Posts Tagged ‘Baron Davis’

Protected Picks Wring Out Some Sizzle From Trade Deadline Day

Indiana decision-makers Donnie Walsh (left) and Kevin Pritchard (Ron Hoskins/NBAE)

Indiana decision-makers Donnie Walsh (left) and Kevin Pritchard (Ron Hoskins/NBAE)

Trade deadline day in the NBA isn’t what it used to be, for a variety of reasons. The 2014 Draft has loomed large over this season, making teams leery of doing anything – trading a potentially valuable pick, improving their way out of the right combination of lottery balls – that might get between them and a franchise-altering prospect. New luxury-tax penalties have made teams loathe to cross the tax threshold for what might be a couple months’ impact. And looming free agency argues against a rent-a-player move.

Well, here’s another reason: the protected first-round pick.

Time was, a traded first-round pick was just that – traded. It got packaged up immediately in the deal, designed for whatever year applied. If it was for the very next draft, great. If it was for two or three years hence, that was fine, too. Everyone, including the team’s fans, knew the trade’s price and the payoff.

Now consider the way draft picks are dealt in the NBA of 2014. When the Chicago Bulls in early January surrendered to Luol Deng‘s impending free agency, compounded by their dashed ambitions in the wake of Derrick Rose‘s second season-ending knee injury, they shipped Deng to Cleveland. The headlines billed it as “Deng to Cavs for Bynum, three future picks.”

The devil, as they say, was in the details. Two of the picks sent to the Bulls in the deal will be second-rounders from Portland (2015, 2016). And the first-rounder they acquired, which began as Sacramento’s, could shrink all the way down to nothing thanks to the qualifiers attached to it: This year, the pick belongs to Chicago only if the Kings are poised to draft at No. 13 or later (they’re 18-36 at the moment, tied for the league’s fourth-worst record).

It is protected in 2015, 2016 and 2017 through No. 10, which is to say, if Sacramento isn’t at least vying for a playoff berth over the next three years, it still won’t have to cough up the pick. And if that’s the case, it becomes a 2017 second-round pick – but with protection for Nos. 56-60. If that kicks in, then the obligation is extinguished entirely.

Even the right to swap draft slots with the Cavs in 2015, a sweetener in the Deng deal, is protected through the lottery. As for center Andrew Bynum, he was involved merely to shed his $6 million salary off both teams’ caps; Chicago cut him the next day before a contract guarantee kicked in.

A half-season of Deng, in other words, potentially was traded for two second-round picks. That’s a lot less sexy and headline-grabbing than the deal originally appeared. And that has sapped some of the excitement from NBA trades, period, including deadline day.

What happened to cause this? Three little letters: C. Y. A.

“We all did it, I think, the minute the lottery came in,” said Indiana’s Donnie Walsh, a consultant to Larry Bird after a long career running the Pacers’ and Knicks’ front offices. “With the lottery, you could end up [losing] the first pick in the draft. Nobody wants to have that happen. You’d look like a fool.”

Or you’d look like the Clippers, who as recently as 2011 sent an unprotected first-round to Cleveland in a multi-player deal designed primarily to shed guard Baron Davis‘ $28 million contract obligations. Two months later, that pick bounced up to No. 1 in the lottery and became All-Star MVP Kyrie Irving. Neil Olshey, the Clippers’ GM at the time, works in Portland these days.

“So the lottery started it,” Walsh said, “and then it got more regimented from there. Because there were, what, seven teams in the lottery at first, then 11 in the lottery. Every time it got bigger, more teams tried to protect whatever it was, on that one chance they could lose something really good.”

For the folks who run NBA teams, it is a form of buying on credit. It is insurance for those who cut the dramatic deals that can dictate a team’s success or failure for a decade.

Sometimes protecting a pick and having its eventual payout hang over the franchise for several years – during which local media can remind fans of a bad trade again and again – can be worse than taking one’s medicine quickly and moving on. Voila!

“Sometimes you put that in the deal,” Walsh said. “Teams will put something in there where, you don’t have to give it but you can make them take it.”

Having what starts out as a glamorous first-round pick shrivel down to drab second-rounds or even vanish entirely might seem like bad business. But Walsh saw the pragmatic side of that. “If you’re looking to get rid of money and you have to wait three years to find out you got some seconds, so be it,” he said. “You’ve got time to make up for it.”

Protecting first-round picks rivals Congress for the way it kicks a potentially unpleasant can down the road.  Why give up a pick sooner when it can be conveyed later, presumably on someone else’s watch?

“I don’t think you think it out like that, because I don’t think you think you’re ever gonna get fired,” Walsh said, laughing before a recent Pacers home game. “But you want to push it down the road, yeah.

“You hope that you’ll be good by then and it won’t really hurt you. You figure, if it doesn’t work, I won’t be here. But if I am here, I don’t want to have to pay this off.”

