With the NBA season finally underway, I was perched at my standard “Courtside” couch seat for opening night. The same spot that I’ve spent the past few weeks sweating through episodes of the Hills, Entourage and Making the Band, waiting for this day to come.
With Game 1 in the books, let’s take a look at the High’s and Low’s during tonight’s Spurs vs. Blazers match-up:
Spurs vs. Blazers
High: Lamarcus Aldridge. Somebody was working on his game this summer. Aldridge displayed a much more polished offensive repertoire, showing a brand new set of low post moves and a much improved mid range jumper, that is tough to defend because of the high extension. Additionally, he appeared to be in great physical condition, repeatedly beating the opposition down the court.
Aldridge and the entire Blazers gave a very encouraging effort. Could brighter days finally be upon us in Portland? Let’s not get crazy.
Low: Darius Washington. For starters, now that Washington is in the league, it’s time to kill the homeless look. He needs to take that first pay check and get a quick makeover, before getting caught looking like that on national TV again.
As for his game, he just seemed out of place. I was rooting hard for Washington all night, but to be honest he just appeared to be a step slow for the NBA. I would be completely shocked if Washington is on an NBA roster at the end of the season.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
With the NBA season finally underway, I was perched at my standard “Courtside” couch seat for opening night. The same spot that I’ve spent the past few weeks sweating through episodes of the Hills, Entourage and Making the Band, waiting for this day to come.
Randy Foye Out Indefinitely
The Minnesota T-Wolves announced that they will be starting the season with point guard Randy Foye on the IR. An MRI revealed a stress reaction in Foye’s kneecap that will keep him sidelined for the next several weeks.
The door has officially swung WIDE OPEN for Sebastian Telfair to prove himself in this league. Without an established point guard on the roster and only Marko Jaric and Beno Udrih to beat out, Telfair has quietly found himself in an ideal situation. As I said a few weeks ago, it’s now or never for Sebastian.
Tim Duncan Accepts to 2 –Year Extension
"Although Tim Duncan is eligible to receive a two-year extension worth about $51 million under the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, he agreed to nearly $11 million less because it could afford the Spurs greater flexibility to pursue free agents after the 2009-10 season." (Via Yahoo Sports)
Who else would take less money because it is in the best interests of their team? I know one person that wouldn’t, AROD.
Demetrious Nichols to the Cavs
It didn’t take long for Demetrious Nichols to land on an NBA roster. Less than a week after being cut by the New York Knicks, Nichols has found a home with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This is a much better situation for Nichols and it gives him a realistic opportunity to earn some minutes. As a pure shooter with deep range, Nichols could be used to create wider driving lanes for LeBron to penetrate to the cup.
Negotiations are not going so smoothly with Ben Gordon
The Bulls offer of 5 years and $50 million dollars apparently isn’t sitting well with Ben Gordon. Gordon believes he is the Bulls best player and deserves to be paid as such. When asked if the best player should be paid the most money, Gordon said, ''What do you think? If the worst guy on the team is making more than the best guy on the team, does that make sense?''
(Via the Sun Times)
With both Ben Gordon and Luol Deng seeking long term extensions and the name Kobe Byrant continuously surfacing, these next few months will be an interesting time in Chicago.
It's like a quickly spreading drug that everyone is doing. We've seen this dance appear in quite a few gyms over the past few weeks, but who looks the smoothest?
Option 1: If you're 7'3 and can move like that, you're a prime candidate.
Option 2: Love the hazing... But the rookies are clueless.
Option 3: Jerry Rice has no shame...
Option 4: There's something weird about this one. Why is he alone?
Monday, October 29, 2007
1) Boston Celtics
2) New Jersey Nets
3) New York Knicks
4) Toronto Raptors
5) Philadelphia 76ers
1) Detroit Pistons
2) Chicago Bulls
3) Cleveland Cavaliers
4) Milwaukee Bucks
5) Indiana Pacers
1) Miami Heat
2) Orlando Magic
3) Atlanta Hawks
4) Washington Wizards
5) Charlotte Bobcats
1) San Antonio Spurs
2) Dallas Mavericks
3) Houston Rockets
4) New Orleans Hornets
5) Memphis Grizzlies
1) Phoenix Suns
2) L.A. Lakers
3) Golden State Warriors
4) L.A. Clippers
5) Sacramento Kings
1) Denver Nuggets
2) Utah Jazz
3) Portland Trailblazers
4) Minnesota Timberwolves
5) Seattle Supersonics
1st Team All-NBA
G Kobe Bryant
G Steve Nash
C Dwight Howard
F LeBron James
F Tim Duncan
2nd Team All-NBA
G Dwayne Wade
G Chris Paul
C Amare Stoudamire
F Carmelo Anthony
F Kevin Garnett
3rd Team All-NBA
G Jason Kidd
G Gilbert Arenas
C Yao Ming
F Tracy McGrady
F Dirk Nowitzki
Mike Conley Jr.
How could somebody's skills diminish so quickly? At just 30 years of age, Steve Francis’s basketball career has officially hit rock bottom. Francis is a mere shell of his former self that included 3 All-Star appearances, since being selected #2 overall in the 1999 NBA draft. Following stints in
Unfortunately Head Coach Rick Adelman has other ideas and after not playing in the Rockets final preseason game, Francis has become unsure about what his role will be during the upcoming season.
"That is going to be tough, that will be real tough for me. If that's the case, then I don't know. I definitely didn't come here not to play at all. Hopefully we can work something out."
"I turned a lot of money down other places, but hopefully it will work out."
Now I’m not quite sure what teams were offering Francis big money, but other options were certainly on the table. With an abundance of guards currently on the Rockets roster including starter Rafer Alston, Mike James, rookie Aaron Brooks, Luther Head, Bonzi Wells and Shane Battier, Francis has an uphill battle ahead of him.
The end of the road could be upon us for a player once thought to be the Rockets ‘Franchise.’ Where did it all go wrong?
(Via Houston Chronicle)
Saturday, October 27, 2007
I was asked a few times this week about the “Throw it Back” section, so I figured this time I would try the honest approach. Here it goes:
By the time the weekend rolls around, I have a tendency to hit the town extremely hard. There is a high likelihood that Saturday or Sunday morning (not both) I will be waking up with some type of hangover. Rather than struggling to put something together for my readers, I’ve decided upon the “Throw it Back” section. During the week, I surf "youtube" for high school highlights of some of the best NBA players. This way, when that dreaded weekend morning comes around, I'm still able to get something entertaining thrown up.
Oh yeah and if for the small chance I get action, don’t plan to see anything.
