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Old 04-05-2006, 03:27 AM   #1
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Default ESPN Insider: 4/05/06 - NBA Tights/Panty-Hose Edition

League would amend uniform code to ban tights

By Darren Rovell and Marc Stein

After instituting a "business casual" dress code and cracking down on the length of uniform shorts, the NBA has identified its next fashion crusade.

League and team sources have told ESPN.com that the NBA, starting next season, intends to ban the tights sported at various points this season by several players, including three MVP candidates: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Although NBA officials are not publicly commenting on the issue, sources say that the league simply does not like the look of players wearing visible hose. It's believed that the league office, which already has regulations in place to curtail short lengths, can unilaterally outlaw tights by simply amending its uniform code before the 2006-07 season.

Sources say that the NBA informed its 30 teams at last month's competition committee meeting in Houston that tights would be banned immediately after All-Star Weekend. But the league wound up holding off on that ban, perhaps to avoid a new controversy after the initial furor sparked by the off-court dress code faded quickly and quietly.

Players who wish to wear tights are required to send the league a written request from a team doctor detailing a "medical need" for the leggings. That's because the league, according to sources, believes that some players are merely wearing them because they like the look.

Yet there are numerous players who insist that wearing full-length spandex under their uniform shorts keeps limbs warmer and looser than anything seen previously in the NBA. Dallas Mavericks swingman Jerry Stackhouse is widely seen as the pioneer of this practice, relying on a pair of runners' tights throughout last season's playoffs to combat a longstanding groin injury.

"I'm a 100-percent advocate," Stackhouse said.

That's why the 11-year veteran felt compelled to call NBA vice president Stu Jackson directly after learning of the forthcoming ban upon returning from the All-Star break. Stackhouse bristles at the notion that he's merely trying to be fashionable, pointing out that he has worn tights to every behind-closed-doors practice and shootaround until expectedly shedding them in Dallas' past three games.

"I've had a couple groin injuries and they help me get comfortable," Stackhouse said. "I wear thigh sleeves, too, and the tights also help keep them from sliding down my legs. They just hold everything together.

"When I talked to Stu, he was sympathetic. They don't want to be the ones causing guys to get hurt. But I don't know what the end result is going to be. I get the feeling they think it's some fashion statement or culture statement. It's really not. I'm just trying to take every preventative measure that I can."

Said Mavericks team physician T.O Souryal: "The tights provide compression. Compressed muscles fire efficiently, especially if injured. Players with muscle strains benefit from the improved circulation and support."

The sight of tights on an NBA player has inevitably been mocked by some -- Denver's Marcus Camby chastised peers for wearing "pantyhose" -- but became more commonplace this season after Bryant unveiled his leggings in November. James wore them briefly as well in January after injuring his knee, but the Cleveland star hasn't been seen in spandex for more than 25 games ... in part because he grew weary of answering so many questions about them. Bryant has since decided to play tights-free in the Los Angeles Lakers' past five games.

But Wade still wears them in Miami and so does New Jersey's Vince Carter. The team most devoted to the concept is Milwaukee, with five everyday tights-wearers after Joe Smith tried them first: Andrew Bogut, Toni Kukoc, Michael Redd and Maurice Williams in addition to Smith.

Bogut recently told the Associated Press: "I don't like how it looks, but I don't play basketball for looks."

Smith told the AP: "It's something to keep you warm. It keeps my knee from swelling up, keeps some tightness around it so it won't blow up on me when I'm out there. It's meant a lot to me."

More than five percent of the league's players have worn tights at some stage during the season, including five of its top 10 leading scorers. At least eight players that have worn tights this year -- including Bryant, James, Redd and Carter -- are Nike-sponsored athletes, and the shoe giant now sells a "pro basic" pair of tights for $35 and a "pro thermal" pair for $50.

Stackhouse, though, supplies his own tights and has been since he came up with the idea almost a year ago.

"If they ban 'em," Stackhouse said, "I'll find something else."

Tight wearers

The following NBA players have been spotted wearing tights this season:

Ray Allen, Seattle
Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee
Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
Vince Carter, New Jersey
Eddy Curry, New York
Samuel Dalembert, Philadelphia
Allen Iverson, Philadelphia
LeBron James, Cleveland
Toni Kukoc, Milwaukee
Rashad McCants, Minnesota
Michael Redd, Milwaukee
Joe Smith, Milwaukee
Jerry Stackhouse, Dallas
Nick Van Exel, San Antonio
Dwyane Wade, Miami
Gerald Wallace, Charlotte
Chris Webber, Philadelphia
Bonzi Wells, Sacramento
Jason Williams, Miami
Mo Williams, Milwaukee

Darren Rovell covers sports business for ESPN.com and Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.

Chat with Marc Stein

Welcome to The Show! On Monday, ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein will drop by to talk as the NBA regular season winds down.

