Philadelphia 76ers introduce Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson

Sixers will consider Bynum return but have bigger issues to deal with

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The Philadelphia 76ers gambled and lost. They traded Andre Iguodala to get back Andrew Bynum and rebuild their roster around an elite big man. Problem was, he’s an elite big man with terrible knees that never saw the court.

And the aftermath of that decision is just beginning to come to down on the team.

Coach Doug Collins has walked away. The next question is if GM Tony DiLeo will be back — he only took over as GM last September (after the Bynum trade) but his contract is now up and has not been renewed.

Then there are the on-the-court questions, starting with do you try to re-sign free agent Andrew Bynum, and if so at what price? Team owner Joshua Harris said they would keep an open mind and consider a Bynum return, speaking to CSNPhilly.com.

“A healthy Bynum that’s playing is a needle-mover, a top-15 player,” Harris continued. “But the reality is, he didn’t play a game this season. There’s risk. We’re going to weigh the positives and the negatives and try to make a reasoned assessment of what’s appropriate for Andrew. Certainly we’re open to the prospect of bringing him back.”

After a disaster of a season, Harris is trying to sell hope to a fan base that was excited after the Bynum trade and has since become disillusioned.

“I feel like we’re going to build a high-quality organization and we’ll attract a high-quality coach,” Harris insisted. “This is a good situation. We have a bunch of young assets. We have a bunch of cap room. We have an All-Star. And then we have a bunch of draft picks. I think you guys are painting this as a dire situation. It’s really not.”

Actually, it’s not good.

John Gonzalez breaks it down well at CSNPhilly.com. First, they do have three young assets of quality — Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young. If you want to throw Spencer Hawes on that list, I’ll listen to your argument. But that is one quality point guard and some rotation players, it lacks the game changer that even Iguodala could be.

Draft picks? In this draft the Sixers have their first rounder (No. 11 unless there is a miracle in the lottery) and two second rounders. That’s nice, but there will be no game changers at that spot.

And as for that cap space, I’ll let Gonzalez explain.

If the Sixers don’t re-sign Bynum, Nick Young and Dorell Wright, all of whom are unrestricted free agents, they’ll still have about $46 million in salary commitments for next season…. If, as expected, the NBA salary cap is about $60 million next year, that leaves the Sixers $14 million. Except they’ll also have to pay their first-round pick, so subtract, oh, another $3 million. That leaves them with approximately $11 million for free agency.

If the Sixers re-sign Bynum he could cut into that cap space, so they would likely do it after they go after and ink any free agents. But $11 million in cap space doesn’t get you that much on the free agent market — it likely doesn’t get you even a Josh Smith kind of player, it more likely gets you a couple mid-level type guys. That’s not changing things.

There needs to be a new top-to-bottom plan in Philadelphia. Harris needs to find the GM/president with that vision, lock him up and let him do the years of work it’s going to take to get the Sixers roster fixed.

Blake Griffin suspended four games, docked five games pay

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Clippers president/coach Doc Rivers said the NBA would lead any punishment for Blake Griffin, who broke his hand punching a team equipment manager at a dinner. The league investigated, and…

A suspension was announced by the Clippers.

Clippers release:

The following is a joint statement from L.A. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Doc Rivers:

The L.A. Clippers announced today that forward Blake Griffin has been suspended without pay for four games for striking a team employee on Jan. 23 and his wages will be withheld for one additional game for injuries he sustained. The NBA has assisted us in this process.

The Clippers will donate the salary from the five games to charities focused on disadvantaged youth in Los Angeles. At his request, Blake will support this activity with his time.

We have made it clear that this conduct has no place in the Clippers organization. Blake is remorseful and has apologized for his actions. He is a valued member of our Clippers family and we support him as he rejoins the team. He understands his actions have consequences, and is eager to get back to work with his teammates, the organization and Clipper Nation which starts immediately with rehab, appearances and attendance at games.

For our team and organization, it is time to move forward which begins today and ultimately concludes when we have Blake back on the court.

If you want to parse the statement, it doesn’t say the Clippers suspended Griffin. It’s in passive voice — “has been suspended without pay” — and leaves open the possibility the NBA suspended him. We just know the Clippers announced it, which would be strange for an NBA suspension. So, I believe the Clippers suspended him. I’m just not absolutely certain.

