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Old 08-14-05, 02:27 PM
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Could someone please post the Miami article on ESPN basketball front page and also the rumour central page. Thanks in advance I really appreciate it
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  #2  
Old 08-14-05, 05:31 PM
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Heat the favorite in the East
I'm not one of those skeptics who thinks the Heat went too far in bringing aboard Antoine Walker and Jason Williams. As presently constructed, Miami is clearly, easily, undoubtedly the hands-down favorite to win the East. In my humble opinion.

The question of whether Walker and Williams will accept lesser offensive roles can be answered in four letters: Shaq.

Two players in history have run afoul of Shaq, bristling at his "The Man'' status. Yet after parting ways with him, both experienced immediate drop-offs and neither has been the same. With Shaq, Penny Hardaway was the closest thing we'd ever seen to Magic Johnson. Sans Shaq? You know the deal.

With Shaq, Kobe was being compared to Michael Jordan. I personally was saying he was the second-best two-guard (behind the aforementioned MJ) ever. But after last season, I'm withholding judgment. Last season, he was no better than AI, T-Mac, D-Wade and Ray Allen. If that's the best he can do without Shaq, then history will have to be rewritten.

That's one reason I'm so eager to see what Kobe does this season. I want to see if he's really among history's ultra-elite or just a Hall of Famer.

But back to the Heat. Walker and Williams will accept their roles, even if it's just for one title-taking year, because it is natural (save the above exceptions) to defer to Shaq. I say that with the utmost confidence.

Shaq is on a mission. Pure and simple. He knows he failed to deliver on his guarantee to bring Miami a title, and he doesn't want to fail again. That message was sent loud and clear by Pat Riley's Shaq-inspired dalliance with returning to the bench.

We saw Shaq play cop on SportsCenter recently. Watch him police the Heat locker room if necessary this season. I don't think it will be necessary.

So with Walker's and Williams' attitudes in check, their games become the focus, and their games fit snugly into the Heat's scheme. Walker, who might be nice coming off the bench behind the defensively-gifted James Posey at small forward, is an excellent passer, a good rebounder and a deep threat.

Those who worry about his 3-point binges should check out the restraint he showed after returning to Beantown last season. He won't be hoisting triples without conscience with Shaq and Flash on the floor.

J-Will is also a 3-point threat, but more importantly a deft ball-handler who can get the Heat in the offense on time.

Look, I'm a Damon Jones fan. I covered him when he was getting his first break in the league back in New Jersey.

He's a great guy and a good player, but he's better suited to come off the bench as a long-range sniper because he's not a true point guard. We saw that in the series against Detroit. The Pistons' relentless ball pressure was too much for him, as it took him 10 seconds to get the Heat into the offense, and many times he did that with a hook pass into the post.

J-Will, on the other hand, has the quickness and the handle to get defenders off of him and have Miami's offense flowing smoothly. After a few years in Memphis, he'll be glad to be back in the spotlight so he won't cause problems. After all, what good is it having such a great nickname -- "White Chocolate''-- if no one ever sees you play?

Plenty of folks will see J Will play this season -- all the way to the Finals.

Speaking of White Chocolate, I was the original. Kendall Gill started calling me that back when I was the Nets beat writer for the New York Times. But don't get it twisted. I'm Black -- inside and out. But for a brotha' my melanin count is low.
posted: August 13, 2005 5:26:10 PM PDT | Feedback
Belkin out in Atlanta
Commissioner David Stern's affidavit supporting the Atlanta Hawks attempts to remove Steve Belkin as the team's NBA governor should mean that Joe Johnson, key cog in the Phoenix Suns' surprising run last season, will head East to Atlanta.

That means the Phoenix Suns will head south.

Belkin was blocking the proposed trade of Johnson to Atlanta for Boris Diaw, two first-round picks and a $4.9 million trade exception.

The explosive combination of Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire, plus Shawn Marion, insure the Suns of being good, but without Johnson and Quentin Richardson, who was traded to New York for Kurt Thomas, they've fallen a notch.

Unless they know something about Diaw that few others do, the Suns better get Michael Finley (assuming Dallas waives him). Otherwise, they're back with the Dallas's, Houston's and Denver's of the world. Very good, but not a threat to the global gang in San Antonio.

The logic is simple. The 3-pointer was critical to the Suns' attack last season. Whether they were draining bombs off the break or spotting up while Nash dribbled through the defense before hurling a pass from the paint, it was the trey that made the Suns so dangerous. It was the second wave (the three) that made their fast break so awesome, not the first (the layup or dunk).

No two players hit more threes in Phoenix than Johnson (177) and Richardson (226). Johnson buried nearly 48 percent of his shots from behind the arc. It was all right to let Richardson, who bombed in the playoffs, go as long as you had Johnson. But now, both of your top long-range threats are Audi 5000.

