View Full Version : NBA Insider - 2/10/06

02-10-2006, 04:46 PM
Chat with Chris Sheridan

Welcome to The Show! On Friday, ESPN.com's NBA reporter Chris Sheridan will log on to chat with you about all the action on the hardcourt ... and all the news and notes off of it. Chris came to ESPN from the Associated Press where he spent the last 10 years as the lead NBA writer.

Sheridan's chat tips off at noon ET on Friday so send in your questions now and join him right here for the answers.

Sheridan archives: Columns | Chats

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Greetings from New York, where the Al Michaels-for-Oswald the Lucky Rabbit deal has inspired me to begin researching the strangest thing ever to be included in an NBA trade. So far all I've come up with is Scot Pollard. Lots of questions lined up today, so here we go ...

Richard (Melbourne, VIC): Why is it that none of you NBA writers understand the difference between 'compliment' and 'complement'? I can only assume you guys don't because I frequently see the two words confused in chat wraps. Has it gotten to a point where journalism students need to also take a minor in English? I thought I might just send this comment to you, given that you displayed ostensible pride in your literacy skills in your very first chat. Then of course there are your colleagues (such as Chad Ford) who frequently confuse 'they're', 'their', and 'there'. Do you guys need editors for your chat sessions too?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: It's pretty early in the morning over there to be up worrying about our English, isn't it Richard? Were you one of the Aussie fans who chanted "Carter is a Wanker" at Vince during that pre-Olympic US-Australia game in Melbourne in 2000? What a strange game. Carter collided with a ref and broke the guy's elbow, and a woman who had worked the opening US-Australia women's game was brought back to work the men's game. Also, Richard, you've picked a heck of a time to deride the editing abilities of the chat folk. Did you know today is Chatgirl's final day? That means in Australia, where it's already tomorrow, Chat Girl is already embarked on her new career.

Andy (Detroit): Are Miles or K-Mart worth the risks?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: The risk with Miles is that he's been paid for his potential for 5 1-2 years now, but he hasn't come close to preforming at a level that would justify his salary. That didn't stop the Blazers from bidding against themselves and giving him a six-year deal, and now they must decide whether that was another mistake from the past they need to correct. Miles is a favorite of owner Paul Allen, so there will be some resistance. New York remains willing to do a Penny Hardaway for Theo Ratliff and D.Miles deal, but the Blazers want to include Patterson instead of Darius. Given all the stuff that's being going around Isiah this season, I don't expect him to bring aboard someone with as much baggage as Patterson. With K-Mart, the risk is having all those long-term dollars committed to a player coming off knee surgery and still dealing with some soreness. The knee has kept Martin from practicing much this season, and coach Karl has always liked his players to practice hard. There's a sense from other teams that the Nuggets are a house divided when it comes to their affection for Martin, and no ones quite sure who has the final say in Denver on personnel matters these days.

Sean: What are the Hawks going to do about losing Tyrone Lue for the next couple of weeks? Will they let Joe Johnson take over the position? Will they take a flyer on the artist formally known as Jay Williams? Royal Ivey is not the solution! Thanks

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: They're actually dusting off Tony Delk tonight, showcasing him so they can find something on the trade market _ maybe even a replacement for Lue.

Eric (NJ): Who's Stern going to choose as a replaement for Jermaine O'neal?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: He'll make his selection over the weekend, and I can't see him passing up Gilbert Arenas, who is fourth in the league in scoring and will be one of the faces of Team USA at the World Championship in Japan this summer. Michael Redd is another strong candidate, but Gilbert is averaging 28+ points, for pete's sake.

Ryan (Holliday): What team has the ugliest jerseys in the NBA?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: The Jazz. Their uniforms are as boring as multicultural day in Provo.

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: I'm sticking with the Spurs as my Western pick for now, but I'm also anxiously awaiting the final two regular-season meetings between Dallas and San Antonio, who appear all but locked into a second-round matchup that will allow a weaker team to advance to the Western conference finals out of the other bracket. In the East, nobody touches the Pistons.

Blake (Halifax, Nova Scotia): Any chance that Toronto will move Antonio Davis before the deadline?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Since they are forbidden by NBA rules from trading him to Chicago, the only thing I see making sense is a deal with Dallas for Keith Van Horn, with the Mavs tossing in a litle something extra (would $3 million do it?). Davis would give them a very capable low-post defender to use against Tim Duncan in the second round of the playoffs, then they can leave him on the bench for seven games against the Suns or someone else in the conference finals.

Jack (NYC): Can the Knicks give the Bulls the draft pick they just got from the Raptors instead of their own for the upcoming draft?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: No. The Knicks now have the Spurs' pick and Denver's pick, but they can't get their own pick back because of the conditions they agreed to when they traded it to Chicago. A reminder to Knicks fans: One more win by the Bobcats, and Charlotte moves ahead of New York for 29th place.

Mustafa(FL): Hey Chris, out of all of those NBA Games u attended, who has the most exciting fans?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Auburn Hills, Mich. and Oakland, Calif.

Mike (Memphis): Is the market for Lorenzen Wright along the lines of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit or can we actually get another player for him?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Jerry West is not going to simply give him away, as much as he'd like to move him, if it will adversely affect the Grizzlies' chances to get out of the first round. So there has to be some size coming back, or Wright will be stuck in Memphis another couple months _ still nothing compared to Oswald's stint in NBC's vault.

kwame: newcastle, de: All star game is all about the best players. How can a team with no superstars all of a sudden have 4 all-stars. All star game is not about what the "team" has done from november to february. I'm simply saying detroit doesn't deserve to have 4 all-stars in the game, expecially when there are other deserving all-stars.

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Wow, now that's some serious hating on the Pistons. Send us a resume.

fred (L.A): The Clippers are shopping Wilcox for a perimeter playing big. How about Jared Jeffries....

