Tag:Jazz
Posted on: December 9, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 2:52 am
 

Magic considering tampering charge vs. Nets

Even as the NBA launched into damage-control mode Friday over commissioner David Stern's rejection of a trade sending Chris Paul to the Lakers, another firestorm started. The Orlando Magic were considering tampering charges against the New Jersey Nets, front office sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The charges would stem from an alleged meeting between Dwight Howard and Nets representatives in Miami in recent days as New Jersey prepared a blockbuster trade offer to land the All-Star center. ESPN.com reported that the meeting was attended by Howard, some of his business associates, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Nets general manager Billy King.

Howard told ESPN.com, "There was no meeting." Prokhorov's spokeswoman, Ellen Pinchuk, did not respond to a request for comment, but King issued a statement Friday echoing Howard's denial.

"Contrary to published reports," King said, "the New Jersey Nets did not meet with Dwight Howard." 

UPDATE: The Magic on Friday night gave Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, permission to speak with three teams -- the Lakers, Nets and Mavericks -- about a potential trade, a person familiar with the decision told CBSSports.com. But at the time of the reported meeting between Howard and Prokhorov, no permission had been given, the person said.

"I've seen the report, but I have no idea whether he met with them or not," Magic CEO Alex Martins said. "And so we'll certainly look into that. But at this stage, it's just a report."

Orlando's goal remains to retain Howard, but the organization has made the decision that it will not suffer the same fate as when Shaquille O'Neal left as a free agent in 1996 and the team received nothing in return. Also, Magic GM Otis Smith will not have Howard's destination in a trade dictated to him by Howard or his agent, a person with knowledge of the organization's strategy told CBSSports.com.

It was a second straight day of buffoonery for the NBA as it tried, and failed miserably, to shake off the effects of a five-month lockout and launch abbreviated training camps and free agency Friday. The season starts in 16 days, and two of the league's biggest stars evidently are frozen in their cities while other teams struggled to field enough bodies to hold training-camp practices. 

"Bizarre," said one general manager who was navigating the madness.

The league does not investigate possible instances of tampering unless it receives a specific charge from one of its teams. The aspects of the rules that would apply to Howard's alleged meeting with Nets officials is that teams are not permitted to speak with players under contract with another team without that team's permission. The Magic evidently had no knowledge of whether Howard was meeting with Nets officials, though Orlando GM Otis Smith would certainly be well aware of the Nets' desire to acquire their superstar.

Since joining half the league in clearing 2010 cap space and failing to land one of the top free agents last summer, the Nets pursued and failed to land Carmelo Anthony, who ultimately was traded to the Knicks. New Jersey responded by sending Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two first-round picks to Utah for star point guard Deron Williams, whom they are now feverishly working to build around and keep him from leaving as a free agent after the 66-game 2011-12 season. In addition to preparing a trade offer for Howard that would include center Brook Lopez and two first-round picks, the Nets also were courting Nene and were telling some teams Friday they were closing in on the free-agent big man.

Several people on the periphery of the discussions said Friday night that, by all appearances, the Nets were closer to landing Nene than trading for Howard.

Howard has been careful not to publicly request or demand a trade. But his close associates have insisted for more than a year that Howard was looking to land in a marquee market, with Los Angeles and New York at the top of his list for obvious reasons. The Nets, who are moving to Brooklyn for the 2012-13 season, would fit Howard's desires, sources have told CBSSports.com.

As if that weren't enough news for one team for one day, the Magic also announced Friday they were waiving guard Gilbert Arenas and using the collective bargaining agreement's new amnesty provision to wipe the $19.3 million he is due this season off their cap and tax. Teams that are under the cap will have a chance to bid on assuming a certain percentage of Arenas' contract, with the winning team's bid offsetting Orlando's financial obligation to the former All-Star.
Posted on: June 20, 2011 10:55 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 11:07 pm
 

NBA draft buzz: Kyrie No. 1

Three days before the NBA draft, here’s a smattering of news, info, and informed opinion culled from conversations with team executives, agents, and others in the know:

• Sources would be stunned if the Cavaliers did anything but use the No. 1 pick to select Duke point guard Kyrie Irving. He’s the perfect package of talent and presence to shoulder the burden of carrying the franchise to new heights after the departure of LeBron James. The Cavs, however, are more than open to trading the No. 4 pick.

