Olympic Thoughts

August 11, 2008 by

I wanted to open up a thread to solicit thoughts and impressions of Olympic ball so far. As far as the US is concerned, I missed the China game this weekend, but based on the exhibitions I saw, I can only echo what everyone else is saying: Chris Paul should really start over Kidd.

I did, however, happen to be passing out Saturday night when the Greece-Spain game was playing live, and that was as hard-nosed an international game as I have ever seen. I knew Greece was a tough team, but I hadn’t realized how much the Spainards had improved. I guess I should have noticed when the won the ’06 World Championships, but this ’08 team, with vets like Gasol and Calderon and young guns like Rudy Fernandez,  are very deep and athletic. I was most impressed with Fernandez. He was flying all over the place. His defense may be a liability in the NBA, but I think the Blazers are getting a great player.

Anyway, I welcome all comments and additions concerning the Olympics, particularly how you feel the US is doing.

Houston, we have a problematic punny title…

July 31, 2008 by

In regards to this last trade and the whole summer in general, I couldn’t help but think that NBA teams are starting to operate exactly like a fantasy league. What was supposed to be a quiet summer of non-elite free agents resigning with the current teams has instead given way to seismic shifts through both conferences. I can almost imagine Daryl Morey sitting at his computer, fooling with a trade machine and texting the Maloofs with dumb ideas like “Artest 4 Deke + Lutherhead? Don’t Laugh!”

I guess this is what happens when the old guard of Phoenix and Dallas weakens. (I’m not including SA, here, for obvious reasons.) After surveying the wreckage of this surprising Artest fire-sale, I’m inclined to think this would not have flown in our fantasy league, though. The soon-to-be-retired Bobby Jackson, a 1st rounder, and the deluxe gunner of the Vegas Summer League Donte Green for Ron Artest? This is the sort of discount that true instability generates, I guess. Sure, his numbers have dropped and he is a ball-stopping liability, but he can make baskets if properly motivated.

Putting aside my initial dissapointment that Artest was not paired up with Kobe (a combustible pipe deam, I suppose), this story caught my eye, leaving open the window for some classic Artest conflict. Artest vs. Yao! Now that’s a brawl I would pay to see. Houston fans, yall ready for this?!

These Clippers Couldn’t Throw It in the Ocean

July 28, 2008 by

I’m half-convinced Golden State matched the Clippers’ offer-sheet for Azubuike just to get a laugh out of watching L.A. scrape up a roster from the dregs this free-agent class. Today provided the punch line: “Clippers sign G Ricky Davis.”

To recap that’s Baron and Ricky Davis in L.A., playing for a coach who’s not exactly known to wear his collar loose. Should be fun.

They might also challenge for the record for worst team FG% in the modern era. Check out the shooting on this roster (last season’s %):

Camby — 46%
Baron — 42%
Eric Gordon — 43% (in college)
Kaman — 48%
Mobley — 43%
Quentin Ross — 39%
Tim Thomas — 41%
Al Thornton — 43%
Jason Hart (their backup PG?) — 32%
and now, Ricky Davis — 43%

And if I were to weight those shot attempts according the guys who will take most of them … it could get real ugly, real fast down there.

That Josh Childress Video

July 24, 2008 by

Couple different sites have been passing around this video, which is supposed to show Josh Childress partying in Greece just hours after signing his contract with Olympiacos. But it doesn’t look right to me. Isn’t Childress like 6’8″? Maybe his listed height includes the fro. Or maybe he made some new, really tall friends.

Throwdown with Carmelo Anthony

July 22, 2008 by

Just in time for Team USA’s ramp-up to Beijing, I got around to digging this up out of my photo archives. It’s from a qualifying tournament for FIBA Americas held in Las Vegas in the fall of 2008.

You also gotta see the guy he’s dunking on for Argentina, on the left, with The Moustache. Easily my favorite player for the Argentines, he was straight out of Prefontaine. If you can’t see it on this version, click through to Flickr for higher-res.

Settling Down

July 19, 2008 by

This weekend, in spite of all the wackiness with the Warriors, my friend Sean and I upgraded our season tickets. I don’t think anyone knows what to expect from this team, including the guys calling the shots, but hell, it’s the Warriors. It’s going to be fun.

For a blow-by-blow rundown of the trauma since Baron’s opt-out, Tim Kawakami’s blog at the Merc is your go-to source. But three big questions still haven’t been answered by anyone in the media:

1. Why throw $67 million at Maggette and Turiaf without using that money to take a shot at Josh Smith?

Yeah, you’d have to overpay to get Smith since he’s restricted, and he’s got a bad rep about his attitude, but wouldn’t someone that young, talented, and athletic fit this team much better than another wing and undersized back up big man?

