Monday, February 28, 2005

'TOINEYYYYYY


Newest Celtic Antoine Walker is giddy over their win last night in Phoenix, but more so over Anthony's #9 ranking in his AP Poll today. The Celtics head home to begin a six game home stand starting Wednesday vs. the Lakers.

AP Poll

Paul and I are going to try our best to get this up every Monday from now on. Seeing that a kid in kindergarten could probably compose this, I'm not sure why it's been such a problem. Comments are no longer optional but mandatory (obviously a joke, but we appreciate them).


Note: The previous rankings (PRV) are from December 20--so that's why they may appear skewed.

The A Poll-Anthony

RANK

TEAMRECPRV
1.San Antonio42-133
2.Miami42-164
3.Phoenix43-141
4.Detroit35-1913
5.Dallas37-177
6.Seattle38-162
7.Houston32-2418
8.Sacramento36-215
9.Boston28-2716
10.Cleveland31-2314
11.Memphis31-2517
12.Chicago29-2423
13.Washington31-2410
14.Denver27-2911
15.Philadelphia26-2919
16.Indiana28-2721
17.L.A. Lakers28-268
18.Minnesota28-296
19.Orlando28-279
20.New Jersey25-3225
21.Milwaukee23-3128
22.L.A. Clippers25-3120
23.Portland22-3212
24.Toronto 24-3224
25.New York23-3315
26.Utah18-3722
27.Golden State16-3927
28.New Orleans11-4430
29.Charlotte11-4226
30.Atlanta10-4529




The P Poll-Paul

RANKTEAMRECPRV
1.San Antonio42-133
2.Detroit35-1913
3.Miami42-164
4.Phoenix43-141
5.Seattle38-162
6.Dallas37-177
7.Sacramento36-216
8.Memphis31-2517
9.Houston32-2418
10.Washington31-2411
11.Chicago29-2423
12.Indiana28-2721
13.Cleveland31-2315
14.Denver27-2910
15.Minnesota28-295
16.Lakers28-268
17.Boston29-2816
18.Philadelphia26-2919
19.Orlando28-279
20.Toronto24-3224
21.New Jersey25-3225
22.Milwaukee23-3128
23.Clippers25-3120
24.New York23-3314
25.Portland22-3212
26.Utah18-3722
27.Golden State16-3926
28.New Orleans11-4430
29.Charlotte11-4227
30.Atlanta10-4529

Monday's NBA Picks

February 28, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

ANTHONY'S PICKS

Last Night: (2-1), Last Week: (11-9), Post All-Star Break: (11-9)
  • New Orleans +14 over DALLAS
  • UTAH -3.5 over Clippers

Hey how bout them Celtics? Yeah yeah, Nash didn't play. Whatever. Still a big win. As for tonight, Dirk's got a tweaked hammy and when he's off, the entire team suffers. Mavs 103, Hornets 95. I really think that Utah is going to start to play better and they will capitalize off yesterday's win in Houston. Plus, I think the Clips are moving drastically in the other direction. Jazz 97, Clippers 89. GLTA

PAUL'S PICKS

Last Night: (3-2), Last Week: (9-11), Post All-Star Break: (9-11)

  • Lakers [16-15-2] +3 over NEW YORK [23-14-1]
  • UTAH [17-21] -3.5 over Clippers [17-18]

Oh, so now we're conveniently keeping track of "Post All-Star Break" standings because Anthony had a good week. Why don't we post the entire year standings, Anthony? Jerk. I still have no faith in the Knicks even after playing two great games at home and regardless of whether they're facing a struggling Lakers team. I think Kobe will shine in MSG and Odom will be too athletic for the Knicks' plethora of power forwards--hell, Chris Mihm might even have a good game. I like the Lakers in a close one. Utah has had a way of showing signs of life this season and then letting up, but at home against the Clippers, a team that's been miserable on the road all season, I'm going to have the take the Jazz. Best of luck...

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sunday's NBA Picks

February 27, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night:(2-0), Week: (9-8)
  • GOLDEN STATE +7.5 over Detroit
  • CLIPPERS -9.5 over Atlanta
  • Minnesota +1 over PORTLAND

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (0-2), Week: (6-9)

  • ORLANDO [24-8-1] -4 over Miami [17-17-2]
  • PHOENIX [21-19-2] -5 over Boston [19-17-1]
  • Minnesota [14-18] +1 over PORTLAND [17-18]
  • GOLDEN STATE [15-19-2] +7.5 over Detroit [22-13-1]
  • Atlanta [19-17] +9.5 over CLIPPERS [16-18]

Tough week for me.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Bradbuster Deal


Former Villanova Wildcat Michael Bradley makes his much anticipated return to Philadelphia tonight after the Sixers completed a megadeal with the Kings to acquire the star forward. Matt Barnes and some dude named Chris Webber were also included in the trade.

Saturday's NBA Picks

February 26, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night: (3-2), Week: (7-8)
  • Phoenix +4.5 over DALLAS
  • Sacramento +4 over PHILADELPHIA

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (2-2), Week: (6-7)

  • Indiana [21-11-2] +2 over NEW YORK [23-13-1]--LOCK
  • DALLAS [20-13-1] -4.5 over Phoenix [21-8-2]

The Indy line is one of the strangest I've seen all year--New York played great on Thursday, but they were shooting the ball incredibly well and Philly was short-handed. Indy last night probably played their best game of the season and the team is just rolling on all cylinders right now. How a crappy team like NY is favored to win this is beyond me, so ride the Pacers. I'm tempted to grab the Kings today just because I think it will take a couple games for C-Webb to get settled into the Sixers offense, but there's just too many factors in the game that could goof up the outcome. Dallas is playing great ball and along with the Spurs, Sonics, and Pistons, are one of four teams that can score with the Suns and take over in the 4th with superior defense--this is why the Suns aren't going far in the playoffs this year. Good luck tonight...

Friday, February 25, 2005

She Nose Nothing!


First of all, get a "Kidd" license plate if you're from New Jersey-- I don't care if you're from Cherry Hill or Camden, Iverson is the pride of PA. Secondly, is that nose for real?

Friday's NBA Picks

February 25, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night: (0-0), Week: (4-6)
  • Denver +4.5 over MEMPHIS
  • Washington +5 over CHICAGO
  • Boston [9-24] +2 over UTAH
  • Detroit -3.5 over LAKERS
  • Minnesota +8 over SEATTLE--Lock

All roadies tonight. Denver has been playing pretty well, but I think Memphis is starting to feel the effects of playing without Gasol, Posey and Swift. I still like the Grizz tonight but in a squeaker, 104-103, O.T. Chicago never beats teams by more than five and I just really like this Wizards team for some reason. I've done really well with them all year. Bull 97, Wiz 95. If I didn't take my Celtics tonight, then I don't think I can be considered a fan. Walker will be starting with #88 on his back. Boston will be all fired up. Celts 106, Jazz 84. I agree 100% what Paul said about Detroit. Pistons 96, Lakers 89. And finally, I'm all up on this T'Wolves bandwagon after KG's interview. They are fired up and though they may not win tonight, they'll play really tough. Sonic 103, Wolves 99. GLTA


Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (0-0), Week: (4-5)

  • INDIANA [20-11-2] -2.5 over Cleveland [16-17-1]
  • MEMPHIS [15-21] -4 over Denver [17-20]
  • MILWAUKEE [23-11-1] -4 over Toronto [15-17-1]
  • Detroit [21-13-1] -3.5 over LAKERS [15-15-2]

I'm very tempted to take the Jazz given that Ant took the Celts, but Utah has been terrible lately and I just can't pull the trigger. Indiana has quietly won 7 of 9--they've been close ones, but they're playing better basketball. Meanwhile the Cavs have played 9 of 13 at home, and all 4 of those road games they've lost. I'm sticking with the numbers in this one. The home team has won the last 11 matchups between Memphis and Denver and since the Nuggets haven't been on the road since the 16th, I'm guessing that they might be a bit overwhelmed in Memphis tonight--taking the Grizz. Milwaukee has won 5 straight convincingly at home, and though they might be a little hurt by the losses of James and Van Horn, should be able to put away the Raps who have just 5 road wins all season. Detroit is rolling right now and while I like the Lakers, I think they'll just be too overmatched up front to be able to slug this one out. Good luck tonight...

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Fast-Breaking It Down Pt.2

By Paul Benedict

-Not to toot my own horn or anything, but late last night I was up tinkering with potential trades that could potentially go down today. One trade I concocted was a deal that had the Spurs sending Malik Rose and a 1st round pick to the Knicks for Nazr Mohammed and Jamison Brewer (I ended up ruling it out, deciding that Isiah wouldn't possibly take on a Mike Sweetney-clone with another 4 years, $27 million on his contract--go figure). Of course I have nothing to back this up on, so do with it as you will. Here are some other doozies I brewed up:
Magic trade Steve Francis, Kelvin Cato, Andrew Declercq to Celtics for Paul Pierce and Raef LaFraentz.
Lakers receive Carlos Boozer and Bobby Jackson; Kings receive Lamar Odom; Jazz receive Peja Stojakovic.
Sixers trade Willie Green and Glenn Robinson to Raptors for Donyell Marshall, Eric Williams, and Aaron Williams.
Nuggets trade Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Bryon Russell to Raptors for Eric Williams.



