Posted on: February 29, 2012 3:16 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 3:16 pm

Report: Suns want to re-sign Nash, not trade him

Nash hasn't and won't request a trade from the Suns. (Getty Images)
Posted by Royce Young

By every account, whether it's NBA insiders, the Suns or Steve Nash himself, the ageless Phoenix point guard isn't getting traded.

Question is, why? He's 38 years old, the Suns aren't going anywhere in the near future and you'd think Nash would want a shot at chasing a title somewhere. Here's a surprising reason via -- because the Suns would actually like to re-sign Nash.
Because Suns owner Robert Sarver, according to sources close to the situation, continues to hold out hope that he can convince Nash to re-sign this summer for at least two seasons.


Sarver, though, is apparently determined to try to convince Nash to retire in the desert. The thinking there, sources say, is that the Suns believe they'd have a better core going forward with a re-upped Nash, center Marcin Gortat, cap space and a top pick in the well-regarded 2012 draft than with the sort of assets they could bring back now in a deadline deal for a 38-year-old point guard who, even as he continues to play at an All-Star level, is just a few months away from free agency.
The second question is, why would Nash re-sign with the Suns though? Loyalty is one thing, but unless something drastic changes within that organization, the Suns aren't going to be resurfacing as a Western contender soon. Nash would be an unrestricted free agent this summer and with teams like the Knicks and probably Mavericks ready to come calling, two teams with contending capabilities, it would make sense that Nash leave Phoenix.

But just because the Suns would like to re-sign Nash doesn't mean it won't eventually make sense to deal him. His value is certainly as high as it'll ever be right now and there would likely be a few teams ready to step up. One being the Portland Trail Blazers who according to the report "has been interested in Nash for a while."

The Suns reportedly aren't getting big-time offers for Nash though, presumably because of his advanced age. Still, you can't deny his production which has been at an incredibly efficient level. Nash is too much of a class act to demand a trade, but you know he doesn't want to spend the twilight of his career plodding along on a mediocre team. He wants to chase a title. It might just a matter of who that will be with.
Category: NBA
Posted on: February 29, 2012 3:01 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 9:56 pm

Kobe clears tests, will play Wednesday

By Matt Moore

UPDATE: Kobe will play Wednesday, wearing a mask.


Kobe Bryant may not miss any action after all. (Getty)
You knew Kobe Bryant would do everything in his power to make it back to the floor for Wednesday night's game against the Timberwolves. And early reports indicate that's exactly what's happening. As part of the NBA's new concussion policy, Bryant had to clear a series of neurological tests as well as a series of performance drills without suffering any lingering symptoms of the concussion he suffered from Dwyane Wade's foul during the All-Star Game last sunday. 
Kobe has passed all of the tests mandated thus far (neurological, bicycle, Axon and treadmill).
via Twitter / @LakersReporter: Kobe has passed all of the ....
Bottom line is that if Kobe passes the 2-on-2 hoops test now, & another w/neurologist pregame, he may well be able to play.
via Twitter / @LakersReporter: Bottom line is that if Kob ....

 The Lakers also indicated that Bryant has been symptom-free since yesterday afternoon when the specialist he saw advised an additonal MRI and a visit with the neurologist. Those are all positive signs. While Bryant will try and push through, the team and league will be very cautious with their approach considering the nature of the injury and the fact that his symptoms lasted more than 24 hours. But, you know Kobe...
If Bryant is cleared by the neurologist before the game, he WILL start and play against the Timberwolves.
via Twitter / @LakersReporter: If Bryant is cleared by th ....

We'll keep you updated on Bryant's status before gametime.
Posted on: February 29, 2012 2:15 pm

Jazz open to trading Harris and Miles?

Harris is getting shopped? (Getty Images)
Posted by Royce Young

For a moment there, the Utah Jazz looked to be the surprise story of the season. A hot start had them sitting in the top half of the West, which was stunning considering they essentially began a rebuild after trading Deron Williams.

They've come back to Earth some leveling at 15-18 after losing eight of their last 10, which means they could be looking to shake things up. Via the Salt Lake Tribune:
The Jazz remain open to moving starting point guard Devin Harris, league sources said, and reserve small forward C.J. Miles could be made available in the right situation. But Utah continues to take a long-term approach in building its team after the Deron Williams trade last February, and the Jazz won't make a move simply to pull the trigger.
Not exactly a new story as there was word of this in late January, but with the trade deadline approaching, it's certainly more meaningful. Behind Harris? Earl Watson. Behind him? Jamaal Tinsley. So it's not like the Jazz have a young point guard they've been grooming and want to work in.

