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Posted on: February 19, 2012 6:54 pm
 

Cuban would support Seattle return

NEW YORK -- Mark Cuban always holds court with the media when his Mavericks make their annual visit to Madison Square Garden. On Sunday, he said he'd support Seattle's efforts to return to the NBA.

"As long as it’s not an expansion team, yes," Cuban said. "... I voted against the move because I thought it was wrong to leave Seattle. I’d be all for a team going back to Seattle. But it would have to be a team that moves. I’d be against any type of expansion."

Plans for a $490 million arena aimed at attracting an NBA and NHL team to Seattle were unveiled this week, with a $290 million commitment from investors led by Seattle native and hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen. The balance of the funds would come from tax revenues generated by the building and rent paid by the teams, according to the plan.

But with the NBA already in a state of overexpansion, the irony for Seattle is that its path back to the NBA would have to entail doing what Oklahoma City did to Seattle in 2008: luring a team from somewhere else. The likely suspects are Sacramento and New Orleans, where both NBA teams are facing uncertain arena situations.

"Teams go in cycles," Cuban said. "When you're at the top of the cycle, like Sacramento when they were winning, they were selling out every game and it was one of the hardest places to play. But it’s really how the market supports the team when you suck."

A vote by the Sacramento City Council is expected by the end of the month on a funding plan for a new downtown arena for the Kings. Sources say the NBA has narrowed its list of potential buyers for the league-owned Hornets to a handful of groups -- possibly two -- that would keep the team in Louisiana. The announcement of a purchase agreement could come soon after All-Star weekend, pending the resolution of talks between the league, Gov. Bobby Jindal's office and the Louisiana legislature on a new arena lease.

"We continue to work with the Hornets to reach a long-term leasing agreement," Frank Collins, Jindal's press secretary, said in a statement provided to CBSSports.com.

Cuban also weighed in on the new collective bargaining agreement, which he helped negotiate as a member of the owners' labor relations committee. Asked when it will be known whether the owners got a good deal or a bad deal, Cuban said, "We'll find out over the next three or four years. We’ll see what happens when we have a chance to opt out of it in six years.

Asked what criteria should be used to evaluate the new CBA, Cuban said, "Are all the teams making money? ... If all the teams have a chance to compete, then you have a better chance of making money. If you have a better chance of retaining your star players, you have a better chance of making money. So they all go hand in hand."
Posted on: February 17, 2012 11:56 pm
 

For Knicks, ideal ending to Linsanity

NEW YORK -- Linsanity was going to end some time. For the Knicks, this was the ideal script.

After seven straight wins over nearly two weeks, fueled by outlandish statistical production, a 38-point performance against the Lakers, a Hollywood buzzer-beater in Toronto and a team-wide revival of chemistry and good times, there had to be an ending. A return to normalcy.

A loss.

All of those things arrived Friday night for Lin and the Knicks, who lost to the previously six-win New Orleans Hornets 89-85. Lin provided glimpses of his lead-guard artistry, but also coughed up nine turnovers to go with his 26 points and five assists. The Knicks committed 21 turnovers resulting in 28 points, shot 4-for-24 from 3-point range and 19-for-29 from the foul line and trailed by as many as 14 points and held the opponent under 20 points.

So why is his good, that only one game after climbing all the way back to .500 after being 8-15 when Lin first got significant floor time on Feb. 4 against the Nets?

Because Carmelo Anthony, in all likelihood, returns Sunday afternoon at home against the Mavericks. And thus, the end of this magical ride with the undrafted, Asian-American point guard from Harvard can't be his fault.

"I don't think this is good because I hate losing," Lin said. "But I know what you're saying in terms of everything dying down a little bit. It may help me, it may help the team a little bit in terms of having everything off the court cool down."

Lin blamed himself for the loss, saying, "If everyone wants to credit me for the last seven games, then I definitely deserve this one on my shoulders. That's fine with me. ... Just a lackluster effort on my part. Nine turnovers is obviously not going to get it done from your primary ballhandler."

