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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Report: D’Antoni takes Knicks’ job

Bringing in a coach for six million per season will not solve the extensive problems facing the Knicks. Unfortunately, D'Antoni's high octane coaching style does not fit in well with the current Knicks roster or their long standing philosophy of how to play.

NEW YORK (TICKER) —Mike D’Antoni will become the next head coach of the New York Knicks, Sports Illustrated reported on its web site Saturday.

According to SI, the former Phoenix Suns coach accepted New York’s offer of a four-year contract worth $24 million. The Knicks have yet to comment on the report.

D’Antoni, who had two years remaining on his contract with the Suns that would have paid him nearly $9 million, reportedly also was mulling an offer from the Chicago Bulls.

D’Antoni appeared to have no future with the Suns when the team granted him permission earlier in the week to speak with other clubs about their head-coaching vacancies.

The Arizona Republic reported that the relationship between D’Antoni and Suns general manager Steve Kerr has been strained since the two had an argument in November.

D’Antoni, who turned 57 on Thursday, interviewed with the Knicks and Bulls. His personality alone would seem to be a breath of fresh air in New York after the disastrous reign of Isiah Thomas.

D’Antoni is known for his laid-back approach and stresses up-tempo basketball. Under his watch, the Suns were one of the NBA’s highest-scoring and most entertaining teams, although they were unable to advance beyond the Western Conference finals.

This year, the Suns were eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs in five games, their first opening-round exit from the playoffs since 2003.

D’Antoni posted a 253-136 record in his four-plus seasons as coach of the Suns.

In New York, he would have the tall task of trying to rebuild the league’s most dysfunctional franchise while changing its culture of losing.

One of the first moves made by new Knicks president Donnie Walsh was to fire Thomas, who posted a 56-108 record in his two seasons as coach.

New York has endured seven straight losing seasons, including a 23-59 mark this year that matched the worst record in the franchise’s history.

Thomas also alienated the team’s fan base for his decisions as general manager. He loaded up on expensive contracts - creating major salary cap problems - while failing to build a competitive team.

Thomas also found controversy off the court, causing further embarrassment for the franchise.
In November, Madison Square Garden reached an out-of-court settlement for $11.5 million with former executive Anucha Browne Sanders, who had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Thomas, Knicks owner James Dolan and the Garden.

In addition, Thomas spent most of the season feuding with guard Stephon Marbury and benched center Eddie Curry.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Thomas says he’s not talking with Indiana about coaching Hoosiers

It's time to permanently leave Isiah. All of New York will be elated that you did.

By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA (AP)—Embattled New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said he is not a candidate for the Indiana University job.

Thomas, whose Knicks have lost seven of eight and 14 of 16, has a 53-102 record in two seasons with the team. Though he helped Indiana win the 1981 NCAA championship, Thomas has never coached in college.

He indicated the Hoosiers haven’t consulted him about becoming their head coach.

“No, I have a job,” Thomas said before the Knicks played the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

Thomas, also the Knicks’ team president, said he hopes interim coach Dan Dakich is named full-time at Indiana.

In February, Dakich replaced Kelvin Sampson, who resigned following the release of an NCAA report that said he committed five “major” violations involving recruiting. Prior to the start of the NCAA tournament, the school appointed a 10-member committee to search for a replacement for Sampson.

After Dakich—an assistant under Sampson and a former Indiana player and assistant under Bob Knight—took over, the Hoosiers (25-8) lost four of their final seven games, including a shocking last-second defeat against Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals and an 86-72 loss to Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

“He’s done an excellent job,” Thomas said. “He understands the program. He’s been intimately involved on the coaching side and also on the playing side.”

“Of all the former players, he’d definitely have the support of mine and others. I hope he’s someone they do name as the coach of Indiana.”

Thomas acknowledged that he might have interest in coaching one day in college.

“You never say never in terms of where you’ll end up and who you’ll be with,” he said. “So you just try to take the day as it comes.”

