Posted on: February 13, 2010 3:11 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2010 8:02 pm

Kidd: Butler trade not the only answer

DALLAS -- Jason Kidd likes the trade that would fortify the Mavericks' title hopes, bringing Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson from Washington for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross. But Kidd, an All-Star point guard, said Saturday it's not all the Mavs need to get back on track.

"It could put us right there with the best, but at the end of the day you've still got to play the games," Kidd said on the practice court during All-Star weekend. "So on paper, it doesn't win you a championship. The big thing for us is we got to turn it around because we haven't been playing well as a team anyway. First off, we got to start winning no matter if there's a trade or not."

Butler, having a horrendous year in Washington, would give the Mavs the scoring threat that Howard was unable to deliver -- assuming the change of scenery will restore Butler to his former All-Star level. But the key to the deal could be Haywood, whose shot-blocking and post defense could help solve the problem that had Dallas limping into the All-Star break.

The Mavs went into the break with five losses in seven games, prompting owner Mark Cuban to declare, "We suck right now." The problem has been defense, particularly on the perimeter. Dallas went into the break having allowed 100 points or more in eight consecutive games. According to adjusted plus/minus guru Wayne Winston -- who for nine years headed the Mavs' quantitative analysis team -- Kidd, Jason Terry and J.J. Barea were the worst culprits. With Haywood protecting the basket, all of them should improve.

Posted on: February 12, 2010 5:56 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2010 7:50 pm

Butler-to-Mavs 'looks like it will go through'

DALLAS -- After weeks of discussions, taking the Wizards through various trade proposals that would put them on the path to rebuilding, Washington has revived a deal that would send Caron Butler to the Mavericks as part of a package that includes Josh Howard going to the Wizards, CBSSpports.com has learned.

The deal "looks like it will go through," according to a person with direct knowledge of the discussions. The Butler-for-Howard scenario was revived in the past 48 hours after Dallas owner Mark Cuban initially balked at the idea, the source said. The discussions, described as "lively and serious" by one person involved, expanded to include Brendan Haywood going to Dallas along with DeShawn Stevenson, with Drew Gooden heading to the Wizards, sources said.

The Wizards were deeply involved in discussions with Boston that would've sent Butler and Haywood to the Celtics for Ray Allen, but that deal apparently died for a combination of reasons. The Wizards were reluctant to include Antawn Jamison in the swap, and the Celtics were concerned about taking on large contracts as they try to position themselves to remain a threat down the stretch and also to improve in future seasons.

Barring a snag, Butler would add to the Mavs' offensive potency -- assuming he will return to his previous All-Star level with a change of scenery. But the deal also will add $14.8 million to the Mavs' 2010-11 payroll -- the price Cuban was willing to pay to make a championship run this season.

Howard was virtually a lock to be traded before the Feb. 18 deadline because he's unhappy with his role and has a team option for next season at $11.8 million. The deal has the potential to save the Wizards nearly $15 million in 2010-11 cap space if they decide not to pick up Howard's option.

Posted on: February 10, 2010 6:32 pm

McGrady's escape window opens

Nobody wants to go to New York right now, considering the weather. But if talks progress on a three-team trade proposal involving the Knicks, Rockets, and Wizards, Tracy McGrady might be on his way to the Big Apple by the time the snow is cleaned up.

Though sources cautioned that no deal has been finalized, two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed that the teams have discussed a swap that would send McGrady to New York, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood to Houston, and Al Harrington to the Wizards. Other pieces would have to be involved, but those are the main ones.

The holdup, according to one of the sources, is indecision on the part of the Rockets and Knicks to sign off on the proposal. The second person familiar with the scenario characterized it as one of many discussions the Wizards are actively engaged in as they try to clean house in the wake of Gilbert Arenas' season-wrecking firearms suspension.

Among those discussions, other sources say, involve Butler going to Dallas in an exchange that almost certainly would include Josh Howard. If the Mavs are able to follow through on their desire to trade Howard, they essentially must do so before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. Howard has a team option at $11.8 million for the 2010-11 season, and as such couldn't be traded after the season unless the Mavs picked up the option -- which would guarantee Howard's contract for next season.

