So This is Christmas: NBA War is Over

So This is Christmas: NBA War is Over

I could only look at HoopsHype.com this morning with one squinted,
hesitant eye open, mere seconds after stirring from bed after
remembering that there was the slightest of chances that the greatest
pre-Christmas gift of ever could have been waiting for me on the
internet. My dad, forever the voice of reason on sports-related matters
(as in most other things), had cautioned me the night before that if
resolution was to be reached in this new round of last-ditch lockout
discussions, it probably wouldn't be until after the weekend, and he was
probably right—but still, before I went to sleep I had read some
anonymous source quoting some anonymous source saying that some other
anonymous source had said that both sides really wanted to get a deal
done tonight. Could it be?

And then as I opened my eyes this morning to confirm, there it was:
DONE DEAL. (This was similar but much more affirmative than last night's
extremely misleading headline, "DEAL DONE," as in, "Players and owners
would like to have a ______.") The settlement deal still needs official
approval from both sides (15 of 29 owners, 226 of 450 players), there
are still some minor issues that need resolving (drug testing, D-League
assignments) and some owners and players are still not feeling the deal,
but consensus opinion appears to be that the deal will pass, and that
basketball action should officially tip off on December 25th. ("There
will be a significant number of players who will not vote to approve
this deal, but there won't be a majority," tweets NBA scribe Adrian Wojnarowski. "The deal will pass.")

So
what does this mean for the Sixers? Well, with a shrinking salary cap, a
more punitive luxury tax, and a reduced mid-level exception, all of
which appear to be conditions of the new CBA agreement, the Sixers are
going to have even less elbow room for team re-building than the
salary-tapped Liberty Ballers did before. (No official word about
whether there will be an amnesty clause included in this agreement, but
if there is, the Sixers would get the advantage of possibly being able
to waive the remainder of Elton Brand (2 years / $35 million) or Andres
Nocioni (1 year / $6.5 million) from their books.)

Meanwhile, with free
agency projected to only be a week-long period this off-season, starting
in early December, and with a number of teams likely gun shy over
dealing in the new CBA, it seems less probable that restricted free
agents Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young will end up jumping ship, for
better or worse.

But only one thing really matters at this
point: There will (probably) be a Sixers season after all. We don't know
exactly where or when—the first game scheduled after Christmas would be
in Sacramento on the 26th, but in all likelihood they'll have some
earlier games squeezed in before that—but as long as 'Dre, Elton, The
Villain and the Damaja (not to mention Couch Dougie in his second year)
are involved, we'll certainly be watching.

It's the best
Thanksgiving/Christmas present we could have possibly asked for.

Howard Smith-US Presswire

NBA Notes: Chris Paul to undergo surgery for torn ligament in thumb

NBA Notes: Chris Paul to undergo surgery for torn ligament in thumb

LOS ANGELES -- Chris Paul will undergo surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

The Clippers said Tuesday that their All-Star guard will continue to undergo treatment and evaluation by the club's medical staff.

Paul was injured on a first-half play involving Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook in Monday night's victory over the Thunder. Paul didn't return in the second half.

The Clippers are 26-9 in 36 games with Paul in the lineup this season. He is averaging 17.5 points, 9.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds, and leads the NBA with 2.25 steals per game (see full story).

Knicks: Anthony tells Jackson he wants to stay in New York
NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony still believes the Knicks can win and still wants to be in New York when they do.

Another January collapse makes it easier to wonder if either will happen.

The Knicks have fallen off the playoff pace, again proving they can win headlines but not games. It seems like the same old story in New York, even though Anthony still thinks they can change the ending.

"Yeah, we will," he said. "I still believe."

He reiterated that Tuesday in a meeting with Phil Jackson, telling the Knicks president of basketball operations that he wanted to remain with the team, according to a person with knowledge of the discussion.

The question is how much Jackson still wants him.

A Fanragsports.com piece by Charley Rosen last week was heavily critical of Anthony, saying his legs are "going, going, almost gone" and that "the only sure thing is that Carmelo Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York."