But Harris hasn't been at all productive this season, averaging just 9.3 points and 4.6 assists per game. This is a one-time All-Star with the Nets, a guy that averaged 21.3 ppg in a season. And here he is as someone the Jazz would be open to move so they could give Earl Watson more playing time.

Still, you know who would probably love Harris? The Lakers. They desperately need point guard help and if they could offer up a first round pick or a young asset, the Jazz might jump at it. But Utah knows the Lakers are needy, which drives the price up.

As for Miles, he's certainly a player with a good amount of trade value. A big, strong defensive shooting guard that can hit from the outside. Playoff teams in search of help at 2-guard (Bulls, Clippers, Pacers) would likely be interested. But the Jazz are likely in the market for a solid draft pick or young asset in return.
Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:26 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 12:30 pm

Melo must change to be great

Will Carmelo Anthony's legacy be more than just that of a pure shooter? (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore

Gregg Doyel of writes Wednesday of how Carmelo Anthony has a chance to be special and thus far... simply hasn't. Doyel specifically outlines a fact debated and wrought over constantly when it comes to Anthony, the fact that he is primarily a scorer. In these here blog circles, it's a bit more narrow than that: Melo can best be described as a volume shooter. Scorer's can be efficient, sharp-shooting, bucket-filling maniacs who don't excel at much of anything else, but what they do, they do exceptionally well. Anthony, on the other hand, is going to shoot roughly the same amount from game to game. There are nights when he's going to be brutally efficient. There are nights when he's going to be brutally inefficient. The approach never changes. And that may be the biggest problem of all with Anthony's game.

Doyel talks about the threat of winding up like a pre-Boston Kevin Garnett, what with the high praise and no substantive playoff success outside of a single season. Two thoughts there:

  • The immediate response is to bring up Anthony's Nuggets' 2009 run to the Western Conference Finals. There are a number of things to note in that regard, however. First, the Nuggets' second-round win over the Mavericks was about as tough as a series that short can be, with a crucial non-call on an intentional foul late providing quite a bit of drama in the proceedings. Second, the West that year was paper thin. It was essentially the Lakers and that's it. This isn't to take away from that Denver team, but it needs to be noted. And third, that Denver team was the same as it was for years with Melo; their success was as much due to Anthony's brilliance as it was to George Karl's ability to coach around Anthony's talents. The two things worked side-by-side, they just didn't necessarily work together. It was like "The Nuggets do this, this, and this well, and also Carmelo Anthony is very good." 
  • Doyel mentions that Garnett did everything else in his time in Minnesota, "scored, rebounded, assisted, defended, hustled, led."
And it's that last part that seems particularly relevant as the Knicks continue to try and adjust to life with his nearly entirely new lineup from the start of the season (and without a major trade!). Jeremy Lin, J.R. Smith, Melo, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler. How does Anthony fit? We've talked about some x's and o's, but there are some other questions invovled.

For starters, most volume shooters are that because they are not good at any other particular area. Is Anthony that kind of player? Well, no. He's averaged 6.3 rebounds for his career, with a high of 7.3, very good for a small forward. Anthony can have games where he controls the defensive glass. What about passing? The 2009 Western Conference Finals run from Anthony's Nuggets featured him dishing 4.1 assists per game. He had a 19.8 percent assist rate that season (percentage of team assists), higher than any regular season for Anthony before... this one? We'll come back to that in a minute. And what about defense? There are metrics I could run at you, but let's just say this. 

The Nuggets' most successful season with Anthony, that 2009 run, came when Anthony became a lock down defender for about 30 games. He was simply phenomenal. That may be the most frustrating thing about Anthony, who is widely regarded as a turnstyle defensively. He can be an excellent defender. He can lock up guys, destroy their spacing, ruin their day. He just... doesn't. 

The key for Anthony may be honestly to get as far away from one of his biggest mentors' approaches as possible. Anthony and Kobe Bryant share a kinship in their approach to the game. But Bryant's success in essentially doing things his way 100 percent of the time is nearly impossible to duplicate. Maybe if Anthony had Phil Jackson, it would be easier. But he doesn't. And if he wants to be successful right now, moving away from an intractable approach and towards a dominance in versatility is the best thing for him. He needs to do everything.

