Tag:Detroit Pistons
Posted on: November 1, 2011 10:32 am
 

Ben Wallace pleads guilty to DUI, weapons charges

By Matt Moore

From the Detroit News:
Detroit Pistons star Ben Wallace pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges Tuesday morning stemming from a Sept. 24 drunken driving arrest.

Wallace, 37, faces a Dec. 13 sentencing in Oakland Circuit Court on one count each of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and possessing a firearm while operating a vehicle while intoxicating. Both charges carry a maximum sentence of 93 days in jail.

It was revealed in court Tuesday that the Detroit Piston's blood alcohol level was .14, nearly double the .08 considered intoxicated under Michigan law.
via Detroit Pistons - NBA | Ben Wallace pleads guilty to misdemeanors in drunken driving arrest | The Detroit News.

As we discussed at the time of his arrest, Wallace, head been pursuing a dream of becoming a lawyer. And then got hit by this. It continuously amazes fans and media how you can get popped for DUI. You have unlimited resources in pursuit of a ride home. Limo. Taxi. Friends. Other ballplayers. Personal pedi-cycle. But then, so do most people, and that doesn't keep the DUI rates in this country from dropping. 

It's unlikely Wallace will be sentenced the maximum sentence. Prosecutors already dropped a charge on carrying a concealed weapon. The gun Wallace was carrying in a backpack was registered to his wife. 


 
Posted on: October 18, 2011 6:48 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2011 7:01 pm
 

Oakley: LeBron missing what Michael Jordan had

Posted by Ben Golliver

michael-jordan-charles-oakley

If your goal is to measure a man's worth, you probably want to talk to Ernest Hemingway, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Charles Oakley. Those guys pretty clearly established themselves as the experts at sizing people up. Hemingway would take the subject to the bar to see how much he could drink, King would distill a man's soul in a few lines of speech, and Oakley, one of the NBA's most notorious tough guys, would just stand there, glaring, seeing if the guy flinched. What more do you need to know?

As such, HoopsWorld.com asked Oakley to chime in with his thoughts about much-maligned Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James. Earlier this year, former Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen declared that James would go down as the greatest basketball player of all time, ranking ahead of The Greatest Player Of All Time, Bulls guard Michael Jordan. Pippen later walked back the comments but the damage was done.

Here's what Oakley had to say.
"I wouldn’t put [James and Jordan] in the same conversation."

"It took a while for Michael to win championships too, but they have a different swagger, a different demeanor. If I would compare anybody to Michael Jordan, it would be Kobe Bryant. Point blank. I know LeBron well; he don’t have what Michael have so I’m not even gonna discuss that one." 

"To be a superstar (LeBron) has to go back to his fundamentals… work on his post game, work off the ball."
Not in the same converation. Not even going to discuss it. Has to get back to his fundamentals. Wham. Bam. Thank you, ma'am.

It goes without saying that Oakley is about as biased as one can get in this particular evaluation. After all, he was Jordan's teammate with the Bulls and Wizards, serving as an on-court bodyguard and off-court gambling buddy. He also served as an assistant coach for the Charlotte Bobcats, a team Jordan owns, and the two are reportedly close friends. Nothing has changed since the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons tried to rough up Jordan back in the day; Oakley still has his buddy's back.

But we shouldn't dismiss the finer points of Oakley's account simply because of his relationship with Jordan. After all, he's not really covering new ground in attacking James' psyche, polish and determination. His is just another voice repeating similar nit-picks of James' game that have persisted for years. It doesn't sound personal to Oakley. Just frank talk, as always. 

It's worth noting that Oakley and Pippen, who both spent significant time around Jordan, have such divergent opinions. Perhaps that's because Pippen was still around to win six titles with the Bulls while Oakley retired having never won a ring. It would be easy -- perhaps even natural -- for Pippen to take all that winning for granted or to assign himself an outsized portion of the credit for those six titles. Oakley, though, has no such luxury. He can only view Jordan as The Greatest through the lens of a man who saw him develop first-hand and then was defeated, time and again after he was traded to the New York Knicks, by the fully-formed product. Perspective is a mother!
Posted on: October 12, 2011 3:07 pm
 

Ben Gordon: Lockout could last 'a year or two'

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The NBA took the plunge earlier this week, cancelling the first two weeks of the 2011-2012 NBA season. It's the first time in more than a decade that regular season games will be cancelled but, still, there's some consolation in the fact that it's only two weeks.

Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon, who has personally attended labor negotiation sessions, sees two weeks as just a tip of the iceberg. Indeed, the Detroit Free Press reports that Gordon is measuring the length of a potential work stoppage in years, not weeks.
"I think there will be more games missed," Gordon said when reached by phone as he was driving to Chicago. "I expect it might be a year or two. I realized that when I was listening to both sides during the negotiations. I think there will be a lot of games missed and more money is going to go down the drain.

"It just seemed scripted, and they were going through the motions," said Gordon, calling it a valuable learning experience. "Sitting there in front of them you could tell they weren't focused on getting a deal. I still don't know the purpose of those meetings."
Earlier Wednesday, we noted that New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire discussing possible contingency plans "if [the lockout] goes one or two years." 

So what's up with the timing and the extended timelines? There are a few factors at play here.

First, there's a psychological weight to the official cancellation announcement. While both players and media members had months to think about the possibility of cancelled games, there were hopes and reports that NBA commissioner David Stern might decide to simply postpone the first two weeks of the season rather than outright cancel them. There was an idea that, if enough progress could be made, order could be restored in a fairly short time frame. Those thoughts ended when the cancellation -- delivered with an apology but no waffling -- came down on schedule. Once games are cancelled, the mind opens up fully to all of the nightmare scenarios that had been disregarded previously. Suddenly, everything is on the table.

But this talk about a lost season isn't just a matter of mind games. It's also a reflection of the owners' refusal to budge meaningfully from their hard-line position.  The players know now, once and for all, that the owners were not, in fact, bluffing in their desire to re-make the financial system that governs the NBA. Ownership's proposals, once ignored or cast aside as laughable or out in left field, now have to be taken that much more seriously. Without any obvious back-up plans, the players are coming to public terms with the possiblity of a seriously long labor battle. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

Finally, there's an element of expressed solidarity at play here too. Merely by discussing the possibility of multiple lost seasons, the players signify that they are ready for a long fight, that the first missed paycheck in November won't radically alter their bargaining position. That may be true for Stoudemire ($82 million in career earnings) and Gordon ($42 million in career earnings), but it's not yet clear whether a majority of the players union, most of whom do not have access to that type of savings and earning power, will feel the same way.
Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 10:24 am
 

Ben Wallace arrested for drunk driving, weapons

By Matt Moore

The Detroit Free Press reports that Pistons forward Ben Wallace was arrested Saturday for drunk driving and possession of a concealed weapon, according to a police press release. 
Detroit Piston Ben Wallace is facing a 5-year felony charge of carrying a concealed weapon after police found an unloaded pistol in a backpack in his car as they arrested him on suspicion of drunken driving Saturday in Bloomfield Township.

When officers searched his car, they discovered an unloaded pistol in a backpack in the “passenger compartment” of the vehicle, according to a news release issued by the police department today.

Wallace, 37, is expected to appear Oct. 3 for a pre-examination conference in 48th District Court in Bloomfield Township, according to police. He has been arraigned on a 93-day misdemeanor charge of drunken driving and a 5-year felony charge of carrying a concealed weapon, police said, without specifying what day he appeared in court.
via Detroit Piston Ben Wallace faces drunken driving, weapons charges | Detroit Free Press | freep.com.

It's surprising this took five days to come out. It's also surprising because in July, Wallace gave an interview to the Detroit News about his goal of becoming a lawyer. Apparently that was because he wanted to be able to represent himself. 

Drunk driving is a serious enough charge legally on its own, but possession of a concealed weapon while drunk driving is a compound offense of recklessness.  The Detroit News reports that the weapon was unarmed and concealed in a backpack.  Wallace is owed over $2.2 million by the Pistons next year in the last year of his contract. He was expected to retire at the end of the season. The report states that Wallace was over the legal limit of .08% BAC, but did not specify his exact reading.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 2:36 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 2:36 pm
 

First up for each team in a post-lockout world

Posted by Royce Young



So the lockout could be ending soon, depending on who you're listening to. Maybe it extends into the season, but if it doesn't and a deal gets settled in the next few weeks, we're going to have one heck of a free agency period. Really, no matter when it's settled, we're going to have one wild free agency period.

(Unless we were to miss all of 2011-12 and you combined this class with next year's group. Now that would be something.)

If you thought the summer of 2010 was a frenzy, try cramming it all into a two-week period. Maybe I'm just thinking of how horrible it'll be for me. Regardless, you can be sure that all 30 teams have a pre-written itinerary on what they want to accomplish once the lockout is lifted. They have been planning, plotting and preparing to target the players they want or finish up a few final transactions on the roster.

