I missed last night’s NBA Draft but am catching up on the happenings:
The Nets traded Richard Jefferson to Milwaukee for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons. Simmons, who was a one year wonder, and Yi who… well… he’s a better marketing chip (to reach out to the Chinese market) than he is a baller. But both can play a little. I mean, a very little. And it’s a step away from the numerous attempts to “reload” and get to the bottom half of the NBA Playoffs, while dropping the 3 years and 42 mil that Jefferson has on his contract:
That contract, which has three years and $42.4 million to go on it, was another reason the Nets made this deal.
Yi is still on his rookie contract, and Simmons’ deal has only two years to run at salaries of $9.9 million and $10.5 million. That means prior to last night’s draft, the Nets technically had only $26.6 million earmarked for player salaries after the 2009-10 season, which gives them a virtual clean slate with which to rebuild a team that won only 33 games last year.
And while Thorn is loathe to admit it, he has sought to keep the payroll low for the summer of 2010, when — at least theoretically — players such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carlos Boozer become free agents, while others such as Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh could opt-out of their contracts.
RJ was my favorite Net, sad to see him go. Maybe I’ll catch a game in Milwaukee.
They also drafted Stanford center Brook Lopez, who dropped to 10. He’s tall. But any talk of him starting is crazy – over Krstic’s offense? Over Josh Boone’s rebounding? Over Sean Williams’ shot blocking (okay, he’s probably as good and doesn’t make Coach Lawrence Frank lose his hair)? Coupled with Brook’s stiffness – he plays hard, but doesn’t look fluid:
Brook’s measurements in Orlando revealed a massive 7-foot, 5.5-inch wingspan. Combine that with his frame and ability to add weight, and there’s no doubt he can play center in the NBA. (He was mostly a power forward at Stanford, with Robin rooted in the middle.)
Heck, Brook might not have a choice in terms of his position. I say that because his lane-agility time (12.77 seconds) in Orlando was the worst of all the prospects.
I don’t think he’s anything more than a rotation player.
Additionally: the Nets drafted Ryan Anderson and Chris Douglas Roberts. I love Anderson’s ability to shoot the ball. Chris Douglas-Roberts has some ability as a slashing scorer, but he’s not NBA quick, and he never struck me as that strong. But he’s gotten it done on one of the best teams in the country, so he gets a second round look.
The Knicks draft the Italian, the New York crowd boos, same as it ever was. Gallinari says he will earn the applause; (from the Italian media). His shooting impressed the Knicks.
David Lee, the most coveted Knick, will remain a potential chip, and there was talk that the Bobcats had offered point guard Raymond Felton for Lee. But a person with knowledge of the situation said there was nothing to that. Portland has shown an interest in Lee, and the Knicks would want Steve Blake to run the offense.
The 6-9 Gallinari’s arrival likely means farewell to Lee, a fan favorite who emerged as a solid rebounder and intangibles player the past two seasons. Walsh and coach Mike D’Antoni envision Gallinari as a power forward. Lee is headed into the final year of his rookie contract and is seeking a long-term extension, and Walsh realizes he is his only tradable commodity.
Darrell Arthur was the last guy in the Green Room (article by Luke Winn); he was eventually traded twice, to the Rockets and then to the Memphis Grizzlies for… Donte Greene. Snicker away, please. Houston’s GM is supposed to be a statistics guy, but I can’t see anything, besides Greene’s block rate and ability to run agility drills, that endears him to an NBA team.
And then, Minnesota’s GM Kevin McHale trades OJ Mayo for Kevin Love, and Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric, + Greg Buckner (three players who should think about other forms of employment besides the NBA) for Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, and Jason Collins (the latter two should consider other employment).
The Minnesota media (Pioneer Press) (Star Tribune) know that McHale has most likely screwed up again, passing on a potential superstar who is better than the guards the Timberwolves have for a forward who seems redundant with the star they have in Al Jefferson. The lower part of this Basketball Prospectus post has some insight:
My initial reaction was incredulity. Talent for talent, this move doesn’t make any sense.
