Posts Tagged ‘ESPN’

The Dwightmare Continues

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In the wonderful world that is the never-ending Dwight Howard drama, the news one day can be debunked the very next day.

A Thursday report that suggested Howard was warming up to the idea of potentially signing a long-term extension with the Lakers, if traded there, is being refuted today by Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, who told ESPN The Magazine‘s Ric Bucher something that totally contradicts that stance.

According to this latest report, Howard will not sign an extension anywhere, and that includes Brooklyn, the one team he has said all along was his required destination:

“Dwight’s position has remained unchanged since the end of this past season,” said Dan Fegan of LaGardere Unlimited. “He fully intends to explore free agency at the end of next season, regardless of what team trades for him, including Brooklyn.”

A source said the Nets never insisted Howard commit to an extension as a prerequisite for acquiring him, which Nets president Billy King confirmed in a text message.

Howard told the Magic, according to GM Rob Hennigan, he would like to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets above any other team. The Nets made concerted efforts to strike a deal for Howard earlier this month, but were forced to stop when the Charlotte Bobcats threatened to sign their restricted free agent center, Brook Lopez, to an offer sheet.

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Report: Lakers, Magic Talking Howard?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – They’re just talking about the possibilities of a potential deal involving Dwight Howard wearing a Los Angeles Lakers uniform.

And that should be more than enough to crank up the machine that has been the Howard rumor mill once again, now that one of the first teams mentioned as a potential destination for the Magic superstar is back in the middle of the madness.

You knew it was only a matter of time before we got back to this, courtesy of our friends at Yahoo! Sports and ESPN.com:

Yahoo Sports! reports that the Lakers want a commitment from Howard that he will agree to a contract extension before they agree to a trade with the Magic.

The Lakers and Magic have been in talks over Howard for the last week or so, sources told ESPN The Magazine‘s Chris Broussard, but nothing is imminent.

Howard had demanded a trade to the Nets but talks broke down between the Nets and Orlando last week. Magic GM Rob Hennigan called Howard last week to see if he would consider giving the GM’s new regime a chance, but Howard rebuffed the overtures.

Howard has said he would agree to sign an extension with only one team, and sources have said that team is the Nets.

The Houston Rockets also made a new proposal to the Magic for Howard last weekend and are willing to take on long-term salary commitments from Orlando if they land Howard in Houston.

As long as Howard is in play for the Magic, the Lakers have to explore their options. They have Andrew Bynum, the one asset no other teams in the running for Howard can throw into the discussion.

While there hasn’t been any confirmation that they are doing anything other than simply discussing the possibilities, it doesn’t make much sense for anyone to get wrapped up in details that haven’t been shared.

But since when did anyone need actual details to get carried away during free agency/trade season?

Del Negro Firmly On Hot Seat





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The last time we heard about some coach “losing his team”, Mike D’Antoni was out of a job a few days later in New York.

So if Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro is a feeling a little uneasy this morning after hearing about this ESPN report from Chris Broussard that he has indeed “lost his team,” we should all understand his plight:

With the Los Angeles Clippers in free fall, tensions are high in the club’s locker room, most notably in the relationship between coach Vinny Del Negro and his players, according to several sources close to the situation.

“Vinny has lost the team,” one source said. “They don’t want to play hard for him.”

With the Clippers having lost 11 of their past 18 games to turn this once-promising season into a mess, Del Negro’s job security would certainly seem to be in jeopardy. As it is, Del Negro is in the final guaranteed season of his contract. The Clippers hold a team option for next season.

Most of the players, according to sources, believe it’s time for a change. They cite the uncertainty of Del Negro’s rotation as a major problem. With the front office adding several players to the roster throughout this shortened season — Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin, Bobby Simmons and Nick Young — plus Eric Bledsoe‘s return from injury in February, players’ minutes have fluctuated from game to game.

We went through plenty of this yesterday, highlighting the fact that the Clippers were at the crossroads of their season. But that was before the Clippers got sideswiped in New Orleans, losing to the Hornets in Chris Paul‘s return trip to the Big Easy that turned into the Big Ugly.

