Archive for May, 2010

Shaq will consider joining Nets

Marc Berman of the New York Post reports:

Shaq will consider joining Nets

Cavaliers free agent center Shaquille O’Neal, a Newark native, told The Post he would consider the Nets as a destination this summer — intrigued because they now reside in his hometown.

O’Neal, the Cavs “other” free agent, praised the new Prudential Center as being an NBA hotspot and said he would rather them not move to Brooklyn in 2013.

“I think it’s better than most arenas, I think it’s one of the best arenas in the country,” O’Neal told The Post following the Cavaliers’ stunning second-round elimination against Boston on Thursday night. “Hopefully they can stay there forever. I don’t know what’s going on with the Brooklyn situation, but it says a lot for the city of Newark.” Says: Shaq has limited impact at this point in his basketball career, and the Nets have Brook Lopez at center already. So while it’s fun to think about O’Neal heading over to Newark, in reality he’ll probably wind up continuing to play elsewhere, for contenders who need him a bit more.

The AP reports:

Kobe says little about early LeBron elimination

If Kobe Bryant was even slightly disappointed to learn that LeBron James won’t be showing up for a possible career-defining showdown, the Los Angeles Lakers star isn’t letting on.

Bryant had almost nothing to say Friday about the Cleveland Cavaliers’ playoff elimination, which ruined the best chance yet for a finals meeting with James.

“I don’t know,” Bryant said when asked what he thought of Boston’s Game 6 victory, before an awkward silence with the phalanx of television cameras and digital recorders pointed at him in a back corner of the Lakers’ training complex.

Surely Bryant realizes the anticipation was extra-high this spring, after the superstars’ teams finished atop their respective conferences with two of the NBA’s top three records. Nike certainly spent many months hoping for the showcase of two top clients, building that unusual advertising campaign around their puppet replicas.

But while James begins his offseason, Bryant is still standing — albeit on a gimpy ankle — after persevering through an injury-riddled year. The veteran star won’t slow down for the Western Conference finals just because King James isn’t waiting on the other side. Says: I hope reporters ask Bryant about this until he gives a real response. I assume he’ll eventually say that he thought the Cavs would go further, but the Celtics are a very good team. That’s the boring, politically correct response, at least. But hopefully he gives something more interesting than that.

Robin Lopez expected to play Monday

Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports:

Robin Lopez expected to play Monday

Robin Lopez has two milestones coming in his expected return to the starting lineup Monday.

He will play a game for the first time since March 26 and will be making his career playoff debut.

“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” Lopez said. “I think it’ll hit me on the floor. I feel like I’ve been out there with the guys when I’ve been watching them the previous series.”

Lopez said his conditioning and right-leg strength, an issue because of his bulging disk pinching a nerve, have improved and he feels his instincts returning. The 7-footer is a welcome addition against the Lakers’ frontline size.

“I’m going to have to crash the boards and deter easy layups,” Lopez said.

76ers interview Elston Turner

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski met with Houston Rockets Assistant Coach Elston Turner in Philadelphia, PA today regarding the Sixers vacant head coaching position.

Joining Stefanski at the meeting with Turner was Sixers Sr. Vice President and Assistant General Manager Tony DiLeo and Sixers consultant Gene Shue.

“Elston has almost 15 years of experience as a assistant coach – most of which came under Rick Adelman, who trusted him with major responsibilities on both ends of the court, with a focus on defense – and he has experienced success at every stop during his NBA career,” Stefanski said. “I want to thank Elston for taking the time to speak with us today.”

“We will continue to evaluate the candidates and proceed with our due diligence in order to make an informed and objective decision regarding our next head coach.”

Uncertainty for LeBron begins

William C. Rhoden of the New York Times writes:

Uncertainty for LeBron begins

What distinguishes this loss from the others is that LeBron James lost more than a series: his crown lost some of its luster. A pair of uninspired performances at home against Boston left a bitter taste in the mouths of many loyal Cleveland fans. Was it his injured elbow, or did James simply lose interest? His performance in Game 5 was so detached and uninspired that there was speculation that he wanted to purposely anger Cavaliers fans to make his departure easier. Fans booed after his 15-point performance. On Friday Celtics fans improvised a derisive, “New York Knicks, New York Knicks “ chant when James went to the free throw line.

The crucial question for James right now is not where but why.

Why have things come to this?

