Sports Outside the Beltway

Phoenix Suns fire coach Terry Porter after 4 months on the job

He had a record of 28-23 before getting the axe. From AP-

The Phoenix Suns have fired coach Terry Porter, just four months into his first season with the club and the sputtering team barely in playoff contention. Assistant Alvin Gentry was appointed interim coach.

Phoenix (28-23) lost five of eight going into the All-Star break and trails Utah by one game for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

Gentry promised a return to the fast-paced style that best utilizes the team’s talent, particularly the skills of playmaker Steve Nash.

“We are who we are and I think we have to go back to trying to establish a breakneck pace like we’ve had in the past,” Gentry said at a news conference announcing his promotion.

The Suns are the eighth team to fire a coach this season, meaning more than one-quarter of the league’s coaches are gone at the All-Star break.

Most of the eight coaches who lost their jobs were with bad teams and you say their earned the pink slip. The firing of Porter and Maurice Cheeks in Philadelphia look shaky to me. Is four months as head coach with an organization enough time to prove yourself?


Chicago Bulls take Derrick Rose with No. 1 pick in NBA draft

No surprise here.

NEW YORK – The Chicago Bulls selected Derrick Rose with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Thursday night, choosing the Memphis guard over Kansas State forward Michael Beasley.

Rose, a Chicago native, led the Tigers to the national championship game in his lone college season. The Bulls opted for the point guard’s playmaking ability over the scoring and rebounding of Beasley, who ranked in the top three in the nation in both categories as a freshman.

Rose is the Bulls’ first No. 1 overall selection since they grabbed Elton Brand in 1999. He’s the second straight freshman taken with the top pick, following Portland’s Greg Oden last year.


Rose should be an upgrade over Kirk Hinrich, who now could be traded, and gives the Bulls another option if they don’t re-sign guard Ben Gordon.

I have no idea about how good Rose will be or won’t be.

The Miami Heat(I’m from South Florida) made the next selection.

Miami settled for Beasley at No. 2, a pick the Heat considered trading. Beasley averaged 26.2 points, third in the nation, and topped Division I with 12.4 rebounds per game. But with questions about his size — he may be 2 inches shorter than the 6-foot-10 he’s listed at — the Bulls may not have believed he could play the 4 spot in the NBA.

Who misled(or lied to) people about Beasley’s height? Memphis or Beasley himself? I once remember a ML baseball team getting ready to give a former football player a tryout, thinking he was 25 years old. The tryout was cancelled after it was learned he was in his thirties.


Pat Riley steps down as Miami Heat Coach

This comes less than a month after the team had one of its worst seasons ever. From the Sun-Sentinel-

MIAMI – Last place and the Hall of Fame will be the final two stops of Pat Riley’s coaching career.

In a move that took days of deliberation but was hinted at months in advance, Riley announced today he is stepping down as coach of the Heat to concentrate fulltime on what had been his dual role as team president.

The announcement was made at an afternoon news conference at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Assistant coach Erik Spoelstra was named Riley’s replacement. Spoelstra has been with the franchise for 12 seasons.

Born Nov. 1, 1970, Spoelstra becomes the youngest current NBA coach, 69 days younger than Nets coach Lawrence Frank.

In September Riley gets inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, an honor he deserves.

Riley quit coaching the Heat once before in 2004, but came back the following year. As long as the Heat are as bad as they are, Riley won’t be coaching them again. I get the distinct impression Riley can’t stand constant losing. On the other hand if the team looks destined for a title, he’ll step back in. Look what happened with Stan Van Gundy in 2005.

Right now the Heat are a long way from winning anything. They have one certifiable star(Wade) who at the same time is brittle. After that, the team doesn’t have much. Miami is in for a rebuilding project. I wonder if Riley has the patience to see it through as team President.


Shaquille O’Neal wants to be Orlando Magic GM

Once his playing career is over. From the Orlando Sentinel-

BOSTON – Center Shaquille O’Neal was traded from the Miami Heat to the Phoenix Suns last month, but the Orlando Magic — the team with whom he started his high-profile career — never seem far from his thoughts.

Wednesday was no exception.

O’Neal, who was in Boston preparing to play the Celtics Wednesday night, said after a morning practice that he hopes to take over management of the Orlando Magic when he retires as a player following the 2009-10 season.

He also expects to bring Grant Hill — former Magic player and current teammate with the Suns — along to help him.

