Tag:Portland Trail Blazers
Posted on: September 30, 2011 1:47 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 1:52 pm
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Darius Miles gets felony charge for airport gun

Posted by Ben Golliverdarius-miles-small

The prosecution thought things through and apparently concluded that bringing a loaded firearm to an airport is, in fact, against the law.

KMOX.com reports that former NBA player Darius Miles will face a felony charge for allegedly bringing a loaded firearm to a St. Louis airport back in August.

Former  NBA player and East St. Louis High School product Darius Miles is facing a weapons charge stemming from a recent incident at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

The St. Louis County Prosecutor has charged Miles with one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon. Miles was arrested at Lambert in early August after a Transportation Security Administration screener allegedly found a loaded handgun in his carry-on bag.

According to reports, Miles, 29, was taken into custody following the X-ray screening process revealed the weapon. Handguns may only be transported in checked baggage.

Miles, a lottery pick in the 2000 NBA Draft, played seven seasons in the NBA for the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies. Once a high-fllying athlete at forward, chronic knee problems prematurely ended his career.

For the incident, Miles ranked No. 4 on this summer's NBA Lockout Indiscretion Power Rankings.
Posted on: September 30, 2011 1:53 am
 

Michael Jordan, rapper Drake star in NBA 2K12 ad

Posted by Ben Golliver

The following commercial for the video game NBA 2K12 isn't exactly basketball discourse at its finest, but it's guaranteed to get people talking. The premise: Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, the rapper Drake, and fans of the Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks debate which NBA team was the greatest of all time.  

"Today's Miami Heat plays above the rim," Drake argues. "Larry Bird couldn't even reach the rim."

Later, he elaborates: "South Beach is king."

Cut to a shot of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban clutching his Larry O'Brien trophy and the pay off line, delivered by Jordan: "I let my ring do my talking."

In case you were wondering, Jordan names the 1996 Bulls as the greatest team ever. That year, the Bulls went 72-10 in the regular season, setting an NBA record for wins, and 15-3 in the postseason, defeating the Seattle SuperSonics in six games to win the title. Jordan averaged 30.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.2 steals and shot 49.5% from the field on his way to his fourth ring.

Here's the video courtesy of YouTube user FreshpointsTV.



Hat tip: IAmAGM.com.
Posted on: September 27, 2011 4:10 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 7:17 pm
 

Arvydas Sabonis stable following heart attack

Posted by Ben Golliverarvydas-sabonis

Lithuanian news site Delfi.lt reported on Tuesday that Hall of Fame center Arvydas Sabonis, who played in the NBA for the Portland Trail Blazers after dominating European professional basketball for years, has suffered a heart attack.

The site reports that Sabonis, 46, suffered the heart attack while playing basketball and was immediately taken to a hospital in Kaunas.

LTBasket.com also reported the news on Tuesday.

Spanish website CadaneSer.com also reported that Sabonis had a heart attack and quoted Arturo Ortega, a representative for Sabonis, who said that Sabonis was "out of danger." Later Tuesday, Lithuanian news outlet Lrytas.lt reported that Sabonis had "stabilized." 

Multiple reports indicate he will remain hospitalized for the time being.

Tuesday evening, the Blazers issued a press release confirming the news.

"The Portland Trail Blazers have confirmed that Arvydas Sabonis has been hospitalized after suffering a heart attack in his native Lithuania," the statement read. "His condition is believed to be non-life threatening. Our thoughts are with Arvydas and his family at this time. We wish him well in a speedy recovery."

Sabonis was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in August. He played seven seasons with the Blazers and posted career NBA averages of 12.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. In Europe, he was named player of the year eight times and won a gold medal while representing the Soviet Union at the 1988 Olympics.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 2:36 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 2:36 pm
 

First up for each team in a post-lockout world

Posted by Royce Young



So the lockout could be ending soon, depending on who you're listening to. Maybe it extends into the season, but if it doesn't and a deal gets settled in the next few weeks, we're going to have one heck of a free agency period. Really, no matter when it's settled, we're going to have one wild free agency period.

(Unless we were to miss all of 2011-12 and you combined this class with next year's group. Now that would be something.)

If you thought the summer of 2010 was a frenzy, try cramming it all into a two-week period. Maybe I'm just thinking of how horrible it'll be for me. Regardless, you can be sure that all 30 teams have a pre-written itinerary on what they want to accomplish once the lockout is lifted. They have been planning, plotting and preparing to target the players they want or finish up a few final transactions on the roster.

But what's the first order of business for everybody? What's the priority, the thing that each team wants to get done right away? Here's a stab at each team's top job.

Atlanta Hawks: It really appears that the Hawks are ready and willing to let Jamal Crawford walk, but there's still a decision to made whether or not they want to compete for him in the free agent market. He was a key part of the team that made a somewhat surprising run to the Eastern Semifinals and re-signing him could be a priority. Problem is, they don't really have the funds for it.