Send your questions now and join Marc in The Show, Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET!

Stein Archive: Chats | Columns

SportsNation Marc Stein: Hello, all. Let's get to it.

Minnesota Chats: Are both of the Kevins going to be back next season? I'm hoping for only one Kevin . . . and it ain't McHale.

SportsNation Marc Stein: Good handle. Got you to the front of the queue.

SportsNation Marc Stein: As covered extensively in the Weekend Dime, it's my understanding that Garnett is just as reluctant to be dealt as the Wolves are reluctant to entertain the thought of moving him. So I fully expect Garnett to be back next season. As for McHale, it's also my understanding that the only way he leaves his post is if he chooses to walk away. Longtime Wolves-watchers tell me that owner Glen Taylor will not fire him. Relations between the Kevins have turned undeniably frosty in the past year, but it's still not Garnett's style to push for McHale's ouster. So I expect both Kevins in place when the new season begins. Sorry to disappoint.

Marco, New York, NY: Now that the Hughes is ready to play for the Cavaliers, can they realistically shake up the playoff picture if they get past the first round of the playoffs?

SportsNation Marc Stein: I just can't see it, even LeBron has pitched his game to a new level since I saw him in Dallas in mid-March. With the Suns and Mavs fading a bit and Billups sharing the spotlight with so many other good Pistons and with Wade's brilliance offset by the indifference of teammates around him, LBJ is making a legit MVP charge here in the stretch run. If the Cavs get to 50 wins, he's got a real shot at it. BUT ... having said all that I'd still be surprised to see the Cavs get out of the first round. The star and the coach will be on the big stage for the first time and it's a different game in the playoffs no matter what anybody says. If it's Washington or Indy, Cavs would have to go up another level just to get to Round 2.

Justin (Cleveland, OH): Stein, when was the last time you saw a game where two mega stars were going back and fourth like Lebron and Wade were on Saturday? Do you think these two could be the next Dominique vs. Jordan or Larry vs. Magic?

SportsNation Marc Stein: 'Nique and Jordan are the guys that came to mind. On Saturday night's NBA Fastbreak, we spent the first five minutes of the show just showing them go back and forth. It was the longest highlight from one game that I can remember.

Sam (LA): Did the Hall of Fame selection commitee get it right this time?

SportsNation Marc Stein: I really don't want to waste too much time talking about the Basketball Hall of Fame. History shows that it somehow works against you to have NBA success. We don't know who's voting. We don't know how these voting committees are assembled. We don't know anything about the process. Until there's an NBA Hall of Fame or a new voting process, we should just move on. 'Nique and Dumars weren't first-ballot Hall of Famers? Enough said.

Tyler (Sac, CA): Word is Mavs are in the hunt for a big. Who might they try to pick up?

SportsNation Marc Stein: Don't forget that the Mavs have already applied to the league for a hardship exception -- when they first lost Howard, Harris, Van Horn and Griffin -- and were denied. I don't expect them to be granted an exception now, either, which means they won't be able to sign anyone without waiving someone from the current roster.

Jon (Canada): How would the ROY race look if Paul wasn't around?

SportsNation Marc Stein: Really, really ugly. Remember that year Mike Miller won Rookie of the Year, averaging like 14 a game? It would be uglier than that. Villanueva and Felton have had their moments, but Paul is the only impact player in Year 1.

Derreck (Veneta, OR): Marc, with the Portland situation in total disarray, who is the front runner for Kiki's services this summer?

SportsNation Marc Stein: Portland is in such disarray that I struggle to imagine who would want that job. Kiki obviously has strong Blazer ties and he's probably going to be looking for a new job at season's end, but unless you have assurances from Paul Allen that he's not looking to sell and will spend like he used to, why go there? It's a question Nate McMillan must ask himself occasionally.

mark (san antonio, tx): How big of an impact will the suspensions every 2 technicals be for Rasheed be once he gets into the playoffs? Also do you think that he will cool down knowing that he will be suspended for the technicals?

SportsNation Marc Stein: You're forgetting that the slate gets wiped clean when the playoffs start and he'd need seven Ts to get a suspension in the post-season. If Sheed can stay under 20 Ts in an 82-game season, I'm betting he can stay under seven in the playoffs.

Saleem, Philly: Do you think Carmelo has closed the gap between him & Wade & LBJ? Melo has taken his game to superstar level this year and has as complete an offensive game as anyone.

SportsNation Marc Stein: Yes. The four best players from the '03 are all sick. This is something else we tackled on Saturday night's NBA Fastbreak. If you did the 2003 draft over again, who's your top five? I can make the case that Bosh should go second because he's a franchise 7-footer. But that moves Wade down to three and 'Melo down to four, which doesn't feel right. They're all so good. If you surveyed GMs, LeBron would still go No. 1. But after that, I'm sure Wade, 'Melo and Bosh would all get some votes at No. 2.

