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OutletPass
04-17-2003, 12:12 PM
NBA Bizarro Awards:
Baker for LVP
On Wednesday I chimed in with my picks for the traditional season-ending awards in the NBA. Today, I'd like to recognize their polar opposites. That's right, it's time Insider's annual Bizzaro Awards. We'll start with the biggie, the Least Valuable Player Award.

LVP
Vin Baker, Celtics: Blame it on his weight, lack of confidence, heart condition or drinking problem. It doesn't matter. Baker's pathetic performance this season, after being hyped up as the possible answer to all that ailed the Celtics, gives new meaning to the word LVP. Even when he was healthy enough to play, he was being outplayed by career third-stringer Mark Blount.

Runner-up
Michael Olowokandi, Clippers: After a summer of being touted as the second-best center in the NBA behind Shaquille O'Neal, Olowokandi gave us nothing this year. He was the centerpiece for the league's most disappointing team. Between the complaining, selfishness and injuries, the Kandi-man became the poster child for everything wrong for the Clips. He's young, has a load of talent and doesn't have a clue how to win a game.

Rookie Flop of the Year
Jay Williams, Bulls: It's way too early to write off Williams or any other rookie for that matter. And Williams didn't have the worst season, statistically, for rookies. But he was the biggest disappointment. Most felt Williams would come in and make an immediate impact on whichever team drafted him. The Bulls gave him a shot, handing over the starting job to Williams in training camp over a more deserving Jamal Crawford. But Williams couldn't figure out how to adapt his game to the Bulls' offensive system. He spent more time this season complaining about the offense, playing time, Crawford, his teammates and his coach than he did actually leading on the floor. Our guess is he'll rebound, but year one was a nightmare.

Runner-up
Mike Dunleavy, Warriors: He started to pick his game up toward the end of the season, but everyone still asks me whether he would've been the No. 3 pick had his name been Ford and not Dunleavy. He doesn't seem to have the athleticism, quickness or physical strength to compete at this level. Will he ever? Doesn't sound like the No. 3 pick to me.

Least improved
Darius Miles, Cavs: Went from being the Cavs' future to irrelevant in less than a month. Miles was supposed to come in and light a fire under the new run-n-gun Cavs. Instead, he spent most of the year building a brick house to hide in. If Miles doesn't develop a jumper this summer, his future in the league will be jeopardy.

Runner-up
Andre Miller, Clippers: The Miles-for-Miller trade may go down in NBA history as the worst ever. It's very rare that a trade cripples both teams. Miller's numbers were way down across the board. He showed zero ability to lead or run an up-tempo-type offense. While most folks in the NBA still feel Miller will be a great NBA point guard, we understand his weaknesses much better. He needs to bolt to Utah before it's too late.

12th man
Raef LaFrentz, Mavs: Talk about your buyer's remorse. LaFrentz signed a huge $70 million contract only to post career lows in points, rebounds and blocks. When you get outplayed by Shawn Bradley (last year's winner of this award) you automatically get the award.

Runner-up
Joe Smith, T-Wolves: Averaged career lows in points (7.5 ppg) and rebounds (5 rpg). Pretty shabby for a former No. 1 pick who cost the Wolves six first-round picks in return.

Worst Coach of the Year
Lenny Wilkens, Raptors: It's tough to call the league's winningest coach the worst coach of the year, but remember this -- Wilkens also has more losses than anyone in history. He can blame the team's lackluster play on Vince Carter's injuries all he wants. But even when Carter played, the Raptors rarely played with any heart. The team has tuned him out, and Lenny rarely acted like he cared.

Runner-up
George Karl, Bucks: For the second straight year his team has underachieved. Yes, the Bucks made the playoffs, but the team is capable of so much more. From the look on his face, he can't wait to get out of there. Had he been offered the UNC job, he'd be gone.

