December 15, 2011

"Oh, you guys wanna make a trade?"

"Maybe I can be of some help?"

"No.  Anyone else?  Lakers?  No.  Orlando, you  Nope.  I decide where players play."

(The phone rings)

"Very funny, who changed Donald Sterling's phone ID to 'Archie Bunker?'  Hello, Donald.  (pause)  You know what, I said no before, but since someone here will be fined for changing your caller I.D. you can make that trade."

Just in case it wasn't clear before, the NBA Players Union did not "win" with their new deal.  They lost.  Sure, they may have won "concessions" but to Stern (a lawyer) he defended his client (owner's typical bullshit) and can once again lord over his employees...which is what they really are.

For the Clippers, they've had money...not as much as the Lakers, but they've had it.  Sterling, a very uneven miser, simply couldn't attract talent to the team.  More often than not, a meeting with him would seal the deal: the player would go elsewhere.  And even with this trade, the Clips still have moves they need to make.  (They likely won't or will make dumb moves, but still...)

Lest we forget about David's LOVE of TV markets and ratings.  Therefore, this trade makes complete sense to David because:
1. By trading away the best player of a league-owned team, they can then work on the dwindling fan interest as they see fit, and then choose to move it (or fold it) whenever they'd like.  Maybe Eric Gordon can be the franchise, right?
2. By directing Paul to the Clippers, he gets his wish: another big talent in LA, but this time with the other team.  This helps the ratings (in theory) and makes David look like he's holding his end of the deal from the lockout agreement.
3. If anyone is against this deal from a New Orleans perspective, David can play the "I sure wish someone would take over this franchise/I'm a single mom working two jobs" card.  Here's his quote after the trade went down:

"It was not my favorite role, but I did it," Stern said. "... I must confess that it wasn't a lot of fun."

You had to have been a nervous wreck, David.  Hey Derek Fisher, you were in all the meetings with him, and as union president watched your initial demands dwindle down like the casual fan's interest.  What do YOU think of the trade?

"I just think the overall approach to things in this business is getting a little bit difficult to stomach."

Too bad you haven't had a chance to change anything.  Well, Sterling continues to do his thing, David pulls the strings, and people complain as they always do.  But you know, I'm no Laker fan, but I do follow the Clips...and they've fucked up so many times, maybe the league literally had to shove a great player to the team.  You could ask anyone on the Clippers staff to make you a sandwich, and an hour later you'd find a ring of bologna on the floor and the bread unopened as they "are in the process of moving forward."  So, again, merely as a fan, I think this is fantastic! 

Then again...maybe it's the fact that a fucking sleazeball runs the league and the team I've chosen to give mild interest to is one of the worst over its history...maybe that's why I don't like the NBA.  Enough about me, how are those Clippers car flags coming?

December 12, 2011

The Orlando Coffee Filters

Want to know the sure-fire way to fail at running a sports organization?

Start taking advice from your players as to who you should acquire.

I don't know who this Otis Smith is.  If it's the same guy whose NBA Hoops card I had back in the early 90s, then I have to say, nice knee-pads.  But one thing I do know is that he sounds like he's lucky to have a job.

From what I can gather on the Magic, their success has been pretty simple.  They got the first pick and drafted Dwight Howard.  Then, as teams will do, they began the almighty Pursuit To Surround The Star Player With A Talented Team.  They went after Rashard Lewis, which seemed like a steep price to pay, but it worked out.  They drafted Jameer Nelson, which was a good choice.  They lucked into a resurgent year from Hedo Turkey, and they went to the Finals.  That was neat.

Since then, there has been MOUNTAINS of coffee on the floor.

Vince Carter.  Gilbert Arenas.  Jason Richardson.  Quentin Richardson.  Just one fail after another, as Dwight's prime wastes away.  Hey, you don't have explain this shit to me.  We lived through Bowl of Kandi and Anthony Peeler.  It's no fun trying to fit pieces together that just don't fit.

But when you start letting the star player have input on personnel moves, you're days are numbered.

You can't win in that situation, Otis.  If you do what he wants, sure he might be happy, but that's just going to erode your power.  If you say no, you piss him off and then he comes out and demands a trade.  By the time you've said "Hey Dwight, what do you think about...", you've lost.

What's the solution?  How about DO YOUR JOB.

When someone is the GM of a team, they have the ultimate and final say.  They take input from their staff, but it all comes down to them.  Who is their "staff"?  The people they hire specifically to advise them.  Unless I'm mistaken, Dwight's paycheck doesn't contain an "advising" salary.  He's really good at basketball.  Probably not so much at navigating the salary cap.

But this is the world of a modern-day NBA GM.  There are literally 10 of them that are competent.  The rest are running around making decisions with absolutely no thought to any sort of organizational plan.  Every move occurs in a vacuum.  "Hey we got this guy, we should build our team aroun- ARE YOU OFFERING ME CHRIS KAMAN, YES I WILL TAKE HIM."  To teams like the Lakers, Heat, Mavs, Knicks, etc, it doesn't matter... because players will fall into their laps.  If LA dumps Odom and Pau, they'll just get back Howard.  But teams like Milwaukee and Philly.... you have to have a goddamned plan.  You have to put pieces in slowly, and develop them into a cohesive team.  It's the same with Orlando.  Big moves aren't going to fall into your lap.  You have to build it one piece at a time.

So, as it starts to erode for the Magic, we learn another great lesson about the NBA.  Stars are going to do whatever they want, and the GM position is really just a joke for the majority of the teams in the league.  Why even have one if you're just going to ask your star who he would rather play with?  "Hey I played with this guy back in B-more, we should sign him even though he doesn't believe in playing defense."

The good thing for Dwight?  If he gets traded to the Lakers, he won't have to worry about a GM not taking his advice.  He'll just have a constant rotation of superstars stopping over in LA on their way to a gift championship.

Sometimes this league just brings me down.

December 8, 2011

Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches, try to find Jesus, on your own...

That ol' train is roaring down the line, and we're banking hard into another season of gambling and basketball. First, let's lay a few lines down and see where this gets us:

Derrick Williams +350
Ricky Rubio +800

Hmmmmmm.... this is tough. At first glance, I would say no way is Williams going to get this, because the Wolves aren't going to run the type of offense that is going to feature him (I'm thinking Love is going to be getting Hogg Points all year long). But look at the rest of that rookie class: Enes Kanter is +500, as is Jimmer Fredette. Ugh. Neither of them has a chance in hell. But then, in order for Williams to do well, Rubio's going to have to get him the ball, which should boost his own totals. There's no way you take Rubio to win rookie of the year, unless they base that award on "number of re-donkey-kong passes he throws between his legs". He's likely to get tired in the second half of the season and they'll likely be out of contention before that anyway. So, Williams? Sure, I guess. Why not?

Kevin Durant +400

Isn't this free money? Look at the other guys at +400: Derrick Rose and LeBron. Ok, Rose has a shot... but the Bulls won't be as good this year as they were last year, and I don't trust him to be able to lift the entire team. And LeBron? HA HA HA, Wade won't let him win the MVP. He'll take it away like a parent takes away a child's toy. So doesn't Durant make the most sense? He's the clear points leader not only on the team but in the Western conference. And the team keeps getting better... this could be the year that the Thunder go to the finals. Oh, maybe the Lakers will knock them off... oh wait, who is the coach again? WRONG CHOICE.

NBA Championship
Miami Heat +250

I know. It pains me too.

Look, I went at this thing from every possible angle. I considered a fellow blog who mentioned that the Clippers at 50-1 was a decent long-shot, being that they are a team on the rise and could swing a mid-season trade. Or the Magic, who could get hot in Dwight's last year and make 20-1 look like a steal.

But let's be honest. This is Team Stern. The two favorites to win the title this year are Miami and the Lakers. The Bulls are not far behind. Stern still believes that the way the NBA grows stronger is if the same 4-5 teams keep making deep runs year after year. Parity is his enemy. He likes the little guys to put up fights, but he knows that the big stars are what get the big ratings. He'll have the Heat in the championship again if it kills him. Same with the Lakers... they are aging and will be coached by a buffoon. But do you know how popular Kobe is around the world? Instant Finals ticket. I'd love to sit here and say "MEMPHIS HAS GOT A SHOT IF THEY STAY HEALTHY", but they don't. Sorry. David won't let them.