Updated: February 3, 2010, 11:41 AM ET

1. Nets Lose Again -- And Lose Del Harris, Too

By Chris Sheridan

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Del Harris emerged from the assistant coaches' room surprised to see a small crowd of reporters awaiting him, a development that upset him to the point that he grew uncharacteristically defensive.

In a printed statement he issued afterward, Harris said he believes interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe has made strides with the New Jersey Nets; there is "strong evidence that the team has gotten over the hump and will be much more competitive the rest of the way," Harris said.

But anybody who has ever written or read a prepared statement knows that the real truth is usually untold or glossed over, and Harris was dumbfounded that the news of his departure had broken during the game.

"The news isn't supposed to be out,'' Harris said. "[PR director Gary] Sussman has my comment.

"It's all right," Harris said when pressed for the reasons behind his departure. "I don't want to get into what I said [in the statement], and what I said is the total story. It's all good."

All good?

Well, Del, as much as we've grown to respect and admire you over the years -- mostly because of your candor -- it's tough to believe the surface has even been scratched as to what the total true story is.

When he was brought aboard as an assistant following the firing of Lawrence Frank, Harris and the Nets gave no clue that his job would be quite so temporary, and his addition to the staff was touted as a move that would especially help the development of Chinese forward Yi Jianlian. Harris made Yi a starter at age 16 for the Chinese national team in 2004, when Harris coached China's Olympic team in Athens.

"I didn't know before; I just heard about it and I didn't talk to him yet," Yi said afterward in halting English.

Asked if he was sad, Yi replied: "A little bit. I like him."

That's the thing with Del -- most everybody likes him, or liked him, as the case now seems to be. The white-haired, 72-year-old basketball sage is as genial and gregarious as they come, which made his abrupt manner as he departed the building all the more out of character.

"You haven't interviewed me all year, why am I going to interview with you now?" Harris said, apparently unaware that a Nets team policy forbids assistant coaches from speaking to the media -- a rule Harris himself broke on his first day on the job when myself and others interviewed him about rejoining the NBA after he left as Vinny Del Negro's lead assistant in Chicago at the end of last season.

"I mean, I've been available all year," Harris continued, "but I left you a statement and it's fine. I enjoyed my time here, and there's no negative to this story. I know you guys are going to hate that, but there's no negative at all. It's all joy. It's time to go."

And with that, he was gone.

It was certainly a new level of loss for a team that has made losing an art form in so many different manners and ways this season. Assistant coach John Loyer is now expected to slide over into the lead assistant's role, and Vandeweghe must still find a way to try to squeeze six more victories out of this misfit outfit to avoid tying the record for the worst season in NBA history -- 9-73 by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers.

It appeared that the "strive for five" might be a successful one for the 4-43 Nets when Devin Harris delivered his 13th assist of the evening on a jumper by Kris Humphries with 2:25 left to put the Nets ahead 91-87. But the Pistons scored on their next three possessions, Harris shot an air ball from 3-point range (although it appeared Tayshaun Prince may have fouled him) with 7.4 seconds left and the Nets down three, and Rodney Stuckey wrapped up the victory from the free-throw line.

Loss No. 43 was in the books, but the Nets are still ahead of the pace set by those '72-73 Sixers, who were 4-58 before they won their fifth game.

Then again, those Sixers actually went on to win four of their next six after improving to 5-58 before losing their final 13.

On paper, this Nets team has the talent to avoid flirting with that dubious record. But Harris, Yi and others have missed extended stretches because of injuries, genuine hope was long ago abandoned, and the atmosphere was so dead Tuesday night -- the announced crowd was a season-low 9,417 -- that you couldn't blame Harris if he decided he didn't want to be associated with what has become the NBA's biggest basket case. Harris didn't say any such thing, but you couldn't help but ask yourself if that wasn't the real reason behind his abrupt departure.

After all, when Harris' parting words include "It's all joy," you can't help but be hyper-skeptical.

The Nets are sinking in the mud, and as every sports fan who's ever heard of Casey knows, there is never any joy in Mudville.

And there certainly wasn't any joy in Harris' voice as he stormed off, an unsettling departure that couldn't have been any more unfitting for a man who historically has been one of the league's class acts.

Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.

Dimes past: Jan. 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 22-23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29-30 | 31 | Feb. 1

2. Could Crittenton Still Be Traded?

By Chris Sheridan

The NBA players' union announced Tuesday afternoon that Javaris Crittenton will not be appealing his season-long suspension for his role in the now-infamous gun incident in the Washington Wizards' locker room.

One of the reasons he isn't fighting it: It wouldn't be worth the trouble -- and a long arbitration battle might actually prevent Crittenton from resuming his career overseas in a month or two if/when he's fully recovered from the left-foot surgery he underwent in November.

So for now, Crittenton will rehab on his own (he is not allowed to use the Wizards' facilities) and wait to see if the Wizards trade him before the Feb. 18 deadline.

That's right: trade him.

It's an option the Wizards have at their disposal.

I mentioned this in Monday's chat, and it bears repeating: There is no NBA rule prohibiting a team from trading a suspended player, meaning the Wizards could throw in Crittenton's expiring $1.48 million contract to make the salaries match in a trade involving any of their other players.

The acquiring team would then presumably waive Crittenton, and he would be free to ply his trade in Europe or elsewhere overseas after he cleared waivers. (Unlike drug suspensions, a conduct suspension cannot be used as grounds to prevent a player from getting the official letter of clearance needed to play in a FIBA-sanctioned league.)

To read the entire Sheridan blog entry, click here.

3. Daily Dime Live Recap

ESPN.com writers and TrueHoop Network bloggers chatted with fans and gave their in-game opinions throughout Tuesday's games -- all in Daily Dime Live.


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