Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:George Karl
Posted on: March 8, 2011 5:10 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 5:55 pm
 

Karl, Nuggets agree to three-year extension

After successfully navigating one crisis by getting good value for superstar Carmelo Anthony, the Denver Nuggets averted another one Tuesday when they agreed with coach George Karl on a three-year contract extension that could last as long as six years.

The deal has team options for the fourth, fifth, and sixth years, said Karl's attorney, Bret Adams -- a huge commitment from the Nuggets at a time when coaches have so little job security.

"I think with this team, they just have great confidence that this is a team that's coachable and there's not a more experienced or better coach to do it than George," Adams said. "They stuck with him last year with the cancer, and to take it the next step with this long-term commitment, I don’t think George could be any happier with his future. He wanted to be there, they wanted him there, and with this team it's a whole new re-energized George after the trade."

Contract talks ground to a halt during the months-long process in which Nuggets executives Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke were negotiating a trade that eventually sent Anthony to New York on Feb. 20. Once that complicated deal was complete, it didn't take long for contract talks with Karl -- the Nuggets' coach since 2004 -- to Heat up again.

"There was a whole lot of frustration with George having to coach a guy who didn’t want to be there," Adams said. "Only Masai and Josh knew how difficult it was to coach that team in those circumstances. It was difficult, and he kept them winning. To do that under those circumstances was pretty remarkable."

Karl, 59, has won at least 50 games for three straight years and led the Nuggets to the 2009 Western Conference finals against the Lakers. This season, he has dealt with his own personal battle against throat and neck cancer and kept the Nuggets alive in the playoff race despite months of speculation over Anthony's trade destination. The Nuggets are 5-2 since trading their franchise player to the Knicks along with Chauncey Billups for Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, and draft picks. Denver (37-27) currently is fifth in the Western Conference playoff race.

“I’ve always said Denver is the place I want to end my career,” Karl said. “This puts me one step closer to achieving that goal. Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke were very professional throughout these negotiations. The Kroenkes have been great throughout this entire process. They’ve been very supportive of me as a coach and during my battle with cancer. I’m excited for the remainder of the season and look forward to making another playoff run.”

Close friends say Karl is energized by the trade, both for the obvious reason of removing the daily distractions of trade speculation and because he's excited about coaching a new group of players. A coach's coach, Karl thrives on the teaching and team-building that comes with the job far more than he thrives on the accolades.

"Getting the Melo trade done and getting George's fairly complicated contract done because of the health issues is a testament to the future of the Nuggets," Adams said. "They've really given real confidence to the fans in Denver as to the direction of this team. They hit two home runs."

Karl, who underwent months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments that spanned from last season through the summer, received another clean bill of health from doctors Tuesday, Adams said. Karl's health issues "had to be addressed" in the contract, and Adams said the Nuggets addressed them "very fairly."

"Extending George’s contract has been one of our top priorities,” said Ujiri, the Nuggets' vice president of basketball operations. “He’s done a tremendous job since arriving in Denver, and particularly with the unique challenges of this season. With George on the bench, we have a bright future and everyone here is focused on finishing the season strong.”

For more on this story, check out our Eye on Basketball blog.
 
Posted on: January 31, 2011 11:37 pm
 

Melo: I'm not afraid to become a free agent

NEWARK, N.J. – On his way in and out of the Prudential Center Monday night, Carmelo Anthony walked past a series of strategically placed renderings of the Nets’ future home in Brooklyn. The imagery only fueled speculation that the Nets aren’t finished pursuing the Nuggets’ three-time All-Star. 

Who knows? Maybe those posters were part of the presentation the Nets never had a chance to make to Anthony, who made his only trip – as a visiting player – to the temporary home that could’ve been his. 

"That was interesting,” Anthony said with a smile after the Nets beat the Nuggets 115-99. “I mean, that was interesting.” 

Anthony’s reaction to the Nets’ Brooklyn mind tricks was about as far as he pushed the story forward when it comes to where he will be finding a long-term home. The closest Anthony came to making news was when he was asked to clarify whether he’s afraid of risking millions by playing out the season in Denver and becoming a free agent under a new collective bargaining agreement. 

“The CBA is in the back of my mind,” Anthony said. “But as far as being afraid to play this out, I’m not. If that’s what it’s going to take, then so be it. I’m with that. I know in the back of my mind what the CBA is up for, what we’re up for dealing with the lockout, things like that. So as long as I know that, my decision will be my decision.” 

Asked if he’d be willing to take the risk of passing on the extension and facing the unknown of post-lockout free agency, Anthony said, “Yeah, I mean whether it’s playing this year out and then going back to the drawing table, sitting down with Denver and trying to figure it out, or whether it’s to move on, I’m with that.” 

