Author: Ira Winderman

Charlotte Bobcats v Miami Heat

Winderman: Juwan Howard, other name players could fade away from NBA


The fadeaway long has been an NBA fact of life.

While the stars hold press conferences to announce enough is enough, their fame to keep them in the spotlight (and possibly part of broadcast teams) long after their playing days — something we soon might get from Ben Wallace — for the majority of those with flickering tenures, it just ends.

Over the weekend, a pair of minute moves might have signaled such fadeaways.

With the Heat adding big men Mickell Gladness and Jarvis Varnado, the odds diminished on Juwan Howard remaining along for the ride in Miami for another championship quest.

And in Toronto, with the Raptors adding Dominic McGuire, the door apparently finally has closed for Jamaal Magloire, with even his hometown team moving on.

Which is the way it tends to happen for those who attempt to squeeze out every last ounce.

For some, it means waiting around for injuries to pile up, with big men more likely to get another last chance, something Erick Dampier, once again on the outside, has cashed in on during each of the past two seasons.

For others, the choice is to step aside instead of waiting, which is why you’ll now find Brian Scalabrine wearing a headset with the Celtics, instead of waving a towel for the Bulls.

So who are most likely to simply fade away, known NBA quantities no longer with a seat at the table?

Among the prime candidates who a month from now we might be saying, “Hey, whatever happened to?” are Brian Cardinal, Mike Bibby, Mike James, Damien Wilkins, Tony Battie, Dan Gadzuric, Brian Cook and several other who not all that long again held regular rotation roles.

With the luxury tax proving more onerous, a 15-man roster no longer is as likely to remain the universal truth. Players who previously might never have considered non-guaranteed contracts now have a decision to make based on pride.

“There’s a lot of guys still out here and not a lot of spots left,” one agent representing a respect former rotation player said last week. “Team know that, which is why we’re starting to see these make-good minimums.”

Sometimes pride says enough is enough, NBA legacies valued as worth more than a game-to-game paycheck.

It happens every year. The reality is about to hit home for some known quantities.

September can be the cruelest month.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Winderman: New NBA head of officials doesn’t mean change, technology does


Since the Tim Donaghy fiasco, we’ve had the NBA offer up a former referee and a retired two-star U.S. Army general to oversee officiating. Now, former NBA player Mike Bantom, a long-time NBA executive, takes over.

Granted, Ronnie Nunn (the former referee) and Ronald Johnson (the retired general), mostly remained in the background as officiating supervisors, with Johnson taking over shortly after the Donaghy gambling revelations.

But the greatest advances in officiating are not “people” issues. And that means the Bantom hire ultimately will not alter the landscape.

Where the NBA has made its greatest strides since Donaghy are the technological advances, extending replay to include out-of-bounds and flagrant-foul situations, now moving into the goaltending realm.

While there can be no guarantees that another rogue official doesn’t make his way into the pipeline, or turn rogue while in the system, the greater the amount of secondary oversight, the greatly diminished chances of a referee unduly influencing the outcome of a game.

Or even trying, knowing his whistle might not be the ultimate whistle.

For those concerned about the “fix being in” (yes, that is David Stern’s blood you hearing percolating at the very mention), what the NBA has done is largely eliminate the chance of a game’s “ultimate” call being influenced by a referee’s personal influence. The camera, the NBA hopes, doesn’t lie.

If anything, establishing a “replay official” on site would go even further to diminish concern about bias, perceived or otherwise. Instead of having the officials who make the calls review the calls, there instead could be a qualified, perhaps older, official, one not necessarily up to the rigors of full-court sprints, making the ultimate decision. Retired referee Steve Javie showed us the value of an outside officiating view during the NBA playoffs on ESPN and that experience certainly could be brought back into play, even with the knees no longer willing.

Mike Bantom likely will do just fine as an officiating administrator, just as Ronnie Nunn and Ronald Johnson did.

But officiating questions don’t start in the executive suite, they start on the court, with the whistle.

The best way to clean up that whistle, or, in fairness to the current officials, keep that whistle pure, is to layer enough at-the-moment oversight so such issues don’t fester.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Winderman: NBA’s new fiscal reality has veterans considering minimums

Andray Blatche
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More than 20 teams still have all or part of their mid-level exception, be it the full $5 million, the $3.1 million taxpayer version or the $2.6 million post-cap-space variety.

More than 10 still can put their $2 million bi-annual exception into play.

And yet, now a month from the start of training camps, veterans are starting to accept invitations without any such guarantee, be it James Anderson with the Hawks, Donte Greene with the Nets or others simply looking for a make-good deal.

This annually is the point where the game changes, with teams such as the Clippers, Heat and Knicks out of any type of exception space beyond the veteran minimum.

While the luxury tax will remain dollar-for-dollar for one final season before rising exponentially in the third year and beyond of the new collective-bargaining agreement, we’re already seeing prudence even from teams that previously placed a priority on depth, such as the Bulls.

The concession from the NBA at the end of the lockout was the addition of the $2.6 million post-cap-space mid-level, so teams that filled out their roster using cap space could still be active in the mid-level market. Yet, for the most part, those exceptions largely remain unused.

So now we see if the blinking starts from players who previously would have had a place at the mid-level market or beyond, current free agents such as Andray Blatche, Matt Barnes, Kenyon Martin, Josh Childress, Derek Fisher, Chris Andersen, Darko Milicic, Mickael Pietrus, Leandro Barbosa, Josh Howard, Anthony Tolliver and Louis Amundson.

For some, it will come down to weighing overseas guarantees that previously could not compete with the mid-level market. For others, it will be accepting a one-year deal, without even as much as a player option for 2013-14, with the looming jump in the luxury tax creating commitment issues from some teams.

In coming days, we will be hearing agents, executives and coaches expressing, “He deserves more.”  In this new NBA economy, as the countdown to camp begins, so does the countdown to the make-good reality for many who previously would have arrived with cash in hand.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.