Posts Tagged ‘Marc Spears’

Billups To Suit Up, Start For Clippers




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If veteran guard Chauncey Billups can do anything to cure what ails the Los Angeles Clippers, losers of four straight games, we will all find out tonight.

Billups is expected to make his season debut tonight against Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV), per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

It’s an injury return that couldn’t come at a better time for the Clippers, who have found themselves embroiled in one mess after another lately during their mini-slump.

Vinny Del Negro is suddenly on the hot seat (his normal spot, nothing new) and the Clippers are struggling to find the rhythm they had when they kicked off the season on a 8-2 surge.

Chris Paul was critical of his team’s effort, and some people feel his head coach, Vinny Del Negro, after Monday’s loss to the New Orleans Hornets. He even tweeted about it, creating an uproar with words that lacked the context of his more nuanced reaction that only some seemed to pay attention to:

“We lost to a very … let me choose my words … not a very talented team but well coached,” Paul said. “I watch them play every game that they play. One thing about [coach] Monty [Williams] is they’re going to play hard. If you watch their games, they been to a couple of overtimes and they’ve only been in a couple of blowouts, which were against Denver and Oklahoma City. They’re going to play hard. … With those guys playing like that and us waiting until the fourth quarter to turn it on, it’s going to be tough.”

Paul’s praise for his former coach, Williams, was seen as a direct shot at Del Negro.

The return of the Clippers’ most prominent leader not named Paul, however, could be the infusion of positive energy needed to get this team back on track.

Of course, Billups hasn’t played since he tore his left Achilles tendon last Feb. 6. Before that injury he was playing a critical role alongside Paul, averaging 15 points and four assists, in one of the most dynamic backcourts in the league.

Now he joins not only Paul, but his replacement, Willie Green, and bench stars Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe, in what has to be one of the deepest and most explosive backcourt rotations in all of basketball.

Labor Talks: Deals And Deadlines

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In the days since the first two weeks of the NBA regular season ended, there has been no mincing of words from either side.

We are in a red alert situation. The 2011-12 NBA season is on the line every second of every minute of every single day as this lockout continues. NBA commissioner David Stern said as much in various interviews Thursday, making clear that something has to be done sooner (next week Tuesday at the earliest) rather than later …

No Deal Tuesday, No Games Through Christmas?

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: Setting another arbitrary deadline for more lost games, NBA commissioner David Stern said that without an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement by Tuesday, he fears there will be no games on Christmas Day.

“It’s time to make the deal,” Stern said, speaking deliberately and threateningly Wednesday in an interview on New York’s WFAN radio. “If we don’t make it on Tuesday, my gut — this is not in my official capacity of canceling games — but my gut is that we won’t be playing on Christmas Day.”

Tuesday is the day the league and players’ association will meet with federal mediator George Cohen in an attempt to resolve their differences before more games are canceled.

“Deal Tuesday, or we potentially spiral into situations where the worsening offers on both sides make it even harder for the parties to make a deal,” Stern said.

Stern confirmed that negotiating committees for the league and National Basketball Players Association will meet separately with Cohen on Monday and then will convene for a bargaining session under Cohen’s supervision Tuesday. Why the deadline? Stern’s Board of Governors is scheduled to meet in New York Wednesday and Thursday — first for the planning committee to present its revenue sharing plan and then for a full board meeting.

Asked when more games could be imperiled after he canceled the first two weeks on Monday, Stern said, “I don’t have a date here sitting at my desk. But if we don’t have a deal by the time the owners are in, then what’s the purpose of us sitting around staring at each other on the same issues?”

Billy Hunter Answers Pointed Questions

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports: Q: Do you think both sides can come to an agreement by Tuesday or is it wishful thinking?

Hunter: “It’s not an issue of time. It’s an issue of will. If you are in a room and you want to make a deal and there are three major issues that are holding you up, if you can come to a compromise on those three areas than you have a makings of a deal. It’s not a nature of time. We can go in and do a deal if they want to go in and do a deal. We can do a deal in an hour, two hours if we can agree to the major terms. And after that you got to work on everything else. Everything else will fall in place.”

Q: What has been the most frustrating part of negotiations?

Hunter: “I don’t think [the owners] are negotiating in good faith. That’s what’s frustrating. David Stern told me three years ago – and I keep reiterating that because people keep pulling up their cup on it – that they were going to lock out [the players] in order to get what it was they wanted. And what he’s done is done that. [Stern] said he was going to lock out [the players] and his owners were prepared to lock out to get what they wanted. It’s driven pretty much by the small-market teams. They actually want revenue sharing in the big markets, but the big markets have said, ‘OK we’ll give revenue conditioned upon you getting the deal in place that we think has to be there because we don’t want to go into our pockets as much as we may have to. We think you should get it off the backs of the players.’ So that’s what he’s done. He’s stated an extreme position from the get go and he’s negotiated that way. So here we are.

