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Gilbert Arenas, who was cleared to begin rehabilitating
his surgically repaired left knee over the weekend, still
plans to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Washington
Wizards to become an unrestricted free agent. But he doesn't plan
to file the necessary paperwork with the league any sooner than
the June 30 deadline. The free agency period opens
July 1, and Arenas has until June 30 to opt out of a deal that would
pay him $12.8 million with the Wizards next season. Yesterday, via
a text message, he revealed his plan to wait until the final day.
asked why he planned on waiting until June 30 to opt out, Arenas
wrote, "I just want to wait." Arenas expects
to make a full recovery by the time training camp opens in October.
Yesterday, he wrote that he has followed his plan so far: traveling
and spending time with his family when he might otherwise be in
the gym working on his game. "Everything feels good now,"
he wrote. "I have to get it strong this month." Washington
I changed the
subject -- although it was fun to think about playing cards with
those guys, the lapping Pacific in the background. I
asked if Baron Davis will return next season. I expected Nelson
to stonewall. "Of course, he's coming back," Nelson said.
"Why?" "He has one year left at $17 million. That'll
do it. Press
get the feeling that Dumars will, indeed, break up the core group
this time around. There's a chance that one, maybe
two pieces, will be different in the starting lineup. Many expect
one of those players not back next season is forward Rasheed Wallace.
What a difference a year makes. After Wallace blew up in the fourth
quarter of Game 6 in the conference finals against Cleveland last
season -- he was ejected -- many fans cried for the Pistons to get
rid of him because of his antics. Detroit
be 34 in September. He has one year left on his contract ($13.7
million). Because of that, and because he still can be a force especially
in a contract year, Wallace has trade value. Certainly
Dumars will at least test the waters to see what return he might
be able to get on Wallace. He might even look to package him with
another starter. Detroit
A league executive
responded to a story in Saturday's Newsday that said NBA executives
don't believe Stephon Marbury has trade value, even with his expiring
has value, but it is limited," the executive said. "Could
you convince somebody to suffer through a year of paying 'Starbury'
in order to have financial freedom? The problem for the Knicks is
that they wouldn't want to take on players that would be on the
books in 2010." Newsday
See if you've
heard this one before: The Spurs need younger, more athletic players
who can beat people off the dribble. It's exactly what they should
have added last July, instead of bringing in another aging standstill
shooter in Damon Stoudamire, whose only action against the Lakers
in the West finals was nine minutes of mop-up duty in the Spurs'
30-point loss in Game 2. This
summer they can offer the mid-level exception, but they're not going
to break up their nucleus of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Limited by what could be an arthritic condition in his ankle, Ginobili
scored 10 points or less in all four losses to L.A. New
York Daily News / June 1
seemingly smallest piece in the Pau Gasol-to-the-L.A. Lakers
trade could end up being the biggest asset the Memphis Grizzlies
received. Check out who could be their next big import.
to re-sign with the Nuggets he would have to opt out of the last
year of his current deal, which means he would be leaving almost
$22 million on the table. Most have speculated that if he did opt
out, the 33-year-old Iverson would then sign a new three-year deal
with the Nuggets; the question is how much money Iverson would get
over the course of the next three seasons. If
he agreed to a deal which averaged $10 million annually through
the 2010-11 season that would open up a substantial amount of flexibility
for the Nuggets financially, thus allowing the organization to restructure
the roster. It would also allow Iverson the ability to make $8 million
more than he would be due to make next season by the end of the
three-year pact. HoopsWorld
This may be
different. This is why he finally nagged the Clippers into a release.
“I got traded to a losing franchise,” said Cassell,
referring to the 2005 deal that sent him from Minnesota to the Clippers.
“It’s the winning attitude and the winning atmosphere
that I remember from being with Houston. “They have it here,
and it’s something that starts in training camp, September
and October, with 15 or 20 guys saying, ‘This is our goal,’
and some teams don’t have that goal.” Cassell
was on some of those teams. He never wants to go back there. “Minnesota
was different from the Clippers,” he said. “They would
play good for 44 minutes and then lose the game. One year they lost
23 games by four points or less. That just takes your confidence
Just like 1987,
the last time the storied rivals met in the Finals. "I
don't think any of these players have a semblance of an idea what
the rivalries were in the '60s or '80s," Jackson said. Bryant
begged to differ. "I remember it like it was yesterday.
My grandfather used to send me tapes of the series, and I used to
just watch them over and over," said Bryant, 29, who spent
part of his youth in Italy, where his father's basketball career
took the family. Boston
most of this period, the Celtics gave out rings only to players
winning their first championship. The rest of the squad got cuff
links, goblets, captain's chairs, or pendants with a shamrock and
a little diamond. "My wife and daughter wore the
pendants," Ramsey said. When the Celtics won their first title
in 1957, Ramsey's playoff check was $1,500. "That helped you
get through the summer and buy groceries," he recalled. Los
The Lakers likely
will start out with Vladimir Radmanovic on Paul Pierce — with
Luke Walton, Trevor Ariza and Odom as other options. But if the
Lakers want to give Sasha Vujacic extensively playing time once
again with the idea that Vujacic can hound Boston sharpshooter Ray
Allen the way that he did San Antonio's Manu Ginobili last round,
then Bryant will slide to small forward a lot and match up with
Pierce. If it's Pierce, Lakers
assistant coach Tex Winter said Bryant has to "stay attached,
which is hard for Kobe to do." But Winter also said: "You
don't want to put Kobe on Allen. Allen has always been very effective
against Kobe. Kobe just won't pay enough attention to him."
battle Boston's Kevin Garnett -- two of the elite power forwards
of our time -- offered a fascinating contrast in personalities.
the court, Garnett can be a jerk. He is rude to ball boys and locker
room attendants. He gets himself so intensely wound before games,
he's even a jerk to his teammates at times. But on the court, Garnett
is the perfect teammate. He plays hard every second
he's on the floor. He shares the ball. He executes the game plan
completely and without questioning anything. If the coach says to
cut, he cuts. If the coach says to play zone, he plays zone. Detroit
the court is one of the warmest and funniest guys in the league.
isn't a ball boy or locker room attendant that he hasn't tipped
lavishly. You think back on all the things he has done -- buying
championship belts for his teammates, working patiently and tirelessly
with the young guys on the team, working tirelessly for underprivileged
kids in the community -- he has a heart of gold. But on the court,
Wallace can be a jerk. There are times, because he
is so ridiculously skilled, he just gets bored and lax. He doesn't
always agree with the game plan, but instead of arguing about it
before the game, he sometimes tries to rebel against it during the
center Eddy Curry, who had season-ending knee surgery March 17,
has been cleared to begin his offseason workout program this week.