Boston Celtics: What happens with Jeff Green? The Celtics have already tendered him a qualifying offer, but someone surely will extend him an offer sheet. The Celtics have issues at center still and Glen Davis is unrestricted, but figuring out Jeff Green's situation is probably weighing heaviest on Danny Ainge's mind.

Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats made a big splash in the draft, but if that's going to matter, they've got to get Bismack Biyombo on the team. His buyout could still be a major issue and though he says he'll be on the team when training camp starts, that's definitely up in the air.

Chicago Bulls: Wing scorer. Say it with me, wing scorer. Derrick Rose needs help (and an extension) in a big time way and it's up to Gar Foreman and company to find that help. Jamal Crawford maybe? Caron Butler? J.R. Smith if he wasn't in China? Someone has to give Rose a little offensive help and that's the top priority for the Bulls.

Cleveland Cavaliers: First thing? Putting Baron Davis on the scales to make sure he doesn't weigh 300 pounds. After that, there isn't a whole lot to be done in Cleveland. The club's rebuilding around their two lottery picks and you don't want to crowd the roster in a way that stunts their development.

Dallas Mavericks: The defending champs have a whole lot on their plate once the lockout ends. Caron Butler's contract is up. So is J.J. Barea's. So is DeShawn Stevenson's. So is Brian Cardinal's (just kidding -- well it is up, but you know what I mean). But the first order of business for Mark Cuban is to get Tyson Chandler re-signed. Not just that though, but to get him re-signed to a number that makes sense for the make-up of the roster.

Denver Nuggets: Despite the lockout, the Nuggets have kind of been gutted. J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Wilson Chandler are in China until at least March. Danilo Gallinari signed in Italy but has an NBA out. But all of that doesn't matter near as much as getting Nene re-signed. Without Nene, it doesn't matter. With Nene, there's still something worth building around.

Detroit Pistons: The Pistons are kind of trying to quietly usher out the old and bring in some new. Tayshaun Prince is a free agent, but I don't think they care. What'll be most interesting is how they handle Rodney Stuckey. The Pistons drafted Brandon Knight in June with Stuckey already their point guard. Do they want Knight to take over? Do they want to play them together? Share the role? Sorting out Stuckey's future is definitely what Joe Dumars has to do first.

Golden State Warriors: The Warriors could be players in free agency, but really, it's about deciding once and for all if Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry really are the backcourt tandem of the future for the team. If there's a time to move on, it's now when both of their values are still high. The Warriors flirted with dealing Ellis last season but it didn't happen. They're probably planning on revisiting that.

Houston Rockets: First order of business: Properly sending off Yao with a jersey retirement ceremony. After that, the Rockets are fairly settled, though you know Daryl Morey is just itching to pick up a phone and start transacting once the lockout's over.

Indiana Pacers: The Pacers have a number of expiring deals and aren't likely looking to re-sign them (maybe Josh McRoberts, maybe Jeff Foster). Larry Bird has been hunting more pieces to add to his mediocre roster for a while and you can be sure the Pacers are going to target some of the bigger free agent names in this class.

Los Angeles Clippers: Eric Gordon is ready for an extension, but the Clippers better be ready to match any offer DeAndre Jordan gets. You might not think that's a big deal, but forget Chris Kaman. The future of the Clips frontcourt is Blake Griffin and Jordan. You seven-footer from Texas A&M finally started figuring himself out a little last season and he's not far off from becoming a major defensive impact player.

Los Angeles Lakers: Shannon Brown's unrestricted, but he's really not that much of an impact player to be that concerned with. The Lakers might have to focus on how to re-structure the roster to suit a new CBA that could greatly cut into their total salary. Will they have to move Lamar Odom? Metta World Peace? But first things first: Giving Kobe and Mike Brown a proper introduction and letting them figure out the direction of the offense.

Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol. That's it for Memphis. It'd be nice to get Shane Battier back, but it's all about Gasol.

Miami Heat: It's kind of been overlooked, but Pat Riley and the Heat have a busy couple weeks waiting on them. Mike Bibby, Jamaal Magloire, Juwan Howard, Erick Dampier and James Jones are all unrestricted and Mario Chalmers is restricted. It's decision time for the Heat. Do they start restocking with veteran talent or look to get younger and develop?

Milwaukee Bucks: That first practice in Milwaukee is something Scott Skiles has probably been thinking about for a while. "Brandon, this is Stephen. Stephen, this is Brandon." The Bucks have some new talent as Stephen Jackson joins Brandon Jennings, but how will they get along?

