Posts Tagged ‘Alex Martins’

Morning shootaround — May 30

VIDEO: NBA TV analysts discuss Scott Skiles return to Orlando

Wade could test Heat | Hoiberg on tap | Skiles returns to Orlando | Harden wants help | Irving welcomes rest

No. 1: Wade could force Riley’s hand — What price loyalty? Over the years while team president Pat Riley has shuffled the roster to keep the Heat in the championship mix, franchise player Dwyane Wade has frequently made financial sacrifices to make it all work. He gave up money to get LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami. He took a shorter deal last summer after James left and the team gave Bosh a big, long-term deal. Now it could be time for Wade to expect his payoff and Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel says it could prove a challenge to Riley:

Amid the uncertainty of the team’s roster situation last June, Wade opted out of the final two years that was left on that contract. Then, once LeBron James elected to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency, Wade re-upped with the Heat on a two-year, $31 million deal that included a $16 million salary for 2015-16 at his option. That contract left more than $10 million on the table from what he otherwise would have collected by not opting out last June.

At the same time, Heat center Chris Bosh, who also is represented by Thomas, secured a maximum free-agent offer from the Houston Rockets, which then led to Bosh agreeing to a five-year, $118 million package with the Heat that began this past season.

Now, with James playing for a championship in Cleveland, it appears Wade might be seeking the type of significant deal he did not secure last summer.

“Several guys opted out of their contract last year,” Thomas said. “Obviously Dwyane wasn’t in a position that Chris was in, in terms of having another team offer a maximum deal. But the reality of this is he’s played his entire career for Miami. He’s done wonderful things in terms of the five titles that they played for, winning three of them.

“He’s had a tremendous career, and we’re just trying to see whether or not there’s room to continue that.”


No. 2: Bulls ready to make Hoiberg coach — In a city known for plenty of political secrets and more than its share of back room dealing, nobody is surprised that the Bulls have Fred Hoiberg lined up to the be their next head coach, replacing the fired Tom Thibodeau. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times says its only a matter of Hoiberg making things official:

“It’s just when Fred [Hoiberg] says yes to them, not if,’’ the source said. “This is a year in the works.’’

Coaches – both college and at the NBA level – are actually very much dialed into one another, and there weren’t many in either profession that didn’t feel like the Bulls and Hoiberg would be a match “sooner than later.’’

With the NBA Finals between Cleveland and Golden State set to start on Thursday, the Bulls could have the Hoiberg matter signed, sealed and delivered before then.

The only possible hiccup out there seems to be the Minnesota Timberwolves, who also covet Hoiberg. Hoiberg played for the Timberwolves from 2003-05, and then was an assistant general manager for the franchise, seemingly on the fast track to become the general manager. When that never materialized, he went into coaching prior to the 2010 season, and has turned Iowa State into a prominent NCAA program.

According to sources, he’s actually been on the Bulls’ radar since late last year as a Plan B, and as the relationship between now former coach Tom Thibodeau and the front office disintegrated as the year has gone on, he was Plan A with no realistic options following him.

That’s what made the press conference with VP of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman such good theater on Thursday, as the two had to do their best to act like it will be a vast coaching search.

“We’ve got certain criteria that we’re going to be looking for in the next coach,’’ Forman said. “But we’re not going to put ourselves in a box – ‘had to be a head coach, had to be an assistant coach, what level they’ve coached on’ – we’re really going to look for the right fit.

“And I went through some of those things that I’ve talked about. Obviously someone that can lead, but we’ve got to get somebody that can communicate at a high level, that’s got great knowledge of the game, obviously experience is a plus, as far as coaching is concerned. If they’ve been a head coach even more so, but we’re not going to limit our search in any way.’’


No. 3: Skiles hopes to make more Magic in Orlando — It took Scott Skiles and Magic president Alex Martins some time to make sure they were getting back together for all the right reasons, but the former point guard made his return to Orlando official and now he picks up the rebuilding process, says Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

In reality, however, the Magic first had to overcome a significant obstacle, a hurdle in Skiles’ mind.

