Tag:Wizards
Posted on: January 6, 2010 3:59 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2010 11:45 pm
 

Arenas suspended indefinitely; 'not fit' for NBA

Citing the serious nature of firearms in the locker room and his "ongoing conduct," NBA Commissioner David Stern suspended Gilbert Arenas indefinitely without pay Wednesday pending a league investigation.

“Although it is clear that the actions of Mr. Arenas will ultimately result in a substantial suspension, and perhaps worse, his ongoing conduct has led me to conclude that he is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game," Stern said in a statement. "Accordingly, I am suspending Mr. Arenas indefinitely, without pay, effective immediately pending the completion of the investigation by the NBA.”

The swift and potentially severe punishment came less than 24 hours after Arenas mocked the criminal and NBA investigation of his possession of firearms in the Wizards' locker room on Dec. 21 by spraying his teammates with fake gunfire in the pre-game huddle in Philadelphia Tuesday night. That brazen act, and Arenas' latest comments after the game that he didn't do anything wrong by bringing guns to work, prompted Stern to act.

"I initially thought it prudent to refrain from taking immediate action because of the pendency of a criminal investigation," said Stern, who was said to have been livid with Arenas' disregard for the matter and for the damage it has done to the league's image

As in the aftermath of the brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004, the length of the suspension will be determined by Stern once all the facts are known and the NBA Players Association has a chance to contest the penalty. But multiple sources told CBSSports.com Wednesday that even Arenas' supporters were stunned by his recent conduct and were bracing for a suspension ranging from 10 games to the rest of the season. The indefinite length of the Palace suspensions was a logistical necessity because one of the teams involved, the Pacers, had a game the next night.

Under the NBA Constitution, Stern has the latitude to fine Arenas as much as $50,000 and suspend him for any length of time or indefinitely. With his pregame antics, captured in photos that began circulating online Tuesday night, Arenas also may have jeopardized a vigorous protest from the players' association, sources said. When a smiling Arenas sprayed imaginary gunfire from his fingers as his teammates egged him on, the three-time All-Star created a snapshot of levity and utter disdain amid another serious and debilitating blow to the NBA’s public image.

Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA Players Association, declined to comment beyond a statement released by his office that the players' association "will continue to monitor the investigation being conducted by law enforcement authorities and the Commissioner's office."

Any player fined more than $50,000 or suspended for more than 12 games for on-court conduct has the right to have his appeal heard by an independent arbitrator. Behavior in the locker room is included in the CBA's definition of the playing court.

Arenas issued a statement Wednesday through his attorney, Ken Wainstein, apologizing for his behavior and saying that he had called Stern in an attempt to apologize.

“I feel very badly that my actions have caused the NBA to suspend me, but I understand why the league took this action," Arenas said. "I put the NBA in a negative light and let down my teammates and our fans. I am very sorry for doing that."

Stern had been following his usual practice of waiting for the criminal probe to conclude before taking action, an approach that also would've given Arenas to opportunity to fulfill his obligation to cooperate with the league investigation. But the scene in Philadelphia Tuesday night, coupled with Arenas' continuous comments mocking the situation, forced Stern's hand.

There is no dispute that a suspension of some length is warranted, considering Arenas has admitted to violating Article VI, Section 9 of the collective bargaining agreement, which forbids players from possessing firearms on league property or during the course of league business. Arenas also told authorities and stated publicly that he removed four firearms from a locked container on Dec. 21 during a dispute with teammate Javaris Crittenton. The Wizards first admitted the presence of Arenas' firearms at Verizon Center on Dec. 24, hours after CBSSports.com first reported that the three-time All-Star was under investigation.

Sources familiar with the incident told CBSSports.com that Arenas and Crittenton had a disagreement over a card game on the team's flight from Phoenix to Washington on Dec. 19. Before a practice on Dec. 21, the sources said, Arenas placed the firearms on Crittenton's locker chair and indicated that he should "pick one." Crittenton became angry and knocked the weapons to the ground.

One theory circulating Wednesday among league officials gathered at the D-League Showcase in Boise, Idaho, is that Arenas intended for Crittenton to pick one of the firearms as repayment for the card-game debt. But if true, that would not diminish Arenas' guilt in the eyes of the league or prosecutors in Washington, D.C., where registered firearms are not permitted anywhere but in the home.

