Sunday, February 27, 2011

Not so Instant Trade Analysis: Nerd trades

I call these "nerd trades" because quite frankly, if you care about this, you are a basketball nerd. There is no way around it. Read on, Urkels.

Memphis Gets: Shane Battier, Ishmael Smith

Houston Gets: Hasheem Thabeet, Demarre Carrol, 2011 1st rounder

Hasheem Thabeet. Wow. 2nd overall pick 2 seasons ago and now Memphis used a first round pick to get him off their payroll and to get Battier? Just so they can guarantee a playoff spot and a 4-game sweep? Ishmael Smith is actually a useful backup guard, but certainly not for the price of a first round pick, let alone a 7-3 center with raw skills.

I don't think Thabeet will turn into much, regardless of the trade. Definitely worth the flier, especially considering that they were not making the playoffs. Chris Wallace, please stand up! You essentially turned two first round picks into Shane Battier! Sweet! Good god.

(and if the OJ Mayo trade had gone through, he would have traded a no. 2 pick, a no. 5 pick and a no. 15-20 pick into Josh McRoberts, the Pacers' no. 15-20 pick and Shane Battier. Wow. I hope he gives Zach Randolph 70 mil this summer. Kill yourself Chris Wallace)

Boston Gets: Cavaliers' 2nd round pick

Cleveland Gets: Semih Erden, Luke Harangody

In the light of the Kendrick Perkins trade, I really REALLY don't get that trade. Luke Harangody is garbage. The guy shouldn't be in the league, the D-League or the Maccabi League. He's absolutely terrible and has a terrible haircut.

Erden is young and might turn out to be something someday - so why would you trade this guy if you just traded Perkins and have an injury prone Shaquille and Jermaine? It just doesn't make any sense. Danny Ainge must have been hitting the pipe on Thursday.

Charlotte Gets: Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham, Sean Marks, two first-round draft picks and cash

Portland Gets: Gerald Wallace

Overall, a great move for Portland. Wallace is a great great player, especially if he's the third option on your team. He plays excellent defense and hits the boards because his braids might be too tight and he think he's Charles Barkely. However, after giving up Przybilla, Cunningham and Marks, who's gonna back-up Camby and Aldrige? They essentially have no depth behind their starters, which is something to be concerned about. But thank God Greg Oden is returning soon, because they could really use his defensive toughness in the front.....womp womp. And the tears flow from Oregon.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Not so Instant Trade Analysis: Perkins to the OKC Thunder

Boston Gets: Nenad Krstic, Jeff Green and a 2012 first rounder (from the Clippers)

OKC Gets: Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson

Wow. I was absolutely blown away when I heard about this trade. My instant reaction was being elated - I couldn't believe that Boston gave away a key piece that led to two of their Finals runs in 3 years (including a 2008 title) the guy who haunts Andrew Bynum's dreams and has regularly punked around the Lakers bigs and Dwight Howard over the past few seasons. But as a couple days have passed, I've gotten some perspective on this one.

I think that the Thunder win this trade, on multiple fronts. They got the enforcer they needed - notice I didn't say "the big they needed"; I meant the enforcer. The reason the Thunder haven't been able to get over "the hump" and become contenders for the Western Conference crown, is that they simply couldn't bang with the Lakers or the Spurs. Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, Nenad Krstic - fine players all, who aren't afraid to play defense or take a shot in the post. But no one was scared of those guys. Sure Nick Collison is a tough dude and Serge Ibaka came from the motherfucking Congo ("Hey man, where are you from?" "Oh I'm from Fort Collins. It's a little town outside of Denver. It's got some sweet breweries and the cutest little sweet shop by the King Soopers" - that's not scary. "Hey man, where are you from?" "Oh, I'm from the MOTHERFUCKING CONGO" - that's scary), but those guys weren't going to mess you up. You could push them around, get shots on them and generally take over a game. But with Perkins? That's not happening. OKC is tougher on the block, and no one is going to be running over them anymore. Perkins isn't an all-star, he's not a 15 ppg guy, but he's certainly a guy that's going to shut down your best big come hell or high water. You could win a title with him at the 5. Which has happened. But not when I talk about that. Because that game made me cry for the first time in 3 years.

I keep on hearing that this makes them contenders in the West now. And I have to agree. You have to put them in the conversation with the Lakers, the Mavs and the Spurs. But I'm not sure this makes them better. I'll get to that in a bit.

I'm not sure where Nate Robinson fits in with this OKC team - they already have James Harden and Maynor off the bench, along with Thabo Sefolosha and Westbrook. All four of those guys are better defenders than Nasty Nate. He can put up points on a streak, but he can't defend anyone and I'm not sure they need another guy putting up points out there.

On Boston's end - I still don't get it, mostly for the following reason: As Kenny the Jet said on TNT on Thursday, when the Celtics traded away Perkins, they traded away the thing that gave them one of the biggest edges in the league, the psychological edge. Whenever you stepped on the court with the Celtics, you saw Perk and Garnett standing side to side. KG would be slapping himself in the head or eating a fetus or whatever, and Perk would be there with his scowl (I just googled "Kendrick Perkins smiling". The results are hilarious. One is his NBA profile picture he took 3 seasons ago, another is at his wedding and another is a pic of him as a child. That's all that you can find. I heard when his first kid was born, he clapped, that's it). You knew even before the game that when you were going to play the Celtics, no matter what the outcome, you were gonna get your ass beat. It was going to be a rough game and your 4 and 5 positions were going to have a tough night. Without Perkins, the C's have lost a lot of their psychological advantage. Sure KG is the most intense, and Pierce is the most outwardly cocky, but Perkins was the most intimidating. He was so physically tough, handling guys like Dwight, Rasheed, Bynum and Gasol with single coverage. He never backed down from a fight and always has that scowl and furrowed brow (Seriously, he's so damn scary. I actually don't know that and can't really imagine he's ever had sex. Consensually, anyway). True story - I didn't know he was only 6'10" until last year. He always played so tough that I never noticed his size. It never seemed to handicap him.

