Saturday, July 22, 2006

Didn't See That One Coming.

Shawn Kemp busted for marijuana possession? Because he was driving around with a little bit burning in a car with no license plates? That doesn't sound like the Shawn Kemp I know.

So much for the comeback. Then again, forget basketball. Let's find a way to get him in next year's Nathan's hot dog eating contest. He'll break Kobayashi's record, then eat Kobayashi.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Sonic Doom

So let me see if I have this right: The Seattle Supersonics, holders of (according to none other than Commissioner David Stern) the worst arena lease agreement in the League, were recently sold to a group led by an Oklahoma City businessman. The Sonics's previous owner, Howard Schultz—who turned a little coffee shop named Starbucks into a multi-zillion dollar worldwide juggernaut—was having trouble making things work in Seattle. And Oklahoma City showed their NBA readiness by welcoming the hurricane-displaced Hornets with open arms and wallets. About the only thing that seems certain now is that Oklahoma City will be getting an NBA franchise in the near future.

The question now, of course, is which one?

The Hornets would seem to have the edge. After all, they've already settled into the area (Chris Paul surely considers Oklahoma City home, not New Orleans), and the most logical thing to do would be to simply let them stay. New Orleans is still a disaster area, and expecting that fragile economy (and landscape) to support something as expensive—and frivolous—as an NBA team seems silly.

Then again, abandoning New Orleans wouldn't do any wonders for the NBA's reputation. Players should never lose their starting jobs to injury, and cities shouldn't lose their franchises due to natural disasters. The proper thing to do would be to allow the Hornets to play in OKC again next season, with the expectation of their returning to New Orleans full-time for the '07-08 season. If that appears to be unworkable, then other plans could be made.

But will the Sonics slip into OKC instead? That is, to paraphrase Biggie, what has Sonics fans's hearts pounding like Sasquatch feet. (I'm sure they'll miss the Storm too, but—well, no, they probably won't.) If that lease agreement doesn't get settled soon, you can count on the Sonics leaving the Pacific Northwest no matter what. If not OKC, maybe Nashville or hey, why not New Jersey when the Nets move to Brooklyn?

Of course, I have a better idea—a King Solomon sort of solution. Let the Hornets and Sonics BOTH move to Oklahoma City. Not as separate teams, because that would be ridiculous. But merge them (and compensate the owners for half each, or buy one out). Neither team made the playoffs last year, but maybe the Oklahoma City SuperHornets could. Chris Paul at the point, Ray Allen at the two, David West at the three, Rashard Lewis at the four and Tyson Chandler at the five? Kick all those young Sonics centers to the D-league for seasoning, send the Hornets's Euros back to Europe, and let the coaching staffs duke it out for superiority. And to make the East and West even, just fold the Raptors, or sell them as an entity to FIBA. Later on you could always expand back to Seattle and New Orleans if it's feasible (and return New Orleans to the East where they should be anyway).

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Big Ben and the Bulls reloaded.

Funny I didn't think of this when I made the initial post. I was trying to think of the last time a mainstay player from a championship team signed with a division rival, and nothing was coming to mind. After all, it doesn't happen very often—imagine if Kevin McHale had signed with the Sixers, or if Kobe Bryant signed with the Clippers (which almost happened, but that's besides the point).

Then it hit me, the most obvious comparison of all: Dennis Rodman, who I even mentioned. Lockdown defender and voracious rebounder on Pistons championship teams, he (eventually) signs with the Bulls and accumulates a few more rings. It obviously would have been a lot more similar had he gone to the Bulls in '91, when the wounds were still fresh (and he was less crazy), but I couldn't come up with anything closer. Anyone?


Not really. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention. Yes, you.

I actually wonder which team would refuse that trade? (Assuming that the salaries would work—and I'm sure they could be made to with some throw-ins either way.) In Iverson, the Knicks would be getting yet another undersized two who'd expect to start (obviously either Francis or Marbury would have to go next, preferably for a big like Jamal Magloire). But he's exactly the kind of player that New York fans are starving for, and his jersey would sell in RIDICULOUS numbers.

