Posted on: August 10, 2010 7:02 pm
NEW YORK -- We're barely a month removed from the biggest free-agent feeding frenzy in NBA history, and already the next wave has begun.
The Knicks' controversial attempt to hire Isiah Thomas as a consultant hasn't dissuaded candidates from pitching themselves as the right man for a job that team president Donnie Walsh has left vacant since he was hired two years ago -- a day-to-day GM who eventually would succeed him. The latest twist, according to sources familiar with the situation, has potential candidates angling to present themselves to Walsh and Garden chairman James Dolan as the man who is capable of delivering Carmelo Anthony as a free agent next summer.
The overtures have fallen on deaf ears with Walsh for two reasons, sources say: 1) Walsh has yet to receive clearance to hire a general manager to handle the day-to-day basketball operations, and 2) The respected, 69-year-old executive has grown tired of the free-agent recruitment game and the dishonest pitches that invariably come with it.
Walsh's desire to decompress from the untoward free-agent hysteria, however, didn't stop Dolan from hiring Thomas -- who was ousted and replaced by Walsh and coach Mike D'Antoni in 2008 -- as a consultant whose primary duty will be to recruit free agents. Sources say the hiring may very well be struck down by the NBA, which has strict rules against team employees having contact with high school, college and international players not yet eligible for the NBA draft.
Thomas positioned himself to return to the Knicks by convincing Dolan that he played an important role in the team landing free-agent power forward Amar'e Stoudemire this summer. The Knicks struck out on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and decided they needed someone with Thomas' clout to ensure it wouldn't happen again.
But Thomas isn't the only current or former NBA executive trying to tout himself as the man who can persuade Anthony, a free agent next summer, to join Stoudemire with the Knicks. Part of that strategy, sources say, includes efforts on the part of at least one candidate to pitch himself to Creative Artists Agency -- the firm that represents Anthony -- as an addition to the Knicks' front office who could bring Anthony with him.
Walsh has had it on the back burner for some time to hire a lead assistant with a big enough profile -- and substantial enough resume -- to replace him when he retires. Such a move would create a rare spasm of continuity for an organization that had known nothing but change and turmoil prior to Walsh's hiring two years ago. Strong indications within the organization this summer have pointed to former player Allan Houston being groomed as Walsh's successor. Houston impressed Dolan and other team officials with his performance in an expanded role during the free-agency period this summer.
Walsh is two years into a four-year contract, and the Knicks must decide by March 31, 2011 whether to guarantee the final year of the deal.
Anthony, an ideal fit for the Knicks, already has told confidants this summer that he's eager to explore playing in New York. His dilemma is whether to turn down a three-year, $65 million extension offer from the Nuggets with only 10 months left in the current collective bargaining agreement. The new deal is expected to be much less lucrative for players. Sources say owners who were rattled by this summer's free-agent frenzy -- orchestrated by CAA, which represented James, Wade and Chris Bosh -- are determined to clamp down not only on player salaries in the new agreement, but also player movement.
Anthony's desire to play in New York is so strong, sources say, that those close to the three-time All-Star have scoffed at the efforts of executives touting themselves as being able to deliver him.
"Carmelo already wants to play in New York," one person with knowledge of his plans told CBSSports.com. "He doesn't need anybody to bring him there. He's a gunslinger. That situation is perfect for him."
Anthony's teammate, Chauncey Billups, said after Team USA practice Tuesday that he still doesn't know whether Anthony will sign the extension or test the free-agent waters next summer.
"If I was a betting man? I don’t know," Billups said. "Of course, I'm biased because I'm playing on the team that he’s playing on. But I'm optimistic that he’s going to come back and play for the Nuggets. I know he loves the city. Shoot, he’s been there since he was 20 years old. So I'm optimistic, but I don’t know. I wish I did, but I don’t."
Posted on: January 31, 2010 11:30 pm
A loss to the Chicago Bulls that didn't need to happen was even more costly than the New Orleans Hornets imagined.
All-Star point guard Chris Paul hurt his left knee chasing a needless court-length pass by David West Friday night during a 108-106 overtime loss to the Bulls. As a result, Paul will have the knee scoped and is expected to miss at least a month, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com Sunday night.
More will be known about the severity of a meniscus tear in Paul's left knee once the scope is performed Monday, but it's clear that he will miss the All-Star Game and at least a month of time. Yahoo! Sports first reported that Paul would need surgery.
