Tag:Ben Golliver
Posted on: February 14, 2012 2:16 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 2:33 pm

Report: Cuban bashes Stern for Chris Paul trade

Mark Cuban questions David Stern's Chris Paul trade. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver

The Los Angeles Clippers added Chris Paul and became an instant contender; the New Orleans Hornets traded away Chris Paul and have the worst record in the Western Conference, by far.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wants the world to know that the league-owned Hornets, with NBA commissioner David Stern calling the shots as de-facto owner, screwed up in making that trade.

ESPNDallas.com provides Cuban's trade analysis, in which he argues the Hornets should have simply held on to Paul for the duration of his current contract rather than trade him away to the Clippers after previously discussing a 3-way deal with the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets.
"You're better off just taking the cap room, or whatever," Cuban said.

"I don't think it was about the Lakers, per se," Cuban said before the game. "I think it was just the way they did the deal, which was ridiculous. I don't think it was about which team. I think it was the fact that, even with the Clippers, we just went through this whole (collective bargaining agreement) and said the incumbent team still has the advantage and then the team the league owns (wimps) out. And look how it's worked out for them.

"Bad management gets you bad results."

It's impossible to believe that Cuban actually believes his own cap room argument but it's an absolute certainty that he enjoys reading the "Cuban blasts Stern over management decision" headline on every NBA website. That's probably endless amusement for him.

The recent case studies in handling disgruntled superstars all point to getting maximum value in trade rather than risking flight in free agency. Ask the Toronto Raptors if they could re-do the Chris Bosh departure. Ask the Cleveland Cavaliers if they could re-do the LeBron James departure. Ask the Utah Jazz if they are pleased with the return they got for Deron Williams, who is holding up the future of the New Jersey Nets as he contemplates his next move. Ask the Denver Nuggets if they're constant with the ransom they got for Carmelo Anthony at last year's trade deadline.

There's no question that Stern was operating from the right playbook in moving Paul, who had clearly had enough with the dysfunction and ownership questions in New Orleans. Look no further than the Cavaliers for additional proof. Do you think owner Dan Gilbert is happier with getting nothing but a trade exception in James' departure or getting the No. 1 overall pick and Kyrie Irving, his next franchise player, by trading guard Mo Williams to the Clippers last season? Obviously, getting the rebuilding value back is key for a struggling team that needs to drastically change course.

In addition to a likely lottery pick coming over from the Clippers, the Hornets still hold matching rights on Eric Gordon, who has star potential, and they will have a top-5 pick based on their own performance. That's a potential up-and-coming "Big 3" in New Orleans as soon as next season, depending on what happens with Gordon in free agency and how the lottery balls fall. Al-Farouq Aminu, also acquired in the trade, isn't worth writing home about, but he's probably worth at least a mention here. Meanwhile, if Paul walks, all New Orleans has is its own pick plus cap space to chase free agents that don't want to play for the Western Conference's worst team. The choice is here.

If Cuban's larger argument was that the management decision to trade a superstar for parts continues a bad precedent that was supposed to be fixed during the lockout labor negotiations, he's right, of course. The system was changed but it wasn't entirely overhauled, and Stern and the Hornets had to act in their own self-interest, not take a stand for the greater good of the league. The risk/reward calculus was crystal clear given Paul's years of frustration and the weak Hornets roster that would have surrounded him this year. He had to go as soon as possible. 

The conclusion that Cuban likely wants you to take from his comments is not that Stern, the owner, is an idiot for the trade. It's that the NBA's system is still broken because not even Stern, the commissioner, trusts its new mechanisms for retaining franchise-player talent. That's an excellent point, although everyone seems to have been acting under that assumption since the first day that the lockout was lifted.

Posted on: February 14, 2012 1:24 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 1:29 pm

Bulls G Derrick Rose (back) out Tuesday vs. Kings

Derrick Rose will miss Tuesday's game against the Sacramento Kings. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver 

The comeback will wait for Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said on Tuesday that his starting point guard did not participate in the team's shootaround and will not play against the Sacramento Kings at the United Center on Tuedsay night. 
"Each day, he’s feeling better," Thibodeau said. "But it’s still not where we want it to be. We’re going to be patient and see how it goes."

"You look at what the doctors are saying and how he’s feeling," Thibodeau said. "What we’ve been told from the start of this is he’s day-to-day. That’s how we’re approaching it. We’ll continue to get the information, study it and make a good decision.
Over the weekend, we noted that Rose had visited a back specialist, who diagnosed him with "lower back spasms" but said that Rose had no structural damage in his back. He has since been listed as day-to-day by the team.

Rose, 23, is the NBA's reigning MVP and was voted by the fans to the starting lineup of the 2012 All-Star Game. He's averaging 22.0 points, 7.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 35.5 minutes per game this season for Chicago. 

