Thursday, August 27, 2009

The I Don't Care What You Think About Me Players of the NBA

(Photo from streetball)
This is a continuation to the "Message to NBA Player Twitter Users," regarding being politically correct and always saying the right answer. Fading fast are those players who simply don't give a lick what you think about them and they are going to do their own thing no matter what. Inspired by Slam Magazine's article in issue 131 page 34 titled "Final Answer?"

It was AI, the rookie, who signaled a new period in '96-97, when he crossed over MJ and said, "My heroes don't wear suits." Like he'd say years later regarding the dress code, "just because you put a guy in a tuxedo, it doesn't mean he's a good guy. It sends a bad message to kids. If you don't have a suit on when you go to school, is the teacher going to think you're a bad kid? I never wore a suit going in any park I ever went to when I was coming up."
-Dave Zirin, Slam Magazine

AI brought the hip hop culture to the NBA, and according to him, is the reason David Stern came up with the dress code. AI always wore what he wanted to wear with plenty of chains, du-rags to cover his cornrows, and baggy clothing. He did his own thing and didn't care what others thought about it.

Famous is his "practice" press conference in which he honestly felt it wasn't a big deal that he missed practice (in his 76ers days). Again, he was himself in the press conference and let his point be known without giving into the constant questions about his practice habits. This post isn't to defend AI about his practice habits, it's to show that he isn't afraid to let his real thoughts be known.

The NBA stars now are always saying the right things in press conferences, interviews, and the like. How many times have we heard after a game, "They played great defense, but we were able to come out on top thanks to some great play by our guys." One of the biggest stars to do this is Kobe Bryant. It seems like after every game, he always says what the player is "supposed" to say after a game. Here he is after Game 1 (win) of the Finals in the press conference.



"We need to forget about this win and move on."
"We had to work hard, we were very active."
"This team is extremely resilient." (The Magic)
"It's one game. No big deal."
Last question: "Do you feel like you can take advantage of this guy (Courtney Lee) at any opportunity that you so choose?"
"No I don't think so, I think that's doing him a tremendous discredit, cuz even though he's a rookie, he's a very very solid defensive player."

Here's Kobe after an exhibition win over Russia.



"We played with more energy."
"Just taking shots when they're there"
"I enjoy the challenge of guarding him, he's a great scorer"

Same kind of answers that almost any news article after a game quotes from any player. Granted, Kobe has been in trouble in the past and knows that every word he says and every move he makes is being watched by almost any fan or hater. That doesn't take away the same kind of answers that any other team's star says.

Lebron James after game 4 win over the Hawks last playoffs.



"Delonte was awesome. He's our glue to our whole team."
"You can't lose focus at any time"
"Certain fans think it's a great idea for them to get out of control sometimes."
"Celtics or Magic? Who would you prefer?" "We're looking forward to the challenge" (What NBA player has ever said they would prefer one team over another when they have to wait for the outcome of another series? Seriously, comment if someone has.)
"We were able to stay poised, this is a really good team" (The Hawks).
"Why should we celebrate? We're playing for a championship"

You see the similarities at least in approach to the questions being asked. Always being politically correct, always giving credit where it may not be due. Is Delonte really the glue that holds the team together? I think that credit goes to the speaker. And of course, probably any player would not take credit for himself, but the other questions where he carefully decides how he's going to phrase it shows that he knows he's being watched and knows how he must present himself. So goes the price of being one of the top super stars in the league.

But there are stars in the league who do have fewer filters and make for more enjoyable interviews where the fans can see how a player really feels and acts around a team regardless of whether or not there are cameras around.

#2 Rasheed Wallace

(Photo from bothteamsplayedhard)
Rasheed Wallace for the past decade seems to always speak his mind and not care what the media or fans have to say about it. Also doing his own thing with his free dress before the dress code, but more well known for what he says both on and off the court. No matter what, he's going to say what he wants to.

Here's Rasheed Wallace after a Piston win over the Mavericks:


Q: "Chauncey was getting his buckets as well tonight..."
Sheed: "'Bout time! Chauncey ain't hittin no damn shots, sike nah..."
By the way, Chauncey in his previous 4 games had shot 5-16, 5-17, 3-10 and 2-10. This win over the Mavs, he shot 8-14.

Q: "Looking forward to going home tonight and playing in front of folks tomorrow?"
Sheed: "Nah cuz now I gotta handle all these damn tickets."

Sheed was telling the real story and was candid and real about it. It is who he is to simply tell things how they are/how he sees it.

After a loss when he was a Blazer, and dealing with the usual open ended questions that any player would probably hate to answer after a tough loss, Rasheed did what any player wants to do after a loss and sidestep every question with the ultimate politically correct response, "Both teams played hard" and wrapped up with "God bless and good night."



Outside of the press, Sheed is known for being loud and obnoxious, and being a trash talker. He doesn't care how he's seen by the media. He's going to do his thing just like he's always done it. Whether it's trash talking to his teammates and the opposing team, trash talking the fans, or trash talking the refs' calls, Rasheed will make sure his real thoughts are known, which is becoming less and less common around the NBA. He also has fun with the TNT crew.

#3 Ron Artest

(Photo from hoopiquity)
Great defensive player, great competitor, doesn't care what you think about him. Shaving Tru Warier, the Rockets logo, or the Kings logo in to his hair, openly giving out his phone number on twitter, supposedly announcing that the Lakers needed to be hoodalized, are all components that make Ron Artest one of the few that don't care what you think about him. He's going to say what he wants to say, and do what he wants to do.

Made infamous for his charging the fans in Detroit a few years ago, he has since calmed down but hasn't censored himself in interviews. Here he is after getting ejected for getting in Kobe's face during the Rockets-Lakers series this past playoffs.



"I KNEW I was gonna get a technical."
"The point was to hopefully let the refs know that I'm pissed."
"I went there with the intention to tell Kobe you gotta relax, you're hitting the wrong person, don't you know you're hitting Ron Artest."
"The series has been physical, I don't know how much more physical it can get."
And even the TNT crew praises his candid answers. No sweet answers like "I over reacted and I deserved to get ejected." He instead let his point be known and lived with the consequences. Real, candid, Artest.

Even more candid is when he takes us back 5 years later to his point of view of what happened that night at the Palace:



Ron just giving you his thoughts for you to digest without caring what you think about him. He's living his life however he wants to, telling his story, saying what he wants.

Read between the baselines:

It's not like these guys are all talk with no game. AI has been an MVP and 2 time all star MVP and leading scorer of the league. Rasheed Wallace was a main part of the Detroit Pistons that beat the Los Angeles Lakers for the championship in 2004. Ron Artest is an all defensive team defender and has a Defensive Player of the Year award as well. They have the walk to back up their talk.

Granted, these aren't the awards that Kobe Bryant has, nor are they the player that Kobe is or Lebron is, who are always being taped, watched, and listened to. But Iverson has had his share of #1 jersey sales and his own shoe line. He has things to lose, but it is his image that he's lived that sells jerseys, shoes and tickets. These big three are REAL both on and off the court, and that's something that sets them apart from the rest of the league and gives them their own image.

But it seems that the new batch of players from Brandon Roy (no Kobe is way better), to Dwight Howard (Free throws weren't falling) to Dwyane Wade (Leave it all on the floor) are saying the "right" thing to say in interviews and post game press conferences. AI, Sheed and Ron won't be around for too much longer, and while appreciating their game, maybe we should appreciate their candidness and their willingness to be themselves.

