I suppose after a coach goes 0-17 in the NBA, a firing is in order. But New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank got screwed, and screwed hard, by a team and an ownership more concerned with clearing money for this supposed move to the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn than with putting a competitive team on the floor.
There is a little talent on the Nets. A little. There are a lot of injuries as well. And a lot of backups. Josh Boone and Rafer Alston – as much as I love the guy from my neck of Queens – shouldn’t be logging major minutes. Every trade shouldn’t be to cut space. Courtney Lee is not a starting 2-guard without some high-volume shooters around him.
And while Lawrence Frank may not have been a miracle worker, he was a good soldier, and a decent coach. A man with a lot of energy. He’ll land on his feet – take some time off, stop losing hair, sleep 8 hours in one night. Maybe he will coach college… that Rutgers job could use a tactician…
Just as Allen Iverson twists in the wind as a free agent, waiting for someone to make him an offer worthy of his talents…
A great, great mashup with a solid beat of Iverson’s “practice” rant, Jim Mora on “p-p-PLAYOFFS?”, Dennis Green’s “they are who we thought they were” (which I never thought was that outrageous), Mike Gundy’s “I’m a man! I’m 40!” tirade, Joe Namath’s “I want to kiss you” leer, and Terrell Owens’ crying with emotion about his quarterback.
You may have heard that Colorado Buffaloes head coach Jeff Bzdelik (once the coach of the NBA Denver Nuggets), had a “casual talk” with the General Manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves while taking in an NBA summer league game. This blog thought it was curious that the Athletic Director of the University of Colorado put out a statement about the “casual talk”.
Turns out that, according to the Denver Post, the statement seems to be an effort to put the information out there and crush any rumor-milling that may come of the “unexpected”, “casual talk”. On the face of it, it’s good to make sure that, for recruiting efforts and team morale, it is very important to let the Buffalo players know that their coach isn’t going anywhere.
In fact, this bit of “news” helps reinforce Bzdelik’s bonafides – the NBA people hold him in high regard, despite the severe outclassing that Bzdelik’s Colorado tenure has been. After all, one shouldn’t
lose toget blown out by Vermont and Texas Christian as a major conference team in a coach’s second year. Eyebrows, fully raised.
All of this may be blown up/ over-communicated on the web over essentially nothing. Jeff Bzdelik might be completely committed to the Buffalo basketball program. But this also might be a coach who would be happy to land on his feet after last year’s 9-22 record; or an AD who might look at his team, the unknown recruits and lack of size or competitive athleticism and think… well, if he left, would that be the worst thing?
The Buffs were simply awful last year, an uncompetitive 1-win skidmark on the Big XII schedule in basketball. They have a long way to go to make a turnaround, and their terrible rebounding highlights the struggles of a short team with one excellent talent in Cory Higgins and non-rebounding, distance shooting big men.
Faced with long odds, when does a “casual talk” become serious interest for Bzdelik?
[Also known as Confirmation Day in the Church of Bracketology]
photos from Draft Express and the Hoops Report
Years ago I would meet with some friends at one of the larger bars in Manhattan to watch the NBA draft, mostly so I could lose my mind and start cussing into the air, in public, when, say, Marcus Camby was traded (with the rights to Nenê) for Frank Williams and a broken Antonio McDyess (who has, admittedly carved out quite a decent post-injury career for himself). I think my friends just wanted to see what I did when the Knicks did something so very obviously bad for their future and salary cap.
The funny thing is that I have a lot more affection for the Nets, really, but the Knicks are what New Yorkers of my age grew up with – Patrick Ewing, the kind of physicality and slowdown style that facilitates rules changes, the haircut of Anthony Mason, the post-game interview voice of John Starks… so it’s the Knicks I focus on when watching the draft. The Nets under Rod Thorn have made very good picks, from the Richard Jefferson year to Lopez and Anderson last year. They’re not all gangbusters, but they get players who get on the court.
