Tag:Friday 5 With KB
Posted on: July 8, 2011 6:15 pm
 

Friday 5 with KB: Looking back at "The Decision"

Posted by Matt Moore 



In this week's return edition of the Friday 5 with KB, we look back on "The Decision," the future of Chris Paul, how a hard cap affects trades, and who among the owners could end this insanity.

1. Well, it's been a year since "The Decision." Beyond the context of the lockout, how does the Decision look to you now?

KB: It still looks as self-serving, tone-deaf, and poorly orchestrated as it did then. But I think everyone's sensitivities have been muted -- even residents of the great state of Ohio. You can't be mad forever, right? Plus, LeBron managed to carry himself even worse during the Finals than he did during the Decision, so there's that. As far as your caveat, it's impossible to look at anything in the NBA through a prism other than the lockout. The way free agents flexed their muscle last summer, I think, was at least part of the motivation for owners to put the hammer down with this lockout. They want cost cutting, but they also want control back from the stars who owned them last July. One important point that bolsters the players' argument for a flexible system with maximum player movement: Look at how much revenue and interest were generated by last summer's player movement. If the NBA wants to maximize both, wouldn't it want a fever-pitched free agency period every year?

2. Compared to the relative calm of the lockout, how do you look back on the insanity of last summer's 2010 free agency period?

KB: With horror. I mean, from a coverage standpoint, it was one of the most challenging things I've ever had to deal with as a sports writer. I'm not whining or complaining, but we're talking about three hours of sleep a night, days without shaving or seeing family members, just a flat-out bunker mentality in a small bedroom in our apartment, talking, texting, and emailing until well past 3 a.m. every night for weeks. There are a lot of incomparably good things about the job, but the first two weeks of July last summer were pure hell.


3. You unloaded The Berger Plan Part II late this week. One question for the hard cap. How's that going to impact trade movement? In the NFL we hardly see trades at all, and in basketball, that flexibility is crucial as you said. How does a hard cap influence that kind of player and contract movement?

KB: Trade restrictions are one area I didn't get into too much, but I agree, it's an important topic. I favor doing away with base compensation and other impediments to trades. I think the Sept. 1 cap-casualty deadline will add to the player movement as sort of a second wave of free agency. But I also believe for competitive balance to be maximized, teams need to have as much flexibility to trade players as possible.

4. Lot of talk about the fact that if David West leaves, CP3 will be right behind him. What's the temperature of the water in New Orleans right now?

KB: Hard to say, because everyone is in lockdown mode for the lockout. Personally, I've always believed that CP3 was going to leave New Orleans anyway -- provided the new CBA allows it -- so I don't think having David West or not having David West was going to make a whole lot of difference.

5. If there was one owner we could put in charge to get a deal done to end the lockout, who do you think it should be?

KB: I think Peter Holt, the chairman of the labor relations committee, is reasonable and has enough clout to bridge the gap between high- and low-revenue owners. Mark Cuban is the smartest, the most creative, and the best businessman, but he's too much of a radical hard-liner to get any sort of consensus or compromise with the players. Clay Bennett is indebted to David Stern for helping him move from Seattle to Oklahoma City, and his clout is on the rise. I'd probably say Holt, who gives you the best and worst of both worlds -- a small-market owner for a team that carries a high payroll and, at least in terms of gate receipts, brings in big-market revenues.
Posted on: April 8, 2011 3:25 pm
 

Friday 5 with KB 4.8.11: Balance and time

Posted by Matt Moore 



In this week's edition of the Friday 5 with KB, we see if the Celtics have time to get things right, if the Lakers should be concerned at all, and who needs Kyrie most?. All this and more in this week's Friday 5 with CBSSports.com's Ken Berger.  



1. Boston gets rolled by Chicago, and you write about how they're searching for an identity right now. Is the first round going to be easy enough for them to find it? Will the playoffs heal all wounds?

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: I'm not so sure it's that simple with Boston this time. I do think if Doc can get the combinations right with the second unit, featuring Green, Krstic and Delonte, the Celtics can have a better second unit than they've had in the past. But without Perkins, they're going to struggle against bigger teams. It probably won't matter in the first round, and the value of gaining some confidence shouldn't be underestimated. But Boston has more flaws and uncertainty than they've had entering any other postseason with the Big Three.

