Frank Isola of The New York Daily News: “Donnie Walsh is on the verge of correcting one of Isiah Thomas’ biggest financial mistakes. Walsh, the Knicks president, confirmed Saturday that the Knicks are in talks with the Memphis Grizzlies about a possible deal for Zach Randolph, the veteran power forward who doesn’t fit into Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offense. “There is no deal,” Walsh said over the telephone early Saturday. “We’ve spoken to Memphis but there is nothing happening so far.”"
Tom Ziller of AOL NBA FanHouse: “The Darko & Marko package isn’t completely clear in 2010: Jaric makes $7.6 million in 2010-11. That still saves New York almost $10 million that summer, and — without accounting for David Lee, Nate Robinson and Mardy Collins, who will all be free agents in the next couple years — that’s almost enough to free up the Knicks for a max contract in the vaunted summer of ‘10. The targeted max players of ‘10 — LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Amare — will draw starting salaries of $20 million. With this deal (and again, no new deals for the free agents) the Knicks will sit about $15-16 million under the cap in ‘10.”
Oly Sandor of HoopsVibe: “Swapping Randolph’s three year, 48 million dollar pact for Milicic’s two year, 15 million dollar deal and Jaric’s three year, 21 million dollar contract saves money long-term. But talent also matters. For example, James won’t sign in New York if his supporting cast is sub par, especially with ‘Redeem’ Team co-star Dwyane Wade scheming on a collaboration. Perhaps, the Knicks want financial flexibility and good young players in return for Randolph. With this deal, they’d only be getting cap space. After all, Milicic’s contract will have expired by 2010 and the only talent in Jaric’s game is, well, his model wife. To sign James, the club must walk a fine line. They must slash payroll, while also finding enough decent teammates to reel-in Cleveland’s superstar. It’s a tricky balancing act for Walsh and the suits at MSG.”
Alan Hahn of NewsDay: “Walsh likes the idea of getting Darko Milicic back in the trade because of Milicic’s shot-blocking ability He has averaged 1.3 per game in the NBA and he does possess a good shooting touch. Could you play him at the four? Possibly. Could you play him with Eddy Curry? Here and there, maybe, but not often. Randolph’s departure could be a major bonus for David Lee, who could move into the starting position at the four. Lee and Curry aren’t going to dominate anyone on the defensive end, but Lee’s rebounding ability makes up for Randolph’s departure. He’s not nearly the scorer that Z-Bo is so Lee is aware he has to prove he can make that mid-range, baseline and elbow jumper consistently to be effective.”
The Blowtorch: Zach Randolph Calls Darrell Arthur
Lakers Blog: “Recently, BK and I did a video clip about the glowing coverage of Kobe Bryant’s Olympics and how the notion that Kobe still stirs mostly negative feelings, whether from non-Laker fans or the media, is something of an outdated concept. As BK put it, “Perception not quite catching up to reality.” Yes, detractors remain (as is the case for all athletes), but on the obvious whole, Kobe’s image and coverage over the last few years (and particularly in 2008) has grown predominantly positive. Well, AOL sports recently put up a poll asking people to crown a winner among “The 50 Most Hated Sports Figures,” a list ranging from athletes to coaches to Chris Berman. Guess who didn’t make the cut. That’s right: Dwayne Mitchell. Or Kobe, for that matter. Which kind of emphasizes what we were saying. Nobody claims that literally no reporter or fan harbors a dislike for Kobe or sees him entirely as the early decade “version” (or “perception,” depending on your take). But the tide is undoubtedly turning, which is a good thing.”
Art Thompson III of the Orange County Register: “Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has announced that Monday he will specify the date he intends to undergo surgery to repair ligament damage in his right pinky finger. Bryant plans to reveal the news on his website kb24.com. Laker followers have been awaiting this announcement ever since Bryant decided to postpone having surgery until after the Beijing Olympics, where last month he helped lead Team USA to a gold medal. The surgery will be performed to repair a torn ligament and an avulsion fracture in Bryant’s right pinky.”
Steve Springer of The Los Angeles Times: “The smile is back on his face, the sparkle is back in his eyes and, most important, the bounce is back in his step. Nearly eight months after Andrew Bynum suffered a major injury to his left knee, less than four months after undergoing arthroscopic surgery, 2 1/2 months after finishing his rehabilitation in New York and after six weeks of vigorous training in Atlanta, he declared himself fit to return and eager to proceed.”
Lakers.com: Video of Andrew Bynum’s press conference
DaBullz: “Why would the Raymond Brothers start a rumor that Ben Gordon is being offered less to play in Russia than he is by the Bulls? That only hurts Gordon’s value and gives him absolutely no leverage against the Bulls. Raymond Brothers can’t be that dumb, otherwise they wouldn’t have the clients they do today. This type of story, however, would serve the agenda of Jerry Reindsorf and the Bulls front office quite well. This type of story damages Gordon’s value, even if the Greek story were to not be refuted later. The refutation by the general manager of CSKA Moscow only ensured that Gordon came out looking like a fool.”
Empty the Bench: Stephon Marbury Doing the Humpty-Hump Dance [Photo]
FoxSports blogger Tom7: Twenty wishes for an NBA utopia
Frank Dell’Apa of The Boston Globe: “Ainge was not surprised about Walker’s involvement in contract talks. “We didn’t talk with Billy directly, but we talked to his people, and they had counsel and legal help,” Ainge said. “It’s not that complicated. Gilbert Arenas just did his for $120 million.” In fact, Walker seemed to savor the opportunity to be involved. “I pretty much learned everything I could, read anything I could get my hands on,” Walker said. “I ask a lot of questions. If I’m going to the bank, I ask a lot of questions. “It’s not as hard as it seems, as people make it out to be. If you just stop being lazy and just read [the contract], it’s that simple. I had some consulting, but for the most part, it’s reading and deciphering the words, take some time and go through every word of the contract.”"
