June 29, 2007

2007 NBA Draft: Cheers and Jeers

I always try to tell myself to calm down this time of year, but it never works. I get so caught up in the frantic speculation and possible potential surrounding the next generation of NBA players. Who’s going where, how they’ll affect their new team, and who’s getting traded or passed up! Which late first-round, early second-round pick is going to be the next Spree or Redd or Manu? Which lottery pick is going to be a total flop – God Milwaukee you’d better pray, a lot. Sorry, getting ahead of myself. Some teams did some good things, other some bad, and I’m here to tell you what I think about it all.

Cheers to the Portland Trailblazers for…

...drafting Greg Oden over Kevin Durant. I know that Durant was sort of the flashy pick, but Oden will be a defensive stalwart for the next decade and a half, at worst. At best you’ve got the next dominant big man in the mold of Russell, Wilt, and Kareem. Durant will be great, but not as great as Oden.

...dumping Zach Randolph. I can’t say enough about how this will affect your team. I know you’re giving up a 20-10 guy but you’re also getting rid of the last of the Jailblazers – we don’t even count Miles anymore because he won’t play again. Sure you’ve taken on Steve Francis but rumor has it they’re going to buy him out so he can’t sink their newly rebuilt franchise. Jack, Roy, Aldrige, and Oden will be able to blossom without possible infection from a cancer who won’t play defense, or stay out of the gentlemen’s clubs.

Cheers to the New York Knicks for…

...swapping Francis for Randolph. You dump a guy who whines and cries because he doesn’t get to be the alpha dog, thus not playing with any balls and you get a guy who at least tries hard on one end of the floor. Sure he’s a headache, but it’s not like he’s more of a headache than their GM. And again, at least he tries on one end of the floor.

Jeers to the Boston Celtics for…

...trading away your Paul Pierce replacement for a worn down Ray Allen. I love Ray Allen, I truly do, but what is he going to do for the Celts? He’s a smaller version of Paul Pierce with a better jumper. Allen will also take away minutes from Gerald Green who, given a chance to play, should develop into a very solid player. It just seems like they’re trying to trick Pierce into thinking they’re trying to build a winner. I also never thought I’d hear anyone compare the Celtics to the Clippers of yore.

Cheers to the Boston Celtics for…

...getting rid of Wally Szczerbiak. Again, I like Wally World, but he was $11 million a year in foot and knee problems that was no good next to Pierce – think Glenn Robinson next to AI a few years back.

Jeers to the Milwaukee Bucks for…

...taking Yi Jianlian. His people said he wouldn’t play there. No one knows how old he really is. He didn’t work out against anyone – that chair played tight D though! And yet, they felt that he was worth the risk. I hope for their sake that he’s better than advertised, but I just can’t help but seeing another Wang Zhi Zhi in him. That’s of course if they can sign him. I’m just glad my team didn’t get a chance to draft him. No Kevin, don’t trade for him.

Cheers to the Minnesota Timberwolves for …

...not trading KG. See previous Chief post for explanation

...drafting Corey Brewer and Chris Richard. I love Corey Brewer, I can’t say it enough. He’s everything the Wolves need – big time player who should be ready to defend at the NBA level immediately, who plays with heart, he’s a winner, and it sounds as though he’s truly happy to be here. I don’t totally understand the Richard pick because he’s much like Craig Smith, but I like the pick from a talent standpoint. He’s a big, gritty defender who played four years off the bench for a great Florida team.

...not drafting Noah or Hawes. I hate Noah and his annoying attitude – mostly because at the regionals all I heard was the stupid Florida fight song and he was the face of the team. He’ll be a good player for a number of years in the league, but I can’t help but see a more skilled version of Mark Madsen. I do like the way he plays the game – tons of heart and he never stops – but I just don’t have faith that he’ll end up being worthy of the 7th pick. And Hawes, I see Felton Spencer, Luc Longley, Paul Grant, etc, etc. The Wolves have never had any luck drafting bigs, not to mention that he only played one season at Washington and he was up and down all year. I love Fred Hoiberg.

