Tag:Trail Blazers
Posted on: February 22, 2011 5:15 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 9:28 pm
 

Knicks tried to get Camby in Melo deal

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- One of the notable holes in the Knicks' roster that will persist after the Carmelo Anthony trade is a capable, defensive-minded center. The Knicks tried to fill that hole with efforts to draw Portland into the deal as the fourth team and bring Marcus Camby back to New York, two people with knowledge of the talks told CBSSports.com.

It wasn't clear what pieces the Knicks would've sent to the Trail Blazers in such a scenario, but both sources said Tuesday afternoon that New York's efforts to get Camby failed. The three-team, 13-player Anthony trade went through Tuesday night with only one minor addition -- Kosta Koufos going from Minnesota to Denver for a second-round pick.

The Blazers are actively shopping Camby, Joel Przybilla and Andre Miller and are very likely to make at least one deal before Thursday's trade deadline. Given the uncertain futures of Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, Portland general manager Rich Cho is trying to flip the expiring contract of Przybilla and the essentially expiring deal of Miller (whose contract is fully non-guaranteed next season) for draft picks and younger players.

The Nets were weighing a Miller-for-Devin Harris swap Tuesday night but also proposed sending Harris back to Dallas for Caron Butler's expiring contract, Dominique Jones and a first-round pick. Sources said Dallas was trying to get that deal done with Butler alone. 


Posted on: February 21, 2011 9:57 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2011 9:35 am
 

Knicks, Nuggets agree to Melo trade

Seven months after the famous toast at Carmelo Anthony's wedding, the second member of the Knicks' proposed Big Three is on his way to New York.

Just like he wanted all along.

And now that Anthony is finally a Knick, teaming with Amar'e Stoudemire to form one of the most lethal scoring duos in the NBA, the question of how it's going to work is as important as who's coming next.

The Knicks and Nuggets agreed Monday night on a massive, three-team, 13-player trade sending Anthony to New York, three league sources told CBSSports.com.

The deal, approved by league officials Tuesday night, is Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov and New York's 2014 first-round pick going to Denver for Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman and Anthony Carter. The Timberwolves agreed to take Eddy Curry's expiring contract along with Anthony Randolph from the Knicks and send Corey Brewer to New York -- not Denver, as was discussed in a previous version of the trade. The Wolves get $3 million from the Knicks, which will be used to buy Curry out of the few remaining pay checks on his $11.3 million contract.

The Nuggets also get Golden State's second-round picks in 2012 and '13 from New York -- an incredible haul for Denver general manager Masai Ujiri considering the superstar he was forced to trade in his first few months on the job only had one destination in mind. Denver also gets Greek center Kosta Koufos from Minnesota for a second-round pick, a wrinkle added during the trade call with league officials Tuesday. Mozgov and the second-round picks being added after the Knicks made what was described as their final offer Sunday further called into question whether Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan overruled his basketball staff to close the deal.

As they said on one of the news shows Monday night in New York, "If your name is not Amar'e Stoudemire ... you've been traded!"

"They gave up their team," one rival executive said of the assets New York surrendered for Anthony, the league's sixth-leading scorer and a four-time All-Star.

Despite the assets surrendered for Anthony, the deal was another bold step for Knicks president Donnie Walsh, who needed only two years to clean up a decade-old mess at the Garden and put two of the top 10-15 players in the NBA in Knicks jerseys in a span of seven months. Though the Knicks team that emerges from this trade will have flaws, it is the most relevant -- and most dangerous -- team that has inhabited the Garden in more than a decade. The key player the Knicks would have refused to give up in the deal was Landry Fields, a second-round pick who has emerged as one of the top rookies in the league.

Pending the passing of physicals, Anthony and Billups will make their Knicks debuts Wednesday night against Milwaukee at the Garden.

The question becomes whether Walsh will have enough flexibility to make the third member of the Anthony wedding trinity, Chris Paul, appear between 31st and 33rd Streets when he is a free agent in 2012. Deron Williams also will be a free agent that summer, and CBSSports.com reported last week that Williams began contemplating a union with Stoudemire last summer. It isn't clear whether Stoudemire and Anthony making a combined $40 million in 2012-13 will allow space for a third max player under a new collective bargaining agreement. But once the Lakers, Celtics and Heat set the precedent for superstars teaming up, it can't be good for them and not good for others.

The Nets, whose pursuit of Anthony ended Monday night in a crushing disappointment for Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov, could expand the deal by taking two ex-Knicks from Denver but are not fully committed to the idea, according to a person briefed on the negotiations. The Nets' involvement depends on which two of the four ex-Knicks the Nuggets want to trade. Nuggets officials have been pushing for some degree of assurance that they can flip two of the Knicks players they are getting for draft picks, which they value more.

It was presumed earlier Monday that Denver would flip Gallinari and Mozgov to New Jersey for two first-round picks, providing the final incentive for Denver to part with its franchise player. But sources indicated Monday night that the Nets may actually want Felton in that scenario, and that New Jersey prefers Felton over acquiring Andre Miller from Portland in one of several separate potential trades they are discussing.

