Basketball Wiretap

Dwight: Harden And I Aren't Super Close But We Talk

Mar 28, 2015 2:32 PM

Dwight Howard disputes comments from Kobe Bryant that he was uncomfortable with Bryant's "combative" approach during their one season together.

“It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable with who [Bryant] was as a player or a person, that was never the issue to me,” Howard said. “I think that kind of gets twisted because of how things ended up. Everybody on that team got injured. I think we had five games together before somebody was injured. …  I didn’t have an issue back then how Kobe was. Kobe wanted to win as badly as I did. Our personalities are different. I’m not a guy who is going to go off on my teammates. I tried that approach and for me it didn’t work. For Kobe, it works. He’s won a couple championships. He’s also played with some great talent. For the most part, it just wasn’t the time for us to win.”


Howard was asked if his relationship with Bryant has informed how he and James Harden get along.

“We’re not super close but we do talk, we sit down, we have conversations,” Howard said of Harden. “I’ve never had any issue with James. The biggest reason for me to come to Houston was to play alongside James. I knew I made [the right decision] when I first made it, watching him play and now how he’s grown as a player and a person. It’s great to watch. I came to win. There’s no ego with me, it’s not about me. It’s about us, what we can do together. I’ve won all the individual awards, besides the MVP, and at this point all that stuff is irrelevant. What’s more important is us coming together to win a championship."

Ben Golliver/Sports Illustrated

Tags: Dwight Howard, James Harden, Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Shaq Wishes He Had More Patience Instead Of Leaving Magic In 1996

Mar 27, 2015 8:17 PM

Shaquille O'Neal returned to the Orlando Magic on Friday to be inducted into the franchise's Hall of Fame.

O'Neal was drafted by the Magic in 1992 and helped lead the team to the 1995 NBA Finals. O'Neal left the Magic in 1996 to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.

"It's unexpected because I came here to win. We won games, and then I made a business decision," said O'Neal, who becomes the third member of the Magic's hall, joining co-founder Pat Williams and first-ever draft pick Nick Anderson. "It's never personal. The [team owner Rich] DeVos family knows that. And I accomplished [a championship] somewhere else. It's not like I didn't think they weren't going to be upset or anything. But it's business. It was all business.

"Do I regret it? I never fully answer it. I regret it sometimes. Is this where I started and should have stayed? I actually wish they made it a law that whoever drafts you, you gotta stay there your whole career."

O'Neal said the DeVos family deserves "a couple" of championships and that the Magic's 1995 Finals team, which also featured a core of Penny Hardaway and Anderson, had a chance to get back.

"That's why I kind of regret it, because we had a young, fabulous team," O'Neal said. "We really did. And it's a shame that we got torn apart. But I think about that all the time. I try not to live my life now on 'ifs' or 'would've, should've,' but do I regret leaving here in '96, yes I do."

The NBA changed their rules concerning players coming off a rookie contract after O'Neal left the Magic.

"I wish I would have had more patience," he said. "I wanted to be protected from the bashing. What I mean by that is I wanted to win then. Even when I got [to Los Angeles], I still got bashed. It took four years to win. But I was very impatient. I was very young, and I thought that if I go there, with those guys out there, I could win right away and that wasn't the case.

"Now that I'm older now, I wish as a youngster I would have had more patience."


Tags: Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Dan Gilbert One Step Below Cuban In Terms Of Involvement

Mar 27, 2015 1:24 PM

Dan Gilbert purchased the Cleveland Cavaliers for $375 million ten years ago this month.

Gilbert's net worth at the time was estimated to be worth $800 million and is now north of $4.7 billion. Gilbert's holdings has expanded from mortgages and venture capital to casinos, real estate, consumer products, tech, minor league sports franchises and a Cavaliers' team worth more than $900 million.

Gilbert has withdraw publicly, but sources inside and outside of the organization say his involvement in the Cavaliers' day-to-day operations has increased.

"If you had a 1-to-10 scale of an owner's involvement Mark Cuban would be a 10," said one prominent league agent. "Dan would be a 9."

Gilbert continues to live in suburban Detroit, but regularly flies to Cleveland to attend home games. Gilbert is known to monitor the design of the Cavaliers' jerseys, what's on the scoreboard during timeouts and many other details of the franchise.

Gilbert has become more active in Cavaliers' trade talks, contract negotiations and the draft process.

It is not unusual for Gilbert to speak directly to an agent or to up the ante in trade talks by calling an opposing owner, sources said.


Gilbert disagrees with the idea that he's heavily involved in basketball decisions.

"I don't think that's accurate," Gilbert said. "The way I look at it is it's the owner's job to say yes before you say no. I believe an owner is there to set the philosophy and to establish the culture but you let your guy pull the triggers."

The Cavs went from $23 million under the salary cap in July to $18 million over the cap and into the luxury tax in the same season, which is unprecedented in NBA history.

"Every owner is more involved than they show publicly," said one league official who knows Gilbert well. "But Dan has worked hard to get the organization to where he wants it."

