Posts Tagged ‘Mike Wells’

Reggie Miller’s Front Office Options?




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For a man whose name is synonymous with a franchise, city and state, it should come as no surprise that there are rumblings about Reggie Miller one day returning to help run the Indiana Pacers.

Miller’s headed to Springfield for a glorious weekend that will include his being enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. But there will be no shortage of chatter about the TNT analyst’s future and whether or not it might one day include a return to Indianapolis and the Pacers.

There couldn’t be a more a natural fit, from this perspective.

Miller embodies everything the Pacers stood for during the height of the franchise’s NBA glory years. His return would be more than just symbolic, though, as Miller has proved himself to be not only an ambassador for the Pacers, Indiana and the game itself, but also an astute observer of the global growth of the game over the past three decades.

Our main man Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star has already broached the subject with both sides and it doesn’t sound like anyone is ready to do anything right now, but a potential reunion no doubt seems to be a hot topic for all involved:

“I never close any doors,” Miller said. “I listen to everything. (Owner) Herb Simon and I have had this conversation before. So yes, if something presented itself, I would definitely look at it and go from there.”

The Pacers have been led by either Donnie Walsh or Larry Bird for nearly the past 30 years.

Walsh returned for his second stint with the organization, replacing Bird as president, in June. Bird is taking at least the next year off. The 71-year-old Walsh hasn’t put a timetable on how long he will remain in his current capacity.

“I’m always interested,” Simon said. “Reggie would be a wonderful person to have in this franchise.”

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Pacers Owe One To Bird, To Selves





INDIANAPOLIS – Forty-eight minutes to get it right.

The Indiana Pacers have 48 minutes of basketball left to finish off this 2011-12 season and postseason in a way that befits all they achieved. They might, in fact, be able to push that number to 96 or even well beyond, if they can manage to survive and advance from their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat.

For now, though, they have Game 6 Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Forty-eight minutes to get it right, win or lose.

That’s the thing now, it isn’t even a matter of beating Miami, a huge task now that they trail in the best-of-seven series down 3-2. The Pacers have been called out by the top-ranking basketball executive in their organization, who also happens to be their resident NBA legend, who happens to be Larry Bird.

Bird, the team president, was so annoyed by what he saw in Indiana’s 115-83 loss in Game 5 Tuesday – the worst beating in Pacers playoff history – that he sought out the beat writer for The Indianapolis Star early Wednesday morning to make his feelings known. “I can’t believe my team went soft,” Bird said in a phone call to reporter Mike Wells. “S-O-F-T. I’m disappointed. I never thought it would happen.”

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Hang Time Podcast (Episode 79) With Mike Wells And Chris Webber

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Come playoff time, the name on the back of a NBA jersey is just as important as the name splashed across the front of the jersey.

Careers are made in the playoffs. Legends are made in the playoffs. And if you’re not careful, they can be broken in the playoffs, too.

That’s why the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, teams filled with stars whose names reverberate throughout the basketball world and beyond, are in our crosshairs this weekend.

Both teams are locked in intense battles in their respective conference finals series, the Lakers against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Heat against the Indiana Pacers. Slip up here and the view of the stars on some of these teams is altered forever. Come back from the abyss, and that view takes a decidedly different turn.

But it’s all up to the men in those jerseys, the ones with the names on the front and back, as our good friend, five-time All-Star and NBA TV and TNT analyst Chris Webber explains on the latest Episode 79 of the Hang Time Podcast, which includes a first course from our main man and Indianapolis Star Pacers’ beat writer Mike Wells.

Check it out on Episode 79 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star and Chris Webber of NBA TV and TNT:

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 and the best engineer in the business, Jarrell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– 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.

Verbal Shots Fired, Again! Vogel: Heat “Biggest Flopping Team In The NBA”





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – Have we learned nothing from the verbal transgressions of others, Frank Vogel?

Did you not see what Kevin Garnett did to the Atlanta Hawks after their co-owner took shots at him on the eve of their Game 6 showdown last night in Boston?

Vogel, the Indiana Pacers’ coach, lobbed the first stone in his team’s Eastern Conference semifinal against the Miami Heat by telling reporters in Indianapolis that the Heat, in so many words, take flopping to artistic levels.

Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star has the goods:

“They are the biggest flopping team in the NBA,” Vogel said. “It’ll be very interesting to see how the referees officiate the series and how much flopping they reward.”