Sure, they needed a small forward to spell Pierce. They were depending on Marquis Daniels and Von Wafer to provide real minutes for a title contender, which would be fine for the D-League, but not the real NBA. Green is a fine fine player, 24 years old, and has a lot of potential considering he was the playing out of position as a 3rd option on a team where Durant and Westbrook were taking 37 shots a game. He could be much better than any of us think - I think a lot of opinions on this trade have to be reserved until we see just how good Jeff Green is.

For the Celtics to make this trade, it had to be more than this though - and I surmise it's because Perkins is much more hurt than any of us know. The Celtics saw him in practice, saw him go through the motions of the week and how it limited him not just for 48 minutes, but for every minute of every day. In giving up Perkins, they gave up a lot - not just talent on the court, but chemistry for a perenially dangerous title contender with a limited window. And that's the most surprising part of this trade. Doc has gone on and on about how this team's starting five has never been defeated, and then they traded the guy who started that quote away? If this trade is planning for the future, that's the dumbest part about it. There is no future for this team. The window is closing and the time is now.

One more note - while I fully believe that GM Danny Ainge made his team worse with this trade, he put Perkins on a team that with him, could potentially stop the Lakers in the West. If Kendrick's absence is the most glaring hole if the C's were to play the Lakers in the Finals, why not help another team eliminate them so you don't have to deal with that? Berry berry sneaky Mr. Ainge.

Overall, the Thunder win this one, by a lot. God help me if I hear that quote again from Doc though.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Instant Trade Analysis: Baron to the Cavaliers

Cleveland Gets: Baron Davis, Clips 2011 1st rounder

LAC Gets: Jamario Moon, Mo Williams

Wow. You think these two things have anything to do with one another? - Donald Sterling Heckling Baron Davis. Hmmm. Donald Sterling not being behind his players. Interesting.

Baron is owed $28 million for the next two seasons, and a prorated portion of $13 million this season. Mo has two $8.5 mil player options the next two seasons, so (I can't imagine he turns down $17 million dollars - they're not having hour long specials on where Mo Williams will decide to play next season) and Jamario is expiring in a few months. The pick that the Clips will have this season will be in the lottery, anywhere from 1 to 10.

I don't see this as a win for either side, really. Yes, Cleveland gets a lottery pick this year (in a not-so-great draft, but whatever - they get a top-10 pick in an NBA draft to go along with their presumed top-3 pick), but they also get Baron Davis, who signed a big contract to come home to LA who will now pack up his bags to play for the worst team in the league in Ohio. This may work out, because Baron gets super-motivated when the odds are against him and he has to drag a team of stiffs to be at least a competitive team...oh wait, I was thinking of ANY OTHER PLAYER IN THE GAME BESIDES BARON DAVIS.

How could Cleveland possibly think this will work? Baron is barely motivated playing at home with one of the best, most exciting players in the league. What makes them think he's gonna get fired up throwing missed alley-oops to Ryan Hollins and watching Anthony Parker miss from distance after a pretty pass? Baron has pouted in almost every situation he's ever been in - and now he's playing for the worst team in the league with a coach that he famously clashed with in New Orleans (which subsequently got him shipped out to Golden State for Speed Claxton, amongst others. Yeah, for real. Speedy Claxton). This has "disaster" written all over it. I wouldn't be surprised if Baron did something crazy like ask for a $3.00 buyout just so he could get out of there. Or retire. Seriously. I wouldn't be surprised.

On the Clippers side, they got out of Baron's contract (saving about $10 million - hmmm, Donald Sterling cutting costs. Not getting along with his players and making trades that help no one. Interesting....I feel like I'm Bill Murray in Puxatawney, PA). However, he was just starting to get into a rhythm with Blake and if you they even went .500 during their 1-13 start, they'd be a borderline playoff team. Mo Williams is a fine player, but he's not someone you want running your offense (I suppose this means they are turning over the team to Eric Bledsoe, who is more of a true point). However, as I mentioned, they're giving up a top-10 pick. I mostly think this was a mistake because of the principle alone of trading a potentially high lottery pick just to save money essentially (hmmm - Donald Sterling cutting costs. Interesting). On the flip side, the Clippers would probably blow the pick anyway, so I suppose the pick loses value right there.

Jamario Moon has a fun name, and that's about all I have to say about him.

Overall, I guess Cleveland wins, kind of. They used their trade exception from some guy who left in July, gave away a decent player for a guy who might never play for them (even if he plays a game, you're gonna someone who looks like Baron Davis, except this guy will be angry, disinterested, sad, and a little confused all at the same time - think Anthony Randolph minus having watched the Human Centipede 3 times. Maybe only once) and thus essentially paid $28 million for a first round pick in a mediocre draft.

