After 7 1/2 seasons on the job in Portland, Nate McMillan is out as coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, according to multiple reports. Yahoo! Sports‘ Adrian Wojnarowskifirst reported the move, which was confirmed by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. McMillan compiled a 266-269 record and made the playoffs three straight seasons, all of which ended in first-round losses for the Blazers.
The Trail Blazers, who started 7-2, are 20-23 and coming off an embarrassing 121-79 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday. The front office shook up the roster earlier Thursday before the league’s trade deadline, trading center Marcus Camby and forward Gerald Wallace.
Portland had been sacked in recent years by the injury bug, most notably to former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden and then last season with former All-Star guard Brandon Roy. Although Roy did return for the playoffs and had a monster performance in Game 4 against Dallas last season, his troublesome knees forced him into retirement and Portland used the NBA’s salary amnesty provision on his contract before the season.
HANG TIME HQ, TEXAS – News flash for Andrew Bynum: four and a half years after the infamous video taken at a Newport Beach mall, Kobe Bryant believes you’ve got the right stuff to help him run down that sixth NBA championship that would pull him even with Michael Jordan.
After falling out of the starting gate with back-to-back losses, the Lakers have won six out of their last eight going into tonight’s game against the Suns. Bryant told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports! that he’s feeling good about many things: The right wrist that is holding up despite torn ligaments, the attitude and philosophy of new coach Mike Brown and especially the play of his front court teammates Bynum and Pau Gasol.
Bryant loves that Brown’s pushing people within the organization, that he’s pushing Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, and, yes, that he’s pushing Bryant, too. The Lakers are still struggling to find themselves, but Brown is transforming them on the fly, fortifying them defensively and moving far away from the triangle offense. For everything that’s changed, Bryant still believes the core of a championship contender is here.
“We have our own Big Three,” Bryant said. “Andrew. Pau. And myself. Those are three bona fide All-Stars.
And you’d put that against anyone else’s three?
“Yes, I would.”
This promises to be a grueling sprint of a season where no one wants to hear about tired legs and injured players. Bryant’s always made it harder for Lakers teammates to sit out with injuries, because they know he’s plays through everything. For Gasol and Bynum, this has never been more important. “Mike’s pushed us hard, especially our bigs,” Bryant said of Brown. “He demands a lot from Pau. … But you’re seeing, Andrew has an incredible drive, an ambition to be great. And we need to encourage him in that.”
That’s a far cry from the way Bryant used to view the young big man in the middle of the L.A. lineup. But since starting the season late following his four-game suspension, Bynum has come a long way from the player who showed only flashes of his ability in the past. In his first half-dozen games this season, Bynum is averaging 18.8 points and 15.7 rebounds per game while shooting 53.6 percent. What he’s brought to the early part of this season has been consistency. He has only one game when he didn’t score in double figures and has hit double digits in rebounds every time out.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — It’s no longer appears to be a matter of ifDwight Howard and Chris Paul will have new uniforms before long, it’s just a matter of when, where and who goes first?
It would take too long to run through all of the potential scenarios of when these moves will finally go down and where they could end up, so we’re trying to get a good fix on whose deal goes down first.
Their respective situations remain fluid as we roll into the second day of free agency and training camp, with rumblings that both of these superstars remain in play for potential blockbuster deals.
A source directly involved in the negotiations told TNT’s David Aldridge Friday that progress had been made in a potential trade of Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the trade was not expected to be completed Friday and could have several more incarnations before being completed, if it is completed at all.
The trade may or may not ultimately involve the Houston Rockets, who were part of the initial version of the three-team deal, which was vetoed by NBA Commissioner David Stern Thursday night. In that version, the Hornets would send Paul, a four-time All-Star, to the Lakers. The Lakers would send forward Pau Gasol to Houston, and send forward Lamar Odom to New Orleans. The Hornets would receive forward Luis Scola, guards Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic and a 2012 first-round pick from Houston. But now, the deal could involve more or different teams that can provide the Hornets with the combination of young players and additional Draft picks that the league is seeking for Paul.
