Tag:Ben Golliver
Posted on: February 17, 2012 5:49 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:57 pm
 

Billy Hunter: Jeremy Lin to get NBPA post?

Billy Hunter sounds ready to add Jeremy Lin to an NBPA position. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver   

Let's just cut to the chase and make him President of the United States.

New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, the Taiwanese-American global sensation, has attracted attention from all corners: endorsers, marketers, promoters, media members, you name it.

Add National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter to that mix.

Bloomberg.com reports that Hunter is planning to meet with Lin during the 2012 All-Star Weekend to discuss a potential role for Lin, who holds an economics degree from Harvard, with the NBPA.

“At the least he’d be the player representative for the Knicks,” Hunter said in a telephone interview. “If not something higher.”

“First of all, it’s not every day that you get a kid from Harvard,” Hunter said. “He’s very bright.”

The NBPA's current president, Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher, looks to be headed for retirement any year now, so a change at the very top will have to come sometime soon.

Fisher and Lin actually share a number of characteristics. Neither is a me-first guy, on or off the court. Both are effective, direct communicators who seem to favor consensus-building. Both are natural born leaders, comfortable with their teams under their control and confident with the game on the line. Both are polished, too.

The NBPA's executive board really is a thankless task that requires an inordinate amount of sacrifice. There's little glamour, but tons of responsibility. If things go well, there's no credit given because things were supposed to go well. If things go poorly, it's the board's fault. As we saw throughout 2011, coordinating a negotiating stance in this era of constant communication and social networks is a near impossible challenge. But we've learned over the last few weeks that Lin happens to excel at near impossible challenges.

A cynic might say that Hunter, who took months of flak for his handling of the last round of labor negotiations, is simply being opportunistic here and trying to get in on the Lin lovefest. That may be true. But a realist would counter that Hunter would be a fool not to reach out to Lin -- given his educational pedigree, leadership skills and personality -- immediately. It makes too much sense.
Posted on: February 17, 2012 5:28 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:59 pm
 

Report: Jeremy Lin helps Knicks reach TV deal

Knicks fans with Time Warner Cable can now watch Jeremy Lin. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver  

Game-winning shots? He's on it. Turning around a franchise? All in a day's work. Bringing an end to a stalled television rights negotiation impasse? Yeah, New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin probably just did that too.

Nobody really cares about television politics, but this was the situation facing Knicks fans living in New York: MSG Network broadcasts Knicks games and Time Warner Cable, a major provider in the Big Apple, stopped carrying Knicks games on Jan. 1 because of a disagreement over price. That amounted to a blackout for a whole lot of Knicks fans. Not cool ever, but definitely unacceptable during the Jeremy Line Era.

The New York Times reports on Friday that a deal has finally been struck.
The 48-day standoff between the MSG Network and Time Warner Cable ended Friday, according to two people aware of the resolution who were not authorized to speak publicly.

The blackout deprived many Knicks fans around the state of seeing much of the rapid rise to stardom of point guard Jeremy Lin — as well as the continued success of the New York Rangers. Friday night’s Knicks game will be available to all Time Warner customers.
It doesn't take a Harvard graduate or a rocket scientist to realize that Lin's incredible popularity was a factor in the resolution.

The Associated Press reports that Knicks television ratings have been skyrocketing.
A wave of "Linsanity" surrounding the undrafted point guard from Harvard has helped lift the stock of The Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the Knicks and the MSG network that carries their games. On Friday, shares were up 98 cents, or 3.1 percent, at $32.85. 

MSG network, the television home of the Knicks in New York, has seen ratings more than triple since his breakout Feb. 4 game, according to Nielsen, even though the dispute with Time Warner Cable blacked out the games to about a fifth of its more than 10 million subscribers.
With unprecedented surges in television viewership and internet activity around Lin, getting left in the dark when it came to broadcasting his play was going to be incredibly detrimental to business. You can only hear the, "They can watch Lin's game in 234,235,832 countries around the world but I can't watch them 10 miles from the Garden?" refrain so many times before holding a hard line becomes untenable.

Welcome to "Linsanity," Time Warner Cable. Better late than never.
Posted on: February 17, 2012 3:48 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 4:22 pm
 

Blazers G Felton: McMillan doesn't believe in me

Raymon Felton said he isn't feeling his coach's trust. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver 

An ugly performance in an ugly game got even uglier when it came time for the post-game explanation.

The Portland Trail Blazers lost to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, 74-71, in the definition of a "lockout game," and Blazers guard Raymond Felton was the worst of the worst. He shot 0-for-7 and committed five turnovers, playing just 24 minutes as coach Nate McMillan opted to sit him during the final stretches of the game.