This week’s “Throw it Back” player of the week: Kobe Bryant
With an entirely healthy roster, the Sacramento Kings are not a playoff team. Having Ron Artest likely suspended for the first 7 games and rookie Spencer Hawes out with an injury, makes things that much worse.
It won’t take long for GM Geoff Petrie to realize that it’s time to start planning for the future. Without a realistic postseason chance and veteran pieces that are highly valued throughout the league, one would expect the Kings to be among the teams most actively involved in trade discussions, so they can build for the future.
With a combination of low expectations and multiple injuries some of the pressure will be off first year coach Reggie Theus to show immediate results.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Looking around the league, there are certain players in the NBA primed for a breakout season. Having shown flashes of stardom in the past, these are the 5 players ready to take their games to the Next Level:
Andre Iguodala: With the departure of the real “AI” from Philly, Andre Iguodala has an opportunity to display his skills for the world to see. Having spent the past few seasons playing second fiddle, Iguodala will get to step out of Iverson’s shadow and lead the 76ers this season.
Iguodala is a complete player that can fill up the stat sheet offensively, as well as be a lock down player on the defensive end. Nothing should stand in the way of this freak athlete taking the leap, to legit NBA player status.
Jamal Crawford: There are very few players that have Jamal Crawford’s skills. Crawford has tremendous one-on-one moves, a nasty handle, great range on his jumper and if he gets hot, he is unstoppable. At the end of many games, Jamal gets put in a position to play 'hero' because of the way the Knicks isolate the court and let him beat his man off the bounce.
Having tacked on 20 lbs over the summer, this should be the season Crawford takes his game to new heights. When asked about starting this season, Crawford responded the way a breakout player needs to talk, "It's time to go to a new level of my career. Starting shouldn't even be a question."
Marvin Williams: The Hawks young, athletic, forward is loaded with talent, but yet to leave his mark on the court. The one positive to the Hawks abundance of small and power forwards, is that if you want minutes you have to beat out other quality ball players. Recognizing that, Marvin Williams reportedly hit the gym real hard in the off-season. Thus far in training camp Marvin’s face up game and jumper are reaping the benefits.
With two years of NBA experience under his belt, Williams looks ready to take the next step in his career. At 6’9, Williams has all the tools. He’s incredibly agile, athletic and is a physical specimen.
It’s time for Williams to make people stop thinking about how they could’ve had Chris Paul and start thinking about the future with Marvin Williams.
Josh Smith: Why stop with one? The other half of the starting forward combination for the Atlanta Hawks is ready to bust out as well. Despite being one of the most exciting players in the NBA, Josh Smith still has a ton to prove. Everyone knows he can use his athleticism to dunk and block shots, but people question if there is more to his game.
There is no reason to believe that this season shouldn’t be a breakthrough in Smith’s career. As Smith continues polishing up his offensive repertoire and adds range to his jumper, the All-Star game should be in his not so distant future.
Chris Kaman: In his 5th season out of Central Michigan, the time is now for Chris Kaman to prove why he was such a highly regarded prospect. Kaman will certainly benefit from Elton Brand’s injury, as he should see a healthy dose of touches on the block. It might not look pretty, but Kaman has great footwork and effective low post moves.
Kaman is going to put up numbers this season. Expect at least 15 and 8 per game from the big fella!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
It’s official, Miami sent Antoine Walker, Michael Doleac, Wayne Simien and a 1st round pick to the T-Wolves in exchange for Mark Blount and Ricky Davis. Pat Riley and Heat GM Randy Pfund have been aggressively pursing trade options and after failing to acquire Ron Artest or Mike Bibby from the Kings, the Heat finally struck.
What does this deal mean?
Miami: The writing has been on the wall for Antoine Walker. Riley blasted Antoine throughout training camp for showing up out of shape. The only thing holding up a deal was finding a team to take the thick forward off of Miami's hands.
With Wade out for another month and the Heat starting 0-7 in preseason, Riley had to do something. That’s not to mention some type of injury you can be assured Shaq will come down with during the first month of the season.
Davis brings Miami a top tier athlete that can get out in transition and score the rock. He plays with tremendous energy and has the ability to get above the rim. There are going to be times when Davis makes you shake your head in astonishment, but if he’s able to stay in check, this could be a valuable piece to the puzzle.
When the Shaq / Wade combo is healthy, the Heat are hoping Davis can be that third scorer and lock down defender they need in order to make a run. People (myself included) were hopeful that 4th year swingman, Dorrell Wright would finally show up and make his presence felt in the NBA. Apparently Riley doesn’t feel Wright is up for the challenge just yet.
The Miami club scene will certainly get a healthy dose of Davis, but I’m confident that with Shaq, Wade and Riley running the show, Davis will be forced to keep his head on straight.
Minnesota: It’s no secret that Minnesota is playing for the future. Nobody's acquiring Antoine Walker thinking he could be a key component for a championship run. However, Walker brings cap flexibility with just two guaranteed years left on his contract. Throw in a first round pick and a few expiring contracts and the deal is a no-brainer.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Walker was bought out, or demanded a trade tomorrow!
I wanted to give a shout out to Henry Abbott of Truehoop.com for putting together a great event last night at the ESPN Zone. On the panel interviewed by Henry was John Hollinger (ESPN writer, invented “PER” Player Efficiency Rating) David Thorpe (trains NBA players) and Quentin Richardson (if you’re reading this blog – you know him).
First Things First:
As I arrived at the Zone waiting to be escorted to my standard “courtside” seat, I was stuck behind Quentin Richardson. Surprisingly Q was a half hour early to the event and according to Henry there was a big mix-up with his car service. As Q quietly walked into the restaurant, rocking a XXXL button down shirt that would be too large for Eddy Curry, he was approached by the hostess. Not having a clue in the world who he was or what event was taking place, she kindly asked, “Do you have a reservation?” Q stared blankly and let his friend do the talking.
As a long time reader of Truehoop, I was very familiar with Henry Abbott’s writing style, but I had no clue what he looked like. It didn’t take long to figure that out. Henry dazzled the crowd in his tucked in pinstriped button down shirt, cargo paints and Adidas type shoes, ala John F. Kennedy. All of the preparation clearly paid off.
A Bullet from Each Speaker:
(Henry is posting the entire session at Truehoop.com, so I’ll spare specifics)
- John Hollinger was the first speaker called to the podium to be interviewed by Henry. The easiest way for me to explain Hollinger is to have you picture the smartest kid in your math class growing up. The type of student that sat in the front row and answered all of the teacher’s questions.
He has these crazy formulas and develops theories based off his calculations. Do I agree with his PER conclusions? NO, but you have to respect him for carving out his own niche in the basketball world.
