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ESPN senior writer Marc Stein |
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The Warriors are understandably thrilled to have found a trade-taker so quickly for Stephen Jackson, having privately feared that one more blowup from their disgruntled former captain would have made moving him near-impossible.
Golden State is likewise scoffing at the suggestion -- and rightfully so -- that they should have taken Cleveland's trade offer instead of Charlotte's. The Cavs not only tried to extract a first-round pick from the Warriors as a sweetener for taking on Jackson's three-year contract extension worth nearly $28 million, according to sources close to the situation, but it's believed they also would have asked the Warriors to release Delonte West after completing the trade.
Had Golden State done that deal, even assuming it would have rejected any suggestion of including draft compensation, its only return for Jackson would have been payroll relief in the form of a signed-and-traded Wally Szczerbiak (to a three-year deal with only one season guaranteed) and the long-term savings from waiving West immediately. League rules would have then enabled Cleveland to re-sign West after a 30-day wait, as seen last season when Antonio McDyess went back to Detroit after the Pistons dealt him to Denver in the Allen Iverson deal.
In the Charlotte scenario, Golden State got a player it can actually use this season (Vladimir Radmanovic) as well as some $21 million in long-term savings. The Warriors would naturally prefer to have a healthy Raja Bell, too, but sources with knowledge of Golden State's thinking insist that the Warriors took Bell back knowing full well that season-ending wrist surgery was inevitable for the former Phoenix Suns defensive ace. They like the idea of Bell's bringing some fresh leadership and statesmanship to an unsettled locker room but wanted Bell's $5.3 million expiring contract above all.
Dealing with Charlotte did create a trade exception for the Bobcats worth just more than $3 million that will be good for a year. And there's one more footnote to file away: Jackson can be traded again by the Bobcats through Jan. 16 as long as he's not packaged with another Bobcats player.
After Jan. 16, Charlotte can package Jackson with other players through the Feb. 18 trade deadline. We pass that along just in case adding Jackson doesn't lift Charlotte into playoff contention and the Bobcats decide to make him available to one of the teams (such as Cleveland or San Antonio) Jackson stated publicly that he hoped to join.
Some numbers of note from the West this week:
13: Phoenix has scored at least 100 points in all 13 games this season, which is the NBA's longest such streak since Chicago and Golden State did so in their first 19 and 18 games, respectively, in the 1991-92 season. The Suns haven't had a streak like this to start a season since 1988-89, when they hit triple digits in each of their first 20 games.
20: Portland's Brandon Roy has scored 20 points or fewer in eight of his past 10 games. Even stranger, Roy made 42 trips to the free-throw line in three games played in October and has since made just 46 trips to the line in 10 games played in November.
1,010: That's how many points separate Jerry West (25,192) from Kobe Bryant (24,182) on the Lakers' all-time scoring charts after Bryant became the No. 2 scorer in team history Thursday night with 21 points in L.A.'s rout of Chicago. Bryant also became one of just three players in NBA history with at least 100 40-point games this week, reaching triple digits his 40 points Tuesday in a home win over Detroit. Only Wilt Chamberlain (271) and Michael Jordan (173) are ahead of him on that list.
2.6: Entering Thursday's win over the Bulls, Bryant was averaging 2.6 buckets per game from the 10-to-15-foot range this season. That's nearly double Bryant's average of 1.4 last season and reflects his increased reliance on post-ups.
14: Denver has won 14 consecutive regular-season home games, dating back to last season, entering the weekend.
Q: After the season you had in Indiana, how unexpected was it to end up in Toronto in free agency?
A: The free-agent market is something that you don't really choose. It kind of chooses you. When I looked at the free-agent market, I didn't think Toronto was a team that would come courting me because obviously they play Jose [Calderon] so many minutes. I thought they pretty much had their backcourt situation set and [that] they were going to bring back Anthony Parker. But they made some room for me and the opportunity presented itself.
Q: I know it's been kind of an up-and-down start but how do you see your role evolving with this team?
A: I think they wanted some toughness and wanted to find people that can bring some scoring off the bench. And I think I bring both of those qualities. They just kept telling me [back in July] that even if they didn't play Jose and me together that there could be room for me at the 1 or the 2 spot.
Q: What's your reaction when you hear people talk about your presence here helping the Raptors hang onto Chris Bosh?
A: It's going to take more than me to keep Chris here. It's going to take us playing well, us playing at a very high level, if we're going to keep a player of his caliber here.
Q: But your presence can only help, right?
A: I think so. Any time you can get together with someone on a daily basis that you're close with -- someone you can actually call a friend and not just a co-worker -- I think that helps anywhere. If you were in a position where you were thinking about leaving and they brought in your best friend to work side-by-side with you every single day, I think it would help.
Q: You guys were that close at Georgia Tech?
A: We were roommates. First time away from home, growing up, getting a sense of independence we went through that transition together.
[But] he was just as surprised as I was when I told him the news about me possibly coming [to Toronto]. He was really happy. And when it finally went down it seemed like a surreal situation.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The Suns' Jason Richardson, like LeBron James and anyone else who might consider switching from No. 23 to a new number next season, would have to formally request that change through the league by March 5. (See Box 7.)
|Player||New No.||Old No.|
|Chauncey Billups (Nuggets)||1||7|
|Jordan Farmar (Lakers)||1||5|
|Tracy McGrady (Rockets)||3||1|
|Nate Robinson (Knicks)||2||4|
|J.R. Smith (Nuggets)||5||1|
|Martell Webster (Blazers)||23||8|
This season's 13 players who currently wear No. 23(Listed in alphabetical order) Devin Brown (Hornets)
Celtics executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge was adamant Wednesday in a radio interview with Boston's WEEI-AM that he is not close and never was close to joining Philadelphia and Sacramento in a three-team deal that would bring Andres Nocioni to the Celts.
