Posted on: December 29, 2008 11:48 am

Monday Shootaround

* A good, fair and comprehensive look at the man who is trying to lead the Nets to Brooklyn, from Dave D'Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger. (Full disclosure: Like me, Brett Yormark attended Indiana University.)

* LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade get all the headlines, but Amare Stoudemire also is on the list of star players who can decline player options or terminate their contracts to become free agents in 2010. For now, Stoudemire says he wants to stay in Phoenix. He'll be eligible for a contract extension this summer.

* I guess the Celtics recovered from their two-game losing streak...

* Wizards G.M. Ernie Grunfeld says Gilbert Arenas isn't going to sit out the year given Washington's 5-23 record. "He'll come back as soon as he's ready," Grunfeld said. "He's getting close."

* The Raptors reportedly are interested in journeyman Joe Smith as a possible solution to their lack of rebounding and shot-blocking. Denver, Miami, and Orlando also reportedly are interested. Something has to give in Oklahoma City. If, as expected, the Nets decline to match the Thunder's offer sheet for Nenad Krstic Monday, the roster will be overloaded with big men. Chris Wilcox expects somebody to be dealt.

* We've told you about this already, but here's another take on how flat attendance and suffering revenue could actually lower the NBA salary cap next season. Just another reason why the big names will be opting out of their contracts like patrons running out of a building on fire in the next two years -- to get their money before the double-whammy of a lower cap and more owner-friendly CBA hits them in 2011. In the end, the stars will get theirs. The real impact will be felt by the so-called "middle class" of the league -- those who are below the top tier of players.

* Even though the Cavs keep winning, Brian Windhorst sees some alarming trends.

* Shawn Marion in Miami is "the most awkward fit," according to Hardwood Paroxysm. "It's like a polar bear in a tu-tu plopped into the middle of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. You may still get 'The Impression That I Get' but you still don't know what the hell it's doing there."

* Idle sharpshooter Damon Jones finally has reported to the Bucks. With the trade deadline approaching, you have to wonder which teams Milwaukee might be showcasing him for ...

* A look ahead to the 2009 free agent class.

* Channing Frye is in love with Portland. "This is where I want to spend the rest of my life," he said. Only one problem: Frye is out of the rotation and might get traded. (Thanks for the link, TrueHoop.)



Category: NBA
Posted on: December 29, 2008 10:22 am
Edited on: December 29, 2008 11:20 pm

Baron Davis wants back in Golden State (UPDATE 2)

Now I've seen it all. According to the Contra Costa Times, Warriors swingman Stephen Jackson spent some time over the weekend with former teammate Baron Davis. And guess what? The Baron said "my bad" on opting out of his deal with the Warriors and signing a five-year, $65 million deal with the Clippers.

"He wants to come back," Jackson said. "And if he wants to come back, I want him back."

Things have gone south fast in L.A.; Davis has clashed with coach Mike Dunleavy and the Clips are 8-21.

I have a couple of thoughts: First, for Baron: When you opt out of your contract and sign with another team for a lot of money, you don't get to change your mind. And for Jackson: It might be time to stop playing fantasy G.M. If I could figure out who was in charge of the Warriors and making the decisions there, I'd be able to determine who was the most ticked off that Jackson seems to spend more time contemplating trades than trying to make the team better. What a mess in the Bay Area.

UPDATE: Matt Steinmetz has some insightful analysis of the situation here. His conclusion is what you might expect -- Baron isn't going back to the Bay Area -- but not for the reasons you might expect.

UPDATE: In the wake of Baron's comments to Jackson, Corey Maggette was asked before Monday night's game against Toronto if he wanted to do the Baron two-step and return to the Clippers. "Who me? No. I love it here, man," Maggette said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. 


Posted on: December 25, 2008 8:32 pm

Lakers did the Celtics a favor

The best thing that could've happened to the Celtics on Christmas Day, in front of a raucous Staples Center crowd and curious national TV audience, was to lose to the Lakers.

Trust me, this game meant a lot more to the Lakers than it did to the Celtics.

Just as Boston received nothing of value for winning 19 consecutive games and embarking on the best 29-game start in NBA history, neither do the Lakers receive any trophies or other meaningful accolades for stopping it with a 92-83 victory Thursday.