Hollinger made an interesting point that despite the influx of criticism he receives from his readers, he really tries to take something from their comments.
- David Thorpe was next up to bat and he brought to the podium a much needed full crop of hair. Right away, the thing that stuck out about David Thorpe is his passion. He spoke so genuinely about the satisfaction he gets helping kids maximize their talent and developing their basketball careers. Just by listening to him speak, he conveys the message to all working people that it’s so important to be doing what you enjoy.
- Lastly, when a fan in the audience asked Quentin Richardson about the rough play last night at the Garden involving the Knicks and Celtics, Q made an interesting comment. He said something along the lines of, “Next time we play the Celtics I have a feeling something is going to go down.” Circle Thursday, Nov.29th on your calendars.
I just wanted to throw up some quick notes on last night’s event. For those interested, Truehoop will be posting the video at some point next week.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
There is nothing harder in sports than putting together a team that can compete for the championship. Everyone thinks they can build a championship caliber team, but few Presidents and GM’s have success. With the NBA season tipping off in just one week, FromCourtside is going to explain what they believe is the main ingredient necessary to be crowned an NBA champion.
Analysts consistently talk about the need for team chemistry, solid defense, great coaching, a deep bench etc. Obviously these are all necessary components to success, but having these ingredients will not be enough to win the title at the end of the season.
To break it down, let’s take a look at the teams that have won the NBA championship in the past 20 years: Bulls, Rockets, Lakers, Heat, Spurs and Pistons. That’s only 6 teams in 20 years.
What separates these 6 teams from the rest?
It’s pretty simple- The best player in the NBA was on each one of those teams. During the Bulls’ reign as champions, the outstanding variable was obviously #23. When Michael Jordan sat out for a year and a half, Hakeem Olajuwon took the thrown as the best player in the NBA. Hence, the Rockets took back-to-back titles. The Lakers were the champions in the late 80’s when they were led by Magic Johnson. Then Shaq and Kobe (take your pick) led the Lakers from 1999-2002. Shaq was sent to Miami, but he wasn’t the reason the Heat took the title. At that time D. Wade was the man. The Spurs have won 4 titles in the last 10 years. Tim Duncan might not be the most exciting player, but you can’t take away the fact that he’s the most efficient. The guy does it all. Lastly, the Pistons have had separate championship teams with Isiah Thomas leading the way in 1988-1989 and 1989-1990.
The one exception to this list was the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons. There is no question the Lakers had the best players in the NBA during that season. So what went wrong with my theory? Without being too specific, let’s just say that if you have two superstars with super size egos that can’t co-exist on a court, and major turmoil off the court, the challenge can be insurmountable.
The reality here is that there are many components that need to take place in order to become a championship team. Defense, teamwork, quality coaching, production off the bench, all play a vital role in the quest to win it all.
The one ingredient that will distinguish one team from the rest is the team with the best player in the NBA. If he’s truly the best, he will make sure that everyone of those other elements are in place. Then that will be the team that will win the title.
Think about it.
Monday, October 22, 2007
One of sport’s most storied records is on the line as ex-NBA player Jason Caffey is on pace to catch Shawn Kemp’s record for children. Actually who am I kidding, Kemp probably has 20 kids by now. Anyway, Caffey who had a $35 million dollar contract in his NBA playing career which included the Bulls, Warriors and Bucks filed for bankruptcy today. With 8 kids from 7 women, Caffey has all that he can handle trying to keep the baby mommas financially pleased.
The entire article: Jason Caffey troubles
Also, look out for Denver Bronco Travis Henry who has 9 kids from 9 women. Henry needs two more to fill up a defense to stop his run.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
If not for the NCAA decision to require high school athletes to go to college for one year, this list wouldn’t be so special. Most of these kids would be riding pine for an NBA team, with a serious bank account and a new house for mom. I guess it’s a moot point now.
With one of the best freshman classes in recent memory, college basketball is going to be real strong this season. Let’s take a quick look at some of college basketball’s Finest Freshmen:
OJ Mayo, USC
The most heralded of the group, look for OJ to make a huge splash with the Trojans this season. He’s a superb scorer who can get hot in a hurry and absolutely dominate a game. OJ sees the court really well and has a very pure shooting stroke. You won’t get much emotion out of OJ on the court, but he apparently chose USC to display his personality off of it. If you haven’t read this story, it’s a must... OJ chooses USC.
One thing to note, OJ has been on the map for as long as I can remember, so if you’re expecting another LeBron, don’t. OJ doesn’t have the explosiveness to be a superstar at the pro level.
Eric Gordon, Indiana
Hoosier fans are going to be extremely happy to see Eric Gordon wearing cream and crimson this season. After originally verbally committing to Illinois, Gordon had a change of heart and decided to take his game to Bloomington, Indiana.
Plain and simple, Eric Gordon is a scorer. He plays an attacking style on offense, continuously taking the ball to the bucket, fending off contact with his muscular frame. He has great athletic ability and solid range on his jumper.
At 6’4 Gordon is still a tweener, so he might be forced to stick around IU for a few years to improve his point guard skills. Otherwise, this marriage will be short lived.
There is not a faster player in college basketball right now than Derrick Rose. When the ball is in his hands, he is gone and if you blink you might miss him.
Rose is a tremendous athlete that can throw it down with the best of them, but he’s also a natural point guard with great court vision. His jumper could use some consistency, but other than that Rose is the complete package.
With the NBA draft only 8 months away, I doubt Rose is even unpacking. Done, locked, he’s gone.
Kyle Singler, Duke
Kyle is a perfect fit for the Blue Devils. He is extremely competitive and plays with a no fear attitude that will quickly make him a fan favorite. He is also very versatile. At 6’8, Kyle can not only bang with the big guys inside, but he has the ability to step outside and stroke from deep.
I’m picturing him now smacking the court at Cameron Indoor. You can expect to see him at Duke for the next few years, by choice more than anything.
Kevin Love, UCLA
Love is going to be a force at UCLA. He has a great attitude, always shows up to compete, and he gets the job done.
Love does a great job using his body to shield off the opposition. He is extremely active down low and has the ability to step out and hit the mid range jumper. His footwork is better than most pros and he can probably teach a course on outlet passing... Complete Kevin Love scouting report.
Love’s lack of athletic ability will inhibit him as he attempts to make UCLA a quick pit stop before heading to the next level. Despite many analysts predicting Love to be one and done at UCLA, I wouldn’t count on it. In fact, it wouldn’t shock me if he stayed the full 4 years.
