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Tag:Tony Parker
Posted on: February 25, 2012 8:32 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 12:01 am
 

All-Star Saturday Night Results

All-Star Saturday night is happening, which is exciting, for all of us, really. (Getty Images)



It's All-Star Saturday Night, when the best, or at least best with respect to relative health, come out to shine under the bright lights and other cliches. The Skills Contest, the 3-Point Shooting Contest, and the Slam Dunk Contest take place Saturday night, and we'll have updates to all the events and highlights here. Consider this your home for All-Star Saturday Night. 

You can follow us on Twitter @EyeOnBasketball, and follow our guys on the ground in our All-Star Saturday Night Experience

Haier Shooting Stars: Let's be honest, this is like the opening band you don't show up for.

Your contestants:

Team Orlando: Jameer Nelson, Marie Ferdinand-Harris, Dennis Scott

Team Atlanta: Jerry Stackhouse, Lindsey Harding, Steve Smith

Team New York: Landry Fields, Cappi Pondexter, Allan Houston 

Team Texas: Chandler Parsons, Sophia Young, Kenny Smith

Winner: TEAM NEW YORK: Allan Houston still has it. The man downed two half-court shots and team New York cleared the final round in 37 seconds. The fact that Kenny Smith and Allan Houston are still better shooters than any of the Milwaukee Bucks is a bit distressing. 

From Royce Young of CBSSports.com:

A reporter asked Allan Houston if he's in such good shape where he could almost -- "Stop. Stop it right now. This was fun ... It feels good to have a uniform again, but that's about it. That's about the limits if it." Then Landry Fields jumped in saying, "He's not taking that uniform off tonight."



Taco Bell Skills Challenge: Please don't hurt yourselves, you're basically your entire teams

Russell Westbrook

Rajon Rondo

John Wall

Deron Williams

Tony Parker

Winner: Tony Parker: Kyrie Irving was basically terrible. Rajon Rondo outid Russell Westbrook with a great time in a run-off round, then both Rondo and Deron Williams went on a brick fest on the mid-range jumper. Parker breezed to a win. The effort in this wasn't the worst thing you've ever seen, provided you've seen the Washington Wizards play this season. Williams didn't win, but he did have the fastest time on this run:

 


Foot Locker 3-Point Contest: If James Jones win, we're going to spit

James Jones

Kevin Love

Ryan Anderson

Kevin Durant

Anthony Morrow

Mario Chalmers

Winner: Kevin Love in an upset! Love found himself in a shoot-off with Kevin Durant after tying him in the final round, and then bested the scoring leader 17-14. James Jones made it to the final round and had a pretty low bar of 16 to best, but couldn't get it done, dropping just 12. A dominant rebounding power forward just won the 3-point contest. Boom. Click here for video highlights


Sprite Slam Dunk Contest: You don't know their names, but maybe that means they can only exceed expectations

Paul George

Derrick Williams

Chase Budinger

Jeremy Evans

Winner: No one. It was very likely the worst dunk contest of all time. Jeremy Evans did win, in a contest that featured him making a straight reverse dunk with a camera attached that no one got, and dunking over Kevin Hart dressed as a mailman while wearing a Karl Malone jerey. The coolest dunk of the night was Paul George in the dark. Goodnight everyone, and may God have Mercy on our souls.
Posted on: February 20, 2012 3:09 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 3:18 pm
 

NBA announces All-Star Skills Challenge field

Posted by Ben Golliver  

Russell Westbrook shows off his skills during the 2011 Skills Challenge. (Getty Images)

Wow! Did you just see him dribble around that cone?

On Monday, the NBA announced the field for its annual Skills Challenge, a pointless and confusing event in which players dribble and their pass their way around the court in a timed competition. The Skills Challenge annually serves as a prelude to the Three-Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday night. This year's group is made up entirely of point guards, including three All-Stars, Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Deron Williams (New Jersey Nets), two participants in the Rising Stars Challenge, Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) and John Wall (Washington Wizards), and defending champion Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors).

