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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

NBA REPORT

Despite adding Williams, Nets have big issues


NEW YORK — Some impure thoughts before they become outdated or suppressed:

Deron Williams may be the NBA's premier playmaker but he sure missed the point when it counted against the Knicks. For someone who's supposed to deliver the Nets from evil, his distribution decisions were appalling with the score tied 114-114.

Three straight times, beginning at the 2:34 mark, as Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony combined for three misses, he put the ball in the hands of a long distance jump shooter — Travis Outlaw in the right corner, Anthony Morrow from three and his own, beyond the arc — and made no effort to get the ball down low to Brook Lopez.

That was the Nets' problem when Devin Harris was the caretaker. It should not be the problem now. Williams, who also botched a fast break opportunity on the very next possession by giving Outlaw a bad pass, isn't supposed to forget about his big man.

Ahem, neither is Avery Johnson . . . and his coaching staff; you would think the "brains" of the outfit would have called Lopez' number.

At the same time, Lopez isn't without fault. I didn't notice him flexing for position in the low docks and demanding the ball. Apparently he feels he can shoot from anywhere, so why bother.

At any rate, not until there was one minute left did Lopez touch the ball, Knicks up two, thanks to Melo's short jumper. Naturally, he missed the layup. Next time down the floor (44 ticks), Williams went to the well and came up dry.

"I like their thought process. The last two trips they went to the basket," observed spineless Nets color commentator Jim Spanarkel, who did not object once to the team's senseless shot selection during the above stretch.

* * * * *
president Rod Thorn, who once drafted Michael Jordan in 1984 as Bulls GM and, as the NBA's supervisor of officials in 1997, picked Rashan Michel, 23, to referee . . . both apparently minus Avery's guidance. Four years later, Thorn's successor expelled Michel without any explanation; not that anybody asked or cared.

So, who is this 188-cm guy that allegedly attacked/confronted 203-cm Dominique Wilkins at courtside after last week's Hawks-Magic game regarding a reputed unpaid ($12,500) haberdashery bills . . . and not only got beat down (video of his left eye confirmed 'Nique can still go right) but charged with battery by Atlanta law enforcement?

"It was only a matter of time before someone stomped on Rashan," proclaimed a former refereeing partner.

"He was talented and troubled in the same way Tim Donaghy was talented and troubled. Both exhibited similar flashing warning signals. The league ignored the telltale signs of one and discharged the other."

According to someone with a hand on the pulse of such league liquidations, Michel lived in the fast lane during his tour and frequently got pulled over.

"Supposedly he had a drinking and driving problem and was put on probation more than once. That's what I heard at the time. You're obliged to alert the league if you get caught up in something else in appropriate. Evidently he failed to do that and that was all she wrote."

By all accounts, Michel is the kind of gent who fancies himself as being more important than what he's got going on. One of those things is brokering suit deals between expensive tailors and affluent athletes he had ingratiated. A perk — if not (partial) payment for suits — of those relationships, outwardly involved sitting courtside.

"I saw him at a lot of games and his seat was always near the action," said the former colleague, not surprised Michel got so close to Wilkins during his post-game telecast. It was a familiar venue. He was acquainted with procedure and security was acquainted with him.

The former colleague also couldn't miss hearing Michel's grating voice.

"He heckles refs. He mocks our calls and screams at you to 'make the call.' He's a real smart ass."

Those consulted offered nothing redeeming on Michel. On the other hand, not everybody took Wilkins' side. People were not shy about dropping damaging dimes on him.

"The Human Highlight Film has a history of not paying people," volunteered one former player by e-mail.

Another message allowed, "I don't know the details of this episode. All I can say is that when 'Nique left Greece (1996) he owed everybody money.

"He stiffed mad people. Meanwhile, he was the highest paid player on the team and in Europe, for that matter. You would think he would have acted differently considering the year before he came to Greece (and won the Euroleague crown) he was on a poor Celtics squad. And the year after Greece he played for the Spurs (also poor) for the minimum, which at the time was like $250,000.

"One time the team went out to celebrate a Big W and 'Nique ordered all sorts of stuff and then refused to go to his pocket. He left the huge bill to his teammates who were making nothing compared to him.

"Maybe he's changed, but just saying. . . . that's low class."

Peter Vecsey covers the NBAfor the New York Post.


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