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Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Lackluster Team Off To A Despondent Start- The New York Knicks

By David

Over the course of the first eleven disparaging games, beleaguered New York Knicks president and head coach Isiah Thomas has transformed his team into a shell of what they once were.

At 3-8, New York is not only the laughing stock of the league on the court, but they are the first rate model of incompetence, mismanagement and hopelessness in the front office. Thomas has driven the unbridled and distasteful organization into unchartered territories over the course of the past several weeks as the Knicks have endured a disheartening eight losing streak, tension and disarray in the locker room and public lashings from sports writers, terrestrial radio personalities and fans across the tri state area.

During a west cost swing in which the team went 0-4 and was outscored nightly by 13 points per game, Thomas and disappointing point guard Stephon Marbury engaged in a unheralded fiasco over the player’s contribution to the team and role as a positive leader on and off the court. After indicating to his disgruntled and angered point guard to leave the team if he could not handle being benched, Thomas sheepishly permitted Marbury to rejoin the team in Los Angeles.

His blatant mishandling, miscommunication and complete bungling of this situation further lends to the notion that he is ill equipped in several facets to not only coach, but guide the Knicks organization on a consistent basis.

Outside of the ’’Fire Isiah’’ chants heard regularly at Madison Square Garden, Thomas has positioned the Knicks in a less beneficial environment than when Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown was roaming the sidelines. His apparent lack of responsibility for any events that transpire under his tutelage as headmaster of the team, his sickening and demeaning smile and lack of urgency to resurrect an already sinking ship all serve as principle reasons for the Knicks destructive debacle through the first month of the season.

At the current juncture, the best operative is to fire Isiah Thomas, rid him of all responsibilities within the front office and establish a clean slat in which to work with.

Undoubtedly, the opportunity to secure a playoff spot in the porous eastern Conference has been eliminated as players have stopped performing for their coach, the post court presence of Eddy Curry and Zack Randolph is as clear as Alex Rodriguez’s credibility and embattled veteran Stephon Marbury has accrued more boarding passes than victories this month.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wizards G Gilbert Arenas undergoes left knee surgery, to miss 3 months

By MIKE CRANSTON, AP Sports Writer
November 21, 2007

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Washington Wizards leading scorer Gilbert Arenas underwent two different surgical procedures on his left knee on Wednesday and will miss about three months.

Arenas had been experiencing swelling and soreness in the knee which he had surgically repaired late last season. After sitting out the past two games, Arenas did not travel with the team to Charlotte and underwent an MRI Wednesday morning, which revealed a cartilage tear.

"I'm just going to sit in my sorrows again. I have three months to (be) back positive again, but right now, it's hard," Arenas said in a posting on his blog Wednesday. "I need to start thinking about longevity in my career instead of just this injury right now. Every great player has missed at least one year."

Team physician Dr. Marc Connell repaired a partial tear of the meniscus and performed microfracture surgery on a non-weight bearing bone on the side of his knee.

"It's not as bad as the injury in April, but it's tough," wrote Arenas, who will begin rehabilitation next week.

"We expect Gilbert to make a full recovery," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said.

The 6-foot-4 Arenas is averaging 22.4 points. The Wizards won both games against struggling Portland and Philadelphia without Arenas and earned their sixth straight victory hours after Arenas went under the knife, outlasting Charlotte 114-111 in overtime Wednesday.

"We did win two games in convincing fashion without him, but it wasn't like it was the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs," Wizards center Brendan Haywood said before the win over the Bobcats. "Playing without Gilbert Arenas is going to hurt this team."

Arenas began the season by playing as though nothing was wrong, averaging about 40 minutes per game. But after Washington's third game, he said his knee felt stiff, "like a 5-pound weight is on it."

He then had excess fluid drained from the knee for the second time in three weeks on Nov. 7. He played the next night, a loss to New Jersey that dropped the Wizards to 0-4, but had a long conversation with Nets star Jason Kidd on the court after the final buzzer. Kidd offered advice about dealing with a return from surgery.

Arenas stayed in the lineup until missing Saturday's game against Portland, then sitting again Tuesday against Philadelphia. Without Arenas, coach Eddie Jordan said Antonio Daniels will continue to play point guard.

"Every team goes through it, and every team tries to find a way to win on a consistent basis," Jordan said. "We've gotten better at moving the ball."

This whole ordeal has all been a bit new to Arenas -- a three-time All-Star -- whose only previous significant injury in the NBA was an abdominal problem that limited him to 55 games in 2003-04.

He finished third in the league in scoring average in 2006-07 at 28.4 points, but missed the last two weeks of the regular season and all of the playoffs after having knee surgery.

"Gilbert worked extremely hard this summer to be ready for the beginning of the regular season," Grunfeld said. "This is very unfortunate because he was starting to play at a high level prior to the surgery."

It's another blow to the Wizards, who lost Arenas and Caron Butler to season-ending injuries late last season. Etan Thomas is out this season after undergoing heart surgery, while Oleksiy Pecherov is recovering from a broken ankle.

Haywood didn't play against the Bobcats because of a sprained left ankle, leaving Washington with only nine healthy players.

"That's the business, man," Haywood said. "Life's not always fair. He's out right now and everybody is down about it. Everybody wishes him the best. Right now all we can do is pray for him and hope he has a speedy recovery."

Jordan wouldn't say whether he'll push management to sign another player.

AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich in Washington contributed to this report.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nets G Carter out indefinitely with ankle sprain

November 12, 2007
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- New Jersey Nets guard Vince Carter will be sidelined indefinitely with a right ankle sprain, the team announced Monday.

The injury occurred while Carter was dunking in the third quarter of Saturday's 112-101 loss to the Boston Celtics.

A MRI on Monday revealed a grade-one sprain. Carter will continue to receive treatment on his ankle, and the team has set no timetable for his return.
In New Jersey's first six games of the season, Carter averaged 17.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists. The eight-time All-Star swingman signed a four-year contract extension this past offseason reportedly worth $61 million in guaranteed money.

Guard Stephon Marbury leaves Knicks, Thomas says he's welcome back

By BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer
November 13, 2007

PHOENIX (AP) -- Stephon Marbury has left the New York Knicks and there is no word on when, or even if, he might rejoin the team.

Marbury was absent from the team's morning shootaround, and failed to show up when the Knicks played the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.

Coach Isiah Thomas would only confirm Marbury had left and that the guard would be welcome back.

"That is an in-house matter, and we'll continue to keep it in-house," Thomas said after the shootaround. "However, he is welcome back, and we want him as a member of this team."

WNBC New York and The New York Post reported Marbury contacted them electronically to say he had Thomas' permission to leave the team.
"I would never leave my team on my own," Marbury told The Post. "What I'm telling you is that I got permission to leave from Isiah. He said I could go home."

Thomas would not confirm that he allowed Marbury to leave. In fact, the Knicks' coach avoided the subject altogether in his meeting with reporters before the Suns' game.

"We'll talk about the Phoenix Suns and the game at hand," he said. "Whatever matters we have in-house we'll try to keep in-house."

The Post reported on its Web site that Marbury had flown back to New York and did not plan to join the team in Los Angeles for its game against the Clippers on Wednesday night.

Marbury's absence followed a story in Tuesday's New York Daily News indicating the Knicks were trying to reduce his role or get rid of him. A trade seems unlikely, because Marbury is scheduled to earn $42 million over the next two seasons.

Several of Marbury's teammates said his departure took them by surprise, but they expressed no hard feelings.

"You always support your teammates," forward Jared Jeffries said. "A lot of people on the outside don't understand what guys go through with their family, their friends, with this team, with anything. Whenever somebody goes through a tough time you support your teammate."

Mardy Collins got the start in Marbury's place, but said he would love to have him back.

"Yeah, definitely. He's been nothing but good to me ever since I've been here. There's not a bad thing I can say about Steph," Collins said. "Whatever happens, happens. I'm just here and whenever my number is called I go out there and compete."

At the shootaround, Thomas said this was not the first time this kind of incident has happened.

"It seems like he and I go through this every November, then a couple of weeks go by and we kind of kiss and make up, then we go back to the business of trying to win basketball games."

Following a contentious relationship with former coach Larry Brown, Marbury soon learned playing for Thomas would not be any easier.

Early last season, Marbury found himself spending extended time on the bench in the second half of games, including some in which he didn't start the third period.

"... Make no mistake about it, if I don't get exactly what I want, then there'll be consequences," Thomas said then.

As president of the Knicks, Thomas brought Marbury back to his hometown in 2004 and the two seemed to be close. That changed, however, when Thomas also became the head coach last season.

"My relationship as a coach is definitely a different relationship as president," Thomas said. "When you're coaching, I don't think there's a player that I've ever coached that hasn't at some point in time not liked me. But that's what coaching's all about."

Friday, November 02, 2007

Bulls GM Paxson Denies Kobe to Chicago Trade Rumors

Posted Nov 1 2007 7:16PM

DEERFIELD, Ill., Nov. 1 (AP) -- Kobe Bryant won't be joining the Chicago Bulls anytime soon.

General manager John Paxson basically squashed the notion that the Los Angeles Lakers' superstar will wind up in Chicago, saying the teams were never on the verge of a deal and talks were over for now.

