Posted on: December 24, 2011 5:10 pm
Edited on: December 24, 2011 5:11 pm
By Matt Moore
The Memphis Grizzlies traded point guard Greivis Vasquez to the New Orleans Hornets Saturday for guard-forward Quincy Pondexter, via Yahoo Sports.
Vasquez, entering his second season out of Maryland, was a prominent role player for the Grizzlies' playoff run last year, surprising many with his play-making ability. But head coach Lionel Hollins has said in preseason press conferences that he was impressed with the point guard work of Jeremy Pargo, and Vasquez lacks NBA athleticism and distributing ability.
For the Hornets, it's a fine move, as Vasquez helps back up Jarrett Jack at point guard following the departure of Chris Paul to the Clippers. Pondexter got very few minutes last season, averaging just 11 per game. The Grizzlies are in desperate need of frontcourt help following the injury to Darrell Arthur, but Pondexter's 6-6 frame isn't exactly going to help in that area.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 1:39 am
Edited on: December 27, 2011 1:39 pm
Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver.
The 2011-2012 NBA season starts on Sunday, and with that comes the inaugural batch 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: Memphis Grizzlies at No. 7 Let's pump the brakes just a bit on the Grizzlies bandwagon right now. They look good and they made a lot of noise in the postseason, but how much of that was overachievement? How much of that was because of favorable matchups? The Grizzlies could be a really nice team, but a top eight power? I'm not ready to go there until they show they're actually something to be taken seriously. -- RY
2. Too Low: Portland Trail Blazers at No. 17 The Blazers had about as sucky an offseason as you could have. And we're talking about the Blazers here, a team that's had their fair share of sucky things. Greg Oden had his annual setback, Brandon Roy retired and the team still doesn't have a general manager. That said, Jamal Crawford is a perfect signing, LaMarcus Aldridge may be the West's best power forward and Nate McMillan seems to keep winning despite all the crap that falls down around him. -- RY
3. Most Overrated: Boston Celtics at No. 6 The roster is worse at virtually every position, injuries are mounting and Father Time is grasping to claim this group with both hands. The Celtics were dropkicked out of the playoffs by the Miami Heat, and the gap between the two teams has transformed into a canyon. The Big 4 can still get it done but they aren't scaring teams like they once did. It's possible to show the veterans too much respect, and that's what happened here. -- BG
4. Most Overlooked: Indiana Pacers at No. 12
The small-market Pacers have the best roster that no one is talking about. With talent at all five positions, a former All-Star added to the mix in David West plus expected growth from Paul George, Indiana could wind up being a top-5 team in the East. Their frontcourt has sneaky depth thanks to Jeff Foster, Jeff Pendergraph, Lou Amundson and Tyler Hansbrough, four guys who will do the dirty work and make life easier for West and franchise guy Danny Granger. More credit due! -- BG
5. Sure Thing: Toronto Raptors at No. 30 They stink. There's no way around it. I like DeMar DeRozan. I like Andrea Bargnani. I like Dwane Casey. I want to like the Raptors. But they aren't going to be good. -- RY
6. Wild Card: Los Angeles Clippers at No. 9 Take one look at the highlights from their preseason opening win over the Lakers and it's tempting to think the Clippers should be much higher than the No. 9 spot. Is No. 3 or No. 4 really out of the question for the league's latest and greatest flavor of the month? Of course, it's one thing to fill up highlight tapes and it's another to stack up wins. Where the Clippers settle in the West's hiearchy will be one of the biggest NBA questions to watch in January. -- BG
Posted on: December 18, 2011 5:06 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 1:22 am
Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver.
The Memphis Grizzlies are already a bit thin in terms of depth in their frontcourt and they may have suffered a big blow Sunday. According to the Commercial-Appeal, power forward Darrell Arthur left practice Sunday morning with a serious Achilles injury and the team fears he may be lost for all of the 2011-12 season.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that Arthur is done for the year after an MRI revealed a "season-ending torn right Achilles."
Ironically, Arthur had just returned to practice after having a sore left Achilles.
Arthur was a solid backup to Zach Randolph last season and without him in the rotation, the Grizzlies will have to look to signing a free agent or maybe the D-League for depth. Because they don't even have a backup for Marc Gasol as of now.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:28 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 4:01 pm
Posted by Royce Young
We're less than two weeks away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We begin with the Southeast Division.
