[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.
Skimming an article on USA Today this morning, I saw the kind of invective that just makes this blogger hate the nature of internet comments. There is an article, about Stephon Marbury’s stasis, and the commenters come out with the:
"This guy is so dumb its frightening."
"Would someone PLEASE give me $21 million so I can be DUMB…
PLEASE give me a $10 million "paid" vacation so I can be DUMB…"
"If Mebury or Isiah actually "show up" for work they would not get paid. They are being paid by the Knicks to "stay away" from the rest of the team.
The rest of the business world would just Fire Them both and not pay them another penny."
I can’t stand it when people call athletes "dumb" – assessing their intelligence based, usually, on one or a limited number of quotes, usually about the nexus of money and respect. We don’t know whether the player is dumb or not without interacting with him personally for a period of time. The framework of professional sports, from the employee protections to the contractual obligations to the sheer uniqueness of talent also allows for a certain myopia of thought that most people would not be allowed in their jobs.
Similarly, I would like to think that everyone has noticed that quirks are allowed more and more as one moves up the importance ladder in any organization.
These comments are jealousy speaking out – the "OHH, IF I HAD MILLIONS" whining, the use of logic that is based on being an athletic observer and not an athletic talent, and the use of experience gained following a mythos of how the business world works.
Stephon Marbury, with all of his faults included, is a one in 500 talent in the world. Even at his quirkiest, he is so much more talented than a schmoe off the street that the proper corollary would be a Vice President at a very large Fortune 500 company. That guy hardly gets fired when he is being petulant, when the new CEO wants a new staff. No, that guy gets a giant golden umbrella, or gets assigned to a less critical part of the organization, or goes on to another organization based on his rep.
"Fire them both?" AIG is spending money on “retention payments” bonuses after they came hat in hand to the government for WELFARE. Other companies are still giving out bonuses, even if in reduced fashion. Failure doesn’t mean "fired with no money," it means reductions, severance packages; the market is a win/ lose game to investors, not to the employees who need to be kept around.
The point is this: people think they know their athletes, based on puff pieces and ESPN investigative reporting compressed into 5 minute segments or 30 second post-game interviews. And fans sometimes think they can go around name calling from behind their keyboards at work? You don’t know these people. Enjoy their abilities, talk about their in-game decision making, even call them out when they ask for above-market value on their contract. But don’t call them dumb. And it’s worthless to fantasize what you would do with the contract, because you are not nearly capable or single-minded enough to become a top-level athlete.
There is another comment by the first poster about how we’re lucky that Marbury plays ball, because "he would have hurt someone by now"… the ignorance in that comment is evident enough that it does not warrant a post.
Isiah Thomas went to the hospital this morning for an overdose on sleeping pills. Ten pills were taken; the police don’t believe it’s a suicide attempt.
Whatever the problem is, good luck to Isiah and a speedy recovery.
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.
(image from Traitor Joe blog)
Around The Association:
+Responding to all of those signings by the CSKA Moscow and Khimki Moscow basketball clubs (just follow with me for a sec!), the Moscow Dynamo has signed Net free agent Bostjan Nachbar for $14.3 million/ 9 million euros. And if anyone knows how to get the euro symbol as I type, let me know. Also of interest is this bit from the ESPN article:
Nachbar’s deal follows a fast-developing worrisome trend for some NBA executives — based in large part on the strength of the euro against the dollar — of European-based teams being able to outbid their NBA counterparts for free agents.
+ Dave D’Alessandro reports that the Nets are hoping to sign-and-trade for Keyon Dooling, using the $3.3 million trade exception brought in from last winter’s Jason Kidd trade to the Mavericks:
The trade gives the Nets a solid backcourt trio, with a feisty, long-armed third guard who can defend both spots effectively. But it also gives them 16 guaranteed contracts, so they have stepped up their efforts to move point guard Marcus Williams, who now becomes the odd man out again.
The most logical landing spot for Williams might be one of the many teams who have their own trade exceptions — Seattle has two, in fact — and wouldn’t mind taking a chance on a work in progress with a $1.2 million price tag.
….Who is this “Seattle” he speaks of?
+Former Net Tamar Slay signed a deal with Air Avellino of Italy’s Serie A league.
+Marcus Camby thinks being traded to the Clippers is the lowest point of his life. Apparently more for family issues and distance from hartford (where the Camby Man is from)… but as far as finding new doctors, everyone knows you go to LA for the doctors.
+Knick guard Nate Robinson had his jersey retired… in the Las Vegas Summer League. As FanHouse puts it, that doers seem like a backhanded compliment.
+Speaking of which, the top ten summer league players (also from FanHouse): Bayless, Love, Anthony Randolph, Donte Green, Augustin, Mensa-Bonsu, Elton Brown, Mayo, Speights, Hickson. Maybe one day they will have their summer league jerseys retired.
+A good analysis from the Oklahoman of how the “Oklahoma Thunder” name could be accurate, could be inaccurate, and could be a bad idea – there is already an Oklahoma Thunder of the World Football League in Tulsa. Not that they are major, but it could cause brand confusion… and as we know, the NBA is heavily about its branding.
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….
It’s quiet in the sport world besides:
– the Willie Randolph Death Watch,
– players still transferring,
– a Dana O’Neil article on how next year’s list of one-and-done college players should be much shorter, and tendency to have players rated and signed before/ early in high school (O’Neil is becoming my new favorite female sports writer now that Lisa Olson’s been chopped up by Lupica and has not yet resurfaced)…
But then I came across this photo gallery of Emmanuelle Chriqui and I realized the following. Memorial Day is a day made to celebrate and memorialize military sacrifice, to think about what a good life we lead because of those who came before us, and it is a day to shirk work and surf the internet more than usual. Which, I suppose, is a lot.
So enjoy! Limited posting over the weekend, time for a wedding and a barbecue.