Cavaliers interested in Corey Maggette, waiting for Amare Stoudemire

Danny Ferry is waiting to hear from the Suns about his offer to take Stoudemire off their payroll in exchange for JJ Hickson and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The trade could be finalize as early as today according to many reports.

However, many other teams are trying to get  from the Suns.  According to’s Marc Stein, the Miami Heat are pushing very hard to steal him from the Cavaliers. However, other than Dwyane Wade, the Heat has nothing to offer but don’t ever underestimate Pat Riley.

While the Suns mull over their options, Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry remains the most active in the league leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline.

In addition to Antawn Jamison and the Indiana Pacers regarding Troy Murphy, Cleveland is in discussions with the Warriors about Maggette according to four people with knowledge of the talks.

Corey Maggette has three years and nearly $31 million left on his contract and has been somewhat injury prone and has made the playoff only once in his 11-year career. Maggette is 30-years old and has a career average 16.6 points.

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Cavs are close to deal Z and Hickson for Stoudemire

Amare StoudemireDanny Ferry has been working very hard the past few days trying to put a deal together to bring All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire to join Shaq and Lebron in Cleveland.

According to various reports close to the negotations, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns are closing in on a deal. The deal would send Zydrunas Ilgauskas and J.J. Hickson to Phoenix in exchange for Stoudemire.

The Cavaliers are also invovled with several other teams including Troy Murphy from Indiana and Antawn Jamison from Washington.

However, Stoudemire is first on Cavs general manager Ferry’s list. By bringing another All-Star to play along side Lebron, Danny Ferry and Cavaliers owner Gilbert hope that would make the Cavaliers a championship contender for many years to come and make the job of re-signing Lebron James much easier.

The Suns will likely waive Ilgauskas, which would allow him to be re-signed by Cleveland after 30 days. The Cavaliers are also prepared to sign Stoudemire, who has one year and $17 million remaining on his contract, to a long-term contract extension once the season ends.

Amare has been linked to seven other teams inlcuding the Miami Heat. Amare on all the rumors:

“I was telling one of my friends earlier that this is like being in high school again, trying to figure out what college you’re going to go to,” said Stoudemire, who skipped college and entered the NBA in 2002. “So, you just make sure you go to the right program. You have to have fun with it. Every top player has gotten traded before.”

Amare is 27-years old and averaging 21 points and close to 9 rebounds per game this season.

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LeBron James All-Star Saturday Interview

The Cleveland Cavaliers are two games ahead of the defending champion L.A. Lakers in the race for the NBA’s best regular season record—and the Cavs’ lead is really in effect three games because the Cavs swept the head to head season series—yet the Cavs only have one participant in the various All-Star Weekend activities: LeBron James, the 2009 NBA MVP who made the All-Star team for the sixth straight year. Mo Williams is putting up roughly the same numbers he did while earning a 2009 All-Star selection (averaging slightly fewer points but slightly more assists) but his shoulder injury shortly before the All-Star break likely killed whatever opportunity he may have had to be selected as a reserve by the Eastern Conference coaches. Shaquille O’Neal’s slow start statistically damaged his chances of earning a 16th All-Star berth even though he played a major role in Cleveland’s victories over the Lakers and the Orlando Magic, last year’s NBA Finalists. While it is perhaps understandable that due to the aforementioned reasons the Cavs only have one All-Star, it is strange that the Cavs’ three point shooting prowess failed to land either Anthony Parker or Daniel Gibson in the Three Point Shootout.

In the long run, though, such perceived slights may simply provide extra motivation for the Cavs as they position themselves for the stretch drive of the regular season in preparation for the 2010 playoffs. During Saturday’s All-Star media availability session, James said, “I think that it’s just an ongoing story with our franchise being the butt of jokes…not getting the respect that we thought that we should have had last year: it took three or four injuries last year for Mo (Williams) to be an All-Star when we were the best team in the league. Once again we are the best team in the league but Mo got no consideration and Shaq got no consideration. We have three of the top three point shooters in the league but we have no three point shooters in the Three Point Shooting contest tonight. But at the end of the day we have to earn it by going out and playing basketball.”

I obtained what I like to call “pole position” (i.e., standing right next to him) during James’ media availability; unless you are a TV cameraman, you have a long boom mike or you possess exceptional hearing, “pole position” is very important. Here is a sampling of what James said about a wide range of topics. Questions that I asked directly are in quotation marks; other questions are paraphrased because it was not always possible to understand them verbatim. James’ answers are presented in bold typeface:

You have said that the Cowboys are your favorite NFL team. How much are you looking forward to playing in Cowboys Stadium?

It’s going to be fun. I think it’s exciting. I think it’s going to be electrifying. There are going to be a lot of people there, 90-100,000, so it’s going to be really exciting and really fun.

