Tag:Cleveland Cavaliers
Posted on: June 12, 2011 5:20 pm
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Agent: No room for Ramon Sessions in Cleveland?

The agent for Ramon Sessions doesn't think there's enough room for his client if the Cleveland Cavaliers draft Kyrie Irving. Posted by Ben Golliver. ramon-sessions

We all saw this one coming a mile away.

As soon as the Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery, and thus the rights to select Duke University point guard Kyrie Irving, they immediately acquired a log jam at the point guard position.

Why? Because the Cavaliers already have Baron Davis -- recently acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in a trade for Mo Williams -- and Ramon Sessions as incumbents.

With the drafts still weeks away, Ohio.com reports that Chubby Wells, the agent for Ramon Sessions, is already making noise that there's not enough minutes for all three players.
Sessions would seem to be the odd man out, with Irving as the point guard of the future and Baron Davis on hand to groom him as such. Sessions averaged 13.3 points and 5.2 assists last season, his first in Cleveland. Now 25 and a four-year veteran, Sessions believes he can start in this league. That doesn't appear likely to happen in Cleveland. 

Sessions' agent, Chubby Wells, hasn't asked the Cavaliers for a trade yet. That might change after the draft. 

''Obviously something has to give,'' Wells said. ''I don't see how they can keep all three of those guys.''
The best case scenario would be to find a way to off-load Davis, who is owed more than $28 million over the next two seasons. That would allow the Cavaliers to turn the keys over to Irving on day one, with Sessions in place as an affordable, quality back-up point guard capable of playing as many minutes as needed.

Star point guards that have taken the reins early get the reps they need to truly succeed. Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose are two obvious recent examples. While Irving might not have the ceiling of either player, he's good enough as a prospect and smart enough as a player to be thrown to the wolves immediately so that he can learn on the job.

As for Sessions and his agent, they're not saying anything the entire league hasn't assumed already. It will be difficult for the Cavaliers to keep all three point guards on their roster for very long, considering the combined money that will be paid to them and the number of other holes the team needs to fill.

If you needed another good reason to keep your eye on Cleveland -- who owns both the No. 1 and the No. 4 pick in this draft -- as the most likely team to wheel and deal this draft season, you've got it now.
Posted on: June 3, 2011 7:41 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 10:46 pm
 

2011 NBA Draft: Which teams should make moves?

A look at which NBA teams should move up or down the draft board in the 2011 NBA Draft. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Team needs and draft positioning never align perfectly in the NBA Draft. Some teams find themselves just out of reach of their target player while others want to avoid taking their prospect earlier than they need to, hoping to cash in on their draft positioning to add another asset.

Even in a weak draft crop like this year’s, the potential for movement – even if minor – is always there. Here’s a look at three teams that might consider moving up the board and three teams that might look to move down.

Three Teams That Should Move Up

1. New York Knicks NY

The New York Knicks need to fill their center position and will likely do whatever they possibly can to accomplish that goal in free agency. Samuel Dalembert makes all sorts of sense. But there’s another option. Sitting at No. 17, it’s possible the Knicks would only need to trade up 5-8 positions to have a crack at Bismack Biyombo, the fast-rising big man prospect out of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Biyombo is hyper-athletic, has an endless motor and is a very skilled shot-blocker, both in one-on-one defense and from the help side.

Putting him alongside Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony would arguably give the Knicks the most dynamic 3-4-5 combination in the entire league. Biyombo doesn’t need touches, can finish putbacks in traffic and will work hard at all times. Does he need some polish and refinement? Of course. Are there questions about his age? Absolutely. But if he falls to the 9-12 range it’s worth whatever price it takes – it shouldn’t be exorbitant – for the Knicks to move up and nab him.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers cle

The Cavaliers own the top pick and will wisely use that on Duke University point guard Kyrie Irving. The intrigue comes with their No. 4 selection, which doesn’t do them much good. The best available names will either be point guards – and therefore redundant with Irving – or European big men. With Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson in place, the Cavaliers are not the ideal breeding ground for a project big.

