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02-25-2003, 06:49 PM
Waiving goodbye
by Chad Ford
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The trade deadline may be over, but that doesn't mean NBA rosters are set in stone by any means. Several teams are considering waiving veterans in the last year of their contracts in order to allow them to catch on with a contender. A player has to be waived by Saturday in order to be eligible for postseason play. Insider takes a look at who's rumored to be on the chopping block . . .

Will the Cavs cut Tyrone and Bimbo?

Cavs GM Jim Paxson has the right idea.

His Cavaliers are 10-46, the worst record in the NBA. In the past eight months he's shipped out star point guard Andre Miller, their two leading scorers, Wesley Person and Lamond Murray, and he paid veteran Nick Anderson $6.1 million to stay away from practice.

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He's already fired his head coach, told his leading rebounder, Tyrone Hill, that he'll be permanently sitting on the bench for the rest of the season, and hasn't played his only veteran point guard, Bimbo Coles, in the last three games. The only thing we can't confirm is whether he's planning to play Michael Stewart (0.9 ppg) 48 minutes a game for the rest of the season.

There's a lesson to be learned here folks. If you're going to tank the season to give your team the best shot at winning LeBron James, do it right. Don't screw around with the trivial things that can get in the way of losing like defense (Denver's big problem), good coaching (Memphis' downfall) or activating your best players off the injury list (Toronto's huge mistake). If you're going to lose anyway, lose big.

Tell Ricky Davis to take 19.2 shots per game. Let an undrafted rookie like Smush Parker run the point. Even better, tell your hot shot rookie, Dajuan Wagner, that he's scoring too much and make him worry about distributing the ball for the rest of the season. Tell Zydrunas Ilgauskas that it's all right for 7-foot-3 guys to take fade-away jumpers. Keep referring to Chris Mihm and DeSagana Diop as the future. And most important, devise an offense that completely paralyzes your one potential star, Darius Miles.

If that isn't enough to secure 25 percent of the pingpong balls in this year's LeBron Lottery, I'm not sure what is. But wait Cavs fans, Paxson has one or two tricks left up his sleeve. If you're asking yourself, what else can he do? Here's the answer. Why not rid your locker room of any semblance of a veteran presence or leadership for the home stretch?

Paxson's latest moves, ones Insider fully endorses by the way, should come to fruition by the end of the week.

As you already know, he's been working with Hill and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, for the past few weeks trying to find a way to get Hill off the roster and onto a contender. Hill desperately wants to play, and several veteran teams, including the Lakers, Sixers, Mavs and Magic, would love to get their hands on him.

What's the holdup? It's been pretty quiet since the trade deadline. Surely, the Cavs are looking for Hill to give them a little kickback as part of the transaction. There's nothing like paying a guy $2 million bucks to help another team win a championship. Paxson said recently that he's willing to work something out with Hill if he wants it. Hill wants it badly. He's in the last year of his contract and wants to impress a few people before he heads into free agency. Something will probably be worked out.

The Cavs are also trying to find away to get rid of Coles for good. This one is a little trickier. Coles has a player option on his contract for next season. The Cavs obviously don't want him around and they certainly don't want to pay his $2.6 million salary. So what do they do? The same thing they tried to do to J.R. Reid in 2000. According to Paxson's thinking, Coles can't exercise his option for next season if he's waived by the team before he has a chance to exercise it.

Of course, the NBA Players Association disagrees. When the Cavs pulled the stunt with Reid, he threatened to take the case to arbitration. The Cavs settled with Reid beforehand, paying Reid $800,000 of the $2.4 million left on his contract. Apparently, the Cavs are trying the same strategy with Coles. The Morning Journal is reporting that the two sides have been working on a buyout that could be finalized today.

Buying out Coles would be huge for the Cavs for a couple of reasons. Not only would it speed up the euthanasia (though admittedly it's not like Coles is going to turn the season around for them) but it would also allow them to clear more cap room for this summer.

Still, that's a dizzying array of moves for a 25 percent chance of winning the rights to a kid who hasn't even graduated from high school. Hasn't anyone told Paxson that the Clippers (1988) and Nets (1990) are the only teams with the league's worst record to get the first pick since the lottery began 18 years ago?

"It's luck," Paxson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "and if any franchise needs it, it is us."

Ain't that the truth.

