Posted on: May 3, 2010 1:56 am
The coaching carousel has been spinning at an unusually slow pace for teams whose offseasons already have begun. That is expected to change in the coming days, with the Hornets and Sixers closing in on plans to begin interviewing candidates.
The Hornets plan to interview a mixture of current assistants and former head coaches, with sources telling CBSSports.com that at least eight names are on New Orleans’ list so far. Assistants Tom Thibodeau (Celtics), Dwane Casey (Mavericks), Monty Williams (Trail Blazers), Tyrone Corbin (Jazz), and Steve Clifford (Magic) are expected to interview for the Hornets job, along with former head coaches Avery Johnson and Lawrence Frank and broadcaster Mark Jackson. Johnson, Jackson and Thibodeau also are expected to interview with the Sixers.
The Nets’ search is in limbo until the transfer of ownership to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is completed. All signs point to team president Rod Thorn remaining with the team, with Kiki Vandeweghe back to his GM position. Though the Nets have scheduled no formal interviews, they are believed to be interested in Thibodeau, Boston’s associate head coach in charge of the defense, and Jackson, whose name recognition and New York roots would be appealing for a team on its way to Brooklyn.
Vinny Del Negro’s status in Chicago is expected to be resolved this week as organizational meetings conclude with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Several front office situations also are in flux, including Portland, where GM Kevin Pritchard is waiting to learn if he will meet the same fate as close friend and former top assistant Tom Penn, who was fired in March. In Denver, GM Mark Warkentien’s contract is set to expire after he did not receive an extension to accompany coach George Karl’s. Sources familiar with the Denver situation said Warkentien’s status is expected to be resolved within a week after the Nuggets’ playoff elimination. Team executive Rex Chapman is expected to be let go, sources said.
The Clippers have not made any official inroads in their coaching search, leading rival executives to wonder if further changes are afoot in the front office after Mike Dunleavy was removed as coach and then fired as GM. Dunleavy’s replacement, Neil Olshey, has been told his status is not interim in nature, sources said. Dunleavy has filed an arbitration case after the Clippers stopped paying his salary, of which nearly $7 million is owed through the end of next season.
In Philly, all decisions hinge on whether Larry Brown decides to leave the Bobcats for the Sixers’ team presidency. Brown, 69, has said publicly he won’t coach anywhere but Charlotte, but has returned home to Philadelphia to speak to his wife and children about his next career move. The Bobcats are pushing for Brown to resolve his future “sooner than later” so the organization can move forward with preparations for the draft and free agency with a clear understanding of who will be coaching the team.
Posted on: February 8, 2010 11:13 pm
Apparently, the Magic have acquired Vince Carter. I hadn't noticed -- until Monday night.
Let's not get too carried away with Carter's incredible display against the Hornets -- 48 points, 34 in the second half, and only three shy of his career high. This is not what the Magic had in mind when they pre-empted Hedo Turkoglu's departure by trading for Carter. They expected what they'd gotten for most of the season until now -- a former All-Star who is willing to settle into a secondary role behind Dwight Howard.
But you have to believe it was nice for Stan Van Gundy to witness this unexpected development in the Magic's 123-117 victory over New Orleans. It won't happen often, but when the Magic are slogging their way through the playoffs in a few months, getting sick to death of listening to Van Gundy yell at them about defense with that raspy voice of his, at least they'll know this: Vince Carter is still capable of taking over a game. On occasion, he is still unguardable.
Carter had settled into a mostly pedestrian existence in Orlando, deferring to younger teammates with more bounce in their legs. He hadn't been this good all year, by a lot. He hadn't warranted being a Twitter trending topic since before Twitter was invented.
I can confidently say that 48 points will be his season high; he won't do this again. But the fact that he showed that he can is every bit as important. When the Magic play Cleveland, Boston, Atlanta, or whomever else gets in the way come May and June, their opponent will have to defend Carter as though he will do that again.
That's why Carter will be better for the Magic in the playoffs than Turkoglu would've been. You saw merely a glimpse of his worth Monday night, and a glimpse is all it takes.
Posted on: February 1, 2010 4:34 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2010 4:37 pm
January is the month when NBA teams start figuring out what they are. The feeling-out period of November and December gives way a time when night-to-night performance dictates the tweaks that are needed at the trade deadline.
Based on the standings as we sit here on Feb. 1, there are nine teams legitimately in the Eastern Conference playoff picture (the line is drawn at the Knicks, who enter the month six games out of the eighth spot). In the West, 11 teams are strong playoff contenders (drawing the line at the Clippers, who are six games out of eighth). Of those 20 teams, which ones performed the best and the worst in the month of January, and why?