The rumored trade with Minnesota to get the No. 2 pick makes all sorts of sense. The Cavaliers need starpower and they need talent on their wing badly. Derrick Williams would be an ideal fit. Cleveland, with a deep-pocketed owner and nowhere to go but up, is in a position where it can overpay for the luxury of drafting Williams. Whether that’s by absorbing salary into its massive trade exception, sending over cash or future pick considerations, or making anyone on their roster outside of Varejao available. The reward of building around an Irving/Williams/Varejao core is worth virtually any risk for a Cleveland team coming off a very, very bad season.

3. 
Charlotte Bobcats charlotte

The Charlotte Bobcats have a gigantic hole in the middle. Addressing the center position through the draft can be a difficult process even if you’re at the very top of the board, but picking at No. 9 in a weak crop with no American-born, star big men makes it an even trickier proposition.

Here, the need is so great that they have to bring a big man home, pretty much no matter what. There’s a distinct possibility that Valanciunas, Kanter and Biyombo are all gone by pick No. 9, although there's variability in the stock of all three players. The good news: The Bobcats also possess the No. 19 pick, good bait to move up the board a few spots, so they can manage this risk nicely. Package the picks, move up a bit and snag whichever of those three big men are the most appealing to Michael Jordan and his staff.

Three Teams That Should Move Down

1. Minnesota Timberwolves
 min

The rumors surrounding the Minnesota Timberwolves' draft position started within minutes after David Kahn lost the Lottery ping pong ball drawing to Nick Gilbert, son of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. The reasoning is simple: The second most coveted player on the board, Derrick Williams, is not of particular use to the Timberwolves, as his combo forward skillset is similar to that of incumbent Michael Beasley and the Timberwolves have greater needs at both the guard and center positions. With the recent reports that Ricky Rubio will agree to come stateside, those needs have narrowed to a two guard and a center.

An ideal situation for Minnesota would be to auction the No. 2 selection – perhaps along with its No. 20 selection -- into a pick in the 5-10 range and two ready-now rotation players. That would allow the team to draft a big of their choice – Kanter, Jonas Valanciunas or Biyombo – or one of the class’s elite wings – Kawhi Leonard, Alec Burks or Klay Thompson – while simultaneously speeding up the rebuilding curve. Coming off of 32 combined wins in the last two seasons, this team badly needs to win some games.

2. Utah Jazz 

utah-jazz

The Utah Jazz are in a similar position as the Minnesota Timberwolves, although it’s a bit trickier. The obvious fit for Utah is Brandon Knight, the best point guard on the board not named Irving. He’s an intelligent leader, excellent citizen and has loads of upside. For a team looking to move past Deron Williams, he’s as good as the Jazz can hope for.

Knight might not necessarily be the third most valued prospect on the board, though, especially because teams at the top of the draft order often favor big men. Players like Kanter, Valanciunas and even Biyombo might wind up with more buzz when all is said and done.

The Jazz also hold the No. 12 selection, which could turn out to be a bit of no man’s land in this draft. If there's a run on wings – say, if Leonard, Burks and Thompson all go off the board – the pickings get pretty slim for a team that already has a fairly stocked frontcourt. Jimmer Fredette looms as an excellent back-up option, but he’s more novelty than impact player.

A best case scenario: the Jazz land a veteran guard by swapping picks to move down a few slots and are able to still snag Knight wherever they land. 

3. Portland Trail Blazers por

The Portland Trail Blazers have, arguably, the greatest stockpile of unused pieces of any team in the league. Last year's Draft produced three players that played very few minutes -- Luke Babbitt, Elliot Williams, and Armon Johnson -- and the team has three (yes, three!) players stashed overseas already. Blazers management has already acknowledged publicly that they don't anticipate selecting an impact player at No. 21, and the team is hamstrung salary-wise because of a looming decision with Greg Oden. The oft-injured center will command big dollars, and the team has already committed to large multi-year deals for Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews.

If you don't see a player that will meaningfully impact your rotation at No. 21, then why pay him guaranteed first-round money? Ship the pick for a future consideration. Knowing Owner Paul Allen, though, this is an unlikely strategy. He loves the draft too much to simply fold his hand. The problem? He's already fired his keenest advisors: Former GMs Kevin Pritchard and Rich Cho. In other words, expect more haphazard decision-making.

