Archive for August, 2007

27
Aug
07

Posey – add a little get a lot

James Posey is exactly the type of player that I didn’t think the Celtics would be able to acquire this summer.  I didn’t think Boston would spend enough money to get such a quality player, or on any one player for that matter.  I also didn’t think Posey would have to take as little money as he reportedly is getting.

Posey will help that team immensely.  He brings defense and attitude.  He’s somewhat like the enforcer on a hockey team.  If you mess with his star player he’ll come back at you, even if it costs him a suspension.  With three aging and ever more brittle stars the Celtics will benefit from Posey’s presence and reputation.  He’s a dirty player, which makes opposing fans (like me) hate him, but he does the dirty work so that the faces of the franchise don’t have to.

Though Posey wouldn’t be a centerpiece of any NBA team, he makes me believe Boston will do much better this season than I originally thought.  He immediately becomes the fourth best player on the roster and is the definition of a role player.  He’ll actually help the team whereas, I believe, Scott Pollard and Eddie House will just take up roster spots. 

He’s touted as a defensive specialist and while he’s a good defensive player I’d say “specialist” is a bit extreme.  To bring this conversation back to a Bulls perspective let’s remember what Luol Deng did in the playoffs against the Heat while being guarded primarily by Posey:

26.3 ppg
9.0   rpg
3.0   apg
1.2   spg

Deng’s performance was more of a sign of how good he’s becoming than it is an indicator of the quality of Posey’s defense, but it also shows us Posey is not necessarily a “stopper”.  Nevertheless, the Celtics just moved up a couple of spots in my preseason power rankings.

I have to emphasize for all the Bulls fans out there that I HATE James Posey as a player.  What I’m trying to get across in this post is that he’s a much more valuable player than I thought Boston would pick up and that, with what they already have, he’ll do a lot for that team.  With multiple offensive stars already there he can do the same things he did for the Heat and that role seemed to work out pretty well for him.

By the way, what’s going on with the Heat this summer?  Posey, Jones and Kapono all gone and they countered that by adding Smush Parker?  I’m sure they have luxury tax issues but why even field a team or bother to pay Shaq and D.Wade if you’re not going to be competitive?

22
Aug
07

The Celtics and Team USA

Today in Chris Sheridan’s column he pointed out that Team USA may have some trouble successfully blending the playing styles of Kobe, LeBron and Carmelo:

The uninformed might wonder: "How could they possibly lose with those
three playing together? To which the informed might reply: "Hey, that's
three guys on the court at the same time who, no matter how good they
are, all need the ball in their hands to be effective. It'll be tough
to make that work."

When you read Team USA’s dilemma, what current NBA roster does it remind you of? I know there’s some team that now has three superstars who have throughout their careers always had possession of the ball more than anybody else on their team. Now, suddenly those three players, – just like Kobe, LeBron and Carmelo – are being thrust onto the same team and everyone is as sure that they’ll easily win the Eastern Conference as they were Kobe, LeBron and Carmelo would easily handle the Select Team.

The difference between the Team USA trio and the Celtics trio is that the Celtics will have an entire season to work out the kinks while Team USA will have 10 games. So let’s say that the Celtics do work out the kinks. Paul Pierce becomes the dominant ball handler. When KG gets good position he’ll get the ball in the post and hold it until he shoots or is double teamed. If he’s double teamed he’ll kick it out to the three point line for Ray Allen. Sounds like a great system, right? It is, BUT it will be a vast waste of Ray Allen’s talents if things work out this way. He will be paid like the superstar he is, while playing the game that Jason Kapono plays. Think he’ll get tired of that at some point?

The other possibility is that they never can adapt to not having the entire offense run through them thus never develop a good chemistry. Either way it doesn’t matter because no chemistry means an 8 seed even in the East and good chemistry means a second round playoff series loss because they don’t have a bench. I don’t mean to hate on the Celtics, but Sheridan’s analysis of the Big 3 on Team USA perfectly illustrates my previous arguments about the Celtics and there’s really not a lot of NBA news to write about right now.

