Posted on: December 1, 2008 11:41 am
Edited on: December 1, 2008 11:59 am

Morning Shootaround (UPDATE)

* I asked Nets G.M. Kiki Vandeweghe before the season what would have to happen for New Jersey to somehow surprise people and be in the mix for the seventh of eighth playoff spot. His answer indicated he hadn't even thought of that. "You always want to win the games and you always want to make the playoffs," he said. "What we’re about is we want to win with a purpose, and the purpose being to build the foundation the right way. You can’t certainly expect young kids to grow up overnight. But obviously a lot’s dependent on how quickly the young kids can mature." Well, if you consider Devin Harris one of the young kids, he has grown up overnight. Harris lit up Steve Nash and the Suns for 47 points Sunday night, and the Nets finished 3-1 on their first West Coast trip of the season with a 117-109 victory. Harris also had eight assists and seven rebounds, and the Nets owned Phoenix down the stretch with key contributions from Vince Carter and rookie Brook Lopez. It's too early for Jay-Z and Beyonce to book their playoff parties, but the Nets have won five of six and are 9-7 -- good for second place in the Atlantic and sixth in the East.

* Rick Carlisle has scrapped the Princeton offense in Dallas, and the Mavs are playing better. Still, Carlisle has to be wondering how his offense would be working if Devin Harris were running it, and not Jason Kidd. Tim MacMahon of the Dallas Morning News wonders: Did anyone think Harris would be this good?

* I drove down to Philly to get a glimpse of Bulls No. 1 pick Derrick Rose, and was not disappointed. If you haven't seen the clip of his dastardly crossover on Sixers point guard Andre Miller, you need to see it. Jeff Lenchiner of has a step-by-step description here, as well as the clip. Miller got crossed up so badly that he crumbled to the court like Plaxico Burress after ... oh, never mind.

* The Lakers didn't even need Kobe Bryant in the fourth quarter to beat the Raptors, 112-99, and improve to 14-1.

* Magic Johnson spoke with, reflecting on his HIV diagnosis 17 years ago to commemorate World AIDS day.

* This is why the stupidity opf of Stephon Marbury's tenure with the Knicks must end. Now he's ripping his teammates for not supporting him when coach Mike D'Antoni banished him. Um, hello? Earth calling Steph, come in Steph ... The reason D'Antoni banished him is that his teammates told the new coach they didn't want to play with him and that he was a central force in the death spiral the Knicks have been in for years. Few people in sports are as tone deaf and clueless as this Marbury. (Hint: One of them plays for a certain New York football team.)

UPDATED 11:59 a.m. EST: Marbury and union attorney Hal Biagas are scheduled to meet with Knicks president Donnie Walsh at 2:30 p.m. today, after NBPA executive director Billy Hunter holds his annual meeting with the team after this morning's practice.


Category: NBA
Posted on: November 30, 2008 6:37 pm

Union ready to back Marbury

The NBA Players Association will wait to see how buyout talks between the Knicks and Stephon Marbury transpire on Monday before proceeding with an appeal of the banished guard's fine and suspension.

"He was not in violation of anything, and therefore they had no right to suspend him," a person familiar with the situation said Sunday.

Union attorney Hal Biagas, who will represent Marbury at the negotiation with Knicks president Donnie Walsh, will contend that Marbury was never ordered to play. That is in contrast to Walsh's assertion that coach Mike D'Antoni was "definite" in his request that Marbury suit up for this past Wednesday night's game in Detroit. Marbury declined, Walsh said, and the Knicks suspended him one game without pay and also fined him a game check for refusing to play Nov. 21 at Milwaukee.

The fine and suspension money, totaling almost $400,000, is likely to become part of the buyout discussions. More to the point is the Knicks' unwillingness to agree to Marbury's request to accept $1 million less than the balance owed on his $21.9 million contract for this season. Marbury will have already received about $3.6 million when his second paycheck of the season is deposited Monday. 

It has been unclear whether Walsh or Garden chairman James Dolan has been standing in the way of a buyout that would allow Marbury to continue his career and rid the Knicks of a distraction that is crippling Walsh's new regime. But the person familiar with the negotiations said it's been a combination of both.

"Dolan doesn't want to do a buyout," the person said. "He bought out Larry Brown, he bought out Isiah [Thomas], he got hit with the [sexual harassment] lawsuit. Donnie, being there a short time, I think hasn't been inclined to ask Dolan to do a buyout. That's the crux of the matter. That's the issue."

(Dolan didn't buy out Thomas, but allowed him to remain employed in an undefined advisory role after he was replaced as coach and president at the end of last season.)

Walsh was vague on Dolan's role in the crisis when quesitoned about it Saturday night, saying he expected Dolan to agree to whatever he recommended barring anything "ridiculous."