“How would you compare Cleveland’s roster this year with the roster you had when Cleveland made it to the NBA Finals in 2007?”

Oh, we’re better. I think potential-wise we’re a better team than we were in 2007 but we did catch a hot streak in 2007, got hot at the right time in the playoffs, played well in the playoffs and that’s why we were able to advance to the Finals. But, I think that potential-wise we are better than we were three years ago.

Do you regret that the All-Star break happened right as you are riding a 13 game winning streak?

Yeah, of course, you want to play well and continue to play well going into the break and after the break. We wish we could have continued to play but guys need rest. We have a lot of veterans. We had a lot of nicks and bruises, especially with Delonte (West) and with Mo (Williams), so it gives guys an opportunity to rest their bodies and get ready for after the break.

Omri Casspi is the first Israeli player in the NBA. What do you think of his game?

He’s a very good player. He’s going to continue to get better. He’s young and the good thing about their team (Sacramento Kings) is that he has young guys to grow with him, Tyreke Evans being one of them, Jason Thompson being another one—they can all grow together. He’s very athletic and he can shoot the ball extremely well, so he’s going to have a good career.

“The Dream Team is a Hall of Fame Finalist this year. What are your memories of watching that team play and what kind of impact did that have on you as a kid?”

The most obvious thing is how badly they just dominated the rest of the world and one of my real memories, though, is how they dominated teams and the teams wanted to take pictures with them. That is a memory I will never forget.

What do you like to do off of the court?

I play video games a lot. I play six, seven times a week. I play a lot of video games, a lot of hours out of my day. I play Xbox 360, Army of Two and I play NBA2K10. I just finished my season of Madden—I played three or four teams.

What do you think of the Boston Celtics this year? They have not been playing well recently.

The funny thing about it is they are still one of the top teams in the NBA. I mean, you lose a few games—people get so spoiled and think that you can win all the time, so when you lose a few games people wonder what is going on. They are a very experienced team, a great team. They’ve got three of the best players in the league on one team with Paul (Pierce), Ray (Allen) and KG (Kevin Garnett), plus (Rajon) Rondo is having an unbelievable season—he absolutely should be an All-Star. So I’m not looking too far into it (in terms) of this team going down. There is no team in the NBA as players who look at Boston and say, “They’re falling off.” That is still a team to be reckoned with.

What will it be like playing basketball in a football stadium? Have you ever done that before?

I’ve never played in one before. I watched (a basketball game in a football stadium) once before, when Davidson played Wisconsin two years ago I think it was, when Stephen Curry played in (the NCAA Tournament) in Ford Field in Detroit. I have no idea how to prepare for something like this—90,000 people at a basketball game, that will be like a rock concert…It’s going to be really loud and it’s going to be fun…It won’t take me long (to adjust); when the lights go on I’ll be ready.

Do you have any advice for Gerald Wallace in the Slam Dunk Contest?

I have no idea what to do in the Slam Dunk Contest. That is why I decided not to be a part of it but I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun. There are some athletic guys in it. I look forward to seeing it.

What kind of guy is Dwight Howard?

What you see is what you get with Dwight. People see him having fun, loving the game, laughing and enjoying life and that is exactly how Dwight is. He’s a big kid and you want to have fun when you play the game of basketball because there is so much that goes on with the game that if you take it too seriously it can definitely bring you down.

Are you concerned about the Cavs possibly peaking early?

You would rather be riding a high wave than a low wave. It’s something that you can’t control but at the same time we know that we want to play our best ball in late March, towards April, once the playoffs start. But I’m not going to say that we don’t like what is going on with our team now because I’d be lying to you but we definitely want to play our best ball in late March going into April.

After you lost your first two games people were down on your team. Talk about how you responded to that.

We lost our first two games and since then we are 42-9 (laughs). I’ll take that.

“When you lost your first two games do you think that a lot of people underestimated how difficult it is to integrate so many new people into the team in different roles?”

Well, what happens sometimes in our league and in sports in general is that people (think) that paper rosters are automatically supposed to be on the floor. People look at the roster and say, “This is who they’ve got, so this is what should happen” and automatically crown someone as the champs because of who they’ve got (on the roster). It takes time. You can’t rush chemistry. You can’t rush teamwork and things like that. It took us a few weeks. It took us the whole training camp plus two or three weeks of the regular season to finally get it going and we’ve had it ever since.

“Was part of the issue getting the newer players used to how to play in Coach Mike Brown’s defensive system?”

Early in the season it was our scoring. We got a lot of stops. The first game of the season we played Boston and we couldn’t score. Second game we played Toronto in Toronto and we couldn’t score. Defense is very easy to adjust to when you have new guys because at the end of the day it is all about communication, talking, flying around and helping each other. If you expect a guy to be in a certain place on the offensive end and he’s not there then it can result in turnovers and things like that. That’s all about chemistry, building that.

