Posted on: June 12, 2011 10:14 pm
Edited on: June 12, 2011 10:18 pm
MIAMI -- Guess what folks? If there is a Game 7 in the NBA Finals, the league office will have a very difficult interpretation to make regarding players who left the bench during a second-quarter skirmish in Game 6.
After a timeout had already been called, the Heat's Udonis Hasmel and the Mavericks' DeShawn Stevenson got into a shoving match after Eddie House had hit a 3-pointer to give Miami a 42-40 lead with 6:25 left in the quarter. Several players on both teams had already begun walking onto the floor for the timeout when the altercation broke out.
Miami's Mario Chalmers, who was in the game at the time, rushed in to confront Stevenson and escalated the altercation. All three players received technical fouls.
But here's where it gets interesting: What happens to the players who were not in the game, who had started walking onto the floor for the timeout, and who got involved in the fracas? Players such as, for example, LeBron James?
A league official said Sunday night that no such players will be automatically suspended for leaving the bench during an altercation, but, "We need to review the circumstances of this particular incident, which we will do, after the game."
From page 43, Section VII, subsection (a) of the NBA rulebook:
During an altercation, all players not participating in the game must remain in the immediate vicinity of their bench. Violators will be suspended, without pay, for a minimum of one game and fined up to $50,000. The suspensions will commence prior to the start of their next game.
The rules do not differentiate among bench players entering the court during a live-ball altercation and those who'd already left the vicinity of the bench for other reasons -- such as the end of a quarter or timeout. The spirit of the rules would seem to give the players who already were on the floor when the skirmish broke out the benefit of the doubt, but if the Heat extended the series to a seventh game, the league office would have a pretty important call to make.
Posted on: December 1, 2010 2:53 pm
When LeBron James struts to the scorer's table in Cleveland Thursday night and tosses his customary talc in the air -- to a vicious chorus of boos or derisive laughter -- all eyes will be on how the prodigal son responds to being a pariah on the court he used to own.
That's fine. It's a story -- a big one by NBA regular season standards -- and one that will be examined ad nauseum during the relentless news cycle that follows.
I happen to have some context when it comes to Cleveland sports misery, and also boiling Cleveland sports bile. As a writer for the Associated Press, I sat in the press box at then-Jacobs Field for former Indians hero Albert Belle's return after signing a free-agent contract with the White Sox. The atmosphere was venomous, to say the least. I was also on hand for a much sadder, more poignant moment when the contents of doomed Municipal Stadium were auctioned to teary-eyed fans after Art Modell hijacked the beloved Browns and schlepped them to Baltimore. Among the items up for bidding that day, appropriately enough, was the commode from Modell's office.
Not to bore you with my life story, but I was also in the press box in Miami when Jose Mesa vomited away what would've been Cleveland's first pro sports championship in four decades in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Visions of Edgar Renteria and Craig Counsell dance in my head to this day.
I don't come from Cleveland; I only lived there for two of the best years of my life as a sports writer. But I think I can safely speak for the good people of Northeast Ohio when I say that James leaving the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat was worse than all of the above.
There is vibrant debate in the LeBron-o-sphere about how Cleveland fans should treat him Thursday night. Gregg Doyel, a proud Ohioan, pleads for Clevelanders to comport themselves with dignity and not make LeBron the victim. Point well-taken. Others say screw that ; give the traitor all the venom that he's got coming to him. Knowing how much sports heartache that city has endured over the decades, I can understand that point, too.
There's a movement afoot to have 20,000 people laugh hysterically at LeBron when he's introduced, and various chants have been scripted for when he touches the ball, checks into the game, or steps to the foul line. Kudos for creativity on those. But here's what I'd like to see. Here's what I think would be the appropriate response: When the Heat are introduced, and specifically when LeBron is introduced, turn your backs on the court and don't make a sound. Not even a whisper. The silent treatment and reverse ovation will be spookier than any alternative, and would haunt your former hero for at least 48 minutes and maybe months. Then, turn around and enjoy the game. Even in a place that has, um, witnessed its share of disappointments, it is still just a game, after all.
And with that, we move on to the rest of this week's Post-Ups:
* Lost in all the hysteria over LeBump and LeCoup attempt on coach Erik Spoelstra this week is the question of what Spoelstra can do with his lineups to improve Miami's performance on the floor. With help from adjusted plus-minus guru Wayne Winston , I dug into the lineups Spoelstra has used this season and came to some interesting conclusions.
