Tag Archives: Sam Cassell

Amar’e Stoudemire fuels feud with Bucks coach Skiles

Today at the Knicks afternoon shootaround in Cleveland, Amar’e Stoudemire took aim at Bucks coach Scott Skiles when asked about his 15th technical foul of the season, which Stoudemire received Wednesday in the final minute of the Bucks-Knicks game.

Stoudemire was tee’d up when he tossed his goggles after being whistled for his sixth foul.

“Scott Skiles probably doing what he does best: being out of control and having them make the call,” Stoudemire said.  — NY Post Knicks blog.

Asked if he ever played for Skiles, Stoudemire said, “No, I’m glad I didn’t.”

They just missed each other in Phoenix, where Skiles was coach until midseason 2002, just months before the Suns drafted Amar’e.  Given the defensive demands of playing for Skiles, Stoudemire, indeed, would have hated it.

Earlier this season after a blowout loss to the Bucks, Stoudemire questioned whether Skiles told the Bucks to retaliate against him for that little shove in Andrew Bogut’s back last March, which instigated AB’s season-ending fall and arm injury.

He actually accused Skiles of instructing the Bucks to “play physical” against him. Really.

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Just George being George

Denver coach George Karl lit into Carmelo Anthony after the Nuggets game last night against the Celtics.  I guess George didn’t like the fact that Carmelo’s not such a dedicated defensive player.

Ball Don’t Lie blog.

Seems like old times for George, though he’s certainly mellowed with age.

After the Bucks traded Ray Allen (err, after the Bucks traded Ray Allen, finished the season out with Gary Payton and let George go), George expounded to the press on Ray’s “disrespect” for the game of basketball.

“Oh, that’s just George being George,” explained Sam “I Am” Cassell at the time.

“WHEN THE GRASS IS CUT THE SNAKES WILL SHOW,” tweeted Carmelo.

The Big Dog, George, a case of the flu and a 3-9 Bucks start

Michael Redd made a rare appearance in Milwaukee last week, serving pre-Thanksgiving meals at the House of Peace on 17th and Walnut.  Redd said the House of Peace charity was kind of tradition handed down to him by Ray Allen, which — though it’s great that Redd continues on with the charity — isn’t exactly true.

His comments did bring back a memory of another Bucks team that went into a season with high expectations and started badly — worse even than this season’s frustrating 5-9 start.  Let’s turn back the clock to November 2000 and the annual House of Peace meal.  This, of course, is a true story.

The House of Peace giving was something a lot of players on the Bucks did, and usually coach George Karl was doing the passing as far as who was going to go with him to serve Thanksgiving meals from year to year.  In Redd’s rookie year (2000, when he was a practice player) Big Dog and Karl served dinners at the House of Peace.  Dog and George came back from the event with a nasty flu bug that infected half the team and dogged the Bucks to a 3-9 start.

Big Dog was so sick he missed a game. Karl, who was just as sick, did not.  George stewed on it for a couple of days, and when Dog and Sam and Jason Caffey were dragging it a little bit during a road travel transfer (they were probably stoned), Karl blew up.   Big Dog, still sick as a dog (but probably stoned) snapped back, starting a bunch of rumors that the Dog and George had stopped talking to one another.  Dog and Sam were punished by having to start a game on the bench.  This was also around the time that Ray and Big Dog were stripped of their co-captaincy and the “C” was sewn onto Ervin Johnson’s jersey.

It was at that point that the 3-9 “Big Three” Bucks returned to Milwaukee for a few games and Big Dog went on a rebounding and scoring tear that ignited the rest of the team — those who could be ignited — some (like Ray, who never took criticism from George Karl very well) were still woozy with the flu (Dog and George, who had it first, got well first).  But by December everybody was healthy, Ray’s head was clear and his shot was falling at devastating regularity and the Bucks finished the season out 49-21.  The rest is crooked refereeing history.

