Tag:Pau Gasol
Posted on: August 22, 2011 4:14 pm
 

Gasol, Durant, CP3 and Rose to play in Australia?

Posted by Royce Young

Already a group of NBA players took to the Philippines to play in an exhibition game. Some made in the neighborhood of $400,000 for it. So why not go for round two, outback edition?

According to the Sunday Herald Sun, Pau Gasol, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Derrick Rose are some of the rumored NBA stars that could play three games in Melbourne. It would be three All-Star exhibition style games. Already two sponsors have committed to support the tour and pay insurance which will cost something like $1 million.

No date has really been outlined but obviously this is a lockout contingent tour. If the collective bargaining agreement gets resolved, this will be most certainly dissolve.

One question though: Why no Andrew Bogut? Or Patty Mills, for that matter? Both are native Australians and I'm sure have a pretty good base of support there. Instead it's Durant, Gasol, Paul and Rose? Not a bad lineup at all of course, but you'd think it would've been like Bogut or somebody that was organizing this.

Right now, Gasol is prepping with the Spain national team for Eurobasket 2011 in Lithuania which starts later this month. So figuring out those details will be an issue, but there's no doubt if you pay, they'll play. I think that's sort of how the labor negotiations are going too.
Posted on: August 22, 2011 4:11 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 7:37 am
 

The EOB Elite 100, 6-10: Superstars rising



By Matt Moore

This is the tenth segment of the CBSSports.com Eye on Basketball Elite 100, counting down the top-100 players in the NBA.

Check out the earlier installments: 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11

We've hit the top ten.

Here we find the ten best players of the NBA. We'll unleash our top five (who you can already figure out) tomorrow, but these players all could reasonably fit in that top five category. The most explosive player in the league is entering only his second year of play. The league's best scorer is criminally underrated still as we wait for him to hit the zenith of his abilities. The five-time champion sits at the bottom, fueled with bitterness and rage at what age and a shocking dismissal in the playoffs has left him. The league's best true point guard has reclaimed his crown.

This is the sixth through tenth best players in the National Basketball Association and where they dribble, Thunder follows. Metaphorical thunder. Not the actual Thunder. Except for one of them. He's on the Thunder. This is confusing. Anyway, 10-6!


10. Blake Griffin, PF, age 22, Los Angeles Clippers
2011 stats: 22.5 ppg, 12.1 rpg, 3.8 apg, 50.6 FG%, 21.93 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 10, 10, 15

It's not all about the dunks. You just have to tell yourself that. It is not, all about the dunks. Yeah, I realize Blake Griffin's rookie season will be most remembered more for his instant YouTube classics than for a pretty drop-step layup, but that's really what it was about. Blake Griffin is an excellent dunker, yes. But he's a better basketball player.

His numbers were terrific and not just for a rookie. For anybody. He went for 22.5 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. That's not just in the category of "Wow, nice rookie year, now let's see what he does next." That's in the "Wow, how can he do much better than that?"

Griffin is extremely skilled but what makes him so special is that he's willing to outwork everyone on the floor. He plays harder than everybody while possessing otherworldly ability for a man 6-10. Every time he skies recklessly for a rebound or dives wildly on the floor you fear the worst, but that's what makes Blake Griffin the player he is. He plays the game in a violent, relentless manner. And on top of it, he adds top tier skill and talent with it.

He has some room to grow of course. He needs to refine his jumpshot where he's effective in the pick-and-pop game. He needs to shoot better from the free throw line. He needs to be a bit better in help defense. He should impact games on both ends. But naturally he should improve. He's just 22 and just finished his rookie year.

I love to point to his best game of the season, his 47-point effort against the Pacers. He didn't dunk the ball once in that game. Instead it was an array of spins, jumpers, hooks and deft layups that took him to his career-high. His full-court oops and massive posters bring in the oohs and ahhs, but games like he had against the Pacers is what shows you that he's going to be one of the league best players over the next 10 years. -- RY
 

9. Pau Gasol, PF, age 31, Los Angeles Lakers

2011 stats: 18.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 3.3 apg, 52.9 FG%, 23.3 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 12, 9, 9

Pau Gasol started off great. In the month of November, he averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists on 54 percent shooting. He as an MVP candidate, arguably the best player on the Lakers. He was dominant, and holding the title of "best big man in the NBA" he'd earned in 2009-2010.

It was pretty much all downhill from there.

