Tag:Cavaliers
Posted on: February 7, 2010 6:32 pm
 

Celtics, Allen on trade clock

Few grand conclusions can be drawn from February NBA games. But in this case, the Celtics' latest disappointing loss only underscored what has been a poorly kept secret among NBA executives for weeks: Ray Allen's time in Boston is likely coming to an end.

Thanks to a non-competitive third quarter, the Celtics fell to Orlando 96-89 on Sunday, dropping them to third in the East behind the Cavs and Magic. The struggling Celtics still have three games against Cleveland to prove they haven't fallen from elite status. But after going 1-3 against Orlando and 0-4 against Atlanta, the Celtics have reached a crossroads in their bid to milk one more championship banner out of the Allen-Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett era.

Don't bet on every member of the Big Three being around beyond the Feb. 18 trade deadline.

Though team president Danny Ainge has publicly ridiculed the Allen trade reports, several NBA executives told CBSSports.com that the Celtics have been actively trying to parlay Allen's $19.7 million expiring contract into an asset that could keep them in the mix during the upcoming playoffs and also help them for the next several seasons. The most recent inquiry, sources say, involved Sacramento sharpshooter Kevin Martin, who'd be a good fit with Boston's remaining core. Kings officials might be talked out of their reluctance to deal Martin if they could pry a prolific big man out of a third team brought into the discussions or in a separate transaction before the deadline.

The bottom line is that Ainge, who saved his job by pulling off the perfect storm of trades that yielded Allen and Garnett three years ago, has made it clear in private conversations that he's "not going back to the abyss," according to one person familiar with the discussions. 

"Danny has said, 'I can't go back to square one where we were prior to the Garnett deal,'" the person said. "At the All-Star break, they’re going to look in the mirror and say, 'Cleveland got better, we can't beat Orlando, and we can't even beat the Hawks. We’re not going to win it this year.'"

If the Celtics kept Allen and let his contract come off the books, they'd still be over the cap this summer with no avenues besides sign-and-trades to acquire a starting shooting guard. That's why Boston also has expressed interest in the Bulls' Kirk Hinrich, an excellent defender and ball-handler who would give the Celtics a starting two guard next season at $9 million and in 2011-12 at $8 million. The Bulls' motivation would be cap relief.

The Kings, who are not planning to be big free-agent shoppers this summer, aren't seeking to acquire cap space alone. They want assets -- and the Celtics don't have a young big man to offer. The Bulls, who almost certainly will move Tyrus Thomas, might need to be invited into that conversation to satisfy everyone's needs.

Whatever avenue they pursue, the Celtics don't want to go into this summer with no cap flexibility and no assets that could be used to keep them among the elite. Before Ainge struck the 2007 draft-related deal for Allen and then plucked Garnett from Minnesota with the help of former teammate Kevin McHale, the Celtics had just endured a 24-win season and hadn't been out of the first round since 2002-03. Ainge and Doc Rivers were on the brink of getting fired until the perfect remedy presented itself -- and the Celtics parlayed the Allen and Garnett deals into their 17th NBA title.

"Kevin McHale's out of the league," one rival executive said, only half-joking. "So they're not going to be able to recreate that deal again."

The period leading up to that was so grim that nobody in the organization wants to revisit it. The best way to avoid such a scenario would be to part ways with Allen. It wouldn't be starting over. Instead, it would be a bold attempt to have a chance against Cleveland, Orlando, and Atlanta in the playoffs and avoid going back to the depths of rebuilding.







Posted on: February 1, 2010 4:34 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2010 4:37 pm
 

Best and worst contenders in January

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.)

Five Best

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.

Five Worst

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 23, 2010 12:37 am
 

Kobe hits the Lakers where it hurts

NEW YORK – The mental minefield Kobe Bryant began planting in Cleveland stretched all the way to New York, where the Lakers embarked on the second game of an eight-game road trip with his words still ringing in their ears.

Not tough enough.

Not part of their D.N.A.

Need to be hungrier.

“He’s a killer,” Lamar Odom was saying in the visiting locker room at Madison Square Garden Friday night. “He’s always gonna see things the way he sees them. He’s our leader, so if he sees that then we have to address it – and the way we address it is on the court. … Our problem right now is our cockiness, so he might be right.”

After the Lakers failed to close out a game in Cleveland Thursday night, thus surrendering the season series to the Cavs, Bryant wanted to leave no doubt about where the defending champs’ heads must be on this trip. The Lakers ran out to an 18-3 start, playing only four of their first 21 games on the road. Now they’re 0-2 against the Cavs and had lost five of their last six road games entering the Garden Friday night.

