Posts Tagged ‘Eddy Curry’

Mavs’ Carlisle Rolls With Plan B, Revolving Roster

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DALLAS –
 Rick Carlisle earned his reputation as one of the game’s top coaches by bending, flexing and adjusting all the way to a six-game championship take-down of the Miami Heat in 2011.

Recall 5-foot-10 point guard J.J. Barea as an NBA Finals starting shooting guard?

The Dallas Mavericks have since gone 77-72 and haven’t won another playoff game. And despite a roster that’s read like a well-worn Rolodex, Carlisle has seemed only to enhance his image as an elite tactician and motivator. Carlisle’s agility will be put to the test again this season in guiding a team that again barely resembles the one that preceded it.

From the 2010-11 championship team only Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion remain. From the revamped squad insufficiently stocked to defend the title, add only Brandan Wright and Vince Carter as keepers. And from last season, add draft picks Jae Crowder and Bernard James. It’s doubtful any coach, especially one that won a ring with the same franchise just three Junes ago, has witnessed such roster upheaval in three consecutive offseasons, and particularly so in these back-to-back summers.

“Back-to-back, probably not,” Carlisle admitted. “But look, we’re living in a different time. We’re living in a time now where there’s going to be more one-year deals, there’s going to be more turnover, so everybody adjusts to the dynamics of the new CBA, and I don’t know that that’s going to happen for another year or two, at least. That said, if you’re going to be a head coach in this league you’ve got to be very open-minded, you’ve got to be open to change and adaptation. You always want continuity, but you’re not always going to have it.”

The Mavs suffered the indignity of a lockout and the ratification of a game-changing collective bargaining agreement on the heels of their championship parade. On the fly, owner Mark Cuban championed new roster-building strategies that entailed allowing key members of his title team to walk. Plan A, to create cap space and lure max-dollar free agents to crowbar Nowitzki’s championship window, hasn’t panned out and Dallas has instead scrambled the last two summers to produce competitive rosters.

That can be a disheartening road for a coach who is just one of four currently in the league with a ring. Carlisle, though, has consistently endorsed his boss’ decisions. Entering his sixth season in Dallas and the second year of his second four-year contract, Carlisle seems to embrace the challenges he inherits under Plan B. Of the four active championship coaches — including Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers, now in charge of the Clippers – Carlisle’s task is by far fraught with the most uncertainties.

“I just made a conscious decision that I’m not going to be a coach that’s limited to a certain system,” Carlisle said. “I’m hanging my hat on my ability to adapt each year to potentially a roster that’s quite different, and with the new CBA we’re going to have more of that in this league. I’ve done a lot of it in my career leading up to now anyway, so it’s always challenging in those situations, but it’s also exciting.”

Just look at the players that have come through Dallas since the lockout ended: Kalenna Azubuike, Yi Jianlian, Lamar Odom, Delonte WestSean Williams, Eddy Curry, Troy Murphy, Elton Brand, Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman, Jared Cunningham, Derek Fisher, Mike James, Dahntay Jones, Anthony Morrow, Chris Wright, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Justin Dentmon and Josh Akognon.

And here’s the players new to Dallas for this season: Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, Devin Harris, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, DeJuan Blair, Gal Mekel, plus draft picks Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo.

Last week Cuban set the bar for this team: The playoffs, and capable of doing damage once there. Carlisle didn’t flinch.

“I think you have to view it that way,” Carlisle said. “And, you’ve got to be careful. You’ve got to eliminate the external noise and the doubters and the naysayers and all that kind of stuff. You’ve got to have just a real positive enthusiasm and focus on your group, and you’ve got to see in your mind how they can get better. Then you’ve got to facilitate that.”

Among Dallas media, at least, Carlisle was hailed as a Coach of the Year candidate for guiding last season’s mismatched squad out of a 13-23 hole, one dug mostly without Nowitzki. Dallas finished 28-18 and was in the thick of the playoff chase almost until the end.

“Actually, I think Rick’s system is just very comprehensive and he lets the players pick up as much of it as they can and so I think rather than try to force-feed things that they might not be able to do, Rick, I think, is more accommodating,” Cuban said. “But I don’t think he really changes his system, per se, or changes what he does. I think he just recognizes the skill set of his players. Like, he went from calling plays to just playing ‘flow’ all the time [with Jason Kidd]. That’s his preference more than anything else, just let guys play basketball, and hopefully that’s what we’re going to be able to do a lot more of whereas last year we had to call plays every possession. This year I don’t think we’ll have to.”

