Archive for December 20th, 2008

LeBron James summer extension possible

There have been about 39 million articles written about the free agent summer of 2010, featuring LeBron James and other stars who may be in need of a new contract at the time. For those out there whose current teams are hopeless and must dream of a brighter future, there’s a minor update worth knowing about. The Cleveland Plain Dealer (Brian Windhorst) reports:

LeBron James said Saturday that he is going to consider signing an extension with the Cavaliers this summer, well before he can become an unrestricted free agent. “You play out this season of course; I will consider it,” James said Saturday before the Cavs practiced at the Pepsi Center. “The direction we are headed is everything I expected and more.” This is the first time James has publicly talked about signing this summer instead of waiting until 2010. It is an indication of how pleased James is with the progress the Cavaliers have made this season as they are off to a 22-4 start, the second-best record in the NBA.  In 2006, James signed a three-year, $43 million deal with the Cavs through 2010 and it included a player option for 2010-11 worth $17.4 million. There has been a general assumption that James will forgo his player option, but no one has been paying attention to the other choice, which is to extend his contract with the Cavs early. There is still a good chance James will not sign early and let things play out in 2010. Waiting will give him a chance to evaluate the entire scene before making a decision.

Cavs fans of course want to keep LeBron forever, and the sooner he signs as long a contract as possible, the better. All other fans hope it doesn’t happen, keeping the home he joins their team in the future alive.

Keep hope alive.

Keith Smart to coach Warriors defense

The Bay Area News Group (Marcus Thompson II) reports: The Warriors have a new defensive coordinator. No, Monte Kiffin will not be joining the bench. Warriors Coach Don Nelson announced after Friday’s 115-99 loss to the Atlanta Hawks that assistant Keith Smart will be a “defensive coordinator” and that assistant Sidney Moncrief will be Smart’s assistant. Nelson said he is relinquishing the defensive duties because he has grown too lax. “I’ve decided to identify one of my weaknesses at this point in my life, which is I’m not tough enough anymore,” Nelson said. “I’m a little soft as I get older, and I feel like I haven’t done a very good job defensively this year. … They will be handling all of the defensive training, the game plans defensively and, during the game, the switching of situations. They’re in charge of the defense now.” Smart and Moncrief will have to start their upgraded roles without arguably the Warriors’ best man-to-man defender as swingman Stephen Jackson’s sprained left hand has forced him out of action again.

Record-level coach firings

The New York Daily News (Mitch Lawrence) reports: A fifth of the league’s 30 coaches - six - already have been dismissed, a record for this early in the season. If that isn’t insane, three of the choices to take over were nothing short of mind-boggling. In Minnesota, Washington and Philly, head coaches were replaced by members of the team’s front office. In the cases of the Wizards and Sixers, the interim choices, Ed Tapscott and Tony DiLeo, respectively, had only limited time in NBA huddles. This is nothing personal against Tapscott or DiLeo or Kevin McHale, who was forced to move from his GM suite to the bench to take over for Randy Wittman, marking McHale’s second tour of duty on Minnesota’s bench. But they’re no more qualified to coach a team than an equipment man is to run a draft. For many teams, these moves violate the NBA’s version of the separation of church and state. GMs and their subordinates do one thing (procure the talent). Coaches do something else (coach it). And ne’r should the career paths cross (unless, of course, it’s Pat Riley).

Props to Steve Blake

The Portland Trail Blazers recently beat the Phoenix Suns, and while Brandon Roy was incredible in the win, props go to Portland point guard Steve Blake. The Oregonian (Jason Quick) reports (via blog):

Nate McMillan raved about Blake’s game management (10 assists, zero turnovers), hot shooting (22 points, 8-of-15, including 4-of-7 from behind the arc) and his defense of Suns star Steve Nash (Nash went 5-of-14 with 11 assists, six turnovers while Blake had four steals). It was plain and simple: Blake had outplayed Nash. “And that,” McMillan said. “Has never happened before.” Another important Blake statistic: He went 2-for-2 from the free throw line, both makes coming at a crucial time: 2:07 left in the game and the Blazers trailing by two. They were the first attempts for Blake since he missed four of five attempts in the final 20.6 seconds against the Clippers.

For the season, Blake in 29.6 minutes per game averages 11.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.0 steals on acceptable 44.3% shooting and impressive 41.7% three-pointers.

Blake is #6 in the league in assists per turnover (3.46), #10 in three-pointers made (53), and #15 in threes per 48 minutes.

He’s solid, very unspectacular, but seems to be doing the job for the Blazers.

Bynum and D-Howard meet Saturday

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard is a big, strong, super-athletic center who rebounds, blocks shots, and dunks on people’s heads.

Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum is also very big, but every aspect of the rest of his game, as well as his physical tools, are still in development.

