NBA RUMOR MILL – Disfunctional Denver
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
RUMOR HAS IT…
In this weeks section geared exclusively towards the latest rumors floating around… “Rumor Has It…” ¿0a
CHRIS BOSH OUT?: Its no surprise Chris Bosh hung 29 points last night for Toronto, the kid is an emerging star – but for Toronto, he may become another great player to have “played” in Toronto. A source close to the Raptors suggested this week that there was growing concern within the organization that Chris Bosh is not retainable long term. Bosh himself refuses to engage that discussion and professes a commitment to Toronto, but there is sentiment around the team and in the media that says the Raptors may have to choose between Bosh and rookie Charlie Villanueva, both excel at the 4 spot. Bosh is eligible for restricted free agency in two years, so there is time for things to shake into form, but if the rumor is you won’t keep both and Toronto remains a 16% win team, Could Chris be one of the guys traded to help rebuild? That’s what’s been suggested – especially if it returns a real star caliber player.¿0a
DISFUNCTIONAL DENVER: WOW have the wheels fallen off the Nuggets bandwagon – there are some serious issues taking form in Denver, and some of them are injury related, and others are personality related. Voshon Lenard has made it clear he wants to play or be traded, and simply does not see how things get better for him in Denver – The Nuggets have been talking with teams, Miami looks like the suitor that nabs Voshon. Nene is shelved for the year, and sources near the Nuggets say Kenyon Martin is gonna have to have micro-fracture at some point to fix his ailing knee. Carmelo Anthony has not improved as much as expected and the team still has a glutton at the point guard position, add that to a General Manager on his way out, and the chemistry in Denver is combustible to say the least. A well placed source in Denver confirmed the contract situation with the Nuggets and GM Kiki Vandeweghe – Kiki is making just a shade under $1 million a season, and feels he’s earned his way into the more elite stature of upper tier GM’s and has sought a guaranteed multi-year $2.5 million a season deal. The Nuggets agree that Kiki has done a lot in his time with the Nuggets, and was offered a deal starting at just under $2 million a season – The thought process was Kiki did a great job and deserves a sizable increase, but the Nuggets still have not won a championship or even gotten deep into the playoffs, so the Nuggets obviously are not gonna pay “Championship wages” to their GM – that added to a series of questionable personnel moves, especially related to the draft – Kiki is apparently not viewed as such the Golden Boy, he seems to think he is. Apparently the decision by Kiki’s agent to bring the contract discussions to the press soured Stan Kroenke on Kiki even more, and the talks were called off. The Nuggets apparently expected a touch of loyalty from Kiki, after all they plucked him from obscurity and gave him a chance, they were willing to double his deal and let him continue to rebuild the Nuggets, but Kiki apparently wanted more and the Nuggets were not willing to go that far. The word is they will revisit the situation this summer. ¿0a
RUBEN: Ruben Patterson has two years remaining on his deal, and sources next the Blazers say they were prepared to suspend Ruben without pay indefinitely if he did not agree to return to the team and be a good camper. Ruben was sent home during the road trip, and had issued a number of statements to the press saying he “expected” to play 25 minute a game, or he would not come back to the team. Apparently the Blazers made it clear, they’d have no problem keeping Ruben’s remaining $10 million and letting him sit at home for the next 18 months. They also made it clear to Ruben that the only way they could trade him is if he returned to the team, and played good little solider. Ruben apparently had to sign a letter of agreement, in which he was clearly prohibited from comments to the media about playing time; he must also report to practice on-time and participate, or face sever fines and penalties. Chalk one up for the Blazers, they are not having it with Ruben.¿0a
UNHAPPY JOE JOHNSON: Joe Johnson is not happy – Those that had a chance to interview Joe last year have commented, that the Johnson in Atlanta is not the Johnson from Phoenix, who can blame him… the Hawks are coming apart at the seams and Joe is roped into them for the next 5 years… Sources near the Hawks confess that things inside the locker room are bad, and getting worse, apparently several players do not get along, and the coaches are often seen bickering with players, who give poor performance in practice, and often freelance in games trying to get numbers, rather than play within the offense. The source commented that as good as Mike Woodson and Herb Brown are as coaches, they clearly do not command the respect of the players and its believed a coaching change will have to be made this summer as this situation is clearly not working… Who can blame Joe Johnson for being unhappy, he’s in a dysfunctional home.¿0a
OK IS OK…
Oklahoma City is surprising a lot of pundits, not only because they have a competitive team with the 8-8 Hornets and could seriously contend for a bottom seat in the playoffs, but because of how well the club is doing in the City from a business point of view. As of 27th of November, Oklahoma City is tied with Cleveland at #7 for the best home attendance record with an average of 18,666 per game, better than NBA powerhouses New York, Sacramento, and Phoenix – who have always played to capacity crowds. The Hornets averaged less than 14,221 last year in New Orleans, despite a hefty amount of support from the city and state, who were obligated to buy blocks of tickets with public monies. It’s easy to understand why the NBA wants to stand behind the Hornets moving back to New Orleans – it’s the right moral thing to do, but a gift like the one the NBA stumbled upon in Oklahoma City only comes along once in a blue moon, and it would be silly to uproot a franchise having success and park it back in New Orleans, where it was a dog to begin with, and then face the uphill challenge of trying rebuild a fan base while New Orleans is reconstructed, which could take a decade, not to mention the bulk of the serious season ticket holder have left the region and there is no guarantee they will be back. Sentiment aside. Its nice to say we’ll be back, but in four years when the Hornets are dying from lack of support and want to relocate again, you don’t think Oklahoma City is gonna take them in a second time, and the NBA has already said, it’s not gonna share the franchise between two cities for long.
