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Tag:Heat
Posted on: September 29, 2010 7:43 pm
 

Doc defends LeBron

NEWPORT, R.I. – Doc Rivers was not among those watching LeBron James’ nationally televised “Decision” in horror. He’s an old-school point guard who’s come to accept the new-school ways of the NBA.

“I think they’ve gotten a lot of criticism that they didn’t deserve,” the Celtics coach said Wednesday of the Miami Heat’s free-agent coup. “I don’t understand. I think LeBron did everything legal, right? He played it out until he was at the end and he could be a free agent. It didn’t bother me that way. I guess I’m an old-school guy, but it really didn’t bother me in that way. But it bothered a lot of people. For whatever reason, it did.”

And it shouldn’t have, Rivers said – especially for those former players who would’ve done the same thing given the opportunity.

“We did it, but we did it through trades,” Rivers said. “There were 23 teams when I played. Everybody had a Dream Team for the most part. The reason why a lot of guys didn’t leave is because they had two or three Hall of Famers on their team already. LeBron was in that one place for seven years. So it’s not like he didn’t give it a shot. That’s what I don’t get; it’s almost like he never gave them a chance. He was there for seven years. Some of the guys that have been giving criticism wanted to be traded from their teams back in their day, too. It’s just interesting.

“Listen, I’m kind of in between because I’m an old guy but I’m coaching these guys, and it is a different league in that way,” Rivers said. “It is scary that a guy can sort of hold everybody prisoner that way, but it’s in his rights. It’s the way the collective bargaining [agreement] is, so he can do whatever he wants to do. And by the way, there’s not a lot of LeBrons. There’s not a lot of players who would be able to do that. There’s not even going to be one a year, and it’s not going to be anything to that magnitude.”

Superstar team-building, though, won’t stop in Miami. Chris Paul already has made noise this summer about wanting out of New Orleans so he can team up with other superstars. The Carmelo Anthony saga is stalled for now, but his desire to leave Denver and pull a LeBron isn’t going away.

Though Rivers’ played in the ‘80s, few current NBA coaches are more in touch with what he calls “the AAU generation” than he is. He’s living it not only as a coach, but also as a father of two highly recruited players – sons Jeremiah, a point guard at Indiana, and Austin, who has all the top programs fawning over him.

“The first time I ever met Danny Ainge was when we made the All-Star team, and that was like six years in the league,” Rivers said. “I shook his hand before the game – begrudgingly – but I didn’t know him. I didn’t know any player. I knew the players on the Hawks and every player from Chicago. That’s it. Our kids, Jeremiah and Austin, they talk to each other every night – from the guy they played with in California and everything else – and they all know each other. And they all talk about; they’re doing it now, in college. They say, ‘Hey, let us two go here.’ It’s just different now and we’ve got to get used to it.”
Posted on: September 24, 2010 5:27 pm
 

Preseason Primers: Los Angeles Lakers


With one of the NBA's biggest stars, Carmelo Anthony, possibly on the verge of being traded, the offseason still hasn't ended. But it ended three months ago for the Lakers, who celebrated their second straight championship, made a couple of mundane moves, and got ready to do it all over again. The defending champs didn't make a Miami-like splash this summer, but they didn't need to. And the moves they did make clearly made them better. Word is that Kobe Bryant, entering his 15th season, can't wait to go to work. Miami won it all in July, but the Lakers are the undisputed Kings of June until proved otherwise.

Training camp site: El Segundo, Calif.

Training camp starts: Sept. 25

Key additions: Steve Blake (free agent), Matt Barnes (free agent), Theo Ratliff (free agent)

Key subtractions: Josh Powell (free agent), Jordan Farmar (free agent).

Likely starting lineup: Derek Fisher, PG; Kobe Bryant, SG; Ron Artest, SF; Pau Gasol, PF; Ratliff, C.

Player to watch: Andrew Bynum. As you can tell from his name being omitted from the training camp starting lineup (which matters only for scrimmaging purposes), Bynum is hurt again. Well, not so much hurt again, but rather still hurt – or better yet, not recovered. After the praise Bynum received for playing through a significant knee injury during the Finals, he’s receiving equal parts scorn for delaying surgery until after he completed a planned trip to the World Cup. Both were deserved. Coach Phil Jackson said Friday that he can’t see how Bynum will be ready for the start of the regular season.

