Tag:Atlanta Hawks
Posted on: January 5, 2012 11:01 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 8:50 pm
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Was Barkley Weight Watchers 'scam' crack a joke?

Posted by Ben Golliver.

The man once known by the nickname "The Round Mound Of Rebound" has been waging a very public battle against his waistline. As a celebrity endorser of Weight Watchers, NBA Hall of Famer and TNT commentator Charles Barkley has sung the weight loss program's virtues during a nationally-televised ad campaign.

Caught on a live microphone during the first quarter of Thursday night's Miami Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks broadcast, though, Barkley offered a different take, calling the money he earns from the endorsement a "scam" while joking with Reggie Miller and Kevin Harlan off the air. In fairness, he was comparing it to the relatively easy money he makes as an NBA analyst.

"I have to lose two pounds a week. I'm at 38 pounds now. They come and weigh me every two weeks. I've never missed a weigh-in. I'm never going to," Barkley begins. "I'm feeling much better. But I ain't giving away no money. ... I'm not giving away no free money. I thought this was the greatest scam going -- getting paid to watch sports -- but this Weight Watchers thing is a bigger scam."

His endorsement deal wasn't the only topic during Barkley's unflitered commentary. "I can't stand to watch this Atlanta Hawks team," he admitted. "The Hawks have nothing but a bunch of nice guys."

Update (4:55 p.m.): On Friday, a PR firm representing WeightWatchers issued statements on behalf of the company and Barkley.

"We love Charles for the same reason everyone loves Charles, he's unfiltered," Weight Watchers' statement read. "We are thrilled that he is having great success and inspiring millions of men to join him. We agree that being a spokesman for Weight Watchers is a pretty great gig.”

"I meant what I said, the fact that I’m dropping pounds, getting healthier and getting paid at the same time, is my definition of a great scam," Barkley's statement read. "The only problem is I’m going to have to use some of the money to buy a new wardrobe."

Here's the video of Barkley's frank talk via YouTube user giveittome15. Hat tip: @JESkeets



Posted on: January 3, 2012 2:37 pm
 

NBA Power Rankings: Breakdown, Takedown Vol. 3

Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver

durant-pull-up

The 2011-2012 NBA season has officially entered 2012. With that comes the third installment of CBSSports.com's NBA Power Rankings by Eye On Basketball's Matt Moore.

What did he get right? What did he get wrong? We're here to break it down and take it down.

1. Too High: Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 1. This week's Power Rankings made it through exactly zero spots before being completely wrong. Both Oklahoma City and Miami have one loss. OKC's loss is to the four-loss Dallas Mavericks, ranked No. 19 this week (No. 29 last week, don't think we forgot about that). Miami's loss was to one-loss Atlanta, ranked No. 4 this week. Sure, Miami lost to the Hawks at home, but they also did exactly what OKC couldn't: beat Dallas in Dallas, thumping the Mavericks on Christmas Day. OKC is dealing with reports of teammate-on-teammate verbal violence while Miami is humming along like a group of really, really athletic Boy Scouts. This one is indefensible. -- BG

2. Too Low: Miami Heat at No. 2. Let's be clear: the Heat are not infallible. A Dwyane Wade foot injury and an awful 4-for-17 shooting night against the Hawks provide some consternation. But the body of work is absolutely there. The Heat are No. 4 in offensive efficiency and No. 9 in defensive efficiency, a ranking sure to rise. As it stands, both rankings are better than the Thunder. Pick an advanced statistic -- rebounding rate, true shooting percentage, turnover percentage and assist rate -- and Miami is better than Oklahoma City. South Florida, stand up. For the first time in years I have your back. -- BG

3. Most Overrated: Atlanta Hawks at No. 4. They beat the Heat. Good for them. No seriously, good for them. But are the Hawks really a top four team? The same Hawks team that did virtually nothing except add Tracy McGrady and lose Jamal Crawford in the offseason. Let's keep our heads here on the Hawks. They're the same old Hawks that are just good enough to keep our attention but not quite good enough to actually be in the conversation. -- RY

