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.


Defense rests- Phoenix beats Minnesota 152-114

The Suns scored the most points in a NBA game this season. From AP-

It’s an NBA law of physics: Put the highest-scoring team in the league against arguably the worst defense and watch the scoreboard light up like the Fourth of July.

Jason Richardson scored 27 points and Amare Stoudemire 25, then sat with the rest of the Phoenix starters while the Suns’ reserves finished off a 152-114 rout of Minnesota on Monday night in the highest-scoring game by an NBA team this season.

Lou Amundson matched his career high with 20 points as Phoenix sent the Timberwolves to their 10th straight loss and 16th in the last 17 games.

The Suns, with eight players in double figures, shot 56 percent from the field and 15 of 31 from 3-point range to win their ninth in 12 games.

Minnesota is 14-54 this year. Which makes them not a whole lot better than New Jersey who is 7-60 and trying to avoid setting a new mark for the worst record in NBA history.


Keep digging- Indiana beats Phoenix 122-114

For the second consecutive game, the Pacers overcame a twenty plus point deficit. From AP-

Indiana’s formula for victory this week has been simple: fall behind by more than 20 points, then stage a frantic rally to win.

Danny Granger scored 33 points, Mike Dunleavy added a season-high 30 and the Pacers overcame a 24-point deficit to beat the Phoenix Suns 122-114 on Wednesday night.

It has been a pretty impressive week for the Pacers. For the second straight game, Indiana trailed by more than 20 points in the second quarter and won.

It was the second straight game the Pacers trailed by more than 20 points in the second quarter and won. Indiana was down 23 against Toronto on Monday night before rallying for a victory.

“One of these days, we’ll get a lead,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “That’s another tremendous, gutsy comeback for our team.”

The biggest comeback seen in the 2009-10 NBA season was when Sacramento rallied from 35 points down to beat Chicago.

Last night’s loss was a painful one for the Suns in more than one way.

Watson elbowed Nash on a drive to the basket with just over four minutes left in the first quarter. A Suns spokeswoman said a tooth went through Nash’s upper lip. He received four stitches on his upper lip and three on the inside of his mouth.

Pardon the pun, but I think Nash and the Suns will make a quick rebound from their loss to Indiana.


Minnesota Timberwolves report trade before it’s completed

Not only sports websites are reporting news this month that isn’t true. From AP-

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ trade of backup point guard Jason Hart didn’t exactly go as smoothly as planned.

Hours after mistakenly letting a release leak on the team Web site announcing a trade with New Orleans that never came to fruition, the Timberwolves did ship Hart out after all, to the Suns.

Instead of ending up with Devin Brown from the Hornets, the Wolves landed Alando Tucker, a second-round pick and cash considerations from Phoenix.

Timberwolves president David Kahn was in talks with the Hornets about acquiring Brown, a 6-foot-5 guard shooting a career-high 41 percent from 3-point range this season. The Hornets were looking to dump Brown’s $1.1 million salary and the Wolves needed perimeter shooting.

Kahn went so far as to prepare a statement for the deal.

“Jason has been the consummate professional during his time with us, but it was a rare opportunity to add a proven player with 3-point shooting capabilities that will help our offense,” Kahn said. “Devin should be a nice addition to our team defensively, as well. He has a reputation as a tough kid and hard-nosed defender.”

Just one problem — the deal wasn’t done. The release somehow found its way into cyberspace, and the trade never materialized. So it was removed from the site and the Wolves eventually announced a deal with the Suns for Tucker, a 6-6 forward that has had trouble finding playing time in three seasons in Phoenix.

“All I know is we were in conversations with teams,” Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said before Minnesota’s game at San Antonio on Tuesday night.

Ted Johnson, Timberwolves senior vice president for communications and chief marketing officer, said the release on Brown appeared on a “dead” Web page.

Here is one vital thing I’ve learned in my other three years of blogging at OTB Sports. Don’t write posts till ‘news’ is official. I get most of my sports reports from ESPN. Much of ESPN’s reporting starts ‘Sources say…..”. The source is always another media outlet and the ‘news’ a unconfirmed report in regard to some sports team or athlete. I’ve made it a practice in the last year, to avoid blogging these reports till the news becomes official. If it ever does.

What happened with the Minnesota Timberwolves arose out of human error and had no other other motivation than to keep its fan informed. The mistakes made by the media in regards to the Tiger Woods have stemmed from the competition to be first in reporting ‘news’ about the golf star. Too many media outlets are reporting without the slightest bit of background checks and like today, a local television station in Florida is reporting something that is discredited for at least two days.


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?


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 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.


Miracle in Minneapolis- Timberwolves beat Suns 117-107

The wolves have won two in a row now. From AP-

MINNEAPOLIS – Al Jefferson and the Minnesota Timberwolves believe they’re headed for better days. Beating the Phoenix Suns — again — is surely a decent sign of progress.

Jefferson had a career-high 39 points and 15 rebounds, and the Timberwolves won two in a row for the first time this season, 117-107 over the Western Conference leaders on Wednesday night.

“I think they have kind of turned the corner,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Amare Stoudemire led Phoenix with 33 points, but only 19 of them came in the last 43 minutes. The Suns, whose 30-13 record is behind only Boston for league supremacy, had their four-game winning streak stopped.

If the Timberwolves can win two in a row maybe the Miami Heat can too. First Miami will have to win a single game, right now they have lost 14 in a row and with Shaq out for at least two weeks, a single triumph seems fleeting at this moment.


How about those 0-5 Miami Heat

Being a masochist seems to be essential at present if you’re a South Florida sports fan. From the Miami Herald-

For 43 minutes, Shaquille O’Neal, Jason Williams, Udonis Haslem and Ricky Davis pushed the NBA’s worst offense into high gear to stay with the Suns. Then Steve Nash hit his stride.

Nash scored 11 of his team’s final 13 points and rallied the Suns from a five-point deficit late in the fourth quarter to beat the Heat 106-101 on Friday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

For a while the Heat, which came in averaging a league-worst 82.9 points per game, beat the Suns at their preferred up-tempo pace and led 86-81 with less than 10 minutes left.

But Nash took over with his deep shooting and produced a flawless finish. He scored 14 of his game-high 30 in the fourth, and made all five of his field-goal attempts, including four three-pointers.

That performance overshadowed the most productive effort of the season for the Heat (0-5), which continues to struggle as it waits for leading scorer Dwyane Wade to return from May knee and shoulder surgeries.

I’ll be the first to admit, I hardly follow basketball. My father(who youth coached Notre Dame and New York Knick basketball player Toby Knight) had a saying about this sport. “If you don’t watch a game till the last five minutes, you’re not missing much.” That can be said about the whole Heat season so far. As Matt Watson via Rick at SOTP points out, the Heat are 0-18. Five regular season games this year, all seven exhibition games prior to the season, a first round playoff sweep by the Chicago Bulls last spring, and the last two games from the 06-07 season. If you thought the Dolphins are bad enough, now South Floridians have the Heat too. Not to mention the underperforming Florida Panthers. Maybe I should switch allegiance back to the team of my youth. Oops, the New York Jets are 1-7. What’s a man to do?


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.


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