But what's the first order of business for everybody? What's the priority, the thing that each team wants to get done right away? Here's a stab at each team's top job.

Atlanta Hawks: It really appears that the Hawks are ready and willing to let Jamal Crawford walk, but there's still a decision to made whether or not they want to compete for him in the free agent market. He was a key part of the team that made a somewhat surprising run to the Eastern Semifinals and re-signing him could be a priority. Problem is, they don't really have the funds for it.

Boston Celtics: What happens with Jeff Green? The Celtics have already tendered him a qualifying offer, but someone surely will extend him an offer sheet. The Celtics have issues at center still and Glen Davis is unrestricted, but figuring out Jeff Green's situation is probably weighing heaviest on Danny Ainge's mind.

Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats made a big splash in the draft, but if that's going to matter, they've got to get Bismack Biyombo on the team. His buyout could still be a major issue and though he says he'll be on the team when training camp starts, that's definitely up in the air.

Chicago Bulls: Wing scorer. Say it with me, wing scorer. Derrick Rose needs help (and an extension) in a big time way and it's up to Gar Foreman and company to find that help. Jamal Crawford maybe? Caron Butler? J.R. Smith if he wasn't in China? Someone has to give Rose a little offensive help and that's the top priority for the Bulls.

Cleveland Cavaliers: First thing? Putting Baron Davis on the scales to make sure he doesn't weigh 300 pounds. After that, there isn't a whole lot to be done in Cleveland. The club's rebuilding around their two lottery picks and you don't want to crowd the roster in a way that stunts their development.

Dallas Mavericks: The defending champs have a whole lot on their plate once the lockout ends. Caron Butler's contract is up. So is J.J. Barea's. So is DeShawn Stevenson's. So is Brian Cardinal's (just kidding -- well it is up, but you know what I mean). But the first order of business for Mark Cuban is to get Tyson Chandler re-signed. Not just that though, but to get him re-signed to a number that makes sense for the make-up of the roster.

Denver Nuggets: Despite the lockout, the Nuggets have kind of been gutted. J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Wilson Chandler are in China until at least March. Danilo Gallinari signed in Italy but has an NBA out. But all of that doesn't matter near as much as getting Nene re-signed. Without Nene, it doesn't matter. With Nene, there's still something worth building around.

Detroit Pistons: The Pistons are kind of trying to quietly usher out the old and bring in some new. Tayshaun Prince is a free agent, but I don't think they care. What'll be most interesting is how they handle Rodney Stuckey. The Pistons drafted Brandon Knight in June with Stuckey already their point guard. Do they want Knight to take over? Do they want to play them together? Share the role? Sorting out Stuckey's future is definitely what Joe Dumars has to do first.

Golden State Warriors: The Warriors could be players in free agency, but really, it's about deciding once and for all if Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry really are the backcourt tandem of the future for the team. If there's a time to move on, it's now when both of their values are still high. The Warriors flirted with dealing Ellis last season but it didn't happen. They're probably planning on revisiting that.

Houston Rockets: First order of business: Properly sending off Yao with a jersey retirement ceremony. After that, the Rockets are fairly settled, though you know Daryl Morey is just itching to pick up a phone and start transacting once the lockout's over.

Indiana Pacers: The Pacers have a number of expiring deals and aren't likely looking to re-sign them (maybe Josh McRoberts, maybe Jeff Foster). Larry Bird has been hunting more pieces to add to his mediocre roster for a while and you can be sure the Pacers are going to target some of the bigger free agent names in this class.

Los Angeles Clippers: Eric Gordon is ready for an extension, but the Clippers better be ready to match any offer DeAndre Jordan gets. You might not think that's a big deal, but forget Chris Kaman. The future of the Clips frontcourt is Blake Griffin and Jordan. You seven-footer from Texas A&M finally started figuring himself out a little last season and he's not far off from becoming a major defensive impact player.

Los Angeles Lakers: Shannon Brown's unrestricted, but he's really not that much of an impact player to be that concerned with. The Lakers might have to focus on how to re-structure the roster to suit a new CBA that could greatly cut into their total salary. Will they have to move Lamar Odom? Metta World Peace? But first things first: Giving Kobe and Mike Brown a proper introduction and letting them figure out the direction of the offense.

Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol. That's it for Memphis. It'd be nice to get Shane Battier back, but it's all about Gasol.

