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11-24-2003, 01:57 PM
NBA Insider Nov 24

Raptors-Bulls junk swap

How pathetic has the first three weeks of the NBA season been?

Consider this. The passion with which the media covered, debated and propped up a potential Jalen Rose-for-Antonio Davis trade this weekend has been surpassed only by the opening-night hype of LeBron James' first game.

Insider breaks down the most intriguing story lines from Week 4, including that out-of-control trade rumor and the eye-opening play of two rookies not named LeBron or 'Melo.

A Raptors blockbuster or a bunch of Bull?

Jalen Rose? Antonio Davis? Donyell Marshall? Jerome W illiams? Alvin Williams? Morris Peterson? Does everyone really care that much about any of these players? I doubt it. So does Raptors head coach Kevin O'Neill, who delivered the line of the season after the trade rumors died down on Sunday.
"You guys, as media, love trade rumors more than the game."

You can probably put the fans on that same bandwagon, Kevin. When your team is dropping pathetic 62-point performances against teams like the Bucks, people are going to begin looking elsewhere for their entertainment.

As far as trade rumors go, the whole thing was a bit of yawner. It was the NBA equivalent of a yard sale -- two GMs swapping their unwanted junk.

Jalen Rose
Chicago Bulls

14 14.1 4.0 3.8 .379 .771

The Raptors have been trying to dump Davis and the Williams brothers for years. The Bulls have been pleading with just about everyone to take Rose off their hands. The only surprise really was that these two GMs under fire didn't find each other sooner.

For those of you who had more important things to do this weekend, like say, napping, WGN Radio out of Chicago broke late Friday afternoon that the Raptors and Bulls were on the verge of a BLOCKBUSTER!

The original reports had the Bulls ready to swap Rose for Alvin Williams, Jerome Williams and Peterson. From there, chaos ensued. On the air and in the press the deal started growing and growing.

Soon Marshall, Marcus Fizer, Eddie Robinson, Lonny Baxter and even Jamal Crawford were rumored to be involved on the Bulls' end. On the Raptors' end, Davis, Michael Bradley and even Chris Bosh and Vince Carter were drug into the muck.

You knew that things had finally gotten out of control when the rumors began circulating that Mark Cuban had also entered into the trade discussions -- offering Antawn Jamison and Tony Delk for Antonio Davis.

THAT deal would have been a blockbuster, if for no other reason then it would have been the third max-salary trade the Mavs had done in just over three months. Alas, Cuban, via e-mail, denied he was part of this monstrosity.

Antonio Davis
Toronto Raptors

13 8.0 9.5 1.0 .371 .722

As you know by now, by Friday night it was pretty clear that things had gotten stretched out of proportion. Rose and Marshall played on Friday night, squashing the reports that a deal was imminent (teams almost always hold players out of the game if they are on the verge of being traded). On Saturday, all of the Raptors' principals were playing in New Jersey and the writing was on the wall.

By Sunday, Bulls GM John Paxson and Raptors GM Glen Grunwald had the unenviable task of trying to explain to a dozen guys why every media outlet in North America was reporting that they were as good as gone.

"My biggest disappointment is someone let this out, and that puts players in a horrible position. But that's my job, to smooth things over," Paxson said. "The worst part is when it becomes a distraction to the players, so I'll have to sort out the misinformation."

"It's part of the business, but it is unfortunate when (rumors) really get blown out of proportion," Grunwald told the Toronto Sun. "I look at it from the human nature of the players. These are people we're dealing with and their futures are being bandied about by people who are being a little irresponsible."

Grunwald can complain all he wants about the media, who clearly went a bit overboard on the whole deal, but at least one outlet is reporting that it was his own head coach who leaked the initial report.

The Sun Times' Jay Marrioti wrote on Saturday that O'Neill and the WGN radio station that broke the stories have ties that would explain how they got the information. O'Neill denied the charge on Sunday.

"Of course I didn't leak it to him," said O'Neill. "Why would I leak a rumor about our team? I was born at night, but not last night."

By late Sunday night, several league sources told Insider that the prognosis wasn't good on the deal surviving the night.

One rival GM, who claimed to have talked to both Paxson and Grunwald this weekend, declared the whole thing much to do about nothing.

"They talked, they had interest in each other's players, got some salaries that seemed to match up, they did a little more research and then began to back off," the GM told Insider. "I probably field four or five calls like this a week. The only difference is that they don't get leaked. Most trade talk is just that ... talk. Ninety-five percent of it falls through when push comes to shove."

