Tag: NBA basketball
It took four teams, 11 other players, five draft picks and countless rounds of talks over many months, but the Lakers have finally got their big man: Dwight Howard was officially introduced as member of the LA Lakers. This certainly marks an end to what had been a very long and spiny relationship between the Orlando Magic and the best center in the NBA. The Orlando Magic have been working really hard on making big changes and a they will now face this season without their All-Star center and their previous head coach. It might take a while before the Magic becomes a serious threat to the dominance that the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics or the New York Knicks have had in the East Coast, but on the long haul this might be a good move for everyone. Particularly for the LA Lakers, who have certainly uplifted their rooster for this upcoming season.
As of press time, it is still uncertain what the details of Howard contract with the Lakers look like. For a very long time one of the main reasons why the Lakers and other teams who wanted to bring Howard with them was the players reluctance to sign a long-term contract. Over and over again Howard had insisted that he would only stay around for good if he ended up with the Brooklyn Nets. But it was evident that the Nets door closed a little too early and it was now a matter of time before the Lakers and the Magic figure out a way to make the transfer work. Now, let’s go ahead and give it a try.
This is sort of the blueprint of how this 11-player transaction played out. For starters, the Lakers youngster Andrew Bynum was sent by the Lakers to the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers sent Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets. Orlando got guard Arron Afflalo and forward Al Harrington from Denver and forward Moe Harkless and center Nikola Vucevic from Philadelphia and forward Josh McRoberts and guard Christian Eyenga from the Lakers. Now, evidently the Lakers got Dwight Howard, but in order to get things rolling they will also get guard Chris Duhon and forward Earl Clark from Orlando. Finally the Orlando Magic traded guard Jason Richardson to Philadelphia.
Now, that’s it in terms of players, but the transactions also included several other perks for the Orlando Magic. They will get a second-round draft pick from Denver next year, a first-round pick from either Denver or New York in 2014, a conditional first-round pick from Philadelphia and a conditional second-round pick from the Lakers in 2015, and a conditional first-round pick from the Lakers in 2017. Orlando also will have a $17.8 million trade exception to use over the next year. That should be enough to clear them plenty of space in the salary cap.
The big question is still whether Howards will sign a long term contract with the Lakers. “Right now, it’s about today and I’m here with the Lakers and that’s the only thing that matters,” Howard said in the press conference. “Whatever happens a year from now we’ll wait until that time. Right now, it’s all about the Lakers and me starting fresh. I’m happy to be here and that’s the only thing that matters now.”
Let’s break this one down. The fact is that Metta World Peace viciously smashed his elbow to the back of James Harden’s head in a game held between the LA Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder a couple of days ago. Harden was left with a head concussion and although he came back to the bench, he never got back to the game. Metta World Peace, after throwing the cheap shot, squared off as if to fight the Thunder’s big man, Serge Ibaka, before the referees and other players intervened. Truth is that, after the officials watch the tape, they immediately gave him a flagrant foul 2 and he was ejected from the game. Now, after the NBA has officially suspended him for the next 7 games, really feel that he got what he deserved.
Enough with the simple stupidity and the all-eyed-on-me tantrums to which the artist formerly known as Ron Artest has got us used to. Forget that this unprofessional character has legally changed his name to Metta World Peace. We are still talking about the same guy who has over and over been tarnishing not only his name, but the overall prestige of his squad and of the league. So it really seems that it’s hard not to stand behind the NBA commissioner when he delivered his verdict. “We remain committed to taking necessary measures to protect the safety of NBA players –said David Stern, in the press release- including the imposition of appropriate penalties for players with a history of on-court altercations.”
And plenty of history does Ron Artest has. Check out this short synopsis of his foul playing. Last year, World Peace was suspended one game during the 2011 playoffs for clotheslining Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea. A few years before that, back in 2007, Metta, then a member of the Sacramento Kings, was suspended for seven games after he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. One year before that, in 2006, Artest was suspended for one game for throwing an elbow at San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili. In 2004, he was suspended for one game for elbowing Portland Trail Blazers wing Derek Anderson. But perhaps he will be mostly remembered as the key player in what is now infamously called the “Malice at the Palace,” brawl between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons that same year. That time, even fans got involved in the fighting. As a result, Metta World Peace was suspended for all the 72 games of the 2004-2005 season. World Peace was also fined multiple times early in his career for making obscene gestures to fans.