And the 6-11, 290-pound Curry, who is back working out at Tim Grover's
Attack Athletics facility in Chicago, can expect a full regimen
of wind sprints to prepare Big Eddy for new coach Mike D'Antoni's
up-tempo system. D'Antoni, who had to incorporate the equally lumbering
Shaquille O'Neal in his run-and-gun style with the Phoenix Suns,
said he hopes to utilize Curry a great deal in the game plan next
season. And it's up to Grover to get Curry prepared for it. "It's
never that he can't, it's does he want to?" said Grover, who
has worked with Curry since he entered the NBA out of high school
in 2001 and is fully aware of Curry's issues with putting in the
started benching Curry late in games and said Curry was not suited
for the new style of the NBA game. D'Antoni doesn't believe that.
Neither does Grover. In the D'Antoni system, the big man usually
follows the break and can be an outlet for a mid-range jumper, something
Curry insists he has in his repertoire, though Thomas never tried
to utilize it. D'Antoni
also is sure to incorporate a lot of the pick-and-roll plays that
Curry and Jamal Crawford turned into alley-oops. All the D'Antoni
system calls for from Curry is to remain in constant motion. "If
he does," Grover said, "then he'll get baskets very easy."
United States will complete its training for the Olympics with exhibition
games in Shanghai against European champion Russia and Australia.
The Americans will play the Russians, who stunned world champion
Spain in Madrid to win last summer's European title, on Aug. 3 at
Qizhong Arena. Russia is led by Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko,
who was the tournament's MVP. Two days later, the U.S.
team will face Australia, whose top player is Milwaukee Bucks center
Andrew Bogut. The Americans crushed the Australians, the Oceania
champions, 113-73 when they met two years ago in a round of 16 game
at the world championships. AP
would you tell the Clippers to make your case for playing in LA?
Kevin Love: Well knowing the situation, I would be talking to Elton
Brand, trying to get him to opt out of his contract (laughs). Other
than that though, I mean they have Elton Brand already so I haven’t
set up anything with the Clippers yet. But
LA is a great place and it’s been great to me especially because
of UCLA and the fan base I have there. With that 7th pick I feel
like that would be a good opportunity for me as well; I could learn
from Brand and play alongside Kaman, but we’ll just have to
Milwaukee bringing you in at all, do you know? Kevin Love: I don’t
know if they are. Reporter: Have you been to Milwaukee? Do you have
any thoughts on that? Kevin Love: Hey, I’m just saying, any
place that’s going to draft me…I
know Bogut. I used to watch Bogut in college. Then there’s
Yi, I mean how many people are watching him each night, there’s
billions. So I think it would be a great place for me, I could play
alongside those guys. DraftExpress.com
What have you been doing to prepare for the draft? Kevin
Love: I’ve been at the Home Depot Center working my butt off.
I get up at 6:30 and get to the gym by 8. Also, I’ve been
on the Sun Fair diet where Sun Fair delivers your meals. Just seeing
the changes to my body, after losing 15 pounds, I feel a lot quicker
and a lot more explosive. I feel great. It’s
been strenuous, it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever
done, but it’s going to be worth it come draft night. I want
to come into training camp and next season even better prepared
than I am now, I just want to be ready to go. DraftExpress.com
are you eating now that you didn’t before? What did you have
to give up? Kevin Love: I’d say the only thing I had to give
up was my chocolate milk fetish. I think everyone has their one
thing, and chocolate milk was probably it for me. I’m always
drinking water, but other than that, it was never really about what
I ate, it was just when I ate it. After a 7:30 game in college,
you get back to the hotel around 12 o’clock and you’re
with my portions, I just had to minimize that, and Sun Fair has
really been doing it for me. Also just getting into the gym and
running, working out six hours a day, has really done a lot for
me. Reporter: What did you weigh before you started training for
this? Kevin Love: I weighed upper 260’s and I’m hoping
to weigh in tomorrow at 250 to 255. DraftExpress.com
How do you feel about the rule requiring players to go to college
first? How did you feel going in? How do you feel now coming out?
Kevin Love: I feel like college not only made me a better player,
but it made me a better person both on and off the court.
I’ve always been put in a leadership role and being a freshman
it was a little different in that respect with my other teammates.
Having my teammates there supporting me and bringing me in, that
really helped me. Also off the court as well; going to school and
making honor roll was really good for me. It was big for my parents
as well. I think school really has prepared me. At first I didn’t
know what I was doing; I was throwing myself into different interviews
and different workouts all at the same time, so I really had to
manage my schedule, time management was huge for me. So that’s
just an example there of how school really helped me. DraftExpress.com
I’m working out twice a day with Coach John Lucas in Houston;
I have a trainer down in Houston also, so I’ve been lifting
weights, and doing conditioning and skill work. DraftExpress:
What has been the biggest emphasis skill wise that you’ve
been working on? D.J. Augustin: Just being able to get bigger guards
off of me, being able to play against the bigger guards.
I have a lot of help with T.J. Ford down in Houston teaching me
tricks. I’m just trying to learn as much as possible. DraftExpress.com
Is there any player in the NBA that you try to model yourself after?
D.J. Augustin: Offensively I try to play like Steve Nash; he has
a lot of crafty shots he gets off against bigger guys. That’s
going to be my main thing; I have to learn to do that. DraftExpress:
You went to Steve Nash’s camp over the summer. Is there anything
you added there specifically that you feel helped you? D.J. Augustin:
Just learning how to run the pick and roll; executing that to perfection.
That’s the biggest thing in the NBA, a lot of teams run pick
and roll the whole game. That’s going to be a big key.
Who is your agent? D.J. Augustin: Thaddeus Foucher DraftExpress:
You hired your agent kind of late in the process; what went into
that decision? Why did it take so long? D.J. Augustin: I just like
to take my time with every decision I make, I don’t like to
rush things. I sat down with my family, we picked the
guy I felt the most comfortable with, and that’s how it went.