On a sidenote, totally despicable move by Sterling. Baron has not lived up to his contract, sure, but again, he was just starting to get some traction with this team. Next year, with another body, someone through free agency, and a burgeoning Eric Gordon/Griffin/DeAndre core, they could have made a playoff push, or at the very least, been a super fun team to watch. But instead, they shipped him off to the worst possible environment (seriously, think about that - a team with zero upside right now, 2,500 miles away from home - where he was playing - with a historically bad record and a coach he doesn't get along with). Such disrespect for a Los Angeles legend. I hope Baron averages 40 against the Clippers for the rest of his career.

Instant Trade Analysis: Deron Williams to the NJ Nets

NJN Gets: Deron Williams

Utah Gets: Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, NJN 2011 first rounder (non-lottery protected), GS 2011 first rounder (partially protected) and cash considerations

Much like the Knicks deal for Carmelo Anthony, you have to look at this deal in ths light: will the guys that NJ gave up ever be as good as Deron Williams be right now? In other words, will four unknown assets ever be as good as the known asset?

Unfortunately for this trade, it's all complicated by Deron's contract situation. Unlike Melo, Williams has not signed a contract extension. So, if he wants to walk, he can opt out of $17 million in 2012. In essence, everything that the Nets gave up could be for nothing in 2012.

The Nets had to do this trade. Their best player was Devin Harris, who has most likely hit his ceiling. The second best player on the team was probably Brook "The Punisher" Lopez, who rebounds less than Landry "The Punisher" Fields - a guard. The third best player on this team is questionably Jordan Farmar (who also questionably has the worst tattoos on the team, though Devin Harris is giving him a strong run) or Kris Humphries - which, in either case, is a really really bad situation. They are planning a move to Brooklyn after next season, and they certainly weren't gonna sell tickets with Travis Outlaw not hitting threes, Derrick Favors maybe being productive and Quinton Ross somehow still having a job in this league.

Deron Williams is the best point in the league. I think he would have more of an impact on the Knicks than Carmelo will have, had he gone there instead. That all being said, this trade is only a win if they can convince him to stay. If Prokorhov works his Russian magic (which probably involves a cattle prod, Deron's family, sunny D and vodka.....lots of vodka) and Deron stays, then the Nets win this deal, hands down. He took a Utah team with Memhet Okur and Carlos Boozer to the Western Conference Finals. What says he couldn't do that with Lopez and another free agent (maybe David West?).

As for the guys he gave up, Devin Harris is who he is - a good scoring guard with some passing ability. The pick they gave up will be in the top-10, which would normally be a bad thing, but might not hurt them as much as it could considering this should be a terrible draft. The consideration that really could end up hurting the Nets is Derrick Favors, who could be an all-star PF in three seasons.

Overall, I love this trade for the Nets. They had to do it.

As a sidenote, tickets for the Suns/Nets game on Monday were $2 yesterday and after a 250% markup...are now $5. I love the Nets.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Total Mindblow: Longest-Tenured Knicks in 2011

With almost the entire Knicks roster overturned in the past 48 hours, the 5 longest tenured New York Knickerbockers in terms of games with the franchise are now:

Renaldo Balkman: 133 games (none since 2008, his first tenure with the team)
Toney Douglas: 109 games (2nd full season with the team)
Bill Walker: 69 games (1st full season with the team)
Landry Fields: 54 games
Amar'e Stoudemire: 53 games

Total mindblow.

Instant Trade Analysis: Carmelo to the Knicks

Denver Gets:NYK: Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov and the Knicks' 2014 first-round draft pick, 2 second-round draft picks (from the Golden State Warriors - from the David Lee trade)

New York Gets:Denver: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo BalkMANIA
Minnesota: Corey Brewer

Minnesota Gets:NYK: Eddy Curry's fat ass...I meant, expiring contract, Anthony Randolph, 3 million bucks to take said Eddy Curry's fat ass...I meant, expiring contract.

With all the talk about Carmelo all year long, remember this: Carmelo is a top-15 player in the league, top-10 when he's motivated (see: 2009 Western Conference Finals). He's a 25 ppg scorer without question, a guaranteed double-team and a money making machine (for himself and for the team). He's a guy you can ride to the playoffs, maybe, MAYBE even a championship. So why the skeptics? When you have a chance to get a guy like this, how could anyone think of this as anything but a win for the Bockers?

New York gave up a lot for Carmelo, there's no doubt about that. They essentially gutted their team to get the guy. Gallinari is a former first round pick with comparison's to Dirk Nowitzki. Mozgov is a very young 7-footer that has shown flashes of talent this season in limited playing time. Felton was a borderline all-star, Chandler is having a career year and Randolph (to use baseball terms) is a "5-tool guy". But.

What did New York reaaaally give up for Carmelo? I know what Wilson Chandler is. This is the best he's going to be and hopefully the worst his hair is going to look. Raymond Felton is a fine player, but like Chandler, I think this is the best he is ever going to be. I think Anthony Randolph could be an impact player, but when he's on the court, he looks absolutely devastated - like he's been made to watch "The Human Centipede" a few times in a row. The guy's confidence is gone and shipping him out for anything was the only option. The first rounder that the Knicks gave up were likely to be in the low twenties.