2. Ok, even if you decide Maggette’s the guy you want, why give him $10 mil a year?

Here’s one of those situations where, as a fan, I feel like there’s something going on behind the scenes that I must be missing. Because from what I’ve read, after the Brand-Baron fallout, the only teams with cap space to offer Maggette more than the mid-level were the Warriors, Grizzlies, and Clippers. The Griz sure as hell weren’t going to sign him. His relationship was soured with the Clips, so the only threat from them was a sign and trade. Maybe that threat was bigger than we realize, but it sure didn’t seem like it was in the offing.

That means that Maggette was likely staring at going to a contender for the mid-level — starting at about $5.5 mil a year — or taking the Warriors’ offer. So what was his leverage that got the Warriors up to $10/per? Did they bid against themselves? I’ve read thousands of words about this signing, and still no one has explained why the deal wasn’t in $7-8 million/year range.

2A. If you’re going to overpay for Maggette, why not front-load the contract?

With the Warriors sitting on cap space now, it would make sense to really overpay Maggette for 2-3 years in case they need to trade him at the end of his deal. This becomes an even bigger problem if Anthony Randolph develops into the player they think he will be, because Don Nelson has already said Randolph is also a ‘3’.

3. What’s going on with Sean Livingston?

We all know his injury was devastating, but the last report I saw on him back in April said doctors were expecting a full recovery. Since then: not a word. He’s a 22-year-old, former top 10 pick, who was just starting to come around before getting hurt, and this is a market starved for point guards — so why no news?

Some Good News

Everyone knows the Warriors need another PG, and that led to terrifying (and baffling) speculation that they would take a shot at Marbury after the Knicks cut him. Thankfully, Stein is reporting today that chatter in Vegas has Golden State going after a young, score-first, Baron-lite point guard, like Philly’s Louis Williams or undrafted free agent Bobby Brown, who tore up the summer league. Whew.

Enter the Hengst: Malik, D-Lee, and The Rise of Small Bigs

July 9, 2008 by

When it came to writing my first official post for Blogjammin, I found myself choosing a topic that is very dear to my heart: Undersized Power Forwards [The Garbagemen! — ed.].

As far as I’m concerned, hustle is more than a skill, its a habit. Hustle is a way of life. David Banner knows this. So does Rick Ross. But I’ll tell you who really knows this better than anyone in the NBA: Malik Rose. He has the distinction of being one of my favorite players of all time, and his hustle earned him a very un-Spurs like salary of 7 years and $42 million.

Any Spurs fan can tell you, we all thought he deserved it. We were insane for the guy. There were bobble heads and shirts, not to mention the number of Malik jerseys at most games rivaled the starters. When he was traded for Nazr Mohammed (a savvy move, I had to admit), local TV news ran weepy specials. It was like we traded an all-star.

But this is what happens in the NBA. We want the lunchpail guys, the guys we can relate to. During the NBA lockout, Malik was supposedly sleeping on the floor of his mother’s house in a Rugrats sleeping bag. Haven’t we all done that during our own respective professional lockouts?

Today, as Malik rides the pine for the Knicks and imparts Hustle Truisms, one who has probably caught his ear is David Lee. Lee’s value to that often miserable franchise can’t be overstated. Seemingly no one else cares like he does. And for this sole reason, Knick fans are blinded to his real value.

Scan the comments on any Knicks draft story, and you’ll find that New York fans refuse to trade him for anything. Danilo Gallinari was probably booed in relation to his potential to supplant Lee. I can probably admit that Lee is not worth max money or even may not be more than a great sixth man, but as a proud fantasy owner, I say: screw Gallinari.

As long as there are spiritless rosters filled with Starbury’s and Darius Miles-type guys, the fans will always be hungry for their polar opposites. If you check out the top 50 rebounders of last year, you will see plenty of big names like Stoudemire, Howard, KG, and Duncan. But you will also see David Lee, and guys like Nick Collison, Paul Milsap and Chuck Hayes. You can ask Matty what their +/- means to a successful team.

What I have to say is that, fantasy stats or real ones, I celebrate the Hustle Guy, the Energy Guy. They help win championships. Just ask Reid if he remembers Malik’s signature 25 point effort in Game 2 of the ’03 Spurs-Mavs series. Actually, I’m pretty sure that was taped over with the searing memory of Steve Kerr draining three after three. But Kerr never would’ve been in that position without Malik.

Why? WHY???

July 9, 2008 by

So Baron and Brand both get their contracts and get to go home, and now the Warriors are going to overpay for Maggette, who’s a questionable fit in their system at best, which leaves the Spurs settling for Roger Mason Jr., which in turn means that Brent Barry’s likely gone. On top of it all, no one here in the Bay Area can figure out why you would pay Maggette $10 million per and also throw $4 mil/year at Rony fucking Turiaf, without first offering Josh Smith like $16 mil and seeing if Atlanta has the stones to match. I mean, he’s only a 22-year-old power forward who can defend a little and was built for Nellieball. Better not make a run at him. So not only did I just watch my favorite team miss out on the dynamic fourth scorer they’ve wanted for damn near half a decade, but his snub was the direct result of the team I just bought season tickets for screwing up their roster with a desperation move.