Either way, Anthony finally will get his wish Tuesday -- a three-year, $65 million extension with the Knicks, the team he has pushed to be dealt to since September. CBSSports.com reported in December and again in January that Anthony, if traded, wouldn't sign an extension anywhere but with the Knicks. His persistence was tested in recent days, when Anthony agreed to meet with Prokhorov, hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and other Nets management figures during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles as a condition of getting permission to meet with the Knicks' Dolan. Anthony was careful not to give any commitment to Prokhorov, but he also didn't turn the Nets down. To ensure that the Nuggets could get a competitive offer from New York, Anthony needed to leverage the possibility of signing the extension with the Nets. So in a way, Anthony and Ujiri were working in tandem all along to get Anthony to his preferred destination in a way that satisfied both their agendas.

Anthony, 26, will join fellow All-Star Stoudemire, 28, to form one of the most potent offensive duos in the NBA -- and the highest-profile superstars in their prime that the team has had in the lives of most Knicks fans. But with the Knicks giving up three starters and Mozgov, a 24-year-old 7-footer, New York will have a thin bench and still won't have a defensive big man to take pressure off Stoudemire. In addition, Stoudemire and Anthony will be scheduled to make $40 million combined in 2012-13 -- perhaps hampering the Knicks' efforts to land a member of that summer's star-studded free-agent class including Paul, Williams, and Dwight Howard.

Meanwhile, Denver's new basketball brain trust of Ujiri and executive Josh Kroenke passed an enormous test of their will, patience and negotiating chops with flying colors. Going all the way back to September, when they refused to pull the trigger on a four-team Melo trade involving Charlotte and Utah, Ujiri and Kroenke expertly played the Knicks and Nets against each other to the tune of a potentially massive package of assets for Anthony. The strategy resulted in an out-of-control groundswell of public support in New York for the Knicks to acquire Anthony, a player some significant members of the organization were determined not to give up major assets to acquire. And in an unimaginable twist given the obstacle that Anthony only wanted to re-sign with the Knicks, the Nuggets could wind up walking away with significant assets from both of the teams that pursued their star player.

It is common for general managers to print money in trades through contract-swapping. The Nuggets could essentially wind up printing draft picks by flipping two of the Knicks' players they didn't want for assets they value more. Even if the Nuggets wind up trading none of the ex-Knicks to New Jersey, it was an extremely impressive debut in the hot seat for Ujiri, a Nigerian-born former international scout who was part of the Toronto front office that got burned by free agent Chris Bosh last summer.

The Knicks get older, but arguably better at the point guard position with Billups, 34, taking over for Felton, 26 -- though Billups is not a classic pick-and-roll point guard and will have trouble playing the heavy minutes Felton endured. Williams, a disciplined, 6-9 reserve, will help bolster New York's undersized front court, and the addition of Brewer to the deal gives the Knicks a much needed wing defender.

In the end, this one's all about Melo -- a sidekick for Stoudemire who will cause problems for Boston, Miami and Chicago while serving as further magnetism for future free agents.  

They're still one shy of a Big Three.

For up to date news on the NBA trade deadline, follow Ken Berger on Twitter at @KBerg_CBS
For more on the Nuggets' trade of Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks: 
Ben Golliver breaks down the winners and losers from the trade
Did this trade make the Knicks contenders? Royce Young has his doubts
Carmelo Anthony: No one man should have all that power , thinks Matt Moore. 


Posted on: December 30, 2010 2:27 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2010 9:43 pm
 

Sources: Blazers, Roy weigh ending his season

The Trail Blazers are involved in ongoing discussions aimed at determining how much longer Brandon Roy will have to rest his ailing knees. Among several options under consideration is shutting Roy down for the rest of the season in hopes he can restored to his previous All-Star status, two people with knowledge of the team's thinking told CBSSports.com. 

UPDATE: The Blazers are in limbo, both with their .500 record and their posture in trade discussions, until they reach some definitive conclusions on how serious and long-term Roy's knee woes really are. Roy, who has missed the past seven games while being re-evaluated on a daily basis, was put on what the team described as "indefinite rest" Thursday. 

“Unfortunately, Brandon Roy’s condition has not significantly improved and we’ve decided to hold him out indefinitely,” GM Rich Cho said in a statement. “In the short term, we’re going to proceed with an extended period of rest. Beyond that, we’re looking at all available treatment options to help better determine a course of action.”


As for how long Roy could be out, a person with knowledge of the team's decision-making process said, "There are multiple options here. At the end of the day, it's got to be a decision the player is comfortable with." Roy said Thursday that surgery was under consideration and confirmed that sitting out the rest of the season was a possibility.

Roy, along with his agent, Bob Myers, and the Portland medical staff, had been weighing the merits of a game-to-game decision-making process on when Roy will be able to play. But there is consensus among some of Portland’s decision-makers and Roy’s camp that having him bounce in and out of the lineup indefinitely may not be in anyone’s best interests. Uncertainty surrounding his status would hinder coach Nate McMillan's ability to prepare for games and also become a distraction to teammates. 

