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Tag:Grizzlies
Posted on: November 16, 2009 5:21 pm
 

Report: Grizzlies to waive Iverson

ATLANTA -- As you can see, I'm in Atlanta, where Allen Iverson lives and where the front desk clerk who checked me into the Embassy Suites was named "Iverston." He's from Roosevelt, N.Y., like one of A.I.'s idols, Julius Erving.

Iverston smiled when I joked that his name is only one letter off from a certain unhappy point guard who is hanging around these parts. And he'll be here for a while, from the looks of things, as the Memphis Commercial Appeal has reported that the Grizzlies have agreed to waive the disgruntled former scoring champion.

Details are still emerging, but the move was a foregone conclusion once the Grizzlies came to terms with Jamaal Tinsley over the weekend. Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley, whose idea it was to sign Iverson to a one-year, $3.1 million contract, then gave Iverson an ultimatum to decide whether he is returning to the team.

The question now is whether another team will take a chance on Iverson or whether he simply will do what he said last season he would do if confronted with the reality of no longer being an NBA starter: retire.

Posted on: November 7, 2009 9:37 pm
 

A.I. in Memphis was never going to end well

Allen Iverson has left the Memphis Grizzlies amid conflicting reports about whether it is for personal reasons or unhappiness with his role.

The accelerated news cycle demands immediate reaction, opinion, and conclusions. Sometimes these conclusions are drawn when athletes' personal lives are involved. Sometimes, those conclusions are dead wrong.

We don't know if anything serious is wrong in Iverson's life, other than the fact that he's not starting for the Grizzlies and has made his opinion about that abundantly clear. (Hint: He feels the same way about coming off the bench in Memphis as he did in Detroit.) We do know that, given Iverson's history, his incessant griping about coming off the bench, and his vow last season that he'd retire before doing that again, there's ample evidence for you to assume the worst.

Either way, Iverson flew to his home in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon, hours before the Grizzlies were scheduled to play the Clippers in Los Angeles. This came after meeting with team owner Michael Heisley on Friday night and again Saturday morning, the Memphis Commercial-Appeal reported. The team described his return as "undetermined." That's an ominous word, but this has been an ominous and awkward union from the beginning.

It was never a good idea for the Grizzlies, who are 1-5 to no one's surprise and going nowhere, to hook up with Iverson at this point in his career. The warning signs were there in Detroit last season, even though Iverson was by no means the only one in the wrong there. I still believe Iverson could've helped a serious title contender if he was able to swallow his pride and accept a sixth-man role. He does not want to accept such a role, even if it meant getting the championship that has eluded him during an otherwise brilliant career. Why would anyone think he'd accept that role in Memphis, where the Grizzlies aren't even the best basketball team in their own city?

The point is, even if Iverson's excused absence from the Grizzlies is for a legitimate reason, how is anything going to change when he returns? It's not. You knew this wasn't going to end well, and now it appears to have careened into a ditch only six games into the season. Hate to say it, but both sides should've seen it coming.



 


Category: NBA
Posted on: November 2, 2009 10:12 am
Edited on: November 2, 2009 1:49 pm
 

Celtics, Rondo agree to extension (UPDATE)

The Celtics' $55 million game of poker with Rajon Rondo is over. After two weeks of posturing, the two sides have agreed to a five-year extension that will keep the point guard from becoming a restricted free agent next summer, a person familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com on Monday.

The $55 million extension came hours before a midnight Tuesday deadline for 2006 draft picks to sign extensions with their current teams. The lone high-profile holdout is Rudy Gay, whose representatives have continued to work with GM Chris Wallace on getting a deal done.

UPDATE: Only a week ago, it seemed that Celtics president Danny Ainge and Rondo's agent, Bill Duffy, were too far apart to get a deal in place before the league-imposed deadline. As a matter of procedure, the Oct. 31 deadline was extended through Monday, the next official business day.

Ainge and Duffy met at halftime of the Celtics' opener at Cleveland on Oct. 27, and things seemed bleak. Ainge told Duffy he was interested in completing a deal, but wanted Duffy to move off his desire for a contract averaging north of $10 million annually.

"And I said, 'Danny, I don’t know if we’re gonna move,'" Duffy said in a telephone interview Monday. "'I respect where you're coming from. If you have any other thoughts or ideas, I'm open to it.'" You have to give him credit. He stuck with it."

