Post by oscars2008 on Jun 20, 2008 10:16:51 GMT -5
Last offseason, Kobe Bryant was unhappy. He wanted the Los Angeles Lakers to trade him and questioned the team's efforts to build a championship-caliber roster.
But now that the Lakers' season has ended with a runner-up finish in the NBA Finals, Bryant says he's satisfied with the team the Lakers have now and with their future prospects, according to Los Angeles-area media reports.
"I'm comfortable with what we have," he said Thursday after an exit interview with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and coach Phil Jackson. "Whatever Mitch decides to do, he decides to do. It's more of a relaxing summer for me because I know we have an opportunity to win. It's exciting.
"We know we got close and came up a little bit short. I'm excited about the opportunity to get back next year if we're fortunate enough and have a different result."
Last season, when the Lakers' season ended with a first-round playoff exit, Bryant was upset and publicly demanded a trade. He questioned whether the team had lived up to its promise to him when he re-signed that it would build a roster capable of winning an NBA title. And he was videotaped criticizing Kupchak and teammate Andrew Bynum.
Bryant was booed during the 2007-08 home opener and a trade seemed likely. But the Lakers, spurred by Bynum and then by midseason acquisition Pau Gasol, finished the season two wins shy of an NBA title, and Bryant won his first league MVP award.
On Thursday, Kobe indicated that he's confident that the Lakers, a relatively young roster, can improve.
"Not to say that the loss doesn't sting, because it does and it will, but I get back up pretty quickly and start thinking about revenge," he said. "I think what it does for us, is it teaches us how to win. The hunger was there, but Boston's experience wore us down a little bit.
"We have a team here that's very good," Bryant continued. "Boston played better, they played more physical than we were. But at the same time, you look around at our roster, they're young kids.
"We managed to do something that I don't think anybody expected us to do. It's a great learning opportunity for them at a young age to come back next year, knowing what to expect, knowing how to perform and what the goal is in mind. We'll be fine."
And Bryant -- who will join Team USA next week in Las Vegas for a minicamp -- said he won't be giving Kupchak any more roster advice.
"You're all trying to see if I'm going to do Mitch's job for him this summer," he said. "I'm not. I leave it up to him. He's done a great job of building this team."
The agent for Carmelo Anthony says the Denver Nuggets have told him they will not trade the two-time All-Star forward this summer.
"He's not going to be moved," Calvin Andrews said in a telephone interview Sunday. "It's not happening. We've been given assurances from the owner on down."
Three sources with knowledge of the situation said Saturday afternoon that Andrews, and possibly Anthony, had planned to meet with the Nuggets on Monday to discuss Anthony's future. Anthony, who does not want to be traded, is bothered by his name being mentioned in rumors and upset because the Nuggets have not come out publicly and denounced a possible trade, the sources said.
That issue was going to be addressed at Monday's meeting and if Anthony's party wasn't satisfied with the Nuggets' answers, they were set to ask for a trade, the sources said.
But Andrews said Sunday he will not meet with Nuggets management. He will be in Denver this week but only to attend Anthony's court case for driving under the influence of alcohol. He has a court date Tuesday on the charge.
"I'm going there to be supportive of Carmelo," Andrews said. "If he's charged, there will be a penalty and I'll talk with the Nuggets about that. If the trade situation comes up, we'll talk about it, but there is no meeting planned to discuss trades."
Speculation about a deal involving Anthony began in May when reports surfaced that New Jersey had had exploratory talks with Denver about a trade for Anthony. While the likelihood of a trade to the Nets was never high, executives around the league said Nuggets coach George Karl was indeed ready to move Anthony. They added that Denver's management group is divided over Anthony's place within the team, saying that while Karl is willing to trade him, general manager Mark Warkentien and club advisor Bret Bearup are against a deal.
Denver was recently contacted by Detroit, and the two clubs had several conversations about swapping Anthony for Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince. The Nuggets decided against it and instead proposed a deal involving Allen Iverson or a package built around Marcus Camby. But the Pistons are only interested in Anthony.
Anthony, 24, averaged 25.7 points and a career-high 7.4 rebounds last season but was unable to get the Nuggets out of the first round of the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Anthony struggled badly in this year's playoffs, averaging 22.5 points on 36.4 percent shooting in a sweep by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Post by oscars2008 on Jun 23, 2008 12:45:57 GMT -5
The Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors have held discussions about a possible trade involving Jermaine O'Neal and T.J. Ford, according to reports in the Indianapolis Star and the Toronto Star.