It was arguably the low point of what has been a putrid first season in Portland for Felton, and his growing dissatisfaction came to the surface after the loss, according to CSNNW.com.
“I know I'm struggling, but it's hard to perform the way you know how when you know they don't have confidence in you,” Felton told CSNNW.com. “Never in my days playing basketball, have I felt like a coach wasn't confident in my abilities. It's hard to play knowing that. Coming in and out of games is throwing my rhythm off, but it's something that I'll get through."

“Tonight was one of those nights where it was hard to get into the game knowing every mistake I made would be magnified,” Felton said. “It's to the point where the only person I could turn to was my mom."
These aren't the first words reflecting a developing rift between point guard and coach. In statements made to the Portland Tribune earlier this week, Felton compared McMillan to New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, pointing out that players seem to perform better in D'Antoni's system. Felton, of course, played some of his best basketball in New York prior to the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster trade last season that landed him in Denver, who eventually traded him on to the Blazers on the night of the 2011 NBA Draft. The underlying implication from those comments, it seemed, was that McMillan's system was not as suited to producing success for Felton.

The real cause for Felton's frustration and isolation isn't complicated: by virtually every important measure he's having a terrible season. He's averaging a career-low 9.9 points per game, he's shooting a career-low 36.0 percent from the field, he's shooting a career-low 20.6 percent from beyond the arc, he's averaging 6.3 assists (the fewest since his rookie season). According to HoopData.com, his turnover rate is a career-worst 19.46 and, according to Basketball-Reference, he's attempted the most shots from 26 feet and out without making a single one (17) in the NBA this season.

Put it all together and you have one of the league's least effective players who actually gets big minutes. Felton has started every game so far for the Blazers this season, averaging 32.8 minutes per game. Felton's PER is 10.06, which places him as the No. 52 overall point guard in the league. Los Angeles Lakers point guard Derek Fisher is the only starting point guard with a lower PER than Felton, and he plays seven fewer minutes per game.

Taking this a step further, there isn't a single other NBA player averaging more than 30 minutes per game with a PER lower than Felton's. Indeed, he's one of just three players -- along with New York Knicks rookie guard Iman Shumpert and Detroit Pistons rookie guard Brandon Knight -- to average at least 30 minutes per game while producing a PER of less than 11.

If math isn't you're thing, the takeaway point here is this: through Portland's first 31 games, nearly half the season, Felton is playing at the absolute bottom of the barrel. And, the related point: he's had plenty of opportunities. Citing a coach's lack of confidence after that stretch of play -- and that much playing time -- is just about the most obvious buck-passing imaginable.

The Blazers must now decide whether to turn over the starting point guard duties to reserve guard Jamal Crawford, a score-first two guard by nature, or simply continue to limit Felton's minutes even further. With the All-Star break less than a week away and the trade deadline not far beyond that, there's no question they have to be fully exploring other options, even if that means over-paying for a stopgap solution. Playing in the NBA's toughest division, the Northwest, the Blazers are going to battle night in and night out with the Division's ninth best point guard as their starter. That's not a formula for a fringe playoff team that considered itself a contender earlier this season and wants badly to make a push.

The worst part of this situation is that there is no full-time GM to step in and smooth this one out. The Blazers continue to operate with a front office that includes president Larry Miller and Acting GM Chad Buchanan, after owner Paul Allen abruptly fired former GM Rich Cho last May. There's no full-time GM to back Felton in public. There's no full-time GM to act as intermediary between Felton and McMillan. There's no full-time GM to make the big-picture decision of how and when it's the right time to move on. There's not even a full-time GM to credibly explain the team's stance on McMillan, who is hearing some hot seat talk percolating with his team going 2-5 over their last seven games.

For everyone involved, the All-Star break can't come soon enough.
Posted on: February 17, 2012 2:57 am
Edited on: February 17, 2012 4:07 am
 

Paul's pretty 4th quarter saves ugly night

Posted by Ben Golliver

Chris Paul shot the Clippers past the Blazers in a strong fourth quarter performance. (Getty Images)

PORTLAND, Ore. -- An anticipated four quarter battle for power forward supremacy was replaced by one quarter of point guard brilliance.  

The Los Angeles Clippers faced the Portland Trail Blazers for the third time this season, the teams having split the first two match-ups. Instead of the latest installment of LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Blake Griffin -- All-Star vs. All-Star -- the Rose Garden crowd was treated one of the ugliest "lockout" games of the season, as Aldridge was forced to sit for the second straight game with a sprained left ankle he suffered on Tuesday night.

