Posted on: December 31, 2009 1:38 pm
Tracy McGrady is a man without a team. Unless you count the Western Conference All-Star team.
When the third returns in the 2010 All-Star balloting were released Thursday, McGrady had passed Steve Nash and moved into second place among Western Conference guards behind Kobe Bryant. Paper balloting will continue until Jan. 10, while wireless and online voting concludes Jan. 18. The All-Star starters will be announced Jan. 21.
Oh, the delicious irony of McGrady starting the All-Star game in the state of Texas while he's gotten himself banished from the Rockets for complaining about playing time. As the New York Times' Jonathan Abrams needled on Twitter, is McGrady going to wear a Rockets jersey, or one from Attack Athletics, the Chicago gym where he trains with Tim Grover?
Should T-Mac somehow hold off far more deserving candidates like Nash, Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, and Brandon Roy, the best part will be this: The All-Star Game could very well be his last in a Rockets jersey. The game will be played Feb. 14 -- four days before the NBA trade deadline.
If McGrady is voted into the All-Star starting lineup in a season during which he's played all of 46 minutes, should fans be banned from casting All-Star votes? Nah, let the fans have their fun ... the All-Star Game is meant for their entertainment. However, it's worth discussing whether All-Star appearances should be dropped as an official statistic for consideration for such honors as induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame. McGrady starting for the West and Allen Iverson for the East at a time when both are running on fumes would provide plenty of proof that such accolades are meaningless.
Posted on: November 5, 2009 11:12 am
After reviewing the altercation between Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul during and after Sunday's game in Boston between the Celtics and Hornets, the NBA decided not to take disciplinary action against either player.
Posted on: November 2, 2009 9:49 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2009 11:19 pm
NEW YORK -- The NBA is reviewing a confrontation between point guards Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul after Sunday night's game between the Celtics and Hornets, CBSSports.com has learned.
Each player got a technical foul after a tussle under the basket, then they exchanged words after the final buzzer and had to be separated. Paul made an unsuccessful attempt to finish the discussion with Rondo in the Celtics' locker room afterward. Boston won 97-87.
Hornets coach Byron Scott said before his team faced the Knicks Monday night that he hadn't addressed the matter with Paul and didn't believe he was out of line.
"The only thing I heard Chris say after the game as we were walking off was, 'He's going to respect me as a man,'" Scott said. "I don't know what Rondo said, but obviously Chris took exception to it. But I didn't ask him about it or really think much about it after that."
Each player could be subject to a fine, depending on the league office's ruling.
UPDATE: After the Hornets lost to the Knicks 117-111, Paul wouldn't discuss what Rondo said to him that made him so irate. "That’s over and done with," he said. As for the league's decision to review the matter, Paul said, "I’ll wait until somebody says something to me. First I heard of that."
There's a chance Paul could be the subject of a league disciplinary review for the second straight game. During a scramble for a loose ball Monday night, Paul got tangled up with the Knicks' Al Harrington, who got up rubbing his head as though Paul had punched him. Replays showed Paul at one point flailing his arms, but Paul said afterward he didn't throw any punches. Harrington said his head had collided with Paul's knee.
“He didn’t punch," Harrington said. "When I dove, his knee . . . my head hit his knee. He might have slipped a couple of jabs in there, but it didn’t affect me. I fight in the summer so it’s all good. ... It was nothing. It’s nothing anybody should review or anything like that.”
Posted on: November 2, 2009 10:12 am
Edited on: November 2, 2009 1:49 pm
The Celtics' $55 million game of poker with Rajon Rondo is over. After two weeks of posturing, the two sides have agreed to a five-year extension that will keep the point guard from becoming a restricted free agent next summer, a person familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com on Monday.
The $55 million extension came hours before a midnight Tuesday deadline for 2006 draft picks to sign extensions with their current teams. The lone high-profile holdout is Rudy Gay, whose representatives have continued to work with GM Chris Wallace on getting a deal done.
UPDATE: Only a week ago, it seemed that Celtics president Danny Ainge and Rondo's agent, Bill Duffy, were too far apart to get a deal in place before the league-imposed deadline. As a matter of procedure, the Oct. 31 deadline was extended through Monday, the next official business day.
Ainge and Duffy met at halftime of the Celtics' opener at Cleveland on Oct. 27, and things seemed bleak. Ainge told Duffy he was interested in completing a deal, but wanted Duffy to move off his desire for a contract averaging north of $10 million annually.
"And I said, 'Danny, I don’t know if we’re gonna move,'" Duffy said in a telephone interview Monday. "'I respect where you're coming from. If you have any other thoughts or ideas, I'm open to it.'" You have to give him credit. He stuck with it."