The Raptors -- eager to move an unhappy Ford and make Jose Calderon their starting point guard -- also would include center Rasho Nesterovic and possibly their first-round pick in Thursday's draft, both newspapers reported.
One sticking point might be O'Neal's health. He played in 42 games last season because of a left knee injury, though Pacers officials said recently that O'Neal is healthy, according to the Indianapolis Star.
O'Neal, a six-time All-Star, averaged 13.6 points and 6.7 rebounds a game last season, and is currently working out in Las Vegas.
A second issue might be the financial burden O'Neal poses. He is set to make $21 million this season and $23 million in 2009-10.
Multiple reports surfaced this past weekend about a possible trade that would have the Raptors sending Ford and their first-round pick (No. 17 overall) to the Phoenix Suns for forward Boris Diaw.
On the eve of the NBA draft, the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers finally agreed to a trade.
Sources told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher that the Pacers and the Raptors have agreed to a deal that, pending review of medical information, would send Jermaine O'Neal to Toronto in exchange for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic and the No. 17 pick in Thursday's NBA draft.
ESPN.com has also learned that the Raptors will get the 41st pick from the Pacers as part of the deal while the Pacers will receive Raptors forward Maceo Baston to complete the deal.
Ford's contract makes him a "base-year compensation" player, meaning the trade cannot be completed until July 9.
The agreement was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
O'Neal had surgery in April 2007 to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee. He came back to start this season but occasionally played through swelling and pain. Before the Pacers announced his most recent injury, O'Neal said the knee hadn't fully healed from the procedure.
O'Neal played in only 42 games last year and at one point missed 33 straight games before returning to the lineup on March 31. He had his worst season with the Pacers since 2000-01 as he averaged 13.6 ppg and 6.8 rpg after averaging 19.4 ppg and 9.6 rpg in 2006-07. Team officials recently told the Indianapolis Star that O'Neal, a six-time All-Star, and his knee are healthy.
He was the star of the Pacers' team in 2003-04 that won 61 games and reached the Eastern Conference finals. But he was also involved in the Pacers-Pistons brawl at the Palace at Auburn Hills in 2004 that caused a meltdown of the Pacers that season and put the team in a funk from which it hasn't recovered. Since that 61-win season, the Pacers have missed the playoffs the last two years and haven't won more than 44 games in a season.
Ford has a history of neck injuries that began his rookie year. He collided with Minnesota's Mark Madsen on a drive to the basket on Feb. 24, 2004 and had to be carted off the court on a stretcher after injuring his tailbone. Ford missed the entire 2004-05 season and his backup, Mo Williams, emerged as a possible candidate for the starting job. Ford played in 72 games for Milwaukee in 2005-06 season as the Bucks made the playoffs, but he was traded to Toronto after the season for the Bucks' Charlie Villanueva and cash.
In his first season with Toronto, Ford played in 75 games, averaging a career-high 14.0 ppg and 7.9 apg as the Raptors won the Atlantic Division for the first time in team history. Last season, Ford missed 13 games with a neck injury after Atlanta's Al Horford knocked him to the ground on a breakaway layup. Throughout the season, backup Jose Calderon proved more than adequate and took advantage of Ford's injury to land the role as the Raptors' favored starter.
Nesterovic averaged 7.8 ppg and 4.8 rpg last year, but went from a regular starter for Toronto in his first year to a backup last year.
O'Neal is set to make $21 million this season and $23 million in 2009-10. Ford has $25 million and three years left on his contract.
The Pacers will now hold the 11th and 17th picks in Thursday night's draft while the Raptors will not have any first-round selections.
What has been widely described as a shallow pool of NBA free agents got surprisingly deeper Monday night when Golden State Warriors guard Baron Davis joined Los Angeles Clippers forward Elton Brand in opting out of the final year on his contract.
The decision was especially unexpected in Davis' case, after strong indications as recently as last week that he would not be forfeiting next season's $17.8 million salary to become an unrestricted free agent.
But the move -- after Davis' camp made little progress in recent weeks in its attempts to secure a contract extension with the Warriors -- suddenly creates the very real possibility that the former UCLA star could wind up alongside Brand in a homecoming with the Clippers.
Brand told ESPN.com that opting out "definitely doesn't mean I'm leaving the Clippers" and that his "intention is to stay" and re-sign with L.A.
Davis' agent, Todd Ramasar, likewise told ESPN.com late Monday that his client "has always been adamant about remaining a Warrior."