“Guys need to get going,” Bryant said after the Lakers beat the Knicks 115-105, “because I need them on this trip.”

Complacency has always been the enemy of these Lakers, and Bryant knows by now which buttons to push. He had stewed for months after the Lakers proved too soft to beat the Celtics in the ’08 Finals, and so he went for the jugular after the Cleveland loss by trotting out those hurtful buzzwords at the first sign of weakness.

Nobody in the NBA senses weakness like Bryant, and that goes for his teammates – not just his opponents.

Phil Jackson didn’t necessarily agree with Bryant’s assault on the Lakers’ lack of toughness, but it didn’t matter. The message was delivered. And it wasn’t just delivered to the notebook-toting masses. It was delivered in the locker room, too.

“We have to be prepared for teams to come after us,” Odom said. “I never knew how hard it was gonna be to try to repeat as champions. He does. So that might be his way of pushing us a little bit.”

Needing a push has been part of the problem, according to renowned locker-room philosopher Ron Artest. It was Artest who was brought to L.A. to stop LeBron James, and he willingly admitted Friday night that he’s 0-for-2. On Christmas Day, LeBron scored 26 in a 102-87 Cleveland victory and Artest fell down some stairs at home afterward and got a concussion. On Thursday night, LeBron had his way again with 37 points in a 93-87 victory without injured guard Mo Williams.

“I guess that’s why they got me, to take him out of the game,” Artest said. “[Thursday] it didn’t work. They got us this year, so all we can do is move on from that and see what happens in the playoffs.”

Artest is new to the Lakers’ midseason blahs, but he’s a quick study. The Lakers are so good, so talented, so dominant, he said, that the games are too easy for them to be engaged all the time.

“We haven’t played good basketball this whole year and I don’t even know how we’re in first place,” Artest said. “We don’t even know. We’re out there sometimes trying to figure out how we’re still in first place. … You can play against a couple of teams that have some star players or whatever, coast through the whole game, and win by 20 – real easy. And that’s how it’s been for us this whole season. A lot of wins just came from it really just being too easy for us. Sometimes it’s not fair. We’re up 20 in the first quarter. What else are you gonna do but win by 100 points? I guess that’s what we have to start doing.”

That’s where Bryant comes in, pressing his teammates’ feet back on the pedal. The ring finger on his shooting hand is broken in two places, his back is sore, and he just passed the halfway point of his 14th season. With those ailments and mileage, on the second night of a back-to-back, there wasn’t enough in the tank for his usual Garden explosion; Bryant was 8-for-24 for a pedestrian 27 points. But even if he had it in him, he said his teammates didn’t deserve it.

“I don’t think the way that we’re playing right now that we’re ready for that,” he said.

The rest of the trip will take them to Toronto, Washington, Indiana, Philadelphia, Boston, and Memphis a week from Monday. At some point, Bryant wants the D.N.A. to mutate.

The Lakers are 33-10, a half-game up on Cleveland for the best record in the league. If they face the Cavs in the Finals, they’re going to need it to attain homecourt advantage.

“We didn’t have [the best record] last year,” Jackson said. “And all of a sudden, Cleveland lost and Orlando stepped out into the vacuum. You can’t diminish it, but at some time you have to win on the road.”

Having achieved his desired result, at least for one night, Bryant went about his usual postgame meet-and-greets in the crowded hallways of the Garden, his favorite arena. He signed a pair of shoes for an actor from India, greeted someone who used to play in the driveway with Bryant’s father, Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant, and shook every outstretched hand. Then it was down the freight elevator to a car that would take him to West 125th Street in Harlem, to a hush-hush event at the House of Hoops.

Mind games will resume on an as-needed basis.
Posted on: January 22, 2010 9:01 pm
 

Artest: Cavs 'nothing' without LeBron

NEW YORK – Ron Artest is always good for a laugh, even the night after the Lakers lost to the Cavs for the second time this season. But in this case, he has a point.

Asked before the Lakers played the Knicks Friday night if the Cavs would be a playoff team without LeBron, Artest didn’t hesitate.

“Actually I thought about that [Thursday],” Artest said. “If you take LeBron off that team, no. They’re not. They’re nothing. Not that they’re nothing, they’re still human beings. But you take him off that team, no. I guess that’s why they got me, to take him out of the game. [Thursday] it didn’t work. They got us this year, so all we can do is move on from that and see what happens in the playoffs.”

