Sports Outside the Beltway

NBA suspends training camps indefinitely

File this under not surprising news-

NEW YORK — The lockout has started doing real damage to the NBA’s calendar.

Players won’t report at the usual time. The preseason won’t start as scheduled.

And more cancellations could be necessary without a new labor deal soon.

Out of time to keep everything intact, the NBA postponed training camps indefinitely and canceled 43 preseason games Friday because it has not reached an agreement with players.

All games from Oct. 9-15 are off, the league said. Camps were expected to open Oct. 3.

“We have regretfully reached the point on the calendar where we are not able to open training camps on time and need to cancel the first week of preseason games,” deputy commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We will make further decisions as warranted.”

The players’ association did not comment.

I don’t expect their to be another NBA game this year. This kind of labor conflict is usually protracted and nothing will get done till the season is on the verge of being lost. As NHL fans know from 2004-2005, even then the dispute can go over the cliff taking a whole season with it.

I have no sympathy for either owners or players. The players are rich and overindulged, the owners of small market NBA teams had to know when going in that they had little chance of making the franchise they were purchasing into NBA Championship contenders/moneymakers.


Too Passive- Philadelphia defeats Detroit 104-94

The New Jersey Nets aren’t the only NBA team struggling this season. From AP-

The Detroit Pistons played with lackluster effort for a half against the Philadelphia 76ers, leading their first-year coach to criticize their intensity and at least one player to agree with him.Det-Phil

Elton Brand matched a season high with 25 points and was one of six double-digit scorers for Philadelphia in a 104-94 victory over the Pistons on Saturday night.

“I thought we were passive at times,” Detroit coach John Kuester said.

That seemed surprising because Detroit has lost 12 straight in its worst slump since April 1994.

It was only two years ago that Pistons last made it to the Eastern Conference finals. Injuries and poor personnel decisions have turned back the clock for the franchise since then. After 12 straight losses they stand at 11-24 for the season. Still a hell of a lot better than New Jersey’s 3-33.


Philadelphia 76ers hire Eddie Jordan to be head coach

He will replace Tony Dileo who was interim coach after Maurice Cheeks was fired. From AP-

Eddie Jordan is the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, leaving Sacramento’s vacancy as the only remaining coaching opening in the league.

Jordan and the Sixers have reached an agreement on a multi-year deal to reunite the former Washington Wizards coach with Sixers president Ed Stefanski after Jordan and Stefanski worked together in New Jersey.

Jordan was the first to interview for the Philly job — which came open May 11 when Tony DiLeo returned to his front-office post after taking over for Maurice Cheeks in December and guiding the Sixers to the No. 6 seed in the East — and the only other candidate interviewed twice by Stefanski besides Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey.

Sources said Jordan was also the top candidate in Sacramento, but it was believed from the start he preferred to land with the Sixers, largely because Philly is coming off back-to-back playoff appearances. The Kings are essentially starting over after going 17-65 last season and coming out of last week’s lottery with the No. 4 overall pick despite finishing with the league’s worst record.

The status of the NBA franchise Philadelphia is obviously much rosier than that of the one in Sacramento. However the 76ers are nothing more than a run of the mill team. Jordan will have to work hard to improve on that and quickly or he could be fired just as fast as Cheeks was. I will grant this- Jordan did achieve a 20 game improvement in his second year in Washington from what the Wizards did in his first year as their coach. Maybe he can do it again.


Interim 76ers coach Tony Dileo returns to the front office

Philadelphia was 32-27 and went to the Playoffs after DiLeo became head coach. From AP-

Philadelphia 76ers interim coach Tony DiLeo has withdrawn his name from consideration for the permanent coaching job.

Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski says DiLeo decided Monday to return to his old job in the front office as a senior vice president and assistant general manager. He says the search for a replacement will begin immediately.

DiLeo replaced Maurice Cheeks after the Sixers stumbled to a 9-14 start. They went 32-27 under DiLeo and earned a playoff spot.

