NBA REVIEW – WEEK 18

CHUCK’S CHALK TALK

It was a week that began with Kobe Bryant hoisting his record-tying fourth All-Star Game MVP Trophy in front of a hometown crowd and ended with a player-revolt by half the Pistons team led by former All-Star Rip Hamilton. In between, the Celtics surprised everyone by trading center Kendrick Perkins to OKC (more on this later), a top-three point guard, Deron Williams, was stunningly traded by the Jazz to the Nets just a little more than a week after long-time head coach Jerry Sloan stunned the league by stepping down after 23 seasons leading the team, the Grizzlies reacquired forward Shane Battier in what many believe is a boost to their playoff hopes, an owner – Mark Cuban – and a head coach – Phil Jackson – questioned the league-owned Hornets’ taking on salary after dumping it earlier in the season, the Blazers got power forward Gerald Wallace for the Charlotte Jordans, the Clippers sent perpetually disgruntled and injured guard Baron Davis to a team stuck in the Third World Division of the league (Cleveland) to play for a coach (Byron Scott) that he previously butted heads with in New Orleans for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon who, in a rare instance in league history, actually improved their lot in life by becoming Clippers (try wrapping your brain around that), Magic center Dwight Howard lamented what the team had become since their trades earlier in the season and tried to quash rumors that he’s a future Laker, Knick or some other unnamed team member, Heat forward Chris Bosh flopped so egregiously in a game against the Bulls that soccer players around the world shook their collective heads in disgust, and both the Lakers and Spurs stood pat as the stretch run to the seemingly interminable play-offs began.

Oh yeah, and Mr LaLa Vasquez, who you probably know by his government name of Carmelo Anthony, finally got his wish and forced a trade from the Nuggets to the Knicks who in his second game with the team, celebrated by losing to the lowly Cavaliers (yes I know using the word lowly in the same sentence with Cavaliers is redundant). Anthony, soon to star in his wife’s reality show, “LaLa Leads Carmelo By The Nose To New York City” (okay, I made that up but admit it, you didn’t even blink when you read those words), promptly hurt his right elbow which allowed him to wear yet another protective sleeve on his heavily tattooed body.

If I had told you at the start of the season that we’d be looking back at The Decision as “dignified and low-key”, you’d thought I’d lost my mind. But that’s exactly what Carmelo Anthony’s “I’m Going To Hold My Breath and Turn Knicks Blue until You Trade Me” saga has done for LeBron James’ way of handling his departure from C-Town last summer.

IT’S NOT LAST WEEK’S NBA

Don’t throw that Garden party just yet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dolan: “Do you wear that stupid headband everywhere?” Anthony: “La La likes it and whatever La La wants, La La gets.” Dolan: “But it makes you look, dorky.” Anthony: “You know that, I know that, the whole world except La La knows that so, I have to wear it.”

Star-studded Knicks-Heat duel featuring Melo, Amar’e, LeBron and Wade is CAA dream

Inside the NBA: Coast to coast  

Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony lead NBA’s power shift from West to East

Clippers FYI: Mo Williams, Jamario Moon glad to be in L.A.  

New Knick Carmelo Anthony’s wife, La La Vazquez, is ready to take NYC by storm  

No joke! Pistons coach loses control of players  

Jefferson: Nets better with Williams  

TNT analyst Charles Barkley says Kendrick Perkins trade good for Boston  

Genius Loves Company in N.B.A. Balance of Power  

Knicks-Heat has gravity again  

Knicks-Heat: Looking ahead at the Knicks-Heat matchup Sunday  

THEY SAID IT

Deron Williams, on his New Jersey debut: “I was messing with the guys. I brought ’em in the huddle and said, ‘Go Jazz.’ ”

Believe it

New York’s Carmelo Anthony on Twitter after Denver Coach George Karl said Anthony’s oft-criticized defense and effort level frustrated the Nuggets: “Damn, are u serious. Some people never seize (probably missed a day or two in English during his one year at Syracuse) to amaze me. Unbelievable.” “WHEN THE GRASS IS CUT THE SNAKES WILL SHOW.”

See ya

Bill Duffy, Steve Nash’s agent, to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein: “Logic dictates that it would be prudent for the Suns to start looking at their long-term future in the summer, so we would expect that they may entertain moving him during the summer…We anticipate a very respectful process if they decide to look at starting over with a younger core.”

