Tagged: Baron Davis

The Celtics should not trade Rajon Rondo

Five years ago a day did not pass without Tony Parker’s name surfacing in trade rumors.  Many believed that Parker was the Spurs’ Achilles heel and even though they won a title with him at the helm, Parker was not a good fit for the team.  He allegedly dribbled too much, clashed with coach Greg Popovich too often, and his lack of an outside shot made it easy for teams to collapse in on Tim Duncan.  Five years later, Parker is still with the Spurs and his play is a large reason why the franchise hasn’t slid into the lottery.  Parker even has an outside chance of stealing one or two MVP votes from LeBron James and Kevin Durant this year. By contrast if you look at the legion of point guards whom Parker should have been traded for you’ll see it’s a motley bunch.  On the low end, there’s Knicks reserve Baron Davis, whose mix of size and outside shooting would have bolstered the Spurs.  And on the high end, there’s Steve Nash, the two time league MVP who’s still playing at an advanced age.  Who knows how the Spurs would have fared with Davis or Nash–but we do know they’ve fared with Parker, and for all extents and purposes they have done well with him.

The evolution of Parker’s career is in many ways analogous to the one Rajon Rondo’s is currently experiencing. Parker went from being his team’s weak link to lynchpin with far less fanfare and praise than what’s been heaped on his more revered teammates Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.  Just as Parker will never be thought of in the same regard as Duncan, Ginobili, and maybe not even Avery Johnson for that matter by Spurs fans.  Celtics fans and the front office are likely to always be dismissive of Rondo, forever turning the conversation to his poor outside shot and his purported sullen demeanor.

If the Celtics continue focusing in more on Rondo’s weaknesses than his strengths they are bound to make the same mistake that Dallas made when it traded Nash rather than heeding the lesson that the Spurs learned in dealing and building around Parker.  The Celtics need no look further than in their own conference to see how lacking a top flight point guard can lead to a team floundering.  Had Atlanta had a point guard of Rondo’s caliber in the last three years the Hawks would’ve likely made at least one Eastern Conference finals.  And before the arrival of Jeremy Lin, the Knicks offense looked as if it was being run by a rec league pickup.

Rondo is young, has the most reasonable contract of any comparable player in the league, and unlike Stephon Curry, Chris Paul or any other players who have been mentioned in trade rumors with Rondo over the past two years, he’s the only one to have led his team to an NBA title.

The problem with the Celtics over the past three years have not resulted from Rondo’s actions, but rather the doings of GM Danny Ainge who’s burdened the team with the likes of Marquis Daniels and Jermaine O’Neal.  Since teams can not trade GMs–otherwise the Celtics would have inquired about an Ainge for Sam Presti swap ages ago–GMs instead fuel chatter about their players.

If the Celtics are keen on rebuilding without suffering a lost decade, then they must make it clear that Rondo’s here to stay.  Otherwise, they will be quickly reminded that a sullen, disinterested fan base is far worst to deal with than a point guard whose only crime is that he’s a little quiet.

G- Dwyane Wade

NBA All-Star Inury Team

With NBA All-Star balloting in full swing and given that the NBA is slowly but surely turning into a league where “injuries happen,” I thought I should come up with an injured/questionable/doubtful/probable (hurt but will likely play) All-Star Team.  Since fans are unlikely to see these players, even as the league justifies its quick return through appealing to fan desires to see the game back on the court, I thought we could celebrate the greatness of the league by reflecting on their absence:

Click through the slide show below to see the starters on this NBA All-Star Injury Team.  However, a quick glance at this team’s bench gives you some insight into how potent an injury lineup has emerged a quarter of the way into this season.  Bench players: Forwards: Charlie Villanueva; Michael Beasley; Andrea Bargnani. Centers: Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett.  Guards: Jason Kidd; Jose Juan Barea, Baron Davis; Eric Maynor.  While being flippant here, it is imperative to think about how the 2011-2012 season is one where injuries happen.


G- Stephen Curry

Curry is starting to look like his generation’s Steve Nash, another guard whose early career was plagued by nagging injuries. Nash eventually righted himself when he began playing with big men like Dirk Nowitzki and Amar’e Stoudemire who excelled in the pick and roll game. Time will tell if Curry finds his big man counterpart.


G- Dwyane Wade

If there’s one bright spot to Wade’s recent stints on the injured list is that it will enable LeBron James and Chris Bosh to come into their own in Miami. Once Miami fans see that James and Bosh can carry this team then this trio’s “Big Three” persona might actually be chrystallized.


F- Carmelo Anthony

Either Knick forward could have gone here. This team’s abhorrent backcourt play has put a lot of pressure on Anthony and Stoudemire. Now that he’s getting spot duty at “point forward” it will be interesting to see if Anthony has enough left come playoff time for the Knicks to make a run.


