Tag:Rockets
Posted on: December 21, 2010 8:14 pm
 

Sources: Mavs poised to enter Melo chase

The Dallas Mavericks are plotting an aggressive push to acquire Carmelo Anthony, even if they don’t get assurances that the three-time All-Star would agree to a contract extension as part of the trade, league sources told CBSSports.com. 

Despite his team’s emergence as one of the powers of the Western Conference -- and, as Dallas proved Monday night in Miami, the whole league -- owner Mark Cuban is said to be not only willing to take a chance on Anthony, but eager to steal him from the Nets, who are owned by his billionaire rival, Mikhail Prokhorov. In a deal that would provide Denver with little more than future savings, the Mavs are planning what one rival executive described as a “hard” push. 

The Mavs’ interest has yet to take the form of a concrete offer, as one person connected to the Anthony drama told CBSSports.com Tuesday that Dallas had yet to present one. Any prospects the Mavs might have to pull off such a coup would be contingent on Anthony declining to sign an extension with New Jersey. With a signed extension as part of the deal, the Nets still possess by far the most attractive assets to Denver -- Derrick Favors, the expiring contract of Troy Murphy, and multiple first-round picks. 

But that is the question that the Anthony saga has hinged on for months. Part of Dallas’ strategy, according to sources, is to shift the Anthony discussions to what Cuban recently called the “rent-a-player” phase, which would drive down the price and encourage other teams to present offers without assurances that Anthony would stay put for five years -- the two he has remaining (including the early-termination option for 2011-12) plus the extension. 

Such potential suitors, including the Mavs, do not have enough of what Denver is looking for to compete with New Jersey’s best offer. But if Dallas is successful in shifting Denver’s focus to “rental” deals, the Nets would then have to decide how much they are willing to give up to acquire a franchise cornerstone for their move to Brooklyn -- even if Anthony could leave them in the dust as a free agent before the team even got there. 

Meanwhile, the Nuggets remain in a patient posture and are not in any apparent rush to push a New Jersey trade to fruition. And after acquiring two more first-round picks in a three-team trade with the Lakers and Rockets last week, Nets executives are continuing their ongoing efforts to sweeten the deal for Anthony by acquiring a veteran he’d want to play with in Newark, N.J., for a year-and-a-half. Such inducements could come in the form of Al Harrington and/or Chauncey Billups, whom Anthony might be comfortable having on board. The other scenarios, according to one executive familiar with them, are numerous and “beyond challenging” because multiple teams would be needed. 

Among the contending teams with the deep pockets and championship core to take a risk like trading for Anthony without a signed extension as part of the deal, Dallas has the most expiring money to make it worth the Nuggets’ while. Any Dallas proposal would have to include the expiring contracts of Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson. More money would need to be added -- Tyson Chandler? -- or a third team would need to be recruited in order to take Harrington and/or Billups off Denver’s hands. 

The notion of Anthony going to a contender -- or to the Nets, for that matter -- without signing his three-year, $65 million extension is exactly what New York Knicks officials are hoping for. Sources say the Knicks continue to believe that the longer the Anthony situation plays out, the better their chances of landing him through a trade, or more likely, as a free agent after the season and anticipated lockout. New York has been Anthony’s preferred destination since his operatives began pushing for a trade in September, and a person directly involved in Anthony’s decision-making process told CBSSports.com earlier this month that he’d become more entrenched in his desire to agree to an extend-and-trade only if he would up with the Knicks. CBSSports.com also reported that Anthony has not shared his position with Nuggets officials, and that Nets officials have been told differently by Anthony’s camp. 

Another team that various team executives believe is very much in the mix -- either to make a push to land Melo as a rental or become involved as a third-team facilitator -- is the Rockets. Houston fully expects to receive a disabled-player exception for Yao Ming totaling $5.8 million and already has a $6.3 million exception from the Trevor Ariza trade. Such exceptions can’t be combined, but individually they could be used to absorb a contract -- such as, for example, the Nuggets’ J.R. Smith’s or Harrington’s -- without sending equal money back. In return, the Rockets would either have to get a player they want or be compensated accordingly with draft picks or other assets. The Rockets also are flush with the expiring contracts of Shane Battier, Jared Jeffries, and even Yao, whose contract is insured due to his season-ending foot injury. 

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has a history of bold moves, and has placed few restrictions on his front office, led by GM Daryl Morey, to spend money in order to win. The Rockets, for example, are currently a tax-paying team and are under no mandate from ownership to shed salary even though they are off to a slow start and have lost Yao for the season -- and maybe for good. 