For their part, the Wizards issued a strong statement endorsing Stern's decision and invoking the name of late owner Abe Pollin, who had the team's name changed from Bullets to Wizards to avoid associating the franchise with gun violence.

“We fully endorse the decision of the NBA to indefinitely suspend Gilbert Arenas," the Wizards said. "Strictly legal issues aside, Gilbert’s recent behavior and statements, including his actions and statements last night in Philadelphia, are unacceptable. Some of our other players appeared to find Gilbert’s behavior in Philadelphia amusing. This is also unacceptable. Under Abe Pollin’s leadership, our organization never tolerated such behavior, and we have no intention of ever doing so.”

The Wizards’ options for terminating Arenas’ contract, which has four years and $80.1 million remaining after this season, would be an “uphill battle,” according to an attorney familiar with termination provisions in the CBA. An exception to the “one penalty rule,” which states that players cannot be punished by the league and their team for the same offense, only applies “if the egregious nature of the act or conduct is so lacking in justification as to warrant such double penalty,” according to the CBA. An example of such conduct would be a violent attack against a team official other than a player, a clause that was added after Latrell Sprewell choked then-Golden State head coach P.J. Carlesimo in 1997.
Posted on: January 6, 2010 2:37 pm
 

Arenas' conduct could accelerate Stern's wrath

The legal process could take some time to play out, but time is almost up for Gilbert Arenas when it comes to another authority: NBA Commissioner David Stern.

With the stunning lack of judgment Arenas displayed Tuesday night, when he sprayed rollicking teammates with imaginary gunfire during the pregame huddle in Philadelphia, Arenas may have squandered any hope for leniency and accelerated disciplinary action from the league, multiple sources told CBSSports.com.

Stern, who had planned to wait until the legal process played out with regard to Arenas’ admitted possession of firearms in the Wizards’ locker room on Dec. 21, is now poised to take action – possibly as soon as this week, one of the sources said.

Under the NBA Constitution, Stern has the latitude to fine Arenas as much as $50,000 and suspend him for any length of time or indefinitely. Even Arenas’ supporters are bracing for a suspension ranging from 10 games – the automatic ban associated with a felony conviction – to as long as the rest of the 2009-10 season, an attorney familiar with the case said Wednesday.

With his pregame antics, captured in photos that began circulating online Tuesday night, Arenas also may have jeopardized a vigorous protest from the NBA Players Association, which also is stunned by Arenas’ conduct, sources said. When a smiling Arenas sprayed imaginary gunfire from his fingers as his teammates egged him on, the three-time All-Star created a snapshot of levity and utter disdain amid another serious and debilitating blow to the NBA’s public image. Even those charged with defending Arenas against Stern’s punishment are finding it increasingly difficult to defend his conduct, said one attorney familiar with the case.

Faced with what is believed to be the first instance in NBA history of a player bringing firearms to the workplace, Stern is said to be finding it difficult to delay disciplinary action until Arenas’ legal case is resolved. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that prosecutors have begun presenting evidence to a grand jury, an indication that Arenas could face a felony charge of carrying a pistol without a license. Two Washington law enforcement officials told CBSSports.com that a grand jury indictment would be required for the felony charge, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Misdemeanor charges – such as possession of an unregistered firearm – would not require a grand jury to convene.

In exchange for a guilty plea and Arenas’ cooperation with authorities, prosecutors may agree to request no jail time, one of the law enforcement officials said. But sentencing would be up to a judge, who could consider Arenas’ past record. In 2003 while with the Warriors, Arenas pleaded no contest to failing to maintain proper registration of a firearm in California.

As far as the NBA is concerned, it may already have all the information it needs to punish Arenas for violating Article VI, Section 9 of the collective bargaining agreement, which forbids players from possessing firearms on league property or during the course of league business. Arenas already has admitted publicly and to D.C. police detectives and prosecutors that he brought four firearms to the Wizards locker room and took them out of a locked container on Dec. 21.

One potential obstacle that has kept Stern from suspending and/or fining Arenas by now is his desire to follow due process and give Arenas the opportunity to explain his actions to NBA lawyers and security officials. The requirement for such cooperation on a player’s part typically is delayed if the player is in criminal jeopardy for the same offense.