Miami Heat: It's kind of been overlooked, but Pat Riley and the Heat have a busy couple weeks waiting on them. Mike Bibby, Jamaal Magloire, Juwan Howard, Erick Dampier and James Jones are all unrestricted and Mario Chalmers is restricted. It's decision time for the Heat. Do they start restocking with veteran talent or look to get younger and develop?

Milwaukee Bucks: That first practice in Milwaukee is something Scott Skiles has probably been thinking about for a while. "Brandon, this is Stephen. Stephen, this is Brandon." The Bucks have some new talent as Stephen Jackson joins Brandon Jennings, but how will they get along?

Minnesota Timberwolves: Here's what David Kahn's to-do list looks like: 1) Hug Ricky. 2) Hug Darko. 3) Overpay a questionable free agent at a position you already have three guys. What it should look like: 1) Convince Kevin Love somehow to sign an extension. 2) Get rid of Michael Beasley and let Derrick Williams have the starting small forward spot all to himself. 3) Tell Rick Adelman to do his thing.

New Jersey Nets: Kris Humphies is an important piece of business but his re-signing goes hand in hand with the larger thing: Proving to Deron Williams that this is a place he wants to re-sign. The Nets have to take advantage right away of showing Williams they're serious about winning. And you do that by getting him some immediate help.

New Orleans Hornets: It's all about David West for the Hornets. Yes, he suffered a major knee injury last season. But he chose to become an unrestricted free agent and a team like the Nets is likely to come calling quickly. Can the Hornets hang on to Chris Paul's buddy?

New York Knicks: The Knicks have a little bit coming off the books but really they need to try and resist the urge to do something drastic in this free agency period. Which they will because of the big names coming up in 2012. Still, they want to field a solid team for this season -- and Mike D'Antoni needs them too -- so adding a quality veteran to help on the inside would be good.

Oklahoma City Thunder: The young Thunder roster is pretty much entirely set up. But Sam Presti has something to do right away once the lockout ends -- get Russell Westbrook his extension. Presti brought Kevin Durant his at midnight last July to make sure there was no doubt about locking up his superstar. Presti better be stalking Westbrook's house on the whim he lockout ends so he can extend the same treatment to his other star.

Orlando Magic: First order of business for Otis Smith and the Magic? Resume begging Dwight Howard to stay. One way to show it would be to get him some help, but Smith sort of laid those cards on the table last year in the Gilbert Arenas/Hedo Turkoglu trade. So it's back to convincing Howard there's a plan for the future and that it'll get better.

Philadelphia 76ers: Someone is ready and willing to give Thaddeus Young a serious offer, so the Sixers better be ready to match anything and everything.

Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash's trade value will be highest at the beginning of the season, so it's up to Lance Blanks and Robert Sarver to figure out if they're ready to move on. Aaron Brooks is a restricted free agent so if the Suns lock him up by matching an offer sheet, that'll be an indication that the Suns are preparing for life without Nash.

Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers are in love with Nicolas Batum, so extending him could be the first order of business, but really, the Blazers need to find a new general manager first. And whoever that guy is needs to decide that if for the off chance someone gives Greg Oden an offer, if he's willing to match. Oden already has an $8.8 qualifying offer, which is huge, so once Oden signs that, he'll likely be signing with the Blazers for another year.

Sacramento Kings: The Jimmer-Tyreke backcourt is going to be an interesting experiment, but Marcus Thornton is quietly one of the more intriguing free agents out there. The Bulls are likely looking at him long and hard right now. He's restricted, so the Kings could keep him, but the question is, with Tyreke moving off the ball for good and Jimmer handling the point, is it worth paying Thornton to just have him come off the bench?

San Antonio Spurs: Um, I guess just resume the typical day-to-day of the Spurs. Gregg Popovich is the longest tenured coach with a team and R.C. Buford probably isn't looking to go do anything drastic in this market. The Spurs are definitely aging, but there's not a lot to be done about that right now.

Toronto Raptors: Assuming the Raptors actually have Jonas Valanciunas for next season, Dwane Casey and company have to figure out if he's ready to cover for Andrea Bargnani on the inside. Can those two really play together and handle enough rebounding and defensive duties? The Raptors are in a place where they have to wait and see with some young players and aren't likely targeting any big names in the open market.

Utah Jazz: Most likely, Andrei Kirilenko won't be re-signing with the Jazz. So Kevin O'Connor will have to make a choice when the lockout's over: Does he try and restock a roster that can maybe squeak out the eight-seed, or does he commit to rebuilding around Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and others and just let them play it out? The Jazz would love to get some wing scoring help, so O'Connor will probably at least look that direction, but we'll have to see how serious he is.