Here's the full explanation of how this event works.
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge was introduced at NBA All-Star 2003 in Atlanta and features six players competing in a two-round timed “obstacle course” consisting of dribbling, passing and shooting stations. All players must observe basic NBA ball-handling rules while completing the course. The three players with the fastest times from the first round advance to the finals with the order of competition determined by inverse order of the first round times. At the discretion of the referee, television instant replay may be consulted for clarification of rules compliance.

The Taco Bell Skills Challenge will be televised live nationally as part of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night. Coverage will begin at 7 p.m. EST from Amway Center in Orlando.

The key components to winning the Skills Challenge are precision and actually giving a (bleep). That tends to favor the younger guys.

Last year, Curry finished first, Westbrook finished second and Wall finished fourth. Williams won the Skills Challenge in 2008. None of the other participants are past champions.

One interesting note: this year's field includes the NBA's top-3 turnover-generating players: Westbrook, Wall and Williams. Irving is No. 13, Curry is No. 18 and Parker is No. 37. 

Handicapping this thing is the definition of a fruitless exercise, but a repeat performance from Curry or a debut victory from Irving would probably be this year's least shocking results.
Posted on: February 16, 2012 1:46 am
Edited on: February 16, 2012 2:41 am
 

Report Card: 'Linsanity' pulls Knicks to .500

Posted by Ben Golliver 

Everything came easy against the Sacramento Kings for Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks . (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.

Jeremy Lin No late-game heroics from the Knicks guard this time around, but he did dish out a career-high 13 assists, getting into the lane at will against Sacramento's perimeter defense. New York cruised to a 100-85 victory in front of the home crowd, and Lin's ball distribution helped New York land seven players in double figures. All five Knicks starters finished +18 or better. Dominant. Seven straight wins for the Knicks, who pulled back to .500 for the first time in a month.
Kevin Love The Timberwolves are flirting with .500, so they should handle a team as bad as the Bobcats at home with ease. But this is still the first season on the upswing for Minnesota and a good solid thumping can't always be assumed. Kevin Love put up an absurd 30 points, 18 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal night on 11-21 shooting. That's how you pound a poor team into submission. Don't look now, but Charlotte has now lost 16 straight; the next longest streak in the league is 7.
Portland Trail Blazers Portland might have needed a win as badly as any team in the league, given its recent poor play and the loss of forward LaMarcus Aldridge to injury. Winning in the Bay Area and winning close games have both been bugaboos for the Blazers, but they pulled out a late win over the Warriors thanks to solid team rebounding and a late 3-pointer by Jamal Crawford. Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby were key energy providers and the Crawford three helped make up for Portland's top-3 guards combining to shoot 13-for-40 on the night.
Nate Robinson Nate Robinson gives and Nate Robinson taketh away. With star guard Monta Ellis pinned to the bench late in the game, apparently due to illness, Warriors coach Mark Jackson effectively turned the game over to Robinson, who finished with 21 points in 21 minutes. Unfortunately, 4 turnovers and some poor shot selection on key possessions down the stretch contributed to the Warriors scoring just 37 second-half points, and Robinson bumbled the ball on the game's final possession. Endless excitement but ultimately unfulfilling. Story of his NBA career.
Washington Wizards One night after torching Portland from absolutely everywhere, shooting an unconscious 60 percent for the game as a team, the Wizards fell back to Earth against the Clippers, shooting just 5-for-22 from deep while getting killed on the glass. All five L.A. starters hit double figures, as did Mo Williams, and this one ended in an 18-point rout.
Oklahoma City Thunder The West's top team can't be happy with the slowest of slow starts, as they scored just 13 points in the first quarter at Houston, digging themselves a 16-point hole in the first frame. The Thunder charged back hard and probably should have won this one, but neither Kevin Durant (33 points) or Russell Westbrook (26 points) really found their strokes from deep. Unusual late-game shortcomings from both All-Stars added salt to the wound.