Still, no substantive talks took place until Sunday, when Duffy called Ainge to let him know Rondo was prepared to play out the scenario and hit the restricted market next July. According to Duffy, Ainge told him he'd ask owner Wyc Grousbeck to sign off on the five-year, $55 million deal, which was being finalized Monday afternoon. 

Rondo, who will turn 24 in February, has the Celtics off to a 4-0 start marked by the return of Kevin Garnett from knee surgery and the addition of free agent Rasheed Wallace. But for all the firepower presented by Wallace and the Big Three, Rondo makes the Celtics go. But some issues had to be resolved first. Ainge and coach Doc Rivers had publicly and privately challenged Rondo to become more of a leader during the offseason. The remarks prompted widespread speculation that Rondo would be traded rather than given an extension offer.

Before the Celtics' season opener in Cleveland last week, Rondo admitted that the extension deadline was "crazy timing," but vowed to push the distraction out of his mind as the Celtics opened their pursuit of an 18th NBA championship. "It'll take care of itself," Rondo said. "I've just got to worry about doing my job."

UPDATE: Duffy said it would've been human nature for Rondo to let the contract situation affect his play.

"As much as a player would say that it’s not an issue, he’s a human being, so it’d have to be in the back of his mind," Duffy said. "But that being said, more than most athletes I've worked with, I don’t think it would’ve affected him much at all because he’s so focused and so competitive. I think he would've used it as a motivator as opposed to feeling insecure about his future."

With Ray Allen becoming an unrestricted free agent after the season and Paul Pierce possessing a player option, the Rondo signing removes some of the uncertainty about how the Celtics will move forward after they finish chasing their second title in three years. Garnett and Wallace are both signed for two more seasons after this one.

And after the upheaval surrounding Rondo this past summer, the extension is all the proof you need that the Celtics have decided that Rondo has grown up enough to lead them into the post-Big Three era. Whether Rondo, who plays best with a grudge, will continue that trend with his future decided is an open question. When he's playing with abandon and chippiness -- as he did Sunday night in a 97-87 victory over the Hornets -- Rondo is at his best. When his hopes of getting an extension withered about a week ago, I thought there was the potential for that to be positive for both sides. Rondo would play with even more nastiness, and that would only benefit the Celtics, who have a veteran team that needs to win another title before the window of opportunity closes.

My answer seemed to come from Rondo's contentious battle with New Orleans counterpart Chris Paul on Sunday night. After Duffy and Ainge agreed in principle before the game, Rondo went into full agitator mode against Paul. Both players got technicals after a tussle under the basket, and they exchanged words and had to be separated after the final buzzer. Paul won the battle of the box score with 22 points, eight assists, and two steals. Rondo had six points, 10 assists, and three steals -- but his team won the game.

That pretty much defines Rondo, one of the rising point guards in the NBA. It defines his team, too. No organization has won more championships than the Celtics, who know a winner when they see one.







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: September 9, 2009 2:59 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2009 7:33 pm
 

Iverson to Memphis: Sad

It seems poetic that Allen Iverson announced his signing with the Memphis Grizzlies on Twitter. Think I'm too old? I'll break news on a medium that most 34-year-olds don't understand.

That's my A.I. Always tweaking (tweeting?) the doubters, never shy with the rhetoric.

Iverson in Memphis, a city that can barely support its NBA team with a league-worst average paid attendance of 7,570 last season -- is a sad bookend to an otherwise remarkable career. The problem with Iverson, though, is that the end will be much like the beginning and the middle. Too much sizzle and not enough substance.

Selfishly, I wanted something better for Iverson. So did he, presumably. I wanted him to swallow his pride and accept a reserve role for a contender. He didn't accept such a role in Detroit last season, then boldly proclaimed that he'd retire before coming off the bench ever again. He almost had to make good on those words, which came back to haunt him. No contenders came calling. Only teams desperate to squeeze the last few drops out of Iverson's uncanny ability to sell tickets.

One of the fascinating aspects of Iverson's Hall of Fame career has been his ability to connect with fans -- especially kids. No one who has watched Iverson for any substantial length of time can say that they haven't been struck by how hard he plays -- every night, every play. No one who has watched him can deny the ooh-and-aah factor. It's still there.