So is Nuggets coach George Karl, who said before the game that he continues to believe – as he did in training camp – that the best outcome for all involved is for Anthony to remain in Denver. 

“My job and my thought is that he’s going to be with us,” Karl said. “It is my desire and that would be probably the best thing for us as a basketball team.” 

That outcome, however, is largely in the hands of Denver executives Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke, who were with the team but kept a low profile amid a throng of media here to chronicle Anthony’s visit. Both of them are banking on the qualifier that came next from Anthony, about whether there is a limit to how much money he’s willing to sacrifice to get to the team of his choice. 

“If I sit here and tell you I’m willing to lose $15 or $20 million, then I’d be lying to you,” Anthony said. “But at the same time, this has never been about the money. In my career so far, I think I’ve made enough money. Now I can focus on just trying to win a championship. That’s the only thing that’s on my plate and on my mind right now.” 

Anthony reflected on the news conference held Jan. 19 in which Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov put a very public end to the Nets’ pursuit of Anthony. He reiterated that he would’ve accepted a meeting with the Nets’ brass if Prokhorov hadn’t canceled it, but wouldn’t reveal whether he would’ve agreed to an extension as part of a trade. 

“As far as the extension, if that trade were to go through, who knows what would’ve happened?” Anthony said. “I can’t answer that because it didn’t go through.” 

Nothing has changed for Anthony, who all along has only considered signing a three-year, $65 million extension with the Knicks or Nuggets – though a person familiar with the strategy being employed by his agents at Creative Artists Agency recently told CBSSports.com that CAA has been consistent since the summer in advising the Nuggets that he won’t re-sign with them. As for Anthony himself, he refuted a previously published report that Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire had recently texted him urging him to join forces in New York. 

“I read that, that he supposedly texted me or something like that,” Anthony said. “I didn’t get it. I didn’t get that text.” 

Aside from stating his willingness to play this game of chicken with the Nuggets past the Feb. 24 deadline, perhaps Anthony’s most revealing comment was one that won’t get many headlines. The Nuggets’ executives, particularly Ujiri, who were in constant contact with Anthony throughout the protracted trade talks with the Nets, have been quiet lately. 

“I haven’t really talked to those two guys about anything as of late,” Anthony said. “Prokhorov put an end to it. That’s all I can say about it. When something starts going on, I’m pretty sure Masai and Josh will come to me and let me know what’s going on.” 

All that was going on Monday night, as Anthony walked past those Brooklyn posters one more time with his with his manager, Robert “Bay” Frazier, was that he was heading back to Denver with the Nuggets. Whether he’ll be there three more weeks or three more months is the next plot twist. 

“I have to look at it as a business and we just go from there,” Anthony said. “If we make a business decision together, and that’s for me to stay in Denver, or they say the business decision is to trade you somewhere else, then you’ve got to deal with that.”
Posted on: January 17, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Cancer-free Karl clears another hurdle

SAN ANTONIO – Through all the drama that has unfolded, one innocent but heavily invested bystander has never wavered. George Karl, his mind as sharp as ever and his body getting stronger every day, has been the glue that has so far kept the Denver Nuggets from completely imploding during this never-ending nightmare over Carmelo Anthony’s future. 

While power-brokers work the back channels and Anthony gives increasingly mixed signals about what he wants and when he wants it, Karl has stood alone as the Nuggets’ best hope to emerge on the other side of whatever resolution is coming as a basketball team with a steady, unflinching leader. 

And so as the complicated trade talks continued to unfold pending Anthony’s final answer as to whether he will agree to a contract extension with the Nets, a far more important piece of news went unnoticed. Karl underwent his scheduled CT scan recently, and the news was good. 

“I passed,” Karl told CBSSports.com Sunday night. “I got a good report.” 

It was the second CT scan that came back cancer-free after Karl underwent treatment last season for throat and neck cancer. For Karl, as with all cancer survivors, there will be more hurdles to clear. But this was an important one. 

Far more important than the issues swirling around the team that are making Karl’s job as coach of the Nuggets increasingly difficult by the day. 

“We’ve just got to keep our focus, keep fighting through our drama and hopefully take the last three games and build upon them in a positive way,” Karl said prior to Denver’s three-game winning streak being snapped with a 110-97 loss to the Spurs

Part of Karl’s job has become counseling members of a fragile locker room about where the team is headed with the Anthony saga hanging over it. 

