Posted on: December 30, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 1:07 pm
By Matt Moore
In this week's edition of the Friday 5, Ken keeps sticking up for the Celtics, we talk about whether the Nets are a disaster, and early surprises. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS.
1. You threw the Celtics a life line on Tuesday, saying how their comeback effort against the Heat meant they're not dead yet. Then they turned around and flopped in New Orleans like a corpse. No, I'm sorry, that's too far. A corpse would at least give resistance by being dead weight. How bad is this going to get for the Celtics to be in some real trouble?
Ken Berger: You can't fully evaluate the Celtics until they get Paul Pierce back. Even then, it's going to be a bit of a horror show at times for Boston, with old bodies stressed by the schedule and not enough depth to cover it up. In a shortened season, three- and four-game losing streaks certainly are magnified. But as long as Boston's core remains healthy and gets them through the season, they'll be there at the end.
2. We're two weeks out of training camp and a week into the season. How much leftover anger from the lockout are you hearing from players and agents?
KB: Haven't heard much. I think everyone (including myself) needed to shift gears from lockout mode to basketball mode. I do think at some point there will be a power struggle for leadership of the NBPA, as the agents who wanted Billy Hunter out have not changed their minds.
3. The Nets are off to a pretty horrific start. Is there a point where this becomes a concern for Dwight Howard as he evaluates suitors, and does this only strengthen the likelihood of him ending up in L.A. as you forecasted?
KB: Well, yes and no. It's faulty logic to look at the Nets and shake your head in disbelief that Dwight would want to play for THAT team. That's not the team Dwight would be playing for; he'd be playing for a Nets team with HIM on it. Big difference. The most interesting aspect of the Dwight saga won't be where he does and doesn't want to play, but where the Magic are and aren't willing to trade him. If Otis Smith and Alex Martins decide they want Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the likelihood that Dwight's a Laker goes through the roof. If that can't or won't happen, can the Nets flip some of their assets for win-now players Orlando would want, i.e., Luis Scola and Kevin Martin from the Rockets, or something similar? Fascinating chess match that Orlando will be playing.
4. The Knicks do not look good right now after being dominated by an L.A. team playing Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy significant minutes. Rank their concerns in order: Injuries (Davis, Jeffries), Mike D'Antoni, overall roster.
KB: I'd say injuries and schedule are the Knicks' biggest problems, and I'd include Iman Shumpert among the injured players they miss the most. Not that Shumpert was necessarily ready, but losing him means Mike Bibby must fill a bigger role off the bench, and this is not good. Tyson Chandler needs to tone it down a notch; with three techs in three games, he's making Knicks fans yearn for Rasheed Wallace to come out of retirement and sign for the mini mid-level. Heading out West to start the season isn't ideal after a long lockout and short training camp, so I'll re-evaluate the Knicks after they play a couple of home games this week and get comfortable on the East Coast. I do like the offense running through Melo and would like to see more Melo-Amar'e pick-and-rolls. Like a lot of contending teams (Dallas, Lakers, Celtics), the Knicks are having to incorporate new players and tweak their schemes with little or no practice time. So it's too early to panic and point the finger at D'Antoni.
5. Two parter. What's the team that's impressed you the most and team that's disappointed you the most so far, early in this season?
KB: Even though I picked them to go to the Finals, I'd have to say the Thunder (4-0) are playing even better than I thought they would. It's a little early for disappointment, but I'd classify it as disappointing to see the Nets lose Brook Lopez and face a long, ugly road to the March 15 trade deadline without their key asset in a potential Dwight Howard trade.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 2:34 am
Edited on: December 30, 2011 2:50 am
By Matt Moore
The Knicks wilt again out West, the Thunder rise and fire, and the Blazers win the best game of the night. Here's your nightly report card.
One day removed from a horrid shooting performance in a near-loss and after a brief altercation with Kevin Durant that subsequently became the biggest story in the league for a day, Russell Westbrook brought the Thunder back. He made all the plays late starting with a dunk and-one off a steal. He hit big shots when he needed to and grabbed a huge offensive rebound off a Durant miss late. It was a terrific job by a player with a lot of pressure on him, and showed why the Thunder believe he and Durant can be special together.
Westbrook isn't the pure point a lot of people think Durant needs. But in terms of scoring point guards, he's one of the best in the league. His fearlessness and ability to make things happen in key moments should not be overshadowed by a handful of poor shooting nights for the young player. Westbrook is a legitimate star who plays on the same stage, if not level, as Kevin Durant.
