Posted on: January 8, 2012 5:19 pm
WASHINGTON -- There's no question which team is the worst in the NBA. That would be the Wizards, in case you didn't know -- and hopefully you don't, because that would imply that you haven't seen them.
To see them is to understand that the 2008-09 Nets' NBA-record 0-18 in start just might be in jeopardy.
In a performance labeled "sickening" and "embarrassing" by Andray Blatche, whose own performance also could've been thusly described, the Wizards fell to 0-8 Sunday with a 93-72 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Afterward, Blatche (10 points in 31 minutes on 5-for-16 shooting) attempted to get coach Flip Saunders' back, but ended up making his coach look bad in the process. It's been that kind of start to the season for the Wizards, who can't even fall on their swords properly.
"Flip is definitely doing his job," Blatche said. "I just don't feel like guys are listening and following behind what he says and what he wants us to do."
Never a good sign, eight games into the season.
"Guys want to try to do it their own way, and it's not working," Blatche said. "The record shows that. I feel like everybody should go home and focus and think and take consideration for what Flip is saying, because it can't hurt. It damn sure ain't helping us our way."
The Wizards scored 17 points in each of the first two quarters and were mesmerized by Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio. When Rubio entered the game with 1:30 left in the first quarter, he orchestrated a 17-2 run and controlled everything that was happening on the floor during his 31 minutes off the bench with 13 points, 14 assists and six rebounds.
"It's on us as players, because we're the ones being put out there at the end of the day, embarrassing ourselves," Blatche said.
Somehow it made matters worse for the Wizards that Rubio was doing this to them after they'd traded the No. 5 pick in the 2009 draft to Minnesota for Randy Foye and Mike Miller, who were gone after one season. The Wolves drafted Rubio with the fifth pick, and unlike the Wizards at the time, had the luxury of waiting two years for Rubio to show up.
If only the Wizards had known that they had that luxury, too. If they'd kept the pick, Saunders said, "Who knows who it would've been? And if it was Rubio, then John Wall might not be here."
Wall, no doubt, already is wishing he weren't.
"I didn't expect it to be this tough," said Wall who was 3-for-10 with 10 points and six assists. "It's just not good right now. ... You've got to have some type of urgency out there on the court to want to play. You've got to have some type of self-esteem or some type of pride that you don't want to keep being 0-8. It's a pride game now."
Saunders said he was going home Sunday night to ask himself: "What can I do as a coach to get us better? Right now, I haven’t done a good enough job. That’s evident. We’re not totally getting through to some guys and some guys continue to play the way they want to play and not the way we need to play as far as a team."
After his postgame interviews were over, Blatche sauntered out of the Wizards' locker room and turned toward the arena exits. Someone chased him down to shake hands and ask, "How you doing?" "Not good," Blatche said.
And it's hard to figure out how that is going to change.
Posted on: July 14, 2010 12:28 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2010 12:30 pm
The Nuggets bolstered their front court Wednesday by agreeing to terms with Al Harrington and Shelden Williams, while also bringing back one of their own free agents, guard Anthony Carter, people with knowledge of the deals confirmed to CBSSports.com.
In giving the full mid-level exception to Harrington -- five years, $34 million -- the Nuggets are now out of the running to match the Raptors' four-year. $18.8 million offer sheet for restricted free agent Linas Kleiza.
Harrington, 29, is a good teammate and proven scorer whose presence will help the Nuggets survive the absence of injured big men Kenyon Martin and Chris "Birdman" Andersen at the start of the 2010-11 season. But Harrington's erratic, often puzzling offensive play could present a problem for a Denver team that already has its share of free spirits.
Luke Ridnour's four-year, $16 million deal with the Timberwolves only bolsters belief around the league that Minnesota will trade Ramon Sessions, one of the many point guard GM David Kahn has assembled. Charlotte, having lost starting point guard Raymond Felton to the Knicks, is the most sensible destination. A person with knowledge of the Bobcats' dealings said the club has yet to engage in such talks with the T-Wolves.
Of far more importance regarding the Ridnour signing is what it says about Ricky Rubio's future in Minnesota, when Kahn already has Ridnour, Jonny Flynn and Sessions (for the time being) to play the same position. The Knicks have coveted Rubio since draft night in 2009, but Kahn continues to steadfastly refuse to entertain trade offers for the Spanish sensation, who will play at least one more season in Italy -- at which time Kahn will persuade him to play for the Timberwolves or acquire three more point guards.
The Hawks want Shaquille O'Neal to eat up some minutes in under the basket and sell some tickets. The Cavs like Marvin Williams, who was drafted under Cleveland GM Chris Grant's watch when Grant was a front-office employee with the Hawks. A sign-and-trade with O'Neal getting the veteran's minimum or close to it -- about the best he's going to do at 38 -- makes perfect sense . But at this point. a person who would be involved in such discussions told CBSSports.com Wednesday it has never been discussed. Give it time.