Chemistry check: All the tension over Jackson’s future was relieved when the Zen Master decided to return for one more season. His unique ability to handle strange personalities (he has a few on this team) and his knack for getting under the opponent’s skin will be needed in a big way. If the Lakers started the NBA arms race by acquiring Gasol a couple of years ago, the Heat went nuclear by teaming Dwyane Wade with LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Suffice it to say, a certain Laker who wears No. 24 took note. Sources say Bryant’s competitive fire – always an inferno – has burning even hotter with the prospect of this challenge.

Injury watch: Besides Bynum, Bryant will be limited as he continues to recover from a laundry list of ailments that hindered him throughout last postseason. Lamar Odom is coming off a busy summer with Team USA, and Jackson plans to take it easy on him in camp. Luke Walton (back) will miss significant time, perhaps the entire season.

Camp battles: The Lakers really only face their usual battles with drama, with Kobe’s moods, and with Artest’s Twitter ramblings. Once Bynum is healthy, the rotation is pretty much set.

Biggest improvement: Mitch Kupchak watched LeBron’s decision only out of curiosity; the Lakers weren’t landing any marquee free agents this summer. But they did improve in a key area that will prove to be of utmost importance the deeper they get into the postseason. Their bench got a lot better. Blake is the best backup Fisher has had in a while, and his presence will allow re-signed Shannon Brown to be used more in a scoring role. Barnes brings Artest-like toughness to a second unit that also includes Odom, Ratliff, Blake and either Brown or Sasha Vujacic (until he’s traded.)

Biggest concern: They’re the two-time defending champs, so there are no glaring weaknesses. The biggest concern, as always, is Bynum. He is forever the wild-card for the Lakers. When it’s time to play the Spurs, Mavs, Celtics or Heat in May and June, the Lakers will go as far as Bynum can take them.
Posted on: September 22, 2010 2:28 pm
 

Preseason Primers: Miami Heat

You may have heard that the Miami Heat are a bit of a big deal. They ran the table during free agency in July, executing the ingenious plan hatched by mastermind Pat Riley without flaw. Riley even assembled a quality, veteran supporting cast in the blink of an eye, surrounding Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh with shooters, defensive toughness and quality support players. Free-agent center Erick Dampier could be next. Was it enough? Will the Super Team execute as well in June as Riley executed in July? It's time for the Miami Heat preseason primer -- which has all the questions, some of the answers, and none of the fanfare that went along with LeBron's "Decision."


Training camp site: Dark Side of the Moon. (Just kidding. It’s actually on less accessible property: Hurlburt Field at Eglin Air Force Base near Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.

Training camp starts: Sept. 28

Key additions: Smush Parker (fantasy signing), Jason Williams (none of your business), and three of Michael Beasley’s better-adjusted cousins. This is a joke, of course. You know who the key additions are. Besides them, the most important ones are Mike Miller (free agent), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (free agent), Eddie House (free agent) and, um, Juwan Howard (free agent).

Key subtractions: Quentin Richardson (free agent), Jermaine O’Neal (free agent), Beasley (trade), Daequan Cook (trade).

Likely starting lineup: Wade, G; Mike Miller, G; James, SF; Bosh, PF; Joel Anthony, C. (Or maybe Dampier.)

Player to watch: Aside from the circus atmosphere starting Sept. 27 with media day on the University of Miami campus, the most interesting X’s and O’s to examine will be Erik Spoelstra’s use of Wade and LeBron as interchangeable point guards. I expect a token go at it with Carlos Arroyo and/or Mario Chalmers at point, but ultimately Spoelstra’s best lineup will be using Wade and LeBron as interchangeable wings with either one able to initiate the offense.

Chemistry check: There won’t be many clues in the cloistered environment of training camp as to how Wade and LeBron are going to work out their all-important pecking order. But the seeds will be planted for how they divvy up the pressure, credit and blame months from now.