Will Whitney land in Indiana?

Bimbo Coles and Tyrone Hill aren't the only players looking to go from a bad situation to a good one. Nuggets point guard Chris Whitney has been lobbying the Nuggets for a change of scenery ever since the team traded for point guard Shammond Williams on Thursday.

Not only is Whitney tired of losing, he doesn't want to spend the rest of the season on the bench while Williams auditions for a long-term gig in Denver. Whitney cleaned out his locker on Monday and is expected to be waived by the Nuggets today. Three teams have shown major interest in the Nuggets' third-leading scorer: the Magic, Pacers and Lakers. All three teams are in need of help at the point.

However, the L.A. Times is reporting that the Lakers have dropped out of the Whitney sweepstakes. Right now it looks like the Pacers are the top contenders for Whitney's services. "We actually heard from Indiana (on Monday), saying they're definitely interested and probably want to do something," Whitney told the Rocky Mountain News. "I don't know. I've got some options, and I have to sit back and weigh those."

Of all of Whitney's options, the Pacers make the most sense. Currently the team, in the throes of a four-game losing streak, is relying on second-year point guard Jamaal Tinsley.

While Tinsley ranks fifth in the league in assists per game, he's struggled mightily with his shot this season. Tinsley is shooting just 27 percent from behind the arc. Whitney is a seasoned veteran with a much better outside stroke. While Whitney wouldn't replace Tinsley in the starting lineup, there would be a lot of opportunities to play meaningful minutes on a championship contender.

By all accounts the talks have gone smoothly. That's important to the Nuggets' front office as free agency looms this summer. The Nuggets are trying hard to send out the message that they care about their players.

Denver is looking at possibly $18 million in cap room this summer. The Nuggets know that it won't be easy to lure top-flight free agents to a losing team this summer, but they don't think it's impossible. While many writers point to the 2000 Chicago Bulls and claim that the Nuggets will strike out this summer, there's one major difference.

The Bulls, rightly or wrongly, had a reputation of not being player friendly. They still have that reputation. It helps that Nuggets GM Kiki Vandeweghe was a former player. He understands that it really matters how you treat your employees.

"It's important that your players are happy," Vandeweghe told the Denver Post. "Chris has been a great guy to have on our team. If it works out that a playoff team wants him, I'll do the best to make that happen.. . It appears that Coach (Jeff) Bzdelik will play a lot of the young guys. (Whitney) may not play as much as he would want. Our reputation is to keep our players happy and give them what they want. That's why we did the James Posey and Mark Blount trades."

Start doing the waive

The Nuggets and Cavs aren't the only bad teams that should be doing the waive before Saturday's deadline. In a perfect world, other bad teams would catch on to this trick and waive their veterans with expiring contracts before things get out of hand and they screw up their chances of landing LeBron.

Eric Piatkowski, Clippers. The Clippers are virtually assured of returning to the lottery this summer. Piatkowski has the longest tenure of any Clipper on the team. So it seems only fitting that the Clippers start this summer's inevitable fire sale early and send Piatkowski packing. Call it a mercy killing if you will. Honestly, with all of the guys the Clippers have to re-sign this summer, what are the odds that the Polish Rifle is one of them? Even if they did want to keep him, can you imagine that Piatkowski, who's been in bondage with the club for the past nine years, wants to return? He'd look great on a team like the Lakers, Sixers or Nets. Run toward the light Eric. Run toward the light.

Sean Rooks, Clippers. While we're at it, why not send Rooks packing too? Teams like the Magic, Mavericks, Sixers and Wizards need big man help in the worst way. Rooks has no future in L.A. He is playing, but only because Michael Olowokandi is off on his annual February injury list vacation. Melvin Ely and Wang Zhizhi need the time and the Clippers, frankly, need to keep losing at this point. The only way to redeem this disappointing season is to land LeBron and give Elton Brand, Andre Miller and Lamar Odom a reason to stick around L.A.

Travis Best, Heat. Pat Riley is finally adding the word "lottery" to his vocabulary, but we have our suspicions that he still hasn't embraced it. Remember when Anthony Carter was the team's point guard of the future? Injuries and the play of Best and Eddie House have limited his development. It's time to see if Carter can actually run a team. The upside is, with his 1-9 record when he's in the starting lineup, the Heat can actually creep closer to LeBron at the same time. As for Best, don't you think the Pacers would love to have him back right now?

