Posted on: October 1, 2010 9:30 am

Shootaround 10.1.10: BIG

Teams that didn't win big, Philly's bigs need to come up big, and Jefferson just is big, all in today's Shootaround. Posted by Matt Moore

So we always debate the best championship teams. But what about the best teams that didn't win a title ? Dime took a look at those squads and added the 08-09 Cavs. It's hard to imagine that team holding up over time as we look back at Mo Williams' and Antawn Jamison's careers. The 2002 Sacramento Kings, though? That was a pretty great team. One objection? The 2007 Dallas Mavericks need to be on that list. Had the Mavericks not drawn the Warriors in the first round, it's hard to see how Cuban wouldn't be coveting his ring.

A Sonics fan tells Kings fans to pray , because the NBA doesn't care. It should be amended, though to "Pray, because the NBA doesn't care as long as you continually vote down measures for new stadiums. I'm not saying you should have to pay for new stadiums. I'm saying as long as you refeuse to, you open yourself up to getting Thunder'd. There's a reason Orlando fans are going to be enjoying the Amway Center this season while Sonics fans enjoy the Seahawks this fall.

A great feature on DeMarcus Cousins and his family history . There's so much talk about Cousins being a problem child, but he hasn't been in trouble since the tenth grade. I've never understood how a kid that hasn't had trouble in four years since he was a young teen is somehow a huge concern. Everyone's going to be regretting passing on Cousins when he and Reke are running the pick and roll for years.

The Daniel Orton era is pointing toward bustville. After being considered a reach to begin with, then getting worked over in Summer League, Orton will miss the entire preseason with a knee injury . Orton needs to spend time in the D-League, but the Magic almost never assign their players, which only increases the odds that Orton will flame out.

Speaking of big man injuries, Tiago Splitter tweaked his right leg yesterday (via Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears).

Sixers president Rod Thorn says their success is dependent on their bigs . Elton Brand is specifically pointed out in the excellent piece by SI's Chris Mannix, but Mareese Speights also needs to stay healthy and take steps into becoming a legit power forward. It's time for him to capitalize on that youthful potential and great per-minute numbers.

Take note of this. It may just be pillow talk. But Eric Spoelstra says that the unselfish play necessary to share the ball for the Heat is already there. That's really relevant for a team with such high usage. You need to be able to operate as an actual functioning offense so that you don't wind up looking like an All-Star team. You know. The kind that winds up with the ball off-court more than Anna Kournikova (remember her?).

International superstar Dirk Nowitzki? He's not so much a fan of the goaltending rule change being proposed .

Kobe's going to get some run in the international exhibition games . Because he's a freak of nature with no "off" button. There isn't another player who if they were at Bryant's level would wnat to play in these games with the injuries he's still recovering from. The man is more driven than any human being alive.

Al Jefferson may have showed up out of shape , but Jerry Sloan a. isn't pointing him out specifically in discussions of players being out of shape and b.) apparently doesn't look like he's out of shape . It'll be interesting to see how this plays out and if he gets off on a bad foot with Jerry Sloan. Patient fatherly figure that he is.
Posted on: September 28, 2010 6:35 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2010 6:39 pm

Evan Turner sounds upbeat on his first day

Sixers rook talks to CBSSports.com on his first day of school camp, thinks he'll play more at guard than forward.
Posted by Matt Moore

CBSSports.com's Lauren Shehadi talked to Sixers rookie Evan Turner after practice today and the Sixers rookie sounds all cheery and upbeat. We call this "the before video."

A few tidbits here.
  • Immediately, the fact that Lou Williams had taken Turner under his wing stands out, as that's not exactly the best way for a new kid to get acquainted. But maybe that's a good introduction for the kid to how business works in the NBA.
  • He says he thinks he'll spend more time at guard with Jrue (Holiday) which is a comfort. Turner doesn't have the frame to be able to guard wings in the NBA and needs to spend his time on the perimeter. Andre Iguodala's overall game is better suited to those tasks.
Posted on: September 28, 2010 5:13 pm

The incredible shrinking Brand

Sixers forward has slimmed down considerably.
Posted by Matt Moore

Elton Brand has becom the kind of albatross contract teams dread having. At times not even cracking the starting lineup last season, Brand has plummeted into irrelevance since signing as a free agent in Philadelphia. Elton Brand used to be a monster, a franchise cornerstone. Now he's just a big contract for an older, out of shape player unable to contribute to the level he needs to.