One person familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com that Paul tweaked the knee Wednesday night in a 123-110 victory at Golden State. On Friday night, the Hornets appeared to have a victory over the Bulls wrapped up when West threw a court-length pass out of Paul's reach in the final seconds of regulation. Paul aggravated the knee, and the Bulls parlayed the turnover into an overtime-forcing basket.
Paul's absence will not only impair the Hornets' quest for a playoff spot, it also will open an All-Star spot for Denver's Chauncey Billups or Golden State's Monta Ellis, two deserving Western Conference guards who were left off the coaches' list of reserves named last week.
Posted on: January 28, 2010 11:53 am
Edited on: January 28, 2010 7:45 pm
First of all, as Charles Barkley would say, I love the seven first-time selections. All-Star weekend is badly in need of some juice, and I think there's a good chance that some of these first-timers -- Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo -- will provide some of the weekend's most memorable moments.
I know this is a knee-jerk sports world and we're supposed to fight about everything, but I don't have enormous problems with the coaches' selections. In the East, they picked Rose and Al Horford over my picks -- David Lee and Josh Smith. I disagree on Horford; Smith is the Hawks' most important player after Joe Johnson, and Horford doesn't play enough minutes to be an All-Star. Lee deserves to be there, too. Being based in New York, I have more than my share of chances to watch him bust his behind on a talent-less team. Rose? I don't have any problem with him being an All-Star. He'll be great to watch in an All-Star Game. Guys like Rose understand the moment and know how to rise to it.
In the West, I only differed with the coaches on one selection: They chose Zach Randolph; I chose Chauncey Billups. If I met with every coach who chose Randolph and we debated outside some NBA locker room, I don't think anybody would win. Z-Bo is having a great year on a surprisingly competitive team. Billups remains the glue that keeps the Nuggets together. I'll take the No. 2 pick in that draft and be happy.
In making my picks, I used the same criteria the coaches are instructed to use: select seven reserves, ranked 1-7 for weighting purposes, according to the following positional breakdown: center, two forwards, two guards, and two wild cards.
Here were my picks -- with the coaches' alternative in parentheses, where applicable:
1. Chris Bosh, F, Toronto: The "other" 2010 free agent went into the season determined to put up huge numbers, which he is. Bosh's steady play also is a big reason for the Raptors' recent resurgence.
2. Rajon Rondo, G, Boston: Nothing against Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen, but Rondo may have surpassed both of them as the most important Celtic after Paul Pierce.
3. Josh Smith, F, Atlanta (Coaches picked Derrick Rose): Defense, shot-blocking, scoring -- J-Smoove does it all, except take too many 3-pointers. He's eliminated that annoying aspect of his game and deserves to be rewarded.
4. Gerald Wallace, F (wild card), Charlotte: This is a tough call between Wallace and Danny Granger. I'll give the nod to Wallace because of defense and team success.
5. David Lee, C, Knicks (Coaches picked Al Horford): It's time to stop attributing Lee's machine-like double-double production to Mike D'Antoni's system and recognize that there's nothing wrong with being one of the best pick-and-roll big men in the league.
6. Joe Johnson, G, Atlanta: Johnson should send a thank-you gift to Jamal Crawford, whose ability to absorb some of the end-of-quarter/end-of-game scoring load has kept Johnson fresh.
7. Paul Pierce, F (wild card), Boston: Rondo makes the Celtics' engine go, but Pierce is still the closer -- one of the best in the league at both ends of the floor.
1. Dirk Nowitzki, F, Dallas: Still playing at an MVP level and never gets the recognition he deserves.
2. Chris Paul, G, New Orleans: In terms of statistics and overall talent, the best point guard in the league.
3. Brandon Roy, G, Portland: With all of Portland's injuries -- including Roy's own balky hamstring of late -- this budding superstar deserves credit for keeping the Blazers afloat.
4. Chauncey Billups, G (wild card), Denver (Coaches picked Zach Randolph): We take Mr. Big Shot for granted because he's so consistent, but remember: He's consistently great. Monta Ellis deserves serious consideration here or for one of the wild-card spots, but there are simply too many great guards in the West for him to break through.