Some of the storylines going into tonight’s NBA draft:
+ The Knicks might be looking to trade Quentin Richardson for Memphis’ Darko Milicic… and may pick Gerald Henderson of Duke tonight. Apparently Coach Krzyzewski convinced Mike D’Antoni to sign free agent Chris Duhon, improving Duhon’s nightlife options immeasurably… possibly to the detriment of the team (no evidence, just conjecture). I kind of would like Darko. He’s not the second coming, but might be better under D’Antoni; he improved slightly in his scoring per 40 minutes last year. What else will the Knicks do to improve?
+ Not a storyline per se, but Free Darko analyzes the model stylings of future draftees Hasheem Thabeet, Pretty Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry, Tyler Hansbrough, and more.
+ Some guy named Shaquille O’Neal who is very large was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the expiring contracts of Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic. Basketball Prospectus thinks it is a poor trade, since O’Neal is a defensive liability and needs the ball to be effective… and he’s not that effective anymore. And I like Zydrunas Ilgauskas’s game next to LeBron (Z has some range and some post game)… I think the team needs something more impactful at the guard position. Casn they find a steal in the draft to keep Lebron in Cleveland?
+ Speaking of Basketball Prospectus, here are some statistical translations from Euroleague stats for Pretty Ricky Rubio, Brandon Jennings, Omri Casspi, and Sergio Llull, who I have not heard of. And while we’re at it, here are translations for stateside players, ranking the guards in terms of WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player). Will these projections be correct? Is Nick Calathes a future NBA star?
+ And then there’s the Brandon Jennings thing. Ball in Europe talks about how Jennings’ season was a net negative, a bust, and those numbers bear it out. Rough season for the youngster, even though Lottomatica Roma teammate Ibrahim Jabber likes his game in a long-winded post on True Hoop.
And he might be bitter now, but the benefits may be greater than simply showing that he can play and score. Lisa Olson writes on Jennings’ study abroad year:
People who study these things for a living say he is certainly a top three talent, but then they add words like “mystery” and “enigma” and “bad attitude” to his dossier, and nobody knows quite where Jennings will land….
“It was tough,” he says. “But I made a decision and I stuck with it. I like to think I matured as a man and as a player.”
Thing is? Jennings is still talented, but he has to improve some parts of his game, according to scouting reports (the outside shot, the decision-making). And he’s probably going to be drafted in the lottery. His experience will inform players like Jeremy Tyler that it is possible to go to Europe for basketball and come back, but it won’t be like going to State U and playing 38 minutes a game, with Dick Vitale yammering how they are awesome-baby. And maybe that’s a better fortune.
+ The last few days have been trade-crazy, with teams trying to get into position to get the impact players in what many feel is a weak (but possibly deep with role players?) draft. Richard Jefferson is happy to be “relevant again,” and I am happy he is as well; part of that deal means forward Amir Johnson will go to Milwaukee; the Timberwolves got the #5 pick in the draft, along with some large bodies who hold down the chairs; 76ers are looking to the old school logo; and Tracy McGrady might find himself traded for a draft pick. Those Rockets played pretty well without him…
+ Who are going to be the sleepers and the busts? SI’s Luke Winn looks at efficiency numbers in different scenarios… James Harden might have some work to do on his game in the faster-paced (than his Arizona State offense) NBA.
I take a break from the college basketball to say I really should not have paid attention to other people’s status messages and turned on the Chicago Bulls game. I was dead tired, completely exhausted, but I wanted to see a little bit of this “whoa” game that people were talking about.
And it would not end. Big shot after big shot. Players fouling out. Big Baby Glen Davis ballin’ like we knew he could – that big man is something.
At the end of the third overtime, Joakim Noah came out of some sloppy ballhandling and used that agility to dribble his found basketball to the hoop and get fouled by Paul Pierce – one foul away from disqualification – in the process. So Pierce fouled out. From the Sun-Times:
”Words can’t really explain it right now, but at the same time I understand that we haven’t accomplished anything yet,” Noah said. ”I’m just really excited that we’re still alive. We were really close to death today. I feel like every game’s like that — it’s such a roller coaster — but I’m having so much fun right now. I really feel blessed to be in this situation.”