2. The Lakers are stumbling backwards, and pretty much laughing it off. Is there any conceivable reason for the Lakers to try through these last four games, other than not messing with ticket holders?

KB: At this point, it's about finding the right balance of rest and sharpness -- especially where Kobe is concerned. Phil is a master at achieving this balance. Popovich is another coach who comes to mind who is great at it.

3. Knicks are a little banged up, and not deep at all to begin with, as we head towards the playoffs. What would be a reasonable result that would be considered a "good" end to the Knicks' season?

KB: The Knicks have many of the same flaws that they possessed before the trade -- lack of size and depth and no lockdown defender -- so a quick playoff exit shouldn't be considered a referendum on the Melo deal. I think stealing a game on the road in the first round would be a solid building block. Getting swept in four close games wouldn't be terribly disappointing or unexpected, especially against Boston or Miami. The fact is, whatever happens in the playoffs, the Knicks are ahead of where anyone could've reasonably expected them to be when Donnie Walsh took over for Isiah. They tore it down to the floorboards in two years, and have two superstars to build around going forward. If Anthony is engaged at both ends and Stoudemire is healthy/rested, they could create some real problems. But you have to take the long view.

4. Kyrie Irving came out in the draft this week. He's our No.1 overall pick. What lottery team needs him the most?

KB: Cleveland, for sure. The Cavs need to parlay one of the picks they've stockpiled into a superstar, and Irving fits the bill. They also have a good record of developing young players and a veteran point guard in place, so they don't have to rush Irving -- who clearly will need some seasoning. Minnesota, Toronto and Utah are the others. Sources say there's no way Irving slips past No. 4. Wolves GM David Kahn's confidence that Rubio is coming will be put to a serious test if Irving is on the board when Minnesota picks. With a lockout coming, it would be franchise suicide to pass on a talent like Irving and then have Rubio stay overseas.

5. NBA owners meeting next Friday. What are the hot points that could come out of that meeting?

KB: Depending on how long it takes for league execs to review all the documents associated with the Pistons sale, which was finalized Friday, that could come up for a vote -- but league sources say it there's no chance things will be ready in timen. If it can't be put to a vote next week, owners could always vote by other means at a later date. The other issue up in the air is the Kings' relocation. As of Friday, there was still nothing final to vote on. Much of the discussion figures to center around everyone's favorite topic, labor.
Posted on: March 25, 2011 4:58 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2011 5:00 pm
 

Friday 5 with KB 3.25.11: Humble pie

Posted by Matt Moore



In this week's edition of the Friday 5 with KB, we ask who the Heat want in the first round, who needs more restraint in their offense, and how the Melo's need for humility. All this and more in this week's Friday 5 with CBSSports.com's Ken Berger. 


1. The Heat are back! Okay.... maybe not. You wrote last week that the Heat won't really show who they are until the playoffs. As it stands right now, which team would be better for them to face in the second round, Boston or Chicago (assuming they can only face one of those teams)?

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: That's a pick-your-poison scenario if there ever was one. Instinct tells me the Celtics would be the more difficult matchup, due to their obvious playoff and championship experience and the way they continue to use Tom Thibodeau's defensive concepts to deal with elite wing scorers like LeBron and Wade. But that assumption is skewed at the moment because Boston hasn't quite integrated the new players acquired from Oklahoma City -- and has yet to atone for the loss of Kendrick Perkins. Another assumption has to do with how much Boston will get from Shaquille and/or Jermaine O'Neal once playoff time comes. Simply don't know that yet. I'm going to say with much hesitation they'd fare better against Chicago, with the strong caveat that Thibodeau himself would rear his balding, ugly, brilliant head as a potential difference-maker. There's also the question of which point guard would do more damage against Mike Bibby: Rajon Rondo or Derrick Rose. Erik Spoelstra just threw up in his mouth a little bit reading that sentence.

2. One thing we'll be seeing teams do as we head down the stretch is start sacrificing playoff position to rest players. Boston's an obvious one, but who else will probably put on the jets to get some rest in before the playoffs start?

KB: I think you're seeing that with San Antonio, but not necessarily by design. Even if Tim Duncan hadn't gotten hurt, I would've expected Gregg Popovich to follow what has been his standard procedure and rest the big fellas legs strategically during the final weeks of the regular season. Other than that, it may make sense for Phil Jackson to give Kobe a breather, or at least rein in his minutes, because the Lakers are in little danger of losing home court and it won't matter much whether they're the No. 2 or No. 3 seed.

