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Thursday , Jul , 08 , 2010 Christopher Sells

Witness the Decision

I'm pretty sure I like LeBron James a lot less today than I did about two months ago. Back then, he was a player who everyone was sure could lead his team to a title and was probably the unquestioned best basketball player on Earth.

Today, he's an attention whore who wants us all to anxiously await the moment he "decides" what team he's going to suit up for next season.

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Tuesday , Jul , 06 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Play it Safe or Gamble: Should Carmelo Anthony take Denver’s $65 million?

Nuggets all-star Carmelo Anthony is expected to take Denver's three-year, $65 million extension offer, an NBA source said, but Anthony doesn't have a timetable as he prepares for his wedding Saturday and waits to see how the Nuggets bolster their beleaguered frontcourt.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Does he play it safe or gamble?

On the one hand, Carmelo Anthony could go conservative and take the security of the Denver Nuggets' $65 million offer. After all, the the league`s financial structure is bound to change with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

So this could be the best offer he gets. His Nuggets are competitive. And Denver is a beautiful city. Add it up, and it seems an easy decision.

On the other hand, there's a case for playing out his contract, and rolling the dice on the open market. Anthony would be the prize of the 2011 free agent class, and could pick his next home.

For instance, Anthony could officially join Amar'e Stoudemire and the New York Knicks. And the Nets - if they strike out with free agents this summer - may save their cap space and chase 'Melo next July.

However, Anthony's decision won't come soon. The forward will first pressure the Nuggets to upgrade their roster.

It seems next summer's free agent drama is starting now.

-- Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at us in the comment box below.    

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Monday , Jul , 05 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Source on LeBron James’ future: ‘My gut tells me Cleveland’

The Bulls appeared to be the leading contender for LeBron James a week ago, but the Cavaliers are risen to the top of the leaderboard in recent days.

"My gut tells me Cleveland," an executive in the James chase told Yahoo! Sports. "From what I hear now, it his decision alone. No outside influences."

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Forget Michael Jordan's devastating double-pump jumper over Craig Ehlo in the NBA playoffs. Forget that those promising teams with Mark Price, Larry Nance, Ron Harper, and Brad Daugherty never fulfilled their potential. And forget the city's other sporting tragedies.
 
Cleveland would never recover from LeBron James leaving as a free agent to sign with the Chicago Bulls or New Jersey Nets. The Cavaliers would spend years in the lottery, and free agents would avoid Dan Gilbert's club like celebrities avoid TMZ. 
 
James re-signing with his hometown squad would be a boon for the state of Ohio. And hopefully, the three-man recognizes he has unfinished business because his last two playoff performances haven't been good enough.
 
He struggled against the Orlando Magic in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals, and imploded against the Boston Celtics' airtight defense in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
 
There's work to do in Cleveland. Ohio, James' home state, deserves better. After all, The King was supposed to bring championship glory to the Cavaliers. And that hasn't happened.
 
So James needs to hold his press conference. He needs to announce he's staying with Cleveland and sign on the dotted line. He needs to shake Gilbert's hand and smile for the cameras. And then he needs to recruit stars.
 
Most importantly, he needs to cut the nonsense and focus on his goal: winning an NBA Title with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
--Oly Sandor.
 
Well, get at us in the comment box with thoughts.   
Who has the better plan: Knicks’ 3 Star Plan, Nets’ Blueprint, Miami’s Super Team, or Chicago’s Business?
Friday , Jul , 02 , 2010 J.N.

Who has the better plan: Knicks’ 3 Star Plan, Nets’ Blueprint, Miami’s Super Team, or Chicago’s Business?

The sales pitch has got to be one of the toughest things to put together for any marketing team. It is one of those things that science alone cannot help them. The only way science can help is in producing the right numbers – the sweet science of money. There’s another science as well and that is the science of reproduction. Sex parties are the cure, but then again who wants herpes? That doesn’t cope well with these big name free agents doing public appearances. Even Delonte West gets clowned on and supposedly it’s just a birth mark.