SportsNation Marc Stein: As for No. 5, I'd go with Chris Kaman over Josh Howard. Once again, tie goes to the 7-footer.

Marc Stein (Austin, TX): Hey we have the same name! Duncan is playing more aggressively as of late. Do you think this bodes well for the Spurs' championship hopes or do you think it is a result of poor competition?

SportsNation Marc Stein: Lucky you (if this isn't a hoax). I spent some time with the Spurs last week and Duncan's teammates say he's moving better. That's more important than the numbers, which have also picked up.

Brian TX: With all the raving about a great game between LeBron and Wade, has everyone forgotten about the game last year featuring TMac and Dirk goin at it? And then the follow up in the playoffs? Is this more east coast bias?

SportsNation Marc Stein: You're right. What's even worse . . . I was at that T-Mac/Dirk game. I must be getting old.

SportsNation Marc Stein: You're right about everything except for the East Coast bias part. For the umpteenth time, this is my 13th season covering the NBA . . . 12 of which I've lived in a Western Conference city.

Kirk Hinrich: So I don't go before Chris Kaman? What?

SportsNation Marc Stein: No you don't. TIE . . . GOES . . . TO . . . THE . . . 7-FOOTER.

Steve L.A.: What do you think if things remain the same with the playoff seedings, the lakers can beat the suns

SportsNation Marc Stein: I think Kobe is going to be very, very tired after that series. Lots of running. And Phoenix wins it in five.

Dan (DC): 2nd round, Phoenix vs. Denver -- who do you pick? I like Denver's odds -- Patterson & Evans can slow down Phoenix's offense enough to keep them in the game, and Marion can't defend Camby, Martin, & Melo all at the same time. I think Denver's size gives them a slight advantage, although it should be a great series. Your thoughts?

SportsNation Marc Stein: I am picking Phoenix to get to the West finals with or without Amare. But the Suns have shown some signs of fatigue lately. Denver will try to rough them up and the Nuggets' physicality gives them a shot. But the Nuggets are a running team, too, and no one runs better than the Suns.

HArvey (dallas, Tx): Don't you think that this Mavs team is better than the 2003 conference finals team that might've made the finals if dirk didnt go down in game 3 against San Antonio

SportsNation Marc Stein: I don't. I liked the '03 team better. But sadly this team doesn't look like it's going to be healthy enough in the playoffs to take their best shot at refuting the argument.

Mike (Milwaukee): Marc - if you an NBA GM right now, who would you rather have, Bogut or Darko?

SportsNation Marc Stein: Good one. Very good one. I want to say Darko, because you know I love the lefties, but I can't. Bogut has a lot of the same skills and has proven to be a better competitor. Until Darko gets consistent with his effort and intensity, there will still be questions. But I reserve the right to change this answer is Darko's recent flurries are not just a mirage. I can assure you lots of GMs are still intrigued by him.

Roy, St. Paul: Do you really think Joakim Noah is a lottery pick?

SportsNation Marc Stein: I think you need to ask Chad Ford this question. But I do have to thank Mr. Noah. Seeing UCLA crowned as national champions, after what happened to my Titans this season, would have been too much to take.

SportsNation Marc Stein: I also think I need to hit the road to get to Kings shootaround. Thanks for all the questions. We'll do it against next week, but we're moving to Monday for the next two weeks.
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Old 04-05-2006, 03:32 AM   #2
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Who's in and who's out of the 2006 NBA Draft?

By Chad Ford
ESPN Insider

College underclassmen and international players who don't turn 22 this year have until April 29 to declare themselves eligible for the NBA draft.

College underclassmen who previously have not declared for the draft and who have avoided hiring an agent can withdraw from the draft without penalty (provided that they pay for all of their expenses related to draft workouts) until June 18. International players have no restrictions on how many times they can declare and withdraw from the draft.

Last year, 61 college underclassmen, 12 high school seniors, and 35 international players declared for the 2005 draft. Fifty of those players withdrew their names before the deadline. This year high school seniors are ineligible for the draft.

ESPN.com will use our contacts throughout the league to provide daily updates of who's in, who's out and who's still sitting on the fence up until the April 29 deadline. Click on a player's name to read Chad Ford's projected draft ranking.

