Sports Outside the Beltway

Concern over Cuttino Mobley’s heart holds up Clippers-Knicks deal

He was supposed to be part of a four player trade between the two NBA teams. From ESPN-

Zach Randolph was in the Los Angeles Clippers’ locker room Tuesday night. He just wasn’t in a Clippers’ uniform, as the trade between Los Angeles and the New York Knicks was held up by what a source said were concerns about Cuttino Mobley’s heart.

Mobley and Tim Thomas were sent to New York in exchange for Randolph and Mardy Collins on Friday in a deal that gives the Clippers a low post presence in Randolph and gives the Knicks more cap space for the 2010 free-agent market.

Mobley’s and Thomas’ contracts expire before the 2010 season.

The source said Mobley would see a heart specialist on Tuesday. Normally players have 48 hours to report to their new teams and take a physical examination, followed by another 24 hours for all the test results to come in. Because this trade was completed after business hours on Friday, the teams agreed to an additional 24-hour period, which ends at 6:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.

When asked about’s report by reporters after the Clippers game on Monday, coach Mike Dunleavy said: “From the standpoint of Cuttino’s concern, there’s nothing they have or don’t have that hasn’t been known to us or hasn’t been approved by us and all the other teams he’s played for. Neither one of those guys has had any issues with any of the things that are even being talked about.

As someone who lived with a heart defect for 47 years before needing it to be repaired, I can say a heart issue shouldn’t automatically cancel any deal. The Knicks are just being careful, as they don’t want to spend 9 million dollars a year on a player who can’t take part in any games.


NBA Mock Draft

ESPN’s Chad Ford offers the Sports Leader’s take on the impending NBA Draft.

It’s almost draft day, and the picture is getting clearer and fuzzier simultaneously.

We’ve been able to narrow down the list of prospects that each team is considering, but two things stand in the way of getting a complete picture.

One, this is a time when many GMs are notorious for dropping smoke screens. A source in Memphis swears the team is taking Joakim Noah. Another says to bank on the Grizzlies’ taking Mike Conley. Someone is misinformed or bluffing.

Two, there is a flurry of trade conversation, starting with Memphis, Boston, Charlotte and Chicago all talking about trading away their lottery picks. Meanwhile teams such as Golden State, Phoenix and the Lakers are trying hard to move up. Others — like Portland, Indiana and Toronto — are trying to get in or grab another pick.

The talk in Phoenix about trading up in the draft has gotten so hot that the Suns have gotten Noah, Jeff Green and Corey Brewer to agree to a workout on Tuesday. They’ll try to add Brandan Wright as a fourth. That shows you how much players want to play in Phoenix — they’ll drop everything just for the chance. It could be the most competitive workout of the draft.

Their consensus draft board:

    1. Portland TrailblazersGreg Oden – C
    2. Portland TrailblazersKevin Durant – SF – Texas
    3. Atlanta HawksAl Horford – PF – Florida
    4. Memphis GrizzliesMike Conley – PG- Ohio State
    5. Boston CelticsYi Jianlian – PF – China
    6. Milwaukee BucksJeff Green – SF – Georgetown
    7. Minnesota TimberwolvesJoakim Noah – PF – Florida
    8. Charlotte BobcatsCorey Brewer – SG – Florida
    9. Chicago Bulls (via New York Knicks) – Spencer Hawes – C- Washington
    10. Sacramento Kings- Brandan Wright – PF – North Carolina
    11. Atlanta Hawks (via Indiana Pacers) – Acie Law – PG – Texas A&M
    12. Philadelphia 76ersAl Thornton – SF – Florida State
    13. New Orleans Hornets – Nick Young – SG- USC
    14. L.A. ClippersJulian Wright – SF – Kansas
    15. Detroit Pistons (via Orlando Magic) – Rodney Stuckey SG – Eastern Wash.

Click the link for more in-depth analysis and for the second half of the draft.


Greatest NBA Centers Ever

For Shaq’s 35th Birthday ESPN saw fit to rank the top 10 centers of all time and I can’t disagree with #1 at all.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

As for his achievements: 1967-68 USBWA College Player of the Year; 1969 Naismith Award; Six-time NBA MVP; Six-time NBA Champion; Two-time Finals MVP; NBA Rookie of the Year (1970); and NBA Hall of Fame (1995).

Like no other player, Abdul-Jabbar embodied the maestro team brilliance of Bill Russell and the individual excellence of Wilt Chamberlain. His NBA cup runneth over: six championships, a record six MVPs and a Finals MVP award … at 38 years old!

