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Sunday , Mar , 20 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Rambis and coaching staff convenient scapegoat for Wolves?

What were the odds of Kevin Love's double- double streak ending at 53 Sunday with a reeking, 100-77, thud -- six points, a dozen rebounds in 33 minutes -- against an escort service like the pedal-to-the-metal Warriors? Can Kurt Rambis and the Timberwolves' ball handling play-callers rationally explain how Love merely managed to get six shots -- making one and 4-of-6 free throws? you would presume Rambis possesses the presence of mind and the coaching aptitude to get Love a few more field goal attempts, if not a couple more baskets.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the debacle that is the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Instead of focusing on improving, instead of focusing on becoming more competitive, the Timberwolves are focusing on Kevin Love’s double-double streak.

With all respect, who cares?

Sure, Love’s double-double streak is nice. It gives the Timberwolves, who are the league’s version of Siberia, some much-needed publicity.

But good teams focus on the one stat that matters: winning. Individual honours are either irrelevant or taken through the context of team success.

For instance, take Ray Allen becoming the NBA’s all-time three-point king. The Boston Celtics celebrated this achievement; however, it didn’t take away from their desire to win the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage.

Love’s double-double record was all the Timberwolves had, which is a problem. They need to focus on righting the ship and changing the club’s culture of losing.

This doesn’t necessarily mean firing Kurt Rambis and his staff of assistant coaches, and hiring another cheap selection of bench bosses to plug-up the problem.

Of course, blaming Rambis seems like the plan. After another horrendous season, the Timberwolves are looking for a scapegoat. And Rambis is perfect.

So why not point the finger at the Lakers’ former utility man for ruining the club’s one positive and everything else?

It doesn’t matter that he has a mediocre roster. It doesn’t matter that he has mostly young, inexperienced players. It doesn’t matter that the front office has failed to sign Spanish golden boy Ricky Rubio. And it doesn’t matter that just two years ago, Rambis was the first choice of the same front office that has now turned on him.

All signs are pointing to Rambis taking the fall. This is a cover for management, who have clearly committed their share of flaws, errors, and blunders.

If the Timberwolves don’t make legitimate changes, the one thing they do have, budding superstar Love, will surely leave as a free agent.

--Oly Sandor.
 
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Sunday , Mar , 20 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Blake Griffin concerned with Clippers owner Donald Sterling?

Blake Griffin is concerned with the way Donald Sterling manages the Clippers and is monitoring the situation, according to sources.

Sterling recently testified in Elgin Baylor's lawsuit against the Clippers for wrongful termination and the owner also had a mishap related to an advertisement for Black History Month that was actually scheduled for March and included Griffin's picture.

 
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Good for Blake Griffin. He has recognized the obvious: the Los Angeles Clippers’ greatest weakness is owner Donald Sterling.

After all, The Don has been embroiled in sexual harassment and discrimination suits, refuses to honour contracts of coaches and executives that he fires, and is more concerned with winning making money than winning.

Simply put, he’s a scumbag. And great teams typically have great owners. Not scumbags.

For instance, the San Antonio Spurs have a partnership of first-class businessman. The Boston Celtics owner is all class. And Jerry Buss, despite his idiosyncrasies and poor decisions, is perfect for the glitz and glamour of the Los Angeles Lakers.

So Griffin is right to try to use his skill and star power to initiate change at the top. Championship teams have stability and sanity at the top.

They don’t have an owner who is so cheap he won’t pay his assistant coach’s cancer bills when the team’s medical provider refuses to do so.

The Don must reform his ways if he wants to sign the NBA’s brightest young star to a multi-year extension. Even better, perhaps he has to finally sell the Clippers if his team wants to re-sign Griffin.

And this, not the highlight reel dunks or headlines, would be Griffin’s greatest accomplishment.

--Oly Sandor.

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Sunday , Mar , 06 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Celtics sign Heat castoff Carlos Arroyo

 

The Celtics have agreed to a contract with Carlos Arroyo, according to a league source. Arroyo's deal is for the pro-rated veteran's minimum for the remainder of the season.

 
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: One team’s junk is another team’s treasure.

The Boston Celtics have signed Carlos Arroyo, who was waived by the Miami Heat after they signed veteran point guard Mike Bibby.

