Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:02 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:02 pm
UPDATED 12:01 p.m. ET
The Clippers were still resisting overtures for a Chris Paul trade Tuesday after the talks were revived for the second time in 24 hours under pressure from the league office to reach a resolution, sources told CBSSports.com.
Having claimed veteran point guard Chauncey Billups off amnesty waivers as a possible precursor to the deal, the Clippers nonetheless were under no pressure to dive back into the talks. The league office, which is assisting the Hornets in the trade discussions in its role as the de factor owner of the team, already has nixed a trade that would've sent Paul to the Lakers. The Knicks used what few assets and cap maneuverability they had to get free-agent center Tyson Chandler, and Paul has not indicated a willingness to give a long-term commitment as part of a trade to the Golden State Warriors.
"They have no choice" but to make sure Paul is traded to the Clippers, a person on the periphery of the talks said Monday night.
The talks that would never die were revived Monday night, with a twist that was enraging some rival general managers. The Clippers' winning waiver claim on Billups allowed them to include point guard Eric Bledsoe in the deal, which observers believed could push it over the finish line, league sources told CBSSports.com.
By claiming Billups for about $2 million, the Clippers were able to solve the dilemma of not having another point guard on the roster -- Mo Williams likely slides into the Jason Terry sixth man role, if he isn't included in the trade or waived with amnesty. Thus, L.A. could responsibly include Bledsoe in a blockbuster package for Paul.
The fact that Paul is dictating the terms by limiting the teams he'd agree to stay at least two years with to those that reside in L.A., Clippers GM Neil Olshey has plenty of leverage. So Olshey's resistance to including Bledsoe, sharpshooting guard Eric Gordon and the Timberwolves' unprotected 2012 first-round pick is no longer an issue. The deal, if finally consummated, will be better than what the league was demanding earlier in the day, when the Clippers wisely walked away from the talks.
Nonetheless, the Clippers were signaling to rival teams that they've "moved on" from the Paul saga and already had reached out to Billups in an effort to assure him his status as a leader and intergral part of the team were secure, sources said. Another person tied to the talks said he does not believe the league wants Paul traded out of New Orleans, where prospective owners are being sought to rescue the troubled franchise.
"Seems like a charade to me," the person said.
That set up a fascinating duel of who has the leverage and whether the franchise would be more valuable with or without Paul. In rejecting the three-team trade with the Lakers and Rockets, the league office obviously was saying that the franchise would be better off keeping Paul than trading him for veteran players Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic, plus draft picks. A package from the Clippers including Chris Kaman's expiring $12 million contract, Al-Farouq Aminu, Bledsoe and either Eric Gordon or the Timberwolves' unprotected 2012 first-round pick would seem to allow the Hornets to rebuild with prospects and picks -- which certainly would be preferable to Paul leaving as a free agent after the season with the Hornets getting nothing in return.
Paul's options, however, would be somewhat limited since the major-market teams he prefers are mostly capped out next summer, starting with his preferred destination, the Knicks. Paul would, however, have the option of going to Dallas, or to Brooklyn if Deron Williams opted out and decided to sign with his hometown Mavericks. Both players would have to take one year and about $25 million less than their current teams would be able to offer them under the new collective bargaining agreement.
The Paul negotiations were declared dead earlier Monday, after which Olshey spoke with the Los Angeles media and said, "We felt it was in the best interest of the team to keep this roster intact." But rival executives were circulating this conspiracy theory Monday night: Was it a coincidence that the Clippers were able to get Billups for $2 million when they were negotiating a related trade with the league office, which knew the competing bids? The salacious banter was perpetuated by the conflict of interest inherent in the NBA's handling of the trade for the Hornets, who were taken over by the league in December 2010.
A previous deal sending Paul to the Lakers was nixed by the league office in its role as overseer for the Hornets' personnel moves when commissioner David Stern and executives Joel Litvin and Stu Jackson determined that the package of players New Orleans was getting from the Lakers and Rockets wasn't acceptable. While rival GMs saw little problem with a package of Odom, Scola, Martin, Dragic and draft picks, the league wanted younger prospects and draft picks instead -- a package closer to what the Clippers have to offer, which would be more attractive to prospective buyers.
While it was understood that Paul would gladly sign a new five-year, $100 million contract next July with the Lakers if traded there, his commitment to the Clippers would only be for two years. As part of the deal, Paul would not promise to sign a new contract, only that he would not opt out of his current one after the season, sources said. That, and the league's limited options for trade partners, compressed the list of assets the Clippers were willing to give up.