"I’ve had five or 10 minute conversations with about four or five guys,” Karl said. “I’d rather keep that just between us. I think Masai (Ujiri) and Josh (Kroenke) have done a good job with maybe the bigger players. I try to check in with everybody about once a week. I would say right now, somehow we got the funk out after the New Orleans game. We kind of had a coming to Jesus meeting and a little bit of, ‘We get paid to win. We don’t get paid to complain, gripe, and groan. We get paid to win games.’ The hand you’re dealt sometimes isn’t the best hand, but sometimes you can make it work.” 

Spoken like a man with bigger concerns than who’s getting traded or getting a contract extension. As the Anthony drama continues to close in on his locker room, Karl just keeps coaching – and keeps beating the cancer milestones one at a time.
Category: NBA
Posted on: December 16, 2010 11:02 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2010 11:03 pm
 

In the Moment: George Karl

The day after he became the seventh NBA coach to win 1,000 games, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl sat down with CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger to discuss the milestone, Carmelo Anthony’s future, and his fight with cancer. 

When I sat down with George Karl for an interview at the Pepsi Center last month, we both had a good laugh when he said he was doing his best to avoid “stressful situations” as he continues his recovery from throat and neck cancer. As Karl knows all too well, the words “NBA coach” and “stressful situations” are inseparable. 

Since then, Karl has become the seventh member of the NBA’s exclusive 1,000-win club. Heading into the weekend, the Nuggets and Celtics are the only two teams in the NBA with fewer than two home losses (Denver is 11-1 at home). But as he and I predicted back in November when we spoke for this story on his heroic struggle against cancer, Karl is only one whistle, one practice, one meeting away from another one of those stressful situations. 



Watch this interview closely, and you’ll see the source of that stress -- Carmelo Anthony and the uncertainty surrounding his future -- shooting jumpers over Karl’s shoulder as we spoke at the Reebok Sports Club in Manhattan on Dec. 11. 

“There’s so much fluff, there’s so much gossip, there’s so much innuendo to the scenarios,” Karl said of the Melo situation. “I don’t like playing that game or being involved in that arena. The realness of, I think, what’s good for Melo, what’s good for the Nuggets, and what’s good for George Karl is that he stay in Denver. I’ve said that from the very beginning, I still stand by it. Fortunately, we’ve won enough games that I think we’ve kept most of the B.S. out of the game, off the court. As long as, I think, we keep winning, we’re gonna be OK. And I think we’re good enough to keep winning and we have pieces that will get better.” 

Some excerpts from the interview, which airs Friday in the latest edition of CBSSports.com’s “In the Moment” series: 

* On 1,000 wins: “For me, it’s a celebration of a good run -- a great run. I never thought I would get here. I never had it as a goal. My family’s kind of pushed me to get 1,000 wins; they thought that would be a marquee that would be pretty nice to have as a family credo a little bit. But in a sense for me, it’s a celebration of so many good people who have helped me.” 

* On why he’s stayed in the NBA instead of coaching in college: “I love this game. I’ve thought about going to college, but I’ve always felt that I was a pro coach. I don’t know if I have the patience for the fundamental teachings that have to be taught in college.” 

* On his next recovery milestone, a PET scan before Christmas that will determine if he’s cancer-free: “It’ll be a tough couple of days. In general, I feel very healthy. I feel like I’m getting better. I feel like I’m getting stronger. I had the flu like a week ago, and you worry about your immune system. My lymph nodes swelled up because of it, and my lymph nodes is where the cancer was. So you’ve got a lot of nervous stuff going on.” 

* On his prognosis: “It’s a good percentage. But it’s not as good as prostate. It’s not as good as some other cancers. So you always have a little more fear.” 

* On what word best sums up his life: “I still have time to become a better father and a better grandfather. But if I had to give that word today, it’d be coach. … I’m very proud to be a coach. The day I think I became a better coach is when I realized that’s who I was.”
Posted on: December 15, 2010 8:13 am
Edited on: December 15, 2010 8:17 am
 

Karl: World basketball league in 10 years

NBA news has been filled with doom and gloom lately. Lockout rhetoric, decertification votes, the league buying the struggling Hornets, superstars getting traded -- or not. 

Allow me to introduce you to a breath of fresh air and beam of sunlight in the otherwise depraved basketball news cycle: George Karl. 

The day after he became the seventh NBA coach to reach the 1,000-win plateau, the Nuggets’ coach sat down with me after practice in New York City to discuss a variety of topics: Carmelo Anthony’s future, his own cancer fight, and what he’d do if David Stern made him King of the NBA. 

The entire interview can be seen Friday in the latest installment of CBSSports.com’s “In the Moment” series. (Check out last week’s episode with Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews.) In this teaser clip, Karl talks about the growth of basketball internationally and what he’d do to capitalize on it if the commissioner put him in charge. 