It’s hard to see anything saving Del Negro’s skin if the Clippers’ season bottoms all the way out. We’re talking about a coach who is working on his second stint with one of the league’s elite point guards (he had Derrick Rose in Chicago, before the Bulls took off under Tom Thibodeau) and couldn’t make that work.

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Report: Bulls Chasing Gasol





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol in the same uniform?

Apparently someone is trying to make it happen, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, who is reporting that the Bulls are trying to find a way to land the Lakers’ power forward in advance of Thursday trade deadline.

It’s one of the more intriguing ideas to surface throughout this frenzied countdown to the trade deadline, a stretch of every season that is rife with rumors, speculation and flat-out lies.

The Bulls haven’t been mentioned previously with Gasol, but recent developments have placed them squarely in the middle of that conversation now, details courtesy of Stein:

The Bulls have long hoped to wedge themselves into the trade running for Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard, but sources told ESPN.com that Howard’s well-chronicled lack of interest in a trade to Chicago has prompted the Bulls to switch their focus to Gasol in advance of Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline.

Sources say that the Lakers, however, have limited interest in the players Chicago would be offering, starting with Bulls forward Carlos Boozer.

So the Bulls would have to recruit at least one more team to the discussions to have any shot at Gasol, sources said, with the Lakers known to be insistent on getting back at least one certifiable star if they consent to trade the Spaniard.

Sources say that the Lakers, furthermore, are talking to other teams about Gasol in advance.

The Lakers’ longstanding preference, of course, is acquiring a top point guard if they agree to surrender Gasol. They included the 7-footer in the December deal with New Orleans and Houston that would have landed Chris Paul with the Lakers, only for NBA commissioner David Stern — acting as the final decision-maker for the league-owned Hornets — to tell New Orleans’ basketball people to cancel the deal after all three teams agreed to terms.

Gasol has been subjected to constant trade speculation ever since, and recently acknowledged to ESPN.com that “there’s no guarantees” he’ll be with the Lakers beyond the trade deadline, despite recent assurances from Lakers management that no deal was imminent.

Gasol would have no problem fitting in with a Bulls team that is all about defense and the strength of the unit overall as opposed to a sole focus on just one player (Rose gets tons of deserved attention, on and off the court, but they are not a one-man show). In fact, the way the Bulls operate would seem to be much more to the liking of Gasol, who has made clear his desire that the Lakers foster that same sort of environment.

But it’s like he said, there are no guarantees, and that goes for just about anyone and anything this close the trade deadline. But you can rest assured this won’t be the last trade rumor that Gasol is linked to. And it shouldn’t surprise you to see the Bulls mentioned with other prominent stars over the next couple of days.

Until that first domino falls, everyone is in play!

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 65)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If no one else is prepared to make a big deal of the Philadelphia 76ers and the moves they are making in the Eastern Conference, we’ll gladly take up that cause here at HT.

And with the way Doug Collins has his crew playing these days, it’s a cause well worth championing (before Utah Jazz fans go crazy, we see you there, too, and we’re coming there next if you keep it up).

But Episode 65 of the Hang Time Podcast is heavy on the team that should have folks Philly smiling about at least one of their professional teams this week.

espnW’s Kate Fagan, formerly of the Deep Sixer blog on Philly.com, joined us to break down the Sixers and the culture change that’s taken place within the franchise since Collins (and new ownership) came aboard.

With the results of NBA.com’s annual GM Survey and USA Basketball’s announcement of the 20 finalists for the 2012 Olympic team dropping on the same day, we had to try to make sense of it all.

NBA.com’s John Schuhmann joined us and decipher all the pertinent data. (Jerry Colangelo, Coach K and all the folks at USA Basketball can rest easy now that Schuh has taken care of cutting the roster to the 12 guys that need to be in London.)

And in an effort to bring peace and harmony to all people, we decided to help end the spirited debate Shaquille  O’Neal and Charles Barkley have been battling about on the TNT set since last week.

LISTEN HERE: 

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Sekou Smith of NBA.com, as well as our superproducer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Pretty Finish To Ugly Night In Chicago

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HANG TIME CHICAGO – It was as if a platypus and a Tasmanian devil got together, downed a few too many, impulsively detoured to a little chapel in Vegas and, nine months later (or whatever the gestation period would be — work with us here), were gifted with a beautiful white swan as their most unexpected bundle of joy.