I took my time and went who I felt comfortable with; I think it
was a good decision. DraftExpress.com
What player would you compare yourself to? Anthony Randolph: I don’t
know, I really haven’t been any thought into that. Most likely
though, Tayshaun Prince and Chris Bosh. DraftExpress:
Based on what you’ve been hearing from teams, what would you
say is your draft range right now? Anthony Randolph: I’m hearing
anywhere from four to ten. DraftExpress.com
having a number of second-round picks are great assets to have,
and we can look at those at several different ways,” said
Sonics general manager Sam Presti. "Come draft night I'm sure
they will be popular in trade (proposals), but they'll also be popular
in our draft room in terms of making the best use of those.
"We could certainly look at international players. We could
also look at domestic players as well. I think you're just looking
to make the best use of the pick regardless of where it is in the
draft.” Although the names of this year's international prospects
are not familiar — especially not those projected to go in
the second round — overseas prospects rarely are household
names before starting their NBA careers. The one saving grace for
the Sonics is Presti is the man in charge. Presti, the former San
Antonio front-office exec, was instrumental in the Spurs selecting
Tony Parker with the 28th overall pick in 2001. Oklahoman
It'll be up
to Presti and his staff to find a diamond in the second-round rough
like Anderson Varejao in 2004, Zaza Pachuilia in 2003, Luis Scola
in 2002, Mehmet Okur in 2001, Marko Jaric in 2000 and Gordon Giricek
and Manu Ginobili in 1999. "The
draft is an unpredictable thing,” Presti said. "We have
to continue to do our work and make the best decision that we can.
It's not easy to find players of that caliber, but
we're going to do our work and try to put ourselves in the best
position to add a player at each position that we feel can help
The Pacers have
the 11th and 41st picks in the June 26 draft. Team officials have
said they need to address the point guard and post positions, but
they also haven't ruled out taking the best available player, regardless
of position, when it's time for their pick. The
Pacers will bring in players who are projected around their picks,
meaning players such as UCLA's Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love,
Texas' D.J. Augustin and Texas A&M's DeAndre Jordan likely will
work out at the fieldhouse. North Carolina's Ty Lawson
said last week that he has a workout scheduled with the Pacers.
The Pacers have plenty of film on players they don't work out in
case they acquire another pick through a trade. Indianapolis
IU's D.J. White
is not currently on the Pacers' schedule. The
Pacers won't select the forward at No. 11 and there's talk that
he'll already be gone by the time they pick in the second round.
White could work out for them as the draft nears. Indianapolis
the Fan 590, the Raptors, who currently hold the 17th pick, will
bring in six players a day from Tuesday-Thursday. Notable
players tentatively scheduled to work out in front of Bryan Colangelo
and co. include swingmen Brandon Rush, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Bill
Walker and centre Robin Lopez. Toronto
definitely excited, but I just am not real sure (what he'll decide),"
Anderson said last week at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in
Sacramento. "When I do these workouts, I'll get a lot of feedback
from (teams), and they'll tell me what to do. Hopefully, it's a
clear answer." The latest information from various
teams, Anderson said, had him going from "16 to 25." "I'm
hoping for that," he said. "That would be amazing."
comments by Alabama coach Mark Gottfried declaring that junior point
guard Ron Steele will return for his senior season, Steele has not
made a final decision. Steele's mother, Linda, told
The Huntsville Times this afternoon that she spoke with her son
earlier in the day and he was still considering keeping his name
in the NBA draft and not returning to school. "It's actually
not 100 percent certain," Mrs. Steele said. "I talked
to Ron earlier today. (Returning to school) is the way he's leaning.
But he hasn't just made a complete decision yet. He's going to make
that decision in another day or two for sure." Huntsville
guard Ron Steele has decided to return to school for his senior
season, postponing his pursuit of a career in the NBA. Tide coach
Mark Gottfried told ESPN.com that Steele will withdraw from the
NBA draft. "Ron
made a great a decision," Gottfried said. "He's a smart
person, who evaluated this whole process and I believe that he will
again be considered one of the premier point guards in the country
next year and at the end of next year be a first-round pick.''
a first-round spot - and the guaranteed two-year deal that comes
with it - is far from a certainty. It remains to be seen if that's
enough to convince the recent graduate to return for his senior
season at Alabama. Because he hasn't hired an agent,
he has until June 16 to withdraw his name and return to the Crimson
Tide. "It's a numbers game, and only so many are going in that
first round," said T.R. Dunn, another former Alabama player
and current Houston Rockets assistant. "There are 30 teams
in the NBA, and they aren't going to add any more." Huntsville
good ... "I like him a lot. He's a workhorse and brings it
every night." - an Eastern Conference director of player personnel.
"I believe players should do the things they're good at. I
think too many people make the mistake of coming here and trying
to do things they've got no business doing. I'd say 'Play your game'
to Hendrix. He's definitely a rebounder, and I know he can score
inside. He's got a lot of plusses." - an Eastern
Conference general manager. "He was a much better player than
I anticipated. I just enjoyed him a lot. I didn't have any prior
knowledge about him, but he surprised me." - Brian James, Hendrix's
coach during the early part of the week. The bad ... "Can he
pick-and-pop? Does he have a go-to move on the box? It's not there.
He has very good instincts and is a good passer, but the whole thing
is not there yet." - an Eastern Conference scout. "He's
got a big, strong body, but he's not overly mobile or active. He
could go back to school and get better, but there's also a chance
he won't. What we see now is what we may get." - a Western
Conference GM. Huntsville
Staying in this
draft is certainly a risk - and Hendrix knows it - if he wants to
be a first-round selection. Only one of the projected top 20 picks
this year is a junior - and a majority of them are freshmen. For
years, teams have drafted on potential over productivity. Hendrix
has two weeks to change some teams' minds. "The
scary thing is you never know what will happen on draft day,"
Hendrix said. "But the deadline is June 16th, right? Why not
take it right down to the wire?" Huntsville
for the NBA draft but not signing with an agent, Mbah a Moute left
open the opportunity to return to college. Yet he is shelling out
a few thousand dollars to train for NBA workouts, and he enlisted
Joe Abunassar to help him turn his inconsistent jump shot into an
asset and work his way into the June 26 draft. "Consistency
is very important to me on a jump shot," said Abunassar, who
runs Impact Basketball training company. "The real thing with
Luc is getting him repetition. Luc needs to be a dangerous mid-range
guy, which he's very much become. "His 3-point shooting has
gotten much, much better, and it's going to continue to improve.
