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Tag:Portland Trail Blazers
Posted on: October 28, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: October 28, 2011 4:07 pm
 

NBA Lockout Buzz: Friday

Posted by Royce Young

Is it starting to feel like we're entering the home stretch portion of the NBA Lockout? From here to the finish line, stick with CBSSports.com's Lockout Buzz posts to get the very latest news and rumors concerning the ongoing collective bargaining agreement negotiations. These posts will update regularly.

Agent says deal could be done Saturday?

According to NBA.com: a "prominent agent says union informed him that deal could be reached by Saturday."

Team employees advised to be ready?

Via Deadspin, some teams are informing low-level employees to be ready to resume work Monday. "The New Jersey Nets ticket sales office, idle for most of the fall, is holding a series of hastily called meetings today under the theme "Be Ready." One staffer tells us that a department-wide email has been circulated, instructing employees that "it's time to get back to work." The short-staffed 76ers' team office has been told that Monday will be "all hands on deck," as per orders from the league."

That could be something to read in to, and it could be something that's just conjecture because of all the recent optimism. Whatever the case, it seems like good news which is fun to see. But before you get too ramped up, SB Nation reports those type of emails have gone out a few times before.

Amnesty overhaul?

According to ESPN.com, there's a push from Spurs' owner Peter Holt to tweak the amnesty clause proposal. Teams would be allowed to have at least two years to decide whether or not to amnesty one player. The concept has to be haggled out a bit more according to the report, but there's reportedly enough support to get it push through in the new labor deal.

Arenas keeping dates open?

Via the New York Times, league officials who are anticipating a resolution are prepping for an 82-game season by calling arenas across the league asking them to keep dates open in late April.

An Oklahoma City arena official told me that they have not been contacted by anyone yet about keeping dates open for an 82-game schedule.

Paul Allen sent to observe Kessler?

A lot was made of Blazers owner Paul Allen making an appearance to supposedly "deliver a message" which is what helped talks to fall apart last week. But according to TrueHoop, that's not exactly what happened.

"NBA sources, however, say it was nothing of the sort. In fact, they say, he was there at the invitation of the NBA's negotiators to watch Kessler. Allen was one of several owners who thought Stern and Silver had made players an overly generous offer of 50 percent of basketball-related income. The league's lead negotiators essentially replied: go see for yourself. You think you can get Kessler to go for 47 percent? Good luck to you."

Owners move off steep luxury tax?

SI.com reports that owners have moved away from a steeply punitive luxury tax system in the latest rounds of NBA lockout talks. But as the New York Times reports, "Some notes of caution on NBA labor talks: 'very, very difficult system issues' still to be settled, source says, including luxury tax plan."

The system is likely all but settled, but iron out the final details will be a slippery slope to walk down for the two sides Friday.
Posted on: October 27, 2011 6:52 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 6:58 pm
 

Blazers C Greg Oden: I am able to run again

Posted by Ben Gollivergreg-oden

December 5, 2009. That's the last time Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden played in an NBA game.

Needless to say the last two years have been a long journey. Oden has endured multiple knee surgeries and sweated through endless rehabilitation since that last game, against the Houston Rockets. His agent said that he underwent interventions, he visited a sports psychologist and he told a newspaper that he had "definitely cut back" on drinking and partying.

Back in June, the Blazers extended Oden an $8.8 million qualifying offer on the hope that he might make good on the potential they saw when they made the 7-footer the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

The details of Oden's current rehabilitation have remained mostly a mystery, as he has been virtually invisible during the lockout, working out in Los Angeles and only rarely agreeing to interviews.

On Thursday, Oden provided the first true update to his status in months on his official Facebook page.

"In LA right now working out," Oden wrote. "I ran the other day for the first time in awhile. Felt good!"

The message comes two weeks after Oden noted: "Hoping this lockout ends soon."

Back in April, Oden said that he was "nowhere near" returning to the court and that being able to run was "over five months away." 6 1/2 months later, running is finally in his rearview.