Circus act: The fact that the Heat have chosen a secluded Air Force base for training camp, making it temporarily inconvenient for media to besiege them, is no surprise. Even when the Heat were a .500 team and no lock to get out of the first round, they were one of the most challenging teams in the league to cover. Under Riley, they like their space and they love to control the message. The creation of this super team – as star-studded a locker room as has existed in the modern NBA – will be a daily challenge. Everywhere they go, they’ll receive the rock-star treatment. It’s legitimate to wonder if the attention, and the pressure of converting the coup of July into a championship in June, will have a cumulative effect.

On the spot: The sharing of the ball, the big shots, and the blame if things go wrong will be fascinating to watch as Wade and LeBron navigate their co-superstardom together. But at some point, someone outside the realm of the dynamic duo will have to make a big shot, a defensive stop, or a smart play at the end of a close playoff game with elimination on the line. At that moment, the spotlight will perhaps shift to Bosh, who clearly wasn’t up to that task in Toronto, or Miller, who may have to deliver a corner 3-pointer with a hand in his face at the buzzer of a Game 7.

Camp battles: Chalmers vs. Arroyo for backup point guard. Anthony, Jamaal Magloire and perhaps Dampier for starting center. Pat Riley and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy for best preseason insult.

Biggest strength: In Wade and LeBron, Miami has two players who, individually, are nearly impossible to guard. Putting both of them on the floor at the same time will be enough to make even Tom Thibodeau’s head explode. For 82 nights, and then the playoffs, the challenge for the rest of the league will be: How do you guard them? Which poison do you pick?

Glaring weakness: Size and interior presence. An asterisk goes here based on the likely addition of Dampier, who would give Miami the kind of size and length they are currently lacking with the combination of Anthony, Magloire and Howard at center.
Posted on: September 15, 2010 8:26 pm
 

Nets, Sixers add intrigue to Melo saga

One month after Carmelo Anthony’s high-powered team of advisers first began pressuring the Denver Nuggets to trade him, the superstar scorer has not wavered in his desire to be dealt, multiple sources told CBSSports.com.

“There’s no sign of reconsideration on Carmelo’s part, despite what [Denver] has publicly said,” said one of the people involved in the process.

The two sides remain locked in a stalemate over Anthony’s future while a three-year, $65 million extension offer sits untouched in front of him. While Nuggets officials – including influential adviser Bret Bearup and executive Josh Kroenke – continue to rebuff trade inquiries while hoping to repair the franchise’s relationship with Anthony, privately the team is beginning to examine which teams would have the most attractive combination of young players, draft picks and expiring contracts to complete a deal. And the team currently viewed by people close to the situation as having the most realistic chance of putting together a blockbuster, perhaps multi-team deal for Anthony is the New Jersey Nets.

“They’re working the hardest to get a deal done,” one of the sources said.

With No. 3 overall pick Derrick Favors, multiple extra draft picks, and Devin Harris, whose $8.98 million contract could be parlayed into a serviceable replacement for Anthony in a three-team trade, New Jersey has the makings of a package that would appeal to Nuggets officials, one of the people with knowledge of Denver’s strategy said. The key, according to the person, would be involving a third team to convert Harris into something the Nuggets would view as “decent replacement value” for Anthony.

That is where another team equipped with attractive assets could enter the picture, multiple sources said: the Philadelphia 76ers. New team president Rod Thorn and GM Ed Stefanski – who formerly worked together in New Jersey – could be central to constructing a deal that would compel the Nuggets to move Anthony rather than endure a season-long distraction that ends with Anthony leaving as a free agent after the season. The key pieces of the Philadelphia equation would be the expiring contracts of Jason Kapono ($6.64 million) and Willie Green ($3.98 million), a young talent such as Thaddeus Young, and Andre Iguodala, who is coming off a solid contribution to Team USA’s gold-medal performance at the FIBA World Championships. Some executives believe the Sixers would at least discuss including No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner if it meant getting Anthony, but that would defeat the purpose of going over the luxury tax to get Anthony in the first place.

