Posted on: December 22, 2011 2:41 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 3:40 pm
By Matt Moore
The New Jersey Nets announced Thursday that center Brook Lopez has a broken foot and will undergo surgery. His listed recovery time is 4-6 weeks, but the injury is also similar to the one that sidelined Mavs' guard Roddy Beaubois for months and which SI.com says doctors have said can take up to 4 months to heal.
So no, this is not good news.
But as bad as it is for Lopez, it also has huge ramifications for the Nets and their pursuit of Dwight Howard. Lopez was the centerpiece of any trade to Orlando, giving the Magic a young center to at least take the sting off losing the league's best big man. At 4-6 weeks, there's time for Lopez to recover and get back on the floor to show himself still worth the Magic's investment (I'm sure that's No.1 on his list of priorities). But that assumes his surgery goes perfectly, his recovery is without flaw, and that his return has no issues.
At that point, the Nets may be one of the worst teams in the league. Howard will be staring at going to a team he'd have to claw out of the cellar alongside Deron Williams with, after having had to likely give up even more assets to account for the instability of Lopez' situation. While Howard would be looking at the big picture with regards to playing in Brooklyn the next six seasons, these superstars want to win now, every year, and don't want to risk missing the playoffs even a single season. The Magic would be then trading for a seven-foot center with a foot injury, which hasn't gone well in the history of the NBA. That damages the Nets' leverage in the package they'd have to give up, which would mean Howard would be giving his commitment to a team with nearly nothing on roster outside of Deron Williams.
Which isn't wholly different from what Carmelo Anthony did. But the Knicks were at least in playoff position at the time of the trade. Without Lopez, we see more of Johan Petro. The Nets' frontcourt, even with productive big man Kris Humphries, is going to be a near-disaster. Deron Williams is one of the top five point guards in the league, but there are limits to what even he can do.
Lopez meanwhile is faced with the balance of wanting to compete and do his job, wanting to get back on the floor as quickly as possible, and leveraging that against his long-term health. Throw in how the Nets have treated him for the past year, both in terms of his relationship with Avery Johnson and in his inecessant involvement in trade rumors, and Lopez will be rushing back from a serious injury to help a team that is clearly not invested in his future. Maybe he pushes himself just to get out of the situation, but it's not an unpleasant one, and that's before you deal with the mental and physical damage from undergoing this kind of injury process.
The Nets still have a chance at pulling off the trade which would set them up long-term in the future. But after making a huge gamble in trading for Deron Williams last season and surrendering nearly half their talent base, the Lopez injury makes the odds even worse. There's really only two ways this works out. The Nets pull of a miracle trade for Dwight Howard because he simply wants to play in Brooklyn that much, or they lose everything.
Meanwhile, Andrew Bynum looked spectacular in preseason play Wednesday night.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 10:34 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 10:35 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Tensions are running pretty high these days in Orlando.
The Magic got blown out in their preseason opener against the Miami Heat on Sunday and got down double digits against the Heat again on Wednesday night. Heat All-Star forward LeBron James was in the process of going off for 27 points in just 30 minutes, and Magic wing Quentin Richardson had apparently seen enough.
The incident began with James shaking Richardson off the dribble to free himself up for a stepback jumper, which he celebrated by jawing in the direction of Orlando's bench and backpedaling methodically down the court to play defense. As he retreated, he happened to run into Richardson, who took exception to the contact. The two players bumped another time, just to make sure the first incidence was real, and then Richardson wound up to deliver a hard left shoulder into James' chest, which drew a technical foul and sent James reeling a bit.
Miami led 79-74 at the time of the incident, but Orlando managed to come back in the fourth quarter to win, 104-100, so it's safe to say Richardson's hard foul totally swung momentum in this game and All-Star center Dwight Howard doesn't want to be traded any more. It's a new day thanks to Q-Rich.
Here's the video of the shoving incident between Quentin Richardson and LeBron James via YouTube user DrakesUnibrow.
Hat tip: IAmAGM.com
Posted on: December 17, 2011 12:03 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 6:48 pm
By Matt Moore
All the big names have landed, and while there are still a handful of guys working out where they'll be playing in 2011-2012, we have a pretty clear image of how free agency worked out this year. So to give you a recap on how teams managed to do, here are your winners and losers for NBA free agency.