Gasol's points and rebounds dropped, then recovered in February, then tailed off. That wasn't the big problem, though. The problem was the return of something he thought he'd quashed, the perception that he's soft. The Lakers' swept exit from the playoffs reinforced this ten-fold especially with the rumors of personal problems dogging him.

All the while, Gasol is still the best true big in the game, given that Dirk Nowitzki operates so much at the elbow. But whereas once it was thought Gasol was ahead of Nowitzki, last season flipped that script completely, and it wasn't just about the Mavs' Finals run. With Gasol getting older, it'll be key to see how he responds to the criticism and whether he comes back fiercer than ever or settles into a role. -- MM

8. Chris Paul, PG, age 26, New Orleans Hornets
2011 stats: 15.9 ppg, 9.8 apg, 4.1 rpg, 2.3 spg, 46.3 FG%, 23.7 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 8, 7, 8

Chris Paul ended any conversation that may have been had during his injury-plagued 2009-2010 season about who is the best pure point guard in the NBA in 2010-2011. He returned to form, snapping back from injury and boosting the Hornets to one of the best starts in the league before putting on the burners and coasting into a seven spot. It wasn't the best season for the Hornets, nor the best season for Paul individually, but it did reassert that Paul is the best pure point guard in this league. In reality, he's the best point guard in this league, period, but trying to explain to the average fan (or Bulls fan) that what Derrick Rose does can hardly be described as point guard play and is instead his own rebranding of the concept of guard play gets tricky. And so we stick Paul with the "best pure" title with a wink and a nod and a pat on the head for everyone else screaming "DROZE!" (who you will find higher on this list for a reason, I might add).

Paul wasn't nearly the best he's been, nor anywhere close to that 2007-2008 season where he was a legitimate MVP candidate (for all the talk about the MVP's stolen from Kobe Bryant, that season stands as one that Bryant may have stolen as reparation for those earlier years). He posted a career low in points per game and his lowest assist average in four seasons. Most of this was due to a mid-season swoon that saw his numbers dip. He alluded to it, carefully, in an interview with Ken Berger about keeping himself healthy for the postseason. And in the postseason, Paul showed how dangerous he can be.

The Hornets even putting up a fight against L.A. was unexpected, much less the onslaught that Chris Paul wrought upon the Lakers. It was a clinic in how to run point guard and he sliced and diced them in every way. He ran out of steam but the point was made.

Paul enters 2011-2012 (prospective) season as potentially his last in New Orleans. He will be trying to find a way most likely without David West, and looking towards the future. Paul just turned 26 in May. The scariest part of all of this is that he's just now entering his prime. The only real concern is if he can stay healthy enough to capitalize on it. -- MM

7. Kevin Durant, SF, age 22, Oklahoma City Thunder

2011 stats: 27.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.7 apg, 46.2 FG%, 35.0 3P%, 23.70 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 7, 8, 3

Initial thought of seeing Durant at No. 7 is that he's too low. How can the league two-time defending scoring champ not be in the top five? How can maybe the most gifted scorer, maybe the most unguardable player in the league, be in the bottom half of the top 10?

It's simple: The six players ahead of him are really, really good. That's not to take anything from Durant. Because no one would say he's not one of the most talented players in the league. Really, if you just stop yourself and remember that he hasn't even turned 23 yet then seventh starts sounding pretty darn impressive. With as much talent as there is in the NBA right now, being ranked seventh of all players at just the age of 22 is kind of an honor.

I don't feel like I need to really run down Durant's credentials here. He's a legitimate threat to have multiple seasons of 50-40-90 percentages. He absolutely could average 35 points a game. He could average a double-double with more than 30 points a game. He could do a lot of stuff. That's the point.

But he's a committed team player that doesn't necessarily care about the above except for the fact that playing well helps his team win. As the leader of the youngest team in the postseason last year, Durant took his team to the brink of the NBA Finals. And he added some pantheon playoff moments to go with it. Remember that Game 5 against the Nuggets where Durant completely took over in the final three minutes? Darn near legendary. And that's the future with Durant. We could be settling in for a whole lot more of that. If that's the case, it's not going to matter how good the six players in front of him are. He'll be right on top. -- RY

6. Kobe Bryant, G, age 32, Los Angeles Lakers
2011 Stats: 25.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 45.1 FG%, 23.94 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 6, 5, 7

Kobe Bryant’s days of being the NBA’s best active player are behind him. He still holds the title of “fiercest competitor” and “most confident in the clutch,” but his body and age have started to betray him ever so slightly and a much lighter minutes load (he played just 33.9 minutes per game, his fewest since he was a teenager) brought down his scoring average, shooting numbers and most of his other statistical contributions in 2010-2011. The drops were all marginal, though, suggesting that Bryant didn’t fall very far down the pecking order and indicating that he should remain a productive player for years to come. His diverse offensive game, elite shot-creating and shot-making abilities, and well-honed veteran craftiness will all help extend his career, too.