Corey Fisher, Villanova – Don’t be deceived by his pudgy frame, Fisher is a scoring machine. Fisher needs to learn how to play the point and get teammates involved, but expect major scoring numbers from Fisher right away.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
There’s a typical Shaq interview at the end, when he gets asked for the secret to Cole HS's success. Very frankly he says, "me"
Throw it Back: Shaq
Friday, October 19, 2007
From the Lakers perspective: They would have to be absolutely insane to trade Kobe, which I thought was something Dr. Buss understood. He is the most unstoppable player in the NBA and he fills seats. The only other player that can keep the Staples Center packed like Kobe is LeBron…and that’s not happening.
To even get the Lakers attention it should take a package that very few NBA teams could possibly offer.
Kobe has no choice. He’s not going to sit out and since he’s under contract with LA for at least two more seasons, he has nowhere to go. Laker brass is making a mistake. Instead of listening to trade offers for Kobe, they should be aggressively pursuing trade options to find as much help as possible for #24. The Lakers front office has clearly mismanaged this entire process and has now created an unnecessary distraction right before the season gets underway.
Teams that have been mentioned:
Mavericks: I remain skeptical that Dallas can win the championship with their current roster. Dirk isn’t the type of superstar that you can ride down the stretch in the playoffs, but if you put Kobe next to him, the title will be coming to Dallas. Apparently, the Mavs are Kobe’s #1 option, so it will be interesting to see what Donnie Nelson puts on the table. The package will likely include Josh Howard, Jason Terry and Devin Harris. Will it be enough to lure the best player on the planet? I certainly hope not, but who knows how low Dr. Buss is willing to go.
Knicks: Word on the street is that Kobe wouldn’t even accept a trade to NY, to play for the Knicks. With a no-trade clause, Kobe holds veto power. Man how far they’ve fallen.
For Kobe’s sake, there is no other team that would do more for his legacy than the Knicks. Forget how much extra cash he would earn in endorsements. Could you imagine Kobe turning the Knicks into champions? If he could manage to get the Garden buzzing again, the guy would enter the plateau that he so desperately craves; the one that only Michael Jordan resides on.
The difference between NY and LA is that not only are the Knicks in the East but they have no problem adding big money players. It might take a miracle in NY, but Kobe is an egomaniac who should relish this kind of challenge.
Bulls: As much as the Bulls make sense on paper to be the other team in this deal, I can’t see it happening. How could Kobe Bryant go to Chicago? All he wants to do is be remembered as the GOAT and now he’ll conclude his career by playing in MJ’s shadow? I just can’t see it.
During the next few weeks, you could expect to see every possible trade scenario involving Kobe. You will also get a sit down exclusive interview with Jim Gray. Regardless of how much noise is made surrounding Kobe Bryant’s future, the Lakers can’t be dumb enough to trade him. It just won’t happen.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Position: Power Forward
Ht: 6-9, Wt: 250
Hometown: Lake Oswego, Oregon
Age: September 7th, 1988
- Big body that is very active down low
- Does a great job sealing defenders on his back, allowing for easy entry passes into the post
- Has great form and rotation on his jumper
- Terrific outlet passer who is always looking down court after grabbing rebounds
- Kevin really battles on the glass and gets after it going for rebounds.
- Superb footwork ( well coached )
- Great attitude, competes hard all game
- High basketball IQ
- Doesn’t have much athletic ability; he can’t get off the ground
- Slow moving around the court
- Great at starting the break, but not great at running it.
The easiest way to describe Kevin Love on the basketball court - he gets the job done! He competes hard every game and his effort never wanes. He was able to dominate at the high school level because he is so much more physically imposing than other kids his age. As he transitions to the college level, it will only get tougher for Kevin. Without any real explosiveness off the ground, Kevin has to work hard on finding ways to get his own shots. He needs to continue developing his face up game, which will expand his offensive arsenal and make him a tougher match-up. However despite his limited athletic ability, Kevin is a very skilled big man that you can expect to become a force at UCLA.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
You can forget anything Jalen Rose accomplished in the NBA, he will always be known from his playing days at Michigan. As a member of one of the most exciting teams in NCAA history, Jalen is not willing to let his greatest days on the basketball court fade away just yet.
When Chris Webber was accused of accepting more than $100,000 from a former Michigan booster, the school made the decision to remove all references to this team. Nothing on the University of Michigan campus remains honoring the team that changed college basketball.
With 2006 – 2007, being the 15-year anniversary of the “Fab Five,” Jalen Rose decided to do something from the heart. Rose bought and paid for a billboard, located in Detroit’s west side, which features the jerseys of all the members of the Fab Five:
Monday, October 15, 2007
Is Scott Skiles still the guy?
Here’s the problem: The Chicago Bulls are no longer the Baby Bulls and Coach Skiles’ authoritarian, in your face style, might not be what the Bulls need to get through the Eastern Conference. He had a run-in last season with Ben Wallace over wearing a head band and a feud with Ben Gordon on his decision to have Gordon come off the bench. Let’s see how things play out…
Another thing worth keeping on eye on: If the Lakers stumble out of the gates, the name Kobe Byrant will be mentioned continuously in Chicago. The Bulls have some pieces to make the Lakers a very compelling offer, and although it won’t be of equal value, it might force the Lakers’ hand.
Everyone on the Chicago Bulls has a clearly defined role and that’s the way they play. The young kids are going to need to provide Chicago with a consistent spark off the bench, to spell the starters. If the Bulls get hot at the right time, they have enough talent to make it to the Eastern Conference finals, but no further.
How big are LBJ’s shoulders?
General Manager, Danny Ferry already stuck out on his first attempt to land LeBron a quality #2 option, when he dished out big bucks for Larry Hughes. Hughes is most effective with the ball in his hands, which is one thing that’s not happening in Cleveland. What the Cavs need is someone that can stretch the defense, defend, and compliment their superstar.
Players Not Reporting to Camp
In this case, I don’t fault GM Danny Ferry for not dolling out the type of dollars that both players are demanding. They are both role players and should be paid role player money. Varejao, asking for $10 million per season, is nuts.
Defining the word “Team”
It’s very rare to win in the NBA without a dominate superstar but the Detroit Pistons are the exception. Built with a team of savvy veterans where everyone on the roster knows their role and plays unselfishly, has kept the Pistons among the NBA's elite teams over the past 5 seasons. In addition to finding cohesiveness among the first 5, the Pistons get quality contributions off the bench and that is why they are serious contenders year after year.
When Ben Wallace departed prior to last season, the Pistons lost some of their identity. Big Ben is a physical, no nonsense specimen that controls the paint defensively. Despite having zero offensive skills, Wallace was as important to the Pistons as anyone else on the roster. Opposing players knew that even if they beat their man off the dribble, Ben Wallace would be waiting for them at the rim to contest their shot.