Putting Roy on a minute-limit seems unlikely, since he tried that after missing three games in November and decided it wasn't helping. Another course of action would be extending Roy's rest indefinitely, in the hopes that his knees would respond. But also on the table is shutting him down at some point through the remainder of the season, sources said. Along with the latest season-ending injury to 2007 first-round pick Greg Oden, such a move would be another blow to a franchise that felt it was on the cusp of championship contention. 

"It would not surprise me to see him try to play again," one of the sources familiar with the team's strategy said. "It would not surprise me to see him set a date when he wants to try to play. And it would not surprise me if he doesn't play again this season. ... At this point, anything is a possibility. The doctors and Brandon are ultimately going to make that decision." 

Trading Roy, who signed a five-year, $82 million extension in August 2009, won't be an option until potential suitors gain some clarity about whether Roy will ever return to his previous form. Sources have told CBSSports.com that Roy has a separate, outside insurance policy on his knees that could protect the Blazers -- or his new team -- depending on the timing and extent of any disability. 

After he repeatedly had his knees drained early in the season, Roy revealed in November that there is no meniscus left in either knee. The bone-on-bone condition is something Roy, 26, said he would have to "deal with for the rest of my career."
Posted on: December 30, 2010 11:28 am
 

Post-Ups

After an appropriate cooling-off period surrounding Carmelo Anthony trade talks after the tragic death of his sister, teams are beginning to get a renewed sense of where the Nuggets are strategy-wise. And once again, multiple sources tell CBSSports.com that Denver officials are sending mixed signals and still appear undecided as to whether they're seeking veteran players who can help them now or some combination of cap relief, draft picks and young players. 

As a result of what one rival executive referred to as the Nuggets having "overplayed their hand" in negotiations with the Nets, frustrated New Jersey officials are in the process of "substantively" re-evaluating their pursuit of Anthony, a three-time All-Star who has refused to sign a three-year, $65 million extension with the Nuggets. 

No one is fully aware of Anthony's mindset after he's missed five games grieving the loss of his sister, Michelle, who died tragically at 38 last week. But with trade demands that another executive described as "too high and unrealistic," the Nuggets run the risk of alienating the team that from the beginning had the most assets to offer -- starting with Derrick Favors, multiple first-round picks and the expiring contract of Troy Murphy

The Nuggets' outward appearance of indecision could very well be a negotiating tactic, as a person with direct knowledge of Denver's strategy has told CBSSports.com that the team has decided it wants to get young and accumulate draft picks if and when they decide to trade Anthony -- not attempt to tread water with sub-par veteran replacements whose contracts would hinder the team's future flexibility. The other wild card, of course, is Anthony's reluctance to sign an extension with the Nets, which has been confirmed by a person with direct knowledge of his thinking. 

In view of their frustration, the Nets have not yet gotten to the point where they're ready to pull all their chips off the table. But it's clear that the Nets are "sick of the whole charade," according to one source and have "backed away," according to another. And with that, we move along to the rest of the final 2010 edition of Post-Ups: 

* Exploratory trade talks the Trail Blazers are involved in on multiple fronts hinge on what decision is made with regard to Brandon Roy's short- and long-term health. Team officials already have engaged in internal discussions about trading older players such as Marcus Camby, Andre Miller and Joel Przybilla. Such an avenue would seem to be more likely if it's decided that Roy will miss significantly more than the six games he just sat out due to a bone-on-bone condition in both knees. One scenario involved Miller going to the Bobcats, but those talks took place prior to Charlotte's recent coaching change. The Bobcats now are entering a new evaluation period under coach Paul Silas and have no current interest in straight salary-dump trades. "That's the furthest thing from the truth," one source said. "We want to do basketball deals if we can." 

* A person with knowledge of Camby's thinking confirmed a report that the 14-year veteran would indeed contemplate retirement if traded to a rebuilding team. Camby's overwhelming preference is to stay in Portland, and there is "no close second," the person said. But if a trade to a contending team in a city his family would be willing to relocate to were presented, Camby would be open to the idea. The Knicks, who from time to time have expressed interest in bringing Camby back to New York, are one team that would meet the 36-year-old's approval. 

* The Rockets have been engaged in trade discussions regarding Yao Ming and his expiring $17.7 million contract, but have been met with underwhelming offers thus far. One rival GM said that's because any team contemplating acquiring Yao would have to do so only for cap relief. "You have to do that with the assumption that he'll never play again," the executive said. The balance of Yao's contract for this season is insured due to his latest foot injury, and thus would provide current savings as well as future cap relief. 

* According to Kings GM Geoff Petrie, Tyreke Evans' injury prognosis may not be as bad as it seems. Petrie told CBSSports.com Wednesday that specialists have informed the team that if Evans elects to undergo a laser procedure to resolve plantar fasciitis in his left foot, he could be back as fast as 3-4 weeks -- not the 3-4 months that Evans told reporters after a one-point loss to the Clippers Monday night. In that game, Evans scored 32 points in 40 minutes. On Wednesday night, he hit a 50-foot game-winner to give the Kings a 100-98 victory over Memphis. "He seems to be managing it fairly well right at the moment," Petrie said. 