Apparently, the original proposal was scuttled when Paxson learned that Alvin Williams' contract wasn't covered by insurance. With Williams' persistent knee problems, Paxson grew anxious about taking on the last five years of his deal.

Other permutations of the deal were explored over the weekend, but by most accounts, nothing ever got as close as the initial proposal.

So is the deal dead? I doubt it. Something has to be done and at some point this season Paxson and Grunwald will probably realize that there isn't a better deal on the table. Both the Bulls and the Raptors are on the verge of imploding. Although both teams may be doing little more than swapping junk, my grandma swears that one man's trash is another man's treasure.

The Bulls have tired of Rose's selfishness. They don't believe he and Crawford can coexist in the same backcourt. Despite his undeniable ability to score, his huge contract combined with a perception that he's a locker-room cancer have scared away just about everyone. While players like Davis and Jerome Williams won't turn the Bulls around overnight, they are the type of veteran, blue-collar hustle players the Bulls need around their young players. The Bulls don't lack for talent. What they lack is effort and passion. Both Davis and Williams, when healthy, can bring that to the table.

The Raptors need Rose's scoring in the worst way. Currently, the team is averaging a league-worst 76.6 ppg. The next closest team is the Nets with 85.3 ppg. Grunwald knows his job is on the line. If Carter has to keep carrying this team by himself, the Raptors won't be any good, and it will be just a matter of time before Vince breaks down again. Since Carter is the only other guy on the team who can really score, there should be enough shots for both Carter and Rose. Marshall is a guy the Raptors have coveted for a while, and he would fit in nicely at the four.

Neither team gets any real cap relief out of the deal, but the chances that a team is going to trade an expiring contract for the likes of Rose or Davis are slim to none.

A junk swap stealing headlines in week four? Compared to the mess out on the floor, the deal actually smelled pretty sweet.

Can Bosh and Wade catch Carmelo in the rookie race?

The only good news coming out of Toronto right now is the play of rookie forward Chris Bosh. While most observers felt like Bosh was the consensus No. 4 pick and had a chance to be an all-star in the league, few predicted his success would come so quickly.
Chris Bosh
Power Forward
Toronto Raptors

13 9.8 5.3 0.3 .523 .791

Bosh is averaging 14.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg and 2.8 bpg on 51 percent shooting over the last five games. Next to Vince Carter, Bosh, 19, has been the Raptors' most consistent scorer and is drawing praise from just about everyone around the league.

"I've said all along he's going to be a special player in this league at some point," Raptors head coach Kevin O'Neill told the Globe and Mail. "He's a guy that, if we don't stunt his growth, will continue to make strides on a weekly basis."

"He's smart, you don't have to tell him how to play the game, you don't have to tell him things more than once or twice," O'Neill said. "He has great instincts for the game."

Right behind him, or perhaps in front of him, is Heat guard Dwyane Wade. Since coach Stan Van Gundy decided to let Wade do what he does best -- score -- he's taken a dramatic turn for the better. In his last five games, Wade is averaging 18.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 3.2 apg on 48 percent shooting from the field.

Dwyane Wade
Point Guard
Miami Heat

12 14.2 4.3 4.1 .384 .723

Now compare the numbers those two have put up with those of Carmelo Anthony, who many felt would run away with the Rookie of the Year honors this season.

After a hot start, Anthony is averaging 15.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg and 3.2 apg on 34 percent shooting. While Anthony's rebounding numbers continue to climb, his shooting percentage has been awful.

Over the same five-game period, Bosh made 23 of the 45 shots he took from the field. Wade made 35 of th 72 shots he took. Anthony made 28 of the 82 shots he took.

While LeBron continues to be the favorite, this is the first time in recent memory where you have four top players who appear worthy of the honor this early in the season.

Chauncey and Larry getting along just fine:

Remember all of the preseason hand wringing about the relationship between Chauncey Billups and new Pistons head coach Larry Brown?

The fear was Brown would have a low tolerance for Billups, who is more of a shoot-first, ask-questions-later point guard. How would Chauncey adapt to Brown's more conservative expectations from his point guard?

He hasn't. Instead, it's been Brown who has modified his thinking about what role Billups' plays in the team's offense. Brown claims Billups is the best-shooting point guard he's had in three decades of coaching. He has no intention of cooling his team's hottest hand.

After Billups dropped 33 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and four 3-pointers on the Grizzlies last week Brown pretty much summed up Billups' season so far.

"I don't know how you can play any better than he did," Brown said.

Billups agrees.