George has always taken credit for managing the 2000-01 team in such a way, just the right way, that made the magic possible.  Karl deserves the credit.  But in looking back at how the season started, and how and when it turned around, I can’t help but wonder close the Bucks were to imploding, and how easily Karl might have missed the connection, that magical NBA championship-worthy thing the Bucks had going in 2001.

What if … Karl that November had served House of Peace dinners with a player NOT named Glenn Robinson?

Clippers tonight: Bogut vs. the Kamanizer

The Bucks are in Los Angeles tonight to play the tanking Clippers (25-43), the first of a three game road trip that will then take them to Sacramento and Denver, their final road game of the season against a Western Conference opponent. Those are the facts as I know them. Now it’s time for the fun. 

A Clippers game is one of those rare opportunities to explore NBA weirdness. You never know who’s on the Clippers roster, and just when you think you do, half the roster arrives at the gym in crutches to ask for a trade. I couldn’t tell you right now how they’re playing, who sits and who starts, whether MU gunner Steve Novak is still raining three’s on the opposition or whether or not the Bucks ought to be concerned about this game. I have a Chris Kaman photo. The rest is guesswork.

I heard somewhere that the Clippers fired coach Mike Dunleavy, Big Dog’s first coach with the Bucks. I’ve always liked Dunleavy, who, when he was an assistant for Del Harris, suited up and played when the roster got thin. And he had a sense of humor. He was GM and coach during those win-starved “development” years, and brought Alton Lister back in 1994 because he thought it would make the fans happy to see “The Big Project” again. He was right. Dunleavy in 1995 brought Terry Cummings back for a spin, too, and that was cool, despite the 57 losses.

I also heard somewhere that Marcus Camby is now a Trailblazer, and that Portland thinks maybe they can make a title run this year. Camby’s still a dedicated defender and rebounder but Camby is a guarantee that the Blazers will not win a title. Ask Patrick Ewing. The upshot is that there is somebody named Outlaw on the Clippers roster now, but I don’t think it’s Bo Outlaw from those post-Shaq Orlando Magic teams.  Former Buck Steve Blake may be a Clipper, too, but whether or not Jamal Magliore was part of the deal I can’t be sure.

Chris Kaman is still a Clipper and by now he should have some sort of nickname. He’s been there since 2003. He’s also a guy I’ve never liked as an NBA center. In fact, I refused to list him on the inaugural Bob Boozer Jinx center rankings on grounds that I could not make a “Top Ten NBA Centers” list with Kaman on it. He’s lumbering, he’s awkward, he’s ridiculous looking, he misses more bunnies than a big man has a right to. I hold him responsible for my man Sam “I Am” Cassell‘s failure to lead the Clippers past the Suns in the 2006 playoffs.

There were times during his career that Andrew Bogut on a bad day  reminded me a little of Kaman, but I didn’t blame Bogut. I blamed Chris Kaman.

Kaman used to have the worst hair in the NBA (and that’s saying something) — but at least he had the guts to play with the game with a few strands of flyaway hair, and that was something to be said for Kaman. Now that he’s cut his hair, I can’t think of anything good to say about Chris Kaman.

Except that he’s averaging 18.8 ppg and 9.1 boards on a bad team, all the while refusing to jump. He’s as big as Bogut and a lot wider but Kaman and Bogut haven’t gone head-to-head since Feb. 11, 2008, in Milwaukee. That didn’t go well for the Bucks or AB. While Kaman only had 7 pts, he grabbed 15 boards and bodied Bogut into a 4-16 shooting night. Bogues was good on the glass with 12 but Al Thornton killed Yi and Charlie V for 25 pts. (Check that — no, it really does say that Bogut got 16 shots two years ago). 

It was the night Michael Redd decided he was going to finally make coach Larry Krystkowiak happy by sharing the ball, and he did, refusing to shoot in the first half. Redd racked up a career high 11 assists and Mo was all too happy to take the shots (he was 12-20 from the floor). The Bucks appeared to be outplaying them all night, but … somehow we managed to lose to a 16-32 Clippers team at the BC. It did make for a weird-looking boxscore … those were the days.

