Posted on: June 29, 2010 1:24 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2010 1:29 pm
 

Yao Ming will not opt out

Go ahead and cross the big seven foot Chinese dude off your list of free agent hopefuls for your favorite team. Yao Ming isn't going anywhere. Fox 26 Sports in Houston is reporting that Yao Ming will not opt-out for the last year of his contract with the Houston Rockets, a report that is confirmed by General Manager Daryl Morey via Twitter .

Ming's decision was probably equal parts loyalty and realism. Coming off a year that he missed entirely with yet another foot injury (Ming hasn't played since the 2009 playoffs), his value was likely to be downgraded, especially in a year with so many other stars available. But Ming has always been loyal to the club that drafted him, and with the success the Rockets had nearly making the playoffs without him, he has to feel good about making another run with them. Morey is finally getting out from under the yoke of Tracy McGrady's contract and will be able to continue wheeling and dealing.

The Rockets lineup next year, provided they re-sign Luis Scola, is pretty impressive. Aaron Brooks, Kevin Martin, Trevor Ariza, Luis Scola, Yao Ming, with Shane Battier, Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, and Patrick Patterson off the bench. Those stretch fours are going to benefit the most from Ming, who will cause doubles and enable them to create space for open mid-range shots, which most can hit.

The Rockets will also still have assets they can move in a trade, and Morey has shown he's never willing to be content. The Rockets have been near the top of the league during his reign and have really only faltered on account of injury. If Ming comes back healthy (as unreliable a prospect as that is), Houston could be right back in the mix of contenders in 2010-2011.

Funny what a seven foot tall Chinese dude with incrdible touch and length can do for you, huh?

-Matt Moore


Posted on: June 29, 2010 12:16 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2010 9:18 pm
 

Report: Shaw hired as Cavs head coach

UPDATE 2: A person involved in the process told CBSSports.com's Ken Berger that Shaw and the Cavs have entered the negotiation phase, but that no deal has been reached.

UPDATE: Byron Scott's agent has issued a congratulatory email to Shaw and written to FanHouse concerning Scott's role in the search. This one appears to be a done deal, but has not been formally announced.

Sam Amick of NBA FanHouse is reporting that Lakers assistant Brian Shaw is finalizing a deal to become the new head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The report states that while a deal isn't finalized, talks have not advanced with the Cavs' other lead candidate, Byron Scott, who will now start sending Phil Jackson books on the perks of retirement. If the report is indeed true, it means a considerable shift in the Cavaliers' philosophy. Shaw has no head coaching experience and is more offensively minded. It's likely that if he were to take the position that the triangle offense may be installed, an offense which has not succeeded without Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant spearheading it, nor without Phil Jackson himself coaching it, in the last twenty years.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson is off in Montana recuperating from the season and deciding whether or not to return to pursue a 14th championship ring (his 12th as a head coach). There's no way to predict how this development could impact Jackson. On the one hand, he's losing his other key advisor after Kurt Rambis headed to Minnesota last year, and with Jackson refusing to travel were he to return, this would mean turning the keys of a championship team over to someone he may not trust as much. On the other, he may see this as his team needing another year with a steady hand at the wheel.

Either way, you know the question everyone's going to ask. What's LeBron think?

We'll keep you posted on this story throughout the day.

-Matt Moore








Posted on: June 29, 2010 9:22 am
Edited on: June 29, 2010 12:38 pm
 

Wade-LeBron-Bosh rumors are the new malaria

Oh, how we once laughed. We giggled. We guffawed. The idea of it! The sheer madness of the concept! Oh, what rich comedy, to think that it could be true.

Except, well, now no one's laughing.

In Monday's Free Agent Buzzer, our own Ken Berger lays out why the rumored Chris-Bosh-Dwyane-Wade-LeBron-James
trio
possibility in South Beach would both be bad for business, and is extremely unlikely. But the fact that Berger elected to comment on it speaks to how high this only 12-hour old rumor has swept through sports media.

Bear in mind that it's not just Ira Winderman at the Sun-Sentinel dropping that bomb . Stephen A. Smith, who, like it or not, has a ton of access to NBA circles, was out ahead of the pack with the same rumor .