San Antonio Spurs, 61-21, lost in first round of Western Conference playoffs to Memphis Grizzlies
Dallas Mavericks, 57-25, won the NBA title
New Orleans Hornets, 46-36, lost in first round of Western Conference playoffs to Los Angeles Lakers
Memphis Grizzlies, 46-36, lost in second round of Western Conference playoffs to Oklahoma City Thunder
Houston Rockets, 43-39, NBA Draft lottery
Best team: Dallas Mavericks
Here's the situation for the Mavericks: They're the defending champions, but they lost a major piece of that puzzle in Tyson Chandler to free agency. They replaced him with Lamar Odom, who they had to give up nothing to get, and added Delonte West and Vince Carter to make up for Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and J.J. Barea.
Question is, are they better than last season? My answer: No idea. Nobody really knew how good the Mavs were until the postseason last year and that might be the case again. But with Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, this group will win its share of games, get a nice seed and set itself up for another run at a title.
Worst team: New Orleans Hornets
And that's maybe even before they get Chris Paul traded. Forget the fact that the Hornets only have six NBA players on their roster right now. Losing David West really hurts. Losing Carl Landry really hurts. Heck, losing Aaron Gray really hurts. And you know you're not in good shape when losing Aaron Gray really hurts.
Even if CP3 is handcuffed to The Big Easy for this season, the Hornets are headed for the bottom of the Southwest and most definitely the lottery. That's what's so frustrating about the original trade that fell apart. With Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Lamar Odom, this team was a playoff contender. Now, it'll be a battle to win 30.
Biggest surprise: Houston Rockets
Did you know: Last season the Rockets finished with 43 wins in maybe the toughest division in basketball? Did you know that would've put them as the sixth seed in the East? And yet they missed the postseason in the West. Such is life. General manager Daryl Morey is trying to do everything to ramp up the roster a bit and while it looks like he'll be hanging on to Scola and Martin for a while, he's got a group that can win. Kyle Lowry really came into his own last season and if the Rockets can somehow figure out how to get into the Nene sweepstakes, this team is a playoff contender. Heck, it already is.
Three Best Players: Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Zach Randolph
Chris Paul is included because as of right now, he's still in the Southwest Division. Dirk was a no-brainer, but Zach Randolph was a tough choice. Because you'll notice a key name omitted. Starts with "Tim" and ends with "Multiple Championships." Reason for Duncan being left off is that with the crammed 66-game schedule, this season could really wear on him. He was already sitting out the second game of back-to-backs in the normal 82-game set. But this could really affect his game. Randolph blossomed into one of the league's premier power forwards in the postseason, working over Duncan's Spurs.
Biggest Question: Does New Orleans start the season with Chris Paul?
A week ago, the answer to that was "Duh, no." Now, it's looking like there could actually be that awkward moment where Chris Paul has to take the floor in New Orleans in front of a home crowd. Nothing is hanging over the NBA quite like this trade saga and it will greatly impact the balance of power in this division. Chris Paul is good enough to win the Hornets games on his own. Take him away and replace him with a rebuilding group of youngsters and you just added four more wins to each team in this division. Everyone wants to know where CP3 is going. We know it's not going to be New Orleans, but right now he's chained to the water heater in the basement of New Orleans Arena. It's just a matter of when he'll be set free.
2012 Projected Standings:
1. Dallas Mavericks
2. San Antonio Spurs
3. Memphis Grizzlies
4. Houston Rockets
5. New Orleans Hornets
Posted on: December 11, 2011 11:44 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 12:21 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Deals, non-deals, endless rumors and more. It was a wild opening weekend for the abbreviated 2011 NBA free agency period. Here's an extended look at who won and lost over the first 72 hours. Let's break it down: from the biggest moves to the smallest signings, from the trades that weren't to the guys who remain unsigned.
The Biggest Deal
The NBA came to a standstill when a proposed 3-team trade between the New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets that would have sent Chris Paul to L.A. fell apart twice thanks to vetoes from NBA commissioner David Stern.
