NBA RUMOR MILL – Dealing With Carlos
The Rumor Mill is updated every week, and covers the latest NBA trade rumors, NBA news and commentary from in and around the National Basketball Association.¿0a¿0a
RUMOR HAS IT…
In this weeks section geared exclusively towards the latest rumors floating around… “Rumor Has It…” ¿0a
IT ISN’T STAN: The prevailing thought coming out of Miami was that several of the more “experienced” players acquired this summer did not like Stan Van Gundy, and the lack of unity in Miami was a result of it. This week it was clarified after Antoine Walker’s little blow up at Jason Williams, what the real story is. According to well placed sources inside the HEAT, the problems occurring have more to do with the players than Stan. The HEAT run one of the most professional basketball programs in the country, a program that is truly a model for how NBA teams should be ran from an operations point of view – HEAT players have a very strict schedule and routine, all possible distractions are removed – giving their players the best environment to learn and prepare – this very regimented process works for players who desire structure, and players who can excel in a structured environment, typically excel in Miami. Now enter, players who have not had much structure in their professional career, and they are having issues fitting into the “structure” – one source said Antoine Walker is the guy having the hardest time with Miami’s program, while Jason Williams seems to have fit right in. So while the media has latched on to, how long does Stan have stories? – The truth is Stan is running the exact same program that Pat Riley would run, and Riley is more than pleased with how Stan is handling things, he just sees that maybe some of his guys have not bought into to what it takes to be a true professional in Miami, and that’s where the HEAT are at. It is rumored that Walker was talked to – and told if he did not want to be part of the Miami system, they’d be more than happy to send him elsewhere.¿0a
MARBURY THE BLAME: You can’t have a $112 million payroll, have a $60 million coach and be 0-5. So someone has to carry the blame, and this week it was Stephon Marbury – rumors began to circulate this week suggesting that Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas had made it known the club would entertain offers on Steph. Stephon says he spoke with Larry Brown, who told him not to worry about the rumors, it came with losing. Isiah Thomas continues to profess his love for Stephon, trying to cool the fires on the rumor. The problem is neither have denied that Steph has been mentioned in trade talks. According to one source near the Knicks situation – it seems incoming calls started the discussion – with a few teams inquiring about Knicks roster parts, where Steph’s name was mentioned to more than a few incoming suitors. A few teams have been mentioned in the press, such as Atlanta and Toronto. The Hawks have no interest in Steph, keep in mind Larry Brown is not getting what he needs out of Steph in New York – its highly unlikely Mike Woodson, LB’s former lead assistant, and Herb Brown, LB’s brother take on cast off parts from Larry Brown. The Raptors are cool to the idea of trading for Stephon, despite needing something to jump start the rebuilding – its believed Jalen Rose could be had for Stephon, but there is real concern that Steph would publicly blast a trade to Toronto, and not become the franchise player Toronto is seeking, rather become another high priced player they can not market.¿0a
DEALING WITH CARLOS: Isn’t it ironic that Carlos Boozer has not played in a Utah Jazz game that counts, since February of last year, two days after Jazz owner Larry Miller questioned Boozers’ durability and toughness. Its rumored Carlos will be ready to go in a few days – but the Jazz are about finished with Carlos according to one league source. With Mehmet Okur continuing to lead the Jazz in scoring and rebounding, minutes for Boozer seem scarce. It’s believed the Jazz will roll Boozer out to prove he’s healthy – but he’s not going to get the kind of minutes thrown at him last year, and he is expected to be traded before the trade deadline in February – if anyone will take him, which is of real concern to the Jazz.¿0a
LATRELL NEEDS A JOB: Latrell almost had a job – The Orlando Magic were willing to sign him to a one year guaranteed deal at the NBA minimum – problem is Latrell wanted a two year deal, apparently his agent claimed that they had gotten two year offers from other teams and that it would take a two year deal to get Spree in Orlando – the Magic passed. One of the teams rumored to have been mentioned was the Cavaliers, who bluntly explained to the press – they had never spoken with Spree’s agent, and had no interest in adding another swing player. The Denver Nuggets continue to be mentioned, as they have a glaring need at the two spot, its believed the Nuggets may offer their medical exception from injured forward Nene to Spree, but again that would be a one year deal. You gotta wonder – who’s feeding Sprewell’s family now?¿0a
SAM AND ROB: Wow have things in Toronto gone that bad? A well placed Raptors source explained some of the back story going on in Toronto – apparently Sam Mitchell has been leading a campaign to get to know the principal operators of the Raptors, and has spent a large amount of time on the phone and in private meetings with high ranking Raptor personalities, the results of this “campaign” seems to be Sam distancing himself from GM Rob Babcock, who could be fired any day. Apparently ownership has soured on Babcock’s manner and with the appearance of his coach distancing himself from the situation, Babcock may find himself outside looking in at the coach he hand picked, under the belief he could control him. Sam apparently joked with a group of reporters who asked if a trade could be coming, where Sam replied, he couldn’t get a trade done, even if he wanted to. The marriage in Toronto seems to be coming to an end; the question becomes who keeps the house after the split?¿0a