So now we have two significant sources reporting the same concept. Of course, this is nothing new. In the past 48 hours, we've heard Joe Johnson was going to New York, Joe Johnson will be traded to the Mavs, and LeBron to Chicago is a "done deal." If you guys hang on for another 12 hours, we'll be bringing you news that Carlos Boozer has sprouted wings and returned to his home planet in a galaxy far far away for a max contract.

This rumor's got a tremendous amount of steam behind it, and you have to wonder if it is just a rumor, who exactly is pitching that concept around? Someone with something to gain is tossing out the idea that the biggest superstar team-up since "Space Jam " is going down and whoever it is is likely from Wade's camp in Miami.

We'll have more on "THE SUMMIT " later, but if this thing does have legs, it probably started there. All of these reports have one consistent theme, though. Well, besides being pretty much lazed with abject panic from the rest of the league. All of them state that each agent is committed to exploring his options fully. Which means we could be in for an arms race, in reverse, in order to get all three of these players.

The Chicago Bulls pulled off their trade of Kirk Hinrich last week, opening the door to sign two max free agents. But if they can find a way to dish off Luol Deng, or lock in the terms of a sign-and-trade with one of the superstars' respective clubs, they could pull off a similar feat in Chicago. Likewise, I'd bet that Donnie Walsh is probably putting garland on Eddy Curry's head right now to try and pull in any offer he can to dump the center's salary. We started with "two max free agents" and now we're on to three.

We'll get you filled in on the possible ramifications of a team up of these three later (here's the short version: GAME OVER), but these reports indicate two things. One, this is already an abjectly insane point in the league's history from both a level of impact and media coverage perspective. And two, things are only going to get more nuts.

You realize we haven't even started free agency, right?

-Matt Moore

Posted on: June 29, 2010 8:06 am
Edited on: June 29, 2010 9:38 am
 

Colangelo waves the white Bosh flag

You have to appreciate someone being honest. You really have to appreciate someone being honest in sports. And you have to appreciate Bryan Colangelo not spoon feeding us the same tripe about how the Raptors are "very confident" they'll be able to re-sign Chris Bosh.

The Score reports of an interview on a Toronto radio station with Colangelo, where the Raps GM said "I think it's likely that he will leave. "

The Raptors will look to accomplish a sign-and-trade for Bosh in order to recoup some level of value for his departing contract. Their best bet is probably Chicago, would would be able to offer Luol Deng's contract if they feel they can nab LeBron James as the jewel in the crown, making Deng expendable.

The Raptors' roster will remain kind of a mess, however. Jose Calderon has not lived up to the promise of his best season in 2009, Hedo Turkoglu is a cancerous fungus demanding a trade, and their best player without Bosh will be a seven foot Italian who doesn't excel at rebounding (though he can shoot the lights out). They'll look to add pieces and try and figure out some alternative approach. But the tide around Colangelo is definitely turning into a whirlpool from which he may not escape.

Raptors fans have been through a lot, and this is just the latest in a series of disappointments for what is ultimately a terrific fanbase. But the reality of the situation is that Bosh is gone, and rebuilding begins again in Toronto, only with a much larger payroll than usual. But hey, at least they're being honest.

-Matt Moore

Posted on: June 28, 2010 5:06 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2010 6:00 pm
 

New Nets President: 'We're not the Boogeyman'

NJNets.com actually always has some pretty good content, mostly because they invested in a top notch blogger, Ben Couch, to produce content for them. Today they feature an interview with the new President of Onexim Sports and Entertainment (the Nets' new parent company under Mikhail Prokhorov), Irina Pavlova. Pavlova is the daughter of a Russian diplomat , and a former head of Google.  She is described as Prohorov's local representative.

In recent days, there have been rumors that Nets GM Rod Thorn elected to retire due to the presence of Prokhorov's installed Russian managers (referenced as "spies") being a little too close for comfort. In the three part interview on NJNets.com, Pavlova vaguely references the spook talk that's fluttered around the team since being bought by the Russian mogul. Pavlova said this when asked about how she planned to engender trust of Americans for a Russian business (anyone else feel like we're trapped in 1985?):

"I think just by being here, being open and letting our partners see that we’re not the Boogeyman, we’re not the Mafia; we’re normal people, doing business just like anyone else here. I think that removes a lot of the stereotypes, and just dealing with people face-to-face really makes them trust you more and makes you trust them. It works both ways."