* The December holidays brought an intermission to labor talks, with no substantive negotiation expected until after the New Year. But in recent weeks, at least 10 teams have signed petitions approving decertification -- a tactic that would put the owners' right to lock out the players in legal question. National Basketball Players Association officials plan to continue meeting with teams in January and get further decertification petitions signed. If and when the owners notify players of a lockout at or near the expiration date of the current CBA on July 1, union officials will have the paperwork they need to dissolve the union and challenge the lockout as a violation of antitrust laws. But there are divergent views in the labor-law world on whether decertification is a legitimate tactic. In his most recent public appearance in Memphis earlier this month, commissioner David Stern described it as "a nuclear option. But I'm not sure whether it isn't the nuclear option that falls on the party that launches it."
Posted on: December 17, 2010 2:13 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2010 9:28 pm
 

Post-Ups (UPDATE)

Houston and Portland, we have problems. 

Two teams that have been tantalizingly close to championship contention in recent years are suddenly in turmoil due to injuries -- franchise-shaping injuries to their franchise players. 

Portland had no sooner come to grips with the loss of Greg Oden -- again -- when the gathering storm of controversy between ailing star Brandon Roy and veteran point guard Andre Miller popped up. The Rockets, struggling without point guard Aaron Brooks, now may have to completely rethink their style of play and strategy for the future with word that center Yao Ming could be out for the year with a stress fracture in his ankle. 

“They built around Yao and they’re going to have to change who they are and become a more transition-oriented team,” a rival executive said. * No one ever thought the Rockets would commit to Yao beyond this season until they learned whether he’d be able to return to the court and be productive. With the answer to that question now being no, it’s time to scrap the notion that Houston can rely on Yao to ever be the centerpiece of a title-contending team. 

Changes are needed in the short run, too. Once Brooks returns -- and that will be soon -- the Rockets will need to forget about Yao and push the pace in a way that fits the talent they have. Kevin Martin is a transition player, and Brooks certainly is. So is recently acquired Terrence Williams, who could be a key part of this new strategy if the change of scenery also changes his attitude. 

As for the Blazers, it would appear that their incredible aptitude for overcoming serious and numerous injuries has come to an end. In the past, winning masked the uncomfortable co-existence of Roy and Miller. Now that Portland is struggling, there’s no way to hide the fact that Roy and Miller aren’t a good fit in the backcourt together. Sources already have told CBSSports.com that Blazers officials are considering going young and moving some of their older pieces -- such as Miller, Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla. Miller, with a fully non-guaranteed $7.8 million in 2011-12, has off-the-charts trade value -- especially for a contender in need of a steadying force at point guard. 
UPDATE: A person familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com Friday that Roy's recent comments about the difficulty he's having playing with Miller were no accident. "He's an unhappy camper," the person said. "A very unhappy camper. For Brandon to talk like that, he's got to be at his breaking point."
Sources continue to tell me that Orlando, which is concerned about not measuring up to Boston and Miami in the East, would be the perfect fit for Miller. The Magic are not going to accept carrying a $94 million payroll into the playoffs, only to lose in the conference semifinals -- which seems to be their fate as currently constructed. Rashard Lewis’ impact continues to diminish, Vince Carter is little more than a jump-shooter, and Jameer Nelson is too inconsistent to rely on as the floor general of a championship-contending team. 

Miller could be the elixir for Orlando. All he does is find open shots for his teammates, and Dwight Howard would be thrilled with Miller’s elite talent as a lob-passer. Howard, who will be part of a blockbuster free-agent class in 2012, has quickly grown frustrated with the Magic’s obvious limitations. 

The piece that could get it done is Marcin Gortat, who’s a starting center on any team but one that has Howard. Though Gortat’s contract goes out three more years, it’s at a reasonable rate for a starting center -- topping out at $7.7 million in 2013-14, when Gortat has an early-termination option. 

Blazers GM Rich Cho has liked Gortat since his days working as Sam Presti’s right-hand man in Oklahoma City, so such a deal would seem to make sense from all angles. Gortat would give Portland a reasonable insurance policy in case Oden never becomes worthy of his No. 1 overall selection in 2007, and Roy would have the ball in his hands more -- which is something he can’t have when playing alongside Miller. Whether Roy’s knees will hold up under those demands is a valid question, but one Portland may very well need answered one way or another. 

UPDATE: According to one source, Roy’s contract is insured against injuries to either knee. There is an outside, secondary policy, the person with knowledge of the policy said, and it also covers one of his ankles. Another person familiar with the details pointed out there are restrictions tied to the length of disability and stipulations related to the timing of a particular injury. Either way, that’s an insurance policy the Blazers never want to have to dust off. Better to put the ball in their franchise player’s hands and see what happens. What have they got to lose? 