The problem doesn't appear to be LeBron and Wade playing together; it's who's on the floor with them that makes a difference. In lineups with both LeBron and Wade, the Heat have outscored the opponent by 61 points. With LeBron only, they're plus-38, and with Wade only they're plus-21. (They're minus-14 with neither, for what it's worth.)
Spoelstra's most frequently used lineup -- the starting lineup of Wade, James, Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony and Carlos Arroyo-- has outscored the opponent by 36 points over 133 minutes. According to Winston, that lineup plays 14.55 points better than average. In other words, those five players would beat an average NBA lineup by 14 points over 48 minutes.
When Spoelstra subs Zydrunas Ilgauskas for Anthony in his second-most used lineup, that number goes down to 2.65 points better than average and Miami is plus-6. What happens when the Heat play without a point guard proves the point I've been harping on all along: Whether he likes it or not, LeBron needs to be the point guard on this team.
By far, Miami's best lineup with James and Wade (and with at least 30 appearances) is one without a true point guard. The Supertwins plus Bosh, Udonis Haslem (currently injured), and James Jones is 44.19 points better than average and outscoring opponents by 29 points in 43 minutes. If anything, Spoelstra should have been using that lineup more often; despite the assumption that Jones' suspect defense is an issue, that lineup is comparable defensively to the starting unit featuring Arroyo and Anthony instead of Jones and Haslem.
Without Haslem, Spoelstra still has an effective option with James and Wade and no true point guard on the floor. But to this point, he's only used this combination 13 times for a total of 17 minutes: James, Wade, Bosh, Ilgauskas and Jones are 45.81 points better than average and plus-15.
The point-guard problem is underscored when Spoelstra uses another point guard other than Arroyo. For example, of the four lineups Spoelstra has used with James, Wade and Eddie House, three of them are awful -- the worst being a lineup of James, Wade, Haslem, Ilgauskas and House, which is 46.99 points worse than average and minus-8.
The bottom line: Aside from using LeBron as a point guard more frequently, you can't really argue too much with the combinations Spoelstra has used most often. LeBron is the one player capable of tailoring his game to the needs of the team, and if he does, that will help Wade emerge from his funk and get the Heat playing like a Super Team instead of a Blooper Team.
* Brendan Haywood's agent, Andy Miller, told CBSSports.com that his client's one-game suspension enforced Friday against the Spurs was for "an isolated incident. ... It's over, and we're moving forward." One person familiar with the situation called it a "flare-up" and a "misunderstanding" between Haywood and coach Rick Carlisle that did not involve minutes or playing time. The relationship between Haywood and Carlisle is not in need of being addressed further, the source said. Haywood logged only 7:58 against Miami in his return Saturday night, but got more than 21 minutes Monday night against Houston -- the Mavericks' sixth straight win.
* As we touched on during preseason , Magic GM Otis Smith was presented a trade proposal involving Gilbert Arenas and Vince Carter this past summer, and despite Smith's close relationship with Arenas, he turned it down. Sources have continued to believe that the Wizards would only be able to trade Arenas if and when he proved he was healthy and in a positive place emotionally after the ruinous 50-game suspension he incurred last season. To the Wizards' delight, that has finally happened. Since being reinserted into the starting lineup eight games ago, Arenas has been consistently exceeding 30 minutes a night and has scored at least 20 points in five of those games. While the Magic have let it be known that they're willing to make a big deal if it involves trading anyone except Dwight Howard, sources say there has been no movement on the Arenas front since the aforementioned discussions fell apart.
* The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Tuesday that an attendance clause believed to have lapsed in the team's arena lease with the state actually still exists . That means the Hornets, currently 25th in the NBA in attendance despite their 12-5 start, would be permitted to start the relocation wheels spinning by breaking their lease unless they average at least 14,213 for the next 13 games. Team president Hugh Weber reaffirmed the team's commitment to New Orleans in the article, but stopped short of unequivocally stating that the team would not use the clause to break the lease. One reason: It would cost the team $10 million. Another: New ownership would be wise to consider such a move. If the Hornets are struggling now, with inspired play from Chris Paul and a giant-killer mentality instilled by new coach Monty Williams, just imagine how bad the attendance would be if the team was forced to trade Paul after a lockout.
