Tag:Friday 5 With KB
Posted on: January 21, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2011 1:56 pm

Friday 5 with KB: Blake Griffin an All-Star?

Posted by Matt Moore

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger answers five questions on the week's NBA developments. This week, Ken touches on ugh ... Melo, still, Rip Hamilton's situation, and the state of the CBA negotiations in this week's Friday 5 with KB

1. Well, the Russian put the kibosh on the Melo trade. You put out the reasons why it might be best for Melo to chance things with the new CBA in order to get what he really wants, the money and playing in New York. So the question then is, should Melo just say he's not going to sign the extension, period, and push for a rental trade to Houston or Dallas, or stay put?

Ken Berger (CBSSports.com):
The best way for Melo to get the Knicks and the money is still through an extend-and-trade, if Denver will come around and accept it. But you have to look at it from the Knicks' perspective, too. The more they give up for him, the less chance they will have of competing with Boston and Miami. Melo knows this, too. It's a balancing act for him between getting the place and kind of team he wants while also giving himself the best chance of getting paid. I think Melo should continue doing what he's doing, and by that I mean leave his options open. Don't sign the extension, and don't commit to whether he'll sign it or not. That's how he maintains the most leverage. Then he can take each variable as it comes. If he gets stuck with a rental deal to a deal he doesn't want to play for long-term, he still has a card to play by opting out and taking his chances with the new CBA. As I pointed out with my Melo Math column , that may not be as risky as some people think -- but there's no question there is some element of risk.

2. So Rip Hamilton really got screwed in this. Is that situation going to get resolved or was this Rip's last chance of getting out of a bad situation in Detroit?

See the Friday Post-Ups column for a full explanation, but basically your premise is correct. And not only is Rip out of luck, but so are the Pistons. It never made sense to me why Hamilton would be included in the deal because the only people it benefited were him and Joe Dumars. Now Dumars may be stuck with an unhappy Hamilton until ownership -- whoever that is -- agrees to buy him out. If that happens, I could see Hamilton signing with the Celtics and joining UConn pal Ray Allen. He'd give the Celtics a nice jolt of bench scoring.

3. The Heat are 0-4 since LeBron tweeted about karma and the Cavs. So this question is... do you believe in karma, at least in terms of what's going on with LeBron?

No. I believe in sprained ankles and sore knees, though. That's pretty much all this is.

4. Okay, Ken, give us a teaser of your All-Star picks. Does Blake Griffin make the cut?

Griffin presents the biggest dilemma for the coaches in years. It's rare -- only four rookies since 1980 have made the All-Star team, and only one of those, Tim Duncan, was added by the coaches. (The others were Shaquille O'Neal, Grant Hill, and Yao Ming.) LeBron James and Derrick Rose didn't make the cut as rookies, and Griffin probably won't, either, considering he'd have to be elevated above Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, or both. Two things: 1) Griffin certainly deserves it, but I'm not sure the coaches will snub all-timers like Duncan and Dirk, and 2) If he doesn't make it, hide the women, children and sophomores during the rookie-sophomore game.

5. The owners will apparently meet with the players at All-Star Weekend, despite reports they were considering not. I'm of the opinion the players need to stop pouting and stomping their feet when the owners do something they don't like, and start putting together substantive strategies to get the negotiations out onto open field, so to speak. Do you agree or do you think the owners really are making that impossible with their cold blooded approach?

Well, as far as negotiating protocol, it is really incumbent on the owners to make a proposal at this point. The owners made one, the players countered, and the owners have been twiddling their thumbs ever since. That seems to be their strategy, because they want the system that they proposed about a year ago -- max contracts of three or four years, a $45 million hard cap, no exceptions, 3 and 4 percent raises, etc., etc. Conversations have continued in smaller negotiating groups, but the talks aren't going to move forward until the owners make another proposal. The longer they wait, the closer they get to their goal of locking out the players and imposing their will. What can the players do? The superstars can show up at the All-Star negotiating session again and make a big show of it, but it's the lawyers and actuaries who are going to solve this problem, not Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony. Stomping feet and throwing tantrums isn't going to do any good. My questions is: At what point does the owners' indifference and unwillingness to advance the negotiations constitute unfair labor practices? I honestly don't know the answer, but I would imagine that the players' path to advancing the talks will come through a legal channel rather than public rhetoric.

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: December 10, 2010 5:25 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2010 7:10 pm

Friday 5 with KB: Moving plans aplenty

Posted by Matt Moore

1. Okay, so New Orleans has a few buyers mulling around, the league is all set to take ownership of the team, KC and Louisville are getting their checkbooks out, and meanwhile the Hornets have gone down the drain a bit. If I'm a New Orleans fan on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being a Hindu cow and 5 being that Saved by the Bell chick when she got addicted to stimulants, how freaked out should I be?