As far as McGrady, what would the Knicks' motivation be to import an aging star coming off microfracture surgery -- one who has played all of six games this season? Thus, the hangup. Teams have balked at the Knicks' efforts to divest themselves of Jared Jeffries and Eddy Curry, both of whom are hampering New York's plan to clear further cap space for its free-agent shopping spree this coming summer. Moving Harrington's expiring contract (and another piece to make the trade work under CBA guidelines) and taking on McGrady's $23 million expiring deal wouldn't dramatically improve the Knicks' cap position for 2010-11. The motivation, therefore, would be hoping that McGrady has enough left to help push the Knicks back into the playoff picture. As of Wednesday, New York was 6 1-2 games out of the eighth spot.

Newsday reported Wednesday that Knicks president Donnie Walsh has visited Chicago seeking an answer to that question. Since the Rockets banished him in December, McGrady has been splitting time between Houston and Chicago, where he's worked out with personal trainer Tim Grover at the Attack Athletics gym. Walsh, according to Newsday, could be planning another trip. What he sees could be the tipping point in what would be one of the most significant deals to occur before the deadline.
Posted on: January 27, 2010 10:38 pm

Gilbert: What's next?

Just as Gilbert Arenas had little choice but to accept a season-long suspension from David Stern on Wednesday, the three-time All-Star will be a helpless bystander in negotiations that will determine his future in the NBA.

Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said after the suspension was announced that the team wasn't ruling out any options, including termination of Arenas' contract, which has four years and $81 million left after this season. An attorney familiar with the negotiations that resulted in Arenas accepting the rest-of-the-season ban without appeal said it's understood among the parties that such a stiff penalty would just about rule out a successful attempt by the Wizards to void his deal.

"One of reasons the punishment was so severe is that the NBA recognizes that the Wizards probably won't be able to void the contract," the person said.

But Arenas feels abandoned by the Wizards, and particularly by Grunfeld, who orchestrated the decision to turn Arenas over to legal and NBA authorities on Dec. 24, the same day CBSSports.com first reported that Arenas was the target of a firearms investigation. While some in the organization hold out hope that the relationships can be repaired -- a result that would make it easier for the Wizards to get fair value for him in a trade -- the fallout from this incident will be too much to overcome.

"How do you bring him back in that locker room?" the person familiar with the situation said. "And what's the next step? Is it a trade? You can't realistically expect to patch that up, no matter what anybody is saying. That relationship’s fractured."

As things stand now -- a little more than three weeks before the Feb. 18 trade deadline -- the Wizards will have to accept that they won't get fair value in an trade for Arenas. Short of a trade, the only solution to rid the Wizards of Arenas -- and vice versa -- would be a buyout reaching into the tens of millions. With the transfer of ownership from the family of the late Abe Pollin to prospective majority owner Ted Leonsis still up in the air, that's not a realistic option, either.

What happens to Arenas' salary? He will forfeit 1/110th of his $16.2 million base salary per game, a total of $7,065,634. According to a person familiar with CBA provisions for suspended players, the money typically is divided evenly between the NBA and players association charitable foundations. The league and union also could agree to let the Wizards keep the money, the source said. In either case, the Wizards get no break on their luxury tax bill.

Which somehow seems poetic. The Wizards haven't caught a break since they signed Arenas to the six-year, $111 million deal in the first place.

Category: NBA
Posted on: January 27, 2010 12:11 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2010 6:46 pm

Arenas suspended for rest of season (UPDATE)

NEW YORK -- Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton, whose dispute involving guns on NBA property plunged the league into another image crisis, were both suspended for the rest of the 2009-10 season Wednesday.

NBA commissioner David Stern announced the suspensions in a strongly worded news release after meeting with Arenas at the NBA offices for a little more than an hour. Then, he blistered both players on a national media conference call, saying he's "simply not going to tolerate" guns on NBA property.

"We mean what we say when we say that guns are prohibited from being in our buildings or on team business," Stern said. "And when you violate that prohibition, you will be dealt with harshly."

