9:10 p.m. Eastern
-It seems like the Chris Paul to the Clippers trade could be gaining momentum, says Marc Stein. New Orleans is insisting on Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu and Minnesota’s 2012 first round pick.
8:23 p.m. Eastern
-There is now renewed momentum to complete the Chris Paul trade, says ESPN. Did the Chauncey Billups waiver claim change the Clippers’ resistance to dealing Eric Bledsoe?
8:15 p.m. Eastern
-The Grizzlies and Clippers will keep their stars, matching offer sheets for Marc Gasol (4/55) and DeAndre Jordan (4/43).
-Vince Carter signed with Dallas and Detroit waived Kareem Rush, says Alex Kennedy. The Mavs also signed Delonte West, says Slam Magazine.
6:13 p.m. Eastern
-The Clippers have placed the winning bid on Chauncey Billups. They’ve moved on rather quickly from Chris Paul.
6:10 p.m. Eastern
-A team won an amnesty waiver claim on Chauncey Billups, but we are unsure of which team won the claim. New Jersey did not place a claim, but the Clippers did, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
-The Knicks are among the teams still trying to sign Jamal Crawford, but the Pacers, Blazers and TimberWolves are among other suitors.
-Anthony Parker gets one year and $2.25 million from Cleveland.
-Malcolm Lee signed a three-year deal with Minnesota and Denver signed DeMarre Carroll.
4:30 p.m. Eastern
-New Jersey is debating whether to put in a bid for Chauncey Billups, says Adrian Wojnarowski.
3:40 p.m. Eastern
-One of the changes Dwight Howard wants to implement for the Magic is the signing of Chauncey Billups, says Marc Stein.
2 p.m. Eastern
-The Chris Paul to the Clippers scenario is dead for now, says Adrian Wojnarowski.
1:40 p.m. Eastern
-Dwight Howard would be willing to stay with the Magic if many changes are implemented. Could be a huge development.
-The Knicks could end up with Baron Davis if he gets amnestied, says multiple sources, including Al Iannazzone.
1:20 p.m. Eastern
-With New Orleans’/the NBA’s asking price for Chris Paul too high, the Clippers could pull out, says Adrian Wojnarowski.
-More Wojnarowski: Rip Hamilton and James Posey are being amnestied by Detroit and Indiana, respectively.
-Chauncey Billups has threatened to retire if a team picks him up off amnesty waivers today, but the Bobcats may do it anyway, says Marc Stein.
-Memphis and Indiana are discussing a trade that would send O.J. Mayo to the Pacers for Josh McRoberts (sign and trade) and Brandon Rush.
-Denver is interested in trading for Sixers big Marreese Speights.
11:35 a.m. Eastern
-A source told David Aldridge that the Hornets will have to choose between Eric Gordon and Minnesota’s 2012 unprotected first round pick, not both.
-Charlotte is considering a claiming bid on Chauncey Billups despite it being against his wishes, says Marc Stein. *Charlotte, along with Detroit, Sacramento, Denver and Toronto, will bid on Reggie Williams. *Toronto has signed PG Anthony Carter.
10:58 a.m. Eastern
-The Clippers will not give up Eric Gordon in a Chris Paul trade, says Ken Berger.
-Cleveland has re-signed Anthony Parker, says the Plain Dealer.
10:30 a.m. Eastern
-The Clippers are trying to move Eric Gordon in a Chris Paul trade, but didn’t want his name reported, says Chris Broussard. Yeah, good luck with that one Clips.
-Dallas is trying to move Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer to create more cap space, says Adrian Wojnarowski. Speculation: The Knicks would love to get Fernandez.
-Charlotte, Orlando and Washington could have interest in Reggie Williams, whose qualifying offer was rescinded by Golden State (to make room for the DeAndre Jordan offer sheet), who is now an unrestricted free agent.
9:50 a.m. Eastern
-While ESPN is reporting Eric Gordon is in the proposed Chris Paul trade to the Clippers, Adrian Wojnarowski now says he is not.