Mostly with him, it's the consistency of his release and his footwork."
Brey said the NBA could mimic baseball’s system, in which
prospects can sign professional contracts straight out of high school.
If they choose not to, however, they must spend three years in college
or be at least 21 before re-entering the draft. Two years in college
may be more realistic for basketball. But the NBA, which raised
its minimum age two seasons ago to force players to go to college,
would probably not go along with that. Solutions
will be discussed through the summer recruiting period, but none
is imminent. “From my perspective, there is no silver bullet
to all this,” said Jim Haney, the executive director of the
National Association of Basketball Coaches. “It’s all
about ethics and character. You can’t legislate that.”
Doug Collins watch is winding down: Barring any last-minute hiccups,
Bulls are expected to introduce him as their next coach at a midweek
news conference. An announcement of Collins' hiring could come as
early as Tuesday, a source said, with a formal introduction Wednesday.
Sources told the Sun-Times last Thursday that Collins, who coached
the Bulls from 1986 until he was fired in '89, had agreed to return.
a source said Collins and general manager John Paxson have discussed
which assistants would land on Collins' staff, another indication
Collins is nearing a return to the franchise that fired him in 1989
after three successful seasons. Paxson's initial statement,
released Thursday, that confirmed he and Collins had discussed the
job also indicated Paxson would interview other candidates. No interviews
took place over the weekend. Chicago
a published report, Bulls general manager John Paxson never intended
to talk to another former NBA coach about the job over the weekend.
Speculation is that Paxson will want Collins to give a spot on his
coaching staff to one of the candidates the Bulls have interviewed
over the last six weeks. Collins
could groom that person to eventually succeed him. Utah Jazz assistants
Tyrone Corbin and Jeff Hornacek, former Minnesota Timberwolves coach
Dwane Casey and Sacramento Kings assistant Chuck Person interviewed
with Paxson. He also met with Los Angeles Lakers assistants
Kurt Rambis and Brian Shaw and former New York Knicks guard Mark
Jackson, currently an analyst for ESPN. Chicago
told the Tribune Thursday that Collins initiated this process with
a May 23 phone call, three days after the Bulls overcame 1.7 percent
odds to land the No. 1 pick in the June 26 NBA draft.
He interviewed with Paxson and team Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in
San Antonio on Memorial Day and has had at least one known follow-up
phone discussion. Chicago
met briefly with Pistons president Joe Dumars on Saturday and all
indications are that he was told he will be back. Understand
that with the Pistons, a coach's job security can change in an instant,
but as of today, the plan is for Saunders to finish out the final
year of his contract. He's already working on next season. He will
supervise a workout of draft candidates at the practice facility
the news part. Don
Nelson is returning to coach the Warriors next season. He informed
the Warriors of his decision two weeks ago. How do I know? Because
he told me. How did he tell me if I'm in California and he's in
Maui? I called him, that's how. I called the other
day and got his voice message, and he phoned back the next day and
dropped the news nugget on me. In the interest of total disclosure,
I must add he subsequently flew to his Oakland penthouse to prepare
for the NBA draft. At least, that's what he said he was planning
to do. Press
won't make that judgment until the end of the year. I'll see what
happens and how I feel." I stuck with health questions for
a while. I asked how he feels now -- sports people love to talk
about that stuff. "I feel great," he said.
"I'm exercising. I lost 10 pounds. But I'm getting bored."
Manager Otis Smith has signed a contract extension with the Magic,
a deal that should run for at least another three seasons.
The deal was expected. Orlando
While the Magic
are on an uptick, Smith has a fairly busy summer, with seven players
who are eligible to become free agents. Twardzik,
who has served as assistant general manager the past two season,
also signed an extension. Orlando
the Summer Olympics two months off and basketball likely one of
the biggest stories at the Beijing Games, Johnson & Johnson
and 24 Hour Fitness have signed as new sponsors of USA Basketball.
The deal complements other Olympic sponsorship rights held by both
companies. J&J is a TOP global Olympic sponsor, and as the official
health care products sponsor also has team rights for more than
20 countries’ Olympic committees, along with Paralympic Games
rights. DePuy Orthopaedics, a company owned by J&J, also has
an endorsement deal with USA Basketball men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski,
who, not coincidentally, has two DePuy hips. Sports
24 Hour Fitness
holds U.S. Olympic Committee rights as official fitness center,
along with rights for 11 national governing bodies. Among
the NBA athletes that are 24 Hour Fitness spokesmen are Yao Ming,
Shaquille O’Neal and hall of famer Magic Johnson. “We’d
like to think what this is saying is that this NGB is one of the
most compelling,” said Mark Tatum, senior vice president of
marketing partnerships for the NBA, which sells USA Basketball rights.
“When you look at the activation from brands like McDonald’s
and State Farm, that says a lot.” Sports
So on Saturday
afternoon, I put a call into Bobby Jackson to discuss the Sac Pro
League that starts on Monday at Capital Christian High in Sacramento.
(More info on that must-see event here) But the voice on the other
end didn't sound anything like the former Kings player and current
Houston guard. It was, I would find out, a young man named Ben.
Ben was nice enough to tell me that this was no longer Bobby's number,
but I couldn't resist asking what it's like to have the old line
of a guy who is as popular in NBA circles as he is among Kings fans.
What's more, Jackson is a yapper in every sense, whether he's talking
trash on the floor or chatting with friends, colleagues or family
off it. As Ben explained, his new phone has opened a window into
the world of an NBA player. "I
get text messages asking me to sign trading cards, and every time
there's a basketball game I get a call or more text messages,"
said Ben, who is an IT manager at a construction company locally
but didn't want to share his last name. "I don't mind it. I
just tell people they've got the wrong number."
however, don't believe him. "I've had people asking for money,
saying like, 'Yeah, I owe somebody so much money and I'm broke and
could you please send me some,'" he said. "I'll tell them
they've got the wrong number and they won't believe me. Ben said
he's not a basketball fan, but he will occasionally watch the Kings
and was well aware of who Jackson was. As
for Bobby himself, I eventually tracked him down and had a laugh
about the mixup. "That's exactly why I changed my number,"
he said. Sacramento
with election day almost here, Johnson is in the unlikely role of
underdog, his poll numbers plummeting, his golden reputation sullied.
