Tag:Dirk Nowitzki
Posted on: January 21, 2010 11:39 am
Edited on: January 21, 2010 7:48 pm
 

All-Star Starters (UPDATE)

Embarrassment averted.

The All-Star starters were revealed Thursday night on TNT before the nationally televised rematch of the Cavs' Christmas Day blowout of the Lakers.

Thankfully, Tracy McGrady wasn't one of them.

All hail Steve Nash, who passed T-Mac in the final weeks of voting and will start alongside Kobe Bryant in the Western Conference backcourt in the Feb. 14 All-Star Game in Dallas. McGrady, who has played all of six games this season, won't be faced with the inglorious decision of having to decline an invitation he didn't deserve.

In another fan-voting quirk that was less controversial than a T-Mac starting nod would've been, Allen Iverson will start alongside Dwyane Wade in the Eastern Conference backcourt. The other East starters: Dwight Howard, LeBron James, and Kevin Garnett (assuming he's healthy).

Joining Kobe and Nash on the West's starting five: Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tim Duncan, who passed Dirk Nowitzki in the final three weeks of voting.

"No Dirk as a starter?" Mavs owner Mark Cuban tweeted. "Time to change the rules for voting."

McGrady carried a 2,375-vote lead over Nash into the final three weeks of balloting, which was conducted by fans via paper, online, and wireless voting. If Nash hadn't passed McGrady, the right thing for T-Mac to do would've been politely decline.

It wouldn't have cost him a dime, either. A source with knowledge of the situation said McGrady has no All-Star bonus clauses in his contract, which pays him a league-high $23 million this season.

It's better for everyone this way. McGrady is trying to come back from microfracture surgery. More to the point, he would benefit immensely if the Rockets were somehow able to trade him before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. McGrady didn't need to risk his health or his already suffering reputation by trying to dust himself off for a few meaningless All-Star minutes.

I don't have a problem with Iverson starting; he's been a fan favorite his entire career, certainly deserves it based on his body of work, and -- this is important -- is actually suiting up for the Sixers, albeit at a remarkably reduced rate of effectiveness.

In spite of Nash's fortunate comeback, I agree with Boston's Ray Allen and would be in favor of tweaking the voting system to divide the say-so among fans, media members, and players. The players, more than anybody else, know who's deserving and who isn't. The coaches should retain their ability to select the reserves. 

On one hand, you don't want to take away the fans' investment in the game, which after all is at least partly -- or mostly -- for their entertainment. But the All-Star Game badly needs a dose of legitimacy. Gone are the days when Michael Jordan or Dominique Wilkins could dominate All-Star weekend with their exploits in the dunk contest. That exercise long ago became a farce, and once again none of the marquee stars will participate this year.

So instead of complaining, I offer a solution. Not the only solution, but a start. Instead of voting by position, the fans vote for any 10 players they want from each conference. The players do the same. Their votes are weighted equally, and the top eight in each conference make the team. All 30 coaches vote to determine the 10 starters. The East coach and West coach fill out the roster with four reserves each.

The media? I'm not sure whom to count as media anymore, so let's leave us out of it. We'll just write about what happens.

Perfect? No. Somebody will get snubbed; they always do. But it's better than people constantly texting the word McGrady until they almost succeed in making a mockery of what is supposed to be a serious honor.

If there are any better ideas out there, you know what to do.






Posted on: October 30, 2009 9:22 am
 

To Rondo or not to Rondo

The looming deadline for extending the contracts of 2006 draft picks presents an intriguing dilemma for the Celtics -- and for Rajon Rondo.

The deadline, which originally was Oct. 31 but was extended to Monday, the next business day, is in place to force teams to either commit to draft picks after three seasons or play the risky restricted free-agent game with them after the fourth. It's a balancing act for Celtics president Danny Ainge, who joined coach Doc Rivers in chastising Rondo during the summer, urging him to become more of a leader.

Let the deadline pass without an extension, and the Celtics are taking a big risk. As important as the Big Three are to their success, the Big Three soon will become the Geriatric Three. Rondo is the future. I would argue he's as much a part of the present as any of the Hall of Famers to whom he passes the ball. Rondo makes the Celtics' engine run, and with a little experience and knowledge, his on-ball defense will be right up there with any guard in the league.

Two factors work in Boston's favor. First, restricted free agency is a tough way to live. Just ask Paul Millsap, Raymond Felton, David Lee, and Nate Robinson. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, the home team holds all the cards in the restricted market. And second, Rondo and his fellow '06 picks who've yet to sign extensions -- such as Rudy Gay in Memphis -- have extra incentive to get their money now. Why? Negotiations are under way on a new CBA that is expected to be more favorable to the owners.