"There's not a deal done,'' he said Thursday. "There's not going to be a deal done. All the things that were out there were really unfair to all of us who were trying to do our jobs. The misinformation ... I think gets in the way of the process. It's just such a complicated thing and we kind of put it to rest now.''

Paxson said they discussed "parameters,'' but the sides "never got down to the nuts and bolts of it because there was never a deal to be done.''

"That's the reality of it,'' he said. "People can make what they want of it, but what I know is that part of it is over with.''

Paxson's comments came a day after a flurry of rumors. Speculation picked up Wednesday, with one report saying the Bulls, Sacramento Kings and Lakers were discussing a three-way deal that would bring the superstar to Chicago.

That scenario had Paxson sending Ben Gordon and a signed-and-traded P.J. Brown to Sacramento, with Chicago's Ben Wallace and the Kings' Ron Artest heading to Los Angeles. Paxson dismissed the rumor, saying a deal involving Brown would send the Bulls over the luxury tax threshold -- something they're reluctant to do.

Bryant, speaking before news of Paxson's comments reached the Lakers' El Segundo, Calif., practice facility, said he is monitoring the rumors "just to keep tabs on how my teammates are reacting to it.''

"We've been doing a pretty good job of staying focused,'' he said. "I've talked to them. From that standpoint, I don't think it's that difficult. If you didn't speak to them or kind of fill them in, it would get a little confusing.''

Bryant drew some boos during introductions before the Lakers' season-opening 95-93 loss to Houston on Tuesday, after calling the front office a mess and asking to be traded during the offseason. The jeers turned to cheers as Bryant scored 18 of his 45 points in the fourth quarter to lead a comeback.

The trade deadline isn't until February, so it's possible talks between the Lakers and Bulls could resume.

"Who knows?'' Paxson said. "The reality is that right now, it's done.''

Paxson was concerned the issue would become a distraction, so he decided to put it to rest.

"I think today sends a message that our guys don't have to worry about anything right now,'' Paxson said.

Then again, coach Scott Skiles wondered: "What's resolving anything in all sports until the trading deadline?''

"Just because this rumor at some point dies down, does that mean another one's not going to crop up in two weeks?'' he asked. "It's ongoing, it's all the time. Now, this is one that involves a very, very high profile player, so I understand the extra attention on it.''

With the rumors swirling, Chicago played a flat first half and was just as bad at the end in losing the season opener 112-103 at New Jersey on Wednesday. Just about every Bull's name has surfaced in rumors, and Luol Deng acknowledged the Kobe questions are wearing on him.

"I am,'' he said when asked if he's annoyed by them. "But you guys want to get to the bottom of it so I've just got to keep answering your questions.''

Several issues stand in the way of a Bryant deal.

Bryant has a no-trade clause and can opt out in the summer 2009, although he has said he wouldn't mind playing in Chicago. Paxson does not want to gut his roster or part with Deng, who appeared to be on the verge of stardom last season.

Would Bryant want to go to a Bulls team without Deng?

And if there's no deal with Chicago, where does that leave the Lakers?

"Maybe having our cake and eating it, too,'' said coach Phil Jackson, speaking after word of Paxson's comments had reached the Lakers' facility. "Dr. (Jerry) Buss reiterated many, many times that we do not want to trade Kobe Bryant but we'll listen to any comments that come our way that would give us equal parity for him.''

Paxson and Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf met with Bryant when he was a free agent in 2004. He wound up re-signing with the Lakers for seven years and $136.4 million, with that opt-out clause.

"He liked what he heard,'' Paxson said. "For that reason, he likes the Chicago Bulls, which is obviously flattering.''

But he apparently won't be joining them in the near future.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mavericks douse Cavaliers' party

By Associated Press | November 1, 2007

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers raised a championship banner last night - and then flagged.Jason Terry made six 3-pointers and scored 24 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 15, and the Dallas Mavericks, whose NBA title pursuit last season ended with a stunning first-round exit against Golden State, opened 2007-08 with a 92-74 victory over the host Cavaliers.

"We got our behinds kicked," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "Dallas came in here and did what they wanted to do offensively and defensively."

The Mavericks held a foul-plagued James scoreless in the first half - and to 10 points overall - in an impressive debut.

Jerry Stackhouse added 17 points and Devin Harris 13 for Dallas.

James shot just 2 of 11 from the field, made five turnovers, and was mostly a nonfactor in the Cavaliers' most lopsided home loss since April 5, 2005.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 17 points and 18 rebounds for Cleveland, which before the game unfurled the franchise's first Eastern Conference championship banner.

"It's the first game. Hopefully, we can put it behind us," James said. "We didn't play well - at all. . . . We didn't do anything right. We didn't play hard. We didn't execute."

The Mavericks schooled the Cavaliers with ball movement, help defense, and a go-for-the-throat attitude from the start. Dallas led by 14 after one quarter, 20 at halftime, and built a 25-point advantage before the Cavaliers closed down the stretch.

The Mavericks rolled despite playing without All-Star swingman Josh Howard, serving a two-game suspension for his role in an altercation with Sacramento's Brad Miller in a preseason game.

Nuggets 120, SuperSonics 103 - Carmelo Anthony bottled up rookie Kevin Durant on defense, and showed him a move or two on offense, finished with 32 points to lead Seattle to a victory in Denver.

Durant's shot was off in his NBA debut, but he still scored 18 points (on 7-for-22 shooting) in 31 minutes.

Allen Iverson had 25 points and 14 assists, and Linas Kleiza chipped in 18 points and hit five 3-pointers for the Nuggets.

Pacers 119, Wizards 110 - Jamaal Tinsley scored 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, as Indiana beat visiting Washington to give coach Jim O'Brien a win in his Pacers debut.

Mike Dunleavy had 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Danny Granger added 20 points and 13 boards for the Pacers.

Gilbert Arenas led Washington with 34 points, including a 3-pointer as time expired in regulation to force overtime.

Antawn Jamison had 27 points and 16 rebounds, Caron Butler had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Brendan Haywood added 10 points and 13 boards.

Nets 112, Bulls 103 - Antoine Wright scored 14 of his career-high 21 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead host New Jersey over Chicago.

Richard Jefferson added 29 points and 10 rebounds, Vince Carter had 24 points and a big steal late, and Jason Kidd handed out 13 assists to lead the Nets to their 12th straight win over Chicago in New Jersey.

Hornets 104, Kings 90 - Chris Paul had 22 points and 12 assists, while Peja Stojakovic showed some of his All-Star form of old with 19 points to help host New Orleans beat Sacramento.

Spurs 104, Grizzlies 101 - Manu Ginobili scored 30 points, including the go-ahead basket with 32 seconds left, as visiting San Antonio moved to 2-0 by beating Memphis.

Raptors 106, 76ers 97 - Andrea Bargnani scored 20 points as Toronto began its defense of the Atlantic Division title with a victory over visiting Philadelphia.

Magic 102, Bucks 83 - Rashard Lewis scored 26 points and Hedo Turkoglu had 24 to lift Orlando over Milwaukee

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Trade has upside, potential pitfalls for Heat and T'wolves

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Thursday, October 25, 2007

MIAMI — The Heat filled several deficiencies with one trade Wednesday when it acquired swingman Ricky Davis and center Mark Blount from Minnesota, and sent forwards Antoine Walker and Wayne Simien, center Michael Doleac and a conditional first-round pick to the Timberwolves.

The major components of the deal are Davis and Walker, talented but sometimes troubled players, although neither is considered a bad seed.
Tom Heinsohn, the Hall of Famer, former coach and longtime television analyst of the Boston Celtics, has rare insight on the deal. He saw Walker, Davis and Blount on a nightly basis when each played for Boston. He said the trade reestablishes Miami as a favorite to win the Eastern Conference title, but added everything still rests on center Shaquille O'Neal.

"If Shaq isn't 100 percent they're going to struggle even with Ricky Davis and Dwyane Wade," Heinsohn said.

Heat President and coach Pat Riley was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Davis, a multitalented 10th-year player, likely will start at small forward for Miami, be the No. 3 scorer when guard Wade returns from off-season shoulder and knee surgeries, and serve as a three-point shooter. In addition, he's athletic, can play perimeter defense and occasionally play backup shooting guard. Each is a valuable role for the Heat.

Davis was with the Heat in the 2000-01 season but played just seven games. Last season he averaged 17 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists for Minnesota. He shot 46.5 percent from the field, including a career-best 39.7 percent on three-pointers. He has averaged 16.5 ppg in the past six seasons.

But Davis has served at least two team-imposed suspensions in the past five years because of his conduct and was involved in one of the NBA's most infamous plays in recent memory in 2003 when he tried to complete the first triple-double of his career in what many considered unethical fashion.

Davis, playing for Cleveland at the time, tried to intentionally shoot at the wrong basket so he could grab a rebound and attain his 10th board. Cleveland was leading Utah by 25 points at the time and only six seconds remained in the game. Utah guard DeShawn Stevenson, outraged by the act, wrapped his arms around Davis, preventing the attempted shot.

Said Davis: "They should be mad. Any team that gets beat that bad shouldn't be happy. But I wouldn't do it again. I just wouldn't."

This came a few months after Davis served a two-game suspension imposed by Cleveland coach John Lucas for "disciplinary reasons."