Reports circulated by foes and the local media have shattered Johnson's
choirboy image. In the grainy netherworld of hit mailers and scandal-fanning
websites, he's been rebranded as a child molester, slumlord, creep.
He's accused of letting properties rot, of fondling young girls.
For an altruistic
athlete named one of the "15 Greatest Men on Earth" by
McCall's magazine, who received the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship
Award and was named a "Point of Light" by former President
George Bush, the fusillade has been tough to take. "Politics
are dirtier and more physical than the NBA," said Johnson,
42. Johnson, known to friends and fans simply as KJ, is trying to
overcome the hurricane headwinds of this campaign the only way he
knows how: with hustle and determination, by running hard, literally.
at the time in Calabasas, the three-time Oklahoma All-American,
1984 Olympic gold medalist and 12-year NBA veteran was making his
way downstairs in the middle of the night when he heard something
snap. It was his right leg. The 6-foot-9 former power
forward, who says he never suffered a broken bone in college or
during an NBA career in which he averaged 15 points and six rebounds,
had not tripped or fallen, but he ended up gently settling onto
his backside. Sitting there on the stairs, he says, he wondered
how his leg could break so easily. Los
Two months and
countless tests later he had his answer: bone cancer. Doctors told
him a cancerous cyst below his right knee had caused the injury.
I first heard," Tisdale, 43, says of his initial reaction to
the cancer diagnosis, "I reflected back on my life and thought,
'I had a great life, I had a great time, I did a lot.' I lived two
careers that most people only dream of." Los
they told me what I had to go through to get well, the approach
I took was, 'Let's do it.' Because of basketball, I wasn't no stranger
to battles, I wasn't no stranger to hard work, I wasn't no stranger
to pain." Still, a summer tour had to be scrapped.
Chemotherapy sapped his strength. In July, Tisdale had his knee
replaced during an eight-hour procedure. By the fall, however, he
was walking with the aid of crutches and, newly energetic, feeling
well enough to record his new album in West Hollywood. Los
Axelson, a former executive and general manager with the NBA's Cincinnati
Royals, has died at the age of 80. Axelson's son say
he died yesterday at his home near San Diego. He didn't release
a cause of death. Axelson started with the Royals before the team
moved to Kansas City-Omaha and became the Kings. The team later
shifted to Sacramento. WTOL.com
resigned from the Kansas City Kings in 1979 to become the NBA's
director of operations. The position managed the officiating staff
and has become more widely known while being manned by Rod Thorn
and now Stu Jackson. Axelson returned to the Kings in 1982. "He
came back to the Kings because the team was floundering," Reynolds
said, "and the organization believed it needed him." Axelson
was quoted by the New York Times with this description of his new
five-year deal with the Kings: "It's a typical NBA contract,
paying me about four times what I'm worth." Reynolds said the
fondest memory he had of Axelson stemmed from meetings Axelson held
with the coaches and basketball staff. "We'd have these 'road
win lunches,' " Reynolds said of his days as a Kings assistant.
"Joe would be kind of charming and witty and tell all kinds
of stories about the league and players. He had a lot of insight.
Of course, we didn't have as many of those lunches as we'd have
liked. But Joe knew road wins were hard to come by." Sacramento
he believed the league's growth ultimately became Axelson's biggest
hurdle as an executive. "He'd been in the league when it was
basically a small business, but that changed. I remember when the
salary cap went up to $12 million. Joe thought that was ridiculous."
said he didn't always agree with Axelson's calls. "I know I
wanted to take (Dennis) Rodman (in 1986) or Scott Skiles,"
Reynolds said, "but Joe wanted to take Harold Pressley. But
I do know this: (in 1987) Joe was set to take Scottie Pippen, but
Chicago's (GM) Jerry Krause made a deal with (former Kings executive)
Bob Whitsitt to jump ahead and get Pippen." Sacramento
an athlete whose career is almost as notable for the causes he has
championed as for his achievements as one of a handful of Britons
to flourish in the NBA, believes it is an opportunity they should
37-year-old will travel to Beijing as Amnesty International's first
sporting ambassador and will use the platform provided by his sporting
pedigree, and his role as a BBC commentator, to highlight China's
broken promises over human rights. Speaking exclusively
to the Guardian, he urged athletes bound for Beijing to do likewise.
"During their Olympic bid Beijing said the Games would be used
to improve the human rights situation in China. They opened the
door to that scrutiny and by aligning myself with Amnesty I hope
that we can help hold those promises to account," he says.
"People who have issues with the policies and behaviour of
the Chinese authorities should speak out. Guardian
/ May 31
arrested Spurs guard DerMarr Johnson over the weekend and charged
him with driving while intoxicated. Johnson, 28, was
released Sunday morning after posting $1,000 bail. A breath test
showed the 6-foot-9 basketball player had exceeded the legal limit
of 0.08 percent, police said. “I just had a few cups of wine,”
Johnson said as he left the city's detention center. San
p.m. Saturday, a traffic officer pulled over a black SUV on Loop
1604 near Interstate 10 West because it was traveling 20 mph over
the speed limit, weaving and following other vehicles too closely,
police spokesman Joe Rios said. The
officer noticed that Johnson, the driver, smelled of “intoxicants”
and his speech was slurred, Rios said. After a field sobriety test,
Johnson was taken downtown, where he submitted to a breath test.
“He was very cooperative,” Rios said. Asked if he believed
the arrest would affect his position with the Spurs, Johnson said,
“I don't know. Probably so.” Tom James,
a spokesman for the Spurs, declined to comment, citing a lack of
details. “At this point, our main focus is working to gather
more information,” he said. San
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the "flip side," assistant Michael Curry - not Terry Porter,
a leading candidate for the Suns' vacancy, or Dave Cowens - is certain
to succeed Saunders. The former Pistons guard, union
president and league official was a Dumars appointment last summer.
Curry was placed in position to inherit management's enduring grand
expectations (that cannot be realized unless a relatively young,
established big man is imported) should its objective prove unattainable.
At least Flip's coaching finally helped the Big Ticket get to the
Big Dance, zaps column contributor Michael Dortheimer. New
More than two
hours later, the perceived top candidate to replace him emerged.
