SI.com's NBA writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the league each week. (All stats and records are through Feb. 22.)
Knicks president Donnie Walsh is going to get the credit or the blame for the moves New York pulled off at the trade deadline last week. But don't think it was just Walsh and coach Mike D'Antoni involved in a series of decisions that, in one day, made the Knicks the most imposing free-agent force this summer.
With Thursday's trade for Tracy McGrady, the Knicks have accomplished what appeared highly unlikely when Donnie Walsh took over as team president less than two years ago: They've created room to recruit two elite free agents this summer.
Almost half of the league's teams were involved in deadline trades over the past week. There appeared to be a number of explosions, but when the smoke cleared very little of importance had altered the championship race this season.
The New York Knicks are finalizing a deal to acquire Houston Rockets forward Tracy McGrady, an NBA source told SI.com.
SI.com's NBA writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the league each week. (All stats and records are through Feb. 15.)
All but one of these players has been invited to play in Dallas, yet there is more interest in where they'll go next season than there is in how they'll perform as All-Stars this weekend.
Not just anyone can sink that one and only shot to win a game. And the importance of that final bucket cannot be exaggerated, as we saw last Sunday in Boston when the Lakers upended the Celtics.
You may not have noticed, but Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh has been playing like a man possessed lately.
What's going on with the Celtics?
BOSTON -- These are the moments he lives for, Kobe Bryant. The moments his coach, Phil Jackson, says he relishes. Time winding down, game hanging in the balance, the leather in his hands.
BOSTON -- Had the Celtics turned their 90-89 loss the other way, had they been celebrating their exit from the floor, it all would have been a mirage. On a cold Sunday when neither they nor the Lakers looked capable of playing to June, the Celtics demonstrated how far they've strayed from their championship success of two years ago.
• It's not all about this free-agent class. All we've been hearing about is the importance of the coming summer, when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson will be on the market.
When the defending champions renew the league's signature rivalry Sunday in Boston, the Lakers will be seeking to beat the Celtics at their own game. Their newfound weapon is defense: The Lakers momentarily rank No. 5 in field-goal defense after being No. 1 or 2 most of the season. Boston, by comparison, ranks sixth in this crucial rating.
The first half of the NBA season is the time to get a first glance at the rookie class, assess how well players have returned from injuries, see which teams thrive at incorporating new players and identify the contenders and the pretenders.
SI.com's NBA writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the league each week. (All stats and records are through Jan. 25.)
Scott Brown, a little-known Republican state senator from Wrentham, Mass., last week pulled off one of the most shocking upsets in the long history of Bay State politics when he defeated Democrat Martha Coakley in a special election to fill the empty U.S. Senate seat left by the late Ted Kennedy.
There were a lot of good questions following my ever-controversial views of who belonged on the All-NBA teams and deserved other midseason awards -- so many responses that I rescued a lot of them from the spam for this special mailbag. (I'll be answering more mail as usual on Friday, so please keep the questions coming.)
SI.com's NBA writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the league each week. (All stats and records are through Jan. 20.)
It was 1972. The Philadelphia 76ers were holding training camp at Ursinus College, 25 miles outside the city. The team was enduring typical preseason drills when its third-round draft pick, Charlie Tharpe, from Belhaven College, vomited. Into his own hands.
Andrea Bargnani is no replacement for Chris Bosh. Instead, he is 7 feet of potential insurance that enables the Toronto Raptors to maintain hope should Bosh leave this summer as a free agent, if not next month in an unlikely midseason trade.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For most of the 2009 free-agent class, New Jersey ranked at the bottom of preferred destinations.
Is that it? Has the curtain officially been drawn on the golden era of New England sports?
Ed Stefanski understands the expectations. He had them too.
So Allen Iverson is back in Philly. This is a really good trailer for a really bad movie. You see the highlights, the flashbacks, the crashes in the lane, the ridiculous crossover. Then you go buy your ticket and realize there is no script.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Move on, mind your business, nothing to see here ... isn't that what police tell the gathering crowds after an accident has been cleared?
NEW YORK -- Brandon Jennings could have helped the Knicks, as president Donnie Walsh realized last July while watching the 6-foot-1 rookie attack the Las Vegas Summer League.
In the NBA, like in all sports, coaches are ultimately held responsible for the performance of their teams. And even in those cases when the coach is little more than a bystander to team sinking under a lack of talent, canning a coach is a lot more convenient than holding a fire sale on the roster. So when a team starts the season 0-17 (0-16 under coach Lawrence Frank) the worst offense in the league and a defense that's only a hair better, firing the man charged with orchestrating that feeble attack makes the most sense.
LOS ANGELES -- Nets guard Chris Douglas-Roberts knew something was up when he entered the meeting room at the team hotel Sunday morning and didn't see Lawrence Frank standing in front wearing his usual Nets T-shirt and Nets track pants.