Yes, the contenders in the Eastern Conference have been playing musical chairs at the one-spot.

After all, the Atlanta Hawks traded Bibby to the Washington Wizards for Kirk Hinrich at the trade deadline. Bibby was promptly bought out and signed with the Heat, which led to South Beach giving Arroyo, who started much of the season, his walking papers.

The Celtics had an opening because they sent Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of the Kendrick Perkins-for-Jeff Green blockbuster.

So what will Arroyo bring to the green-and-white?

Well, he’s a veteran. Arroyo has been around the league and can help off the bench or start when absolutely necessary. He’ll also have some idea as to how the Heat operate, and could provide invaluable info in a best-of-seven series.

Both the Celtics and Heat are expecting to meet in the playoffs. What a match-up that could be.

--Oly Sandor.

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Saturday , Mar , 05 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Channing Frye on Kevin Garnett: ‘People just aren’t afraid of him’

 

Frye later added, "People just aren’t afraid of him. It's just not as concealed. I think an elbow here, maybe tripping somebody or grabbing hold of them, that happens and it’s just people playing hard. But other stuff is a little different, being a little disrespectful. It is what it is. He plays like that and that’s what he does. Everybody knows it, but it’s not like I’m out here thinking what am I supposed to do against KG."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Kevin Garnett is always in the middle of ‘it’.

The ‘it’ refers to the delicate grey area of the game; the Boston Celtics’ post specializes in giving elbows, shoves, and/or pokes that draw the ire of opponents.

This, of course, is the point.

Garnett is no longer a top five player, capable of dominating purely with skill. As an older, complementary player, the veteran has more and more turned to, well, ‘interesting’ tactics.

And folks are taking note. Like Andrew Bogut and Charlie Villanueva.  Even famed movie director Spike Lee has weighed in on the KG debate.

To be fair, Garnett was a similar player in Minnesota. But he never won much or made regular appearances on TNT and ESPN, so the elbows and knees were less of an issue.

However, the green-and-white has the second best record in the NBA. Last season, they were a game away from winning their second championship in three years.

So Garnett is getting attention. He won’t change, though. Not a thing. No matter what Channing Frye and others think or say.

--Oly Sandor.

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Wednesday , Mar , 02 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Celtics, not Heat, sign Troy Murphy

Troy Murphy has decided to sign with the Boston Celtics.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: The rich just got richer. Today, the Boston Celtics won the first round of the veteran’s buyout war, signing free agent Troy Murphy to a pro-rated one year contract.

Translation: Murphy is a short-term rental. 

The left-handed post was dealt from the New Jersey Nets to the Golden State Warriors at the trade deadline. The Warriors then bought Murphy out, giving him the opportunity to choose his next team.  

Murphy will add depth off the bench for the Celtics and can start if Shaquille O’Neal and/or Jermaine O’Neal aren’t healthy.

Whatever his role, Murphy will rebound and extend opposing defences with his deadly three-point range.  

Most importantly, the green-and-white prevented Murphy from signing with the rival Miami Heat. And such a signing could be the difference between winning and losing the Eastern Conference championship.

--Oly Sandor.


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Wednesday , Mar , 02 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

A Thunderous Deal: Why Perkins is worth $35 million extension

The Oklahoma City Thunder have signed center Kendrick Perkins to a multi-year contract extension, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Per team policy, the terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but Yahoo! Sports reports that it will pay Perkins $34.8 million over four years.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: They got their man at the trade deadline. Now they’ll keep him for a while.

Once again, the Oklahoma City Thunder has scored a victory, extending newly acquired Kendrick Perkins to a very reasonable four-year, $35 million contract.

The Perkins-for-Jeff Green trade between the Boston Celtics and Thunder was controversial, but there’s little doubt the massive five-man can help Sam Presti’s club.

Consider the following facts:

First, Perkins’ size and toughness will help a Thunder club that was deemed too soft in the paint to challenge the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in a seven-game series.

Second, Perkins can serve as a defensive anchor. This will appeal to coach Scott Brooks, who implores his young Thunder to get stops.

Third, Perkins has attitude –lots of it, in fact. Whether glaring at refs, opponents, or occasionally teammates, Perkins accepts nothing less than winning.