Broken nucleus blues

Boston’s Ray Allen, joining teammates stunned by the trade of Kendrick Perkins, before the Celtics’ loss in Denver: “In my mind, he’ll always be a Celtic. He’s been here for eight years. I felt truly bad. That’s probably one of the toughest pills I’ve had to swallow of any player I’ve seen traded because he was a part of what he was doing here. So we have to change that around and incorporate these new guys we got.” 

Big Pimping

Carmelo Anthony’s wife, La La Vasquez wants to break into acting – she’s already lining up auditions – and she’s not beneath using her husband to do so: “Believe me, I’m schmoozing every casting director I see. I’m like, ‘Oh you like the Knicks? You want tickets?’ ”

COMMENTARY

Say what you will about Carmelo Anthony’s ranking among the game’s best players: some say he’s Top-5 while others deplore his lack of rebounding, passing and rebounding skills, but his forced-march move to the Knicks last week, will leave an indelible mark on the NBA for years to come.

Make no mistake about it: David Stern runs the NBA. Technically, he works for the owners but, considering he’s been involved with the league as either outside or league attorney and commissioner long enough to have worked on the landmark “Oscar Robinson Lawsuit” Robertson v. National Basketball Association which brought free agency to the league when it was settled in 1976, there’s no doubt about who really runs things. Look, I know Billy Hunter, the executive director of the NBA Players Association. He’s a nice man and a very well-respected attorney. But, he works for a bunch of young men who, over 80% of never finished college, some who didn’t even go to college (and to be frank about it, most of those who did probably had no idea there was an actual campus beyond the basketball arena and training facilities), and who, despite earning millions upon millions of dollars during their NBA careers, most of whom will be broke within hours of their last game. Contrast that to the billionaire (mostly) businessmen that Stern ostensibly reports to and guess who’s going to win the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) talks.

Billy Hunter and the players can bitch and moan all they want but if the people who sign the checks and take all the economic risk say the current economic system doesn’t work for them, then it doesn’t work for them and they’re not going to play another game after the last one in this year’s Finals until they get the one they want. And what will that look like you ask? Well, lucky for you, I have a few ideas:

1)      A lower and harder salary cap with an even more punishing luxury tax – think $1.25 – 1.50 for every $1.00 over the cap, max salaries somewhere between $12-15 million per season.

2)      Maximum contract length – 4 years, maybe 5 for top-level free agents.

3)      No more player options thus eliminating “Opt-Out Clauses” (to be known among the owners as the “Your Ass Belongs To Me” clause)

4)      The “Don’t Even Think About Asking For A Trade”/The “If You Even Think Aloud About Playing For Another Team While Under Contract I Will have You Shot In the Leg” Clauses and the one thing that’s going to change the NBA forever…

5)      The Franchise Player Tag (a tip of the hat to the NFL)

Think I’m crazy? Let’s go back to 1998-99 when Stern and a significantly different set of owners shut down the league until the players, led by a much stronger set of agents including the then powerful David Falk, gave in so they could have a 50-game season. That was nothing compared to the scorched earth strategy Herr Commissioner and his very faithful (except for Cuban and Al Davis Jr aka Donald T. Sterling) employers are about to unleash on the blissfully ignorant players. We’re talking about a full 2011-12 season being lost if necessary and guess what? Stern and the owners have already decided that it is necessary to get what they want and unless and until Billy Hunter and the players association recognize, understand and accept that, the last game of the Finals in June will be the last NBA games for a while. That’s what I see happening and nothing is going to change my mind.

RANKINGS, WE’VE GOT RANKINGS! (my comments in italics)

Inside the NBA: The Los Angeles Times’ rankings

San Antonio holds on to the No. 1 spot.

By Mark Heisler

February 26, 2011, 9:19 p.m.

RANKINGS, COMMENTS THROUGH SATURDAY

WHO HAD SPURS-BULLS FINALS?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Antonio’s Tony Parker (right), drives on New Jersey’s Deron Williams.

1. SAN ANTONIO (48-10) As Pop says, haven’t dominated opponents — but on pace to beat 68. (1) Slow and steady, that’s the San Antonio way.

2. CHICAGO (40-17) Presumably with a shooting guard, they’d be on 72-win pace. (5) You mean like Ben Gordon who they let get away?

3. MIAMI (43-16) Oops: Just learned East has another contender bigger than they are. (2) Two places where size matters: the NBA and in bed.

4. DALLAS (42-16) Team Lakers catch or play on road in second round goes 15-1. (4) My money says the Lakers play on the road.

5. BOSTON (42-15) Personally, I’d say this isn’t time to start thinking about future. (3) Is this the week the NBA sees the return of the “King of Technicals”, Rasheed Wallace?

