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Monday , Aug , 23 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Derek Fisher and Steve Blake perfect duo for Lakers

The Lakers signed guard Steve Blake this summer, an addition that will likely help give veteran Derek Fisher some rest. Andy Kamenetzky of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes that the Lakers may have finally found an option to start over Fisher.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: The Los Angeles Lakers are expecting Derek Fisher to pass the baton to Steve Blake.
 
After all, Fisher is in his late thirties. Blake is an established pro, with a reputation for tenacity, intelligence, and feistiness.
 
Problem is, D-Fish' is a purple-and-gold cult hero, defying age with clutch shots and heady play.
 
For instance, Jordan Farmar and Javaris Crittenton were tabbed to replace the veteran. Both are with different teams, while Fisher - after much outcry - was re-signed this summer. 
 
Blake is a different breed, though. In December of 2007, he turned the Portland Trail Blazers' season around by participating in a practice that was more like Fight Club. He's also been known to train with MMA fighters.
 
Look for Blake to learn from and eventually replace Fisher. Like B.J. Armstrong replacing John Paxson, and Derek Fisher replacing Ron Harper, there will soon be a new lead guard in Phil Jackson's triple-post system.

And the world champion Lakers will only get stronger after this well-thought out transition.

--Oly Sandor.

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Wednesday , Aug , 18 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Ron Artest: ‘I partied hard as hell’ this summer

It's been fun -- a little too much fun. I partied hard as hell. I was gone. But the good thing is that I worked out (during that time). Last year at this time I was 270-something (pounds), and this year I'm 255, 258. I'm totally focused. Like this (cranberry and vodka drink in his hand) is probably my second drink in like a month, and usually in the summertime I get (his drinking) in. I get it in every night. But I'm going to come in at about 245, 240 this year, and get back to that Defensive Player of the Year weight.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It sounds like Ron Artest is mixing business and pleasure this summer.

And why wouldn’t he?

After all, the Los Angeles Lakers’ lockdown defender won his first NBA championship in June, saved the purple-and-gold with his clutch play in game seven of the Finals, and delivered the greatest celebratory interview in the history of pro sports.

To Artest’s credit, he didn’t overdo the partying this off-season, though. His weight is down and he’s determined to arrive at training camp at a spry 245 pounds.

The last time Artest tipped the scale at 245 pounds was 2003-04. That season he terrorized opponents for the Indiana Pacers and won the Defensive Player of the Year award.

If Artest can turn back the clock, if he can find his past Pacer form for the Lakers, then the two-time defending champions will be in line for the three-peat.

And Artest will be partying ‘hard as hell’ in the summer of 2011, too.

--Oly Sandor.

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Monday , Aug , 09 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Size matters: Al Horford must play PF for Hawks to contend

Hawks coach Larry Drew has told Al Horford that he wants him to spend more time at power forward this coming season. "[Coach] Larry Drew told me he wants me to play as a 'power forward' next season rather than at center," Horford said.

"I can agree on a lot as a player because that's what I've been all my life," he continued.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Size matters.

This is the Atlanta Hawks’ philosophy for 2010, and not the jingle for a Viagra ad or a late night infomercial.

The Hawks must super-size their line-up to compete with the top squads in the Eastern and Western Conferences, so they’ll give Al Horford considerable minutes at power forward, not center.

The Hawks are hoping to sign a legit seven-footer to play center. Josh Smith and Marvin Williams will split minutes at small forward, and may also see action at power forward.

Such a move is necessary. After all, the Hawks front-court was talented, but undersized in 2010.

And the rest of the league is big: the Boston Celtics have Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kendrick Perkins; the Orlando Magic has the hulking Dwight Howard; the Miami Heat will use Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Jamaal Magloire down low; and the Los Angeles Lakers’ frontcourt has exceptional length.

To compete, to have any chance at advancing past the second round, to go from good to great, the Hawks must shift Horford and become big.

--Oly Sandor.

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Thursday , Aug , 05 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Shaq to Jim Rome: ‘I challenge you to a boxing match’

"The Big Aristotle" is upset over comments Rome made on his radio show Wednesday. Rome said that Shaq's career was not as great as it could have been and that he "never approached the game with the dedication or discipline of Kobe Bryant," his former teammate on the Lakers.

He also added that Celtics GM Danny Ainge made a mistake in signing Shaq.

"Normally, I'm on board with what Danny Ainge does, but not this time. I don't like this move," he bluntly said.

