NBA Basketball News

Friday, September 28, 2007

Phoenix Suns forward Shawn Marion wants to be traded?

There is news circulating that Phoenix Suns forward Shawn Marion, the team's highest-paid player and a four-time All-Star, says he wants to be traded.

Marion said he decided to ask to leave because the team considered trading him over the summer and won't talk about a contract extension.

Labels: , ,

Knocks News - Balkman out at least four weeks

Bad news for the Knicks - Renaldo Balkman will be out at least four weeks and will probably miss the Knicks’ season opener because of a stress reaction and cartilage damage in his right ankle, the team announced yesterday. Balkman, a forward, will be wearing a walking boot when the team opens training camp Tuesday morning in Charleston, S.C.

Doctors will re-evaluate Balkman in four weeks, a timeline that practically guarantees he will miss all seven preseason games.

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 31, 2007

Too much cash? - The NBA's all-overpaid team

Here we are, heading into the final month of the NBA offseason, and there are still plenty of decent free agents milling about in the unemployment line. If guys like Earl Boykins are looking for someone to blame for their lack of contract opportunities, they should look to some of their brethren -- the cap-chewers, players so grotesquely overpaid that they sap the limited amount of cap space teams have. Or, if players don't want to think ill of their own, they can blame the silly general managers who proffered these fat contracts.

With this, we begin yet another edition of the Bryant "Big Country" Reeves Memorial Overpaid List, also known by the simple acronym, BBCRMOL. The annual list honors those NBA players of limited ability but bounteous salary.

We're going to tweak the list a bit. In the past, we've kept injured players out. But I asked myself, why? Even if a guy is legitimately hurt, what if he is taking up, say, $13 million in cap space and not contributing a dang thing? Isn't he still a payroll-killer?

You betcha. So, injured players will be eligible this year. Especially ones who are making eight figures.

Players who have been bought out are not be eligible, though. That spares the likes of Steve Francis and Adonal Foyle. And to be on the list, you need to be scheduled to make a good bit more for the upcoming year than the mid-level exception of $5.4 million. I put the minimum at $7 million.

With that, here is the list for 2007-08:

1. Kenyon Martin, Nuggets. Martin has to be tops on this list because he is making $13 million after playing just two games for Denver. It's easy now to blast the $86 million deal for Martin, whose persistent knee problems have prevented him from being anything close to an All-Star. Martin, remember, was recovering from knee surgery when the Nuggets signed him and there were whispers that the Nets knew he was damaged goods. But the move, at the time, was widely viewed as a coup for Denver and big-time blow to the Nets. Alas.

2. Stephon Marbury, Knicks. Marbury is only 30, but his skills are quickly deteriorating. Last year was a disaster, as Marbury's numbers dipped to their lowest since his rookie season --especially tough to swallow was his 41.5 percent shooting. He is being paid (more than $17 million) to be the leader of this bunch, but he's repeatedly shown that leadership just isn't his thing. Plus, he's been acting like a space cadet lately.

3. Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz. Speaking of space cadets, it's hard not to look back on Kirilenko's 2006-07 and not wonder, "What happened?" A lot of teams still like this guy, which is why the Jazz should move him before he repeats last year's career lows in minutes, points and rebounds. It's not so much that Kirilenko stunk, it's that he seemed so dang emotionally fragile, getting teary-eyed in the playoffs when discussing his reduced role. I have nothing against crying, but not in the first freaking round. Kirilenko's price: $13.7 million.

4. Theo Ratliff, Timberwolves. You can pick your injury with Ratliff -- ankle, knee, back. Whatever. He is 34, and he is done. Still, if the Celtics win a championship this year, they should send Ratliff a ring. He has one year left on his contract, at $12 million, and the cap relief that will bring to Minnesota was a key to the Kevin Garnett trade.

5. Antoine Walker, Heat. It's been a rough summer for 'Toine, robbed in his Chicago home at gunpoint, so I am inclined to go easy on him. But it's impossible to ignore just how bad he was last year. He shot 39.7 percent from the field, which put him 355th in the league. He was 43.8 percent from the free-throw line, which was 432nd. He shot 27.5 percent from the 3-point line, or 232nd. That is an alarmingly low success rate for an NBA player, especially one making $8.5 million.

6. Raef LaFrentz, Blazers. After he played just 17 games for the Celtics in '03-'04, LaFrentz wrote an open letter to Celtics fans, apologizing for his lack of productivity. That was nice of him. Of course, he did not offer to give back any of the millions he was making. He is in Portland now, averaging 3.7 points and earning just under $12 million.