Crittenton, the other party in the Dec. 21 argument at Verizon Center in Washington, met with Stern Tuesday. Both players have pleaded guilty to gun charges as a result of the incident.

“This is about the health and safety of our players – all players, as well as the overall image of our players," Stern said.

Sources told CBSSports.com that Arenas agreed not to appeal the suspension as a way to avoid a potentially longer sentence of a full 82 games, which would have stretched into next season. Stern denied there was any such agreement. Arenas, 28, a three-time All-Star and one of the most flamboyant performers in the league, will lose more than $7 million in salary and still faces possible discipline from the Wizards.

The Washington Post first reported the agreement between Stern and Arenas, who was accompanied in the meeting with Stern by his criminal defense attorney, Ken Wainstein, but not by any representatives from the players association.

Stern negotiated the suspension details with Billy Hunter, the executive director of the players association, over the past several days, but the collective bargaining agreement gave him sole discretion to deliver a suspension of any length under Article 35(d) of the NBA Constitution. The two also discussed strengthening the league's gun policy during negotiations on a new CBA, which are expected to begin in earnest during All-Star weekend in Dallas Feb. 12-14.

"We’re going to make, I would guess, an even stronger statement on the subject than is being made with the penalties being announced," Stern said.

Arenas arrived in New York shortly after 11 a.m. and went straight to the NBA offices on Fifth Avenue, where Stern had been waiting to speak with him before rendering his decision. According to a source, it was the first time Arenas had spoken with league officials about the Dec. 21 dispute.

Crittenton pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor gun charge stemming from the argument. Arenas previously pleaded guilty to a felony charge of carrying a pistol without a license and will be sentenced March 26.

Stern acknowledged that his decision to suspend Arenas indefinitely on Jan. 7 was a direct result of his conduct in the wake of the firearms investigation, which was first reported by CBSSports.com on Dec. 24. In the days after details of the incident became public, Arenas took to his Twitter page with wild, rambling statements and stated publicly in locker-room interviews that he'd done nothing wrong. His career careened out of control on Jan. 5, when in the pre-game huddle in Philadelphia he pantomimed shooting his teammates with finger guns. That, Stern said, was the last straw.

"I felt that I should do something to keep Gilbert from doing even further damage to himself," Stern said.

If Arenas accepts the suspension without appeal, he will miss 48 games -- the third-longest non-drug related suspension in NBA history, following Ron Artest (73) and Latrell Sprewell (68). Under provisions that call for him to forfeit 1/110th of his $16.2 million salary, Arenas' lost income will be $7,065,634.

Stern said he has not personally counseled the Wizards on whether or how it might be possible to void Arenas' contract, which has four years and $81 million remaining after this season -- though he acknowledged that such conversations would take place among attorneys for the parties involved.

The Wizards have taken no official steps indicating their intention to void Arenas' contract, which would be a tall order. Language in the CBA protects players from being punished by the league and the team for the same offense, except under "egregious" circumstances. Stern reiterated Wednesday that the league suspensions are "irrespective of any action the team might take."

"You’ll have to ask a lawyer," Stern said. "I'm just the commissioner. And I'm sure if you ask 10 lawyers, you’d get 10 different descriptions. That’s how those guys are. So I don’t want to practice law on this phone call other than to say the team is a separate issue."

The Wizards issued a statement saying the players "violated the trust of our fans," and that their "poor judgment ... stands in contrast to everything Abe Pollin stood for throughout his life."

Arenas, whose relationship with most members of the Wizards' hierarchy is fractured, has told confidants that he believes he's finished in Washington.

One legal fight that Arenas may have avoided is a potential grievance over his suspension. If he compels the players' association not to appeal, there will be no need for an arbitrator to rule on whether Arenas bringing guns to the Verizon Center locker room constituted an on-court or off-court offense. Suspensions in excess of 12 games for on-court offenses can be appealed to a grievance arbitrator; for all other matters, Stern is the arbitrator.

And he spoke Wednesday, loud and clear. 

Posted on: January 25, 2010 5:47 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2010 9:40 pm

Stern not likely to cut Arenas a break (UPDATE)

Javaris Crittenton’s guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of a firearm Monday cleared one of the final hurdles before the David Stern Department of Justice can render its decision.

