Tag:Nuggets
Posted on: December 17, 2010 2:13 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2010 9:28 pm
 

Post-Ups (UPDATE)

Houston and Portland, we have problems. 

Two teams that have been tantalizingly close to championship contention in recent years are suddenly in turmoil due to injuries -- franchise-shaping injuries to their franchise players. 

Portland had no sooner come to grips with the loss of Greg Oden -- again -- when the gathering storm of controversy between ailing star Brandon Roy and veteran point guard Andre Miller popped up. The Rockets, struggling without point guard Aaron Brooks, now may have to completely rethink their style of play and strategy for the future with word that center Yao Ming could be out for the year with a stress fracture in his ankle. 

“They built around Yao and they’re going to have to change who they are and become a more transition-oriented team,” a rival executive said. * No one ever thought the Rockets would commit to Yao beyond this season until they learned whether he’d be able to return to the court and be productive. With the answer to that question now being no, it’s time to scrap the notion that Houston can rely on Yao to ever be the centerpiece of a title-contending team. 

Changes are needed in the short run, too. Once Brooks returns -- and that will be soon -- the Rockets will need to forget about Yao and push the pace in a way that fits the talent they have. Kevin Martin is a transition player, and Brooks certainly is. So is recently acquired Terrence Williams, who could be a key part of this new strategy if the change of scenery also changes his attitude. 

As for the Blazers, it would appear that their incredible aptitude for overcoming serious and numerous injuries has come to an end. In the past, winning masked the uncomfortable co-existence of Roy and Miller. Now that Portland is struggling, there’s no way to hide the fact that Roy and Miller aren’t a good fit in the backcourt together. Sources already have told CBSSports.com that Blazers officials are considering going young and moving some of their older pieces -- such as Miller, Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla. Miller, with a fully non-guaranteed $7.8 million in 2011-12, has off-the-charts trade value -- especially for a contender in need of a steadying force at point guard. 
UPDATE: A person familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com Friday that Roy's recent comments about the difficulty he's having playing with Miller were no accident. "He's an unhappy camper," the person said. "A very unhappy camper. For Brandon to talk like that, he's got to be at his breaking point."
Sources continue to tell me that Orlando, which is concerned about not measuring up to Boston and Miami in the East, would be the perfect fit for Miller. The Magic are not going to accept carrying a $94 million payroll into the playoffs, only to lose in the conference semifinals -- which seems to be their fate as currently constructed. Rashard Lewis’ impact continues to diminish, Vince Carter is little more than a jump-shooter, and Jameer Nelson is too inconsistent to rely on as the floor general of a championship-contending team. 

Miller could be the elixir for Orlando. All he does is find open shots for his teammates, and Dwight Howard would be thrilled with Miller’s elite talent as a lob-passer. Howard, who will be part of a blockbuster free-agent class in 2012, has quickly grown frustrated with the Magic’s obvious limitations. 

The piece that could get it done is Marcin Gortat, who’s a starting center on any team but one that has Howard. Though Gortat’s contract goes out three more years, it’s at a reasonable rate for a starting center -- topping out at $7.7 million in 2013-14, when Gortat has an early-termination option. 

Blazers GM Rich Cho has liked Gortat since his days working as Sam Presti’s right-hand man in Oklahoma City, so such a deal would seem to make sense from all angles. Gortat would give Portland a reasonable insurance policy in case Oden never becomes worthy of his No. 1 overall selection in 2007, and Roy would have the ball in his hands more -- which is something he can’t have when playing alongside Miller. Whether Roy’s knees will hold up under those demands is a valid question, but one Portland may very well need answered one way or another. 

UPDATE: According to one source, Roy’s contract is insured against injuries to either knee. There is an outside, secondary policy, the person with knowledge of the policy said, and it also covers one of his ankles. Another person familiar with the details pointed out there are restrictions tied to the length of disability and stipulations related to the timing of a particular injury. Either way, that’s an insurance policy the Blazers never want to have to dust off. Better to put the ball in their franchise player’s hands and see what happens. What have they got to lose? 