Or... maybe not?

NBA.com's John Schuhmann reports that Brand has shown up for camp at 254 pounds, a significant weight loss that should increase his mobility. New head coach Doug Collins gave Brand a goal of 255 when they met this summer, and Brand has met that goal. It's a huge step for a player whose mobility has been severely limited by his balooning size the past few seasons. Brand suffered an achilles injury in 2007 and never has really recovered, despite signing as a free agent in Philly in 2008, shunning the Clippers who drafted him.

Brand, next to Marreese Speights, could give the Sixers a huge boost if he can contribute with even a slight improvement this season. Additionally, the better he plays, the easier it might be for them to move him which would help in their rebuilding process.

A resurgent Elton Brand? Too much to hope for? Hey, that's what training camp's for.

Posted on: September 27, 2010 12:26 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 5:07 pm

MeloDrama Update: Media day looms

As the Carmelo Anthony situation continues to unfold (or not, depending on your view), we'll keep you up to date on the developments with our MeloDrama Updates. Buckle up, kids. The Hello-Melo Train is leaving the station.
Posted by Matt Moore

Here's the latest around the web as what is considered D-Day for the Nuggets approaches.
  • Our own Ken Berger reports that Anthony may not be in attendance today for Media Day. That's a scenario described by a source as one that will set the Nuggets into "disaster mode." Marc Stein folllows with word that even if Melo is in attendance, he may not talk to the media . That would allow him to send a message to the Nuggets without getting fined, which would happen in force if he were to "hold out" from training camp. The league responds quickly and strongly when players go that route. KB says he predicts Melo will arrive for media day as long as he's a Nugget. He's been careful to avoid things that could damage his public image.
  • Talks with Golden State are "going nowhere " according to Marc Stein. Woj reports that the four-team discussed last Friday has gained some momentum . A lot of this may be various pieces waiting to see if anyone breaks and offers more. For example, New Jersey waiting for Charlotte to break and offer Augustin, or Denver hoping someone else comes in with a huge offer. Everyone wants to "win" the trade naturally, which is what makes these things more complicated than sometimes they need to be.
  • NBA FanHouse's Sam Amick reports that former Nets talked to Carmelo over the weekend and said that Newark is a long ways away from New York, essentially warning him off of Jersey . Jason Kidd was among those that conveyed that message, which just seems cruel, if honest. Amick says that New York is just giddy about this development.
  • This whole thing has to be excruciating for teams trying to drag Anthony out of Denver due to Denver's considerable leverage. They've got the new CBA working against Melo, their rights to him, and a lack of albatross contracts that they have to ditch. They clear considerable space this summer with Kenyon Martin coming off the books. In short, their biggest concern is how this could impact ticket sales and set back their progress. But then again, if they trade Melo, they're likely looking at a rebuilding process regardless. That might include Chauncey Billups.
  • The looming man behind the curtain, William Wesley, who Ken Berger reported was behind these talks in the first place, has also visited with Jay-Z in New Jersey according to KB. That's a pretty clear indication of the split going on. Then again, Wesley was eventually removed from the discussion of LeBron James, and you have to wonder if he'll be similarly cut out because Melo wants to wait for New York or Chicago, via free agency or trade. There's also a lot of talk about Chris Paul eventually being involved in forming a new Big 3 wherever Melo goes, with Amar'e Stoudemire being swapped out for Brook Lopez if he winds up in Brooklyn.
We'll keep you updated as the Melo-drama continues. Somebody get the man a pink wig.

Posted on: September 16, 2010 5:00 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2010 10:26 am

Andre Iguodala looks like Bowser from Mario Bros.

(Just play the Mario Bros. music in your head as you read this post.)
Posted by Matt Moore

You know, Iggy's living nicely. Andre Iguodala was a huge part of Team USA's success in the FIBA World Championships this year. His defense, rebounding, and all-around support play were major contributions to the effort that netted Team USA the gold. He's in a new commercial series that idolizes the greatest for an NBA video game. And hey, speaking of video games, now he gets to look like one! Iguodala dropped this picture on his Twitter account today to show off his new haircut:

Not bad. Very... sharp. You know, like spikes. Kind of like... Bowser!

I very much look forward to Igoudala spitting fireballs at a jumping Derrick Rose (an obvious Mario choice; Andrea Bargnani is Luigi, naturally) this season. Just don't go Go Kart racing, Iggy. You're slow. Really, really slow.