E FOR EFFORT
Tony Parker (34 points, 14 assists, 11-for-23 shooting, 12-for-12 free throws, 1 steal in a road win over the Toronto Raptors)
Gerald Wallace (24 points, 6-for-13 shooting, 4-4 from 3s, 8-8 free throws, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block in a road win over the Golden State Warriors)
Greg Monroe (22 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block in a road win over the Boston Celtics)
Ryan Anderson (27 points, 2 rebounds, 9-for-12 shooting, 7-for-10 from deep in a home win over the Philadelphia 76ers, plus a selection for the 3-point shooting contest)
Posted on: February 9, 2012 1:42 am
Edited on: February 9, 2012 1:58 am
 

Report Card 2.9.12: Linsanity strikes again

Jeremy Lin led the Knicks to their third straight win in his second start. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore 

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.

Complete Linsanity He did it. Again. In NBA history, there have been four players to post 20+points and 8+ assists in their first two career starts. Jeremy Lin became the fifth Wednesday night, with 23 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal, just two turnovers and 9-14 shooting. Once again an opponent opted to go over the screen, to dare him to drive and/or pass off the pick and roll, and once again Lin destroyed a team. The dream continues. An amazing ride. Also, this happened, which is Landry Fields and Lin's new handshake, in which they open a book flip through it, put on glasses, and then slip on pocket protectors:

Orlando Magic Orlando did not stomp the Heat. But they did throw them up against the lockers, shook their lunch money out, and bloodied their clothes a bit. The Magic essentially had a two step process. Challenge the Heat at mid-range in face-up and passinsg situations defensively, and hit a metric ton of threes. It's nothing we haven't seen from Orlando before, just against a very good team. The occasional lapse to let the Heat back in it, even as good as Miami is, keeps them from an A, but a very solid performance for Orlando and a huge win.
Memphis Grizzlies The Grizzlies beat the Wolves by just five (though it was really a seven-point lead before a needless foul and so-what three), when they were without Kevin Love. Scoring just 85 points isn't going to get it done. Memphis passes with a win over a quality team with or without Love, but fails to show anything that suggest they have resolved their myriad problems.
Los Angeles Clippers The Cavaliers were without their best player in Kyrie Irving and still ran the Clippers out throughout the game. Not the comforting start to the post-Billups era you would hope for, particularly letting Ramon Sessions have his way to the tune of 24 and 13.
New Orleans Hornets What do you want to go with, here? Scoring just 67 points? 14 points in the first period, causing an awkard situation when the crowd didn't get to sit down for five-plus minutes to start the game waiting for the first bucket? Such a wide range of sad failure for the Hornets. Anthony Davis, Hornets fans. Anthony Davis.


E FOR EFFORT
Jeremy Lin (23 points, 10 assists, Linsanity)
Tony Parker (37 points and 8 assists, validating All-Star reserve status if selected)
Dwight Howard (25 points and 24 boards in win over Heat)
Posted on: February 5, 2012 1:11 pm
 

Parker becomes Spurs all-time assists leader

Tony Parker became the Spurs' all-time assists leader Saturday. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore

Tony Parker passed Avery Johnson Saturday night for all-time Spurs assist leader during San Antonio's 107-96 win over the Thunder. Parker tallied 9 assists to pass Johnson's total and take the new top spot with 4,477. 

For reference, Parker is the Spurs' all-time assist leader, and currently 72nd all-time in the NBA.  So not exactly a lot of passing going on by the top guards in San Antonio over the years. But it does put one more mark on Parker's stellar career. 

In a lot of ways, Parker was the first point guard of the modern era (turn of the century on) as a scoring point guard. He and Chauncey Billups were built of the same mold, but Billups was much more of a fill-in-the-gaps scorer versus Parker who was so much an individual creator. While certainly not the first scoring point (Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson), Parker did set the path for players like Russell Westbrook and even Derrick Rose as dynamic scorers. 

Speaking of, while dropping those nine assists last night, Parker scored 42 points on 29 shots. 