It has been Reported that Isiah Made the Rose Deal Based Upon This Picture

-Oh, Isiah. As if the Knicks weren't overpaying enough guys, Isiah has now tacked on another $22 million to the team's payroll and for what? An undersized, overpaid power forward (Rose) scarcely reminiscent of one he already has (Sweetney)? An average, injury-prone, overpaid power forward afraid of contact (Taylor)? 2 late-first round draft picks? So now the Knicks are left with 4 power forwards (Thomas, Sweetney, Rose, Taylor) and just one center-- Bruno Sundov (does he even count? I'm serious.). Apparently Isiah wasn't trying to free up time for Sweetney after all...

-The Dallas Mavericks acquired Keith Van Horn from the Bucks in a move which Milwaukee purely made to clear cap room this summer for Michael Redd and quite possibly another quality free agent. While Van Horn fits right into Nelson's system, how many minutes is he going to play? With Dirk, Stack, Howard, and Finley all battling for PT and playing central offensive roles on the team, I'm just not sure Van Horn is going to be able earn what his contract is worth given that he can't possibly log any more than 20-25 minutes a game. Although I suppose Mark Cuban basically writes blank checks as the Mavs' owner, so it's not like adding Van Horn will hurt the club.

-Rob Babcock ended up calling the 3 pm news conference to announce that he did not come to agreement on any trades before today's deadline. This makes almost no sense to me. Donyell Marshall will be bouncing out of Toronto this summer quicker than the crap coming out of Stephen A. Smith's mouth, so why not at least get something in return? Toronto has virtually no chance at making a playoff push now that Boston and Philly have beefed up their rosters, so Babcock really should have just taken the best offer he was presented with. I find it hard to believe that he could not have at least gotten a decent 1st round pick for Marshall.

-I've enjoyed watching Golden State all season long-- Mike Montgomery has his guys playing hard every night out, they have a noticeable on-court chemistry that is a pleasure to watch, Jason Richardson is arguably the most underappreciated star in the NBA, and their fans actually come out to games and cheer them on-- the excitement is a lot more contagious when you hear the crowd actually getting excited for a team that is an annual bottom-dweller. Baron Davis, a California native, has a chance to do wonders for this franchise. For starters, he will instantly become a fan favorite in Oakland and attract national attention with his pairing alongside JRich in the backcourt. It's also on him to bring the team back to the playoffs for the first time since Run TMC in the early 90's. Of course Baron has dealt with his share of injury problems over the past few years, but I firmly believe that his time off this season has a lot to do with the Hornets' woes rather than his toughness as a player. People tend to forget that he carried the Hornets in the playoffs 2 years in a row while being hobbled by injuries. And just for the record, Chris Mullin may have pulled off the steal of the day when he grabbed Skita and Rodney White, two talented, yet underachieving forwards, for Eduardo Najera, his hefty contract, and a future #1 pick. If Skita and White can show a little something before the end of the season, then Mullin can offer to pay them this summer and keep them around. If not, then both are off the books and Mullin has freed up some quality cap room.

Welcome Back 'Toine

By Anthony Peretore

Well, one of my favorite Celtics of all time is back in Boston. The trade on Thursday that brought Antoine Walker back to Beantown for Gary Payton, Tom Gugliotta and Michael Stewart shocked much of the NBA world, including myself. Here’s a look at how this deal improves the Celtics.



A Beautiful Site Indeed


1) Boston gets a legitimate third scorer to help avoid their scoring droughts in the fourth quarter. The one thing I came away with after watching their collapse against the Lakers on Tuesday night was that besides Pierce and a very tired Ricky Davis, the C’s had no one else to go to in the clutch. Raef LaFrentz merely feeds off of his teammates and will only produce when one of them are double-teamed or if the Celtics’ transition game is working effectively. We all know ‘Toine isn’t scared to put the team on his back and allow his teammates to feed off his presence.

2) Paul Pierce’s play will undoubtedly improve. I attended the game in the summer of 2002 when Boston came from down 21 points in the 4th to rally and beat the Nets in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The main reason behind that comeback was that Walker gave Pierce an earful on the sidelines and challenged him to step up and win the game. AW has always been Pierce’s mentor and ever since he left, PP has not been able to provide the same leadership. With Walker back in town, Pierce gets a good buddy back as well as someone to tell him when and when not to hoist the rock.

3) Walker will provide much needed help on the glass. The Celtics have been atrocious this season in rebounding the ball and with an average of 9.4 RPG, Walker immediately assumes the team lead in that category.

4) The trade gives Doc Rivers options for once. Does Doc go big or small? Delonte West, Pierce, Walker, Raef, Mark Blount? Or, West, Tony Allen, Pierce, Walker, Raef? I say the latter may work the best since Blount has been more of a liability this season with his porous defense and even worse hands. Let ‘Toine post up and bring back the shimmy. PP is obviously more comfortable at the ‘3’ so leave him be. Allen has been improving each game since his promotion to the starting lineup, plus he’s probably the best defender Rivers has.


With a three-headed monster of Pierce, Walker and Davis, the Celts will be able to score with anyone in the league. The emotion on this team should be higher with ‘Toine’s presence and I see no reason why Boston cannot hang with Philadelphia and challenge them for the Atlantic crown. The only question we are left with is does Al Jefferson give Walker his #8 back? I say yes. It doesn’t look right on anyone but Antoine.

UPDATE: As reported by TNT's David Aldridge, there is a very good chance of Payton returning to the Celtics after he clears waivers sometime this weekend. Think about it, Ainge tells GP what the deal is, that they're getting Walker for the stretch run but that he has to be included to make it work financially. But, that Atlanta agreed to waive him immediately and once he clears waivers, boom, GP, Pierce and Walker. Danny Ainge isn't so dumb after all.

Trade Log

Trade times as reported by the Associated Press or ESPN.com

11) Thursday, Reported after 3:00 P.M.

Miami Heat Receive: G Steve Smith

Charlotte Bobcats Receive: F Malik Allen

By far the whopper of the day. I'm sure David Stern didn't even care that it crossed his desk close or after 3.

10) Thursday 3:39 P.M.

Golden State Warriors Receive: PG Baron Davis

New Orleans Hornets Receive: PG Speedy Claxton and FC Dale Davis



Davis immediately transforms the Warriors into one of the more exciting teams in the league


9) Thursday 3:37 P.M.

Golden State Warriors Receive: F Nikoloz Tskitishvili and F Rodney White

Denver Nuggets Receive: Eduardo Najera and a future 1st round pick

8) Thursday 3:24 P.M.


Boston Celtics Receive: F Antoine Walker

Atlanta Hawks Receive: PG Gary Payton, PF Tom Gugliotta, and PF Michael Stewart



7) Thursday 3:05 P.M.

New York Knicks Receive: Malik Rose and a future 1st round pick

San Antonio Spurs Receive: Nazr Mohammed and Jamison Brewer

6) Thursday 3:07 P.M.

New York Knicks Receive:
Maurice Taylor and a future 1st round pick

Houston Rockets Receive: Vin Baker and Moochie Norris


5) Thursday 2:53 P.M.

Dallas Mavericks Receive:
F Keith Van Horn

Milwaukee Bucks Receive: F Alan Henderson and C Calvin Booth



Milwaukee unloaded some more Bucks when they sent overpaid Keith Van Horn to more-than-willing-to-overpay Mark Cuban and his Mavericks.




4) Thursday 12:57 P.M.

Houston Rockets Receive: PG Mike James

Milwaukee Bucks Receive: G Reece Gaines and two future second round picks







The Houston Rockets have acquired Mike James to help fill the void left at point guard with Bobby Sura out and provide depth when Sura returns.



3) Thursday 11:30 A.M.

Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: GF Jiri Welsch

Boston Celtics Receive: 2007 First Round Pick



The Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Jiri Welsch from the Celtics today in exchange for a 1st round pick in 2007


2) Thursday 12:38 P.M.

Philadelphia 76ers Receive: SF Jamal Mashburn and PF Rodney Rogers

New Orleans Hornets Receive: F Glenn Robinson


Paul was wrong. Big Dog has barked and whined his way into New Orleans after all.



1) Wednesday 11:57 P.M.