The Wages of Wins Journal: “In Shaq’s first two years – and in Miami in the first part of 2007-08 – his teammates were below average. In every other season, though, O’Neal was able to play with above average teammates. In fact in nine seasons his teammates WP48 surpassed the 0.100 mark. Above average teammates was also the norm for Robinson, but only after Tim Duncan arrived in 1997. Prior to Duncan’s arrival, Robinson’s teammates posted an average WP48 of 0.076. In other words, unlike Shaq, for much of his career Robinson did not have an exceptional team around him. As a consequence, Robinson’s teams did not win as often as the team’s employing Shaq. And one suspects – like we saw with Kevin Garnett before he arrived in Boston – the failings of Robinson’s teammates dimmed the perceptions of the Admiral’s performance. As I have noted in the past, the purpose of player statistics is to separate a player from his teammates. In other words, the analysis of player statistics should prevent us from confusing the performance of the team from the performance of the player. And when we look at all the stats – including Shaq’s woeful performance at the line – it appears that despite the edge in championships, awards, and money, Shaq is not quite as productive as The Admiral.”
Bruce Jenkins of The San Francisco Chronicle: “When Jackson joined the Warriors, you wouldn’t have wanted him in charge of the laundry, let alone the team. Hell, with his history, he was lucky to be in the league. But the man comes from good stock, and he proved that with his stone-faced authority, locker-room command and thirst for the big shot. Just to look at Jackson, you recoil in respect – while Ellis strikes you as someone’s little brother. If the latest reports are true, about the cuts and abrasions and a torn deltoid ligament that doesn’t remind anyone of a basketball injury, then Ellis has a severe credibility problem.”
Jason Friedman of Rockets.com: “Now that the campaign is underway, get ready to see red everywhere you go – on billboards, TV and, the internet. As you can see, Rockets.com has already undergone the transformation to a bolder, cleaner and, yes, redder look. Of course, all of this is only the beginning. Far grander plans will be unveiled as Rockets fever continues to spread. “Opening night is going to be uber-redified,” says Sheirr. “You’re going to see red everywhere – signs, t-shirts, napkins, everything. The players are going to be wearing their road red which we’ve never done in this arena. We’re going to try to break the world record for most painted faces in a single venue. We’re actually going to have a Guinness official here.””
Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune: “The question is if they can do it and still come in under the NBA’s luxury-tax threshold. The Jazz already have committed more than $44 million to Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur and Matt Harpring for the 2009-10 season. That’s the first season Williams’ extension would kick in, paying him in excess of $13 million a year. The NBA’s luxury-tax threshold this season is $67.865 million, and the Jazz have no intention of someday paying the dollar-for-dollar penalty for exceeding it. Can the Jazz come in under the tax threshold while signing Williams to a mega-money extension and still keeping the core of their Western Conference finals team together?”
Frank Dell’Apa of The Boston Globe: “Richard Burton was there when Patrick Ewing first bounced a basketball as a teenager in Cambridge and he will be there when Ewing is inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield today. Burton was the first person to recruit Ewing to play basketball, though only for a pickup game. “A bunch of us Jamaicans used to hang out at Hoyt Field and we would see Patrick riding his bike all over the place,” Burton recalled this week. “One day, we wanted to play a full-court game, and we were short one player. I saw him on his bike and asked him if he wanted to play. I told him, ‘Listen, buddy, whenever you get the ball, get it to me and I’ll do the rest.’ He kind of liked it, and we started teaching him the rules and regulations, the basics of how to play. He just grew a little faster than all of us.”"
And One: Where will the ‘Redeem Teamers’ store their gold medals?
Childs Walker of The Baltimore Sun: “”There was no way we were missing a celebration like this,” said Inner Harbor East principal Beverly Manigo. One boy had tears in his eyes as he spoke with Anthony. That sent a shiver through the player’s mother, Mary Anthony. “It actually brings tears to my eyes to see the way they admire him,” she said, dabbing at her cheek. “It makes me proud to see him here because it’s something he doesn’t have to do, but it’s what he does.” The appearance was her first chance to see her son since he arrived home. She gave him a big hug and ran her hand across the gold medal. “It’s a little different,” Anthony said of returning to see his family with the gold medal around his neck. Asked whether he had Baltimore on his mind during his weeks in China, he said: “Got to be. At the end of the day, you don’t forget where you came from. I took Baltimore to Beijing with me, and now, I’m bringing Beijing back to Baltimore.” Anyone doubting Anthony’s love for his hometown need only peruse his tattoos, which include a Raven, an Oriole, the area code 410 and a WB for West Baltimore. The rec center in East Baltimore bears his name and continues as his chief charitable endeavor (Anthony contributes about $300,000 of the annual $500,000 budget).”
Sean Deveney of The Sporting News: “There are many others who know how Dantley feels, and the way things are shaping up for the Hall of Fame Class of 2009, they will likely continue to know how he feels at least until 2010. That’s because next year’s class already looks pretty well crammed, with three Hall of Fame shoo-ins: David Robinson, John Stockton and, of course, Michael Jordan. So it probably will be another year of disappointment for those who rank at the top of basketball’s close-but-no-cigar list. Which is too bad, because just as things were finally made right for Dantley this year, there are five guys that simply must be in the Hall of Fame after a long history of snubs.”