Glad we've got that cleared up. President of Nets is not the Boogeyman. No word yet on whether Sam Presti is the Jabberwocky, though.

-Matt Moore
Posted on: June 28, 2010 4:03 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2010 6:02 pm
 

Ball don't lie. No, seriously, ball does not lie.

You've heard the phrase. You've seen the blog . You know the drill. "Ball don't lie." The infamous Rasheed-Wallace-penned quote that has since become a fixture in NBA lexicon. Turns out, Sheed was actually tapping into something buried deep in our subconcious. That's right. Rasheed Wallace has a higher level of astral convergence than you. Deal with that.

Fringe NBA blog FreeDarko today has the first in a series of posts looking at social psychology and the NBA. Wait, don't run! This is actually kind of interesting! The post outlines a paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology" that has to do with the performance of NBA players at the free throw line, following an erroneous foul call . You can read more about the paper at FD, but here's the punchline:

"...the authors calculated free throw percentage for the first shot after these incorrect calls, which turned out to be a whoppingly low 53.2%, substantially lower than the league average for the season on first-shot free throws, 73.6% (the league average was 77.8% for second-shot free throws). This suggests inequity aversion--players felt significantly less comfortable making a free throw after receiving an unjust foul call."

It's a bizarre trend that may be more coincidence than anything else, but the numbers are pretty staggering. Who knew there was such a thing as a "guilt miss?"

-Matt Moore

Category: NBA
Posted on: June 28, 2010 3:05 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2010 6:02 pm
 

Everyone wants Joe Johnson all of a sudden

Look, I'm not sayin'. I'm just sayin'.

You're going to be hard pressed to find a bigger Joe Johnson advocate in ye old Blogosphere than the author of this post right here. An Arkansas native (Johnson grew up in Little Rock, went to school at U of A), and someone that dug the SSOL-era Suns (who didn't outside of San Antonio), I have followed the explosive wing's career in Atlanta with great interest. That little crossover business with Boston? That's some pretty stuff, right there.

But is he worth all the attention he's suddenly receiving?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the Mavs intend to pursue a sign-and-trade to acquire the services of the soon-to-be 29 year-old shooting guard. This coming on the heels of reports that he's on the fast train to New York, and of course, that Chicago is on the target list as well.

The Mavericks have been banking on a sign-and-trade option for free agency for a long time (and Mark Cuban's already invested money to that effect in the form of a fine for talking about it ). They have a talented roster and are willing to absorb more salary, as they've consistently been at the top of the luxury tax for nearly the past decade. A combination of Caron Butler and pieces might be enough to entice the Hawks into going for the deal. For Johnson, it would mean getting the extra year's worth of money that comes with signing with his former club, plus not having to be "the man" for the team, playing in tandem with Dirk Nowitzki. It would also move him closer to his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas.

But is Johnson worth the kind of money that would be coming to him in a max-contract sign and trade? There's been a lot of speculation about Johnson being willing to take less than a max deal, but those rumors were tied with him being headed to New York. Regardless, his deal will still be an albatross, and will remain so throughout the length of his contract. By the time it ends, Johnson could be a 35 year old shooting guard with faded elevation. His jump shot isn't pure like Ray Allen, and there's been a noticeable plateau in his efficiency as he approaches the apex of his career.

With that being said, there's something to be said in that article linked above from Hawks blog Hoopinion on how his game could adjust in the right circumstances:


"...he could become more efficient in a lower-usage role but likely at the cost of some the volume of points he's scored and assists he's earned over the last five seasons."

That's precisely the type of role he'd fit in with the Mavs. Jason Kidd as the creator, Dirk Nowitzki (assuming the highly probable re-signing) as the lynch pin, and Johnson as the perimeter finisher. It would put the Mavs offense immediately in the top of the league offensively... hypothetically. Then again, the deal for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood was supposed to put them in similar context, and instead resulted in a swift first round ejection.

There's one thing we can tell from this report. Mark Cuban, yet again, will not be sitting around twiddling his thumbs during the most important offseason in NBA history.