Possessed the single most unstoppable shot in NBA history — the sky hook — but more than that, he was clutch, consistent and underrated in the toughness department.

He was the starting center on six championship teams and had the presence of mind to cohabitate with stars like Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson and James Worthy.

He’s the all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points; was named to the All-NBA Defensive team 11 times; and is the only modern era player to lead the league at least once in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, minutes played, field-goal percentage and PER.

However, in their explanation of choosing Kareem as #1 I believe they left out on of the most amazing things about Kareem’s career. His expected arrival in the college ranks led to directly to a preemptive rule change by NCAA when they banned the dunk after the 1967 season and reinstated it shortly after his departure from UCLA. No other player that I can think of recieved the same treatment. While the rule was made mostly to limit his size advantage, it didn’t slow Kareem down as UCLA went 88-2 while he was a player.

The other thing to ponder about this list would is where Bill Walton would be if he hadn’t the chronic injury problems.

As for the complete list:
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
2. Wilt Chamberlain
3. Bill Russell
4. Shaquille O’Neal
5. Hakeem Olajuwon
6. Moses Malone
7. Bill Walton
8. David Robinson
9. George Mikan
10. Patrick Ewing


Clipper’s Livingston Lost For Season

Despite optimistic early reports an MRI showed that not only did Shaun Livingston dislocate his tibia-femoral and patella, he tore his MCL (medial collateral ligament), ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), and lateral meniscus. For those keeping track it means he tore three out of the four key knee ligaments that hold the knee together (he didn’t tear the LCL [lateral collateral ligament]). For the one piece of good news, Livingston did not damage any nerves or tear an artery (which happened to San Jose State football player Neil Parry and led to his leg being amputated about seven inches below the knee). Livingston will likely face multiple surgeries, many months of rehab and is expect to miss the next 8 to 12 months. I wish him the best of luck on the road to recovery; I’ve seen my fair share of knee ligament tears and what it takes to get your knee back into shape.

Warning: In the link to the ESPN story, they have a video link showing the injury as it happened during the game. It’s not obscene but definitely not for the squeamish, its one of those Theisman-esque injuries.


Former NBA Player Dennis Johnson dead at 52

He was a part of three NBA Championship teams I remember Johnson when he played for the Celtics. The mid-eighties being about the only time I followed basketball. After his playing days were over, Johnson was an NBA assistant coach and for 24 games the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. RIP Dennis.

AP- AUSTIN, Texas – Dennis Johnson, the star NBA guard who was part of three championship teams, died Thursday at 52. “He is deceased and is in our building. He will be autopsied,” said Mayra Freeman, a spokeswoman for the Travis County medical examiner’s office.

Johnson, a five-time All-Star and one of the great defensive guards, played on title teams with the Boston Celtics and Seattle SuperSonics. He had been coaching the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League.

Johnson played 14 seasons, retiring after the 1989-90 season. He was the NBA Finals MVP in 1979 with Seattle, with his other titles coming with Boston in 1984 and 1986.

He averaged 14.1 points and 5.0 assists. When he retired, he was the 11th player in NBA history to total 15,000 points and 5,000 assists. Johnson made one all-NBA first team and one second team. Six times he made the all-defensive first team, including five consecutive seasons from 1979-83.

Johnson was born Sept. 18, 1954, in Compton, Calif. He played in college at Pepperdine and was drafted by Seattle in 1976. Johnson was traded to Phoenix in 1980 and Boston in 1983.


Pat Riley Takes Indefinite Leave of Absence from Heat

Pat Riley is stepping aside as coach of the Heat indefinitely, although he plans to be back in time for the stretch run.

Miami Heat coach Pat Riley will take an indefinite leave of absence because of ongoing hip and knee problems, and top assistant Ron Rothstein will fill his spot on an interim basis.

The 61-year-old Riley disclosed his plans Wednesday, two days before he’ll undergo surgery to remove floating chips in his right knee. He will not be with the team Wednesday night when it hosts the Los Angeles Clippers.

“I’m just tired of the pain and the medication,” said Riley, who said there is no timetable for when he would like to return.

But he insisted he plans to be back with the defending champions.

“I’m going to be displaced for a while, but not disconnected at all,” Riley said.

Riley, who also is the Heat president, is in his 12th season with the organization and 10th year as its coach. He resigned as coach shortly before the 2003-04 season, then returned to the bench in December 2005, replacing Stan Van Gundy and postponing right hip replacement surgery. In September, Riley said he didn’t expect to need the operation this season.

