Thursday, August 31, 2006

NBA News : Around the traps

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A few news items floating around today.
  • The Hawks officially have announced their signing of Lorenzen Wright, which everyone knew about a couple of weeks ago. Wright returns to the Team of Swingmen (aka the Atlanta Hawks) after a 5 year stint with the Grizzlies - a team that has been stacked with forwards in recent years, meaning limited playing time. He'll be pleased to come to a team which definitely will have minutes for him. Billy Knight says "Lorenzen's addition really upgrades our frontcourt." Ouch... any team saying that about the signing of Wright is definitely in dire straits.
  • The Answer is being sued $4.2 million for hiring bodyguards, claimed to be "dangerous individuals." According to the article, Iverson's security firm is called The Horsemen. I thought that was what LeBron called his crew... Maybe AI should save himself the trouble and just get himself Charles Oakley as his bodyguard like Michael Jordan does.
  • Charles Barkley is always good value. The Round Mound of Rebound, who dominated All-Interview teams during his career is now continuing to stir headlines with his policies in the lead-up to a potential run at being elected as Governor of Alabama. This time he's been on TV saying that he advocates same-sex marriage. Whether you agree with Sir Charles or not, the refreshing thing about him has always been his willingness to speak his mind, in an age of sports stars who give manufactured answers. If you haven't picked his book up before, Outrageous is a great read.
  • Yesterday news broke that the Bay Area will see Don Nelson again. That's right, Golden State is rocking it like it's 1994 with the announcement that they are hiring him back as coach of the Warriors. Opinions vary wildly on how this will pan out. One thing is for sure, the Warriors have been disappointing and underachieving of late and this can only be a chance worth taking. Nelson was the last coach to take the team to the playoffs, 12 long years ago with a team consisting of Tim Hardaway, Latrell Sprewell, Chris Mullin, Billy Owens and Chris Webber. The current team fits this run'n'gun mould nicely, so who knows? The executive team even has a bit of Run TMC flavour with Mullin, Rod Higgins and Mitch Richmond on the staff.
  • In other news, it's good to see this Blazer fan having some success on the rap circuit, without the rap-sheet to go along with it.

Things are pretty quiet on the Blazer front at the moment -- the season can't come soon enough to see how this new squad looks.

NBA Live '07 : PSP Edition

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Relief! It sounds like the guys at EA Sports have realised how much the PSP version of NBA Live '06 resembled the mechanics of a Bill Cartwright jumpshot and brought their 'A' game for the soon to be released version.
This blog by the Lead Producer of the PSP version gives us an insight into what is to come for '07. It seems that previously the PSP verison suffered the same fate as the XBox 360 version of '06 in that EA rushed to release the game on a relatively new platform, with poor results. First of all, my thoughts on the short-comings of the '06 version, which I hope have been improved:

- Substitutions: the CPU does not appear to be programmed to make substitutions at all, so their starters end up playing the entire game and being exhausted in the 4th quarter.

- Dynasty mode: one of the key attractions of NBA Live is the deep Dynasty mode, nurturing a franchise through many seasons, developing players and drafting as-yet unknown rookies - the fact that Live '06 did not include this severely limited its longetivity.

- Limited AI: point guards (and to a lesser extent shooting guards) have a high propensity to drive to the basket and rack up high scoring averages. The artificial intelligence (AI) of the game is geared in the wrong way in this respect - problems also are evident in some fast break situations where the CPU will hold up play needlessly. The fact that there are no sliders available (which are available in the console and PC versions) to adjust parts of the AI such as this really disappointed.

- Roster updates: as with the console versions, there is no ability to download roster updates through sites such as on the PSP version. One of the main attractions of the PC version for me is the ability to update rosters in tune with what is actually happening out there. The fact that the PSP has a USB link and access to memory sticks should mean updates would be possible - well, I would have thought so anyway.

Enough of the negatives. So what has been addressed in NBA Live '07 on the PSP? According to the IGN Blog linked above, we get the following:

- Dynasty mode with many of the deep features of the console versions (phew!)

