Magic waive Jameer Nelson

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Only Kobe Bryant, Nick Collison,

Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Udonis Haslem, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Anderson Varejao and Dwyane Wade have remained with the same team the entirety of Jameer Nelson’s Magic tenure.

Nelson was drafted in 2004, the same year Orlando took Dwight Howard No. 1. Together, they helped the Magic rise into an Eastern Conference power, and Nelson remained long after Howard forced his way out of town.

But now Nelson is also leaving the rebuilding Magic. In No. 12 pick Elfrid Payton, Orlando has its point guard of the future.

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

Just $2 million of Nelson’s $8 million 2014-15 salary was guaranteed, and the contract didn’t become totally guaranteed until July 16.

The Magic made the rational decision Nelson was no longer needed at that price, clearly. But I don’t understand why the Magic waived him now as opposed to waiting closer to the deadline.

Maybe it was a courtesy to allow him more options in free agency. If that were Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan’s rationale, he was being mighty generous. Nelson is likely the type teams sign after they fill most of their roster.

When the Magic sold so low on Arron Afflalo, Hennigan got a pass, because he reportedly canvassed the entire league in search of a better offer before agreeing to that deal with the Nuggets. But maybe we shouldn’t keep giving him the benefit of the doubt.

I believe Hennigan explored Nelson trades, using his contract to offer cap savings, as the Raptors did with John Salmons. So, if Hennigan couldn’t find an acceptable deal, there’s nothing wrong with waiving Nelson.

But July 16 is a long way off, and circumstances can change quickly. Quite possibly, a team could have offered a desirable trade necessitating Nelson’s contract before then.

Again, this might all fall under professional courtesy, and that’s a nice gesture if that’s the case. It’s also squandering an asset, though.

For Nelson, options in free agency will definitely emerge.

The Heat need a point guard with Mario Chalmers a free agent. Neither Norris Cole nor Shabazz Napier is good enough stay the course without trying to upgrade. Nelson’s best days are behind him, but he could definitely help a win-now team like Miami. Plus, the Heat would offer him a chance to stay in Florida.

Maybe Nelson reunites with Stan Van Gundy in Detroit. The Pistons could definitely use a more reliable point guard than Brandon Jennings, even if that’s just to pressure Jennings into steadying himself. Nelson would definitely increases Detroit’s chances of starting a better point guard, whether it’s him or Jennings, than last year. However, with Will Bynum – an OK enough backup – already contract, the Pistons might need to use their cap room on areas of greater need (wing positions).

I could also see Nelson landing with the Knicks. A quality outside shooter who’s not blazing quick, Nelson would fit well in the triangle. Jose Calderon, acquired in the Tyson Chandler trade, is a good fit, but there would be enough minutes for both.

Really, if Nelson were willing to become a backup – and he likely must – he’ll have plenty of suitors.

Shaq attacks verse in new TV series "Poetry in America"

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Shaquille O’Neal called himself “The Big Baryshnikov” and “The Big Socrates” in his days in the NBA. Now he can add “The Big Shakespeare.”

The basketball Hall-of-Famer, TNT TV analyst, commercial pitchman and onetime rapper is putting poetry on his lengthy resume as part of a new public television series.

He brings his best bard to a dramatic reading of a poem in his episode of the 12-part “Poetry in America ,” then discusses it with Elisa New, a Harvard English professor who hosts the show.

“I’ve always been into poetry,” O’Neal said in an interview with The Associated Press in a sunlit conference room overlooking the Los Angeles skyline. “I’ve been writing rhymes all my life.”

“Poetry in America,” distributed by American Public Television and presented by WGBH in Boston, is airing at various times on local public TV stations. Some episodes, including Shaq’s, are already available to stream.

On the show the 46-year-old former All-Star from the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat recites “Fast Break,” a poem by Edward Hirsch from his 1986 book “Wild Gratitude.” It describes some very imperfect players who manage to put together a perfect basketball play.

“A hook shot kisses the rim and hangs there, helplessly, but doesn’t drop,” the poem begins, “and for once our gangly starting center boxes out his man.”

O’Neal, whose 350-pound bulk would never be called “gangly,” still related to the center in the verse, but said he initially missed the poem’s point.

“The first mistake I made was thinking it was about basketball,” he said. “I read it real quick I said `fast break, shovel passes, sure, this is what I do.”‘

He said New, who sat next to O’Neal in the interview and like almost everyone is utterly dwarfed by him, gave him whole new insights that led to a fast friendship.