(Players who officially have declared for the 2006 NBA draft)
* = player has not hired an agent to preserve college eligibility

Will Blaylock, PG, Iowa State*
Guillermo Diaz, G, Miami
Brandon Heath, PG, San Diego State*
Thomas Gardner, SG, Missouri*
Trey Johnson, G, Jackson State*
Paul Millsap, PF, Louisiana Tech*
Richard Roby, SG, Colorado*
Rajon Rondo, PG, Kentucky
Marcus Slaughter, F, San Diego State
Curtis Stinson, PG/SG, Iowa State*

(Players who are leaning toward declaring for the draft, but officially haven't announced their intentions)

LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Texas
Ronnie Brewer, PG/SG, Arkansas
Bobby Brown, PG, Cal-State Fullerton
Alexander Johnson, PF, Florida State
Cartier Martin, SF, Kansas State

Adam Morrison, SF, Gonzaga
Leon Powe, PF, Cal
Al Thornton, PF, Florida State
Darius Washington, PG, Memphis
Marcus Williams, PG, UConn
Shawne Williams, SF, Memphis

(Players who are still deciding about declaring for the draft)

Josh Boone, PF/C, UConn
Corey Brewer, SG, Florida
Shannon Brown, SG, Michigan State
Mario Chalmers, PG, Kansas
Quincy Douby, SG, Rutgers
Glen Davis, PF, LSU
Jordan Farmar, PG, UCLA
Nick Fazekas, PF, Nevada
Rudy Gay, SF, UConn
Daniel Gibson, PG/SG, Texas
Aaron Gray, C, Pittsburgh
Jeff Green, SF, Georgetown
Malik Hairston, SG, Oregon
Roy Hibbert, C, Georgetown
Al Horford, PF, Florida
Joseph Jones, PF, Texas A&M
Kyle Lowry, PG, Villanova
Josh McRoberts, F, Duke
Joakim Noah, PF/C, Florida
Patrick O'Bryant, C, Bradley
Gabriel Pruitt, PG/SG, USC
Brandon Rush, SG/SF, Kansas
Cedric Simmons, PF, NC State
Ronald Steele, PG, Alabama
Tyrus Thomas, PF, LSU
Alando Tucker, SG/SF, Wisconsin
P.J. Tucker, F, Texas
Marcus Williams, F, Arizona
Julian Wright, F, Kansas

(International players under 22 years old who have declared or who are likely to declare)

Andrea Bargnani, F, Italy
Goran Dragic, PG, Slovenia
Lior Eliyahu, F, Israel
Rudy Fernandez, SG, Spain
Marko Lekic, PF, Serbia
Damir Markota, SF, Croatia
Brad Newley, SG, Australia
Olexsiy Pecherov, F, Ukraine
Kosta Perovic, PF/C, Serbia
Tiago Splitter, F/C, Brazil
Ali Traore, PF, France

OUT (Players who have officially announced that they will return to college next year)

Jermareo Davidson, PF/C, Alabama
C. J. Giles, C, Kansas
Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina
Jason Smith, PF/C, Colorado State

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.

Gators devour tourney, might sink teeth into lottery

By Chad Ford
ESPN Insider

A great performance in an NCAA title game can propel an average draft prospect to star status.

One month ago, Florida's trio of Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and Al Horford were all considered mid-first-round picks.

Now? All three look like lottery picks, if they declare.

Will they?

I'll try to answer that question as I break down -- one last time -- who's hot and who's not in the NCAA Tournament.


Joakim Noah, PF/C, Florida
He capped an amazing tournament with a near-perfect championship game -- a Carmelo Anthony-esque breakout that has propelled him into contention to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. Of the NBA scouts and executives I talked to the past few days, all said they'd consider Noah if they had the No. 1 pick.

Noah did a little of everything in the tournament -- scored both inside and out, blocked shots at a record pace, crashed the glass on both ends, handled the ball on the break, made passes only point guards are supposed to know how to make. In short, he was everywhere, a 7-foot Andrei Kirilenko.

Scouts worry about his lack of strength and relatively raw skills on the offensive end. But those concerns pale in comparison to his upside. Noah, like every other prospect, could improve with another year in school. But his draft stock is as high as it will ever be.

Noah may have started the season as an unknown, but it's tough to deny the consistency he's had the last month. Noah, not J.J. Redick or Adam Morrison, has been the best player in college basketball in the month of March. When you're a 7-footer, athletic and the best player in the nation, that usually adds up to being the No. 1 pick.

Noah has been fairly adamant that he's returning to school. But now that he's won a championship and is a virtual lock as a top-five pick, our guess is that he's in the NBA next year.

Al Horford, PF, Florida
Horford didn't fill up tournament box scores the way Noah did, but he was just as essential to the Gators' championship run. And unlike Noah, Horford has the body and skill set needed to play in the NBA right away. He was a beast as a shot-blocker and rebounder, and he amazed scouts with his ability to handle the ball under pressure in the open court.

Horford needs a lot more polish on the offensive end, but he has everything else you want in a power player -- the length, strength, motor, athleticism and basketball IQ that coaches crave in a power forward. And he sure can dunk.

