People involved with the NBA and sports media are really sticking their necks and reputations on the line. I love it! Their true colors are shown. We have never witnessed anything like this before. The entire free agency arms race is 10x more explosive than the Big Network’s extravaganza about Brett Favre and his jeans. Everyone has a hard on for LeBron. Analysts on television, print, and radio are arguing against each other over speculations. Speculations? That’s another word for opinion. Get your popcorn and enjoy the freak show! I have!Read More
The New Jersey Nets traded Yi Jianlian to the Washington Wizards for Quinton Ross on Tuesday.
The Nets sent the Wizards $3 million to complete the deal and also received the Wizards' trade exception, according to league sources.
Yi is scheduled to make $4 million next season. Ross is set to make $1.1 million. The Nets should now have roughly $30 million in cap space to spend after the move, according to sources.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: One team's junk is another team's treasure.
Cap space is king for the New Jersey Nets, as the club needs financial flexibility to sign free agents this summer. And trading Yi Jianlian saves the Nets $3 million and puts them on equal footing with the Chicago Bulls.
Instead of conserving cap space to take a run at a big ticket free agent, the Washington Wizards are taking a different approach. The Wizards are acquiring assets on the cheap from teams who need to cut payroll to compete in the Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and/or Dwyane Wade sweepstakes.
For instance, the Wizards scored Kirk Hinrich on draft day. The cost: assuming the combo guard's $9 million per season salary.
Hinrich can back-up both guard spots and mentor first overall pick John Wall, while Yi will fill in for - and hopefully replace - injured four-man Andray Blatche.
Expect a few more of these deals before the July 1st free agent market opens.
There have been rumors that the Nets might pursue point guard Chris Paul through a trade. Since they don't seem to be all that high on any of the players they are likely to get with the No. 3 pick, such as Georgia Tech`s Derrick Favors, Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins or Syracuse`s Wes Johnson, they could trade the pick to get an established player.
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: They’ve been making nice.
Since being named coach of the New Jersey Nets, Avery Johnson and Devin Harris have praised each other publicly. Johnson has insisted he’s proud of Harris’ development, while Harris has insisted his development is because of Johnson’s teachings.
Can you feel the love?
Such a dog-and-pony show is necessary because these two had a tumultuous run together with the Dallas Mavericks.
Johnson was coaching a Maverick team that was expected to win a championship. As a former point guard he was particularly hard on Harris, a young table-setter with heaps of potential.
Something was off, though. Johnson quickly lost faith in Harris and signed off on a controversial trade that sent him to, ironically, the Nets for Jason Kidd.
But Kidd couldn’t put Dallas over the top. Johnson was promptly fired. Harris made the All-Star team in 2009, but struggled with injuries in 2010.
Yet, they are back together, insisting fences have been mended and Kumbaya has been sung. For now.
Reports indicate the Nets are dangling their 2010 draft pick in hopes of plucking Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets. CP3 heading to The Swamps of Jersey/Borough of Brooklyn makes sense for three reasons:
First, New Orleans is a struggling market. With second year point guard Darren Collison in the wings, they could swap Paul and his max deal for cheap talent.
Second, New Jersey is now a have-market. New owner Mikhail Prokhorov - also known as Russia’s richest man with a net worth of $18 billion - wants to make headlines this off-season. Acquiring Paul, who is arguably the game’s best point guard when fit and healthy, would achieve this end.
Third, and most importantly, Paul is tight with LeBron James, the jewel of the 2010 free agent class. And Prokhorov would surely use Paul and rapper/minority owner Jay-Z to recruit James to the East Coast.
So the Nets are looking to upgrade the one-spot. If Paul is acquired, Harris would surely be dealt.
Before dismissing this rumor remember that Nets’ senior executive Rod Thorn admitted to reporters that Harris and center Brook Lopez do not have untouchable status and could be moved.
Maybe Harris` lovefest with Johnson shouldn`t be believed. And maybe New Jersey trades him.
Got thoughts? Well, get at us in the comment box.
"Speaking of Collison, the Pacers have reached out to New Orleans about the former UCLA point guard."
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Indiana and New Orleans are two of the NBA’s smallest markets. Both have limited budgets. Yet, both are desperate to upgrade their roster.
And this is Corporal/Commissioner David Stern’s post recession problem: his league has become increasingly fractured and polarized into have and have-not franchises.
The have franchises – think Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, and New York – will spend their summer trying to land big-ticket free agents.
No expense will be spared. Mayors, politicians, celebrities, rap icons and even a president have tried wooing the game’s elite player to their club of choice
The have-not franchises – think Indiana, Minnesota, New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Memphis – will spend their summer scheming up creative and cost-effective ways to compete.
With this in mind, a Darren Collison deal would make some sense for the Pacers and Hornets.
Larry Bird’s club has to get better at point guard. TJ Ford – and his $8 million dollar salary – isn’t the answer. And Jamaal Tinsley’s $5 million pact is still on the books, even though he was released years ago.
