Tagged: NBA

Chris Paul is Not Going to the Knicks. Now Let’s Move On…

The basketball off-season is like an extended barbershop session.  Like a lazy Saturday afternoon at the barber, during every NBA off-season rumors are circulated just enough for people to believe they are truths, debatable truths, but truths nonetheless.  The latest and greatest of these rumors is that Chris Paul will become a New York Knick. 

There is a grain of truth here; Chris Paul enjoys playing with Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.  That’s good and fine.  I enjoy driving a Range Rover and having a personal chauffeur.  Are either in my immediate future? No, but I sure as hell enjoy them and would not hesitate to admit that I do. A similar principle applies for any prospect of a Chris Paul trade to the Knicks.

First of all, have we forgotten that the Hornets are in receivership?  This team is technically owned by the NBA, and given everything that has happened over the past year, I am hard-pressed to believe the 29 other NBA owners would approve of a move that allows Paul to join the Knicks.  Remember the fuss that Mark Cuban made about the Marcus Thornton for Carl Landry trade?  Can you imagine the venom he’d spew if the Knicks were somehow able to flip Chauncey Billups, Landry Fields and Renaldo Balkman for Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza?

Even the notion that the NBA is considering trading acquiescing to Paul’s trade requests is likely to incite a firestorm of criticism from other actual team owners once the lockout is officially over.  Stan Kroenke will surely have positive things to say about a franchise player bowing out of his contract and denying his team a chance at making the best possible trade.

There are only two destinations that make sense for Paul.  Basketball wise, the Clippers would immediately become playoff, if not championship contenders with a nucleus of Paul, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.  ESPN would likely need to start a whole new show devoted entirely to showing clips of Paul alley-oops to Griffin and Jordan.  Gordon will have so much daylight in that quartet that he might become the first NBA player to go a season without dribbling the basketball.

The other option, if the NBA is interested in securing its own bottom line, would be to trade Paul to the Bobcats.  Any traction that the league hoped to get in North Carolina by selling this franchise to Michael Jordan has long expired.  Paul is second to only Lebron James in the list of superstars who could revitalize this market. As a Carolina native who played at Wake Forest, Paul would excite locals and he has the potential to build his own powerhouse squad in Charlotte.  With some shrewd maneuvering, Charlotte could unveil a 2012 starting lineup anchored by Paul, James Harden and Dwight Howard.

Even these two options are closer to rumor and innuendo than they are to fact.  As much as we hate this option, everyone will just have to wait and see what where Paul ends up.

 

kobeManila

NBA STARS FOLLOWING THE MONEY

Sports Illustrated basketball writer Sam Amick makes a great point in his column on Sunday about why there is a legitimate allure to playing abroad for NBA superstars:

There is a fact that seems to always be forgotten, too: playing overseas means not paying taxes. While there are taxes to be paid, several agents with experience doing international deals said they typically negotiate for the team to cover those payments as part of the contract.

Low state income taxes in Florida and Texas have long made the Heat, Magic, Mavericks and Rockets attractive destinations for NBA players.  Therefore, Amick’s point about reduced tax obligations as an incentive that will make NBA superstars amenable to playing in exhibition games overseas should really be taken seriously.  As I mentioned last week the branding opportunities abroad for players is still very fertile and a prolonged lockout will give some stars an opportunity to deepen their brand in international markets.  Others will likely be enticed by the opportunity to essentially make their post-tax salaries playing half as many games.
Of course, only a select group of players are really in a position to capitalize on this phenomenon, but fortunately for NBPA, this is the same select group that owners rely on to fill their stadiums on a nightly basis.Moreover, as clips of NBA bonafides like Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose playing in front of packed arenas overseas continue making the rounds online NBA fans stateside areon’t the only ones who’ll be jonesing for what they’re missing

NBA stars looking abroad in earnest – Sam Amick – SI.com.