The teammate who will need broad shoulders once he's back was the guy warming up hours earlier before the game on the Madison Square Garden court, testing his strained groin and launching jumpers with his iPod playing in his ears. Anthony, who will try to practice Saturday with the goal of returning to the lineup Sunday, has heard day after day of pre-emptive criticism that his ball-stopping, isolation-oriented offensive style would derail the chemistry Lin has inspired and bog down the Knicks' offense.

So maybe it will be prudent to allow Anthony to actually come back and play with his new point guard before deciding that it can't work.

"I don't think it'll change from my standpoint, my approach to the game," Lin said. "I think I'm going to come in with the same mentality, to attack and be aggressive, maybe run (fewer) pick-and-rolls and hopefully be more efficient. Obviously, it's always a good thing when you have more weapons, more play-makers -- not that we don't have enough right now. But somebody with Melo's capabilities, you don't get that every day from anybody."

Also coming on board soon will be newly signed shooting guard J.R. Smith, who is expected to arrive in New York Saturday night -- though he's unlikely to play Sunday without having practiced with the team. Smith brings some baggage with him, but presumably he will put it down long enough to knock down 3-pointers in bunches, something the Knicks could not do Friday night.

Before all the changes and adjustments that will come with them, the end of Linsanity -- or at least, the return to normalcy -- is out of the way. And for the Knicks, that might just be for the best. 
Posted on: February 14, 2012 10:38 pm
 

Lin uses his jumper, just like he was coached

Long before Linsanity took off, Jeremy Lin was alone with his trainer in a 24-Hour Fitness in Pleasanton, Calif. He was working on a lot of things -- balance, upper-body strength to absorb contact and still finish the play, and most impressively, his jump shot.

"I'd like to see him use that jumper a little more," his personal trainer, E.J. Costello, was saying on the phone earlier Tuesday. "He can drive to the hoop and kick, but he’s got a good jumper and I’d like to see him use it."

Costello, who spent a couple of hours a day with Lin, four days a week from May through September in the Bay Area during the lockout, got his wish Tuesday night.

Despite eight turnovers from Lin, despite trailing by as many as 17 points, the Knicks and their fearless point-guard savior would not go away. Lin took the advice of his strength coach on the final possession in Toronto, confidently stepping into a game-winning 3-point shot with 0.5 seconds left to give the Knicks their sixth straight victory, 90-87 over the Raptors.

"It was a good shot for me," Lin said.

The way things are going for him now -- 5-0 as a starter, and 6-0 if you count his 27-point debut off the bench 10 days ago against the Nets -- any shot is a good shot. Nearly every play results in the right decision.

Not always the best result, but almost always. And nobody is quibbling with the historic results.

"I'm just glad it went like this so we can calm the Linsanity down a little bit," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters in Toronto, his postgame comments beamed back to New York on the Madison Square Garden Networks.

"He held it til five-tenths of a second left," D'Antoni said. "He was confident that shot was going in, no rebound or nothing. That thing was getting buried."

Yes it was, just like the hundreds of jumpers a day Lin was taking in the gym with Costello during the lockout.

"He’s money when it comes to shooting," Costello said. "And he just has to carry that onto the court."

After leading the Knicks to victories in his first four starts, being named Eastern Conference player of the week and becoming the first player in NBA history to total at least 20 points and seven assists in his first four starts, Lin did it again Tuesday night. He had 27 points (9-for-20 shooting), 11 assists and yes, eight turnovers. He was torched defensively by Jose Calderon and Leandro Barbosa at times in the game, and later said, "That's on me."

He passed one test, getting superstar Amar'e Stoudemire back Tuesday night and still winning despite an off-night from Stoudemire -- understandable, considering his absence due to the loss of his brother. Carmelo Anthony, the other star whose game may or may not fit with the way the Knicks are playing under Lin's leadership, will be back later in the week.

Of teammate Iman Shumpert, who slowed Calderon down in the fourth and made Lin's game-winner possible when he stole the ball from Calderon and drove for a run-out dunk that cut the Raptors' lead to 87-84 with 1:28 left, Lin said, "He just bailed me out tonight."