The Heat, who eliminated the New York Knicks on Wednesday, were fourth in the league in points allowed and fifth in the league in field goal percentage defense during the regular season. They like to swarm to the ball when it’s in the paint.

“Every drive to the basket, they have guys not making a play on the ball,” Vogel said, “but sliding in front of drivers. Oftentimes they’re falling down even before contact is even being made. It’ll be interesting to see how the series is officiated.”

The Heat roster does boast the league’s master technician at drawing offensive fouls, Shane Battier. But to suggest that they have the most accomplished group of actors in the league on that one roster is a bold statement.

Surely, Vogel’s statement was intended for the ears of the officials more than it was a direct shot at the Heat. At least we hope that was the case. We’ve all seen the results of bulletin-board material in these playoffs so far … Lakers center Andrew Bynum said something about close-out games being a breeze and the Lakers have lost two straight games since then.

Then again, Vogel’s team has nothing to lose. Most folks don’t have them upsetting the Heat anyway, so if this is his way of raising the stakes a bit for his team, well, more power to him. (With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and crew waiting, the Pacers know they have their hands full.)

As long as he knows what he’s getting his team into!

Pacers Eager To Make Playoff Noise





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – This isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff from the Indiana Pacers.

They are using the tried-and-true method of “Nobody Believes In Us” to shine their own spotlight on themselves as they wrap up the franchise’s best regular season in years.

The Pacers have won six straight games, nine of their last 10 (against a very generous schedule) and have the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference standings on lockdown, and yet there is still hesitation from the basketball-loving public to buy into this team.

There would be no need for these commercials (like the one above) with Pacers’ boss Larry Bird asking for support if the home folks were convinced their blue-collar team was more than just another temporary feel good story (see also: the 76ers of Philadelphia). The trepidation belies the facts, though. The Pacers have given us every reason to believe they are indeed for real.

Look inside the 40 wins and start categorizing the wins in terms of quality and all of the prime suspects are there. The Thunder, Heat, Bulls, Lakers and reigning champion Mavericks have all been vanquished at least once. With no RPI to worry about in the NBA, we don’t normally concern ourselves with a weighted system of measuring wins and losses. But if that’s needed in the Pacers’ case, so be it.

The best part for us, though, is that the Pacers seem to have a firm grasp on the concept of earning their respect the hard way, the old-fashioned way … by making some serious noise in the playoffs.

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Pacers’ West: Time To Keep It Real!





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Pacers acquired David West for more than just his abilities on the basketball court. They added the veteran power forward for his presence, leadership and penchant for staying calm in the midst of a fuss.

A four-game losing streak for an upstart crew like the Pacers would qualify as a mini-fuss, at least. So it should come as no surprise that West spoke up after the Pacers’ latest setback, an ugly loss in Orlando.

He addressed the Pacers’ struggles against playoff caliber teams and reminded his teammates publicly that if they are serious about contending this season, they have to realize that good teams don’t get their doors blown off the way they did against Orlando, telling all that and more to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star:

“We beat up on bad teams, but just can’t compete against the good teams,” West said. “Games we’ve had against playoff-caliber teams, we’ve lost to them. That’s the measure to where we are. We just have to be real about it.”

Yes, the Pacers have impressive road victories over Boston, Orlando, the Lakers, Dallas and Chicago this season.

But all those wins happened by Feb. 3.

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Trade Chatter: Trying To Make Sense Of The Annual Trade Deadline Mess





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’re getting close to crunch time, trade deadline style.

The amount of faulty information that permeates every corner of the basketball universe this time of year is off the charts and has been known to infect even the most responsible of observers.

And that means more names, more rumors and in turn, more foolishness for us all to sort through.

Hawks forward Josh Smith was added to the list of players that have gone on record as asking for a trade request, joining his good friend and the best man in his wedding, Dwight Howard (he was last season destroying the Chicago Bulls on TNT last night). Another member of Smith’s wedding party, groomsman Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics, has also seen his name surface, disappear and resurface again in trade talks at least a dozen different times this season.

This notion that Smith and Rondo could be swapped for each other is laughable, when you consider that they played together their senior season at Oak Hill Academy and have been tight ever since. If anything, it makes sense for them to be lobbying to play together (in Boston?) as opposed to being traded for one another.

But that’s just more fuel for the trade-deadline rumor fire.

