Friday 5 with KB: Melo, Knicks and extensions
Posted on: October 29, 2010 2:07 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2010 2:08 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
Each week we'll be bringing you five questions for our own Ken Berger of CBSSports.com about the inside happenings of the league. This week, Ken talks about the contraction issues , Denver's objectives in trade talks, and what he's looking forward to this season. You can email your questions to the Friday 5 With KB at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit us up on Twitter at @cbssportsnba .
1. Melo, always Melo. Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears reported from Carmelo's chapped lips what you've been saying for weeks, that it's time for a change. Every indication points to him being on his way out, yet the Nuggets go out Wednesday and blast the doors off Utah and raid the liquor cabinets. Is this thing going to hold together long enough for Ujiri to make it to Dec. 15 when free agents are eligible to be dealt... or beyond?
Ken Berger: Dec. 15 of course being when the pool of assets available to construct an acceptable Melo trade is enhanced when summer signees become trade-eligible. But clearly the clock is ticking for the Nuggets, as this is the first time Melo has gone on the record to formally express his desire to find a new home. He is trying to push the agenda by making it clear that he will not be in Denver beyond this season if the Nuggets fail to trade him. This is news to some, but not the Nuggets, who already understand the gravity of the situation despite their public statements about trying to persuade Melo to stay and sign the extension. Not gonna happen. Interestingly, the opening-night blowout -- and the prospect of an unexpectedly positive start -- are actually the worse thing that could happen to the Nuggets. If the team is playing well, there will be significant pressure on the front office not to trade Anthony. Privately, Ujiri & Co. understand that it would be easier to sell a trade to the fan base if the team were struggling. Meanwhile, conversations continue behind the scenes, with the Nets and Knicks continuing to be the most aggressive pursuers, and for good reason. Anthony won't sign an extension anywhere else, essentially. I think this saga continues to Heat up as we head toward Dec. 15.
2. The other big news this week was of course the report that the Knicks are under investigation for violation of pre-draft workout rules. I pointed out that you can't really go the usual fine-and-take-away picks route, because they have more money than God and already sent picks away. What's the word on how serious the league is taking these allegations?
KB: The league is taking the allegations very seriously and will investigate. There's no precedent I'm aware of for forfeiture of picks in a situation like this; previously, a hefty fine has been the norm. But as you correctly point out, fining the Knicks is sort of pointless. And if the allegations are found to be credible, it will be interesting to see how the league responds, considering there's also no precedence for repetitive violations over several years.
3. You reported Thursday that Jeff Green and Rodney Stuckey would not be getting extensions, while Al Horford's looking like a long shot. Obviously the Hawks want to keep Horford, but with the other two having manageable semi-expiring contracts and the new CBA looming, is there a chance those two are on the block to any degree?
KB: I would say no with respect to Horford. The Hawks value him, but GM Rick Sund has a long history of not doing extensions in these situations. This would be especially true given the uncertainty over the new CBA. Beyond an obvious max player like Kevin Durant, it's virtually impossible to predict what these players' market value will be under the new agreement. A revenue-challenged team like the Hawks can't afford to overpay without knowing what the rules will be going forward. As for the Pistons, I wouldn't rule anything out given the pending ownership change. But clearly Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are the more likely candidates to be traded.
4. Lot of talk this week from small market owners getting out ahead of the contraction story you reported on earlier. How much of this should we take as bluster, how much of it should we take as legitimate stand-taking?
KB: Two things: Low-revenue teams -- and please note the distinction between low-revenue and small-market -- are justifiably nervous about the contraction talk. But most team executives recognize that contraction is first and foremost a negotiating plea tossed in their air by David Stern like a giant trial balloon. I would submit that the owners coming forward to deny that their team would be a contraction candidate is a sign of how much stress those franchises are experiencing.
5. Four days into the season, you've seen the Heat twice, one loss, one win. Outside of the ridiculously obvious "It's still early and they're learning to play together" angle, what have you noticed on the floor and off from the most hyped of the most-hyped?
KB: The dynamic between LeBron and Wade will continue to be the biggest story line surrounding the Heat. As I wrote Wednesday night, I think they have it wrong when they say they have to do what they've always done. Putting two elite talents together -- players who attack in much the same way -- necessitates that each of them will have to adjust his game. I think it'll help the process once Mike Miller returns from injury. When he does, it'll make Erik Spoelstra's decision to bench Carlos Arroyo easier. LeBron and Wade will both be more effective without a true point guard on the floor, simply because neither player's strength is operating without the ball. After they failed their first test against the Celtics, test No. 2 comes Friday night. Without a true post-up center, how do the Heat defend Dwight Howard? Other than that problem -- which 25 other teams also have -- I like what I've seen so far defensively out of the Heat. LeBron and Wade are two of the league's elite defenders, and having them both on the floor has the potential to seriously disrupt even the most poised and precise offenses.