Thorn drafted Favors, so that is one piece that is expected to be integral to the discussion once the Nuggets officially begin seeking trade packages for Anthony. The dropoff in talent from Anthony to Iguodala is considerable, but so is the savings; Iguodala is due $44 million over the next three seasons, compared to the $65 million Anthony would command. Two people familiar with Denver’s strategy confirmed the Nuggets would be intrigued by a deal centered around Iguodala. The Nets could sweeten any such offer with Golden State’s 2012 first-round pick and two extra second-round picks they own in the same draft.

A package sending Anthony to the Nets, Favors to Philadelphia and Iguodala to Denver is one way all of these moving parts could come together. But Thorn is said to have reservations about such a deal, which has yet to rise to the level of discussion among the teams.

The situation is complicated by the difficulty in putting enough assets in the deal to satisfy the Nuggets, who don’t want the first move of GM Masai Ujiri’s regime to be trading the team’s cornerstone. Even more crucial is the need for Anthony to indicate he’d be willing to sign an extension with the team that acquires him. It is believed that Anthony, a Brooklyn native whose wife, LaLa Vasquez, also is from there, would sign off on a deal to the Nets, who move to the New York City borough in two years. It is not clear how Anthony would feel about signing an extension with Philadelphia, a city that is halfway between his New York birthplace and the Washington, D.C., area where he grew up. The Sixers were not on Anthony’s initial list of preferred destinations, which included the Knicks, Magic, Bulls and Nets. Anthony, who is good friends with former Sixers star Allen Iverson, also is aware of how harshly Philadelphia treats its sports stars, a person with knowledge of his thinking said.

The Bulls are viewed by one source as “not a realistic candidate” due to the team’s unwillingness at this point to include Joakim Noah in the deal. The Bulls and Noah are currently negotiating an extension. The Knicks, Anthony’s first choice, are viewed by rival executives as not having enough assets to entice the Nuggets. New York has Eddy Curry’s $11.3 million expiring contract, promising big man Anthony Randolph, and swingman Wilson Chandler, but the team’s draft-pick cupboard is bare. Adding to the frustration among Nuggets officials, sources say, is that Anthony’s team has been slow to offer a comprehensive list of trade possibilities.

As the Nuggets walk the tightrope between getting value for Anthony and trying to compel him to reconsider and sign the extension, other factors are in play. Ujiri, a former Nuggets scout who was with the organization when Anthony was drafted, just lived through the nightmare of losing star Chris Bosh in Toronto. Ujiri was part of the management team that decided not to trade Bosh at the February 2010 trade deadline, and Bosh bolted to join Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in Miami. The Raptors got a trade exception and two first-round picks – small consolation for the loss of the team’s franchise player.

Which is exactly what the Nuggets are trying to avoid, one way or another.
Posted on: September 15, 2010 8:06 pm
 

Heat (who else?) front-runners for Dampier


The Miami Heat emerged Wednesday as the front-runner to land free-agent center Erick Dampier, who was released a day earlier by Charlotte in a luxury-tax move, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com.

Dampier can't officially arrange a visit with the Heat until he clears waivers, but it is believed that Heat president Pat Riley views Dampier as a key supporting piece to add to his new Big Three of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Dampier, 35, would be an upgrade over Joel Anthony and Jamaal Magloire and would fill the final missing role for Miami's championship run.

Miami can only offer Dampier the veteran's minimum of about $1.4 million, but it is believed that Dampier is open to accepting less money for the chance to compete for a championship. Among the handful of teams with the full mid-level exception of $5.8 million available, the only potential championship contender is Dallas -- and a reunion with the Mavericks is difficult to fathom. Other teams that have expressed interest are Houston, Toronto and New Jersey, with the Rockets apparently hottest in their pursuit.

The Bobcats released Dampier Wednesday to get out from under his non-guaranteed $13 million salary. Part of the concern, according to a source, was being on the hook for Dampier's salary if he got injured.
Posted on: August 3, 2010 4:58 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2010 10:46 am
 

The Big Shamrock (UPDATE)

Shaquille O'Neal is about to take his talents to South Bay -- Boston, that is. The 38-year-old, 15-time All-Star is close to agreeing to a deal with the Celtics, a person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Shaq, soon to be known as the Big Shamrock -- or, fill in your favorite nickname -- is on the verge of accepting the veteran's minimum starting at about $1.4 million, the person with knowledge of the deal said. The number of years was still being worked out Tuesday, but Comcast SportsNet-New England -- which first reported the Shaq-to-Celtics news -- said O'Neal is seeking a two-year deal. In all likelihood, the second year would be a player's option.