Spor

yaoming

Reflection on Yao Ming

In some ways it is fitting that Yao Ming retired during an NBA Lockout, one which some of the league’s most prominent stars are openly debating playing overseas if the lockout drags on.  Without Yao, the NBA would have been far less successful in its global expansion efforts.  Yao’s singular presence in China alone gave the NBA an international foothold enjoyed only by one other professional sport, soccer.

While not as lucrative as its American counterparts baseball and football, neither the MLB nor the NFL can claim the same global reach enjoyed by the NBA. Then again, this is part of the problem that has driven a wedge between the players and owners.  Players such as Kobe, Yao, Dirk and LeBron are international icons who are as recognizable in some parts of the globe as their one-name soccer playing brethren, but at home the owners in their sport claim to be paupers.

During Yao’s eight year career international players became staples on most NBA rosters to the point that three years after Yao’s arrival the Toronto Raptors were comfortable enough making Andrea Bargnani the first international player chosen as the number one overall pick in the NBA draft (Hakeem Olajuwon played basketball at the University of Houston which is why Bargnani is often greeted with this honor).  Yao made six all-star teams and established himself as one of the best offensive centers in the league during his tenure.

Yao Ming will be remembered as the most important international center of the last thirty years even though he was far from the best.  Along with Olajuwon, players such as Dikembe Mutombo, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Arvydas Sabonis had arguably more successful playing careers than Yao.  What distinguishes Yao from the others on this list is how he not only served as a role model/inspiration for a billion people, but how he opened the door for many of his peers in the NBA to extend the reach of their brands.

 

 

draft-logo

Should the NBA Draft be Just One Round?

Watching NBATV’s replays of the NBA drafts from year’s past this weekend made me realize that in some ways the draft has come a long way.  The decision in 1987 to move from three rounds to two not only did a lot for the integrity of the telecasts, but also helped shore up the quality entering the league.  Now, almost a quarter of a century later, it’s time for the league to consider revamping the draft again.

The production value of the telecasts have improved immensely, so there’s no need to change anything on the production side.

What I would to propose is that the league cut the draft to one round.

Unlike football and baseball where teams have larger rosters and either practice squads and minor league rosters to compile, most basketball teams usually have three, tops four, roster spots up for grabs every given year.  And for many teams the second round has become more of a obligation than a valuable exercise.  For every Gilbert Arenas or Carlos Boozer there are a hundred Tadija Dragićevićs or Bracey Wrights.  And in years where there are weak draft classes such as this one, the second round is such a crapshoot, that it’s really more of an imposition on teams than anything else.

Instead of two rounds, what if the league went to a one-round draft?  All undrafted rookies would then compete for roster spots in the summer league.  This would improve the quality of drafts for most teams because it would force international players who normally would’ve gotten picked in the second round to come overseas and compete with other prospects if they wanted to make an NBA squad.  This would all but end the exercise of teams drafting foreign players and leaving them overseas.

A one round draft would open up more spots for veterans and make the summer league, not to mention the D-League more competitive.  It would also be helpful for the prospects who don’t get drafted in the first round because they’ll have greater control in selecting their teams.

Cutting the draft down to one round will also give teams a better chance at making sound personnel decisions.

Mavericks NBA Champs

The Dallas Mavericks: Your Transition-Year NBA Champions

I almost missed this piece in GQ by FreeDarko’s Bethlehem Shoal’s.  Shoals does a great job of summarizing the significance of Dallas’ win and putting it in historical context.

No one’s expecting the Mavericks to repeat. Still, this title—in addition to being a freakin’ NBA title—gives bragging rights to a franchise that was a joke for so many years. It’s not the beginning of Dirk’s Hall of Fame career, as it was for Alcindor or would have been for Walton, but a nice coda, and the ultimate way to clear the air.

via The Dallas Mavericks: Your Transition-Year NBA Champions (Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That): The Q: GQ.

