Posts Tagged ‘David Aldridge’

LeBron fatigue … it’s real!




VIDEO: LeBron James and Jimmy Butler get tangled up on the baseline Sunday

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Like most anyone with eyeballs and a remote control, I took in the career-high 61-point performance from LeBron James and wondered if the energy and effort expended on a night like that was worth the wear and tear it takes to deliver it.

A week and four interesting performances later, I’m still not sure.

My Monday sparring partner on almost every debatable topic — NBA TV research ace Kevin Cottrell, who usually helps me make a mess of our production meetings for The Beat with Vince Cellini, David Aldridge and yours truly every Monday on NBA TV — did what you’d expect a research expert to do with the topic. He dug even deeper and formulated an interesting theory on a phenomenon we’ll call LeBron Fatigue … turns out it might actually be real:

Statistically speaking, LeBron James is on track to become one of the greatest players to ever play in the NBA. However, his most recent stretch of games are troubling.

After scoring a career-high 61 points against the Charlotte Bobcats, LeBron scored a total of 58 in the following three games. For many players, 19.3 ppg would be their best week ever. For LeBron, it was a cause for panic, a shedding of the face mask and complaining of a wardrobe malfunction. Worst of all, that average coincided with a season-high three-game losing streak.

61 point Game vs 3 Game Slump

vs Bobcats​          Next 3 Games

61        POINTS      58

22/33      FG           23/59*

8/10       3P            1/9

*3-for-27 FG outside the paint

LeBron’s 3-for-27 shooting outside the paint is good for 11.1 percent, the worst three-game stretch of shooting (outside the paint) in his career. To be clear, it’s not the percentage that is cause for concern, but his unwillingness to get to the free-throw line.

In his last two games — against Chicago and Washington — LeBron did not attempt a free-throw, which had not taken place in back-to-back games since his rookie season. Furthermore, he’s only had 10 instances in which he did not attempt a free throw in his 824 game career.

LeBron is in search of many more rings and realistically speaking, Michael Jordan‘s six-ring total is obtainable. At the conclusion of his Bulls’ first three-peat, Jordan was 29 when he completed his ninth season (before retiring for 18 months) and winning three more. However, MJ did miss 64 games in his second season after breaking his foot. So there were resting periods prior to both his title runs.

James and the Heat have already appeared in three straight Finals. James, 28, concluded his 10th season having never missed more than six games in a season. The Miami Heat are trying to become the first team since the 1983-87 Celtics to reach four consecutive Finals, but it will be tough with a banged-up James. He’s battled back soreness and, most recently, a broken nose.

Will this maintenance plan cost him the MVP award? Maybe, but there was no guarantee he’d win it anyway. Besides the Heat rely on LeBron to be their best scorer, rebounder and passer not to mention their best defender on a nightly basis. Remember, Jordan had Scottie Pippen to defend the opposition’s best player, the Heat will rely on LBJ to shut down the Pacers’ Paul George. On Monday, Miami clinched a playoff berth defeating the Wizards 99-90. That’s the first step in winning a third straight title.

So rest up LeBron, you have enough MVP awards and regular-season feats. Years from now, we won’t discuss how you came out of a three-game midseason slump, but how you did (or didn’t) win three consecutive titles.



VIDEO: LeBron and the Heat shake off their funk and clinch a playoff bid with a win over the Wizards

Danger rears its head for OKC, Indy




VIDEO: The Beat crew talks about the concerns facing some of the league’s elite teams

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – That small market NBA Finals you were daydreaming about is in jeopardy based on what we’ve seen from the likes of the Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder and even the Portland Trail Blazers recently.

Early-season visions of say the Pacers and Thunder squaring off in The Finals and restoring the faith of the fans in the hinterlands have faded since before All-Star weekend.

The Pacers’ struggles are real. You don’t lose four straight games, and five of your last 10, and allow 106 points in your past four games and maintain your aura as the defensive juggernaut that we assumed you were based on your work up until now. No matter how much coach Frank Vogel insists that his team is capable of navigating these bumps in the road, we have no idea how they will recover from this stretch because they’ve never been in this position before.

The Thunder’s issues are tangible as well. You don’t lose five of your past eight games, give up 121 points in consecutive games and get torched for 40-point games by the likes of Gerald Green and Jodie Meeks without two of your top defensive players (Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins) and expect us to just chalk it up to a temporary hiccup. Even if all that happens as Russell Westbrook is transitioning back into the mix after missing nine weeks recovering from knee surgery.