Minnesota now pairs Love with Al Jefferson. The Knicks proved how difficult it is in today’s game to operate a double-post. The middle gets clogged and the offense loses its rhythm. Jefferson will still be the main man in the low-post and, yes, Love can probably develop a face-up game, but what sense does it make to do that? …The Timberwolves also add Miller, who can provide some of what Mayo can at the two-guard, but the difference in upside is monumental. Instead of a dynamic young backcourt of Foye and Mayo to combine with a go-to big man in Jefferson, you end up with a maybe above-average backcourt in Foye and Miller, with Love trying to share space with Jefferson and a prayer that Corey Brewer can turn things around from his terrible rookie campaign….
Note that Sean Evans is taking Larry Wright’s old number 5, and DJ Kennedy has given up his number 10 to Quincy Roberts, taking the number 1 instead. That’s a lot of responsibility, Kennedy!
Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon choked general manager Ed Wade during an argument.
In Euro 2008, Turkey finally loses. But not without another ill last 15 minutes goal, which was answered in the 90th minute by a German goal for the win.
Tonight is the NBA draft; Chad Ford and Bill Simmons chat about the top picks (I like Chad Ford’s work, and his comments here).
The University of South Florida recruit Dwan McMillan has problems with his academic record and will likely not suit up for South Florida this coming season.
Photos from the Steve Nash charity soccer event in Manhattan, including Theirry Henry, Baron Davis, Raja Bell, Leandro Barbosa, and Jason Kidd.
The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy disagrees with he feasibility of Brandon Jennings’ European basketball plan, making salient logistical points. I don’t agree with all his assertions, but why would a European team make an investment, and then, why would they play him?:
It starts with the notion there would be a huge market for a player in Jennings’ circumstance. His stated intention is to be a part of the 2009 draft. So why would a European team want to make any sort of investment in him? The agent wouldn’t rule out the possibility that some rogue owner might take a flyer, but he considers it highly unlikely. He said it’s not like it was when Danny Ferry was lured to Europe for a time after he went No. 2 overall in the 1989 draft. The money is not as loose for American players now.
“The only guarantee with contracts in Europe,” he said, “is that you’re guaranteed not to get all the money you’re expecting.”
There also is the fact we’re talking about Jennings, not LeBron James or Greg Oden or even O.J. Mayo. Jennings is an appealing prospect for the Arizona Wildcats, but he is not nearly as well known or established as some of his predecessors. He is a score-first point guard, and European coaches, who tend to be “play the right way” types in the Larry Brown mold, are unlikely to be excited about his style.
Many teams in Europe are loathe to play the young talents that are homegrown and under contract. French big man Alexis Ajinca should be one of the first international prospects taken in Thursday’s draft; he averaged 11 minutes a game for Hyeres-Toulon last winter. Turkish center Omer Asik, another first-round prospect, got about 18 minutes a game for Fenerbache in Euroleague competition.
In order to actually play, Jennings might have to go to a much lower level where the salaries are limited and collecting at payday can be an adventure. Indeed, if any of those teams will have him.
This is not the revolutionary moment in basketball that opponents of the NBA’s draft age limit dream it to be. Even if Jennings were find an interested team, sign a lucrative deal, navigate the likely cultural and linguistic barriers, crack his team’s lineup and excel on the floor — he’s more likely to go 0-for-5 in those pursuits than 5-for-5 — this still would not be the best avenue for elite prospects to follow because it removes players from the consciousness of the American sports fan.
NCAA antagonists have convinced a generation of players their time in college basketball is uncompensated, but it’s a lie. Beyond the education, living expenses and high-level training provided to all Division I basketball players, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony signed contracts with Nike worth a combined $81 million based on the reputations they gained in one college season each — Durant as 2007 national player of the year, Anthony as 2003 NCAA Tournament most outstanding player. They became famous, and therefore their endorsements became valuable, because of college basketball. There would be precious little marketing appeal in a player who went from Oak Hill Academy to Europe.
- An interview from Storming the Floor with the new New Jersey Institute of Technology coach Jim Engels, on finding players and how there’s nowhere to go but up after an 0-29 season.
- Tim O’Shea took the Bryant University job to be closer to his roots and for the security of a long term (8 year) contract. That’s a pretty nice hire; Providence was looking at O’Shea also, and he has a track record of decent success.
