LeBron James NBA Playoffs 2011: Heat-Celtics Schedule, Lakers Updates and More
LeBron James will look to add to his legacy on Wednesday night vs. the Boston Celtics.
With the Miami Heat leading the highly anticipated series 3-1, the veteran-led Celtics find themselves with their backs against the wall and LeBron breathing down their necks.
Kevin Garnett knows it's going to be tough.
"When our back is against the wall, that’s when we show great resilience," Garnett said. "We’ll see what we’re made of."
The team better come out with a fire to their game and a passion for winning, because if they play with the same effort they showed in Game 4, it's going to be a long flight back to Logan International Airport.
And as for their arch rival Lakers...
After the team was swept in the second round at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, the Lakers conducted some of their exit interviews on Tuesday.
The majority of the players have endorsed Brian Shaw to be the next head coach, but according to Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, that's not the only thing being discussed.
"When it comes to hiring coaches, the Buss family seemingly strives to outsmart everyone, and it usually works, because that thin air has produced the likes of Pat Riley and Phil Jackson. But then, it's also rained Rudy Tomjanovich and Randy Pfund, so the process is weird, and you never really know."
It should be interesting to see who winds up leading the Lakers in 2011-12.
We'll run through updates on this and more, so make sure to stay tuned into the NBA channel on B/R.
Joakim Noah Gay Slur Video: Does He Deserve to Get Fined as Much as Kobe Bryant?
If you missed Game 3 of the highly anticipated series between the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls, Joakim Noah might want to trade places with you.
Noah, who posted an absolute dud in the box score with just a single point and five rebounds in 29 minutes of action, is making headlines for what he had to say to a Heat fan in the crowd during the contest.
The Chicago starting center was clearly caught on film calling the fan the exact same homophobic slur that Kobe Bryant said to an official earlier this season and was fined $100,000 for by Commissioner David Stern.
So will Noah receive the same fine that Bryant did? Although Joakim was quick to apologize after the game for his blatantly wrong actions, that doesn't lessen the offense a single bit. In fact, it might be even worse for Noah, because he did this after the highly publicized instance of Bryant's case.
It's really poor timing for both Noah and the Bulls, who could really do without the distraction that this will cause as they try to re-group after a Game 3 loss that now has them down two games to one in the series.
Noah might have said it to a fan (and not a referee), but if the NBA doesn't come down hard on him, the league is going to face some serious PR backlash over the ensuing days.
Lakers Trade Rumors: Which Lakers Won't Be Back Next Season?
After the Lakers loss in the second round, there will be changes to the roster before the next season begins.
Ron Artest seemed to fall out of favor as the season went on, backup point guard Steve Blake looks out of place on this team, Andrew Bynum thinks the group has trust issues and Luke Walton isn't happy about the playing time he received this season.
Oh, and did I mention Kobe Bryant's recent comments?
"It was a wasted year of my life."
Although Kobe's comments might be viewed as a little dramatic, in essence he's right. A failed run at the championship is a wasted year in the NBA for any team and every player that doesn't win it all.
In terms of next season, the Lakers are going to have to do something about their Swiss cheese defense at the point position. The veteran combination of Blake and Fisher was exposed from the first game throughout the duration of the year.
Additionally, the small forward spot will need to be addressed, and the bench will need a new look.
And if the Lakers are hoping to ever get anything from their draft picks, they really need to play the rookies.
L.A. Lakers Trade Rumors: Khloe and Lamar to Have a New Zip Code?
Although most of the trade speculation has been centered around Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the first few days of the Lakers' offseason, perhaps it is Lamar Odom who would be the most valuable trade chip of all.
A versatile point forward, Odom has one of the most unique set of skills in the NBA. He deserves to be in a starting five on a nightly basis based on his talent, but the composition of the Lakers roster makes it such that he's best in a sixth man role.
But he's a player that should be on the floor for at least 38 minutes per game, not the mere 32 that he averaged this season.
If the Lakers decide that L.O. must go, GM Mitch Kupchak is certain to seek a nice haul of talent in return. He could net a couple of nice pieces and maybe even a draft pick if a team values him as a premiere offensive option in the starting five.
According to the Lakers Blog in the L.A. Times, Kupchak knows that the team has to improve in certain areas.
"We may have to look to improve in certain areas, but once again that’s not something we sat down and discussed yet."
And if Lamar Odom's departure means an improved team, I don't think Mitch would be hesitant to pull the trigger.