Game 7: Legacy On The Line For Wade?

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – One game doesn’t make a legacy.

One play, one moment, in one game, in one season does not make or break a career.

So why does it feel like there is so much riding on Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals for Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade? The growing mob of skeptics is writing him off as too old and battered to rebound from the struggles that have plagued him throughout this postseason and this series in particular. They’re ready to stick a fork in him and declare what had been the “Big 3″ the “Big 1 and 3/4.”

Sure, there is much riding on this game for the other stars involved — LeBron James and Chris Bosh from the Heat and the Indiana Pacers’ trio of Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West. The coaches, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra and Indiana’s Frank Vogel — and their respective franchises — have much on the line as well.

It goes deeper than that, however, for Wade. This game is about his legacy and whether or not he can bandage that busted right knee of his up tight enough to dial-up a throwback performance and help carry the Heat to victory on Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena (8:30 ET, TNT).

Does he have the energy and intestinal fortitude to play through whatever pain he’s in and give the Heat more than the pedestrian (at least by Wade’s own lofty standards) 14.5 points on 44 percent shooting, 4.8 assists and 4.5 rebounds he’s delivering through the first six games? Can the Heat still “Call Tyrone” (Wade’s middle name) or do they need to look elsewhere for salvation, not to mention help for LeBron, in one of the biggest games of the Heat Big 3′s run together?

Wade says he and Bosh need bigger roles to help the Heat advance. They need more touches. And they need someone, presumably LeBron (even though he didn’t mention him by name in his locker room comments after Game 6), to facilitate this process since neither one of them has been able to do it on his own.

“We’ve got to do a good job of making sure me and Chris have our opportunities to succeed throughout the game,” Wade said. “That’s something we’re going to have to look at as a team.”

We’ve got guys individually who want to play better,” Wade said. “But we’ve got to try to help each other out in this locker room and not leave it up to the individual to self-will it.”

It’s hard to tell if that’s a plea for help or just a proud man stating the obvious. The Pacers have clamped down on anyone in a Heat jersey not named James. That’s why we have a Game 7, which is the ultimate proving ground for Wade and Bosh.

For the folks fortunate enough to make it through a conference finals Game 7, it changes lives in some instances. For superstar and future Hall of Famers like Wade, one championship secures your place in history. Two makes you a living legend. Three puts you in that rarefied air that only a select few occupy.

This stage is that great. Wade knows because he’s been here before. The reward carries a world of opportunities with it, a bevy of exposure that would not otherwise be available. Wade knows this better than most, having thrived in the Game 7 spotlight as early as his rookie season with the Heat back during the 2004 playoffs.

It was his star turn during the first round against New Orleans, back when Wade operated as the Heat’s point guard and wasn’t wearing all of the aches and pains that a decade’s worth of superstar work in this league that he does now.

Wade’s career record in Game 7s is 2-2, with each of those four games serving as defining moments throughout his career. (more…)

Courageous Collins Breaks Barrier


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Jason Collins displayed his courage routinely as a big man whose specialty was fighting for space under the rim against the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard. So the journeyman center, who played for both the Celtics and Wizards this season, had nothing to prove to me, you or anyone else when it comes to courageousness.

Jason Collins played for both the Celtics and Wizards last year, his 12th season in the NBA (Brian Babineau/NBAE)

Jason Collins played for both the Celtics and Wizards last year, his 12th season in the NBA (Brian Babineau/NBAE)

Yet Monday, he showed an entirely different type of bravery when he came out as the first openly gay athlete in a major American sport.

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

Those 12 words he wrote in a piece for Sports Illustrated will not only change the course his life but the lives of his friends, family, teammates and coaches (past, current and perhaps future). They will change everyone else involved with the NBA. Now that this barrier has been broken, Collins will forever be linked to this groundbreaking moment and what comes after.

I cannot think of a man better equipped to deal with this new reality. Collins always has been regarded as the ultimate professional, one of the smartest players of his generation and a teammate willing to give it all up for his team. No one spends 12 years getting cracked in the face by the sharp elbows of some of the best big men in NBA history without being willing and able to withstand some pressure.

Collins  always has been one of my favorite players to talk to about basketball and beyond. Catch him in the locker room before a game and bring up almost any topic and he could educate you on a thing or two.

So for every person who has an issue with Collins coming out — and there are sure to be plenty of them — there will be just as many who support him and have his back, folks who commend him for his courage and his refusal to fear the foolish reactions of some.

When you have as many friends in high places as Collins does …

… support should not be a problem.

“As Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement. “Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”

Collins is a wealthy Stanford graduate with options galore  and seemingly no need to share his truth with the judging masses. Yet he does, unflinchingly. Collins explaining himself is refreshingly honest:

Why am I coming out now? Well, I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I’m a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.