New York Knicks: It takes a lot for them to get a winning status when they picked up Mike Bibby and re-signed Jared Jeffries. Tyson Chandler is a lot. Chandler gives them exactly what they need at center, for a reasonable price considering he's coming off winning the Finals as a difference maker starter and compliments Amar'e Stoudemire well. This could wind up as a disaster, but for pursuing defense over offense and size over speed, they get into the winner's circle.
Los Angeles Clippers: Two days ago I would have planted the Clippers in the losers circle with a dunce cap. $24 million for Caron Butler over three years? DeAndre Jordan for a ridiculous price? Are they stoned in Clipperland? Chauncey Billups who may or may not hate the ground you walk on for denying him free agency? But then they landed Chris Paul. And you go "Oooooooh" like you just figured out that they got off the island and it's a flash-forward not a flash-back. Shooters to go with Paul, veteran defenders to go with Paul, and the big man to provide long-term support for Griffin. The Clippers avoided disaster by getting CP3. But funny how that makes everything seem better.
Miami Heat: Eddy Curry already looks like a waste (has had conditioning issues already). Mario Chambers is a divisive point guard, but he's good enough to start for a team with no cap space. Landing Shane Battier, though, genius. Battier is going to miss threes like all Heat spot-up shooters do. But he's going to make their defensive rotations even better, their team chemistry even better, their basketball IQ even higher. He's worth the money and a win for them.
Indiana Pacers: We were all convinced the Pacers were going to splash onto the scene and overpay for a big man in such a way as to cripple the franchise. Instead, they got David West on a low eight-figures, 2-year deal that guarantees if his knees or production go, they have options and are not stuck. They re-signed Jeff Foster to give them another center, and they were prudent with not re-signing Josh McRoberts for more than he was worth. Good upgrade for them.
Phoenix Suns: Shannnon Brown is a great fit for the system, and they managed to convince Grant Hill to return. Brown in the run-and-gun system under Gentry should excel with Aaron Brooks stuck in China. Hill still played brilliantly last season and staying in Phoenix means he stays with that training staff which has extended his career after one filled with injury issues. The Suns didn't make any significant step forward, but in terms of just making good value signings, they did as well as most.
Mid-level centers: Kwame Brown got one-year, $7 million. DeAndre Jordan made out like a bandit. Marc Gasol walked away with more money than Kendrick Perkins and Nene (though Gasol is arguably the best free agent in this class, just without the name value). It's a league short on legitimate star centers, and while the biggest free agent center names (Chandler, Nene, Greg Oden) did not land monstrous deals, the mid-level centers available rose up to meet in the middle of the band. Good year to get paid.
Boston Celtics: They had David West stolen out from under them in the midst of the Chris Paul debacle. They re-signed Marquis Daniels which isn't bad but isn't great. They traded Glenn Davis in a sign-and-trade for Brandon Bass which is pretty good but doesn't address most of their concerns. They gave Jeff Green a big one-year deal after which it was discovered he will miss the entire season after surgery when a heart condition was revealed after a stress test. Their bench is unbearably thin with starters that can't log big minutes. No, it was not a good few weeks for the Celtics.
Orlando Magic: Giving Jason Richardson and Glen Davis mid-size contracts is not the way to keep Dwight Howard, I don't care how good a friend he is with them. The Magic sacrificed their future, which is going to become very important to them in the next six months, in order to try and make another run with the same team that didn't succeed last year, plus Davis who is a big who doesn't help their issues in rebounding and has conditioning issues. Re-signing Earl Clark doesn't make a big enough impact to matter.
Detroit Pistons: Re-signing Tayshaun Price at that price makes no sense whatsover, especially not for four years. They need to be looking to the future. I understand the desire to reward Prince for his time and send him off in Detroit white, but this team has questions it has to answer quickly, and Prince gets in the way of development for Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko. Rodney Stuckey's re-signing gets in the way of Brandon Knight's development and continues his very mixed-results stay in the Motor City.
Dallas Mavericks: Maybe 2012 will make up for it. But if we're just judging the Mavericks on what they gave up and what they got back, this wasn't a good offseason. Even outside of the trades which brought in a quality player and sent two out, Dallas lost its starting center and part-time starting two-guard in agency, without really bringing in anyone. They're deep enough to survive it but this was a team that would have been considered favorites had they brought back the gang. As it is, there are questions about the Mavericks this season and beyond.