On Sunday, after the game, Metta World Peace tried to deliver something similar to an apology, but it was not even close. “I got really emotional, really excited,” He said in a short press conference after the game. “It was unfortunate that James had to get hit with an unintentional elbow. I hope he’s OK. The Thunder, they are playing for a championship this year, so I really hope that he’s OK. I apologize to the Thunder and to James Harden.” Considering this comes from a player that has been suspended for a full season, a 7 game suspension (6 of them in the Playoffs) is not going to really change things much. This will probably not be his last altercation. But perhaps he’ll be retiring soon.
The NBA commissioner, David Stern, came out Monday saying that despite the efforts from both parties to reach an agreement and after 12 hours of extensive talks, the Players Union and the NBA team owners are still so far from reaching a new collective bargaining agreement that he has no option to suspend the first two weeks of the 2011-2012 NBA regular season. Perhaps what the fans should be more worried about is that as of press time, no new negotiation meetings have been set, and the differences among these two groups is so big that Stern said in his own words that there is a gulf separating both parties.
Let’s be clear about a couple things. For starters, it is quite evident know that this is really about business. The fans are not really an issue here anymore. Games are going to be lost. For a moment there, it seemed as if that was the right negotiation strategy. The owners believed that once the players knew that they would lose their first few salary checks, they would step back and begin the negotiations. Now, it is quite clear that this is a risk the players are willing to take. They are in it for the long-haul, as the Players Union President, Derek Fisher of the LA Lakers, said in the press conference. The issue here is that after many hours of talks, players and owner are nowhere near an agreement on key items such as luxury-tax specifics, contract lengths and annual raises.
This is now the 103rd day of the NBA Lockout. It’s interesting that Derek Fisher began the press conference reassuring fans that they had to understand that the players were not on strike. That this was something that the owners wanted and pushed them into: a lockout. This is a big issue now. A few days ago, the main issue here was how the basketball-related income would be split among players and owners. For a moment there, David Stern tried to convince players that a 50-50 was the way to go. But that proposal didn’t even get a chance to get evaluated by the owners for players said they weren’t backing up. The owners want to give players a 47% of the basketball-related income. Players are not willing to go lower than 53%.
This is the second work stoppage in the NBA season to bleed into the regular season. Both David Stern and Stern and the player’s association executive director Billy Hunter were in similar positions in 1998, when a 204-day lockout only left time for a 50-game regular season. That’s right, the NBA season began on February 1st 1999. They certainly don’t want to find themselves in that position again, but the differences among players and owners.
David Stern has said many times that the owners have already made some concessions, in a way, putting the ball back in the players hands. The thing here is that this is not very precise. Stern says the owners are willing to surrender their longstanding insistence on an actual hard cap. It also seems that this concession comes linked with a proposed system change that included a luxury tax of $2 for every $1 that teams strayed above the tax threshold. There’s more: at one point, it could go up to $3 for every $1 after seven years.
The players are not backing up. The owners are staying in place too. The thing here, and for the sake of the sport, is that at one point or another one of the two parties is going to blink. It’s then and only then that we might get this negotiation started and see some NBA basketball this season.
Derrick Rose keeps proving he is MVP material, this time leading the Chicago Bulls to a 94-76 crush of the Atlanta Hawks. Rose had a slow start, and it took a while to get his engine going, but once all the pieces began to fit in, he was unstoppable. The talented point guard guided the Bulls with 34 points, 6 rebound and 5 assists for Chicago’s tenth consecutive win at home and 12th win in 14 games.
The Bulls are not really fighting to catch up with the Boston Celtics in the Easter Conference; Chicago has bigger expectations for their own team. What happens is that it is starting to seem as if at the end of the regular season, when the veteran-drived Boston Celtics are starting to drop their pace and lose too many games, the Bulls are getting stronger by the hour.
The Bulls didn’t seem to miss Carlos Boozer too much that night, as the talented player sat down for the whole game with a sprained left ankle. The key to the Bulls’ success in this game: the third quarter. By halftime, the Atlanta Hawks had managed to stay strong and where down only by two points. But Rose was just about to put on his one-man show and with 18 points alone in that quarter, drive the Bulls into a 24-10 run and extend the difference to 72-60.
Loul Deng had 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, to keep on contributing to the Bulls. Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Josh Smith added 15 and Jamal Crawford scored 14 for Atlanta, which went cold in the third – its lowest scoring quarter this season – and remained winless since beating Chicago at home last week.
It seems it was payback time for the Bulls.