Although Marbury has stalled the process by not employing an agent to find him a team willing to sign him, the person with knowledge of the negotiations said that won't be an issue.

"He'll get a deal. Trust me," the person said. "Teams are lining up."

Among the teams that could be willing to take a chance on Marbury are Miami, Dallas, Boston, and San Antonio, according to a person with ties to Marbury. While the even-keel Spurs would seem like a longshot, remember that coach Gregg Popovich praised Marbury for his performance on the 2004 Olympic team and served as a mediator in the ugly feud between Marbury and Brown in Athens. The Knicks would like to stipulate in Marbury's buyout agreement that he cannot sign with a division or conference rival. But the controversy has spiraled so badly that Walsh may have lost his bargaining power on that point.


Category: NBA
Posted on: November 29, 2008 10:04 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2008 10:21 pm

Nelson: Warriors not making playoffs this year

The Warriors won 48 games last season and didn't make the playoffs. Coach Don Nelson already has conceded that the playoffs aren't happening this year, either.

"It's a situation where we have a year where we're probably not going to be a playoff team," Nelson said Saturday night before Golden State played the Knicks. "And we're going to build for the future and see who we want to carry along with us for the next, hopefully, number of good years. But this probably won't be one of them."

The Warriors' descent has been swift and painful. Baron Davis left to sign with the Clippers, and Monta Ellis' offseason moped accident -- on the heels of his six-year, $66 million extension – left Nelson without a point guard.

"Monta's injury was a real kick in the teeth," Nelson said.

The Warriors and Knicks, who swapped Al Harrington for Jamal Crawford last week, aren't too entertaining by themselves. Put them together, and you've got something. The Knicks beat Golden State, 138-125, on Saturday night. Chris Duhon -- who replaced the banished Stephon Marbury as the Knicks' starting point guard this season -- set a franchise record with 22 assists to go with his 12 points. David Lee had a career-high 37 points and 21 rebounds.

Corey Maggette had 32 points and 12 rebounds for Golden State, which as Nellie said, is going nowhere fast but down.

Last month, Nelson, 68, got a two-year extension added to his contract for this season.  Warriors general manager Chris Mullin, whose contract expires June 30, did not get an extension. Mullin said this past week there have been no discussions about extending his deal.

"I think part of the reason I got an extension this year is that ownership knows that it's not going to be the best year this year, and they want me to feel free to do what's best for the franchise without worrying too much about winning a couple of extra games," Nelson said.

Attention tanking police, please pick up the white courtesy phone.

"We want to win, there's no question," Nelson said. "We want to play the right way. But we realize that there's probably not going to be a lot of wins this year.

"I'm 68 years old and been at it a long time," Nelson said. "And I'm going to say it the way it is if I can. And that's the way it is."

While Nelson presumably will be around to see the rebuilding through, it's not clear who will be joining him. Team president Robert Rowell has been calling the shots, including his contention that the team should be able to see how effectively Ellis returns from his ankle injury before deciding whether to void his contract. Rowell suspended Ellis for 30 games without pay for telling the team it was a basketball-related injury – going against the wishes of Mullin and Nelson.

Mullin was further alienated when his top assistant, Pete D'Alessandro, was fired earlier this month.

"I'm rooting for him," Nelson said of Mullin. "I hope everything works out, but I'm not in charge."

Asked who will be in charge for the long term, Nelson said, "That's kind of what we're determining now."

Category: NBA
Posted on: November 29, 2008 8:18 pm

Walsh, Marbury will talk buyout Monday

Saying the team's impasse with Stephon Marbury has "spiraled down," Knicks president Donnie Walsh said he will meet with the suspended point guard and his legal representative with the hopes of finally ending the ugly chapter with a buyout agreement.

The meeting, tentatively scheduled for Monday, could put an end to a circus-like distraction that Walsh admitted as dragged down "everybody in the franchise. I mean, we're here talking about Stephon Marbury. I came here to talk about basketball. And we've been doing it for a while now."

Before the Knicks played the Warriors Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, Walsh gave the most detailed account yet of Marbury's actions leading to his suspension and docked pay totaling almost $400,000.

Before a Nov. 21 game in Milwaukee, coach Mike D'Antoni asked Marbury if he wanted to play significant minutes that night after being buried on the bench all season.

"Stephon said, 'Maybe you should keep going in the same direction you're going in,'" Walsh said.

Before Wednesday night's game at Detroit, Walsh said D'Antoni was "far more definite: 'I want you to play tonight.' And Stephon said he wasn't going to play."

Walsh refuted Marbury's account in published report that he never flatly said no and that his jersey was not hanging in his locker before the Detroit game.