Nothing, which is the opposite of what we have in the rest of this week’s Post-Ups: 

* Executives working the phones during these early days of trade inquiry say the teams that appear most determined to make deals before the Feb. 24 deadline are Portland, Detroit, Minnesota, Memphis and Charlotte. But while execs have seen the usual volume of calls, the urgency to clear cap space and/or dump salary isn’t nearly as high as it was last summer. Leading up to the 2010 deadline, multiple teams were hellbent on clearing cap space for a robust free-agent class. Not only will this summer’s free-agent class pale in comparison, teams also are unsure of how and when free agency will take shape due to labor uncertainty. 

* Amid commissioner David Stern’s latest CBA rhetoric, sources say there won’t be any bargaining meetings the rest of the year due to scheduling conflicts and the holidays. As of now, the goal is to gather key participants for a smaller negotiating session in January leading up to an all-important full bargaining session during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles. Union officials will be most disturbed by Stern’s assertion during a trip to Memphis this week that the NBA needs to transition to a hard salary cap in order to restore competitive balance. The players view this as a smokescreen, believing that the league wants a hard cap simply as a mechanism to reduce salaries. Meanwhile, Stern dismissed aspects of the NBPA’s proposal that were geared toward improving competitive balance, saying those changes actually would cost owners more money than the current system. So that’s where we are: nowhere. 

* One aspect of the players’ proposal, complete details of which were reported for the first time last week, has gone largely overlooked. The NBPA proposed a broad outline for redistributing draft picks as a way to respond to the owners’ desire to enhance competitive balance. The precise method would be subject to negotiation, but the union envisioned taking draft picks away from the top-tier teams and giving extra picks to the bottom feeders. For example, the top three or top five teams in the draft order would see their first-round picks go to the bottom three or five. So using last year’s lottery order and redistributing the top five teams’ picks, the Wizards would’ve selected first and 26, the Sixers second and 27th, the Nets third and 28th, etc. Not a bad idea, although I wonder if some of those teams would simply be inclined to sell the second of their first-round picks. Either way, it would give struggling teams more assets in their quest to return to playoff contention. 

* As the Nuggets continue to weigh their options with Carmelo Anthony, rival GMs and high-profile agents are divided on whether Anthony would even be a good fit for the Knicks if New Jersey wasn’t able to get him to agree to an extension. There’s no doubting the star power Anthony would bring to New York. Would he make the Knicks better? Clearly, he’d give them the closing perimeter scorer they lack, and in that way he’d be a perfect complement to Amar’e Stoudemire. But would Anthony make the Knicks that much better than a defensive- and transition-oriented wing, such as Gerald Wallace or Andre Iguodala? “I don’t think the Knicks win any more or less games if it’s Gerald Wallace vs. Carmelo,” a rival GM said. “They’re already scoring 120 points a game. I think they have enough offense.” Others point out that Anthony is a low-efficiency shooter and a ball-stopper; coach Mike D’Antoni could live with the former but detests the latter. But my point is, if the ball stops with Anthony and its next stop is in the basket, so be it. In some ways, the inside-outside combination of Stoudemire and Anthony -- with a capable point guard, Raymond Felton, divvying up the shots -- would be more dangerous than LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. But here’s what the Melo-doesn’t-fit crowd will tell you, and I concede this point: The Knicks controlled the pace of Wednesday night’s game against Boston for 47-plus minutes. At the end, when they needed someone to stop Paul Pierce, they had nowhere to turn. Anthony is capable of playing better defense than he’s been asked to in Denver; he showed it in Beijing with Team USA. But it’s worth wondering if a player like Wallace or Iguodala would get you just as much scoring in transition and as the second option on Felton-Stoudemire pick-and-rolls and be capable of defending the other team’s closer on the last possession. Other than the fact that Donnie Walsh never panics, this line of thinking could have a lot to do with why he isn’t crushed by the Nets’ all-out pursuit of Melo. “The Knicks are in a pretty good position to sit back and see where the cap falls,” another executive said. “I don’t think Knicks will give up much to get [Anthony], and I don’t think they have much to give up to begin with.”
Posted on: December 16, 2010 11:02 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2010 11:03 pm
 

In the Moment: George Karl

The day after he became the seventh NBA coach to win 1,000 games, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl sat down with CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger to discuss the milestone, Carmelo Anthony’s future, and his fight with cancer. 