Philadelphia 76ers Receive: PF Chris Webber, F Matt Barnes and PF Michael Bradley

Sacramento Kings Receive: PF Kenny Thomas, F Corliss Williamson and FC Brian Skinner

Fast-Breaking It Down

I scrapped my TNB on TNT piece this week to bring to you some quick thoughts on the trade deadline biz going on today (I'm going to try and chime in on some thoughts throughout the day)...

-I'm not as down on the CWebb trade for the Kings as everyone else. Doesn't anyone else remember that the Kings had the best record last year heading into the All-Star Break without Webber playing a single game? Peja is clearly a better player without Webber and the two were reportedly butting heads both on and off the floor. When it comes down to it, Peja is a much better long-term investment for the Kings than Webber and while the team may have taken a step back in the short-term, they were not going to win a championship anyways and they didn't take as big a step back as people seem to believe. Kenny Thomas I've never been huge on, but he's solid, definitely a serviceable power forward that can give you 14 and 8 consistently. Corliss Williamson has proven himself to be a very solid bench commodity for any team, and anyone that has actually seen Brian Skinner play know that he's severely underrated. I'm a little curious as to why the Kings brought in only frontcourt players: an undersized power forward (Thomas), an undersized center (Skinner), and a tweener (Williamson). I'm guessing Billy King wasn't willing to include Willie Green in the deal, and that just tells you that Geoff Petrie must have been pretty desperate to rid himself of Webber. People can talk all they want about how the Sixers ripped off the Kings, and in the short-term that may ring true. But just remember that Webber's knees are shot, he can barely even elevate off the floor anymore, and he's seriously lacking the toughness that Allen Iverson brings to the table. I give Webber this year and next year to perform at an All-Star level, but then I'm predicting a serious decline. So if I'm a Sixers fan (which I partially am), I'm wishing Billy King could have gotten more for the Big Dog and that he makes the right moves this summer to ensure that the Sixers contend for a title next season. I just don't think they have quite enough talent or experience to be considered real threats this year--in the East or the entire NBA for that matter.

-Toronto GM Rob Babcock has called a press conference for 3pm today indicating that the Raptors have likely made a deal involving Donyell Marshall. Chad Ford reported at about 1:00 that he had heard the Cavs and Raptors were discussing a deal that would send Marshall to Cleveland for Dajuan Wagner, Desagana Diop, and Sasha Pavlovic. I really don't think the Cavs even need Donyell, but to get him for this?! Who wouldn't?! Wagner and Diop have already proven to be arguably--no there's no argument whatsoever, Wagner and Diop are two of the biggest busts of the past 5 years, and while I do like Pavlovic, he's worth the price if it means adding Marshall. I would guess Marshall would slide in and play a lot of 3, and with his sweet stroke from downtown, could be a nice addition for a team that appears poised to make a push in the playoffs.

-Houston's acquistion of Mike James was just a timely, brash move by Rockets GM Carroll Dawson. I had the luxury of watching Rod Strickland give it a go as the Rocket's point guard last night with Bob Sura sidelines, and to be blunt--it was almost painful to watch. ESPN play-by-play man Jim Durham, who's about as generous an announcer as there is, even took to poking fun at Strickland for wheezing during his 5-minute run to start the game. James showed in Boston and Miami that he can capably play the 1 with a playmaker's mentality, he proved last year in Detroit that he can be relied on heavily for defense, and this season he's shined as a legitimate scoring threat off Milwaukee's bench as more of a combo guard. James will settle in right away as Houston's point guard until Sura returns, and then create a niche for himself off the bench that should really help this club come playoff time.

-I talked with Anthony before about the Celtics' trade of Jiri Welsch for a first round pick two years down the road from a team that will likely be drafting in the mid to upper 20's for years to come. If you'll all remember, Welsch was the kicker in that LaFraentz for Walker deal a couple years ago and some thought he had a chance to settle in as a fixture in the Celts' future. Both Jim O'Brien and Doc Rivers gave this guy plenty of chances to prove himself, but all he's shown is that he's nothing more than a 15-20 mpg backup, and right now the Celtics don't really need that. So Ainge went out and got a little something for what was essentially nothing to the team. Kudos. Most GMs have too much pride to trade away a guy that they themselves acquired in a deal, often fearing the backlash they might receive from the media for essentially admitting the mistake they made.

Philadelphia Freedom

By Anthony Peretore

I woke up this morning to the news that Chris Webber was shipped to Philly. I immediately figured that some combination of Samuel Dalembert, Willie Green, Kyle Korver and a first round pick or two had to be involved. Nope. Kenny frickin’ Thomas, Corliss freakin’ Williamson, and Brian frackin’ Skinner for a five-time All-Star averaging 21.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG and 5.5 APG this season. To make this deal even more lopsided, the Kings decided to throw in 24 year-old Matt Barnes (and Michael Bradley), who has shown signs of becoming a valuable commodity off the bench. I couldn’t understand this at 7:30 A.M. and I understand it even less now, four and a half hours later.


Somewhere Billy King, Jim O'Brien and Allen Iverson are all smiling too

It’s obvious that Sacramento GM Geoff Petrie’s premise behind this deal was to restructure his team financially. Webber is due to make $17.M this season, $19.1M in 05/06, $20.7M in 06/07, and 22.3 in 07/08, a grand total of nearly $80 million over this four year span. During this same stretch of time, Thomas is due $22.3 million, Williamson $18.0M, and Skinner $20.7M for a total of a more manageable $61M. Since guys working at Target are making more than Barnes and Bradley, their contracts don’t really factor in. But think about it, saving $18M over four years only nets the Kings an additional $4.5M per season, allowing them to pursue in theory, a Rodney Rogers type player each off-season. So Petrie did unload C-Webb’s mammoth contract, but only to save mid-level exception money over the next few years. So what must Kings fans hope for? 1) That Thomas can fill some of the void created by Webber’s departure and that at just 27 years of age, there is still plenty of time for him to further develop. 2) This deal will help awaken Peja Stojakovic whose numbers are all down considerably from a year ago. It was widely known about Peja’s discontent with Webber in the lineup, which leads to, 3) The hope that the Kings can play like they did last year while Webber was nursing injuries. The team played significantly better without C-Webb last year going 43-15 in 58 games and just 12-12 after his return. All in all it appears now as if Petrie jumped the gun at ridding himself of Webber’s contract and in the mean time got back only marginal talent for an equally marginal amount of cap space. But, if the Kings start to play better (just 4-7 in February) and maybe even start to resemble last year’s group, everyone, including me, will be biting their tongues.

On the other side of the country, Sixers President Billy King is probably sleeping right now after completely his 2,500th cartwheel/back flip combination after this deal went down. Was a case of Heineken included in the deal? Did Petrie sleep with King’s wife? How did the Sixers ever pull this off after making countless deals over the past few years that have kept this team hovering around mediocrity? King has failed time and time again to bring in a player to compliment Allen Iverson. Now all of a sudden he could take three marginal players, all of basically the same position mined you, for an All-Star? This sets up Philly with a lineup of Iverson, Andre Iguodala, Kyle Korver, Webber and Dalembert with Barnes, Marc Jackson and Willie Green off the bench. If you think this team won’t win the Atlantic you’re crazy. King has basically locked up a three seed for his Sixers and potentially, a showdown with the Heat in the Conference Finals. The Kings on the other hand appear to be on the verge of a lower end seed in the West and yet another first/second round bounce. Maybe later today we’ll see Ray Allen get traded to the Celtics for Mark Blount, Yogi Stewart and a Bill Walton fanny pack.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Scouring the Rumor Mill

Scouring the (Trade) Rumor Mill



Michael Redd has been the subject of much trade talk this week, but will likely remain in Milwaukee.

While Anthony divulges into some trades he thinks should take place, I'm going to break down some rumors floating around out there since I know everyone is eagerly anticipating the trade deadline this Thursday. A couple things to keep in mind during this gossip-heavy time of year: 1- Never believe anything anyone on Fox Sports Net tells you; 2- When a GM denies talk of trade discussion, it means absolutely ship. Not unless a player is knowingly on the block (like Donyell Marshall, Gary Payton) will a GM ever confirm any gossip--the last thing he wants is to be stuck with a player who's got a puss on his face because he doesn't feel wanted; 3- The biggest and best trades usually don't leak out. When GMs are serious about hammering out a deal, the last thing they want is the media getting in the middle and goofing up details or making false presumptions. Happy players don't like to hear their names involved in trades. How would you like being part of a playoff team in a great city and then having to clean out your locker, pack up your house and family, and book a flight to sunny Toronto? Me either. 4- Most trade rumors stem from people opening their mouths after a potential trade is dead. Think about it like this--A dude and a chick are scandolously getting it on behind the scenes, and do not want any peers to know what's going on because they don't want to piss anyone off, not unless they're really serious about each other. Eventually they both realize they can't give each other exactly what they want, and all this messing around is getting them nowhere. So upon ending it, the chick (obviously) "lets it slip" as she tells a friend and before you know it, everyone around knows about what was going on. Trade talks are the same way--GMs are smart enough to know when they have to keep their mouths shut, and don't seem to mind as much when they say a little too much as long as all discussion is over with. Anyways, let's get to the rumors...