• The Timberwolves are comfortable with the outstanding consolation prize that comes with the No. 2 pick, and will get one of the only impact players in the draft in Derrick Williams. Plus, they won’t have to deal with the burden of having to choose between Irving and Williams. The Cavs, after all, could be wrong. The Wolves can’t. The only way Minnesota trades the pick is if someone “blows them away,” according to a source, and that would have to be a trade involving a superstar-caliber player.

• The Jazz and Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight are a sensible match with the third pick, as Utah looks to replace the gaping hole left by the trade of Deron Williams to the Nets. Some execs have gotten indications that Utah also is considering Enes Kanter.

• The Raptors, who agreed in principle Monday with defensive-minded coach Dwane Casey to replace Jay Triano, are sending out signals that they’re all about Bismack Biyombo with the fifth pick, but rival executives are skeptical. One such exec is banking on Toronto taking 6-11 forward Jan Vesely, regarded as the best international prospect in the draft.

• If Toronto passes on Biyombo, some execs believe he could slide as far as 14-18, and the Knicks, with the 17th pick, are known to be high on him. But the apple of the Knicks’ eye is BYU sharpshooter Jimmer Fredette, and New York officials are trying to compute how far they’d have to trade up for him and what it would cost. The Knicks also like Michigan point guard Darius Morris, and one exec said the word Monday had New York looking into trade-up options for Georgia Tech shooting guard Iman Shumpert.

• One rival executive is “almost positive” the Wizards will take Kanter with the sixth pick, or look to trade down. Washington would grab Biyombo with the 18th pick if he’s still available, and otherwise would be comfortable with Kenneth Faried.

Kings officials are split between Fredette (beloved by ownership) and Alec Burks (favored by the basketball staff).

• The Pistons have a key workout scheduled for Tuesday, hosting Biyombo, Marcus Morris, Tristan Thompson, and Kawhi Leonard. Word among rival execs is that Detroit will take one of those players or Kemba Walker with the eighth pick.

• The Bobcats are said to be all over Chris Singleton with the ninth pick, but would take Marcus Morris if they’re stuck. Nicola Vucevic would be Charlotte’s choice with the 19th pick if he’s still there.

• It’s sort of the opposite situation with the Bucks, who are looking to trade the 10th pick but would take Burks if they can’t.

• The Warriors are enamored of Washington State shooting guard Klay Thompson, which would seem to cast doubt on GM Larry Riley’s denials of exploring trade scenarios for Monta Ellis. Singleton and Biyombo also are on Golden State’s list with the 11th pick.

• Singleton would be the pick for Utah at No. 12 if he’s still there, sources say.

• The Suns appear to be focused on Thompson or Walker with the 13th pick. But this is the area to start thinking about Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas, whose touchy buyout situation is the only thing knocking him out of being a top-five pick.

• The Pacers appear to be comfortable with either Thompson or Fredette with the 15th pick, but if neither is there, they’d take Markieff Morris, sources say.

• Jordan Hamilton appears headed to Philly with the 16th pick, and sources said Monday the Timberwolves have offered point guard Jonny Flynn in a package deal for swingman Andre Iguodala. Philadelphia officials, however, have let it be known that they are not interested in a salary-dump deal for Iguodala and want an impact veteran in return.

• Faried also is on the Trail Blazers’ wish list at No. 21, but the Blazers also are said to be high on Marshon Brooks.
Posted on: May 18, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine


CHICAGO -- NBA officials are evaluating whether to fine Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn for comments suggesting Tuesday night's draft lottery was rigged, sources told CBSSports.com.

A decision on what to do with Kahn over his latest insensitive and inapropriate public remarks could be delayed because top league executives are traveling and scattered for multiple events, including the pre-draft camp and competition committee meeting Wednesday in Chicago. Commissioner David Stern and general counsel Richard Buchanan have yet to confer with other top officials, and there is expected to be a difference of opinion on whether fining Kahn and the Timberwolves would simply draw more attention to the unfortunate comments.