Parker's promience as a top point guard has faded in the past few years with the emergence of Chris Paul, Rose, Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo, but his consistency and effectivenessfor a contending team for the past ten years is something that should be remembered. After the game, head coach Gregg Popovich was quick to compliment Parker's longevity in acquiring the record... in the usual Popovich way. 
“He’s been here a long time,” Popovich said with a shrug and, if you looked closely enough, a smile. “He should have a lot of assists.”
via Spurs Nation » Parker plunders Thunder.

Despite Pop's ribbing, Parker entered a toug situation under Popovich and flourished, becoming one of the decade's best players and a Finals MVP. There's no doubt he, along with Duncan and Manu Ginobili, will have his jersey in the rafters of San Antonio when he's through.
Posted on: January 29, 2012 11:08 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 1:09 pm
 

Jason Terry and the Mavericks' survival plan

Jason Terry helped the Mavericks survive against a Spurs bench run Sunday night. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore


DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks, as much as any team in the league, know that this is not anything like a normal season. There are games packed on top of games packed on top of games. Dirk Nowitzki is still trying to get into his normal game condition, evidenced by his struggles in his first game back. The Kardashians are prowling the arena along with the realities of their television show, and have we mentioned the schedule is insane?

Those are just some of the reasons that led Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle to call this year, "wacky" after the Mavericks' 101-100 win over the San Antonio in Dallas Sunday night.

"It's a wacky year," Carlisle said, "and there's a lot of things going on with crazy scores and leads and deficits disappearing, so you've got to be ready for anything. We're fortunate, but it's a good win. "

Wacky. Much like this up and down win that did not come easy. The Mavericks held a strong lead in the third quarter, lead by Vince Carter who finished with 21 points on 8-15 shooting. But then, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who Mavericks guard Jason Terry later called "a mastermind" and who Carlisle called "the greatest coach really ever in this game," pulled his starters. Completely. With 2:12 to go in the third quarter. From there on out it was entirely bench players, and instead of a weak surrender, the trio of Danny Green, Gary Neal, and James Anderson poured in a flurry of lay-ups and three-pointers. The bench squad scored on 8 of 9 fourth quarter possessions to take the lead. Another blown lead in a wacky year.

"We gotta keep working," Carlisle noted after the game. "I love the fact that we came back from nine down in the fourth. It's a tough position to be in, but the guys fought and got it tied and in overtime we were able to get out of here."

"Getting out of here," that's probably the theme of the NBA season for almost all the teams caught in this hellacious compacted schedule. It's some sort of weird, mutant version of the age old cliche of "survive and advance." In this year with so many outliers, teams need depth, and they need pacing, and they need some luck. The Mavericks have had little of that this year, but having the kind of veterans they do gives them the experience to get through crazy games like Sunday's.

Compared to their struggles to start the year, the Mavericks recovered, played like World Champions, and finished off the non-stars in overtime. It takes experience, it takes veterans, it takes a mindset to "survive." Oh, and Jason Terry, that helps too.

"I was locked in," Terry said after he finished with a game-high 34 points on 14-23 shooting and 4 assists in 37 minutes.

His is always the second name on the Mavericks behind the Big German, but lost in the Lamar Odom trade and the free agency departures and the injuries is the fact that Jason Terry still wears Mavericks blue. And he's a survivor. Terry has made huge shot after huge shot for the Mavericks throughout the years and on Sunday showed why the Mavericks will keep learning, keep adjusting, and keep improving as veterans do even in a wacky year, and will be there at the end, when the playoffs begin.

"I watched the film [from the first meeting between the two teams] and there were some shots that I know I would make if I got them again," Terry said. "I said if I continue to get those same looks and opportunities that I'm going to be aggressive and take them."

It was Terry taking and hitting big shots along with the kind of consistent team effort on defense and the glass that got the Mavericks back in control. It was also players like Carter, who have been around long enough to make the plays when they need to, especially against an inexperienced crew like the upstart bench mob from San Antonio. Carter later said this season comes down to simple survival.