- Link to PS2 - meaning that you can play at home on the console, then save the files across to your PSP and go mobile...

- New mini-games - these are often the best features of handheld versions of games, giving a different experience to the console version and this is no exception, with "2 Ball" and "Handles."

- MP3 music can be played during the game directly from your memory stick

- ESPN integration when you go online - though I don't see much purpose in this as it would only be active when you are hooked up via the USB

Many of the other new features that are coming to all versions of Live '07 will be here on PSP too -- for more on those, have a look here.

Let's hope it lives up to the hype.

Sprewell : All choked up

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... and calling to the stand special expert witness, PJ Carlesimo.

Latrell Sprewell has been accused by a woman he was having sexual relations with on his boat, of strangling her. In an incident reminiscent of his 1997 attempted strangling of then Golden State coach Carlesimo, Spre allegedly left red marks on the woman's neck.
Sprewell, also famous for his remarks that he needs big NBA contract money to "feed his kids", may need even more money now to pay the legal fees. There is still no word on any team being likely to agree to his contract demands for the 2006-07 season however.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Old School Flashback

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A quick flashback to happier times in the Blazer franchise, 15 years ago, in the days of Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter:

Bench Renaldo: Carnival of the NBA #35

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Head over to Bench Renaldo, where they're hosting the Carnival of the NBA, with all of the accompanying craziness:

Bench Renaldo: Carnival of the NBA #35

Rose Garden Refurbishment

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The Rose Garden has just undergone a refurbishment to its corporate suites to give the cronies who turn up not to watch the game, but watch each other, a reason to pay their fees each year. A new bar -- 60 feet long -- is included in the deal. Hopefully this season will provide a little less reason to drown one's sorrows at the game.

Well, since the Rose Garden Bar has gone under the knife, maybe we'll have to do the same here soon at the Rose Garden Blog, in preparation for the beginning of the season. Facelift to come...

Also of (possibly more) interest in the article above, on page 2, are details of the financial arrangements that Paul Allen has made with the Rose Garden in the past. Interesting reading for those not totally up-to-date on that situation.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Zach Randolph : where's your head at?

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Zach Randolph is guilty.
Guilty of poor judgement.
Guilty of living in an age where professional basketballers have control over ridiculous amounts of money.
Guilty of having the ability to control a franchise that signs him to such a contract -- and not giving a damn if he destroys it.
Whether or not Randolph gets convicted of any wrong-doing in this sex-scandal that he was "involved" in, the Blazers need to clear his dead wood out of the franchise.
This past Summer we see Zach working hard, training like a madman for the coming season. The Blazers, like us, hoped that this was a sign of good things to come. A fresh team with some exciting new blood could be the thing to focus Zach on what he's paid all those millions for, right?
As John Canzano puts it, there's no way the Blazers can retain a guy who is going to find himself stupid enough to get involved in these sorts of situations. Whether Zach so much as committed a small misdemeanour is irrelevant. The fact is, anyone with an ounce of common sense knows how this situation could be misconstrued and should not have gotten themselves in the situation to begin with. He needs to find himself some new friends, some new hobbies (shooting and pit bulls - forget about them) and the Blazers need to find him a new team.

Clyde the Glide : "Video Game Character"

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I was just reading this interview with Clyde Drexler, which dates back to March.
Clyde says some interesting things about Kobe, the attitude of players today and about video games.
He says there were plenty of games where he could have challenged for 81 points, had he played in the 4th quarter (rather than resting for the next game) and had he taken as many shots as what Kobe does. On a team that included guys like Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey and Kevin Duckworth -- who all did their share of scoring -- Clyde was in a very different scenario to the modern day Kobe. Then again, so were a lot of guys back then. MJ, Dominique and co could all have attempted to score more than what they did, but the concept of team was something different back then.
That said, with Glide's usual class, he doesn't say a bad word about Kobe. But you know what he's thinking.