Contenders tend to show their teeth this time of year, embrace statement games and remind the competition that what they see now is merely a glimpse of the fury to come in the postseason. But these current struggles, particularly for the Pacers and Thunder, constitute a clear-and-present danger to their big-picture plans.

We are nit-picking at the highest level here, I understand that. But vetting championship contenders is a tedious, season-long process that requires us to examine each and every little tidbit of information gathered. While I don’t agree with the wilder sentiments like this one (of course, the Thunder aren’t trying to get Scott Brooks fired), I do think a contender’s February and March performance is a much better indicator of what’s to come in the playoffs than anything accomplished before then.

And the Pacers and Thunder, two teams that would appear to have as good a chance as any to unseat the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, respectively, have both shown signs of vulnerability in the past few days and weeks.

In addition to locating their defensive punch, the Pacers need Paul George to regain the form he showed earlier in the season, when he was being mentioned in the MVP conversation with Kevin Durant and LeBron James. The playoffs are looming and a quality team like the Chicago Bulls will identify your weakness and attack it in a best-of-7 series … the same way the Pacers did to the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals last year.

UPDATE:



VIDEO: Pacers coach Frank Vovel talks about Andrew Bynum maing his debut against the Celtics

The Thunder have to worry as much about getting their own house in order as they have to worry about the neighbors. The Spurs, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers all appear to be as up to the task of winning the Western Conference crown and representing their side in The Finals.

The Spurs have enough corporate knowledge to navigate these rough waters for a second straight season. The Rockets have two stars in James Harden and Dwight Howard, who have just as much experience in The Finals as Durant and Westbrook. And the Clippers, when healthy, have what is arguably the deepest and most balanced roster in the league with one of the game’s best button-pushers (coach Doc Rivers), especially at playoff time, leading their charge.

Momentary hiccups are one thing. All teams, even the great ones, deal with them at one time or another.

Cracks in the foundation, though, require more and immediate attention.

Time will tell which of these the Pacers and Thunder are dealing with …

Wolves, Wizards On Different Paths




VIDEO: Kevin Love is all smiles after a win over Cleveland

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In an effort to soften the blow, we put our sunglasses on when scanning back at our preseason predictions for this season.

There are so many hits and misses, it helps to have a little shade to work with for the ugly misses. For every prediction we hit out of the park (thank you Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves), there is a prediction that seems to go horribly wrong (there’s that mess in Cleveland and, of course, that wobbly start from John Wall and the Washington Wizards).

The BluBlockers are needed for tonight’s Timberwolves-Wizards matchup tonight in D.C. (7 p.m. ET, League Pass), a duel between teams on very different paths early on this season. Both teams are loaded with young talent and have quality depth. But the results have been vastly different for the two teams that are inextricably linked — Wizards coach Randy Wittman used to be Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman while the boss in Minnesota, Flip Saunders, once coached the Wizards.

While Wall and the Wizards have struggled to an ugly 2-7 start, including their current four-game losing streak, Love and the Timberwolves have shown themselves to be an exciting and aggressive crew.

At 7-4, the Wolves are living up to all of the hype, internal and otherwise. Love, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic, J.J. Barea and Co. have managed to take on heightened expectations and handle them appropriately. Throw in that Chase Budinger is back and practicing with the team and Minnesota is looking even better.

Love is in the MVP mix, coach Rick Adelman‘s got his supporting cast thriving and the roster’s balance and depth is finally paying dividends. The Wolves are in the midst of back-to-back grueling stretches of five games in seven nights, a mettle-testing, early-season grind that will could serve them well months from now.

Tonight’s game kicks off a monster week that will see Adelman’s team face off against the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night at home and the Brooklyn Nets Friday at the Target Center. Then comes a road date in Houston with the Rockets on Saturday and they’ll finish this stretch up in Indiana on Nov. 25.

Happy Thanksgiving!

“I don’t know if [the league schedule-makers] know that we’re almost to Canada and Houston’s almost all the way to Mexico,” Adelman told reporters Monday.

When your team is top three in the league in scoring and set to get another boost whenever Budinger returns to the rotation, none of the teams you are blindsiding will grant you any sympathy.