Meanwhile, Kahn told CBSSports.com Wednesday that his comments were meant as a joke, but reiterated that he believes in "the power of story."

The Timberwolves drew the No. 2 pick Tuesday night, losing out to the Cavaliers -- who were represented by owner Dan Gilbert's 14-year-old son, Nick, who suffers from a disease that causes tumors to grow throughout his body. Instead of being gracious, Kahn unleashed the following apparent attempt at humor and cleverness, which instead resonated with arrogance, poor taste, and what one league official called "bad karma."

"This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines," Kahn said. "Last year it was Abe Pollin's widow and this year it was a 14-year-old boy and the only thing we have in common is we have both been bar mitzvahed. We were done. I told Kevin (O'Connor, GM of the Jazz, who got the No. 3 pick): 'We're toast.' This is not happening for us and I was right."

If you like to hear and see stupid things first-hand, rather than just read the quotes, you can watch Kahn's buffoonery here.

Speaking Wednesday to CBSSports.com at the Westin Hotel in Chicago, where league executives convened for the pre-draft camp and competition committee meeting, Kahn said his comments were made in jest and that he didn’t intend to imply that the lottery was rigged. But then he may have unintentionally dug a deeper hole when he reiterated the essence of his comment, saying he believes in “the power of story.”

“The first questions I was asked last night by the reporters were, did I feel that the Timberwolves were jinxed,” Kahn said. “You know, we have a poor lottery record. And I want to say for the record, I don’t believe in jinxes, curses, hocus pocus, and I don’t believe we’ve been harmed in any way. What I said last night, I do believe in the power of story. And I just felt it was a heck of a lot better story for a 14-year-old to beat out two middle-aged executives standing together on a stage on national TV, and that our league has had its own share of luck in being a part of those stories. That’s it. Anybody ascribing anything else to it is completely doing their own thing.”

Kahn pointed out that his comment Tuesday night “elicited laughter,” and said, “There was no follow-up question. Nobody said, ‘Do you understand what you just said?’ No, because everybody knew context. But I do understand, to your point, just reading it dry, that somebody could infer that. So lesson learned.”

Asked again Wednesday if he was simply reiterating his assertion that the lottery results were rigged to produce a better story, Kahn said, “Absolutely not. I’m just saying that, if you look at sports in general, typically fairy tale stories, Cinderella stories, whatever you want to say, those tend to dominate sports. I just knew when you’re standing there with a 14-year-old kid, logically the 14-year-old kid … it had nothing to do with being nefarious.”

Kahn said he hadn’t heard from the league about the comments, but said he wouldn’t be surprised if he received a fine.

“I’ve had money taken away from me before,” Kahn said. “It probably won’t be the last time. It is what it is.”

Whether Kahn’s comments warrant a fine or not, his latest in a pattern of missteps had rival executives shaking their heads in exasperation and privately mocking him Wednesday. In one fell swoop, Kahn offended the family of late owner Abe Pollin, reduced an heroic 14-year-old suffering from a horrific disease to a “storyline,” and insinuated that the primary means for bad NBA teams to improve – a process independently audited by an accounting firm – was fixed. And worse, upon reflection, Kahn didn’t seem to realize or care that he had done any of this.

“He oozes smug,” one rival team employee said.

Kahn and his organization were most recently fined $50,000 each last July for Kahn’s comments about Michael Beasley’s marijuana use – comments that were made soon after Kahn acquired Beasley in a trade with the Heat. This is not the kind of mistake that a seasoned, capable executive should make – especially one who is so close to Stern, who is mostly responsible for Kahn’s continued gainful employment in the NBA. Kahn’s basketball career began as an attorney at Proskauer Rose, the Manhattan law firm which handled, and continues to handle, NBA litigation.

Even now, with his organization hoping to secure a commitment from 2009 first-round pick Ricky Rubio to leave Spain and join the Timberwolves next season, Kahn’s latest actions have threatened what should be a positive, forward-looking time for a team that has endured years of hopeless ineptitude – some of it, Kahn’s own doing.

