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.)
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.
The NBA trading deadline is 3 p.m. ET Thursday. Refresh this page for late-breaking news from the trade market.
As All-Star weekend clears out of Dallas and NBA teams look ahead Thursday's trade deadline, the ball is now firmly in Cleveland's court. The Cavaliers are the most ambitious team available to take on salary, and they must decide whether to continue pursuing Amar'e Stoudemire or to renew potential trades for Antawn Jamison or Troy Murphy.
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. 8.)
With most teams at or near the 50-game mark and the All-Star Game just a week away, it's a good time to evaluate how the league's most significant player acquisitions from last offseason are panning out. Teams have had enough time to get adjusted to the new personnel, and the flurry of player movement likely to occur closer to the Feb. 18 trade deadline has yet to shuffle the rosters.
Is Kobe Bryant the greatest of all Lakers? He now ranks No. 1 on their all-time scoring list after dunking softly with both hands on a third-quarter breakaway Monday in Memphis. Bryant finished the 95-93 loss to the Grizzlies with 44 points for the night and 25,208 points in his 14th season, surpassing the franchise record held by the general manager who acquired him in a draft-night deal, Jerry West.
• 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.
A little more than two weeks after he attended a Golden State Warriors game, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said he is interested in buying the team from owner Chris Cohan.
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.)
PHOENIX -- Relatively speaking, Phoenix Suns All-Star center Amar'e Stoudemire has one of the most difficult decisions to make of any NBA player this summer.
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.)
Here are five things we learned from Cleveland's gritty 93-87 victory over Los Angeles on Thursday night:
Injuries among so many stars and inconsistent performances by so many contending teams make it difficult to fill out a midseason awards ballot. But here it is anyway: The best of what we've seen so far, with the hope that something better -- and healthier -- is on the way. (The NBA's official awards ballot includes five spots for MVP and three for the other major awards. The media vote on all the awards below except Executive of the Year.)
A man in a brown suit showed up halfway through the first quarter of the Golden State Warriors' game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday and sat in the front row across from the home team's bench. With his buddy toting a pint-sized draft beer, the man looked like any ordinary citizen attending a weekday game.
LOS ANGELES -- "You're looking good," said players' union chief Billy Hunter, who was in town Tuesday for his annual meeting with the Clippers' players. "You're keeping the weight off.''
1. Shaquille O'Neal to the Heat from the Lakers for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and a first-round pick; July 14, 2004 Shaq wanted out of L.A. Kobe Bryant wanted him out, too. This trade lifted Miami from a 42-40 team that was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs to one that reached the conference finals in 2005 and won it all in 2006. It didn't turn out as badly for the Lakers as first thought. The immediate hit the Lakers took in '05, when they missed playoffs, provided them with the No. 10 pick in the draft, which brought center Andrew Bynum. If Bynum had not been injured, the Lakers might have won the title in 2008. They won it last season, with Odom playing a vital role. If they hadn't been suckered by Kwame Brown's eternal potential and traded Butler for him, they'd be even better, although Brown did serve a purpose in 2008 (see No. 3).
PLAYER OF THE DECADE: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs The greatest power forward in NBA history, Duncan was the reason San Antonio became the only team to make the playoffs every year of the decade. He was the most valuable team player of his era, an active defender who chased pick-and-rolls out to the three-point line and yet hustled back to protect the rim and control the boards. Offensively, the Spurs played through him as a passer in the post, and his dependable mid-range jumper off the backboard will be part of his highlight reel when he checks into Springfield.
1. Malice at the Palace. What seemed like a typical early-season game between the Indiana Pacers and the host Detroit Pistons on Nov. 19, 2004, turned into the ugliest night in the history of the NBA. After the Pacers' Ron Artest stretched out on the scorer's table following a shoving match with the Pistons' Ben Wallace (who was upset with a hard foul from Artest), a fan threw a cup of beer on him, precipitating a brawl that spilled into the stands. Commissioner David Stern acted in accordance with his name and handed out a rash of suspensions, including a full season for Artest. The brawl paved the way for many fruitful discussions about NBA arena security, and many overblown discussions about the level of violence in the NBA.