The Wizards’ options for terminating Arenas’ contract, which has three years and $68 million remaining after this season, would be an “uphill battle,” according to an attorney familiar with termination provisions in the CBA. An exception to the “one penalty rule,” which states that players cannot be punished by the league and their team for the same offense, only applies “if the egregious nature of the act or conduct is so lacking in justification as to warrant such double penalty,” according to the CBA. An example of such conduct would be a violent attack against a team official other than a player, a clause that was added after Latrell Sprewell choked then-Golden State head coach P.J. Carlesimo in 1997.
Category: NBA
Posted on: January 1, 2010 1:11 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2010 11:13 pm
 

NBA to probe if guns involved in Arenas dispute

UPDATED THROUGHOUT

The NBA and its players' union will investigate whether a firearms possession probe of Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas stemmed from a dispute with teammate Javaris Crittenton, two sources told CBSSports.com Friday.

Once a criminal probe is completed, an investigation by league security will expand after the New York Post and Yahoo! Sports reported Friday that Arenas' possession of firearms in the Verizon Center locker room in the days before Christmas Eve was related to an argument with Crittenton, a high-level source with knowledge of the probe said. The Post reported that the players pulled guns on each other during the argument on a practice day, while Yahoo! reported that the focus of the probe was whether Arenas had accessed his firearms during the argument. 

Details of the confrontation varied widely in subsequent reports Friday. NBA.com reported that the dispute between the players stemmed from a $25,000 debt that Arenas owed Crittenton. The Washington Post, however, quoted someone who has spoken recently with Arenas about the incident who characterized it as "horseplay." The confrontation was over "who had the bigger gun," that person said. Both outlets reported that the disagreement began on the team flight from Phoenix on Dec. 19 and spilled over to a practice day at Verizon Center on Dec. 21.

Arenas denied pulling a gun on anybody, telling Washington Post reporter Michael Lee after practice Friday that he was thinking about suing the New York Post. But when asked by a TV reporter if he had a confrontation with Crittenton, Arenas said, "I don't know." In conversations with various reporters -- and on his Twitter page, which roared to life Friday after weeks of inactivity -- Arenas essentially mocked the controversy. He called the gun-play story "very compelling" and "intriguing," referring to it as "O.K. Corral stuff" and promising that the real story would come out soon. "That's not the real story," he said.

Arenas' father, Gilbert Arenas Sr., told Lee the report was "ludicrous. Gil didn't pull a gun on anybody."

But regardless of the precise details, the only thing that must have seemed ludicrous to Wizards officials was Arenas' nonchalant and borderline irresponsible reaction. Brandishing firearms, even as a joke, could carry serious penalties in the District Columbia, which has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation.

Aside from the criminal ramifications or who's at fault, Arenas has plunged his struggling team into a maelstrom from which it will have difficulty recovering. The Wizards, one of the biggest disappointments in the NBA, are 10-20 with an already fragile locker room that is in no condition to absorb this kind of scrutiny. In fact, one player who spoke to the Washington Post Friday was unnerved by the mere presence of firearms in the locker room, which he said is supposed to be "sacred." David Aldridge, writing for NBA.com, raised the possibility -- albeit remote -- that the incident could give the Wizards cause to attempt to void the rest of the $111 million, six-year contract that Arenas signed in July 2008. The deal has three years and $68 million left after this season. 
 
NBA authorities became aware of the matter in the days before CBSSports.com first reported on Dec. 24 that Arenas was under investigation for possessing firearms in the locker room. The probe initially focused on Arenas as the only team member to have possessed guns on team property, a clear violation of NBA rules.

Wizards officials scheduled a meeting with Washington, D.C., authorities for Dec. 23 to come clean about the matter, given the District's stringent gun-control laws. The meeting couldn't be arranged that day, so the team rescheduled for Dec. 24, several hours before CBSSports.com's story was published online, one of the sources said.

After that report, the Wizards issued a statement saying that Arenas had stored unloaded firearms in a locked container in his locker at Verizon Center, and that the team was cooperating with NBA and legal authorities. Arenas told the Washington Times that he'd brought the guns to the locker room after deciding he no longer wanted them in his home after the birth of his daughter on Dec. 10. He told reporters this week that he'd removed them from his locker only to have them turned over to authorities because he didn't want them anymore.