Artest, who is from Queensbridge – a rough neighborhood just across the East River from Manhattan – always attracts a crowd of reporters when he plays at the Garden. He still represents one of many might-have-beens for the Knicks after the team passed on the former St. John’s star in the 1999 draft, when they picked Frederic Weis instead.

“No disrespect to Cleveland, but we need some star power here in New York,” Artest said. “We need some legit star power, so I can come down and beat up on ‘em. We still need some star power here in New York. We need one of those big-time players to come here and get a great team, and when the Lakers play the Knicks, we beat ‘em by like 40 or 50 points. It would be great hopefully one day to see a New York-L.A. championship. I don’t have any power to do that, but it would be nice.”

Don't blame me, Cavs fans. I don't make the news. I merely report it.
Posted on: January 21, 2010 5:44 pm
 

Will Mo injury prompt Cavs trade?

The Cavaliers' announcement Thursday that guard Mo Williams is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained left shoulder presents an interesting dilemma if you're Danny Ferry.

Well, interesting if you're you or me. Distressful if you're Danny Ferry.

The news could've been worse. As Plain Dealer Cavs writer extraordinaire Brian Windhorst pointed out, Williams could've needed surgery, which would've sidelined him for months. Such a verdict would've put the Cavs and Mike Brown in the same boat the Magic and Stan Van Gundy found themselves in last spring with Jameer Nelson -- and we all know how that worked out.

Assuming the worst-case scenario -- that Williams misses six weeks -- his return would be slated for the first week of March. That's still plenty of time to restore normalcy to the Cavs' offense and get Williams in shape for the playoffs. But remember: There's a very real chance that the Cavs will lose Delonte West for an extended period of time once his weapons charges are dealt with in Maryland -- and in NBA Commissioner David Stern's office. With guns galore in the NBA this season, clearly Stern will be in no mood for a slap on the wrist. According to reports, West is due in court Friday for a pre-trial hearing. Barring a plea, trial is set for February.

So ... with two key backcourt members facing lengthy absences, what does Ferry do? His posture to this point in the trade market has been to try to parlay Zydrunas Ilgauskas and his $11.5 million expiring contract into a stretch power forward -- someone like Washington's Antawn Jamison. But now, there are backcourt issues to be addressed. And in all likelihood, neither outcome will be known for sure before the Feb. 18 trade deadline.

Play-making guards who currently qualify as very available are the Nets' Devin Harris, the Sixers' Andre Iguodala, and the Knicks' Nate Robinson. Harris and Iggy carry a hefty price for the Cavs, who already have precious little cap space to operate with next summer, when their prized free-agent-to-be, LeBron James, will be weighing his options. It borders on the farcical that the Cavs would take on Harris' $27 million over the next three seasons for a short-term fix -- one that would only further pave the way for the Nets to lure LeBron and another top-tier free agent on July 1.

Iguodala's $57 million over the next four years? Not even worth discussion, in my opinion.

Robinson is the cheapest and least cap-killing option, given that he's on a one-year deal for $4 million. (He also has the right to void any trade, but why would he do that in this case?). The risk with Robinson comes on the court, where he's undisciplined, and in the locker room, where his playful antics rub veterans the wrong way. Maybe Shaq and LeBron could put him in his place. Maybe not.

The Cavs can certainly get by with LeBron handling more of the initiating duties on offense and Daniel Gibson playing increased minutes (although the latter is a lot scarier than the former). Remember, too, that Leon Powe looms as a wild-card addition to the front court once he returns from a season-long absence following offseason knee surgery.

So a logical course of action for Ferry would be to ride it out, make do with what he's got, and hope for the best once Williams returns.

But with so much pressure on this franchise to deliver a championship for LeBron in his walk year, it's certainly worth wondering how much this turn of events will increase the temptation to make a proactive -- and potentially risky -- move between now and Feb. 18.













Posted on: December 30, 2009 11:16 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2009 12:20 am
 

Hawks plan to protest shot clock error (UPDATE)

The Atlanta Hawks plan to file a game protest after the shot clock failed to reset in the final two minutes of their 106-101 loss in Cleveland on Wednesday night.

After Cleveland's Mo Williams shot an air ball with 1:56 left and the Cavs trailing 99-98, the Cleveland scoring crew failed to reset the shot clock to 24 seconds. Mike Bibby dribbled across halfcourt and passed to Josh Smith, who lost the ball in the lane as the abbreviated shot clock was winding down. The Cavs went back the other way and scored on Anderson Varejao's putback of a Williams miss to take a 100-99 lead with 1:31 left. The Cavs eventually won on Varejao's first career 3-pointer, which made it 104-101 with 17.2 seconds left. The shot was reviewed and correctly upheld via replay, which confirmed that Varejao had both feet behind the 3-point line.

