Wolves make roster moves for playoff push

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After dropping 13 of their last 13 games, the Minnesota Timberwolves knew it was time to make a change. So they’re bringing in the big guns, and likely re-signing two-time MVP Brian Cardinal for the home stretch.

The Wolves are just 28 games out of the final playoff spot in the West, meaning that Cardinal’s services are as vital as ever. He averaged an impressive 1.7 points and 0.9 rebounds per game this year in 27 contests for the Wolves until he was included in a trade that brought in former All-Star Darko Milicic.

Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson were firmly opposed to the move, implying that it was unfair and disrupts the competitive equity of the game. From Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, modified for the sake of specifics and accuracy (and Brian Cardinal):

“They’re going to get [Cardinal] back and it’s going to be one of
those scenarios that we see in the NBA where you ship a player out, you
get another player, then your player retires or they pay him off and
then he comes back in 30 days,” Jackson said. “I don’t know what that
does for the league. I think that’s kind of a weird situation.”

Rivers agreed with Jackson, even though the loophole has helped his team in the past.

“I
have a problem with that,” Rivers said before Thursday’s Lakers-Celtics
game at Staples Center. “I loved it three years ago when we did it with Gary Payton if you remember, but now I think it sucks. I think it’s a terrible deal.”

Rivers and the Celtics traded Payton to Atlanta in March 2005 for Antoine Walker and Payton returned to Boston after being waived by the Hawks.

“I
actually do have a problem with that though. We did it, and I’m joking,
but I do think [it’s a problem],” Rivers said. “I don’t know what you
do [maybe] just not allow them to go back to the same team or whatever.
… I do think that will be changed eventually, but I do have a problem
with it.”

There’s no official word from the NBA office concerning plans to change the rules in light of Cardinal-gate. In order to clear a roster spot, the Wolves will be waiving Alando Tucker, who, let’s face it, is no Brian Cardinal.

Chris Paul finds brilliant counter to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan (video)

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I originally favored allowing Hack-a-Shaq as the NBA currently does. I found the strategy fascinated – why and when teams would use it and how their opponents would counter.

But it just became too common. Far too many games featured a parade of trips to the line, a boring stretch that made games too long. I thought the intrigue had run its course.

Then, Chris Paul pulled this move last night.

The Clippers guard saw Jonas Jerebko charging toward DeAndre Jordan to commit an intentional foul, so Paul stepped in front of an unsuspecting Jerebko and took the foul himself. That’s sent a good free-throw shooter to the line instead of the dismal Jordan.

Just an awesome heady play by Paul.

PBT Podcast: NBA All-Star Weekend talk, predictions with Sean Highkin

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NBA All-Star weekend descends upon frigid Toronto starting Friday, with everything from the Rookie/Sophomore… er, Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, the Dunk Contest/Three-Point Contest on Saturday, and the main event on Sunday.

Kurt Helin and Sean Highkin of NBC’s ProBasketballTalk break it all down, from Pau Gasol replacing Jimmy Butler to predictions on the Dunk Contest and if anyone can knock off Zach LaVine. Plus, there is plenty of “why Sting?” talk.

PBT will be in Toronto with reports from the event all weekend, so come back early and often for all the latest (plus trade talk, as all the GMs get together in one city where it’s too cold for them to go outside).

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Pistons retire Chauncey Billups’ jersey at halftime (VIDEO)

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Moments before his jersey went up to the rafters, Chauncey Billups spoke to the crowd about the night the Detroit Pistons wrapped up the 2004 NBA title by routing the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the Finals.

“We had one motivation,” he said. “We wanted to win it here at home.”

Billups was the most valuable player in the Finals that year, and he had his No. 1 jersey retired by the Pistons on Wednesday night at halftime of their game against Denver.

He was the second player from that 2004 team honored by the Pistons this year. The Pistons retired Ben Wallace’s jersey last month at a similar ceremony – in front of a packed house on a night Detroit beat Golden State.

There were some empty seats in the upper level Wednesday, but Billups wanted to be honored while the Pistons were playing the Nuggets. Billups is a Denver native and played for the Nuggets for two stints during his career.

“This was by design, only because there’s a lot of people that contributed to my success as a player and as a man, in Denver, my hometown,” Billups said before the game. “There were several dates that I could have chosen. This one obviously stuck out.”

Billups does have a mild regret about his run of success with the Pistons. He figures they could have won more titles.

“I felt like, two and maybe three championships – we were that good,” he said.

Ben Wallace was on hand Wednesday, and so were Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince from the 2004 champions. Pistons great Isiah Thomas was also at the Palace for the ceremony.

“This is what tradition looks like,” Thomas told the crowd. “This is what it feels like.”