Posted on: June 2, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 4:35 pm
 

LeBron, Wade, Spoelstra and Dirk talk about Shaq

Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- Both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were teammates of Shaquille O'Neal. James for just one season in Cleveland ("win a ring for the King," remember?) and three and a half seasons in Miami, winning a title in 2006.

James and Wade were both asked about O'Neal, his career and his personality.

"As a teammate, I'm always appreciate of being able to play with one of the all-time greats," Wade said. "Humbled and totally honored to have been a teammate. As a fan, just seeing the dominance of what he did will never be forgotten."

In Cleveland, the Cavaliers didn't finish with the promise Shaq made to win a ring, but James acknowledged that O'Neal was someone that he definitely loved being around. But he made it a point to say that while O'Neal was an incredible player, what he did for the game off it was nearly as impressive.

"What he was able to do for this league not just on the court but off the court," James said. "I think he's probably one of the only big men to play this game that was able to be marketable off the court.  He sold shoes, he did movies..." Wade interrupted right there and said, "Don't forget rap." Seriously, don't forget his rapping.

"His personality is definitely something I gravitated towards," James said.

That personality was often a bit controversial as O'Neal had no fear of calling players out or talking about other teams. But Wade called O'Neal a "fun-loving" guy and someone that made the locker room a great place to be.

"One thing about Shaq is he did it the way he wanted to do it," Wade said. "At the end of the day, he had fun with the game. He did it the way he wanted to do it for 19 years. Not many people can say that. He said what he wanted to say, he did what he wanted to do. Not many guys can say that.

"He enjoyed his time in the NBA."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was on the Miami staff for a couple seasons while O'Neal was in South Beach.

"First thing that came to my mind was the first time I saw him play in the NBA. I remember watching that game when he dove for the ball on the baseline," Spoelstra said. "He's been tremendous for the sport. Obviously done amazing things on the basketball court and been a champion but also he's opened up a different world for the athletes to take advantage of in marketing opportunities."

Dirk Nowitzki obviously competed against O'Neal for 13 seasons and echoed his respect for the big man.

"I mean we're going to miss him. He's been great not only on the court but off the floor. He's one of the funniest characters. I wish him the best."

Said Shawn Marion, who probably put it best: "He was a big ass kid."
Posted on: June 1, 2011 5:25 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 3:53 pm
 

Shaq Retires: The Life and Times of the MDE




Posted by Matt Moore

Most Dominant Ever.

How does one have the gall to call themselves that? To declare to the world that in the NBA's long history of great big men, you are the one that exerts his will the most, that takes some serious guts. And a body big enough to hold them.

Shaquille O'Neal announced his retirement Wednesday after a 19-year career that saw him win four NBA titles, the MVP award, three Finals MVP awards, and 15, count 'em 15 All-Star selections. He was the first truly "fun" big guy, the first big to really cross over into popular culture (if you don't count Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's turn in "Airplane"), doing movies, reality shows, and even a 311 video. But it was always his work on the floor that put him at the top of everyone's mind.

O'Neal was the first big to challenge the idea that weight was an offensive hindrance. A literal giant who gained more and more bulk as his career wore on, O'Neal's greatest asset was often his backside. O'Neal's humongous rump was what allowed him to bully his way to the basket during the Lakers' early 00's run of championships, paving the way for his startling efficiency. But it wasn't always like that. Back in the day, Shaq was just a kid in Orlando, loving life and dunking on everyone.

Magic Time: Young and in love (with the rim)

O'Neal took the league by storm in 1993. A big man who could run the floor, who moved with speed, he was at his athletic best. His rookie season he averaged 24-14 with 3.5 blocks per game. It was like nothing anyone had seen before. There had been other big men, to be sure. This was the time of Hakeem Olajuwon, who would go on to teach Shaq about the value of footwork later. But in the beginning, he was just a lovable kid, making the most out of being literally the biggest star in the world. And while his agility and athleticism were breathtaking, he was still strong as an ox. Observe:



That's just bananas. We freak out now over Dwight Howard dunking on toy rims wearing a cape. O'Neal was physically tearing down the basket as a youngster in Orlando. It was there that O'Neal started to recognize his own potential as a media star as well. He starred in Blue Chips with Nick Nolte, which began a long, and often painful for the rest of us, movie career. And he became one of the top players in the game, almost immediately. If it took us a decade to recognize how truly great Olajuwon was, we did not miss the boat with Shaq. You couldn't. If you tried, he'd remind you, often by dunking on your head.

