Finishing My Coffee

Bulls v. Celtics

Noah celebrates after his amazing steal and dunk (and 1), forcing Game 7.

Noah celebrates after his amazing steal and dunk (and 1), forcing Game 7.

What a first round series -- almost every game has been excellent!

I love when the better team wins, rather than when one team underperforms and throws the game away. As Charles Barkley keeps saying, everyone has been fantastic.

I do find it odd, though, that little has been made of the divergent paths that allowed the teams to be dead even at this point. Boston lost KG, knocking them down into "beatable" range. Meanwhile, the Bulls lost star small forward Luol Deng for the year, almost killing Chicago's playoff chances. The Kings, however, bailed the Bulls out by taking on expiring contracts (aka a bag o' chips) in exchange for Miller and Salmons. Luckily for Chicago, the Kings are owned by the Maloof brothers, who are heavily invested in Vegas. As Vegas is hemorrhaging money right now, the brothers Maloof needed to dump salary (despite Sacramento fans' consistent dedication, leading to sellouts even in years like this one, when the team stinks). It's the equivalent of the Lakers getting Gasol last year, in exchange for the rights for to Gasol's little brother (aka another bag o' chips).

Christine's exact words, at the time of Tony Allen's foul on Ben Gordon in Game 5 (I think): "What the hell is he doing? That guy is f*****g up my s**t!" She does love her some playoff basketball. KG would be proud of her spontaneous Tourette's.

The Sports Guy wrote a nice column on Game 6 (and the whole series) today. Unfortunately for us, C and I planned an early Mother's Day dinner with her parents... for tomorrow night, at tip-off. Doh!


Burris' Shot Tossed Into The 12th Row

Burris and Kramer. Two men burned by their own desire.

Burris and Kramer. Two men burned by their own desire.

An old high school friend (and fellow political junkie) posted on Facebook that he "couldn't believe the Senate really gave Roland Burris the Heisman (stiff arm, not the trophy)."

Senate officials this morning rejected Roland Burris's effort to be seated as the successor to President-elect Barack Obama, telling the former Illinois attorney general that he lacked the requisite approval of state officials to be sworn in with the rest of the class of 2008 in today's launch of the 111th Congress.


Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and a bipartisan group of leaders have rejected Burris's appointment on the grounds that the criminal charges against Blagojevich, including one that he tried to sell the appointment in exchange for financial gain, make it impossible for him to pick a successor to Obama without tarnishing the decision.

The impression I got was that the party said -- in no uncertain terms -- that all Democrats were to cut the governor loose. We're talking a giant, neon Seinfeld-esque Kenny Rogers Roasters sign screaming STAY AWAY.

Still, Burris wanted the job, so took the shot while it was there... and got completely rejected. Swatted. Roofed. Denied.

That's what happens when you don't work within the team offense -- the boss says you're not professional enough for the big leagues, benches you, and tries to trade you (see Randolph, Anthony).


Please Trade Maggette

Maggette driving into a triple team instead of passing the rock.

Maggette driving into a triple team instead of passing the rock.

My home town Golden State Warriors are a mess. After an offseason in which their star point guard bounced for LA, the team wisely re-upped the heart of the squad, Steven Jackson. They'd already locked up their young center and guard, Biedrins and Ellis, to be the team's foundation of the future, and had some money to spare.

So what next? They overpaid a bit for a Big with energy in Turiaf, (Turiaf returned from major heart surgery in less time than it takes other players to return from ankle sprains ), but a Big that plays with effort is generally worth the investment. All's well so far. But then the big misstep -- the Warriors locked in Corey Maggette for too much money($50 million), and for too long (5 years).


True Hoop + Bread City + Simmons + SLAM = Basketball

Danny Granger, all heart.

Danny Granger, all heart.