Those barbs set the big man off. Shaq took to his Twitter account (THE_REAL_SHAQ) last night to fire back. "Jim Rome, I am happy with my career and the legacy that I have left behind, obviously u r not happy wit yur legacy I 4got u have no legacy," Shaq tweeted.

The 15-time NBA All-Star then laid out the challenge. "Forget the back and forth Jim Rome, I challenge you to a boxing match, live at ESPN studios, show the world you can back up the tuff talk," he posted.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: These two have history.

Jime Rome is based in Los Angeles. Shaquille O'Neal spent years with the Lakers.

So Rome has witnessed the best and worst of O'Neal. He saw the three championships and World Wars with Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson.

Rome never, ever missed an opportunity to comment on the soap opera that was the purple-and-gold. And Rome has never, ever missed an opportunity to comment on Shaq's career after he left the Lakers.

For instance, in early 2008, Rome had these thoughts on O'Neal's debut with the Phoenix Suns, which, if you're keeping count, was two teams ago.

(Romie calls Shaq 'The Big Has Been'.)

Later in 2008, the radio and television host even went on MadTV to 'interview'  O'Neal. The end result is rather hilarious. 

(The mumbling, full length sweat suit, and questions on Kobe's 'ball-and-chain' is gold.)     

With so much fuel on this already blazing fire, the Rome-Shaq beef is far from finished.

The best way Shaq can silence his longtime nemisis is to accept a reserve role with Doc Rivers' squad and help the Celtics raise another championship banner.

Even that may not be enough.

--Oly Sandor.

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Thursday , Aug , 05 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Report: Shannon Brown will pick Lakers over Knicks

Shannon Brown is "leaning" toward returning to the Lakers to go for a "three-peat", according to his agent Mark Bartelstein. Brown is expected to make his final decision on Thursday. The free agent has also been considering the Knicks.

"The Knicks did a great job selling Shannon on everything and their vision for him," Bartelstein said. "They did a great job, but the chance to go back and win a third championship for the Lakers is a tough thing to pass up. He'll make a final decision [today]."

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: You can't blame him for staying put.
 
Shannon Brown is young, so he'll sacrafice everything to remain with the Los Angeles Lakers: money, minutes, shots, and playing time.
 
After all, he has a chance at three-peating in Los Angeles, while the New York Knicks will struggle to secure one of the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
 
So the Lakers will likely win out on the Knicks. For now.
 
In a few years, Brown will have to take the largest contract available. And the new Collective Bargaining Agreement could hamper the Lakers' ability to keep valuable supporting pieces.  
 
However, the Staples Center faithful will be treated to another year of Brown's aerial antics.
 
--Oly Sandor.
 
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Fans forget how Shaq Diesel used to be dominant.
Wednesday , Aug , 04 , 2010 J.N.

Fans forget how Shaq Diesel used to be dominant.

A recent Shaquille O’Neal rumor has him close to signing a deal with the Boston Celtics to go on another adventure of ring chasing. It’s sad to see the old man like this chasing these things when he already has four. He is also a shell of his former self. The new generation of fans will probably only remember Shaq within the past 4 years. The long time fans barely remember O’Neal during his Orlando Magic days. Please don’t forget – Shaq was the most physically dominant center in the last 30 years.

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Friday , Jul , 30 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Will Shannon Brown leave Lakers for Knicks?

The Knicks have made a contract offer to Shannon Brown using a portion of their remaining salary-cap room, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: It would be great for the New York Knicks.
 
Shannon Brown - one of the league's most exciting players - running the floor with pogo stick post Amar'e Stoudemire and exciting Madison Square Gardens with their high-flying aerial antics. These two would dominate highlight reels and youtube clips for years
 
There is a catch: reserve guard Sasha Vujacic.
 
Brown's priority is to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers and vice-versa. But the two-time defending champions have no cap space.
 
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has to dump Vujacic's $5 million expiring contract to create enough cap space to re-sign Brown. No team wants the Slovenian, and if the purple-and-gold can't trade Vujacic, then they can't keep Brown.
 
Of course, Brown - with no chance of returning to the west coast - would then have to take the Knicks' offer.  
 
Bottom line: New York is Brown's back-up plan -even if it would be great.
 
--Oly Sandor.
 
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Wednesday , Jul , 28 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

No More Machine? L.A. Lakers looking to trade Sasha Vujacic

The Lakers are trying to trade guard Sasha Vujacic along with a future first-round pick in order to get his salary off the books, according to sources.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: The self-proclaimed 'Machine' could be finished in La-La land.

