Tag:Chris Paul
Posted on: July 29, 2010 3:36 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 5:02 pm
 

Knicks make offer to Lakers' Brown (UPDATE)

The Knicks have extended an offer to Shannon Brown and are waiting to hear whether the Lakers' free-agent guard will take it or wait for L.A. to make room to re-sign him by trading Sasha Vujacic, two people with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Thursday.

Brown, 24, played all 82 games for the champion Lakers last season and is weighing whether to join Ray Felton in the Knicks' revamped backcourt or give the Lakers time to clear the room needed to re-sign him. The Lakers, as usual, are well into the luxury tax. So moving Vujacic's $5.4 million salary for next season would ease the tax hit associated with keeping Brown.

Brown's electrifying transition game would be a huge asset in coach Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo system, and Brown would have a good chance of winning a starting job after starting only seven games for the Lakers last season.

Meanwhile, the Knicks continue to explore trade possibilities and remain interested in Blazers swingman Rudy Fernandez, who is actively being shopped. In their pursuit of a deal for Fernandez, or perhaps Chris Paul if and when the Hornets begin fielding serious trade inquiries, the Knicks have a few more assets to offer than commonly realized. According to two people familiar with how the David Lee sign-and-trade arrangement was structured, the Knicks do not have to wait the standard 60 days before combining Ronny Turiaf, Anthony Randolph or Kelenna Azubuike with other players in a trade. The Knicks were still under the salary cap when Lee was signed and traded, exempting them from the 60-day waiting period, which applies only to players acquired with a trade exception by teams that are over the cap.






Posted on: July 27, 2010 6:29 pm
 

Where selective law enforcement happens

The NBA office issued a memo to all 30 teams Tuesday reminding them of the league's tampering policy and warning of steep penalties that would result from illegal contact with Chris Paul or his representatives.

It was a welcome development, no doubt, for the New Orleans Hornets, who are dealing with their disgruntled point guard's desire to be traded. I'd also have to guess it generated a day-late, dollar-short reaction in Cleveland, where the Cavs will be reeling for a decade or longer from the suspicious departure of LeBron James to Miami.

The memo issued Tuesday, first reported by ESPN.com, was similar to one sent in December 2008 warning teams about commenting publicly on prospective free agents under contract with other teams and outlining the penalties for making contact with such players. League policy calls for penalties up to and including loss of draft picks, the voiding of player contracts and a maximum fine of $5 million for discussing transactions with players under contract without consent of their teams. The 2008 memo was in response to growing public commentary by team executives regarding the free-agent class of 2010, which of course included James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Paul, through his new agent, Leon Rose, informed the Hornets recently that he wants to be traded and gave the team a list of preferred destinations. Paul and Rose met Monday in New Orleans with Hornets president Hugh Weber, GM Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams to hash out their differences. Not surprisingly, everyone emerged from the meeting saying they've all agreed to get along. But we know better, and so does the league office. Sources told CBSSports.com that Monday's meeting did not quell Paul's desire to push for a trade and this his representatives planned to continue applying pressure to get him out of New Orleans.   The league memo Tuesday only underscored the reality facing the Hornets.

But under league rules, such conversations can only be initiated or approved by the Hornets. So on Tuesday, the league made a strong statement in defense of an organization that faces an uphill battle in keeping its franchise player happy. The last thing Demps and Williams need is to have Rose and William Wesley recruiting trade partners through back channels -- which is how much of the business of the league is done.

"This kind of thing happens all the time," said a person within the NBA. "But the league wants to have more control over the players. They don't want players working behind the scenes to get themselves traded."

That train, it could be argued, whizzed past the station long ago.

So why such a strong stance against tampering with Paul when nothing has been done to investigate whether James was tampered with prior to his "decision" to join Wade and Bosh with the Heat? One possible explanation is that once a case of alleged tampering has occurred, standard procedure is to investigate only after the offended team files a tampering charge. The Cavs never complained publicly or to the league about a reported meeting last November attended by James, Michael Jordan and Heat president Pat Riley. Another reported meeting last month involving James, Wade and Bosh would be more difficult to probe because league tampering rules essentially are aimed at teams and team executives. Meetings and conversations among players are more difficult to police. Nonetheless, the Cavs have no plans to file tampering charges, preferring instead to focus on moving forward with their post-LeBron plans.