5. Pau Gasol, C, Lakers: Despite missing a big chunk of the season, Gasol has played enough to warrant an All-Star nod. When he's on the floor, he's among the most gifted and impactful big men in the league. Gasol or Randolph? I'll take Gasol.
6. Kevin Durant, F, Oklahoma City: We knew he could score, but now KD is emerging as a much improved defender and leader.
7. Deron Williams, G (wild card), Utah: This is why there's no room for Randolph on my squad, despite his solid 20-point, 11-rebound averages on a much improved Memphis team. D-Will is too good -- and the Jazz's recent resurgence too notable to overlook -- for one of the top point guards in the NBA to continue to get overlooked.
Posted on: December 31, 2009 1:38 pm
Tracy McGrady is a man without a team. Unless you count the Western Conference All-Star team.
When the third returns in the 2010 All-Star balloting were released Thursday, McGrady had passed Steve Nash and moved into second place among Western Conference guards behind Kobe Bryant. Paper balloting will continue until Jan. 10, while wireless and online voting concludes Jan. 18. The All-Star starters will be announced Jan. 21.
Oh, the delicious irony of McGrady starting the All-Star game in the state of Texas while he's gotten himself banished from the Rockets for complaining about playing time. As the New York Times' Jonathan Abrams needled on Twitter, is McGrady going to wear a Rockets jersey, or one from Attack Athletics, the Chicago gym where he trains with Tim Grover?
Should T-Mac somehow hold off far more deserving candidates like Nash, Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, and Brandon Roy, the best part will be this: The All-Star Game could very well be his last in a Rockets jersey. The game will be played Feb. 14 -- four days before the NBA trade deadline.
If McGrady is voted into the All-Star starting lineup in a season during which he's played all of 46 minutes, should fans be banned from casting All-Star votes? Nah, let the fans have their fun ... the All-Star Game is meant for their entertainment. However, it's worth discussing whether All-Star appearances should be dropped as an official statistic for consideration for such honors as induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame. McGrady starting for the West and Allen Iverson for the East at a time when both are running on fumes would provide plenty of proof that such accolades are meaningless.
Posted on: April 3, 2009 5:04 pm
Edited on: April 3, 2009 5:48 pm
Allen Iverson doesn't need to worry about coming off the bench anymore. The four-time scoring champion and disgruntled bench warmer will miss the rest of the season due to what the Pistons described as ongoing back discomfort. But the discomfort for both sides clearly originates from an area a bit lower on the body.
Iverson in Detroit has been nothing but a pain in the ___ for both parties. Now, their brief and stormy marriage is over.
Britney Spears has had relationships longer than this.
It's come to a merciful end for A.I. and the Pistons, who never found any sort of common ground after Iverson was acquired from Denver in the Chauncey Billups trade.
UPDATE: Despite the wording of a Pistons news release that blames the decision to shut Iverson down on his back injury, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com that the decision also was related to Iverson's escalating rants about playing time and being removed from the starting lineup. And given Iverson's obvious dissatisfaction -- "I'm not happy. At all," he said recently -- the decision can obviously be described as mutual.
The Iverson trade has been an unmitigated disaster, at least in the short term. Iverson couldn't play with Richard Hamilton or Rodney Stuckey, and he couldn't stomach coming off the bench after he returned from a back injury last week. He went so far as to unleash an impressive tirade after the Pistons lost to the Nets Wednesday night, saying he'd retire before he ever played a reserve role again.
Iverson's contract is up after the season, providing the Pistons with about $20 million in cap space. He turns 34 in June, three weeks before the start of free agency, and clearly won't be re-signing with the Pistons. Perhaps the only surer thing in NBA history was that Latrell Sprewell would never play for P.J. Carlesimo again.
Now, given Iverson's guarantee that he'll won't play again unless he's starting -- "That's 100 percent fact," he said -- you have to wonder whether A.I.'s wonderful, combustible, eventful career has come to an end after 13 seasons.
Here's the sanitized version from Pistons president Joe Dumars:
“After talking with Allen and our medical staff, we feel that resting Allen for the remainder of the season is the best course of action at this time,” Dumars said in a news release. “While he has played in our last three games, he is still feeling some discomfort and getting him physically ready to compete at the level he is accustomed to playing this late in the season does not seem possible at this point.”