F- Al Horford

Casual fans underestimate the pounding that low post players take. Battling the Udonis Haslem’s and Reggie Evans’ of this world is hard enough, but when you’re having to play out of position and compete against bigger players like Horford has had to for much of his career in Atlanta, injuries are inevitable.


F- Zach Randolph

Randolph, one of the anchors to the Grizzlies' surprising playoff run last year is likely out until early March. Grizzlies fans are hoping the team can stay in contention until Z-Bo returns.

For the most-part the media has failed to reflect on the injuries, on how these injuries are the result of the money grab.  Yet, it is crucial to not only highlight the cluster of injuries, and the types of injuries that seem to point to the impact of a non-existent training camp and the wear and tear of a compressed season, but what this reveals about the NBA and the sports-industrial complex (not to mention global capitalism).  It is emblematic of the ways in which profits are put in front of people.  It is emblematic of the logic of Neoliberalism capitalism, which identifies markets, consumer needs, and profit margins as the primary compass for economic relations.  The fact that players are suffering injuries in alarming rates is a testament to the ways in which bodies, particularly bodies of color and women, are exploited and abused for sake of money within the sports industry and beyond.  As a tenet of capitalism, and reflective of cultural obsession with wealth, it is no wonder that the ideology of profits ahead of people is so visible on NBA benches.  So, if you get tired of the NBA’s new motto, “where injuries happen,” maybe we should start calling it “The NBA: profits before people”


2011 NBA Season: Where Injuries Happen

After two days of the NBA season, it is clear that the shortened (ostensibly non-existent) training camp is having a significant impact on a myriad of teams.  The issue of injuries remains a real one, a fact that cannot be understood outside of the context of the players’ inability to prepare themselves for the season in a desired way.  For example, the Los Angeles Lakers, the only team to open the season with 3 straight games (against 3 teams who will be playing their opening game), are already battling injuries.  Kobe Bryant continues to struggle with a torn ligament in his wrist, with Pau Gasol suffering a shoulder injury and Josh McRoberts dealing with a sprained big toe.  The injuries have left three of the Lakers starters (McRoberts starting because of Andrew Bynum’s 4-game suspension) playing through injuries after two games, and a fourth, fifteen year veteran Derek Fisher, still not in regular season shape (he sat out initial preseason game because he wasn’t physically ready), it is no wonder the Lakers are off to an 0-2 start.

Like the Lakers, the Mavs are off to an 0-2 start, losing their initial two games by sizable margins. Mavericks small forward Shawn Marion broke his finger in their opening night defeat to the Miami Heat, and  following last night’s loss, Dirk Nowitzki acknowledged the impact of the lockout on their difficult start: “We look old, slow and out of shape,” he acknowledged.  “I still think this team has a lot of potential. We just need to work. … We probably needed extra weeks of training camp. But we don’t have it so the young teams, the athletic teams, look better right now than we do.” You don’t have to simply take the word of Notwitzki, as the impact of the lockout was clearly evident as Sean Williams vomited on the Mavs bench after leaving the game.  While media reports dismissed this as an afterthought in an early season blowout, it demonstrates the physical toll of the game and the overall lack of preparation afforded to NBA players.  After all, when was the last time you saw an NBA player vomit from exhaustion?  This may be a regular occurrence during pre-season workouts, but not part of the “showtime” experience David Stern and NBA officials pride themselves on exporting.   Williams’ exhaustion speaks to the poor work conditions experienced by today’s NBA player.

Other playoff contenders  are facing similar issues; whether it is the Knicks’  Baron Davis (herniated disc), Jared Jeffries (calf) and Iman Shumpert (knee injury); Eric Bledsoe of the Los Angeles Clippers (torn meniscus), or the Celtics’ Paul Pierce (toe), some of the NBA”s marquee teams scrambling to survive with make shift line-ups. Whereas the NBA has in the past marketed itself as the league where “amazing happens,” the 2011-2012 Season looks to be a year where “injuries happens.”

While the debate about the impact of the lockout (remembers players didn’t have access to treatment and team facilities throughout the summer and fall) and a shortened preseason on injuries will continue, what is indisputable is the impact of the schedule on injuries.  Beyond the demands of playing multiple nights, the compressed game and travel schedules cannot help in the recovery process.

Worse yet, the overall lack of public concern over the mental and physical strain of playing 6 games in 8 nights is revealing.  It demonstrates an overall lack of thought about NBA players as workers whose work conditions matter.   It demonstrates that the profits took precedent over the people of the NBA.  It illustrates that notwithstanding the hype over the NBA being back, mounting physical limitations confronting the greatest athletes in the world is turning the NBA into a league where “injuries happen.”