And Chris Kaman still had his hair.

Playoff Props – What’s up Doc?

Glenn "Doc" RiversAfter another surpisingly out-of-synch playoff performance on the road by the Boston Celtics, Celtics coach Doc Rivers finds his team in a difficult situation with its starting point guard, 21-year-old Rajon Rondo. Rondo finished with zero assists in Game 3 against the Cavaliers on Sunday and was thoroughly outplayed by the Cavs' Delonte West.

Rondo's not ready to help the Celtics win it all; that was all too clear Saturday night. On Doc's bench is the answer: the clown prince of NBA guards, Sam "I Am" Cassell, offensive genius. Yet Rivers has been slow to pull Rondo when things are going badly.

At one point in the 3rd Quarter of Saturday night's game, the ABC cameras found West on defense, playing one of the saggiest one-man zones I've seen in the NBA. He wasn't even guarding Rondo, clogging the paint instead to make life difficult for KG and Paul Pierce. As the minutes passed, the Celtics struggled to cut the lead to 15, then watched it fall back to 20. No team in the NBA would dare to not guard Sam Cassell. Yet Sam sat. Rivers finally went to Cassell at the start of the fourth quarter and the Celtics pulled to within 12, but could get no closer.

With Rondo in the game, Paul Pierce fought for shots and Ray Allen scarcely shot at all, turning playmaker when he did get the ball. Unselfish play by Ray, but that's what Rondo should have been doing, instead of driving the ball at Big Ben Wallace, Z-Ilgauskus and Lebron James. Is Rivers worried about deflating Rondo's confidence in the playoffs? Or is it a team chemistry thing because Sam is the new guy? Whatever the case, Rivers has been far too much of a players' coach where Rondo is concerned, and it's part of the reason the Atlanta series went to seven games.

It doesn't seem to matter when the Celtics are playing in the Garden, but on the road, Rivers has to be quicker to go to Sam when the offense is struggling. If Sam, at 38, wears down, go back to Rondo, but don't give Rondo the reins in the 3rd Quarter on the road — unless Doc is willing to sacrifice a championship for an "experience" playoffs for Rondo. If the Celtics fall short of the NBA Finals (they're by no means a shoe-in for conference finals) Rivers failure to make game adjustments will be the first thing called into question.

Trust in Sam, Doc. You won't be sorry.

Steady rollin' Joe   The Celtics-Cavs series is THE one for Bucks fans. There are future Bucks to watch in Cleveland's Danny Gibson and Wally Szczerbiak ( I finally spelled it right – I think) — How you doing on that Michael Redd, trade, Lebron?  And there are ex-Bucks to watch in Ray and Sam "I Am", and, coming off the Cleveland bench, Joe Smith (Damon Jones is on that bench too, but rarely leaves it).

Joe had a steady-rollin' game Saturday – 24 minutes, 17 points on 7/8 shooting, 6 rebounds, 4 fouls.  Smith made a couple of more shots than he normally would, but as Bucks fans know, his game was not that different than it ever was. Smith doesn't force anything, takes good shots, rebounds, plays D and gives his team a chance to win, though he won't be "the guy" winning it.

Smith, 32, came to the Bucks from the T-Wolves in the 2003 trade for Sam Cassell and Ervin Johnson. It was Ernie Grunfeld's last trade as GM, which coincided with the drafting of point guard T.J. Ford. Two weeks later, the woeful era of GM Larry Harris began. Smith started at power forward for two years, averaging 11 pts., 8 boards per game (which makes him one of the more productive power forwards in Bucks history). The following year, Smith came off the bench behind Jamal Magliore and Andrew Bogut, but was hobbled with injuries for much of the year – no doubt the effects of the Bob Boozer Jinx at work again at the Bucks PF position.