The two questionable moves were dealing Gallo and Mozgov. Gallinari has brought out so many different spectrums of emotion from my Knicks-following cohorts - joy, hope, anger, frustration, confusion...but mostly anger, frustration and confusion. Some nights, he can look like a poor man's Dirk (maybe even destitute, herpes ridden Dirk). But some nights he can look like another soft Euro with no balls an an errant jump shot (for an example of both, please see the last Heat-Knicks game - he was the latter in the first half and hobo Italian Dirk in the second half). Mozgov's potential looks like it could be high, but any type of projections made about this guy is from such a small sample size.

So to recap, what did the Knicks give up? Two guys that were pretty good in their career years, a guy who looked like he watched "The Human Centipede", hobo Dirk (one day, maybe) and a young, big Russian dude.

But the question is really, is will Gallo or Mozgov ever make as much of a difference on the Knicks as Carmelo will? Will their impact on court ever individually equal Carmelo's, which we can quantifiably measure as a known asset? Will both of them combined ever be able to match up to Carmelo's impact? My answer is no. Gallo would have to turn into a borderline or true all-star and Mozgov a dominant defensive force (think Tyson Chandler or Andrew Bogut) for that to come true.

Also, don't forget, the Knicks got Chauncey Billups, who isn't too shabby himself. He's a gamer, and while he couldn't defend me on the court (that's obviously not true), he's still an able body that can produce.

Overall, the Knicks did give up a lot, but nothing they can't replace for something that they couldn't get otherwise. Good work Donnie.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Kobe vs.....

Kobe takes pride in staying power

Pretty intersting article by former LA Times great, JA Adande. It makes note of Kobe's elder statestmen status, and how despite his age, he's still considered one of the greats in the league - no more apparent than when he dominated the game/ball in yet another All-Star game, flanked by his great contemporaries.

Adande breezed over a section where Kobe has weathered the storm of the "Who's better conversations?" of Kobe/McGrady, Kobe/Iverson, graduating to Kobe/Wade, Kobe/LeBron.

I found this to be the most thought provoking - Kobe came into the league with comparisons to his fellow scoring guards - Iverson, Ray Allen. He then moved on to being compared to a newer crop of guys. Vince Carter. Tracy McGrady. Steve Francis. Those players came and went, followed by the class of 2003 - Carmelo, LeBron and Dwyane. And now it's Durant and Rose.

Think about that - Kobe has been questioned at every phase in his career whether he was the best of his time. Against two guys now playing overseas (Francis and Iverson), 2 guys that are afterthoughts in the league (Vince and Tracy), the young veterans (draft class of 2003) and now a couple of guys that aren't even allowed to rent a car yet. I think this is one of Kobe's forgotten accolades - his longevity of greatness.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

And thus Albert Pujols will be a free agent this winter

Wow. According to Jason Stark, the St. Louis Cardinals will not reach and agreement with Albert Pujols. This comes despite an outcry from St. Louis fans (even people that aren't Cards fans, like myself) to sign this man who is the face of the franchise and one of, but more likely the best player in the game.

Stark reports that the Cardinals were not willing to extend Pujols the 10-year deal he asked for, nor the yearly salary of such a contract. Pujols was asking to be tendered a contract that would play him like the best player in the game. However, the Cardinals decided that they couldn't pay him the biggest salary in the majors - in fact, they were offering him a deal that wouldn't even pay him in the top 5!

Burn St. Louis to the ground. I've already gone over this. This situation is absolutely ridiculous. I can't wait until he signs a massive deal in December with the Yankees, the Angels, the Nationals (since obviously the Dodgers are not in on him - that's ridiculous. Don't be ridiculous. If we've learned anything by reading this blog, it's "don't be ridiculous"), or, as a big, giant "EFF YOU" to the St. Louis Cardinals organization and John Mozeliak, with the Cubs.

Do it Albert - forget St. Louis. They don't respect you, or your accomplishments. This much is obvious. Go forth brah.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Total Mindblow: The Charlotte Bobcats are better than the Los Angeles Lakers

How about this for a statistical mindblow - No, I'm not talking about tonight's loss. The Lakers have lost 8 out of the last 10 meetings to the Bobcats. All-time, which only amounts to 7 seasons, the Lakers are 5-8 against the Bobcats. In their illustrious 60-plus years in the National Basketball Association, the Lakers are under .500 against two teams - their hated rivals from Boston...and the Charlotte Bobcats. Yes. Not the Philadelphia 76ers, a perenial Finals opponent over the years. Not the San Antonio Spurs, owners of 4 of the last 11 titles. Not the Pistons, the Rockets or the Suns, three teams that combine for 5 titles and twice as many Finals appearances. The Charlotte Bobcats. I have to stop saying "Charlotte" and "Bobcats". My head hurts. Happy Valentine's day.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

LA Lakers @ NY Knicks, 2/12/2011

2 NBA games, 2 cities, 2 days. This is as close to being a NBA beat writer as I will possibly get in my life. Thoughts on Friday night's game, a 113-96 Lakers W:

- Despite the setback in Orlando today, the Lakers are playing as good of basketball right now as they have the entire season. They've beaten 4 teams over .500 in the first 5 games of this 7-game roadtrip, and held all 5 teams under 100 points.

- Steve Blake's alley oop to Shannon Brown were absolutely unreal. In the words of my friend and Knicks fan/sympathizer (because at this point, aren't Knicks fans more sympathizers than anything else?) BockerKnocker, "Steve Blake and Shannon Brown are hurting my feelings right now."