In Crawford, the Sixers would get a talented, young replacement for AI (at a reduced price) who showed flashes of brilliance last year. Unlike some of his teammates, Crawford accepted Larry Brown's criticisms, and became a better player for it. And Curry, while still questionable in conditioning and desire, is one of the few young bigs who can score productively in the post. He might never learn to rebound or defend, but he's still somewhat of a rare commodity in today's NBA.

Not that it's going to happen—or even be discussed.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Big Ben and the Bulls.

So big, bad Ben Wallace is a Bull. And I'm torn.

Good: Ben Wallace is a championship-tested veteran who can lead.

Bad: Ben Wallace makes Shaquille O'Neal look like Rick Barry from the line.

Good: Ben Wallace is a defensive and rebounding machine who fits perfectly into Scott Skiles's system.

Bad: Ben Wallace is a one-way player who couldn't score in a roomful of drunken hookers on X.

Good: Ben Wallace is a premier free agent—the first to sign with the Bulls since, well, I don't even remember who.

Bad: Ben Wallace is a 32-year-old who will make $60 million over the next four seasons.

So yeah, I don't know. I like Big Ben, fear the 'fro as much as anyone. But don't the Bulls need scoring? And don't you reserve that sort of money for people who can play at both ends of the floor? Also, it's not going to be much fun if the Bulls win 55 games next season while averaging 75 points a game.

Still, I'll take it. It's not like they were going to land Allen Iverson or Kevin Garnett, and Tyrus Thomas probably won't be ready right away. Factor in the double whammy of taking the defensive linchpin (and symbolic hairstyle) from the best team in their own division, and it seems like a win-win.

Yes, there's the money. Four years, $60 million. A lot to pay for a slightly more sane version of Dennis Rodman (watch the tape of the Artest melee again and remember how much of a role Big Ben played), someone who can't shoot his way out of a wet paper bag. Then again, with Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler gone, the cash is there. May as well use it. I'd rather see the cash go to a proven commodity—and as much as I like Al Harrington, Wallace was the best choice. His championship pedigree being the deciding factor.

It would be nice if J.R. Smith works out too—but if he doesn't, at least he comes off the books. It's hard to believe that Tyson Chandler is going to develop into much more than he is now, and if he doesn't, the Hornets will be looking to unload his contract soon enough. Peja Stojakovic's too, most likely.

Other things from this summer:

• It's nice that the Knicks are all happy and lovey-dovey with Coach Isiah, but let's see what's happening around New Year's.

• J.R. Rider arrested for felony cocaine possession? Never woulda guessed.

• Kirk Hinrich in, J.J. Redick out. Team USA just got a lot more likeable. And, well, better.

• A lot of people saw the T.J. Ford for Charlie Villanueva deal as a decided win for the Bucks. I'm not so sure.

• Kevin Garnett isn't going anywhere—unless the Wolves are out of it around the trade deadline, in which case he's gone for sure.

• I still have trouble believing that Allen Iverson will get traded to the Celtics. The CELTICS? Who were the Sixers archrival for decades, who play in their own DIVISION? Besides the fact that he'd drop 50-plus on his old squad four times a year, I don't think they want to see him in the playoffs. Um, assuming either team gets back there anytime soon.

Denver makes a lot more sense—as does any other Western team—but does Philly really have interest in Marcus Camby or Kenyon Martin? Put one of those guys alongside Chris Webber and you've got an orthopedist's dream come true. And one hell of an expensive frontcourt.

• If Amare Stoudemire is 100 percent next year (or even 85 percent), the Suns are my pick to win it all.

• I can't take credit for this one (thanks, Jeff Pearlman), but if you're the Nets, wouldn't you make an offer to Keith Van Horn? Frontcourt scoring, three-point range, and he'd probably take a hell of a pay cut to play with Jason Kidd.

• WNBA All-Star game tonight! Uh, yeah.