Voshon Lenard, Raptors. He's killing them. Can you imagine how bad the Raptors would've been this season had Lenard not shown up? He scored 30 points in a win, Feb. 2nd versus the Clippers. While he's suffering through a slow stretch right now, the Raptors can't afford to keep him around. They have virtually no shot at a playoff berth and every win just pushes them further and further away from giving this team what it really needs, a young superstar to complement Vince Carter. You know teams like the Sixers and Nets would kill for his outside shooting.

Peep Show

Milwaukee Bucks: Gary Payton is still being coy about his intentions concerning re-signing with the Bucks this summer. Payton insisted Monday that the Bucks don't have to go deep into the playoffs for him to consider signing with them this offseason. "I'm not going to say that," Payton told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It's just how my two months go here. It's a family thing right now. If we win the championship, it's going to be different. I'm not going to leave the team (where) I just won a championship, if we can come back and win a championship again. But it's a family thing. My kids have to be comfortable. My wife has to be comfortable. I'm not going to just come in here and make a decision for them. They are part of my life, too. So they have to make a decision, too. My kids have to come here and see if they like it. My wife is out here now. She's trying to adjust to it. I just have to wait until the summer to find out."

Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets: Gilbert Arenas is loving all the attention he's getting. Arenas, the second pick in the second round of the 2001 draft, is especially getting some love from the Nuggets. "That's why I get the whole summer to just laugh, just sit back and laugh," he told the Rocky Mountain News. "I never really had a big name coming in here. I knew I was one of the best players coming in. Being picked 31st didn't show it, but now I'm proving it."

Detroit Pistons: Is Ben Wallace on the verge of adding some offense to his all-NBA defense? Wallace had a 16-point game against the T-Wolves recently and his teammates are pushing him to shoot the ball more. "We need him taking shots because we don't play guys sagging off him and clogging the middle," Cliff Robinson told the Detroit Free Press. "He works on his shot every day in practice and says he wants to shoot more, but sometimes in games he'll pass up shots. He works on shooting every day in practice, and we need him making some of those shots to keep teams honest."

Washington Wizards: Charles Oakley is begging Doug Collins to bench the young kids and let the veterans do their job. "It ain't about keeping guys happy," Oakley told the Washington Post. "If they ain't happy this late in the season and don't understand what's going on, they really shouldn't be on the court. We've been patient all year with them. I've been patient with everything -- management, coaches, players -- but I want to play. I think I took my time eating my soup, the soup is gone. Now it's time for the main course. The appetizers, throw them out the window."

Chicago Bulls: Eddy Curry has finally made it into the starting lineup and Jerry Krause couldn't be happier. "I like it because it's our future," Krause told the Chicago Tribune. "And I think they've both earned it. Eddy over the last two weeks is starting to understand what he has to do to stay in games. Tyson got that idea awhile ago. They're getting it quick. They're sophomores in college right now."

New Orleans Hornets: Baron Davis worked out Monday for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last month. Davis is not expected to return to the lineup until the second week in March. "We're not going to rush it at all; the plan is still six weeks (from the time of the injury) before he returns," coach Paul Silas told the Times Picayune. "When he does come back, we want it to be long term."

Atlanta Hawks: The team received good news Monday when a CT scan on Nazr Mohammed's right foot turned up negative. Mohammed should be ready to play tonight. "I didn't want to miss 27 more to injury," Mohammed told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "It's one of those things, I was scared because I did feel a pop [Saturday], and it was exactly where I had my stress fracture. But I feel pretty good."

02-26-2003, 12:06 AM
Thanks for the article OP. Sounds like there might be a chance to pick up the physical rebounder that everyone has been clamoriing for yet this year. Certainly Tyrone Hill's name has been mentioned on the board before and if the Cavs release him we can sign him without having to give up anthing except for releasing one of our players as well. I'll miss you TAW.

02-26-2003, 12:13 AM
Oh yeah, I think we could find a home for a guy who averages 8.3 boards in 26 minutes. I wonder if his agent has already contacted the Mavs?

Thanks for the article.

02-26-2003, 06:56 PM
Tyrone Hill might look pretty good in a mavs uniform.

02-26-2003, 07:31 PM
Thanks for posting OP.