“The only thing I can think about right now is the season being over,” James said. “You have expectations going into the postseason and you never can predict the future, but at the same time, you hope for things much brighter than what is going on right now.”

Chicago Bulls pre-draft workouts

In preparation for NBA Draft 2010, the Chicago Bulls will host a pre-draft prospect workout on Sunday, May 16, at the Berto Center in Deerfield.

NBA Draft 2010 will take place on Thursday, June 24.  Chicago currently owns one pick in this year’s draft (No. 17).

Participating in Sunday’s workout are the following players:

James Anderson (Guard, 6-6 / 210, Junior, Oklahoma State)

Paul George (Guard/Forward, 6-8 / 210, Sophomore / Fresno State)

Xavier Henry (Guard, 6-6 / 220, Freshman / Kansas)

Dominique Jones (Guard, 6-4 / 215, Junior / South Florida)

Gani Lawal (Forward, 6-9 / 234, Junior / Georgia Tech)

Samardo Samuels (Forward, 6-9 / 260, Sophomore / Louisville)

Hawks part ways with Mike Woodson

Hawks part ways with Mike Woodson

Executive VP/General Manager Rick Sund met with Coach Mike Woodson this morning and informed him that he will not be offered a new contract.

“After careful consideration, we have made a difficult decision regarding Coach Woodson’s contractual status,” said Sund. “We’re grateful for Mike’s contributions over the last six years and we want to wish him the very best.”

Named the 10th head coach in Atlanta Hawks’ history on July 8, 2004, Woodson produced a 206-286 (.419) record in six seasons at the helm of the Hawks, and a 53-29 (.646) mark this past season. He coached Atlanta to three straight postseason appearances, finishing with an 11-18 (.379) record.

Game 6: Celtics eliminate LeBron, Cavs

The AP reports:

Celtics eliminate LeBron, Cavs

Kevin Garnett scored 22 points and added 12 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo had 21 points and 12 assists to beat Cleveland 94-85 in Game 6 on Thursday night and advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Boston will play the Orlando Magic, who are undefeated in the playoffs…

Despite his sixth career playoff triple-double, James is headed for another early offseason after winning a second MVP award and leading the Cavs to an NBA-best 61 wins and a home-court advantage they never got to use…

James scored 27 points with 10 assists, and his 19 rebounds matched a career-high and were the most he’s ever had in a playoff game. But he also had nine turnovers, and he may have been hobbled by an elbow injury that limited him to dunks and short jumpers, going 8 for 21 from the floor overall…

Mo Williams scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half for the Cavaliers.

Boston’s Paul Pierce scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half after playing just nine minutes—and shooting 1-for-5—in the first with foul trouble…

Antawn Jamison, acquired at the trade deadline from Washington, had just five points…

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:

The Cavs go into an off-season full of fear and loathing. At the final buzzer, James’ three-year, $42 million contract officially ended.

Attempting to shake off a wave of national criticism about his spiritless play two nights before, James ran a backdoor cut and threw down a two-handed dunk on the Cavs’ first offensive possession to attempt to set a tone. He played with that sort of vigor for the rest of the game, legs pumping, eyes darting and a desire for the ball…

When it wasn’t Garnett in the half court, it was guard Rajon Rondo in the open court. The Cavs tried half a dozen defenders on him, including James, in the series, too. None of them really worked.

It got to the point where the crowd at TD Garden would rise to its feet whenever Rondo got the ball on a fast break, just knowing he was going to do something special. He got plenty of chances in Game 6 — the Cavs turned the ball over a miserable 24 times, costing them 27 points.

The Celtics had 19 fast-break points and Rondo was in charge of them all, scoring 21 points with 12 assists to finish as the best player in the series.

To add insult to the situation, the Celtics’ bench dominated the Cavs’ bench as Tony Allen and Rasheed Wallace combined for 23 points.

The Boston Herald reports:

The Celtics’ physical approach continued to work. The Cavs, stripped of their flow, shot 38.4 percent overall from the field, 29.4 percent from 3-point range and just 70.6 percent from the line.

The Celtics were even worse from the stripe (63.6 percent), but their best work came at the other end.

“We just never got into a rhythm against this team, and they had something to do with it,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “We were trying to get on the floor for loose balls and rebounds, but we just never had a rhythm for the game.