The Pistons struggled last season to replace Wallace and failed to address that need in the off-season. Instead, they are depending on youngsters like Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson to step up, as well as veteran Nazr Mohammed.
I’m going to answer my previous question for them and say it’s time to start over. Once you make the decision to have a garage sale and unload the “bad seeds” for half off, you have to complete the job. At 29 years old, Jermaine O’Neal is not going to be happy playing in a losing environment without a supporting cast. JO has a ton of trade value and could bring back quality young players and draft picks in return. While they are at it, I think Jamaal Tinsley has worn out his welcome in Indiana as well.
With Michael Redd as your franchise player, do you really believe you can win the championship? If they answered ‘yes’, well then that explains why they’ve been so bad, for so long.
Let me explain… Michael Redd is a phenomenal ball player. He is one of the purest shooters in the league, with unlimited range. He has a quick release and the capability to go off at any time. The problem is Michael Redd is not good enough to be the cornerstone of a successful franchise. He would be best suited in a “Pippen” type role that allows him to be the compliment to a superstar. This is not a knock on Redd, rather a knock on the way management perceives their all-star.
In addition to the decision to give Michael Redd a $90 million dollar extension, the Bucks have repeatedly made questionable off-season moves. Locking Bobby Simmons up for $9 million + per season, paying Dan Gadzuric, matching the offer sheet on Charlie Bell, trading TJ Ford, and the list goes on. There is no wonder the Milwaukee Bucks are a franchise stuck in mediocrity.
The one bright spot could end up being the decision to draft Yi Jianlian. Jianlian is 7’0, with phenomenal athletic ability and a solid shooting stroke. He has all the tools to be successful at the NBA level. For the Bucks sake, let’s hope he is actually 20, as he claims to be.
What the Bucks need is a makeover? Top to bottom, it’s time to clean house. Management, players etc…
Perhaps it will come next season but for this upcoming year, its right back to betting on some ping-pong balls.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Considered by many as the #1 player in the Senior Class, Monroe was on only his second recruiting trip out of a planned 5 stops. Monroe had visited LSU and intended to check out Texas, Duke, and UConn in the coming weeks.
The sales pitch wasn’t that complicated for Hoyas coach John Thompson. All he had to do was mention the names Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, Othella Harrington, and Roy Hibbert.
Monroe will be the next in a long line of stud big men to play for the Hoyas.
In past years Georgetown had been on the outside looking in, when it comes to big time high school recruits deciding which college to attend. That trend has officially ended with Greg Monroe joining current freshman Chris Wright and Austin Freeman. Kudos to John Thompson!
Saturday, October 13, 2007
It’s time we start taking it back to the roots. Every Saturday, I’m going to be posting up the “Throw it Back” player of the week, consisting of High School highlights of today’s best ballers.
This Week: Vince Carter
I had to throw this clip up there also. Following Vince's Rookie of the Year season, VC showed up at the Gauchos gym (it was raining, so the Rucker game got moved indoors) to play in the Entertainer's Basketball Classic. He left his mark with quite possibly the greatest dunk of all time:
Friday, October 12, 2007
A Solid Trio
Believe it or not the Atlanta Hawks have talent. Last season, Joe Johnson who has improved his scoring average every season since entering the league in 01-02, stepped his game up a few notches and was elected to his first all-star game. Fellow Hawk, Josh Smith is one of the most exciting players in the league and can be booked for at least one highlight every game. If he could expand his range and develop into more than just a freak athlete, Smith could be a star. The last piece of the trio is Marvin Williams. Entering his third season from North Carolina, the time is now for Williams to make the next step. Being absolutely loaded with talent, Williams needs to show he is more than just a player with potential.
Despite having young talent, the Hawks are loaded with similar players who play the same positions. If I was making my projections based solely on small forwards, the Hawks would be my favorites, but without a true point guard to run the team and no legitimate post players, the Hawks will still be watching the playoffs from home.
Putting Together a Team
The Charlotte Bobcats are starting to develop an identity. MJ and company have gone out and brought in young players that have had success at the collegiate level. Raymond Felton gives Charlotte a fast point guard to push the tempo, with high flyers Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson on the wings and defensive stalwart Emeka Okafor controlling the paint.
The Bobcats are hoping Adam Morrison and Jared Dudley can provide scoring off the bench, and someone can step in to fill the void at the power forward position, left by the injury to Sean May. Those are major question marks and problems that will linger throughout the season.
Despite making improvements to the lineup and adding a bona fide scorer in Jason Richardson, the Bobcats still lack a star. There is not a go-to-guy at the end of the game, the Bobcats can rely on to take over and make a big shot. In fact, no one on the Bobcats roster is adept at creating scoring opportunities for themselves.
I like the direction this team is heading. They have athletes on the wings, a fast young point guard and a defensive minded center to protect the basket. With that being said, they still lack any type of bench, and have a huge hole at the power forward position. Look for the Charlotte Bobcats to make strides, but they are not ready for post-season play just yet.
The most important thing for the Heat is the health of their two superstars, Shaq and Wade. If the Heats fearsome duo is not healthy, we can forget about talking about the Heat as contenders. Wade is coming off of shoulder and knee surgery and is out for at least the first few weeks of the season, if not longer. Shaq is clear right now, but you can bet that he’ll miss extended time at some point in the season. Both players need to be healthy and clicking during the latter part of the season, so that the Heat have enough time to gel as a team heading into post season play.
Who is going to step up?
When Wade is back, you know what you are getting. Shaq on the other hand is old and declining. He’s currently an above average Center, but certainly not the dominate force of the past. What the Heat need is someone to step up and play the role as a shut down perimeter defender and 3rd scoring option. The Heat have been involved in a flurry of trade conversations, mainly involving Mike Bibby and Ron Artest, both of whom would help out immensely. Barring a trade, the other option rests on the shoulders of swing man Dorell Wright. Wright, who came to Miami straight from high school has shown flashes of talent, but still hasn’t amounted to anything at the pro level. With Antoine Walker showing up to camp out of shape, and the injury to Wade, Wright has a golden opportunity to display his skills. If he can step it up and alleviate some of the load on Wade’s shoulders, the Heat could once again rise in Miami.
There are many things that must take place in order for the Miami Heat to advance in the playoffs. We’ve discussed two already; the health of their two superstars and someone stepping up as the 3rd option. There’s more. Miami is going to have to get production out of the point guard position. Last season, the Heat point guards were continuously beaten off the dribble and exposed defensively. The Heat brought in Smush Parker, to go with Jason Williams, but this still has to be considered a concern for Coach Pat Riley.