I know Johnson requested the trade, and apparently didn't want to be a fourth-wheel in Phoenix. But $70 million to live and play in the sun (no pun intended) makes fourth-wheel status more than palatable. The Suns could have taken the chance that they could make Johnson a happy camper.

Without Johnson and Richardson, the floor won't be spread like it was last season, which could limit Nash's effectiveness. Diaw's a horrible 3-point shooter, and Jim Jackson will be 35 when the season starts.

It looks like the Suns will be more of a traditional team now. Kurt Thomas can bang and play D, and Diaw has the tools to be a good defender. But the Suns aren't beating San Antonio at its own game. They're only going to be so good defensively with opponents blowing by Nash at the point. And Stoudemire has a lot of work to do on that end too.

I hope the fans in Phoenix enjoyed last season because this one's not going to be as pretty.

As for the Hawks, they are definitely giving up a lot, but how much young, unproven talent do you need? It's time for them to start moving forward, and Johnson helps them do that. He's a legitimately strong player who can go off in transition and in the half-court, as well as lock cats down and play three positions well.

The Hawks' proposed lineup of Johnson at the point, Josh Childress at the two, Smith or Harrington at the three and Marvin Williams at the four is enticing, if mismatched. Considering what the Hawks have put on the floor lately, though, it's a step in the right direction.
posted: August 11, 2005 6:38:44 PM PDT | Feedback
Nets and Abdur Rahim
If the Nets had added Marc Jackson and Shareef Abdur-Rahim to their roster, Jersey fans would have really had something to shout about. But adding Jackson by himself leads me to just one conclusion:

Forget what I said a few weeks ago about a Heat-Nets Eastern Conference final.

The Nets still might be the most exciting team in the East, but they are at best, No. 4 in the East. Jackson actually gives them a lot of things they needed: toughness, a physical presence, some post play. But they are still too soft to compete with Miami, Detroit and Indiana, which is loading up like gangbusters, having acquired the Lithuanian point guard Sarunas Jasikevicius.

With Ron Artest back in the fold, I'm really feeling the Pacers. I'm thinking Miami-Indiana for conference supremacy now. For those who think I'm hating on the Pistons, they'll fight Indiana for a chance to get beat by the Heat.

It's hard to blame the Nets for passing on Abdur-Rahim. Obviously, I didn't see the pictures of his knee, but a team official told me they didn't believe the knee might become arthritic -- they were convinced that it will and to some degree, already has.

They tried to get some protection against his future injuries by offering fewer years and less money, but Abdur-Rahim wasn't budging. Can't blame him either since he's never missed a pro game because of the knee.

Now it looks like Abdur-Rahim could be headed to Sacramento, where he could end up extending his career-long non-playoff appearance streak.

In a tough, deep and improving Western Conference, the Kings appear to be slipping back into the Mitch Richmond era. If Coach Rick Adelman gets them into the playoffs, he should be saluted. Not saying they'll definitely be on the sidelines come late April, but I wouldn't be surprised.
posted: August 11, 2005 1:46:06 PM PDT | Feedback
Sibling rivalry
Just got back from vacation again. I'm trying to take advantage of my three weeks (next week, I'll take my final leave of the year). Just curious. Are any of you readers out there involved in intense sibling rivalries?

I have one brother, a year younger than me, and we've always competed in every sport we could. I would always get the best of him because he's always been small. I'm 5-foot-10, 180; he's about 5-5, 120. He might have been a better athlete pound-for-pound -- maybe! -- but that did him no good when it came to battling in the trenches. I was a merciless big brother (it was my duty to toughen him up, you know).

Anyway, at 36 and 35 years of age, our competitiveness has not subsided, and he has finally found something he can spank me at: golf. But even though he's clearly better than me, he knows better than to take me lightly.

In the past, I have pulled off some near miraculous comebacks to maintain bragging rights. In college, he went away and became a pretty fair bowler. Excited about exhibiting his supremacy over me, he challenged me one Christmas break to a match.

He was certainly better than me, and going into the final frame I was down big -- only three straight strikes would save me. Wouldn't you know it -- I nailed the three straight strikes! He was absolutely crushed. Crushed! He actually went into denial.

One of my college teammates who had played with us couldn't believe how badly my brother took the "L," and he was stunned by our level of competitiveness.

Then, a few years ago, we were on a par-3 golf course outside of Cleveland. Terry, my brother, has taken lessons, and I haven't, so my "wing-it'' style of play can't compare to his relatively polished game. Well, we were going into the final hole and I was down 7 strokes.