Word is the Los Angeles Lakers are trying to get rambunctious combo guard Sasha Vujacic and his expiring contract off their roster.

Los Angeles nearly traded the Slovenian for Delonte West's non-guaranteed contract before Cleveland moved him to Minnesota. And the club is still looking to deal Vujacic for cap relief.

At times, Vujacic has contributed. His three-point shot stretches defenses. He can get under the skin of opponents. And he's tight with superstar Kobe Bryant.

However, Vujacic is terribly inconsistent. His hair style, love life, and nicknames have often taken precedence over his on-court play.

Perhaps a change of scenery would benefit all involved.

--Oly Sandor.

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Sunday , Jul , 25 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Lamar Odom has no issue with newest Laker Matt Barnes

Lakers forward Lamar Odom is putting his differences with Matt Barnes in the past. Barnes will officially be introduced as a member of the Lakers on Tuesday.

"He's a teammate now," Odom said while in Las Vegas for USA Basketball training camp on Saturday. "That was an on-the-court issue and he has a Lakers jersey on now, so it will be no big thing."

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: They'll be fine.

Last year, Matt Barnes and Lamar Odom clashed when the Orlando Magic battled the Los Angeles Lakers during a regular season game in early March.

After the game, Odom told reporters Barnes behaved like 'an action figure' and 'monkey'. Barnes woke the next morning, read Odom's comments, and declared viral jihad on Mr. Khloe kardashian via twitter.

"Morning yall up early w/ the babies watchn Dora. Seems Lamar can't keep my name out his mouth maby I need 2 put my sons [expletive] diaper n it [sic]."


Of course, Barnes' intensity was a big reason the two-time defending champion Lakers signed him this summer. He'll defend. He'll hit the three. And he'll hold others accountable.

Like former Laker foe Ron Artest, he'll click with the guys. Chances are, him and Odom will get along.

-- Oly Sandor.

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Friday , Jul , 23 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Is Matt Barnes the Lakers` new Ron Artest?

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed free agent forward Matt Barnes, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Per team policy terms of the contract were not released.

Barnes, a seven-year NBA veteran, appeared in 81 games (58 starts) last season with Orlando, averaging 8.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 25.9 minutes while posting five double-doubles and leading the Magic in scoring six times, in rebounds on four occasions and in assists twice.


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HoopsVibe`s Very Quick Call: If you want to join the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, challenge them.

Two years ago, Ron Artest - then the star of the Houston Rockets – sparred with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in a classic Western Conference Semi-Final.

The Lakers prevailed in the series; however, Artest was the real winner, catching the eye of his foe and becoming a friend the following off-season when he inked a free agent pact with the purple-and-gold.

This year, Ron-Ron played a major role in the Lakers capturing their second consecutive NBA Title, and became a star with shout-outs to Queensbridge and his psychiatrist.

Flashback to the 2010 regular season, and Matt Barnes was a thorn in the Lakers` side. He battled. He defended. He talked smacked -declaring viral jihad against Lamar Odom, telling the forward on twitter he was going to put his child’s diaper in his mouth.

Naturally, Barnes signed with the Lakers this summer. Frankly, he’s perfect. The tough guy defends, hits the three, and, because he took a reduced salary, will keep the Lakers motivated in their quest for a third consecutive championship.

So Barnes got what he wanted. The defending champions got better. Sounds like the start of a beautiful friendship, which could end with a championship in June of 2011.

--Oly Sandor.

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Thursday , Jul , 22 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Unhappy Hornet: Chris Paul demands trade to Knicks, Magic, or Lakers

According to a source with knowledge of his plan, Chris Paul has requested that the Hornets trade him to the Knicks, Magic or Lakers before the season begins.

"He wants out," the source told Ken Berger of CBS Sports. "He wants to play with another superstar. He wants to follow LeBron's model of teaming up with other great players."

 
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: I know it. You know it. All of basketball knows it.
 
The 'it' is the worst kept secret in the NBA: Chris Paul does not want play for the New Orleans Hornets because they have no chance of contending.
 
None. So he`s requested a trade.
 
New Orleans is a small market that has always had trouble generating revenue. Factor in Hurricane Katrina, the financial meltdown, the recent oil spill, and fans and local businesses will have even less disposable income to support the club.
 