- Cedric Benson is required to have a breathalyzer installed in his car. It’s connected to his ignition and his ride won’t start if his blood alcohol level is above the legal limit. Doesn’t mean he can’t start someone else’s car. Read more about the device from the Kicking Tires blog and USA Today.
- An update on new coach Derek Kellogg, now looking for more players for the University of Massachusetts squad to run the dribble-drive offense.
- An article from CNBC on how the days of the first-round draft pick getting a shoe contract before the rookie contract have changed, with contractual power in the hands of Nike (instead of in the hands of the players), bidding wars at a low level, and new shoes less profitable for the companies.
- The nation’s best college basketball players will be seniors, writes Andy Glockner.
- Top NBA free agents most likely to change teams… and least likely to change teams.
- Why would you hide evidence in your anus? Find out.
And an RIP George Carlin post, of course:
To catch you up: recently, it’s been tossed about that top high school recruit, Brandon Jennings, might skip out of his commitment to the University of Arizona and play in Europe, due to some discrepancy in his scores on his SAT attempts:
“It’s something I’m considering now,” Jennings said. “I still want to go to Arizona but if things don’t go right, I’m considering going overseas.”
Jennings said he will get his standardized test results back next Thursday. This is the third time he has taken a standardized test. Jennings said he was red-flagged for a jump in his score from the first to the second test. He said he didn’t know his scores.
“The first time I took it I didn’t try, the second time I did so I had to take it a third time,” Jennings said.
Arizona assistant coach Mike Dunlap said Friday that the staff was well aware that Jennings was looking into playing overseas.
Overseas? No one does that. Like… not in a college?
Now there is a solid idea – the NBA’s age limit is a restriction on young people to earn a wage out of high school. And while I am sure people would like to think that sending these kids to college is extremely helpful for their lives, it’s more of a revenue generator for the umbrella organization (NCAA) and the school that has a “contract” to the player. That contract is spelled out in favorable terms for the school – they provide education, room, board, coaching, and travel. But do those players value those items equally? From all accounts, many players are there to showcase themselves for professional basketball options. The education value is low on their totem pole.
It’s always interesting to see players hustling to get that qualifying score for their college, by the way. Makes me wonder sometimes what their friends and even AAU coaches are doing – you got to qualify to become a star! Or else you become, well, Lenny Cooke. How bad are those high school grades… or how “good” are they?
(And if he does go to college, will the NCAA give an extra long look at his high school and collegiate transcripts? You know, to see if he is really going to that Golf 101 class? To see if he really passed biology?)
So, Brandon Jennings really might go to Europe to ball? From today’s New York Times:
“I think people just develop better over there,” he said. “You’re playing professional ball for a year, you’re playing against guys who are older than you. I’ll constantly be playing basketball 24-7. I don’t have to worry about school and things like that.”
On the surface, that sounds troubling. In reality, forcing talented players who otherwise would be drafted to spend a sham year in college does not advance higher education. The N.C.A.A., the N.B.A. and the union created a class of hired guns.
“For a person that plays ball, our dream is to get to the N.B.A.,” Jennings said. “College is like, O.K., we’ll do this one year, but our real mind-set is that we’re trying to get to the league, take care of our families. They’re making us do college so we feel like, Let’s do one year, go to class half the time.”
Jennings could play a role in redirecting the pipeline that carries N.B.A.-ready talent from high school to college, in which the best players are forced to mark time for a season. There are not many options.
A player could go to the N.B.A. development league. He would be eligible to play in the league because he is a high school graduate, but he couldn’t be called up to an N.B.A. roster. He would become eligible for the N.B.A. draft the next season.
Jennings will receive his test scores on Thursday. He’ll huddle with his mother, Alice, to determine whether to go to Arizona for the obligatory year or go to Europe to begin his pro career.
What’ll it be: Spain or Paris, or Tucson? Being compensated —half a million to a million Euros, or receiving room, board, tuition and a telephone book of N.C.A.A. regulations?
He would come into the N.B.A. with money and maturity after having lived abroad for a season or two. This is true education, the kind of education an elite college basketball or football player will be hard pressed to receive inside forced study halls, where the primary objective is to stay eligible.