But if Iverson couldn't win with Toni Kukoc or Chris Webber, how is he going to coexist on the same floor with Zach Randolph? It promises to be one of the boldest and spectacularly doomed experiments of modern times. I suggest the following promotion to the Grizzlies' marketing department. It'll be a smash hit. Sign up a watch company -- Bulova, Movado, get your bids ready -- and see how many a lucky fan can smash with a sledgehammer during a timeout. No. 1, it's got to be better than the T-shirt toss, and No. 2, the Grizzlies now have the two biggest clock killers in the NBA.

Iverson gets a one-year deal from the Grizzlies, and at 34, it's sure to be his last. That's too bad. There was still a place for Iverson, who by his own doing has never gotten enough credit for his basketball IQ. His ability to score ... and score, and score ... combined with his knack for steals would've been valuable off the bench for a team that is close to championship contention. There could've been no better stamp on Iverson's career, no better way for him to quiet his critics, than coming off the bench with equal doses of scoring punch and humility to win his first NBA title in his last season. Obviously, that isn't going to happen in Memphis. What's worse, his presence is going to be beneficial only in the attendance column -- not the win column. The minutes and touches Iverson will demand undoubtedly will slow the growth of the Grizzlies' younger guards, who need the experience and the burn.

Will Iverson pass to Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley, or Darrell Arthur? Sure, because he knows they'll give it back. If I were Randolph, I wouldn't expect Iverson to be looking for me too often. Once the ball goes into the post for Z-Bo, it rarely finds its way out.

What do I hope? I hope Iverson can play the role of veteran mentor for a team that, despite its unfortunate surroundings, has built a pretty solid nucleus of young, inexpensive players. But I also take note of all the winning teams that took a pass.



  

Posted on: July 31, 2009 10:41 am
Edited on: July 31, 2009 3:48 pm
 

Knicks pursue Sessions; get rights to J-Will

Ramon Sessions is expecting offer sheets from the Knicks and Clippers, with New York the favorite to land the Bucks' restricted free agent.

Sessions' agent, Chubby Wells, has exchanged proposals with both teams over the past few days and anticipates closing the deal with one of them as early as Friday. The Bucks, who already gave up their rights to restricted free agent Charlie Villanueva earlier this summer, are not expected to match the offer sheet, according to a person familiar with their thinking.

UPDATE: Before getting involved with Sessions, the Knicks are focusing on Jason Williams and have been granted an exclusive, five-day window to negotiate a deal with the unretired point guard, Yahoo! Sports reported. Williams, 33, must navigate a minefield of beaurocracy after filing retirement papers last September, only a month after signing a one-year deal with the Clippers. L.A. relinquished its exclusive rights to negotiate with Williams last week. Any team wanting to acquire those rights would have to claim Williams off waivers first.
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Hakim Warrick, whose qualifying offer was withdrawn by Memphis as a precursor to moving him in a sign-and-trade or clearing his $6 million cap hold by rescinding his rights, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Bucks, according to NBA front office sources. The Cavs and Sixers also were in pursuit of Warrick, a 6-9 forward who averaged 11.6 points and 5.0 rebounds for Memphis last season. Milwaukee's decision to draft point guard Brandon Jennings with the 10th overall pick also signaled to rival executives that the Bucks would be unlikely to match offer sheets for Sessions. The Cavs, meanwhile, have made a contract offer to Celtics free agent Leon Powe, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which says Powe is ahead of schedule in his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery.
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Another consideration for the Knicks reportedly is Allen Iverson, 34, who would accept a one-year deal at the $5.9 million mid-level exception, thus preserving precious cap space for next summer. Sessions, 23, would require a multi-year offer sheet, but is younger and less risky than Iverson. But a person with direct knowledge of the Knicks' plans squashed any notion of A.I. coming to New York with the following description of the Knicks' interest in the future Hall of Famer: "Zero."





Posted on: July 8, 2009 11:32 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2009 8:13 am
 

Marion to Dallas (UPDATE)

UPDATES THROUGHOUT with further details:

Shawn Marion is headed from Toronto to Dallas in a complicated, four-team sign-and-trade that also sends Jerry Stackhouse temporarily to Memphis and delivers a sizeable trade exception to Orlando, pending league approval on Thursday, four sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The blockbuster trade, designed to give Dallas an athletic transition player and 3-point shooter while also clearing cap space for the Raptors to consummate the Hedo Turkoglu acquisition, took on several forms and was still evolving early Thursday -- although the essentials have been agreed upon.