His dad, former NBA player Tito Horford, says his son is returning to Florida for his junior season. Of Florida's Big Three, Horford is the one whose draft stock would likely benefit most from another year at Florida. Right now, he is projected to be a lottery pick, but another year of development on the offensive end at Florida could propel him into the top five in 2007.

Corey Brewer #2
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Corey Brewer's sitting pretty after a strong tourney run.

Corey Brewer, SG/SF, Florida
The comparisons to Detroit's Tayshaun Prince seem dead on. At 6-foot-8, Brewer is a long, athletic swingman who's an efficient scorer on the offensive end and a nightmare on the defensive end because of his length and athleticism.

As good as Noah was against UCLA, Brewer was the key early in the game, with his stifling defense on Arron Afflalo and his sweet shooting from long distance. He didn't make many shots in the second half, but his defense helped keep UCLA from coming back.

Scouts soured on Brewer a little in February after he struggled coming back from an injury. Specifically, scouts wondered what happened to the sweet jumper he showed his freshman year. It returned in March and April, with Brewer shooting 11-of-20 from 3-point range for the tourney, dissipating some of the concerns.

Brewer has excellent size and athleticism for his position in the pros. He needs to add more strength, but the success of Prince helps him in that department -- the Pistons' employment of Prince has provided a template for a player like Brewer.

Several weeks ago, Brewer said he wouldn't declare for the draft because he wasn't a lock for the lottery. But two things may sway him to go pro.

One, if Noah and Horford decide to declare, Brewer may decide to join them on the parade out of town. Two, given his play of late, the lottery looks more in reach than ever. If he can prove to scouts that his shooting woes were an aberration, Brewer will be a candidate for the late lottery, though some see him as more likely to go in the middle of the first round.

As with Noah and Horford, another year in school would certainly benefit Brewer's game -- but, coming off the NCAA title game, will his draft stock ever be higher?

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, SF, UCLA
Forget for a second the lackluster title game against Florida. For much of the game he was facing Horford, a terrible matchup for Mbah a Moute.

His play during the rest of the tournament has made him one of the hottest names in the tournament. Mbah a Moute is a long, athletic forward who does a little of everything. He crashes the glass, is a lock-down defender and has an emerging offensive game. His quickness and athleticism make him a great slasher and finisher and he has a great motor on both ends of the floor.

In the Chicago Tribune, one scout referred to him as "Ron Artest without the crazy." Given what we've seen in the tournament, that's a great comparison.

The Florida game made it clear that he's still learning the game. He's not a great shooter, which limits what he can do offensively if a big guy takes away the inside game. He is mistake-prone and streaky, but most scouts attribute that to his relative lack of experience.

Despite the dud against Florida, his stellar play against LSU in the Final Four combined with great games against Belmont, Alabama and Gonzaga have scouts talking about him as a potential first-round pick. While another year at UCLA would obviously benefit his game greatly, if he comes out, he could be a sleeper.

Jordan Farmar, PG, UCLA
Farmar was the only UCLA player to show up for the title game. He single-handedly kept them in the game in the first half before trailing off in the second. Farmar showed why scouts regard him as one of the best point guard prospects in the draft.

Although he's been criticized in the past for playing out of control, he played within himself against Florida and found a good balance between scoring and getting his teammates involved. He finished with only four assists, but if his teammates had been able to finish, he would've had more.

While Farmar's play throughout the tournament has been strong, all the NBA scouts Insider spoke with thought he needed to return for his junior season. His 3-point shooting has been a serious question mark. He was 1-of-8 from beyond the arc against Florida and shot just 34 percent from 3-point land this season. That, combined with a high turnover rate this season, have scouts convinced his game still needs work.

While Farmar would have an outside chance at the first round this year, a strong junior season for UCLA could plant him firmly in the mid-to-late first round.


Glen Davis, PF, LSU
"Big Baby" was having a magical run in the tournament, but he hit the wall against UCLA. The Bruins' combination of size, athleticism and conditioning were too much for him. Davis played hard the entire game, but it was clear that he couldn't keep up on either end of the floor.

Unfortunately for Davis, scouts took notice. The knock on Davis all season centered on his lack of height and conditioning. Davis had been able to hide those faults earlier in the tournament, but UCLA exposed them Saturday.

Davis was probably just a second-round pick before the game and apparently sealed that assessment with his semifinal performance. Another year at LSU, minus 20 to 30 pounds, is what he needs to get into the first round.

Arron Afflalo, SG, UCLA
Brewer absolutely dominated Afflalo in the first half. By the time Afflalo got it going in the second half, the game was out of reach. Afflalo doesn't have the athleticism or size to compete against long, athletic players like Brewer. He's likely to have similar problems in the pros. Combine that with a shaky performance against LSU and it's probably a given that Afflalo needs to rejoin Farmar in the UCLA backcourt next year.