In January, Davis served a team-imposed one-game suspension after he refused to reenter Minnesota's 104-98 double overtime loss against Detroit.

"Ricky is very, very competitive if guided in the right direction," Heinsohn said.

But, Heinsohn warned, "If he feels like he's not part of what's going on he could rebel because he's a strong personality."

Walker, a multitalented 12th-year player, drew Riley's ire twice this year. He served a four-game suspension in January for being over the team-mandated body-fat limit and sat out at least one training-camp practice this month for the same infraction.

The Timberwolves say they aren't concerned.

"Pat's idea of conditioning and the rest of us, I think we're a little different," said Kevin McHale, Minnesota's vice president of basketball operations. "I'd say he's probably in pretty good shape."

Both teams made out OK salary-wise.

Blount, 31, averaged 12.3 points and 6.2 rebounds last season but brings a big contract. He's due $7.6 million this year and $8.2 million next year. There's a player option for $8.8 million in 2009-10, meaning Blount could opt out and become an unrestricted free agent, but it's unlikely because he'd never get as much from another team.

Still, Blount should be an upgrade over Doleac as the No. 3 center behind O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning. And he'll slide in as O'Neal's primary backup when Mourning retires after this season, solving another Heat worry.

Davis will earn $6.8 million this season but he's in the final year of his deal.

Doleac's agent, Glenn Schwartzman, who is based in West Palm Beach, said his client is upbeat.

"It's been good," he said of Doleac's three seasons with the Heat. "When we first signed the deal three years ago he was brought in to be Shaq's backup. Obviously (with center Alonzo Mourning's return), his role has changed. I think he's excited to go to another place and play as a regular like he did his first year here."

Kings G Mike Bibby out 6-8 weeks with injured thumb

October 27, 2007

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Sacramento Kings guard Mike Bibby will miss at least the first six weeks of the regular season after tearing a ligament in his left thumb.

Bibby was injured during Thursday's practice, and an MRI revealed the tear Friday night. The injury could sideline the point guard for two months or longer, the team said.

Bibby averaged 17.1 points and 4.7 assists last season while playing in all 82 games for the Kings, who missed the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons. The 10th-year pro, a former No. 2 overall draft pick, has been with Sacramento for the past six seasons, missing just two games over the previous four years.

Bibby played through a serious injury to his right thumb last season. With a tendon detached from the bone, he finished with the worst shooting percentage of his career.

The Kings already lost rookie center Spencer Hawes to a knee injury during training camp, and forward Ron Artest is suspended for the first seven games of the regular season after pleading no contest to a charge related to domestic violence.

Quincy Douby, a second-year pro from Rutgers, will take Bibby's place in the starting lineup. He scored 12 points while starting in the Kings' preseason finale in Las Vegas on Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Griffin autopsy shows alcohol in system when hit by train

October 26, 2007

HOUSTON (AP) -- Former NBA player Eddie Griffin had more than three times the legal alcohol limit in his system when he crashed his sport utility vehicle into a moving train and died this summer, according to an autopsy report released Friday.

The Harris County Medical Examiner's office said the 25-year-old Griffin died of "multiple blunt force injuries." The medical examiner's office performed tests on Griffin's bile and blood from his heart and liver and determined his blood-alcohol level was 0.26. The legal limit in Texas is 0.08.
Tests found no traces of cocaine, amphetamines or any other narcotics.

The 6-foot-10 Griffin was killed about 1:20 a.m. on Aug. 17. His injuries from the fiery crash included two collapsed lungs, a lacerated liver and kidney, four broken ribs and burns over most of his body.

Griffin was born in Philadelphia and was considered one of the nation's top prospects coming out of Roman Catholic High School. He averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks as a freshman at Seton Hall, but he got into a fight with a teammate during the 2000-01 season, a sign of the problems to come.

He was drafted seventh overall in 2001 by New Jersey, and was immediately dealt to Houston. Griffin averaged 8.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.63 blocks over his first two seasons with the Rockets. In November 2003, he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, after a woman claiming to be his girlfriend accused him of punching her in the face and shooting a pistol at her car as she drove away.

Griffin missed practices and a team flight, and the Rockets suspended him, then cut him in December 2003. He quickly signed by the Nets, but he was soon jailed for a violation tied to the shooting incident and linked to a late-night fight at a New Jersey hotel.

Minnesota signed him for 2004-05 season. He occasionally put up big numbers with the Wolves, but also continued to find trouble off the court.

He pleaded guilty early in the 2006-07 season after hitting a parked car while out late one night in Minneapolis. He was later suspended by the NBA for five games in January for violating the anti-drug program and the Wolves cut him in March 2007.

Griffin was living in Houston at the time of his death and talked about making a professional comeback only weeks before the fatal crash.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Houston ends comeback attempt with Knicks

NEW YORK (AP) -- Allan Houston ended his comeback attempt with the New York Knicks on Saturday, saving Isiah Thomas from possibly having to cut one of the top scorers in franchise history.

Houston rejoined his former team late last week, two years after he was forced to retire because of chronic knee pain. However, the Knicks already had the maximum 15 players under contract, and Thomas said he only gave the 36-year-old guard an invite to camp because of his history in New York.

Houston's chances were even slimmer because he didn't join the team until 10 days after practices began. He cited the timing issue in his decision to walk away again.

"While my body and my knees, in particular, feel fine, I know what is required for me to be truly effective in the NBA again, and it involves a timing and progression that would not be fair to Isiah and the Knicks right now," Houston said in a statement released by the Knicks. "With the season opening less than two weeks away, I think it is best for the team to move on without me. I appreciate the opportunity that Isiah and the Knicks have given me, and I wish the team nothing but success."

Houston played only six minutes in his lone preseason appearance Wednesday at Boston, then sat out a game at New Jersey the next night.

Houston spent nine seasons with the Knicks and is fourth on the team's career scoring list. He said upon his return that he didn't think he would try to latch on with another team if he didn't stick with the Knicks.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Jason Kidd Accused Of Grabbing Women's Crotch In Club - NYDaily News

Jason Kidd's idea that he can do whatever he wants to women has not ended, it seems.

Model claims Jason Kidd molested her in club
Thursday, October 18th 2007, 8:40 AM

A 23-year-old aspiring model who came to the city to find fame has instead found herself embroiled in a scandal with a big-time sports star.
The woman told cops New Jersey Nets guard Jason Kidd groped her crotch at a Manhattan club on Oct. 10 and then grabbed her a second time when she complained, a police source said.
"This is a young girl and she is very shaken by this, and I have to let the justice system run its course," said the woman's lawyer, Russell Adler. "The DA is working on the case right now."
A spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office said she could not confirm whether her office was investigating. Adler, of Fort Lauderdale, refused to provide further details about his client's allegations.
"This isn't a regular person," Adler said of Kidd. "This is a basketball player, so you have to be very careful."
The complaint says Kidd was partying at club Tenjune on Little West 12th St. when he walked up to the woman and grabbed her crotch at about 2:30 a.m., a police source said.
The woman said she and Kidd got into an argument and he grabbed her a second time, the source said. Bouncers broke up the spat. Kidd was not ejected from the club, the source said.
The woman filed a complaint against the NBA All-Star the following day, the source said. The Daily News does not publish the names of alleged sexual assault victims.
A police source said cops hadn't talked to Kidd as of yesterday afternoon.
Kidd has had a stormy relationship with his ex-wife, Joumana Kidd, for years. Kidd pleaded guilty in a domestic-violence incident six years ago while playing for the Phoenix Suns.
In January 2001, Kidd was arrested after his wife alleged that he slapped her in the face during an argument.
Kidd pleaded guilty to spousal abuse, was fined $200 and ordered to take anger-management training.
He claimed in divorce papers earlier this year to be the victim of spousal abuse himself. The filing came a day after a court issued him a temporary restraining order against her.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

LeBron James Looms Large in Shanghai for NBA and Nike

By STEPHEN WADE, AP Sports Writer
Posted Oct 16 2007 6:07PM

SHANGHAI, China, Oct. 16 (AP) -- LeBron James looms large in Shanghai.

He hovers over a basket in billboards around the city leading to Wednesday's NBA exhibition game between his Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic and another game Saturday in the former Portuguese territory of Macau.

"For me, growing up, I never thought about having a billboard anywhere,'' James said Tuesday, slipping off a white NBA headband and replacing it with a Cleveland Indians cap.

"You see them (billboards) locally, and then you start seeing them a little bit nationwide. And now worldwide. It's like, wow. It's like extra credit. It's unbelievable. You would never think that you could have your face somewhere else where you don't even live.''

James' shoe sponsor converted a Shanghai art gallery into a LeBron James showroom. Dubbed the "LBJ Museum,'' the promotion this week includes a freshly shellacked basketball court, aimed at pitching James in China, where 300 million people - the population of the United States - play basketball.

Nike also unveiled the latest version of James' signature shoe on Tuesday. It's the second time it's picked China - ahead of the U.S. - to show off James' newest offering. The "limited edition'' shoe was selling Tuesday for almost $200.

Nike's newest TV spot featuring James also kicked off this week in China, several weeks ahead of its U.S. premiere.