“We made runs, and we even took the lead a couple of times. But it was hard to find the rhythm. They’ve always been a great defensive team. The regular season is a lot different from the postseason. We knew they would be a different team.”

Jack Ramsey tosses doubt at Mike Brown

Marc Berman of the New York Post reports (via the Post blog):

Jack Ramsey, former legendary coach and ESPN Radio’s color man for this second-round series, blames coach Mike Brown for the Cavaliers’ dire predicament, not LeBron James.

Ramsey believes Brown hasn’t made any strategic adjustments to get James better looks against the Celtics’ swarming help defense, feels the coach should push the pace and get Antawn Jamison more involved.

Speaking at the morning shootaround, Ramsey told The Post, “I think the pieces are there. But you got to use the pieces you have. Coaches have to make adjustments to what the other team is doing and find ways to beat that.”

Brown said this morning he planned to give Boston “a different look” and there’s rumors he’s considering playing James at point guard tonight.

The Boston Herald reports:

A “psychotic” Boston man is accused of threatening to kill NBA star Juwan Howard and his family as well as attempting to extort $1 million from the Portland Trail Blazers forward, prosecutors and police said.

“He has been doing this for years, and he’s never actually spoken to my husband, he’s never even met him, but he’s obsessed with him,” said Jenine Howard in a phone interview after the arrest of Rahmal W. Stinson, 30, of Dorchester. “He’s showed up at games, and mailed gifts and leaves obscene messages. We’ve gotten additional security and we feel pretty safe. But he makes me nervous.”

Stinson, who was arrested Tuesday, was determined to be psychotic and is locked up in Bridgewater State Hospital, where he is undergoing a 20-day evaluation, according to Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley’s office.

Stinson’s 12-year-old child is the daughter of Jenine Howard’s sister and occasionally stays at the Howards’ Houston home, according to the family. Stinson frequently calls the home, and on March 20 allegedly threatened to kill the entire household, police said.

The AP reports:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says the NBA should raise its minimum age for entry into the league to 21.

The NBA’s career scoring leader and centre on the Los Angeles Lakers’ 1980s “Showtime” teams said Wednesday there’s a disturbing sense of entitlement among many of today’s young pros.

“They get precocious kids from high school who think they’re rock stars — ‘Where’s my $30 million?’ “ said Abdul-Jabbar, who was in Omaha to speak at the B’nai B’rith sports banquet. “The attitudes have changed, and the game has suffered because of that, and it has certainly hurt the college game.” …

“When I played, the players had to go to college and earn their way onto the court, meaning that there were upperclassmen ahead of them,” he said. “Players who had to go through that and had to go to class, when they got to be professional athletes, they were a lot better qualified.”

Abdul-Jabbar said if college weren’t the right place for a player, the player should, as an alternative, be required to play in a minor league or developmental league.

Read fan discussion and share your own opinion in this forum topic.

LeBron James playing passively in Cavs playoff losses to Celtics

The basketball world has noticed that LeBron James isn’t playing with his usual fire in the second round NBA playoffs series between the Cavaliers and Celtics.

Especially in the Cavs losses.

LeBron’s squad is now down 3 games to 2 in the best-of-7 series.

Is his right elbow more of an issue than previously thought? Or:

Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, writing at LeBron James, reports:

How can you allow your team to lose 120-88 on your home court as you did to Boston in Tuesday’s Game 5? Certainly, you couldn’t win it yourself. But early in the game, you seemed resigned to the worst, taking only 14 shots and being outplayed and outhustled by Paul Pierce.

In the Cavs’ three losses, you have attempted only 18, 15 and 14 shots.

Where is the LeBron James who went down firing in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, averaging 38 points in this six games against Orlando?

Or the LeBron James who fired up 20-25-23-24 shots in the last four games of the 2008 series against the Celtics. Or the LeBron James who scored 45 in that Game 7 loss in Boston?

Or how about the LeBron James who had a miserable ordeal in the four-game sweep by San Antonio in 2007, but still put up 16-21-23-30 shots? In 2006 when the Cavs were eliminated 79-61 in a Game 7 at Detroit, you were 11-of-24 from the field for 27 points.

LeBron, you have always gone out with fire in your eyes, your finger on the trigger. You have been willing to take the criticism, even when you know that the Cavs had not supplied you with much support.

The world will tune in Thursday night for Game 6 in Boston.