The Hornets, meanwhile, are just trying to get through each day without Rose pitching possible trade scenarios for Paul to competing franchises.

Conversations this summer between James and Paul -- which presumably led Paul to drop his association with Octagon and hire Rose as his agent -- would be difficult, if not impossible, to tie to any kind of tampering. The league obviously can't control agents like Rose and operatives like Wesley as closely as it can monitor its teams' executives. So a memo like this warning teams to leave Paul alone is the best that can be done, I suppose. Is it mostly for show? Yes, mostly. The NBA grapevine is a free-for-all, with illegal conversations that can't be adequately policed happening all the time. But at least for now, the league's stance theoretically will provide a chilling effect to what has become the Summer of CP3.

It may or may not help the Hornets keep their star point guard. It won't, however, do anything to help the Cavs get over the loss of LeBron. That's life, I guess, in the NBA.


 








Posted on: July 23, 2010 1:10 pm
 

Monty wants to hear directly from Paul

The next step in the drama surrounding All-Star point guard Chris Paul will happen Monday, when he will meet with New Orleans officials and decide whether to push his angst to the next level by formally -- and in person -- requesting to be traded.

Hornets coach Monty Williams, for one, wants to hear those words straight from his point guard's mouth before drawing any conclusions about their future together.

"We'll sit down with Chris on Monday and see what happens," Williams told CBSSports.com by phone Friday. "I'm as eager as anybody to see where this goes."

It is a critical time for Williams, who is only in his second month on the job yet already is facing a crisis that could affect the franchise for years. His key ally in Monday's sitdown with Paul, new GM Dell Demps, has only been on the job for 48 hours. Their goal will be to talk Paul out of his desire to be traded, which was first reported Wednesday by CBSSports.com .

"This has become a national story, and it's not a story," Williams said. "Nothing has happened yet."

On Monday, it will -- one way or another. As CBSSports.com reported Wednesday, Paul has decided he wants to be traded and has asked his new agent, Leon Rose, to inform New Orleans management that he prefers to be dealt to the Knicks, Magic or Lakers. Other teams have joined the mix since then, with sources saying that the Mavericks and Trail Blazers have been the most aggressive in their pursuit.

"Other teams are jockeying to get in the mix," said one person familiar with the league-wide pursuit of one of the most gifted point guards in the league.

Paul's desire, according to a person familiar with his strategy, is to follow in LeBron James' footsteps by joining forces with one or more elite players. While the Lakers are viewed as a long-shot scenario, the Magic and Knicks both present tantalizing possibilities. In Orlando, Paul would team with Dwight Howard, who already has informed Magic management that he wants to play with Paul. In New York, Paul would play the role of a younger, higher-octane Steve Nash by pairing with Amar'e Stoudemire in Mike D'Antoni's offense, which was invented for a point guard of Paul's exquisite gifts.

For starters, any team hoping to land Paul would have to take Emeka Okafor and his onerous contract, which pays him $53.2 million over the next four years. If New Orleans decided to entertain offers for Paul, the team also likely would insist on including James Posey, owed $13.4 million over the next two years. The Magic could offer Vince Carter, who has only $4 million of his $18.3 million guaranteed for the 2011-12 season, as well as draft picks. The Knicks don't have draft picks to offer, but since they're approximately $3 million under the cap, they could take back $3 million more salary than they send out in the deal -- a significant cost savings for the Hornets in addition to the $3 million cash the Knicks wouldn't think twice about adding to the deal. By acquiring Anthony Randolph and Kelenna Azubuike from Golden State in a sign-and-trade for David Lee, the Knicks also have young assets to pair with Danilo Gallinari and/or Wilson Chandler in a credible proposal for Paul.

Of course, if Paul escalates the trade request that has been made through intermediaries into a formal request Monday, the Hornets would be under no obligation to oblige him -- much less trade him to the team of his choice. Williams said the team's strategy for dealing with such a situation wouldn't be devised until after Monday's meeting.