The two giants go at each other tonight. The Los Angeles Times (Broderick Turner) reports:

“It’s going to be tough,” Bynum said. “You’re going have to keep him as far away from the basket as you can and make him shoot shots. If he starts getting dunks, it’s over.” Just ask San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, whom Howard backed down low and dunked over during a game between the Spurs and Magic on Thursday. “Yeah, I saw that,” Bynum said. “That was something.” Howard is a chiseled, 6-11, 265-pounder who is a power player… “He gets up and down the court pretty fast,” Bynum said. “He’s really good at ducking in. He’s probably the best in the league that whenever he sees the ball coming toward his side at being real aggressive.”

Magic-Lakers is the best game of the night. I’ll be watching.

Well, to be exact, I’ll be recording it, while out partying. And watching in the morning.

Enjoy the action.

Jordan Farmar hurts knee

Los Angeles Lakers backup point guard Jordan Farmar plays 20 minutes per game and averages 7.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.08 steals. Although he’s shooting just 40.5% from the field, Farmar is a key reserve. But he’ll be out of action for a while; how long is to be determined: The Orange County Register (Kevin Ding) reports:

One of the Lakers’ more valuable reserves, Jordan Farmar, will be out of action for a while with a tear of the lateral meniscus in his left knee. An MRI today here in Orlando found the cartilage tear, and Farmar is headed home to Los Angeles on Sunday for further examination by team doctors Monday. No word yet on the severity of the tear or whether it will require surgery. In the case of surgery, it could sideline Farmar for months.

Naturally, will keep you updated as to what happens, on our front page, or rumors page, or this blog, or probably a combination of the three.

Dec 19: Cavs 105, Nuggets 88

The AP reports: The showdown between Olympic teammates LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony quickly turned into more of a smackdown—and a statement. James said Cleveland’s 105-88 runaway win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night was a shout-out to the rest of the NBA and all those doubters out there who contend the Cavaliers’ record—now 22-4—was more a testament of their soft schedule than their championship caliber… In sweeping ‘Melo’s Nuggets for the first time in his career, James had 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. He was 13-of-20 from the floor. Zydrunas Ilgauskas celebrated his return to the Cavaliers lineup for the first time since Dec. 10 by making nine of 14 shots for 23 points. He had missed three games with a sprained left ankle. Delonte West added 22 points.

Dec 19: Rockets 107, Kings 96

The AP reports: Now in his second season, Luis Scola is more comfortable in the NBA. It’s starting to show. The durable forward from Argentina had his seventh double-double of the season with 23 points and 10 rebounds to help the Rockets beat Sacramento 107-96 on Friday night… Yao Ming scored 11 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, Tracy McGrady scored 18 and Carl Landry added 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who’ve won six straight at home. John Salmons scored 26 and Brad Miller added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings. Sacramento has lost four of its last six and dropped to 1-2 since Kenny Natt replaced fired coach Reggie Theus on Monday… Yao went 11-for-13 from the field, and 8-for-9 from the free-throw line to reach 30 points for the second straight game.

Dec 19: Heat 89, Lakers 87

The AP reports: Dwyane Wade snapped out of a mild slump with 35 points, and the Heat defense stifled the high-powered Los Angeles Lakers’ in ways no opponent has managed this season on the way to an 89-87 victory over the reigning Western Conference champions. Miami held the Lakers to a season low in points, forced 21 turnovers—Los Angeles’ second-highest total of the year—and survived the final dagger that Bryant, the league’s MVP, could hoist their way. “It was going down, then just popped out,” said Bryant, who led the Lakers (21-4) with 28 points. “Happens sometimes.” … Daequan Cook scored 14 points and Shawn Marion had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Miami, which saw most of a 12-point lead entering the fourth disappear. Gasol had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who also got 13 points from Derek Fisher and 12 from Jordan Farmar.

Dec 19: Jazz 120, Pistons 114, 2OT

The AP reports: Deron Williams scored 29 points and Utah won its seventh straight over the Pistons, who extended the Jazz to double overtime before falling 120-114 Friday night… Mehmet Okur, who finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds, is 8-1 against them since leaving Detroit after winning the 2004 NBA title… Paul Millsap added 24 points and 12 rebounds as Utah took advantage of a starting lineup that averaged 30 pounds heavier than Detroit’s new small-ball group… Allen Iverson led the Pistons with 38 points, and Richard Hamilton added 30.

Dec 19: Bobcats 112, Grizzlies 83

The AP reports: Boris Diaw slammed home a dunk off the opening tip, and Charlotte’s interior assault never let up until the game was well in hand. Diaw had a season-high 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Emeka Okafor added 25 points to help the Bobcats control the inside on the way to an easy 112-83 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night. “We played great and passed the ball,” Charlotte coach Larry Brown said. “For three quarters, we probably played as well as we have all year. I don’t think our bigs missed any shots.” Gerald Wallace finished with 22 points, connecting on 9 of 11 shots for Charlotte, which set a franchise record by making 66 percent of its shots. Memphis rookie O.J. Mayo scored only 7 points, ending his streak of double-figure games at 25. He spent the final 5:09 on the bench.