“I wanted to make sure I was being hired because they thought I could coach, not because I was someone that was affiliated with the organization in the past,” Skiles said.

That concern, Skiles explained, started to fade away once he and the team’s general manager, Rob Hennigan, held a seven-hour talk in Skiles’ suburban Orlando home in recent weeks.

“The first conversation I had with him, I made it very clear that our first priority was to get to know each other on a personal level,” Hennigan said. “The conversation really sort of cascaded from there. I didn’t bring up one time that it was a bonus that he played here or has familiarity with the area and the fan base. That was truly just gravy.”

Throughout a press conference late Friday afternoon, Hennigan and Martins sought to combat the widespread perception that the team hired Skiles because of his past ties to the franchise.

Martins said Hennigan provided him with a list of potential hires shortly after the season ended, and Hennigan started to go through each name one-by-one. When Hennigan arrived at Skiles’ name and started to speak, Martins stopped Hennigan and told him that Hennigan had to arrive at his own conclusions.

Martins added that he spoke with Skiles just twice between the end of the regular season and Friday. The first time lasted just several minutes and was meant to inform Skiles that Hennigan would be in contact. The second time occurred Thursday, when Skiles, Martins and Hennigan traveled to Grand Rapids, Mich., to speak with the DeVos family.

“I truly wanted this to be an objective decision about his coaching ability,” Martins said Friday. “I didn’t want my personal past with Scott and my experience with him of having been a player here and our relationship to enter into that. We truly had to find the right coach for this team.”


No. 4: Harden would welcome playmaker — One look at a worn-away, worn-down, worn-out James Harden at the end of the Western Conference finals was all that was needed to tell you that the MVP candidate could not be expected to carry so much of the load if he is going to carry the Rockets to their goal of winning a championship. At the team’s exit interviews on Friday, Harden confirmed that he would welcome the offseason acquisition of a playmaking point guard so the Rockets can take the next step forward. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle has the details:

He said he “definitely” would like to see the Rockets add another playmaker to take some of that responsibility out of his hands.
“That’s one of the conversations me and Daryl are going to have (and) the coaches,” Harden said. “That’s one of the pieces to add, but that’s later conversations. We’ll be all right. We’re very confident in the group we have. This summer we have to work hard and be ready for next year.”

Still, Harden said the Rockets could benefit from keeping more of their core together. Of the 15 players on the Rockets final 2013-14 roster, seven were gone by the start of the next season. Just five players on roster that faced the Trail Blazers were around by the start of this season’s playoffs.

He called keeping the Rockets’ nucleus together “very important” and spoke of the benefits of growing together.

“If we get Pat (Beverley) and D-Mo (Donatas Motiejunas) back healthy, we’re a really good team, a really deep team,” Harden said.

“We’re pretty good with what we have, maybe add a piece or so. But we made it this far with a couple of our guys injured and banged up. Put those guys together and we’ll be a lot better.”

Harden said he intends to work on his “entire game,” and cited “different aspects of shooting, coming off pin-downs, my ball-handling, not turning the basketball over so much.  Post-up game.”



No. 5: Break before Finals suits Irving — The rest of basketball world may not be happy with more than a week break before the start of the NBA Finals. But Cavs mending point guard Kyrie Irving says the break before taking on the Warriors is just what the doctor ordered, according to our own Steve Aschburner:

“I’m participating in everything,” Irving said after the Cavaliers’ workout Friday. “We just had a light practice today. The next few days, we’ll definitely ramp it up, I assume. I’m in everything. So I’m ready to go.”

That’s a departure from the previous three rounds. Irving sprained his right foot early in the first round against Boston, which, as he continued to play on it, led to a compensating injury in his left knee. That tendinitis limited him against Chicago and caused him to skip Games 2 and 3 against Atlanta in the East finals.

The three-time All Star, 23, did at least travel with the Cavs to Atlanta to start the series, then took a side trip to Florida with Cleveland team physician Dr. Richard Parker to consult with noted sports orthopedist Dr. James Andrews. They came back with a tweaked treatment plan, which Irving credited for helping him play in the Game 4 clincher Tuesday. He scored 16 points in 22 minutes in the 30-point blowout.