Washington, D.C., police issued a statement Wednesday saying they were investigating the presence of firearms at Verizon Center, without providing further details. Arenas said this week that authorities inquiring about the matter were mainly interested in whether he had obtained the guns legally. Arenas, 27, has a history of flirting with firearms laws; he was suspended for the 2004-05 season opener after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of failing to maintain proper registration of a firearm in California while with the Warriors in 2003.

Ben Friedman, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C., told the New York Post that his office was working with D.C. police on the investigation. A call to the public information office of the Metropolitan Police Department was not returned Friday. But a D.C. police official told the Washington Post on condition of anonymity that reports of firearms being brandished in a dispute were news to the authorities and were being added to the criminal investigation. 

Commissioner David Stern, who has not commented publicly on the Arenas investigation, has a history of waiting for the legal process to run its course before issuing penalties -- for fear of compromising investigations by law enforcement. NBA spokesman Tim Frank said Friday that the league is not planning take any disciplinary action until the criminal investigation is completed.

"There is an active investigation by D.C. law enforcement authorities, which we are monitoring closely," Frank said in an emailed statement. "We are not taking any independent action at this time."

A full-fledged probe and penalties from the league office would have to wait until the criminal investigation is closed, since players would be unlikely to speak with league attorneys for fear that those records would be subpoenaed by law enforcement.

In addition to the NBA investigation, which could result in fines and/or suspensions, the NBA Players Association expects to initiate its own probe to ensure that "the facts are investigated and weighed," a second person with knowledge of the situation said Friday. Once it is determined that interviews with the players involved are necessary, the matter would be turned over to NBPA general counsel Gary Hall, a retired federal prosecutor, and director of security Robert Gadson, a retired New York City police detective, the source said.

Billy Hunter, the NBPA's executive director, said he was aware of the reports and was in the process of gathering facts. Wizards spokesman Scott Hall issued a statement reiterating that the team is cooperating with law enforcement and the NBA and will have no further comment.

Wallace Prather, listed in the NBPA directory as Crittenton's agent, said Friday he resigned from representing the player on Dec. 10 and had no knowledge of the allegations against his former client. Crittenton's current agent, Mark Bartelstein, declined to comment. Arenas, who signed a six-year, $111 million contract with the Wizards in July 2008, has no agent listed in the NBPA directory.

NBA rules collectively bargained with the players forbid the possession of firearms on league property or in the course of league business. In 2006, Sebastian Telfair was fined an undisclosed amount after a loaded handgun registered to his girlfriend was found on the team plane at Logan Airport in Boston when Telfair played for the Trail Blazers. Cavaliers guard Delonte West has been indicted on multiple weapons counts in Maryland for riding on his motorcycle Sept. 17 with two loaded handguns, a shotgun, 112 shotgun shells, and an 8.5-inch knife.

If guns are found to have been wielded during a dispute between Arenas and Crittenton, it would be reminiscent of an incident in 2002 during which Warriors player Chris Mills allegedly pulled a gun on the Trail Blazers' team bus after an argument with Bonzi Wells. That incident led to the adoption of the league's zero-tolerance policy regarding guns on team property.

However this turns out, it's time to start wondering when the Wizards' will adopt a zero-tolerance policy for Agent Zero.

Posted on: December 24, 2009 3:49 pm
Edited on: December 24, 2009 10:49 pm
 

Wizards' Arenas target of gun possession probe


The NBA and Washington Wizards are investigating Gilbert Arenas for storing firearms in his locker, which would be a violation of the league's gun policy.

After CBSSports.com first reported the incident Thursday, the Wizards released a statement saying that Arenas stored unloaded firearms in a locked container in his locker. The guns were not accompanied by ammunition, the team said. But under league guidelines collectively bargained between the players and owners, players are not permitted to carry firearms on league property or during league business. Arenas, who was previously suspended one game in 2004-05 for violating the NBA's weapons policy, could face league discipline regardless of whether the guns in his locker were loaded. NBA policy does not differentiate between loaded and unloaded guns, according to a person familiar with the guidelines.

“The Wizards organization and Arenas promptly notified the local authorities and the NBA, [and] are cooperating fully with law enforcement during its review of this matter," the team said in its statement.

A person familiar with the probe said the investigation "will be concluded shortly," and that no criminal charges have been filed. The NBA's collective bargaining agreement permits players to legally possess firearms only when they are not on league property or conducting league business.

"We're aware of the situation and are working to gain a full understanding of the facts and relevant legal issues," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.

