Posted on: July 2, 2009 11:49 am
Edited on: July 2, 2009 5:39 pm
The Celtics' star-laden recruiting pitch for Rasheed Wallace is occurring Thursday afternoon in Detroit. CBSSports.com has learned that Celtics president Danny Ainge, apparently flanked by his Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce, will court the former Pistons forward in a matter of hours.
Boston is the first team Wallace will meet with as he weighs his free-agent options. The Celtics' contingent had expressed a desire to meet face-to-face with Wallace as soon as the free-agent negotiating period opened at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, but it was decided that the meeting would take place Thursday, a person with knowledge of the situation said. Celtics managing partner Wyc Grousbeck also is believed to be on the trip.
Wallace's camp has heard from eight or nine teams with interest in signing him, but Wallace will narrow the list down based on the teams' chances of making a deep playoff run and how he will fit in. The Celtics, Cavaliers, Spurs, and Lakers certainly fit those criteria and have interest. Houston initially was a team that intrigued Wallace, but that interest has waned with the news that Yao Ming could miss the entire 2009-10 season with a broken foot. Although Denver officials are big fans of Wallace -- GM Mark Warkentien and Wallace were together in Portland -- the Nuggets are not among the teams that have expressed interest.
UPDATE: The Celtics offered Wallace a contract at the anticipated mid-level exception after the three-hour meeting, according to the Boston Globe. The Big Three, Ainge, Grousbeck, and coach Doc Rivers attended the meeting.
Posted on: April 2, 2009 12:24 pm
Edited on: April 2, 2009 12:24 pm
Time to chase away the crickets from that Lawrence Frank post. Can you hear 'em?
Yes, LeBron James is on Twitter. Allegedly. According to J-Cam's reporting, the Twitter folks say it's really him.
Funny thing is, there are 426 followers, but no posts yet. The world awaits breathlessly. My guess is, LeBron is waiting for someone to pay him to Tweet. That's what I'd do, if someone would pay me to Tweet. (I'm working on it.)
As it usually goes on the interwebs, one click leads to another, which leads to another, and by the time I was finished digesting J-Cam's Twitter story, I had learned that Paul Pierce, Baron Davis, Danny Granger, and Chris Bosh are on Twitter, too. Pierce used the social networking site to advise fans to show up at the TD Banknorth Garden at a specified time to get free tickets in his suite.
“first 5 people who meet me at the garden in the players parking lot entrance at 445 with my jersey on get free tickets password is truth,” the Truth wrote. This was no joke. Five fans scored the tix and watched the Celtics beat Oklahoma City from Pierce's personal suite.
I also learned that not only is Bosh on Twitter, but he's on Facebook, too. He has 44,405 friends and counting, all of whom apparently were at his 25th birthday bash, photos of which are posted here. Ah, to be young, rich, and going from one max contract to the next. There's also a photo of the Eastern Conference All-Stars posing with Muhammad Ali in the locker room. Bosh scooped every major and minor news organization in the world with that pic.
Interesting times. I guess the question I'll pose is this: Which is bigger right now? LeBron or Twitter?
Posted on: March 27, 2009 11:08 pm
ATLANTA -- After a brutal stretch of eight games in 13 days -- six of them on the road -- have the Celtics survived the brunt of their injury woes? Or is it just getting started again?
The Celtics' nightmare stretch -- they were 5-3, including Friday night's 99-93 victory over the Hawks -- ended on the same night Kevin Garnett's comeback from a sprained right knee was aborted. Doc Rivers said before the game Garnett's absence could be extensive, and nobody seems to be able to say where the tipping point is between getting healthy for the playoffs and not having enough time to get ready for them.
"I don't know what point that is," Rivers said. "It's just uncharted waters. We just don't know the right answer there. The great news for us is that we have a ton of practice days. And even if we make the decision to rest him longer, we can still use him in some of our skeleton offense and defensive stuff in practice to get him time, where before he couldn't even be on the floor. Coming back this time, he had no practice time, nothing. Coming back this way, if we did do that, at least he could come back with practice under his belt and timing under his belt."
With Rajon Rondo still limping with an ankle injury, Garnett out of the lineup again after a four-game cameo, and Leon Powe on the shelf with a sprained right knee, the only signs of optimism come from the schedule. The Celtics are straring at five straight home games and only two more road games -- and none until April 12.
"Hopefully, he can just be healthy for the playoffs," Paul Pierce said. "That's the main concern."
That's been easy to say for a while now, because the playoffs are far enough way. As they get closer, the concern heightens. If the champs are going to defend their title, they need to be whole.
"Honestly, I don't think that way," Ray Allen said. "Whoever lines up on the floor, that's who we have. ... I just want him to get healthy. When Kev gets back, that's when we'll focus on having him out there. But right now, we don't have him."