9:30 a.m. Eastern
-Minnesota’s four-year deal with J.J. Barea is worth $19 million, says Marc Stein.
9:13 a.m. Eastern
-San Antonio has an offer out to Josh Howard with Utah and Washington still interested, says Marc Spears.
8:40 a.m. Eastern
-It seems like the only thing holding up the Chris Paul deal to the Clippers is Eric Bledsoe’s inclusion, but the deal could possibly get done without him, say Chris Broussard and Marc Stein.
8:35 a.m. Eastern
-Chris Paul could get traded to the Clippers as soon as today. Los Angeles would trade Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and Minnesota’s 2012 unprotected first-round pick, say Chris Broussard and Marc Stein. The league, which owns the Hornets, are additionally asking for Eric Bledsoe in the deal. As part of the deal, Paul would opt into his contract for 2012-2013, giving him at least two years of time on the Clippers. As Harvey Araton points out, Lakers fans would be well within their rights to cry conspiracy if he ends up on LA’s “other” team.
-In another potentially head-scratching move by Minnesota GM David Kahn, the Wolves are close to signing PG JJ Barea to a four-year deal, says David Aldridge. The TimberWolves already have Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour at PG. The Knicks and Mavericks were also interested in Barea.
-New Jersey will try to sign Gilbert Arenas if they complete a deal for Dwight Howard, says Chris Broussard.
-Houston signed G Jeremy Lin, who was released by Golden State.
NEW YORK– By Daniel Friedman
New York Metro Outlook
New York Rangers
If you were hoping the Rangers would cool off, you’re going to be disappointed. This team hasn’t slowed down, not even a little, and they’re situated fourth in the Eastern Conference, just one point behind the Philadelphia Flyers for tops in the Atlantic Division.
The Rangers are sniping the opposition, one game at a time. Just ask Artem Anisimov, who’s celebratory act could rival Terrell Owens (it’s worth a look if you haven’t yet seen it). While Anisimov’s actions might have been uncalled for, the responses they triggered were highly disproportionate. Coach John Tortorella spoke with Anisimov after the incident, made his point and that should’ve been the end of it. And in case you were concerned that Anisimov wouldn’t receive the message, he scored last night in New York’s 6-1 win over the Florida Panthers and, other than a bunch of high-fives and pats on the back, it wasn’t much of a party. He’s learned his lesson, end of story. Anisimov doesn’t need to be fined or suspended, that’s simply utter nonsense.
Say what you want about the guy, but Anisimov’s improved play is a major reason for the Blueshirts’ sustained dominance. With six points in his last five contests, the 23-year-old Russian is on pace for around 57 by year’s end. The scary thing is, he’s not the only one giving these Rangers a boost. Derek Stepan has been on an absolute tear of his own, with 20 points on the year. He scored twice last night against the Panthers, including a highlight-reel tally. Even more
important, his play has helped revive Marian Gaborik, a guy the Blueshirts rely on to be at the top of his game at all times, because let’s face it: They’re not the same team when he’s not playing well.
For Stepan, the difference between now and a year ago is that he came into this season much stronger. When these kids start to add muscle, that’s when they raise their games to a higher level and that’s exactly what we’re seeing from Derek Stepan.
Another youngster on this team that I like is Carl Hagelin who, like Stepan, is also 23 years of age. Hagelin’s biggest assets are his speed and nose for the net. He has six points in nine games with the Rangers this season.
New York Islanders
The Islanders have a long way to go before they can even be considered playoff contenders, but they’re definitely making progress. The Isles’ much-improved play can be attributed to better defensive efforts from guys like Travis Hamonic and Steve Staios, as well as the consistent, reliable goaltending they’ve received from Al Montoya, who’s quite
possibly the most underrated net-minder in the National Hockey League (yes, I’ll go that far).
