Posted on: February 26, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2011 4:31 pm
Richard Hamilton and Chris Wilcox have been fined for missing shootaround without an excuse, but the Pistons are not planning a coaching change in the wake of the perceived mutiny against John Kuester, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Saturday.
The team engaged in lengthy organizational meetings Saturday to discuss the latest meltdown in a season that has spiraled out of control. Though sources are downplaying a significant rebellion against Kuester, a proposal to buy out Hamilton -- who had another in a series of confrontations with Kuester recently -- will be presented to ownership before the March 1 deadline for him to be eligible for another team's playoff roster. The chances of a buyout for Hamilton, however, are "slim," a source said, given that he has two years left on his contract.
Hamilton and Wilcox flew back to Detroit with the team after the Pistons -- with only six available players -- lost to the Sixers in Philadelphia. Both players are expected to be available Saturday night against Utah, but whether or not they play will be a "coaching decision," the source said.
Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince, and Ben Wallace also missed shootaround Friday prior to the Sixers game, but all three had legitimate excuses, the person said. The Pistons' training staff confirmed to management that McGrady and Prince had been sick. Wallace is dealing with the sudden terminal illness of a close family member, the source said.
Austin Daye and Rodney Stuckey were late for shootaround, missing the team bus and catching a cab, the source said. They were fined for being late.
Whatever the reasons, the incident -- and the perception of a team-wide rebellion against Kuester -- has put the Pistons' already miserable season in an even grimmer perspective for the remaining 22 games.
Each of the most sensible resolutions -- buying out Hamilton or firing Kuester -- is complicated by the fact that the team is waiting for an ownership change to be completed. It is unlikely, sources said, that the ownership transfer would be completed in time for Hamilton to be bought out before the March 1 deadline for him to be playoff-eligible with a new team.
"This is not the climate where anybody wants to cut a big check just so a guy can go play somewhere else," said the person familiar with the Pistons' latest controversy.
Hamilton, who has two years and $25 million left on his deal, was close to being shipped to Cleveland at the trade deadline but could not agree to terms of a buyout with the Cavs.
Hamilton and Wilcox apologized for missing shootaround. It was not clear Saturday whether the ill players -- McGrady and Prince -- or Wallace would be available for the Utah game.
Given the ongoing rift between the Pistons' old guard -- led by Hamilton and Prince -- and the younger core, the mere perception of a mutiny against Kuester will be enough to make the remaining six weeks of the regular season close to unbearable. The inability of team president Joe Dumars to take action without ownership clarity has made the situation one that Kuester and the coaching staff will have to navigate the rest of the way.
Tension that has been building for months between Kuester and the veteran players boiled over in an ugly recent confrontation between Hamilton and Kuester, sources said. It was not the first time this season that the two have verbally gone after each other, though this incident was reported to have been a one-way tirade from Hamilton to Kuester in which the former All-Star questioned the coach's decisions and credentials.
In mid-January, Kuester made the decision to move Hamilton to the bench in order to give more playing time to Ben Gordon. Soon after, Hamilton's agent, Leon Rose, attempted to have him included in a trade that would've sent Carmelo Anthony to New Jersey. The trade, like many Melo scenarios, never happened. But Hamilton has remained on the bench ever since, playing only once in the past 23 games.
Hamilton, 33, could be a useful addition to contenders such as the Mavericks and Celtics, who both have internally discussed signing him if he were bought out. It appears that he will instead languish where he's been since Jan. 12, on the Pistons' bench and at a point of no return in a lost season.
Posted on: February 18, 2010 1:28 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2010 4:38 pm
Recovering from an initial blow that saw Tracy McGrady heading to Sacramento overnight, the Knicks successfully expanded it into a three-team deal that sends the former All-Star to New York -- and clears Jared Jeffries' cap-clogging contract, a key person involved in the negotiations told CBSSports.com.
Posted on: February 18, 2010 1:44 am
Edited on: February 18, 2010 2:36 am
The Rockets and Kings have agreed in principle to a deal that would send Kevin Martin to Houston, two sources confirmed to CBSSports.com, while Tracy McGrady would go to the Kings or Knicks depending on whether the trade expands into a three-team deal.
Details of the agreement were still emerging early Thursday, but one of the sources indicated that the Rockets' aggressive pursuit of a landing spot for McGrady and his $23 million contract may not have taken its last turn before the 3 p.m. ET Thursday deadline. A second person involved in the process was hopeful that McGrady would be rerouted to New York, the former All-Star's preferred destination.