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: Well, about what? If it's the Hornets' recent struggles on the court, I'd go Hindu cow. If it's the team's long-term prospects in New Orleans, we better find you some tranquilizers. In the first game after the league purchase was announced, the Hornets grew barely more than 10,000 -- and that's paid attendance, which is easily manipulated. I can't imagine who'll show up for the Sacramento game Wednesday night. If the Hornets don't meet an attendance threshold by Jan. 31 -- and they're on pace to wildly miss the mark -- the team can opt out of its arena lease with the state. The Hornets being the deeply indebted, toxic asset they are, clearly this would enhance the potential value of the franchise in a sale because it would open the floor to more bidders and buyers. Nothing will happen this season, and I doubt any serious conversations will occur until after the lockout. But the future certainly looks grim.

2. You dropped word in the post-ups that the Nuggets are finally ready to deal Melo. Knowing the time crunch the Nugget are in with the deadline two and a half months away, is it possible teams could be applying pressure back on Denver in order to sweeten their deals?

KB: Certainly possible -- and maybe even a reason the Nuggets have quietly conveyed the impression to rival executives that they're inclined not to ride out the season with Melo if he refused to sign the extension before Feb. 24. This is the next, inevitable step in the process. In other words, step right up, folks. Bring your best offers. The landscape changes a bit Dec. 15 -- in five days -- when players who signed this past summer become trade-eligible. So far, sources say the Nuggets haven't received any offers that are better than the Nets' package centered around Derrick Favors and two first-round picks. Could that change? Any potential Melo suitors know the time is now to begin trying.

3. How much longer is the Andre Iguodala trade rumor Groundhog-Day-esque nightmare going to continue?

KB: As long as he has $56.5 million coming to him over the next four years, as long as there's one team possibly willing to absorb it, and as long as the Sixers are no better than a borderline eighth seed with him on the team.

4. You talked about the Knicks' resurgence in your quarterly report. What does New York have to do this season to take the next step, or have they hit their ceiling?

KB: Their run of 11 wins in 12 games is a little deceptive because of the competition they've faced, particularly in terms of defensive competition. But there's no doubting the potency of their offense -- and as you've pointed out, they're not benefiting from some ungodly 3-point shooting percentage that can't be sustained. They still need the same two things they needed and tried to get over the summer -- a rugged interior player to defend the basket and a dynamic wing. If they can get one of those between now and the deadline, they'll be on their way to a sure playoff berth -- maybe even a four or five seed. If they can't get Melo, they just have to make sure they don't jeopardize their future flexibility for sloppy seconds.

5. You wrote about how the Players Union's proposal has been completely ignored by the owners this week with so many non-starters. My question is this: Most of the Players' proposals only really hurt the top three to four teams in the league and would help all the little ones. Why are the smaller market teams not demanding the owners take a harder look at this proposal? Is it simply that damaging across the board or are they being bullied by the established big market teams?

KB: Let's start backwards: It certainly seems that the hard-liners are governing the owners' negotiating tactics, because there has been not a word of pushback from small-market owners to the league negotiators' treatment of the players' proposal -- which has been largely to ignore it. The owners -- at least the vast majority of them -- clearly view the players' plan as tweaks and Band-Aids where major reconstructive surgery is needed. When David Stern and Adam Silver have publicly stated on numerous occasions that they're aiming for massive changes to the sport's economic structure, no one is going to cross them publicly and give the players credit -- which they deserve -- for coming up with a handful of creative solutions.

Those solutions clearly don't go far enough in the eyes of Stern and his staunchest supporters. Plus, here's something else to chew on: The small-market owners, in particular, either believe or have been led to believe that they'll lose less money by shutting down the sport than they will by putting on another 82-game charade under the current system. In a way, Stern has gotten exactly what he wanted: By hitting the players over the head with a guillotine in the form of his draconian initial proposal, he boxed Billy Hunter into a corner. Hunter had no choice but to come back with an equally one-sided proposal, so as not to let the owners sense weakness. If a lockout is what the owners want, a lockout is what they are well on their way to achieving.

You can ask Ken a question for the Friday 5 with KB by emailing cbssportsnba@gmail.com or hitting us up on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA .
Posted on: November 12, 2010 1:35 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2010 1:40 pm

Friday 5 With KB: KG the Jerk, Heat fail, and BRI

Posted by Matt Moore

1. Kevin Garnett is not exactly the most popular guy in the world right now. Garnett seems to be the kind of guy who is loved by his friends and close circle and is abrasive to everyone else. Do you have any thoughts on his evolving legacy from lovable lunatic lose to hated psychotic champion?