Nothing, which is the opposite of what we have in the rest of this week’s Post-Ups: 

* Executives working the phones during these early days of trade inquiry say the teams that appear most determined to make deals before the Feb. 24 deadline are Portland, Detroit, Minnesota, Memphis and Charlotte. But while execs have seen the usual volume of calls, the urgency to clear cap space and/or dump salary isn’t nearly as high as it was last summer. Leading up to the 2010 deadline, multiple teams were hellbent on clearing cap space for a robust free-agent class. Not only will this summer’s free-agent class pale in comparison, teams also are unsure of how and when free agency will take shape due to labor uncertainty. 

* Amid commissioner David Stern’s latest CBA rhetoric, sources say there won’t be any bargaining meetings the rest of the year due to scheduling conflicts and the holidays. As of now, the goal is to gather key participants for a smaller negotiating session in January leading up to an all-important full bargaining session during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles. Union officials will be most disturbed by Stern’s assertion during a trip to Memphis this week that the NBA needs to transition to a hard salary cap in order to restore competitive balance. The players view this as a smokescreen, believing that the league wants a hard cap simply as a mechanism to reduce salaries. Meanwhile, Stern dismissed aspects of the NBPA’s proposal that were geared toward improving competitive balance, saying those changes actually would cost owners more money than the current system. So that’s where we are: nowhere. 

* One aspect of the players’ proposal, complete details of which were reported for the first time last week, has gone largely overlooked. The NBPA proposed a broad outline for redistributing draft picks as a way to respond to the owners’ desire to enhance competitive balance. The precise method would be subject to negotiation, but the union envisioned taking draft picks away from the top-tier teams and giving extra picks to the bottom feeders. For example, the top three or top five teams in the draft order would see their first-round picks go to the bottom three or five. So using last year’s lottery order and redistributing the top five teams’ picks, the Wizards would’ve selected first and 26, the Sixers second and 27th, the Nets third and 28th, etc. Not a bad idea, although I wonder if some of those teams would simply be inclined to sell the second of their first-round picks. Either way, it would give struggling teams more assets in their quest to return to playoff contention. 

* As the Nuggets continue to weigh their options with Carmelo Anthony, rival GMs and high-profile agents are divided on whether Anthony would even be a good fit for the Knicks if New Jersey wasn’t able to get him to agree to an extension. There’s no doubting the star power Anthony would bring to New York. Would he make the Knicks better? Clearly, he’d give them the closing perimeter scorer they lack, and in that way he’d be a perfect complement to Amar’e Stoudemire. But would Anthony make the Knicks that much better than a defensive- and transition-oriented wing, such as Gerald Wallace or Andre Iguodala? “I don’t think the Knicks win any more or less games if it’s Gerald Wallace vs. Carmelo,” a rival GM said. “They’re already scoring 120 points a game. I think they have enough offense.” Others point out that Anthony is a low-efficiency shooter and a ball-stopper; coach Mike D’Antoni could live with the former but detests the latter. But my point is, if the ball stops with Anthony and its next stop is in the basket, so be it. In some ways, the inside-outside combination of Stoudemire and Anthony -- with a capable point guard, Raymond Felton, divvying up the shots -- would be more dangerous than LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. But here’s what the Melo-doesn’t-fit crowd will tell you, and I concede this point: The Knicks controlled the pace of Wednesday night’s game against Boston for 47-plus minutes. At the end, when they needed someone to stop Paul Pierce, they had nowhere to turn. Anthony is capable of playing better defense than he’s been asked to in Denver; he showed it in Beijing with Team USA. But it’s worth wondering if a player like Wallace or Iguodala would get you just as much scoring in transition and as the second option on Felton-Stoudemire pick-and-rolls and be capable of defending the other team’s closer on the last possession. Other than the fact that Donnie Walsh never panics, this line of thinking could have a lot to do with why he isn’t crushed by the Nets’ all-out pursuit of Melo. “The Knicks are in a pretty good position to sit back and see where the cap falls,” another executive said. “I don’t think Knicks will give up much to get [Anthony], and I don’t think they have much to give up to begin with.”
Posted on: December 10, 2010 12:02 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2010 12:05 pm
 

In the Moment: Wesley Matthews

Aside from their much-needed victory over Orlando Thursday night, the Portland Trail Blazers have had a rough year. Greg Oden's out for the year (again), and the former No. 1 overall pick may have played his last game in a Blazers uniform. Brandon Roy is hobbled with bad knees.

Suddenly, getting to .500 for the Blazers (11-11) feels like some sort of accomplishment after they recently lost six in a row prior to their current three-game winning streak. But one bright spot throughout has been Wesley Matthews, whose five-year, $32 million conrtract as a restricted free agent raised plenty of eyebrows this past summer.

Overpaid? Not quite. Matthews addressed his contract, his famous basketball-playing parents, and what it was like to grow up without knowing his father, former Laker Wesley Matthews III, in an exclusive interview with CBSSports.com.

"Difficult growing up when I was younger," Matthews said. "It was tough because he went to school in Madison [Wisc.] and that's where I grew up, and so everybody knew the name. So right away, everybody put that connection with me and my father, and he wasn’t around. As I got older, our relationship grew and we're closer now. Still not where we need to be, but I didn't expect it to be that way right now. We're growing, we're getting better, we talk, we talk often, and our relationship is on the rise."




