Author: Matt Moore

New York Knicks' Lin pumps his fist from the bench as teammates score during their NBA basketball game in Toronto

Stern will appeal Bird rights ruling, Knicks’ ability to re-sign Lin using Bird right in air still


The Knicks aren’t out of the water.

After winning the NBPA won their ruling against the league in the arbitration casegranting Bird rights to players waived, it was thought that the Knicks would be in a position to re-sign Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak using their Bird rights, saving their mid-level exception for another addition. But that assumes that the case is done and over with. Guess who’s filing an appeal? Your old buddy David Stern!

According to a league official, Stern’s plan to appeal the union’s victory in the Jeremy Lin/Steve Novak Bird rights war may carry over into the July 1 start of free agency. That would delay the Knicks’ ability to negotiate for any free agent and create a public-relations nightmare for Stern, whose office is in midtown.

Tomorrow, both sides will start talks concerning setting up an appeal panel in Stern’s attempt to overturn arbitrator Kenneth Dam’s decision. One possible resolution is having the appeal process occur but still allowing Novak and Lin to have their Bird rights this summer.

via NBA commissioner David Stern will appeal granting Bird rights to New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak –

Oh, that could turn out badly for the Knicks. It was a surprise to many legal experts when the union won the case. If the appeal doesn’t hold up after the Knicks have already re-signed Novak and Lin using Bird rights, then what happens? Are the contracts void? Do they lose Novak and Lin due to already having signed someone else using the Mid-level exception?

This is kind of a sticky wicket for the Knicks, and it has huge implications for their future. They thought it was over, that everything worked out nicely.

Not so much.

2012 NBA Draft: The lottery bigs and their musical chairs

Final Four - Louisville v Kentucky

Well, Anthony Davis is No.1 and Thomas Robinson will go in the top five. That’s a pretty good start for the bigs in the 2012 NBA draft. After that, things get really interesting. Of the top bigs: Andre Drummond, Jared Sullinger, John Henson, Meyers Leonard, Tyler Zeller, Perry Jones, and if you want to throw him in, Terrence Jones (I think Jones will play more 3 in the league), there’s really no way to determine in what order they’ll definitely go.

We know a few things.

  • Drummond is the most coveted big outside of Davis, and at the same time the biggest risk. He has immense athleticism to go with his size, but is severely lacking in the skills department and there are huge questions about his mindset and attitude.
  • Henson has no such question marks, but doesn’t have the same raw ability. He is more polished, however, and could immediately contribute.
  • Leonard has excellent size and slightly more skills than Drummond, but falls behind in the athleticism department.
  • Zeller is a player scouts absolutely love, but because of his play style and athleticism, is not going to jump to the front.
  • Perry Jones could be a Hall of Famer or could be out of the league in three years and neither would surprise me.
  • Sullinger has the best mindset and approach of any big, is extremely smart and coachable. But the back is a question mark. More importantly, though, his defensive lateral speed is a huge issue.

Chad Ford has more on Drummond’s situation and how he could go top five or slide, and where it might stop:

Right now, sources say Leonard and Henson are the two leading candidates in the group. Sullinger has slid on the Pistons’ draft board since the team saw his draft combine physical. Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie is also in the running for the No. 9 pick; however, he’s more of a long shot. He worked out earlier with the Pistons.

The winner of the workout could very well be the ninth pick if UConn big man Andre Drummond doesn’t fall to Detroit.

The Pistons are hoping Drummond does fall, and there are scenarios where they could get their wish. Right now it doesn’t look like Drummond has a home inside the top five. Sources say he’s struggled in workouts and hasn’t gotten strong feedback from teams. The Blazers are a real possibility at six.

via 2012 NBA Draft – Royce White may have a draft promise, plus rumors – ESPN.

The Pistons would be really set with Henson. A super-long rebounder with a bit of a mid-range game (his jumper is underrated), he would fit perfectly with Greg Monroe and set the Pistons up with a terrific core for the future. Drummond… on the list of coaches to try and crack that nut, Lawrence Frank seems like a bit of a gamble, given his tougher, professional approach. Is Frank going to nurture him the way he may need to? No, because most coaches won’t do that. This is the NBA. That’s the problem with Drummond.

There’s also talk from the New Orleans Times-Picayune that the Hornets could use the tenth pick on Zeller. The best case scenario may honestly be for the Pistons to bypass Drummond, take Henson, and Drummond falls to New Orleans. Monty Williams could likely connect with Drummond and build one of the best defensive frontcourts of the past 20 years with Davis and Drummond as anchors.