As we prepared to tee off, he gloated, "Not even Tiger could catch me now." Desperate, I went to Plan B -- challenge his manhood. We had been playing with a 10-stroke limit on each hole (shows you how weak our games are), so even if I shot par I could only tie him.

Well, the final hole was over a lake, so I began talking trash about how a real man would erase the 10-stroke limit. "What, are you scared of the water? Where's your confidence? I thought even Tiger couldn't catch you. You really won't feel good about this victory if you win with a 10-stroke limit, will you? Stroke limits are for chumps.''

Not surprisingly, he took the bait. Moments later, he was hitting lobs into the water. By the time he got to the other side, he had taken, like, 8 strokes. I had to seize the moment.

Somehow, someway, I sent a beauty over the drink and onto the green, about 11 feet from the hole. He was sweating bullets by then, and his anxiety led him to shoot an 11 on the hole. I, on the other hand, recorded my first par ever to beat him by a stroke.

Well, those days are long gone. We hit the links at our family reunion last week in Destin, Fla., and he whipped me by about 14 strokes. I can handle it, though, because he still can't do anything with me on the hoop court.

I'll address some of last week's NBA happenings later this week. Here's a hint: I'm really feeling the Heat. My boy Marc Stein isn't, but I'll give my take soon.
posted: August 11, 2005 8:48:20 AM PDT | Feedback
Emptying the mailbag

Teenage angst
This goes out to all the readers who took time out to respond to my blogs. I value and appreciate your responses. I just read them, all 130 of them, this week because ESPN finally hooked me into my mailbag.

The hottest topic by far was my assertion that the NBA's 19-year-old age requirement is a form of racial paternalism. Most disagreed or took offense to my argument; a few agreed.

The main argument against my opinion was that the NBA can't be compared to the NHL and MLB because those leagues have legit minor leagues, so while a teenage hooper who is not ready to contribute takes a roster spot from a better, older player and waters down the league, a teenage hockey or baseball player learns and improves in the minors.

That's a very good argument, and I've been saying for years that the answer to the NBA's "problem" with youngsters is to have a true minor league the way baseball and hockey do. That's why I thought the timing of the age limit was strange because they also instituted the rule that first- and second-year players could be sent down to the D League.

As a basketball fan, I truly see the merits of the age limit. I think it will help the quality of play in the NBA and potentially college (if players go). My point was simply that I don't think the age limit is fair when you consider that most other sports (hockey, baseball, gymnastics, tennis, soccer) don't have a limit.

As far as the racial component, I am not one to play the race card. I actually think throwing out the phrase "race card" has become an easy way for folks to brush off charges, legit or otherwise, of racism. I try to insert race where I think appropriate, but I don't think, for instance, that Jesse Jackson being called out for fathering a baby by his mistress was racism. So please, don't play the "don't play the race card" card with me, as if I'm throwing out charges of racism haphazardly.

I was not asserting that the age limit rule is overt racism or "racism on purpose." I simply think it's a form of racial paternalism where the white owners of the NBA feel -- perhaps even subconsciously -- that they need to look out for the best interests of the mostly black players because the players and their families can't make the right decision for themselves.

Actually, I think that type of paternalism is one of the many reasons the owners instituted the rule, not the sole reason. Others would be economics and quality of play.

Also, Jermaine O'Neal only said, we might want to consider that the rule could be racist. I second that -- saying just look at the facts and consider it rather than brushing it aside completely without thought. To say race was not a factor at all, I believe, is shortsighted.

That said, most of the readers' responses were intelligent and well thought-out. We'll just have to agree to disagree.

Ball's in Steph's court
The other hot topic was Stephon Marbury. He's got a lot of love out there. Many think he's an awesome player who has simply been in bad situations. I love Steph's talent, so hopefully, all his fans out there are right. We'll find out soon because there are no more excuses now that Larry Brown is his coach.

Keep the responses coming.

Oh, to Jim Childress: Go Maroons. I remember you. You had game!
posted: August 4, 2005 12:03:00 PM PDT | Feedback
Nothin' But Net
Shrewd Moves

Nets CEO Rod Thorn and GM Ed Stefanski have been positively Jerry West-ish in their running of the club. Their one black eye was the trade of Kenyon Martin, but that was mandated by new owner Bruce Ratner. Yet Thorn and Stefanski have even turned Ratner's admitted gaffe into a positive by adding Vince Carter and Shareef Abdur-Rahim to fill Martin's shoes. That gives the Nets a scary first five of Jason Kidd, Carter, Richard Jefferson, quickly improving Nenad Krstic and Abdur-Rahim.

Now, in another superb move, the Nets have added Jeff McInnis to back up Kidd at the point.