James is a hot property in basketball's most dynamic marketplace. And the NBA and Nike know it, both looking toward next year's Beijing Olympics, where James would surely capture world attention if he leads the beleaguered American basketball team to a gold medal.

Several hundred Chinese reporters and photographers showed up for Tuesday's practice at the Lu Wan Stadium. They engulfed James at the far end of the floor when he stopped shooting. He squatted on a low-slung bench, back against the wall, and stared up to answer questions, cutting deep furrows across his forehead.

"Every time I'm here it's the same response: It's great, the fans love us, the kids are great,'' James said. "The spirit the Chinese have for the game of basketball is great. Nothing surprises me now.''

He was asked whether the Cavaliers will reach the NBA finals again and the pressures facing him as another season awaits.

"I don't believe in pressure,'' he said. "So it's not hard to reduce it when you don't believe in it.''

James is one of the four most popular NBA players in China. Kobe Bryantis probably No. 1, with China-born Yao Ming, James and Allen Iverson jousting for the next spots. At 22, James is the youngest and - get this - might be more popular than Yao.

"The Chinese are looking for individual heroes,'' said Huang Risheng, a reporter with the Chinese-language Titan sports newspaper. "We are not open enough, not extroverted enough. We like the individual effort, just one man saving the whole team like James.''

"I think those three are more popular than Yao Ming. It's a contradiction. Maybe I should say we like their style of play better.''

Like the NBA, Nike's business is soaring in China. The country could generate $1 billion next year, up from about $100 million just five years ago. The NBA's does about $50 million annually and should follow Nike's growth pattern.

Nike has fashioned the preseason games in China around James, who reportedly has a seven-year deal with the shoemaker worth $90 million. Shoe rival Adidas is also promoting the games, stringing up its ads on Huaihai Road, a swanky street that includes many of the city's high-end boutiques.

Adidas' main star is the Magic's Dwight Howard, whose thundering dunks carry the company's pitch.

Nike doesn't liken James to Michael Jordan, but others have. That included at least one Chinese reporter.

"It's great to be compared to one of the greats, but my game and his game are totally different,'' James said.

The "LBJ Museum'' - it's unclear how many people recognize the initials as those of a former U.S. president - is aimed at drawing young fans. It is located near the historic French Concession area in central Shanghai. The museum offers 3-on-3 games in the run-up to this week's exhibitions and introduces James with childhood photos, jerseys from high school and shoes he's worn with Nike.

There's also a history of his NBA career starting with a photo alongside NBA commissioner David Stern from June 22, 2003, when James was chosen No. 1 in the draft.

"The idea is to help Chinese youth understand who he is, his career, his history and his personality,'' Nike spokesman Alan Marks said.

The museum also displays a copy of James' birth certificate: Dec. 30, 1984, born in Akron, Ohio, to Gloria James.

"For the first years of his life LeBron is raised by his mother and grandmother, Freda, on Hickory Street in Akron,'' reads a caption. "A milk crate hung on a telephone pole serves as the neighborhood basketball hoop attached by a few nails at whatever height the tallest available boy can reach.''

Teammate Drew Gooden said James' popularity hinges not on charm or athletic skill but on being genuine and delivering.

"He came into the league as a superstar, but for him to fill those shoes makes it all that much better,'' Gooden said. "When you live up to the hype people respect that, especially fans.''

That includes Chinese fans.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lakers owner Jerry Buss says he'd consider trading Kobe Bryant

October 12, 2007

AP - Oct 12, 12:52 am EDT

HONOLULU (AP) -- Jerry Buss has already shown that he'll part with superstars. Yet upon hearing that the Los Angeles Lakers' owner would consider trading Kobe Bryant, even Shaquille O'Neal was shocked.

"I guess it's business before loyalty. But, wow. He said that?" O'Neal said Thursday in Miami after learning Buss told reporters he would trade Bryant under the right circumstances.

Buss indeed did, telling three Los Angeles-area beat writers covering training camp in Honolulu on Wednesday that he "would certainly listen" to trade offers for the two-time NBA scoring champion.

"At any time, I think you have to do that with anybody," Buss said, discussing Bryant publicly for the first time since the often-frustrated Lakers' star asked to be traded at the end of last season. "It's just part of the game, to listen to somebody who has a dissatisfied player that you think is going to fit.

"You can't keep too many loyalties. You've got to look at it as a business. He looks at it the same way I look at it."
Buss made his comments to reporters from the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register and the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Before Thursday night's exhibition game against Golden State in Honolulu, some members of the Lakers said they weren't aware of Buss' comments.

"I didn't hear them," Lamar Odom said. "For us, we're players so, you know, I didn't hear the comments myself so I wouldn't know why there would be a different mood or a different feeling at shootaround today."

Forward Ronny Turiaf agreed that the reports did little to affect the team.

"We just play basketball. I really have nothing to say, that's between Kobe and management," he said.

The Lakers won three championships and reached the NBA finals four times in five years before O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat in July 2004. They haven't won a playoff series since O'Neal left, and O'Neal has since helped the Heat win the 2006 NBA title.

"Anyone can be traded, but mine was different because I walked into the office and demanded a trade," O'Neal said. "I don't take loyalty lightly. If you tell me you're going to do something, I expect you to do it. And then when you change your mind without telling me, that means you're disloyal so we can't be down anymore."

Bryant has four years worth $88.6 million left on the seven-year contract he signed a day after O'Neal was traded, but can terminate the deal in two years. That would leave $47.8 million on the table.

"I tend not to think in basketball terms that many years down the road because things change so dramatically, but he could test the waters at that point," Buss said. "If he still is in that frame of mind, then hopefully we can do a sign-and-trade and get some comparable talent. I would like to think that we win between now and then so it doesn't come up."

Following his trade request, Bryant kept a low profile regarding the Lakers until reporting with his teammates Oct. 1 on media day -- before the team left for Hawaii. Bryant told reporters that frustration led to his blowup. Otherwise, he said the time had come to move forward.

Buss recalled an offseason meeting in Barcelona when he tried to talk Bryant out of the trade request.

"He listened very carefully for 30, 45 minutes," Buss said. "I tried to explain to him how much the city of Los Angeles loved him, and that to leave 10 million sweethearts for unknown territory might not be the right thing to do. But when I was finished, he said he basically felt the same way. And I said, `OK. With that, I will proceed to see what's available."'

Buss didn't elaborate other than saying he might have acted on a trade offer that was "within reason."

"You have to get comparable value when you make a trade," Buss said. "It's very hard to trade somebody like him because people who have enough material to make it worthwhile are usually contenders and they don't want to make the trade."

Buss also said he occasionally told Bryant of certain offers, none of which he found fair to the Lakers, and acknowledged frustration at losing out to Boston for Kevin Garnett's services.

"I told him that I would try my best to accommodate his wishes, but that I could not afford to let him go unless we got comparable talent -- if there was such a thing," Buss said.

The 29-year-old Bryant is about to begin his 12th NBA season -- all with the Lakers.

"Dr. Buss's comments today provided more insight to a conversation we shared in Barcelona earlier this summer," Bryant said in a statement issued Thursday. "I have touched on this conversation and other conversations within the Lakers' organization during the recent months and again at the Lakers' media day. I have nothing further to add and look forward to the upcoming season with my teammates."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said if Kobe stays, he must put the distractions aside.

"My message to Kobe was that if you could play with your heart in this game, on this team, you'll be fine. If you can't, if you have divided loyalties, then you can't do it."

When asked if Bryant is focused, Jackson said, "No, he's not. He's distracted, obviously."

However, Jackson acknowledged Buss must keep to his word to Bryant.

"His first initial statement was that we're not interested in trading Kobe Bryant, but when you have a disgruntled player, an unhappy player or whatever, you have to consider you made that gentlemen's agreement with Kobe and I think that's appropriate," Jackson said.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Lakers Star Arrested In Georgia DUI Incident

Problems continue to mount for the troubled Lakers center. If he was so active and involved on the court as he has been off the court his team would be in a much more productive situation.

VALDOSTA, Ga. -- Los Angeles Lakers center Kwame Brown faces misdemeanor charges in south Georgia following a weekend incident in which his cousin was charged with driving under the influence.

Valdosta Police Department Lieutenant Bobbi McGraw says police pulled over Charles Warren Junior early Saturday morning for driving the wrong way down a one-way street. McGrawn says officers began questioning Warren about the strong smell of alcohol in his vehicle.

McGraw says Brown approached the officers and told them he was Warren's cousin and that the vehicle belonged to the basketball player.

McGraw says Brown became disruptive and tried to interfere with the officers' investigation, which led to his arrest. Police charged Brown with disorderly conduct and inferring with an officer after his cousin was charged with DUI.

The 25-year-old Brown was released shortly after his arrest. McGraw says jail officials had no record of how much he paid in bond.

Brown attended Glynn Academy High School in Brunswick, Ga. and was the High School Player of the Year his senior year. He was set to play for the University of Florida, but decided to go directly to the NBA after high school in 2001.

Lakers officials told the Los Angeles Times they are aware of the charges but declined to comment further.

Brown, the top draft pick in 2001, was accused of sexual assault in May 2006 by a college student, but prosecutors rejected the case because of a lack of evidence.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Jury: Isiah Thomas harassed executive, but the team should pay

Isiah Thomas is a complete disgrace and embarrassment to the Knicks organizations and should be relieved of his duties immediately.

