|Talking Hoops, Episode 8: Locked out with Tom Ziller||07.21.11 at 12:36 pm ET|
In the latest episode of Talking Hoops, WEEI.com’s Paul Flannery is joined by SB Nation NBA editor Tom Ziller to talk about the lockout, the Celtics new TV deal, competitive balance and the impact of Yao Ming.
Ziller also provides an update on the Sacramento Kings situation and makes a list of all the things he’s looking forward to next season — if there is a “next season,” of course.
|Lockout links: July 12||07.12.11 at 9:00 pm ET|
We’re almost two weeks into the NBA lockout and while there’s a whole lot of nothing happening on the labor front — no talks, no proposals, no urgency to get a deal done — the league hasn’t quite gone to sleep. Here’s a look at some of the news that’s been making the rounds while we sit around and wait.
ITEM: Minnesota fires Kurt Rambis
Minnesota finally got around to firing Rambis three weeks after it had been reported that that was the plan all along. It was an embarrassing situation for a franchise that has devolved into train-wreck vaudeville under general manager David Kahn.
Rambis may not have earned a third season after winning just 32 games over two seasons with an ill-fitting triangle offense and not even a hint of defense (his resistance to playing Kevin Love in his first season didn’t help matters either). That’s fine, but the way this played out was unnecessarily silly. (Read this Yahoo report on how Kahn tried to kick Rambis upstairs).
Now the Wolves need a new coach and here’s where it gets interesting. Up and coming assistant J.B. Bickerstaff has reportedly left for Houston, along with former college coach Kelvin Sampson, to join Kevin McHale‘s new coaching staff. But Yahoo reports that Bickerstaff’s father, veteran coach Bernie Bickerstaff, is in the mix.
Also mentioned is University of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, which is curious, and (shocker!) Don Nelson would be interested in coming out of retirement for a shot at the job. The jokes just write themselves.
Under normal circumstances, the Timberwolves would be an attractive opening as they have nowhere to go but up and a bevy of talented players including Love, rookie Derrick Williams and the mysterious Ricky Rubio. But then you remember that Kahn is calling the shots.
What was it that Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said as the lockout commenced?
“We need a sustainable business model that allows all 30 teams to be able to compete for a championship, fairly compensates our players, and provides teams, if well-managed, with an opportunity to be profitable.”
If well-managed. Right. Read the rest of this entry »
|Shaq video chronicles gruesome cast removal||07.08.11 at 1:56 pm ET|
For anyone who might think Shaquille O’Neal exaggerated the right Achilles tendon injury that kept him from all but 12 minutes of the 2010-11 NBA Playoffs, take a look at the foot-long surgical incision on his leg in the embedded video — pieced together from a series of videos he posted on Tout.
Apparently, Shaq underwent surgery on the Achilles in the month and change since he informed the Celtics that he would retire from the NBA after 19 seasons. He now sports a supportive boot, complete with a chrome lining.
During his retirement press conference, Shaq announced his final nickname — The Big AARP — laying his Superman, The Big Shamrock and countless other monikers to rest. Of course, he only lasted a little over a month before declaring yet another nickname as a result of the surgical staples you can see being removed from his calf and ankle: The Big Staple Center.
Both Shaq and girlfriend Nicole “Hoopz” Alexander hinted at more to come. First, Shaq said he’ll be hiding his removed cast somewhere and will provide clues to its location soon. And then Hoopz tweeted that she and Shaq will be driving to the West Coast and back in an RV. Kinda like “On the Road” but with Jack KerouShaq.
Let’s just hope Yao Ming follows a similar post-career path after Yahoo! Sports broke news of his retirement.
|Celtics free-agent options at center||06.27.11 at 6:46 pm ET|
Sure, the NBA is on the precipice of a July 1 lockout, but we can still examine what options will be available to the Celtics at each position once the salary cap landscape is determined (God knows when). We’ll start with the C’s biggest need: Centers.