But O'Neal also went through what so many stars today experience, what drove them to the decisions they're so often criticized for. O'Neal lost to Hakeem's Rockets and Jordan's Bulls. He wanted a bigger stage, and he had no reservations about going out and getting it. So he went to the Lakers in 1997, leaving a franchise in ruin.

There was no outcry nationally, he was not booed everywhere he went, he was not vilified. Nationally, people were just excited the Lakers were relevant again, even if it meant sending Orlando back down to the sewers. And it was in Los Angeles that O'Neal earned that MDE nickname he would later give himself.

Gone Hollywood

Shaq: The Legacy
Stats (All-Time List)
  • Games: 1,207 (23rd)
  • Minutes: 41,918 (17th)
  • Points: 28,596 (5th)
  • Rebounds: 13,099 (12th)
  • Blocks: 2,732 (7th)
Accomplishments
  • First overall pick, 1992 Draft
  • Rookie of the Year, 1992-93
  • NBA MVP, 1999-00
  • Four NBA Championships
  • 15-time NBA All-Star
  • 3-time NBA Finals MVP
  • 2-time NBA Scoring Champion
  • Career Salary: $292,198,327
29.7 points. 13.6 rebounds. 3.8 assists. 3.0 blocks. That was O'Neal's statline in 2000 when he shot 57 percent from the field and come out with a 30.6 PER. Those are just numbers. But they give an indication of how unstoppable O'Neal was with the Lakers. The later Lakers are reconsidered now as more Kobe's team than they were. It was the big man who set up everything. The weight O'Neal gained only seemed to make him that much harder to guard. You couldn't front him, too tall. You couldn't try and muscle him off, too strong. And if you did manage to keep your position, work him to the middle, and force a shot and not a dunk? He had the drop step hook Howard dreams of in his sleep.

In that Golden Era at the turn of the century, O'Neal changed the course of franchise history, bringing the Lakers back to prominence and all the glory that goes with it. The Lakers were unstoppable in that stretch. It wasn't like the modern Lakers team that fights with top notch opponents and manages to win more than they lose. They were the predominant force of that era and it was mostly because of Shaq. Bryant came on later and did his damage, certainly contributing. But O'Neal at this point was just such a behemoth. There was nothing to be done.

Dominant is phrased so often as just "best." Or "most impressive." The reason O'Neal's terminology of that fits during this era of his career is that he was able to exert his will on anyone. There was no one who could stop him. Certainly not Erick Dampier or Shawn Bradley or a Bradley tank. He would park that gigantic butt of his into an opponent, send them staggering back a foot, back in, and either gently slide it over the rim or hammer it down, leaving nothing but a whoosh in his wake.

You could see the body start to slip a bit as O'Neal struggled with weight control. He played 74 games in 2001, and wouldn't hit over 70 games again until 2005. But that stretch of years also defined the best of his career. Three championships, an MVP, and a place among the all-time Laker greats, even if it would be forgotten in the bitterness to come. Oh, yeah, and he did this:



Helping Flash

The meltdown of the 2004 Lakers against the Pistons changed everything. Shaq's ego had only gotten bigger with his success. Kobe Bryant felt he was the star. Phil Jackson had had enough of all of it, and the team blew up the championship core, sending Shaq to Miami for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, and pieces. Shaq joined an up-and-coming Heat team that would have likely slowly contended for a title year after year with young talent. But Pat Riley is not a man of patience. He saw the MDE was available. He went out and got him.

In Miami, questions were rampant about how O'Neal and Wade would co-exist, how the two would work together, who the man was. O'Neal responded to the criticisms of his ego and conditioning by playing 73 games, scoring 22 points per game with 10 rebounds. The next year he played only 59, but it was enough to get the Heat into the playoffs, where they made an unlikely run that netted O'Neal his fourth championship. This two-year era (before the physical meltdown in 2007) is overlooked most times in favor of his L.A. days, but O'Neal wasn't just a scorer, defender, and partner for Wade in this championship run. He was a mentor, and a locker room leader. O'Neal showed that you can be bombastic, arrogant even, and still be a leader of men.

