Posts Tagged ‘Bryan Colangelo’

Everybody Wins On Trade Night


ATLANTA — The aftermath of draft night and the night of a big trade in the NBA involve similar routines for the executives whose fingerprints are all over the selections and deals. Study your own handiwork hard enough and it becomes easier with each passing second to justify whatever was done in the name of the greater good.

That’s also why front office types are fond of this theory that you can’t just judge draft picks or trades on the spot. They both require a little extra time before being examined.

But that’s only in the insulated world of said front office types, the men whose jobs are on the line each and every time a draft pick busts or a prized acquisition doesn’t live up to the hype.

If you let the men in charge of sealing the multiple player, three-team deal between the Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons Wednesday night, they’ll swear under oath that the deal provided all interested parties with exactly what they were looking for.

Raptors general manager Bryant Colangelo (in the video above and here) has coveted Gay since the 2006 Draft, when the Raptors selected Andrea Bargnani with the No. 1 overall pick, the same Bargnani they are also trying to deal before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.

Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace gushed about veteran forward Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye, acquired from Detroit, and promising young big man Ed Davis snagged from Toronto:

“We are excited to add three players who bring with them a tremendous amount of value to our team and have achieved incredible success on the pro, college and Olympic levels,” Wallace said in a statement. “In these players, we welcome NBA Champion and Olympic gold medalist Tayshaun Prince, as well as up-and-coming athletic forwards Ed Davis, who won an NCAA title at North Carolina, and Austin Daye.”

Pistons boss Joe Dumars was just as effusive in his praise of Jose Calderon, the veteran point guard with the expiring contract who relocates from Toronto to Detroit with his coveted expiring ($10.5 million this season) contract:

“We are pleased to welcome Jose Calderon, knowing that he fits our mold as a high character individual who is a great competitor,” Dumars said in his statement. “Jose is a great facilitator at the guard position and a player that we feel gives us tremendous flexibility on the court when added to the core of guards we have on the roster.”

The flexibility for the Pistons will come this summer in the form of the projected $35 million and change in cap space they’ll have to work with this summer in free agency (and trades). Prince’s departure also means all of the players who toiled on the Pistons’ last championship team have finally exited the premises, closing the door on one era and perhaps opening the door for another in a few months.

And in that regard, all three of these teams can and will walk away claiming victory.

The Raptors got their man in Gay, 26, a dynamic wing player from a Western Conference contender whose contract (two years and $37 million after this season) forced the Grizzlies’ financial hand more than anything. Gay is hardly the only member of the top 20 salaries list who would not make your top 20 players in the league list, but he’s far from a bust. He just hasn’t reached All-Star status (yet?).

In the Eastern Conference, the road back to respectability is often just the right player or two or one big summer away. On the other hand, the Grizzlies were forced to weigh the long-term sustainability of a salary structure that doesn’t support coming up short of the Western Conference finals.

They reduced their payroll with this deal and also shed some $6 million in payroll after completing a multiple-player deal with the Cavaliers last week. Prince, 32, whose best days in the league predate Twitter,  still pays immediate dividends with his experience and leadership. Davis provides a huge development chip for the future and Daye, the No. 15 pick in the 2009 Draft, serves as the wild card, depending on how he adjusts to his new city and new role.

But the question will linger well into early spring for the Grizzlies: did they move up a spot on the Western Conference food chain, stay the same or take a step back by breaking up their promising (but expensive) core four of Gay, All-Star power forward Zach Randolph, former All-NBA center Marc Gasol and point guard Mike Conley?

“The Thunder, Clippers and Spurs are loving this deal,” an Eastern Conference assistant general manager said late Wednesday night. “Rudy would have been someone they had to worry about if they saw Memphis in the playoffs. Tayshaun was a great piece in his prime. But he hasn’t been that guy for a few years now. The big winners in this deal are the Thunder, Clippers and Spurs.”

Perhaps it’s best to give the final word to a man whose statistical value has often paled in comparison to some of the other, tougher to quantify benefits he brings to his own particular situation …


Who’s Sitting On A Hot Seat Now?

HANG TIME, Texas — Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.

In the NBA that familiar line from the holiday classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” has a different twist.

