INSIDE THE NBA
Curry no cinch to stay on Knicks
Insiders say ex-Bull not a good fit for N.Y. coach Brown
On Pro Basketball
April 17, 2006
Could Eddy Curry be on the move again?
Clearly, big changes figure to be coming in New York after this miserable season and it's hard to believe the Knicks wouldn't give coach Larry Brown one more chance with a different roster. Changing that overpaid, underachieving roster won't be easy. But you figure general manager Isiah Thomas has his eyes on one big name who is likely to be involved in trade talks this summer, Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal.
That would be Thomas' type of move. It was O'Neal who was most upset when Thomas was fired as Pacers coach and threatened to force his way out. Feelings were soothed, but O'Neal has kept up a personal relationship with Thomas. And last week Pacers general manager Larry Bird, in saying coach Rick Carlisle wasn't going anywhere, challenged the players and hinted at a major shakeup of the disappointing Pacers. Could they be trading partners?
Believe it or not, Thomas has a plan. It's to accumulate assets and combine them in deals for players he wants. He got Steve Francis from Orlando for Trevor Ariza. How bad can that be as long as finances don't matter? Which they don't in New York.
Figure the Pacers, like everyone else, to make a run at Kevin Garnett. And with Garnett sitting out the rest of the season, it does make you wonder if the Timberwolves are taking a look at what their team would be without Garnett. But they continue to insist they'll add a player to complement Garnett, and many believe it could be former teammate Stephon Marbury. No one is untouchable in New York, nor should be.
It seems clear that O'Neal has had his run in Indiana. You know Thomas would love to have him back, and O'Neal would lend some credibility as a rough post player, more to the liking of Brown. Who knows whether the Pacers would be interested in Curry, but Carlisle does run a slower, post-up offense that would seem to suit Curry better.
Curry will never fit with Brown, say coaches who know both. Brown is known for his intense dislike for offensive players and has had some of his most celebrated differences with David Robinson, Danny Manning and Reggie Miller. It's why Chauncey Billups could not break out until Brown left. So it was no surprise to many that, before Brown left ill last week, Curry was regularly being benched for Jackie Butler, whoever that is.
"I'll be ready for whatever, if he goes in a different direction or not," Curry said. "It's pointless to ask me what the reason is [for the benchings]. He'll give you a better answer. It's hard for me to [know] when he's going to put me out there or not."
Curry has played fewer than 30 minutes in seven of the last eight games and is averaging 9.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in that span.
"I'm not down on Eddy Curry," Brown insisted last week. "I think Eddy Curry is a key to our team. . . . [But] I've been telling Isiah from Day One, having a point guard and having a center who rebounds and defends are the two critical areas for any team."
Those who saw Curry on the Bulls for four years know he'll never be that player.
Certainly, the Knicks aren't going to interest the Pacers with Curry alone. But if they offered Channing Frye and a first-rounder, perhaps they could get O'Neal and Brooklyn-born point guard Jamaal Tinsley, whom the Pacers would love to get rid of. It's hard to say what might work, if anything, but figure the Knicks to make some calls and that Curry's future in New York is hardly guaranteed.
Back to Bulls' issues
Because Mondays are "What if" days in the NBA--for me, anyway--and this is a job someone has to do, I'm often asked what is the most realistic deal for the Bulls. All of them, I explain.
But it seems more likely that Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Garnett will remain with their teams, but this is the NBA, so you never say never.
Instead, if you are looking for one big-time player who could be most available, it may be Seattle's high-scoring, 6-foot-10-inch Rashard Lewis, who has had uneasy times with his team and supposedly will opt out of his contract next summer. The Sonics say they want to keep him, though they're also working on retaining Chris Wilcox and just last week NBA Commissioner David Stern indicated a possible move or sale of the financially unstable team.
Lewis told Seattle reporters last week he wasn't sure the Sonics could afford him. Added Ray Allen: "We've been the leaders of this team ever since I got here, but maybe he wants to do something else with rest of his career."