That’s how the game at United Center played out Tuesday night, between a misfiring and road-weary Atlanta Hawks team and a sluggish, numb-for-three-quarters Chicago Bulls club. Ugly met ugly, with the winners shooting 33.8 percent and the losers poised to avert defeat if only its starting backcourt had gone 6-for-25 rather than 5-for-25.

Somehow, improbably, the late moments of what became Chicago’s 76-74 victory were striking, memorable and the stuff of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Hawks and the Bulls. Derrick Rose’s tenacity, Josh Smith’s athleticism, Tom Thibodeau’s craftiness on the sideline – all of it and more was on display late, even with a hushed video review by the refs mixed in to turn two hours of farce into a few minutes of thriller.

How bad were things 40-plus minutes? Atlanta – which was wrapping up a north-by-southeast back-to-back (at Miami/at Chicago) after beating the Heat Monday – missed 41 of 63 shots through three quarters, but managed to lead by as much as 19 points. The Bulls were even worse after a 2-for-21 second quarter.

“In the first half, we were backward,” said Thibodeau, Chicago’s head coach. “We were shooting when we should have been passing and passing when we should have been shooting.”

Said Rose: “We know we’re 10 times better than what we showed out there … I felt bad for our fans to see us play that bad.”

By the end, though, much was forgiven. Atlanta, still struggling offensively, lost focus defensively. Trips to the foul line became adventures. And Rose got busy, scoring 17 of his game-high 30 points in the final quarter and going all 2010 MVP on the Hawks. His driving bucket with 57.8 seconds left got Chicago its first lead of the night, 72-71. Then, after a throwdown by Smith of Marvin Williams’ alley-oop, Rose did it again, as described by ESPNChicago.com’s Jon Greenberg:

Two between-the-leg crossovers, a hesitation dribble to freeze the point guard, and then an explosion to the hole. After he picked up the dribble, Rose carried the basketball – though it wasn’t a carry – coasting toward the rim where [Smith] in wait.

Smith had already blocked Rose at the rim twice in the quarter, but this time Rose timed his shot perfectly, a teardrop high over Smith’s extended hand. It kissed in off the glass.

And still that didn’t win the game. There were 9.9 seconds left. Al Horford promptly got Atlanta even at 74-74 when he pivoted into Luol Deng, going under Horford’s screen, and got the call, making the second of two free throws. That left 7.7 seconds for the Bulls, at which point Thibodeau subbed in center Joakim Noah, who’d been sitting since 10:04 of the third quarter in deference to backup Omer Asik’s energy and production.

The play that ensued was swan-like for basketball fans. As Deng looked to pass inbounds on the right sideline, Rose circled past him but either didn’t really want the ball or looked too vulnerable to an Atlanta trap. So the Bulls forward tossed it to Noah, then slashed to the basket behind what wound up as a screen by Rose. Noah hit him with the ball in stride and Deng’s layup at 3.7 proved to be the game-winner. Multiple Chicago defenders smothered Joe (3-for-17) Johnson’s 3-point attempt from the left wing at the buzzer.

The only funky thing at the end was Thibodeau stating that Rose was the first option all along on the play, while Noah’s presence and the precision of Deng’s cut-catch-and-score argued that it was set up from the start with the Bulls’ point guard as a decoy. Sounded like Thibodeau was hoping to pull that one out of the playbook again some night, which meant there was something worth hanging onto from a game so ooogly it required three o’s.

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LeBron Done Playing The Villain

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The last 17 months of his professional life have probably taught LeBron James a few lessons we wouldn’t wish on anyone.

It can’t be easy waking up the villain after years of being the beloved, homegrown son and the star of stars in a league filled with them. But after “The Decision” and all of the negativity that followed his televised declaration to divorce himself from the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in free agency, James has a firm understanding on the whirlwind that his life has been since then.

When we saw him opening up about it to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols this morning, we were more than a bit taken aback by his tone. The defiant posture that we saw from him during the Heat’s playoff run last season had vanished. It’s been replaced by a man who — dare we say it — looks to have been humbled by his experiences of the past year and a half.