Winners: Orlando Magic
This fiasco was even uglier than the lockout, which is saying something. All the key parties wound up losing one way or another – see below -- but the Magic slide in as winners because the Lakers emerged from the weekend without acquiring a second superstar to pair with Kobe Bryant, and with both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, two excellent potential trade chips for Dwight Howard, still on the roster. The Magic win whether L.A. ends up pairing those two in a deal for Howard or if the idea of such a deal simply sits out there as a potential offer against which Howard’s other suitors must match up. Orlando needs a bidding war in the worst way and the Paul failure ensures that L.A. still has plenty of motivation, and attractive pieces, to actively bid.
Losers: Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets
Paul was seemingly inches from an NBA second life and a brand new level of fame. Instead, he returns to a camp with a roster in tatters and the news that longtime running mate David West is Indiana-bound. His future couldn’t be more uncertain amid the confusion and he’s now forced to deal with questions day after day with no short-term end in sight. Sounds awesome! Thanks, boss.
Hornets GM Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams, meanwhile, are left with a frustrated Paul who obviously still wants out, a barren roster and serious questions about their autonomy as a basketball operations group, not to mention the fact that the league-owned situation could result in another franchise sale at some point in the near future. All this for a team that -- less than a year ago -- was a dynamic playoff force that gave the Lakers a run for their money. The ground fell out from under them.
Monumental Loser: David Stern
It wasn’t just the tremendously questionable decision to veto the trades that makes Stern a loser. It was the way the process unfolded. On what should have been the most exciting time on the NBA calendar following months of petty bickering during the lockout, the spotlight wound up back on Stern. Vetoing the trade directly alienated his league’s most important team, completely undermined the team he operates, and handcuffed the poor Houston Rockets, who were in the middle of a critical strategic time in their franchise’s post-Yao history. The delayed explanation for the veto led to a virtual standstill in other moves, as everyone around the league waited for the largest domino to fall. The eventual attempts at explanation were vague and way too late, leading to an open season of criticism of Stern and talk of walkouts from training camp. One player, Lamar Odom, was so upset by the trade talk limbo that he followed through on that threat, finding himself dumped to the Dallas Mavericks for virtually nothing. Now that it’s all said and done, the Hornets can look forward to worse offers for Paul and/or the prospect that he walks from the team as soon as free agency allows. Nice.
Other Big Deals
It’s great when solid matches come together fairly cleanly. New York made no secret of its desire for Chris Paul but was smart enough not to waste precious time on what ended up being a sinkhole. Targeting Chandler and making the necessary moves to acquire him – amnestying Chauncey Billups and trading Ronny Turiaf – took creativity and guts, and the eventual payoff is the best 3-4-5 combination in the NBA. Chandler fills New York’s biggest need and comes in at a reasonable $58 million over four years, a deal that will carry him through the rest of his prime years.
Chandler manages to cash in his new-found respect from the 2011 title team with an excellent pay day from a marquee franchise that is clearly on the upswing. Knicks fans will love his game (as long as he stays healthy, of course).
Kudos to the Warriors for doing the right thing with Charlie Bell by telling him to stay away from training camp after he showed up drunk to a court hearing following his second DUI arrest in under a year. It was time to take a stand and they took it. That stand didn’t need to include burning the team’s amnesty clause to release Bell’s paltry $4.1 million salary. With David Lee, Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins all on the books for big-time money, the amnesty is a critical protection against injury for the Warriors. With a bunch of promising youngsters in place, it will be a shame if an unforeseen, devastating injury slows the organization’s ability to wheel and deal because they burned the amnesty toon soon and wind up crippled when it comes to cap flexibility.
Why did the Clippers bother to amnesty Bell? For the right to make a substantial offer to Los Angeles Clippers restricted free agent center DeAndre Jordan, a player that team consultant Jerry West appeared to question in an interview this weekend. Clippers owner Donald Sterling is impossible to pin down but his management team is highly motivated to retain Jordan, and will almost certainly match the offer given, leaving Golden State with nothing except $4 million of cap room to show for their misguided efforts.