Dec 19: Thunder 91, Raptors 83

The AP reports: With orange and blue streamers falling from the rafters and the crowd standing to cheer, it could’ve easily been mistaken for a much more significant victory. For the Oklahoma City Thunder, every win has become something to savor… Kevin Durant had a tiebreaking 3-pointer among his 24 points, rookie Russell Westbrook scored 19 and the Thunder snapped an 11-game home losing streak with a 91-83 win against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. It was the team’s first win at the Ford Center in 47 days… Bosh led the Raptors with 22 points and 16 rebounds for his 13th double-double, but he didn’t have enough help after Jermaine O’Neal missed the second half with a sore left shoulder. Andrea Bargnani took the place of the injured six-time All-Star, who said he expected to play Saturday night at San Antonio, and finished with 16 points off the bench.

Dec 19: Nets 121, Mavs 97

The AP reports: The New Jersey fans who showed up to thank Jason Kidd at the beginning were thanking Mark Cuban by the end. Cuban signed off on the trade that sent Devin Harris to New Jersey—a deal that looks better for the Nets all the time. Harris dominated his former team with 41 points, helping the Nets ruin Kidd’s return with a 121-97 victory over the Mavericks on Friday night. Harris added a season-high 13 assists in thoroughly outplaying Kidd, who spent 6 1/2 years in New Jersey before the Nets dealt him to Dallas last February for a package highlighted by Harris, who had his second 40-point game during a breakout season… Vince Carter added 34 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Nets, who improved to just 5-8 at home. Yi Jianlian had 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Nets were 14-of-26 from 3-point range, with Harris hitting five and Carter making four… Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points and Jason Terry added 23 for the Mavs.

Dec 19: Hawks 115, Warriors 99

The AP reports: Expectations are changing for the Atlanta Hawks, who won a game by 16 points and then said it wasn’t good enough. Flip Murray scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to help the Hawks beat the Golden State Warriors 115-99 on Friday night. The Warriors fell to 3-13 on the road with their fifth straight loss overall, but they held slim leads at halftime and after three quarters. The Hawks finally pulled away with a 13-2 run early in the fourth quarter… Marvin Williams led Atlanta with 22 points… Missing injured top scorers Corey Maggette and Stephen Jackson, the Warriors were led by Marco Belinelli’s career-high 27 points. Brandan Wright added a career-high 19 points but Jamal Crawford scored only six points on 3-for-15 shooting from the field.

Dec 19: Celtics 126, Bulls 108

The AP reports: The world’s fastest man stopped by the new Boston Garden to see the NBA’s best team streak to its 17th consecutive victory. Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt watched from courtside Friday night as the Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 126-108 and improved their record to 25-2. Speedy point guard Rajon Rondo dished out 15 of Boston’s 40 assists as the Celtics jumped to an 11-point lead in the first five minutes and nursed it while the starters sat out the fourth quarter… Ray Allen scored 27 points and Kendrick Perkins scored a career-high 25 on 12-for-15 shooting for the Celtics, who could tie the longest winning streak in franchise history with a win on Sunday night against the New York Knicks. The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers won an NBA-record 33 in a row… Luol Deng scored 19 points with seven rebounds for Chicago, and Andres Nocioni came off the bench after Drew Gooden sprained his right ankle in the first quarter and scored 16.

Dec 19: Bucks 105, Knicks 81

The AP reports: The Milwaukee Bucks have made the most of a rough road schedule — every time they’ve come to New York, they’ve left with a win. Michael Redd scored 21 points to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their third win this season over the New York Knicks, 105-81 Friday night… Redd scored 12 points in a decisive 25-7 run that spanned the two halves. Richard Jefferson and Luc Mbah a Moute each had 16 points for the Bucks. Nate Robinson, inserted into the Knicks’ lineup to replace Al Harrington after he got caught in traffic, had 21 points… Harrington arrived midway through the first quarter and finished with 16 points, and David Lee had 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Dec 19: Sixers 109, Wizards 103

The AP reports: The battle of interim coaches went to the Philadelphia 76ers for the second time in less than a week, with Tony DiLeo’s team persevering through the loss of leading scorer Elton Brand to pull out a 109-103 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night. Lou Williams scored 26 points—including 16 straight Philadelphia points during one stretch in the first half—to post his second career-high game in a row. Thaddeus Young, starting in place of Brand in a smaller lineup, and Andre Iguodala added 18 points apiece, and rookie Marreese Speights had a career-high 17 for the 76ers, who improved to 3-0 under DiLeo… Jamison scored 23 points despite playing with a strained left thumb, and Mike James had 16 in his second consecutive Wizards start.

Dec 19: Clippers 117, Pacers 109, 2OT

The AP reports: The Los Angeles Clippers felt it was a matter of time before their talent translated into wins. Zach Randolph had 34 points and 16 rebounds to help the Clippers beat the short-handed Indiana Pacers 117-109 in double overtime on Friday night… Al Thornton scored 25 points, Camby had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Davis had 18 points and 11 assists for the Clippers, who got off to a 4-17 start this season. Jarrett Jack scored a season-high 27 points, T.J. Ford scored 17 and Rasho Nesterovic and Roy Hibbert each scored 16 for the Pacers.

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