The two-year period would give Paul time to survey the landscape in Clipperland and determine what notoriously penny-pinching owner Donald Sterling would do in two years with an $11 million center (DeAndre Jordan, whose four-year, $43 million offer sheet from Golden State was matched Monday); a 30 percent max player under the new rules in Blake Griffin; a close-to-max player in Gordon, if he stays; and himself. Those are a lot of big bills for the Donald, and Paul would need assurances that the Clippers are going to fully capitalize on their unique position of talent and cap flexibility and stop being second-class citizens to the Lakers at Staples Center.
As for Billups, a proud champion who'd warned teams not to claim him so he could pick his own team as an unrestricted free agent, does it make sense for him to spend perhaps the final year of his career on the Clippers' bench, watching Paul dribble between his legs and throw alley-oop passes to Griffin?
"That is not the league's concern," said a rival executive who is upset about the arrangement.
In finding the Billups solution to getting the Paul deal a chance to be completed, the league also sent a letter to Billups' agent, Andy Miller, warning him that there could be consequences if Billups caused problems for a team that claimed him off waivers, Yahoo Sports reported. Billups was waived with the amnesty provision by the Knicks to create room for a sign-and-trade arrangement that landed free-agent center Tyson Chandler in New York. Billups' $14.2 million salary came off the Knicks' books for cap and tax purposes, and the actual financial obligation to New York is offset by the $2 million that will be paid by the Clippers.
In a cruel double-whammy, Billups would become a pawn in delivering a superstar to a major market for the secod time in 10 months if the Paul-to-Clippers deal went down. In February, Billups was a necessary piece that facilitated the trade of Carmelo Anthony from Denver to the Knicks in another saga in which a star player threatened to bolt as a free agent if he wasn't traded to the team of his choice.
"I'm tired of being viewed as the good guy," Billups told Yahoo Saturday. "After a while, you just kind of get taken advantage of in these situations."
Posted on: September 21, 2010 3:13 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2010 3:28 pm
The misnomer about LeBron James leaving Cleveland is that people thought fans in Northeast Ohio were mad at him for leaving. Wrong. They were mad at him for the way he left. So with the first post-LeBron training camp around the corner, the Cavs’ brass are hoping the fan base is as realistic and patient as they will be as they recover from the Decision and all that it wrought. Internally, the Cavs have moved on. They have a new coach with rebuilding experience (Byron Scott) and a new front-office team with a lot of promise and assets at their disposal (GM Chris Grant and VP of basketball ops David Griffin).
Personnel-wise, no one inside the organization is putting any limits on what this team can do. The bad: They lost LeBron, and simply won’t recover in the short term. The good: They still believe they have the defensive foundation that Mike Brown built, along with enough shooters (Anthony Parker, Mo Williams, Daniel Gibson), former All-Stars (Antawn Jamison) and defensive dynamos (Varejao) to be competitive until the opportunity to pounce on a major personnel upgrade presents itself. Until then, here’s your preseason primer on the Cavs without you-know-who:
Training camp site: Independence, Ohio
Training camp starts: Sept. 28
Key additions: Ramon Sessions (trade), Ryan Hollins (trade), Joey Graham (free agent), Christian Eyenga (draft)
Key subtractions: Shaquille O’Neal (free agent), Delonte West (trade), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (free agent), Sebastian Telfair (trade), plus franchise identity, millions in ticket/merchandise sales, and the very soul of a tortured, doomed sports populace (i.e. some guy named ... oh, never mind).
Likely starting lineup: Williams, PG; Parker, SG; Joey Graham, SF; Jamison, PF; Anderson Varejao, C.
Player to watch: J.J. Hickson. He’s the guy the Cavs refused to give up in any trade scenario for Jamison or Amar’e Stoudemire. With you-know-who out of the picture, Hickson should benefit from increased touches and has a chance to be a bright spot as the otherwise dismal post-you-know-who era begins.
Chemistry check: Williams and Jamison both thought they were coming to Cleveland to win titles with you-know-who. Well, with you-know-who having taken his you-know-whats to South Beach, it will be interesting to watch how these veterans approach a daunting rebuilding project.
Camp battles: Graham, Jamario Moon and Jawad Williams will have a lively competition to replace you-know-who at small forward.
Biggest strength: If you take the glass-half-full approach, this is actually the ideal opportunity for Scott to re-establish a winning culture and instill his usual combination of defense, toughness, up-tempo offense and conditioning without getting pushback from cranky veterans who have grown tired of him. (That comes later.) Also, as difficult as this is for Cavs fans to swallow, the Cavs acquired some very useful assets in the sign-and-trade transaction that ultimately sent you-know-you to Miami. With multiple future first- and second-round picks, expiring contracts and a $14.5 million trade exception, the Cavs are positioned nicely when the right opportunity presents itself. They could’ve burned cap space this summer on average players as an emotional reaction to you-know-who’s departure. But Grant doesn’t – and won’t – operate that way. He will be unemotional and methodical, which is how Cavs fans should want him to be. The addition of Griffin, the former Suns executive, gives Cleveland a keen and connected personnel man to team with Grant; it has the makings of one of the finest front-office tandems in the league.