Marc Gasol, like Chandler, was one of the premier names in this weak free agent class. He will reportedly cash in to a similar degree: receiving a 4 year, $55 million offer sheet from the Rockets that the Grizzlies are expected to match. Retaining Gasol was a critical momentum move in Memphis, as the miracle playoff run to defeat the San Antonio Spurs would have been a distant memory if Gasol was allowed to walk and leave a major hole in the middle. Instead, it’s back for more fun for one of the grittiest, most underappreciated groups in the game. Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley answered the questions about whether he would step up and pay to play, inking Gasol, forwards Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay and guard Michael Conley to big-time extensions. Good times in Tennessee.
Losers: Los Angeles Lakers and Lamar Odom
Surely seller’s remorse is sinking in after an emotional rollercoaster of a weekend in L.A., which saw the Lakers immediately grant Odom’s trade request, shipping him out of town for nothing more than cap relief and a heavily protected first round pick. The fact that he lands on a major conference rival makes this a very meaningful talent swing and the Lakers are capped out to the point where replacing his many contributions will be exceedingly difficult in the short-term. It’s no surprise that Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher weren’t all that psyched about this move. The Lakers couldn’t have gotten less for Odom and he couldn’t have gone to a worse destination, other than maybe the Oklahoma City Thunder.
On the other hand, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban emerges as a major winner, having flipped a simple trade exception acquired from New York in the Chandler signing for a top-flight, versatile player still in his prime years who happens to be on an affordable, flexible contract. All in less than 24 hours. Meanwhile, a similarly massive trade exception created by LeBron James’ departure still sits unused by the Cleveland Cavaliers and owner Dan Gilbert. Please advise.
Dwight Howard Saga
Winner: Dwight Howard
It might come with a public relations price, but it probably feels like a huge relief for Howard knowing that the world now gets where he stands: he’s formally requested a trade and has been in contact with teams on his wish list. No more goofy games or beating around the bush. He’s a major step closer to a certain future. The scrutiny will surely increase but at least people, especially Magic fans, have a better idea of where he’s coming from and how they should manage their expectations.
Loser: Otis Smith
It doesn’t get any worse than watching your CEO drunk dial Howard and then promptly resign. Oh, wait, yes it does. Your franchise announces major layoffs and Howard tells the world that he hasn’t had any contact with you since requesting a trade and that you never listened to him when he made personnel suggestions. Oh, yeah, you can also make an illogical 4-year, $25 million commitment to Jason Richardson, a veteran wing on the precipice of decline, when everyone knows you should be looking for any possible way to reduce payroll. Brutal. On the bright side, as mentioned above, at least the Lakers are still in play to help the Magic save some face.
Winners: Indiana Pacers and David West
The Pacers land West, one of the biggest and most proven names on the free agent market who fits in nicely to a well-balanced, fairly deep roster that has talent at all five positions. A nice mix of veterans, youngsters and some solid bigs make this a group that might just compete for homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs next season. The price for West – 2 years and $20 million – is totally reasonable and hedged nicely against possible deterioration from his recent knee injury and aging. West scores a ticket out of a totally shipwreck in New Orleans, a solid pay day and the chance to hit free agency one more time in two years before his value starts to really diminish.
You can be as high on Thornton’s upside as you like: it’s very, very difficult to justify spending $31 million over four seasons on a guy who has the same skillset as the two players that you’re most heavily invested in, Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette. With one of the lowest payrolls in the league and a need to up that number in a hurry, it’s not like Sacramento spent its way into a corner here, but there’s simply no way to maximize the effectiveness of Evans, Fredette and Thornton at the same time. Evans and Fredette are 22 and Thornton is 24. Thornton doesn’t meaningfully help you win now and he necessitates a stunted or unorthodox development pattern for Fredette and will almost certainly wind up in staring contests over shot selection with Evans. The money had to be spent and at least it wasn’t spread over five years, but $31 million should solve problems, not create new ones.
Having A Plan
Winners: Miami Heat
Getting Mario Chalmers, a quality point guard who was headed for free agency, for 3-years and $12 million, with a team option on the last year to boot, is an excellent value. Getting Shane Battier for the mini Mid-Level Exception is downright ridiculous. By the way, the Heat brought back James Jones, brought in Eddy Curry and managed to retain Mike Miller. Simply amazing. Miami emerged from the weekend as the overwhelming title favorites.