4. Most Overlooked: Chicago Bulls at No. 3. The lively debate over the No. 1 spot didn't include Chicago, and it probably should have. It's hard to be overlooked at No. 3 but I'd argue that's the case. Derrrick Rose had about as good of a game as you can have last Friday against Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers, and it barely made waves, lost in the New Year's celebration. Chicago has been winning ugly and they didn't drop jaws throughout their Christmas Day victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in the same manner that Miami and Oklahoma City did. They're still smarting from that first impression a bit. With a 3-1 West coast road trip, they had the toughest schedule of the top-3 teams and they handled it in typically professional style. Look for Chicago to remain at No. 3 or higher for the foreseeable future. -- BG

5. Sure Thing: Washington Wizards at No. 30. Holy crap, they are so bad. Monday's game in Boston was finally somewhat competitive, but it's simple: John Wall has to be excellent if the Wizards are going to compete. Right now, he's playing average basketball. With Nick Young, JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche and whoever else running with Wall, that roster isn't good enough to win unless Wall takes them to a higher level. They are the NBA's worst and there isn't a doubt about it. -- RY

6. Wild Card: San Antonio Spurs at No. 10. The Spurs came out of the gates working people over like their old selves. They looked to be well on their way to another year of everyone doubting them while they just owned the West. Except after a dominant 2-0 start, the Spurs have dropped games to Houston and the Wolves, while not being all that competitive in either games. Plus, Manu Ginobili broke his hands. The Spurs could be a top five team, but they could also fall way past that. -- RY
Posted on: January 3, 2012 2:34 pm
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Posted on: January 2, 2012 11:03 pm
 

Report Card: Hawks fly over the Heat

Posted by Royce Young


A: Atlanta Hawks

It's easy to overlook the boring old Hawks when talking about the class of the East. But remember: That team went to the Easter semifinals and gave the Bulls a decent run. Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford -- there's talent there. And while we all may want to forget about them and talk about the Heat, Knicks and Celtics, the Hawks aren't some team to take lightly in the East. They sent a pretty clear message by outscoring Miami 33-21 in the fourth while executing halfcourt possessions and holding the Heat's big three in check.

A: Minnesota Timberwolves

Dating back to last season, the Wolves had lost 18 straight games, including their 0-3 start. But with a win over the Spurs, the Wolves have just taken two in a row. Luke Ridnour showed Ricky Rubio that the starting job isn't his yet (nine assists), Kevin Love was terrific and the Wolves handled the Spurs with pretty much no problem. Minnesota's 2-3 on the season with two really tough losses to Oklahoma City and Miami. Not far off from being 4-1.

B: Dwyane Wade's block

Sometimes Dwyane Wade does stupidly incredible things. His block on Vladamir Radmonovic was one of these such things. Why only a B? Well, it came in a losing effort and let's keep in mind, Wade denied Vladamir Radmonovic at the rim.

B: 2003

Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter turned back the clock Monday. McGrady put together a big night for the Hawks with 16 points in a win over the Heat and Carter added 14 against the Thunder for the Mavericks off the bench. The cousins were doing work on the same night for the first time in... well, a while.

C: Boston Celtics

Boston got back to .500 with a home win over the Wizards, but it wasn't easy. It took a big fourth quarter to put away Washington and the Celtics actually trailed with six minutes left. It's a win, which is what's important, but it wasn't exactly an impressive performance against an overmatched team.

D: Miami Heat

The Hawks aren't terrible. So if you want to openly mock the Heat for losing their first game, keep in mind the Hawks are a playoff team with some good players. However, Miami's offense went completely stale, the Heat never tried to run and with everything shut down in the fourth, neither LeBron nor Wade tried to go to work on the block. Which I thought was the plan, right? Miami wasn't going to go 66-0, but this was a decent wake up call.

F: Flip Saunders

The embattled Wizards coach didn't get to watch his team for long against the Celtics as he picked up two technicals and was ejected in the first quarter.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: December 30, 2011 11:53 am
 

Report: Magic pursuing 'rental' team for Howard

By Matt Moore

Dwight Howard is expected to be traded to the perfect spot. It'll be a team he wants to play for, since that team is the only kind he'll re-sign with this summer in free agency. It has to be a contender, or potential contender (as in the case of the Nets with Deron Williams), and a major market so he can get all the media and commercial love he desires. That's pretty clear. But the Orlando Sentinel reports that the Magic are pursuing another option. The rental game. 

 
The Magic are talking to more teams than the ones on Dwight Howard's wish list.

They will listen to anybody who is willing to take a risk and give up a few good men for Howard if he can lead them to the NBA Finals as a temp.