“Grant will be the team president — he’s a bright guy — and I’ll be the general manager,” O’Neal said. “I’m serious. They need me down there with the new arena coming. Grant and I are coming to do the job.”

O’Neal has talked a few times over the years of returning to Orlando to play — although he said now he will finish his career in Phoenix — and also of returning eventually to become the Orange County Sheriff.

I seem to recall Magic Johnson once saying he wanted to be a US senator. As my wife says, it is nice to dream.


Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade through for the year

The Heat season is dismal, the injured guard might as well take a breather.

Wade is scheduled to undergo a follow-up procedure on his surgically repaired left knee and will miss the rest of the season.

Wade will have a shock stimulation treatment later this week with a specialized machine referred to as an OssaTron, coach Pat Riley said after Monday morning’s shootaround at AmericanAirlines Arena. Heat team physician Harlan Selesnick will oversee the procedure, which is designed to increase blood flow in the knee and limit tendinitis.

After the procedure, Wade must refrain from weight-bearing exercises for 30 days. But Riley said Wade would be allowed to swim, ride a stationary bike and do other conditioning activities.

Wade’s status for the stretch run of the season had been in question since he quietly complained of significant soreness in the knee two weeks ago.

The only questions remaining for the Heat this season- How many games will they win for the year?(I’m betting 17 or under) and will they get the #1 pick in the next NBA draft?


Miami Heat plays Golden State with just 7 players

Do you need me to tell you the result?

MIAMI – The Miami Heat had half a team, and even less of a chance against the Golden State Warriors. Stephen Jackson scored 22 points, Al Harrington added 17, Baron Davis had 15 points and 10 assists and the Warriors eased past the severely shorthanded Heat 134-99 on Friday night, handing Miami its biggest loss of a dismal season.


Miami only had seven available players and was without Dwyane Wade, sidelined by left knee soreness. The Heat played the final 4 1/2 minutes with one available substitute, after Udonis Haslem tweaked a gimpy ankle and retreated to the locker room.

Chris Quinn and Marcus Banks each scored 20 points for the Heat (11-48), who lost for the 30th time in their last 33 games and will take the NBA’s worst record into a doubleheader of sorts at Atlanta on Saturday.

Monta Ellis scored 16 points and Mickael Pietrus finished with 15 for Golden State (38-23), which eclipsed the 100-point mark for the 25th straight game and has won five of its last six. The Warriors also scored more points than anyone managed against Miami all season, topping Chicago’s 126 on Jan. 16.

Shawn Marion had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Haslem finished with 17 points for Miami.

“Knowing they only had seven players, we just wanted to push the tempo,” Davis said.

The Warriors did that with ease.

Jackson made three 3-pointers in a span of 2:09 late in the opening quarter, setting the tone for Golden State’s night. He and Harrington each connected on four 3-pointers in the first half alone, and the Warriors steadily built what was a 63-51 lead at intermission.

If there was any doubt, the Warriors erased it in the third quarter.

Golden State outscored Miami 37-22 in that period, stretching the lead to 100-73 entering the final 12 minutes, during which the Warriors essentially stayed on cruise control. Ellis had 14 points in the third, when the Warriors shot 73 percent (16-22) from the floor.

Wade could only watch helplessly from Miami’s bench.

Since Wade arrived, the Heat are 33-41 without him, 1-9 this season, but he was hardly the only absence of note for Miami in this one.

NBA rules mandate that a team have eight players in uniform for a game, and the Heat met that requirement; Wade and Earl Barron (sore right knee) were the eighth and ninth men in uniform, although neither played. The rest of the 15-man roster was unavailable because of an array of roster moves, suspensions and injuries.

“Taking all volunteers tonight,” Heat coach Pat Riley said.

Including for the head coaching position. It was recently announced that Riley would miss a few upcoming games in order to scout for the next NBA draft. I predict Riley won’t be back as Heat coach in 08-09.

How will the pathetic Heat manage to lose next? Stay tuned.


Kings for a day- Miami Heat defeat Sacramento 107-86

Only the Heat’s second win in over two months.

MIAMI – The sound you heard Tuesday night was not the scant crowd at AmericanAirlines Arena offering its approval of the Heat’s 107-86 victory over the Kings.

Instead, it was the pop of the champagne in Philadelphia, where the 1972-73 76ers were assured of another year of their place in history.

As bad as it has gotten this season, the Heat won’t be the worst team in NBA history.