Losers: Portland Trail Blazers
During a Monday press conference, Portland announced its intentions of starting Brandon Roy and spoke excitedly about the prospect of Greg Oden’s return. By Friday, Roy had decided to pursue a medical retirement, apparently without giving the team any notice, and Oden had suffered yet another medical “setback” that puts his 2011-2012 into jeopardy. Then, with executives scrambling to pursue contingency plans, franchise forward LaMarcus Aldridge was forced to undergo a heart procedure that is expected to keep him out up to two weeks. The Blazers salvaged the weekend by signing veteran Kurt Thomas to fill a much-needed hole, but wound up giving a 2-year deal to a 39-year-old. After all of that, the team is still weighing whether or not to amnesty Roy. That’s a tough stretch.
Winners: Washington Wizards
The Wizards scored a draft pick and Ronny Turiaf for virtually nothing thanks to the cash considerations included by the Knicks for their work in facilitating the Chandler trade. Filling a roster hole for free and grabbing a future asset is always a win.
Loser: Chauncey Billups
Billups compounded a tough situation – getting amnestied by the Knicks without much warning – by flipping out publicly in the hope that he would scare off potential bidders for his services. He could quickly change from loser to winner if his nuclear strategy works and he winds up getting to pick a contender to latch on to, but for now a guy who was always known as a class act sure looks like a jerk. How many times do you think Billups has said “the NBA is a business” during interviews? 10,000? How do you forget all of that so quickly and threaten to disrupt a team’s locker room? He crossed a line.
Winners: Phoenix Suns
They weren’t flashy moves, but re-signing veteran forward Grant Hill back for just $6.5 million and snatching up former Lakers guard Shannon Brown for $3.5 million were very nice value plays that addressed needs. Of course, the Suns have made their fair share of mistakes in recent years, so value plays were about the only moves at their disposal.
Loser: J.J. Barea
Who is going to pay this man? Have we figured that out yet? Had there not been a lockout and had the old Mid-Level Exception system been in place, he likely would have seen a monster financial bonanza off of his impressive NBA playoffs. Instead, he waits and wonders. He could very well still get paid, but something says this free agency process didn't play out quite like he expected. Update: On Monday morning comes word that Barea will get his money, $19 million over 4-years, but is signing with the 17-win Minnesota Timberwolves to do it. From first to worst. Ouch.
Posted on: December 11, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 8:50 pm
Posted by Royce Young
UPDATE: According to NBA.com, Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley follows through on his promise and the team intends to match Marc Gasol's offer sheet from the Rockets for four years, $55 million.
“We’re keeping Marc,” Heisley said. “We can’t afford to let him go … Marc and his agent have to decide what they want to do. But we would definitely match that if that came up to us.”
Gasol tweeted late Monday: "I'm proud to say that we have reached a tentative agreement with my team @memgrizz, can't wait to get on the court with all my teammates!"
It's been a whirlwind week for the Houston Rockets but come hell or high water, Daryl Morey is getting himself a new big man to replace Yao Ming.
First, it was going to be Pau Gasol, possibly combined with Nene. Now that neither of those things appear to be happening, Morey and the Rockets are going to try and get their Gasol anyway. But in this case, the younger, fuzzier version that's also known as Marc.
According to multiple reports, the Rockets are preparing a four-year, $55 million offer sheet for Marc Gasol. The thinking is, if the Grizzlies don't plan to match the offer sheet on Gasol who is a restricted free agent, Memphis would work a sign-and-trade with the Rockets.
But they're totally going to. No doubt.
Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley has said the team plans to do everything to keep Gasol and recent reports indicated Memphis would match "any offer" for Gasol. But even if that offer is a max deal? Heisley said this in May:
"Marc will decide whether he wants to be here. We will aggressively go after him," Heisley said. "He's a restricted free agent, so we can match whatever's out there. But obviously if Marc wants to leave, I'm going to have a different attitude than if he wants to stay. I hope he wants to stay. And after what we've done in the playoffs, I think he will."
There's a chance Gasol just wants to leave Memphis and if he resists the Grizzlies matching, that's where the chance of a sign-and-trade comes in. I think you be sure the Grizzlies want to match, but it's just a matter of if Gasol wants to be there or not.