Glaring weakness: Who’s going to score, defend, perform chase-down blocks, sell tickets, toss talc, pose for idiotic pregame mock celebratory productions, star in hour-long reality TV shows stabbing his hometown in the back, and generally just save the world? Someday, someone besides you-know-who.
Posted on: January 21, 2010 5:44 pm
The Cavaliers' announcement Thursday that guard Mo Williams is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained left shoulder presents an interesting dilemma if you're Danny Ferry.
Well, interesting if you're you or me. Distressful if you're Danny Ferry.
The news could've been worse. As Plain Dealer Cavs writer extraordinaire Brian Windhorst pointed out, Williams could've needed surgery, which would've sidelined him for months. Such a verdict would've put the Cavs and Mike Brown in the same boat the Magic and Stan Van Gundy found themselves in last spring with Jameer Nelson -- and we all know how that worked out.
Assuming the worst-case scenario -- that Williams misses six weeks -- his return would be slated for the first week of March. That's still plenty of time to restore normalcy to the Cavs' offense and get Williams in shape for the playoffs. But remember: There's a very real chance that the Cavs will lose Delonte West for an extended period of time once his weapons charges are dealt with in Maryland -- and in NBA Commissioner David Stern's office. With guns galore in the NBA this season, clearly Stern will be in no mood for a slap on the wrist. According to reports, West is due in court Friday for a pre-trial hearing. Barring a plea, trial is set for February.
So ... with two key backcourt members facing lengthy absences, what does Ferry do? His posture to this point in the trade market has been to try to parlay Zydrunas Ilgauskas and his $11.5 million expiring contract into a stretch power forward -- someone like Washington's Antawn Jamison. But now, there are backcourt issues to be addressed. And in all likelihood, neither outcome will be known for sure before the Feb. 18 trade deadline.
Play-making guards who currently qualify as very available are the Nets' Devin Harris, the Sixers' Andre Iguodala, and the Knicks' Nate Robinson. Harris and Iggy carry a hefty price for the Cavs, who already have precious little cap space to operate with next summer, when their prized free-agent-to-be, LeBron James, will be weighing his options. It borders on the farcical that the Cavs would take on Harris' $27 million over the next three seasons for a short-term fix -- one that would only further pave the way for the Nets to lure LeBron and another top-tier free agent on July 1.
Iguodala's $57 million over the next four years? Not even worth discussion, in my opinion.
Robinson is the cheapest and least cap-killing option, given that he's on a one-year deal for $4 million. (He also has the right to void any trade, but why would he do that in this case?). The risk with Robinson comes on the court, where he's undisciplined, and in the locker room, where his playful antics rub veterans the wrong way. Maybe Shaq and LeBron could put him in his place. Maybe not.
The Cavs can certainly get by with LeBron handling more of the initiating duties on offense and Daniel Gibson playing increased minutes (although the latter is a lot scarier than the former). Remember, too, that Leon Powe looms as a wild-card addition to the front court once he returns from a season-long absence following offseason knee surgery.
So a logical course of action for Ferry would be to ride it out, make do with what he's got, and hope for the best once Williams returns.
But with so much pressure on this franchise to deliver a championship for LeBron in his walk year, it's certainly worth wondering how much this turn of events will increase the temptation to make a proactive -- and potentially risky -- move between now and Feb. 18.
Posted on: December 30, 2009 11:16 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2009 12:20 am
The Atlanta Hawks plan to file a game protest after the shot clock failed to reset in the final two minutes of their 106-101 loss in Cleveland on Wednesday night.
Posted on: May 26, 2009 7:57 pm
LOS ANGELES -- I hope the bosses don't mind, but I'm going to be conducting interviews here in L.A. for a new position I'm creating at CBSSports.com. It's called Senior NBA Flagrant & Technical Foul Writer.
Yes, it's a full-time position, because covering the NBA criminal justice beat is nothing short of a full-time job.
In case you missed it, a flagrant-one charged to Orlando's Anthony Johnson for elbowing Cleveland's Mo Williams in the eye socket was rescinded Tuesday. Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor, who has an extensive background in sports law, immediately struck down the decision in a scathing, one-paragraph opinion. President Obama issued a statement that he regrets the error; Orlando is not in Sotomayor's jurisdiction.