-Matt Moore


Posted on: June 28, 2010 1:53 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2010 1:58 pm
 

The coaching factor in Lebron James' free agency

Our own Ken Berger outlined for you the totality of what LeBron James is condering in his free agency courtship ritual that starts Thursday. But lost among the discussions of weather, teammates, finance, marketing, wine, women, and song is that somewhere in there, he's got to play actual basketball. And while the roster certainly plays a part in that, what about the potential head coaches he'll be leveraging a system with? Let's be clear on this, his new coach's system will be molded to fit James' game, not the other way around (ironic, since James is the one free agent with the most versatility of this monstrous class of 2010). So what exactly is he going to be examining starting Thursday at 12:01AM EST (yes, yes, we know, he's already looking at those things. Play along, will you?).

Chicago: Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau is coming in as a blank offensive book. He's been focused on defense for the past ten years, and there's been scare discussion of what exactly Thibodeau has in mind. One thing we do know is he wants to initate the offense with Derrick Rose , capitalizing on his speed and strength. The question for James is if he's prepared to play off-ball and be set up to use his incredible array of talents, or if he wants to run the LeISO sets, as they were called in Cleveland, where he single-handedly orchestrated the offense. Certainly in crunch time those are the possessions you want, with your best player with the ball in his hand. But if James recognizes that Rose's dribble penetration and mid-range game can open up more opportunities while saving his energy, Chicago could become a lot more attractive.

New York: Mike D'Antoni. If James has visions of wanting to challenge for averaging a triple double, New York is where he needs to be. Seven Seconds or Less will boost anyone's stats, and when you examine what Shawn Marion was able to do (21.8 points, 11.8 rebounds) with a lesser skillset under the 'stache, James' numbers could be through the roof. It's the defensive side of the ball where James is likely to be hesitant. If there's one thing his playoff failures have taught him, from Detroit to San Antonio to Boston to Orlando and then Boston again, it's that defense wins championships. He's had that mantra pounded into him from the day the Cavs made the playoffs, and all his most succesful teams have been built around defense. It would take a dramatic departure for James to embrace D'Antoni's style, which would defensively result in more highlight breakaways off of turnovers, but would also make life much harder for him against the Eastern elite. Numbers aren't everything, and the team defensive numbers are likely to matter more.

Miami Heat:
Pat Riley's pitch is going to be simple. Talent matters, and if you play with Dwyane Wade, everything else is irrelevant. The problem is that while Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has made the playoffs with the Heat and won consistently, the offense has been a bit of a disaster. Too often Spoelstra has surrendered command to Wade and not induced enough off-ball movement and against playoff schemes designed to converge on ISO players (like, say, Boston), the Heat's strategy has wilted considerably. Spoelstra's defensive components should be sound, and he's well liked by the players and organization. Miami could be an attractive option if James decides he wants more control over the offense, since a simpler system will have fewer principles for him to crack.

New Jersey Nets:
Avery Johnson has experience with creating offense. His Mavericks teams were good on both sides of the ball, but under Johnson they were versatile behemoths, slayed primarily because of a series of bad matchups in the playoffs. Johnson had success using Devin Harris as a drive and create guard, and circling the offense through Dirk Nowitzki in the high post. We heven't seen James operate much in the high post, curiously, as he usually either attacks from the perimeter or sets up in the low block. Using James as a Josh Howard/Dirk Nowitzki hybrid could yield some explosive results under Avery, and his commitment to man-defensive principles could appeal to James' simplistic concept of defense without as many of the help systems he adhered to under Mike Brown.

The Clippers and Cavs currently don't have a coach. The question is if that's a good thing or a bad thing for them as they attempt to lure James. It could be good from the perspective of giving James the option of selecting his own coach from a series of candidates. But it could also look like the organization doesn't have their house in order. Both candidates the Clippers are exploring do have head coaching experience, but aren't considered top rung. And the longer the Cavs get jerked around by Byron Scott waiting on the Lakers, the worse it looks for them, especially with Danny Ferry out.

As Berger said, there's a world of things James will be considering, and he'll be the final one making the decision. Coaching in the NBA isn't the most important thing, but it's certainly a factor. And in a competition where you're judged down to the minute detail, because James simply has the luxury of examining you to that degree, things like coaching will matter. What James decides to go with will say a lot about what he thinks of his game, and where he thinks his future is best invested, system-wise.

-Matt Moore

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