UPDATE: Not only has the trade bombed for the Pistons, but Billups has been the key factor in elevating the Nuggets from their previous status as an inconsistent, immature pretender into a solid contender. Denver has a one-game lead on San Antonio and a 1 1-2 game lead on Houston for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Iverson finished the season averaging 17.5 points, by far the lowest of his career. The previous low came in his second season in the league, when he averaged 22.0 for Philadelphia in 1997-98. When Iverson's contract comes off the books, along with possibly Rasheed Wallace's $13.7 million, the Pistons will have more than $30 million in cap space to be allocated over the next two summers if they choose.
Aside from winning four scoring titles and leading the 76ers to the 2001 NBA Finals (where they lost 4-1 to the Lakers), Iverson (6-feet) became the shortest player to attain two of the biggest individual accomplishments in the sport -- lead the league in scoring and win MVP. But as much as Iverson redefined the guard position with his explosiveness and durability, his individual accomplishments overshadowed team performance for much of his career. He clashed with numerous coaches -- most notable Larry Brown in Philly -- and his need to dominate the ball made it difficult to find complementary talent to pair with him. He enjoyed moderate success with Carmelo Anthony in Denver, but the closest he ever came to coexisting with a running mate was when he played with Toni Kukoc in Philadelphia. That didn't end well, either, as the Sixers eventually saw no recourse but to deactivate Iverson in December 2006 and trade him to the Nuggets along with throw-in Ivan McFarlin for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and two first-round picks.
Ironically, Miller is leading the Sixers to their second straight playoff appearance without Iverson. The Pistons' announcement Friday that Iverson will miss the rest of the season came a little more than 24 hours before Iverson would've suffered the indignity of sitting on the bench in the arena he used to own; the Pistons are at Philly Saturday and face another must-win game at home Sunday against Charlotte, which is threatening to knock them out of the playoff picture. Smith is part of a Cleveland team that is a strong championship contender. And Billups, of course, appears to be orchestrating a long postseason run in Denver.
Iverson also will go down as the player who personified the introduction of hip-hop culture to the mainstream of the NBA. His tattoos, corn rows, and do-rags were a mainstay for more than a decade. Iverson, more than anybody, was the target of commissioner David Stern's decision to institute a dress code for players on league business in 2005. Iverson also drew Stern's ire for some distasteful rap lyrics, among other things.
Times have changed. Now the vast majority of players willingly wear suits on road trips, and even Iverson acquiesced recently when he shaved his trademark braids just before All-Star weekend. There's no telling whether he'll keep the new look when -- or if -- he ever surfaces again.
"I'm happy with my career and the things that I've done in my career," Iverson said this week. "If I hung 'em up today, I'm blessed."
Posted on: March 4, 2009 4:07 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2009 6:22 pm
Nothing against Iverson. It's not his fault he was traded to Detroit. He didn't ask for it. He didn't tell Joe Dumars to send Chauncey Billups to Denver. I've known Iverson since his rookie year, and he's always been one of my favorite players. But it's pretty clear that the Pistons are better off without him.
Everybody knew that would be the case when Dumars made the trade. Someday, maybe Dumars will even admit as much. Iverson-for-Billups was a proactive move by Dumars to break up the Pistons before they got old and broke down on their own. At the end of the season, Dumars will have about $30 million in cap space at his disposal when Iverson and Rasheed Wallace come off the books.
But right now, the Pistons are showing that they're still dangerous when they play the way they've played since Iverson got hurt Tuesday night. Without A.I., Detroit might just be a sleeping giant in the East. With A.I., they were a disaster.
It wasn't all Iverson's fault. Spare me all the anti-A.I. rants about Iverson being a cancer. He has been who he is for 13 years, and he's not going to change now. The trade was a gamble from the get-go, and the final score won't be known for two more years.
Here is what has to happen over the next month and a half for the Pistons to make one more push with the core (minus Billups) intact. They have to keep thriving while Iverson is out. They're 3-0 without him so far, and a 5-3 record over the next two weeks would be respectable considering the schedule includes Atlanta, Orlando, Dallas, and Houston before Iverson would theoretically be ready to return March 20 against the Clippers.
Second -- and this is really the most important part -- Iverson has to suck it up and embrace his bench role once he returns. Everything depends on it -- for the Pistons and for Iverson.