With Baron Davis on Board, Are Knicks the Best Team in the Eastern Conference?

It’s now official, Baron Davis will join Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire,.  Talk about a change of fortune, it was only a week ago that the Knicks appeared to have a gaping hole at the point guard slot.  Now they have an all-star caliber player with a penchant for scintillating playoff performances on his resume slotted into that position.

On the court, a motivated Davis will provide this Knicks team with leadership, an occasional fourth quarter dagger, some offensive punch on nights when either Anthony or Stoudemire might be struggling, and a barrage of easy baskets for Stoudemire,  Chandler, Landry Fields, Renaldo Balkman and rookie Iman Shumpert.

Off the court, Davis fits neatly into the charismatic nouveau “Rat Pack” personas being honed by Anthony and Stoudemire.  Davis, a full on aesthete by NBA standards will have no trouble fitting in at the Tribeca Film Festival or Fashion Week for example.  In fact, the trio of Anthony, Davis and Stoudemire are easily the trendiest Knick triumvirate since the glory days of Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe and Phil Jackson/Bill Bradley.

More importantly, this Davis signing deals a costly blow to the Knicks two main challengers for Eastern Conference supremacy, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls.  With Davis on board, the signings of Shane Battier and Richard Hamilton seem to pale in comparison, and for the first time since the Patrick Ewing era, makes the Knicks legitimate contenders in the East.

Knicks Sign Baron Davis

ESPN’s Marc Stein and Dave McMenamin are reporting that the Knicks have signed Baron Davis.  Davis was recently released by the Cleveland Cavaliers under the new “amnesty” provision, opting instead to turnover point-guard duties to younger and less-expensive trio of Daniel Gibson, Kyrie Irving and Ramon Sessions.  Once he cleared waivers on Friday Davis was heavily courted by a number of playoff contenders, but the Knicks won out for this veteran guard’s services.  When healthy, Davis will join fellow veterans Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire, to form as imposing a quartet.  


With Chris Paul Deal Done, Time For Lakers to Focus on Baron Davis

Reports are indicating that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert incited the owner

Courtesy http://www.goldenstateofmind.com

insurrection against the Chris Paul trade.  Gilbert was undoubtedly angry about another marquee player hand-picking his next destination.  One can not also help but think that Gilbert also made this move to ensure there was more of a market for Baron Davis when the Cavaliers amnesty Davis.  As much as he didn’t want Paul to land on the Lakers, he obviously must have been repulsed at the prospect of Davis landing on the Miami Heat were the Cavaliers to release him.  The thought of Davis (who he’d still be paying) hoisting up the Larry O’Brien trophy next to Lebron James at the end of this season would make Gilbert’s head explode.

However, now that he’s successfully blocked the Paul deal, it increases the likelihood that Davis would sign with his hometown Lakers if waived by the Cavs.  Paying Davis to lead a woeful Cavs team to a handful of wins this year is not that attractive of an option for Gilbert either.  But, the prospect of a Davis & Kobe Bryant tandem out-dueling Lebron James and Dwyane Wade next spring, priceless.

While not as young as Paul, Davis is infinitely capable of helping Los Angeles win at least two more championships with Kobe Bryant before turning the team over to Dwight Howard.  Acquiring Davis would also allow Los Angeles to retain more assets and cap flexibility as it builds around Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol in the future.


Top-5 NBA Amnesty Candidates

NBA teams are unlikely to make wide use of an Amnesty provision in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement for two reasons.  First, the savings for most teams are minimal.  Getting rid of Travis Outlaw’s contract will do nothing to transform the Nets to a contender, therefore it’s likely in their best interest to keep Outlaw on board and hope that he/his contract can moved in a trade down the line.  Secondly, it would be preposterous for NBA owners who’ve spent the last year complaining about bad contracts to suddenly cut a bunch of players and pay them for not playing, especially, if such a move fails to bring them any closer to acquiring a player like Dwight Howard or Chris Paul.

That said, there are a few players or rather situations who we think this amnesty provision is ripe for:


Courtesy http://www.goldenstateofmind.com

As long as Davis agrees to not sign with the Heat, then he’s a surefire bet to be gone. Cleveland could keep him around to mentor Kyrie Irving, but Antawn Jamison is just as formidable of a veteran presence so Davis would not be missed that much in the locker room. The allure for Davis is the prospect of playing for his hometown Lakers. When motivated, Davis is an exceptional player. Pairing him with Kobe Bryant would be a nightmare for Laker opponents. A handful of teams might just rollover at the sight of Davis, Bryant, Odom, Gasol and Bynum together on the court.


By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0

Rashard Lewis has nothing to offer this team. He’s a nice guy. Lewis is a steady veteran. Rashard Lewis is 14pts, 4 rebounds, and 2assists. That stat line would be a godsend coming off the bench for any number of teams (most notably the San Antonio Spurs) but for the Wizards, Lewis represents merely another person Nick Young pleads to give him the ball.