Those are the facts, and that's one way to read between the [base]lines.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Recent quick hits of the NBA off season you might want to be aware of:

(Photo from lowposts)

Orlando Magic sign Jason Williams out of retirement for one year and $1.3 million. After trading away Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee and Tony Battie to the Nets for Vince Carter, the Magic were left with their PG position players at the start of last season with all star Jameer Nelson and Anthony Johnson. Between the baseline reason why the Magic felt they needed a playmaker in Jason Williams? Nelson and Johnson were the PGs before Rafer came. But when Nelson went down, Alston helped them get to the finals. Perhaps a playmaking guard off the bench is VITAL to the team's success when Nelson is on the bench. But if Nelson goes down and Williams leads them to the Finals... maybe Stan Van Gundy sticks with what gets him there this time around.


Quentin Richardson traded for the fourth time to the Miami Heat for Mark Blount from Twolves. Q Rich isn’t good. Isn’t going to be the sole reason Wade stays in Miami. With a PER rating of 11.6 and averages of 10.2/4.4/1.6 and 1.7 3ptm (4.6 3ptA), Q Rich isn't the Ying to Wade's Yang. Which is why you read between the baselines. Q Rich is in the last year of his contract and in the Free Agent class of 2010, the Heat will have $9.35 million off of their plate to get Wade some REAL help. Mark Blount is also in the last year of his contract but owed $7.9 million. So with Q Rich, they have more money to get rid of (?) for the FA class of 2010.


And what’s the deal with writers reporting that because two players are good friends, they will automatically be happy and have a good season? This happened two years ago when Kevin Garnett was almost a Laker and one of the selling points was that 3rd team pg bench warmer Shammond Williams was his cousin. Just because they are cousins, that will be the deal maker? (By the way, KG didn't go to the Lakers even when his COUSIN WAS THERE, who got cut from the team that year, anyway).

Leon Powe signed with Cleveland Cavaliers. Of course he won’t be able to play until after the All Star break. But this is a very nice addition if and only if Powe is able to play at the level he played at during the 2008 Finals. Powe provides energy and skill and can create problems for other teams. But he also has a knee issue. He signed for 2 years for the minimum a 3 year player can get. His reasoning, trying to get his knee back in shape and sign for more money in 2 years. This is probably why the Celtics didn't re-sign him. They’ll probably put a lot of money toward retaining Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins anyway and they'll need the roster space and can't afford (playing wise) to have a player take up roster space to sit on the bench. Cavaliers are thinking they need all the help they can get at a price they can afford for a playoff run to please King James.


The Clippers waived Mark Madsen. And if you read RBTB’s previous post regarding the Clippers, you’ll see that although Madsen is a “good locker room guy” (whatever that means), he was due 2.8 million that came off the books next year. If they could get him off the books sooner, even better for the Clippers. Good for Mark too because I doubt he'd get much playing time (even though he hasn't had decent playing time for almost his entire career) behind Griffin, Camby, Kaman and Deandre Jordan. But these are the fragile fragile big men of the Clippers we're talking about...

Amare Stoudemire is 50/50 about returning to the Suns next year. Can you blame him? The Suns aren’t good anymore. Steve Nash, Amare, Grant Hill and Jason Richardson is not greater than or equal to Steve Nash, Amare, Grant Hill, Boris Diaw, Raja Bell and one of Shawn Marion or Shaq. Amare hasn’t cemented anything about his legacy other than All Star appearances and a rookie of the year award. His future in Phoenix looks dim.


The Atlanta Hawks signed Joe Smith (his 10th team). Terms weren't disclosed but it would be safe to assume it's the league's veteran minimum like Jason Williams of the Magic ($1.3 million/1 year). Joe Smith is ol' reliable and averaged 6.6/4.6 last season for the Thunder and Cavaliers. He'll likely average the same in Atlanta behind Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia.


Those are the facts. And that's a couple ways to read between the [base]lines.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Message to all NBA twitter users:

(Photo from laist)

Dear NBA players on Twitter, read between your own baselines.

Facts:

Anyone who has dealt with social networking sites such as Facebook or Myspace knows the risks, consequences, and vulnerability they take on when putting themselves out there into cyberspace for the world to see. And that’s essentially it, the WORLD sees everything you post onto your own personal online billboard of yourself. Once out there, it can never be taken back.

For the less computer savvy people who may try to prove that statement wrong, here’s an real world, recent example to help put things in perspective of how costly one post may be. Michael Beasley posts a picture of his new and very uncool tattoo with a plastic bag of something in the background. HERE IT IS. Lower right hand corner: possible marijuana bags.


(Super cool beas? Are you serious Mike? Anyway) His twitter followers see it, accuse him of doing drugs, and he says, “Oops” and deletes the picture. No one else sees it right? Wrong. It just takes one of those twitter followers to right click that picture, “save image as”, put it on their computer, and then email it to a couple friends, who email it to their friends, who put it on their facebook, myspace and twitter pages, for all of THEIR friends to see it and the virus goes all throughout the WORLD. Even though Beasley deleted it off of his site, it can still be produced and multiplied with a simple save command many internet users can do. (Photo credit: ALL OVER GOOGLE IMAGES including mashable).

For the past year, twitter has been gaining popularity among NBA players, who use twitter in a variety of ways. Kevin Love was in the news for breaking the story about his then coach, Kevin Mchale, not returning as head coach. His twitter followers knew before the team officially announced the news. Allen Iverson very recently posted that he was close to signing a deal with what many people believe to be is the Charlotte Bobcats. His agent didn’t break the story, nor did an NBA team, it came directly from Allen Iverson.

Another use for twitter is simply connecting with fans. Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay seem to just talk with their fans and answer questions. Rudy Gay has gone live on video while taking tweet questions from his followers and answering them live on his computer camera. And I’m sure you’re aware of Stephon Marbury’s more than personal, well publicized live feeds. In fact, you can watch him all the time at http://www.justin.tv/starburytv.

Probably the most popular NBA player to use Twitter is Shaq. High profile stars tweet high profile messages such as during the NBA Finals where Shaq tweeted that he wanted Kobe to win his fourth ring. After the Lakers won the final, Shaq tweeted:

As for the followers, Sports writers are using twitter as a primary source for their stories. What better source is there for a story other than a message coming from a player’s mouth/tweet (besides the player’s agent maybe). After Kevin Love’s tweet about his coach, sports sites, and radio shows were alive with the news.

NBA players are being held accountable for each tweet and for each picture. The world is seeing it. Few NBA players have private accounts, but if you request an add to see their tweets, they usually oblige. All you have to do is google “twitter” + “player’s name” (Shaq, Allen Iverson, Mark Madsen) and google will come up their twitter site for THE WORLD to see.

Read between the baselines:

The non celebrity facebook/myspace generation has been snowballed with warnings, commercials, and fail stories of how facebook and myspace lead to users being killed, raped, fired, and having their names’ ruined. We’ve seen sports players without the help of twitter get into trouble with the

law with strip clubs and guns, dog fights and DUI Manslaughters. We’ve seen sports stars candidly express their opinions on camera (a live tweet, if you will) about gays in the NBA (Tim Hardaway two years ago and Brendan Haywood more recently). How about Brandon Jennings right after he was drafted caught on tape and youtube saying a whole bunch of things about Rubio, the Knicks, and Scott Skiles. They didn’t know it was controversial and not politically correct, who’s to stop a player from tweeting something of the same nature?

Sports Stars who tweet frequently put themselves at risk of putting something out there for the WORLD to see that shouldn’t be out there. Today it starts with JR Smith using K’s instead of C’s to possibly distinguish oneself as a member of the Blood gangs opposed to Crips [side note: by the way, if a little 13 year old girl says “kute” instead of “cute” and “take kare” instead of “take care,” would she be accused of the same thing? I’m just saying…]. It starts with divulging team business before it hits the press. It starts with a plastic bag that might contain marijuana.

Where will it go from there? Think about it. If a plastic bag is seen in the background, what else could be found in the background of a room. What if a box of condoms is found in the background. White powder? Firearms? A poster of a swastika? What if a player tweets something about a teammate he wasn’t supposed to do. “In Vegas with Joe Schmoe with the team… he’s tripping out on E!” These haven’t happened yet, but could they? It’s hard to say it will never happen and with the examples above of players or ex players saying things they maybe shouldn’t live on TV or caught on youtube when they are just speaking their minds, thinking it’s innocent, who’s to say other players won’t do the same on their twitter pages?