Andrew Bynum vs. Dwight Howard: Which Center Will Be Better Moving Forward?
If Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum wind up being dealt for one another in an offseason trade, the two centers will always be compared against one another for the remainder of their careers.
Last season, Howard delivered MVP-worthy numbers despite Derrick Rose taking home the award. In 78 games, he averaged 22.9 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.
Conversely, Bynum played in just 54 games due to offseason knee surgery and averaged just 11.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2 blocks per contest. Granted that he was a lesser part of the offense than Howard, the numbers aren't comparable.
So why would Orlando ever consider a deal?
Howard can become a free agent in 2012, and despite the efforts to keep him on the Magic long-term, the big man has shown some implicit hesitance at signing on the dotted line.
But it hasn't always been that way. When he signed his original five-year, $85 extension back in 2007, Dwight sounded perfectly happy.
"Me and Mickey Mouse will be here forever. My goal is to win a championship and we just added a great piece to our team that is going to help us get to that level."
Now it sounds like he's more interested in Disneyland than Disneyworld.
Kobe Bryant: Bryant Proud of Andrew Bynum's Flagrant Foul
Andrew Bynum was suspended for five games without pay and fined $25,000 for his actions against Dallas guard J.J. Barea, but it's not the first time he's done something like this.
Earlier this season, Bynum was suspended for two games without pay for his flagrant foul on Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley.
The most interesting thing to come out of Bynum's first offense was Kobe Bryant's response. According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, the Black Mamba was proud to call him a teammate.
"I'm proud of him, he earned his stripes."
High praise from a high source, indeed. But the repetitive nature of Bynum's behavior is a bit concerning given the short span of time that it has occurred.
And if the flames on the Dwight Howard trade rumors continue to be flamed, you can bet that Bynum's name will come up in conversation even more.
And while Los Angeles' season may have ended on a sour note, perhaps this was exactly the type of rude awakening that an overly complacent team needed to play up to its potential.
Kobe Bryant isn't getting any younger, and the team needs to have a new franchise face prepared in the wings.
2011 NBA Playoffs: LeBron James vs. Derrick Rose, Who Will Represent East?
The Chicago Bulls lead the Atlanta Hawks three games to two in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, and with Game 6 scheduled for Thursday night, the Bulls have a chance to advance to the next round and take on the Miami Heat.
What an exciting time for the NBA. Derrick Rose going against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The NBA's MVP going against the league's super team.
David Stern couldn't have drawn it up any better, and with each increasing household that turns on the postseason, the owners have a weaker argument in the impending labor negotiations.
So if the two teams wind up going head to head for the chance to represent the conference in the NBA finals, which band of stars will shine brightest?
In a win-win situation, at least one superstar will most likely advance to the finals. Will Miami's Big Three show up when it matters most, or will Derrick Rose continue to carry the Bulls on his back and create a sandstorm on South Beach?
It wasn't long ago that Rose was recruiting James to play alongside in Chicago, according to ESPN Chicago. This is the text that Rose sent to LeBron during the offseason:
"I'm just hitting you up to kill all the rumors that I don't want to play with you. I'd like to play with you. I just want to win."
If LeBron James and his crew play in the next round in the same manner that they did against the Celtics, it won't matter how well Derrick Rose plays.
NBA Trade Rumors: L.A;. Lakers May Face Changes as Dwight Howard Rumors Loom
There's a reason that so many people are still shocked in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Lakers being swept out of the first round by the Dallas Mavericks.
Just look at the roster.
Easily the most talented team on paper prior to the season beginning, the Lakers never lived up to the expectations that so many set for them as they sought for another three-peat. And now that the team has gone home early, General Manager Mitch Kupchak will have plenty of time to think about the future.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Kupchak is very much aware that he has some very attractive chips at the bargaining table.
I think our players have pretty good value around this league, if we wanted to have a completely different look, I don't think that would be a problem. I don't know if we would win many games."
So while Kupchak acknowledges that anything is possible and that he can't predict the future, he recognizes that there are not a lot of trades that would make the Lakers better than they currently stand.
But if Dwight Howard becomes available?
That could certainly change things.
NBA Trade Rumors: Ricky Rubio to Join Minnesota Timberwolves?
Let's recap David Kahn's 2009 first-round draft strategy.
With four picks in the first round, the Timberwolves' fan base was excited at a chance to rejuvenate the franchise.