Not Sure What To Think…

...about Seattle’s draft. KD will be a stud and clearing Ray Allen’s contract was a good idea – presumably it will allow them to resign Rashard Lewis. Besides having to take on Wally World’s contract and health issues, they drafted Jeff Green whom I love as a player but he’s a small forward. Just like Durant. Just like Lewis. Of course that’s assuming that they keep Lewis. It should be an interesting situation to watch

...about the Charlotte – Golden State trade. I like Charlotte’s end of the deal a lot. Jason Richardson will sell tickets and give them a go-to scorer while replacing Gerald Wallace if they can’t resign him. J-Rich is not a very good defender but Emeka Okafor can bail him out better than anything he had in G-State. I realize that this was mostly a salary dump for the Warriors but after the way he played in the playoffs he finally showed how dominant he can be, especially in clutch situations. I like Brandan Wright, but he looks a lot like all the other lanky combo-forwards they have on that roster.

Next up is summer league. It’s like the NBA season is right around the corner. For now though, here’s praying KG remains on my team.

I Can Finally Stop Holding My Breath

1. Kevin Garnett is still on my team so I don't have to worry about crying in front of my friends.

2. We didn't draft Joakim Noah. Or Spencer Hawes. Or Yi Jianlian.

Right now life is good for Timberwolves fans, comparatively anyways. We still have the most efficient player in the league on our team, we didn't draft Mark Madsen 2.0, Felton Spencer 7.0, or Wang Zhi Zhi 1.1, and Mike James is no longer on our team. I haven't completely exhaled on the KG trade speculation, but it's looking less likely now that the draft is over.

More to follow...

Rappers Make Bucks And I Can Hear It, Hard To Fear It, Cause I Know You Grew Up On My Lyrics

Throw the draft analysis out the window for now. It's time to make a statement.


What kind of world do we live in where people can talk about trading him away and building for the future, quick to bring up all of his perceived "faults". He can't score in the fourth quarter. He can't take over games. He can't defend the low post.



Tim Duncan's got hella rings, and this isn't an out and out comparison, but have you seen these stats?

Duncan: 21.8 PPG 11.9 RPG
KG: 20.5 PPG 11.4 RPG

Let's see, KG has been one of the best rebounders in the NBA for a long time. He's been able to create his own shot, and execute it well for a long time. He's been named to the all-defensive team EIGHT times. He's been to the All-Star game TEN TEN TEN TEN years in a row.


You don't fix this team by trading him. You fix this team by giving him complementary players, guys that feed off of what KG brings to the floor. He's the most talented PF in the NBA. Yeah. He's the most intense maybe in NBA history. You don't dump guys like this for contract relief, or for future picks, or for anything. Do you know how many teams in the NBA would kill a member of their front office just to sniff KG for 4 months? Just to have that insane level of consistency? "Hi, my name is Kevin, and I'll just get 20 and 10 EVERY SINGLE NIGHT."


I'm absolutely livid right now at all of the trade talk. I can't believe what has happened with this team in the last month. I really thought Deadzo was going to pull the trigger and make me give up on this team. But I'm not going anywhere. I'm back with a vengeance.

Here's the thing for anyone out there who thinks about trading KG. Who is possibly going to replace his rebounding and defense? Is there another player in the NBA or NCAA who can even come close to matching his production? If you trade KG, you lose one of the best rebounders in the league, and on a team that already is near the bottom in rebounding. Craig Smith is very nice and all, but I think that I'm taller than him. Mark Madsen is... well, you know. Eddie Griffin is currently checking out the room behind the curtain at Video Biz. There's not anyone else who can even come close to that sort of production on the boards.