Matthews' father won two championships with the Showtime Lakers in the 1980s, but split with his wife, Pam Moore, when the younger Matthews was only a toddler. Matthews IV shares the same competitive streak that his father had -- Matthews III famously got under Xavier McDaniel's skin so badly one night that the X-Man put him in a choke hold -- but that trait wasn't exclusive to him.

Moore, a basketball and track star at the University of Wisconsin, raised Matthews IV alone in Madison, and he credits her influence more than anything else for his success. When Matthews IV got his front-loaded contract -- with more than $9 million up front -- he finally persuaded his mom to retire and put the wheels in motion to buy her the first home she has ever owned.

"It's the best feeling of my life, being able top let my mom relax," Matthews said. "She's still not relaxed, but she's trying. She's not very good at relaxing yet, but she doesn't have to get up and go to work. All she's doing is helping take care of my business, what's going on with me, and she loves doing that. It's been a blessing being able to do that for her."

Matthews has one bone to pick with his mom: He doesn't quite believe the tale of her supposed 50-point, 50-rebound game in high school.

"I haven't been able to prove it to be true, but I can't see it -- 50 points and 50 rebounds," Matthews said. "She wouldn't lie, but she might stretch the truth a little bit."

However this season turns out for the Blazers -- who, according to rival executives are considering a plan to trade older players like Andre Miller and Marcus Camby and set themselves up for a new labor agreement with a younger roster and more flexible payroll -- they appear to have found a gem in Matthews. An undrafted free agent out of Marquette who played his rookie season in Utah, Matthews is averaging 14.7 points per game and shooting .465 from the field and .354 from 3-point range. Instead of accepting the pundits' conclusion that he's overpaid, Matthews is making a name for himself and could wind up being an extremely valuable backup plan if Roy's knees deteriorate further.

"They can say whatever they want to say -- overpaid, underpaid, paid correctly, I don’t know," Matthews said. "The only claim that I can state is I work, and I refuse to be outworked. I always want to get better, I'll be the first to critique myself, and I love winning."


Posted on: December 8, 2010 7:51 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 11:03 pm
 

Post-Ups: Nuggets ready to move Melo

After weeks of speculation and despite a strong start by the Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony's last days in Denver may finally have arrived.

The Nuggets have all but decided to trade Anthony if he does not sign an extension with the team by the trade deadline, and Denver's management team believes Anthony is fully prepared to play out the season and become a free agent, multiple sources told CBSSports.com.

The Nuggets’ strong start, coupled with George Karl’s inspirational return from cancer treatment and positive discussions about a contract extension for the soon-to-be-1,000-win coach, have the organization feeling they've done everything possible to persuade Anthony to stay. But according to people with knowledge of the team’s strategy, if Anthony doesn’t agree to sign the three-year, $65 million extension by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, the wheels are all but certain to be put in motion to part ways with the three-time All-Star rather than lose him as a free agent and get nothing in return.

According to people in contact with the Nuggets’ management team, there is far more clarity today about what the team is seeking in a potential Anthony trade than there was in September, when new GM Masai Ujiri was thrust into the tempest in his initial days and weeks on the job. Executives believe the Nuggets have decided they would like to receive the best possible package of young players and are not interested in stopgap options that would hamper their flexibility. Acquiring a high-priced veteran player -- such as Andre Iguodala, whose talent the Nuggets value but not his contract -- would only hurt the team’s ability to build around youth while maintaining payroll flexibility into the uncertainty of a new collective bargaining agreement.

The Nets’ package of 2010 No. 3 pick Derrick Favors, guard Devin Harris, the expiring contract of Kris Humphries and two first-round picks remains the most attractive option to the Nuggets, sources say. Additional trade partners such as Charlotte and Utah are not eager to get involved in the discussions again, but wouldn’t necessarily be needed this time.

The wild card remains Anthony’s desire to sign an extension with the Nets, who obviously would not be willing to offer the same package without such a guarantee. While rival executives continue to doubt that Anthony would be willing to spend the next season-and-a-half in Newark, N.J., sources who have been in close contact with the power brokers in Anthony’s camp -- William Wesley and Leon Rose -- say the Nets remain an option for Anthony.

Anthony and the Nuggets will play Sunday at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks, which remain his top choice via a trade or free agency -- even though the latter option could cost him millions depending on how successful owners are at imposing salary reductions in the new collective bargaining agreement. Sources say Anthony is so fixated on winding up with the Knicks that Denver management has become convinced that he will tempt fate and the new CBA by playing out the entire season in Denver and signing with the Knicks as a free agent on July 1 – or after the lockout. The only way that scenario could be positive for Denver would be in a sign-and-trade deal. But such an arrangement – like the pennies-on-the-dollar deals that sent LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami – would not be nearly as beneficial as what the Nets are offering now.