But NBA front-office sources said early Tuesday that the Clippers would be showing immediate interest in trying to pair Davis with Brand, although that would almost certainly require L.A. to abandon any interest in re-signing swingman Corey Maggette -- who also opted out his contract Monday after averaging 22.1 points per game last season -- and force Brand to take a slight pay cut.
Davis, though, isn't the only point guard on the Clippers' wish list. Sources said Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy was in the New York area over the weekend and stayed over Monday to meet with Beno Udrih of the Sacramento Kings at the first allowable minute, with Udrih coming off a strong first season with the Kings and expected to cost roughly half what Davis would.
As of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning, NBA teams were permitted to commence negotiations and strike verbal agreements with free agents, with actual signings and trades on hold until a leaguewide moratorium is lifted July 9.
Brand and agent David Falk insisted that their decision to forfeit next season's $16.4 million salary and allow Brand to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career was designed to give the Clippers more payroll flexibility to strengthen the team around its face of the franchise.
Falk told ESPN.com that a visit to Boston for Game 2 of the NBA Finals to see the Celtics' triumvirate of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen was Brand's spark.
"He watched what happened when a few stars get together and agree to have a communal effort," Falk said. "He said, 'That's what I'd like to accomplish in my career.'"
Signing Davis away from the Warriors would certainly supply the Clippers with elite anchors in the backcourt as well as the front line, provided that Davis continues to stay healthy after playing all 82 games last season and if Brand continues to recover from an Achilles tear that limited him to just eight games in 2007-08.
Davis, 29, was the key figure on a Golden State team which halted a 12-season playoff drought in 2006-07 and produced a historic first-round upset of the 67-win Dallas Mavericks in the 2007 playoffs. He then averaged 21.8 points, 7.6 assists and 4.7 rebounds last season, but the Warriors just missed out on a second consecutive playoff berth despite a win total (48) exceeded by only three teams in the Eastern Conference.
Davis has repeatedly professed his desire to establish long-term roots in Oakland and responded angrily last Wednesday to suggestions that he wanted to be traded, telling ESPN.com: "I know what's in my heart and the people in the Bay Area know what's in my heart."
But it's believed that Davis is not only frustrated by his inability to reach a long-term agreement with the Warriors but is also somewhat unsettled by the fact that Golden State still must re-sign young cornerstones Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins and has coach Don Nelson under contract for only one more season.
"[Opting out] was a difficult decision to say the least," Ramasar said. "The past couple years, he's had a lot of success with the Warriors and I think they've had a lot of success with him.
"But he had gotten to the point that we were at a crossroads and it was something we had to address. ... With no extension or deal in place ... [opting out] was a bit unexpected but something that I advised Baron to do."
The Clippers appear to be the only realistic free-agent destination for Davis if his opt-out gamble doesn't lead to a new round of contract negotiations with the Warriors or if he can't convince Golden State to participate in a sign-and-trade. Memphis and Philadelphia are the only other teams with cap space to offer and neither is expected to pursue Davis.
The Warriors, meanwhile, weren't commenting Monday night, so it was not immediately known whether they plan to return to the negotiating table or if they're willing to let Davis go -- in spite of Golden State's success since pairing Davis with the free-wheeling Nelson -- and press ahead with their growing youth movement and the cap space that would be created by Davis' departure.
Golden State let a $9.9 million trade exception -- created by the 2007 draft-day deal that sent Jason Richardson to Charlotte -- expire Monday in part to ensure that it would retain the flexibility beneath the luxury-tax line to match any offers to restricted free agents Ellis and Biedrins. The Warriors have also stockpiled a promising group of youngsters behind those two 22-year-olds: Brandan Wright, Marco Belinelli and last week's first-round pick, Anthony Randolph from LSU.
Baron Davis shocked the Warriors by opting out of his contract on Monday. Imagine their surprise now.
NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the guard reached a verbal agreement with the Clippers on Tuesday night and will sign a new multiyear contract with Los Angeles after the leaguewide moratorium on signings and trades is lifted July 9.
Davis was in line to make $17.8 million in the last year of his deal with the Warriors, but after telling the team that he wanted to stay, opted out at the last minute.
Sources told ESPN.com that Davis, 29, will receive a five-year deal worth an estimated $65 million.
Forward Elton Brand also opted out of his contract with the Clippers on Monday, and speculation quickly began that the team would try to keep Brand and sign Davis. This scenario is only possible if the Clippers renounce the rights of Corey Maggette and Brand takes a slight pay cut.