Call it the George Karl Plan for World Basketball Unification. 

“International basketball and European basketball and Olympic basketball and NBA basketball, I’d like to unify it,” Karl said. “Does that mean merging a league? I think if that’s a 10-year plan, let’s have a 10-year plan. If that’s a five-year plan, let’s have a five-year plan. I would probably like to make it totally and completely international. Now is that a possibility of adding China and India to that and Australia maybe? I have no idea.” 

Stern has spoken often of globalizing the game, a dream that was advanced immeasurably by the success of the original Dream Team and enhanced by the Redeem Team’s gold-medal performance in Beijing in 2008. In October, Stern reiterated his prediction that the NBA will have a European division within 10 years. Speaking to Miami business leaders, Stern took the opportunity to poke fun at himself; he made the same prediction, oh, about 10 years ago. 

The quest for globalization comes at a delicate time for the NBA, which claims it has lost nearly $400 million in each of the past two seasons and is seeking radical reductions in player salaries and benefits to the tune of $750 million to $800 million a year. Finances are grim in many cities, especially small markets like New Orleans, where it was so bad the league had to step in and buy the team. Key figures on both sides of the labor debate are entrenched for an anticipated work stoppage after this season. When confronted with the fact that the league enjoyed record revenues last season and expects to do the same again this season, Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver counter that revenues aren’t the problem -- expenses are. 

Well, guess how expensive it is to have NBA offices throughout Asia, Europe and Latin America, with plans for offices in Africa and India by 2012? Guess how expensive it is for NBA teams to schlep to Mexico City, Milan and Beijing for meaningless preseason games? Very, very expensive. But as Stern and Silver will gladly tell you, it is necessary to spend money to make money. There is a fine line between keeping the electricity flowing at the league’s Fifth Avenue office tower and investing around the globe to grow the game and capitalize on its international appeal. The NFL is still the king of American sports, but it’s merely a curiosity internationally. When the NBA goes to Latin America or Asia, everyone speaks the same language -- basketball. 

A European division? Lofty goal. A World Basketball League, as Karl proposes? That’s dreaming big. Really big. Even Karl admits he doesn’t have all the answers. 

“Well, I don’t know how you do that,” Karl said. “But that would be someone I would hire to try to figure out what the best plan is, because I think the game is great and it’s been an amazing game. Soccer is still No. 1 in the world, but I still think basketball is growing and progressing. And I actually think the more we make it international, the better it will be.” 

Viewed through the prism of the sport’s current labor stalemate, maybe this can be part of the answer of a long-term financial plan for the NBA. If nothing else, there would be more jobs.
Posted on: December 15, 2010 8:11 am
 

Karl: World basketball league in 10 years

NBA news has been filled with doom and gloom lately. Lockout rhetoric, decertification votes, the league buying the struggling Hornets, superstars getting traded -- or not. 
Allow me to introduce you to a breath of fresh air and beam of sunlight in the otherwise depraved basketball news cycle: George Karl. 
The day after he became the seventh NBA coach to reach the 1,000-win plateau, the Nuggets’ coach sat down with me after practice in New York City to discuss a variety of topics: Carmelo Anthony’s future, his own cancer fight, and what he’d do if David Stern made him King of the NBA. 
The entire interview can be seen Friday in the latest installment of CBSSports.com’s “In the Moment” series. (Check out last week’s episode with Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews.) In this teaser clip, Karl talks about the growth of basketball internationally and what he’d do to capitalize on it if the commissioner put him in charge. 
Call it the George Karl Plan for World Basketball Unification. 
“International basketball and European basketball and Olympic basketball and NBA basketball, I’d like to unify it,” Karl said. “Does that mean merging a league? I think if that’s a 10-year plan, let’s have a 10-year plan. If that’s a five-year plan, let’s have a five-year plan. I would probably like to make it totally and completely international. Now is that a possibility of adding China and India to that and Australia maybe? I have no idea.” 