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: With the uninspired way Chris has been playing, the Clips will be lucky to get anything for him _ especially with Elgin Baylor asking for alot in return, as he usually does. At the Knicks-Clippers game at MSG the other night, Wilcox got so abused by Channing Frye under the basket, Sam Cassell came leaping off the bench to scream and point at him. Referee Kevin Fehr saw the outburt from midcourt and hit Cassell with a technical foul, then rescinded it when the other refs told him Cassell was indeed yelling at Wilcox.

Aaron (Dallas): Chris, all the talk the first half of the season has been about the Pistons? Why no love for the Mavs? Avery has won coach of the month honors several times, the team has arguably the same record as Detroit, and they beat Detroit earlier this year by 37 points!

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: The Mavs are the Pistons' bucket boys. [Editors note: Sheridan is Stein and Hollinger's bucket boy]

Victor (El Paso): Will you iron this out for me I'm very confused, do the Bulls get the Knicks 1st pick this draft or the next, or do they have their choice of which one they want?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Chicago gets NY's pick this year. In addition, the Bulls have the right to swap 1st round picks with the Knicks next year.

Gerald(Houston): What potential trades can cure the Rockets woes? Or do you think they should just wait for the lottery

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: I actually liked the Bogans trade from the Rockets' point of view. Their backcourt bench scoring has been nonexistent this season, and Keith can play a bit if he ever gets healthy. Baxter is little more than a big body. I think the Rockets would like to move Stromile Swift for a similar sized player with a little more spunk, but there's anot a whole lot more on their roster that's both healthy and movable.

H.L. (Tallahassee, FL): How do you think a Mavs-Spurs 7 game series will play out in the playoffs?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: The home team wins it.

Matt, MPLS: As long as we are ironing out first round draft picks, what is the status of the Wolves. No first rounder for ANOTHER two years?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: The Wolves owe the Clippers a No. 1 pick from the Cassell-Jaric trade, and Minnesota has 1-10 lottery protection on the pick through 2011. They cannot give the Celtics the pick they owe them until two years after they give the Clips a pick. So if the Wolves give their 2006 pick to LA, they'll keep their 2007 pick (they have to under NBA rules that forbid trading a first-round pick two straight season) and send their 2008 pick to Boston.

Mike (SLC: Boozer, finally playing and will it matter?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Sloan said he's going to give him 5 minutes tonight, so the over/under on when the hamstring gets pulled is 3 minutes.

Mark(Raleigh): Is a Paul Pierce trade inevitable ? If I trade him to Chicago - Hinrich HAS to be a part of it or no deal. Agree ?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: Absolutely Hinrich has to be a part of it, along with Gordon, too. An offer beginning with those two would get the Celts' attention, but the salaries don't even come close to matching. That's why I think if a Celts-Bulls trade gets done, it'll be in the summer when the Bulls have all that cap room and can made trades in which the salaries need not match.

RL (NY): Will one of your sportswriters get a hold of Dolan and find out what he is thinking by keeping Isiah as long as he has? Does he enjoy spending $100+MM to compete for last place?

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: You have to understand how little the money means to Dolan and his company Cablevision. Every month they get $40 bucks or more from a large percentage of the NY metropolitan area, where they have a cable TV monopoly in most areas. That's an awful, awful lot of money coming in each month, so they give a large portion of it to Jimmy to run the Knicks and Rangers, and he spends it. Then next month, there's a whole new boatload of money to spend, and so on, and so on ...


SportsNation Chris Sheridan: I believe Rod Thorn will take one last run at Wilcox, who has been on the Nets' radar for a while. The impression I've gotten is that the Nets believe teams' asking prices will come down around Feb. 22. I'd like to see them try to fit Reggie Evans into the mix, but Reggie will probably veto any trade at a team already over the salary cap. He blieves he's going to get a free agent contract starting around $6 million per season, and the most New Jersey would be able to offer him would be $5 million. If Evans reassesses his open market value in the next 12 days and lowers his expectations, I think the Nets will go after him.

SportsNation Chris Sheridan: That's all for today, folks. Check the site early next week for a recap of every NBA trade made over the past year, with winners and losers declared. It'll help pass the time while refreshing your memory as the days tick down toward the trade deadline.

The rookie cream, surprises and disappointments

By John Hollinger

OK, so perhaps the NBA Rookie of the Year voting won't provide much suspense this year. Unless aliens invade in the night and secretly inject Chris Paul with Rafael Araujo's DNA, the Hornets' point guard will win going away.

But what of the rest of the rookie class? If Paul is blowing the doors off, it follows that the rest of this year's crew isn't exactly making us forget the LeBron-Melo-Bosh-Wade class of 2003. Besides this one breakout star, the other rookies have all had their ups and downs this season.

Perhaps we should have expected this. Unlike a year ago, when a great high school class saved what otherwise would have been a dud of a rookie crop, this year's prepsters didn't bring much to the table. In a draft already devoid of superstar talent, that meant we weren't likely to see many impact players.

Nonetheless, some have turned out better than others. With their first campaign half over, it's time to assess where each of this year's rookies stands and what their future holds. The class of 2005 is easily broken down into three groups -- the cream, the surprises, and the disappointments. Of course, Paul should be in a class by himself, but he'll have to settle for being captain of the first team:


Chris Paul, New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets: In addition to all the other things he's bringing to the table, check out this stat: Paul has the second-best Rebound Rate of any point guard, trailing only Jason Kidd. The 6-foot, 20-year-old Paul is outrebounding Mark Blount, Rashard Lewis, Andre Iguodala, Shane Battier, Carmelo Anthony, Tayshaun Prince, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, among others.

Sarunas Jasikevicius, Indiana Pacers: The Lithuanian combo guard has been one of the few Pacers to make it through the year without breaking something, and his numbers should improve once he adjusts to the longer NBA 3-pointer. He's at 39.2 percent from downtown even now, which isn't bad, but with his stroke he could be in the low to mid-40s next year. Better yet, he's proved better at running the offense than expected and could take over at the point if Jamaal Tinsley's struggles continue.