"Slickless" Larry eventually traded Smith to Denver for forward Ruben Patterson in Aug., 2006, trade #5 in a series of six dubious Larry trades that left Charlie Villanueva as the only player resource standing. Apparently Harris, never known for his patience, didn't feel like waiting for Smith to fully rehab his knee. The Bucks let Patterson go to the LA Clippers as a free agent in 1997.

In other words, in true Slickless style, the Bucks got nothing for Joe Smith. By the transitive property of the tradelines, this also means the Bucks got nothing for Sam Cassell, who, when he was traded for Smith in 2003 was under contract with the Bucks for another three seasons (at about $6 million per year) — and should not have been traded at all.

What if the Bucks kept Sam?  Instead of drafting T.J., the Bucks draft a forward in 2003 (say, David West). Terry Porter, in his first year as coach, has a leader on the floor in Sam (who was 2nd Team All-NBA 2003-04), and a developing big forward instead of injury prone Smith. Michael Redd's development as a scorer is more natural and team-oriented, and Redd never becomes the black hole or the $51 million, three-year contract problem that he is now. Sam controls the offense; Redd's contract extension doesn't get insane. Tim Thomas is happier (for a while anyway), the Bucks win more and there's less for Slickless Larry to foul up in 2005. Terry Porter keeps his job. Let's stop there, as it's beginning to look like this topic would be better as a post of its own.

In the meantime, Sam "I Am" fans have the Celtics-Cavs series, and Joe Smith and Ray Allen too.

And there's this, which I found whilst surfing around today. It's samcassellonline.org, the unofficial Sam Cassell website, created by a few of the LA Clippers faithful. Now that's good stuff.

Sponsored by: Trade Michael Redd

Like ESPN’s Bill Simmons, would-be GM of the Milwaukee Bucks and master of the Michael Redd shootingESPN Trade Machine, I consider basketball-reference.com the bible. A bbr window is almost always open on my desktop, despite that I know basketball refuses to be reduced to a game of statistics.

Imagine my surprise yesterday when I clicked to the bbr link for the 2007-08 Bucks and found that our 2007-08 Bucks had, as of April 21, acquired a sponsor: Aporiatwo.


No info is given about our proud sponsor, but “Aporiatwo” has this message for Bucks fans: 

“Why not the Sports Guy for GM? 2nd last in sieve-like defense, another lottery for us loyal Bucks fans. Why not the master of the Trade Machine? Think of what we could get for Michael Redd…”



Yes, it’s come down to this: Bucks fans so disgruntled they welcomed ESPN “Sports Guy” Bill Simmons as GM, probably because Simmons at least promised to make losing a little more fun.

(I’d post a link to Simmons’ fine writing here but “The Sports Guy” has yet to credit the Jinx for the hire-Sam “I Am” Cassell-as-player/coach idea. I wrote it first. Simmons knows it. He’s ducking me, probably because he figures he one-upped me with shock value by proposing Sam as player/head coach. I had Sam in mind for an offensive guru-type assistant. But here’s the kicker, Simmons’ high maintenance “idea” requires an NBA rule change – can’t play and be head coach at the same time. My idea – which came first – is perfectly legal as is. That makes my idea not only first but better – I PLAYED BY THE RULES!!!  Simmons, the ball is in your court.)

(Deep breath) Now that that’s off my chest, where we were we? …. Right, disgruntled Bucks fans entertaining Simmons’ madcap GM campaign;

AND mad enough to pay good money to brand our Bucks on bbr page with a “Michael Redd trade” message. The sponsorship cost Aporiatwo $30 cash money.

Aporiatwo, I realize that “trade Michael Redd” has become the motto of the season for Bucks fans, and I’m down with the cause, but … That’s a case of beer and a six pack!!!  What were you thinking?  

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As if some strange synchronicity among Bucks fans was at work, shortly after finding Aporiatwo’s “trade Redd” branding, I clicked over to the RealGM.com Bucks fan forum (which I don’t often do) to see if anything was going on with Scott Skiles’ assistant coach search that I might have missed. Sure enough, at that very moment, the realgms, ballboys and scouts were in the process of trading Michael Redd to Cleveland Cavaliers. Now there’s an idea! (It was the trade of the week last week here on Bob Boozer Jinx).