If all these things can somehow take place, the Heat could make it out of the East. There is no doubt it’s going to be a slow start to the season for Miami, but if they could whether the storm, I have a good feeling.
In Orlando, the pieces are in place to become legitimate contenders for many years to come. Despite having such a young team the Magic are loaded with talent, led by superstar Dwight Howard. At only 22, Dwight is set to take off this season and become the most dominant big man in the game. The Magic also went out and signed Rashard Lewis to the mix. Lewis will give Orlando a deep threat and versatility on the wing. They overpaid, but he still makes the Magic a much better team. Throw in Jameer Nelson to run the point, Hedo Turkoglu, Trevor Ariza, and Keyon Dooling to add depth and the Magic could finally be back.
Player to Watch Out For
The player worth keeping a close eye on is Trevor Ariza. At 6’7, 200 lbs Ariza has all the tools to become a special player in this league and could be the difference for the Magic. After playing just one season at UCLA, Ariza started to make a splash in New York before getting traded to Orlando. Now entering his 4th season and with Grant Hill gone, Ariza is in an ideal situation to start elevating his game. Ariza, who’s a super athlete excels when he gets out in transition and could be a great compliment to Rashard Lewis on the wing.
I’m excited to see how the Magic progress this season. The Magic are tough from top to bottom and have a legit superstar to carry the load inside. Despite having such a young roster, I don’t see any reason why this shouldn’t be a playoff team. A first round exit in the playoffs should still be considered a success for this young squad.
Bringing back the Same Troops
The Washington Wizards are another team that would have benefited from making a few moves in the off-season. After being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in last years playoffs, the Wizards could’ve used a little shakeup. Adding Oleksiy Pecherov, last season’s rookie and bringing in Nick Young in this years draft fails to qualify as a significant upgrade. Additionally, with the uncertainty surrounding Etan Thomas’s health, the Wizards could’ve used another big body down low.
There are very few players in the NBA that are as tough to guard as Gilbert Arenas. His range starts with his first step over the half court line and he can get to the basket on anyone. When his entire game is clicking it’s as if you’re playing NBA Jam and you have someone that is “on fire.”
The problem is that Gilbert is not a natural point guard. He wants to score every time the ball is in his hands and when you play the point, the ball is always in your hands. The Wizards offense suffers, as it never looks to be in sync. It’s all one-on-one, with everyone rotating whose turn it is to get a shot up.
The Wizards will never become a serious championship contender until they take Gilbert off the ball. He’s more of a natural 2-guard and this change would lesson his playmaking responsibilities, let him concentrate on scoring, and devote some of his energy on the defensive end.
The East is getting better and the Wizards are not. The Wizards have a solid lineup of scorers, led by Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. Each of them could score 30+ on any given night, but none of them naturally get their teammates going, or play sound on the defensive end. Look for the slide to begin this year, as the Wizards fail to make the playoffs.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
It was reported yesterday by Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld that after further evaluation to a routine physical, center Etan Thomas will require surgery to repair a leak of the aortic valve. The following was written by former Syracuse teammate and friend, Jason Mallin:
As a former teammate and friend of Etan, known to Cuse players as "DT" (for his real name - Dedrick Thomas) I wanted to wish him the best of luck with his surgery and a quick recovery. Etan is a man of great intellect and maturity well beyond his years. He wasn’t the kind of guy you would find partying at the bar or getting into trouble. He is an individual thinker with strong beliefs but most of all he is a nice, caring and thoughtful person.
Thinking back to our college days I recall many fond memories with Etan. We spent a fair amount of time together, being not only teammates but also business majors. Some of those memories include joking around as we sat bored out of our minds in managerial accounting, talking after practice or on road trips, driving around picturesque Syracuse, NY in his Tahoe as we headed to the mall or even to grab a quick bite. I always enjoyed Etan’s company.
It’s been a few years since I last spoke to Etan. In fact, the last time I saw him was when the Wizards were in town to face the NY Knicks and I arrived at the Garden early. I recall him calling me down to the court as the players were shooting around. We caught up for a few minutes underneath the basket as he told security to let me on the court. I remember feeling very happy for Etan knowing how far he had come to make it in the NBA. He wasn’t the most naturally gifted athlete, and was also undersized, however he was an extremely hard worker that persevered to become a defensive presence in “The League.”
I always keep tabs on Etan as well as some other ex-teammates throughout the league, as I watch the NBA package on a nightly basis. I want to thank fromcourtside.com for providing the platform to write “this scribe over the internet” and to let Etan know that though time goes by, people are not forgotten, and my thoughts are with him through this difficult time. I look forward to seeing him on the court sometime soon, blocking shots with that signature left hand and maybe I’ll even make a trip to the garden next time they are in town so we can catch up again.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Allan Houston to the Knicks: It appears that the Knicks are set to bring back shooting guard, Allan Houston. Already having a logjam of players on the roster, the Knicks apparently feel like it’s worthwhile to add one more. In his prime, Houston wasn’t the most nimble player, so at 36 and with an arthritic left knee, it makes you wonder what the rationale for this move is.
The obvious reason would have to be to bolster the Knicks lack of outside shooting. If Houston is left alone, there probably isn’t a better shooter in the USA. The problem is that Houston can’t get free anymore and he’s a liability defensively. This is not going to end pretty…
From Houston’s perspective, this video clearly shows why he chose to come back to playing and put his blossoming broadcasting career on hold:
Looking to Defy the Odds: If you need some inspiration, look no further than 25-year old Brian Chase. At just 5’9, Chase is in training camp with the Miami Heat in hopes of making the squad.
Shaq was the first player to take notice of Chase, while playing in a charity event this past summer. After Chase went at it with Wizards superstar Gilbert Arenas, Shaq made the call to Riley to get Chase in camp… The Story
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
It's that time of year again! With training camp fully underway and preseason action tipping off, it's time to take a look around the league. First up:
Chemistry will be the big thing that determines how far the Celtics advance in the playoffs. Garnett, Pierce and Allen have all achieved enough individually that you’d expect personal goals to be put aside for the betterment of the team’s success. I’m interested to see whose hands the ball is in down the stretch. Do they throw the ball on the block to KG and let him go to work? Clear the court and isolate Paul Pierce at the top of the key? Setup a high screen and roll with Ray Allen and KG? These are good problems to have, but things worth taking note of…
I’ve spoken previously about Vince Carter’s commitment or lack thereof. Net fans can only hope he plays with more passion than we’ve seen in the past.