Iguodala/Ellis

Monta Ellis for Andre Iguodala Trade Should be DOA

So let me get this straight, Golden State has finally come to the conclusion that it can’t compete in the NBA with two small guards, combo guards, whatever you want to call them starting in their back court. Regardless of how talented Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry are, Golden State’s defensive sets are off-kilter on a nightly basis because Ellis is constantly matched up with bigger guards like Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, and oh yeah, Andre Iguodala on a nightly basis. Now it makes complete sense for Golden State to try alleviating itself of this problem.

That being said, why on earth would the Sixers want to inherit the same problem that Golden State is trying to remedy.

Neither Ellis nor Iguodala have any history as troublemakers. They both seem to be great teammates and have performed admirably in the league. So this is purely a personnel decision, which makes it bizarre that Rod Thorn would think that combining Ellis and Jrue Holiday could work out better than the Ellis + Curry backcourt in Golden State.

If Lou Williams weren’t on the Sixers roster you can make a case that Philadelphia could move Evan Turner into the starting lineup and turn Ellis into a Jason Terry like scorer off the bench, but since Williams already occupies that role, this is clearly a bad trade for the Sixers.

And while Iguodala does solve most of Golden State’s matchup problems, I can’t say that I am excited about this trade for them either. Iguodala’s presence might stifle some of the growth shown by Dorell Wright this past year. Letting Wright get enamored with the idea that he’s a three point specialist is not in the best interest of the Warriors, which is precisely what I fear would happen if Iguodala were to come on board.

More power to the Warriors if they pull off this trade–and for the Sixers no matter how you slice it this one is a head scratcher.

go-spurs-go

5 Myths About NBA Small Market Teams

With the Western Conference Finals drawing to a close analysts are beginning to heighten their speculation about the future of Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook. This morning on ESPN Chris Broussard mentioned the possibility of New Orleans or New Jersey possibly swapping their all-star point guards for Westbrook if it looks like either team will be unable to retain Chris Paul and Deron Williams respectively. I’ve engaged in similar chatter on twitter so the intent here not to criticize the inevitable. Instead I will take this opportunity to counter 5 of the prevailing myths about small market teams in the NBA

1) Players don’t like playing in small markets:
Players don’t like losing. Players may prefer in some cities over others, usually because of proximity to their hometowns (see point 2 ), but what they hate is losing. If a player is winning and competing for a championship then most concerns about a team’s location tend to fade away.

2) There’s nothing for young, rich black guys to do in _____
This argument is often used against teams such as Utah, Minnesota and Indiana. Well, I can think of one thing for young rich black guys can do in these cities: collect a check. Sure, no one is going to conflate Salt Lake City with Atlanta anytime soon, but it’s also stupid to think that all black people like Atlanta. More often than not, I think the issue is here that many fail to acknowledge that playing basketball is a job for these athletes, therefore they’re going to take the same things into account when deciding where to play as anyone else would do in accepting a job. And as we all know, one of things that matters most to job seekers is proximity to friends and family.

3) It’s hard to get endorsements in small markets:
No it’s harder to get endorsements when your teams suck and you don’t have much of a personality. Patrick Ewing was a star in New York, but he wasn’t flooded with endorsements because fans didn’t relate to him as much as they did Michael Jordan, nor did he have the rings that helped propel Hakeem Olajuwon’s endorsement deals. Paul Pierce has had a better career than Antoine Walker, but during their time together on the Celtics Walker was by far the more recognizable and marketable player. Lebron James and Dwight Howard can currently teach a master-class on securing endorsements because of their success in Cleveland and Orlando respectively.

4) It’s harder to keep players once they become stars
This is an extension of point one, but the real reason is that being in a small market won’t elicit any sympathy from other owners. When Mitch Kupchak was fleecing Memphis in the Pau Gasol deal he surely wasn’t thinking, “geez, Memphis is a small market deal, I really should make them a better offer.” Kupchak’s job is to help L.A. win titles. Every other GM and front office staff has the same goal for their teams, so small markets shouldn’t expect handouts because if they have inept front offices. So when the Pacers and Blazers were forced to trade very talented players for P.R. reasons, it was incumbent upon the other teams in those trades to give the Pacers 50-70 cents on the dollar for those players because their jobs was to protect the interest of their teams. And if all you needed was to be in a big market to attract players, then the Knicks and Clippers would be churning out all-star rosters every year.

