SRN News

  1. In nearly 3 years on job, Phil Jackson hasn’t fixed Knicks

    NEW YORK (AP) — Carmelo Anthony had a half-season of clues about what Phil Jackson thought of him, and now it was his turn to evaluate his boss.

    Anthony had trumpeted his trust in Jackson when he re-signed in 2014 and reaffirmed it months later, even as Jackson continued trading away key players from the best team Anthony ever played on in New York.

    Reminded of that recently and asked if he still trusted Jackson, Anthony stopped well short.

    “I trust the process,” he said, mimicking Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers.

    The process isn’t going well for Jackson in New York.

    The Knicks are 23-34, 12th in the Eastern Conference and on pace to miss the playoffs for the third time in Jackson’s three full seasons as president of basketball operations. He’s made his relationship with Anthony worse and hasn’t made the Knicks better, and a guy who could do little wrong as a coach just can’t get it right as an executive.

    Maybe Jackson can swing a trade to fix things before Thursday’s deadline.

    Or maybe he’ll just never fix the Knicks.

    If Jackson is planning anything, it remains a mystery. He hasn’t spoken to reporters covering the Knicks since his preseason press conference in September — backtracking from his vow to be accessible when he took the job — and isn’t expected to before the deadline. He has made only three postings on Twitter all season.

    Yet he’s still made plenty of noise.

    He angered LeBron James by referring to his friends and business partners as a “posse” in an ESPN story. And he upset some of the league’s other power players with his actions toward Anthony — which could prove damaging when trying to lure free agents. Jackson has either appeared to endorse or refused to distance himself from articles criticizing his best player and has largely cut off communication between them — after saying when he was hired that he planned to focus on “how players are treated” and “the kind of culture that’s built.”

    Hall of Fame finalist Tracy McGrady told reporters this weekend he couldn’t remain quiet the way Anthony has.

    “I’m not going to let you disrespect (me) in the public’s eye like that,” McGrady said. “You’re not going to be sending subliminal messages about me like that and I don’t respond to that. I don’t operate like that. I’m just not going to do it. And then you hide and don’t do any media? You leave everything for me to talk about? Nah, that’s not cool.”

    Jackson retains the support of Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan, who said in a recent ESPN Radio interview that he would not fire Jackson during the two-plus years that remain on his contract. (Both sides have an option to terminate the deal after this season).

    Dolan didn’t even express much disappointment in the results, even though the Knicks had their worst season ever in Jackson’s first season and are 72-149 since the start of 2014-15.

    “He was the best guy we thought we could find to run the New York Knicks,” Dolan said.

    Maybe if he’d been hiring Jackson to coach, as Jackson’s 11 championships are a record for coaches. But there were questions about how he would do as an executive with no experience, and the answers haven’t been good.

    He fired Mike Woodson and replaced him with first-time coach Derek Fisher, who lasted just 1 1/2 years. Starters Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton were traded in one deal, and J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert went in another early the next season. They were all mainstays on the Knicks team that won 54 games and reached the second round of the playoffs not even two years before Jackson was hired in March 2014.

    Now all that’s left is Anthony, and it certainly seems Jackson wants him gone, too. He would have to find a workable deal, hard enough given the 32-year-old Anthony’s salary and age, then get him to waive the no-trade clause he gave Anthony when he re-signed him.

    If not, maybe Jackson himself would leave this summer — though Dolan said he had no indication that was the 71-year-old Jackson’s plan. But he insists he can’t coach for health reasons and doesn’t appear to enjoy scouting and dealing with agents, essential parts of his job.

    He must be disheartened that the work he put into this team hasn’t paid off. Jackson hired Jeff Hornacek to open up the offense after two years of his favored triangle, traded for Derrick Rose, and signed free agents Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings. None has sparked a turnaround, and drafting Kristaps Porzingis remains Jackson’s only inarguable success.

    Jackson played on the last championship Knicks team in 1973 and said when he was hired what it would mean to build another winner here.

    “It would be a capstone on the remarkable career that I’ve had,” Jackson said.

    There’s still time for that.

    But these days, Anthony probably isn’t the only one who no longer trusts in Jackson.


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  2. Turkey detains 35 IS suspects in Istanbul raids

    ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s state-run news agency says anti-terrorism police in Istanbul have detained 35 people suspected of links to the Islamic State group.

    Anadolu Agency says Wednesday the suspects were taken into custody following simultaneous raids on 41 homes in two low-income Istanbul neighborhoods.

    There was no information on the suspects or their nationalities.