This was the last time O'Neal was truly relevant.

Self-exile to the Valley

In 2008, with O'Neal clearly on the decline, unable to stay healthy for any significant stretch, and boasting a roster of athletic talent that could run the floor and keep the ball constantly in motion for Mike D'Antoni's offense, Steve Kerr made a terrible decision. He traded for Shaquille O'Neal, cashing in his biggest bargaining chip, Shawn Marion's expiring contract. O'Neal made big claims about winning championships when he's angry for Phoenix, and he was supposed to bring the defense necessary to win a championship alongside Steve Nash. Except that it was very much like giving a fish a bicycle. A big, flashy bicycle with one busted wheel.

O'Neal couldn't stay on the floor. The trade was a disaster, and wasted the last years of Steve Nash's prime because of Kerr's bravado. But O'Neal kept developing, staying popular by embracing Twitter and becoming even more of a goof. He was lovable. He was huge. He didn't play much, but he was still awesome. Like when he pulled this out at the 2009 All-Star Game:




Even big men fade away

O'Neal joined Cleveland via trade in 2010. The final piece to the LeBron championship puzzle, part 5,453 (copyright Danny Ferry 2010). But it was simply over. O'Neal couldn't stay healthy -- who can at that age with that amount of wear and tear? -- and he watched with disgust as his teammates were unable to help him or LeBron against Boston. O'Neal was actually one of the most effective players for the Cavs against the Celtics, but it wasn't enough. So O'Neal got the idea that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

O'Neal joining the Celtics was supposed to change things for his career. It would allow him to win one more than Kobe Bryant, one more than Tim Duncan, to go out with five rings and contribute to a team supposedly as tough as he is. But again, the body just couldn't sustain.

It is a harsh reality that this is what happens, as unfortunate as it is unavoidable.

But O'Neal's legacy won't be tarnished by those final years in Cleveland and Boston the way Allen Iverson's sad decline hampered his. For one, the four titles help. For another, O'Neal always carried himself with respect, even if he lacked it for others (like, oh, say, Kobe Bryant as in his famous rap). For another, nothing can take away his cultural or performance legacy.

Talk to guys who played against him and they groan trying to explain what it was like to guard him. Talk to kids who watched him destroy everything in his path from backboards to Shawn Bradley to Erick Dampier. Talk to reporters who covered his quotes, analysts who watched his dunks, anyone, everyone knows who Shaq was and what his imprint on the game was.

He walks away now, and though he might not be the best big man of all time, given the mark he left on the NBA and how he continues to make his mark on global culture, he's still the Most Dominant Ever.



Posted on: May 29, 2011 4:34 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2011 6:10 pm
 

Kuester's future subject of conflicting reports

Coach John Kuester will reportedly not be back as Detroit Pistons head coach, but multiple reports indicate no decision has been made yet. Posted by Ben Golliver. john-kuester

After a tumultuous season of player protests, public bickering, constant rotation changes and another trip to the NBA Draft Lottery, the Detroit Pistons and head coach John Kuester have reportedly parted ways. 

ESPN.com reports that Kuester is headed out in Motown, as has been anticipated for months.
Detroit head coach John Kuester will not be returning to the Pistons, according to sources. It is presumed that president Joe Dumars and his staff will be returning, but there has been no definitive indication of that yet, sources said.

Hired in 2009 to be the franchise's 27th head coach, Kuester has posted a 57-107 mark in his two years in Detroit.
A source told CBSSports.com's Ken Berger on Sunday that Kuester "had not been let go and that no decisions will be made until Tom Gores officially takes over." Gores is the team's new owner, having agreed to purchase the team from Karen Davidson.

Update: A source tells CBSSports.com's Ken Berger on Sunday evening that "Kuester has not resigned, nor has he indicated to Pistons management that he's leaving, according to one source." Also, Berger notes, "according to another source, Mike Brown would like Kuester to join his staff but is waiting for his situation with the Pistons to be resolved."