Some believe a deal would make sense for Seattle, which blames many of its problems this season on contract uncertainty with players. "We had guys this year (Vladimir Radmanovic, Reggie Evans and Ronald Murray) who didn't know whether they were going to be here, and that affected not only them, but everybody else too," Lewis said.
Lewis is primarily a small forward, the Bulls' most solid position with Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni. But there's no reason Deng couldn't develop into a shooting guard and give the Bulls a big perimeter lineup. Would the Sonics be interested in Tyson Chandler and the Bulls' two No. 1 picks with Seattle giving the Bulls back their lottery pick, which should be in the middle range?
Then the Bulls could go out in free agency for a defensive center like Joel Przybilla or Nazr Mohammed, both of whom are said to be interested in Chicago. The Bulls still would have a lottery pick while the Sonics get two and Chandler. It might make sense for them to deal a player they may not be able to re-sign and thus could be a distraction next season.
How appropriate would this be: LeBron James plays the Bulls in his first playoff on his way to being the next Michael Jordan?
It was against the Cavs in 1989 that Jordan made that big game-winning shot that moved him among the elite players with playoff success. James now needs that. It was always the Bulls spoiling the Cavs' seasons. Could it happen again? It will if the Bulls can jump to the fifth seed, behind the fourth-seeded Cavs.
The NBA already seems to be looking for Cleveland in the second round, which likely would mean a matchup with the Pistons. NBA Vice President Stu Jackson last week admitted the NBA is watching the behavior of the teams after several incidents this season in which Rasheed Wallace and Zydrunas Ilgauskas clashed. Last week Anderson Varejao took a cheap shot at Wallace, clearly retaliation for Wallace's takedowns of Ilgauskas in a February game.
An underlying issue is the attitude within the Cleveland team. There were whispers of teammates not standing up for Ilgauskas, who went after Wallace on his own the next time the teams played, which in a scheduling quirk was the next day. And this time it was another international player, Varejao, who stepped up.
Little was made of Ben Wallace's refusing to enter a game earlier this month because Wallace is no Darius Miles. But it did raise a quiet concern around the Pistons. One of Larry Brown's strengths was rewarding his hard-working players and giving Wallace more touches on offense and plays than he has ever had. Flip Saunders is more of a traditional NBA coach who likes to ride a hot hand or go with his established scorers. That has been at the core of Wallace's frustrations this season.
"That championship year we had, everybody played," Wallace said. "It wasn't trying to win with one or two guys. We used everybody that we had, including our bench. That's the only way you can win in this league."
The Warriors' Jason Richardson has confirmed that it hurts to dunk. Said Richardson: "When you dunk it hard and come down screaming, `Ahhhhh,' everybody gets into it. But you're really screaming, `Ahhhhh, my arm!'" George Gervin used to say he developed his finger roll because he hurt his hand so often dunking. . . . One of the NBA's good guys, the Kings' Shareef Abdur-Rahim, should get to the playoffs for the first time after 743 games and counting. He is the all-time active leader and second all-time to Tom Van Arsdale, who played 929 games without going to the playoffs. . . . The Bulls see Orlando on Monday. Dwight Howard, making a run to become the youngest rebounding champion, had 26 rebounds Saturday against the 76ers. If he averages 20 in the last two games, he'll pass the idle Garnett. Howard's 26 was a league season high.
Ron Artest doesn't always make sense, but he knows the game. And when he shut down Carmelo Anthony on Saturday in an easy Kings win, he clearly identified why the Nuggets' top player isn't yet a true NBA star and why Denver is a likely first-round casualty.
Said Artest, who held Anthony to 15 points: "I wish I had a chance to work with him. Hopefully, one day I can be a coach and coach a guy like Carmelo. He's got to move a little more, pass to his teammates a little more, do more without the ball. If you're not scoring, do something else. I would tell him that, but I don't want to give him too many of my tips. He got frustrated a couple of times when he got passed up, but that happens sometimes. You just keep playing."