    Last year, Turkey suffered a series of deadly attacks carried out by IS or Kurdish militants and has stepped up anti-terrorism operations across the country. Some 750 people with alleged IS links were detained in a major police sweep in 29 Turkish provinces earlier this month.

    IS claimed responsibility for a New Year’s mass shooting at an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people.


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  3. NHL teams expected to pick up trading pace over next week

    DETROIT (AP) — Brendan Smith was planning to spend his bye week in Florida, trying to relax. It might be tough for him to truly get away.

    The Detroit Red Wings defenseman, potentially an unrestricted free agent this summer, acknowledged he planned to keep an eye on Twitter because he may be a player the franchise moves this week ahead of the March 1 NHL trade deadline.

    “If something happens, my agent will let me know or I’ll see it on social media,” Smith said Tuesday. “You guys are pretty quick on it.”

    Trades have been made at a slow trickle in recent days and weeks because a vast majority of teams in the league are at least in contention for a spot in the playoffs and they don’t want to give up too soon. Clearly, buyers outnumber sellers, and salary-cap constraints make it tough for many teams to make moves.

    “These next seven days are going to be crucial with what you’re looking at,” New York Islanders interim coach Doug Weight said. “And I think a lot of teams are going to sway one way or another with the next six or seven points that are available. I think it’ll be a late, active trade deadline because of the situation.”

    Detroit general manager Ken Holland is expected to explore joining the minority, trying to deal at least one of his players with expiring contracts for draft picks because the franchise’s postseason streak seems to be destined to stop at 25.

    The 28-year-old Smith, a feisty player, might be available if a team is willing to give up a third-round pick as Calgary did to acquire a comparable player, defenseman Mike Stone, from Arizona on Monday. Thomas Vanek, a 33-year-old winger, has 15 goals and 23 assists this season and is 5 for 5 on shootouts, possibly making him attractive to a team that hasn’t fared well after overtimes, like Washington. The Red Wings, though, may want to re-sign him and would likely balk at late-round offers for a player who has been a pleasant surprise.

    Here’s a look at some other players, and teams, to watch over the next week:

    KEVIN SHATTENKIRK: The St. Louis Blues are in a solid position to make the playoffs, but they seem to be willing to trade the high-scoring 28-year-old defenseman instead of risking losing him in free agency.

    MATT DUCHENE: Colorado, easily the team with the fewest points in the league, is looking to rebuild and hopes to shed two players and their contracts along with one that will be a free agent this summer. Duchene, a 26-year-old center, and Gabriel Landeskog, a 24-year-old wing, each have at least two-plus years remaining on their deals and that might make them difficult to trade. Jarome Iginla, a 39-year-old wing, is easier to trade because teams will basically be renting him for the rest of the regular season.

    PATRICK EAVES: The 32-year-old wing is in demand. He’s having the best year of his career, making just $1 million this season. And, he’s available because Dallas likely won’t make the playoffs. The Stars are also willing to deal 35-year-old winger Patrick Sharp, 35-year-old defenseman Johnny Oduya and 30-year-old Lauri Korpikoski.

    BEN BISHOP: After losing in the Eastern Conference and Stanley Cup finals the last two years, Tampa Bay has struggled this season. Instead of losing games and assets, the Lightning are listening to offers for their 30-year-old goaltender and 32-year-old center Brian Boyle with expiring contracts.

    Here are some other things of note around the NHL:

    BYE BLUES

    Teams are 4-12-4 in their first game coming off a five-day bye “week,” and there is talk around the league that there may be changes to the format next season. The league may have teams coming off the bye play each other, cutting down on the advantage a team in a rhythm has against a rusty one.

    GAME OF THE WEEK

    The defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins will host the rival Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night at Heinz Field as part of the NHL Stadium Series. Pittsburgh is trying to keep pace with the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals while the Flyers are in a logjam of teams trying to earn one of the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference with 20-plus games remaining in the regular season.

    ___

    Follow AP Hockey Writer Larry Lage at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage


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  4. Ex-Hong Kong leader jailed in fall from “such a height”

    By Venus Wu

    HONG KONG (Reuters) – Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang was jailed for 20 months on Wednesday for misconduct in public office, making him the most senior city official to serve time behind bars in a ruling some said reaffirmed the financial hub’s vaunted rule of law.

    The sentence brings an ignominious end to what had been a long and stellar career for Tsang before and after the 1997 handover to Chinese control, service that saw him knighted by the outgoing British colonial rulers.

    “Never in my judicial career have I seen a man falling from such a height,” said High Court justice Andrew Chan in passing sentence.