One, measly point separated Tyreke Evans from making Kings history. One point would have made him the franchise's first rookie to register eight consecutive 20-point games. Yet, with 3:11 left against the Knicks, Paul Westphal motioned Evans to the bench, a request greeted with a look of mild surprise from the 20-year-old.
Amar'e Stoudemire's goggles sit in the middle of the Phoenix Suns locker room, resting atop table filled with shoes, jerseys and shorts. If Stoudemire had it his way, the goggles would stay there, out of sight and off his head, but they're always there, never letting him forget the most difficult time in his career.
It was just a month ago that the Kings and Bucks were perceived by many, if not most, fans as the doormats of their respective conferences. As we flip the calendar to December, the Bucks are 9-7, the Kings 8-8.
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. 30.)
LOS ANGELES -- Trevor Ariza didn't exactly know his way around the visitors' locker room at Staples Center as he returned to his old home Sunday night for the first time since signing with the Rockets in the offseason.
Officially, Stephen Jackson is a Warrior. Realistically, he's a lame duck. He hopes to be a Cav, Mav, Knick, Spur, Rocket or owner of some other NBA identity soon. Very soon. Regardless, his identity crisis promises to bring high drama this season, even if nothing changes for him.
Steve Nash is the grandfather who dances every dance at the family wedding. He is the millionaire who keeps showing up to work because he loves what he does. At 35, he continues to play like -- and get the best of -- the youngest point guards in the world's finest league.
Four SI.com writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the NBA each week. (All stats and records are through Monday.)
Shawn Marion may be one of the most versatile players in the NBA, but as he sits in a hotel suite overlooking the Pacific Ocean, he's showing off a different kind of versatility: He watches Scooby-Doo on TV, listens to Michael Jackson on the radio, updates his Twitter page from his computer and talks on the phone all at the same time.
â¢ After opening the Los Angeles Lakers season with a victory, Lamar Odom celebrated at a late-night bash downtown with wife Khloe Kardashian: The duo arrived at the Pandora by Night Vision event inside a former cathedral around 1:15 a.m., where they danced with some friends at their table which was located right next to a confessional booth! During the bash, Odom sipped beer and energy drinks. Earlier that night, the couple dined with a group of friends and family at Katsuya LA Live.
Who was the evil NBA schedule maker who thought it would be funny to have the Clippers play the Lakers on opening night? It's one thing to be viewed as the "other team" in town, but it's another to be present on the night the Lakers are given their championship rings and unveil their most recent championship banner at Staples Center, which is also the Clippers' home -- although you'd never know it by looking up at the rafters.
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.
There are many things that Ron Artest does well. He is one of the best defenders in the NBA, a prolific scorer and an even more prolific Twitterer. But an ability to simply "blend in" has never been Artest's forte. Yet that's exactly what the Lakers are asking him to do this season.
SAN DIEGO -- On April 15, Grant Hill scored 27 points and snagged 10 rebounds in the season-finale against Golden State, and no one outside of Phoenix really seemed to notice. The Suns won the game, but the playoffs were starting, and for the first time in five years they were not a part of it. Their season would be remembered mainly for the hiring and firing of Coach Terry Porter, the trade of Raja Bell and Boris Diaw, Amar'e Stoudemire's detached retina, Jason Richardson's reckless driving arrest, and all the background noise generated by Shaquille O'Neal.
LOS ANGELES -- As they watched Vitali Klitschko pummel Chris Arreola from a pair of ringside seats Saturday night, Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest were all smiles. Lakers fans will undoubtedly be happy if that scene is repeated this time next year.
It starts as a crack. It develops into a chink, grows into a hole, and pretty soon, it's a crater. Basketball season is fast approaching, but so is another of winter's traditions: pothole season.
Kardashian and Odom will tie the knot at the L.A. home of music manager Irving Azoff
With less than a week to go before their Sunday nuptials, Khloe Kardashian and her L.A. Lakers beau Lamar Odom have decided to hold their wedding ceremony at the Los Angeles-area home of family friend and legendary music manager Irving Azoff.