Charlie Villanueva, Toronto Raptors: Rob Babcock took heat for this pick, but he's turned out to have the last laugh (well, except for the part where he got fired last month). Villanueva still needs work on his defense, but his variety of offensive skills has him averaging nearly 20 points per 40 minutes and creating nightly matchup problems for opponents. The main concern is that the 6-11 forward plays the same position as Raptors star Chris Bosh, making a future trade south of the border a distinct possibility.

Channing Frye, New York Knicks: A star in the making, were it not for the Knicks' baffling reluctance to play him. Look Larry, you're a great coach, but anytime you're looking up at the Hawks in the standings, it's time to give it a rest and let the kids play. Frye's per-minute numbers are phenomenal -- 21.2 points, 9.4 boards per 40 minutes -- and they'd almost certainly be even better if his role and minutes didn't fluctuate on a nightly basis. He's one of the best shooting big men in basketball, but he's not just a perimeter guy -- Frye gets to the line and blocks shots too. The defense needs work, though.

Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee Bucks: He's turned out about as expected, and were it not for Paul's exploding onto the scene, he'd be cruising toward a Rookie of the Year trophy. Bogut still takes his lumps on some nights, but he's a high-percentage scorer (52.8 percent from the floor), he rebounds and he's one of the best passing big men in the game. And while the Rookie of the Year award won't be his, Bogut already has blown Luc Longley and Andrew Gaze off the map for the title of "Greatest-ever Australian basketball player."


Salim Stoudamire, Atlanta Hawks: For a guy taken with the 31st overall pick, Damon's cousin has established a niche very quickly. The naysayers were right about two things: He's not a true point guard, and he's not much of a defender. But with that shot of his, it doesn't matter. Stoudamire is shooting 38.1 percent on 3-pointers and 88.1 percent from the line, and will stay in the league for a decade because of his unlimited range.

Jarrett Jack, Portland Trail Blazers: Yes, the Blazers traded the pick that could have been Chris Paul, but never let it be said that they didn't get jack. Taken with the 22nd pick, the rookie from Georgia Tech has earned crunch-time minutes because of his defense, and at 6-3, 202 pounds, he has the size and strength to finish around the rim. Right now he can't shoot to save his life, but if he ever gets a jumper, he'll be a long-term starter.

Danny Granger, Pacers: He may not be a surprise in the sense that people are shocked by what he's doing, since a lot of people had high hopes for Granger. But the fact remains that he was the 17th overall pick and is playing a major role on a quasi-contending team. While his numbers aren't anything special, he's as far along defensively as any of the other rookies and showed he can score when called upon. In this class, that's noteworthy.

Linas Kleiza, Denver Nuggets: Kleiza hasn't seen much action because some guy named Carmelo plays the same position, but when he's been out there he's performed very well. While Denver's other first rounder, Julius Hodge, has spent the year learning the meaning of "business casual," Kleiza has helped the injury-wracked Nuggets stay afloat. The Lithuanian is unusually physical for a Euro and has the pipes to prove it, helping him to one of the best rebound rates among small forwards.

David Lee, Knicks: The last pick of the first round started every game in the Knicks' six-game winning streak, the lone bright spot in an otherwise miserable season. So of course, Brown had to put him back on the bench. Despite having to sit behind mediocrities such as Jerome James, Maurice Taylor and Malik Rose, Lee is shooting 59.8 percent and has one of the best rebound rates among forwards. The 6-9 lefty should become a fixture in the Knicks' rotation if one is ever established.


Deron Williams, Utah Jazz: Come back, Carlos Arroyo, all is forgiven. The Jazz are saying the right things about their bungled choice of Williams over Paul this June, but good heavens, look at their actions. Last week, Jerry Sloan went to a lineup with two points guards, and didn't choose Williams for either spot. It wasn't like they had Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson lying around either -- Williams is now backing up Keith McLeod and Milt Palacio. That's what 38 percent shooting with few offsetting positives will get you.

Rashad McCants, Minnesota Timberwolves: The scouting report on McCants coming out of North Carolina was that he acted like a knucklehead sometimes and didn't play much defense, but at least he could score. So far, he's been a knucklehead more often than not and hasn't played much defense and he hasn't scored either. A curious inability to draw fouls (he's taken only 63 free throws all season) and a penchant for turnovers have been his biggest offensive problems.

Martell Webster, Blazers: The Blazers traded down to No. 6 from No. 3 to get Webster and then insisted they liked him better than Chris Paul anyway. I'm guessing they've reconsidered that position. Webster has a wonderful jumper but has miles to go in every other respect. In his first pro seasons out of high school, he's currently struggling even in the D-League, all while David Stern smugly looks on and pats himself on the back for banning high schoolers from the draft.

Antoine Wright, New Jersey Nets: Wright couldn't have come into a more promising situation. He was joining a winning team with a weak bench that was in particular need of another scorer. Wright fit the bill on all counts, but he was so bad in preseason that he's spent most of the season on the inactive list and hasn't been able to beat out Lamond Murray for minutes.

Marvin Williams, Hawks: It's not a good year for rookies named Williams. In addition to Deron and Marvin there's a third Williams, Louis, who has hardly played after being a second-round pick by the 76ers. I know what you're thinking -- how can I call Marvin a disappointment when I just wrote that his upside is so high? Here's why: He was the second overall pick, and his play as a rookie hasn't backed up his draft spot. So while I think he'll eventually play his way off this list, right now he has to be on it.


Jose Calderon, Raptors: Pass-first Spanish point guard could inherit starting job if Mike James is traded, but needs to shoot better to keep it.

Fabricio Oberto, San Antonio Spurs: Argentine beef import has struggled to get minutes in Spurs' crowded frontcourt, and hasn't stood out in his few chances.

Raymond Felton, Charlotte Bobcats: Charlotte probably wishes it picked one spot sooner, but Felton looks solid as point guard of the future.