Four SI.com writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the NBA each week. (All stats and records are through Nov. 23.)
Chris Bosh's offseason transformation began in an unlikely place -- his couch. Early into his summer, Bosh decided to watch the championship game from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. It was supposed to be one of those feel-good moments, like popping in a classic film that always makes you smile, but it made him angry even as he saw himself receive the gold medal.
BOSTON -- Deron Williams sat on a metal chair Tuesday thumbing at his phone in the basement of a downtown gym. His back had locked up on him. His left calf was badly bruised and his hamstring was tight.
Cavaliers coach Mike Brown is a nice, honest guy. He answers questions thoughtfully and genuinely, he looks reporters in the eye and he doesn't run his team by fiat.
NEW YORK -- Like a home seller trying desperately to peddle a fixer-upper, the Knicks emptied all the paint cans and window cleaner they could find on the property that is New York Friday night to sell the idea of playing in Gotham to the most wanted homebuyer in the NBA, LeBron James.
As LeBron makes his lone appearance of the season Friday night at Madison Square Garden, I am convinced he has basically decided to remain with Cleveland as a free agent in 2010. Here's why I believe he has made that decision (and why he won't admit it) ...
NEW YORK -- It has been 19 months since Knicks president Donnie Walsh stood in front of a podium inside the theater at Madison Square Garden and promised fans a future. Nineteen months since Walsh, one of the most respected executives in the NBA who had built multiple contenders in Indiana, vowed to restore credibility to a franchise that in 5½ years under Isiah Thomas' stewardship had lost all of it. Nineteen months since embattled Knicks owner James Dolan issued Walsh a mandate to do "whatever is necessary to turn this team around."
The 2009 rookie class looks like it will provide more meaningful contributors than anticipated. Eleven first-year players have averaged more than 20 minutes per game during the first week of the season -- and that's without top pick Blake Griffin, who is sidelined with a kneecap injury.
The NBA's best rivalry needed this. The home team had won the last 16 meetings before the visiting Celtics broke that spell Tuesday with an opening night 95-89 win over the Cavaliers (RECAP | BOX SCORE). After two years spent bear-hugging each other like wrestlers, a new dynamic has momentarily separated them.
SI.com's Ian Thomsen, Chris Ballard, Chris Mannix, Jack McCallum and Arash Markazi forecast the 2009-10 season.
Sports Illustrated's annual NBA predictions can be found in this week's magazine, and once again you can blame me for them. Here are my explanations for why I think ...
This article appears in the October 26, 2009, issue of Sports Illustrated
Here are the most sophisticated predictions you're likely to find for the coming season, as once again I've polled a half-dozen NBA advance and personnel scouts for their thoughts on the upcoming conference races and the playoffs.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Wait until next summer.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Larry Hughes, Al Harrington, Chris Duhon.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Of all the moves made by all of the ambitious contenders in the offseason, the most important deal may be one the Celtics declined to pursue.
While injuries and fatigue helped end the Celtics' title defense in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last season, those factors also allowed young point guard Rajon Rondo to demonstrate his capabilities as something more than a facilitator to Boston's three All-Stars. In 14 playoff games, Rondo averaged 16.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 9.7 assists.
Al Jefferson has already won an NBA title. Too bad he didn't get a ring.
A defender hears the other team's play call as he backpedals across midcourt. Only he doesn't recognize it. So he looks inquisitively to a teammate, who shrugs. Both of them look to the other guys on their team, all of whom have the same puzzled expression. A glance over to the bench reveals three men in suits: One has his palms upturned and shoulders hunched, another is whistling and avoiding eye contact, the third is about to slam a clipboard to the floor. And now it's too late -- the opponents slice through them for an easy layup.
You can see it out the window of the rickety SEPTA car, as you rumble down the R7 line past Joe Frazier's gym and through the hardscrabble neighborhoods of North Philly, where alternating blocks of pristine brownstones and bombed-out vacants make the brick-and-mortar landscape.
For anyone who marks time by the NBA calendar, this time of year is a little like opening the Christmas stocking, only filled with the complete NBA schedule, before tearing into the big-ticket gifts under the tree come late October. Here's a look at some highlights of the just-released 2009-2010 schedule:
It's entirely possible that, at various times in the Toronto Raptors' 2009-10 season, play-by-play man Matt Devlin will say something that sounds like this: Calderon dribbles into the frontcourt, over to Belinelli ... Bargnani gets it on the block. Turnaround from 12 feet. ... Rebound by Nesterovic, kicks it to Turkoglu, from downtown ... Good!