I believe Miami, especially with the addition of Antoine Walker, is the team to beat in the East, but I'm leaning toward a Heat-Nets conference final if Kidd stays healthy. With Abdur-Rahim and Carter, the Nets' half-court offense is far better than it was with Martin, and they can run just as well. Their defense is not as strong, but hey, you can't have it all.

I would be going gaga over these Nets if they had done things differently on draft night. Although it's hard to second-guess Thorn and Stefanski, I believe they should have snatched up Syracuse's Hakim Warrick instead of Antoine Wright.

Wright is a good player with very big upside, but his role will obviously be small behind Carter and Jefferson. While the postdraft addition of Abdur-Rahim would have had Warrick coming off the bench, Hakim would have been a terrific complement to Kidd.

With his length and athleticism, he would have been finishing Kidd's passes with above-the-rim gems the way Martin once did. I don't get too excited about summer league, but Warrick did average 18.6 points and 8.2 rebounds for Memphis in the SoCal summer tourney.

To move up a notch and be a legit title contender, I think the Nets need a frontcourt brute, an enforcer in the old Charles Oakley mold. Right now, they're pure finesse, which is pretty and fun and takes you far, but that won't get them past Miami.

They are in the same boat Phoenix was last year. The Suns' finesse got them past everyone but San Antonio. The Suns have done well in answering that problem by adding Kurt Thomas, who, ironically, would have been perfect for the Nets, too.
posted: August 3, 2005 8:45:55 AM PDT | Feedback
Changing Fortunes
Knicks Up, Pistons Down

With Larry Brown at the helm, I'm predicting a playoff spot for the Knicks next season. It won't be easy though. Four teams: Miami, Detroit, Indiana and New Jersey ... are set atop the East, and just about everyone else in the conference will battle for those four remaining playoff spots.

Cleveland, Chicago, Washington, Orlando, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Boston and now the Knicks are all potential postseason qualifiers. I'm giving the Knicks 43 wins and one of the final two spots.

Now, the question is: what of the Pistons? I'm convinced that Detroit doesn't win the title in 2004 without Brown, and I'm expecting it to fall off a bit under Flip Saunders. Flip is a good coach, but not a great coach, certainly not in Brown's class.

KG and you get out of the first-round just once? You've got to show me something.

Detroit was a mediocre 9-8 in those 17 games Brown missed last season. He returned from bladder surgery in April and they immediately went 10-1.

Under the offensive-minded Saunders, the Pistons' defense will loosen a bit, and while they'll still be good defenders, they won't be the tenacious, smothering crew they were under Larry Brown. They won that title because of their oppressive D, and the slightest slippage will be enough to keep them away from the trophy.

Plus, how will Chauncey handle his newfound freedom under Flip. Was it Brown's tight leash that kept Chauncey from hoisting too much or the PG's maturity? We'll see. The Pistons are clearly better when everyone's involved in the O, so it'll be interesting to see if Chauncey tries to be the man and ends up hurting the team.

Heating Up

Detroit could return to the Finals but only if Miami, Indiana and perhaps NJ suffer big-time injuries. With all superstars and stars being healthy, Miami is the easy favorite in the East, especially if they land Antoine Walker.

Walker is talking with Pat Riley about joining the Heat, and oh, what an addition he would be.

Despite his sorry reputation, I believe Walker is a winner. He has been nothing but great for the Celtics franchise, and his career numbers (basically, 19 and 9) are beyond solid.

With Walker in the fold, Miami could start a five of Shaq, Udonis Haslem, Walker, Eddie Jones and Dwyane Wade. That's ridiculous.

Walker's passing and ability to run the offense will allow D Wade to play off the ball at times, so his ppg doesn't fall off even as he plays point guard. Walker's outside shooting will work well off of Shaq, and his rebounding will enable the Heat to own the glass.

Pat Riley has to get this done.
posted: August 5, 2005 8:22:11 AM PDT | Feedback


=============================================



Friday, August 12
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Doug Christie
Doug Christie
Magic

Mavericks?

Doug out
Aug 12 - With the Magic having waived Doug Christie via the amnesty clause, the veteran guard has reached an oral agreement on a one-year, $3 million deal with the Mavericks, according to the Dallas Morning News.

"Dallas is definitely one of the teams that are high on Doug's list, because of the type of team, the coaching staff, the city, and the way that his game is," Christie's agent, Bradley Marshall said in the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Brian Grant
Brian Grant
Lakers

Nuggets?
Bulls?
Suns?
Heat?

Welcome back to Miami?
Aug 12 - Brian Grant was waived by the Lakers on Wednesday and may be looking to reunite with the Heat, the team packaged him in a trade for Shaquille O'Neal a year ago.

"He's got great feelings for Miami," agent Mark Bartelstein said. "I'm sure I'll talk to Pat [Riley] or Randy [Pfund] about it and see what happens."