Of note: That was before Gasol had an outstanding postseason and upped his value by a couple of million. If the Grizzlies were planning on matching this offer, that means they'd have pretty much every penny they have to spare tied up in Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and Gasol. Like I, and others have said, is that the type of long-term core you can win a title with? It's a fine team, no doubt, but with pretty much all your eggs in those four players' baskets, are you too committed to it?
What this could mean is Gay is expendable. Because it's hard to see how they can have three max deals, along with Conley's $9 million per season and keep it all together.
The Commercial-Appeal reports the Grizzlies have already offered Gasol a five-year deal for presumably somewhere in the $60 million range. And if he's already resisting that, that could be a bad sign for Memphis.
The Rockets are trying to pick up the pieces after their blockbuster three-way trade for Pau fell through over the weekend. Without a big man and the fact Chuck Hayes has already signed with Sacramento, Morey is scrambling to try and do something. Offering Gasol is a bit of a long shot, but it's a shot Morey is kind of forced to take at this point.
The Grizzlies will likely do everything they can to match. Heisley wasn't just blowing smoke -- the organization loves the younger Gasol, especially with the fact he's just 26 and likely could be trending into an elite big man group. His 2010-11 season was a bit underwhelming in terms of stats (11.7 points, 7.0 rebounds per game), but you pay for good seven-footers. And Gasol is certainly one.
It's just a matter of who is going to be doing the paying here -- Memphis or Houston?
Posted on: December 6, 2011 8:21 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 12:47 pm
Posted by Royce Young
When you have a season, you have to have a schedule. That's how it works, right?
Though it's abbreviated and not every city will see every team, the NBA put out its 66-game schedule Tuesday night.
And as it typically goes, within each schedules there your usual dregs and ho-hum matchups and there are big, storyline-filled mega showdowns. So let's get to it. What are the can't-miss games for this NBA season? Here are 21 you need to clear the calendar for, excluding the obvious can't-miss slate of Christmas games:
Dec. 26: Memphis at San Antonio:
It was stunning at the time, but after watching the Grizzlies rip through the Spurs before bowing out to the Thunder in seven-game, it felt like we should've seen this coming. And this was with the Grizzlies missing their best scorer in Rudy Gay.
Dec. 26: Los Angeles Lakers at Sacramento Kings
Jimmer Mania will finally get off to its NBA start and the league was kind enough to let it begin at home. You can be sure Sacto will be buzzing with the hated Lakers coming to town and Jimmer's debut, but there could be more to the hype than that. There could be a little optimism for the Kings are Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and company might have a little something brewing this season.
Dec. 26: Oklahoma City at Minnesota
Before there was Jimmer Mania, there was Rubio Fever. We've just had to wait a while for it. Anctipation! Kevin Love will finally be able to believe what he sees as the floppy-haired Spaniard takes the floor with the Timberwolves for the first time against Durant, Westbrook and the Thunder.
Dec. 27: Boston at Miami
The first meeting between the Heat and Celtics since last season's playoff series. It's no secret that LeBron and Wade don't really get along well with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The more teams don't like each other, the better.
Dec. 29: New York at Los Angeles Lakers
Maybe the two most visible franchises in the league with two rosters full of stars. Amar'e Stoudemire head-to-head against Pau Gasol is an awesome matchup, but if we're lucky, it'll be iso battles between Melo and Kobe for the last couple minutes of the game.
Dec. 29: Dallas at Oklahoma City
The first Thunder opportunity for payback and redemption would've come almost two months into the old season, but now it gets to happen right away. You can be sure the Arena Formerly Known As The Ford Center will be amped about this one. The last time the Mavericks were in Oklahoma City, they broke the Thunder’s heart with that ridiculous 15-point comeback. No way Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder fans have forgotten.
Jan. 1: Cleveland at New Jersey
Top pick Kyrie Irving will have a handful of games under his belt by the time he heads to New Jersey, but this will be his first game against an elite point guard. How will he hold up against Deron Williams? This could be a quick welcome-to-the-NBA moment for the Cavs new franchise kid.