One of my least favorite aspects of the NBA is that it's nearly impossible to follow if you don't get cable.* Before Christmas, when the NBA on ABC kicks off, the only way to see a game is to tune in to Telemundo for the Saturday game. Even the local games are on Fox Sports, so it's the radio or nothing. Here in San Francisco, we have a great pair of commentators for the Warriors, but I'm sure that fans of other teams aren't so lucky. Thank goodness (or Al Gore?) for the Internet.

(1) SLAM Online. I've been reading SLAM for over a decade. Back when most writing on sports was in print, SLAM was a breath of fresh air and hoops reason amid noxious clouds of reporting aimed at the corporate, luxury box patrons filling the coffers of the NBA. Lang Whittaker kept up the great work with The Links, where he continues to publish daily articles on the NBA.

(2) True Hoop. Henry Abbot's True Hoop is the definitive source for insightful writing about the NBA. The stories you can find here will be better than anything you can find anywhere else.

(3) The Sports Guy. Bill Simmons is one of the last, great, true NBA fans left. Sure, he's heavily biased towards his home town Celtics, but he loves the game more than even his team. A gutsy owner would hire Simmons to be his GM, or at least to be involved in personnel decisions. He knows the game and would work cheap. I know his fans would be irate if he stopped writing, but I'm still going to say it: hire the man!

(4) Bread City. I only started reading this blog today (thank you Waxin' & Milkin'), but I already love what I've seen. For example, check this post: about the above photo:

It was a hell of a hustle play. He pressured Pierce, got a deflection and dove face first to get the ball. I went to congratulate him and he smiled at me and I saw what happened. It’s ironic that’s a play made by a guy who just signed a long term deal and wants to help us get back in the playoffs.

- Coach Jim O’Brien on Danny Granger shattering his two front teeth against the Celtics, 11/1/08.

(5) NBA Off-Season 2009: Chronicling The Waiting Period Before The Next Season Begins. Another great recommendation from Waxin' & Milkin', this blog has the news you need plus the gossip and humor you want. Dominant.

All excellent. For more, see the following:

*Yes, I know. I'm in the bottom 15% and live in the stone ages.


More On Contracts And The NBA

Theo Ratliff's Expiring Contract

Theo Ratliff's Expiring Contract

Lang Whitaker chimed in on the ridiculous rules regarding trades and the salary cap:

What’s more interesting to me is the concept of teams trading valuable pieces for nothing. It has to do with the salary cap and is all really confusing, but there are ways for teams under the cap to deal with other teams and not have to match the salaries. It sucks if your team is the one trying to get under the cap, but these things happen. Money doesn’t grow on trees, or in NBA arenas.

But what’s really strange is that the complex NBA trading rules are, in a way, set up to protect fans and not allow teams to basically just give players away. Unless your team hasn’t spent enough money to be over the cap, in which case they can do anything they want. Which doesn’t seem quite right.

According to Camby’s agent in the Rocky Mountain News, the Nets were also interested in trading for the Camby Man. One big problem, however…

“Kiki really wanted Marcus,'’ said Camby’s agent, Rick Kaplan, referring to New Jersey general manager Kiki Vandeweghe, the general manager in Denver when the Nuggets traded for Camby in June 2002. “But he didn’t have enough of nothing to give.'’

So, at least in NBA terms, nothing either actually equals nothing or it could also be something substantial.

My friend Tim, a Boston native and die hard Celtics fan, says:

As a Celtics fan, I'm here to say that last year our most prized player after PP and the occasional Gerald Green backboard-rattler (dunk, not J) was Theo Ratliff's Expiring Contract.

  1. Yup, that's the NBA.
  2. Things can turn around mighty quick.

That said, the Nuggets couldn't get A LOT more for Camby???  3.8 blocks per game!...UMass grad!!!

Indeed. Apparently Camby's less than thrilled with this move, too. From the Rocky Mountain News, via rotoworld:

Marcus Camby is not happy with the Nuggets for trading him to the Clippers.