"That's what it's going to be about it. It's going to be about survival. Every guy on the team has to be ready to play, because you just never know."

What the Mavericks do know is that they have guys who have been there, done that. Other teams may have more youth, more depth, fresher legs and more wind. But does having the veterans in a season like this, even with the wear and tear on older bodies, help the Mavs in their mindset?

"I think so," Carter said. "And just making sure your young guys are prepared."

Carter complimented Roddy Beaubois, starting at point guard yet again for the injured Jason Kidd. "My hat's off to Roddy. It gets to where he's not playing big minutes, and he plays spot minutes and then he gets the start. To play like that, it gets a salute from me."

Veterans putting the young guys in a position to make plays, and Jason Terry hitting big shots when the Mavericks need them. If the Mavericks are going to survive this year, that's the approach they want to have. It's not about the division lead the Mavericks took Sunday night with the win. It's not about getting Nowitzki back into the rotation or worrying about blowing a lead to a group of bench players. 

This season is not about being perfect. It's about survival. And the Mavericks are as well prepared to survive as any team in the league.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 1:32 pm
 

Kris Humphries voted NBA's most disliked player

Posted by Royce Young

Celebrate Kris Humphries, you just beat out LeBron James for something. Well, maybe you should check what that something is first.

According to Forbes, via a poll conducted Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research, Humphries was voted the NBA's most disliked player. Fifty percent voted to dislike Humphries while No. 2, LeBron, picked up 48 percent. I guess people either were really mad about the 72-day Kim Kardashian marriage or there are a lot of sympathetic people towards Kim K. I have a feeling it's not the latter.

“He’s been on five magazine covers, all in a negative light,” Stephen Master, VP at Nielsen Sports, which helped run the survey, told Forbes.  “It’s all so recent, he’s gotten all this publicity for something other than basketball talent.”

It is surprising that a little reality show and Hollywood marriage would bump Humphries all the way up this list topping people like LeBron, Carmelo Anthony, Tony Parker (who divorced from actress Eva Longoria with reports of cheating), Kobe Bryant (who is getting divorced) and Chris Bosh.

I'm noticing a theme though: NBA fans don't like divorce, I guess.

Here's the full top 10:

1. Kris Humphries (50 percent dislike)
2. LeBron James (48 percent)
3. Kobe Bryant (45 percent)
4. Tony Parker (37 percent)
5. Metta World Peace (36 percent)
6. Chris Bosh (34 percent)
7. Carmelo Anthony (27 percent)
8. Paul Pierce (25 percent)
9. Dwyane Wade (23 percent)
10. Lamar Odom (21 percent)

Via PBT
Posted on: November 27, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2011 1:55 pm
 

NBA lockout's winners and losers

Posted by Ben Golliver

lockout-over
It's over. The 2011 NBA lockout is finally, mercifully over. Let's hail the victors and pity the vanquished in this rundown of the NBA lockout's winners and losers.

The Deal

Winners: NBA Owners

Over the next six years, the owners succeeded in shifting more than 1 billion dollars into their pockets by negotiating their share of the Basketball-Related Income split from 43 percent in the old deal to a 49 percent to 51 percent band in the new deal. That number could grow to more than 2 billion if both parties agree to continue the deal through to its full 10-year length.

In addition to the players' 10-figure financial give-back, the owners received major concessions on virtually every important issue governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Contract lengths are getting shorter from a maximum of six years to a maximum of five years for players who are re-signing and four years for other free agents, meaningfully reducing the level of financial security players feel while also reducing the burden of bad contracts on a team. The mid-level exception system is shrinking, which hits the middle class free agents hardest while helping to keep owners from overpaying for mediocre talent. The luxury tax system is getting tougher, which limits the very highest-spending teams’ ability to compete and/or set the market for free agents while theoretically creating a slightly more level playing field between large and small market teams.

Whether or not you agree with the logic behind these major changes, their collective impact combined with the clear financial victory makes this negotiation a strong-arm highway robbery. And all it cost: less than 20 percent of the games in one season (and some hurt feelings among die-hard fans).