The Bulls, Nuggets and Suns have also reportedly expressed interest in Grant.
Thursday, August 11
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Brevin Knight
Brevin Knight
Bobcats

Bobcats?

Knight's tale
Aug 11 - Brevin Knight appears to be headed back to the Bobcats, the Charlotte Observer reports, which will take some of the pressure off of rookie point guard Raymond Felton. Knight's deal probably won't be formalized before next week, since his agent, Bill Strickland, and Bobcats general manager Bernie Bickerstaff are away from their offices.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Jahidi White
Jahidi White
Bobcats

White noise
Aug 11 - In search of a backup for Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cavaliers met with Jahidi White on Tuesday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Agent Chubby Wells confirmed the meeting between White and the Cavs, but doesn't expect anything to happen soon.
Wednesday, August 10
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Kings

Kings

Reef Raft
Aug 10 - Talk about getting set adrift. After the Nets abruptly cut the line on the Shareef Abdur-Rahim deal, agent Aaron Goodwin is looking for a new team to sign with. Goodwin says six or seven other teams are interested in his client, according to the New York Post. The Kings are one of those teams. Geoff Petrie told the Sacramento Bee, "In light of the events of (Tuesday), and that Shareef is now a free agent, we have very, very, very serious interest in trying to work something out in the next couple of days. It's highly unlikely that this would be a sign-and-trade deal." But you have to wonder what kind of cash he can command now. SAR declined a $47 million offer from the Bucks earlier in the summer.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Chris Duhon
Chris Duhon
Bulls

Bulls?
Raptors?

Toronto's Du Point
Aug 10 - The Raptors have made an offer to Bulls point guard Chris Duhon, according to the Toronto Star. And while the Bulls will likely match to keep Duhon, the Raptors want to appear to be aggressive free agent players. If they can't land Duhon, Raptor general manager Rob Babcock could look at Miami's Damon Jones, Memphis's Earl Watson, Atlanta's Tyronn Lue and New Jersey's Travis Best, reports the Star.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Dale Davis
Dale Davis
Pacers

76ers

Sixer backup
Aug 10 - Now that the Sixers have shipped Marc Jackson to the Nets, they'll have to find a new backup for Sam Dalembert and Chris Webber. Dale Davis could be the guy, Davis' agent Chubby Wells told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Steven Hunter, Andrew DeClercq, Walter McCarty and Jahidi White are also reportedly in the mix.
Tuesday, August 9
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Eddy Curry
Eddy Curry
Bulls

Bulls?
Hawks?

Hawks, Bulls still interested
Aug 9 - According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Eddy Curry met with John Paxson on Monday. The Bulls are offering a short-term deal to Curry, who might opt to play for the Bulls' one-year qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next year.

Curry's agent, Leon Rose, said the Hawks are still interested in the restricted free-agent center, too. "I called [Hawks general manager] Billy Knight on Friday, and he assured me that their extending an offer sheet to [Milwaukee Bucks center] Zaza Pachulia did not mean they no longer have interest in Curry," Rose said. "The Hawks still have $13 million worth of salary-cap room left, and they are still interested in Eddy."
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Eddie House
Eddie House
Kings

Heat?

House Hunting
Aug 9 - The Miami Herald reports that the Heat have expressed interest in former Miami guard Eddie House, according to his agent, Mark Bartelstein. The Heat are in need of a backup point guard and are awaiting a decision from free agent Damon Jones. The team has also reportedly been in contact with the agents of Nick Van Exel, Earl Watson, Gary Payton and Dan Dickau.
Monday, August 8
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Damien Wilkins
Damien Wilkins

Nuggets?
Timberwolves?
Hawks?

Nuggets eye shooting guard
Aug 8 - According to the Denver Post, the Nuggets are eyeing Seattle's restricted free agent shooting guard Damien Wilkins. Agent Mark Bartelstein named the Nuggets among the teams eyeing Wilkins. Others reportedly interested include Minnesota and Atlanta.

"We're having conversations, but nothing's settled right now," Bartelstein said.
Friday, August 5
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Nick Van Exel
Nick Van Exel
Trail Blazers

Nuggets?
Rockets?
Heat?
Timberwolves?

Van Exel on the move
Aug 5 - According to the Denver Post, Nick Van Exel said he signing with the Nuggets, the team he asked to be traded from during the 2001-02 season, is a possibility. "Of course I would consider Denver," the point guard said. "They are a team on the rise. They are doing good things. But it would be a little odd."

Nick Van Exel is also open to coming to the Rockets, the Houston Chronicle reports. The Rockets can only offer their smaller exception, set at $1.67 million for the first season. Van Exel, who has also drawn interest from the Heat, Spurs and Timberwolves, has often said he would like to play in Houston, his adopted hometown.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Damon Jones
Damon Jones
Heat

Cavaliers?
Heat?