“We’ve been negotiating for almost three years, and here we are at the 12th hour when all of the sudden they make a slight move. But then on top of that, they then decide that they want a hard cap. So then when you get close to the economics of the number, then they get close to the system. And they know that the system is very important. If we give on the economics, we are not going to give on the system. And so all of the sudden you reach a possible agreement on the economics and now the system becomes a problem. So it’s like a moving target. It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating because the whole intent and purpose and whole strategy has been to break the resolve of the players.

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In The Aftermath Of Doomsday …

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The frayed emotions and exhausted looks on the faces of basketball lovers worldwide should be impossible to hide this morning.

Now that the doomsday fears have been realized, and the first two weeks of the NBA’s regular season have been canceled, we’re all left with the uneasy feeling of what faces the chopping block next as the lockout digs deeper into the fall.

We can dispense with all of the pleasantries now and get down to brass tacks. Forget about when the season starts. Most fans are wondering this morning if there will be a season. The unthinkable a few weeks ago has become our new reality …

Something To Salvage?

Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated: Can the season be saved? The answer is yes, so long as the NBA owners are willing to negotiate into January, as they did to resolve their previous lockout in 1999.

Understand that two weeks of NBA games have been wiped away, and that more cancellations are to come. Nothing important is likely to change over the next two weeks that will enable basketball to be played in late November or early December.

On and on it will go, with both sides looking back to the salvation of the ’99 lockout. That resolution a dozen years ago may have influenced these extended talks that failed Monday night in New York. As much anxiety as both sides were feeling to reach an agreement this week, they weren’t experiencing the ultimate pressure that will be felt later this winter when the entire season is at risk. “The problem,” said a former league official who was involved in the negotiations that shortened the 1998-99 season to 50 games, “is that people tend to look at early January as the drop-dead date.”

He was worrying that the absolute final offer from either side may not emerge for another 12 weeks. Not until the final days of this calendar year will the owners fully understand the consequences of losing a full season during a recession, while more than 400 players find themselves confronted with the likelihood of a full year without an NBA paycheck.

In many ways these entire negotiations have gone according to form. It is not the formula anyone would have desired, but it has been entirely predictable. The owners lock out the players July 1, with little negotiating done for most of July and August, followed by sudden urgency to make a deal that can save the full season.

Lost Games Part Of The Plan?

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: On the sidewalk out on 63rd Street, sirens wailing and knucklehead cameramen jostling for position and cursing each other, here was Billy Hunter living in his own movie. Regular-season games lost on his watch, and on David Stern‘s, just as they’d discussed two years ago.

“It goes back to a comment that David said to me several years ago, when he said this is what my owners have to have,” Hunter said Monday night, after the first two weeks of the 2011-12 NBA regular season were canceled. “And I said, ‘Well, the only way you’re going to get that is, you prepare to lock us out for a year or two.’ And he’s indicated to me that they’re willing to do it. So my belief and contention is that everything that he’s done has demonstrated that he’s following that script.”

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Shaq Aging With Grace

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Aging gracefully in professional sports is an art few superstars can master.

Evander Holyfield is still boxing, hockey legend Gordie Howe played one shift at 69 and Satchel Paige threw his last pitch at 59. We still don’t know if Brett Favre is really done or not. They are just some of the glaring examples of a long and storied list of superstars that did not — and do not — know when to say when.

But there is a way to go out gracefully. You can be ushered out of the game without someone’s boot in your back.

Future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal is rewriting the book this season in Boston, showing that it’s possible to age with grace and do it in style. He’s even doing it in a city that loathed him for years when he was starring for the rival Los Angeles Lakers.

Shaq is still the most robust and magnetic personality the NBA has to offer. He’s light years away from being the MDE (Most Dominant Ever), yet he’s not bitter about it. He will step aside for Kendrick Perkins in the Celtics’ starting lineup without any fussing.

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Hang Time Podcast (Episode 26)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Peyton Manning might be the NFL’s best player and No. 1 pitch man these days, but in high school he wasn’t even the biggest star on campus at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans.

That honor belonged to Randy Livingston, who in 1993 was Gatorade National Player of the Year in boys basketball, earning his trophy a year before Manning would take home the same honors in football.

Currently the head coach of the NBA D-League’s Idaho Stampede, Livingston joins us on Episode 26 of the Hang Time Podcast to reminisce about his time as not only the nation’s top high school recruit, but also the knee injuries that curtailed his playing career and the resolve it took to overcome that adversity and succeed as a player in the NBA, the D-League and now as a head coach.

LISTEN HERE:


Livingston also offers an interesting perspective on the rules changes the D-League will implement this season and the potential impact those changes could have if and when they are introduced to the NBA.

Veteran NBA writer Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports joins us as well, sharing his insights on the Carmelo Anthony situation in Denver — yes, we realize that all is quiet these days on the “Melo-drama” front, but there are still rumblings that things might not be what they seem in Nuggets camp.

We didn’t forget about Carlos Boozer‘s injury or Joakim Noah‘s extension in Chicago. And nobody is crazy enough, not even the HTP crew, to miss the Miami Heat’s preseason debut against Detroit tonight at 7 p.m. live on NBA TV.

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

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