Minnesota Timberwolves: Here's what David Kahn's to-do list looks like: 1) Hug Ricky. 2) Hug Darko. 3) Overpay a questionable free agent at a position you already have three guys. What it should look like: 1) Convince Kevin Love somehow to sign an extension. 2) Get rid of Michael Beasley and let Derrick Williams have the starting small forward spot all to himself. 3) Tell Rick Adelman to do his thing.

New Jersey Nets: Kris Humphies is an important piece of business but his re-signing goes hand in hand with the larger thing: Proving to Deron Williams that this is a place he wants to re-sign. The Nets have to take advantage right away of showing Williams they're serious about winning. And you do that by getting him some immediate help.

New Orleans Hornets: It's all about David West for the Hornets. Yes, he suffered a major knee injury last season. But he chose to become an unrestricted free agent and a team like the Nets is likely to come calling quickly. Can the Hornets hang on to Chris Paul's buddy?

New York Knicks: The Knicks have a little bit coming off the books but really they need to try and resist the urge to do something drastic in this free agency period. Which they will because of the big names coming up in 2012. Still, they want to field a solid team for this season -- and Mike D'Antoni needs them too -- so adding a quality veteran to help on the inside would be good.

Oklahoma City Thunder: The young Thunder roster is pretty much entirely set up. But Sam Presti has something to do right away once the lockout ends -- get Russell Westbrook his extension. Presti brought Kevin Durant his at midnight last July to make sure there was no doubt about locking up his superstar. Presti better be stalking Westbrook's house on the whim he lockout ends so he can extend the same treatment to his other star.

Orlando Magic: First order of business for Otis Smith and the Magic? Resume begging Dwight Howard to stay. One way to show it would be to get him some help, but Smith sort of laid those cards on the table last year in the Gilbert Arenas/Hedo Turkoglu trade. So it's back to convincing Howard there's a plan for the future and that it'll get better.

Philadelphia 76ers: Someone is ready and willing to give Thaddeus Young a serious offer, so the Sixers better be ready to match anything and everything.

Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash's trade value will be highest at the beginning of the season, so it's up to Lance Blanks and Robert Sarver to figure out if they're ready to move on. Aaron Brooks is a restricted free agent so if the Suns lock him up by matching an offer sheet, that'll be an indication that the Suns are preparing for life without Nash.

Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers are in love with Nicolas Batum, so extending him could be the first order of business, but really, the Blazers need to find a new general manager first. And whoever that guy is needs to decide that if for the off chance someone gives Greg Oden an offer, if he's willing to match. Oden already has an $8.8 qualifying offer, which is huge, so once Oden signs that, he'll likely be signing with the Blazers for another year.

Sacramento Kings: The Jimmer-Tyreke backcourt is going to be an interesting experiment, but Marcus Thornton is quietly one of the more intriguing free agents out there. The Bulls are likely looking at him long and hard right now. He's restricted, so the Kings could keep him, but the question is, with Tyreke moving off the ball for good and Jimmer handling the point, is it worth paying Thornton to just have him come off the bench?

San Antonio Spurs: Um, I guess just resume the typical day-to-day of the Spurs. Gregg Popovich is the longest tenured coach with a team and R.C. Buford probably isn't looking to go do anything drastic in this market. The Spurs are definitely aging, but there's not a lot to be done about that right now.

Toronto Raptors: Assuming the Raptors actually have Jonas Valanciunas for next season, Dwane Casey and company have to figure out if he's ready to cover for Andrea Bargnani on the inside. Can those two really play together and handle enough rebounding and defensive duties? The Raptors are in a place where they have to wait and see with some young players and aren't likely targeting any big names in the open market.

Utah Jazz: Most likely, Andrei Kirilenko won't be re-signing with the Jazz. So Kevin O'Connor will have to make a choice when the lockout's over: Does he try and restock a roster that can maybe squeak out the eight-seed, or does he commit to rebuilding around Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and others and just let them play it out? The Jazz would love to get some wing scoring help, so O'Connor will probably at least look that direction, but we'll have to see how serious he is.

Washington Wizards: It's not an earth-shattering decision, but Nick Young is a restricted free agent. And with his scoring ability, someone is ready to pay him. Do the Wizards want to keep him? Do they want to look elsewhere and maybe target say, Marcus Thornton? Or do they just let Young walk and see what Jordan Crawford's got?
Posted on: September 23, 2011 1:29 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 3:11 pm
 

7 lost stories from canceled NBA preseason

Posted by Ben Golliver

silver-stern-2

On Friday, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reported the dreadful news that we've all been fearing: the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have failed to reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in time, meaning training camp and portions of the preseason schedule have been indefinitely postponed and/or canceled.

Preseason is always a fun time of the NBA calendar, guaranteed to be chockfull of "Player X added 15 pounds of muscle" and "Lottery team Y finally seems poised for a playoff push" stories. Of course, no preseason means no preseason stories. No hype, no hope. More Adam Silver, more David Stern. What a bummer. 