One thing that didn’t change last season was Bryant’s perception of his own abilities. Bryant actually led the league in usage, meaning that he finished more plays than everyone else, including ball-dominating lead guards like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. His 21.2 shots per 36 minutes were also near a career high water mark, eclipsed only by his 2005-2006 gunning campaign which resulted in his career-best scoring average of 35.4 per game. If Bryant plans to add to his five rings, his field goal attempts and usage rate will have to come down to make room for the rise of Andrew Bynum.

With any luck, this summer’s treatment on his knee should allow Bryant to keep on trucking towards Michael Jordan’s all-time point scoring total, a chase that will captivate the NBA’s media as he gets closer and closer. At this stage of his career, it’s less important where Bryant falls in the top-100 and more important where he winds up in the Greatest Of All Time discussion. While he will almost certainly continue to fall on the former, he should only keep rising on the latter. -- BG



Posted on: August 1, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 4:22 pm
 

Report: David Stern earns salary of $20+ million?

Posted by Ben Golliver. 

david-stern

Those cufflinks could be made of solid gold, the cuffs constructed from the finest ivory. 

Yahoo! Sports reports that NBA commissioner David Stern could make more in salary than all but a handful of the league's players.
Many owners don’t even know what Stern makes. “I’d say three or less know,” one NBA owner told Yahoo! Sports. Several believe it’s somewhere in the range of $20 million to $23 million a year, but no one knows for sure. Maybe it’s more than that, but the fact that some owners don’t know the answer is beyond belief.
That salary ballpark squares with a New York Daily News report from February -- noted by CBSSports.com's Matt Moore in a piece on the league's opulent culture -- which pegged Stern's salary at $23 million.

Only one NBA player is set to make more than $25 million during the 2011-2012 season: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who is on the books for $25.2 million.  

Only three other players are set to make more than $20 million: Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett ($21.2 million), San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan ($21.2 million) and Washington Wizards forward Rashard Lewis ($21.1 million). 

Stern is reportedly set to bring home more bacon than the league's worst contracts: Orlando Magic guard Gilbert Arenas ($19.3 million) and Phoenix Suns guard Vince Carter ($18.9 million, although only a fraction of that is guaranteed). He will also reportedly make more than most of the league's biggest stars, including Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki ($19.1 million), Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol ($18.7 million), New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony ($18.5 million) and Amar'e Stoudemire ($18.2 million), Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard ($18.1 million) and all three of the Miami Heat's Big 3 of LeBron James ($16.0 million), Dwyane Wade ($15.7 million) and Chris Bosh ($16.0 million).

Two pieces of information worth pointing out. First, Stern has held the commissioner title since 1984, so he's had more than two and a half decades to rack up pay raises. There's a very good chance he is the league's highest-paid employee by leaps and bounds. Second, Stern pledged not to accept any salary in the event of a work stoppage at the 2011 All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
Stern was asked whether he would reduce his salary to $1 if the two sides could not reach a labor agreement, as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has pledged recently. Stern said: "Last time, I ddin't take any salary. I think a dollar would be too high in the event of a work stoppage." 
Still, that seems like an awful lot of money for the league's chief executive. Windfall salaries for chief executives in many industries are often tied to periods of peak company performance. The NBA, though, claims never to have had a positive operating income during the duration of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement. 
Posted on: July 21, 2011 6:16 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 10:29 pm
 

2011 NBA All-Star likeability rankings

Posted by Ben Golliver.

wade-durant-bryant

It's one thing to be great on the court. It's one thing to be famous. It's one thing to be marketable. It's one thing to be respected. 

But how do we throw all those attributes together? How do we determine which of the NBA's brightest stars are the most well-rounded? How do we put our finger on which stars capture the imagination, drop jaws and tug on the heart strings? 

It's an impossible task, but that didn't stop the Eye On Basketball staff from trying. Over the last week, we pinpointed five characteristics that combine to make NBA players likeable: "Ballin' Ability" (how good a guy is as a player), "Winning Attitude" (how dedicated he is to the game), "Talking Softly" (how he comes across in public comments), "Commerical Appeal" (how visible he is in advertisements) and "Public Works" (charitable contributions and other character-defining achievements).