Sources say the Clippers are expected to do just that and quickly reach a verbal agreement to bring back Brand.
Maggette opted out of his deal on Monday as well.
Davis averaged 21.8 points, 7.6 assists and 4.7 rebounds last season for a Warriors team that won 48 games but did not make the playoffs.
Senior writer Marc Stein covers the NBA for ESPN.com.
LAS VEGAS -- Sacramento Kings forward Ron Artest joined teammates Kevin Martin, Beno Udrih and Shareef Abdur-Rahim as celebrity spectators for the Kings' first game in the NBA Summer League on the campus of UNLV.
But Artest isn't feeling like a King.
In a series of e-mails he sent to ESPN.com late Saturday and early Sunday, Artest continued to lament his decision to pass on an opportunity to become a free agent July 1 by announcing that he is now representing himself without an agent and expressing hope that he will soon be traded to "a team out there that can be more committed than Sacramento to me."
That team is believed to be the Los Angeles Lakers. Almost from the minute they were routed by the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA Finals -- which Artest attended in Boston to root for friends Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom -- it has been strongly expected throughout the league that the Lakers would revisit their longstanding trade interest in Artest and eventually acquire the enigmatic forward sometime this summer to address the defense and toughness issues that the Celtics exposed.
But NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com on Sunday that the Lakers -- fond as they are of Artest and confident as they are that they can get the best out of him through Phil Jackson's coaching and Artest's respect for Bryant -- are reluctant to part with Odom in an Artest swap. That stance, if the Lakers hold firm, would almost certainly prompt Sacramento to look elsewhere for a trade partner.
The most consistent trade chatter involving Artest suggests that the Kings would want Odom in return for Artest and Kings forward Kenny Thomas.
Artest, for his part, is now openly pushing for a move, telling ESPN.com that he's suddenly feeling a chill from Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof in the same desert where, just two summers ago in 2006, Joe Maloof proclaimed him to be the new "face of our franchise."
Questioning his future with Sacramento in an all-over-the-map manner, as only he can, Artest needed just a few sentences to put Kings coach Reggie Theus on par with Jackson, second-guess the Kings' decision to fire Rick Adelman in May 2006, speak of a hypothetical move to his hometown New York Knicks and describe the Lakers' Jackson as an ideal coach.
"It's weird because [the] Maloofs [were] high on me [after] the initial trade," Artest wrote, referring to the January 2006 deal that brought him from the Indiana Pacers to the Kings in exchange for Peja Stojakovic. "But during this opt-out time in my career I have not heard from them. That should have been a sign to me that my future in [Sacramento] is N/A or undetermined.
"In a way I wish this [coming 2008-09 season] would have been [Theus'] first year and [Adelman] would have left this summer, because it could have showed how much [of] a winner I am. Guys like Rick Adelman and Rick Carlisle [brought] that out of me. Isiah [Thomas] was going to bring that out of me if he didn't get fired [by the Knicks]. A coach like Phil Jackson can bring that out me."
"Reggie more than qualifies," Artest continued. "[But] as much as I have to prove I can win like a Rasheed [Wallace] or [Kevin] Garnett in the first year [with their] respective [new] teams, I can make an argument [that] firing Rick Adelman was not the best thing to do. It put me in a position where I had to start over. The good thing is, I should be in my prime at 32 years old, so I have time and, with faith in God, I can move ahead with progress to reach success."
On the first day of free agency, after seeing Elton Brand and Baron Davis unexpectedly put themselves on the free-agent market when it was widely assumed that they wouldn't opt out, Artest told ESPN.com that he immediately regretted his decision not to opt out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted agent. The 28-year-old instead elected to play out the final year of his contract with the Kings at $7.4 million, as he had vowed for weeks. But he apparently did so believing that the Kings would consider signing him to a contract extension this summer, even though there had been little indication from Sacramento management that it was preparing to make such an offer.
Artest emerged from a July 1 meeting with Kings president Geoff Petrie saying that he "made the biggest mistake by staying in my contract" after it was made clear to him that his long-term future lay elsewhere.
"I don't see myself with [the] Kings beyond 2008-09," Artest said then.
He lately apologized publicly in an e-mail to ESPN.com and The Sacramento Bee "for being mistakenly frustrated with the Kings" and called it "a mistake that I made," but the conciliatory tone didn't last long.
"After being around the Kings and letting the missed opportunity soak in, it makes me hungry to play good basketball this year," Artest wrote Sunday. "My agent at the time [Mark Stevens] did not pay attention to the last minute of the opt-out hour and David Falk and all these other agents pulled a fast one. They were so smart to opt out [at] the last minute.
