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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