Stern has spoken often of globalizing the game, a dream that was advanced immeasurably by the success of the original Dream Team and enhanced by the Redeem Team’s gold-medal performance in Beijing in 2008. In October, Stern reiterated his prediction that the NBA will have a European division within 10 years. Speaking to Miami business leaders, Stern took the opportunity to poke fun at himself; he made the same prediction, oh, about 10 years ago. 
The quest for globalization comes at a delicate time for the NBA, which claims it has lost nearly $400 million in each of the past two seasons and is seeking radical reductions in player salaries and benefits to the tune of $750 million to $800 million a year. Finances are grim in many cities, especially small markets like New Orleans, where it was so bad the league had to step in and buy the team. Key figures on both sides of the labor debate are entrenched for an anticipated work stoppage after this season. When confronted with the fact that the league enjoyed record revenues last season and expects to do the same again this season, Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver counter that revenues aren’t the problem -- expenses are. 
Well, guess how expensive it is to have NBA offices throughout Asia, Europe and Latin America, with plans for offices in Africa and India by 2012? Guess how expensive it is for NBA teams to schlep to Mexico City, Milan and Beijing for meaningless preseason games? Very, very expensive. But as Stern and Silver will gladly tell you, it is necessary to spend money to make money. There is a fine line between keeping the electricity flowing at the league’s Fifth Avenue office tower and investing around the globe to grow the game and capitalize on its international appeal. The NFL is still the king of American sports, but it’s merely a curiosity internationally. When the NBA goes to Latin America or Asia, everyone speaks the same language -- basketball. 
A European division? Lofty goal. A World Basketball League, as Karl proposes? That’s dreaming big. Really big. Even Karl admits he doesn’t have all the answers. 
“Well, I don’t know how you do that,” Karl said. “But that would be someone I would hire to try to figure out what the best plan is, because I think the game is great and it’s been an amazing game. Soccer is still No. 1 in the world, but I still think basketball is growing and progressing. And I actually think the more we make it international, the better it will be.” 
Viewed through the prism of the sport’s current labor stalemate, maybe this can be part of the answer of a long-term financial plan for the NBA. If nothing else, there would be more jobs.
Posted on: December 8, 2010 7:51 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 11:03 pm
 

Post-Ups: Nuggets ready to move Melo

After weeks of speculation and despite a strong start by the Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony's last days in Denver may finally have arrived.

The Nuggets have all but decided to trade Anthony if he does not sign an extension with the team by the trade deadline, and Denver's management team believes Anthony is fully prepared to play out the season and become a free agent, multiple sources told CBSSports.com.

The Nuggets’ strong start, coupled with George Karl’s inspirational return from cancer treatment and positive discussions about a contract extension for the soon-to-be-1,000-win coach, have the organization feeling they've done everything possible to persuade Anthony to stay. But according to people with knowledge of the team’s strategy, if Anthony doesn’t agree to sign the three-year, $65 million extension by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, the wheels are all but certain to be put in motion to part ways with the three-time All-Star rather than lose him as a free agent and get nothing in return.

According to people in contact with the Nuggets’ management team, there is far more clarity today about what the team is seeking in a potential Anthony trade than there was in September, when new GM Masai Ujiri was thrust into the tempest in his initial days and weeks on the job. Executives believe the Nuggets have decided they would like to receive the best possible package of young players and are not interested in stopgap options that would hamper their flexibility. Acquiring a high-priced veteran player -- such as Andre Iguodala, whose talent the Nuggets value but not his contract -- would only hurt the team’s ability to build around youth while maintaining payroll flexibility into the uncertainty of a new collective bargaining agreement.

The Nets’ package of 2010 No. 3 pick Derrick Favors, guard Devin Harris, the expiring contract of Kris Humphries and two first-round picks remains the most attractive option to the Nuggets, sources say. Additional trade partners such as Charlotte and Utah are not eager to get involved in the discussions again, but wouldn’t necessarily be needed this time.

The wild card remains Anthony’s desire to sign an extension with the Nets, who obviously would not be willing to offer the same package without such a guarantee. While rival executives continue to doubt that Anthony would be willing to spend the next season-and-a-half in Newark, N.J., sources who have been in close contact with the power brokers in Anthony’s camp -- William Wesley and Leon Rose -- say the Nets remain an option for Anthony.

Anthony and the Nuggets will play Sunday at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks, which remain his top choice via a trade or free agency -- even though the latter option could cost him millions depending on how successful owners are at imposing salary reductions in the new collective bargaining agreement. Sources say Anthony is so fixated on winding up with the Knicks that Denver management has become convinced that he will tempt fate and the new CBA by playing out the entire season in Denver and signing with the Knicks as a free agent on July 1 – or after the lockout. The only way that scenario could be positive for Denver would be in a sign-and-trade deal. But such an arrangement – like the pennies-on-the-dollar deals that sent LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami – would not be nearly as beneficial as what the Nets are offering now.

The Knicks, playing their best basketball in years with free-agent acquisition Amar’e Stoudemire, have believed that their best chance of landing Melo was for the process to play out slowly – and they’ve gotten their wish so far. But the Nuggets, sources say, are not sold on the young players New York could offer such as Anthony Randolph, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Point guard Raymond Felton -- who has been on an offensive tear since gaining chemistry with Stoudemire and who becomes trade-eligible on Dec. 15 -- also does not interest the Nuggets, who view him as a halfcourt player who wouldn't fit their style.