"I hope I can go with a team who can commit to me on whatever the terms may be. Even in Indiana when they were worried about extending me, I still produced for them. I do believe [there is] a team out there that can be more committed than Sacramento to me. Now that I'm my own agent, I can get a better feel on how teams really view me because I can represent myself.
"When my agent at the time asked me not to opt out so the Kings can get something in return, I thought it was the right thing to do. I didn't want to leave them out there after all they did for me. But [by] doing that, I'm left out in the cold and still being experimented on like a lab rat. Wherever I'm at next year I can't wait to work.
"When Rick Adelman got fired and Bonzi [Wells] didn't get re-signed, that messed up my legacy as a King because we were headed in the right direction. Now it's like I have to re-identify what type of team play I can bring to a team.
"I was blinded by friendship. Even Mama Maloof [Colleen Maloof, Joe and Gavin's mother] told me she wanted me to stay. I never knew that meant one more year. I thought it meant several. When Mama [Maloof] talks, you listen, and it's a must you consider and take heed to what she is saying.
"I didn't know I would be on this roller-coaster ride. Even my coaches convinced me things will be OK. I guess they didn't know, either, that would mean a couple more years. I feel like I let my family down by not being a smarter businessman."
The Kings would undoubtedly counter that it's the team, like Artest's previous employers in Chicago and Indiana, who have been subjected to the roller-coaster ride by the rugged forward's unpredictable nature. Artest revitalized the Kings in his first half-season in town, powering Sacramento into the 2006 playoffs and a feisty first-round loss to the San Antonio Spurs that was more competitive than most experts predicted. But legal troubles and friction with then-coach Eric Musselman in 2006-07 were followed by Musselman's dismissal after just one season on the bench, with Artest revealing late in the season that he strongly contemplated retirement to spend more time with his family.
Artest missed the first seven games last season to serve a league suspension after a no-contest plea to infliction of injury on his wife. He went on to miss 18 more games through injury, but Sacramento weathered its myriad dramas and health issues -- as well as the midseason trade of Mike Bibby to Atlanta -- to exceed most preseason forecasts and post a 38-44 record under Theus. Artest wound up having one his best statistical seasons -- averaging 20.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 57 games -- and has claimed often that the Kings would have been right there with the eight 50-win teams in the West if not for the injuries suffered by him, Bibby and Martin.
He has been actively working to address doubts about his reliability, which are most commonly associated with Artest's suspension for the remainder of the 2004-05 season for his role in the infamous Pistons-Pacers brawl in November 2004. Heavily involved with the NBA Players Association's humanitarian efforts in Africa and elsewhere abroad, Artest likewise signed on last season as a spokesman for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and has done volunteer television work in recent months for the Maloofs-owned Sacramento Monarchs of the WNBA.
Artest also unsuccessfully reached out to USA Basketball officials earlier this month in a bid to convince them to consider him as an 11th-hour candidate for this summer's China-bound Olympic team.
In spite of Artest's eccentricities and controversial past, most NBA executives agree that Artest will attract plenty of interest from contending teams between now and next February's trading deadline with his reputation as one of the league's top all-around players when focused ... and his very tradeable salary. Sacramento had serious Artest talks with the Denver Nuggets at the February trading deadline and Petrie's fellow GMs surely haven't forgotten the initial impact Artest had on the Kings when he arrived.
But even if the Lakers did budge from their current stance and consented to include Odom in a deal with the Kings, chances are nothing could happen before Friday at the earliest, as L.A. must first decide whether to match the Golden State Warriors' four-year, $17 million offer sheet to forward Ronny Turiaf. The Kings could also elect to take their time before consenting to move Artest in hopes of generating better trade offers as the summer progresses and other teams' free-agent options begin to dwindle.
Post by oscars2008 on Jul 15, 2008 22:01:49 GMT -5
The Los Angeles Clippers, exactly one week after finding out they had lost their face of the franchise, have rebounded with a significant trade acquisition.
The Clippers on Tuesday acquired Denver Nuggets center Marcus Camby as their replacement for Elton Brand.
The Clippers will only have to surrender a future second-round pick to acquire Camby, who is being jettisoned into the Clippers' salary-cap space vacated by Brand to generate payroll relief for the Nuggets.
"I love this acquisition for the current makeup of our team," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We are getting a consummate pro who is maybe the best team defender in the league and who has 60 playoff games under his belt."