Michael Beasley and JR Smith probably did the best thing after their controversies, which was to delete their accounts. Because every controversy is one picture, tweet, or youtube video away from being yesterday’s news. But that’s not to say that a controversy in the past is a controversy forgotten. All over the internet, Kobe is still labeled a rapist (but for the record, was never found guilty of said rape). Michael Vick will always be a dog torturer. Of course a bag of possible marijuana isn’t as big as these felonies, but in the future, we may see an escalated twitter incident. Or a twincident? Anyway…

Are NBA players perfect role models? No. No one is. We all have our vices but the media will eat a celebrity/sports star alive and that’s the price you pay for being a celebrity/sports star. It ruins endorsement contracts. What corporation wants to endorse drug users, promiscuity, racism or homophobia? Kobe lost endorsements after his rape charges. Michael Vick lost his job and had a rough time finding suitors to sign him again afterhis Dog Fighting Fiasco. Michael Phelps lost endorsements when he was photographed smoking marijuana (photo from hollywooddame).

What do they need to do? Honestly, when you’re a high profile celebrity as almost anyone in the NBA is, you need a publicist regulating what you put out. Is this a cry for fake tweet posts that are always politically (boringly) correct and taking away the voice of the NBA player? No. But maybe before a player puts out a tweet he’s not sure about, he runs it by a publicist beforehand. Maybe before posting a picture, they have some friends take a look to see if there’s anything controversial in the background. Maybe before they divulge team business, they ask their coach or a teammate if it would be okay.

Free speech is what makes America America and Twitter is a great way to use that free speech in a way that lets fans connect with their idols in a way no other sports star was able to do in previous years. When was the last time you could directly tweet Ron Artest (or let alone CALL HIM) and have him answer a question or simply say, “what’s up?” Two years ago there was a barrier between the fans and players. And the only time to talk to them was if you saw them driving by on the street in your hometown. Now fans from all across the world can say whatever they want to Dwight Howard or Chris Bosh. But that free speech comes with a cost. No they won't go to jail for what they tweet, but they can embarass themselves and put their jobs and professional relationships at risk. For example, although it’s legal to say, “I like drugs,” it won’t go over well the media, endorsers, and the team you play for.

Does RBTB care that Beasley may be doing drugs? Absolutely not. RBTB only reads between the baselines of what goes on in the NBA, we judge the players strictly by what they do: their play on the court (and their contract situations). But these players have to know who else is watching what they do. Answer, again, the WORLD. What they do in their private time is their own business. So NBA players, keep your own business where it’s supposed to be: in privacy. Think before you post. It’s easier for John Smith who works at Albertsons to tweet “Smoking weed” than it is for Shaq to tweet the same message (No, Shaq did not actually post “smoking weed”). NBA players-- nay, all celebrities are being watched by the media 24/7 for slipups and twitter gives said media (TMZ and the like) a window to the private lives of those celebrities, all from their computers, iphones and blackberrys, one tweet at a time.

Those are the facts. And that's one way to read between the [base]lines.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ex Warriors who have made it to the NBA Finals

(Photo from NBAtradeJournal)

Most basketball heads talk about how the Warriors let great/pretty good players go such as Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Jason Richardson, Baron Davis, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, etc. And yeah, these guys are pretty darn good at what they do and yes, the Warriors have hardly been the team to beat since letting those players go. But while they've produced nice numbers and made the playoffs, they've never been to the Finals. Those that did leave the Warriors were mainly role players and no stars on the team they were representing in the said Finals. Just something to keep in mind. Read between your baselines.

Here is a list of ex warriors players who have made the finals since the 1999-2000 season. Bolded are the ones who actually won the championship. In parenthesis are how many years after they left the warriors they made it to the Finals. Listed in order of how quickly they made the finals after leaving the Warriors.

DJ Mbenga, 2008 and 2009 Lakers, 2008 Warriors (1yr)
  • Best year with Warriors: First half of 2007-2008, 1.2 pts, 1.9 reb, .6 blk, 39% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2008-2009, 2.7 pts, 1.3 reb, 1 blk, 47% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: Same as above
Mickael Pietrus 2009 Magic, 2004-2008 Warriors (1 yr)
  • Best year with Warriors: 2006-2007, 11 pts, 4.5 reb, 1.3 3ptm, 48.8% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: 2007-2008, 7.2 pts, 3.7 reb, 1 3ptm, 43.9% FG
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2008-2009, 9.4 pts, 3.3 reb, 1.5 3ptm, 41.3% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: Same as above
Adonal Foyle 2009 Magic, 1998-2007 Warriors (2 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 2000-2001, 5.9 pts, 7 reb, 2.7 blk, 41.6% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: 2006-2007, 2.2 pts, 2.6 reb, 1 blk, 56.5% FG
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2009 Orlando, 1.9 pts, 2.9 reb, .9 blk, 63.6% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: Same as above

Erick Dampier, 2006 Mavericks, 1998-2004 Warriors (2 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 2003-2004, 12.3 pts, 12 reb, 1.9 blk, 53.5% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2004-2005 Mavs, 9.2 pts, 8.5 reb, 1.4 blk, 55% FG
  • Year on the finals team: 2005-2006 Mavs, 5.7 pts, 7.8 reb, 1.3 blk, 49.3% FG
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: See 2004-2005 Mavs above

Derek Fisher, 2008 and 2009 Finals, 2005-06 Warriors (2 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 2005-2006, 13.3 pts, 2.1 reb, 4.3 ast, 1.5 st, 1.4 3ptm, 41% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2007-2008 Lakers, 11.7 pts, 1.8 reb, 2.9 ast, 1.0 st, 1.4 3ptm, 43.6% FG
  • Year on the finals team: see above and 2008-2009 Lakers, 9.9 pts, 2.3 reb, 3.2 ast, 1.2 st, 1.5 3 ptm, 42.4% FG
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: See 2008-2009 Lakers above

Josh Powell, 2009 Finals, 2007 Warriors (2 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 2006-2007, 3.5 pts, 2.3 reb, 52.6% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2008-2009 Lakers, 4.2 pts, 2.9 reb, 44.4% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: 2007-2008 Clippers, 5.5 pts, 5.2 reb, 46% FG

Brian Shaw - 2000-2002 Lakers, 1998 Warriors (2 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 1998, 6.4 pts, 3.9 reb, 4.4 ast, 33.6 FG%
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2000-2001 Lakers, 5.3 pts, 3.8 reb, 3.2 ast, 39.9% FG
  • Year on the finals team: 1999-2000 Lakers, 4.1 pts, 2.9 reb, 2.7 ast, 38.2% FG, above 2001 Lakers, 2001-2002 Lakers, 2.9 pts, 1.9 reb, 1.5 ast, 35.3% FG
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: See above 2000-2001 Lakers

Chris Mullin - 2000 Pacers, 1986-1997 Warriors (3 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 1988-89 26.5 pts, 5.9 reb, 5.1 ast, 2.1 stl, 50.9% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: 1996-97 14.5 pts, 4 reb, 4.1 ast, 1.6 stl, 53.3% FG
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 1997-98 Pacers, 11.3 pts, 3 reb, 2.3 ast, 1.2 stl, 48.1% FG
  • Year on the finals team: 1999-2000 Pacers 5.1 pts, 1.6 reb, .8 ast, 42.8% FG
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: 1997-98 season above.

Larry Hughes, 2007 Cavs, 2000-2002 Warriors (5 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 2000-2001, 16.5 pts, 5.5 reb, 4.5 ast, 1.9 stl, 38.3% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: 2001-2002, 12.3 pts, 3.4 reb, 4.3 ast, 1.5 stl, 42.3% FG
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2005-2006 Cavs, 15.5 pts, 4.5 reb, 3.6 ast, 1.5 stl, 40.9% FG
  • Year on the finals team: 2006-2007 Cavs, 14.9 pts, 3.8 reb, 3.7 ast, 1.3 stl, 40% FG
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: 2004-2005 Wizards, 22 pts, 6.3 reb, 4.7 ast, 2.9 stl (league leader), 43% FG

Kevin Willis - 2003 Spurs, 1996 Warriors (7 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: Second half of 1995-1996 season, 11.3 pts, 7.8 reb, 43.3% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2002-2003 Spurs, 4.2 pts, 3.2 reb, 47.9% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: 1997-1998 Rockets, 16.1 pts, 8.4 reb, 51% FG

Damon Jones, 2007 Cavs, 2000 Warriors (7 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: First half of 1999-2000 season, 5.2 pts, 3 ast, 46.3% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Sames as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2005-2006 Cavs, 6.7 pts, 2.1 ast, 38.7% FG
  • Year on the finals team: 2006-2007 Cavs, 6.6 pts, 1.6 ast, 38.6% FG
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: 2004-2005 Heat, 11.6 pts, 4.3 ast, 2.7 3ptm, 45.6% FG

Donyell Marshall 2007 Cavs, 1995-2000 Warriors (7 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 1999-2000, 14.2 pts, 10 reb, 2.6 ast, 1.1 stl, 1.1 blk, 39.4% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2005-2006 Cavs, 9.3 pts, 6.1 reb, .7 ast, .7 stl, .5 blk, 39.5% FG
  • Year on the finals team: 2006-2007 Cavs, 7 pts, 4 reb, .6 ast, .5 stl, .5 blk, 42.4% FG
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: Second half of 2003-2004 season on Toronto, 16.2 pts, 10.7 reb, 1.4 ast, 1.2 stl, 1.6 blk, 46.7% FG

Tyrone Hill - 2001 76ers, 1991-1993 Warriors (8 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors:1992-1993, 8.6 pts, 10.2 reb, 50.8% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2000-2001 76ers, 9.6 pts, 9 reb, 47.4% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: 1994-1995 Cavs, 13.8 pts, 10.9 reb, 50.4% FG

Mitch Richmond - 2002 Lakers, 89-91 Warriors (11 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 1990-1991, 23.9 pts, 5.9 reb, 3.1 ast, 1.6 stl, 49.4% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2001-2002 Lakers, 4.1 pts, 1.5 reb, .9 ast, .3 stl, 40.5% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team:1996-1997 Kings, 25.9 pts, 3.9 reb, 4.2 ast, 1.5 stl, 45.4% FG

Tony Massenburg, 2005 Spurs, 1992 Warriors (13 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 7 games of last part of 1991-1992 Warriors, 2.3 pts, 1.7 reb, 62.5% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2004-2005 Spurs, 3.2 pts, 2.7 reb, 40.7% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team:1998-1999 Vancouver Grizzlies, 11.2 pts, 6 reb, 48.7% FG
Read between the baselines

None of these players were THE MAN on the team that made the finals. Most were role players not providing any real help with the exception of Larry Hughes, Mickael Pietrus, Derek Fisher, and a little bit of Donyell Marshall. The stars on the Warriors that made the Finals with other teams were mainly just along for the ride (Mitch Richmond, Chris Mullin). Erick Dampier seemed to provide his Warrior-like numbers as a starting center for the Dallas Mavericks. Larry Hughes provided some nice scoring and defensive numbers for the Cavs, also as a starter. And Derek Fisher got some nice exposure this year during the Finals with his cluth 3 pt shooting, but still, not a star, but a nice role player to have.

As for the latest stars to depart from the Warriors? Baron Davis is rebuilding on the Clippers. Gilbert Arenas is cashing in nicely for being hurt most of the time. Antawn Jamison is watching him from the court on a losing Wizards squad. Jason Richardson is in Phoenix as the playoffs seem further away with the loss of Shaq and Amare talking about maybe leaving next year. Finally, Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy are close to making the playoffs in Indiana, but Dunleavy's been hurt this past season. Good players, but what do they have to show for it? Don't be so quick to bash the Warriors. Hopefully, for their sake, Stephen Curry and Anthony Randolph can do some good things for the Bay Area Basketball fans.

Those are the facts. And that's one way to read between the [base]lines.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dallas off-season moves, hello Shawn Marion!

(Photo from TutorialDog)
The Dallas Mavericks haven't really bounced back since losing in 6 games to the Miami Heat in the Finals of the 2005-2006 season. After that season they lost in the first round to the Golden State Warriors, and after that season, they lost in the first round to the New Orleans Hornets and this past season, they lost in the 2nd round to the Denver Nuggets. They had some decisions to make this off-season and they haven't thrown in the towel. Instead of letting the Lakers repeat, the Celtics retake the league, the Spurs and Richard Jefferson to come back or Orlando or Cleveland to win their first championship, Mark Cuban opened his wallet and let it rain.

Facts:
  • Dallas trades Jerry Stackhouse (to the Grizzlies), Devean George and Antoine Wright (to the Raptors) for Shawn Marion, Kris Humphries, and Greg Buckner.
  • Dallas signs F/C Drew Gooden for one year.
  • Dallas re-signs PG Jason Kidd for three years.
  • Dallas signs F Tim Thomas for one year.
  • Dallas signs G Quinton Ross (undisclosed details).
  • Dallas signed Orlando C Marcin Gortat, but Orlando matched the offer, keeping him in Orlando.
Contracts:
  • Shawn Marion was signed (and traded) for 5 years/$39 million (average $7.8 mil per year).
  • Kris Humphries is owed $3.2 mil with a player option for $3.2 mil in 2010.
  • Greg Buckner is owed $4 mil with a player option for $4.2 mil in 2010.
  • Drew Gooden was signed for $4.5 mil, FA in 2010.
  • Jason Kidd was signed for 3 years/$25 million (average $8.3 mil per year).
  • Tim Thomas was signed for the veteran minimum: $1.3 million.
  • Quinton Ross' details were undisclosed.
Read between the baselines:
(Photo from reclinergm)
The big deal here is for Shawn Marion who is nicknamed the Matrix. Anyone who has played in a fantasy basketball league knows exactly what Shawn Marion is capable of and why he is called the Matrix. His last 2 years in Miami and Toronto, he was playing on the fly, but if we go back to his last FULL year in Phoenix (granted it was a run and gun offense) he scored 17.5 points on 52% FG, grabbed 9.8 rebounds, 1 3pter, 2 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. Short story shorter, he does it all. Here's what HoopsHype has to say about him:

"One of the best athletes in the league, outstanding leaping skills, jumps high and many times in a short period of time [pogo stick-like], drives to the basket without fear, runs the floor with the best of them, great defender, guards multiple positions, never gets tired."

He had 2 let down seasons when he was traded for Shaq to Miami, then traded to Tornoto for Jermaine O'Neal. Traded away from 2x MVP Steve Nash. Now in Dallas, he has a future hall of famer PG in Jason Kidd. It's safe to assume he will produce Matrix like numbers in Dallas. And for only $8 million a year, that seems like a great investment, even if he does fall off in the last couple years of the 5 year deal, but even that seems unlikely.

Greg Buckner and Kris Humphries were throwins in the deal, but that's not to say they can't contribute. Although Buckner isn't an offensive threat, he does have good defense. Humphries who's only been in the league for 5 years is a solid enough PF who could supply some decent bench minutes.

Tim Thomas, who seems to have been on every team in the league and is now a Maverick, can be a dependable 3 pt threat and has some offensive moves of his own. He's fallen off in the past couple seasons but he's played for the Clippers, Knicks, and only a handful of games for the Bulls. On a steady, solid playoff team like the Mavericks, he can contribute, if he knows his role.