But his condition apparently worsened in recent weeks. He often walks with a limp and has been on medication for the hip.

“I’m tired of the grinding,” Riley said.

I heard the press conference while waiting around to hear the Nick Saban introduction at Alabama (since rescheduled for 11 ET tomorrow). Riley sounds like a broken man. I hope the surgery frees him from the pain.

Additional thoughts from Bill Jempty- Pat Riley either plans to come back or he’s a control freak. Stan Van Gundy, Riley’s predecessor as Heat coach, is essentially getting paid to do nothing. Van Gundy is a consultant, but never has his job been defined by anyone in the organization. Why not put Van Gundy back in control of the team rather than Rothstein?

Especially if one considers Rothstein’s coaching credentials. Miami was an expansion team when Rothstein coached it but then his short time in Detroit wasn’t impressive either.

Riley doesn’t like Van Gundy and probably sees him as a threat if Stan were able to get the underperforming Heat to play well. That’s my take on the situation.

Take all of what I say with a grain of salt. My interest in basketball is very limited other than the Heat.


Yao Ming Breaks Leg (Photo, Video)

Yao Ming’s bone bruise turned out to be much more.

Yao Ming will miss at least six weeks after fracturing the bone under his right knee in Houston’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night. Yao was leaping for a blocked shot as Chuck Hayes and Tim Thomas hit the floor beneath him. Yao’s knee appeared to get caught under Thomas’ body and Yao immediately grabbed his knee and screamed in pain. Yao was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, where an MRI test revealed a fracture of Yao’s right tibial plateau, trainer Keith Jones said.

PHOTO Yao Ming Breaks Leg David J. Phillip/AP Photo Yao Ming winces in pain after injuring his right knee against the Clippers. The Rockets initially said Yao had only suffered a bone bruise. Now, Jones said he hopes the injury will not require surgery. “It’s a non-displaced fracture, so nothing is way out of the way or out of whack,” Jones said. “We think he’ll do well with just rest. An option would be to do something more, but we’re hoping that won’t need to be done.”

Without Yao, the Rockets lost to the Clippers 98-93.

The injury ruins the best start of Yao’s career. He was averaging 27 points and nine rebounds — both career bests — and had topped 30 points in four consecutive games before scoring 22 in Friday’s 97-78 victory at San Antonio.

Truly a shame. I’m at best a casual fan of the NBA but you hate to see great players injured.

ESPN has video here.


Iverson Traded to Nuggets for Joe Smith and Two #1s

Allen Iverson has been traded to the Denver Nuggets, ESPN reports.

The Denver Nuggets have reached an agreement in principle with the Philadelphia 76ers to acquire Allen Iverson, according to NBA front-office sources. The trade, pending league approval, some two weeks after Iverson demanded a trade in Philly, would send Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two 2007 first-round picks to the Sixers for Iverson and perhaps another minimum-salaried player or two. It was expected to be completed later Tuesday barring any snags.

The Sixers had been hoping to take back only expiring contracts in any Iverson deal, unless they were receiving a top-flight young player like Minnesota’s Randy Foye or Shaun Livingston of the Los Angeles Clippers. But with Philly and Denver struggling to find a third team to join in to make the deal more financially enticing for the Sixers, they decided to end an auction that began in earnest when Iverson’s demand to be traded was confirmed by Sixers chairman Ed Snider on Dec. 8.

This deal will bring Philly a former league assist leader in Miller, Smith’s expiring salary of nearly $7 million and those two first-round picks in June — projected to be in the 20s — to go with their own lottery pick. Miller is averaging 13 points and 9.1 assists per game — third-best in the NBA — while Smith, an 11-year veteran, has played little this season, averaging only 13.5 minutes and 5.1 points per game.

The Nuggets’ interest in Iverson dates to last February and has only increased since the Sixers made him available to the whole league earlier this month. Their chief motivation is pairing Iverson with Anthony in coach George Karl’s up-tempo attack, but acquiring Iverson now — just a day after Anthony and J.R. Smith were suspended for 15 and 10 games, respectively, for their roles in Saturday night’s fight with the New York Knicks — gives a much-needed jolt to Denver’s depleted roster.

You’re never going to get equal value for a superstar and the 76ers didn’t. The only consolation is the two 1st round picks, but that seems to matter less in the NBA than any other sport except baseball.


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