Enron Executive of the Year
Jim Paxson, Cavs: Where do we begin? Paxson drafted a 6-foot-1 shooting guard, Dajuan Wagner, over guys like Caron Butler and Amare Stoudemire. Then he traded away his best player, Andre Miller, believing that Wagner could play the point. In return he got a kid, Darius Miles, who couldn't throw a rock in the ocean. The Cavs re-signed Ricky Davis, who played great but was such a cancer on and off the court that the Cavs already are trying to trade him. Then, after playing awful basketball all season, the Cavs went on a mini-winning streak the last two weeks. The result? They no longer have the best chance of landing LeBron James in this year's lottery. Oh, and did we mention the hideous new uniforms unveiled on Wednesday?

Runner-up
Michael Jordan and Wes Unseld, Wizards: Deciding to put the rebuilding on hold for a year and go after the playoffs looks like a mistake. Now the team will be stuck with a very unhappy Jerry Stackhouse-Christian Laettner combo for the next two seasons. Bryon Russell and Charles Oakley were both flops. Larry Hughes was a nice pick-up this summer, albeit a bit overpaid. The team mismanaged the cap, meaning the Wizards won't have all the money they thought they would this summer. And I still belive Juan Dixon was a questionable pick at No. 17. Jordan will try to blow up the Wizards again this summer. But will anyone take the likes of Stackhouse or Laettener off his hands?

All-NBA Buyer's Remorse Team
AKA "The Juwan Howard Award"
C Jerome James, Sonics: Nate McMillan decided he couldn't play about 10 minutes after giving him a $15 million contract.
F Raef LaFrentz, Dallas: $70 million for a 7-foot tall 3-point specialist.
F Devean George, Lakers: The Lakers passed on Keon Clark for this guy?
G Ricky Davis, Cavs: His six-year, $35 million contract is a steal without the attitude.
G Bonzi Wells, Blazers: Just waiting for Bonzi to spit on a fan.

All-NBA Jack Squat Team
AKA "The Kelvin Cato Lifetime Achievement Award"
C Kelvin Cato, Rockets: Hoarding jack squat in case of a famine.
F Kwame Brown Wizards: Michael Jordan hates you Kwame.
F Vin Baker, Celtics: Eligible next year for the Lifetime Bizarro Nonachievement Award.
F Danny Fortson, Warriors: Team paid him to stay away this year.
G Anthony Carter, Heat: Remember when he was Pat Riley's point guard of the future?

All-NBA HMO Team
AKA "The Marcus Camby Award"
C Marcus Camby, Nuggets: A lemon if there ever was one.
F Antonio McDyess, Knicks: Will he ever be the same?
F Tom Gugliotta, Suns: Only guy ever to miss a week with a paper cut.
F Grant Hill, Magic: When will Doc Rivers put him out of his misery?
G Vince Carter, Raptors: Jumper needs a new knee.


All-NBA Retire Already Team
Renamed this year to the "Patrick Ewing Award"
C David Robinson, Spurs: Ship set sail last year.
F Horace Grant, Magic: Doc Rivers already called Jack Kevorkian.
F Charles Oakley, Wizards: If only his body worked as well as his mouth.
G Terrell Brandon, T-Wolves: It's over.
G Michael Jordan , Wizards: Better not be planning a fourth coming.

All-Rookie Stinka Team
AKA "The Yinka Dare Award"
C Curtis Borchardt, Jazz: May never play an NBA game.
F Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Nuggets: Blew out the international phenom fire.
F Mike Dunleavy, Duke: Can he still go back to Duke?
G Fred Jones, Pacers: Just to get under David Morway's skin.
G Jay Williams, Bulls: Blame the triangle.

Cavs blow top shot at LeBron

In a season where almost everything that could've gone wrong did, the Cavs had one last trick up their sleeve on Wednesday night -- the perfect ending for a miserable season. Their 96-86 victory over the Raptors put them into a tie with Nuggets for the worst record in the league. The Warriors pulled the same stunt last season and it meant the difference between Jay Williams (who would've been much better in Golden State's up-tempo system) and Mike Dunleavy.