By Mwinog2777 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Jazz are clearly in rebuilding mode and it’s unlikely that they will subject Bell to the process. If waived, Bell will likely sign with Miami, an organization with which he’s familiar and which gives him a chance to win now.


Otis Smith will not cut Gilbert Arenas. Arenas may be over the hill and have an albatross of a contract, but he’s ingratiated himself to Smith and Dwight Howard. The last Orlando can afford right now is to give Howard a reason (as preposterous as it may seem) to claim that he has to leave Orlando because they just traded one of his best friends. Instead, inspect the Magic to cut ties with Duhon and hope they can turn any savings into a big man to backup/complement Dwight Howard.


By Keith Allison (originally posted to Flickr as AAAA8979) [CC-BY-SA-2.0

There’s not much need for Walton in Kobe Bryant, err…I mean Mike Brown’s new offensive scheme. Expect Walton’s departure as another symbolic break from the Phil Jackson era.

Stay in Shape

LeBron James Makes Right Decision and Suits Up at Drew League

It’s safe to say LeBron James’ cameo at a Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich Connecticut last year did not go over well.  That appearance was a stark contrast to James’ participation in a Drew League game over the weekend in Los Angeles.
As the video lifted from a post by Ball Don’t Lie’s Eric Freeman shows James is clearly in his element in front of the Drew League crowd. In some ways these images of James cruising up court are reminiscent of his high school varsity games at St. Vincent St. Mary’s.


Video: LeBron James plays summer league game, wows crowd – Ball Don’t Lie – NBA Blog – Yahoo! Sports.


The Cavs Should Trade Kyrie Irving

As the 2011 NBA draft draws closer and coverage of expected number one pick Kyrie Irving intensifies, I can’t help but think back to Jayson Williams’ NBA career–one that was cut short by a tragic injury.  Like Williams, Irving is a uber-athletic Duke point guard.  Also like Williams, Irving is now poised to replace arguably the most transcendent NBA player of his generation.  It doesn’t matter that LeBron James left Cleveland on bad terms.  What matters is that he left and whoever is the next high priced free-agent or lottery pick to land in Cleveland is undoubtedly going to be seen as LeBron’s replacement. And before things go terribly awry, someone needs to step in to make sure that Kyrie Irving doesn’t have to bear this load.

Moreover, while it may feel good in July and August to talk about Irving as the anti-LeBron, once the season starts and the Cavs aren’t winning games, Cleveland fans are going to start missing the LeBron days again.  Put another way, the guy who trades in his Ferrari for a Honda because he got tired of women looking at him will start missing that Ferrari when–you guessed it–women stop looking at him.  The Cavs have to be delusional if they think anyone in this year’s draft can recreate what LeBron did in his seven years in Cleveland.  Which is why not only do I think the Cavs shouldn’t draft Irving,  but I actually think they should trade the pick.

Consider this scenario for example, Cleveland sends Baron Davis, Antawn Jamison and the #1 pick to Utah for Devin Harris, Al Jefferson and the #3 pick.  This is a great deal for both teams.  Cleveland gets two all-star caliber players under 30 and a lottery pick.  This move allows them to accelerate their rebuilding process and be contenders for a playoff spot in the east next year.  A starting nucleus of Harris, Anthony Parker, Jefferson and Anderson Varejao should definitely be able to crack the top-8 in the east.  And with the third and fourth overall picks of this draft they can try to get a small forward, or a player like Brandon Knight who can be groomed to be Harris’ eventual replacement.

And other side, Utah gets some freedom from the pressure to pick Jimmer Fredette.  Bringing home the number one overall pick will surely excite Utah fans and be a clear signal that a new era of Jazz basketball is underway.  Irving, Paul Millsapp, Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors will give the jazz a young nucleus capable of contending in the West for years to come.  The addition of Davis and Jamison will enable this group to contend for an 8th seed next year and possibly give the younger players a taste of a playoff run.  Jamison will also make great trade bait following next season as he enters the final year of his contract.  Til then, a front four of Davis, Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsapp backed up by Irving, Jamison and Favors will give a lot of teams in the western conference a run for their money.

The Cavs shouldn’t stop dealing once they make this trade.  That number four pick might be more valuable for another team than it is for them.  Would Toronto be willing to give up Demar DeRozen for example to move up in the lottery?  Would the T-Wolves consider parting ways with Wesley Johnson and the number 2 pick in exchange for J.J. Hickson and the #3 pick.  Since this draft doesn’t have a LeBron or Dwight Howard caliber player, the Cavs are in the next best position with their multiple lottery picks that enables them to wheel and deal.