There are signs Melo is trying. He worked off ball for much of the first-half against the Heat, making cuts to get to the rim. It was only after the Heat had buried the Knicks (and Lin) with their suffocating defense that Anthony returned to blistering the offensive flow with Isolation sets shallow in the shot clock. His assist rate, as previously mentioned, is the highest of his career at 22.7 percent, over four per game. He's clearly trying to get his teammates involved. He's eighth among small forwards playing 30 minutes or more this season in assist rate. With the kind of talent around him, is that enough? How much can we reasonably expect?

The answer's not in the empirical, it's in the perceptible. The shift needs to continue to be Anthony working to get out of his comfort zone. Bryant has remarked several times about hoping Anthony doesn't shift his approach due to the criticism. Thing is, that criticism isn't (always) unwarranted or about devaluing his elite gifts as a scorer. It's about fit, and flow, and making the Knicks the best they can be. Michael Jordan got to play the way he wanted because he was the greatest of all time. Kobe Bryant has been able to because he's the second greatest shooting guard of all time and he was granted a team specifically built to provide him with the best support possible. Anthony is trying to fit in with a team of good players, and he is not one of the greatest of all time.

Anthony can do something "special" as Doyel describes, but he's got to become versatile, he's got to take the same approach to the other parts of the game that he does to scoring. He's always going to get the ball late with a chance to win. He's always going to get a chance to rise and fire. But for it to matter he has to take on the rest of the things that make up a complete game. 

Anthony can be great, if he chooses to be. Making this Knicks team work isn't easy. When life is hard, you have to change.
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:15 am

Delonte West denies the 'LeBron rumor'

Posted by Royce Young

If I say "Delonte West and LeBron James," you pretty much know exactly what I'm talking about. And that rumor, while never coming from a real source, never having any kind of substantial legs to it, has carried on for a while.

It came up again a couple weeks ago when LeBron reportedly got into it with a heckler because of it. West did an interview with the Dallas Morning News and tried to put the whole thing to bed once and for all:

“Everywhere I go, first question, ‘Don’t tell me you did that.’ …

“If we want to continue to grow as a human race, what are we teaching our kids if we try to make humor and fun out of stuff like that?” West says of the rumor. “Number one, something like that never happened. I don’t know where they got that from.

“For a strong black woman like that, for people to try to tear her down, that’s terrible. That’s terrible in so many ways.”

West didn't really need to even dignify the rumor with an actual denial, but he did. He dismissed it completely, said it was terrible and called out the human race for spreading it.

I'd love to say "end of story" here, but I know the human race pretty well and that's probably not going to happen. Still, West is on record here saying it's completely not true, which considering where the rumor originated from, is what we should take most seriously.
Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:01 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 1:03 am

Report Card: Brook Lopez dominates in Big D

Posted by Royce Young

 Brook Lopez definitely grabbed some attention Tuesday. (Getty Images)

Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.

Brook Lopez
Probably about halfway through Tuesday's New Jersey game against the Mavericks, Billy King called Otis Smith and said, "Hey, just wanted to make sure you're watching this." Because in his third game after returning to the floor after a foot injury, Lopez was dominant. He finished with 38 points on 17-28 shooting leading the Nets to a one-point win over the Mavs in Dallas.
Minnesota Timberwolves
On a night where Kevin Love scored just 10 and Ricky Rubio only two while Blake Griffin had 30 and Chris Paul 27, you'd assume the Clippers handled the Wolves with ease, right? Wrong. Instead it was a big 109-97 win for Minnesota. So how'd they do it? Behind a career night from rookie Derrick Williams who finished with 27 points on 9-10 shooting and Michael Beasley who had 27 on 11-15 shooting. That's right, 54 points on 20-25 shooting. That'll get it done.
Middle-of-the-pack Eastern teams
Both the Pacers and 76ers limped a bit into the All-Star break, revealing some issues. But both came out roaring with the Sixers topping Detroit by 29 and the Pacers whipping the Warriors by 24. Good start to the second half for both.
Derrick Rose
The Bulls made it far closer than it should've been against the Hornets, but Rose came to the rescue for Chicago, scoring 32 points, including the last four for the Bulls. He hit a big jumper with 19 seconds left to put Chicago up two, then picked up a block on a Jarrett Jack drive that would've tied it and then hit two free throws to seal it.
Boston Celtics
Boston ended a five-game losing streak with a win over Cleveland, but still, it's obvious there are problems. They look slow, old and have problems scoring. Rajon Rondo was outscored by Kyrie Irving 24-0 -- that's right, zero points for Rondo -- and outside of Ray Allen's solid game, the Celtics weren't very good. It's not that the Celtics are disappointing anymore, mainly because expectations are constantly being lowered.
Chicago Bulls not named Derrick The bench combined for only 18 points and the other four starters only had 49. Without Rose in the game, the Bulls blew an 11-point lead and had to be rescued by the MVP in the last couple minutes.
Dallas Mavericks
It's one thing to blow a game to the Nets at home, but the Mavs' failure in the last minute to execute was just bad. Jason Kidd's heave to win the game was off a horrible set that exploded in Dallas's face. And Dirk Nowitzki -- you know, the guy that's seven feet tall and as clutch as it gets -- didn't take a shot in the Mavs' last two possessions.
New Orleans Hornets
The Bulls won a game they were supposed to, but the Hornets made it tough on them. So why an F? Because they had it. After a 13-0 run to go up 95-91 with 1:30 left, the Hornets watched the Bulls close on an 8-0 run. Here were their possessions: turnover, blocked shot, blocked shot, turnover. Derrick Rose hit a big shot, but the Hornets really showcased exactly why they have such a horrendous record.