No matter what we would get back for Garnett, it would NEVER equal what we have. Isn't that the basic rule of a trade? Try to get better, either right away or in the future? Shouldn't every single trade be evaluated using that criteria? Then tell me what happens when you trade one of the best players in the NBA? Do you get back one of the best players in the NBA, or someone that COULD BECOME one of the best players in the NBA? No? THEN WHY IN GOD'S NAME WOULD YOU DO THAT TRADE?!?!?!?!? Oh, because KG's a free agent after this year. Oh, right. Sure. That's good justification.

He's not old, he's not broken, he's not on the down-swing. His injury problems in the last two years have been cop-outs by coaches to save him from the embarrassment of intentionally losing games to get higher draft picks. He's still one of the most consistent players in the league, and that's not changing.


There. Now that this little shit storm has passed, let's get back to making this team better.


Oh, and:

June 25, 2007

The End is Nigh (and nobody's celebratin')

This is it. It's heated up to a sufficient level, and it seems foregone. I've had my head in the sand for too long, but when it breaks on the cover of ESPN, it's time to face up to it.

Every terrible decision has led us to this. Every failure in management of this franchise in the last 10 years has led directly to right now. This is where a young Skywalker takes up the saber and gives in to his destiny. This is the inevitable conclusion, the black hole of predictability. This is how dreams die - not bursting all at once in a dramatic revelation, but fading in the elements, until you can't remember the dream at all. A dark gray, fading so slowly to black that you don't realize.

My favorite basketball player of all time - and really, it's not even fucking CLOSE - is about to be traded away from my team.

And this blog will cease when it happens.

Take up whatever you find holy, hold it close, pray for relief. It won't come, not fully, but perhaps we'll see the morning together.

McHale, you did this. All of it. You wrecked the man's career. You wrecked our experience as fans. You failed completely. Tonight, you celebrate.

June 19, 2007

"The definition of winning has become distorted."

I must be in the minority. Maybe my head is stuck in the past. Whatever the reason, when I turn on sports channels, you'd think I'd see a game of some kind. As a sports fan, I enjoy sports. Doesn't really matter what (figure skating, you can have). Sadly, the recent years have given way to what I call "Talk Radio TV." The news channels were the first to go this route, and sports channels were the second. So, why does that fact get mentioned here?


As much as I've never understood the general public's obsession on TV ratings, it's these large hogs' connection that low ratings = bad games. Boring doesn't come into their equation. Neither does the possibility of good games sitting unwatched. This can be pleasantly surprising on occasion: this spring, a Wisconsin/Ohio State game on a Sunday afternoon on CBS was their highest in 3 years. The game, a down-to-the-buzzer contest, was a great game. When the ratings were in, I was happy to see basketball fans found the game. But, just like when a favorite show gets cancelled as no one else watches, it's frustrating.

For me, it's the constant inaccuracies I hear, see, and read. As a member of this profession, the following things need to be said.

1) Before we get into WHY the finals were so ignored, many comparisons were made to the swanky 1981 finals (Boston and Houston). Mind you, we had 4 games on tape delay, starting after the late local news in over HALF the viewing public. So, the 2007 finals rated lower than games that ALREADY HAPPENED shown at MIDNIGHT. Hell, games 3 and 4 were back to back on the weekend because the league could get some live games in because...

1a) The NBA was in a serious ratings funk...one that is getting very close to mirroring today. When a show airs in primetime, it has to be scheduled ahead of time like anything else. So, ensuring that games won't be played on weekend afternoons or weekend nights, Mr. Stern extends the season (and games in the playoff series) to absurd lengths. Did you know, if this were still going on, we'd be at game 6 tonight? With general ratings lower, it would make sense for a network to want the finals outside of the season. Is the solution to end the season sooner and take what you can get knowing you're bombing in primetime?

2) The great teams, when they're in the same conference, happens in cycles. When I was in high school (getting further and further away) the Eastern Conference was considered so dominant that some thought the playoffs should be changed to seed the best 16 teams, regardless of what conference. And now here we are, with the exact opposite happening. Same shit happens in the NFL. It ebbs and flows. But, just as a Texas Leaguer to right is scored the same as a screamer down the line, a 114-112 win is the same as 81-80.