Overpaying for Darko Milicic and Nicola Pekovic while still having the lowest payroll in the NBA (when adjusted for Eddy Curry’s buyout) tells you all you need to know about Kahn’s basketball acumen. It’s truly amateur hour when the same GM who drafted two point guards on consecutive selections in 2009 now complains about being denied the No. 1 pick in the lottery – when the consensus top pick is, you guessed it, a point guard.

Had Minnesota gotten the No. 1 pick, Kahn would’ve had a controversy much bigger than this one on his hands – being forced to explain why he did or didn’t select Kyrie Irving first overall with Rubio, fellow 2009 lottery pick Jonny Flynn, and Luke Ridnour already Wolves property.

“But that’s presuming there would’ve been a controversy,” Kahn said. “I’m not in a position to presume that and I wouldn’t presume that if I were you. It hasn’t been discussed, internally or externally.”

In addition, the organization has needlessly dragged out the presumed firing of coach Kurt Rambis, whose representatives are meeting with Kahn in Chicago this week but still may not come away with a final answer on his future. Don’t cry for Rambis, who will see the more than $4 million remaining on his contract either way, but that’s not the point. The point is, Rambis deserves better. So do Wolves fans, and the rest of the NBA.
Posted on: February 23, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: February 23, 2011 5:49 pm
 

Deron Williams to Nets

The Nets have acquired All-Star point guard Deron Williams from the Jazz for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first-round picks, and cash, the teams announced Wednesday.

In a swift and astonishing comeback from their failed pursuit of Carmelo Anthony, New Jersey also will get Dan Gadzuric and Brandan Wright from Golden State for Troy Murphy, who will be bought out, sources said. Murphy is considering signing with Boston, Miami or Orlando once his buyout is complete. That separate transaction, with Golden State also getting a 2012 second-round pick from the Nets, is expected to be completed later Wednesday.

The deal, first reported by the Bergen (N.J.) Record and Yahoo! Sports, represents a major coup for Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who lost out to cross-river rival New York in his pursuit of Anthony but arguably gets an even better prize for some of the pieces that were bound for Denver in a deal that was agreed to last week for Anthony. The Knicks acquired Anthony Tuesday for four players and three draft picks in a masssive, three-team, 13-player blockbuster. The Williams-to-New Jersey deal was agreed to Wednesday, hours before Anthony was set to make his debut for the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Williams, arguably the best point guard in the game, had grown disenchanted in Utah, where friction between he and coach Jerry Sloan resulted in the Hall of Fame coach resigning Feb. 11. CBSSports.com reported during All-Star weekend that Williams began planning his exit from Utah last summer, telling associates that if Amar'e Stoudemire wound up signing with the Knicks, Williams wanted to follow him there as a free agent in 2012.

In a chaotic environment that has changed the landscape of the NBA, the Jazz boldly got out in front of the looming soap opera with their superstar, opting to trade him for assets a year before his free agency would become a major issue. By doing so, general manager Kevin O'Connor has taken one of the marquee 2012 free agents off the market and spared his organization the kind of drama and distraction that besieged the Nuggets until Anthony finally was dealt to the Knicks.

As one rival executive noted, the Nets turned the "guts of the Melo deal" into a far superior talent and didn't have to give up as much as Denver was asking for Anthony -- or even as much as the Knicks gave up for him. But in the end, the players and draft picks surrendered on both sides of the Hudson River will be all but forgotten once Williams, Stoudemire and Anthony embark on what will be without question the most heated rivalry the New York area teams have ever had.

And with early indications that Williams is not happy with the trade, the Nets took a calculated risk -- but one that could pay enormous dividends. The Knicks got a player who wanted to join them while Williams will have to be sold. But he'll have the rest of this season and next -- barring a lockout -- to evaluate whether he'll have enough talent with him by the time the team moves to Brooklyn in 2012.