7. Malik Rose, Knicks. Rose is a likable fellow, but the fact is, he is a 6-7 power forward who shot 39.8 percent. He was perfectly healthy, yet averaged just 3.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in 12.5 minutes. Such production will cost the Knicks $7 million this year.

8. Wally Szczerbiak, Seattle. Two bad ankles have made Szczerbiak a standstill perimeter shooter. He can still stroke it, but he has been healthy for just 104 games in the last four years. The Sonics got him to make the numbers in the Ray Allen trade work, and will get out of his contract after next year. In the meantime, they owe him $12 million.

9. Ben Wallace, Bulls. I'm a little torn because I know the Bulls brought in Wallace to solidify themselves in the middle and help them take the next step. Wallace's defense on Shaquille O'Neal in the first round of the playoffs in some ways justified the big contract. I knew some of Wallace's contributions would be intangible, but his production was very subpar (6.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks) and Wallace rarely looked like the guy the Bulls thought they were getting. At $15.5 million -- that's about 28 percent of the Bulls' salary-cap space -- it's impossible to keep Wallace off this list.

10. Kwame Brown, Lakers. When it comes to reasons the Lakers can't seem to get any better, Brown and his $9 million salary should top the list. There's something about this guy ... he just seems to be missing a fundamental understanding of what it means to play in the NBA. Brown missed half of last season with injuries and when he did play, he averaged just 8.4 points and 6.0 rebounds. The good news: He is in the final year of his contract and is valuable trade bait.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Steve Francis returns to Houston Rockets

Steve Francis is returning to where his professional basketball career began — the Houston Rockets.

Francis, a six-foot-three point guard, spent the first five years of his NBA career with Houston, where he garnered the nickname "Stevie Franchise," before being traded to Orlando in 2004 as part of a multi-player deal that brought Tracy McGrady to the Rockets.

Known equally for his quickness off the dribble and perceived selfishness on the court, Francis is coming off a tough season with the Knicks, which saw him struggle with injuries and average a career-low 11.3 points per game.

Over his eight year career, Francis has averaged 18.4 points and 6.1 assists per game.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

NBA Finals 2007

San Antonio's Bruce Bowen's matchup with LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers is billed as the top confrontation to watch in the upcoming NBA Finals - the Spurs are looking for their third title in five years.

Cleveland's LeBron James is averaging 25.8 points this postseason including 48 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Detroit. San Antonio's Bruce Bowen has been runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year the last three seasons.

This will be a real battle.

Labels: ,

Friday, June 01, 2007


LeBron James had possibly the best game of career by scoring a monster 48 points for the Cleveland Cavaliers to beat the Detroit Pistons 109-107 in a double-overtime thriller to take a 3-2 lead in their NBA play-off series.

James, who also led the Cavs with nine rebounds and seven assists, scored a layup with two seconds left on the clock in the second extra period to seal a thrilling win for the Cavs.

A slam dunk from James tied the game in regulation with around 10 seconds to go at 91-91, and in overtime he scored all of Cleveland's points. In fact, of the last 30 points that Cleveland scored, James got 29 of them.

"Somebody told me in the locker room that he scored 29 of our last 30 points and I could not believe it," said Cavs coach Mike Brown afterwards.

"Everybody keeps asking for more, and he keeps giving more. "I feel bad that my words don't do justice for what he did."

Chauncey Billups on the other hand, had a mixed night for the Pistons. While he missed what would have been the game-winning shot in the last second of regulation, he did nail two free throws with three seconds on the clock in the first overtime to tie the game up at 100-100 and send it into a second period. In the final play of the game, Billups then missed another shot that would have sent one of the most dramatic games the playoffs has ever seen into a third extra period.

Without James the Cavaliers would have been dead and buried. Only Zyndrunas Ilgauskas (16) and Daniel Gibson (11) got into double figures.

While the Pistons' bench scored a sum total of 13 points, all five of Detroit's starters got into double figures, led by Richard Hamilton's 26 points, Billups' 21 and Rasheed Wallace's 17.

The Pistons were perhaps hamstrung when Antonio McDyess was ejected from the court for a hard foul on Anderson Varejao, but could they have stopped James? Probably not.

Game six is in Cleveland on Saturday night.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Spurs Beat Suns

A town pumped on rage seemed to inspire a team fueled on passion. While Phoenix fumed, the Suns sizzled.