A dark horse in all of this? The Mavs’ opponent Tuesday night, Orlando. The Magic have a little more than two months before the Feb. 24 trade deadline to see if their revamped roster will be good enough to contend for a title after this week’s blockbuster trades with Phoenix and Washington. But the only piece that is likely to be available and enticing to Denver is Jason Richardson, whose $14.4 million contract expires after the season. Richardson cannot be combined with other players in a trade for 60 days, which would leave just enough time before the trade deadline to involve him in the Anthony discussions. 

If -- and this is a big if -- Anthony is still a Nugget by then.
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 15, 2010 2:52 pm
 

As the Melo turns: fact vs. fiction

Carmelo Anthony is still a Nugget. He will still be a Nugget Thursday night, when Denver plays San Antonio.

How long will he be a Nugget? Long enough for Denver management to assess all its options and get the best possible deal for the three-time All-Star.

That could take a while. This has been going on since September, so what's the rush?

The breathless speculation over when and where Anthony will be traded took a bizarre turn in the past 14 hours or so, with a Denver television station reporting that the Nets and Nuggets had "come to an understanding" on a trade, then backtracking, then posting a story on its website Wednesday saying the Nets "have the pieces in place for a potential trade," with a note at the end of the story saying the station "stands by this story."

Really? Which one?

Here are the facts: The Nets have been putting the pieces in place to acquire Anthony for three months, and they took a major step toward sweetening their offer by acquiring two more first-round picks in a trade with the Rockets and Lakers, which was completed Wednesday. The Nets' efforts to land Anthony have always been -- and will always be -- contingent on Anthony agreeing to sign a three-year, $65 million extension as part of the deal.

"It hasn't gotten there," a person directly involved in the trade discussions told CBSSports.com Wednesday. "And I don't know when it's going to get there, if it's going to get there."

In other words: chill.

Another fact: The Nuggets continue to engage the Nets and other teams in trade discussions, because that is their job. And as CBSSports.com reported last week, the team has all but decided it will trade Anthony if he does not signal his intentions to sign an extension with them before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Anthony told CBSSports.com Saturday that he doesn't believe he needs to apprise the Nuggets of his decision on the extension before the deadline. Thus, the Nuggets are handling their business -- making and receiving trade calls -- and the Nets are continuing to amass as many assets as they can, some of which Denver specifically asked for in an Anthony trade.

Again, it comes back to whether Anthony will agree to an extension in a trade that sends him to New Jersey. A person directly involved in Anthony's decision-making process told CBSSports.com Sunday that he recently became entrenched in his belief that, if traded, he would only agree to an extension if sent to the Knicks. A rival team executive corroborated that information Tuesday, telling CBSSports.com that the Nets "got word that Melo will not sign there. They can't get it done."

The Nets, who now have five first-round picks in the next two drafts, continue to proceed on the information they've received from Anthony's camp -- that he would extend with them as part of a trade.

Those are the facts. They're messy and complicated and can't be explained in a breathless tweet followed by an exclamation point. As the Nuggets gathered for practice and scouting meetings Wednesday, a person involved in the process said players and management officials alike were "laughing" at speculation that a trade agreement had already been reached. 

"Sad," is how the official described the current state of affairs. 

And he used another word:

"Comedy".




Posted on: December 14, 2010 6:34 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 2:59 pm
 

Nets acquire multiple picks for Melo deal

The Nets have put into motion a plan to acquire several assets that the Nuggets have asked for in a potential blockbuster trade for Carmelo Anthony, two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com.

The first step, agreed to in principle Tuesday, is a three-team trade in which the Nets get a first-round pick from the Rockets and another one from the Lakers. New Jersey sends Terrence Williams to the Rockets and Joe Smith to the Lakers, who send Sasha Vujacic to the Nets, the people familiar with the framework of the deal said.

The deal, first reported by Yahoo! Sports, can't be finalized until Wednesday because Smith signed as a free agent this past summer and isn't trade-eligible until then.

The Nets now have their own first-round picks in the next two drafts -- one of which could be traded to Denver -- plus Golden State's 2012 first-rounder, Houston's lottery-protected 2012 first-round pick and a 2011 first-rounder from the Lakers. The plan is to include all of the above in a blockbuster proposal to Denver for Anthony, one of the people familiar with the deal said.

UPDATE: The trade was completed Wednesday, with the Lakers also receiving two second-round picks from the Nets (Golden State's in 2011 and Chicago's in 2012) along with the draft rights to Sergei Lishchuk from Houston. To clear a roster spot for Williams, the Rockets traded Jermaine Taylor and cash to Sacramento for a future second-round pick.