Sure, the Lakers can build off a game in which they (finally) defended for 48 minutes and got key contributions from Andrew Bynum (who missed last year's Finals loss to Boston with an injury) and Pau Gasol (who was too often missing in key moments against the Celtics last June). But while they may not realize it now, the Lakers' stirring performance against the defending champs Thursday -- by far the most anticipated game of the NBA season to date -- will refocus the Celtics and alleviate the unnecessary pressure of the streak.

It was tied for the fourth-longest winning streak in NBA history -- a noteworthy accomplishment, and one that will mean diddly squat come June. Had the Celtics won Thursday, their efforts to repeat as champions would've been unnecessarily sidetracked by ever more sweltering national attention on something that ultimately means nothing. As Kevin Garnett said Tuesday night after the Celtics beat the Sixers for their 19th straight win, all of these records and milestones are nothing but steam that will simply evaporate if Boston doesn't win the title.

Imagine the distraction of going to Portland on Tuesday with the possibility of passing the 2007-08 Rockets for the second-longest winning streak in NBA history (23). Then, with victories over Washington, New York, and Charlotte, the streak would've been at 26 when Boston hosted the Rockets on Jan. 7. If they won, they would've been at 27 when they visited Cleveland on Jan. 9 -- inching ever closer to the longest winning streak in NBA history, 33, by the 1971-72 Lakers.

And so on, and so on. The Celtics should be glad it's over. Now they can just continue doing what they've been doing. Now they can take an unbiased look at their team and start thinking about what, if anything, needs to be added before the Feb. 19 trade deadline.

They're still on pace with the 1995-96 Bulls, whose 72-10 record was the best in NBA history. They still have a shot at surpassing the Celtics' franchise record of 68 victories, set in 1972-73. But that record, too, means little; the '72-'73 Celtics lost to the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals.

If anything, this loss exploited the Celtics' bench, which got outplayed by the Lakers' reserves. It showed that Doc Rivers will have to come up with an answer if the Lakers choose to close games in June with Bynum and Gasol on the floor at the same time. If Gasol makes big shots -- and he made a couple down the stretch Thursday, and also blocked a 3-point attempt by Ray Allen as the Celtics were trying to cut it to 88-86 with 1:21 left -- it's a formidable matchup problem for Boston. Gasol's block resulted in a five-point swing as Trevor Ariza got free for a dunk that made it 90-83 with 1:10 left.

But this game, beamed to our TV sets on Christmas Day, also proved something else. It proved something else to me, anyway. It proved that Lakers-Celtics in the Finals again wouldn't be as repetitious and boring as I thought it would be. If it's anything like Thursday, then we've all been reminded how much we have to look forward to in June.



Posted on: December 24, 2008 1:17 pm

Suns sign Dee Brown

Dee Brown has won the Phoenix Suns' point-guard derby. Phoenix signed the 2006 second-round pick Wednesday to serve as Steve Nash's backup.

The Suns worked out a half-dozen point guards on Monday: Brown, Darrell Armstrong, Eddie Gill, Troy Hudson, Walker Russell Jr. and Damon Stoudamire. Funny, I didn't see Stephon Marbury's name on that list. Must be some mistake.

The Suns were compelled to look outside for point guard help, reportedly because they've been disappointed with the progress of 2008 second-round pick Goran Dragic. They contributed $500,000 toward Dragic's buyout with his Spanish team, Tau Ceramica, but with the addition of Brown, Dragic could be headed to the D-League.

The Suns have 13 players under contract, two under the limit, so they have flexibility to do some more tinkering before the Feb. 19 trade deadline.



Category: NBA
Posted on: December 24, 2008 1:05 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2008 12:22 pm

Steve Francis traded to Memphis (UPDATE 2)

Steve Francis will wind up with the Grizzlies, after all. Not the Vancouver Grizzlies -- the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Houston Rockets announced Wednesday they've dealt the injured former superstar to Memphis along with a 2009 second-round pick and cash. The Rockets get a conditional 2011 second-round pick.

The second-round pick going to Memphis was originally acquired from the Grizzlies in a 2008 draft night deal. Francis has not played for the Rockets this season after having surgery on a torn quadriceps tendon back in February. You may recall how Francis balked at playing for the Vancouver Grizzlies after he was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in 1999. His rights were traded to Houston in a three-team, 11-player deal.

More later as details become available.