What does that mean for his future availability? Well, it's one indication that he is on -- or nearly on -- schedule. In June, Oden's agent, Bill Duffy, said it could be January 2012 before Oden returns to the court. By comparison, Oden missed 13 months after undergoing microfracture surgery prior to his rookie season. A January return would mean a 14-month recovery from his most recent microfracture surgery, which was performed less than one year after he underwent surgery on the same knee to repair a fractured patella.  

The Blazers are seemingly tied to Oden for the long haul despite his injury history. Aging center Marcus Camby or playing franchise power forward LaMarcus Aldridge out of position are their only other options in the middle. Oden is set to enter restricted free agency once the ongoing NBA lockout is lifted, but it's unclear what his market value will be. It's also unclear whether he would prefer to sign the one-year qualifying offer with the Blazers so that he could become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2012 or to negotitate a long-term extension. 

Oden, now 23, has played in just 82 games combined in the four seasons since he was drafted out of The Ohio State University. He has posted career averages of 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 22.1 minutes per game.
Posted on: October 26, 2011 1:19 pm
 

Aldridge trying to woo Crawford to Blazers?

By Matt Moore

LaMarcus Aldridge was on Twitter Tuesday night, discussing his upcoming charity game. (Everyone gets a charity game this summer/fall. "You get an All-Star charity game! And you get an All-Star charity game!") In the course of it, Jamal Crawford came up. Then suddenly, it turned into a discussion of talking Crawford, an unrestricted free agent when the lockout ends, into coming to Portland. 
Rip City when @JCrossover come play in my game we need to make him feel at home so he will sign with us!
via Twitter / @aldridge_12: Rip City when @JCrossover ....

Crawford responded positively to the comments on his own Twitter account, and is from Seattle, so he's got a connection to the Northwest. He was also rumored to be targeted by former Blazers GM Rich Cho last year in trade talks.  So on the surface, this makes a lot of sense. Crawford wants to go somewhere he feels wanted, and Portland would definitely make him feel that way. 

Just one problem.

It's a terrible idea. The Blazers have nearly... wait for it... $90 million  invested in Brandon Roy and Wesley Matthews over the next four seasons. With Gerald Wallace the small forward for their indefinite future (even if he's playing power-forward with LMA at center in smaller lineups, he functions as a small forward), you're looking at pouring quite a bit of money into Crawford, who is coming off of a sensational playoff appearance with Atlanta, and who plays at a position that generally is overpaid in the first place (volume-scorer shooting guard). 

Paul Allen is stomping up and down the NBA lockout negotiations because of his desire to curb salaries. But the Blazers' history, from overpaying for Wesley Matthews at the time (a move that worked out and looks reasonable for the duration of his contract, provided his production maintains with more minutes) to granting Brandon Roy the extension despite knowing the condition of his knees, points to a pattern of overpaying for marginal contributions. Crawford is 31. He'll still be a solid contributor at both ends for whoever winds up signing him, but even if Brandon Roy is given the amnesty, which seems unlikely given the franchise's position towards Roy, adding Crawford doesn't add up. And that's before we explore the money likely given to Greg Oden in restricted free agency.

Also, note that this is LaMarcus Aldridge, who has historically had an icy relationship with Brandon Roy, actively campaigning for what would essentially be his replacement. Maybe LMA thinks Crawford will play small forward in a small lineup with Wallace at the 4. But that's an awful lot of shots to have to go around should he get his way.  
Posted on: October 22, 2011 4:41 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 4:52 pm
 

NBA disputes Paul Allen reports, digs deeper

Posted by Ben Golliverpaul-allen

When Thursday's labor negotiations between the NBA and its players broke down, Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen emerged as an obvious villain. National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter said that Allen was sent into the negotiating room to deliver an ultimatum from the NBA's Board of Governors and the union's chief lawyer, Jeffrey Kessler, said the meeting was "hijacked" by Allen's presence.

On Friday, NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver defended Allen, disputing these accounts of events in an interview with The Oregonian.
"I do not understand why his presence has taken on a life of its own as if he was sent in to deliver a message to the players," Silver said. 