Arenas told the Washington Times that the incident occurred around December 10, when he moved the weapons from his home to his lock box at Verizon Center after his daughter was born.

"I decided I didn't want the guns in my house and around the kids anymore, so I took them to my lock box at Verizon Center," Arenas told the newspaper. "Then like a week later, I turned them over to team security and told them to hand them over to the police, because I don't want them anymore. I wouldn't have brought them to D.C. had I known the rules. After my daughter was born, I was just like, 'I don't need these anymore.'”

In 2006, Sebastian Telfair was fined an undisclosed amount after a loaded handgun registered to his girlfriend was found on the team plane at Logan Airport in Boston when Telfair played for the Trail Blazers. Cavaliers guard Delonte West has been indicted on multiple weapons counts in Maryland for riding on his motorcycle Sept. 17 with two loaded handguns, a shotgun, 112 shotgun shells, and an 8.5-inch knife.
 
Arenas was suspended for the 2004-05 season opener after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of failing to maintain proper registration for a firearm in California while with the Warriors in 2003. The fact that he is a repeat offender could affect the severity of his punishment.

The issue of gun possession is a controversial topic in D.C., where a zero-tolerance ban on firearms possession – even with a license – was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 as a violation of the Second Amendment.

“Anything that involves a firearm in the District of Columbia is a serious issue,” said the person familiar with the Arenas investigation.

Officer Quintin Peterson, spokesman for the Washington, D.C., police department, told the Associated Press he was not aware of an active investigation regarding Arenas.

Gun possession has become a serious concern for NBA commissioner David Stern, who before the 2006 season urged players to keep their guns at home.

“It’s a pretty, I think, widely accepted statistic that if you carry a gun, your chances of being shot by one increase dramatically,” Stern said at the time. “We think this is an alarming subject, that although you’ll read players saying how they feel safer with guns, in fact those guns actually make them less safe. And it’s a real issue.”

The issue of athletes and guns rose to a new level of concern when New York Giants received Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg with an illegal handgun he carried into a crowded nightclub in 2008. Burress lost most of his $35 million contract and is serving a two-year prison sentence.

Arenas, in the second year of a six-year, $111 million contract, has been trying to regain his All-Star form after a series of knee injuries limited him to 15 games over the past two seasons. The Wizards (10-17), expected to be one of the top contenders in the East, are off to one of the most disappointing starts in the league.
Posted on: November 11, 2009 3:47 pm
 

Injured Wizards set to add Boykins

Wracked by injuries and staggering to a 2-6 start, the Wizards are turning to 5-5 dynamo Earl Boykins for backcourt help. The journeyman point guard, now 33, will sign a non-guaranteed deal with Washington, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Boykins hasn't played in the NBA since a stint with Charlotte in 2007-08. He spent last season with Vitrus Bologna, averaging 14.6 points, 3.6 assists, and 1.7 steals, logging 31 minutes per game in 35 games in Italy's top division.

The Wizards, already without Mike James (hand) and Javaris Crittenton (foot), lost Randy Foye to an ankle injury suffered in Tuesday night's loss to Miami. Antawn Jamison and Mike Miller, both out with shoulder injuries, could return Saturday against the Pistons.

Boykins, who will join his ninth NBA team, is the second-shortest player in NBA history after 5-3 Muggsy Bogues.

 
Posted on: November 8, 2009 5:31 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2009 6:21 pm
 

Arenas, Flip not on the same page

WASHINGTON – It’s bad enough that the Wizards have lost four straight games, dropping to 2-5 at the start of a season that began with such high expectations. When your coach and best player can’t even agree on what’s wrong, that’s a sure sign of more losses to come.

Yes, it’s early, and the Wizards are without two key players, Antawn Jamison and Mike Miller. And yes, Sunday’s 102-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns came in a game that tipped off at 1 p.m. ET, an anomaly that elicited a smile and guffaw from the suddenly talkative Gilbert Arenas after the game. One thing you don’t want to do in the NBA is roll out of bed and start chasing Steve Nash and the Suns around.

The Wizards are too talented to be scuffling like this for long, and when they get healthy, they’ll be right about where people expected them to be – a team in the mid-40s in wins seeded somewhere in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference playoffs. But not if they don’t erase some bad habits that simply have no place in an offense constructed by Flip Saunders. And not until everyone understands what the problem is.