One thing is clear, Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard probably won’t be teammates anywhere else but All-Star weekend (provided Howard remains in the Eastern Conference) and at the Olympics.

They both expressed their opinions on the trade deadline drama. Rose has had enough of it all, by the way, telling the Chicago Tribune:

“It definitely is getting old,” Rose said of being asked about Howard. “I’m sick and tired of hearing it. Chicago, marketing-wise is a great city. If someone chooses to come here, they definitely could.

“But I’m cool with the teammates I have. We have a winning record. It ain’t like we need to change anything. It’s not up to me. It’s up to the front office.”

There are zero indications Howard will add the Bulls to his list of teams with which he would sign an extension or that the Bulls are pursuing him.

“If it’s not about the Bulls, I really couldn’t care less about it,” Rose said.

Howard sounded off as well, citing the weather and other issues as to why Chicago isn’t on his preferred list, telling the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Nah, it’s pretty cold here,’’ Howard said when asked about the Bulls rumors.

Nothing says warrior-poet like a player who doesn’t want to chase a ring because of lake-effect snow.

As far as playing alongside the league’s 2010-11 MVP, Howard again couldn’t help but let his true colors shine through.

“I don’t think there’s a player in the NBA who wants to be a nobody,’’ Howard said. “I think everybody wants to be that guy to take the last shot, be that guy that everybody is leaning on for whatever reason, and I don’t think there’s any problem with wanting to be that guy. I’ve been that guy for this team since I’ve been here.’’

Well, that takes care of that!

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Welcome To Recruiting Season

– For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – This is always our favorite part.

Now that you can actually back up the rumors with real, live contact with free agents, we’re going to get a chance to see exactly who is serious about taking home some prizes in this compressed NBA free agency period.

Contact between team officials and players can be made this morning, meaning we no longer have to subsist on a daily diet of unnamed sources and innuendo. With courting season tipping off, we’ll get a chance to see what teams are ready to back up the hype generated in the past week.

If you like Caron Butler or Jamal Crawford, invite them to tour your practice facility and chauffeur them around town like the blue-chip free agent many teams think they are.

If Nene or Tyson Chandler is the big man you must have, the one that will solidify your team’s frontline, now is the time to show them just how much they are needed. Someone has to give these guys a reason to sign here rather than there.

And with the finishing touches on the nuts and bolts of a new collective bargaining agreement still in the works, free agency is going to come down to the same thing it almost always does (aside from cold hard cash, of course) — which team can work it best during recruiting season.

The recruiting season does extend beyond middle, high school and college ball.

Good recruiters are just as valuable at the NBA level, because they know what buttons to push to turn the head of players being pursued from nearly every direction.

The universal opinion that this free agent crop is lacking in franchise talent, a theory that is hard to argue when comparing the 2011 crop to that star-studded 2010 bunch. But that’s what makes the right recruiting pitch even more important — there were only a handful of teams with legitimate shots to land the likes of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire.

What franchise worth its private jet doesn’t think it can lure David West or Kris Humphries with the right recruiting pitch?

On to the madness …

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ROCKETS CHASING A NEW BIG MAN

With the Yao Ming era officially over, might Nene be the man the Rockets tab to replace him in the middle? Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Rockets’ interest will shift to a face-to-face meeting with the Brazilian big man today, one of many in-person recruiting pitches Nene is sure receive before making a decision on his future:

The Rockets’ pursuit of free-agent center Nene will move to a meeting Monday in Denver between the coveted center and Rockets coach Kevin McHale and general manager Daryl Morey, a person with knowledge of the meeting said on Sunday.

Nene is considered the top free agent available and has indicated a desire to leave the Denver Nuggets after failing to reach an agreement on a contract extension before the lockout. The Rockets had tried to work a deal with the Nuggets to acquire Nene prior to last season’s trade deadline.

Morey has also been in talks with the representative of free-agent center Tyson Chandler.

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Labor Talks: Cold Winds Blowing

– For labor updates, follow: @daldridgetnt | @AschNBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Don’t stick that finger in the air.

Not that one, the index finger you might use to gauge which way the NBA lockout winds are blowing. Let us save you the trouble. They’re blowing cold right now. That’s right, ice-cold is the read we’ve gotten on the owners’ 72-game season proposal delivered late Thursday night.