5) Small Market teams aren’t profitable
If they’re not then Utah and Sacramento never got the memo.Both franchises have been among the best run and most profitable in the league for years now. They’ve been successful because they developed a core group of players who can compete every year, drafted very well from late positions in the draft and even did even better when they were in the lottery. San Antonio are simply doing what teams like LA, Boston and Chicago have done for years, playing to their strengths and build off winning teams.

derrick-rose

Should Derrick Rose Win the NBA MVP?

I seem to have become a curmudgeon in my old age because I practically refuse to award a point guard the MVP because some of my favorite pgs Jason Kidd, Gary Payton and Isaiah Thomas never won the award during their outstanding careers.  This was the argument that I gave when Steve Nash won the award, and it’s the starting point for my case against Derrick Rose this year. However, the more that I think about Rose, the more I realize that my problem isn’t so much with pgs winning the mvp (although it kinda is) it also has a lot to do with the stark imbalance between the MVP and and Most Improved Player recipients.

For example, Dorrell Wright and Rose are the front runners for the MIP and MVP respectively.  Now can you imagine a scenario where if you were picking an NBA team and you couldn’t get Rose you’d be comfortable settling for Dorell Wright as your first choice?  Moreover since 2000 here are the names of the MIP recipients Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O’Neal, Gilbert Arenas, Zach Randolph, Bobby Simmons, Boris Diaw, Monta Ellis, Hedo Turkoglu, Danny Granger and Aaron Brooks.  Of that list, only Randolph and Turkoglu are making notable contributions to teams with winning records.

Compare that list to the list of MVP recipients since 2000: Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, and Lebron James.

How can the league have so much discretion with one list and manage to corral such a hodgepodge group with the other list.  Of that MIP list only McGrady seemed poised to ever win an MVP in the league.  Jermaine O’Neal and Gilbert Arenas are probably the only other people who could at least count as longshots in that group.

So what does this have to do with Derrick Rose winning the MVP you ask?  Well, I think Rose would be a great Most Improved Player candidate.  He did an excellent job incorporating his new teammates and getting a more talented roster to gel.  He improved as a scorer, defender and most importantly a team leader.  He’s given the bulls their first legitimate post-Jordan face of the franchise.  He should definitely be commended for all of these efforts.  Does that make him the most valuable player in the league?

Answer me this, if you put Russell Westbrook in Rose’s place do the Bulls still not win their division and make the playoffs?  You could even replace Rose with any of these pgs and the Bulls still make the playoffs, and likely win their division Nash, Tony Parker, Baron Davis, Deron Williams, Andre Miller, or even Chauncey Billups.  But would any of these other guys make your MVP shortlist if they accomplished just that?  This is important because one factor that’s gone overlooked by those lobbying for Rose’s coronation is that all the other teams in the Central Division finished with losing records.  Rose played on a team that improved during the off-season in a division that took a gigantic step back.

Part of me feels I need to roll with Tony Kornheiser here and give the MVP award to Lebron James not because of how well the Heat played but because of the catastrophic demise of the Cavaliers.  Bron Bron did his thing thing.  His team improved from last season in spite of playing 2 on 5 most nights.  He weathered an intense amount of scrutiny and criticism. He played in the toughest division in the eastern conference, and on a team that outperformed another leading candidate’s/divisional rival’s team.  The Heat too feasted on the bottom feeders of this league and did not fare well against the other top ten teams except Orland and LA for some reason.

Therefore, if I had an MVP Ballot, it would look something like this:

Lebron James

Kevin Durant

Dwight Howard

 

and my Most Improved Player Ballot would look like this:

Derrick Rose

Russell Westbrook

LaMarcus Aldridge