Those familiar with the Kings' thinking have long professed their lack of interest in McGrady, but it wasn't clear early Thursday whether T-Mac would be rerouted to New York by the Kings or sent there in a more standard three-way arrangement. Earlier Wednesday, a person with knowledge of the Kings' posture placed the likelihood of Martin remaining in Sacramento past Thursday's deadline at "100 percent." When pressed, the source opened the door slightly. "OK, 95 percent," the person said.
So there you go.
The players involved in the initial version of the deal were Martin, Kenny Thomas, Sergio Rodriguez, and Hilton Armstrong leaving the Kings, with the Rockets contributing McGrady, Carl Landry, and Joey Dorsey.
The tangled web was woven out of discussions among the Rockets, Knicks, and Bulls surrounding McGrady, whose cap-clearing contract was coveted by both Chicago and New York as they get their books in order for the 2010 free agency class. The discussions took numerous turns, including the Bulls failed efforts to recruit a third team to meet the Rockets' demands. Houston, in the end, may have found its own trading partner; the addition of Martin to the scenario significantly enhances what was already a premium price the Rockets were extracting for McGrady, a player they banished in December after an ill-fated return from microfracture knee surgery.
The Knicks and Rockets had spent the past 48 hours discussing a deal that would've sent McGrady to New York as part of a package for Jared Jeffries, Jordan Hill -- the No. 8 pick in the 2009 draft --Larry Hughes and draft pick consideration. The protection on the picks was the sticking point, as the Knicks and Rockets were unable to agree on the conditions under which they would swap 2011 first-round picks and send New York's 2012 first-round pick to Houston.
The Bulls, frustrated with the Rockets' demands and unable to successfully recruit a third team to sweeten their offer, moved on to discussions with Milwaukee, where they will send John Salmons and his $5.8 million owed next season for two expiring contracts.
The Knicks and Rockets may yet get a chance to revive their negotiations if the McGrady deal evolves into a three-way exchange. If not, sources say McGrady hopes to negotiate a buyout and land with a playoff contender.
Posted on: February 16, 2010 5:57 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2010 12:35 am
The Knicks' negotiations with the Rockets on a blockbuster deal that would send Tracy McGrady to New York continued to progress early Thursday as a key piece of Houston's leverage faded from the picture: the Chicago Bulls.
While New York and Houston continued negotiating the level of protection the Knicks would place on two first-round picks involved in the discussion, the Bulls were having trouble finding a third team -- preferably one with extra first-round picks to offer -- as a way to sweeten their proposal, sources said.
Though nothing was resolved over the draft pick issue, it appeared that the Rockets and Knicks were confident enough in the framework of their deal that the Bulls dropped out of the discussions, a high-level source involved in the process said. The situation was described Wednesday night as strictly between the Rockets and Knicks, with the key issue remaining how much protection the Knicks would require on two first-round picks involved in the trade.
In a sign of the Bulls' retreat, John Salmons did not play against the Knicks Wednesday night after management told him to stay at the team hotel in New York while they finalized a trade. Later, the Bulls engaged the Bucks in discussions that would send Salmons to Milwaukee for a package of expiring contracts -- perhaps Kurt Thomas and Francisco Elson, sources said. That deal would pave the way for the Knicks and Bulls to finally orchestrate their long-discussed swap centered around Al Harrington and Tyrus Thomas.
"It's still in play," a person with knowledge of the talks said.
New York officials reported back to the Rockets earlier Wednesday with their protection parameters, and the Rockets were pushing hard for less protection, two people familiar with the talks said. Sources have indicated that once the Rockets received New York's final determination on pick protection, they would choose between offers from the Knicks and Bulls for McGrady, whose $23 million expiring contract is one of the most coveted assets before Thursday's 3 p.m. ET deadline.
The Knicks, having been burned under previous regimes for giving away draft picks with little or no protection, were seeking to adequately protect a 2011 first-round pick that Houston would have the option of swapping with New York and a 2012 first-round pick that could go to the Rockets based on where it falls in the draft. Before word came Wednesday night of the Bulls' withdrawal from the talks, one person familiar with the negotiations said Houston was "asking for too much," while a second person with a stake in the deal continued to say the Knicks continued to have the leading proposal to extract McGrady.
The Knicks would get a package centered around McGrady in exchange for Jared Jeffries, Larry Hughes, Jordan Hill and the draft pick considerations. Shedding Jeffries, owed $6.9 million in 2010-11, comes at a high price -- one that Knicks president Donnie Walsh was having trouble getting comfortable accepting, sources said. The Rockets were asking for so much because they'd face little in the way of negative implications by keeping McGrady and simply letting his contract fall off the books.