The Knicks, playing their best basketball in years with free-agent acquisition Amar’e Stoudemire, have believed that their best chance of landing Melo was for the process to play out slowly – and they’ve gotten their wish so far. But the Nuggets, sources say, are not sold on the young players New York could offer such as Anthony Randolph, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Point guard Raymond Felton -- who has been on an offensive tear since gaining chemistry with Stoudemire and who becomes trade-eligible on Dec. 15 -- also does not interest the Nuggets, who view him as a halfcourt player who wouldn't fit their style.

Nuggets officials are said to be coming around to the idea that Harris could play in the backcourt with Chauncey Billups, who often played shooting guard this past summer with Team USA. But if Anthony is traded, sources say management also wants to show Billups -- who came to the Nuggets not just to come home, but to win -- the proper respect by engaging him in conversations about whether he'd prefer to be traded.

Other than hoping to persuade Anthony to sign the extension and stay in Denver, the biggest variable for the Nuggets is the sliding scale of quality on the Nets’ own first-round pick they’d convey in the trade. (They also would include Golden State’s protected 2012 first-rounder). The sooner the Nuggets trade Melo to New Jersey, the better the Nets get and the worse the pick gets. But that is a matter of timing and patience. As far as willingness to deal, it appears that the Nuggets are finally open for business.

And so are we in the rest of this week’s Post-Ups:

• With the Trail Blazers' obvious struggles and the health challenges (that's putting it mildly) of Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, two people with knowledge of the team's strategy told CBSSports.com that Portland management is contemplating trading older players and going young. The obvious targets for such a purge would be Marcus Camby (36), Andre Miller (34), and Joel Przybilla (31). Roy isn’t old, but his knees are -- though one of the sources said Portland would find no takers for the five years and $82.3 million remaining on Roy's contract, given the state of his meniscus-less knees. Przybilla ($7.4 million expiring contract) and Miller (whose $7.8 million salary in 2011-12 is fully non-guaranteed) are eminently moveable. Another candidate to be dealt, though not because of age or health, is Rudy Fernandez, who has wanted out of Portland for some time. Sources caution that the Blazers have engaged in only internal conversations about this strategy, and it is contingent upon the team (10-11) continuing to struggle. But the writing certainly is on the wall for major changes in Portland.

• Multiple NBA team executives told CBSSports.com this week they believe a significant number of college underclassmen will stay in school rather than risk losing a year of development (and pay) in a lockout. College coaches making the pitch to underclassman to stay in school will have more leverage than ever before. “They’ll have the hammer,” one exec said. “To lose a year of development at that stage of your career, that’s huge.” This could have a dramatic impact on a team like No. 4 Kansas, which in an ordinary year would have as many as three first-round picks: freshman Josh Selby (serving a nine-game NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits); and juniors Marcus Morris and Tyshawn Taylor. Sophomore Thomas Robinson also impressed NBA execs scouting the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

• Speaking of Madison Square Garden, rival execs agree that New York would be a logical landing spot for Andre Iguodala, and they believe the Sixers will be more than open to discussing trades for the dynamic but high-priced swingman as the Feb. 24 deadline approaches. The Knicks, one of the few teams in a position to absorb salary in the uncertain labor environment, also would be looking for an attractive piece to pair with Stoudemire in the event the Nuggets follow through with an Anthony trade prior to the deadline. Team president Donnie Walsh would have to decide if, short of Anthony, Iguodala is the best option that will be available to him between now and 2011 free agency -- if and when that happens. And also, if Iguodala is worth giving up the cap flexibility he's toiled three years to create. Pricetag notwithstanding -- the 26-year-old is due $56.5 million over the next four years -- Iguodala would be an excellent fit for Mike D'Antoni's high-octane offense and would instantly become the best defender on the roster by a mile.

• With details of the National Basketball Players Association's July proposal finally becoming fully public Wednesday, the question of how prepared the union is for a lockout is naturally going to come up. According to sources familiar with the union's financial documents, the NBPA currently has just shy of $100 million in liquid assets in its war chest in the event of a lockout. The funds have been accumulated largely through players agreeing to put aside licensing money they receive from the league -- something they are doing again this season to the tune of about $30 million. If you add non-liquid assets, such as property, the union will have about $175 million on hand. This is a lot of money to you and me, but not to 450 NBA players. Consider that the players' salaries (without benefits) last season totaled about $2.3 billion -- with a "b." Now consider that players are paid 12 times during the season -- twice a month for six months. That means the NBPA's total war chest is enough to cover the players' first paychecks during a lockout in the 2011-12 season.

• With trade discussions typically heating up around the 20-game mark -- and also around Dec. 15, when summer free agents become trade-eligible -- execs league-wide are curious to learn what sort of trade climate will exist in light of the labor uncertainty. Many predict that teams that have typically been willing to take on salary between December and the trade deadline (Feb. 24) will be less willing (or unwilling) to do so in this environment. Similarly, teams performing below management's internal expectations (Houston, the Clippers, the Blazers) have a tough decision to make. They could try to fix their problems now, but without knowing what the rules will be under the new agreement, they don't know what conditions they’re planning for. Of the aforementioned teams, the Blazers are in the best position to dump salary because of the attractiveness of the contracts they'd be moving. Plus, Miller's value is not only in his contract, but in his ability to push a contending team in need of a steadying point-guard presence over the top. Full disclosure: this is my idea, not anybody else's, but Orlando would be the perfect landing spot for Miller depending on what the Magic would be willing to send back.