Hamonic, in particular, has looked more and more like the steady defensive presence he became last year. He’s taking away passing and shooting lanes, finishing his checks and, for the most part, isn’t getting beat on the rush. He’s also been more involved when the Islanders have the puck in the offensive zone, joining the play and taking shots. He’s struggled to put up points but has seemingly snapped out of that funk, having recorded three points in his last five games (one goal, two assists).
New York had obtained at least one point in six consecutive contests until the Pittsburgh Penguins, minus Sidney Crosby (more on him later), Jordan Staal, Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek, KO’d the Isles 6-3 at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night. During that game, Hamonic was wrongly assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct for ”elbowing” Pens’ defenseman Brooks Orpik. That certainly shifted the momentum away from the Islanders but alas, it is not an excuse for
blowing a couple of leads and ultimately losing the game.
There was a lot to be disappointed with in that particular game, but the fact is, the Islanders are 4-1-2 in their last seven contests and, considering where they were at the beginning of the season, that’s something for these guys to take pride in. They’ve worked hard, been strong on the forecheck as well as the backcheck, and they’ve shown the heart and desperation that was previously missing. The Isles are scoring goals too, which always helps, especially when you place among the bottom-five in goals-for. John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner, P.A. Parenteau and Kyle Okposo (welcome back) have really stepped things up a notch.
As for Montoya, what else is there to say, other than that he’s one heck of a goalie? He’s 5-4-3 with a 2.43 GAA and .920 save percentage, and the team seems to respond to him more so than the other goaltenders on this team. Speaking of other goaltenders, Rick DiPietro’s likely headed for IR (surprise, surprise) while Evgeni Nabokov should be good to go and in the lineup tomorrow night in Montreal. It’s still early enough for the Islanders to at least get back into playoff contention. There’s 55 games left on the schedule and the Isles are only seven points out of eighth place.
New Jersey Devils
If there was one word to describe the Devils’ play this season it would be “inconsistent.” Once again, New Jersey seemed to be getting into a bit of a groove by winning a pair of games in a row, only to fall to the Montreal this past Saturday, by a 2-1 margin. The Devils have now lost six of their last eight match-ups, several of which were against teams they probably should’ve beaten (Islanders, Avalanche, Jets, Canadiens).
So, what’s gone wrong in New Jersey? Well, a number of things, Martin Brodeur included. Brodeur’s made plenty of highlight-reel saves, but for all the pretty stops, his stat line is just plain ugly. Granted, he doesn’t have a very good defense in front of him, but a 3.18 GAA and .880 save percentage? That’s not the Martin Brodeur we know and
hate (unless you’re a Devils fan, that is). At times he’s looked brilliant but, there’ve been a number of instances where he’s simply not been in tip-top shape. This team needs him to play well if they’re going to have any sort of shot at the playoffs, and the same applies to back-up Johan Hedberg, who’s been sharp when called upon this year.
They’re also an absolute mess in their own zone. 16 out of 18 regulars have a negative plus/minus rating, and the worst part is, Ilya Kovalchuk leads the charge with a team-worst minus-12. There are very few players in this lineup who can be counted upon to prevent the opposition from scoring. That has to change, and fast.
Still, there are a few bright spots, including Adam Henrique (20 points in 25 games), rookie Adam Larsson and the ageless Patrik Elias. Brodeur was previously in that category, but he’s surrendered eight goals in his last two starts. If he can bounce back, it’ll be a major boost for this team. But it’s quite apparent that the New Jersey Devils have a number of holes to patch up if they wish to have a shot at the playoffs. Things only get more difficult from here.
Observations From Around The League
1) Sidney Crosby Sidelined Again
This afternoon, Sidney Crosby announced that he was, once again, experiencing “concussion-like symptoms” and would therefore be out of the lineup. There is no timetable for his return as of this moment. Crosby says he’s feeling better than he was last season, but he wants to make sure he’s fully recovered before he steps out onto the ice once again. Said Crosby: “I’m not (feeling) bad,” Crosby said. “And I’m not happy about watching. But I’ve got to make sure with these
sort of things that I’m careful and (I’m) aware of making sure I’m 100 percent before coming back.” I think he’ll be just fine and will shortly return to driving opposing teams insane with his dazzling playmaking skills.