The way Lin has bailed the Knicks out of what had been a dismal season that saw them lose 11 of 13 on their way to an 8-15 record before Linsanity began. The Knicks (14-15) can climb back to .500 Wednesday night in New York against the Kings as they start a five-game homestand that promises to be the most electrifying in at least a decade.

"I don't know when there's an ending," D'Antoni said. "Maybe there won't [be]."

As the basketball world tries to digest and comprehend Lin's improbably sudden rise to stardom, you could see Tuesday night two of the key aspects of his game that he worked so hard on during the summer and early fall. After Shumpert's steal and dunk, Lin drove the lane, absorbed contact and converted the basket and three-point play to tie the score at 87-87 with 1:05 left. As Costello has watched from afar as Lin has made plays like this during the six-game winning streak, he couldn't help but think back to those long days at the gym when they worked so hard to make him strong enough to absorb contact and finish plays.

"He uses his body really well," Costello said. "His upper body has gotten so much better and stronger, and his ability to control his body really speaks to what we did in the offseason. We killed his upper body. You can see a massive bruise on his right arm, and I talked to him and he said, 'My body is beat up right now.' But as he gets in shape, he’s only going to get better."

Better?

OK. Who's going to dispute that now?

In the postgame news conference, Lin was asked, "Can you believe this is happening to you?"

"No," he said. "But I believe in an all-powerful and all-knowing God who does miracles."


Posted on: February 14, 2012 5:48 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 6:32 pm
 

How the Knicks can keep Lin

On the phone with a basketball executive Tuesday to go over the mechanics of how the Knicks could keep Jeremy Lin beyond this season, the notion of how surreal the conversation was came up more than once.

But in answer to your question, Knicks fans: Yes, if Lin continues to perform at anything close to the level he's displayed so far, New York will have the means and the inclination to retain him for next year -- and most likely, beyond.

Here's the deal: By virtue of the Golden State Warriors signing Lin to a two-year contract before waiving him in December, Lin becomes a restricted free agent after this season. Under typical circumstances, Lin would be eligible to receive a qualifying offer from the Knicks worth approximately $1.1 million.

These, obviously, are not typical circumstances. Several factors are at play, including a new provision in the collective bargaining agreement that allows players who achieve certain playing-time benchmarks (dealing with games started and minutes) to be eligible for a higher qualifying offer. In Lin's case, the maximum qualifying offer he could get under these new rules would be about $2.7 million -- the equivalent offer for the 21st pick in the 2008 draft.

Given Lin's absurd level of production so far, chances are this provision won't matter. Even if Lin's productivity drops off, as is widely expected, he's still shown enough to warrant multi-year offer sheets from rival teams.

"He's had five games that LeBron James would be jealous of," one NBA general manager told me Tuesday. "So he's outplaying his time in the D-League right now. It’s happened, but it’s pretty rare for a guy to play better in the pros than in the minor leagues. It's also rare for someone who's had a five-game stretch like this not to turn out to be an All Star."

Even if Lin settles somewhere in between All-Star and rotation player, the Knicks can expect the offer sheets to roll in. But due to the so-called Gilbert Arenas rule -- instituted in the 2005 CBA to prevent teams from being outbid for their own restricted free agents with two or fewer years in the league -- the Knicks will be insulated from such potential poachers.

The maximum that another team could offer in the first year of a multi-year offer sheet will be the non-taxpayer mid-level exception of $5 million. The second year of the offer sheet would be subject to the 4.5 percent raise for non-Bird free agents. After that, the offer sheets can be back-loaded up to the max -- 25 percent of the cap -- but the Knicks would be able to match under league salary rules. In any event, it likely will cost them their mid-level exception for next season.

The Knicks could use up to their full mid-level ($5 million) to match any rival offers. Under the new rules with different mid-level thresholds for tax-payers, non-tax payers and teams with room, the Knicks would not, under the new rules, be able to exceed the cap to sign another free agent and then use the full mid-level to retain Lin. In that case, they'd be relegated to the room exception ($2.5 million).