Although I do admit to taking a certain amount of creative license in calling Lebron James’ cell, I was (and still am) quite serious about the anatomy of the Michael Redd trade to Cleveland. The Cavaliers get Redd; the Bucks get 21-year-old shooting guard Daniel Gibson and the Wally Szczerbiak contract (one more year at $12 million). Keep it simple, get it done.

A few posters on realgm came to similar conclusions – Bucks would have to get Gibson or F/C Anderson Varejao or both; Cleveland would require that the Bucks take Wally’s contract, no way around it. The Cavs cannot afford to keep both Redd and Wally at shooting guard. The realgm-ers also added to the mix the Cavs #19 pick in the 2008 draft.

Gibson and Valejao are young players who can ball. Gibson’s been a better shooter than Redd the last two years (Gibson’s first two seasons in the league). Varejao’s like a young Dan Gadzuric, but less of a train wreck — a monster rebounder and a good defender. Because of Big Ben Wallace’s back and Z-Ilgauskus’ age, however, Cleveland’s not likely to risk parting with Varejao.

Gibson’s an up-and-coming player and a good pickup; and Wally (he’s only 30) would be a good veteran to have around for a year. He would fit in. Redd has nothing on either of them as an outside shooter, and the rest of his game would not be missed. The Bucks get better in the trade without the draft pick, and don’t risk the baggage of any other team’s expensive, tradebait “stars” who could hurt the development of the team.  With the pick, it’s a sweet deal.  Why would the Bucks turn it down?

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Back to basketball-reference.com  Other teams have sponsors too, but their fans haven’t been so activist with the messages as Aporiatwo, which is why it’s worth a mention. Most fans who buy player and team stat page sponsorships don’t leave any message at all, but there is this little note from the 2007-08 Miami Heat page sponsor, Eduardo Kupfer:

“Ah Riles, you slay me.”

“Riles” being Heat GM Pat Riley, who recently vacated the Heat coaching job – yikes!  How’d you like to see that message for a year on your team’s reference page? Buck up, Heat fans, you’ve got D-Wade.

One last bbr sponsorship note: The charge to sponsor the Michael Jordan page for a year is $520, or $10 per day. It’s much more economical to be a Bucks fan. Marques Johnson sells fo $20; Sidney Moncrief for $25. Kareem‘s takes the sky hook of Bucks players – $220 – but isn’t that the cost of Kareem being a Laker?

NBA Playoffs: “Dammit Ray!”

Strange Days for the Celtics  So how does a team that went 37-45 in the regular season, the youngest team in the playoffs, shock basketball fans everywhere by deadlocking the best team in basketball 2-2 in the first round of the playoffs?

The series that was the best excuse for going back to the bye system – remember the week off Nellie’s Bucks teams got at the end of each season – is now one of the more befuddling matchups in sports. And Joe Johnson, the Hawks shooting guard noticed only by Hawks fans at this year’s All-Star game, has arrived.

Johnson scored 35 points last night, 20 in a Jordan-esque fourth quarter. The Celtics entered the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead, only to watch helplessly as Johnson and the Hawks outscored them 32-17 to take game four of the seven game series.

In the process, Johnson made his coach, Mike Woodson, look like an offensive genius. Woodson simply isolated Johnson (at Johnson’s suggestion) one-on-one against Ray Allen, whose defense last night was about as soft as the defense he usually played when he was a Milwaukee Buck. Charmin soft. Textbook matador. After one driving Johnson basket in the fourth quarter, the TNT cameras panned to Celtics coach Doc Rivers, just as he was screaming, unmistakably, in all silent-screen actor obviousness, DAMMIT RAY!!!