Washington Wizards: It's not an earth-shattering decision, but Nick Young is a restricted free agent. And with his scoring ability, someone is ready to pay him. Do the Wizards want to keep him? Do they want to look elsewhere and maybe target say, Marcus Thornton? Or do they just let Young walk and see what Jordan Crawford's got?
Posted on: September 16, 2011 12:57 am
Edited on: September 16, 2011 1:16 am
 

Las Vegas 'Lockout League' Week 1 notebook

Posted by Ben Golliver

impact-basketball

Thursday night marked the end of Week 1 of the Las Vegas "Lockout League" at Impact Basketball. The fourth day of games was probably the week's most spirited, with some new faces upping the talent level and some technical fouls and trash talk livening up the week-long basketball marathon. Here's a quick look back at the week that was and a recap of the day's highlights.

Telfair eyes contender

At 26, Sebastian Telfair is now a decade removed from being one of the most hyped high school players of all time. His superstar trajectory never materiaized;  Telfair just concluded his seventh NBA season, has yet to make a single playoff appearance and has only played in more than 60 games once in the last four years. A free agent, Telfair hopes all that changes next season.

"I sure do have a list of teams in my mind," Telfair said. "Those teams being one of the teams to make a run for a championship or the teams that are fighting every year for a championship. Seeing Dallas win a championship, congratulations to them, but I'm jealous. I'm extremely jealous. Dallas is definitely on my list. They've got the gold right now. It's not a bad thing in this league to want to go where the gold is. If you can compete and help the team win a championship, that's one of the main focuses in the NBA.

Aside from the Mavericks, Telfair clammed up a little bit as to who was on his radar. "The obvious teams," he finally allowed. "I won't say any teams in particular, but the obvious teams."

Asked what he would bring to a championship contender at this stage of his career, Telfair didn't hesitate or elaborate: "I bring myself. I bring Sebastian Telfair."

Dudley addresses low turnout 

As noted earlier Thursday, only 35 to 40 players attended the National Basketball Players Association regional meeting at the Vdara Hotel. That was roughly half of estimates offered earlier in the week. Phoenix Suns guard Jared Dudley said people shouldn't rush to conclude that the low turnout number represents dissension, disinterest or disunity among the players.

"To me, does it matter? You can spin it that way. At the end of the day, I wasn't in a couple of the meetings in New York. Does that mean I'm not unified? I think that would be wrong to write that. At the end of the day, we all have to write papers, we all have to write stuff."

Modest, but worthwhile, improvements

There is plenty of good news for those considering checking out the "Lockout League" play next week. First, there are plenty of tickets available. Second, Impact Basketball has shown itself to be very flexible in making improvements to the series.

On Thursday, Impact added an in-game emcee to help narrate the action. This is a particularly fan-friendly addition because the players are playing in jerseys that do not bear their names and sometimes rotate from team to team throughout the week. There's also no large scoreboard or video replay, so it can get a bit confusing keeping track of everyone, especially for the non-diehards. Many of the players in attendance are not particularly recognizable or well-known, either, so the emcee was a thoughtful improvement. 

On Wednesday, Impact also cut back from four games per day to three games per day. While you might think at first that this would be less basketball for your money, the move actually improved the games considerably. Less was more here. The change allowed the games to be standardized to 10-minute quarters and rosters were condensed so that each team had seven or eight players instead of the five-a-side that was the norm during the four games per day earlier in the week. That meant each player could go harder, each guy could get breathers if necessary and the threat of a single injury stopping play was no longer a problem. Perhaps most importantly, it cut down on the total number of hours a fan would need to devote to seeing all the best players play. Instead of being in the gym from 1:30 p.m.to 9:30 p.m., fans could leave closer to 7:30 p.m. 

The new presence of bigger-name players like Al Harrington, Stephen Curry and Rudy Gay (who watched from the sideline) on Thursday didn't hurt either.

Hijinks 

In this no-frills environment there was bound to be edgier player behavior. Profanity from the court and from the pre-game soundtrack was the norm at Impact; the sterilization that you find at the NBA in that regard was not present. 

With only a few exceptions, the players, who were not forced by anyone to conduct interviews or interact with media or fans, were thoughtful and kind on and off the court. Of course, the exceptions are far more entertaining than the rule, so here are a few highlights.