The Orlando Magic have given Dwight Howard’s representatives permission to speak with the New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks about a possible trade for the All-Star Center, his agent told Yahoo! Sports.
The Nets have a chance to close on a four-year, $60 million-plus deal for Denver Nuggets free-agent center Nene this weekend, but are working relentlessly to make a deal with Orlando for Howard, league sources said. Howard has been waffling between wanting a deal to the Lakers and Hollywood, and wanting to join point guard Deron Williams with the Nets and be the cornerstone of the franchise’s move to a new Brooklyn arena in 2012-13, sources told Y! Sports.
Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, denied reports Howard met with Nets officials on Thursday night – a possible violation of the NBA’s tampering rules if the Magic did not permit the meeting. Howard and Nets general manager Billy King also had previously denied meeting together.
Fegan said he met with King this week to discuss a deal for Nene, another client.
“Tampering is a non-issue,” Fegan told Yahoo! Sports by phone Friday night.
Howard, Williams and Nene adds three more big names to the six players involved in the Paul deal, making for a particularly spicy free agent gumbo this weekend.
With the tampering issues put to rest and the revival of the Paul talks by the Hornets, we’ll pose the question again before everyone get’s going this morning:
Want to know how we got where we are with Dwight Howard and his future? Just turn the calendar back two days …
It all started with reports of a meeting between Howard, his associates and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and GM Billy Kingin Miami on Thursday night. ESPN.com reported the meeting and if such a discussion did take place, it was a clear violation of NBA tampering rules.
By lunchtime on the East coast (and well before teams opened training camp doors), news had already come out (courtesy of our own tireless David Aldridge) that the Magic might file tampering charges against two unnamed teams for illegally talking with its star big man. By the end of the night on free-agency’s first full day, Howard’s status in Orlando (or elsewhere for that matter) remained squarely in the crosshairs.
ESPN.com reported earlier Friday that Howard would soon request a trade to New Jersey. Later that same day, Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, denied that his client had illegal contact with teams in an interview with ESPN The Magazine. Worth noting, too, is that Magic GM Otis Smith said he granted Fegan permission to speak to the Nets about a deal involving Howard. Fegan didn’t deny that he and Howard had spoken over the phone with the Nets, but did deny any face-to-face meetings. We’ll let Fegan speak for himself, as he did to The Magazine and other media outlets:
“I read reports today of a meeting between Dwight Howard, his representatives and the New Jersey Nets which claimed, according to the story’s anonymous sources, that such a meeting violated the NBA’s tampering policies. This story is clearly inaccurate with respect to tampering claims and other facts. Tampering doesn’t apply once a team grants permission for a player and/or his representatives to make contact with another team. The Magic have given us permission to have contact with several teams in order for Dwight to explore his options. I most definitely had contact with the teams I was granted permission to speak with. Since we had permission to have contact with several teams the report of possible tampering is undeniably false.
“In addition, the report that Dwight was supposed to be traded today is also inaccurate. In fact, so many of the facts reported in today’s story are inaccurate, it is difficult to separate the facts from fiction, so I’m not even going to bother to address the other inaccuracies.”
Good luck getting that one past the discerning eyes of millions of basketball fans that know better.
The explanation for the league putting a stop to the three-team, Chris Paul-Lakers deal was disseminated via statement late last night, putting the final nail into what was clearly one of the most bizarre nights the league has seen in years.
From the decision itself to the theories behind why it happened, not to mention the most twisted piece of all, Dan Gilbert‘s terse email detailing his displeasure (and that of many other owners) with the proposed trade was, it all just felt wrong.
It felt wrong as it was going down, wrong during three or four hours of sleep were lucky to get here at the hideout and dead wrong this morning as we try to make sense of the senseless.
The league picked the wrong time to intervene for “basketball reasons.” That should have been done long before Hornets general manager Dell Demps engaged in trade discussions with the dozen or so teams that made serious inquiries about Paul. And even then it would have been the wrong thing to do.