The Wizards, meanwhile, could use a little sympathy … and anything else they can get right now. When their owner, Ted Leonsis, used every opportunity in the lead up to the season to tout his team as a legitimate playoff contender in the East, he surely did not envision this humbling start.

Signing Wall to an $80 million maximum contract extension in August was supposed to be a sign of the commitment Leonsis was making not only to the young face of the franchise, but to the future. Wall was not only going to be the change agent for the Wizards on the court, his extension was also supposed to serve as the symbolic change in the way the Wizards did business going forward.

Veterans would see that the organization was serious about putting the resources in the right places and taking that next step from playoff pretender to contender. But it didn’t take long for reality to set in. As sound as the plan looked on paper, the Wizards simply didn’t have the right mix.

As talented as Wall and his backcourt mate, Bradley Beal one of a handful of early candidates for the league’s Most Improved Player award — surely are, something is still missing.

As my The Beat colleague and TNT’s own David Aldridge pointed out in The Morning Tip, Wall does not shoulder the burden of the Wizards’ slow start on his own. They’re not the same defensive monster they were a year ago, not with Marcin Gortat taking Emeka Okafor‘s place in the lineup.

A top-10 defensive unit last season, the Wizards are now a top-10 scoring team but falling woefully short on the defensive side. As DA pointed out, the slightest tweak to the Wizards’ rotation and chemistry has altered the product on the floor dramatically:

Nene, whose antipathy for banging in the post was well-known, was especially good with Okafor. The quintet of Nene, Okafor, Martell Webster, Bradley Beal and Wall was one of the league’s best defensive fivesomes last year. It’s not that Gortat is a horrible defender. He tries. But opponents, according to the league’s player tracking stats, are shooting 56.7 percent against him on shots at the rim. (By comparison, opponents are shooting 31.4 and 31.5 percent, respectively, on shots at the rim against New Orleans’ Anthony Davis and Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez.)

“March has done a good job for us,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said Saturday. “No question, ‘Mek was solid back there for us, the last line of defense for us, with his basketball knowledge. I think what March brings, though, is that big guy who can challenge at the rim. He’s also got a very good IQ. Defense is a matter of getting your knees dirty each and every night. It’s not a fun thing, but it’s a valuable thing. That’s where we have to get back to, understanding how valuable that is for us to be a good team.”

A good team?

How about a playoff team?

After all, that’s what we all predicted for the ‘Wolves and Wizards this season. But as of right now only one of these teams is living up to that expectation.

Aldridge: Ellis Mulling Free Agent Offers From Kings, Hawks, Mavs

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Milwaukee Bucks free agent guard Monta Ellis is currently deciding between offers from the Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks, according to a league source.
Ellis is intrigued by the Kings, according to the source. Sacramento will have to move one of its existing guards first, however, to be able to get Ellis, a career 19-point per game scorer and one of the last major free agents left on the market that hasn’t yet agreed to terms with a new or current team.

Sacramento agreed to acquire Bucks forward Luc Mbah a Moute Tuesday for two future second-round picks, according to league sources. It’s not clear if getting Mbah a Moute, who is scheduled to make $4.58 million next season, would prohibit the Kings from being able to make a run at Ellis.

The Mavericks would almost certainly have to find a trade partner for forward Shawn Marion and his expiring $9.3 million contract to be able to create enough cap room to sign Ellis. Dallas agreed last week on a four-year, $29 million deal for free agent point guard Jose Calderon, and also have deals for veteran Devin Harris and Israeli point guard Gal Mekel. But the Mavericks need a two guard.

Sources confirmed an ESPN.com report that the Bucks are looking to acquire point guard Jeff Teague from the Hawks, who played last season for Milwaukee’s new coach, Larry Drew. If Atlanta can pull that deal off, Ellis could come in and play point guard for the Hawks next season. The Hawks have agreed to re-sign free agent guard Kyle Korver, and reached agreement last Friday on a two-year, $19.2 million deal for Jazz free agent forward Paul Millsap. Ellis opted out of the final year of his six-year, $66 million contract last month, which would have paid him $11 million for the upcoming season.

The Chicago Bulls also were very interested in Ellis, but couldn’t figure out a way to swing a deal with Milwaukee without giving up one of their core pieces, including forward Taj Gibson. The Bulls are convinced a return to health from their key players, notably 2011 league MVP Derrick Rose, will get them back to the top of the Eastern Conference next season. Chicago agreed to terms last week with free agent forward Mike Dunleavy, Jr.