Jan. 5: Dallas at San Antonio
The old champs versus the new ones provides a new twist to an old rivalry. These two Texas titans have never gotten along and have had some pretty awesome games over the past decade or so. You can be sure that for once, Dirk and the Mavs will have a bit more swagger in Dallas as the Mavs take the floor against Tim Duncan and the Spurs. Funny how a ring can do that.
Jan. 13: Chicago at Boston
It's the Thibodeau Bowl. The Celtics might be aging but you know they aren't going to just hand the East over. The Bulls are rising and you know they want to rub last year's triumph over the Celtics in the regular season in their face.
Jan. 14: Lakers "at" Clippers
By no means have the Clippers caught up to the Lakers, but there is a chance that this team could be pretty decent. After a horrific start to last season, the Clippers put together a solid last four months of the season. Some might be looking at this game as a changing-of-the-guard type of affair -- which it's not -- but the Clippers could definitely raise some eyebrows.
Jan. 14: New Jersey at Utah
It'll certainly be more unceremonious as LeBron's return to Cleveland, but Deron Williams coming back to Utah will definitely have the attention of Jazz fans. There's some that still blame Jerry Sloan's retirement on Williams and that whole situation didn't sit well in Salt Lake. Williams will likely feel some anger from Jazz fans, even if it's not entirely deserved.
Jan. 19: Los Angeles Lakers at Miami
I'm not totally sure, but I think Kobe is still in American Airlines Center shooting. Kobe loves beating LeBron and you know the feeling is mutual. Two of the league's biggest, most visible teams with the two biggest, most visible stars. If you aren't watching, I have to wonder what the heck you could possibly be doing.
Jan. 20: Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando
The first time the Lakers visit the Magic. The question is, will Dwight Howard be playing home, or away?
Jan. 29: Chicago at Miami
A rematch of the Eastern Finals. Derrick Rose's last memory of the Heat is LeBron and Wade storming back in Chicago and stealing Game 5 when the Bulls had it all but won. These two teams will likely be the class of the East and with this being the first meeting of the season, somebody's going to make a statement.
Feb. 9: Los Angeles Lakers at Boston
It's the league's best rivalry, maybe sports' best rivalry. Every Celtics-Lakers game is an event. I don't think I even need to give you reasons why this game is huge.
Feb. 17: Miami at Cleveland
LeBron returns, again. It's the third time he's played in Cleveland since "The Decision" and some of the sting certainly has worn off, at least in that fans won't be buying tickets ONLY to yell at LeBron. But you can be sure that an unusual amount of Maverick blue will be littered throughout Quicken Loans Arena.
Feb. 17: New Orleans at New York
Take a good look at Chris Paul and wish, Knicks fans, assuming CP3 still is in NOLA. You know he's a free agent in 2012 and you know he'd look pretty nice alongside Amar'e and Melo. But he's on the other side right now and there's a pretty good chance he's going to drive you crazy, at least on this night.
Feb. 23: Lakers at Oklahoma City
The Lakers always bring out the best in Thunder fans, and that's saying something. Kobe, Durant, Westbrook, Bynum, Gasol, Harden, Perkins -- the names are there and the games are always good.
March 25: Miami at Oklahoma City
LeBron and Kevin Durant. Two of basketballs most enjoyable, explosive talents that are always easy on the eye. The Thunder have always been painted as the anti-Heat, but the young kids from OKC don't care about making a statement for the little guy. There may be a good storyline, but it's more about a really good Eastern team versus a really good Western team.
April 1: Miami at Boston
LeBron and Wade return to the scene of one of their greatest crimes. The Heat opened the season in Boston and took an embarrassing, humbling loss at the hands of the Celtics but got revenge in the postseason, besting the Celtics in five with the final game coming on the parquet. It's not exactly a rivalry, but again, the Heat don't enjoy the Celtics and the Celtics certainly don't enjoy the Heat.
April 15: Miami at New York
The two supposed "super" teams meeting in Madison Square Garden with potential Eastern seeding implications? Yes, please. LeBron against Melo is good stuff no matter what, but you can be sure the Knicks will be trying to push the Heat with a stronger roster by this point.
Posted on: December 5, 2011 3:46 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 11:40 am
Posted by Royce Young
The NBA schedule is set to be officially released Tuesday night on NBA TV, but already bits and pieces are starting to be leaked. Here's a run-down.