The Kings game will be the third consecutive game that Rose has missed, as he did not play during a Bulls win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday and a Bulls loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday. The game against the Kings marks the beginning of a 5-game homestand leading into the All-Star break. Chicago will host Boston on Thursday, the New Jersey Nets on Saturday, the Atlanta Hawks next Monday and the Milwaukee Bucks next Wedneday.

The Bulls currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings, with a record of 23-7.

RELATED: CBSSports.com's Matt Moore thinks the Bulls should take it slow with Derrick Rose.
Posted on: February 14, 2012 1:09 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 4:06 pm

NBA Power Rankings: Breakdown, Takedown Vol. 9

Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver

The Spurs have plenty to smile about as they ride a 7-game winning streak. (Getty Images)

The 2011-2012 NBA season continues. Here's the ninth weekly installment of CBSSports.com's NBA Power Rankings by Eye On Basketball's Matt Moore.

What did he get right? What did he get wrong? We're here to break it down and take it down.

1. Too High: Los Angeles Clippers at No. 4. You might be thinking, "Didn't I already read this before?" The Clippers were too high last week and the Spurs too low. And wouldn't you know it, they both moved up this week. The Clippers are a fine team in the West, but fourth best in the league? Even after losing Chauncey Billups for the year? I mean, Kenyon Martin was a nice pickup but not THAT nice. It just doesn't make sense to me to place the Clippers above the Spurs, or really even the Mavericks for that matter, especially after losing a top starter. -- RY

2. Too Low: San Antonio Spurs at No. 5. The Spurs have won seven straight, risen to second in the West and are getting maybe their best player back. It's not that they're too low, it's that they should be in the conversation for the top three right now. Putting them at No. 5 is fine, I suppose, but having them behind the Clippers is criminal. I wouldn't even argue with you if you wanted to bump them ahead of Oklahoma City right now. -- RY

3. Most Overrated: Milwaukee Bucks at No. 19. It's not easy to be considered overrated when you're ranked No. 19 out of 30 but that's the case when you're the ninth best team in an Eastern Conference which goes -- maybe -- five teams deep. The Brandon Jennings distraction, the Stephen Jackson distraction, the Andrew Bogut injury, it's all bad. The Bucks are just outside the playoff picture, but would be the third worst team in the Western Conference right now, better only than the New Orleans Hornets and Sacramento Kings. By season's end, the Kings would probably pass them. 2-5 for their last seven, Milwaukee's recent wins have come against the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers. The March schedule will kill this team. -- BG

4. Most Overlooked: Dallas Mavericks at No. 9. A 4-game winning streak over Western Conference foes -- highlighted by a late Dirk Nowitzki winner against the Portland Trail Blazers in double overtime -- was all the reminder anyone needed that this team will be a major factor come playoff time. Expect them to keep getting overlooked. They might just have the toughest lead-up to the All-Star break of anyone in the league coming up -- with games against the Nuggets, 76ers, Knicks, Celtics and Lakers over the next eight days -- so there's a good chance they don't separate from the West pack until March or April. Even if the breakout never comes, this will be a feared first round match-up and the early-season questions will be a thing of the distant past. -- BG

5. Sure Thing: Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 3. How do you know that you're a really good team? You spend your week on a ridiculous road-trip that includes four games in five nights in some of the toughest buildings the NBA has to offer. You emerge 3-1 -- with wins over Portland, Golden State and Utah -- and yet all anyone wants to talk about is the loss, a close one to Sacramento on national television, with the fanbase fighting to keep its franchise in town. Watching those four Western Conference teams get up for the Thunder made it clear that OKC's reputation as the team to beat in the West is firmly established and agreed upon. Watching OKC match energy with energy on the road only underscored the point. -- BG  

6. Wild Card: New York Knicks at No. 15. So, about that whole Linsanity thing. The funny thing about it is, the Knicks have now won five straight and are back in the Eastern playoff picture. And that's with Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony returning. Which is what makes them so intriguing. Are they going to lose their mojo? Will Lin get marginalized? Or will it all be a perfect marriage? The Knicks could be rocketing up to the top 10, or the bottom could fall out any second. -- RY
Posted on: February 11, 2012 10:31 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 2:08 pm

Knicks G Jeremy Lin hits game-deciding free throw

Posted by Ben Golliver

New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin did it again, drawing a foul and then hitting the game-deciding free throw against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center on Saturday night.

With the game tied at 98 with less than 10 seconds remaining, the Knicks cleared out for Lin at the top, and he drove to the basket amidst a swarm of defenders, drawing the foul on Timberwolves guard Luke Ridnour with 4.9 seconds remaining. 

Lin missed the first free throw, but made the second one to put New York up for good, 99-98. The Knicks went on to win, 100-98, after the Timberwolves couldn't convert on their final two offensive possessions. The win marked New York's fifth consecutive victory.