Posted on: March 11, 2009 5:48 pm
We're going to try something new here in the 'Sphere. Your comments in the blog and at the end of my columns are pretty self explanatory. Not always printable, but self explanatory. Those of you who take the time to send an email deserve a quick response. So I'm going to be responding more frequently to my, um, "fan mail," and I use that term loosely. So here's the latest batch of emails beamed from the mother ship in Fort Lauderdale. Geez, tell me what you really think ...
Bubbs writes of my take on the Celtics: "That's somewhat true of Rondo. But the Celtics only will go as far as Paul takes them, just as I said last year. He plays up to the level as a great player, we can't be beat. If he plays soft, laid back, just trying to fit in, we can't win against the great teams."
Hey, Bubbs. Congratulations. When did you sign with the Celtics? And here I thought Marbury was their only big acquisition. Seriously, you make a great point about Pierce. Despite his heroics in the playoffs and Finals last year, somehow he isn't regarded nationally as being on the same level as the top stars. But the more I watch him, the more it becomes apparent that I can count the players I'd rather give the ball to on the last possession of a tight game on four fingers: Kobe, LeBron, Wade, and Dirk. When he's on and it's crunch time, very few are better.
Jim M. writes of my take on the MIT stats conference: "Very interesting article. Could you give me more info about this? For example, what statistical criteria do they use and why?"
Thanks, Jim. There's no short answer to your question except to say that the sophisticated teams are analyzing positively everything. Their goal is to attempt to quantify things that, on the surface, don't seem quantifiable. The best example is defining clutch play. Some of the smart people I spoke with at MIT seemed OK with the clutch-play rankings at 82games.com, which define clutch time as the last five minutes of regulation or overtime with neither team ahead by more than five points. They key thing to remember is that there are multiple factors that determine the outcome of games, possessions, and the multiple chances to score that occur within possessions. For example, going back to the notion of whether or not shooters have hot streaks: The numbers show that when a player made his last jump shot, he's more likely to 1) shoot his team's next shot, 2) shoot it sooner in the possession, and 3) shoot a more difficult shot. To get the purest interpretation of these results, you have to consider that there may be more than one reason why the ensuing shot is more difficult. On one hand, the player (let's say Kobe) might be inclined to take a more difficult shot because he thinks he's feeling it. But the defender may be forcing him to take a more difficult shot because he's aware that the last one went in. The variables are almost endless, but the teams that utilize all the tools and data at their disposal, in my opinion, have a higher probability of having success. Unless they're the Clippers.
John W. takes issue with my take on the Celtics: "Oh by the way ... it was a good 1-1 weekend for the Cavs, also. Don't be so biased. You sound like a Republican in the presidential race. Try to be a little more, uh, talented."
You betchya, John! I'll try! And if somebody thinks I have a pro-Celtics bias, then I must be doing my job.
Bebeto disagrees with my assertion that the Magic won't beat the Cavs or Celtics in the playoffs: "Voila, Ken: That is why you are a non-quality writer."
According to Wikipedia, Jose Roberto Gama de Oliveira -- a.k.a. "Bebeto," is a former Brazilian soccer (a.k.a. "football") player who led Brazil to the 1994 World Cup. Spelled differently, it also means "little baby" in Spanish.
Bryan says LeBron should still be MVP, not D-Wade: "Ken, seriously. I just had this debate on a CBS message board. LeBron didn't win last year even though his stats were better than Kobe's, because Kobe was on a better team and LeBron didn't win 50 games. This year, LeBron's stats have been almost as good, if not better, and his team is much better. I love D-Wade too, but he is this year's LeBron James from last year ... and LeBron is this year's Kobe. His team is much better; D-Wade won't win 50 games, and you even said it yourself ... the numbers are very comparable. If you didn't vote for him last year, LBJ has to get it this year based on those same criteria. You can't take it from him both years."
Thanks, Bryan. Sound reasoning and a perfect example of why this year's MVP vote will be even more difficult than last year's.
Chris Fanguy says don't forget about CP3: "Leaving Chris Paul out of the league MVP talk is a crime. He is the whole New Orleans team and is having a BETTER year this year than his 2nd-place MVP year last year. He is the best overall player in the game and is a class act off the court. Everybody needs to learn to stop jumping on the bandwagon and really dig into some stats. Paul could be the FIRST PERSON ever to lead the league in steals and assists in consecutive years."
Good call, Fanguy. This analysis from HoopsAddict is from last season, but it highlights how quietly dominant CP3 really is. I have no problem with him getting all the consideration he deserves. But think about how long it took Kobe to win his first MVP. Paul is going to have to wait his turn, and LeBron, Wade, and Kobe are playing at too high a level for him to topple those giants this season. Someday, though, it'll happen.
Lucas offers a vote for Wade: "Wade is the most deserving of the MVP. Too bad all the writers already gave it to Squire James last November.
Hey Lucas, as my article proves, I haven't made up my mind.
Eric N. says I need to go West: "Your bias towards the Eastern players and teams is disappointing. How come no mention of Kobe? P.S. Have you ever played?"