3) Sadly, the league is at the mercy of the two teams within the finals. San Antonio seemed intent on playing the East Conference style of basketball, to no one's delight. Cleveland, who, in the East Finals had problems placing a tea bag into a cup, didn't bring much. And so many were ready to crown James...that he arrived...that he was READY for the finals. Well, physically, yeah. But as a Television draw, it's a big NO. Magic & Bird & Dr. J (among others)...it took them years to drag things up. Jordan? It was 6 seasons until his first title season, as his star level grew and grew. If the league is going to hang its hat on star players (instead of teams themselves) they have to live with it.

4) NBC, as their contract was ending, could see that things were going to fade. Their offer was lower than the previous, and Stern was not pleased, claiming that it would have been the first time a pro sports league's rights would have gone down contract to contract (not true...even for the NBA). ABC/ESPN/TNT said yes, which lead NBC Sports "head" Dick Ebersol to say:

"If winning the rights to a property brings with it hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, what have you won? When faced with the prospect of heavy financial losses, we have consistently walked away and have done so again."

(Editors note: You could ask Ebersol the same question about Sunday Night Football. Violating his own rule would lead to some interesting answers. Then again, he does the Olympics for NBC, and according to him, it's still 1976 in TV Land so...whatever.)

5) If ABC, and specifically ESPN is smart, wholesale changes need to be made for coverage of the league and games. Promotion needs to change to strictly stars that could be in the finals as the weeks lead up to it. The league may have to live with weekend afternoon playoff games again. And the NBA itself could do a little more to showcase their stars. I won't get into who that should be...I'll leave it to others. But I'm sure in your mind you can think of some that get regular work in ads for products more than NBA promotion. Just because Kobe isn't someone McDonald's want to use for selling their garbage, doesn't mean KG can't do an ad for Toyota or whatever.

There's acting and reacting...and if Stern continues to go the way of Gary Bettman and claim all is well at the top of the ship while the rest begins to go toward the water...it will be ugly.

June 15, 2007

Blueprint, Ultimate Legit Sting International, Stone Love Classical, Comin Back, To Attack In Black Fatigue, Wu-Tang and Junior Reid


"We have more stuff we're planning on doing," McHale said. "So I'm sure I'll be talking to you guys again very soon."

God, I love it when people are delusional. Last year, our baseball team, the Minnesota Motherfucking, wrapped up one of the most fun professional seasons I had ever witnessed, culminating in a final-day clinching of the central division title. They went to the playoffs and were defeated in the first two games, playing like small children who had wandered unaware onto a diamond. Before the third game, many sportswriters, most of whom earn FAR MORE than me, and who can eat MUCH MORE COW than anyone who reads this, proclaimed that the Twins could feasibly turn it around and if they won game three, then they could pitch Johan on short rest, and then if Brad could make a start and GEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE....

Of course, they lost game three. I don't think they lead at all in the entire series. They hadn't even won A game, let alone many games that would allow them to take the series. But yet, everyone looked forward, everyone just threw out the what-ifs, as if we were all hiding from the truth: that they just weren't going to win, no matter what. "Hey, if they can just..." That's not how the world works. You have to go step by step. They hadn't taken a quality at bat for two straight games (except for Big RoRo White, get at me dogg!), and all of a sudden we were talking about who was going to start game 5 back at the dome.

Now, you didn't come here to read about the Twins. They are a professional team that is fun to watch. You came here for the pain.

It's funny to hear Deadzo say this, it really is. "More stuff we're planning on doing"? I just have to ask... what? There isn't anything he CAN do! Short of swapping picks for cash, which is what may happen with the Cavs this year, so I'm told, how can you make a move?

Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that a move can't be made with the Wolves, but McFail ain't gonna be the one to do it.