Currently, the Hornets can't possibly generate enough revenue to provide Paul with a star-studded supporting cast. Of course, owner George Shinn has always had notoriously short arms, so he won't dip into his pockets to make up the shortfall.
 
Paul is aware of this. He's seen the NBA become increasingly polarized the last few years. He's seen his buddies migrate to the league's have teams, and is determined not to be stuck with a have-not.
 
Now the jitterbug point guard wants out. This might not be a bad option. Young table-setter Darren Collison is waiting in the wings. The Hornets can get Paul's max' salary off their books, while receiving a package of expiring contracts, draft picks, and blue-chip prospects back.
 
However, the Paul quagmire speaks volumes about the current state of the league: the NBA is divided into a few rich teams and many poor teams.
 
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement's soft cap, luxury tax, and series of loop holes are a problem in this tough economy. And it is one of the many reasons a lockout is brewing.
 
I know it. You know it. All of basketball knows it.
 
Other than Paul's trade demands, a labour war in July of 2011 is the worst kept secret in the NBA.
 
--Oly Sandor.
 
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Friday , Jul , 16 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Matt Barnes to replace Tony Allen in Boston?

Since losing Tony Allen to the Grizzlies, the Celtics have warmed to the idea of signing Matt Barnes, according to an NBA source.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Losing Tony Allen may be a positive for the Boston Celtics.

While Allen's defensive game improved during the playoffs and in the NBA Finals, he had limits on offense. Defenders would slough off the athletic swing and dare him to fire away from the perimeter.

Matt Barnes is Allen's equal as a lockdown defender, but also stretches defense with his three-point range and intimidates. For instance, Barnes averaged 9 points per game last year with Orlando, mostly on a steady diet of outside shots.

However, the Mohawk's greatest asset is his intensity. In 2007, he was an integral part of the Golden State Warriors improbable upset of the Dallas Mavericks. And last season he declared viral jihad via twitter against the Los Angeles Lakers' Lamar Odom.

Barnes is reportedly announcing where he'll sign today. The mighty green-and-white is hoping he'll pick Boston and provide an upgrade on Allen. 

--Oly Sandor.

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Thursday , Jul , 15 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Lakers close to re-signing Shannon Brown

With Raja Bell choosing to sign with the Utah Jazz, guard Shannon Brown has moved closer to re-signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday night.

Lakers general manager “Mitch [Kupchak] and I have been talking and we’re getting there on something,” said Brown’s agent, Mark Bartelstein. Brown, 24, played 82 games for the Lakers, and averaged a career-high 8.1 points and 20 minutes last season.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: He wasn't their first choice. He will, however, be their choice.

After chasing and losing free agent lockdown defender Raja Bell to the Utah Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers have turned their attention to re-signing high-flying combo guard Shannon Brown.

While Brown lacks Bell's defensive pedigree, he energizes teammates and the Staples Center faithful with his high-flying antics. However, consistency was a problem, which forced the Lakers to consider other options.

Becoming steadier will be Brown's focus in 2011. And it looks like his season will be spent in LA.

--Oly Sandor.

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Wednesday , Jul , 14 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Dwayne Wade: ‘everyone’s shooting for’ Lakers, not Heat

Dwyane Wade isn't ready to buy into all the hype about the Heat, who added LeBron James and Chris Bosh last week.

Wade says the Lakers, who have won the NBA's last two championships, are the team to beat.

The Lakers are the champions and we know the Lakers are very good," Wade said Wednesday. "That's the team that everyone's shooting for and they should be. Not the Miami Heat. The Los Angeles Lakers."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Call: You can’t fault Dwyane Wade for trying.

In fact, you have to admire the superstar’s failed attempts at running a little smokescreen interference and deferring public enemy number one status to the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Yes, the purple-and-gold is still the team to beat. After all, to be the champs, you have to beat the champs.

No, the Miami Heat – with the controversial way The Big Three of Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade were assembled - is the team everyone will be shooting for.

No doubt about it.

Everyone - your granny, pastor, milkman, and even dog - has an opinion on The Great Free Agent Chase of 2010, culminating in LeBron James breaking up with Dan Gilbert, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and state of Ohio on national television.

Very quickly, the Heat has become the NBA’s undisputed villain in a plot that’s part Shakespeare, part Vince McMahon WWE. 

If Wade thought the attention was bad in 2007 following their NBA Title win, then he hasn’t seen anything yet.

--Oly Sandor.