On to the Western Conference smackdown, the subject of two correct decisions and a hilarious one from the league office Tuesday. Andrew Bynum's two-handed block against Chris Andersen in Game 4 was downgraded to a personal foul (correct), Dahntay Jones' bush-league trip of Kobe Bryant in the same game was upgraded to a flagrant-one (correct), and Lakers coach Phil Jackson was fined $25,000 for criticizing the officials (ha!). Tune into the next episode of Jeanie Vision for the Zen Master's reaction.
Kidding aside, politics has taken center stage in both series. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy chided Mo Williams and Ben Wallace for flopping in the Eastern Conference finals, saying that in Game 3 they both "fell down more than a baby learning to walk." To which Big Ben replied that Van Gundy should "come out here and do something about it" or "shut the ___ up." Good comeback, Ben! Make the check payable to the National Basketball Association and mail it to 645 Fifth Ave., New York, NY, 10022.
In the Western finals, shifting to L.A. for Game 5 Wednesday night tied 2-2, Jones' second straight game with a flagrant-one is no laughing matter. As I wrote Monday night, that brings Jones' total to three flagrant points in the playoffs. One more flagrant-one will result in an automatic one-game suspension. If he's idiotic enough to get a flagrant-two, he'll be subject to a two-game suspension.
Applicants for the new position I've created are welcome to post their qualifications here, as well as suggestions on how they would bring clarity, consistency, and sanity to the NBA's pursuit of equal justice. Judge Sotomayor, unfortunately, must recuse herself. She has bigger fish to fry.
Posted on: May 25, 2009 8:58 pm
The only possible result of Mo Williams' guarantee that's positive for the Cavaliers would be if Patrick Ewing came back with a counter-guarantee. Ewing got his last guarantee right in the Boston series, but he was oh-for-his-career before that.
Seriously, what is Mo thinking?
I'm not so worked up about the guarantee part. That's the most hackneyed trick in the sports journalism book. I'm sick of guarantees. Joe Namath made the only real guarantee. Guarantees are like socks. You can't use them more than once.
But there was more to Williams' comments Monday than a media trick. He spoke extensively, didn't flinch, and made it abundantly clear what he meant. He meant disrespect to the Magic because he downplayed their 2-1 advantage in the Eastern Conference finals and proclaimed that the Cavs are the better team.
This is going back a ways -- and to a different sport -- but Williams' comments remind me of a time when I was covering the NFL. The morning after the Tampa Bay Bucs humiliated the Raiders 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII, Oakland's Jerry Porter went on and on in interviews at the team hotel about how the Raiders were the better team. Maybe Porter had a dream about the Super Bowl that turned out differently than the real thing.
Williams is dreaming, too, if he thinks it's a good idea to give the Magic any more motivation than they already have.
The quote that jumps out to me -- and presumably will jump out to the Magic -- is this one from Williams: "They deserve respect. They are a good team. But we are the best team in basketball."
Sorry. Not if you don't beat Orlando, Maurice. And thanks to you, the Magic have something else to motivate them
Posted on: February 10, 2009 5:42 pm
See, it all works out in the end.
I'm waiting for the email from Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. Something pithy, like, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice ..." etc.
The truth is, little Mo is having too big a season to pass him over three times for an All-Star spot. It took the misfortunes of Jameer Nelson and Bosh, but the two guys you could argue are the most deserving guards in the East -- Williams and Ray Allen -- will be going to Phoenix.
I'm happy because Mo deserves it, but mostly because the Cavs won't be whining anymore.
Posted on: February 5, 2009 6:39 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2009 8:22 pm
LeBron James is not going to like this.
If you read this, you know where LeBron stands on this topic. Having one All-Star when the other elite teams have at least two each is a "smack in the face," he said.
Allen is very deserving. It's his ninth All-Star selection, and he's averaging 18.1 points, 2.8 assists, and is shooting 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from three. Mo Williams is averaging 17.1 points, 4.2 assists, and is shooting 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from three.
Mo has been a huge part of what's made the Cavs dominant this season. But I'm sorry, LeBron. This was the right choice. Regardless of how many All-Stars or perceived All-Stars are on each team, Allen deserves to be on.
I had Allen and Nelson on my All-Star reserves -- Nelson at guard and Allen at the wild-card spot with Devin Harris. So with Nelson hurt, I would've had a spot for Williams. If the coaches had voted like me and I were the commissioner, the choice would've been between Williams and David Lee. In that case, I probably would've chosen Williams.
Under the circumstances, Allen is the right choice. If LeBron wanted to play with a lot of All-Stars, he should've asked Leon Rose to get him traded to the Celtics.