Friday, August 25, 2006

World Championships : USA v Australia Preview

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Sunday 1pm (Japan time) sees Team USA take on the Australian Boomers. Check here for your local time on the match.
USA has gone through Pool D undefeated and thus meets Pool C's 4th place, an Australian team led by Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut and former Vancouver Grizzlies (1997) draftee CJ Bruton.
Bogut will likely lack interior support against the USA frontline including Elton Brand, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh. The Australian team, decimated by injuries to key big men, including reigning Australian NBL MVP Chris Anstey, who was also drafted in 1997 - by the Trail Blazers. In addition, former Boomers captain Matt Nielsen currently playing in Lithuania, has been unable to obtain reasonable insurance to cover his club contract and will be unable to compete.
However, the athleticism of key swingmen Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and point guard Chris Paul will likely spell the biggest advantage for Team USA. Outside of Bruton, Australia does not have an experienced backup PG, with Baylor Bears' Aaron Bruce being the main candidate to see some minutes. Experienced campaigners at SG and SF, Jason Smith and Sam MacKinnon, whilst being athletic, do not have the measure for Team USA's young guns.
Off the bench for Australia, potential 2007 NBA Draft candidate Brad Newley is worth watching for his explosive scoring. Joe Johnson and Kirk Hinrich will serve as a lesson to the young Australian looking to make his mark for an entry to the NBA.
In a show of new humility for Team USA (at least publicly), LeBron has come out and said that Australia is "pretty good." That's superstar speak for, "we're going to kill them."

NBA Live '07 : Bringin' it like Todd Fuller

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According to this article from IGN, NBA Live '06 on XBox 360 stank like Todd Fuller. Now that's just not fair on Mr Fuller... after all, he is set to tear it up this season in Australia's National Basketball League, playing for the South Dragons under former Cav, Mark Price.
There definitely are some serious improvements though, as the article points out. From ESPN Integration in the game, to animations -- both on the court and on the sideline -- and an enriched Dynasty mode, '07 should see a return of the franchise.
I just can't understand however, if this screenshot of Stromile Swift playing for the Grizzlies is from his coming stint with the team or his previous one...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Trivia : Team USA vs Italy

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Here's a trivia question : Which former Trail Blazer held the Team USA record for points in a World Championship game until Carmelo Anthony broke that today vs Italy with his 35?

The answer can be found in the game report of USA's comeback victory over Italy.

Anthony has been a leader for Team USA in the current World Championships in Japan, as they now are undefeated in 4 matches. Their final match is against Senegal on Thursday.

LaMarcus Aldridge surgery

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The news that LaMarcus Aldridge will require minor surgery on his shoulder is a worrying one for Blazer fans. Surgery on the No. 2 pick in the Draft is not exactly the type of news that you want leading up to the start of the season.

There has been no word as to how the injury occurred, or when. I would hope that it was not a pre-existing injury which has only just been discovered. The team doctors will determine how long Aldridge will be out for after the surgery has been completed.

At this stage it is best to get this surgery out of the way as the frontcourt is already loaded and the Blazers are certainly not short on bodies with Zach Randolph, Jamaal Magloire, Joel Przybilla and Raef LaFrentz heading up the depth chart at PF/C.

Player Movement : Harrington finally goes to...

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...the Indiana Pacers! In a surprise to absolutely noone, forward Al Harrington has been traded from the Atlanta Hawks, along with dead-weight C John Edwards to the Pacers, in exchange for a 2007 first-rounder.
The move has been anticipated for a while and negotiations have been dragged out around Harrington firing his agent and hiring a new one. The move improves the Pacers vastly and means that he can be used at PF in a smaller run'n'gun offence with Jermaine O'Neal at C if necessary.
Meanwhile for Atlanta, this will mean more playing time for Marvin Williams as he continues to develop, as well as high-flying defender Josh Smith. The sign-and-trade suits both teams and there was little chance of Harrington going elsewhere (Golden State was a consideration at one point).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Artest doesn't regret

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Ron Artest has told kids that you should protect yourself. If someone throws a cup of drink at you, bash them. Just don't try this at home, kids...