"He knows I can make that shot, but I don't think he has ever coached a point guard that plays the way I play," said Billups, who is averaging 23.3 ppg, 7 apg, 4.4 rpg on 46 percent shooting from the field over the last five. "It's going to take some time for him to be able to accept that, but that's what a new situation brings. You have to learn your players; I have to learn my coach. I've learned what he likes, and I have a lot more to learn.

"I know he doesn't like shots late in games, but he always tells me he doesn't want to take away what I do. If it's there, you have to take it, but the questionable shots that I shoot, and I know sometimes they're bad shots, those are the ones he has a huge problem with, and those are probably the ones I shouldn't be taking."

Kwame or Etan?

It's still too premature to write off Kwame Brown, but there's a growing feeling in Washington that Etan Thomas may be a better answer than Brown at the four for the Wizards.
Etan Thomas
Washington Wizards

13 9.5 8.1 1.2 .483 .635

Over the last five games, Thomas (11 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg on 50 percent shooting) and Brown (10 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 0 bpg on 51 percent shooting) are averaging similar numbers. Brown has started every game for the Wizards this season, but it's usually Thomas who finishes them.

Thomas' defense and physical strength have bolstered what has been a historically soft front line.

"He's the heart and soul of what we do," said coach Eddie Jordan. "We've kind of taken his personality, his grit, determination and second effort. He's our leader right now."

Point guard Gilbert Arenas agrees. "He's been the catalyst the whole season," Arenas said. "You have to give all the credit to [Thomas]. It's great because you know he's going to be there. It's like every rebound that goes up, you know he's going to get it or give us a second chance at it. He's going to battle and be a warrior out there."

League sources claim that Jordan is reluctant to give away Brown's starting position at the moment despite Thomas' inspired play. He doesn't want Brown to lose confidence and feels like benching Kwame will just do more damage at the moment.

Marc Jackson returning to rookie form

Maybe that rookie season Marc Jackson put up in Golden State wasn't a fluke after all. Remember way back during the 2000-01 season when Jackson had that breakout performance that almost landed him Rookie of the Year honors. That season Jackson averaged 13.2 ppg and 7.5 rpg on 46 percent shooting. Since then, the best Jackson has been able to muster is 5.5 ppg and 2.9 rpg last season with the T-Wolves.
Marc Jackson
Philadelphia 76ers

14 10.4 6.4 0.8 .434 .769

Since landing in Philly, however, things have been different for Jackson. Over his last five, Jackson is averaging career highs of 15.4 ppg and 8.3 rpg and seems to have cemented his role as the starting center on the Sixers' front line.

You think Kevin McHale wouldn't mind having him back right now? The T-Wolves dumped Jackson after landing center Michael Olowokandi in free agency. Olowokandi's numbers over his last five? 5.5 ppg and 1 rpg.

Odom on a new high

Maybe Pat Riley knows what he's doing after all. The Heat are terrible, but you can't fault the play of Lamar Odom during the Heat's rough stretch.
Odom has been on fire over the last five, averaging 19.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg and 3.4 apg while shooting 48 percent from the field and the 3-point line. More importantly, look at the plus minus numbers for Odom and the Heat. The Heat are being outscored by an average of 19.1 ppg when Odom's not on the floor.

Meanwhile, Brian Grant appears to be in another of those funks. He's averaging just 7.6 ppg and 6.8 rpg in the last five.

News of the Weird

If you predicted the following before the start of the regular season, you must be a witch.
Ronald Murray would be the only player in the league to have just one game in which he scored under 20 points. Murray has scored 20 points or more in 10 of the 11 games he's played.

Paul Pierce would have five consecutive games in which he scored less than 20 points a game.

Zach Randolph would rank seventh in the league with 11.1 rpg.

Brian Cardinal and Anthony Peeler would be among the league leaders in 3-point field goal percentage.

Antoine Walker would NOT be among the top 10 players in 3-pointers attempted after shooting 132 more 3s than the third-most prolific shooter in the game (Allan Houston) last season.

Earl Watson would rank second in the league in assists per 48 minutes.

Mehmet Okur would rank fourth in the league in rebounder per 48.

The Good, the Bad, the Kitchen Sink

Cheer up, Stan Van Gundy!

Your Miami Heat may be only 3-11 on the season and currently stuck in a three-game losing streak, but until this re-alignment thing kicks in, you're only four games back of being the second-seeded team in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

And you thought the BCS was bad.

The Good

Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves

GarnettWeek's work: 3-0 record, 24.3 ppg, 15 rpg, 6 apg, 1 spg, 3 bpg, 48% shooting
What could he have possibly whispered into LeBron James' ear Friday after the game that he didn't already fully explain in detail that night on the floor without saying a word to anyone in particular?

Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Atlanta Hawks
Week's work: 2-2 record, 22.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.5 apg, 2 spg, 0.7 bpg, 53% shooting
Hasn't let his franchise's dismal offseason, perhaps the worst start of his own career nor the 39-point thumping at the hands of the Spurs three days ago keep him from matching his career numbers this week. But, then again, maybe Elton Brand was on to something with that broken right foot thing.

Andrei Kirilenko, Utah Jazz
Week's work: 2-1 record, 22.3 ppg, 8 rpg, 3 apg, 2.3 spg, 1.6 bpg, 4 triples, 53% shooting
Everything Tim Thomas, Darius Miles and Jonathan Bender wanted to be when they grew up.

Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
Week's work: 2-1 record, 25.3 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1 spg, 2.3 bpg, 61% shooting
Shooting 61 percent from the field would be nice for most two-time MVPs, but not when 63 percent and another free throw would have meant a 3-0 record this week rather than the one blemish in the one game that really mattered if, really, any games really matter three weeks in.

The Bad

Jalen Rose, Chicago Bulls

RoseWeak work: 0-4 record, 7.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.2 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.5 bpg, 30% shooting
Some guys have bad weeks. Some guys have bad weeks thrust upon them. And some guys just up and quit.

Michael Olowokandi, Minnesota Timberwolves
Weak work: 2-0 record, 5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 44% shooting
You would think that the one game this fella would want to play this week would be against the former team that tossed him to the curb to, if nothing else, prove them wrong. Instead, this 7-foot former No. 1 pick puts up these sorry numbers and then is replaced by Mark Madsen, 6-foot-9, and Gary Trent, 6-foot-8, in the lineup against the Clippers who were only proven right.

Desmond Mason, Milwaukee Bucks
Weak work: 2-2 record, 8 ppg, 4 rpg, 1 apg, 2 spg, 0.2 bpg, 29% shooting
Finding it harder and harder to replace a superstar from the bench be it a point guard in Seattle or shooting guard in Milwaukee.

Corey Maggette, Los Angeles Clippers
Weak work: 0-3 record, 11.3 ppg, 6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0 spg, 0 bpg, 25% shooting
Better players have tried to break this franchise curse only to go away grumbling with their faces buried in their hands wondering where all the rolling cameras, and careers, went after the music videos were shot. Not only is he human. He's a Clipper. At least that's what his contract says for too many more years.

The Ugly

The Toronto Raptors have climbed over the triple-digit mark only once so far this season and it took double-overtime against the Houston Rockets to do it, and that was just barely at 101. In regulation, they are averaging only 75.2 points per game.

Compare that to the New Jersey Nets, this season's next most pathetic offense, at 85.3.

Or the UConn women's basketball team, which is averaging 95 points per game this year.

The Kitchen Sink


MillerBrad Miller is doing just fine, thank you, in his transition from all-star center in the Eastern Conference to just another big man in the West. But it isn't the 12.8 points per game (a shade under last year's 13.1) or even the 10.2 rebounds per game (a complete hue above last year's 8.3) that are making the biggest impression in Sacramento. It's the 5.7 assist per game after averaging only 2.6 per game last season and 1.9 on his career. Of course, he started out last season in just the same way but never had a triple-double like he did last week against the Magic with 22-14-10.

At his current pace, Charlie Ward, who has never hit more than 102 3-pointers in a season, will make 151 of them this year. At 24 triples in 13 games, he has three more than Allan Houston in seven fewer attempts. The New York Knick point guard is currently shooting 49 percent from long distance on the season after shooting 36 percent coming in.

When Antawn Jamison has played 30 or more minutes this year for the Dallas Mavericks, he's scored 20.3 points per game and the Mavs have gone 4-2. When he's played less than 30 minutes a game, he's scored only 7.4 points per game and the Mavs are 5-2. Combined, he's averaged 13.4 points per game on a career-high 48 percent shooting from the field. Last year, for the Warriors, he averaged 22.2 points per game on 47 percent shooting.

Kobe Bryant has hit more free throws than any other player in the league and he ain't even getting started. So far, he's made 101 of them compared to Allen Iverson's 99. The difference, though, is that Kobe has taken 59 of them in his last five games after taking only 58 of them in his first eight while Iverson has taken only 32 on his last four games after taking 98 in his first nine.