UPDATE: Here's the YouTube clip of the shot-clock sequence so you can decide for yourself whether the Hawks have a case.

The Hawks were involved in the rare instance when a game protest was granted by the league office stemming from their 117-111 overtime victory over Miami on Dec. 19, 2007. Commissioner David Stern found that the Hawks' scoring crew had incorrectly disqualified Miami's Shaquille O'Neal for his sixth personal foul, when in fact, it was only his fifth. The teams had to replay the final 51.9 seconds of the game, and the Hawks were fined $50,000 for violating NBA rules.

The teams replayed the end of the protested game on March 8, 2008 -- without O'Neal, who'd been traded to Phoenix by that point. Neither team scored in the replayed 51.9 seconds, and it went in the books as a 114-111 Atlanta victory.

It was the first game protest granted by the NBA since 1982.

Teams protesting regular season games have 48 hours to file the protest with the league office. The other team then has five business days to contest the protest, and the league office has five business days from that point to render a decision, according to NBA procedures. As in the Hawks-Heat scenario, if the protest is granted, the remedy would be to replay the end of the game from the point when the scoring error occurred.

UPDATE: It's difficult to predict how the NBA will handle this protest, but the Hawks clearly have an uphill battle considering how rarely they are granted.

The league came down on the Hawks for the O'Neal situation, in part, because the error was not corrected once the stat crew pointed it out. On one hand, the shot-clock sequence Wednesday night came at a critical juncture in the game -- the very moment when momentum swung to the Cavs' favor. On the other, it seems unrealistic to think that possession could change nearly 200 times in a basketball game without some type of clock error. And in this case, the Hawks would've had a better case if they'd gotten off a quality shot on the trip in question. Smith simply lost the ball in traffic, and it wasn't evident that he was in a hurry or was even aware of the shot clock situation. 

The NBA clearly doesn't want to open the floodgates for protests that would muddle the schedule with do-overs. But with awareness so high about getting every call correct, it's hard to ignore an error that very well might have affected the outcome of a game.

Posted on: December 25, 2009 8:56 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2009 10:21 am
 

NBA swings and misses on Christmas Day

Merry Christmas from the NBA. Have you enjoyed your lumps of coal?

It was the league's signature day for national TV exposure, when millions of Americans are sitting around all day with nothing to do but become sick of opening presents and bored with relatives they won't see again until next Christmas. A perfect opportunity to gain a foothold among casual fans who don't appreciate the athleticism, drama, conflict, and strategy of the sport the way you and I do.

You can return the presents you don't like. But you'll never get back the eight hours of your life that was just spent watching this.

First, the Knicks and Heat engaged in a predictably sleepy noon ET tipoff on Friday that was barely watchable. I know, because I sat 50 feet from the baseline and tried to watch it.

Then, the Celtics and Magic played in Orlando, which despite Paul Pierce's absence had a chance to upstage LeBron vs. Kobe as the most thrilling matchup of the day. Instead, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said before the game that Christmas Day games should be banned , and then his team went out and scored 27 points in the first half. Oh, the pain.

Finally, at 5:30 p.m., just as I returned home from the crimes against basketball committed at Madison Square Garden, it was time for the main event. Cavs vs. Lakers. Kobe vs. LeBron.

What did you get, you mainstream fan, you curious Christmas reveler? A hopeless blowout, complete with constant whining about the officiating -- primarily from the Lakers -- and utter classlessness from the Laker fans, who decided this would be a good time to throw foam fingers and water bottles onto the court.

UPDATE: For those who were still tuning in, the Clippers and Suns gave us stinker No. 4. Brandon Roy and the Blazers saved Christmas with a stellar 107-96 victory over the Nuggets. Unfortunately, more than half the country was already sleeping when that happened.

If you enjoy the NBA the way I do, you know these things happen. You can't script thrilling finishes, competitive games, or superstar conflicts to coincide with a day when you have the national spotlight all to yourself. You know that Kobe Bryant and LeBron James will go down as two of the immortals of the sport, faces that someday will join Jordan, Russell, Chamberlain, and Robertson on the sport's Mount Rushmore.

You know that on most random nights, when you're glued to NBA League Pass, the league delivers some of the best unseen drama and buzz-worthy competition in sports -- even if most of it goes unnoticed by the mainstream. 

