Are You Just Glad To See Me?

by A. J. Coltrane

Tonight is LeBron’s “homecoming” game in Cleveland.

Other NBA matchups (ESPN/StubHub prices):

MATCHUP TICKETS
Washington at Orlando 501 available from $12
Detroit at Minnesota 215 available from $19
New York at Cleveland 56 available from $701
Utah at Dallas 1,064 available from $13
Oklahoma City at LA Clippers 2,159 available from $27

Looks like Cleveland is glad alright.

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When is that last time you heard someone say that they were “glad”?

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I’m watching the 2nd quarter right now. LeBron lost weight in the offseason and looks like a bigger and younger version of Paul Pierce. He’s positively light on his feet. The rest of the NBA should be terrified.

 

A New Approach To The NBA Draft

by A.J. Coltrane

From this Grantland link.

The Sacramento Kings are crowdsourcing the NBA draft this year. They solicited input from all non-professional basketball analysts on the internet. They selected nine of those people to video conference with the Kings’ decision makers.

Four of those analysts are going to accompany the team to the draft.

It seems to me to be a *very* smart thing to do. I’ll be paying attention to the outcome.

For what it’s worth — I really like their Noah Vonleh option. I think he’s going to be a terrific player for a long time. I’m not sure that everyone agrees, though Chad Ford has him at #5 on his Big Board.

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Here’s a short ESPN piece that talks about what stats tend to translate from college to the NBA.

Fouling Out in the NBA

By Blaidd Drwg

The Lakers managed to invoke a little known NBA rule last week in their game with the Cavs. They came into the game with only 8 players dressed. Two of them got injured and one fouled out, leaving them with just 5 players for the 4th quarter. With 3:32 left, that is when it got really bizarre. From ESPN.com:

Sacre committed his sixth foul with 3:32 remaining but stayed in the game because D’Antoni was out of healthy bodies. The Lakers were assessed a technical foul.

“That was just crazy,” Sacre said. “When I got my sixth foul, I was just like, ‘Oh, dang!’ Then I got to come back in, so I thought it was something special. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Each side has to have five players on the court at all times during an NBA game. With the Lakers down to five healthy players, D’Antoni was informed by the officials that he could leave Sacre on the floor and any additional foul on the center would also result in a technical.

I really wonder what would have happened if someone else got hurt. Would they just leave the lifeless body lying on the floor? In case you were wondering, the Lakers ended up winning the game by 11.

http://player.espn.com/player.js?playerBrandingId=4ef8000cbaf34c1687a7d9a26fe0e89e&adSetCode=91cDU6NuXTGKz3OdjOxFdAgJVtQcKJnI&pcode=1kNG061cgaoolOncv54OAO1ceO-I&width=576&height=324&externalId=espn:10412601&thruParam_espn-ui%5BautoPlay%5D=false&thruParam_espn-ui%5BplayRelatedExternally%5D=true

The Zapruder Spurs

by A.J. Coltrane

1.  I used to own part of a Sonics season ticket package. At one time or another, I saw almost every great player of the last fifteen years play against the Sonics.

But never Shaquille O’Neal. Because Shaq almost never made the Portland/Seattle trip, usually citing a minor, probably ficticious, injury. It got to the point where I never requested the Lakers tickets. I’d go see LeBron instead, thanks.

 

2.  Last year the Spurs kept Tim Duncan and other stars out of a game in Miami, which prompted a $250,000 fine from the league:

Popvich’s decision to send Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and Danny Greene home instead of having them play for the second game of a back-to-back Nov. 19 in Miami created a stir around the league. It was the finale of a six-game road trip, finishing with four games in five days. The Spurs did not give the NBA or Miami prior notice of the players’ absences, which led the NBA to fine San Antonio $250,000.

The Spurs have done stuff like that pretty much forever, just not at that scale. Naturally, some nitwit lawyer who purchased tickets on the secondary market decided to sue, though the lawsuit eventually was dismissed.

 

3.  Curiously enough, the Spurs were scheduled to play a game in Mexico City on Wednesday. I’d say that was absolutely a case of NBA commissioner David Stern throwing his dick around. “Blow off a game in Miami? Great! Here’s one in Mexico!”  I think it’s fair to say that neither the Spurs nor the Minnesota Timberwolves were very exited about the prospect.

Both teams *and* David Stern flew down to Mexico, but an electrical fire filled the arena with smoke and caused the game to be rescheduled for a later date in Minnesota.

That leaves a couple of ridiculous conspiracy angles.

I.  The Spurs were somehow responsible for the fire:

No game in Mexico. The game was intended to further globalize NBA basketball, and a lot of that good press went to waste. Stern would be pissed about that. Plus, he wasted a plane flight down there and a day or two of his own time! All of that  negotiation and preparation down the tubes! Nobody tells the Spurs what to do!

II.  David Stern was somehow responsible for the fire:

David Stern makes the Spurs fly down to Mexico, then fly back having accomplished nothing. The game will be shoehorned later into the season when the Spurs will need the rest even more. David Stern always gets the last laugh!

And now, here’s the 2nd most famous Zapruder film of all time:

 

Communication Breakdown

by A.J. Coltrane

It’s early in the morning. The local supermarket is mostly empty. I’m standing in line behind a late middle-aged guy, waiting to check out.

As it turns out, the checkout Cashier has the same very unusual name as the Customer’s son. The Customer gets out his phone to show the Cashier a picture of his son with another guy in his late 40’s – early 50’s:

Customer:  That’s my boy, do you know who the other guy is?