We use the word "trading" loosely, as Denver got nothing in return for the talented big man. "Blindsided, distraught, disrespected. All those adjectives," Camby said. "I felt like I was the scapegoat for all the first-round exits (five since 2004). Definitely frustrated because I felt that I gave it my all." Camby will probably happily report to L.A. and then set his sights on making the Nuggets pay for shipping him out of town.
Where's the loyalty to city or players or employees? What happened to trying to put out a successful product? A guy plays his heart out, says he wants to stay and win a championship for the city, and all of a sudden boom! Gone. Here's why he was shipped out. His was the biggest contract that the team could unload. Melo and AI both make more, but they bring in fans. Kenyon also makes more, but no one will take his crazy contract. So they dumped Camby, the next guy on the list. Simple. Management messed up over the last couple of years, so ownership said to cut costs, success of the business be damned. Bad business, and bad for Camby.
[Update] Yahoo's Kelly Dwyer completely disagrees with my assessment of Camby. I still say he's a great fit for the Clips, and is quite the bargain at the price they're paying.

The NBA Is Broken

Camby Dunks on the Kings

What a mess.

Forget the reffing scandal, or The Brawl, or Seattle losing the Sonics, or any of the other craziness that happens with the NBA. The number one reason why the NBA is broken is because stuff like this can happen. Twice.

First the Lakers traded a decent prospect, a tall guy who was broken by Michael Jordan and more valuable for his expiring contract than for his ability on the court (plus some scraps) for one of the best power forwards in the league. The Lakers/Memphis trade was so bad that not even Kobe could defend it.

And now this. The second trade in less than a full season that would have been vetoed in any decent fantasy basketball league. Here's what ESPN has to say:

The Clippers on Tuesday night swung a trade to import Denver Nuggets center Marcus Camby as their Brand replacement for the miniscule cost of giving Denver the option to swap second-round picks in 2010, capitalizing on the Nuggets' need to shed salary to create their own financial flexibility.

So the Nuggets got almost nothing back. Actually, that's not right. The Nuggets got absolutely nothing back. Zilch. Nada. Zero.

In 2007-08, Camby was the NBA's #2 rebounder, and he led the league in blocks, by almost a full block per game. Here are Camby's average stats for last year:


13.1 1.06 3.61 3.3 9.1

In exchange for Camby, one of the Nuggets' best players, the Clippers will give the Nuggets the option to switch future second round draft picks. They didn't get an extra pick next year. They didn't get a first round pick. They didn't get a second round pick. The Nuggets only got the option to switch second round picks. That's it.

There must be more to it, right? Well, the real benefit for the Nuggets is that they got to remove Camby's salary from their books. Granted, getting rid of an awful, bloated contract can be a big deal. But not in this case. Camby's contract is reasonable. He'll only make about $15m over the next two years.  A bargain basement price, by NBA standards, for a skilled, defensive-minded seven footer.

Camby (full career stats), when healthy, is one of the best defensive big men in the NBA. He was the the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year in 2006-07, can run, will do the dirty work in the post, and once even dragged the eighth seeded Knicks deep into the playoffs. His PER last year ranks Camby as the 13th best center in the league, one spot better than Shaq. Analysis by shows that Camby was the second best all-around player on the Nuggets last year, behind Carmelo but better than AI. And the Clippers got him for nothing.

I feel bad for Nuggets fans. They must be furious. And all non-LA fans should be upset, too. Teams don't put winning first anymore. Profit is job one, and fans are just suckers, to be fleeced or ignored. This isn't really news, but now it's just so transparent, so brazen, so insulting. League executives and owners with the power to push for change should act to stop these lopsided trades. They're bad for the league, and they're bad for the game.

Meanwhile, my home town Warriors have done nothing with their $10m trade exception (which can be exchanged for a salary player of the same value). Worse, the Oakland Warriors also went out and spent the same money that Camby will make to bring in the underwhelming gunner Corey Maggette.

Camby would have been perfect for the Warriors' up-tempo style. He runs. He passes. He rebounds, blocks shots, plays defense. He knows how to play. Instead, the Warriors will continue to lose to any team with a decent big man, and Maggette will shoot twenty times per game.

So. Sad.