VLADE AND THE SONICS: Vladimir Radmanovic’s displeasure with limited minutes in Seattle is no surprise – Vlade was never Bob Weiss’ favorite player, so now that Bob is calling the shots, its no surprise Vlade is sitting more than he’s playing. That said, Vlade is trying to get a new contract and knows if he doesn’t get minutes, he doesn’t get paid – hence the public nature of the discussion – what could work in Vlade’s favor is Bob Weiss being fired, which according to some is possible – although unlikely, but there is a growing sentiment among media covering the Sonics, that ownership will not waste the season and some $50 million in player salary, if Weiss is not the guy. Paul Silas has been mentioned as a possible mid-season replacement.¿0a
GETTING BACK IN THE GAME: You gotta hand it to Peter Vecsey, he is working harder than anyone in the media lately, really trying to put his stamp back in the game – for years Pete simply waited for news to find him, and often times it was the same drivel, but in recent months several league sources say that Vecsey has been as active as anyone searching out the news, and that a large portion of the stuff he’s broken in 2005-2006, has been dead on – I have said for years that in the late 80’s and early 90’s Peter Vecsey was the standard in the rumors game – in the late 90’s he got lazy and self indulgent – it’s nice to see Pete back in the trenches breaking things open.¿0a
GIVE HIM SOME RESPECT
31 points… 6 rebounds… 5 assists… 41 minutes per game… Oh, and .500 basketball. Honestly, some respect is due for Kobe Bryant – he has single handedly led the Lakers to a .500 record, imagine how good this team could be when everyone else steps up. The most untold story of the off season was Kobe’s story – privately calling Andrew Bynum and inviting him to private workouts, spending countless hours talking with teammates and working on his body and his game. No one is giving Kobe credit for doing exactly what he said he’d do – fitting in with Phil Jackson and return to a dominate position in the NBA. Once his team catches up to him, the Lakers could be a playoff team – they are still a player or two shy of being solid, but Kobe is getting it done in a huge way. This off season a source close to Kobe confided that Kobe knew the only way to get his image back, to get his professional life straightened out was to win – and win convincingly, it was said Kobe knew that Phil could help him win games, and if it took living with Phil to get back in the groove, he’d do it – and you know he is doing it. Get him two more studs and the Lakers could be going places.¿0a
SIX AND OH!
Warm up the crow – and pass the butter… The Pistons are looking unstoppable. Scrap the belief that Flip Saunders was gonna change the way the Piston’s play; toss that idea out the window. If anything Flip has his guys playing better than they played under Larry Brown, and honestly they look better on both ends of the floor. Tayshaun Prince continues to kill guys on the wing and Richard Hamilton is playing some of the best basketball in the league. This off season more than a few players and coaches mentioned they were watching tape of Hamilton, which seemed odd at the time, but you’re starting to see that Rip is the proto-type for the new generation two guard, and he’s running guys to death. With so much of the Eastern Conference’s talent base living in the Central, the Piston’s commanding start could really change the way the Playoff picture falls, and until someone shows they can be beaten, forget San Antonio the Pistons are the best team in basketball.
Here are some of the random stories from the week…
- A NEW WRINKLE: The new collective bargaining agreement, created some “fun” new wrinkles, one of which is the creation of what we’ll call The Vlade Rule – Vladimir Radmanovic’s agent said his client would not ask for a trade from the Sonics just yet, causing most basketball pundits to say – he couldn’t ask for a trade as he took the Qualifying Offer from the Sonics this summer – Ahh, but the new wrinkle comes into play – in the new CBA, a player can be traded after accepting the Qualifying Offer, however the trade must be with the players consent, and the player then gives up his Veteran Player Rights (Larry Bird rights). Meaning if Vlade is traded, he can only be re-signed to the space that team has under the cap. Presently, Chicago, Toronto and Atlanta are positioned to have ample cap space in 2006, being traded anywhere else would cost Vlade millions.
- OVERWEIGHT AND UNHAPPY: When Jerome James made the deal with the New York Knicks this past summer, he left the restaurant shaking hands with Knick fans introducing himself as the new starting center for the Knicks – boy have things changed since July. James has averaged 6 minutes of playing time in the 4 games he’s competed in, and is the primary name mentioned when the Knicks explore trades – because of when he signed his contract with the Knicks, by rule, the earliest James can be dealt is on December 15th, and it seems the Knicks are looking to have a deal in place well in advance of that – possibly sending James to the Blazers for Rueben Patterson. James is said to be a tad on the pudgy side and has reportedly clashed with Isiah Thomas on his conditioning.
- RETURN OF THE MAC: Tracy McGrady returned to the lineup for the Rockets last night, hanging 35 points on the Nets. The growing concern around Houston is Tracy’s back and his knee which have been bothering him since camp opened. The Rockets will only go as far as their leader takes them and as their record shows, without McGrady the Rockets have some serious issues. There continues to be rumor that Houston is keeping tabs on Latrell Sprewell, but it may be more likely the Rockets make a move on Qyntel Woods, if the Cavs don’t grab him first.¿0a
- BIG EARL: Earl Watson has seen no action for the 2-4 Denver Nuggets, leading to some pretty nasty exchanges in the media, and a couple of closed door meetings with George Karl and GM Kiki Vandeweghe, the word from Denver is that the Nuggets will likely deal one of their point guards – Andre Miller, would likely return the best player or package – Earl Boykins would be the easiest guy to move as several teams covet him, and Earl Watson would be the logical guy dealt as they are not using him, but his $29 million contract makes that tough – but come December 15th, don’t be surprised to see him moved, specially if it returns a legit slashing two guard – one league source said don’t be surprised if Watson is dealt to Miami for Dorell Wright and Michael Doleac, a player the Nuggets are rumored to covet.