So basically, Lin, who was in danger of getting waived again before he unleashed this five-game tirade in conjunction with his non-guaranteed contract (worth a lockout-prorated $613,474 this season) becoming guaranteed, has a big pay day ahead of him. And the Knicks need not worry about him finding a new team for the foreseeable future.

And Lin, who was sleeping on his brother's couch on the Lower East Side of Manhattan when all of this took off, will be able to afford all the couches he wants. Not to mention an apartment of his own.
Posted on: February 10, 2012 8:33 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 9:17 pm
 

Metta to Lin: Get some swag

NEW YORK -- Leave it to Metta World Peace, the Artest formerly known as Ron, to weigh in on the Jeremy Lin phenomenon in ways that make you laugh, scratch your head and wonder if the world is about to end.

World Peace and Linsanity colliding at Madison Square Garden may simply be too much for the atmosphere to handle.

I never do this, because rarely are all the quotes worth your time. But A) I want to watch the game, and B) all the quotes are amazing, bizarre and will make for enjoyable reading during timeouts. But only during timeouts, as the Knicks' Linsation has nine of their first 13 points as New York leads the Lakers 13-4 as I type this in the first quarter.

Here ya go. Pay special attention to Artest's -- I mean, World Peace's -- fashion advice toward the end, when he suggests a new haircut and shades and says, "You're Jeremy Lin, for godsakes."

Q: Your impressions of Lin.

A: I was like, 'Wow, he had 25 in one game and everybody was going crazy.' New York media, you know? And then it happened two more times and I was like, 'Oh, yeah, it’s good. It’s good.' … Looking from the outside in, everybody’s pretty happy for him. It’s good to see something special for the first time. It’s kind of like when Yao came in and when Toni Kukoc came and everybody was talking about how he was Michael Jordan overseas. It’s good to see something for the first time. And he’s doing it without his two star players.

Q: Who were the Knicks' point guards when you started watching them?

A: (Charlie) Ward, (Derek) Harper, those old rugged guys, real basketball. This is like play-play basketball now. I miss the Harpers. They put that forearm on you and you can’t go nowhere. That’s New York City. That’s hard-nose. I miss that. I miss that. You can’t do that with these soft, cotton candy players. They cry all the time. Babies. Cotton candy.

Q: How good can he be?

A: He still has to play some New York City street ball to break himself in. He has to like go to Hunter College and Rucker and Kingdome and then he would be a real New York City insanity, or whatever you said.

Q: What do you think about all the attention he's getting on Twitter?

A: I think it’s good because it’s a first. It’s the first time. It’s just not normal to see an Asian-American in the NBA, and he’s the first. (Actually, he's the fourth. But who's counting.) And it’s great because Asian-Americans play a whole lot of basketball throughout America. You see it all the time. How many Asian-Americans do you see playing basketball in the street who actually want to play in the NBA? I’m assuming there’s a lot of them. And he did what it takes to play, and he’s a role model. Good in school, he’s a role model all the way around.

Q: What did you know about him before?

A: I know he used to miss layups on the fast break in Golden State. I know he used to turn the ball over at half court. He was trying to find himself. He was the first Asian-American to play (again, the fourth), he must’ve had a lot of pressure on him. He was pretty good. He was athletic. You saw that, but it wasn’t converted to his game. But now he’s playing ball now. He’s showing why he’s a good player. If he had that Ron Artest in his prime defense on him, that would've been a problem. That would've been a major problem. I don’t even think Metta World Peace wants to see that.

Q: Did the Lakers talk about him in the locker room?

A: Do we talk about him? Yeah, we talk about him. We think he needs a better haircut. I don’t like that style. You’re in New York, the fashion capital. Change your haircut, OK? You’re a star now. Wear some shades. Shades, OK? Put down the nerdy Harvard book glasses. Put on some black shades, OK? With some leather pants. Change your style. Fashion.

Q: Do you wear leather pants?