The Nuggets, another team that has interest in Ellis, are likely to create a $12 million cap exception after completing a sign-and-trade deal with Golden State for forward Andre Iguodala. But Denver is not currently among the teams making the biggest play for Ellis.

The 27-year-old Ellis averaged 19.2 points per game last season for the Bucks, who were the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and were swept by the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. After agreeing to sign guard O.J. Mayo when the NBA moratorium on contract signings ends Wednesday, the Bucks are also likely to lose their other starting guard from last season, restricted free agent Brandon Jennings.

Howard To Houston Is A Two-Fisted Gut Punch For Mavs

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – If the Los Angeles Lakers recoiled at the sobering prospect of dealing Dwight Howard to an already rising divisional foe, imagine the steam clouds that spewed from the ears of Mark Cuban as if his head was an erupting Mount Vesuvius when he learned the big man had agreed to join the aspiring Houston Rockets.

Cuban seemed to take the news in stride Friday afternoon when the Dallas Mavericks’ owner was notified that his team was out of the running for the summer’s most coveted free agent. At the time, he said he was not told with which team Howard would sign.

“Got word we are out of the DH sweepstakes,” Cuban wrote in an email to various media outlets. “We gave it a shot and it didn’t work out. It was truly an experience. At some point I will post our video and presentation we made.”

The Rockets, Golden State Warriors and the incumbent Los Angeles Lakers remained in play. But only a short time later, USA Today, followed by TNT’s David Aldridge confirmed that Howard will leave the Lakers and join the Mavs’ Southwest division rival.

This one will deeply burn the Mavs, now two-time losers trying to lure a big-name free agent to pair with a now 35-year-old Dirk Nowitzki.

All the while Cuban controversially, yet strategically was dismantling his 2011 championship club in anticipation of re-building a contender by creating cap space to lure a superstar (or two) under the guidelines of the new collective bargaining agreement, his in-division, in-state rival in southeast Texas was scheming just the same.

Daryl Morey, the gambling Houston Rockets’ general manager, set in motion a number of trades and transactions over the last two years to ultimately acquire players, cap space and other assets that would position the Rockets to strike when opportunities arose, to swing for the fences through both trades and free agency.

The Rockets should give Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti a tip of the cap for making this behemoth agreement possible. Before the start of last season, the Thunder’s salary-cap-strapped GM dealt rising star James Harden to Houston as Morey dipped into his collection of assets. Harden became an All-Star and delivered the Rockets back into the playoffs. Now Morey has Howard, too, his longtime target.

Aside from the Lakers, who practically begged Howard to re-sign, no team will find this harder to swallow than Dallas. The scenario of Howard to Houston was always the Mavs’ worst nightmare, leaving the franchise third in pecking order in its own state behind the Rockets and the ever-resilient San Antonio Spurs.

The Warriors cleared out cap space Friday and added another top-flight free agent in Andre Iguodala – a Mavs target in the case they whiffed on Howard — to a young and talented roster that challenged the Spurs in the second round. Golden State won’t be too disappointed in not landing Howard. They were always a long-shot in this race and even without Howard they look to be putting together something special.

The Atlanta Hawks, flush with cap space, never seemed to elevate their hopes too high that Howard would reverse his long-held thinking and decide to play in his hometown. General manager Danny Ferry will now attempt to piece together the best team he possibly can for new coach Mike Budenholzer.

This was Strike Two for Dallas. A year ago, it chased native son Deron Williams, but was rebuffed. It signed a slew of players to one-year deals to keep their free-agent “powder dry” — as president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson is fond of saying — and to go after Howard or Chris Paul this summer.

Williams’ Nets now have the look of a contender after general manager Billy King pulled off the stunning trade that brings Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn. CP3 got Doc Rivers and is staying put and now the Rockets with Howard will vault into the top four or five in the West with Warriors, CP3′s Clippers, the Thunder and the reigning West champion Spurs.

And Houston might not be done. They have long been reported to seek Atlanta free agent power forward Josh Smith, a childhood buddy of Howard, who’s reluctance to join the Mavs leaves the franchise reeling. Two seasons ago they were swept out of the first round by the Thunder and this season failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons.

Nowitzki, understanding his years are numbered, has repeatedly called this a “big offseason for us.”

Yet on the roster at this moment with him is Shawn Marion, 35, Vince Carter, 36, two 2012 second-round draft picks Jae Crowder and Bernard James, plus 2013 first-round pick Shane Larkin and newly signed Israeli guard Gal Mekel. 

As Howard’s drama dragged on, Dallas missed out on other free-agent targets, most notable Iguodala. The Clippers re-signed role player Matt Barnes and on Thursday center Al Jefferson signed a lucrative deal with the Charlotte Bobcats.

So where do Cuban and the Mavs go from here?

Dallas, 41-41 last season with Nowitzki playing in only 53 games after preseason knee surgery, has glaring holes at point guard, shooting guard and center. They can seek a trade but possess few assets to entice a team into dealing a player of stature. They learned that quickly in reported talks with Boston for Rajon Rondo.

Cuban said after the season that he doesn’t want to go through another year of one-year contracts, preferring to find players that are core-worthy. Now he and Nelson must decide if, for instance, still available guards Monta Ellis, Mo Williams or Jarrett Jack are building-block players they want to commit years and dollars to at the risk of cutting into cap space for next summer. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and Zach Randolph, among others, could be on the market.

But the Mavs have twice seen what a crapshoot that strategy can be.

Nuggets’ Move On Karl A Major Gamble

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MIAMI – In the end, it was just the way the Nuggets do business.

Just as with their now former general manager Masai Ujiri, the Nuggets’ refusal to even contemplate a new contract for their now former coach, George Karl, led to their decision Thursday to fire Karl after nine seasons. And so, a team that was seeded third entering the Western Conference playoffs in late April, and which sported the reigning Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year, now has neither in the space of six weeks.

The ripple effects remain to be seen.

The Nuggets have to re-sign forward Andre Iguodala, for example, a free agent this summer. Asked Thursday how Karl’s ouster would affect his decision, Iguodala texted, “Good question. Need some time to let it sink in.”

The Nuggets’ 33-year-old president, Josh Kroenke, the son of team chairman Stan Kroenke, is taking a major gamble by firing Karl and his 1,131 career wins, which ranks six in the history of the league. Karl has gotten a lot of heat locally for the Nuggets’ inability to go very far in the postseason on his watch; though the team made the playoffs in each of his 10 seasons there, the Nuggets only advanced past the first round once, when Denver made the Western Conference finals in 2009.

But nationally, Karl remains highly respected, not only for his part in making the Nuggets a relevant NBA franchise again, but in how he has stoically dealt twice with bouts of cancer, the last of which caused him to miss most of the second half of the 2009-10 season and Denver’s first-round loss to Utah. It is hard to see, outside of somehow convincing Phil Jackson to come to the Mile High City, how Kroenke is going to find a better coach than Karl.

Karl kept winning while the Nuggets used the first half of the 2010-11 season working out a potential trade for Carmelo Anthony, the team’s superstar who wanted out. And after Denver moved Anthony to New York, the Nuggets kept winning—though, again, they did not get out of the first round that season.

This season, Karl won Coach of the Year honors after Denver posted a league-best 38-3 home record, and looked like a major contender in the west. The Nuggets had won a franchise-record 57 games this past season, but their first-round defeat at the hands of sixth-seeded Golden State shook the organization, and Karl never recovered.

Afterward, Denver simply would not discuss a new contract for Karl, who had a year remaining on his current contract and a series of one-year team options following that. The 62-year-old Karl, one of just one of eight coaches in NBA history with more than 1,000 victories, wanted the security of a new deal, especially with Ujiri, with whom he’d worked well the past two years and trusted, leaving last week for the Raptors’ GM job—and more than doubling his salary in the process.

The team had also been slow to reward Ujiri, viewed around the league as the driving force behind Denver getting such a huge haul for Anthony from the Knicks, skillfully pitting the Knicks and Nets against one another as their offers for Anthony increased.

Going forward, management was uncertain that Karl would accede to its increasingly urgent request to play some of the team’s younger players. Karl had opted to start rugged center Kosta Koufos this season instead of high-flying JaVale McGee, whom Karl did not believe was as consistent defensively as the less-regarded Koufos.

But the Nuggets had given McGee a four-year, $44 million extension last summer, and believed he was the team’s center of the future, having traded the veteran Nene to Washington in 2012 for McGee.

Karl was “pushing” for a new deal, a source said Thursday—“in his mind, not unreasonable. He felt he needed to have it. The uncertainty of Andre Iguodala, the uncertainty of when Gallo (forward Danilo Gallinari) would be back (from his ACL tear, suffered late last season). He felt like after 10 years of proving himself as a coach, he deserved it. They just didn’t feel that.”

Karl’s representatives and Nuggets management had been talking for weeks, including several discussions held during the Chicago pre-Draft camp in April. The more Karl pushed, the more “reluctant” the Nuggets became to discuss a new deal, the source said.

Josh Kroenke was up front with Karl. He told Karl he didn’t want to put him in the position of having to order him next season to play the young guys if management felt that was the way to go, knowing Karl would balk because going young would certainly impact his win-loss record. Yet management remained firm that it would not give Karl an extension.

“It came down to the point that they realized, if they couldn’t get anything done (with Karl), was there any point in going forward?,” the source said. “Josh was very direct, very honest. He was very, very clear every step of the way.”

But, in the end, Kroenke opted to clean house, leaving himself alone atop the team’s power structure—though he is not expected to take control of basketball operations, having just been named president of the NHL’s Avalanche as well; Stan Kroenke owns the Avalanche.

The Nuggets have already reached out to Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw, asking for permission to speak with him about their vacancy, according to CBSSports.com. Josh Kroenke is also a big supporter of his team’s assistant GM, Pete D’Alessandro, and may well elevate him to GM to replace Ujiri.

Aldridge: Chalmers Will Play Game 2 Despite Bruised Shoulder

NBA.com

Miami guard Mario Chalmers (bruised left shoulder) said today he expects to play in Friday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against Indiana, reports TNT Analyst David Aldridge. Chalmers suffered the injury when he ran into Pacers forward David West in the second half.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra indicated that Chalmers could have played in Game 1 after the injury.

‘Final’ Vote On Kings Comes Today



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The long wait is almost over … well, we think it might be over.

We could know before nightfall where the Kings will play in the future: Sacramento or Seattle.

The NBA’s Board of Governors meet today in Dallas with an expected final vote by all 30 owners on the Maloof family’s relocation proposal that would move the Kings from Sacramento to Seattle, where a group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer is set to purchase the franchise for a record price.

The formal recommendation two weeks ago from the committee of owners formed to study the relocation plan was a resounding vote for the Kings remaining in Sacramento. But the Maloofs have made it clear that their desire is to go with the Seattle group’s generous reported offer of $406.25 million and flee California’s capital city.

It’s not as simple as that, of course, what with the lawyers involved and the league waist-deep in a back and forth between two cities that are both desperate to keep a team, in Sacramento’s case, and regain a team, in Seattle’s case.

That’s the short version. The long version, in complete detail courtesy my main man, TNT’s David Aldridge, who is going to be on the scene in Dallas today, is much more complicated.

The Seattle group has covered all of its bases in trying to complete this deal. They’ve reached an agreement on that secondary deal, which they want enacted in the case that the Board of Governors reject the relocation proposal today.

That deal would include the Maloofs selling 20 percent of the Kings to the Hansen-led group for $120 million, and that’s based on a franchise valuation of $600 million. The Kings would stay in Sacramento for the 2013-14 season with the Maloofs as the owners. The Hansen group is also willing (and able) to pay an unprecedented $115 million relocation fee, a payout of approximately $4 million for every owner, if the owners allow them to purchase the Kings and move them to Seattle next season, raising the stakes yet again in this hundred million dollar exhibit in the business of basketball.

Sacramento Mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson is using the Kings’ history in Sacramento and the NBA’s loyalty to a fan base and city that has supported the Kings fervently, through good times and bad, as his trump card in this saga. The Sacramento group does not seem at all interested in some bidding war for the franchise that’s made it’s home there for last three decades.

Sort through the minutiae as best you can, but the bottom line is one set of fans will wake up tomorrow relieved that they finally have some answers about their team while another group of fans will wake up to the nightmare that their team is either leaving or not coming to town.

Again, the long wait is almost over … we think!

Sacramento Or Seattle? Committees Offer Up Recommendation On Monday

The NBA’s relocation and finance committees will have a conference call on Monday, April 29, and make a recommendation on whether to approve the sale of the Sacramento Kings to a Seattle-based group that would move the team there next season or to reject the sale and keep the team in Sacramento.

After the recommendation is officially delivered to the NBA, the league’s owners will have seven business days to contemplate what to do and to conduct a final vote. That would mean the league could have a final vote as early as Wednesday, May 8, though it does not mean they would vote that day.