"Well, I can cut that short by saying that the way it was presented to me was, Mike definitely asked him to play that night [in Detroit]," Walsh said. "And he said he didn't want to play. And I believe Mike, that he didn't want to play. That's why I did what I did. I'd be shocked if his uniform wasn't there. And he didn't play. If he wanted to play, he could've said, 'Give me my uniform.' But I don't want to get into all that because I wasn't there, don't know. I just know the way it was put to me. I took it that Mike asked him to play and he didn't want to play. I think that's a player's responsibility to do that."

Walsh, in his first season running the Knicks after two decades of tranquility with the Pacers, spent much of his Thanksgiving holiday back in Indiana immersed in the Marbury circus. He consulted with attorneys from the league and the team before deciding to suspend Marbury for one game without pay and fine him a game check for refusing to play in Milwaukee.

Walsh said he has full authority from Garden chairman James Dolan to dispense with Marbury how he sees fit. Marbury is owed $21.9 million for this season, less the $400,000.

"It's my responsibility," Walsh said. "Obviously he's the owner, so he can say yes or no. So far that's the way our relationship has been. I call him up and say, 'This is the situation, this is how I want to deal with it.' And so far he's said, 'OK, do what you think is best.' ... Unless it's something ridiculous, I think he would say, 'Do what you think is best.'"

Asked to define ridiculous -- $15 million? $18 million? -- Walsh said, "I don't know. You're asking me hypoetheticals. I don't know how to answer them. ... I call him up, make recommendations, and so far he's said, 'Do what you think is best.' So therefore, I guess you could say there hasn't been ridiculous."

The whole situation is ridiculous, and Walsh finally acknowledged that he and D'Antoni may have underestimated the turmoil Marbury was capable of creating.

"Mike and I went into this with good intentions, that it could work out," Walsh said. "And there were times when I thought it would and then lately there's times when I'm not sure it can. It spiraled down and it's a different situation than I think we both felt when we started preseason."

Banished from the Garden on Saturday night, Marbury is not expected back Tuesday when the Knicks play Portland. The team plans to keep him away until a buyout agreement is reached. Though Walsh said he hoped to resolve the matter Monday, it is complicated by the fact that Marbury does not have an agent fielding offers from other teams. An outside offer would simplify the buyout math for Walsh and Marbury's representative from the NBA Players Association, Hal Biagas. The union is contesting the $400,000 in fines and docked pay, but that amount is likely to become part of the buyout negotiation.

Walsh, whose tenure has been poisoned by Marbury's clash with D'Antoni, wants to end this quickly. The longer it drags on, the more energy it sucks out of an already exhausted organization -- and the more chances Marbury has to fight his battle in the media. Walsh said he would not re-invoke the team's previous media policy forbidding personnel from speaking with reporters without a public relations official present. Former coach Larry Brown's violation of the policy was used as fuel in the Garden's contentious dispute over paying the rest of Brown's contract when the Knicks fired him after one 23-win season.

"As you know, I haven't had that kind of media policy here," Walsh said. "I do think that implicit in every professional NBA situation, you've got to be professional when you speak to the press. But I'm not going to tell the guy what he should say and how he should say it."

Category: NBA
Posted on: November 29, 2008 12:43 pm

Barkley's right

After spending my first week on the job writing about LeBron lusting after the Knicks and Stephon Marbury drama, I don't think it's necessary for me to add a whole lot to Charles Barkley's comments.

I'm sick of LeBron-in-2010 and even sicker of Marbury. But just for the record, if I had to take sides in this LeBron-Barkley spat, I'd have to say Charles is right.

Mind you, there is nothing wrong with LeBron playing the game, pumping up his value, and getting everybody talking about him. That's part of the deal, because basketball is more than a game. It's business.

But I agree with Charles. LeBron's ceaseless ruminations on free agency -- which doesn't happen for another year and a half -- is getting to be a bit much. And it's becoming very transparent.

I don't buy the fact that LeBron is an innocent victim and is simply answering the questions thrown his way. He could have shut this whole thing down months ago by saying he's not talking about it anymore.

But he didn't. He continues to talk about it because it benefits him, and because he seems to enjoy talking about it.

So he got called out by Charles, and he doesn't like it. I think it's about time someone called him on this.

P.S. Charles is often calling out current players for doing things that he used to do all the time or for not doing things he never did. So his comments have to be taken with a grain of salt. Maybe LeBron shouldn't have taken him so seriously and shouldn't have given credence to Barkley's comments by responding.
Category: NBA
Posted on: November 28, 2008 5:20 pm

D'Antoni 'done' with Marbury mess

Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni washed his hands of the Stephon Marbury mess Friday, saying the matter is in the hands of team president Donnie Walsh.