Rumor: The Bucks, fearing that Michael Redd will bolt at the end of the season, will trade their star before the deadline on Thursday.
Gossip: Milwaukee would love to resign the unrestricted Redd at the end of the season, but chances are, they are going to have to offer him a max deal this summer in order to keep him. Is Michael Redd worth a maximum contract? Well, look at it this way--Ray Allen has reportedly reduced his contract demands in Seattle for a deal below the max, and Michael Redd isn't quite Ray Allen. But if the Bucks are willing to overpay, then I'd be hard-pressed to see them trading Redd before Thursday because they know that nobody else will offer the guy what they can (even if Redd is offered a max deal from another team, he still would make significantly more as a Buck). I think what we're saying right now is Milwaukee (with all the reports of potential deals coming through) listening to offers for Michael Redd, and why not? If they aren't sure that A- they absolutely want to offer him a max deal and B- that he positively wants to come back to Milwaukee, then there's no harm in fielding offers.
What Will Happen: Redd won't be packing his bags anytime soon, not until at least this summer. If Bucks GM Larry Harris receives an offer that he can't refuse, which is a distinct possibility, then it makes sense for the team to accept and not sweat what Redd will do this summer. I think Cleveland has the most to offer (How about this deal: Drew Gooden, Luke Jackson, and Sasha Pavlovic for Redd, Erick Strickland (expiring contract), and Daniel Santiago (also expiring)?) and if Jim Paxson is willing to pony up some of his young talent, than the Bucks may come to an agreement. But unless something terrific comes along, don't expect Harris to just give away Redd. The team can still work on a sign-and-trade this summer if they decide that either they don't want to pay Redd or that he does not want to be there.

Rumor: Philadelphia will finally rid itself of that bum who goes by the name of Glenn Robinson.
Gossip: The latest has Big Dog headed to New Orleans in exchange for Jamal Mashburn and Rodney Rogers. Mashburn has another year left on his deal ($10 mil) and the Sixers would only have to pay him 20% of what he is supposed to make next year; Rogers ($2.7 mil) is a free agent at the end of the season, but I'm not sure the Sixers have any use for him. So while the Sixers still free up roughly the same amount of money as they would by letting Big Dog ($12 mi) do his barking from Jim O'Brien's bench for the rest of the season, does this deal really gain the Sixers anything? Basically instead of freeing up $12 million this summer, they would gain $10.7 million in cap room, rent Rogers for the spring, and make Robinson happy (which should not be a priority for Billy King)--whoopty-freaking-do. Forget it--you can squash this rumor because it just doesn't make enough sense. One rumor mentioned earlier this season had Robinson going to Portland and I don't see why that couldn't work now. If Billy King were to send Big Dog and a decent young player like John Salmons to Portland for Damon Stoudamire (whose contract is roughly the same as Robinson's and also up at the end of the season), then the Sixers still free up that money and get another scorer who could help them some down the stretch.
What Will Happen: I'd say 50/50 Robinson gets traded. I don't see Billy King pulling the trigger on any offer unless it clearly benefits the Sixers. As a GM, you have to accomodate a team, not a single player. But at the same time, they know Big Dog is gone at the end of the season, so if they can find a little something, perhaps anything (as long as they're not taking up any money), then it makes sense for King to just get rid of this bum now.

Rumor: Minnesota is looking to ship off Sam Cassell and/or Latrell Sprewell before Thursday's deadline.
Gossip: Both of these guys have been the subject of trade rumors ever since they started bitching about their contracts during the pre-season, and as the 'Wolves have seen their season head in an opposite direction from what they expected, much of the blame has been placed on Sammie and Spree, thus their "in-limbo" status with the team. There's been whispers from Minnesota that Sprewell will, in all likelihood, remain in Minnesota until season's end, when Kevin McHale can just rid himself of both his attitude and his contract. Cassell on the other hand, has one more year remaining on his deal, but now with rumors coming out that he may not return to the court for a long time due to injuries, it's hard to fathom anytime willing to place an offer for a 35 year-old point guard who can't last a whole season. I think Danny Ainge knows better than that, so you can take those Payton-for-Cassell rumors and shove 'em.
What Will Happen: I would be shocked if either one of these guys is traded, and it seems the only way it could possibly happen is if they are attached as part of a bigger deal involving Wally Szczerbiak. And since there doesn't appear to be a huge market for Wally either, it looks like the 'Wolves might be stuck with what they got this year.

Rumor: The Atlanta Hawks are openly looking to deal Antoine Walker.
Gossip: Walker has been outspoken in his desire to stick with the Hawks which most likely coincides with the team having an abundant of cap space to offer him, as well as a prominent role with the team--you can't blame him. GM Billy Knight has a tough decision to make because he knows that it's not going to be easy to attract top-tier talent to Atlanta unless he is willing to overpay big time, and Walker seems to be giving signs that he would work with the organiztion on setting up a fair deal. However, where does Walker fit in with the team? He's better suited as a 3 than a 4, but in the East, he can get by as a 4. Problem is the Hawks already have Josh Smith, Josh Childress, and Al Harrington. Each of these guys can play either the 2 or the 3, and s0 management needs to decide if it can somehow play all 3 at the 2, 3, and 4 slot--if so, then they have little use for Walker. If the team knows Walker does not fit into their long-term plans, then it's best for them to part ways now and get whatever they can in return--preferably a starting point guard or center. Rumors have surfaced that the Knicks, Celtics, and Sixers have all openly inquired about 'Toine, but the only team that seems to have what the Hawks may want is Philly, who could give up Dalembert, Robinson, and Josh Davis. But does this deal really make sense for the Sixers? Walker is a guy who needs the ball in his hands to be effective, so how does he mesh with A.I?
What Will Happen: Out of all the big name guys being mentioned in trade rumors, Walker appears to be the most available one. Problem is--nobody is really willing to give up too much for a guy that would completely alter a team's on-court chemistry and who they may or may not look to re-sign during the summer. If the right offer comes along, I think Billy Knight will take it--whether that right offer comes along is huge question mark.



Donyell Marshall is the best player that will almost certainly end up with another team.


Rumor: The Raptors will finally trade away Donyell Marshall and Jalen Rose after much deliberation.
Gossip: These two guys have openly been seeking a trade since the Vince Carter days in Toronto, but GM Rob Babcock's unwillingness to separate the two as part of a package has deadened any interest teams have in dealing with Toronto. With Rose locked up at a hefty price for another two years, teams aren't willing to take on the lefty just to get their hands on Marshall. It appears now, however, that Babcock has loosened his grip on the Rose/Marshall package with Rose excelling as 6th man and appearing to fit into the team's plans for the future. Marshall still is insisting on being traded away, going so far as to having his agent present potential deals to Babcock. With zero chance that he returns to the team next year and there not being a point in holding onto him because his contract frees up only a little cash at the end of the season, it makes no sense for Babcock not to get something in return for Marshall now. Rumors have been flying about a potential deal to Indiana for either Scot Pollard or Austin Croshere, but what about a trade to the Lakers if the Boozer deal falls through? By trading Donyell Marshall for Devean George and Brian Cook, the Raptors still free up some money and acquire a young big who fits the team's fast-paced, perimeter-oriented approach? It may not be much, but at least it's something.
What Will Happen: Okay, you're probably annoyed by now, that I, like everyone else, seems to be under the thinking that there isn't going to be much action this trade deadline--that's partially true. I do believe that there is going to be a deal or two that goes under the radar and shocks people when the news break. And I also believe Donyell Marshall is as good as gone from Toronto. Too many teams want him, and Toronto needs to get something for him before he crosses the border this summer and lands with another team. Rob Babcock will pull the trigger, likely right before the deadline tomorrow, on the best deal available to him.