The reality star and Lamar Odom are "very, very happy," her sister Kim Kardashian tells PEOPLE
If Kurt Rambis is it -- not "who," as in the Timberwolves' new coach, but "it," as in the final installment in a deal initiated nearly a half century ago between Los Angeles and the Minneapolis/St. Paul markets -- then it's pretty clear which side got snookered.
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:
Here's the thing about Twitter: It's kind of addictive. It's also a good forum for questions. So I bring to you the first of what I hope to be many Twitter mailbags:
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.
This article appears in the July 27, 2009, issue of Sports Illustrated magazine.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Two years ago, Kobe Bryant was demanding to be traded. Much has changed for the Lakers in that short time to convert his doubts into a potential new dynasty.
LAS VEGAS -- Outstanding performances in the NBA's annual summer leagues are usually a good indicator of ... well, nothing really. Just ask Marco Belinelli, the Warriors' guard who used a 22.8-point-per-game performance here in 2007 as a springboard to a 2.9-point rookie season. Or Jerryd Bayless, who went from 29.8 points last summer to 4.3 last season and recently declared that his summer effort was actually "the worst possible thing." Or Kedrick Brown. Or Qyntel Woods.
LOS ANGELES -- As the Lakers rolled to a 118-78 victory over the Rockets (RECAP | BOX) on Tuesday to take a 3-2 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals, they finally felt what it was like to win going away. They finally controlled a game from the opening tip and never allowed their opponent to come up for air.
The memorial service for singer Michael Jackson cost the city of Los Angeles $1.4 million, the mayor's office said Wednesday.
They poured in to Los Angeles from places far-flung, an army of Michael Jackson fans hoping to collectively mourn their idol in a massive ceremony at the Staples Center downtown Tuesday.
ATLANTA (SI.com) -- The Los Angeles Lakers are close to reaching an agreement with Houston forward Ron Artest, the Los Angeles Times reported.
You don't have to be standing in an unemployment line -- or more likely, waiting for your browser to grind to the next Web page -- to know this is a dreadful job market, whether you're a plumbing contractor, a paralegal or a point guard. NBA free agency was to begin at 12:01 a.m. ET Wednesday, but, rather than a starting gun, a more appropriate sound might be an index finger inserted into one cheek and popped out. As in, whoop-de-darn-do.
You don't have to be a weatherman to know which way Ricky Rubio is blowing, but it helps. The sensational teenaged point guard from Spain officially hasn't explained what appears to be his reluctance to join the Minnesota Timberwolves, the NBA team that grabbed him with the No. 5 pick in the June 25 draft. Others -- his father Esteve Rubio and Wolves exec David Kahn -- have done most of the talking for him, and at this point it still isn't clear whether Rubio cannot get to Minnesota for the 2009-10 season (a tricky and expensive buyout to negotiate with his Euroleague team, DKV Joventut Badalona) or simply will not (doesn't want to come).
The busiest week of the NBA offseason, at least until free agency kicks off next month, yielded plenty of items to dissect.
If you were circling the political wagons in South Carolina, an aide to humiliated governor Mark Sanford hoping to achieve some small measure of damage control, would you bring in Eliot Spitzer and Rod Blagojevich for counsel?
The Cavaliers have agreed in principle to acquire Shaquille O'Neal from the Suns for Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic, an NBA source confirmed late Wednesday night.
The Golden State Warriors are on the verge of dealing guard Jamal Crawford to Atlanta for point guards Acie Law and Speedy Claxton, an NBA source confirmed to SI.com. An official announcement could come later Wednesday.
The Golden State Warriors are on the verge of dealing guard Jamal Crawford to Atlanta for point guards Acie Law and Speedy Claxton, an NBA source confirmed to SI.com. An official announcement could come later Thursday.
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.
"A season for the ages," commissioner David Stern said of this NBA year gone by. But I prefer to view it as a recasting of the 1980s: The names have changed, but the dynamics are familiar.