By TOM HAYS, Associated Press Writer
October 2, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -- In an end to a salacious three-week trial, a jury ordered the owners of the New York Knicks to pay $11.6 million to a former team executive who endured crude insults and unwanted advances from coach Isiah Thomas.

The jury of four women and three men found Thomas and Madison Square Garden sexually harassed Anucha Browne Sanders, but it decided only MSG and chairman James Dolan should pay for harassing and firing Browne Sanders from her $260,000-a-year job out of spite.

The result: The Garden owes $6 million for condoning a hostile work environment and $2.6 million for retaliation. Dolan owes $3 million. Though Thomas is off the hook for any damages, he leaves the case with a tarnished image.

Outside court, a beaming Browne Sanders insisted her victory was more about sending a message than the money.

"What I did here, I did for every working woman in America," she said. "And that includes everyone who gets up and goes to work in the morning, everyone working in a corporate environment."

Earlier, Thomas emerged from the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan with his trademark smile but flashed anger as he reasserted his innocence amid a crush of reporters and cameras.

"I'm extremely disappointed that the jury did not see the facts in this case," he said. "I will appeal this, and I remain confident in the man that I am and what I stand for and the family that I have."

MSG said it will appeal, also denying wrongdoing in a case widely viewed as a public relations disaster for a franchise struggling to regain credibility. The team hasn't won a playoff game since Thomas was signed as president in December 2003 and has wasted millions this decade on a series of free-agent busts.

The verdict also amounts to another blemish on the resume of Thomas, a two-time NBA champion whose post-playing career has been marked by one failure after another.

Jurors, who needed roughly two days to decide on the allegations but only about an hour to determine damages, declined to talk about the verdict or how they came to their decision.

In a lawsuit filed last January, the 44-year-old Browne Sanders sought $10 million in punitive damages, but the jury was free to deviate from that figure. The verdict also means the judge will determine and award compensatory damages in the coming weeks.

The harassment verdict was expected after the jury sent a note to the judge Monday indicating it believed Thomas, the Garden and Dolan sexually harassed Browne Sanders, a married mother of three and former vice president for marketing.

The jurors had heard Browne Sanders testify that Thomas, after arriving as new team president, routinely addressed her as "bitch" and "ho" in outbursts over marketing commitments. He later did an abrupt about-face, declaring his love and suggesting an "off-site" liaison, she said.

Thomas, while admitting to using foul language around the plaintiff, insisted he never directed it toward her.

Degrading a woman in the workplace "is never OK," said Thomas, a married father of two. "It is never appropriate."

Dolan and a string of other executives also took the witness stand to deny they tolerated or witnessed sexual harassment. They testified Browne Sanders was fired because she was incompetent on budget matters, and because she later sought to undermine an internal inquiry into her allegations against Thomas.

The trial also made headlines with its testimony about an admitted tryst involving star Knicks guard Stephon Marbury and an MSG intern, an encounter the plaintiffs' attorneys argued demonstrated the organization's frat house mentality.

At the Knicks training camp in South Carolina on Tuesday, Marbury and other players said it was time for the team to move past the off-court controversy. Thomas was expected to arrive Wednesday.

"It's a tough situation and the only thing we can do now is go forward," Marbury said.

Forward Malik Rose predicted the team would rally behind Dolan and Thomas.

"We all know what kind of guy 'Mr. D' is," he said before the jury awarded punitive damages.
"We all know what kind of guy Isiah is and how they treat us. I'm sure all you guys agree this is a first-class organization."

MSG is owned by Cablevision Systems Corp., based in Bethpage, N.Y., and Dolan is Cablevision's CEO. Shares fell 35 cents, or 1 percent, to $34.71 in afternoon trading.

Associated Press writers Larry Neumeister in New York and Bruce Smith in Charleston, S.C. contributed to this report.

Monday, September 17, 2007

NBA referee Joey Crawford reinstated 5 months after suspension for improper conduct

September 17, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -- NBA referee Joey Crawford was reinstated by commissioner David Stern on Monday, five months after he was suspended indefinitely for improper on-court conduct.

San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan contended that Crawford challenged him to a fight during a game against the Dallas Mavericks on April 15. Crawford ejected Duncan while the player was laughing on the bench. Stern cited a pattern of similar acts in suspending Crawford.

"Based on my meeting with Joey Crawford, his commitment to an ongoing counseling program, and a favorable professional evaluation that was performed at my direction, I am satisfied that Joey understands the standards of game management and professionalism the NBA expects from him and that he will be able to conduct himself in accordance with those standards," Stern said in a release.

Crawford enters his 32nd season as an NBA referee. He has officiated more than 2,000 games during the regular season and 266 in the playoffs, including 38 in the NBA finals.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Phil Jackson and Roy Williams lead Hall of Fame induction class

By JIMMY GOLEN, AP Sports Writer
September 7, 2007

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- Phil Jackson learned to coach from Red Holzman, and he practiced the craft on superstars like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

"Who could have been more fortunate than I am, to have stumbled into this success?" Jackson said Friday night in his induction speech at the Basketball Hall of Fame.''

Jackson won nine NBA championships as a coach -- tying Red Auerbach for the record -- and one more as a player. But it was with the New York Knicks in their championship season of 1969-70, when Jackson was recovering from spinal fusion surgery, that he found his future calling.

Soaking up knowledge from his Hall of Fame mentor, Jackson developed the approach that allowed him to integrate lesser talents into a team with stars like Jordan and O'Neal.

"He treated the superstars and the role players in very much the same manner," said the Los Angeles Lakers' coach, who was using a cane because of offseason surgery to replace his left hip. "Everybody has to be treated with respect. But everybody has to be treated as individuals."

Jackson was inducted into the Springfield shrine on Friday night along with North Carolina coach Roy Williams; the 1966 NCAA champion Texas Western team; four-time WNBA championship coach Van Chancellor, the longtime women's coach at Mississippi recently hired by LSU; former NBA referee Mendy Rudolph; and international coaches Pedro Ferrandiz of Spain and Mirko Novosel of Yugoslavia.

Former USA Today, Chicago Tribune and New York Times writer Malcom Moran and longtime Phoenix Suns broadcaster Al McCoy were honored with the Curt Gowdy Media Award. Dikembe Mutombo was the first recipient of the Mannie Jackson-- Basketball's Human Spirit Award, named for the Harlem Globetrotters chairman and given for using basketball to help the community.

Texas Western was the first team in NCAA history to win a title with five black players, beating an all-white Kentucky team in the 1966 final. The achievement is considered a turning point in the integration of college athletics, and it was the subject of the movie "Glory Road."

"Our only purpose was to be the best team in the country," said captain Harry Flournoy, who spoke on behalf of the team. "We didn't have a social agenda. But God had an agenda, and he chose us to open doors -- not only for black people, but for all people who had doors shut in their face."

Phil Jackson credited Holzman for teaching him to coach, and called his time with Johnny Bach and Tex Winter as assistants under Doug Collins in Chicago, "graduate school in basketball." But asked if Jordan was the reason he was in Springfield on Friday, Jackson said, "Yes, it is."

"It was the result, of course, of the magnificent play of Michael Jordan, who had the insight to incorporate his teammates, those lesser angels, into his realm," Jackson said in his speech.

Williams didn't have a single to player to thank as much as a whole team. The longtime Kansas coach took the Jayhawks to the Final Four times but didn't win it all until he went to his alma mater and won the NCAA championship in 2005.

"I've heard folks say that seals the deal," Williams said. "Coach (Dean) Smith said, 'You're going to make it (into the Hall of Fame) as soon as you're eligible.' I said, 'Coach, that national championship is pretty big."'

Williams has a 530-131 record and six coach of the year awards to his credit, with 15 straight 20-win seasons and 18 consecutive NCAA tournament berths. He's the third coach in NCAA history to take two schools to the championship game.

In an emotional speech, Williams thanked, "my family at home, and my family on the court."

"More than anybody who has ever stood before you, I am the luckiest man alive," Williams said. "Lou Gehrig said it and made it famous, but I feel it."

Mentioning former Kansas players Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz and Jacque Vaughn, Williams said, his voice cracking, "I failed you, because I didn't get you to the Final Four."

Novosel led Yugoslavia to three Olympic medals. "Don Pedro" Ferrandiz is credited with bringing the fast break to Europe while leading Real Madrid to a record 12 Spanish League titles and four European Cup championships.

Rudolph, who died in 1979, was the first referee to officiate more 2,000 NBA games, including eight All-Star Games and at least one game of the NBA Finals for 22 consecutive years. He also wrote the league's officiating manual and had a cameo in a Miller Lite commercial in which he ejected Celtics star Tommy Heinsohn from a bar.

"He was a referee, and we've got to love those guys, too," Williams said, "because somebody's got to do that job."

Auerbach was honored with a video tribute that featured Hall of Famer Bill Russell. Although the Celtics patriarch died on the eve of last season, Jackson jokingly said that Auerbach has been up to his old tricks this summer.

Noting that Kevin Garnett was traded from Minnesota to Boston by ex-Celtics star Kevin McHale, now the basketball boss of the Timberwolves, Jackson lamented that the old Celtics network was kept the Lakers from improving their team this summer.

"We lost out on the Kevin Garnett sweepstakes," Jackson joked. "Red Auerbach came out of the grave and told Kevin to give him to the Celtics so the Celtics can get back in the running. That was a blessing, that connection. We just didn't have the connection to make that happen for us."

Monday, September 03, 2007

Police: Body is Jameer Nelson's father

September 2, 2007

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- The body pulled from the Delaware River was positively identified as the missing father of Orlando Magic star Jameer Nelson.

Floyd "Pete" Nelson, a 57-year-old welder for a tugboat company, was last seen Thursday working in a dry dock area in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester, Pa. Divers and trained dogs searched the river Friday until about 4 p.m.

The Delaware Medical Examiners office will provide the cause of death and how the body was identified once they finish their investigation, police said Sunday.

Police in Delaware said a boater called 911 on Saturday after spotting the body of a black male floating in the river near Fox Point Park in Wilmington.

Floyd Nelson's lunch and car keys were found in the tug's kitchen area, and his car was nearby, Chester police said. Nelson has worked for the tugboat company for about a decade.

Jameer Nelson starred at Chester High School and Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. He was a first-round pick in the 2004 NBA draft and starts at point guard for the Magic.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Butch van Breda Kolff, 84, Fiery Coach, Dies

Published: August 24, 2007

Butch van Breda Kolff, a happy-go-lucky nonconformist who from 1951 through 1994 coached more than 1,300 college, professional and high school basketball games, died Wednesday in Spokane, Wash. He was 84 and had lived in Spokane for the last year.

He died of multiple illnesses, including Parkinson’s disease and pneumonia, his son, Jan, said.

Van Breda Kolff used to say that except for a chosen few, coaching basketball was a vagabond profession, and he was a prime example. He held 13 head-coaching jobs and for one season, when he was 61, he coached a high school team.

“I’ve had some good jobs that I’ve left, or they fired me,” he once said. “At the time, I thought it was the right thing for me to do. Whether it turned out right later, who cares?”

He coached Bill Bradley as a collegian and Wilt Chamberlain as a professional and never seemed fully satisfied with either player. When Bradley played for him at Princeton, he said, “Bill is not hungry.” He felt the same way about Chamberlain, who played for him with the Los Angeles Lakers.

In the final minutes of the seventh and deciding game of the National Basketball Association’s 1969 championship playoffs, Chamberlain benched himself during the fourth quarter with what van Breda Kolff considered a minor knee injury. When Chamberlain asked to return to the game, van Breda Kolff refused, and the Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics by 2 points.

We played better when he was out,” van Breda Kolff said. “I have no regrets because in my mind at the time I thought it was the right thing to do. The only regret I’ll have would be if I don’t have a team.”

Shortly after, van Breda Kolff resigned, but as usual he soon had another team.

His coaching style never changed. When he was 71 and coaching his final season, The New York Times described him as the “animated, nonstop-gesticulating, chair-kicking, sideline-pacing, expletive-spewing Butch of days gone by.” But his teams were well-schooled, emphasizing teamwork, a patient offense and a tough defense.

Willem Hendrik van Breda Kolff was born Oct. 28, 1922, in Montclair, N.J., and grew into a 6-foot-3, 185-pound playmaking guard. After World War II service in the Marines, he returned to Princeton and became the basketball and soccer captain.

His coaching career (always as a head coach) began in 1951 at Lafayette (1951-55). He left after four years because, he said, “They wouldn’t give me a $200-a-year raise.” Then came seven years (1955-62) at Hofstra and five (1962-67) at Princeton. Next were 10 seasons with the pros: the Lakers (1967-69), the Detroit Pistons (1969-72), the Phoenix Suns (1972-73), the Memphis Tams of the American Basketball Association (1973-74) and the N.B.A.’s expansion New Orleans Jazz (1974-77).

He then coached the University of New Orleans men (1977-79) and the New Orleans Pride of the Women’s Professional Basketball League (1979-81). When the women’s league collapsed, he became a door-to-door salesman, but as he recalled: “Guys wanted to talk basketball. I don’t think I ever sold anything.”

Next came four seasons of pro basketball, all with the Knicks. He averaged 4.7 points a game.

After spending two years away from the sport and being desperate to coach again, he accepted a job coaching basketball and teaching world history to 10th-graders at Picayune (Miss.) Memorial High School. He said it was “sometimes very humbling, but I’m glad I did it.”

When Lafayette asked for recommendations for its coaching vacancy, he nominated himself. He returned there for four seasons (1984-88) and then returned to Hofstra, his final coaching stop, for six more seasons (1988-94).

When his last team started its season with a 1-14 record, he said, “I was embarrassed to have my friends see them play.” The team then won 8 of its last 14 games and the East Coast Conference tournament title in double overtime. He retired with a 483-272 record for 28 college seasons and 287-316 for 10 pro seasons.

“People are always asking me if you had the chance to do it all over again, would you do anything different?” he said. “I say, not a bit. I wouldn’t change one thing. You do what you’re going to do and make the best of it.”

He was legally separated from his wife, the former Florence Smith. In addition to his son, Jan, a former head coach at Cornell, Vanderbilt, Pepperdine and St. Bonaventure, he is survived by three daughters: Karen Young of Columbus, Ohio; Kristina, of Spokane; and Kaatje, of Cleveland; and seven grandchildren.

“All my grandchildren call me Uncle Butch,” he said years ago, “because I don’t want nobody calling me grandpa. I’m too old.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy surrenders in NYC

By PAT MILTON, Associated Press Writer
August 15, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -- Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy surrendered Wednesday for his anticipated plea to gambling-related offenses, a person familiar with the probe told The Associated Press.

Donaghy surrendered early Wednesday for an appearance Brooklyn federal court, the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case, told the AP on condition of anonymity.

The charge to which Donaghy would plead was not immediately known.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank told the AP on Tuesday that the league was informed Donaghy would take a plea on Wednesday, but was given no further information

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Is Tim Donaghy The Only Corupt NBA Refree?

From the NY Times:

N.B.A. Referee Is the Focus of a Federal Inquiry

Published: July 21, 2007

Law enforcement officials are investigating allegations that the veteran N.B.A. referee Tim Donaghy influenced the outcome of professional basketball games on which he or associates of his had wagered, several people familiar with the inquiry said yesterday.

Investigators were looking into allegations that N.B.A. referee Tim Donaghy had been in contact with people connected with organized crime.

According to a person with direct knowledge of the matter, federal officials are investigating whether Donaghy bet on N.B.A. games during the past two seasons, and whether since December 2006 he made calls that affected any game’s margin of victory while being coerced by members of organized crime.

A federal grand jury in Brooklyn is reviewing the case, which has been going on for several months and is expected to be concluded within a few weeks.

Donaghy, 40, who completed his 13th season in the N.B.A., could not be reached for comment. People involved with the situation said he was aware of the investigation, had resigned from his N.B.A. position about 10 days ago, and would surrender to law enforcement officials if charges were brought against him.

An F.B.I. spokesman, Neil Donovan, and Donaghy’s attorney, John Lauro, declined to comment. Lauro was an assistant United States attorney from 1986 to 1988 in the same Eastern District of New York office that is investigating Donaghy.

N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern issued a statement that said, “We would like to assure our fans that no amount of effort, time or personnel is being spared to assist in this investigation, to bring to justice an individual who has betrayed the most sacred trust in professional sports, and to take the necessary steps to protect against this ever happening again.” Stern added that the league would hold a news conference next week.

By agreement with the league, referees are forbidden to speak with the news media. But one veteran official said yesterday in a telephone interview: “You never think one of your own, your colleagues, would do something so stupid as to bet on games and manipulate the score.”

The official added that a group of referees may hold a news conference in the near future.

Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers star who was in Las Vegas for workouts with the national team, was more matter of fact.

“It’s a hard pill to swallow,” Bryant said. “But it’s just the reality of the matter. As basketball players, all we can do is go out and play hard and leave it all on the floor.

“And it’s a great association. And the commissioner, I’m sure he’s going to take care of it.”

The New York Post first reported the investigation yesterday morning but did not identify the referee.

According to a person directly involved with the case, it involves no other N.B.A. official and it is focusing on whether Donaghy affected the margin of victory in about 10 or 15 games of the 60 he officiated since December 2006.

The person said that Donaghy had been betting on games before that, fell into debt, and ultimately fell under the influence of a person representing himself as a member of organized crime, who threatened to report Donaghy to the N.B.A. or harm his family if he did not cooperate.

An estimated $250 million is wagered on N.B.A. games annually, with most bettors predicting not which team will win, but whether the winner’s margin of victory will be above or below a specific number.

Improperly influencing the outcome of games typically runs afoul of either the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or other federal and state statutes regarding mail and wire fraud.

Donaghy’s time in the N.B.A. has been dotted with controversy. After officiating a game against the Portland Trail Blazers in January 2003, he was physically threatened by the temperamental Portland star Rasheed Wallace as they encountered each other in the arena’s loading dock. Wallace, whom Donaghy had called for a technical foul during the game, was suspended by the league for seven games; Donaghy was not reprimanded.