Round 1, Pick 5: Ricky Rubio, PG Spain
Round 1, Pick 6: Jonny Flynn, PG Syracuse
Round 1, Pick 18: Ty Lawson, PG North Carolina
Round 1, Pick 28: Wayne Ellington, SG North Carolina
That excitement evaporated faster than a drop of water on a hot sidewalk. Now in 2011, Lawson has looked like the best pick of the bunch and he never even played a game for the team. Kahn flipped him to Denver and chose to stick with Jonny Flynn.
Lawson has turned into the point guard of the future in Denver, while Flynn's NBA future is in flux and hasn't looked anything like the player he was at Syracuse.
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After two seasons of attempting to recruit Rubio to come play alongside franchise icon Kevin Love, the front office went back to Spain for a third effort, according to beat writer Jerry Zgoda from the StarTribune.
"That fact could complicate the timing of a completed deal because Rubio must exercise a $1 million-plus buyout with his Barcelona team and because Rubio and his family don't want it to appear as if he already has a foot out the door to the NBA before his team's season concludes."
And it seems that's just the tip of the iceberg. So although the Wolves will continue to pursue Rubio in a hope to lure him from his home court, perhaps a trade for a capable point guard would make the most sense for the time being.
But other than acquiring Michael Beasley for pennies on the dollar, David Kahn hasn't done much that has made any sense.
Dwight Howard Lakers: Would L.A. Lakers Be a Better Team with Howard or Bynum?
Remember the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors?
Andrew Bynum does. His name was brought up as a possible bargaining chip in a deal with the Denver Nuggets in a media-driven attempt to drive Carmelo to Los Angeles.
But it's not the first time he's experienced this in his young career. Back in 2010, several reports had him all but sent to Toronto in exchange for Chris Bosh, according to the Los Angeles Times. He's been positive when he's experienced the rumors, though.
"I love playing basketball. Whatever happens, happens."
This season, Bynum firmly established himself as a part of the Lakers' future plans. He undid all of his positive contributions in an embarrassing Game 4 loss to Dallas, and may have opened the door to his potential exit according to NESN.
"After Bynum's flying elbow, it's not all that crazy to start imagining scenarios in which Los Angeles trades their budding young center for superstar big man Dwight Howard. Both players have just one year left on their respective deals (Bynum has a team option for 2012-13), and many believe Howard is simply done with Orlando."
There have definitely been crazier things that have seen serious speculation in the league, and fans should expect the Howard to Los Angeles rumors to be incessant until he either signs an extension with the Magic or gets traded to a different team.
But frankly, Howard's L.A. arrival may be the one move that the Lakers must make in order to sustain their winning ways.
Dwight Howard Trade Rumors: Orlando Magic Center Could be Bound for L.A. Lakers
Dwight Howard could sign the extension in Orlando and quiet all of the speculation.
But there's a reason that he hasn't put his name on the dotted line yet. We just don't know what that reason truly is.
Much like Deron Williams, Howard has always emphasized that his primary goal is to win. But is that a realistic possibility with the Magic?
General Manager Otis Smith has done his best Danny Ferry impression, executing a flurry of trades in the hopes that one of them works and delivers a championship to Dwight and the Magic. He knows that is the only way to appease the big man.
One very real possibility has Howard joining the Lakers, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
"In regards to Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, Mike Greenberg said this, 'Dwight Howard, I will bet you anything you want that Dwight Howard is a Laker. Dwight Howard wants to be a movie star and you know what, he should be. Dwight Howard is a great looking guy with all the personality in the world, he’s funny, he’s fun, he’s got a great sense of humor, he’s got all the looks and charisma in the world.'"
His personality is perfect for Los Angeles.
But with all of the moving pieces, the team finds itself between a rock and a hard place. Will they continue to attempt to contend with the same core and pacify Howard, or will they blow it up and start from scratch?
If the Lakers and Magic decide to sit at the negotiating table together, the starting point will be Andrew Bynum. But what else will it cost?
The Magic aren't going to do a straight up swap of Bynum for Howard considering the history of knee injuries that the young center has already accrued, so what else could the team be interested in?
It should be interesting to see.
NBA Playoffs 2011: Kevin Durant, Not Russell Westbrook, Needs to Be No. 1 Option
Can someone please explain to me why Russell Westbrook is averaging more shot attempts per game in the postseason than scoring champion Kevin Durant?
According to Yahoo Sports, Westbrook is putting up 22.1 shot attempts per game, while Durant is receiving just 20.8 of his own. While it might not seem like that much of a differential, a closer look at the statistics indicate missed opportunities for the Thunder.