Nuggets officials are said to be coming around to the idea that Harris could play in the backcourt with Chauncey Billups, who often played shooting guard this past summer with Team USA. But if Anthony is traded, sources say management also wants to show Billups -- who came to the Nuggets not just to come home, but to win -- the proper respect by engaging him in conversations about whether he'd prefer to be traded.

Other than hoping to persuade Anthony to sign the extension and stay in Denver, the biggest variable for the Nuggets is the sliding scale of quality on the Nets’ own first-round pick they’d convey in the trade. (They also would include Golden State’s protected 2012 first-rounder). The sooner the Nuggets trade Melo to New Jersey, the better the Nets get and the worse the pick gets. But that is a matter of timing and patience. As far as willingness to deal, it appears that the Nuggets are finally open for business.

And so are we in the rest of this week’s Post-Ups:

• With the Trail Blazers' obvious struggles and the health challenges (that's putting it mildly) of Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, two people with knowledge of the team's strategy told CBSSports.com that Portland management is contemplating trading older players and going young. The obvious targets for such a purge would be Marcus Camby (36), Andre Miller (34), and Joel Przybilla (31). Roy isn’t old, but his knees are -- though one of the sources said Portland would find no takers for the five years and $82.3 million remaining on Roy's contract, given the state of his meniscus-less knees. Przybilla ($7.4 million expiring contract) and Miller (whose $7.8 million salary in 2011-12 is fully non-guaranteed) are eminently moveable. Another candidate to be dealt, though not because of age or health, is Rudy Fernandez, who has wanted out of Portland for some time. Sources caution that the Blazers have engaged in only internal conversations about this strategy, and it is contingent upon the team (10-11) continuing to struggle. But the writing certainly is on the wall for major changes in Portland.

• Multiple NBA team executives told CBSSports.com this week they believe a significant number of college underclassmen will stay in school rather than risk losing a year of development (and pay) in a lockout. College coaches making the pitch to underclassman to stay in school will have more leverage than ever before. “They’ll have the hammer,” one exec said. “To lose a year of development at that stage of your career, that’s huge.” This could have a dramatic impact on a team like No. 4 Kansas, which in an ordinary year would have as many as three first-round picks: freshman Josh Selby (serving a nine-game NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits); and juniors Marcus Morris and Tyshawn Taylor. Sophomore Thomas Robinson also impressed NBA execs scouting the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

• Speaking of Madison Square Garden, rival execs agree that New York would be a logical landing spot for Andre Iguodala, and they believe the Sixers will be more than open to discussing trades for the dynamic but high-priced swingman as the Feb. 24 deadline approaches. The Knicks, one of the few teams in a position to absorb salary in the uncertain labor environment, also would be looking for an attractive piece to pair with Stoudemire in the event the Nuggets follow through with an Anthony trade prior to the deadline. Team president Donnie Walsh would have to decide if, short of Anthony, Iguodala is the best option that will be available to him between now and 2011 free agency -- if and when that happens. And also, if Iguodala is worth giving up the cap flexibility he's toiled three years to create. Pricetag notwithstanding -- the 26-year-old is due $56.5 million over the next four years -- Iguodala would be an excellent fit for Mike D'Antoni's high-octane offense and would instantly become the best defender on the roster by a mile.

• With details of the National Basketball Players Association's July proposal finally becoming fully public Wednesday, the question of how prepared the union is for a lockout is naturally going to come up. According to sources familiar with the union's financial documents, the NBPA currently has just shy of $100 million in liquid assets in its war chest in the event of a lockout. The funds have been accumulated largely through players agreeing to put aside licensing money they receive from the league -- something they are doing again this season to the tune of about $30 million. If you add non-liquid assets, such as property, the union will have about $175 million on hand. This is a lot of money to you and me, but not to 450 NBA players. Consider that the players' salaries (without benefits) last season totaled about $2.3 billion -- with a "b." Now consider that players are paid 12 times during the season -- twice a month for six months. That means the NBPA's total war chest is enough to cover the players' first paychecks during a lockout in the 2011-12 season.