Now both the Cavs and Nuggets will have a 22.5 percent chance (or 225 pingpong balls) of winning the top pick. In case both teams fall out of the lottery, the league will flip a coin to decide which picks fourth and which picks fifth. The Cavs and Nuggets also will have a 20.3 percent chance at the second pick and a 17.63 percent chance at the third pick. The Cavs did their best to tank the game. Leading scorer Ricky Davis sat out with a "ankle sprain." Cavs players were defiant after the game.

"Winning," Milt Palacio told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I heard that some fans wanted us to lose [to guarantee the league's worst record], but I'm not going to tank any games. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm out here to play my best and to win games." The loss probably came as a relief to the Raptors, however. The draft is widely considered a three-horse race with LeBron James, Darko Milicic and Carmelo Anthony, and the Raptors locked up the third seed by losing to the Cavs. They'll own a 15.7 percent chance at LeBron, a 15.8 percent chance at the second pick and a 15.66 percent chance at the third pick in the draft.

The Heat fell to fourth place and hold a 12 percent chance of winning the lottery, a 12.68 percent chance of getting the second pick and 13.39 percent chance of getting the fourth pick. The Clippers are in fifth place with an 8.9 percent chance of winning. The Grizzlies are in sixth place with a 6.4 percent chance of hitting the jackpot. If they don't win the No. 1 overall pick, they must send their pick to the Pistons this year in fulfillment of the Otis Thorpe trade back in 1998.

The Bulls are in seventh place with a 4.4 percent chance. The Hawks are in eighth place with a 2.9 percent chance. If the Hawks do not get one of the top three picks (they have a 3.37 percent chance at No. 2 and a 4.02 percent chance at No. 3), they must send their pick to Bucks to complete the Glenn Robinson-for-Toni Kukoc trade. The Wizards and Knicks finished tied for the the ninth-best shot at LeBron. The NBA will flip a coin to determine who gets a 1.5 percent and who gets a 1.4 percent shot at James. The Warriors have the 11th-best shot at 0.7 percent. The Sonics have the 12th-best at 0.6 percent. And the Rockets round out the lottery group with a 0.5 percent chance. However, the Rockets must send this pick to the Grizzlies to fulfill the Steve Francis trade in 1999.

A few other draft situations were cleared up on Wednesday.

The Bucks will send their first-round pick (No. 15) to the Sonics as long as the Hawks' pick falls somewhere between No. 4 and No. 13. If the Hawks' pick is in the top three, the Bucks will send the Sonics two second-round picks.

The Sixers will send their first-round pick (No. 20) to the Celtics.
The Pacers will send their first-round pick (No. 21) to the Hawks.
The Kings will send their first-round pick this year (No. 27) to the Magic.

Joy in Big D, misery in Minnesota

Could you hear the sense of relief in the Mavs voices Thursday night when word came that the Blazers -- not the Lakers -- would be their first-round opponent. Whew!

"If you strive to get to the next level, you've got to beat the best," Mavs owner Mark Cuban told the Fort Worth Star Telegram. "You've got to beat Shaq [O'Neal] when he's at his best, you've got to beat Kobe [Bryant] when he's at his best." But you know what Cuban and the Mavs are really thinking. Thank the Lord for the dysfunctional Blazers.

Of course, the Mavs aren't going to look past the talented, but troubled inmates in Portland. "The Blazers can bother us with their length," Avery Johnson told the Dallas Morning News. "They are athletic, and they have big players who can go out on the perimeter and match up with us, especially with Dirk [Nowitzki]. They pose just as great a problem for us as the other teams."

Said coach Don Nelson: "With a healthy Scottie Pippen, they are a very good team. We're going to have our hands full."

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the mood was bittersweet. The good news is that the Wolves finally got home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The bad news is it doesn't matter. The Wolves are staring at a sixth straight first-round exit now that they must take on the Lakers in round one.