But ultimately, the San Antonio Spurs rode out the waves of emotions generated by the one-game suspensions of the Suns' Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw. They doggedly chased down the Suns late in the fourth quarter and hung on for an 88-85 victory Wednesday night at US Airways Center in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

The victory gives San Antonio a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 6 scheduled for Friday night in San Antonio.

"We probably didn't have enough juice to get over the hump," said Phoenix Coach Mike D'Antoni. "This was about trying to gut it out."

San Antonio was led by Manu Ginobili, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Tim Duncan, with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Shawn Marion had a team-high 24 points and 17 rebounds for Phoenix. Steve Nash had 19 points and 12 assists, but hit only 6 of 19 from the floor.

Stoudemire and Diaw were suspended for leaving the bench after San Antonio's Robert Horry slammed Nash into the scorer's table near the end of Game 4. Horry was given a two-game suspension.

The loss of Stoudemire and Diaw caused outrage in Phoenix.

"It feels strange," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said before the game. "It doesn't feel like a normal Game 5."

Anyone spending the day in Phoenix could feel it.

It was reflected in the headline on the editorial page of Wednesday's Arizona Republic: "NBA to Suns: Drop Dead."

It could be seen in the street vendors' T-shirts that read "Free Amare" and directed insults at Stu Jackson, the NBA official who handed down the ruling on Stoudemire and Diaw.

It could be heard in the pregame news conference when D'Antoni said of his team: "Instead of being upset, I'm kind of proud. They know what's right and wrong."

In a charged atmosphere in front of a sellout crowd, the Suns, after falling behind 9-4, caught fire, going on a 20-2 run, including 16 straight points.

"Everybody was so excited, so pumped up," Ginobili said. "There's so much passion. It was hard for us not to get fired up in that atmosphere."

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Suns beating Lakers in NBA playoffs

The Phoenix Suns repeatedly use one word when describing their breakneck style: energy.

With it, they are an NBA title contender. Without it, they can lose to anybody.

Energized and efficient most of their first-round series, the Suns can finish off the Los Angeles Lakers with a victory at home in Game 5 on Wednesday night.

''When you've got a team down 3-1,'' Suns forward Shawn Marion said, ''you don't want to give them no sign of life.''

Phoenix should know. The Suns trailed the Lakers 3-1 in a first-round series last year, then won three straight to advance. These Lakers aren't last year's Suns, though, and Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson has tried a bit of everything to make his team competitive.

A disgusted Jackson sent his players home Monday after a brief video session.

''As irritated as I've ever seen him,'' Kobe Bryant said after the Lakers practiced in California on Tuesday. ''He was really upset - frustrated. That was his way of saying, 'You'd better get your butts in the game.'''

A lack of energy stirred Jackson's ire.

''Hustle makes up for a lot,'' he said. ''They bounced us around, things like that. That's irritating for a coaching staff. You've got to get the first blow in this game.''

During the video review, Jackson said, he pointed out to his players how wide open Phoenix's 3-point shooters were.

''I did tell them they have the brain power of slugs or earthworms,'' he said. ''That was just in a moment of irritation.''

Jackson called the Suns ''whippets'' for the way they ran down Los Angeles in a 113-100 victory in Game 4, a contest that was nowhere near as competitive as the final score would indicate.

There were standout performances by Phoenix's ''big three.'' Steve Nash had 23 assists, one shy of the NBA playoff record; Amare Stoudemire 27 points and 21 rebounds, and Marion 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Coach Mike D'Antoni said he didn't know what a whippet was - it's a dog that resembles a small greyhound - but he knows a repeat performance would send the Suns into the Western Conference semifinals.

''They'll throw everything at us that they have, and Kobe won't go down easily,'' D'Antoni said. ''We'll have to come out with the same kind of energy and fire that we had on Sunday.''

Since trailing last year's playoff series 3-1, Phoenix is 9-2 against the Lakers, including the regular season.

''We've only played the Lakers 107 times the last few years,'' Nash said, exaggerating slightly. ''We know each other well. It just comes down to who plays their best. So far we've done that most of the time, and we'd be ready for that.''

The Suns' concerns center on their habit of going flat from time to time, a tendency that spells trouble for a team that depends on running, running and running some more.

The Lakers said the right things — their backs are against the wall, they're taking it game by game, etc. — but just enough slipped out to confirm the existence of doubt and remorse heading into Game 5 tonight in Phoenix.

Labels: , , ,