Oh well, at least Team USA has a bench.

20
Aug
07

Nick Collison to lead Team USA

Maybe I was wrong about Nick Collison.

Kirk Hinrich’s buddy actually tore the rim off of the backboard in a recent Team USA practice!  Maybe he is a more dominant post presence than I thought?!?  Or maybe he was just playing in a high school gym with sketchy equipment.  I think I’m going to lean towards the latter.

The whole ordeal did provide a fun picture of Collison, clearly enjoying his feat more than he should be. 

Team USA is finally going to play some real games this week.  It will be the first chance we’ve had to watch real basketball since the Finals, though some would argue the last real basketball took place one round earlier.  USA vs. Venezuela Wednesday night!

I’m less than excited after reading that the senior team lost to that team of “young players” the USA basketball program put together to challenge them.  (side rant:  I don’t understand why they are referred to as a group of young players over and over again when many are older than some of the senior team players)  The Select Team, as they’re calling them, has some very nice players.  Nevertheless, the senior team should demolish them.  In my opinion it just goes to show that no matter what these superstars are saying, when you put together a bunch of guys who are used to having the ball 80% of the time they’re going to have trouble meshing on the court no matter how much they talk about being unselfish.  Even if they aren’t selfish with the ball, they still learned how to play as the focal point of their team.  Maybe actual role players would do better jobs playing roles than superstars.

17
Aug
07

Would the Lakers trade Kobe for Joakim Noah?


Luol Deng is now a British
citizen so he can play on the
2012 UK Olympic team.

Bulls news is as slow as ever. I found this article today about Luol Deng and the 2012 British basketball team. It’s a little hard to get excited for a team that will exist 5 years from now, though if you’re a basketball fan in the UK I guess you take what you can get. I love Lu and have every confidence that he’ll be an all-star very soon, but this description is a bit optimistic in terms of his potential even if you are a Bulls fan:

But the 22-year-old hopes it will be the first step on the road
to the 2012 Olympic Games, and the start of a revolution in British
basketball.
When the London Games come around, the Sudan-born player
will be 27, and on the basis of his current form, would
walk into any Olympic team in the world.
Last season he was the National Basketball Association's
Sportsman of the Year, and is poised to sign a new four-year
contract, which would put him above Premier League stars
such as Wayne Rooney and John Terry in terms of earnings.
But for £70 a day, Deng has chosen to play for Britain, a
country which, in its one previous Olympic basketball
tournament - also in London, in 1948 - lost all three games.
The burning question is - why?

Manute Bol and Luol Deng are both from
the Dinka tribe in The Sudan. Manute
taught Luol how to paly basketball.
Fortunately Deng is a bit taller than Mugsy.

Somebody needs to tell them across the pond that the NBA’s Sportsman of the Year has nothing to do with the winner’s basketball abilities. If Deng were an American it looks like he’d have a shot at the 2012 Team USA. But walk on to any team in the world? Hopefully, but it certainly doesn’t look like a given yet.

Luol Deng is to British basketball as Luol Deng is to
these two guys next to him.

Let’s talk about a Kobe to the Bulls trade since there’s nothing else to focus on and Kobe hasn’t backed off his trade demand despite multiple opportunities. Remember, Bryant has a no trade clause and has made it clear several times that Chicago is his #1 option.

Let me start off by making it clear that I don’t think this trade will ever happen. If the Lakers demand anything over Ben Gordon and Tyrus Thomas I don’t think Paxson would go for it. Paxson has put several years and a lot of effort into composing a team of his type of players. High character guys from winning backgrounds who won’t rock the boat. He believes in his plan and his team. He’s shown in the past two seasons that he won’t deal his players even when he has a great opportunity. I’m not saying that he should or shouldn’t trade for Kobe, just that he won’t.

