1. Finley Heads List Of Buyout Free Agents
Michael Finley is a free agent yet again, and the short list -- we should probably call it a wish list -- for his next destination reads as follows: Lakers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Cavs, Celtics and Jazz.
Finley was a surprise buyout recipient when he was waived by the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, the last day for players to be waived while still retaining playoff eligibility if they sign with another team.
"The Spurs were very helpful to Michael on this, and Michael has nothing but good feelings for that franchise. It is just time for him to move on," said Finley's agent, Henry Thomas.
Along with the buyouts and waiver transactions surrounding the Feb. 18 trade deadline, it allows for a Top 10 list of in-season free agents.
So without further ado ...
1. Michael Finley: The 15-year veteran realized it was time for him to move on when he found himself out of the Spurs' rotation six games after he returned from a severe ankle sprain. His DNP-CD (did not play-coach's decision) on Feb. 7 at Indiana was the first of his career. "From his perspective, he wants to compete for a championship. And some of the top contenders have rosters on which he'd be a decent fit," Thomas said. Finley, who was owed about $600,000 by San Antonio, will clear waivers at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
2. Travis Diener: The would-be sharpshooter out of Marquette is reportedly headed to Portland, where the Blazers' 15th roster spot was supposedly earmarked for ex-King Kenny Thomas, according to Thomas' agent. Portland's front office appears more interested in an additional guard who can replace some of the 3-point acumen that left when Steve Blake was traded.
3. Larry Hughes: The ex-Knick who left New York in the Tracy McGrady deal was all set to sign with Charlotte after the Kings waived him, but the Bobcats got cold feet Monday when they learned they'd have to wait at least a week or two for Hughes' fractured finger to heal.
4. Mark Blount: The 7-footer had been sitting home all season after the Wolves asked him not to report to camp while his agent and the Wolves tried to find a deal for his expiring $7.97 million contract. He was waived without having to take a buyout, and as the saying goes: You can never have enough big men -- even if it involves signing someone with as checkered of an effort history as Blount's. The Nuggets are seeking size.
5. Mike James: He has been home in Houston since angrily leaving Washington after the Wizards failed to trade him at the deadline. Like 7-footers, veteran ballhandlers and playmakers make decent 14th or 15th men in case of postseason emergencies.
6. Wally Szczerbiak: He was eager to pick up some free easy money if the Cavs were able to swing a sign-and-trade using his Larry Bird rights before the deadline. Still recovering from knee surgery, he hasn't ruled out a comeback.
7. Kenny Thomas: Hard to believe the Kings never found a taker for his expiring $8.77 million contract, although they did try to acquire Nate Robinson a year ago for him. Thomas is Exhibit A for the owners' argument in labor talks that players who play and contribute are the ones who should collect the fattest paychecks.
8. Ricky Davis: OK, maybe it's a stretch filling out a top 10 list, but Ricky Buckets makes it (over Mikki Moore, who is recovering from Achilles surgery) only because there's a chance he won't last long with his newest team, Turk Telekom of the Turkish league.
9. Brian Cardinal: The Knicks waived him after dealing Darko Milicic to Minnesota to get him. Would be a cheap veteran addition to a young playoff team needing an experienced voice in the locker room and a hustle player in practice.
10. Zydrunas Ilgauskas: Why 10th, you ask? Because the entire NBA has come to the realization that there is a 99.9 percent chance he will re-sign in Cleveland, where his wife and two young children make their home.
ESPN Insider Chris Sheridan is a regular contributor to the Daily Dime
2. Matthews Proving Capable As Starter
LOS ANGELES -- There's Wesley Matthews, alone on the Jazz's side of the court an hour before tipoff, working with assistant coach Scott Layden.
The assistant often directs the warm-up regimen for a young player, but that's not the case with Matthews. The rookie guard is calling the shots. First, he'll take a bevy of 3-pointers, then a series of shots from the foul line. After that, Matthews moves over the right block. "Give me four," Matthews says. "Two with my right, then two with my left."
Layden feeds the ball to Matthews, who sinks four consecutive turnaround hook shots -- two with his right and two with his left, as advertised. Then, Matthews and Layden move over to the left side of the lane where the 23-year-old repeats his success. Matthews finishes with a few turnaround fadeaway jumpers from the post that have a higher degree of difficulty.
When the Jazz traded starting shooting guard Ronnie Brewer in February -- raising the ire of Deron Williams and other members of the Jazz roster -- Matthews was the primary beneficiary. Since Brewer was dealt, Matthews has started all seven games for the Jazz at the 2, averaging 10.3 points in 28.4 minutes with a field goal percentage of 47.5 percent.
To check out the entire 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 Monday's games -- all in Daily Dime Live.
4. Drew and Kidd, Turning Over History
On March 1, 1978, John Drew of Atlanta committed 14 turnovers in a game at New Jersey, an NBA record. Jason Kidd of the Phoenix Suns tied the record by committing 14 turnovers against New York on Nov. 17, 2000.
Kidd also had 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists that night. Not technically a quadruple-double, for those keeping track.
5. Extreme Behavior
Aaron Brooks, Rockets: Makes 11-of-18 from the field en route to 28 points, seven assists and five boards in a 116-92 win over the Chris Bosh-less Raptors. Houston stayed four games out of the final Western Conference playoff spot.
Kirk Hinrich, Bulls: Nights like these make the Lakers and Celtics glad they didn't deal for Kirk. Shoots 1-for-9 in a loss to the Hawks. His worst shooting of the season also came against Atlanta, when he was 0-for-9 on Dec. 9.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"It's leadership, or lack thereof. It's contagious where one guy's miserable and it's contagious throughout the team. Someone has to stand up and try and rally the troops, your teammates."
-- Sixers coach Eddie Jordan, taking veiled aim at Andre Iguodala after the Sixers' 126-105 home loss to Orlando
6. Hoops For St. Jude
7. NBA Video Channel
8. Upside Of Shaq Injury
Jeff (Colorado): How do you think Shaq will fill in for the Cavs come playoff time, will it be an easy transition or will the team struggle with him being absent for such a long period of time? Do you have any thoughts on if this will actually strengthen the Cavs while learning how to fill in for the big man? Sure hope Z ends up back in Cleveland!
Chris Sheridan: Shaq is basically there to be used against Dwight Howard and/or Kendrick Perkins in the postseason, and I think his absence will actually benefit the Cavs over the remainder of the regular season because they won't have to switch up their game when he's in there. They still have enough size until Z returns, especially with Leon Powe finally healthy. So I wouldn't worry too much about the Shaq factor if I was a Clevelander. Besides, Clevelanders already have enough to worry about. :)
To read the full chat transcript, click here.