Tag:Spurs
Posted on: June 3, 2011 12:35 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 7:38 pm
 

Walsh's departure means dark days back for Knicks

Donnie Walsh came to New York determined to restore honor to the Knicks and steer them off a decade-long path of destruction toward one with the promise of success.

He will not get to finish the job. The theater of the absurd that is Madison Square Garden swallowed up one of the gentlemen of the sport Friday, sent one of the most respected basketball men in history fleeing for the exits.

The news Friday that Walsh will step down from his post as team president when his contract expires June 30 is a devastating blow to the franchise that he nearly singlehandedly resurrected. Gone is the man who cleared nearly $30 million in cap space, built a foundation around two superstar players, invited legends from the past back under the spotlight of the Garden, and gave Knicks fans hope that the days of dysfunction were over.

The story behind Walsh’s quiet negotiations for a new contract in recent months made Friday’s news all the more disturbing. Walsh, 70, was not seeking multiple years or millions at this stage of his basketball life. He was seeking autonomy over basketball decisions – the same autonomy that Garden chairman James Dolan publicly promised he would have when he was introduced in the spring of 2008 as the man who would save the Knicks from themselves.

"The more we talked about it, the more I realized I didn't want a multi-year deal," Walsh said. "I can understand why he'd want that. I just realized I probably wasn't the guy to go forward with."

As recently as midweek, sources said Walsh's situation was either going to result in a two-year extension -- possibly with a team option for a third year -- or Walsh moving back to Indiana, though not necessarily retiring. Dolan’s statement Friday described Walsh’s decision to leave as mutual, while Walsh said he had lost the "energy" required to do the job.

Walsh will stay on as a consultant and head up the search for his replacement, which immediately could focus on the two best candidates not tied to teams: former Trail Blazers executive Kevin Pritchard and former Hornets GM Jeff Bower. Former Cavs GM and current Spurs executive Danny Ferry also is expected to be considered, and a name to watch is Timberwolves assistant GM Tony Ronzone, whose strong international presence and close relationships with the stars of Team USA could be appealing to Dolan. Ronzone also has a working relationship with Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni through USA Basketball. D'Antoni has one year left on his contract.

Former Nuggets GM Mark Warkentien, whose consulting contract with the Knicks expires June 30, has to be considered a viable candidate.

Besides who will replace Walsh, the key issue hovering over this stunning development is what assurances he was seeking that he didn’t receive. Money was "never a big issue" for Walsh in the months-long discussions about his future, said a person familiar with the negotiations. In fact, despite widespread reports that Dolan insisted on a 40 percent pay cut for Walsh, the person familiar with the matter said it was Walsh who volunteered to take a substantial pay cut next season in anticipation of a lockout. His concern, the person said, was making sure the rest of the front-office staff -- whose contracts also expire June 30 -- would be taken care of during the work stoppage. Glen Grunwald, the senior vice president of basketball operations, will stay with the team as interim GM during the search for Walsh's replacement.

Throughout Walsh’s discussions with Dolan about his future, it was clear from multiple sources with knowledge of the talks that Walsh would not stay with the Knicks if A) he would not have final say over basketball decisions, or B) there was a chance he could be overruled by the Garden’s many agenda-driven outside influences. The most sinister of those was former team president Isiah Thomas, who remains in close communication with Dolan and in the MSG chairman’s circle of trust – despite running the franchise into the ground and turning the Knicks into a league-wide embarrassment.

“They were a joke for six years,” a rival team executive said Friday. “What Donnie has done for that organization, you’ve got to be kidding me. Come on. The whole world has paid attention to basketball in New York because of the guy – in a positive way.”

Thomas, whose attempted hiring as a consultant by Dolan last summer was nixed by league rules forbidding an NCAA coach to serve in such a role, is not coming back to run the Knicks, sources maintain. But he continues to have Dolan's ear, not to mention the desire to return to the Garden. And while Walsh dismissed the notion that Thomas had anything to do with his decision to leave, the idea of Thomas back-channeling decisions with Dolan would not be palatable to any executive of Walsh's experience and track record.