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Tuesday , Jul , 13 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Fisher on re-signing with Lakers: ‘let the hunt for six begin’

The Lakers agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the veteran guard, bringing back a steadying locker-room influence and one of their top clutch shooters of the last decade. The contract was believed to be worth about $10.5 million, including a player option in the third year.

"I have decided to continue with Kobe, continue with our teammates and the fans of Los Angeles," Fisher said in a statement. "While this may not be the most lucrative contract I've been offered this off-season, it is the most valuable. I am confident I will continue to lead this team on and off the court. Let the hunt for six begin. . . ."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Listen closely and you’ll hear Laker-nation – led by the great Kobe Bryant - letting out a massive sigh of relief.

After all, the purple-and-gold had to have Derek Fisher. The emphasis is on ‘had to’. It wasn’t optional. 

The veteran is 36 years old, flops like he`s on the Italian national soccer team, has limits on both ends of the floor, and was surprisingly given the security of a three-year deal.

However, Fisher oozes leadership, has Robert Horry style skills down the stretch, and mediates like the UN when resident superstar Kobe Bryant and Coach Phil Jackson have a ‘tiff’.

Best of all, he can groom his replacement Steve Blake. Like Fisher, Blake is an assassin disguised as a nice guy.

Sure, the former University of Maryland star looks like he should be leading the Dungeons and Dragons club at the local comic shop instead of Jackson’s triple-post set or playing internet chess on Friday evenings instead of the cross-town Clippers.

Don’t get it twisted: Blake is a good guy off-court, but feisty as hell on it. In December of 2007, he sparked the Blazers’ turnaround by breaking chairs and fighting teammates at a now infamous practice. And he’s also known to dabble in mixed martial arts –for fun.

Look for Fisher to take to Blake. Look for Fisher to groom Blake. And this will cement Fisher’s legacy long after he’s gone.

This will be a great relief for Laker-nation.

--Oly Sandor.


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Monday , Jul , 12 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

No thanks Miami: Fisher expected to re-sign with LA Lakers

Derek Fisher received an offer of the veteran's minimum from the Heat over the weekend, but he is likely to re-sign with the Lakers.

Fisher reportedly received a $2.5 million offer for next season from the Lakers. He has been seeking a two-year contract with a starting salary closer to the $5 million he made last season.

 
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Thanks, but no thanks.
 
This will likely be Derek Fisher's response to the star-studded Miami Heat putting the full court press on him over the weekend.
 
After all, oil slick GM and soon-to-be coach Pat Riley showered him with praise in their meeting. And LeBron James, in his first act as a member of the Heat, greeted him at the airport.
 
However, there's a problem: Miami has zero cap space. After their recent spending spree, they could only offer Fisher a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum.
 
Of course, the veteran guard has a pretty nice offer in his backpocket. The two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers are offering a two-year, $5 million pact.
 
So why would Fisher leave the purple-and-gold and pass on a chance at three-peating? Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade aside, why would Fisher uproot his family from his home in California for less money and term?
 
Throw in Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom, and you get the sense Fisher will soon be re-upping with the Lakers.
 
Frankly, this is the way it should be, the way it should end for the 36 year old combo guard.
 
--Oly Sandor.
 
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Saturday , Jul , 10 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Report: Pat Riley and Derek Fisher meeting in Miami on Saturday

Lakers free agent point guard Derek Fisher has a meeting scheduled with Miami Heat president Pat Riley on Saturday, according to a source close to the situation.

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HoopsVibe`s Very Quick Call:  Does he join Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and the upstart Miami Heat or does he re-sign with Kobe Bryant and the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers?

Yes, Derek Fisher has a dilemma.

However, negotiations between the veteran point guard and the Lakers are progressing because the club raised their initial offer of one-year at $2.5 million.

And Fisher, at 36 years of age, would be hesitant to uproot his young family from LA and bolt on the purple-and-gold.

Of course, Heat GM Pat Riley, also known as the walking oil slick in the front office, is on a roll with his ‘Three Kings’ line-up of Bosh, James, and Wade.

Seriously, it’s like ‘Riles’ has jumped in the Hot Tub Time Machine and turned back the clock to the mid-eighties when he was, coincidentally, the famous coach of the purple-and-gold.

So what would seem a courtesy meeting between Riley and Fisher on Saturday could easily become something more.

--Oly Sandor.


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Thursday , Jul , 08 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Foes to friends? Shaq to sign with San Antonio Spurs?