Last season’s backcourt of Collison, who couldn’t hold down the starting job, and Mayo never clicked. Fisher ditched the team after a month and James was erratic. Cuban believes this team offers Carlisle more raw material with which to work.

He believes it will be collectively smarter and less turnover-pron with Calderon at the controls, Harris backing him up and the speedy Ellis being able to get to the hole with a frequency the Mavs just haven’t seen. All that, Cuban surmises, should play into the hands of a healthy and motivated Nowitzki.

“Each team is different, each team has different needs, each team develops differently and has to make different kinds of adjustments mid-stream,” Carlisle said. “All that stuff is one of the real intriguing things about coaching. It’s one of the reasons I love it. And one of the reasons I love working in this organization is we’ve got an owner with a fertile mind that likes the right kind of change.

“I’m down with that.”

Summer Star Bazemore Striving For More

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LAS VEGAS – Kent Bazemore couldn’t put “499” on his jersey, so he figured he’d have it stitched in gold on the blue underside of the tongue of his Under Armour sneakers.

That, No. 499, is where Bazemore landed on ESPN’s 2012 top 500 player rankings. The 2012 undrafted free agent out of Old Dominion came in one spot below Shan Foster, who has yet to play in an NBA game since being drafted 51st in 2008, and one spot ahead of Eddy Curry, who hasn’t kept a steady gig for five years.

Bad karma? Nah, it was cool, for Kenneth Lamont Bazemore Jr., who’s used to flying under the radar, as they say, and already beating the odds. He spent five seasons at ODU — he was a redshirt freshman, and who does that anymore? — raised eyebrows a year ago in the Las Vegas Summer League and then played sparingly as a rookie with the Golden State Warriors while frequently shuttling to the club’s D-League affiliate in Santa Cruz.

In fact, for the 24-year-old, No. 499 seemed fitting. He expects you to underestimate him. 

I’ve had my back against the wall my entire life,” Bazemore said. “Coming out of high school, I got a few Division I offers, but they were mid-major, a lot of D-II offers, you know, just a long, lanky kid from Kelford, North Carolina.

“But,” Bazemore continued, “I always worked. I had got my foot in the door last summer just playing defense, working with [Warriors assistant] Joe Boylan everyday and watching film.”

Now making his second tour in Vegas, Bazemore, who has always combined magnificent athletic ability and showstopping, raw talent with a bit of an on-court keystone cops routine, has emerged as a leading MVP candidate as the Warriors enter today’s semifinals of the inaugural summer league tournament undefeated at 5-0.

The 6-foot-5 shooting guard has scored 51 points in the last two games. He’s been running the point at times, particularly in crunch time, and using that long, lanky body to take any defender that plants himself up top off the dribble and to the rack. He burned the Lakers’ backcourt Saturday night for 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter as Golden State rallied from 10 points down to extend the team’s overall summer winning streak to 12.

“That’s what summer league is all about, developing guys and guys getting better and better in game situations against good talent,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “It’s a process, but he’s a guy we really like a lot.”

Still, Bazemore remains a relative unknown on an emerging Warriors team that boasts young star Stephen Curry and up-and-comers Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, and Bazemore will almost assuredly remain a depth player for Jackson after the Warriors added veteran Andre Iguodala this summer at Bazemore’s position.

But that’s also cool with Bazemore, who wisely seems to be treating his initial NBA seasons as an education.

“Hey man, that guy’s an Olympian, he’s an All-Star,” Bazemore said of Iguodala. “It’s the perfect situation for me because I can still sit back and learn, learn from one of the best that’s done it at every level. Now, as a leader of this [summer league] team, everything is under a microscope. [Saturday] I turned the ball over (seven times) and it’s kind of like letting my teammates down because they’re like, ‘Come on’ and ‘You shouldn’t be turning the ball over.’ But in the big leagues I’m going to be out there in spot minutes, so I can just go and wreak havoc.”