Iverson's comments on being replaced in the starting lineup by Richard Hamilton have been classic A.I. Basically, he'll do whatever Michael Curry asks him to do. But then comes the "but," as in, "But I've never come off the bench in my career." But now he has no choice. He has to embrace the role and show teams that might be willing to sign him this summer that he's about the team and not about A.I. Think about all the opportunities he'll have to come in with the second unit and be the primary scorer, which he's been from the day he showed up in Philadelphia in 1996. It's a perfect role for him at this stage of his career, one that Curry should've recognized sooner.
If he doesn't embrace it, the Pistons will suffer and so will Iverson's reputation, which is already damaged enough. My official medical advice to A.I. is to eat two servings of humble pie and call me in two weeks. Then come off the bench for the rest of the season, do what you've done your whole career -- score the ball, without having to worry about getting Hamilton, Sheed, Tayshaun Prince, or anyone else involved -- and reap the benefits this summer when a contender sees how valuable you can be in that role.
These are all things Iverson is perfectly capable of doing. Maybe two weeks is enough time for him to decide that he wants to.
Posted on: January 15, 2009 5:32 pm
A week wouldn't be complete without Mark Cuban hitting the headlines. Welcome back to the news, Cubes. Congrats on the rare on-court, off-court, in-court trifecta. Not many guys in this league can do that.
On the court, Cuban is the subject of a league investigation stemming from a verbal confrontation he had with the Nuggets' J.R. Smith Tuesday night. Cuban was none too pleased with Smith's liberal use of elbows during the Nuggets' 99-97 victory over Cuban's Mavs. Cuban also was seen mouthing obscenities after Denver's Chauncey Billups made the deciding free throws with 2.2 seconds left following a questionable call against Dallas' Jason Terry. In the interest of fairness, evidently there is some question as to whether Cuban's expletives were directed at the officials -- as if there's any doubt.
Your humble bloghost interrupts this post to ask the following question: What, obcenities aren't allowed in the NBA anymore? Rasheed Wallace would've been banned from the league years ago ...
OK, I'm back. No story about an in-game screed by Cuban would be complete without video.
As for the off-court/in-court portion of Cuban's accomplishments, the billionaire owner's attorneys filed a motion to dismiss insider trading charges against him. The lawyers plan to argue that Cuban had no fiduciary responsibility to shareholders in the Canadian internet search company Mamma.com, in which he sold his ownership stake after learning that it would be diluted by a discounted public offering.
Read Cuban's thoughts on why he isn't buying the Cubs, why newspapers are irrelevant, the federal banking bailout, and maybe even basketball here.
Posted on: December 17, 2008 11:57 am
* Finally, the Rockets showed how dangerous they can be if everyone is healthy. Yao was unstoppable, Tracy McGrady had his fourth career triple-double, and Ron Artest played a crucial role coming off the bench in a 108-96 victory over Denver.
* Those who took issue with my accolades for Derrick Rose will delight in the fact that D.J. Augustin (29 points, 7 assists) outdueled the Bulls' No. 1 pick (7 points, 6 assists) in the Charlotte Bobcats' 110-101 overtime victory over the Bulls.
* I was standing outside the visiting locker room in Philadelphia last Wednesday night when the 76ers' medical staff, led by team doctor Jack McPhilemy, ventured inside to examine Zydrunas Ilgauskas' foot and X-rays thereof. Little did I know how stunned the doctors were when they viewed the X-rays. Bob Finnan of the News-Herald explains. (Link courtesy of TrueHoop.)
* Interesting decision for the Warriors when Monta Ellis comes off the suspended list Friday. Who gets waived or traded to clear a roster spot? Even though Ellis won't be ready to play until sometime in '09, Golden State needs to make room on the roster. Matt Steinmetz makes a solid case that the decision will provide insight into how much GM Chris Mullin's power has diminished. Mullin is believed to want Marcus Williams to stay, but coach -- and perhaps soon-to-be-GM Don Nelson -- wants to keep Rob Kurz. If Kurz stays and Williams goes, you'll have your answer.
Tags: Charlotte Bobcats, Chauncey Billups, Chicago Bulls, Chris Mullin, Chris Paul, Cleveland Cavaliers, D.J. Augustin, Dallas Mavericks, Derrick Rose, Don Nelson, Donnie Walsh, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Mark Cuban, Memphis Grizzlies, Mike D'Antoni, Monta Ellis, New Orleans Hornets, Ron Artest, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Zydrunas Ilgauskas