Camby, 34, is coming off a productive season in which he averaged 9.1 points, 13.1 rebounds and 3.61 blocks for the Nuggets, who won 50 games to claim the final playoff spot in what is regarded as the most competitive conference race in league history.
"I think this is a very good addition for us, especially since we're getting a player who can really help us without having to give up a player in return," general manager Elgin Baylor said. "With him playing alongside [Chris] Kaman, I think we will have a pair of excellent interior defenders and that will make us a formidable team."
The Nuggets did not advance out of the first round with their Allen Iverson-Carmelo Anthony-Camby core and, according to sources, opted to shed the remaining two years on Camby's contract (worth nearly $15 million) to create the flexibility that could allow for more changes.
The Nuggets had the league's fourth-highest payroll last season and are required to pay $13,572,079 in luxury taxes for last season by July 23.
"Marcus has been an exceptional representative of the Nuggets both on the court and in the Denver community during his time here and we are greatly appreciative of all he has done," Mark Warkentien, the Nuggets' vice president of basketball operations, said in a statement.
Denver traded its first-round pick in last month's draft to the Charlotte Bobcats for a future, protected first-round selection. Warkentien said that deal, along with the trade exception, gives the Nuggets flexibility in the future.
The Minnesota Timberwolves' post-Kevin Garnett frontcourt continued to take shape Friday when they reached terms on a new contract with restricted free agent Ryan Gomes.
Gomes' agent, Bob Myers, told ESPN.com that the sides have agreed in principal on a "multiyear deal" that is expected to be formally signed next week.
Terms were not immediately available, but Gomes will soon join forward Craig Smith and guard Sebastian Telfair as players re-signed by the Wolves this month to join a new-look Minnesota core featuring Al Jefferson, Randy Foye, Rashad McCants, Corey Brewer and draft-night acquisitons Kevin Love and Mike Miller.
Assuming Love is ready to start alongside Jefferson right away -- and with the sharpshooting Miller poised to give the Wolves' much-needed dose of experience -- it would appear that Gomes is most likely to come off the bench with Smith, with McCants and Brewer in the mix as well.
Like Jefferson, Gomes arrived from Boston in July 2007 in the Garnett trade and -- as Jefferson did -- had the best season of his career statistically. In 82 games with the Wolves, Gomes averaged a career-best 12.6 points and 5.8 rebounds.
Earlier this week, before agreeing on a new deal, Gomes consented to join Brewer on a team promotional outing in Mankato, Minn., hometown of Wolves owner Glen Taylor.
"In a few years, this is going to be a special team," Gomes told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune earlier this week.
Post by oscars2008 on Jul 29, 2008 21:09:36 GMT -5
Ron Artest didn't opt out then doubted his decision. It looks like that might be a moot point.
Multiple media outlets reported on Tuesday that the Sacramento Kings had agreed to trade the forward to the Houston Rockets.
The Houston Chronicle reported that the Kings would receive Bobby Jackson, a No. 1 draft pick in 2009 and another player that the newspaper's source could not identify. The Associated Press, citing anonymous league sources, said that the other player would be rookie forward Donte Greene.
That means the deal can't be announced yet because Greene, acquired by the Rockets on draft night last month, signed a contract with Houston on July 14. A player can't be traded within 30 days of signing a contract, according to league rules.
KRIV television in Houston reported that the Kings will also receive cash.
"Yes, it has been tentatively agreed upon," said Artest's agent, Mark Stevens, according to KRIV. "Now it has to be confirmed by the league office and until that is done, it's not official."
Two weeks ago, Artest told ESPN.com that he was unhappy with himself for not opting out of his deal and becoming a free agent before the July 1 deadline. He hoped to be traded to "a team out there that can be more committed than Sacramento to me."
In Houston, Artest would team with Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming to form one of the toughest trios in the NBA. With Yao injured much of the season, the Rockets finished 55-27 last season, good for third in the Southwest Division. They lost in the first round to the Utah Jazz in six games.
When told of the deal, McGrady was ecstatic.
"I couldn't be more happy," McGrady said, according to KRIV. "Pleased at how the organization is trying to improve this team, get the help that Yao and myself really need to really get to where we want to be and that's one of the elite teams in this league.
"If this is true, this is definitely what I have been waiting on for 11 years in my career, for a team to really improve and put the talent [on the floor] that I feel that we can compete with the best."
Injuries held Artest to only 57 games last season, but he averaged 20.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game for the 38-44 Kings. Sacramento traded point guard Mike Bibby during the season last year and dealing Artest shows that the team is in full rebuilding mode under second-year coach Reggie Theus.