A: Los Angeles Lakers
Ball movement. Help defense. Efficiency. The Lakers won with good basketball. Not superstar power, though Pau Gasol played well. They weren't pretty or fun to watch, they just worked to create open shots and knocked them down. Even when the Lakers were losing earlier this week, they had great effort, just poor execution. Against the Knicks, they really turned the effort into execution and simply played better basketball against what is arguably a more talented team in terms of star power.
B: Houston Rockets
The Spurs didn't have it, but the Rockets also never allowed them to find it Thursday night. The Rockets ran efficient offense over and over, getting contributions from their key guys and really attacked the Spurs inside with Samuel Dalembert. It was a key win after a disappointing opener against the Magic. Kevin Martin stopped being terrible and went back to Kevin-Martin-hood.
B: Portland Trail Blazers
They won against a very good Nuggets team and kept their hot streak alive. They shot 51 perent from the field. They also turned the ball over 25 times and let the Nuggets back in it after a huge initial rush. They lost the free throw battle. In reality, they had a hot night, shooting 51 percent from the field. They also played solid defense, if allowing a number of open looks. These two teams are evenly matched and the Blazers edged them. Room for improvement, but they get a B.
C: Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks got a number of things to go their way in this game, and also played much better. The ball movement was there, Dirk was resurrected from lockout hibernation (29 and 10), JET was firing, and Ian Mahinmi and Brendan Haywood played well inside. But their defense was still several steps off of last year, and for crying out loud, the only guy in the building you have to guard with 1.4 seconds left and you give him a look? Better, Mavericks. Not good.
Dirk nabbed a technical for complaining about a call in the fourth quarter. Was just a terrible time for that kind of a tech.
D: New Jersey Nets
Missing Brook Lopez? Sure. But the effort isn't there, from any of the players. How exactly are you going to convince Dwight to come there by getting killed by him?
F: New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony, point forward is not walking through that door. Carmelo Anthony, ball-stopping shooter is. Both Anthony and Stoudemire struggled mightily against a Lakers defense that attacked their dribble whenever they got the ball. The Knicks have no creator, no initiator, no playmaker, just bullets and no gun. Oh, and defensively? Renaldo Balkman spent the most time guarding Kobe Bryant. Whoever had that idea needs to spend some time reconsidering the way he approaches the world.
Incomplete: San Antonio Spurs
Back-to-back, but after two really solid defensive games the Spurs took a giant step backwards Thursday night.
E for Effort: Orlando Magic
It's not hard to beat the Nets. But the Magic are firing on all cylinders right now. Dwight Howard with 24 rebounds, Ryan Anderson 22 points. The Magic are still a good team in the middle of all the turmoil. Again, against the Nets. But still.
Dirk Nowitzki. Jason Terry, Serge Ibaka. Steve Blake. Pau Gasol. Josh McRoberts, Luis Scola. Jimmer. Wesley Matthews.
Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 1:52 pm
Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver.
The 2011-2012 NBA season is a few days old, and with that comes the second 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: Denver Nuggets at No. 2. I realize it's easy to get excited about the Nuggets. They whipped the defending champs in their opener. But after one game we're moving them all the way to No. 2? After one game, they jump 12 spots? I think it's probably more overrating the Mavs than it is the Nuggets, because Denver's win over Dallas wasn't that impressive. The Mavs are uninterested, unmotivated and unhungry (is that a word?) right now. They're coasting. And they probably aren't even as good as they were last year. Yeah the Nuggets looked good in their takedown of the Dirks, but geez, I think we're getting a little ahead of ourselves here in having Denver jump Oklahoma City, San Antonio and the Clippers. -- RY
2. Too Low: Los Angeles Lakers at No. 23 Just when Royce got done scolding for over-correcting on the Nuggets, there's the Lakers, who dropped 18 spots by virtue of losing a tight one to No. 6 ranked Chicago on Christmas under bizarre late-game circumstances and getting picked off by a hungry Kings team on the second night of the back-to-back. That places Kobe/Pau/company six spots behind the Toronto Raptors and seven spots behind the Charlotte Bobcats. Come on. Maybe the last five years or so should have a touch more bearing than the last 48 hours in weighing the relative merits of these organizations. -- BG
3. Most Overrated: New York Knicks at No. 5. The Knicks took down a wounded Celtics team at home on opening day. They looked solid at times, sure. But is this New York team truly in the class of the NBA? Is it really top five material, with point guards named Toney Douglas and... Toney Douglas? (OK, so I know Mike Bibby is on the team too, but he doesn't count.) The Knicks are a quality squad but there's a burning desire in many to crown them a contender, but I think that's premature. -- RY