MLive.com also reported shortly thereafter that a split had not yet taken place.
Pistons source: Nothing has been decided yet on John Kuester. Sounds to me like someone jumped the gun. It appears that no change is imminent with Kuester, from what I'm hearing.
Another denial came in from the Detroit News.
Looks like ESPN is jumping the gun on Kuester. His status hasn't been decided yet, according to multiple team sources.
Yet another denial came in from SI.com.
John Kuester has NOT been fired by the Pistons, high ranking source tells SI. No decision has been made as of yet.
Finally, the Detroit Free Press weighed in with its denial.
Nothing has changed with Q. Everybody has said he's unlikely to return. Q just told me he hasn't been told anything. Source just told me no decision on Q until Tom Gores takes over. But the writing is on the wall.
These reports are not necessarily contradictory. Kuester could have decided that he will to resign or the sides could have agreed that a split will eventually happen, as has been rumored for months given his inability to establish authority over.

Worth noting: The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that Kuester could join the staff of new Lakers head coach Mike Brown. 
Kuester's job with the Pistons is tenuous because of the revolt from his players during the past season when five of them skipped a practice. He remains under contract, but if Kuester is let go, Brown wants him coaching with the Lakers.
Kuester was an assistant on Brown's staff in Cleveland before he was hired to lead the Pistons. 

More on this story as it develops.
Posted on: May 28, 2011 2:25 pm
Edited on: May 28, 2011 2:52 pm
 

Cavaliers trying to trade for No. 2 pick?

The Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly in trade talks involving their draft picks. Posted by Ben Golliver.irving-williams

Kyrie Irving or Derrick Williams? Why not both?

ESPN.com reports that sources say that the Cleveland Cavaliers, who own the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and are expected to draft Irving, a star point guard out of Duke University, are also considering trading for the No. 2 pick. The Cavaliers would then use that pick, which is currently owned by the Minnesota Timberwolves, to select Williams, a star forward from the University of Arizona.

The full trade rumor breaks down as follows:
  • Detroit Pistons trade the No. 8 pick and Richard Hamilton to Cleveland Cavaliers. 
  • Cleveland Cavaliers trade the No. 4 pick and Detroit's No. 8 pick to Minnesota Timberwolves for the No. 2 pick.
  • Cleveland uses its $14.6 million trade exception to absorb Hamilton's contract.
The site also reports...
Cleveland would then buy Hamilton out of the $25 million remaining in the last two years on his contract, leaving the veteran shooting guard free to sign with another club as a free agent. Chicago would be one of the likeliest destinations.
Let's take a look at this trade proposal from all angles.

First, for the Cavaliers, this would require a fair bit of capital expenditure in bringing Hamilton on board. He is owed $12.7 million next season and $12.7 in 2012-2013, although only $9 million of that is guaranteed. Hamilton, 33, still has a little fuel left in the tank and badly needs a change of scenery out of Detroit. If the Cavaliers love Derrick Williams, though, paying Hamilton is a reasonable cost to have the opportunity to draft Williams. This move would give the Cavaliers a core of Irving, Williams, Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson to build around, with Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions also in the fold as rotation players or trade assets. Additional moves would need to be made to clarify that rotation, including the possibility mentioned above of buying out Hamilton, but no doubt that team wins more than the 19 games Cleveland won in 2010-2011 and the group would clearly be on an upward path. Nabbing the top two "sure thing" prospects in a draft would have to be considered a major win.

The Timberwolves would consider this trade because Williams is probably too similar to Michael Beasley, who is already in place. Trying to dissect this franchise's logic is always difficult, but if Minnesota prefers a big man like Enes Kanter, he will likely be available at No. 4 and they would be able to add an asset for flopping spots. With the No. 8 selection, the Timberwolves could then address their point guard position if either Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker was still on the board, or they could add a shooter -- something they desperately need -- like Alec Burks or maybe even take a chance on Bismack Biyombo. Like the Cavaliers, the Timberwolves need a lot of help. Does Williams alone make them better in the short term? Would Knight plus Burks or Kanter plus Burks be a better combination? There's a 