New Orleans Hornets: Setting aside losing Chris Paul in trade and impending free agency, the Hornets re-signed Carl Landry for a high one-year deal and brought back Jason Smith for three years. The deals are cheap. It's not a bad set of deals. But it's still a little perplexing considering the overwhelming need for this team to tank in order to ensure a top five pick to go with
Arron Afflalo: Afflalo hasn't signed yet, which isn't a problem but the fact that no team was willing to bother with making him an offer knowing the Nuggets would match means he may not sign for as much as he could have. Bear in mind DeAndre Jordan is a less established player than Afflalo and was helped by the Warriors' attempt to free him from Los Angeles. Afflalo could have likely wound up with top dollar as an unrestricted free agent. Denver may wind up as the best thing for his career, though.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 3:17 pm
By Matt Moore
In this week's edition of the Friday 5, we go over the insanity of the week that was, the best value signing of free agency, and why you should be very, very scared of the Mavericks. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS.
1. So... that was a fun week. What surprised you the most over the past week?
KB: Undoubtedly, it was how involved Stern and the league office were in the Hornets' trade discussions. Ultimately, I believe the Hornets got a better deal as a result. But I was stunned by the role the league took on. It had been my impression that the league would advise on certain priorities for trading Chris Paul, but I never envisioned that the commissioner would be telling the Hornets' basketball people what to do -- or that Stu Jackson would be the architect of the eventual deal. All's well that ends well, I guess. But I definitely found that surprising.
2. What's next for the league with the Hornets? When are they going to start looking at buyers?
KB: Stern said there would be a new owner in place in the first half of 2012, so they're moving fast. Clearly, there must be a list of contenders, and they'll evidently begin narrowing it down after the New Year.
3. Give me your best value signing of free agency.
KB: It's hard not to like what the Pacers did, getting David West for $20 million over two years. Indy has a nice group with West, Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger, Paul George and George Hill/Darren Collison.
4. So Dwight Howard's off the table. Let's indulge in fairy tales for a minute and ask the question, what could Orlando do between now and All-Star Weekend to convince him to stay?
KB: Well, the hope in Orlando is that a good start over the first two months of the season, with an expressed willingness to add another significant component to the roster, would appeal to the part of Dwight that, deep down, wants to stay. I'm not convinced that's going to work, simply because I'm not sold that the Magic have enough to be a title contender. (I'm puzzled by the Glen Davis addition, for example, but I'm told that's what Dwight wanted.) I suppose one thing they could do is just give the ball to Dwight every trip down the floor from Christmas Day until the All-Star break and hope everyone else is too tired and beat up from the compressed schedule to guard him. Having said all that, I do not expect Howard to finish the season in Orlando.
5. What in the name of everything holy is Dallas doing?
KB: That's easy. They're trying to get Deron Williams, Dwight Howard or BOTH. Getting both will be difficult, but the Mavs already are projected to be at least $18 million under the cap next summer, and if they bought out Lamar Odom ($2.4 million guaranteed) and amnestied Brendan Haywood, that's another $14 million. Scared? You should be. Just imagine how the Nets and Magic feel.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:03 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 6:39 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Bob Vander Weide's supposed drunk dial was a pretty good shot at incoherently convincing Dwight Howard to stay in Orlando. But if THIS doesn't get him to stay, then there's really no hope left. I mean, all the kid wants is to touch your shoulder blade, Dwight. And adopt you.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:26 am
By Matt Moore
To trade or not to trade, that is the question.
Whether tis better to suffer the slings and arrows of rebuilding or... OK, I'm done with that intro. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that talks between New Jersey and Orlando "gained momentum" Tuesday night and confirmed an ESPN.com report that the two teams have brought in Portland and another team to facilitate a deal. Portland would be sending Gerald Wallace to Orlando while getting draft picks and the cap space to sign Jamal Crawford. Granted, this makes no sense as constructed since Gerald Wallace is a near-All-Star and significantly better than Jamal Crawford, but we don't know the particulars of the deal yet or the additional team.
For Orlando, the decision is complex, but boils down to a few factors for a simple formula.
Circus surrounding Dwight this season and possible impact on chemistry + theoretical cap savings, first-round picks, and young players > or < the odds of convincing Howard to stay with a successful season. If it's greater than, take the deal, if not, wait. There's timing involved here. The Magic have to determine if the cost of dealing with this nonsense for another three months is worth a possible improvement in a deal if the deadline comes and New Jersey or the Lakers realize there's a chance they could miss out. As much as both suitors would try and force leverage by saying the Magic have to make a deal because they could lose Dwight for nothing, the Magic have the alternative.