• With trade discussions typically heating up around the 20-game mark -- and also around Dec. 15, when summer free agents become trade-eligible -- execs league-wide are curious to learn what sort of trade climate will exist in light of the labor uncertainty. Many predict that teams that have typically been willing to take on salary between December and the trade deadline (Feb. 24) will be less willing (or unwilling) to do so in this environment. Similarly, teams performing below management's internal expectations (Houston, the Clippers, the Blazers) have a tough decision to make. They could try to fix their problems now, but without knowing what the rules will be under the new agreement, they don't know what conditions they’re planning for. Of the aforementioned teams, the Blazers are in the best position to dump salary because of the attractiveness of the contracts they'd be moving. Plus, Miller's value is not only in his contract, but in his ability to push a contending team in need of a steadying point-guard presence over the top. Full disclosure: this is my idea, not anybody else's, but Orlando would be the perfect landing spot for Miller depending on what the Magic would be willing to send back.


Posted on: November 17, 2010 1:14 pm
 

Post-Ups

Their three-game winning streak and 22-gun salute from the 3-point line against the Lakers notwithstanding, these are delicate times for the Phoenix Suns. So delicate, in fact, that a speculative riff on an NBA writer’s podcast last week sparked a flurry of trade rumors surrounding Steve Nash.

Such is life in the NBA blogosmear, but there’s an element of truth to the speculation. Watching Nash play without Amar’e Stoudemire, and Stoudemire without Nash, is a classic lesson in being careful what you wish for. The Suns, like many NBA teams, were hesitant to lavish five guaranteed years on Stoudemire given the uninsurable state of his knees. The Knicks, boxed out of the LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sweepstakes, were in the rare position of being open to Stoudemire’s in-person overtures back in July. It was a match made in Desperadoville.

The Knicks were in Denver Tuesday night to face the Nuggets and the latest apple of their eyes, Carmelo Anthony. They arrived in a tailspin, having lost five in a row, and left with a 120-118 loss, a six-game losing streak, and much of the hopelessness inspired by Knicks teams of the past decade. No fewer than 15 power forwards playing at least 25 minutes per game are ahead of Stoudemire in efficiency rating, according to Hoopdata.com. Among them are Michael Beasley, Charlie Villanueva and Hakim Warrick – who replaced Stoudemire in Phoenix. You don’t need data to see that Stoudemire is struggling in his new home. Watching him search in vain for someone who knows how to run a pick-and-roll is evidence enough.

Despite Warrick’s statistical accomplishments, things aren’t much better for Nash and the Suns. Lost in the Suns’ unconscious shooting exploits in a 121-116 victory over the Lakers Sunday night was the ongoing horror show of watching Nash dribble around desperately in search of someone to set a capable screen and roll to the basket. Both Nash and Stoudemire have lost something irreplaceable in each other.

While the Knicks plan to do their due diligence and inquire as to Nash’s availability, the Suns haven’t gotten to the point of entertaining offers, according to an executive familiar with their strategy. Coach Alvin Gentry already has made it clear publicly that the Suns aren’t trading Nash, and the executive familiar with the team’s posture characterized the flurry of rumors as “random” and “not factual.” But in Phoenix, as with many revenue-challenged NBA cities, basketball sense doesn’t always align with financial reality.

Without Stoudemire – and assuming they can’t make 20-plus 3-pointers a night for the rest of the season – the Suns will be struggling to get a whiff of the eighth seed come April. They’re the worst rebounding team in the league in terms of defensive rebounding rate and offensive rebounding differential, and the loss of center Robin Lopez to a sprained knee certainly won’t help.

“We’ve got to be a little bit more scrappy than we’ve been in the past,” said Jared Dudley, a key member of the superior bench that made the Suns such a threat to the Lakers in the conference finals last spring.

But Suns owner Robert Sarver, whose non-basketball businesses in the banking and real estate sectors have been hammered by the recession, isn’t paying $63 million for a scrappy, barely .500 team. The Suns are comfortably below the $70.3 million luxury-tax threshold, so there’s no urgency there. However, Sarver has been one of the most vocal in a new wave of owners in the collective bargaining fight, and rival executives believe he’ll be on a rampage at the trade deadline if the Suns are out of the playoff hunt. That’s an eventuality the Suns hope to prevent, and despite their current upswing, it will prove to be a difficult fight.

“Hopefully we can get a couple of wins in a row so we can get those rumors away,” Dudley said of the Nash speculation. “You don’t want your franchise player to go. He makes everybody better here and he’s the face of Phoenix. If you think the transition is big with Amar’e, I can only imagine. It would be a journey having [Nash] leave.”