As Royce Young pointed out , the fit is ideal for both O'Neal and the Celtics. Shaq, who struck out in his bid for a fifth championship last season with LeBron James in Cleveland, wants one more shot with a veteran-laden, contending team. The Celtics, who already have added another O'Neal (Jermaine) to bolster their frontcourt, needed another experienced big man to help them navigate the early part of the regular season while Kendrick Perkins recovers from a knee injury sustained in the Finals against the Lakers.

Shaq had significant talks with the Hawks about bolstering their young roster with his experience, but the Celtics are a better fit. The no-nonsense, winning culture that Doc Rivers has created will be the perfect environment for Shaq to thrive with whatever abilities he has left in the tank. Based on his increased production in the playoffs, it appeared to me that Shaq had more to offer last season than former Cavs coach Mike Brown was willing to give him a chance to provide. Rivers, however, will have to wrestle with the glaring deficiency in Shaq's game at this stage of his career -- the same issue that caused Brown to skimp on his minutes last season: Shaq's defensive abilities have declined far more than his offensive talents.

Rivers will have to figure out a way to incorporate Shaq into the Celtics' team defensive concepts, a task that won't be easy with the departure of associate head coach Tom Thibodeau, architect of Boston's defense during the Big Three era. But once Perkins is back, Shaq's presence will give Rivers more flexibility with his front line in the playoffs than he's had in recent years. When he needs a basket on the block, he can go to Shaq. When the situation calls for a defensive presence, he can go with Perkins.

When he needs a free throw from either one, forget it -- but hey, nobody has a perfect plan for next season other than the Miami Heat. At least Shaq didn't wind up there.

In all seriousness, O'Neal's presence in Boston could represent the Big Antidote to Miami's Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The only glaring weakness in the Heat's rotation is at the center position, so Shaq-to-Boston makes even more sense when you consider that. And we won't have long to wait to see it happen, with the Heat and Celtics reportedly opening the 2010-11 regular season on Oct. 26 in Boston.






Posted on: July 19, 2010 2:05 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2010 4:56 pm
 

Wade apologizes for World Trade quote (UPDATE)

Saying his reference to the World Trade Center was taken "completely out of context," Heat star Dwyane Wade issued an apology of sorts Monday.

"In an interview [Sunday], I attempted to explain how some people may view the Miami Heat losing a few basketball games in a row during the upcoming season," Wade said in the statement released by his public relations team. "It appears that my reference to the World Trade Center has been either inaccurately reported or taken completely out of context. I was simply trying to say that losing a few basketball games should not be compared to a real catastrophe. While it was certainly not my intention, I sincerely apologize to anyone who found my reference to the World Trade Center to be insensitive or offensive."

Wade conducted the interview before his Summer Groove charity game at American Airlines Center. Asked about the high expectations surrounding the Heat with the addition of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Wade was quoted in a story published by AOL Fanhouse as saying the following: "If we lose a couple in a row this season, it will be like the World Trade [Center] is coming down again."

Amid immediate backlash, Fanhouse quickly republished the story with an editor's note explaining that the quote had not been transcribed accurately. The revised quote read, "There's going to be times when we lose 2-3 games in a row, and it seems like the world has crashed down. You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade is coming down again, but it's not going to be nothing but a couple basketball games."

Still an unfortunate reference, and one deserving of the clarification Wade issued Monday.

If nothing else, this incident proved to Wade that he can no longer live the care-free existence of being the lone star on an insignificant .500 team that loses in the playoffs every year. With the arrival of James and Bosh, the Heat have launched themselves into the kind of media stratosphere only experienced by the Lakers in recent years. Ever move, every word will be chronicled and scrutinized by both local and national reporters who will be descending on South Beach. Every misstep will be magnified.