Irving’s production hasn’t dropped off entirely, even though he has lacked his signature turbocharged quickness, along with the trust in his body. In 12 games, he has averaged 18.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists, and his player-efficiency rating of 20.3 is within his PER range of 20.1 to 21.5 through his first four NBA seasons.

But going through the “will he or won’t he?” uncertainty with the knee (the foot isn’t much of an issue anymore) took a mental toll on Irving. So did the layers of treatment, even as he was trying to properly prepare in case he did play.

“You know, being hurt sucks. Especially in a time like that,” Irving said. “So it was just a learning experience, to say the least. But it was a test of my will. I was very resilient in what I was doing. Hopefully going forward I don’t have any relapse.”


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Klay Thompson could miss at least several days of practice before The Finals after diagnosis of a concussion….Dwight Howard will miss the 2015-16 season opener after getting upgraded to a flagrant foul in the Western Conference finals closer…Warriors Bogut says Dwight Howard crosses the line with physical play…Alvin Gentry is the first candidate to get a second interview with the Pelicans…Wes Matthews leaves the door open in Portland….Thabo Sefolosha says New York police have damaged his reputation

Van Gundy Says Rose May Flee Chicago

HANG TIME, TexasLeBron James to Miami. Chris Paul to the L.A. Clippers. Dwight Howard to the L.A. Lakers.

So who’s next to spin the wheel of free agent fortune and plot his escape to greener pastures?

Would you believe Derrick Rose?

That’s the latest white-hot offering from former Magic coach-turned-media-flamethrower Stan Van Gundy, whom we’ve got to figure owns considerable stock in a Molotov cocktail factory or is auditioning to replace Mrs. O’Leary’s cow as the most famous fire-starter in Chicago history.

Speaking on AM-740’s The Game in Orlando, the former Magic coach sent an ill breeze through the Windy City by suggesting that there would come a time when Rose would look to leave Chicago.

“I think the interesting one coming up in the future is going to be Derrick Rose,” Van Gundy said. “I think Derrick Rose is a great, great representative of our league, and he’s a great player. And he’s got good players around him, very good players around him, but if (the Bulls) can’t get another star there for him is he eventually going to look around and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got to work this out on my own and I’ve got to find somehow to get somewhere else so that I will have a chance to play with another star.’ The league has changed.”

Rose, who is rehabbing the torn ACL he suffered in Game 1 of the playoffs against Philadelphia last spring, has never even hinted at making a head-fake toward the door. In fact, since signing his five-year, $90-million contract extension, he has repeatedly said that he wants and plans to finish his career in Chicago. What’s more, in the past two seasons with coach Tom Thibodeau at the helm, Rose has won an MVP award and twice led his team to the NBA’s best regular-season record.

In his defense, Van Gundy was talking about a possible future scenario if Rose were unable to win a championship with the pieces that can be put around him in Chicago and was using the 2012 championship by the Heat as an example. (more…)

Van Gundy Keeps On Blasting Magic

HANG TIME, Texas — Are there any bridges left in Orlando? If so, Stan Van Gundy will probably burn them by tomorrow.

Dwight Howard’s former coach and sparring partner continued his carpet bombing of the franchise that fired him by calling CEO Alex Martins naive and said he had “no knowledge of the game” during Mike Bianchi‘s radio show on 740 AM in Orlando:

“It’s a typical lack of understanding from someone who has no sports knowledge, who has never coached or played, who has never been in a lockeroom….it’s a naivete,” Van Gundy said of Martins Monday morning on Mike Bianchi’s show on 740 AM.

“….I’ll stand on the relationships with players based on the results we got.

“I think Alex’s comments are based on the fact that Dwight and maybe others didn’t like me…and thinking somehow that’s important.”

Nobody will ever nominate Van Gundy for a post in the diplomatic corp, so the fact that he’s been forthcoming and blunt in the aftermath of being let go by the Magic is hardly shocking. Truth is, in a world of professional sports that has become increasingly corporate, clandestine and, frankly, often quite boring, StanVan and his willingness to react like an exposed nerve end is as welcome as a cleansing summer rain.