Posted on: September 4, 2009 1:18 pm
The Minnesota Timberwolves didn't waste much time finding a replacement for Ricky Rubio.
Just days after Rubio backed out of a deal to play with Minnesota next season and opted instead to sign a six-year contract with FC Barcelona, the Timberwolves on Friday extended a four-year, $16 million offer sheet to restricted free agent Ramon Sessions. The former Bucks point guard signed the offer sheet Friday afternoon, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The Bucks, who have point guards Brandon Jennings, Luke Ridnour, and Roko Ukic on the roster, are unlikely to match, the person said. Interesting aspect of the offer sheet: It includes a player option for the fourth year -- not a team option. A team option would've strengthened a growing belief around the league that the Timberwolves are working under the assumption that Rubio will stay in Spain for three years instead of two.
I'll explain: If Rubio agreed to a buyout after two years, his contract with Minnesota at that point would be subject to the rookie scale guidelines. If he waited until after the third year, he would no longer be restricted by rookie scale parameters and thus would be able to sign a far more lucrative deal. That situation evidently is not directly tied to the fourth year of Sessions' deal.
Sessions can play off the ball and should be a good fit in the backcourt with rookie Jonny Flynn, whom team president David Kahn had penciled in as the starting point guard earlier this week when the Rubio situation was resolved. But adding Sessions also gives first-year coach Kurt Rambis the option of starting Sessions at point guard and taking the pressure off Flynn to contribute immediately as a starter.
Posted on: August 31, 2009 8:52 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2009 11:21 pm
It took David Kahn three trips to Spain to learn what he essentially already knew: Ricky Rubio will remain overseas for two more years.
That much seemed apparent on draft night, when Rubio expressed as little enthusiasm for playing in Minnesota as a human being could possibly express. Kahn, the house-cleaning GM of the Timberwolves, knew when he selected Rubio with the fifth pick that having him on the roster this season was a long shot. So it goes.
Yahoo! Sports first reported Monday night that Rubio and agent Dan Fegan have agreed to a six-year deal with Regal FC Barcelona. It was the Barcelona club -- and not Kahn's Timberwolves -- that after weeks of uncertainty was able to negotiate a buyout with Rubio's Spanish team, JKV Joventut, a high-level coaching source confirmed to CBSSports.com. Naturally, there is an out clause in Rubio's deal with Barcelona after two years. This means that the T-Wolves are going to have to do exactly what Kahn said on draft night he was willing to do: Wait until Rubio is 20 years old before seeing him in Minnesota.
So if nothing else, at least the Rubio situation is resolved. At least the T-Wolves can move forward with a perfectly good explanation for drafting point guard Jonny Flynn one pick after Rubio. Say what you want about Kahn -- and plenty have and will continue to -- but he didn't budge from his draft night premise that he was willing to wait a couple of years for Rubio. So Rubio will mature and get better -- albeit against sub-NBA competition -- and Kahn's team will begin the rebuilding process with a very capable point guard in Flinn. Can the two play together in the same backcourt in 2011-12? Time will tell. But in the meantime, Kahn moves forward with a formidable asset in Rubio. Even if he never plays a single game in Minnesota.
Kahn is quickly becoming the most mysterious executive in the NBA, tearing a page straight from the book written by his mentor, Donnie Walsh. He is humorless and needs to brush up on his people skills -- despite the fact that he's a former member of the media. (Maybe this explains why he is a former member.) But I'll give him credit for this much: It took a certain amount of gumption to welcome a controversy like this with the very first and most important decision of his regime. Whether it ultimately works out or not is very much an unknown. Say Kahn is in over his head if you want; you might ultimately be correct. But I have no problem giving Kahn credit for being unafraid of Fegan and all the contractual entanglements that came with Rubio. Enjoy Barcelona, Ricky. See you in 2011.
Posted on: August 10, 2009 11:56 am
Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis is finalizing contract details to become the Timberwolves' next head coach, with the agreement expected to be signed Tuesday, according to a person involved in the negotiations.
Posted on: August 6, 2009 11:30 am
Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis has traveled to Minnesota to meet for a third time with Timberwolves officials about the team's long-vacant head coaching job. A person with direct knowledge of the talks confirmed that Rambis has emerged as the favorite to succeed Kevin McHale and is awaiting a formal contract proposal.
The T-Wolves, led by new GM David Kahn, have undertaken a thorough and painstaking process to name a replacement for McHale, who left the organization amid disagreements with Kahn about how to remake the roster. Kahn interviewed a laundry list of current assistant coaches for the job, illustrating the T-Wolves' unsurprising efforts to minimize the cost of a head coaching hire. The list was recently narrowed to three candidates: Rambis, ESPN/ABC analyst Mark Jackson, and Rockets assistant Elston Turner.