Rumor: The Memphis Grizzlies are quietly pondering whether or not to pull the trigger on the mega-deal that their fans have been patiently waiting for.
Gossip: Not much really, this is something I'm brewing up purely on my own because I know a lot of our readers our dying to know what Jerry West is up to. Let me be completely honest with you--I think West, Fratello, and Versace are content with the team right now and honestly like their chances to advance at least one round in the playoffs (and for that matter so do I--I could definitely see a Grizzlies 1st round upset over Phoenix or Seattle). And now with the injury bug biting the team pretty hard and the team in a struggle to make the playoffs as it is, it's tough to see a deal taking place. There's no question the Grizz have the parts to get something done, but Jerry West has been open in looking to acquire a star (preferably a big man) and teams just aren't willing to give up a legitimate star right now unless they have a reason to. Nevertheless, I do believe it makes sense for West to start playing his cards, and with a number of big names available right now, it would not hurt to at least inquire about some of them. In order to acquire Michael Redd, a potential deal could have the Grizz also taking on Joe Smith while parting with both of their low-priced young guys, Earl Watson and Dahntay Jones, as well as James Posey. To get guys like Odom or Peja, West would likely have to anti up Gasol, especially considering neither the Lakers nor Kings is in a situation where they have to get rid of either guy.
What Will Happen: If there's any team that may have something up their sleeve, it has to be the Grizz. West knows better than to open his mouth about any trade discussions, so it's possible he's working on something as we speak--though I wouldn't count on it. If West wants his next big move to involve bringing in a bonafied star, now probably isn't the right time. Sure there's Baron Davis, Michael Redd, Peja Stojakovic, Lamar Odom, Antoine Walker, and Carlos Boozer, but none of them really fits what the team needs and some are a far cry from being Jerry West "guys", and when other players like Ray Allen, Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Steve Francis, Paul Pierce, Larry Hughes, Eddy Curry, and Samuel Dalembert could be easily available and had this summer, West knows when and how to play his cards, and I think he's going to remain patient.

Wednesday's NBA Picks

February 23, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

ANTHONY'S PICKS:

Last Night: (1-3), Week: (1-3)
  • Miami +4 over INDIANA
  • WASHINGTON -3 over Memphis
  • NEW ORLEANS +6.5 over Seattle--LOCK
  • Boston +5.5 over DENVER
  • Dallas -5 over UTAH
  • GOLDEN STATE -8 over Atlanta

I had these picks up at 5pm but bloggers a piece of crap. I didn't change anything, I swear. Notice how Miami and Wash are losing now, so there's no reason for me to lie. Peace

PAUL'S PICKS:

Last Night: (1-4), Week: (1-4)

  • INDIANA [20-10-2] -4 over Miami [17-16-2]--LOCK
  • DENVER [16-20] -5.5 over Boston [18-17-1]
  • PHOENIX [20-18-2] -9.5 over Clippers [15-18]
  • Lakers [14-15-2] +4.5 over PORTLAND [16-18]

Karma--1-4 last night, that's what I get for talking smack on Anthony. Oh, well. Shaq is out, and Miami had their Ewing Theory heartfelt effort last night in Chicago--playing their hearts out until eventually succumbing to the Bulls on OT. Unfortunately Indiana is about to go on a roll and will have no problem disposing the Heat. Boston played hard last night before playing another terrible 4th quarter--I'm guessing they'll be sucking wind in Denver tonight and suffer a similar fate. Clippers have Rick Brunson at point guard--'nough said. And I'm going to stick with the Lakers, who really looked good last night. Back in the preseason I guessed that they'd finish with the 4 or 5 seed because Kobe and Odom would wreak of MJ and Jordan--last night they sure as hell did and I think this could be the start of something for the team. Good luck tonight...

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Five Trades: Part 2

By Anthony Peretore

February 22, 2005

With the NBA trade deadline just two days, one hour and 10 minutes away (and counting), the majority of us are praying for a flurry of transactions to light up the week’s headlines. Unfortunately, due to the negotiations of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams have been hesitant to put together any serious talks. GM’s across the league aren’t sure what to expect from the new parameters of the agreement, causing reluctance in parting with expiring contracts. Since we’re coming down to the wire, it’s only appropriate to once again offer five trades that most definitely should go down by February 24.


1. Los Angeles Lakers Receive:
SF Peja Stojakovic (38.3 min, 19.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG)
PG Bobby Jackson (21.7 min, 11.9 PPG, 2.3 APG—out for the season)

Sacramento Kings Receive:
SF Lamar Odom (36.4 min, 15.7 PPG, 10.3 RPG)

This deal was reported by numerous sources this past weekend in Denver. With the Carlos Boozer for Caron Butler, Devean George and Vlade Divac deal apparently/possibly done, the Lakers should pull the trigger on one more deal for the stretch run. By adding Boozer, LA would already make up for the rebounds lost in parting ways with Odom. Thus, all they would need in return is a shooter to compliment Kobe Bryant’s slashing style. Think about it—Kobe’s double-teamed, Peja’s wide open for three—splash. LA would have a solid duo in the post in Boozer and Mihm, two great outside shooters in Peja and Chucky Atkins and an all-around scorer and defender in Kobe. As an added bonus, the team would acquire B-Jax to compete for the starting point guard position next season.

Sactown would be Odom's third destination in two years

For Sacramento, well, they’re all about scoring and versatility. Odom, a 6-10 slasher, would fit perfectly into the King’s up-tempo offense. Losing Jackson will hurt their bench next season, but the Kings are looking to make moves for the present and sure up a top spot in the West.


2. Los Angeles Clippers Receive:
PG Sam Cassell (28.1 min, 14.3 PPG, 5.9 APG)
PG Troy Hudson (20.9 min, 8.6 PPG, 3.6 APG)

Portland Trailblazers Receive:
SF Wally Szczerbiak (33.3 min, 16.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG)
GF Latrell Sprewell (31.1 min, 12.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG)
SG Kerry Kittles (22.1 min, 6.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG)
First Round Pick from Minnesota

Minnesota Timberwolves Receive:
SF Shareef Abdur-Rahim (35.2 min, 15.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG)
PG Damon Stoudamire (33.1 min, 15.8 PPG, 5.5 APG)
SF Ruben Patterson (26.9 min, 10.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG)
PG Marko Jaric (34.5 min, 10.5 PPG, 6.9 APG)

This deal took me about a half an hour to construct seeing that most of these contracts are outrageous. Let’s start with the Clips. With Jaric and Livingston out for at least another month each, the team is in desperate need of a solid point especially with Rick Brunson, Lionel Chalmers and Maurice Baker as their only current options. In acquiring Cassell, LA gets a veteran point with only one year left on his contract. That means he could stick around next year and mold the young Livingston into a better floor leader. Also, all the team would be getting rid of is Jaric, whom they don’t need anyway, and the expiring contract of Kittles. Hudson is simply a throw-in to make the deal work financially--although he could provide a nice scoring threat off the bench, something LA is severely lacking. At only 4.5 games back of a playoff spot and with seven of their remaining 29 games against basement dwellers, why not make a push?

With Portland, they are trying desperately to unload SAR, preferably for another expiring contract or two. This deal nets them two, Spree and Kittles. Also, they get back a quality young wing player in Zerb, with a fairly reasonable contract (compared to SAR’s anyway). Kittles and Spree will come off the books this summer giving the Blazers enough cap space to pursue a quality free agent. They do lose Stoudamire who is playing extremely well now, but let’s face it, Portland’s not making the playoffs anyway so why not free up some PT for rookie Sebastian Telfair? The Blazers would also get rid of Patterson’s contract (19M+ for next two years and this season). With Telfair, Zerb, Darius Miles, Zach Randolph and Joel Przybilla, the Blazers would have a nice young core of players with money to spend this summer. The first-round pick could come in handy down the road as well.

Finally, Minnesota needs players who are going to put in the same quality effort of Kevin Garnett. If the lack of dedication on this team is that bad to make a grown man cry, changes need to be made. In netting SAR, the Wolves get an All-Star caliber ‘3’ to play alongside KG. Also, they get a point guard playing his best basketball in arguably seven years, to immediately step in as the leader of a team fighting for a playoff spot. Their new lineup would look something like: Stoudamire, Trenton Hassell, Abdur-Rahim, KG and Michael Olowakandi with Eddie Griffin, Patterson and eventually Jaric off the bench. You’re telling me this team couldn’t hold off Denver for the eight seed?

(Note: This deal is bridged entirely on the assumption that Cassell will be able to play the majority of the remainder of the season)


3. Indiana Pacers Receive:
F Antoine Walker (40.2 min, 20.2 PPG, 9.5 RPG)
GF Boris Diaw (19.2 min, 4.0 PPG, 2.9 RPG)

Atlanta Hawks Receive:
F Jonathan Bender (13.3 min, 5.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG)
SG Fred Jones (32.4 min, 11.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG)
PF Austin Croshere (26.5 min, 9.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG)

Now I may get blasted for this deal, but hear me out. Indiana desperately needs something or this organization could take a turn for the worst. They are currently out of the playoff picture, albeit tied with Philadelphia for the eight seed, but still out. They need a trade that will not only sneak them into the postseason but also put them in position to contend. Walker is having one of his best seasons as a pro and his contract expires after this season. If the team was willing to part with Artest this summer, they could re-sign Walker for less money and add him to the mix that already includes Jermaine O’Neal, Jamaal Tinsley and Stephen Jackson. With ‘Toine, Indy gets a relatively young proven scorer (just 28 years old) with plenty of playoff experience from when he played in Boston. If the Pacers can climb up to the six seed they would draw the winner of the dreadful Atlantic Division and conceivably sneak into the second round of the postseason. From that point, they could probably handle anyone but Miami.