Melvin Ely, who is reportedly heading to China, crumpled to the ground after taking a blow to his face. In some fairly serious pain, Ely was escorted to a training area away from the court, where he was attended to by medical personnel. On his way there, though, he took a quick detour to upend a large gatorade bucket in frustration, crashing the contents behind one of the team's benches. Players chuckled and media members raised their eyebrows.

On Thursday, Denver Nuggets forward Al Harrington made his debut with a bang, earning two technical fouls in one game for disputing calls. The first time, he merely shouted at one of the referees; the second time, he chucked a ball so far off the court it hit a brick wall some 20 or 30 feet behind one of the baskets. Harrington was not ejected after receiving his second technical, although free throws were awarded on both violations.

The best trash talk exchange of the week occurred on Thursday, when Indiana Pacers forward Dahntay Jones and Detroit Pistons forward Austin Daye got into an entertaining back-and-forth. Jones, as you might expect, was the Impact Basketball king of the hard foul, sending player after player crashing to the hardwood in an effort to prevent lay-ups. He also was quick to chat too.

Daye found himself arguing a call while waiting to rebound a free throw attempt. Jones, who was in the backcourt, piped up to let Daye know that he was "soft" and that he should end his argument. Daye, an exceptionally skinny man for an NBA player, took real exception to Jones' label, raising his arms up to gesture towards the media section located behind the basket.

"You've got the worst game in here, ask any of them," Daye told Jones twice. Jones responded by mocking Daye's arm motions and sarcastically mimicking his aggravated tone. Play eventually resumed. 

'When you work out with guys for three or four months," Dudley explained, "they get under your skin. You're tired, you want to go home."

Top scorer

Houston Rockets guard Kyle Lowry had the high point scoring game of the week, notching 56 points in a heated Thursday contest.
 
Team play

Probably the most entertaining team to watch was a late-arriving Golden State Warriors crew that made its debut on Thursday. Curry, David Lee, Jeremy Lin, Ekpe Udoh, Jeremy Tyler, Klay Thompson, Lou Amundson, Charles Jenkins and Dorell Wright all got some run in. There were so many Warriors they actually had to be split up into two squads. What was great about Golden State was that you could see real chemistry at work rather than the slapped together teamwork that you usually see in summer exhibitions. Lots of communication and instruction. Lee hollered across the court at Lin, instructing him to stay in the weakside corner and serve as an outlet whenever he drew interior defenders on a drive. Thompson got a feel for establishing an inside-outside game with Lee, and lit it up from deep, draining jumper after jumper. 

Undersized Thomas feels he has a leg up 

Of the incoming rookie class of 2011, Isaiah Thomas, the draft's final pick by the Sacramento Kings, stood out for how comfortable he looked against more seasoned competition. Thomas is an undersized scoring guard who will struggle to defend at the NBA level. But he's also exceedingly quick, confident and able to create his own shot, a nice combination for a reserve, change of pace guard.

Thomas said he fit in right away at Impact because of his previous experience playing against professional players in Seattle, where he attended the University of Washington. 

"It's a blessing because not everybody in my position has that [experience]," Thomas said. "We've got guys like Brandon Roy, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson and the list goes on. Jason Terry. They really look out for the younger guys, the guy like Brandon Roy is such a great guy, he gives me input before games, after games, even when we workout together up in Seattle. He's a great guy and I learn from things like that.

He said he feels like he has a leg up on many other rookies in his position, both on and off the court, because of that guidance.

"It makes the transition smoother. Every guy up in Seattle has been through the situation I'm about to go through, but in different ways. If I can ask them about practice is going, what to expect, what's the business side of things. They all got different input, I take that all in. They are just trying to help, they are never going to steer me in the wrong direction."

As the last man selected in the draft and with a nonguaranteed contract likely in his future, Thomas realizes he will have to get in where he fits in with the Kings. "Play hard, play every possession like it's my last," Thomas explained. "Do whatever that want me to do. Score, get others involved, get on loose balls, play defense, I just want to play. After the draft, the Kings said, 'Keep doing what you're doing. We're excited when the time comes.'"
Posted on: September 6, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 7:38 pm
 

Pistons name ex-Dodgers exec Mannion as president

Posted by Ben Golliver

detroit-pistons

Rebuilding an NBA franchise takes creativity in all facets of the operation, and that's doubly true for a rebuilding team that is under new ownership like the Detroit Pistons. Owner Tom Gores must be creative in implementing new policies, procedures and personnel while building a rapport with the incumbent staff. Management must be creative in retooling a depleted, mish-mashed roster stocked with malcontents. New coach Lawrence France will need to be creative in developing younger players like Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe. And, of course, the organization as a whole will need to get super creative in finding new ways to get fans to show up to games. 