When I sat down with George Karl for an interview at the Pepsi Center last month, we both had a good laugh when he said he was doing his best to avoid “stressful situations” as he continues his recovery from throat and neck cancer. As Karl knows all too well, the words “NBA coach” and “stressful situations” are inseparable. 

Since then, Karl has become the seventh member of the NBA’s exclusive 1,000-win club. Heading into the weekend, the Nuggets and Celtics are the only two teams in the NBA with fewer than two home losses (Denver is 11-1 at home). But as he and I predicted back in November when we spoke for this story on his heroic struggle against cancer, Karl is only one whistle, one practice, one meeting away from another one of those stressful situations. 



Watch this interview closely, and you’ll see the source of that stress -- Carmelo Anthony and the uncertainty surrounding his future -- shooting jumpers over Karl’s shoulder as we spoke at the Reebok Sports Club in Manhattan on Dec. 11. 

“There’s so much fluff, there’s so much gossip, there’s so much innuendo to the scenarios,” Karl said of the Melo situation. “I don’t like playing that game or being involved in that arena. The realness of, I think, what’s good for Melo, what’s good for the Nuggets, and what’s good for George Karl is that he stay in Denver. I’ve said that from the very beginning, I still stand by it. Fortunately, we’ve won enough games that I think we’ve kept most of the B.S. out of the game, off the court. As long as, I think, we keep winning, we’re gonna be OK. And I think we’re good enough to keep winning and we have pieces that will get better.” 

Some excerpts from the interview, which airs Friday in the latest edition of CBSSports.com’s “In the Moment” series: 

* On 1,000 wins: “For me, it’s a celebration of a good run -- a great run. I never thought I would get here. I never had it as a goal. My family’s kind of pushed me to get 1,000 wins; they thought that would be a marquee that would be pretty nice to have as a family credo a little bit. But in a sense for me, it’s a celebration of so many good people who have helped me.” 

* On why he’s stayed in the NBA instead of coaching in college: “I love this game. I’ve thought about going to college, but I’ve always felt that I was a pro coach. I don’t know if I have the patience for the fundamental teachings that have to be taught in college.” 

* On his next recovery milestone, a PET scan before Christmas that will determine if he’s cancer-free: “It’ll be a tough couple of days. In general, I feel very healthy. I feel like I’m getting better. I feel like I’m getting stronger. I had the flu like a week ago, and you worry about your immune system. My lymph nodes swelled up because of it, and my lymph nodes is where the cancer was. So you’ve got a lot of nervous stuff going on.” 

* On his prognosis: “It’s a good percentage. But it’s not as good as prostate. It’s not as good as some other cancers. So you always have a little more fear.” 

* On what word best sums up his life: “I still have time to become a better father and a better grandfather. But if I had to give that word today, it’d be coach. … I’m very proud to be a coach. The day I think I became a better coach is when I realized that’s who I was.”
Posted on: December 15, 2010 2:52 pm
 

As the Melo turns: fact vs. fiction

Carmelo Anthony is still a Nugget. He will still be a Nugget Thursday night, when Denver plays San Antonio.

How long will he be a Nugget? Long enough for Denver management to assess all its options and get the best possible deal for the three-time All-Star.

That could take a while. This has been going on since September, so what's the rush?

The breathless speculation over when and where Anthony will be traded took a bizarre turn in the past 14 hours or so, with a Denver television station reporting that the Nets and Nuggets had "come to an understanding" on a trade, then backtracking, then posting a story on its website Wednesday saying the Nets "have the pieces in place for a potential trade," with a note at the end of the story saying the station "stands by this story."

Really? Which one?

Here are the facts: The Nets have been putting the pieces in place to acquire Anthony for three months, and they took a major step toward sweetening their offer by acquiring two more first-round picks in a trade with the Rockets and Lakers, which was completed Wednesday. The Nets' efforts to land Anthony have always been -- and will always be -- contingent on Anthony agreeing to sign a three-year, $65 million extension as part of the deal.