'Toine could be wearing yellow full-time

Atlanta, on the other hand, is desperate to make any sort of progression with their 10-41 team. Now the first criticism I’ll undoubtedly take is the fact that Atlanta is taking on payroll with this deal. But understand this, by taking Walker and Diaw out of the equation, the money the Hawks would owe to their remaining players next season would only be around $18.4 million. That’s chump change in the NBA, with most teams spending in the neighborhood of $50-60 million. Now $40+ million for Atlanta to spend is arguably too much since there is no plausible reason to assume any decent free agent would join this team anyway. Adding potential All-Stars in Bender and Jones and the veteran savvy of a Croshere could make this team 10-15 wins better. Say they could net Chris Paul in this year’s draft, next year’s starting lineup could be: Paul, Jones, Josh Smith, Bender and possibly a free-agent center. Plus they will have Al Harrington to deal this off-season, a player the team has soured on quite a bit.


4. Golden State Warriors Receive:
SG Michael Redd (37.9 min, 22.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG)
SF Keith Van Horn (25.6 min, 10.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG)
C Zaza Pachulia (19.1 min, 6.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG)


Milwaukee Bucks Receive:
SG Mickael Pietrus (19.4 min, 8.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG)
SF Mike Dunleavy Jr. (32.9 min, 12.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG)
C Dale Davis (16.0 min, 3.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG)
SF Calbert Cheaney (17.8 min, 4.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG)

Let’s face it, both these teams need a little spark, heck, a huge spark. The Warriors have an abundance of young talent that just doesn’t appear to be developing the way they’d like. Pietrus plays relatively the same position as Jason Richardson who is clearly their star and having an amazing second half thus far. Dunleavy (the supposed “next Larry Bird”) has fallen well short of his expectations—to say the least. These two guys need a new setting, a place where they can start fresh with less pressure. With Davis, Golden State rids themselves of an ugly contract while the Bucks get a veteran ‘5’ to tutor both Dan Gadzuric and Daniel Santiago. Getting two quality young players and a veteran leader is decent compensation in giving up a former All-Star in Redd.


Skelator, er, Dunleavy could start fresh in The Bradley Center


Milwaukee’s main concern of course, is losing Redd this summer to free-agency. Now they’d love to make a trade if they could include Van Horn’s monstrous contract, and this deal does just that. The Bucks get a young ‘2’ and ‘3’ back to develop alongside T.J. Ford next season, and they will also be able to pick up a big with their lottery pick this summer. Milwaukee needs to start from scratch, as this current team is going nowhere fast. Risking re-signing Redd this summer is far too dangerous. (Note: the throw-in of Pachulia could be substituted for Santiago—but either way a big needs to go back to the Warriors as they are already very thin at the ‘5.’)


5. Toronto Raptors Receive:
SG Eddie Jones (35.7 min, 12.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG)
SF Dorell Wright (Injured List for majority of season)
C Michael Doleac (13.4 min, 3.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG)
PF Malik Allen (18.3 min, 6.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG)

Miami Heat Receive:
SG Jalen Rose (30.4 min, 16.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG)
SF Donyell Marshall (24.3 min, 10.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG)

I just can’t see February 24th coming and going without Rose and D-Marsh on the move. The Heat are one of those teams like Detroit last year, in need of that extra boost to put them over the top. Miami is playing for right now, not three years down the road, so Wright is expendable. One has to wonder if Pat Riley only drafted him to use as trade bait in a situation just like this. Rose is a better scorer than Jones and much more versatile, being able to play all three small positions. In Marshall they get a banger and shooter off the bench for Udonis Haslem or even Rose at the ‘3.’ A lineup of Damon Jones, Dwyane Wade, Rose, Haslem and Shaq with ‘Zo and Marshall off the bench would most definitely be able to hang with anyone in the West.

As for Toronto, they get a valuable young prospect to fit nicely into their already youthful core. Rafer Alston, Morris Peterson, Chris Bosh and Rafael Araujo are all under the age of 29, forming a solid nucleus for the future. Malik Allen (6-10, 250) may be a valuable commodity down the road as well. Jones can step in where Rose left off and provide veteran leadership for young scorers like Mo-Pete and Wright. Coach Sam Mitchell needs a savvy veteran to help tutor his youth and keep them under control. Having Jones around for the next few seasons will be a financial burden, but it’s a bit less than they would have to pay Rose and plus they get Marshall off the books. Doleac and Allen are both free agents at the end of the season, giving the Raps (along with the savings of Donyell’s contract) an additional $6M to throw at a free agent.

Tuesday's NBA Picks

February 22, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

ANT'S PICKS

  • ORLANDO -2.5 over Indiana
  • DETROIT -10 over New York
  • Seattle +3 over HOUSTON
  • Boston +3 over LAKERS

Hey guys, I'm really sorry I haven't been around much lately, I've been dealing with some family issues. But I'm back for the long haul and hopefully going to do better on my picks. I say anyone who's interested in making picks for the rest of the season email us and let us know you're in. Also, make your picks tonight and just post them on the message board. I can have the Picks Challenge Standings up by tomorrow. Let me know. On to the picks...

Orlando has beaten Indy twice already this year and without Tinsley the Pacers just stink. Magic 99, Pacers 95. New York stinks and those few wins in the last week before the break were all crap. Milwaukee w/o Redd, Charlotte on a buzzer-beater, c'mon. Pistons 97, Knicks 84. Sura's out tonight I read and I think the Sonics are due for a win after losing their last two. Sonics 104, Rockets 98. Finally, my Celts are in LA to start their stretch run and with all the trade rumors surrounding the Lakers, I'm going with the C's. Boston 105, Lakers 101. GLTA

PAUL'S PICKS

  • CHARLOTTE [13-18-3] +2 over Milwaukee [23-10-1]
  • DETROIT [21-12-1] -10.5 over New York [23-12-1]
  • Miami [17-15-2] -3.5 over CHICAGO [19-16]
  • HOUSTON [14-19-3] -3 over Seattle [19-13]
  • LAKERS [13-15-2] -3.5 over Boston [17-17-1]

I guess we're restarting the standings since Anthony's in last place. Ever notice how whenever he's doing bad, he pulls out the, "Alright, guys. Sorry about my picks lately. I just haven't been concentrating hard enough and putting in enough though into my picks." Caaaaaaahmon, Anthony! To his credit, he has been dealing with a lot of shit this past week, and may be ready to set forth on a Vince Carteresque turnaround. Regardless, the picks standings aren't going anywhere--not as long as I'm in a battle for first. On to the picks...

Charlotte will come out of the break playing hard and have Okafor back, I like them to win. Detroit has been demolishing everyone at home and the Knicks are terrible. Miami has beaten the Bulls handily twice--just too good and strong for the Baby Bulls. Houston has been great and a little rest probably did this team well, I like them tonight. And since Anthony (surprise!) picked his Celtics, the Lakers were just a no-brainer. G'luck...

Monday, February 21, 2005

Boozer Wasted? O'Connor quick to trade PF


Fox Sports Net-LA is reporting that the Jazz have agreed to send Carlos Boozer to the Lakers in exchange for Caron Butler, Vlade Divac, and Devean George.

All-Star Afterthoughts

By Anthony Peretore

There is an abundance of articles today summing up the events of the 54th All-Star Game in Denver last night—recaps of all the highlight reel dunks and no look passes, debates over who should have taken home MVP honors, and even takes on how incredibly boring the game was. While that’s all good and fun, it gets a bit repetitive. So instead of boring you, I decided to jot down some notes on things you might not read today and may have missed during last night’s action.