"Paul is in the same position as every other owner. He wants a system where every team is in a position to compete for a championship and every team, if managed properly, has a chance to make a profit. 

"In no way was his presence intended to send a message." 
The plot thickens, though, because a sportswriter for the paper noted that the NBA and the Portland Trail Blazers would only make Silver available for an interview with a specific reporter who usually does not cover the Blazers. The writer also said that the NBA and/or the Blazers threatened to have Silver interview with a competitor if they did not agree to those terms.

Yes, you read that correctly. The NBA just allegedly disputed that one of their owners issued a "take it or leave it" ultimatum to the players by issuing a "take it our leave it" ultimatum to a newspaper. They allegedly decided to make it clear that Allen didn't issue a statement that pre-conditioned the negotiations by pre-conditioning their disputed account. They allegedly defended Allen from charges of a "my way or the highway" attitude by threatening the paper with the most basic "my way or the highway" tactic known to media.

Well, the NBA is nothing if not consistent!

As Ken Berger of CBSSports.com eloquently put it, this is circus behavior.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 12:08 am
Edited on: October 21, 2011 3:22 pm
 

Paul Allen emerges as latest lockout villain

Posted by Ben Golliver

The NBA lockout gained its first true villain when Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett allegedly helped hijack labor talks a week or so ago. (NBA commissioner David Stern and NBPA executive director Billy Hunter have been reviled for so long that they don't count as villains any more.)

Garnett, the story went, interjected into the discussions to stamp his foot down and launch into one of his patented intimidation acts, sending a message to both the league's owners and his own union leadership that he was there to draw a line in the sand. Garnett caught hell for this story, of course, because he's a bully on the court, he's stubborn, he's a little bit off his rocker, he was called uninformed as to the state of earlier negotiations and, most importantly, he's rich beyond his wildest dreams, having netted career NBA earnings of more than $200 million. 

But everything said about Garnett goes double, triple, or one hundred fold, for Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen. And, wouldn't you know it, Allen emerged on Thursday as the latest villain of the ongoing NBA lockout charade.

Hunter said in a news conference that Allen was tasked with telling the players union that the owners would refuse to negotiate if the players would not agree to a 50/50 revenue split. Hunter said he responded by asking whether they could table that issue to return to a discussion of system issues, and Allen only responded with silence. Shortly thereafter, talks broke down.



Allen is Garnett on steroids.

You want stubborn? Allen rode his pipe dream of running a cable company all the way to the ground, losing billions of dollars and eventually declaring bankruptcy.

You want off his rocker? He's currently being sued by his own ex-military bodyguards amidst allegations of illegal activity, his helicopter recently crashed during an excursion to Antarctica and, oh yeah, he's gone through two general managers and a vice president of basketball operations since the 2010 NBA Draft. He passes his time, including on Thursday morning, exchanging tweets about what rock song the Seattle Seahawks, his NFL franchise, should play at practice. Carroll plays along, of course, because he, like every Allen employee, knows his job depends on it.

You want "uninformed" on the state of the negotiations? Allen deputized team president Larry Miller to attend Board of Governors meetings and labor negotiations on his behalf. He put exactly the same amount of blood, sweat and tears into the possibility of a labor agreement as Garnett: none. 

You want emotional? Allen recently wrote an autiobiography that included many unflattering stories about, and a recounting of decades-old grudges towards, his Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, one of the world's greatest philanthropists. The book led to a falling out between the two men, who had been friends since high school, with Allen admitting during a television interview that Gates had stopped talking to him.

And, of course, there's the money issue. All you need to know about that is that Allen has a private island for sale, owns multiple yachts (one of which cost $200 million to make, nearly as much money as Garnett has earned during his NBA career), and has a helipad on the roof of the Rose Garden, Portland's home arena. Forbes pegged his net worth at $13.2 billion on a recent list of the 400 richest Americans, a figure that made him worth more than the next two richest NBA owners on the list, combined. 

Why, you might be asking, would the owners pick Allen, of all people, to deliver the hard-line message to the union that ultimately led to the disintegration of talks and all sorts of harsh accusations on Thursday?