So unless that changes, Philadelphia and Sacramento will have to find another third party to help them complete a deal they've been exploring that would essentially swap Samuel Dalembert for Kenny Thomas.
ESPN.com reported Tuesday that the Sixers and Kings -- in talks described as exploratory -- tried to recruit Boston to be the third team in a deal that would send Philadelphia's Dalembert to Sacramento and Thomas' $8.8 million expiring contract from the Kings back to the Sixers.
According to NBA front-office sources, Philadelphia and Sacramento initially discussed a deal featuring Dalembert and Thomas, but the Kings wanted the Sixers to take back Nocioni instead of Thomas' cap-friendly contract. The search then began for a third team, with Boston inevitably targeted after the Celtics' widely reported interest in Nocioni around the trade deadline in February as soon as Sacramento first acquired the rugged Argentine from Chicago.
Ainge, though, insists that he is not talking with either team.
As our initial report stated, just as in February, Nocioni's contract would make it very hard for the Celts to join in even if Ainge wanted to proceed. The Celts have had a need for a versatile forward since the free-agent departure of James Posey, but Nocioni has two seasons worth $13.5 million on his contract after this season as well as a team option worth $7.5 million for 2012-13. That's a big expenditure for another role player after Boston just signed Rajon Rondo to a lucrative extension and with decisions about the futures of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen looming.
Yet Philadelphia remains determined to move Dalembert, who's earning just over $12 million this season and is scheduled to earn $12.9 million next season. Dalembert's agent, Marc Cornstein, has had the blessing of Sixers management since February to help assemble a workable deal after the Sixers said they would try to honor Dalembert's request to be traded.
The Kings have shown a fluctuating level of interest in adding Dalembert as a third big man to a frontcourt rotation headlined by youngsters Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes. To make a three-teamer with Boston work, Sacramento would have been required to send Thomas to Philadelphia along with Boston's Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine. The Kings would have received Dalembert and Boston's J.R. Giddens, with the Celtics getting Nocioni.
One source close to the situation insists that Philly is still prepared to move Dalembert -- if it can fetch payroll relief through expiring contracts in return -- even after the recent injury to Marreese Speights sliced into the Sixers' frontcourt depth.
Some numbers of note from the East this week:
1: After grabbing 15 boards in Thursday's loss to the Lakers, Chicago's Joakim Noah has failed to reach double digits in rebounds only once in 11 games this season. Tops in the league in rebounding at 12.6 rips per game at this early juncture, Noah is trying to become the first Bull to lead the NBA in rebounding since Dennis Rodman did it three times in the 1990s.
18: Since Rodman's rookie season in 1986-87, Detroit's Ben Wallace has recorded 18 games with at least 10 rebounds and zero points -- including Wednesday's zero and 12 in Portland -- which is second only to Rodman's 27 such games in that span.
4: Just as a reminder of the damage he could once inflict -- or maybe provide Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings with a new target -- allow us to bring up Allen Iverson's four consecutive games with at least 40 points late in his rookie season. Still searching for his fifth NBA team after the Knicks decided against signing him, Iverson scored 44, 40, 44 and 50 points in that streak in April 1997.
12: Al Harrington has a dozen 20-point games in his 15 reunions with Indiana, including Harrington's 26 points Wednesday in New York's big comeback road victory over the team that drafted Harrington in 1998. Harrington's career scoring average of 22.9 points against Indy is his highest against any opposing team.
17.4: Indiana's Dahntay Jones awoke Friday morning averaging 17.4 points per game with his new team after averaging 5.4 points last season with Denver.
If not the Knicks, then where?
Where can Allen Iverson go to ensure that his final NBA act is not a three-game stint with the Memphis Grizzlies -- all road games -- during which he averaged just 12.3 points per game?
There honestly appears to be no answer for that one.
Not a single team besides the Knicks has shown any interest in scooping Iverson up since he left Memphis and cleared waivers. If that landscape doesn't change, A.I.'s earnings for the season will amount to the $437,609 he earned from the Grizzlies, leaving the rest of his original $3.1 million contract from the Grizzlies behind to become a free agent.
I suppose there's always a chance that someone will get desperate as the playoffs approach and consider taking a gamble on Iverson's veteran know-how and what's left of his scoring ability provided Iverson is willing to accept what would inevitably be role-player minutes.
But when the Knicks ultimately take a pass -- given that Iverson is still an undeniable upgrade on Chris Duhon and given New York's clear desperation to give fans something approaching entertainment to survive the long slog ahead until 2010 free agency arrives July 1 -- you really start to believe that Iverson's NBA options might be exhausted.
Of the 90 current members in the Basketball Hall of Fame who played in the NBA, only two -- Walt Bellamy (one game for New Orleans in 1974-75) and Walt Frazier (three games for Cleveland in 1979-80) -- played three games or fewer in their final NBA season. If Iverson ever reaches the Hall and this indeed turns out to be his NBA farewell, we'll have to add him to that list.
In his weekly visit with the NBA on ESPN Radio pre-game show, Marc Stein joins host Marc Kestecher to discuss several of the latest developments around the league, including the Knicks' original motivations for the since-canceled pursuit of the suddenly available Allen Iverson, Atlanta's rise to the top of the ESPN.com NBA Power Rankings and the impact of Travis Outlaw's injury in Portland.