* As we close in on Dec. 15, when numerous free agents signed over the summer become trade-eligible, rival executives have privately started wondering if the Heat would consider parting with one of their Big Three if it meant fielding a more complete team. The face-saving option to trade and the most easily obtainable, executives say, would be Chris Bosh. In fact, one executive speaking on condition of anonymity wondered how it would alter Denver's reluctance to trade Carmelo Anthony if the Heat offered a package centered around Bosh. The Nuggets, according to the executive, might prefer an established star in the low post as opposed to Derrick Favors, an unproven rookie. It's fun speculation, but highly unlikely. Aside from the embarrassment associated with breaking up the ballyhooed Big Three in Miami, the rub would be cost; executives continue to believe that if Denver deals Anthony and/or Chauncey Billups before the February deadline, it will be in a major cost-cutting deal.
* Meanwhile, as the Melo turns, executives are becoming more convinced that Anthony would not agree to an extension with the Nets -- a stance that could kill New Jersey's months-long bid for the superstar once and for all. Having attended a recent Nets game in Newark, which might as well be Russia as far as native New Yorker Anthony is concerned, I concur. Melo is interested in starring in a Broadway show -- or a nearby, off-Broadway equivalent. Had the Nets' move to Brooklyn not been sabotaged by lawsuits and New York City government paralysis, that would've made a huge difference. But Newark is Newark, and I believe Melo is headed elsewhere.
Posted on: November 22, 2010 9:52 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 10:14 pm
Erick Dampier has a one-year offer from the Miami Heat and is expected to sign it Tuesday, CBSSports.com has learned.
The 35-year-old center arrived in Miami Monday night and, pending his passing of a medical exam, will join the team to replace Udonis Haslem, who is out until at least February with a torn ligament in his foot. The deal is for one year at the prorated veteran's minimum, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The Heat will have to release a player to create a roster spot for Dampier, likely Dexter Pittman or Jamaal Magloire.
The Heat previously worked out Dampier in September, but decided not to proceed with an offer. The Suns, Raptors, Rockets and Bucks pursued Dampier, who had a verbal agreement to join the Rockets. But Houston surprisingly backed away after failing to clear a roster spot for Dampier. In the end, Dampier got his preferred situation: a title contender forced to accelerate its pursuit of him based on a need that arose during the season. His patience, it turns out, paid off.
Another team inquired about Dampier Monday: the Hornets, who caused Dampier to give them serious consideration based on their 11-1 start. But the Heat remained the ideal fit from Dampier's perspective, and he becomes the latest free agent to join Miami's title pursuit -- albeit under unfortunate circumstances.
The need to act quickly in the wake of news Monday that Haslem will need foot surgery that will shelve him for several months was only underscored Monday night, when the Heat were getting blown out at home by Indiana. Even with the high-profile free-agent additions of the summer, Miami still lacks a true center and has been getting exploited around the basket by bigger, tougher teams.
How ready Dampier is will determine how quickly the Heat will be able to reverse that trend. By his own admission, Dampier has always been a player who plays himself into shape as the season progresses. After initially meeting with the Heat in September, Dampier considered working out at the Pro Training Center in Clearwater, Fla., to get himself ready to sign. In the end, he decided not to take that route.
Further complicating the decision on who to sign as Haslem's replacement is the fact that Miami's offensive efficiency clearly has been hurt by their slow pace and coach Erik Spoelstra's insistence on playing a traditional point guard with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Adding Dampier, a plodding, post-up center with limited mobility, may signal that Spoelstra -- and, by extension, president Pat Riley -- are digging in on their strategic preferences instead of freeing up the offense with smaller lineups. Either way, Dampier was the best and only option available to a team that badly needs an interior presence to get past Boston or Orlando in the East.
Posted on: November 22, 2010 5:11 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 10:19 pm
Heat forward Udonis Haslem will undergo foot surgery Tuesday and miss several months, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com.
The surgery, first reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel , creates a huge void in Miami's frontcourt rotation and will require them to revisit their pursuit of free-agent center Erick Dampier.
The prognosis for Haslem's recovery from the procedure to repair a torn ligament in his left foot likely makes returning after the All-Star break the best-case scenario. With its already thin front line having been exploited at times against bigger lineups, Miami will have to add a big man to replace Haslem's rebounding and post defense. Replacing his leadership will be even more difficult.