Brian Windhorst/ESPN

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Heat, Hornets, Cavs Lead In 14-15 Trade Score; Bucks, Mavs Rank Last

Mar 26, 2015 1:28 PM

J.R. Smith has had the biggest Box Plus-Minus improvement of all the players traded this season as he's become a critical part of the Cleveland Cavaliers success following his arrival from the New York Knicks. 

Smith had a -4.3 BPM with the Knicks and +3.4 with the Cavaliers for a difference of +7.7.

Enes Kanter ranks second with a +5.9 difference since arriving to the Oklahoma City Thunder from the Utah Jazz. The Jazz have also benefitted from his absence as it has given more minutes to Rudy Gobert.

Will Barton, Mo Williams, Anthony Tolliver, Ramon Sessions, Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert, Tarik Black and Goran Dragic round out the top-10.

Overall, the Heat have the best Trade Score at 6.10, ahead of the Charlotte Hornets at 5.90 and Cavaliers at 5.10. The

Brandon Knight has had the biggest drop since being traded, going from +2.3 with the Milwaukee Bucks to -4.0 with the Phoenix Suns. The Bucks replaced Knight's +2.3 with a -2.0 from Michael Carter-Williams and they have struggled since the trade.

The Dallas Mavericks are also one of the losers of in-season trades as Rajon Rondo has struggled and they also lost the production of Brandan Wright.

The Bucks have the worst Trade Score at -4.30 with the Mavericks ranking next to last at -3.70.

Nathan Walker/Nylon Calculus

Tags: Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Westbrook Confused Why Media Asking About Defense After Giving Up 1.369 PPP

Mar 26, 2015 12:44 PM

The Oklahoma City Thunder were blown out on Wednesday by the San Antonio Spurs, losing 130-91.

Russell Westbrook didn't understand why the media asked him about their defense following the game.

"Uh, defensive issues carrying over. I'm confused," said Westbrook. "You didn't say that when we won four games in a row. I'm just a little confused."

The Thunder had won four straight games before Wednesday, but they also were struggling on defense.

"You can play bad defense [and win], but you don't mention it when we win," Westbrook said. "But when we lose you want to mention it. I'm just a little confused."

Points Per 100 Possessions Allowed over past five games
Mar. 18: 116.0
Mar. 20: 121.0
Mar. 22: 84.1
Mar. 24: 121.2
Mar. 25: 136.9

Royce Young/ESPN

Tags: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Report: LeBron 'Frustrated' By Kevin Love Not 'Getting With The Program'

Mar 25, 2015 7:43 PM

LeBron James has tried to make the situation with Kevin Love work, but he's grown frustrated by it, according to sources close to the situation. James reportedly is "frustrated by Love's inability and in some ways unwillingness to get with the program."

James pushed for the Cleveland Cavaliers to trade for Love last offseason.

Love can become a free agent this offseason or in 2016 when the cap rises.

The Cavaliers traded away Andrew Wiggins as part of the package for Love.

Frank Isola/New York Daily News

Tags: Kevin Love, LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA, NBA Signing Rumor, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA B-Ball IQ

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LeBron: I Admire How Calipari Takes High Egos, Turns Them Into Team

Mar 25, 2015 1:35 PM

LeBron James and John Calipari have grown increasingly close over the years after they were introduced by a "family friend" believed to be William Wesley.

James said his close friend and former St. Vincent-St. Mary teammate Brandon Weems was on Calipari's coaching staff at Kentucky for two years, and "I gained even more of a relationship" with Calipari.

"What I admire is how he's able to take, year after year, these high egos coming out of high school and turn it into a team," James said of Calipari. "He makes them believe, not even believe, it's what it should be, that the team is more important than the individual. No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, in order for the team to have success everyone has to buy in.

"I love that about him, he doesn't cap, he doesn't put a cap on his talent, on those guys," James continued. "He gives them the reins if they play the right way, and he wants them to succeed at the highest level. So, you can respect that."

Joe Vardon/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Tags: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, Kentucky Wildcats, NCAA, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Warriors Rank 4th All-Time In Point Differential During Three-Point Era

Mar 23, 2015 2:26 PM

The Golden State Warriors currently have the fourth point differential since the NBA introduced the three-point line.

The top-6 teams in point differential before the current season have all gone on to win the NBA championship.

The 12-13 Oklahoma City Thunder rank eighth in point differential and made the Western Conference Semifinals despite losing Russell Westbrook in the first round. 

Ben Golliver/Sports Illustrated

Tags: Golden State Warriors, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Mavs Concerned By Monta Ellis' On-Court Slump, Moodiness

Mar 23, 2015 2:01 PM

The Dallas Mavericks have been concerned for weeks about "the impact of (Monta) Ellis' moodiness has on the team's soul," according to reporting from Tim MacMahon.

Ellis has struggled on the court as well of late and has shot just 38.9 percent from the floor since the All-Star break.

Ellis has often avoided addressing the media, particularly after poor performances.