If I’m running the Bulls I engage in serious trade talks with the Lakers, even if I’m going in thinking there’s a 1% chance anything is going to get done. Ben Gordon is definitely on the table because Kobe would replace everything BG7 brings to the team and more. I love Little Ben, but Kobe is Kobe. I could give up either Tyrus or Noah, but not both. The team needs one quality big man for the future, at least. I could include Ben Wallace but they wouldn’t want him. Duhon would have to be a part of the trade because he only has 1 year left on his contract and would add PG depth to a Lakers team that desperately needs it. I don’t think Nocioni could be included because his contract is brand new, but if he could be I would make him part of the deal. I’d have to include a lot of spare pieces because Kobe makes so much and his contract would have to be offset.

Basically I’d offer everything except the below players and throw in every first round pick for the next 5 years. Considering how strong the team would be and the youth it would still have, I’d have no use for the draft anyway.

Ben Wallace – The Lakers wouldn’t want him and he’d help a lot in what would be the first of several inevitable Finals runs.

Kirk Hinrich – As the Celtics will find out this season, you can’t win a championship without a quality point guard. Duhon is good but I don’t want him in charge of a championship team.

Tyrus Thomas OR Joakim Noah – Since the Bulls don’t have any superstars, exciting young players are what the Lakers would demand in return for Kobe. Tyrus is as exciting as they come and Noah was a huge college star. Both would be appealing to LA. The Bulls have to keep one in order to secure a well-rounded team 5 years from now.

Luol Deng – Because he’s still only 22 and clearly getting better by the day I wouldn’t involve him in any trade. Sure, Kobe is better than Deng probably ever will be. Nevertheless, if I’m running the Bulls, Deng is not in this trade.

Thabo Sefolosha – I would only throw Sefolosha in at the last second if he was a deal breaker. As Kobe gets older and doesn’t have enough energy to play 100% at both ends of the floor this team would need a defensive stopper like Sefolosha. Also, it’s looking like Thabo could spell Hinrich at the point, which would be important if Duhon was included in the trade. Sefolosha could also play the two and the three making him an ideal 6th man. He would bring very necessary depth to the team.

We’d be looking at a team that not even Tim Donaghy could touch. It would line up like this:

C – Ben Wallace
PF – Tyrus Thomas or Joakim Noah
SF – Luol Deng
SG – Kobe Bryant
PG – Kirk Hinrich

6th Man – Thabo Sefolosha
Bench – Anything left after the trade. The Bulls are one of the deepest teams in the NBA right now and a couple of quality players would be left after a trade, even with the boatload of spare change they’d have to give up.

That’s what I’d present to the Lakers organization. That’s probably similar to what Kobe is imagining when he pictures himself in a Bulls uniform. However, Jerry Buss and Mitch Kupchak would turn it down and I’d go into the season perfectly happy with what I have.

Paxson won’t even go that far. I’m sure of it, not mad about it, just sure of it. Kobe might imagine the Bulls giving up that package + Deng and still think he brings enough that he could make up for what the team is losing. As great as he is, that Bulls team seems too similar to his current Lakers team.

So what you see right now when you look at the Bulls roster is what you’ll see on opening night and very likely what you’ll see the day after the trade deadline. Personally, I’m happy with what I see.

15
Aug
07

The Clippers, Hawks and Grizzlies are relevant!

 

Ever since KG was traded to Boston the word relevant has been popping up everywhere in reference to professional sports teams.  The Celtics are suddenly relevant again, thank god they’re finally relevant again!  Every night when I went to bed before I fell asleep I would dream of the day when they would be relevant.  Not win a title, not make the playoffs, but become relevant.  My dreams have finally come true! 

Today I read an article about how quickly the White Sox went from world series champions to irrelevant.  It’s spreading!  At the ’08 NBA draft the talking heads aren’t going to be mentioning this player’s upside, that guy’s length, and whoever’s motor.  They’ll be telling us that with the #1 pick in the draft the Minnesota Timberwolves should select Derrick Rose, because no matter how exciting O.J. Mayo may seem, there’s no prospect out there more relevant than Rose right now.