"He brings a mental and physical toughness" McGrady said, according to KRIV. "He brings a guy that competes at a high level on the basketball court. Defensively, he's tough. Offensively, he is a force to be reckoned with. He's probably one of the most difficult guys to guard on the perimeter because of his size, because of his strength."
The 28-year-old Artest is as well known for his volatile personality as his basketball skills. While playing for the Indiana Pacers, he was the central figure in the 2004-05 brawl with fans at The Palace of Auburn Hills during a road game against the Detroit Pistons.
He was suspended for 73 games, the NBA's harshest punishment for a fight. In December, two civil lawsuits against Artest that stemmed from the fight were dismissed.
Artest had surgery on his left thumb in April and was expected to take 8-to-10 weeks to recover. His summer has been just as turbulent as most of his NBA career.
After wavering for more than two months, Artest elected not to opt out of the final year of his contract for $7.4 million by July 1. But the forward immediately announced he regretted his decision, saying the Kings had misled him on their interest in a long-term contract extension. Artest also said he couldn't see himself playing in Sacramento beyond next season.
Artest apologized to the Kings a few days later but one week after that, Artest demanded a trade, claiming he had been blinded to his career well-being by his friendship with the Maloof family, which owns the Kings.
Joe Maloof responded sharply to Artest, warning the forward to muzzle himself. Two weeks later, the Kings apparently found a taker for Artest's defensive skills and high-maintenance personality.
The trade will reunite Artest with Rick Adelman, who coached Sacramento when Artest was acquired by the Kings in a trade with Indiana during the 2005-06 season.
Artest played 40 games for Adelman and averaged 16.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and a career-high 4.2 assists. He was also named to the NBA All-Defensive first team.
The Kings, meanwhile, would be thrilled to get their hands on Greene, a 6-foot-11 forward from Syracuse who impressed the club in pre-draft workouts. Greene was drafted by Memphis with the 28th overall pick and traded to Houston in a three-team deal on draft night.
Although Greene played just one college season, he proved to be a versatile scorer who could fit well into Theus' uptempo game plans.
Jackson, who split his time between New Orleans and Houston last season, averaged 7.7 points per game. This would be his second stint with the Kings where he had his most productive years of his career from 2000 to 2005.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Cleveland, Milwaukee and Oklahoma City have agreed in principle to a six-player trade that could add a much-needed second scorer to LeBron James' Cavaliers.
Mo Williams, the high-scoring point guard from Milwaukee, will go to Cleveland in the deal.
The 6-foot-1 Williams averaged 17.2 points and a team-high 6.3 assists for the Bucks last season.
"Acquiring Mo strengthens our nucleus of players for both the short and long term. He is entering his prime NBA years and will be part of the foundation of our future success," Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry said in a statement. "His ability to push the tempo, get inside the lane, shoot from the perimeter and distribute the ball will be very valuable for us."
Ferry said the team let James know of the deal even though he's on the other side of the world.
"We've communicated with most of the team," Ferry said. "All these guys are very excited. They respect Mo as a player, and they're looking forward to playing with him."
Cleveland will send shooting guard Damon Jones to Milwaukee and forward Joe Smith to Oklahoma City.
Milwaukee also will get point guard Luke Ridnour and forward Adrian Griffin from Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City, formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics, also gets Desmond Mason, the athletic small forward, from the Bucks.
Since joining the Cavaliers in 2003-04, James has not had a teammate who averaged as much as 17 points per game. But Williams has done so the past two seasons, averaging a career-high 17.3 points in his breakout season of 2006-07.
The Cavs have long sought a scorer to take pressure off James, who led the NBA last season with a 30.0 scoring average.
James' lack of help was particularly noticeable in Cleveland's Game 7 loss to Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals when he scored 45 of the Cavs' 92 points.
Larry Hughes was supposed to be James' sidekick, but couldn't fulfill the role and was sent to Chicago last year at the trade deadline in a 10-player deal.
Cleveland also has been searching for years for a point guard, and considered trades in the past for Mike Bibby and Jason Kidd, but never made a deal.
"I think this is a move to be able to get a talented, young, 25-year-old point guard that can be part of the future," Ferry said.
Williams' agent, Mark Bartelstein, said a scoring-minded point guard will make it easier on James and sharpshooter Daniel Gibson.
"I think there was so much pressure on LeBron to create so much of the offense in Cleveland," Bartelstein said. "I think somebody like Mo is going to really make the game easier for LeBron and create opportunities for other people."