UPDATE: The Heat offered Dampier, 35, a one-year contract at the prorated veteran's minimum and he is expected to sign it Tuesday, CBSSports.com has learned. Miami will have to release a player -- Dexter Pittman or Jamaal Magloire, according to sources -- to create a roster spot for Dampier.
After initially being rebuffed by the Heat, Dampier appeared headed for the Rockets. But the deal fell apart when Houston had difficulty creating a roster spot for him, according to an NBA front office source. The Suns and Trail Blazers also have inquired about Dampier, who would be an ideal fit because he's a natural center and thus would limit the exposure of Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony at the five position -- a spot neither is ideally suited to play.
The Blazers are down two big men after the retirement of Fabricio Oberto and the news that 2007 No. 1 pick Greg Oden will miss the rest of the season due to microfracture surgery. Portland signed Sean Marks after working out Marks, Randolph, Earl Barron, and Dwayne Jones. Barron later signed with the Suns, who are no longer pursuing Dampier; the opportunity for Dampier would be only short-term in Phoenix because starting center Robin Lopez's knee injury is not a long-term situation.
Another name on the market, Mikki Moore, was discussed by Portland officials when Oberto retired, but the team elected not to pursue him. Moore has played for six teams in the past six seasons.
Posted on: July 13, 2010 2:47 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2010 5:24 pm
The Heat took another important step toward assembling a supporting cast for their Big Three, agreeing to terms with former Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas Tuesday, a person with knowledge of the decision confirmed to CBSSports.com.
Miami has used the cap space created by Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh accepting less than maximum salaries in the first year of their contracts, plus the salary dump of Michael Beasley, to add shooter Mike Miller, Juwan Howard and Ilgauskas while retaining forward Udonis Haslem. Miami officials met with Lakers point guard Derek Fisher, but the five-time champion elected to return to L.A.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported Miami's agreement with Ilgauskas, a longtime teammate and friend of James. The Cavs had a standing offer on the table for Ilgauskas, who decided to join James in Miami for the chance to win the first championship of his 12-year career.
The Heat have several more roster spots to fill and are able to offer mostly the veteran's minimum. Miller fit into Beasley's $5 million slot, and the money for Haslem and Ilgauskas resulted from Wade accepting a first-year salary of $14.2 million -- about $2.4 million less than the max -- according to sources. James and Bosh took first-year salaries of $14.5 million.
Posted on: July 9, 2010 5:45 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2010 6:56 pm
Shut out in their pursuit of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the Knicks are close to landing a more traditional point guard to run Mike D'Antoni's offense. Free-agent Raymond Felton is close to a multi-year agreement to join Amar'e Stoudemire in New York.
With cap space to burn after James turned down the Knicks for a chance to join Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, the Knicks have quickly turned to Plan B. First, they got Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike and Ronny Turiaf from Golden State in a sign-and-trade that sent David Lee to the Warriors. Team president Donnie Walsh's next target was a point guard or point-forward capable of inititiating D'Antoni's up-tempo, pick-and-roll offense. Felton, 26, the fifth pick in the 2005 draft, is the best available option and a good fit for D'Antoni's system. Though Felton averaged career lows in scoring average (12.1) and assists (5.6) last season, he shot a career-high 39 percent from 3-point range.
With Felton and Randolph, the 14th pick in 2008, the Knicks are on the verge of acquiring two recent lottery picks in the less than 24 hours since James turned them down. The team had been holding out hope that it could outbid the Heat and Bulls for sharpshooter Mike Miller, but Knicks president Donnie Walsh said on a conference call with reporters Friday that Miller was signing with the Heat, who offered a five-year, approximately $30 million deal.
Free-agent Kyle Korver has agreed to a three-year, $15 million deal with the Bulls, a person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed to CBSSports.com Friday. ... Agent Henry Thomas reports steady progress on contracts for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, with all signs pointing to Bosh going to Miami in a sign-and-trade that would land him the same six-year, $126 million deal that Wade will get to stay with the Heat. Max deals starting at $16.57 million for all three of the Miami free agents would become available if the Heat are able to pull off a sign-and-trade for LeBron James, who committed to Miami Thursday night. The maneuver, along with the trade of Michael Beasley to Minnesota, also would open up space for Miami to retain free-agent Udonis Haslem. ... Our Facts & Rumors blog has the goods on Tyrus Thomas agreeing to a five-year, $40 million deal to stay in Charlotte with the Bobcats.