All of the early indications suggest that the players are not interested in accepting the “revised” proposal, the one with the 50-50 BRI split but with many of those pesky “system” issues still a problem for union executive director Billy Hunter, union president Derek Fisher and the men they represent.

The flood of instant reaction, even before the player reps from all 30 teams could make it to New York for Monday’s scheduled meeting with union brass to review the proposal, has been resounding. (That dream Dec. 15 opening night TNT double-header featuring the Heat-Knicks and Lakers-Mavs will vanish if the players punt on this latest proposal).

ESPN The Magazine‘s Ric Bucher identifies some of the elements causing the players to pause before their scheduled gathering:

Once NBA players digest all the details of the owners’ new contract proposal — including a clause that opens a way for more player demotions to the D-League — it’s hard to imagine even those desperate to play would be willing to ratify it, sources told Bucher.

The D-League clause, which previously had not been disclosed, is one of several elements in the owners’ proposal to the locked-out players that prompted one agent to describe the proposal as “draconian.”

The clause would give teams the right to send a player down to the NBA Development League at any time during his first five years, paying him a reduced contract while he’s there, a source who has examined the proposal told Bucher.

Any player sent down to the D-League would be paid at a pro-rated scale of $75,000 a season, which is slightly above the current D-League maximum but roughly one-sixth of the NBA minimum, the source said.

The owners’ new proposal also would prohibit luxury tax-paying teams from sign-and-trade deals after a two-year “phase-in” period, according to sources.

Non-tax-paying teams also would be prohibited from using the mid-level exception if doing so would take them over the salary cap, sources said.

“They don’t want to do a deal,” one agent said of the owners’ proposals. “And what they’ve underestimated is the resolve of the players.”

UPDATE – NBA Commissioner David Stern told our Steve Aschburner Saturday night that there is a wave of misinformation, the item above included, about the proposal being spread by agents trying to stir up the masses.

According to a tweet the NBA’s labor feed fired off at us late Saturday night, Bucher’s info is “incorrect.” There have only been preliminary talks on the D-League/NBA relationship thus far. There is nothing concrete in the latest proposal, as Bucher suggested.

***

The players were sounding their own alarms (via Twitter and elsewhere) throughout the day Friday, as details of the proposal no doubt trickled their way. And they were just as emphatic in their dismissal of any deal deemed unworthy being something they would accept just for the sake of guaranteeing that Dec. 15 start to the season.

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Playoff Picture Taking Shape

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Spurs have the top spot in the Western Conference locked up.

The Hornets’ ticket to the postseason has been punched. The Pacers are in, too. Wednesday night’s action around the NBA cleared up a few outstanding issues in regards to the playoffs.

Things are finally taking shape.

There’s only one spot left, the eighth and final slot in the Western Conference. And the Hang Time Grizzlies have it within their grasp — they can lock up the spot with a win over Sacramento on Friday night.

We still don’t know exactly how the playoff matchups will play out, there is still plenty of jostling being done in the bottom halves of both the Eastern and Western Conference standings. But we could have all 16 playoff teams locked in before the final weekend of the regular season is 12 hours old.

A few notes, quotes and an opinion or two after eyeballing as much of Wednesday night’s action as we could …

Heat Limping Without Wade

All this LeBron James-for-MVP talk has overshadowed an equally impressive season by Dwyane Wade. Just how different are the Heat without Wade in the lineup? They found out last night when they lost to the Bucks while he sat our resting a bruised thigh. The Heat has a 5-8 record when James, Wade or Chris Bosh doesn’t play or doesn’t finish a game due to injury.

ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst offered up a rather pointed analysis of the Heat’s current state of affairs (you can cover your eyes now, Heat fans):

If the Heat win their last four games, their huge free-agent haul will have meant a grand total of 11 more regular-season wins than the expiring free-agent crew Wade carried around all of last season in overachieving purgatory.

Unless the Celtics lose twice and the Heat win out, adding James and Bosh will have earned the Heat a mere two higher seeds in the standings, unimpressively going from No. 5 to No. 3. Indeed, the playoffs are the time for salvation, but the data doesn’t add up to an inspiring projection.

“What does the 2 seed guarantee you?” asked James, who had 29 points and eight assists in the loss.

“It doesn’t guarantee you win the series. … I’m a prime example. The last two years, I have been the first overall seed of everybody, all 16 teams, and it didn’t pay off for us.”

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