Keeping up with Jones
Aug 5 - Point guard remains a priority for the Cavs and the team has made a big push for free agent Damon Jones, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. "The Cavs have expressed serious interest in Damon, and we recognize that the franchise is moving in the right direction," said Mark Termini, Jones' agent.

Meanwhile, the Heat are still hoping to re-sign Jones.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Greg Buckner
Greg Buckner
Nuggets

Wizards?
Pistons?
Nuggets?
Rockets?

Buckner waiting
Aug 5 - Denver free agent Greg Buckner is still hopeful to re-sign with the Nuggets, the Denver Post reports. Said agent Steve Kauffman: "We're still optimistic about reaching a deal with Denver. It's just not something I foresee happening immediately. It may be a week or two down the line."

The Nuggets will probably wait for the August 15 "amnesty" deadline to see which other players become available.
Thursday, August 4
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Derek Anderson
Derek Anderson
Trail Blazers

Rockets?
Timberwolves?
Heat?
Lakers?

Lakers eye Anderson
Aug 4 - With the Blazers waiving guard Derek Anderson via the amnesty clause, the Lakers have emerged as a leading candidate to sign the free agent. "In our minds, that's a pretty good fit for him," said Anderson's agent, Tony Dutt in the Los Angeles Times. "That's a good situation. They want to go short [in contract years], and we want to go short."

Anderson probably would accept a two-year deal if it was for the full midlevel exception of $5 million a season. Other teams that inquired about Anderson include the Heat, Rockets and Timberwolves, Dutt said.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Joe Johnson
Joe Johnson
Suns

Hawks
Suns

Setting Sun
Aug 4 - According to the Arizona Republic, the Suns' sign-and-trade deal with Joe Johnson has been delayed because of internal issues with the Hawks. On Wednesday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that one of the team's owners, Steve Belkin, who is the team's NBA governor, has not signed off on the deal. And the NBA requires the team's governor to endorse it.

The Suns, however, believe that the deal -- Phoenix will match the Hawks' five-year, $69.6 million offer, and trade Johnson for guard Boris Diaw, two lottery-protected draft picks and a trade exception -- will be completed by Monday.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Marko Jaric
Marko Jaric
Timberwolves

Cavaliers?
Timberwolves?
Clippers?
Nuggets?

Marko on the market
Aug 4 - Marko Jaric will be back with the Clippers next season, the Los Angeles Times reports. General Manager Elgin Baylor said that Jaric's stated preference to leave "doesn't make any difference."

Jaric is a restricted free agent and the Clippers can match any offer another team makes. Jaric has visited the Cavs and Nuggets, and according to his agent, Bill Duffy, would like to start at point guard. Duffy suggested that a sign-and-trade deal "would be best for all parties," and said he hoped to meet with the Clippers before the end of the week to clarify Jaric's position.

Said Coach Mike Dunleavy: " I expect to have Marko back, and I don't see any issues for him." The agent also said the Lakers, Timberwolves, Jazz and Blazers have shown interest.
Wednesday, August 3
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Kareem Rush
Kareem Rush
Bobcats

Bobcats?

Rush back to Bobcats
Aug 3 - The Charlotte Observer reports free-agent guard Kareem Rush will re-sign with the Bobcats. But Bernie Bickerstaff said deals with Rush and other free agents are not yet final.

"The conversations are non-adversarial," said Bickerstaff. "When we get them to agree -- and when they get us to agree -- we'll get them done."
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Vladimir Radmanovic
Vladimir Radmanovic
SuperSonics

SuperSonics?

Sonics to meet with Radmanovic
Aug 3 - The Sonics are offering Vladimir Radmanovic a six-year deal that, with incentives, could be worth as much as $42 million, the News-Tribune reports. The restricted free agent and his agent, David Bauman, flew to Seattle to meet with Sonics owner Howard Schultz, CEO Wally Walker and general manager Rick Sund and negotiations will continue today.

Radmanovic still wants more and might wind up signing a one-year tender offer worth $3.2 million that will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent next season. Radmanovic has until Sept. 15 to sign the one-year tender.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Walter McCarty
Walter McCarty
Suns

Market for McCarty
Aug 3 - The Boston Herald reports that free agent forward Walter McCarty has narrowed his choices down to Philadelphia, Houston and Dallas.
Monday, August 1
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Michael Finley
Michael Finley
Mavericks

Knicks?
Suns
Nuggets?