There are some pieces on this team that could be given away to struggling teams looking for upgrades at specific positions. Obviously package deals are out. You'd be lucky to find one team willing to take on Ricky Davis, don't press your luck and try to throw T-hud into the mix. If a team calls about Mark Blount PLEASE JESUS JUST GIVE HIM AWAY FOR A BAG OF FUNYONS. With that known, it very well COULD be an interesting off-season, but the problem here always comes back to who is calling the shots. He can't execute a successful trade. I'm telling you, it's not possible. The two trades that have worked out for the Wolves in the past - Sam and Spree - literally fell into his lap. Spree was pissed in New York and they had Zeppo the Clown running the show, so they were just looking to get rid of him. Atlanta desperately needed cap space. Terrell Brandon was making north of 10mil, so it was so easy, even Deadzo could do it. Then Milwaukee calls and says they have a two-time NBA champion who needs a wheelbarrow to carry his nuts around, but SURPRISE SURPRISE he and George Karl didn't get along, and now he wants out. Oh, and they only want Joe Smith - he of the "Wow he can really take a charge and also not ever rebound or score points" fame - and Anthony Peeler, aka "I'm going to punch KG in the face because... why again?". I bet McHale had to flip a coin to decide that one.

The point of it all is that him saying that, him being all cocky and saying "I'll be seeing you guys real soon" is just stupid. Who else does shit like this? You make the trades and you keep working. You work the phone lines like you're collecting for Verizon (Hey, wait a minute, that's maybe a good job for ol' Deadzo). You have to try to give away any and every player on this team besides KG, Foye, McCants and Big Craig.

And while you're on the phone with other teams, why don't you do us all a favor and ask if they want to trade GMs. Just ask. Seriously.

June 14, 2007

You Know Your Town Is Dangerous When You See The Strangest Kid Come Home From Doin The Bid And Nothing Changes

I've been completely remiss in discussing the greatest MC to ever walk the earth, The GZA. So that's going to change.

Perhaps one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time, Liquid Swords is pretty much non-stop word flow and expansion of parameters. From the beginning, The Genius was always about getting you to think about his rhymes. There were things buried within the content, truisms not only about life, but about eastern philosophy and global thought. Only it was never forced, it was never "heady". It just happened, he flows like a prophet, without having to call himself a prophet. That's what elevates him, I think, in the hip hop game - because he can spit just about anything he wants and it always comes off as wise. Despite being just about the least approachable member of the Wu - what with guys like Method and Ghostface willing to get right in your face - GZA carved a place out for himself long before rappers were getting into serious shit. I read an interview with the RZA a while back ahd when asked what The Genius was up to, he said "he's just layin low, playin chess, smokin blunts, you know". The mystery of shadowboxing, indeed.

Anyway, a trade went down last night, and it was obvious KG has been heard, because the Wolves definitely have their back, but now it's time to watch their front.

(oh man, that was the sleepiest segway of all time)

The front court is in shambles.



Tom Hammonds
Sam Mitchell
Dean Garrett
Rasho Nesterovic

Summary - The front court is in shambles.


Marc Jackson
Joe Smith
Gary Trent
Loren Woods

Summary - The front court is in shambles.


Mark Blount
Mark Madsen
Justin Reed
Craig Smith

Summary - The front court is in shambles.


It doesn't matter how far back you go, the best our front court has ever been was when we had Big Swerve in the paint and KG and Spree roaming like lions. That's it. And even then, defensively, that wasn't that great. Throughout history, the front court has been so incredibly bad for the Wolves, it gets to the point where getting Juwan Goddamned Howard gets me excited. Why? Because he stays down there. Because it appears that he can control his bladder when someone big approaches him. Because although he is absolutely one of the most un-exciting players in the NBA, he does his job, whatever that has been, throughout his career. Would you rather have him or C-Webb? And I'm not just talking about time-out-taking skills.

Here's a blast from the past: I actually used to own a #25 Michigan jersey, because I always thought Howard was the class of the Fab 5. Well, he certainly didn't cash as many checks as C-Webb (both during and after college), and didn't piss as many people off as Jalen Rose, but he's had a notable NBA career, and still plays decent minutes for a 34 year old.

The key to this trade is to look beyond the basics. Simply put, we traded Mike James, a 31 year old point guard who had been marginalized by the emergence of Randy Foye and the fact that we have a high first round pick this year, for Juwan Howard, a guy who had been marginalized on his own team by age and similar circumstances. But it's the contracts that matter. With James we get out from three more years of pain.

Right now, the Wolves have 4 absolutely albatross contracts:

Mark Blount - 3 more years, roughly 7mil per year
Troy Hudson - 3 more years, roughly 6.5mil per year
Marko Jaric - 4 more years, roughly 7mil per year
Mike James - 3 more years, roughly 6mil per year

Right now, and for the rest of the offseason, their mission absolutely has to be to get out from as many of these contracts as possible. They have to be willing to accept WHATEVER teams can give to them. Even if it means Steve Francis. That's right.

If they have to trade for Steve Francis, and they can get rid of two or more of those listed above (James already being gone), then it works. Steve's only got two more years, and he'll be a very tradeable piece if he mans up with KG. I would do it in a heartbeat, but ONLY if it means dumping nearly all of those guys listed above. The Wolves have to think long-term right now, something not usually done by a deceased GM. The product on the floor isn't going to matter. KG isn't going to matter. If you don't dump those guys above, it isn't going to make a lick of difference if KG is here or not, because you'll still be committing as much money as you paid him to three total scumbags. The argument isn't about swinging a big deal for immediate help. The argument has to be to free themselves to do something, anything in the open market. First, they have to dump. Those 4 players listed above are not going to increase their value anymore, and in all four cases, they have dropped their value considerably since signing their contracts. Specifically Troy... he would not be able to sign a contract to play in the NBA were he a free agent this season. Blount is borderline. Jaric could catch on somewhere as a backup. And James is the best of the 4. And we just traded him.

I'm happy about this trade. Now we have a more tradeable piece in Howard, and he can be packaged with other guys (oh wait, Deadzo doesn't understand "packaging") and perhaps our pick this year to make a run at something. This move was a small one, but a positive one, I believe, for this team. We get a better contract, and we lose a guy who was the most expendable on the team. Whatever Howard gives us is gravy. Will he be better than Mark Blount? Well, considering I walked by a guy at the bus-stop this morning who was talking to himself about how it's just a matter of him "getting some money and then getting a job", and HE is better than Mark Blount at basketball, I think it's a safe bet.

"I slayed MCs back in the rec-room era,
My style broke motherfuckin backs like Ken Patera"

June 13, 2007

Now How Wrong Can You Be To Think We Play, Even A Broken Clock Is Right At Least Twice A Day

Straight out of Illtown in the early 90s, Naughty By Nature was the ultimate Catch 22 in the rap game. Specifically Treach, a gritty, sharp, wicked rhymesayer who had lived the true ghetto life in East Orange, NJ, and rapped about being homeless, growing up a "ghetto bastard" and sending about 10 minutes of shoutouts to all his 118th street posse (the song "Thankx for Sleepwalking" is essentially just one long shoutout). On the other edge of the blade, so to speak, they enjoyed IMMENSE radio and MTV airplay with OPP and later with Hip Hop Hooray. I always wondered what the driving force of the group was... obviously Treach is one of the most talented, underrated rappers of the 90s, and is still going today, but I wondered if the hooks on their tracks weren't just the perfect amount of sugar to appeal to the MTV crowd. The beat for OPP, for example, sampled directly from ABC, is a sweet bubbly hook, with Treach overtop of it going on about giggly subject matter that had the whole world asking if they were down with it. But like I say, the truth is that Treach was as ghetto as they come, rapping about bus cards and saying how he's "been through more shit within the last week, than a fly going through doo-doo on the concrete". The duality of Man, I suppose.

Regardless, I think I'm seeing the same things from the NBA finals.