Nick Collison has right knee surgery

Nick Collison has right knee surgery

Oklahoma City Thunder forward/center Nick Collison underwent successful arthroscopic surgery yesterday on his right knee.

The seven-year veteran averaged 5.9 points and 5.1 rebounds in 75 games this season for the Thunder.

Collison will begin rehabilitation immediately and is expected to resume his off-season training later this summer.

The AP reports:

Celtics shock Cavs with 32-point win

Ray Allen scored 25 points, Rajon Rondo scored all of his 16 in the second half and the Celtics, once thought too old to challenge for another title, beat James and the Cavs 120-88 in Game 5 on Tuesday night to move within one win of knocking the league’s top team from the playoffs.

Paul Pierce added 21 and Kevin Garnett 18 for the Celtics, who handed the Cavs their worst home playoff loss in history and can end Cleveland’s season with a win in Game 6 on Thursday night…

LeBron James, on the verge of an expected trip into free agency on July 1, had an atrocious game. He scored 15 points on 3-of-14 shooting, a startling outing for the 25-year-old who has been playing with a sprained elbow. He refused to use his injury as an excuse…

Rondo, coming off a 29-point, 18-rebound, 13-assist performance in Game 4, was held without a point in the first half as the Cavs concentrated their defense on stopping the point guard from penetrating into the paint. He finally got loose in the third, scoring 12 as the Celtics opened a 21-point lead…

James missed his first seven shots before he got loose on a leak-out dunk with 6:15 left in the third.

The Cavs led 29-21 when, with Rondo on the bench, Boston’s Big Three of Allen, Garnett and Pierce did all the scoring in a 16-0 run that put the Celtics ahead by eight.

George M. Thomas of the Akron Beacon Journal reports:

The Cavs trailed just 50-44 at halftime, but that changed at the onset of the third quarter. Allen came out and made two consecutive 3-point shots to quickly double the lead to 12 points.

With Allen heating up, Brown sent guard Anthony Parker out on him and put Mo Williams back on Rondo. Rondo went directly at Williams to the tune of eight quick points before Brown called a timeout. After the timeout, Williams disappeared for the remainder of the third quarter, along with the Cavs’ hopes for winning the game.

”We have to do a better job with our team defense,” Brown said. ”Mo had gotten beaten a couple times, but there were a couple of times when we didn’t play the right defense behind him.”

The blame is not solely on Williams; there’s plenty to go around. After Tuesday’s game, there has to be a question about James’ health. After enduring a miserable Game 4, if he were true to form, he would return to inflict damage on the Celtics in Game 5. That wasn’t the case.

The AP reports:

The New Orleans Hornets continue to interview candidates for their vacant coaching job; former NBA head coach Lawrence Frank and current Portland assistant Monty Williams are the latest.

Team spokesman Harold Kaufman confirms that Frank and Williams met with team officials on Tuesday in New Orleans, bringing the number of candidates interviewed by the Hornets up to seven.

London may host regular season NBA game

When it comes to promoting itself, the NBA is all about global expansion. (And those constant “NBA Cares” ads.) And the next logical step is to have a few regular season games take place overseas.

I would assume that the team(s) losing home games would have to be compensated for their lost income. But other than that, it seems pretty easy to work out.

Reuters reports:

The NBA is actively considering staging a regular-season game in London next season, Commissioner David Stern said.

Stern, speaking to reporters before Monday’s playoff game in Salt Lake City between the Jazz and the visiting Lakers, reaffirmed a previous commitment to bring the NBA to London before the city hosts the 2012 Olympics.

I do not believe that hosting preseason games overseas helps promote the NBA. In preseason, the stars play limited minutes. Lots of players aren’t in peak physical condition. And preseason games don’t matter. That’s not the best way to win new fans.

Jody Genessy of the Deseret News reports:

Has Carlos Boozer played last game for Jazz?

Nobody knows where Carlos Boozer will end up after he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

That’s not the only unsettled — and unsettling — question regarding the Utah Jazz power forward.

Many had to wonder where he was Monday for most of Game 4, too.

Miami? Chicago? New Jersey? Detroit?

Boozer — especially his offensive game the Jazz rely on — was missing in action for much of the night during Utah’s season-ending 111-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at EnergySolutions Arena.

“I thought I was terrible,” Boozer admitted.