What would it mean to you to win an NBA championship in your home state?

It would mean everything. It would mean everything. I was able to do it three times in my high school career, winning three state championships and winning a national championship my senior year, so I’ve seen how the community grasps at the game at basketball. So at the professional level you can (multiply) that by 100. It would mean a lot and I’m doing whatever it takes. I work my tail off every single day to try to get better and put ourselves in position to win an NBA championship.

Who would win if you played Kobe Bryant one on one?

I don’t know, man. I’m not a one on one guy and I’ve never been a one on one guy. We are two unbelievable talents who just try to do whatever is possible to help our respective teams win every time on the court.

Who is your favorite international player of all time?

Dirk Nowitzki is my favorite international player.

“Why is Dirk Nowitzki your favorite international player?”

His abilities are unbelievable. To be 7-1 and handle the ball the way as well as he does, to post up and to shoot the ball as well as he can shoot the ball at that size—I love it. It’s effortless to him, like Kevin Durant. These guys just score effortlessly, it seems like they never sweat, they just go out there, play basketball and score 30. Those guys I love.

After the media availability ended, James stopped to give his Team USA teammate Jason Kidd a hug. James jokingly apologized to the Dallas star for bringing the cold weather from Cleveland to the Lone Star State and James told Kidd, “I had to go to the mall to get a skully and thermals.” It is a bit hard to picture James just visiting the mall to pick up winter clothes during the middle of All-Star Weekend, so Kidd kind of gave James a funny look and then James laughed and said, “Well, I sent someone to the mall.”

Twelve and Counting

The Cleveland Cavaliers now hold not only the NBA’s best record (42-11), but the league’s longest win streak of the season at 12.

It took a tough and gutsy performance but the Cavs were able to hand the New Jersey Nets their 47th loss in 51 tries, 104-97. The Cavaliers started off slowly trailing the Nets 27-26 after the first quarter. The only Cavalier that seemed to have his “A game” early was Anderson Varejao. Andy hit on 6-7 from the floor and had 13 first half points including a rim-rocking slam on an alley-oop pass from LeBron.

James said, “He doesn’t dunk the ball a lot and he doesn’t catch lobs at all. For him to go up there and catch it was surprising and definitely a momentum-builder at that point.” The Cavaliers went to the break leading 55-49. The two teams were both even par scoring 23 points in the 3rd quarter, then the real Cavs showed up.

Cleveland opened the 4th quarter on a 13-2 run and eventually held a 17 point lead (91-74). James had 13 4th quarter points to help seal the deal. James finished up with 32 points and 11 dimes. Jawad Williams stepped up huge draining a career high 17 points, including three timely 3 pointers. Anderson Varejao ended the night with 15 points and 9 rebounds, Daniel Gibson also scored in double figures with 11.

This victory is the Cavs 7th straight over the Nets and gives them the NBA’s best home record at 23-3. Cleveland is also an astounding 29-1 when reaching the 100 point plateau. It’s great seeing the team get the wins that they’re suppose to, going 25-2 against the league’s sub .500 teams.

Next up it’s time to give the defending Eastern Conference champs,the Orlando Magic, a little payback as the teams meet Thursday night at the Q.

James Goes Off In Win Over Knicks

LeBron James catches fire Saturday night to help the Cavs extend win streak to 11 in 113-106 victory over the New York Knicks. James had the single best half in Cavaliers’ history scorching the Knicks with 35 first half points, overtaking the previous record of 34 held by Walt Wesley.

Reminiscent to the show he put on in the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals scoring 25 straight points, James poured in 24 consecutive Saturday night in a span of 5:29. “My God,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He didn’t even come close to missing.” James nailed four 3’s in the final 2 minutes of the first quarter to give the Cavs another huge opening stint lead 44-24.

It didn’t stop there as the Cavs cruised on throughout the second, and amassed a jaw-dropping 74 first half points. At one point the Cavs built an almost insurmountable 24 point lead but the Knicks battled back, as the Cavs seemed to slow up their intensity ,to pull to within 3 points with less than 3 minutes to play. Then James finished what he started by knocking down back to back jumpers and leading the Cavs to the win.

Shaq continued his all-star like play dropping in 19 points. J.J. Hickson and Anthony Parker were the only other Cavaliers to score double figures(Hickson 10, Parker 11). LeBron stuffed the entire stat sheet scoring 47 points, grabbing 8 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 steals.

The 11th straight win ties Cleveland with Boston and L.A. with the longest streak of the year, which the Cavs should have no trouble grabbing their 12th as the next game is against the dismal New Jersey Nets.