Finally, Perkins acquisition could be a case of addition by subtraction. Green, a talented forward, wasn’t fitting in with the Thunder. Trading him solidifies the team’s core.

There is much discussion about Perkins’ worth. Some of these comments are fair; some of these comments are unfair.

When healthy, Perkins is a top defensive center, and this is exactly what the Thunder needed.

--Oly Sandor.


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Losing Kendrick Perkins Doesn’t Matter
Sunday , Feb , 27 , 2011 Paul Eide

Losing Kendrick Perkins Doesn’t Matter

 

Even with Carmelo Anthony finally going to the Knicks and Deron Williams sudden trade to the Nets, the most talked about trade completed before Thursday’s deadline was the trade between the Celtics and Thunder. Boston sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.
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Saturday , Feb , 26 , 2011 Oly Sandor

Rumor: Celtics keeping an eye on Troy Murphy?

Meanwhile, Boston will continue to monitor the buyouts going on around the league with eyes toward adding as many as two more players with its available roster spots. All eyes seem to be on Troy Murphy, the sharpshooting big man who was traded to Golden State this week and could wind up available.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: As hard as it may be, the Boston Celtics have to get over Kendrick Perkins’ departure.

Sure, Perkins was their heart-and-soul, but trading the large five-man to the Oklahoma City Thunder was prudent -especially since the club weren’t prepared to extend him to the tune of $10 million per season.

Moving on means attempting to sign free agent Troy Murphy. The veteran was recently traded to the Golden State Warriors, who will buy him out.

All it will cost is money, specifically a pro-rated portion of the veteran’s minimum. And Murphy will contribute on the glass while stretching defenses with his outside range.

In fact, he’d have a similar role to former reserve Rasheed Wallace, who was with the Celtics in 2008 and 2009.

And Murphy will be motivated. He’d didn’t fit in New Jersey and ended up getting banished from the team by Nets coach Avery Johnson.

Such a situation has to appeal to a player’s sense of pride. So signing Murphy in a few weeks may help the Celtics' players, coaches, and fans forget Perkins.

--Oly Sandor.

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Friday , Feb , 25 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

A win-win: Celtics, Thunder swap Perkins for Green

The Celtics have agreed to send Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder in exchange for a package built around Jeff Green. Green and Perkins will both be free agents this offseason, while the former will be restricted. Nenad Krstic and Nate Robinson will also be included in the deal.Boston will also receive the 2012 first round pick of the Clippers from Oklahoma City.

 
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: It's a win-win for the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder.

The green-and-white either couldn't afford or wouldn't foot the bill to keep center Kendrick Perkins in Beantown. In Green, they get a swing that can play now and assume a greater role when Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce retire.

Meanwhile, Green wasn't a fit for the Thunder, so dealing him for Perkins made sense. The rugged rebounder will anchor Coach Scott Brooks' defence and assist Serge Illbaka in the middle.

Of course, with any trade there's risk. For instance, Green will be a restricted free agent in July. Getting his name on a long-term extension may not be easy.

Perkins will be an unrestricted free agent and could walk on the Thunder at season's end. For instance, there are rumblings he'll pair with current Celtics coach Doc Rivers down in Miami.

That, however, is for tomorrow. Today, the Celtics and Thunder should celebrate a mutually beneficial trade.

--Oly Sandor.
 
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Wednesday , Feb , 23 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Warriors acquire Troy Murphy, Buyout coming?

The Warriors and Nets are close to finalizing a multi-player trade, according to sources. Golden State will send Dan Gadzuric and Brandan Wright to New Jersey for Troy Murphy and a 2012 second round pick.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Wait a second. Wasn’t Troy Murphy supposed to go to the Denver Nuggets as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade?

That’s right. Anthony declined the New Jersey Nets’ overtures and is now a New York Knick.

Anyway, the Nets wasted little time sending Murphy back to his first NBA team, the Golden State Warriors, for Dan Gadzuric and Brandan Wright.

Murphy isn’t returning home for a reunion or coming full circle, though.

In a day or so, the Warriors will buyout whatever is left on his expiring contract and allow him to hit the free agent market.

Murphy will then have his choice of contenders, and the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, and Orlando Magic are all expected to show interest.