The first relative I came out to was my aunt Teri, a superior court judge in San Francisco. Her reaction surprised me. “I’ve known you were gay for years,” she said. From that moment on I was comfortable in my own skin. In her presence I ignored my censor button for the first time. She gave me support. The relief I felt was a sweet release. Imagine you’re in the oven, baking. Some of us know and accept our sexuality right away and some need more time to cook. I should know — I baked for 33 years.

When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “Me, too.”

It takes a brilliant mind to articulate thoughts as meticulously and honestly as Collins has here. It takes an understanding of who and what you are, at your core, to do this knowing that there are so many people still willing to give into the prejudice that is sure to come.

It takes true courage to do this without worrying about the repercussions. And courage is something Collins has in surplus, both as a basketball player and as a man.

He wants to march for tolerance and acceptance and understanding. He wants to take a stand.

I’d march with him any time. I’d stand with him.

Observations From Las Vegas




LAS VEGAS – Some thoughts just before leaving summer league, minus comment on the mean, mean lady standing on the other side of the table with an obvious anti-media bias constantly dealing 12s, 13s and 14s while turning face cards for the house:

  • The Bobcats are intriguing. Really. How will Mike Dunlap, a respected basketball mind but a surprise hire, do as a first-time NBA head coach? Can Bismack Biyombo, a project as a 2011 lottery pick who had some encouraging progress last season, take a big step toward becoming the ferocious defensive presence many envision? How will Dunlap find time for rookies Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor when both are small forwards? That’s a lot of prominent storylines at once.

One certain outcome, at least, will be to play Kidd-Gilchrist and Taylor together, an option since both are versatile and talented defenders. Dunlap sees them as capable of guarding either backcourt spot and, if the opponent goes small, either forward.

The Bobcats didn’t get the chance to test drive the look because MKG, the No. 2 pick, missed four of five games with a sore left knee, an absence they termed precautionary. But it was easy to see why some teams thought Taylor, who was picked at No. 31, could have been drafted eight or 10 picks higher. He’s smart, has improved his jumper a lot, is athletic and defends. That’s a nice future for a second-rounder.

“He reminds me a lot of Shane Battier,” Dunlap said. (more…)

Baron Davis Planning A Comeback

LAS VEGAS – Former All-Star guard Baron Davis said Thursday he plans to play in the NBA again, even though he will probably miss all 2012-13 because of a serious knee injury.

The 33-year-old veteran of 13 seasons with five teams suffered complete tears of two ligaments in his right knee and a partially torn tendon while playing for the Knicks in the May 6 playoff game against the Heat. The typical recovery time is 12 months.

Davis averaged 20.5 minutes in 29 games (14 starts) in his one season in New York, dealing with hamstring and previous knee issues along the way.

He is still wearing a knee brace, but otherwise looked in good condition.

Nash Says The Magic Words, Will Consider The Knicks In Free Agency





MIAMI – The words Knicks fans wanted to hear finally came flowing out of Steve Nash‘s mouth yesterday. The two-time MVP and soon-to-be free-agent point guard says the Knicks are on his list of teams that he’ll consider playing for this season.

He praised the Knicks during a promotional appearance in Manhattan, telling ESPNNewYork.com:

“The Knicks are a great franchise and I live in New York City (each summer), so I’d definitely consider them if they were interested.”

The Knicks’ interest should be high, considering their muddled point guard situation. Jeremy Lin is also a free agent and there is no guarantee he signs with the Knicks this summer. And Baron Davis had knee surgery and it’s not clear exactly when he will return and what shape his game will be in when he does.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson knows his team needs solid point guard play from the start of this season and who better to orchestrate for Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire (Nash’s former teammate in Phoenix) than the Nash?

There should be plenty of competition to sign Nash, 38, who has made it clear that he feels great and can see himself playing three more years:

“I want to wait and see what’s actually on the table,” he said. “I’m open and excited. I’m looking at every possibility right now. It sounds like there are a number of teams that are interested.”

Other than playing for the Heat or Magic (alongside Dwight Howard?), there isn’t a more intriguing destination for Nash than the Knicks. He has no plans to make a decision before free agency kicks off July 1.

Linsanity … One And Done In New York?





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — No one said Linsanity would last forever.

But one-and-done in New York for Jeremy Lin?

Apparently there are no guarantees that Knicks fans will get an encore performance from the mercurial point guard who took the NBA, and the global basketball world, by storm this season when he burst onto the scene.

Lin will be a restricted free agent this summer and according to his agent, Roger Montgomery, is not necessarily destined to sign with the Knicks, courtesy of the New York Post:

“I don’t expect that. We’re not anticipating that’s going to happen. We don’t have assurances of anything. I know history shows most restricted free agents go back to their team, but I’m not going to assume anything. We’re waiting to see what happens.”