Ike Diogu, Golden State Warriors: A studly scorer who torched Detroit's Wallaces, Diogu's defensive limitations make him impossible to pair with Troy Murphy.

Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers: Raw teenage center intrigues with tools but has long, long way to go.

Fran Vazquez, Orlando Magic: Prefers being El Hombre in Spain to being El Caddy for Dwight Howard.

Yaroslav Korolev, Clippers: Russian teen has earned more splinters than minutes on veteran squad.

Sean May, Bobcats: He needs to drop 20, but May showed he could play before knee injury ended his season.

Joey Graham, Raptors: Not sure why Babcock took him ahead of Granger. He defends, but he can't score. Twin brother Stephen tore up CBA, by the way.

Gerald Green, Boston Celtics: High schooler may get some burn now that Celtics are fading from playoff race.

Hakim Warrick, Memphis Grizzlies: Started to turn the corner of late, but high flier still needs some muscle and a jumper.

Julius Hodge, Nuggets: In Denver's ongoing quest for a shooting guard, nobody has ever suggested that Hodge might be the answer.

Nate Robinson, Knicks: World's shortest two guard still rough around the edges, but he's athletic enough to make it work.

Francisco Garcia, Sacramento Kings: Brutally bad at start of year, he's put it together in past few weeks to become key cog off bench.

Luther Head, Houston Rockets: Decent shooter needs to develop in other areas, but apparently used compromising photos of commissioner to get rookie game invite.

Johan Petro, Seattle SuperSonics: Plays harder than Jerome James did, but not any more effectively yet.

Jason Maxiell, Detroit Pistons: Man, that's a heck of a team he's watching.

Wayne Simien, Miami Heat: Has seen sporadic action on a veteran Miami team and hasn't made a case for more.

Ian Mahinmi, San Antonio Spurs: Spurs think he could be best thing from France since the Coneheads, but teenage big man will stay overseas for a while longer.

James Singleton, Clippers: Took him a while to make the NBA, but defensive ace clearly belongs.

Daniel Ewing, Clippers: Got minutes in thin backcourt but hasn't done much with them.

Andray Blatche, Wizards: Teenage forward showed lots of skills in limited burn.

Donell Taylor, Wizards: Though undrafted, he's taken over as Wizards' backup PG.

Monta Ellis, Warriors: Going preps-to-pros is tough on guards, but he can score.

Shavlik Randolph, 76ers: Plays more for Philly than he did for Duke. Playing better, too.

Travis Diener, Magic: Size an issue, but shooting could make up for it.

Charlie Bell, Bucks: Became one of Bucks' top reserves before hurting knee.

Chuck Hayes, Rockets: Undrafted out of Kentucky, he's proving he belongs.

Chris Taft, Warriors: Fared well in his few chances but has a lot of bodies ahead of him.

Orien Greene, Celtics: Atrocious offensively, he's getting minutes but probably shouldn't.

John Hollinger writes for ESPN Insider. His book "Pro Basketball Forecast: 2005-06" is available at Amazon.com and Potomac Books. To e-mail him, click here.

02-10-2006, 04:50 PM
ESPN.com's Intelligence Report: Feb. 10


Boston Celtics
Despite Record, Pierce An All-Star
It seemed like the ultimate no-brainer. But when word reached the Celtics yesterday that Paul Pierce was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the fifth straight season, there must have been a sigh of relief. ... ''It's a great honor," said Pierce. ''Every time you get a chance to participate in an All-Star game, among the best players in the NBA, it's always an honor. My fifth one in a row. It seems like they get better each and every year." Pierce did feel a bit lucky to earn an All-Star berth with the Celtics currently on course for a lottery pick. -- Boston Globe

Jones Gets A Look
The Celtics will likely start Ryan Gomes at power forward tonight with Raef LaFrentz at center. Dwayne Jones, the rookie center acquired in the deal with Minnesota, wasn't expected to get much of an NBA sniff this season, but he was back from the NBDL and practicing with the C's yesterday. His rebounding talents (11.7 a game in the D-League) were evident. Said Rivers: "I told him joking after practice, 'Don't worry about not knowing the offense or the defense. If you just keep getting the rebounds, we'll be very happy with you.' -- Boston Herald

Charlotte Bobcats
Bobcats Can Add By Losing Bogans
Think of Thursday's Charlotte Bobcats trade as an effort at housekeeping. The Bobcats traded shooting guard Keith Bogans to the Houston Rockets for power forward Lonny Baxter. The move addressed an overload at shooting guard and acquired quick help inside, where injuries have plagued them. Bernie Bickerstaff said this deal would neither save nor scuttle either team's season. "It's not anything that gets us over the hump,'' Bickerstaff said, "just like (losing) Bogans is not going to take anything under.'' -- Charlotte Observer

Chicago Bulls
NBA Selects Winners, Not High Scorers
For the seventh consecutive year (there was no game in 1999), there will be no Bulls in the big event at the NBA's midseason carnival, though Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni are going as warmup acts in the Friday night rookie/sophomore game. But the Bulls are hardly alone in being snubbed, if one could call it that. -- Chicago Tribune

Skiles Prefers Victories Over Red-Hot Gordon
Bulls general manager John Paxson has said in the past that the team needs a star player. But coach Scott Skiles didn't attach much value to Ben Gordon's three consecutive 30-point games. "We're 1-2 in those games," Skiles said. ... "I guess the end of my long answer is there are a lot of teams in the league that have 'stars,' so to speak, that are pretty crummy teams. They have poor records and are underachieving, so I wouldn't put all the stock in that." -- Arlington Heights Daily Herald

Chandler Will Enjoy Visit Home
The Bulls are due for two days off in L.A. after playing in Sacramento late Thursday night. This time, Tyson Chandler is coming home on a roll, with eight consecutive games of double-figure rebounds. "It's definitely going to feel good," Chandler said before Thursday's game at Arco Arena. "I don't know what we have (Friday), but I'm hoping I can spend the night at home and wake up and beat up my little brothers in the morning. Hopefully, we don't have a meeting or anything like that." -- Arlington Heights Daily Herald