Our panel of four experts ranked every member of the 2011 All-Star teams on a 1-5 scale in each of these five categories. We then added up all the scores to get a ranking on a 1 to 100 scale. The higher the number, the more likeable the player. Pretty simple stuff. 

Without further ado, here are the CBSSports.com 2011 NBA All-Star likeability rankings, from worst (least likeable) to first (most likeable). 

24. Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks: Johnson’s unassuming personality and solid perimeter game don’t stand much of a chance here due to his relatively invisible national profile and his team’s lack of playoff success. Score: 44

23. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks: Horford suffers from the same low-profile problem as Johnson but is perceived as more of a winner because he took home NCAA hardware at the University of Florida, and his game is predicated on doing whatever it takes to get the job done rather than jacking jumpers. Score: 48

22. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat: Bosh is intelligent, articulate and gentle off the court and a versatile talent on the court, so he should be prettychris-bosh-tears likeable, at least in theory. His goofiness -- the photo shoots, the secret wedding, the screaming at the preseason parade -- has become off-putting now that he’s teamed up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. His status as the league’s most obvious punch line hurts him here. A lot. Score: 54

T-20. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: Still just a half-touch too far up the “might be crazy” scale to be totally likeable at this point in his career. Westbrook is still stuck in Kevin Durant’s shadow, although he showed with his fearless play in the 2011 postseason that he might one day eclipse KD in terms of sheer star power. Could be a fast riser in future renditions of these rankings, especially if he can cut down his turnovers and shake a developing reputation as a bit of a late-game ball hog. Saying something interesting after a game once in a while wouldn't hurt either. Score: 55

T-20. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers: Much like the Lakers, Gasol took a step back in prominence this season when he didn’t show up as expected -- and as needed -- in the postseason. His gangly frame isn’t particularly marketable, at least not here in the United States, and while he is a true professional when it comes to the media, he’s known first and foremost as Kobe Bryant’s on-again, off-again punching bag. Score: 55

19. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: More than anyone else on this list, Rondo genuinely doesn’t care what you think about him. He can come across as curt and moody, and doesn’t expend much energy playing the media game. His authenticity can’t be questioned, but it does keep casual fans at arm’s length. Score: 58

18. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs: An egoless star on an egoless team in an egoless organization in a relatively small market, Ginobili has never sought the bright lights. Even after all these years, the average fan doesn’t have much of a connection with him. There’s nothing not to like, but nothing that reaches out and grabs you either. Score: 59

17. Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets: Williams gets bonus points for his amazing annual dodgeball tournament and rose to a new level of renown this year thanks to a blockbuster trade and a trailblazing deal with Besiktas in Turkey. The rumored spats with Jerry Sloan that surfaced when the legendary Utah Jazz coach abruptly retired briefly painted a very unlikable picture, although that didn’t seem to bother him too much. Score: 61

16. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics: Beloved in Boston, Pierce’s personal likeability suffers a bit nationally because he’s almost always talked about as one of Boston’s Big Three, with Kevin Garnett usually getting top billing. He's a bit past his prime, which surely costs him some spots on this list. Score: 62

15. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics: Allen is pretty much in the same boat as Pierce, although he’s got an energetic mother (the ever-present Flo), a picture-perfect jump shot and an unforgettable silver screen performance (Jesus Shuttlesworth) to give him a bit of a boost. Score: 64

14. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves: Love is the anti-Rondo, fully embracing the media attention, putting his self-kevin-love-smiledeprecating humor to full display whenever possible. He’s blogged, starred in viral videos and, let’s not forget, put up mammoth statistics through sheer hard work amidst a dysfunctional mess of a team. All while remaining sane. No easy task. Score: 65

T-12. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics: Thanks to his on-court bullying antics and incessant trash talk, Garnett is as polarizing as anyone in the league, save LeBron James. But his reputation as a winner was sealed by Boston’s title, he’s been a fixture on the national endorsement circuit for years and his overwhelming competitive desire helps cover up some of the ugliness. Score: 66

 T-12. Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks: Near the top of his game and playing in a major media market, Stoudemire keeps the dunks and quotes coming, so everyone stays happy. The fact that he abandoned Steve Nash immediately following a Western Conference Finals playoff run to take more money without catching any flak for it is a testament to how he’s carved out a major place in the nation’s heart in his own, quirky way. Score: 66

11. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks: Anthony’s steady focus during a half-season-long free agency and trade whirlwind last year won him a lot of goodwill, as does the fact that he’s put millions of dollars into both Syracuse University and Baltimore. Based on talent alone, Anthony should probably be higher on this list, but wife LaLa and his lack of playoff success hold him back. Score: 68

10. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: Griffin is still enjoying the “new-car smell” phase of his NBA fame. His audacious take-offs, explosive leaping and vicious finishing are so unique for a player his size that nobody much cares that he didn’t make the playoffs and still has a ways to go to fill out an all-around game. The centerpiece of All-Star Weekend in his very first visit, he’s got endorsements by the boatload and is arguably on the verge of over-exposure. He’s still a little stiff, but that seems to be fading. Once he gets a few playoff series wins under his belt, look for Griffin to be a perennial top-5 member on this list. Score: 71

9. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs: Duncan has been so good for so long -- and won so much -- that the respect factor afforded him is significant enough to make up for a bland, sometimes robotic, personality. Duncan can be subtly hilarious and occasionally sharp-tongued with the media. He is also unfailingly classy. Score: 72

8. LeBron James, Miami Heat: He should be No. 1 on every NBA list ever made given his otherworldly talent and global-marketinglebron-james-face-machine status, but James drops hard in terms of likeability due to his late-game failures in the 2011 NBA Finals, his out-of-touch comments towards fans following the Heat's eventual loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the self-unaware “Decision” and his overall child-star cockiness/obliviousness. Even given all of that, no one would be surprised if winning a title vaulted him to the top of this list next year. His talent is that absurd. Score: 74

7. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls: You might have heard: Rose is humble. The 2011 MVP has so much going for him: He’s won at an early age, he’s winning for his hometown team, he’s lived up to expectations, he’s taken responsibility for losses and shared credit for victories, he’s managed to be a scoring point guard without getting written off as “selfish,” and he kept a safe distance from all the free agency politicking that soured a lot of fans on many top-name players last summer. He continues to battle his “shy” public nature, which is the only thing holding him back from much, much greater fame. Score: 79

6. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets: Paul checks off virtually every box on the likeability list. He’s cutthroat on the court and cuddly off of it. He’s raised loads of money for Hurricane Katrina relief. He’s a devout man without being preachy. He comes across as a caring father and thoughtful citizen. He’s -- so far -- steered clear of hijacking his franchise by demanding a trade or threatening to walk in free agency. The touching story of his love for his deceased grandfather has become an indelible part of his identity. And he is team-first, always. There’s so much to like that you actually hope he finds a better situation, where he will be able to fill out his playoff reputation. Score: 81

5. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks: This is the top of the mountain for Nowitzki, both on and off the court. It simply doesn’t get any better than captaining a balanced team through a marathon playoff run that ended with the demolition of the league’s most hated team. The cherry on top is the fact that Nowitzki came through in the clutch time and again. He’s put an ugly past relationship totally behind him, moving forward with a new fiancé. His personality with the media is easy-going and honest. He plays with a childish love of the game and hits shots that make you marvel. It’s hard to imagine another seven-foot German man gaining this level of acceptance and respect in the United States. Ever. Also, he’s squashed the “soft” label that haunted him for years. Score: 84

4. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic: Howard has deftly positioned himself as the heir apparent to Shaquille O’Neal, one of the most likeable NBA stars in recent memory. His dominant two-way play serves as the basis for a superhero persona, and his active online presence and numerous endorsement deals make his zany personality inescapable. The fact that he hasn’t committed to the Magic and could be headed for a free agency bonanza could cost him points down the road, but right now he’s still the giant, lovable teddy bear who can swat shots back to half court. Score: 85

T-2. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat: It was a shocking scene when Wade joined James in mocking Nowitzki during the Finals for being sick: A very flat note for someone who has historically been pitch perfect. Throughout his career, Wade has been a Teflon Don, particularly charmed as a player and as an endorser. With a title under his belt and a megawatt smile, Wade has displayed a good sense of humor for years as a pitchman and also been a staple on NBA Cares commercials. Both James and Bosh lost points last summer for their decision to team up in Miami, but Wade came off as a big winner, the cool older-brother figure who pulled off the recruiting haul of a lifetime. Score: 87

kevin-durant-smile

T-2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: Colorado sure feels like a long, long time ago, doesn’t it? Bryant has made the most of the second half of his NBA career, winning rings by the fistful and growing his international popularity immensely. He’s played through pain, done things his way, taken a direct, often profane, tone with the media and become the closest thing to Jordan since Jordan. Age is slowly advancing, which has a way of humanizing people, and yet his ego and force of will push back equally hard, making it seem, at least for now, that his reign on top will last as long as he chooses. Right now, he’s the NBA’s most mythical figure. Score: 87

