Sunday, August 26, 2012

Five Down

Five Down

These are five free agents with names we all know too well who have come to or at least very near the end of their NBA career.  Surprisingly, even though many of these guys are older and very little left in the tank, all five of these players have proven they can be effective in limited minutes.  However, their attitude has left teams scrambling to find less talented players who are hard working professionals.  Often NBA fans forget the importance of a good practice player and a helpful teammate.  But since all fans see are the actual games, this is to be expected.  Here is my list of 5 guys that are just about out the door.

Eddy Curry

If Andrew Bynum wants to know what his career will be like if he doesn’t take care of his body and just loafs around, just look to Eddy Curry.  What was once a young man with the potential to be the next Patrick Ewing is now a washed up, out shape, and unmotivated big looking to get a 4th “2nd chance.”  Even worse he isn’t even doing it for the right reasons.  Since his inability to ever come to camp in shape has illustrated a truly unmotivated player we can only assume he just wants to milk this cash cow as long as he can.  The man lacks both love for the game and a professional attitude. 

I would lack the sight to explain why any team would offer him a contract.  If a center can’t crack the rotation in Miami, it’s hard to see where they could.  I think his NBA days are done, but we’ll see.  Crazier things have happen.

Gilbert Arenas

Speaking of things a little crazier, enter Agent Zero.  One of my all-time favorite players to watch just doesn’t really have a place in the league anymore.  The days of hanging 60 on Kobe, in LA, are long over.  Arenas is an end of the bench kind of player who gets hired more for ticket sales (e.g. Hype) than actual expected on-court contributions.  However, Arenas offers very little else, so little, I think no one bits.  Terms like: “Leadership,” “having a coach on the court,” or even “works really well with our young guys” are all terms that have never been paired with Gilbert Arenas’ name.   

Although, I think Agent Zero is an all around good guy, his hope/desire/ability to contribute in other ways to help a team win seems lacking.  Terms like “drama,” “odd,” “selfish” are more commonly associated with Arenas.  I don’t know Gilbert personally, but if you believe birds of a feather flock together than it is interesting to acknowledge that Arenas’ most noteworthy NBA friendship as of recent has been Dwight Howard.

Tracy McGrady

McGrady is a player that proved over the last two years that he can be effective in very limited minutes.  The work he did playing the point-forward position in Detroit was a prime example of this.  His previous year in Atlanta was far less impressive.  Rumors following McGrady say he is not the best guy to share a locker room with.  I find this personally surprising as Tracy is usually a very delightful person in public, and most writers have only good things to say about him.

For too long McGrady has not been able to stick with a team.  I think he ends up on a team this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if all 32 teams take a pass.  If he does get a contract I expect this to be his final season.  An impressive career nonetheless.

Allen Iverson


Brian Scalabrine
The White Mamba, the true G.O.A.T, the Ginger Ninja, however you like it Brian Scalabrine is a cult icon in the NBA world.  I hear he still wants to play, but I think Scal leaves and cashes in on his fame.  He has been seen doing some commentating, and if he is good I could really seem him making a name for himself as an announcer.  He was a high draft choice, played on a championship team, but also has that average Joe feel if for nothing else then because he almost never played.  Rather he was always on the far outside trying to peer in with a telescope.  Other than for a practice player and a fan favorite I don’t see why a team would give Scalabrine a contract, and I think there is a chance he has a brighter future for him in media.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Five Up / Five Down

Five Up / Five Down
This is a two part look at ten guys whose names who are very well known, but are still on the free agency list.  Today we look at the five up who are five guys that will likely sign with a team in the near future. Part two will look at five guys whose tenure in the NBA looks just about up.

Five up   
Leandro Barbosa - SG/PG
The Brazilian Blur is still a quality player and if not for the new CBA keeping owners wallets tight he would probably already be on someone's roster.  Rumors have it that Barbosa is looking to cash in as much as possible, except the buyers are just not there. A lackluster Olympic and playoff performance is definity not helping either.

Hard to predict where he ends up at this point, but my best guess would be a young team looking for veterans that can still spark a crowd with a fast-paced brand of basketball. But thats pure speculation.  Although I think Barbosa would be the best on this list to succeed on an international team given how his style could make him a one man wrecking crew in the right league, I think he gives the NBA at least one more go.

Possible fits: Suns, Warriors, Sixers

Kenyon Martin - PF
Played well in limited minutes last year with the Clippers, but seems like a fit is hard to come by for Martin.  He wants quality minutes with a contending team, but isn't that what everyone is looking for? Guys like Antawn Jamison and Ray Allen took major pay cuts to play for a team where they thought they could help them win a championship.  Martin refused to take a pay or minutes cut early on and its left him on the outside looking in.  Don't be surprised if you see Martin on an international team this coming year.  There he can get what he wants, be just won't be contending for an NBA Championship. 

He has been rumored to be speaking to some international team in Greece, but nothing very positive has come out regarding the meeting.

Possible fits: Lakers, Knicks, International

Mickael Pietrus - SF
This is a guy that is good enough to be considered legit NBA player, but has never been good enough to stick long-term.  Plays pesky defense and has hit the three fairly consistently, but not much else.  He has the athletic ability to finish around the rim, but limited skills minimize his ability to do so.  A cold season last year has also put his shooting abilities into question.  Latest rumors has him wanting to stay in Boston, but won't sign for vet's min.  Seeing they have his Bird Rights and thus the most flexibility of any contender to offer him a bigger contract his "loyality" to Boston is not horribly surprising. 