Despite the improvement under DiLeo, the 76ers looked lethargic late in the year before getting bounced from the playoffs by the Orlando Magic in the first round. After the playoffs, some team members offered only lukewarm endorsements of DiLeo.

The Maurice Cheeks firing was a dumb move. While the 76ers played all right for the rest of the 2008-09 season, they aren’t more than a mediocre NBA team at this stage. No matter who the coach is.


76ers fire coach Maurice Cheeks

Another NBA case of blame the coach.

The slumping Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday became the fifth NBA team to make a coaching change before Christmas this season, deciding they had to fire Maurice Cheeks despite extending his contract twice in the past year.

As reported by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, citing sources close to the situation, Cheeks was informed of his dismissal Saturday morning after the Sixers suffered their eighth loss in 10 games Friday night at Cleveland and dropped to 9-14.

The move was officially announced by the Sixers later Saturday. Assistant general manager Tony DiLeo will replace Cheeks on an interim basis. Philadelphia defeated the Washington Wizards behind Elton Brand’s season-high 27 points on Saturday night in DiLeo’s first game.

Philadelphia who isn’t a very good shooting team, has to contend on a regular basis with teams like Boston and Cleveland who are tearing up the league at present. When someone is 22-2, that makes it difficult for other teams to play .500 ball.

The firing of Cheeks is dumb in light of this.

NBA coaching sources told the Sixers were determined to give Cheeks every chance to halt Philadelphia’s slide after picking up his option for this season in February, extending his contract again in September and spending big money in the offseason to sign Brand away from the Los Angeles Clippers and re-sign Andre Iguodala.

No matter how often I see it done, I remain dumbfounded by pro sports franchises and universities to fire coaches with time remaining on their contracts. You pay for someone not to coach.

In light of the way the NBA recycles coaches, I expect Cheeks to pop up somewhere else in league. After all didn’t half the NBA keep rehiring Kevin Loughery in spite of his mediocre track record.


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


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.


A.I. – Last Great Hope for the City of Brotherly Love

Oh, how I hate to write about Philly’s prodigal son. All those naysayers out there, thinking that Mr. Iverson would bring a coveted championship to South Philadelphia, ala Dr. J is now just a mere memory. Hold onto to those jerseys fans, Ebay may be calling soon with a plethora of collectors. Unfortunately for the owners and the fans, this is another in the long line of disappointments to annoint the city known for “almost rans”. Ask all the Eagle fans about that other humanitarian, Terrell Owens. Oh yeh, he’s gone. How about throwing snowballs and hurling obscenities at Santa Claus? Remember that all you docile Philly fans?

I know it’s hard rooting for your teams. The last time any Philly team won was the Philadelphia Phantoms (the Flyers minor league affiliate) – but alas, it’s better than nothing. How bout a cheese steak with that? The woiks. Rocky Balboa is making a comeback – Can you say Rocky VV? Time to unearth the statue after all.

Getting back to A.I. It’s a shame that someone with so much talent can’t find a team to play with at this stage in his career. Oh yeh, I said team. Iverson’s a team of one. Maybe the Knicks would take him to go along with that other talented one-man show, Stephon Marbury. That would be great for the Garden faithful. At least it would be dueling jerseys – not many wins, but hey, who needs that anyway!


76ers to Trade Allen Iverson

The 76ers are trading Allen Iverson.

Allen Iverson is no longer Philadelphia’s headache. Then again, maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, this much is sure: One of the great players in franchise history has likely played his last game for the 76ers. Iverson wants out and Philadelphia will grant his wish.

“It’s just time for him to go his way and for us to go our way,” Sixers chairman Ed Snider said Friday night.

During a bizarre day, Iverson was first banished by the club for two games and then Snider said the Sixers would trade their disgruntled franchise player after he asked to be dealt. It would end Iverson’s 11-year stint with the team that made him the No. 1 pick in the 1996 draft.

The A.I. era is all but over

Quite bizarre. A.I. is the T.O. of the NBA: A great player who is such an enormous pain in the ass as to not be worth it.


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