"The whole thing was going to come down to whether he was going to have autonomy," said a person with knowledge of the discussions. "That’s what this was about."

Walsh's replacement faces the challenging task of adding pieces to complement Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, the two stars Walsh landed with the cap space he spent 2 1-2 years demolishing. But Stoudemire and Anthony will combine to make $36.7 million next season; add Chauncey Billups' $14.2 million, and that figure rises to $50.9 million for three players. That's more than Miami's Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are scheduled to make next season, leaving the Knicks the ability to add only minimum-salaried players or those who'd except the mid-level exception -- if there is such a thing in the new collective bargaining agreement. And with the haul of assets Walsh had to give up to land Anthony, the Knicks have few short-term assets to offer in trades aimed at filling their needs for a defensive-minded big man, elite shooting guard, and eventual replacement at point guard for Billups.

That predicament, viewed through the prism of Walsh's departure, only fuels speculation that Dolan hijacked the Anthony trade talks and ordered Walsh to make a trade he didn't want to make -- not at that price, anyway. Walsh again deflected that notion Friday, but a person with knowledge of the trade talks between New York and Denver said Dolan played a prominent role in the deal.

"Donnie had a good hold of it, but I think Dolan had the intentions," the person said. "Dolan wanted Melo at all costs. It was 100 percent Dolan who was the one with an all-costs Melo type thing. And Donnie was saying, 'This would be a good trade, but let’s do it the right way."

He did everything the right way in three years rebuilding the Knicks, a job that now goes to someone else to finish.
Posted on: June 2, 2011 8:06 pm
 

Malone to meet with Warriors' owner


MIAMI -- Hornets assistant Michael Malone will meet with Warriors owner Joe Lacob about the team's vacant head coaching position and also will interview for a position on Mike Brown's staff with the Lakers, a person with knowledge of the searches told CBSSports.com Thursday.

The meetings will take place in the next three or four days, the person said.

Malone, who worked for Brown in Cleveland, is high on the former Cavs coach's list of candidates to join his staff in L.A. But Lacob, who is narrowing the field in his search for Keith Smart's replacement, indicated that he wanted to meet with Malone in person before Malone made a decision on joining the Lakers' staff. Barring a head coaching offer, Malone's interview for the position on Brown's staff would be little more than a formality, as Brown is comfortable working with him and is said to want him on the staff.

ABC/ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson and Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer are the only candidates known to have met with Lacob, who is putting his stamp on the team's coaching search. It is not clear whether Budenholzer wants to leave San Antonio.

Though the Raptors are in the early stages of their search for Jay Triano's replacement, Malone could garner some interest for that position as well. Raptors president Bryan Colangelo is looking for an experienced coach -- not necessarily with head coaching experience -- who can teach defense. Malone is Monty Williams' lead assistant in New Orleans, and he coached both sides of the ball under Brown in Cleveland. 

Former Nets coach Lawrence Frank and Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey also are expected to become candidates in Toronto, where a significant reorganization is planned for after July 1 with Colangelo seeking a high-level basketball man to fill the position vacated when Masai Ujiri left for the Nuggets, sources said. 






Posted on: January 17, 2011 12:56 am
Edited on: January 17, 2011 8:49 am
 

Melo on Nets: 'I don't want to talk to nobody'

SAN ANTONIO -- The latest twist and turn in the never-ending Carmelo Anthony saga came Sunday night, when multiple reports surfaced that the Nuggets have given the Nets permission to speak directly with Carmelo Anthony to get the only answer that will move the story forward: Will he agree to an extension with the Nets, or not?

The internet tracks were barely dry on the stories when hours later, after the Nuggets got blown out by the Spurs, Anthony expressed no desire to meet with anybody -- saying those conversations about how this is resolved should be left to management.