Which he did for a brief, and fleeting, moment in the wild, series-altering Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs in the second round. Bazemore, playing in the final minute of double overtime because Thompson had fouled out, sprinted down the sideline after Tony Parker missed and Barnes pulled down the rebound, quickly feeding Curry. Forcing the pace, Curry spotted the galloping Bazemore, who took the pass, flew through the paint along the baseline and put in a tough reverse off the glass to give the Warriors a 127-126 lead with 3.9 seconds to go.

“I’m like, ‘All right, OK,’ but you’ve got a Hall of Fame coach on the other end,” Bazemore said. “They always get a great look after a timeout, so we’ve got to get a stop. That’s what Jarrett Jack was saying the whole time, ‘Got to get the stop, got to get the stop.'”

And then just as quickly as Bazemore looked to be the hero on the highlight-reel play of his brief career, he got tangled up in the paint on the Spurs’ inbounds pass, Manu Ginobili sprung free at the wing and as Bazemore tried to recover, launching his long, lanky body toward Ginobili, the 3-pointer dropped with 1.2 seconds to go.

Jackson subbed in Andrew Bogut and Bazemore took a seat.

“That was another welcome-to-the-NBA moment,” Bazemore said. “Manu Ginobili is arguably a Hall of Famer at the end of his career. [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] drew up a great play. We wanted to switch everything, but they ran a little brush screen; they didn’t really screen, so [there was] miscommunication and Ginobili was wide open.

“Just a good player making a great shot.”

Which is exactly what Bazemore, No. 499, keeps working toward. He dares you to underestimate him.

Early Run Of Injuries Taking Its Toll


HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – The Dallas Mavericks signed journeyman big man Eddy Curry out of desperation at the center position with Chris Kaman injured. When he returned, Dallas cut Curry and signed out-of-work Troy Murphy because power forward took top billing on the depth chart with Dirk Nowitzki rehabbing from surgery.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, down four starters and six rotation players to injury, signed Josh Howard off the street Thursday. The Toronto Raptors are reportedly looking into unemployed 3-point shooter Mickael Pietrus to plug into their injury-depleted roster.

Entering just the third week of the 2012-13 season, injuries — many to some of the game’s biggest and brightest stars — are the overwhelming story line as overworked team medical staffs are on 24-hour notice.

Both conferences can field a veritable All-Star team, position-by-position, of players that have recently returned from injury, were injured prior to the season or are injured now.

The West: Steve Nash, Ricky Rubio, Eric Gordon, Shawn Marion, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Love, Nowitzki, Andrew Bogut.

The East: Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, John Wall, Kyle Lowry, Dwyane Wade, Danny Granger, Amar’e StoudemireAndrew Bynum, Nene.

Yet that’s hardly all of the NBA’s wounded. Here’s more of those who have been, still are or just got injured: Gerald Wallace, Gerald Henderson, Mario ChalmersDevin Harris, A.J. PriceNikola Pekovic, Kirk HinrichGrant Hill, J.J. Barea, Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger, Anthony Davis, Steve Blake, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Channing Frye, Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert, Alan Anderson, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Avery Bradley.

When Minnesota came to Dallas earlier this week with five players out (and Pekovic’s sprained ankle in the third quarter would make it six), coach Rick Adelman engaged in something of a “Who’s on First” rapid-fire Q & A with beat writer Jerry Zgoda.

Jerry: Who’s your backup 3 and your backup 2?

Rick: We don’t have a backup 3. I’m going to start Malcolm (Lee) tonight at the 2 and bring Alexey (Shved) off the bench at both spots. And then at the 3, I don’t know, we’re going to slide somebody there.

Jerry: Have to play AK (Andrei Kirilenko) 48 minutes?

Rick: I don’t want to do to that. We don’t need to wear him out, too.

Jerry: Can you get five or six (minutes) out of (assistant coach Terry) Porter?

Rick: I don’t think so.

A year ago, the worry around the league was how an abbreviated training camp following the hasty resolution to the lockout and then a compacted, 66-game schedule would affect player health. With a full, month-long camp this time around and a complete slate of eight preseason games, this spate of injuries is as unexpected as unfortunate.

Entering this weekend’s games, only the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder among the league’s 30 teams boast clean injury reports, and 22 list more than one injured player.

When the Mavericks play the Indiana Pacers tonight, they expect to get Marion back after a five-game absence with a sprained left knee. Nowitzki will remain out as will Indiana’s Granger. For Dallas, it’s been a strange run of not only playing shorthanded, but facing teams with at least one starter sidelined. They played, in order: Toronto (Lowry), New York (Stoudemire), Charlotte (Henderson), Minnesota (Love, Rubio, Roy, Budinger) and Washington (Wall, Nene).