Over the previous two seasons, the Nets have compiled an impressive 67-15 record at home. Two years ago, they didn't loss their fifth home game until Feb. 14, when the Pistons came to New Jersey to beat them 85-50. Last year, they didn't lose their fifth home game until March 2 when Andrei Kirilenko tipped in a rebound at the buzzer to give the Jazz a 91-90 victory. This year, they lost their fifth home game last Saturday, Nov. 22, when Morris Peterson dropped in a free throw with less than a second remaining. So far this year, the Nets are 2-5 at home.


RadmanovicSeattle SuperSonic Vladimir Radmanovic, at 6-foot-10, is on pace to shoot 470 3-pointers this season but grab only 410 defensive rebounds, which would place him somewhere between last year's numbers of 7-footer Dirk Nowitzki (390 triple attempts to 710 defensive rebounds) and 6-foot-9 Antoine Walker (582 triple attempts to 464 defensive rebounds).


Karl Malone, who has 42 rebounds in his last three games, is now averaging 10.5 per game on the season and has increased his career total to 14,748, which places him eighth in the league this year and fifth on the all-time list behind Wilt, Bill, Kareem, Elvin Hayes and Moses with 16,212. Chamberlain finished with 23,924 for an average of 22.9 per game over 14 seasons.

Erick Dampier, center for the Warriors, who are 4-0 versus Eastern Conference
Numbers: 12.8 ppg, 13.8 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.9 bpg, 50% shooting

Ben Wallace, center for the Pistons, who are 3-3 versus Western Conference
Numbers: 10.2 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 2.3 spg, 3.5 bpg, 39% shooting

San Antonio Spurs (8-6) versus Los Angeles Lakers (11-3)
Friday, Nov. 28, 2003 in Los Angeles
7:30 pp.m.m PST on ESPN

Forget the last five NBA titles these two teams have split and the 22 regular-season home games the Lakers have won in a row. Who cares about Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan, anyways, when Manu Ginobili has hit nine of his last 10 shots and wants to see what Kobe has to say about it.


"We're coming back with a vengeance," Magic head coach Johnny Davis with 1-12 Orlando about to face 10-2 Indiana tonight.

Peep Show

Orlando Magic: When it rains, it pours, and you find out Pat Garrity will have season-ending surgery on his right knee. "My guess is that puts me at March before I can see if it works and that seems like an eternity now," Garrity said in Florida Today. "Waiting four months to start rehabilitating is going to make it tough (to come back this season)." This will be the third operation in four months for Garrity and his knee.

Washington Wizards: "I feel bad," Gilbert Arenas said in the Washington Times. "I was in the middle of a spin and I heard something pop in my stomach and groin area. It was like a charley horse." Actually, it was a bruised abdomen. We think. "I don't want to misdiagnose it, but it's bad," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said in the Washington Times. "It's bad right now." Gilbert may miss the next two road games for the Wizards.

Seattle SuperSonics: You can take away Jerome James' starting center position. You can take away his reserve spot in the rotation. But you can't take away his god-given right to not care. "I don't care. I'm different from everybody else," James said in the Tacoma Tribune. "I come to work, I do my job, I practice hard, I show up on time. Whatever they see fit for this team on the floor, then that is their call. That's not my call. My call is to do what they ask when my name is called."

Boston Celtics: Nobody misses Raef LaFrentz more than his former Kansas teammate Paul Pierce. "Man, I think Raef is very important," said Pierce in the Boston Herald. "I think he's a double-double guy for us. I think he's going to be a strong rebounder, strong defender and give us double-figure scoring and a defensive presence. I think he's definitely going to be a key for us in his return . . . Raef brings another dimension. He's a big guy who can draw his man out to the perimeter along with the other two perimeter guys and myself. It gives you more flexibility on the lineup. It gives you more flexibility on just being able to drive." LaFrentz is eligible to come off the disabled list with right knee tendinitis after tonight but may not play until next Monday.

Los Angeles Lakers: The Los Angeles Times is reporting that while Shaquille O'Neal missed Sunday night's win over the Grizzlies with a strained right calf, it wouldn't be too long before he returned to the lineup. "This is one of those injuries that, although it's painful, you're not capable of hurting it worse," Shaq said. He could play as soon as Wednesday.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Head coach Paul Silas and swingman Ira Newble were caught arguing in public after the latest loss but will settle their differences behind closed doors. "I'm not going to comment about it, we're going to handle this thing in house," Silas said in the Akron Beacon Journal. Most believe the argument was over playing time and may result in Newble being fined or even suspended.

Mavs Rule
11-24-2003, 03:25 PM
Thanks for posting this TheBac. It is nice that someone has taken over for Outlet Pass in this regard.