In April 2005, Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers, after Donaghy ejected him from a game, accused Donaghy of being biased against him. The Boston Globe reported that Rivers lodged a complaint with the league, but it appears the matter did not go much further.

Donaghy has faced controversy away from the basketball court as well. He was sued by a neighbor in a Pennsylvania civil court in January 2005 for yelling obscenities and setting fire to a tractor. The plaintiffs in that case, Peter and Lisa Mansueto of West Chester, Pa., declined to discuss how that case was resolved in a telephone interview last night.

According to STATS LLC, Donaghy officiated 131 regular-season and 8 postseason games the last two seasons. Donaghy called games involving every N.B.A. team during that period. He saw some teams a handful of times, like the Chicago Bulls (five games), and others a lot more, like the Miami Heat (15).

This is the third time in recent months that N.B.A. officials have come under scrutiny for their behavior.

In April, the longtime official Joey Crawford was suspended for the rest of the season for improper conduct toward Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs. Duncan, who had been whistled earlier for a technical foul, was ejected by Crawford late in the third quarter for laughing from the bench after a teammate was called for a foul.

Two weeks later, two Ivy League academics completed a study that said white and black officials called fouls at different rates against white and black players — though the variance was not considered different from other interactions.

The N.B.A. has repeatedly said its system of monitoring and statistically analyzing referee calls ensures the highest level of fairness, with Stern often saying, “They are the most ranked, rated, reviewed, statistically analyzed and mentored group of employees of any company in any place in the world.”

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Godzilla v. Charles Barkley - Classic Nike Commercial - Video

Sacramento Kings Sign Center Miki Moore

By David

Nine-year veteran Miki Moore is leaving the New Jersey Nets to sign with the Sacramento Kings. According to Kings' President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie, both parties agreed in principal to a contract on Friday.

Moore, 31, filled in for injured center Nenad Kristic last season and averaged 9.8 and 5.1 rebounds in 79 games played. He lead the NBA in field goal percentage last season with a .609 mark.

Moore became a dependable source down in the paint for Jason Kidd and played a major part in the Nets advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

In the six game series with the Cavaliers, he averaged 14.8 points and 4.7 rebounds. Moore's breakout play during the regular season and postseason parlayed into a handsome contract offering by Sacramento. Usually, he'd have to wait until just before training camp or when a play got injured for a team to start calling.

The Orangeburg, South Carolina native has also played for Detroit, Boston, Atlanta, Utah, Seattle and the Clippers.

He will bring toughness, energy, strength and a passion for the game to the Sacramento Kings.

Foyle undergoes emergency appendectomy

July 14, 2007

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Golden State reserve center Adonal Foyle underwent an emergency laparoscopy appendectomy on Friday at nearby Saint Louise Regional Hospital.

Foyle was in the area taking part in one of five basketball camps he is hosting in the Bay Area this summer.

The 6-foot-10 Foyle is expected to remain in the hospital overnight and should be ready for the beginning of training camp in early October.

Foyle averaged 2.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in limited play last season. He appeared briefly in two playoff games.

Updated on Saturday, Jul 14, 2007 1:02 am EDT

Memphis Grizzlies Sign Darko Milicic

By David

A draft bust in 2003 with the Detroit Pistons, Darko Milicic was traded to the Orlando Magic in February of 2006 to revitalize his career.

Although he averaged 7.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.84 blocks in 23.1 minutes per game in 110 games, his agent Marc Cornstein labeled general manager Otis Smith a ''liar and said he had been ''deceitful, disrespectful and a disgrace'' in the way he handled Darko's contract situation.

I have a serious problem with any person openly blasting another individual in public, let alone stating his feelings in a major newspaper where the entire world can hear his thoughts. New Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace must have been feeling a sense of uncertainty when he signed the 22-year old native of Serbia-Montenegro. Wallace could be the next victim of Cornstein's aggression if his client does not get what he desires.

It's unfortunate because Milicic has the potential to blossom into an all-star center if he can improve his skills, athletisim and attitude. At 7-0, 250-pounds he can transform his career from being a life long benchwarmer where he averaged 5 points and 3.3 rebounds, to 20 points and 9 rebounds.

Luckily in Detroit, Darko was exposed to a winning environment and was a member of the Pistons 2003-04 Championship team. In Orlando, he had the opportunity to play along side a rising phenom in Dwight Howard and receive minumul playoff experience. He has played in 21 career playoff games and he can now help out the majority of his teammates who have never come close to reaching the playoffs.

Friday, July 13, 2007

New Jersey Nets Re-Sign Superstar Vince Carter

By David

Vinsanity will continue to reek havoc on opposing teams as a member of the New Jersey Nets throughout at least the 2010-11 season.

On Friday, Vince Carter agreed to a four-year, $66 million contract with a partial guarantee for a fifth year. When all is set and done the eight time All-Star could make as much as $80 million.

There was speculation during the course of the season that Carter would opt out of the final year of his contract and on July 1st he did just that. Fortunately, he could not imagine himself dawning the uniform of another team and therefore agreed to a multi-year contract with the team he has played for the last three seasons.

''I knew it could happen'' said Carter. ''It's about patience and waiting for the right time.'' General manager Rod Thorn added ''we certainly would have been remiss if we'd Vince get away.''

If the Nets, who finished the season 41-41 and were defeated in the second round of the playoffs by the eventual Eastern Conference champions Cleveland Cavaliers, let Carter sign with another team, they would have missed a player who played in all 82 games and averaged 25.2 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game and 4.8 assists per game.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Salary cap set at $55.63 million, moratorium period ends Wednesday

July 10, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -- The NBA set next season's salary cap at $55.63 million Tuesday, paving the way for teams to begin signing free agents.

The new cap goes into effect Wednesday, when the league's moratorium period ends and trades can be made. Teams have been allowed to negotiate with free agents since July 1, but the deals couldn't be completed until the new cap was determined.

The salary cap will rise about $2.5 million from last season's $53.135 million figure.

Also, the mid-level exception is rising from $5.2 million to $5.36 million, and the tax level is $67.87 million, up from $65.42 million. Teams will have to pay a $1 tax for every $1 they exceed that figure by.

The minimum team salary is $41.72 million, 75 percent of the salary cap.

Chauncey Billups Signs 5-year, $60 million With Pistons

By David

''Mr. Big Shot'' is staying with the team he helped win 5 straight Eastern Conference finals and one NBA championship after signing a 5-year contract worth up to $60 million.

Billups is guaranteed $46 million over four-years and there is a team option for the fifth. The two time all-star and 2004 Finals MVP opted out of his contract at the end of the season and became an unrestricted free agent.

Keeping their team captain was Joe Dumars's ''top priority'' during the off season and there was little doubt that Billups would stay in the Motor City. Detroit was the only team willing to pay Chauncey what he was asking for and as a result it was a win-win situation for both parties.

When discussing who the best point guards in the league are Phoenix's Steve Nash, New Jersey's Jason Kidd and San Antonio's Tony Parker come to mind. It's time to delegate Billups into the mix.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Milicic agent blasts Magic GM Smith

After praising GM Otis Smith for his diligence and the great job he's doing in shaping the Magic into a solid team, I run across this story.

July 4, 2007

ORLANDO, FLORIDA (TICKER) -- Darko Milicic's career with the Orlando Magic appears to be over.

The Magic have withdrawn their qualifying offer to Milicic, making the Serbian center an unrestricted free agent.

The agent for the 7-footer went on to blast Orlando general manager Otis Smith saying his client never will play for the team again.

Agent Marc Cornstein reacted to the Magic's decision by branding Smith a "liar" in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. He said Smith had been "deceitful, disrespectful and a disgrace" in handling Milicic.

Smith had said re-signing Milicic was a "priority" but on Tuesday notified Cornstein the team was withdrawing its offer.

Milicic averaged 8.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in 23.9 minutes per game last season for the Magic, but that was not enough to convince Smith that he is worth the $10 million per season he reportedly is seeking.

The Magic retain the qualifying veteran exception, or Bird Rights, to Milicic, allowing them to exceed the salary cap to re-sign him.

Smith has claimed the team still wants to bring Milicic back. Cornstein insisted it would not happen.

"There's no chance. Put it in big capital letters," Cornstein said. "You can say that as long as Otis Smith is the general manager of the Orlando Magic, there's no chance."

Milicic, 22, was selected second overall by Detroit in the 2003 draft, putting him ahead of the likes of Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh in a loaded class.

After struggling to command playing time in 2 1/2 seasons with the Pistons, Milicic was eventually traded to Orlando along with Carlos Arroyo in February 2006, with Detroit receiving Kelvin Cato and a first-round pick.

The Magic's decision not to withdraw their offer to Milicic comes after they reportedly on Tuesday agreed to a "maximum contract" with free agent forward Rashard Lewis, who was with Seattle last season.

"If Otis Smith had been a decent human and told us that Rashard Lewis was the player they wanted and would have to sacrifice Darko to get him, my reaction wouldn't have been happiness," Cornstein added. "But I would have said, 'I appreciate you telling me.'

"Instead, the guy told us Darko was a priority, and he lied."

Updated on Wednesday

Charlotte BobCats Trade Eigth Overall Pick Brandon Wrigh To Golden State For Jason Richardson

By David

Golden St.Warriors General Manager Chris Mullin decided on draft night that youth superseded veteran leadership as he traded 6-year veteran Jason Richardson to Charlotte for Brandon Wright.