- Kobe has a lifetime 30.3 ppg average in the Garden, and last night did not dissapoint. He dropped 19 in the first quarter almost effortlessly....though he merely had Danilo Gallinari and Landry "The Punisher" Fields on him for most of the quarter. Hardly First-Team All-NBA defense right there.

Also, a lot of being said of Amar'e's (doesn't that look so strange in writing with the apostrophes everywhere?) "MVP" caliber season. I've watched a ton of Knicks games this year, and there's not doubt that he's the best player in a blue and orange every night, and the leader of the team. Along with Coach D'Antoni, Stoudemire has been the galvinizing force behind a team that has played miserably for the past 6 years and now is in playoff contention. This is all apparent to me. But after watching him play in person on Friday, what I saw was pretty similar to the player that I had seen for so many years in Phoenix. I think his season is being completely overblown.

The guy is having a fantastic season, statistical or otherwise. But looking at his numbers, he's playing on par with his best years in Phoenix:

04-05: 80 games, 36.1 MPG, .559 FG%, .733 FT%, 1.60 BPG, 2.4 TO, 8.9 RPG, 1.6 APG, 26.0 PPG

07-08: 79 games 33.9 MPG, .590 FG%, .805 FT%, 2.10 BPG, 2.2 TO, 9.1 RPG, 1.5 APG, 25.2 PPG

10-11: 52 games, 36.9 MPG, .507 FG%, .787 FT%, 2.20 BPG, 3.4 TO, 8.6, RPG, 2.7 APG, 26.2 PPG

Basically, his minutes and points are up, but he's not shooting at quite the same clip and he's turning over the ball a bit more. Overall, he's having a year akin to his 04-05 and 07-08 seasons when he finished 9th and 6th in MVP voting, for teams that finished with 62 and 55 wins, respectively (Granted, Steve Nash was the best and most important player on that team, which I'm sure took away MVP votes from Amar'e).

When I'm watching a so-called "dominant" MVP-caliber player, I'm always looking for him to take over games, on a consistent basis at that. I fully expect that everytime I see Kobe or Carmelo or LeBron or Wade or Dwight take the floor, that at no point will I forget that they're out there. Win or loss, when I leave the game, I'll remember that that guy was playing, and that the team won or lost because of his performance. With Amar'e, I didn't get that feeling. At times, I forgot he was on the floor. He's got a great offensive skill set, but most of his moves are isolation plays at the elbow or top of the key. It's not like he had a bad game - the guy shot 9-20 and ended up with 24 points and 10 boards. But it was just a pretty forgetable performance. But that's the feeling I get from most of his games - he's the best player on that team, no doubt, but utlimately, I feel that he doesn't leave that same indeliable mark on the game that Kobe, LeBron, Carmelo, et al leave on their games. I think his MVP candidacy is being made simply on the premise that he's brought the Knicks back to any type of prominence, rather than the outhouse they've been in the past few years.
Stop blowing this guy up as a MVP candidate New York. He's resuscitated the corpse of an Isaiah-mutilated franchise. Let that be enough.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dallas @ Denver, 2/10/2011

I was lucky enough to attend the Mavs vs. Nuggets game last night at Pepsi Center in Denver. A couple of notes from the game:
  • Great game from Arron Afflalo. He was on fire in the fourth and really picked up the slack from a non-existent JR Smith and when Dallas locked down on Chauncey. He got a wide-open jumper when Marion thought he was going to put up that J behind the line. Excellent move by Afflalo.
  • Birdman is just overwhelming to see in person. Is that comment positive or negative? You be the judge.
  • Nene is one of the most underrated players in the league. He reminds a lot of Pau Gasol in a lot of ways; a bevy of moves in the post, not afraid to play back to the basket, can play face up from the elbow and is a big body that has to be accounted for. His lack of length hurts him (unlike Gasol), but he plays very hard on both ends of the floor. He didn't have a great game yesterday, but I feel like he could be a steal for a team offering Denver the right pieces.
  • Solid Denver crowd - they reacted to the game like it was the playoffs in June, not TNT Thursday in February. Very pleased with the fine citizens of Colorado.
  • But conversely, as I proudly wore my Lakers gear in the arena during a Nuggets/Mavericks game, I only got one deragatory comment. A little dissapointed in Denver. I thought they might have more fire than that.
Carmelo had 42. Sure. But he got almost all of those 42 on jump shots. Granted, he was on fire from the field (17-25 shooting), but he only had 3 free throw attempts. What does that tell me? Melo was settling for jumpers on the wing (as his shot chart dictates - he only took a third of his shots in the paint) and not trying to get into the grill of the defense. I find that when this type of offensive performance happens, it's laziness, especially for a player that's such a gifted post and elbow scorer. I know it's hard to argue him shooting so much from the perimeter when he only missed 8 shots all night, but in most games, that's not going to work. He's not playing for contact or free throws, which is the most efficient way a player will usually score.
And this is type of effort I've been seeing from Carmelo lately - pretty lazy and doing the least he can to get his points. His body language all night was garbage. Despite his hot shooting, he looked detached and somewhat disinterested. And that's what's so deceiving here - he still dropped 42 points. But I suppose that's a testament to what a gifted offensive player he is. He got his numbers while looking like he didn't care and on jump shots that fell in. Can you imagine if he actually was engaged and looked like he gave a shit?
The Nuggets need to ship this guy out immediately. It's apparent to me (and the rest of the league, seemingly) that he doesn't want to stay in Denver. They have to get something for him or risk losing him much like Toronto did Chris Bosh last year - he walked and Toronto basically was left with nothing.
Overall, great experience at Pepsi Center - a fine arena, fine people and a great game.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Landry "The Punisher" Fields works at Modell's