So here's a rundown of seven stories you would have been reading had the NBA and the NBPA gotten their collective act together in time to save the schedule. These stories are lost everywhere, except for here.

1. Security Detains Eddy Curry Outside AmericanAirlines Arena

MIAMI -- It appears that Eddy Curry will not be joining the Miami Heat after all.

Following nearly a year of reports indicating that Curry had lost an NBA-record 468 pounds since he was released by the Minnesota Timberwolves at least year's trade deadline, the free agent center was forcibly removed from AmericanAirlines Arena property by a cadre of four security guards on Tuesday. The use of force was deemed necessary after direct requests to leave from Heat president Pat Riley and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra were not heeded. 

"We didn't want to do it but we really had no choice," said Joseph Watkins, the guard assigned to carry Curry's left leg. "I was just following orders."

"What can I say? I got my hopes up," Curry explained. "I kept reading over and over that Miami was interested in me and I thought I could help LeBron [James] win a ring finally. I thought they would change their mind if I showed I was determined. I guess they wanted to go a different direction."

After the trimmed-down center had been dragged to an auxiliary parking lot, Riley briefly asked a reporter who Curry was before returning to the Heat's training session, which was closed to the media. When practice broke, Spoelstra indicated that the defending Eastern Conference champions were comfortable with their center rotation of Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Dexter Pittman, Juwan Howard, Chris Webber, and Bill Wennington, and are not in the market for another big man.

"We like our guys," Spoelstra said.

Curry told the Associated Press that he isn't sure when or where his next basketball opportunity will come but did indicate that he would like to have the plastic handcuffs removed from his wrists, or at least loosened, as soon as possible.

2. Bloody Prank Signals Rift Between Thunder Stars?

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- A severed head was discovered inside a backpack belonging to Kevin Durant on Friday.

The Thunder's All-Star forward pulled the ghoulish, plastic mask -- which bore an uncanny resemblance to coach Scottie Brooks and had been doused in ketchup to simulate the appearance of blood -- out of his signature carry-all following an evening workout. With a look of bewilderment, Durant tossed the mask into a nearby trash can before returning to the team's practice court to work on his free throw shooting.

"I'm just out here trying to get better," Durant said, shrugging off his unsettling discovery.

It's not yet known who placed the mask in Durant's backpack, although suspicion was immediately cast upon Russell Westbrook. The mercurial guard led the NBA in postseason technical fouls in 201, rarely passes the ball because he's so self-involved and sometimes has a "funny look" -- according to multiple teammates -- in his eyes. Center Kendrick Perkins apparently implicated Westbrook in the incident when he stormed out of the practice facility, repeatedly yelling the words, "I told y'all! I told y'all!" 

The incident raises anew the question of whether Oklahoma City's two All-Stars will be capable of coexisting as their careers and games develop.

"Halloween is Monday," Westbrook said, cryptically, before rushing a free-throw extended jump shot and completely hurdling teammate Eric Maynor to claim the offensive rebound.

Thunder president Sam Presti did not offer an alibi for himself, but what else is new?

3. Rivers: More Needed From Rondo For Green To Succeed

BOSTON -- Nine months after the most controversial trade in recent Boston Celtics history, coach Doc Rivers continued to defend forward Jeff Green from media criticism.

A lightly sprained ankle for starting center Jermaine O'Neal caused local sports talk radio hosts and callers to go into hysterics on Monday, rehashing the ill-fated swap that brought Green to Boston in exchange for starting center Kendrick Perkins, who was sent to Oklahoma City.

"Jeff is still getting acclimated, and [president] Danny [Ainge] and I still believe he will be a key piece for us," Rivers said.

During the portion of practice open to the media, Green dribbled the ball off of his foot, missed three three-pointers, was late on two defensive assignments and appeared to frustrate aging forward Kevin Garnett, who was seen shaking his head sadly rather than barking instructions like usual.

When pressed, Rivers said that the eventual solution to what he called Green's "learning curve issues" will have to come from All-Star starting point guard Rajon Rondo.

"Rondo gets him wide open jumpers, wide open lay-ups, makes 10 plays a game defensively, and he leads by example," Rivers said. "But I have eyes, you have eyes. You can see it. It's clearly not enough. We're looking for Rondo to keep leading and to do even more, to carry all of us. [But] especially Jeff."

Pausing for a moment, Rivers, to the surprise of the media present, chose to vividly underscore his previous point.

"I don't care if Rondo dislocates both of his elbows at the same time so his arms are hanging off of his body backwards, he will need to carry Jeff."

Asked to respond to Rivers' comments, Rondo stared ahead blankly, as always.

4. Greg Oden No-Shows At Day One Of Blazers Camp

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Once again, the gym is full of NBA players and hopefuls.  Once again, the biggest one among them is missing.