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It’s virtually impossible to find fault with the NBA’s scoring champ. Durant combines Rose’s humble nature, Nowitzki’s impossible scoring touch, Griffin’s “new-car smell,” Howard’s technological accessibility and a Bryant-esque work ethic. He’s polite, he’s shown he has what it takes to win in the playoffs at a young age, he’s popular on an international stage already and the best is yet to come. He’s confident, but not cocky. He’s a gunner, but he comes off as unselfish. He’s team-first and loyal, much like Paul, and he’s locked in long-term so there’s no doubt or question about his future motives (at least not yet). Put it all together, and Durant is enjoying the ultimate honeymoon period with the NBA fans. We love potential, and Durant still has plenty of that. Also, he wears a backpack. Score: 88







Posted on: June 22, 2011 7:31 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 7:49 pm
 

Report: Odom offered for Wolves' No. 2 in draft

Posted by Matt Moore



For the last week, rumors have been floated about Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum being involved in trade talks by the Lakers. Every scenario has been shot down from one side or another and the pretty constant refrain has been that those two are not on the table for L.A., as they want to continue to compete for a championship. Yup, pretty clear those guys aren't going anywhere. 

Lost in all this was the question of whether Lamar Odom was on the table. According to the L.A. Times, he is.  
The Lakers tried to move up in Thursday's NBA draft by offering forward Lamar Odom to Minnesota for the Timberwolves' No. 2 overall pick, but Minnesota turned them down, according to two NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the trade talks. The Lakers wanted to use the No. 2 pick to select Arizona's forward Derrick Williams, the officials said.
via Lakers offer of Lamar Odom for No. 2 pick in NBA draft rejected by Timberwolves - latimes.com.

The apparent interest from the Lakers in Williams is somewhat confusing. Williams is not considered an out-of-this-world lock, he's not even the top player in the draft. He's older, and it's unclear if he'd fit in with the kind of alpha dog mentality he'd have to face from Kobe Bryant. On the flip side, it may show a dedication to keeping the Lakers relevant beyond just the current team's run, as Williams would inherit the team from Bryant just as Bryant inherited... okay, won the team in a cage match with Shaq. It would be very Lakers-like to turn a supporting component like Odom into next decade's star player just as the current team fades into a lesser state due to age.

But so far, it hasn't been enough. The Wolves were the one to reportedly reject the trade, because they feel Odom's a power forward and that position is committed to Kevin Love. Why they wouldn't employ Odom as a small forward in given situations is a little baffling, but again, it's the Wolves. You glean what you can.

Still, Odom being on the block means there have been rumors about all three of the Lakers' primary frontcourt assets. As much as the Lakers keep selling the idea that it's buisness as usual and they're in no rush to remake the team through a trade, the grapevine tells a different story.
Posted on: June 20, 2011 3:40 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 3:40 pm
 

Your 'Insane Timberwolves Rumor' roundup

Posted by Matt Moore

Only with the Timberwolves would a No.2 overall pick be considered a burden. But that's the case as just as soon as the Wolves found their spot in the lottery, rumors of them trying to trade it sprang to life. And as Thursday's draft inches ever closer, they've gotten out of control. They're multiplying like Gremlins. Seriously, if you see one, don't feed it after midnight. Here's what we've got. These are rumors and should be viewed with skepticism, but they pass the "okay, that's not so absurd it's laughable"/"that can't possibly work under the current CBA" test. 


Pau Gasol for Kevin Love and the No.2.  Yeah, that's what you call a blockbuster deal. It sounds insane, until you think about it. The Wolves do want an established star. Gasol is buds with Rubio out of Spain. The Lakers have been frustrated with Gasol and Love would rebound and hit threes while not challenging Bryant. Then you think about it some more and it's still completely insane. Eric Pincus of Hoopsworld floated some substantiation of the idea touched on by ESPN in a chat session about Gasol being on the Wolves' radar. Respected cap analyst Larry Coon tweeted over the weekend that there "may be some fire" there. Coon also said Love and the No.2 is too much, and that Love has not been put on the table. The big thing here is that moving Gasol means risking the championship window which is assuredly still open as long as Gasol is still within range of his prime, which he is, though the distance is increasing. Plus Love's poor defense could be a big issue under Mike Brown. But there's a decent around of smoke around this one, even if the flames seem plastic.