That last issue -- ticket sales -- is particularly important in Detroit, a city ravaged by the economic downtown. The Pistons averaged more than 16,600 fans per home game last year, just below league average, but they played to just 75.5 percent capacity, third worst in the NBA. That's a lot of empty seats, and those empty seats reflect an opportunity for new ideas to increase revenue.
 
To that end, Gores announced on Tuesday that the Pistons have appointed long-time sports executive Dennis Mannion as the team's new president. 
Mannion, 52, will oversee all Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports & Entertainment business operations, including sales, marketing, finance and administration. Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars will continue to oversee all basketball operations.

Mannion brings a broad and unique perspective, having spent 29 seasons working in four major professional sports, including two years managing business operations for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche from 1998 to 1999. Mannion most recently served as President of the Los Angeles Dodgers where he worked from 2007 to 2010. He also previously worked for the Baltimore Ravens from 1999 to 2007, and for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1982 to 1997.

“Detroit is an incredible sports and entertainment town and I am honored by this opportunity,” said Mannion. “I look forward to working with the Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports & Entertainment team, our corporate partners and the community to build on the legacy of this great organization. We will do everything we can to provide the best, most exciting experience possible for everyone that comes out to see a game or a show.”
If you're a Pistons fan, you haven't had much to cheer for in recent years. There was a player-led refusal to show up to practice, verbal sparring matches between veterans and former coach John Kuester, and two trips in a row to the NBA Draft lottery, with a third trip likely next season.

Considering those factors it's clear that Mannion will be tasked with giving fans something to get excited about, at the games.
“Dennis is very well qualified and will bring a fresh perspective to the organization,” said Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports & Entertainment owner Tom Gores. “He is an innovative guy and he shares our vision of creating the best possible experience for our fans. He also shares our core values of hard work and commitment to the community. Dennis knows what it takes to succeed at a high level and we are excited to have him on board.”

In Los Angeles, Mannion’s marketing initiatives and efforts to improve the game day experience helped the Dodgers lead Major League Baseball in paid attendance in 2009 for the first time since 1986. He also created the Dodgers Sports Lab, an in-house production facility and staff that generates content for all of the team’s game broadcasts, motion graphics and video, online content and printed materials.
Improving the game experience has been a mantra for a number of new owners, including the Golden State Warriors, who recently pledged to make adjustments to the lighting and music at their games with an eye towards keeping fans engaged and happy.

It's a totally logical move, especially for those teams with issues at the gate. There is no easier way to increase revenue and improve a team's bottom line than by selling more tickets. Sometimes the on-court product alone isn't enough to get that done. Exploring every other possibility is the mark of a forward-thinking, outside-the-box management team.

If you're a fan, you not only want an executive that is catering to your needs but you want your team's ownership to seek out executives with experience and success doing just that. It seems like the Gores' Pistons have done that with this hire. Which is important, because you can't put lipstick on Charlie Villanueva's terrible contract.
Posted on: September 5, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

Posted by Royce Young



Conference realignment has sort of taken over the world the past few weeks. Texas A&M pretty much put the nail in the coffin for the Big 12 by bolting for the SEC and because of it, a whole new chain of events have tipped over. The landscape of college football could look a whole lot different in a few months. Or in a few weeks. Or even tomorrow.

But you know what else could use a little realigning? The NBA's divisions. They're kind of a mess. It's not going to be as a result of some $300 million network, recruiting ties or competitive advantages. Nope. For the NBA, it's more just about common sense. Geographically, the divisions are kind of a mess. In 2011 that's not as huge a deal as it was in 1981 because travel is much easier. You can go from Portland to Oklahoma City in just a few hours.

However, chartered travel is experience. Fuel is very pricey. And with the NBA and teams supposedly losing so much money, why not exhaust every option to cut costs and realign the divisions so they make a lot more sense? Why not group teams together that are hundreds, not thousands, of miles apart?

Plus, it just makes a lot more sense to have structured regions. Grouping teams together based on geography does more to forge rivalries, gives fans a chance to commute between games if the want to and gives the players less travel and more days of rest. All good, right?

So if you're going to spend all this time restructuring a new collective bargaining agreement, why not fix the divisions too? Here's how they should look:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

SOUTHWEST
Dallas
San Antonio
Houston
Phoenix
Oklahoma City

The NBA's new Southwest division is the American League East, the SEC West, of the league. It's a group of five teams that are all pretty good. Things change though and in 15 years, this could be the weakest division in the league. But for now, it'd be pretty good.