So if you're Rondo's agent, Billy Duffy, you play it out in your mind this way: If there's no extension, Rondo can get paid under the current salary structure by signing a lucrative offer sheet next summer. The Celtics can either match, or not. But who knows what the RFA market will be like in the final year of the CBA? Wouldn't owners want to wait until a more favorable one is ratified before going on a spending spree? LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and a few others will get max deals. But will Rondo be in that group? If the Celtics win another title and Rondo is a big part of their success, then yes. If not, then maybe not.

The worst-case scenario for Rondo would be no extension, followed by a one-year deal with Boston for next season. Then, his long-term deal would come under the new CBA. Translation: Less money.

But that's only part of the risk-reward game Rondo is playing. It sounds cool to be part of this vaunted 2010 free-agent class. But when teams survey the landscape, I believe they'll view restricted free agents with even more suspicion than they did this past summer. With so much unrestricted talent available, teams will be very careful not to get bogged down in the seven-day waiting period for an RFA. Imagine losing out on Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire, or Dirk Nowitzki while waiting to see if Boston will match your offer sheet for Rondo. Some of the impediments that make restricted free agency so restricted are expected to be loosened in the new CBA. But for Rondo, the rules are what they are.

Speaking about the looming deadline earlier this week in Cleveland, Rondo said, "It'll take care of itself. I just need to worry about doing my job." As a player, that's the smart way to play this. The hard part is up to Ainge and Duffy, whose staring contest will end one way or another by Monday.
 



 

Posted on: December 19, 2008 10:07 am
 

Jazz owner rips Boozer

Carlos Boozer was looking dapper in a nicely tailored suit Wednesday night as he stood in the bowels of the IZOD Center chatting with one of my competitors, Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com. What Boozer said during the interview has sent the already fragile Jazz into a tailspin.

What did Boozer say, you ask? That his strained left quadriceps tendon would keep him out until the All-Star break, or for the rest of the season? That Jerry Sloan was a grouchy old man? That Paul Millsap was the most overrated player in the NBA -- not the most underrated, the honor CBSSports.com bestowed upon him Thursday?

Nope. Nothing quite that controversial. Nothing even remotely surprising or combustible at all.

Boozer simply confirmed what anyone who follows professional basketball should have known: That he intends to declined his $12.7 million player option this coming summer and seek a long-term deal.

"I'm opting out. No matter what, I'm going to get a raise regardless," Boozer said. "I am going to opt out, I don't see why I wouldn't, I think it's a very good business decision for me and my family, but I'd also like to see what happens with the Jazz and stay here."

That quote rippled through the Jazz organization, all the way up to owner Larry Miller, who blistered Boozer on his weekly radio show Thursday.

 "It's one of the top 10 stupidest things I've heard an NBA player do in 20 years," Miller said.

Why would this come as such a surprise? Top-tier players like Boozer and Kobe Bryant (early termination clauses in '09), plus LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade (player options in 2010) specifically negotiated escape clauses in their current deals -- escape clauses that kick in before the current collective bargaining agreement expires. A host of others -- Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Michael Redd, Yao Ming, Paul Pierce, Richard Jefferson, Tyson Chandler -- have early termination clauses in 2010. What's the big deal?

All of these clauses were negotiated so marquee players would have a chance to sign long-term deals -- in many cases, the last of their careers -- under the current rules. Once the CBA expires in 2011, most players and agents believe the new agreement will be less favorable to them and more favorable to the owners. All of the above players will get more money if they opt out or terminate their contracts before the CBA expires than they would if they waited.

James has parsed his words carefully in discussing his 2010 options, but he has all but said what Boozer said the other night -- that he plans to decline his player option and become a free agent. That doesn't mean James, Boozer, Bosh, Wade and others will leave their teams; after all, their current teams can pay them more and give them longer deals. Boozer went so far as to say that in his quote, adding that he'd "like to see what happens with the Jazz and stay here."

Despite the fact that Boozer was merely being honest and essentially stating the obvious, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan expressed disappointment with his comments. Boozer went into damage control mode with local beat reporters; here is the transcript of their conference call. Boozer and the Jazz tried to blame the messenger, a standard media relations ploy when someone says something controversial. The spin was that Boozer thought he was simply chatting off the record with Sheridan, who spent a lot of time with Boozer and teammate Deron Williams while covering Team USA's gold medal run in Beijing. Boozer even invoked the old "the reporter put words in my mouth" tactic. Don't believe it.

There was nothing off-the-record or sinister about this, and nothing really surprising or controversial, either. It's just business, people. Good business, at that. Can't be mad at Boozer -- or any other player -- for that.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com