Cavaliers Extend Win Streak to Double Digits

The Cavaliers won their 10th consecutive game Thursday night torching the Heat 102-86. Point guard LeBron James led the charge with 36 points 7 rebounds and 8 assists. No you didn’t misread, I said point guard LeBron James.

The Cavaliers already had a depleted backcourt missing Mo Williams and Delonte West with injuries, and Thursday night Daniel Gibson was scratched from the starting lineup while at the hospital tending to his pregnant fiancée, singer Keyshia Cole.

This forced the ball into James’ hands even more than usual, but let’s be honest is that really ever a bad thing? The game was tight throughout the first half with the Cavs holding a 56-52 lead at the break. After three quarters the Cavs held an 8 point lead but then busted it wide open outscoring the Heat 10-3 in the opening moments of the fourth. Not only have the Cavs won 10 in a row but their average margin of victory is 10.9.

Shaq not only contributed with 13 points and 8 rebounds but he also stood tall in the paint knocking D Wade hard to the floor on two seperate occassions. J.J. Hickson is also emerging as a young star scoring 12 points including a posterizing dunk right on top of Wade.

After showing up right before halftime Daniel Gibson poured in 12 second half points including two key 3’s. The Cavaliers are the NBA’s first team to 40 wins, but don’t think they’re just feeding off of the weak be ause Cleveland is an outstanding 22-5 against above .500 teams.

LeBron James’ Impressive All-Star Game Resume

After just five appearances, LeBron James has already made his mark in the All-Star Game record book, averaging 23.4 ppg (first all-time, 2.9 ppg ahead of former leader Oscar Robertson), 6.6 rpg and 5.2 apg while shooting .516 from the field. James needs just 68 points–three more “average” games at his current pace–to crack the top ten on the All-Star all-time career scoring list, a group whose members have played in at least 11 All-Star games each. James is not a noted long range marksman but he ranks ninth in All-Star history in three point field goal percentage (.382; former Cavalier Mark Price is fifth at .474, while Glen Rice ranks first with a blistering .600) and is tied for third-fourth in All-Star history with 13 three point field goals made, trailing Kobe Bryant by four and Ray Allen by seven (you won’t see any old school players on that list because the NBA first used the three point shot during the 1979-80 season and it did not become an integral part of most players’ games until several years later).

NBA All-Star statistics are not as important or meaningful as numbers posted in regular season and postseason play but–as I first noted in a March 2002 Basketball Digest article titled Midseason Maestros and then discussed again in an piece called NBA Allows Their Stars to Shine–even though All-Star games are by definition exhibitions the NBA All-Star Game more closely approximates a “real” game than the All-Star games sponsored by the NFL, MLB or NHL, each of which are governed by special rules or considerations that either limit players’ playing time or curtail their opportunities to play the kind of all out, full speed game that earned them their All-Star selections in the first place.

James has already won two All-Star MVPs (2006, 2008), so he certainly has a chance to tie or break Bob Pettit’s record (four; 1956, 1958, 1959–shared with Elgin Baylor–and 1962); Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant each won three All-Star MVPs (including the 2009 honor that O’Neal and Bryant shared).

Although James started young and will likely be an All-Star for at least 10 more years, he still has a lot of work to do to match Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time records of 19 All-Star selections and 18 All-Star game appearances. James’ new teammate Shaquille O’Neal ranks second with 15 All-Star selections, though injuries limited O’Neal to 12 appearances. Julius Erving played in the All-Star game in each of his 16 seasons (five in the ABA followed by 11 in the NBA) and he holds the record for most All-Star points (321), while Michael Jordan (14 selections, 13 appearances) is the all-time NBA leader with 262 All-Star points, ahead of Abdul-Jabbar (251) and Oscar Robertson (246). Assuming that James plays in the All-Star game every year, at his current pace he will break Jordan’s record in 2016 and then pass Erving’s mark in 2018.

James’ All-Star single game highs are 29 points (2006), eight rebounds (2005, 2008) and nine assists (2008) but he has yet to be the single game leader in any of those categories, so James has a long way to go to equal Bob Pettit (six-time All-Star scoring leader), Tim Duncan (six-time All-Star rebounding leader) and Magic Johnson (seven-time All-Star assists leader); it seems likely that James will be the scoring leader multiple times before his career ends and he probably will also be the leader at least once in assists–perhaps as soon as this year since Chris Paul, the 2008 and 2009 leader with 14 assists in each of those games, will not play due to a knee injury. Only four players–Pettit, Abdul-Jabbar, Erving and Elvin Hayes–have led an All-Star Game at least once in scoring, rebounding and assists. Pettit is the only player to lead in all three categories in the same All-Star Game–and he did it twice, 1956 and 1959; James certainly possesses the necessary all-around skills to not only duplicate that feat but also to become just the second player in All-Star history to post a triple double (Michael Jordan had 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in 1997, though he shot just 5-14 from the field).