"I don't want to get into that," D'Antoni said after practice, when asked if he'd ordered or asked Marbury to play Wednesday night in Detroit. "I think I already told you I asked him to play. We just asked. You know, you're a coach, and we needed him to play, so I don't really have a whole lot to say. ... I've already said the piece, and what I've said from my viewpoint is how it happened. We'll just leave it at that. Like I said, it'll work out through the weekend, but I'm done. Management's up, and they'll have to work it out."

Marbury was suspended for one game and docked the accompanying $199,000 game check for refusing to play Wednesday night for the second time in six days. He also was fined another game check for refusing to play last Friday in Milwaukee. He will be kept away from the team until his permanent removal from the roster is achieved.

D'Antoni admitted there was a reason Marbury was suspended for Wednesday night's transgression and fined for Friday's, but declined to get into details. A person familiar with the situation told that Marbury refused a one-time offer from D'Antoni to play in the Milwaukee game, but turned down a more permanent offer to become the starting shooting guard on Wednesday.

D'Antoni wouldn't go so far as to say he'd ordered Marbury to play, but said he couldn't have someone on the floor who didn't want to be there.

"You ever coached?" D'Antoni said. "You want guys that really want to play; come on. You want 10 guys out of the 15 guys who dress ready to go, pointed in the same direction, and everybody playing hard. That's what you strive for."





Category: NBA
Posted on: November 28, 2008 10:17 am
Edited on: November 28, 2008 11:46 am

Marbury Suspended (UPDATE)

The Knicks have suspended Stephon Marbury without pay for one game after he refused to play for the second time in six days Wednesday night in Detroit.

"A player's central obligation is to provide his professional services when called upon," Knicks president Donnie Walsh said in a statement released by the team. "Because he refused the coach's request  to play in the team's last game, we had no choice but to impose disciplinary action."

This Knicks will practice this morning at their Westchester County training facility without Marbury, and a person familiar with the situation has told that his absence will be permanent. The one-game suspension -- which will cost Marbury $199,091 -- will give Walsh and Marbury's representatives time to negotiate his permanent removal from the team.

UPDATED 11:47 a.m. EST: In addition, the Knicks have clarified that Marbury actually will lose two games' pay -- or almost $400,000. Besides the one-game suspension without pay for refusing to play at Detroit on Wednesday night, Marbury also has been fined another game check for refusing to play last Friday at Milwaukee.

This nonsense has reached the end. For one thing, it is no longer only coach Mike D'Antoni confronting Marbury. Knicks players, led by Quentin Richardson, scorched him in the New York media after his refusal to play in Detroit. And now Walsh, a deliberative, fair, and patient man who also happens to be a lawyer, is on board.

Clearly, Marbury knows his run with the Knicks is over. He broke his relative silence in an exclusive interview with a New York Post reporter whose coverage has been favorable to the Coney Island native. In an article published today, Marbury said of D'Antoni, "I wouldn't trust him to walk my dog across the street."

Guess that means the game is on -- and over, at the same time.



Category: NBA
Posted on: November 27, 2008 7:08 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2008 10:51 pm

Knicks done with Marbury (UPDATE)

The Knicks have decided that Stephon Marbury will no longer be with the team starting Friday, a person familiar with the situation told It has not been decided whether Marbury will be suspended without pay or simply told to stay home until the situation is resolved. The NBA Players Association, which is representing Marbury in his buyout talks, did not respond to a request for a comment.

UPDATED 10:52 pm. EST: Though the resolution puts a symbolic end to Marbury's disappointing, and in the end, embarrassing run with the Knicks, logistical and legal hurdles remain. At issue will be whether Marbury's recent communication with Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni constituted insubordination -- and more importantly, a contractual breach.

Asked if Marbury and his legal representatives agreed to his banishment -- either by suspension or unofficial dismissal -- the person familiar with the negotations said, "He doesn't have a say. ... He won't be back, starting Friday."

Besides the legal and financial details of Marbury's eventual release, all that is left to be decided is what team would be willing to take a chance on Marbury's talent -- he still has something left and is in great shape for someone who hasn't played a game this season -- while also being able to absorb his weirdness. Miami, Dallas, and Golden State (remember Stephen Jackson guaranteeing the Warriors would sign Marbury if the Knicks released him?) are three teams that have expressed some level of interest. Another one seldom mentioned is the Celtics, who could be willing to take a chance, a person with ties to Marbury said Thursday. The roster spot could come from a Marbury suppporter, 39-year-old Sam Cassell, a key reserve during the Celtics' championship run last season who does not have a guaranteed contract. Cassell hasn't played yet this season and is being kept around in a mentoring role.



Category: NBA
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