Here's a fun one. The ESPN radio affiliate out of Minneapolis reported over the weekend that conversations had taken place between the Wolves and Bucks, sending the No.2 pick for Andrew Bogut and the No.10 pick. Darren Wolfson of local television confirmed the report and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says it's possible, but Milwaukee isn't biting. If Milwaukee were chasing the deal, it would mean that something was seriously wrong with Bogut's wrist, which would probably kill the trade in a physical anyway. And with Darko Milicic on the books for four more years, the deal only gets more confusing.

Weirdly, the one established player who the Wolves could use who is on the block, and the one team that could use the No.2 as a building block in starting over is Monta Ellis and the Golden State Warriors. But while it makes a lot of sense, there's no one biting, so far. 

Thankfully a rumor that had Washington offering up JaVale McGee was shot down by the Washington Post. Trying to imagine McGee in the Minnesota winter trying to clown around with Ricky Rubio while Kevin Love cries at his locker was a little much to take in as a mental image. 

Posted on: May 25, 2011 6:19 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 7:41 pm
 

Lakers' decisions reflect a season of change

The Lakers' front office is taking on a new direction under Jerry Buss' son, Jim Buss. Changes are happening all over the NBA, and the Lakers are no exception. Will a new course of action lead to the old standard of championships for the purple and gold? 

Posted by Matt Moore




The Celtics and Lakers? Gone from the secound round with only a single win between them. The Spurs? Closed out in the first round by Memphis (Memphis!).  Derrick Rose won the MVP at 22 years of age, Kevin Durant was the scoring champion and both of them made the Conference Finals. Those Conference Finals? They featured exactly zero of the following: Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Pau Gasol, or Steve Nash (or Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, or Carmelo Anthony, but don't interupt me, I'm rolling). 

Things are changing in the NBA. There's a lockout on the horizon which will dramatically shift the course of how business is done in the league, new superpowers are taking shape as an era of collaborative superstardom takes hold, and LeBron James is clutch. It's a terrifying new world out there. 

And right in line with those changes is what we've seen from the Los Angeles Lakers both in their dismal collapse to end their chance at a three-peat and  in their decision to hire Mike Brown as their new head coach after Phil Jackson rode off into the peyote sunset. 

Let's begin with a story reviewing the coaching search process five days ago on May 19th in the Los Angeles Times

The Lakers were once the managerial gold standard, with Jerry Buss' vision and Jerry West as in-house legend and basketball boss of bosses.

Now Buss defers largely to his son Jim, who, let's hope, checks with West's protege, Kupchak.

Not surprisingly, given Jim's inclinations — remember bringing Rudy Tomjanovich out of retirement as the game's highest-paid coach in 2004? — this started as a star search.
via Coach selection, and the Lakers' future, is in owners' hands - Los Angeles Times.

Where once Jerry Buss, the most influential owner of the past thirty plus years, handled the mechanics of keeping the Lakers high-powered star factory pumping out championship gold for Buss to enjoy while he wrapped his arms around his younger friends, now the son is trying to establish himself as "the man in charge." The younger Buss has been the key decision maker for a while, but this represents more than just a "business as usual" handling of the Lakers' day-to-day operations or short-term evaluations.  The change here is not just one of replacing a Hall of Fame coach with a respected, though resume-questionable coach. It's a move away in a systemic approach.

Consider that Brian Shaw is right there. A nice, safe continuation of the success the Lakers have enjoyed over the past four seasons. The Triangle offense, the familiarity with the players, the cool comfort of continuity. And Jim Buss completely swerved away from all of that. Rick Adelman was right there. The coach with the best resume, the best track record, a similar offensive approach as the Lakers have been operating under. A star-worthy coach for a franchise that has always accepted nothing but the best. And Jim Buss and Kupchak elected to pass over the best coach on the market.

The reasons will be myriad as to why this was a good hire, but nothing as forthright and easy to point to as defense. Dallas shot the lights out to put the Lakers underground, so the tactical response is to bring in a defensive general to fortify the paint. The offense will sort itself out, right? Except this isn't a team with great natural chemistry and ball movement offensively. It never has been. Kobe Bryant has always been the tiger trying to bust out of the Triangle's cage. Yes, Pau Gasol operated well in the corner system but how will he respond to having to freelance more and make more decisions with increased pressure after this season's epic collapse. Is a looser construct really what's going to be best for Ron Artest, he who Staples screams "No!" whenever he pauses to consider a three? And at its core, do you want Bryant, who continues to show signs of the inevitable downslide of aging and a stubborn refusal to adapt his game, or his field goal attempts, accordingly, free to do as he pleases? 