Posted on: February 28, 2012 6:53 pm

Kobe still suffering symptoms from Wade foul

By Matt Moore 

Lakers' team reporter Mike Trudell is reporting that Kobe Bryant is still suffering from symptoms of his nasal fracture and concussion sustained Sunday after a hard foul from Dwyane Wade, and is being referred for an MRI. From 
Kobe Bryant went to see ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. John Rehm on Tuesday after suffering a broken nose at Sunday’s All-Star game, and because Bryant is experiencing further symptoms, Dr. Rehm recommended an MRI and that Bryant see a neurologist.

Bryant, who did not practice with the team on Tuesday, is expected to see the neurologist and undergo the exam this afternoon; the Lakers will provide an update as soon as one becomes available.
via Kobe Bryant Injury Update « Lakers Blog.

With the NBA's new concussion policy stipulating that a player must pass a series of neurologic tests before being cleared for play, Bryant's availability for Wednesday's game against Minnesota in L.A. continues to be in doubt.

Wade told reporters Tuesday he "sent a message" of apology to Bryant during the All-Star Game, whatever that means. The Lakers face the Heat at Staples Center on Sunday. Bryant had told reporters he planned to practice Tuesday but obviously did not, and given the nature of the injury, it's likely that the team will be exceedingly cautious with regards to the injury.
Posted on: February 28, 2012 6:48 pm

NBA is popular, but not seeing profits

Posted by Royce Young

It's almost becoming a weekly NBA press release. "[Insert game] was the NBA's highest rated in 15 years." The league's popularity is reaching incredible highs. Behind young starpower, an exciting product and an intriguing rumor mill, the NBA is soaring.

And yet, the league isn't making money. Deputy commission Adam Silver explained in Orlando.

"The league will not make money this year," Silver says. And next year? "Maybe."

Don't forget, and I'm sure you haven't, there was a lockout this season. Over exactly this stuff. As a result, the NBA reduced Basketball Related Income from 57 percent to 51.1 percent for the players. The system was tweaked and changed to benefit owners. By all accounts, there was really no excuse for the league to not make money. Especially with the rising popularity of the game.

So what's going on? Henry Abbott of TrueHoop explains:
The explanation from the league is that the cuts in player costs roughly match the losses from last year. But this year the league says there were an additional $200 million in losses related to the lockout, for instance due to lost ticket revenue and corporate sponsorships that didn't happen.

More importantly, popularity only equals big changes in revenue over years. The most obvious way that happens is with more lucrative national TV deals, but the old deals are still in place for two more years. High TV ratings have not meant new TV revenues for the league. Corporate sponsorships similarly take time to develop.

And according to the league, the popularity is nice, but not yet a cure for the league's financial distress.
You can't take a shortsighted view of the new collecive bargaining agreement. It's a 10-year deal and as Silver said after one negotiation in the fall, he believes the league will eventually be proven right with this deal. It's not about the present. It's about the future.

But there certainly is a difference in the game being healthy and popular and it being profitable. With all the concessions the owners got in the last negotiation though, if they aren't making money when the league is at all-time highs in popularity, then there's really nothing left to do than look in the mirror.
Category: NBA
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