 I’ve looked up several definitions for the word and they all hinge on “the matter at hand” or “the subject at issue”. 

e.g. from dictionary.com:
Having a bearing on or connection with the matter at hand.

So when they say the Celtics are relevant again, what is the issue at hand?  Sure, there are all sorts of issues in discussion of which the Celtics would be relevant.  However, the adjective isn’t appropriate without a given subject at hand.  You can’t tell me the Celtics are relevant again because they have Kevin Garnett.  They were relevant a couple of months ago when we were talking about the NBA draft even though they didn’t have Garnett.  They’re not relevant today when we’re talking about who will win the Western Conf. or (in my opinion) who will win the NBA championship.

In a recent article Jeff Passan calls Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox irrelevant.  This isn’t a basketball issue but it’s a good example for my argument.

Irrelevance can come with the ferocity and swiftness of a bee poised to
sting, and the results can be equally painful.

Doesn’t the fact that Passan is writing about Guillen and the White Sox make them relevant, at least right now and to him?  If they were irrelevant before, isn’t he making them relevant again by writing about them for Yahoo Sports?  It’s not that I disagree with his larger argument.  2 years ago Ozzie Guillen couldn’t do wrong despite his out of control, controversial personality because the Sox were in 1st place.  Now he’s not so popular.  But that doesn’t make him irrelevant when the subject at issue is Major League Baseball. 

14
Aug
07

Losing faith in Team USA

Team USA made some surprising announcements yesterday.  They stated that Kirk Hinrich, Shane Battier and Greg Oden are withdrawing from this summer’s team.  Also, they told us that Nick Collison would be added to the senior team’s roster.

I’m pretty sure that Oden already announced his withdrawal a few weeks ago, so I’m not sure why Team USA would announce it now. 

Hinrich and Battier started games last summer in the World Championship tournament.  They were also considered the two best defenders on last year’s team.  It seems strange they would pull out now and their withdrawal brings up some interesting questions about the current philosophy of Team USA.

Nick Collison was added to the team???  Was this a last second attempt to by Team USA to try and keep Collison’s college roommate happy?  No, but that’s about the only way I can make sense of the addition.  I’m all about mixing role players with stars on the Olympic team, but Collison?  He very well might not even start in Seattle (or OKC or wherever) this season. 

Sam Smith quotes Jerry Colangelo in his article today:

"We are adding another 'big' in Nick Collison, and he'll
participate in the August training," Colangelo said.
"We're excited about his addition. He has had a lot of
USA Basketball experience. He's physical, and he handles
the pick-and-roll as well as anyone. He's been added to
the senior national team for a reason."

In this quotation Colangelo makes a few things clear.  Collison is definitely being added to the senior team, so we shouldn’t be thinking he’s another practice squad (junior team) member for the superstars to beat up on.  Also, Collison is being added for his size, pick-and-roll abilities (or possibly abilities defending the p-a-r?), and his Team USA experience.

Maybe the Team USA experience (played on the ’03 Tournament of the Americas championship team with Jason Kidd) will help him, a bit.  Beyond that experience his participation doesn’t make sense.  There are lots of big guys out there.  He can handle the pick-and-roll?  Honestly, I think they threw him in because he’s white.  This team represents the country and if you look at every Team USA since the original dream team you’ll find a couple of white guys that make you wonder if there weren’t other players who could help the team more.  I think that being white helped Hinrich make the team last year and Mike Miller make it this year.  The strange thing about Collison is that he doesn’t bring one strong skill that he can use to fill a role, thus becoming a role player.  Hinrich is a premier defender.  Miller is one of the best three-point shooters in the league.  Collison is a solid all-around big man coming off the bench on a good team. 