The Portland Trail Blazers opened training camp to the media for the first time on Monday, only to reveal that center Greg Oden, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, was nowhere to be found. Oden, who signed a 5-year, $70 million extension during the early-October free agency period, has played just 82 games in his 4-year NBA career and has rarely been available to the media since suffering his most recent in Nov. 2010.

Through a spokesperson, Blazers president Larry Miller refused to comment about Oden's status, leaving new GM Brandon Roy -- who was promoted to the position after Miller used the amnesty clause to rid the Blazers of the four years remaining on his contract -- to face the media scrutiny alone. Roy said the team would not rush its center back to the court, noting that Oden's recovery from microfracture knee surgery was still "on schedule," although he did not divulge further specifics.

Blazers coach Nate McMillan looked irritated by the questions. "I've got 18 guys here fighting hard to grab one of our roster spots, let's talk about them," McMillan said.

Mike Conley, Sr., Oden's agent, offered a possible explanation by email. "Rehabilitation has kept Greg off the court for almost a year. During that time, in addition to completing a multi-disciplinary strength and flexibility training program, Greg has worked hard on improving and honing his invisibility. I'm pleased to hear that his work has evidently paid off. How many 7-footers do you know that can literally disappear in the blink of an eye? We feel this will make him even more valuable in the years to come."

Oden's whereabouts are not currently known at this time. His status for Portland's season opener is also up in the air.

"We'll just have to see," said McMillan.

Or not.

5. Kings Guard Completes First Pass

SACRAMENTO -- Kings coach Paul Westphal couldn't help but beam. After all, he had just witnessed an important milestone for his young team.

"I've been preaching unselfishness and ball movement all week and it was great to finally see these guys take that message to heart and execute it," Westphal said, his shirt soaked with sweat.

After back-to-back-back two-a-day practices and a morning session that yielded no progress, Jimmer Fredette became the team's first guard to complete a pass during scrimmage play on Thursday night. Prior to the pass, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons and free agent signing Jamal Crawford had each managed to take a shot, draw a foul or commit a turnover on all of their possessions. Meanwhile, rookie point guard Isaiah Thomas, arguably the team's best playmaker on paper, left the practice facility on Tuesday after being frozen out for 263 straight trips up the court and hasn't been heard from since. A team official assured CBSSports.com that the organization is "not alarmed."

Fredette's pass occurred when he inadvertently took the ball out of bounds following a made basket by Evans. Looking confused, and with no other option other than committing a five-second violation, Fredette reluctantly inbounded the ball to Thornton, who promptly dribbled coast-to-coast, only to have his running lay-up attempt swatted out of bounds by center DeMarcus Cousins. Westphal shouted encouragement -- "That's what I'm talking about!" -- and blew his whistle, briefly stopping practice to single out Fredette for praise.

"It was nothing, really," Fredette said, afterwards, looking a touch sheepish.

6. Adelman Closes Practices To Timberwolves Executives

MINNEAPOLIS, MN -- Two hours after a minor shouting match erupted between Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman and president David Kahn on Monday, the two men pledged publicly that they had put the matter behind them.

"Direct communication is integral to creating a winning atmosphere," Kahn told a group of reporters on Monday afternoon. "Rick and I exchanged ideas, as we often do, and we were able to come to a resolution that is amenable to both parties. We thank you for your interest but this matter has been resolved. We look forward to a successful year."

The dispute, two league sources said, began when Adelman chided Kahn for openly cheering for rookie point guard Ricky Rubio, while wearing a Rubio jersey, in front of the entire team. That exchange escalated when Adelman decided to play veteran Luke Ridnour with the starting unit, instead of Rubio, prompting Kahn to yell loudly, "Come on!" 

According to the sources, Adelman then threatened to quit on the spot, issuing a "you go or I go" ultimatum just weeks after formally accepting the position and signing a 4-year contract.

"This is my team and I make the coaching decisions," Adelman told reporters bluntly after practice. "That's it. Any other questions?"

The resolution, according to sources, will keep Kahn and other team executives off the practice court for the rest of training camp, although indications are that Kahn and Adelman have agreed to revisit the matter once the regular season begins.

Rubio, who competed for the Spanish national team at this summer's EuroBasket tournament, finished Monday's scrimmage with 0 points and two assists in 37 minutes.

7. Thibodeau Thanks Fans, Admits They Could Be Right

CHICAGO -- The Bulls held an intra-squad scrimmage at the United Center on Friday, allowing fans and season ticket holders the rare opportunity to watch the team go through its paces free of charge.