NBA Live 07 : Update #4

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Here's the most comprehensive interview yet on NBA Live 07 at
The new release -- due to ship in the US on September 25 -- certainly is exciting. It's absolutely packed with new features and improvements on the previous version. Read the article to get all of the details -- there are too many developments!
The amount of profiling that the guys at EA have done to get realistic player animations sounds phenomenal. Even Josh Childress has a custom jumpshot! There are now 73 individual player ratings (up on 25 last year).
Momentum is now a significant factor in games and should your team make a huge run you might even see your high-flying Freestyle Superstar doing the Dee Brown eyes-covered dunk. The Dynasty mode seems significantly deeper this season too.
If you just can't wait to get into the game, there's a link down the right-hand side of this page to pre-order it through

Player Movement : Voskuhl / Outlaw / Wilcox

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Today the Seattle Sonics re-signed Chris Wilcox for 3 years - a move I'm sure they are relieved to have made. Wilcox showed impressive signs after moving across from the Clippers and is quite a handy backup big man with promising athleticism.

Bo Outlaw has been re-signed by the Orlando Magic - presumably as the standard "veteran locker room presence." The Magic no doubt need this sort of presence with all of the youngsters on the squad.

The Charlotte Bobcats have also signed centre Jake Voskuhl for two seasons.

Lonny Baxter arrest

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Former Bobcat and Bull Lonny Baxter was arrested in the early hours of this morning after gun-shots were allegedly fired from his car in the vicinity of the White House.

Maybe like Rasheed Wallace, he just doesn't like George Bush. Wallace once said, upon meeting Bush, "I didn't vote for him. I'm not excited at all, it's just part of the thing."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Shaq leans toward Li Ning

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Really - what is the point?

Shaquille O'Neal has just inked a deal with Chinese sportswear company Li Ning to produce a signature shoe for the Big Aristotle in China. Shaq is just the second NBA player to sign on with the apparel company after Damon Jones did so last year. The ridiculous thing about this whole venture? They are only producing 320 pairs of his signature shoes, which can be pre-ordered...

In a country of 1.3bn people, how does this make sense? It reeks of the NBA trying to drum up more publicity in China. The league is currently making serious attempts to move into the Chinese market with murmurings of massive staff numbers being setup in the country. Hey, Shaq's not stupid either -- he sees the potential for his own popularity growth in China too after Tracy McGrady's successful shoe launch there last year made him the number 1 selling jersey in China.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Award with no winner

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Nice little narrative today by John Canzano of the Oregonian on the welcoming of Jamaal Magloire to the Blazers and the pressure this now puts on Zach Randolph to perform. This move, one which overstacks the PF/C position with depth could be the greatest masterstroke of all by Blazers management this off-season.
If the sudden depth of the Blazers forces Z-Bo and newly re-upped Joel Przybilla to perform at the top of their abilities every night, for fear of looking over their collective shoulder at Magloire and top rookie LaMarcus Aldridge -- and to a lesser extent Raef LaFrentz -- then it could prove the Blazers to be big movers this season.
I don't think for a second that the Blazers become a force to be reckoned with in the West, but at least an effort big enough to force their way into the playoffs would be a season considered a success -- and a great building block for the future.
Now, the question is, if the Blazers do out-perform expectations and it can be put down to the tremendous off-season of draft picks and trades, who do you name GM of the year? Given that the Blazers do not even have a named GM at the moment, it could be an award without a winner. If a new GM is named during the season and his name is not Pritchard, it would be a bit erroneous to give him the award. But, I'm getting ahead of myself...
Bring on November 1.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

NBA Live 07 : Update #3

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New NBA Live 07 screenshots released today for the XBox version, including one of Brandon Roy.

Player Movement : Patterson dealt to Bucks for Smith

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It looks like the Milwaukee Bucks are trying to construct a team of Portland Trail Blazers bench players. Today the Bucks traded Joe Smith to the Denver Nuggets for Ruben Patterson.
The former No.1 overall pick, Smith continues the reshuffle of the Bucks' frontcourt, in an apparent move to make room for (the No.1 pick 10 years after Smith) Andrew Bogut to establish himself. The Bucks frontcourt will now consist of Bogut starting at centre, backed up by Dan Gadzuric and newly acquired Charlie Villaneuva starting at power forward, with former Blazer Brian Skinner on the bench.
Patterson was targeted by the Bucks to shore up the small forward position and bring them closer to their goal of being able to put a five on the court of former Blazers. With Steve Blake at the point, Patterson at SF, Skinner at PF and Ha Seung-Jin at C, the logical next step would be to trade for Juan Dixon - right?