The Celtics started the 2010-11 season with four centers on the roster (Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden) along with sometimes center Glen Davis. Now, a year later, only JO remains from that list. While Big Baby remains an option depending on his value on the open market, the C’s still need at least one if not two more guys who can play the five.
The Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Kevin Garnett, $21.2; Paul Pierce, $15.33; Ray Allen, $10; Rajon Rondo, $10; Jermaine O’Neal, $6.23; Avery Bradley, $1.53), and Jeff Green is due at least another $5.91 million this offseason. That leaves little wiggle room for Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, no matter how the collective bargaining agreement shakes out.
As a result, don’t expect any big-name free agents. So, let’s start by crossing Nene (early termination option), Marc Gasol ($4.5 million qualifying offer) and Tyson Chandler (unrestricted) off the list of potential targets. While any of those three would be a fantastic fit on the 2011-12 Celtics (assuming, of course, there’s a 2011-12 season in the NBA), they’re all out of their league.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at center, separating the current free-agent players into four categories …
|Celtics: Irish Coffee||10.06.10 at 10:04 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Are the Celtics “playing too much,” as Shaquille O’Neal says in this video? Talk about Hack-a-Shaq. Is it just me, or could Shaq have easily injured his back during this prank by Nate Robinson and Rajon Rondo? It’s not like Shaq is some 28-year-old, like Dwyane Wade, and even he got injured in the preseason. I know Rondo is used to getting knocked to the ground a handful of times every game, and I’m not sure if Robinson’s ever heard the phrase, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” But Shaq practically invented that saying, especially after this stunt. Listen, I’m all for the wacky Halloween dance videos and the old dump-salt-in-Shaq’s-water trick, but when these hijinks could potentially effect the team on the court, I think it’s gone a little too far.
QUOTES FROM AROUND THE NBA
Gilbert Arenas on John Wall: “I’m out there to hit open shots, teach John the ins-and-outs of the game and eventually go on and move on. And I’m on my way. This is the NBA, there are few players that stay in the same city. Right now, the city is John’s. I’m not here to fight anybody. I’m here to just play alongside of him. He’s Batman, and I’m Robin. I’m moving aside so he can become a star.”
(NOTE: Arenas is signed through 2014. Sounds kinda like he’s gonna be looking for a trade.)
Tracy McGrady on The Decision: “If I had the opportunity to team with someone like D-Wade — it’s about winning isn’t it? What everyone has a problem with is how LeBron did it. You shouldn’t do it that way. As far as him leaving, I’m happy for him. I hope they win 10 championships. I’m envious.”
(NOTE: I know you’re washed up, Tracy, but you’re still in the NBA. I’m pretty sure he just admitted the Pistons are going to be terrible, and he’d rather be playing in Miami.)
Jamario Moon on Cleveland life without LeBron: “It wasn’t strange at all, it’s home. We were anxious to get out there and show that basketball is still alive in Cleveland.”
(The NBA: Where delusion happens!)
Yao Ming on his return from injury: “I’m happy that I can get on the court and I can run. I was running without pain … and I think that’s a good first step.”
(Wait, it helps to actually get on the court and run in order to play basketball?)
DeMarcus Cousins on, well, I’m not sure: “I know I’m a big body as well. As well as I’m feeling them bump me, they’re feeling the exact same thing. That’s how I approach it. I feel you on that end; you’re going to feel me down on the other end.”
(I think I’m gonna stay away from this one. I also enjoyed his coach, Paul Westphal, admitting, “And if he ever gets in shape, he’ll really be able to do a lot.” Not what you want to hear.)
Mo Lester, mo problems for Mavs
I vaguely remember some caller phoning into WEEI last fall to declare, “Lester Hudson will challenge Rondo for the starting point guard spot.” At the time, I remember thinking, This guy’s a moron. I was right, of course. But maybe now that guy can point to Hudson’s game-winning 3-pointer against the Mavericks last night in a 97-94 Wizards win that saw Wall total 21 points and nine assists in his debut.
Bird nearly flew the coop?