Criticism of Anthony is nothing new, but this came from a longtime confidant and former assistant coach of Jackson, leading to speculation that those were the same thoughts as the Knicks executive (see full story).

Hornets: Clifford blames poor defense for Hornets' losing streak
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hornets coach Steve Clifford points to one factor when explaining his team's five-game losing streak -- a lack of defense.

Charlotte went 0-5 on its recent road trip, surrendering an uncharacteristic 109.6 points per game during that span. The Hornets return home Wednesday night to face the Portland Trail Blazers, part of a stretch of five-game home stand which Clifford hopes will help turn things around.

But Charlotte's fourth-year coach said nothing will get better until the Hornets start playing better man-to-man defense.

"It starts with our ability to guard our guy," Clifford said. "When you get blown by a lot on the perimeter where you are constantly in need of help, then you are going to give up 3s -- and that's what is happening."

The Hornets raced to a 14-9 start this season and were third-best in the league in points allowed through 23 games.

Since then, things have steadily fallen apart, culminating with Charlotte giving up at least 100 points in eight straight games. The Hornets have since dropped to 12th overall in points allowed (see full story).

Kings: F Omri Casspi out for up to 2 weeks with calf injury
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento Kings forward Omri Casspi will miss up to two weeks with an injured right calf.

The team said Tuesday that an MRI showed Casspi strained a tendon in his calf during practice on Monday.

Casspi is averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game this season.

Another injury, another opportunity as Sixers' PG merry-go-round continues

Another injury, another opportunity as Sixers' PG merry-go-round continues

CAMDEN, N.J. — The camouflaged tape wrapped around T.J. McConnell’s right wrist couldn’t disguise the latest hit to the Sixers’ backcourt. 

McConnell suffered a sprain on Saturday in a play against John Wall and was in a splint on Tuesday. He did not participate in practice and is listed as doubtful for Wednesday’s game against the Raptors (see story)

“[I’m] trying to keep it stable and not move it around a lot. I should be good to go very soon,” McConnell said. “I’m leaving [when I play] up to the medical staff. I’ll just tell them how I feel. It’s getting a lot better each day.”

Add McConnell to the list of point guards who have battled injuries this season. Let’s start at training camp: Jerryd Bayless suffered a left wrist ligament injury that ended up requiring season-ending surgery. His absence bumped Sergio Rodriguez into the starting lineup, until Rodriguez sprained his left ankle in late December and missed three games.

That left McConnell as the team’s only healthy true point guard at that point. McConnell played so well as a starter while Rodriguez was sidelined that he remained in the lineup when Rodriguez returned. 

“I obviously want to get back quick, but I know me and my teammates won’t lose that cohesion together,” McConnell said.  

This time around, the Sixers are better equipped to handle the injury of a point guard. They signed Chasson Randle from the Westchester Knicks (NBA Development League) to a 10-day contract on Jan. 10. The team liked Randle for his combo skills that would allow him to play shooting guard in practices and give Gerald Henderson an opportunity to rest. Turns out, they need him at the one spot the most. 

Randle played 16 minutes off the bench in Monday’s win over the Bucks. He scored 10 points (3 for 6 from the field, 2 for 4 from three, 2 for 2 from the line) with two rebounds, an assist and five fouls. Randle took his first shot just 23 seconds after checking in for Rodriguez and made his first NBA bucket, a three. 

“He did a great job,” Rodriguez said. “He stepped up in the game, he made some shots, he got the rhythm of the team going. For us, it’s amazing … he’s just here for a few days and he’s talented and he showed [Monday].”

Now Randle could be the latest point guard to maximize an opportunity created by injury. The Sixers have been impressed by what Stanford’s all-time leading scorer can do on both sides of the court. 

“When you start looking at what we have access to, the physical measurements, his wingspan is elite,” Brett Brown said. “You sit him in a stance and he spreads out, he uncoils. He really can cover some ground with his width, his length, albeit from a point guard position. Some of the deflections he got and defensive plays he made, I thought were outstanding.”