The deal saves the Jazz about $3.6 million in salary and luxury-tax payments, but does not push them under the $70.3 million tax threshold. Given the obvious decision to go in a rebuilding direction, the Jazz could be poised for other deals to clear the remaining $4.9 million they're over the tax. The Jazz get New Jersey's 2011 first-round pick and Golden State's 2012 first-rounder, which also comes from the Nets after being acquired in a previous trade.

The Jazz play in Dallas Wednesday night in the first game of the post-Williams era. New Jersey's next game is Friday night in San Antonio, where it is expected that Williams will make his Nets debut.

With star players aggressively angling for better markets and fellow stars to team up with, following the blueprint set forth first by the Celtics and Lakers and then by Miami's Big Three last summer, the Jazz snuffed out what could've been another long, painful march to free agency for Williams.

During All-Star weekend, Williams danced around the report by CBSSports.com that he hatched an escape plan to New York last summer and proclaimed that he would not be addressing his impending free agency until he made a decision. On Wednesday, about 28 hours before the trade deadline, the decision was made for him. Williams has two years left on his contract after this one, including a player option in 2012-13 -- when the Nets are scheduled to move into their new home in Brooklyn and truly ignite their rivalry with the Knicks.

In so many ways, that rivalry has been smoldering for months as the Knicks and Nets pursued Anthony. It was elevated to five-alarm status Wednesday, with Prokhorov trumping Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan's acquisition of Anthony on the very day the Knicks' new superstar makes his home debut against the Bucks.

Williams isn't eligible for an extension until July 1 -- or whichever comes first, July 1 or the ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement. By trading him a year before he had the leverage of being able to force his way to the team of his choice -- like Anthony did with the Knicks -- the Jazz not only avoid the drama, but they also get a better deal than one they would've gotten under such duress.

The deal not only represents a short-term victory for the Nets in their battle with the Knicks over superstar talent -- it was 2-0 New York until Wednesday, with Stoudemire and Anthony on board at the Garden -- it also has wide-ranging implications in the chase for 2012 free agents. Will Williams stay in New Jersey, buy into the Brooklyn mystique, and try to topple the Knicks' star tandem of Stoudemire and Anthony by serving as a magnet for future free agents? Will he decline to sign an extension and try to force his way to the Knicks? Does his presence on the Nets virtually assure that fellow star point guard Chris Paul will make his summer wedding toast come true by joining Stoudemire and Anthony in New York in 2012? Whom does Dwight Howard team up with when his free-agent clock starts ticking? The Lakers, Knicks, or Nets?

Only this is for sure: The floodgates pushed ajar by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh last summer have blown wide open.


Posted on: February 10, 2011 7:53 pm
 

Phil, Doc react to Sloan's departure

BOSTON – Phil Jackson competed against Jerry Sloan as both a player and a coach, and knew him as someone who’d never quit – and whose teams never would, either. 

But Jackson has flirted often with the notion of when is the right time to walk away from coaching, and took Sloan at his word that it was just the “right time.” 

“I think sometimes you hope you can pick the right time, and I think you want to close the chapter on it,” Jackson said before the Lakers played the Celtics Thursday night. “And if that was the way it ended for him, I know he felt that you have to live your life by your gut feeling and do it that way. So I think it was great that he was able to do it on his own terms.” 

Ray Allen, who used to experience Sloan’s hard-nosed defensive style more frequently in the Western Conference, had the same reaction everyone else did upon hearing the news of Sloan’s resignation Thursday. 

“I’m curious why,” Allen said. “I think everyone’s kind of wondering what exactly happened – if he stepped down or they went in another direction. … He’s been a great ambassador for the game.” 

Doc Rivers always knew what he was getting when he stepped onto the floor to play against or coach against a team coached by Sloan.

“They were going to play hard,” Rivers said. “They were going to cut. They were going to pick-and-roll you to death. They were going to foul you hard. You had to play defense for 24 seconds. And they were going to milk every possession until they got the shot they wanted.” 

Jackson, whose Bulls twice defeated Sloan’s Jazz for NBA titles, said Sloan’s lack of a championship “shouldn’t diminish his career.” 