On paper, the Magic makes the most sense. Murphy can help center Dwight Howard on the glass, while stretching defenses with his three-point range –like Rashard Lewis before he got moved to the Washington Wizards.

One issue will be Murphy’s conditioning. He has only played in 18 games due to injury and a bizarre banishing by Coach Avery Johnson.

After months of frustration, the left-handed veteran will hit the court. For the first time in his nine year career, he could see playoff action, too.

However, what exactly Murphy can contribute is unknown.

--Oly Sandor.


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Wednesday , Feb , 23 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant: ‘You can’t beat me in June’

After practice, Bryant was still reflective not only about the twilight of the regular season but also the twilight of his career and the opportunity to pass on what he has learned to younger players at the All-Star Game. When Bryant was asked how he feels about being an elder statesman he simply laughed. "It doesn't matter to me," he said. "You can't beat me in June. All the other stuff doesn't matter."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: He put it out there.

Kobe Bryant isn’t worried about the Los Angeles Lakers’ struggles. Not one bit. In fact, the MVP of 2011 All-Star game likes his chances against all comers in the playoffs when the Larry O’Brien championship trophy is at stake.

Part of me respects his confidence. And part of me thinks his team deserves greater respect.

After all, many have already buried the purple-and-gold, claiming they’re too everything: too old, too slow, too apathetic, and too Hollywood.

When that gets tiresome, they claim the purple-and gold aren’t enough like the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, or San Antonio Spurs.

Perhaps they have a point, but basketball is the only sport where the two-time defending champion would be written off for dead before the playoffs.

There’s still life in these Lakers, especially if Andrew Bynum stays healthy, Ron Artest regains his old form, and Matt Barnes recovers from injury to bring toughness off the bench.

However, a three-peat begins and ends with Bryant. And this boils down to one question: would you bet against him in June?

--Oly Sandor.

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Sunday , Feb , 13 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Detroit fan to LeBron: ‘Is your mom going to Boston for Valentine’s Day?’

'Is your mom going to Boston for Valentine's Day?'” the heckler repeated, sounding both thrilled that he had an audience with LeBron and intimidated by the moment.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Those would be fighting words.

Yesterday, HoopsVibe News reported that Miami Heat superstar LeBron James warned a Detroit Pistons fan not to ‘be disrespectful’.

What the fan said to draw James’ ire was unknown. James, who has a fairly thick skin when on-court, was visibly shaken by by the incident.

Well, today we found out.

The fan referenced a rumor about James’ mother having an affair with former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Delonte West, who now plays for the Boston Celtics.

This line isn’t new to James. It may or may not bother him. However, his kids where at The Palace in Auburn Hills and he didn’t want them hearing rumors about their grandmother and West. So he stepped up.

Fair enough.

(Audience discretion is advised.)

--Oly Sandor.

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Friday , Feb , 11 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

LeBron James: ‘I’m back to playing LeBron James basketball’

"I'm in my zone, in a comfort zone where I've been the last two years," James told Sun Sports. "It took me a little while to get here, but I'm very comfortable with this team. I'm very comfortable with the sets, offensively and defensively. "And I'm back to playing LeBron James basketball."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Things are gelling between the Miami Heat and LeBron James.

After all, the MVP dropped a third-person reference, which is always a sign of comfort for an NBA superstar.

Nobody should be surprised by James’ success. He’s physically blessed and incredibly talented; however, his basketball IQ and passing ability are his true strengths.

The critics will remind James there’s a difference between feeling comfortable in the regular season and winning during the playoffs. The Cavaliers, his former team, imploded for two straight playoffs.

The critics will also contend that Miami’s holes at the one and five spots are too great for Chris Bosh, James, and Dwyane Wade to overcome –especially if the Boston Celtics can stay healthy.

So James will need his comfort zone to prove the critics wrong and win a championship. And then there will be a barrage of third person references.

--Oly Sandor.

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Tuesday , Feb , 08 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Lamar Odom: Kobe Bryant wants to be better than Michael Jordan

He wants to be better than Michael Jordan. Most people would be scared to admit that because that guy was that good and did that much. So you have to understand that what Kobe’s trying to get as a basketball player and what it takes to get there, a lot of us don’t even have the gall, the balls, the will.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Put the blame on Lamar Odom.