It just seems like there had to be better players out there who brought well-rounded games and still had a specialty.  I think Tyson Chandler is a great fit for this team because he can do a little bit of everything but is an outstanding rebounder and good defender.  Collison can do a little bit of everything but is . . . 

On to the pride of Iowa.  Hinrich hasn’t commented yet on why he withdrew from Team USA.  Since he played last year he’ll still be allowed to participate in next year’s Olympics because he played one of the two seasons leading up to the games.  It works the same for Jason Kidd and Kobe Bryant who didn’t play last summer. 

The rumor is that Hinrich saw a tough fight ahead with Deron Williams just in order to make the team and then a lot of time on the bench behind Kidd and Chauncey Billups.  Hinrich got married this summer and also may want to spend his time with wifey before the long NBA season ahead.  He may have just been offended.  After coming out, working hard last summer and starting three games in the tournament, he played the second fewest minutes in the organized team scrimmage a few weeks ago.  Only JJ Redick, who should have no chance of making this team, played less than Hinrich. 

The other factor that may have been crucial to Kirk’s decision is the wear and tear that year-round competitive basketball supposedly puts on a player.  I’m neither an NBA player nor a professional athlete of any kind, so I really can’t comment from experience.  However, I have read many times that the grind of the NBA season can wear on players as they get old.  Hinrich is by no means old, but he’s not a rookie or young player either.  The NBA season is also supposed to be harder than other professional sports mostly because of the traveling.  While an NBA player has more off days than and MLB player, the NBA player often has to visit four different cities in one week.  The MLB player stays in each city he goes to for at least three days.  Also, in basketball you’re running constantly.  In baseball you don’t have the same kind of physical fatigue.  In football and soccer you do, but you don’t play as frequently. 

Hinrich shot only 37.6% in the playoffs and many have attributed that low number to being worn down from nonstop play over the year.  At 26 and guiding a Bulls team on the brink of breaking through to the elite level perhaps Hinrich views this as a time to focus on the being prepared for the season.  His absence will make me somewhat less interested in Team USA, but all the more excited for the Bulls season. 

The larger issue that Team USA’s announcements bring up is that of the composition of the team.  Last year Colangelo and Coach K harped on having a well-rounded team that played defense in addition to offense.  Not a team of only all-stars, but a team with stars and role players, scorers and defenders, rebounders and hustle guys.  However, two of the best defenders left the team possibly as a result of being neglected.  They’re being replaced by offensive-minded all-stars like Michael Redd and Kobe Bryant.  Nobody’s saying Kobe shouldn’t be on this team, just that if you put it together in the image of 2002 and 2004 you’re likely to get the same results.  Adding Nick Collison to the roster isn’t fooling anybody either.  He won’t play while Amare and Dwight Howard will.  Hopefully we’ll get a different result than in years past despite the fielding the same type of team. 

07
Aug
07

Slow times as ChiBulls High

There is less than nothing going on in the world of Bulls news and gossip.  They signed their first and second round picks.  Big surprise.  I guess JamesOn Curry was a bit of a question mark in terms of making the team, but after his summer league performance nobody should be surprised he got the obligatory second-rounder’s unguaranteed contract.  Noah was a given and Aaron Gray was too because of his center size.  You always need a white guy over 7 feet who’s guaranteed to never play more than 5 minutes in a game.  Go back through all of the Bulls teams and you will find this guy.  The always entertaining Paul Shirley even filled this role at one point.

Newly Green

The Celtics started to round out their “championship caliber” team with Eddie House and Scot Pollard.  Not sure those guys will be enough, but you can’t really blame the Celtics.  They’ve made their move and now have to take what they can get for additional help.

 Marty Burns is saying that when the Grizzlies acquired JC Navarro any chance of trading Gasol ended.  I’ve been saying that Gasol to the Bulls chances have been over done for some time so this news doesn’t really affect Chicago.  The Darko signing was the end of Gasol’s chance of getting out of Memphis.  It showed the Griz are interested in building a team for the next 5 years as opposed to the next 10.  Pau will still be plenty good in 5 years. 

