The Indiana Pacers have the odds stacked against them facing the Miami Heat, but the team matches up well against Miami, and things could get very interesting if Lance Stephenson continues his impressive development as a player.
Adrian Wojnarowski has a nice profile of Stephenson, explaining how Larry Bird discovered him with a huge assist from another blast from the past, former Cleveland State coach and basketball guru Kevin Mackey.
Indian has size and they know how to play defense. But they’re young and their perimeter players are inconsistent. So they need several of these guys to step up against Miami, and Stephenson has the kind of talent that can thrive in these settings. But, he’s had to mature a lot these past three years, and now we’ll see if he’s ready for the big stage.
While some might call Stephenson a head case, you could say the same about Lebron James who has had some of the biggest post season meltdowns in NBA history. So let’s see if Stephenson can perform at a high level, and then let’s see how Lebron responds.
The issues chasing Ray Allen out of the Boston Celtics and into the arms of their most despised opponent stacked higher and higher, and suddenly everything crystallized in the hours basketball’s most persuasive recruiter, Pat Riley, captivated him. The emperor of the Miami Heat sold Allen on never hearing his name in trade talks and a run of championships awaiting him. After all these years, Allen needed to feel wanted again, needed the recruiting, and Riles had such a willing soul sitting with him in the breeze blowing over Biscayne Bay.
“He felt he was getting respect that he hadn’t gotten from [Celtics president] Danny [Ainge] and [coach] Doc [Rivers] anymore,” a source close to him said Friday night. “…The presentation was incredible.”
Respect comes in different ways, but make no mistake: The Celtics had offered two years and $12 million – respect for someone’s who’s 37 and coming off ankle surgery – and it didn’t matter to Allen. He hated the way Ainge dangled him in trade talks, hated that the Celtics told him he was on his way to Memphis in a deal at the March deadline only to have Rivers later tell him the trade was dead. Allen hated that Rivers didn’t give him his starting job back after he returned from a late-season ankle injury, and hated that it always felt like he was the Celtics star made to sacrifice above the rest.
Adrian Wojnarowski goes on to detail Allen difficult relationship with Rajon Rondo and how that must have contributed to this decision as well.
Boston fans will be livid, and it will be interesting to see how this drama affects Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Allen fits in well with what Miami is doing, assuming Lebron continues to play in the paint like he finally decided to do last season.
Meanwhile, I wonder whether Boston will miss him much. Allen could alter a game, but he did so much less frequently over the past couple of seasons. Jason Terry might be a better fit with this Boston team that may have improved considerably with the additions of Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo in the draft.
The executive director of the National Basketball Association players’ association, Billy Hunter. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS BASKETBALL)
Adrian Wojnarowski has the latest on the turmoil within the NBA players association, and the picture isn’t pretty.
After Billy Hunter made the grand stand of marching out of Friday’s bargaining session, refusing to negotiate below 52 percent of the NBA’s revenue split, a strong movement within the Players Association emerged that vowed the union will never let him act so unilaterally again.
From superstars to midlevel players to rookies, there’s an unmistakable push to complete the final elements of the system and take this labor deal to the union’s 400-plus membership. Beyond that, there’s an even larger movement to push Hunter, the Players Association’s executive director, out the door once these labor talks are done. All hell’s broken loose within the union, and no one is exactly sure how they’re going to get a deal to the finish line.
“Billy can’t just say it’s 52 or nothing, and walk out again,” one league source involved with the talks told Yahoo! Sports. “That will not happen again. It’s time that the players get to make a decision on this, and there won’t be another check lost before they do.”
Rest assured, there’s a vast gulf in the union, and it’s growing with the passing of every day. Players Association president Derek Fisher’s(notes) letter to the players convinced no one otherwise. NBA commissioner David Stern and the owners know it, and it’s part of the reason they won’t raise their offer of the BRI revenue split to 51 percent. There are system issues that need to be resolved for players, but this deal gets done at 50-50, and that’s been true for a long, long time.
In the end, there are two courses for the union: Take the deal largely on the table or blow this up, decertify and lose the season fighting the NBA in the federal courts.
Only, it’s too late to decertify. Everyone wanted to do it back in July when the lockout started, and Hunter refused. His decision had nothing to do with legal strategy, nothing to do with leverage or getting the best possible deal for the players. It had everything to do with what it always does with Hunter: self-preservation. He worried about losing power, losing his job, and he sold everyone on a toothless National Labor Relations Board claim that’s going nowhere.
Meticulous in his preparation, Spoelstra spoke with several past coaches, and league sources said a clear and unequivocal picture appeared on how to proceed: End the cycle of enabling with James and hold him accountable.
And surprise, surprise: LeBron James has responded with a test of his own organizational strength, pushing to see how far the Heat will bend to his will.
Even within a month of the season’s sideways 9-8 start, the NBA witnessed a predictable play out of the James-Maverick Carter playbook on Monday morning. They planted a story and exposed themselves again as jokers of the highest order. They care so little about anyone but themselves. Still, no one’s surprised that they’d stoop so low, so fast into this supposed historic 73-victory season and NBA Finals sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers. They want Spoelstra – and Pat Riley – to bend to them, to bow to the King the way everyone has before them.
You have to love Wojnarowski, who never seems to hide his disgust with LeBron and his camp. As you might imagine, he had a veritable field day after “The Decision.”
But here, he’s alleging that Carter is behind the Spoelstra panic story, but it doesn’t appear tha the accusation has any real basis. In his post, Dwyer just crossed out Carter’s name whenever referring to the source, because he obviously believes that Carter is Chris Broussard’s source. He doesn’t offer any proof, but just writes the piece with a “everybody knows who’s talking to Chris…” vibe.
This is fine for a sports blog because it’s funny and everyone knows it’s tongue-in-cheek, but Wojnarowski took it a step further by saying that LeBron’s camp planted the story as if it were established fact.
And it’s not. At least not yet. Broussard hasn’t revealed his source, and probably never will. The Yahoo writers are just making educated guesses.
It will be interesting to see what comes of this, if anything.