Instead, broadcaster and former 76ers guard Fred Carter can retain his claim as “the best player on the worst team ever.”

With Philadelphia’s 9-73 infamy of 35 years ago out of the way, the Heat next can concentrate of shedding a different layer of shame, the franchise’s worst finish of 15-67 during its inaugural 1988-89 season.

Call it a gut feeling, but I think Miami will win more than 15 games. Not by much though.


Denver Nuggets edge past the Miami Heat 114-113 in OT

South Florida basketball fans are not having a good time this year. From AP-

MIAMI – J.R. Smith made a career-best eight 3-pointers and scored 28 points, Kenyon Martin added 24, and the Denver Nuggets edged the Miami Heat 114-113 in overtime Tuesday night. Carmelo Anthony scored six of his 22 points in overtime for Denver, which has won three straight.

Dwyane Wade scored a game-high 29 points, but missed a 22-footer at the buzzer for Miami — which has lost eight straight and 23 of its last 24 games.

Wade — who also had 10 assists — made a 3-pointer with 2:36 left in overtime to tie the game at 110, then dove over the first row of seats in a futile effort to grab a loose ball a minute later. On that possession, Anthony Carter made two free throws, putting the Nuggets up by two with 1:26 left.

Anthony added two more free throws with 54.1 seconds to play, and Ricky Davis’ 3-pointer with 33.6 seconds left got Miami within a point. Anthony missed with about 10 seconds remaining, Miami controlled the rebound and Wade dribbled up the left side of the floor to one of his favorite spots.

But the shot rimmed out, and Miami left frustrated once again.

Maybe the Miami Heat need to pay for me to go on a Catholic retreat again in order for the team to win. A Heat victory takes nothing short of a miracle right now.


Miami Heat reported to be shopping around Shaquille O’Neal

Anyone want an aging, often injured, overpaid basketball center who dabbles in police work on the side?

The Heat has told center Shaquille O’Neal’s representation that it is talking about trading him and he should be prepared for the possibility of a deal, according to two officials close to the situation. Phoenix has discussed sending forward Shawn Marion and point guard Marcus Banks to the Heat in return for O’Neal.

Asked for confirmation, one of O’Neal’s representatives said O’Neal has been made aware that discussions with Phoenix are serious and ongoing, but that a deal was not definite.

Dallas also has been mentioned as a potential destination, though the Heat had not immediately informed O’Neal of that possibility.

O’Neal, 35, was shocked by the turn of events, an associate said. O’Neal helped lead the Heat to the 2005-06 championship, but Miami has struggled since, losing in the first round of the playoffs last season and opening this season with a league-worst 9-37 record.


O’Neal, who has been out with a hip injury, has two years left on his contract after this season. He will be paid $20 million each of the next two seasons.

I wish the Heat good luck trying to trade O’Neal. They will need it. O’Neal’s productive days are over with. He also carries an immense salary. I wouldn’t trade for him, but if the rumors are right there are teams out there willing to take a chance. Miami needs to re-build and O’Neal won’t be part of the Heat’s future. May as well move on now if the opportunity presents itself.

AP reports Shaq may be headed to the Phoenix Suns.


New Jersey’s Jason Kidd wants a trade

What will the Nets do with the malcontent point guard? From AP-

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Jason Kidd says he wants to be traded from the slumping New Jersey Nets. “We tried to make this work. We’ve found out it doesn’t,” Kidd told ESPN The Magazine on Monday. “It’s time for us all to move on.”

The Nets, losers of nine in a row, were scheduled to play the Milwaukee Bucks at home Tuesday night. Kidd attended the team’s morning shootaround but did not talk to reporters.

Nets president Rod Thorn did not immediately return a phone message Tuesday.

Trade speculation has followed Kidd since last February when the Nets reportedly were close to making a deal that would have sent him to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Last month, Kidd sat out a game against the New York Knicks with a migraine, a move suspected by some to be a one-day walkout to try and force a trade or new contract.

At a news conference, Kidd denied those were his motives, saying, “I am having one of my best seasons — why would I want to be asked to be traded? And as a team, we are doing better than last year.”

New Jersey was 9-10 at the time. Since then, the team has dropped 16 of 25 games to fall to 18-26.

Truthfully I’d trade Kidd. He isn’t helping the Nuts as much as he is hurting the team. Trade the idiot for two good players. New Jersey won’t be the NBA’s worst afterwards. The Miami Heat have a headlock on that at present.


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