Collison, a lightning quick table-setter, filled in admirably for injured superstar Chris Paul. Best of all, the UCLA alum has three years remaining on his rookie pact.
Meanwhile, reports that the Hornets and Paul were considering parting ways are false. Team and player are apparently committed to each other and sticking together.
However, New Orleans was always a poorer NBA market. Then Hurricane Katrina hit. Then The Great Recession came. And now there’s the Gulf Coast oil spill.
All contributed to the city’s struggling economy, which means there’s less disposable income for citizens to spend on disposable goods –like NBA tickets and luxury boxes.
So the Hornets can't generate the revenue to sign high or even medium priced free agents. Their best and only option this summer is trading the young and inexpensive Collison for other young, and inexpensive players.
They've got lockdown defender Dahntay Jones, athletic swing Brandon Rush, and blue-collar bruiser Tyler Hansbrough.
All are young. All are cheap. And all could play a role in The Bayou. Perhaps, Bird, Indiana's head suit, lets New Orleans pick two of these three players.
That said, nothing is imminent between the Pacers and Hornets. Expect them to keep talking. As mentioned, in today’s NBA, their options are limited.
Get at us with thoughts on this deal?
Tom Izzo is apparently closer to saying yes to the Cleveland Cavaliers than previously thought, a source told ESPN.com's Andy Katz on Thursday.
"Three weeks ago that wasn't the case, but it has changed,'' said the source.
Izzo is meeting with Cleveland to discuss the team's coaching vacancy on Thursday.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Right now, Tom Izzo is wrong for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Izzo is a great college coach. In time, he may defy the NCAA-to-pro curse and develop into a great NBA coach. With LeBron James' pending free agency, now isn't appropriate for the Cavaliers to gamble on a sideline boss who has never coached an NBA game.
Imagine James' position on July 1st when he hits free agency. Think of his choices on the bench: the New York Knicks have former Coach of the Year and Team USA assistant Mike D'Antoni; the New Jersey Nets just landed former Coach of the Year Avery Johnson; the Miami Heat - if need be - will bring Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley out of the executive suite; the Chicago Bulls recently hired defensive guru Tom Thibodeau; and the L.A. Clippers will even let James pick his coach and GM.
With these options available, why would James re-sign with Cleveland and a green Izzo? These two aren't buddies like James and University of Kentucky coach John Calipari. And Izzo, while talented, isn't Duke's Mike Krzyzkewski.
King James wants to win now. A rookie NBA coach, even one with Izzo's resume at Michigan State, may be just enough for him to leave the Cavaliers and sign elsewhere.
Will Izzo scare away LeBron?
The New Jersey Nets and ESPN analyst Avery Johnson have reached a verbal agreement to hire Johnson as the Nets' new coach.
Johnson is expected to be introduced on Thursday, said a person who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity because the team has yet to announce the deal.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: For a coach, credibility is everything.
Most NBA players earn more money than their coach. And player contracts are usually guaranteed for several years, while the typical coach's contract has a far shorter term.
So, players, especially stars, hold leverage over the man who, in theory, is their boss. With such a dysfunctional arrangement, players won't follow a coach they don't respect or believe in.
Fortunately, for the New Jersey Nets, Johnson has credibility to burn. He holds the all time best winning percentage for a sideline boss and led the Dallas Mavericks to the sixth game of the 2006 NBA Finals.
The current ESPN analyst will have the attention of the Nets' young core mostly because of his run with the San Antonio Spurs. Johnson may have been a role player, but The Little General's enthusiasm and leadership was key to the Spurs winning two NBA Titles.
Of course, this will be attractive to the summer's free agent class. Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Joe Johnson, and Dwyane Wade know of - and appreciate - Johnson's championship pedigree. So do second tier free agents like Carlos Boozer and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Expect the Nets to improve in 2010. And Johnson's credibility will be a big part of the turnaround.
Is Johnson the right hire for New Jersey?
The New Orleans Hornet quickly reached an agreement Friday night with Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Monty Williams to be their next head coach after Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau withdrew from consideration earlier in the day, according to sources close to the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com that Williams' deal will be made official no later than Saturday after Thibodeau, who was offered New Orleans' job last week, informed the Hornets that he plans to pursue opportunities with the Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets.
HoopsVibe's Quick Call: New Orleans got their man off the NBA coaching carousel. Well, sort of.
Once it became clear Boston Celtics defensive guru Tom Thibodeau had little interest in the Hornets gig, the club went all out for Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Monty Williams.
Williams is a fine choice. He's young, personable, hardworking and smart.
This, however, may not be enough to resurrect a Hornets squad that fell behind in the competitive Western Conference last year and lacks the financial resources to catch up through upgrading their talent.
Meanwhile, Thibodeau is a lock for a head coaching gig, either with the Chicago Bulls or New Jersey Nets. Of course, he'd also get serious consideration with Boston -if Doc Rivers retires at season's end.