Cleveland Cavaliers
Ilgauskas An Integral Part Of Cavs Success
Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry, a friend and former teammate of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, shakes his head when he reads or hears of the nitpicking. "I think, on the whole, he's very underappreciated here in Cleveland," Ferry says. "Ask around the NBA who the best centers are, and Z's name comes up regularly." -- Cleveland Plain Dealer

Hughes' Finger Injury Not Getting Better
After Larry Hughes was seen by another specialist, Dr. Richard Barth, Thursday near Washington, the Cavs released a depressing report concerning his right finger. Hughes was upset he couldn't return this week to face his old team, the Wizards, but was still hopeful of returning just after the All-Star break. That doesn't appear likely now. The Cavs announced that "it is apparent that Hughes' finger has not progressed as desired'' and "further options for his recovery are being explored.'' Hughes, who had three pins inserted in his knuckle to repair a splitting bone, has been experiencing swelling for weeks and recently switched to wearing a glove to help reduce it. -- Akron Beacon-Journal

"The LeBrons" Action Figures Available Next Week
Upper Deck and Nike will launch "The LeBrons" action figures, based on the television commercials, on Wednesday online via Upper Deck's Web store (www.UpperDeckStore.com). Upper Deck will release the full series of the four characters (Athlete, Business, Kid and Wise LeBron) in April. Only 1,000 individually numbered pieces of each character will be sold at hobby and specialty shops. Upper Deck will release 750 sneak-peek versions of Athlete LeBron to coincide with NBA All-Star week. -- Cleveland Plain Dealer

Change Star Game To Receive More Love
If you watch the game on Feb. 19, you will see the same old, same old: Eastern Conference vs. Western. As if that remotely matters. The format is close to as unwatchable as the Pro Bowl, the "My Mother the Car" of all-star games. Critics have been calling for a healthy injection of nationalism, a USA vs. the Rest of the World scheme. I say, if it's good enough for the Bush Administration, it's good enough for the NBA. Sure, it was done in the late, great National Hockey League, which has just about vanished from my consciousness as a sport when it proved unable to top chain-smokers playing poker on ESPN. But the NHL All-Star Game format worked. -- Cleveland Plain Dealer

Detroit Pistons
Pistons Will Have Four All-Stars
Talk about your dream team. When Flip Saunders goes to his bench during the All-Star game in Houston on Feb. 19, he will be able to summon four of his own players. Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton were selected as Eastern Conference reserves by a coaches' vote. ... Saunders said he will play all four together. "It's only fitting that the first time those guys step on the floor, they step on the floor together," Saunders said. -- Detroit News

Indiana Pacers
Even Pros Discover They're Not Immortal
Larry Bird takes several pills each day to address an irregular heartbeat. Mel Daniels, who had quadruple bypass surgery 11 years ago, takes medication for his heart. Earl Monroe, who had an enlarged prostate gland, has become a spokesman for a medication that treats the condition. These aren't the preferred images of former basketball stars who live forever in highlight reels, but they are the realities. Athletes age like everyone else, and in many ways are at a disadvantage in dealing with common health concerns. -- Indianapolis Star

Concussion May Keep Croshere Out Until After Break
Forward Austin Croshere, out because of two concussions in less than a month, was on the court before practice Thursday, but he mainly has done light cardio work and rested. There is a chance he won't return until after the All-Star break. -- Indianapolis Star

Miami Heat
Mourning OK With All-Star Snub
The least of Alonzo Mourning's worries Thursday was his omission from the rosters for the All-Star Game. More pressing was his health. Mourning missed the Miami Heat's game Thursday against Dallas because he had the flu. ... "It was really the least of my concerns," said Mourning, a seven-time All-Star. "My concern is making sure the ballclub improves and staying healthy. The All-Star Game is something I have experienced quite a bit. Besides, it gives me a chance to rest." -- Palm Beach Post

Riley Laments Not Getting Howard
Pat Riley continues to lament Mavericks forward Josh Howard as the one that got away. Riley spent the 2002 draft trying to secure an extra first-round pick after drafting Caron Butler at No. 10. Howard was the 29th and final selection of the first round. "We were really working hard to try to get a pick," Riley said. "If we would have had another pick at 11, we would have taken him there. We were looking to shore up our perimeter game. I looked at him as a very tough-minded defensive player. Over the last three years, he's developed into a complete player." -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Milwaukee Bucks
Redd Doesn't Make The Cut
The news that Michael Redd had been overlooked by the league's coaches was met with considerable disappointment among the Bucks, especially since their record has been above .500 all season. "Obviously I'm disappointed for Michael as well as disappointed for the organization," general manager Larry Harris said. "Because I think when you're looking at all-stars, I've always thought that winning was important." -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

New Jersey Nets
Star Doesn't Shine On Jefferson
Vince Carter is an NBA All-Star again, and Jason Kidd is under consideration by the commissioner to join him next weekend. No surprises there, really. The only surprise, at least when the subject of All-Stardom came up over the past month, was that Richard Jefferson's name was rarely mentioned. So he'll stay home again. Players whose teams are 15 games under .500 will go to Houston. -- Newark Star-Ledger

Nets Might Stay In N.J. Until 2010
With delays mounting for their proposed arena in Brooklyn, the Nets and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority are now in serious negotiations to keep the team at Continental Airlines Arena through the end of the decade. Officials involved with negotiations for a new lease for the Nets said the agreement would last at least through the 2010 season with options to continue playing at the arena as long as the Nets need to be there. If the parties reach an agreement on a new lease it would replace the current lease, which is set to expire in 2008. -- Newark Star-Ledger