He’ll probably get into Arizona, and this commentary on playing somewhere else might be a smart shot of early media exposure/ spectacle. It don’t matter. I love this. As, of course, does Ball in Europe. There is an issue with the cultural difference. Moreover, the lack of worldliness that many Americans have is likely magnified by playing in the high school basketball bubble, where a top player is surrounded by other top players who know little about the outside world and coaches who obviously focus more on the jump shot than on life skills.
Brandon’s gonna have to take his moms with him. Even then, that is going to be rough. But it would be a bold move to take the risk and take that road less traveled, playing against better competition. And Jennings can feature it on his website/ fan site.
Will he get enough playing time? Is he physically developed to play on the top levels of Euroleague (he is 6′, 165 lbs, a little light), or will he need a couple of years to make his mark? Will people think that the flat-top do is back? Will Paul Shirley meet him and call him a moron in his next book (Which will be okay, it’ll just mean that Shirley’s jealous and bitter)?
But, as Juan Carlos Navarro proves, sometimes the money’s good, or even better than the NBA’s rookie scale. Cash money has a lot more value, at least in the short run, than some fluff classes and a second-round exit in the NCAA Tournament. Coupled with the better competition, and the fact that most NBA teams scout Europe heavily… go for it, player.
College Fast Break makes note of how some commenters (on the ESPN article) are remarking about how “dumb” he is. The kid is probably not a moron. The problem is the differing scores on the SAT test, one qualifying, one not qualifying.
And for a young man who has not been preparing for the test, answering the questions is more “cram” than it is “knowledge”. Some highly intelligent people have trouble with the test. And without preparation, those folks get some terrible scores.
Moreover, the SAT is not the only measure of intelligence, though those scores are treated as such. The guy is a point guard, which requires different intelligences – spatial reasoning, for one. If he hasn’t been planning on actually graduating college, one could see how the SAT is, frankly, a waste of his damned time.
Good luck to Brandon Jennings and I would love to see this happen. College ball is a farce for many “student”-athletes, and everyone knows it. Players have to realize that there is a world of basketball out there, countries to see.
But if the European coaches start coming to AAU events, they need to remember that most indoor venues are no-smoking.
(the I can’t work anymore version)
- How the hell you gonna get pulled over on your way out of lockup? Nice going, Xavier Hicks. I remember hearing about that incident of yours with the rubbing alcohol and the contact lenses. Your “indefinite suspension” is a fine time to think about how not to get arrested.
- A great closing line from the Money Players on recruiting 8th graders to play basketball, referencing Shaft.
- The Wall Street Journal’s 10 best currently active athletes. It’s a different look, of course, with interesting criteria.
- Basketball Prospectus assesses the players (the UNC trio, Budinger, Ronald Steele, Jeremy Pargo, Robert Dozier, AJ Abrams, Lester Hudson) who withdrew from the NBA Draft.
- A look at next year’s draft possibles from the Melo Backpedal (great name for a blog).
- Youppi needs to leave that hockey alone and come back to baseball. It’s not the same without the coolest orange mascot.
For your viewing and information enjoyment, some changes in the blog. You’ll notice on the top navigation and under pages that a few pages have been added:
- 2007-2008 schedule. Yes, the year is over, but when you want to look back and see how that Red Storm 11-19 record came about, how Lawrence was from game to game, and how Mason and Burrell were against various opponents, here is your resource, with links to boxscores. If you pause your mouse over each result, you’ll see a short comment from me.
- The main 2008-2009 section includes each anticipated St. John’s player for the coming year, including walk-ons and recruits, with their currently listed heights, weights, and home towns (though Jasiulionis is originally from Lithuania, and Coker is originally from Nigeria). If you want to read the East Coast Bias’ evaluation of each of the 2007-08 players, check each players links on the 07-08 main page.
- The 2008-2009 St. John’s Red Storm schedule is not officially out, but we know the team has some out-of-conference obligations (Niagara, Miami (FL), Duke) and a slate of 18 conference games, with 6 being home-and-away games, and the other 12 scheduled based on this year’s game location. As we know more about the schedule, the page will be updated.
While you’re at it, check out Johnny Jungle’s updated Big East Links page, with official, unofficial, blog, and message board sites for each of the 16 Big East teams.