Quinton Ross, another ex-Clipper, is known for his defense and can really lock on to players. He's been asked to guard the top scorers on opposing teams (at least during his time with the Clippers). He could be a very nice addition to the Dallas bench. The Mavericks are putting some D back in Dallas.

And last but not least, Jason Kidd, who at 36 years old can still produce close to triple double numbers. He's in the right situtaion with lots of offensive threats running alongside him. Another season of 9pts, 8 ast, and 6 rebounds with 2 steals, and a 3pter isn't out of the question. 3 years at 25 million is about what he's worth. And the Mavs couldn't let a player like Kidd go without having anyone to run the offense the way he does.

Last season, Dallas ranked 17th in DEF EFF, allowing 105.3 points per 100 possessions (next in line were Chicago, Indiana, Memphis and Oklahoma) The additions of Shawn Marion, Buckner and Ross could bring that number down a bit. Dallas didn't lose any key players (Jerry Stackhouse only played in 10 games last season, Devean George played minimal minutes in only 43 games, although Antoine Wright started at SG for a good portion of the season and playoffs, his loss will be reconciled with the new additions). Dallas may have to move around some positions to work out the details in the starting lineup, but they have versatile players who can play multiple positions.

Probable starting lineup/bench for the upcoming season:

PG: Jason Kidd/Jason Terry
SG: Josh Howard?/Jason Terry/Matt Carroll
SF: Shawn Marion/Tim Thomas
PF: Dirk Nowitzki/Drew Gooden/Tim Thomas
C: Erick Dampier/Drew Gooden/Kris Humphries

This is a deep team and Shawn Marion can fit in seemingly without disrupting any team chemistry. And with the supporting role players the Mavs have added, the team is deep with options on both offense and defense. Dallas hasn't gotten close to getting back to the Finals since the let down in 2006. Could Shawn Marion lift them back up? The Lakers, Cavs, Celtics, Spurs and Orlando are all the likely candidates for the championship for the next coming years, but stranger things have happened in the NBA and although unlikely, this could could COULD be a team that gives the league a lot of problems in the playoffs. Mark Cuban believes in this team and has given Dirk Nowitzki some quality supporting players. If he can play like an MVP, if Josh Howard, Jason Terry, and Shawn Marion do what they do on offense and defense, and if Jason Kidd can put the pieces together, this team is scary. Oh yeah, and Dirk Nowitzki was first team all NBA last season.

Those are the facts. And that's one way to read between the [base]lines.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Brief History of the Oklahoma Thunder's current rise from the ashes like a Phoenix Fire Bird

What makes the Oklahoma Thunder different from the other less than 20 win teams of the Wizards and Kings? The Thunder have a future.


(Photo from ESPN)
The Oklahoma Thunder (formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics) had a lackluster year wins/losses-wise but they have what any losing team hopes for to allow their fans to sleep at night: a future. Let's go back in time to see some facts about the Sonics history, starting with their draft history since 2001, leading into a season by season mini breakdown starting with the last time they made the playoffs in the 2004/2005 season.

FACTS:

Draft History:

2001: Vladamir Radmanovic (12th pick)
2002: Nothing
2003: Luke Ridnour (14th), Nick Collison (12th)
2004: Robert Swift (12th)
2005: Johan Petro (25th)
2006: Mouhamed Sene (10th)
2007: Kevin Durant (2nd), Jeff Green (5th)
2008: Russell Westbrook (4th)
2009: James Harden (3rd)

Season Facts:
  • In the 2004/2005 season, the Sonics finished at the top of the Northwest division with 52 wins, good for the 3rd seed in the Western Conference, led by Ray Allen's 23.9 points and Rashard Lewis' 20.5 points, Vladamir Radmanovic's 11.8 points and Luke Ridnour's 10 points and almost 6 assists. In the playoffs, they beat the Sacramento Kings in 5 games, but then lost to the eventual champions, the San Antonio Spurs in 6 games. (By the way, Rashard Lewis did not play in those last 3 games).
  • In the 2005/2006 season, still led by Ray and Rashard scoring 25 and 20 points respectively with the help of Earl Watson and Luke Ridnour's 11.5 apiece and 5.4 and 7 assists respectively, the Sonics failed to reach the playoffs, winning only 35 games.
  • In the 2006/2007 season, again led by Ray and Rashard's 26 and 22 points per, the Sonics only won 31 games, not reaching the playoffs.
  • In the 2007/2008 season, the Sonics got some lucky bounce and landed the 2nd pick in the draft and with Portland going for Greg Oden, Kevin Durant aka Sonic Savior landed in their laps (and he turned out to be the rookie of the year). They also made a deal with the Celtics, sending Ray Allen and the 35th pick in the draft (Glen Davis) for Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, and the number 5 pick, Jeff Green. They ALSO completed a sign and trade with Rashard Lewis, sending him to Orlando for... nothing. The season was a fail with 20 wins led by Durant's 20.3 ppg (Jeff Green scored 10.5 per game). But with 20 wins, you're getting a high lottery pick as well which leads to this season:
  • In the 2008/2009 season, the Sonics changed their name and address and became the Oklahoma City Thunder, drafted Russell Westbrook (4th pick) and were highly questioned on that call when his UCLA teammate Kevin Love was still available (5th pick). The pick was not wasted as Westbrook averaged 15.3 points and 5.3 assists and 1.3 steals. The Thunder however only won 23 games. During the season, they put some more pieces together by adding Nenad Krstic and trading a draft pick (eventual Taj Gibson) to Chicago for Thabo Sefolosha.
The 2009 summer has been event for the Thunder:
Contractual information you should be aware of:
  • Etan Thomas is owed $7.35 million in 09/10 and is a FA in 2010.
  • Kevin Durant is owed $4.79 million in 09/10, team option for $6 million in 10/11, qualifying offer for $7.9 million in 11/12
  • Jeff Green is owed $3.5 mil in 09/10, team option for $4.4 million in 10/11, qualifying offer for $5.9 mil in 11/12
  • Russell Westbrook is owed $3.7 mil in 09/10, team option for $4 mil in 10/11, team option for $5 mil in 11/12.
Read between the baselines:

It's hard to fault their draft history just because they missed the playoffs a lot, but not by so much that they were guaranteed a high pick. This is kind of the worst position to be in because you don't have a shot at the championship, nor do you have a good chance for a lottery 1st, 2nd, or 3rd pick. The Sonics made due with what they had and drafted some OK players in Vladamir, Ridnour and Collison. But they also had some questionable picks in Robert Swift and Sene. They got lucky in 2007 and completely overhauled which eventually got them a "big" 3.

The "big" 3 of Durant, Green and Westbrook (with maybe a "big" 4 in Harden) are all in their rookie contracts. That's why they are paid so little when compared to other franchise players on other teams. Durant will more than likely sign a huge extension in the next coming years to keep him from leaving Oklahoma.

The Thunder though, have been very patient these past few years. They knew they had to rebuild from the ground up and with the help of Kevin Durant (pictured left) carrying the team, they've added some quality complimentary players around him. Instead of blowing the farm and over paying free agents who were available, they really stuck to giving these young guns quality minutes to get a feel for their game. If you want to learn Spanish, you don't open a text book, you go and live in Mexico for awhile and work out the kinks on the fly. If you want to be a starting QB star in the NFL, you get right out there and you get some playing time ala Peyton Manning. The Thunder is taking the same route, starting Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook, their future stars to lead them out of NBA early offseason purgatory and into the extended season of the playoffs. (Photo from Givemetherock).

The deal for Etan Thomas could be due to the fact that the Memphis Grizzlies drafted Center Hasheem Thabeet one pick before Oklahoma. Even so, the Thunder took what they felt was the best talent available in James Harden.