Big play by Mr. Noah, great activity – that was some of the best of his game. Sometimes haphazard, but always balls out.
Proving you can always get a second chance… former Iowa Hawkeye basketball player Pierre Pierce won his appeal to “complete his probation” in France, where he has a contract to play professional basketball. The Attorney General of Iowa took it to the state Supreme Court to no avail.
I’m a proponent of guys getting back on their feet after a crime, earning a living in whatever they can, and in this case, at a sport that Pierce has always been regarded as excellent in. While the claim is that there are few restrictions dealing with probation, I’m not sure how supervision will be maintained in France. Will he have to check in with the US Embassy? Is there an embassy in Toulon, where Pierce will play for Hayes Toulon with Drew Lavender and others? (the embassy is in Paris.) It’s one thing to complete your sentence… but Pierce was arrested for violating his probation by going to an NBA Developmental League tryout in Vegas, and partying on the side. I guess what happened didn’t stay in Vegas.
As for Pierre Pierce’s transgressions… well, there was the arrest in 2002, where he was charged with sexual assault causing injury and pled guilty to a lesser charge (claiming “inappropriate conduct with a fellow student”) that allowed him to remain with the basketball team. And in 2005, he was sentenced to two years for assault, and one year (concurrent) for false imprisonment and criminal mischief. he also had his sentence suspended for the burglary charge. He did 11 months with time off for good behavior.
If you want to read what he did (and please ignore the bolded misspellings in Pierce’s quoted email, many people can’t spell to save their lives), the search warrant is here, including how Pierce had a domestic dispute, came back the next night, and after the cops came the second time, assaulted his ex-girlfriend, tried to restrain her, and after she got away, trashed her apartment and stole her laptop.
And then, of course, apologized, as any recurring abuser does.
Everything in my life is basketball-related. I keep my body right with Pilates once a week, yoga once a week. I’m in contact with my probation officer every two weeks.
I have been seeing a psychiatrist once a week since May, sometimes two times a week. The psychiatrist helps, definitely. We read all kinds of different books, talk about past mistakes, and relate it to my everyday life. It helps me….
I made mistakes. I served time for that. And I learned from the mistakes I have made. Now I’m a better decision maker. I work on anger management, relationship coping skills … all things I wasn’t aware of before. It’s a lifelong experience for me.
I take a very low view of sexual assault; I think it’s an area where the law doesn’t punish hard enough in cases where one party is clearly assaulting the other. There is no cause for holding someone down and for making violent threats. And twice? That is a lot of anger that Pierce has to work through. Can someone clear their impulses and learn to react to their relationships in a different way? But moreover, is a chance at a successful professional career extraordinary enough for a man to move his probation out of the country? Especially when he violated parole before?
Hugo Chavez is ramping up his anti-American rhetoric. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin has a tough time answering questions; here’s a post on how her answer should imply a lack of preparation for the job. Agree? Disagree? Oh hell, did you know Susan Sarandon’s daughter is attractive? Yeah, it’s time for an unrelated picture of an attractive woman, Eva Amurri.
Here are some things that have passed by my eyes that I haven’t had a chance to delve into yet:
+ The Southern Illinois Salukis weren’t very good last year; but the freshmen (Kevin Dillard and Ryan Hare) are so promising, returning guard Josh Bone opted to transfer after their Labor Day preseason trip.
+ Basketball Prospectus has an analysis of what a player needs to do when making the jump from college to the pros. The same jump is probably necessary when going into the college game:
Part of the development for a player making the leap into a new level of play must be adjusting the player to the speed of the game…. In coaching, it means taking a four-step process and working to condense it to only two steps. A player must read a situation, recognize the circumstances, judge between various courses of action and react properly. Once a player has fully adjusted to the speed of the game, they are able to condense the process into reading and reacting.