“The league’s not going to stop and wait for you,” Adelman said the other night about his team’s rash of injuries. “A lot teams are having the same issues with major injuries. As a coaching staff you can’t coach the people that aren’t there. You only can coach the people that are there.”

And so it goes in a very strange first month in the NBA.

Elton Brand Looking To Get His Minutes Back Up, Shot To Go Down

DALLAS – As if the ignominy of being an amnesty casualty out of Philly wasn’t hurtful enough, Elton Brand‘s new coach in Dallas dealt him the injustice of benching him during crunch time at Charlotte while the five Mavericks on the floor keystone-copped their way out of a certain victory.

Two nights later at home against the injury-depleted Minnesota Timberwolves, Brand played just 17 minutes total and not one measly tick of the fourth quarter of an ugly 90-82 loss, the Mavs’ third in a row. After the game, Brand was visibly miffed by Rick Carlisle‘s rotation choice to stick with Troy Murphy instead, but Brand played it cool.

The next day at the end of practice, Brand was running end-to-end sprints with the low-minute guys, a ritual most vets, saying nothing of one with an All-Star pedigree, would avoid like jock itch.

“It’s been crazy, it’s been different,” Brand said of his first nine games in Dallas. “Like I say, coach is still evaluating. We’re still learning about each other. Coach is still learning about us.”

So it hasn’t been a seamless transition for Brand and the Mavs, who are paying just $2.1 million of his $18 million salary thanks to the CBA-instituted amnesty program.

But, really how could it have been?

Brand came to a team with initially eight new players. Before training camp ended, Delonte West had been suspended twice and waived, Dirk Nowitzki went under the knife, former Clippers teammate Chris Kaman dealt with a back injury and was nursing a calf injury into the regular season, Eddy Curry became the ninth new player before he was cut to make way for a 10th newbie in Murphy, who, for at least those two games, took over Brand’s position in the fourth quarter.

And during it all, Brand’s wife was in the final stages of pregnancy and delivered their second child, a daughter, between a Wednesday game in Dallas that he missed to fly home, and a Friday night game at New York against the Knicks, which he played.

None of the above is an excuse or necessarily even a reason as to why the 33-year-old power forward is struggling to hone his shooting range. Brand’s 36.8 field-goal percentage is well off his 50 percent career average, and although the career 18.2-point-a-game scorer has seen his scoring average dip in each of the last five seasons, he’s averaging a remarkably low 7.0 points.

His mid-range shooting has gone haywire, down to 32 percent, according to NBA.com with his hallmark free-throw line jumper more often spinning out than splashing down. And from inside the lane, it gets worse. Brand is 4-for-14 (29 percent) in the paint.

“I feel good, body feels good, still learning the offense,” said Brand, who quickly learned that Carlisle isn’t afraid to yank anyone not producing. “Like I said, I think I can produce whenever I get the minutes. You get three or four shots in 16 minutes you can’t do much — at all.”

So maybe Wednesday’s breathless victory over Washington, a game Dallas nearly blew a 22-point third-quarter lead, is the start of better things for Brand, who has been a bit breathless himself, granted permission by Carlisle to sneak a quick trip back home on the East Coast to visit wife and baby before the homestand.

Brand responded with his first double-double of the season (11 points, 12 rebounds) in 30 minutes, his high minute mark since the season opener. He was just 4-of-10 from the floor, but grabbed four offensive rebounds in more then eight minutes of crucial fourth-quarter time.

“I’m just glad coach had the confidence to have me out there late in the game,” Brand said. “I didn’t get to play at the end of that Charlotte game and only 17 minutes last game, so I wanted to be out there and help the team win, do whatever I could.”

Curry Is Out; Mavs Hope Kaman Is In

DALLAS — The Eddy Curry experience in Dallas didn’t last long. Eight less-than exhilarating days to be exact. The Mavericks now optimistically turn to Chris Kaman time.

