You may not know the name Tom Penn, but front office people throughout the league do — He’s a guy in line for a GM job somewhere. He is Portland’s Vice President of Basketball Operations and a key part of their staff with general manager Kevin Pritchard that has rebuilt Portland into an up-and-comer.
Make that was. Penn was fired late Tuesday.
Officially, team president Larry Miller said it was about the dreaded “philosophical differences” in a statement.
“We felt it was in the organization’s best interest to move in a different direction at this time,” Miller said. “This was not an easy decision, as Tom has played an integral role for us the past three seasons. We thank him for his contributions and wish him the best in the future.”
Penn had been at the forefront of those considered for the Minnesota general managers job last spring, but he got a promotion and stayed in Portland (reports vary on whether or not he was offered that job). When Jason Quick from the Oregonian talked to Penn he did not go into any details, other than to say he was “surprised” and “disappointed.”
Penn was regarded as a top salary cap guy — he helped write the last Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2005. He had worked in both the Memphis and Portland front office.
What really happened is all speculation. But that can be fun, so here’s some guesses.
First, he reportedly ticked off Blazers owner Paul Allen two years ago in the draft war room when they got Greg Oden. Allen is a very involved owner, you don’t get on his bad side. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo added on Twitter.
League sources have been describing unrest in front office for months, centered on Pritchard’s inability to get new contract after Penn did.
Whatever the reason, expect this to be the first domino of several to fall in front office moves in the coming months.
Good on Latrell Sprewell for doing this, poking fun at his image.
It would have been funnier with P.J. Carlesimo, but David Robinson is a quality contrast. Well done, Priceline.
Carmelo Anthony has the hammer — he has a no-trade clause in his contract. If he doesn’t want to be traded, he’s not getting traded. End of story.
Also, he loves New York.
So when he went on SiriusXM NBA Radio Saturday and was asked about the trade rumors linking him to Cleveland, ‘Melo shot those down.
There were exploratory talks involving Kevin Love going to Boston — the Knicks might have been the third team in such a deal — but the buzz around Toronto (where the NBA World has gathered for the All-Star Game) is those talks have stalled. It’s not impossible that they are revived, but don’t bet on it.
The Cavaliers are a win-now team, and if they move the floor-spacing Love they need to bring in pieces that get them closer to a title. They don’t see that now.
As for Anthony, he re-signed in New York and said he wanted to be there (and get paid.). While there may be people in his camp that think him moving on would be a good for his career, the man himself doesn’t want to go anywhere. And Carmelo Anthony has the hammer.
TORONTO (AP) — LeBron James is amused over all the fuss that accompanied Tyronn Lue getting the chance to coach the Eastern Conference in Sunday’s All-Star Game.
The honor typically goes to the coaching staff of the team leading their respective conference at the break, provided that staff didn’t also coach in the game the year before. So when the Cleveland Cavaliers fired David Blatt and promoted Lue from his assistant spot to being the coach in charge, that meant Lue also got the All-Star duty.
And while it might seem strange to some, James was quick to point out Friday at the All-Star media day that Lue “would have been here anyways, even if coach Blatt was still our coach.”
James has been criticized for what many presume to be his role in Blatt’s dismissal, and the four-time MVP says he isn’t letting that perception bother him. He also didn’t take the bait when asked to describe differences between Blatt and Lue.
James’ answer: “Their height.”
For the record, Blatt (6-foot-3) is listed to be about three inches taller than Lue.
TORONTO — Kobe Bryant has been loyal to the Lakers for 20 seasons (if you ignore some “trade me” tantrums along the way). He’s also been über competitive.
Those same qualities are what he most appreciates about Dirk Nowitzki.
Kobe talked a little Dirk during his All-Star media availability Friday.
“Dirk and I have always had a great relationship because we’re both extremely competitive. Also both extremely loyal to our teams,” Bryant said.
“I’ll tell you a story about Dirk. He was up for free agency, and I knew what his response was going to be. But out of respect, everybody’s looking around at all these free agents, I felt I’d shoot you a text, if you want to come to L.A. He goes, ‘I would love to play with you, but Dallas is my home. This is my team. I’m not leaving here.’ So he and I think a lot alike in that regard.”
Nowitzki’s last couple free agencies have been mere formalities, nobody around the league thought he would leave Mark Cuban or Dallas. The only questions were money and years — in 2014 the Lakers reportedly offered the max to Nowitzki, who took three-years, $25 million from Dallas so the Mavs could rebuild their roster. It’s all part of that loyalty — and it’s worked out, Nowitzki and Cuban have a ring.
Kobe’s respect for Nowitzki was clear when Dirk nailed a game winner against the Lakers this season, Kobe just nodded his approval from the bench.
One of the best things the past couple seasons about Kobe, and especially this season with just about to retire Kobe, is that he is giving honest answers. He doesn’t care what people think. That leads to honest moments and great stories.