Which brings us to the next step in our journey, to the rest of the Post-Ups:

• With Jermaine O’Neal out several weeks with a sore left knee, you and I both know what name comes to mind as a free-agent replacement: Rasheed Wallace. While ‘Sheed’s agent, Bill Strickland, wouldn’t completely rule it out, it doesn’t sound like Wallace is even contemplating the possibility of coming out of retirement – for the Celtics or anybody else. “I have not talked to Danny [Ainge, the Celtics’ president] or Rasheed about that, but I think Rasheed is through,” Strickland said. Wallace, 36, isn’t believed to be working out on the court in any capacity in the event a team might be interested in his services. And while it’s hard to imagine Wallace coming back with the NBA’s tech-happy mandate to the referees, it’s more of a physical issue. As far back as when Wallace was still with the Pistons, he was known to sometimes leave his shoes on between games in order to keep playing. If he’d removed them, his ankles would’ve swelled up so badly that he wouldn’t have been able to get them back on.

• Leave it to the Zen Master to decode the mystery of Utah’s amazing string of double-digit road comebacks last week. Lakers coach Phil Jackson pointed out that Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is perhaps the only NBA coach who elects to have his team play offense in front of his bench in the second half. Most coaches prefer to have their team in front of them on defense down the stretch of road games. Lo and behold, the Jazz reeled off double-digit road comebacks against Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Charlotte by pouring on the offense in the second half. Visiting coaches choose which basket to defend in which half. “You can generate a lot of points in front of your bench,” Jackson said. “Defensively, a lot of coaches like their team to be in front of the bench in the second half on the road, because you can call stuff and give eyes to the players with their back to the basket. They’re the only team in the NBA that does it the other way.”

Brandon Roy’s future with bone-on-bone in both knees bears watching, given that his game is based on getting to the basket and he’s only 26 – with a lot of mileage theoretically ahead of him. But Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and former consultant to the Philadelphia 76ers, said it depends on the extent of the damage and where it is. After his latest bout with knee swelling and pain last week, Roy learned that surgery was not an option because he has no meniscus left in either knee. DiNubile said Roy’s fate will be determined by whether he lacks cartilage, too. “It would be extremely unlikely at that age to have no meniscus and no cartilage,” DiNubile said. Whether the bone-on-bone condition is occurring in the actual knee joint (bad) or under the kneecap (still bad, but better) also is important. If the bone-on-bone situation is where the tibia meets the femur, “You’re kind of doomed,” DiNubile said. “That’s not compatible with up-and-down playing. If he were to have bone-on-bone in the main part of his knee, his career’s going to be limited one way or the other.” If the condition exists in the kneecap, DiNubile said athletes “can do surprisingly well.”

• As more than an innocent bystander in the Carmelo Anthony saga, Nuggets coach George Karl is more than doing his part by using his considerable powers of persuasion to try to keep Melo in Denver. But it’s impossible to evaluate Karl’s efforts on that front without noting his own pursuit of a contract extension. Two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com that the Nuggets view Karl as part of their future, regardless of whether Anthony stays. Whether Karl wants to remain in Denver if he winds up with a rebuilding team post-Anthony – that’s another matter. But despite Karl’s disenchantment with the ouster of his friends Mark Warkentien and Tim Grgurich, the lines of communication between Karl, GM Masai Ujiri, executive Josh Kroenke, and team president Paul Andrews are very much open. And weighing on the matter more than Anthony’s future is Karl’s health. Karl, 59, has several more hurdles to clear in his heroic efforts to beat throat and neck cancer, and wants to be sure he remains cancer-free before asking the Nuggets to commit to him beyond this season. Everyone in the NBA, including the Denver front office, is rooting for him.

Tayshaun Prince’s repeated blowups, with coach John Kuester giving as good as he’s getting, aren’t expected to play a major role in the Pistons’ decision on whether to trade the swingman and his $11.1 million expiring contract. A person with knowledge of Prince’s thinking told CBSSports.com that his frustration isn’t fully directed at Kuester; losing, after his time as a member of the formerly contending Pistons, is a bigger issue. But the biggest issue in the decision on whether to move him is the impending ownership change in Detroit. Trading an expiring deal, by definition, involves taking on future money – which is difficult, at best, to do when a new owner is entering the picture.

Kevin Love’s 31-point, 31-rebound game – an incredible performance and the first of its kind since Moses Malone in 1982 – was a quiet victory for Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis. Rambis had been trying to prove a point to Love by limiting his minutes: If you don’t play both ends of the floor, you’re not going to play. Rambis’ message finally got through, and the result was an example of what Love is capable of when he puts his mind to it. But this isn’t the end of the dysfunction in Minnesota, by any stretch. Just because Love performed in an historic way doesn’t mean he’s buying Rambis’ message long-term. And a person familiar with the Wolves’ locker room dynamics isn’t convinced it’s smooth sailing from here. “The team is a disaster,” the person said. Depending on who you ask, the issue is either lack of communication from Rambis, or an unwillingness to listen on the part of Love and others who are disenchanted with minutes. It’s going to take more time to sort it all out.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com