Lin finished with 20 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 steals on 8-for-24 shooting in 39 minutes for New York. Timberwolves rookie point guard Ricky Rubio finished with 12 points, 8 assists, 2 rebounds and 3 steals on 5-for-15 shooting in 35 minutes. The performance comes one night after Lin hung a career-high 38 points against the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.

Here's the video of Knicks guard Jeremy Lin drawing a foul and hitting the game-winning free throw against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Posted on: February 11, 2012 6:11 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 2:10 pm

Report: LeBron in heated exchange with heckler?

LeBron James reportedly got into it with a fan on Friday night. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver

The unsubstantiated rumor that simply will not die has reportedly prompted a profanity-laced verbal exchange between Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James and a fan of the Washington Wizards.

James and the Heat defeated the Wizards, 106-89, at the Verizon Center on Friday night. As James put together 18 points, 9 assists and 2 rebounds in the victory, a fan allegedly began making loud comments about a rumored 2010 relationship between James' mother and then-Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Delonte West

Deadspin.com notes an NBCWashington.com report with details of the exchange.
LeBron just got into a verbal altercation with a fan. Spoke to the fan. Wanted to give Heat PR time to comment on the LeBron fan altercation. I’ll update you if they end up doing so, but here’s the story.

I saw a Wizards fan and LeBron in a heated conversation on the sideline during the game Friday night. I spoke to the fan and got his side. 

Fan Bob Moore made a comment to LeBron about Delonte West and LeBron’s mom… [According] to Moore, LeBron said "The only reason you talk s*** is because you know I can’t come off the court right now and beat your a**." 

Also according to Moore, LeBron continued "But if I had a free pass, I’d kick your a** right now." Moore replied "I’m right here baby. Let’s go" before security stepped in.
James' behavior runs the entire spectrum from "role model" to "insufferable," but the strong temptation here is to give him a pass. This isn't the first time James has reportedly been in this type of situation and it won't be the last. He surely feels like the reasonable, "If you disrespect my mother in public, any response is fair game" argument is in play here. Sure, he's a global brand and a "King," but he's a person, too. Defending the virtue of one's mother is an inalienable human right.

Should James be held to a higher standard of conduct than that, given his level of fame and the scrutiny that follows him wherever he goes? Sure, in an ideal world he would ignore it, brush it off, or let security handle it. The heckler wins this one because he got James to engage with him, but at least James leaves the situation knowing that he stood up for his mother.

Even so, if you're the Heat, you respectfully request that James inform you first of future fan comments so that an exchange like this doesn't wind up caught on video and posted to YouTube, where it could do some serious damage to his image if viewed out of context.
Posted on: February 11, 2012 5:46 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 2:12 pm

J.R. Smith to return to USA from China this week

J. R. Smith expects to return from China this week. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver

Get ready, America, he's about to be our problem again.

Former Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith, now an unrestricted free agent, said this weekend that he will return to the United States, after playing in the Chinese Basketball Association during the NBA lockout, on Wednesday.

Smith announced the news on his @TheRealJRSmith Twitter account: "Ladies [and] Gentleman I am happy to tell you my return to the United States is [official]! I will be home [February] 15, 2012! #Hyped!"

An explosive scorer and fearless shot-taker, Smith, 26, averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 24.9 minutes per game off of Denver's bench last season. 

Smith signed to play for the Zhejiang Wanma Cyclones during the lockout, inking a 1-year deal worth a reported $3 million back in September. The contract did not include an NBA opt-out, meaning Smith was stuck with Zhejiang until their season ended.

According to Asia-Basket.com, Smith is averaging 35.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists for Zhejiang this season. Smith's scoring average was tops in the CBA this season but multiple incidents involving his sister and girlfriend getting into altercations with fans at his games became major international headlines.

Sportando.net reported this week that Zhejiang is now mathematically eliminated from playoff contention in the CBA, so all of that is in the past. Had Smith's team qualified for the 3-round playoff format, he could have been stuck in China through the end of March.

Smith's Twitter profile description now includes a list of NBA teams he could sign with: the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers. The Knicks are generally considered the odds-on favorites to land him but he's been linked to a bunch of teams in rumors.

On Friday night, Smith tweeted: "Got a few interesting texts after the NY vs LA game!" The Knicks, thanks to a career-high 38 points from guard Jeremy Lin, defeated the Lakers, 92-85, at Madison Square Garden.

Hat tip: HoopsHype.com
Posted on: February 11, 2012 4:48 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 2:13 pm

Cavs F Varejao (wrist fracture) out indefinitely

Anderson Varejao has sustained a broken wrist. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver

The hard knock life continues for Cleveland Cavaliers big man Anderson Varejao. 