(HT: Liberty Ballers , Bowser image courtesy of SmashBros.com )
Posted on: August 11, 2010 11:39 pm

With Thorn in place, is Stefanski on hot seat?

Posted by Matt Moore

Rod Thorn is definitely retiring. At some point. Maybe. We're pretty sure when he gets to heaven he'll be trading up to get a better cloud.

Less than two months after he was released from the New Jersey Nets organization, Rod Thorn has been hired by the Philadelphia 76ers as team presidents, as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports and confirmed by our own Ken Berger of CBSSports.com . Ed Stefanski will remain with the 76ers as General Manager. But the question is, for how long?

Stefanski was brought in to replace Billy King, who now ironically is the GM in New Jersey. And as KB writes, Stefanski and Thorn are expected to work side by side:

"Thorn and Stefanski working side-by-side, as they did for several years in New Jersey, makes perfect sense.

Yahoo! Sports first reported Thorn's hiring in Philly, which gives the Sixers -- and Stefanski -- a strong and like-minded voice in a front office that frequently is burdened with the overbearing ownership of Ed Snider and Peter Luukko."

But even as the move seems to indicate at best a reformed power base for Stefanski, and at worst a unified front inside management, there are going to be questions. When Stefanski took over, the Sixers seemed to be headed towards contention with a young core of athletic, versatile players. Instead, they've stalled, then regressed, spiraling into mediocrity last season before being saved by the fortune of a No. 2 overall lottery coup. As a result, several coaches have lost their jobs while Stefanski has remained in place.

Now with the more experienced, higher-profile Thorn in place, tehre will be questions about how much Thorn will be involved in the day-to-day operations of the club, and what role Stefanski finds himself in. Thorn may provide cover for Stefanski, but if Evan Turner doesn't light the league up, or if the assets gained from the trade of Samuel Dalembert's high-value expiring contract don't work out, we may see a move away from Stefanski as the face of the club and towards Thorn.

It has been a very musical-chairs-y day.
Posted on: August 2, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2010 5:35 pm

Offseason Reviews: Atlantic Division

Posted by Matt Moore

With only a handful of free agents left on the market and with summer league over, we thought we'd take a look at how teams in the Central Division did over the summer in negotiating their moves.


Boston Celtics

Added: Ray Allen (re-signed), Paul Pierce (re-signed), Marquis Daniels (re-signed), Jermaine O'Neal (free agency), Nate Robinson (re-signed), Von Wafer (free agency), Avery Bradley (draft), Luke Harangody (draft)
Lost: Tony Allen (free agency), Shelden Williams (free agency)

Philosophy: "Ain't broke. Ain't fixing."

We thought they were too old to win last year, and they pushed the Lakers to seven games, and had a lead deep in the second half. Shows what we know. So the Celtics have rolled the dice with the same core again, another year older, another year slower, another year wiser, and for all intents and purposes, have changed almost nothing about their approach in a year.

Sure, adding Jermaine O'Neal gives them a fourth big to slot in, and will give Kendrick Perkins the time he needs to recover from surgery. But after dancing with the idea of trading Ray Allen, the Celtics re-signed the sharpshooter, gave Paul Pierce a new contract and for better or worse, have decided this is the ship they're going to sea with. It's had a ton of success, and obviously they feel that if they were able to go as deep as they did this year, there's no reason to believe they can't do the same this year.

The critics will add that Chicago, New York, and most especially Miami improved, but the Celtics will respond by saying those teams haven't proven anything. There's only one team that matters to Boston, and that team has the ring. Until then, they will consider the rest of the East nothing but pretenders. As long as they stay healthy, they have that right.

Grade: B

New Jersey Nets

Added: Derrick Favors (draft), Damion James (draft), Anthony Morrow (free agency), Jordan Farmar (free agency), Travis Outlaw (free agency), Johan Petro (free agency)
Lost: Tony Battie (free agency), Keyon Dooling (free agency)

Philosophy: "In search of the meaning of Plan B'"

Man, what a letdown. They thought they had a shot at it all. Drafting John Wall. Signing his good friend, LeBron James. Building an empire in Brooklyn. Capitalizing on new owner Mikhail Prokhorov's wealth and power, minority owner Jay-Z's fame, and LeBron's game. It was all set up perfectly. And then one series of disasters after another occurred, and the Nets fell flat. Didn't even walk out with Carlos Boozer. Whiffed on every single one of the top flank free agents.