NBA MVP Derrick Rose drew the loudest cheers and the longest line of pre-game admirers, Luol Deng pledged $10,000 to charity at halftime, and new free agent signing J.R. Smith, who bought his own way out of a one-year contract he signed to play in China, autographed a diehard fan's neck with a tattoo gun. But the clear highlight of the festivities came when the NBA's reigning Coach of the Year, Tom Thibodeau, took a microphone at center court just before tipoff to thank Bulls fans for their loyal support during the team's run to the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals.

"You guys are the best fans in the league," Thibodeau said, to wild applause. "We hear you loud and clear every night. You give us a true home court advantage and we, all of us, from me to the players, appreciate it."

Seemingly overwhelmed by the extended standing ovation he received, Thibodeau shuffled quickly to the sideline before catching himself and returning to the microphone to offer a final thought.

"Just to let you know," the defensive mastermind continued, "We also hear you loud and clear about Carlos Boozer."

The simple mention of the power forward's name elicited instinctive and ravenous booing from the fans, who were in no mood to forgive Boozer's disappointing showing in the 2011 NBA Playoffs and the team's controversial decision not to use the Amnesty Clause to shed his massive contract during free agency.

"Yes, we've received thousands of letters, text messages, phone calls and emails. For the sanity of Illinois' hard-working postal workers, please stop sending them. We understand that you think he is soft, that he isn't good enough to be a No. 2 guy, and that he isn't clutch enough to put us over the top against Miami."

Here, the second-year head coach drew a breath and exhaled, the long, lonely nights in his office preparing schemes and reading the fan correspondence clearly weighing upon his heart.

"Look, you're probably right about all of it. But how the hell are we going to trade him?"

Boozer, who mysteriously broke his hand for the second consecutive offseason, was not medically cleared to play in the scrimmage and was not available to provide a statement. Nobody noticed or cared.

Posted on: September 22, 2011 2:20 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 3:03 pm
 

Report: Blazers C Marcus Camby busted with pot

Posted by Ben Gollivermarcus-camby

Portland Trail Blazers centers have been cursed with joint problems for years now. Not this type of joint, though.

Marcus Camby has been an invaluable fill-in when fellow centers Greg Oden, Joel Przybilla and Jeff Pendergraph have gone down with knee injuries in the last 18 months. On Monday, YourHoustonNews.com reports that Camby was caught with "marijuana cigarettes" in Texas while driving under suspicious circumstances.
Two-time NBA all-star Marcus Camby, 37, of the Portland Trail Blazers, was arrested by Pearland police Monday and charged with marijuana possession.

Police officials say officers pulled over Camby’s black Porsche around midnight on when he was spotted driving north on Cullen Boulevard with a sun screen device blocking the front window.

Officers then questioned Camby and a passenger, later identified as Kendal Lance Johnson, 25. Officers say they noticed the smell of marijuana. Camby gave permission for the car to be searched and police said they discovered what appeared to be several marijuana cigarettes and a baggie with a small amount of the same substance hidden under the front seat. Both suspects denied ownership of the marijuana.
Camby was reportedly charged with a class A misdemeanor and released on bond. He could face a fine or, potentially, jail time. 

A trusted veteran voice and once one of the league's top rebounders and defensive specialists, Camby averaged 4.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 26.1 minutes per game last season. Camby, 37, is entering the final year of a two-year contract extension that will pay him $11.2 million in 2011-2012.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 7:26 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 8:07 pm
 

Blazers president Miller confirms GM interviews

Posted by Ben Golliverlarry-miller

PORTLAND, Ore. -- More than 100 days after "parting ways" with former GM Rich Cho weeks before the 2011 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers have yet to hire Cho's full-time replacement.

Blazers president Larry Miller did finally confirm that the GM search process has progressed in a telephone interview with CBSSports.com on Monday.

"We have talked to and interviewed some candidates," Miller said. "I'm not going to mention any names but we have interviewed candidates."

Yahoo Sports has reported that the Blazers are eying Oklahoma City Thunder executive Troy Weaver, San Antonio Spurs executive Dennis Lindsey and former Golden State Warriors executive Chris Mullin, while ESPN.com added Cleveland Cavaliers executive David Griffin and Los Angeles Clippers executive Neil Olshey to the list.

Miller refused to confirm any of those names but did say that he has interviewed "more than four" candidates in a "formal" setting. That interview process has yet to include owner Paul Allen, though.

"The process is running smoothly," Miller said, after weeks of refusing to comment about the GM search. "I think we feel good about what we we've gone through in terms of identifying potential candidates. It's gone pretty smoothly. But we're not going to rush, we're going to continue to take our time, with the goal of bringing in the right person that is going to be able to provide some consistency for us."

Miller said that the organization has settled on the ideal criteria of a prospective candidate, as laid out in a vague plan following the announcement of Cho's depature, but he would not divulge what that might be.

"I don't want to get into any of the details, but we have come to an agreement on what the skillset is we're looking for."