Oklahoma is only paying $50 million in salary to their players and are only on the hook for $20 million in 2010/2011 season. As stated, although this team has its problems in the whole WINNING category, the Thunder do have a future that it can work toward with improvements throughout the next couple years. They have the talent. Here's what Hoops Hype has to say about the big 3:

  • Kevin Durant: Great offensive repertoire, excellent shooter and ball handler for his size, very long and quite an athlete.
  • Jeff Green: Great versatility, good all-around skills.
  • Russell Westbrook (pictured right): A superior athlete, very quick, great first step, very good defender, plays both guard positions. (Photo from nicekicks)
Add to that Center Nenad Krstic's 9 points and 5 rebounds with the hulking Etan Thomas subbing in for him (and is off the books next year for an extra 7 million the Thunder can use to pay their future franchise players), and Thabo Sefolosha who is a good all around player with some nice defense, you get a team that is full of potential and is not costing an arm and a leg right now.

Probable starting lineup for the 2009/2010 season:

PG: Russell Westbrook/Shaun Livingston?
SG: James Harden/Thabo Sefolosha
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Jeff Green?/Nick Collison
C: Nenad Krstic/Etan Thomas

Is this a championship team? No. They most likely won't make the playoffs again this coming season with the Western Conference being so rough and the top teams looking to stay on top for another couple years. But this team should definitely win more than 23 games while making strides in the right direction as far as becoming a playoff team.

Patience and rebuilding are often annoying words to a team's fans but in the case of the Thunder, it figures to pay off down the road. It all started with them trading their franchise player Ray Allen, for a complimentary player in Jeff Green to go along with their new franchise player Kevin Durant. Adding Russell Westbrook and SG James Harden who keeping with the Thunder's theme of playing the young guys, should start right away, will only help these Thunder to keep improving. Other struggling teams should pay attention to how Oklahoma is turning things around, but how do you teach a team to get a lucky bounce in the lotto? Anyways...

As far as the future goes, Durant is likely to get some big money, maybe not more than $20 mil per year, but you never know. Green, Westbrook and Harden will get some nice paychecks but it's important to know that Oklahoma doesn't rake in that much money. According to Forbes, at the end of 2008, the Thunder ranked 24th out of 30 teams in how much the team was worth at $300 million and their operating income at -$9.4 million. Will they have enough to pay these guys as well as some average role players? We can only read between the baselines we have, we cannot read the future. What we do know is that their was a +12 million increase in the team's worth since last year, again, according to Forbes 2008 report. It would be a shame if this team is successful while together would have to be split up because the low market team who made the right decisions simply couldn't afford to keep it together. But so goes the business of the NBA.

But the big picture is that team does have a future. Fans don't have to live in denial about the team's potential. This team has a young core, which if everything goes right, can make some heads turn this coming season.

Those are the facts. And that's one way to read between the [base]lines. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Reading between the baselines of Orlando's off season moves

(Photo from NachoFoto)
Orlando has been busy this offseason, but did they make some front office/financial mistakes (regardless of the talent they brought in)?

FACTS:
Contracts and ages/seasons for these new players:
  • Vince Carter: Owed $16.3 million for 2009/2010, $17.3 million in 10/11, and team option $18 million for 11/12. Carter is a 32 year old going Guard/Forward into his 12th NBA season.
  • Ryan Anderson: Owed $1.3 million for 2009/2010, team option $1.4 million in 10/11. Anderson is a 21 year old Forward/Center going into his 2nd NBA season.
  • Brandon Bass: Owed $4 million for 2009/2010, and $4 million for two seasons after that, with a player option for $4 million in 12/13. Bass is a 24 year old Forward going into his 5th NBA season.
  • Marcin Gortat: Owed $5.8 million for 2009/2010, $6.3 mil in 10/11, following years: $6.7 mil, $7.2 mil, $7.7 mil. Gortat is a 25 year old Forward/Center going into his 3rd NBA season.
  • Matt Barnes: Terms not yet listed but is signed for 2 years. Barnes is a 29 year old Guard/Forward going into his 7th NBA season.
Read between the baselines:

First things first: Why didn't the Magic re-sign Turkoglu? Turkoglu signed for 5 years and $53 million with Toronto. Instead, Orlando decided they want to pay at least $33 million for two guaranteed years for Carter. With Turkoglu in the lineup, the Magic got to the NBA Finals. Granted the Celtics probably would have beaten them in the playoffs had they been healthy (Kevin Garnett was out), but the Magic had a steady rotation and a game plan. Now they have Vince Carter, which could not work out at all. With Turkoglu, they for sure knew they would make a deep playoff run. Now without Turk and Courtney Lee (who started at SG) they have Vince Carter.

Second things second: The Brandon Bass signing makes sense. Bass will get some significant playing time at SF and had two successful seasons in Dallas. Last year he averaged 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in only 19 minutes a game. He's a banger who should fit in well with Dwight Howard playing alongside him. He's undersized at 6'8", but he's a physical player who can do some good things against some of the better PFs in the Eastern Conference.

Third things third: Matching Dallas' offer to Marcin Gortat makes absolutely no sense. It is of course, due to the long playoff run and extra exposure that Gortat received. Announcers were raving about how he's a great back up Center for Dwight. And he got to cash in with a a hefty $34 million and 5 years and a chance to start in Dallas. Now he'll ride the bench for 5 more years behind Dwight Howard. Here are some facts: Gortat for the season averaged 3.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 12 minutes per game for 63 games. In the playoffs, he scored in double figures ONCE against Philadelphia in a game where Dwight Howard was suspended, forcing Gortat to start. Against the Lakers in the Finals, he scored 4 points in 4 out of 5 games. In the fifth game (game 3 - the only Orlando win), he scored ZERO points in 4 minutes.

You just don't pay 34 million dollars for someone who produces so little and will only stay a bench player (aka not get any more minutes than he did last season). At least in Dallas, he had a chance to START or get A LOT more playing time. Even Gortat was upset about Orlando matching the offer! This is not to take anything away from Gortat who may have all the talent in the world. But what good is that talent if it's going to ride the bench and only play 12 minutes a game? That's a lot of money for little production. But so goes the extra exposure that a deep playoff run gets you where, if you're in a contract year, you are almost bound to get a big raise. It happened to Sasha Vujacic last year. But he at least averaged some solid numbers for the season. Anyways...

Fourth things fourth: The Barnes signing is a solid pickup. He's a good athlete and can spread the floor with his 3pt shooting. Something they lost when Hedo left.

When it comes down to it, the Magic really bolstered their lineup this year, perhaps with the intent to keep up with the other top teams making moves (Spurs/Richard Jefferson, Lakers/Ron Artest, Celtics/Rasheed Wallace, Cavaliers/Shaquille O'Neal). The main questionable front office move is the retaining of Marcin Gortat for such a steep price for someone who didn't prove that much worth during the season or the playoffs, and will continue to produce at such a pace, thus making him continue to not really prove that worth. In Dallas he had a chance to prove that worth, but Orlando freaked out and matched their deal.

Please watch this video and listen to how the announcers speak so highly of Gortat after he gets some stats by getting some VERY easy rebounds and playing some solid defense. By the way, this is pretty much all he did for the entire game 1: 3 minutes of some easy rebounds and a nice dunk off a pick and roll with Jameer Nelson, something any pick up basketball player at a park can do.



Probable starting lineup for the 2009/2010 season:

PG: Jameer Nelson
SG: Vince Carter
SF: Mickael Pietrus/Matt Barnes/Brandon Bass
PF: Rashard Lewis/Brandon Bass/Ryan Anderson
C: Dwight Howard/Marcin Gortat

Those are the facts. And that's one way to read between the [base]lines.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cleveland's Last Ditch Effort To Keep Lebron May Fall Short

(Above photo from Laz's Blackboard)

We are all witnesses. LeBron is a player for the ages, but his MVP season was cut short this year when his team was outdone by the Orlando Magic. A season before that, they were beaten in 7 games by the championship Celtics and the season before THAT, they were swept in the Finals by San Antonio. The additions of Mo Williams, Ben Wallace, and Delonte West didn't pan out quite the way Cavalier fans wanted (didn't win the championship, but Williams had a good year), so the Cavs went out and got Shaq in what seems to be like a last ditch effort to keep Lebron from opting out of his contract and becoming a Free Agent in 2010.