The Clippers pulled it out, 74-71, with the flat, ugly game being broken open in the fourth by Chris Paul, who managed to find a way to turn a manure night into gold down the stretch. 

Through three quarters, Paul was 0-for-7 with three turnovers. An 85 percent career free throw shooter, he even missed a technical foul during the first minute of the second half. In the final quarter, though, Paul shot 5-for-8 to finish with 13 points. He had two of his four steals in the fourth, nailed a three-pointer with roughly three minutes remaning and then sank a jumper with just over a minute left to send large swaths of the crowd th the exits early.

"It's just a matter of time before Chris starts taking over the game," said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. "When it gets close he wants the ball in his hands, not only to score but to make the easy plays… Having Chris out there to control things is a great weapon."

"All the shots I missed are shots I can make with my eyes closed," Paul said. "I pride myself on the last two or three minutes of the game. If we're up two, or down one, I pride myself on managing situations, [forcing] turnovers, getting good shots. I'm used to it."

Turnovers were in abundance and good shots were not fort both sides. The Blazers scored more than 17 points in just one of the four quarters: 27 in the first. The Clippers never broke 22 in a quarter. The teams combined for 34 turnovers, the Clippers shot 2-for-17 from deep and the Blazers, not including Nicolas Batum, combined to shoot 19-for-55 (34.5 percent). Griffin worked hard for 21 points and 14 rebounds, dealing with all sorts of defensive looks along the way, but no one else, not even Paul, left this game with a complete night.

Blazers guard Raymond Felton probably captured the flavor of the evening better than anyone, failing to make a basket in seven attempts while throwing a ball into the stands, stepping on the sideline, and chucking a pass off of Kurt Thomas's ankles while he was standing 25 feet from the basket. He wound up sitting during crunch time, as fellow guard Jamal Crawford was only able to do slightly better.

"We didn't execute, of course, down the stretch," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "We basically got stagnant and it became a one on one basketball game."

The extenuating circumstances that led to that type of game were clear. Portland was on the third night of a back-to-back-to-back, made worse by the middle game being at Golden State. The Clippers were on the second night of a back-to-back themselves. L.A. managed to have the legs when it mattered, taking the final quarter, 22-11, to win their first game in Portland since Dec. 11, 2008.

"I've been in this situation time and time again," Paul said, amid shrieks of laughter from his teammates in the showers. "When you're in games like this it comes down to certain plays, teams tighten up. It all comes down to who makes the big plays."

The Blazers certainly tightened up, giving away an 18-point third quarter lead and dropped to 2-10 in games decided by five points or less. Portland has handled late-game situations uneasily even with Aldridge, their No. 1 scorer. Without him their possessions often amounted to hopeless prayers. 

"I'll call it a self-destruction," McMillan said. 

That self-destruction included Felton's follies and an inability to engage Batum, who scored 15 first quarter points but finished with 19, missing his only fourth quarter attempt. With Portland coming up empty play after play, the door opened wide for Paul.

"I don't now if he was playing possum or if he found the energy in the fourth quarter to keep going, but he definitely took over the game," Crawford said.

"It's the fourth quarter, it's one of those things where nothing else really matters," Paul explained. "When you're a team trying to build something like us, you've got to win ugly games like this sometimes."

Posted on: February 16, 2012 4:42 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 4:52 pm
 

Report: Jeremy Lin jersey sold on eBay for $40K

Posted by Ben Golliver  

A Jeremy Lin Knicks jersey has reportedly sold on eBay for $40,000. (Getty Images)

What Jeremy Lin is doing for the New York Knicks is indescribable. But you can put a price on it.

CNBC.com reports that the jersey, shorts and warm-ups worn by Lin during his debut for the Knicks in December have been sold on the online auction site eBay.com for $40,000.

Here's the description of the package from the eBay seller, card77collector.
This game worn uniform is authenticated by Steiner Sports who sells the Knicks game used uniforms. All items have hand written authentication letters and corresponding authentication labels. This uniform was worn on December 28th, 2011 against the Golden State Warriors in Jeremy Lin's first ever game with the New York Knicks. He did play in this game.

Included: Jersey (XL2), Shorts (XL +2), Warm Up Pants, Warm Up Shirt

The tags are hand written and labeled as issued by the New York Knicks to Lin. All items are in the same exact condition as they were from Lin. This picture is featured by many media outlets. This is the single most unique piece of Jeremy Lin memorabilia in the world.
The 23-year-old Taiwanese-American guard, who went undrafted out of Harvard, has become a global sensation after moving into New York's starting lineup. The Knicks have won seven straight games and Lin's scoring production in his first five starts was the highest of any NBA player since the NBA/ABA merger.