 Today’s ESPN TrueHoop quoted the Portland Tribune’s Dwight Jaynes.  He almost perfectly sums up the problem I have with NBA officiating and why I asked, “What credibility?

The league, you see, is asking for uniformity in referee calls — and the
refs think that’s taking away their personality and ability to use their
own fine judgment.
While I sympathize with men attempting to perform one of the world’s
toughest jobs, I find it extremely difficult to agree with them.
A lot of the veteran referees spent many years in the league as
basketball’s version of the Lone Ranger. They roamed the country meting
out their own forms of justice, largely as they pleased. There was
little evaluation, and many of them thought of themselves as larger than
the law.
And now that someone is trying to tell them how to do their job, they’re
very uncomfortable.
But I’m afraid they’re going to have to get used to it or move on.
Standardization of calls and uniformity is exactly what is needed. If
nothing else, it’s a way of trying to eliminate bias — which, as I’ve
written before, is the league’s biggest threat to fair officiating.
Oakland Raiders’ Managing Partner Al Davis, a bit of a rogue himself,
was asked about the NBA’s referee scandal during a news conference
recently and his answer was “I don’t worry about gambling, I worry about
bias.”
A referee trying to manipulate a point spread late in a game to cover a
bet he’s made somewhere? I don’t think there’s any reason to worry about
it. I don’t think it’s going to happen very often.
But officials making certain calls because of a grudge against a player
or a team, yes — I’ve seen it.
Officials so apparently in awe of a certain player they’re reluctant to
call a foul or violation on him? Seen it many times.
Referees with obvious feuds going on against certain players or teams?
Darned right. You’ve seen it, too, if you’ve watched the league for any
time at all.
I don’t think the league, until recently, realized how much this
affected its fan base. This sort of game-to-game bias, as much as any
other thing, has turned millions of fans away from the league. I hear it
constantly from disenchanted NBA fans.
And that’s too bad. NBA referees are tons better than college referees.
But over the years, the league let them enforce the rules in a haphazard
manner — often based on such precepts as rookie or veteran player,
superstar or scrub, great team or cellar dweller — and it has obscured
how well most of them can call a game.
Their personalities sometimes cloud their judgment. And that leaves the
league no choice but to eliminate their personalities.

As a diehard NBA fan I can say that the one and only thing that ever comes close to making me consider giving up my league is the officiating.  I’ve talked to hardcore sports fans who don’t watch the NBA at all because they feel the officials have far too much influence on the outcome of the game.   It is the league’s biggest problem and something has to be done about it.

That said, I’m not sure I agree that the league has finally come to its senses and is now completely trustworthy.  In fact, I believe that some of the bias in how refs call games is a result of the league’s instructing them that they want games and series to remain entertaining as long as possible.  I doubt that the refs are in awe of great players.  The problem more often seems to be that they get into a battle of egos with dominant players and don’t give them calls.  When they are “in awe” of a superstar, I believe, it’s more because the league wants to sell their superstars to the casual basketball fan and it makes sure that the officials know that.  The more times Wade falls down but gets back up again for an and 1 the more time fans will see his handsome face up close at the line and the more points he’ll have in the box score.  If sometimes he goes up, comes down, is never touched and still ends up at the free throw line?  Well, the fans still see more of him, his season scoring average goes up, he appears in some I Love This Game NBA commercials and the referee who made the phantom call gets a on a Finals crew.  It may not be explicitly ordered by David Stern, but I believe the league is behind almost as much bad officiating as the personalities are.  They are both to blame and both need to change. 

 Who wants a random Joakim Noah picture for the day?

Look at the little guy.  It’s a good thing he upgraded from that Knicks jersey.




August 2007
M T W T F S S
« Jul   Sep »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
Basketball Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory