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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.