"It hasn't gotten there," a person directly involved in the trade discussions told CBSSports.com Wednesday. "And I don't know when it's going to get there, if it's going to get there."

In other words: chill.

Another fact: The Nuggets continue to engage the Nets and other teams in trade discussions, because that is their job. And as CBSSports.com reported last week, the team has all but decided it will trade Anthony if he does not signal his intentions to sign an extension with them before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Anthony told CBSSports.com Saturday that he doesn't believe he needs to apprise the Nuggets of his decision on the extension before the deadline. Thus, the Nuggets are handling their business -- making and receiving trade calls -- and the Nets are continuing to amass as many assets as they can, some of which Denver specifically asked for in an Anthony trade.

Again, it comes back to whether Anthony will agree to an extension in a trade that sends him to New Jersey. A person directly involved in Anthony's decision-making process told CBSSports.com Sunday that he recently became entrenched in his belief that, if traded, he would only agree to an extension if sent to the Knicks. A rival team executive corroborated that information Tuesday, telling CBSSports.com that the Nets "got word that Melo will not sign there. They can't get it done."

The Nets, who now have five first-round picks in the next two drafts, continue to proceed on the information they've received from Anthony's camp -- that he would extend with them as part of a trade.

Those are the facts. They're messy and complicated and can't be explained in a breathless tweet followed by an exclamation point. As the Nuggets gathered for practice and scouting meetings Wednesday, a person involved in the process said players and management officials alike were "laughing" at speculation that a trade agreement had already been reached. 

"Sad," is how the official described the current state of affairs. 

And he used another word:

"Comedy".




Posted on: December 15, 2010 8:13 am
Edited on: December 15, 2010 8:17 am
 

Karl: World basketball league in 10 years

NBA news has been filled with doom and gloom lately. Lockout rhetoric, decertification votes, the league buying the struggling Hornets, superstars getting traded -- or not. 

Allow me to introduce you to a breath of fresh air and beam of sunlight in the otherwise depraved basketball news cycle: George Karl. 

The day after he became the seventh NBA coach to reach the 1,000-win plateau, the Nuggets’ coach sat down with me after practice in New York City to discuss a variety of topics: Carmelo Anthony’s future, his own cancer fight, and what he’d do if David Stern made him King of the NBA. 

The entire interview can be seen Friday in the latest installment of CBSSports.com’s “In the Moment” series. (Check out last week’s episode with Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews.) In this teaser clip, Karl talks about the growth of basketball internationally and what he’d do to capitalize on it if the commissioner put him in charge. 

Call it the George Karl Plan for World Basketball Unification. 

“International basketball and European basketball and Olympic basketball and NBA basketball, I’d like to unify it,” Karl said. “Does that mean merging a league? I think if that’s a 10-year plan, let’s have a 10-year plan. If that’s a five-year plan, let’s have a five-year plan. I would probably like to make it totally and completely international. Now is that a possibility of adding China and India to that and Australia maybe? I have no idea.” 

Stern has spoken often of globalizing the game, a dream that was advanced immeasurably by the success of the original Dream Team and enhanced by the Redeem Team’s gold-medal performance in Beijing in 2008. In October, Stern reiterated his prediction that the NBA will have a European division within 10 years. Speaking to Miami business leaders, Stern took the opportunity to poke fun at himself; he made the same prediction, oh, about 10 years ago. 

The quest for globalization comes at a delicate time for the NBA, which claims it has lost nearly $400 million in each of the past two seasons and is seeking radical reductions in player salaries and benefits to the tune of $750 million to $800 million a year. Finances are grim in many cities, especially small markets like New Orleans, where it was so bad the league had to step in and buy the team. Key figures on both sides of the labor debate are entrenched for an anticipated work stoppage after this season. When confronted with the fact that the league enjoyed record revenues last season and expects to do the same again this season, Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver counter that revenues aren’t the problem -- expenses are. 

