Tweet of the Day: Bill Simmons

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The NBA Finals are nearing the end of the road (cue Boyz II Men). As we stand only three games removed from the conclusion of the 2012-13 NBA season, the speculation as to where this summer’s prized free agents will land is beginning to swirl at a fever pitch.

It was only days ago that three NBA franchises were hit with fines for tampering with eventual free agents Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets being among them.

The idea of Howard and Paul playing together has been circling the rumor mill for quite some time, especially since there are a handful of teams keen on replicating Pat Riley’s model in Miami for building a championship caliber team centered around a core of superstar players.

Recently, the story is that Paul and Howard have been in constant discussion of the possibility of teaming up. This prompted a sharp response from ESPN NBA Analyst Bill Simmons.

Friday, as many were still digesting the Miami Heat’s victory in Game 4 over the San Antonio Spurs, ESPN’s Chris Broussard—citing multiple sources—confirmed that the two star free agents are in fact communicating and would like to play with one another.

One source confirmed that “they would love to play together if somebody can make it happen.”

Yet, the team with the most flexibility available to acquire the two of them—the Atlanta Hawks—appears to have soured on both impending free agents. As Broussard’s sources stated that while Howard would be willing to play in Atlanta if Paul wanted to go there, the All-Star point guard is not as fond of Atlanta as he once was.

“It would be very tough for him to go to Atlanta. He loved Atlanta when they should have drafted him in ’05 but not so much since then. But hey, everybody is an option at this point.”

While it may sound like Atlanta is losing favor, the fact that they have the most money readily available to dispose of cannot be forgotten.

As the saying goes, “Money talks…”

 

Previous Tweet Posts:

Tweet of the Night: Mike Wilbon wonders where the Dwyane Wade haters went

Heat hold remote Game 4 preparations

 

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Michael Brumagin is the “Tweet of the Day” columnist for Sheridan Hoops.

Follow @MBrumagin

SH Blog: Karl says Kroenke was stupid and disrespectful for firing him, Magic Johnson wants LeBron to play more like MJ

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DEN_Karl_GeorgeWhen the Denver Nuggets shockingly fired George Karl soon after their first-round exit from the playoffs, many around the league questioned the hasty decision. How can you fire a coach that just won Coach of the Year?

It was reported by various reporters that some of the reasons for letting him go after winning 57 games in the regular season included the following: Karl’s demand for a new long-term contract became unbearable, they blamed him for losing to the Golden State Warriors in the first round, thought young talent like Evan Fournier was being held back, and didn’t appreciate his negligence of their offseason-prize JaVale McGee. What we never got to hear was what Karl thought of all this.

Until now, that is. Karl spoke with the Denver Post and explained why he felt what Josh Kroenke did was stupid and disrespectful to everything he did for the team, from Benjamin Hochman:

Q: Can you explain the emotions of finishing third in the Western Conference and then being fired?

A: “We won 57 games and are in a great place. Continuity, consistency, togetherness all are so much more valuable than what they have on their priority list of playing JaVale McGee or the young players. And first of all, it shouldn’t be that I didn’t play young players. It’s I didn’t play young players enough, because we played a lot of young players — Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos, Evan Fournier at the end of the year, Ty Lawson. And, I never had a meeting where there was disappointment, in that part of it, voiced to me. I heard through whispers. I’m sorry that 57 wins doesn’t make you happy. I think it was a special season because of the connection this team has with each other and with the coaching staff and with the city. The fans like this team. The staff likes each other. And to blow up that connection is, in my opinion, extremely disrespectful to coaching.”

Q: Can you describe your desire for a contract extension, heading into the last year of your contract?

A: “I didn’t demand an extension. I said to Josh, ‘I will coach this team next year, I’m excited about coaching this team next year, but in the last year of a contract, there are things that could happen.’ I didn’t say they would happen, I said they could happen. I said I didn’t think I deserved a three-year extension, but it’s a signed contract (with an option), so let’s compromise. I don’t think I deserved to get my option picked up, even if we won in the first round (of the playoffs), but there’s a middle ground. The thing that annoys me every day still is the fun connection we have with this team. They think they can unplug us and plug somebody else in, and I’m going, ‘Wow, that is not respectful of the coaching profession.’ ”

Q: Looking back, is there any way to have regrets about not playing McGee major minutes, knowing that they paid him big money?

A: “I’m sorry, I’ve never had management tell me that money’s important (for playing time). Every team I’ve ever coached, it was, ‘It’s your job to distribute minutes.’ I think JaVale built a foundation that next year is going to be very good with him. I don’t think our relationship was in a bad place. It wasn’t in a great place, but it wasn’t in a bad place. … I felt pretty good that JaVale, with a good summer with us, probably would have been the starter next year. But, in the same sense, I don’t think JaVale and Kenneth fit. They have similar limitations. I still think having a passing point guard for JaVale, like Andre Miller, is an asset.”

Karl is right about a variety of things mentioned in his interview. Not every coach is capable of developing great chemistry for a team, which the Nuggets had. You never heard about individual players causing issues and friction in the locker room because of playing time or any other matter. It’s also not his fault that management decided to throw big money at a player that is widely recognized for the things he does wrong on the court as opposed to the things he does right. Truth be told, Kosta Koufos has developed into a much more reliable player (save for his piss-poor performance against Andrew The Giant Bogut) than McGee this season, and that credit should also go to Karl. To be upset at a coach for not playing a player that lacks fundamental focus just because he gets paid a lot isn’t and shouldn’t be the way a team operates.