Marion gets a five-year deal believed to be in the $35-$40 million range, according to one source, and is traded to Dallas. The Mavericks send Jerry Stackhouse and his $7 million contract to Memphis, which agreed to facilitate the deal because it can buy out Stackhouse for the $2 million that is guaranteed by Aug. 10 and not be on the hook for the rest. The Mavericks, a second source confirmed, would provide the funds for the Grizzlies' buyout. Toronto is expected to receive draft-pick considerations and/or cash in the deal. In some form, one of the sources said, "It should be done Thursday."

A third source said Dallas gets Kris Humphries from Toronto and sends Antoine Wright and Devean George to the Raptors.

UPDATE: In one of the truly random delights of NBA trades, Orlando receives a sizeable trade exception as the fourth team involved in the trade, according to two of the sources with direct knowledge of the deal. Thus, the Magic send Turkoglu to the Raptors in a sign-and-trade as opposed to Turkoglu signing straight up with Toronto. Those two sources said Turkoglu does not get a sixth year in his deal, which Orlando could have given him as part of the sign-and-trade.

CBSSports.com reported Monday night that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Marion's agent, Dan Fegan, were pushing for a trade to Dallas. Toronto's inability to take back salary due to its verbal commitment with Turkoglu for five years and $53 million didn't bode well -- unless at least one other team was recruited to facilitate the deal. That happened Wednesday, one of the sources confirmed, when Memphis and then Orlando agreed to get involved. If the Raptors hadn't found a trading partner -- they had discussions with Cleveland about Anthony Parker, who agreed to a contract parameters Wednesday with the Cavs, but not Marion -- then GM Bryan Colangelo simply would've renounced Marion's rights in order to clear space for Turkoglu.

One NBA front office source expressed doubt Wednesday whether any team would be willing to give up a prized draft pick and cash in this environment to facilitate such a deal. Perhaps that person underestimated Cuban, who has once again moved aggressively in his pursuit of a veteran player in hopes of getting the aging Mavericks closer to a championship.

Marion, 31, joins the over-30 club with Dirk Nowitzki (31), Jason Terry (31), and Jason Kidd (36), who was retained with a three-year. $25 million deal this week. Cuban also signed restricted free agent Marcin Gortat to an offer sheet that Orlando is not expected to match.
 

Posted on: July 1, 2009 10:19 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2009 11:34 pm
 

Trading one Knick reject for another

There must be more than meets the eye when it comes to the trade reported by the Los Angeles Times in which the Clippers send Zach Randolph to the Memphis Grizzlies for Quentin Richardson. Z-Bo makes $6.6 million more than Q-Rich and has two years left on his contract as opposed to Richardson's one. Memphis is under the cap, so the trade doesn't have to satisfy the 125 percent rule. Still, the Clippers should feel fortunate to have found such a willing taker.

But let's not let that get in the way of our euphoria -- our flat-out ecstasy -- over this trade.

Quentin Richardson was one of the first bad contracts acquired by Isiah Thomas when he took over as president of the Knicks. Zach Randolph was another one. One of the worst. It was a miracle that Isiah was there to take Z-Bo from the Clippers Blazers on draft night a couple of years ago.

Now we have one bad Knicks contract traded for another one. Eureka! Mike Dunleavy and Chris Wallace, the respective GMs, have found the holy grail. Next they will pay down the federal debt, cure cancer, and meet in the Western Conference Finals.

We should all enjoy this moment, but we should be a little bit afraid. Trading one Isiah production for another is sort of like Desmond forgetting to push the button on Lost. This trade could unleash a tidal wave of forces way beyond our comprehension and control.

What's next? Eddy Curry for Jerome James?

But I digress. The real, honest-to-God basketball significance of this trade is two-fold. One, for some reason, the Grizzlies have decided to do the Clippers a favor by taking back Randolph, with two years left on his contract, in exchange for Richardson, who has only one year left. So as I mentioned, there has to be something else going on here. And two, the Grizzlies are officially out of the David Lee sweepstakes. With Randolph at power forward, the Grizzlies have no use for the Knicks' restricted free agent.

So to recap: A trade involving one obscene contract previously acquired by Isiah Thomas for another obscene contract previously acquired by Isiah Thomas results in a trade that ... helps the Knicks?

Be afraid. Be very afraid. And throw some salt over your shoulder while you're at it.

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