Whoever owns the Hornets will have to deal with the reality that Paul has no intention of playing for the franchise longterm. So rather than making a fool of the franchise, a mockery of the process and a bigger mess than the 149-day lockout did with the fans, someone needed to do the right thing and find a deal that allowed for Paul’s departure without totally destroying the fabric of the franchise.
Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor did it last season when he moved Deron Williams, his franchise’s most valuable asset at that time, before being backed into a similar corner. What Demps was attempting to do was in the very best interest of the franchise and would have been by most any reasonable standard a solid deal for the Hornets (you get three starters, two draft picks and save yourself from the ongoing saga that would have been CP3-watch for the next however many months … you have to take that deal).
Worse yet, the folks suffering the worst today are the players in all three cities that have to show up for training camp, if they show up for training camp, and answer questions about decisions that had nothing to do with them and they had no hand in making.
In Houston, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Kevin Martin have to deal with the fallout. In Los Angeles a wounded Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol will be expected to hit the floor and act as if the night before had never happened. And in New Orleans, Paul has to decide if legal action is his best recourse for being allowed to do what we all know he will do at some point, and that’s leave the Hornets.
Not even “basketball reasons” will keep that from happening at some point.
UPDATE 9:47 p.m.: One of the biggest blockbuster trades of this new NBA season died before it ever got done. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who first reported the deal earlier, is now reporting that the deal was killed by the league.
NBA commissioner David Stern has killed the New Orleans Hornets’ trade of Chris Paul after several owners complained about the league-owned team dealing the All-Star point guard to the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Some owners pushed Stern to demand that trade be nullified, and the Hornets be made to keep Paul on the roster for the foreseeable future, sources said. A chorus of owners were irate with the belief that the five-month lockout had happened largely to stop big-market teams from leveraging small-market teams for star players pending free agency.
All the players involved in the trade have been told to report to their teams for the start of training camp on Friday.
Before Stern intervened, the Lakers had reached an agreement to acquire Paul in a three-team trade that would have cost them Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The shockwaves that the initial reports of the deal sent around the league will be matched by the outrage simmering now that the deal is apparently off.
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LAKERS’ DEAL FOR PAUL DEAL CLOSE
UPDATE 6:03 p.m.:Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the Hornets are informing teams that Chris Paul is headed to the Lakers in a deal for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom:
The Hornets have started to inform teams that they’re sending Chris Paul to the Lakers for Gasol and Odom, league sources tell Y! Sports.
Whether or not this removes the Lakers from the Dwight Howard sweepstakes remains to be seen. They still have Andrew Bynum to work with, if they were to pursue such a deal.
But Kobe Bryant and Bynum with Paul running the show keeps the Lakers among the elite and favorites in the Western Conference.
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UPDATE 5:58 p.m.:Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that free agent small forward Josh Howard and coveted big man Nene could be a package deal, depending on where the Brazilian center/power forward signs:
Wiz free agent SF Josh Howard is attracted to signing with team DEN FA C Nene signs with, source tells Y! SA, Chi, Den, NO, Utah, NJ in mix
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BREAKING DOWN THE DEAL
UPDATE 3:47 p.m.: David Aldridge reports Caron Butler is heading to the Clippers, reportedly for three years/$24 million. Butler was considering offers from the Nets, Bulls, and Spurs, but chose the up and coming Clippers instead.
Also, parameters for a potential three-team deal appear to be in place that would land Chris Paul in Los Angeles with the Lakers. According to Aldridge, the deal would look like this:
Lakers get: G Chris Paul
Hornets get: F Luis Scola, G Kevin Martin, G Goran Dragic, 1st and second round picks
Rockets get: F/C Pau Gasol
Note: The deal is not done. Sources indicate while the Lakers and Rockets are comfortable with the deal, the Hornets are still making inquiries about Paul with other teams.
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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Thank you Tayshaun Prince.
Thank you for doing your business quietly and without rumors swirling about your future. Thank you for bringing a measure of calm to a process that has been anything but for so many. And congratulations on four more years in Detroit for a tidy $27 million.