New York Knicks
Larry Has Fantasy Team
A day after revealing that team president Isiah Thomas had told him to make up a wish list, Larry Brown went public with his ideas, detailing the types of players he'd like to have following practice yesterday. Brown didn't mention any players by name -- well, at least not any that the Knicks have a realistic chance of acquiring. "My wish list is Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Rasheed Wallace, Tim Duncan," Brown said jokingly, or perhaps enviously. Unfortunately for Brown, he will have to make do with what he's got, at least until Thomas can rebuild a team that goes into tonight's game against the Hornets in Oklahoma City with a dismal 14-34 record. -- New York Daily News

Crawford Isn't Sharp At Point
No, Jamal Crawford isn't on the Knicks' injured list. But one has to wonder if he isn't suffering from eye strain with all the time he spends looking at coach Larry Brown. Crawford has drawn the majority of the ballhandling duties since point guard Stephon Marbury suffered a sprained left shoulder Jan. 16. And the shoot-first guard's play at the point at best can be called tentative. -- Newsday

Toronto Raptors
Bosh Has Star Power
Chris Bosh has been known to scream and yell and pump his fist when he gets excited on the basketball court. Off the court, however, the lanky Texan is so laid back, you have to slap him on the shoulder to see if he's awake. And that's when he's talking. Given that, it came as no surprise yesterday when Bosh's reaction to his selection as a NBA all-star seemed somewhat less than frantic. -- Toronto Sun

Washington Wizards
Arenas Motivated By Snub
It should come as no surprise that the Washington Wizards guard plans to draw motivation from the fact that the NBA's Eastern Conference coaches did not select him as a reserve for the Feb. 19 All-Star Game in Houston. Gilbert Arenas, an all-star reserve last season and the NBA's fourth-leading scorer this year, could be added to the 12-man squad by NBA Commissioner David Stern as a replacement for injured Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal, but the sting of being left out by the fan voting process and then by the coaches in his own conference isn't going away any time soon. -- Washington Post

* * * * *


Dallas Mavericks
For Now, Mavs The NBA's Best
The best team in the NBA was at it again Thursday night, shredding a hapless opponent and inching on toward the best record in the league. Best team? Not the Detroit Pistons? Not at this moment, not with Detroit losing three times in the last two weeks. Not at a point in the season where depth matters so much, and the Pistons don't have much, and the Mavericks' superior depth to everybody else in the NBA is really starting to rear its head. -- Dallas Morning News

Cuban Lowers Prices For 2006-07
Two-dollar NBA tickets? Believe it. Mark Cuban never wants fans to avoid Mavericks games because seats are too expensive, so he decided to make good on a promise he made years ago. The owner said then that when his payroll became more manageable, he would pass the savings on to fans in the form of lower prices. On Thursday, he followed through. All seats in the upper level of American Airlines Center will be reduced in price for the 2006-07 season. -- Dallas Morning News

Are Mavs Bashers Paying Attention?
The Mavs are the best team in the NBA right now. Nobody is playing better than them. Not Detroit. Not San Antonio. Certainly not Miami. Listening to players like Shaq in Miami's postgame locker room, it was very apparent that coach Avery Johnson's Mavericks are not viewed as just a pretty streak of 13 consecutive victories. They are viewed as a legit championship contender. -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Denver Nuggets
Anthony Looking Ahead After Snub
As the news became official Thursday that no Nuggets were selected for the Feb. 19 All-Star Game in Houston, Carmelo Anthony reacted by doing what he has done every off day for the past week. He went to the gym for extra shooting practice. ... Despite the news, Anthony could have a significant silver lining in the near future. A source close to USA Basketball said Thursday there is "considerable support" for Anthony's placement on the 2006 World Championship team. When told of the news, Anthony said, "I want to go. I feel like not just me, but people who were there last (time) have something to prove." -- Denver Post

Martin Denies Blame For Altercation
Denver Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin is denying responsibility for a verbal altercation that took place Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center between a heckling fan and a guest of the player seated near the team bench. "I know the person, but I didn't direct nobody to go into the stands," Martin said at a Thursday morning Nuggets practice. "I was watching the game." An NBA spokesman late Thursday said the league is looking into the incident. -- Rocky Mountain News

'Next 10' To Be Unveiled
When the NBA in 1996 announced its top 50 players for its first 50 seasons, Alex English and Adrian Dantley were among those snubbed. Now, they're getting a mulligan. On Feb. 18, during All-Star Weekend, TNT will unveil what it calls its "next 10." With the NBA in its 60th season, the network will reveal 10 additional players to comprise the top 60 in league history. Several active stars, such as Bryant and Tim Duncan, figure to be locks, but TNT also is taking a look at some passed over 10 years ago. -- Rocky Mountain News

Kleiza Finds NBA Life Enriching
Linas Kleiza recently told The Star that he made the right move departing MU after his sophomore season last year, when he averaged 16.1 points and 7.6 rebounds. The Tigers are paying for it, however. In case you lost track, they've lost six in a row. "I wanted to move on. I wanted to start my professional career, and I've definitely been happy," Kleiza said. --Kansas City Star

Watson Spends Time And Money On KCK
Earl Watson, who signed a five-year, $29 million contract with the Nuggets, already has been supplying his old high school with funds. Late last year he gave $25,000 for KCK schools to buy computers, TVs and sports equipment. This isn't simply lip service, either. The money Watson has pledged for the five schools is at work. "It's actually beginning to happen right now in the schools," said Larry Englebrick, assistant superintendent for business services in the Kansas City, Kan., School District. "Earl is a celebrity, and still is a member of our community. The wonderful thing is that Earl wants this to go beyond just kids in athletics. Earl said he wants to help all the kids." -- Rocky Mountain News

Golden State Warriors
Fresh Pietrus Injects Life Into Warriors
During his stint on the French national team at the European basketball championships last summer, Mickael Pietrus habitually referred to anything he liked, especially things he had accomplished, as "frais." Translated from his native tongue into English, "frais" means "fresh," which makes perfect sense, if nothing else, Pietrus has been a breath of fresh air around the Warriors, on the floor and in the locker room. -- Oakland Tribune