On one hand, I pull for the team with potential, the team that can break expectations. The worst thing for me in sports is predictability, and though I hate negative predictability more (see Timberwolves, Minnesota), postitive predictability is also bothersome. This is why the Spurs ultimately are a disappointment to watch. They are predictably good. I would feel the same way if the Pistons would do what they had the potential to (win 3 championships in a row). I think back to the Lakers, and the Bulls before them, and the Lakers and Celtics before them. They were great, and they won multiple championships, but most importantly, they kept changing, kept pushing the limits of what they could do as a team, kept steamrolling bad opponents and stepping up to the great ones. They were DYNAMIC. The Spurs are not.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I do love properly played basketball. I enjoy seeing the Spurs take control of the floor on both ends. Tony Parker's the kind of guy who I would love to like, as is Tim Duncan, based on their games.

It's like, I know in my head that they are - simultaneously - playing great, watchable basketball, and also that they are no fun to watch.

I've thought about this a lot. I've taken quite a bit in from media sources - probably too much. I've tried it from every angle imaginable. But I still end up pulling fora guy named Boobie. And for Donyell Marshall. I know! Isn't that twisted? That I want Donyell Marshall to win an NBA championship more than Robert Horry, because nobody thinks Donyell "deserves" it? I did the same thing last year! For some reason, I wanted nothing more in the world than Jason Williams and Antoine Walker to win a title. Why? Because everyone ragged on them for their entire careers about how they couldn't make a team better and they were too selfish.

I think LeBron is out of the argument for now. I just wanted the Cavs to win because they had personality, they had flaws, they surprised the world by beating Detroit, and they were playing with house money. Their coach is undermatched, and he doesn't know how to respond. So they just go out and do whatever they can to win games, and it ends up being something with a lot more character than the Spurs plodding through yet another well-constructed win.

Christ, who bore this uneasiness in me? Where did this come from?

In the end, I think it goes back to the flopping. I don't cheer for floppers. Ever. Vlade showed me what pure hatred was, and I haven't turned back. Manu and Parker can flat out kiss it. There. There's the reason.

June 4, 2007

I Rope-a-Dope The Evil, With Righteous Bobbin' And Weavin', And Let The Good Get Even

A long time ago, I heard from some dumb dunce that the great moments in sports are when you don't know what's going to happen next, and the truly transcendant moments are when you thought you knew, but you truly had no idea. Watching Jordan carve in the 90s was like that - you didn't know what was going to happen, you thought you had seen it all, and then POW! Something brand new. Nobody cares much for the predictable, that's why we all got tired of seeing the Lakers winning a few years ago... they were doing it the same damn way every time. Oh gee, can Shaq score in the post? Oh, Kobe's really good too? Where's the fun?

Anyway, if I were a gambling man - and I am - I would put a good amount of money on our Cavaliers to take this one.

We've entered into that fun place, that "Golden State is playing on borrowed time" place where it is possible for us to soon find ourselves entering the glory land. I have a vague sense of the world completely switching gears following game 5 in Detroit, something fundamentally changing about the NBA that I won't be able to explain just yet. As with any major shift, it's improper to evaluate it right away, because it could turn out to be nothing. LeBron could very easily go back to being just a very good basketball player in the Finals, in which case the Cavs are going to LOSE LOSE LOSE.

But there's potential now. We've seen it. Things could happen.

Every team has a superstar now, that's just the way it goes. As such, usually the superstars can negate each other. "Dirk is going to be hard to contain, but what about Steve Nash???" This is different. This is the old rhetorical questions... "What if you just can't stop LeBron?" Duncan will get his (by the way, isn't that his career in a nutshell? "Duncan will get his" He always brings it. Like KG. But with a better organization and smarter owners) but the Cavs possess the super wild card.

Nobody can predict what is going to happen. It's nearly impossible. Saying that the Spurs will grind out a series win seems to be the consensus for the "safe" pick. But it's not safe. Cleveland is at 3-1 odds right now, and that's a huge surprise. I think they should be much lower, considering San Antonio has been favored to take this whole thing since knocking Phoenix off. But now bookies aren't so sure. And who can blame them? Watching LeBron seems to give everyone fits, including his own fans.