Now back to the trade rumor craziness that has had all of our heads spinning today.
The truth is, we don’t have enough hands that could type fast enough here at the hideout to keep up with all of this craziness. The rumors are flying at a wicked clip. and the official start of free agency is still hours away.
What we know, as of this minute, is that the New York Knicks have come out of nowhere to lead the pack in the chase for Tyson Chandler, per reports from both Ken Berger of CBSSports.com and. Of course, this could complicate the Knicks’ pursuit of Chris Paul (unless they have another move up their sleeve) and deals yet another nasty blow to Chauncey Billups, who could be on the move for the second time in 10 months due to circumstances, one way or another when all is said and done.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Go to sleep if you want to. Just don’t be angry when you wake up and everything you knew to be true about the Chris Paul sweepstakes has changed.
With the list of teams in pursuit of the superstar point guard changing literally by the hour, no rumor is safe. And whatever you read yesterday, no matter how intriguing it might have been, probably can’t compare to the latest.
The other contenders, the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics, are all chest-deep in the chase as well, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. And the potential packages being prepared by said teams are rather intriguing:
The Clippers would have to include 23-year-old restricted free-agent center DeAndre Jordan in a package to get Paul, along with forward Al-Farouq Aminu, guard Eric Bledsoe and the 2012 first-round pick they acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Clippers are more attractive to Paul than the Warriors or Boston Celtics, because of the chance to be paired with Griffin and Gordon. Golden State has been aggressive in its pursuit of Chandler independent of Paul, but the Warriors don’t have as appealing a supporting cast for Paul. The Warriors’ offer for Paul is centered around Stephen Curry and rookie guard Klay Thompson.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For all of the talk about All-Stars Chris Paul and Dwight Howard leaving New Orleans and Orlando, respectively, for the Tri-State area, there’s a team on the left coast that remains a factor in this complicated affair that we should not overlook.
In a lot of ways, the Hornets and Orlando Magic are in a race to make a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers for Paul and Howard. They’re running so many scenarios across the big boards in their offices, but make no mistake: Los Angeles is the port that can entice Paul and Howard to sign extensions, with the one player – young center Andrew Bynum – as a centerpiece that can justify the trade.
The Lakers and Hornets talked several days ago, league sources told Yahoo! Sports, but it was one of those circuitous conversations that left the sides unclear what it would take to get a deal done, and the talk ended with no formal offers. The Lakers and Hornets expect to speak again this week, sources said. The prospect of Pau Gasol as the primary player going to the Hornets won’t be acceptable, sources said. The Lakers will ultimately be willing to let New Orleans pick its player in the deal – Bynum or Gasol – but New Orleans is determined to get quality, and quantity, in a deal.
Bynum has privately been heard to say this offseason that he wants his own team, and the chances of him getting that – in New Orleans or Orlando – have never been higher. Years ago, Kobe Bryant wanted Bynum moved for Jason Kidd, but Bryant’s been insistent all summer that he still believes in this core, isn’t interested in wholesale change.
The issue of honoring Bryant’s wishes (or not) is another story. What we do know is this: few teams anywhere can offer a trade piece as enticing as the prospect of Bynum, an oft-injured yet super talented behemoth who still has not reached his ceiling.
With either Paul or Howard in a Lakers uniform, the twilight of Bryant’s career won’t send Lakers fans into a tailspin as they think about what comes next. They’d already have the franchise anchor needed to help rebuild into a championship-level outfit on the roster.
Bynum was supposed to be that heir apparent when he entered the league as a precocious teenager believed to be the next pivot in the Lakers’ long and distinguished line of franchise centers. But injuries stunted that plan. If now is the time to finally make a break for the future, the Lakers couldn’t have pick a better one.
With both Paul and Howard rumored to be in fluid situations right now, the Lakers could be poised to play spoiler yet again on the free agent market (those of us old enough to remember it will never forget the summer Shaq made his way from Orlando to LA) …
Chris Paul’s agent informed New Orleans officials on Wednesday that his client will not sign a contract extension and wants to be traded to the New York Knicks, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
As soon as the NBA lifts its lockout restrictions, Hornets general manager Dell Demps wants to meet with Paul and hear that directive from him.