Losers: NBA Players

Any time you leave a negotiation thinking, “Well, this is bad, but it could have been worse,” you lost that negotiation. National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter even admitted that a recent NBA offer was “not the greatest proposal in the world", yet he and the players tentatively agreed to a deal very similar to the one he bashed publicly. This happened because the players never had real leverage or good alternatives. They were squeezed and had no escape route.

But, it could have been worse. The mid-level system in the agreement provides more spending power for teams (and thus more money for free agents) than in previous proposals. The luxury tax system is significantly tougher than the one in the previous CBA, but not as draconian as a hard cap – something that the owners maintained that they wanted for the longest time – and not as punitive as earlier reports indicated it might be.  The NBA also increased its spending floor for all of its teams, providing additional suitors for free agents and theoretically helping to prevent players from getting stuck on teams that totally slash-and-burn their rosters with no intention of actually competing.

America's Team

Winners: Miami Heat

Miami’s biggest concerns heading into the lockout: the new CBA would require the Heat to break up the Big 3 and/or the full 2011-2012 season would be cancelled, costing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh a year of their primes. With a season now salvaged, the Big 3 can get back to their redemption work. And, while the tougher luxury tax system and reduced mid-level exception for luxury tax payers will eventually make it more difficult to add big-name free agents, the tax system won’t kick in for two years, meaning Miami doesn’t need to make any major roster cuts for quite a while. Bosh, who many thought last season might need to be traded so that Miami could conform to a hard cap system, appears safe for at least two years, if not the duration of his deal. Forward Mike Miller, as ESPN.com notes, could very likely be spared because the Heat will have a full mid-level exception based on their current salary cap number this year, too.

Losers: Miami Heat

Despite the salary cap good news, the Heat are also short-term losers. The 2011-2012 season now officially bears the historical taint associated with an abridged schedule. The 2012 Finals winner, no matter who it is, will bear the asterisk of being “lockout champions.” That’s fine if you are the Dallas Mavericks defending your 2011 title or the Los Angeles Lakers adding to your stockpile, but if you’re James, Wade, Bosh and company, your first title needs to be clean or critics will mercilessly work to invalidate it. Winning in 2012 will require Miami to win future titles to prove that their triumph wasn’t a short season fluke. In other words, James and company will carry a burden into the 2012-2013 season even if he finally wins his first ring.

NBA Players Abroad

Winners: Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez

Until a recent minor knee tweak by Fernandez, all four NBA players made it through their international excursions in good health. No NBA player made more money playing hoops during the lockout than Williams, who took a risk in broadening his family’s horizons and staying active that paid off in game checks and lack of boredom. Parker and Batum returned home to France, garnering a hero’s welcome, while Fernandez did the same in Spain, where he is extraordinarily popular. All three put up big numbers and gave their fans a chance to see them during their peak years rather just a victory lap when their NBA careers are through. That’s got to be an incredibly fulfilling feeling.

Losers: Anyone that gets stuck in China

The Chinese Basketball Association insisted on preventing NBA opt-out provisions in its contracts, theoretically tying any player who signed with a team in that league through March, when the regular season ends. Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Yi Jianlian, Aaron Brooks, Patty Mills and others agreed to play in China and now their future is uncertain. Best case: their Chinese team agrees to release them so they can return to the United States. Worst case: they remain stuck until March, when finding a good NBA landing spot, not to mention salary number, could be significantly more difficult. The major consolation here is that Chinese teams were reportedly offering seven-figure deals, so guys that are trapped until March won’t be leaving empty-handed.

Saving The Season

Winner: Kobe Bryant

We’ve been saying for months and months that no player needs a 2011-2012 season more than Kobe Bryant. At 33, losing a year of his career would have been a disaster, and not just because he would have lost more than $25 million in salary. Bryant is embarking on dual epic quests: passing Michael Jordan in total number of championships and passing Michael Jordan on the all-time points list. Salvaging a season gives him a much better chance at both goals.