The good news is that defensively, the Wizards are no longer a pushover. I wasn’t as impressed with their defensive performance against Phoenix on Sunday as Saunders was, but maybe he was trying to mix in a little positive in his post-game analysis of an effort that produced only 15 assists – five of them by Fabricio Oberto. That was two fewer assists than Nash dished out all by himself.

Saunders was right when he described the Wizards’ offense as “stagnant.” Arenas was right when he said the team is still “trying to find out where we are, what we are.” The common ground ended there.

“We’re just trying to figure out how we can put the ball in the basket, what coach wants from each player,” Arenas said. “That’s what we’re struggling with.”

Once again on Sunday, the ball wasn’t moving, the cuts weren’t crisp enough, and there was little trust in the system that Saunders brought here. The typical offensive set consisted of someone getting the ball on the wing, dribbling toward the basket, and shooting. Yet listen to Arenas’ assessment: He thinks the Wizards aren’t shooting fast enough.

“I say it’s when we have shots open, we’re not taking them,” Arenas said. “We’re trying to do the extra dribble, or get closer to the rim, or pass the ball an extra time when we could just take the first shot. If you look at a team like Phoenix, the reason they don’t have turnovers is they’re launching ‘em. They’re letting it fly so they don’t have a chance to turn the ball over.”

Contrary to Arenas’ assessment, the Wizards’ brass knows the opposite is true. The Wiz need to play more structured offense and pass the ball more, not less. Under previous regimes, bad habits ruled. Saunders’ efforts to eradicate those bad habits have been met with the kind of resistance that results in a team with three 20-point scorers (when healthy) hitting the 100-point plateau only twice in seven games.

“We’ve just got to get better acquainted with one another and believe in one another,” said Caron Butler, who needed 20 field-goal attempts to score 19 points against the Suns. “But it’s early.”

It is, but the Wizards already are exhibiting some tell-tale signs of a team with fragile chemistry. After a deplorable 102-86 loss at Indiana Friday night, Jamison unleashed a profane tirade in the locker room. It was first reported that Jamison overturned a fruit tray in the process, but there were indications on Sunday that the perpetrator might’ve been Saunders, who wouldn’t fess up. Either way, somebody had better nail the postgame spreads to the table if the Wizards don’t get on the same page soon.

Jamison and Miller will be back in another week or so from their respective shoulder injuries, and things will get better. Until then, it doesn’t get any easier Tuesday night in Miami against Dwyane Wade. At least that game tips off after the sun goes down.
Posted on: June 23, 2009 11:13 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2009 6:24 pm
 

T-Wolves are on the clock (UPDATE)

The keys to the draft are now tucked neatly in the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

A flurry of pre-draft trade activity on Tuesday left Minnesota’s new GM, David Kahn, with four first-round picks – including the fifth and sixth – with clear designs on using at least two of them to move as high as needed to snag Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio or UConn center Hasheem Thabeet.

Or both.

The next 10 picks after the Clippers take Blake Griffin are no longer a bore. And if this works out the way Kahn envisions, neither are the Timberwolves.

To recap: Pending league approval, Minnesota has agreed to acquire Washington’s No. 5 overall pick along with Etan Thomas, Oleksiy Pecherov and Darius Songaila for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. With the fifth, sixth, 18th, and 28th picks, Minnesota is far from finished. A person familiar with the team’s plans said Minnesota is loaded for a run at Rubio, the gifted but raw 18-year-old point guard, and Thabeet, the 7-3 shot-blocker who would finally replace Kevin Garnett’s inside presence. “In a perfect world, both,” said the person with knowledge of Minnesota’s master plan.

Either way, this sends shivers through the Sacramento front office, which seemed to be hoping Rubio would be available with the No. 4 pick. Even more so, Kahn appears to have trumped his former boss with the Indiana Pacers, Knicks president Donnie Walsh, who has done a commendable job persuading some rival executives to believe that coach Mike D’Antoni wanted Rubio. But as much as Rubio’s play-making skills could energize D’Antoni’s free-wheeling, pick-and-roll offense, the player the Knicks covet is Davidson’s Stephen Curry, according to a high-level management source with knowledge of the team’s plans. But the Knicks believe they may not be able to land Curry with the eighth pick, as evidenced by their serious talks with Washington about the No. 5 selection – talks that stalled, according to a person familiar with them, when the Wizards balked at taking back Jared Jeffries and his $6.9 million player option for 2010-11.