The Cavaliers informed the media via press release on Saturday that an MRI revealed that Varejao fractured his right wrist this week. He will be sidelined indefinitely. 
Cavaliers forward/center Anderson Varejao received a follow-up exam and MRI on his injured right wrist today at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Sports Health with Dr. Thomas Graham and Dr. Tom Anderson. The injury occurred during last night’s Cavaliers game against the Milwaukee Bucks at The Q in Cleveland with 9:01 remaining in the third quarter. Varejao did not return to play the remainder of the game.

The results of today’s MRI revealed a non-displaced fracture of the wrist. He is now listed as Out and a timeline for his return to action will be established next week after further testing and examination is conducted at Cleveland Clinic. His status will be updated as appropriate.
Varejao, 29, appeared in just 31 games last season after a torn tendon in his leg required season-ending surgery in January 2011

Thanks in large part to Varejao and star rookie point guard Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers are just outside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, with a surprising 10-15 record that put them in tenth place in the East standings. An extended absence from Varejao kills their playoff hopes, as he was Cleveland's only true big man playing meaningful minutes. Cavaliers coach Byron Scott will likely elect to fill the minutes void by offering more time to 2011 lottery pick Tristan Thompson

Varejao was averaging 10.8 points, a career-high 11.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals in 31.4 minutes per game this season. Through Friday, he was the NBA's No. 1 offensive rebounder, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Posted on: February 11, 2012 2:51 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 2:17 pm

Hawks F Josh Smith miffed by All-Star snub

Josh Smith is upset by his All-Star snubbing. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver

No matter how many times NBA players, coaches and analysts remind the world that the All-Star voting process is "all politics," snubbed players with legit candidacies still get bent out of shape over not being selected.

This year's prime example: Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith, who is averaging 15.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.4 steals while shooting 46.7 percent from the field in 34.4 minutes a night. The Hawks are currently 18-9, good for fourth in the Eastern Conference. That's a strong, strong resume, but Smith was left off the final Eastern Conference All-Star team in favor of guys like teammate Joe Johnson, Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, Philadelphia 76ers forward Andre Iguodala and Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce.  

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution captured Smith's predictable explosion here and here.
"I guess I don't know the right people or kiss enough [butt]."

“You’ve got to factor in there is a lot of politics involved in the All-Star selection,” Smith said Friday. “Once you get that it’s really about politics, then nothing really surprises you. I call it ‘Nothing But Associates,’ NBA. It’s all who you know.”

“I can’t really point a finger and blame anybody because, at the end of the day, when you leave it up to certain people that still have ties to their agents, [and] players in this game today probably [are] just putting in a bid over the phone, or however they do it,” he said. “You have to factor that in.”
Smith finds himself at a familiar crossroads, one that faced Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge when he got snubbed last season. Both players stand no chance of being selected as starters by the fans, and are thus at the mercy of the league's coaches to select them. Players in that situation can continue to rage against the system and hope that at some point their play is so sensational that the coaches will be forced to vote them in on merit, or they can increase their odds by making small concessions to the system, getting their hands a little bit dirty in the political game.

For the private Aldridge, that meant opening a Twitter account, doing far more interviews -- national and local -- than he had done before, opening up about his mother's battle with cancer, and being supported by his coach (who lobbied for him) and organization (who produced Beats By Dre Headphones and sent them out to the other coaches and national media members). A little bribery goes a long way in political situations, obviously. 

Smith is entering his prime after getting slapped with the "immature" tag early in his career. He's absolutely right: On talent, he is an All-Star. But he plays on a balanced, good-but-not-great, off-the-radar team and that makes it difficult for him to be selected because he's battling his own fan-friendlier teammates, like Johnson and center Al Horford, for selection year after year. He's also constantly going to be in a dogfight with the second best player on the East's elite teams for one of those finals spots. 

Put it together, and Smith is facing a stacked deck. But a political consultant would look at this situation and see nothing but opportunity, given the high level and consistency of Smith's play over the last five years. Smith's story starts with winning, as he is one of the league's top 2-way players and the Hawks are headed for their fifth straight playoff appearance. It continues with his evolution and maturity as a player, a story he could tell -- through gritted teeth, surely -- in a few well-placed media interviews, where Smith could give the credit to his coach(es) and offer a candid personal vignette about the turning point when life in the NBA world "clicked" for him. That stuff sounds corny, and it is, but it also works, and it would be more than enough to build some buzz these days.

The question facing Smith is whether going down that road is an acceptable compromise or whether he would prefer to be totally annexed from the "Nothing But Associates" culture. All-Star Weekend is a giant circus seeking performers to help sell the story. Note the words "circus," "performers" and "sell," none of which jives particularly well with Smith's brash, take-me-as-I-am style. Again, this is up to Smith. The snubbing can be avoided in the future, but it will take some higher-level campaigning.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com