Miller has never been the most popular executive in Portland. His failed efforts to restructure and expand the team's television distribution deal and the firings of Pritchard and Cho have made him an obvious target for critics, who say he is now afraid to make promises that he won't be able to keep. Earlier this summer, he admitted that he rushed the hiring of Cho to the detriment of his organization and vowed to avoid that mistake during the current hiring process. 

"Our position has been that we are not going to play the search out in the media," Miller said. "I'm going to stick with that position. We are trying to do what we think is best for the organization and bring in the best possible person that we can. That's why we are taking the approach that we are taking. It's not about being afraid to make promises or anything like that."

Even though the process has dragged for an entire summer, there is no clear end in sight. Miller said it was his "hope" that the Blazers would have a full-time GM in place when the Blazers are back on the court, but he passed on the opportunity to guarantee it.

"That's our hope for sure," Miller said. "I'm not going to put any kind of timeline out there. I'm going to stick with that. I'm not going to lock us into any timeline."

He also said the Blazers were prepared to enter a free agency period without a full-time GM, relying instead on Acting GM Chad Buchanan if need be.

"I would hope to [hire a GM before the free agency period]," Miller said. "But we are prepared in the event that we don't. I think Chad and the rest of the team there have continued to work on preparing us for that so once free agency does open up we're going to be ready for it whether we have a GM in place or we don't have a permanent GM in place. We feel confident that Chad and the team will have us ready for that in the event that there's not a GM in place at that point."

The organization's drawn out, cloak and dagger approach to finding a replacement for Cho, who was fired less than a year after former GM Kevin Pritchard was deposed on the night of the 2010 NBA Draft, has worn on many fans in Portland. Miller acknowledged that he is feeling some disengagement with the team's rabid fanbase this summer and that he "definitely" understands their frustration.

"This is always a down time for us anyway," Miller said. "Usually, before training camp starts, things are a little bit quiet in terms of fan interaction. It's kind of typical... There's a lot that we can't talk about right now. Because of that, it is creating some issues with our ability to engage with fans. It is what it is. That's where we are at this point. But I do understand what you're saying [about fan frustration] and I think there is some validity to it."

Even if the Blazers haven't hired a new GM, there have been executive moves: the team's senior vice president of business affairs resigned in June and two long-time media executives were let go in July. 

"I would paint those moves as restructuring moves," Miller said. "They were all individual situations. We constantly look at our organization, evaluate it from a structure perspective and decide what changes we need to make."

Finally, Miller confirmed that longtime, popular assistant coach Bill Bayno, who will reportedly join the Minnesota Timberwolves to serve as an assistant under Rick Adelman, will not be back next season.

"I can confirm that we haven't re-signed Bill," Miller said. "We are looking to fill that position. That's really going to be [coach] Nate [McMillan]'s call for the most part. I think the way the situation will work, Nate will talk about it with myself and Chad and his other assistants. At the end of the day it will be Nate's call."
Posted on: September 12, 2011 11:54 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 11:54 am
 

Wesley Matthews can feel his toes again

Posted by Ben Golliver

wesley-matthews

LAS VEGAS, NV -- The "Lockout League," more formally known as Impact Basketball's Competitive Training Series, tipped off here Monday, just a mile or two from the world famous Strip. Aside from a few luxury automobiles in the parking lot, the glitz and glamour didn't creep up Sunset Boulevard. The gym on Day 1 was a crusty sportswriter's dream: no frills, no halftime shows, no musical soundtrack, no entourages, no groupies. It was so low-key there weren't even substitute players or stand-in coaches. Just five-on-five for four quarters, three referees, a scorekeeper taking notes by hand, and a ball. The only neon in the building belonged to a small shot clock. Four games a day like this, back-to-back-to-back-to-back.

Where else would you expect to find Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews during his summer vacation?

Matthews' basketball rags-to-riches story is well known by now. Undrafted out of Marquette, he caught on with the Utah Jazz, impressing legendary coach Jerry Sloan with this toughness and two-way play, and parlayed a strong rookie season into a five-year, front-loaded, full mid-level contract with the Portland Trail Blazers during the summer of 2010. On the day he was introduced to the media in Portland, Matthews promised that the contract wouldn't change him or impact his non-stop work ethic.

By all accounts he has lived up to that pledge, playing in all 82 games in his first season in Portland. He stepped into a starting role when Portland's All-Star guard Brandon Roy dealt with recurring knee issues, averaging 15.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. But one thing did get in the way: a painful ankle injury, caused by a few too many bad sprains, that he opted to play through rather than treat during the season. 

Once summer hit, Matthews' first stop was to a specialist, who recommended a regimen of Platelet Rich Plasma therapy and instructed that he wear a protective boot around the clock to ensure that both his ankle and foot would heal properly.