    Tsang, 72, wearing one of his trademark bow ties, was escorted in handcuffs to the court from hospital where he’d been staying since Monday night after experiencing breathing difficulties and chest pains.

    The devout Catholic appeared stoic, occasionally closing his eyes as the judge spoke.

    Scores of establishment Hong Kong figures, including top former officials and some leading opposition democrats, had written letters vouching for Tsang’s good character and longstanding public service in a bid for mitigation.

    Justice Chan said the seriousness of the offence lay in Tsang’s high position as a person of integrity who had breached public trust.

    He reduced the sentence by 10 months, saying “it was indisputable that the defendant has dedicated himself to public service in the past 40-odd years”.

    Hong Kong returned to China under a “one country, two systems” agreement that ensures its freedoms, including a separate legal system. Its spartan British-built prisons demand strict routines, including light work duties, and offer no special treatment to wealthy or powerful inmates.

    The nine-person jury on Friday found Tsang guilty of a charge of misconduct in public office. He had deliberately concealed private rental negotiations with property tycoon Bill Wong Cho-bau while his cabinet discussed and approved a digital broadcasting license for a now defunct radio company, Wave Media, in which Wong was a major shareholder.

    This offence had occurred at the twilight of Tsang’s career, just before retiring in 2012, when reports began surfacing of Tsang’s lavish spending on overseas duty visits, along with allegations of trips with tycoons by private jet and luxury yacht.

    Tsang was acquitted of a second misconduct charge.

    In a regular column published in the AM730 newspaper before sentence was passed, Tsang said working in the government for 45 years was the “biggest honor of his life”.

    “In life, a lot of things are out of our control. But serving Hong Kong was my choice. No matter what the result of the trial is, I have no regrets.”

    His conviction adds to a number of scandals ensnaring powerful officials that have marred the city’s reputation as a relatively corruption-free society guarded by a powerful and independent anti-graft agency.

    His right-hand man, Rafael Hui, who worked under him for two years as the city’s second highest-ranking official, was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail in late 2014 for receiving bribes from a billionaire tycoon helming Sun Hung Kai <0016.HK>, one of Asia’s largest property developers.

    After sentencing, Tsang’s wife, Selina, said it was a “very dark day” but that her husband would appeal.

    “We are very sad about today’s outcome. But we will face it with strength and courage. We will appeal.”

    Tsang’s brother, Tsang Yam-pui, a former chief of police and current head of property developer NWS Holdings <0659.HK>, didn’t comment after leaving court.

    Former Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung praised the man who appointed him for helping uphold the rule of law and pushing democratic reforms despite the risks of antagonizing Beijing, according to a letter published by the South China Morning Post.

    The head of Hong Kong’s de facto central bank, Norman Chan, said the city wouldn’t have been able to “survive the Asian financial crisis without Donald’s contributions”, referring to Tsang’s decision as Financial Secretary in 1998 to intervene in the stock and futures market to fight off speculative attacks on Hong Kong’s currency.

    Tsang’s legal woes look set to continue, however, with the court saying a retrial would be tentatively set for September for another bribery charge on which jurors failed to return a majority verdict.

    (Editing by James Pomfret and Nick Macfie)


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  5. Asian stocks drift higher as investors await Fed minutes

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed with subdued movements on Wednesday, getting little push from Wall Street’s record high overnight, as investors awaited the Fed’s latest meeting minutes due later in the day for clues about the U.S. central bank’s views on interest rates.

    KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 was flat at 19,379.87, while South Korea’s Kospi added 0.2 percent to 2,106.61. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 0.8 percent to 24,163.10 and the Shanghai Composite Index inched up 0.1 percent to 3,257.46. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent to 5,805.10. Stocks in Southeast Asia were mixed.

    ANALYST’S TAKE: “Given the dearth of data release, FOMC minutes ought to be the main focus for markets that have a penchant for line-by-line dissection and decryption,” Mizuho Bank said in a daily commentary, referring to the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee. Last week, Fed chief Janet Yellen indicated the Fed is likely to speed up the pace of interest rate rises if the job market remains healthy and inflation stays on track.

    WALL STREET: Wall Street again broke records Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 118.95 points, or 0.6 percent, to 20,743. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 14.22 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,365.38. The Nasdaq composite gained 27.37 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,865.95. All three indexes are at record highs after rising nine times in the last 10 days. U.S. markets were closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.

    OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 18 cents to $54.51 per barrel in New York. The contract rose 55 cents to close at $54.33 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 23 cents to $56.99 a barrel in London.

    CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 113.53 yen from 113.57 yen. The euro fell to $1.0521 from $1.0546.


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