Warriors Emphasizing Pressure Defense
Taking advantage of their athleticism in the backcourt, the Warriors have re-emphasized ball pressure. Their perimeter players are clearly more focused on defense and harassing the ball, even if in spurts. They even pick up their man at half court occasionally, instead of waiting inside the 3-point point line. This aggressive defensive approach has provided the necessary energy to avoid sluggish starts, challenged its best players to pick up their play on the defensive end of the court and created the turnovers they need to get their transition game going again. -- Contra Costa Times

Houston Rockets
Bogans Gives Rockets More Depth
Keith Bogans, 25, had participated in three practices before the trade. He underwent a physical late Thursday after arriving in town. His addition is expected to provide backcourt depth, something the Rockets have lacked with the calf injuries to Derek Anderson and Jon Barry. Anderson has missed 29 games; Barry has been sidelined for 32. "At that position we've been suffering quite a bit," Dawson said. "The load has been strictly on David Wesley and he's done a commendable job, but we've got to get him some help." -- Houston Chronicle

Roster Lacks Tough-Minded, Assertive Players
Instead of flashes of cohesion, the Rockets reverted to being the team that struggled through the first half of the season. With or without Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, the Rockets have on several occasions lacked passion and have been lethargic. Frequently they have been devoid of energy and enthusiasm, and with those traits apparent when the Rockets were healthy or hampered, the personality of this roster is suspect. "I am really, really surprised at the personality of our team," coach Jeff Van Gundy said. -- Houston Chronicle

Los Angeles Clippers
Brand Gets Wish With All-Star Spot
The wait is over. Elton Brand was officially added to the NBA All-Star game Thursday as a member of the Western Conference squad. The 6-foot-8 forward was chosen by the league's coaches as a reserve. ... "I didn't want to be overly cocky about it, but I was pretty confident" about going, Brand said after practice. "The team is playing well, and I always thought if the team had success there would be individual accolades." -- Los Angeles Times

Rehab Going Well For Maggette
Corey Maggette continues to recover from a separated ligament in his left foot and is walking without a cast. If therapy goes well, he should be able to play after the All-Star break with a target date of March 1. However, if therapy doesn't take, he will have to have surgery to repair the ligament, and his season would end. But on Thursday, Maggette said he does not expect to have surgery. "Me, personally, I know I'm going to be back playing," he said. "I know my body, and I know I'm going to be able to play." -- Long Beach Press-Telegram

Los Angeles Lakers
Love Or Hate Bryant, It All Ads Up
More than a month after Kobe Bryant first laced them up for the Lakers' Christmas Day game in Miami, the marketing campaign has begun in earnest for his new Nike Zoom Kobe I signature sneaker. Bryant's first television ad since he first was charged with sexual assault in July 2003 aired Thursday night. The superstar guard also will take part in a midnight launch party for the public at Fox Hills Mall in Culver City tonight. The ad is narrated by Bryant and starts with him declaring "Love me or hate me, it's one or the other," and includes black-and-white footage of him shooting jumpers and lifting weights. -- Los Angeles Daily News

Jackson Quick To Criticize Brown
If Lakers coach Phil Jackson is trying to eradicate the sense of entitlement from Kwame Brown, the top pick in the 2001 NBA draft and the Lakers' highest-paid player behind Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom, it's working. "The leash is a little bit tighter for me," Brown said after the Lakers' victory in Houston on Wednesday. Jackson's vision for Brown this season is to be an athletic interior defender in the tradition of Dennis Rodman and learn the offense. But Brown feels pressure to convert what offensive chances he takes. -- Orange County Register

Memphis Grizzlies
Gasol, Grizzlies' and Spain's First All-Star
When Pau Gasol received an $86 million maximum contract extension two summers ago, he emphasized the idea that accomplishments are the true measure of a man's wealth. On Thursday, the 7-foot forward provided an early, exciting return on the Grizzlies' investment when NBA coaches selected him as a reserve on the Western Conference All-Star roster. -- Memphis Commercial-Appeal

Minnesota Timberwolves
Surgery Among Hudson's Options
Troy Hudson has been out since late last week because of the ankle, and results of a magnetic resonance imaging test suggest that scar tissue from the original surgery is causing his problems. He has received daily therapy, attempting to loosen the ankle. "(Surgery) is one of the options. That's why I'm getting more options,'' Hudson said, "to see if there's something more I can do to break up the scar tissue without having to do another surgery. I'm not really too thrilled with getting cut again.'' -- St. Paul Pioneer Press

Trade Exception Confirmed
Kevin McHale confirmed that the Wolves, in the seven-player trade with Boston, also wound up with a $4.2 million trade exception that can be used until the one-year anniversary date (Jan. 26) of the deal. The exception would enable the Wolves to acquire one or more players on existing contracts for up to that figure. It cannot be used to sign free agents. -- Minneapolis Star Tribune

New Orleans Hornets
Paul's Ego Fine After All-Star Snub
After missing Thursday's practice, due to a variety of injuries, Chris Paul didn't make it seem as if missing the All-Star game was a bruise to his ego. That's good, because just about everything else is hurting these days with the Hornets' guard. "I'm just excited to be mentioned with those guys," Paul said in an interview on TNT. "They deserved it." -- The Oklahoman

Hornets Need Help At The Point
Byron Scott said he wants to sign another point guard before the Feb. 23 trade deadline. "I just don't feel comfortable with Kirk (Snyder) handling the ball, and I definitely don't feel comfortable with J.R. (Smith) handling it," Scott said. ... Scott said he might have to play Claxton the entire game tonight to avoid having to use Snyder for any extended time as the backup point guard. -- New Orleans Times-Picayune

Hunter Disappointed He's Not A Hornet
Speaking publicly for the first time in more than a week late Wednesday night, Steven Hunter expressed disappointment in the rescinded trade that would have brought him to the Hornets from the Philadelphia 76ers. ... "I almost cried," Hunter said. "I thought about retiring. But I'm too young, so I'm going to go back to Philadelphia and work my butt off." -- The Oklahoman