A: No, I won’t wear them, but he should wear leather pants. He’s the type of guy who should wear leather pants, some nice shoes and change his fashion. You’re Jeremy Lin, for godsakes. You know what I’m saying? You know? Put down that law book, stop reading the New York Times and start reading the Daily News. Newsday, that’s the one. I like that one because there’s always color in that one. What else? Wall Street Journal. Get some swag. You’re in New York City. Put your hat to the back, too. Put your hat on backwards. Come to practice with your pants sagging and just tell them, 'I don’t feel like practicing.' Practice? You know? Practice? And wear an Iverson jersey. You know? Come to practice with a cigar. Lit. 'I’m Jeremy Lin.' You know? He should change. We're all excited to play tonight. It’s like the first time for everybody. Everybody’s excited. Kobe’s excited. He wants to get 50. He wants to welcome Jeremy Lin to his new level."

And this concludes this episode of, "I never thought I'd type that and post it online."

Enjoy the game.
Posted on: February 8, 2012 4:29 pm
 

Lakers open to attending Arenas workout

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is awaiting word on details of a workout Gilbert Arenas is planning in Los Angeles later this week and is open-minded about attending, two people with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Wednesday.

Although the Lakers have publicly been noncommittal about whether to pursue the three-time All-Star, Kupchak has nothing to lose by evaluating Arenas as a potential solution to the team's point guard woes. The workout date has not yet been set, but Kupchak is said to be willing to attend depending on timing and logistics.

"The Lakers are going to take a look at him," one of the people familiar with the matter said.

Arenas, 30, was waived by the Magic via the amnesty clause after averaging 8.0 points in 49 games for Orlando last season, including two starts. In a total of 70 games for Orlando and Washington in 2010-11, Arenas averaged 10.8 points -- his first full season since serving a 50-game suspension for bringing guns into the Wizards' locker room in December 2009.

Arenas played only 47 games in the previous three seasons due to an assortment of knee injuries, and there are doubts among NBA executives about whether he has anything left. But the Lakers, with no ball-handling guard who can break down opposing defenses, are seeking a spark anywhere they can find it. The team also has been linked with Cleveland's Ramon Sessions and Houston's Jonny Flynn, though neither situation has progressed.

While the Lakers are on the East Coast, losing in Philadelphia Monday night and playing at Boston Thursday and at New York Friday, Kupchak has stayed in L.A. and would be in position to attend Arenas' workout personally.

 
Posted on: February 5, 2012 12:39 am
 

Jeremy Lin: From teammate's couch to career night

NEW YORK – This was partly about Jeremy Lin and his own personal party at Madison Square Garden Saturday night. It was about Lin, the first NBA player from Harvard in 58 years and only the fourth American-born Asian to play in the league, putting on a show with 25 points, seven assists with the crowd chanting his name.

And then Pearl Jam singing his name over the PA system as thousands stayed in their seats for the on-court TV interview.

He had toiled in the D-League, been tossed aside by the Warriors and Rockets, and wasn’t sure he’d be long for this part of the basketball world, either. How unsure was he? Lin had been crashing at his brother’s place when coming home late from road games, as the Knicks did after a crushing loss in Boston Friday night. But there was no room at the inn – his brother had ample house guests, Lin said – so he slept on teammate Landry Fields’ couch the night before the best game of his life.

“I think I may just go move in with him,” Lin said.

Or get his own place. It’s only one game, but it was precisely the spark the Knicks needed after losing 11 of their previous 13 with an offense predicated on quality point-guard play “grasping at straws” without one, coach Mike D’Antoni said.

“The biggest thing is, he’s got a point guard mentality,” D’Antoni said. “He has a rhyme or reason to what he’s doing and players can kind of play off that. Whereas when you don’t know, you’re just grasping at straws. He gives us a good feel. Again, it’s one game, so let’s not get too excited. But he gives us what we sorely need.”

And this is where the story of Lin having a career night turns into a story that is really about something else. Having a point-guard play the way Lin did Saturday night – attacking and beating pick-and-roll double teams, aggressively getting into the paint and scoring – only underscored how lost the Knicks were without that.