This is a new video from the New York Knicks' own Landry "The Punisher" Fields. Please watch, observe, enjoy and marvel at the hilarity that comes from a fine Stanford education

Broadcaster English to English Translation

(After watching the replay)
“Well, I don’t know, that still looks pretty close to me”

Translation: Well, I actually do know - I was completely wrong calling that play. Man, I totally blew that! Everyone can see this. Look, it's right there, in super slow-mo! But if I keep on talking in this deliberate, slow manner, perhaps people will think technology is deceiving them.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tim Thomas is absolutely despicable

Sometimes I play basketball. The word "play" might be a bit strong here - I mostly just commit hard fouls and throw myself on the ground a lot so it looks like I'm hustling. But in the rare occurrences when I get the ball, I will shoot from the outside. No, this is not because I've got a great touch (I'm really good at hitting the backboard - does that count for something? Anything?), but it's because I am little. At 5'7", I will most likely be one of the shortest guys on the court, so out of necessity, I shoot from a spot where no one can Dikembe me. If I were any taller, I would probably take shots from closer than 15 feet, and happily, at that. This is the reason why I am always so hard on big players that play like small players - God gave you the gift of size. Anyone can learn how to shoot. I cannot learn how to be 6'8". Do not dishonor God. He's a good guy. So maybe this is the reason why I hate Tim Thomas so much.

I hate a lot of players in the league. As a Lakers fan, there are many guys
for me to dislike. I've always hated Mike Bibby and I still hate Doug Christie's face. Every time I see Paul Pierce fall down, I hope he needs a wheel chair...for the rest of his life. I hate that perpetual sneer on Kendrick Perkins face and how Rajon Rondo has literally no emotions. But more than anyone, I hate hate HATE Tim Thomas.

Tim is a 6'10" shooting guard from Villanova. He has played for 7 teams in his illustrious career, including the Sixers, Bucks, Knicks, Bulls, Suns, Clippers and Mavericks. In 13 seasons, he's averaged 11 ppg and 4 rpg, to go with a 37% shooting percentage from downtown. Pretty respectable numbers. He's been to the playoffs 7 times in his career and had some pretty epic shots, most notably with the Phoenix Suns in 2006. So why so much hate? Let's count down the reasons.

He is essentially a 6'10" shooting guard
Again, Tim Thomas is 6'10" and 230 pounds. He is almost the same size as Kevin Garnett, one of the greatest power forwards ever to live. He is a large man. Yet, he plays like a guard. Watching Thomas play, it seems like he is allergic to paint. He parks his ass out on the perimeter, waiting for his other, smaller teammates do to the dirty work inside so he can launch trey after trey. He has never been known as a "banger" - a guy who would fight for rebounds or try to get contact for free throws. A lot of people might interpret this as a guy utilizing his best skill to his fullest advantage - I would intepret it as laziness. To use a common NBA colloquialism, Tim Thomas is soft. He's so soft. He's so soft that sometimes, Andrea Bargnani calls him up just to call him a pussy in Italian, and then hangs up, laughing hysterically in between bites of cannoli.

Let's put it this way. Tim Thomas has taken 7,922 shots in his NBA career. Out of those 7,922 attempts, 32% have been three-pointers. Now let's put that in perspective. Ray Allen, arguably the greatest 3-point shooter ever, has taken over 14,000 shots in his great career and 37% have been three pointers. Yes - Tim Thomas has taken almost the same percentage of 3 point shots as one of the GREATEST SHOOTERS EVER. In fact, in 2009 (his last full season), 43% of Thomas' shots were 3-pointers. In 64 games. Yes, in almost a full season, he took almost half of his shots from further than 25 feet away from the basket. He is taking God's gift of size and spitting on it. I fucking hate Tim Thomas.

He has been traded 6 timesMaybe I'm just a harsh critic. Tim Thomas might be lazy, and adverse to any type bruising that may occur battling under the basket. Because he is a little girl. But maybe he's a great locker room motivator, a guy you need on your team to make other guys better. Or maybe not.

Tim Thomas has been traded 6 times in 13 seasons by 5 different teams. Obviously, there is something to be said not only about how disposable Tim Thomas is as a player, but also as a human being in general. In fact, Tim Thomas has long been known as a locker room cancer. So much so, that even the great Knicks GM Isaiah Thomas shipped his ass out twice (though he was dumb enough to acquire him...twice).

In fact, the two times the Bulls traded for him (both times he was a throw-in to make the salaries fit), he played a total of 21 games for them and was bought out both times. Essentially, the Chicago brass paid Thomas in excess of 7 million dollars just to go away. Since 2003, he has spent no more than 2 seasons in succession with any one team. That one team? The Los Angeles Clippers. I think that's enough said about that.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I get the feeling that signing Tim Thomas is kind of like dating a really hot dumb girl. Yeah, she looks really hot to the casual observer, but when you get to know her and see her in action every day, you get disillusioned really fast. And then you want to get out as quick as possible. Let me amend that - signing Tim Thomas is like dating a really hot dumb girl - with herpes. Yeah, she looks really hot to the casual observer, but when you get to know her and see her in action every day, you get disillusioned really fast. And then you want to get out as quick as possible. Because she is dumb and has herpes.