The uniform's price tag is, obviously, extraordinary for someone who was a virtual unknown as recently as two weeks ago. Consider that Lin has recently spent time in the National Basketball Development League, where players often reportedly earn less than $40,000 in annual salary.

The jersey Lin worn while scoring a career-high 38 points against the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden last week is also being auctioned for charity.

Lin is averaging 12.7 points, 5.1 assists, 2.4 rebounds and shooting 49.7 percent for the Knicks this season.
Posted on: February 16, 2012 2:34 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 11:11 pm
 

LeBron James: Return to Cleveland is possible

Posted by Ben Golliver 

LeBron James says a return to the Cleveland Cavaliers is a possibility. (ESPN)

LeBron James set aflutter the hearts of basketball fans in his former NBA home on Thursday, telling reporters in Cleveland that he would consider a return to the Cavaliers later in his career. James' Miami Heat are in Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Friday night. 

The Associated Press reports that James, an Akron, Ohio, native, said that a return to Cleveland was a possibility, although he is happy with how things have turned out in Miami. Of course, he made international headlines by bolting the Cavaliers during the summer of 2010 to form the Miami Heat's Big 3 with All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
 Asked if he could play for the Cavs again, James initially paused before giving his answer.

 "I don't know. I think it would be great," he said. "It would be fun to play in front of these fans again. I had a lot fun times in my seven years here. You can't predict the future and hopefully I continue to stay healthy. I'm here as a Miami Heat player, and I'm happy where I am now, but I don't rule that out in no sense.

"And if I decide to come back, hopefully the fans will accept me."
"Anything is possible," Wade told the AP regarding a possible James return to Cleveland. "Hopefully, I'm retired."

When James announced he was headed to Miami during a nationally-televised special called "The Decision," fans in Ohio burned his jerseys and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert publicly accused James of disloyalty and betrayal, guaranteeing that the Cavaliers would win an NBA title before the Heat.

On Thursday, James said that was all water under the bridge, according to ESPN.com, and admitted that he didn't handle his departure in the proper manner.

"I don't hold grudges, I hold them a little bit but I don't hold them that long," James said. "He said what he said out of anger. He probably would want to take that back, but I made a mistake, too. There's some things I'd want to take back as well. You learn from your mistakes and move on."

The Plain-Dealer reports that Gilbert will not respond to James' comment for fear of receiving a fine from the NBA league office.

When James returned to Quicken Loans Arena for the first time during the 2010-2011 season, he was met with heavy booing and dozens of signs and shirts mocking him.

"It doesn't sting anymore," James said, according to the AP. "The booing isn't as bad as it was last year so it's not even a big deal."

In case you were wondering, James' current contract runs through the 2015-2016 season. He has an early termination option for 2014-2015 and a player option for the final year of the deal, according to StoryTellersContracts.com. He will be 31 years old when the entirety of the deal is completed.

James, 27, spent his first seven NBA season with the Cavaliers. He is averaging 28.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.7 steals in 36.9 minutes per game this season, and he's a leading NBA MVP candidate.

Posted on: February 16, 2012 1:59 am
Edited on: February 16, 2012 1:41 pm
 

Report: J.R. Smith to pick Knicks over Clippers?

Is it down to the Knicks or Clippers for J.R. Smith? (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver  

There appeared to be two finalists in the recruitment of unrestricted free agent guard J.R. Smith, and one seems to have emerged..

Smith, recently returned from China where he signed to play during the lockout without an NBA opt-out clause, had reportedly narrowed his final two choices to the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Clippers, according to ESPNLA.com.

The New York Daily News reported that the Knicks have emerged as the leaders.
The Knicks are closing in on a deal to sign free agent shooting guard J.R. Smith, the Daily News has learned. Smith began the season in China, but has been eyeing a return to the NBA once the lockout ended.

Smith's agent, Leon Rose, met with Garden Chairman James Dolan following Wednesday's Knicks' win over Sacramento to finalize a contract.
Other teams linked to Smith over the last few weeks have included the Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers, among others. 

Smith has connections with both the Knicks and the Clippers, and both have expressed serious interest in his services. New York has Smith's former teammate with the Denver Nuggets, All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, as well as his former Nuggets boss, Mark Warkentien, a noted advocate of Smith's game. Los Angeles has Smith's former New Orleans Hornets teammate Chris Paul as well as his former Nuggets teammate Kenyon Martin, himself recently returned from China.