NBA suspensions typically begin only once a player is healthy enough to play. It’s unclear how that applies to this situation, but I’d guess – no matter who levied the suspension – the same rule will apply. Again, that’s not a given – especially given the hard-to-follow use of “which starts immediately with rehab, appearances and attendance at games.”

The Clippers announced on Jan. 26 Griffin would miss 4-6 weeks, a timeline unaffected by a second surgery on his swollen, scarred hand. But Rivers called a 4-6 recovery period “unrealistic.” So, if he can’t serve his suspension until healthy, good luck figuring out when that is. Probably just have to trust the Clippers.

For each game a player is suspended by the NBA, he loses 1/110th of his salary. If that applies to this suspension, it’d cost Griffin $859,442.

Teams also have their team salary as it applies to the luxury tax – which the Clippers are in line to pay – reduced by that amount. Again, more conclusion. It’s unclear whether the Clippers will get their tax bill trimmed. If they suspended him and don’t receive the savings, that’s a significant difference – $2,148,605 in tax payments (or $1,718,884 if you count only the four games actually suspended).

Four games and a fifth game of pay is probably a break for Griffin. This could’ve been much worse for him, including legal action. But Matt Barnes received just a two-game suspension for a similar situation – one NBA employee attacking another while away from official team business. What’s the difference here?

The Clippers want to move on, but this result provides more confusion than clarity.

Marv Albert gets contract extension to call NBA on TNT

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05:  Marv Albert attends the New York Knicks vs Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center on December 5, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Veteran broadcaster Marv Albert has agreed to a multiyear contract extension with TNT to call NBA games.

Albert will call this weekend’s All-Star Game in Toronto, his 21st year providing commentary for the event. He’ll continue to call regular-season and playoff games for the network.

The Hall of Fame broadcaster has been associated with the NBA for nearly 50 years.

Turner Sports executive Craig Barry on Tuesday calls Albert a “legendary broadcaster,” who has been “a true icon in the industry.”

Albert is in his 18th season as a play-by-play commentator for TNT. He has won five national Sports Emmy Awards and was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame last year.

Miami Heat to retire Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey next season

Shaquille O'Neal Heat
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Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 34 jersey already hangs in the rafters at Staples Center for the Lakers.  He’s getting a statue there, too.

Next season, he will have his number retired on the other warm southern coast, this time in Miami.

The Heat have announced they will retire Shaq’s No. 32 jersey next season.

“Shaquille O’Neal is one of the truly elite players in the history of the game and one of the greatest players to ever wear a Heat uniform,” team president Pat Riley said in a released statement. “He took us to another level as a basketball franchise while leading us to our first NBA championship. Retiring his number in the rafters, along with Heat greats Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway, is something we are very proud of.”

Riley left out that the Heat also retired Michael Jordan’s 23, and Dan Marino’s 12 also hangs in the rafters of the arena. Neither of those make much sense, but whatever.

Shaq played three-and-a-half seasons in Miami, averaging 19.6 points and 9.1 rebounds a game. Shaq was a three-time All-Star with the Heat and was at the heart of the franchise’s first title, along with Dwyane Wade… and Mark Cuban would tell you the officials. But that’s another discussion. He was also bitter after being traded to Phoenix and slammed Miami management and players on his way out the door.

Time heals all wounds.

Bull for Bull: Pau Gasol to replace Jimmy Butler in All-Star Game

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Jimmy Butler is out of the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto this weekend due to a strained knee. Which suck, because he earned that spot, and while the fans didn’t vote him in the coach’s did.

Butler’s teammate Pau Gasol will replace him.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gets to make the call on a replacement, and he stayed in Chicago, but he added a front court player to replace a guard. Keeping a Bulls representative might have been part of the thinking. The coaches’ votes on replacement players has been weighed in the past (Gasol may have been high on that list, coaches love him). Also, the East roster has a lot of wings and was light on bigs (Andre Drummond, Paul Millsap and Chris Bosh are the only real bigs), so this gives coach Tyronn Lue some flexibility up front.

The East leading Cleveland Cavaliers remain with just one representative, LeBron James (voted in by the fans).

Gasol is averaging 17 points, 10.9 rebounds, and a couple blocks a game, and is the only thing close to a consistent performer the Bulls have. Besides the injured Butler.