The Mavs continue to express confidence in Ellis as their closer despite the slump.

“This is not a Monta Ellis shooting problem,” Rick Carlisle said. “This is a Dallas Mavericks hard-play problem, all right? We don’t play hard all the time. And that’s a problem.

“It’s pretty clear that’s where our inconsistency is and we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to be a more together team. I believe that we can do it. We did it in the second half, but it’s work. It takes effort. It takes effort in the locker room, it takes sacrifice and we’ve got to be willing to do those things.”

Ellis can opt out of the final year of his three-year, $25 million deal.

Tim MacMahon/ESPN

Tags: Monta Ellis, Dallas Mavericks, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Carlisle: It Takes Group Effort To Stop Westbrook, Paul

Mar 17, 2015 4:09 PM

Rick Carlisle believes it takes a group effort to slow down point guards like Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul.

“In the West, guys like Paul and Westbrook, you’ve got to have a lot of numbers of guys to throw at them,” Carlisle said. “One guy isn’t going to stop them.”

The Mavs held Paul to 11 points during their win on Friday and Westbrook had 24 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds on Monday, which Dallas also won.

Dwain Price/Star Telegram

Tags: Dallas Mavericks, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Wade Thinks Goran Dragic Fits Heat Long-Term
The Heat project to have a starting five of Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside next season assuming Dragic re-signs.

Jason Lieser/Palm Beach Post

Davis Joins Admiral In Recording 30 Points, 10 Rebounds, Eight Blocks, Seven Assists
Anthony Davis became the first player to record at least 36 points, 14 rebounds, nine blocks and seven assists in an NBA game.


Warriors Rest Curry, Thompson, Bogut, Iguodala Against Nuggets
Steve Kerr will start Shaun Livingston, Justin Holiday, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and David Lee.

Rusty Simmons/San Francisco Chronicle

LeBron On Kyrie: The Kid Is Special
Kyrie Irving scored a career high 57 points in the Cavaliers' 128-125 overtime win over the Spurs.

Jason Lloyd/Akron Beacon Journal

Pat Riley Calls Building Through Lottery 'Life Of MIsery'
Pat Riley has managed to work with some of the best players of their generations during his stops with the Lakers, Knicks and Heat.

Ethan Skolnick/Bleacher Report

Riley: LeBron Could Have Had Something Historic Over Next 5-6 Years With Heat
Pat Riley felt that the Heat were in the position he wanted them to be in despite losing in the 2014 Finals to the Spurs, but LeBron James decided to return to the Cavaliers.

Ethan Skolnick/Bleacher Report

Amar'e: I Came To Mavericks To Win, This Is Unacceptable
The Mavs are 5-6 since the post-All-Star break arrival of Amar'e Stoudemire.

Tim MacMahon/ESPN

David Lee: I Couldn't Take Reduced Role If We Weren't Winning
David Lee is the highest paid player on the Warriors and is signed through the 15-16 season, but he's become an auxiliary option this season.

Monte Poole/Comcast

76ers Plan On Using Noel At PF On Defense, Embiid At PF On Offense
The 76ers will need to figure out the roles of Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel when they play together to maximize their skill-sets.

Tom Moore/Calkins Media

Kevin Love Doesn't See Himself As Stretch-Four
Kevin Love does not believe he is a stretch-four even as he attempts 8.1 three-pointers per game over his past seven.

Chris Haynes/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Thomas Robinson: I'm Tired Of Getting Treated Like A Rag Doll In NBA
Thomas Robinson has averaged 9.5 points and 7.3 rebounds in 16.4 minutes (19.0 PER) of play off the bench in four games with the 76ers.

Marcus Hayes/Philadelphia Daily News

Kidd: Khris Middleton Has Accepted Challenge To Get Better
The Bucks would like to re-sign Khris Middleton this summer in restricted free agency.

Charles F. Gardner/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Warriors, Clippers, Hawks Lead In Efficiency Differential
All 30 NBA teams are ranked based on efficiency differential, points scored per 100 possessions and points allowed through March 1.

RealGM Staff Report

LeBron James Has 42.9 Usage Rate Without Irving
LeBron James has a 33.1 usage rate overall.

Joe Kaiser/ESPN

Oliver: Eyes Better Than Numbers But Numbers See All The Games
Dean Oliver currently works for Vivek Ranadive and the Sacramento Kings.

Howard Beck/Bleacher Report

Daryl Morey: Even We Had Doubts About James Harden Trade
Some believed James Harden would not be able to extend his production to superstar minutes when he was 6th Man of the Year with the Thunder.

Howard Beck/Bleacher Report

Cavs, Warriors Feature Best Two Five-Man Units In NBA
The Cavaliers' five-man unit of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov and J.R. Smith has been the best in the NBA in terms of net rating at +25.9.

John Schuhmann/

Tony Parker Shoulders Blame For Spurs' Recent Struggles
Tony Parker believes finding his midrange jumper again is at the core of his offensive struggles.

Jeff McDonald/San Antonio Express-News