The Mavericks will waive the 7-foot Curry on Friday to make room on the 15-man roster for another recent basketball vagabond, power forward Troy Murphy, (neither transaction is official yet, but coach Rick Carlisle and players talked about the moves after Friday’s practice), an indication of just how badly the Mavs need scoring and rebounding at the position with Dirk Nowitzki out at least another week and possibly as many as four following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

It’s been musical chairs in Dallas with erratic combo guard Delonte West being the first out the door, waived on Monday after twice being suspended for behavioral issues. He remains without a job.

The question in front of Curry is if another team will toss him a life-preserver and try yet again to rescue his overwhelmingly disappointing career. The Spurs released the 2001 fourth overall draft pick before the Mavs provided him a short-lived shot. Curry played 25 minutes in the Mavs’ first two regular-season games. He was decent on the offensive end; awful on the defensive end.

Dallas now turns optimistically to Kaman. He’s hopeful of playing in the home opener Saturday night against the Charlotte Bobcats. The oft-injured Kaman missed the last four preseason games and the first two real games this week nursing a strained right calf.

“That’s my goal,” Kaman said after Friday’s practice. “I can’t guarantee it at this point, I’ve got to see how I feel. I’m off the medication now. Hopefully everything feels good and the swelling stays down.” (more…)

Former All-Star Josh Howard Stays Positive As He Waits For Work

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Two former Dallas Mavericks, Josh Howard and Delonte West, are among a notable group of players that are out of a job as the 2012-13 season begins, but hope they’re not out of luck.

Howard, a one-time All-Star in Dallas and once thought to be the rising star that would play alongside Dirk Nowitzki for years to come, is residing in Dallas, healthy, working out and waiting for the phone to ring. At 32, Howard refuses to believe that his career will end prematurely.

“I’m just waiting for the opportunity to get on a team,” Howard, a 6-foot-7 small forward with nine seasons under his belt, told NBA.com on Tuesday. “My agent has been staying in contact with teams and continues to communicate with those teams. It’s a waiting game.”

For now, 15-man rosters are set. Until an injury creates a need or a team waives a player, Howard, who had interest from a handful of teams over the summer and made several visits with no offers forthcoming, waits, even as former Mavs teammate Jerry Stackhouse, 37, owns a roster spot with the Brooklyn Nets despite playing in just 37 games the last two seasons.

“I look at it as motivating,” Howard said of not being signed. “It’s never a disappointment. I look at my career and if it were to end today I can say honestly that I was one of the best players in the league for a while. I made it to the Finals, but you know my goal is to win the Finals and I want another opportunity. That’s my drive in me still and my competitiveness. I’m not ready to stop playing. I’m staying aggressive and hoping a team picks me up.”

Unlike newly unemployed combo guard West, Howard is taking the traditional approach to job hunting, allowing his agent to converse with league general managers. West, 29, had a job on a veteran minimum deal with the Mavs at the start of training camp, but Dallas waived him on Monday after twice suspending the quirky guard for behavioral issues deemed detrimental to the team.

On Wednesday, West put his search on his fingertips and began a campaign on Twitter (@CharleeRedz13) — in his unique 140-character stylings — to find work with a fifth franchise in what would be his ninth NBA season. Since his unfortunate 2009 arrest when he was stopped for speeding on his motorcycle and carrying firearms, West, who suffers from bipolar disorder, has been relegated to a string of one-year contracts and unable, he believes, to shed the perception that he’s a malcontent. His eviction from the Mavs didn’t help his cause.

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Carlisle Again Cool When It Counts

 

HANG TIME SOUTHWESTIn the recent GM survey, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was voted second-best among his peers for making in-game adjustments and tied for third for best defensive schemes.

He proved worthy of the praise once again Tuesday night as he guided his makeshift Mavs, sans Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman, to a stunning 99-91 win over the All-Star-laden Los Angeles Lakers, a unit some suggested could challenge the 72 wins posted by the Chicago Bulls.

Using a remarkably effective starting forward-center combo of 6-foot-9 Elton Brand and 210-pound Brandan Wright, and Eddy Curry — yes, that Eddy Curry — popping off the bench for 17 productive minutes, Dallas scored 46 points in the paint against Dwight Howard, the GM’s choice as the game’s top interior defender, competed on the boards against L.A.’s far more physical front line, and tied the Lakers with five blocked shots.

Brand, Wright and Curry combined for 29 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks.