Because he's so rich that he's immune to the criticism, as capable of buying silence and peace of mind for himself as anyone on the planet. A man who has been cleanly divorced from the common man for decades. A man who claims to have lost a billion dollars on the Blazers in his two decades of ownership and therefore couldn't care less about the fallout that results from a nuclear explosion in the middle of labor talks.

Allen refused to take questions from the media after firing GM Kevin Pritchard on the night of the 2010 NBA Draft and again refused questions when he abruptly fired GM Rich Cho in May. He doesn't care about accountability and he definitely doesn't care about the notion of a "fair deal for both sides." All he cares about, in the end, is pursuing his own self-interest to the max. Allen answers to no one, ever. If he can toss aside a childhood friend, business partner and colleague like Bill Gates, why are we or the NBPA surprised in the slightest that he is only willing to negotiate on his terms? Everything is take it or leave it with him.

Allen in the ultimate pit bull. Next to him, Garnett looks like a poodle. Did either man personally derail these lockout talks, which have seemed headed for disaster for months now? No. But if you were looking for an NBA villain, you got one on Thursday.
Posted on: October 6, 2011 10:15 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 10:22 pm
 

Blazers restart GM search; eye Bower, Stefanski?

Posted by Ben Golliverlarry-miller

Every month or so, it's a good idea to check in with the Portland Trail Blazers to get the latest update on their lack of progress towards hiring a general manager.

Thursday's news: The Oregonian reports that the GM search, which included interviews with more than four candidates, none of whom spoke directly with owner Paul Allen, will start over from scratch.
A league source said the Blazers have decided against hiring any of the candidates they have interviewed to date and that Blazers president Larry Miller spent Thursday calling them to relay the news they were no longer being considered for the job.

"I don't want to get into specific details, but what I will say is that we are expanding our search," Miller said. "We're going to expand our candidate pool."

Miller refused to divulge the people he has interviewed. He also would not detail any of the names on his new, expanded list. But The Oregonian has learned that former New Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower and Philadelphia 76ers GM Ed Stefanski will be among the targets.
Since firing former GM Rich Cho back in May, less than a year after the team's previous GM, Kevin Pritchard, was fired on the night of the 2010 NBA Draft, the Blazers have taken a number of unusual steps. They promoted their director of college Chad Buchanan to an "Acting GM" role, then later informed him he would not get to keep the position full-time. They interviewed a group of assistant GM candidates but apparently were unable to identify a favorite and decided to scrap that route.

Keep in mind: the Blazers currently have Cho's two assistant GMs under contract and two heads of scouting that date back to Pritchard's reign. All four men specialize in player evaluation and the team's front office lacks anyone with extensive experience negotiating contracts, an inside-out understanding of the collective bargaining agreement and experience planning and managing the team's salary cap. Those are huge holes. President Larry Miller has taken on some of those duties in the past, although he is supposed to be primarily responsible for overseeing the team's business operations.

After all this time, the Blazers are now turning their attention to former GMs, candidates that obviously boast a greater degree of executive experience than their previous candidates and would likely fit Portland's needs better than most first-time GM candidates. Why did it take Miller and his staff this long to hone in on experienced candidates? Who knows. He's failed to divulge his candidate targets from the beginning of the process, so it's difficult to say for certain. There is, of course, the obvious financial explanation: not hiring a GM saves the cost of at least one salary during the lockout, and multiple salaries if the GM is allowed to bring along one or two hand-picked subordinates.

Make no mistake: Bower and Stefanski are not A-list candidates. Bower most recently served as GM of the New Orleans Hornets but was pushed out in the summer of 2010, amidst rumors of star point guard Chris Paul's unhappiness. Stefanski has been the GM or president of the Philadelphia 76ers, who are recently under new ownership and reportedly considering a change of direction, since 2007. Prior to that, he was GM of the New Jersey Nets, where he had his most success.