Assistant coach Michael Curry talked briefly about his future with
the Pistons but said he didn’t speak about the top job with
team executives Saturday morning. “It
hasn’t been discussed,” Curry said. “We just finished
the season. My mind was focused on the opportunity that we had to
get to the Finals. My mind wasn’t on nothing else and no other
team prior to now.” Detroit
a year remaining on the four-year, $20 million deal he signed in
2005 which had incentives that could have increased his salary by
another $6 million. But considering how his teams have struggled
in the playoffs, it's hard to imagine the Pistons bringing him back
for another season. These
Pistons players haven't exactly given Saunders a ringing endorsement
in the past, but Tayshaun Prince was quick to acknowledge after
the team's Game 6 loss to Boston on Friday that the defeat was more
on them than anything Saunders did. "The media has talked about
the last couple of years as far as us losing in the Eastern Conference
finals, it's Flip's fault. (Friday's loss) was a prime
example that it wasn't," Prince said. "Us as players it's
up to us to respond and really close the game out like we should."
Pistons losing in the Eastern Conference finals has put Flip Saunders'
future as the Pistons head coach in limbo. But he may not be the
only member of the coaching staff on his way out. Assistant
coaches Terry Porter and Michael Curry are both candidates for NBA
head coaching jobs in Phoenix and Chicago, respectively.
Both have been reluctant to say much about their job prospects elsewhere
because their attention was focused on trying to get the Pistons
to the NBA Finals. Michigan
who coached the Milwaukee Bucks for two seasons (2004-2005), has
already interviewed once with the Suns and is among a handful that
Phoenix GM Steve Kerr will talk with a second time.
"I'm thankful I'm in the second round process," Porter
said on Saturday. "Go down there and do the best that I can
do, and see how it plays out." Kerr has been in Orlando at
the NBA pre-draft camp to scout prospective players, as well as
speak with potential head coaching candidates. Michigan
If the Pistons
fire Saunders, both would be under consideration to become Detroit's
head coach. If the Pistons went with someone more experienced, former
Dallas coach Avery Johnson will likely get some interest as well.
"I'm not touching that question," Porter said.
"I respect Flip for giving me an opportunity to come here,
and Joe (Dumars) giving me an opportunity to come here. I learned
a lot under both of them. We'll see how it plays out. But I'm not
going to touch that." Michigan
Collins' broadcasting duties have concluded and general manager
John Paxson returned from the predraft camp on Friday with no plans
to travel throughout the weekend. Given the fact Collins
already has interviewed formally with Paxson and team Chairman Jerry
Reinsdorf and had a follow-up phone interview, not to mention the
three principals' long relationships, only negotiations would remain
to make Collins coach. Chicago
are several versions of the story behind the re-emergence
of the LA Lakers, but does the true story give Kobe Bryant
enough credit for the way he pushed Mitch Kupchak to radically
improve the team?
statement indicated he wanted to interview other candidates until
Collins' TNT work ended. There were no plans for any weekend interviews.
close to Collins remain convinced the job is his. Collins has shared
his excitement about getting the job with confidantes.
source close to the situation believes if Paxson holds any further
interviews, they would involve second visits with known candidates.
Two strong possibilities are Utah assistant Tyrone Corbin and Sacramento
assistant Chuck Person. Corbin met a second time with
Phoenix general manager Steve Kerr about the Suns' vacancy, according
to reports. The buzz at the Orlando predraft camp had Detroit assistant
Terry Porter emerging as a front-runner for that position. Arlington
Heights Daily Herald
Jackson hopes to go from the microphone to the sideline, just as
Doc Rivers did. Rivers took over as the Celtics coach in 2004 after
spending a year working at ABC as an NBA analyst. Jackson is currently
an analyst for ABC and has interviewed for head coaching jobs with
New York, Chicago, and Phoenix. Rivers didn't have
any head coaching experience prior to getting hired by Orlando in
1999; he was an analyst for Turner Sports for three years before
that. Jackson has no head coaching experience, either. "Doc
is a guy that really opened the door and allowed it to be a reality,"
Jackson said. "When you think about going from the booth to
coaching with no experience, here is a guy who has done it and been
Rivers, "I told him this, 'All you want to do is win, and if
that's your reason for coaching, I think you'll have a chance to
be successful.' I think he will be." Jackson played
for such esteemed coaches as Pat Riley, Larry Brown, Larry Bird,
Lenny Wilkens, Jeff Van Gundy, and Jerry Sloan. He was a finalist
for the Knicks job before Mike D'Antoni was hired, isn't expected
to get the Suns job because they want a more experienced coach,
and is expected to lose out on the Chicago job to Doug Collins.
"I've been playing for Hall of Fame coaches, and it's something
I'm excited about," said Jackson. "If I didn't get an
opportunity and I'm still calling games, I'm fine." Boston
Jackson was notified by Steve Kerr the Suns plan to hire someone
with NBA coaching experience. This from the team's top personnel
executive who had no front office experience when hired last summer.
I assume Jackson might've learned a thing or two playing the game
for 17 regular seasons and 14 postseasons. Does anyone honestly
believe if Steve Nash retired tomorrow morning and wanted to coach
the Suns, we'd hear word one about his lack of know-how? He'd have
the job by nightfall. New
league source has informed HOOPSWORLD that the Raptors are prepared
to do whatever it takes to keep restricted free agent Jose Calderon.
This same source confirmed that the Raptors have been sending out
feelers around the league to see what they might be able to get
in return for T.J. Ford. HoopsWorld.com
With the Heat
eager to clear big 2009 salary-cap space to add another elite player,
one logical scenario -- if the Bulls pass up on Derrick Rose --
would be drafting Rose at No. 2 (Miami's hope) and pursuing potential
free agent power forwards Carlos Boozer or Elton Brand in the summer
of 2009. But if Miami drafts and keeps power forward Michael Beasley,
Pat Riley faces harder decisions. Although
nothing can be assumed in free agency, an associate said Boozer
-- who has a residence here -- likes Dwyane Wade and would be very
receptive to Heat interest in 2009, when he is expected to opt out
of his Utah contract. Miami
a liking for Miami when he signed a Heat offer sheet that the Clippers
matched in 2003. Brand can opt out this summer, but the Clippers
do not expect that. They believe he will sign an extension or play
for $16.4 million next season and become an 2009 free agent. So
if the Heat drafts and keeps Beasley, what about playing Beasley
(6-9) alongside Boozer (6-8) or Brand (6-8)? One
rival executive said that could work. But, ''it wouldn't be an ideal
situation,'' ESPN analyst-former college coach Fran Fraschilla said.