4. Most Overlooked: Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 26. I feel like I'm getting ahead of myself here, but after watching the Wolves compete against the top-notch Thunder, I came away impressed. Rick Adelman has made a difference, Ricky Rubio is fun and between Derrick Williams and Kevin Love, there's some real talent there. Minnesota hasn't necessarily done anything to deserve being higher than 26 because you need to actually win to move up. Moral victories don't count. But fourth to last? This Wolves team won't be in the bottom five for long. -- RY
5. Sure Thing: Miami Heat at No. 1. Miami looked so good in routing the Dallas Mavericks on Christmas Day that the general reaction around the league seemed to be to just pretend it didn't happen. Outside of the Oklahoma City Thunder, it's difficult to imagine any NBA team being able to keep pace in a 7-game series, Bulls, Celtics, Clippers and Lakers included. Here's hoping Miami keeps its foot on the gas all season long. The Hated Ones can do some amazing things. -- BG
6. Wild Card: Houston Rockets at No. 25. The middle-of-the-pack Western Conference teams are likely headed for a rollercoaster ride on this year's power rankings, and Houston probably gets to be the first poster boy for that phenomenon here. They start near the gutter but still have enough talent to work their way into the top-15 in fairly short order. But would you bet your money on it happening? -- BG
Posted on: December 27, 2011 10:31 am
Edited on: December 27, 2011 10:32 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
An unemployed Harvard man has landed a job in Manhattan.
ESPN.com reports that former Harvard University guard Jeremy Lin has been claimed off of waivers by the New York Knicks. The New York Post later confirmed the move.
Lin, the first Taiwanese-American to get signed to an NBA roster, went undrafted but stuck with the Golden State Warriors after an impressive Summer League showing. The Warriors released him during the free agency period and he landed on the Houston Rockets roster. The Rockets released him this week to make room for free agent signing Samuel Dalembert.
The Knicks lost rookie guard Iman Shumpert to a sprained MCL on Christmas Day that is expected to keep him sidelined for at least two weeks. New York can use the depth as veteran guards Mike Bibby and Baron Davis deal with injuries. ESPNNY.com reports that Bibby, who has been dealing with back spasms, is expected to play on Wednesday. Davis is expected to miss an extended period of time due to back injuries of his own.
Lin, 23, appeared in 29 games for the Warriors last season, posting averages of 2.6 points and 1.4 assists per game.
Posted on: December 22, 2011 8:12 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 12:50 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
On, then off, and now back on again. One of the NBA's scariest stories in recent memory reportedly just found a happy ending.
The Sacramento Kings have reportedly agreed to sign center Chuck Hayes to a 4-year contract less than one week after a previous deal was voided when the team announced he failed his physical. SI.com and Yahoo Sports report the new deal is worth $22 million over four years.
The Kings confirmed later Thursday night that the team had "an agreement in principle" with Hayes on "a multi-year contract" but did not disclose the details.
Last week, the Kings and Hayes agreed to terms on a 4-year deal reportedly worth $21 million. On Monday, Kings president Geoff Petrie announced that "in one of the most heartbreaking moments" of his career he had to void the deal because Hayes could not get medical clearance. Reports in Sacramento indicated that a heart condition was the cause of the deal snag.
On Thursday morning, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that Hayes had received clearance on his heart from the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic. That news paved the way for his agent to re-open free agency talks. The Kings, who were unable to re-sign center Samuel Dalembert, were obviously still interested in Hayes, who they had originally managed to pry away from the Houston Rockets.
Hayes, 28, is a 6-year NBA veteran known as an undersized big man with a major motor. His career averages: 4.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in 424 NBA games.
Hayes will join a Sacramento frontline that also includes DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, Donte Greene, and J.J. Hickson.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 5:29 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 5:36 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
The Houston Rockets just landed their 145th choice for a center. Throw the parade.
ESPN.com reports that the Rockets have inked free agent center Samuel Dalembert to a 2-year deal.
The Houston Rockets have reached terms on a new contract with free-agent center Samuel Dalembert, according to sources close to the situation. Sources told ESPN.com that Dalembert has agreed to a two-year deal. The value of the contract was not immediately known.Yahoo Sports reports the following contractual details: "Dalembert's 2-year deal with Houston pays $7 million in 2011-12 with a team option for $7 million in 2012-13, sources say. If option declined, [there is a] $1.5 million buyout."
The news comes one day after the Sacramento Kings had reportedly emerged as the leader for Dalembert's services.