Nevertheless, the prospects of the Hornets executing a trade with the Knicks appear to be relatively dim. The Knicks simply don’t have the trade assets that come close to meeting New Orleans’ criteria for a deal. Demps has been listening to overtures from teams around the league, and has been actively working under the assumption that Paul would reject a contract extension.
The Hornets have no intention of letting Paul walk away at season’s end without trying to get maximum value for him. There are several teams, including the Boston Celtics, that could be willing to make a deal for Paul with the hope of convincing him to eventually sign an extension.
If the flurry of activity expected when teams can conduct free agent business includes a transaction including Paul, the roller coaster ride for several other high-profile players could begin.
The addition of Paul in New York, where he would join All-Stars Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, would no doubt jolt a few other Eastern Conference contenders to examine their situations to see if there is anything they could do to combat a move of that magnitude.
You’ve got to love having this sort of drama back after that 149-day lockout!
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We apologize in advance for the conflicting reports you’re going to hear in the days and weeks ahead about basically any and every NBA player, free agent or not, being pursued by this team or that team.
Hey, it’s that time of year, just a few months later than normal.
Of course, with a condensed free agency period/training camp all rolled into one, things are going to be a little wilder and crazier than usual. So again, be prepared to hear any and everything and just remember that until at least Dec. 9, it’s all talk …
PACERS CHASING RONDO?
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: As Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge aggressively pursues possible deals for Rajon Rondo, the Indiana Pacers have emerged as an intriguing suitor for the point guard, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. For the past few days, Pacers officials – and third-party surrogates – have been making calls and gathering information and insight into Rondo’s reputation as a teammate and leader, sources said. The Pacers and Celtics have discussed the preliminary framework of a deal, but two sources said Indiana would need a third team to provide Boston with the talent it wants to do a deal. The Celtics are likely trying to gather the necessary pieces to make a bid for Ainge’s ultimate target: New Orleans point guard Chris Paul, sources said. It was unclear if the Pacers had begun to reach out to broaden discussions, but there was an expectation they would do so. The Celtics have been gauging Rondo’s trade value for more than a year, and have held discussions with teams about him across the past few trade deadlines and NBA drafts. There have long been divides within Boston’s front office, coaching staff and locker room about Rondo. He can be moody, difficult and stubborn, and several league sources were dubious if the Pacers’ young coach, Frank Vogel, would have the stature to deal with Rondo.
NETS READYING OFFER FOR DWIGHT HOWARD
Marc Stein and Chad Ford of ESPN.com: The New Jersey Nets are prepared to offer a trade package featuring Brook Lopez and two future first-round picks to acquire Dwight Howard before the Orlando Magic center becomes a free agent in July 2012, according to sources close to the situation. Sources told ESPN.com this week that, to sweeten the proposal, New Jersey would likewise offer to take back the contract of Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu, who has three seasons left on his contract worth just under $35 million. Absorbing Turkoglu’s remaining salary would become financially feasible for the Nets after the expected release of swingman Travis Outlaw through the amnesty clause that will be included in the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement and by including another smaller contract or two in the deal. No trade deadline for the 2011-12 season has been set in stone yet by the league office, but many team executives believe it will fall in March. Once the league officially re-opens for business, Howard’s future in Orlando is sure to be one of the season’s dominant story lines, along with Chris Paul’s future in New Orleans and the Nets’ attempts to secure a long-term commitment from star guard Deron Williams. It’s been an open secret around the league that the Nets’ dream scenario is pairing Howard with Williams, after they followed up their failed pursuit of Carmelo Anthony last season by trading for Williams just before the February trade deadline. It remains to be seen whether Howard will regard the Nets as a prime destination on par with the New York Knicks, even after they move out of New Jersey, but sources say that Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov has long believed that teaming them up would convince both Team USA stars to commit their long-term future to the Brooklyn-bound Nets.