In hopes of acquiring a high-profile coach in order to entice LeBron James to stay in Cleveland, the Cavaliers reached out to Larry Bird during their search to replace Mike Brown, according to ESPN.com.
“Bird did take the call,” sources told Marc Stein, “but quickly informed the Cavs that he had no interest in coaching again. Sources said Bird, 53, let Cleveland know that he wants to continue in his front-office work with the Pacers and that he has all but ruled out coaching again because of health and family reasons.”
I guess that rules out Bird as a replacement whenever Doc Rivers decides to hang it up, which could be any year now.
Carr steering the ship?
Maybe former Celtic Chris Carr could be that replacement in the wings. Carr, after all, became a head coach … of a girls basketball team in Minnesota? After averaging 4.8 points in 35 games with the C’s in 2000-01, Carr retired from the NBA. Since then, he started the 43 Hoops Basketball Academy in Hopkins, Minn., so he could mentor youth athletes. Yesterday, he accepted the head girls basketball coaching position at Eden Prairie (Minn.) High — in the same district his children attend school.
“Chris stood out during the interview process,” Eden Prairie athletic director Mike Grant told the Eden Prairie News. “One, he has the experience of having played at a very high level. Two, he has the experience of having played for a number of very talented coaches.”
Chris stood out during the interview process? You’re meaning to tell me that a 6-foot-6, 200-something pound former NBA player stood out while you were interview potential high school girls basketball coaches? You don’t say.
|Rondo returns from Nike camp in China||06.16.09 at 12:22 am ET|
While his name was being floated around in trade rumors, Rajon Rondo was overseas for Nike’s All Asia Camp in China. Rondo made the trip with another young point guard who turned heads in the posteason, Houston Rocket Aaron Brooks.
Rondo shared the details on his Yardbarker blog, including hitting the court with campers, immersing himself in a new culture, and dining with Yao Ming:
“Nihao. I just got back home from Beijing, China. I went over there for Nike’s All Asia Camp. Me and Aaron Brooks made the trip over there for Nike, and I have to admit that I was a little nervous about going because of the 13 hour flight. I don’t like to fly at all, so when I found out that the flight was 13 hours, I was a little hesitant. I’m really glad that I made the trip though-it turned out to be one of the best trips that I’ve ever taken. I got the chance to interact with the campers-I did drills, played some games, and coached the Asia Pacific team in the All-Star game (my team won). I also got to experience some of the city. I went shopping a couple of places, climbed the Great Wall, had an in store Nike appearance, and caught up with Yao for dinner one night.”
|Mutombo couldn’t wait for Celtics||01.07.09 at 5:13 pm ET|
Dikembe Mutombo wanted to play for the Boston Celtics. The problem is, he wasn’t sure how much the Celtics wanted him to play for them. Mutombo was on the list of rumored possible mid-season acquisitions and the big man was on board to play with the champs. But the Celtics weren’t ready to commit and Mutombo, 42, didn’t feel like waiting around any longer.
Prior to Tuesday’s Celtics-Rockets game, he explained why he went back to Houston on New Year’s Eve:
“In the last minutes, especially on the 24th and 25th, I was feeling like I was not the only one in the picture no more that they were looking at,” he said. “It kind of discouraged me a little bit. I said ok, I have about seven organizations here that want me and this organization that I want to go to, I thought they wanted me but they’re looking at somebody else. Should I be on the waiting list or should I just go take another offer that was there on the table? And I think by having a talk that night with Yao and T-Mac and calling me on the phone saying, please come on man. We want you here. I was like ok. Let me just go be with guys who are talking to me who want me to be part of their family than wait for the organization who are waiting on their decision making. I think they were in between. They were looking at, I heard about Alonzo (Mourning), then I heard about Joe Smith, then I heard about P.J. Brown. I was like ok, I’m not going to be in the middle of this. I just have to walk away the way I want to walk. I wanted to come to your cold city, but they did not want me.”
This is Mutombo’s 18th season in the NBA. He has a career average of 9.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.