''It would be duplicating each other in some ways.'' Beasley said
he can play small forward, but ESPN's Jay Bilas said it would be
a ''tougher challenge'' defensively, and Fraschilla said that's
realistic only ``in bits and pieces.'' Miami
gets Rose or ends up with O.J. Mayo and makes him a point guard,
the Heat likely will need to address point guard via trade. In
addition to Toronto's T.J. Ford, one NBA person said the Heat also
has indicated it likes Chicago's Kirk Hinrich. Miami
It is expected
to be a fruitless endeavor. During the week here at the NBA predraft
camp, Newsday polled several team executives, general managers and
scouts to see if Marbury, a former all-star, had any trade value
at this point. Even
with his valuable expiring contract, most said no. "Personally
I don't think he has much value," one team executive said.
"I don't know who would want to deal with him."
Marbury has proved he can still put up numbers and even defend,
but teams mostly fear his combustibility in the locker room and
history of issues with coaches. Lenny Wilkens, Larry Brown and Isiah
Thomas were each initially endorsed by Marbury -- Thomas was even
his personal choice to be the coach -- but within a year he wound
up feuding with all three and each time the coach eventually lost
his job. So
why should Walsh think things will be any different with Mike D'Antoni?
"Well, I know one thing," Walsh said. "Mike's not
going to be the problem. Let's put it that way."
done his best to impress since the season ended, heading to Los
Angeles to run the Hollywood Hills to rehabilitate his surgically
repaired ankle. Friends say the workouts have been spectacularly
good and he's working into phenomenal shape. Marbury
knows his Knicks career would already be over had Thomas stayed
in power. Sources told The Post that Thomas planned to buy out Marbury's
contract this summer. New
Walsh will keep
an eye on whether Marbury has any lingering issues with teammates.
Malik Rose in particular was irritated when Marbury and Thomas feuded
in Phoenix in November, leading to Marbury leaving the team and
flying home. The Post has reported Thomas sent Marbury home after
their argument. Sources
also say Thomas turned on Marbury because of Marbury's carefree
performance as a witness in Thomas' sexual-harassment trial.
out of the rotation when the playoffs arrived, Jarvis Hayes wouldn't
mind coming back to Detroit next season. "I still like this
situation," said Hayes, who did not play (coaches decision)
in most of the playoffs after appearing in all 82 games during the
regular season. "Flip
tightened his bench. I didn't know it would be this tight. But we'll
see. I still like the situation here. The teammates are good; things
like that." Hayes anticipates having a conversation with Dumars,
Detroit's president of basketball operations, before returning to
his offseason home in Atlanta. Michigan
said he hasn't made up his mind yet about retiring. Theo
Ratliff, who is also giving some thought to retirement, said he'll
sit down with his family to discuss the matter before he makes a
who started 61 games and increased his scoring average by more than
a point over 2006-07, would love to return to the Spurs. “I'm
not ready to hang it up yet,” he said Saturday, after the
final meeting with coaches at the team's practice facility. “I
still feel I can give a team some added help. “In
a perfect world, I'd love to stay here and help reclaim a championship.
But I understand it's a business, so from that standpoint, I have
to remain open-minded.” San
had time to think about being a free agent,” Finley said,
“but it is my future, so it's something that, at
some point, I will have to sit down with my agent and my family
and make a decision about what we have in store.”
Spurs forward Robert Horry said Saturday he's considering stepping
away from the game after winning seven NBA championships in a 16-season
now I'm up in the air," Horry said. "That's all I can
really tell you, up in the air. I want to play, 80
percent of me wants to play and I'm sure as soon as I get in the
gym and see people bouncing the ball it would turn into 100 percent.
So we'll just have to wait and see what happens." Seattle
he returns for a 17th season, he wants it to be as a Spur. “It's
basically here, or nowhere else,” he said, “but I'm
not going to close the door. If somebody has a chance
of going to the playoffs and has a team I respect and players I
like and think I can enjoy battling with, I'd look into that situation.
Other than that, no.” San
played his best game of the playoffs in the Spurs' final game. With
2007 draft pick Tiago Splitter's apparent decision to stay in Spain,
it's more likely the Spurs will re-sign Thomas. San
has emerged as a possible target, but the
Lakers will probably exercise their option to keep him.
and executive vice president of basketball operations Gregg Popovich
said the Spurs are certain to adjust their roster. “We
usually adjust,” he said, “first, based on guys who
don't have a contract, whether they want to come back or we want
them to come back.” San
The Nets have
said they want to keep their three prime free agents - Nachbar and
DeSagana Diop (both unrestricted) and the restricted Nenad Krstic.
Nachbar said the Nets are his first choice. "Come
July 1 when we can talk, they will be the first team," said
Nachbar, who averaged a career-best 9.8 points this past season.
"I appreciate what the Nets have done for me."
The Nets, who
like his shooting, figure to face some competition for his service.
One team that might have interest is the Knicks: Nachbar played
for Mike D'Antoni in Italy. "Mike
is a terrific coach," said Nachbar. When asked how he thinks
D'Antoni will do in New York, Nachbar said, "I can't talk about
that, but I will tell you he is going to be unlike anyone they've
had there in years." New
the Lakers got off to a surprisingly hot start behind Bryant and
Bynum. After the stunning addition of forward-center Pau Gasol via
trade Feb. 1, the Lakers went on to finish with the West's top record,
and Bryant was named NBA MVP. "Once
the season started, I didn't think about a trade or anything like
that," Bryant said. "I just buckled down into what I needed
to do to get this team to play our best basketball."
grew up in Los Angeles watching the Lakers play the Celtics for
NBA titles. Now he's the captain of the Boston team that is back
in the finals for the first time since losing to the Lakers in 1987.
a kid, I hated the Celtics," Pierce said Friday night after
Boston eliminated Detroit to advance to the NBA finals and a matchup
with the Lakers. "I'm going back home to play against my team
that I grew up watching. It's a dream come true, man, just thinking
about it. I think that rivalry really revolutionized
the game of basketball, and now I'm a part of it." Boston
But -- cheerleaders
aside -- the new owners have embraced the history. "The
whole reason to buy this team was to be trustees for the past,"
Wyc Grousbeck, one of the partners who bought the team in 2002 and
named their company Banner 17, said Saturday. "We're
trustees of one of the great franchises in the history of sports,
and we're trying to extend the past. The legacy's the whole idea."