Portland Trail Blazers
Someone Tell Allen To Trade Miles -- Now
The dirty little secret here is that Darius Miles, who has been out recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, really doesn't love basketball. He'll tell you as much himself. He doesn't live it. He doesn't breathe it. Basketball is a job to him, like filing papers, selling insurance or digging ditches. And while Miles is a gifted athlete, he's just good enough to get you beat, and just destructive enough to undermine the growth that coach Nate McMillan has made. Anyone still think it's coincidental that the Blazers enjoyed their best growth curve with Miles out? -- The Oregonian

Sacramento Kings
Artest Gains New Friends
Ron Artest was playing only his eighth game for the Kings, but he already has called a team meeting after a loss, predicted a playoff appearance for his new team and has worked closely with rookie Francisco Garcia and second-year guard Martin. In his first seven Kings games, he averaged 17.5 points and 5.7 rebounds. "He is a leader on both ends of the floor," Garcia said. Told he is being hailed as a leader, Artest turned sheepish. "Wow," he said. "Who would have thought I'd hear that? That's pretty cool." -- Chicago Tribune

Miller As Bad Guy Good For Kings
A lot of things are changing around Arco Arena these days. Though it's premature for any outrageous proclamations, Ron Artest has awakened the dead (Kings fans), invigorated his teammates, energized his coach, and reminded his old friend (Brad Miller) that, you know, being bad once in a while can be good. You know, like his early Kings days. -- Sacramento Bee

San Antonio Spurs
Parker Revels As All-Star
Gregg Popovich told Tony Parker of his selection late Wednesday after the team's overtime victory in Toronto. By then, Parker already had heard from his agent, Marc Fleisher. Parker called his family in San Antonio. His youngest brother, Pierre, started screaming. His father cried. The reaction was similar in Paris when he phoned his mother and other brother, T.J. "I was so excited I couldn't sleep," Parker said. "My friends say they're going to have their eyes watery when they see me step on the court." -- San Antonio Express-News

Parker Gets Needed Validation
At age 23, Tony Parker sought validation that he belonged among the league's elite. Oprah Winfrey might not have been interested in Parker's points in the paint, but the N.B.A. coaches recognized his burgeoning talent yesterday, voting him to the Western Conference All-Star team for the first time. -- New York Times

Seattle SuperSonics
Communication Woes Hound Sonics
Several players privately have pointed out that communication in the locker room is a problem, and that has spread onto the court. Ray Allen said players have stopped cheering on the sidelines or slapping hands when they replace each other. "We've got to change some ways we do things around here," he said. "We're too quiet. We don't get excited. We don't act like we want to support each other. I think that has affected some guys. We have to get that back." -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer

KeyArena Tax Plan Called Out Of Bounds
Add hotel and restaurant owners to the list of hurdles in the Sonics' bid to get taxpayer help for KeyArena. Taxes on hotel and restaurant bills helped pay for Safeco and Qwest fields. The stadium taxes were not supposed to be permanent. ... Representatives of the hotel and restaurant industries told the House Finance Committee on Thursday they oppose the proposal, House Bill 3233, because they were promised during the Mariner and Seahawk stadium fights that the taxes would someday expire. -- Seattle Times

Utah Jazz
Is Boozer Really Back?
Sorry if I'm a little snippy this morning. I guess I need a long break, too -- at full salary, of course. In fairness, I'm sure Carlos Boozer attended quite a few rehab sessions. Still, lots of people work out daily, but they don't get paid for it. If things go as planned tonight, the occasional Jazz forward will play in a game for the first time in a year. Last time he appeared was Valentine's Day 2005. That's 361 days ago. People get over heart surgery quicker than that. -- Deseret Morning News

Okur Disappointed He's Not An All-Star
Just like Mehmet Okur hoped, the Western Conference coaches fudged their definition of positions and chose a part-time center to be the backup to Yao Ming in the All-Star Game. They even cast their votes for a European power forward for the job. But it's Pau Gasol of Memphis, and not the Jazz's starting forward, who will be in Houston on Feb. 19. The news disappointed him, Okur acknowledged, because he had started to allow hopes of an electoral surprise to creep into his thoughts. "I thought I was there," Okur said after learning of the seven players chosen by Western Conference coaches to fill out the roster. "But it's all good. I'm happy for [Gasol]." -- Salt Lake Tribune

Jazz Going Up And Over More Often
The Jazz have been going up and over with much greater frequency and comfort the last 10 games or so, and it's no accident. Phi Slamma Jamma, mind you, they are not. It's more like a lob pass here, a mini-alley oop there, whoa let's calm things down before they get completely out of control. "We don't want to throw it away," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said, "but you have to let a defense know you have that ability to do that." -- Deseret Morning News


Fans Flock To See Rodman
The demand for tickets for the February 14th game has been exceptional and the venue is expected to sell out within the next few days. Therefore, Genesis Brighton Bears have arranged to have Dennis Rodman play for a third fixture on 15th February at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre against London Towers. Nick Nurse, head coach of the Genesis Bears commented 'We have been overcome by demand for the 14th February tickets and now all of Dennis' fans in London will have the chance to see him play." -- FIBA.com

Check out your team's news at ESPNLocal

02-10-2006, 05:37 PM
Yeah baby. Respekt!

02-10-2006, 06:42 PM

02-10-2006, 07:45 PM
I thought I'd highlight this bit. Thanks for the post!

ESPN.com's Intelligence Report: Feb. 10

Riley Laments Not Getting Howard
Pat Riley continues to lament Mavericks forward Josh Howard as the one that got away. Riley spent the 2002 draft trying to secure an extra first-round pick after drafting Caron Butler at No. 10. Howard was the 29th and final selection of the first round. "We were really working hard to try to get a pick," Riley said. "If we would have had another pick at 11, we would have taken him there. We were looking to shore up our perimeter game. I looked at him as a very tough-minded defensive player. Over the last three years, he's developed into a complete player." -- South Florida Sun-Sentinel