Leonard has risen meteorically based off his size. You can tell the lack of quality centers in the league with this run on guys without much in the way of go-to post moves.

Honestly, there’s no telling how those players shake out. We know Drummond likely won’t fall past six to Portland, definitely won’t fall past nine. We know Henson is unlikely to slip out of the top ten, and will likely go before Zeller. We know Zeller’s a value pick, and that Leonard is probably going to get snagged top 12. Everything else is liquid.

The sweet validation of one Shane Courtney Battier

Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One

I asked a group of friends recently what the first thing they think of when they hear the name Shane Battier.

Three people immediately said “Dukie.”

Two people said “Defense.”

And one person said “Smart.”

You can throw another one on there, now. NBA Champion.

Battier obtained another championship to go with his high school and college trophies on Thursday, and in doing so, validates a career that has been unremarkably spectacular, ordinarily amazing, and silently brilliant. Battier came to the Heat as the smart guy who loves tech, the guy featured in an article about being the “No-Stats All-Star,” who defended Kobe Bryant as well as possible, even while knowing he was going to get lit up like a Christmas tree. He was the guy who hit the shot to give the Grizzlies their first franchise playoff win, and the chemistry glue that helped the Rockets to that crazy win streak a few years back.

He was never supposed to be a household name.

And yet here he is. What’s sad is that what it took for Battier to get to that level of notoriety was his work on the offensive end, some of which was an outlier. Battier’s 3-point shooting hit the Thunder, as it did the Celtics before them, like a lightning bolt, a development they can’t believe happened to them. It was an Act of God, basically. What gets lost in that percentage was this point I’ve made several times: the formula the Heat uses is eerily similar to what the Rockets did in ’94 and ’95, and the Lakers in the early 2000’s. A superior inside presence forces the defense to collapse, and a quality passer finds the open shooter on the perimeter. You don’t need crack shooters if you’re that wide open. These are NBA players. They know how to fill their role. Battier knew he had to knock down those shots. And he did.

All the while he handled a series of mismatches that would discourage and bloody any player. Brandon Bass’ superior size and strength. David West’s similar physicality. Kevin Durant’s singular offensive ability. And yet Battier went to the well each time, and made just enough of an impact to create a difference. He wasn’t the reason the Heat won. But he was a huge part of the reasons why LeBron James had an opportunity to be the difference.

Battier never wanted the attention and fame that comes with being a part of this “Hollywood” Heat team, but in a way his addition represents the change in maturity we’ve seen from the Heat. Throughout the season, Battier has been constant in the locker room, always with the intellectual comparison or philosophical quote, giving reporters gold as always. He doesn’t get caught up in the nonsense.

In the videos from after the win, in the champagne drenched celebration in the locker room, there was Battier, looking strangely satisfied in a way we’ve never seen, looking out of place in the crazy exuberance of the victory. And as everyone sprayed champagne and screamed, you couldn’t help but notice that Battier was wearing goggles.

Always thinking ahead.

Report: Deron Williams will only choose between Dallas and Brooklyn

Taco Bell Skills Challenge

They are the obvious choices, and now, it would appear, they are the only choices.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reports:

When NBA free agency begins at midnight July 1, Brooklyn Nets star guard Deron Williams will be choosing from a two-team list that only features the Nets and the Dallas Mavericks, according to sources close to the situation.

Sources told on Saturday night that, while this summer’s No. 1 free agent remains “up in the air” about which team he’ll ultimately chose, Williams already has made the decision to narrow his list of potential destinations to those two franchises.

via Deron Williams only interested in signing with Brooklyn Nets or Dallas Mavericks, sources say – ESPN New York.

This has seemingly been the case for a while, but having it confirmed by a source so close to the Mavericks in Stein is significant. Typically a lot of action in terms of both free agency and trades is held up for the biggest move. Teams want to make sure they’re out of the running for a star before making moves for the future. Knowing that it will definitely be one of those two teams makes life easier for the other franchises, of which Stein lists the Blazers, Rockets, Suns, and Lakers as interested parties.

The smart money’s on New Jersey. Which, you know, isn’t that smart at all.

The Nets can offer the most money and years by re-signing Williams under the new CBA, and their move to Brooklyn means more financial opportunities for the All-Star. Stein also reports Williams was scouting a locker at the new Barclay Center on a tour this week. There is every reason to believe that Williams will re-sign with the Nets and make Brooklyn his home, sending Dallas in a drastic new direction for the future.