Well, guess how expensive it is to have NBA offices throughout Asia, Europe and Latin America, with plans for offices in Africa and India by 2012? Guess how expensive it is for NBA teams to schlep to Mexico City, Milan and Beijing for meaningless preseason games? Very, very expensive. But as Stern and Silver will gladly tell you, it is necessary to spend money to make money. There is a fine line between keeping the electricity flowing at the league’s Fifth Avenue office tower and investing around the globe to grow the game and capitalize on its international appeal. The NFL is still the king of American sports, but it’s merely a curiosity internationally. When the NBA goes to Latin America or Asia, everyone speaks the same language -- basketball. 

A European division? Lofty goal. A World Basketball League, as Karl proposes? That’s dreaming big. Really big. Even Karl admits he doesn’t have all the answers. 

“Well, I don’t know how you do that,” Karl said. “But that would be someone I would hire to try to figure out what the best plan is, because I think the game is great and it’s been an amazing game. Soccer is still No. 1 in the world, but I still think basketball is growing and progressing. And I actually think the more we make it international, the better it will be.” 

Viewed through the prism of the sport’s current labor stalemate, maybe this can be part of the answer of a long-term financial plan for the NBA. If nothing else, there would be more jobs.
Posted on: December 15, 2010 8:11 am
 

Karl: World basketball league in 10 years

NBA news has been filled with doom and gloom lately. Lockout rhetoric, decertification votes, the league buying the struggling Hornets, superstars getting traded -- or not. 
Allow me to introduce you to a breath of fresh air and beam of sunlight in the otherwise depraved basketball news cycle: George Karl. 
The day after he became the seventh NBA coach to reach the 1,000-win plateau, the Nuggets’ coach sat down with me after practice in New York City to discuss a variety of topics: Carmelo Anthony’s future, his own cancer fight, and what he’d do if David Stern made him King of the NBA. 
The entire interview can be seen Friday in the latest installment of CBSSports.com’s “In the Moment” series. (Check out last week’s episode with Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews.) In this teaser clip, Karl talks about the growth of basketball internationally and what he’d do to capitalize on it if the commissioner put him in charge. 
Call it the George Karl Plan for World Basketball Unification. 
“International basketball and European basketball and Olympic basketball and NBA basketball, I’d like to unify it,” Karl said. “Does that mean merging a league? I think if that’s a 10-year plan, let’s have a 10-year plan. If that’s a five-year plan, let’s have a five-year plan. I would probably like to make it totally and completely international. Now is that a possibility of adding China and India to that and Australia maybe? I have no idea.” 


Stern has spoken often of globalizing the game, a dream that was advanced immeasurably by the success of the original Dream Team and enhanced by the Redeem Team’s gold-medal performance in Beijing in 2008. In October, Stern reiterated his prediction that the NBA will have a European division within 10 years. Speaking to Miami business leaders, Stern took the opportunity to poke fun at himself; he made the same prediction, oh, about 10 years ago. 
The quest for globalization comes at a delicate time for the NBA, which claims it has lost nearly $400 million in each of the past two seasons and is seeking radical reductions in player salaries and benefits to the tune of $750 million to $800 million a year. Finances are grim in many cities, especially small markets like New Orleans, where it was so bad the league had to step in and buy the team. Key figures on both sides of the labor debate are entrenched for an anticipated work stoppage after this season. When confronted with the fact that the league enjoyed record revenues last season and expects to do the same again this season, Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver counter that revenues aren’t the problem -- expenses are. 
Well, guess how expensive it is to have NBA offices throughout Asia, Europe and Latin America, with plans for offices in Africa and India by 2012? Guess how expensive it is for NBA teams to schlep to Mexico City, Milan and Beijing for meaningless preseason games? Very, very expensive. But as Stern and Silver will gladly tell you, it is necessary to spend money to make money. There is a fine line between keeping the electricity flowing at the league’s Fifth Avenue office tower and investing around the globe to grow the game and capitalize on its international appeal. The NFL is still the king of American sports, but it’s merely a curiosity internationally. When the NBA goes to Latin America or Asia, everyone speaks the same language -- basketball. 
A European division? Lofty goal. A World Basketball League, as Karl proposes? That’s dreaming big. Really big. Even Karl admits he doesn’t have all the answers. 
“Well, I don’t know how you do that,” Karl said. “But that would be someone I would hire to try to figure out what the best plan is, because I think the game is great and it’s been an amazing game. Soccer is still No. 1 in the world, but I still think basketball is growing and progressing. And I actually think the more we make it international, the better it will be.” 
Viewed through the prism of the sport’s current labor stalemate, maybe this can be part of the answer of a long-term financial plan for the NBA. If nothing else, there would be more jobs.
Posted on: December 14, 2010 6:34 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 2:59 pm
 

Nets acquire multiple picks for Melo deal

The Nets have put into motion a plan to acquire several assets that the Nuggets have asked for in a potential blockbuster trade for Carmelo Anthony, two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com.