Right now, Thomas is trying to save his position with New York, which has reportedly talked with former Indiana Pacers president Donnie Walsh about taking charge of the organization.

Walsh hired Thomas as coach of the Pacers in 2000. In three years with Indiana, Thomas led the Pacers to a 131-115 record and three playoff appearances.

When Walsh brought in Larry Bird to run the Pacers in 2003, Thomas was fired.

With the NBA’s fifth-worst record at 20-53, Thomas seemed to dislike a question about some of his players calling for a new coaching change.

“That player should put his name on it, if there is such a player,” Thomas said. “But I think you have the opportunity and the access to all our players and you can ask them. I think it’s safe to say that in any locker room, football, basketball or hockey, I don’t think there’s a coach coaching today that has 15 happy players. You have some that’s unhappy and you have some that’s happy. That’s coaching.”

Monday, March 03, 2008

Voters to decide on $121 million proposal aimed at luring NBA to Oklahoma City

It'll be intriguing tomorrow to witness if Oklahoma City receives the go ahead vote to entice a prospective team to their budding city. Currently, Seattle seems like the ideal team to land in the OKC.

By JEFF LATZKE, AP Sports Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)— Oklahoma City voters will decide Tuesday on a $121 million plan aimed at luring an NBA team.

Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett’s proposal would spend $97 million to upgrade the Ford Center and another $24.6 million to build an NBA practice facility in hopes of completing the city’s courtship of the Seattle SuperSonics.

While Cornett has been promoting the improvements to the Ford Center as mandatory to show Oklahoma City’s long-term commitment to the NBA, David Glover has been spearheading opposition to the plan that would extend a one-cent sales tax increase for another 15 months.

Cornett considers the improvements to the Ford Center necessary even if the SuperSonics, owned by Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett, don’t end up relocating. Without them, Cornett says Oklahoma City will fall behind competitors for concerts, the Big 12 tournament and other events.

Bennett declined interview requests from The Associated Press and through a spokesman refused to say what would happen if the vote fails. The SuperSonics are in the middle of a court battle to break their lease in Seattle, and the NBA Board of Governors will vote in April on Bennett’s request to relocate to Oklahoma City.

While reserving comment on the specific proposal in Oklahoma City, NBA spokesman Tim Frank said “the NBA will always support teams’ and cities’ efforts to enhance the experience for our fans.”

The cost of adding restaurants, clubs, suites and other amenities to the Ford Center—which hosted the New Orleans Hornets for two years following Hurricane Katrina—falls about in the middle of the cost fronted by new NBA cities when the past two franchises relocated.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Two men plead not guilty in NBA betting scandal

NEW YORK (AP)—Two men charged in a betting scandal involving disgraced basketball referee Tim Donaghy have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to defraud the NBA.

Prosecutors said James Battista, a professional gambler with nicknames “Baba” and “Sheep,” and Thomas Martino entered the pleas during a brief appearance Friday in Brooklyn.

A trial date was set for April 28. Each man remains free on $250,000 bond.

In a guilty plea in August, Donaghy said he started making NBA bets four years ago, even wagering on games he worked. He admitted recommending bets to high-stakes gamblers and collecting $5,000 if his picks hit.

The former referee faces a maximum of 25 years in prison when he is sentenced April 18 for conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and transmitting betting information through interstate commerce.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ben Wallace to Cavs in 11-player deal

The acquisition of four-time defensive player of the year Ben Wallace completely transforms the trajectory of the Eastern Conference. It's very realistic to expect the Cavaliers to catapult to one of the the top two teams in the conference if James and Wallace are able to mesh together.

CLEVELAND (TICKER) —LeBron James wanted the Cleveland Cavaliers to improve their roster. The Cavaliers shook it up Thursday, acquiring Ben Wallace in an 11-player, three-team megadeal.