Regardless, his so-so year with Boston, Jeff Greens official resigning, and a unwillingness to resign for a veteran minimum all point to Pietrus not being a part of the Celtics short or long-term plans.  I have a gut feeling he ends up on a rebuilding team like the Wizards who need a known professional that can step up and help a young team grow, but remain happy to take a back seat in the pursuit of development over wins; i.e take the money.  Also, rumor has it he has a big offer overseas, so he is no need to play for vets minimum if he just wants a pay check

Possible fits: Bucks, Wizards, Celtics

Derek Fisher - PG
Adding Fisher is like adding an assistant coach that can actually run on the court and play for short spurts.  We always saw what he could do for a team lie LA, but his time in OKC really showed that he can help a team win in so many ways.  This guy will end up on a playoff team looking for stability and in need of a combo guard to shore up any loose ends.
Possible fits: Spurs, Nets, Mavs
 Alonzo Gee - SF
Ok I admit that this was partially out of laziness.  Gee was a real pleasant surprise for a young Cavalier team that seems headed in the right track.  It seems preordained that Gee and Cleveland will come to an agreement.  Recent rumors have them negotiating a contract between 9-10 million dollars for three years.  It going to get done, both sides seem willing to hammer something and willing to take their time.  However, it might just take a bit of that...time.
Possible fits: Cleveland
Speaking of Cleveland, did you see what Irving did to Team USA before he got hurt?  Got Kobe twice in one play. Ouch!  Check it out, Click here! The kid has ridiculous handles.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Last Shot?


With a team comprised of 4 potential all-stars the question becomes far less concerned with who takes it, but rather who shouldn't and when.  Obviously LA has plenty of guys sitting on the bench that can easily be on the "if all else and then some fails" list, but that’s too easy.  The real question is who of the five guys you expect to be out there on the last play of the game are you most comfortable taking the that last shot.   

The quick answer is still Kobe Bean Bryant.  This man is a cold blooded killer regardless of how you break it down statistically (Check out "clutch" time statistics:  The fact remains Kobe can still score in an array of ways that are so patented that it often looks as much like a ballet as a man trying to break down his defender.

But now, more than ever, Kobe needs to pass up bad or maybe even just sub-par looks to the likes of Nash, Gasol, and even Howard when they are in a high percentage scoring position.  We have seen Kobe defer (although maybe not often enough) to Gasol, and more recently Bynum, plenty of times over the years, but low post guys don’t always have the skills to create good shots in a span of just a few seconds, hence leaving Bryant as the only player able to create his own shot on the fly.

With Nash on the team that’s just no longer true.  Lack of time is no longer an excuse with Nash who can pull up and even fade from just about anywhere on the court.  Additionally this is a guy who knows how to keep himself in the right places on the court.  Just out of a law of averages Kobe should see a decline on how often he is used in these situations.  With a two time MVP being the big reason why that fact is true, I doubt Kobe is going to make a fuss about making the "sacrifice."

However, just hoping Bryant gets a clean last second shot doesn't mean much.  Teams are still going to double him attempting to force him to give up the ball to the likes of Gasol or maybe Howard who are less effective under a short clock.  If the shot clock is in the 8+ range a guy like Gasol can be lethal because a) with time he can create his own shot and b) his soft touch leaves a guy like Howard with the ability to get a put back before the clock expires.  Of course this is again assuming the Lakers a down by two or less.

In a three point condition I would think Gasol would be best at the five with Jamison playing the four with Kobe, Nash, and at this point probably Meeks unless MWP or someone else is just hot from deep.  Howards best asset with the clock winding down would be his put-back abilities, but down by three unless you expect him to rebound/tip it back to a teammate for another 3pt attempt his skills are primarily useless at this point.  A defense might even go Hack-A-Howard, stopping them from even attempting a good shot. 

By the way Laker fans, welcome back the "Brick Party" that Shaq was hosting at the Staples free-throw line for all those years.  I know you'll take it for a player like Howard, and more so for Shaq, but those blood chilling "CLINGS" will bring back flashbacks like none other… for better or worse.

Under this account so far, there only remains Howard who seems at this point to bring as much positive as negative.  Statistically speaking if Howard is a 50% shooter at the stripe (a very generous number) his odds of scoring one point is 50% and only 25% that he makes both.  Kobe, Gasol, or Nash will all likely have a much better chance statistically shooting a FG than chancing Howard at the line to make two. 

But one big thing Howard does bring is he can really be a dangerous threat to do a last second tip in, which by my personal account wins a lot of last second games.  Lastly, according to Orlando had five players in the top ten best +/- number during crunch time.  Maybe you can blame it on the skills Redick, Anderson, and Turkoglu (ranked 2,3, and 4 respectively) have as shooters, or (and more likely) that Howard made those guys around him that much better.

In sum, we should agree from a non-ego-managing viewpoint, each of the Lakers "Big Four" have situations where they could, and should, be the player taking the last shot.  However, it's ironic that the player who sticks out as the least effective player is the same player who left Orlando because he wanted to be the guy with the rock when it mattered most.

Most important to any fan is that the Lakers have so many options is about diminishing the least effective ones for the most effective.  This is going to be tricky, and Mike Brown has a lot to prove, but any coach in history would love to have his problem.