One thing about Isiah Thomas which can’t be disputed is that he’s a very active President. This off-season was no different as Zach Randolph was brought in to add another post player to the Knicks lineup. From day 1, I haven’t been in love with this move, because it fails to address the Knicks most pressing need, a defensive presence. It just seems like the Knicks continue stock piling talent instead of addressing deficiencies in their lineup. Zach Randolph brings exactly the same skills to the Knicks as current center, Eddy Curry. Neither player plays defense and both players need to continually see the rock, before they’re able to get going.
*See below… Stephon Marbury provides superb analysis following the Zach Randolph acquisition*
The Love in NY
The people of New York are so passionate about Knicks basketball and have always supported their hometown team. The problem with this crop of Knick players is that the fans don’t feel a connection. In the past, the Knicks had players like Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, John Starks and Patrick Ewing. People loved coming to MSG because they knew the players would give 100% every single night. They’d sacrifice their bodies taking the charge, diving into the stands, and doing whatever was necessary to get the “W”. This current Knicks team is filled with tattooed thugs, who rarely give you anything to cheer about, often times looking depressed on the sidelines with towels draped over their faces. This negative vibe surrounding the Knicks will make it that much tougher to maintain the advantage the Knicks once held, a rocking MSG.
I expect an improvement, but not a major one. The Knicks don’t have any players committed to playing defense and lack a superstar to give the fans something to get excited about. The Knicks will manage to sneak into the playoffs, but don’t expect anything more than a quick 1st round exit.
The Post AI Era
Since the departure of Allen Iverson from Philadelphia, the 76ers are heading in a different direction. Figuring they couldn’t win while they had a veteran superstar, they’ve decided to give their youngsters a shot to lead the team. The 76ers have some talent led by Andre Igoudala, who not only has the right initials for this city, but the game to go with it. He plays hard on both ends of the court and will continue to emerge as he becomes the focal point of the offense. Andre Miller gives the 76ers a legit point guard who can run the team and Samuel Dalembert controls the paint defensively.
Philadelphia is relying heavily on inexperienced players like Louis Williams (straight from HS – best known for being homeboys with Bow Wow), Willie Green, and Rodney Carney to step up and take on a bigger role this season. Having all shown a glimpse of what they’re capable of, it’s now time for these guys to prove themselves on a nightly basis.
Are the 76ers good enough to compete in the East? No… Plain and simple.
Despite having a potential star in Andre Igoudala, the 76ers are just not good enough to get into the postseason. A projected frontcourt that includes Samuel Dalembert, Reggie Evans, Shavlik Randolph and Calvin Booth is not going to cut it. It’s straight to the lottery for Philly.
At the beginning of last season, the outlook for the Toronto Raptors was real bleak. Nobody was expecting much from the fellas up North, but they sure surprised everyone. This season will be a new challenge. Coming off a successful campaign that included an Atlantic Division title and a trip to the playoffs, how will the Raptors respond to the raised expectations?
There might not be a deeper team in the NBA. They have a star in Chris Bosh, a rock solid point guard in TJ Ford, and a youngster with potential in Andrea Bargnani. Aside from those three, it’s a collection of decent NBA players that fills the roster. On any given night they have a slew of players that can step up including one of their international players Jorge Garbajosa, Jose Calderon, Radoslav Nesterovic and recently acquired Carlos Delfino.
I’m going to refrain from calling last season a fluke, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a major decline coming from last season’s record. The Raptors failed to add any players to significantly bolster their roster, while many of their Atlantic Division counterparts were upgrading. The Raptors have the depth, but don’t have enough firepower around Chris Bosh, to make me believe otherwise. The Raptors are heading back to familiar territory, the lottery.
Monday, October 8, 2007
The stage was set for Sebastian Telfair to become something special. A kid from Coney Island, Telfair was the first cousin of Stephon Marbury and the hype followed him since he was in the 7th grade. The story is pretty well known as Sebastian dominated at Lincoln High School and then went on to become the shortest player taken in the NBA draft, straight out of high school. The kid with the million dollar smile and the skills to match was destined for stardom.
So what’s gone wrong?
Telfair has garnered more attention for the things he’s done in the courtroom, than on the basketball courts. Nobody would have thought that this clean cut, baby faced point guard who Adidas signed to a multi-million dollar contract would become such a distraction.
His run-ins with the law include:
- February, 2006: Telfair gets busted for bringing a loaded gun aboard the Portland Trailblazers team plane… How could a kid survive growing up in the Coney Island projects and need a gun in the suburbs of Portland?
- October, 2006: Telfair is questioned by the NYPD about the shooting of rapper Fabolous after a $50,000 necklace was stolen from Telfair at the same club the night Fabolous was shot.
- April, 2007: Telfair is arrested in Yonkers after cops discovered a loaded .45-caliber handgun in his car after stopping him for speeding. Throw in an aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle because he offered police a Florida drivers' license that was suspended.
Telfair, who has already spent 2 seasons in Portland and 1 with Boston, is still only 23. The 4th year point guard has the talent to make it in the NBA, but he has struggled trying to live up to such lofty expectations. Like all athletes, Telfair wants to be a mega celebrity when he should just be worried about becoming a solid NBA point guard. He needs to forget the movie cameras, the posse, and all the off-court baggage and get in the gym to work on his game.
It’s now or never for Telfair to steer this ship in the right direction and play like the point guard people were expecting to see when his name was called at the 2004 NBA Draft.
Sebastian is hoping his stop in Minnesota lasts quite a bit longer than his older cousin’s brief tenure. Most players don’t get this many chances and the Timberwolves are still deciding if they want to give Sebastian Telfair one more shot…
The Better Days
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Indiana is Entertaining New York / New Jersey’s Finest
Previously, I mentioned how Indiana University would be rocking October 12th for Midnight Madness, with the #1 junior in the country Lance Stephenson coming to town. Well it just got even wilder! According to Adam Zagoria, St. Patricks (NJ) point guard Dexter Strickland and Mount Vernon (NY) forward Kevin Jones will also be in attendance, watching the Hoosiers take the court for the first time this season. Throw in IU-commit Devin Ebanks and Bloomington, Indiana has quickly become the place to be in two weeks.
All four players recently participated in the Elite 24 and Fromcourtside.com had the coverage. Elite 24 Coverage
How Young is too Young?
Time Inc. put out a solid article on the recruitment of young kids, specifically Ryan Boatright a 14-year old, point guard from Chicago. Boatright, who plans to attend USC in 4 years, had given his commitment to Head Coach Tim Floyd before knowing what High School he would attend. That’s nuts.
At only 32, one would have to wonder what role Ryan’s mother Tanesha played in his decision. She might remember what schools she enjoyed on her college visits, just a few years ago.