"Don't nobody really want to deal with Shaq at this time of year," Kevin Garnett told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "But I don't care. You've got to have a no-nonsense attitude and be able to say, 'Hey, if we play [them], we're going at them as hard as we'd go at anybody.' That's how it's got to go. I've never been afraid of anybody, I'm not going to be afraid, this team has never been afraid. We've just got to hoop, man."

As much as the Lakers felt they could beat up the Mavs, they couldn't hide their glee at drawing the Wolves in round one. "I'm thrilled," Shaquille O'Neal told the L.A. Times. "I'm very thrilled. ... Mr. [Kevin] Garnett has something to prove. And we have something to prove. Should be a fun series." "Well, they're very determined to reach the next step in the playoffs," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "I'm sure the Lakers and home-court advantage is not the thing they thought about. There's a lot of pressure on them. We're going to have to go in and expect that."

Kobe agreed. "I'm looking forward to the series," Bryant said. "It's a new environment for us. We've played the same teams in the past few playoff runs, so I'm excited. What we know is that it's going to be an emotional environment. The pressure will be on for them, and what we have to do is rely on our experience."

No favorites in the East

How bad is the Eastern Conference this season. Magic coach Doc Rivers rested his players the last three games knowing full well that he'd have to play the East's No. 1 seed if the Magic lost their last three.

He's not losing any sleep over the Pistons. "I'm not worried about that at all," Rivers told the Orlando Sentinel. "I really think that we enter the playoffs with more of a swagger now because our young players got more experience." Don't believe them? Listen to the Bucks, who many felt would try to tank Wednesday's game in order to get their hands on Detroit. Instead they face the Nets in round one. They don't sound too worried either.

"The momentum, the confidence and chemistry we're getting by winning eight out of nine is immensely more important than to try to figure out your catchup," Karl told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We get a situation now where Indiana is going to be in third, and I actually think the bracket is better. If we get fortunate enough to beat New Jersey, I think we get a better bracket, for our personality. We don't get to play the bruisers. New Orleans and Philadelphia are in the other bracket."

Eight seeds beating one seeds? Seven seeds beating two seeds? Get used to it. There are no favorites in the Eastern Conference consolation brackets. Just runner-ups to the West. Everyone's confident. "I like our chances (in the playoffs)," coach Isiah Thomas told the Indianapolis Star. "I like our team. I think the way (the Eastern Conference) finished, it was 50 (wins for first-place Detroit), 49 (for the second-place Nets) and 48 (for the Pacers)."

"That season is over with," Jason Kidd said. "We start 0-0. It's the first team to four. We are healthy, and we're confident. We understand we have a road ahead of us." It should be exciting regardless. Tracy McGrady against the league's best defense in Detroit. Jason Kidd vs. Gary Payton. The Celtics going 2 on 10 with the Pacers. And two veteran teams, the Sixers and Hornets, going head-to-head in round one.





Peep Show

Golden State Warriors: Is GM Garry St. Jean on the hot seat? San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami writes that it's time to bring in Chris Mullin. "Call Mullin the director of player personnel. Call him whatever you want. But make Mullin the Man and shove St. Jean to side issues, and suddenly this long messed-up front office immediately starts making sense."

Houston Rockets: Coach Rudy Tomjanovich thinks that reports of his demise in Houston are greatly exaggerated. "I don't have any indication I won't (return)," Tomjanovich told the Houston Chronicle. "I talked to Les (Alexander, the Rockets' owner) a couple days ago. It was a very, very friendly, caring call. We talked about what we will do in the summer, European scouting. We're going full throttle ahead."

Toronto Raptors: Lenny Wilkens could be fired as early as today. Rumors persist that Jeff Van Gundy is at the top of the Raptors list. "We've got a team meeting, then I'll sit down with Lenny (Wilkens) and we'll go from there," GM Glen Grunwald told the Toronto Star.