It's another reason why they will wait until the March 15 deadline to make a deal for Howard, after he's played 44 games in Orlando. His new team would land him for 22 games, plus the postseason.

Far-fetched?

Absolutely. Sounds more like a means to put pressure on the teams that Howard has approved (Nets, Mavericks, Lakers).

But the Magic think some teams might take a flyer, hoping they can convince Howard to re-sign with them.
via Orlando Magic: Magic to explore renting out Dwight Howard - OrlandoSentinel.com.

No one would be crazy enough to do this, right? To actually give up assets in order to nab Howard for 22 games and the playoffs, before he likely leaves? Well, there should be. That's right. I'm advocating insanity. That's how I roll.

Two factors to consider if you're in the hunt for a Dwight rental.

1. You have to move contracts that have considerable money behind them. The reason being, if Dwight doesn't re-sign, you don't want to be left without the pieces you traded, without Dwight, and a large salary situation. You're basically angling for a rebuilding. Part of the complication here is the Magic will want to dump Hedo Turkoglu or other components with salary burden. But the Magic have to know that to get back more talent like they reportedly want, they can't dump salary too in a rental situation. So why would the trading team risk rebuilding? 

2.  Because the odds of a title is worth it. Consider the Pacers. If you're Larry Bird, what are you really trying to accomplish, honestly? You want to make a good strong showing in the playoffs, maybe get hot and uspet some folks on the way to the eastern Conference Finals, to try and be in position to make one big move to get you over the hump and win the title in a wacky year. You know you're not going to be able to compete with Miami, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, Chicago etc. every year. You're hoping to pull off a Pistons-esque title. The same goes for any team considering a rental. So if you're angling for one title, anyway, why not take your shot with the best defensive player in the league, an MVP candidate for 22 games and the playoffs. 

That's the reasoning. You also have to establish how long it will take you to get back to being decent, since you have to factor how much winning a title will bring you financially versus two-to-three years of rebuilding will hurt you. And then you have to measure that against your actual odds of winning the title this season.

All of this leads to the reality that the chances are not good. You're asking GM's and owners to take a phenomenal risk with a devastating loss if they miss, and the payoff might not even be that good. Are several years of second round appearances better financially than a title and two years of lottery dwelling?

There's no list available of teams that might be interested, but here are five teams who should consider making the jump.  

Indiana Pacers: As I mentioned earlier, the Pacers should be a team willing to make the move. Larry Bird doesn't want to do this forever. Getting Dwight gives them a chance to win the title this season, instead of waiting for years and years and years potentially without any payoff. The Pacers are deep enough to offer the Magic an option plan. Darren Collison or George Hill, Danny Granger or Paul George, and Roy Hibbert (youth, talent) vs. Jeff Foster (expiring contract, veteran experience).  That's a great package and still leaves the Pacers with whoever the Magic don't take, along with David West for scoring. 

Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks have been involved in talks this week with the Magic anyway, according to ESPN. Offering to move Josh Smith or Al Horford along with Joe Johnson puts the Magic in a great position to keep making the playoffs. The Hawks would have Jeff Teague, Kirk Hinrich, and either Smith or Horford to pair with Howard to try and make a run. With Howard having been born in Atlanta, it's got some pull and a good run might talk him into it. Not really, but sure. The biggest objection from Magic fans is that the Magic would never take on Joe Johnson's contract. But this is Otis Smith who took on Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu in one year to try and win. Meanwhile, Johnson is an All-Star, and still is an above-average-to-pretty-good player at both ends without injury issues. 

Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies may wind up moving Rudy Gay anyway if this season keeps up and they have to make a move. The Grizzlies need frontcourt depth. So get Dwight Howard! Genius! OK,it's a long shot, but if moving Gay, Sam Young or O.J. Mayo, and either Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph brings in Howard, that could make the  Grizzlies the best team in the West. They'd have defense and the best low-post-scoring combo in the league. Memphis is unlikely to be able to stay in contention for several years. Why not take the shot now?

Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers have youth, Andre Igoudala as a centerpiece, and a full compliment of picks to add in. The team would be mortgaging the long-term value they've been angling for, but coach Doug Collins has also said that eventually they want to aim to bring in a star. Make a run with Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Elton Brand, and Howard, and if it doesn't work out, move towards the future.