3. You wrote about Melo needing to be humbled by this experience this week. If he's experiencing that, which you think will help, do you think the same will be said of what LeBron's going through in Miami? 

KB: I think LeBron's been dealing with the same issue as Melo, only for a longer period of time. And from the time I've spent around the Heat, I don't get the sense that he's had any sort of epiphany when it comes to sacrificing his game. The most effective way for him to do that would've been to embrace more of a facilitating/initiating role in the offense, but he seems to dominate the ball more than ever -- and not as a facilitator, but as a scorer. The Heat's duo of James and Dwyane Wade still have a long way to go in terms of subjugating their egos and games, which only underscores how difficult it will be for Melo to do it in a much more compressed time period.

4. Tom Thibodeau talks a lot about how much he just lets Derrick Rose do his thing. Is there a polar opposite you can think of, in terms of a coach who needs to put more restraints on his star player offensively?

KB: Well, not to belabor the Knicks' situation, but Anthony and Mike D'Antoni come to mind first. D'Antoni is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't when it comes to incorporating Melo into the offense. And most people don't know basketball well enough to see that criticism of D'Antoni failing to adapt his system to Melo's game is severely misplaced. As Royce Young noted here, the Knicks' pace has dropped off significantly since they got Anthony -- an indication that D'Antoni isn't being nearly as stubborn as some would suggest. If he were, Anthony would be moving the ball, cutting hard to the basket, and getting easy buckets instead of reverting to his tried-and-true isolation -- which slows the offense to a halt because the ball stops dead when it winds up in Melo's hands in the mid-post area. In the long run, D'Antoni will need to sell Anthony on playing his system the way it was designed and save the isolation game for end-of-quarter, end-of-game situations. Until that happens -- and, Anthony is right, it may not be until next season -- the Knicks are going to continue to give up way more easy baskets than they score themselves. Which is one of the biggest reasons they're struggling.

5. All right, Ken. The real hard question. Who've you got in your Final Four? 

KB: Sadly, this is the first year in a long time that I did not fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket. Not even for fun. So it wouldn't be fair to pull a Final Four out of a hat now. Oh, OK, I'll do it anyway: UConn, Florida, Ohio State, and Kansas.
Posted on: March 11, 2011 8:07 am
 

Friday 5 with KB: Going the distance

Posted by Matt Moore



In this week's edition of the Friday 5 with KB, we ask how far the Heat can go, where the Kings will be, and how the March slog will work out. All this and more in this week's Friday 5 with CBSSports.com's Ken Berger. 

1. Point blank, right now, how far do you think the Heat go in the playoffs? 

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: A loaded question deserves a dance-and-dodge answer. First, it depends on who they play. In any round, I'd be concerned if I were the Heat playing Boston, Chicago or Atlanta. Boston obviously has their number, and the Bulls have a player capable of winning a playoff game by himself on the road -- plus, several of their core players have been through playoff series together in the past, which Miami's guys have not. For all their lack of defense and rebounding, the Knicks still impose a certain fear factor simply because of the offensive weaponry they have and because Carmelo is so good in the clutch. So in a roundabout way not to answer your question, I could see Miami getting bounced in the first round or getting to the conference finals. I don't see them going farther than that, and if I had to guess, I'd say they lose in the second round.

2. San Antonio got fairly detonated last Sunday against the Lakers. I have concerns about their defense in terms of length versus the Lakers and their ability to guard stretch fours like West, Aldridge, and Randolph. Am I nuts or is the San Antonio record not indicative of their playoff strength? 

KB: I think you've pinpointed the Spurs' weakness fairly well, but I'm not as concerned about them as you are. Having said that, I do think Z-Bo or West could give them fits in a first-round series. I just think it's a different story in a best-of-7 when Duncan will have rest between games and Pop will have time to make adjustments and figure it out. While I think it's a little insulting to say the Spurs may not be as good as their record, the reality is that the playoffs are all about matchups. And if San Antonio consistently has a bad matchup against bigger teams or floor-spacing fours, their record won't help them win that series. I don't think that's hysterical; it's just a fair observation.

3. I don't mean to alarm anyone, but the extension for the Kings to file for relocation is coming up in the next few days. How does this play out from what you know now? 