It goes without saying that Kobe, the defending MVP, is in the running. But how many points would LeBron and Wade be averaging if they played with Pau Gasol? Anyway, it is well documented that I was a key reserve -- and I use that term loosely -- for the West Islip High School varsity boys' basketball team on Long Island in the late 1980s. But I should've played lacrosse.
Kevin K. says welcome to the D-Wade fan club: "I'm glad you came out with the D-Wade argument. I always liked him better than LeBron and Kobe. Maybe it is his swag, but I hopped on the Miami Heat bandwagon as soon as he joined the squad. D-Wade is my favorite player and I just hate the fact that LeBron and Kobe get all the exposure. What I really admire about my dude D-Wade is his humble attitude. That is what makes him an even better player ... I'm out.
You're out? Do we have one of Rome's clones stepping up in the BergerSphere? Nice! So here's a response: "Humble is as humble does. Sincerely, Kobe Bryant."
Posted on: December 19, 2008 10:07 am
Carlos Boozer was looking dapper in a nicely tailored suit Wednesday night as he stood in the bowels of the IZOD Center chatting with one of my competitors, Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com. What Boozer said during the interview has sent the already fragile Jazz into a tailspin.
What did Boozer say, you ask? That his strained left quadriceps tendon would keep him out until the All-Star break, or for the rest of the season? That Jerry Sloan was a grouchy old man? That Paul Millsap was the most overrated player in the NBA -- not the most underrated, the honor CBSSports.com bestowed upon him Thursday?
Nope. Nothing quite that controversial. Nothing even remotely surprising or combustible at all.
Boozer simply confirmed what anyone who follows professional basketball should have known: That he intends to declined his $12.7 million player option this coming summer and seek a long-term deal.
"I'm opting out. No matter what, I'm going to get a raise regardless," Boozer said. "I am going to opt out, I don't see why I wouldn't, I think it's a very good business decision for me and my family, but I'd also like to see what happens with the Jazz and stay here."
That quote rippled through the Jazz organization, all the way up to owner Larry Miller, who blistered Boozer on his weekly radio show Thursday.
"It's one of the top 10 stupidest things I've heard an NBA player do in 20 years," Miller said.
Why would this come as such a surprise? Top-tier players like Boozer and Kobe Bryant (early termination clauses in '09), plus LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade (player options in 2010) specifically negotiated escape clauses in their current deals -- escape clauses that kick in before the current collective bargaining agreement expires. A host of others -- Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Michael Redd, Yao Ming, Paul Pierce, Richard Jefferson, Tyson Chandler -- have early termination clauses in 2010. What's the big deal?
All of these clauses were negotiated so marquee players would have a chance to sign long-term deals -- in many cases, the last of their careers -- under the current rules. Once the CBA expires in 2011, most players and agents believe the new agreement will be less favorable to them and more favorable to the owners. All of the above players will get more money if they opt out or terminate their contracts before the CBA expires than they would if they waited.
James has parsed his words carefully in discussing his 2010 options, but he has all but said what Boozer said the other night -- that he plans to decline his player option and become a free agent. That doesn't mean James, Boozer, Bosh, Wade and others will leave their teams; after all, their current teams can pay them more and give them longer deals. Boozer went so far as to say that in his quote, adding that he'd "like to see what happens with the Jazz and stay here."
Despite the fact that Boozer was merely being honest and essentially stating the obvious, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan expressed disappointment with his comments. Boozer went into damage control mode with local beat reporters; here is the transcript of their conference call. Boozer and the Jazz tried to blame the messenger, a standard media relations ploy when someone says something controversial. The spin was that Boozer thought he was simply chatting off the record with Sheridan, who spent a lot of time with Boozer and teammate Deron Williams while covering Team USA's gold medal run in Beijing. Boozer even invoked the old "the reporter put words in my mouth" tactic. Don't believe it.
There was nothing off-the-record or sinister about this, and nothing really surprising or controversial, either. It's just business, people. Good business, at that. Can't be mad at Boozer -- or any other player -- for that.
Posted on: December 17, 2008 12:26 pm
You know something is up when a Hawks game is (almost) sold out.
The Celtics are in Atlanta Wednesday night for their first meeting with the Hawks since they needed Paul Pierce's dramatic fallaway jumper at the buzzer to secure a 103-102 victory on Nov. 12. Boston is riding a 15-game winning streak, but lost all three games in Atlanta during the playoffs last season. The Hawks have won seven straight at home and nine of 10, including a 97-92 victory over Cleveland Saturday night -- snapping the Cavs' 11-game winning streak.
SLAM opens the floor to debate as to whether you can call Celtics-Hawks a rivalry yet. A promo on the Hawks' website has caught the Celtics' attention, with Ray Allen saying, "The building is going to be a playoff atmosphere so we need to go down there with a different mindset."
(Here's the promo, which apparently provided the Celtics with a few laughs. It quoted Kevin Garnett saying, "I wouldn't call it a rivalry," and showed a highlight reel that makes it appear that the Hawks won the first-round series.)