“But really, you hate to see a guy go out without having won a champ with all the great teams he’s had,” Jackson said. “… I think coaching 23 years probably is an energy thing. It takes a lot of energy and there’s a time when you feel like you just can’t put anything more into a team.”
Posted on: February 10, 2011 2:29 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 4:12 pm
 

NBA will never be the same without Sloan

Where were you when Michael Jordan retired to go play baseball? When Magic Johnson made his tearful announcement that he was walking away from the game because he'd contracted HIV?

And when the news broke that Jerry Sloan would no longer coach the Utah Jazz?

The NBA changed forever Thursday when Sloan and top assistant Phil Johnson resigned. A person with direct knowledge of the decision confirmed it to CBSSports.com after the Deseret News reported the initial bombshell that immediately generated shock and disbelief throughout the NBA. It has been 23 years since someone else has coached the Jazz.

Sloan himself joked at his Hall of Fame enshrinement that it seemed inevitable that he would die coaching. Everyone believed him.

And now this.

The Jazz have officially called a news conference for 3 p.m. MT.

UPDATE: Assistant coach Tyrone Corbin, who has attracted the attention of several teams plotting offseason coaching changes, will be named acting head coach -- with no "interim" tag, sources said. Given that the Jazz have had one coach for nearly a quarter-century, it's hard to imagine them having three in a matter of months -- so it is possible that Corbin could be retained on a more permanent basis at some point. But sources say those conversations have not yet taken place.

The news of Sloan's departure came less than 24 hours after he emergered flustered and late for his postgame media appearance Thursday night after a loss to the Bulls. Sloan had been in a lengthy meeting with general manager Kevin O'Connor, the nature of which neither has divulged.

One thing that is certain: Recent reports that Sloan had just signed a one-year contract extension were erroneous -- or, at best, old news. Several months ago, Sloan had indicated to management and ownership that he intended to return next season. But as has become customary with him, those details wouldn't be finalized until after the season.


Category: NBA
Posted on: February 8, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Reggie Miller sticks up for small markets

As the superstar exodus to greener pastures and glitzier cities continues in the NBA, Reggie Miller rode to the rescue of the small market Tuesday. 

In TNT's pre-All-Star conference call, Miller said a franchise tag to curb player movement will be "tough" to implement in collective bargaining. But if that's what it takes to keep stars in small markets -- Miller played his entire 18-year career in Indiana -- he's all for it. 

"I was disappointed when LeBron left and went to Miami," Miller said. "I'm not faulting him, because obviously this is America and people change jobs and occupations and locations all the time. But for a guy that's been in a small market for 18 years, I just love when stars and superstars -- and you had the biggest superstars in our league in terms of name recognition in LeBron in a small market -- I didn’t think overall that helps the brand. Therefore, I hope Deron Williams stays in Utah and Chris Paul stays in New Orleans. It's good to have superstars in smaller markets because it helps the brand." 

Fellow Turner Sports broadcaster Kevin McHale, who famously traded Kevin Garnett from Minnesota to Boston in 2007, called the franchise tag an "interesting concept." Depending on how it's implemented, a franchise tag would either give teams cap relief to help them retain a star player, further restrict star players' movement, or both. 

"There's something to that," McHale said. "It gives the team that drafts a guy and develops a guy more of an opportunity to hold onto the player. I agree having the talent distributed throughout the whole NBA is much better for the game as whole. If you win, they'll want to play in different cities, no matter if it's Oklahoma City or New York City. If you're winning, they're going to want to go there and be part of it." 

Whether the owners can get such an onerous request past the union without a fight? Good luck. 

"They're going to have to get the players' association to buy into that," McHale said. 

The prospect of a franchise tag in a new CBA plays directly into the future of Carmelo Anthony, who is seeking a trade yet is concerned about losing money by passing on a three-year, $65 million extension that could be less lucrative in the new labor agreement. If the Nuggets decide to keep Anthony, part of their motivation would be having solid knowledge that they'd be in a position to retain Anthony with a franchise tag after the new deal is ratified. Anthony's countermove, obviously, would simply be to opt out of his $18.5 million contract for next season. That game of chess is likely to unfold all the way down to the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
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.
 
 
 
 
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