In a recent interview, the Los Angeles Lakers’ renaissance forward re-opened the Pandora’s Box known as Kobe-versus-Mike.

Odom states that Kobe Bryant’s goal is to be better than Michael Jordan, and the Black Mamba believes he can achieve this by passing His Airness’ total of six championships.

If only it were so simple.

Championships are one measure of a player’s greatness. The other has to be how that player performed during those championship series. In the other words, when the chips were on the line, what did the player do?

In this respect, Jordan has Bryant beat. It’s not even close.

After all, Jordan went six and zero in the NBA Finals. He never lost; nobody could touch him, as he won six Most Valuable Player awards.

Bryant is 5-2 in the NBA Finals. His Lakers have lost to the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics. For his first three championships, Bryant was a co-star next to the ‘Most Dominant Ever’ in Shaquille O’Neal.

Bryant wants to be better than Jordan; however, he can’t touch The Greatest of All Time. Not now; not ever.

--Oly Sandor.

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Tuesday , Feb , 08 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Could OKC Thunder really get Kevin Love?

I’m not saying the Wolves are or should be looking to trade Love- the sole issue at point is that they would not hang up the phone immediately if Sam Presti came calling.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: On the surface, it doesn’t sound realistic –Kevin Love joining Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook with the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder.

Here are two facts about Sam Presti, the Thunder’s lead executive, resident whiz kid, and one of the up-and coming suits in pro sports.

First, after making his bones with the San Antonio Spurs, Presti has rebuilt the Thunder through astute drafting, collecting undervalued assets, and maintaining fiscal sanity. He’s ready to use some of these excess chips to put his club over-the-top with a significant trade and/or signing.

Second, that may mean trying to bring the league’s leading rebounder to Oklahoma City. After all, Presti has a plan for every situation and scenario, and knows how well Love would complement Durant, Westbrook, and the raw Serge Ibaka.

Right now, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Love seem connected. The country strong post has given the lowly Wolves an identity for the first time since you-know-who was dealt to the Boston Celtics.

These two are far from married, though.

Love may be having a fine season; however, he’s not untouchable. He has shown little interest in inking a long-term extension with the Wolves. His relationship with Coach Kurt Rambis is touch-and-go.

Bottom line: Love wants to win now. No more waiting; no more rebuilding. He knows he won’t win championships in The Frozen Tundra of Sota.

While it isn’t likely, Love to the Thunder isn’t impossible. It makes some sense. For now, that will keep us talking.

--Oly Sandor.

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Sunday , Feb , 06 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Kendrick Perkins and Doc Rivers to Miami?

According to two league sources, Perkins has already turned down a Celtics offer that is bound by the CBA’s current restrictions — a contract extension worth slightly less than $30 million over four years, which reflects the currently mandated contract limits of a 20-percent increase and a four-year maximum. Perkins, represented by agent Arn Tellem, has opted to wait until he is an unrestricted free agent, when even in an unpredictable market he has a chance of commanding far more.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: On the one hand, Kendrick Perkins is making a business decision. On the other hand, that business decision could take him from the Boston Celtics and put him with, say, the Miami Heat.

Reports indicate the rugged five-man rejected the Celtics four-year, $30 million contract offer because it reflected the standard 20% raise as mandated by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Even with the league’s financial landscape bound to change with a new CBA and a potential work stoppage looming, Perkins stands to earn more as an unrestricted free agent.

Will he be making that extra paper with the Celtics, though?

Every team needs a defensive anchor, including the star-studded Heat. Perkins would clog the middle for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, while relieving Chris Bosh of his defensive anchor duties.

However, the tipping point could be Coach Doc Rivers. Rivers and Perkins have a good relationship, which could continue down south.

Rivers has always wanted to return to Florida to be near family. In fact, he nearly quit the green-and-white after the 2010 Finals and essentially operates on a series of one year contracts.

If the Heat fails to win the 2011 championship, Coach Erik Spoelstra will be replaced, and the personable Rivers would be the top candidate for the gig. And he could use his relationship with Perkins to lure him to South Beach.

Yes, the business of basketball works in funny ways. And it could see Perkins and Rivers together with the rival Heat next season.