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Thursday , Jul , 01 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Byron Scott to coach Cleveland Cavaliers -with or without LeBron James

Byron Scott has reached agreement on a three-year contract to become the Cleveland Cavaliers’ new coach, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The deal is expected to be finalized on Thursday.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: It's a big announcement, but not the one Cleveland Cavalier fans were hoping for.

Word is Cleveland owner and de facto GM Dan Gilbert will introduce Byron Scott as his bench-boss today, and the former sharpshooter is apparently excited to coach the Cavaliers -even if you-know-who, LeBron James, doesn't re-sign.

And perhaps he's right.

With James, Scott has a ready-built contender on his hand. Without him, Scott can take his time to reshape the roster -like he did with the New Jersey Nets and New Orleans Hornets.

Either way, in Gilbert, Scott has the rare owner willing to spend to compete. This is what drew him to the job.

Now Scott must wait to see how the situation unfolds in Cleveland.

Got thoughts? Get at O.Sandor and HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

The LeBron Free Agency Madness and Reporters’ Sources
Tuesday , Jun , 29 , 2010 J.N.

The LeBron Free Agency Madness and Reporters’ Sources

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!

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Tuesday , Jun , 29 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Nets save $3 million by trading Yi to Wizards for Ross

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.

The move allows the Nets to clear another $3 million in cap space to spend on free agency this summer.

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.

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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.

Got thoughts?       

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Sunday , Jun , 20 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Nets to trade for Chris Paul so they can sign LeBron James?

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.

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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.

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Tuesday , Jun , 15 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Hornets trading Collison to the Pacers for Jones, Rush, and/or Hansbrough?

"Speaking of Collison, the Pacers have reached out to New Orleans about the former UCLA point guard."

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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.

Enter Indiana.

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?

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Thursday , Jun , 10 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Will Tom Izzo scare LeBron James from Cleveland?

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.

That source discussed Izzo's future with a close confidant of Izzo, who is coaching in the NBA. The source told Katz that Izzo, who talked to his team earlier this week about his interest in the Cavaliers, is leaning toward taking the job if it is offered.

"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.

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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? 

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Wednesday , Jun , 09 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

New Jersey Nets get ‘credible’ with Coach Avery Johnson

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.

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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?

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Saturday , Jun , 05 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Coaching Carousel: Monty Williams to New Orleans; Tom Thibodeau to Chicago or 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.

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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?

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Tuesday , Jun , 01 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Vince Carter needs a dose of honesty

 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.

“I don’t.”

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.

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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.

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Tuesday , May , 25 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

End of L.A. Zen: Will Phil Jackson leave Lakers for Bulls or Nets?

"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."

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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.        

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Thursday , May , 20 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Nets fire Vandeweghe, Thorn stays as president

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.

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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.

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Saturday , May , 15 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Nets a Possibility for Shaq?

Cavaliers free agent center Shaquille O'Neal, a Newark native, told The Post he would consider the Nets as a destination this summer -- intrigued because they now reside in his hometown.

O'Neal, the Cavs "other" free agent, praised the new Prudential Center as being an NBA hotspot and said he would rather them not move to Brooklyn in 2013.
"I think it's better than most arenas, I think it's one of the best arenas in the country," O'Neal told The Post following the Cavaliers' stunning second-round elimination against Boston on Thursday night. "Hopefully they can stay there forever. I don't know what's going on with the Brooklyn situation, but it says a lot for the city of Newark."

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. 

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2010 LEBRON Vol. Where does he go?
Friday , May , 14 , 2010 J.N.

2010 LEBRON Vol. Where does he go?

It’s official. LeBron James is a free agent. He’s up for grabs. People were waiting to exhale. Don’t exhale just yet until the first week of July. The Boston Celtics has eliminated the Cleveland Cavaliers from the second round in a disastrous series.

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Wednesday , May , 05 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Yet Another Lawsuit to Hold up Atlantic Yards Project

Another lawsuit has been filed aimed at halting the Brooklyn development that includes a new arena for basketball's Nets.

Peter Williams says in his lawsuit filed Tuesday that he still owns the air rights over a lot that is part of the footprint of the Atlantic Yards project.

A spokesman for developer Bruce Ratner did not immediately return an e-mail seeking comment.

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.