Williams is putting up a brave front, and is genuinely looking forward to the chance to sell Paul on his vision for the team. But he and Demps, having stepped into a situation that was not their doing, also face the responsibility of reconciling the past year of turmoil in a way that makes Paul reconsider.

Those attending Monday's meeting for the Hornets will be Demps, Williams and team president Hugh Weber. It is not clear whether Paul will be joined by his new agent, Rose, who has not responded to calls from CBSSports.com to determine whether he is officially representing Paul after a 15-day waiting period following the end of his relationship with Octagon.

But one thing is clear: The job of selling Paul on the basketball reasons to stay will fall on the shoulders of Demps and Williams, who are dealing with a situation of this magnitude for the first time -- at least as the top decision-makers on an NBA team. The firing last week of experienced GM Jeff Bower -- and further, subsequent housecleaning in the front office -- have only made the organization more vulnerable at a time when Paul's impatience with the team's direction is at an all-time high.

After Bower was let go, the Hornets fired director of basketball administration Andy Loomis. Director of scouting Brian Hagen has survived the purge, but doesn't have a contract for next season, sources say.

As for Paul, Williams said he's texted back and forth with his point guard in advance of Monday's meeting. The Hornets' new coach sees the writing on the wall, but doesn't want to read what Paul or his representatives have to say -- he wants to hear it from him.

"All of this stuff has come out with no quotes from Chris and no quotes from us," Williams said. "... I just wish all this had been handled behind closed doors. This is not the way I like to operate, and I know this isn't the way that Chris likes to operate. We've communicated by text just to try to figure out where this stuff is coming from."

If by "stuff" he means smoke, then it's coming from the fire smoldering within Paul. On Monday, Williams will get a chance to put it out.



 




Posted on: July 16, 2010 11:15 pm
 

Hornets' coach to sit down with Paul

LAS VEGAS -- Hornets coach Monty Williams has read the reports indicating that Chris Paul is unhappy in New Orleans. But the Hornets' first-year coach isn't going to believe it until he hears it from his superstar point guard's mouth.

Williams plans to sit down with Paul for a face-to-face meeting in the near future in an effort to clear the air about the point guard's concerns and sell him on his vision.

"I want him to feel as excited as I am about where we’re going," Williams said after watching the Hornets' Summer League team Friday. "We have a bit of a new vision that I think is something that he can be excited about – and not just from an on-the-court standpoint. We’re working to get this thing continuing in the right direction."

Despite the fact that Wiliams has yet to coach a game for the Hornets, he already finds himself as the organization's lone basketball figure in the midst of a chaotic summer. The Hornets fired GM Jeff Bower this week and are in the process of hiring his replacement. Team president High Weber has scheduled interviews with Wizards assistant GM Tommy Sheppard and Kings assistant GM Jason Levien, and already has spoken with Spurs executive Dell Demps. Weber also wants to discuss the opening with former Trail Blazers execs Kevin Pritchard and Tom Penn, as well as former Suns exec David Griffin, sources said.

Meanwhile, Paul was quoted earlier this month as saying that he's "open to being traded" if the Hornets aren't committed to winning and competing with the Lakers, Celtics and other top teams.

"All I've seen from him is that he wants to win," Williams said. "All that other stuff, I've never seen him say anything. Every article has been somebody speculating or someone from inside the camp. I don’t have a camp. I've got me and my wife and my kids, so I don’t even know how that works. All I've seen for him is that he wants to win. I hope so, because that’s what we want. That’s not my personality to jump on some rumor or conjecture. The things he tells me straight up, that’s what I believe."

A specific date for Williams' sitdown with his disgruntled point guard has not been set, and Williams doesn't want to intrude on Paul's summer -- which gets more interesting by the day. Last week, it was reported that Paul toasted to forming "our own Big Three" in New York with Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony at Anthony's wedding. Williams spoke with Paul about his vision for the team after he was hired, but that was before Paul's recent comments.

"I tend to let guys do their things in the summer time," Williams said. "I don’t want to get down his back with all my plans and let my excitement get in the way of his summer. I had a chance to spend a week with him two weeks ago and we had a chance to talk about a lot of stuff. He’s on the same page with us and I'm excited about working with him."
Posted on: July 1, 2010 3:16 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2010 1:25 am
 

Free-Agent Buzz (UPDATE)


After meeting for more than two hours with LeBron James in Cleveland Thursday, with a van-full of presentation gear to show for it, the Knicks' contingent headed to Chicago for meetings with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But not before trying to make a last-minute pitch to keep Joe Johnson from signing with the Hawks, a person familiar with the strategy said.