Older vets like Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan are similarly winners in that they save a twilight year from being extinguished.

Loser: Greg Oden

The Portland Trail Blazers center has not appeared in an NBA game since Dec. 2009 and is now a full year removed from his most recent microfracture surgery. Even so, The Oregonian reports that Oden still doesn't have a firm timetable on an expected return to the court and hasn't yet been cleared for basketball activities. Oden is a restricted free agent and now must enter contract negotiations without the ability to prove he can play again. Contract aside, a lost season would have helped delay the return of the enormous pressure he faces as a former No. 1 overall pick; now, Oden will likely come back to Portland, where expectations are still gigantic, after hiding out for most of the lockout, only to face another round of jokes and barbs about his health.

Public Relations

Winners: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Brandon Jennings and other charity game workhorses

The best way for a player to improve his standing with basketball die-hards is to show off his own unrequited love of the game. James, Durant and Jennings stood above the crowd in their dedication to playing in organized events across the country, connecting directly with fans and providing hope even when the lockout turned ugliest. Twitter and savvy sneaker campaigns – “Basketball Never Stops” and “Are You From Here?” – helped keep the positive momentum going. There’s no question all three guys made lifelong fans with their actions over the last six months.  

Loser: Michael Beasley

Beasley got busted for marijuana, threw an "All-Star Classic" charity game in which all the All-Stars bailed, shoved a fan in the face during a New York City exhibition, and sued his former agent and AAU coach – his surrogate father during high school – alleging major NCAA rules violations. He also hired and was then dropped by a PR firm that was working to help improve his image. To top it all off, he spoke out against his players union, saying that it was "kind of retarded" for the players to be fighting over a few BRI percentage points. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves now bring to camp the No. 2 overall draft pick, Derrick Williams, who will be an instant fan favorite and figures to compete for his minutes.

JaVale McGee was another memorable face of player cluelessness, leaving one important NBPA meeting early to tell the media that the players insider were "ready to fold." He quickly denied that he made that comment only to have multiple reporters post audio of his statements instantly. Not his finest hour, to be sure.

Salary Cap Nuances

Winners: Young superstars like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook

SBNation.com notes that players who excel during their rookie deals -- such as 2011 MVP Derrick Rose and 2011 All-Star Russell Westbrook -- stand to gain millions of extra dollars in attainable salary thanks to new rules that will reward players who produce at an all-NBA level while on subsidized rookie contracts. Elite players have way outperformed rookie contracts for years and deserved this extra financial incentive.

Losers: Small-market teams clinging to superstars

As the Arizona Republic notes, the rule that would have banned players from signing extend-and-trade contracts a la Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks last season was not included in the final CBA. So superstars who are impending free agents like Orlando's Dwight Howard and New Orleans' Chris Paul still have the opportunity to force their way out of town, should they choose to do so. You can hear the rumor mill doing extra laps around the track and stomach crunches to whip itself into midseason form.

Internet

Winners: Basketball Video Mix Websites

HoopMixTape.com and other highlight-reel videographers saw major upticks in traffic and interest during the summer pro-am and fall charity league circuits. Their ability to take high quality, professional footage and cut it together seamlessly in a matter of hours feeding the hoops need for basketball's year-round global audience in nearly real-time.  

Losers: NBA Online

The NBA’s decision to strip its websites of references to players and to start a Twitter account to aggressively push its labor message to media members, and even players, came off petty, heavy-handed and way too Big Brother in an arena that is supposed to be about fun, not business. The league has some serious fence-mending to do, especially with its core audience. It’s unclear whether the league knows that or not.

Negotiators

Winners: David Stern and Billy Hunter 

NBA commissioner David Stern and NBPA executive director Billy Hunter are begrudgingly buried here at the end. After months of cringe-inducing public statements, snail-slow negotiations, legal threats, condescending comments and all the rest, these two old adversaries actually struck a deal, which not only saves the league they serve but also manages to protect their own legacies from irreparable damage.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com