Tyrus Thomas, PF, LSU
It's hard to knock Thomas after such a great tournament. But on Saturday, LSU coach John Brady sat Thomas for most of the second half and then criticized him after the Tigers' loss to UCLA.

Fact is, Thomas wasn't terrible against UCLA. In the first half he had five points, five rebounds and three blocks. That wasn't bad, considering he played just nine minutes because of foul trouble. When Thomas was ineffective in the first eight minutes of the second half, Brady benched him and never let him back into the game.

Afterward, Brady said Thomas was not in the right mind-set to play. This piggybacks on his constant criticism that Thomas was thinking about the NBA.

However, scouts question Brady's motives. Is the coach trying to protect his player from making a bad decision, or is he selfishly attempting to keep him at LSU because of his value to the team?

Given that Brady is currently threatening to look at other jobs if LSU doesn't give him a pay raise, it may be hard for him to convince Thomas that he should turn down millions of guaranteed dollars to return to LSU for another year.

Scouts agree with Brady in principle -- Thomas would benefit from another year in college. But he is a likely top-three pick in the draft. It's tough for anyone to turn that down.

Despite the low production against UCLA, scouts still have Thomas penciled in as a top-three pick, with a majority of scouts now saying they would take him No. 1 overall, if the draft were today.

Workouts and physicals will continue to shift the draft order, but if Thomas does decide to declare, his stock is still in great shape.

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.
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Old 04-05-2006, 09:56 AM   #3
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they should let the guys wear those tights....pick your battles NBA League Office....come on...*Sigh

ok, we've talked about the problem of evil, and the extent of the atonement's application, but my real question to you is, "Could Jesus dunk?"
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Old 04-05-2006, 09:57 PM   #4
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And now for some more on the ongoing NYK's trainwreck...

Pat explanation for Knicks' salary-cap disaster

By Chris Sheridan
ESPN Insider

If you go back more than a half-decade to the immediate aftermath of the Patrick Ewing trade, none other than Charles Barkley opined that the Knicks should be eternally confined to hell for dealing away a player who meant so much to the franchise.

Fast forward to the end of Year 1 of the Isiah Thomas/Larry Brown partnership, and the Knicks indeed find themselves in the eternal torment of salary-cap hell.

New York's payroll is projected to be upward of $125 million next season, and the Knicks have no possibility of getting underneath the salary cap for the rest of this decade.

Owner James Dolan has endorsed the string of trades that have brought more financial burden along with fewer victories, and there has been no sign whatsoever that the Knicks might stop perpetuating the formula of dealing off their expiring contracts for other high-salary players with multiple years left on their deals.

It all might have been different, however, if the Knicks had allowed Ewing to finish his career in a New York uniform. His $14 million salary would have come off the cap in the summer of 2001, and the Knicks could have dropped below the salary cap and rebuilt the standard way.

Instead, a litany of bad deals has flowed from the assets New York acquired in the Ewing trade, and that doesn't even include other deals that brought in cap killers Malik Rose (under contract for $23 million through 2008-09), Maurice Taylor (owed $9.7 million in 2006-07), Jalen Rose (owed $16.9 million next season), the $57 million extension given to Allan Houston that is now being paid by insurance or the sign-and-trade deal for Eddy Curry that will cost the Knicks their first-round pick this year and possibly next year (when the Chicago Bulls will have the right to swap picks with New York).

But beginning with the Ewing trade, the acquisition of bad contracts has snowballed. Here's a look back:

Sept. 20, 2000: Ewing is shipped to the Sonics in a four-team, 12-player trade for Luc Longley, Glen Rice, Lazaro Borrell, Travis Knight, Vladimir Stepania, two No. 1 picks and two No. 2 picks. At the time of the trade, Longley is owed nearly $21 million over three years and Rice is due roughly $8 million over each of the next two years. Ewing had asked for a trade after learning New York was shopping him, and former Garden president Dave Checketts acquiesced to his request.

Aug. 10, 2001: After he failed to fit in under coach Jeff Van Gundy, Rice is shipped off by then-general manager Scott Layden in a three-team deal with Dallas and Houston that brought Shandon Anderson ($54 million contract) and Howard Eisley ($28 million) to the Knicks. Anderson eventually took a $19 million buyout after feuding with new team president Isiah Thomas.

Jan. 5, 2004: In Thomas' first blockbuster deal, Eisley, Charlie Ward, Antonio McDyess, Maciej Lampe and two first-round picks are shipped to Phoenix for Stephon Marbury and Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway. At the time, Marbury is owed more than $85 million and Hardaway still has two full seasons left at almost $30 million.

Feb. 22, 2006: Hardaway's expiring contract is shipped along with Trevor Ariza to Orlando for Steve Francis, who is owed $49 million over the next three seasons.