"I can't talk to them people," Anthony said after scoring 12 points on 5-for-17 shooting and sitting most of the fourth quarter in Denver's 110-97 loss to San Antonio. "The Denver Nuggets still pay me. I can't talk to nobody."

When informed that the the Nuggets, who have been pushing to trade Anthony to New Jersey for nearly four months, evidently have given permission to the Nets, Anthony said, "I haven't talked to nobody -- Masai or Josh or any other teams. So for that speculation to be going around out there like that, that’s false."

Asked what his desire is, Anthony said, "I don’t want to talk to nobody. I let the front office handle that type of stuff. It ain't my job to be talking to New Jersey, New York, the Lakers, Dallas, no one. That’s not my job to do."

Again, Anthony was reminded that this would be a legal conversation that the Nuggets wanted him to have -- and still, he gave the same answer.

"I still won’t step into something like that," Anthony said. "I’ve seen a lot of people go through that and for me to sit here and say that I want to talk to them or Masai and Josh gave them permission to talk to me, I think that’s false. If that was the case, then I'm pretty sure I would've gotten a phone call from Masai or Josh about that."

UPDATE: The Nets, who have been pursuing Anthony for four months, were not fazed by his comments. A person familiar with the team's strategy told CBSSports.com Monday that New Jersey officials continue to expect a meeting this week. The hurdle facing the Nets is similar to the one eventually cleared by the Celtics in their pursuit of Kevin Garnett in 2007. Garnett agreed to the trade in late July after dropping his objections to playing in Boston, and that has worked out rather nicely.

When I let Anthony know that his comments were coming across as a resounding no to an invitation to get involved in the trade talks with the Nets, he said, "Yeah, I don’t want the NBA coming down on me or coming down on the team." Then I reminded him that the NBA would not consider such a conversation tampering because the Nuggets were on board.

"Y’all have to ask Masai that because me personally, I don’t think he gave anyone permission to talk to me about anything," he said.

Just another day in the Melo saga.

"I get tired of answering the questions, but I live with it," Anthony said. "I wake up in the morning, keep my head high, be professional, and answer the questions as y’all ask them."

And there are still more questions than answers.
Category: NBA
Posted on: January 14, 2011 11:48 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2011 12:36 am
 

Much-needed Dirk could be back Saturday

SAN ANTONIO – Coach Rick Carlisle admitted that Saturday’s game in Memphis could mark the return of Dirk Nowitzki to the Team Formerly Known as the Mavericks

If it is, it’s not a minute too soon. 

The Mavs are lost without Nowitzki, who went through his first contact drills Friday in the strongest sign yet that he is ready to return after a nine-game absence with a sprained right knee. Dallas has lost seven of nine without Dirk, including a pointless 101-89 blowout at the hands of the Spurs

“Our whole team is out of whack,” Shawn Marion said. Nowitzki has been out since Dec. 28 as the day-to-day status of the injury became week-to-week, prompting rival executives to wonder if Nowitzki’s injury was worse than the team has been letting on. 

Those doubts were put to rest Friday, when Nowitzki went through one-on-one contact drills for the first time. Later, on the court before the Spurs game, Nowitzki worked up a decent sweat with an array of half-speed offensive drills. He flexed his knee and winced a couple of times, but other than that, his jumper was still silky smooth. 

The same cannot be said for the Mavs without him. 

“We’re missing that little edge we had when things did happen, when things would go wrong, because we would find a way with that edge to fight over the hump and get these wins,” Marion said. “We’ve got to find a way to get that back right now. Who knows? Dirk could come back and it might come back as well. But it might not.” 

In the third game without Nowitzki, the Mavs lost Caron Butler to a season-ending knee injury, leaving them without two of their top three scorers. They can’t replace Butler without a trade between now and the deadline, but help could be on the way from Dirk. Nowitzki said during the ESPN broadcast Friday night that he was "actually really close." Owner Mark Cuban said after the game Nowitzki would be a game-time decision Saturday night in Memphis – which would seem to be a significant upgrade over day-to-day and week-to-week. 