From new Mavs point guard Darren Collison showing the type of aggression he did not in the preseason and outscoring Steve Nash 17-7 while dishing just as many assists (four), to reserves Rodrigue Beaubois and Vince Carter outscoring the Lakers’ bench 22-17, to rookie Jae Crowder dropping one fewer 3-pointer than the entire Lakers team, Carlisle had his team energized, believing and executing with precision — no matter what combinations he put on the floor. (more…)

Mavs’ Curry To Get Shot As Starter Against Howard, Lakers

DALLASEddy Curry was all smiles Monday after the Dallas Mavericks mercifully put a wrap on their final preseason practice before Tuesday’s opener against Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers.

And why shouldn’t the slimmed-down Curry be smiling? After playing just 24 games over the last four seasons — that’s 24 total games, not an average per season — suddenly Curry will almost assuredly start at center opposite Howard at Staples Center just days after being waived by the Spurs and then signed by the desperate, injury depleted Mavs.

“That’s awesome, man,” Curry said of facing Howard in his L.A. debut. “Couldn’t ask for a better matchup, I think, just to really test me and see where I am.”

Curry’s personal good fortune, however, underscores just how miserably things have gone for Dallas this preseason. An adjustment period was coming anyway with a radically different roster from the one that claimed the franchise’s only NBA championship just 16 months ago, and even from the semi-dismantled one that feebly attempted to defend the title.

Yet, no one could have predicted that when the Mavs take the floor Tuesday night, forward Shawn Marion would be the lone starter from either of those two teams. It’s been one mess of a preseason, with injury and atypical turmoil producing one gut punch after another.

The big blow was Dirk Nowitzki’s bothersome right knee requiring arthroscopic surgery that will sideline him for at least another two to four weeks. Chris Kaman, the 7-foot and chronically injured center the Mavs crossed their fingers would start in the opener, can’t stay healthy. He wrenched his back during the very first practice and is now into his second week of a calf stain. The baffling Delonte West, the Mavs’ best option at backup point guard, was waived Monday after twice being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.

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Some Notable Names Are Still Waiting For Their Free Agent Fury To Begin


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS –
Not all NBA free agents are created equal.

Sometimes you’re Deron Williams and sometimes you’re not.

And this isn’t news to the huddled masses of familiar names and faces still looking for work with the start of training camps just a mere month away. They know that it’s time for the two-minute drill, when their options are dwindling and an invite to camp becomes a life-preserver for guys who are used to guaranteed roster spots and permanent spots in a team’s rotation.

This would explain the likes of Eddy Curry, who most likely will not be in Miami on opening night when the championship banner is raised but does have a ring with his name on it, auditioning for any team interested.

It’s the same reason you hear names like Josh Howard, who has worked out for his home state Charlotte Bobcats, Josh Childress, Hilton Armstrong and so many others — some former lottery picks (Childress) and some former All-Stars (Howard) — doing what millions of other Americans are doing right now, and that’s looking for work.

Curry and Armstrong worked out together for the Nets Wednesday, according to the New York Post:

Curry, along with Hilton Armstrong, worked out for the Nets Wednesday, according to Yahoo! Sports. Curry, the much maligned former Knick, spent last season with the Heat, playing 14 games and averaging 2.1 points while riding the coattails of LeBron James to his first NBA title.

Curry, 29, played a combined 10 games in his final three seasons with the Knicks before his contract was used as salary ballast in the Carmelo Anthony deal in February 2011.

Armstrong was part of the Nets’ free agent minicamp in May, when he earned some praise for his play from general manager Billy King.

“What I like about Hilton is he’s long and he knows how to play. I think the biggest thing for Hilton is doing it consistently,” King said at the time. “I think he got better each day. I like his length, because the one thing is it’s hard to find athletic size in this league.”

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Wrapping Up A Wild Thursday

 

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU – Thursday, Dec. 8 was one of the wildest days the NBA has seen in recent memory, as three teams pulled off a trade that would have altered the NBA landscape, only to have the deal squashed by commissioner David Stern. And now, we have to wonder what kind of precedent has been set, and what this means for the future of the players and teams involved.

This was supposed to be the day that the new collective bargaining agreement was ratified. And it was. But that news was completely overshadowed by what happened shortly after the league’s press conference.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

After several days of talks with several teams, the New Orleans Hornets finally reached a deal to get back some assets for Chris Paul, who they clearly believed was going to leave via free agency next summer. They traded Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-way deal that netted them Goran Dragic, Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom, Luis Scola and the Knicks’ 2012 first-round draft pick (via Houston).