Posted on: November 29, 2010 12:12 am
 

With Roy hurting, Blazers have decision to make

NEWARK, N.J. – The Trail Blazers had one of those players-only meetings Sunday night, which is what playoff teams do when they’ve lost three straight games, fallen to .500, and shown a startling in ability to close out games – at home and on the road.

The culprit? Lack of execution, according to coach Nate McMillan. Lack of rhythm, added Brandon Roy. Effort, said Wesley Matthews. All good answers. But not the answer – not the problem that looks like it’s going to haunt the Blazers for months, if not longer.

It was the lowest point of the season, everyone in the visiting locker room agreed after Portland turned in another lackluster fourth quarter and lost to the Nets 98-96. What’s scary about the Blazers, the team with by far the worst injury luck in the NBA, is that calling it the lowest point was optimistic. It may very well not be.

When it rains on the Trail Blazers, it pours with a ferocity rarely seen. Greg Oden is recovering from his second microfracture surgery. Joel Przybilla was supposed to play his first game in almost a year Friday night against New Orleans and got sick. Sean Marks, signed as a stopgap to play 8-10 minutes again under the basket, is shelved with an ankle injury. And yet somehow, those aren’t the biggest concerns for a team whose future was once so bright. Roy, Portland’s superstar and closer, clearly isn’t physically able to perform either of those roles – and it’s not even December yet. His left knee is something all the players-only meetings in the world won’t fix.

“I’m fine,” Roy said “I’m playing. I don’t have any excuses.”

Nor would you expect any from a guy who came back about a week after arthroscopic knee surgery and played – or tried to – in a playoff series against Phoenix last spring. Now Roy has played two games since sitting out three when his left knee started barking at him again. The numbers say he’s thriving – 21 points on 9-for-16 shooting from the field against the Nets after scoring 27 points on 10-for-20 shooting in a 97-78 home loss to the Hornets Friday night. The visual evidence says otherwise.

A little less wincing and limping was evident after both were on hideous display in the New Orleans game, but the fact remains that Roy is 26 years old and has no meniscus in either knee. And it shows. Instead of closing out a winnable game, Roy settled into the role of decoy. As a result, the Blazers’ offense stagnated in the fourth quarter again. After producing only 13 points in the fourth against New Orleans, the Blazers went into the fourth with a five-point lead over the Nets and got outscored 25-18.

Their poor excuse for execution, though, is the least of their problems. Roy, a player built to attack off the dribble and get to the rim, has been mostly relegated to the role of innocuous spot-up shooter. The explosiveness isn’t there, and neither is the confidence to finish at the basket. And so the Blazers head to Philadelphia for the first set of back-to-back games since Roy returned not knowing if he’ll be able to play the back end in Boston Wednesday night.

“We’ll see how he goes against Philly,” McMillan said. “If he feels OK, he’ll play the back-to-back. And if not, then we’ll sit him.”

And that is where the Blazers are – a .500 team on a three-game losing streak with their star and closer working on a 30-35 minute limit and unsure when, or if his knee will be strong enough to play back-to-backs. It’s a game-to-game predicament for Roy and the Blazers, making it exceedingly difficult for them to form an identity down the stretch of games.

“For me, it’s frustrating,” said Roy, who had four points and two turnovers in the fourth quarter – dribbling the ball off his foot and falling awkwardly out of bounds while trying to drive on Travis Outlaw for one of the miscues. “I’ve always been pretty good late in games. Right now, I’m trying to get my rhythm back, my timing back late in the game.”

The Blazers are a team without rhythm or timing, and the prospects look grim for them to be a team with a healthy Roy for the long haul. It’s a young season, they kept saying. But it gets older by the day as Roy’s struggles become more difficult to watch.

With free-agent shooting guard Wesley Matthews eager for a bigger role and capable of justifying his five-year, $32 million contract, it makes you wonder if it might be best for everyone involved to shut Roy down indefinitely so he has a chance to be a factor come playoff time. McMillan sent Matthews out with the starters at the beginning of the third quarter, in place of Nicolas Batum, and the reasons he gave were eye-opening. Accurate, but eye-opening.

McMillan said he was looking for some “scrappiness” and “fire,” and turned to Matthews to supply it. These are things that Roy brings on a nightly basis, except now, when he can’t.

The only problem with my solution is that there’s a good chance it might not help. Privately, Blazers officials are optimistic that the training staff, Roy and McMillan will be able to find a way to manage his injury and keep him effective enough – often enough – to carry them where they need to go. But that isn’t working so far, and it’s worth wondering if the alternative would work better. Let your superstar get better – or at least try – and figure out how to close games with Matthews doing what Roy used to do.

“We’re at a tough point right now, but it’s a young season,” Roy said. “We’ve lost three games in a row and we’re .500, so yeah, it’s a difficult time. We’ve got to stick together and find out what we’re made of.”
 
 
 
 
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