KB: Anaheim or bust is what it looks like to me. I've increasingly gotten the impression that the commissioner has run out of patience with Sacramento, and the Maloofs' posture is the definition of one foot out the door.

4. What are the teams most likely to tank from here on out? Are there any? We're not looking at a super strong draft class. 

KB: I guess you could argue that Charlotte already tanked by trading Gerald Wallace, though their plan is more geared toward using the cachet of Michael Jordan to attract a marquee free agent in 2012. Also, there's no rule that says the Bobcats have to cede the eighth spot to Indiana; the Pacers have to earn it. Imagine that: Charlotte trades its best player for two first-round picks and still makes the playoffs. It could happen. Other than that, I don't envision tanking being nearly the storyline it's been in past years. For one, it's a weak draft to begin with and could get weaker if underclassman pull out due to lockout fears. Plus, in the West, all the teams on the bubble really want to make the playoffs -- Portland, Denver, New Orleans, Memphis, Phoenix, Utah and Houston. Same in the East with New York, Philly, Indiana, Charlotte and even Milwaukee.

5. This is what I refer to as the NBA's deathmarch, trying to slog through the days post-trade deadline, pre-playoffs. Are you looking forward to the quiet or does the endless stretch of March get to you on the beat?

KB: After the excruciating Melo saga -- which for me culminated with writing the breaking story of the trade from seat 27C on my Delta flight from Los Angeles to New York on Feb. 21 -- I welcome the sanity. The Melo story was all-consuming for weeks, even months, and the deadline was busier than most people in the basketball and media business expected. On the NBA beat, this is always the time of year to take a breath and try to recharge a bit. It's also a time when I typically welcome the opportunity to focus on, you know, basketball again. But I'm energized on a couple of fronts more so than I've been in deathmarches past. I'm interested in seeing how the Knicks thing works out with Carmelo and Amar'e, and eager to see how the Perkins trade affects Boston and Oklahoma City. Also, the playoff races at the bottom are tight, which will lead to more compelling March and April games than we've had in recent years. As mentioned above, there are five teams legitimately battling for the final three spots in the East and six teams vying for the final four spots in the West. So that means I will pay even less attention to the NCAA Tournament than I normally do. As soon as I catch my breath.
Posted on: March 4, 2011 3:26 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 3:28 pm
 

Friday 5 with KB: The aftermath

Posted by Matt Moore




1. We're now a week removed from the insanity of the 2011 Trade Deadline. Any interesting domino effects that you've seen league wide so far, in terms of things we couldn't see for the trees, so to speak, last Thursday?

By far the most interesting aftermath was Oklahoma City's acquisition of Kendrick Perkins -- and his contract extension on top of that. The whole transaction illustrated how the Celtics were being proactive with labor uncertainty coming, and how the Thunder were rewarded for being flexible and responsible with their payroll. Not only were they in a position to get Perkins in the first place, but they had the future flexibility to pay him. That's good management.

2. Bibby gives back $6 million for a chance to play with the Heat. Troy Murphy winds up out of shape, but contributing to the Celtics. Corey Brewer heads to Dallas. What buyout addition do you think will have the most impact?


Probably Murphy. I look at him as the third key addition from the Kendrick Perkins trade. Adding a floor-spacer like him to the Boston front court -- and keeping him away from Miami -- will make a bigger net difference than Bibby or Brewer.

3. So after All-Star, everything's gone quiet on the CBA talks front. Negotiations were supposed to continue in New York this week. Any word on meetings?


No meetings yet, and none officially scheduled, but sources tell me there will be one in the very near future. I am intrigued by the sudden progress in the NFL talks and wonder if the realization that NFL owners came to -- that what they were asking for was completely unrealistic -- will affect the NBA talks. But as is always the case with these things, nothing will happen until the deadline is here. So the most important bargaining session won't take place until, oh, June 30.

4. Chris Paul says his knee is fine, we see otherwise. What do the Hornets' postseason hopes look like to you?


The Hornets are lousy right now. And sources around the league tell me they're seeing the same thing we're seeing: CP3 ain't right. We don't know if it's his knee or just a slump, but if he doesn't play out of this world, the Hornets aren't going anywhere.

5
. You've seen the new-look Knicks as much as anyone. Any initial impressions of the dynamic of that team?