Surely, those aren’t the words Knicks fans want to hear. Not after Knicks coach Mike Woodson declared at season’s end that Lin would be back. And certainly not after seeing the impact Lin had on their team when he was healthy, after helping them revive their season only to miss the playoffs with an injury.

(more…)

Knicks ‘Not Counting’ On Lin For Game 5





NEW YORK – The Knicks will have an update on Baron Davis later Monday, but it’s very safe to assume that Davis will not play again this season after suffering a dislocated patella in the third quarter of Sunday’s Game 4 at Madison Square Garden.

So now would be a great time for international sensation Jeremy Lin to return to action. Lin has been running up and down the floor in 3-on-3 games at the Knicks practice facility, and would be doing the same Monday and Tuesday before the Knicks travel to Miami for Game 5 on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, TNT). But Knicks coach Mike Woodson tempered expectations in a conference call with reporters Monday morning.

“I’m not counting Jeremy Lin playing,” Woodson said. “We’ve just got to continue where we’ve been, in terms of guys that are in uniform. And I’m not counting on him to play.”

Lin had surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee on Monday, April 2. At that time, the Knicks said he’d be out six weeks. And right now, we’re at the five-week mark. And as he did with Amar’e Stoudemire for Game 4, Woodson made it clear that the decision on Lin is out of his hands.

“I think it’s going to be up to the doctors and Jeremy to make that decision,” he said. “It won’t be my decision.”

(more…)

Can Chandler Impact Game 2?





MIAMI – Tyson Chandler isn’t feeling 100 percent, but he does feel better than he did on Saturday, when he managed to play just 21 ineffective minutes in Game 1 of the first round series between the Knicks and Heat.

“I feel better,” Chandler said before the Knicks’ shootaround Monday morning. “I don’t feel 100 percent, but I feel better.”

The Knicks will take what they can get after getting manhandled on both ends of the floor in Game 1. Chandler is arguably their most important player, the anchor of their top-five defense. And if he’s more of a presence on that end, they have a puncher’s chance in Game 2 (7 p.m. ET, TNT).

“I’m going to give it everything I got,” Chandler said. “I’m going to leave it all on the floor. Hopefully, I’ll have more energy to get my team going.”

Baron Davis, who is suffering from back pain and stiffness, said he’s “not close” to 100 percent. But he’s hopeful that he can play more than the 17 minutes he logged on Saturday. He kept the Knicks in the game early with 10 first-quarter points.

“We’ll see what happens,” Davis said. “I’ll play as hard as I possibly can, just try and stay loose on the sidelines, and just be ready when called upon. I don’t know what my minutes will look like. Hopefully, I can get us off to a good start and really have no setbacks during the game.” (more…)

Knicks Down One Game, Three Bodies





MIAMI – The New York Knicks are in a tough spot.

Not only are they losing their first round series with the Miami Heat after getting drubbed by 33 points in Game 1 on Saturday, but they’re also losing the war of attrition.

Rookie shooting guard (and part-time back-up point guard) Iman Shumpert tore the ACL in his left knee in the third quarter of Game 1. Jeremy Lin, still recovering from surgery on his left knee, is not close to returning. And Baron Davis, after a strong first quarter, couldn’t finish Game 1 because of stiffness in his back.

Most important though, is the status of Tyson Chandler, the Knicks’ defensive anchor. And it doesn’t look to good for Game 2 on Monday (7 p.m. ET, TNT).

After missing Friday’s practice with the flu, Chandler played 21 minutes in Game 1. But he was ineffective on both ends of the floor. And while his teammates were back at AmericanAirlines Arena for practice on Sunday, Chandler stayed at the team hotel.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson did not sound optimistic about Chandler’s status for Game 2.

“The fact that they’re still giving I.V. and things of that nature to him, he’s just barely hanging in there,” Woodson said, calling Chandler a game-time decision for Monday. “I don’t know what he’s going to feel like tomorrow. Hopefully, a miracle happens overnight and he’s ready to play.”

Davis said that his back stiffened up after a collision with Dwyane Wade and a couple of tough screens from the Heat. But he felt better on Sunday and plans to play in Game 2.

Still, the Knicks aren’t likely to get 48 minutes out of Davis and back-up Mike Bibby. Shumpert filled in at point guard in those minutes that the real point guards weren’t in the game. So on Monday, Woodson will need to find someone else to bring the ball up the floor. And that might have to be Carmelo Anthony.

This is all a bit reminiscent of last year, when the Knicks lost Chauncey Billups to a knee injury in Game 1 of their first round series with the Celtics. And then Amar’e Stoudemire injured his back in warmups before Game 2.

“It’s tough, but I’m not one to make excuses,” Woodson said. “We’re going to have to play.”

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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.