Portland Trail Blazers: Paul Allen wants to avoid the luxury tax. What better way to do that than by trading for Howard's expiring contract? OK, kidding aside, the Blazers are so loaded, they can move Wesley Matthews and either LaMarcus Aldridge or Gerald Wallace. The remaining lineup would be good enough to challenge for the West.

Are any of these teams going to take the risk? No. Because this is not a league of gambling like this. The repercussions for failure would be catastrophic. But if a team really was all about winning a title, renting Howard for 22 games and the playoffs would be the boldest move possible.
Posted on: December 28, 2011 12:13 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 1:53 am
 

Report: Magic don't want to rebuild after Howard



By Matt Moore


There is a fairly established path to rebuilding. When a team is forced to start over, the way back to contention is to trade the biggest star along with a salary dump for as many young players and draft picks as possible. Then you rebuild through the draft using the picks you acquired and your own picks, which are high on account of you being terrible. This is a fairly proven formula, with the Blazers having had success before injuries wrecked them, and the Thunder currently a Finals contender with that model.

Which is why today's report from ESPN.com should be concerning for Magic's fans and is confusing for the rest of us. From ESPN:
Sources familiar with Orlando's thinking say that a picture of what the Magic will ultimately expect in return for their anchor has indeed begun to emerge, telling ESPN.com this week that Orlando would not hold out for youth and draft picks as the league-owned New Orleans Hornets were ordered to do in the Chris Paul sweepstakes. The Magic, sources say, would instead prefer to bring back multiple established veterans who can keep the team competitive.

Reason being: Orlando has moved into a new arena last season and has a 85-year-old owner in Rich De Vos. Sources say De Vos has little interest in starting over/rebuilding, as evidenced by the recent decisions to trade for Glen "Big Baby" Davis and re-sign Jason Richardson even though Howard's future is so murky.
via What will Magic want for Dwight? - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN. So the Magic are looking at that well-established path back to contention... and wanting to do the exact opposite. The problem is that the Magic would not and cannot get anything back that is comparable to Howard, so they'd be looking at either an aging star, or someone overpaid. Which means problems for the Magic in a few years when those contracts get larger and the talent isn't there. It seems like a cash grab for tickets in order to make casual fans go to games instead of really building towards a championship which perennial season ticket holders and long-term fans would want.

There are several repercussions if this report is accurate.

1. It puts the Lakers squarely in the lead for Howard. If you want established All-Star-level players, the Lakers have them. A package of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, which the Lakers insist they will not send for Howard, would fit this bill exactly. Even if they won't trade those two for Howard directly, the best scenario might be to bring Houston back into talks similar to what they were working on in the vetoed Chris Paul trade. That could net the Lakers a suitable replacement for Gasol in terms of firepower, provide Orlando with an All-Star power forward (Gasol) and the Rockets a franchise center of the future. Either way, if it's stars the Magic wants, the Lakers have them.

2. It severely damages the Nets' approach. Already missing their best trade chip in Brook Lopez due to a broken bone in the foot, the Nets have reportedly been dangling as many as five first-round picks for Howard. If the Magic want legitimate players, the Nets don't have any outside of Deron Williams. Their next best chip, Kris Humphries, cannot be traded until March due to his contract. If the Magic are serious about continuing to contend for the playoffs, the Nets can kiss their chances at Howard goodbye. In related news, the Nets were wiped off the map by the Hawks last night.

3. Speaking of the Hawks, ESPN says the Hawks have made offers regarding a possible trade of Joe Johnson and Josh Smith for Howard. This would be a genius move by Atlanta, even if Howard doesn't re-commit to signing there. You make one playoff run, clear Joe Johnson's cap-killing contract, and if Howard decides to leave, you've got cap space to rebuild with behind Jeff Teague and Al Horford. The immediate question mark is if the Magic would be willing to take on Joe Johnson's contract. Remember, if the Hawks want All-Stars, they have to take on big contracts, and Johnson's a multiple-time All-Star, even if his notoriety isn't on part with that accomplishment. Also keep in mind that Otis Smith traded for Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu last season. Big bad contracts do not scare the man. Still, the Haws are clearly on the outside of this race.