After his jump shot cleared the outstretched hand of Hedo Turkoglu and buried itself in the back of the net, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant turned and pumped his fist. Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy called a timeout. He should have waved a white flag. Though more than eight minutes remained, the smile on Bryant's face as he jogged to the Los Angeles bench explained everything. The Lakers were minutes away from clinching the NBA title, and Bryant had led them there.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Where does Kobe Bryant rate among the modern superstar NBA champions? Here is a good place to start:
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Standing on a hastily erected dais at center court in Amway Arena, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak sported a toothy grin that extended from ear-to-ear. The team that he meticulously assembled over the last few years had climbed the NBA mountaintop, and for the next few days he would reap the rewards in the form of congratulatory phone calls and text messages from his peers and a raucous parade through the streets of Los Angeles.
If the Los Angeles Lakers didn't already exist, Hollywood would have had to create them.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The tiny locker room smelled as if every grape in France had fermented and exploded at once. The empty Moet bottles sat on a table in the middle. The corks lay on the ground. Veteran reporters wore garbage-bag ponchos. Not-so-veteran reporters wore suds. As his teammates passed around the Larry O'Brien trophy and mugged for the cameras, Lakers forward Lamar Odom leaned back in a stall and smiled.
Others would have been celebrating the two biggest shots of the postseason's biggest game. They would have jumping-jacked their way around the floor and looked for someone to hug. But Derek Fisher acted like he'd been in this position before, and it was no act.
They have talent. They have veteran leadership and youthful energy. They have the No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 player in the NBA, depending on your taste on any given night, and the one whom most coaches and rivals would choose, time running out, game on the line, as their "closer.'' Their coach is the tactician for whom the league's elite players say they'd most like to play and a man who has a record 10 championships on the bench.
ORLANDO -- It is clear Stan Van Gundy doesn't think much of experience. He said so in a number of animated ways after the Lakers' improbable Game 4 win when the two most experienced players on the court -- Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher -- made the key passes and shots that put Los Angeles one win away from the NBA title.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The two worst misses of Dwight Howard's career set the stage for the two most thrilling shots of Derek Fisher's career. The shots also swung the NBA Finals from a toss-up to an almost foregone conclusion.
ORLANDO -- Dwight Howard didn't need a college education to understand the statistical improbability his team would have faced had it collapsed during Tuesday's Game 3. "We didn't want to go down 3-0," the Magic center said Wednesday, "because that's basically impossible to come back from."
Time was, someone called you a copycat, you'd be fixin' to meet them after school with an Opie Taylor knuckle sandwich. In the NBA, though, calling someone -- hey, calling everyone -- a copycat elicits reactions that range from nods all the way to shrugs.
This story appears in the June 15, 2009, issue of Sports Illustrated. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.
LOS ANGELES -- There have been eight sweeps in the 63-year history of the NBA Finals.
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.
SI.com NBA writers analyze the storylines and matchups in this year's Finals.
SI.com's Ian Thomsen spoke with an NBA advance scout to break down the Magic-Lakers Finals matchup.
LOS ANGELES -- Far too often in sports we're so immersed in the numbers that we really can't see what is going on in front of our eyes. We're so tuned in on percentages that we can't hear what's going on around us, so consumed with pluses and minuses and shooting charts that we can't feel the true presence of a player statistics tell us is a "liability."
DENVER -- There will be no Game 7 in the Western Conference Finals because Kobe Bryant decided he'd had enough. Enough of Nuggets defenders poking him in the midsection as he elevated from the perimeter and slapping his forehead as he released his shots. Enough of Dahntay Jones, J.R. Smith, Linas Kleiza and Chauncey Billups bumping him like he was a running back hitting the hole and not a shooting guard looking for a seam. Enough of a city and a town that brings back too many bad memories. Enough of all of it. It was time to go home.
Amenities include halftime drinks at the Wachovia Chairman's Room and court side wait service
LOS ANGELES -- Standing in front of his locker after the Lakers beat the Nuggets 103-94 (RECAP | BOX) to take a 3-2 series lead in the Western Conference finals Wednesday, Kenyon Martin simply shook his head each time he was asked about the officiating late in the game.