--Oly Sandor.

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Thursday , Feb , 03 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

In or Out? What’s Artest’s future with the Lakers?

"I think Ron enjoys being in L.A," Phil Jackson said. "I think he likes the Lakers. I think he likes the action. I think he likes the attention we get as a basketball club. I think that feeds into who he is as a person." Artest was admant that he doesn't want to be traded. "I feel good every day," Artest said. "We've got a chance to win multiple championships here...trying to work towards another banner."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: He’s out. No. He’s in.

In less than 24 hours there have been conflicting reports on Ron Artest’s future with the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Yesterday, Marc Stein reported that Artest had requested a trade. The ESPN reporter quoted an unnamed source who mentioned that the three-man was tired of being blamed for the team’s struggles and wanted a greater role in the offense.

Today, the Lakers were in damage control mode, with player and team both denying the report.

Forget the rumors. All is not well with the purple-and-gold.

Part of this is boredom. The Lakers have had two especially long seasons, playing from October to the end of June. They’ve also been in some epic game sevens, which probably makes it tough to play the Memphis Grizzlies in January.

Part of this is fear. Everybody else is better –much better. The Miami Heat have the Three Kings in Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade; the Boston Celtics are deeper, especially down-low; the San Antonio Spurs’ Big Four dominate both ends of the floor. 

The Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic, and Oklahoma City Thunder also have designs on winning a championship.

So ‘three-peating’ won’t be easy. Artest and the Lakers have to focus on the challenge.

--Oly Sandor.


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Sunday , Jan , 30 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant on Shaq wearing Celtic green: ‘I don’t think it’s too weird’

"I don't think it's too weird," said guard Kobe Bryant, who had a contentious relationship with Shaq during the center's time with the Lakers from 1996 to 2004. "I don't really hold too much significance to the fact that he's playing with the Celtics. I don't think Laker fans as a whole are. I don't think it's that big of a deal."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It’s not weird. Really, it’s not.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant doesn’t believe there’s anything unusual about former teammate and partner-in-crime Shaquille O’Neal being a member of the Boston Celtics.

Bryant and O’Neal won three consecutive championships with the purple-and-gold. And O’Neal was the face of the Lakers before their feuds forced him east to the Miami Heat.

I’m not buying Bryant’s no-comment. Neither should you.

Bryant and O’Neal are still rivals. Tension still exists from the World Wars. It’s just under the surface and can manifest itself at any moment.

For instance, right after winning his fifth championship last spring, Bryant boasted to the throngs of reporters that ‘he now had one more than Shaq’.

Perhaps that comment drove O’Neal to sign a two-year deal with the Celtics last summer, even though it meant accepting less minutes, shots, and spotlight.

O’Neal probably believes he could’ve been the difference in last year’s NBA Finals when the Lakers needed seven-games to beat, you guessed it, the Celtics.

So Bryant and O’Neal are rivals. These Lakers and Celtics are rivals. And historically, the Lakers and Celtics have always been great rivals.

But hey, Shaq on the Celtics isn’t weird. Really, it’s not.

--Oly Sandor.


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Wednesday , Jan , 26 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Jerry West: ‘I don’t think the Lakers will be good for much longer’

Jerry West's words -- "The reason you 'can't play defense' is because you can't!" and "I don't think the Lakers will be good for much longer" -- stung the Lakers. Bryant nodded in agreement when informed of the substance of West's criticism and Derek Fisher offered the utmost respect for West, who drafted the veteran guard as a rookie in 1996.

 
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It doesn’t matter that he was an All-Star on-court and in the executive suite for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Jerry West, possibly the most influential member of the purple-and-gold clan, believes the two-time defending champions have lost their motivation and are too old to continue their reign atop the NBA standings.

Perhaps he’s right. Now is not the time to make this assessment, though.

The Lakers are currently mired in the grind of the regular season. The games mean little. And because their defence is still solid they can win playoff rounds without home-court advantage.

That’s the positive news. The negative news is that the Lakers have stagnated, while the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and San Antonio have gotten better. Much better.

These teams might not have enough to overthrow the Lakers in the playoffs, but it will be closer than previous years. And some, like West, believe the NBA will crown a new champion.

--Oly Sandor.

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