Ken Berger: I think your evaluation of KG is spot on. He is like the crazy uncle that everyone is wary of and constantly nervous about what he might say or do next. But he's family, so you tolerate him. You know, the old, "He's a jerk, but he's our jerk." At this point, Garnett could care less what people think about him or what his legacy is. He's perfectly content to continue yapping and thumping his chest and winning another championship. And I don't see anything wrong with that, as long as he doesn't care that he'll never be named man of the year or Mr. Congeniality. To me, the funniest aspect of this whole episode recently was Joakim Noah calling Garnett ugly. Hey, Jo, I don't think GQ is putting you on the cover any time soon.

2. Not exactly a banner week for the Heat. Scale of 1 to 5. How much should fans  (if there are any) be pushing the panic button?

KB: I'd say 3.5. On one hand, some of this could have and should have been expected, given that basketball is a team game and you can't just plug talent into the equation like in baseball and automatically win 70 percent of your games and waltz to the championship. I know that you know that in basketball, how the pieces fit together are every bit as important -- if not more so -- than the talent itself. Eventually, the talent will shine through, and LeBron and Wade will become as deadly a combination as we thought they'd be. But there are several areas of concern that need to be watched closely: The misuse of LeBron's and Wade's best attributes when they are on the floor with a point guard, meaning neither one has the ball in his hands for too many possessions. This can (and should) be solved when Mike Miller comes back. Instead of a point guard, you put Miller on the floor with LeBron and Wade acting as interchangeable wings who take turns initiating the offense. In my mind, LeBron fits this role best. Two, the lack of size is becoming a major issue. Erick Dampier, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Three, Erik Spoelstra struck a chord when he lectured the team at halftime Thursday night about ego. It has been a real wakeup call for these three free-agent darlings who came together so effortlessly. Winning in May and June is going to prove a lot more difficult than winning in July.

3. In the Post-Ups you alluded to the improving situation in New Orleans. Now that the team looks like it's ready to compete in the playoffs again (though it's still early), is it time to start looking for what can get them to the next level, and what is that?

KB: I think it's a positive sign that the Hornets are trying to get someone CP3 would consider to be a top-tier running mate. But they're a little stuck in that regard, and here's why: Peja Stojakovic and his $14.3 million expiring contract could be easily deal to a team trying to get off a lot of future money, and if one of those pieces coming back is an elite 3-point shooter, New Orleans is better in the short run. But they future money they'd have to take back in such a deal would hamper their ability to make moves next summer -- or whenever the lockout ends and under whatever new rules exist. The most valuable asset on the NBA market right now is cap flexibility heading into the uncertainty of a new CBA, especially for low-revenue markets. So the Hornets can't allow themselves to be tempted by the prospect of getting better in the short term at the expense of hampering their flexibility heading into a new deal. 

4. You also wrote in the Post-Ups that Kevin Love is garnering offers. Why is it that the Wolves are so reticent to trade him if they won't play the man?

KB: Ah, this is a question that goes straight to the heart of the most mysterious figure in the NBA, David Kahn. I'm told in recent days that Love isn't the only player who wants out of Minnesota. Corey Brewer does, too -- but Brewer isn't making any noise publicly, or even privately. Love is doing both. Right now, the Wolves like Love's talent but are disenchanted with his attitude. I think if the right deal came along, they'd move him. Because that locker room is too fragile right now to risk keeping a malcontent on board. Maybe Kahn can trade Love for a few more point guards.

5. BRI up 3 to 3.5%, record ratings across the board. Selling the NBA store for $300 million. The league is booming. Are owners really going to walk away from the most prosperous time in recent history to prove a point? Really?
KB: Yes sir-ee-bob. A hearty contingent of owners see this as a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity to change the economics of the sport in their favor. They also know the vast majority of people will side with them, because of their inherent biases against "greedy millionaire players." This is silly, of course, but it's just the way things are. There are a couple of reasons to be encouraged: 1) sources tell me numerous owners were impressed with the players' presentation of their proposal at a recent CBA meeting, realizing that the union was offering some creative ideas as how to make the business better for everyone; and 2) there's still a lot of time. The next key time-marker in this battle is All-Star weekend, when both sides concede significant progress will need to have been made. But as in all negotiations, the real progress doesn't happen until the 11th hour. Will there be a lockout? Yes, in my opinion. Are the owners and players short-sighted enough to let it wipe out an entire season, or even as much of the season as the '98-'99 lockout did? I don't think so. Both sides realize there's too much at stake.
Posted on: October 29, 2010 2:07 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2010 2:08 pm

Friday 5 with KB: Melo, Knicks and extensions

Posted by Matt Moore

Each week we'll be bringing you five questions for our own Ken Berger of CBSSports.com about the inside happenings of the league. This week, Ken talks about the contraction issues , Denver's objectives in trade talks, and what he's looking forward to this season. You can email your questions to the Friday 5 With KB at cbssportsnba@gmail.com or hit us up on Twitter at @cbssportsnba .