Some helpful information about the Nets team Williams is so sure of:

  • They went 22-44 last year, but that’s OK, because it’s an improvement on the 24-58 record they had the year before. I mean, not much of one, but still!
  • Their next best player at the moment is a center with a severe foot injury that limited him all last season and has significant rebounding problems.
  • Their next best player would be Gerald Wallace, but he’s opting out into free agency. But that’s OK, because there’s a good chance he’ll re-sign. At age 30.
  • They only have six players on roster for next year (assuming they re-sign Lopez in restricted free agency for eight figures), but that’s OK, because one of them is Johan Petro for $3.5 million.
  • Their front office has swung out in the past two years in luring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard to their team, but that’s OK, because they traded their first-rounder to bring in Gerald Wallace who’s now a free agent last year.

Look, I’m not throwing this stuff out there to bag on the Nets. I want the Nets to be good. It’s good for the league. A New York-Brooklyn rivalry featuring multiple stars would be great for the league. Prokhorov being in the limelight would be hilariously good for the league. But Williams has stated he wants to contend. So why is this team even an option?

I know, I know. Dwight Howard. The plan, apparently, is for the Nets to sign Williams, then sign a bunch of free agents that Orlando wants, then trade those pieces plus Lopez who the Magic are “eh” about in order to get Howard. And that could happen. But is that going to be enough? Do they have anything resembling a supporting cast? Even if Wallace re-signs, is that enough? Is Williams, Howard, Wallace, and a poor supporting cast going to be better than what the Knicks have, let alone Miami?

But that’s where Williams’ mind is at. Dallas represents challenges, too, but it also features Dirk Nowitzki and an owner and management team with a proven track record that won the title a year ago.

Either way, there isn’t a perfect choice. At least Williams can limit that choice down to those two teams, though.

Report: Bulls considering moving Joakim Noah or Luol Deng for pick and cap exception

Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng

The Bulls are in a lot of trade conversations, which is kind of weird. The team was the No.1 overall seed in the playoffs despite Rose having missed all that time, and Rose was the number one, no questions asked, absolute reason the Bulls fell to the Sixers. Why would they mess with what’s working so well? But for whatever reason, either their people, or the people they’re talking to, are very chatty right now.

The newest one is a doozy. The New York Daily News reports the Bulls are seeking a trade for Luol Deng or Joakim Noah in exchange for a lottery pick and a trade exception. Yeah. A trade exception. From the NYDN:

The Bulls want to give Omer Asik and Taj Gibson new deals, so they’re exploring ways to trade Luol Deng and/or Joakim Noah to teams that can send them a trade exception and a No. 1 pick.

via After coaching a dynasty with the L.A. Lakers, Pat Riley is looking to do the same as president of the Miami Heat – NY Daily News.

Now, it’s  possible that this is the Bulls’ approach. Here’s why. If Bulls ownership is looking to cut future salary to ensure their ability to get under the luxury tax to avoid the repeater tax in 2015, they can get Asik and Gibson for cheaper deals overall than Deng and Noah. Deng’s got $27 million owed over the next two seasons, Noah is owed $48 million over the next four. Moving either one and having Asik and Gibson could help them keep the core together and avoid the repeater tax, especially if they amnesty Carlos Boozer.

Why would Bulls ownership just eat the Boozer salary in an amnesty situation? Wouldn’t that just equal the repeater penalty? Not necessarily. Remember that once Boozer hits waivers, any team can bid for part of his salary, which comes off what the Bulls have to pay him. Boozer has enough value that you just know a team would make a bid of up to half his remaining salary and still be getting a bargain. That, plus losing Noah and Deng’s money, would give the Bulls an out from the repeater tax, and some flexibility if they want to make another move.

That said… really?

Deng’s a top-five defender in this league, an NBA All-Star who’s shot has been on fire the past two seasons and plays perfectly next to Rose. Noah is a sparkplug center with versatility who you can lean on when someone’s missing or you need a play. You’re going to give that up for the subs and cap relief? It’s hard to believe, but one thing we’ve already seen is the league acting really weird in regards to that repeater tax. The Lakers and Mavericks have both been casting a wary eye towards it.

It could win up reshaping the league, and the Bulls could be a victim. For now, though, throw this one in the “probably not” pile.