The Pistons, here, are probably griping that the cost of moving Hamilton's contract is too high, as it would leave them without a first round draft pick. Indeed, the Detroit Free Press reported that a source denied the talks were taking place and Detroit News reported soon after this rumor broke that the "Pistons wouldn't trade Rip, who's almost becoming an expiring contract w/lockout coming, and get rid of a draft pick." That's half-true at best. Hamilton is owned at least $20 million, the franchise is under new ownership and badly needs to rebuild, and Hamilton made life absolutely miserable all season long for coach John Kuester. The Pistons should be happy to pay for the right to dump him, but obviously they don't want to be left empty handed. There's definitely a way to get Detroit happy with this trade, whether it's sending back a lower pick, a role player or a future draft consideration. Shedding Hamilton's contract and attitude is priceless if Detroit is serious about taking their team in a new direction.
Posted on: May 25, 2011 6:19 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 7:41 pm
 

Lakers' decisions reflect a season of change

The Lakers' front office is taking on a new direction under Jerry Buss' son, Jim Buss. Changes are happening all over the NBA, and the Lakers are no exception. Will a new course of action lead to the old standard of championships for the purple and gold? 

Posted by Matt Moore




The Celtics and Lakers? Gone from the secound round with only a single win between them. The Spurs? Closed out in the first round by Memphis (Memphis!).  Derrick Rose won the MVP at 22 years of age, Kevin Durant was the scoring champion and both of them made the Conference Finals. Those Conference Finals? They featured exactly zero of the following: Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Pau Gasol, or Steve Nash (or Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, or Carmelo Anthony, but don't interupt me, I'm rolling). 

Things are changing in the NBA. There's a lockout on the horizon which will dramatically shift the course of how business is done in the league, new superpowers are taking shape as an era of collaborative superstardom takes hold, and LeBron James is clutch. It's a terrifying new world out there. 

And right in line with those changes is what we've seen from the Los Angeles Lakers both in their dismal collapse to end their chance at a three-peat and  in their decision to hire Mike Brown as their new head coach after Phil Jackson rode off into the peyote sunset. 

Let's begin with a story reviewing the coaching search process five days ago on May 19th in the Los Angeles Times

The Lakers were once the managerial gold standard, with Jerry Buss' vision and Jerry West as in-house legend and basketball boss of bosses.

Now Buss defers largely to his son Jim, who, let's hope, checks with West's protege, Kupchak.

Not surprisingly, given Jim's inclinations — remember bringing Rudy Tomjanovich out of retirement as the game's highest-paid coach in 2004? — this started as a star search.
via Coach selection, and the Lakers' future, is in owners' hands - Los Angeles Times.

Where once Jerry Buss, the most influential owner of the past thirty plus years, handled the mechanics of keeping the Lakers high-powered star factory pumping out championship gold for Buss to enjoy while he wrapped his arms around his younger friends, now the son is trying to establish himself as "the man in charge." The younger Buss has been the key decision maker for a while, but this represents more than just a "business as usual" handling of the Lakers' day-to-day operations or short-term evaluations.  The change here is not just one of replacing a Hall of Fame coach with a respected, though resume-questionable coach. It's a move away in a systemic approach.

Consider that Brian Shaw is right there. A nice, safe continuation of the success the Lakers have enjoyed over the past four seasons. The Triangle offense, the familiarity with the players, the cool comfort of continuity. And Jim Buss completely swerved away from all of that. Rick Adelman was right there. The coach with the best resume, the best track record, a similar offensive approach as the Lakers have been operating under. A star-worthy coach for a franchise that has always accepted nothing but the best. And Jim Buss and Kupchak elected to pass over the best coach on the market.

The reasons will be myriad as to why this was a good hire, but nothing as forthright and easy to point to as defense. Dallas shot the lights out to put the Lakers underground, so the tactical response is to bring in a defensive general to fortify the paint. The offense will sort itself out, right? Except this isn't a team with great natural chemistry and ball movement offensively. It never has been. Kobe Bryant has always been the tiger trying to bust out of the Triangle's cage. Yes, Pau Gasol operated well in the corner system but how will he respond to having to freelance more and make more decisions with increased pressure after this season's epic collapse. Is a looser construct really what's going to be best for Ron Artest, he who Staples screams "No!" whenever he pauses to consider a three? And at its core, do you want Bryant, who continues to show signs of the inevitable downslide of aging and a stubborn refusal to adapt his game, or his field goal attempts, accordingly, free to do as he pleases? 