Moving Jeffries is crucial to the Knicks' 2010 free agency plan because it would get New York within striking distance of its stated goal of clearing maximum cap space and flexibility heading into the crucial free-agent class that begins July 1. The Rockets, who are getting nothing from McGrady this season, would benefit from an approximately $7 million swing in luxury tax payments -- but that issue was described by one source as "not material" compared to the pick protection.
If the Knicks were successful in shedding Jeffries' $6.9 million contract for next season -- along with Hill, their No. 8 pick in 2009, and Hughes -- they'd be within about $2 million of their elusive goal of clearing space for two max free agents this summer. By completing the McGrady deal as currently constructed, New York would be able to get to the approximately $33 million needed for two straight-up max signings by buying out Eddy Curry's $11.3 million contract for next season. Curry's agent, Leon Rose, also represents the No. 1 potential catch in the 2010 sweepstakes, LeBron James.
Emboldened by the uncertainty surrounding the draft pick issue, the Bulls intensified their research on McGrady late Tuesday night and into Wednesday, a source said. The framework of the Bulls' offer was believed to have included Brad Miller, Thomas, and either Kirk Hinrich or Salmons. If Hinrich were involved, the deal likely would've had another player going to Chicago with McGrady; the Bulls are believed to have wanted either Luis Scola or Carl Landry. The Bulls' interest in one of those players -- combined with their desire to move either Hinrich or Salmons, both owed significant money next season -- appeared to have hurt Chicago's proposal. Hinrich has two years and $17 million remaining, and Salmons is owed $5.8 million next season.
The Knicks completed a minor deal Wednesday, sending Darko Milicic to Minnesota for Brian Cardinal in an exchange of expiring contracts that did not directly impact the McGrady discussions. Walsh told reporters at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night that the NBA had awarded the team cap relief on Cuttino Mobley's $9.5 million, insurance-protected contract -- another step in getting the team's books in order. Also on Wednesday, the Knicks became deeply involved in talks that would send Nate Robinson to Boston as part of a package that would yield 3-point specialist Eddie House.
Posted on: February 13, 2010 6:47 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2010 7:19 pm
DALLAS – Steve Kerr and Danny Ferry met Friday at All-Star weekend, a sure sign that Cavaliers’ pursuit of Amar’e Stoudemire has intensified. But if anybody knows the downside of such a move, it’s Kerr.
One snag in a possible pairing of Stoudemire and LeBron James in Cleveland would be another kind of pairing that’s already been tried and didn’t work. Shaquille O’Neal and Stoudemire could not co-exist in Phoenix, one of many reasons Kerr was forced to undo his mistake and send Shaq to the Cavs.
According to sources, there’s a fear among some members of the Cavs’ organization that, while Stoudemire would be a good long-term pairing with LeBron, incorporating him on the floor with Shaq might present too difficult an adjustment for the rest of the season. In Phoenix, Shaq and Stoudemire were unable to make the low-post, high-post thing work – and that was with a world-class point guard, Steve Nash. With the Cavs, Shaq and Amar’e clogging the middle might frustrate LeBron and turn him into too much of a jump shooter.
This problem would be moot after the season, when Shaq presumably will sign with another team or retire. But with an NBA-best 37-11 record at the All-Star break, shaking things up would be risky. It only underscores how critical this decision is for Cleveland. Make a bold move to placate LeBron, only to risk accelerating his departure.
The Cavs brass are said to be consulting LeBron on all matters Amar’e, and it’s possible that James will be able to sell GM Danny Ferry and coach Mike Brown that he could make it work. Having said that, sources say the Miami Heat’s interest in Stoudemire has not waned. Miami, though, has the luxury of possessing enough cap space to sign a marquee free agent to pair with Dwyane Wade this summer. The Cavs are capped out and would only be able to give LeBron another top-shelf free agent through sign-and-trades.
With that sense of urgency in mind, the Cavs have not moved off Washington’s Antawn Jamison as a solution. Jamison was James’ original target, and sources say the Wizards – despite playing hard-ball in discussions with rival GMs – are now committed to trading Jamison. Like Phoenix, the Wizards don’t merely want cap relief in exchange. They want assets and possibly a quality draft pick as well.
Here’s more of the trade chatter, culled from conversations with GMs, agents, and others in the know in Dallas and beyond:
• The Wizards-Mavericks deal has now expanded to include two more players and now looks like this: Washington gets Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross in exchange for Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson, sources say. You may be wondering, as I am, why Washington chose this deal instead of another blockbuster that would’ve sent Jamison and Butler to Boston for a package including Ray Allen. According to sources, a handful of Eastern Conference GMs pressured Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld to shy away from the Boston deal for obvious reasons. “It would screw up the balance of power in the East for three years,” one executive said. One theory circulating in Dallas is that Grunfeld didn’t want to alienate other teams he might need to do business with as he continues dismantling the roster in the wake of the Gilbert Arenas firearms fiasco.