And how lost they will continue to be if they don’t keep getting it.

“We’ve got to make sure we continue to keep the floor spaced and move the ball,” said Amar’e Stoudemire, limited to 17 points and in foul trouble in the Knicks’ third game in as many nights. “We’ve got to continue to do that consistently. We can’t do it one game and then the next game go back to what we’ve been trying not to do.”

Stoudemire was a factor only sporadically due to foul trouble and the grueling stretch of games. Carmelo Anthony was 3-for-15 for 11 points. In the Knicks’ third consecutive game against the kind of elite point guard they lack – Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams – somehow Lin was the best player on the floor. If you’d told Stoudemire before the game that Lin would’ve had almost as many points as Stoudemire and Anthony combined Saturday night, “I would’ve woken up from a bad dream,” he said.

Was it a fluke that Lin made 13 of 19 from the field – jumpers, floaters, reverse layups – on his dream night? Yeah, that’s not going to happen again. But the way Lin directed the Knicks’ directionless offense? The way he gave it purpose and an actual method of attack? Having seen him a time or two in the D-League, where he was the best player on the floor of every game I’ve seen in person, Lin can do that.

But the fact that D’Antoni already said he was thinking seriously about starting Lin Monday night against the Jazz? That speaks more to the Knicks’ state of desperation than anything else. They’re going nowhere without a point guard to run the offense, and who knows when Baron Davis is going to be ready. And when he’s ready, who knows how much of Baron Davis is going to show up.

So for now, for this snapshot in time, the Knicks have a point guard. Dare I say it was the best a point guard has played for D’Antoni since a gentleman named Steve Nash was doing stuff like this every night for him. So Jeremy Lin saved the Knicks from their 12th loss in 14 games, saved D’Antoni from another day of speculation that he’ll be fired, and generally just took a tense, desperate situation and let everyone breathe a little.

“I’m just thankful to be here right now for this team,” Lin said.

Believe me, the team feels the same way.
Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:23 pm
 

Melo, Pistons get Knicks back on track

NEW YORK -- Something changed for the Knicks Tuesday night. The ball moved. The players moved. The Knicks got good, open shots and made them. Sixty percent of them, to be exact.

What changed? Carmelo Anthony returned from a two-game absence to rest his ankle and wrist, and found his shooting stroke -- and his passing instincts.

What else? The Knicks were playing the Pistons.

The Knicks ended a three-game losing streak and a stretch in which they'd lost nine of 10 with an ego-boosting, problem-solving 113-86 victory over the Pistons.

"I got my pop back and I felt pretty good for the most part," Anthony said.

"We know the system works," said Amar'e Stoudemire, who had 15 points. "We just need to keep playing the way we did tonight and we will be fine."

But is it over? Are the problems gone? Hardly. New York begins a stretch of three games in three nights Thursday night at home against the Bulls, then goes to Boston and back home to face New Jersey. Even after a 25-point performance in which he made 9 of 14 shots from the field and also dished out six assists, Anthony didn't want to think about the upcoming back-to-back-to-back.

"It's the schedule," he said at his locker afterward. "We have to play it. It is what it is. ... I'm not sure, so we'll see. Right now sitting here talking to you guys, I feel fine. Tomorrow may be a different story."

With two days off since their most recent loss in Houston, the Knicks got to load up on two rare commodities in this lockout-compressed sprint of a regular season: rest and practice.

"That really helped us," Tyson Chandler said.

So did the Pistons, who allowed their opponent to shoot more than 50 percent from the field for the fourth time during their current six-game losing streak. The Knicks shot 42-for-70 including 9-for-18 from 3-point range. The Pistons (4-19) have allowed their opponents to shoot 52 percent on 3-pointers (50-97) during the losing streak.

"It's embarrassing for all of us when teams can shoot what they've been shooting over the past five or six games," coach Lawrence Frank said.

Sometimes, one team's embarrassment is another team's elixir.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com