LOS ANGELES -- Five notes and observations from the Lakers' near flawless 103-94 victory (RECAP | BOX) against the Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals Wednesday night:
DENVER -- Coaches are fond of reminding us that basketball is a team sport, that no single player can carry a team to a championship. And they're right. Shaquille O'Neal couldn't have won without Kobe Bryant (and vice versa), Tim Duncan would have been lost without Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, and Paul Pierce didn't win anything until he was teamed with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
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.
DENVER -- The story on Sunday morning will undoubtedly be that the Lakers regained control of the Western Conference finals with a gritty 103-97 victory in Game 3 (RECAP | BOX). And it should be. Writers and talking heads alike will heap praise on Kobe Bryant, who despite getting battered like an over-the-hill prize fighter, overwhelmed the Nuggets with a 41-point, six-rebound, five-assist effort.
On June 27, 2009, Blake Griffin will hold his first press conference as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers. SI.com -- psychic as well as informative -- was there ...
LOS ANGELES -- The LeBron James-Kobe Bryant summit, tentatively slated for the first week in June, is starting to encounter some serious scheduling conflicts. Twenty-four hours after James and the Cavaliers lost home-court advantage to Orlando, Bryant and the Lakers did the same Thursday night against Denver. What once seemed a given, that James and Bryant would eventually square off in an epic battle for individual and collective basketball supremacy, is suddenly in severe doubt.
BARCELONA -- The top expert on the Western Conference finals wakes up 6,000 miles and nine time zones away from the series in Los Angeles. He turns on his computer to study online videos of the games, the news conferences, the written reports and commentaries. He pieces those ideas together with what he knows already.
For most of the last 25 years, the Los Angeles Clippers have had to travel across the country every spring for the NBA draft lottery.
Every graduating class brims with hopes and dreams, as full of promise as so many of its members are full of themselves. In the NBA, in terms of thrilling, game-deciding big shots, the Class of 2009 has to rank among the best.
The lingering question, in the wake of a series that shouldn't have lasted seven games but did, is whether Houston exposed flaws in the Lakers that will eventually cost them a championship, or if the Rockets were just a particularly troublesome matchup for the Lakers and presented problems that few other teams can.
When Kobe Bryant was asked what he learned about the Lakers after a grueling seven-game Western Conference semifinal series against the Rockets that culminated with an 89-70 (RECAP | BOX) win Sunday, he didn't hesitate before answering.
Five playoff observations from a stunning upset and a spectacular last second finish.
SI.com's NBA writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the league each week.
LOS ANGELES -- Soft. It was a word that hung over the Lakers like a dark cloud during last year's NBA Finals and continued to haunt them during the off-season. Every time they were pushed and didn't push back, every time they were fouled hard and didn't return the favor, every time someone stood up to them and they didn't stand just a little bit taller, that word would rear its ugly head.
Five observations while wondering why the rust that seemed to be caked all over the Lakers on Monday wasn't seen anywhere on the Cavaliers.
When Yao Ming had to be helped off the floor to the locker room with an apparent knee injury Monday, the Lakers might have known trouble was on the way. In another second half of another opening game 11 months ago, Paul Pierce returned from an injury that saw him taken off the court in a wheelchair to nail them with three-pointers while establishing Boston's control of the NBA Finals.
The final stats didn't tell the whole story. They never do with the Rockets, a team that has shined since losing its leading scorer (Tracy McGrady) and is captained by a player (Shane Battier) who averages around seven points and five rebounds a game.
LOS ANGELES -- Lakers players, for the most part, have fit snugly into consistent roles over the last two seasons. Kobe Bryant is the top scorer, the focal point of the team's offense. Pau Gasol is the secondary scorer, the Lakers' most consistent low-post presence who can be counted on to keep the offense moving in Bryant's absence. Lamar Odom (scoring, passing), Derek Fisher (three-point shooting, defense), Trevor Ariza (defense, hustle plays) and Sasha Vujacic (three-point shooting) have each carved out a nice niche for themselves, too.
The Clippers will close the season as one of the NBA's most disappointing teams. Next month there will be another lottery, and in June another high draft pick. They will hope to do as well in the draft process as they did a year ago in choosing Eric Gordon.
SI.com NBA writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the league each week.