The Spurs are the first choice of free-agent center Shaquille O'Neal, a source told FanHouse. O'Neal is looking to play two more seasons in the NBA. The source said that San Antonio and Atlanta are at the top of O'Neal's list and there is interest from both sides.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: They are complete opposites –like night versus day, sport utility truck versus European race car, and country rock versus glam’ hip hop.

But these former foes are on the verge of becoming friends. And a partnership - however unlikely the possibility seemed, say, five years ago - would work for both sides.

After years of doing battle during the regular season and playoffs, after years of trading insults on-and-off court, Shaquille O’Neal – once the glitzy star of the Los Angeles Lakers - is contemplating signing with the low key San Antonio Spurs.

Three words for Shaq and the Spurs: get it done.

O’Neal needs to join a veteran-laden contender like San Antonio, where he’ll be held accountable by players and the coach.

What attitude could he cope Tim Duncan, a first-ballot Hall of Famer and possibly the greatest power forward of all-time?

How could he talk back to Gregg Popovich, the league’s resident tough guy on the bench and a former military man?

He couldn’t.

And O’Neal would even have to watch how he treats co-stars like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who have both won three NBA championships.

However, this isn’t a one-sided arrangement. O’Neal – if healthy and that’s a big if these days – can still draw double-teams down-low and kick for the Spurs.

Best of all, he would provide a moxie; a confidence that it’s his inherent right to play in May and June for the championship.

In other words, exactly what was missing from the Spurs’ line-up when they meekly bowed out to the Phoenix Suns, an opponent they used to own, in the first round of the 2010 post-season.

These two former rivals must join forces. They need each other.

--Oly Sandor.


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Thursday , Jul , 08 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Ray Allen re-signs with Boston Celtics for 2 years, $20 million

The Boston Celtics' new Big Three will stay together to try for a second NBA title. Ray Allen confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday night that he has agreed to a two-year, $20 million contract to return to Boston.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: The Big Three is back in business, and returning to the Boston Celtics to complete the mission of winning a second NBA Title.

Of course, the green-and-white surprised the basketball world by advancing to the NBA Finals, where they lost a heartbreaking game seven to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Today, Allen inked a very fair two year deal for $20 million. Paul Pierce just re-upped for four seasons. Doc Rivers delayed retiring to Orlando. Kevin Garnett is under contract until July, 2012.

With their veterans returning, expect the Celtics to add blending pieces this off-season and take another run at a championship next spring.

-- Oly Sandor.

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Tuesday , Jul , 06 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Shaquille O’Neal would be ‘The Big Problem’ with Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have offered Shaquille O'Neal a two-year contract that starts at $5.8 million per season, according to NBA sources close to both the team and the player.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Is The Big Aristotle about to become The Big ATL?

Reports indicate Shaquille O'Neal is considering the Hawks' multi-year deal; however, it remains to be seen if this would be a fit for both player and team.

Shaq is desperate for another NBA Title. Unfortunately, good but not great Atlanta is hardly the spot for him to taste championship glory for the fifth time in his illustrious career.

Even if the Hawks signed the massive post, they wouldn't be better than the past two Eastern Conference champions: the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic. And they'd struggle with the Cleveland Cavaliers -provided Lebron James does the expected and re-signs later this week.

Meanwhile, Atlanta needs bench help, and not an aging five-man who spends a minimum of twenty games per season on the bench rocking designer suits.

When O'Neal is fit, he would demand minutes and touches, which would likely alienate a young, talented, and temperamental frontline of Al Horford, Josh Smith, and Marvin Williams.

However, the biggest potential issue would be with rookie coach Larry Drew because O'Neal has clashed with almost every sideline boss he ever had.

For instance, after leaving the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, he publicly slammed Phil Jackson and Pat Riley -both of whom are in the Hall of Fame.

This brings us back to Drew. The former back-up point guard is a career assistant, who got the head gig in Atlanta for one reason: he was cheap.  

So Drew has less credibility than former Phoenix Suns head coach Terry Porter, who O'Neal sabotaged, undercut, and compromised before he was replaced at mid-season by Alvin Gentry.

What would happen when Drew tells O'Neal to lose weight or defend the pick-and-roll?

Simply put, he can't. Frankly, Drew lacks the pedigree to truly hold O'Neal accountable. And this would surely become a problem for an impressionable team.

On the surface, this partnership sounds nice. Both O'Neal and Atlanta should take a pass, though. It's for the best.

--Oly Sandor.

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