Facts:
Mo Williams
Delonte West
LeBron James
Anderson Varejao (or maybe newly acquired Jamario Moon)
Shaquille O'Neal (with Zydrunas Ilgauskus coming off the bench)

Shaquille O'Neal's contract: Owed $20 million in 2009-2010 season, FA in 2010

Read between the baselines:

Shaq's mission this season is to "Get the King his ring." Well that's all fine and great, but let's talk about the Cavaliers and their LONG TERM PLANS. Even if the Cavs do make it far into the playoffs and maybe even win the championship, the team next year will still be mainly LeBron James and Co., which begs the question, would LeBron still opt out of his contract and try and find a new team, preferably and probably one that can compete for a championship for many years rather than a bunch of last ditch attempts with aging superstars?

Shaquille O'Neal is old and has played many games. It doesn't take away the fact that he can still put up solid numbers. He was revived last season in Phoenix where ultimately fired Terry Porter tried and failed to bring the Suns to the playoffs by slowing the team's offense down and making Shaq a more focal point. It didn't work out well for the Suns, but Shaq sure had a good year. He led the league in FG% at 60.9%, scoring 17.8 points and grabbing 8.4 rebounds, all while averaging 30 minutes for 75 games (compared to the 61 games he played in 07/08 for Miami and Phoenix combined).

But many more seasons of this kind of Shaquille is asking a lot. Again, the Cavs got better with him, and do have a chance to win the championship this year, but will they compete for years to come? Not with this team. Shaq won't be asked to carry the team, but he may not even be able to play 2nd fiddle to King LeBron's reign (Enough with the King talk). The 75 games he played last season were the most since 2004/2005 in Miami when he played 73 games. In 05/06 he played 59 games, then 40 games in 06/07, and 61 games in 07/08. There's a more than decent chance that Shaq won't play a full season, leaving LeBron to play with last year's lineup, which won a lot of games, but couldn't hold up in the playoffs. Again, the Cavs did get better this season, we are talking about long term plans for the Cavs.

(Photo from First Order Historians)

Let's not forget that Shaq is also a Free Agent next summer. Would he want to keep playing in Cleveland if they don't win a championship? Even he has to think he can't hold up for any longer than three to four years. The Cavs roster so far for the 2011 season and beyond: Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao, Daniel Gibson, Jamario Moon. Not something so appealing to a superstar legend in the making without rings and an aged, decorated superstar looking to wrap up his career.

Regarding Cleveland Coaching:
Mike Brown got the Coach of the Year award this season. There were plenty of coaches who probably were more deserving but sometimes, coaches vote for whoever did the most with the least talent. The Cavs had LeBron and a nice year from Mo Pete and got the most wins in the NBA. Yes, you could argue that it takes a certain kind of coach to "deal" with a superstar in LeBron. But does LeBron need to be settled down? Besides the off court/out of game issues of not shaking Orlando's hands and the hiding of the tapes of him being dunked on, LeBron was calm, cool, and collected throughout the season, being a leader, being fun, being charismatic, and being a good teammate. What does Mike Brown do? He has him run pick and rolls until the fourth quarter and has LeBron drive and kick for almost 38 minutes a game. This is how you play weekend pick up basketball at the park.

Can LeBron lead this team to another deep playoff run with the league's best record? Yes. Will having Shaq help? YES. Will Shaq be around and play at a high level for a more than just this season to keep LeBron interested in playing in Cleveland? That's the question. Shaq cannot produce solid numbers for much longer. So if LeBron re-signs, and Shaq either retires or leaves to another team via Free Agency, LEBRON IS BACK AT SQUARE ONE.

Cleveland's pick up of Shaq is a quick fix to buy some time with no long term solution in sight. Shaq bought Cleveland a year to please the King. Next year, they may have to scramble for another star, and they may have to do it with the King in a different jersey (and some different colored drapes).

(Photo from The Crawfish Boxes)

Those are the facts. And that's one way to read between the [base]lines.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Clippers off season so far, on the way up?

(Photo from Washington Post)
The Clippers, who have been the butt of most NBA related jokes seem to be maturing in front office decision making with some trades and of course, their number one draft pick. Could this be a turnaround season for them?

FACTS:
Read between the baselines:

The Clippers had a good starting lineup last year. Baron Davis, Rookie Eric Gordon, Al Thornton, Zach Randolph, and Marcus Camby/Chris Kaman.

Injuries: Baron Davis missed 17 games, Marcus Camby missed 20 games, Chris Kaman missed 51 games, after Zach Randolph joined the team from the Tim Thomas/Cuttino Mobley trade 11 games into the season, he missed 34 games.

Compared to the top teams in the NBA, this isn't the greatest lineup, but it's serviceable and worth at least a little better than the 19 win season they put forward last year. But on those rare nights when they did have everyone healthy and able to play, their bench was nothing to brag about:

PG Mike Taylor (now waived), PF/C Brian Skinner (yikes), F Steve Novak (nice 3 pt shooter), F Mardy Collins (missed 32 games), SF Ricky Davis (missed 46 games) C Deandre Jordan (good pickup last year in 2nd round).
(Photo from Binary Basketball)
But they've made some moves. They got a lucky bounce and won the Blake Griffin sweepstakes and now have a star to build around and already some nice complimentary young players in SG Eric Gordon (16.1 pts, 2.8 ast, 1.7 3PTM), Al Thornton (16.8 pts, 5.2 reb), and Deandre Jordan who produced well enough numbers for only 15 minutes a game (for 53 games). Add to that Baron Davis for four more years, Camby and Kaman playing Center, and finally...


(Photo from Yahoo Sports)
A BENCH in PG Sebastian Telfair (9.8 pts, 4.6 ast) and F/C Craig Smith (10.1 pts, 3.8 reb, 56% FG).

Let's look at the salaries for these new additions:

Sebastian Telfair: Owed $2.5 million in 2009-2010 season, player option for $2.7 million in 2010-2011
Craig Smith: Owed $2.5 million in 2009-2010 season, FA in 2010
Mark Madsen: Owed $2.84 million in 2009-2010 season, FA in 2010

So the Clippers are off the hook for about 5 to 8 million dollars next year which is money they would probably use to help pay for Al Thornton's predicted long term contract (Team Option for 2010 and then will probably sign an extension). But that doesn't take away the fact that Telfair and Smith can PLAY. Madsen, although it's known he's a good locker room presence, you just don't trade for that kind of player who can't do much on the court. The $2.84 million off of the books for the Clippers will benefit them in 2010 and they will have a banger who can provide energy should they need it in "Mad Dog" Mark Madsen.

Other contract notes: Marcus Camby and Ricky Davis are FAs in 2010, good for another $10 million they can spend on another FA in the grand 2010 FA class.

Regarding Allen Iverson:
(Photo from National Basketblog Association)

Fact: The clippers were interested in Iverson and it was widely speculated that Donald Sterling, the Clippers' owner, wanted to sign him to sell tickets. It would have done so. Allen Iverson is fun to watch and an awesome player (and a future hall of famer), but it's just not what the Clippers need right now. Signing Iverson would stunt the growth of Eric Gordon who needs to play to become a better player, not watch Iverson try and take over games. The Clippers don't need Iverson. Dunleavy reportedly talked to Iverson about coming off the bench, a position he was insulted by in Detroit. Iverson wants to be a star, and Iverson as the star on the Clippers is not what the Clippers need.