You know the NBA is cooler and younger and more fan friendly than that dinosaur of a sport, baseball, which continues to dominate the sports coverage and fan discussion where I live -- even though the season ended two months ago.

But this was an unfortunate way for the NBA to publicly announce the unofficial beginning of its time in the national spotlight. You and I can marvel at the Cavs' stellar defensive performance against the Lakers, and how they attacked and exploited the Lakers' defense, which was No. 1 in the NBA in opponent field-goal percentage. You and I can enjoy Dwyane Wade's subtle yet effective performance against the Knicks. You and I can appreciate how the Celtics limped into Orlando and smacked the Magic around without their top scorer.

Did the NBA engage, intrigue, or attract a single casual fan out there in the captive national audience with these three lumps of coal? Not even close. In fact, worse than that, some annoying -- and erroneous -- stereotypes actually were reinforced: 1) The NBA regular season is pointless and unwatchable (witness Heat-Knicks and Celtics-Magic); 2) The officiating is biased, inconsistent, and causes players to spend most of their time whining about calls (witness Cavs-Lakers); and 3) Laker fans are cry babies.

With the possible exception of No. 3, you and I know that's a bunch of nonsense. But after three forgettable Christmas Day games on national TV, the average fan doesn't.

I don't know about you, but it's time for me to change the channel. Who knew the NBA would be relying on the Suns and Clippers to save Christmas?
   

  


Category: NBA
Posted on: November 16, 2009 11:51 am
Edited on: November 16, 2009 1:05 pm
 

Jackson gone; now the real fun begins

Stephen Jackson has been rescued from Golden State, and he's going from playing for one hard-to-please, curmudgeonly coach to another.

The Warriors obliged Jackson's trade request Monday, sending the disgruntled swingman to the Bobcats along with Acie Law for Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic. The deal resolves one of many complicated plotlines for the tumultuous Warriors, but leaves several others still unsettled.

Jackson was miserable with the Warriors, despite having been rewarded with a three-year, $28 million extension that kicks in next season. Jackson and Monta Ellis, who was even more richly appeased with a $66 million deal two summers ago, believe Warriors management failed to deliver on promises to add a veteran, playoff-caliber supporting cast this past offseason.

The arrangement with Charlotte put a crimp in the Cavaliers' plans to add more scoring punch to their lineup via Jackson; several members of the Cavs organization have a history with S-Jax and believe that could've tamed his wild side, a task that now falls to that noted lover of reclamation projects, Larry Brown. It also avoids what would've been a circus-like atmosphere Tuesday night, when the Warriors pay a visit to the Cavs.

UPDATE: The removal of Jackson lowers the volume on the circus music emanating from the Warriors for the time being. As CBSSports.com reported Friday, an alternative to an imminent Jackson trade that gained renewed traction last week was a scenario that would've seen coach Don Nelson step into a consultant role with lead assistant Keith Smart taking over the head coaching duties. Despite denials from team president Robert Rowell, who was scheduled to meet with Nelson after the team's current road trip to discuss the direction of the team, the rise of Smart to the first seat on the bench is an option that has been contemplated since last season. In fact, Smart already has been assured that he is Nelson's heir apparent, according to three people familiar with the situation.

One of the sources with knowledge of the team's plans to address the chaos generated by Nelson's rifts with Jackson and Ellis said Sunday that the possibility of accelerating Smart's takeover emerged as an agenda item around the middle of last week. Nelson, who has vowed to honor the two-year, $12 million extension he signed this past summer, was in full control of that scenario, added a source who said the timing of any handoff to Smart would be Nellie's call. Nelson, who is 20 victories away from becoming the NBA's all-time winningest coach, would still be honoring his contract even if he'd concluded that it was time for Smart to take over.

Concerns that airing Nelson's plans would hinder the team's efforts to trade Jackson are now moot. Thus, the coaching succession plan will likely return to the back burner. But one transfer of power will occur without delay: Ellis taking over Jackson's role as the team's disgruntled star.

UPDATE: Why does Charlotte do this trade? Beats me. Why does a Brown-coached team do any trade, besides for the fun of having to someday undo it? Here's one theory: Vlad-Rad's contract is much worse than Jackson's; at least with Jackson, you get a productive player for $10 million a year. The Warriors are now stuck with Radmanovic's $6.9 million next season, though Bell's $5.3 million comes off the books in '10-'11.

More importantly, where were the Cavs in all of this? All indications point to the fact that Jackson was Danny Ferry's for the taking, and he opted not to be a taker.



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