Summer, 2006(?): Thomas will try to find a taker for Marbury, with the Minnesota Timberwolves perhaps the likeliest destination for two reasons: (1) The Wolves need to placate Kevin Garnett, who wants talent brought in, and (2) the Wolves also have a bevy of the type of bad contracts the Knicks specialize in acquiring. A package of Marko Jaric (signed through 2010-11), Mark Madsen (signed through '09-10) and Trenton Hassell (signed through '08-09) would work under the cap.

Chris Sheridan, a national NBA reporter for the past decade, covers the league for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Chris, click here

Chat with Chris Broussard

Welcome to The Show! On Wednesday, ESPN.com NBA Insider Chris Broussard will be joining us.

Chris Broussard grew up in the Midwest (Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Syracuse, Des Moines and Cleveland) dreaming of being the next great tailback at USC. Instead, he became the next underachieving point guard ("I should have averaged 20'') at Oberlin College. In 1990, he launched his sportswriting career at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Four years later, he started covering the NBA for the Akron Beacon Journal. He spent 2 seasons as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat writer before going to the New York Times to cover the Nets (two years), the Knicks (three) and then the NBA (one). He joined ESPN The Magazine in September 2004.

SportsNation Buzzmaster: Send in those NBA questions. Chris will be here shortly!

Ryan (Philly): Can anybody in the East keep the Pistons from reaching the finals this year?

SportsNation Chris Broussard: I think Miami, if things are clicking, you have to give them a punchers chance. I would pick Detroit to beat them, but you have to give them a chance. They have two super stars. They have role players. Somewhere in James Posey's body is a defensive stopper, we haven't seen that this year, but he can do that. But I'm also beginning to be a believer in the Nets. They're not going to be an easy out. I give them a chance at beating Miami. They'll be tough to corral for Detroit. The Pistons are a good defensive team, but I think they'll have a tough time stopping both Jefferson and Carter.

Alex (Alberta Canada): Are we ever going to see the Amare Stoudemire of old? Now he's getting surgery on the other knee. Is he the next Penny Hardaway?

SportsNation Chris Broussard: Man, I hope not. I love Amare. I've spent some time with him. He's a great person. I'm not just saying that. He wants to be a superstar in basketball. I hope everything works out for him. But there's no question that this could be career altering. Penny, Webber, Mashburn, Houston have never been the same after knee injuries. Now, his new surgery won't be a micro fracture. Some guys have come back from that. The doctors say his age and injury make it likely that he'll come back. I don't know how serious the new injury is, but I think there's reason to be optimistic.

Jon (Cleveland, OH): The Cavaliers most likely will win at least 50 games this year, and LeBron have scored at least 35 points in each of the past 7 games. Why does he get no mention whenever the MVP award is discussed?

SportsNation Chris Broussard: I'm glad you brought that up. I was thinking about that today. I think LeBron has to get serious consideration. He was my preseason pick. I have been saying Nash this season, and I still favor him slightly. But LeBron is coming on hard. He's making a hard case over Dirk, Kobe. He's a strong No. 2 candidate. You look at that roster without Larry Hughes and there's not much. That roster is nothing to shout about. Steve Nash, without Amare, that roster isn't terrific either, but they have more. You could argue LeBron is doing it with less than Nash is doing it. The Cavs are not as strong as the Suns. But if you look at LeBron's numbers, they are terrific. We've seen few people in history do what he's doing. Right now, I'm leaning to Nash, but I wouldn't be in an uproar if he did get it.

David (NYC): Give it to me straight...are my Nets for real? Can they go to the Finals as presently constituted?

SportsNation Chris Broussard: They are for real and by that I mean this is a team that's playing at their maximum potential. I do think they can beat Miami. I do think they could beat Detroit. I have to give them a shot. Their main problem is that they don't have any power inside. They've been able to hide that against Shaq, mainly because he's not the Shaq of old. With Detroit, they've got guys in Rasheed who can guard the Nets guys. Detroit will do a better job of defending Carter and Jefferson than Miami will.

SportsNation Chris Broussard: Remember, when Detroit went to the finals the first time and beat the Lakers, the Nets gave Detroit all they could handle. That was a different team, but this team is a better halfcourt team. Now, with Carter and Jefferson, they can score big time in the halfcourt. Defensively, they've been strong throughout this stretch.

Dave (hong kong): Has Yao turned the corner and become a superstar or he's just in a hot streak? Thanks.

SportsNation Chris Broussard: I definitely think he has turned the corner. He's obviously a superstar when you count personality, fame, and global impact. But on the court, I'm not quite ready to call him a superstar. I only say that because I want to see Yao do that for a whole season. If he starts off next year doing the same thing, then I think you're looking at a legitimate superstar. When you look at the fact that he's healthy for the first time this year. This was also the first summer he had an adequate break. You look at Shaq slowing down a little. Yeah, I think Yao will get there next season.