But then, Bryant in particular is of note in this story. Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated reported on Wednesday:
 
The source close to the Lakers told SI.com that Kobe Bryant was "surprised" by the news of the team's interest in Brown late Tuesday, and that he was not a part of the decision-making process. Bryant had been a staunch supporter of Lakers assistant Brian Shaw for the position.

via Lakers name Mike Brown new head coach - Sam Amick - SI.com.

The star, the Hall of Famer, the next statue, and he's not consulted on the coach that will be in charge for his final years, presumably? That's a deviation from the standard, and a slap in the face. The Lakers shouldn't require Kobe Bryant's permission, approval, or support to hire Mike Brown. But to not even factor that into the decision making?

There's a clear step being made here by Jim Buss to head away from the last few years which saw Jackson, while dating Buss' sister Jeanie, running the show from high atop the special chair. Not hiring Shaw, not consulting Bryant, signing Brown to a four-year deal which guarantees Brown will be around at least through two more years (anything more is too much salary to surrender in dead money in the event of a firing). There's a very clear indication that Jim Buss is trying to make a statement of his own and show that his vision is just as good, if different from his father's. 

You'd almost wonder if he hasn't been incepted, or something, with this series of decisions.

Is Mike Brown a good coach? Absolutely. In Atlanta (yes, this is assuming a coach who had the Bulls offer him everything but Derrick Rose in the way of a chance to win is fired eventually), he would have been great. In Houston, he would have taken a talented veteran group and overachieved with defense. In Golden State, even, he likely would have given them the defensive personality to make the playoffs. His defensive chops cannot be questioned. But this is a coach who could not contain LeBron James. Granted, no one can, but that was a player with no real reason to believe he knew better. What's going to happen when Brown walks into a wary room of veterans who have won two championships with arguably the greatest coach of all time and who now are being told to listen to the guy who "couldn't win with LeBron" as ridiculous as that accusation is?

The Lakers are moving forward. There's new management at the top. There's new coaching on the sideline. But the roster remains the same, a versatile, talented, if boneheaded group of stars trying to fit together in the greatest reality show on Earth. And Mike Brown just moved into Crazy Town. We'll see if all this change means a move towards the tradition the Lakers value most: championships. 

Posted on: May 25, 2011 4:48 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 4:50 pm
 

LeBron says 'the Lakers got them a good a coach'

LeBron James endorses the Lakers' hiring of Mike Brown.

Posted by Matt Moore

There's one guy who thinks the Lakers had a slam dunk with the hiring of Mike Brown, former Cleveland Cavaliers coach after agreeing with Brown to a four-year, $18.25 million contract Wednesday. It's the man who many feel was responsible for his firing in Cleveland, his former star who created the questions about Brown's ability to manage huge egos.

It is, of course, LeBron James.

NBA.com spoke to James after practice about the then-possible hiring of Brown by the Lakers, and the former Cavs star was more than effusive with praise for his former coach.
 
“If it’s true, when it’s official,” James said, “I think the Lakers got them a great coach.”

...

“Mike Brown was a great coach,” James said. “He gave us success that we hadn’t had before in that city. And it started with his defensive concepts. He brought in a defensive mind set that we didn’t have.”

“We were competitive year after year because of his coaching. So I respect him and I’m grateful to have had him as a coach throughout the years that I had him. He definitely helped me become who I am today.”
via LeBron: ‘The Lakers got them a great coach’ « NBA.com | Hang Time Blog.

This is coming from a player who put on one of the better defensive performances we've seen individually in recent history, and there have been some impressive defensive performances in an era shared by Kevin Garnett, Ron Artest, and Dwight Howard

This is also coming from a player who many say undermined Brown not only on the floor, breaking plays, but also in the locker room, getting his way in terms of perks and positions for members of his crew in the organization, and generally running roughshod with the power granted by being a franchise player.

But James could have declined comment, just as he could have declined comment when asked about the lottery win for Cleveland. But he stuck up for his old coach and said he was happy for Cleveland to get the top pick. Nothing he say will be well received, but at least he's making the effort. 

For the Lakers, though? They had best be aware that all that defensive discipline and philosophy comes with a price, and if the veteran egos aren't willing to take a backseat to get back to the title, this may work out the same way it worked out in Cleveland.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com