And it just makes sense. Dallas and Oklahoma City are about three hours via car away from each other. San Antonio, Dallas and Houston are in the same state. And OKC and the Texas teams and Phoenix just have one state separating them, which is a whole lot better than five.

MIDWEST
Memphis
Minnesota
Denver
Utah
Milwaukee

Clearly the division that needed the biggest overhaul is the Northwest, mainly because of the Sonics transformation into the Oklahoma City Thunder. When the team was in Seattle, the division made a lot more sense. Now it doesn't. That's why a midwestern division with makes a lot more sense.

That creates somewhat of a problem in the Northwest though. There's not a great fit. So for the sake of the argument, the Northwest has to make the Big 12 and peace out. No more Northwest, but instead the new Midwest.

The new Midwest is still a bit spread out, but all the teams are at least located somewhat centrally in the country. A trip from Utah to Milwaukee won't be quick, but the Jazz, Nuggets and Timerwolves have been oddballs in the Northwest. It's not an ideal division with teams right next door to each other, but it makes a lot more sense than the current setup.

PACIFIC
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers
Sacramento
Golden State
Portland

Moving Phoenix away from the Lakers is a bummer, because those two teams are historical rivals that have always competed in the same division. But if A&M and Texas can separate, I think we can live with the Suns and Lakers moving apart.

The Pacific now features five teams that are actually next to the Pacific Ocean, which seems like it should count for something. Plus having the Blazers and Lakers together makes up for separating the Suns and Lakers.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

CENTRAL
Chicago
Detroit
Indiana
Cleveland
Toronto

Really, the new Central was the inspiration for this. Why aren't the Raptors in this division? Look at how close those teams are to each other. I think you could almost ride your bike between arenas. The old Central was really good too -- maybe better -- but the Bucks have to move. So it's the Raptors who replace them and the solid geographic setup remains.

ATLANTIC
Boston
New York
Philadelphia
Washington
New Jersey

Nothing too radical here. Five cities that you can transport between using a train. Old rivalries are preserved and the Wizards are added, which frankly, makes a lot of sense.

SOUTHEAST
Miami
Orlando
Atlanta
Charlotte
New Orleans

Two teams would swap conferences with the Bucks moving back to the West and the Hornets heading to the East. Not that this would upset the competitive balance of the league or anything, but it just makes a lot more sense for the Hornets to be placed in a division with Orlando, Charlotte, Atlanta and Miami.

And let me add this: If college football has no issue tossing tradition and historical rivalries out the window, why not just eliminate conferences all together? It would be a radical move, but what's the point of the East and West, other than just that's the structure of the playoffs? If it were one unified "super" conference, that would finally solve the issues of a 50-win Western team missing the postseason while a 37-win Eastern team slips into the eight-seed.

You could even just build the league into three 10-team divisions. Combine the Southwest and the Pacific, the Midwest and the Central, and the Atlantic and the Southeast. There are your super-divisions. Now you can keep teams playing more in their division than anything else and cut down on long road trips. It would make a West coast road trip for the Mavericks a whole heck of a lot more interesting.

Basically, we'd be looking at a league with three sub-conferences and once the playoffs started, seeding would just be based from that. Almost like the NCAA tournament, you could set two regions and seed from there. Head-to-head tiebreakers, division records and all that stuff would separate any identical records. Just an idea while we're brainstorming, you know?

(Note: I don't really love that idea, quite honestly. But I was just throwing it out there. One of those things that probably makes sense, but wouldn't ever happen. Much like Bill Simmons' terrific "Entertaining As Hell Tournament." Really, a unified conference makes it easier to implicate the tournament too.)

Let's face it: The West has kind of sort of dominated the past decade. Sports operate in cycles, but if there's a way to prevent that, should we? The West compiled a record of 2,257-1,643 against the East from 1999-2008 and over the last 13 seasons has represented 10 champions. That's pretty dominant. That'll change eventually, but what really is the point of the conferences, other than the standard, "that's just the way it's always been done" answer? 

All that is after the fact though: Divisional realignment is the start. Fixing the structure of the postseason would be the ideal next step. It's kind of like a plus-one for college football. Maybe a pipe dream, but something that's really in the best interest of the game. But if anything's to be done, it's to realign the divisions so they at least make a little more sense. Preserve rivalires, start new ones, save money, cut down on travel and hopefully, help the league grow a little bit more.

Picture via Jockpost
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com