Sixty years ago today, a future guard for St. Peter's College in Jersey City named Rich Rinaldi was born. Nothing very remarkable about that; Rinaldi played well enough to get drafted 43rd overall by the Baltimore Bullets in 1971 and played 79 games with them over two-plus seasons. After being waived in November 1973, Rinaldi hooked on for five games with the ABA's Nets, wrapping up his pro career with averages of 4.8 points and 10.5 minutes.
Free agent Marquis Daniels has agreed to terms with the Celtics, according to reports in the Boston Herald and Boston Globe.
As free agency slows down and the summer league wraps up, we look forward to 2009-2010.
SI.com's NBA writers size up the first two weeks of free agency.
The Celtics have answered the Cavaliers' acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal, the Spurs' trade for Richard Jefferson and the Lakers' pending signing of Ron Artest.
BOSTON -- Free agent forward Rasheed Wallace has agreed to sign with the Boston Celtics, Wallace's agent, Bill Strickland, told SI.com on Sunday. Wallace, who chose the Celtics over San Antonio and Orlando, is believed to have agreed to a two-year deal for Boston's mid-level exception.
BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics made their pitch to Rasheed Wallace on Thursday. And Wallace was receptive.
The busiest week of the NBA offseason, at least until free agency kicks off next month, yielded plenty of items to dissect.
Claiming to know the greatest draft pick of all time in each of the top 30 slots is a good way to start an argument. In this case, I leaned toward draft picks who helped create team success. While going through the lists year by year, I was reminded just how difficult it is to find impact players -- even when dealing with a top-three pick. To go through the draft lists over the last six decades is to realize that the likes of Bill Russell and Michael Jordan are rarely discovered.
If the Los Angeles Lakers didn't already exist, Hollywood would have had to create them.
Any Game 7 in any sport is worth watching, of course, so it's ridiculous to compare the relative worth of Game 7s between sports. But ridiculous is what we do, right? So I offer -- predictably -- that the NBA's championship-deciding battles are the best.
LOS ANGELES -- Pressure is a strange dynamic in this city of tea drinkers. My theory about basketball audiences is that they behave like they're sipping green tea here, while in the northeastern basketball capitals of New York and Philadelphia and Boston the fans like their beer, and then of course in Europe they are fueled by shot after shot of espresso.
DENVER -- The DVDs on top of Nuggets coach George Karl's growing pile of game films aren't what you'd expect. Yes, somewhere among the hours of footage is video of the Lakers' first-round series with Utah, and he has spent plenty of time dissecting the disc of L.A.'s difficult seven-game series with Houston in the Western Conference semifinals.
It has taken four weeks and 13 games, but the Orlando Magic have finally won.
Seven is a good handy figure in its way, picturesque, with a savor of the mythical. --Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
BOSTON -- If there are basketball gods, they hate the Boston Celtics. Boston, however, hates them right back.
The look splashed across Rashard Lewis' face spoke volumes. Sunday night, with his team trailing by seven points with a little more than seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Magic's All-Star forward took a moment during a dead ball to exhort his teammates. He clapped and shouted -- at no one in particular -- as if he was imploring someone, anyone to step up.
As we await the inevitable Kobe-LeBron clash -- as you know, these things are determined by the NBA before the season even begins; heck, I have the memo right in front of me -- let us consider why everyone (I know) still hates the Celtics.
ORLANDO -- Game 4 is Sunday night, and will both teams please arrive on time?
SI.com's NBA writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the league each week.
BOSTON -- When a shooter is feeling it, how does "it'' feel? "It just feels good,'' said Celtics eighth man Eddie House after he had clobbered the Orlando Magic with 31 points on 14 attempts. "You just want to keep on getting shots every chance you get, but at the same time you don't want to force anything.''
The opening 27 minutes were all about Kevin Garnett, the injured All-Star forward of the Celtics. The concluding 21 minutes were all about Jameer Nelson, the injured All-Star point guard of the Magic.
The thank-you notes can be addressed to 150 Causeway Street in Boston, the home of the Celtics. As the Hawks advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals by disposing of the Heat 91-78 in Game 7 on Sunday (RECAP | BOX), the theme was lessons learned from a year ago. Before tipoff, in the calm and comfort of his office, Hawks coach Mike Woodson again referred to the Celtics series 12 months prior where the upstart Hawks lost in seven games.
BOSTON -- His feet wore flip-flops, his knees were wrapped in ice and his nostril was stitched like Jack Nicholson's in Chinatown as Paul Pierce exhaled. It was a long breath noticeable for the absence of cigar smoke. For there was nothing to celebrate.
BOSTON -- How have the Chicago Bulls succeeded in pushing the champion Celtics to a Game 7? For help on this question as well as a preview of the winner-take-all game here Saturday night, I sought the advice of an NBA advance scout who is expert on both teams.