The Cavaliers also received guard Wally Szczerbiak, forward Joe Smith and guard Delonte West in a deal involving the Chicago Bulls and Seattle SuperSonics. The Bulls also sent the Cavaliers their second-round pick in 2009.

The deal was completed right before the league’s 3 p.m. EST trade deadline and, according to Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry, sets up a bright future for his club.

“We’re very excited about what these players bring to us by adding a new dimension, and that we were able to impact this team without compromising future draft picks,” he said. “This again demonstrates (owner) Dan Gilbert’s dedication to this organization and city.

“At the same time, we have great respect for the guys that are leaving us and feel like they all contributed to our success.”

The Bulls received guard Larry Hughes, forward Drew Gooden, forward Cedric Simmons and guard Shannon Brown while the SuperSonics got swingman Adrian Griffin and forwards Ira Newble and Donyell Marshall.

Chicago executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson admitted that Thursday’s deal was made with the development of his team’s young roster in mind.

“We are all very much aware that this season has not advanced as we anticipated. With that said, we will continue to evaluate and re-shape our roster where necessary, until we can get to where we want to be as a team,” Paxson said. “This particular trade gives us the opportunity to solidify a couple of positions, as well as provide our team with some much needed scoring.

“The continued development of our young, big frontline is crucial and this move will allow them to gain valuable minutes on the court, which in turn will allow us to make the key decisions we are going to be faced with in the very near future.”

It was a long-awaited trade for Cleveland, which grew unhappy with the oft-injured Hughes and sought a revamped roster in its push for a second straight trip to the NBA Finals.

Most importantly, James said during All-Star Weekend that he thinks the Cavaliers should make a deal to keep up with other clubs in one of the most active trade seasons in recent memory.

The face of the Cavaliers - and possibly the league - James’ voice most likely carried a lot of weight in a deal which landed Cleveland Wallace, a four-time Defensive Player of the Year, and a slew of expiring contracts.

The trade came just days after the Cavs’ offer for veteran point guard Mike Bibby, who many feel is the perfect compliment to James, was reportedly rejected by the Sacramento Kings. Bibby then was traded to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

Instead, Cleveland chose to change its frontcourt with the acquisition of Wallace, who is primarily a defender and rebounder but brings the toughness needed to compete in the postseason.

However, he is just two years into a four-year, $60 million free agent deal from the Bulls, who most likely realized that the 33-year-old forward is on the downside of his career. Wallace has averaged 5.1 points and 8.8 rebounds this campaign.

While he is not Bibby, the 24-year-old West is a capable combination guard with some promise. But he has yet to blossom in his first season with the SuperSonics after three with the Boston Celtics, averaging just 6.8 points and 3.2 assists this campaign.

Szczerbiak, who has averaged 13.1 points this season, spreads the floor and gives the Cavaliers another shooter on a team which allows James to freelance and find teammates on the perimeter.

A former first overall pick, the 32-year-old Smith has averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in his first season in Chicago. But his value most likely is his contract, which expires at the end of the season.

The contracts of Szczerbiak and West expire after the next campaign - and Wallace’s deal is up after 2009-10, allowing the Cavaliers some flexibility when James can opt out of his contract and become a free agent that summer.

In the short term, the Cavaliers rid themselves of Hughes, who has been a disappointment in Cleveland, averaging just 12.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his third season with the Cavaliers.

He also grew unhappy with his role in an offense which forced him to stifle his desire to slash to the basket.

The Bulls, who have been rumored in numerous deals in recent seasons, finally acquired a back-to-the-basket scorer in Gooden, who is capable in the post and one the game’s toughest rebounders.

The fourth overall pick in the 2002 draft, the 26-year-old Gooden has averaged 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds this season.

While the 22-year-old Brown has shown some promise in 15 games this season, Simmons - who is the same age - has appeared in just seven contests and has not provided much for the Cavaliers.

The rebuilding Sonics received three expiring contracts, as Newble’s is up after this season while Marshall and Griffin come off the books after next campaign.