1. Melo, always Melo. Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears reported from Carmelo's chapped lips what you've been saying for weeks, that it's time for a change. Every indication points to him being on his way out, yet the Nuggets go out Wednesday and blast the doors off Utah and raid the liquor cabinets. Is this thing going to hold together long enough for Ujiri to make it to Dec. 15 when free agents are eligible to be dealt... or beyond?

Ken Berger: Dec. 15 of course being when the pool of assets available to construct an acceptable Melo trade is enhanced when summer signees become trade-eligible. But clearly the clock is ticking for the Nuggets, as this is the first time Melo has gone on the record to formally express his desire to find a new home. He is trying to push the agenda by making it clear that he will not be in Denver beyond this season if the Nuggets fail to trade him. This is news to some, but not the Nuggets, who already understand the gravity of the situation despite their public statements about trying to persuade Melo to stay and sign the extension. Not gonna happen. Interestingly, the opening-night blowout -- and the prospect of an unexpectedly positive start -- are actually the worse thing that could happen to the Nuggets. If the team is playing well, there will be significant pressure on the front office not to trade Anthony. Privately, Ujiri & Co. understand that it would be easier to sell a trade to the fan base if the team were struggling. Meanwhile, conversations continue behind the scenes, with the Nets and Knicks continuing to be the most aggressive pursuers, and for good reason. Anthony won't sign an extension anywhere else, essentially. I think this saga continues to Heat up as we head toward Dec. 15.

2. The other big news this week was of course the report that the Knicks are under investigation for violation of pre-draft workout rules. I pointed out that you can't really go the usual fine-and-take-away picks route, because they have more money than God and already sent picks away. What's the word on how serious the league is taking these allegations?

The league is taking the allegations very seriously and will investigate. There's no precedent I'm aware of for forfeiture of picks in a situation like this; previously, a hefty fine has been the norm. But as you correctly point out, fining the Knicks is sort of pointless. And if the allegations are found to be credible, it will be interesting to see how the league responds, considering there's also no precedence for repetitive violations over several years.

3. You reported Thursday that Jeff Green and Rodney Stuckey would not be getting extensions, while Al Horford's looking like a long shot. Obviously the Hawks want to keep Horford, but with the other two having manageable semi-expiring contracts and the new CBA looming, is there a chance those two are on the block to any degree?

I would say no with respect to Horford. The Hawks value him, but GM Rick Sund has a long history of not doing extensions in these situations. This would be especially true given the uncertainty over the new CBA. Beyond an obvious max player like Kevin Durant, it's virtually impossible to predict what these players' market value will be under the new agreement. A revenue-challenged team like the Hawks can't afford to overpay without knowing what the rules will be going forward. As for the Pistons, I wouldn't rule anything out given the pending ownership change. But clearly Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are the more likely candidates to be traded.

4. Lot of talk this week from small market owners getting out ahead of the contraction story you reported on earlier. How much of this should we take as bluster, how much of it should we take as legitimate stand-taking?

Two things: Low-revenue teams -- and please note the distinction between low-revenue and small-market -- are justifiably nervous about the contraction talk. But most team executives recognize that contraction is first and foremost a negotiating plea tossed in their air by David Stern like a giant trial balloon. I would submit that the owners coming forward to deny that their team would be a contraction candidate is a sign of how much stress those franchises are experiencing.

5. Four days into the season, you've seen the Heat twice, one loss, one win. Outside of the ridiculously obvious "It's still early and they're learning to play together" angle, what have you noticed on the floor and off from the most hyped of the most-hyped?

KB: The dynamic between LeBron and Wade will continue to be the biggest story line surrounding the Heat. As I wrote Wednesday night, I think they have it wrong when they say they have to do what they've always done. Putting two elite talents together -- players who attack in much the same way -- necessitates that each of them will have to adjust his game. I think it'll help the process once Mike Miller returns from injury. When he does, it'll make Erik Spoelstra's decision to bench Carlos Arroyo easier. LeBron and Wade will both be more effective without a true point guard on the floor, simply because neither player's strength is operating without the ball. After they failed their first test against the Celtics, test No. 2 comes Friday night. Without a true post-up center, how do the Heat defend Dwight Howard? Other than that problem -- which 25 other teams also have -- I like what I've seen so far defensively out of the Heat. LeBron and Wade are two of the league's elite defenders, and having them both on the floor has the potential to seriously disrupt even the most poised and precise offenses.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com