Unless, gracious God willing, there are more trades coming. Please, just bring us Josh Smith. That’s all I ask. Or hell, even Hinrich. I mean the only point guards on the roster are Monta Ellis and CJ Watson. But, hey, Anthony Randolph looks great in practice. Awesome. Actually this is pretty awesome: “Q: Have you spoken to Baron since he left? NELSON: Oh yeah. We spoke several times on the phone. He came over to the office to say good-bye. We had a cigar together, sat in my truck for about two hours and talked.”

Anyways, as you can see, I can’t make shit for sense of all this, but my gut feeling right now is leaning towards unmitigated disaster.

On Results; or, When Good Luck Goes Bad

July 3, 2008 by

John Hollinger’s column today ties in nicely with the book I’m reading right now, Fooled By Randomness:

In three seasons with the trio of Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, the Wizards have won 43, 41 and 42 games and haven’t made it past the first round of the playoffs. The three players are 26, 28 and 32, respectively [sic], so it seems likely that we’ve seen about the best we’re going to get from them. They’re an average team, and without an infusion of vastly better players around them, they’ll keep being an average team.

Yet instead of blowing that trio up, the Wizards took a Bob-Beamonesque leap of faith this week. First they extended Jamison for four years and $50 million, and then they offered Arenas a monstrous six-year, $127 million package. … For better or for worse, the Wizards are stuck with these guys

Contrast this go-with-the-girl-who-brung-ya approach, which is predicated on four straight playoff appearances and a firm belief that a healthy Wizards team can make the Finals, to the chaos in Oakland. Out here, Baron has opted out because — besides going home to L.A. — he wants so badly to play in the Finals. And the Warriors refuse to break the bank for him precisely because they don’t think he can lead this current roster there.

Funny thing is, by every measure — win loss record, point differential, etc.– the Warriors were a better team. Especially since the Warriors were about even with the Wizards the year before, and with the improvement of G.S.’s young players and the (squandered) chance to add an impact role player in the draft, could’ve expected to get even better in 08-09. Given the similarities between the two teams and Washington’s injury problems, it’s easy to chalk up differences in past performance to, basically, luck, and consider them both not quite championship material.

In reality, the only surefire difference is that the Warriors were unlucky to be stuck in the Western Conference, where for the first time ever 48 wins weren’t enough to make the playoffs. But that one result, that one fact, has colored nearly everyone’s perception of 07-08 as a failure and the team as one that’s talented and exciting but not good enough.

(UPDATED FOR CLARITY:)Now, Golden State’s management did make that max offer to Arenas, so they the potential to swap out high-scoring point guards and keep building. But fans out here are despondent, Baron Davis took off, and Brand won’t come up here. Meanwhile, for the Wizards, the feeling from management and fans is that they’re right there. So that perfectly justifies committing to a half decade of decent but not great teams, when really you were just lucky enough to play out east.

What Is Going On?

July 2, 2008 by

Oh, the thrills of being a Warriors bandwagoner. As a convert, this is a whole new lesson in what it’s like rooting for a franchise that isn’t as plain-vanilla competent as the Spurs.

Thursday: Warriors draft Anthony Randolph.

Emotions: Mild outrage, significant frustration, mainly confusion, but also that first little twinge of worry.

Monday: Baron opts out.

Emotions: Uh oh. He’s just calling Mullin’s bluff … right?

Tuesday: Warriors throw max money at Arenas.

Emotions: Whoa, what the — huh? That’ll never work, what are they doing? (Frantic IM discussions ensue.)

Later Tuesday: Baron agrees to sign with clips.

Emotions: It’s like when you’ve been dating a girl for a while and think things are going well, but then one week you notice she’s acting a little weird, and before you even think to ask if something’s wrong, you suddenly find yourself getting dumped.

Wednesday: Warriors make huge offer to Brand.

Emotions: Still recovering from the desolation of losing Baron for nothing, and without time yet to talk yourself into the remaining attractive options (hello, Josh Smith) or come to grips with a team suddenly out of playoff contention, this awesome F.U. to the Clips is too much to process. Somehow you know it’ll never work, but at least you can hope. And, hell, maybe something good — a sign and trade that nets Thornton? — comes out of this whole mess.

In the end, though, the Warriors’ loss is shaping up to be the Spurs gain, since suddenly Maggette is finding himself stuck taking a mid-level exception, with the San Antonio the front-runner. Corey “22 Points Per Game” Maggette for the same price as the Kings paid for Beno and the Mavs paid for Diop? I guess it’s even-stevens for me.