Don't get me wrong, Anthony Morrow is the steal of the summer. Great shooter, has upside, physical tools to be a better defender than he was in Golden State (like every Warrior). But Jordan Farmar means almost nothing to them. Derrick Favors is so raw he comes with a side of wasabi and ginger, and Johan Petro is... Johan Petro. Even with Travis Outlaw it's hard to see a plan in place, much less the execution of that plan. This team won't be as bad as it was last year, because it's almost impossible for them to. But it's hard to see them being much better.

Grade: F

New York Knicks

Added: Amar'e Stoudemire (sign-and-trade), Raymond Felton (free agency), Kelenna Azubuike (trade), Anthony Randolph (trade, Ronny Turiaf (trade), Timofey Mozgov (free agency), Andy Rautins (draft), Landry Fields (draft), Jerome Jordan (draft)
Lost: Chris Duhon (free agency), Al Harrington (free agency), Eddie House (free agency), Sergio Rodriguez (free agency), David Lee (sign-and-trade)

Philosophy: "Express yourself."

Stylin' and profilin', the Knicks are coming to town. This isn't the super-team Knicks fans hoped for, not even the contending team many expected given their cap space and market availability. In the end, the damage done by Isiah Thomas was just too severe (and sending him as your final LeBron pitcher? What's up with that?) But the Knicks' failures to land one of the Big 3 did mean they were able to concoct this roster, which is inconsistent, underdeveloped, and absolutely 100% interesting.

The idea of an Anthony Randolph-Amar'e Stoudemire pick and roll set is enough to send nouveau basketball philosophers into some sort of apoplectic shock. Meanwhile, Kelenna Azubuike gives D'Antoni the shooter he's been missing, and Turiaf brings some punch. This roster isn't perfect, far from it, but it's stocked with interesting, fun players, who can get up and down in D'Antoni's system. New York basketball may not be contending again, but it's going to be interesting. And that's enough to give Knicks fans what they want, to be relevant again. The real rebuilding starts here, and it's all around Amar'e Stoudemire. We're finally going to learn just how good Stoudemire is without Steve Nash.

Grade: B

Philadelphia 76ers

Added: Evan Turner (draft), Tony Battie (free agency), Spencer Hawes (trade), Andres Nocioni (trade)

Samuel Dalembert (trade)

"Making fusion with carwrecks."

If Evan Turner isn't a Top-5 player in the NBA in five years, this year looks way worse. Switching coaches, the Sixers still held back from a complete blow-up, not moving Andre Iguodala or Elton Brand over the offseason. Brand's value is non-existent, but he's going to have to go if the team wants to completely start over. Meanwhile, Ed Stefanski changed coaches to Doug Collins, who's been broadcasting for quite a while, and traded Samuel Dalembert for Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni, or "the Big White Cap Blanket." The Sixers may have hit a home run when they lucked into the No.2 overall pick in Turner, but if the lack of explosiveness he showed in summer league is more than just a lack of offseason conditioning, things could get worse before they get better in Philly.

Grade: C

Toronto Raptors

Added:   Ed Davis (draft), Solomon Alabi (draft), Linas Kleiza (free-agency), Amir Johnson (re-signed), Leandro Barbosa (trade), Dwayne Jones (draft)
Lost:   Chris Bosh (sign-and-trade), Antoine Wright (free agency), Hedo Turkoglu (trade)

"No way out."

The temptation will be to grade Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors organization for the mistakes of last summer, which came to hurt them last season and this summer. But that's not our goal here. Losing Bosh was a foregone conclusion, but they still have to take a hit for failing to convince him to stay, no matter how hard that would have been. But after that, Colangelo at least made the move that you have to make when faced with the destruction of everything you've worked for: set fire to the remains and collect the insurance. They traded Hedo Turkoglu and his massive new contract for short term contracts, and managed to get long-term assets in draft picks and trade exceptions from Miami for Bosh. They are committed to starting over, and though the money handed out to Kleiza and Johnson is not chump change, there's still a plan in place.

Expect for the rest of the Raptors to be moved to whatever degree they can be, while the team sees if it can rebuild around DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems, who seem to hold a lot of potential under the radar. Colangelo did not take on massive contracts of a subpar free agent outside of Kleiza's swallowable deal, and the Raptors have flexibility to make the most of their future.

The only question is if Bryan Colangelo will be around to be a part of that future.

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