The “who” is easy. For the “why,” we need some statistical analysis. And for that, we turn to adjusted plus/minus expert Wayne Winston. In his blog, Winston opines on all 30 teams and why they performed the way they did in the month of January. Let’s break out Winston’s analysis of the playoff contenders with the five best and five worst records last month:
(To review, adjusted plus/minus tells you how many points better or worse a team would perform if a given player were paired with four average players against five average players. For example, LeBron James’ was plus-21 in January, meaning his team was 21 points better than average when adjusted for whom LeBron was playing with and against.)
1. Cleveland (12-3): It’s all about Shaquille O’Neal, whose adjusted plus/minus through December was minus-4 but in January was plus-4.
1. (t)Denver (12-3): Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups are overrated, according to Winston. Nene and Chris “Birdman” Andersen each had a plus-23 rating in January.
3. Charlotte (12-4): The Bobcats’ success can be attributed to Gerald Wallace (plus-15), Flip Murray (plus-11), and Stephen Jackson (plus-8).
4. Utah (10-4): Deron Williams registered a plus-17, but Andre Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, and Kyle Korver all were plus-10 or better, too.
5. New Orleans (12-5): Chris Paul (plus-8) and Marcus Thornton (plus-9) combined to form an effective starting backcourt – a plan that will have to be adjusted with Paul out indefinitely due to a left knee injury requiring surgery. Darren Collison, you’re up ...
5. (t) Lakers (12-5): Winston says Ron Artest (minus-1) has been fading steadily since his Christmas night fall and unrelated foot ailments. Remarkably, his system credits Sasha Vujacic with a plus-16 – same as Kobe.
1. Houston (5-9): David Andersen (plus-7) has been helpful. Chuck Hayes (minus-9), not so much.
2. Boston (6-8): The main culprit, as you might expect, has been Kevin Garnett (minus-11), whose offensive rating was even worse than his overall adjusted plus/minus (minus-21). Glen “Don’t Call Me Big Baby” Davis also struggled (minus-14).
3. Phoenix (7-9): Channing Frye’s rating went from plus-13 through December to plus-2 in January. Amar’e Stoudemire, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Goran Dragic, and Louis Amundson all hovered between minus-9 and minus-11. Robin Lopez was plus-9.
4. Portland (7-8): Nicolas Batum (plus-16), Andre Miller (plus-13), Martell Webster (plus-13), and Jerryd Bayless (plus-10) kept the Blazers afloat. But they need a big man in the worst way, as Juwan Howard (minus-18) and Jeff Pendergraph (minus-14) killed them.
5. Miami (8-9): Rafer Alston (minus-14) hasn’t solved the Heat’s point guard woes. Dorell Wright (plus-11) was solid.
No single statistical method is the be-all, end-all for evaluating a team’s performance. Depending on which front office you’re talking to, you’ll get different accounts of which data are most meaningful. But these numbers shed some light on some common beliefs about what certain contenders need to add or subtract before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. In Denver’s case, the performance of Nene and Birdman seemed to debunk the notion that the Nuggets desperately need to acquire a big man. In Portland’s case, the data proves that the Blazers need an upgrade in the frontcourt.
The Celtics? They need Garnett to be as healthy and dominant as he was two years ago. (Don’t hold your breath.) Do the Jazz need to trade Boozer? If they want to get under the luxury tax they do, but not if they want to continue playing their best basketball of the season.
Which team that’s currently a long shot to make the playoffs had the best January? That would be the Bucks, who went 8-7 in January – better than six teams currently in the hunt. The Bucks are an aberration to Winston, as well, because all he could come up with to explain their success was Charlie Bell’s plus-10 rating in January. It’s an imperfect system that nonetheless provides some interesting stuff to think about as we close in on Feb. 18.
Posted on: January 31, 2010 11:30 pm
A loss to the Chicago Bulls that didn't need to happen was even more costly than the New Orleans Hornets imagined.
All-Star point guard Chris Paul hurt his left knee chasing a needless court-length pass by David West Friday night during a 108-106 overtime loss to the Bulls. As a result, Paul will have the knee scoped and is expected to miss at least a month, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com Sunday night.
More will be known about the severity of a meniscus tear in Paul's left knee once the scope is performed Monday, but it's clear that he will miss the All-Star Game and at least a month of time. Yahoo! Sports first reported that Paul would need surgery.
One person familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com that Paul tweaked the knee Wednesday night in a 123-110 victory at Golden State. On Friday night, the Hornets appeared to have a victory over the Bulls wrapped up when West threw a court-length pass out of Paul's reach in the final seconds of regulation. Paul aggravated the knee, and the Bulls parlayed the turnover into an overtime-forcing basket.
Paul's absence will not only impair the Hornets' quest for a playoff spot, it also will open an All-Star spot for Denver's Chauncey Billups or Golden State's Monta Ellis, two deserving Western Conference guards who were left off the coaches' list of reserves named last week.
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.