Every time the bell rings a head coach gets his walking papers and a handful of others start looking over their shoulders.

It’s a tenuous life.

Of course, this season has already been quite unusual with Mike Brown fired by the Lakers after just five games. But now that the schedule has reached the one-third mark and claimed Avery Johnson, it’s time to look at some others down around the bottom of the standings.

Randy Wittman, Wizards (3-23) — No, he hasn’t had John Wall all season. Yes, he’s had to play at times without Nene and Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal. But the Wizards are the only group in Washington that makes Congress look competent by comparison. After a recent 100-68 thumping by the almost-as-hapless Pistons, even Wittman seemed to have enough. “That was an embarrassment, and I apologize to our ownership and to our fans,” he said. “I especially apologize to anyone who watched that entire game. I would have turned it off after the first five minutes.” It would seem to be a matter of when, not if.

Monty Williams, Hornets (6-22) — It’s hard to see the Hornets turning right around and cutting Williams loose just months after giving him a four-year contract extension. There has been the matter of Eric Gordon’s injury and the fact that No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis was on the shelf for 13 games. But there are rumblings in New Orleans about his constantly changing rotations and collapse of his defense, which ranks 29th.

Byron Scott, Cavaliers (7-23)
— The Cavs are likely headed to their third straight trip to the lottery under Scott, but that doesn’t mean that he’s headed to the exit. The key to his previous success at New Jersey and New Orleans was having a top-notch point guard and Scott has an excellent relationship with maybe the next great thing in Kyrie Irving. This was always a long, heavy lift from the moment LeBron James bolted and that has not changed.

Mike Dunlap, Bobcats (7-21)
— What a difference a month makes. After beating the Wizards on Nov. 24, the Bobcats were 7-5, had matched their win total from last season and their rookie coach was getting praised. Now 16 straight losses later, Dunlap is preaching patience with his young core of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker, Byron Mullens and Jeffery Taylor. He has earned that. A dozen of Charlotte’s 21 losses have come by 10 points or less, a dramatic change from the historically horrible last season when the Bobcats were rolled in one-third of their games by 20 points or more.

Lawrence Frank, Pistons (9-22)
— Frank insists that his Pistons are a better team than they were a year ago. The record — identical then and now — does not back that up. He says that his club now is more competitive, but just doesn’t know how to finish games. Some of the players have grumbled that there is also a failure of coach to make the right calls and adjustments when games get late. When push comes to shove, it’s the coach that gets nudged out the door.

Dwane Casey, Raptors (9-20)— Another one of those seasons when the Raptors were supposed to turn things around and make a push for the playoffs in the lesser Eastern Conference has gone south. Injuries to Andrea Bargnani, Kyle Lowry and Linas Kleiza. Amir Johnson gets suspended for throwing his mouthguard at a referee. G.M. Bryan Colangelo says the talent is there, but the Raptors lack focus and attention to detail. The Raps’ offense is mediocre (ranked 17th) and their defense just bad (27th). Even in Canada during the winter, that all puts Casey on thin ice.

Keith Smart, Kings (9-19) — Smart got the job to replace Paul Westphal specifically because of what was perceived as an ability to work with the mercurial DeMarcus Cousins. So he turned Cousins loose last season, let him do just about anything he pleased and got enough results to earn a contract extension. Now that Cousins has abused his free-rein relationship with his coach and another season is sinking fast, it would be easy to just blame Smart, which the Kings eventually will do. But this is a bad team with a knucklehead as its centerpiece and ownership that can’t tell you where they’ll be playing in two years.

Alvin Gentry, Suns (11-18) — It was at the end of a seven-game losing streak when Suns owner Robert Sarver told that Gentry’s job was safe. “We’ve got confidence in our coaching staff and we’re not considering making changes,” he said. Of course, that usually means start packing your bags. It was all about starting over in this first season post-Nash in the desert. He’s changed lineups more than his ties and the result is usually the same. Gentry is a good bet to last out the season, but it’s probably going to take a big finishing kick to return next year.

Want A Pau Gasol Trade? Be Patient

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — If you’re waiting on Pau Gasol in Minnesota or Toronto (or anywhere else, really), you’ll need to be patient.

While the All-Star big man continues to look like a bad fit with Mike D’Antoni‘s Lakers, L.A. brass is willing to wait to see how things work out after Steve Nash returns from his leg injury, as our David Aldridge reports in the video above.

“Right now,” DA says, “nothing’s happening with regard to Pau Gasol.”

That doesn’t mean that folks around the league can’t talk about the possibilities, of course. And it’s not like the NBA’s other general managers can’t gauge Mitch Kupchak‘s interest in their players until Nash is cleared to play.

Toronto fans are probably the most desperate for a shake-up. Their team is 4-15 and Andrea Bargnani is shooting 40 percent. Using an adjusted strength-of-schedule formula that takes home-away and back-to-backs into account, the Raps have played the league’s toughest schedule thus far. But they still have three more games on their current five-game trip and 4-15 is never an easy hole to climb out of, no matter what the circumstances are.

Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes that rumors are just that, and Bryan Colangelo is always going to see what’s available:

The merits of a Gasol-Bargnani swap can be debated until the cows come home — and it would have to be a significantly bigger trade anyway to make the salaries match — but it speaks to general managers doing what they should: Try to make their teams better, in their opinion.

But it’s often the chatter that goes on behind the scenes that yields action; if things get to the public stage it often means one side is trying to change the opinion of the other by applying some public pressure.

There is no doubt that Colangelo, and his Los Angeles counterpart Mitch Kupchak, are tying their level best to improve their teams. If they chatted about Bargnani and Gasol, you can be sure they talked to several other teams as well.

And when those talks get to the public stage, another flurry of interest will follow. And when either makes a trade no one saw coming, it will be reality.

Meanwhile, Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes that there’s certainly some validity to the Wolves’ interest in Gasol:

Make no mistake: Adelman has been driving the bus on personnel moves since last summer and the Wolves’ continued interest in a 32-year-old with knee tendinitis and an $18 million salary means Adelman approves of the idea, if he’s not outright pushing for it.

Any such deal would have to include Derrick Williams, Nikola Pekovic as well as J.J. Barea and/or Luke Ridnour just so the Wolves could give back enough salary to absorb Gasol’s big contract.

And it might very well have to involve a third or fourth team to make the deal work because the Lakers, if they do indeed trade Gasol, want a power forward who can shoot — a “stretch 4” — to put next to Dwight Howard and have other preferred targets in sight such as Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani or New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson rather than Williams, who indeed is a stretch 4, just not a very consistent one so far.

Gasol’s contract (he’s owed $19 million this season and $19.3 million next season) would make any trade difficult to pull off, but bigger contracts have been moved and there seems to be interest around the NBA in one of the league’s most talented big men.

Still, the Lakers want first to see what they’ve got when D’Antoni is able to coach all four of his star players together. Furthermore, we’ll have to wait until Jan. 15 before some players who signed new contracts this summer are trade eligible.

So hold off on the trade talk for now.

Nash Was Almost … A Raptor?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Surely, this news won’t make anyone in Canada feel better about it now. And there is nothing worse in free agency than “almost” nabbing the huge star that could change the fate of a franchise. But if it makes you feel any better Toronto, Steve Nash was almost … a Raptor.

That homecoming dance would have been off the charts, of course — Canada’s beloved two-time MVP returning to his roots and carrying the banner for a Raptors team trying to navigate its way back to postseason relevance.

How close was it to happening? Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun made the trip to Los Angeles to find out:

In an interview with QMI Agency last week, Nash confirmed he was on the verge of signing a deal with the Raptors. GM Bryan Colangelo reportedly offered the Victoria, B.C., product a three-year, $36-million contract — close to $10 million more than he received from the Lakers.

“I was very close, you know,” Nash said. “Because it appeared that they were going to be an option long before free agency started. So I got my head around that and I was comfortable with that and happy with the opportunity to play in Toronto. But when this opportunity (with the Lakers) became a reality, I couldn’t pass it up.”


It’s Business, Not Personal, For Raptors

Free agency can get awfully personal, when in reality it is nothing more, nothing less than the business of professional sports thrust awkwardly into the spotlight normally reserved for highlights and victories.

When a coveted athlete chooses one team over another, it typically means he sees better a earning potential and championship path (which often translate into dollars, too) with the former rather than the latter. Sometimes sunshine or nightlife plays a role, but most of the time, for most of the guys, the factors that matter most are money and rings.