Miami Heat: Alonzo Mourning said he'll play again next season. ''A lot of it is going to be based on how I feel, but eventually I think the doctors will possibly give me the thumbs up and pretty much put it in my hands when I'm ready to step back out there,'' Mourning told the Miami Herald. "They're very optimistic. I am, as well. I'm very confident that I will be able to step back on the court again. It's only a matter of time.'' Will he re-sign with the Heat? Mourning said he will give the Heat the first opportunity to sign him.''My heart is in Miami,'' he said. "I have a huge amount of respect for [coach] Pat Riley and [owner] Micky Arison, and I appreciate everything they've done for me and I hope they appreciate everything I've done for them."

New York Knicks: Don Chaney said changes are coming for the Knicks. "We need to get more athletic," Chaney told the New York Times. "We're looking at everything. We need help in a lot of areas. We didn't make the playoffs, so we need help. We're not going to isolate on one position. We're going to try and get as much help as we can. I'm pretty confident that we're going to make the right moves to improve the team.''

Seattle SuperSonics: Seattle, on the other hand, plans to make minor moves. They'll likely have two first round picks and a little bit of money to use on a free agent. "We are looking forward to the offseason," coach Nate McMillan told the Tacoma Tribune. "We like the pieces we have in place. We want to see what we can add ... and make this a better club. We feel we are very close. When we look back on the season, we could have been there."

Atlanta Hawks: Jason Terry said he hopes the Hawks re-sign him this summer. "You know I want to come back," Terry told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "That's my first and foremost goal -- to try to get something worked out [here]. I spent four years here; I want to be a part of the rebuilding process, because it's like going to college and not finishing getting my degree. I set a goal, once I got to the league, to go to the playoffs. I want to get to the championship -- and I want to do that in Atlanta."

Washington Wizards: Kwame Brown can't figure out why he's the Wizards scapegoat. He admits that he swore at coach Doug Collins in March, but he thought it was water under the bridge. "But I went to Doug and apologized the very next day and said I made a mistake," Brown told the Washington Post. "Just because I play basketball doesn't mean I'm not human. I got frustrated, I said something disrespectful to him and I went like a man and apologized. I'm just a little upset that he mentioned it at the end of the year. I feel like I was a man about it."

Chicago Bulls: After pining for a trade the last two years, Jamal Crawford now feels at home in Chicago. 'I want to lead this team,'' Crawford told the Chicago Sun Times. ''It's nothing personal against anyone, but my teammates saw me scratch and claw for everything, and I think they respect that. My relationship with Coach has really improved, and there's nothing fake about it. He gave me a big hug after the game [Tuesday]. We've been through a lot of ups and downs, and now we're up, and things look bright.''


Denver Nuggets: The team wants Marcus Camby to hit the gym this summer. "There's no question about Marcus' ability and his impact on the game," coach Jeff Bzdelik told the Rocky Mountain News. "The question is his durability, and to get him to be able to stay on the floor. That will be a main focus this summer." Really? "He's committed to work extremely hard this summer," Kiki Vandeweghe said. "That's something that he really hadn't committed to do before, having a weight program and a workout regime. He's never needed to do it because he has so much talent." Really?? "I'm not a rookie," said Camby. "I don't have to report back (to the team). Basically, I'll do what I want to do." That sounds more like it.

TripleDipping
04-17-2003, 02:02 PM
I kinda agree with Kobe... playoffs would get mighty boring if you see the Lakers play Blazers every year and make them their biotches every year.

jayC
04-17-2003, 03:59 PM
People say that they cavs blew a chance for Lebron. When is the last time the team with the most ping pong balls won the lottery. Its been a while the bulls had the worst record, last year nope didn't get it.

FilthyFinMavs
04-18-2003, 12:53 AM
Didn't the Rockets have like 35=39 wins and still got the 1st pick of the draft? If anything the Cavs raised their chances.

Hitman
04-18-2003, 06:03 PM
<< Didn't the Rockets have like 35=39 wins and still got the 1st pick of the draft? If anything the Cavs raised their chances. >>



No, actually they lowered their chances by 2.5%