“I don’t know when he’s going to play,” Carlisle said. “We’ve been very consistent in that. We don’t know. He worked out hard today and we’ve got to see how he feels tomorrow. Tomorrow could be a possibility, but then again maybe not. We can’t mess with that.” 

And quite clearly, the Mavs can’t mess around without Dirk too much longer. 

“It’s going to be good to get a healthy team out there,” Tyson Chandler said. “It’s tough with guys playing out of position and stepping into roles they’re not accustomed to. It’ll be good to get back our team.” And that was exactly the right way to put it, because Dirk is the team.
Posted on: January 4, 2011 11:21 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2011 2:15 am
 

Pop congratulates old foe on a beating well done

NEW YORK – After pulling his starters with three minutes left in a 10-point game Tuesday night, Gregg Popovich promised to be in rare form in the cramped hallway outside the visiting locker room at Madison Square Garden. 

Oh, I’ll just get out of the way. Pop, your thoughts? 

“The New York Knicks kicked our ass,” Popovich said after the Knicks beat the team with the best record in the NBA 128-115. 

Met by stunned silence – and I’m not sure why, this was Pop, after all – the Spurs’ curmudgeon in chief said, “Do I have to think of the questions, too?” 

Oh, there were plenty of questions. Just not a whole lot of answers. Popovich had seen games like this for years when Mike D’Antoni was in Phoenix. He won more than his share and had nightmares about the rest. On this night, miles away from those Western Conference battlegrounds, the Spurs walked right into the Knicks’ up-tempo trap in what Popovich called a “pathetic” defensive effort. 

“It was the worst defense of the year for us,” Pop said. 

It was more than that. The 128 points were the most San Antonio has allowed in regulation in the Tim Duncan era. 

“They made us play their game instead of us making them play our game,” Duncan said. 

For the Spurs (29-5), who fell a game shy of tying the second-best 34-game start in NBA history behind the 1995-96 Bulls, it was merely a blip on the radar of a long season. Popovich dryly explained that pulling his starters with 3:13 left was a tactical move to save his veteran team for Wednesday night’s game in Boston. 

“It’s a long season,” Popovich said. “The chances of winning the game were not good.” 

But for the Knicks, it was far and away the most significant win in a season of revival led by the Spurs’ old foe from the West, Amar’e Stoudemire. It was’t just the Knicks’ franchise player who torched the Spurs Tuesday night, but also Wilson Chandler, who had 31 points on 13-for-19 shooting. Stoudemire had 28 points, nine rebounds and six assists. After falling short against the Celtics (twice), the Heat (twice) and the Magic, the Knicks (20-14) finally broke through against the elite. It’s the earliest New York has hit the 20-win mark since the 2000-01 season, when they achieved the milestone on Jan. 4. 

“I just know that they’re a very good basketball team,” Popovich said. “They’re not a dangerous team; they’re a good team, and there’s a big difference. A lot of teams can be dangerous on a night. But they’re sound. They’re playing their roles, they’re playing together, they’re communicating, and the physicality was impressive. … I’m happy for Mike. He’s had to go through some tough stuff and they’ve obviously turned the corner. They’re obviously going in the right direction.”

D'Antoni's teams have gone in this direction before -- as in, up against the Spurs. Only this time, he came out on top and has something to look forward to.
Posted on: December 27, 2010 7:11 pm
 

Lakers' scars more than skin deep

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – There was no direct evidence of the butt-kicking in practice that Kobe Bryant had promised. Head-butting, yes. But butt-kicking? 

“Not sure,” said Ron Artest, wearing the only tangible proof of what Phil Jackson called a “feisty” practice Monday in the form of a swollen cut under his right eye. 