UPDATED: Francis is in the final year of a two-year deal that pays him $2.6 million this season. That money would come off Memphis' books in July. For Francis, he gets a chance to get some minutes, test his knee, and decide if he can continue his career. For the Grizzlies, the deal was mostly about reaquiring their 2009 second-round pick, which went to Houston as part of separate deals in which Houston got Donte Green and Joey Dorsey

UPDATED Dec. 25, 12:23 p.m.: The cash involved in the deal is a nice holiday gift for Memphis. Houston pays Francis' contract plus a little more, a person familiar with the deal said. The maximum cash allowed to change hands in a trade is $3 million, so it sounds like Memphis got a little less than that.

Posted on: December 24, 2008 9:11 am
Edited on: December 24, 2008 12:55 pm

Wednesday Shootaround

BOSTON -- I guess you can't blame the people of Boston for not being too excited about the Celtics' 19-game winning streak and the best 29-game start in NBA history. It's Christmas Eve, there's a chill in the air and snow on the ground, and the Celtics themselves keep repeating over and over again how all these records are as insigificant as steam.

The blah attitude was pretty much summed up by my cab driver from Logan Airport to the TD Banknorth Garden Wednesday Tuesday night. Joseph was his name. "Joseph Stalin," he said. "I'm Russian."

I mentioned to Joseph -- let's call him Joe the Cabbie -- that I'd heard they had a pretty good basketball team up here in Boston. "It's about time," he said. "A long time, we had nothing."

This was all well and good, until we arrived at the arena and the meter read $34. Stalin had taken the long way, like I'm some kind of rube, running the meter the way Eddie House likes to run his mouth. My ride from the hotel back to Logan Wednesday morning was a more appropriate $17.

Next time I'm in Boston, Joe, I'm going to look for your cab and ask for my $17 back. Merry Christmas.

Here's the rest of your Morning Shoot:

* One more thing on the Celtics. I'm from New York, and if the Knicks had just set a record for the best start in NBA history and longest winning streak in franchise history, there would be a solid six pages of hysterical coverage in the New York papers. The Boston Herald offered two -- game story, column, notebook, just like any other game. The Celtics are the best team in basketball ... and the Yankees signed Teixeira!

* Eddy Curry will be back in the Knicks' lineup soon, which means Donnie Walsh will be able to trade him soon. The Knicks will get additional flexibility after New Year's, when they expect to receive a disabled player expcetion of about $4 million for Cuttino Mobley. The exception could be used to sign Carlos Delfino, who is playing in Russia, to an offer sheet, It could also be used to accept a salary another team is looking to park in a three-way trade. Expect the Knicks to be active between now and the trade deadline. 

* Tenth straight game with a technical for the Pistons; league-leading 11th of the season for Rasheed Wallace. Oh, and Rodney Stuckey scored 40.

* The Lakers easily handled the Hornets, but all the questions afterward were about the Celtics.

Happy holidays to all -- and good luck with the last-minute shopping.




Category: NBA
Posted on: December 23, 2008 10:26 am

Tuesday Shootaround

Big deal at the Meadowlands Monday night. Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian playing head-to-head in a game televised live in China. Huge contingent of Chinese media on hand. Seriously, I almost got trampled on the way into the Rockets' locker room after the game. You should have seen Tracy McGrady's face when a reporter was trying to explain why so many Chinese reporters had descended upon the game. It didn't seem to register, and I have to say, I agreed. It wasn't like it was the first time they've played each other. And it's not like Yi is any good.

Speaking of which, bad garbage-time stint for the Rockets' Joey Dorsey. He'll never live down the fact that he got his shot blocked by Yi moments after checking into the game. Yi is one of the weakest finishers and basket defenders in the NBA.

Oh, Yao got the better of Yi in the Rockets' 114-91 victory. He got the better of him on the stat sheet, too with 24 points and 16 rebounds. Yi had 10 points on 4 of 13 shooting. Evidently, expectations of Yao are extremely high in China. One reporter asked Ron Artest after the game why Yao didn't get that many rebounds. Dude had 16 boards!