The Nets' new assets, combined with 2010 No. 3 pick Derrick Favors and power forward Troy Murphy, would put New Jersey in the driver's seat in the Melo sweepstakes. And the Nets, according to a high-ranking person familiar with their plan, are working other angles to accomplish the following: get another young player Denver covets and/or add an established player whose presence on the Nets would make the prospect of signing an extension with New Jersey more attractive to the three-time All-Star.

But satisfying Denver has always been only half the battle. Agreeing to an extend-and-trade to New Jersey has not been Anthony's top priority, but the Nets have been the most aggressive team in pursuit of the prolific scorer, whose talent and marketability would represent the biggest coup yet by Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov. The Nets are moving to Brooklyn -- Anthony's birthplace -- in time for the 2012-13 season.

According to a person with direct knowledge of Anthony's strategy, he recently became entrenched in his desire to agree to an extend-and-trade only if the deal sent him to the Knicks. The person who provided this information could not have been more unequivocal -- and could not have been closer to Anthony's inner circle. 

On Tuesday, a rival executive familiar with the Nets' months-long efforts to land Melo corroborated Anthony's Knicks-only stance, telling CBSSports.com of New Jersey, "They got word that Melo will not sign there. They can't get it done."

Contrary to another report, Anthony himself at no point informed the Nuggets or Nets of his stance. So the Nets, who according to sources have received repeated assurances from Anthony's camp that he would extend his contract in a trade to New Jersey, continued with their aggressive strategy to sweeten the assets they could offer the Nuggets. Even as word of Anthony's Knicks-only strategy leaked out Sunday after he made his only scheduled appearance of the season at Madison Square Garden, the Nets were working on the framework of the Houston-L.A. deal that came together Tuesday. A person familiar with the situation said acquiring additional first-round picks was something the Nuggets specifically asked for in an Anthony trade. 

Like the crosstown rival Knicks, the Nets struck out in their efforts to lure free agents LeBron James and Dwyane Wade this past summer. But if this haul of first-rounders puts the Nets over the top in their pursuit of Anthony, it would be another dagger for the Knicks. It is believed that Houston's 2012 lottery-protected pick going to New Jersey is the pick the Rockets acquired from New York in the Tracy McGrady deal last February -- the trade that cleared the final bit of cap space the Knicks needed to have any chance of getting LeBron.

The deal also works for the Lakers, who were willing to give up a first-round pick -- likely, of course, to be near the bottom -- in exchange for dumping Vujacic's $5.5 million for Smith's $1.4 million -- of which the Lakers only have to pay a prorated portion of $854,389 because it is a one-year deal for a player with more than two years experience.

What happens next could be portrayed in a commercial with Melo sitting in a director's chair and asking the question LeBron asked: "What should I do?" However this works out for New Jersey, the team's brain trust of GM Billy King and assistant GM Bobby Marks deserve kudos for ignoring the chatter and ever-changing whims of a potential NBA free agent and sticking with their plan. From the outside looking in, it always appeared to rival execs and other observers that the Nets' toughest sales job would be with Anthony. From the beginning, the Nets' brass always believed that would be the easy part -- and that the biggest challenge in landing Melo would be putting together a deal that satisfied all of Denver's desires.

On Tuesday, the Newark-Brooklyn Nets took a giant step closer to finding out.





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 22, 2010 9:52 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 10:14 pm
 

Source: Dampier to sign with Heat

Erick Dampier has a one-year offer from the Miami Heat and is expected to sign it Tuesday, CBSSports.com has learned.

The 35-year-old center arrived in Miami Monday night and, pending his passing of a medical exam, will join the team to replace Udonis Haslem, who is out until at least February with a torn ligament in his foot. The deal is for one year at the prorated veteran's minimum, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The Heat will have to release a player to create a roster spot for Dampier, likely Dexter Pittman or Jamaal Magloire.

The Heat previously worked out Dampier in September, but decided not to proceed with an offer. The Suns, Raptors, Rockets and Bucks pursued Dampier, who had a verbal agreement to join the Rockets. But Houston surprisingly backed away after failing to clear a roster spot for Dampier. In the end, Dampier got his preferred situation: a title contender forced to accelerate its pursuit of him based on a need that arose during the season. His patience, it turns out, paid off.

Another team inquired about Dampier Monday: the Hornets, who caused Dampier to give them serious consideration based on their 11-1 start. But the Heat remained the ideal fit from Dampier's perspective, and he becomes the latest free agent to join Miami's title pursuit -- albeit under unfortunate circumstances.

