NEW YORK — Given a 21-gun salute Friday at The Palace by the Mavericks, the franchise formerly known as the Pistons “is playing with no emotion,” a long-distance viewer observed.
Allen Iverson “has killed the team’s spirit with his style of play.”
Maybe the East squad can pawn off the undeserving Iverson on the West preceding next month’s All-Star Game in Phoenix.
Don’t be surprised if team president Joe Dumars trades A.I. before the Feb. 19 deadline, the same team executive e-mailed. “But only if he can get back a similar expiring contract.”
Like the Knicks and Nets, the Pistons are all about accumulating mega cap space for the two upcoming classes of free agents.
So hooked on economics is Dumars, an agent testifies, he was prepared to deal treasured Tayshaun Prince for Stephen Jackson (or maybe it was Ron Artest) whose contract was set to terminate after next season.
When the Warriors committed to Jackson on a three-year extension, Detroit’s purported proposal came off the table.
“That’s absolutely false! I’m not trading Prince, period,” Dumars fumed.
Here’s what is true about the 24-18 Pistons:
“We’re definitely going through a transition and change,” Dumars allowed. “We knew we had to eventually make some hard choices to be able move forward. We knew we would have some tough nights. But we like that we’re set up to be good going forward.”
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What I found stunning regarding Alonzo Mourning’s retirement news conference was that it went unsponsored. At the very least there should have been a cash bar so the poor guy could have glommed one last payday.
Chicago’s correspondents get the distinct feeling Vinny Del Negro may be the NBA’s eighth head coach to get vaporized. I’m hearing Bulls managing partner Jerry Reinsdorf may soon varnish GM John Paxson.
Toronto ended a seven-game slide Friday with a convincing, 20-point win at Chicago. Far be it from me to suggest the closing moments were uneventful, but Oprah took her second-half combo meal to go.
All is right with the world; Moped Monta Ellis has returned to the speedway with a montage of electrifying air raids. Due to a three-month injury absence, his measure of captivation had escaped me, I’m ashamed to admit.
Ellis notched 20 points on a team-high 19 shots, but the homesteading Warriors fell a point shy to the Cavaliers . . . something to do with a LeBron James’ first-ever buzzer-beater.
I understand Don Nelson’s rationale for fastening Ronny Turiaf to LeBron. But you would think the 208-cm shot blocker would have gotten into his man’s business when the game clock wound down to a precious couple clicks and pressured James into a dribble several meters from the basket.
Afterward, Ellis profusely apologized for his recklessness. From now on, he claims, “My sole mode of recreational transportation will be hydroplaning with US Airways.”
Long an advocate of Lionel Hollins being given a legit, absurdly overdue head coaching chance, I, nonetheless, can’t imagine what he can do differently to turn around the Grizzlies until a minimum of two established players are added to the wide assortment of capable youth.
Friday’s game between the Clippers and Thunder was a great preview of the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge All-Star Saturday in Phoenix; Kevin Durant (46 points), Jeff Green (14), Al Thornton (34), Eric Gordon (41, a franchise record for a yearling) and Russell Westbrook, whom Gordon held to 4-for-13 from the field.
Down three with the ball (6 seconds left), Mike Dunleavy, unlike so many other coaches in that situation, wisely called for the foul on the inbounds pass. The Thunder missed both free throws (last on purpose), but got the rebound.
Durant missed the three. Paper Clips hang on 107-104.
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Bucks broadcaster Eddie Doucette finds it strange there’s little mention of what an outstanding job Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has done schooling Andrew Bynum.
“Watch his footwork in the low post. . . . the shooting arm is getting a little higher on the hook attempts and he’s going to both sides with it,” detects the man who coined the term ‘sky hook.’
“Andrew is in more of an attack-the-rim mode . . . his improvement on defensive anticipation . . . his quiet on-court demeanor. Notice any similarities to the game’s all-time leading scorer, who could also defend?”
Dwight Howard became the first player to get three million All-Star votes, making him a starter for the East in the Feb. 15 game and the favorite, in the mind of column castigator Frank Drucker “to unseat Kirsten Gillibrand in 2010.”
In her first official act as senator, Gillibrand ordered Bill Clinton to stop hitting on her.
Peter Vecsey covers the NBAfor the New York Post.