Given the unusual timing of his clearance from China, Smith's financial options are limited. New York is able to offer him a $2.5 million room exception; the Clippers are limited to the veteran's minimum. More important than the dollar figure for the remainder of the 2011-2012 season is his ability to play on a large stage. Playing big minutes and getting plenty of shots for a playoff team will help maximize his value for a big free agency pay day this summer. 

Smith averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 24.9 minutes per game off of Denver's bench during the 2010-2011 season. At 26, he is entering his prime earning years as a player. Even though his 2011-2012 season will only be a few months long, it will be an important stretch for him to re-introduce himself to the NBA's chief decision-makers to ensure he receives the pay day he is eventually expecting.

In New York, he would fill out a backcourt rotation that includes global sensation Jeremy Lin, global non-sensation Baron Davis, rookie Iman Shumpert and Toney Douglas. There should be plenty of minutes available there, and Lin's orchestration of New York's offense recently offers some promise that Smith can find his touches too. That group, coupled with All-Stars in Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, plus Tyson Chandler in the middle, could potentially win a playoff series.

In Los Angeles, the presence of Paul guarantees he will get touches, and a season-ending injury to Chauncey Billups opens up all the minutes he can handle. He would join Paul, Mo Williams and Randy Foye in what would be a very solid rotation. Whether or not the Clippers add Smith, they expect to make a deep playoff run this year. 

Either way, Smith really can't lose.
Posted on: February 16, 2012 1:46 am
Edited on: February 16, 2012 2:41 am
 

Report Card: 'Linsanity' pulls Knicks to .500

Posted by Ben Golliver 

Everything came easy against the Sacramento Kings for Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks . (Getty Images)

Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.

Jeremy Lin No late-game heroics from the Knicks guard this time around, but he did dish out a career-high 13 assists, getting into the lane at will against Sacramento's perimeter defense. New York cruised to a 100-85 victory in front of the home crowd, and Lin's ball distribution helped New York land seven players in double figures. All five Knicks starters finished +18 or better. Dominant. Seven straight wins for the Knicks, who pulled back to .500 for the first time in a month.
Kevin Love The Timberwolves are flirting with .500, so they should handle a team as bad as the Bobcats at home with ease. But this is still the first season on the upswing for Minnesota and a good solid thumping can't always be assumed. Kevin Love put up an absurd 30 points, 18 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal night on 11-21 shooting. That's how you pound a poor team into submission. Don't look now, but Charlotte has now lost 16 straight; the next longest streak in the league is 7.
Portland Trail Blazers Portland might have needed a win as badly as any team in the league, given its recent poor play and the loss of forward LaMarcus Aldridge to injury. Winning in the Bay Area and winning close games have both been bugaboos for the Blazers, but they pulled out a late win over the Warriors thanks to solid team rebounding and a late 3-pointer by Jamal Crawford. Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby were key energy providers and the Crawford three helped make up for Portland's top-3 guards combining to shoot 13-for-40 on the night.
Nate Robinson Nate Robinson gives and Nate Robinson taketh away. With star guard Monta Ellis pinned to the bench late in the game, apparently due to illness, Warriors coach Mark Jackson effectively turned the game over to Robinson, who finished with 21 points in 21 minutes. Unfortunately, 4 turnovers and some poor shot selection on key possessions down the stretch contributed to the Warriors scoring just 37 second-half points, and Robinson bumbled the ball on the game's final possession. Endless excitement but ultimately unfulfilling. Story of his NBA career.
Washington Wizards One night after torching Portland from absolutely everywhere, shooting an unconscious 60 percent for the game as a team, the Wizards fell back to Earth against the Clippers, shooting just 5-for-22 from deep while getting killed on the glass. All five L.A. starters hit double figures, as did Mo Williams, and this one ended in an 18-point rout.
Oklahoma City Thunder The West's top team can't be happy with the slowest of slow starts, as they scored just 13 points in the first quarter at Houston, digging themselves a 16-point hole in the first frame. The Thunder charged back hard and probably should have won this one, but neither Kevin Durant (33 points) or Russell Westbrook (26 points) really found their strokes from deep. Unusual late-game shortcomings from both All-Stars added salt to the wound.



E FOR EFFORT
Tony Parker (34 points, 14 assists, 11-for-23 shooting, 12-for-12 free throws, 1 steal in a road win over the Toronto Raptors)
Gerald Wallace (24 points, 6-for-13 shooting, 4-4 from 3s, 8-8 free throws, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block in a road win over the Golden State Warriors)
Greg Monroe (22 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block in a road win over the Boston Celtics)
Ryan Anderson (27 points, 2 rebounds, 9-for-12 shooting, 7-for-10 from deep in a home win over the Philadelphia 76ers, plus a selection for the 3-point shooting contest)
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com