The Clippers so far have not signed Iverson and if Yahoo Sports reporter Marc J. Spears is correct, their interest is fading. Donald Sterling has respectable team that if healthy should definitely win more than the 19 games they won last year. Blake Griffin and Baron Davis can sell tickets. This isn't the old Elton Brand led Clippers anymore. These Clippers can run up and down the court and slam the ball like an in game dunk contest.



The decision to go away from Iverson (if it holds up) shows the Clippers' maturity and patience for a team that for the first time in a long time, has a future. No, the Clippers will probably not make the playoffs this year. But if healthy, can win more than 19 games.

Probable starting line up/bench:

PG: Baron Davis/Sebastian Telfair
SG: Eric Gordon/Mardy Collins/Ricky Davis
SF: Al Thornton/Craig Smith/Steve Novak
PF: Blake Griffin/Chris Kaman/Craig Smith
C: Marcus Camby/Chris Kaman/Deandre Jordan

Probable Coach: The Clippers should probably give Dunleavy two season to work with this young core. They've been patient, drafted wisely and added some good pieces. They just may need to wait a little bit more for Dunleavy to really bring out the best in this team, which may come in the 2010 season. But the 2009/2010 season sure has gotten off to a good start for the butt of most if not all NBA jokes.

Those are the facts. And that's one way to read between the [base]lines.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Yao out for season, Shaq in Cleveland, who's the starting all star center for the West?


With Yao Ming out for the season to recover from foot surgery and Shaquille O'Neal being traded out of the Western Conference to Cleveland, who is likely to be voted as the starting center for the western conference all star starting lineup? (Above photo from JoshqPublic).

FACTS:

2005 All Star West Center Voting:
  1. Yao Ming - Hou - 2,558,278
  2. Brad Miller - Sac - 429,413
  3. Marcus Camby - Den - 313,214
2006 All Star West Center Voting:
  1. Yao Ming - Hou - 2,342,738
  2. Marcus Camby - Den - 859,086
  3. Mehmet Okur - Utah - 494,261
2007 All Star West Center Voting:
  1. Yao Ming - Hou - 2,451,718
  2. Amaré Stoudemire - Pho - 1,209,333
  3. Erick Dampier - Dal - 385,179
2008 All Star West Center Voting:
  1. Yao Ming - Hou - 1,709,180
  2. Amaré Stoudemire - Phx - 998,969
  3. Marcus Camby - Den - 412,563
2009 All Star West Center Voting:
  1. Yao Ming - Hou - 2,532,958
  2. Shaquille O'neal - Phx - 1,850,018
  3. Andrew Bynum - LAL - 549,131
  4. Mehmet Okur - Utah - 437,106
  5. Greg Oden - Por - 359,318
  6. Andris Biedrins - GS - 357,984
  7. Al Jefferson - Minn - 310,643
  8. Tyson Chandler - NO - 242,356
  9. Chris Kaman - 231,928
  10. Marcus Camby - 158,491
Probable Centers on rosters to challenge for starting West Center:

Nene Hilario (Den), Al Jefferson and Kevin Love (Minn), Greg Oden and Lamarcus Aldrich (Por), Mehmet Okur (Utah), Andris Biedrins (GS), Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol (LAL), Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby (LAC), Amaré Stoudemire (Phx), Erick Dampier (Dal), Luis Scola (Hou), Emeka Okafor (NO), Tim Duncan (SA)

2009 All Star BALLOT for Centers (who you were allowed to vote for at Center):

Andris Biedrins, Golden State; Andrew Bynum, LA Lakers; Marcus Camby, LA Clippers; Tyson Chandler, New Orleans; Nick Collison, Oklahoma City; Al Jefferson, Minnesota; Chris Kaman, LA Clippers; Brad Miller, Sacramento; Greg Oden, Portland; Mehmet Okur, Utah; Shaquille O'Neal, Phoenix; Yao Ming, Houston.

PROBABLE 2010 ALL STAR BALLOT FOR WEST CENTERS:

Nene Hilario (Den), Al Jefferson (Minn), Greg Oden (Por), Mehmet Okur (Utah), Andris Biedrins (GS), Andrew Bynum (LAL), Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby (LAC), Amaré Stoudemire (Phx), Erick Dampier (Dal), Luis Scola (Hou), Emeka Okafor (NO)

Read between the baselines:

Well Yao Ming sure brings in the votes with well over 2 million almost every year, he now won't even suit up this season or be on the all star ballot due to his foot injury sustained in the playoffs against the Lakers. Based on the 2009 voting and who is probably going to be C eligible for the all star game, the top candidates for the Yao replacement is Amaré Stoudemire (unless the Suns find a replacement for Shaq. Listed as a forward at 2009 ballot), and Andrew Bynum (3rd in voting behind Shaq and Yao last year).

Case for Amaré
(Photo from RyanSarda.wordpress.com)
Amare, a 4 time NBA All Star, was a starting F for the 2009 all star game after averaging 21.4 pts, 8.1 reb, 2 ast, a steal and a block and before having surgery on his eye that took him out of the rest of the season. Those are all star numbers and he's exciting to watch and popular among fans. The all star starters are VOTED in by FANS. That's something to keep in mind because sometimes, the more popular player gets voted in over a better player who may be more deserving of the all star spot.

The Suns, however did take a step backward last season and didn't make the playoffs. Trading Shaq away and resigning Nash could possibly make the Suns more of the run and gun team we saw in the pre shaq seasons. From those days though, the Suns are minus Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, and Joe Johnson. They now have Leandro Barbosa, Nash and Amaré joined by Grant Hill, Jason Richardson, Robin Lopez, and Earl Clark. If they get back to their run and gun offense, Amaré's numbers could jump back to 25 pts and 9 rebounds shooting 59% FG he averaged in 2007-2008. If he's on the ballot as a C, and has a good year like he had before Shaq came, he has more than a good chance at getting the West starting C nod.

Case for Bynum

(Photo from Andrew-Bynum.net)
Again, Bynum was third in voting behind the 2 guys that won't be on the ballot this year. Before wrecking his knee again against the Grizzlies (again), Bynum had scored in double figures 12 straight games, including a 42 point career high against the Clippers. Of those 12 straight games, he had double figures in rebounds in six of them including at least 14 in four of those six. Then he got injured at the end of January, a few weeks before the all star game. When he came back, he was worked slowly back into the rotation and had a sub par playoffs where he couldn't get any time on the floor due to foul trouble.

In the 2007-2008 season before he got injured for the first time, he scored in double figures in 16 times out of 18 games before he wrecked his knee in the middle of January. In those 18 games, he got double figure rebounds 10 times and 9 rebounds 4 times. For that season, which lasted 35 games for him, he was AVERAGING a double double at 13.1 pts and 10.2 reb.

If he gets back to form and that knee finally is at 100%, he can probably get back to averaging a double double and having a shot at the starting west C position come all-star weekend. As stated, the fans vote for the starting lineup and the Lakers will have a lot of air time on TV for all fans to see. After winning the championship and getting Ron Artest and Lamar Odom, the Lakers could have the best record in basketball with Bynum getting a lot of attention from the media and fans. The Lakers will be a great team and Kobe and Pau could be considered locks to make the all star team (Kobe starting, Pau probably a reserve). If Bynum can put up his pre knee injury numbers, he could definitely make the team and possibly be voted in to the starting lineup by the fans.

Other players who could get it are Nene Hilario who was 2nd in the the league in FG% and has some flash and flare with his energy and slam dunks, Mehmet Okur who has been an all star reserve, averaged 17 points last year and can shoot the 3 pointer, and Al Jefferson, who before his injury, averaged 23 points and 11 rebounds (!) but plays in Minnesota where the Wolves don't win a lot of games and aren't as popular league wise as the Lakers or the Suns are.

The showdown for the All Star west center started when it was announced Yao was out for the season.

Those are the facts, and that's one way to read between the [base]lines.