"I had the PRP injection maybe a few days after the season ended," Matthews said on Monday after scoring 19 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing four assists on 7-for-13 shooting in his Impact debut. "I was in a boot for six weeks. Stayed in the boot at all times, only thing I didn't do was shower with it. After six weeks, I started slowly working on walking, just basic stuff. When you mess up your ankle, you want to get all the mobility right. Get the basics down, everything. It was a long process. it was close to two months trying to get back before I could really do anything."

For Matthews, whose game is predicated on non-stop defensive energy and hustle, two months without movement is akin to torture. But was the mandatory rest worth it?

"It's like night and day," Matthews said of how his ankle feels now compared to how it felt during Portland's first round playoff series loss to the eventual NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. "I can feel my toes now. I didn't have feeling in my toes during the last month and a half of the season."
 
With that he looked down at his feet and smiled. 

During his game Monday, Matthews moved smoothly and forcefully. He slid his feet laterally on defense, pushed the ball aggressively in transition and generally moved as if nothing was wrong. To the naked eye, he looked back to normal.

"The foot is feeling good," Matthews said. "Still healing, still getting better. It's getting stronger. I'm doing more and more and I'm in a lot less pain. I still feel it. I still know that it's not 100 percent there, but it's getting there."

it goes without saying that Portland will need Matthews at 100 percent next season. With a new starting point guard in place and the long-term health of both Roy and center Greg Oden in question, the Blazers need as much stability as they can get. Matthews represents stability and, for his part, isn't sweating the transition from Andre Miller to Raymond Felton at the one.

"Dre was a great point guard," Matthews said. "He really helped me out. He helped the team out a lot. Made me a better player, being able to read the game. With Ray, he's an uptempo guard. He's a tough guard, a hard-nosed defender, just a player. We're excited."

While critics and skeptics like to argue that Blazers coach Nate McMillan will never take his foot off the brake and allow the team's tempo to increase from dead last in the league, Matthews said Felton's arrival could allow the Blazers to push the ball a bit more, given the other pieces already in place.

"I think so," Matthews said when asked whether this could be the year the Blazers finally run more. "We have a lot of pieces. We have a lot of players that can do big things. LaMarcus [Aldridge], Ray, Nic [Batum], B. Roy still. Gerald Wallace. We've got people who can make plays. We drafted Nolan Smith, he's an up and down guy too."

Analysts generally see Matthews, along with Aldridge and Batum, as representing one of three potential core pieces for the Blazers moving forward. To get to the level where that trio can make deep playoff runs, Matthews will need to fill out his offensive game, improving his ability to create his own quality shot, finish in traffic, get to the free throw line and distribute the rock when necessary. He's spent some time this summer working on his offensive repertoire and decided to play at Impact to put that work to the test against live competition.

"I just want to showcase a little bit more," Matthews explained. "I think I did that today. It's one thing to be doing different moves and attacking the basket and doing more dribble moves or combination dribbles by yourself or with cones. But to do it and have success with it against other pros, it's a good feeling. An optimistic feeling."

While he might be a core piece, he has no interest in politicking for any particular upgrade to the roster: Matthews said the Blazers need to add "nothing" to become a contender and that they need to "just win." He also had no desire to comment on Portland's GM position, which remains open after two former GMs -- Kevin Pritchard and Rich Cho -- were fired in an 11-month timespan.
 
"I'm not an executive," Matthews said, smiling again. "I'm not paid to be an executive. I'm going to leave that out. They're just doing what they feel is best for the organization. The only thing I can do is worry about me getting better."
Ever since the lockout went into effect on July 1, though, every NBA player has had to become the "CEO of Me." Dozens have explored the overseas route, with many players signing lucrative deals in the event that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association can't reach a deal. Matthews, who has a fully guaranteed contract that runs through 2014-2015, has expressed interest in playing overseas multiple times this summer. On Monday, he said that was still a possibility, but he made it sound like more of a last resort rather than an active pursuit.

"Yeah, it's in the cards but I hope I don't have to use it."

The threat of injury and the possibility that he could jeopardize his future earnings will not factor into his thought process.

"Can't think about stuff like that," Matthews said bluntly. "I risk myself every time I wake up. Get in the car and work out, it's a risk."

And, anyway, Matthews seemed to hint at some optimism that a new labor deal could be reached in the short term.

"It's getting closer to the season and it's more pressure on both sides to get a deal done," Matthews said. "No one [wants to lose] a season. Hopefully the sense of urgency continues to pick up, the talks keep getting better and we can get to camp."

Until camp, when or if it happens, Matthews will keep on keeping on, working to refine his game.

"I want to play basketball, that's why I'm out here right now," Matthews said finally. 'I'm a gym rat. If I hear the ball bouncing, I gotta go."

So here he came, to an industrial gymnasium in the shadow of the replica Eiffel Tower, near the splash zone of the Bellagio fountains. 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com