That is expected to happen, sources said, once investigators and lawyers from the NBA security department speak with Crittenton – that is, if they haven’t already.

The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement requires players facing discipline to cooperate with league investigators once they are out of legal jeopardy. Crittenton’s plea and sentence of one year probation and a $1,000 fine (plus $250 in court costs) cleared the way for him to share his version of the facts with the league.

The proffer of facts presented Monday by prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia revealed that there was “no evidence” Crittenton’s firearm – a 9mm semi-automatic Taurus – was loaded when he pulled it out of his backpack during a dispute with Arenas in the Verizon Center locker room on Dec. 21. Prosecutors also stated: “There also is no evidence that Crittenton ever chambered a round, pulled back the hammer, raised or pointed the firearm, or otherwise brandished the firearm in a threatening manner at any time during this incident.”

The government’s version of events supported earlier statements by Crittenton’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, who had said that his client did not brandish a gun during the argument with Arenas. But does that mean Crittenton – or Arenas, for that matter – will be viewed more favorably by Stern? Most likely not, and here’s why:

The closest precedents for this case are Stephen Jackson’s seven-game suspension for firing a gun into the air outside an Indianapolis strip club in 2006, and two gun-related suspensions assessed to Sebastian Telfair. In 2005, Telfair was suspended two games when a gun was found in his luggage on a team flight, and in 2008 he was suspended three games after getting pulled over with a loaded gun in his car. With the public calling for – and the players association bracing for – a lengthy suspension for Arenas of between 25 games and the rest of the season, how can Stern go there when at least some of the facts acknowledged by prosecutors suggest a tone more consistent with a practical joke than a gun battle? How could Arenas’ suspension stretch many times longer than those given to Jackson and Telfair?

Here’s how: First of all, witnesses who were in the locker room at the time of the incident gave conflicting accounts to the authorities as to whether Crittenton’s gun was loaded. You and I would do the same. How would you know? One source told CBSSports.com that the players present – Randy Foye, Mike Miller, and DeShawn Stevenson – ran out of the locker room when the guns came out. As you might imagine, nobody in his right mind is going to stick around to find out if the guns are loaded. Even under some aspects of the D.C. criminal code, brandishing an unloaded gun carries the same penalty as brandishing a loaded one because potential victims have no way of telling the difference.

Also, Arenas and Crittenton crossed a precedent-setting line that neither Jackson nor Telfair crossed: They brought the guns onto NBA property – i.e., the locker room – and worse than that, they took them out. This, along with Arenas’ decision to mock the seriousness of gun play with his fake-guns display in a pre-game huddle on Jan. 5, set him up for a lengthy ban by Stern. The only factor in Arenas’ favor, in my opinion, is the suspension that is pending for the CavaliersDelonte West, who was pulled over in Maryland last year carrying a loaded arsenal. If Arenas gets 50 games, what does West get? A hundred?

Aside from NBA investigators interviewing Crittenton, one other issue will have to be resolved before this is over. Under the CBA, players who have committed on-court transgressions are eligible to appeal suspensions of longer than 12 games to a grievance arbitrator. In all other cases, Stern is the arbitrator – and you can imagine the success rate of those appeals. After the Palace brawl in 2004, the definition of “on-court” was expanded to include areas like arena hallways (known as vomitories) and the locker room. But a distinction was made to specify violations committed “at, during, or in connection with” an NBA game. Since the Arenas-Crittenton incident occurred on a practice day, it is likely that an arbitrator will have to rule on whether he can hear the appeal before actually ruling on it.

Either way, all signs point to a whopping punishment coming from the commissioner’s office. All things considered, I would recommend that Mr. Arenas and Mr. Crittenton get hobbies.
Posted on: January 15, 2010 9:37 pm

Arenas verdict in; Stern next

Although Gilbert Arenas’ guilty plea Friday to a felony gun possession charge cleared the way for NBA Commissioner David Stern to impose his punishment, the three-time All-Star probably will have to wait a little longer to learn his fate.