His words probably won’t heal many wounds in Northeast Ohio, where James remains entrenched with the likes of former Cleveland browns owner Art Modell as one of the most despised sports figures in recent memory. There is no statute of limitations on coming around and making peace. And James strikes us as a man in need of making that peace, if with no one else other than himself.

As he told Nichols, he “used to let his game do all talking and I got away from that.”

It’s clear the hate got to him and got to his game. He bought into the villain role and it changed him, mentally. But a mea culpa about not only “The Decision” and his failings in the playoffs sound sincere.

We can’t be mad at him for that. So what if he was oblivious to the fallout of his initial decision? So what if he wrestled half the season with how he would operate in his new role as the dude wearing the black hat? It’s never too late …

*** CLICK HERE to see the full interview ***

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 52)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We had to call in some serious favors and promise to sell super producer Micah Hart’s phone contact list to the Smithsonian one day, but we finally landed the one guest we’ve been waiting on since the Hang Time Podcast first hit the airwaves.

Basketball legend and Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar graced us with a visit on Episode 52. We talked about his documentary, “On the Shoulders of Giants,” detailing the history of the Harlem Rens basketball team – the story of the greatest basketball team you never heard of.

The film is available on is available now on Comcast Video on Demand and will be available on Netflix on May 15th. You can pre-order the DVD at www.kareemabduljabbar.com.

We didn’t let the NBA’s all-time leading scorer make his Hang Time Podcast debut without getting his thoughts on a wild opening weekend of the NBA playoffs.

And we also enlisted the services, live from the golf course, of NBA TV’s Brent “Bones” Barry and his brother Jon Barry, a scratch golfer and NBA analyst himself for ABC and ESPN. They weighed in on the shocking Game 1 defeats in Los Angeles and San Antonio, while also sharing their insights on what’s to come in all of these first round series — in between a little brotherly trash talking on the links, of course.

Trust us when we tell you that you don’t want to miss this:

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Sekou Smith of NBA.com, as well as our super producer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here.

Justin Bieber nabs All-Star berth

We all know what the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game was missing in recent years. Not enough high-pitched, teenage-girl shrieks and shrills.

Problem solved.

Justin Bieber is bringing his hoops talents to Los Angeles and the BBVA NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. ESPN is televising the gathering of entertainers and athletes on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. ET.

In addition to the Grammy-nominated pop-singing sensation, this year’s celebrity games also features NBA legends such as Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen, Bill Walton, Chris Mullin and AC Green. On the Hollywood side, look for Jimmy Kimmel, Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”), Rob Kardashian, Zach Levi (“Chuck”), Jason Alexander and Common. ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons also nabbed a roster spot. Complete teams, which will also feature current WNBA players, will be announced later.

CP3: Hornets getting national TV shaft

New Orleans point guard Chris Paul had this to say last night after learning he was starting for the Western Conference All-Star team:

“This is an unbelievable feeling for me as a player. What makes it even more special is that it is due to the fans, who I am extremely grateful towards. I am honored to be representing the Hornets and the city of New Orleans.”

Today, he expounded a bit:

“I think it’s big, and I’m unbelievably grateful for the fans for it, because I’ve probably got to be the only All-Star who hadn’t played yet on national TV.”

The lack of exposure didn’t hurt Paul in the fan vote, but he’s obviously not happy with the lack of national coverage given his team. The Hornets have been through some trying times this season already — from being sold to the league to having to make an attendance quota to keep their arena lease — only to emerge as one of the season’s true feel-good stories under Paul and rookie coach Monty Williams.

Paul will get his TV spotlight on the grandest stage in about three weeks, just without his Hornets teammates, when TNT televises the 60th All-Star Game from Los Angeles on Feb. 20.

As for Paul’s television blackout declaration, he’s right that the Hornets have yet to appear on TNT, ESPN or ABC. New Orleans, Minnesota, Detroit, Toronto and New Jersey are the only teams that haven’t been on those national networks. The Hornets have made several appearances on NBA TV.

As for the TNT-ESPN-ABC triumvirate, the Hornets are the only team with a winning record/or currently in playoff contention not to be on their airwaves. New Orleans happens to be 30-16 and riding a league-high nine-game winning streak.

Paul’s surprising squad is does have an ESPN date coming March 6 at Cleveland.