Will Greg Monroe Stay Close to Home?
Considered by many as the #1 recruit in this years Senior class, Greg Monroe has officially short listed his college finalists to five: LSU, Georgetown, Texas, Duke and Connecticut.
First up is an official visit to LSU next weekend, followed by another official trip to Georgetown on Oct. 12-14. Monroe, last years Mr. Louisiana Basketball, has been the prime target of the LSU Tigers since entering High School.
Don’t anticipate a decision anytime soon, as Monroe could decide to let his decision drag out for a few more months. When you’re a top recruit, you don’t have to worry too much about your scholarship being taken by someone else… Great feeling
I decided to take a look back at the most shocking Stephon Marbury quotes from recent years:
Dec 31st, 2002
When asked to compare Suns rookie Amare Stoudemire (teammate at the time) to Minnesota's Kevin Garnett (former teammate) when Garnett was 20 years old, here’s what Stephon had to say:
"It's not even close," Marbury said. "He doesn't even compare to Amare. It's two different people. It's like Michael Jordan and Mario Elie. It's not even close."
Perhaps Stephon needs to see the “From Courtside” All Time High School All American Team
Jan 1st, 2005
When Stephon was asked to compare himself to Jason Kidd, Stephon felt like it was time to let his opinions be known:
"I'm telling you what it is: I know I'm the best point guard in the NBA. I don't need anybody else to tell me that.”
Don’t hold back
November 26, 2005
Following a regular season Knicks win, Stephon was asked about Channing Frye. In typical Stephon fashion, he decided to go all out with his praise:
“I call him the Young One. I think Channing's going to be like Tim Duncan in the next three or four or five years. Once he gets the feel of the N.B.A. game, which will probably be in, like, February, early March, that's when I think he'll take off."
It’s now October, 2007 – I’m waiting…
Aug. 22nd, 2007
While in Albany promoting his $15 sneakers, Steph was asked about his thoughts on the Michael Vick case:
“From what I hear, dog-fighting is a sport”
An extra year at Georgia Tech wouldn’t have been the worst idea.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Damon Jones is one unhappy man.
At media day, Damon made it clear that he no longer wants to be in Cleveland saying, ''The message was very clear-cut when I left last year: I didn't want to come back and be part of a situation where I didn't have an opportunity to contribute. I don't want people to think I'm a selfish person or not about the team, but when I came here two years ago I thought I was going to have a significant role. I felt it was best to break ties and go our separate ways. By no stretch of the imagination am I happy.''
Here’s the problem, Damon Jones is not that good. Danny Ferry would be happy to unload him, but unfortunately there aren’t many organizations vying to get there hands on DJ. The market appears to be slim right now for 6’2 shooting guards that don’t play much defense. Jones’s better known for becoming best friends with star players, than anything he contributes on the court.
Things are certainly off to a rocky start in Cleveland as they look to repeat as Eastern Conference Champs. Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic are involved in contract disputes and are yet to arrive at training camp, and Eric Snow is scheduled to have surgery on his left knee today, to repair his torn meniscus. Good thing LeBron has broad shoulders!
Monday, October 1, 2007
With lots of noise being made throughout the off-season, media day gave players a chance to clear the air on numerous topics. For the most part, it didn't happen, but there was still alot of action around the NBA. Check out some of the highlights:
- In the most highly anticipated Q&A session, Kobe Bryant got a chance to discuss his trade demands, Team USA, and this upcoming season. Despite not making any significant changes to the roster, Kobe seems to have accepted his current situation, or at least that’s what he’s leading everyone to believe. Kobe probably realizes the Lakers have no plans to trade their superstar regardless of his wishes.
The entire Kobe Bryant media day session
- Amare Stoudamire will undergo an arthroscopic examination on his right knee Tuesday, instead of heading to training camp with his Suns teammates. The procedure is being significantly downplayed as a “simple” surgery that will only require Amare to be out 2 – 3 weeks. This is not the left knee that required microfracture surgery a few years ago, but anytime a player gets knee surgery it’s certainly not a good sign.
- Shawn Marion still clearly upset about not receiving a contract extension and having his services shopped around the league, maintained his stance about preferring to play elsewhere this season. He got his point across, but also made it known that he no longer wishes to discuss his trade request.
- There was one obvious person missing from the Knicks media day, Isiah Thomas, who is still involved in the Anucha Browne Sanders lawsuit. However, the Knicks still reached a contract buyout of Dan Dickau, and then acquired the rights to former Marist point guard Jared Jordan who was drafted by the LA Clippers. JJ doesn’t have a prayer to make the team, but he’ll probably stick around via the D-league.
- Andrei Kirilenko and Jerry Sloan sat down to talk things over for the first time since Kirilenko asked to be traded or released. Sloan took the high road saying, "I'm going to coexist. That's my job, some people don't always see it the way they'd like to see it, but my job is to try to help a player become a better player. If he has problems, I want to try to work through those problems." Regardless of what is said, I don’t foresee this working out. The bottom line is Kirilenko doesn’t play hard enough to meet the tough demands of Coach Sloan.
Many of the biggest off-season questions were answered today, with NBA training camp officially getting underway. Kobe Bryant, Andrei Kirilenko and Shawn Marion, who’ve all requested trades this summer, have arrived in camp with their respective teams. I guess they determined that outside of voicing their displeasure and stating their case to move on, not much else could be done.
Kobe has no chance of going anywhere, considering he is the best player in the NBA and it’s next to impossible for the Lakers to get equal value in return for #8.
Kirilenko is earning too much cash to stay overseas, despite threats to Jazz management about not returning to the US. It appears that he will continue going public with his unhappiness in hopes of forcing the hand of the Utah Jazz. The Jazz will continue entertaining offers, but getting a deal completed before opening night is a long shot.
Marion has stated all along that he’s a professional and would show up at training camp if a trade had not been completed prior. The best chance for Marion to be moved is within the next few weeks, before the Suns begin the season 10 – 0. Again, it doesn't seem likely.
With the marquee names showing up, there was one team that didn’t have such luck getting all of their players to camp on time. The Cleveland Cavaliers Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic are both seeking long term contract extensions and have yet to come to terms on such deals. In fact, both players are currently overseas, with Varejao in Brazil and Pavlovic in Europe.
One thing they do have going for them, is that you don’t want to anger LeBron James. LeBron told the Cleveland Plain Dealer earlier this week, "I need Sasha and Andy on my team for us to be successful. Not just one of them. I need both of them. I'm very positive about the situation. I would think the organization knows we need those guys."
Today is media day for the Cavs and it will be interesting to hear what else LeBron has to say.