Mason played in college at Oklahoma State and spent time with the Hornets franchise in Oklahoma City when it was relocated after Hurricane Katrina.
"We're excited," said Mason's agent, Roger Montgomery. "He's been to Oklahoma City, he's familiar with the people there, he's familiar with the Ford Center, he's played there, the fans loved him when he was there. His nickname is the Cowboy. It's really apropos to come back."
Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti sees the basketball benefits.
"We understand that it's a unique opportunity here specifically but we've got to do the best thing for our basketball team, and we feel like the best thing for our basketball team is to add some toughness and some intangibles defensively for us at that position," Presti said. "It just seemed like the right fit for us."
Ridnour, who averaged 6.4 points and four assists last season as the backup to Earl Watson in Seattle, had faced decreased playing time in Oklahoma City after the franchise drafted point guard Russell Westbrook with the fourth pick.
Bucks general manager John Hammond said he can envision Ridnour thriving in Milwaukee.
"His most productive days in the NBA were just a few short years ago when he had Ray Allen on one wing and Rashard Lewis on the other wing," Hammond said. "Here, you say you have Michael Redd on one wing and Richard Jefferson on another wing, you're putting Luke Ridnour in the best possible position to be successful again as he has been in the past."
Griffin averaged 1.9 points in minimal playing time after coming over from Chicago in a midseason trade.
The acquisition of Williams may spell the end of Delonte West's brief tenure in Cleveland. The Cavaliers have been embroiled in contract talks with West, a free agent who became their starting point guard after being traded from Seattle last February.
While Williams, 25, will definitely be Cleveland's starting point guard, a person close to the situation said the Cavaliers still will look to re-sign West, a 6-foot-4 combo guard who could start beside Williams in the backcourt. Milwaukee and Oklahoma City view the trade largely as a salary dump.
The Bucks, who traded former lottery pick Yi Jianlian to New Jersey for Jefferson earlier this summer, get rid of the five years, $43 million left on Williams' contract while taking on Jones and Griffin, both of whom are in the last year of their deals. Ridnour has just two years, $13 million remaining on his contract.
It's also the next step in an offseason facelift in Milwaukee by new general manager John Hammond. The Bucks fired coach Larry Krystkowiak after going 26-56 last season and replaced him with Scott Skiles. They also selected West Virginia forward Joe Alexander with the eighth pick in the draft.
Additionally, the Bucks signed guard Tyronn Lue and forward Malik Allen in the offseason in an effort to bolster what has been one of the league's worst defenses.
"Our challenge from Day One has been to shape our roster in a way that our fans will see a team that is competitive, that plays hard every night and has a chance to win," Hammond said. "We feel this trade continues to move us toward that goal for this season and beyond."
As for Oklahoma City's acquisitions, Smith and Mason also are in the final year of their deals.
Chris Broussard is a writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino is a candidate for the Sacramento Kings job, Yahoo! Sports reported.
Pitino, Yahoo! reported, has let Kings' ownership know he is interested in a return to the NBA. One league official said the Maloof family was "intrigued."
Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof told Yahoo! the Kings haven't spoken with Pitino.
"I think he's a great coach and he's done an unbelievable job at Louisville," Maloof told Yahoo! Sports. "But we haven't talked to him."
Pitino wasn't part of the Kings' coaching search because of his profile and price tag. Sacramento likely would not be able to afford him. But, the Maloofs could be reconsidering because of Pitino's interest. He makes more than $3 million a season at Louisville.
Pitino previously coached the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics in the NBA.
Pitino, who led the Cardinals to the Final Four, has had an interesting offseason. He's involved in an extortion case involving the estranged wife of a basketball staff member. Pitino filed charges against the woman, Karen Sypher, who federal authorities arrested and charged on April 24.
Pitino's son, Richard, a Louisville assistant, took a job on Billy Donovan's staff at Florida.
ESPN is saying he told Louisville he is staying. I have no idea why he would ever leave unless it was a high profile NBA gig like the Lakers, Spurs or Knicks or a place with a proven star like the Heat or Cavs. The Kings make no sense...that franchise is a mess.
Justin R. from the PTB Podcast...check it out! www.placetobe.podbean.com
Granted the Celtics are doing better than I thought they would, but for the second year in a row they can barely get out of a series in less than 6 games. Though the Bulls series was the best series i have seen in a long time. Here's hoping that tomorrow in Boston we can get the job done.