according to the rules, yeah," Jackson said.

As Lee caught an inbounds pass with 0.6 seconds left and the score tied 88-88, Gasol's fingers touched the rim as he contested the shot. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy refused to revisit the situation, saying, "Calls didn’t decide that game. I don’t think his hand being there or not being there had anything to do with the shot going in or not. You're not going to get a complaint from me on that call."

Jackson added, "It's called basket interference is what it's called. Even if you hit the net supposedly in the process that's part of it, but that rule is kind of archaic. It isn't called in this day and age as much, but when we were in high school ... that was something a high school ref might call, basket interference."

When pressed on his position, Jackson admitted that Gasol's contact with the rim "didn't interfere with the shot, basically. That was not something that destroyed the shot."

With all due respect to Jackson, Magic fans, and talk radio yappers, I pose the following question: Is ESPN.com not available in central Florida? We give credit where credit is due here in the BergerSphere, and Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com put this issue to rest two days ago. After Game 2, he spoke with the NBA's supervisor of officials, Bernie Fryer, who clearly explained the rule, why basket interference wasn't called, and why it was the correct call.

Here I am quoting from the NBA rule book -- Rule 11, Section I. A player must not:

* Vibrate the rim, net or backboard so as to cause the ball to make an unnatural bounce, or bend or move the rim to an off-center position when the ball is touching the ring or passing through; or
*  Touch the rim, net or ball while the ball is in the net, preventing it from clearing the basket.

Gasol didn't do any of those things, which explains why Fryer said after the game that it was a "cut-and-dried no call."

There. Can we move on?

Posted on: April 30, 2009 3:46 pm

Lee loss huge for Magic

The Orlando Magic entered the playoffs with the most important rookie starter on any team. They'll be leaving the playoffs soon if Courtney Lee misses the rest of the postseason due to a fractured sinus.

The news Thursday that Lee is expected to have surgery and could be out for the rest of the postseason is devastating for Orlando. A lot more devastating than losing Howard to a one-game suspension for Game 6 Thursday night. If Orlando stumbles, they'd still have a chance to close out the Sixers with Howard in a Game 7 Saturday in Orlando. But beyond that, they need Lee to challenge Cleveland in the East. They might even need Lee just to get past either Chicago or Boston to the conferece finals.

That's how important the rookie from Western Kentucky has become to the Magic. Not only is he their most consistent perimeter defender, but his 3-point shooting has been reliable all season. Despite falling victim to a team-wide shooting slump against the Sixers -- Lee was shooting an uncharacteristic 29 percent from beyond the arc when he went down -- Orlando needs his deep shooting threat to make a prolonged playoff run.

Fortunately for the Magic, they can plug Mickael Pietrus back into the starting lineup. Pietrus has more size and strength and can defend bigger wing players. But he didn't shoot as well from 3-point range during the regular season (.359 compared to .404 for Lee), and Lee's dribble-penetration has picked Orlando up at key points in the series.

If you missed my story on Lee before the playoffs started, here it is.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com