I actually think they've gained some offensive cohesion fairly quickly and could be a dangerous out in the playoffs -- especially when Chauncey Billups has a chance to figure out the best way to make the engine run. Early on, he's just test-driving it. I don't have fancy stats to prove this, but to the naked eye, the point guard/Stoudemire pick-and-roll seems to be a much less important part of the Knicks' post-trade attack. It's been replaced by the Carmelo isolation. But Mike D'Antoni is proving to be open-minded about that, and if Carmelo is going to score the basketball, he can run whatever play he wants. Defensively, the Knicks have obvious and serious deficiencies in terms of matchups in the post and rebounding. But I thought it was telling the way Anthony was engaged by the challenge of defending LeBron in the game New York won in Miami. He'll never have great defensive instincts and won't ever be a top wing defender. But he has the size, strength and mobility to defend if he wants to. With his new surroundings, it appears that he wants to.
Category: NBA
Posted on: February 11, 2011 1:54 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Friday 5 with KB: Trade Deadline Waters




Posted by Matt Moore 

In today's Friday 5 with KB: A favorite story from Jerry Sloan, the future of Utah, the choppy waters of this year's trade deadline, and when exactly are the Spurs going to hit double-digit losses?



1. So, yeah, Jerry's gone. Which kind of bums everyone out. Do you have a favorite Sloan story to share?

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: Everyone, including me, made fun of Sloan's Hall of Fame acceptance speech two years ago because he basically told his entire life story. But I was touched by how nonchalantly Sloan talked about having lasted only five days as the University of Evansville basketball coach in the late 1970s. The season after he stepped down, his replacement, coach Bobby Watson, and the entire team and support staff were killed in a plane crash. Sloan said it matter-of-factly, just like that, and without blinking got right back to his story. "I spent 2 1-2 years as assistant coach of the Bulls ...," etc. That was Jerry. I don't know why I will always remember that, but I will.


2. Speaking of the Jazz, is there any chance they are able to reassert the kind of stability they've had over the past three decades? Is the organization and environment built in such a way as to develop that kind of constancy? Or are we going to see the Jazz back in the mire of the pack, having to reinvent themselves multiple times in a decade?

KB: The biggest priority, obviously, is persuading Deron Williams to stay. If he leaves as a free agent in 2012, there's no way around it: the Jazz are in for a major rebuild. Before they're faced with that possibility, however, the first order of business is maintaining stability on the bench. By naming Tyrone Corbin to succeed Sloan without saddling him with an interim title is an important first step. GM Kevin O'Connor and Gail Miller, the widow of later owner Larry Miller, both made clear they are committed to Corbin for the long term. Those intentions obviously will have to be backed up at some point by a multi-year head coaching contract, but that will come in time. There's been one head coach in Salt Lake City for nearly a quarter century. The plan certainly isn't to go from that to massive turnover.


3. Lost in Ray Allen's epic three-pointer and Kobe's late game heroics Thursday night was this: Boston's lost their last two, and are 5-5 in their last ten. Has the time come for the Celtics to coast through the second half?

KB: I think their recent struggles are less about coasting and more about injuries. The return of Kendrick Perkins has been muted by the absence of Shaq, Jermaine O'Neal and even Semih Erden. Boston also is without Marquis Daniels, Delonte West and Nate Robinson. So it's time to begin wondering if the only thing that can hold the Celtics back -- health -- is starting to rear its ugly head.


4. Alright, Ken. When are the Spurs going to hit double digit losses?

KB: With Philly, Washington and New Jersey next up on the road, I'm going to go out on a limb and say not before the All-Star break. The Spurs haven't lost two straight since early January, so I'm going to say their 10th loss doesn't come until March 4 or 6, when they play Miami and the Lakers.


5. Instability in Utah, the Denver situation, Portland teetering on the brink, Charlotte looking at a need to dump salary, Houston desperate to make a deal. For a long time it looked like we weren't going to be seeing much in the way of trades this year. But are the storm clouds gathering for another busy deadline?