The need to act quickly in the wake of news Monday that Haslem will need foot surgery that will shelve him for several months was only underscored Monday night, when the Heat were getting blown out at home by Indiana. Even with the high-profile free-agent additions of the summer, Miami still lacks a true center and has been getting exploited around the basket by bigger, tougher teams.

How ready Dampier is will determine how quickly the Heat will be able to reverse that trend. By his own admission,  Dampier has always been a player who plays himself into shape as the season progresses. After initially meeting with the Heat in September, Dampier considered working out at the Pro Training Center in Clearwater, Fla., to get himself ready to sign. In the end, he decided not to take that route.

Further complicating the decision on who to sign as Haslem's replacement is the fact that Miami's offensive efficiency clearly has been hurt by their slow pace and coach Erik Spoelstra's insistence on playing a traditional point guard with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Adding Dampier, a plodding, post-up center with limited mobility, may signal that Spoelstra -- and, by extension, president Pat Riley -- are digging in on their strategic preferences instead of freeing up the offense with smaller lineups. Either way, Dampier was the best and only option available to a team that badly needs an interior presence to get past Boston or Orlando in the East.
 
 




Posted on: November 22, 2010 5:11 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 10:19 pm
 

Haslem to have surgery, miss several months

Heat forward Udonis Haslem will undergo foot surgery Tuesday and miss several months, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The surgery, first reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel , creates a huge void in Miami's frontcourt rotation and will require them to revisit their pursuit of free-agent center Erick Dampier.

The prognosis for Haslem's recovery from the procedure to repair a torn ligament in his left foot likely makes returning after the All-Star break the best-case scenario. With its already thin front line having been exploited at times against bigger lineups, Miami will have to add a big man to replace Haslem's rebounding and post defense. Replacing his leadership will be even more difficult.

UPDATE: The Heat offered Dampier, 35, a one-year contract at the prorated veteran's minimum and he is expected to sign it Tuesday, CBSSports.com has learned. Miami will have to release a player -- Dexter Pittman or Jamaal Magloire, according to sources -- to create a roster spot for Dampier.

After initially being rebuffed by the Heat, Dampier appeared headed for the Rockets. But the deal fell apart when Houston had difficulty creating a roster spot for him, according to an NBA front office source. The Suns and Trail Blazers also have inquired about Dampier, who would be an ideal fit because he's a natural center and thus would limit the exposure of Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony at the five position -- a spot neither is ideally suited to play.

The Blazers are down two big men after the retirement of Fabricio Oberto and the news that 2007 No. 1 pick Greg Oden will miss the rest of the season due to microfracture surgery. Portland signed Sean Marks after working out Marks, Randolph, Earl Barron, and Dwayne Jones. Barron later signed with the Suns, who are no longer pursuing Dampier; the opportunity for Dampier would be only short-term in Phoenix because starting center Robin Lopez's knee injury is not a long-term situation.

Another name on the market, Mikki Moore, was discussed by Portland officials when Oberto retired, but the team elected not to pursue him. Moore has played for six teams in the past six seasons.




 



Posted on: October 28, 2010 3:44 pm
 

No extension for Green, Stuckey; Horford in talks

Jeff Green and Rodney Stuckey, two members of the 2007 draft class seeking contract extensions by Monday’s deadline, will not be receiving them, people familiar with the circumstances told CBSSports.com.

Thunder GM Sam Presti, who earlier Thursday told the Oklahoman that a deal would not be reached with Green, told CBSSports.com that he had good dialogue with agent David Falk and seriously explored the matter.

“We will have to revisit the discussions in the future,” Presti said.

As a result, Green will become a restricted free agent after the season, as will Stuckey, who also will not be reaching a deal with the Pistons, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com. Among other factors, Stuckey’s situation is complicated by an ownership change in Detroit, sources said.

To date, only Kevin Durant and Joakim Noah among high-profile members of that draft class have received extensions from their teams. Agreements for Houston’s Aaron Brooks, Portland’s Greg Oden and Atlanta’s Al Horford also are long shots at best – although a person familiar with the discussions told CBSSports.com that talks are scheduled this week between Hawks management and Horford’s agent, Arn Tellem.

The reason for the extension drought is simple: With a new collective bargaining agreement coming after the season, and a new pay structure and possibly altered contract lengths and guarantees along with it, it is difficult for teams to commit to new deals that in past years were foregone conclusions for players of this caliber. Even restricted free agency, which could change under the new agreement, is an unknown because executives and agents don’t know how it will change under the new agreement.

“People want more certainty and want to understand the rules,” a person involved in contract negotiation said. “Are contracts going to be 75 percent guaranteed? Fifty percent guaranteed? What are the rules?”
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com