+ The Giants and Jets’ fans are pissed because the team wants to sell naming rights to a German company that was a Nazi collaborator. Some folks will use the “well, no one from the company then is part of the company now,” or refer to how Henry Ford was said to be a big Nazi supporter (and an anti-Semite himself), so money’s money. Personally, I think it’s in poor taste and bad PR, especially in an area with a number of Jewish fans. Even if there was not a large Jewish population, I’d say “poor taste.”
+ Less serious: what to expect of Yi Jianlian? No one knows; but one of his coaches in Milwaukee delves into the conundrum of Yi.
+ Duke University defends kicking Rudy9/11AnyQuestions Giuliani’s son Andrew off the golf team. Apparently, he’s a jackass:
But Duke said in a court filing Wednesday that the 22-year-old Giuliani was properly suspended after throwing an apple in the face of another player, breaking a golf club during a tournament, injuring a teammate and becoming verbally abusive with a coach.
+ Have these football rivalries fallen off?
+ One Jamaican blogger thinks Jamaicans have too much free time, as evidenced by how many people came out to congratulate sprinter Usain Bolt.
This will be under a cut because it loops, but so far it’s the only video or photo I have of the throwdown in Beijing, proof positive that despite Howard’s denials, he sure does get dunked on (the image/ video is from True Hoop and RotoEvil, click on “Read the Rest of This Entry“):
Ah, a busy day at work, there is a (dude that’s totally fake) Montauk Monster that washed up on the eastern LI shores (pictured @ left). The oldest recorded joke we know of is about flatulence, the next one is about sex. And below, a completely unnecessary photo of Danneel Harris, one of the stars of Harold and Kumar go to Guantanamo Bay, a movie whose unrated version featured and uncomfortable amount of (unrealistic) female nudity for a man to watch with his lady. I can’t believe I’m typing this, but it actually was excessive and took from the humor. Now for some links:
+At first, I thought the Griffey trade to the White Sox (now approved!) sounded awesome. And now that he’s approved it, I think… why? The Sox have Swisha-house, Jermaine Dye, the killin’-it Carlos Quentin, and then Thome and Konerko at 1B/ DH… so unless they trade one of those guys or glue Konerko to the bench, I don’t get it yet.
+Dear Mets: That is NOT a reason to make a stupid trade. Even though John Maine is strained and the Mets are worried about Pelfrey’s workload. No dumb trades, guys. no rentals, no Billy Taylors. The team is humming, and Hardball Times points out the the pitching staff is improved by half a run since Rick Peterson’s firing, and though his defense has not been as good, Jose Reyes might be the best shortstop in the league at creating runs.
“When I text-messaged with Luis (Scola), we talked about team chemistry. That’s only what worries us. We worry about the new attitude to the team. We are adding talent to the team, and we need that, but building team chemistry is important. This is not bad. I don’t mean he is not welcome to Houston. But a new player always needs some time.
“There’s worry. Obviously, yes. … Hopefully, he’s not fighting anymore and going after a guy in the stands. … I have to find a way to talk to him and see what we can do as a basketball team. He has a history, but we know he is a physical player. He is a good player. He really can help us.”
Ron Ron countered:
“This is Tracy (McGrady) and Yao’s team, you know,” Artest said. “I’m not going to take it personal. I understand what Yao said, but I’m still ghetto. That’s not going to change. I’m never going to change my culture. Yao has played with a lot of black players, but I don’t think he’s ever played with a black player that really represents his culture as much as I represent my culture.
“Once Yao Ming gets to know me, he’ll understand what I’m about. But really, he doesn’t have to talk to me, because to me, I’m going (to Houston).”
I’d like to add this part: while not a black player, I am black, and Ron Ron, you have your own culture. Queensbridge doesn’t even share your culture, you’re on some other stuff. New York loves you, but Ron, you represent Artest. You go back to Queensbridge, but are your pants are saggy, teeth yellow, a la Method Man/ Redman?
More pro and college basketball, and a note about the Jets and Farve after the jump.