It has been an absolutely fantastic playoff run this year, and it's not letting up anytime soon. First there was Golden State, and when that faded there was SA-Phoenix, what with all the punching and shoving. Out east there was a young child named James, who decided to score every time he touched the ball. Now we've got the possibility for one of the best finals of all time.

It's there. That potential. And we're walking into it with smiles on our faces.

June 1, 2007

Like Lotto, You Have To Be In It To Win It

So 24 wants out of LA? Or he wants to stay? Or he's getting nothing but hand at home, so he's calling all these radio stations all day, just to talk? Well, everyone and their mother is talking about possible deals for Kobe right now, and that's all well and good, but what about his other concern? Are the Lakers going to get better? How?

Their roster: (player, contract duration, money owed)

Lamar Odom
2 more years - 13.5mil and 14.5mil

Yeah, right. They're not trading him. What can you get for him? Average scoring, average rebounding, above-average money. And he's two years away from coming off. Unless you're talking about trading with a team who's almost there and just needs a push over the edge (Cleveland, I suppose), what can you get in return that doesn't screw up your team worse than it was with Odom on it?

Kwame Brown
One more year - 9mil


Vladimir Radmanovic
3 more years - 5.5mil, 6mil, 6.5mil (then a player option for 7)

What the hell does he do? Why would you take this guy? 6.6 ppg? He's just a mid-level guy, which means he's not tradeable, because there's 20 of these guys every year on the market.

Chris Mihm
Free agent

He missed almost all of last season with ankle surgery. Career 10ppg scorer. Maybe you could sign and trade for a dumptruck, but only if it was half-full.

Andrew Bynum
Two more years - 2mil and 3mil, then he's a restricted free-agent

They won't trade him... for some reason they are sold on the kid. This is like the Wolves putting Foye up on the block - it would only happen for AI or guys like that. And LA isn't really in the running for guys like that.

Luke Walton
Free agent

Ah, now we're getting somewhere. Luke is steadily improving - assists, rebounds, points, minutes; they all went up last year, by a lot. He's 27 years old, and is entering a delayed peak. Of course, he's not on the Lakers payroll. They could sign and trade, I suppose. If you packaged Walton with Bynum, you'd be getting somewhere...

Jordan Farmar
Rookie - they've got him for 3 more years, for cheap

He played in almost every game last year, and improved slightly. He's got a long way to go, though. He represents potential, and that doesn't go a long way in trading for big pieces.

Brian Cook
Two more years - 3.5mil and 3.5mil (with a player option after that for 3.5)

Sure, he's only making 3.5, and his contract isn't a killer, but he plays 15 minutes a game and isn't improving. He's a nothing. You could get his production from anyone in the D-league.

Maurice Evans
It doesn't matter

Walking garbage.


Ok, so that's the long and short of it. Who do you trade on this team? Well, let's see... you could put Bynum and Farmar together, sign and trade Walton, and that might be somewhat attractive, for a mid-level guy. Of course, that would leave you with total putrification. You could throw Odom in the mix to get the overall salary up, and go after a huge contract... but putting Kobe on the floor with another huge contract might sound good, however there will be no one else AT ALL on the team. Think about that. Whoever you traded those guys for, Kwame Brown becomes the third best player on the floor. And Smush Parker the 4th best. So yeah.

Face it, the Lakers are in the same boat as the Wolves, albeit with much more manageable contracts. At least the Lakers can move some smaller pieces around, and bundle them together. At least other GMs wouldn't laugh openly in their face if they tried to package their players together. "Yeah hi, this is Kevin in Minnesota, hey how do you feel about Troy Hudson? (laughter rising) Well, what if we put him in a deal with Marko Jaric? (rising) Hmm, I guess we could put Mark Blunt in a deal too... (full-on guffawing) You know what, if you absolutely have to have it, we can include Ricky Davis too. (doubled over, vomiting, screaming "make it stop")

Anyway, there it is.