Regardless of who gets the job and when, the new GM will be answering to both Miller and Allen, a demanding, eccentric and rash billionaire who is prone to impulsive decisions. Allen's expectation is a deep playoff run and it's unclear whether any candidate -- no matter how supremely talented -- can last more than a season without delivering at least one playoff series victory, something Portland hasn't managed since the 1999-2000 season, the longest such drought in the league.

Miller recently told CBSSports.com that he "hopes" to have a GM in place by the end of the lockout, but he stopped short of guaranteeing that, saying instead that the Blazers could make do with Buchanan heading up the rest of the staff as a stopgap measure.

For a team that annually has sky-high internal expectations, the Blazers sure seem to enjoy setting themselves up for failure recently.
Posted on: October 5, 2011 5:53 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 6:01 pm
 

Camby cleared of weed charges, cousin takes rap

Posted by Ben Gollivermarcus-camby

Marijuana charges against Portland Trail Blazers center Marcus Camby went up in a cloud of smoke on Tuesday after his cousin agreed to take the rap.

Camby and his cousin, Kendal Johnson, were arrested back in September after "marijuana cigarettes" were found inside Camby's Porsche during a traffic stop in a designated school zone in Pearland, TX. Initially, both Camby and Johnson denied the marijuana belonged to them.

The Oregonian reports that Johnson would up copping to possessing the dope, which reportedly weighed in near an ounce, allowing Camby to walk free of all charges.
The marijuana possession charges against Trail Blazers center Marcus Camby have been dropped by the Brazoria County (Texas) district attorney’s office and his criminal record has been cleared. 

“For the record, Marcus Camby did not get charged with a crime and Marcus Camby did not possess any marijuana,” Randall Novak, Camby’s Houston-based attorney, said.  

Johnson, 24, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a Class B Misdemeanor possession charge and paid a $1,500 fine. 
The maximum penalty facing the pair was said to be one year in jail or a $4,000 fine.

Camby, 37, is entering the final year of a two-year contract extension that will pay him $11.2 million in 2011-2012. He averaged 4.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 26.1 minutes per game last season.
Posted on: October 1, 2011 4:24 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 4:30 pm
 

Billionaire Blazers owner sued by own bodyguards

Posted by Ben Golliverpaul-allen

Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen has been on some kind of trip lately.

Over the last 18 months or so, Allen, who co-founded Microsoft, has: beaten cancer; written an autobiography that trashed Bill Gates so badly that Gates stopped speaking to him after decades of friendship; watched his helicopter crash near Antarctica; listed a private island for sale; and fired two general managers and a vice president of basketball operations for the Blazers. Now, Allen can add to that list: he has officially been sued by his own bodyguards, who allege that he engaged in "unethical and illegal" activities.

SeattlePI.com reports that four members of Allen's security team, including a former FBI agent and a Navy corpsman, are bringing suit against Allen and his company, Vulcan, Inc., in an employment dispute. 

The former security director for Vulcan Inc. and three security officers who resigned in recent weeks have sued the Seattle firm claiming they were pushed out after they saw unethical or illegal activities by company executives, including Paul Allen.

While the allegations of wrongdoing remain vague, documents filed in King County Superior Court contain claims of ethical problems and misconduct within the company. One former lead bodyguard said she was forced to resign after the “acts (she) witnessed and had to engage in perform (her) job” compromised her ethics.

Much to our collective chagrin, the illegal and unethical activities allegedly perpetuated by Allen and his sister, Jody, who is also a Vulcan executive, are not explained in any meaningful detail. 

That leads us to a fun, speculative exercise: brainstorm all the possible illegal activities that an antisocial, middle-aged, unmarried, rash computer dork with unlimited resources, multiple yachts, helicopters and mansions, who is known to fraternize with rock music stars and travels everywhere with a security staff packed with ex-military officers could get into. The list goes on forever. It might be easier to work backwards and just list the illegal activities that wouldn't appeal to him. Jaywalking. That's pretty much all I can come up with. 

Allen was recently ranked as the No. 23 richest person in the United States by Forbes.com. Dollars to doughnuts this lawsuit ends with an undisclosed financial settlement out of court. For the time being, Vulcan reportedly denies any wrongdoing and refuses to comment.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com