Like I was saying yesterday...

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Eddie Johnson (the non-accused one) is getting a lot of bad publicity over the incident which involves the arrest of another former NBA star by the same name. You've got to feel for the guy.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Former All-Star Eddie Johnson

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There has been plenty in the news about former All-Star Eddie Johnson being charged with sexually assaulting an 8-year old girl. It seems Johnson even previously had plans to rejoin the NBA with the Miami Heat at the age of 51. I'm not going to comment on the unfortunate incident -- I just hope people are not making the same mistake I did when first reading the headlines and confusing the accused Eddie Johnson:

with the other one who is now a Sonics commentator:

Accused's career numbers

Non-accused's career numbers

Now that I've got that off my chest...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

NBA Street : new version unveiled

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There's a brief article on IGN today outlining early details on the next iteration of NBA Street -- to be released on both the PS3 and XBox 360. A video is included. More details to come...

Monday, August 07, 2006

McMillan chose Zach over Bassy

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Great article in the Boston Globe today about... the Blazers. Amongst other things, Coach Nate explains the mentality surrounding trading Sebastian Telfair -- it was a choice to build around the "18-wheeler" Zach Randolph over the "Ferrari" Telfair. We all know there was more to it than just the fact that Randolph is a much better player at the moment, but I don't think a complaint can be made for what we got in return -- in my mind Brandon Roy will definitely be the best player in that trade in five years time.

Darius Miles : Will he stay or will he go?

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So, the Blazers roster has been almost totally overhauled. The question on most fans' minds is "what is happening with Darius Miles?!?"
There were murmurs last week of a trade with the Knicks for Quentin Richardson -- Q-Rich and D-Miles were running mates with the Clippers -- but that seems unlikely now, given that the Knicks are due to sign Jared Jeffries today from Washington.
A player such as Q-Rich would suit the Blazers. For starters, he's a SG that can stroke the three -- outside of Martell Webster we don't have a player in that mould. Secondly, he doesn't need to have a lot of the ball to make an impact: Richardson is the type of player that can hang on the wing and make the three (as he did with Phoenix) or mix it up with a bit of rebounding assistance.
It is clear that if the Blazers are going to trade Miles, unless it is to the saviour of 29 teams in the NBA (aka Isiah Thomas), they are going to have to accept less that 100 cents in the dollar. The ideal situation would mean a swingman who will not rock the boat, can play some defence and possibly shoot the three. A Ruben Patterson without the attitude would be great. The last thing the Blazers want is a player likely to be a bad influence on the young guns of the team -- thus the necessity to shift D-Miles.
A package with Zach Randolph (another malcontent) and/or Juan Dixon (our undersized SG who is likely to lack minutes behind Brandon Roy and Webster) would be the best situation. Most teams are interested in picking up either Roy or LaMarcus Aldridge in the deal. To do that trade would be nearing on luncacy.
Should the Knicks still be interested in D-Miles after the acquisition of Jeffries, one deal that would work under the Collective Bargaining Agreement would be a straight-up swap of Miles for Jamal Crawford. A possibility.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

NBA Old Skool : Photo of the day

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What's not to love about this picture of Portland Trail Blazers legend, Clyde "The Glide" Drexler at San Francisco Airport, on his way to China with Team USA?