That doesn’t stop it from hurting, of course, for fans of a spurned team — “spurned” is a very personal word, by the way — when a player they like heads elsewhere. That certainly didn’t stop it from hurting for Toronto Raptors fans when Steve Nash, the best NBA player Canada ever has produced, declined their team’s more lucrative offer to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.

It wasn’t about money for Nash, but it was about the pursuit of a title. That figures to be more legit in L.A. than Toronto over what probably will be the final three seasons of the 38-year-old point guard’s career. That truth wasn’t what Raptors fans reacted to initially, when the disappointment hit Thursday, but it’s where they need to be now and it’s where a lot of their media insiders already are. Such as Doug Smith, dean of the Raptors’ beat for the Toronto Star:

 It’s not a repudiation of Canada — that’s so trite it should be dismissed out of hand; it’s not a repudiation of Toronto — 100 NBA free agents given the choice of the Lakers team and this Raptors team would take this Lakers team 100 times; if anything, it’s a repudiation of a team that’s been out of the playoffs for four years and needs to get closer to respectability before it can make a bold move like this.


Whoa, Canada! Raptors ‘Lose’ Nash

So now the Canadians can’t even recruit “Captain Canada.”

If it helps at all on what otherwise will rank as one of the darkest, kicked-in-the-groin days in Toronto Raptors’ history, followers of that franchise should know that Steve Nash never seriously has considered playing for Cape Town, Soweto, Egoli or any of the other teams in the Premier Inland League in South Africa. Remember, the guy was born in Johannesburg, so if any basketball teams should feel snubbed by a native son, it’s the folks down there.

Not helping? Yeah, didn’t think so.

Nash grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, attended and played at St. Michaels University School there before heading to Santa Clara (Calif.) University. As a player, he helped Canada advance within one victory of the medal round of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. In May, Nash agreed to become general manager of the men’s senior team for Canada Basketball.

The news conference for that move was held in Toronto, and it will remain the lone news conference for Nash in that city this offseason. The aging-but-still-incredibly-fit point guard won’t be playing for the Raptors in 2012-13, instead working out a sign-and-trade deal that delivers him to the Los Angeles Lakers. He won’t be doing a “Wayne Gretzky in reverse” by bringing his skills, fame and knack for public relations to the Great White North the way the Great One re-planted the NHL’s flag in the U.S.

Lots of fans and those close to the Raptors are awfully upset by this turnabout. Some even have accused Nash of “using” Toronto and the New York Knicks as leverage, as if landing a deal worth $25 million over three years rather than $36 million (Toronto’s offer) demonstrates any boardroom ruthlessness. Knicks fans feel snubbed, too, though at least their team isn’t the one (yet) locked into a $20 million offer sheet to Landry Fields, an ill-advised Raptors move to entice Nash.


O Canada! Toronto Raptors Raise The Stakes For Nash, Offer 3-year Deal

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If you thought three years and $34 million was too much for the Boston Celtics to offer Kevin Garnett at 36, you’re going to cringe at what the Toronto Raptors are reportedly offering Steve Nash, 38, to return home to his native Canada to continue his career.

But if you feel the way we do about both of these NBA elder statesmen, the three years and $36 million the Raptors put on the table to Nash, per‘s Marc Stein, is right on the money for a player that could make the Raptors a factor in the Eastern Conference playoff chase as well as revive a franchise.

The Raptors are just one of several teams believed to be in the running for Nash, who is also being courted in free agency by the Suns, Mavericks and Nets. But they are the only one of the four capable of offering the two-time MVP the chance to come home and put more than just his face on Canadian basketball for generations of fans both old and young.

Nash playing for the home team would cause havoc, the good kind, for the Raptors. He would also be reunited with Raptors boss Bryan Colangelo, who as an executive in Phoenix years ago acquired Nash in free agency and set him on the path to those two MVPs.


Some Thoughts On The End of Chicago’s Pre-Draft Camp

CHICAGO – Downtown to O’Hare at 6:15 p.m. on a Friday? No problem.