The first step, agreed to in principle Tuesday, is a three-team trade in which the Nets get a first-round pick from the Rockets and another one from the Lakers. New Jersey sends Terrence Williams to the Rockets and Joe Smith to the Lakers, who send Sasha Vujacic to the Nets, the people familiar with the framework of the deal said.

The deal, first reported by Yahoo! Sports, can't be finalized until Wednesday because Smith signed as a free agent this past summer and isn't trade-eligible until then.

The Nets now have their own first-round picks in the next two drafts -- one of which could be traded to Denver -- plus Golden State's 2012 first-rounder, Houston's lottery-protected 2012 first-round pick and a 2011 first-rounder from the Lakers. The plan is to include all of the above in a blockbuster proposal to Denver for Anthony, one of the people familiar with the deal said.

UPDATE: The trade was completed Wednesday, with the Lakers also receiving two second-round picks from the Nets (Golden State's in 2011 and Chicago's in 2012) along with the draft rights to Sergei Lishchuk from Houston. To clear a roster spot for Williams, the Rockets traded Jermaine Taylor and cash to Sacramento for a future second-round pick.

The Nets' new assets, combined with 2010 No. 3 pick Derrick Favors and power forward Troy Murphy, would put New Jersey in the driver's seat in the Melo sweepstakes. And the Nets, according to a high-ranking person familiar with their plan, are working other angles to accomplish the following: get another young player Denver covets and/or add an established player whose presence on the Nets would make the prospect of signing an extension with New Jersey more attractive to the three-time All-Star.

But satisfying Denver has always been only half the battle. Agreeing to an extend-and-trade to New Jersey has not been Anthony's top priority, but the Nets have been the most aggressive team in pursuit of the prolific scorer, whose talent and marketability would represent the biggest coup yet by Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov. The Nets are moving to Brooklyn -- Anthony's birthplace -- in time for the 2012-13 season.

According to a person with direct knowledge of Anthony's strategy, he recently became entrenched in his desire to agree to an extend-and-trade only if the deal sent him to the Knicks. The person who provided this information could not have been more unequivocal -- and could not have been closer to Anthony's inner circle. 

On Tuesday, a rival executive familiar with the Nets' months-long efforts to land Melo corroborated Anthony's Knicks-only stance, telling CBSSports.com of New Jersey, "They got word that Melo will not sign there. They can't get it done."

Contrary to another report, Anthony himself at no point informed the Nuggets or Nets of his stance. So the Nets, who according to sources have received repeated assurances from Anthony's camp that he would extend his contract in a trade to New Jersey, continued with their aggressive strategy to sweeten the assets they could offer the Nuggets. Even as word of Anthony's Knicks-only strategy leaked out Sunday after he made his only scheduled appearance of the season at Madison Square Garden, the Nets were working on the framework of the Houston-L.A. deal that came together Tuesday. A person familiar with the situation said acquiring additional first-round picks was something the Nuggets specifically asked for in an Anthony trade. 

Like the crosstown rival Knicks, the Nets struck out in their efforts to lure free agents LeBron James and Dwyane Wade this past summer. But if this haul of first-rounders puts the Nets over the top in their pursuit of Anthony, it would be another dagger for the Knicks. It is believed that Houston's 2012 lottery-protected pick going to New Jersey is the pick the Rockets acquired from New York in the Tracy McGrady deal last February -- the trade that cleared the final bit of cap space the Knicks needed to have any chance of getting LeBron.