Kings president Geff Petrie issued a terse, one-sentence press release on Wednesday: "The Sacramento Kings today announced that the team has withdrawn its offer to free agent center Samuel Dalembert, according to Kings’ President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie."
Translation: "He's going to Houston? We never wanted him anyway!" Gee whiz, guys, no hard feelings.
Dalember to Houston comes after a tumultuous two weeks of searching for the Rockets, who had hoped to be major players in a free agency market loaded with big men. Looking to fill the hole left by the retirement of franchise center Yao Ming, the Rockets watched Tyson Chandler and Nene Hilario sign elsewhere. They extended an offer sheet to Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, only to watch him re-sign in Memphis. To add insult to those injuries, a 3-team trade that would have landed Los Angeles Lakers All-Star big man Pau Gasol fell apart when NBA commissioner David Stern, acting as owner of the New Orleans Hornets, nixed it multiple times.
Dalembert, 29, isn't the worst consolation prize, although he's no All-Star. A 9-year NBA veteran who spent his entire career with the Philadelphia 76ers before landing in Sacramento last season. His career averages: 8.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.
Posted on: December 20, 2011 2:00 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 2:00 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Samuel Dalembert is maybe the top free agent prize left on the market, especially in terms of big men. And there are two teams in desperate need of a center -- the Rockets and the Kings.
The Rockets saw Yao retire, their trade for Pau Gasol fall apart at the feet of David Stern and their offer to Marc Gasol get matched. The Kings had to void the contract of their new center Chuck Hayes because of a heart issue. That leaves them both in need of a big man, but right now, Sacramento might have the leg up.
Kings general manager Geoff Petrie was asked about re-signing Dalembert and he told the Sac Bee, "We've stayed in touch with him periodically along the way. We'll see what develops here in the next few days and go from there."
The Kings have money to spare as they're about $13 million under the cap after the deal for Hayes fell through. Dalembert is going to require more than the Hayes deal did however. And it seemed like Sacramento was content on letting Dalembert walk before Hayes failed his physical.
What about the Rockets? Aren't they about to offer Dalembert? NBA.com reports that the Rockets are "taking a pass" on Dalembert for the moment, which leaves the door open for a return to Sacramento. The other teams in the running have been the Heat and maybe the Timberwolves, but it's looking unlikely that either of those would really be in the mix.
With the market being so thin but two teams in desperate need of Dalembert's rebounding and shot blocking, the prize is being driven up and down at the same time. Dalembert was one of the more overpaid players last season, but could certainly be a major impact player for whoever he signs for.
The Rockets saying they're moving on means that they haven't been able to get Dalembert to their number and are hoping that he'll see how thin the market is and come back to accept their offer. At least that's how I'd guess this is going down.
As for the Kings, they need a center as well, but like the Rockets, are looking for a value get. Going to be tough landing that in Dalembert but right now, they're options are limited.
Posted on: December 18, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: December 18, 2011 11:27 am
Posted by Royce Young
It's been more than a week since David Stern's office vetoed a trade sending Chris Paul to the Lakers for "basketball reasons." In that time, a deal got done sending Paul to the Clippers, Stern denied all the allegations and criticisms blaming source-mongering journalists and the expectation was everything would go away. We'd all move on.
For the most part, people have. We're all excited to see CP3 lobbing to Blake Griffin, all excited to see how or if the Clippers can challenge the Lakers in Los Angeles and excited to see if the balance of power just shifted in the Western Conference.
But there are people that haven't moved on. Most notably the Houston Rockets.
Lost in the original CP3 mess was that the Rockets came up as major losers. The Lakers didn't get their man, Stern's reputation took a hit and the Dell Demps and the Hornets had to restructure a deal to get more youth. But no big deal, all that stuff can be fixed. The Rockets though, were left empty-handed after thinking they were about to land one of the elite power forwards in all of basketball.
And they haven't forgotten. Not just because the trade didn't work out for them, but because they feel that Stern has sort of spit in their face with his damage control of the situation. Via the Houston Chronicle:
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was asked about the situation Saturday and declined comment based on the advice of legal counsel. So that's not a good thing. The whole organization is ticked, especially owner Leslie Alexander.
Stern maintained on a conference call after the Clipper trade went through that the deal was never done, but was just something in the talking phase. Which obviously someone in the Rockets' organization sees as a complete lie.
This story isn't over. It's not going to go away quite yet. It would, except the Rockets feel like they got screwed, which they did. And they're going to try and make sure everyone hears about it.