Pre-Game and Introductions

After an extremely busy and chaotic weekend, I amazingly found 26 seconds yesterday to check in my local newspaper for the tip-off time. The paper read 8 p.m., which I assumed after the pre-game hoopla would really mean about 8:30 or so. Well, here it was 8:30 and some lady was playing the guitar on a stage surrounded by fake rocks and little kids. Now usually I wouldn’t care, but I wasn’t trying to go to bed at 12 a.m. since I didn’t hit the sack until 6:15 a.m. the night, er, morning before. Finally around 8:45 the player introductions began. Here’s my take on each player’s stroll down the Rocky Mountain path:


Eastern Conference

Stan Van Gundy: Undoubtedly one of the more awkward, but comical moments of the night. With SVG just standing hopelessly on stage while the P.A. announcer introduced “the Head Coach of the Miami Heat,” pounds of fake snow were falling on his head and sticking to his mustache. (Speaking of mustaches, if anyone my age grew a mustache (without the goatee) wouldn’t they be ridiculed to death? How is it that like 60% of my father’s generation sports the upper lip hair, yet if young adults today tried to do the same they would probably be exiled to Cambodia?) Grade: C- for awkwardness

Paul Pierce: Classic two-handed jersey pull showing everyone that he plays for Boston in case we forgot. I had no problem with this, but how much gum did he have in his mouth? Did he grab a whole bag of Big League Chew in the locker room? Grade: B+

Zydrunas Ilgauskas: Surprisingly smooth intro. Z actually has a pretty cool pimp walk for a 7-3 Lithuanian. Grade: A-

Ben Wallace: The one-finger point to the sky. Not a bad move, just really unoriginal. I mean Jesse Owens was doing the one-finger back in the ‘36 Olympics. Grade: C

Jermaine O’Neal: Had the fashion show strut down pat, what a pimp. Seriously you know his house is covered in silk and velvet. Grade: A-

Dwyane Wade: Lifted up his warm-up to point to the number 3 on his jersey. Again, we realize what number you are, what team you play for and that you’re probably number one. Grade: C

Gilbert Arenas: Wonder where Gil was on Saturday night? Apparently Bambi and Buttons gave him some advice for his intro. In case you missed it, Arenas ripped off his warm-up and started swinging around his head like the Lone Ranger. The orange shoes didn’t help one bit.
Grade: C+

Antawn Jamison: He seemed really nervous like one of those: “Damn I knew I should have dropped a deuce in the locker room” faces.
Grade: C-

Vince Carter: Extremely cool routine. Nothing unoriginal, just smooth as ice with the occasional wave. Grade: A

Grant Hill: I’m not even joking, it was the same exact entrance as VC, to a tee. Grade: A

Allen Iverson: It wouldn’t be an All-Star game without AI pointing to his mom. What is it with Philly stars and their attachment to their mothers? Get a grip. Grade: B-

LeBron James: Apparently “The King” thought we were at a Jay-Z concert, flashing the Rock-a-Fella symbol. I don’t know what this means and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to. Imagine if the white trainer for the East did this? Yet when James does it we’re all like, “Oh, that’s cool.” Grade: B

Is this the All-Star Game or Candyland?


Shaquille O’Neal: Classic Shaq, lightening the mood with a little shuffle to the music. Nice touch. Grade: A

Note: After the East starters were introduced, Destiny’s Child performed for their second song, “I need a soldier.” This has relatively no relavence to my article, but it’s an excuse for me to throw in a Beyonce picture. You can thank me later.


The blonde in the back aint too shabby either



Western Conference

Before the players came on, the whitest trainers in the world were introduced with the beat from DC’s song still playing in the background. Awkward moment number two.

Gregg Popovich: Again, with the hip-hop beat still playing in the intros, it made it very hard for any Caucasian to look cool, but Pop managed to do a pretty good job. Grade: B+

Dirk Nowitzki: Did the questionable walk down then shuffle back to the beat routine. Nothing a 7-0 white German should be doing, ever. Grade: C-

Shawn Marion: Awful dance, never even attempted to get in sync with the rhythm of the song. C’mon Matrix. Grade: D+

Steve Nash: Just think what you would expect from Nash and that’s exactly what he did. Grade: B

Amare Stoudemire: Decided to go the Ben Wallace route with the finger point, except his digit is like 13 inches long. It looked like an antenna was coming out of his hand. Okay, enough talk about huge black dudes and the length of their fingers. Sorry. Grade: Awkward

Manu Ginobili: Tried to use his Euro “dance moves” and shimmy to the beat of the song. Didn’t do a bad job, but I just don’t like him. Grade: F-

Ray Allen: Your classic Nixon-like double peace sign. Not bad for a politician but I expected a lot more from Jesus Shuttlesworth. Grade: C

Rashard Lewis: Single peace sign, better than the double, but still very unoriginal. Grade: B-

Tim Duncan: Read Steve Nash above. (Note: Ever notice TD’s nose? Mangled doesn’t even begin to describe that thing. Don’t these guys make millions? Get that thing adjusted, yeesh) Grade: B

Kevin Garnett: Very nice dance—classic head-sway and dip while managing to stay in sync with the arm motions. He also was tear-free throughout the entire routine (Sorry, I had to). Grade: A-

Kobe Bryant: Looked like he just got back from a backpacking trip in the Serengeti with that gross beard. Did receive some boos—definitely expected with the game in Colorado—but handle it very well. Grade: B+

Tracy McGrady: The only thing that stood out for me was that when he was low-fiving the cheerleaders and kids on the sides of the stage he barely had to bend down at all. He has the wingspan of a freakin’ fighter jet. Grade: B

Yao Ming: I thought this had the makings of one of the funniest moments of the night, but I came away sadly disappointed. The only humor involved was the enormous magnitude of Yao’s head. That thing is huge. They also announced that he received the most votes ever for this All-Star Game. David Stern say, “Thank you China.” Grade: B

National Anthems

Canadian: Yes, that’s anthems, with an s. Because of the damn Toronto Raptors we have to sit through three additional minutes of singing with the Canadian National anthem. However, if we made it a rule that Tamia (Grant Hill’s wife) had to sing it every time I would have no problem with this. Included in this moment was the guaranteed shot of Steve Nash ten seconds into the song and later, a glimpse of Vince Carter actually singing along. Awkward moment number 54 and the game didn’t even start yet. I thought Tamia did an excellent job—maybe the best singing of any anthem I’ve ever heard. Seemed like the audience agreed.

American: David Robinson introduced an armed soldier’s choir to sing the American National Anthem. However, throughout the song all I could do is wonder if D-Rob’s lips actually got bigger. Was this really possible?

Daps and Tip-off

No Kobe and Shaq did not wish each other luck, in fact they didn’t even come close to one another. Quick side note, right before the tip my buddy Matt called and offered me our daily bet. Understand that him and I bet on anything and everything and that he’s beating me 189-2. The wager, as always, was beer. Since he was out and had sensibly already downed a few, I knew I could smuggle the West from him at –5.5. As an added bonus, I suggested that we both choose two players to win the MVP award. I gave him first pick: LeBron, followed by my Iverson, his Kobe, my T-Mac. Final bet: two beers on the game and a bonus two on MVP.

Game Time

Since I knew every other website would provide their readers with thorough reviews of the game itself, I was planned to do something original. Since I couldn’t come up with anything brilliant, I simply decided to keep tract of all the dunks in the game, knowing there would be an abundance with relatively no defense being played. The end result: 27 dunks, 15 in the first half, 12 in the second. Here’s the dunk leaderboard and some comments on individual slams:

Shaq: 5—including an up-close shot of Yao saying “Oh s@$%!”
TD: 4—in just three-quarters
Marion: 3—sick two-hander
LeBron: 2—weak breakaway slam
Kobe: 2—best oop of the night from Nash
Wade: 2—nasty breakaway reverse
Amare: 2—second best oop from Kobe
Allen: 1
Big Ben: 1

G. Hill: 1—nice hops on the oop from Wade
J. O’Neal: 1
Garnett: 1
Yao: 1
VC: 1
—by far the illest of the night. For the record, the off-the-glass-to-himself dunk is counted as just a dunk and not a shot, rebound and make.


This slam nearly paralyzed Pierce


Ant’s Awards

Best Free Throw: Shaq’s one-hander in the second quarter that looked better than any other FT attempt he’s taken all year

Best Stat That Turned Out to Mean Nothing: At the 11-minute mark of the second quarter, the West was out-rebounding the East 23-9, yet still lost the game mostly in part to…

Game’s Best Run: The East’s 17-o spurt in the second quarter where Popovich basically fell asleep on the bench. No group of All-Stars should ever let up a 17-point run.

Best Voice: Shaq’s monotone speech that without fail, puts me to sleep every time he talks for more than 15 seconds straight.

Worst Voice: Diana Taurasi and her ghetto talk. The other night after she won the whatever the hell that lame competition is, I heard her say to Marion: “Aww snap, naw ahka do ma dance.” WHAT? You’re a white girl from UConn, stop doing that. Also, have you ever thought about if she gets it on with the NBA players? My bet is absolutely.

Rumor of the Night: From David Aldridge announcing a potential Lamar Odom for Peja Stojakovic and Bobby Jackson deal. He also mentioned that both teams denied the report, but that this really meant the exact opposite. Well, B-Jax is out for the year, so the immediate results for the Lakers simply replace Odom with Peja. I like this deal more for the Lakers for next season when Jackson returns. Right now however, unless they could deal Caron Butler for a legit rebounding ‘4,’ this team would get hammered on the glass.

Best Commercial: The one with the African tribesman making the model figures of Garnett, T-Mac and TD and placing them in the arena to play some ball. Very good basketball commercial on arguably the best night of the NBA season. Not sure how an African tribesman would be familiar with these players, but oh well.