At the precise moment when coach Mike D'Antoni, president Donnie Walsh, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan and others emerged from a Cleveland office tower Thursday, Johnson was hunkered down in a meeting with his agent, Arn Tellem, and Hawks officials in Los Angeles. It was the second sit-down for Johnson and the team he's played with for five seasons, and it wasn't clear what more needed to be discussed regarding Atlanta's six-year, $120 million offer -- which neither the Knicks nor any other suitor can match under NBA salary rules.

But the Knicks, trying to use Johnson as an enticement to lure James to New York, jumped back into the fray with a call to Tellem after meeting with LeBron. The Knicks are "swinging away," the source said, and "need some luck."

While it seems unlikely that Johnson would turn down the Hawks' offer, Johnson was still in play as of late Thursday afternoon, when Tellem told CBSSports.com there was not yet an agreement with Atlanta. A person familiar with the discussions said there would be "no decision" Thursday from Johnson on the Hawks' offer, which is 100 percent guaranteed, according to a source.

The Knicks will meet in Chicago Friday with the other two top free agents, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

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Another Tellem client in demand is small forward Mike Miller, a 10-year veteran who shot 50 percent from the field for Washington last season. The Knicks met with him in Los Angeles Wednesday night along with Johnson, and the Lakers opened discussions with him Thursday. Discussions with the Lakers did not advance to the offer stage.

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Discussions between the Suns and Amar'e Stoudemire remain unresolved, with the issue being Suns chairman Robert Sarver's unwillingness to increase his offer from four years to five years. Stoudemire doesn't yet have an offer from the Knicks, but plans to meet with New York officials Saturday or Monday. Meanwhile, Channing Frye will be staying in Phoenix, where he intended to stay all along. The unrestricted free agent agreed to a five-year, $30 million deal, according to Yahoo! Sports.
 
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With the signing of 2008 second-round pick Nikola Pekovic to a four-year, $13 million deal and Darko Milicic to a four-year, $20 million deal, the Timberwolves are proceeding under the assumption that Al Jefferson will be traded, a person with knowledge of the team's strategy said. But with no takers yet, it is possible that the situation could drag into August, when better offers for the injury-prone power forward might be extracted.

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Anticipating the loss of Chris Bosh in free agency, the Raptors agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent Amir Johnson on a five-year, $34 million deal, a person familiar with the situation said. Johnson, a 6-9 forward who was the 56th pick by the Pistons in the 2005 draft, averaged 12.7 points and 9.8 rebounds coming off the bench last season for Toronto.

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Rudy Gay has agreed to a five-year, $82 million deal with Memphis, a move that takes the restricted free agent off the market, a person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Gay had been contacted by Minnesota and was receiving significant interest from the Knicks, Nets, Bulls, Heat and Clippers -- teams flush with cap space who viewed Gay as a consolation prize if they missed out on LeBron James. Those teams could have forced Memphis' hand with a front-loaded offer sheet the Grizzlies would've had trouble matching due to luxury-tax implications. But there's no need for that after Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace's pre-emptive strike to keep him.

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Point guard Raymond Felton has been contacted by seven teams, including the three with the most cap money who also happen to be the three he's interested in: the Knicks, Heat and Nets, CBSSports.com has learned.

Felton expects to have a decision in 2-3 days, with the understanding that the teams pursuing him have to first resolve their pursuit of top-tier free agents like James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Felton, who averaged 12.1 points and 5.6 assists for the Bobcats last season, probably won't return to Charlotte because re-signing him would push the Bobcats over the luxury tax.

The Knicks' pursuit of Felton is a strong indication of a backup plan the team is ready to carry out if it doesn't land James. Sources say team president Donnie Walsh and coach Mike D'Antoni would then try to get a quick commitment from Felton and use a legit point guard as an enticement to one of the other free agents -- Bosh or Amar'e Stoudemire. Then, the Knicks could try to add one more piece -- such as small forward Mike Miller -- before going over the cap to retain Lee, assuming they didn't have to renounce his rights to do it. If they did, the Knicks would probably have to forego one of the signings in order to fit Lee into their $34.1 million of salary-cap space.

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Minnesota's surprising four-year, $20 million commitment to Darko Milicic took them out of the Gay sweepstakes, but that didn't matter after the Grizzlies retained him with a five-year, $82 million deal Thursday. The signing of Milicic also likely removed the T-Wolves from the running for Lee, who had scheduled a visit with the Timberwolves over the weekend.

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The Magic are quietly exploring sign-and-trade scenarios that would rid the team of Vince Carter and his $17.3 million contract for next season, sources say. Short of that, team officials have indicated that they're willing to further explore more playing time for power forward Brandon Bass, who languished on the bench much of last season. The move would involve moving Rashard Lewis back to his natural small-forward. In addition to elite point guard Chris Paul, who tops his offseason wish list, Dwight Howard has told management he wants the team to pursue a post-up scorer at the power forward position. If GM Otis Smith is unable to acquire Howard's choice for that role, Carlos Boozer, the Magic could counter by utilizing Bass more than they did last season.

There are "no legs" to reports that Bass could be sent to Utah in a sign-and-trade for Boozer, a person with knowledge of Orlando's strategy said. But given Howard's preference for Boozer, it's too early to completely dismiss the scenario.

 








Posted on: June 30, 2010 2:01 am
 

Free-Agent Buzz

If you’re all LeBron-ed out … if you don’t care whether there was a free-agent summit or not … you’ve come to the right place. Here’s some free-agent news that has nothing to do with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh:

While those elite free agents prepare for an unmitigated frenzy set to begin at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, a certain gentle giant who’s a couple years away from any such courtship is quietly beginning to formulate a plan that he’d like management to execute. And it turns out that Dwight Howard, the most physically gifted big man in basketball, wants to team up with the most physical gifted little guy in basketball: Chris Paul.

On the eve of the most anticipated free-agent signing period since 1996, when Howard was 10 years old, the Magic center has formulated a short list of players he’d like GM Otis Smith to pursue this summer. No. 1 on the list, according to a person with close ties to Orlando management, is Hornets point guard Chris Paul.

Reports in the past week have noted that Orlando was one of several teams to inquire about Paul’s availability – mostly after CP3 was quoted as saying he’d be open to a trade if New Orleans wasn’t committed to investing in a championship-caliber roster. It turns out Smith was either prescient or had a pretty good idea of what acquisition would please Howard the most.

The idea of Paul tossing alley-oop passes to Howard is tantalizing, to say the least. But is it realistic? George Shinn, the Hornets’ lame-duck owner, issued a joint statement last week with prospective buyer Gary Chouest that reaffirmed the team’s commitment to building around Paul but didn’t rule out any avenues to improve the team. Whoever winds up owning the Hornets would prefer not to move Paul, a franchise cornerstone in every sense of the word. But financial and competitive realities – the Hornets won 37 games last season and are due to be a tax-paying team again in 2010-11 – have conspired to put all options on the table. Even trading Paul.

The Hornets have a point-guard-in-waiting, Darren Collison, who would mitigate the loss of Paul on the court, if not at the ticket office. Any team in the mix for Paul would have to agree to take back Emeka Okafor, scheduled to make $11.8 million next season and $53.2 million over the next for season. The last three seasons will come under a new collective bargaining agreement, in which owners are seeking to dramatically slash salaries. So the full magnitude of taking on such a contract is unknown at this point – but certainly not pleasant.

But one Western Conference executive called the scenario “plausible,” if nothing else because the Magic have shown themselves to have “deep, deep pockets,” the executive said.

To soften the blow from losing Paul, New Orleans would likely insist – and the Magic would agree – on the inclusion of Jameer Nelson in any such trade. Nelson was exposed as a liability in the Magic’s conference finals loss to the Celtics, but could bridge the gap to Collison with a cap-friendly contract that pays him $8.1 million in each of the next three seasons. The Magic have internally explored including Vince Carter in various trades they’re considering, sources say, but Carter’s $17.5 million salary next season might require a third team to get involved or force the Magic to explore another deal for him.

Another player on Howard’s short list, sources say, is Utah free agent Carlos Boozer, who would allow Howard to flourish as a defensive and rebounding force without having to handle the bulk of the scoring on the block, too. The capped-out Magic, of course, would have to acquire Boozer via a sign-and-trade arrangement. The Jazz might be enticed by Brandon Bass and free agent J.J. Redick, for starters.

As an aside, Howard and I obviously think alike. Some of you may recall the “Perfect Team” exercise I performed over several weeks during the 2009-10 season – putting together what I deemed to be the best possible roster that adhered to the $57.7 million salary cap. My center: Howard. My point guard: Paul. It’s not clear whether those two teaming up in Orlando would be perfection. But they would be formidable and fun to watch, for sure.

Here’s some more free-agent buzz with less than 24 hours to go before LeBron-a-Geddon:

• As the Knicks put the final touches on their pitch to James, unofficially scheduled for Thursday in Ohio, team president Donnie Walsh continues to ramp up efforts to trade Eddy Curry and his $11.3 million contract. The extra cap space that would be added to the Knicks’ $34.1 million would either facilitate the pursuit of three max free agents – a new wrinkle in the Knicks’ plan – or allow them to get two max players and retain unrestricted free agent David Lee. SI.com’s Ian Thomsen wrote that the Knicks plan to allow James to play fantasy GM on Thursday and choose his own sidekicks. The Knicks will suggest, SI.com reported, that James consider Atlanta free agent Joe Johnson as a better fit than Dwyane Wade, who like James is at his best when handling the ball the majority of the time. The problem with the plan, short of an unlikely salary dump of Curry’s contract, is all three free agents (James, another wing, and a power forward such as Chris Bosh or Amar’e Stoudemire) would have to accept significantly less than the max to fit into New York’s cap space. One rival executive described New York’s attempts to peddle Curry “a tough, tough sell,” and noted that the only way a team under the cap would be willing to absorb Curry is if Danilo Gallinari were included in the trade.

• While Miami completed the anticipated buyout of James Jones to creep closer to the space needed to combine two max free agents with Dwyane Wade, the Nets are on the verge of clearing more space with a buyout of forward Kris Humphries, sources say. If the Nets could trade Humphries’ $3.2 million contract to a team that’s under the cap, they’d achieve the coveted space to import two max free agents. But with no takers for Humphries so far, a mere buyout would require further housekeeping to secure the necessary space.

• There are strong indications that a decision could be coming by the end of the week from Doc Rivers on whether he’s stepping down as the Celtics coach or returning for another championship run – assuming Boston’s core will stay together. That’s an open question, and Rivers’ future and the potential return of free agents Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are as intertwined as they could be. Former Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro, who would be a strong candidate to replace Rivers if he steps down, had dinner with Donald Sterling Tuesday night to discuss the Clippers’ job for which he’s a finalist with former Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey.

Lakers assistant Brian Shaw leaving Cleveland without a job offer from the Cavs – while Byron Scott’s agent, Brian McInerney, was publicly congratulating him – provided the latest strange twist in the Cavs’ offseason. A person with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday that Shaw and the Cavs were entering the negotiating phase, but it’s not clear how that’s done without a job offer.

• Amar’e Stoudemire and his agent, Happy Walters, sat down with Suns owner Robert Sarver and coach Alvin Gentry in Los Angeles Tuesday in what sources described as a productive meeting aimed at keeping Stoudemire from opting out of his contract and hitting the free-agent market. It wasn’t clear if Sarver, who has taken on the role of conducting basketball business with GMs and agents after GM Steve Kerr and assistant David Griffin left the front office, increased his contract offer to the maximum. Either way, sources with knowledge of Stoudemire’s situation believe there’s a strong possibility that not even a max offer would keep him from opting out and testing the market with teams that have cap space, such as the Knicks, Nets, Bulls and Heat.
Posted on: January 31, 2010 11:30 pm
 

Paul to have knee surgery, miss at least 1 month

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
 

All-Star Reserves (UPDATE)

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:

East

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.


West


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.

 
 
 
 
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