He is a thiefTim Thomas has made close to 98 million dollars in his NBA lifetime. How did he do this?
  • After a career year for the Bucks in 2001, Thomas signed a 6 year, $66 million dollar deal...which was paid for by 3 separate teams.
  • Three trades later, Thomas signed with the Phoenix Suns in March 2006 after being waived by the Bulls. With his playing days thought to be over, Thomas parlayed 3 months of hard work and a couple clutch playoff shots into a 4-year, 24 million-dollar deal with the Clippers.
  • A few months later, even the Clippers saw what an egregious error they had made and were trying to find out ways to drop this deadbeat.
  • In 2009-2010, he made over 8 million dollars to play 18 games for the Dallas Mavericks. He did this by being paid a 6.5 million dollar buy-out from the Bulls in addition to the 1.5 million the Mavericks paid him for his "services".
This my friends, is larceny.

I hope I have made some believers out of the 7 people that will read this post. Tim Thomas is one of the softest, laziest players ever to waste his potential in the league. He is a locker room killer and an affront to working men everywhere. As my buddy ThunderStolt said to me this afternoon, "anyone who knows anything about the NBA hates Tim Thomas." I hate him so much.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Total Mindblow: Brad Lidge’s 2004 season

Every once in a while, my focus during work will wane (maybe more than "once in a while"), and I'll go on a what I like to call a "baseball-reference tangent search". I'll wondering what Derek Jeter's statistics were in 1996 and sooner than I know it, I'll be looking at the 2007 game splits for Hiram Bocachica. A lot of people do this on Wikipedia - you'll start off wondering what movie David Fincher did before "Panic Room" and then BAM, you're reading up on Thunder Cats. Except doing this on is way nerdier. My latest and greatest (not at all) search has led to Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge.

These days, Brad Lidge is best known for being the most consistent and reliable cause of ulcers in the western Pennsylvania region. Even with a bounceback year in 2010, Lidge is still the guy that has lost his job as a closer twice (once in Philly and once in Houston) and has vacillated between alternatively ridiculous (in a good way) and ridiculous (in a bad way) seasons. But in 2004, Brad was the former; in fact, he had one of the greatest seasons for a reliever ever. Check out his statistical line:

6 wins, 29 saves, 1.90 ERA, .919 WHIP, 94 2/3 innings pitched, 157 strikeouts, 30 walks, 57 hits allowed

Wow. For those of you not statistically savvy, Lidge struck out 157 batters in 94 innings pitched, which is about 20 more innings than a reliever usually pitches. Just to capture the full scope of how abnormal Lidge’s season was, let’s look at a few guys that struck out fewer batters than him:

Chris Carpenter: 152 K
Greg Maddux: 151 K
John Lackey: 144 K

The hook here is the innings they did it in – 182, 212 and 198, respectively. Yes, these guys threw twice as many innings (or more!) as Lidge and struck out less batters! Not only that, but he allowed less than 1 walk or hit an inning over an entire season - which basically means that more often than not, he'd come out there, allow maybe one hit or walk, strike out a couple dudes and then go home for a glass of wine and to watch his stories. Amazing. Brad Lidge, I salute you. In 2004. Before you got to be terrible.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Nate McMillan could coach a WNBA team to the NBA playoffs

That headline obviously isn’t true. John Wooden couldn’t do that much. Don’t be ridiculous. But I think more recognition needs to be put on the fact that Nate McMillan has done some of the best coaching the NBA has ever seen over his tenure with the Portland Trailblazers.

Nate inherited an absolutely atrocious Trail/Jailblazers team in 2005 when he came over from the neighboring Seattle Thunder (strange, that name kind of works actually). This team had broken the Blazers 21-year streak of making the playoffs – and not only that, but created a cavalcade of negative headlines for The Oregonian; some of the stand out citizens of that team involved Sebastian Telfair, Zach Randolph, Ruben Patterson, Rasheed Wallace, Bonzi Wells and Darius Miles. After a 21-win season, several trades, gun charges and MIPs, Nate had a team that he could actually coach, and improved in win total for the next 3 years, going to 33 to 41 to 54 wins (that season being their first playoff berth in 5 years). During the 2009-2010 campaign, they team fell down to 50 wins, but still made the playoffs as a 6-seed.

Now that is an impressive track record all on its own – McMillan took a team riddled with bad contracts and terrible human beings and transformed it from a lottery team to one of the better squads in the league. With several savvy draft picks (LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Martell Webster, Greg Oden, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez, et al) and some excellent trades, McMillan had a team that could potentially overthrow the Spurs, Mavericks and Lakers for conference supremacy.

Potential is a funny word. The definition has both a positive connotation and a negative one – it essentially means that you have the possibility of greatness, or to achieve something greater than the current status indicates. That’s the caveat though – you are the current status indicated. You are less than the best you could be.

Unfortunately, that’s what Nate has gotten – less than the best they could be. With a team and players full of potential, fate has dealt him a roster of guys that are the current status indicated. His players are those that are undervalued, with skill sets and natural gifts that would deny them results on the basketball court equivalent to their effort. Despite what some might call (the scientific term anyway) “shitty luck”, Nate McMillan has taken what could have been a potential (there's that word again) Western Conference juggernaut, survived an avalanche of injury and succeeded – albeit not on the levels he had once hoped. This has made his accomplishments all the more impressive, but simultaneously undervalued.

Now every team has injuries – basketball is a highly physical, intense sport. A team without injuries, or a team that is restrained to a few during the season, is considered abnormal. But these Blazers teams have been the exception to the rule. I researched the spate of injuries bad luck that have befallen this team over the past few years; something that should have taken me 20 minutes took me over 2 hours. Not because the results were so hard to find - but rather there were too many results. The following list reads like something a Hollywood comedic writer wrote – and not shitty, CBS comedy writer. I’m talking about a legitimate, comedic writer. I actually read off this list to some friends today. One certain beautiful blonde laughed so hard her stomach hurt.

Take a look at the previous two seasons:

2009-2010 Season

7/9/2009: G Patty Mills (broken foot, missed 72 games)
10/30/2009: G Nicolas Batum (shoulder tear, missed over half the season)
11/13/2009: F Travis Outlaw (broken foot, missed over half the season)
12/5/2009: C Greg Oden (broken patella, out for the season)
12/5/2009: Coach Nate McMillan (ruptured Achilles tendon during practice)
12/22: C Joel Przybilla (dislocated patella and ruptured patellar tendon, out for the season)
3/7/2010: C Joel Pryzbilla (reaggravated injury while slipping in the shower, injury carries over into the 2010-2011 season)
4/15/2010: G Brandon Roy (torn ligament in knee, supposedly out 2-4 weeks)

- Other notes: Rudy Fernandez missed 20 games with a back injury and Roy additionally missed a month with a hamstring injury)

2010-2011 Season

10/8/2010: F Jeff Prendergraph (torn ACL, out for the season)
11/4/2010: G Elliot Williams (dislocated patella, out for season)
• Williams was their 2010 first round draft pick
11/17/2010: C Greg Oden (microfracture surgery, out for the season)
1/14/2010: G Brandon Roy (arthroscopic surgery, out for the season)
1/26/2010: C Marcus Camby (partially torn meniscus, out 4 weeks)

YES, EVEN THE FREAKING COACH GOT HURT. In successive years, 2 of their draft picks got hurt before they played an NBA minute. Greg Oden went up for a rebound and split his kneecap in two! His backup center got hurt two weeks later, and got hurt (again) in the shower! Brandon Roy was born without a meniscus! You can't make this shit up. You really couldn't. AND on top of all of this, I restrained myself to two seasons; I didn’t even include the 2008-2009 season, which featured minor injuries to Greg Oden and major injuries to Martell Webster, or the 2007-2008 season, when Oden was lost for the season with microfracture surgery on the other knee.

Nate was able to still bring his team to 50 wins last season and is on pace for about the same number of wins this year. Of course this has something to do with a equal parts intelligent and cursed front office, which had the wherewithal to sign Andre Miller, Wes Matthews and Juwan Howard, as well as trade for Marcus Camby (while at the same time, drafting knee-less Brandon Roy and an injury prone Greg Oden instead of Kevin Durant).

He was able to take an offense and defense built on the capabilities of Oden and Roy and remake it on the fly to focus more on the shoot-first point guard Miller, plug Matthews into Roy’s shoes and use a combination of Juwan Howard, Joel Przybilla and Camby to substitute for their 2007 first-overall pick. McMillan was also managing the day-to-day absences of Przybilla, Camby, Fernandez, Batum and Mills, while rookie guard Elliot Williams blew out his knee before he even played a single minute this season. This ability to change strategy time after time, with a rotating cast going in and out of the MRI chamber is the mark of a great coach. McMillan has been able to keep his team disciplined – they have been in the top-10 of opponents ppg, top-15 in defensive efficiency and top 5 in forced turnovers per game for the past 2 seasons. They outrebound their opponents (though only by 0.8) and have ranked 11th and 15th in point differential last year and this year, respectively. None of these are mind-blowing statistics. In fact most of them are middle of the pack. But remember that McMillan has kept his team playing hard with an absolutely demoralizing set of injuries affecting his team.

If you were to read that injury list as a Blazer, you would say (after laughing, crying and then accepting), “Well…yeah. Which players are in the lottery this year? Are we packing it in in February, or March? I’m going to have an affair in a hotel room now”. I can’t imagine how hard it is to keep your team focused and playing hard when every time you get someone back, say a role player like Patty Mills, and then BAM!, you find out that your best player is going bone-on-bone in both of his knees. Or you’re hoping your backup (backup center! You’re praying for Joel Przybilla to come back!) center is going to get better and BAM!, clumsy chump slips on a bar of soap. It’d be like fighting against the current – you’d just give up. I think this is probably the most impressive facet of Nate's success as a coach. He keeps his guys fighting like the salmon of San Juan Capistrano, and here they are in 2011 – 4 games over .500 and in the playoff hunt again.

So this is how Nate McMillan has gained accolades and been simultaneously undervalued the past few years – he’s been lauded for fielding a competitive team despite all of his adversity, but he goes under the radar because his teams are just that; simply competitive, but no one you really have to worry about. Maybe the basketball Gods will have some mercy on poor Nate. The guy coached with a torn Achilles. I don't see how it could get much worse. But if Wes Matthews gets hit by a Mango truck in the Pacific Northwest, I'm really really sorry for having said that.