The NBA sent out a memo last week to all the teams Thursday stating why Nuggets head coach George Karl was suspended and listing the quotes that got Karl suspended. The memo delivered by Fax, also stated the Nuggets were fined and that similar actions from any team representative would result in similar punishment. NBA vice president Stu Jackson told the Denver Post “Any time a coach, a player or a participant in a game or a representative of a franchise criticizes the integrity of our product that is a matter that is going to be considered very seriously at the league office.” Lets be clear on a couple of important points – First, Officials in the NBA are reviewed by the NBA and their peers after every game, and each game is scored on how well an official calls the game, and officials that do not maintain a 95% average do not stay in the league. Officials are calling games to protect their careers and future, not some hidden agenda. Second, The human element, or the subjective nature of the human element is a part of the game, its as important as clock management, play calling and athleticism – the officials have a tough job, a job most of us could never do anywhere close to as effectively or efficiently as NBA officials do, which is why it is so absurd to heard people say the game is “fixed” or that the “NBA wanted so-and-so team to win”. The NBA is not that organized – in fact the NBA is lucky it can pull off a game at all, let alone arrange the outcome through officiating – yes some officials are better than others, and yes some officials pay closer attention to some players than others – that again becomes the human element that is part of the game, just as much as trash talking has become part of it – if you can gain just that extra second on a guy because he’s fixated on what you said about his mother, and you can blow by him, that’s part of the game, just as much as whining at an official or submitting a video tape to the league – it’s the politics of basketball. The NBA should seriously fine any team or NBA employee that calls into question the results or outcome of a game, because its idiocy to believe the NBA benefits from the outcome of any game. If it ever came out in a legitimate way that “the fix was in”, what the NBA would lose globally, far outweighs what it could gain, would the marketing folks love to see the Lakers and Knicks in a Game 7, NBA Finals? Absolutely, but marketing is not in charge of game operations – the NBA must maintain that its games are legit and their officials are impartial at any cost, not only because they are – but because the image of a tainted league kills the product, Coach Karl knows that, he was simply frustrated… Jeff Van Gundy knew that last year, he too was simply frustrated. The NBA Game is not perfect, and officiating could surely be improved (add a fourth official!), but there is no way the NBA can allow anyone to cast doubt in the integrity of officiating.
Here are some of the random stories from the week…
- JUST LOOKING: The Rockets had some players in for workouts this, including a couple of D-Leaguers Vonteego Cummings, forward Ime Udoka, and forward Matt Walsh who was released by the Miami Heat. Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson told the Houston Chronicle that the workouts were routine and that no moves are imminent with the roster already at the maximum 15 players. Rumor has it Walsh may be re-signed by Miami once they can clear a roster spot, presumably when they trade Michael Doleac.
- KNICKS OPEN A SEAT: The New York Knicks cut Matt Barnes, presumably to open a roster spot for future roster changes. The rumors of George Lynch heading to the Knicks seem unlikely apparently Larry Brown told Lynch, he was not going to fight for him with Isiah Thomas, who was cold to the idea of Lynch being a Knick. The Knicks now have some flexibility to make a move; they are expected to trade Jerome James in the coming weeks.
- TOO LONG IN THE SHORT: The NBA is back at it, fining players $10,000 a pop for wearing their shorts too long, several season ago this made the news, as players got far too baggy. This season more than a dozen players have been whacked for wearing shorts that did not meet the “one-inch above the knee” rule. The NBA has an “official” that watches the entire game and gives a detailed report, including the number of on duty security, the overall condition of the arena, and all of the details of a game including cheerleader routines and in game music volume – these representatives are the ones taking note of long shorts and they are cracking down. Several NBA players including Allen Iverson are filing a grievance against the league seeking the return of the fines, but the NBA’s stance is that each team is responsible for insuring their players meet the uniform requirements before they step on to the floor. Several teams are pointing the blame back on Reebok, the official uniform supplier, saying Reebok should measure their players and insure the uniforms meet the NBA requirements before they are shipped to the players.