Minnesota's coaching search has been sidetracked this summer by Kahn's efforts to broker a buyout with No. 5 overall pick Ricky Rubio's Spanish team, DKV Joventut. Kahn and T-Wolves owner Glen Taylor met with Rubio's agent, Dan Fegan, last month at Las Vegas Summer League, and Kahn also traveled to Spain in an effort to broker a deal. While Fegan attempts to secure endorsement deals for Rubio that would help fund his buyout -- the T-Wolves can contribute only $500,000 under NBA rules -- Joventut reportedly is weighing whether to accept a buyout or sell his contract to another European team, which could be more lucrative.
Rambis, who helped coach the Lakers to their 15th NBA title in June, has emerged as the favorite partly due to Fegan's fondness for him -- the theory being that hiring a coach Rubio finds acceptable would enhance the chances of the 18-year-old point guard reporting to Minnesota rather than continuing to play overseas.
Rambis going to Minnesota would essentially clear a path for Lakers assistant Brian Shaw to become Phil Jackson's right-hand man on the Lakers' bench and eventually succeed Jackson when he retires.
Posted on: July 13, 2009 11:22 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2009 11:42 pm
LAS VEGAS -- Ricky Rubio's agent, Dan Fegan, met with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor Monday to get acquainted and attempt to resolve the logjam that has the Spanish point guard almost certainly headed back to Spain for at least a year or two.
Nothing was decided at two separate meetings at the COX Pavilion during summer league play, and a resoolution is not imminent, according to a person familiar with the meetings. Minnesota thus far has resisted any overtures aimed at trading Rubio to a team that he'd be willing to join immediately.
Timberwolves GM David Kahn reiterated that he is prepared to be "extremely patient" with Rubio, "even if it means waiting a year or two." Rubio, 18, decided after Minnesota draft him that he preferred to return to his Spanish team rather than negotiate a buyout. All the Timberwolves can contribute to the buyout, according to the collective bargaining agreement, is $500,000. The buyout in his contract with DKV Joventut originally was for $6.6 million, but recent reports have placed it closer to the $4 million range.
The T-Wolves, who also drafted point guard Jonny Flynn, of course would retain Rubio's rights while he is playing overseas. He would be 20 years old and more experience when he eventually returned to the NBA.
Posted on: June 27, 2009 1:23 am
Reading between the lines is a favorite pastime when it comes to the Knicks. Anything remotely resembling a clue that the NBA's supposed flagship franchise might acquire one of basketball's hottest commodities results in endless speculation, twisted interpretation, and innuendo.
See the entry under James, LeBron.
Now see the new entry under Rubio, Ricky.
Meeting with the media at the Knicks' Westchester County training facility on Friday, team president Donnie Walsh mentioned that he planned to call his former employee, Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn, to find out why he drafted so many point guards. And yes, Walsh coyly stated, Rubio's cold response to being drafted by the 'Wolves and his probable return to Spain as a result would be discussed.
I shudder at the thought of viewing the back pages of the New York tabloids on Saturday. For one, it's my first day off in a long time. For another, Rubio most certainly will be pictured there. If not for Michael Jackson, Rubio might be on the front page.
As I tried to tell you on draft night, there's no need for this. Kahn isn't trading Rubio. He's not going to be a Knick, no matter how much agent Dan Fegan wants him to be. This should be the end of it.
Hot items like Rubio have a long shelf life in the basketball-starved New York news cycle. And yes, things change. Circumstances change. People have a right to change their minds. But as of now, Kahn believes in Rubio so much that he's willing to wait a year or two for him to come out of exile in Spain. And the Knicks like their first-round pick, Jordan Hill, just fine.
"Kahn thinks Rubio is the best point ever," a knowledgeable, high-level basketball source told me. And the Knicks? Coach Mike D'Antoni, the person said, "loves Hill. Both stay put."
Just to make sure, I asked the same person early Saturday if anything had changed or was expected to change based on Walsh's planned conversation with Kahn.
"No," he said.
But just to satisfy the endless thirst for a splashy move by the Knicks, what is the best they could offer Minnesota in such a deal? Not Hill, but restricted free agent David Lee, who has received a qualifying offer from the Knicks and can be signed-and-traded after the league and NBA Players Association agree on the 2009-10 salary cap and luxury tax in mid-July. Last time I checked, the Timberwolves have Al Jefferson. No disrespect to Lee, but Jefferson is better.
Yes, things change and circumstances change. And people have the right to change their minds. But as another high-level basketball source (note sarcasm) said as one of the media availability sessions ended during the NBA Finals: "Move along. There's nothing to see here."