Richardson, 26, had been a staple in the Warriors lineup and a major presence in the community. On the court, he played in 438 career games and averaged 18.3 ppg, 5.4 rpb, 3.2 asp, shot 43.3% from the field, 35% from behind the line and 69.2% from the charity stripe.

J-Rich was the winner during the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 season of the Warriors community service award which represent the Warriors player ''who has best exemplified the spirit of community service through outstanding commitment of time, service and financial support to children and their families in the Bay Area community.''

Why Michael Jordon and the Charlotte Bobcats would make this deal I don't know. Richardson is owed $48 million over the next four years and he does not adjust well to the Bobcats style of play or the players on their roster. Emeka Okafor, Raymond Felton, Sean May and Adam Morrison are the corner stones of a franchise that could have used the services of Brandon Wright and his 7'2 wingspan.

Wright was a standout at the University of North Carolina where he averaged 14.7 ppg, 6.2 rpb, 1.8 bpg,one assist per game and one steal per game for coach Roy Williams. Additionally, the 20-year old Wright was ACC Rookie of the Year, ALL-ACC Second Team selection, won Tournament MVP honors, broke the ACC single-season freshman record with a ridiculous .646 shooting percentage and earned ACC Freshman of the Week honors six times.

There is nothing that this kid can't do and because he attended UNC he'd be an instant hit with the fans. Bobcat fans would be bleeding Tar Heel blue every night they entered the arena. Ticket sales would be through the roof and it would be a win-win scenario for everybody. This was not the Wright trade for MJ and the Bobcats.

In my opinion, this trade was a steal for Chris Mullin and the Golden State Warriors from a talent and financial stand point.

Zack Randolph Traded To The Knicks

By David

Welcome to NYC Zack Randolph. Be prepared for your off the court incidents to be scrutinized and revealed in detail by the New York media.

Even though Randolph is an excellent presence up front who averaged over twenty and ten with the Trail Blazers last season, he will have to adjust to the constant attention he'll receive from fans and reporters. It will be nothing like the six seasons he spent in Portland.

Speaking of Randolph, he was acquired along with Dan Dickau and Fred Jones on draft night in exchange for Steve Francis and Channing Frye. If Eddy Curry and Randolph are able to coexist down in the paint they could form one of the premier duos in the NBA.

Last season, Curry averaged 19.5 ppg, 7.0 rpb and shot 57.6% from the field in all 81 games. As the leader of an inexperienced Blazers last season Randolph averaged 23.6 ppg, 10.1 ppg and shot 46.7% from the field in 68 games.

Maybe the addition of a dominant big man will be able to propel one of the league's laughing stocks over the past several years into a bonified contender in the Eastern Conference?

Rashard Lewis Signs Max Contract With Orlando Magic

By David

According to WKMG radio in Orlando, Rashard Lewis and the Magic have agreed on a five-year contract worth at least $75 million.

During nine seasons in Seattle, Lewis averaged 16.6 ppg, 5.8 rpb, shot 46.1% from the field and 80.1% from the free throw line. After scoring over 22 points a night and grabbing 6.6 rebounds, Lewis became the most sought-after free agent of this year's class.

Although he is unable to sign his name on the dotted line until July 11th, Lewis will make a major splash very quickly. The instant buzz he will provide a city that has not seen a true winner since the early 1990's will be extraordinary because he'll be that glimmer of hope that can elevate the Magic past the first-round and deep into the playoffs.

General manager Otis Smith has been extremely busy this summer having to deal with the botched coaching attempt of Billy Donovan, then having to search for a new head coach, preparing for the NBA draft and signing players in the off season.

Lewis, who came out of Alief Elsik High School in 1998, was the longest-tenured player on the Sonics roster until he decided to chase the money being offered to him by Orlando's management. I believe that with the uncertainty as to if the Sonics would stay in Seattle and with the recent youth movement they were exhibiting, it was time for him to leave. Ray Allen, who was his right hand man on the team was dealt to Boston and there was no coach in place when the free agency period began.

Look for Lewis and 6'11 all-star Dwight Howard to form a dynamic duo in the Magic city that will reek havoc on opposing defenses for many years to come. The one added addition that Lewis brings to the table is his ability to knock down three-point shots. He leaves Seattle as their all-time leader in three-point field goals made with 973. That is better than Gary Payton, Ray Allen, Dale Ellis, Brent Barry and Sam Perkins.

Also, he is fourth all-time on the points list with 10,251, fifth on the games played list with 617, fourth with 20,921 minutes played and fifth with 3,595 rebounds.

Back in March he said ''I've been here eight, nine years, and hopefully I can continue my legacy and not stop it after this year.'' He'll embark on a new legacy beginning this fall with the Orlando Magic.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sacramento Kings Name Reggie Theus Head Coach

By David

Former New Mexico State head coach Reggie Theus will be announced as the new Sacramento Kings head coach at an afternoon press conference today.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Third Overall Pick In The NBA Draft Is...

By David

Once Greg Oden and Kevin Durant are selected one and two in next weeks draft the Atlanta Hawks will have the biggest decision of the draft to make. Do they select the ''total package man'' in Florida's Al Horford, Yi Jianlian of China, Ohio State point guard Mike Conley Jr. or UNC's Brandon Wright?

During the past three drafts Atlanta has not made the wisest decisions when it came to improving their ball club. Josh Smith, Josh Childress, Marvin Williams and Sheldon Williams have all endured disappointing starts to their basketball careers as members of one of the worst teams in the league.

Instead of adding another tall and talented power forward like Florida's Al Horford, General Manager Billy Knight woulld be smartest to pick point guard Mike Conley Jr. Even though Conley Jr. could be available when the Hawks select at number eleven, he is the best guard in the draft and is most ready to make an impact right away.

So, with the third pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, Mike Conley Jr. should hear his name called by Commissioner David Stern.

L.A. Lakers Superstar Kobe Bryant Demands Trade, Again

By David

For the second time in the past several weeks disgruntled shooting guard Kobe Bryant has asked for a trade from Lakers management.

Last month in an interview with 1050 ESPN Radio Kobe said that there was no conceivable way that the Lakers could keep him. Not a chance at all for L.A. to keep their superstar who has been an integral part of the team and community for over a decade.

In a twisted turn of events the two-time scoring champion stated that he had reconciled with coach Phil Jackson and that he and the team now saw eye to eye. All along Bryant's number one complaint or as I see it his number one excuse for wanting to leave the only team he has ever played for is their lack of winning and a viable direction for the future.

Wait, wasn't it Kobe himself who wanted complete control over the Lakers so that he can prove he could win without another prominent superstar by his side. Since Shaq departed for South beach L.A. has not made it out of the first-round of the playoffs.

With 4-years and $88.6 million left on his contract Bryant will look to add his name to the record books in another NBA city. Although he's the only player in the league to have a no trade clause, it appears that he'd be willing to waive it to play for the Chicago Bulls.

Unfortunately, Lakers' General Manager Mitch Kupchak will have a steep asking price when he sits down to discuss the parameters of the deal with Bulls' General Manager John Paxson. Reportedly L.A. would be seeking center Ben Wallace, guard Ben Gordon, forward Luol Deng and the ninth pick in June 28th's draft.

In my opinion that deal would be too sweet for the Lakers who are currently in the rebuilding mode, and it would serve no purpose for Chicago. Despite the major impact he'd make in the Windy city, it would be foolish for the Bulls to take on nearly $90 million and lose three of their best players.

Bryant,28, said on his website today that ''Now there is a new road ahead. I am gonna keep grindin and keep working to get back to competing for Championships. Sometimes the trek up the mountain is tough. But, I know we'll get there.

Luckily for Kobe he will be winning no more championships in the Staples Center. The Lakers will look to trade their superstar before next weeks draft and if they are unable to it might be a long Summer ahead for both parties.

Two Major Trades Around The NBA

By David

While the San Antonio Spurs were celebrating their fourth title in the last nine years, the Toronto Raptors, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves were all completing trades.

On Thursday, Minnesota dealt point guard Mike James and forward Justin Reed to Houston for veteran Juwan Howard. When I initially read the headline about this trade I was surprised because all three players are not household names and I didn't expect any team to exchange players before the NBA finals were over.

Vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale who was been lambasted for poor decisions he has made in the past said ''Juwan is a veteran low-post player who is a proven scorer and rebounder.'' Howard, a twelve-year veteran was a member of the fab five at the University of Michigan and will provide great leadership to the Twolves locker room.

In 25.1 mpg last season in Minnesota's back court James averaged 10.1 ppg and 3.6 apg. The Amityville, New York native will have the opportunity to do well playing along side Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming.

On Friday, the Toronto Raptors added some more international spice to their roster as they acquired Carlos Delfino from the Detroit Pistons. Delfino, a native of Argentina, was traded for a second-round draft pick in 2009 and 2011. At 6-foot-6, 230 pounds Delfino will be a positive addition to an already potent Toronto lineup.

Reigning Executive of the Year and General Manager and President of the Raptors Bryan Colangelo said ''Carlos is a talented basketball player that should thrive in our system.''