Artest’s battle scar didn’t result from any contact with Bryant, who had promised after the Lakers’ listless loss to Miami on Christmas Day that distracted, unfocused, and unprepared teammates would be held accountable on the practice court. Artest’s wound, according to a source, resulted from a collision with Shannon Brown’s head during the 5-on-5 portion of practice, which was won by the second unit, an amused Jackson said. 

“Kind of fun and interesting,” Jackson said of the reserves’ victory. 

So the Lakers’ starters have now lost three games in a row – blowouts at home against Milwaukee and Miami, and now this. The impact of any tongue-lashings or motivational tactics from Bryant will be put to an immediate test Tuesday night in San Antonio, where the Spurs (26-4) are experiencing no such strife and enjoying the best record in the league – five games better than the two-time defending champion Lakers. 

“They’re doing something special this year and we have to understand what it is,” Jackson said. 

Bryant didn’t speak with reporters Monday; he was off the practice floor by the time media were allowed into the gym. But the simple fact that he practiced at all – he typically rests his 31-year-old body to save fuel for the championship run – should have sent a clear message. 

And apparently it did. The message was received, loud and clear, by Artest, who bristled at the notion that Bryant was pointing the finger at him during his postgame rant Saturday. The money quote from Bryant, “The game has to be the most important thing,” caused curious minds – including mine – to wonder if Artest’s championship ring raffle was deemed by Bryant to be an unnecessary distraction. 

After the game, Artest apologized to Lakers fans on Twitter, writing, “Every loss my fault.” On Monday, he shot down the notion that he was distracted Saturday and several times alluded to how “unfortunate” it was that Jackson kept him on the bench for most of the fourth quarter. 

“I didn’t get a chance to even let it be a distraction because I only played 20 minutes,” Artest said. 

With every teammate except Lamar Odom off the practice court, Artest said, “I’m the last one to leave the gym every day,” and urged one reporter to “pay attention to the surroundings.” 

"I work extremely hard on defense,” Artest said. “I’m the last one to leave every day. The game is extremely important.” 

Later, I asked Artest if his Twitter apology meant that he was responding to the notion of being singled out by Bryant. 

“If we keep losing, you’ve got to point to yourself first,” Artest said, aiming his thumb at the middle of his chest. “Always point the finger right there before you point the finger anywhere else. I point the finger at myself all the time. Even before I came here last year, I would point the finger at myself. I said, ‘If we lose, it’s on me.’ Before you point, you’ve got to look in the mirror first and say, ‘What could I have done?’” 

When asked about Bryant’s soliloquy about misplaced priorities on the team, Jackson said, “I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s been some distractions. … But we think that these guys are veterans and should be able to handle that.” 

When asked what distractions Bryant and Jackson may have been referring to, Artest said, “There were a lot of distractions, from my ring raffle to the green shoes. Nike came with the green shoes and adidas. There were a bunch of things going on.” 

It doesn’t get easier. Not only are the Spurs obviously a threat, but they’re beginning to put distance between themselves and the Lakers that will be challenging to close by the end of the regular season, when all-important home-court advantage will be determined. Clearly, before they get caught up in catching the Spurs, the Lakers have to get their own house in order first.
Posted on: December 22, 2010 6:06 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2010 11:17 pm
 

Nuggets put Melo trade talks on hold (UPDATE)

The Denver Nuggets have decided to temporarily back away from trade discussions involving Carmelo Anthony out of respect for the superstar, who is grieving the death of his sister, a person familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com.

Nuggets officials have begun informing teams that they will not be engaging in any further trade discussions, especially with the closeness of the tragedy to the Christmas holiday. The team announced Wednesday night that Anthony will not return to the team until after Christmas.

"It is a difficult time" for the Anthony family, "especially during the holidays," the person said.

Michelle Anthony, 36, died Tuesday in Baltimore of a pre-existing medical condition. She is survived by her four children.


Category: NBA
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".




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