KB: The way I see it now, there will be more buyers than sellers. Several teams have contracts they'd like to dump (Philly with Andre Iguodala, Charlotte with Stephen Jackson, Cleveland with Antawn Jamison or Mo Williams, the Bucks with Corey Maggette or Drew Gooden), but who is going to take on those kind of obligations heading unto uncertain CBA territory? Also, the teams with the most cap space, Sacramento and Minnesota, are going to be less likely than in past years to take money into that space given that they don't know what the 2011-12 cap and rules will be. First-round picks also will be more expensive on the trade market because they represent cheap labor. Whereas in past years, teams would be willing to give up a first simply to get off a contract, this time they'll want something else in return -- such as a second-round pick. The teams that will be able to do something are those that have quality players on expiring contracts -- such as Indiana with Jeff Foster, Mike Dunleavy, and T.J. Ford; and Portland with Joel Przybilla and Andre Miller (whose 2011-12 salary is non-guaranteed).
Posted on: February 4, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2011 2:26 pm
 

Friday 5 with KB: Nuts and bolts




Posted by Matt Moore

In today's Friday 5 with KB: All-Star snubs, the upcoming CBA talks, and the league's policy on, ahem ... man-parts.

1. Interesting note from Donnie Walsh yesterday, mentioning that he's more concerned about the trade deadline, among other things, rather than his contract future. Your Post-Ups today cover Walsh's situation in detail, but it still begs the question: Do you think the Knicks are making a move before the deadline? (Shotout to Antonio on Twitter for the question.)

I think the chances are fairly high -- great than 90 percent -- that the Knicks make some sort of trade before the deadline. Not necessarily a Carmelo trade, although that's still possible, but some kind of trade to either give Amar'e some help in the front court, upgrade backup point guard, or replenish future draft picks that were lost in Walsh's monumental effort to get the Knicks under the cap and with roster and cap flexibility for the next two years. Walsh totally deserved the two-year contract extension Jim Dolan just gave him. Wait, what? Dolan hasn't even decided whether to exercise Walsh's option, which comes due April 30? Oh. Oh, that is really bad. Please refer to Post-Ups later in the day Friday for an explanation of Walsh's limbo and where the 'Bockers stand in trade talks.

2. Well, Ken, the coaches didn't heed your words. They took Tim Duncan over LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love. Was that the most egregious selection or was there another that bugged you more?

I felt really good about the rest of the picks -- both mine and the coaches', since other than Duncan they were the same. At the end of the day, it's hard to get too bent out of shape over an immortal player getting a lifetime achievement vote to the All-Star team. So I won't be mad about Love getting snubbed until the commissioner snubs him as Yao's injury replacement. Then I'll be mad at the commissioner. It would've been nice to find a spot for Aldridge, too, as well as Josh Smith. Those were the most deserving guys who didn't make it, in my estimation.

3. So the CBA talk is in two weeks at All-Star weekend. Some are predicting the apocalypse. Some are predicting a peaceful, productive meeting. We had a phalanx of All-Stars blow off the day of service to make a statement at the bargaining table last year. What do you think we're going to get this year?

Probably a lot of rhetoric, and a lame/tame bargaining session that will mostly be symbolic. Not a whole lot of actual negotiating and work will get done due to the nature of the weekend. It seems like time is running out, but actually there is still plenty of time left for the lawyers and number-crunchers to figure all of this out. So in terms of developments, I'd like to see a small concession or baby step forward by each side. For example, if David Stern says the owners won't lock the players out immediately on July 1 if there is reasonable expectation of an agreement, and if Billy Hunter says the players are willing to give up the mid-level exception, those would be small but important signs of good faith on both sides. If both sides remain absolutely entrenched in their positions, the All-Star bargaining session and accompanying news conferences will be a waste of time.

4. Tom Thibodeau's defense has been so superb this year. And he hasn't been at full strength outside of more than a few weeks. Are we overlooking Chicago penciling in Miami or Orlando for the Eastern Finals? 

Given Orlando's defensive struggles and identity crisis at the moment, I think it's fair to say that the Bulls shouldn't be overlooked as a candidate to upset Miami and meet the Celtics in the conference finals. Chicago has the two ingredients that could pull that off -- outstanding team defense, as you mentioned, and an outlandish talent in Derrick Rose, who is good enough to win a playoff series by himself. Having said that, I plan to be in Boston next Sunday for the Heat-Celtics, and I fully expect that to be a preview of the conference finals.

5. Kevin Garnett tapped a guy in the man parts. Eddie House intimated that he has sizable man parts. Kevin Garnett was neither fined, nor suspended. Eddie House was fined. Does the NBA need to re-examine its junk policy or am I completely nuts? 