Finley swap?
Aug 1 - According to the Dallas Morning News, the Knicks appear to be interested in Michael Finley and might explore swapping Penny Hardaway or Tim Thomas for the shooting guard. Hardaway and Thomas are both in the last year of their contracts and match Finley's salary this season.
Sunday, July 31
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Eric Snow
Eric Snow
Cavaliers

Knicks?

Snow in New York?
Jul 31 - Don't be surprised if Larry Brown convinces Knicks president Isiah Thomas to go after Cavs point guard Eric Snow, the Plain Dealer reports. Snow played for Brown in Philly and could allow Marbury to play some minutes at shooting guard.
Friday, July 29
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Gary Payton
Gary Payton
Celtics

Heat?

Where does 'The Glove' fit?
Jul 29 - The Sun-Sentinel reports that the Heat have had conversations with agent Aaron Goodwin about Gary Payton.

According to the Boston Globe, the Celtics aren't among the interested teams. Said Celtics executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge recently concerning Payton: "We're moving in a different direction."
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Wesley Person
Wesley Person
Nuggets

Nets?

Nets like Person
Jul 29 - The Nets may not be done shopping yet. The Rocky Mountain News and the Bergen Record report that the team is interested in signing free agent shooting guard Wesley Person.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Tom Gugliotta
Tom Gugliotta
Hawks

Bulls?

Gugliotta in Chicago?
Jul 29 - The Bulls may be leaning towards signing veteran forward Tom Gugliotta with their midlevel exception, the Daily Southtown reports. Agent Richard Howell said Gugliotta is interested in four of the six teams that have inquired about him.
Thursday, July 28
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Juan Dixon
Juan Dixon
Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers

Teams interested in Dixon
Jul 28 - According to the Washington Post, free agent guard Juan Dixon and the Portland Trail Blazers have agreed to a three-year contract worth around $8 million, says Dixon's agent, Calvin Andrews.

Seattle, Miami, Cleveland, Indiana and Sacramento were also reportedly interested.
Wednesday, July 27
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Darko Milicic
Darko Milicic
Pistons

Hawks?

No Darko deal
Jul 27 - The Pistons never offered Darko Milicic to the Atlanta Hawks for small forward Al Harrington, the Detroit Free Press reports. Pistons vice president John Hammond said there is "absolutely no truth" to a report in the New York Daily News that the Pistons tried to deal Milicic after firing Larry Brown as coach. "He is an investment of ours," Hammond said.
Tuesday, July 26
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Andrew DeClercq
Andrew DeClercq
Magic

Magic act over
Jul 26 - Free-agent center Andrew DeClercq, who played five seasons in Orlando, has not been offered a contract by the Magic, the Orlando Sentinel reports. "He won't be returning to Orlando, but there are various other options we're sorting through," said Joel Bell, DeClercq's agent. "He'll be in the league."

DeClercq, 32, missed most of last season with a knee injury.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Steve Blake
Steve Blake
Wizards

Cavaliers?
Timberwolves?
Heat?

Terp love
Jul 26 - A source close to Wizards guard Steve Blake said teams have contacted the restricted free agent. Teams with reported interest include Miami, Minnesota and Cleveland, the Washington Post reports.
Friday, July 22
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Tyronn Lue
Tyronn Lue
Hawks

Hawks?
Lakers?

Lakers pursue Lue
Jul 22 - Phil Jackson still needs a point guard after losing out in the Antonio Daniels sweepstakes. And his target now is reportedly unrestricted free agent Tyronn Lue, who played for the Lakers for three seasons, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

But Hawks general manager Billy Knight said he's had conversations with Lue's agent, Andy Miller, and intends to bring him back.
Thursday, July 21
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Drew Gooden
Drew Gooden
Cavaliers

Gooden gone?
Jul 21 - With Donyell Marshall the latest free agent to agree to come to the Cavs, trade rumors are swirling involving Drew Gooden, the Plain Dealer reports. However, general manager Danny Ferry is not ready to part with the power forward.

"Drew is a tenacious rebounder that will be a big part of things this fall," Ferry said. "We need a guy [like Gooden] that can rebound and score some. Drew is relentless going to the basket for rebounds. He's capable of having a positive impact in a game."
Wednesday, July 20
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Willie Green
Willie Green
76ers

76ers

Sixers give Green green
Jul 20 - The Sixers have re-signed free agent point guard Willie Green to a six-year deal worth about $20 million, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. The Utah Jazz were also reportedly interested in Green. The deal does not become official until the league's new collective bargaining agreement is completed.
Sunday, July 17
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Jay Williams
Jay Williams
Bulls

Open Jay
Jul 17 - According to the Miami Herald, Jay Williams said he's "positive" he will play in the NBA next season and believes the Heat are interested in scheduling a workout with him.