Wallace was a no-show Saturday when most of his teammates were cleaning
out their lockers for the summer. It's not mandatory
for the players to be there, but most arrive to catch up with each
other one last time before each departs for the summer. Michigan
must also decide what to do with Rasheed Wallace, who was a no-show
Saturday. The day got off to a bad start for Wallace when he arrived
late for the team's morning shoot-around. Even his
pre-game routine wasn't quite right. The demonstrative dancing routine
he does with the bench players prior to tip-off, was shorter than
usual. The finger-pointing he does toward fans, encouraging them
to get loud before the game didn't happen. Michigan
But those accomplishments
mean little to this group, if a trip to the NBA Finals isn't awaiting
them in the end. "It's
like a wasted year, another wasted year," Detroit forward Antonio
McDyess said. "You play your heart out in the regular season,
at the end of the playoffs, it's hard to accept sometimes when you
think about it. We worked so hard for nothing."
think that when we lose games – especially (Friday) and in
this series – it's just the little stuff," said Richard
Hamilton. "Even when we play a mediocre team during the regular
season, stuff needs to be pointed out because it will hurt us at
the end of the season. "At the end of the day,
when we lose, we all look bad. We know what it takes to win, and
when we don't do it, it's on us." Toronto
last we left Bostjan Nachbar, the Nets forward was hampered considerably
by a bad back, debating his status of playing for the Slovenian
National Team in the Olympic qualifying tournament and also heading
for free agency. Now, six weeks later, Nachbar still
is headed for free agency. "The back is doing well. I'm running,
doing some light lifting with weights and shooting," said Nachbar
via telephone from Slovenia, where he has created a bit of a rift
regarding the National team. New
The Heat is
looking for a player who can develop quickly enough to contend next
season after a 15-67 finish in 2007-08. And Heat president Pat Riley
also wants a player who is dynamic enough to convince Wade to re-sign
for the long haul when Wade can opt out of his contract in the summer
of 2010. With
only backup Marcus Banks under contract at point guard, Miami is
desperate for an upgrade at the position. But several team executives
believe the Heat's only choice would be Beasley, a power forward,
if Rose is off the board. Riley maintains he has expanded his view
beyond the obvious options. ''There's a consensus two that everyone
talks about,'' Riley said of Rose and Beasley. ``But
there are other guys that light up your eyes when you really look
at them. I can't wait until this camp gets over with.'' Miami
Rose and Beasley—the
former, in his typically humble and self-deprecating manner—both
talked glowingly about the 2005 rule that set the minimum age for
NBA entry at 19. "I'm
so happy that they made that rule," Rose said. "I matured
a lot when I went to Memphis. Coach [John Calipari] helped me so
much, especially last summer, to make me a better player.
I'd be on the bench or probably in the [NBA Development League]
or something if I hadn't gone to college." Chicago
An ex-NBA player
close to the league's predraft camp in Orlando gave his insights
on several of the top performers, including Gary Forbes of the University
of Massachusetts. Forbes "can get to the basket. In
Portsmouth, he was shooting everything. He was very aggressive getting
to the cup [in Orlando]. Teams will like his aggressiveness. He
can score. He can give a little bit of everything. I think he has
a shot at getting drafted. I'm sure people are already looking at
him and he didn't hurt himself. He is on people's radar."
center DeVon Hardin "looked good, he gets off the floor, he's
strong, rebounds well, and was a big defensive presence early than
offensive. Offensively, he showed some things. He may
slide into the first round." Boston
Billups' right hamstring is feeling a lot better, which is why he
doesn't think it'll be an issue when he joins his fellow Team USA
teammates next month for a mini-camp in Las Vegas.
Billups is one of four point guards -- Dallas' Jason Kidd, New Orleans'
Chris Paul and Utah's Deron Williams are the others -- under consideration
by the selection committee that likely will only keep three on the
final 12-man roster. Michigan
star Manu Ginobili expects his injured ankle to be healed for the
Beijing Olympics, allowing him to play for defending champion Argentina.
"It's something that I am looking forward to," he said
Saturday. Practices don't begin until early July, meaning
Ginobili will have more than a month for his ankle recover. The
Olympics are Aug. 8-24. "Yesterday I got an injection to get
the swelling off of the joint, and they told me that in a week,
10 days I'll be totally fine," Ginobili said. "So I trust
them and I think I'm going to be perfectly healed." SI.com
With his impending
free agency, Nachbar is skipping the qualifying tournament because
he will not have insurance without a contract. Some fans back home
understand and some others see something just short of treason.
I'll play for the Olympics if we qualify, and if I have a contract
by then (end of July)," Nachbar said. New
assistant general manager Chris Grant seemed poised a week ago to
become the Hawks' new GM. But an NBA source said the Hawks told
him that they decided to go in a different direction because of
philosophical differences, contract issues, and concerns about experience.
The Hawks ended up hiring ex-Sonics general manager Rick Sund. Other
candidates included Washington vice president of basketball operations
Tommy Sheppard and ex-Magic general John Gabriel. Former Hawks stars
Dominique Wilkins and Steve Smith were not considered. Sund's addition
instantly put the status of coach Mike Woodson in question since
they have no previous relationship. Boston
Hawks chose a veteran executive in Rick Sund to replace Billy Knight
as GM, but only after Chris Grant, a former Hawks employee and now
Danny Ferry's No. 2 man in Cleveland, turned down the job.
Grant has never run a team, while Sund, who was on Donnie Walsh's
short list of potential Knick GMs, has called the shots in Dallas,
Detroit and Seattle during a 30-year front-office career. With Mike
Woodson's contract up, Sund figures to make a run at former Timberwolves
head coach Dwane Casey, whom he had in Seattle as an assistant coach.
Casey has a place waiting for him in Dallas on Rick Carlisle's new
staff if he doesn't get a head coaching gig. New
York Daily News
out of the Knicks' contingent at the NBA's pre-draft camp here is
the club is pulling out of Charleston as their October training
camp site. The historic, quaint seaport town has been
their training-camp fort since Pat Riley arrived in 1991 and a favorite
of the media and players. They have trained there every year except
the 1998-99 lockout shortened season. The thinking, according to
sources, is the club wants a fresh start and outlook in all aspects.
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