Who can forget the scene last spring when Van Gundy had just finished telling a throng of reporters that Howard had asked to have him fired just before the disgruntled center walked up and placed an arm around his shoulder to act buddy-buddy?

It was just last week when Hang Time noted Van Gundy’s previous outburst on 790 The Ticket in Miami. (more…)

Dwight Howard Finally Speaks His Peace, Reiterates Trade Demand!

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You had to know this story wasn’t going to have a happy ending.

Magic center Dwight Howard has made sure of it, now that he’s finally broken his silence about the bizarre turn of events surrounding his future with the organization that drafted him and the one he is demanding he be traded to. All indications for the latter is Brooklyn, even though Howard still refuses to say it publicly.

Howard, in an interview with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, reiterated his demand for a trade request from Orlando and shot down an ESPN story that cited sources saying he accused the Magic of “blackmailing” him into signing away his right to enter free agency this summer:

“I never used the word blackmail in reference to any of my dealings with the Magic,” Howard said. “I never said that. It’s defamatory and it’s inaccurate. I know what blackmail means and any report that I used the term incorrectly is inaccurate.”

Howard met with new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan on Friday in Los Angeles, and said he told Hennigan of his desire to be traded. However, Howard insisted he was merely repeating a position he had made clear to Magic officials since waiving his ETO in March.

“This was not the first time [that I asked for trade],” Howard said. “I communicated this to [Magic president] Alex [Martins] and [former general manager] Otis [Smith] way before Friday that I wanted to be traded – months before this meeting with Rob Hennigan. That was all way before Stan [Van Gundy] got fired.”

Howard’s bottom-line declaration that the Magic trade him now, to the unspecified team on “his list,” or play out the season and watch him walk away in free agency after the season leaves all involved in the same position they’ve been in for months.

It also guarantees that the divorce between Howard, the Magic and the city of Orlando will be as nasty as anything we’ve seen in recent years. That list includes the nasty split between LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.


No Need For a PJax Comeback!

HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — He has to take the calls and at least entertain the possibility of coming back, especially when teams are offering the ridiculous amounts of money and power you know they are to legendary coach Phil Jackson.

We’re hoping Jackson has the restraint that others in his shoes, living legends in their particular field with absolutely nothing left to prove, uses the power of Zen to resist any urge to come back. It’s not that we don’t love having him around, because the league is infinitely more interesting with him in front of the microphone and sitting in that high chair on the sideline somewhere.

But there is simply no need for a comeback, certainly not as a coach. Any lingering sting at the way he went out, Jackson’s Lakers were swept in the Western Conference semifinals last season by the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks, should pale in comparison to the historic mountain of accomplishments Jackson piled up during his coaching career.

You would hope that the 11 rings, countless memories and his status as arguably the greatest coach of all time (in the NBA and anywhere else), would be enough to satisfy Jackson’s basketball jones.

But if we are to believe Thursday rumblings that Jackson bowed out of an opportunity to take over in some capacity in Orlando, maybe  a lifetime spent in the winner’s circle is not enough for Jackson.


Van Gundy And Smith Out In Orlando

HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — At least Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith will get to walk out of the door together in Orlando.

In what has to rank as the least surprising move of this NBA season, both the Orlando Magic coach and general manager, respectively, parted ways with the organization this afternoon. Van Gundy was relieved of his duties after five seasons with the organization and Smith came to a mutual agreement with the organization to end his tenure, the Magic announced via their website:

“On behalf of the DeVos Family, we sincerely appreciate and thank Otis and Stan for all that they have done on and off the floor for the Orlando Magic,” said [Magic CEO Alex] Martins. “These are the days you dread in this business, but we feel it’s time for new leadership and new voices.

“They both brought die-hard dedication and an unmatched work ethic on a daily basis,” added Martins. “Their success is well documented, as the Orlando Magic has had the fourth best record in the NBA over the last five years, and entering the playoffs this year the third most playoff wins over that period of time. The disappointment of getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs these past two seasons played a primary role in our decision, as we feel our momentum towards winning a championship has paused. We wish Otis and Stan all the best and we look forward to taking the next step towards winning that championship.”