NBA News : Hornets will return to New Orleans

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The Commish, David Stern has announced that the NOK Hornets will go back to being the NO Hornets. After the natural disaster that befell New Orleans last year, the NBA rescheduled Hornets games to Oklahoma City -- the first time OKC has had a major league professional sports team. The fans loved the Hornets -- with an average match attendance of 18,717 last season. However, according to Stern, after next season (6 in NO and 35 in OKC) all 41 home games will be played in New Orleans each season. As New Orleans rebuilds itself to its former glory, this will no doubt renew calls from OKC fans for the relocation of Seattle's Sonics.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

NBA Live 07 Update #2

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The newest iteration of EA Sports' popular series, NBA Live, seems more and more promising the more information is released. The custom player animations will add interest, such as Richard Hamilton's FT ritual (note: grainy footage), as well as Steve Nash's.
The issue of unrealistic body contact seems to have been addressed too this year. This video showing a sampling of gameplay, shows players jostling for position, with off-the-ball movement seeming quite realistic. As always, an intro video is a good pump up.
Another leak from the ChinaJoy Expo 2006 was that there will be a 'sponsored' Adidas team in the game, consisting of Arenas, Billups, T-Mac, Garnett and Duncan. No word on whether there is a similar Nike team (would make sense) or And1 (less likely given that they have a game of their own).
This interview with Brian Ullrich, NBA Live Senior Producer, summarises the gameplay aspects quite well.

Player Movement : Phoenix extends Barbosa

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The Phoenix Suns have signed Leandro Barbosa to a 5-year $33m extension that commences at the end of next season. The Brazillian, nicknamed "Leandrinho" (little Leandro) is a key part of the Phoenix run'n'gun offence and the Suns are keen on keeping his energy in Arizona.
Leandrinho was also yesterday announced as part of the Brazillian National Team to compete at the FIBA World Championships in Japan this month. He was named alongside Cleveland Cavs forward Anderson Varejao in the side which is missing Nene Hilario (recovering from last season's injury with Denver) and Rafael Araujo who has decided to dedicate his off-season fully to his new team, the Utah Jazz.

Player Movement : Stevenson signs with Wizards

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DeShawn Stevenson has signed with the Washington Wizards after making a poor choice by opting out of the final year of his contract with Orlando. Stevenson gave up $3m, which he would have received with Orlando this season, instead signing a 2-year deal with Washington which only pays the league minimum of $932k in his first year, with a player option for the second year.

Stevenson will act as insurance of some sorts for the Wizards, should they elect not to match the five-year $30m offer sheet that the Knicks have signed Jared Jeffries to. In yet another 'unconventional' move by Isiah Thomas, he is attempting to add a swingman -- and more salary -- to an already buldging Knicks roster.

Blake shocked but happy in Milwaukee

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Steve Blake has said he is content with his new role with the Bucks. After being traded along with Ha Seung-Jin and Brian Skinner in exchange for Jamaal Magloire, he is unlikely to be a starter. Blake also said that he was shocked to be traded after preparing for the season and seeing the Blazers make so many moves already in the off-season.

He also pointed out the obvious, that "losing is not fun." However, the Blazers appear to be on track to setup the team for the future and to get out of the losing rut which has brought the team down of late. A lot of Blazer fans did not see Blake as a long-term starting PG for Portland, but more of a place-filler until Sebastian Telfair or Jarrett Jack rose to prominence. With the trade of both Telfair and Blake, for Jack that time is now, unless he is to be replaced by rookie Brandon Roy at the starting position.
Blazer fans have to be happy with the moves made by management to date this off-season. A solid core of young, talented players is ready to build for the future. If a move is still pending to ship either Darius Miles or Zach Randolph off, it could be the final piece in the transformation of the Jail-Blazers of old.

Friday, August 04, 2006

NBA News: Blazers off the market

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Paul Allen has taken the Portland Trail Blazers off the market -- for the time being. Allen's management company, Vulcan, issued a statement saying that both parties "were not able to identify a mutually agreeable solution."