Essentially, the Magic response is: "Without Dwight, we're going to be terrible, with or without picks and young players. So it's a bonus for us if we get something. For you, if you don't get Dwight, all your efforts are for nothing" and in the case of the Nets, that means the potential loss of Deron Williams. Howard's value at the deadline could be higher as teams get desperate. The Nets tipped their hand last season with their pursuit of Carmelo Anthony, offering up everything they could and having owner Mikhail Prokhorov meet with Anthony during All-Star Weekend. That same smell of desperation would be even more pungent at the deadline should the Nets be facing having sacrificed their future to get Deron Williams only to watch him walk away if they don't land Howard. There will be suitors for both men, including Williams' hometown team of Dallas.
But on the other side of that, the Magic do have to deal with this circus. Trips to New Jersey, New York, Los Angeles for either team, Dallas, Chicago will all be unbearable because of the storylines. Teammates will know their future is uncertain because of Howard's decision-making, and that will affect chemistry. That's not to say they can't overcome it, but there are consequences to constant speculation. Howard's decision has a thousand impacts on this league, and everyone is waiting to see what happens.
If Orlando wants to keep him, if they really truly believe it when he said he would consider staying, then they can try and swing a trade to improve the team and in doing so gamble even more of their future on keeping Howard. A strike-out and the Magic have set the franchise back a decade. But if you believe Howard leaving makes that the case regardless, it may make it easier to swallow.
The Magic have been reticent in these talks since the beginning. As opposed to New Orleans, who clearly are doing everything possible to get a deal done, provided the league will get out of the way and let them, the Magic aren't rushing to collapse this window of contention. From here on out it's matter of figuring out what the timing is and whether being a part of all this offseason insanity and having it carry over into the season is worth it.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:53 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 2:59 pm
By Matt Moore
Back on Dec. 10th, the Chicago Tribune reported that Dwight Howard was not considering the Bulls. Chicago has not been on the list of teams Ken Berger has reported since February under consideration by Howard and his management. And Tuesday, ESPN reported that Howard's list has been narrowed to four teams, the New Jersey Nets, the Dallas Mavericks, the L.A. Lakers, and the Orlando Magic.
So the question now is "Why won't Howard consider the Bulls?"
For starters, it would make a huge amount of sense for both parties in terms of basketball. For the Magic, they'd be able to get back a decent return on Howard, something that not many other teams will offer. Joakim Noah as a centerpiece, with Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer, potentially Luol Deng, and a salary dump of Hedo Turkoglu along with picks could probably be had. That's a fine haul for the Magic. But maybe Howard simply doesn't care about what his team gets back and in fact wants to make sure they don't give up too much so that he can have a good group behind him wherever he lands.
The bigger upside is for Howard. He would no longer have to be the sole source of offense and would have the pressure to be "the man" split between he and Rose. Howard wants help? How about the MVP point guard who can create offense for himself as well as anyone in the league? He'd be set with a young player just starting his rise to greatness and already established. Rose isn't an alpha dog and wouldn't have problems with Howard, Rose has good enough vision even as a score-first guard to create oop after oop for Howard on the pick and roll. Throw in Carlos Boozer as now a much-better-fitting third option (unless they unloaded Boozer which they may have to for salary purposes), and some combination of the Chicago shooters and you have all the help Howard's been asking for.
Furthermore, how about the best defensive player in the league playing under the best defensive coach in the league? Tom Thibodeau could get the absolute most out of Howard's considerable abilities (not that Stan Van Gundy hasn't already done a stellar job and in fact in large part helped make Howard into the defensive presence he is), and would let him dictate what he wants on offense instead of forcing perimeter shots like SVG.
The only conclusion is that it's some combination of weather and style that Howard balks at in regards to Chicago. Howard is rumored to prefer warm-weather destinations, coming from the south and having played there for his career. Chicago isn't exactly balmy. Then again, not like Brooklyn is all palm trees and sun tan lotion. The bigger question may be from a marketing perspective. New York or L.A. provide him with media opportunities galore, and for a guy who loves the camera as much as Howard does, that might be the kicker.
One entity sad about this development? Adidas, who have both Howard and Rose under their label. The two teaming up under the colors of Nike's icon Michael Jordan's former team? Priceless. The money would be there for Howard in Chicago, but maybe not the level of fame he wants.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 8:10 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 4:01 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
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.
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