"This would be a great fit for me," said Williams, who suffered serious leg injuries in a motorcycle accident in 2003. "I'm a lot further ahead than people think."
Saturday, July 16
WHO WHAT THE SKINNY
Pat Riley
Pat Riley

Coaching?

Riley's coaching itch
Jul 16 - Trying to put an end to the speculation that he would return to the sideline at the expense of Stan Van Gundy, Pat Riley held a teleconference.

"I would quit my job before I would dismiss Stan Van Gundy as the head coach simply because I wanted to coach," Riley said. "Period. That's not me. Anybody who knows me knows that I wouldn't do that for the sake of me wanting to get back into the job."

The controversy began when Riley said last month that he missed coaching and would like to take more of an "active participation" in the context of coaching.
Wednesday, July 13
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Voshon Lenard
Voshon Lenard
Nuggets

Nuggets?

Nuggets still deciding on Lenard
Jul 13 - The Nuggets can buy out Voshon Lenard's contract by Thursday, but may be leaning towards keeping the shooting guard, the Rocky Mountain News reports. Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe and coach George Karl have spoken of wanting Lenard, whose $3.27 million contract can be bought out for $250,000.

Lenard, who tore his left Achilles' tendon last season, is expected to work out for Denver officials Thursday morning.
Tuesday, July 12
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce
Celtics

Celtics?

Pro-Paul Pierce
Jul 12 - While most of Boston seems to want Paul Pierce and his sour attitude to go away, there's at least one guy who wants him to stay put, the Boston Herald reports. And it's none other than onetime problem child Ricky Davis.

"I'm hoping there's nothing going on with all the (trade) rumors," he said. "We need Paul. He's a big part of who we are and what we can get to be. We just need him. It'd be hard without him. I just think everyone has to let what we have develop. I mean that for Paul, too."
Monday, July 11
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Ronald Murray
Ronald Murray
SuperSonics

Nuggets?

Flip for Nuggets?
Jul 11 - The Nuggets are still searching for guard help and are interested in the Sonics' restricted free agent guard, Ronald "Flip" Murray. According to the Rocky Mountain News, Nuggets coach George Karl has had conversations with Murray's agent, Arn Tellem, and has also exchanged voice-mail messages with Murray.

"I had Ronald for six months in Milwaukee," said Karl. "He's blossomed and played very well. ... I didn't think he would be as explosive as he has been."

The Nuggets can only offer a midlevel exception.
Thursday, July 7
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Stephon Marbury
Stephon Marbury
Knicks

Hawks?
76ers?

Marbury in the Middle
Jul 7 - Knicks president Isiah Thomas is denying reports that he is shopping his star player, Stephon Marbury. According to the New York Times and the Daily News, Thomas had this to say concerning the rumors: "That is so far from the truth. And I'm ashamed for you guys that you even have to ask me that, because there is absolutely no truth to it at all."

When told that several general managers confirmed that they had talked to Thomas about Marbury, the former Bad Boy erupted. "Tell the GMs, whoever the GM is, to put his name on it," Thomas said.

The New York Times had reported last week that two sources said the Knicks are open to moving Marbury. While ESPN Insider Chad Ford reported Marbury rumors concerning a sign-and-trade with the Sixers for center Samuel Dalembert and also a potential deal with the Hawks for forward Al Harrington.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Michael Redd
Michael Redd
Bucks

Bucks

He'll take the Bucks
Jul 7 - Michael Redd has agreed to re-sign with the Milwaukee Bucks, instead of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"He's going to get a max deal in Milwaukee for $90 to $96 million, depending on what the cap is, over six years," Redd's agent, Kevin Poston, told The Associated Press.

Redd cannot officially sign until the league's new collective bargaining agreement is completed.
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Nene Hilario
Nene Hilario
Nuggets

Kings?

King Nene?
Jul 7 - Apparently the Nuggets don't like the sound of that. Sacramento has shown interest in Nene and there have been rumblings about a sign-and-trade scenario involving him and Kings free agent guard Cuttino Mobley. But Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said he is not shopping his power forward, the Rocky Mountain News reports.

"I am not looking to trade Nene," Vandeweghe said. "I like him. I view him as one of our core guys."
Friday, July 1
WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY
Vlade Divac
Vlade Divac
Lakers

Lakers?

Lakers taking time with Vlade
Jul 1 - According to the L.A. Times, the Lakers and Vlade Divac have postponed a decision on the center's contract status until Sept. 30. The Lakers can pick up a one-year, $5.4-million option or buy him out for $2 million. The new deadline allows the Lakers to evaluate Divac's back and the development of rookie Andrew Bynum a few days before training camp.

"It's something that affords us a lot more flexibility in a lot of different ways," Laker General Manager Mitch Kupchak said.
__________________
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"You're being rude to me. Don't chain me down with your manners."
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