Vulcan and the arena's management company will now explore other options to "address the broken economic model under which the franchise now operates."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sale of the Trail Blazers

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Bids for the sale of the Portland Trail Blazers are still under wraps, despite being due in to Paul Allen's investment company and the owners of the Rose Garden last week. The team and the Rose Garden are being sold as a package deal.
A group led by former Blazer Terry Porter was considering producing an offer for the team. Regardless of which bid is successful, the Oregonian is reporting that the promising thing for Blazer fans is that the team is unlikely to move due to the long-term agreement with the Rose Garden.
However the situation is somewhat confusing. If indeed the team and the arena are being sold as a package deal, what is to stop the new owners moving the team and continuing to lease the arena out for other events (with an eventual view to selling)? There certainly are lost synergies in moving the team after successfully capturing both the team and its key supplier: it's venue.
In any case, a move does not seem on the cards in the near future. The team has made a number of positive moves (personnel-wise) in the off-season and the outlook for the Blazers is good. Couple that with the fact that the Oregon Panty Thief has been locked away for 11 years and it makes for happy times in Portland.

NBA Schedule & Rule changes

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News wise we’re in that quiet part of the NBA off-season –- the draft is over, the major trading and FA signing period is over and we’re yet to get to the World Championships or the NBA regular season.

So the NBA has released its 2006-07 Schedule to add a bit of expected controversy. As expected, the Blazers have been shown no respect when it comes to National/International TV coverage. There will be no nationally televised games featuring potential Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy. In LeBron James' rookie season (2003-04) his Cleveland Cavs were shown 15 times nationally, despite not been televised for almost three years prior. The Cavs this season have been assigned the maximum number of nationally televised games with 33 (no other team has that many).
Christmas Day will once again feature the fugazi rivalry between Shaq & Kobe with the only game that day being Lakers v Heat. The Blazers will travel to Seattle for their first game of the season, whilst facing Bassy and Theo in Portland on New Years Day.

The NBA has announced changes to the playoff seedings rules. To avoid the controversy of previous seasons’ playoffs, where top teams were forced to match up in early rounds, the format has been “tweaked.” The 3 division winners and the team with the next highest place in the conference will be seeded based on their records. This will stop the scenario which arose last season where Dallas and San Antonio were forced to meet in the second round of the playoffs, despite Dallas having a better record than Phoenix and Denver in the other matchup.
In other changes:
- Teams will be now allowed to carry 15 players on their roster for the playoffs
- If a team has two full timeouts in the final two minutes of the 4th quarter or OT, one will be reduced to a 20-second TO.
All changes for the good.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

International News: Gasol / Yao / Bogut / Manu

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As Team USA continues their preparations to regain dignity, Pau Gasol is looking forward to leading Spain at the up-coming World Championships in Japan. The 26 year-old seems to relish the responsibility of the role. I'm sure the Spaniards (like every other team) will be looking forward to the chance to knock the USA off once again.
The Spanish coach was pleased with Monday's win against Serbia & Montenegro, in which Darko Milicic put up 19 & 9 for the losing side in their first loss of the Summer.
Yao Ming has vowed to never again eat shark's fin soup -- the Chinese delicacy -- as he joins the fight for conservation of sharks. Interesting note from the Associated Press writer in this article, who reveals that Yao is now apparently 7'1" -- news that will alarm Houston Rockets fans.
Yao is confident that his foot will be healed in time for the World Championships. He looks forward to playing against what he refers to as "Dream Team Seven." The Stankovic Cup from 11-15 August will test Yao's bone which is "growing back well," according to the big man.
Andrew Bogut's Australian Boomers national team continues its preparations, with the weight of expectations lifted off their shoulders by coach Brian Goorjian. The coach has told the team, "everyone in the country thinks we're a pile." The team has been ravaged by injuries to key veterans and the news that star PF Matt Nielsen's insurance would be too expensive to cover his Lithuanian club contract.
Meanwhile, Bogut has been pleased with the added playing time and ability to shift to his preferred C position for the Bucks this coming NBA season after the trade of Jamaal Magloire to Portland.
The Argentinian team look strong to continue from their 2004 Athens Gold Medal performance with the news that Manu Ginobili and Andres Nocioni will be part of their W/C squad.