Miami's Big Three are still undefeated, and already they've experienced the embarrassment of James' widely panned TV announcement -- which even drew criticism from commissioner David Stern -- and their first "I apologize if I offended anyone" controversy. No wonder Heat coach Erik Spoelstra declined interview requests Saturday during an appearance at Las Vegas Summer League, with a team PR official telling reporters that Spoelstra was not going to be addressing questions about next season for a while.

There'll be plenty of time for that.


Posted on: July 16, 2010 9:56 pm
Edited on: July 16, 2010 10:38 pm
 

Summer League Buzz

LAS VEGAS -- If members of LeBron James' entourage get hired by the Miami Heat, the NBA wouldn't rule out opening an investigation into possible salary-cap circumvention, a high-ranking official familiar with the league's thinking told CBSSports.com Friday.

While league officials are not actively pursuing any tampering charges related to James' decision to sign with the Heat -- and, in fact, have received no complaints that would trigger such a probe -- it wouldn't be surprising to see an investigation related to any jobs given to people in James' circle of advisers. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the league would not need a team to lodge a complaint to launch such an investigation.

In a detailed account of the Heat's nearly two-year effort to recruit James to join Dwyane Wade in Miami, Yahoo! Sports on Friday quoted an NBA front office executive who said he wants the league to examine whether Heat president Pat Riley promised jobs or other benefits to members of James' camp as part of his recruiting pitch.

 “You can’t promise jobs or preferential services outside of a contract or a job for a friend," the team executive told Yahoo! Sports. "If that’s part of the deal, it’s a violation.”

The penalties for such side deals designed to circumvent salary-cap rules are severe. In 2000, the Minnesota Timberwolves were fined $3.5 million and lost three draft picks after disclosure of a written deal with free agent Joe Smith. The arrangement called for Smith to play under three consecutive one-year contracts, after which it was agreed that the team would use his Bird rights to sign him to a multi-year deal to make up for the money he'd left on the table. Owner Glen Taylor and then-GM Kevin McHale agreed to leaves of absence in order to get back two other draft picks that had been taken away as part of the penalty. In addition to forfeiture of draft picks, league rules call for a maximum fine of $5 million, voiding the contract of the player in question, and up to a one-year suspension of any team officials involved.

One impediment to prosecuting such a case against the Heat -- if and when members of James' camp are hired for any jobs -- is that it will be difficult to prove it is any different from what the Cavs did to appease James when he played for them. One member of James' circle of friends, Randy Mims, was employed by the Cavs as a "player liaison." The hiring was never investigated, and the Cavs were never subject to any punishment for the arrangement.

__

While the Hawks have ruled out paying luxury tax to sign Shaquille O'Neal -- or any other free agent, for that matter -- the organization hasn't shut the door completely on bringing Shaq to Atlanta, a person familiar with the team's thinking told CBSSports.com. If O'Neal were to lower his asking price from the mid-level exception -- starting at about $5.8 million -- to the bi-annual exception of about $1.9 million, the Hawks would be interested in exploring such a signing. Atlanta would be able to pay O'Neal the bi-annual exception -- or a portion of its mid-level -- and avoid paying luxury tax. But the current ownership group has never paid luxury tax and doesn't plan to begin paying it now. Also, the Hawks haven't discussed -- nor are they interested in -- a sign-and-trade arrangement with the Cavs that would cost them a piece of their young core, sources say.

__

The Raptors continue to explore several potential trade scenarios involving point guard Jose Calderon, who was going to be dealt to the Bobcats earlier this week before Charlotte owner Michael Jordan backed out of the deal. Interest from potential trade partners has been lukewarm, according to a person with knowledge of the talks. ... Wizards assistant GM Tommy Sheppard and Kings assistant GM Jason Levien will interview for the Hornets' GM opening, two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com. Hornets president Hugh Weber already has spoken with Spurs executive Dell Demps and plans to speak with former Trail Blazers execs Kevin Pritchard and Tom Penn, as well as former Suns exec David Griffin, sources said. Weber, according to one of the sources, is hoping to have the process wrapped up quickly, perhaps as soon as Sunday. ... Demps has spoken with Suns officials about that team's opening for a personnel man to work under incoming team president Lon Babby, a former player 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