Minnesota had to give up two proven commodities in Foye and Miller, and the deal came together like a perfect storm because of Washington’s desire to add veterans to its core of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison. The Wizards entertained numerous offers for the fifth pick, even exploring a deal with Phoenix that would’ve yielded Amare Stoudemire. They backed away from that one when the Suns asked for Butler.

In a draft in which team executives see no can’t-miss stars after Griffin, the Wizards didn’t want or need to pay a lottery pick to join a team that management believes is ready to contend now with a veteran roster and experienced coach, Flip Saunders. The trade also accomplished the Wizards’ goals of creating a roster spot and not taking back any salary beyond next season. The impact on Washington’s 2010-11 payroll is a wash.

The day began with a report that the Celtics had engaged in low-level discussions with the Pistons about a blockbuster scenario that would’ve sent Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen to Detroit for a package including Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Rodney Stuckey. The talks never went anywhere, but sparked league-wide curiosity about Boston management’s level of discontent with Rondo.

The Spurs struck first in what is shaping up to be a frenzied trading period, acquiring Richard Jefferson from Milwaukee for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto. It was a clear sign that the Spurs are determined to make at least one more championship run with their core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. For Milwaukee, acquiring $11.3 million in contracts that expire after next season clears cap space to re-sign promising guard Ramon Sessions.

Oberto was, in turn, sent to Detroit for Amir Johnson as the Pistons continue obliterating their roster in preparation for the 2010 free-agent frenzy. Joe Dumars now has only three players under contract for 2010-11 – Prince, Stuckey, and Arron Affalo. UPDATE: The Pistons plan to buy out Oberto, thus trimming more payroll for next season.

So, welcome to the 2009 NBA draft, a.k.a. the new trade deadline.
Posted on: June 22, 2009 9:21 am
 

Knicks and Wiz talking swap?

There's going to be a lot of this over the next few days, because the teams holding picks 3-7 in the NBA draft Thursday night are motivated to do what Elaine used to say to Jerry on Seinfeld.

Get out ...

The latest buzz has the Knicks and Wizards talking about swapping the No. 8 and No. 5 picks, respectively, in a trade that would accomplish much of what each team is looking to do this offseason. Alan Hahn of Newsday checked out a rumor that the Knicks were offering Wilson Chandler and found it to be baseless. But both teams have plenty of, um, assets to work with that would make a deal work.

The Wizards are said to be intrigued by the prospect of bringing back ex-Wizards Larry Hughes and Jared Jeffries, who were key contributors on Washington's 2006 playoff team. The Wizards also would love to unload Etan Thomas' expiring contract. The Knicks are just the place for it. Donnie Walsh has ended the perception that the Knicks are simply a dumping ground for bad contracts, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't take an expiring deal if he could unload Jeffries, who has $6.9 million due in 2010-11. If Walsh is going to maximize his flexibility in the free-agent summer of 2010, he's going to have to move Jeffries or Eddy Curry -- if not both.

It's easy to see what the Wizards are up to. They're on pace to be a tax-paying team next season, and with a veteran core led by Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, they don't need to use scarce resources to pay a young player who doesn't wow them. Most draft observers concur that there's not much separation among the players available after the second pick. The Knicks? They're the one team in the top 10 with an inclination to trade up, with most of the buzz centering on their interest in Stephen Curry and Ricky Rubio. Jrue Holiday is back in New York Monday for a second workout, which could either be a sign that the Knicks are interested or simply that they want to make sure they're not interested. Either way, if the Knicks can move up a few spots to get a player they like and shed 2010 salary at the same time, it would be an unmitigated success -- something that's quite foreign to Knicks fans, on draft night or any other night, really.

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Speaking of point guards, the one thing you can say about this draft is that there are a lot of point guards. The Timberwolves worked out six of them Friday: Jonny Flynn, Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Jeff Teague. The workout was closed to the media, but ah, in the age of the blogger, nothing is closed to the media anymore. Season ticket holders were invited to watch, and one such fan who reads the TrueHoop blog filed a report on the workout, which was posted online. Good info here, depending on what degree of trust you have in season ticket holder Michael Stephenson's talent-evaluation abilities. Among other observations, Stephenson wrote that Evans dominated the workout.
 
 
 
 
 
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