Still, no substantive talks took place until Sunday, when Duffy called Ainge to let him know Rondo was prepared to play out the scenario and hit the restricted market next July. According to Duffy, Ainge told him he'd ask owner Wyc Grousbeck to sign off on the five-year, $55 million deal, which was being finalized Monday afternoon.
Rondo, who will turn 24 in February, has the Celtics off to a 4-0 start marked by the return of Kevin Garnett from knee surgery and the addition of free agent Rasheed Wallace. But for all the firepower presented by Wallace and the Big Three, Rondo makes the Celtics go. But some issues had to be resolved first. Ainge and coach Doc Rivers had publicly and privately challenged Rondo to become more of a leader during the offseason. The remarks prompted widespread speculation that Rondo would be traded rather than given an extension offer.
Before the Celtics' season opener in Cleveland last week, Rondo admitted that the extension deadline was "crazy timing," but vowed to push the distraction out of his mind as the Celtics opened their pursuit of an 18th NBA championship. "It'll take care of itself," Rondo said. "I've just got to worry about doing my job."
UPDATE: Duffy said it would've been human nature for Rondo to let the contract situation affect his play.
"As much as a player would say that it’s not an issue, he’s a human being, so it’d have to be in the back of his mind," Duffy said. "But that being said, more than most athletes I've worked with, I don’t think it would’ve affected him much at all because he’s so focused and so competitive. I think he would've used it as a motivator as opposed to feeling insecure about his future."
With Ray Allen becoming an unrestricted free agent after the season and Paul Pierce possessing a player option, the Rondo signing removes some of the uncertainty about how the Celtics will move forward after they finish chasing their second title in three years. Garnett and Wallace are both signed for two more seasons after this one.
And after the upheaval surrounding Rondo this past summer, the extension is all the proof you need that the Celtics have decided that Rondo has grown up enough to lead them into the post-Big Three era. Whether Rondo, who plays best with a grudge, will continue that trend with his future decided is an open question. When he's playing with abandon and chippiness -- as he did Sunday night in a 97-87 victory over the Hornets -- Rondo is at his best. When his hopes of getting an extension withered about a week ago, I thought there was the potential for that to be positive for both sides. Rondo would play with even more nastiness, and that would only benefit the Celtics, who have a veteran team that needs to win another title before the window of opportunity closes.
My answer seemed to come from Rondo's contentious battle with New Orleans counterpart Chris Paul on Sunday night. After Duffy and Ainge agreed in principle before the game, Rondo went into full agitator mode against Paul. Both players got technicals after a tussle under the basket, and they exchanged words and had to be separated after the final buzzer. Paul won the battle of the box score with 22 points, eight assists, and two steals. Rondo had six points, 10 assists, and three steals -- but his team won the game.
That pretty much defines Rondo, one of the rising point guards in the NBA. It defines his team, too. No organization has won more championships than the Celtics, who know a winner when they see one.
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 17, 2008 11:57 am
* Finally, the Rockets showed how dangerous they can be if everyone is healthy. Yao was unstoppable, Tracy McGrady had his fourth career triple-double, and Ron Artest played a crucial role coming off the bench in a 108-96 victory over Denver.
* Those who took issue with my accolades for Derrick Rose will delight in the fact that D.J. Augustin (29 points, 7 assists) outdueled the Bulls' No. 1 pick (7 points, 6 assists) in the Charlotte Bobcats' 110-101 overtime victory over the Bulls.
* I was standing outside the visiting locker room in Philadelphia last Wednesday night when the 76ers' medical staff, led by team doctor Jack McPhilemy, ventured inside to examine Zydrunas Ilgauskas' foot and X-rays thereof. Little did I know how stunned the doctors were when they viewed the X-rays. Bob Finnan of the News-Herald explains. (Link courtesy of TrueHoop.)
* Interesting decision for the Warriors when Monta Ellis comes off the suspended list Friday. Who gets waived or traded to clear a roster spot? Even though Ellis won't be ready to play until sometime in '09, Golden State needs to make room on the roster. Matt Steinmetz makes a solid case that the decision will provide insight into how much GM Chris Mullin's power has diminished. Mullin is believed to want Marcus Williams to stay, but coach -- and perhaps soon-to-be-GM Don Nelson -- wants to keep Rob Kurz. If Kurz stays and Williams goes, you'll have your answer.
Tags: Charlotte Bobcats, Chauncey Billups, Chicago Bulls, Chris Mullin, Chris Paul, Cleveland Cavaliers, D.J. Augustin, Dallas Mavericks, Derrick Rose, Don Nelson, Donnie Walsh, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Mark Cuban, Memphis Grizzlies, Mike D'Antoni, Monta Ellis, New Orleans Hornets, Ron Artest, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Zydrunas Ilgauskas