More Yi, to filed under the category Yi-gad. Or under the category of what The New York Times would call him: Mister Yi. Yes, it turns out Yi's age is a mystery. A Chinese-language version of Sports Illustrated uncovered documents purporting that Yi was born in 1984 -- not 1987, as noted in his official basketball record with the country. Yi is reportedly one of 36 Chinese basketball players whose birthdates were found to have been altered. Two NBA team executives familiar with Yi's situation said it wouldn't be surprising if he were found to be older than previously reported. One of them said it is common knowledge in international basketball circles that Yi is a few years older; the other said he believes Yi is one or two years older than stated in his records, not three years. "Whenever you acquire a foreign player -- whatever country he's from -- the question always comes up: What's his real age?" one of the executives said. So my question to the executive was this: What's Yao's real age. "Who knows?" he said..

Here's the rest of your Morning Shoot:

* Five straight for the Magic and another solid night for Jameer Nelson.

* Lakers are back on track with 36 from Kobe.

* The David Lee-for-Linas Kleiza story has resurfaced. That's great, but until the Knicks are willing to trade Lee and the Nuggets are willing to trade Kleiza, I'd have to guess that this trade is not going to happen. Donnie Walsh is not currently looking to move Lee. George Karl is too fond of Kleiza for the Nuggets to trade him unless the deal is sweetened. Nuff said on that one for now.

* Thanks to Ballerblogger for finding this new Jordan commercial. If you're dragging, this is better than caffeine.

* We had the All-Underrated Team here last week. The blog has the most overrated player of all time, and the stats to prove it: Isaiah Rider.

* The Celtics go for 19 in a row Tuesday night against the 76ers. That would be the longest winning streak in franchise history and would give them the best 29-game start in NBA history, surpassing the 1966-67 Sixers and the 1969-70 Knicks.

* Interesting fact: The Cettics play the Rockets on Jan. 7. The Celtics ended the Rockets' 22-game winning streak last season. If it's still going, Boston's streak would be at 26 entering that game.

* Gotta love Dirk Nowitzki saying he'd take a pay cut in 2010 to help the Mavs sign a marquee free agent.

* The Thunder's offer sheet for Nenad Krstic is for three years and $15.8 million. That'll be enough to prompt Krstic to get out of his contract with Triumph Moscow, and more than enough for the Nets to decline their matching rights. The Nets have until Tuesday to decide, but the fact that the deal extends into 2010-11 makes it a pretty easy call. Matching the offer sheet also would cost the Nets a player because they already have 15 under contract. Hey, if it was Nene, maybe. But not Nenad.

* Raptors G.M. Bryan Colangelo says he's not panicking.

* Damon Stoudamire, Eddie Gill, and Dee Brown reportedly are the favorites in the Suns' point-guard audition.

* Tayshaun Prince may offer anger-management counseling to teammates Rasheed Wallace (10 technicals) and Rip Hamilton (four). The Pistons have a streak of nine straight games with at least one individual technical. "Them dudes, they off the chain," Prince said. "I can't help them."

* Devin Harris impersonates President Bush in this video (with assist from a shoe-wielding Vince Carter.) Monday night against the Rockets, he impersonated Von Wafer.


Category: NBA
Posted on: December 22, 2008 11:48 am

Raptors look to deal, but not with N.Y.

The silly season gets sillier by the day. A reasonable, workable trade scenario involving the Knicks and Raptors was floated on by veteran NBA writer Sam Smith -- Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry to Toronto for Jermaine O'Neal and Anthony Parker. Sounds good. The Knicks get something for Marbury, and J.O.'s monstrous contract comes off the books in time for the 2010 free-agent derby. Only one problem: The Knicks and Raptors haven't discussed a trade in months, according to an executive familiar with both teams' plans.

One thing is clear: Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo is looking to deal. O'Neal isn't fitting in with Toronto, and Colangelo is under tremendous pressure to turn this team around to appease Chris Bosh, who has the all-important player option in 2010. A likely trade chip will be Parker and his $4.6 million expiring contract. Toronto will come up numerous trade scenarios floated and discussed between now and the Feb. 19 deadline, and is all but certain to pull the trigger on something. Just not this one.

Marbury's buyout talks continue to creep forward, but a person with ties to Marbury said he doesn't expect anything to be finalized before January. The Knicks have given Marbury permission to find a deal with another team, but Marbury's representative, Hal Biagas of the NBA Players Association, is playing that side of it close to the vest.

There will be no trade market for Curry, on the books for $31.5 through 2010-11, until he gets on the floor and plays. He hasn't logged a minute since preseason due to a knee injury.



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