Player Movement : George strengthens Mavs

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The Dallas Mavericks have bolstered their chances of returning to the NBA Finals in 2006-07 with the signing of Devean George. The three-time champion provided respectable and consistent production off the bench for the Lakers last season. The Mavs hope that he can fill the void left by the departure of Adrian Griffin to Chicago. The SF is renowned for his defence and he managed to provide about one three-pointer per contest last season.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

ABA owners set for life

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It's one of those stories that leaves your mouth open when you think "what if I had thought of that?" Former Spirits of St Louis owners Ozzie and Dan Silna are still raking in TV revenues from the NBA -- and they will continue to do so. As long as the NBA is alive, so is their family's fortune.

When the ABA dissolved, these brothers were smart enough to negotiate a portion of NBA TV revenues -- forever. So far it has netted them $168m. Not bad money if you can get it.

2006/07 Preview : Orlando Magic

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Orlando have recently re-signed Trevor Ariza, the twenty-one year-old swingman who GM Otis Smith describes as "a key part of (Orlando's) young core."

As it stands, Orlando's roster is now heading in a positive direction for the future. The nucleus of the team is very young AND talented. I thought it was time to take a brief look at how the Magic are looking for next season (and the future).

Point Guard

Likely starter: Jameer Nelson. The stocky PG will give you a solid 15ppg and 5apg - with those averages likely to rise given a full season without Steve Francis around. His ability to knock down the three-ball is also a bonus.

Carlos Arroyo adds poise and experience to the bench, both in the NBA and internationally. Meanwhile sophomore Travis Diener has done his best to play his way into the team with 20.3ppg and 6.5apg during Summer League play.

Shooting Guard

Likely starter: JJ Redick. The 22 year-old rookie should get minutes right away. His shooting ability and big game NCAA experience mean he will have the ability to enter the rotation almost immediately.

Keyon Dooling provides versatility off the bench, with his ability to handle the point and athleticism. Off-season signing Keith Bogans (a previous member of the Magic) can also swing to the small-forward position and despite being only 25 is relatively experienced as this squad goes.

Small Forward

Likely starter: Grant Hill is back for another attempt. Here's hoping for his sake that the elder-stateman of the team can 'get a break' of the good variety this season (after only appearing in 21 games last season and no more than 67 games since 1999-2000). When he is healthy he is one of the premier small forwards in the game at scoring. Unfortunatley it is unlikely that the Magic will see more than spurts of brilliance that he once showed in a Pistons uniform ("Grant Hill drinks Sprite").

Hedo Turkoglu is a savvy veteran coming into his seventh season in the league. He can hit the outside shot and has good size at the three spot. He will likely be the starter if (read: when) Hill goes down. At the age of 27 he is one of the more experienced players on the squad.

Ariza will likely see a large amount of minutes here - particularly should there be injury concerns for Hill. Ariza's athletic defense will be appreciated by coach Brian Hill.

Power Forward

Likely starter: Dwight Howard is the cornerstone of this team. His talent seems almost limitless and the way in which the 20 year-old will dominate this league in years to come brings fear to opponents. He is a guaranteed double-double. The Magic would like him to stick around for a long time.

Darko Millicic has been freed. This season will be his chance to prove that he deserved to be freed by Detroit sooner. His performance will determine whether he backs up Howard or starts in the middle. Either way, the Magic feel that they have got a steal that will be developing with their young nucleus for years to come.

Bo Outlaw, should he re-sign, will get spot duty here where necessary.


Likely starter: Tony Battie. Once again Battie will be relied upon to man the middle and provide interior defence. To date he has never fulfilled the potential that Boston expected of him. He will likely share time with Milicic and three-point shooting big man Pat Garrity.

Mario Kasun has left the league, signing with Spanish team Winterthur FC Barcelona. The Magic were hoping for bigger things from him and are now lacking some quality size at the five spot to assist Howard on the boards.


Don't look for big things from the Magic this season, although they did raise hopes with a 16-6 finish to last season. This is a team built for the future. Otis Smith seems to be doing all the right things to get a positive group of young players together. Should be given time to meld, a combination of Nelson, Redick, Ariza, Howard and Milicic, amongst others, could be driving Orlando back to the heady days of deep playoff action. Here's a great history of the franchise since the days of Penny & Shaq, as a reminder.