Got thoughts on the coaching carousel?
I twice asked Carter if he would evaluate his postseason performance.
“I don’t do that,” he said.
You don’t assess and evaluate your own performance? Really?
Carter shook his head.
Meanwhile, the Magic paid him $17 million this season, and are on the hook for the same figure next year, unless they can unload him on a team that would like to get his expiring contract.
HoopsVibe's Quick Call: This is typical Vince Carter.
He always accepted the perks of superstardom, but never accepted the responsibility that goes with such status.
In Toronto, he took the money, fame, and courtside seats for his entourage/mom; however, he never put the work in to turn the Raptors into a contender. Too often, he was injured. Too often, his effort was questionable. And too often, he refused to grind on defense.
After forcing a trade to New Jersey, Carter publicly admitted he didn't always try his hardest for Toronto. With the Nets, he became a perimeter player and last year in Orlando was a bust.
Along the way, there has been a consistent theme: Carter won't hold himself accountable. This may change. After all, 2011 is a contract year for the eight-time All-Star and the all mighty dollar has a strange way of motivating.
Should Carter be honest with himself? Get at us with thoughts in the comment box.
In episode seven of Out of Bounds, Marija Kero runs through the draft lottery fall-out, Mikhail Prokhorov's comments and tackles the issue of Phil Jackson's comically large courtside seat.Read More
"There has been no direct contact between Bulls officials and Jackson, the sources told Broussard, but people close to both parties have spoken and come away with the belief that Jackson would be open to a potential reunion in Chicago next season.
Gar Forman, the Bulls' general manager, refused to comment on the club's coaching search when reached Monday night by telephone.
The Bulls are not alone in registering interest in a coaching reunion with Jackson. NBA coaching sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein on Tuesday that the New Jersey Nets have made similar back-channel inquiries about their chances of luring Jackson away from the Los Angeles Lakers at season's end."
HoopsVibe's Call: Money and power.
These are the reasons Coach Phil Jackson could leave the Los Angeles Lakers when his contract expires at season's end. Jerry Buss, the team's owner, wants the Hall of Fame sideline boss to reportedly take a $5.0 million salary reduction next season.
Jackson is earning $12.5 million for 2009-10, the last year on his contract. Buss hopes he'll do the exact same job in 2010-11 for $7.5 million.
There's also a power struggle going on. Buss is aging. He named his son, Jim, as successor -even though his daughter, Jeanie, enjoyed great success in the team's marketing department. Rumor has it Jeanie was passed over for the Lakers' top job because her long-term partner is Jackson.
Jackson, health permitting, has repeatedly said he wants to continue coaching the purple-and-gold. He's settled out west; his team will contend for years.
Still, with a huge pay cheque available and the chance to partner with a top free agent, Jackson could conceivably go back on his word.
Will Jackson leave the Lakers? Get at us in the comment box below with thoughts.
New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said Wednesday he will retain team president Rod Thorn, but will not ask general manager Kiki Vandeweghe to return when his contract expires this summer.
"His agreement expires this summer and I wish him well," Prokhorov told reporters.
HoopsVibe's Call: No surprise here.
Mikhail Prokhorov, who bears an uncanny resemblance to both Frankenstein and Drago from Rocky 4, feels Rod Thorn and celebrity owner Jay-Z provide the best opportunity to lure a top free agent this summer.
However, Vandeweghe, who gallantly saved sideline boss Lawrence Frank by firing him before he set the record for consecutive losses to start a season, deserves better for jumping on the sword and coaching this injured, inexperienced Net team.
Expect Vandeweghe, who has friends and contacts throughout the league, to land on his feet with a job shortly.
Should the Nets have fired Vandeweghe? Does Prokhorov look like Drago? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.
O'Neal has real-estate investments in Newark and is also intrigued in one day being a part-owner of the Nets because they now are in Newark. But he would want them to stay there. Shaq had long wondered why it took so long for the club to move to his hometown. Last season, while with Phoenix, he attended a Devils game at Prudential Center and got a grand tour by the owners.
Ratner plans an arena for the New Jersey Nets, who will become the Brooklyn Nets, plus 16 residential and office towers. The arena is to open in 2012.
New Jersey congressman Bill Pascrell has called for a government investigation (through the U.S. Treasury department, which monitors sanctions) of Prokhorov's business dealings in Zimbabwe, alleging the NBA's background check on Prokhorov was "disgusting."
There could be a pursuit of Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, though three times publicly he has said he is not interested. Jeff Van Gundy also is a favorite. And Johnson is in the mix.
Today, they’re the league laughingstock. Next season, they could be laughing.
Rapper and part owner of New Jersey Nets Jay Z released today a song with rapper Young Gunz.
The objective of the 2 minute track called "The Takeover" is to support the New Jersey Nets performance in the 2005 Playoffs.
The Nets have the difficult mission of facing the Eastern Conference's first seed, the Miami Heats.
The song is available for download at NJnets.com.