Westbrook is shooting a mere 40.2 percent from the floor, while Durant is better than six percentage points better at 46.5 percent. The point guard is also averaging an unsightly 4.6 turnovers per game, a number that needs to shrink very soon if the Thunder want to be playing for a title.
But perhaps I'm being too hard on Westbrook. According to Royce Young of CBS Sports, it might not be all his fault.
"But at any point did you really see a time where Durant was open and Westbrook truly looked him off? What I saw was Durant hovering around the 3-point line with his hand up, not moving. I mean with four on the shot clock, what do you want Westbrook to do? Kick it out there and let his buddy fire from 30 feet?"
So maybe it's time to stop playing the blame game. All of the pressure looks like it may be mounting on Westbrook's shoulders, but some of it may be unfair.
Regardless, he's going to have to come out with a big game tonight to silence his critics.
L.A. Lakers Trades: Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum Could be on Block
If the Lakers decide to change the core of their team this summer after a disappointing exit from the postseason, there's no doubt that both Gasol and Bynum will be the hottest topics discussed at the negotiating table.
Although Bynum has struggled with knee injuries, he has consistently demonstrated how effective he can be in a starting role when healthy. As for Gasol, he might be a little too soft for some people's liking, but I'm fairly certain that almost every team in the league would be interested in making an inquiry.
But what would either bring back in a potential deal?
Individually, Bynum is going to bring back more because he is cheaper than Gasol, according to this table from HoopsHype. He's also much younger, and still hasn't fully delivered on his sky-high potential.
Possible targets for the team may include the Philly's Andre Iguodala, Memphis' Rudy Gay and Orlando's Dwight Howard. But if they're going to make any sort of serious attempt to get younger with elite talent, they're going to have to give up something.
And it's going to have to be good.
Dwight Howard Trade Rumors: Is Dwight Howard Los Angeles bound?
After the Lakers were bounced from the 2011 NBA Playoffs via a four-game sweep courtesy of the Dallas Mavericks, everyone in the media began to speculate on the likelihood of Dwight possibly joining the Lakers.
Some Magic fans have already spearheaded the effort to keep Howard in town by launching StayDwight.com, a website dedicated to showing Dwight how beloved he is in Orlando.
But Superman might have already made his decision. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Howard had an ominous tweet about the media in Orlando.
"Y does it seem like the writers of Orlando sentinel are tryna push me out of Orlando with dumb articles. It’s annoying. Can I enjoy my summer and get ready for next season in Orlando. Pls. Same thing u guys did to Shaq. Smh"
So Lakers fans, I ask you:
Is Superman worth it?
Robert Tractor Traylor, LeBron James' Former Teammate, Found Dead Today
Report have surfaced that Robert "Tractor Traylor" was found dead today due to an apparent heart attack.
Traylor was 34 years old. He was currently playing with the Bayamon Cowboys of the BSN League in Puerto Rico.
The news was first broken on the team's Facebook page as a status update.
Traylor had undergone a previous surgery for his heart back in 2006, but it's unclear if this is related to the previous work he had done.
He was the sixth overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft and spent seven seasons in the league. He'll be most remembered for being traded on draft day for Dirk Nowitzki.
It's a sad ending for the former professional NBA baller, and it's not clear as to whether or not there was any foul play involved.
In 1995, he was named the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award winner, but unfortunately never quite lived up to the hype that surrounded him after coming to the league from college.
NBA Playoffs Schedule 2011: Thunder-Grizzlies Wednesday Game 5 Start, Tip Time
Will it be another triple-overtime thriller in OKC tonight?
After both teams decided to skip practice and give the players a rest on Tuesday, the two teams are set to go back into action on Wednesday evening at 9:30 EST.
The game probably won't tip closer until about 9:45 or so, because it is the second game of the TNT doubleheader scheduled.
So, who's going to come out on top in the pivotal Game 5 between the two young clubs?
There's no doubt that the crowd is going to play a major factor. The fans in Oklahoma City have proven to be among some of the most thunderous (pun intended) in the league, and their involvement will be better than any sixth man off of the bench tonight.
And according to The Sporting News, the Grizzlies are going to need more of a contribution from everyone tonight.
"Sam Young and Tony Allen are in the Grizzlies starting five, but not because of their offense. Still, in a triple-overtime game, Memphis needed something out of everyone. Young and Allen were practically nonexistent on the offensive end, though. The pair was a combined 3-for-14 from the field with just six points on the night."
At this stage of the game, it takes a total team effort.