• There’s hope in some circles that talks between the Rockets and Bulls on a deal centering around Tracy McGrady and Tyrus Thomas could be rekindled, although one source with knowledge of the situation said Saturday that Houston’s interest in Thomas could be separate from any McGrady scenario. McGrady’s $23 million expiring contract would help the Bulls amass the kind of cap space they’re seeking in their bid to lure two max free agents this summer. But several other teams – Portland, San Antonio, and Denver – could have more to offer.
• The Knicks continue to pursue Thomas in a package that would send Al Harrington and his $10 million expiring contract to Chicago. Harrington’s movement-killing tendencies on offense are frustrating coach Mike D’Antoni, who believes Thomas’ length and athleticism would be a good long-term fit. In any event, D’Antoni would get to look at Thomas in his system for the rest of the season before deciding whether to retain him as a restricted free agent.
Posted on: February 10, 2010 6:32 pm
Nobody wants to go to New York right now, considering the weather. But if talks progress on a three-team trade proposal involving the Knicks, Rockets, and Wizards, Tracy McGrady might be on his way to the Big Apple by the time the snow is cleaned up.
Though sources cautioned that no deal has been finalized, two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed that the teams have discussed a swap that would send McGrady to New York, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood to Houston, and Al Harrington to the Wizards. Other pieces would have to be involved, but those are the main ones.
The holdup, according to one of the sources, is indecision on the part of the Rockets and Knicks to sign off on the proposal. The second person familiar with the scenario characterized it as one of many discussions the Wizards are actively engaged in as they try to clean house in the wake of Gilbert Arenas' season-wrecking firearms suspension.
Among those discussions, other sources say, involve Butler going to Dallas in an exchange that almost certainly would include Josh Howard. If the Mavs are able to follow through on their desire to trade Howard, they essentially must do so before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. Howard has a team option at $11.8 million for the 2010-11 season, and as such couldn't be traded after the season unless the Mavs picked up the option -- which would guarantee Howard's contract for next season.
As far as McGrady, what would the Knicks' motivation be to import an aging star coming off microfracture surgery -- one who has played all of six games this season? Thus, the hangup. Teams have balked at the Knicks' efforts to divest themselves of Jared Jeffries and Eddy Curry, both of whom are hampering New York's plan to clear further cap space for its free-agent shopping spree this coming summer. Moving Harrington's expiring contract (and another piece to make the trade work under CBA guidelines) and taking on McGrady's $23 million expiring deal wouldn't dramatically improve the Knicks' cap position for 2010-11. The motivation, therefore, would be hoping that McGrady has enough left to help push the Knicks back into the playoff picture. As of Wednesday, New York was 6 1-2 games out of the eighth spot.
Newsday reported Wednesday that Knicks president Donnie Walsh has visited Chicago seeking an answer to that question. Since the Rockets banished him in December, McGrady has been splitting time between Houston and Chicago, where he's worked out with personal trainer Tim Grover at the Attack Athletics gym. Walsh, according to Newsday, could be planning another trip. What he sees could be the tipping point in what would be one of the most significant deals to occur before the deadline.
Posted on: January 21, 2010 11:39 am
Edited on: January 21, 2010 7:48 pm
The All-Star starters were revealed Thursday night on TNT before the nationally televised rematch of the Cavs' Christmas Day blowout of the Lakers.
Thankfully, Tracy McGrady wasn't one of them.
All hail Steve Nash, who passed T-Mac in the final weeks of voting and will start alongside Kobe Bryant in the Western Conference backcourt in the Feb. 14 All-Star Game in Dallas. McGrady, who has played all of six games this season, won't be faced with the inglorious decision of having to decline an invitation he didn't deserve.
In another fan-voting quirk that was less controversial than a T-Mac starting nod would've been, Allen Iverson will start alongside Dwyane Wade in the Eastern Conference backcourt. The other East starters: Dwight Howard, LeBron James, and Kevin Garnett (assuming he's healthy).
Joining Kobe and Nash on the West's starting five: Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tim Duncan, who passed Dirk Nowitzki in the final three weeks of voting.
"No Dirk as a starter?" Mavs owner Mark Cuban tweeted. "Time to change the rules for voting."
McGrady carried a 2,375-vote lead over Nash into the final three weeks of balloting, which was conducted by fans via paper, online, and wireless voting. If Nash hadn't passed McGrady, the right thing for T-Mac to do would've been politely decline.