Karl appears to be a likely candidate to be coaching elsewhere when next season starts, so you can’t feel too bad for the guy. At the same time, the reasons for his dismissal appear to be mostly for the wrong reasons, so it’s not hard to understand why he’s lashing out. The whole thing is a shame, really.

Onto other news from around the league:

  • Stu-JacksonThe NBA is looking to make a big leap in calls made by considering the idea of reviewing judgement calls from the refs, from The AP: “This is significant,” Jackson said at an NBA Cares event to celebrate a new learn and play center at Wheatley Middle School. “It’s our first foray into utilizing instant replay for a judgment call. It at least cracks the door open.” When Commissioner David Stern addressed the media before the start the finals, he said that expanding replay and using the technology that was available was a priority. ”We’ve always taken the stance that we want to look at ways to expand instant replay review, just because it makes sense,” Jackson said. “The referees themselves have supported it because they just want to get the plays right. We’re constantly looking for ways to utilize review.”

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SH Blog: Rockets after Chris Paul; Pacers covet Korver and Redick; Birdman was almost a Knick?

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While the Rockets have made their intentions to pursue Dwight Howard loud and clear, one other superstar should also expect to get a call from Houston on July 1. Jonathan Fiegen of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Rockets have made detailed preparations to pursue Chris Paul in free agency.

Howard has long been the presumed top target for Houston but one source familiar with the team’s plans insists that Paul is just as much in play for Houston as Howard is.

“They are targets No. 1 and 1A,” said the source. Howard-Rockets

Rumors about Howard’s interest in playing for Houston have been swirling for over a month. Paul, on the other hand, has been mum about his intentions in free agency and has yet to give any indication about whether he’d be interested in playing for the Rockets.

Rockets stars James Harden and Chandler Parsons have both already spoken with Howard about the possibility of playing for the Rockets. Harden, who is close with Paul from their days as backcourt mates on team USA, will presumably pitch Houston to Paul in the coming weeks.

Although Chris Paul hasn’t shown signs of interest toward Houston in the past, it’s easy to see why the Rockets’ front office believes they can entice the league’s most popular floor general. After all, Paul is, perhaps, at his best when he pushes the floor in transition and the Rockets had the fastest paced offense in the entire league last season.

Regardless, Fiegen speculates that Howard’s stated interest in Houston could possibly stop the team from ever seriously reaching out to Paul:

“According to an individual with knowledge of Howard’s thinking, Howard has been interested in playing for Rockets coach Kevin McHale and assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff, citing among other things McHale’s style and playing history as a Hall of Famer.”

The Rockets would have to clear about $3 million in cap space to sign either Howard or Paul to a max contract. Regardless, the team has a number of young trade assets that they would be willing to part with to create the necessary room.

Now, let’s see what else is going on around the league:

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The Evening News: Nets and Clips make Shaw top target; Hawks tampering charge; J.R. to opt out

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Hello and welcome to the Evening News.

As the playoffs continue, we’ll keep you updated every evening. What’s happening today?

Here’s the latest from around the league:

SH Blog: Howard calls D’Antoni a “great person” when asked if he’s a great coach, Riley almost drafted Kaman over Wade

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Dwight HowardSince an early first round exit against the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers have gotten absolutely no assurance that Dwight Howard would remain with the team beyond this season. In fact, most assume that Howard will bolt once he becomes a free agent in the summer (including Phil Jackson), and all reports about Howard up to this point have only indicated the possibilities of him landing in a variety of locations, including Houston, Dallas and even Golden State.

All we can really do at this point is assume and assume some more, since Howard refuses to discuss anything in detail about his plans (the smart thing to do, given his history). He did, however, answer some questions presented by Los Angeles Times writer T.J. Simers about certain matters, and there are some subtleties in his responses that makes you believe that he really may be ready to move on:

Between missed shots, I asked why he hasn’t committed to the Lakers.

“It’s free agency and I have the opportunity to choose where I’m going to play,” he said. “God opens doors, and I’m relying on my faith to direct me. ”I don’t think it’s fair I get criticized for waiting on such an opportunity.”

But what does he want in a team?

“I want to win; I’ve done everything else,” he said. “I just want to win.”

Can the Lakers win?

“Any team I am on can win,” he said with a grin, “but nice try.”

What about getting more money or a chance to do TV shows here?

“I’ll get those opportunities later; it’s all about winning now,” he said.

So what do you think of D’Antoni? ”I love him,” he said. “He’s a great person.”

Is he a great coach?

“He’s a great person and I’m glad we had the opportunity to be together,” said Howard, which some will undoubtedly interpret as goodbye.

What was never explicitly said, but also seemed to hang heavy in the air was the uncertainty in the Lakers’ front office, with Jim and Jeanie Buss. ”I want to see what each opportunity offers,” Howard said. “I want to see how people plan on winning.” ”So will I be seeing you next season?” I concluded. ”I’m always a phone call or tweet away,” he said, while whistling and moving on.”

So in short, here’s what we can gather from Howard’s answers: he’s going to let his faith do the talking when deciding which team to play for, wants to refer to Mike D’Antoni as a “great person” when asked if he’s a great coach, and doesn’t want to talk about seeing Simers again.

Sorry, Lakers fans. The chances of him returning just doesn’t look so good (and some of you are probably okay with that). I’m not saying there’s no shot of him coming back at all, but you’ve got to hear him say something positive about the Lakers to have a sense that he’s considering them too, right? That interview screams “I’m out of here”, but we’ve certainly seen plenty of the unexpected when it comes to the NBA and free-agency situations. I think that’s about all you can hope for if you’re hoping for a miracle return.

Onto other news from around the league:

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