Rather than joining in the parade of people tripping over themselves to stamp just the right superlative on this first-round Eastern Conference playoff series between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls -- stunning, epic, incredible, exhausting, stupid and a hundred other adjectives that pale next to the videotape and memories still too wet to touch -- we'll stick with numbers, not words.
We look ahead to Game 7 of the Celtics-Bulls saga happy, for the first time, that the NBA chose years ago to extend the opening round from its former best-of-five format.
SI.com NBA writers Chris Mannix, Steve Aschburner and Scott Howard-Cooper assess Chicago's 128-127 triple-overtime victory against Boston in Game 6 on Thursday (RECAP | BOX) and look ahead to Game 7 of this riveting first-round series. For analysis from Ian Thomsen, click here.
Here are five thoughts on the latest too-good-to-be-true installment of the Celtics-Bulls series, along with a couple of other Game 6s that were rumored to be taking place Thursday.
Sadly, all good serials must end someday. The Godfather trilogy. The Sopranos HBO drama. The Celtics-Bulls opening-round series. Maybe Paul Pierce will hit a shot at the buzzer of Game 6 on Thursday and the season will go blank on the Chicago Bulls, from hysteria to nothingness, just like that.
This story appears in the May 4, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated.
While the Bulls and Celtics choreograph a series that mauls on and on like a Rocky Balboa fight, the rest of the playoffs have played out in the shadows by rote.
Have so many injuries, fouls and missed free throws ever created so much theater? First of all, we should thank Paul Pierce and Ray Allen for missing the free throws at the ends of Games 1 and 4 that might have finished off this series ruthlessly and succinctly.
Five NBA playoff observations on a night in which the Celtics and Bulls gave us another thriller.
The first-round playoff matchup between the Celtics and Bulls has become a possession-by-possession dogfight. How have the two teams reached this point and what's ahead? Here's a breakdown leading into Tuesday's Game 5.
OVERVIEW: Celtics star Kevin Garnett is expected to miss the series and possibly the entire postseason because of a knee injury. Boston already had made the adjustment to playing without the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, who has appeared in only four games since Feb. 20. With Garnett sidelined, the Celtics won eight of nine down the stretch to fend off Orlando for the No. 2 seed. The Bulls were hot, too, late in the season, closing with a 12-4 run that included a 127-121 victory against Boston on March 17, the only meeting between the teams since Chicago's key midseason acquisition of John Salmons (18.3 points as a Bull) and Brad Miller (11.8 points, 7.4 rebounds).
Decisions, decisions. Can't live with 'em, can't thrive without 'em.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Vince Carter had found a seam in an otherwise dreary Sunday, no one leaning on him, no one looking to him for much of anything at that moment. His 36 points, 28 after halftime, hadn't been enough to even sweat the Timberwolves in a listless, toothless performance by his Nets, and the New Jersey beat writers were busy at the moment with teammate Devin Harris in a dressing stall across the way.
Observations and analysis of the NBA playoffs, which is all the Cleveland Cavaliers figure to be doing, too, for a few days now:
Five observations from three NBA playoffs games Friday evening, each scrutinized closely with the understanding that teams that win Game 3 historically go on to win 76 percent of these first-round series:
CHICAGO -- Paul Pierce told us we hadn't seen his "A" game yet. He told us we hadn't seen his "B" game, either. His "C" game? That we had seen a lot of.
SI.com NBA writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the league each week.
WALTHAM, Mass --You have to wonder if the basketball gods are conspiring against the Celtics this season.
The only thing missing from the first two games of the Boston-Chicago series was the referee from the first Karate Kid movie standing by to officially declare the winner.
WALTHAM, Mass -- Another day, another round of questions for the Boston Celtics about injured forward Kevin Garnett. For the second straight afternoon Celtics players declared Friday their readiness to go through the postseason without their emotional leader. But the question is: How long will they really have to?
WALTHAM, Mass. -- The pick-and-roll. It's the simplest play in basketball, and yet, when it's run effectively, it's virtually impossible to defend.
Observations and analysis as the NBA playoffs get under way ...
BOSTON -- It was the type of game you didn't want to have a conclusion. All that would mean is Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo would have to stop playing. For four quarters and one blissful overtime period the two smallest players on the floor squared off in a heavyweight battle. First it was Rose, powering to the basket and using his sturdy 6-3 frame to absorb contact and make bucket after bucket on his way to tying Kareem Abdul Jabbar's -- who was then known as Lew Alcindor -- 39-year old record for the most points (36) for a rookie in his first playoff game. Then it was Rondo, slicing through the lane with reckless abandon and using his long arms to flip the ball up over taller defenders. He finished with 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
BOSTON (AP) -- Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge won't be at the team's playoff opener after his minor heart attack.