Struggling again to cope with the Los Angeles Lakers’ length, Boozer didn’t seem to save his best for what could have been his last performance in a Jazz uniform. Though he grabbed 14 rebounds, Boozer’s shot was way off again… He missed seven of 11 field goals and finished with only 10 points.

Grizzlies and Coach Lionel Hollins agree to contract extension

The Memphis Grizzlies and Head Coach Lionel Hollins have agreed on a multi-year contract extension, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.

In his first full season as an NBA head coach, Hollins guided Memphis to a 40-42 record (.488), the fourth-best season in the franchise’s 15-year history.  The Grizzlies recorded a 16-game improvement in 2009-10, second only to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Since naming Hollins the 11th head coach in club history on Jan. 25, 2009, Memphis has steadily improved, posting a 53-68 record (.438) after going 55-152 (.266) in the two-and-a-half seasons prior.

Under Hollins, the Grizzlies set franchise records in 2009-10 for scoring (102.5 points) and field goal percentage (.469) while establishing the longest home and road winning streaks in club history (11-game home winning streak from Dec. 18, 2009-Jan. 25, 2010, seven-game road winning streak from Feb. 17-March 10, 2010).  The former 1978 NBA All-Star with the Portland Trail Blazers also helped Grizzlies forward and nine-year NBA veteran Zach Randolph earn his first career All-Star appearance, as he set or tied 16 franchise records in his first season in the Bluff City.

The 22-year NBA coaching veteran was named the Western Conference Coach of the Month after leading the Grizzlies to a 9-4 record (.692) in December, the best December record and sixth-highest winning percentage for a single month in team history.

An original member of the Grizzlies organization as an assistant coach with Vancouver in 1995, Hollins rallied Memphis to win 39 of its final 73 games (.534) after a 1-8 start to the season.  He also helped the Grizzlies snap long-standing road losing streaks against opponents such as the San Antonio Spurs (10 games), New Orleans Hornets (eight games), Phoenix Suns (seven games), Chicago Bulls (five games), Portland Trail Blazers (four games) and Philadelphia 76ers (four games).  The Grizzlies also defeated every NBA division leader this season.

A member of the 1977 NBA Champion Portland Trail Blazers, Hollins holds a lifetime NBA coaching record of 71-114 (.384), having served as the Grizzlies’ interim head coach for 60 games in the 1999-00 season and four games during the 2004-05 campaign.

Game 4: Lakers eliminate Jazz

The AP reports:

The Lakers stormed out to a 22-point lead in the first half, then withstood a brief surge by Utah in the third quarter before regaining control in the fourth and winning 111-96 on Monday night, sweeping the second-round series and advancing to the Western Conference finals for the third straight year.

“With close-out games, you have a tendency to lose focus,” said Kobe Bryant, who scored 32 for the Lakers. “We kept our concentration and paid attention to detail.”

Pau Gasol added 33 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, who are off until hosting the Phoenix Suns next Monday in Game 1 of the West finals…

“We’re a playoff team and they’re a championship team. They’re just better than we are,” said Deron Williams, who had 21 points and nine assists for the Jazz…

Carlos Boozer had 10 points and 14 rebounds, and Kyrylo Fesenko added 12 rebounds for Utah, which was swept for the first time in 21 years.

Game 4: Magic eliminate Hawks

The AP reports:

Vince Carter scored 22 points to lead another dominating performance by the Magic, which finished off its second straight playoff sweep with a 98-84 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.

Orlando won the four games by an average of 25.3 points—a total blowout that no one could have expected in a matchup between the teams that finished second and third in the Eastern Conference. It was the most lopsided four-game sweep in NBA playoff history, according to STATS LLC…

“We would have to be playing at our absolute, absolute best—like, mistake free—to beat that team,” said Jamal Crawford, who led Atlanta with 18 points…

Atlanta held Dwight Howard to 13 points and eight rebounds, but the Magic had plenty of other options…

Jameer Nelson was unstoppable, baffling the Hawks with his now-you-see-him, now-you-don’t quickness. He finished with 16 points and nine assists. Rashard Lewis scored 17 points, knocking down four 3-pointers. Mickael Pietrus scored 12 points—all of them from beyond the arc.

As a team, Orlando was 16 of 37 from 3-point range, taking more long-range shots than two-pointers (28). Overall, the Magic shot 55 percent from the field and never trailed during either game in Atlanta…

Hawks star Joe Johnson finished off a miserable series by scoring only 14 points on 5-for-15 shooting.

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