So, quickly, a few thoughts as the two-day pre-draft camp ends at the University of Illinois Chicago…

  • Dion Waiterswithdrew from the combine after the first day, a move that essentially confirms unusually candid statements from at least one opposing executive that the Syracuse shooting guard has received a draft promise and will be cancelling future workouts.It is not known which team (apparently) gave Waiters the completely unenforceable verbal agreement in exchange for the completely unenforceable verbal agreement to call off whatever showcases had been scheduled. But with Waiters bound for the lottery anyway and climbing the board as June 28 approaches, logic dictates it would be someone in the 5-to-10 range. He would be foolish to give up the chance to reach mid-lottery for a promise from a team in double digits.Raptors president Bryan Colangelo told the Toronto Star that “His agent has told me there’s a promise to another team,” which is more public candor than normal from an executive or agent on the topic. And as Colangelo noted as well, Toronto, or anyone could still take Waiters. Just as the team that gave Waiters the promise could conveniently forget the handshake arrangement on draft night if another player is unexpectedly available.
  • There is a good chance the Trail Blazers will wait until after the draft to hire a new coach or remove the interim tag from Kaleb Canales.Indications are that general manager Neil Olshey, hired Monday, is more open to keep both lottery picks and build for the future in contrast to the previous plan that seemed to lean toward trading No. 6 and/or No. 11 for immediate help in win-now mode around LaMarcus Aldridge. The new Portland management team, wanting the roster to help dictate the coach, is more likely to see the direction of the team before deciding whether to go with an assistant in line for a first job or an experienced hand.


Hump Day Morning Trade Chatter

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Brook Lopez is definitely back. He put on an offensive show for the Nets last night in their win over the Mavericks.

A trade deadline cynic would argue that he was being showcased as well. He’s long been rumored to be the piece the Nets would have to deliver to the Magic in a potential blockbuster deal for Dwight Howard.

The broken right foot that cost Lopez 32 games this season appears to be in fine shape, he dropped 38 points and the go-ahead free throw to power the Nets over the Mavericks last night. His every move will be analyzed as the perfect bait for the Magic, who have to make a decision to either deal or not deal Howard before the March 15 deadline.

Deron Williams gushed about his current big man after the win over the Mavs, telling reporters:

“He was a monster tonight. He carried us from the start of the game and it makes a difference, I’ve said it all season. … He knows how to play the game and we’re glad to have him back.”

Williams has to be measured in his praise. And the Nets have to be careful with Lopez, who outside of his ability score, isn’t in Howard’s category in any way. If they see him play at a high level for long enough, they might start to rethink this notion of moving him for Howard or anyone else.

Still, you can’t argue that Lopez has great timing. The Nets have won three of their last five games, and that includes wins over the Bulls, Knicks and now, the reigning champs.


Go ahead and add Timberwolves’ forward Michael Beasley to the list of players being showcased as the trade deadline draws near. So what if he’s still coming off the bench.

Rookie Derrick Williams and Beasley dropped 27 points a piece as the Timberwolves knocked off the Clippers in Los Angeles. They’ve both been overshadowed this season by All-Star power forward Kevin Love and rookie sensation Ricky Rubio. But with rumors swirling about the Timerbwolves hoping to get involved in a potential deal for Lakers forward Pau Gasol, Beasley would have to be a part of that deal.


Comings And Goings At All-Star Break

The All-Star Game is about the stars, of course, but the All-Star break is about shooting stars, going in opposite directions. Once again, we see teams, players, coaches and general managers either enjoying a surge or suffering from stagnation.

Therefore, he’s a quick look at who’s going up and down heading into the break.

On the rise

* The Knicks: Forget the loss at home to the Nets; the Knicks have time to work on their chemistry issues and enter the playoffs (yes, they’re going) as an intriguing team. It’s all due, of course, to Jeremy Lin, the discovery of the decade, although now we’ll see how Carmelo Anthony gets with the program.

* Tony Parker’s Hall of Fame credentials. Seriously, he’ll have to be considered for Springfield someday. He has a few championships, a Finals MVP, All-Star appearances (including one this weekend), remarkable career consistency across the board and is enjoying a fine season (20 points, eight assists). Plus he’s only 29. Seems like he’s been around forever, but then, star players are like that. (more…)