“When she broke it down intelligently for me, I was very astounded and very amazed,”

The poem is written for a close friend and playing partner of Hirsch’s who had just died. That’s easy to miss if you skip past the dedication at the top, as most readers do.

“It’s fun that only later as you’re reading, you look back at that dedication,” New said. “One line can change everything.”

Suddenly it becomes an examination of transcendent moments and human connections.

“It’s about friendship, it’s about caring, it’s about emotions,” O’Neal said. “I had missed that.”

His latest learning experience took O’Neal’s thoughts back to high school, where he had a 69 percent in English after blowing a test during the basketball playoffs, and needed a 70 to stay eligible for sports.

The teacher allowed him a retest, and suggested a tutor.

“This guy, his name was McDougal, he was a geek, he saved my academic life,” O’Neal said. “Everybody bullied him in school, except me.”

O’Neal said he took the work and “broke it down, made it seem so simple.”

“I retook the test, got an 80, and we won the state championship,” O’Neal said.

“Now,” he said, “I always tell kids I’m a geek.”

The professor had another name for him. “He’s a learner!”

O’Neal partly looked the poet during the interview in a polo shirt and jeans, having traded his basketball sneakers for a pair of slip-on Toms shoes, size 22.

When he wanted them, a company executive told him “it wouldn’t be worth it to make them in my size unless I bought 500 of them,” O’Neal said. “I told him to give me 2,000.”

 

Rumor: Grizzlies had to choose between Marc Gasol and David Fizdale

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David Fizdale has been linked to most of the NBA’s head-coaching vacancies.

He developed a legion of backers as lead a Heat assistant, and he did good things guiding the Grizzlies before they unexpectedly fired him. He deserves consideration.

But he also must explain his fractured relationship with Memphis star Marc Gasol. They weren’t speaking for a while.

And maybe the problem was even worse than that.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

According to a source close to Fizdale briefed on the Grizzlies’ decision, it was ownership having to make a choice — trade their All-Star center Marc Gasol, who has fallen in love with its small-market city, or fire the coach. Their relationship had gotten that bad.

If Grizzlies ownership felt it had to choose between Gasol and Fizdale, it’s not clear why.

Fizdale benched Gasol down the stretch during the coach’s last game, and Gasol publicly expressed his frustration.

But Gasol denied issuing a me-or-Fizdale ultimatum. Fizdale said focus on his relationship with Gasol was “overblown,” adding he cared far more about whether he could win with a player than whether they got along personally.

Memphis obviously sided with Gasol – probably too strongly.

LeBron James bought Cavs teammates matching designer suits to wear to game tonight

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I’m still trying to decide if this is cool or a little too Stepford.

The Cavaliers rolled into the Bakers’ Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis tonight wearing matching designer suits, all paid for by LeBron James and custom fitted to each player.

If a college team rolled into a game in four-digit designer suits, the NCAA would have questions. And not about the vests.

The Cavaliers are LeBron’s team, and if he wants to buy his teammates suits and tell them to wear them it’s going to happen. Is it a bonding thing that helps bring them together? Sure. Is it in place to make sure LeBron remembers which ones are his new teammates? Probably not.

Do the suits help on the court? No. And the Cavaliers better bring it in Game 3 because if they go down 2-1 in this series — something that is a realistic possibility — the whispers of doubt are going to get a lot louder.

Report: Knicks to discuss coaching vacancy with Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer

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Mike Budenholzer is restless in Atlanta, seeing a rebuild coming and looking at other jobs (something Hawks management is fine with). He went down the road a ways with the Suns before pulling out of that process, but he’s still looking around.

The Knicks are casting a wide net in their search, talking to virtually everyone looking for coaching jobs.

So, this seemed inevitable, right? Budenholzer and the Knicks are going to talk, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This will be very preliminary. The Knicks have already had some level of conversation with Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, Jerry Stackhouse, David Blatt, Mike Woodson, and TNT analyst Kenny Smith (Jackson and Fizdale are the rumored early leaders). Budenholzer has established a style and culture in Atlanta, giving the franchise a path forward. New York could certainly use that.

However, the Knicks job comes with real challenges, too. That starts with James Dolan as owner and the erratic, at times paranoid culture he has created there. Also, expectations in New York are always high, but the team will be without Kristaps Porzigis for at least half (maybe all) of the upcoming season as he recovers from an ACL injury, and that puts a ceiling on the team in the short term. Is all that worth leaving Atlanta for?