Cashier:  No. (I’m peering over there, but it’s a little too far to see.)

Customer:  That’s Wayne Gretzky. My son played pickup hockey with him in Coeur d’Alene. My son’s a goal keeper.

Cashier:  That’s cool. Alright, have a  good one!

(Customer leaves.)

Me:  I used to play with a guy who would always brag about playing pickup basketball with Michael Cooper.

Cashier:  Who’s Michael Cooper?

Me:  Cooper played shooting guard for the Showtime-80’s-era-Lakers with Magic and Kareem? No? He was a long lanky black guy who would shoot 3’s and guard the other team’s best perimeter player.

Cashier:  Never heard of him. Did you know that Drew Brees is from Eastern Washington?

Me:  I didn’t know that. You may be thinking of Drew Bledsoe. I know he’s from over there.

Cashier:  It’s Brees. He’s in Walla Walla. He has a winery and everything.

Me:  …. Huh….   Have a good one!

Cashier:  You too. Have a good day!

——

This exchange took place not even twenty minutes ago.

I can now spell Coeur d’Alene

The Thunder Conundrum

by A.J. Coltrane

First James Harden wouldn’t take a steep discount to stay in OKC. So OKC downgraded to Kevin Martin. Now Martin has decided not to stay at a discounted rate either, opting to sign with Minnesota(!) instead. As a Plan “C” the Thunder then pursued free agent and super long wing guy Dorrell Wright, but he signed with Portland for 2 years and $6 million, total. Now, they’re basically out of answers.

OKC can’t, or won’t, make room under the salary cap for a 20-minute per game decent rotation player in Wright. The Thunder could amnesty (waive) Kendrick Perkins’ ~$9 million in an attempt to create cap space for guys like Martin and Wright — but they won’t because they’d still have to pay Perkins *not* to play for them, and the ownership group has made it clear that they’re not going to shell out funds beyond the standard salary cap. They’re stuck with Perkins two more years.

The upshot is that the Thunder are going to have to rely on 21 year-old Jeremy Lamb to play some important playoff minutes. Lamb played mostly in the D-League last year, and he only saw 147 minutes of action at the NBA level. Is he ready to contribute to a championship contender? The word is, he’s looked good in the D-League, but I’d say being a key cog for OKC is likely a stretch.

The interesting part of this to me is that nobody has been willing to sign with OKC for a discount, even though they’re a championship contender. LA? Sure. Houston? Ok. Miami? You bet! Usually championship contention will buy you veterans looking for a ring at a cheap price. Not in this case. There’s not much help coming from the roster, either. Many fringe championship teams will draft experienced college guys who can contribute right away. See:  Spurs – DeJaun Blair, and, Celtics – Big Baby Davis. The Thunder have chosen to go with high upside raw prospects (Perry Jones III, D-Leager/benchwarmer). Their guys are not currently functional rotation players.

Remember all the articles that talked about how the Thunder players were a tight-knit group, and that they’d hang out together and watch movies and such. You know why they did that? I’m betting it’s not because they really dug each other’s company. It’s because there’s nothing else to do in OKC! It’s movie night every night! And again. And again! I wonder if Durant’s new wife is into movie night, or if they’re going to start doing “couples stuff” instead. Maybe she’ll finally be the one to “break up the band”, if it hasn’t already broken up.

And This:  Durant now has Jay-Z as an agent. Jay-Z also owns part of the Nets. Is there any chance that Jay-Z is trying to sell Durant on Brooklyn? I think Durant’s wife would prefer Brooklyn. I think any potential “I want to try to win a ring” veterans would prefer Brooklyn. I think the ridiculously weathly owner in Brooklyn will spend around the edges for those types of spare parts. Brooklyn has Garnett and Pierce, but they’ll be retiring, and taking their salaries with them at about the time that Durant comes onto the market. Durant would instantly become A Legend in Brooklyn.

I have no idea how irritated I’d be right now if this franchise was still here.

Actually, I do. I’d be livid.

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A couple of not unrelated posts.

Chris Bosh, Rocket Scientist

By Blaidd Drwg

With the Heat facing elimination at the hands of the Spurs, Miami is changing its game-plan to try to stop Danny Green and his 66% shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Bosh’s comments:

“He has a knack for shooting, but he won’t be open tonight,” Bosh said Tuesday. “We’ll see how he shoots with somebody always on him.”

Congratulations, Chris Bosh, it took you and your coaches 5 games of getting lit up to finally figure out what a casual basketball fan could tell you – if you let a guy who regularly shoots 43% from long distance have open shots, he is going to kill you.

Shane Battier was much more articulate in his comments:

Most of [Green’s] shots come off of defensive breakdowns on our part. So it just goes into our overall game plan of playing with a sharper, clearer mind and just doing our job.

“He’s done a good job of watching our guys who are ball-hawks. We have a tendency to do that. He just goes to the open space. He utilizes the oldest trick in the book: the old blind spot.”

So the Heat’s plan is to not collapse on Tony Parker to try to cover Green. I just don’t see this ending well for the Heat.

The New NBA CBA

by A.J. Coltrane

Zack Lowe of Grantland/ESPN on the impact on the trade deadline of the new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement.

I don’t think he has a high opinion of Dwight Howard:

People seem to forget this, but we also had three massive deals between August and late January, two of which — for Rudy Gay and James Harden, respectively — were motivated at least in part by the new CBA. (The third was the Dwight Howard deal, motivated by candy and whatever else motivates Howard’s “camp.”)