Martins, the man credited with keeping Dwight Howard in the fold at the trade deadline, when Howard could have opted out of the final year of his current contract and become a free agent this summer, is now tasked with rebuilding the front office and coaching staff in an image that pleases Howard.


Trade Chatter: Rent-A-Dwight?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With all of the changes in to the script, it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with the details of the Dwight Howard trade saga as we get closer to next week’s trade deadline.

Howard gave the Magic a list of three teams — the Nets, Lakers and Mavericks — on his preferred list, were they to honor his training camp request and trade him this season.

Now comes word, via Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, that the Magic have a list of “six to eight” teams they are talking to about Howard:

“I’d say everybody in the league has called us. …but this late, it’s six to eight,” [Magic GM Otis] Smith said before the Magic faced the Toronto Raptors on Monday night.

Smith said there was “nothing new to report” about Howard’s situation.

With the trade deadline next [Thursday], Smith wouldn’t get into any specifics about Howard.

“We still have a ways to go. It’s early,” he said. “Usually nothing gets done until the 15th.”

Howard has been talking with Magic CEO Alex Martins, who remains hopeful that the franchise can convince their superstar center to stay.

Howard has an early-termination option in his contract and can become a free agent after the season. He told the Magic he preferred to be dealt to the New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks or Los Angeles Lakers.

The Magic said when Howard presented his trade-request list early in training camp in December that they seek compensation if Howard had made up his mind to leave Orlando.

Smith said he expects some trade activity around the league at the deadline.

This notion that Howard could be traded to a team not on his preferred list means some team is willing to rent Howard’s services. A “Rent-A-Dwight” situation, if you will.


How Does Lopez Injury Affect Howard?

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Deron Williams scored an NBA season-high 57 points Sunday night in Charlotte, but the bigger story coming out of the Nets’ win was an injury to Brook Lopez, who would be the centerpiece of a trade for Dwight Howard.

The Nets said Monday that Lopez suffered a sprained right ankle and will be out for three weeks. The bad news is that the trade deadline is in just 10 days, and after playing every single game in his first three seasons, Lopez has suffered two injuries with his team’s sights set on Howard.

The good news is that the injury, though it’s the same foot, is unrelated to the broken bone that forced Lopez to miss the first 32 games of the season. No injuries are good, but this one isn’t too bad.

So does it affect the Nets’ ability to acquire Howard before the deadline? Not really.

Whether or not Howard gets traded still comes down to Magic owner Rich DeVos and president Alex Martins. If they decide in the next 10 days that they can convince Howard to stay in Orlando beyond this season, they’re not going to trade for Lopez, healthy or not.

But if the Magic realize that Howard’s time in Orlando is definitely coming to an end, they have no choice but to make a deal, so that they can get what they can (players, picks and cap relief) for their star. And if Howard and agent Dan Fegan make it clear that Howard will be playing in Brooklyn no matter what next season, the Magic have little choice but to make a deal with the Nets.

Even with Lopez hobbled, the Nets can still offer a decent package. In addition to Lopez (there’s no restriction on trading for an injured player), they have rookie MarShon Brooks, a bevy of first-round picks, and enough expiring contracts to absorb the contract of Hedo Turkoglu (owed at least $17.8 million after this season) or Glen Davis ($19.4 million) in a trade. The ability to offer Orlando salary relief is an asset in itself, one that New Jersey has been sure to maintain as it has struggled through a 12-26 season.

If Orlando decides to keep Howard, the Nets will wait, hoping to sign him as a free agent in July, an option that would allow them to keep Lopez and their other assets. But they’d surely jump at the chance to trade for Howard in the next 10 days.

Lopez’s latest injury shouldn’t really affect that scenario, because the possibility of a trade is really about what the Magic believe regarding Howard’s long-term intentions, and not about Lopez’s short-term health.


As Superman Turns … staff reports

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 King in Miami on Thursday night. 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. 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.”

King, for his part, denied the meeting with Howard.