But heck, let the Eric Lindros comparisons begin.
Flyers forward Claude Giroux, who currently leads the league in scoring with 39 points, is also out indefinitely with a concussion. He’ll be reevaluated on Tuesday and is considered “day-to-day.” Bottom line, the NHL has to do something about these head injuries. The league’s stars are dropping like flies, as are several other players. It doesn’t always have to be at Pebble Beach; get everyone together and work this out. Waiting until the next officially scheduled get-together could be a grave mistake.
2) Kings Replace Murray With Stevens
The Kings have made the move we’ve been anticipating, letting go of head coach Terry Murray this evening. LA started out strongly this season, but have since been relegated to 12th in the Western Conference, thanks to their subpar play. Their fourth consecutive loss, which came against the Dallas Stars on Saturday night, was the apparent final straw. The Kings are also the lowest-scoring team in the NHL, which should not be the case if you take a look at some the names in their lineup. Other than Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and Justin Williams, LA hasn’t receive much offensive support. John Stevens, who most recently coached in Philadelphia, was hired in Murray’s stead. He’ll have quite the riddle to solve.
Murray became the fifth coach to get canned this season, joining Davis Payne (St. Louis Blues), Paul Maurice (Carolina Hurricanes), Randy Carlyle (Anaheim Ducks) and Bruce Boudreau (Washington Capitals).
3) Ovechkin & Co. Back In Business
Remember how the Washington Capitals were going to choke early this season? I don’t, and I’m not sure why people were so quick to write them off during the team’s recent rough stretch. I still believe firing Bruce Boudreau will, in time, prove to have been the wrong decision. But that doesn’t mean these guys can’t win under their current bench-boss, Dale Hunter. The Caps have won two in a row and are starting to look more like the team we’ve expected to see all along. Alex Ovechkin has been playing with some more confidence, notching three points in his last five games, and Washington has
simply played better hockey lately. It may be a small sample size, but I believe the Caps are turning the corner.
4) Canucks Roaring Ahead
The Minnesota Wild might want to cherish this nice lead they have in both their division and the Western Conference. Why? Because I have a pretty good feeling it’s not going to last much longer. Certainly not if the Canucks have anything to say on the matter.
Vancouver’s scorching-hot right now and are 9-1 in their last ten games. They’ve gone from outside the playoff picture to being right in the thick of it all, sixth in the Conference and six points behind Minnesota. It will take some time, but unless the Wild can keep their streak going, the Canucks will eventually eclipse them. Talent-wise, it’s an absolute mismatch; the Canucks are head and shoulders ahead of Minnesota and should finish atop the division by season’s end.
“Backup” goaltender Cory Schneider, who’d be a starter on many other teams, has come up big for Vancouver recently, while Ryan Kesler, Jannik Hansen, Chris Higgins and defenseman Alexander Edler have given the team a whole bunch of scoring options not named Daniel or Henrik Sedin. Don’t expect these guys to back down, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with going forward.
5) Montreal Makes Right Move In Acquiring Kaberle
The Montreal Canadiens were desperate for some help on their powerplay unit, and Tomas Kaberle has been brought in to fill that role. The Habs got Kaberle from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for D Jaroslav Spacek. I like this move for Montreal because they got rid of an aging, injury-prone defenseman in Spacek and were able to get someone who, regardless of all the criticism he’s received lately, has plenty of talent and can move the puck well. Kaberle’s a good player, he just needs to be in the right situation. While it doesn’t figure in all that much, I do think he missed the intensity and excitement of playing in Canada. He’s stepping into somewhat-familiar territory and that should help him settle-in rather quick. If his first game as a Hab was any indication, Kaberle’s going to do just fine. He had a pair of assists in Montreal’s 2-1 win over New Jersey this past Saturday.