It wouldn't have cost him a dime, either. A source with knowledge of the situation said McGrady has no All-Star bonus clauses in his contract, which pays him a league-high $23 million this season.
It's better for everyone this way. McGrady is trying to come back from microfracture surgery. More to the point, he would benefit immensely if the Rockets were somehow able to trade him before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. McGrady didn't need to risk his health or his already suffering reputation by trying to dust himself off for a few meaningless All-Star minutes.
I don't have a problem with Iverson starting; he's been a fan favorite his entire career, certainly deserves it based on his body of work, and -- this is important -- is actually suiting up for the Sixers, albeit at a remarkably reduced rate of effectiveness.
In spite of Nash's fortunate comeback, I agree with Boston's Ray Allen and would be in favor of tweaking the voting system to divide the say-so among fans, media members, and players. The players, more than anybody else, know who's deserving and who isn't. The coaches should retain their ability to select the reserves.
On one hand, you don't want to take away the fans' investment in the game, which after all is at least partly -- or mostly -- for their entertainment. But the All-Star Game badly needs a dose of legitimacy. Gone are the days when Michael Jordan or Dominique Wilkins could dominate All-Star weekend with their exploits in the dunk contest. That exercise long ago became a farce, and once again none of the marquee stars will participate this year.
So instead of complaining, I offer a solution. Not the only solution, but a start. Instead of voting by position, the fans vote for any 10 players they want from each conference. The players do the same. Their votes are weighted equally, and the top eight in each conference make the team. All 30 coaches vote to determine the 10 starters. The East coach and West coach fill out the roster with four reserves each.
The media? I'm not sure whom to count as media anymore, so let's leave us out of it. We'll just write about what happens.
Perfect? No. Somebody will get snubbed; they always do. But it's better than people constantly texting the word McGrady until they almost succeed in making a mockery of what is supposed to be a serious honor.
If there are any better ideas out there, you know what to do.
Posted on: January 13, 2010 9:15 pm
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It’s time to call the fans’ All-Star voting what it is: A joke.
Ray Allen did Wednesday night, and I couldn’t agree more.
“I think the fan voting is watered down,” the Celtics star said before Boston played the Nets. “I like the fact that the fans get the opportunity to vote and pick who they’d like to see in the All-Star game. But I don’t think it should be 100 percent.”
Allen, currently fourth among Eastern Conference guards (Allen Iverson is second), said the he favors a system like the one used to selected players to the NFL’s Pro Bowl. In the NFL, votes are split in thirds among players, coaches and fans. Such an arrangement would avoid embarrassments like the one currently under way involving Tracy McGrady, who is second to Kobe Bryant among Western Conference guards even though he isn’t playing for the Rockets.
“The commissioner should put some type of rule in place like you have to play at least so many games to be eligible for the All-Star Game,” Allen said. “Because once you put all the ballots out, you can’t really retrieve them. If Tracy played, I’m sure he’d play well enough to be an All-Star player because he’s done that in his career. But again, that’s taking away from another player in the Western Conference who’s having a good year and has been playing and deserves to be in there.”
The commissioner, in case you haven’t heard, has other problems to deal with at the moment. But while the sanctity of All-Star appearances doesn’t rise to the level of firearms in the locker room, it’s something that will have to be addressed.
The NBA has been on the cutting edge of fan engagement with games available live online, unique content for its 1.7 million Twitter followers, and All-Star voting online and via text messaging. Not to come across as the ugly American, but it’s pretty clear that the expansion of voting globally has skewed the results – and not in a fair or good way.
On Wednesday, the league announced that fans would choose a participant in the All-Star slam dunk contest by voting electronically during a two-player dunk-off at halftime of the Rookie Challenge on Friday night of All-Star weekend.
That’s OK. It’s a dunk contest. But All-Star appearances and starts are still viewed as legitimate accomplishments in a player’s career, and are often cited when a player is inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. If McGrady is voted in as a starter, it’s time to re-evaluate the importance of All-Star appearances, the voting procedure, or both.
Allen said he’d give the fan voting 50 percent of the weight, the players 25 percent, and the media 25 percent in determining the All-Star starters. Coaches would retain the authority to pick the reserves under Allen’s plan
“The players will truthfully know who’s had a truly great first half of the season,” Allen said. “You would have five guys starting for the All-Star team regardless of hype or highlight. You just get guys that had the best first half of the season. … You guy should have a say-so. You’re obviously watching games night in and night out. The players are the ones scouting each other and they know exactly who is beating them every night and who they’re watching on film. So they see everything.”
More than the 746,625 fans who've voted for McGrady, anyway.