But then, Bryant in particular is of note in this story. Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated reported on Wednesday:
 
The source close to the Lakers told SI.com that Kobe Bryant was "surprised" by the news of the team's interest in Brown late Tuesday, and that he was not a part of the decision-making process. Bryant had been a staunch supporter of Lakers assistant Brian Shaw for the position.

via Lakers name Mike Brown new head coach - Sam Amick - SI.com.

The star, the Hall of Famer, the next statue, and he's not consulted on the coach that will be in charge for his final years, presumably? That's a deviation from the standard, and a slap in the face. The Lakers shouldn't require Kobe Bryant's permission, approval, or support to hire Mike Brown. But to not even factor that into the decision making?

There's a clear step being made here by Jim Buss to head away from the last few years which saw Jackson, while dating Buss' sister Jeanie, running the show from high atop the special chair. Not hiring Shaw, not consulting Bryant, signing Brown to a four-year deal which guarantees Brown will be around at least through two more years (anything more is too much salary to surrender in dead money in the event of a firing). There's a very clear indication that Jim Buss is trying to make a statement of his own and show that his vision is just as good, if different from his father's. 

You'd almost wonder if he hasn't been incepted, or something, with this series of decisions.

Is Mike Brown a good coach? Absolutely. In Atlanta (yes, this is assuming a coach who had the Bulls offer him everything but Derrick Rose in the way of a chance to win is fired eventually), he would have been great. In Houston, he would have taken a talented veteran group and overachieved with defense. In Golden State, even, he likely would have given them the defensive personality to make the playoffs. His defensive chops cannot be questioned. But this is a coach who could not contain LeBron James. Granted, no one can, but that was a player with no real reason to believe he knew better. What's going to happen when Brown walks into a wary room of veterans who have won two championships with arguably the greatest coach of all time and who now are being told to listen to the guy who "couldn't win with LeBron" as ridiculous as that accusation is?

The Lakers are moving forward. There's new management at the top. There's new coaching on the sideline. But the roster remains the same, a versatile, talented, if boneheaded group of stars trying to fit together in the greatest reality show on Earth. And Mike Brown just moved into Crazy Town. We'll see if all this change means a move towards the tradition the Lakers value most: championships. 

Posted on: May 20, 2011 9:04 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2011 9:09 pm
 

Pau Gasol: 'I collapsed' in NBA playoffs

Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol says he "collapsed" during the NBA playoffs. Posted by Ben Golliver. pau-gasol

What a month for Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol.

On the court, Gasol averaged a career-low 13.1 points per game in this year's playoffs and the Lakers were swept out of the second round by the Dallas Mavericks. Off the court, vicious rumors involving his personal life swirled around the team, to the point where guard Shannon Brown issued a public denial of a sexual relationship with Gasol's girlfriend.

In an interview with Spanish website Marca, translated by HoopsHype.com, Gasol admits that the situations overwhelmed him.
"It wasn't about self-esteem. It wasn't about confidence. I collapsed. I was exhausted a little bit too. It hasn't been a lack of confidence."

"A journalist from here told me that I'm an easy target. I'm polite, I'm a foreigner and I treat people with respect. Because I'm polite and a good person I'm an easy target. The lies about my personal life have affected me."
That's a pretty damning, soul-searching admission by Gasol, who should know by now, after spending four seasons in Los Angeles, that the paparazzi and society's obsession with celebrity are a part of the job description for every Laker. 

To his credit, Gasol doesn't duck from the Heat, accepting full responsibility for his off play.
"My goal is to help my team to win and since I haven't done that, I have failed."
Injuries and physical struggles can be frustrating for fans, but there's nothing worse than when a key player battles mental struggles, whether it's doubt or pure distraction. How are Lakers fans supposed to interpret these comments? What's the proper reaction? Rage? Compassion? Demand that he be traded?

We can be sure Gasol will bounce back in the future -- he couldn't play much worse than he did in the playoffs, at least not until he's significantly older -- but his no-show in the playoffs, and this explanation, won't quickly be forgotten. If you're Kobe Bryant, entering the final extended chapter of your career, are you able to give Gasol a pass? If you're the new Lakers coach, whoever that might be, do you have any idea how much you can count on Gasol in the future? 

The easy explanation: a collapse was inevitable given three straight grueling trips to the NBA Finals and extra time away from the game should help revitalize both body and mind. We won't know if that's the correct explanation until the full strobe light of pressure is shining on Gasol again. In the meantime, hopefully he gets his house in order.
Category: NBA
 
 
 
 
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