The Magic should be following the same pattern New Orleans did with the trade it actually pulled off. There's a reason the league vetoed the Chris Paul trade offer form the Lakers, and it wasn't because they all of a sudden hate their most popular team. It's because adding big contracts for lesser stars only compounds your situation and sticks you in NBA purgatory: late playoff seeds leading to first-round exits and no traction. That hurts every facet, competitiveness, ticket sales, enthusiasm, morale eventually. But if this is what the Magic want, they're in a position to wait until the trade deadline to get as much as they can. They don't want to start over, they just want to stay in the conversation.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 8:10 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 4:01 pm
 

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

Posted by Ben Golliver

bron-dwight

We're less than two weeks away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We begin with the Southeast Division.

2011 Standings

1. Miami Heat, 58-24, lost in NBA Finals
2. Orlando Magic, 52-30, lost in first round of Eastern Conference playoffs to Atlanta Hawks
3. Atlanta Hawks, 44-38, lost in second round of Eastern Conference playoffs to Chicago Bulls
4. Charlotte Bobcats, 34-48, NBA Draft Lottery
5. Washington Wizards, 23-59, NBA Draft Lottery

Best team: Miami Heat

The Miami Heat proved they were the best team in the Eastern Conference by a significant margin when they dismantled the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs last year. The 2011-2012 version brings all the key pieces back and features one major upgrade: free agent wing Shane Battier. The Heat retained point guard Mario Chalmers and forward James Jones, avoid using the amnesty clause on forward Mike Miller, and get to enjoy a full year of a healthy Udonis Haslem. Free agent big man Eddy Curry steps in to provide depth behind center Joel Anthony too. Those are all good things, and I haven't even mentioned the Big 3 yet: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. All return with a renewed purpose plus redemption as motivation, and all three spent the lockout getting themselves in top shape to accomplish their goal of winning a title.

Anything less than a ring will be a major disappointment. Now that coach Erik Spoelstra has had the experience of going through the fire once, he should be more ready than ever to guide the Heat to some major regular season and postseason accomplishments. 55+ wins in a 66-game schedule isn't outside the realm of possibility for Miami, although they will surely be careful limiting minutes for James and Wade down the stretch in anticipation of the playoffs.

Worst team: Charlotte Bobcats
 
This is Year One of what will be a multi-year rebuilding process under new GM Rich Cho, who brings overhauling experience from his days as an assistant GM in Seattle/Oklahoma City. There are some intriguing young pieces -- particularly rookies Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo, assuming the latter is finally available -- and one proven veteran in Corey Maggette but this season will be a tossaway for owner Michael Jordan, who will continue to look to cut costs and position the team for a high draft pick in a loaded 2012 lottery.

Biggest surprise: Orlando Magic
 
The upstart Washington Wizards have the potential to pleasantly surprise, but the looming trade of center Dwight Howard almost guarantees that Orlando's season will be the biggest surprise. And it's already off to a wacky start, with drunk dialing, resignations, layoffs and a major signing of Jason Richardson. Who could have predicted all of that two weeks ago? No one. And the Howard rumors are just beginning. Everything from a total rebuilding effort to a desperate spending spree to appease Howard is currently on the table. The Magic will be a daily surprise. 

Three Best Players: LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade

Nowhere is the talent gap between superstars and everybody else more clear than the Southeast Division. The top-heavy Heat boast three of the top-15 players in the league while Howard is a top-3 talent. Nobody controls the action better than James, there isn't a better 2-way force than Howard and Wade is arguably the best crunch-time performer in the game. You can't go wrong with any of those three, and the drop between the trio and Bosh, the next best player in the Division, is steep.

Biggest Question: Will Orlando trade Dwight Howard?

All signs point to yes on the Magic finally parting with Howard. It was surely be a painful process, no matter how long it takes or how many pieces are received in return. The No. 1 overall pick in 2004, Howard has been everything you could hope for from a modern center and a marketing machine, missing just five games in seven seasons and posting ridiculous statlines (at least a double-double every year plus leading the league in blocks twice) along the way. If Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith is able to temporarily mend the fences between himself and Howard, he's likely to find out that slow-playing the trade process will result in some amazing offers for Howard's services. Howard should have been the 2011 NBA MVP and he plays the games' most coveted position. Someone will throw the franchise at Orlando for the rights to acquire him. It's only a matter of who and when.

2012 Projected Standings

1. Miami Heat
2. Atlanta Hawks
3. Orlando Magic
4. Washington Wizards
5. Charlotte Bobcats
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com