TOO YOUNG, OLD OR WHATEVER

6. LAKERS (41-19) In good news, they feel better about themselves. In bad news, why? (7) Wake us when Matt Barnes is back.

7. ORLANDO (37-22) Happily, it’s not 2012: Came out of break with home loss to Kings. (9) “Ladies and gentlemen, please show your love for future (insert team name here) Dwight Howard!”

8. OKLAHOMA CITY (36-21) Showing why Thunder got Perkins, Howard gets 40 vs. Collison, et al. (6) I’ve been saying for weeks now that “If the Thunder can only get a legit big man…” and now that day has come. If his knee holds up.

9. ATLANTA (35-23) Long search for point after passing up Paul, Williams brings Hinrich. (8) Sort of like Neil Patrick Harris in “Undercover Brother”.

10. NEW ORLEANS (35-25) Cuban, Jackson aghast as NBA’s Team takes Landry’s $3-mil salary. (10) Aghast? Talk about going to the “WayyyyBack Machine”.

11. MEMPHIS (33-27) Best “little” move adds NBA’s most underrated glue guy, Battier. (11) My sister Janice LOVES Shane Battier, so he’s got at least one fan in Memphis.

12. PORTLAND (33-25) MJ can’t afford Gerald Wallace’s $9.5 million but Paul Allen can. (13) Paul Allen can buy Michael Jordan out of his coin purse.

YOU STILL HERE — HE’S GONE?

13. DENVER (34-26) Why didn’t we do this sooner? Nuggets 2-1 since Whatshisname left. (14) Man, I can’t wait to see how the crowd reacts the first time Mr La La returns to town.

14. NEW YORK (29-27) Anthony’s honeymoon lasts one night — which is a long time there. (16) Read my lips: This isn’t a championship team.

15. PHILADELPHIA (29-29) Kapono, sharpshooter who can’t find a home, being bought out. (15) So that’s where he’s been. As God as my witness, I had no idea he was still in the league.

16. PHOENIX (29-27) Oops: Nash’s agent says Sarver’s lone untouchable wants out. (12) Now?

17. HOUSTON (29-31) Rolling dice on Thabeet, who looked lost/never had shot in Memphis. (19) Look, if your name is “Thabeet”…

18. UTAH (32-28) Jazz wins Harris’ debut . . . so it’s 1-5 since Sloan left. (17) Larry Miller probably glad he’s dead.

19. INDIANA (26-31) Dunleavy Jr., prize under-the-radar free agent, breaks thumb. (18) I would LOVE to hear phone conversations between Larry Bird and Joe Dumars.

20. CHARLOTTE (26-32) No way to run a contender: Wallace leaves in mid-playoff race. (22) And Jordan will be in Vegas, March 31- April 3, hosting his golf tournament.

21. GOLDEN STATE (26-31) In Ellis’ shadow, Curry averages 18, shooting 48%, 41% and 93%. (20) Just auditioning for his next contract/team.

GLUB, GLUB, GLUB

22. MILWAUKEE (22-36) Rehab R Us: Redd practices, hoping to return after year off. (24) I thought he had retired.

23. CLIPPERS (21-39) No one misses Baron, but they need a lot more than one piece. (23) Be patient. It’s only been five years since team’s last playoff appearance.

24. WASHINGTON (15-43) Real deal, if belatedly: Wall averages 22, 9.0 assists over six. (26) To be fair, he had to adjust to not having to pretend to go to classes during season.

25. NEW JERSEY (17-42) Line for D-Will forms on right: 0-2 with him, Lopez and . . . who? (25) Oh yeah, like he’s going to stay in Jersey/Brooklyn when he can replace J-Kidd in his hometown of Dallas after next season (whenever that might actually be).

26. SACRAMENTO (14-43) If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s not a duck yet. (28) Have the Maloof Brothers fallen completely off the NBA-map?

27. MINNESOTA (13-46) If Love was the test, Rambis better try meditation with Randolph. (27) The NBA’s Gulag.

28. TORONTO (16-43) Triano’s a great guy, a Canadian and lockout looms. Otherwise, gonzo. (29) Who?

29. CLEVELAND (11-47) May be the first time coach and point guard fight a duel. (30) And my money’s  on Byron “IngleWOOD!” Scott.

DESERVE A NICHE ALL THEIR OWN

30. DETROIT (22-39) Kuester lets rebels Daye, Stuckey play as (surprise!) they beat Jazz. (21) A sad, sad ending to the Pistons careers of Dumars, Hamilton and Prince.

JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT!

                        Actresses Keke Palmer and Erica Hubbard

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