Worst Commercial: Tie. First was that Jeep one with the SUV plowing through like 13 inches of snow. Who drives in over a foot of snow anyway? Was anyone like, “Judith, that would be great for our vacation in Anchorage next September!” The other one was that horrendous Nokia bit where the three guys elect to watch NBA highlights on their 2 inch phone screen rather than the 60-inch plasma television that’s right in front of them. Plus none of them check out the smoking hot chick with the mini-skirt that walks by? Ridiculous.

Potentially Funny Moment That Was Not That Funny: Shaq and P. Diddy’s shoe cell phone. Actually, Craig Sager talking to P. Diddy on a size-23 sneaker cell phone was pretty damn funny.

Best Statistic: Last time the All-Star game was held in Denver was 1984 when Isiah Thomas nabbed the MVP award with 22 points and 15 assists. What one may forget is that Magic Johnson had 22 assists that night. Seeing him now weighing roughly 412 lbs., that’s really hard to imagine.


All in all, not a bad game but really not worth staying up until almost 12. The jerseys were dope, as were the dunks, but the best part of the night, I got my two beers back with my Iverson selection.



Thanks Allen

Sunday, February 20, 2005

J-Smooooooooooove!


Josh "J-Smoove" Smith stole the show on All-Star Saturday Night with the best dunking display since "Vinsanity" in 2000.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The 2005 Slam Dunk Contest

The Participants


Chris Andersen


Josh Smith


J.R. Smith


Amare Stoudemire

Friday, February 18, 2005

2005 All-Star Weekend Preview


Shaquille O'Neal leads the East in this year's NBA All-Star Game

Fast-Breaking It Down: All-Star Style

By Paul Benedict

Friday

-All-Star weekend kicks off tonight at 7 with the McDonald's NBA All-Star Celebrity Game featuring such marquee names as Kevin Frazier (must have been real tough to get him, he was only ESPN's NBA studio host last year) , Eric Koston (who?), Brian McKnight (how does he get invited every year? I think his celebrity status still exists purely because he appears at events like Rock and Jock and Hollywood Squares--sort of like Coolio and Mark McGrath), Mark McGrath, and Roger Lodge. Oh, boy! I can't wait to see Rap mogul Jermaine Dupri battle cheesy rock star Ryan Cabrera for position in the post, or how about the fascinating one-on-one matchup that pits Fox star Danny Masterson (That 70's Show) against NBC star Donald Faison (Scrubs), and of course, we'll all be eagerly awaiting the moment when Ice Cube goes in for a lay-up only to have the ball shoved back down his throat by a woman over a foot taller than him--one Ms. Lisa Leslie (I actually wasn't being sarcastic about that last part). And what's with Greg Anthony and Stephen A. Smith being listed as the GMs for the two teams? Are we supposed to anticipate trade discussions during this sorry 2 hour event? Hey, if Nelly refuses to play for Greg Anthony in order to force a trade to play under Stephen A's club, or if Eric Koston (who?) goes to Stephen A. to see that coach Andre Miller is fired--then it'll be just like a real game, and I'm all for it.
-The Rookie/Sophomore Challenge has turned into one of the more reliable events at All-Star Weekend over the past 5 or so years and this year's game could prove to be the most enjoyable. The Sophomore team is stacked from top to bottom with the likes of LeBron, 'Melo, Wade, and Bosh. Unfortunately LeBron has been feeling a bit under the weather as of late and may have to pull it out, which would hurt this game's stock immensely. I've been itching to see LeBron in this game ever since he put on a marvelous display in last year's game. You have to think the King takes this game a less seriously than Sunday's All-Star Game and so we'll likely see the kid having a little more fun and being more creative. The Rookie team will be without Emeka Okafor, which basically means that instead of losing by 30, they'll probably go down by about 47. There are some nice faces on that team that should be a good source of entertainment--Tony Allen, Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, and my boy Ben Gordon. But we don't watch this game for the competitiveness now anyways--so enjoy the dunks, no-look passes, and the worst defense you'll see this side of Savannah State. Inside the NBA follows the Rookie/Sophomore Challenge--tune in. The crew always turns it up a notch during All-Star Weekend and last night Charles made an absurdly lucky pool shot that is sure to be aired continually throughout the weekend.


Carmelo Anthony will help lead the Sophomores to victory in tonight's Rookie/Sophomore Challenge.

Saturday

-TNT begins their programming at 4pm on Saturday with NBA Street Series and while none of the live events begin until 8pm, it's worth checking out some of the programs they'll be airing. At 5 pm, they'll be showing All-Star 1-on-1 where several All-Stars sit down with TNT talent--Steve Nash with Charles Barkley, Ray Allen with Kenny Smith, Dirk Nowitzki with Doug Collins, Kevin Garnett and Grant Hill with John Thompson. If any of you caught the snippet of the KG sit-down with John Thompson where "The Big Ticket" nearly broke down and cried when discussing how tough this season has been for him, you probably have an idea of how good this could be. By the way, is there a better interviewer than John Thompson for the NBA? Seriously, most of these cats were growing up when Georgetown was enjoying it's run as the most feared and respected team in the nation thanks to JT, so every player respects him immensely from a basketball sense. And then he's also got that reputation as a father figure and so the players look at him from that angle as well. I encourage you to watch Big John tomorrow, you'll know what I'm talking about.
At 6pm--Inside the NBA All Star-Edition and you all know how I feel about that--must-see TV. Afterwards, TNT will be airing Mile High: The Legend of the Dunk Contest and this simply cannot be missed. The history of how the Slam Dunk Contest started back in 1976 as part of the ABA All-Star Weekend in Denver, famous dunkers speaking including David Thompson, Julius Erving, and George Gervin--should be some entertaining stuff.

-Finally at 8 pm, TNT brings us the main event for Saturday--All-Star Saturday Night which has always been my favorite part of All-Star Weekend. It begins with the...ugh...Shooting Stars Competition which has been a disaster year in, year out. Who cares to see 4 teams with one current NBA player, one retired NBA player, and one WNBA player going against each other to see who can hit more jump shots? Why not just take 4 NBA players and have them play HORSE or 21?
Next up is the Playstation Skills Challenge with Gilbert Arenas, Earl Boykins, Steve Nash, and Luke Ridnour. This is an enjoyable event, but it goes by too quickly with almost no suspense. Instead of giving them only an obstacle course to run through, why not have the top 2 winners face off in a 1-on-1 battle?
The third event is the 3-point Shooting Contest where Voshon Lenard (on one achilles) attempts to defend his title against Vladamir Radmanovic, Ray Allen, Joe Johnson, Quentin Richardson, and Kyle Korver. I love this event, but how can the NBA possibly not invite Damon Jones and Fred Hoiberg regardless of what criteria they have? DJ would have brought extra drama to the event with the bet Shaquille O'Neal proposed to him if he were to win it. What's the harm in getting Shaq involved with every event possible? And Hoiberg is far and away the league leader in 3-point percentage and would certainly fair better than Q-Rich who only qualifies because of his Antoine Walkeresque bombs away mentality.
Finally we have the Slam Dunk Contest to conclude the night, which everyone is already poo-pooing. C'mon now. Josh Smith and J.R. Smith can both jump out of the building--I'm not sure there's 2 guys that we haven't seen in a dunk contest yet (save LeBron and Wade) that I'd rather see than these two. Amare Stoudemire has to have something up his sleeve if he's so pumped to be doing it this year. He wasn't anything special two years ago and he knows his status as only being a power dunker is on the line, so I'd imagine the man-child is going to bring something nice to the table. And Chris Anderson, well--not a bad dunker at all and he wasn't too terrible a couple years ago either, but I can't see him doing much. Let's pray that LeBron gets worked up enough to just toss his name into the fray and enter the contest at the 9th hour. The league is still holding out for him, but in reality, LeBron has a lot more to lose if he doesn't claim the crown than if he does. I'd imagine a lot of his confidantes have been whispering in his ear to stay out, and that's why we likely won't see him.

Sunday


-Sunday brings us the entree if you will--The NBA All-Star Game...East vs. West...Shaq vs. Kobe...LeBron's first All-Star Appearance...Grant Hill making his heartfelt return to the All-Star Game...Vince Carter trying to prove he belongs...Nash and Nowitzki as teammates again...should be a blast. I think this year has a great chance to be one of the more competitive games in recent years. For starters, Greg Popovich and Stan Van Gundy are not exactly coaches who endorse showmenship, so I'd expect them to be coaching this game with a strong desire to win. There's also a slew of exciting first-timers including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Gilbert Arenas on the East as well as Manu Ginobili and Amare Stoudemire on the West. Guys always go extremely hard in their 1st All-Star game and considering the immense talent that each of these guys has, I'd imagine that their impact on the game could be enormous. And with Shaq moving to the East, the balance of the two teams certainly becomes more even. The East can now match up better size-wise and has the guard play to be able to run along with the more fast-paced minded West team. Look for the East to win by 5 or so and Shaq to take MVP honors.