Posted on: March 9, 2010 9:41 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 9:53 pm

West: No interest in Clippers job

The first name that came to mind after the Clippers' rude and unceremonious news release came out Tuesday night announcing Mike Dunleavy's firing was none other than Jerry West. The Logo had been long rumored to be a candidate to take over the Clippers' woebegone basketball operations if -- and, as it turned out, when -- they finally "severed ties" with Dunleavy.

From West himself Tuesday night: Not gonna happen.

"No contact, no interest, not looking to work anymore," West said by telephone after the Dunleavy news broke. "Time for someone younger to have an opportunity to do something. I have not been contacted, nor would I have any interest."

But West, who was at the center of speculation to take over the Knicks' basketball operations when Isiah Thomas was deposed two years ago, left the door open ever so slightly to returning to a front office in some capacity.

"Unless there was something that was along the lines of a consultant job -- a working consultant," West said. "I don’t want a title or need a title. It was fun to be involved. It's a tough business. But I'm not looking for a job nor am I putting my name out there for any job. I've always felt we all have a lifespan with what we’re doing. Mine has been served."

West, 71, left the Memphis Grizzlies after his contract expired in 2007 and hasn't been involved in running a team since. The architect of two Lakers dynasties is forever linked with job openings, though. Another credible Jerry -- Colangelo -- would be high on any serious team's list of candidates. During All-Star weekend in Dallas, Colangelo tried to tamp down speculation that he was in the running to take over the Nets -- but also said if a team called, he'd listen.

Meantime, with another important draft and the biggest free-agent class in NBA history looming, the Clippers had better hope the promotion of assistant GM Neil Olshey works out. After reading the Clippers' brutally worded news release on Dunleavy's dismissal -- and knowing the organization's track record for losing and cheapness -- what credible candidate would want to work there?

"The team has simply not made sufficient progress during Dunleavy’s seven-year tenure," the news rocket said. "The Clippers want to win now."

And for the past quarter century, too, right?

The irony is that buried somewhere in all that dysfunction is a fairly promising roster and cap flexibility. Clippers fans can look forward to Blake Griffin's return in 2011-12, and Dunleavy left Donald Sterling enough cap space to get a marquee free agent if anybody wants to go.

That's almost as hard to imagine as the Clippers winning anything on Sterling's watch, no matter who's picking and coaching the players.

Posted on: February 17, 2010 7:07 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2010 12:38 am

Jamison to Cavs in blockbuster deal

Before the All-Star break, LeBron James made it clear to Cavaliers management what he wanted to see them accomplish at the trade deadline. "Go get Antawn," the King told the Cleveland brass, according to sources.

The Cavs -- and LeBron -- got their man Wednesday night as Cleveland agreed to a three-team, blockbuster deal to acquire Antawn Jamison from the Wizards.

The Cavs get Jamison from Washington and Sebastian Telfair from the Clippers, who send Al Thornton to the Wizards. Washington also receives a 2010 first-round pick, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and the rights to 2009 second-round pick Emir Preldzic from Cleveland. The Wizards send Drew Gooden to the Clippers. The trade received league approval late Wednesday night.

Sources told CBSSports.com that Gooden, traded from Dallas to Washington over the weekend, could be bought out or -- get this -- possibly traded yet again. Ilgauskas, a fan favorite in Cleveland who has spent his entire career there, also could be in line for a buyout that would open the door to returning to the Cavs in 30 days. Sources expect there to be competition for Big Z's services, however. His agent, Herb Rudoy, told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that he's already heard from several teams, with Denver and Dallas likely to be among them.

The six-player trade accomplishes vastly different goals across the NBA landscape: Solidifying the Cavs' status as the team to beat in the East, if not the NBA; hastening the controlled implosion of the Wizards after the Gilbert Arenas fiasco; and the tried and true pastime of saving the Clippers money.

It also solidified the Heat as the front runner to acquire Amar'e Stoudemire from the Suns -- if Phoenix decides to trade him. Rival execs believe that to be a foregone conclusion due to the likelihood that Stoudemire will not be able to work out a long-term agreement with the Suns. Although Phoenix apparently is not thrilled with Miami's offer -- which according to a source includes Michael Beasley and a first-round pick -- the Suns may have little choice but to go through with the deal rather than have their 2010-11 cap space eaten up by Stoudemire and face losing him with no compensation. The Sixers, who have been on the periphery of the Stoudemire discussions, are no longer involved, sources said.

The Cavs' pursuit of an All-Star caliber running mate to pair with James for the stretch run -- and, they hope, beyond -- circled back to where it started a few weeks ago. The Wizards, at the time, were too much in flux to nail down the particulars, and then Cleveland became involved in discussions with Phoenix for Stoudemire.

The Stoudemire situation, in which the Suns were trying to squeeze the best offer out of Cleveland or Miami, would've required the Cavs sending talented young big man J.J. Hickson in addition to Ilgauskas and their No. 1 pick. Due to Jamison's age (33) and contract ($28.4 million remaining over the next two seasons), Cleveland wasn't required to part with Hickson in the Washington deal.

In any event, some elements of the Cavs' hierarchy believed Jamison was a better fit for their team anyway. It's hard not to agree; the Cavs are a defensive team whose only flaw on the offensive end was lacking a spot-up shooter who could stretch the frontcourt. Stoudemire didn't fit that description at all, but Jamison fits it perfectly. Their inability to defend and score from the stretch-four position was their undoing in the playoffs against Orlando. Problem solved. The addition of Jamison makes the Cavs, who already have a league-best 43-11 record, the clear favorite to come out of the East and only enhances their chances in a potential NBA Finals matchup against the Lakers, Denver or Dallas.

Stoudemire's lack of defensive impact, combined with the fact that he didn't pair well with Shaquille O'Neal when they were teammates in Phoenix, tipped to scales in Jamison's favor. So did the fact that rival executives believe the Phoenix was more interested in Miami's offer for Stoudemire, which would include a higher first-round pick -- potentially in the lottery, depending on how the Heat finish the season.

Depending on what happens with Ilgauskas, the Wizards are within striking distance of getting under the luxury tax line -- a stunningly swift and effective demolition of a roster that was loaded with payroll black holes stretching for years. GM Ernie Grunfeld and assistant GM Tommy Sheppard made sure the impact of the devastating Gilbert Arenas firearms suspension would not linger into the summer -- at least financially. In the span of four days, the Wizards shed 60 percent of their starting lineup and nearly $39 million in salary over the next two seasons. Their haul was two potential rotation players -- Josh Howard and Thornton -- plus a first-round pick. Now, the biggest question remains: What to do about Arenas, who is owed $80 million over the next four seasons.

Posted on: February 4, 2010 6:35 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2010 9:03 pm

Dunleavy steps down; what took so long?

The Clippers' news release explaining Mike Dunleavy's decision to step down as head coach Thursday made quite a big deal of the "opportunities" that will present themselves via the trade deadline, draft, and free agency. So let me get this straight: After four playoff appearances in 26 years, the Clippers want their fans to wait till next year?


Dunleavy stepping down as coach was hardly surprising; he's been on the hot seat since the first two weeks of the season, when a team that had enough talent to win even without No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin stumbled out of the gate with seven losses in their first 10 games. Nor was it stunning that Dunleavy would remain in his role as general manager. If Donald Sterling owes somebody money, they will work for it. What kind of job they do is immaterial.

Byron Scott and Lawrence Frank got the ax in November, and yet Dunleavy coached on -- for far too long, with a team that so obviously had tuned him out. As the Clippers would have us believe, this finally dawned on the organization Thursday in a meeting involving Dunleavy, team president Andy Roeser, and assistant GM Neil Olshey. Quick, somebody let them know that Lehman Brothers went under, too.

“I’ve had several conversations with our owner concerning what we think is best for the team overall," Dunleavy said in the statement released by the team. "We have discussed the possibility of my concentrating only on basketball operations. That option has always been available to me. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the ideal time for me to direct my efforts toward the many personnel opportunities that lie before us, such as the trade market, the draft and the free agent process. We fully expect to be active and productive on all those fronts.”

Assistant coach Kim Hughes will take over the interim reins for the rest of the season, which will include all these great opportunities for the organization and a wonderful perk for fans, too. They get to watch the Clippers limp toward the finish line of another dismal, non-playoff season.

By the time everyone in Clipperland "mutually" agreed that the team needed a "fresh voice," the Clippers had lost five of six games, including back-to-back losses to New Jersey and Minnesota, and found themselves seven games under .500 and seven games out of the eighth playoff spot in the West. The Clippers haven't beaten a team that currently has a winning record since they defeated the Lakers on Jan. 6.

After a 103-97 loss in Atlanta Wednesday night, Dunleavy finally concluded that "his voice wasn't reaching the team as effectively as he would've liked," according to a person familiar with the decision.

"We hope that our players will respond in a positive way," Roeser said.

Why wouldn't they? Oh, right. They're the Clippers.

Category: NBA
Posted on: December 25, 2009 8:56 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2009 10:21 am

NBA swings and misses on Christmas Day

Merry Christmas from the NBA. Have you enjoyed your lumps of coal?

It was the league's signature day for national TV exposure, when millions of Americans are sitting around all day with nothing to do but become sick of opening presents and bored with relatives they won't see again until next Christmas. A perfect opportunity to gain a foothold among casual fans who don't appreciate the athleticism, drama, conflict, and strategy of the sport the way you and I do.

You can return the presents you don't like. But you'll never get back the eight hours of your life that was just spent watching this.

First, the Knicks and Heat engaged in a predictably sleepy noon ET tipoff on Friday that was barely watchable. I know, because I sat 50 feet from the baseline and tried to watch it.

Then, the Celtics and Magic played in Orlando, which despite Paul Pierce's absence had a chance to upstage LeBron vs. Kobe as the most thrilling matchup of the day. Instead, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said before the game that Christmas Day games should be banned , and then his team went out and scored 27 points in the first half. Oh, the pain.

Finally, at 5:30 p.m., just as I returned home from the crimes against basketball committed at Madison Square Garden, it was time for the main event. Cavs vs. Lakers. Kobe vs. LeBron.

What did you get, you mainstream fan, you curious Christmas reveler? A hopeless blowout, complete with constant whining about the officiating -- primarily from the Lakers -- and utter classlessness from the Laker fans, who decided this would be a good time to throw foam fingers and water bottles onto the court.

UPDATE: For those who were still tuning in, the Clippers and Suns gave us stinker No. 4. Brandon Roy and the Blazers saved Christmas with a stellar 107-96 victory over the Nuggets. Unfortunately, more than half the country was already sleeping when that happened.

If you enjoy the NBA the way I do, you know these things happen. You can't script thrilling finishes, competitive games, or superstar conflicts to coincide with a day when you have the national spotlight all to yourself. You know that Kobe Bryant and LeBron James will go down as two of the immortals of the sport, faces that someday will join Jordan, Russell, Chamberlain, and Robertson on the sport's Mount Rushmore.

You know that on most random nights, when you're glued to NBA League Pass, the league delivers some of the best unseen drama and buzz-worthy competition in sports -- even if most of it goes unnoticed by the mainstream. 

You know the NBA is cooler and younger and more fan friendly than that dinosaur of a sport, baseball, which continues to dominate the sports coverage and fan discussion where I live -- even though the season ended two months ago.

But this was an unfortunate way for the NBA to publicly announce the unofficial beginning of its time in the national spotlight. You and I can marvel at the Cavs' stellar defensive performance against the Lakers, and how they attacked and exploited the Lakers' defense, which was No. 1 in the NBA in opponent field-goal percentage. You and I can enjoy Dwyane Wade's subtle yet effective performance against the Knicks. You and I can appreciate how the Celtics limped into Orlando and smacked the Magic around without their top scorer.

Did the NBA engage, intrigue, or attract a single casual fan out there in the captive national audience with these three lumps of coal? Not even close. In fact, worse than that, some annoying -- and erroneous -- stereotypes actually were reinforced: 1) The NBA regular season is pointless and unwatchable (witness Heat-Knicks and Celtics-Magic); 2) The officiating is biased, inconsistent, and causes players to spend most of their time whining about calls (witness Cavs-Lakers); and 3) Laker fans are cry babies.

With the possible exception of No. 3, you and I know that's a bunch of nonsense. But after three forgettable Christmas Day games on national TV, the average fan doesn't.

I don't know about you, but it's time for me to change the channel. Who knew the NBA would be relying on the Suns and Clippers to save Christmas?


Category: NBA
Posted on: October 27, 2009 7:49 am

Griffin injury brings more misery to Clippers

The NBA season tips off Tuesday night, but already something quite normal and expected has happened.

Something bad has happened to the Clippers.

The news that No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin will miss up to six weeks with a broken left kneecap seriously dampens all the optimism that has surrounded the league's most star-crossed franchise. When the Clippers take the court Tuesday night against the Lakers, they'll not only have to watch their co-tenants in Staples Center receive their championship rings, but they'll have to do so without the player who has come to symbolize their potential resurgence.

Besides putting the brakes on the Clippers potential resurgence behind Griffin, the injury seriously opens up the rookie of the year race -- before a ball has even been dribbled yet. Going into the season, I predicted that Griffin would hold off a formidable challenge from Sacramento's Tyreke Evans to win the award for the league's best rookie. Now, all bets are off.

The question is, will the injury create a longer-term problem for the Clips? if you're wondering you someone misses only six weeks with a broken knee cap, it's apparently only a stress fracture; the Clippers have promised more info later Tuesday. But any way you look at it, this is a bad break for the Clips and a significant development in the race for rookie honors.

On my way to Cleveland, folks. Time to get the ball in the air.
Posted on: July 31, 2009 10:41 am
Edited on: July 31, 2009 3:48 pm

Knicks pursue Sessions; get rights to J-Will

Ramon Sessions is expecting offer sheets from the Knicks and Clippers, with New York the favorite to land the Bucks' restricted free agent.

Sessions' agent, Chubby Wells, has exchanged proposals with both teams over the past few days and anticipates closing the deal with one of them as early as Friday. The Bucks, who already gave up their rights to restricted free agent Charlie Villanueva earlier this summer, are not expected to match the offer sheet, according to a person familiar with their thinking.

UPDATE: Before getting involved with Sessions, the Knicks are focusing on Jason Williams and have been granted an exclusive, five-day window to negotiate a deal with the unretired point guard, Yahoo! Sports reported. Williams, 33, must navigate a minefield of beaurocracy after filing retirement papers last September, only a month after signing a one-year deal with the Clippers. L.A. relinquished its exclusive rights to negotiate with Williams last week. Any team wanting to acquire those rights would have to claim Williams off waivers first.

Hakim Warrick, whose qualifying offer was withdrawn by Memphis as a precursor to moving him in a sign-and-trade or clearing his $6 million cap hold by rescinding his rights, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Bucks, according to NBA front office sources. The Cavs and Sixers also were in pursuit of Warrick, a 6-9 forward who averaged 11.6 points and 5.0 rebounds for Memphis last season. Milwaukee's decision to draft point guard Brandon Jennings with the 10th overall pick also signaled to rival executives that the Bucks would be unlikely to match offer sheets for Sessions. The Cavs, meanwhile, have made a contract offer to Celtics free agent Leon Powe, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which says Powe is ahead of schedule in his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery.

Another consideration for the Knicks reportedly is Allen Iverson, 34, who would accept a one-year deal at the $5.9 million mid-level exception, thus preserving precious cap space for next summer. Sessions, 23, would require a multi-year offer sheet, but is younger and less risky than Iverson. But a person with direct knowledge of the Knicks' plans squashed any notion of A.I. coming to New York with the following description of the Knicks' interest in the future Hall of Famer: "Zero."

Posted on: July 1, 2009 10:19 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2009 11:34 pm

Trading one Knick reject for another

There must be more than meets the eye when it comes to the trade reported by the Los Angeles Times in which the Clippers send Zach Randolph to the Memphis Grizzlies for Quentin Richardson. Z-Bo makes $6.6 million more than Q-Rich and has two years left on his contract as opposed to Richardson's one. Memphis is under the cap, so the trade doesn't have to satisfy the 125 percent rule. Still, the Clippers should feel fortunate to have found such a willing taker.

But let's not let that get in the way of our euphoria -- our flat-out ecstasy -- over this trade.

Quentin Richardson was one of the first bad contracts acquired by Isiah Thomas when he took over as president of the Knicks. Zach Randolph was another one. One of the worst. It was a miracle that Isiah was there to take Z-Bo from the Clippers Blazers on draft night a couple of years ago.

Now we have one bad Knicks contract traded for another one. Eureka! Mike Dunleavy and Chris Wallace, the respective GMs, have found the holy grail. Next they will pay down the federal debt, cure cancer, and meet in the Western Conference Finals.

We should all enjoy this moment, but we should be a little bit afraid. Trading one Isiah production for another is sort of like Desmond forgetting to push the button on Lost. This trade could unleash a tidal wave of forces way beyond our comprehension and control.

What's next? Eddy Curry for Jerome James?

But I digress. The real, honest-to-God basketball significance of this trade is two-fold. One, for some reason, the Grizzlies have decided to do the Clippers a favor by taking back Randolph, with two years left on his contract, in exchange for Richardson, who has only one year left. So as I mentioned, there has to be something else going on here. And two, the Grizzlies are officially out of the David Lee sweepstakes. With Randolph at power forward, the Grizzlies have no use for the Knicks' restricted free agent.

So to recap: A trade involving one obscene contract previously acquired by Isiah Thomas for another obscene contract previously acquired by Isiah Thomas results in a trade that ... helps the Knicks?

Be afraid. Be very afraid. And throw some salt over your shoulder while you're at it.

Posted on: June 6, 2009 8:22 pm

Griffin and Clippers still want each other

LOS ANGELES -- After spending a day with the Clippers, Blake Griffin still wanted to be one. Speaking of an organization for which so much has gone wrong, that's progress.

But in Clipperland, nothing ever goes quite as planned. When the team opened its gym in a palatial new practice facility for a public workout with their future No. 1 pick, fans, sponsors, and media were treated to a sound they've heard plenty before.


Griffin, the consensus college player of the year, showed off his speed, agility, and frightening athleticism in an hour-long workout for the team that already has proclaimed it will select him with the No. 1 pick in this month's draft. He also displayed a shaky mid-range jumper, balky stroke from the free-throw line, and maybe a little bit of nerves. Once he got past the initial jitters, Griffin said it was an environment he could handle.

"I'm not used to guys bringing me towels in between drills," Griffin said. "That was kind of nice."

Mike Dunleavy, the Clippers' coach and GM who's decided to stake his reputation on Griffin, raved about his character, athleticism, and ball-handling. Griffin's jumper? Eh.

"There's some things with his shot that he has to work on, and he will," Dunleavy said. "But he shoots the ball well enough from mid-range that you have to guard him."

On film and in live games, that may have been true. But in this workout, Griffin -- by his own admission -- shot the ball poorly with nobody guarding him. Dunleavy isn't concerned, because he picked something up right away that a jump-shooting amateur like myself easily missed: If Griffin bobbles the ball on the catch, his first reaction is to lean his head back when he goes up with the shot. The result was what the 100 or so observers witnessed for most of the workout -- short, flat jump shots. That, presumably, can be fixed.

What Griffin alone won't fix is the combustible chemistry that exists on the team he will join in less than a month. He met Baron Davis during his visit -- "Let's get this thing rolling," Baron told him -- but seemed somewhat oblivious to the potential drama that awaits him.

"That is in the past," Griffin said. "I'm not going to worry about what happened 10 year ago, five years ago. As long as we're moving forward, if I'm here, that's all I care about. I think we will."

Dunleavy said other teams have been put on notice that he's not interested in trading the pick, putting the percentage chance he'll use it at "99.9 percent." But there are always exceptions.

"You can never say never about anything, obviously," Dunleavy said. "I don't know who the players are in this league who may fit into that category. Obviously if the word 'LeBron' was spoken by anybody, somebody's door would open."

Listed at 6-10 -- and he looked an inch shy of that to me -- Griffin has the handle and agility to play small or power forward. Defensively, he looked capable of guarding at least three positions. He said some have compared him to Karl Malone, but I'd like to know what those people were smoking. Griffin looks like the classic swing player that is so crucial to the floor-spacing and offensive freedom that the NBA is trying to foster. Not having seen him enough in college to make a declarative statement, he didn't look like a pure power player in this workout to me.

Either way, even Dunleavy admitted that someone will have to go once Griffin arrives. "The math isn't great," he said, noting that he already has Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman, and Zach Randolph at the power positions before Griffin puts on a jersey. "Obviously," Dunleavy said, "we're going to explore other options."

Yup, those are the Clippers. Always exploring something. Maybe this is the one.

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