I have not queried Stu Jackson about the, um, nuts and bolts of these decisions. But knowing how the league office views such things, I believe the distinction was that Garnett's actions came during the course of a basketball play -- defending a 3-point shot, however dirty those defensive tactics were. Garnett got ejected, and that punishment fit the crime. (Easy for me to say.) House's actions fell under the category of excessive celebration and unsportsmanlike conduct -- similar to barking at the opposing bench or standing over a fallen opponent and talking about his mama. So that's the difference.

Have a burning NBA question you need answered? Email us at cbssportsnba@gmail.com, or drop Ken a question for the Friday 5 on Twitter at@cbssportsnba . 
Posted on: January 28, 2011 12:38 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2011 2:32 pm
 

Friday 5 with KB: Who's moving at the deadline?




Posted by Matt Moore

In today's Friday 5 with KB: who's getting moved at the deadline, where's White Chocolate going, and how's Kevin Durant's season going?

1. Guess what, Ken? February's here! Which means it's trade deadline season! Which means you won't get to sleep for a month! Get excited! Okay, give me one guy who if you absolutely had to put money on getting moved before the deadline, you'd put the cash down on. 

Ken Berger (CBSSports.com): With cash on the line, I should take the easy way out and say Anthony Randolph, who's either going to be traded to the Nuggets in a Carmelo Anthony deal or to Minnesota for a first-round pick the Knicks can use to replenish their stockpile after the cap-clearing trade with Houston last season. But that's like stealing candy from a blogger, so I'll be a little more risk-taking and say Joel Przybilla. The Blazers are likely to try to shake things up, and Przybilla's size and expiring contract will be in demand among contenders. Once Marcus Camby comes back from his knee scope, Portland will have the green light to explore how much those contenders will be willing to give up.

2.  Jason Williams released by the Magic this week. Any chance of him winding up in Miami? And if not, where then?

KB: The Heat haven't had any internal discussions of significance about Williams; despite their limitations, Miami seems content with the point-guard platoon of Mario Chalmers and Carlos Arroyo. The latest, as you know, is that the Grizzlies have serious interest -- especially now that O.J. Mayo has been suspended 10 games for using a banned supplement.

3.  Your big feature on Antoine Walker this week showcased the problems with players who squander their money in rather horribly pathetic ways.  Is this an issue of personal responsibility only, or one that either the union or the league will feel compelled to act further upon? There have been classes, resources, advisers, all made available to the players and yet we see things like this. Is it foolish to hope for anything more provided to the players to avoid situations like Walker's?

KB: As you point out, the league and union do try to educate players about the perils of mismanaging their money, trusting it to friends or so-called investment gurus, or simply squandering it on an outlandish lifestyle. As in any walk of life, some players listen and some don't. That is always going to be the case no matter how much education is available. That's why I like this idea, and since the CBA is up, it's the perfect time to implement it. Let's set aside a small percentage of the profit when a team is sold and  put it in the pension fund for retired players. It would be a forced-savings mechanism and a safety net for players who get into financial trouble -- whether it's their own fault or not.

4. O.J. Mayo tests positive for DHEA, which is a borderline substance, but banned nonetheless, with a previous instance of suspension against Rashard Lewis. A bill failed to have DHEA classified as an anabolic steroid, but the considerations of the substance are all over the place. Any impact of this suspension beyond O.J. Mayo's continuing "worst month ever?"

KB: Just another cautionary tale for players to be aware of what they're putting in their bodies. Look around any NBA locker room and you see five-hour energy drinks in multiple lockers and guys chowing down on horribly unhealthy pre- and post-game meals. Then you have Steve Nash, who won't let a single granule of processed sugar pass through his lips. To each his own -- but beware of the consequences.

5. Kevin Durant drops 47 this week on the Timberwolves, days after an 0-5 performance down the stretch in a loss to the Hornets, which was days after a killer fading 3-pointer against the Knicks. What are your thoughts on KD's season, one with heightened expectations but less press than we were expecting from the superstar?

KB: Well, his shooting and scoring numbers are down slightly from last season, but I think that's more about the  emergence of Russell Westbrook as a legitimate scoring option than it is about KD taking a step back. His game is sensational and only growing and getting better. I don't think you'd find too many GMs who'd say that, given the choice, they'd want to start a team today with anyone else. The best way to judge Durant's season so far, and the way he'd do it? Through 45 games, the Thunder (29-16) are five games ahead of where they were last season, when they won 50 games and put a scare into the Lakers in the first round.


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