The deal also works for the Lakers, who were willing to give up a first-round pick -- likely, of course, to be near the bottom -- in exchange for dumping Vujacic's $5.5 million for Smith's $1.4 million -- of which the Lakers only have to pay a prorated portion of $854,389 because it is a one-year deal for a player with more than two years experience.

What happens next could be portrayed in a commercial with Melo sitting in a director's chair and asking the question LeBron asked: "What should I do?" However this works out for New Jersey, the team's brain trust of GM Billy King and assistant GM Bobby Marks deserve kudos for ignoring the chatter and ever-changing whims of a potential NBA free agent and sticking with their plan. From the outside looking in, it always appeared to rival execs and other observers that the Nets' toughest sales job would be with Anthony. From the beginning, the Nets' brass always believed that would be the easy part -- and that the biggest challenge in landing Melo would be putting together a deal that satisfied all of Denver's desires.

On Tuesday, the Newark-Brooklyn Nets took a giant step closer to finding out.





Posted on: December 14, 2010 2:35 pm
 

Dec. 15 trade-eligible shopping list

The next milestone in the NBA season hits Wednesday when dozens of players signed as free agents over the summer become trade-eligible. ‘Tis the season for re-gifting. 

Don’t like the aging veteran you overpaid in your giddiness as GM of an undefeated juggernaut shopping for free agents? Dump him on some unsuspecing colleague who may be able to to make better use of his meager talents. Having a reality check about how good your team was going to be? Shed the contract you thought you were wise to execute back in July and start getting ready for another draft lottery. 

Under the collective bargaining agreement, players who sign as free agents cannot be traded for three months or until Dec. 15, whichever is later. So theoretically, any free agent signed prior to Sept. 15 can be shipped to a new destination beginning Wednesday. 

It’s not useful to look at this year’s crop of trade-eligible free agents as a free-for-all, because there are plenty of names on the list who will be traded about as soon as pigs sprout wings. (Forget the LeBron-to-New York trade rumors. I think he’s staying put.) Similarly, the Lakers aren’t trading Derek Fisher, the Celtics aren’t trading Shaquille O’Neal, and the Knicks seem mildly happy with MVP candidate Amar’s Stoudemire so far. 

What the Dec. 15 milestone does is expand the pool of assets and contracts available to GMs to make trades work under league guidelines that require salaries to be no more than 125 percent plus $100,000 when over-the-cap teams make deals. Sometimes, one more asset or another $2 million in tradeable contracts makes all the difference in completing a larger deal. 

Something else to keep in mind: Unless it’s a key player who’d fill a crucial need for a contender, executives say teams will be much less likely to take on multi-year contracts this year due to the expected work stoppage. Buyer’s remorse for Brendan Haywood, for example, isn’t going to be easy to assuage because he’s due $45 million over the next five years – when nobody can accurately predict where such a contract will fit into the new salary structure. But players on shorter deals with less than full guarantees could be moved if it helps complete a bigger deal – such as a Carmelo Anthony trade. 

So with that in mind -- and with the assumption that the Heat aren’t’ trading LeBron, the Hawks aren’t trading Joe Johnson, and the Celtics aren’t trading Paul Pierce or Ray Allen -- here are a few of the more interesting names who become trade-eligible Wednesday, based on the likelihood that they could be involved in a trade sometime before the Feb. 24 deadline: 

* Luke Ridnour, Timberwolves: At $12 million over the next three years, Ridnour won’t break the bank and his play-making abilities could be appealing to a team looking for point-guard depth. The Knicks, underwhelmed by Toney Douglas as Raymond Felton’s backup, are interested. 

* Tony Allen, Grizzlies: Allen’s strengths off the bench are wasted on a team like Memphis, which has plenty of other tradeable assets. If the Grizzlies decide to part with O.J. Mayo, for instance, Allen’s contract could help facilitate the deal. 

* Quentin Richardson, Magic: Nobody gets traded as much as Q-Rich, so he has to be on this list. If Orlando decides to pull the trigger on a significant deal -- say, for Andre Miller or Gilbert Arenas -- Richardson could be a throw-in. Complicating matters is the fact that his contract contains a 15 percent trade kicker, but that’s manageble since he’s only due $8 million over the next three years. 