Not to let Rivers off the hook. Doc was thoroughly outcoached by Woodson.  As Woodson’s Hawks formed their isolation set possession after possession, Johnson starting nearly at half court in one corner against Ray as the rest of the Hawks gathered along the opposite sideline, Rivers had no answer. He just left Allen to defend Johnson and all that open court by himself. “DAMMIT RAY!!!” was all he had.

Rivers last night might have turned in one of the worst-coached games of the postseason were it not for Denver coach George Karl’s pathetic job all last week against the Lakers. (I digress). The only basket the Celtics scored in the first EIGHT minutes of the 4th quarter was a three-pointer by Ray Allen, easily the best Celtics player on the court in the final 12 minutes. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce looked like rec league players.

Some of it was just bad, dumb luck – the Celtics worked hard for some good shots that, in the 4th, just rattled out. But great basketball teams make their own luck, and that’s where the Celtics fell short. (Nope, not gonna go for any of those hackneyed Irish cliches).

Bucks fans watching the game had to wonder why Rivers left Sam Cassell on the Celtics bench until the final 1:30 of the game. Sam “I Am” will find a way for his team to score more than four points in eight minutes. The trick is to put him in the game and give him the ball. Even George Karl understood that.

Come to think of it, any coach who has Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Sam Cassell at his disposal yet, minute after minute, puts the ball in the hands of a guy named Rajon Rondo, deserves all the trouble that Joe Johnson and the Atlanta Hawks can give them.

 “Basketball is a strange thing,” Cassell said after the game. “Strange things happen.” (Like another former Buck, Zaza Pachula, squaring off against future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett).

After last night’s game, I’m having a difficult time picturing the Celtics beating Lebron’s Cavaliers in the East semifinals – assuming the Celtics manage to get past the Hawks in this first round.

George Karl, the overrated  Having watched the Nuggets more than most NBA teams this season other than the Bucks, I’ve come to the conclusion that George Karl was absolutely full of it during his five years as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, especially on defense. George Karl is no defensive coach. 

Karl’s Denver Nuggets, led by Allen Iverson, last night became the first 50-win team in NBA history to be swept out of the playoffs last night by Kobe and the Lakers. Karl’s greatest talent as a coach is to take supremely talented teams and make them playoff underachievers. He did it in Seattle (two surpise first round flops). He did it in Milwaukee in three mediocre regular seasons in five years. Now he’s done it in Denver.

Not to lay it all on Karl’s doorstep. Allen Iverson and fellow guard J.R. Smith, who led the Nuggets reserves, were the only two Nuggets players who seemed to give a headband that their season was coming to an end. Carmelo Anthony’s looking round and melo – if he doesn’t lay off the potato chips, beer and weed, he’s going to turn into Antoine Walker.

The disappointing West  The ultra-competitive Western Conference has been anything but in the playoffs. With a few notable exceptions (game one of the Spurs-Suns series, which left the Suns demoralized), the Western matchups have been yawners. The vast majority of the great playoff basketball being played this year has come in the East.  Cavs-Wizards has been intense. Pistons-76ers has been a war. The Hawks, again, the youngest team in the playoffs, have stunned everyone against the Celtics.

The Lakers are as good as advertised, maybe even great. But the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets stumbled into the playoffs burnt out from the long regular season. Maybe 82-games is too many. Some of the older players just look tired (Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin – 30 years old and two knee surgeries). Injuries have taken their toll (Houston).

It’s no coincidence that the younger teams are beginning to emerge. The Orlando Magic, the Hawks, the Sixers, and the Chris Paul-led Charlotte Hornets have all impressed. Dallas, Detroit, Phoenix are beginning to wane. I’d say that about the Spurs but I know better. The Celtics are being tested.

Lebron James and the Cavaliers nursed injuries all season long and only won 45 games. But the Cavs are built for the playoffs, not the regular season, and they are proving it. Like the Spurs, they’re a seven-game series team.

The regular season is only a snapshot of NBA basketball in time. Sometimes the camera lies, and this seems to be one of those seasons.