Twitter blew up, the league was abuzz, and columns were being filed about the plusses and minuses of the deal. Many were already preparing for the Lakers’ next move. Since they were keeping Andrew Bynum, they were still able to dangle him in front of the Orlando Magic in an effort to team Dwight Howard with Paul and Kobe Bryant.

The first tweet of the deal, from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, came shortly before 6 p.m. ET. Less than three hours later, Wojnarowski reported that “NBA owners have pushed commissioner David Stern to kill the deal.”

Within minutes, other reporters confirmed that the deal was dead. Paul was still a member of the New Orleans Hornets and the Lakers’ dominant frontline remained intact. Training camps were set to open in less than 24 hours and we were all to pretend that nothing happened.

Later, NBA senior vice president of basketball communications Tim Frank issued this statement: “Not true that the owners killed the deal. It wasn’t even discussed at the board meeting. League office declined to make the trade for basketball reasons.”

Either way, the situation only leads to more questions, especially since the Hornets were getting back a pretty good haul in the deal.

First, if the league didn’t want the Hornets to trade Paul, why did they allow general manager Dell Demps to waste so much of his time (and the time of other executives around the league) negotiating a deal?

Second, if Demps wasn’t allowed to make this deal, is there any deal (involving Paul) that he’s allowed to make? And if Demps can’t trade Paul, aren’t the Hornets just going to lose him for nothing next summer?

Third, is this just about keeping Paul to help the team get sold? And will it get sold in time for the Hornets to make a deal that will get them something in return for Paul?

In his recap of the night, Wojnarowski reported that Demps considered resigning. And obviously, we haven’t heard the last of this story. ESPN has reported that Paul won’t be showing up at Hornets training camp on Friday.

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The craziness of the day wasn’t limited to the three-team trade. The first wild moment came when we learned that the New York Knicks had put themselves in the mix for Tyson Chandler, shortly after we heard that the Golden State Warriors had offered him $60 million over four years.

The Knicks, with their payroll right at the salary cap line, seemingly had no way to get Chandler. But then CBS Sports’ Ken Berger reported that they were “in the lead” for the center dropping this bombshell: “If the deal goes through, the Knicks use amnesty on Chauncey Billups and move Ronny Turiaf to make room for Chandler, sources say.”

Chandler will obviously help the Knicks defensively, but by waiving Billups, they’re left without a point guard. And by signing Chandler to a long-term deal, they’re seemingly out of the running to sign Paul next summer. They should, however, get plenty of interest from point guards willing to sign for the mid-level exception.

No deal can become official until Friday at 2 p.m., but according to multiple reports, Billups is “irate” about the news and has already gone home to Denver.

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The developments of Thursday crept into early Friday morning when ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported that Howard “is preparing to ask the Magic to trade him to the Nets.”

The Magic could get Brook Lopez, another player (possibly Jordan Farmar) and picks back from New Jersey. That may not seem like a lot, but the Nets, after waiving Travis Outlaw and renouncing their bird rights to Kris Humphries, would be able to absorb Hedo Turkoglu’s contract in the deal. And that would allow the Magic to wipe $21 million off the Orlando payroll. If they then waived Gilbert Arenas using the amnesty clause, they could start fresh.

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Here’s what else went down on an eventful Thursday, according to reports…

  • Shane Battier decided to sign with the Miami Heat, who will also sign Eddy Curry to a deal.
  • Caron Butler reached an agreement with the Los Angeles Clippers for $24 million over three years.
  • Tayshaun Prince and Jonas Jerebko each reached agreements to return to the Detroit Pistons on four-year deals.
  • Tracy McGrady and Jason Collins each reached agreements on one-year deals with the Atlanta Hawks.
  • Shannon Brown is leaving L.A. for Phoenix.
  • The Milwaukee Bucks reached an agreement with Mike Dunleavy on a two-year deal worth $7.5 million.
  • The Boston Celtics will acquire Keyon Dooling from the Bucks for a second-round pick.
  • Jeff Pendergraph reached a deal with the Indiana Pacers.
  • Finally, the Toronto Raptors are close to being sold.

All this and the league still isn’t technically back in business yet. So get ready for another wild ride on Friday.

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