The NBA’s Board of Governors did not take a vote on whether to allow the sale from the Maloof Family to a group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at its annual meeting earlier this month. The city of Sacramento, led by Mayor Kevin Johnson, has put together an ownership group led by software magnate Vivek Ranadive and 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov that has put in a bid to buy the team from the Maloofs and keep them in Sacramento.

Both cities have received local approval for building new arenas that would take some public funding as part of the construction costs. Owners on the committees wanted more information concerning the schedules each city has for constructing the building, as well as potential environmental and legal issues each city faces before construction can begin.

The Hansen group reached agreement with the Maloofs in January to purchase 65 percent of the team, on a franchise valuation of $525 million, equaling $341 million for the 65 percent, and gave a $30 million non-refundable deposit to the Maloofs. Earlier this month, after the Ranadive group made it clear to owners it would match the Hansen offer, Hansen announced his group would “voluntarily” raise its franchise valuation of the Kings to $550 million, meaning an additional $16.5 million would go to the Maloofs, for $357.5 million for 65 percent of the team.

The Ranadive group has matched the $525 million valuation, but has not yet opted to match the $550 million valuation. According to a letter released by the Maloofs earlier this month, the Ranadive group has pledged a $15 million non-refundable deposit.

The Maloofs have consistently told the league that they want to take the deal with the Hansen group. But Commissioner David Stern has been adamant that while the NBA generally allows owners to sell to whomever they like, the league will make the determination whether the Kings will be allowed to move.

A vote to approve a sale requires three-quarters of the league’s owners, or 23 of the 30. A vote to approve a franchise move requires a simple majority, or 16 of the league’s 30 owners.

Framework Of Brown-Cavs’ Deal In Place

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The framework of a deal that would reunite the Cleveland Cavaliers and their former coach, Mike Brown, is in place, according to league sources, though the two sides do not yet have a contract in place and there are several remaining issues that have to be resolved.

The Cavaliers have moved quickly after firing Byron Scott, who replaced Brown in Cleveland in 2010, last week. Owner Dan Gilbert met with Brown on Sunday for dinner and discussions have quickly picked up steam.

The two sides are still working out the structure of the contract. Brown is looking for a five-year deal; the team is currently offering four years. A fifth-year club option might be a potential compromise. Brown would also have to work out the offset he has with the Lakers, who still owe him $10 million after firing him five games into his second season as coach there.

Brown posted a 272-138 record in five seasons in Cleveland, building a team around LeBron James that got to the NBA Finals in 2007 and won 50 games or more four times. He was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2009. Criticized early in his tenure there for an unimaginative offense, Brown changed much of his offense, giving assistant coach John Kuester broad authority, and the Cavaliers became one of the NBA’s better offenses in Brown’s last two seasons there.

But the Cavaliers failed to reach The Finals in Brown’s last three years, including the 2008-09 season, when Cleveland went 66-16 in the regular season. The following year, the Cavaliers lost in especially ignominious fashion to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Soon afterward, Gilbert decided not to pick up Brown’s option, in what many believed was a desperate attempt to keep James from leaving via free agency. James, of course, did leave, for Miami.

The Akron Beacon-Journal first reported that a deal between the sides were close.

Cleveland’s current management team pushed to go after Brown after Scott’s outster. The Cavaliers were impressed with Brown’s ability to create a defensive structure while evolving on offense, and winning 127 regular season games his last two seasons in Cleveland — a mark that is just as good as James has had in Miami — without the presence of Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh.

The Cavs may also be moving quickly to keep Brown from the open market.

The Philadelphia 76ers are believed to have an interest in speaking with Brown about their coaching vacancy after Doug Collins announced he would not return as coach next season. The Detroit Pistons need a coach after firing Lawrence Frank last week, as do the Charlotte Bobcats, who fired Mike Dunlap on Tuesday after one season. There may also be openings soon in Brooklyn (P.J. Carlesimo), Milwaukee (Jim Boylan) and Sacramento (Keith Smart).

And speculation has run rampant throughout the league for months that the Atlanta Hawks — whose general manager, Danny Ferry, hired Brown in Cleveland in 2005 — would reach out to Brown at the end of their season. The Hawks’ current coach, Larry Drew, is in the final year of his contract, and the team opted to wait until after the season to decide what to do about his future status.