It’s impractical for the league to wait until Arenas’ March 26 sentencing to define the length of his suspension. Sources indicated Friday that a sanction would likely come down from Stern in the next week or so, pending the completion of a probe by the NBA security department.

Two people familiar with the situation said there were indications that Arenas already had spoken with league investigators or would soon meet with them to detail the Dec. 21 firearms incident that resulted in Friday’s plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Arenas’ attorney, Ken Wainstein, could not be reached for comment.

League executives and attorneys familiar with the process predict a minimum 20-game ban for Arenas, with the possibility that Stern could suspend him for the rest of the season. Arenas, suspended indefinitely by Stern on Jan. 6 for violating the league’s ban on firearms on team property and for his subsequent conduct, will have missed five games by the end of the weekend. If Stern has not rendered his decision by Feb. 2, when Arenas will have missed 13 games on indefinite suspension, the sanction would qualify for an appeal to be heard by a grievance arbitrator under provisions of the collective bargaining agreement.

The Wizards, who have already expunged Arenas’ image from all corners of Verizon Center, further distanced themselves from their former centerpiece with a chilling news release after Arenas’ plea Friday.

“Gilbert Arenas has been a cornerstone of the Washington Wizards for six years,” the team said. “We are deeply saddened and disappointed in his actions that have led to the events of this afternoon. Gilbert used extremely poor judgment and is ultimately responsible for his own actions.”


Stern has the latitude under Article 35(d) of the NBA Constitution to fine Arenas up to $50,000 and suspend him for any length of time. The NBA Players Association will appeal the suspension as a matter of procedure, but sources have told CBSSports.com that any attempt by the Wizards to void Arenas’ contract would be “contested vigorously.”

According to a person who has read the letter Stern sent to Arenas on Jan. 6, the commissioner left open the possibility of further discipline by the team. Stern referred to his decision to indefinitely suspend Arenas as being “without regard” to any action the team might take. But proving that Arenas’ actions amounted to a violation of the “moral turpitude” clause of the Uniform Player Contract will be problematic, according to attorneys familiar with the CBA and its likely interpretation by a grievance arbitrator. Aside from that, the CBA stipulates that players cannot be punished by the league and their team for the same violation, except under “egregious” circumstances.

Arenas, 28, stands to lose $8,390,441 of his $16.2 million salary if he’s suspended for the rest of the season; he makes $147,200 per game, or 1/110th of his salary. In addition, there were unconfirmed reports Friday that his shoe sponsor, adidas, had decided to void his contract with them.

If the Wizards are unable to successfully void Arenas’ contract or trade him – a virtual impossibility if he serves jail time or loses the rest of this season to suspension – the only other resolution would be a buyout. One rival executive predicted that Arenas, who feels scorned and isolated by Wizards’ management, would be willing to accept substantially less than the $80 million he’s owed over the next four seasons for the chance at a fresh start elsewhere.
Category: NBA
Posted on: January 8, 2010 10:19 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2010 2:28 am

Jackson: Banning card games is 'P.R. thing'

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Lakers coach Phil Jackson used to play card games for money back in his playing days, and he doesn't think it's necessary to ban his players from doing the same.

"No, I'm not in favor of that right now at all," Jackson said Friday night in the wake of teams including the Nets and Wizards banning gambling on team planes. A dispute involving firearms between Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton erupted over a disagreement during a card game on the team charter.

"I think it’s just a P.R. thing, personally," Jackson said. "What are these players going to do when they get back in their hotels or they get back in their home space? They're going to go in their houses or their rooms in the hotels and gamble. Maybe on the planes might even be a better spot for them to do it because they're monitored and in the company of guys." 

Jackson said high-stakes card games haven't been a problem for the Lakers. 

"We have about four or five guys that play on our team and they seem to have a wonderful time doing it," Jackson said. "It seems to be really a great release for them and a pastime."

Jackson said he gambled over card games when he played. "I wasn’t very good at it, but I contributed to the action," he said. "We didn’t have charter flights. We flew commercial. And Jerry Lucas had an incredible memory, so he just kept score so we didn’t have to exchange money."

A Blazers official said banning card games on the team plane isn't necessary because it isn't prevalent among their players.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com