Jack (Chicago): You're the Bulls GM. What do you do this summer if you can't get Garnett from the Wolves? Trade the picks for a scoring 2 guard (who?) or who do you take in the draft with their two picks?

SportsNation Chris Broussard: If I'm the Bulls, obviously you can market your picks and see what trade value there is. But I don't think you'll be able to do that. Most likely, you'll keep those picks. If I'm the Bulls, I'm looking at Joakim Noah, if he comes out. He's committed. He brings energy. He has great skills. He has some moves down low, though he'll have to bulk up. I think he'll have a decent post game. That's a team built to play fast in Chicago. They're athletic. I think Noah would be strong for them in that system. HE could be a guy that would be strong in the future. Without studying the draft in depth, I would say Noah would be a good fit. A guard, I don't think that's their most pressing need. I like Ben Gordon, he could be a very good player in this league. Hinrich is more than solid. I think the Bulls' perimeter is OK. They really miss Eddie Curry.

Brion (Denver): How far do think the Nuggets can make it in the playoffs?

SportsNation Chris Broussard: Let's see they're in the 3-6 series. If they can get to the second round, they'll get Phoenix. I think they'll lose to them. But I'm not so sure they're gettnig out of the first round. But it looks like Memphis is going to get the homecourt advantage. In Memphis the Grizzlies are tough. I think Memphis has a great shot at winning the first round series.

Jose - Indiana: The Lakers look like they are going to make the playoffs. How far do you think they will go? Would their chances be better at the 7 or 8 spot?

SportsNation Chris Broussard: Well, their chances are definitely better in the 7 spot. If they get the 8 spot, there's no way they'll be able to beat San Antonio. I say that knowing that the Lakers have beat the Spurs this year and have struggled against the Suns. Who knows Kobe could get hot and make things happen. But I don't think they'll beat either team.

daniel, S.F. California: can you see the kings stealing two games in a potential playoff series with the San Antonio Spurs

SportsNation Chris Broussard: Yeah, if you look back at the Spurs recent history, they've had turns of 6-game series. Last year, Seattle pushed them to 6 games. I don't know if it's complacency or what but the Kings might push them to six games. If I had to predict the series, I'd say Spurs 4-1.

Jared (Livonia MI): Hey Chris so who gets the credit for the pistons '04 title now, Larry or the starting five?

SportsNation Chris Broussard: That's a good question. I don't want to take away from Larry Brown, as bad as the Knicks have been this season. He's been a very good coach. He does deserve credit for helping the Pistons to the title. But I think he got too much credit, by including myself. I and many others, thought Larry Brown was the main reason the Pistons won that title. He played a key role in that title and now people are starting to realize that the players beat the Lakers and it wasn't just all smoke and mirrors. That Lakers team too was overrated. By the time they got to the finals, Karl Malone barely played. Gary Payton was fussing. He was not playing well. So you basically had Kobe and Shaq and they were bickering as well. That team was all messed up. Not to take anything away from the Pistons.

Dave (Milwaukee): Chris, please answer a question about the Bucks. I've heard rumors Stotts' job may be in jeopardy. I'm hoping it's true because I'm tired of watching his perimeter-oriented offense. Any chance the Bucks could be players for a major head coach this summer if they bow out in the first round of the playoffs?

SportsNation Chris Broussard: I think Stotts has done a good job. They certainly are a perimeter oriented offense. But if you look at their inside presence, they don't have a choice. Don't let Magloire's all-star appearance throw you off. That was a product of a weak Eastern Conference. I think Stotts should be fine in terms of his job security. As far as major players for a big time coach, I don't know who's out there that's a big time coach that could come in and turn things around. I think Stotts is fine and will be back.

SportsNation Chris Broussard: Of course I never thought they would get rid of Terry Porter, so anything could happen.

Chad (Raleigh, NC): Where do you see the Bobcats in 2 seasons? When they get May and Okafor back they should have a solid core.

SportsNation Chris Broussard: Yeah, I like the Bobcats. I think what they've done under the circumstances is great. You have to give credit to the team. They've drafted well. Raymond Felton has been great. He's played better than Chris Paul this last part of the season. I like Sean May. Okafor has shown that when healthy he's a strong player. Let's not forget about Gerald Wallace, he may be a star in the making. His talent has never been questioned. He just didn't really know how to play the game, but he's still working. He's a great character guy. You have to think he's going to keep working and improving his game. I think Gerald Wallace is a big time player. The question for them is one of those four guys a go-to superstar. You have a couple of ways to build your team, build it around 1 or 2 superstars or just have an overall good team. The question is are those guys going to play that type of balanced team game or is one of those guys going to emerge as the real go-to guy. I don't know if either one of those guys is that player.

SportsNation Chris Broussard: Thanks for the time. I appreciate the questions. I look forward to doing this again.
What has the sheep to bargain with the wolf?

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