* Anthony Carter and Shelden Williams, Nuggets: Denver is virtually assured of making a big deal for You-Know-Who, in my opinion, and these could be throw-in pieces. I’d include Al Harrington, but A) they’ll need someone to shoot a lot after they trade Melo; and B) nobody will want Big Al for five years at the full mid-level when we’re entering what could be the no-mid-level world of a new CBA. (Even though the last two years are only half-guaranteed.) 

* Anthony Tolliver, Timberwolves: Minnesota already has been fielding a lot of calls because they have draft picks, cap space, and young assets. Though injured at the moment, Tolliver is big and cheap and could be part of a bigger deal. 

* Josh Howard, Wizards: On a one-year deal, Howard has the right to veto any trade. But if he gets back on the court and proves he’s healthy before the deadline, his expiring $3 million contract could be used to sweeten a potential Arenas deal. 

* Chris Duhon and Jason Williams, Magic: Stan Van Gundy can’t decide which one is his backup point guard, and you know what they say: When you have two backup point guards, what you really have is none. 

* Jordan Farmar and Anthony Morrow, Nets: New Jersey is highly likely to make multiple trades between now and the deadline, and team officials continue to believe one of them will be for Anthony. With efforts under way to acquire additional assets Denver has requested, dangling either one or both of these names could help accomplish that. Reluctantly, I’ll include Travis Outlaw here, as well. While his five-year, $35 million deal will scare some teams, his salary is flat throughout with no increases -- a friendly feature as we enter the great CBA unknown. 

* Tyrus Thomas and Kwame Brown, Bobcats: When Larry Brown says his team has begun tuning him out, it’s time to start the stopwatch on LB blowing up the roster with trades. When Brown goes into teardown mode, no one is safe -- not even Thomas, who just signed a five-year, $40 million contract. Good luck peddling that deal amid labor uncertainty, but that doesn’t mean Brown won’t try. 

* Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Rasual Butler and Craig Smith, Clippers: The Clips are ravaged by injuries, underperforming, and owner Donald Sterling is heckling his own players. Who knows what the Clips will do? I do know they have one of the most sought-after first-round picks in the league -- Minnesota’s 2011 pick, which is unprotected in ‘12 -- and will be getting a lot of calls. Butler and Smith can veto any trade since their both on one-year deals. But why would they? 

* Hakim Warrick and Channing Frye, Suns: If Phoenix rapidly falls out of contention, keep an eye on Suns owner Robert Sarver, who is pushing as hard as any owner for a lockout. Warrick’s deal actually is fairly reasonable, with $4.25 million due each of the next two seasons and a team option for the same amount after that. Frye, however, is owed a poisonous $24.8 million over the next for years.
Posted on: December 13, 2010 4:10 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2010 5:37 pm
 

No suspension for Stoudemire (UPDATE)

NEW YORK -- The NBA has decided not to suspend Knicks star Amar'e Stoudemire for either of his dust-ups with Nene during Sunday's game against the Nuggets, a person with knowledge of the league's disciplinary review told CBSSports.com Monday.

The league reviewed two incidents in which Stoudemire and Nene were battling around the basket and determined that neither one warranted a suspension. In one incident, Stoudemire -- expressing frustration with Nene's frequent elbow swinging -- bodied up the Denver big man as he spun to the baseline and appeared to be trying to push Nene out of bounds. 

In an earlier incident during the first quarter, Nene cleared out with his elbow on a drive to the basket and Stoudemire reacted angrily by viciously swinging his elbow -- either in retaliation or to show the officials what Nene did. The elbow did not make contact with Nene, but Stoudemire was assessed a technical foul for the outburst.

The league's disciplinary review was not yet completed, but a source indicated that neither incident would be upgraded to a flagrant foul. A suspension would have kept Stoudemire out of the Knicks' game Wednesday night at home against the defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics. The Knicks carry their first eight-game winning streak in 16 years into the game, which is part of a three-game stretch against elite competition that concludes Friday night against the Heat -- a game that will feature LeBron James' first appearance at Madison Square Garden since rejecting the Knicks' efforts to sign him as a free agent.


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